A Brief History
‘Polite’ human civilization reached a peak, then plateaued. Over the span of a century, the primary human began blaming the demi-humans and darker creatures for their lack of expansion. They accused the elves and dwarves of hiding resources, and access to foreign territories. For over a generation, the humanoids retreated from the lands to bide their time. Eventually the high elves withdrew from the known world, then the grey elves; never to be seen by man again. Their existence is but a distant legend. Sylvan and Hairfeet halflings retreated into the Celadon and Phostwood forests, and the dwarves to their underground fortresses. After the forces of good divided themselves, the dark times came.
Out of Pomarj, from the north and from the west boiled hordes of humanoids. Iuz, it was revealed, had systematically recruited or exterminated the northern nomads over the previous generations. Monstrous beasts and horrors, under infernal and demonic control, swept the lands west of Nyr Dyv. The forces of good fought well, and the battles raged over a decade, but the forces of evil had grown too strong. Kingdoms and Duchies fell as the forces of darkness made their way east.
At the rivers below Nyr Dyv, the armies of the Great Empire met the horde from the west. Biased scholars call what happened next ‘The Great Betrayal’, others celebrate the diplomatic solution. Regardless of the motivations, the Great Empire made it’s peace with the dark horde, and divided the world. Lands west of the Bandit Kingdoms and Cairne Hills were to be uncontested by the Empire, while lands east would be Imperial. The war was over, but consolidation was just as terrible.
At the beginning of the consolidation period, the Great Empire did not actualy control all the lands of the east, but they did have a peace accord granting the territory, and an army of unprecidented size. Those that resisted were crushed, and in short oder, the various kingdoms of the mainland south of barrens and barbarian wastes became vassals of the Emperor. Onnwal and the Scarlet Brotherhood remained independent, and then, Ratik and Tenh have gained a measure of effective self rule, paying only nominal lip-service to the Imperial capital. The other territories were carved up into provinces and marches, and are firmly under Imperial control even today.
Meanwhile, the west faired no better. Without strong opposition, the surviving generals began their squabble for the spoils of war. Iuz quickly gained control over the north – from the Dramidj to the Imperial border, and south to the Crystal River. The subsequent campaigns in Vesve Forest and beneath the Clatspur range raged for centuries, but in the end, the defenders fell to the might of Iuz. Many of Iuz’s greatest generals and legends come from that military campaign. Today, a few nomad tribes maintain a tenuous hold in the Burneal Forest, and a few mountaineering villages scrape out an existence in the valleys of the Yatils.
In the south, the demon princelet Cositif surprised his allies by laying claim to the ancient Keoland lands and regions south. The Sea Princes were driven to their island, and constant naval raiding back and forth keep both sides on their toes. After the withdraw of the elves, the former states of the region fell under evil sway rather easily. The former states of Keoland, Geoff, Sterich, the Yeomanry, Grand March and the Duchy and County of Ulek are all under the manipulative thumb of the demon.
The remaining lands of the west are under the control of a vast cabal rumored to be headed by a mysterious council. A rigid bureaucracy controls the rich region between those held by Iuz and Cositif, from Cairn Hills to the Lorridges. The crown jewel of this region is the city of Sundar, alternately known as Gnarlmark, the home to the Imperial College of Magic. The city itself is definitely under the thumb of the mages, but they are assumed to be under the thumb of the cabal.
Other interesting regions:
The Valley of the Mage has resisted all advances, and in point of fact may have completely withdrawn from the known world. No one is known to have passed into or out of the Valley in the last five hundred years. Of course there have been attempts, but none are known to have ever returned.
The March of Bissel, was once a fairly pleasant, if rugged place on the Keoland frontier. Battles were hard fought here, and in the end the land was left blasted. There are a few independent communities on the banks of the Realstream River where a few crops can be grown, but the land is otherwise blighted. The soil itself has predominately washed away to lower lands, leaving only lichen, and a few fungus in the region.
*Ket *was spared the horrors that swept the rest of the land, and it protected the realms further west. Ironically it was the foes Ket had been fighting for generations that swept across the lowlands, leaving her to fortify the valleys that much stronger. Ket still deals with the occasional incursion, but with Bissel all but impassable and easier pickings elsewhere, the state enjoys unprecedented peace. Unfortunately she also lost her gilding as trade through the region has very nearly dried up to nothing.
The Bandit Kingdoms and Principality of Ulek have descended into anarchy. No major power has claimed them, and every tribal chief or bandit hero who enjoys a bit of success and seeks to operate independently attempts to carve out chunk of territory of his own. The result is a constant froth of violence. The lands are littered with hastily constructed fortifications, and ruins. Travellers rarely make it far along the paths without attracting the attention of the numerous bandits operating in the region.
Lesser known aspects of the history of the last millennium.
In the opening years of the last great battles, the brothers Celestian and Fharlanghn were separated from their followers. It isn’t known if they were killed or otherwise driven from the Prime Material, or if they were somehow imprisoned. They’re followers were systematically hunted by the forces of evil and exterminated. Neither deity has any following.
At some point during that century, it is believed that the divine entities of Iuz and St. Cuthbert were in direct conflict. It is not know what form that conflict took, but it is commonly believed that St. Cuthbert was somehow deceived and defeated. St. Cuthbert’s loss was Iuz’s gain.