Rise of Nations
Capital: New Stetven (population 32,850)
Notable Settlements: Grayhaven (population 5,880), Port Ice (population 13,260), Restov (population 18,670), Skywatch (population 6,590), Winterbreak (population 5,480)
Ruler: King Noleski Surtova
Government: Hereditary Monarchy
Languages: Common, Draconic, Hallit, Skald, Varisian
Religions: Abadar, Erastil (rare), Gorum, Pharasma
From the towering spires of the Ruby Fortress, King Noleski Surtova looks out across a nation divided. For most of the last 200 years, the descendants of Choral the Conqueror led the various people of two formally separate (and vastly different) nations, welding them together to forge the nation of Brevoy. Now Choral’s descendants are gone, and cracks are appearing that threaten to tear apart the nation and plunge its people into a sea of fire and blood.
Brevoy was formed just over two centuries when a mysterious Iobarian warlord named Choral the Conqueror forged a new nation, with the help of his red dragon allies, out of two neighboring rivals. Despite its new status as a major northern power and the efforts of Choral’s descendants in House Rogarvia, these two regions retained much of the character and national identity they had as independent nations. All of that changed 10 years ago, when every member of House Rogarvia vanished without a trace or explanation. Stripped of its rulers and its only uniting force, Brevoy now stands on the brink of civil war.
Choral the Conqueror
In 4499 AR, the Iobarian warlord Choral Rogarvia, known as “the Conqueror,” crossed the Lake of Mists and Veils with a considerable force under his command. Lord Nikos Surtova of Issia met with the Conqueror on the shores of the lake under a flag of truce, and there the two men worked out an agreement whereby Issia would surrender its land and people to the Conqueror but the Surtovas would retain their power and wealth, serving the new ruler as stewards and duly sworn vassal lords.
The Aldori swordlords of Rostland, with their history of resisting bandit raiders, were not so willing to bend their necks to a foreign conqueror. They immediately rallied for war and secured their strongholds south of Lake Reykal. Yet the fractious and individualistic swordlords were no match for the discipline and tactics of Choral’s forces. The most memorable conflict between the Rostlandi and Choral’s armies is known as the Massacre at the Valley of Fire, and somber songs of swordlord Estruan Aldori’s defeat remain a popular aspect of folk culture. After annihilating the Rostlandi army there in a storm of dragonfire, Choral’s red dragons turned their attention to Rostland itself, and initiated a brutal onslaught of flame and blood that brought the once-proud nation to its knees. In only a handful of days, the people of Rostland surrendered to Choral the Conqueror as a way to save its culture and traditions from eradication.
The Conqueror sat only briefly on the Dragonscale Throne of the new nation he forged, soon leaving his family to rule in his name. For two centuries, the Rogarvias held the Ruby Fortress and ruled from New Stetven, pacifying minor uprisings and rebellions, and working to weld two disparate lands into one. Under Rogarvian rule, the nation came to be known as Brevoy and grew into a significant northern power. Yet even the greatest of dynasties do not last forever.
In the middle of winter in early 4699 AR, every member of House Rogarvia vanished without a trace. Rumors flew of palace coups and sinister plots, but it quickly became clear that what had occurred was something altogether stranger than a mere rebellion. There was no evidence of foul play or struggle within the royal palace, nor in any of the noble villas owned by the Rogarvias throughout the land— the nobles were simply gone, leaving empty manors scattered across Brevoy. A brief period of chaos and panic followed, but by the end of the year, the Surtovas had made their move. Citing their age-old ties with the Conqueror’s line, they were quick to seize power in New Stetven and extend their reach across Brevoy. With all of Issia seemingly backing the move, Rostland (whose standing army and defenses had increasingly shifted north during Rogarvian rule) had little choice but to acquiesce, yet it remains to be seen how long King Noleski Surtova can maintain his rule over a kingdom grown increasingly fractious.
The northern half of Brevoy was once the independent nation of Issia. A twisted landscape of rugged hills covered only with scrub and scree, the uniformly poor quality of the soil makes it nearly impossible to grow anything here. The people live mostly on the fish they can catch, a diet supplemented only by food shipped up from Rostland or areas further south. In centuries past, the people of Issia were infamous raiders, and their river-raiding craft were feared along the whole length of the Sellen, all they way to the Verduran forest.
For more than a thousand years, the Surtovas have ruled Issia. The family of pirates and scoundrels has retained an iron grip on Issia ever since it beat all the other pirates and scoundrels into submission. Collectively, the Surtovas are known as crafty schemers. Lacking both natural resources and a large population, Issia has never possessed anything like a mighty military force, but it usually survives by outsmarting its enemies. When Choral and his dragons arrived, the Surtovas surrendered immediately and were therefore spread the retribution that nearly destroyed their southern neighbors in Rostland. Since that day, the family worked, slowly and carefully, to advance its position in the royal hierarchy of Brevoy— a diligence that paid off when the Rogarvias disappeared. Many suspect the Surtovas are somehow behind the mysterious disappearance, as no sooner had the Rogarvias vanished than the Surtovas began consolidating their grip on the throne.
On the whole, Issians remain 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 far-away 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 the night to strike terrible bargains with the villagers.
South of the Gronzi Forest lies a vast rolling plain of fertile grasslands, dotted with farms and small villages. This is Rostland, breadbasket of the north and home of the Aldori swordpact.
Centuries ago, the Taldan colonists who founded Rostland arrived in the north under the leadership of Baron Sirian First, a fiery, impulsive noble forced to emigrate from Taldor after losing one too many duels. In the early days of the colony, bandits struck from hidden camps in the River Kingdoms, nearly destroying the budding colony before it had a chance to get started. The bandit leader himself was a master swordsman and challenged the baron to a wager: half the baron’s fortune against the bandit’s head. Unable to pass up the challenge, Baron First took the wager and was broadly humiliated by an ignoble defeat. After he paid the bandit, he disappeared. Most assumed he had fled somewhere, too ashamed to show his face after such a drubbing.
Therefore, people were surprised when the baron returned several years later a changed man, a swordsman like the world had never seen before. Calling himself Sirian Aldori, he promptly challenged the bandit lord to a rematch, whereupon he disarmed and defeated the bandit in seconds. Reestablishing his rule, Baron Aldori issued an open challenge of 100,000 gp to anyone who could beat him in a battle of blades. Thousands from around the world flocked to Rostland to answer his challenge. Some were earnest and honorable duelists, while others tried to cheat with magic or other tricks. It didn’t matter. Sirian defeated them all, forever cementing his reputation as the greatest swordsman in the world.
At first, Sirian refused to teach any his techniques, but eventually he capitulated and selected a small group to train. He made them change their names to Aldori and to swear an oath not to reveal anything they learned to someone not of the swordpact. Through the generations that followed, Sirian’s pupils became known as the Aldori swordlords, a force feared throughout the continent. Until Choral arrived, the swordlords ruled Rostland and were every bit as impulsive and prickly as Sirian. The Aldori uniformly distrust the Surtovas, and their patience with the new king wears thin.
The people of Rostland are mainly farmers, craftsmen, and trademen. 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 welcome is somewhat misgiving, 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. If an outsider takes the trouble to learn their customs, the Rostlandi prove to be fast friends and staunch allies.