(If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you may note similarities to a couple of my previous Moribund Empires that I didn’t get to use. This is about as much general expositional detail as I intend to provide for the Empire of Zoob. Additional detail will be incidental to various gazetteer entries. The most obvious influences on the Zoob aesthetic are Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, and Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts in general.)
The cities and temples of the Men of Zoob have dotted the wilder landscape for centuries, the fiefdoms of various barons, dukes, and potentates subject to a distant Empire which has gradually displaced the previous races of Men. It is only recently, however, that the Zoobish have evinced an interest in the affairs of Dwarf-Land and have ceased to respect the ancient boundaries. Skulking envoys appear at the gates of Dwarvish towns and fortresses; scouts, spies, and advance parties gather about the fairy holdings; dark sendings from Zoobish sorcerers slither and meep into the shadowed vales and caverns.
The Men of Zoob are not fops – that appellation is better applied to the tittering courtiers of Elf-Land – but they are decadent and overly enamored of artifice and ornament. They drape themselves in rich dark layers of frock coats, robes, heavy cloaks, elaborate dresses, all brocaded and filigreed, and more often than not reeking of incense and opium and hashish. In aspect, the Zoobish range from sallow to pallid, from slender to spindly, with ink-black hair, high cheekbones, and dark sunken eyes. Pencil-thin mustaches, gilded shoulder plates, and heavy rings are the height of male fashion, while Zoobish ladies favor more delicate accoutrements and plunging decolletage. Both sexes paint their nails with enamel and thickly line their eyes with kohl, producing a cadaverous effect in the less comely.
The Zoobish are notorious demon-worshippers, necromancers, and black magicians. Their bloodlines are tainted by incest and otherworldly dalliances with abyssal patrons and the dead; centuries of such congress have produced a race of languid sybarites capable of any abomination or outrage, from ritual cannibalism to obscenities further beyond the pale.
The Zoobish shun honest labor, and menial or strenuous tasks are delegated to slaves, mindless undead, and the twisted progeny of sorcerous breeding projects.
In war, the Zoobish are formidable – in fact, thus far, unstoppable. Their wizards are peerless and cruel; their warriors preternaturally skilled with their thin, deceptively wicked swords and main-gauche kris-knives; their knights awful to behold in their lacquered armor as they crash into enemy lines on tireless, wild-eyed chargers; their hordes of howling thralls driven before the main ranks in inexhaustible numbers.
The Men of Zoob are the doom of the Elder Races. The Dwarves and their kin will sooner or later fall, their works pulled down and trampled in the dust. Dwarf-Land campaign play occurs in the twilight before the inevitable darkness and ruin.