The Bitter North
The lands of the Empire are now torn apart into a myriad of petty kingdoms and free cities ruled by upstart nobles, warlords, church officials, and bandits. The Southlands are kept in a perpetual turmoil from constant violence that boarders on but never quite breaks out into total war. The Barons and Dukes of the Southlands manage a delicate balance using bribes, diplomacy, and outright violence to prevent a full scale civil war from breaking out.
In theory all of the lands of the Empire are still united under the authority of the Emperor but in his absence the practical matters of running an Empire have fallen apart and most nobles now scramble for the scraps of power left following the Emperor’s ascention.
PCs traveling in the Southlands should be careful to note which territories they pass through as lords frequently do not respect the peace of travelers from their neighbors much less those coming from the boarderlands.