The Ravenloft Files: Dead of the Night
The Northern Core
The following is some general information about the northern portion of the Core lands of Ravenloft. This is knowledge that would be known by any commoner living in the area.
As a general rule of thumb, the people of Ravenloft are not particularly religious. This is largely because most people of Ravenloft feel that the gods have abandoned them. And this feeling is supported by the fact that clerics who arrive in the Land of the Mists from another world, frequently experience a sense that they have been cut off from their deities, despite the fact that they still receive spells when they pray. Most commoners only deal with the local church when there is a funeral or a wedding to be held; otherwise they tend to avoid the church and very few people regularly show up for Sunday sermons. But this is only a general rule of thumb, and there are exceptions to this rule, which depends largely on the domain one is in (and which can vary a great deal).
In the northern portion of the Core we will be dealing, for the most part, with the two most common religions, which are summarized below:
Ezra The Church of Ezra was born 77 years ago, when a son of the notorious Dilisnya dynasty claimed that a divine entity, Ezra, Our Guardian of the Mists, had given him a message to spread to all the world. According to most traditions in the church, Ezra was a virtuous mortal woman who, despairing of the evils of the world, forever surrendered her mortality to the Mists to become an eternal guardian of mankind. However, the fractious sects of the Church of Ezra have been debating the true nature and teachings of their ascended patron for decades. The original, lawful neutral sect, also called the Home Faith, is centered in Borca. It appoints Ezra’s faithful clerics, called anchorites, to the task of protecting and healing her faithful, keeping them safe from the forces of evil. The lawful good sect in Mordent also teaches that anchorites must convert as many souls to Ezra’s flock as possible for their own good. The mystical, neutral sect, in Dementlieu, claims that Ezra was a goddess who abandoned her callous fellow deities to offer mortals succor, and the sect spends its time studying the true nature of their goddess. Lastly, the lawful evil sect, centered in Nevuchar Springs (in Darkon) prophesies an imminent Time of Unparalleled Darkness, when the unfaithful will be consumed by darkness. All anchorites agree that Ezra cannot protect those who do not accept her into their hearts. The (clerical) Mists domain is unique to anchorites; Ezra’s patronage allows them to call on the Mists for aid. Ezra’s holy symbol is a silver longsword superimposed on an alabaster kite shield and adorned with a sprig of belladonna, and her favored weapon is the longsword.
The Eternal Order It is thought by some that Azalin, the ruler of Darkon, constructed this religion around the fearful folklore of his subjects as a tool for societal control. Darkonian tradition holds that their land originally belonged to the dead. The living stole this world, banishing the unliving to the Gray Realm, but someday, in a prophesied event called the Hour of Ascension, the vengeful dead will return to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. The clerics of the Eternal Order worship a patchwork pantheon of death deities borrowed from other religions. Worship focuses on performing countless rituals intended to appease the dead and continually postpone the Hour of Ascension. The Eternal Order’s holy symbol is a hooded human skull, and their favored weapon is the scythe.
Note – The Eternal Order is the official state religion in Darkon and all other faiths are generally persecuted. This is especially true in and around the capital city of Il Aluk. However, because so many citizens of Darkon see the Eternal Order as simply a means for Azalin to control the people, there is a considerable amount of opposition to the religion, though it is often in secrecy. In communities of demi-humans (elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings), many of the demi-humans still cling to the religions of their race’s ancestors. And the further one is removed from Il Aluk, the more common and more open these religions are. The main exception to this is the lawful evil sect of the Church of Ezra in Nevuchar Springs, which is as far away from Il Aluk as one could possibly be and still be in Darkon and it is gaining in popularity. Another religion in Darkon is the Faith of the Overseer which appeared in Martira Bay about a century ago. This religion stresses the importance of community and offers hope for overall divine justice in a world that often seems unfair – but this religion has little power or influence outside of Martira Bay.
Each domain (or country as they would more accurately be called by the general populace) is different from its neighbors in a number of ways (because each is derived from a wide variety of worlds), including their culture, style, technology, demographics, religion, language, history and amount of magic. Each domain, therefore has various stats (in game terms) to help define these different levels of culture, technologies and magic. The domains that we will deal mostly with (and which should be the homelands of each PC) as well as their Cultural Levels (CL) and Magic Ratings (MR) are as follows:
Darkon CL = from Dark Ages (500 AD) to Chivalric (1550 AD) depending on how near to civilization; MR = 4 or 5 (typical fantasy setting like Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms); the domain of Darkon is actually derived from the World of Greyhawk, which is why it is so similar to Greyhawk.
Lamordia CL = Renaissance (1700 AD) – one of the highest rated technologies in Ravenloft; MR = 2 (fairly low magic due to high technology); this realm is based largely on Switzerland during the Renaissance period.
Falkovnia CL = Medieval (1400 AD); MR = 3; this domain is based largely on eastern Europe (Transylvania). It’s leader is very warlike and he has tried numerous times to invade its neighboring countries, especially Darkon (4 times) and has been repulsed every time.
Dementlieu CL = Renaissance (1700 AD) – like Lamordia, highest technologies, most civilized of all lands and fewest monsters; MR = 5 (despite its high technology); this domain is based largely on France during the Renaissance period.
Mordent CL = Renaissance (1700 AD) – high technology like Lamordia and Dementlieu; MR = 3; this domain is based largely on England during the Renaissance period.
Richemulot CL = Chivalric (1550 AD); MR = 3 or 4; this domain is based largely on France during an earlier period.