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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Xallace's Avatar

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    Default d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    EDIT: Thanks to Flickerdart for some historical accuracy!

    A friend of mine recently acquired a 3rd party d20 book (v3.5) similar to Frostburn. It seemed like an OK read, until we got to the back. Much to out surprise, there was an entire chapter pertaining to the Slavs! Slavic culture, classes, monsters, magic, etc. Now, this friend of mine is very much into Russian Studies, and so inspired, asked me to DM a campaign using the material.

    Now, I don't know too much about Russia or the Slavs (he still needs to lend me that book), but I've been doing some independent research. Here's what I've got so far:

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    What The PCs (and the Populace) Think

    For as long as anyone can remember, Grigori Rasputin has ruled over Russia with an iron fist. Terrible creatures roam the country-side and even the larger towns at night. Those born in the cities are free from worry of the monsters, but face a different problem: the all-seeing Okhrana, Czar Rasputin's ultimate military force.

    It's a bleak existence, but not everyone thinks that there are no means of escape. Underground even the Underground, rebellious factions exist that plan to overthrow the Czar and instate a new kind of government. So far, though, any public attempts have been met with unstoppable force from the KGB.



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    The (Possibly) Real Story

    At the peak of World War I, Grigori Rasputin persuaded the Russian Royal Family to join him in a ritual that he claimed would "end attacks on Russia forever." Using the family as extra conduits for the energy, Rasputin unleashed a massive torrent of magic across the country that cut off Russia from the rest of the world (In game terms, Russia is now a finite demi-plane). Several documents supposedly written by the Royal Family claimed that Rasputin would serve as the next Czar. This caused legitimate controversy, but in the end, Rasputin ascended to the thrown.

    Rasputin's reason for this act was twofold: Firstly, the removal of Russia from the war was imperative to Rasputin, who was a firm believer in non-violence. Secondly, the removal of outside influences and his own ascension to monarch would allow Rasputin ultimate control over the messages fed to the country so that Rasputin could realize his goal: the spiritual enlightenment, and subsequent eternal happiness of the Russian people.

    Unfortunately, Rasputin's use of the ritual had several unintended side-effects. First, for reasons unknown, creatures, places, and objects from Slavic folklore and "mythology" have come (or returned into existence). Second, other individuals with magical powers- both arcane and divine- began to spring up around the country.

    Lastly, Grigori Rasputin himself became partially merged with an entity known as Koschei the Deathless. As time goes on, Grigori has an increasingly tough time dealing with Koschei's mental influence, and he does not understand what has happened to him.

    Rasputin's original views, now warped by his merging with Koschei, have been twisted and any original, benevolent method he had is now lost. Indeed, Koschei/Rasputin now plans on absorbing the entire demi-plane inside himself. In effect, this would remove the mortal aspects of Koschei/Rasputin's existence, creating a new god (which fits the definition of "enlightenment" in his new mindset).

    Wary of his weaknesses in his current state (the entity's soul resides on Buyan, just like Koschei alone), Rasputin created the Okhrana) to act as his "sword and shield" against threats to the throne.

    The Okhrana act as intelligence gatherers and military police, utilizing the best individuals (especially Diviners) they can gather. They also act as suppressors of dissent, performing frequents raids on individuals they deem a threat to the country or its idealogies.

    In addition, the Okhrana commands far more technological advances than the rest of the country, especially militarily. These include firearms, bombs, tanks, advanced architectual designs, and even some mechanical walkers. Often times, these are further enhanced by magic.


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    Further Ideas and Explanations
    • Maria Rasputin (Matryona Rasputina), Grigori's daughter, knows of Koschei's existence within her father, and has fled the Czar's palace after several (bloody) failed exorcisms. She now works as a dancer and entertainer in the Underground. Immortal just like her father, she believes that he had nothing to do with Russia's dimensional shift, and that his personality can be saved from Koschei's.
    • The island of Buyan exists, though mostly as rumor among the common folk. None have been there, though many have tried or claimed that a "friend of a friend" succeeded.
    • The three prophetic birds exist, and I intend to have them appear in visions to the PCs.
    • Baba Yaga exists, though possibly in a state similar to Koschei.
    • Cossacks act as rangers and adventurers in the wilderness, and know quite a bit about the strange things that have happened.
    • The DnD races exist, although I need to get my friend's book, as it has explanations of how they would fit into a Slavic campaign setting.


    So I need to research more about:
    • Russian History
    • Cossacks
    • Slavic Folklore


    What do you think? What should I change, what can I add, and how can we flesh this all out?

    I appreciate all feedback! I really want to make this an enjoyable campaign for my friends, since they all think it's a great idea.
    Last edited by Xallace; 2009-05-23 at 08:16 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    This would fit in wonderfully as a part of the Ravenloft campaign setting, with Rasputin\Koschei as the Dreadlord.
    If RPG's have taught me anything, it's that all social and economic problems of the world can be solved through murder.

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    I'm really not familiar with Ravenloft. Care to elaborate?
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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Wow, this thing sounds cool, though, even with the grating insert of the KGB in there.

    Cossacks were mostly serfs that ran away past the borders and were granted liberty in exchange for protecting the Empire's borders. They were not on very good terms with the government most of the time, and were expert riders and survivalists. There were lots of different types of them over the years, but around the time of WWI, they were fully annexed by the government and used as scouting units, being considered inferior to dragoons, hussars and lancers. Without the war, you could have them break ties off with the government and thus ruin Rasputin's utopia, driving him further into the ritual.

    In terms of folklore, take a look at Zmei Gorynich (fire-breathing hydra thing), Solovei Razboinik ("Nightingale" the bandit, able to cause massive winds by whistling) and the three heroes Ilya Muromets, Alesha Popovich and Dobrynia Nikitich. There's also a standard stand-in adviser woman character by the name of Vasilisa the Wise and/or Beautiful that you can use.
    There are old Slavic names you can give your NPCs that would mesh well with this. The most badass set, I find, are those that end in -slav (glory): Svyatoslav, Vseslav, Mstislav, etc. These are mostly used by the early Princes of the Rus city-states, so look there.

    If you are tempted to insert an heir, do not name him Alexei. Traditionally, heirs are not named that. Dmitri would be a good name in this case, as a reference to the heir that died as a child, ending that royal line, and bringing on an impostor from Poland who then got killed.
    Last edited by Flickerdart; 2009-05-22 at 08:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Just out of curiosity, what's the name of this book? It sounds fascinating.
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    My Characters
    According to this test, I am a LN Half-Orc Cleric, Lvl.2.
    "And in the layer of the Deep Ones, we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory forever." - H.P. Lovecraft

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    In D20 Russia, Dice Role YOU!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by Calanon View Post
    Raven_Cry's comments often have the effects of a +5 Tome of Understanding

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravens_cry View Post
    In D20 Russia, Dice Role YOU!!!
    Thats what I thought this was going to be about as well.
    Awesome avatar by the amazing Serpentine!

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    Spell Mastery. Seriously a Wizard without Spell Mastery is like a Fighter without Weapon Focus: possible, but why?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Wow, this thing sounds cool, though, even with the grating insert of the KGB in there.
    Well thanks! Yeah, my original vision included some kind of super-police with more tech than any of the PCs; not knowing any Russian, I couldn't really make up a name, and I figured the KGB fit the bill. That said, I'll be referring to them as the Committee for State Security, since we're speaking English, and since I also don't know much about them I doubt they'll act much like the real KGB.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart
    USEFUL INFORMATION!
    Many thanks! That's a very good start for me.

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    Just out of curiosity, what's the name of this book? It sounds fascinating.
    Frost and Fur. You can find it on Amazon for cheap. But I can't vouch for how fascinating it actually is; I merely skimmed a little.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravens_cry
    In D20 Russia, Dice Role YOU!!!
    In Southern California, you can always find a party,
    In d20 Russia, the party can always find you!

    Blasted diviners.
    Last edited by Xallace; 2009-05-22 at 08:53 PM.
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    If you wanna go the Sci-Fi route.

    Think Hellboy.

    Psionic studies, etc.

    (I don't know if it pertains to just German, but overall I think it can mesh)

    Alternately,
    When in doubt, run WW2
    Real world campaigns are really fun, and work well from past experience.

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    The phrasing for the KGB's name is very much a post-revolution phrasing though, especially since it was only coined in 1954 (the names Cheka and NKVD being used before that). Under the Czar, you don't have committees. Colloquially referring to them as Okhrana ("guards") should be fine, and you can use the full name that you have already for official documents if you want to.

    Psionics would not work as well as a focus on maybe Divine casting or Warlocks. Imperial Russia was much about the mystical during its decline, consider Rasputin himself as a good example.

    Also, for the phylactery, make the hare a Paragon Pseudonatural That Damn Crab Hare. And the duck a dragon in disguise. For the uninitiated, that is how Koschei stored his phylactery: on the island of Buyan, in an ancient oak was hidden a chest. In the chest was a hare, inside of which is a duck, inside of which is an egg. Inside the egg is a needle that contains his death (breaking it kills him, unlike standard D&D liches). Now, none of those things are exactly challenging for a campaign culmination, so ramp them up a bit.
    Last edited by Flickerdart; 2009-05-22 at 09:23 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
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    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    What's the name of the book? I kind of what to check it out if it's about Russia. Moscow. Communism. Vladamir.

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by WeeFreeMen View Post
    If you wanna go the Sci-Fi route.

    Think Hellboy.

    Psionic studies, etc.

    (I don't know if it pertains to just German, but overall I think it can mesh)

    Alternately,
    When in doubt, run WW2
    Real world campaigns are really fun, and work well from past experience.
    I picture the whole campaign happening in Mignola's art style. So, yeah. Also, Hellboy did encounter Koschei at one point. I'll have to see if I can dig up the comic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart
    The phrasing for the KGB's name is very much a post-revolution phrasing though, especially since it was only coined in 1954 (the names Cheka and NKVD being used before that). Under the Czar, you don't have committees. Colloquially referring to them as Okhrana ("guards") should be fine, and you can use the full name that you have already for official documents if you want to.
    See, that's a good thing to know. You're rather knolwedgable on all this. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Berserk Monk
    What's the name of the book? I kind of what to check it out if it's about Russia. Moscow. Communism. Vladamir.
    Frost and Fur. It has one chapter on integrating Slavic mythos and society into a DnD game, along with Inuit and general "Ice Age."
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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Speaking of the Inuit...Siberia has an equivalent culture, the Chukchi. They are also the butt of a huge amount of jokes, so your players could be falsely tricked into believing they'll be a breeze, only to get trounced.

    Though, putting two (or three if you're splitting off the cossacks) new cultures in might be a bit overkill. Would definitely help to make it clear that this is over here and there is a different place, not just "hey we walked in a direction for a while and these people have new quests but are otherwise exactly the same".
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    The KGB thing is bugging me because it didn't exist as that prior to WWII (like the CIA)

    The Okhrana or Cheka might be a better fit Or even the "Third Section".
    Last edited by Asbestos; 2009-05-22 at 10:57 PM.

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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravens_cry View Post
    In D20 Russia, Dice Role YOU!!!
    Bah, should have figured someone would have gotten to this before me
    My Current Works


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    Default Re: d20 Russia: Campaign Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Asbestos View Post
    The KGB thing is bugging me because it didn't exist as that prior to WWII (like the CIA)

    The Okhrana or Cheka might be a better fit Or even the "Third Section".
    Yeah, that's all been explained, I just didn't get around to changing it. Thanks though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart
    Inside the egg is a needle that contains his death (breaking it kills him, unlike standard D&D liches). Now, none of those things are exactly challenging for a campaign culmination, so ramp them up a bit.
    I hear some versions of the tale you have to break it against his forehead to kill him.
    Last edited by Xallace; 2009-05-23 at 08:08 AM.
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