Bet You Thought Etc.
Maybe the Inquisition sent you, maybe you came seeking the Inquisition. Maybe you fell out of a rift into this world last week and are still just trying to find your feet. However it happened, early fall finds you in the Hinterlands. Tucked between Ferelden's massive Lake Calenhad and the icy Frostback Mountains, the Hinterlands are a hilly region covered in patchy forests and small farms trying to eke out a living between the boulders. Though somewhat remote, the area is rich with game and minerals and home to Redcliffe, a bustling town on a busy trade route.
The Inquisition has set up several camps and sent personnel to try to restore order to the region, unwilling to let it slip into chaos. There's a lot to be done, some of it straightforward killing bad things, some of it weird and nebulous morale-building.
There is a dragon in the Hinterlands. Everyone knows this. It's difficult not to notice when a dragon flies overhead with a mouth full of screaming sheep (alas, the poor dead sheep) or scorches your fishing boat and makes you swim for it (alas, the poor soaked fishermen). But she's only rarely sighted, and her lair is as of yet unknown, if "yet" is defined as "the moment before this exact moment, right now." Because you've found her. She is, at this very moment, screeching so loud it rattles the cliff sides that are trapping you in her territory and raining fire down over the only clear path of escape. She and her two dozen children don't care if you only wanted some elfroot and spindleweed. They also don't care if you have a sword. You look way more delicious and less woolly than a sheep.
In the year since the Inquisition's formation, the Crossroads have changed. Most of the refugees from the Mage/Templar War have moved on--if not back home, to new places--and there's been some progress rebuilding the homes and fortresses ruined by the war. Very few people are still living in caves. But rather than quieting down, the Crossroads have begun to bustle. Between the Inquisition's locally stationed forces and the increasing number of travelers and merchants now that the roads are safer, there's enough business to support a tavern with a few rooms for rent, and the Crossroads are becoming a trading post in their own right rather than a dot of houses on the path to Redcliffe--a great place to stop for a drink, to buy basic weaponry, or to unload all of the bear skins you've collected.
You have turned the wrong corner, forded the wrong stream, crested the wrong hill, entered the wrong cave. Maybe you are far from camp. Maybe you are in camp. Whatever has happened, wherever you are: you are being chased by bears. Did you provoke the bears? Are they huge? Babies? Fade-touched? Mage-controlled? What are they chasing you away from? What are they chasing you into? What do you plan to make out of their hide if you kill them? What do you think they'll craft out of your hide if they kill you?
Members and trusted agents of the Inquisition are given access to one of the Inquisition's stores of ancient, mysterious sending crystals, allowing them to communicate instantaneously by voice. It's magic. And a magical excuse to ask everyone what their favorite constellation is in the middle of the night.
Or to call for help because you've been treed by bears.
Choose your own adventure! Hunt game, kill demons, gather herbs, track bandits, haggle over the price of armor, fall off a deceptively tall rock, get lost circling the same hill ten times trying to find a way up to the weird glowing skull on a stick you can see is up there, climb trees or abandoned towers, rummage around in empty homes, run from a dragon, cry over how cute that fennec fox you just shot was, set up camp and chat around the fire, knock yourself out (figuratively, or even literally if that's more your speed)-- the Hinterlands are your Frostback Mountain oyster.