Domain of the Month
Second edition: Black Box (Realm of Terror)
I choose this domain as one of the great ex. domains, now absorbed. Many people want to play in it before year 740, but it has never been really described in length. I'd like to expand our adventure hook data bank into something larger for this lost domain: what do we know about Gundarak? Don't forget to write the source for your info, or say so if you invented the information.
Joël of the Fraternity
I start: From the Black Box : Gundarak included two cities, Zeidenburg and Teufeldorf (now in Barovia), plus Castle Hunadora (now in Invidia).
The taxes were heavy: even firewood was taxed. The harshest tax was on born girls: a heavy tax that the family had 15 years to pay, otherwise the girl was seized and brought to Gundar.
Once, a mob killed Gundar’s tax collector and stormed castle Hunadora. However, this night, all rebels were killed and their corpse suspended to orchard trees near the castle.
From Knight of the Black Rose
There is a portal in Castle Hunadora leading to an unknown place in the mists. It is opened when the blood of a Gundar family member is splashed on the marble.
Gundar had a son, the insane wizard Medraut.
Adv hook - something I used in a campaign (adapted from KotBR) : It works best if the players are outsiders. An undercover Strahd agent informs the players of a “secret” gate leading outside Ravenloft. Its trigger is the blood of a Gundar family member in the Hall of castle Hunadora. The Gundar family is depicted as evil, cruel and insane. Many layers of intrigue can be used: Strahd is using the undercover agent to sent the possibly dangerous PCs outside Barovia; Strahd uses the PCs to annoy Gundar by killing his son; Gundar is pleased to be rid of his insane dangerous son.
No adventure hook, just mentioning that the novel Tapestry of Dark Souls had some characters (Ivar and Dirca) who were escapees from Gundarak, and that some of the wretchedness of their lives there is described in a flashback.
Hmm, I guess I have a vague idea for an adventure, based off the description in Gaz I of a road in former Gundarak/ currently Barovian territory haunted by 'screaming spectres cleaved nearly in twain'. Perhaps a ghost who dismembers his victims with phantom weapons, killing them in the exact manner that he himself died; the ghost is himself little more than an upper torso and pair of arms. Reuniting his scattered remains and blessing them will lay the spirit to rest. Maybe the premise is a bit more gory horror than spooky horror, but it was a spur of the moment idea...
As you know Gundar, unlike all other vampires was aging and that scared him. What if Duke Gundar ordered to the black mages of Twisting Tower in Teufeldorf to find the secret of youth? What if the children, which were taken from parents for their inability to pay taxes, were used in the horrible experiments to prepare an essence of youth? The real heroes must try to stop it!
How about this (after Strahd annexed Gundarak): It's kinda heavy fighting dungeon crawl with horror elements!
Castle Hunadora is held by Malocchio's Soldiers and Gabrielle Aderre seeks brave heroes, who conquer Castle Hunadora in her name.
After much fighting and bleeding the heroes succeed and get the castle into the hands of the barovian/invidian freedom fighters.
But there is a locked door in the cellar of the castle. Behind it, stairs lead down into the darkness. In the dungeons of Hunadora are the experiments of Duke Gundar. Undead, aberrations and other monsters live and crawl in the tunnels benath the castle.
Duke Gundar's skeleton is in the possession of a certain weregorilla (Children of the Night: Werebeasts). If his stake is removed, he could easily try to reclaim his lands...
Drinnik Shoehorn: According to the adventure, the stake IS removed. It's DM's perogative if Gundar gets away at the end.
So, what do you guys/ladies think would happen if the Duke wrenched back his lands from Strahd? and how would that effect the core as a whole? Malocchio's Soldiers would certainly have a nasty time. that could be an awesome twist for pc's trying to take over the castle for Ms. Gabrielle Aderre.
Kartakan merchants would surely not refrain from selling weapons to the desperate sort of men who would run them into Barovia.
I have long imagined a small Kartakan hamlet a little east of the main road and very near the frontier. The Gundarakite resistance has caused a boom in the cottage industry of weapon manufacturing, has brought in a flood of stolen Barovian goods to pay for supplies and arms, has created a niche for poison manufacturing, perhaps with ties to Forlorn and its flora, and has filled the hamlet and its bar/inn with unsavoury types, resistors, profiteers, guides, spies, and of course bards, which is to say wolfweres.
A party could be hired to run weapons in and to bring refugees out. They could be hired to pull off a spectacular theft that would line the coffers of the resistance if only they can pull it off and make it back to the border. A darkling, who cannot of course cross the border himself, has always seemed to me to be one of the ideal central figures. And of course where Strahdt's spies, the Vistani come, Lukas' will go.
Given all the teenage girls who were dragged off to be blood-chattels by Gundar's men after their parents failed to pay up -- plus the infanticide, child abandonment, and so on that no doubt resulted, as callous parents tried to dodge the "daughter tax" -- it seems that Gundarak would be an ideal place for LOTS of female ghosts, wraiths, and other vengeful spirits of all kinds. For that matter, now that being born female is no longer a criminal offence for Gundarakites, plenty of LIVING females might be up for a little payback; imagine the sort of mayhem that a nasty villainess -- Lyssa von Zarovich, for example, or Gabby herself if she's finally fed up with all those pesky males who keep complicating her life -- could incite amongst the Gundarakite women whose daughters were taken away (or suffocated at birth by a cruel and misery husband), merely by spreading ideas and a few handy poison recipes.
Hook 1# : Gundarak has an unusual curse upon it due to their Lord's affliction. Vampires and other undead in the domain slowly regain the ability to do certain activities but gradually have their other hungers increase.
Hook 2# : Vlad Dracov has been secretly funding members of the former soldiers of Duke Gundar in Gunderak for some time now and is preparing to have a "far off" colony (that he might actually conquer since he can in no way directly coordinate the actions-which will only frustrate him more)
Hook 3# : The Bandit Gang of Duke Gundar finally reaches Gunderak and Strahd Von Zharovich is challenged to a duel for the countryside. Strahd intends however to use a new spell he's devised with the Book of Souls to transfer lordship of the domains (and his curse) to Gunderak.
This matter is complicated though because Gunder has kidnapped the current incarnatioon of Tatyana and fallen for her!
Gundar was aging? His curse is that he is aging?
Malus Black: No-one said he aged fast. I believe it was one year per decade or something along those lines - but to a creature used to the prospect of eternal existence, it must have been terrifying.
Rotipher: Are you sure you aren't thinking of Tristan apBlanc...? He ages one year for every ten, but that's because he's (by day) a living being. :-/
gonzoron: Gundar's aging non-canon, as far as I know, but I like it. It's from the BoSecrets article on him, as far as I can tell.
What was Gundar's level?
Malus Black: His writeup in the Book of Secrets put him as a 13th level Eminent Nosferatu fighter. I'm not sure what the canon answer is, or even if there is any.
In a lonely stretch of forest in Gundarak stands a crumbling tower of blackened stone, supposedly old even before Gundar ruled. It is believed curse, but few know the details; from time to time it is encircled in a ring of poisonous fog, and that's enough to deter visitors.
When fleeing Strahd on the night of the crescent moon, a paladin PC is advised to hide in the tower; apparently it is a blind spot in Strahd's ability to sense paladins. The PC is also warned to be gone before the crescent moon turns new.
Delayed, the character is forced to remain, and discovers the secret that has been hidden all these years: the tower has a master! A black-cloaked rider appears with the new moon, sends his sweat-lathered, coal-black steed to the pasture out back, and enters. Immediately he feels the chafe of the paladin's aura, but if the PC is quick, he may be able to escape, for the master of the tower cannot stray beyond a hundred yeards from the tower.
Not until the next crescent moon, when he mounts his coal-black horse and rides the Lonesome Road, searching for his head....
(P.S. This is a preview for my Headless Horseman revisited. Yes, his backstory belongs here in Gundarak, and while I won't say exactly why, he holds a razor-sharp clue in his hand when he rides....)
The PCs in an expedition or other adventure find a burned out book. Most of the book is unreadable. The parts that can be read seem to be written in Draconic. Studies about the undead and necromancy. However on the back cover of the book, the following is written (also in Draconic) with much more care and large letters.
"I'll burn, I'll destroy, I'll kill!
Further study of the remainings of the book turn up that for the Necrolyte to put up a base of opperations in a place with the right ethereal resonance, he should make his lab "in a land once ruled by a vampire and now in the hands of a vampire". . . i.e. Gundarak.
A society of Gundarakite Rebels fighting against Strahd and Barovia has become a collection of extremists! They have gathered around a powerful cleric that makes magic weapons to help them in their fight. Then, they take the war on Barovia acting as special saboteurs and terrorists. The cleric's hate on Barovians has pushed him in finding a way to make cheap and effective weapons against them. He has found a way to distilize Gundarak's resonance against females and his own hate against Barovians. A magic blade buried in the body of a Barovian maid and the corpse with the weapon buried in Gundarak's earth can be easily enchanted in a barovian Bane weapon(see below). The cleric has produced 3 Barovian bane blades and 9 lesser barovian bane blades that way.
The society operates in Barovian Gundarak to destabilize Strahd's authority and recruit agents, makes terrorist attacks in Barovia itself (more in order to take grim satisfaction in Barovians' suffering than anything else) and in neighbouring domains as adventurers and assassins to collect money and resources for their fight. The society is evil. Rationalizing their blind hate, the members will attack a weak adventuring party in Invidia for example to take their equipment to use in their "just" cause. If the party has a Barovian in the numbers so much the better. If not. . . then well, tough luck for them.
Barovian Bane weapon: A magic weapon that has been baptised in Barovian blood with the ritual described above, can be turned to Barovian Bane or a lesser Barovian bane weapon cheaper. A Barovian Bane magic weapon quality adds a +1 to the enchantment of the weapon. The weapon gives a +2 bonus on hit/damage rolls against all humans, but against Barovians it deals extra 2d6 damage. If the above ritual isn't used, the weapon will be just as expensive as a human bane weapon but less useful. However, if the above ritual is used (with the appropriate power check) the weapon costs 75% as much as it would. So a +1 human Bane longsword would cost 4000 gp and 320 XP while a +1 Barovian Bane longsword would cost 3000 gp and 240 XP.
Caster Level: 8th. Feats: Craft magic arms and armor. Spells: Greater magic weapon, bestow curse, summon monster I.
A Lesser Barovian Bane magic weapon quality adds a +1 to the enchantment of the weapon. The weapon gives a +1 bonus on hit/damage rolls against all humans, but against Barovians it deals extra 1d6 damage. If the above ritual isn't used, the weapon will be just as expensive as a human bane weapon but far less useful. However, if the above ritual is used (with the appropriate power check) the weapon costs 50% as much as it would. So a +1 human Bane longsword would cost 4000 gp and 320 XP while a +1 lesser Barovian Bane longsword would cost 2000 gp and 160 XP.
Caster Level: 8th. Feats: Craft magic arms and armor. Spells: Greater magic weapon, bestow curse, summon monster I.
The DM has to find a reason as to why the Extremists hate Barovians so much. Some could be victims of random brutalities made by the Barovians but the cleric should have a more defined reason.
PS. Don't ask why the SM I spell is needed in Bane weapons; I have no idea. The DMG has it as a prerequisite in Bane weapons. IMC this spell isn't needed.
Huma's Blade! I think I actually have a hook to add for once.
Having seen a traveler's sketch of a prostitute in another province (take your pick) that bears a striking resemblance to a daughter of his taken to Gundar's castle the year before, A Gundarakite man and his broad extended family are convinced that every girl siezed by Duke Gundar is being sold into sexual slavery across the borders. This rural urban legend rapidly becomes a widespread held belief that is drumming up rebellion in the countryside. Any PCs in the area find themselves smack-dab in the middle of an uprising.
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Send your adventure hooks to Joel@fraternityofshadows.com