Thursday, October 13, 2016

Monvesian Culture: Vasyl's Legacy

After uniting the petty kingdoms of Voztok under a single banner, Tsar Vasyl Vladovich Korolov (r. 890 ye - 105 ye) lived an unnaturally long life--long outliving his own children. Unlike Jostin or Ignatius, Vasyl did not ascend to sainthood.  Instead, he transformed his body into something new, like the transcendence of elvenkind.  Some say that Vasyl was a warlock sworn to the Undying patron; others claim that he was a blood mage (or even a bloodline sorcerer).

During his life, he passed on his secrets to his grandchildren and other members of his inner circle.  These acolytes further spread what they learned, establishing a cult in Voztok--and, by extension, the Barrier Mountains region of Cuorria.  Several institutions have thus survived Vasyl to this day:  1) The Dominion of Voztok and the Tsardom of Volka, remnants of Vasyl's empire; 2) the Strigoi, a race born from Vasyl's blood experiments; and 3) the Sanguinati, a faction that shares Vasyl's obsessions.


Tsarim Voztoka - Tsardom of the East

The Tsardom of the East (Tsarizm Voztoka) was originally divided into three Grand Principalities (Velikoye Knyazhestvo), each of which was under the direct authority of a Grand Prince or Grand Princess (Velikiy Knyaz or Velikiy Knyaginya). After the death of Vasyl's eldest son, the number of Grand Principalities increased to five--and the Tsar's direct involvement in government became greatly reduced.  In practice, the Grand Princes in Council acted in the name of the Tsar, seeking his approval (or veto) only in certain matters.

Today, the Tsardom is divided into the Dominion of Voztok (the majority of the Grand Principalities) and the Tsardom of Volka (an independent Grand Principality).  Since the war-less secession of Volka, the remaining Grand Princes in Council no longer seek Vasyl's approval for any matter.  It is commonly believed that Vasyl has abdicated his throne to the Council as a whole, with no one Grand Prince allowed to succeed him.  Some Cuorrian and Honderreicher nobles suggest that this is the reason that Grand Prince Ivan left the empire; that the division of the Empire was generally peaceful, however, has caused much confusion.

The Grand Princes of Voztok, from the children of Vasyl to today (italicized), are outlined below.  While Vasyl's own children ruled for moderate durations, every descendant since has had a long reign--though none as long as Vasyl's.  While Vasyl's children were human, Vasyl and his grandchildren had become strigoi (see below).
  • Petro Vasylovich Korolov, first Knyaz of Medvedya (inc. Gornaya and Krasnaya)
    • Nikolay Petrovich Korolov, second Knyaz of Medvedya
      • Agnessa Nikolayevna Korolova, third Knyaginya of Medvedya
        •  Natalya Agnesovina Korelova, fourth Knyaginya of Medvedya
    • Aleksey Petrovich Korolov, first Knyaz of Gornaya 
      • Pavel Alekseyevich Korolv, second Knyaz of Gornaya
        • Aleksey Pavelovich Korolov, third Knyaz of Gornaya
    • Dmitriy Petrovich Korolov, first Knyaz of Krasnaya
      • Fyodor Dmitriyevich Korolov, second Knyaz of Krasnaya
        • Olga Fyodorina Korolova, third Knyaginya of Krasnaya
        • Petro Fyodorovich Korolov, fourth Knyaz of Krasnaya
  • Igor Vasylovich Korolov, first Knyaz of Orla 
    • Sofiya Igorovna Korolova, second Knyaginya of Orla
      • Ilya Sofiyich Korolov, third Knyaz of Orla
        • Yelena Ilyichna Korolov, fifth Knyaginya of Orla
      • Maksim Fyodorovich Korolov, fourth Knyaz of Orla
  • Son of Ivan Vasylovich Korolov, first Knyaz of Volka 
    • Ivan Ivanovich Korolov, second Knyaz and first Tsar of Volka
      • Mikhail Ivanvich Korolov, second Tsar of Volka
        • Zhanna Mikailovna Korolova, third Tsarina of Volka
          • Igor Yevgeniyevich Korolov, fourth Tsar of Volka
Though divided, the region is still shares Tsar Vasyl as a common historical and cultural icon.  To this day, the region is collectively known as the Tsardom of the East or the Tsarlands.

New Race: Strigoi

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Language Analog: Esperanto
Inspiration: Vampires of Zendikar in Magic: the Gathering
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Tainted Counterpart: None, strigoi are immune to Taint
Temperamental Association:  Nihilism
Strigoi is the plural or collective form of the word.  An individual female is a striga, while a male is called a strigon.  When the gender of the "vampire" is unknown or unimportant, the non-gender-specific singular strig can be used.
The strigoi are the descendants of Tsar Vasyl's inner circle, who first transformed themselves from humans to "living vampires" during the early days of the Sanguinati blood cult (see below).  The eleven nobles chosen by Vasyl to undergo transformation into the eldest strigoi have become known as the Patriarchs.  Only these Patriarchs may create new strigoi from other humanoids; all other strigoi must be born to strigoi parents. The descendants of each Patriarch (biological or transfigured) are one's tribe; the strigoi as a whole are often commonly called the Tribes of Vasyl.

About 1% of the population of Voztok and the Barrier Mountains is strigoi.  They are considered the cultural elite of these regions. The Patriarchs and the regions of their tribal influence are outlined below. While these areas are the ancestral homes of the Tribes, any tribe may be found nin nearly any region.
  • Nikolay Petrovich Korolov, second Knyaz of Medvedya
    • Nikolite Tribe, Medvedya 
  • Aleksey Petrovich Korolov, first Knyaz of Gornaya
    • Aleksite Tribe, Gornaya
  • Dmitriy Petrovich Korolov, first Knyaz of Krasnaya
    • Dmitrite Tribe, Krasnaya
  • Sofiya Igorovna Korolova, second Knyaginya of Orla
    • Sofiyite Tribe, Orla 
  • Ivan Ivanovich Korolov, second Knyaz and first Tsar of Volka
    • Ivanite Tribe, Volka 
  • Ekran Talyovich, Vizier to Tsar Vasyl
    • Ekranite Tribe, Mancare/Tristeren/Vanator 
  • Raisa Savvichna, Vizier to Tsar Vasyl
    • Raisite Tribe, Gornaya 
  • Martina Zharkova, Mistress to Tsar Vasyl
    • Zharkovite Tribe, Medvedya 
  • Vasyl Dagarin, illegitimate son of Tsar Vasyl
    • Dagarinite Tribe, Krasnaya 
  • Oksana Rutina, companion of Grand Prince Nikolay
    • Rutinite Tribe, Medvedya
  • Myzar Miroslavich, companion of Grand Princess Sofiya
    • Myzarite Tribe, Orla
It is commonly known that strigoi are bloodsuckers--they are even sometimes sought after to perform this service.  Strigoi have been known to suck out poisons and other blood-born pathogens; some do this out of altruism, while others may do it for monetary gain.  Others still have been known to refuse the service.

Strigoi Traits

Strigoi are an adaptation the vampires of Zendikar for Monvesia.  Strigoi differ from Zendikar vampires in the following ways:
  • It is Vasyl who created the strigoi--not an otherworldly, eldritch horror (such as Ulamog).  Vasyl used a pure form of the ritual to create the Patriarchs (the Monvesian equivalent of bloodchiefs) from his inner circle--but they only learned a partial version of the ritual in the process.
    • While these Patriarchs can create new strigoi through blood-drinking (see below), the race also procreates in the traditional fashion for humanoids.
  • A humanoid killed through a strig's use of blood thirst does not awaken as an undead null (zombie); such a victim remains dead.
    • One per long rest, in place of healing oneself through blood thirst a strig may cast neutralize poison on the recipient of the bloodletting; at 6th level or higher, a strig may cast cure disease in this slot instead.
    • A Patriarch may use blood thirst to transform another humanoid into a strig. The chosen must not be killed, but brought near death (down to 1 hit point).  After three days in this death-like state (during which time one's body transfigures), the strig awakens as a 1st-level character.  The new strig loses all previous racial abilities and may follow any class one chooses.
      • Transfigured strigoi have a limited memory of their previous life.  When prompted by an outside source (NPC, location, object, etc.), the strig may make a Wisdom save with disadvantage to recover a past-life memory.  Naturally born strigoi do not have this ability.
  • Strigoi speak their local common language (typically Voztokny or Cuorrian, but any common language is available, as normal) and Strigan--an artificial language invented by Vasyl and the Patriarchs.
Monvesia-specific details of the race include:
  • Strigoi are immune to the effects of Taint; as such, they cannot ascend to immortality.  They may transcend into fully undead vampires or liches instead.
  • Strigoi begin with 3 AP in Nihilism as a result of their race.
The origins of "real" vampires is unknown--though it is likely directly connected to the unknowable workings of the Aeon of the Necrosphere.




New Faction: The Sanguinati

Temperamental Association:  Vitalism

The Sanguinati is a vitalistic faction operating in Monvesia.  Though it is most active in Voztok and in the Barrier Mountains region of Cuorria, agents of the cult can be found throughout the known world.  Agents of the Sanguinati strive to develop power through magical transformation and selective breeding. They believe that each race can be brought near to perfection by encouraging the development of the most powerful bloodlines.  While they have no outright political agenda, their work inevitably interferes with houses and tribes already in power in their local areas.

The Sanguinati and the strigoi (above) are intimately tied.  In fact, the entirety of the leadership of the Sanguinati is strigoi.  However, not every member of the Sanguinati is strigoi, nor is every strigoi a member of the Sanguinati.  Many non-strig members of this faction hope to be chosen by one of Vasyl's Patriarchs to become a member of that race.  The strigoi are seen by many as the Sanguinati's "perfect race" ... or the group is at least prepared to transform the race into such.
Equivalent:  The Sanguinati does not have a direct equivalent among the factions of Forgotten Realms.  It shares token qualities in common with the Zhentarim.
Tpial members of this faction include: blood mages (wizards), blood thralls (fighters), bloodline sorcerers, transmuters (wizards), as well as vitalists of all classes.  Anyone with a desire to attain power and encourage perfection are welcome in this faction.

Beliefs


  1. Blood is the source of nobility and power.
  2. Powerful peoples (tribes, clans, races) must be protected; weak peoples should be allowed to pass away.
  3. Honor your heritage, perfect yourself, and create a better generation to follow.

Goals

To develop and preserve the most powerful bloodlines of each race; to seek out and encourage the development of the perfect race and the perfect being.
Many Sanguinati believe the strigoi to be the perfect race, and Vasyl to be the perfect being; others claim that Vasyl's work in creating the strigoi was merely the beginning of a much greater work.

Ranks

  • Renown 1, Blood-Seeker
  • Renown 3, Blood-Walker
  • Renown 10, Blood-Maker
  • Renown 25, Blood-Singer
  • Renown 50, Blood-Chief
The process of transformation into a strig (see above) wipes clean the memories of the chosen, causing them to begin life anew as a 1st-level character.  No matter one's previous rank among the Sanguinati, the transfigured strig must re-establish his or her renown with the group.

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