Wail of a Thousand Voices
In the far northern reaches toward the Crown of the World, the land and its people become harsh and unforgiving. Winters are long and deadly here, forcing common folk to scratch out a sustainable existence from near-frozen soil 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. For centuries, the firm and forceful hand of Choral the Conqueror’s lineage has held these nobles in check, but in 4699 AR, the royal house of Brevoy vanished, leaving the kingdom in turmoil. House Surtova took the contested crown, yet not all of Brevoy agreed that the new king had the right to rule. In the decade that followed, noble ambitions burned hotter even than the hearth fires working to drive away the chill of winter, and now all of Brevoy lies on the edge of civil war.
The history of Brevoy is actually the history of two lands, Issia and Rostland, united into one by force.
Issia, the northern half of the nation, has been sparsely settled for centuries. Numerous small villages cluster on the southern shore of the Lake of Mists and Veils and in the foothills of the mountains to the east. With the land too rocky and cold elsewhere for proper farming, the people of Issia survived on a combination of fishing and raiding—the most successful tribes even venturing across the great lake to sack settlements along its western or northern shores.
Rostland, south of Lake Reykal and the Gronzi Forest, is quite different than Issia—a vast stretch of rolling hills and grasslands fed by the East Sellen River and its tributaries. Taldan colonists settled this area centuries ago under the leadership of Baron Sirian First, who became Sirian Aldori, first of the Aldori Swordlords.
In the middle of winter in early 4699 AR, every member of House Rogarvia vanished without a trace
Brevoy is divided into two lands historically, culturally, and geographically. The vast Lake of Mists and Veils forms the northern border of Brevoy , bound in ice during the winter months, the domain of fishing vessels, merchant ships, and the pirates who prey upon them the rest of the year. The Awzera and East Sellen Rivers, along with the dark depths of the Gronzi Forest, divide the nation into north and south. The Golushkin Mountains south of Port Ice mark the western border, while the Icerime Peaks to the east form a barrier with the old lands of Iobaria beyond.
“The dragon has two heads” goes the Brevic saying. Some see it as a reference to the dual nature of the nation’s culture— Issian and Rostlandic—others to the division between the ambitious nobility and the often grasping priesthood, or between the noble houses and the self-proclaimed swordlords, all with the common people caught in the middle.
The Lords of the Land
Apart from the king and royal family, the highest ranking nobles in Brevoy are its lords—the heads of the noble houses. The lords of Brevoy are male; eldest sons inherit their father’s estate and titles.
Younger sons often receive some provision, but it need not be much under the law. Women exert influence through their husbands or sons, and may even rule as regents for sons who have not yet reached the age of majority (15 winters). Lords tend to have many children as a result, at least to secure a male “heir and a spare.” This leads to various cadet branches and lines of houses, as well as alliances by marriage, such that in the past 200 years the seven major noble houses have become both more closely related and more widespread. There is an ever-greater demand for land and titles, and more young, disaffected nobility looking to make a mark in the world.
Although Brevans make it a point to honor all gods, three hold particular prominence among these hardy folk. Although worship of Erastil is not uncommon in far-flung rural areas, and cults of Lamashtu have a tenacious ability to endure all manner of cleansing crusade, Abadar, Gorum, and Pharasma have the greatest influence over life in Brevoy.
The Salt of the Earth
The vast majority of the Brevic people are simple peasants, primarily farmers and craftspeople who owe their fealty (and their taxes) to one lord or another. A Brevic peasant’s life is largely the same throughout Brevoy—up with the sun in the short spring and summer months to tend the fields in Rostland or fish and mine in Issia, with household chores filling the rest of the day. In the long, dark winter months there is no shortage of mending, brewing, carving, and cleaning. Men may visit the local tavern or taphouse in the evening, and such places host dances or revels perhaps two or three times a season. The wise man attends to his own house and avoids the attention of noble and priest alike, praying to all their gods simply for decent weather, good crops, a healthy family, and the peace with which to enjoy them.
Seven great noble houses dominate the political landscape of Brevoy, most dating back to before the arrival of the Conqueror, when they existed as powerful tribes of raiders and barbarians. Choral apportioned lands and titles to those lords willing to pledge fealty to him, reordering the houses into their modern forms. The past two centuries, coupled with various marriages of alliance, have shifted and expanded the influence of the noble houses, extending well south of the rivers and Lake Reykal.
- Aldori Swordlords
- House Ardden
- House Garess
- House Lebeda
- House Rogarvia
- House Slane
- House Surtova
- House Vessia