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Now we revisit the land plagued by the white fever!

Created in 625
Moved during the Grand Conjunction (year 740). Part of the Core.

Darklord: Baron Urik von Kharkov

Second edition: Black Box (Realm of Terror), Red Box (RL Campaign Setting), Domains of Dread, Darklords
Third ed. info: RL3E / RLPH, Gaz 4
Adventure: Chilling Tales (Family Feud), Dungeon # 50 (Felkovic’s Cat), Dungeon #42 (The Price of Revenge), Dungeon # 52 (Laughing Man)
Novel: Tales of Ravenloft (Von Kharkov)



Here's a handful of characters I thought of for any number of articles or netbooks but never really got around to fleshing out. (As always, I'm not familiar with 3rd ed. rules, so I leave it to my betters to provide stats and such.)

The Lumberjack

There is an old wives tale still told in several of the smaller hamlets that dot the domain about a phantom lumberjack that prowls the forests searching for young maidens to carry away. Little girls are warned to run away if they ever hear the CHOMP, CHOMP, CHOMP of his axe. If they don’t, they are soon entranced by the rhythmic chopping and rush towards its source, never to be seen again. The Lumberjack resides in an enchanted grove deep within the forest. Anyone who succumbs to his charms is fated to join him there as part of an eerie gallery of trees that have anguished human faces carved within their trunks (which hold the souls of his victims).

For this one, I wanted to create a ghost using one of the unique forms outlined by Van Richten in his guide. I don’t feel that there’s enough non-standard ghosts out there…

The Moonchild

a giant orb of light that is said to wander the forests of Valachan. It is believed by some to be a sign of good luck, because its light can keep the creatures of the night at bay. Others say it drives whomever it comes in contact with mad. Actually, it is the ghost of a Sithican elf-maiden who was killed by a panther while on the way to a secret rendezvous with her Valachani lover. The great sense of loss she felt as she lay dying turned her into ghost of second magnitude. She cannot speak, but instead communicates by passing through a person’s body, revealing the scene of her death or the face of her lost love.

I originally planned on doing a QTR article on breweries of the Core. Here’s one example…

Butenlanse Brewery

A very profitable business based out of Rotwald that makes a heavy, but surprisingly sweet, lager that is popular all throughout Valachan as well the neighboring domains of Mordent and Verbrek. After drinking one or two bottles it produces a euphoric high. It is rumored that the owner, Frankin Butenlanse made a deal with the spirits of the forest, who actually add a potent hallucinogenic to the barrels in the middle of the night after all the workers have gone home.

I see Felkovic as a wonderful source of all sorts of aberrations that he developed as part of his scheme for revenge against Kharkov.

Felkovic’s Fungus Golem – one of the mad wizard’s more off beat experiments. Felkovic tried to create a being from the fungus that is so plentiful in the giant redwood forests around Helbenik. He worked for many years to find a stable formula, but eventually grew tired of the project and threw out all his materials. Out in the wild, however, his experiment took on a life of its own. It roams the forests now, looking like a walking patch of lichens. People are beginning to speak about a “Moss Man” that haunts the woods surrounding the city. It attacks anyone that comes near it by shooting spores that lodge in the victim’s throat and lungs. Its only weakness is fire.

This one’s kind of silly(based on a kid’s cartoon shown on Nickelodeon a few years back).

The Cat-Dog

An Invidian Paka that was infected by a Verbrek werewolf. Now, every full moon it turns into a vicious hybrid creature that is half-cat and half-wolf. It was exiled from its community, and has recently settled in Valachan (just across the border from Verbrek). The Black Leopards who patrol the area consider it to be nothing more than a legend told to new recruits. It is real, however, and is constantly seeking a way to cure its condition as well as protect its privacy.

Also, I've been toying with the idea of moving the domain closer to Darkon, so our not-so-lovable Baron will really have something to worry about with his old master right next door. Any other places you think it would fit in the Core? Maybe as an island in the Sea of Sorrows?



The felines of Valachan and the canines of Verbrek are engaged in a low-grade guerilla war.

The felines take the matter quite seriously for two reasons: first lord von Kharkov mistakenly believes that the hand of his former master, Azalin Rex, is secretly directing efforts against him and his land; and second the paka of Valachan believe that man and dog made an alliance long ago against cats and deem the extermination of canines to be an important step towards the extermination of the human race.

The canines approach the matter with less forethought: for them it is principally a matter of good sport and racial hatred; Timothy, however, has added a religious element, seeking cats to sacrifice on the alter of the Wolf-God.

Adventurers are most likely to be drawn into the conflict by the felines who are looking for expendable 'claws' that might be sent on near suicidal missions as well as for fodder generally.

Alternatively, they may simply seek to see to the security of innocents harried by werewolves, only to discover that those who would 'help' them in this are as monstrous as said wolves.

Finally, the Invidian resistance might well have a hand in stirring the pot, for this keeps werewolves busy in the west and so it is more difficult for Malochio to recruit them into his ranks.



There is an old wives tale that Valachani mothers pass on to their daughters that concerns giving birth. If a child is born on the full moon, it is said that a white-robed stranger will knock on the door of the house, asking to see the child mere minutes after birth. Mothers are obliged to welcome him in, for it is said that bad luck will fall on the entire family if he is turned away. If he is allowed in he examines the child by brushing a leaf of mistletoe all along the child from head to toe. No one knows exactly what he is looking for, but he always sends this strange ritual by shaking his head and quietly leaving. It is said a child so visited will grow up healthy and be safe from all harm from the wood spirits until they turn eighteen.

Who is this guy?

  • Well, he could just be a figment of imagination.
  • Or he could be a disaffected priest of Yutow, wandering the domain, waiting for the emergence of his god's reincarnated spirit that will come to restore the land and deliver his people from evil.
  • Or better yet (and, of course, this my fave) he is a very powerful Halite warlock, searching for a special disciple that has the strength of the Panther-Spirit, who he will train in the ways of The Weave, and who will turn out to be the only one with the power to truly destroy Baron Kharkov's despotic regime.


The Situation
Valachan never struck me as a satisfying domain, a fact which saddens me, since it seems that all domains that don't steal from some real world culture end up like this; nevertheless, it doesn't capture my imagination in the slightest, and there's no way I'd use it as is. As such, I re-envisioned the domain's culture as that of Spanish Mexico, for several reasons:

  • It lets Valachan keep a unique culture from the Core while letting it at the same time be technologically on par.
  • It gives the Core a bit of new world flavor (I am aware of Mictlan, but that domain is not one that is easy to get to)... and a place for all those new world foods to have come from.
  • The panthers actually make sense now.
  • The death themed holidays (such as la dia des muertos) and history (such as human sacrifices) and architecture (skull murals and carvings) have great potential.

The Problem: I don't know a whole lot about Spain OR Mexico.

The Question Posed to You (aka the important bit) : Any ideas, new world or old, to make the domain more cohesive and interesting to play in.

Here's what I have so far:

  • The thick redwoods have been replaced with rainforest, and Valachan has a lot of natural resources in great demand; silver, gold, chocolate, rubber, woods, coffee... it is, however, a tad isolated. It shares a border with Invidia, Kartakass, and Sithicus, so most trade has to go east through Hazlan.
  • Von Kharkov is a werepanther now. He is not a nosferatu, although they aren't uncommon. (In 4e, werepanthers would infect their victims with the white fever.) I'm a bit open on what else to do with Von Kharkov, however. I originally wrote him up as an iron fisted ruler who demanded his domain and people "modernize" the way he wanted them to, crushing most their old traditions and forcing them to work to industrialize the domain, yet at the same time he can't control his own bestial nature - I played up the panther side of him, but this dropped him right into "unfortunate implications-ville", since Von Kharkov is black and the word "whitewashed" was starting to spring into my mind. So I scrapped the entire idea and am not sure where to go now. I'm not sure if it's possible to do this without stepping on a few toes.
  • Nonetheless, a few old traditions survive. The Day of the Dead is, of course, classic. Von Kharkov and his enforcers can't stop the festival - bad luck seems to plague anyone unpopular who steps outside during this day. The other festival that has sprung up is Carnival, which happens every time Isolde's Carnival comes to Valachan. Von Kharkov doesn't dare confront the mistress of Carnival to stop the festival.
  • Other cultural ideas included bullfighting (or some other large dangerous animal), large, colorful murals, and loud, upbeat music. I also had the idea of masked warriors (along the lines of the luchadores) being common, although they would NOT fight via wrestling (tell me you can think of someone pile-driving a werewolf with a straight face).

Other suggestions and ideas would REALLY be appreciated, because otherwise this project is going to die a slow painful death.

Rotipher of the FoS

Well, the whole point to Von Kharkov, IMO, has always been the fact that he's a beast which was forced to act human, and has convinced himself that he ought to be human, yet can't give up his feral impulses. Even if his origin-story is rewritten, it'd be nice to retain that element of conflict in, and frustration with, his nature; in a sense, he's the flip side to Harkon Lukas, who revels in being a beast-in-man's-clothing.

Perhaps he can remain a panther (= black jaguar) who was transformed into a man, but by a cult rather than an evil wizard? Maybe worshippers of Tezcatlipoca transformed him to serve as a living avatar of their jaguar-god, both to be paraded about before the masses and to perform ritual sacrifices. Retaining a jaguar's violent streak, he was content with his lot for a time, but eventually found himself developing human-like feelings of pride, ambition, and desire. When he found himself attracted to a virgin who'd been designated for sacrifice, he defied the priests who'd directed him to kill her, and viciously attacked them; however, with the grisly death of the priests, the magics that kept him transformed were broken and he reverted to jaguar-form. Enraged to lose his "divine" shape, he took it out on the maiden he'd been lusting after, thus proving himself no better than a beast at heart, despite all his conceits and pretensions.

As IRL priests of Tezcatlipoca often painted themselves black, emulating their deity -- patron of night and obsidian, among other things -- having Von Kharkov remain black-skinned would be consistent with this altered backstory and cultural motif. His name, of course, would have to be changed, unless you want to say that "Von Kharkov" is a Balok-speaker's clumsy attempt to render his real (Spanish or Nahuatl) name using Slavic phonemes.

High Priest Mikhal

Patron of the night sky, night winds, the earth, obsidian, the north, enmity, discord, divination, temptation, sorcery, beauty, war, and strife. Granted Von Kharkov doesn't have to represent each aspect of the Smoking Mirror (Tezcatlipoca's name when translated from Nahuatl) I can easily see him as embodying the night sky (his love of the night), the night winds (as a black leopard, which do exist IRL, he'd be swift and silent and nearly invisible), and of course enmity, temptation, and (internal) strife. Good choice, Rotipher! Quite a good fit. If he is a product of Tezcatlipoca, it'd make sense his DR is obsidian as well (I'm too lazy to look up what wereleopard DR is, but I think it already is obsidian).

Just had to put my two cents in. Being a mestizo, or person of mixed European and Native American descent, I find it fascinating to study the two very different halves of my ancestry and how they've interacted to form the cultures I grew up with. This post just piqued my curiosity, and I must say I like what I see so far.


Well, I considered the fact that Von Kharkhov was originally a panther to be the most expendable part of his backstory, mostly because it doesn't seem to be working very well for him right now. I'm not determined to toss it, but I'm not very attached to it either.

One thing I did want to keep was Kon Kharkhov's connection to the Core before Valachan, because there isn't an actual Spain in the Core - and since Valachan is parked by Nova Vassa, Pharazia and Hazlan (in my new map, anyway) the cultural influence from those domains, combined with a heavy dose of Richemulot or Borca, could help to shape Von Kharkov before he formed his own domain, and explain the seepage of certain cultural ideas into Valachan.

This is where I got into trouble before, since I started with the concept that Von Kharkov's repressive nature might instead manifest in him trying to act "civilized" by Dementlieuse standards, which turned him into an oppressive dictator that demanded his people become "modern", except he himself couldn't control his own bestial nature. It got even worse when I realized that Von Kharkhov, being a panther, probably preferred the livelier culture of his own people to that of the Four Towers, who felt that sitting still and listening to people sing for three hours was the epitome of a good time. All of this was a Very Bad Idea, so I scrapped the whole thing.

The connection to Tezcatlipoca was part of the reason for the shift to Mexico, as well as the similarity of the appearance of Valachan's natives.

I don't know enough of Spanish or Nahuatl to even try to make a proper name for him that sounds like Von Kharkov, although if it had to be one it'd be Nahuatl; the chances of someone calling me on an unrealistic Aztec name is considerably less than a unrealistic Spanish one.

I would also be interested in any traditions or other cultural tidbits to make the domain somewhat more 3D, or even Ravenloft twists to ideas already out there; for example, I know that the Day of the Dead has amusing little plays where Death runs around dropping pianos and things on unpopular people. I figure in Ravenloft these plays might have a little more power to them, which is one of the big reasons the celebrations haven't been shut down.

The Whistler

One thing that I'd planned on doing if I ever get around to starting the campaign I had in mind was to: A) steal the Valachan-as-colonial-Latin-America idea (saw you mention the concept in an earlier post and it "worked" for me too ), and B) end-run around the above problem by rewriting Richemulot along the lines of Cervantine/Shakespearean baroque Spain. Granted, that decision mostly stemmed from me being a Lit major with a thing for Quixote, but it solves a lot of problems as regards Valachan: you figure a bunch of Richemuloise make a land rush into the jungle as the domain appears, and you get a nice bunch of readymade colonizers for Von Kharkov to exploit.

Anyway, that doesn't look like it'll work for the Core plan you're going for, but on that topic: how are you planning on working the colonizer/native dynamic in your version of of the domain? Is there a well-defined "colonist class," (and if so, how is it defined) or is it basically just Von Kharkov's own personal modernization project, which some people agree with and some don't? Were there colonizers in Kharkov's homeworld, or do their presence in his domain reflect just his desire for order as opposed to his actual memories?


I figured Von Kharkov would stay in official charge, with his enforcers and administrators composing what "upper class" there is in Valachan. So, basically, if you want a better life for yourself, and don't mind selling your soul, you join the Baron's Men. That probably make Valachan's government more militant than it was originally, but since it's sitting next to Invidia and Sithicus on my map that's not incongruous. Seeing as Von Kharkov has the biggest military force in the domain, I suppose the colonist class could be defined as "the guys with the guns". The Baron's Men are probably composed of a lot of like-minded folk, or those who just enjoy power, and also have a lot of werepanthers(jaguars). This is because the people who get close to the Baron tend to become werejaguars. (In 4e you can't be infected, but that's what rituals are for. It's better that way if you want to connect the werejaguars to Tezcatlipoca.)

I suppose the nosferatu might also be around; I'm not sure whether to keep them on.

Now, I'm not sure just how far Von Kharkov's control extends. In the Gaz I got the impression the theme of the domain was "he can control everything except himself", and it seemed like he was doing too good a job, because I'm not sure what you would do in his domain except be eaten by vampires. So I'm not sure to keep it that way or have the domain reflect his uncontrollable nature as well. It wouldn't even have to be the people rebelling against him; rainforest has a habit of overruning areas if it isn't kept in check.

Knowing whether there were colonizers in Von Kharkov's homeworld would require me to figure out his backstory.

Gonzoron of the FoS

While I agree it's a little sketchy to have RL's only black darklord be a savage trying to act civilized, I think if you throw out that aspect of Von Kharkov, you don't have much left to work with. He is the beast who thinks himself a man, that's his shtick. It's unfortunate that it has racist overtones when you find out he's black, but you can't get around it it without a) making him white, or b) making him a different character.

Maybe it's not as offensive as it seems. After all, we still use Drow, even though "black elves are an evil race" seems even worse. (come to think of it, Tristessa's black too, so he's not the only one.) I dunno, I'm not black, so I may not be the best judge.

What if you base him on a specific evil guy, historical or fictional, who happened to be black, who happened to really be a monster pretending at civilization. Say Idi Amin for example? (That I'm drawing a blank on any other examples is probably a good thing. ) By locking him down to "Ravenloft's version of ____," you avoid the racist implications and get a bunch of background to loot while you're at it.

I dunno, I'm not too keen on him in the first place, and don't really use him or his domain, so I guess anything you do would be an improvement. (Which was basically my opinion on the Gaz. It's something, so it's an improvement.) But I feel like if you remove his pantherhood, you remove the only interesting thing about him.


On the brighter side, in my revisions, Misroi is also black. So at the very least he won't be the ONLY one. Perhaps he could be connected to Markovia for his origin story, given Markov is a ripoff of Dr. Moureau. The other option I has was that he was a Kargat experiment or something. I feel as it is currently it's hard to empathize Von Kharkov, and I feel that empathy is one of the more crucial parts of a Darklord.

I didn't really see Von Kharkov being a liberator turned despot, but I imagined him as trying to modernize his country to "keep up", even if he has to oil his machinery with the blood of his people. I'm sure there must be some historical figure like that but I'm not sure I know it. I guess you could tangentially say Jean-Jacques Dessalines, but not really, to be honest.

I'll post what I wrote before:

Baron Urik Von Kharkov

Urik Von Kharkov is a tall, sleek, handsome man appearing to be in his mid-thirties. He has black skin, meticulously groomed black hair, and strangely attractive yellow eyes. He speaks with a smooth baritone voice, which he keeps carefully controlled unless he is excited. When he sits still, he exudes an aura of restless energy, when he moves, it is with silence and grace. Von Kharkov's dress varies day by day; some days he wears full regalia or the latest fashion from Dementlieu, other days he has stripped off the coats, vests, and frills to dress loosely and freely. He is pleasant and complacent, almost smug, in demeanor, unless he feels he is being challenged - he then becomes confrontational and aggressive.

Von Kharkov's behavior is a mess of contradictions at best. He demands discipline from his police force but remains unfettered by any schedule or organization himself. He demands the most elegant fashions to dress himself in, then tears off bits and pieces until he is comfortable in it, at which point he demands another set of clothing. He is delighted by mechanical contraptions, but is either unable or unwilling to learn the intricacies of mechanics himself. He has orchestras perform concertos for him, but quickly grows bored and fidgety during them, and rarely sits through a performance. His Castle is fastidiously clean but haphazardly arranged.

The Baron does not like to be goaded into combat, preferring to have the Black Leopards deal with any trouble. When he is cornered and forced to fight, he does so almost joyfully, reveling in the experience, and he becomes almost impossible to talk down until he has killed something.

Current Sketch

Von Kharkov has declared himself Baron of Valachan, and has set about trying to modernize the realm to his liking. Unfortunately, the natives have proven resistant to his efforts; although they are obedient to the Baron, they quickly revert to their traditional ways unless forced to do otherwise. Von Kharkov views this behavior with contempt and considers his own people to be backwater savages, who must be forced to become civilized, even against their own will.

But at the same time Von Kharkov prefers their lively music, dance, and festivals, as well as the excitement bullfighting and other sport. He visibly grows excited when he hears the more upbeat music of the street musicians, but has banned them from playing in his presence. When the moon is full, Von Kharkhov sometimes divests himself of his guards and finery and watches from afar, but never joins in.

This is the paragraph I really had to take out. It would make sense for Von Kharkov to prefer the livelier dance and sport to the Four Tower's idea of culture, but... yeah.>

Von Kharkhov is a miserable creature trying to civilize his land when he cannot even civilize himself. His uncomfortable veneer of calmness and poise often breaks under pressure, which fills him with self-recrimination every time it occurs. This is never more apparent than in tragic personal life. There are few people with delusions of being able to refuse Von Kharkov when he asks for a woman's hand in marriage, and he tries his best to be a perfect gentleman. But he will invariably begin to second-guess himself, fighting between being himself or acting in a manner he considers dignified, straining Von Kharkov until he begins to resent his wife for not loving him (even if she does), and eventually snaps and kills his wife. Although his subjects, and Von Kharkov himself, are horrified at this brutal behavior, it has not stopped Von Kharkov from marrying any young woman who catches his eye.


It's an interesting variation, that's for sure.

My own conception of Valachan is very different- and possibly a bit closer to canon. It's a region of temperate rain forest and mountains- like Western OR, perhaps. In that context, the panthers make perfect sense. We've got plenty of panthers back home in Oregon, after all.

Panther= just another name for a North American Mountain Lion, in much of the country. AKA catamount, puma, cougar, lion.

Mexico has both mountain lions and jaguars. Jaguars used to live well inside the boundaries of the US, into the early 19th century.


Urik von Kharkov is very definitely a German from Russia, even if black. I would suggest modelling him on a Baltic German nobleman, Baron Ungern von Sternberg, Great Khan of Mongolia and an avatar of Black Mahakala; you will get a poetic madman and liberator-despot ready made.


Beasts, Men and Gods by Ferdinand Ossendowski

"At the entrance my eyes were struck with the sight of a pool of blood that had not yet had time to drain down into the ground—an ominous greeting that seemed to carry the very voice of one just gone before me. I knocked.

"Come in!" was the answer in a high tenor. As I passed the threshold, a figure in a red silk Mongolian coat rushed at me with the spring of a tiger, grabbed and shook my hand as though in flight across my path and then fell prone on the bed at the side of the tent.

"Tell me who you are! Hereabouts are many spies and agitators," he cried out in an hysterical voice, as he fixed his eyes upon me. In one moment I perceived his appearance and psychology. A small head on wide shoulders; blonde hair in disorder; a reddish bristling moustache; a skinny, exhausted face, like those on the old Byzantine ikons. Then everything else faded from view save a big, protruding forehead overhanging steely sharp eyes. These eyes were fixed upon me like those of an animal from a cave. My observations lasted for but a flash but I understood that before me was a very dangerous man ready for an instant spring into irrevocable action.


"I ask your pardon. . . . You must understand there are so many traitors! Honest men have disappeared. I cannot trust anybody. All names are false and assumed; documents are counterfeited. Eyes and words deceive. . . . All is demoralized, insulted by Bolshevism. I just ordered Colonel Philipoff cut down, he who called himself the representative of the Russian White Organization. In the lining of his garments were found two secret Bolshevik codes. . . . When my officer flourished his sword over him, he exclaimed: 'Why do you kill me, Tavarisch?' I cannot trust anybody. . . ."

He was silent and I also held my peace.

"I beg your pardon!" he began anew. "I offended you; but I am not simply a man, I am a leader of great forces and have in my head so much care, sorrow and woe!"


"Now I shall tell you about myself, who and what I am! My name is surrounded with such hate and fear that no one can judge what is the truth and what is false, what is history and what myth. Some time you will write about it, remembering your trip through Mongolia and your sojourn at the yurta of the 'bloody General.'"

He shut his eyes, smoking as he spoke, and tumbling out his sentences without finishing them as though some one would prevent him from phrasing them.

"The family of Ungern von Sternberg is an old family, a mixture of Germans with Hungarians—Huns from the time of Attila. My warlike ancestors took part in all the European struggles. They participated in the Crusades and one Ungern was killed under the walls of Jerusalem, fighting under Richard Coeur de Lion. Even the tragic Crusade of the Children was marked by the death of Ralph Ungern, eleven years old. When the boldest warriors of the country were despatched to the eastern border of the German Empire against the Slavs in the twelfth century, my ancestor Arthur was among them, Baron Halsa Ungern Sternberg. ...

"In the beginning of the eighteenth century there was also a well-known Baron Wilhelm Ungern, who was referred to as the 'brother of Satan' because he was an alchemist. My grandfather was a privateer in the Indian Ocean, taking his tribute from the English traders whose warships could not catch him for several years. At last he was captured and handed to the Russian Consul, who transported him to Russia where he was sentenced to deportation to the Transbaikal. I am also a naval officer but the Russo-Japanese War forced me to leave my regular profession to join and fight with the Zabaikal Cossacks. I have spent all my life in war or in the study and learning of Buddhism. My grandfather brought Buddhism to us from India and my father and I accepted and professed it. In Transbaikalia I tried to form the order of Military Buddhists for an uncompromising fight against the depravity of revolution." ... "In the Buddhistic and ancient Christian books we read stern predictions about the time when the war between the good and evil spirits must begin. Then there must come the unknown 'Curse' which will conquer the world, blot out culture, kill morality and destroy all the people. Its weapon is revolution. During every revolution the previously experienced intellect-creator will be replaced by the new rough force of the destroyer. He will place and hold in the first rank the lower instincts and desires. Man will be farther removed from the divine and the spiritual. The Great War proved that humanity must progress upward toward higher ideals; but then appeared that Curse which was seen and felt by Christ, the Apostle John, Buddha, the first Christian martyrs, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Goethe and Dostoyevsky. It appeared, turned back the wheel of progress and blocked our road to the Divinity. Revolution is an infectious disease and Europe making the treaty with Moscow deceived itself and the other parts of the world. The Great Spirit put at the threshold of our lives Karma, who knows neither anger nor pardon. He will reckon the account, whose total will be famine, destruction, the death of culture, of glory, of honor and of spirit, the death of states and the death of peoples. I see already this horror, this dark, mad destruction of humanity."

I would make von Kharkov a representative of an old bloody family of werepanthers, cursed with the involuntary transformation into the black panthers. Von Kharkov made various experiments to destroy the Curse (as he called it). He considered it an intelligent power, a great enemy of the whole humanity, which particularly afflicted his family. Because of this, it was his destiny and duty to be the representative of whole mankind in opposing and defeating it.

His attempts were pretty radical, involving narcotics, a military cult and a lot of deaths - and succeeded to a point. He managed to become a vampire and a Darklord. He liberated Valachan from a cruel barbarian army (servants of the Curse, in his view) and now rules it, but is always suspicious of their counterrattack - and his suspicion is deadly. He is forever battling with the Curse both within himself and in his domain; the second battle is much more successful.

The locals fear and worship him; he is a murderous tyrant, but his opponents were much worse. The history of the domain is not known, because it was destroyed by them; they even forbid people to use their surnames, so that no one knows to which clan and family he belongs. Little remain of the ancient religion, since all priests were killed; von Kharkov, who revived it, is currently its high priest and living god.



German by way of Russia? Perfect for my version.

My conception of Valachan owes a wee bit to the notion of an alternate Oregon Country in which the Russians, not the Americans or British, became the dominant force. In this view, The Vaasi are sort of Russian-like, and the original Valachani natives [now largely absorbed by the incoming Vassi colonizers] are more like the coastal Indians of the Pacific NW. The tech level is medeival, though, not 19th century.

Isn't that a bit like the offical portrayal? I don't have that GAZ, but aren't there some Haida elements in the Arthaus canon Valachan?

Isabella- I really like your Valachan as Mexico/New Spain idea. I do humbly suggest some name changes are in order, though. Why not give Von Kharkov a Spanish name? Change the names of the towns, as well. Just a suggestion. [/u]


Well, the simple answer there is that I don't know Spanish.

(And given how often some of the names have been mocked around here, I'd like to avoid driving off that road as well.)

If I did give him a Spanish name, I'd prefer to give him a name as close to "Von Kharkov" in sound as possible, simply so I can remember it.

I don't even remember what the original town names are. The old Valachan just seemed... generic to me.


Well, I'll never make fun of your Spanish name selection, Isabella.

Just flip through a book on New Spain, I'd say.

I'm looking at names, to see if I can help.

Urik is a weird name. I'm not certain it's even a real name to begin with, actually. Ulrich- now that is a real name. I've seen the DL's name shown both ways- Urik and ULrich- which is it?

The Giamarga

Well iirc, canon-wise Urik hails from the Forgotten Realms, he was a panther who got turned into a man by a wizard of Thay. That wizard probably also named him. I'll have to reread the short story in Tales of Ravenloft.


It's Urik von Kharkov. When I googled the name Urik I got the a music producer, some facebook profiles, and a town in Russia. So it looks like it's a real name, although in all instances I saw it in it was a last name.

If von Kharkov originally came from some other domain (Markovia, maybe, although that's second ed. and you can't get it for anything these days so I don't actually know anything about it) the name would make sense. But a similar sounding Spanish name would probably be better.

In the end, I feel von Kharkov has to be as much a man as anyone else, or else he makes a poor darklord, so whatever his great sin was, it seems like it should be the crime of a man, not a beast; though he certainly blames it on his bestial nature, it was an act born of pride, or resentment, or jealousy, what he convinced himself he had to do in order to be "civilized." In that regard, Rotipher's story is closer to what I'm looking for than the original, although I don't really feel any sympathy for von Kharkov for that nasty bit of murder. Perhaps something a little more tragic? His current crimes will probably be based on the acts he takes to modernize his domain and his people, even if he has to oil his machines with blood, so maybe something that ties into that. He'll probably also remain a bit of a control freak, although not nearly to the extent that the nosferatu von Kharkov was.

Rotipher of the FoS

The Kargat who'd turned him had a pseudo-Slavic name, IIRC. Even if "Urik" is a Thayvian name -- i.e. Generic Vague Greenwood-Fantasy-Worldish -- the canon Von Kharkov's surname was probably given to him while he was a nosferatu's slave in Darkon.


It's not really that difficult. Erik is a name that also exists in Spanish, albeit it's not very common (And with the cultural mix in colonial Mexico, I would guess a "Urik" would be tollerated... My name is Wolfgang Kook, and I'm from Colombia, after all). The name Uriel comes to mind. It's uncommon but not unheard of in Colombia... perhaps it would translate well into Mexico.

The "Von" part could easily be translated to "Don", a common title for lesser lords in the colony (And nowadays, a title that denotes respect, much like the english "Sir"), and easily recognizable to anyone who has watched the Zorro movies/books, or the Godfather.

As for the "Kharkov" part, there's where the problem starts, as it doesn't translate very easily to spanish. Usually, in spanish, "Ks" are replaced by "Cs" (The reason behind my last name usually been spelled "Cook"), the "H" is mute, but would have a sound when combined with the "C", so I would omit it... Maybe "Carpio"? It's not a very common last name, but it does sound close to Kharkov in spanish...

Don Uriel del Carpio, a.k.a. "Don Carpio"... Mmmm... To sound really like a mexican colonizer, it lacks a last name ("Del Carpio" sounds like a land title, which would translate like "From the Carpians"). Something like "Don Uriel Álvarez del Carpio", or something like that.


Carrascón, maybe? How would either be pronounced, anyway?


I like Don being used as an honorific. What about Carcas as a surname? It's a French/Occitan name [actually derived from Hebrew, I think] but I seem to recall that it's also a Spanish surname.

Don Carcas is a fair stand in for Von Khrakov?

I really like Wolfgang's notion of using Uriel for his first name.


Carpio would be pronounced Kar-pee-o, with a very wide "a" (like in "Hag"), the "r" pronounced as with an scottish accent, and a very short "ee".

Carrascón is much more complex... I guess it would be pronounced Kar-Raz-Kon, with the same conventions on the first syllable, the "Raz" part as in "Rascal", and the "Kon" as in "Contract". The exact pronunciation of the double "r" in spanish (rr) has a reverberating sound to it that's very dificult for english speakers...

Edit: The "Raz" part is a latin-american convention, as the "s" would be pronounced like "z" in most of south-america. In Spain, the sound would be a little closer to "sh".

Phew! Imagining how to describe the pronunciation of words in your own language is tougher than I imagined! I could record myself saying them, if you prefer...

But Don Uriel Carrascón (Or Don Uriel del Carrascón) sounds good, closer to the sound of Urik Von Kharkov than Carpio, and -unlike Carcas -I have heard it (To be precise, "Carrasco" is more common than "Carrascón", but this one has a great colony sound to it).


I like it.

I've been reading a lot of Spanish names of late because I am studying Latin American history [pre-Columbian to the early 1800s].

Gonzoron of the FoS

Carcas has the unfortunate connotation of carcass, as well.

Rotipher of the FoS

Since when is an "unfortunate [i.e. morbid] connotation" an undesirable thing, in the Ravenloft setting? If names like "Mordenheim" can cut it....


Yeah, I'd considered that. I actually like Carascon better- but this is Isabella's variant.

IMC, Valachan is more Russo-Nordic-Chinookian. I've considred giving it a coastline, even...


Don Uriel Carrascón, suits me fine (with some other names tossed in the middle if he's feeling official, I guess). Since Valachan is currently sitting in the lower middle of the Core, it's likely all of the Vaasi and Balok speaking domains corrupted his name into "Von Kharkov" (and maybe that was his name, at one point), while the Mordentish speaking domains who might actually be able to pronounce that "rr" can call him Don Carrascón.

Okay, so we have a name. Anyone want to help me tackle the rest of the domain? Wolfkook, I recall you had some plans for a New World Gazetteer a while back?

I think the true problem with Valachan was less the generic culture and more the fact it had no significance to anyone but Von Kharkov. S summed it up best in her report: "Valachan is clearly a willfully backward realm, whose isolated position and isolationist policies prevent it from ever becoming a key player in the broader world." There doesn't seem to be any reason to go there. I'm hoping that Don Carrascón's aspirations to modernize will let him actually play with other people.

Here's some things I wanted Valachan to be up to:

  • For one thing, Valachan would have to interact with Hazlan and Kartakass on a regular basis to get the manufactured goods they need. I don't think Valachan has anything in the way of hard metals, for one, which Hazlan has (and Hazlan seems pretty short on timber). Valachan also doesn't have the industrial power to manufacture all the goods it needs, meaning it has to import them via the Musarde river.
  • On the other hand, if Don Carrascón can keep himself from being reamed over by the other domains diplomats, he's sitting on one of the richest domains in the Core. Having a new world climate means it can export all its new world foods - peppers, tomatoes, etc. I imagine that coffee and rubber and chocolate would be great exports, along with colorful birds and exotic species, and probably a whole lot of silver.
  • I don't really want Don Carrascón's control to be as absolute as Von Kharkov's. In cannon Valachan, it seemed like he'd pretty much succeeded in his control freak plans and there wasn't much else for him to do. I figure something has to be screwing up Don Carrascón's attempts to modernize, even if that requires breaking from the "darklord's theme shapes his domain" gold standard. The people of Valachan aren't too keen on modernization, but I don't want the domain to be overrun with rebels like Falkovnia and Invidia; obviously there will be some resistance fighters but I figure most resistance is passive in nature. Maybe the jungle itself keeps overgrowing the domain.
  • I'm also not sure if the term "colonial" quite applies, since Don Carrascón isn't trying to exploit his country - he's trying to make it a Core power (something else which might create adventure ideas, since I doubt any of the other Darklords want that). Then again, there's probably some form of hereditary nobility - probably werejaguar bloodlines.

Given that the domain would also have a particular fascination with the spirits of the dead, a slew of old gods who might still be lurking about, the legacy of human sacrifice from the old days (a legacy that certainly might make Don Carrascón's attempt to "civilize" his people a bit more sympathetic), remnants of the old culture deep within the jungle resisting Don Carrascón's rule, and ancient mysterious ruins, I would like to think that this makes the domian slightly more worth going to, although I would still like help with the culture. Dios des Muertos can only take you so far (although it's a great thing to base the "feel" of the domain on).

So I where does that leave me for Don Carrascón's background? I have absolutely no idea.


Yeap, but that project proved too big to undertake, so I moved to rewriting all of Ravenloft (To be honest, I'm thinking on taking that project into a simpler direction that what I intended on the first place).

What can I help you with?

The darklord's theme could shape the domain. Don Carrascón is a beast trying too hard to be human (And failing to accept its true nature), his domain can be a reflection of that: As the darklord attempts to bring modernity to the domain, the jungle and the culture of the people (Who are savage and violent, prone to fall prey to their most basic instincts, with a bad temper and still follow some of the tenets of what remains of their brutal religion) prevent him from achieving his goal.


Well I still need help with the culture; everyone got hung up on Von Kharkov! I don't know if any of the domains are as advanced as the new Valachan would be, but the rainforest probably contains a lot of old cultural artifacts. A nahuatl replacement for Yutow might be good as well, and any other gods that might still linger in the people's consciousness (Tezcatlipoca, for one, will probably be seeing a lot of use, as well as Mictecacihuatl, who is supposedly the reason for the Day of the Dead).

I wouldn't say the people are all savage and violent; for one thing, this place is right next to Invida, for another, I'm already worried I'll get yelled at for Don Carrascón Let's say the original resistance to Don Carrascón came from him knocking over the ruling class and upsetting all the people who benefited from the system (making him not entirely unlike Cortez) - and then he started trying to stamp out all the old culture and upset everyone. Now that his people are practically slaves, they probably sabotage his work passively, while the forest does so actively. Still, the northern part of Valachan is probably quite modern for the standards of the Core.

Alright, let's start my revision of Don Carrascón. One of the things that I did get from the Gaz is that Von Kharkov seemed to have some serious Obsessive-compulsive personality symptoms, and I don't think that's a bad thing to keep for Don Carrascón. Of course, he's a wild animal at heart and his behavior often isn't orderly, so some of the symptoms wouldn't apply - any attempt at list making would probably result in him crumpling up the paper and throwing it against the wall, for example.

I like interconnecting domains, so let's say Don Carrascón was a Hazlani experiment (at which point he probably had a different name - Hazlan always gave me a slight Middle Eastern vibe, so we'll say his name was Karakul, aka Caracal). Maybe he was an imported jaguar, so his homeland would still be mirrored by Valachan. He fit in pretty well with the Rashemi, and the Mulani wizard who made him enjoyed using him to terrify his slaves when he felt they were slacking off. Maybe he also used Don Carrascón to knock off rivals who didn't expect a slave to suddenly turn into a 400lb cat. At some point the Mulani went too far, and magically forced Don Carrascón to murder an innocent woman while she begged for mercy. Don Carrascón had liked said woman, and the wizard lost control of his pet; Don Carrascón tore him to shreds.

After the rage settled, Don Carrascón felt pretty sick about the entire affair; he was confused and suddenly without a master, and smart enough to know what happened to Mulani experiments that were deemed dangerous. As luck would have it, he was rescued by another Mulani wizard (who perhaps felt sorry for the poor creature, or didn't like his former master, or maybe s/he just liked cats). His new master tried to teach him how to be human; unfortunately, that education involved a lot of the Lawgiver's teachings, with ideas of divine right and brutal punishments for those who disobeyed. Don Carrascón became convinced he was in the wrong for the murder of his master, who had only been exercising the will of the Lawgiver. At the same time, he could not justify what had happened to the young woman to himself. Wracked with guilt, Don Carrascón traveled about the Core, hoping to learn how to behave properly.

Outside of Hazlan, Don Carrascón received a great deal contradictory information on what was "civilized" behavior and was introduced to Dementlieuse high culture. Don Carrascón personally hated all of it, a failing he attributed to his savage and bestial nature. As he tried harder to force himself to fit in, he became slightly neurotic, gaining an idealized idea of true humanity. He began to hold himself to impossible rigid standards, recriminating himself whenever he slipped, even if that slip was relatively minor in nature.

I am not sure how he found himself in his domain of Valachan, but when he saw the human sacrifices and violent culture practiced by the ruling class of the natives, he took it upon himself to "civilize" the domain. He led the lower class and slaves and took control of the domain, but the natives soon found he was not content with this, and was determined to remake the entire domain in his idea of what it should be like, stamping out the old culture and religions. When the natives resisted, Don Carrascón became brutal in his tactics.

Don Carrascón's factory conditions are poor, and his enforcements harsh. He holds others to his same impossible standards he holds himself. So, for instance, his habit of killing his wives is partially due to his constant self-recrimination, and partially due to his excessive expectations. Whenever he finds his wife (who he has probably overly idealized) has any particular flaw in her personality, it triggers a downward spiral in his relationship that ends with him killing her.

Once again, I'm worried I'm in "you can get yelled at for this" territory, but I suppose the people mentioning the drow had a point.

Comments/concerns/additions/subtractions welcome.


Anyone have any further thoughts on Von Kharkov/Don Carrascon? One of the major issues with the backstory I tried to write for him is his methods from the Gaz aren't really reconcilable with it. For instance, why would he want werejaguars as his lackeys to remind him of the native culture he stamped out and his own failings? I could make him like Doc Duvalier but that also seems to run against the idea of his theme (as opposed to before, where his theme is "control", meaning he'd employ any means).

I'd also like to find some way of tying him to the religion of the domain, especially Tezcatlipoca, whether he likes it or not (and I doubt he does). Some of the notes claim he tests mankind by trying to tempt them, so perhaps Don Carrascon's high standards could play into that. Some notes of interest I found over the web:

Tezcatlipoca’s main feast was during Toxcatl, the fifth month of the Aztec calendar. The preparations began a year earlier, when a young man was chosen by the priests, to be the likeness of Tezcatlipoca. For the next year he lived like a god, wearing expensive jewellery and having eight attendants. He would marry four young women, and spent his last week singing, feasting and dancing. During the feast where he was worshipped as the deity he personified he climbed the stairs to the top of the temple on his own where the priests seized him and sacrificed him, his body being eaten later. Immediately after he died a new victim for the next year’s ceremony was chosen. Tezcatlipoca was also honoured during the ceremony of the 9th month, when the Miccailhuitontli "Little Feast of the Dead" was celebrated to honour the dead, as well as during the Panquetzaliztli "Raising of Banners" ceremony in the 15th month.

The patron god of helpless folk such as orphans and slaves, he was also the patron of royalty, and he gloried in war and human sacrifice. Another of Tezcatlipoca's roles was to punish sinners and cheats, but he himself could not be trusted. Although associated with the sun, Tezcatlipoca was even more strongly linked with night and its dark mysteries, including dreams, sorcery, witches, and demons. Legend said that he roamed the earth each night in the form of a skeleton whose ribs opened like doors. If a person met Tezcatlipoca and was bold enough to reach through those doors and seize his heart, the god would promise riches and power in order to be released. He would not keep his promises, though.

Might be some potential for inspiration there.

Rotipher of the FoS

Convenience, maybe? Perhaps the Dark Powers gave him the ability to control werejaguars in their animal or hybrid forms, as an extension of Von Kharkov's control over mundane cats. It's not that he necessarily welcomes such reminders of his past; he's just working with the assets available to him, and knows he can rely on the werejaguars to obey him without question.

If his minions also remind the Don of the "bad old days", which gets on his nerves ... well, DP-granted powers always have their down side.


I returned to my big pile of notes a few weeks ago, and after staring at the mess in horror thought I'd try to clean them up a bit. My first task was converting Valacán over to the Lawgiver, which seemed more appropriate than Yutow; not that anything was wrong with Yutow (though not much about him stood out to me either), but it seemed to contribute to the "play by myself" feeling that the domain really needed to get rid of. I kept Yutow along, though, along with a few other deities from the old pantheon, hope some of you enjoy the revision.

The Iron Faith

Valacán worships The Lawgiver, a faith introduced by Don Uriel Carrascón to replace the old gods of the land. The fall of the old empire and the bloody purge of its priests is seen as the Lawgiver's Judgment upon the land, as punishment for the brutal ways and human sacrifices formerly practiced. As a relatively new offshoot of the faith, the Church of the Lawgiver is still convening on the matter of Valacán, and the branch has not yet been given a Pave. Although its confirmation into the fold is almost guaranteed, as the Church is unwilling to lose such a large and rich domain in the battle for religious influence against Ezra, Valacán has proven a source of some consternation to Church. Although Don Carrascón is adamant about stamping out the native witchcraft and shamanistic ways, his own enforcers are known to have mystic powers that do not spring from the Lawgiver. The matter of appearances is a tricky one as well. The Don frowns upon piercings, tattoos, and ritual scars, putting him more in line with the Church than Hazlan is on bodily modification. On the other hand, Don Carrascón has little issue with the elves and gnomes of the domain, knowingly and willingly employing them despite the Church's doctrine on their degeneracy. The domain is also known to be rife with lycanthropes, and the Don's yellow eyes are nearly legendary. In addition to the tenants of obedience to a higher authority, Valacán's church also stresses the importance of the Law Within: the responsibly of leaders to govern themselves, as well as others. While disobedience to authority deserves punishment, abusing the law to enable acts of cruelty, lust, or greed is inexcusable. While this might seem a strange sentiment from the unequivocal tyrant of the land, Don Carrascón takes this very seriously: more than one Valacáni nobleman has met a gruesome end for beating their workers without good enough reason.

While the Don has done his best to stamp out any remaining trace of the old gods, the past of the land has proven difficult to erase. The Valacáni still worship their old gods, often disguised in plain sight as other Core deities or servants of the Lawgiver. The biggest remainder is the Twilight Wind, known as the Lord of Night, Swirling Darkness, and The Black Mirror, the god of the night and its dark mysteries, including dreams, sorcery, witches, and demons. A powerful god who was known to take the form of a jaguar, the Twilight Wind was known to be able to grant great power, at a great price. He would uplift the downtrodden and punish sinners and tyrants, but could not be trusted himself - a promise made by the Black Mirror would never be kept. Before the fall of the old kingdom, it was believed the Twilight Wind would one day end the world and create it anew, ruling over it himself. Now, it is universally believed that the Twilight Wind is Don Uriel Carrascón himself. Under his leadership, Valacán is becoming a major Core power, at the price of the blood and culture of its people; more personally, those close to him are rumored to gain shadowy powers at the cost of their souls. The Don's affinity for jaguars is the source of many rumors, and even his habit of going through wives, a source of horror to the common people of Valacán, is linked to the many wives of the dark god. Simply mentioning this connection to the Don is to forfit one's life, however, as his association with the heathen god drives him into a bloody rage. Despite every effort he has made to destroy any mention of the Twilight Wind, he has only driven the practice under ground - his own enforcers and servants believe him to be the god as well, and in many cases this is the very reason they joined him.

And the connection runs even deeper than that. Every year, on the Day of Dead, every person the Don has killed returns to haunt him. Led by the priestess of the Twilight Wind who he betrayed and murdered, the undead throng hunts him until he can run no further, dragging him back to the Great Temple of the Black Mirror. Stripped of all his wealth and power, Don Uriel Carrascón is sacrificed at the top of the temple, in grisly parody of the yearly sacrifice that honored the god. He awakens the next day in the form of a wild jaguar, forced to trek through the massive rainforest to find his way back home.

Yutow, the former Valacáni sun god, is the only other deity to survive under its own name. Before the fall he was honored daily with bloody human sacrifices - a practice that led to Don Carrascón's overthrow of the empire. According to those who follow him, Yutow recognized the wickedness of mankind to be the fault of his own demands, sacrificing his own flesh to the ravenous jaguar to prevent the world from being destroyed and cast into the Hell of Slaves. Now a pale reflection of his former self, Yutow shines at night as the moon, continuing to do penance to spare mankind further wrath. Worshipers of Yutow officially call themselves worshipers of the Lawgiver, and are usually left alone by the Don's enforcers. They are considerably different from the actual church, however, focusing heavily on penance and self-sacrifice. Some of the faithful have come to believe that their own blood will spare Yutow's own, practicing rituals of self-flagellation or religious scaring in a strange parallel to the human sacrifice Yutow was once given. The Church of the Lawgiver finds this self-mutilation to be extreme at best and heretical at worse, creating even more strain between the clergy of the different domains.

A few other deities have survived or merged into other Churches, although in much smaller bodies of worship. The Don's enforcers heavily discourage other religions, leading most other worship to take hold in the rural villages beyond his immediate control. The Rainbow Serpent is still known, but more feared than revered; once a god of water and life, he is said to have gone mad from being betrayed and cast down by his own followers when the Lord of Night vanquished the domain. Now wandering the jungle, seeking to betray as he was betrayed, he encourages others betray as well. It is whispered that those who wander two far into the jungle will find his garden, filled with luscious fruit that poisons the soul with the Serpent's madness. Belanus has spread over from Nidalia and Sithicus, though only among those who, passively or actively, resist the Don's rule. As a god of the sun, fire, and war, Belanus had profound similarities to the war god of the old empire, and was adopted by those who still fought against the government; given the prevalence of shadow magic among the Don's enforcers, the idea of purifying sunlight quickly caught on. Valacáni depictions of Belanus often include a long cape of feathers. Ezra has spread into Valacán through a few traveling anchorites, though the clergy remains very small and tends to be located in remote areas. Much to the Church's chagrin, she is mostly considered a rain god, referred to by the Dementlieuse title of Sainted Mother of Tears. Despite this minor doctrinal drift, both branches of the church have found a small but faithful following in the villages dotting the domain. As a goddess associated with plants and nature, Hala is very popular in areas close by the jungle. The Don is hostile to the religion, wiping out witches and warlocks where he can find them - given the Twilight Winds' own association with sorcery, Hala is considered by some to be a rival of the dark god. Despite this, worshipers of Hala tend to be safe from the Baron's Men in the remote villages that they habit - those who live far from civilization think twice before turning in the only reliable healer in the village.

The Arcanist

Funny I was thinking on how to use Valachan a few days ago and you had a great idea, well I'll throw in my 2 cents.

Two origins for Uriel (hehehe nice going, that's also the name of an angel) come to mind...

a) he was transformed by the high priest of the cult but later felt betrayed and as soon as more technologically (not to confuse with culturally) advanced conquerors reached their lands he betrayed his people and joined them in conquering it. It was then that the domain was formed and his fellow conquerors feel it is a curse from the natives that they are cut away from home and gives them all the more reason to hunt them.

b) he was transformed in ravenloft and fled his dark master, most likely killing him, in morally gray circumstances, leaving him not completely damned yet, only to wander to an island of terror sounding much like option a) where he fitted the profile of their savior, he would have been able to join and free the oppressed natives but chose to conque and destroy them instead as they reminded him of his bestial side and eventually overthrew the former darklord.

Both of these options play a bit with prehispanic cultures believing Cortez to be the returned Quetzalcoatl.

You could damn him to rely on his werepanther servants, the only ones completely loyal to him, and have them battle the mighty eagle knights and powerful priests of the natives, but I give you an idea to reconsider changing Uriel from a vampire to a werepanther...

He is a vampire and can only completely control those he turns, but, the unconquered natives in order to survive embraced their beliefs and abosrving natural spirits turning into lycanthropes, werepanthers or most likely werejaguars, so now you have the cunning vampire who could eventually turn all his army into vampires only to be powerless against the werejaguars during the day.

Uriel would need to chose carefully who he turns as it also means loosing that follower during the day when he can easily muster the rest of his living forces while the natives who are fewer are strong enough to defend their temples and communities day and night while maybe not enough to overthrow the invaders.

As for resources there's gold and lots of silver in México, Uriel can then hire all the engineers, builders, mercenaries, etc from nearby domains as he wants to further civilize his domain, the natives also have this wealth, being able to hire their own mercenaries and infiltrators (PC's) who can blend with the invaders paying them with silver and gold.

To add insult to the injury, Uriel and his bloodline are vulnerable to obsidian, the natives weapon material of choice giving them a further edge against him and enraging him as such primitive weapons are his bane.

The natives should hold to their traditions, even those captured and working on "encomiendas" as the prehispanic natives were, Uriel tries to get them to abbandon them but he depends on their work and doesnt have another religion to displace the old beliefs like the spanish did.

Now, dia de muertos (November 2nd) is a joyous festivity, where families spend time and share a meal with the spirits of their deceased loved ones who come back to them once a year. How about this, during dia de muertos Uriel and his vampires are weakened or even haunted and harmed by the presence of all these ghosts, perhaps he suffers this tradition as for every ghost that goes back to his family is one less that harrasses him.

As for other traditions, in the beginnings of May they could sacrifice animals to ask for rains and good crops and perform spiritual cleanings, dont know the name of this tradition but, funny enough, it evolved into the Day of the Holy Cross on May 3rd.

And finally you have equinoxes and solstices, which you could assign to a father of light (the sun) giver of the rain of life and a dark mother related to the underworld and the earth ready to be fertilized by the rain, or whatever else you need, but dont forget to have a snake descend through the stairs of the native temples on one of those equinoxes.

Phew... this has turned to quite longer than two cents, so I'll just leave it to your consideration.


As far as Kharkov's monster nature, I honestly feel like a lycanthrope fits his themes and character better than a vampire, who would be too, well, controlled to really resound with Kharkov's theme of a beast trying desperately to be a man.

As far as Kharkov's sin goes, there's a bit of debate, but my favorite so far is that Kharkov's taken in by the original Darklord of the Domain, a twisted Aztec high priest type, whom he befriends and even sees as a father figure. The old man's daughter becomes another close friend, just being around her makes Uriel feel refreshed and free of his anxiety and fears of reverting to his beastly nature. And then, Uriel stumbles on the terrible truth of the old Darklord, the twisted, bloody sacrifices that keep the old priest young and strong. Brimming with righteous fury, Uriel turns on the ancient dead, battling the wicked sorcerer ferociously! There's a lull in the fight, as the old man suddenly slows down, and Kharkov takes brutal advantage of his enemy's hesitation...

...only realizing afterward, as the haze of battle fades, that the old man stopped fighting because his daughter had interposed herself between the two of them, and that he, in his carelessness and lust for battle, impaled the girl in order to cut out the old priest's heart.

This ties in with Kharkov's central flaw, a need to be civilized that is ultimately dangerous to himself and others, and connects him to the whole 'occasionally takes a bride, only for her to end up dead in a couple months every time.' deal. It also gives him a strong motivation: He must civilize these people who have become his, and be recognized as the revolutionary leader of a prosperous kingdom instead of another southern core warlord with delusions of grandeur. And most importantly, it is a conscious failing; I dig the idea of Kharkov's whole hangup with being civilized coming from the wizard who created him intending for his panther-man to be a living weapon, but Kharkov killing that woman really wasn't his fault. Darklord level evil should always involve a conscious decision to do something immoral; in Kharkov's case, his enemy showed weakness and he took advantage of it, betraying the ideals he claims to revere so much.

Nathan of the FoS

I agree with this premise--that a darklord's final act should always be a conscious decision to do evil--but this seems like a pretty unconvincing foundation for darklord status. I mean, the guy is an evil Aztec priest! I would be pretty keen to taken advantage of any perceived weakness I could see in him too. And if the daughter's death is accidental...

If I were using that story as the basis, I would say, Carrascon claims to be the representative of a new, higher way. No blood sacrifice for him! So he's crusading vs. evil Aztec man, and getting harder and harder as he goes (a la Kurtz--hard to get away from Heart of Darkness themes here, so why not acknowledge them?). Finally, he busts in and is about to kill the darklord when his daughter, who has been with Carrascon, pleads for her father's life, reminding him of his oft-stated commitment to mercy.

Carrascon can't believe she's "betraying" him and defending this evil old man. In a spasm of rage, he kills her. The priest takes his daughter's body in his arms, no longer bothering to defend himself, and calls Carrascon a monster. Carrascon kills him, too, and inherits the domain.

You could do all kinds of things with this last scene--why Carrascon kills the daughter, if he reverts to werepanther form at any point, what he's feeling when he decides to kill the darklord...but that's how I'd play it in its broad outlines.

This reminds me a bit of the backstory to Nueva Aragona, the South American domain I wrote up for the USS 2001; Don Carrascon and General Maconda have some similarities in temperment and backstory if you go this route. So...you might want to read that. Or not. Depending.


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