The lands of humanity are traditionally divided into the West and the East. Both lands are on opposite sides in the southern third of the same great continent. The north, often colloquially known as “Elf Country” in the West, is largely unexplored.
The human lands would not be divided were it not for the long stretch of inhospitable terrain that separates them. These lands, although their borders are somewhat ill-defined and often take on a different appearance depending on what map you are looking at, are called the Great Barrens. The plains, steppes, deserts and tundra that make up this huge area are home to a few scattered bandit kingdoms, nomadic tribes and the occasional homestead.
Few dare brave the icy Sea of Daggers to the south with its many submerged and lethal denizens, and so all travel between West and East must pass through the Great Barrens. A few well-travelled trade roads pass the entire length of the Barrens and is the source of all trade between the human lands.
Even the proudest and most stubborn of the Western kings grudgingly admit that it is the East that is considered the heartland of the race of men. The first of the Eastern empires stood when in the West there was nothing. From whence the first humans to settle the East came from is not known, but the kingdoms of the West were all built by Eastern pioneers. Written history stretches back only to the Dark Sundering, but it is known that many of the Eastern empires predate even that tumultuous event. It is in the East that one will find the grandest palaces, the most powerful wizards and the largest, most ancient cities. Or so it was. With the coming of the orcs, all that has changed.
It has only been around a thousand years since the first of the large wagon convoys ventured across the Great Barrens and settled in the lush and green West. The land was largely untouched save for a few small elven settlements, but these were gradually abandoned as the human presence increased. Unlike the relative stability of the East with its ancient empires, the West soon saw a myriad of small kingdoms, duchies, city-states and other minor fiefdoms spring up like mushrooms. These tiny nations sometimes wage war upon one another, but just as often they are involved in shady backroom dealings, assassination attempts and endless political intrigue.