Despite the fearsome climate — dry and arid, rimmed with foreboding mountains and cliffs — the kingdom of Zamora is moderately populated. Most of the people dwell in or around two major cities: Zamora the Accursed and Shadizar the Wicked. A third city, Yezud, is much smaller in comparison but steeped in mystery and rumor.
Between these cities are many small villages and farms that serve as rest stops for the travelers, pilgrims, and merchants that crisscross Zamora on their way to better fortunes and nicer climes in the west, or stop on their way before plunging further east, and Shadizar the Wicked serves as a gateway to those distant lands.
Zamorans are a short, dark-skinned race with dark eyes, jet-black hair, and narrow features, descendants of a folk called the Zhemri. Over centuries, they have earned a reputation for cruelty, disloyalty, and greed, and do not seem overly concerned that this is how their neighbors view them. Zamoran attitudes reflect self-interest rather than the (conveniently ignored) ideals of the Mitra-worshipping Hyborians. The people are insular, although the increased trade along the Road of Kings has done much to increase Zamoran contact with the Hyborians and Turanians.
The kingdom itself is named after the accursed city, so infamous are its colorful residents. Zamora is an ancient city, once a shining example of civilization and piety for the kingdom. But that was ages ago, and now many of the massive temples that once were the hallmark of the city have been torn down or repurposed. All the gilt has long since been scraped off the tall, fluted columns by thieves’ knives, and all the precious stones pried out of their settings around the high-domed roofs by eager and desperate hands. Anything that can be bought or sold is done so in Zamora’s streets, markets, and back-alleys, and its cosmopolitan veneer overlays a deep depravity of which the entire country suffers.