Three bad winters in a row this one looks no different
Don’t overdo these things or you’re likely to get laughs instead of tension. Start slowly and build up gradually.
Ease the tension back now and then
Play with the PCs’ sanity - are they seeing things? Are they going mad? Is something changing them?
The unknown is scary. in a horror game, the more a player understands what’s happening to his character and WHY it’s happening the less frightened he’ll be.
Give glimpses of your monsters rather than revealing them wholesale.
Remember that some monsters are intelligent. A monster that schemes can be terrifying indeed, particularly if he doesn’t think in a human manner.
Put the emphasis on the results of the monsters’ handiwork, rather than on the monsters themselves.
Remember atmosphere. Don’t present your monsters with minimal detail in a sunny and non-frightening setting. Use your details to make them scary.
Don’t give your players too much information about your monsters, and particularly not all at once.
use real world lighting music to do atmosphere
Russia, baba yaga, cold, pagen, huge, wilderness, poor
Full arc is Baba Yaga defeats Lord of the Lake.
Events: 10-20 yrs prior DemonTurks invade lots of TrueGod land overtake several vassals/provencies in SW Novaka. Stopped by mysterios Lord of Lake
Danska along with Latland declare independence attack Freisen (port city of Novaka Several north dukedoms quit paying taxes/sending troops (but don’t outright revolt)
Map: west of The Lake is the great flat east is the old kingdom east the Ice teeth mountains east is wilder land Norvosk on the Luga is the largest city in wilder lands east more wilderness and ocean out there are druids and vikings south is german rex holdings north is snow waste and orcs
|Economy / Trade|
Techs: -Silver is relativly plentifull (imported) -Gold is rare -plat bronze brass are unheard of -iron is not plentifull but not rare either
The basic unit of money was the silver grivna, a silver ingot weighing roughly a pound.
Foriegn coins: In areas close to a source (silver dirhams in SE, various in/near vassals) value was that of their weight. (no conversion)
Local ‘money’: Worn-out fur unsuitable for use in garments. Used furs are brought to a clerk authorized to mark them, and he affixes a marker to the furs, which is then used as currency. The need for such a system is a lack of silver, a metal always imported.
Fur currency was measured in fractions of the silver grivna. There was no universal system for all the Russian lands, but values were constant within each area.
1 grivna of silver = 25 kunas = 50 rezana = 150 veksha/veveritsa kuna 1/25 grivna rezana 1/50 grivna veksha/veveritsa 1/150 grivna
some areas also have a bela
|In Novaka - True God / Raskolniki / Ancestor / Animalism|
The dominante religion for most non-Novaka world (not vin-homeland, yet) Hostile to other beliefs, likes to warp and absorb them.
lame ass christians, no real magic get power through manip of others
2-300 years ago some tzar converted to True God. Most of Eastern Novaka cares less. Vlads and good parts of Severnaya(dual whorship) are True God. Major cities (where Vlads are) have strong True God pressense.
Called “Embrace the True God” when a King/country converts
Old Believers (Raskolniki) aka Pagen:¶
Slavic folkcraft and mythology, lots of nature spirits everywhere.
Cult of Bear:¶
Severnaya specific, but fear/respect of bears throughout western & northern Novaka. Bears are unknown eastern (most places without woods) Lythropes
Mostly Tyumen. Mixed with a bit of Animalism and various other/foriegn beliefs depending on area.
Heretics/False God: the demon whorshipers (take place of Turks)
-Rusalka -Forest of dead, dead people in the trees -Shin Tsu island palace show down
Vasilisa the Beautiful & the… White knight Red Knight Black knight
player camp guard falls asleep has dreams, party wakes up in baba’s graveyard
Only bear meat was off limits: cause of lythropic cult of wear-bears
Rostov is capital
Sometimes, the black-handled knife is forged from a dead mare’s horseshoe. The handle is made from a black male goat’s hoof or from the right horn of a black ram. Consecration of the black-handled knife is performed during the eclipse of the Moon. the person who performs the ritual puts the black-handled knife in a vessel filled with water. Then she (or he) places the vessel in such a position that the eclipsed Moon can be seen on the surface of the water, and waits for the Moon to come out from the shadow. When the Moon appears from the dark she (or he) pronounces appropriate words which ends with: “Be more powerful, Om Moon! be stronger, Oh Moon! Dedicate this knife, Oh Moon!”. When the whole Moon appears from the darkness she (or he) takes the knife from the water. It’s believed that this knife is now consecrated and charged with the Moon’s power.
iron face masks split is for knights, lots of chain hauberks, some scale
Spring with its run-off from the melting snow made it impossible to travel by land, and the breaking-up of the ice made it too dangerous to navigate the rivers. Fall, with its rainfall, was also too muddy. The short summer was devoted to planting and harvesting and preparing for the long, harsh, and mostly dark winter. However, the very rivers that flooded regularly and made land impassable were the highways of medieval Russia. Trade routes through Russia followed the rivers, with relatively short portages from one to another. From the Baltic sea to Byzantium, the famed trade route “From the Varangians to the Greeks” consisted of a series of rivers. Pirates were not unknown in the generally land-locked Russia (or rather, ice-locked, for most of the seas are Arctic seas); they were river pirates, as feared and reviled as any Caribbean sea dog. In the winter, it was still the rivers, now frozen for many long months, that offered their hardened surfaces to the merchants, warriors, and other travelers. While the heavily forested land was covered in deep snowdrifts that made it all but impassable, the wide rivers would be swept free of snow by the winds, and travelers rode in sleighs wherever need took them.
Novgorod was a wooden city: large stoves and hot fires were a problem, so much so that it was not, as the saying goes, a question of whether, but of when, there would be a major fire. The answer is, historically, about every 20 years, there would be a fire large enough to be recorded in the Chronicles
Male hero must quest and find magical allies to defeat obstical Female just does stuff figures it out
” And I had been there, was drinking mead and beer but no drop got to my mouth.” It means that I spent all my time talking, which is how it is supposed to be when a person tells fairy tales.
Hedge/fold magic - a gift slower, more subtle. life & death / divination Uses, nature, life, spirits (both good and bad) to influence reality
Sorcery - a gift, only very rare individuals have ability to absorb and use this power Absorbs power/energy from something (people, sacrifice, laylines, etc) forms this into magical effects power can be stored Power is unlimited but ability to channel is not.
Mages - an inate gift power comes from knowledge and within. Alchemist
Baba Jaga - (BAH-bah YAH-gah) Jezi Baba in Polish (YEH-zhee BAH-bah) Baba in Russian means “grandmother.”
“Grandmother Bony-shanks”. A terrifying Witch who flew through the air in a mortar using the pestle as a rudder and sweeping away her tracks with a broom. She lived in a revolving house which stood on chicken legs. Her fence was made of human bones and was topped with skulls. The keyhole was a mouth filled with sharp teeth. She would aid those who were strong and pure of heart and eat those who were not. I see her as a Goddess of death and initiation. Baba Yaga smiled, showing her iron teeth, old hag weaving at a loom,A large cat sat in front of the girl to keep an eye on her
Baba Yaga, ugly, haglike, flying in her mortar, with broom January 20th is Baba Den (Grandmother’s Day) in Bulgaria. This sounds like a pretty good day to celebrate Baba Yaga!
Vlads (the muscovites) Severnayans (Ukranians) Vins Varangian from Vinland (swedes) many vins reside in Rostov, a few elsewere. Lats (estonians) Laps (eskimoes) Danes Dansk Tyumen (my Mongols Asiatics) Dwarves (Germans) Gypsies (hungarians) (cossaks) (byzantines) (Poles)
(* NPC only)
Vin titles (male, female): 1. Riddari 2. Baron, Baronsfru 4. Greifi, Greifafru 6. Hertogi, Hertogafru 7. Prinz, Prinzessa 8. Konung, Drottning
Clan culture, inhabit islands far off in unknow ocean. Travel, explore extensivly, often hire out as mechanires/guards turn to banditry. A company of them have been the Tzar’s private guards for over 200yrs. Magic is of runic shaman sort. Soundly reject True God.
Lat titles (male, female): 1. Rüütel 4. Krahv 8. Kuningas, Kuninganna
Small king/dukedom. Several times vassalage, enemy, ally of Novoka. Has had own king at various times. Culture similar to Vlad but much western influence(from being vassal/whatever of Danska and others). Fully Embrace True God, other religious beliefs not tolorated. Since earliest times the Lithuanians had idols of their respected divine creatures (first totems, later zoomorphic-antropomorphic and finally purely anthropomorphic deities). This was proved by archeological and written sources, as well as linguistic and etnographic data. former trinity sky earth underworld
titles (male, female): 1. Ridder 2. Baron, Baronesse 4. Greve or Jarl, Grevinde 6. Hertug, Hertuginde 7. Prins, Prinsesse 8. Konge, Dronning
Eternal Foe of Novoka. High ‘tech’, never much magic though.
Fully embrace True God, other religious beliefs not tolorated.
Laps have no titles
Tribal, primative, eskimoes. Mostly unknown to the average inhabinent of Novoka. Animalism/Spirit whorship, True God is silly to them. Subsistance hunting.
No real titles (tribal chiefs and sub-chiefs)
Actually several sub-cultures.
Various eastern migrating/nomadic tribes/peoples and decendents of same. Often nomadic now, but many have settled under Vlad infulence. Excellent archers, herders, and horsemen. Magic is often herbal/alchemical/spirit based. Mostly limited but occasionaly a powerfull wizard emerges. Few embrace True God. Much ancestor/spirit worship. Some pagen/druid mixture.
|Hungarian titles (male, female): 1. Lovag 2. Baro, Baronö 3. Vicomte, Vicomte Felesége 4. Foispan or Grof, Föispanno or Grofnö 6. Ban or Herceg, Banno or Hercegnö 7. Fejedelem, Fejedelemnö 8. Kiraly, Kiralynö 9. Csaszar, Csaszarnö|
Druids/Pagens nature / ritual magic
Gypsies some magic possible
Boyar(land owner) Vlad, Severnay(very rare)
Landless kniggit Severnay, Vlad
Soldier Lat, Severnay, Tyumen, Vlad
Cavalry Tyumen, cossak cossaks or horse-archers
Guard (man-at-arms, merchianry) Lat, Severnay, Tyumen, Vin, Vlad
Bandit Woodland - Lat, Severnay, Vin, Vlad horse/greatplains - Tyumen, cossak
Merchant(Foriegn ) Tyumen, Vin, Vlad, exotic other
Priest (One God) Dane?, Lat, Vlad
Midwife/Wisewoman Severnay, Vlad(eastern) Old Russian vedun or vedomye zheny (“wise woman”)
Hermit Severnay, Tyumen, Vin(runecaster), Vlad(eastern)
Pagan wizard/priest Severnay, Tyumen, Vlad(eastern)
You are a practitioner of hedge magic, the subtle magic of wise-women and rural wizards, most suited to keeping crops healthy and children snug, and to catching cryptic glimpses of the future. Hedge wizards are the keepers of ancient secrets: herbs that ease pain, forgotten words that can calm an angry beast, the nature of omens, and the language of the stars. Their powers are the powers of life and fate. To put it another way: where an ordinary Physician can give you a root to ease your toothache, a wise-woman can give you a root, a chant, and a candle to remove your toothache entirely (and give you pleasant dreams). Where an ordinary Animal Handler can calm a wild horse, then take it home and break it and teach it to jump and canter, a hedge-wizard can calm a wild horse with an ancient word remembered only to horses, in such a way that the beast will follow the mage home, eager to be taught. A hedge-wizard can try just about anything. It’s the GM’s job to tell the player what skills are required, and what rituals, materials, or other special effort requied Hedge-magic is never a shortcut. In fact, such magic often requires more, in terms of tools, effort, and supplies, than mundane usage of the same skills (with an appropriately impresive results, on a successful roll). Hedge-magic failures are rarely any different from mundane ones
The six most commonly-used skills of the typical hedge-wizard are probably Agronomy, Astronomy/Astrology, Animal Handling, Naturalist, Physician, and Psychology.
Agronomy: Spells used to protect, alter, or even harm fields of growing food are common; most are very slow and the more unusual ones often require regular, long-term attention on the part of the mage.
Animal Handling: Actually holding a conversation with an animal is beyond the scope of hedge magic, but animals often reveal what they know in simple, abstract ways that a hedge mage can understand. Also, a hedge mage with this skill can sometimes dramatically alter the mood and tractability of animals.
Architecture: This includes knowledge of the interrelationship between the homes and temples of mankind and the spirits that often dwell within them. Useful for ferreting out the hiding-places of haunts and house-spirits, and for designing homes that attract the good kind and make the bad kind uncomfortable.
Astronomy: This is “astrology” at TLs appropriate to this advantage, and can be used to find the answers to many questions of long-term individual fate, and to reveal the nature of a stranger’s personality.
Cooking: Often used in conjunction with Physician skill to make fortifying meals to speed along recovery from illness. Hedge wizards are also knowledgeable of the power of food to affect mood and outlook, and to distract people from their worries and disagreements.
Detect Lies: When used by a hedge mage, this skill often grants additional insight into a liar’s motives or state of mind.
Diagnosis: This skill can detect supernatural maladies as well as ordinary ones, ills that would flummox an ordinary doctor.
First Aid/Physician/Veterinary(etc.): These skills all include knowledge of arcane and personal methods of healing, as well as more traditional means. Hedge-mages are consummate healers, and know to clean, plaster and bandage as well as any secular doctor - but much more. As a general rule, hedge magic can heal the sick or wounded two or three times as fast as mundane doctoring, but a good deal more effort is often required (both in terms of creating the right atmosphere for healing, and in terms of required medicines and treatments).
Geology: Includes knowledge of what the stones and shapes of the land reveal, and how to make minor changes to the spiritual “character” of an area. The “outdoors” equivalent of Architecture’s applications.
Meteorology: Useful for reading portents in clouds and breezes, and for creating subtle changes in the weather itself. Dramatic changes are extremely difficult.
Naturalist: Possibly the most essential skill for the hedge wizard, since it provides knowledge of the magical properties of plants and animals, as well as a deep understanding of natural cycles and the relationships between all living things.
Poison: Hedge magic won’t make a deadly poison much deadlier, but the magic of plants and animals can often be used to create exotic poisons, such as those that cause only the semblance of death, or those that work sickness on the heart and mind instead of the body.
Psychology: Many of the ills of a village are rooted in fear. Ironically, the (benevolent) village wise-woman or hedge wizard is often a village’s first line of defense against the dangers of superstition. This skill can be used with great effect to alter moods and to nudge people towards or away from a particular belief.
Research: If the mage has an academic bent and tends to collect books and manuscripts, this skill will be useful for delving into them for hidden meaning or scraps of useful magic.
Teaching: Can be used to pass on the arcane wisdom to a student, and to appraise a potential student’s usefulness. An hour or two is often sufficient to pass on a simple, helpful trick. Years of apprenticeship are necessary to grant the Hedge Magic advantage in it’s entirety, though, unless the student is especially gifted with an open mind and a sense of wonder (GM’s discretion).
|Omens & Superstitions|
Never touch a person or shake their hand over the threshold. If you don’t wait until they are inside, you will not see them again for seven years and risk angering the Domovoi to boot.
It is unlucky to sit at the corner of a table.
If the cat is cleaning herself it means that company is coming.
If you whistle inside, you risk losing all your money.
Never begin a new project on a Friday.
If you compliment a person on their appearance or their baby’s health, you must either knock unpolished wood or spit three times over the left shoulder lest the fairy’s take them.
Never shave or cut your hair when a family member is in danger.
Never cut your hair while pregnant or the unbilical cord will wrap around ur baby’s neck - From Vika.
When giving flowers, give only odd numbers of flowers. Even numbers are for the dead.
If a bird hits the window, someone will die.
If you accidently step in poop or a bird poops on you, you will win money. - From Vika.
If you break a mirror, you can run the pieces under water to counteract the bad luck.
Never show a newborn baby to a stranger until it is at least 40 days old.
Do not put keys on a table. You’ll lose money - From Vika.
It was customary on New Year’s Eve for a girl to back up to the bathhouse door with her hem over the back of her head (rear-end exposed) and ask a question of the Bannik. If a cold touch or scratch from his claw was felt, it meant no. If a warm touch or caress was felt, it meant yes.
|Animals in stories|
Wolves are greedy rather stupid, and male (the Russian word for wolf is “volk,” a masculine noun).
Foxes are sly, calculating, and tricksters. They are also female (the Russian word for fox is “lisa,” a feminine noun).
Cats are opportunistic and lazy. They are male (the Russian word for cat is “kot,” a masculine noun).
Bears are big and lumbering (naturally), rather clumsy, and not very bright. They are male (the Russian word for bear is “medved’,” a masculine noun). The Russian word that is the equivalent of “teddy bear,” “misha,” is also the diminutive for the name Mikhail, which is the standard “first name” of folk-tale bears.
Hares are quick and cowardly, and male (“hare,” in Russian, is “zaiats,” a masculine noun).
The goat is cunning, and female (Russian – “koza,” a feminine noun).
The rooster is cocky and boastful, and male (Russian – “petukh,” a masculine noun).
|Tale of the Invisible City of Kitezh|
Legend about a village that resisted Tartar invasion by submerging itself in a nearby lake, Svetly Yar .
|First witch story|
Once upon a time, a young woman went off into the woods to pick mushrooms and with her she took her new hope chest. While she was searching for mushrooms it began to rain very hard. She quickly removed her clothes and placed them in her hope chest; then stood naked under a tree, until the rains subsided.
Later, she dressed and continued picking mushrooms, until she was spotted by Velnias, (Lithuanian Horned God of the Underworld). Velnias asked if she had been picking mushrooms during the rainstorm, and if so, how had she remained dry?
The young woman replied that she had a secret that prevented rain from touching her.
Velnias was intrigued and pressed the woman for her secret. The young woman agreed to tell Him, but only if He revealed all His magical arts. So a bargain was struck and Velnias taught the woman all that He knew of magic and healing.
It was then that the woman told Velnias how she had avoided the rain. Velnias spit and flew away, raging and screaming that He had been tricked.
Thus, the woman became the first witch and passed on her teachings to others from that time on. And so, witches flourished.
Dualism permeates all of Slavic Pagan spirituality. It is a system of complimenting opposites such as darkness and light, winter and summer, Other examples of dualism are - the two Rozhinitsy, the mother and daughter fates, the spirits of midnight, Polunocnitsa and noon, Poludnitsa - both times seen to be equally as frightening, and the Zorya - Goddesses of dusk and dawn. Rod and Rozhenitsa, the God and Goddess who imbue the newborn child with a soul and his/her fate Although many bodies of water had their own deities, most bodies of water were ruled by spirits known as Rusalki or Vodanoi. Fire was personified by the god, Svarozhich and it was considered nearly criminal to spit into a fire. Mati Syra Zemlja or Mother Moist Earth, however, seems to have been given the greatest amount of respect.
The following inventory and discussion of Russian pagan gods is taken from Linda Ivanits, Russian Folk Belief, Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1989. Russian words are transliterated according to the Library of Congress system, with the stressed vowel indicated by bold type. Numbers in parentheses are page references to Ivanits’s book.
Dazhbog: sun god, also god of blessings and son of Svarog; Iranian influence
Iarilo: minor god of male sexual potency associated by Rybakov with semik
Khors: sun god; Iranian influence
Koliada: spirit of the winter solstice
Kupalo: spirit of the summer solstice, associated with Kupalo’s Day (June 24)
Lada, Lado: variously thought to be the mother of Lel’ and Polel’, a god of the underworld and marriage, or not a deity at all Rybakov considers her the goddess of spring and mother of Lelia
Lel: possibly the son of Lada and brother of Polel
Lelia: possibly the daughter of Lada
Mat syra zemlia: Moist Mother Earth, personification of the earth as a female deity
Mokosh: only female deity included among Vladimir’s idols, possibly associated with Moist Mother EarthRybakov associates her with fertility, bounty, mositure, women’s work, the protection of maidens October 28 (Saint Paraskeva-Friday)
Perun: chief of the pagan gods, god of thunder and lightning and of war Rybakov associates him with July 20 (Elijah the Prophet)
Polel: possibly the son of Lada and brother of Lel’
Rod: minor god of birth Rybakov sees him as an early primary god of the east Slavs, a creater and god of fertility and light, associated with the winter solstice and July 20, who was replaced by Perun shortly before the tenth century
Rozhanitsy: minor goddess of birth Rybakov associates her with the harvest (September 9)
Simargl: a winged dog, guardian of seed and new shoots; Iranian influence associated by Rybakov with rusal’naia week
Stribog: possibly god of wind, storm, and destruction; Iranian influence
Svarog: sun god, father of Dazhbog, divine smith
Svarozhichi: sons of Svarog
Sviatovit: possibly an important god of the west Slavs, god of light, bounty, and divination regarding the harvest
Volos, Veles: god of cattle (skotnyi bog), commerce and possibly the dead associated by Rybakov with the winter solstice and spring equinox
riddle for map A: the sun Inspection blinds thee look away to rea@$# all It blinds if inspected but reveals all when ignored
some junk from paper Baba confronts defeats scoceror of the lake soceror has com from far east killed all mages believed to be controlling the czar. winters = failed crops = no money to fight Danes declared independnece from czar and loss of mages plus no money cause lacked ablility to stop them. Lats and Vins 2 vassals have sided with danes and attacked vassalge Freisen also lat culture Northern dukedoms while not in revolt no longer send tax tribute or soldiers all this war is in west why players fled east
czar bro tried unsuccessful throne seizure Czar nephew slain by sorverror czr only male heir is missing czar has 3 daughters wife died in childbirth. church could not prevent so czr kicked them out but they revealed foiled bros plot so they back Lats Vins Dands Laps