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Skorne Empire
Type

Military Tyranny

Head of State

Supreme Archdomina Makeda

Military

Military of the Skorne Empire

Capital

Halaak

Major Species

Skorne

Official Language

Havaati (primary)
Kadesh,
Soresh (dialect of Havaati)

Currency

Stones

Skorne Empire is an Empire in Eastern Immoren led by the tenacious Skorne. Recently, the skorne have begun to make war upon the peoples and nations of western Immoren, mainly Cygnar and the Protectorate.

The skorne are a house and caste-based people, with every person within society knowing their place in the scheme of things, although it is possible to transend one's caste by merit of being particularely skilled at what one does. They are also firm believers in the fact that "might makes right", with much of their society being ruled over by warlords with varying degrees of control over their peers.

HistoryEdit

Early History Edit

The Skorne were a nomadic race that lived in the southern areas of eastern Immoren. To the north existed the Elven Empire of Lyoss. The Skorne often raided vulnerable regions of the vast empire of Lyoss and the Elves called them “the godless,” “faithless,” and the “shunned", however the Skorne took those insults with pride and considered the Elves to be weak and pampered by their gods. But the spiritual awakening of the Skorne began with Voskune who found the fundamentals of exaltation. Voskune studied the connection between the body and the spirit. He dissected both the living and the dead to understand this fundamental connection and for this he plucked out his own eye to study it and then replaced it with a device of smooth crystal that allowed him to perceive vital essence. Fascination by the moment of death, he was the first to perceive that on expiration the soul of a Skorne was thrown into the Void to experience endless pain and agony where they are driven mad. He was shaken by the revelations that this would be his fate as well but couldn't complete his work. Ten generations later two masters named Ishoul and Kaleed achieved a breakthrough. Ishoul discovered that cutting and polishing certain stones will pull at a spirit, drawing it as water is absorbed into a sponge. Ishoul and Kaleed spent their lives working with these stones. Following Voskune’s, each replaced an eye with an artifact to perceive spirits, as all extollers since have done likewise. The dominar of the masters’ house, a venerable warlord named Vuxoris, the inventor of the hoksune code asked Ishoul and Kaleed to preserve his spirit so his lore would not fade. They captured Vuxoris’ essence in a great polished piece of obsidian and watched as the stone transformed with a lattice of powerful energy, preserving him in immortality. He could thereafter be contacted, although this required a draining and elaborate ritual. Kaleed was astonished to realize the stone now emanated great power and manifested strange phenomena. This stone became a treasured with countless wars over ownership of the First Exalted. The Sjorne also learned that smaller pieces carved from a sacral stone could be incorporated into weapons and armor, thereby imbuing those items with some shadow of ancestral power. This was done sparingly to preserve the integrity of the original stone, yet over time some ancient stones were slowly carved away piece by piece. In the following ages the first sacral stone would eventually be lost. [1]

Another great ancestor was the warrior-philosopher named Morkaash. He focused on learning anatomy and the infliction of pain and agony. Morkaash believed sublime enlightenment was a result of suffering, and he sought to understand the mechanisms by which living bodies function. Morkaash tested himself against the great beasts by conquering them in battle, taming them, and bending them to his will. His knowledge carried on after his death, and his followers improved their techniques over many lifetimes resulting in the chirurgeons and paingivers. Some, often extollers continued to devote themselves to deeper mysteries, giving rise to mortitheurgy. The fundamental tenets of mortitheurgy are that there is great power released by the flesh as it undergoes transition and that blood and pain have innate potency.[1]

The destruction of Lyoss brought massive changes to the Skorne and many died in the massive disasters that followed but unlike the elves the Skorne were hardened and soon started raiding elf refugees fleeing west and taking over what was once Lyoss. However the disasters following the cataclysm forced the Skorne to abandon their nomadic ways and start building permanent shelters but the fractured houses continued to vie with one another, both for dominance and for crucial resources. Slowly the storms receded and the weather stabilized. While Skorne cities prospered, the eternal war of houses continued with renewed passion. Many more were exalted and new areas were colonized while lesser species ,including many tribes of cyclops savages from the desert were conquered. [1]

Rise of the Empire Edit

One warlord named Vaactash of House Balaash carved out a territory north of Halaak by slaughter and careful political manuevering and ruled longer than any other archdominar on record, surviving countless duels and assassination attempts. In death he was exalted. The ruling of his house went first to his son, who did not long endure; then to his grandson; and finally to his granddaughter Archdomina Makeda. Then Vinter Raelthorne IV also known as the Conqueror emerged from the west, beginning the First Unification war, he fought and conquered village by village striking down hundreds of Skorne warriors and gathered a large following. After conquering several houses and defeating their champions he marched towards the largest city of the Skorne, Halaak. The hoksune code could not accept a master of this caliber arising who had not heard the words of Vuxoris. Some skorne believed him to be a skorne soul reborn in human flesh and became known as the Reborn. Adherents argued that he had cast aside the inferior species of his birth to return to his true people and would elevate us to a new era of greatness. The Conqueror did not deny these tales and even encouraged them. In Halaak he faced the forces of House Balaash and Archdomina Makeda and after a battle that saw many Skorne warriors dead. Vinter defeated Makeda in a duel. [1]

The fact that one man without the vitality of warbeasts defeated her Makeda that Vinter Raelthorne was in fact the Reborn and became his most ardent supporter and a true believer in his cult which was instrumental in completing the First Unification. For the first time in its history, the skorne were united. Vinter spoke of the great wealth in the west, of the fertile land and the weak species that populated its expanse. He offered the promise of conquest. For that he proposed the construction of a great bridge to cross the Abyss and allow the Skorne march to the west. Seven years after the First Unification and before this bridge was complete, the Conqueror grew impatient and personally led an army across the great desert. However his temper, distrust of his subordinates and impatience resulted in many dominars seeking to overthrow him. Hearing no news of victory despite Vinter’s lengthy absence, the conspirators in Halaak believed the Conqueror had died in this campaign and rebelled but Makeda of House Balaash had held fast to her convictions. She had weathered assassination attempts, retreated into her fortress during the strife in Halaak, and fought off all who would lay siege to her house. Soon Vinter returned. In what would become known as the Second Unification, the Conqueror fell on the betrayers, who soon endured torments beyond imagination at the hands of his personal paingiver, Morghoul. They were slaughtered and refused the rites of the extollers as a lesson to their heirs. For her loyalty, the Conqueror bestowed on Makeda the dominion of the western empire and tasked her to lead her army into those fertile lands to subjugate all who opposed him.[1]

Vinter named himself the Supreme Archdominar and began reforming the empire. These included consolidating many houses, implementing improvements in military weapons manufacture, and establishing other programs necessary to govern what had once been a fractured people. Efforts were made to train soldiers from different houses under the same banner and integrate them into a single fighting force instead of seperate forces. The meaning of ranks like tyrant, lord tyrant, and dominar shifted to have specific military authority.The strategy of the Army of the Western Reaches secured a permanent supply chain between the west and the Abyssal Fortress, which protected the bridge across the great chasm in the Stormlands, through a number of intermediate fortresses. The army would then build and defend a number of larger fortresses just east of the human kingdoms, in the Bloodstone Marches. Creating permanent, self-sustaining settlements there would allow to wage war without relying too heavily on the distant homelands.[1]

During battles east Corvis, the Skorne encountered the Trollkin which they named duzusk. While Makeda’s army fortified its position east of the Black River, the Skorne also led strikes on the human border positions, forcing them to allocate defenders across a long stretch of border while gathering intel about their capabilities and resources. These attacks were coordinated with allies retained by the Conqueror in his former homelands, including the desert scout Saxon Orrik, and mercenaries led by Asheth Magnus. These western allies provided meaningful intelligence on the disposition of enemy troops to exploit Cygnar’s weaknesses. Plans were laid to assault Eastwall while Cygnar was engaged with the Protectorate. But the Conqueror suddenly ordered to besiege Fort Falk instead hundreds of miles to the north. Makeda faithfully carried out the sovereign’s will. The army threw itself into a futile and ill-prepared assault on Fort Falk and fought until skorne corpses glutted the river. [1]

Master Tormentor Morghoul interrogated Asheth Magnus and learned the truth of Vinter’s deception. Even Makeda was eventually forced to face the fact that the Conqueror must be overthrown if the Skorne Empire were to survive and prosper. Vinter had hoped to weaken Cygnar’s and Makeda’s armies simultaneously. Makeda's army marched on the Abyssal Fortress and reclaimed it for the skorne. Vinter Raelthorne fled and Makeda claimed the title of Supreme Archdomina of the Skorne Empire.[1]

Geography Edit

Situated in Eastern Immoren the Skorne Empire is larger than most of the nations of the Iron Kingdoms combined. The Empire has arid badlands to the east and desert to north, south, and west, with an extensive chain of weathered mountains north of Mirketh Lake. Scorched plains and savanna comprise much of the central and western region. Controlled territory includes parts of three deserts: the Blasted Desert in the north, the Mokkar to the south, and the Bloodstone Desert in the west.The climate is temperate and moderate in the southeast, arid in the west and north. Mirketh Lake moderates the weather, sustaining a fertile river valley to the southeast. Winter brings a rainy season with sporadic and intense rainfall, but total annual rainfall remains low.[2]

Governance Edit

Vinter Raelthorne IV created a cohesive nation of skorne led by a single sovereign for the very first time. This centralized government was built on a well-established feudal hierarchy rooted in skorne houses, themselves evolved from ancient tribes. Even after the overthrow of Vinter, the governance system continues evolve. [3]

The Skorne Empire is ruled by the Supreme Archdomina. The tile is currently held by Makeda of House Balaash who is the absolute ruler unrestrained in executing her authority. This situation is an outgrowth of the long-held structure of skorne houses, wherein the house leader has ultimate authority over all members, vassals, and slaves of his house. The supreme archdomina’s powers are absolute, including the ability to declare and wage wars against the western kingdoms. The remote manner in which she governs has forced Makeda to rely on trustworthy individuals, hand-picked the most loyal among her vassals to handle the quotidian aspects of government. In the capital these skorne speak with her authority and manage domestic aspects of the government. They are constantly monitored by Lord Assassin Morghoul’s finest assassins, ready to eliminate sedition before it can gain momentum on the home front. The paingiver caste has become one of the most important tools at Makeda’s disposal to ensure ongoing obedience from her distant vassals. [2]

Serving the supreme archdomina are various warlords who rule the great houses underpinning skorne society. These rulers are referred to by several different titles, reflecting varying degrees of power and authority. These same ranks have also been adopted within the large conquering armies, equating loosely to the role of commanding officers in Iron Kingdoms armies. These rulers have both governing and military responsibilities, as befits the martial nature of skorne society.[3]

A warlord who rules a single house is known as a tyrant and has absolute authority over it, including the power of life and death over all members, vassals, and slaves. Each house honors its own traditions, worships its own ancestors at shrines dedicated to them, keeps fortified palaces or family compounds in the cities and in its traditional homelands, and maintains a private army to secure its interests and wage war against its adversaries. A tyrant in control of an army large enough to subjugate one or two subordinate houses earns the title of lord tyrant. One who has expanded this conquest to sit at the head of a tiered system of fealty with multiple houses receives the title of dominar or archdominar—or if female, domina or archdomina with correspondingly larger armies at such a ruler’s disposal. Archdominars were historically rare before the establishment of the Skorne Empire as a leader would have to possess a relatively vast dominion and stand uncontested to hold that title. However in a large army, the ranks of tyrant and lord tyrant are sometimes assigned purely to represent military authority without implying control over settled houses with actual lands. Thus the soldiers under such a tyrant’s command make up his “house.”[3]

Military Edit

Main article: Military of the Skorne EmpireAfter his conquest of the skorne and the creation of the empire, Vinter Raelthorne IV created a unified military with troops taken from various houses. After Vinter's overthrow, the Skorne military now serve Supreme Archdomina Makeda in her conquests of the west. Skorne armies reflect peerless training that is rooted in their warrior code. Their soldiers and beasts are supported by individuals trained in the torturous paingiver arts or in the magic of agony or death. Skorne forces embody organized military might coupled with ruthless cruelty.[1]

Law Edit

Unlike the nations of the west the Skorne do not expect fair or equal treatment and have a radically different concept of justice. They find the idea of a single cohesive body of laws to govern all skorne entirely alien and Skorne law revolves around the dictates of a house lord and his control over his people. Most other societal restrictions and restraints have more to do with caste divisions than formal written law.Skorne do not see the archdomina’s decrees as “laws,” but rather as commands from their supreme lord and master. While they lack written or formal laws, the skorne obey many unwritten codes and consider their violation criminal. Theft, murder without cause, lashing out at higher castes and disobedience or betrayal of one’s rightful lord or other superiors all constitute offenses in skorne society. The warriors of powerful houses within a city deal with these matters rather than a separate group specifically established to enforce the law. The archdominars ultimately ensure the smooth operations of the empire, but they in turn delegate these tasks to lesser houses under their dominion, who in turn often delegate specific actions to local paingivers. For minor offenses some criminals receive branding rather than execution, a process generally handled by paingivers tasked to that purpose. This extremely brutal process applies brands liberally across the entire body including the face, neck, arms, and hands. Branded criminals commonly expire during the application of this “merciful” punishment.[2]

Clashes and fighting over topics of honor, insults, or perceived meddling or intrusion remain common and tolerated as long as they do not result in large scale open war between houses that would disrupt other important business. These conflicts are not regulated as Rhul and losing houses can only being able to appeal to the next higher lord in their feudal structure, who is unlikely to look kindly on such martial weakness. Duels between individual warriors are not regulated by complex protocols or systems and can occur spontaneously, without warning. So long as each participant obeys hoksune, participation in these duels does not bring negative consequences upon the victor.[2]

Demographics Edit

The Skorne Empire is populated by the Skorne and their slave races. Ethnicity holds less importance compared to caste and house but regional groups are aware of their shared heritage. Skorne ethnicities display only subtle differences in appearance but more obvious variance exists in dialect, accent, and manner of dress. Ethnic Groups and their approximate populations are,[2]

  • Kademesh (2,565,000)
  • Sortaani (1,750,000)
  • Malzash (470,000)
  • Kasortaan (355,000)
  • Kajar (135,000)
  • Various slave populations (1,500,000)

Economy Edit

The skorne economy is based on slavery and bartering. The most basic measure of value is a single slave’s labor for one day. A hard-labor slave’s worth is set at 100 days of work, the approximate lifespan of a slave under the harshest conditions while more skilled or hardy slaves have greater value. Both skilled and unskilled slaves work at all levels of society and every sector of the skorne economy. Dangerous and physically demanding tasks such as mining and construction fall entirely to the slave caste. These slaves range from skorne of destroyed houses or those drawn from outside the major urban centers of the empire to other races such as croaks and efaarit. The invasions of the west have increased the supply of slaves to the empire and added slaves from even more races. Houses barter with one another for the goods they produce with slave labor, balancing the number of days spent from one product to the next. Many houses possess the means to gather raw materials and refine them into necessary tools and weapons, all of which is performed by the house’s many slaves. The value of these items is set according to the amount a slave can be expected to harvest or refine in a single day. While the Skorne have a dim view about plundering the conquests of the west have resulted taboo has been relaxed and even largely abandoned. Such activities fall to lower castes like slaves and workers who scavenge useful items and high-quality metals are particularly valued.[2]

Accomplished skorne sell their services or labour in a system different from the nations of the west. A skorne establishes a contract with a house lord for a period of time, during which he receives housing, food, and the implements required to work his trade. A house may also barter with another house to borrow skilled workers, such as extollers, mortitheurges, builders and merchants. The loaning house and potentially the skilled individuals are compensated. Loaned members do not join the new house, but only serve it for an agreed-upon length of time. Those with particularly valued talents may even be provided an annual or seasonal stipend of slaves.[2]

While skorne currency consists of goods and slaves, cut stones valued by the time required to cut them are used as a form of medium of exchange. Stones used for minor trades are too small and imperfect to use for sacral stones and are fit only to be cut into currency. The stones are cut and polished to the standards of the extollers and their values certified. While ornately carved stones hold greater value they are not always accepted. The more labor-intensive sacral stones are always accepted, due to the incredible value they hold. A finished sacral stone generally takes one thousand days to cut and polish and represents the labor of a single slave artisan and a lesser vessel that temporarily houses a spirit can take up to five hundred days of work. Sacral stones hold immense value that far surpasses any precious metals. Common purchases are made with handfuls of low-quality stones, while transactions between great houses can involve hundreds of high-quality stones. Stone types by value are,[2]

Stone Type Value of Labor
Sacral Stone 1,000 days
Companion Stone 500 days
Ikentri Stone 250 days
Centri Stone 100 days (the value of a

hard-labor slave)

Kustri Stone 50 days
Vikkri Stone 25 days
Dektri Stone 10 days

Science and Technology Edit

Society and Culture Edit

The skorne are one of Immoren’s most ancient civilizations. While their culture developed apart from the forces that shaped the western nations, they endured a litany of catastrophes and warfare. The skorne were fundamentally shaped by the tremendous destruction and suffering that began with the annihilation of the Elven Empire of Lyoss and the supernatural cataclysm that consumed the east. Over thousands of years the skorne civilization thrived spent thriving despite the hardships they faced. The skorne developed into the dominant inhabitants of eastern Immoren and became one of the two most influential races on the continent. Skorne society is based on a system of houses and castes. All skorne are born into a house, whether as members or as slaves or bonded servants, and from the very start they are made aware of their place. While houses are the basis of skorne politics, caste is the rigid foundation upon which skorne society has been built upon. The caste system is extremely strict and a low-ranking skorne who insult an enemy of a higher caste would face harsh punishment from their own commander. The traditional castes are warriors, workers, and slaves. The warriors are the highest caste and slaves are the lowest. Even within a caste there are varying degrees of status. However warriors may perform tasks normally relegated to lower castes in the day-to- day duties specially when there is a lack of lower caste. Further A skorne with very specialized skills may perform two roles without loss of status. Extollers and paingivers are an exception to the normal system, while they originate from the worker caste, their importance to skorne society has earned them special stature, and they have evolved into distinct offshoot castes.It is possible for a member of a lower caste to rise to a higher caste by displaying exceptional skills or by the intercession of his lord but such events are extremely rare.[3][2]

While skorne accept that gods may exist do not acknowledge or revere gods and were called “godless” and “faithless” by Elves of Lyoss. The obliteration of Lyoss convinced the skorne about the fickle nature of gods, and skorne see the worship of deities as a weakness.Instead skorne religion consist of a sophisticated form of ancestor worship. Skorne ancestor worship focuses on great individuals whose deeds are immortalized in legend, paragons of values the skorne consider vital. Different schools of philosophy center around the legends of specific skorne ancestors, creating the varied “faiths” of the skorne. Skorne venerate ancestors in several ways, such as maintaining a small dedicated shrine at home or keeping an item associated with the ancestor. Some skorne inscribe ancestral names and symbols on weapons or armor. The skorne have a very different depiction of the afterlife than any religion of western Immoren. After death, a skorne’s spirit falls into the Void and only by preservation in a sacral stone can this fate be avoided. The number of individuals preserved is small and the vast majority are lost to the Void. Most skorne have a pragmatic attitude toward this reality and consider it a simple fact of life.Most skorne subscribe to one or more philosophical schools associated with major ancestors. Sizable houses may boast shrines to all of the great ancestors in addition to shrines for notable members of their direct bloodline. Skorne do not gather for sermons or prayer but spend time at shrines in meditation or contemplation.[2]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Hordes Primal MK2
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Iron Kingdoms Unleashed RPG: Skorne Empire
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Forces of Hordes: Skorne Command MK3