The Approaching Storm
In the far northeastern reaches of Avistan, the land and its people become harsh and unforgiving. Winters are long and deadly here, forcing common folk to scratch out a meager existence farming the near frozen soil and fishing its rivers and lakes during an all too-short spring and summer. All the while, the lords of the land plot in their keeps and strongholds, jealously eyeing their neighbors’ domains. This is the nation of Brevoy.
The northern half of Brevoy consists of the once independent nation of Issia. A stark landscape of sparsely vegetated, rugged hills, the region exhibits a uniformly poor quality of the soil that makes it nearly impossible to grow anything here. The people live primarily on fish from the Lake of Mists and Veils, a diet supplemented by food shipped up from Rostland or areas farther south. In centuries past, the people of Issia were infamous raiders, and their river-raiding craft were feared along the length of the Sellen. South of the Gronzi Forest lies Rostland, a vast rolling plain of fertile grasslands, dotted with farms and small villages, and serving as breadbasket of the north and homeland of the Aldori swordpact.
On the whole, Issians are a reclusive and enigmatic bunch. Each village has its own traditions dating back hundreds of years. Outsiders find themselves distrusted and shunned. Rumors of bloody rituals and human sacrifice remain unsubstantiated, but in the faraway cities of Restov and New Stetven, people whisper that the true masters of Issia remain hidden beneath the waters of the Lake of Mists and Veils, emerging in the dead of night to strike terrible bargains with the villagers.
The people of Rostland are mainly farmers, craftsmen, and tradesmen. Most are outgoing, happy, and welcoming of strangers—as long as the strangers are willing to conform to the local customs, of which there are many. This apparent welcome is somewhat misleading, however, as the people of Rostland are obsessed with honor and personal standing, and take offense at the slightest provocation. One wrong word is likely to find the offender in front of the local magistrate or facing a prospective duel. But if outsiders take the trouble to learn their customs, Rostlanders prove to be fast friends and staunch allies.