|Images of Mendev|
Source: The Inner Sea World Guide, pg(s). 118f. (1E)
Lost Omens World Guide, pg(s). 28–29 (2E)
The nation of Mendev (pronounced MEN-dev) in northeastern Avistan was a land long defined by its conflict with the Abyssal forces of the Worldwound. For over a century, people from all over the Inner Sea region came here to support the native Mendevians in their crusades to drive back the demons to the west. The fortunes of the crusaders rose and fell until a seeming miracle occurred: a small group of heroes completed a ritual to close the portal to the Abyss. With their reinforcements cut off and the demon lord Deskari slain, the demons retreated. The crusaders pressed their advantage and brought a successful end to the Fifth Mendevian Crusade in 4718 AR. With the end of the war, Queen Galfrey stepped down and appointed Chancellor Irahai, a civilian, to rule Mendev. The nation is now dealing with the aftermath of the war, defeating the remaining demons of the Sarkoris Scar, reclaiming the corrupted lands they left behind, and managing its own internal struggles with its few, war-depleted resources.
Before the Worldwound
The history of Mendev stretches back before the opening of the Worldwound in 4606 AR, when it was simply a nation inhabited by the descendants of Iobarian exiles with a less-than-stellar reputation. The last prince of that land died around the time the portal to the Abyss was opened, an event that would change Mendev forever.
Opening of the Worldwound
The opening of the Worldwound in 4606 AR did not cause an immediate reaction, as the breach and the demons that poured from it expanded slowly at first. As the threat became more serious and tales spread of the invasion, the nations of the Inner Sea region and the major benevolent churches began to take notice and launched the First Mendevian Crusade in 4622 AR.
The First Crusade (4622 – 4630 AR) was launched by the faltering church of Aroden in an attempt to whip the fallen god's remaining followers into a righteous frenzy. They were assisted in their efforts by the growing church of Iomedae, hungry to shore up its own bona fides and carry on the work of its predecessor. As thousands of pilgrim crusaders flooded up the the River Road and into Mendev, the crusader state as it existed until very recently was born. The governments of Cheliax, Isger, and Andoran, dealing with internal conflicts of their own, saw a way of ridding themselves of many dispossessed nobles and wandering mercenary companies, and joined the church of Iomedae in their efforts, shunting off their undesirables to northern Avistan. Their efforts managed to push back the demonic hordes in short order, and the crusade was deemed a success.
For almost a generation it seemed that the frontier with the Worldwound would remain quiet. But then the demons struck back with a terrible vengeance and the crusaders suffered defeat after costly defeat, their worst loss being the fall of crusader city of Drezen in 4638 AR. On the heels of their defeat, a Second Mendevian Crusade ((4638 AR – 4645 AR)) was launched. Unlike the previous war, the crusaders were unable to drive back their enemies into the Abyss and instead opted for containment. Powerful magical barriers called wardstones were built along the southern and eastern borders of the Worldwound to check the demons' advancement and influence. These had to be maintained by rituals and prayer, and continued to be a constant focus of attacks during the Second Crusade and all the wars that followed.
During the Third Mendevian Crusade (4665 – 4668 AR), the demons once again changed tactics, opting for infiltration, subversion, and corruption of their enemies. Things in general went poorly for the crusaders during this war, but more importantly, the demons were able to undermine the unity of their opponents and create suspicion in their ranks. Witch hunts against suspected demon cultists and other traitors became commonplace, particularly around the northern city of Kenabres, where a group of fanatical inquisitors led a great purge of Mendevian forces where hundreds were burned at the stake.
A new leader emerged amongst the demons in 4692 AR, a powerful balor known as Khorramzadeh, the Storm King. He and his forces were able to damage the Kenabres wardstone and cross the frontier, but were eventually driven back. This worrying development led to the calling of the Fourth Crusade (4692 AR – 4707 AR) in order to defeat the new menace before he had the chance to unite more of the demons under his banner. Lasting 15 years, this was the longest and most exhausting of the four crusades and ended more out of sheer fatigue on the part of the crusaders than any major victory or other positive tactical development.
The Fifth Mendevian Crusade rose from the stalled efforts of the Fourth, and was sparked by a demonic assault on Kenabres. Although demons ripped the city's defenses apart in minutes and destroyed its wardstone, a small group of defenders inadvertently gained the wardstone's mythic powers and led Queen Galfrey's defenders in a new war. The ensuing campaign was the most successful of them all. The heroes slew the demon lord Deskari and ritually sealed the Worldwound, leaving only the Sarkoris Scar and what demons had been stranded upon the surface.
Mendev is located at the very northern end of the continent of Avistan. Its northern border consists of the towering ice cliffs of the Crown of the World, while to the west, its border is still marked by the wardstones that helped keep the demons of the Worldwound (now the Sarkoris Scar) at bay. To Mendev's east is the Lake of Mists and Veils, the vast body of water that thousands of pilgrims crossed to complete their pilgrimage. To the south lies Numeria, separated by rivers along much of its border. The people of Mendev seem to have little to do with this harsh nation of savagery and strange science. Yet, Mendev holds beauty and wonder as well in the form of its snow-covered mountains, icy steppes, and thick, evergreen forests.
Until quite recently, Mendev was governed by the Crusader Queen Galfrey, the Sword of Iomedae. She abdicated her leadership in 4718 AR at the successful completion of the Fifth Mendevian Crusade and was chosen to become the new herald of her patron goddess, Iomedae. Before her ascension, she chose Chancellor Irahai, the daughter of Thuvian crusaders, as her successor. Irahai is a wise governor, but she has had to deal with reemerging political divisions, long suppressed by martial law during the crusades, between the native Mendevians and the foreign crusaders who still live in Mendev. The government has struggled to meet the nation's needs, and Irahai has been hobbled by those who compare her to her predecessor. It also faces internal supernatural threats by the stranded demons of the Sarkoris Scar, the powers living in the Estrovian Forest, and the cursed ruins of Icerift Castle.
Mendev maintains mutual diplomatic ties with the Kingdom of Brevoy to the east, but only has a nominal diplomatic presence in Razmiran and the River Kingdoms. The government has ranged from being unwelcoming to outwardly hostile toward Razmir's attempts to spread his faith beyond his borders, as his priests are known to sow rebellion wherever they go.
Mendev today struggles economically, its resources having been depleted by the wars that dragged on for over a century. Additionally, the money and labor it once received from foreign sources in support of the crusades has all but dried up, and because of the lack of arable land, it must import nearly all goods just to survive.
The inhabitants of Mendev are a strange mixture of peoples ranging from high-minded gallants to back-alley thugs. While many of the land's inhabitants were swept here in the fanatic zeal of one of the crusades, many are natives whose families lived here long before the crusaders' arrival. These people, the native Mendevians, had much in common culturally with the neighbouring kingdom of Sarkoris (now the Sarkoris Scar). The Iobarian inhabitants tend to be treated as second-class citizens by the crusaders and their descendants, and still practice their ancient druidic faith. This, unfortunately, makes them suspicious to the zealous crusaders of more traditional religions, and has led to many native Mendevians burning at the stake for their heretical beliefs. In fact, most of the Third Mendevian Crusade seemed more focused on burning and purging heretics than it did on driving back the actual demonic denizens of the Worldwound. This suspicion is further fueled by the fact that Sarkoris was rife with cults dedicated to the demon lord Deskari, cults Aroden himself hunted down and destroyed during the Age of Enthronement. Mendev is home to a large number of asura-spawned tieflings who revel in undermining the holy work of the crusaders.
The more recent inhabitants of Mendev are the crusaders and their descendants who remain in Mendev. Up until the end of the Mendevian Crusades, they arrived weekly by the boatload, streaming in from across the Lake of Mists and Veils and up the Sellen River. These numbers have decreased since the end of the war, although some holy warriors continue to arrive, intent on fighting until the last remaining demon is destroyed. Many left for the south when the Whispering Tyrant regained his power to threaten the Inner Sea region, while others pledged themselves to fight the demonic forces of Treerazer in Kyonin's Tanglebriar.
The crusaders who remain are an odd assortment. During the First Mendevian Crusade, those who sought to fight the invading demons were generally the most high-minded, virtuous people of the southern lands: clerics of good deities and noble paladins. However, by the Fourth Mendevian Crusade, the quality of crusaders had deteriorated. Many mercenaries flocked to fight in this seemingly endless war, and they now outnumber the pious crusaders. This situation was made worse by the fact that many southern nations saw the Mendevian Crusades as little more than a convenient dumping ground for political dissidents, thugs, criminals, and other undesirables.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
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