Proper Name: Orcish Empire of the Pomarj
Ruler: His Most Ferocious Majesty, the Despot Turrosh Mak (NE male half-orc Ftr16)
Government: Dictatorship governing numerous rival nonhuman tribal leaders and shamans; dictator has large personal army composed of warriors from his own orc tribe
Major Towns: Badwall (pop. 3,300(?), ruined), Blue (pop. 6,300), Elredd (pop. 1,500(?), ruined), Fax (pop. 2,000(?), ruined), Highport (pop. 15,000), Stoneheim (pop. 5,700)
Provinces: Numerous nonhuman tribal territories
Resources: Silver, electrum, gold, gems (I-II)
Coinage: Various official and unofficial currencies, some out of date, manufactured by most cities, towns, and major nonhuman tribes
Population: 476,000—Orc 43%, Human 28% (SOf), Goblin 15%, Hobgoblin 10%, Halfling 3%, Other 1%
Languages: Orc, Common, Goblin
Alignments: CE, NE*, LE
Religions: Orc pantheon, Beltar, Syrul, various goblin gods
Allies: Scarlet Brotherhood (rumored but unproven)
Enemies: Greyhawk, Ulek states (especially the Principality), Keoland, Celene (taking no offensive actions), Duchy of Urnst, Onnwal (rebels), Irongate
Overview: The Pomarj is a long arm of land extending from the Sheldomar Valley to separate the Azure Sea from the Sea of Gearnat. The “empire” of nonhumans here encompasses the whole mountainous Pomarj peninsula. Its western border begins at the foothills of the central hills of the Principality of Ulek, invaded Jewel River on the eastern border of the Principality of Ulek and sweeps north to include most of what was once referred to as the Wild Coast before it was absorbed into the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj during the Greyhawk wars. The boundaries of the Pomarj along the Woolly Bay continue north to the outskirts of the city of Safeton, where a contentious border is generally acknowledged with the domain of Greyhawk.
Dominating this land are two major features, the rugged and monster-infested Drachensgrab Hills in its central fastness and the dark and foreboding Suss Forest in the west, which separates the Pomarj from Celene and the County of Ulek. Neither place is very well populated by humanity, which has generally favored the valleys and the lowlands along the coasts since the region was first settled. Instead, these areas are under the firm control of orc and goblin tribes that claim the land under the banner of eternal hatred.
Few lands in the Flanaess are as malign as the Pomarj aspires to be. Slavery is rampant here, and humanity is treated as the lower class. The capital of the Pomarj is the city of Stoneheim, a thick-walled citadel that sits in the shadows of the southern face of the peaks of the Drachensgrab mountains. This squat, affluent place was once the center of the mining operation inaugurated by the Keoish throne three centuries ago, and was built largely by dwarven hands from Ulek. It is now held firmly by the orcs and their leader Turrosh Mak. It has only two primary purposes: the training and deployment of troops to the provinces of the empire and as a headquarters for the continued exploitation of the mineral resources of the hills. Gold is still brought out of these mines in abundance, and it is the primary means of supporting the orcs.
Hundreds of humanoid tribes call the Pomarj home. All are under the thumb of the Emperor of the Pomarj, Despot Turrosh Mak, and through him, the Slavelords. Under the watchful eye of the crafty half-orc emperor, the most rebellious tribes were expended against the human and demihuman forces to the north and west, while the ones that were more accepting of the Despot’s rule were rewarded with loot, land, and slaves. As it stands now, despite their differences, the various races and tribes of the Pomarj enjoy their current status and the security gained by their informal alliance, and it is likely that any tribe that rebels against the group will quickly be devoured by its neighbors, and not necessarily in a figurative manner. The Slavelords have been successful in promoting the Earth Dragon over the humanoid gods. While
faith in these other religions remains, any priest of the humanoid gods who starts getting ideas about leadership is quickly eliminated, leaving secular leaders or humanoid priests of the Earth Dragon to take charge.
Twenty-eight major humanoid tribes live in the Pomarj. Each has a permanent home (usually an old fortress or mine) and many females, young, and slaves as well as the active warriors (which number at least two hundred). The major tribes are led by exceptional individuals. It is these large tribes that make up the majority of Turrosh Mak’s humanoid armies. They are better disciplined and carry better equipment than most of their ilk, and are used to fighting as part of a large force. All have a well-established food supply, whether subterranean mushrooms, herd animals (surface or subterranean), simple crops, or access to good fishing. They conduct trade with one another for different foods and other goods, with the Slavelords (through Turrosh’s administrators) intervening before tempers escalate beyond anything more than normal brawls. It is to the Slavelords’ credit that the many tribes of the Pomarj have not gone to war with each other even once since the rise of Turrosh Mak, although an outbreak has been near on more than one occasion.
The lands of the Pomarj are divided into five sections related to the prevalent type of terrain.
Blue, the peninsula’s second largest settlement, is an anchorage on the eastern tip of the Pomarj. It has a different character, having been an open port and home to pirates and smugglers for centuries. Mak has strong alliances with the largely human mercenaries there, paying them well to harry the shipping lanes between the Azure Sea and the Sea of Gearnat, which makes them a bane to the city fathers of Irongate and Gryrax. The presence of the Scarlet Brotherhood and their vessels has also been noted here.
Highport, on the northern coast, is the largest city in the Pomarj, though fewer than fifteen thousand people live in the former capital. Portions of the city are still in ruin to this day, though inhabitants have largely restored the markets and shipyards that once made it an important commercial center. Humanity still outnumbers other groups here, and Highport remains a place of brisk business during the day, run by a coalition of mercantile and mercenary factions that sit in a council that reports indirectly to Turrosh Mak. However, despite these appearances, Highport’s reputation at night is as dark as any place in the Flanaess. It is correctly rumored that press gangs roam the broad streets at night, seeking those foolish enough to wander around unprotected, and that a second nocturnal society emerges after dark, one not quite as amenable as that observed during the day, nor as predominantly human. It is whispered that during these hours goblins walk openly and conduct business with orcs and other creatures who descend from the hills in the darkness, and that other even more fell beings such as ebony-skinned elves stalk its more desolate ways before the sunrise.
North of Highport, along the coast, are the cities and towns of the southern Wild Coast that are now under the control of the “empire.” The Wild Coast, called such by Keoish and Aerdy monarchs alike since neither group ever had control over the region, had long been a haven for dissidents and outcasts from other realms. These independent city-states, including Elredd, Badwall, and Fax, were no match for the marauding orc juggernaut that overran the area during the Greyhawk Wars. Now, each city (in ruins and mostly emptied of humans) exists as an armed orc camp under Mak’s control.
Locations and Settlements of the Pomarj:
History: Prior to the great migrations a millennium ago, the Pomarj was largely a desolate place inhabited by primitive Flan tribes who worshiped powers of earth and sky. Its poor soil and fell reputation caused it to be avoided by all but the most desperate of these newcomers, and it was eventually settled by small numbers of Suel who were unwelcome elsewhere and had no choice but to contend with the harsh terrain and its inhabitants. They called these heights the Suenha, until they learned from the Flan their original name: the Drachensgrabs, literally the Tomb of the Dragon. Legends held that great powers of the earth slept beneath these hills. Along the coast of the peninsula and north to the mouth of the Selintan, small communities formed away from the birth and expansions of vast kingdoms across the Flanaess.
It was not until the late third century CY, when Keoland inaugurated its imperialistic phase, that there was renewed interest in the region. The Pomarj and its hills were long suspected by the dwarves of Ulek as having great mineral wealth just waiting to be claimed and exploited. In 295 CY, an alliance between the prince of Ulek and King Tavish I of Keoland produced an invasion force that crossed the Jewel River and conquered and subjugated the region within a few short years. The land was carved up into a dozen small baronies and awarded to favored families of the crown to be ruled as sub fiefs under the protection of the prince of Ulek. These barons became extremely wealthy from the mineral riches extracted from the mines over the next few decades. In 305 CY, Highport was constructed atop the foundations of a smaller town in order to exploit this wealth with the rest of the world.
More than a century and a half later, the power of the Keoish Throne waned after years of conflict. The barons of the Pomarj had no voice in the Royal Council at Niole Dra, instead they were subjects of the prince of Ulek. The latter withdrew from the kingdom to gain palatinate status from Keoland in 461 CY, and the barons of the Pomarj broke with the prince of Havenhill two years later to declare their own independence. They took the city of Highport as their capital and ejected the dwarven garrisons to begin ruling their petty states largely independently, even from each other. Some took the title of archbaron, duke, or prince, one going so far as to call himself the king of the Drachensgrabs.
A few decades later, conflict broke out in the Lortmils between the elves, dwarves, and men of the region and the orcs and goblins. This was the beginning of the Hateful Wars, and the prince of Ulek appealed to the former baronies of the Pomarj to join the alliance for the strength derived from mutual defense and greater numbers. The Pomarj lords met in Highport the following year to discuss their response, but they saw little reason to involve themselves in what they considered an internecine conflict between essentially nonhumans. Further, they feared being reabsorbed into the Principality of Ulek, distrusting the motives of the prince and so turned their backs on the alliance.
With the defeat of the orc and goblin armies at the hands of the hosts of Ulek and Celene at the end of the war in 510 CY, the inevitable came to pass. With nowhere else left to retreat, the angry and beaten survivors fell back in the only direction not fortified against them. In 513 CY, these ravaged and vengeful armies emerged from the Suss and descended upon Highport in a frenzy of destruction. The city was quickly sacked and burned; much of its population was put to the sword. Within mere months, the orcs had driven out the local lords and taken over most of the former baronies of the Pomarj.
So began the quick decline into decadence that has continued almost to the present day. The orcs and goblins carved up the realm into small territories ruled by individual tribes and chieftains. Human bandits and privateers still frequented the major cities and towns, but the countryside became unsafe to travel.
Anarchy persisted for decades until the mid 560s, when a group arose to seize control of large swaths of the Pomarj and put it under central authority. Calling themselves the Slave Lords, these humans brokered deals with the orc chieftains and began fostering an illicit trade in flesh. However, in 579 CY, the dominion of these lords crumbled. Reports indicated that a volcanic eruption in the mountains destroyed their hidden fastness.
In the early 580s, a new leader emerged to unite the tribes, a rabble-rousing half-orc named Turrosh Mak. During the Greyhawk Wars, he inspired the orc tribes of the Pomarj to reclaim their “birthright” in the Lortmils This precipitated a successful invasion of the Wild Coast and the Principality of Ulek; nearly half of those two realms were annexed by Mak. States as far away as Furyondy and Urnst are concerned over the rising strength of this new leader, who took the last five years to consolidate his holdings.
War between the Pomarj and the dwarves of Ulek has continued unabated to the present, and some of the land west of the Jewel was recaptured in a major battle in 586 CY. Mak now works to build an orc-and human pirate navy with which to extend his power across the sea, at least until he has the power to overcome the elven kingdom of Celene.
Conflicts and Intrigues: The Prince of Ulek wants vengeance and has made an alliance with the Knights of Luna to fight Mak. Drow have been spotted at night in Highport. Mak has sent expeditions into the Suss Forest to investigate reports of a lost city of the Suel, where he hopes great magic remains for his use. Agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood were spied in the Pomarj, especially at the port Blue. Sister Kuranyie of Onnwal, in hiding, has sought an alliance with Mak against her rebellious realm.