I present here the first part of the latest iteration of the backstory for the Isle...From possibly either the late 90's early 00's. The last significant use of it was an extended Tegel Manor run, possibly in 2003 or so when my turn to GM came up in our local group. [Out of character notes will be presented in square brackets thusly]
Introduction and discovery
The history of the Isle is even more unclear than that of the Mainland, while much knowledge and most history of the previous epoch was lost in the interregnum, nothing is known of the Isle before its discovery in NBE 423. With the re-founding of the bright Kingdom in (225), trade and exploration increased dramatically. One result was the discovery of a huge and unknown Island about a weeks sailing to the south east of the Port of Pemboda. There was, and has been no information found about its existence before this date, and it is postulated that the isle may simply not have existed before this time. There is specuation that the Scouring of the Coasts described in the Epic of the Longstrand (probably from -229) may be related to the appearance of the Isle, if one assumes that its rise or appearance displaced the sea that it currently occupies.
The initial landfall was the result of a storm that drove a small group of merchant adventurers off course, and did sufficient damage to the ships to require several months stay before a return could be contemplated. some local exploring was done, and the fishing banks off of (now) Northport [hex 2901] were identified, along with the general excellence of the land for agriculture. Also noted was the fact that it seemed
uninhabited at least as far as a few days march from the initial landing at what is now Faldirk [hex 3101]. Given the lack of trade opportunities, the venturers eventually continued on to their destination, reported their findings to the Mariners guild, and sailed off into obscurity.
What is clear is that knowledge of the existence of the Isle became generally known, more as a curiosity than as a potential resource. What it did seem to provide was the opportunity for a new life free for many refugees of the seemingly endless Slovian wars that erupted in 655. Most took sail in whatever they could build, buy or steal, travelled to the original landing point, and travelled a short distance down river to found Faldirk [Modron from Judges guild]. Most of the refugees had no interest in contact with war torn homelands or in being "returned" to their bound or enslaved status on a lords demesne, so ships were generally destroyed or broken up for lumber on arrival. In time, this secrecy became both required and enforced. Later arrivals were welcomed, helped, supplied and politely but firmly informed that while they could not return, they were free to take what they found inland; given the conditions of the lands they had fled from, this was generally accepted enthusiastically; the few merchants arriving to see if trade was possible quickly were forced to join the settlement, or returned penniless to report a dangerous, anarchic wilderness. The inflow travelled generally moved south east, founding the first steadings of the Freehold and Cantons.
Northport and the Freebooter Shanty Towns
Meanwhile, the seas around the coast became increasingly hazardous with the Long Siege of Pemboda, and essentially destroyed the merchant and fishing fleets of the Pembodan Coasts. The need for a constant blockade of Pemboda required a constant source of resupply, and the fishing banks off of Northport began to provide it, which was originally founded as a Slovian naval base [Verbosh, JG]. As the situation became more chaotic over the next decade, there was constant flow of deserters and escaped slaves and prisoners from Northport to the interior of the Island.
Finally, the descent of the Slovan Navy and the Bright Kingdom and its Allies into outright piracy resulted in the founding of several well hidden pirate enclaves on the South and West coasts of the Island. Once mercantile traffic had been driven away, the Pirates generally turned to longer voyages to newer hunting grounds (such as the Slovian seas), and the southern shanty towns on the Isle were well positioned to support them.
For the next two hundred or so years, until the lesser interregnum, the three areas coexisted largely independently and in ignorance of the others. Escapees from the (eventual) slave fisheries of Northport trickled into the Freem Valley, retired pirates and further escapees into the vales of Grantium, and more and more fled or displaced peasants homesteaded the Cantons. Government was minimal, and land plentiful. And at some point early in the first century, the settlers discover one of the true treasures of the Isle: Freem.
Next up: Freem !