Loosely based on ancient Mesopotamia, the Old Empire is the term used to describe what was in fact a succession of empires which first expanded to bring order to the various lands detailed in this setting. In the past the Old Empire was a vast presence, building massive stone monuments and cities which still dwarf most contemporary attempts. The Empire’s power was founded on 300 years of rulership under the hero Amaru and his wife Tudhaliya. Amaru was a great hero, born of a virgin and the blood-deity Marak, who crushed opposition and unified the empire for generations. Crucial to this was his wife, who bore Amaru sons who grew to be giants, half-divine through the power of her blood-magic. They were the backbone of the Old Empire, both in the military and in its tremendous capacity to build.
The second reason for the Old Empire’s long ascendency was its use of the horse in battle and in trade. The Urian culture, the heart of the Empire, developed in the mountainous interior of their land, raising and breeding superb horses and fighting amongst themselves in tribal skirmishes. With a core of giants bred for war and brutality and waves of superb horsemen, the Empire was unstoppable for hundreds of years.
The final fall began from within. During what became the Mortal Rebellion, the Empire was thrown down and the capital city of Mitan razed, its inhabitants massacred. Amaru was eventually brought down and killed, though his wife, the mother of a vast brood of monsters, was never found.
The new power that arose were the followers of two gods of mortality – a god of life and a god of death, Ishulla and Anu respectively. The priests of these two deities are the only unifying power in the lands once ruled by Amaru and Tudhaliya, and they occupy opposite positions in society. Ishulla is the god of attachment, the god of the pain and pleasures of this life, of the experiences of mortality. Anu is the god of death, the god of transcendence, the god of whatever it is that comes after the time of a mortal is at an end. Though they are always at odds, on some level the understand that each is a necessary counterpoint for the other.
For the most part, the Old Empire is now a realm of ruins, ghosts and monsters, the legacy of the bloody reign of Amaru and Tudhaliya.
Final Note: This setting is well-suited to a horror-themed game where the player-characters go out into the unknown or explore haunted ruins or face terrible things that come out of the darkness to threaten civilization. The setting is built around the crumbling remains of a vast dynasty that fell amidst violence and betrayal, and these facts scar the land wherever the Old Empire held sway.