Shattered Swords of Hyboria
“Human foes he did not fear, nor any death by steel or fire. But this was a black land of sorcery and nameless horror. Set the Old Serpent, men said, banished long ago from the Hyborian races, yet lurked in the shadows of the cryptic temples, and awful and mysterious were the deeds done in the nighted shrines.”
— Robert E. Howard: “The Hour of the Dragon”
A southern kingdom bounded by the Western Ocean on the west, the River Styx on the north and east, the kingdoms of Kush, Darfar, and Keshan on the South. There are forests, marshes, and numerous islands along the western coast; but inland the land seems mostly to be a featureless desert, dotted with tombs and sinister ruins. In the south-central grasslands are the ghost-haunted Swamps of the Purple Lotus. The jungle rainforest begin near the frontier with Darfar and Keshan. There are more grasslands and a portion of the Southern Desert at the frontier with Kush. Cultivated lands lay along the great river.
The Stygians are a mysterious people, the ruling elite tall, dusky, hawk-nosed, and haughty while the lower classes were a mixture of Negroid, Stygian, Shemite, and Hyborian stock. Stygia is a decadent nation and its total population is small. Certainly, arable land is in short supply, apparently being found only along the Styx.
The economy nomadic herding, fishing, manufacturing of jewelry such as amulets and talismans, and the production of drugs. Stygia has a distinct superfluity of sorcerers. It trafficks as far as Khitai to obtain magical nostrums. Caravan routes criss-cross the country, bringing goods into the Black Kingdoms and raw materials and slaves out of them. Stygian silk industry is well known.
Stygia is a theocracy controlled by the priests of Set, the Serpent-God. The administrative capital and seat of the king is Luxur, lying inland and south of the Styx on an important caravan route. The greatest port and religious center is Khemi, on the estuary of the Styx. Sukhmet and Kheshatta are apparently caravan cities that services traders from the black nations. From the coast, it is possible to take a caravan trail all the way to Sukhmet and presumably beyond.
After the Cataclysm, the land of Stygia was invaded by a large body of Lemurian survivors, originally from the Far East. They destroyed a pre-human race of serpent-folk to establish what was probably the first of the post-Cataclysmic kingdoms of the West — Old Stygia. A remnant of the serpent-race survived in the Far South and in a few other places. The serpent-worship characterizing the religion of the nation has its basis in the veneration of the vanished snake-beings.
At its greatest extent, the Old Stygian Empire embraced the lands of Shem, western Koth, Ophir, and Corinthia, as well as part of the Eastern Desert. Acheron may have taken over the northern satellites just prior to the Hyborian invasions. Stygians were driven out of Shem by Hyborian-Kothic invaders.
During current times the nation represents an undefined menace of ancient sorcery.