Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gazeteer of the Wasted Lands 6: Rossika

Rossika is a vast stretch of largely featureless steppes. The terrain is mostly scrub grass, and the climate extreme. There are two seasons in Rossika: hot, humid summers, and bitterly cold killer winters. A low mountain range separates Rossika from Ashurii and Hastur, insulating Rossika from some of the conflicts that occur in the West. However, copies of The King in Yellow have made it through the mountains and into Rossika from Fennokarelia and the Barren Steppes are not immune to the poison of entropy and madness that afflicts that pallid kingdom.

There are three major trade kingdoms in Rossika: Veps to the central north, Mari in the northeast, and the Great Kingdom of Khazan spanning an area in the south equal to that of Veps and Mari combined. The west is dominated by tribes of barbarians who practice a horse culture. Of these barbarians there are two distinct racial types: Kossaki and Hunni. The Kossaki tend to remain in the steppes and flatlands and are of a duskier hue and more slender but wiry build, and are known for attacking in hordes of berserk fury, not unlike the Hyperborians to the northwest, though their expertise as mounted cavalry makes them heavily feared. The Hunni largely inhabit the mountains in the southwest; their horses tend to be leaner and the hunni themselves heavier and more muscular as compensation for the thin, cold atmosphere in the mountain regions. Many dwarves live amongst the Hunni.

Where the Kossaki are known and feared for their overwhelming cavalry and near-suicidal charges, the Hunni use ghost tactics like no others. They are expert archers and hunt like packs of wolves, surrounding their prey quietly and moving in for the kill when the opposition's numbers have been effectively reduced by exhaustion, fear, and missile fire from deep cover.

The Three Kingdoms in Rossika have effectively copied the tactics of both Kossaki and Hunni as well as sending scouts to study the berserker tactics of the Hyperborians, to hone their own armies. They have thus far successfully not only kept the barbarian tribes at bay, but have managed to secure and even expand their own territories. Beside the barbarians, the greatest threat to the Three Kingdoms comes from the black sorcerers that rule over the dark empire of Lemuria. However, despite Lemuria's dominance of the sea waters, their ongoing war with Mu and Atlantis has kept them from being an imminent threat to Rossika.

Each of the Kingdoms is absolutely ruled by a Czar. Together the Czars are known as the Holy Triumverate. For now the Triumverate jointly decides law and policy for all of Rossika, with each having a high degree of autonomy in those affairs within its own border, and a series of free towns and villages acting as a buffer between the three. It is only a matter of time, however, before the kingdoms come into open conflict with one another and a single empire emerges from the ashes (presuming a fate of mutual destruction does not result from the conflict).

Population Statistics

Population by Age:

0-14 years (infant to adolescent): 500,000
15-64 years (young adult through middle age): 1,000,000
65 years and over (elderly): 200,000

Racial Breakdown: Kossaki 15%, Hunni 15%, Mordivinian 40%, Elves 5%, Dwarves 10%, Hobbits 10%, Other 5%.
Religions: Rossikan Folk Traditions 80%, Akkadian 5%, Qandarian 5%, Zartosht 2%, Fennokarelian 5%, Other 2%, Old One Cults 3%
Languages: Common Merchant 70%, Rossikan 100%, Fennokarelian 10%, Ashurii 10%, Khemite 5%, Hasturian 2%
Government Type: Loose Confederation of Monarchies.
Capitols: Veps, Mari, and Khazan
Heraldry: A silhouette of a sickle-wielding warrior atop a rampaging bear on a field of red.
Military: Combination of career soldiers, conscripted peasants, and mercenaries. The standing army of the Three Kingdoms tops 180,000 with nearly half of that coming from Khazan.

Legal System: Elves are heavily used as secret police, spies and informants for the Czars. It is said keeping secrets in Rossika is not possible. Inquisitors appointed by the magistrates act as an open police force, and their interrogations can be brutal, bordering on torture. When a person is accused of a crime he goes before a magistrate appointed by the Czar, who views and weighs all evidence. Every citizen is granted the right of legal representation during this process.

Crime and Punishment: Punishment is harsh but befitting the crime. Theft is punished by the removal of the hands, for example, and sedition by the removal of the tongue. Murder is punishable by death, sexual crimes by castration or other genital mutilation.

Religion in Rossika
The Rossikan religion is many-layered, and consists more of a collection of folk traditions than rote and ritual. There are a number of "true" gods, all of whom serve under a single, Supreme Deity, but more often the folk of Rossika seek to placate spirits that inhabit rocks, streams, hearth and home, forests, and those things that they encounter on a daily basis. Common "hedge magic" is ubiquitous, with the lowliest of peasants knowing a few family or local rituals to aid in such things as blessing their home, ensuring a good crop growth, or keeping evil spirits at bay. Whether or not these minor spells have any game effect is up to the DM, but in general they should take from 15 minutes to an hour or more to produce, and at best grant the effects of the second level Cleric spell, Bless, for anywhere from a day to a year, depending on the focus of the spell (casting over one's crops, for example, might yield benefits for a season, while casting it over one's house may grant benefits for a day, week, or month).

The Gods of Rossika
Perun and Veles: These two gods, the two major powers in Rossikan mythology stand in opposition to one another in almost every way. Perun is the father of all the gods and champion of good, a heavenly god of thunder and lightning, fiery and dry, who rules the living world from his citadel high above, located on the top of the highest branch of the World Tree. Veles is a chthonic god associated with waters, earthly and wet, lord of the underworld, who rules the realm of the dead from down in the roots of the World Tree. Perun is a giver of rain to farmers, god of nobility in war and weapons, invoked by fighters. Veles is a death and decay, associated with black magic.

The two are said to have fought a great cosmic battle, which is replayed every time a great storm wracks the land. Attacking with his lightning bolts from sky, Perun pursues his serpentine enemy Veles who slithers down over earth. Veles taunts Perun and flees, transforming himself into various animals, hiding behind trees, houses, or people. In the end, he flees into the water, driven into the underworld.

Jarilo and Morana: Jarilo is the fertility and vegetation god, and his sister and wife, Morana, the goddess of nature, and the cycle of life and death. Jarilo is associated with the Moon and Morana is considered a daughter of the Sun. Both are children of Perun, born on the night of the new year (Great Night). However, on the same night, Jarilo is snatched from the cradle and taken to the underworld, where Veles raises him as his own. At the Spring festival of Jare, Jarilo returns from the world of the dead (from across the sea), bringing spring from the ever-green underworld into the realm of the living. He meets his sister Morana and courts her. At the beginning of summer, the festival later known as Ivanje/Ivan, Kupala celebrate their divine wedding. The sacred union between brother and sister, children of the supreme god, brings fertility and abundance to earth, ensuring a bountiful harvest. Also, since Jarilo is a stepson of Veles, and his wife daughter of Perun, their marriage brings peace between two great gods; in other words, it ensures there will be no storms which could damage the harvest.

After the harvest, however, Jarilo is unfaitfhul to his wife, and she vengefully slays him (returns him into the underworld), renewing the enmity between Perun and Veles. Without her husband, god of fertility and vegetation, Morana — and all of nature with her — withers and freezes in the upcoming winter; she turns into a terrible, old, and dangerous goddess of darkness and frost, and eventually dies by the end of year. The whole myth repeats itself anew each year, and retelling of its key parts is accompanied by major yearly festivals of the Rossikan calendar.

Svarog, Svarožič, Dažbog: Svarog is a sky god and patron of fire and blacksmithing, a benevolent deity of light and sky. Svarog has two sons: Svarožič, who represents fire on earth, and Dažbog, who represented fire in the sky and was associated with Sun. Svarog is believed to have forged the Sun and have given it to his son Dažbog to carry across the sky. Thus, Dažbog represents the cycle of the sun and the lifegiving power of its journey across the skies, and Svarožič, the power of crafting and smithing granted by the knowledge of fire on earth. Svarog, the great Fire Serpent, is honored as the father of both of the other two.

Dabog: a frightful and lame deity guarding the doors of the underworld, associated with mining and precious metals. He is revered by the dwarves and indeed appears as a dwarf. Those that die are often buried with precious metals that they can use to bribe Dabog to allow them a favored place in the underworld. It is believed that he does not guard against unauthorized entry into the realm of the dead; rather he keeps the dead inside. It's not difficult to enter the underworld. The difficulty comes in trying to escape.

Svantevit and Triglav: These gods are associated with divination and symbolized by the horse (white for Svantevit and black for Triglav). They are the patrons of the Kossaki and Hunni, respectively. Svantevit is represented with four heads and Triglav with three. Svantevit is also associated with victory in war, harvest, and commerce. Triglav is associated with mountains, the power of the earth, and the three forms of existence: Yav, Nav, and Prav. Yav is being the world of life, Nav - the world of death, and Prav - the world that balance the other two.

Zorya and Danica: Dawn and Daystar, respectively. Danica is often called Sun's younger sister or daughter, and is the daughter of Jarilo and Morana. Zorya, her aunt, is the older sister of Jarilo. They are goddesses of birth and rebirth, and of magic and astrology.

Creatures and Figures of Rossika
Baba Yaga: Baba Yaga is a powerful sorceress known to be as fickle as she is powerful. She lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs, and can move at her will. Thus, she is never easy to find. Also, she has a giant mortar and pestle that she can use to fly anywhere she likes. If she chooses, she will offer sage advice to those in need per the rules for Sages in Supplement II, with expertise in all areas. However, her advice often comes at a high price--those who seek it must agree to perform a geas for Baba Yaga, and must agree before the geas is placed upon them (they do not know to what they agree).

Baba Yaga appears as a hideous, old, human-like woman, some five feet tall. She walks crouched over, and her limbs are almost skeletal. Her skin is grayish brown, and tattooed with magical runes. She has a protruding chin, a long nose covered in warts, and ice-cold black eyes framed by stringy white hair. Her fingers end in sharp iron claws, her stony teeth are filed to sharp points, and two large, tusk-like teeth protrude from her jaw.

Baba Yaga should be treated as a lich in all respects (Supplement I, p. 33, 35) save that she may sometimes be encountered outside of her lair.

Her Hut appears in the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide as an Artifact. Her mortar and Pestle function as a Flying Carpet (
Volume 2, page 37)


Koschei the Deathless: is an evil person of ugly senile appearance, menacing principally young women. He cannot be killed by conventional means targeting his body. His soul is hidden separate from his body inside a needle, which is in an egg, which is in a duck, which is in a hare, which is in an iron chest, which is buried under a green oak tree, whose hiding place varies constantly. As long as his soul is safe, he cannot die. If the chest is dug up and opened, the hare will bolt away. If it is killed, the duck will emerge and try to fly off. Anyone possessing the egg has Koschei in their power. He begins to weaken, becomes sick and immediately loses the use of his magic. If the egg is tossed about, he likewise is flung around against his will. If the egg is broken (in some tales this must be done by specifically breaking it against Koschei's forehead), Koschei will die.

Like Baba Yaga, Koschei should be treated as a Lich, though he also has the abilities of a Wraith (Volume 2, p. 9)

Domovoi: Domovoi are hearth spirits, guardians of the homes of Rossika. The domovoi is seen as the home's guardian, and he sometimes helps with household chores and field work. Some even treat them as part of the family, albeit an unseen one, and leave them gifts like milk and biscuits in the kitchen overnight.

The favorite place for these spirits to live is either the threshold under the door or under the stove. The center of the house is also their domain. The Domovoi maintains peace and order, and rewards a well-maintained household. Peasants feed him nightly in return for protection of their house. People only keep animals the domovoi likes, as he torments the ones he does not. Salted bread wrapped in a white cloth appeases this spirit, and putting clean white linen in his room is an invitation to eat a meal with the family. Hanging old boots in the yard is another way to cheer him.

The domovoi is also an oracle, as his behavior can foretell or forewarn about the future. He pulls hair to warn a woman of danger from an abusive man. He moans and howls to warn of coming trouble. If he shows himself, it forewarns of death, and if he weeps it indicates a death in the family. If he laughs, good times can be expected, and if he strums a comb there's a wedding in the future.

The domovoi does have a more malicious side. Although one's own domovoi could be considered an ally, the domovoi from a neighboring household brings no happiness. A domovoi can harass horses in the stable overnight, as well as steal the grain of a neighbour to feed his own horses. Still, domovoi can befriend one another and are said to gather together for loud winter parties.

If a domovoi becomes unhappy, it plays nasty tricks on the members of the household. Those include moving and rattling small objects, breaking dishes, leaving muddy little footprints, causing the walls of a house to creak, banging on pots and moaning. If the family can determine the cause of their domovoi's discontent, they can rectify the situation and return things to normal. If not, the spirit's tricks may escalate in intensity, coming to more closely resemble those of a poltergeist, or he may threaten to stifle people in their beds (this myth is likely to be based on sleep paralysis). More often than not, however, families live in harmony with the spirits, and no problems arise.

Domovoi have the following statistics:

# App: 1
AC: 4
Move: 6
Hit Dice: 5
% in Lair: 100%
Treasure: Wealth of the home owner
Special - Can use certain magic user spells as follows:
Hold Portal (1/day)
Light (at will)
Sleep (1/day)
Levitate (at will)
Invisibility (at will)
Protection/Normal Missiles (1/day)
Confusion (1/day)
Telekinesis (at will)


Rusalka: Rusalki are evil undead spirits of vengeance, the result of women who have drowned, committed suicide, or been betrayed by lovers in life. They live in lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers where they seduce, torment, torture, and kill men. They are only encountered at night and rarely wander far from their home body of water, being attached to it as Dryads are to trees.

Rusalka come in different varieties of power, dependent upon the individual woman who spawned the creature. They can be turned based on their hit dice and are treated as follows:

Rusalka (1 HD): all the statistics of Nixies (Vol. 2) and turn as Skeletons.
Rusalka (2-5 HD): all the statistics of Dryads (Vol. 2) and turn as Zombies, Ghouls, Wights, and Wraiths, respectively.
Rusalka (6 HD): all the statistics of succubi (Supplement III, p.33), save that they are attached to their body of water as Dryads are to trees, and turn as Mummies.

2 comments:

  1. I LIKE YOUR WEB SIGHT VERY MUCH AND READ IT ALOT- SORRY I HAVE NOT COMMETN BEFOR, I GET FRUSTRATING TO WHEN I WRITE AND IT SEEM LIKE THEIR IS NO NOTISE. I AM NOTICING!!

    I SEE THE WORLD MAP, WHICH IS VERY COOL- THE OUTLINE IS FAMIIAR BUT YOU HAVE MADE THIS A WORLD THAT IS OF YOU'RE OWN!!. FOR ME INT HE WORLD WRITINGS THERE IS TO MUCH FAMILIER AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE OF THE FANTASY. NAMES THAT I SEE A REMINDER OF IN MY MIND LIKE 'FENNOKAERLIA" OR 'RUSSOKA' AND 'HUNNS' SET A STAGE, BUT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE DEPAR-TURE.
    WHATAR E THESE SECRETS OF ELFS? HOW IS THE SORCERYERS INVOLVE? FOR MY CAMPAIN I DONOT NEED NUMBERS OF PEOPLES UNDER 14, BUT I WOULD LIKE A SAMPLE WANDER MONSTER TABLE INSTEAD FOR EACH REGION FOR SSOME FLAVORS.
    A GREAT SIGHT YOU HAVE, IT IS IN MY BOOKMARK!

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  2. All of those things would be up to you to develop. This is not a campaign setting in the modern sense of the word. Rather it's a "sandbox." I give you the basics in broad strokes (hence, population figures, gods, racial breakdown, types of societies) and the details are for you to make your own in your campaign.

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