Parl Pordesh, The Land of Cages
A fast whip and a strong chain can make slaves of sovereigns
Capital: Ush’tahai (pop 20,000)
Major Settlements: Ush’naar (pop 2,000), Ush’ograh (pop 1,000)
Ruler: Grand Stallion Kaava-Kamus
Government: Totalitarian military state
Major Races: Hobgoblins, Ogres, Ogre Magi, goblins (slaves), grippli (slaves)
Major Faiths: Kamus, Rolterra, Tulis
Resources: Mining, crafts, labor, horses, livestock, refined porphyrite
Languages: Varusht (common tongue), Saikana (rebel’s tongue)
Parl Pordesh has a long and mostly constant history of life on the steppes. The only thing that has greatly changed, before or after the coming of the New Gods, is the race of the oppressors. Parl Pordesh has always been a slave state, a nation where the strong rule the weak and strength is defined as much by the quality of one’s horse as by might of arms.
In Parl Pordesh’s early history, there is a mention of a great nation from ‘across the sea’ arriving with a message of peace and cooperation. These people brought with them chests of simple baubles and other meager gifts, assuming they would be trading with savages too ignorant to understand real value. Unfortunately for the newcomers, the people of the Parl saw value in the strange long-legged animals aboard their ships and steel weapons carried by their envoys’ guards.
In a mass, the tribesmen of Parl Pordesh swarmed the newcomers, killed all but a handful of them and took everything aboard their vessels. The people of the Parl, superstitious and distrustful of sea travel, intended to load the survivors of their attack into their ships and set fire to them, sending the blood and blasphemies of the newcomers back to their gods in ashes.
In a move of surprising industry and ingenuity, the ruling Stallion of one tribe fought for the right to speak to the elders in charge. After defeating three other Stallions in challenge, he presented another plan entirely. ‘Let this little group take one ship and leave. They have only seen a few hundred of us and when they return to their homeland, many more vessels will come with soldiers and animals and weapons to scour us from the world.’
‘Would this not be madness?’ the elders scoffed at his suggestion. Then the victorious Stallion explained his plan in full. The tribes could encamp along the coast and wait for these vessels to come. Armies bring supplies and laborers, everything needed to maintain their forces. These would be rich prizes for the people of the Parl. If they killed the newcomers now, all they would gain is a few horses and a wagon full of steel. If they waited, they could have enough horses to breed and slaves capable of making all the steel they could ever need.
It did not take the elders long to agree to the Stallion’s plan. A season later, all went as the visionary chieftain had foreseen. Many ships came and soldiers poured forth in righteous anger. Instead of facing hundreds of horsemen, they were overwhelmed by thousands. The folk of the Parl claimed their prizes and for his brilliance in bringing the tribes together in such prosperity, the chieftain was crowned as the first Grand Stallion of Parl Pordesh.
This unity of the tribes survived centuries of war, famine and trials that have shaken many lesser nations. Through it all, the strong bonds of tradition, honor and might helped the Parl survive and grow stronger. When the Parl fell to final defeat, it was to the only thing that could take them down – a force almost exactly like themselves.
The powers unleashed by the coming of the New Gods brought with the attentions of the Divine. One in particular, Kamus the Slaver, looked over the land of the horsemen and saw people with strength, integrity and a culture of slavery and dominion. He laid claim so fast that Parl Pordesh became one of the first Landed nations. With Kamus came many creatures from his domain back on the doomed world from whence he had come. Giants, wyverns, ogres and others spilled out into the hills surrounding the steppes of the Parl.
With them came what would eventually be the doom of the horsefolk – clans of hobgoblins. These malicious humanoids took one look at the fertile, abundance land of Parl Pordesh and decided it had to be theirs. Like the human tribes of old, they banded together and united in Kamus’ name. Knowing that untested strength breeds weakness, the Slaver was content to let both sides fight for dominion.
Though the human empire of the steppes fought bravely and savagely, they could not match the power of the hobgoblin’s armored cavalry. The battles were not all one-sided and for a time it looked like the human tribesmen might actually gain the upper hand in the war. Seeing a shift in power, an ogre mage approached the Grand Stallion of the tribes and offered to throw the weight of the ogres behind the human side of the conflict.
The Grand Stallion, certain of his victory already, had the ogre mage driven violently from his court, vowing that his people would never consort with ‘monsters’ like him. This was the mistake that cost the human tribes everything. When the hobgoblins next took the fields in battle, they rode with hundreds of ogres and hill giants stomping behind them, hurling boulders. By the time the war fires faded, every last human in Parl Pordesh was dead, food for the humanoid hordes now in command of their nation.
Now the Parl is a humanoid kingdom with a hobgoblin Grand Stallion, wearing a crown of porphyrite, ruling from the Windswept Throne in the name of Kamus the Slaver.
For many years the hobgoblins of the Parl have ruled over their own kingdom with an iron hand. Rarely a content race, they have had an eye for conquest ever since they secured their grip on the steppes. They have been slowly building up stockpiles of porphyrite from ample mines of the valuable crystal scattered all over their land. This crystal provides them with weapons and siege engines, the latter capable of smashing through porphyrite barriers long enough to launch lightning raids into other lands.
Growing discontent among the creatures lurking in the hills has become a problem in recent years. The ogres, while mostly happy to serve as enforcers for the hobgoblin hordes, have interbred with their ogre magi leaders for many generations. This has slowly increased their average intelligence level to the point where some have started to question whether the hobgoblins have the right or might to rule them any longer. If strength of arm is the whole of the law in the Parl, surely no hobgoblin is as strong as even the weakest ogre.
This mode of thought is not limited to the ogrish folk. Hill giants, of whom there are several families living in porphyrite-buttressed steading halls all around the borders of Parl Pordesh, are growing larger than the hobgoblins’ tribute of livestock and grain can support. Eventually they will have to either negotiate for greater offerings or arm themselves and take what they need. The latter is more likely.
Ush’tahai is a massive tent city visible for miles in all directions because of its position at the heart of the steppe’s widest plain and its many brightly-colored banners. On a windy day, Ush’tahai almost looks like it is on fire, burning in every fluttering color of the spectrum. Ush’tahai is the capital city of the land, home to the Parl’s largest slave market, its most advanced porphyrite forges and all the best horse farms. The Grand Stallion of the Parl tribes makes his home here along with the cores of all his armies.
Ush’naar exists purely as a necessity and no self-respecting hobgoblin stays there any longer than he or she must. Ush’naar is a ‘breed city’, a gathering place for slaves intended to ensure more generations of servants for the tribes. It is here that the goblins and grippli are forced to mate and their offspring removed for fosterage and indoctrination elsewhere. All rumors that the two races have interbred created a mixed race called a grobbli are viciously suppressed.
Ush’ograh is a stone and cave city given to the ogres as their reward for helping the hobgoblins defeat their human rivals generations ago. While it is primarily the ogre’s homeland now and considered quite private, hobgoblin shamans are allowed to visit if they are studying with the ogre magi and learning the ancient ways of natural magic. Hobgoblin shamans trained in Ush’ograh are considered some of the most powerful spell casters in all the Parl.
- Strength Untested. The lessons of the past may be about to come back to haunt the hobgoblin masters of the Parl. Kamus’ voice is being heard in quiet whispers in the depths of Ush’naar, urging the goblins and grippli to make a play for their freedom. While this may all be a test to see if the hobgoblins are still fit to rule, it may soon result in an attempted uprising among the slave races of the land.
- Broken Chains. While the hobgoblin hordes stayed within their own borders, the other gods were willing to leave them alone. Now that they are raiding, this unspoken truce is broken. Forces inspired by Tulis and Rolterra, unlikely allies as they might be, have started pushing back against the Parl raiders, even striking into the steppes on occasion. Actually establishing a beachhead fortress inside Parl Pordesh will require resources, skill and most of all - heroes.
- Riders on the Storm. Rumors persist that the ogre magi of Ush’ograh have been twisting wyvern eggs with their darkly shamanistic magic, creating larger beasts called wyvrath. While this process is supposedly far from dependable and many eggs are just ruined, the development of wyverns large enough for ogres to ride can really only mean one thing. Stopping these experiments is not something the Grand Stallion can do openly without risking his alliance with the ogres. Outside agents, preferably ones with deniability, are a better way to handle things.
Iron Handed: The will of the Slaver is strong inside you. You possess an ambition to dominate that cannot easily be denied or broken. Whenever you use the Intimidate or Diplomacy skills from a position of strength and superiority, you gain a +2 bonus to the check. When you cast any enchantment spell on a target with a racial history of servitude, the DC is increased by 2.
Horseblood: You were practically born in the saddle and take to horsemanship as a fish takes to water. You gain a +1 to all Ride checks involving horses and equine creatures. Handle Animal is always a class skill for you. Lastly you possess the Ranger’s class feature of Wild Empathy but may only use it with horses and equine creatures. If you have Wild Empathy from some other source, you instead gain a +2 bonus whenever you use it to influence horses and equines.