There are two types of places in this world. There's us, the honest, hard-working citizens of Nibenor -- and of course those foreigners who live further to the south and the east, those with dark skin who sail the seas! Let's not forget them. But this is about us. You, me, everyone we know. We're normal, right? Most of us abide the law and pay tithes to the king, we go to church and worship the gods. Our ploughs work the land, flocks of domesticated cattle and sheep graze our beautiful, open fields of grass and we prosper. Some of us live in small, countryside villages like Monk's Creek and Hackdirt. Others... well, most, really, live in big cities, some more grandiose than others, but all fine places with plenty of work available for everyone. The markets have goods from all over Nibenor and sometimes even beyond. Especially in our capital, Montgarde, any enterprising citizen can find all the goods our kingdom has to offer. Our king, Hieronymo II, is a just, beloved ruler and we have expanded our influence significantly under his guidance.
But not towards the north or the west. That's where the second type of place can be found. We call it the Forest, because that's what it is. A thick, oppressing, seemingly endless forest of trees that grow tall but stoop low, blotting out the sky with the thick canopy. It is always twilight there and there's something... strange about it. It's just not right. Weird beasts stalk those woods, howling and shrieking in the dark. Only few of us have entered those woods for any significant length of time and those that have say that it feels like they're always being watched in there.
That's not all though. People live there too. In the Forest, I mean. As far as we know, we're separate groups of people entirely; in all of recorded history, they have been strangers to us. And strange they are. Taller, paler, with gaunt faces and eyes that pierce the soul, dressed in cloaks and garments that shimmer in the night... if the stories are true, of course. We used to see them very rarely. They apparently don't like us entering the Forest -- something that took several tense situations to deduce, considering they don't speak our language and we don't speak theirs. If they talk at all, that is, which we're not sure of. Despite being unable to converse with them we somehow know they're ruled by a monarch called the King in Yellow. Whether that's a title for their ruler in general or it refers specifically to one of their kings in ancient history, we don't know. It's written on an old scroll in the Royal Library of Montgarde that details the knowledge we had of the Woodsmen, as they were known then, almost 500 years ago. But other than that, we know absolutely nothing of their culture or their society.
And then they started venturing into Nibenor. It first happened almost a year ago. A small town by name of Wintervale, close to the border of the Forest in the high north of Nibenor, was visited by a group of Woodsmen. The survivors counted somewhere between four or six of them. What's that? Yes, the survivors. Wintervale was destroyed and most of the population killed. Being so far up north it wasn't garrisoned by the Royal Army so any resistance from the townsfolk would have been pitiful at best, but... it still doesn't make sense that as little as six men were able to reduce a town with a population of almost two-hundred to ashes. It just shouldn't be possible.
The survivors talked of magic. That's all I will say about that.
Raids like these became increasingly more frequent along the border of the Forest over the course of the past year. The Royal Army has lost most skirmishes with the Woodsmen, even though the Woodsmen were always outnumbered. The soldiers say the same thing the survivors of Wintervale said: magic.
I believe them. I also believe that we're on the brink of a war... one that I'm afraid we won't win, friend. Look, I won't pretend to understand what the reason behind this sudden aggression is, but the only thing that makes sense is a prelude for war. Why else would they suddenly fight us? Perhaps they've become jealous of Nibenor, who knows.
But you are crazy. Why else would you want to go into the Forest?
Under the cover of the approaching war, seeing their opportunity now that the Woodsmen are distracted, a small posse of adventurers and freelancers from Nibenor band together in attempt to scour the Forest for riches or treasures or anything of value. That's us! Just ordinary people from good old Nibenor. Think medieval continental Europe but not Christian (Nibenor has its own pantheon). Rogue knights, scoundrels, tomb raiders, thieves... none of us can do magic, of course, because that stuff doesn't exist as far as we know. We're just here for the gold.