DunJohns and Dragons
Man spreads across the earth, fashioning great kingdoms and fortresses. Dwarves hollow out whole mountain ranges, securing riches and honing their craft in glimmering, gilded halls. Hidden from most, elves flourish within pristine forests, abiding their inscrutable laws and customs and fashioning objects of power and beauty in edifices that know not the decay of time. These civilized races intermingle, sharing culture, trade, comradeship, and rarely, on the illest of hours, conflict.
And yet, when looked down upon with the eyes of a god, they are but minuscule clusters defying a largely untamed and unexplored world. Human expeditions into the uncharted often return in tatters. Promising frontier settlements with burgeoning populations are reduced to piles of ash and bone in a fortnight. Even dwarven bravery falters when a party delves too deep into the black unknown of the earth. There are woods no elf can bare to reside in for long, and places even the oldest and wisest of the race have no inkling of.
For some, this only kindles their drive to expand and explore. If danger and untold horrors lurk mere hundreds of fathoms away, what dwells beyond them? Lost civilizations, treasures, secrets into the history of the world, even the gods themselves? Or perhaps it is simple; the farther one travels from the light and warmth of home, the deeper they wade into darkness, until all one can glimpse is alien and hostile.