The Rean Province is the westernmost province of the Erathian Empire, and the most recent major addition to Imperial holdings. It is generally perceived as a lawless backwater, where robber barons make their wealth by controlling the trade and production of food and raw materials that are the main sources of income in the area. Life certainly is not as stable and civilised in the Rean Province as in the heart of the Empire: its people live under the constant threat of a multitude of enemies such as the rampaging orcish hordes of the south, the gnolls, goblins and other woodland threats.
70 years ago, during a time of unprecedented prosperity and stability across the Empire, the Council of Electors decreed that an expansion was to be undertaken over the Rean river, seizing control of the fertile land around the river as well as the wooded foothills of the northern end of the Worldspine Mountains, further securing Imperial lands from orc raids. Humans already inhabited these lands, with two of the major towns in the region having been established centuries past. The Empire used a combination of might and diplomacy to force the local leaders into cooperation, and organised great building efforts with companies of soldiers sent from all over the Empire patrolling the newly built roadways, keeping the people safe. The fortress town of Watchstead was built from scratch near the Old Soak, and the title of the Provincial Governor was given to its new Baron, a young scion of the von Stolt family, an ancient line of halflings with their main holdings near Providence. This was a purely political nomination based on the balance of power in the Council, and directly broke promises made to the Oakbridge family during the negotiations that brought the town of Oakbridge into the Empire. Bad blood runs deep between the two families to this day.
Things changed for the province when the Hobgoblin tribes of the Plains of the Bloodied Claw once again rose in great numbers to threaten northeastern borders of the Empire, some thirty years after the beginning of the Rean expansion. Suddenly faced with the responsibility of protecting their towns, and more importantly the outlying villages and farmlands, without external aid, the mostly inexperienced nobility of the province suffered setback after setback. Farms burned, raided by goblins. The newly built roads became unsafe, with bands of brigands lying in wait for unwary travelers. To make things worse, the enmity between the Barons of Watchstead and Oakbridge escalated to a point where soldiers wearing the colors of the other were not welcome anywhere within the lands of their neighbours.
Some 30 years ago, the new Empire-built town of Last Crossing came under attack from an especially coordinated goblin horde from the Dimwood. While goblins had always been a threat, an attack of this magnitude was almost unprecedented even going back to the pre-Imperial years. The town garrison managed to send messengers along the eastern road before they were forced to retreat across the bridge the town was named for. However, when the message arrived in Oakbridge, the old Baron was reluctant to commit his forces until he had confirmation that Watchstead would do the same. The two nobles had become so paranoid of each other that neither managed to take action before it was too late, and Last Crossing was lost after a valiant defense by its garrison.
Once word of the fall of Last Crossing and the circumstances surrounding it reached Newport, High Chancellor Vargheim was enraged. He immediately recalled both Barons to explain themselves in Newport, and when he did not like what he heard he appointed a temporary Provincial Governor for the Rean Province from among his advisors. The post being held by a Newport official was supposed to be a temporary measure but has proven to be everything else, as to this day neither Barony has been granted the title. The families are now in constant competition to impress the aging High Chancellor and prove their line worthy of being granted superiority over the other.