Domain of the Month
More information can be found on Ivana Boristi and Borca in the core rule books Realm of Terror, Domains of Dread, and the Ravenloft Campaign Setting, the 3rd edition books Ravenloft 3rd Edition, Ravenloft Dungeon Master's Guide, Ravenloft Players Handbook, Ravenloft Gazateer IV and Secrets of the Dread Realms.
Some of this may be old hat to people who've helped me hash this stuff out here and elsewhere, but here's the Borcan thread in my campaign.
Clockmaker Gustav Malvoni of Sturben in Borca led a double life. The kindly old man was secretly also a gunsmith, supplying weapons to the Shadow Insurrection of Falkovnia. On several occasions, he hired the Carnival to smuggle the firearms across the border. He did this not out of greed, but out of kindness, and hope that the people of Falkovnia could throw of Drakov's shackles and live free.
He also did this to repent, in his way, for unleashing a scourge on the world in his youth. Thinking his gift of mechanical aptitude was capable of anything, he attempted to create a son, Talos, in a laboratory in Darkon. Talos was a dread mechanical golem, who could pass for a large, burly man, and from his 'birth' knew that something was missing within him, a soul. He also sensed Gustav's disappointment in him, for not being finely crafted enough to take on his trade. Gustav travelled the world, searching for a way to make a soul for Talos, but he would not turn to magic, for fear of its corruption. Eventually, he gave up and resolved to destroy Talos, who had become reckless and full of rage, killing to get the gems that powered him. At last they confronted one another, at the edge of the Shadow Rift. Talos fell in, and Gustav thought him destroyed.
But he wasn't. Years later, he emerged from the rift and took the name Vir Stannum, and began to hunt for his father, who had settled in Borca.
Now Gustav is dead. Killed in his own shop, but by whom? Talos? The Falkovnians? Or the Borcans who fear his weapons will fall in the wrong Falkovnian hands? The clues to that mystery, and his whole sordid past, lie in Gustav's encrypted journal, hidden under the floor of his shop. The keys to decode the journal are scattered across the world, hidden in the mechanisms of his creations...
A young man named Edik got in trouble with Ivan Dilsnya's enforcers. He promised them money, and then couldn't pay up. In trying to flee he was caught and subject to a horrible fate.
Edik was hanged by the neck while simultaneously being dropped into a Hellspout (see Gaz IV). He died of both attacks, and later rose as a ghastly Valpurleiche (see Denizens of Dread).
The spirit of Edik haunts the Hellspouts and the nearby town where he lived. He has the Death Rattle ability (see Gaz IV) which causes his victims to suffer as if they are being burned alive by the Hellspout and being hanged at the same time.
However, Edik's transformation to undeath has mixed up his mind, and he sees everyone as someone who was in on the plot to kill him. Thus, he attacks anyone he finds out at night. Until his murderer (one of Ivan's enforcers) is actually found and killed, Edik will continue to rise and kill any who cross his path.
Local legends of an undead creature stalking the alleyways set the PC's on the tail of a Carnival refugee who has come to Borca seeking clues to her parentage. This teenage girl has been warped by the Twisting to look like a victim of Ivana's poisonous kiss, but she is in fact immune to many poisons, perhaps even the touch of an ermordenung. She knows little about her parents, but one of her caretakers let slip that she was the by product of incestuous cousins....
Claude, formerly the Carnival's sensitive "Imp," has arrived in Levkarest, either accompanying the above refugee or perhaps on his own. He conceals his "brother" under a high collar, and avoids any PC's who might recognize him. PC's who investigate may discover that Claude is seeking news of a Borcan landowner and his wife, and that he sneaks swigs from a hip flask at every opportunity. This is the real Claude, come home with murder in mind, keeping control of himself away from the Imp by using the hip flask.
A rich scholar from Richemulot (Phillippe Delapont from the USS 2003) offers to pay the PC's to escort him to the estate where Ivan grew up. He proceeds to perform alchemical experiments on the corpses in several nearby graves, extracting memories of Ivan's relatives, hoping to gain information regarding Ivan's Dark Alchemy.
Ivana hires the PC's (perhaps openly, perhaps through an agent) to deal with a creature that is murdering her ermordenung. The creature is a golem or alchemical creation, thus rendering it immune to the poisonous touch of Ivana and her minions. Perhaps Ivan is responsible, or perhaps a third party has entered their war. Either way, the creature may easily mistake Ivan himself for an ermordenung, and when it does, Ivana may call the PC's off, willing to sacrifice her own servants in order to finally be rid of him.
A foundling PC discovers he has a twin who has been searching for him, who has information regarding their parents. Apparently they and another child were all declared stillborn and smuggled away from their father on their mother's orders. Her fears must have been grounded, because she perished soon afterward, doubtless at his hands.
One of Ivan's inner circle has become fatally ill, and seeks to redeem himself before he dies. He meets secretly with the PC's and agrees to provide them with as much information as he can. In exchange, he wants them to kill him, fast and painless--a courtesy neither his disease nor Ivan's Borrowed Time will allow him. If they agree, the PC's will have to roll a Powers Check for the assisted suicide, in addition to having to keeping the man's death hidden.
One of Ivan's inner circle is a true lycanthrope whose progeny has infected a PC. Ivan will defend the man like the valuable asset he is, pitting all his secret forces against the PC's as they seek to destroy his henchman. After foiling several attempts to destroy the creature, however, Ivan wonders if his "asset" is really that valuable. He will arrange one last elaborate trap for the PC's, but if it fails, he will slay the creature himself to end the irritation. He may even do so in a way that the PC's think they are in his debt!
A relative of one of the PCs, a promising and beautiful young actress from Borca who was having trouble with finding a job had recently stopped writing. The PCs arrive at Borca and must track down her trail to pinpoint her location. Eventually they learn of a mysterious and wealthy patron, who invites promising actresses to perform at his estate.
Those whom he finds pleasing and talented are granted great favor and success, but those who don't simply disappear. However, this is considered merely an obscure urban legend amongst the actors and nothing more, and nobody seems to know everyone who actually visited the patron's estate.
The truth is that patron is Ivan, and the actresses are forced to participate in various depraved acts for his amusement. Those who return are kept silenced due to their addiction to Borrowed Time. The PCs must learn the truth regarding the case, somehow breach Ivan's heavily-guarded bastion of evil (either by sneaking in or disguising themselves) and find out what happened to the relative- and possibly deliver justice to the Darklord. By the time they arrive Ivan might've traded her to one of the twisted beings he's in league with, and the PCs are forced into another rescue quest.
A wealthy merchant's young son (and the sole heir to his business empire) had disappeared. He was seen several times in the company of Ivana Boristi, and suspicions immediately fall on her. Eventually, by capturing one of Ivana's men and interrogating him (this might call for a Powers Check depending on the PC's methods) the PCs learn he's alive, and is held captive in a guarded compound. After a moderately difficult fight (or sneak) they release him and bring him back to his father. The truth is that Ivana turned him into one of the Ermordenung, and his goal is to slay his father and give his business empire to Ivana. The PCs must notice the relative easiness of the rescue operation to prevent this from happening.
Both ermordenung and Borrowed Men are going missing, and Ivan and Ivana have begun to blame one another for the disappearances. Their paranoia and anger are quickly leading to a potential civil war, with vassals already clashing in the streets and various nobles quiety pledging their loyalty.
In truth, the killer is a rogue ermordenung, raped by one of Dilisnya's goons before her transformation. She petitioned to join the ermordenung, believing them to merely be a cadre of trained killers who would train her to take revenge. When she found out the truth - too late to turn back - she was horrified and is now waging a one-woman war against the twins' best agents.
The PCs are hired on to guard a wedding between two young nobles of opposing houses. As the days of preparation roll on, mysterious accidents begin to plague the wedding party. The spirit-fearing Borcans believe that a ghost is haunting the proceedings, and one family has begun threatening to annul the marriage contract. In truth, the accidents are merely distractions for a former lover of the bride, who seeks to disrupt the wedding so that he can have back his love. As the days progress, and the PCs interfere, he becomes gradually more disillusioned with his chances of recovering her, and finally decides to poison the entire wedding party at the reception. The PCs must stop his nefarious plot before innocents (or their clients) die.
Igor the Henchman
A group of magically-oriented Ermordenung have been experimenting with magic-infused venoms for Ivana Boritsi's use. These experiments have resulted in the creation of a bizarre new breed of monster. Composed primarily of vapor, the creature flees to Levkarest's sewers. From there, it preys on the city’s inhabitants, poisoning them and draining them of all vital fluids, at the same time augmenting its size. If allowed to continue, the creature may eventually become big enough to cover the entire city and all its population.
John W Mangrum
Most of the adventure hook sidebars were cut from Borca in Gaz IV. In some cases, the "setup" for these hooks remains subtly hidden in the text, but the "punchlines" have all been excised. The developers said they might release this material as a web extra around the time the book was published. They were as follows:
Someone (possibly a rich noble or friend of the players) hires them to find their missing son who vanished after a night at the theatre. It turns out that performance was co-opted by Sceana and the son could be anywhere. Or he could have left but vanished for other reasons. Perhaps his date was more than she seemed.
A large pack of wolves has entered from Verbrek and become addled from eating the wrong mushrooms. This has made them into crazed addicts and immune to pain and fear. Unfortunately, in small doses this fungi is used medicinally for treating the sick so the wolves have taken to attacking hospices and herbalists. Can the players find the reason for the attacks long enough to stop them?
A herbalist approaches the players with urgent need of a particular plant from the darkest depths of Blightwood, claming it is needed to make an antitoxin for a poisoned individual. But is the man telling the truth and will he only use the herb to aid? And is this poisoned individual worth saving?
Something is souring the grapes at a particular vineyard so all the juices are good for naught, save as vinegar. Is it a spell cast by jealous neighbours? The effects of a curse on the eldest son after he angered the Vistani? Has the water been tainted or fouled? Or is it simply a natural event.
Yaoi Huntress Earth
I have two words for you: psionic emordenung. Especally one that happened to be raising in the ranks a little too quickly if you know what I mean.
Here's an alternate scenario: To keep up her innocent victim facade, Ivana seduced some necromancer into preserving and animating her mother's corpse to fool the populace that Camile is still alive. So all the horrid stuff Ivana does is all pinned on her wicked mother while she's free to play the loyal, pure-hearted daughter who still loves her mother despite "being used in an experiment for Camile's ermordenungs" (to explain why she has poison powers.)
A lonely emordenung decides to create a lover of his/her own by stealing texts on golem creation. We all know how this is going to turn out, don't we?
For some reason I can see a dark humored potiental in the Dark Twins' bickering involving various assassination attempts that just seem to constantly fail due to dumb luck and we can all guess which lucky PCs are going to get caught in the middle.
Sick of the enforcers, a nobleman creates his own secret group that makes sure that the tax collectors never take more than what is needed.
I was thinking about this for one of my adventures. Basically, Ivan's latest plot strikes at the core of Nostalia's insecurities as the Michael Douglas like old man is immune to her poisons and thus the only one that she can possibly be with sensually. (And he deludes her that they can have a child as well)
Thus he's filtering information with Ivana until he's sure that he can have the secret of her fountain of Youth and then will instruct Nostalia to kill Ivana as she did Camilla. Ivana is in denial of her friend's betrayal of course.
I also have the idea for Ivan's "coup de gras" is to betray Nostalia by handing her a 'adopted' child that will be immune to her poisons. In truth, he made the babe one of her "kind" and he intends to kill her that way I was curious if anyone had any thoughts or ideas for expanding this plot.
Ivana's manor is currently being mapped by yours truly for a future adventure with my gaming team. I used the Black Box to set the outline of the manor, with two main floors, an attic level and an underground level.
What are the features you would put inside this building?
I’m thinking of sending the PCs to explore Misericordia while there is a ball held by Ivana, either looking for the secret of Ivana's youth or after Danzig's relic of Ezra.
Here’s what I have so far (see the Black Box drawing for reference):
Front of Misericordia Manor:
Large esplanade in front of the Manor, well kept. To get there, you have to pass a guarded gate, usually kept closed. An ermordenung (chief of the guards) is often monitoring this gate.
You can’t enter Misericordia without invitation, of course.
Level A (ground level):
Grand Hall, a salon, a study / library, ballroom. These area are showing a lot of commissioned art (paintings, sculpture, etc.)
Kitchen & pantry and maid service area. With access to the wine cellar level.
Two guest suites, with private court and salon.
Ivana’s + Nostalia + jongleur locked bedroom (false one, the real ones are on floor B. Still, none except Ivana + Nostalia + Jongleur, including the maids, can go there, punishable by death).
A few “secret” doors that are used by maids in their work.
Level B (second floor):
About a third of the floor: maids room, bakery and storage for maintenance, etc. There are rooms to spy on the ball room.
Enclosed section (2 thirds of level B): where Ivana’s and Nostalia’s real room are. There is a smaller bedroom for the Jongleur, at the entrance of this section. It is accessed by a secret passage in Ivana’s false bedroom. The entrance to the enclosed bedroom suites section is trapped.
From Nostalia’s room: a one-way secret passage to one of the guest room on level A.
From Ivana’s room: a one-way secret passage to the second guest room on level A. Another secret passage to level C.
A secret room where she hides the Danzig’s relic of Ezra (LotB).
From this enclosed section is a secret passage leading to a stair on the underground level (level D)
The maids know there is a secret area on the level B, but they are forbidden to say anything about it. They have been told the roof is leaking in this section so the reason it’s unused. An ermordenung (chief of maid staff) is cleaning this area.
Level C (attic level).
Ivana’s secret room. Even Nostalia has seen it rarely in its entirety. It is a complete poison lab and a storage for various heirloom objects, arts, books, etc.
There is an access to the Widow’s walk there. There are six widows walk on the roofs, a few having deadly trapped false access (to prevent people from entering the place from outside after climbing or flying).
Level D – underground.
In fact this level is halfway higher then the ground (see the Black Box map: one has to climb six stairs to get to level A).
Wine cellar (accessible from the maids). One of the cubicles has been sealed shut (it contains the Death Stone (LotB) and this cubicle is now only accessible by Ivana’s “dungeon”
Ivana’s “dungeon”: three cells to keep prisoners, a mushroom garden and miniature lab, a passage to the Death Stone, an underground passage leading to the Carriage House, another leading to the forest, about 300’ from Misericordia.
Back of Misericordia Manor:
A few acres of walled garden (one of the sections of this luscious garden is walled and restricted to Ivana only: poisonous plants, a small green house)
Carriage House, with her infamous black carriage. There are guards there all the time. The second floor is in fact used as a barrack for Ivana’s elite guards.
A small theatre in the midst of the garden (thanks cure!). It has 30 seats but it’s very comfortable. It is not inside the main building as Ivana wants to restrict the actors to one area she can monitor well, (especially if it is Ivan).
Although see-through mirrors might be more Ivan's than Ivana's style, there should still be a few for general spying, watching the effects of poisoned candles in bed chambers, etc.
A few fountains, after Versailles, and perhaps even a small hedge maze would be nice touches for the park. Each fountain would have its own poison taint and not a few of the plants would be poisonous, perhaps even to the touch. And perhaps a poisonous, to the touch, frog or two? Equally fish.
A small zoo of poisoned animals would also be appropriate, whether this can be fit into the lab in the attic is uncertain because of the smell and the need for a caretaker. Spiders, snakes, scorpions, centipedes, frogs, and fish, all poisonous, would be the principle residents, as well as mice and rats, or even large animals, to test poison effectiveness. Actually, it could be the basement and be part of the dungeon, or rather the dungeon be part of it.
Rotipher : Don't forget to include large, elaborate dressing-rooms for Ivana and her favoured companions and guests. Given how ostentatiously the court ladies of the real-world time period Borca emulates used to dress, even tending to Ivana's hair, alone, probably rates its own preparation room, for times when she's in the mood to remind all her sycophantic courtiers or the occasional foreign ambassador just how extravagant she can afford to be.
While it's uncertain whether the story of the Headless Horseman's death at Ivana's instigation is true, she undoubtedly has an ornate, luxurious bathing chamber, which could've inspired the story that she bathed in his blood even if it never actually happened.
BTW, while many of Ivana's treasures will be close at hand on her home estate, she probably consigns a lot of momentos she doesn't need every day (like the Horseman's head, if applicable IYC) to the secure attics and cellars of various townhouses and "quiet getaway" mansions throughout historical (i.e. non-Dorvinia) Borca. She legally owned the entire domain for years, pre-Conjunction, so had plenty of time to distribute her secrets among her countless properties; indeed, it's possible Ivana might even have forgotten one or two minor trinkets or incriminating trophies, over the years, and left them behind in houses she's subsequantly rented out to her brown-nosing faux nobility. Bad luck for them, if the current residents accidentally stumble across one of her poison-trapped secret hiding places or its evil contents.....
I can also see a family crypt in the back where remains of her ancestors are kept.
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