The Immortal Principality of Ustalav (pronounced OO-stah-lahv) is a fog-shrouded realm of countless horrors. A once proud realm that was shattered at the clawed hands of the Whispering Tyrant.
Ustalav has always been ruled by a single king since the ancient days when it was first unified, unfortunately the line of king was broken during the Whispering Tyrant’s reign and the kings who rule now are but a shadow of the rulers of old. Leadership of the land has become particularly contentious since the death of the so called “Eunuch Prince” Valislav Ordranti who left behind no official heir when he died in 4674 AR. His brother Prince Aduard Ordranti III stepped into the mantle of king, a role he was ill suited for. The whole affair was complicated when the Eunuch Prince’s longtime companion Millaera Caliphvaso gave birth to a bastard child she claimed was the son of the Eunuch Prince, the claim caused a huge scandal and Millaera disappeared shortly after making these claims. Her child Reneis Ordanti was adopted and raised by his devious and conniving aunt Countess Carmilla Caliphvaso. Rumour has it that the Countess has her eyes firmly set upon the throne with Reneis having reached manhood. Other darker rumours whisper that she may have her incestuous eyes set on the crown of queen, willing to marry her own nephew to get it.
Beneath the scheming and squabbling of the decadent royal family the actually running of the country falls to (for the most part) lesser nobility. Ustalav was split into sixteen counties centuries ago to stop squabbling between varies families and factions of the original sixteen only twelve remain, not including the undead haunted wasteland now known as Virlych. Of these nine are governed by the nobility while the remaining three are ruled in a more unusual although no less exploitative way. In 4670 AR the northern province of Lozeri overthrew there hereditary ruler, placing a council of less than noble citizens in charge in place of their former decadent duke. This approach caught on and soon two of the neighbouring counties had also threw off the rule of the nobility in bloodless coups. These three states Lozeri, Canterwall and Vieland are together known as the Palatinates.
The history of Ustalav begins with it settlement by various Varisian families but Ustalav does not become a real nation until the ancient hero Soividia Ustav united the disparate Varisian settlements creating the land that would bear his name. For five centuries after Ustav’s conquest the country existed in a state of near constant feuding with the clannish Varisian families constantly quarrelling with each other over various small issues. To prevent the civil war that seemed to be looming on the horizon the nation was split into sixteen different counties each ruled by its own noble family who answer to the Monarch (descended from Ustav). This changed eased tensions within Ustalav and led to the golden age of Ustalav.
The golden age of Ustalav was cut tragically short, by a dark secret that had festered in the very earth of Ustalav since before the first settlers has claimed this land as their own. Unknown to the rulers of the land the remains of the immortal warlord Tar-Baphon had been buried beneath the soil of Ustalav. In 3203 AR Tar-Baphon rose again as the Whispering Tyrant, a Lich of incredible power. After his rebirth as a Lich the Whispering Tyrant set about creating vast armies of undead and united the orcs of the neighbouring Hold of Belkzen, his first conquest was Ustalav and it became the basis for his burgeoning empire. For nearly half a century the rotting remains of proud Ustalav languished under the rule of the Whispering Tyrant. It was not until 3754 AR that the first glimmer of hope came when distant Taldor launched the Shining Crusade it was not until 3828 AR, three quarters of a century after the crusade began, that the shadow of the Whispering Tyrant was lifted from Ustalav. Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant was imprisioned in his haunted capital of Gallowspire but Ustalav lost four of its counties, two of the counties became the haunted wasteland that surrounded Gallowspire and two counties were given to the Crusader to allowing them to create Lastwall as a permanent protector against any resurgent horrors. Ustalav rose against after the Whispering Tyrant’s defeat and was renamed the Immortal Principality of Ustalav but the kingdom has never quite been the same, its recovery was slow and its rulership ever since the line of Ustav was broken has not been as just and noble.
Ustalav lies on the very northern tip of Lake Encarthan surrounding much of Avalon Bay, the most northern reach of the Lake. Ustalav’s position is precarious as it is located next to two hostile nations; the orc inhabited Hold of Belkzen to the east and the demon infested Worldwound to the north. It neighbours to the west are not much better, they maybe human nations but they include the tyrannical land of the living god Razmiran, the constant chaos of the River Kingdoms and barbarian kingdom of Numeria. Considering the nature of their neighbours it is no wonder that many of Ustalav’s inhabitants are insular and distrusting of foreigners. Only along the south east border does Ustalav find a friendly neighbour, the country of Lastwall. The geography of Ustalav is a hugely varied, split into thirteen different counties each with their own unique geography. If there is one geography feature that dominates the entire country it is the Hungry Mountains that encapsulate an entire county in their stony reaches.
Split into twelve different counties each of Ustalav’s counties is a unique realm ruled by either a family of nobles or a council of ruling citizens. The ruler of each realm has to answer to the monarch Prince Ordranti but is allowed to rule his county almost independent of him. The counties are generally divided into two different types, the the Soivoda which are still ruled by their hereditary noble family that has ruled since the counties were created millennia ago. The counties of Soivida are the most numerous and take up all of Ustalav except its north western corner. The other set of counties are known as the Palatinates and cover only the north western corner of the country. Unlike the other counties they are not ruled by any sort of feudal nobility but are instead run by councils of prominent citizens. Finally there is Virlych, not technically a county but the remains of two counties, Virholt and Grodlych, that were left a wasteland nearly a millennia ago. Now the forsaken land of Virlych is not inhabited and is part of Ustalav in name only.
All information lifted from the Pathfinder Wiki at http://pathfinder.wikia.com/