Zombies in History
The Forbidding East
Civilization in the east consists of a scattered few bastions in a very dangerous wilderness. Russian-speaking Novgorod has grown from a single city to command a vast empire east of the Urals which has come into conflict with the Swedes and Byzantines, but, outside its cities, life continues in the wilds as it has for centuries untold. West of the Urals, the only beacons of civilization are the scattered remnants of an ancient empire, sharing only the Lithuanian language.
Eastern Europe is still a wild place, bereft of the institutions of government found in the west and the Mediterranean areas. While it hosts a number of city-states of varying prowess, they exist as islands in a very dangerous sea of wilderness. The dangerous creatures that exist as rumor and legend in the cultured parts of the world are very real fact beyond the borders of the Teutonic and Byzantine Empires.
Walled city-states dot the land in the northern Balkans and on the Carpathian plain between the Alps and the Urals. Riga, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, Zagreb, Budapest and Kiev are remnants of an ancient Sarmatian/Lithuanian empire, and maintain trading relationships with each other and with the Byzantine Empire, though the goods they export are hideously expensive, due to the high costs of security and transport, even with magical aid. These governments tend to be autocratic, under the near-absolute rule of Tsars or Khans. The people speak Lithuanian, but little is known about them. They tend to produce powerful characters, as the world that surrounds them is full of danger.
The Novgorod Republic is a recent entrant into the stage of world politics. The city of Novgorod itself was always seen as one of the powerhouses of Eastern Europe, but in the past few hundred years they have surpassed their brother and sister cities of the East to become a force to be reckoned with. Beginning in the Viking Age, the city of Novgorod became a constant target for the raiding parties of the Norsemen. Novgorod saw its only chance to repel these repeated attacks was to form an alliance with surrounding cities. What started as a small confederation of independent cities soon grew into an entirely new nation that stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains with Novgorod as its capital. Presently, the region is still ravaged by attacks, but now it is not just mere raiders. The Novgorod Republic has been under almost constant attack from both the Byzantine Empire and forces from the House of Sverka, when they have gained a respite in their war with the House of Eric. Every time they have managed to repel these forces, but a the possibility of war looms on the horizon. Presently rumors abound about a possible alliance between the eastern city-states and Sverka, after the latter disposes of their problem at home, and there is little reason to doubt that Novgorod will be their first target.
Due to the chaotic and violence fraught past of Novgorod Warriors are often in short supply. The vast wilderness between Novgorod and more civilized lands are filled with challenges that will test even the strongest blade. Religion is not really emphasized in the Republic and magic is rarely practiced. Outside of walls of the cities however, it is not too uncommon for one to come across one of the many tribes of the Eastern wilderness. Amongst these there is usually at least one shaman, who have developed their own magic, seemingly independent of the rest of the world.