Flintlocks & Fireballs
Until recently, the world stopped at the Barrier Wastes, a vast, intractable land of dry, salty clay. While arable — if unsettled and hostile — land was known to exist on the other side, the impossibility of crossing the Wastes in great numbers made settlement on the north and further exploration unlikely prospect until the development of the steam train fourty years ago.
As the North began to be colonised, explorers continued to strike further into the continent and began to discover more and more outcrops of the hazardous mineral Etherite and an increasing number of ruins similar to the ones found in the South near the city of Praxia. Not all of the murals in the Praxian ruins have been decoded, but the ones so far investigated have showed cowled, alien beings and hinted at a considerable prize: the secrets of magic.
The North is still largely unexplored, because the North is terribly hostile: a number of the magical beings and humanoids that have been exterminated in the South are still present there. The Empire were preparing for a big push of soldiers across the wastes to set up a network of guard towers and keep the current colonies protected, but the rebellion has delayed this and so most of the Northern colonies are having to deal themselves with the myriad dangers of the North: orc, elf and kobold raiders, enormous wild animals, and harsh weather. What with travel to the North being so difficult and most mail coming out there highly classified, there’s not an awful lot of detail beyond this: as far as most of the Empire knows, the North is potentially an enormous moneyspinner but right now it’s a hostile, unsettled clusterfuck.