In ancient days, Ulfen explorers from Avistan traced the southern expanse of the polar ice a thousand miles east from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, finally descending to settle the vast taiga between the ice cap and the inland Castrovin Sea. In time, these settlements emerged as Iobaria, a powerful kingdom that spread its influence throughout Casmaron via the Castrovin’s numerous waterways. In the second millennia of the Age of Enthronement, Iobaria blossomed into an empire whose colonies stretched into Avistan in the form of Issia (now Brevoy) and Mendev. A series of tenacious plagues toppled Iobaria from greatness, the most potent being the Choking Death of 2742, nearly 2 millennia ago. Three quarters of its people fell to the calamity, leaving the empire’s great wooden palaces and forest cities almost completely abandoned. Vassal states rebelled without fear of Iobaria’s decimated armies, only to collapse themselves without the meager institutional support of the heartland. The Choking Death never truly vanished from the pine forests of Iobaria. It and a host of other mysterious illnesses have, along with internecine strife, kept the local population near its nadir for centuries.
Today, barbarism rules much of Iobaria. Especially in the outer territories, the northern woodsfolk avoid the moldering cities in favor of a rustic life. Most worship a staggering array of minor nature spirits, with druids serving semi-nomadic human communities as spiritual shepherds and protectors from the harsh elements. Some measure of past grandeur still wafts from the old coastal capital of Orlov, where a powerful prince schemes of empire with a military force insufficient to defend his city’s barren fortifications.
The Record of Truan Iolavai, an ancient text detailing a fantastic cross-Casmaron journey from Oppara to the distant Kaladay province of Yen-Shuan, describes a particularly chilling monument in the heart of Iobaria’s remote pine forests. The edifice, called Hask-Ultharan by locals, took the form of an enormous cairn composed of monumental stone blocks quarried from a distant and unknown land. Marked with distinctive script of the ancient Cyclopes who ruled much of Casmaron, Avistan, and Garund before the rise of Azlant, the blocks reached above the treeline, serving as a sort of directional marker for Iolavai’s Iobarian guides, who refused to approach it. Ever the scholar, Iolavai and his men advanced upon Hask-Ultharan, eager to explore the yawning portal along its longest side, only to be dissuaded by the appearance of a howling mob of malformed giants spewing from the towering pile. The greatest of these beings, a twisted, demoniac brute known as Kostchtchie, crushed more than a dozen of the expedition’s strongest fighters before the humans fled to safer lands. Historians bitterly argue about the accuracy of many accounts in the Record, but numerous tales in the centuries since corroborate the essential facts of Iolavai’s account.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting