Humanoid life has surely been present on Occident for many millienia. The earliest artifacts indicating humanoid habitation have been found in the southeast of what is now Arcland, and date from 4000 BP at the very latest. Already the presence of elven and dwarven life is indicated alongside that of humanity. History, however, has not preserved very much of what those early folk might have been like.
From stone carvings and left over artifacts, it is known that most of Occident was ruled by a civilization called Idiya. Modern scholars know very little about Idiya apart from the fact that they had a rich spiritual life, believing that the gods walked amongst them in disguise and took an extremely active role in day-to-day events. They were nominally ruled by an emperor who was believed to be a god himself, but tribal leaders had most of the real power.
Idiyan culture apparently had a morbid fascination with dragons, which were also their most common foes, along with barbarians and monsters that apparently ruled the north and east parts of the continent. Most Idiyan relics are long lost, although a few ancient stone structures still remain. Many of these are six-sided obelisks engraved with runes. Historians suggest these were religious altars of some kind, although cryptohistorians disagree.
Occident was last unified 1,700 years ago by an empire called Gideon. At its height around 800 BP, Gideon stretched all the way across Occident from east to west, with only a few barbaric tribes holding out along the southern peninsulae. It was a democracy early in its history, but fell to became an empire, and later a theocracy. It spent the last 300 years of its existence in decline, before crumbling overnight in 417 BP.
The next four centuries are ill-remembered. It was a period of near constant conflict; Occident was home to hundreds of different nation-states at war with one another. These wars ended all at once about 450 years ago with the return of dragons to Occident, and the signing of The Pact. Four dragon broods, the reds, blues, silvers, and brasses, secretly took the reins of the four greatest powers of the time. These powers rose rapidly, bringing their most powerful neighbors under a unified rule, and conquering the surrounding weaker duchies. These four empires expanded their borders until they pressed against each other. Then, as the dragons secretly agreed upon, they stopped. They signed a four-way peace treaty called the Pact; which marked the end of the Age of Conflict and the beginning of what is sometimes called the Age of Pact, or the Pax Pacti. The Occidental Calendar (OC) uses the year of the Pact signing as year zero, and reckons earlier dates by years Before the Pact (BP).
The fact of draconic control was unknown to humanoids until eight years ago (451 OC) when increasing suspicions and religious tensions made the facade no longer tenable. Since then, some people have called the current age the Age of the Dragon Kings.
Today the four great dragon kingdoms still exist, but the peace between them has been broken multiple times. The Pact, heavily amended, now serves as a foundation for international law, including the laws of war, but not as any sort of peace treaty. Still, all four sides abide by the rules of the Pact strictly. These rules call for chivalry amongst the nations, and provide for such things as rules of engagement, treatment of prisoners, the rights of captured cities, how to negotiate truces, et cetera.
Most of Occident’s land area is claimed by the four major civilizations: Arcland, Gard, Lasant and Urst. The rest is comprised of vassal states, or semi-independent nations under the influence of the four great powers. The only state truly independent of these four is the city-state of Gomina, a militantly neutral city-state in the center of the continent, whose independence is guaranteed by gold dragons.
The four big civilizations are actually comprised of a number of smaller semi-autonomous units, which can be as kingdoms in their own right. Furthermore, there are a number of places in Occident which may theoretically belong to one empire but in fact are no-man’s land, such as the Grovine Forest, the Paparoneck Swamp in the southeast, and much of the Tapuachian Mountains between Lasant and Urst.
Occident is one of two continents that forms a rough band around the northern hemisphere of Meier. The other is Orient. It is not correct to speak of one as being East and the other as West, because the universally agreed-upon Prime Meridian (actually a great circle) bisects both continents. Orient is about half again as large as Occident, length-wise, although Occident is “fatter” from north to south, and has a wider range of climates.
Urst, which occupies most of Occident’s northern coast, is a cold land. The northern coast is almost permanently frozen, and a mix of tundra and cold plains dominates the northernmost part of the continent.
A large mountainous area, the Tapuachian mountains, runs from the western part of the north continent in a south-southeast direction almost to the southern coast.