Click on regions to explore in more detail.
- Dolmatenine Isthmus – Heart of the Mortan Empire
- Sirano Coast – First conquered lands of the Mortans
- Dhannyrica Coast – former Animist cultures; 2nd wave of Mortan conquests
- Wild Coast – Partially settled region bordering the Northlands of Skannfyrd.
- Mortan Scablands – Arid nomad steppe and badlands controlled by the empire.
Sitting at the very heart of the continent of ghorn is the Ar-Gorna Basin. This region which is almost 4,000 miles wide has an arcane significance lost in the mists of time. During the Dawn Age, the Jotuns sculpted the mountains surrounding the basin into a circular rune of unimaginable magical power designed to protect the world of Calydorn from total annihilation by the anti-cosmic force of Chaos during the next ragnarok in the cyclical cosmic appocalypse every 50 million years. Part of the circular mountain range were flattened or completely annihilated during the Rain of Chaos at the end of the Halcyon Age. Now only the Rhundra high-priests know how this world-rune was supposed to function and how it is connected to the world-rune of Nordgaard.
To the west the basic is bounded by the Frostspire Mountains and the mountaisn of Tartharond, while in the east run the Adrinari Mountains, and the south are the Scabland Mountains. It is the northern section which is entirely missing; this range previously ran through what is now the Bantran wilds, Volsingland and Albharicum.
Within the basin are two seas separated by a mountainous Isthmus know as the Dolmatenine Isthmus. In general, the basin is overly verdant due to the concentration of nature’s anima, the abundant rainfall and the warm climate.
Today, the Mortan Empire are the heirs to this region, but despite its vigor and size, the Mortan Empire is a recent resident within the Ar-gorna Basin, and the original inhabitys settlinp it around 24,000 years ago.
Elder Races were the first to live here, then Dwarven kingdoms thrived here for centuries but were crushed by the Asrae in War of Wrath, then supplanted by the hordes of Trolls set lose on Gorn by the Tetrasor Council.
Then came the humans. Ithyans are the olive-skinned, dark-haired mortals who developed on the continent of Volturna (one of the five main five main ethnic groups). Ithyans were the first mortal settlers here, colonizing Pancephalos and the Dolmats during the Golden Age, living as hunter-gatherers in the valleys, while the highlands remained infested by Trolls.
The Theocracy of the Sacred Flame settled the south of the Dolmats, establishing towns in the coastal regions and lower valleys, and trading with the Ithyan nomads. This added the mortal race of Yamirans to the mix, a people with dark hair, pronounced cheekbones and a reddish tint to their skin.
Some of the greatest battles of the Destiny Wars were fought for control of the Dolmats, and for most of the Halcyon Age it was controlled by the Gnostic Cabal. The Trolls benefited from this conflict, working as mercenaries for both sides.
The Gnostic Cabal brought another wave of settlers to the area, this time Anthalon race of mortals (white-skinned fair-haired light eyes). The Dolatinines remained a patchwork of Ithyan, Anthalon and Yamiran settlements in the valleys separated by areas of Elder Races, Trolls, and Banebrood. After the Dark Age when Halodyne culture blossomed, a new wave of Ithyans moved in, clearing the valleys of Banebrood and building new cities. It was then that the Lichelords awoke and created the culture which became the Mortan Empire.
Mortan lands are divided into federati, which are the heartlands wherein the inhabitants enjoy citizenship, and provinces, which are more recently conquered lands ruled by military governors. At the heart of the empire rise the Dolmatenine Mountains who’s numerous ranges form the borders of the oldest of the federati. Surrounding the Dolmatenine Mountains is a band of federati referred to as the Ultra-Dolmats, while the more distant lands of the empire are mostly provinces.
Cultures of the Ar-Gorna Basin
Gripping the lands of Ghorn in its cold, gauntleted fist, the Mortan Empire is the mightiest nation on the continent, having assimilated dozens of conquered realms. This expansionist, human culture is at once magnificent and morbid, enlightened and superstitious, with the glory of its accomplishments eclipsed only by the malevolence of its methods. The winged-skull emblem of the empire – the Calva
Alata – is said to symbolize mortal transcendence of death through necromancy, but in a way it also epitomizes Mortan culture – macabre imperialism. Centered upon the metropolis of Catharsium which sits in the caldera of an extinct volcano, the empire was founded almost 800 years ago by the 13
Godeater renegades of the Scarlet Order of Enlightenment. Guarded by cohorts of the praetorian legions, these Emperors now rule from their palace-tomb within Mount Ashgod.
The immortal Lichelord emperors reputedly seek to liberate humanity from its subservience to the gods, and to empower mankind to achieve its own ascendant destiny by fashioning a world-spanning empire of Mortals.
Religious nations despise this anti-theist empire, labeling it an infernal abomination, and claim the accursed Lichelords seek only to empower themselves. The empire’s sinister use of assassination, alchemical weapons, necromancy and overwhelming military might certainly undermines its image as compassionate philanthropist, but the truth is probably that the Mortan Empire is neither a paragon of goodness nor irredeemably evil, but rather a multi-faceted, sprawling edifice of amoral decadence, defying black-and-white classifications.
Within the central federati (states) and the far-flung provinces of the empire, peace and prosperity reign, enabling a thriving network of trade and a sophisticated urban culture. This Pax Mortana is bought with the blood of its crimsonclad legions – the largest and best-coordinated military on the
entire continent of Ghorn. Cohorts of the legions march to war beneath the golden standards of the Calva Alata, supported by devastating war-machines and black magic. Civilian society is
equally well regimented with a ubiquitous civil bureaucracy, precise social strata, and a complex code of legal rights.
Mortan imperialism advocates grandiose cities of extravagant civic monuments. Vast forums, aqueducts, coliseums and mausoleums are constructed in conquered lands to imprint the world with the stamp of Mortan culture for all eternity.
Reaching skyward from the heart of Ghorn tower the Dolmatenine Mountains – a region that was settled by diverse ethnic groups during the Golden Age when the borders of the great empires of old crept back and forth across the continent. By the beginning of the Classical Age, the Dolmatinines
were home to olive-skinned Ithyans, red-skinned Yamirans, white-skinned Anthalon and eastern Kassobari, all separate independent tribes partitioned by 4,000-meter-high mountain ranges.
The Empire portrays itself as champion against all of humanity’s many enemies, among which the Mortans include the gods, blaming them for many of man’s woes. Conversely, the pantheistic cultures of the Halodynes, Wyldfolk and Skannfyrd view the anti-theist empire as a rapacious monstrosity; but it was not through oppressive might alone that the Mortan Empire was built, rather in many lands the legions were welcomed with rose-petal joy as deliverance from the tyrants or anarchy which had previously prevailed.
Masterminding the Empire’s ascent are the Lichelord Emperors who wield more power than any of the Asrae gods, and to date only one has ever been destroyed. At the turn of each decade one of the Lichelords takes the Ashgod throne during the bombastic decennial requiem, and rules as emperor for the following 10 years, assisted by the senate and the four bureaus of the empire.
In place of theistic religion the Mortans practice ghoulish ancestor worship, shepherded by the Ashen Priests of the agency known as the Ossinatum. These priests officiate at morbid ceremonies to placate the deceased and administer the catacombs, mausoleums and necropolises throughout the empire. Within these somber tombs rest the bones, corpses and the Lapis Manali (spirit stones) to which the souls of the dead are anchored in the material plane by means of necromantic rites.
Despite its amenities and proven record as champion of humanity The Empire has a dark side which many cannot endure. It is an officious and often oppressive necrocratic regime. Vast necropolises of mausoleums tower over the humble homes of the poor. Shrines of the ancestors are everywhere, requiring frequent prayers to be performed for unknown heroes just in order to walk up one’s own street. The Ordo Custodes watch citizens, reminding them of their duties. Grand festivals for the Passage of Return of the dead are performed monthly which all citizens must attend. Slavery forms the bedrock of the society, and Ogres, while mortal, are second-class citizens. In the recent times of hardship people are encouraged to disregard the needs of the living body, and harsh training abounds.
A man’s life is worth nothing except in relation to his ancestors, and greetings address only one’s forefathers, not the actual person. Paranoia and fear rule the streets, while rich families live in splendor. Bread and blood-sports pacify the masses that bear the tax burden of financing ever more legions. Citizens feel comfortable in their cities, but outsiders consider them dark, oppressive, with buildings piled against each other and large government structures towering over the normal citizen’s dwellings.
History of the Ar-Gorna Basin
The Elemental Age
(22,000 bsc – 16,000 bsc)
- Dwaves settle the mountains of the Argorna basin, with Niads settle the two seas.
- Lodestone War – Trolloth exterminate millions of Dwarves on Ghorn, Volturna and Kassobar, redressing the imbalance.
- Trolloth settle much of the vacated lands, including the Dolmatenine Mountains, becoming masters of the basin.
The Dawn Age
(12,000 bsc – 8,000 bsc)
- A demon lord and his retinue settle in the Basin, but fearing this enemy might discover their secret creation (Mortal races), the Asrae gods employ the Troglodytes to wage a merciless war upon the demons, driving them out.
(circa 8,000 bsc – 6,500 bsc)
- Ithyan mortals migrating from Volturna reach the Ar-Gorna basin and begin settling it through the Soranor gap. The Dwarves of the Adrinori Mountains sees the mortals as potential allies against the Troglodytes who rule the basin.
- Across the world of Calydorn new mortal empires rise from the ashes of the 100 Gleaming Cities.
- On Ghorn, The Hhapparon Republics emerges and control the east side of the Ar-gorna Basin. The Holy Tartos Empire controls the northern Coast of the Basin and the Minaxon Empire holds the south-eastern side of the basin. During their oaccasional wars the Basin becomes a battleground. These Empires reached their peak with many densely populated cities.
- The Dreamweaver culture brings permanent peace between the three empires. Dreamweaver culture becomes very popular in the basin. A long period of prosperity and happiness follows.
- The clique from the Danwfire Lands known as the Scarlet Order of Enlightenment consumes the soul of the sleeping Dawn God Inkurtha, sparking the Everkill War.
- After the war, twenty members of the order repent, but 13 break away, becoming known as the 13 Godeaters. They achieve immense power by consuming the souls of further demigods and demons.
- The Godeaters develop Necromancy and go into hibernation for several ages, awaiting the prophesied time of awakening when they shall become the masters of all humanity.
The Halcyon Age
(circa 6,500 bsc – 4,000 bsc)
- The continent of Ghorn is conquered by three empires, each bringing a different race of mortals to the region: Anthalon with the gnostic Cabal from the West, Yamirans with the Theocracy of the Sacred Flame from the south, and Kassobari with the Kassobari Khanate from the east. The Dolmatenine Mountains form the melting pot of all four races as they collide near the centre of Ghorn.
The Dark Age
Age of Ancients
The Blessed Age
- 1560 SC -The Halodyne civilization reaches its zenith and settlers build states around the Sirano Sea. The Dolmatenine peoples belong nominally to the Threxian Empire of the Halodynes, but when the empire fragments, they become independent.
The Age of Woe
(1,800 sc – 2,930 sc)
- 1800 SC – After centuries of hibernation, the 13 renegade Godeaters walk again beneath the suns as the Liche-Lords. They found the city of Catharsium on Mount Ashgod.
- The Lich-Lords move among the diverse tribes of the Dolmatenine Mtns. preaching the power of technology and magic, denouncing the Asrae for their capricious vindictiveness.
- Within decades 13 cities are raised up into powerful states, secretly under the thrall of individual Lichelords.
- 1942 SC – The 13 states meld seamlessly into a single nation known as Mortanium.
- The Mortans face their first great test in a battle for supremacy of the Dolmatenines against the Kingdom of Estochia (modern Venitum and Estocium). The 50-year war ends in Mortan victory and absorption of these new citizens.
- 1991 SC – The new nation exterminates the Troglodytes who control the Dolmatenine mountain peaks and slopes in a series of close-fought campaigns. This period of history is chronicled in the memoirs of five generals, collectively known as The Nascentenum – studied by every Legion officer thereafter.
- During the next 200 years the various ethnic peoples of Mortanium meld together, uniting as a single culture. During most of this period the defining war with the Dhannic Empire unfolds, finally ending in Mortan victory.
- The Mortans embark on 50 years of stunningly successful campaigns conquering all the remaining valleys of the Dolmats. The elite Praetorian legions are founded.
- 2333 SC – The Sirano Campaign results in the conquest of the Halodyne-Threxian city-states: Pont, Sandraycium, Morvanum, Opyrum and Adurnum. The nation is re-named The Mortan Empire.
- Arathina, the Asrae Goddess of Vengeance descends on Catharsium to punish the Lichelords, but she is captured and subjected to public soul dismemberment. The Halodynes and Wyldfolk declare eternal-war upon the Mortans.
- 2382 SC – The Asrae rain meteors down upon the Mortan cities, but the Lichelords divert them into the ocean. The Asrae discover the godlike power of the Lichelords.
- The Banebrood Reaver tribes of Rovatria are systematically exterminated by the Mortans and the land cleansed of disease.
- An attempt to capture the Adrinori Mountains from the Dwarves fails with astounding Mortan losses as Nordgaard sends an army south in support. Eastward imperial expansion into Gonatar is halted.
- 2470 SC – The Mortan navy is established and over the course of 7 major battles, the Wyldfolk navy which dominated the Ar-Ghorna Sea is smashed. The legions conquer Annyricum, Almosh and Albharicum from the Wyldfolk, and later incorporate them into the empire.
- Conquest of Dhannyricum.
- Skannfyrd Seawolf longboats from Nordmark, Scylsingland and Grünherz raid the increased commerce in the Ar-Ghorna Sea. The nuisance becomes so great that the Mortan navy spends 30 years pacifying the pirates, ending in punitive strikes against the Skannfyrd lands.
- An accident with a chaos-crystal annihilates the mountain in which some Magistratum sorcerers are working as well as an entire Mortan city of 400,000 people. Rather than ban chaos magic, the reigning emperor is so impressed that he founds the Ordo Annihilistum.
- 2513 SC – The Troglodytes of Tartharond invade the empire, overrunning it and reaching the gates of Catharsium. Their armies march with impunity through the lands but the 13 founding cities stand fast.
- The Lichelords take to the battlefield personally and Chaos magic is employed for the first time in war, destroying whole armies and cities. The Troglodytes are driven back.
- The towering magical Stormwall is built along the southern border of the empire. The first chemical weapons are developed by the Alchemists Guild.
- 2638 SC – Blocked to the east and west, the Empire turns south, conquering the Asherah basin and building a canal connecting it to the Apparonian Sea. Moprtan expansion spreads south.
- 2742 SC – A Banebrood invasion from Tartovara sweeps down into the Dolmats, laying waste to half of the empire’s states. The empire is severely mauled, requiring 50 years to recover. A triumvirate of emperors rule during this period.
- Rubikum and the Polm Steppe are pacified, becoming buffer states against Tartharond.
- Mortan conquests slow as the war with the Aetherions of Elissar escalates. Nevertheless, state after state falls in the west: Kyne, Shaynor, Ambhion, Mhelorn and Findaidh of the Wyldfolk, the Banebrood land of Tarticum, and the nomad land of Kara-Josh.
- Mortan slave revolt. 200,000 slaves rampage through the empire. A quarter escape to safety in neighboring lands.
- 2873 SC – The Mortans conquer the Fal-Dara Firelands from the Halodynes in preparation for invasion of the Halodyne city-state heartlands.
- 2891 SC – At the battle of Mavro-Chalkos, 108,000 Mortans fight a force of 140,000 Halodynes and allies. Halodyne Godquester Arthusa Goldeneye slays one of the Liche-Lords. Although victorious, the cost is so great that the Mortans seek other ways to bring down the Halodynes.
- The Emperors defile the Asrae by resurrecting pieces of the destroyed god Aesys and parading him around the empire in a cage.
- The ancient ethership technology of the Gnostic Cabal is back-engineered and a fleet of flying-ships is built. The fleet is used to capture the desert city of Zhakur which holds a portal leading to other worlds.