The Mordesh were once an elegant, blossoming civilization on the verge of joining the Dominion because of their great achievements in alchemy. However, when Victor Lazarin's Everlife Elixir turned into the raving infection known as the Contagion, the Dominion turned on the Mordesh and trapped them on their planet with a quarantine blockade. The survivors sought the aid of the rebel humans and, with their help, successfully smuggled many operatives and civilians out from Grismara. On Nexus they continue to serve as the eyes and ears of the Exiles, unleashing their dark and deadly arts upon the Dominion even as they scour Nexus for a cure to save their remaining brethren on Grismara.
Until the last century, the Mordesh of planet Grismara had a flourishing civilization whose refinements in alchemy made them the envy of the galaxy. Having attracted the attention of the Dominion and been invited to join, their ongoing success was all but inevitable.
In 1578 AE, Victor Lazarin, widely acknowledged as the greatest alchemist in Grismaran history, announced his creation of the Everlife Elixir - a substance he claimed granted immortality. The Mordesh were convinced of Lazarin's brilliance, and the elixir was distributed worldwide. Yet cries of rejoicing soon turned to moans of despair. The elixir eventually became unstable, leading to necromantic physical degeneration coupled with a mindless cannibalistic rage.
It is said that in the Contagion’s first outbreaks, the casualties mounted too swiftly to be measured. The only certainty was that a civilization of billions lay within a hairsbreadth of extinction after just a few weeks. The Dominion response was a brutal and uncompromising quarantine, while below the Mordesh suffered and perished. While almost falling into the Contagion's madness himself, Lazarin created a temporary therapeutic treatment known as the Vitalus Serum. Despite failing to cure the disease, the serum suppressed its psychological symptoms and saved the few remaining Mordesh survivors.
In desperation, the Mordesh turned to the Exiles, who smuggled them piecemeal through the Dominion blockade. Forced by dwindling numbers and their hunted status to become practitioners of artifice and deception, they formed a covert intelligence group, the Black Hoods, to wage campaigns of sabotage and assassination against their enemies. Seen by the Exiles as an unsavory but necessary evil, the Mordesh now ply their dark arts on Nexus in hopes of finding a cure and wreaking vengeance on the Dominion who deserted them.
Appearance & Physiology
Prior to the Contagion, uninfected Mordesh were a rather typical mammalian humanoid species. Minor differences between baseline humans and Mordesh included longer limbs, a cartilaginous skeleton, pointed "elf-like" ears, and little to no retention of body fat due to increased metabolic processes. These metabolic differences, in addition to more efficient digestive and respiratory systems, resulted in a much longer Mordesh lifespan as compared to that of baseline humans. A picture of Dr. Victor Lazarin before the Contagion shows him with light skin and black hair.
After the Fall and the ravages of the Contagion, Mordesh have a variety of sickly, pale, rotting skin, from blues, purples, greens, and even pinks. What little hair they have left is sparse, or replaced completely with mechanical decorations. Some Mordesh retain their original eyes, though most now have optic replacements; both take on the colour of their Vitalus serum.
One of the most striking features of the Mordesh are their mechanical body parts, usually filled with Vitalus serum or replacing a section that has completely rotted away. Though facial decorations may differ, a Mordesh will always have robotic parts at: their necks, shoulders forearms, the outside of their thighs, and the upper chest.
As a result of their rotting internals, all Mordesh speak with a gravely voice filtered through a voice modulator.
Physiological Effects of the Everlife Elixir/Contagion
With the addition of the Everlife Elixir, Mordesh physiology was drastically altered. Regeneration of cellular damage and decrepitude resulting from age was initially reversed. While these results were quite dramatic, slight changes continued to be observed for weeks or months after the elixir had been administered.
Despite the initial benefits, the ultimate effect of the Everlife Elixir was the creation of a highly-infectious communicable disease within subjects. The disease induces an agonizing near-death state in the rest of the subject's body. As a result, the majority of the victim's biological functions are halted or suppressed and higher brain functions rapidly deteriorate. For all intents and purposes, Mordesh afflicted with the Contagion are no longer strictly alive.
The Vitalus Serum, when applied to individuals in the initial throes of the Contagion, halts the progress of the disease. Though the body still enters a near-death state, higher brain functions—and therefore, sanity—are preserved. As long as continuous applications of Vitalus are applied, infected Mordesh remain free of the Contagion's more insidious effects.
Unless the Contagion can be cured and its effects reversed, the Mordesh are a dead race. Given their physiological inactivity, they are unable to reproduce. While their senses of taste and touch have dulled, the Mordesh senses of smell, sight, and hearing have sharpened somewhat.
Aging and Development
Prior to the effects of the Contagion, the average Mordesh lifespan was in the range of 130 to 140 years. The near-death state of the Contagion's victims causes them to age at a nigh-undetectable rate. For this reason, Mordesh are, for all intents and purposes, immortal.
Interestingly, the Contagion did not stop the natural development of a child. After an infected Mordesh reaches adulthood, all development stops, so a 5 year old during the Fall of Grismara will have the body and mind of an adult today. Similarly, any Mordesh in the later stages of life will have reverted to the age and physical appearance of a young adult, somewhere in the mid-twenties.
In spite of their immortality, Mordesh still need food and drink to operate properly. Though they are robbed of the pleasures of taste, they still feel the gnawing pangs of hunger. Like almost every WildStar race, they are omnivorous.
Cursed with a degenerative disease after delving into the forbidden secrets of alchemy, the Mordesh have come to Nexus to find a cure. Being a space zombie can be complicated. Unleashing dark and deadly disciplines on the Dominion? Much simpler.
In spite of 80 or so years of living on the Exile fleet, the destruction of their entire civilization, and the ravages of the Contagion, Mordesh remain sophisticated and elegant. Their quiet, reserved demeanor are at a stark contrast to their chipper, active, and energetic allies. For example, a human wave is vigorously waving their entire arm high above their shoulder, a Mordesh wave would be slightly raising the hand just above the elbow and waving with just the fingers.
The tragedy that has befallen them has adversely affected their outlook on life, however. Rarely will you meet a Mordesh who is not dark, dour, and depressed. Despite these behavioral tendencies, the Mordesh value the tolerance and friendship of their Exile allies, and will vehemently defend them against their Dominion enemies.
In a calm state, Mordesh vocal texture is smooth, smoky, and almost haunted. When emotional, their voices become raspy whispers rather than shouts or roars. They can make the most mundane words sound darkly poetic and lyrical, filled with stylish and creepy death metaphors. Another unique trait of their speech is that it is almost always alliterative. There's a lovely lyrical lilt when a Mordesh speaks.
Desperate to find a cure for the Contagion that has ravaged their homeworld, the Mordesh have come to Nexus to seek aid wherever they can find it. If a cure cannot be found—whether among their allies in the Exiles, or within the ancient ruins of the legendary Eldan civilization—the Mordesh fear their civilization will be lost forever.
Mordesh first and last names derive from the ancient Mordesh language of Mordescu (which has a distinctly Russian/Eastern European flavor). Such names are largely traditional in nature, and consist of both first and family names. Family names are important in Mordesh culture, as they are representative of breeding or notoriety.
- Examples: Victor Lazarin, Nurov Vedescu, Irina Angaroff, Olga Vososh, Avra Darkos
Modern Mordesh music is generally emotional, stylistically diverse, and very popular with students of all species. Pre-Contagion music is largely instrumental or operatic, played on acoustic instruments that filled the vast concert halls and amphitheaters of Grismara with epic stories and sweeping chorales. Once their society collapsed, the surviving Mordesh favored sad, mournful ballads for small audiences. Since arriving on Nexus, many Mordesh have begun to experiment with new electronic and primal musical forms inspired by their new homes such as the Alchemical Romantic movement, Classic Lazarock, and the Resurrection Blues.
The Mordesh do not engage in heavy industry of any kind. Instead, they use their knowledge of alchemy and science to create powerful potions and elixirs.
Even before the spread of the Contagion, Mordesh society was secular, embracing scientific rather than spiritual truths. Their recent condition has only made them more skeptical of the belief of a higher power.
This is not to say the Mordesh have never been a species to cling to faith—far from it. Many original Mordesh beliefs, rituals, and superstitions have continued to be observed in their society, albeit in different forms. Though largely secular, the Mordesh have been indelibly shaped by the faith of their ancestors.
The original Mordesh religion focused on a being simply known as Kemos. According to ancient Mordesh myth, Kemos created the Mordesh people from the primal elements and infused them with life. Adherents of Kemos, in turn, strove to emulate their deity's control of the elements. These priests learned to use the elements, both individually and in concert, in an attempt to overcome the frailties of their species and the limitations of mortality. The primal elements—Pyros, Aquia, Terra, Aether, Vitus, and Logos—served as singular representations of Kemos, similar in many ways to the manner in which the Scions are represented in the Dominion's Vigilant Church.
Over time, priests of Kemos came to be known as alchemists, and the priesthood became the Alchemist Society. In fact, the name for alchemy in the Mordesh tongue is kemosiva, or "the secrets of Kemos". Though some of the religious trappings, especially rituals and rotes, remain, the Mordesh have forsaken their ancient religious beliefs and have instead focused on using the elements to overcome their bodily limitations.
With the discovery of Nexus and the Eldan, some Mordesh scholars have begun to question the precise origin of the Kemos myth. A few, albeit radical, intellectuals have theorized that Kemos was one of the Eldan, perhaps even one of the Progenitors. Such speculations have been rejected outright by the Alchemist Society, but this has only fostered a number of conspiracy theories within the lunatic fringe of Mordesh society.
Mordesh communities are known as enclaves. Enclaves are generally makeshift settlements located within or on the outskirts of larger Exile communities.
Each enclave is led by a speaker—an influential individual who speaks for the enclave. These enclaves may be home to alchemists who continue the Mordesh's most important work, reapers charged with mercy-killing infected Mordesh, and Black Hoods—agents who run Exile intelligence operations.
The Contagion is essentially every single disease on Grismara, mutated and now made immortal by the Everlife Elixir. Its primary effect is causing the rapid decay of the victim's body, which leads to the deterioration of the mind that causes it to revert to the most primal of states: eat and kill.
Mordesh who have fully succumbed to the Contagion are called Ravenous, so called for their unceasing hunger for flesh and violence. A Ravenous is beyond saving; they will attack and destroy anything within their sights, and must be put down, then burned or exposed to the acidic Mortalus to destroy the remnants of Contagion.
A large population turning Ravenous en-masse has an adverse effect on the immediate environment. With no Vitalus to slow the decay, the air frequently becomes thick with the smell of death and decay, becoming poisonous and lethal to those without a working hazmat suit and fresh air filters.
One of the most important resources to the Exiles, Vitalus serum temporarily suspends the effects of the Contagion, allowing the Mordesh a limited period of sanity and clear thought. It is very difficult and expensive to make, especially because of one of its most important ingredients, pure Primal Life.
Mordesh oftentimes change and refill their Vitalus as part of their daily routine. Should they run out, they have about 10-20 minutes before they turn Ravenous.
The Alchemist Guild has the hardware and expertise to refill a Mordesh's Vitalus. The procedure involves emptying the tanks and replacing the liquid. The old liquid is then disposed of, usually burned.
Reapers are charged with hunting down and euthanizing Ravenous Mordesh. In addition to destroying Ravenous, Reapers are also responsible for disposing of their bodies, typically by burning them. Theirs is a grim task that tests the heart and sanity of even the most hardened Mordesh. Few Reapers are left unscathed by the work they perform, and many are taciturn and gloomy (even when compared to other Mordesh).
In addition to combating the Ravenous, Reapers are also responsible for putting individual Mordesh out of their misery before they can become a threat. Such activities are rare so long as there is plenty of Vitalus, but when supplies become scarce the Reapers make preparations for the inevitable culling. As such, Reapers are both respected and feared by the Mordesh people.
After seeing so many Mordesh lives snuffed out due to the Contagion, most Reapers are ready and willing to accept their own demise at a moment’s notice. Stories of Reapers sacrificing themselves for the greater good are all too common. Such Reapers are honored in a thick book known as the Lexicon of the Lost, where the details of their deaths are recorded for all time.
Reapers are organized into squads of various sizes, but which typically consist of between 4 and 10 members. Each squad is commanded by a Grim Reaper – a Mordesh with extensive experience in the field and who has survived multiple outbreaks. Fell Reapers, of which there are typically two or three per squad depending on size, act as non-commissioned officers. The other members of a squad are referred to simply as Reapers.
The most experienced Reapers aspire to the rank of Harrower. Harrowers, who oversee the operations of several squads, are only called in during the most dangerous outbreaks of the Contagion. A collection of two or more squads under the command of a Harrower is referred to collectively as a “Shroud.” In other Reaper parlance, any operation against hostile Ravenous is referred to as a “Harvest,” which is further identified by a code name (for example, “Blue Harvest”). Likewise, an operation where Mordesh who have not yet become Ravenous are euthanized is referred to as a "Culling," no matter the size.
See also our article Character Creation.
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- Loremageddon, as preserved on the Internet Archive
- Loremageddon FAQ, as preserved on the Internet Archive