The Long Road of Power
Brevoy is a proud land, known throughout Golarion for producing able warriors, regal nobles, and clever rogues. Yet Brevoy’s two regions, Issia and Rostland, have long held one another in contempt and now stand on the verge of civil war. Both Issia and Rostland were independent nations until Choral the Conqueror’s barbarian armies and red dragon servitors united the regions into a single kingdom two centuries ago. Until recently, the iron rule of House Rogarvia maintained a fragile peace between the two regions. But a decade ago, House Rogarvia mysteriously disappeared, and the conniving leaders of Issia’s House Surtova supplanted them as Brevoy’s rulers.
Now a labyrinthine political landscape plagues the nation, full of secret alliances, provincial loyalties, and nefarious plots; civil war seems inevitable. In Rostland to the south, the swordlords see in many of Issia’s recent political moves the swift approach of such a war. They rightly fear such an event, for Rostland is smaller than Issia, it has fewer armies, and its rolling hills and grasslands offer very little in the way of natural defenses. Worse, unlike Issia, whose northern border stretches along the Lake of Mists and Veils, which offers some defense, Rostland’s southern border lies along a stretch of wilderness infested with bandits and monsters. If Brevoy falls into civil war, it won’t be long at all before the violent, opportunistic vultures to the south move to take advantage of Rostland’s problems.
This southern region of wilderness is called the Stolen Lands. While these lands are technically a part of the River Kingdoms, several of which have advanced claims in the past, Rostland has long viewed them as “stolen” from it by bandits and monsters. Many attempts have been made to settle the Stolen Lands, but to date, none have succeeded, making these 33,000 square miles of unclaimed wilderness the largest swath of unclaimed land in the entire River Kingdoms. As tensions mount in Brevoy, some of Rostland’s swordlords hope to change that fact; they have issued charters to several groups of adventurers, sending them south into the Stolen Lands.
These initial charters are simple enough: re-open the old trade routes along the rivers and scatter or defeat the bandits who have made them too dangerous to use. Beyond that, it seems apparent that Rostland wants to encourage new nations to grow in this region—and believes that by supporting these nascent kingdoms as allies, it’ll gain loyal support in any coming conflict with Issia. It’s a bold and brilliant political move—for if Rostland turned its own resources to the task, not only would such a move weaken its defenses against the north, but the blatant power grab would certainly force Issia’s hand. By sending free agents south, the swordlords of Rostland hope to create new allies without sacrificing their own position of power in Brevoy.
Yet as with most complex and brilliant plans, there are plenty of opportunities for disaster.
The people of Brevoy are known for their somewhat pessimistic (they would say “realistic”) view of life, summed up in the many expressions on the lips of every farmer, trader, traveler, and tavern regular. Common Brevic sayings include:
“When the wolf shows you his teeth, he’s not smiling.”
“Riders at night carry no glad tidings.”
“Winter always follows spring.”
“As the stars see me” (a common oath asserting the truth) and “The stars see all.”
“The dragon has two heads” (referring to both the crest of the Conqueror and the duplicity of the nobility).
“The temple is close, but the night is cold. The tavern is far, but I have a cloak.”
“Fire is everyone’s ally, but no one’s friend.”
“Pharasma makes cradles for us all.”
“No man dies wishing he had worked more.”