The Pre-Cataclysmic Age (circa 20,000 BC)
Of that epoch known by the Nemedian Chronicles as the Pre-Cataclysmic Age, little is known except the latter part, and that is veiled in the mists of legend.
Known history begins with the waning of the civilization of the main, or Thurian continent... a civilization dominated by the kingdoms of Ramelia, Valusia, Verulia, Grondar, Thule and Commoria. These people spoke a similar language, suggesting a common origin. Though they don't seem to be in agreement. The barbarians of the age were the Picts, who lived on islands far out on the Western Ocean, the Atlanteans, who dwelt on a small continent between the Pictish islands and the Thurian continent, and the Lemurians, who inhabited a chain of large islands in the Eastern Hemisphere. There were vast regions of unexplored land, the civilized kingdoms, though enormous, occupied a relatively small portion of the whole planet. Valusia was the westernmost kingdom of the Thurian continent: her capital, the City of Wonders, was the marvel of her age. Grondar, whose people were less highly cultured than those of the other kingdoms, was the easternmost land. Among the less arid stretches of desert East of Grondar, in the serpent-infested jungles and among the snow-perched mountains, there lived scattered clans and tribes of primitive savages.
On the Far Eastern shores of the Thurian continent lived another race... human, but mysterious and non-Thurian, with which the Lemurians from time to time came in contact. They apparently came from a shadowy and nameless continent lying somewhere east of the Lemurian islands. Far to the South, there was a second mysterious civilization, unconnected with the Thurian culture and apparently pre-human in its nature.
The Thurian civilization was crumbling, their armies were composed largely of barbarian mercenaries. Picts, Atlanteans and Lemurians were their generals, their statesmen and often, their kings. Of the bickering of the kingdoms and wars between Valusia and Commoria, as well as the conquests by which the Atlanteans founded a kingdom on the mainland... there are more legends than accurate history.
Then the cataclysm rocked the world. Atlantis and Lemuria sank, the Pictish islands were heaved up to form the mountain peaks of a new continent, while sections of the Thurian continent vanished under the waves or sinking, forming great inland lakes and seas. Volcanoes broke forth and terrific earthquakes shook down the shining cities of the empires. Whole nations were blotted out and the face of the world was forever changed.
The Rise of the Hyborians (circa 17,000 - 15,000 BC)
When the great cataclysm caused the destruction of Atlantis and Lemuria, the inhabitants of the Pictish isles likewise perished. But a great colony of them, already settled along the mountains of Valusia's Southern frontier, were virtually untouched. Atlantis' kingdom on the main continent also escaped the common ruin, and to it came thousands of their tribesmen, fleeing in ships from the sinking land. Many Lemurians also made their way to the Eastern coast of the Thurian continent, only to be enslaved by the ancient race which already dwelt there. And their history, for thousands of years, became a story of brutal servitude.
In the Western part of the continent, thick jungles covered the plains, wild mountains were heaved up, and lakes covered the old cities in fertile valleys. Forced to battle continually for their lives, the Atlanteans yet managed to retain vestiges of their former state of advanced barbarism. Then, their struggling culture came into contact with the powerful Pictish nation. The stone-age kingdoms clashed, and in a series of bloody wars, the outnumbered Atlanteans were hurled back into savagery, and the evolution of the Picts was halted. Five hundred years after the cataclysm, the barbaric kingdoms had vanished.
To the far South, untouched by the cataclysm, is veiled in mystery, its destiny still pre-human. But a remnant of one of the non-Valusian civilized nations dwells among the low mountains of the Southeast. They are the Zhemri.
Meanwhile, in the far North, another people are slowly are coming into existence. A band of barely human savages had fled thither to escape destruction, they found the icy countries inhabited only by a species of snow-apes, whom they fought and drove beyond the arctic circle, to perish, as the savages thought. The primitive humans then adapted to their hardy new environment and survived.
Then, another lesser cataclysm further altered the appearance of the original continent and left a great inland sea to separate East and West. The earthquakes, floods and volcanoes completed the ruin of the barbarians, already begun by their fierce tribal wars.
A thousand years later, wandering bands of ape-men exist without human speech, fire or tools. These are the descendants of the once-proud Atlanteans. To the Southwest dwell scattered clans of degraded cave-dwelling savages, primitive of speech, yet still retaining the name of Picts. Far to the East, the enslaved Lemurians have risen and destroyed their masters. They are savages, stalking the ruins of a strange civilization. The survivors of that civilization have come westward, overthrowing the pre-humans of the south and founding a new kingdom called Stygia. In the North, one tribe is growing: the Hyborians or Hyboai. Their god is Bori, some great chief whom legend has raised to the status of a deity. 1,500 years in the snow-country have made them a vigorous and warlike race. And now, they are pushing southward in leisurely treks.
A wanderer to the North at about this time returned with the news that the Northern icy wastes were inhabited by ape-like men, descended from the beasts driven out of the more habitable land by the Hyborians' ancestors. To exterminate these creatures, a small band of warriors followed him beyond the arctic circle. None returned.
And meanwhile, the tribes of the Hyborians drifted ever southward, to make the following age an epoch of wandering and conquest.
The Hyborian Kingdoms (circa 14,000 - 10,000 BC)
1,500 years after the lesser cataclysm which created the inland sea, tribes of tawny-haired Hyborians have moved southward and westward, conquering and destroying many of the small unclassified clans. As yet, these conquerors have not come in contact with the older races. To the Southeast, the descendants of the Zhemri are beginning to seek to revive some faint shadow of their ancient culture. To the West, the apish Atlanteans have began the long hard climb back toward true humanity, while to the South of them, the Picts remain savages, apparently defying the laws of nature by neither progressing nor retrogressing. And, far to the South dreams the ancient, mysterious kingdom of Stygia. On its Eastern borders wander clans of nomadic savages already known as the sons of Shem, while next to the Picts, in the broad Valley of Zingg, protected by great mountains, a nameless band of primitives has created an advanced agricultural system and life.
Meanwhile, the first of the Hyborian kingdoms has come onto existence, the rude and barbaric kingdom of Hyperborea, which had its beginnings in a crude fortress of boulders heaped to repel tribal attack. There are few more dramatic events in history than the rise of this fierce kingdom, whose people turned abruptly from nomadic life to rear dwellings of naked stone, surrounded by cyclopean walls.
All this time, far to the East, the Lemurians are evolving a strange semi-civilization all their own, built on the wreckage of the one they overthrew. The Hyborians, meanwhile, have founded the kingdom of Koth, on the borders of the pastoral lands of Shem. The savages of the lands of Shem, through contact with the Hyborians and the ever ravaging Stygians, are slowly emerging from barbarism. Far to the North, the first kingdom of Hyperborea is overthrown by another tribe which, however, retains the old name. Southeast of Hyperborea, a kingdom of the Zhemri has come into being, under the name of Zamora. To the Southwest, invading Picts have merged the agricultural dwellers of the fertile Valley of Zingg. This mixed race in turn will be conquered by a roving tribe of Hybori, and from this mingled elements will come the kingdom called Zingara.
500 years later, the kingdoms of the world are clearly defined. The kingdoms of the Hyborians - Aquilonia, Nemedia, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Koth, Ophir, Argos, Corinthia and the Border Kingdom - dominate the Western world. Zamora lies to the East, Zingara to the Southwest of these. Far to the South sleeps Stygia, untouched by foreign invasions, though the peoples of Shem have exchanged the Stygian yoke for the less galling one of Koth. The Stygians have been driven South of the great river Styx, also called Nilus or Nile, which empties into the Western Sea. North of Aquilonia are the Cimmerians, ferocioius savages untamed by any invaders. Descended from the ancient Atlanteans, they are progressing more rapidly than their old enemies, the Picts, who dwell in the wilderness West of Aquilonia.
Another five centuries and the Hybori peoples are the possessors of a virile civilization, whose most powerful kingdom is Aquilonia, though others vie with it in strength and splendor. They are the supreme in the Western world. In the North, however, golden-haired, blue-eyed barbarians have driven the remaining Hyborian tribes out of all the snow-countries except Hyperborea. Their land is known as Nordheim, and they are divided into the red-haried Vanir and the yellow-haired Aesir. Now the Lemurians enter history again, as Hyrkanians. Pushing westward, one tribe establishes the kingdom of Turan on the Southwestern shore of the inland Vilayet Sea. Later, other Hyrkanian clans push westward around that sea's northern extremity.
Glancing briefly at the peoples of that age. The dominant Hyborians are no longer uniformly twany-haired and grey-eyed; they have mixed with other races, but this mixing has not weakened them. The Shemites are men of medium height with hawk noses, dark eyes and blue-black beards. The ruling classes of Stygia are tall men, dusky and straight-featured. The Hyrkanians are dark and generally tall and slender. The people of Nordheim retain their light skin, blue eyes and red or yellow hair. The Picts are the same type as they always were; short, very dark with black eyes and hair. The Cimmerians are tall and powerful, with dark hair and blue or grey eyes. South of Stygia are the vast black kingdoms of the Amazons, the Kushites, the Atlaians and the hybrid empire of Zembabwei. Between Aquilonia and the Pictish wilderness lie the Bossonian Marches, peopled by descendents of an aboriginal race mixed with Hyborians. They are stubborn fighters and great archers, as they must be to have survived centuries of warfare with the barbarians to the North and West.
This, then, was an "Age Undreamed Of", when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars.
- This is an RPG setting, separate from the CVnU, Prime, or any other preexisting CV RPG setting. It is taken directly from the Hyborian Age setting created by Robert E. Howard, which was the setting inhabited by Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja. This is a very vast and complicated world, and the basic synopsis above is really only scratching the surface of it. If you are interested in taking part, it is strongly recommended that you do some extra research on the nations, cultures, and peoples of the setting. If you want to play a character like Conan, for example, you should look up information on Cimmeria, at the very least.
- Anyone wishing to take part in this setting will need to create a character; there is no “porting in” existing characters. Characters will be human; despite this being a fantasy setting, there are no elves or orcs or such. Your country of origin will determine most of your physical and cultural characteristics, although “mixed blood” characters are possible, as well.
- Language is an important consideration in character creation, as there is no “common tongue.” It is not at all uncommon for characters to speak several languages, and this can be affected by age, experience, and profession. A soldier that has spent his career defending his nation’s capital city might only know his own country’s language, and perhaps a smattering of the neighboring countries’. An experienced wanderer might know a score, a scholar will likely known a few dead languages, and so forth.
- The tech level varies from country to country, but in general, no country has technology more advanced than that of the early Middle Ages. This is swords, spears, and axes, here!
- While this is not a “low-magic” setting, per se (there are many supernatural elements and forces), magic users are extraordinarily rare. Magic is a powerful and corrupting force, requiring a lifetime of dedicated study, and invariably warps and twists anyone who dabbles in it, mentally and physically. It is also a very risky pursuit, involving wielding chaotic forces and making pacts with demonic entities who would like nothing more than betray any self-styled “wizard.”
- The first RP will be taking place in northwestern Cimmeria, near the border of both Vanaheim and Pictland; if you character is not from one of these areas, you’ll need to come up with a reason for being there.
- PM Kievan_of_Haloga if you are interested in making a Hyborian character; any and all characters need to be approved to maintain the proper feel and theme of the setting. I can also provide you with some online resources if you’d like more information and character-building tips. Character ideas should include appropriate names, race (Cimmerian, Aquilonian, Kushite, etc), basic physical appearance, languages spoken, physical abilities (and none of this “peak human” business; “peak” means something different to a Cimmerian than it would to a Stygian, and characters should have both strengths and weaknesses), skills (including weapon proficiencies), and any other unique attributes. Feel free to use this character’s bio as a template.
- Please don’t take it personally if I criticize or even reject a character idea; this is a very different setting than most comic-based RPs, and making a character for it will and should involve more than a little reading and getting a feel for the world. Hyboria as a setting is similar Westeros, in that there’s a lot of history, culture, and politics at play, and the world itself is very dark, primitive, and violent. I’m not going to include any character that wouldn’t be a proper fit, because that would undermine the entire enterprise.