It was ten years ago, in the 530th year of the Imperial Calendar (I.C.) that the Divine Empire of Tyran began their assault upon Ostaria. Warships from the sea harried the capital of Ostar, drawing attention from the smaller ground forced that marched through the mountain pass at the other end of the small nation. The mixed peoples of Halm, the halflings of Millton, and the humans of Brighton had little defense and fell almost immediately to the advancing armies. Most people thought themselves safe behind the mountains which shielded them from orger civilizations. Erstwood and Lothan, being fortified human towns put up a stronger defense. They too fell within the first year of the initial assault. The capital of Ostar managed to defend against the seige for another year. Supplies ran thin while hunger and suffering spread through the entrapped populace. 532 I.C. brought the official surrender of Ostaria to the Empire. King Edmont Aurelius Oscar IV was hanged in the public square after his queen was shipped to Tyran, the Imperial capital, to serve as a war trophy for the Emperor. Their only daughter remains in Ostar under the watchful eye of the installed governor, Lord Nathaniel Damien. By 540 I.C. (game start) the Empire's control over Ostaria has been considered stabilized. The people continue on with their lives while carrying the burdens of heavy taxes. Those found guilty of a crime, or even merely accused by people of sufficient influence, suffer extreme sentences and frequently face cruel and unusual punishments limited only by the imagination and stomach of the wardens. Speaking ill of the empire in front of the wrong people could see your tongue removed. While traditional deity worship has not been outlawed, the Empire has been encouraging the populace to view the Emperor as a sort of God-King and have even begun building or comandeering temples for the purpose including a massive Cathedral in region. Feeling little threat from the natives of Ostaria, the majority of the Imperial forces have been moved out of the area to focus on other campaigns. Foreign mercenaries are known to frequently supplement small Imperial units when needed. Oppression is felt most heavily in the capital and grows weaker the further you get from Ostar.
Boasting nearly ten thousand residents, Ostar is the small yet rather wealthy capital city of Ostaria. Being one of the few favored ports for ships to resupply before ocean-bound voyages has brought a greater degree of wealth than one would normally associate with a city of its size. This very success is it what drew the eyes of the Empire upon the nation. When Lord Damien arrived to serve as governor, a number of wealthy Imperial nobles came with him. Over time, these nobles have usurped or put down the most successful business in the city and have claimed their wealth for themselves. Only smaller businesses and a very few larger ventures remain in the hands of Ostarian natives, a fact that continues to build an unspoken tension between old residents and new.
The village of Brighton has its roots as an agricultural settlement supplementing Ostar's once fast growing population. While a good amount of agriculture still thrives in Brighton, it now draws more success and recognition as a caravan town. Located on the crossroads between Halm, Erstwood, and Ostar allows it to cater to merchants and caravans travelling within the interior lands of Ostaria. Holding a populace of around eight hundred in the village proper and outlying farmsteads, Brighton is the second largest settlement in the country. Despite extreme punishment if caught, issues with bandits and brigands in the countryside have only grown worse since the land came under Imperial control.
This fortified village of four hundred supports itself largely with supplying lumber to the rest of the nation. Formerly the second largest settlement in Ostaria, the populace of Erstwood was decimated when it attempted to dig in and fight off the Imperial forces. An uneasy peace remains in place between elves who live deeper in the woodlands and the citizens of Erstwood. Thinly veiled threats arise when the village gets too greedy with the lumber harvest. The villagers are happy for now to ease up on the harvest when such tensions arise. With the bulk of their militia being young and inexperienced, they would prefer to focus on their mutual enemy. A tribe of goblins which has taken to the woodlands north and northeast of Erstwood.
This settlement of less than one hundred is the smallest community in Ostaria. Previously a mixed community of humans and elves, the size of the town has temporarily doubled to nearly two hundred as slave labor was brought in for the construction of a cathedral dedicated to the Emperor. There is little information about why such a thing would be built in Halm. Feeding the imported labor, as well as the Imperial overseers who tend to eat as kings, has put a lot of strain on the locals. Strict rationing has been put in place on the very people responsible for growing and tending to the food. To further trouble these people, an illness known as the Slow Burn has taken root amidst locals and slaves alike. Halm is the hometown of the players and the location the game will be starting from.
The Canton of Millton is a small halfling community that has lived in the region for as long as anyone, or any history books for that matter, can say. Peaceful and relaxed, the halflings had willingly joined under the Ostarian banner as the nation's influence spread westward. The small folk quickly buckled under pressure from Imperial forces, more from the realization that they would not stand a chance than from any real desire. Today Millton remains in cheerful spirits to the outside observer, however any resident would tell you that the cheer comes difficult and merely masks today's problems with the whimsical memories of yesteryear.
The town of Lothan met its end six years ago in what non-imperials tend to call the Lothan Massacre. Ostarian loyalists that had been fighting for two years after the official submission of the nation to the Empire had been pushed westward. They took refuge in the fortified village to lick their wounds and regroup. Imperial forces however sent the bulk of the occupying force at the time to stomp out the last of the resistance. Not only did they soundly defeat the loyalists, they continued to put every man, woman, and child in town to the sword to serve as an example to the rest of the nation. At present day, the ruins of Lothan remain untouched. Rumors speak of an evil atmosphere. Those who venture there return to speak of feeling ill, suffering chills, and experiencing goosebumps despite warm days and strong health. A few even speak of restless spirits and the walking dead.
Continent of Marouhn
Marouhn is a large continent of relatively young nations in the span of history. Ruins of older civilizations dot the land, and barbaric ancestors from some of those very peoples roam the warmer northern regions of the continent. The northern half also boasts a number of elven, halfling, goblin, and giant inhabitants. The southern regions is almost entirely human dominated with a minor dwarven presence in both Dorn and the Winterlands. Large elven tribes once inhabited the south as well. In 300 I.C. when the Empire decided that it would not only control the lands but history as well, many of these tribes were hunted with any elf though to be older than the Empire being exterminated. Small bands still inhabit Bloodroot Forest and even fewer still live in The Ghostwood. Most of those not slain by the Empire moved North to join tribes in Ironwood Forest, a few even settling among friendly humans in Ostaria, Duskfall, and Santhis.
The birthplace of the Empire. Tyran still holds title as the Imperial capital. The Emperor is said to have ruled from this city since the founding of the empire, which would make him several centuries old. Citizens of this nation enjoy special priveledge compared to those of neighboring cities. Peasants of Tyran are still often viewed as weak and replaceable, however even their concerns tend to come before all but the wealthiest and most influential of occupied lands.
This frigid region was once controlled by a number of smaller lords known at The Winter Kings. In 80 I.C. these lands were the first to be assaulted by the ambitious empire that was formed in Tyran only decades earlier.
A mixed nation of humans and dwarves, Dorn has long been a haven of industry despite a lesser population than it's neighbors. After almost two centuries of peace between itself and the Empire, Dorn suddenly found itself under assault in 190 I.C. The surface was quickly subjugated. The subterranean fortresses of Dorn faired better, but were ultimately brought low by decades of attrition.
This coastal city witnessed the fall of neighboring Dorn and began fortifying immediately. In 244 I.C., 40 years after the surrender of Dorn, Lunia fell under assault as well. Boasting a larger and better trained military taking advantage of a fortified position, they successfully held off enemy advances for decades. The Empire reveled in the war and seemed more than content with a worthy foe. Lunia's surrender came in 275 I.C.
The Forbidden Kingdom
Immediately following the fall of Lunia in 275, the Empire pressed onto their next foe while still feeling the rush of victory. Joined by defectors from Lunia, this new foe boasted not only a strong defensive military but a wealth of arcane might lent by the elven mages of The Ghostwood. War raged in the region until somewhere around 413 I.C. when a huge magical catastrophe wiped out the majority of both sides of the conflict. This region is even now twisted and charred by the remnants of powerful arcane magic. The undead gather here and the wilds are hunted by countless more dangerous creatures and abberations. After the catastrophe, the Empire has made it illegal to speak the name of this former nation. Punishment is often the removal of tongue. Writings and history about the war are burned and destroyed when found. Great efforts have been taken to remove this apparent failure from history. The Empire then turned inward and lived peacefully with it's neighbors for over a hundred years before returning to war.
Duskfall and Santhis
These cities remain free of Imperial control, for now. Both boast strong militaries and have formed alliances in order to supply mutual aid against Imperial aggression. Duskfall is a wealthy and populous nation benefitting from fertile lands and a rich sea trade. Santhis boasts a substantial number of sorcerors and wizards and is ruled over and protected by a family of silver dragons. Always mistrustful of the long peace, these nations did not trust the empire to learn it's lesson from a single failed war and have remained ready to become the targets themselves. Skirmishes with the Empire have been common since 530 I.C. when Tyran returned to its path of blood.