Mordeadus - this is one of several campaign settings I run
The region is mostly dark pine forest.
The area is often dense with fog, that can rise from nowhere and often stays for days.
Within the woods, howls and groans can often be heard but rarely a source can be found.
Note: The sounds are usually magical in nature, deriving from old curses and often emanate from nothing.
The sky is stuck in perpetual twilight and night, and the sun has not risen in known memory.
Note: Again, this is magical in nature, and outside the borders of the nation the sun will still rise. Most likely a curse from a God or ancient demon.
Few cities exist as the region is mostly small towns and villages.
The roads within the settlements are lined with jack-o-lanterns as well as the outskirts of the towns and villages.
The faces on the jack-o-lanterns are believed to ward off spirits, the twisted faces of flames bringing fear to the supernatural. Because of this, jack-o-lanterns are carved daily and replaced as needed, each family unit responsible for the area around where they live. It is also not uncommon for homes built within he woods to line their property with jack-o-lanterns.
Homes are built with black stone.
Buildings are never built with windows as the people of Mordak believe leaving holes in a building will invite evil spirits and the fact that there is no sunlight leaves little point.
Shelves are cut into the outside walls and lined with candles. Due to the constant dark, the light is meant to scare away the dark. The people of Mordak believe once true darkness descends on them, it will never leave.
The walls on the outside of the houses will often be thick with old wax left on as the people Mordak believe it is good luck since the wax has been blessed with light.
Iinside, the homes are covered in candles, dozens filling every room, and fires roaring at all times in the hearth. The people of Mordak never for a moment let the dark overtake them.
Note 1: Consider most inhabitants having a phobia of the dark.
Note 2: If at anytime a player is caught in true darkness, consider having ghosts or undead start manifesting.
The people wear mostly black wolf or rabbit furs gathered from the woods.
Because of the dangers of the dark, every citizen of Mordak travels with a bandolier of candles across their chest and many more in pockets, belts or sacks throughout their body
There is no central religion as the people are more into superstition than Gods.
Black cats are bad luck. Mirrors can trap and release souls and most keep trinkets of cold iron in their pockets or as necklaces.
Lead by a monarchy that has little control outside their city, each town or village is instead controlled by an elder or a powerful baron.
The leadership is indifferent and usually bands together for survival than for anything benevolent.
The region is mostly poor and struggling with little in the way of nobles and powerful merchants.
They use standard coin as their currency.
Their main import is animal fat to make candle wax; being such a necessity it is not uncommon for towns to sell off loved ones or even give up their remaining food for wax, preferring to starve than face the dark. Because of this, merchants across the borders will often overcharge for animal fat with Mordak having little option other than to pay.
They are more spirit than physical, capable of flying, passing through solid surfaces and materializing at will.
Wearing tattered flowing rags, they are gangly female forms with long black hair, white faces and large black eyes.
Standing 8 feet tall, they have oversized fingers and toes.
They feast on the souls of the living, flying through the pine forests far from the light of candles and jack-o-lanterns.
They will often wait underground and drag their victims into the dirt, suffocating them before absorbing their essence, leaving only a dry withered corpse.
Note: When figuring out the hags’ stats, they are considered ghosts or wraiths.
The witch covens
Deep in the pine woods, living within overgrown cottages are covens of witches from 1 or 2 to dozens.
They are female, their bodies aged and twisted, their faces wrinkled with crooked noses and skin patches with hairy moles.
Being spellcasters, they mostly use illusion and charm spells to lure victims to their layer with a disguise of a good looking man or women in distress, then using their charm to seduce the victim.
Once brought to their lair, the witches descend upon the victims like wilds dogs, eating their flesh while the person is still alive, then boil down their fats and organs into spells or wine.
Their cottages are often decorated with bones, their walls layered with dried skins and stinks of rot.
In the center of every cottage is the iron cauldron where the witches cook, create potions and wine.
Some using their disguise will wander into towns and sell their potions or wine – healing, flight, etc, - in exchange for things they may need or to eye new victims. Unfortunately for the buyer, it isn’t till too late do they realize what they have been drinking.
Note 1: The drinks or potion will work as described -healing, flight, etc, despite its disgusting and macabre ingredients.
Note 2: When figuring out the witches’ stats, they are considered undead human spellcasters.
Roaming the pine woods are packs of leathery humanoid creature with jack-o-lanterns heads.
They can run on all fours and will often do so howling and growling form their pumpkin heads.
They are always hostile, almost mindless, attacking with sharp claws, breathing fire from their pumpkin head or biting with bone like teeth growing within its pumpkin head mouth.
Considered demons, their numbers are small, from only a couple to now more than a dozen, but increase as it gets closer to a full moon till the countryside can be filled with 1000s.
During the full moon, most people in settlements hide barricaded within their homes and all life stops while the moon begins to wane.
No one knows where they come from or why the moon plays an effect, they just know the saying, “When the sky is bright, get out of sight, when the woods groan, hide in your home.”
Note 1: The pumpkin heads are demons and come from deep in the earth, drawn to the magical nature of the moon only to return back to the earth to slumber during the darker nights.
Note 2: When figuring out stats for a pumpkin head, they are considered demons. With the more powerful ones being larger and older than the ones with lesser stats.
The dark farmsteads
A large region Mordak’s is covered by an area known as the dark farmstead.
This was a region of rich farmland long ago before an unknown ancient blight cursed the grounds.
Now the farms long since abandoned are in a state of perpetual decay. Old corn is always withered and dry, never growing, never dying. Undead pigs, cows, horses still graze the fields and live within dilapidated stables.
Homes and windmills have fallen into disrepair but never collapsing. The wood has turned black and rotting, doors are rusted closed and vines and moss often net entire buildings.
Animated scarecrows wonder the fields, killing anyone who enters, then uses the dead as feed for the undead livestock.
Note 1: When figuring out stats for an animated scarecrow, they are considered golems with only two orders: kill all who enter, feed the remains to the animals.
Note2: When figuring out stats for the undead animals, they are considered zombies.
No one is sure why the area is in a state of decay or when it happened, but some believe it is an undead God slumbering beneath the once fertile fields or that the Gods have forsaken the place all together with the very lands itself being cursed to be undead.
The grave fields
Near the northern borders of the country exist long stretches of graveyards some centuries old.
10s to 100s or 1000s of graves dot the area and are rumored to be from a massive war once fought on the continent, although little record can be found in history.
Note: The graves are from a massive war with most records being destroyed long ago.
Many graves are worn and long since pillaged of their valuables with others still unopened, holding enormous tombs consisting of entire dungeons going deep into the earth.
The area is extremely magical, flowing with natural necromatic energies and anything that dies in the region, soon comes back as undead.
Because of the energies, massive amounts zombies are always rising from the graves, from a few dozens to hordes in the upper 1000s.
Usually the zombie mingle mindless in the northern border, seldom leaving their gravesite, but when a horde forms, they begin to wander. Some make their way across the border, becoming someone else’s problem, while others go south, wiping out entire settlements of Mordak with every thrust.
Although effort has been put in place to dug up the graves and burn the dead, little has changed and every few months to years hordes continue to rise.
Every horde has been dealt with so far, but at a cost and every generation of Mordak is smaller than the one before it with some believing there is only a generation or 2 left before they can no longer stem the tide.
In addition to the zombie swarms, necromancy cults have come to the area, taking advantage of the natural necromantic energies that linger within the graves.
Hoping to gain favor with their particular Gods, some come for power, some to cause chaos, but all have exacerbated the problem by enriching and strengthening the necromantic energies in the area, causing the undead to rise in accelerated numbers. Now what was once a rare occurrence has become common with some necromancers reporting that certain cemeteries have an almost unstoppable flow of undead rising from graves.
Note: While the hordes will not be the only problem a character may face while in Mordak, the zombie swarms should always be at the forefront of their survival, a dark cloud always looming.