History: The proud northernmost reaches of the empire (Known as Basilevsa) have, historically, been some of the most unstable throughout history. For a millennia, shifting alliances between the constantly rising (and falling) barons, counts, and dukes in the region kept it in constant turmoil, and anybody who gained too much of an advantage quickly found his allies turned to enemies and his lands broken apart. For both noble and commoner, the north was always harsh.
However, events far to the south would eventually have far reaching consequences in the region. The Grenheim Empire, having expanded to the point of being the absolute power on the continent, sent an offer to every noble in the north: Join the Empire and enjoy its added wealth and security for no loss in independence and autonomy. Almost immediately the nobles were split along two lines: The southern states unequivocally refused, but fear of a potential invasion caused a rapid series of treaties between the nobles in a race to unify before their southern neighbor could potentially invade.
However, in the north they were far more receptive to the idea. For centuries they had endured raids from their neighbors to the north, in addition to the constant feuds between the lords themselves. This, they saw, was an opportunity to both secure their southern border, and finally bring some stability to the region. They too, began uniting together, and the hundreds of independent barons, counties, and duchies soon merged into two entities: The North Basilevsa Confederation and the South Basilevsa Confederation. The SBC immediately declared war on the NBC before they could receive any aid from Grenheim, and the bloodiest war the region had ever seen began.
The NBC, however, had no interest in gaining aid from the Empire, not wanting to risk undermining the independence that the latter was offering. The two strongest families in the north, the Illyns and Melikovs, agreed to merge their power together and proceeded to dominate the NBC politically. In the south, no such clear leadership emerged, and coordination between their armies was often lacking, with petty disputes sometimes resulting in some lords completely refusing to back up others on the field of battle. It was this, and not any lack of strength or ability, that ultimately led to the NBC's bloody victory over their southern brothers.
Still, the lands were vast, and filled with countless bodies to conscript as soldiers. Despite constantly being on the losing side of many battles, the conflict took decades before the NBC could claim a decisive victory, and the scars of the war ran deep through the land. So deep, that public outcry in the north prevented their leaders from changing the name of the united nation to the Basilevsa Confederation, demanding that there always be a reminder of the north's triumph over the south. So, the NBC kept its name, and finally accepted the Emperor's (Or rather, his son's) offer to join Grenheim.
However, the "wealth" that had been hinted at by the Empire never seemed to materialize. Sure, favorable trade deals within the nation were available, but the NBC never was rich in resources to export. The Illyn-Melikov's, leaders of the united region, struggled with poverty and famine throughout their lands. Indeed, they often lacked the money to fund the extensive patrols needed along the northern border, and over time more and more towns were looted by raiders. Discontent among the commoners grew almost to the point of a bloody revolution. However, their leaders agreed to stop any uprising and attempt to overthrow their rulers on one condition: That the common people be allowed self-governance.
There was little actual choice in the matter, and the North Basilevsa Confederation transformed itself into the North Basilevsa Republic.
Still, it proved to be a wise move for the region. The people seemed more receptive to higher taxes from a government that they themselves elected, and soon funding for the army resumed- even if there was not always funding to actually arm
the soldiers properly. Once raids from their northern neighbors were put a stop to once more, prosperity began returning to the region, and even if it was still poor compared to the rest of the empire a new age of entrepreneurs and a large working class to man the emerging advent of factories promised a new golden age for the region just beyond the horizon.
Culture: Bloodthirsty in war, charming in peace, the NBR and its people have often unnerved their southern neighbors with their seemingly unpredictable nature. The nobles, and now emerging class of wealthy businessmen, have always prided themselves on supposed sophistication compared to their southern neighbors. In the north knowledge and military prowess were both expected and demanded of the upper classes. However, they had never been particularly successful in politics outside of their own region. While it was true that sophistication was greatly valued, the rituals and social functions of southern nobility were alien to them and seen as a waste of time. To the south, the northern nobles were seen as uncultured brutes with a love of violence, and to the north the south seemed like a bunch of silly actors constantly performing in a play.
This was often exacerbated by differing religious beliefs. With their relatively late arrival to the empire, and isolated location, Adondeism never caught on within the NBR. Sure, there was a not-insignificant percentage of the population that were believer- especially with constant missions from the church taking place in the region- but most never subscribed to the belief that Adondeus was the great prophet that the church claimed. Indeed, most were still waiting on their prophet to arrive, and patiently tolerated the Church that they were presently chained to until the day where their beliefs could be proven false.
As for the people themselves there were three things valued more than anything else in the republic: Family, Work, and the Military. Towns were often centered around the local barracks, where men in their free time were permitted train in preparation for the next time conscription would be needed for the nation. This was taken up by more men than not- for relaxation was generally seen as distasteful. Even once one had earned their pay for the day, they were still expected to occupy themselves until sundown. For those that could read, the acquisition of knowledge was luckily considered work, but for the vast masses of illiterate men and women across the land this often meant hunting, woodcutting, or anything that prevent lazing around. Still, this was often not as bad as it might appear at first glance. The value of family time meant frequent breaks throughout the day to stop by their homes, sit down for tea, and spend time with their spouses and children. Indeed, in spite of their long work days it often seemed as if the people of the NBR actually spent less time than others breaking their backs.
In smaller villages, there was often a great hall where all the villagers would gather after sundown to drink, dance, and catch up on the news of the day. As villages grew into towns and cities the great halls were often replaced with smaller bars and pubs, but the practice remained. Among the wealthy and nobility this gave drinking the stigma of being a hobby of the poor, and teetotalism was often expected, or at least it was expected that any drinking be done privately in one's own study. The military too was expected to remain sober, but in practice this was never enforced, particularly among those charged with patrolling the border.
Military: The NBR has a reputation for being of the largest and most well trained militaries of the world- even amongst its conscripted peasantry, but the lack of wealth within the state has severely limited its access to modern equipment. Outside of a few specialized Guard Regiments and the Royal Dragoons, the army was horrifically outdated. Infantry for the most part still carried pikes and outdated hand cannons, and outside of the Dragoons no cavalry carried any firearms at all. A large number of patrols around the border carried bows into their skirmishes with the raiders, and the rest stayed true to the lance and sword as their choice of arms. Indeed, most modern firearms in the army had been taken from raiders that had captured them from other
parts of the continent. A lack of standardization was not as big of a concern to the military as a lack of supplies in general. Still, if ever supplied with modern arms and equipment the NBR would be a terrifying military force.
(Sample look of the NBR's army, in both winter and summer dress. The thick coats are often also employed by cavalry during the latter though, as a sort of makeshift armor. Excellent against edged weapons if little else.)