Between 500-600 years ago (following the Bonegate Blight), the Ahros dynasty rose in the east, originating on the isthmus that bears it’s name now. The Ahros were a fierce tribe of barbarians that mounted many campaigns of conquest that eventually solidified the area from the Bay of Havis to the coast of Durrow and from Galdurang to the Swelter into a single empire. The borders far away were always unstable, but the Ahros line dominated the region for at least 5 centuries, and their mark is on nearly everything. Over time, however, their grip on sense waned, and the Ahros line fell into a detached, self-absorbed ego. When the Valrorim rebelled a century ago and seceded to form their own kingdom, Ahros mustered the armies it could, but it was shocked at how little reported for duty. The outlying lands had already slipped into a state of local obsession, and the force mounted to quell the Valrorim rebellion was not enough. The Ahros line did not disappear, but retreated to their land on the east side of the Ahros Sea, and still rule the isthmus and the area bounded by Rull, Durrow, and Milngavie. The former Emperor has kept these lands, in title, south of Rull, and retreated to becoming a King again. But the King of Ahros is still remote and dissolute, and forever plots his revenge on the Valrorim. The problem with remote governance combined with weak and somewhat despotic local governance, is that the lands became more insular, and wild lands (such as the Howgath Deeps) became welcome to monsters and humanoids. This has greatly increased the risk of the land, and further destabilizes the area, and the Kingdom really only has control over the coast of the Strait of Ahros, from Rull to Milnagavie, but not penetrating deep into the Howgath Deeps.
The prevailing attitude of Ahros is “lawful evil”. There is roughly a rule of law, but it is harsh, over burdensome to the peasantry, and riddled with corruption.
There are many parts of the former Ahros lands that have fallen into actively evil hands. Much of the Howgath Deeps is impassable by travelers or merchants, due to the rise of some humanoid domains. Bonegate, north of Durrow, has re-awakened. The Swelter is a den of hags, lizard men, and Yuan-ti, with gangs of Merrow and Sea Hags off the coasts – the latter making sea travel around the peninsula to Durrow very treacherous.
Castorhage is the capital of Ahros, and has been their seat of power for centuries. It was once a mighty city, and is still very impressive - sitting on an island in a bay - but it has fallen into a den of depravity and evil. Castorhage is the Frog God Games supplement called The Blight, and it is often referred to that way across the Havis lands. The still-good Valrorim and Havisfolk look upon Castorhage with shudders, and the character of the city, more than anything, caused the Valrorim to leave it’s power largely intact, superstitiously fearing it. While there are seemingly official rules, the king is all but faded, the Princesses are remote, and at the heart of it all is a deep, seductive, and sinister evil that is rotting the city. Who knows what would happen if that poison began to spread in the world?
Rull is a bleak, hostile town on the plains in the north marches of Ahros, at the crossroads to Durrow. Outside of Rull, a bandit lord, Reed Redfist, has established a small territory that is growing in this area that Ahros has lost control of, and Valrorim never really controlled. To the north, the dwarves of Galdus lock their doors and double the guard on any trade on the road.
The coast around Durrow is notorious for it’s sahuagin infestation, making sea trade very difficult.
There is some trade also from the east side of the Galdurang Undermountain passage.
Durrow is also soon to beleaguered by re-awakened power in Bonegate.