Sclavini (Zyanya Supplement)
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Sclavini is the home of the Council of the Unseen Star, dedicated to preserving the blood magic. Warlocks are believed to have ancestors among the spirits or even among the ancient daemons. They are both prized and feared by the Sclavini. The Council of the Unseen Star occasionally infiltrates other nations, seeking to find and train others of warlock bloodlines.
- 1 Specific Nations
- 2 History
- 3 Commonalities
- 4 Religion
- 5 Organizations
- 6 In the World
- 7 Character Creation Info
The Black Forest
The Black Forest spreads throughout the Sclavini region. It is the home of most of the spirits and the source of most Sclavini legends. Every Sclavini is taught from childhood not to wander into the woods at night, for at night the spirits roam freely. Roads are protected by various practices, and considered safe enough, but some parts of the Black Forest are dangerous even by day. Sclavini both fear and respect the forest.
And though the Black Forest presents a danger to the people of the Sclavini region, the people of various regions have a rather symbiotic relationship with the woods. Though a few are lost to the woods now and then, the woods do provide them with a certain protection. When the Amareth invaded, the villagers fled into the forest, calling upon the spirits to protect them. And the spirits did so, falling upon the Amareth invaders with all their wrath while the villagers took shelter within the forest. No matter how dangerous the forest may be, all Sclavini know that if they are in danger from an outsider, all they need do is lead that outsider into the Black Forest and the spirits within will consider the outsider to be a ‘gift of safe passage.’
Wild Elves make their homes in the Black Forest, dwelling among the spirits within. They too, will come to the aid of the Sclavini peoples in times of war, knowing that while the Sclavini are content to leave them alone, other peoples may not be.
Most of the villages within the Sclavini region are self-sufficient. Most of their exports are things like grain and wool. Most peasants believe that what the land does not provide, they do not need. They exist on simple but hearty fare, and drink vodka or beer made by a local. The villages occasionally trade with the Wild Elves, but such is rare and usually only limited to things like medicine or foodstuffs in times of hardship.
The nobility of some nations however, are importing all sorts of new-fangled things and are willing to pay high prices in attempts to outdo their neighbors.
The common people of Sclavini exhibit a strange duality. On one hand, they are extremely superstitious, believing that failing to observe their traditions can cause great evil to befall them, and they are very fatalistic, knowing that sometimes, even if they observe the traditions, evil still occasionally befalls them.
And yet they tend to be a very good-natured, hospitable people who believe that each person should be allowed to live their own way. When the Amareth Empire sent its first emissaries to the Sclavini region, they were shocked to discover a village where a warlock lived and dealt with various demon-kind, and the locals did not even bat an eyelash. It takes a lot of doing to rile up the Sclavini people, but once achieved, they can be implacable foes.
They usually dress in simply styled woolen clothing that is often colorfully woven and embroidered. Since they know that ultimately, their fates are not their own, they see no reason to dwell upon darkness and enjoy each day as it comes. And yet they believe that since things like wealth and beauty are gifts from the spirits, it is not right to brag lest they be taken away.
They consider themselves people of the land, and few ever travel more than a few miles from the places of their birth. Where their ancestors dwelled, there the spirits know them and there they are the most comfortable. Those that must travel often take a bit of earth with them in a small pouch, and keep a blanket for their domovoi to rest upon when he travels to protect them.
Though each nation within the Sclavini region has its own government, most towns and villages are fairly autonomous due to the difficulty of getting from village to village. The outer villages tend not to care in the slightest who actually rules them, as long as the ruler is willing to defend the land against invaders and does not try to change Sclavini customs.
Each nation is ruled by a Tsar that theoretically wields absolute power. In reality, their power rarely extends beyond the capital city. Within the nobility, fierce competitions and often outright assassinations take place over the throne of the Tsar.
Due to the Sclavini’s ‘to each their own’ philosophy, war between the nations is rare. In the past however, they have fought viciously to protect their ancestral lands. There are many legends of mighty warriors, and the Sclavini speak proudly of how ruthless and vicious these warriors could be in defending the land. In times of invasion, the Sclavini do not hesitate to join the battle, turning even mundane farming equipment into weapons of war. Villagers treat Sclavini soldiers with the greatest of hospitality, providing them with food, shelter, and healing if needed. The lands are dotted with mighty fortresses, memories of times in which the land had to turn back invaders.
Rebellions on the other hand, are a slightly different story. Every now and then the nobility pushes the peasantry too far, and the end results are never pretty. Many of the greatest of the legendary warriors of Sclavini rose from the ranks of the peasants to cast down nobles whose vices damaged the Sclavini way of life or whose excesses led to starvation among the villages.
Most of the world’s tieflings are Sclavini. In addition, tribes of Wild Elves live in the Black Forest, usually avoiding contact with others. There is a community of Halflings in Bohdan that has existed long enough to be considered part of the Sclavini region. How it got there originally has been lost to myth. Killoren can also be found in Sclavini, as can Mongrelfolk. Both are believed to descendants of those who breed with daemons or escaped after having been taken by spirits.
The nobility of the Sclavini region have a different enough mindset that they may almost be considered a different culture entirely. The nobility are ostentatious and prone to building monuments to themselves, and wield powers of life and death on their estates.
Though the Sclavini may have patron deities, they give offerings to all the gods. They offer either to get a need granted, or to turn away a god’s eye. Entering the Black Forest without first making an offering to Berstuk is considered at the very least to be suicidal.
In addition to the gods, each Sclavini household has a personal spirit, usually an ancestor of some sort or a faery, called a Domovoi (if male) or a Kikimora (if female). A family’s well-being depends on how well their treat their household spirit. Each household has a blanket set near the hearth that is considered to be the bed of the spirit. These blankets are often beautiful works of art, carefully woven and beautifully embroidered from the finest materials the household can get their hands on. After all, the better a Domovoi is treated, the better they will look out for the members of the household. The embroidery on most blankets functions as a family tree of sorts. When a young woman is married, her female relatives often present her with a blanket, to which the young woman will add her own family as it grows. Even those who travel carry such a blanket, so the Domovoi have a place to sleep when they travel with them. The Domovoi and Kikimora are often served the choicest bits from each family meal.
Sclavini believe their dreams can be messages from the spirits. They also employ Tarot cards to glean information from the spirits.
During the Winter Solstice, or Great Night, shamans don grotesque masks and coats of sheep wool, roaming around the villages, as during the Great Night, it was believed, spirits of dead ancestors traveled across the land, entering villages and houses to celebrate the new year with their living relatives. This day is dedicated to Veles, god of the underworld.
During the Spring Solstice, there is a large spring festival dedicated to Svantovit, god of vegetation and fertility. Processions of young men or girls go round villages on this day, carrying green branches or flowers as symbols of new life. They travel from home to home, reciting certain songs and bless each household with traditional fertility rites. The leader of procession, usually riding on horse, would be identified with Svantovit.
The Summer Solstice is the day weddings take place, called Ivanje. There is a lot of eating and drinking on the night before, large bonfires called Kres are lit, and youngsters couple and dance in circles, or jump across fires. Young girls make wreaths from flowers and fern, toss them into rivers, and on the basis of how and where they floated, foretell each other how they would get married.
In the middle of the summer, before the harvest, is a day dedicated to the White God. This is considered the holiest day of the year. In some remote areas, this festival still contains human sacrifice.
The Sclavini believe in many different forms of spirits.
Vila are female spirits who live in the wilderness and sometimes clouds. They are the spirits of women who had been frivolous in their lifetimes and now floated between here and the afterlife. They sometimes appear as the swans, snakes, horses, falcons, or wolves that they can shapeshift into but usually appear as beautiful maidens, naked or dressed in white with long flowing hair. The voices of the Vila are as beautiful as the rest of them, and one who hears them loses all thoughts of food, drink or sleep, sometimes for days. Despite their feminine charms, however, the Vila are fierce warriors. The earth is said to shake when they do battle. They have healing and prophetic powers and are sometimes willing to help human beings. At other times they lure young men to dance with them, which according to their mood can be a very good or very bad thing for the lad. They ride on horses or deer when they hunt with their bows and arrows and will kill any man who defies them or breaks his word. Fairy rings of deep thick grass are left where they have danced which should never be trod upon (bad luck). Offerings for Vila consist of round cakes, ribbons, fresh fruits and vegetables or flowers left at sacred trees and wells and at fairy caves.
Rusalka are spirits that dwell in lakes. They are considered beings of evil force. They are usually the souls of young women who were drowned, either by a lover or by throwing themselves into the lakes after being jilted by lovers. They try to drown others, dragging them down to share their unhappy fate. They particularly target the young. They can be laid to rest by being avenged.
A Vodianoi is a male water spirit, and particularly malevolent, existing almost exclusively to drown swimmers who have angered him by their boldness. Reports of his appearance vary; some tales define him as a naked old man, bloated and hairy, covered in slime, covered in scales, or simply as an old peasant with a red shirt and beard. He is also reported to have the ability to transform into a fish. They can be kind to fishermen who appease them, herding fish into nets. When angered, they are prone to breaking dams, jamming watermills, and causing floods.
Bagiennik are male water demons that sink boats if not properly appeased. Bies are demons that exist only to do evil. Boginki steal babies and replace them with their own children (warlocks are oft believed to result from such). Drekavac comes from the soul of a murdered or abandoned child. They are believed to climb into bed with sleepers, seeking comfort. However, it invariably drains the life-force and warmth from it’s comforter, killing them if they manage to stay in the bed until the morning. Koschei are evil spirits that menace those who brag too much. Leszi are spirits that protect the woodlands. They often appear in the form of wolves and attack those that do not treat the forest with proper respect. Likho are evil spirits whose appearances herald misfortune and tragedy. Stuhać are mountain demons that break the legs of travelers and their mounts by putting tripping stones in their path. Topielec are swamp demons that suck livestock and people down into the mud or drown them in pools of still water. They also bring disease. Zduhać are weather demons.
Due perhaps to some remaining influence of the daemons, or perhaps the actions of the spirits, dead that are not given proper burial rights are prone to rising, as are those with tragic or unnatural lives. In addition, Sclavini is the birthplace of vampires, and such creatures can dwell both in the cities, masquerading as humans, or hidden in the woods surrounded by undead minions.
Brotherhood of the Moon
Council of the Unseen Star
Concord of the Circle
In the World
Some Sclavini have recently settled in Shieldmeet, forming an enclave that very much resembles a Sclavini village. Lady Daciana Bogna of Bohdan and Lord Casimir Gostislav of andrzej represent Sclavini interests on the council. See Sclavini District in Shieldmeet.
It comes to no ones surprise that many Sclavini are not particularily happy with amareth right now. That said, the Sclavini are generally willing to get along with everyone. They are among the few that can maintain diplomatic relations with the Itotia. The Tatsuo distrust the Sclavini, as they feel the Sclavini are too prone to rebellion to be considered ‘stable’ people. The Basira find the Sclavini far to superstitious and the two cultures rarely find common ground, but there is no ill-will. The Makarios find the Sclavini tendency to resisting change and advancement to be pure insanity. The Onatah and the Orisha share the Sclavini reverence for the spirit world and oft find common ground there.
Character Creation Info
Caravan Sign (not a written language)
(note that the cities in Sclavini are spread out and isolated enough that almost every city has its own dialect)
Iron Will, Self-Sufficient, Fey Heritage, Fiendish Heritage, Dreamtelling, Weapon and Torch, Blooded, Bullheaded, Forester, Otherworldly, Strong Soul, Aftersight, Ancestral Spirit, Oral History, Enduring Life, Unquenchable Flame of Life, Courage, Ghostsight, Haunted, Jaded, Lunatic, Redhead, Tarokka Natural, Mastery of Dreams, Mastery of the Mists
Axe – Throwing, Club, Crossbow – Heavy, Cutlass, Dagger, Flail, Gauntlet – Spiked, Hammer – Light, Handaxe, Harpoon, Longaxe, Maul, Pick, Quarterstaff, Scythe, Shortbow, Shortbow – Composite, Sickle, Sling, Spear, Sword – Short, Sword Cane, Dagger – Whip, Longspear, Halberd, Battleaxe, Clawed Bracer.