I’ve been working on some of our existing PDF entries – specifically the incomplete gazetteers. Just to clarify, I’ve not changed anything significant, just filled in some of the missing details and where necessary tweaked to match the newer information. This is not about invalidating earlier work, just adding to it. Frankly, I could write a whole lot more on the subject (Motmurk is a whole lot bigger than a single nation and its like doing a single writeup for the whole of the Himelayas) but this is about on par with the most complete Province descriptions we have.
I'm also tinkering with Shoryko and Osmopondia (I won't forget the Aretai or gnolls).
There's not much on the famous Hobgoblin emnity below, but I think this best kept in Charles' racial writeup rather than the Provincial one.
I’ve changed its capitol, as the original write-up actually states that the Fortress of Nine Claws is abandoned (i.e. an adventure site) and not the active capitol of the Province. Also added some towns, some history, and moved the Kersh description to the equipment list. Couple of (subtle) homages to CJ Cherryh as well, for Clueless’ viewing pleasure…
Orcish prehistory and its “goblins” come from the PDF timeline, where it was originally a sidebar. I’ve moved it wholesale to the ‘History’ section.
Proper Name: The Thousand Glorious Tribes of the Motmur
Provincial Government: Authoritarianist Oligarchy
Leaders: Rokmorn the Bloodletter (First Tyrant)
Sethan Goldeneyes (High Rock tribe); Ottas Viisazi (Paidhlin of Mospheir); Hierarch Yjumal of the Red Basilica
Provincial Capital: Nostokor, City of a Million Chimneys
Major Cities & Towns: Kymennor-Peh; Mospheir; Bujukasgor (a major food producer) Kishtraum (wolfblood tribal fortress); Toipagor (Steel Hide, capitol)
Districts: Tribal Heartlands, The Kivsyvä, Mospheir, Semi-independent dwarvish hive-confederacy, the iloyahka lowlands, Client Kingdoms of Jääkor and Jättilkurgor (giantish)
Resources: Weapons and Armour, Ore, Stone, ice
Coinage: The Ukkas (a large gold coin worth 10gp)
Population: Orc 70%, Dwarven 15%, Human 10%, Other 5%
Languages: Orc, Common, Dwarvish
Alignment (Populace): Lawful Evil
Alignment (Law): Lawful Evil
Prominent Faiths: Didairdin
Motmurk is a land of tall mountains, windswept plateaus, and deep, nearly inaccessible valleys. It is amongst the oldest of the provinces of Ortho and the first of the allies of the Harmonium. The province is dominated by the Hierarchs (priests, almost exclusively of Didiardin) and is the traditional homeland of the orcs.
Life and Society
Baatezu influence in ancient times inspired a great love of learning in the orcs of Motmurk, bringing literacy to the culture for the first time. Though the devils initially tried to suppress this new-found curiosity, it actually worked to their advantage as the orcish warlocks penned long tracts of theory and practice, raising their understanding of the mystical sciences to new heights. Even now long after the Schism and the forbiddance of exemplar-worship, the orcs of Motmurk are for the most part literate with a strong tradition of magic use.
Motmurk is unfriendly to any outsiders who would encroach on traditional orcish territory or who try to challenge their system. The orcs are extraordinarily proud of both their culture and their long service to the cause of Harmony, and they don’t take criticism well. Those who work within the often brutal culture of Motmurk are welcomed more enthusiastically (especially if they acknowledge orcish superiority), but never as warmly as a native orc.
Despite their pride in Harmony, most Motmur are paradoxically suspicious of each other and strangers, and constantly jostling for advantage. This attitude is at its strongest in rural areas, where visitors both foreign and orc are often viewed as spies or saboteurs in league with rival tribes. This is not to say that visitors will be harmed, such actions are considered crass. But their actions will be closely observed and a wise traveller will bring letters of introduction or other means to reassure his hosts. Thankfully the growth of urban life has forced different tribes, races, and nationalities to rub shoulders more easily. Cities are by necessity more cosmopolitan, but distrust of strangers (the Motmur word actually means “those outside my tribe”) is still a strong part of life: woe to the traveller who loses his citizenship papers in Motmurk.
Disputes of honour are common among the Motmur. Although technically illegal under OCA law, duels are frequent and receive tacit but clear approval from senior figures in both the tribal and Provincial government. To make matters worse, Motmurk is renowned as a place where weapon and armour permits are ludicrously easy to obtain, and where peace-bonds are never checked by the Civil Patrol. In fact most Motmur proudly wear the peacecord at their belts untied, in an open affront to OCA law.
Most orcs go armed as a matter of course, to better defend their honour, their tribe, and the Pax Harmonium.
Motmurk has a considerable presence of non-orcs, but these peoples’ have largely adopted the orcish way of doing things as a simple matter of survival. Quite a few ‘orc’ tribes in fact contain a smattering of other races, usually humans, kobolds, or ogres. This is of course much more prevalent in the cities than among traditional tribes – and it not present at all among the Bone Breakers. Other species have a lot to prove in the minds of most native orcs, but those who play by the rules and show strength receive a warm enough welcome... as long as its to the advantage of their Tribal Lord.
Since only orcs are ever elected to the Tribal Council or the Hierarchs, most ambitious non-orcs choose other routes to power: Life in the Harmonium, a Merchant Cartel, or among the Freefolk.
Dwarfs & Giants
Motmurk’s dwarfs and giants are more traditional to their own beliefs, preferring to live in their own communities and keeping the First Tyrant pacified with taxes and the occasional overt show of loyalty. Despite this policy and five hundred years of freedom, many orcs still treat dwarves as second class citizens, and this has seen them retreat further into their own ways. The Hives of Motmurk have their own semi-independent confederacy, trading power in the Tribal Council (of which they have none) for relative freedom (as long as they keeop the tribes' coffers full). Instead they concentrate their influence on the cartels that buy their superlative goods and the product of their mines.
Motmurk’s giants prefer isolation to integration, sending the First Tyrant yearly tribute and little else. Other than the minimum requirements of OCA membership, they cleave to their own ways and prefer lesser races to keep their distance.
In rural areas an itinerant tribal culture still predominates, but in the cities each tribe has evolved into a powerful organisation which encompasses the activities of family, merchant cartel, civil patrol, and even huihui. Most Allots and tenements are also dedicated to a single-tribe, for when multiple tribes are forced to share accommodation trouble almost always results.
The Motmur live in an intricate network of loyalties, in which rank is determined by lineage and association with higher social ranks. Orcs also keep close track of their bloodlines, both as a point of pride and as a way to determine their new rank should a relative or patron in the tribe rise or fall. They believe in survival of the fittest, so sudden changes in leadership are not uncommon. Violent overthrows are officially a thing of the past but everyone knows that coups occur regularly at every level, and ‘accidents’ are recorded all too often in the legal rolls of Motmurk. Open assassination and insurrection are punished exceptionally harshly under the law, but the main offence seems to be their crudity.
Despite the best efforts of the Harmonium, OCA bureaus, and some churches, the benefits of assassination remain firmly ingrained in the orcish mind. Most orcs of legal age are able to explain in detail the change in rank they would experience should any other relative come to power. Changes in leadership usually occur only within the tribe however; it’s very rare for a non-member to challenge a tribal leader for his position, as there are already numerous rivals for that position who tolerate no additional threats.
Attempts to seize power are not made recklessly by orcs, as any new leader can expect to be challenged immediately if their supremacy is not clear. Most changes of hierarchy are made only after exquisite planning, and many end bloodlessly. This actually results in a (relatively) stable system, as a strong leader can keep rivals at bay for years. Many orcs also feel honour-bound to challenge weak leaders, but feel genuine loyalty to the strong and capable. Central the Motmur sense of justice is that the strong rule well and the weak bring destruction upon themselves.
In all but the most exceptional circumstances, tribal inheritance passes to legitimate male heirs, but the orcs do not practise primogenitor and the eldest is not necessarily expected to take the throne – whoever is strongest can seize power and it’s not uncommon for siblings to eliminate each other as a matter of course. In the old days it was a strict case of ‘last orc standing’ but in these civilised times less competent or ambitious heirs often live on in exile. Traditionalist orcs despise this change of policy, believing in a “try or die!” approach to political succession. Exiles are frequently hunted down by fanatics of their own tribe as a ‘matter of honour’ to their leader’s family; most exiles find safety only among the Harmonium or Freefolk, and travel as far from home as possible to escape this fate – although in recent years they have also begun making for the city of Mospheir.
There are seventeen major tribes, most of which contain multiple lineages, clans, and families within them. The top ten tribes are currently:
Iron Tusk - This tribe is currently the most powerful of the orc tribes. They hold the position of First Tyrant and claim a range of mountains rich in gold and iron ore. This tribe is well known for a particularly strong military background (even by orc standards) and their blunt and harsh dealings with their opponents. It’s a rare Iron Tusk youth who isn’t enrolled in the Harmonium.
Deepwater - The second most powerful of the tribes, the Deepwater are known for potent wizards and clerics. While they have never taken the position of First Tribe, they have been constantly in the top three for as long as anyone can remember, and strong supporters of the current leadership. In the past this tribe was one of the most heavily involved with the Devil Lords and as a result they have a sizable percentage of orcish tiefling families, and many other members of the tribe show minor signs of fiendish heritage in the shapes of tusk or horn. Many of its finest warlocks teach at the Tower of Piirikirja in Nostokor – but its persistently rumoured that their greatest secrets are kept for the Deepwater alone.
High Rock - This upstart tribe is led by a fiery young ex-mercenary named Sethan Goldeneyes - named not for their colour but his skill at spotting profitable opportunities. He brought this small, declining tribe out from the brink of bankruptcy and desolation to the third rank through a combination of ingenuity, brinksmanship, and sheer luck. The bastard child of a previous leader, his right to lead the High Rock had to be confirmed by the First Tyrant before the tribe could fully acknowledge him. Rokmorn has since had cause to regret that decision.
Since securing his position the High Rock tribe has grown wealthy from his worldly connections. Rumours persist that he may even challenge the First Tyrant for his place. His youth has made the other tribes wary, as he is not only competition for the other leaders but also for their heirs.
Bone Break - A tribe of traditionalists, these orcs are some of the least civilized of all of the Motmur, still prizing the power of the berserker and a cornucopia of devilish spirits and dark fey. They hold to many traditions that predate even the Time of Devils, including ritual scarification and polygamy (usually one male to as many females as he can take and secure). Rulers of the tribe are obeyed as if their word were law.
Traditionally male orcs were culled to prevent wasting resources on the weak, and the brutal tests left most families with only one or two sons. Even though the practice is now officially outlawed, the tribe has a suspiciously low percentage of male children. Much goes on out of sight in their inaccessible tribal heartland.
Silent Keepers - The Keepers are one of the most mysterious orc tribes. Their lands are located within a set of three valleys that are otherwise isolated from the rest of the Province. Access can be had only through one heavily guarded pass – although it’s rumoured that the Keepers have their own secret routes. These orcs are a solemn and laconic people, who have earned the name their tribe have been given. The most popular Lord of Order with this tribe is Ina, who supplants even Didairdin among them. While powerful enough in terms of their military and magical strength to throw their weight around, they tend to be neutral parties in most disputes.
First Blood - This tribe is among the smaller of the Province, and are located mostly along the southern border. They’re a restless bunch, jealous of the more valuable natural resources of the other tribes and generally abusive to the dwarven population in their territory. In the past, this tribe dominated at least one clan of the dwarven peoples whose mines were located on their land. Since the OCA made its presence known however, they have lost their dominance over them. Unfortunately the animosity caused by losing their 'property' continues and the First Blood Tribe routinely asks for sanctions to be passed against dwarves in both Motmurk and Xaric for various historical slights.
Silver Eye - On the western side of Motmurk in the mountains and coastal plains, live the Silver Eye tribe. Of all the Motmur, this is the one tribe that is most active in intercontinental trade. Based at the great city of Kymennor-Peh, the tribe are long familiar with the sea and shipping. In the past they had a reputation as pirates, but this is an accusation that’s largely inaccurate now; simple high volume trade is much more profitable. The leader of this tribe is also unusual: Instead of a physically strong and dominating Lord, the orcs of this tribe are content with an elderly and slightly frail orc, who just happens to be one of the best negotiators and business traders they have ever seen.
Wolfblood - The hirsute Wolfblood come from the northeast corner of the Province. Their ancestors held a longstanding feud with the Beastkin of Ulfrheim, which through decades of conflict ironically introduced a strong line of were-blood into the tribe. Fiendish influence in later years allowed affected members of the tribe to regain control of their affliction. Unfortunately the solution to the curse was not a cure, and infected bloodlines have a 50% chance of passing it on to their children even if they do not transform themselves. Even these days the tribe is reclusive and wild, but they make excellent spies and military scouts - a fact the rest of the tribes rarely forget.
Steel Hide - A tribe expert in metal working, these orcs have learned many secrets of the forge and mechanical design from the dwarven clans they held under their sway in the past. Unlike other tribes who simply demanded work of the dwarves, the Steel Hides made an effort to learn from those they considered 'lesser'. As a result they have a near monopoly on seigecraft in Motmurk, and their intricately geared works fetch a high price throughout the province. They guard their knowledge jealously and have frequently petitioned the First Tyrant for trade protections against imports from outside the province.
The Steel Hide have a relatively large percentage of dwarf and other races in its membership, although they generally embrace the same pride and belligerence as their orcish fellows.
Black Cat - Of all the tribes, the Black Cat are the only Motmur who do not prefer to live among the Mountains of Mot. They reside on the penninsula that juts from the western coast of Motmurk. This land is swampy and covered with old growth, swampy forests, and cypresses. In this land the Black Cat have carefully secreted fortresses and homes built on stilts over the swamp. Their mountain-living cousins are wary of these ‘swamp orcs’ and they have often been suspected of collaboration with the southern orcs of Xaric. The Black Cats have never actually been caught supporting the southern rebels, however.
Each tribe has longstanding rights to traditional territories, called Heartlands. Raiding, feuding, and land-grabbing are common between neighbouring tribes however, and the edges of each territory tend to shift with the political fortunes of each tribe. Odd political gains and losses also mean that sometimes a tribe gains control of a small holdings isolated and far from their heartland. Such enclaves rarely become permanent gains; the Tyrant typically awards these lucrative pieces of land as a reward – and is equally quick to remove them as well.
Every tribal ‘Duke’ considers himself a potential First Tyrant. Prospective leaders may theoretically declare themselves Tyrant at any time but if they cannot hold their position without being assassinated by rivals then they are said to not have the mandate of the tribes. If a First Tyrant comes to power who is not killed but also cannot compel a majority council to sit before him, then again he does not have a mandate and overthrow or ‘accident’ follows shortly after.
Claims to the Tyrantship often pivot on the favour of the Verzatoida (‘blood guard’); fanatical templars who guard the First Tyrant and enforce ‘propriety’ in orcish governmental affairs. They also happen to be the military arm of Didairdin’s church in Motmurk, and they help the Hierarchs maintain an inordinate amount of influence over the state.
The current Tyrant is Rokmorn "the Bloodletter" of the Iron Tusks. He is harsh even for an orc and extremely paranoid. Now in his later years, he keeps his closest relatives on hand, not only to defend himself against assaults but to keep them all busy outmanoeuvring each other instead of him. He has given no indication as to which child he would surrender his position to – mainly as this would be a death sentence in the tangled plots of court – and his heirs are forced to walk a fine line between vanishing into obscurity and overshadowing their father; both events traditionally lead to assassination - or ‘a Motmurk accident’ as its known abroad.
The primary duty of the First Tyrant is to be war leader of the nation, although more political concerns dominate in the modern age. The Tyrant can appoint representatives to the Council of Ortho, but these appointments are authorized (and briefed) by the Council of Tribal Lords. Laws within the hierarchy are also determined by majority agreement of the Tribal Council, though the Tyrant has veto rights. Despite having no official power in the Council of Lords, the orc Hierarchs (priests of Didairdin and occasionally other gods) still wield considerable power, as their favour is critical in maintaining the power of many Tribal Lords; those forced to rely on their support must follow their ‘advice’ and vote accordingly. Of course the Hierarchs claim total responsibility over religious matters as well, and their definition of ecclesiastical law is notoriously loose.
The First Tyrant is also responsible for mediating inter-tribal arguments, approving or dissolving inter-tribal marriages (another point of contention with the Hierarchs), and the rights of bastard offspring. The Tyrant is the final recourse of those seeking separation from their own tribe, family, or spouse, and has the rarely exercised power to adopt an outsider into his tribe.
Originally the capitol moved from tribe to tribe with the First Tyrant, and the court was largely itinerant (spending most of its time bringing other tribes into line) but for the last two hundred years the Iron Tusk ‘dynasty’ has held the First Tyrantship, and the Provincial capitol is now firmly entrenched at Nostokor.
The vast majority of the province is taken up by the mighty Mountains of Mot. This massive range is a dual barrier, blocking both arctic winds from the north and the hurricanes of Xaric. Because of this many of Motmurk’s valleys are relatively warm, despite their height. Where the wind whips in however, its howling blasts strip the mountainside bare.
It’s a common joke that there’s no flat land in Motmurk, as the orcs would consider such easy ground a weakness. In fact there are actually numerous plateaus both large and small, where tribes can roam grazing ponies, yaks, deer, and goats. Most life clings to Motmurk’s web of valleys however; here tribes follow a semi-nomadic route through the mountains, although in the modern age trading towns and dwarfholds dot the horizon. Many of these holdings are spread over a comparatively large area, using every scrap of flat land thereabouts for food. Those lucky enough to be near a dwarf or kobold community may also be able to trade their goods for specially cultivated edible funguses, although all but the poorest orcs scorn these foods: to the average Motmur, meat is the only fitting dish for an orc.
Although nine great Knights’ Roads cut through the mountains, most journeys must still be hiked through twisting paths on foot or aback a shaggy pony. The range dominates the landscape like a jagged curtain wall, hiding the sun for long periods of the morning and evening. In the old days undead were quite a plague in Motmurk, taking full advantage of the deep shadows and meagre daylight. Even in the present time vampires are sometimes found still lurking in the gloomiest valleys.
Five great peaks dominate the Mot range, although it’s rare to find a mountain that doesn’t possess a prestigious name and lineage. Collectively they are known as the Five Talons of Hell and in order of height they are:
Taivakulté - the Gate of Heaven. The tallest peak in Motmurk: well over 30,000 feet in height and still unconquered by mountaineers. It was said to be used as a stairway by Didairdin to pass to and from the world, and that the very gates of His Iron Realm stand at its summit.
Jättilkurgor - the Giant’s Playground. Isolated by treacherous passes and screaming winds, Jättilkurgor is home to a reclusive kingdom of giants. Although their loyalty to both Motmurk and the OCA has been repeatedly assured, the inhabitants prefer no visitors and their allegiance has never been tested. Historically, the Tyrants have thought it best to leave well alone.
Baatmohg - the Devouring Devil. Baatmohg is rich in jewels and minerals but notoriously treacherous: Mines collapse, paths are suddenly engulfed in snow or boulders, and dire bears, wolves, and wolverines, and sabre-toothed cats roam hungrily on its slopes. The Devouring Devil spares no one who would plunder its riches.
Kihämvahtog - the Dragon’s Yoke. It is said that buried in the heart of Kihämvahtog is a wyrm of ancient and terrible power, sealed deep below the earth in ancient times. Only a reclusive order of monks and druids dwell upon its slopes, for the mountain rumbles and shakes upon occasion, smoke rising from cracks near the summit. At such time the dragon slumbers lightly, or so the legends say.
Angjapunak - the Bountiful Mother. Angjapunak is the smallest of the Five Talons, but still towers over the surrounding peaks. Nestled at the heart of a series of warm valleys, the verdant forests of Angjapunak are a profitable resource and usually ceded only to the First Tyrant’s current favourite allies. Guardianship of this protectorate is fiercely fought over by the Tribal Lords and although her slopes are lush and welcoming, Angjapunak may well have been indirectly responsible for more deaths than any of her fellows.
Motmurk is not entirely mountainous. There are steep rolling hills along the south-eastern border, and thick damp woods and swampland along the western coast, much of it riddled with rivers deep enough to take ocean-going ships far inland (its called the iloyahka - 'the low stink' - and its people are seen as primitive and uncouth). Further north the land is mountainous almost right up to the sea, but deep bays provide shelter for numerous fishing and whaling communities (and the occasional pirate). Some of these settlements are built directly in to the rock.
There are also four great lakes: Sangvahto, which borders both Xaric and Ulfrheim and which has been site of countless waterbourne raids and battles; Lake Kissahuk, which marks the edge of Black Cat territory in the south, and also borders Xaric (premier smuggling territory, or so its rumoured); Lake Ahkera, home to a tiny but powerful tribe of wizards specialising in elemental magic; and ‘lake’ jääkor in the far north, which is frozen entirely solid and home to a razor-sharp palace of ice, inhabited by frost giants who speak and trade with no-on except the occasional Wolfblood emissary.
The City of Smoke and Iron was established shortly after the nation earned its freedom from the Fortress of Nine Claws. It has since become one of the greatest (and most choking) factory-cities on Ortho. Also known as the City of a Million Chimneys, Nostokor is the centre of arms production in Motmurk and enjoys lucrative contracts with the Harmonium both at home and abroad. It’s also home to the infamous Tower of Piirkirja, the greatest wizardly cabal in Motmurk and renowned specialists in devil-binding and the Nine Hells. Its inhabitants were refugees from the Fortress of Nine Claws, but swore allegiance to Varzak and the Hierarchs in exchange for their lives.
Nostokor is controlled by the Iron Tusk tribe, and is the centre of their Tribal Heartland. Should Rokmorn or his heirs lose the First Tyrantship and the capitol move to another tribes’ land, then the loss of trade and bureaucracy from Nostokor might well prove disastrous for both city and Province. The Iron Tusks of course, use this to add to their case for keeping the post.
Rivalling Nostokor in size is the trade city of Kymennor-Peh, greatest port of Western Motmurk. Its name means Ten Tribes - for the city was deliberately set up by rivals of the Iron Tusk who wanted a powerbase to rival Nostokor. It is controlled by the Silver Eye but the tribe is forced to accept a few interlopers from other tribes’ presence as well for the good of Motmurk’s economy. Prominent in this uneasy inter-tribal alliance are agents of the Steel Hide.
Kymennor-Peh’s mercantile wealth has made the rising merchant class a powerful influence in local politics, and they frequently court the First Tyrant’s wrath by interfering in government (and for this reason if no other the city’s cartels are being courted for support by Sethan Goldeneyes of the High Rock). The orcish warrior-elite despise the mercantile influence on Kymennor-Peh, but the city is also the friendliest in Motmurk to both foreign trade and the OCA, and has numerous allies beyond the border.
Buried beneath the granite streets of Kymennor-Peh is buried the former pirate-hold of Hyökor. Legends persist about great treasures concealed within it, both booty from pirate raids and the vaults of their Thief Lord masters.
The Kivsyvä Canal
Although several great Knights’ Roads connect the corners of Motmurk, a new engineering prospect is underway to unite Nostokor and Kymennor-Peh and other places below ground: The Kivsyvä Canal is a massive underground canal-system designed to bypass some of the tallest and most inhospitable mountains in the Motmurk range. It’s a joint project utilising engineers and labourers from across Ortho, from kobolds to ogres to beholders. But many people fear that the First Tyrant will use it as a means to ferry troops direct to tribal heartlands – a readymade invasion route to deal with anyone who defies him. Rumours of sabotage and insurgents in the construction tunnels have reached the ears of both Rokmorn and the OCA of late.
Sitting on the coast of Sangvahto Lake is the city of Mospheir - sometimes called ‘Afrielheim’ in mockery and scorn. Here dwell the majority of Motmurk’s immigrants and those orcs who live in exile or shame.
Two decades ago the city was emptied by plague, and Tyrant Rokmorn decided to initially repopulate it with exiles and criminals just in case the rampant disease was still a danger. Struggling against disease and feral beasts, the indentured settlers not only survived but managed to prosper. For a decade the city struggled under outbreaks of virulent sickness, but the colonists eventually brought the metropolis back to life. Joined by Freefolk and Venture Companies from Xaric, Ulfrheim, and further afield they immediately took steps to prevent Rokmorn’s ‘emissaries’ from seizing back control. After a brief campaign against the city (including vicious house-to-house fighting), Rokmorn’s forces withdrew in the face of pressure from Xaric and Ulfrheim in the Council of Ortho. The leader of the punitive expedition (one of Rokmorn’s more promising sons) was deemed responsible and executed for incompetence and corruption after the withdrawal, but the Bloodletter still has no love or Xaric and Ulfrheim over the incident.
Mospheir is stil relatively empty, with capacity for a much larger population than the few hundred-thousand it currently has. Major redevelopment is now underway, but there are still sealed plague-houses that need levelling and looters still comb abandoned tenements looking for valuables. Plague also still strikes from time to time, but never so virulently as before. Merchants often refuse to take Mospheirian goods unless they are boiled or washed in vinegar.
The city is home to humans, dwarves, and orcish exiles, many of whom are Freefolk and all of which defend its relative independence with fierce pride. The City Council is currently lead by Ottas Viisazi, a canny half-orc and former Venture Companyman known as The Paidhlin (a Xarican word meaning both ‘representative’ and ‘negotiator’). He holds the tenuous alliance together as the city rebuilds, balancing foreign friendships with the needs of loyalty to Rokmorn and the Hierarchs. Many of the less popular churches of Motmurk have recently fallen on his side in the hopes of better treatment.
The Red Basilica
The Red Basillica is a greatest temple to Didairdin in Motmurk, and also the most inaccessible. Perched in the everlasting snows on the summit of Mount Temerity (‘Ulrokhea’ in orcish), it is a reclusive monastery where both priests and monks serve Didairdin in his most harsh and demanding aspect.
Invitations to study at the Red Basillica are few and far between, and even then many prospective applicants perish on the assent. Those who survive the climb and the regime at its summit often return changed however, possessed of a fiery passion and icy discipline that seems destined to make them great –for no successful student of the temple has ever died in obscurity.
The Fortress of Nine Claws
The Fortress of Nine Claws was the capital of the diabolic orcish warlocks, created where nine roads met in the centre of the mountains. Most of it is intact today, although since the Schism it is uninhabited except by ghosts, traps, and (it’s rumoured) devilish treasures.
One of the nine watchtowers is rubble, destroyed by the Seven-Fingered Palm, but the majority of the fortress (and the labyrinth of caves beneath) are largely intact. Orcs seeking to prove their bravery – or just loot its secrets - often explore the ruins; many fail to return.
Orcish mythology (and, strangely, no other) speaks of an ancient race they call the goblins - or, more often, simply Goj’bollin (Ancient Ones), who ruled the continent of Mot at the dawn of time.
According to the orcs the goblins were a weirdly beautiful race, graceful and strong, if slightly alien in appearance, their skin the color of rubies. Goblin’s delved deep into the earth for its secrets, but remained friendly with those who dwelled above: They uplifted the orcs from savagery, teaching them all of their culture, magic, and arts. They trained the first orcish wizards, potters, farmers, and smiths. The orcs, in return, gave them love and respect.
For a long time, all was good. Yet with the passage of time the goblins became capricious and cruel; they began treating the orcs as servants, not allies. Eventually a hero emerged among the orcs, chosen by the Bloody Handed Concubines of Didairdin. This hero - who the chronicles remember as Grune the Great - led his people in rebellion. Together they overthrew the goblins.
"Lest we be led by tyrants," said Grune. "We must become tyrants ourselves." His people agreed, naming Grune the First Tyrant of Motmurk. Under his leadership all the goblins were exterminated in punishment for their crimes – although according to some variations of the myth, the gods took pity on the goblins and transformed some of them into the first humans, dwarves, and elves.
Some time after the Great Freedom, Motmurk fell under the influence of the Lords of the Nine, whose devilish servants ruled from behind the throne for generations. Under their influence, the orcs grew crueler, but also more learned. It was during this time that the orcs began calling themselves Motmur, a corruption of their ancient tongue meaning “elevated, on high.” In time, the shaman-summoners grew so powerful that they ruled the nation openly, from their new home at The Fortress of Nine Claws. They were not entirely unopposed however, and the church of Didairdin was at the forefront of the resistance.
The devil lords used the land as their plaything, pitting tribal lords, powerful wizards, and whole armies against each other for sport. They also made war upon Iathra whenever they could, and the borderlands were laid waste as the forces of Hell and the Abyss clashed against one another time and again. Eventually Alzrius called upon legions of planar hobgoblins to add skill and discipline to his chaotic armies – but even this was not enough to defeat the orcs, only to hold them to a stalemate.
The Coming of the Harmonium
As the Knights of Harmony pacified their own land, an orcish cleric of Didairdin called Varzak the Crushing Fist launched a successful coup against the puppet First Tyrant and the Fortress of Nine Claws. Attempts to establish a Theocracy failed, but with the secret help of King Romhel and his companions, Varzak was able to break the power of the Lords of the Nine over his nation. There was no love between Varzak and Romhel’s ideologies, but the pair were united in their quest to rid Ortho of the devils... or in Varzak’s case, at least their dominance over his people.
With the devils mostly ousted and the Church of Didairdin now in control, Varzak led the combined forces of Xaric and Motmurk against the nations of Parsadia (modern Osmopondia and Karazam) who stood against the Alliance of Harmony. He is most famous for the decade long siege against the elven state of Zotikopolis however, which lead to the destruction of the last stronghold of the elves of Ortho, and salting the earth thereof. Varzak never achieved his dream of a theocratic empire in the name of Didairdin, but the Hierarchs kept a close grip on power. Ironically the priesthood summoned many of the same devils they had known under the old system, but now they were careful to keep the fiends on a tight leash. Despite their efforts however, reverence of the Nine continued in many places.
The orcs soon dominated the northern half of the continent of Mot. The Scarab, Mantis, and Scorpion clan dwarves fell under their influence; the dwarven hive mothers pledging allegiance to the orcish Hierarchs rather than see their people destroyed. Humans, kobolds, and any other race that fell under orcish sway were given the same choice: die with honour on the battlefield or live as slaves.
It wasn’t until after the Schism that the dwarven hives regained their independence from the Fortress of Nine Claws.
After the Schism, many Hierarchs suffered a great loss of power when the worship of the Nine was outlawed. Supported by the Harmonium, the First Tyrant was able to establish something approaching independence – although the Hierarchs still maintained a great deal of power in the background. Modern historians now think that it was actually Grune the XVI’s chief wife Ylpeh Deepeyes, who orchestrated his escape from the church. Although traditionalists (especially traditionalist clergy) are appalled at this suggestion, Ylpeh’s legacy is such that particularly cunning females are regularly called ‘Deepeyed.’
From the War of Unification to the War of Iron, until the present day the orcs of Motmurk have continued to proudly serve in the front lines of the Harmonium: “Any fight, any field, any foe” is their motto and rallying cry. Great cities may have sprung up across the nation, but in his heart each orc is the same proud and brutal tribal warrior that he has always been.