The Northward act was a Great Power supported law passed by the city of Marsilion in Year 40. Much like the Homestead Act on many Earths, it encouraged the development of Marsilion's villages in the metro area and the slow expansion of the city proper.
The act established the Marsilion Metro Area's dependence on the city of Marsilion, formally aligning villages within a certain distance as part of the metro area. The villages pledged allegiance to Marsilion in a loose alliance, in exchange for protection by the Army and economic cooperation, a state which has remained to this day. The Guard was also empowered to police the area around the city up to a distance of 100 km, giving them a wide jurisdiction, and allowed to work with the villages at any point.
The final establishment of the act was to allow Marsilion citizens to claim an acre's worth of undeveloped land for their own use in any area of the metro area, save for within 100 meters of the Southern Forest. This led to a slow progression of growth for villages and small farms which still continues.
The act is valid and established to this day, being one of the oldest laws on the book. People can still claim settlements to the north, as stated, for individual development. A PC can assume that he can stake a claim to a small plot of land for any purpose he likes, so long as he is actually using it.