Mission Statement and Overview
What is Uruk? It's low-fantasy sim set in the world of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories.
Uruk is a walled city-state in the country of Shem, a sort of crossroads in the southwest of Hyboria. It is a city driven by peculiar motivations. It's a city of blood, gold, religion, debauchery, and labyrinthine politics. Its centerpiece is its arena, where all of these motivations intersect and come to climax. Men and women, trained combatants from backgrounds as diverse as the Thurian continent, compete upon its sands for coin and renown. Wealthy aristocrats of ancient houses often sponsor the combatants, hoping to slight rivals through a victory over their chosen champions, while the rest of the city watches on with rapt attention at the spectacle of blood-sport and engages in frenzied gambling over each bout. It is a city of diverse faiths. Mitra, Ishtar, Bel, Set, Asura, and many others besides are all worshiped by varying degrees of the population. Rites to Ishtar, an ancient fertility goddess, are most often observed. Slaves are sacrificed on her stone altars in times of crisis, and her priestesses exchange carnal services in exchange for donations to their Great Mother. Vast amounts of coin change hands, giving various priesthoods enormous political influence that rivals (and often surmounts) that of the ancient nobility of Shem. Even the most close-fisted thief does not withhold tithes from his chosen god during the most mean of times out of fear of divine retribution.
Shem, and indeed all of Hyboria, is a place of immense superstition. Magic, though rarely seen on the streets of populated cities, is accepted as a reality in its landscape. Ancient, esoteric, confined to remote areas and spoken of only in whispers, yes -- but acknowledged by most traditions as a very real thing. Forgotten races skulk through empty and forlorn places, monsters lurk in the darkness, and endless mystery permeates its vast and diverse landscape. Slavery is an institution in almost every kingdom, major or otherwise, throughout Hyboria but particularly in its southern and eastern regions. Uruk, due both to its cultural identity and prime location as a gateway to the greater south, is a hotbed of the slave trade. Men charged with serious crimes within its walls are often enslaved provisionally and turned over to the training houses to fight in the arena until their fines or debts are paid. But most men who labor on its blood-soaked sands are free men, akin to modern professional athletes, risking life and limb for the sake of wealth and fame. It comes in great measure on both accounts to those who are successful. They are treasured by the training houses that manage them, fawned over by their patrons, and hounded by thousands of fans. Others are forgotten, set aside, and forced to compete in minor games in less exceptional venues. Many die in darkness with only their broken dreams as final company.