Mord-Stavian

Jack Shear’s post on Mord-Stavian is here. This is one of the country descriptions for my upcoming book on the World Between. This is a draft.

Basic Description

The northern edge of Mord-Stavian is badlands and desert; further south, there are lush jungles. The Hundred Death Gods rule Mord-Stavian ruthlessly, managing the human population as cattle, toys, and work force, compelling them to worship and feeding from their energy.

In their native tongue, “Mord” means “the living” and Stavian means “transcending, ruling.” Mord-Stavian is ruled by those who transcend mere living, and are undead. Predictably enough, the Mords (the living) escape to Midian and other places in the World Between to escape their undead masters.

 Stylistic Feel

Not-Africa/Egypt. Rulers who are immune to age and death force their oppressed populations to build vast monuments in the deserts and jungles. Bestial jackal-headed creatures enforce the will of their undead masters. Clockworkian despots manage vast estates. Giant scarabs serve as mounts. A vast variety of undead and monsters and corrupted humans render this enormous continent deadly to visitors.

 Ruling Structure

The Necropolitan rules from its vast pyramid shrine outside Levanti, the capitol city on the River Nilus. Other extremely powerful undead or avatars of death gods rule as the Deathless Majesties, pharos or sheikh or khans. They are constantly at war, except for the Necropolitan, who rules with the authority of the Hundred Death Gods and controls a portal to the World Below that is more than enough fuel for all the Deathless Majesties.

 Stereotypes

Mordish are all black-skinned, hard-muscled, superstitious, and inclined to wear as little clothing as possible. They all have brands, ritual scarring, or some sort of bloody decoration that tells the story of their lives. They like to wear strange things on their heads and put any kind of jewelry anywhere they can pierce a hole, often deforming their flesh in the process. They are all polygamous and chauvinistic, and the women are always scheming for top position with their husband (to the point of killing babies from other wives.) Mordish can see in the dark, sense the presence of spirits or the undead, and hold their breath for a very long time.

Clockworkian undead despots have all adapted to eat human flesh whether they need it or not. They feed on pain. They are war machines built to subdue humanity, and they are all looking for a top spot to lead the next Deathfleet. They keep the Hundred Death Gods weak by constant infighting and jockeying for position; their unity would spell another world-wide war. Their egos are impossibly arrogant.

 Famous For:

Very strong workers and soldiers with high pain tolerance and few physical needs. Strange drugs grown under the influence of undead energies. Otherworldly architectural skills and magic. Fantastic locks and trap designs, with long-lasting lethality and reset capability. Stable beastman creation rituals. Unparalleled designs and rituals for making animated constructs.

 Major Cities

Levanti. This sprawling city is built on the delta of the River Nilus where it flows into the Sea of Sothak. The Necropolitan’s pyramid shrine is right outside the city and overshadows it with undying majesty. Anyone may visit, but if they are killed out of hand or imprisoned without cause, no one will rescue them. Explorers who were civil, lucky, and daring enough to survive a visit are few.

Alexandrotta. This port is the only city in Mord-Stavian that has significant traffic from the World Between. The city is open because of Nuvok-Tyre, one of the Death Gods that is obsessed with what knowledge is among the living and what is known among the dead. The vast libraries of Nuvok-Tyre are maintained by undead scholars, some with millennia of study within their experience. Those who bring knowledge not yet captured are welcome, and they may research (within bounds.) Those who bring violence find themselves overcome and destroyed by vast waves of incorporeal undead. Also, some of the libraries are spectral, scholars must cross over to study there. The books and buildings are ghosts of what burned during the Dessert War, in 5,849.

 Notable Locations

The Colossal Sepulcher of Faraad-Ka. Protected by necrotic sphinx guards, this vast necropolis is rumored to be the resting place of the first Necropolitan and founder of the Mordish culture. As he was the last ruler of Mord-Stavian to taste true death, his resting place is of major religious importance to current rulers because of his link to the Hundred Death Gods.

 Supernatural Elements

Hundred Death Gods. When the Armies of the Lady came from the World Above and pushed the Death Muster out of the World Between when time began, they did not make it to Mord-Stavian. The Hundred Death Gods have ruled there for over 7,000 years. There is some speculation that conflicts between corporeal and incorporeal undead, and between various sentient varieties, saps the strength of Mord-Stavian and keeps it from invading. In particular, clashes between those who are mummified and those who are infected with vampirism are sharp. The four best-known Death Gods are the Carrion Marquis, the Dismembered One, the Flayed Maiden, and Morgath.

Abstract Art.Mords are often spent in the hundreds or thousands as slaves building massive monuments to the ego of their undead rulers; those who escape refuse to make art that is representational, honoring the sacrifice of their brothers and sisters to the south. Instead, they focus on geometric patterns, mosaics, architecture, and other forms of decoration. These styles have really dressed up all the cities of Midian, and beyond. Scholars speculate that there may be foundational elements to inter-dimensional magics in the patterns; that some may possess the power to repel the undead.

Dervish. Mordish tribes with little or no control by undead tend to wander the edges of civilization. They go out in the desert for weird rituals, and they have an ecstatic tradition that gives them almost super-human combat ability. Little is known about these nomads; are they spies for the undead, or are they a kind of resistance force, or are they something else?

Scuttlers. Scholars piecing together the insane ravings of travelers returning from the depths of Mord-Stavian, and accounts of more mentally balanced scouts that survive, speak of scuttlers. These creatures seem to be blends of human and insect heritage, uniquely adapted for desert or jungle. They do not seem to answer to the Hundred Death Gods or to humanity, but they pursue their own inscrutable purposes, casually lethal as if they see no value in life. Scholars suspect that conflict with these scuttlers helps prevent the undead from building up another wave of invaders.

Guild of the Frayed Noose. An order of spies and assassins, their signature weapon is the kurki knife. They deal death as a meditation and an offering, and they only work for necromancers. They are based in Alexandrotta.

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