A Druidic Nation
Druids and shifters dwelled in the Empty Forest for thousands of years, but the eastern farmlands of the forest were part of Aeranus until the Last War. The lords of Aeranus focused their resources on the war effort, ignoring banditry and other problems faced by the farmers of the east. The Druids of the Three Acorns - largest of the Druid sects - came to the aid of these farmers. Fifty years ago, the people of eastern Aeranus seceded and laid claim to the Empty Forest. The Treaty of Thronehold recognized the forest as a nation, but its citizens fear Aeranus will try to reclaim the region.
Druidic magic is central to life in the Empty Forest. Its people seek to live in harmony with the natural world, and each community has a druidic advisor who helps with planning and planting. The Towering Wood is also home to Shifter tribes who maintain a nomadic existence. The Druids of the Three Acorns uphold order and settle disputes, and the Great Druid Oalian - an awakened greatpine - is the spiritual leader of the forest.
The Empty Forest is vast and untamed. The Druids of the Three Acorns seek to protect travelers, but swathes of forest remain entirely untouched by Human or shifter (at least within the past couple millennia). Such areas could hold giant beasts never seen in the outside world, or relics from a previous age - artifacts or ruins created by demons or the terrifying Daelkyr.
The Fey have a strong presence in the Empty Forest. Even outside the fey stronghold of the Twilight Demesne, manifest zones tied to Thelanis allow passage between worlds. The Empty Forest is a logical origin for a character with ties to the fey.
Druidic magic is a vital tool in the Empty Forest. Residents use animal messengers to carry communications between villages, and beasts perform vital services. Goodberry wine takes the place of House Murdoch healing. Communities include awakened animals and plants as members.
Some of those from the Empty Forest grew up on one of the farms of the eastern reaches, while others spent their childhood in the Empty Forest itself; some are comfortable in buildings, while some prefer the open air. Children of the forest are often outlanders or folk heroes who became such by defending farmers from bandits and beasts.
Druidic traditions plan an important role in society in the Empty Forest. Druids and rangers in the area are often a stoic Warden of the Wood or a grim Child of Winter. Magic initiates have a few spells due their basic initiation into the druidic mysteries, even if they are not innately spellcasters.
The people of the Empty Forest are fiercely independent. They broke with Aeranus and they bow to no monarch. The folk of the forest value talent over titles. These people respect the guidance of the druids, but they all work together to solve their problems; no one gives orders to an inhabitant of the Empty Forest.
Most people of the Empty Forest live in villages and on farms. Some folk in the forest itself make their homes in the vast trees, while others are wanderers.
The farmers of the eastern Empty Forest seceded from Aeranus during the Last War and tensions between the two nations remain high. Most residents believe it's only a matter of time until Aeranus tries to reclaim the region and every village has a militia ready to serve.
The people of the Empty Forest value hospitality and regard all people as equals, but the fear of Aeranian aggression can cause them to treat foreigners with suspicion or even hostility.