Moertus (4e Campaign Setting)
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The full history of Moertus has been lost in the fog of time, but most mark the beginning of recorded history some 6000 years ago with the rise of the Arkhosia and Bael Turath empires. Within 2000 years the two nations became embroiled in a war that would consume most of the continent and leave both of them in utter ruin. In the centuries that followed many nations, city-states, and kingdoms rose and fell all across the world. Eventually several powerful nations grew to encompass the regions of Moertus, each absorbing the smaller nations until they became large independent countries.
But history, as always, tends to repeat itself and soon the nations of Moertus found themselves locked in petty conflicts, intrigues, and all out wars. The civilizations of Moertus fought and struggled for centuries until it seemed they to were doomed to cause their own self-destruction. Then came the rebirth of an ancient religion, and the "Order of Bahamut" formed as an independent organization of virtuous Paladins determined to bring an end to these hopeless conflicts between "civilized peoples". Over the course of several centuries they brought order and stability to Moertus, and as peace settled over the land they began to work toward uniting Moertus into a single force.
As the "Order" pressed for a unified Moertus, other forces started to plot it's downfall. A centuries old evil had been silently working against them, one that would turn their budding golden age into a unfathomable nightmare. A Mummy Lord, called Aphasius, lured a cult of Vecna worshipers into helping him carry out a nefarious plan: The creation of a massive undead army from the population of every nation in Moertus. Unknown to the cultists Aphasius' plans were far darker then that and his true patron, Orcus, demanded no less then the destruction of all life on Moertus. Aphasius threw himself into the task and soon determined that a highly contagious disease, that transformed the living into undead, would suit his purpose. As long as he could defeat two factors; the plan being discovered before the disease could be dispersed, and the use of magic to cure the disease before it could destroy the entire population. In time, and with the aid of Orcus, Aphasius was able to create his hideous virus; one that would remain dormant until Aphasius triggered it, and once activated would create a unique form of undead called the Living Dead (alternatly DMs can use the Infected Zombie Template from Open Grave, adding an Immunity to Turning and any form of control).
As the next several decades passed the races of Moertus entered into various pacts, and treaties. Several times war threatened to return, but under the guidance of the "Order" the races began working together against the monsters that also made Moertus their home and they found they could benefit from cooperation more then from conflict. Eventually the "Order" called upon the rulers of the civilized nations, and presented the idea of a unified ruling body. One that would allow each race it’s own Sovereignty, but called for the blending of military forces on certain maneuvers, and a greater sharing of resources and trade goods through increased trade routes. As well each ruler would agree to discuss internal and external problems with the others before declaring any states of war or embargo. The rulers agreed and they constructed a central meeting place they named the “Free City of Nidaros”, and it quickly grew into a cosmopolitan place where anything from across the land could be found.
With the founding of Nidaros the rulers officially signed the treaty that would bind them. They named this new foundation the “Alliance” , and each agreed that once per year the rulers would meet for a full week of discussion and deliberation. The Eladrin had fabricated devices that allowed the Rulers to teleport from their seats of power to the Great Meeting Hall in the center of the Free City. As well each ruler agreed to leave open lines of communication to one another throughout the entire year, in case the need for immediate contact became needed. A century passed and civilization flourished beyond compare under the Alliance.
Aphasius waited a long time to bring his plans to fruition, over the years Aphasius had manipulated the cult of Vecna into masquerading as pilgrims of a false God they called Odin. As these false pilgrims the cultists insinuated themselves into the various societies of Moertus by ministering to the poor, and needy, as well as supplying them with free meals. With the aid of several high placed cultists they were able to assume this role with little suspicion.
A few days before the yearly meeting of the Alliance rulers was about to get underway, Aphasius ordered cultists to release his virus into the population, by tainting the free food and contaminating the water supplies. By the day of the gathering the dormant virus had been introduced in every major city and town within Moertus. As evening fell the Rulers, and the Nobility that came with them, sat for a banquet prepared by the "pilgrims" of Odin. The cultists had tainted and poisoned, the meal they had prepared for the “Alliance”. As the swift toxin began to claim it’s victims, the cultists attacked all they could find with in the meeting hall. As they did this Aphasius cast the spell that activated the Living Death virus. While much of the population of Moertus carried the disease they did not know it until they died, except in the case of the very sick and extremely elderly. Many of them began to sicken and die from the Living Death without any warning. While the virus came to life the cultists began openly attacking the populations of Moertus, many poisoned water supplies, and quietly set about murdering families or other small groups of people. In other locations they attacked taverns, guard posts, inns, or other such buildings in straight forward combat. In all instances they made heavy use of magic, and summoned undead allies. Before long the streets were filled with Living Dead.
Before the night was half done it seemed Aphasius' dream would become reality, if only Aphasius had told the cultists everything about the Living Death virus. Unknown to them the Living Dead could not be controlled by any spell, or spell-like ability (including Psionics), they are solely driven to spread their malady to all they encounter. Once they had caused a significant number of Living Dead to be created the cultists attempted to control them, and most were torn apart for their efforts. Although they had been betrayed they could not seek revenge as they, like the rest of the world, found all they had worked for torn apart. And while they screamed for blood Aphasius sat back and awaited the end of the world.
Panic quickly spread throughout Moertus as Priests and Paladins found their holy powers worthless against the Living Dead, and many met their end learning this fact. As the situation grew worse people fled the larger towns and cities, but this only spread the infection even further. Paranoia and distrust caused many to turn from, and in some cases on, the various religions of the world. Including the once vaunted "Order of Bahamut".
As people moved to smaller and smaller communities, attempting to avoid the large swarms of Living Dead drawn to large populations, the governments of Moertus fell apart. Without religion or government to hold them together the world collapsed into chaos, and it seemed the end of all was coming soon. But the last remnants of the “Order” were bound to see that this did not happen, and they gave their lives hunting down and destroying Aphasius. This loss inspired others, and for years the living would fight for their very existence. Eventually thanks to time and attrition, the numbers of Living Dead began to decrease and the peoples of the world began to try to rebuild a semblance of what life once was.
Those dark years of struggle and suffering are now universally called the “Great Fall”, and all mourn the loss of what could have been.
Nearly two and a half centuries have passed since the “Great Fall” (or just “The Fall”), and the numbers of Living Dead have dropped to such small numbers that now only rarely does one come shambling into civilized areas, or groups of them found in old ruins or dungeons.
The changes made in their lives helped drive down the numbers of Living Dead in Moertus. Living in small fortified villages that used draconian measures to control the infected and the use of the Cure Disease ritual both as a blessing for newborns, and as a “last rite” on the newly deceased, saw a near elimination of new outbreaks within a short time. Organized attacks against the near mindless creatures over time destroyed many of the larger swarms that roamed the land. This lifestyle has forced many to live within an extreme police state, and while it may have helped them survive near destruction, some now wish to find a different freer life but still others see no other way of life and fear any loss of the control.
While many still refer to their regions by the names of the nations that stood there just before the “Fall”, those empires are gone in all but name. In the past several decades many small communities of Moertus have started to reach out to one another and establish numerous kingdoms and other extended communities. Some seek to rebuild those lost worlds while others look to create a new one from the ashes. Religion has made a strong comeback and once more the faithful turn to their Gods for help in choosing the path they should take. Even the “Order of Bahamut" has begun to resurface, although their numbers are too small to influence any area overly much.
It is into this post-Armageddon world the Players find themselves. Here they can carve out a name and place for themselves that could earn them eternal rewards, or possibly unearth horrors better left undisturbed.
The general flora, fauna, and climate of Moertus is very similar to that of northern Europe. Virtually all of the creatures in the Monster Manual can be found here. Some monsters from other sources may appear as well, but as always DMs should take care not to disrupt the balance of their game or the overall ecology of Moertus. This section gives a breakdown of the various regions in Moertus and a general description of the area and the creatures commonly found there.
It should be noted that the standard playable races are listed in the specific section on Races (see below) all others are not standard playable races in Moertus, although DMs can allow Players to create Characters from those races, but they are unique (or semi-unique) beings. Most will be treated as “monsters” by the general populous at first, but they can find themselves easily accepted by showing their true intent. DMs can also allow (at their discretion) Characters from the Monster Manual, but these Characters will always have to deal with the general population reacting to them as the monsters they see them as.
- For specific information about the regions of Moertus see Moertus Geography.
- For specific information about the races of Moertus see Moertus Races.
Cosmology and Calendar
Moertus has a single yellow sun and a single moon, their sun looks and behaves exactly as our own, and their moon also behaves in a fashion that mirrors Earth's as well. But their moon, instead of being grey and rocky, has a smooth appearance and is a deep red that shades to black in random locations. Their sun is referred to as the sun, or Pelor's Heart. While their moon is called either the moon, or the Raven Queen's Eye.
Moertus has a seven day week, with four weeks making a month, and twelve months making a year. There are four distinct seasons during the year; winter, spring, summer, and fall. The inhabitants of Moertus refer to each day of the week by it's numeritical order during that week (ie. First Day, Second Day, Third Day, etc.). Similarly weeks are also referred to by their order within a month (ie. First Week, Second Week, etc.). Years are noted regionally by either the reign of a particular leader (ie. "during the Tenth year of Queen Annika's reign"), or by some historical event (ie. "during the Third year of the Locust Plagues"), in some instances years may be referred to by 2 or more different titles.