Once, the world was young, and a sight to behold. It was an age when stories were everywhere. Lord Janvis of Coldcastle sent out the Eight Knights to do war against the giants of the mountains, Nial the Clever tricked the Wyrm of Bybliopolis out of it's golden wings, and the Emperor's palace buckled under the wealth of men, elves, dwarves, and all the known races. A man could walk from one end of the realm to the other and fear no man or monster. The sun shone, rain fell hard and sweet, and the crops grew tall and bountiful. The Emperor commanded a hundred thousand gleaming swords to fend off the brutish warlords and ferocious monster, and ordered his wizards to cast wards that no demon from the deepest hell dared to break, even if any of the fiends could have broken them.
Now, that doesn't happen. You live in a backwater province, but even the most sleepy parts of the Empire have felt sharp decline. It seems like the world is falling in on itself, like a crumbling tower. Creatures are seen at night that look like nothing anyone has ever seen, and people are going missing. It seems like there hasn't been a competent emperor for as long as even the graybeards can remember. The southern barbarians are bound to unite sooner or later, and when they do it's likely that they'll overwhelm the Empire's exhausted armies. Most of the mages huddle in their guildhalls, spinning spells to prepare for the worst. Clerics cry out to their gods, and strange new cults spring up like mushrooms in a fetid swamp, worshiping gods or demons that make no promises beyond the order in which people shall die.
But you don't have really have time to fall into despair. Instead you fight, be it for honor or coin or the greater good. Over time, you've become a specialist in a very narrow kind of warfare. One that's fought in tight quarters against evil creatures, with just a few like-minded companions. You walk in the dark places facing things that no race was ever meant to see, waging a desperate battle, and scraping together coin for the next dance with death. It's a simple creed you live by. Kill Monsters, Take Their Stuff.