Pancephalos

Click on the map to explore different regions.

Overview

Like most of Gorn, Pancephalos is a patchwork of civilized regions and large stretches of barbarous wilderness.  This sub-continent stretches from the Gelion Rift in the west to the Minoxan Sea in the east, from the Glakiskar Plateau in the north to the coast of the Middle Sea in the south.

The northern portion consists of warm fertaile lands which become steppe and wastes as one travels south, and separated them from the Kharkos Desert is the longest river on Gorn – the Halocine.

Civilization exists primarily around the periphery, while the deserts are a land of unrivalled brutality fashioned in the desperate struggle for survival by competing nomadic tribes. Dozens of cultures and empires have risen and fallen down through the ages, and today it is dominated by the Halodynes, although the Mortan Empire has recently conquered considerable swathes of the sub-continent.

Major Regions

Pancephalos contains the source of two civilizations as well as four major cultures and a dozen minor cultures.

Civilizations:

Mortan Empire: The western side of the csubcontinent holds the heartland of the Mortan Empire between the Ar-ghorna and Sirano Seas. From there, the Mortans spread east along the Halocine river, and north into the barbarian lands but most predominantly south and west, and from there around the southern coast of Pancephalos.  Sitting inside the middle of this giant ring of power is the immense Kharkos Desert.

Halodyne City States: The region known as Kalkokitos (Bronze Lands), surrounds the Metronian and Tonoran Seas. Around the seas grew the city States which gave birth to the Halodyne civilization.  That civilization was carried across half the world in two waves. Firstly by the settlers from these city states near the height of their power, and secondly by Jendor the glorious, the demigod emperor of Threxia. Although Jendor’s empire fragmented into a dozen Holy Sees, each controlled by the high Priesthood of the 12 major deities, Halodyne culture can still be found two continents away on Kassobar.  Similarly, the City states lost control of their more distanrt colonies, which were mostly in Pancephalos.  The actual city states of of Kalkokitos have changed little over the last thousand years. At their height, they controlled the Okhron to the North, gonatar to the west, and the scablands to the south, as far as the Halocine River. Most of those conquests have since been lost, but today the Amazons live on the periphery around Kalkokitos.

Major Cultures

Tauran Empire: Just to the south of the Halodyne lands of Kalkokitos sits the Tauran Empire. At one time these were Halodyne lands, but now they belong to the Banebrood – specifically the Tauran Emperor who sits on the throne of Minaxos in a mockery of the Minaxon Empire.

When the Baneplague first exploded across the world, warping Mortals intop cannibal barbarians and man-beast hybrids, the Minaxon Empire was one of the most densely populated and powerful lands in existence.  For this reason it became overrun with Beast-Spawn and has remains so except for the apex of Halodyne power when they were driven into the surrounding wastelands.

Today, the Tauran Empire is in near perpetual war with the Halodynes on their border, but their power extends east across the sea to the southern coast of volturna, and south the the northen tip of Notara.

Kassobari Lands: the Kassobari hail originally from the continent of Kassobar, but the during the Halcyon Age, the Kassobari Khanate spread west across the continent of Kassobar, conquering the continent of Volturna and even settling the west of ghorn.

The War of Destinies consumed the three great powers of that age, the theocracy of the Sacred Flame, the ;nostic Cabal and the Kassobari Khanate, but remnants still exist on ghorn today, where Kassobari is still spoken and sorcery is their primary belief. In these lands they still practice summoning and binding of the ancient fallen god-spirits known as Efreet, Djinn, Shighul and Marid.

The eastn edge of the Kharkos Desert is known as the Jamjinn Desert. Here are cities built around vast oasese.

On the east coast of Pancephalos are the Kassobari lands of Kur-Karesh and Hedjanos, as well as the Penjazip Desert which is largely controlled by Kassobari Nomads.

Stygians: The creatures who worship the Stygian gods of Darkness are known collectively as the Stygian races.  They are spread far and wide, but on Pancephalos they hold the Okhron Mountains to the north of the Halodyne lands. The Lamias, gorgons and other creatures of the night wage a relemntless war upon the northen Halodyne city-states, and they have been gaining ground steadily.

Solar Theocracy: In ages past, it is said that the elemental Fire race of Salamanders spread worship of Fire and especially the sun to the mortals around them. On the southern continet of Volturna, the Mortals developed a culture known as the Theocracy of the Sacred flam.  Its Pharoah became the first Mortal to discover the arcane sacrament coverting Mortal Souls into elemental spirits. The Theocracy grew until ist spanned continents including North into {horn, as Far north as the Scablands. After its defeat and retreat back south, it left numerous lands where population retains the Sacred Flame culture and especially sun-worship.

For example the firelands of Fal Dara and sinterash in the North, and the sun-worshipping nomads of the Kharkos Desert. Many of the lands along the south coast of ghorn are also Sun-worshipping nations, even though they have been controlled byb the Halodyne city states and now by the godless Mortan Empire.

 

Minor Cultures

White-Horse Nomads: The Kharkos Desert is home to the Sun-worshipping Nomands who ride reptilian mounts, as well as the god-worshipping amazons. There is a third major nomadid culture within the desert – the White Horse Nomads.

These humans of Ithyan ethnicity are horse-nomads from the continent of Volturna.  Their lands were swallowed by the Minoxan Empire as it spread eastward across Volturna, but the empire was unable to digest what it had swallowed.  The Red-horse were relocated to Gorn by the Empire; some say because they were an internal threat, others say to steal their land, and some say as a reward for their assistance during a great war.  Records from hundreds of years later show that they were instrumental in turning the tide for Minaxos when the empire faced its greatest threat during the Trolloth Wars.

When the Theocracy came to Gorn thousands of years later, they found the Red-horse clans had survived the Baneplague unaffected.  The Theocracy sent missionaries among them, but was largely unable to draw them away from their Animist religion worshipping Dhannya – mythical mother of the cosmos.

The Animist faction called the Holdfast seeks to strengthen the sacred anima of Dhannya within the desert.  To the uneducated eye, the desert sands look lifeless, but even the inner desert is teeming with insects, scorpions and other creatures adapted to survive here.  The Verdant Faction seeks to change the desert to arable land, by encouraging the expansion and formation of oases.

These White-Horse People roam Pancephalos from the southern coast to the northern Kara-Josh, but are most prevalent in the former lands of the Leonite Empire, including the Rekhensis Desert, Lapith and Chokren.  Their mounts are elegant, refined horses with great endurance, and which are invariably white. These steeds are accustomed to the desert.  Tribes form no organized clan structure, and one tribe meeting another might never see that particular tribe again during their own lifetimes due to the vastness of the Karkhos desert.  White-horse generally herd goats and gazelles.  Their armor is of hardened leather and lamellar. Clothing is normally of soft natural leather.  They typically possess olive skin and thick dark-brown hair, which is often curly.

Amazons: This Ithyan people which originated on the continent of Volturna to the east, once consisted of men and women.  They were feared as the most bloodthirsty warriors of the Ithyan race, and it was this rapacity which caused their downfall, for several of the Asrae grew angry at their unabated despoiling of temples.  Even after receiving an ultimatum from the gods, they invaded the Jebelnos Basin, the sacred homeland of the Ithyan race, and set about subjugating the peoples there.  For that reason, the gods cursed the Amazons with the inability to produce male children.  Some thought that would be the end of the Amazon people, but the hardy women-folk took up arms and defended themselves against all comers.  Future generations bred with males of other tribes, and so a matriarchal culture survived.  It was pressure from the expanding Banebrood hordes which caused these people of Volturna to migrate west.  Their exodus carried them across the continental bridge to the island of Lemnitis and there to Araxos, but when the migration became an invasion, the Halodynes of Araxos blocked the bridge, forcing the Amazons to take the southern bridge into former Minaxos.  After enduring a long journey through these Banebrood lands, they eventually found a new home on the plains and in the wastes of Pancephalos north of the Karkhos desert.

The warm waters of the Thermodon River flow out from the volcanic Firetongue Mountains, forming a fertile valley almost 2,000 miles long.  This is the heartland of the Amazons, and although they have several towns here, the majority of the people are nomadic.  The Amazon tribes have no central government, and convene a council of Matriarchs only during times of crisis.  A close alliance with the Halodyne republics, the Whiteplume Aviarchy and the northern Firedrakes has developed.  The Banebrood of Minaxos and the Trolls of the Tartharond are their greatest enemies, although warfare against Mortans, Karkhosians and White Horse is also common.

Amazons herd goats, deer, cattle and horses.  They ride an animal called a Zempala, which is a fast and graceful creature with black and white stripes.  Amazons armor is almost exclusively obtained from Halodyne lands, but their clothes are more flamboyant, due to their love of colorful linens and silks, feather plumes, and silver jewelry.   As well as being nomadic herders, they maintain a large number of mounted hunters armed with bow and cavalry Kopis.  Standard warriors are armed with bow and spear.  Heavier cavalry cataphracts wearing suits of scale wield the Kontos and ride the Stallions of the largest breed of War-Zempala.

 Karkhosian Bedouins:  Karkhosians are descendents of Yamira mortals from Notara.  All are sun-worshipers, and are well adapted to life in the inner deserts.  Karkhosians have red-hued skin, black hair and thick eye-lashes.  Many wear their hair shaved or partially shaved, and the rest is normally braided.  Karkosians wear linen loin-cloths and robes in hues of yellow, orange or red.  They carry square wooden shields, often with colorful designs.  As is the custom of Notara, they use a kohl eye-liner.  Leaders and heroes wear feather headdresses, and the warriors all have torso armor made from bones.  Their social standing can be determined by the length of their feather headdresses.  Warriors wear chest armor of bones.  They generally ride the 2-humped, Notaran camels, and herd large desert lizards (Horned-Lizards and Sandosaurs, as well as the flightless Memic birds.  These tribes have also mastered the Diplosaur – a giant desert lizard with long neck and two humps.  These beasts are used to carry huge quantities of trade-goods, and caravans of them travel the main trade routes of the deserts. Ritual scarification and piercing is common.  During festivals they erect large sun-dance tents.  During their lifetimes, every Karkhosian is expected to make a pilgrimage the five main holy places where Morguri enacted his legendary deeds on Gorn.

Kish Riders – Descended from invaders of the Kasobar Khanate, these riders are nomads riding large birds with the head resembling a dog, called Simurgh.  They follow their herds of sable, goats, memic (flightless) birds and horses across the lands below, and live in traditional yurts.  They will occasional mount raids upon skylands, bringing them into conflict with demons, sylphs and Banebrood.  Kush Riders are of Mangon descent, and possess traditional features of high cheek-bones and epicanthic (slanted) eyes.  Due to several millennia of interbreeding with local races, their hair and eyes can vary from dark brown to black.  They generally wear fur caps, leather kaftans, baggy pants and boots.   Warriors often wear chainmail or lamellar.   Religion is administered by spirit shamans who specialize in summoning and controlling Arphanatos entities such as Djinn, efreet and even minor Krakos.  They also revere the Vanitans, especially the various sky-related gods and demigods.

 Makaar Tribes (Elder Race) – Makaars are a race of furry humanoids resembling Mongoose or weasels.  They have black-and-white fur and face markings like raccoons and lemurs.  They are ubiquitous living in the outer deserts, wastes and mountains of Pancephalos.  Makaar are nomadic herders and traders.  Their neutrality allows to trade with every race and nation, even with Banebrood, Trolls and demon-realms.  This also means they are utterly distrusted by all other races.

 Sand Trolls and Desert Gnolls – These creatures can be found in many of the wastes and outer deserts, sometimes as scavenging warbands on foot, but mostly as nomads mounted on Capricorns and Rhinos.  Sand Trolls are unaffected by heat, but they do hate the sun.  They have adapted by wrapping their limbs, torsos and heads in bands of black cloth.  Over this they often wear additional black tunics and cloaks.  Sand Gnolls do not suffer so severely, and normally wear simple black sack-robes.  Sand Trolls generally sleep beneath the sand during the day, and roam at night.

 Firedrakes – Firedrakes are the best adapted race for the harsh conditions of the central desert since they require very little water.  The smallest of the species known as Draklings, stand 1 meter tall, and roam the deserts on Sand Toads.  Their larger cousins, the Drakors are slightly taller than humans, and ride the 4-legged, scaly Horned Lizards.  The largest of the fire races are known as Scalorex, who ride the 2-legged Sandosaurs and the giant Diplosaurs.  The Firedrakes of the Karkhos Desert have yellow scales rather than the orange or Red of most other locations. They are generally sun-worshipers rather than fire-worshipers, and are normally known as Sand-Drakes.

 

Pancephalos through the Ages

Elemental Age

  • Elder Races populate Pancephalos, particularly Vulpines, Dilar and Makaar.

Age of Immortals

  • Niads settled the Halocine river and Tritons settle the shores.
  • Dwarves build several great kingdoms within the deserts, arriving through the portal at Zhakur.
  • The Mystic Hierocracy spreads inwards from the coasts, and Tetrassor Council is formed to check them.  Pancephalos is a key battlegorund.  Theros is destroyed and the Trolls scatter to the mountains and deserts.
  • The Aetherions settled a kingdom of Shallilah in the Kharkos Desert.  This was one of the Five Utopias of Gorn

Dawn Age

  • The Ithyan Race migrates from Volturna.  Several Mortal kingdoms arise known as the Hundred Shining Cities, where the gods, Aetherions and mortals stand together against the demonic invasions.

Halcyon Age

  • The Minoxan Empire grows mighty, building the continental bridges to Volturna.
  • The Dreamweaver Culture spreads across the lands.
  • When the Everkill War began, the Aetherions turned on the Mortals of Pancephalos and massacred them.
  • The Baneplague turned most mortals to Banebrood, becoming common all over Pancephalos, focused around Minaxos which was the major centre of population.
  • The Asrae Pantheons fight the War of Shame.  The Ithyans are drawn into the war against the northern tribes and against the gods of the Kassobari.
  • The Kalkokitan people settle in Agros Bay

Golden Age

  • The Theocracy of the Sacred Flame rise to power in Notara and invade Gorn in great fleets, occupying the southlands and Eastlands of Pancephalos, establishing their capital of Infernos in Cinderdale.
  • The Kassobar Khanate rises to power, conquers Volturna and eastern Pancephalos, beginning centuries of conflict with the Theocracy.
  • The Kalkokitans are driven into the mountains and steppe.  Many fight for the 3 great empires as mercenaries during the Destiny Wars

Age of the Second Dawn

  • Malentians conquer Pancephalos, and rule for 500 years until the Asrae cause the Seven Woes, destroying the Malentian and atheist empires.

Dark Age

  • The subcontinent is in Chaos. Banebrood run rampant; Civilization collapsed in all places except a few coastal cities
  • The Kassobar Khanate fracture into three khanates – Kurtishan, Kur-Karesh and Bashakhan.

Classical Age

  • The Kalkokitans thrive under the Patronage of the Asrae, returning to their homeland.  They gods name them the Halodynes.
  • The expanding Halodynes and Gorgons of Okhron consume the Bashakhan Khanate.
  • The short-lived Leonite Empire seeks to re-establish sun worship across Pancephalos, and recapture the glory oft he Theocracy. It is wiped out by Mors as he consumes their souls, reducing the people to ape-level intelligence.
  • The Halodynes expand, settling the zone of land across Gorn between the Halocine river and the Glakiskar Plateau, as well as conquering many cities along the southern coast.
  • The Thraxian Empire explodes across the world, carrying the Halodyne culture with it.

Shadow Age

  • The reincarnating corpse-king Casander is slain never to resurrect, along with his father Aesys, god of the Halodyne pantheon. The Thraxian Empire collapses.
  • The Mortan Empire is formed and conquers most civilized areas of Pancephalos, bringing them into conflict with the Halodynes.

Present

  • Mortan power is tested on many fronts and buckles but does not break, including the loss of their conquests in Notara.
  • The new Pyron Empire of Notara gains control oft he southern seas, and preapres invasion.
  • The golden Kingdom on Nimburia conquers westward as far as Thraxia, taking them tot he doorstep of the Halodyne lands.

 

Skyland regions

 Floating above the lands of Pancephalos are another layer of cultures, living upon the Skylands, which are the shattered remains of the former world of Godangar

Maribian Republics – From the Updraft Mountains in the south, to the Turtana Mountains in the north, and from the Thermodon River eastward as far as Thraxia stretches the Sylph realm of Maribia.  Maribia consists of 18 city-state republics, most of which are located on skylands.  These small nations are united against external enemies.  Most of the republics have close ties with Halodyne city-states, and often ally during times of war such as during the Mortan onslaught into Fal-Dara, and the current Nimburian expansionism.  Between the skyland city-states roam the nomadic Pegasus herders.  Halodynes with avian mounts such as the common giant Blue Albatross or Pegasus are commonly found in the republics.  Some Sylph cities even have permanent populations of Halodynes.  Many remote uncharted skylands exist, inhabited by Gryphons, hippogryphs and monsters.  Maribia is part of the north-south avian trade route; caravans of Avidons and avian mounts bring precious wares from the Annyr lands, south to the Hedonite Coast and the Jalanon Sea.   It was from the Maribian Republics that Halodynes learned of democracy, which has spread to several of states around the Metronian Sea, although some more conservate states like Darrica consider democracy dangerously liberal.  The republics reformed from the earlier Free-Sky League which followed the collapse of the Windreach Empire.  The Windreach was an ancient empire allied with the Mystic Hierocracy, and so the sylphs here have a long tradition of liberal society.  Their enemies are the Sylph realms of Huristrum and Cerullia to the north, as well as the Skreaming Skies Banebrood realm to the south-east, and the Empire of the Rapacious Abyss (Demon Realm) to the east.

Updraft Mountains – The oldest Sylph realm existing, dating back to the first settlers on Calydorn.  The mountain region is so thoroughly infused with air-magic that earth thrown into the air takes up to a minute to land, and the winds fully obey the commands of those attuned to them. Halodyne settlers living here have learned to fly with the aid of glide-wings – silk sheets stretched over a yew frame.  Freefall is one of the most enlightened cities on Calydorn, and the destination of all air-mages seeking higher learning.  Thousands of mortals have come here to undergo Psychomorphosis – converting their souls to air spirits – but petitioners must proove a certain command over breezes, and must wait three years after their application.  Unlike fire-cults, the Sylphs are cautious about who they convert.

Turtana Mountains – craggy, dry, sandstone mountains full of Cougars, wolves, and bears.  Turtana is a contested land, and frequent war-zone due to the aggression from Okhron to the east.  Sylph patrols from their summit outposts frequently intercept demon-slavers carrying mortal captives east.  Sometimes they are able to free them, and when not, Sylph arrows deliver a speedy death.  Lower down the slopes are several small settlements of Vulpines, Caccors and Scarabs.

Cornucopian Mountains – the Maribian Republics have 4 cities and several nests located in the Cornucopian Mountains.  The Sylphs sheltered and fed the refugee Kalkokitans when their lands were invaded by the Kasobar Khanate, and during the Dark Age.  This is partly due to the influence of Sophaera and Shylera – Granddaughters of Aestros, Vanitan of Breezes, who reside in the cornucopians.  Although Sophaera and Shylera have always declined to take a position of command within the Republics, their divine lineage, wisdom and power cause many to respect their ideas.  Sophaera and Shylera are venerated as demi-gods by Halodynes.

Whiteplume Aviarchy – this Sylph realm covers the skies from the Meltlake Heights above the Aesygios Plateau southeast across the Middle Sea, the Whiteplume Aviarchy holds sway.  Their territory used to extend further westwards, but since the Mortans built their ethership bases in the Arabaal Mountains they have been forced to cede much of their skyland realm.  They possess towns upon the Akajani Hamadas and the Hedjanos Mountains.  The Whiteplume Aviarchy is only a few hundred years old, having reformed from the earlier Free-Sky League which followed the collapse of the Windreach Empire.  Many of the Sylphs of Whiteplume are descended from a culture which was part of the Mystic Hierocracy, and the Aviarchy therefore maintains a progressive mentality. At times they have fought the Cerulean Republics to their north, and the Kartalan Aviarchy of Trans-Cephalos, although all three realms are progressive and philosophically at odds with the Sylph reamls of Cerullia and Huristrum to the North and Blustria to the south, they have nevertheless engaged in numerous territorial wars.

The Screaming Skies – The skylands above the Karkhos Desert are a wild place, inhabited by Harpies, Nocturns, Shongmaw, Manticores, Chimera, Gryphons, Lamasu and Sphinxes.  Anarchy is the only political system of the Screaming Skies, but what they lack in organization and discipline the inhabitants make up for in numbers and ferocity.  The skylands of the Screaming Skies are smaller than in most other places, consisting of tens of thousands of rock chunks less than 10 miles wide.  They also vary greatly in altitude from 50 meters to 5,000 meters.  Because so few of the skylands have been properly explored, or inhabited, they draw treasure raiders from nearby regions.

Empire of the Rapacious Abyss (Demon Realm) – Above the wastelands (Makatori Desert, Silica Waste, Saranor Plains, Messana Waste, Glakiskar and Tartharond), the skylands are inhabited by demons.  As with all demons, they manifest in forms personifying the vices and fears of mortals, in this case – Fear, Horror, Insanity and Forbidden-Knowledge.  Dark towers of madness rise from these skylands, and the air is filled with screams and insane laughter.  From these citadels they launch raids on unwary travelers below.

Within this realm are countless minor skylands, sometimes inhabited by demonic bands, demented victims or mighty monsters such as Manticores and Gloomwyrms who do not fear demon-kind.  Upon many such skylands are the ruins of former Godanger, drawing foolhardy treasure hunters.