The Bitter North
The winters of the North are killers. The winter season in the North usually lasts upwards of five months and can last six. Even in the Nentir Vale, which is the only ‘civilized’ area of the North, snowfall is a common occurrence and the roads are muddy and the mountain trails are near impassable. To be a Northman is to think first and foremost about survival.
Despite the lengthy winters, humans have lived in the Nentir Vale for centuries. The original inhabitants the Tigerclaw Barbarians were driven north into the Winterbole forest when the Emperor sent his legions north to add the Vale to his already extensive realm.
In the years that followed, the Legionnaire’s forts became towns. The towns became small cities, and trade began to flow between the barbaric North and the civilized South. The North’s “Imperial Years” were filled with peace and prosperity. Settlers flowed from the crowded streets of the Empire and filled the Vale bringing the teachings of Imperial Church, agriculture, and all the blessings of civilization.
New races also came from the south never before seen in the vale.Dragonborn were at the head of the Emperor’s legions. While Tiefling merchants followed soon after. These new races found a host of strange creatures had already made the Vale their home.
The Legions that first came to the vale had little difficulty in driving out the human barbarian tribes that lived there. Far more difficult to deal with were the Faerie creatures that they found living there. Small acts of sabotage quickly escalated into raids that killed entire companies. Foraging parties would go into the woods and never return. Legionnaires would inexplicably go mad and attack their companions. The Faerie of the North waged an unseen war against the Emperor’s legions for over a decade. Then a young general named Aranda Marklehay managed to contact and gain the favor of a few tribes. Aranda discovered that there were two groups of Faerie. The Seelie and Unseelie had been in a civil war of sorts for centuries. The Seelie fey were willing to assist the Empire in exchange for their help wiping out their hated cousins.
Thus The Twilight Compact was struck binding the Eladrin, Elves, and Halflings in partnership with the Imperials for the purpose of wiping out the Goblins. The resulting Goblin War succeeded in driving out most of the Goblins and creating a partnership between the Seelie Fey and Humans.
The Nentir Vale’s golden age lasted until the Ascension of the Emperor and the resulting chaos and civil war. The legions were recalled from the North and the governorships of the region became hereditary titles still carried by the nobles of the North today. These lords of the North did their best to maintain order in the absence of Imperial sponsorship but in the decades that followed the North slowly reverted to its earlier (and some say ‘natural’) state of petty robber-barons and general lawlessness.
The Bloodspear War finally broke whatever semblance of order remained in the North and in the last ninety years the few remaining human settlements of the Nentir have declined to become small lights of civilization in an encroaching bitter darkness.