Life in Amina is inseparable from the Waking Wood beneath whose branches its people dwell. The Green Hoods - an order of druids, rangers, clerics, and others with powerful, often magical connections to nature - guide the development of humanoid settlements and help uphold the traditional ways of life that let their people dwell in balance, if not harmony, with nature. Their role as mediators also means that sometimes they must act in the interest of the forest itself, rather than just the people who live within it, which has led to internal issues in the past. While the nation began as a number of villages, over the many centuries cities have been cultivated inside great hollows in the eldest trees themselves. Even those discontent with the Green Hoods' traditionalism and tree-huggery often find this way of life sufficient to quell their frustrations.
The Corvus Trading Company began as a domestic business venture in Serrnis, the prospective path to greatness for a cadre of spare noble children who could each have lost half a dozen siblings without gaining any more hope for inheritance. Recent decades have seen it grow to be like a country in its own right, with a considerable amount of Midir territory coming to be considered company property. The notion of outright conquest through coin rather than force of arms is one with which the powers along the Corridor have not yet learned to effectively contend, but their place in tide of history may hinge on how they adapt in the coming years.
The Company is overseen by a Board of Directors who have each risen to their station through years of honing their skills, plying their guile, forging alliances and deposing rivals within Corvus, and are never without contengencies to benefit from any situation. The various Departments of the Company often employ adventurers of varying skillsets, since a forensic accountant who can use a hand crossbow is much more likely to survive to report the misdeeds of an embezzling superior.
The oldest of the current nations in the region, legend holds that Dulm was created when the deific dragon Girrycry bestowed their grace unto the greatest mortal champions in their service. The champions were elevated to the status of Paragons, and each was entrusted with an aspect of administration over the land and its people. They were also granted great strength and longevity in the likeness of their god, that they would never require successors and could only grow more proficient in their duty over the ages. The god watches over their Paragons to this day from the Crystal Palace which sprawls over the slopes of Mount Heavenspan as a shining city in its own right.
East Amina seems to have first been settled by outriders from West Amina who crossed the river to escape the authority of the Green Hoods and a social order they felt didn't properly appreciate them. Much of East Amina's history is wrapped up in the individual histories of the open nomadic communities bearing the will of the original expatriate outriders, with few if any permanent settlements except for those on the coast of the Silent Sea. Recent centuries however have seen attempts by one of the horse-lords to unify the independent tribes into a nation-state. Threats, violence, and promises of abundance have brought many wanderers within the ever-growing walls of Progress, his new capital, and rumor long holds that his may turn beyond his borders when all the horse-lords ride behind his banner.
Karga began as a secret school deep within the Giant's Footsteps for the followers of the Prince of Air following his imprisonment by Mother Owl. Over time the school grew a community of outsiders to trade with students and supports operations, and eventually the academia spilled over into the founding of a number of specialized satellite schools, with their own communities for trade and logistical support. Reverence for the Prince of Air still dominates the halls of power within Karga, and those halls remain firmly situated within the academies, but nowhere else on either shore of the Seerbrine Sea boasts such ready access to centuries of arcane tradition.
Laerthir boasts a history preceding the Coming of the King, its royal lineage uninterrupted since those mythic days. Most population centers are actually located on the eastern peninsula, while the western is primarily considered wilderness in this era. This uneven population distribution is attributed to the relocation of the capital after the Coming of the King and the Fall of Lost Pharros, an explanation corroborated by the rare interview with Captain Zaragrim of the Royal Guard over the ages. The exact location of the ancient capital remains unknown, despite periodic attempts by explorers to find it and the Old Captain's hazy memory of those days. Countless adventurers have attempted to tame the wild and haunted western reaches of Laerthir, but few return and none report anything pleasant.
The principal god of the region is known as the Sunken Serpent or the Nameless One, with whom the First King Laertes is said to have formed the contract that even now binds the royal family. Blessed with extremely long life and the authority of ancient sorceries, the royal family themselves are subject to reverence for their vast knowledge and mystical prowess. The Great Shrine of the Serpent lies deep beneath the Royal Capital of New Pharros, itself covering the bredth of a great depression into which flow the many waters of the swamp in shimmering waterfalls.
Midir used to be a kingdom in ancient times, ruled by a deific monarch who unified the land. These days, and for the last few centuries, the nation has been comprised of a number of loosely-affiliated tribes with varyinig cultures and ways of life. Some are nomadic shephers, some are crafters, some are farmers, some are mercenaries. All are willing to accept new people who can contribute to the well-being of the tribe, all tribes are known to take care of their own, and every chief disdains the notion of kingship, citing the legendary fall of the old monarchy and loss of the capital in the One-night War.
Okay, but we actually call them clans formally and families informally. Initiation's not as big a deal as you make it out to be, and you get a lot of aunts and uncles and cousins out of it. Each family does have something they usually try to get really good at. There are families of weavers and leatherworkers and smiths and even spellcasters and mercenaries, but that doesn't mean that's all we do. Every family is gonna have any number of people working different trades or doing odd jobs to support the family. You've just gotta have an edge too, you know? Something you can do that others can't, or that you can you do better because you work longer at it, and learned from other people who worked even longer than you. That's what being part of a Midirish Clan's like.
Praelera is a land of narrow valleys and cascading rivers divided by craggy peaks and ridges, giving rise to a large number of mostly self-sufficient communities. The cloudy peaks, deep lakes and river-carved caves make excellent homes for elementals and fairies, and every town or village is liable to have at least one warlock bound to a spirit of the land. Traditionally, the Sovereign Oath-Keeper is one who has formed a pact with Praelera itself, though the current regent came to power by deposing the previous ruler and has not herself acended the Throne. Poltical power at every level in Praelera tends to accumulate in dynastic clans, which may span multiple towns or even control a city, and which make a point of acquiring the land's warlocks by whatever means they can.
Founded by the adrift legions of the Bloodless King in the wake of his defeat, and by those confused beings spawned from pools of his roiling, spilt blood, Rubreks is a rather martial nation ruled by a number of Legions extended from those which once served under the still-dead god. Rubreks has long since incorporated mortals into its society, many of whom have found places of their own in the Legions side-by-side with angels and devils. While the appearance of the Elder Eye is a standing casus belli in the eyes of the Legions and the Steward, the Twelve Legions take it in five-year turns to guard the northern border against the intrusion of the Everwood, cull the monsters which spawn ceaselessly from the pooled blood in the King's Catacombs, and to maintain naval cordons against even stranger threats abroad. This abundance of duties keeps the goings on of the other nations generally outside Rubreks' notice.
Due to the recent extirpation of the royal family and subsequent death of the usurper, Serrnis may be considered the region's most troubled feudal monarchy. The lords are split between those who covet the throne for themselves or their allies and those who see the current absence of kings as an opportunity for collective rule. The nation's difficulties in the wake of war are compounded by political pressure from Corvus, which grows more eager with each passing year to shake off the burden of being a Serrnisian business venture rather than a country in its own right. A number of the noble houses have their own losses to cope with, their post-war positions suddenly unsure in the face of healthier rivals.
The isle of Therys began as a volcanic fortress for the Phoenix Righteous Accuser during the Elemental Uprising, and was gifted to mortals by the Leviathan and Zaratan Lords after their combined efforts broke the mountain and buried the warmonger phoenix beneath the rubble and the waves. Major shrines to each of these elemental lords commemorate their valor and generosity, but the shrines have fallen into disrepair since travel within the island was restriced during the Serrnis occupation. In the days since the war's end, the roads have evidently only become more treacherous with attacks by monsters and highwaymen becoming increasingly commonplace.
Therys holds historical significance as the birthplace of the warlock Nerer Stin, where he is regarded as a national hero. The island's relatively central location upon the Seerbrine Sea and Sea of Dulm makes it a hub of trade, which makes it of particular interest to the Corvus Trading Company. Tensions between the island's Public Safety Commission, the Trading Company's local agents, and the continued presence of Serrnis Admiral Dontavya, brother-in-law to the late Governor General Dontavya, makes the region something of a powerderkeg as it struggles to recover from from years of conflict.
In ages past, Therys was known as the Accuser's Perch, a single great island crowned with a volcano which overlooked the straits of the same name. When a passing ship was carrying some dire sinner, a great phoenix would descend from the mountain and render judgement, sometimes absconding with the guilty sailor and sometimes incinerating ships whole.
A little over six years ago, the Elder Eye appeared in possession Kherem Luthropvaft of Serrnis, an accomplished young spellcaster with a rising reputation among his fellow lords. Rubreks declared war as soon as word reached their and the Legates could be gathered. By the time Rubrekan ships were en route to Thessalis, Kherem had unified Karga and formed a coalition with Corvus and Karga, bolstering their forces with mercenaries from Midir. Battle was met at Therys, as Emerald Prince Kherem sought to deny Rubreks access to the Seerbrine Sea, and after a tenuous victory Serrnis and Corvus occupied the archipelago and fortified it against further Rubrekan advances.
During the occupation of Therys, travel on and about the archipelago was restricted, making supplying the remote shrines to the gods who gifted the isles to humans nigh unfeasible. Nerer Stin, an acolyte at the Sea Shrine at Phoenix Fall, took particular umbrage to this and became a warlock in the service of his god. He left the islands in secret, formed a party of rebel adventurers, and in three shorts years grew strong enough to overthrow Kherem the Emerald Prince in his royal palace at Thessalis.
While most localities are prone to having their own local deities, spirits, or sacred animals, and while any thing or image or idea that exists may have a spirit, soul, or essence to which one could appeal, there are a few entities revered throughout most of the world which may be called major gods. When speaking of them it is not uncommon to use epithets, as some may take the use of their name to presumptive of nonexistent familiarity and most are sufficiently almighty that the distinction between themselves and their names is thin or nonexistent.
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, Bas'Kren, who dwells in the far north, is said to delight in reversals of fortune for the mighty, and to look kindly upon and inspire those who meet seemingly impossible circumstances with cunning and ingenuity. Desperate thieves and rebels and the falsely accused may whisped her name. She is associated with Winter, for the Wolf of the North is a thief who can steal the warmth from the world.
The Storm-Ruler, Kirruth, looks favorably upon feats of valor and skill. Revered as the Goddess of Victory in Rubreks for dealing the killing blow to the Bloodless King of yore, she is said to smite wicked gods and demons with her left hand and to rain down blessings upon the greatest masters of art and music and literature and weaving with her right.
The Owl-Queen, Gesme, grants safety and comfort to the souls of the dead beneath the boughs of the Starry Wood in which she makes her home. She is said to grant rest to travellers, be they literal travellers on the dusty roads of the world or mortal souls travelling between days or lives. Inns are liable to adorn their hearths with owl imagery in her honor.