User Tools

Site Tools



  • Government Type: Dictatorship
  • Symbol: Firebird
  • Major Races: Dwarves, Kleemudor Lizards
  • Capital: Polis
  • Demonym: Pthoran


The far eastern reaches of Cahyali are a polar wasteland, to some… but to Pthora, it is home. Mostly tundra, the technical territory of Pthora spans most of the far-eastern side of the Cahyali continent, although most of their population is located only in the north. The climate of Pthora is cold year-round, with temperatures approaching temperate in the midst of summer. A mystical leyspring lies in the south, its surroundings shrouded in mystery and danger. The caretakers of this leyspring, and the indigenous people of the southern tundras are known as the Johtalit. Pthora is loosely based on the real-world country of Russia.

Since its founding, Pthora has known constant war - thousands of years ago, against the armies of Dahabu, and more recently, it has been locked in an arms race against Ley’Ork and the Oxis Alliance. In the intervening time, its struggle against the cold of the southern tundra has defined national identity. Pthora and war are entities so deeply linked that one cannot disentangle them any longer. With the largest standing army and most developed military in all of Cahyali, its martial might is a force to be reckoned with.

Natural Resources

Pthora is home to a wealth of natural resources: stone and ore, all mined from the Stili Mountains (particularly the towering Polis Peak). Most notably of these resources is a metal called adamantite, widely sought after for its easy malleability when forging, but incredible strength when cooled and set. Many of the greatest armors and weapons were constructed out of adamantite. This resource is tightly controlled by the Ember Army.


Pthora is a large country, though most of it is centralized in the northern landmass and archipelago. Southern Pthora is hardly Pthora at all, though Polis still claims dominion over the vast, forbidding tundras. Altogether, the country is broadly split into six regions.

Greater Polis Area

Polis is the largest city in Pthora, and towers above the Chamomile Expanse from where it is built into the tallest peak of the Spitl Mountains. Surrounding it, representing hundreds of years of building and civilization, is an area full of several smaller towns, as well as acres upon acres of farmland. For millennia, Pthora’s rulers have exerted their power from Polis, and its surrounding area has remained the center of Pthoran life essentially since the country’s founding.

Chamomile Expanse

The Chamomile Expanse covers most of the landmass of Pthora’s northern island, and is named as such for the bounty of chamomile flowers growing in the region over the warmer months. Despite being the warmest region of Pthora by far, few have taken up residence here, preferring the infrastructure of the Polis area and protection under the Ember Army. Many that resist the power of Polis have congregated here, often closer to the Nahruli coast.

Stili Mountains

This mountain range runs in a V-shape across the northern edge of Pthora. It is thought to be the initial landing point for ancestral dwarves, during Pthora’s initial settling. These days, no one inhabits the Stili range any longer, with the harsh environment full of frozen winds and constant subzero cold making it difficult to exist in the mountains as anything but an icy dragon. Ruins of ancient dwarven cities are thought to sit pristine within the mountains, but Pthoran regimes have forbidden exploration of the land since the Letniy era.

Shattered Isles

The Shattered Isles are a chain of islands that connect Pthora and the tundras. In winter, one can walk from northern Pthora down to the islands, as thick sheets of sea ice form between the islands that last well into the spring. Few are sure of the true shape of the Isles, as this icy layer persists in some capacity year-round. The Isles mainly export fishing, and contain all of Pthora’s port cities. All trade conducted with other nations goes through the Shattered Isles. In addition, the Isles contain most of Pthora’s prisons, where inmates work out their days in the freezing cold.

Johtalit Tundra - Inner Coast

The majority of the Johtalit inhabit the western coast of Pthora, where weather is warmer and resources are more plentiful. They form few large cities, but a few sizable towns exist in the Inner Coast area. Many of these maintain good relationships with Ley’Ork, offering aid to explorers and scientists - under the condition that they remain staunchly sovereign.

Johtalit Tundra - Qaiqsu Wastes

Nothing lives in the Qaiqsu Wastes. Nothing has ever lived in the Qaiqsu Wastes. Ignore the “stars” that land here, and do not stare too long at the angry, lone mountain peak. Please. Nothing is to be gained. This is not a place of honor.

As of 10081, an adventuring party returning from a short-lived excursion to the lone peak reported that it appeared to be a perfect pyramid shape, with snow and ice building up the facade of a mountain. Ever since that excursion, Johtalit tribesmen have mused that the mountain seems a little less ominous.1)


Having switched hands rapidly from dictatorship to dictatorship over the years, the current regime in Pthora calls itself the Ember Army, led by their High General Katerina Zimina. She rules from the Winter Office, in the grand city of Polis, and is considered on the same level as a god by most of the Pthoran populace.

Zimina employs a small cabinet of trusted subordinates, made up of select people she knows she can manipulate as puppets to her will. Under the Ember Army, military officers are public officials, with no escape from the specter of everlasting war in daily life. In addition to the Ember Army police that can be found on every street corner, reporting directly to the Winter Office is an order of secret police: the Ystervius. Fulfilling intelligence duties and carrying out covert operations throughout Cahyali, the Ystervius are a specter force to civilians and an extreme threat to foreign governments.

The Ember Army enforces a variety of laws through its stringent police force, and carries out many public executions. These are attended by massive crowds of people, usually taking the form of hanging or death by firing squad. Pthoran prisons usually take the form of work camps near the edge of Johtalit territory, and inmates are occasionally sent on expeditions into the wilderness - promised freedom if they return.


  • Theft of personal property: Incarceration for up to 30 days
  • Theft of government property: Incarceration for up to 2 years
  • Use of unsanctioned magic, non-divine: Incarceration for up to 10 years and fine of up to 2,000 gc.
  • Use of unsanctioned magic, divine: Incarceration for 20 years - life, or execution.
  • Speaking ill of the Ember Army, or sullying their name publicly: Fine of up to 500 gc and incarceration for up to 8 years.
  • Assault: Incarceration for up to 4 years
  • Assault on an officer of the law or Ember Army member: Execution
  • Creation or patronage of “degenerate” art: Fine of up to 3,000 gc
  • Murder & rape: Execution
  • Illegal exit of the country: Deportation back to Pthora, incarceration for up to 8 years
  • Treason: Execution, & incarceration of family members for up to 5 years

For more information on the history and culture of Pthora, follow this link: Pthora History & Overview

The national flag of Pthora under the Ember Army.

Cities of Pthora

Polis, Everlasting Northern Star: Population 4 million. The capital of Pthora, Polis is its largest city. Having stood for millennia, this city is carved out of the side of Polis Peak itself. It stands as a testament to Dwarven culture on Pthora, and acts as a grand facade for the might of each short-lived authoritarian regime passing through the nation. Polis is far wealthier and technologically advanced than the rest of Pthora. Its greater metropolitan region contains about 80% of Pthora's population (excluding the indigenous peoples).

  • Svetagrad Town: Population 0. Located on the edge of the Polis metropolitan region is an eerie ghost town, devastated by plague in 10025. Rumor has it that eerie, frozen undead wander the rotting streets - an unnatural sight even for the undead…
  • Kogot Village: Population 10,000. Once a farming village, this small settlement has recently seen an uptick in craftsmen and engineers arriving to the area, and is becoming a hotspot of experimentation and artifice in the Polis region.

Czernobog, Embers' Portrait: Population 500,000. Pthora keeps a tight handle on the arts, with the Winter Office reserving the ability to mark any artistic venture they deem “unhelpful” or “unflattering” as “degenerate” and pursue it with legal power. In Czernobog is a veritable cornucopia of “approved” art, from literature praising the regime, to landscape paintings emphasizing the might and natural beauty of the surroundings, to patriotic and propagandistic music. Many museums exist in Czernobog, all controlled by the Ember Army. Yet, supported by Arenti, a small yet robust artistic underground persists, pursuing mortal expression free of the chains of the restrictive regime. Czernobog is located within the greater Polis region.

Arkhivgrad, Grand Library of Resistance: Population 1 million. Far from Polis, on the western coast of the main Pthoran island, is a city built half-underground, in an effort to seem like a smaller settlement than it is. Arkhivgrad is populated by those who despise the Ember Army, seeking to witness its downfall. With their limited ability to fight back or escape, those within Arkhivgrad have one hope for survival: to remain under the nose and undetected by the Ember Army. It is populated by many Tarusians, who keep a vast library full of Pthoran culture and history - an archive that they seek to keep clean of regime influences. Arkhivgrad is located near a few smaller villages, named Tvesti and Pero, which function as refugee encampments for the most part.

Eastside Port, Gate to Mountains: Population 400,000. Located on, well, the east side of the Stili Mountains, this port city is the main access point for shipments of ores from the mountains. Cargo ships sail down the Chamomile River, passing by Polis on their way to the Inner Ocean. Despite Pthora's overall poor reputation on the world stage, trade has remained open from other nations - albeit with high tariffs when it comes to northern Cahyali. Eastside is populated mainly by those who work for trading companies and their families.

Korabel Port, Gate to Seas: Population 500,000. In the southern reaches of the archipelago connecting Pthora prime and the southern tundras is Korabel Port, a large port city serving as an access point for trade with the Heartlands and the Abundant Expanse. A fair few Johtalit also reside in Korabel; this far from Polis, the influence of the Ember Army is somewhat decreased, resulting in greater relative freedom for Korabelian residents.

Rozmakhigrad, City in Chains: Population 50,000. This city is not so much a city as it is a massive prison, located at the far reaches of what is still considered under Polis' influence. Inmates here work endlessly, doing everything from mining ice to mining actual ores, to launching expeditions into the forbidding tundras. Inmate expeditioners are promised their freedom on return. Few, if any, have ever returned.

Upirngivik, Anchor Point: Population 20,000. In the northern region of the Johtalit tundras is this small town, inhabited by the Johtalit. Somewhat more militarized than other Johtalit settlements, Upirngivik acts as a deterrent for Pthoran forces from entering Johtalit territory. Ley'Ork lends some support to Upirngivik's efforts, though Johtalit leaders are skeptical of foreign assistance.

Taqtu-Tasiq, Sacred Towns: Population Varies. The many towns of Taqtu-Tasiq are located on the tops of a gentle ring of hills - a place that was likely a mountain range in the distant past. In a valley at the center of these hills is a kidney-shaped lake, as well as the tundra leyspring. No people live inside the valley permanently, as it is considered a violation of sacred ground by the Johtalit.

This leyspring, flowing far more peacefully than the one in Ruefang, is a sacred site for the Johtalit. They call it Angiyok-Orpik, loosely translating to “great tree” due to the leyspring's visible nature, which resembles the massive spectral crown of a tree growing from the ground. The Angiyok-Orpik area is lush and warm year-round.


Impenetrable, Unshakable, Arrogant

Time and time again, including today under the rule of the Ember Army, Pthora has thrown its full weight behind a single ruler and their armies. War is arguably the glue that binds Pthora together; the country has hardly known life without it. The people of Pthora are hostile to outsiders, treating them distinctly as second-class citizens, and are especially cruel to any visitors from Dahabu. There is little to no social mobility in Pthoran society, with the poor remaining poor and the rich remaining rich over generations. Military demonstrations are common, with ceremonial marches through Polis occurring on a near-weekly basis.

The daily attire of Pthorans is best described as austere, with most resembling military dress. Fur trimmings and soft textures are common, as guards against the cold climate. The cities themselves are grand in their construction, built onto the sides of mountain peaks - or rising like mountains out of the alpine plains. The architecture is carved from stone, with grand bearded visages adorning ceremonial and governmental buildings. Statues, built from stone or bronze, are not uncommon to see around, most venerating the Ember Army and its High General.

Though the arts of Pthora are tightly regulated by the Winter Office, the daily musings of people can never really be stopped. Operating illegally with support from Arenti’s famiglia, a rich culture of art and literature has formed. Books are smuggled within and without cities, with subject matter varying from fiction novels to anti-Army political treatises. The history of Pthora is difficult to decipher within, as every new regime has treated its own rise as a calendar reckoning and restarted the dates.

Religion & Magic

Having never known Dahabi religion, Pthoran traditional belief is animistic and semi-monotheistic, believing in a great force of nature that pervades each and every part of the natural world. After the Ember Army’s takeover, religion of all forms has been banned in Pthora; the Army and its General is the only permitted object of worship. Users of divine magic are ousted or executed.

Non-divine magic is permitted, but under strict regulations. No public arcane colleges exist in Pthora, with the only mages being those employed by the Army. Fire magic, especially valued for its ability to combat the brutal cold,

Southbound: Lands of Drifting Snow

Defended by their natural environment, the Johtalit people have managed to weather the blows of both Dahabi invasion and Pthoran aggression for millennia. They practice a spiritual religion, venerating nature itself as the greatest of all gods. Some of this belief is directed at deities such as Osiris and Vahrun, referred to as Beaivi and Nuliajuk, respectively. Peregrinus and Tenebrus are also worshiped as a single sky god, called Unipkaaqtuat. Seers, shamans, and healers often worship their own interpretations of Seherine, Vormaxia, and Aset - or sometimes conglomerate interpretations of the three.

The Johtalit herd large animals called snowstriders (pictured bottom right), the name going back to their origins on Kleemudor - but here used to refer to an entirely different creature. The husbandry of these creatures is central to much of Johtalit culture, as snowstriders allow them to cross the land in relative safety and also provide much-needed hides and meat. Johtalit live mostly in small villages built from wood and brick, each led by a chieftain or shaman. Few elemental mages exist among the Johtalit, with magic practice being in the realm of divine or spiritual (the Johtalit make no distinction between the two); or, occasionally, psionic.

Promised great rewards from the Ember Army, explorers from Pthora often venture out into the southern tundra. They hope to find something; a place to stake a proper claim for Pthora, or treasure, or the like. Few of these explorers ever return, claimed by Mother Nature or by… something else, perhaps.

See the “Lonely Mountain and the Goddess” game writeups,, for more information.
settings/cahyali/pthora.txt · Last modified: 2024/04/30 18:25 by quiddlesticks