Friday, July 2, 2010

Kings and Khans - The Men of Ravania (Updated 7/2/10)

The men of Ravania are a mixed lot. It is not clear who the original inhabitants of the land are, but it is a claim disputed openly by Tajads, Uskovs, and Kasar alike and in secret by the Corvini. Whatever the truth may be, Ravania is now a cauldron of cultures bubbling in a volatile mix with the imigrated, ruling Ravnik people doing their best to control the unforgiving land and its caustic people.


Corvini are an ancient people who wander in nomadic, extended family group. Thought to be one of the original people of the land, they are a mysterious and secretive people. Corvini are said to be brothers of the ravens and surely, in their language, their name means Raven-kin. Corvini live their lives as performers, beggars, fortune-tellers and thieves. Occasionally these gypsy people will enlist their skills to those more organized or powerful than they or form their own bands for the purposes of defense or some common goal.

The Corvini do not maintain armies of their own and stake no claim on any piece of land. They are famous for being musicians, healers, dancers and singers but also for being thieves and bandits. What is certain is that the Corvini hold a key to the secrets of the lands darker secrets and perhaps they alone understand what evil has befallen the land.


Kasars are feudal horse lords that once roamed wild and savage like the Tajads. They have not abandoned the old spirits of the land in favor of the new more orthodox gods and goddesses of the Ravnik people, but they have learned to emulate them enough to keep themselves in their good graces. Though they have made great strides toward civilizing themselves, they are still looked at as half-wild and afforded only the most basic consideration from the more courts of Ravanian imperial life. Kasar lords, called Streltzi rule through strict defense of ancestral lands handed down through the generations. They are led by elite noble who fight as cavalry, they and their households. These nobles command armies of armored household footmen as well as levied serfs and slaves.


The Ravnik people are native to the lands to the northwest of Ravania. Though similar in culture they were a distinct ethnic group from the Jarlsmen (northmen) of the land of Ridjal that were their neighbors. Forced from their lands by the Jarlsmen, they fled south along the great river waterways of Ravania where they settled into the fertile northwest of the land. Over the years they clashed with but eventually subjugated the Kasar peopls, making them feudal vassals. They gave the land their name and it became known as Ravania. The Ravnik people are ruled by an emperor called a Tsar and his feudal governors called Druzhina.


Wild barbarian horsemen native to the eastern steppes of Ravania, the Tajads are renowned as fierce, savage, and wicked warriors. Vile by the standards of most people and feared throughout Ravania as a scourge, ranked with a force of nature. The Tajads are known to worship ancient forbidden powers and hold Yadj, a sort of Death Hag as their mother goddess. It is said that all manner of dark rites, including sacrifice and cannibalism are performed in her honor. Tajad clan leaders are known as Khans.


The Urskovs are a tribe of barbarians similar to the Tajads and the Kasars except that instead of developing a nomadic horse clan tradition, they settled into the deep forests and fenlands of central Ravania. Though they do no openly oppose the Ravnik people, they are also not allies and do not consider themselves subject to their laws or their gods. Urskovs are stalwart, brawny folk and are often recruited by the other people of Ravania as mercenaries to bolster armies where they make excellent shock troops fighting on foot and wielding savage blades and axes. Urskovs are followers of the old ways and do not take kindly to Ravnik or other gods being forced on them. They have been known to inflict cruel punishments upon those who try to "enlighten" them. These folk claim direct lineage from a totemic bear god they call Gravul. Urskovs are led by tribal leaders known as Draku.


Yalska are Jarlsmen (norsemen) who have traveled inland along the great rivers of Ravania and settled into various trading posts in the interior of the land. The Yalska have a culture that is similar with the Ravnik rulers of the land and as such find it easy to interact with the rest of Ravanian society. Freely trading between Ravnik, Kasar, Tajad, and even Urskov peoples, the Yalska make a tidy living selling goods as well as information back and forth. Several particularly successful Yalska lords, still using the traditional title of Jarl, have set up strongholds in the wilderness from which they control modest fiefdoms. Such fiefdoms are allowed to exist by the Ravnik nobility as long as they make no trouble for the nobility. They do serve a useful function in the East as a buffer against invading Tajads and rebellious Kasars as well as the Druug (humanoid) hordes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bane and Boon of Blood - Demihumans of Ravania (Updated 6/24/10)

Most of the standard demi-human races of D&D's other worlds are found in Ravania, though they often take different forms or have evolved a different outlook, given the harsh climate and nature of the land. There are some new races either borrowed from some of the supplimental resources for 3.5ed (e.g. Uldra) or created or modified on my own. In many cases, they have been given names, but in those cases, I have listed their "standard" name in parenthsis.

[Editor's Note: This post has been changed more than others. I have consolidated elves and half-elves into a single entry. Also, the concepts for Gnomes, Rilki, and Uldra have all been merged into the Uldra which fill the niche of gnomes in the game, though are organized differently]

Alif (Elves)/Alphir (Half-Elves)

It should come as no surprise that there are elves in Ravania. Their kinship with the faeries that make up the majority of the Spirits of the Land means that the elves are not alone, despite the dark shadow that has befallen the land. The elves of Ravania tend to keep to their own communities, having found a log time ago that the superstitions of the humans of Ravania can easily work both good and evil. The largest of the elf settlements is a city far to the east called Halidir by the elves and Nostrigrad by the humans. Here in this city of towering ice are said to dwell the Winter or Ice Elves.

Alphir are the offspring of unions between humans and elves. The are like the half-bloods of their kind found anywhere else in the world except that they stand out even more in the dire land of Ravania. Alphir are often held in high-regard in villages and settlements, being seen as a link to the faeries and Spirits of the Land. It is not uncommon to find Alphir as mystics or scholars, folklorists and wisemen among villagers. Like other demi-humans, Alphir are not looked upon so favorably at court being viewed with mistrust and suspicion for their ties to the old ways and the wild places of Ravania.

Dhampir (Half-Vampires)

Extremely rare, and both revered and reviled, the Dhampir are the strange result of a vampire’s attack on a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. Normally, a woman not far along loses her child due to the trauma of vampiric attack, but in a rare few, the evil negative energy exchanged in the attack transforms the unborn child into a supernatural being with the powers of both the living and the undead. Often these children grow to be hunters of the undead, seeming to gravitate to the human communities that foster them more than they do their non-living progenitors.

Dwarge (Dwarves)

Dwarves are reviled in Ravania. Though the dwarf race was once a presence in the Land of Ravens, they have been brought into decline ever since they were blamed for the great Winter Curse that befell the land. Whether this is true or not, and to what extent, is unknown to most. An ancient, closely-guarded secret to those who do know it has forced most dwarge to live in seclusion in isolated holds, no bigger than a stronghold. Those that remain are spiteful and bitter, and often quite evil. Their skills and abilities have been turned to doing wrong in most cases and their ancient bloodlines horde powerful magic and secrets.

Uldra (Gnomes)

A race of diminutive, fey people, the Uldra live a detached, wild existence. Uldra people are known to be boisterous and friendly but also suspicious of outsiders and fearful of those people and things they do not understand. Uldra have a close kinship with the creatures of the wild and make use of wolves as mounts and pack animals, speaking with ravens freely.

Dregs and Druug - Humanoids of Ravania (Updated 6/24/10)

Ravania is not just home to races of humans and demi-humans. There are other races that also fill the far-ranging expanses of the eternally frozen land. Most of these other folk exist in relatively small numbers, compared to the major peoples of Ravania. They form strongholds or small territorial lands, which though known are seldom recognized by the more civilized folk. There are those, however, who keep themselves to the shadows and live within or around the common folk of the land. Still others, namely the Druug, have formed a vast horde, challenging that of the Tajads made up of a coalition of humanoid species and led by the dread Ravanian ogres known as Huraags.


The Druug are a collection of humanoids of indistinct breed. After generations of tribal conquest back and forth and subsequent interbreeding and inbreeding, the Druug can no longer claim any one species of humanoid as kin. Druug range in appearance from hulking hairy brutes to pale or mottled being of stringy muscle. The one common thing they all share is a savagery and malice that drives them to constant raiding, warfare and pillaging.

Most races of Ravania avoid the Druug as best they can, but the Tajads, living on the same open range, often come in conflict with them. It is a well accepted fact in all of Ravania that, if not for the Druug, the Tajads would have already swept west and ravaged the more civilized regions of the land. 


The mysterious Kenku are a race regarded with suspicion and fear by most of Ravania. The frozen empire sports many a tale of the shady exploits of these odd crow-men. Sneaky and cunning, the creatures haunt nearly every corner of Ravania, even the urban sprawls of the Ravnik cities and the wild spaces east of the Deep Forest and the eastern expanses of the Yalskawald. It is said that the Kenku are ancient among the races of the Ravania and hold private secrets of the land that no other mortal can dare imagine. Of course there is no way for any man to know for certain.

What is true and well known is that the Kenku are perfectly happy carrying any any manner of dark misdeed for the right price or at their cryptic whims. Kidnappings, murders, espionage, even conspiracy are all within the scope of any Kenku's bag of tricks. Given the right contacts, and they have endless numbers of them, a Kenku can network himself into any position and acquire any piece of information.


As the elves are graceful and full of life, the Sibhir are lewd and full of wickedness. In their glacial fortress, they worship their patron goddess Loveathir and pay her homage by conjuring all manner of great evils and lavishing in the vile natures. They far east of the Great Wastes are theirs and any creature setting foot within their realm is subject to their merciless whims.

The Sibhir are elves, but they are greatly changed since falling from the light. Skin tones usually run a more earthy tone, grey and a luminous white being common. Sibhir tend to wear their hair long but ornately dressed, the silky strands being white, silver, sometimes even golden in color. Their shifting eyes seem to favor the colors of ice. The men of Ravania have few dealings with the Sibhir, being far enough away to escape their meddling, but in the east, the Tajads and the Druug do feel their icy touch. Often, it is through these savage hordes that the Sibhir extend their reach to other parts of the land.


In many lands, ogres are a wilderness menace and the denizens of dungeons deep, seldom encountered but greatly feared. In Ravania, ogres are frequent and range over a territory as vast as the empire itself. They form savage bands, raiding and pillaging villages and caravans as well as engaging in all other manner of banditry. But, that is not the limit of their villainy.

The ogres of Ravania are a diverse species ranging from common ogres to huge breeds with mixed giant heritage called Huraag. They are also known to to breed with nearly anything whether it will have them or not, which has produced all manner of fowl offshoots and half-breeds. These crossbred monstrosities have been the source of many legendary creatures throughout the history of Ravania. Such creatures often live as solitary outcasts but occasionally exceptional examples may take on the role of chieftain of a band or sometimes form several bands into tribe-like groups.


Relatives of the common goblin, the Sverdlinka are a vile and hardy species which are uniquely adapted to the harsh climates of Ravania. Sverlinka are not purely humanoid, carrying some fey blood but of the blackest sort, making them crafty and intelligent.

Sverlinka are masters of trap and trick and can be found in all locations across the Ravanian expanses. Common tricks include baby snatching, poisoning of wells, tainting of crops and livestock, murder, larceny, even extortion, making them one of the most frequently encountered and most reviled races in all the land.