Domain of the Month
More information can be found on Vlad Drakov and Falkovnia in the core rule books 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 Gazetteer II and Secrets of the Dread Realms.
Yaoi Huntress Earth
Since Falklovia is rather close to the Shadow Rift, a Shadow Fey has been collecting changelings via the herbal drugs (see RG 2) by getting potential victims addicted. Do you get the Talons involved against a powerful enemy and destroy a plant that might be the only thing that keeps the oppressed populace going?
One of the local pretty maidens has attracted the attention of a Talon. The lady in question has been promised to another by her (poor) family and the family has already received the money from the (bit richer) family. To complicate the situation, the lady has fallen in love with another who might even be a PC. Many conflicts sans clear solution.
After the PCs are introduced to the conflict on the family/her love axis, the Talon steps in and introduces the conflict on the powerlessness axis by demanding his right to any lady. Losing sides should be portrayed in great drama and seemingly due to the PCs actions. The Talon's interest in the lady should be portrayed also due to the actions of the PCs. The plot hook should either be a hard to ignore crying lady or love letter (or actually some whispered message) from the lady.
Mists or mischievous vistani or anything, transports the party to the center Falkovia. They learn for a wizard working for Drakov, turning humans to beasts (not goblyns), when a couple of the beasts attack them. The beasts are uncontrolled at the time of creation but Drakov supports him as he believes he can made them controllable.
The wizard can control them temporarily with charm monster spells, but eventually they break away from his control. Even that way, Drakov takes the beasts for the few days they are charmed and either "exports" them to Darkon to terrorize the populace or throws them in Arena's with unarmed people to see them rip them apart etc. To make a short story long, Drakov is mildly interested in the beasts as they are (controllable for a short period of time) but he is more interested in the results.
When the PCs learn about this, they have to search the villages and find the spies of the wizard, the persons he uses to bring him people, locate the tower and the lab etc. Then they have to do the dirty job of stopping the wizard (most probably the hard way). . .
And face the anger of Drakov when his toys stop coming in, and the project is stopped. Remember that the PCs are in the center of Falkovia. The players should feel the injustice of rescuing the people and then the whole people turning against them as if they were the villains in this adventure.
The humans are turned to monstrous humanoids. They become chaotic evil and murderous. They fly into a mad rage when provoked and kill people. Nothing remains from their old self and they have vague memories of their old lives.
I believe they should have a CR equal to the party level -3. That way they are challenging, but not overpowering
The ministry of science has developed a new breed of warriors. Mass produced and ready for battle the Ministry and its Chief need only a few items to complete their occult genetics program. The first just happens to be an item that turns all those who behold it into mindless zombie like creatures and was lost to the world 56 years ago. Guess what a curious part time historical researcher dug up under a building in the town the PCs are currently visiting?
Falkovnia is having a gala affair. Diplomats from Lamordia, Invidia and new entrants into a Falkovnian friendly alliance (more importantly from a glory seeking Kartakass, Nova Vassa who seeks Falkovnian bread for food shortages among its cities, a curious delegate from Hazlan and a secret envoy from Dominic and his back stabbing Dementlieu) are to attend.
A third party contacts the PCs to stop this party or spy for them. While at the party, vampyres attack! Lord Vladimir Ludzig Prince of the underworld does not appreciate such power being wielded by lessers and he has decided to make his move -by converting the delegates to vampyres and making a play for foreign power.
The PCs might:
Perhaps the third party that hired the PCs to stop the party or spy on it was Ludzig himself (for reasons unknown as yet) or a Counter espionage agent from the Ministry of Intelligence.
A secret sect of the Eternal Order that followed Falkovnian soldiers of the Dead Man's Campaign, has decided to stage a coup in order to seize more power. Poisoning a regiment of Talons, they have reanimated them into zombie shock troops and are trying to prove their use to Vlad by exterminating small towns and adding to their numbers.
Vlad will give them a blessing and install them as a power in government or Falkovnia will fall beneath their dead tide -or so the Eternal's Inner Circle thinks. In reality the Head Priest is a Kargat Infiltrator with a misson from Azalin, 'Wreak havoc in Falkovnia and find a particular artifact'. The artifact was the creation device of 'The Green Maiden' -a living pestilence whose touch strips the bark off trees. With the artifact a greater plague shall be unleashed on Azalin's enemies and the bread basket of the core shall become as dust and all of its prosperity shall be as nothing to the great death that will follow.
A small village in north Falkovnia lost all its healthy young men some months ago to Vlad Drakov's mad campaign against his northern neighbor. All those conscripted to the battle were proclaimed dead or missing. Yet, a few weeks ago some of the old veterans did return- as homicidal undead. Led by the reanimated corpse of an infamous Talon war-hero, the undead soldiers are enforcing their sadistic, iron rule on the village and its surroundings through mayhem and blood. As their leader is familiar with nearly all the Talons' tactics, even Vlad's best men are powerless against them. What is the undead warriors' ultimate goal? Do they serve Azalin? And who can put an end to their reign of terror?!
Dion of the Fraternity
Here's an idea I thought up, since Midway Haven's Druinor d'Yantra was born in Falkovnia:
Druinor d'Yantra, born in Falkovnia and raised in Darkon, has just received news that the Talon parents who reluctantly abandoned him as a child have been sighted in Silbervas. Druinor, a former Talon himself who now lives in Vallaki, agrees to fund a personal expedition to prove this find, and he is more than willing to go along with anyone who heeds his call. However, certain Falkovnians in high places don't want Druinor back in Falkovnia, much less find his birth-parents. Can Druinor and the adventurers pass through this deadly web of intrigue and assassination? Or even if Druinor finds these mysterious people, are they really his parents or just another false stop in his search?
Drakov has emptied the village stores to provide military with food and to punish villagers for sheltering a known rebel. Winter has come, people are starving (Think Vorostokov). The (heavily guarded) military store next to village is full of grain. Will the store be attacked or robbed, will someone help, is the store manager corrupt or loyal? What happens if the robbery comes out (Is there a traitor amongst the villagers?)
ScS of the Fraternity
The hamlet of Lakenrock is a quiet haven amongst the oppressive misery of the kingdom of Falkovnia. There are little reminders of Drakov's reign, aside from the local Sergeant at Arms, who is fortunately too drunk and lazy to terrorize the citizenry. Life was ideal, and yet new visitors threaten to end the peaceful isolation.
Over the last few months several trains of travelers have passed through; grim faced soldiers who speak to no one, men who wear the emblem of the Ministry of Science, and deathly silent teamsters who drive windowless coaches shaped like cages. Some say that they have erected a fort deeper in the woods, hidden from prying eyes. Still, as unnerving as the outsiders may have been, they were too occupied with their work to bother the populous. Until one night....
Late one moonless night, as the wind whipped itself into a lashing gale, a few soldiers descended upon the village. Immediately they declared martial law, pressed the men folk into service and forced the villagers to build barricades around the settlement. The thin veneer of command cracks readily; it is obvious that these officers are terrified of something in the wood. So quick are the defenses made, that several families are actually left out of the village, trapped outside the walls and forced to fend for themselves.
The civilian guards say that in the twilight hours, they can see things moving amongst the trees. Those forced to patrol outside the wall say that they have found strange signs around the perimeter; footprints in mud , claw marks in trees, animal carcasses strung up in the bushes. A few brave men disobeyed orders and went out in search of one of the closer families, only to find the farmstead destroyed and its inhabitants missing.
The siege goes on, and as the weather grows colder the stores of food shrink. The peasants are starving even as the officers gorge. Several patrolmen have vanished, and yet the officers refuse to send a messenger out for help. Surely the hamlet will fall unless some helpful travelers can happen upon them.
Wiccy of the Fraternity
Jeiger Hemmstein served his commander, the Falcon of Falcovnia for many long years, serving as a member of the militia, a guardsman, foot soldier and then a talon, slowly earning esteem among his fellows. Seen as one of the bravest in his company, his own terror during the Dead Man Campaigns marked him a coward. He fled the site of the battle on the border of Darkon, watching the lifeless remains of his fellows rise up to do battle against their former comrades. The sights he witnessed scarred his mind, but did not break it, instead he had an epiphany. He turned his back on his ways and left the domain, smuggled out by a troupe of traveling bards and other performers, disguising himself as one of them. He now wanders the domains seeking a new life and helping others along the way, those he is not long last his prime and entering the final years of his life.
While he travels he is haunted, not by anything otherworldly of malignant, but equally malicious he is sought for his cowardice and retreat by those loyal to Drakov. One day they may eventually corner him and claim his head for the Falcon, but thus far he has eluded capture. However, age is creeping up on Jeiger much faster than it once did and his travels have slowed, he can only escape the inevitable for so long without aid of some form.
Something simple for a low-level campaign; maybe for a group that has just entered Falkovnia and may not know any better:The party enters a small village and finds a group of men in armor ransacking the place. Rather than an invading army, the warriors are searching for a falcon. Sullen citizens stand at attention outside of their homes while the armored men tear through their meager possessions with no regard.
The party is approached by a portly gentleman in a crisp uniform. This functionary introduces himself as Major Mordrim. A sharp contrast to his ruthless subordinates, Mordrim is cordial, telling the party that his men are looking for one of Drakov's hunting falcons and that he is under orders to search every domicile in the village. Mordrim believes that the falcon is not even in the village, but rather in the nearby hills. Since he is not permitted to search the hills (per his orders he is to search the villages only), Mordrim makes the PCs an offer. Find the falcon, complete with Falkovnian collar, and he will give them each 200gp.
PCs who agree will find that Mordrim was correct, finding a wounded falcon in a small hilly region about two hours north of the village. DMs can arrange to have a small group of goblins (or any other suitable creature) responsible for the wounding... their adept is bent on making the bird a familiar. PCs who dispatch the goblins and return the falcon will find Mordrim grateful; he was not permitted to return home until the bird was found and he invites the PCs with him to the Falkovnian capital where he will introduce them to Drakov.
This basic and easy adventure can be used to introduce PCs to the full horrors and tyranny of Falkovnia, allowing them to offer Drakov their service or resistance.
Over a decade ago, Drakov's oldest daughter Kara appealed to her father to let her create an elite staff of female servant-guards for noblewomen of the country. While he scoffed at the idea of female soldiers, Drakov agreed because it freed up men for more important tasks and Kara insisted she would handle everything after his initial approval.
For a few years the group was little more than a club for brutish women, but slowly things began to change. Retired mercenary women from other realms approached Kara to become trainers, and some of them also brought culture and refinement. Women with talent and intelligence were sought out from among the downtrodden masses, and a few shrewd women saw this as one of the few chances they or their daughters would get to better their lives. At great personal expense, Kara sent to schools in Dementlieu and Richemulot for tutors who could make her "Daughters" desirable lady servants in those countries. "Kara's Daughters" became a powerful secret society in Ravenloft, equally able to negotiate battlefields or courtly intrigues on behalf of their patrons. While they remain surreptitious, word has finally reached Drakov's ear that his daughter's toy has outgrown his control....
"Kara's Daughters" pose a mystery for PC's to investigate, either on behalf of Drakov or some other patron. They pursue their own agendas, and their combination of subtlety and ruthlessness lends them to being infiltrated by vampyre and hags at all levels. The potential of the women of Falkovnia cannot remain underestimated, because so many of these women have high-ranking husbands, and their potential for control over these men is far too great.
Perhaps related to the previous adventure idea, perhaps all alone: The mass graves where Vlad Drakov throws the remains of his nightly entertainment are being raided by grave robbers. First overlooked as the work of ghouls, it has come to the attention of some officers that limbs are being hacked off, which suggests a golem creator. Investigators soon come to realize that only arms are being harvested, and always with a single clean blow.The grave robbers are goblinoids under the control of an annis, perhaps locally, perhaps sent from far away. The arms are being turned into three-fingered hands for sale to wizards, but why so many?
The Gears in Stangengrad : Gaz II mentioned in a tantalizingly brief paragraph something called "the Gears" in Stangengrad, Falkovnia. A huge warehouse full of mysterious machinery. No one knows who built it or why. Well, I made the foolish decision to let slip to my players that good old Gustav Malvoni, the mad clockmaker (an important NPC in my campaign, for those that haven't heard me blather about him) is responsible for it. Now, silly me, they want to GO there. Any ideas on what it could be or what it could do? My one idea so far is that it's a huge clockwork trap for Gustav's evil creation, Talos the clockwork man. When Gustav finally gave up on making Talos a soul, he turned his efforts to destroying his mistake. This could have been a failed attempt to do so. But what would it consist of? A bunch of clockwork traps? Anything more interesting I can do with it? I'm open to anything. (Even if it was built by someone else. What they heard could be a false rumor. I'm looking to introduce the Fir sooner or later, so any idea involving them is a plus.)
Thanks for all the responses guys. Still haven't decided yet, as a bout of real life has intruded on my planning. I've still got a few weeks until next session, so we'll see. Once the forum's "Being Gustav Malvoni" idea made me laugh out loud. I don't think I'd use it. But it did give me a giggle. I do like ScS's idea of the mechanical brain with no body, forced to manipulate. the mechanical arm with the pen is a very creepy image. Doesn't quite fit in with the "reality" of Talos, though. He's got a fully functional mechanical brain in a (large) human size body. Why would the Gears need a whole house-were. (er, I mean, warehouse.. ) Going with the Gears as inspiration of Gustav rather than creation of Gustav might be a good plan. Then it can be anything I want, and not have to mesh with his plans. But that kinda get rids of any payoff of going there. They have to get something out braving the falkovnians and the Gears' defenses or why bother? Ideally, there's something there that can lead to to Talos, or that they can use against him. Talos does have a zeitgeiber that makes him freeze when he hears a certain tune played on a mechanical musicbox. (The PC's have hints to this but haven't put them together yet) When I heard the strange tune at the end of the Coheed & Cambria CD (In keeping secrets...) I instantly knew I had to use it for that. I was picturing a room in the Gears that's a giant musical automaton. like one of those player piano sort of things, with dancing bears and whatnot. It's a delightfully bizarre image, but it doesn't really fit with any rational explanation of the gears.... Anyway, I've typed more than I intended for now... more thoughts to come later....
(later): Well, I've let your ideas stew a bit and I think I've come up with a direction to go in. I also read up on Cube and 13 Ghosts (haven't had time to rent and watch them, but I definately want to see Cube sometime.) I'm thinking the Gears is ALL of the things that have been mentioned. (No, this isn't a copout, bear with me.) The Gears started out long ago much like ScS's Babbage demon. It's a sentient entity, hungry for knowledge and yet seemingly all-knowing. But after its first creator was killed, it lured in another, pehaps Daffy's gnome, who expanded the machine and created another Room within it. This one was meant as a trap for the Talons, and perhaps it worked, perhaps it got the gnome killed. Either way, having it's "brain" altered by a different craftsman gave the Gears another perpective, and opened its growing mind up to new experiences.
More than just knowledge, it now craves ways of thinking, and the path for it to gain them is more craftsman, each one filling out a new Room with clockworks for their own goals. The more Rooms that were added over the years, the smarter and more alien the mind of the Gears became, until one day it was insightful enough to deduce the existance of Mechanus, the clockwork plane of pure Law, and it naturally felt drawn to this place. It's new goal was to become its own portal to Mechanus, by transcending thought, space, time, and the Dark Powers. And it would only reach this divine level of enlightenment when "complete" with 13 Rooms, built by 13 mechanical geniuses. (Thank you Mortavius, and 13 ghosts)
Somewhere along the way, the Rooms themselves became mobile within the werehouse (sic), running on cranes and tracks, twisting and turn as thoughts and connections are made in the Gears's mind. (Thank you, Daffy and Cube) Gustav is one of the 12 genius who have built rooms so far. As DeepShadow said, he was inspired by the existing rooms, but he was also compelled to add his own. His was a trap for Talos, much as the gnome's was a trap for Talons. This is where the music will play that is Talos's Zeitgeiber. Another room may be the remnants of Jasper's hive of Sheens. Another room is a divination room, a la BlackBox Gamer. (I'm actually picturing a a clattering "Tarroka Screen." Like those clattering displays at the airport or train station showing arrivals and departures. Built by a scholar trying to "break the code" of Vistani divination.) I'm sure my Fir would fit somewehre in a room, too. This idea gives me the benefit of using all the ideas at once, while also givign each room a flavor, to build traps on. And the opportunity for Gustav's apprentice to build Room 13.
This idea gives me the benefit of using all the ideas at once, while also givign each room a flavor, to build traps on. And the opportunity for Gustav's apprentice to build Room 13.
I'm making a campaign decision in my campaign, to kill of Vlad Dracov and have the PCs directly responsible for it. It's a decision that has been laboured long and hard but will be the focus of a campaign. What I'm interested in is largely the repercussions and how to change the domain. Also, how to portray Vlad in the time just before his fall. The PCs have been eliminating Dracov's networks of lieutenants for sometime and eroding his power base while aiding Gondegals' rebellion against him. They're determined to stay to the end with Dracov and honestly, I think its a better story to see Falknovia WORSE off for their efforts (or at least nearby lands). My ideas are thus far....(feedback is why I'm posting)
I have an idea for a story I'm trying to write in which a Knight of Solamnia (Lord Soth's former order) gets sucked into Ravenloft and has various experiences in different domains before finally being ejected from the demiplane. My chosen ending was similar to your campaign. He leads a general uprising against Drakov, who , more than any other DarkLord, he simply couldn't countenance the existence of. He manages to arange circumstances so that he faces Drakov in single combat on the battlefield and BEATS him, but, before he can kill Drakov, the mists rise and cast him from Ravenloft. You could do something similar only (and this could be done really well) have the mists rise and swallow DRAKOV. Gondegal could eliminate every member of Drakov's family but will forever wonder where Drakov is and what he planning.
Meanwhile, Drakov is moved to some small remote part of Falkovnia and isolated long enough for his power structure to be completely dismantled. Further, every time afterward that he tries to regain his station, by whatever method, the mists rise again and isolate him again causing any schemes of his to collapse. Stories constantly circulate of his survival and ambition, driving Gondegal crazy, but the mists constantly rise preventing him from ever regaining power. driving Drakov crazy. and we get two DarkLords for the price of one, but two who are far more involved with the populace than that other duo, Adam and Mordenheim.
DeepShadow of FoS
Apparently part of Falkovnia's false history includes a female tyrant-queen known for the armor she wore, called the "Cruel Panoply." This armor may resurface in my game as an example of the dark side of female empowerment. Any suggestions for powers of the armor, or other ideas related to the original wearer?
Boris DrakovFear aura which only has an effect on men? Charm aura too maybe when the wearer wills it?
Picturing a fearsome Elizabeth the 1st in conquistador-style armor able to awe enemy men and inspire her male subjects by her mere presence.
Of course a curse too which slowly makes violence towards men so commonplace that the wearer must succeed a roll to avoid unneccessary male blood-shed when the opportunity arises.
For instance a squad of soldiers caught stealing liquor gets beheaded instead of merely whipped as the wearer deems the male sex as irredeemable anyway.
Perhaps the armor allows the wearer to build an army through seduction. Maybe something along the line of a Kizoku's Euphoria ability, effecting victims on a larger scale, only instead there is a vicious, mad loyalty and protective rage in her male victims.
Rotipher of the FoS
That sounds a lot like how War (as in the Four Horsemen) was portrayed in the Pratchett/Gaiman novel "Good Omens". In that book, War's incarnation was as a hot lady news correspondant who kept getting all the juiciest stories on military conflicts, because no sooner would she visit a country than a war would break out. All she had to do was smile at a group of males, and they'd start beating each other to a pulp.
She is described as being brutal and cruel. She also introduced the state-sponsored slavery that Falkovina has for non-humans. so its possible she might have had like many real tyrants tainted memories of them from childhood, for example a child of say semi-elven blood looked down on by her parent for her non-human or human ancestery to the point where she reacts to extremes for fear of others finding it out.
The armour itself is described as demonic looking, so a demonic background (perhaps a demonic pact for vengence) would not be unfitting, together with a mystical means for the armour to be defeated. Afterall she was defeated by the next ruler of Falkovnia, Falcon the Great, Falkovnia's own wizard-king (Vlad is the one that bumped him off)
DeepShadow of FoS
Okay, so the Cruel Panoply was the first to institute slavery of nonhumans. Geez, some of the slaves might be old enough to remember her, and their stories would hold her as bad or worse than Vlad. So that would be a good source for info.
I also noticed the demonic appearance of the armor, and immediately thought of demonic armor. The contagion ability made me wonder, could this armor be the source of some of the diseases in Falkovnia? Several of the recurring plagues mentioned in Gaz2 are fiendish in origin, and would have to be brought in by an outsider or by other magic like a contagion spell. Could this armor's diseases have lingered this long
Has anyone yet done any scenarios involving the Cruel Panoply's armor? Or anything else in which her existence (albeit as part of a falste history) is relevant? I'm thinking of sending my players on a /w/i/l/d/ /g/o/o/s/e/ /c/h/a/s/e/ quest for her armor.
IMC, quite a lot of that false history may actually be real history, only distorted. I've never cared for the idea that Ravenloft has no ancient history. It really robs the world of depth. I've taken care to integrate the histories and mytholgy of the various domains to a greater degree than is seen in canon. This is an ongoing process.
IMC Cruel Panoply's namesake suit of armor would really exist- for she would have really existed. Falkovnia is demonstrably much older than its current ruler. That doesn't mean everything written in old books of history or told in bards' tales is true- but there is more to the story than just Drakov.
DeepShadow of FoS
I think canon will back up the fact that "false" history does not mean there's no physicality to back it up. There are plenty of cases where so-called false history carries into the present reality.
My problem is with the name. False history implies that it's all a fraud, when that's only true from the perspective of surrounding domains. The people who appear in newly-formed domains have lives and memories that extend into a past of some kind. I imagine that when a new DL enters the Mists and creates a domain, the domain passes through real time in an instant, acquiring all the features that would come with all that "false" history.
With regard to the Cruel Panoply, IMC her armor will be real and the PC's will have a chance to find it. This will be part of a multi-part confrontation with a rising annis hag who wants to claim the armor and reestablish the Panoply's reign as queen.
Rotipher of the FoS
It's likewise possible that the DPs simply borrow their "false history" from the recalled histories of various people (darklord or otherwise) who've passed through the Mists' clutches over the centuries. Certainly, I cut and pasted the Grabenites' historical background from a number of different Norse-flavored cultures and chapters of Mystaran history. So the "Cruel Panolpy's" story might well have been a bit of recycling on the Dark Powers' part: an outlander villain who'd been taken up by Ravenloft decades before, and lasted long enough to earn a creepy name, yet not long enough to enter the Mists and become a darklord.
Interestingly, there's another reference to "demon armor" in a Ravenloft product: the black and red plate worn by the blackguard Rodjan Dilisnya, in LotB. As the donning of D&D magic armor is limited only by size and humanoid shape, not finer details like the wearer's sex, a DM could rule that it's the same suit. Perhaps the original villainess appeared in Barovia when it was still an IoT, died there, and passed her armor on to the then-hidden Dilisnyas?
DeepShadow of FoS
Yes, I've considered saying that Rodjan Dilisnya's armor is, in fact, the Cruel Panoply, but it rubs me the wrong way. The original armor would have been made for a woman, no matter how masculine, and while magic items in D&D sometimes reshape themselves for new owners, I think this diminishes the uniqueness of the item.
Really, I think it's a way to justify PC's being able to use whatever they find off the rack.
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