The city of Fortitude is a scar on the face of the land. Once it was the mighty prison-fortress of an ancient empire. Its rulers believed that criminality was inherited, and so it filled the prisons with entire families of recidivists. That empire has long since fallen to dust, but the prison remains, and has taken on a life of its own. Over centuries, the prison and the walls meant to contain it expanded outward, while the tunneled wards beneath the surface spread like roots.
Fortitude is a place where the strongest and most ruthless rise to the top; where there is no law but what the strong decree, where entire tribes of prisoners toil in darkness, harvesting valuable plants and gems for the gangs that run the prison. The gangs in turn trade with the Realm and the Guild for necessary imports.
Fortitude is a place where the darkness is worshiped, the winter is hated, and every man believes he is cursed. It is a place where people are born believing that only their deaths can atone for their lives, and that the only way to erase the stain of darkness on one’s soul is to lead a heroic life and to die an immortal death.
Deep in the underground, deep down in the farthest-reaching mineshafts, there are tunnels carved by no mortal man. Down in the black dust dwells the primal god of Fortitude. It is from this being that they derive their fatalist religion. Once every few generations, the prison produces an alliance of gangs that turn their gaze from controlling the prison to conquering neighboring provinces, and they rampage across the region until the Realm or another power puts a stop to them.