The World as it is:
There was a time when bright empires held dominion over all the realms of the world. A time when the secrets of the many planes were made clear, and the mortal races persisted in a gentle kind of harmony. But in time, this peace began to fail, and mortal nature overcame mortal benevolence. Arcana of the hidden and far realms were sought in blind ambition, tolerance gave way to xenophobia, and gentle harmony was laid to waste by brutal violence.
Dark pacts were forged by the foolish and ambitious; wars were brokered by the greedy and callous; and innocence was given to strife as chattel to the slaughter. Empires fell, strife reigned, and a Dark Age fell upon this world whose lies forgotten in that dead age of wonder.
The centuries passed, and the horrors brought upon the mortal races gradually remitted. The mortal races, huddled together in mutual survival began to hew from the darkened wilderness new civilizations. It has been a millennium, at least, since the fall from the glorious days of yore.
The world is not as bleak and drear as it once was, though life is by no stretch easy. The monstrous races collude to impose their own despotic ways of life upon the mortal races, the unliving stalk the realm feasting upon the unwary, dragons of the chromatic wing seek to tyrannize those in their domain, and aberrations from the far realms wreck terrible chaos and madness upon those unfortunates that chance upon them.
The world is in need of heroes…if not to lead it into a new bright age, then at least to stave off oblivion for another generation or so. And from a tiny point of light in an elsewise benighted world, a tale of such heroes begins.