Goblins, Orcs, Ogre, Trolls, and Draugh.
Much of this bleak land of dark forests and barren plains is dominated by the Tusmi river basin. The outlet of this river opens into the Baeric Sea in the windy gulf of Uldaug. To the northwest, the land slowly rises to rugged hills and ancient mountains. The eastern border is dominated by the great range of mountains that separate Ar-Abel from Narak-Zagul. The remainder of this land is gently rolling plains rising to hill country, rugged badlands, and coastal mountains.
The capitol of Ar-Abel consists of a great walled city that is built upon the ruins of the former Dwarven fortress of Duarn-Karth. It has been renamed to Khokarth, and the walls greatly strengthened by the slaves. The capitol is surrounded by the dens of seven of the leading goblinoid tribes, who supply much of the troops for the army. At the heart of this dark city are the black towers of Bhanargh, where the Draugh pursue their evil experiments.
During the time of the wars between the gods, one of the most hideous creations of the warring factions was the Draugh. These tall, skeletal figures were created when demon spawn of the void merged with Ogre. Only half alive, the Draugh controlled powerful magical forces in the realms of both the living and the dead.
The Draugh, who called themselves the red brotherhood, began to experiment with their kin, producing an even more aggresive and militant offspring of the Orcish sprain. These Scro soon dominated their weaker Orc brothers and began to organize the feuding hordes into a grand army. Led by the Draugh, the Scro armies commanded Goblins, Orcs, Ogre, Trolls, and other goblinoid kin in a grand campaign against their Dwarven rivals.
Once the Dwarves were driven from the land of Ar-Abel, the Draugh used their goblinoid armies and captive slaves to construct fortifications and underground tunnels. They would base their operations from behind these mighty works, undermining their neighbors through their tunneling operations and then sending in the goblinoid armies to vanquish the enemy cities.
Since the conquest of Ar-Abel, the Draugh have begun a steady campaign to weaken and eventually destroy the dwarven nation of Narak-Zagul. Meanwhile, several lesser states along their borders have been conquered and their populace enslaved. Within the borders of Ar-Abel are a number of human towns that are now used by the Draugh as breeding grounds for their experiments and to maintain a supply of slaves.
Officially, the land of Ar-Abel is ruled by a hereditary monarchy of the Scro. However, the lord of this land, currently the Ultimo Durnzak Fhurg, is commanded from behind the scenes by Draugh advisors. For those who are not familiar with the Draugh, they always appear to speak with one voice when commanding their subjects. This unity of purpose and common knowledge makes the government of Ar-Abel a formidable and inplacable foe to any outsiders. Nevertheless, the few trusted goblinoid servants who directly work with the Draugh know that there are complex internal politics and many disagreements within their secret ruling council.
Left to their own devices, the goblinoid races would descend into a feuding nation of tribes that would quickly collapse. Hence it is necessary for the Draugh and their Scro servants to maintain continuous control through oppresive measures.
The Ar-Abel hordes are formed from the seven great clans (detailed below) that survived the rise of the Draugh. They are led by an elite army of Scro warriors known as the Tikanus. This palace guard is often used to cow the remaining goblinoid troops.
To protect their capitol from invaders, the Draugh unleashed a magical ritual of great evil in the grounds around their capitol. At a distance of one hundred kilometers from the capitol stands a ring of grey dust that forms a wall some five kilometers deep. Any living beings that enter this wall of raining dust have their flesh magically peeled from their bones over the course of an hour. The only means to enter the capitol then is to travel along the fortified underground ways of the Orcs. These are heavily guarded by the garrison army, and commanded by elite Scro leaders.
The rulers of Ar-Abel are very arrogant and quite hostile toward all other nations, although their vehemence is directed primarily toward the hated dwarves of Narak-Zagul. The closest that Ar-Abel has come to neutral relations is toward the Ogre lords of Atquila.
Despite their arrogance and hatred of the other nations, there is a surprising amount of trade occuring between Ar-Abel and its neighbors to the south and west. Most of this trade is arranged by the human hostages being held on Ar-Abel land. Merchants are allowed to travel abroad, but only if hostages are held to account for their good behavior.
Ar-Abel exports raw materials, including ore mined from the mountains in the east, and certain hard woods from the river valleys. In return, they import all manner of goods, including leather goods, wagons, barrels of ale, tools, and wild beasts for bloodshed in their arena.
The various Gods of the Void have a strong following among the Goblinoid tribes and clans. All other Gods are considered evil and their worshippers are subject to a fate worse than death. The religious practices of the Goblinoids include various forms of sacrifice, raids on enemy settlements, and drunken debauchery.
The Draugh are powerful and formidable magic practitioners, although their sorcerous spells are primarily destructive in nature. There are no major nodes of magical energy in this land, however, so the dangerous abilities of the Draugh are limited at this time.
The Hor'ghash, or toothless ones, are the survivors of the great clan wars that began the rise of the Draugh. These form the mass of the goblinoid laborers, slaves, and workers who dwell in the captured dwarven cities and villages. The Hor'ghash perform all the duties that are considered unsuitable by the members of the seven great clans. They perform all the menial labor, repair the tools, dig the tunnels, and, lowest of all, farm.All members of the seven tribes consider themselves superior to the Hor'ghash, and enjoy rubbing the noses of the toothless ones in their inferior status. The Hor'ghash are relentlessly bullied from youth by the tribes. As a result, they are whipped, cowardly beings who will run from even a child of the tribe. Even captive humans are considered above the Hor'ghash.
Near the western border of the land of Ar-Abel lies a mysterious marshy, black forest known as the Tangle Woodlands. These deep woods are the site of an ancient curse. Any who enter the woods are doomed to dwell there forever. The woods will shift and animate so as to misdirect any beings toward the center of the trees. Those who attempt to leave are blocked by the trunks and branches of the black trees. As the victims struggles to hack their way free, the trees will become increasingly animated and drive them back to the middle.
In the center of the woods is a large opening where dwell a tribe of oddball goblins. These stand nearly twice the height of their cousins, although their legs and arms are normal sized. They are particularly notable for their large, protruding bellies. Unfortunately, they are also noted for their carnivorous consumption of any bounty the forest should send their way.
None save certain types of creatures - the rat, crow, snake, and spider, are allowed to dwell within the forest without harm. These, however, are all infected with a maddening behavior that will cause them to attack any living creatures with great fury.
Little is known as to the reason for the dire behavior of this marshy forest, save for a legend about a tower of earth and mud that lies somewhere deep within the woods.
Isle of Naerdo'ell
During the time of the great war between the elves, one of the refugee groups settled on an island along the Tusmi river. Beset by goblinoid raids, these Elves wove a powerful and permanent spell of illusion and protection about their island. Thereafter their home was forever hidden from the sight of their enemies.
This island is believed to wander the length of the Tusmi river basin each year, disguising its location from the surrounding enemies of the elves. The size of the island also seems to be much larger than the width of the river that it occupies. On the center of the island, these peaceful and insular river elves have constructed a beautiful city of water-polished granite. However, few save the elves who occupy this land have ever been invited to witness the artistic and magical the wonders of Naerdo'ell Isle.
The Seven War Clans
The seven great goblinoid clans of this land are the survivors of a great purge that followed the rise of the Draugh. These tribes allied themselves with the new masters and proceeded to quash their rivals and enemies. The survivors were brought into the seven great tribes as slaves and breeders for the victorious goblinoids.
Blood Slasher Tribe - ruled by clan lord Ogrid the Ruthless, the warriors of the Red Slashers are initiated by a three-bladed dagger drawn across the chest. They prodly display their marks by wearing only leather kilts sewn together by woven hair. The tribal banner is the cleaved skull of a famous enemy with an arror run through the eye. They favor the falchion and a heavy chain mesh arm guard.
Wolf Stickers - The smallest of the great clans, these lads provide the worg-mounted archer cavalry for the feared hordes of Ar-Abel. They are led by Chief Fang Lip, a heavily scarred warrior who always rides the toughest dog in the worg pack. The symbol of the Stickers is a pole carrying scalps of the defeated enemies. They use a poor quality bow weapon which is usually employed en masse to make up for the generally mediocre aim of the riders. Warriors are indoctrinated into the cavalry by fighting and slaying an older warg with only a knife. The hide then serves as his armor.
Gore Rippers - Known for their harsh treatment of slaves and enemy troops, these warriors favor a hooked glaive which they use to rip at the innards of their foe. Their current leader is Iron Gyang, an older half-orc veteran who has survived many would-be successors by an utterly ruthless fighting style. The rippers shave their scalps and tattoo their bare heads in order to further terrify their foe.
Skull Basher Clan - This clan of unusually tall goblins is one of the smaller of the surviving trives. They are noted for their courage prowess in battle, however, and usually form the core of any Ar-Abel raiding army. Because of their loyalty and significant contributions to the victory of the Draugh, the Skull Bashers have received special treatment. They are armed with good quality steel swords, and wear heavy iron mesh and a norman shield. The ruler of this clan is Dregar Kaugh, a young, powerful warrior who rose to powered after downing the mighty Gangh Iroz.
Seared Hand Clan - Noted for the burn marks that are inflicted upon the back of their hand during initiation. As the largest of the surviving tribes, the members of this clan provide the bulk of the fighting forces of the Ar-Abel army. They have taken heavy losses as a result.
The Seared Hand are led by Higilda Xugha, a powerful, rotund female ogre who rules the men through cunning and remarkable skill with the spear. Her goblins carry spear and a bone shield, with a horned iron helm and studded leather hauberk. The symbol of the clan is a black fist on a blood red background, a banner that they adopted from a defeated human army.
Dwarf Slayer Clan - This dark-skinned tribe of orcs has a particular hatred of all things dwarven, and can be held back only with difficulty when facing a dwarven force. They are led by Dudogh, a two-headed Goblin who wields a trident and hook. The warriors are equipped with a variety of weapons, often arms stolen from defeated foes. Likewise their armor is equally diverse. The symbol of the clan is the upper body of a dwarf tied to a Y-cross on a cart. They are particularly adept as sappers and miners, and are often responsible for sieges of the dwarven settlements - a task which they relish.
Black Gobbos - This peculiar clan of goblinoids has some odd fetishes which they practice upon themselves and their slaves. Their skin is pierced in many locations by animal fangs, and they beat themselves into a frenzy with thorn bushes and nettles. Their leader, a one-eyed and particularly nasty little goblin is called Ergot by his troops. The warriors wear leather belts and pieces from which are suspended iron chain across the body. For leggings, they favor an assortment of quilted leather pieces. Most Black Gobbos favor the two-handed flail and a pole hook for weapons, although their leader carries a crows bill with a demon horn for a blade.
Ichor Blade Clan
Within the abandoned tunnels and buildings of Ar-Abel, a new tribe is arising among the Hor'ghash, known as the Ichor Blade clan. These are a cunning group who practice the charade of being weak and defeated goblins by day, yet are becoming masters of stealth, trickery, and poison under the tutellage of certain human slaves. The banner of this clan is the wavy dagger, covered in blood, a sign that is carefully kept hidden from the other tribes... for now.
The Ichor Blades are led by a goblin master assassin, Di'vhel Cuwgh, who has built a secret base within the very walls of the capitol of Ar-Abel. His identity is a closely guarded secret, although he is known by the Draugh masters. The Draugh actually encourage the activities of this new tribe, as they plan to use the Ichor Blades as a secret guard and enforcement group.
At the mouth of the great Tusmi river basin lies the Orc tribe of the Lobohs (pronouced Loh-bows.) Decimated during the great clan wars, the Lobohs have been keeping a low profile in their homeland while their numbers recover. With few mineral resources in their new homeland, they have instead taken to the water with a vengence, becoming the terror of the coastline. Loboh coastal raiders have forced the Carmun trade fleet to take to the open seas in order to avoid their piratical activities.
The Lobohs live in great adobe cities built under inland cliffs near the coast. From the caves, shallow passages run down to concealed docks in the woods along the river banks. Known as targark, Loboh ships are small, solidly constructed war ships with banks of ten oars along each side. When a merchant ship is sighted from the watch towers atop the cliffs, the Loboh raiders race along the tunnels to their ships, and then go to sea en masse.
To capture the prize, the Loboh depend on the powerful arms of their rowers - usually the strongest Orcs in the tribe. Once the enemy ship is enveloped by the Loboh boats, the Orcs board the prize with a mad rush that will usually overwhelm any defenders. Prisoners taken with the prize are usually eaten by the resource poor Loboh, so being captured by these Orcs is not a pleasant prospect. Loboh raiders are dressed in the attire of their captured booty, so an attack by these raiders is usually a somewhat colorful and bizarre happening.
These beasts are winged gobbo spies mutated by the Ogre-demon lords. They are somewhat shorter than normal goblins, with stiff hairs arranged in a bristle around the ears and a warty, dark- green hide. Their wings are somewhat bat-like, with dark green skin stretched between the fingers. Ghoir-oig are poor flyers overall, but capable of gliding for great distances. Being few in number, they are reserved for special missions rather than fighting together as a horde. Their keen night sight makes them especially suited for scouting missions over enemy territory. On the ground, the Ghoir-org are equipped with little more than a long knife and a leather apron.
War Drums of Khardoum
These great drums are formed from huge oak barrels mounted carried like a four-wheeled wagon. The exterior of the drums is stained with the blood of many enemies, while the back end is covered with the stretched hide of an elephant. Setting the hammers for these drums require a team of four goblins turning a winding crank. When the hammer is released to strike the stretched hide, the drum reverberates with a sound like distant thunder. The armies of Ar-Abel are accompanied by a train of eight such great drums, each being struck in turn to produce an evil din that will demoralize even a battle hardened army.