World Of Darkness: RUSSIA
A Campaign Setting by David 'Blue' Wendt

Disclaimer:
This is not, nor is it intended to be, World of Darkness canon.  This is my interpretation
of fictional Russia, based on materials identified in the References section.  The GM reserves the right to say 'No' to any aspect of character design or any character action that he feels violates the intention of the game. 
 
Primary Character Generation:
Will you play an Elder Vampire, an Experienced Mage or something else?  Regardless of your choice, your concept should recognize that you are a major behind the scenes player.  You might be the head of a Noble House, a highly respected Merchant, or a high ranking Clergyman.  You are likely quite secretive and have possibly not been seen in the public eye for some time.  You, as a player, are encouraged, but by no means required, to keep the true nature of this character a secret from the other players.

If you choose to be Vampire, use the rules in Elysium to complete your character.  Note that certain backgrounds, merits and flaws will not be allowed, including, but not limited to: Mummy Companion.

If you choose to be a Mage, use the rules in Sorcerers Crusade for character creation except as noted here.  Attributes: (8/6/3), no Attribute may be higher than 5.  Abilities: (19/10/5), no Ability may be higher than 6 at this stage.  Backgrounds: 7, elder backgrounds (except Generation) from Elysium are allowed at the same cost.  Spheres: 15, standard limitations apply.  Aerte starts at 4, Willpower at 8.  Players start with 20 freebie points, keeping in mind that dots in the age background increase freebie points.  The Age Elder Background is treated that same as for Kindred, except that Mages gain a permanent point of Scourge rather than losing Humanity, for each dot of age.  A note on Mages and age: assume for the moment that any Mage worth his salt can craft the equivalent of longevity potions using his Affinity Sphere.  More detailed rules will be written up later, but a Mage can purchase a number of dots of Age less than or equal to his Affinity Sphere rating minus one.  (If the potion is made for someone else it will be rated at Affinity Sphere minus two.).

If you wish to be an Elder Fae, follow this link.

If you choose to be another character type, work with the Storyteller directly to develop your character.

Secondary Character Generation:
These characters may be developed in the conjunction with other players, and as the characters will be working together, the concepts should likely be shared.

Step One:  Character Concept
In this game, character concepts need to be a little more detailed than in the standard World of Darkness campaign.  In addition to the standard concept, you need to decide if you are going to play a Mortal (possibly a Sorcerer), a Kindred, a Shapeshifter, a Faerie or a Wraith (likely a Risen, see below).  You will then continue character creation as the type you have choosen, with the rules and limitations altered as described in this document.

You will also need to choose Nature, Demeanor, and any other concept aspects required by the rules associated by your choosen character type.

Some sample concepts:

  • Lower Nobility - Boyar, Gentryman, Minor Prince
  • Clergyman - monks, white clergymen
  • Cossak - Ukranian freedom fighters, Don Cossasks
  • Foreigner - Polish mercenary, Greek missionary, English fur-buyers, Turkish slave-traders, etc.
  • Fur-Hunter
  • Merchant
  • Muzhak - peasant
  • Robber/Brigand
  • Sailor
  • Strelets - Russian city soldier
  • Volkhv/Skomorokh - pagan wizards and priests, mintrels, jugglers, bear tamers, soothsayers
  • On Names:  Most characters will use naming conventions put forward in GURPS: Russia on page 33.  Another good source for names is Everyone Everywhere published by Magic & Tactics Unlimited, page 12.  Changelings, it should be noted, will often use their given name as such and their clan name as their surname.  For instance, one of the forest fae might be known as Vugar Leshiy.

    Step Two: Select Attributes
    Most characters will use the standard (7/5/3) split to allocate points.  Mortals will instead use a (6/4/3) split.  See the specific books mentioned in the text for more details.

    Step Three: Select Abilities
    Most characters will use the standard (13/9/5) split to allocate points.  Mortals will instead use a (11/8/4) split.  See the specific books mentioned in the text for more details.  No ability may be higher than 3 at this point.

    Step Four: Select Advantages
    This will vary by character type, though in general, Mortals will start with 6 Background Points and 3 Willpower points.
    This is an official change for my games only - Wilder Changelings start with 3 Willpower instead of 2 as the 2nd edition Changeling rules imply.  This change applies to all Wilder Changelings, regardless of age.

    Step Five: Finishing Touches
    Again, this will vary by character type, though in general, Mortals will start with 21 Freebie Points.
    Note that Merits and Flaws are allowed and in specific situations encouraged (see the Nobility Merit).

    The Types:
    Kindred (use Vampire the Dark Ages to create your character)  Note that the Camarilla and the Sabbat have both been formed at this time.  The Sabbat have been the traditional holders of Russian land, but the Camarilla is waging war to diaplace them and have likely succeeded by the rise of Communism.

    Bete (use Werewolf the Apocalypse to create your character) Changeling: The Dreaming Wraith: The Oblivion Mage: Sorcerer's Crusade Mortals Kith Descriptions and New Tribes

    Domovye - Russian Boggin.  Appearance: Domovye are short and furry, resembling tiny, grinning old men even as Childings.  They typically dress in a red shirt belted at the waist.  Domovye are often referred to by different names based on their choosen profession.  Domovye refer specifically to house guardians, Bannik tend the bath house and Dvorovi tend barns.

    Leshiy - Russian Trolls.  Traditionally, the Leshiy were the solitary guardians of the forests and each major section of woodlands had one and only one.  Though as bound by honor as their western counter-parts, Leshiy are also uniquely Russian.  They are as likely to drink and revel as a mortal Russian, but often their drinking companions are bears.  As guardians of the forests, they found no dishonor in misleading travellers.  Appearance: Leshiy are hairy, green-eyed old men, as tall as the tree they live in.

    Rusalka and Vodyanye - Russian Satyrs.  Traditionally, Rusalka and Vodyanye were the guardians of Russian streams and rivers.  Rusalka are the females and Vodyanye the males.  Rusalka are as fond of dance as their western kin, and additionally are quite fond of weaving and spinning.  Both genders were likely to entice mortals to drowning deaths when the Unseelie struck them.  Appearance: Even grump Rusalka appear to be no older than 15.  All Rusalka are beautiful and typically dress in leaves, transparent green gowns or simple, white unbelted shirts.  Vodyanoi appear to be handsome young men in their childing years, slowly changing to old pot-bellied men in their grump years.  Regardless of their appearance, the left side of a Vodynye is always wet.

    Polevik - Russian Redcaps.  Traditionally, Poleviks would more-or-less hold cultivated land hostage, requiring mortal landowners to exchange a tithe for the safe use of the land.  The Polevik in return would jealously guard the area against man and animal alike, so as to maximize his return.  Farm workers who didn't show appropriate respect would likewise be punished.  Appearance: Polevik appear to be made of blackened soil and often have weeds or grass growing from their head or body.
     
    New Rites:
    Corax Mystic Rite
    Wearing My Brotherís Feathers
    Level Four
    Corax use this rite to alter their Corvid form to resemble that of some other avian, typically an eagle or hawk.  This is a physical change, not an illusion, and the physical changes carry over to alter the over-all appearance of the Crinos form the the Corax the rite is invoked on.
    System: This rite is typically undertaken by a single Corax and cost one point of Gnosis.  The rite requires a feather from the species of avian whose form is desired.  The feather is consumed during the ritual.  A Wits+Rituals roll versus difficulty roll is required.  The form change lasts for one day per success.  Failure has no penalty.  A Botch leaves the Corax trapped in Crinos form for an hour per one (1) rolled.

    References:

  • GURPS Russia, by S. John Ross
  • A History of Russia, by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky
  • Essential Russian Mythology, by Pyotr Simonov
  • RUS, by Mark Chapman
  • various White Wolf books and homepages, including
  • as well as the invaluable advice, support and inspiration of the Eyrie Mafia

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