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Ophir is a country of the Hyborian Age.

Once vassal to Acheron, who coveted the kingdom’s wealth, it was only after collapse pulled down the great cities of that ancient empire that Ophir regained independence. While their history predates that of other Hyborian nations, they are still thoroughly the Sons of Bori.

Blessed with fertile land and an embarrassment of gold and precious gems, Ophir is the wealthiest of the western nations. That wealth, though, has caused a desultory condition in the population who have begun to decay, being too used to their ways, jaded by wealth and decadence and able to buy off any potential invaders. They have not had to struggle in far too long.

"Its young king was captive to the treacherous king of Ophir, who hesitated between restoring him for a huge ransom, or handing him over to his enemy, the penurious king of Koth, who offered no gold, but an advantageous treaty."
Black Colossus

Ophireans are slightly darker skinned than their Hyborian cousins, often with dark hair and brown eyes. Of medium height, they bear some similarity to Argosseans, though the former often dress with more flash. The people of Ophir are a mix of Hyborian racial stock intermingled primarily with Argossean and even some Acheronian influence, for that ancient empire was cast down, but its people were absorbed into the tribes inhabiting the land that would become Ophir. They are one of the wealthier nations in the Hyborian world, and as such, are better-groomed than most, and their garments and ornaments bespeak their financial prowess.

Geography[]

Cities of Ophir[]

Though every city has shadows in which nefarious persons skulk, and has tenements where those without coin bed down like rats, Ophir’s magnificent cities have the fewest by far. Gold buys many things, and one of those is keeping the poor and downtrodden out of the eyes of the citizenry. Though small slums find purchase in Ianthe itself, they are routinely cleared by hired mercenaries in a continual program of rebuilding and reinvigoration.

Though Ophir slips into decadence, she does not do so without style.

Ruins[]

As a former Acheronian Vassal, it is no wonder that the remains of that land still poke through the earth like infant’s teeth. Yet there are cultures before the Cataclysm which, too, have left their mark. Among the gold and diamonds, the silver mines and bountiful land, are things older than time as man can easily reckon. There lay fortunes the king himself might envy, but likewise dangers at which even the stout-hearted shrink.

The Giant-Kings’ Redoubt[]

This strange fortification lies in ruin. Its walls are made with huge, black stones weighing several tons each. They are fit together like a crazy puzzle, but a man could not slip the sharpest dagger between them. The walls that remain are over forty feet in height.

Everything in the Giant-King’s Redoubt is built on an awe-inspiring scale. The flagstones which comprise the remnant roads are half as long as a man. Huge cairns, now empty, seem built for men who stood well over ten feet tall. All this evidence caused local oral history to ascribe the site to the Giant-Kings.

However, the Giant-Kings were not giants but merely men, and they did not build this fortress. The people who did are unknown, though some clues give suggestion of their culture. In the center of the compound is a pit. Treasure hunters excavated the bottom of the pit only to find the bones of creatures the world had not seen in eons. Those statues which are still recognizable, as well as reliefs along remaining portions of buildings, suggest the people here worshiped giant lizards of the type still extant in forgotten jungles and lost plateaus. Certainly, the climate in Ophir now is not hospitable to such creatures. Astreas notes:

“It is as if the men of old coexisted with the great lizards and were supplicants before them. One wonders if, perhaps, they made offerings of animals, or even themselves, to such terrible beasts.”

The Yellow Dolmen[]

This collection of capped dolmens appears to have been both an astronomical device and a temple to Bori. Images of the god, as well as several unknown animals, appear on the huge megaliths. The craftsmanship is remarkable given that Bori worshipers were rude savages. Each stone stands between twelve and twenty feet in height and form lopsided circles on the low hill on which they stand.

The stones are not local and must have been hauled a great distance. What’s more, the entirety of the site was once purposefully buried. A giant hill hid this megalithic wonder for thousands of years. It was the Acheronians who dug it up for reasons unknown, and the records of this survived the fall of that empire.

Mostly, the site is avoided, for travelers and locals alike report dark, winged forms circling the dolmen in the dusk. At that time, a strange gaseous fog appears which is yellow in color. In hangs over the hill like an obscene crown and dissipates by morning. No one has yet discovered when this phenomenon will occur. Every so often, less knowledgeable (or foolish) travelers stop at the Yellow Dolmen. They return with stories of nausea, hair loss, and sudden weakness. They also claim that freshly-severed human fingers still wet with blood sit upon certain low, altar-like stones. Some wild men or a cult clearly reveres and uses the site today.

History and politics[]

Ophir Throws off the Yoke of Acheron[]

Ophir was part of the Acheronian Empire, a vassal like Koth and, while the nation always had its own king, the true ruler always resided in the purple-towered city of Python. The Ophireans toiled under that yoke, though their wealth allowed them more freedom than other, more unfortunate subjects of the Purple Throne. Yet with the collapse of Acheron did not come joyful independence. Instead, the west entered a dark age. Old roads fell into disrepair, magnificent monuments to civilization were pulled down and replaced by smaller towns and narrower visions. Ophir, along with the remaining civilized peoples, suffered. They were easy prey for the Hyborian barbarians who soon swept through and conquered their lands.

Ophir still retained its wealth, however, and with it preserved some of the older age of civilization. Much of Hyborian culture, art, and custom owe a debt to those in Ophir — philosophers, scholars, and even kings — who carried the torch of civilization through the vast gulf of dark which fell upon the west like a pestilential cloud.

The remnants of before, this detritus of Acheron’s height, allowed Ophir an advantaged position in the new world. They quickly became the height of the new kingdoms, though the people here lacked the ambition of their younger counterparts. Ophir may have had the gold, but it would be Aquilonia which would have the raw will to shape an empire. Even that mighty kingdom, though, would never rival Acheron. What was lost would not be regained.

Ophir is ruled by the mad king Moranthes II, who was manipulated by his corrupt cousin Rigello until the latter's death during a plot against Queen Marala.

Ophir was annexed by Aquilonia.

It was where the Pictish conquerors from the west clashed with the Hyrkanian invaders from the east. Ophir became parts of the Pictish empire.[1][2]

Population and culture[]

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A Kingdom of Unimaginable Wealth[]

With older roots comes a more measured national countenance. Ophir has not the fiery hate for the outland religions found elsewhere. They tolerate a vast mix of people, and foreigners are not looked on as a lesser species as they are in some of the grander markets of the world. The heights of classical construction — partly in the Acheronian style — still grace the cities of Ophir. Nowhere else does one find eastern philosophy so easily mixed with the more pragmatic notions of the west.

The kingdom is the richest in the west, possibly the world. The gold and precious gems pulled from the mines in the eastern mountains fuel an army who wears gilded armor. Even the merchant class is festooned with gold and diamonds. Only the poor lack these symbols of Ophir’s opulence. Ophir has grown fat, though, in the centuries of relative ease and pleasure the bulk of its population enjoyed. People both within and without say the culture is decadent, mimicking the same mistakes which eventually led to Acheron’s fall.

The wealthy live lives of leisure, and even lower classes can afford slaves. While the stout and stalwart Hyborian blood fills their veins, as a people, the Ophireans have lost some essential spark. They lack the elan vital of their neighbors. While its rulers debate how best to reverse this trend, the rest of the world eyes the gold which is said to litter the ground like pebbles in this meadow-rich land. If the civilization is sliding into degeneracy, it does so slowly. Ophir is still a potent military power and an economic rock.

Politics in Ophir[]

Ophir’s comfortable economy keeps rebellion to a minimum, unlike in Koth. This is not to say that the nobles get along readily, but the scheming is far subtler than the open war some kingdoms experience internally.

In the capital of Ianthe, the king rules with minor resistance. Edicts issued to lesser nobles are generally obeyed, if not with any great urgency or pleasure. Yet the city-states all keep their avaricious attentions on the gold and gem mines, for to control these is to control the nation. The continuing threat of foreign armies seizing those selfsame mines tends to keep such civil ambitions in check. No city-state, of its own, has a large enough army to take and hold the wealth to leverage for independence. However, there are such cities which do possess the gold to hire enough mercenaries to establish their own kingdom.

Yet mercenaries are not, by and large, a subtle lot. To see companies plodding over muddy roads by the score would invite suspicion if not direct action from the crown. Issues between feuding gentry and royals is more often handled by bribery. In extreme cases, assassins are employed. In either case, it is common practice to hire outlanders to facilitate either the payment or the more permanent disposal.

Ianthe itself is an interesting court. As the king is rather weak, it is really the queen who pulls the strings.

Mercenaries in Ophir[]

Ophir is awash in gold. So much so that their knights wear gilded armor — something normally only seen in ceremonial plate. They fight with fervor and loyalty. The standing army, too, is well paid and thus motivated. Ophir does not have one of the larger Hyborian armies, however. Their economy is such that fewer men than elsewhere turn to the sword to make their living, and conscription is only called for during emergencies. Otherwise, their standing army is built of professional soldiers, though small in number given the economic power the kingdom wields.

Mercenaries make up the deficit. Where there is gold and glittering gems, mercenaries naturally flock. Ianthe City, where the king resides, employs the bulk of these mercenaries and stations them along the border of Nemedia, where no natural barriers exist. Elsewhere, Ophir is bounded by mountains which make incursions rare. Every city also employs mercenaries, unless their own troops are numerous. In Ophir, a mercenary can easily find work.

That’s a double-sided coin, however, for Ophir only hires the best companies. A single defeat, if carried on the gossiping wind, can cause a company to fall out of favor with Ophir for years, if not decades. Their money allows them to pick and choose as they will. The duties of Ophirean service are taxing, but not as dangerous as other soldiering for hire. Ophir sees its share of war, but has not launched an expansionist campaign in some while. Overall, a mercenary could do far worse than a stint in the Ophirean army.

As noted, Queen Yrrane has arrangements with several prominent mercenary captains. Some few of these, after a night’s drinking, have spilled this secret to their men. Such information may well be worth more gold than a year’s wages to nobles throughout the kingdom.

Besides soldiering, various Ophirean personages employ mercenaries to deal with more private matters — kidnapping, murder, and the intimidation of rivals. Mercenaries are easily deniable, and cautious plotters pay them in raw gold or foreign coin.

A Culture Remaining in A Vanished Shadow[]

One cannot speak of Ophir without also, perhaps unwittingly, invoking Acheron. As one of the oldest Hyborian nations, and one with few ancestral enemies, Ophir mixes not only the classical influences of Acheron, but absorbed Nemedian, Kothic, and even Hyrkanian influences.

Ophirean Art[]

Acheron lives in the art of Ophir. Its winding columns and impossibly tall towers are well known throughout the western world. Serpentine motifs are recurrent, though they have eroded over the years to more symbolic, rather than representational, depictions. Pottery flows with intersecting squiggles, and porticos are held aloft by marble carved like coiled rope.

Frescoes and mosaics are also common, though they rarely depict the modern Sons of Ophir, but instead Ophir as artists imagine it in its golden age. There is, pervasively, a sense of loss represented in the craftsmanship of Ophir. The kingdom is old enough to remember independence before Acheron and the dark days which followed its fall. Such psychic undercurrents emerge from the unconscious of the people like icebergs from a Nordheimer sea.

Ophirean Culture[]

Though falling into decadence, there is no higher culture than that of Ophir among the Hyborian people. Nemedia has its scholars, Aquilonia its grand works and military, but Ophir is steeped in the old ways. Etiquette is a matter of routine and even the lowliest town dweller considers themselves a paragon of civilization. This is not to say that the rude and rough do not exist in Ophir, only that they are looked upon with derision. One must remember, Ophir shepherded an advanced civilization long before Hyborian blood came to dominate the continent. They remember these days in both written and oral history. All in all, other Hyborian kingdoms consider the Ophireans to be full of themselves... but no one says no to their gold.

Extended families tend to live in the same dwellings for multiple generations, and even peasants recount their lineage going back many decades, if not centuries. Pervading the culture is the idea that memory, blood, and objects of art connect Ophir to its glorious past. They even pride themselves, though less openly, on having been a part of the extended Acheronian Empire. Few Ophireans believe that Acheron was a fell kingdom. That, they say, is mere propaganda.

How wrong they are.

Ophirean Religion[]

Mitra is the chief deity of Ophir, and his temples in this kingdom are among the most splendid. Indeed, Ophireans take some pride in the very opulence of their temples to the god, with cities often competing to make the next, greatest monument to mighty Mitra.

In nearly every household, an altar to Mitra is central to the main living area, and folks give thanks before meals. However, there is a hollow quality to this seeming devotion, as if the Ophireans think associating with Mitra is more a matter of prestige than faith. The Ophirean church is, as one might expect, heaped with riches. The clergy speaks in a dead form of the Ophirean tongue, and writes in an even older one.

There are still many devout worshipers throughout the land. While the temples and priests are ringed in finery, there is a movement toward a more common, accessible form of Mitraism gaining popularity outside the cities and royal courts. This movement remains small but passionate. In time, they could cause the priests who live off the faith and gold of others genuine problems.

While some few other gods have temples in many cities and towns, the other notable religion of Ophir is one people do not talk about — supplication to the beings of the Outer Dark. Acheron was built upon the ferocious horror of the Great Old Ones and, though most of their temples and icons were smashed long ago by the Sons of Bori, that eldritch flame is not so easily put out.

Pockets of Acheronian refugees hung on in Ophir and rode out the great dark age with their religion intact. Inside the church of Mitra, a secret cult grows. They worship gods with names like Azathoth and Cthulhu while hiding behind the symbols of respectable religion.

In Khorala, where the Mitra priesthood is strongest, high bishops have begun to investigate this internal corruption. A force of loyal priests has pledged to root out all those who would make pacts with the Outer Dark. Because pure Acheronian blood still runs through the veins of secretive hill folk, the rural peasants, too, are not unfamiliar with these dark gods. Children may go missing in the night. Cattle and other livestock are found with their organs removed, and strange astronomical alignments bring tragedy. Most dismiss this as the superstition of simple villagers and farmers, but they are foolish to do so. In Ophir, the profane gods of the void still hold influence.

Stories set in Ophir[]

Characters from Ophir[]

  • Olivia- Daughter of the King of Ophir.
  • Livia- A noblewomen and scientist.

References[]

  1. Template:THA
  2. Template:THA
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