The World of Aereth
The Northlands constitute the lands that exist from the Empyrean Ocean to the West to the Dragonspire Mountains to the East.
Climate and Seasons
The Northlands encompass ecologies ranging from the temperate grasslands and vales of Crieste to the inhospitable wastes of the north. Climates and seasons are dependent largely on latitude and precipitation, with certain marked exceptions due to geographic and magical anomalies.
The Criestine Empire and the other nations adjacent to the Lirean Sea enjoy mild summers, brief winters, and long springs and autumns. Dense stands of deciduous hardwoods offer sturdy beams for shipbuilding, while fertile soils provide abundant crops and grasslands for cattle and sheep.
Moving north, the climate grows steadily cooler, reflected by a marked hardiness in the people and beasts. The Warlands, renowned for their wealth of natural resources, expect deep winters with heavy snowfall and months of isolation. The summers, unmitigated by the cooling Lirean Sea, can be equally severe, and times of hardship force farmers to augment their crops and herds with wild game. The deciduous forests slowly give way to primeval coniferous stands and the mighty Ashwood groves. East, across the vast ranges of the Ul Dominor Mountains, are the Mirdar-Luminar Steppes. The little moisture that reaches the steppes is brought by raging storms that sweep down from Hoarfrost Bay. In years of drought, the steppes become a vast tinderbox, and wildfires rage up and down the high prairie, tainting the air for hundreds of leagues in every direction and shading the sunsets the color of spilled blood. North of both the Mirdar-Luminar Steppes and the Warlands are endless swaths of high tundra, gnarled oak, and icy wastes. Here the temperature retreats below freezing every night of the year, and savage beasts swarm the land. While hunters, outlaws, and hermits choose to make their home in the forbidding wastes, they are the exception, not the rule.
In many ways, citizens of the Known Realms are foreigners in their own land, blissfully unaware of all that came before. Living day to day with the threat of raiders, dire beasts, and marauding giants is challenge enough. To these poor souls, history is a curiosity best left to the sages. Of course, the accuracy of history is hotly debated by these so called sages. Just as veteran explorers consult historians and elders, so too do they seek out adventurers who are brave, skilled, and lucky enough to return with firsthand knowledge and relics of the bygone ages. Together, the Hero and the Sage are slowly piecing together an accurate history of the world. It is a mammoth work and subject to constant revision, and yet it represents the best presentation of knowledge agreed upon today.
Empires, Kingdoms, Fiefs, and City-States
At first glance, the Known Realms might appear to be a patchwork of nations covering every league of Áereth, but veteran explorers know better. Each nation’s borders extend only as far as its lord’s ability to enforce his rule, leaving vast swaths of borderlands given over to roaming bands of escaped slaves and serfs, violent outlaws, monstrous humanoids, and far worse. Passage between nations without armed escort is attempted only by the bold or desperate. The majority of Northlanders live in simple villages and hamlets, earning their livelihood by farming, herding, and hunting. The average farmer passes his entire life without traveling more than twenty miles from his homestead.
Cities and towns are essential hubs of trade, defense, and religion. Any time a city is sacked by marauding hordes, the surrounding lands suffer. Similarly, the cities rely on outlying farms to provide the enormous amounts of grain, vegetables, fruits, and meats necessary to support their swollen populations. A prince that punishes his people with high taxes and refuses to defend them in times of distress quickly discovers how difficult it is to maintain a cavalry without grain, or arm his knights without iron. Exceptions to this rule are plentiful, and benign despots are few and far between. In the hostile realms of the North, civilization is best thought of as a curious anomaly in a long history of savagery and barbarism.