A harsh climate and rigid caste structure clearly shape the way the skorne see the world, but there is another aspect of their culture that sets this people apart: the singular magical tradition of mortitheurgy.
In a society that reveres martial skill and physical sacrifice, the skorne live, fight, and die amid unrelenting brutality. Skorne warriors are known to fight on despite mortal wounds, ignoring pain that should bring them to their knees if not incapacitate them outright. Slaves of the empire work far longer and harder than their bodies should allow, warbeasts shrug off deadly blows, and enemies fall to seemingly inconsequential injuries. All of this is possible through the skorne’s unique form of magic.
Every skorne possesses the capability of using magic, but only those who dedicate their life to it can rise to places of true power. Unlike other Iron Kingdoms Unleashed characters, it is not only those skorne with the Gifted archetype who can wield magic and cast spells—others can walk a long road of study into the philosophies of mortitheurgy to unlock its powers.
Mortitheurges tap into arcane forces to reduce slaves’ pain and extend their lives so that tasks may be completed before death takes them. Captured warriors experience the full range of mortitheurgy as their spirits are broken and they are taught their new role in skorne society. A warlock incites agony to drive his warbeast to frenzy, at the same time blocking the effects of wounds that would otherwise kill the beast. Skorne warbeasts are unlike almost any others in Immoren.
Farrow and trollkin share a physical link with their warbeasts that enables them to bond and dominate. Others groups either carefully cultivate warbeasts from the natural world or mentally subjugate them through sheer willpower. But the skorne craft their warbeasts by manipulating flesh and inflicting pain. Anatomical modification and anguishing torment are the tools used to force open a conduit through which a warlock can exert his control over these living weapons.
Next week, we explore the kinds of creatures the skorne can command and transform.