From the introduction:
The Northern Realm is a role-playing game set in a medieval world of fable. It draws from history and myth, providing a setting equal parts familiar and surreal. The Northern Realm affords many tools for the storytelling experience, which you can participate in as the player or the story master. Within this book there are many story hooks and mysteries, including the first chapter of a campaign at the end. There are also folktales, artifacts, ruins, magical creatures, gods, and, of course, heroes that can spin many stories unto themselves.
The continent of Rhen dominates the setting. Within it players can explore. It is a rich universe that can influence you, as much as you can it. Every game has players and a Story Master (SM). The Story Master is equal parts author, narrator, and god. The SM designs the story based on elements in this book and then describes events as they happen in the game world, playing the characters within and deciding how the players’ decisions affect the world. The players in turn, explore the setting the SM has created, taking turns interacting with their environment and describing what they do.
The Northern Realm is intended to be a shared story as much as a multiplayer game. Control of what happens around you by way of environmental effects, non-playable characters (NPCs), and events lands squarely in the hands of the SM, but how you influence the events around you is bounded only by your imagination. It is the SM’s job to choose a place within The Northern Realm and use the information available to him/her to build a rich environment. We have provided a plethora of resources in this book to make sure that detailed descriptions of histories, geography, cultures, magic, monsters, organizations, even fables are available for use.