Author Topic: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna  (Read 533 times)

Offline Skyrock

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Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« on: April 13, 2019, 09:59:28 AM »
Chancel
The scent of incense hangs heavy in the air of Chancel, a city that is at once a den of immoral decadence and religious fanaticism. Chancel is under the theocratic rule of Hierophant Lazarus and the Church of Saintly Blood. Periodic outbreaks of strange, miasmatic diseases that transform citizens into ravening beasts afflict the city.

Look & Feel:
  • Towering churches and cathedrals that dwarf the city's other buildings.
  • Clusters of statues of saints cropping up like marble gardens.
  • Afflicted beggars dressed in rags calling for alms as gilded carriages roll past.
  • A crackling pyre built to burn an accused witch alive.
  • Weathered gargoyles and grotesques perched atop roofs and arches.
  • Solemn religious processions: monks, golden icons, flagellants, choirs of children robed in white or black.
Themes:
  • Corruption within the Church.
  • The chaos of indulgence versus the strict and stultifying laws of religion.
  • The beastly savagery that festers in the hearts of ordinary men and women.
Noteworthy Personages of Chancel
  • Hierophant Lazarus governs Chancel and is the current head of the Church of Saintly Blood.
  • Cardinalesse Artemisia, the Church’s cunning spymaster, would kill to keep her faith’s secrets. Her network of informants is vast.
  • Almeric Dalloway is the captain of the Sacretta Carnifexa, the inquisition of the Church.
  • Isoline Josefson is a young plague doctor who runs the Andronicus Asylum in Chancel where the afflicted often find solace.
  • Brooding twin sisters of pale aspect, Pandora and Morrigan Rue dress in the manner of Lamashtuan noblewomen. They own identical clock towers in Chancel and Piskaro, and often hire adventurers for inscrutable ends.
NPCs

Friendlies

Father Szandor
Old eremite residing in the Tiefling cave, nearby to Teufelsgrossmutter peak. Had conducted the private marriage ceremony between Baron Szepreszyl and Zilla Gravesend.

Fuyuko
Yuki's Snow Wife.
(click to show/hide)

Nadja Ovlova
Bridesmaid in the private marriage ceremony between Baron Szepreszyl and Zilla Gravesend. Died 14 years ago, having fallen down the dry well shaft in Chandler Street nearby to St. Nephemias' cemetery in Cathedral Ward.

Tanya Gravesend
Daughter of Zilla Gravesend and a baron. Had been seperated from her mother and enrolled into nun training by an unknown benefactor.
(click to show/hide)

Zilla Gravesend
Aggrieved woman who has entreated the Winter Lord to seek justice against the nobleman who left her back with a child. Dwells in Old Chancel, Scarlet Women Lane 37. Works as a burlesque dancer at The Naughty Nymph and is deeply in debt with the Red Guard.

Foes

Baron Csanad Hieronymus Friedrich von Szepreszyl
Main villain and Tanya's father, who denies being her father and works on erasing all traces that could lead to the truth.

Ottmar the Brute
Thug from Old Chancel. Robbed the golden seal ring of House Szepreszyl from Zilla Gravesend 17 years ago.

Greater Supernatural Beings

Belzat, The Bringer of Madness
  • Demon Prince
  • Inspires mortals to drive others into the arms of insanity and nihilism.
  • A many-headed monstrosity that screams and whispers from its many mouths.
King Tserberon, The Lord of the Winter Court
  • Archfey
  • Emboldens mortals to join the Wild Hunt against those who have offended the fey.
  • A savage huntsman with antlers, dressed in furs.

« Last Edit: October 26, 2019, 05:30:07 PM by Skyrock »

Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2019, 09:59:41 AM »
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Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2019, 09:59:53 AM »
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Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2019, 10:04:10 AM »
Map of Krevborna (800kb, 1600x960)

The People

Civilized Krevbornites
Krevbornites are a people of mixed ethnic origins who share a common culture of folk tales and superstitions. Krevbornites tend to face the horrors of their land stoically, for they know the nights are long and that terrors lurk in every shadow. Civilized folk dress in fashions we might recognize from our Gothic, cinematic imaginings of early modern garb and Victoriana, such as tricorne hats, ornate gowns, waistcoats, hooded cloaks, and buckle-festooned boots. Because Krevborna is a dangerous place, it is not unusual for citizens to arm themselves.

Barbarians and Clanfolk
Although most Krevbornites live in hamlets, villages, towns, and cities, some remain uncivilized; pockets of barbarians, outlaws, and tribal folk persist in the most forsaken mountains, swamps, and woods. The uncivilized dress in hides, furs, and scavenged clothing; some tribes paint their faces and bodies with woad.

The Accursed
Not all Krevbornite bloodlines are pure. Some evidence angelic, fiendish, or otherwise inhuman ancestry, and some familial lineages have become monstrous and accursed through inherited sin, fell magic, lycanthropy, or the taint of the undead. Although the cause of defiled bloodlines varies, the folk who bear the marks of supernatural lineage are referred to as greshnik.

The Fey
Though rare, descendants of the fey live alongside mankind. Most have assimilated into Krevbornite culture, but some progeny of the fey still cling to the ways of the Fair Folk. Those who bear the marks of fey ancestry - such as pointed ears, ethereal beauty, crooked bodies, or unnaturally red hair - are known as pomenysh.

The Corrupted
Sin shows itself on the face. A marred countenance bespeaks horrid deeds and thoughts, the exterior betrays the interior. Some sinners are so consumed by their misdeeds that their bodies begin to evidence the foulness of their souls. These people become monstrous, twisted, and physically perverse, generally called caliban.

Important Languages

Krevbornski is the common tongue spoken throughout the land.
Old Church Krevbornski is often used by the Church in its ceremonies and holy books.
Siyabidian is the language of the Caliphate of the same name, and common among traveling merchants and sailors as well as elemental beings like eefreeti.
Eisensprech was the official language of the old empire derived from the dwarves and dvergar, and is still common among nobility and scholars of old records.
Patterna is the tongue of the gypsie tribes of the Xitano, which also covers their sign language and written tramp signs.
Books of black magic and devilry are often written in Infernal, Abyssal, Draconic or encoded in the Karylus runes of the Great Old Ones.
The Lilituan language continues to be studied by historians and scholars, as well as grave robbers, elder vampires and vampire lords.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 01:58:11 PM by Skyrock »

Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2019, 10:10:41 AM »
Major Towns and Cities

Chancel
The scent of incense hangs heavy in the air of Chancel, a city that is at once a den of immoral decadence and religious fanaticism. Chancel is under the theocratic rule of Brother Lazarus and the Church of Saintly Blood. Periodic outbreaks of strange, miasmatic diseases that transform citizens into ravening beasts afflict the city.

Creedhall
Creedhall is a melancholic town that is home to the renowned Creedhall University. Under the deanship of Padric Wolfstan, the university has amassed a vast library of obscure and forbidden tomes.
Martinus di Rosalba is a wealthy dandy and collector of curiosities, and probably the best place in the entire land to sell or find magical items.

Hemlock
Avoided by pious folk, the mining town of Hemlock has abandoned the Church of Saintly Blood to follow vile pagan ways. Hemlock's most powerful family, the Graymalk clan, are rumored to practice the darkest arts of witchcraft and to have made unholy pacts.  Pagan altars, wicker effigies and ribald maypole ceremonies everywhere.

Lamashtu
Ruled by the vampire Countess Alcesta von Karlok, Lamashtu is a cold northern realm where the populace must pay their undead sovereign a tithe in blood. Despite the obvious horrors of this kingdom, the court of Castle Lamashtu attracts artists, writers, and musicians who find undeath to be aesthetically inspiring.

Piskaro
Piskaro is a city built atop canals at the mouth of the River Krev, a center of thriving maritime trade, and a haven for pirates. Although it is nominally governed by the pious Reverend Solanka, grave heresies have taken root in Piskaro. A series of brutal murders has troubled the city in recent years; it is believed that these murders have occult significance.

Other Sites of Major Interest

The Grail Tombs
Ancient catacombs deep within the earth, the Grail Tombs are the remains of the Lilitu, an ancient civilization. It is speculated that it were terrible bargains with fiends by their sorcerer-patricians and warlock-kyrioi that have brought down the curse of vampireism on mankind.

The Nachtmahr Mountains
It is rumored that the Malcovat, a scholomantic school of black magic and devilry, is hidden within the Nachtmahr Mountains. The chthonic beings Mother Wolf, Father Spider, and the World Serpents prowl the mountains in search of converts and prey.

The Silent Forest
Fog-shrouded burial grounds within the vast and disorienting Silent Forest are haunted by shades and serpentine monstrosities.

Veil
Although it was set ablaze to purge it of evil, the forbidden town of Veil is still home to the desperate and depraved. Those too impoverished or too wicked to go anywhere else prowl the sooty ruins.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 06:08:17 PM by Skyrock »

Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2019, 10:14:35 AM »
Miscellanea

The Church of Saintly Blood
The One God was once reverenced throughout Krevborna, but in ages past withdrew his influence from the world. Some say that God abandoned mankind to its dark fate due to unforgivable sins. Others believe that God retreated after he was betrayed by the rebellious angels who became demons and devils. Some even claim that God was killed and consumed by eldritch cosmic forces.

Although the apparent absence of deities is felt keenly, divinity still maintains a foothold in Krevborna through the legacy of the Church's saints. Saints are venerated in place of The One God. Those of holy blood transmit their sanctity down through the generations; men and women who evidence a touch of the divine spark are regarded as heirs to the saints and their blood is viewed as sacred. The rites of absolution and healing practiced by the Church of Saintly Blood involve imbibing the blood of these saints—often mixed with the mundane blood offerings of the faithful—or blood baptisms given in ancient fonts. The most common holy symbol associated with the Church is a humanoid with stigmata stretching their arms horizontally, often stylized into a cross.

Common (and contradicting) tenets and beliefs of the Church

Some sample saints

Heathens and Xitanos
Some folk have turned to the worship of fey spirits, demons, devils, and other powerful entities in place of revering the saintly blood. The Church regards these people as heathens and pagans to be converted or exterminated. Also distrusted are the Xitanos, vagabonds without a homeland who are adept at telling fortunes with tarot cards. Xitanos either dress in colorful, exotic garb or the drab vestments of penitents, and travel by wagon or riverboat.

Fiends
For most Krevbornites the words “demon” and “devil” are interchangeable, but these beings represent distinct forms of supernatural evil. The angels who rebelled against the gods were cleaved in twain by the loyal archangels; the spirits of the fallen angels became devils and their bodies became demons. As such, devils and demons crave wholeness but are doomed to opposition against each other—thus does evil forever war against itself. True to their nature, devils tempt mortals to commit spiritual transgressions, and their agents are wraiths and specters. Demons tempt mortals to commit bodily sins, and their agents are physical monstrosities such as vampires, ghouls, and werewolves.

Angels
The angels were created by The One God to do his bidding - for both good and ill - and provide spiritual guidance for the saints now venerated by the Church. Though rare, angels have been known to offer assistance and a measure of divine power to those who fight valiantly in the name of good. Each angel belongs to a Choir devoted to a specific task, and each Choir is led by an archangel:
  • The angels of the Silver Choir, led by archangel Signy, are smiths who forge divine weapons.
  • The angels of the Sepulchral Choir, led by archangel Freyahilde, shepherd lost, righteous souls to the Holy Mountain.
  • The angels of the Iron Choir, led by archangel Guinevere, are heavenly soldiers who hunt fiends.
  • The angels of the Radiant Choir, led by archangel Eva, are sworn to protect hallowed places and sacred remains.
Magic
Krevbornites react to magic depending on its apparent provenance. Magic that is connected to the Church's teachings or seems saintly in origin would likely be regarded with awe and reverence.
Magic that appears to originate in esoteric study and occult lore will probably arouse suspicion.
Magic that carries a whiff of the infernal would certainly cause panic and revulsion, and might possibly result in an angry mob forming or the intercession of the Church's witchfinders.
In more rural areas, pagan folk magic often exists uncomfortably side by side with belief in the Church's saints. In Lamashtu, the vampire lords attach no stigma to the use of any form of magic. In Hemlock, witchery and devilry is unusual, but also unsurprising.

Some sample warlock patrons

Dragons
Dragons in Krevborna are also known as the Beasts of the First Sin. Ancient texts record that mankind's first transgressions against the commandments of The One God coalesced into the form of a dragon that punished human frailty. Great sins, whether personal or communal, continue to give birth to dragons or transform people into dragonborn. It is debated whether dragons exist as a scourge that punishes mankind for its moral outrages or are simply the unintended consequences of humanity's flawed and immoral nature.

According to the most popular interpretation by St. Ophelia, the Spear of Faith invoked to root out corruption, dragons map as following to sins (although as with all teachings of the Church, there are plenty of different apocryphal and heterodox texts and theories coming to different conclusions):
  • Black: Wrath
  • Blue: Pride
  • Brass: Neglect
  • Bronze: Vainglory
  • Copper: Sloth
  • Gold: Hypocrisy
  • Green: Envy
  • Red: Greed
  • Silver: Lust
  • White: Gluttony
Mater Monstrum
Legends foretell the coming of a woman who will be known as the Mater Monstrum. Unless thwarted, she will become the bride of a fiend and birth a horde of unthinkable monstrosities that will usher in a lasting reign of darkness. With the fulfillment of the fate of the Mater Monstrum, the sun will turn sickly pale, and its rays will no longer harm creatures of darkness.

Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2019, 10:17:37 AM »
Secret Societies, Factions and Not-So-Secret Societies

The Choristers
The elite upper echelon of the Church of Saintly Blood. They believe that the gods are dead or distant, and that the human condition can be transcended through the consumption of the sanctified blood of saints. Their stronghold is the Orpheum Cathedral in Chancel.

The Incendiary Guild
An order of wild and romantic inventors who share the goal of pushing science beyond the boundaries of rational thought, and freeing mankind from both monsters and the shackles of religious superstition through SCIENCE! and reason.

The Heralds of the Weald
A conclave of druidic cultists who worship the primal spirits of Lamashtu's deep forests and perilous mountains; they believe that only the natural world can purge the corruption of undeath from the land.

The House of Draghul
A family of Lamashtuan nobles whose bloodline stretches back to a royal line of ancient Lilitu. The heads of the family are vampires; the lesser members of the family often aspire to undeath. They view the curse of vampiresim as a sign of nobility, and sek to bring the rest of the world under vampiric rule.

The Knights of Lilitu
Sworn to the service of Countess Alcesta, the Knights of Lilitu scour the world to defend the interests of the vampire aristocracy abroad and to find the one who will help the Countess conceive her deathless child.

The Labyrinth Dredgers
Delvers employed by the Church, the Labyrinth Dredgers search for lost knowledge within the hypogean Grail Tombs and other subterranean places of interest.

The La Scarla Family
The La Scarla family have holy blood within their veins; the angelic guides that visit members of the family in their dreams demand that they take up arms against the forces of supernatural evil. The La Scarla possess secret techniques for combating monsters that have been passed down their family line.

The League of Rat-Catchers
The League of Rat-Catchers believes that to fight beasts one must become a beast; they consume vermin both mundane and unnatural to gain their power. Their leaders are Waldyr Mager, a constable in Chancel, and Duro Lovac, a former soldier.

The Lexikorum
A monastic order of ascetics who believe that contemplation of the holy name of The One God is the only path to spiritual redemption. Each monk of the Lexikorum is given portions of god’s sacred name; through contemplation, privation, and extreme bodily exercise, they seek to transform the divine meaning of their deity into miraculous physical action.
Consists of a weird mix of Monks and Truenamers, with the inner circle having shed their human coil to transform into Illumians.

The Promethean Spark
A cabal of body-snatching scholars who hope to discover the secret of giving life to inanimate matter and create new life, and overcome the need for The One God by bringing this divine flame under control of men.

The Sacretta Carnifexa
A group of templars, witchfinders and inquisitors associated with the Church of Saintly Blood. Their goal is the destruction of Lamashtu, the persecution of the undead, and the execution of Countess Alcesta.

The White Ravens
A loose guild of investigators, bounty hunters, and - some say - assassins. They seek to bring order and justice to the lawless lands of Krevborna, even if at a terrible price.

Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2019, 10:23:50 AM »
Beyond Krevborna

To the South and East:
Krevborna's nearest neighbor is the Siyabid Caliphate, which lies to the south-east across the Nocturnal Sea, with its capital Mithrapolis marking the gate to the Middle Sea and thus the rest of the world. Siyabid had historically a rocky relationship with Krevborna, with the militaristic One Prophet of the Siyabid declaring to be the only true saint of The One God, and a subsequent series of crusades and jyhads to bring down one nation or the other.
With the withdrawal of The One God, theocratic Siyabid took a blow to its very foundation. While the Book of The One Prophet is still the official state religion, old heathen cults like the dualistic Light & Darkness and mystery religions like that of The Bull-Slayer have increasingly crept through the cracks - and yet they are dwarved by the cult of The Four Elements and its genie lords.
About Caliph Suleyman himself it is rumored that he has one of the best well-stocked wine cellars in the known world (in direct violation of the edicts of The One Prophet on banning all alcohol), and that he pays more attention to his heretical Sha'ir Viziers than to his faithful Marabout Viziers.
Overall, the Siyabid are a descending nation stuck in the past missing out on technological advances like black powder and an upper class wasting away on black lotos hookahs and other degenerate pleasures, overtly relying on fickle genies to fix their problems.

South from Siyabid across the Middle Sea and nominally under its rule, there are the forsaken deserts of Mudraal. It is said that ancient wisdom is hidden away inside the pyramidical tombs of the Kings of Old Mudraal, and it is rumored to be the original homeland of the Xitano gypsies, but many regard the existence of Mudraal as a mere myth.

Far east from both Siyabid and Mudraal, across the Suïz Canal, there are the Jade Islands, a war-torn empire overrun by yokai and warlords, famed for its silks and the byzantine codes of honor of its people. Harsh laws used to heavily limit visitors to and fro, but with the downfall of its central dual authority of court government and tent government, there is increasing exchange.

To the North and West:
To the west are the Principalities of Kavograd and Ostenreich, and to the north that of Ulvborna. The Principalities of Kavograd are a patchwork of petty fiefdoms governed by merchant princes and hereditary nobles; the ships of Kavograd are renowned for the prodigious trade routes they pursue.
What is known about Ostenreich, lying far to the west, is more fable than fact; it was the seat of the last Kaiser Franz, and tales of knightly valor ascribed to the round table of Ostenreich's imperial cavaliers are common throughout Krevborna.
Ulvborna is a land of wolves and ruins, and the site of a horrendous, and unexplained, calamity. Kipchak and Tartaros horse nomads making forays into the blasted ruins are the only known human inhabitants.

Northwest of Krevborna lie the Iron Principalities, a cold and splintered northern realm of grim-faced survivors and home of the Iron Princes, the Prince-Electors of the old empire who have been unable to step up to electing a new Kaiser for generations now. The Iron Principalities have adopted the faith of the Church of Saintly Blood and are considered a bastion of the devout.

North of the Iron Principalities lies the frozen lands of Isenheim, a realm fallen to the scourge of duergars and their psychic trickery. Isenheim is famed for the quality of its swords and other armaments.

Beyond the Material Plane
The cosmology posited by the Church of Saintly Blood is a simple one. According to the Church, there are two other worlds besides the mortal realm: the faithful believe that those who die without atoning for their sins are dragged down into the cavernous, black-sunned Chthonic Pits by fiends and that the righteous ascend the Holy Mountain to live in paradisical splendor with the saints. This view of the cosmos is complicated by two things. For one, angelic messengers report that the gates of the saints' fastnesses upon the Holy Mountain are barred - no one, not even the angels themselves, can enter. For another, those learned in the ways of the occult know that there are rituals that allow access to other worlds. The mere existence of these reachable planes argues against the Church's view of the limits of spiritual existence.

Mediums open conduits to the ethereal Spirit World, a shadowy realm of trapped ghosts, imprisoned souls, and griefmad specters. Other mystics journey to the nightmarish Dreamlands via psychic rites or hallucinogenic substances. The Dreamlands are a phantasmagorical echo of Krevborna where untold knowledge is kept from the prying eyes of mortals. Travelers to the Spirit World and the Dreamlands report having met powerful presences known as the Vestiges on those planes. The Vestiges sometimes barter with spiritual travelers, promising power in return for strange service in the waking world.

Enchanted paintings act as entrances to the Anointed World - an uncanny, mountainous place of eternal winter said to be a safe refuge for some and a prison for others. The Anointed World serves as a haven for the descendants of a heretical sect of the Church of Saintly Blood who were cursed with crow-like forms in an era long past. Other sinners, their flesh warped into reptilian shapes reminiscent of dragons, are fixated on finding asylum within the Anointed World. No food need be eaten there; one does not grow hungry in the Anointed World.

Also unaccounted for in the Church's dogma is the presence of the fey, and their ability to slip from the wild primordial forests and mountains of their homeland, the arboreal Ardenwald, to Krevborna. Some say that travel to the Ardenwald is possible through gates found in fairy circles, rings of standing stones, and ancient burial mounds. It is also said that time passes strangely within the Ardenwald, and that a day within the twilight land of the fey can be equal to years spent in the mortal realm.

Cultists of the Great Old Ones paint a far darker picture of the possibility of other planes. They claim that the domains of their fell masters are beyond mortal understandings of time or place. The Abhorred Cosmos of the Great Old Ones touches the earthly world, and is separated from Krevborna by veil-thin barriers deep within the earth and high above in the darkness between the stars.

Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2019, 05:59:16 PM »
Added stuff in the first two posts.

Offline Skyrock

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Re: Campaign Fluff for Krevborna
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2019, 12:07:25 PM »
Updated NPCs. Quite a few new names here.