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Part three touches planar cosmology. It has been taught as such IG in the university but it might be a bit too "high magic" for a common book shop.
Spoiler: Arcane Fundamentals III: Planar Cosmology • show
Title: Arcane Fundamentals III: Planar Cosmology
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Magic Library
Content: Arcane Fundamentals III: The Energies of the Planes
1. Planar Structure.
2. Inner Planes.
3. Paraelements.
4. Quasielements.
5. Applications.
The structure of the planes, the six basic elements and their simplest amalgamates are defined. Uses in arcane practice are briefly discussed.
1. Planar Structure:
Planes are realities that are metaphysically separated from one another. The cosmos is comprised of a variety of planes, but for this text the reader need only be aware of the material plane, the inner planes and the outer planes. The material plane is our world. The inner planes are the elemental planes that are, metaphysically speaking, closest to the prime material plane. The outer planes are the planes of moral and ethical extremes including the abyss, heaven and hell.
2. Inner Planes:
There are six cardinal inner planes corresponding to the six basic energies of the cosmos. The positive and negative planes are above and below the prime material. The planes of fire, earth, water and air are arranged about the material in a wheel between the negative and positive. Note that these planes are all arranged such that their elemental opposite is also placed metaphysically opposite. Positive and negative; air and earth; fire and water. It is the interaction of these fundamental energies in the material plane that produces substantial matter.
The plane of positive energy is one of infinite brilliant energy. The unwary visitor will be burned to nothing by the storm of energy. The plane of negative energy is an expanse of endless entropy and stagnation. There is no air, and the negative energy will kill living things swiftly if they are not prepared.
The plane of water is an infinite sea, filled with life that is sustained by free floating solid reefs. The plane of fire has gravity and is primarily comprised of loosely packed semi-solid flame. The plane of air is filled with little besides air; the unwary traveller will fall forever without a flight spell. The plane of earth is deep and twisting caverns, and shifts constantly; it is easy to be buried alive here.
These six basic energies interact constructively with one another; that is to say they synthesise new elemental arrangements together. The exception to this is elemental opposites, which destroy one another outright.
3. Paraelements:
Though each of the inner planes are physically infinite, they have metaphysical boundaries. At these boundaries there are confluences of two energies. Whether these confluences are their own planes or not remains a matter of debate. What is important to know is they exist, and they are where we derive a number of basic elemental compounds. For the sake of simplicity I will refer to the confluences as planes. The paraelements are formed at the confluences of the four “natural” energies: fire, earth, water and air.
The plane of ice is formed at the confluence of air and water. This is a system of frozen caves that give to floating icebergs on the side of water, and sheer cliffs on the side of air. The plane of ooze is formed at the confluence of earth and water. It is a shifting quagmire and the likely source of conjured acid. The plane of smoke is formed at the confluence of fire and air. It is a plane of burning gas and storms of flame with little solid ground. The plane of magma is formed at the confluence of earth and fire. It is a land of volcanic activity and poisonous gasses.
4. Quasielements:
Each of the “natural” planes also has a confluence with both the positive and negative energy planes. We call these confluences the quasielemental planes. As before, it is debatable whether these are their own planes or simply a quirk of planar interaction.
The plane of lightning is at the confluence of positive and air. This is a plane of storm and constant agitation, with no land. The plane of vacuum is at the confluence of negative and air. This is the elemental absence of air itself, and therefore this energy can be used to remove air from an environment without utilising earth. This is a common use for the negatively aligned quasielements.
The plane of radiance is at the confluence of positive and fire. This is a plane of great heat and dazzling brilliance. I have read that it is quite beautiful, if one has appropriate abjurations to view it. The plane of ash is at the confluence of negative and fire. As the inverse of flame, it is an expanse of warmth sapping space. Note that this is distinct from cooling and therefore wards against cold will do nothing to prevent death for mortal visitors.
The plane of steam is at the confluence of positive and water. This plane is one of water vapour. Notably, the vapour is cool. The plane of salt is at the confluence of negative and water. It is an airless space where all water dwindles to nothing. The planar traveller is advised to have some means of protecting themselves form negative energy, if they do not wish to desiccate.
The plane of mineral is at the confluence of positive and earth. This is a plane of glittering stones of all kinds, elementals of gemstone and power originate from these dazzling caverns. The greedy traveller is advised to take special care protecting themselves should they visit this plane; the earth inherent to beings of the material will crystallise rapidly here. In simple terms: living visitors are turned into lifeless crystals. The plane of dust is at the confluence of negative and earth. Here, all things decay swiftly to dust, even the living. Elemental dust is therefore an excellent tool for destroying structures, if properly controlled.
5. Applications:
The pragmatically minded reader might wonder why knowledge of these various elements is useful to the practising arcanist. It is because these elements are fundamental to the physics of our world and our magic. We must understand how they interact, and what their mingling produces, if we are to keep our experimental works contained. Many arcanists have lost limbs or their lives when they failed to account for the quasielemental by products of their experiments. More, the many basic elements can be useful for magics meant to create or destroy things, or achieve a specific physical effect. I have included some uses in this work, but the clever arcanist will doubtless find many more in their years of practice.

Collected songs about fanciful entities, including a mora about the folly of the Old Wolf of Kartakass.

Spoiler: The Conquerors Songbook • show
Title: The Conqueror's Songbook
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Houlgrave's
This is a collection of songs authored by a travelling bard, who disappeared not long after performing The Old Wolf in Kartakass.

Nothing Else to Be:

Deep in the witchwood, where the free spirits play,

There came a Hunter searching for fresh prey.

The moon on his shoulders and fire in his eyes,

He howled and the witchwood was still.

You are hunter or prey.

By the night or the day.

There's nothing else to be!

Be prey or be free.

From the wood came a champion,

Wine soaked and deceitful!

"We make the world our prey, why don't you stay?"

The Hunter saw then the heart.

He vowed to play his part. Again he howled!

You are hunter or prey.

By the night or the day.

There's nothing else to be!

Be prey or be free.

Though he saw how others bowed,

He would not be cowed!

The heart sang its song and consumed the baying throngs.

But the Hunter saw the lie and so he did cry:

I am no slave to a tree.

I am hunter, not prey.

The heart burns this day.

For there are no chains on me.

I choose to be free.

Septimus' Crown

Deep in the dust amidst rust and decay,

Where all fear to go and only dead men stay.

Candles burn low, the wind is a whisper,

There's no light in this room, save alone on a throne.

One light, then two, the lord opens his eyes and cries:


No longer a gnome, now wreathed in shadow and bone!

The doors slam closed and he cackles:



You've come to my kingdom in search of riches!

There's some there in the corner, with other failed liches.

But listen well meat, take a seat!


Lord of all I survey, at least for today.

There's none better, you see,

Save the one that made me.


Put that bauble down, gather 'round!

I am master today and for me you shall play.

Focus if you can on my BRILLIANT plan.

I know it's hard for you to understand,

But my freedom is at hand!


My master comes now to an enormous disaster.

The cretin made me, but soon all shall see!

Lord Blacktallow does not bend the knee.

I will tear him apart and reclaim my own heart.


On this day I ascend, or find a glorious end.

Either way they will say: Septimus Blacktallow won that day!

Freedom or death, nothing else shall I claim.

It's time I put my maker to shame.


See how he burns! See how tides turn!



By earth and the stars!

By a gnome's burning heart!


The battle is done.

I fear I have won.

It has cost all I am.

But this was the plan.


This crown I have claimed.

From a master now shamed.

For a throne of bone...

My ashes drift through...


The Old Wolf

Deep in the Wolfwood, where only the daring go,

I heard whisper of a great tree, that only our Grandfathers know!

Though the path was winding, though the wolves did gather,

I set forth on an adventure, to find the truth of the matter!

For there's only one place you can hear,

All that Grandfather Wolf holds dear!

There's only one place you can see,

What the wolves do when they're wild and free!

There's only one place I care to be,

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!

Over rivers and under trees, the path wound through history,

Dead Hawks in empty castles, dark men burned in scores,

All the enemies of the wolf had fallen into their maws!

But through it all I did finally see,

The stately figure of Grandfather Tree!

High I did climb, into his mighty branches,

Surely, I thought, I would find here my answers!

What secrets does Grandfather Wolf know?

After all his grand hunts, where next does he plan to go?

For there's only one place you can hear,

All that Grandfather Wolf holds dear!

There's only one place you can see,

What the wolves do when they're wild and free!

There's only one place I care to be,

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!

Night fell fast as I clung to the branches,

from my secret place I did listen as the wolves gathered with their master.

I heard a voice, sickly sweet, howl out from beneath:

"Hear me now, my moon kissed brothers; I am a wolf like no other!"

"I am the great hunter you know as Grandfather."

"Hear me now as I make my decree: it is time to be done with the forest and the trees!"

"I'm tired of the prowling, no more being free! There's a whole world of man and it's all I care to see."

"I'm tired of the hunt, my schemes and my tricks, I'd rather howl for the humans that gave me a crown!"

There was a silence there after, then it was filled with laughter,

The Grandfather, once respected, was roundly rejected!

For there's only one place you can hear,

An Old Wolf's shuddering despair!

There's only one place you can see,

The last gasps of a has been!

There's only one place I care to be;

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!

Desperately curious I peered down from my perch,

Scores of wolves gathered below around a gilt throne!

There sat our Grandfather, bloated and alone.

Fur once so majestic had grown thin and mangy,

Tail all twisted and teeth terribly mangled.

Like a man he did sit, oh what a sight to see!

I could hardly believe it was a wolf before me.

No, the truth was clear, even though I was not near!

The Grandfather was wolf no more,

He had become a Grandfather Boar!

For there's only one place you can hear,

An Old Wolf's end come near!

There's only one place you can see,

The death of a fat wolf's dignity!

There's only one place I care to be,

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!

To the circle then came an outsider,

Her pelt dark and sleek, her yellow eyes the Grandfather's did meet!

"You were once a great beast that called no man master, but your time is now gone and you seed nought but disaster."

"With ash on the winds and fires on the rise, it's time, once great beast, that you opened your eyes:"

"Fat and feeble you've grown, so I claim these woods for my own."

"Grandfather Boar you are wolf no more."

"Only my prey. Dead if you choose to stay!"

For there's only one place you can hear,

Grandfather Wolf's dying whimpers!

There's only one place you can see,

What becomes of those that stop living free!

There's only one place I care to be,

Under the boughs of Grandfather Tree!

A collection of incendiary songs for Port-a-Lucine's disenfranchised.
Spoiler: LE FRACAS • show
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine black market

The works of le Fracas belong to every man. Never forget the dream.

The Ballad of Felix Toure:

The hour is late. There's blood on the stones. Another poor soul, cornered scared and alone.

The Coats don't patrol here. The night's a grim game. But from the shadows steps a hero; we already know his name.


With a BANG. BANG. BANG. There's an end to the gang. Our poor soul is free.

Because there's a truth plain to see. If you don't bleed blue, there's nothing the Coats will do.

They'll pay "heroes" and foreigners to kill one or two, but they don't care about you.

And if you step out of line? You're comitting a crime, and the lapdogs will cut short your time.

He knew that pain. The loss and the blood. Neighbors lost to the mud.

So he took arms for a cause. He took on Communal laws. If you prey on the meek, if exploitation is what you seek?

Then he stepped from the night and judged you in the light.


With a BANG. BANG. BANG. True justice is done. No more should we run!

The frills have their laws. The Church has their doors. To who do we pray when they come to take us away?


Patron of a people. The home is his steeple. The State took him away, but in our hearts he shall stay.

His spirit roars with a vengeance when our lives are taken. The frills might forget, but we know the path he set.

So when they come for your own, when they break into your home? There's only one thing to do...




Fall in Something Very Like Love:

I've got this tune in my head. You all know how it goes.

 The one with deep eyes, brown hair and a lifetime of blows.

We met only briefly, but I can't seem to forget, the way you moved like anyone that crossed you is dead.

You set my heart racing, and when the light falls on you just right...


This aint one for the stories. This aint good or proper.

Maybe in time those feelings can bloom. But right now in this room?


I'm not proposing. There's time to date, it's true. I want in good time to see more of you.

But to me now? You're a dish, you're a dream!


So drink, dance and move with me just right. I'M FALLING IN SOMETHING VERY LIKE LOVE TONIGHT!

I hope we'll get on. I think we'd make a good match! But there's passion and /passion/, and right now I'm unattached.

I'm really quite simple. A beast at my heart. I like to sing, drink, fight, make true art and...


So take a leap with me through the pale moonlight.

Wont you fall in something like love with me tonight?


There's a ghost at the bar, never says a word, but he's there every time I go.

There's another on the corner, where the gutters overflow, I can't look him in the eye yet but someday I will.

They're under crumbling awnings, they're down crooked streets, they're everywhere in the city that never sleeps.

Where were you when war came again? Where were you when it took family and friends?

Where were you when the storm broke on our town? When the streets ran red, and the sky fell down?

Yeah, they say ghosts they come from business undone.

They're waiting for a righting of wrongs. They're haunting the places they used to know.

I don't know if that's true, but I know that they're there, I know my conscience aint clear.

Where were you when the cables snapped? Where were you when the boiler burst?

Where were you when they came for the young? When childhood was traded for darkness and pain?

I see them still. Ghosts drifting in the rain.

 There's so many places that'll never be the same.

I'm not going to forget. I wont ignore them forever.

I hope some day, that the world will be better.

But for now they're there still, and when it's my time in life's queue...

I wonder if I'll haunt these streets, too.

Broken Promises:

When you're small they'll say; you gotta seize the day...

That if you're quick, if you're bright, if you do everything right...

The world will be yours! How high you'll soar!

So to work you go; aiming high by starting low.

Twelve hour days, eyes glazed, heart weak. You begin to lose hope in ever claiming what you seek.

Still, they'll smile to your face. They'll say: good citizens know their place.

Keep bleeding for me and someday you'll be free!

Each time, you swallow the line. But it's like swallowing poison; soon enough you gotta choose:

To spit it back up or die slow. I know how I want to go. So when they open their powdered mouths I shout:







I'm over the lies, I've heard your promises before.

Always you say: "just wait a little more".

Always you say: "there's a new plan to help."

You live like pigs on high and pretend that you care if I die.

Well I know it's not true. Here's all I got to say to you:




There's no life on a factory floor.

There's no law that'll guard my door.

Your kingdom glitters bright with all that stolen delight.

I wont rob my own, like those thugs that shed our blood, but from you?





Songs also written udner the Fracas period, but the author was not me the player. I don't know who wrote them but they're good.

Spoiler: LE FRACAS II • show
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Black Market
The works of le Fracas belong to every man. Never forget the dream.

Well Paid, Well Fed, Submissive:

The nobles take care of us,
They tend to our wants and needs;
Or at least that’s what they claim,
With the phrase “Noblesse Oblige”.

The truth is much more ugly:
Most treat us worse than dogs.
All part of the machinery,
We’re ground down, broken cogs.

Well paid, well fed, submissive.
Is this how you describe a citizen?

Say this for the hunger and the beatings:
At least they don’t lie.
How intolerable the hypocrisy
Of the nobles who dare to cry.

More than food, more than money,
We are deprived of agency.
Promoting the odd self-serving wench
Is no true meritocracy.

Well paid, well fed, submissive.
Is this how you describe a human?

Where are the fruits of the Revolution?
Why have I become so bitter?
Why are we ruled by inbred toffs?
Is truly no-one fitter?

The mendacity of our masters
Has finally taught its lesson:
Despite honeyed words and promises,
True power is not given, it is taken.

Well paid, well fed, submissive
No longer.

The Coward’s Labor:

The nobles of Dementlieu are haughty
And consider themselves free-thinkers.
They ignore the reality:
Their power becomes blinkers.
If they exclaim, “Not signing your name is cowardice!”
Then just ask them: “Who killed Guy Maurice?”

For the powerless and the voiceless,
Rich only in obsequiences,
Speaking truth to power comes
With swift and damning consequences.
If they challenge, “Masking yourself has no honor!”
Respond: “What was the fate of Jacques Varteur?”

Mistrust their perverted justice,
Disbelieve their free expression.
Blind obedience to tradition
Is our true Constitution.
If they offer, “Please, have your say!”
Don’t end up like Felix Touré.

Trust no-one.
Hide your name.
Change your voice.
Wear a mask.
Don’t be a snitch.
Who’s the real coward, hiding behind their power?

Useless Prophylactics

When you’re tumbling with your squeeze,
And don’t know who they’ve seen
When you’re kissing them and loving them,
And getting, well, you know what I mean!

Some swear by sheep intestine tubes
Some on Lamordian contraption
Some use herbal tea, whatever works
To avoid unwanted contagion!

Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
When you’re in need and the blue coats chase
Don’t trust her to keep you safe!

There is a plague amongst the bluebloods
Evil that spreads as it may please
I’ve no fancy doctorate from the university,
So I jus’ call it the Gendarme’s disease

It’s a sickness of the heart
That sucks our blood like a tick
To this illness there’s no cure
Not even a prophylactic

Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
When the blue coats chase you up the wrong track
Don’t trust her to have your back!

We’re good enough to work for her,
And she pays well enough, that’s true
But when it comes to weighty matters
She hasn’t invited you!

She’s got her place at the big table
While we’re crawling on all fours:
Her masters on the Council
Won’t let you forget yours

Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
When the Council tore up the Constitution,
Did you expect her to show contrition?

I hope we’ve learned something today
Let’s not forget the facts
Some people claim to help others
Just to climb on their backs

So if you find yourself wanting,
Buried in a real deep fix
Don’t expect to be protected
By that sycophant Alix!

Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Don’t forget to smile and thank her
[The last verse is spoken without music or mirth]
When the Council’s boot is on your neck

A fanciful retelling of a priest of the Morninglord that fell to vampirism, but ultimately chose to purify themselves in the sun.
Spoiler: The Vicar's Dawn • show
Title: The Vicar's Dawn
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Morninglordians, Houlgrave's
Content: The Vicar's Dawn

Tonight's tale is based on a true story.

Though we took liberties with the details.

But then, no two tellings are quite the same.

In the light of the Dawn she walked.

Healing, from a pain of youth and blood.

Healing, from the abuses of the City of Lights.

She walked with Hope. She walked with Heroes.

For all the cruelty the world had done her?

She would defy the night.

She would defy until Dawn.

Her pain would not define her path.

The cruelty of the world would not enslave her!

But the night is long.

The night is cruel.

The night is ancient.

From the Child of Light, kin were taken.

Peace was shaken. Old pain awakened.

With tin soldiers she marched.

To avenge him? To avenge herself?

No. To be free of the pain.

To heal. For though the darkness was great, there was Hope for the Dawn.

The night took its due.

Her soul chained to a name.

A false faith. Hollow Family.

Where others gave in.

Where lessers served willingly.

She resisted.

From the light the Huntress called.

For the Dawn, her true Family fought.

How could Fear stand against Compassion?

The chain shattered. Florette was free to choose.

She chose the Dawn.

She chose Hope.

She chose to be free.

In the end, it was not might that defeated the night.

It was love.

It is a shame that in those that remain,

we will not see Florette's light again.

For they do not struggle.

They do not care.

They have chosen hate.

So they deserve the stake.

Ethnographic work on caliban
Spoiler: The Lives of Caliban • show
Title: The Lives of Caliban
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Library
Content: Caliban are humans that have been warped in the womb such that they are born with a wide range of features that deviate from typical human anatomy. The Caliban condition does not have an agreed upon cause and the treatment of Caliban throughout much of the core is often harsh or violent. This work is the culmination of several months of interviews conducted with Caliban as well as native Barovians on the life, experiences and nature of Caliban. The aim of this work is to document contemporary Caliban experience in Barovia (though some reports touch on lands beyond) as well as to assess the extent to which Caliban thought deviates from that of a typical human, if at all.

In order to preserve the anonymity of all individuals interviewed over the course of this assessment, the names used in this work are all fictitious. This work will outline early life, daily living and aspirations of Caliban before closing with a general assessment of Caliban mentality.

Early Life

Perhaps the most dangerous period of any Caliban’s life is that which immediately follows their birth all the way through to early childhood. Caliban are considered by Barovians to be dangerous subhumans born of black magic, to be rejected by most and a point of shame for any family unfortunate enough to have one born into it. Infants born with the Caliban condition are no better equipped to fend for themselves than any other infant, yet it is not uncommon for the parents of a Caliban to abandon the infant in the sewers or the woods at their birth. Unsurprisingly, many of these abandoned Caliban die. A lucky few are saved by sympathetic caretakers who can take a variety of forms but most commonly are fellow Caliban.

One Caliban, Caelis, reported being rescued from a death in the sewers by other sewer dwelling Caliban. Caelis was raised communally, able to survive into early childhood thanks to the compassion of certain others of their kind. While not all Caliban living in such conditions act so altruistically, the fact that many do is worthy of note and may serve to explain why there remains such a large population of Caliban in the sewers of Barovia and the lands beyond. It is important to note that while Caelis was cared for enough to be able survive, their childhood had less of the nurturing commonly afforded to natural born children and was considerably truncated. Surviving in a sewer isn’t always easy even for full grown Caliban and so rescued Caliban like Caelis are expected to contribute and support themselves as soon as they are able. This early, survival oriented experience likely contributes to the pragmatic approach to the world many Caliban take.
Those Caliban that are not abandoned by their parents at birth tend to have a greater chance of survival but face their own challenges. Being seen as dangerous monsters by the general populace, Caliban must usually be kept out of sight of the public and their discovery often leads to fear driven hunts or attacks. One Caliban, Marco, was raised by his mother alongside his two unaffected siblings until fearful locals searching houses forced him to flee into the woods. There he lived, maintaining contact with his brother only until faithful of Ezra burned his shack down and forced him to seek refuge in the sewers. Marco’s story is not unique and is not limited to the lands of Barovia.

Symphia was a Caliban born to a mother from beyond the mists and Mordentish merchant who was confined to the basement of her parent’s estate at age ten, spending twenty years with only her mother’s stories and books for company. This sheltered life ended when locals burnt the estate to the ground, forcing Symphia to flee. It is important to note that for Caliban like Marco and Symphia the compassion of certain parents or family members is not shared by all their blood relations. Marco’s brother was particularly supportive, as was Symphia’s mother, but Symphia’s father would visit only on birthdays. There would seem to be a tension between what we might think of as human compassion and the cultural beliefs of a given family member. Such tensions extend beyond the family unit with the terms used to discuss sheltered Caliban depending on the closeness of the speaker to the family. One Barovian reported that family friends might call the Caliban someone’s ‘basement problem’ while acquaintances would use less sanguine terms like ‘wombburned’.

While abandonment or hidden raising appear to be the most common treatments of newborn Caliban, Bernix reported being raise quite publicly in a small village. Bernix was born a ‘runt’ Caliban of small stature. His father did not conceal him and instead painted and dressed him, making him dance for the amusement of others and their coin. This public raising of a Caliban is likely rare but seems to have been made possible by the limited presence of a regulating authority frequenting the small village as well as the non-threatening appearance and handling of Bernix. Whatever the case, there were not many who were willing to spend what little coin they had on watching a Caliban dance. Bernix would ultimately run away from his father but survival would not be easy, in his own words: “lived like mongrel… It were terrible. Almos' freeze, almos' starve.”

Though the details of early Caliban life vary greatly, what remains consistent is the constant threat from Barovian society at large and the lack of any truly safe places. Locals will not long tolerate Caliban living in their vicinity and are quick to rally around efforts to root them out. This tends to make Caliban suspicious, pragmatic and, surprisingly, often quite self-aware. By the time I was interviewing these Caliban they had each recognised and accepted that they were living in a world that is especially dangerous to them; when survival has often been such a daily struggle, there is little room for anything but uncompromising truth when dealing with the world at large.

Daily Living

The nature of the daily lives of many Caliban has already been hinted at in the preceding section: life for most Caliban is about basic survival and security. While there are Caliban that live in isolation, or make their way in lands where they are publicly tolerated, many Caliban in Barovia come to be a part of a sewer community. This community does have a power structure and major issues are resolved by those with the most influence, but for the most part there are few restrictions on members of this community outside of the expectation that trouble making be avoided. Though this community environment affords a degree of protection to a Caliban, life in a sewer is often unpleasant. The stench of local waste is a constant, the air is damp and mold gets into everything. Rats and fungi are the most common sources of nutrition (though it is not unheard of for food from the topside to be acquired).

Sewer dwelling Caliban don’t tend to have professions as common-folk might have, doing work (both legal and illegal) for one another or others in order to make enough fang to live on. Caliban will venture to the surface for work, to hunt for supplies or simply to breathe the clean air but these ventures do carry with them considerable risk. Caliban caught by the garda are thrown back in the sewer at best and are murdered at worst. The treatment of caught Caliban seems to vary based on the outlook of the garda that catch them. Whether some of the garda choose to beat the Caliban back into the sewer out of an aversion to murder or some informal understanding with the Caliban community was a matter of some debate. Caelis suggested that the garda were well aware of the Caliban community in the sewers and elected to leave them be as a part of this informal understanding.

All sewer dwelling Caliban discussed their daily lives largely in terms of doing things in order to survive. Something is useful to their immediate survival, or it is not worth their time. Recreational pursuits in the sewer are limited. When asked what he did for fun, Caelis said: “mocking outlanders, mocking stupid outlanders that come to the pond, mocking stupid people”. Bernix responded similarly when asked the same question: “pokin' fun at dem topsie 'at be wantin' t' talk, like fer make prank, harasses... get 'em riled up over nothin”. Where Caelis and Bernix reported finding entertainment in mocking topsiders, Marco reported enjoying gambling or make puppets out of remains. Topsiders are tolerated by the Caliban of the sewers so long as none bring trouble and all act with a measure of respect. Those that create trouble lose fingers or their lives. My request for interviews was, understandably, met with suspicion but almost every Caliban I spoke with proved reasonable in their dealings once my academic intent was made clear.

Intercourse or drinking were also commonly reported pursuits and, though I never witnessed such, it was reported that occasionally Caliban ‘runts’ would be made to fight for the amusement of others (though Caelis reported being opposed to the practice). While some Caliban are literate, books are not easily protected from damp in the sewers and the practice of writing or reading tended to be seen as an impractical waste of time. Even the poorer topside humans can afford to think at least a week in advance of their immediate needs, Caliban recreation and daily living in the sewers focuses much more heavily on immediate practicalities. An exception to this was a Caliban that preached about ‘Ba’al of Filth’, a god that would lead the excluded and the lost to a homeland. Given the living conditions in the sewers and the lack of common safe havens it is not hard to see why such beliefs might appeal to some Caliban.

Of course, not all Caliban make their home in the sewer and not all Caliban that spend time in the sewer live there at all times. Bernix and Caelis both would spend time away from the sewer, with Caelis even spending time serving in a mercenary company. The Barovian night is filled with dangers but some Caliban brave them in order to engage with the surface world or travel to lands beyond Barovia. The wider travelling Caliban tended to be those that were capable of mustering no small measure of power in their own right. Symphia is an example of a Caliban that never lived in the sewers, reporting living as a professional soldier and staying in the company of those that tolerated her condition. Both Symphia and Caelis demonstrated a range of interests and a large breadth of knowledge, supporting the idea that any limitations in sewer Caliban interests are a consequence of their environment rather than their Caliban condition.


I would conclude my interviews with Caliban by asking them about their aspirations; what they hope for and why they hope for it. Every Caliban gave an approximation of the same answer, what varied was in whether they felt it a realistic pursuit. Caelis provided what was, in my opinion, the most articulate expression of this aspiration. The following is Caelis’ full answer:

“I want to be a man. I want to be a being to whom the law would apply as it does to all, not an animal. I want to feel the warmth of a woman in my arms. I want to be able to live and not merely survive. This, I think, is what is the ambition of every Caliban, or perhaps dream. I am a survivor. My powers ensure that. But I have only lived a few days in my life and always I am reduced again, and again, to being an animal. Reminded of my place.”

I do not think Caelis is wrong in stating that this is what every Caliban might want, were they granted a single wish; to be treated and live as any other human. Symphia had a similar sentiment and argued that in a just world protection of Caliban would be written into the laws of the Barovian land. While Symphia acknowledged that some Caliban’s life experiences would make them poorly adjusted to ‘civilised’ society, gradual introduction and reform was something she argued was possible. Of course, some Caliban had little hope for such a change in the world. When asked whether he thinks things can be changed, Bernix stated the following:

“Youz ever go to dat uh... Ports Loozeen? Dey got dis t'ing dere: powder. Yer load it an a metal rock in dis tink. 'En... Ka-pow. I got dis theory 'at uh... If'n youz got th' will, an' youz get yourself in'at gut or head, 'en dis're likely t' end. But I too chicken fer 'at. Rather do dis circle over an' over.”

As I stated earlier; many Caliban demonstrate a self-awareness about their place in the world that far exceeds that of a typical peasant. Hope for change in the world is far rarer than a cynicism defined by a belief that nothing is ever going to get better. Caliban do not tend to have the luxury of aspirations like life partnership, mastery of skills, invention or discovery of truths. The world is harsh and isn’t getting any kinder, so it is no surprise that the more hopeful Caliban are in the minority.

The Mind

It is commonly claimed by phrenologists that Caliban are far less intelligent than ‘natural’ humans, with thicker skulls resulting in smaller brains and an oversized lizard-brain resulting in poor impulse control and increased aggression. It is also commonly believed by Barovians that Caliban are stupid, animalistic and violent. In this final section I will offer a brief summary of the psychological tendencies of Caliban based on my numerous interviews and interactions. It should be noted that this summary is based on qualitative data and a more rigorous and systematic assessment of Caliban reactions and reasoning would better test the phrenological claims.

It does seem that the average intelligence of a Caliban is lower than that of a ‘natural’ human. This is not say that some Caliban cannot be exceptionally intelligent, but the average does seem to be lower. This is a conclusion I base on the assessments offered by some of the Caliban I interviewed as well as my personal experiences. I do not believe any of the Caliban I met lacked the capacity for learning and I have encountered plenty of ‘natural’ humans that matched the intelligence of many of the Caliban I interacted with. Whether this lower intelligence is the consequence of the environment or the warping in the womb remains unclear. It is worth noting that both Symphia and Caelis demonstrated high levels of intelligence despite the latter growing up in a sewer and the former in the basement of an estate. This would support the idea that it is not the environment alone that tends to make Caliban less intelligent than humans, given that living in a sewer does not seem to have constrained Caelis’ mental development. Of course, it remains possible that Caelis would have been even more intelligent had he been raised in a less challenging environment.

While a lower average intelligence might contribute to poorer impulse control and more violent problem solving, I did not find Caliban to be exceptionally aggressive. Caliban acted as any human might if they had grown up constantly under threat from topsiders; suspicious and pragmatic, but also reasonable. Caliban are not the monsters they are popularly made out to be and demonstrate all of the mental qualities we might attribute to any human; reasoning, empathy and passion. The Caliban condition might warp appearance and make a person a little less quick witted but the mindset of every Caliban I interviewed was exactly as one might reasonably have expected any human’s to have been had they been born ‘deformed’ and treated without compassion.

It is my recommendation that any Caliban the reader should encounter be treated with caution. Caliban can be violent and dangerous; some have threatened my life or made attempts on it. However, it need not be assumed that a Caliban cannot be reasoned with; they are psychologically human and ought to be treated as such. It is my belief that the behaviours and outlooks of Caliban that deviate significantly from that of a typical human are the consequences of their early life and daily experiences. It is my hope that the reader has come to better understand Caliban life, perspective and intrinsic humanity.

Salvisius Imbrex

An account of the Nightmare Man referred to by Doctor Illhousen authored by the now disgraced Katja Vinter.

Spoiler: The Nightmare Man • show
Title: The Nightmare Man
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:Doctor Gregorian Illhousen, before his disappearance, was an alienist that specialised in the study of dreams. While I treasure his works in my own practice, I had long discounted the alleged transcript of his final journal. The transcript spoke of a "Nightmare Court" that he had engaged in a terrible struggle with.

That is, until recent events. This account begins with a Doctor Nyquist, a graduate of the University of Dementlieu. Following the loss of his wife, he discovered in dreams the form of a device. An orb that would make dreams take material form in the waking world. He wished to see his wife again, on his terms. In dreams and nightmare. But his work drew wicked attention. The orb was stolen, and Doctor Nyquist imprisoned.

Myself, among others, sought to recover the imprisoned doctor and remove his works from wicked hands. It was a day before our departure that I first spoke with the entity known as the "Nightmare Man". I experienced an unusually lucid dream in which a figure in dark robes, covered in spiders, painted on a canvas with blood. His strokes created nothing, and he seemed mournful. He introduced himself as the "Nightmare Man" though admitted he did not remember if he had had another name. He told me he headed the "Nightmare Court" and that he could shape things others created in dreams and nightmares, but not new imaginings whole cloth. I asked him why I was speaking with him, and he bid me consider why I might have found myself before him. I admitted that the events leading up to my unconsciousness had left me tired of existence in the material world. Of betrayals and scheming. Of loss and sorrow. That I craved an escape from pain. He informed me that I had the ability, here in this world, to create what I wished. He bid me try, and so I did. Conjuring from my unconscious echoes of people I had lost. I built myself a nightmare in that lucid dreamscape. A place to drown. As I did, the Nightmare Man told me I could have what I desired if only I crossed the divide.

I did not speak of this strange dream with my companions; it seemed some expression of my unconscious. An imagining. False. We ventured to the prison Doctor Nyquist was sealed in and found discreet entry. With the help of a sympathetic guard we managed to release Nyquist, who appeared completely catatonic from his torments. We then sought the orb. As we did so, the world around us shifted unnaturally. Lost loved ones apparated. Cages formed from nothing. I was attacked by an entity claiming to be a figment of myself, one I had cast into a void. She seemed to express her pain vividly. Notably, for personal reasons of regret, I did not fight back. I informed them that if they truly wished to live with the burden of killing me; I would allow them to. At this point they ceased their assault, contorted, and then took the form of a strange and twisted entity, which fled.

As we pressed deeper, strange arachnids crawled the walls and seemed to weave the space of the passages back together. Finally, we confronted the one who had seized the orb. I noted immediately, though he appeared human, that he was painting with blood on a blank canvas. I called him "Nightmare Man" and he smiled; the dream spiders wove his true form of a figure shrouded in black. He spoke to me of what we had discussed in my dream, and revealed to my allies and I that we were dreaming at this moment. We demanded he surrender the orb, which he appeared to have. He said he would surrender it to me. I took it, and felt a profound power within. He then claimed he had had Doctor Nyquist unwittingly build the orb to create a bridge. A means of crossing between the material and dreams. He bid me will the orb to be one with myself, and promised me a place in his Nightmare Court.

Were it not for the words and deeds of my allies, I am ashamed to admit, I would have accepted his offer. It is a tempting thing, to be free of this world. Especially of late. But I heard their words. I smashed the orb on the floor and shouted my rejection of the Nightmare Man's offer. He grew furious, and promised us he had not been ended. The dream unraveled and we found ourselves awaking at the staging ground.

The orb had been shattered. We investigated the site and learned that Doctor Nyquist had, in fact, expired six months ago.

We were too late. Embittered, we departed. I have not yet slept since this encounter.

I still fear to.

Doctoresse Katja Vinter

An apparently fictitious and fanciful retelling of a plot run by Dm Drekavac.

Spoiler: The Child of Fate: Daljins Fall • show
Title: The Child of Fate: Daljin's Fall
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Library
Content:This is the true tale of the twists and turns taken by fate, to a better world.

There was a deck of tarokka cards, appearing like any other, but possessed of great power. Those that drew from the deck found their fate twisted. Wealth, loss, madness and death would come to they that drew.

Such a thing was never meant for mortal hands. But it was stolen. First, by an entity of power known as Desdemona. Her deeds with the cards of fate are varied, but are a story in their own right. It was a fey creature from Tepest that stole fate’s tools next. He was many times Desdemona’s lesser in power, but was cunning and quick. He sought the cards for the chaos they would bring others for the creature, known then as Morgan O’Shanahan, fed on the misery of mortals.

The devious fey creature would play games of fate with many souls. At times granting fortune, but more often misery and madness. It was in these games that something terrible would be called to our shattered world. The Conjuror was drawn; the card of calling. The fiend Daljin answered. He wore the face of a hound and acted with the cunning of a serpent. It was this act of calling that would shape the fates of all that touched the deck. For Daljin was more dangerous than any who had played with fate’s cards.

The fiend saw the power of the deck, and craved it. So he schemed to take it for himself. He gathered to him a handful of desperate souls; they craved power and cared not for its cost. These agents Daljin sent to claim the deck. But one had learned of Daljin’s scheme; a Shadow with no love for power. When Daljin’s agent seized the deck the Shadow fought the fiend, for chaos was their nature. Yet the Shadow could not compare to the fiend; she fell. So it was that the fiend succeeded in stealing the deck, for the third time.

With the deck in hand, the fiend drew every soul that had touched the cards to his domain. To each, he offered a deal. Power for soul or service. Though he had not freedom to slay they that refused, the cunning fiend used terror and barbs to fool many into selling all they were to him. Daljin’s power swelled with agents. The fiend was ascendant; all barriers to his conquest gone.

It was then that a worldly Trickster hatched a scheme. She was not versed in the mysteries of magic, nor was she of high birth. But she had known many marks. She had seen many great men cast down by their hubris. So she entreated the fiend: “Daljin, I offer you a wager: I will sell you my soul in exchange for the power to pick any pocket. But if I should outlive you? Our deal is void, and I will keep my soul.” This amused the fiend. How could a low born mortal outlive something so mighty? So he agreed. The pact made, he cast his gaze to his next conquest, even as the Trickster’s quick fingers turned fate once more. The deck was stolen yet again; not by a creature of power, but a cunning mortal.

Daljin soon discovered the ruse. Enraged, he hunted the Trickster, who fled to the Shadow and a Serpent that served death. She entreated each for aid in bringing final ruin to the fiend. The Shadow agreed, and so the Children of Light were called to defend the Trickster. Before the Serpent could reply, he was drawn to the domain of the fiend. Desperate, Daljin promised the Serpent power without strings if he would only bring death to the Trickster. The Serpent measured the fiend’s words carefully before replying: “I would be no Master of Death if I bowed to one so easily deceived.” So Daljin and the Serpent fought for the first time, for the Serpent’s nature was to kill. Daljin lost the battle, but cast the Serpent from his world before he could slay him.

Thwarted, the fiend sent its eyeless servants to kill the Trickster. But the Children of Light were prepared. They broke Daljin’s tools and cast them down. But in doing so their gaze was drawn elsewhere. The cunning Daljin sought the Trickster himself. With treachery and fell magics, he slew the Trickster, and stole away her soul. Yet the Serpent had been watching over her. He seized the deck himself, and for the second time he battled Daljin. Again, Daljin lost the battle, but he did not die. Fiends are strange in nature, and have hearts that must be broken before they will end.

The Serpent sought the Shadow and together they drew the Conjuror from the deck. They burned it, and the Shadow called for Daljin. The fiend arrived, and entreated the pair: “Give me the deck and I will return the Trickster.” The Shadow hesitated, but the Serpent was resolute and said: “The Trickster had but one wish before they fell: that this dog dies.” So the Shadow and Serpent fought the fiend. Again Daljin was bested, but he did not die. For his heart was not the Conjuror.

The Shadow, ever aimless, cast about for answers. The Serpent, ever thoughtful, meditated on his course. Together they learned the truth of why the fiend craved the deck: it had among its cards a way home. A pathway back to the world beyond the waking dream. They could use the deck to destroy the fiend, so they gathered again the Children of Light. But when all was ready, the Serpent found a new truth in his battles. He would be no Master of Death if his nature was only to kill. Death must come for all, but not all deserve it. So it was that when Daljin was called, the Serpent did not choose to kill. Instead, he offered the fiend a deal. The fiend would be allowed to draw a single card from the deck if he would return the Trickster’s soul.

The fiend saw how the Children of Light and the howling Shadow had readied themselves to destroy him. So he accepted, for he had come to know fear. From the deck he drew the innocent; the redeemer. Such a card changed the nature of they that drew it forever, making them pure of heart and deed. Before the Children of Light, Daljin the fiend died, and something new was born. An innocent, his heart heavy with regret and pain. From his great book of chains he tore the Trickster’s soul and set her free. On his soul and self he pledged to release everyone he had enslaved.

Though the fiend he had been was great and terrible, the Child of Fate that had taken his place was set free to wander and begin to right the wrongs of this fractured nightmare. So it was that Daljin was defeated, not with death but hope and chance. By a taker of life choosing instead to save another.

The Children of Light saw the deck returned to its rightful owners, and celebrated the end of a great Evil. The Shadow sang for all the souls set free. The Serpent had taken no life that day but he slithered back to the darkness of his home; content to let the sun rise on a world made a little more whole.

The Trickster left them all behind, for reasons none know.

For her heart is her own and she guards it well.

But on her deeds, the Fate of the world turned.

Work covering the fundamentals of alienism.

Spoiler: Fundamentals of Alienism • show
Title: Fundamentals of Alienism
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Library (if the author's name is removed, else black library only)
Content: In this work I will outline the fundamentals of alienism; the study of the minds of men. I will use my homeland of Nova Vaasa as an example to demonstrate the importance of alienism in understanding society, then delve into my own contributions to the field. It is my hope that this work will introduce the layperson to alienism as well as informing my fellows.

Ask any Nova Vaasan what constitutes a life well lived and they will speak of temperance and service. It will be explained that lords of the land serve the people by leading wisely and taking care of society while the common folk do so by performing their duties obediently and faithfully. These claims will stand in stark contrast to the reality of life in Nova Vaasa. The smallfolk certainly spend their days toil, but it is under the Lawgiver’s lash. What little they make is taxed to support the exorbitant lifestyles of the nobility. The cities are overcrowded, death is common, and the bodies of the smallfolk are left in the gutters. When night falls the people, high and low both, engage in every vice known to man. Gambling, prostitution, dogfights, violence and worse are commonplace. The same Nova Vaasan that swears by service during the day will be as a beast when night falls.

How might a scholarly mind account for this apparent contradiction between word and deed? Obedience, temperance and duty certainly appear to be reasonable pillars on which to rest a society. It cannot be denied that such values have been strictly imposed on the people of Nova Vaasa. Even the nobility must present commitment to such ideas if they are to find any measure of social influence. To an alienist the resolution of this contradiction is in the duality of thought. The mind is widely believed to be comprised of two parts: the ego and the shadow. The ego is the waking mind. It is all the faculties of conscious thought and understanding. It is the part of the mind that reasons. The shadow is the sleeping mind. It is our desires, fears and sorrows. It is all we feel and the root of both motive and empathy. Thought is driven by the shadow but given form by the ego.

It is a simple enough thing to delve into a man’s ego, if he is inclined to be honest. The waking mind is observable in what he believes and in how he reasons about problems. The shadow is less straightforward. It does not find expression in words or reason, but in the hidden desires and fears of a man. These can be found through careful analysis of actions or dreams although hypnotism might also be used for more direct exploration of the shadow. It was Doctor Gregorian Illhousen that explained the Nova Vaasan contradiction in his Rider’s Dilemma. Illhousen supposes that a rider is seeking a horse to go hunting with. He wishes to pick the fastest, most dependable steed and goes to the stables. As he is considering the horses, he notes an enormous plains cat sleeping in the sun. His ego reasons that if he tries to ride the cat it will throw him off and he will be slain. The horse is the safe option. But he cannot help but imagine what he could accomplish if only the cat could be tamed. This longing is his shadow; his unconscious desire to follow wild impulse. Only his fear of consequence keeps him from leaping on the cat.

Illhousen’s argument is that the values of Nova Vaasan society are adhered to not because of any genuine desires, but because they fear expression of any aspect of the shadow. A lifetime of suffering the lash has resulted in deep repression. Doctor Ruricia Opsis has demonstrated that prolonged repression of the shadow inevitably results in what she termed an “outburst”. This is because the shadow is all motive and desire. In a healthy individual the shadow can find expression in the waking mind. The indulgences that are made as one goes about their day, the relationships explored, and the meaning found in artistic or scientific pursuit are all healthy outlets. These outlets are complex in form because the shadow has been allowed to develop alongside the waking mind. If the shadow is repressed, no such development occurs. The daily lives of Nova Vaasan are without outlet; only adherence to duty. This results in a shadow that remains base; lust, greed, violence, and spite typify the repressed shadow. These animal urges surface the moment threats no longer exist to keep them contained. This is an outburst.

Thus far I have outlined the fundamentals of an alienist’s concept of the mind. What has already been discussed should be considered well established fact. My discussion will now be of my own theory and findings. Where other alienists have focused their studies on the effects of shadow repression and therapeutic methods for correcting such, my own work has been focused on the potential of the shadow. Well developed shadows find outlet in undeniably useful forms; creativity, insight, ambition and compassion. I posit that the shadow’s potential far exceeds that which even most healthy people realise.

I have used analysis of dreams, actions and experimental hypnotherapy to delve into the shadow of seemingly mundane subjects and tug at their grandest desires. This tugging, in turn, has resulted in the realisation of wondrous potential. Typically, a subject has a deep fear, sorrow or regret that can be drawn to the waking mind and transformed into a source of strength. The form this takes varies but once the shadow has been treated in this way the subject’s capacity for realising their desires is measurably improved. I have observed physical alterations, the mastery of supernatural abilities that heal or destroy and near-supernatural performance in martial pursuits.

I will refer to the process of drawing the shadow into the waking mind as the awakening of the shadow. I theorise that each individual’s shadow represents a potential waiting to be realised. This potential is limited only by the extent to which the shadow has been awakened. The shadow is bound, quite literally, to a world of possibility. The limits of the waking world do not apply to the mind’s shadow and I believe that if an individual is able to awaken their shadow in full, then those limits might be exceeded. Of course, the shadow is not a thing of ego. I have found that drawing it entirely to the waking world requires confrontation and embrace of its darkest aspects. I would caution the inexperienced alienist against putting my theory into practice without a careful analysis of their subject. They must make certain that no dangerous aspect of themselves has been neglected, lest harm be done to an unprepared waking mind.

It is my belief that our best selves are drawn out by seeking harmony between the shadow and the ego. A life without repression is a life well lived. But it is in awakening the shadow that exceptional lives are lived. Those individuals that leave their mark firmly on the waking world have done so utilising the potential of their shadow. In each of us, there is greatness.

Work covering alienism as applied to societies foreign to Dementlieu. It's a thinly veiled criticism of class divides as well as a scientific work.

Spoiler: The Road to Freedom • show
Title: The Road to Freedom
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library

Dimly, I recall life in the homeland. Labouring under the lash. The ache of hunger. The stench of death. It wasn’t real to me back then. Not until my tenth year. That was when they took father. That was when home broke. Suddenly, it became real in ways it never had been before. The burdens of living with tyranny are many, but the body isn’t so real as the heart. Family had been my world, the reality of my inner life, and the tyrant had broken it. It was a wound, and though it didn’t heal, it wasn’t fatal. I lived with the ache, even as it festered. Years would pass, and I would search for the words to express this wound.

Among the tools of control used by the tyrant is the denial of education. Literacy is not common in the homeland. You must learn the word of god from the tyrant, and no idea can travel widely. But I was fortunate. The gnome has become fashionable to use as a tutor, jester and tailor. Officially. Unofficially, we are also used as spies or assassins. So I learned my letters. I learned other things, too, but it was literacy that would begin to give me the words. The works of the alienist Doctor Gregorian Illhousen became my fondest companions. He wrote of how repression of one’s inner desires causes a sickness of the mind that ultimately results in outburst, if no other outlet is found. It is how he explained the madness of the homeland. For every soul was pious and dutiful under the light of the sun. But come nightfall? Violence. Lust. Hate. The powerful would cavort through the city, doing as they pleased.

Illhousen did not delve into the logical extension of his theories as they apply to the oppressed. But even his diagnosis of the powerful was electric. Never before had I encountered any human speaking so critically and so accurately of the tyrant. His works are practically myterri, disguised in plain sight as medicine. The language of the alienist gradually became a way for me to express the wound in my heart. I might have stayed there, half awake, in the cage of Nova Vaasa had my last tether to the world not been severed. Mother was not like father. She was exacting, and grim. She was a survivor. I don’t think there was much she wouldn’t do to give me a better world than she had. I will never know what task took her from me. Only that it took her to the bottom of a river. On that day, I fled the city on foot. I don’t recall the journey. I just walked, numb and sleepless, until I reached Barovia.

I did not know then how to live outside of the lists and orders of the tyrant. It was in Barovia that I learned how to be a person, from the compassion of others. Free of the shackles of the homeland I grew much and began the practice of alienism proper. I learned to live again, not by looking inward, but outward. By treating the trauma of others, and knowing the simple joy of releasing another of a burden. I discovered much more in this practice, and it is in this work that I hope to formally define my practice broadly. Treating others has come easily. Treating myself, has been impossible.

Ego and Shadow

Anyone familiar with alienist theory will know the terms ego and shadow. Even so, I will discuss them here that no one is left behind. We can conceptualises the mind as constructed of two equally important components: the ego and shadow. The ego is the conscious mind. It is rational thought, reason and (most) memory. It is easy for most of us to introspect and understand our ego. For its form is our own system of belief, logic and knowledge. It is our executive in the waking world. To assess the ego an alienist need only patiently and carefully interview a lucid subject.

The shadow is the unconscious mind. It is emotion, imagination and artistic inspiration. It is the world of our empathy, and our dreams. The shadow is much more complicated to assess with introspection, and the alienist must be empathetic and careful to assess the shadow of a subject. When we feel an emotion we have some grasp of the form the shadow has taken, for every emotion arises from our unconscious shadow. But repressed trauma, strange impulses, ingenuity, artistry. These things can only be crudely detected with introspection alone. So the alienist cannot grasp the depths of the shadow with interviews alone. Hypnotism and dream analysis both are popular for assessing the shadow of a subject. Why? Both involve states where the ego is rendered a passive observer of the subject’s inner world. When we dream, it is our unconscious expressing itself as our consciousness passively observes. Similarly, a hypnotic trance is a state in which the ego is rendered a passive observer of the shadow, while the hypnotist guides the subject.

Repression and Illness

It was Doctor Illhousen’s contention that the clinically insane are so afflicted due to a repression of their unconscious shadow. How does this come to be? It is as simple as denial. We are filled with emotional and creative impulses. When we are able to express them, all is well. But when we cannot? The impulse grows and grows. Without an outlet, it will express itself in outburst. Outburst takes many forms; it can be antisocial behaviour, sudden and inappropriate emotional impulses or even disruption of the ego altogether. The aim of the alienist in helping their patients is therefore to identify what has been repressed, and assist the patient in confronting and expressing it in constructive ways.

What prevents expression? There are many causes. It can be religious or cultural beliefs that cause a subject to deny themselves something that is important to them. It is the values of god that Illhousen suggested was the cause of nightly antisocial behaviour in the homeland. But in this work I wish to put forward another, much more pressing cause, of repression: need. Consider the conditions many, many people must labour under in the Core. Long hours at places of work, barely enough food to live on and a complete lack of security. How is it that such people may express the breadth of their shadow? How can they create what they dream of, taste the joys of life that all men deserve? The simple answer is; they cannot. Oppression does not only take the form of written laws, or faiths or even cultural institutions. It is economic. Practical demands force a self denial that, in my observation, often results in a deep melancholia. If a man is further denied food, and shelter, he will grow violent. I do not believe this is because violence was in the man’s nature. Rather, it is a twisting of his unconscious shadow.

This is proven by the fact that such people can be helped by the compassion of their community or a trained alienist. They will turn from violence when given an escape and the time to internalise it. But if the root cause of the repression is not removed, no lasting healing can occur. One might reasonably ask: where is the line, when it comes to repression? Is every societal value, every law, every economic inequality cause for disturbance? No. Quite the contrary; many, perhaps even most, laws and social values exist because they are gratifying to the collective. We do not outlaw killing, or theft, as an act of repression and control. We do it because we do not like to see others suffer. Our social norms exist to give us a sense of community, and a shared means of expressing ourselves. Extreme economic inequality will always be repressive, but in a society where each man need work only reasonable hours to support himself and his hobbies, an economic inequality produces something to aspire to. An achievement, for they that make exceptional contributions.  Anarchy is not the answer to repression, though I will contend in the next section that a state of anarchy is not necessarily a state of suffering.

The Heart of the Shadow

When we are born, what is the state of our Shadow? Before we have the word for smile, or joy, or love, we know it. An infant will smile when she sees another do the same. She will cry when she sees another in distress. The infant knows emotions like hate and anger but only as they relate to her own suffering. We are born innocent. There is nothing in our nature that wishes suffering upon another. As we grow, we are introduced to conflict and denial. Our shadow grows more complex, and our ego constructs for us a wide conceptualisation of the world. We have all known dislike of another. Anger. Even hate. But have we an urge to kill? To torment? No. These are not urges we generally struggle with. Even so, there exist examples of people who have grown sadistic, who believe they enjoy killing. I submit that such people are ill. They have been denied something essential, and so their shadow has grown warped. It is not the natural state of man to want to kill.

This point is important. I do not make it because I believe we must treat every sadist, every killer, as someone in need of healing. In an ideal world, we would. But such people need to be prevented from hurting others. All too often, that means killing them. I make no moral judgement about this, except to caution the would-be hero to reflect on whether they have done what is necessary. It is easy to fall into the trap of killing for hate, fear and glory. No, the importance of this point is in how we treat law and culture. Consider the fact that we outlaw murder. Do we believe that without this law we would regularly kill one another? No. The many choose not to kill one another because, fundamentally, we do not like to hurt others. We like to see others happy. Most of us aim to live good lives, and do not need laws to do so.

Consider the following case:

Orsolya Haraszti was born to a Gundarakite mother. Her father was a Barovian soldier in the Count’s army. I do not wish to be unnecessarily crude with my language here. Each time the Barovians have invaded Zeidenburg there have been many, many, instances of assault, murder and worse. Orsolya was conceived in a terrible instance of this. She grew up under the shadow of this terrible act. A reminder to her own people of what was done to them. But Orsolya was a remarkable woman. She looked without, and hated the suffering of her people. She lived to free them from the tyranny of the Count. In time, she tracked down her father. He had grown old, and feeble. No threat to anyone. She had intended to kill him, for the Evil he had done. But when she found him, she also found his daughter. Her half sister. A Barovian woman who had only known the father as caring. Despite all the wrongs done to Orsolya, and the Gundarakite people, Orsolya chose to leave her father in peace. Not for his sake, but that of her half sister. Orsolya was a dedicated and capable rebel. She fought the tyranny of the Count, and mistreatment of women, at every turn. She killed, when necessary. But when confronted with a personal killing, she refused. For her compassion for the innocent was profound.

Orsolya lived a life in defiance of written law, but even then adhered to a moral conviction arising from her empathy; her shadow. She confronted the root of her trauma, and chose love. The world is filled with such anarchic souls. I do not believe we need do away with laws, or cultural bonds. But they should exist only to uphold the spirit of the Shadow. I do not believe it is fear of punishment that keeps us from violating the law; only our love for others. This is why violation of the law arises only when need, or the law itself, represses the individual. It is therefore dangerous to adhere blindly to the law as written, for it is ultimately a collective illusion. Where the law conflicts with the moral good, it should be suspended. Not just for its practicality, but for the good we wish to foster in our fellows.

The Sickness of the Tyrant

I have discussed how it is that antisocial behaviour arises from repression. But it is an observable fact that many tyrants exhibit some of the worst antisocial behaviour of all men. Drakov, Strahd and Hazlik are each violently insane. More, the world is full of petty tyrants that delight in the suffering they inflict. Of men that believe that might makes right. These are powerful people, apparently subject to no repression, and still they express cruelty. What accounts for this?

One explanation that I have found to be reasonably well supported in my interviews with the tyrant is that some element of repression in their upbringing, often suffering a great cruelty, warped their own shadow. They were wounded, and never healed, and so they lash out. But this isn’t quite enough for such a thing to grow with time, for them to lash out so. No, there is another more universal cause of their repression that only grows with time: threat. The tyrant is not stupid. They know that their rule will last only as long as they have the power to maintain it. The wicked seek power, endlessly, in the belief that they will be destroyed without it. Seeded in their very existence is an endless threat, that can never truly be overcome. Where the just leader, the kind man, sees in others support the tyrant sees only threat. The tyrant is, at heart, profoundly afraid. So it is that they are driven deeper and deeper into a violent madness. Endlessly stepping on others in an effort to soothe the terror that is never silent.

Consider the following case:

Erzsebet was a Gundarakite devoted to a cruel god. She would speak of rebellion, of liberating the Gundarakite, but only insofar as it secured the service of would-be rebels. She would regularly turn her own people in to the Garda if they inconvenienced her, and use her underlings in crude and perverse ways. For her, it was always a matter of power and control. When the Black Army liberated much of Gundarak without using the cruelty of her dark god, Erzsebet became a collaborator with the Tyrant. She assisted the oppressor willingly, and murdered Black Army leadership. She betrayed her own people, liberty and the common good. Why? Unlike Orsolya, she had been thoroughly repressed. Indoctrinated into a cruel cult, she was unable to see the world in terms other than that of the tyrant; power and control.

I chose the case of a “rebel” to make my point here. It is easy for the oppressed to become the oppressor when they forget the values that called them to resist in the first place. When hate and cruelty are the core of a subject’s motivation, they fall to the malady of the tyrant. When might makes right, the individual can never truly be free. They will forever be constrained by threat, unable to build a world they themselves are not trapped in.

Realising the Shadow

In my youth I wrote about “awakening” the shadow. I will write more on this, in time, but it is not for public print. At the time I thought it important not just to heal, but to push someone to be exceptional. I have observed supernatural effects in doing so, but such practice was arrogant. To push others is to do more than an alienist should. It is to abuse a trust placed in a doctor by a patient.  So I wish to amend my earlier publication here: the ambition of the alienist should be to realise the Shadow of the subject, not awaken it.

We classically employ the alienist to treat the insane; those that have experienced significant outburst. This is important, of course, but I believe the practice should extend to the tending of the wellness of all. One need not be insane, to have some degree of repression. I think it a rather universal state. We should aim to help all in our communities with their trauma, grief, ambitions and dreams. We should recognise where repression is being driven by economics, and insist that the State work to correct it.

The road to freedom is long, but worth it.

Doctor Katja Vinter

The Arcane Fundamentals series details the workings of wizardry and vancian magic according to 3.x sources. Useful as an IC reference for wizard PCs.

Spoiler: Arcane Fundamentals I • show
Title: Arcane Fundamentals I: Spellbooks
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Magic Stores
Content: Contents:
1. Spellbooks.
2. Spell Preparation.
3. Spell Recording.
4. Arcanabula Variants.
Distinction in forms of spellbook are covered in section one. Section two covers how exactly a wizard prepares a spell. Section three details how spells are recorded and section four details spellbook variants.
1. Spellbooks:
The spellbook is where spells are recorded. Obviously. Wizards generally keep two forms of spellbook. The one you see most often is called the arcanabula. It’s a collection of completed arcane formulae and notes kept by a wizard for daily preparation. The book most wizards keep securely locked away is the great book, or grimoire. The grimoire is where the wizard records the full process by which they came to understand a given spell. This is an involved text that contains a wizard’s life work. In order to cast a spell, a wizard must first have comprehended it absolutely. Spells are expressions unlike any other mode of communication or language because they are expressions of objective truth. A wizard must understand that truth, typically through study and formulae in order to prepare and cast a spell. That study is documented primarily in the grimoire.
2. Spell Preparation:
While a wizard can prepare spells using the grimoire, they carry an arcanabula for reasons of practicality and efficiency. Casting a spell requires study of its formula in the arcanabula. It is during this study the casting of a spell actually begins, which is why this process requires intense concentration on the wizard’s part. All spells have a break before completion worked into them that the wizard may cast the spell to the verge of completion, then maintain it in their mind. When the spell is invoked with gestures and incantation the casting is complete, and the spell is released. This is why a prepared spell can be cast only once, typically. The wizard has not forgotten how to cast the spell, they simply require time, energy and their arcanabula to begin the process of casting another.
Because the essential expression of each spell is universal, every wizard’s formulae will converge on the same essential elements. However, the annotations and method of expression may vary. For this reason a wizard may use any arcanabula to prepare a spell they have studied, provided they have time to decipher the method of recording.
3. Spell Recording:
Spells are traditionally (but not always: see section 4) recorded in books. A spell typically requires about as many pages as its circle. So a first circle spell requires one page, while a ninth circle spell requires nine pages. Wizards familiar with the workings of the circle a spell belongs to can decipher and transcribe spells from a scroll or arcanabula to their own spellbooks. Wizards may also independently derive the working of a spell through research. This is an involved process, so the bulk of learning tends to take place with transcription.
4. Arcanabula Variants:
While books are preferred for reasons of practicality, they are not the only form an arcanabula can take. The structures of a spell can be recorded in carvings on structures or objects. Indeed, the angles and material of such objects can convey their own meanings in contributing to the spell. It must be noted that the approximate surface area requirements for the recording are the same. So a rather large area is required to record a single spell of the ninth circle. This is another reason such arcanabulas are impractical. Some arcanists go as far as tattooing spells onto themselves and using their body as an arcanabula. This does have the advantage of preparation being possible without any possessions. However, the average human body has a surface area of approximately fifty five pages only. This includes the back and head. Thus, wizards that commit to tattoo arcanabulas will still require a book or other external tool if they wish to record the breadth of contemporary spells.


Spoiler: Arcane Fundamentals II: The Anatomy of a Spell • show
Title: Arcane Fundamentals II: The Anatomy of a Spell
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Magic Libraries
Content: Contents:
1. Spell Structure.
2. Evocation.
3. Conjuration.
4. Enchantment.
5. Illusion.
6. Divination.
7. Abjuration.
8. Transmutation.
9. Necromancy.
Section one explains the origins of spell schools and the implications this has for spell structures. Sections two through eight define each school and its subschools.
1. Spell Structure:
Spell schools are divisions made by mortal scholars to better organise and analyse magic. Spells within a school share similarities in structure and mechanism but spells within a school may still have features of spells in other schools. Elements of the school of enchantment, for example, are present in the Fear spell but it is classified as necromancy due to the use of negative energy in its effect. When analysing a spell, it is important to note that its elements can therefore come from a range of schools even if the core function must necessarily be that of its assigned school.
2. Evocation:
The school of manipulating and creating energy. Evocation typically utilises the raw energy of the weave to produce and shape elements. They effectively utilise magic to create something where there was nothing.
3. Conjuration:
Conjuration is divided into five subschools. The essential common element is that matter or energy is moved, but in some cases conjurations will create that matter and then move it. The subschools of conjuration are as follows:
Calling: This moves a creature from another plane to where you are. Called creatures are transferred entirely to where they are called and are killed if slain while called.
Creation: Matter is conjured and manipulated to create something new, such as unseen servant, for the duration of the spell. When the spell expires, the created entity ceases to exist.
Healing: Exclusively the domain of divine magic. Positive energy is conjured for the purposes of healing another.
Summoning: Summons a creature or object from elsewhere in the plane. When the spell expires, summoned creatures are returned to their place of origin. Summoned objects are not. When a summoned creature is incapacitated it is returned intact to its place of origin.
Teleportation: Transports creatures or objects. Only extremely powerful teleportation can break planar boundaries.
4. Enchantment:
The school of directly manipulating the mind. Spells from the enchantment school all therefore affect the mind. Enchantment has two subschools:
Charm: Influences the subject to change how they view another.
Compulsion: Directly controls the actions of the subject. Spells like domination and hold person belong to this subschool.
5. Illusion:
Illusions trick the senses or minds of others. No illusion directly controls the mind; this is the distinction between illusion and enchantment. Illusion has five subschools:
Figments: False sensations. If these can be perceived by multiple actors then they will all perceive the same thing. Figments can mimic only things the illusionist can imagine or knows. No figment can mimic a language the illusionist does not know.
Glamer: This is a change to the perception of an existing entity. Making a book appear to be a ball is a glamer, as is the invisibility spell.
Pattern: Perceptible phenomena that mesmerise or otherwise influence the behaviour of the viewers.
Phantasm: Sensations perceptible only to the subject and the caster. Phantasms directly influence what the mind perceives and therefore do not depend on anatomical senses like sight.
Shadow: Shadow spells utilise the quasi-real matter of the transitive plane of shadows to mimic the effects of other magics. The matter of the shadow plane is subject to the perception of the viewers and therefore subjects may partially disbelieve shadow conjurations, mitigating (but not eliminating) their effects.
6. Divination:
Spells in this school pertain to knowledge of past, present or future. There is a single subschool of divination:
Scrying spells project an invisible sensor elsewhere. The caster can see through this sensor, but their perceptive abilities are much the same as their own eyesight. Therefore, they will still be unable to see those talented at moving unseen.
7. Abjuration:
Abjurations pertain to the disruption of energies and physical forces. All forms of barriers and dispelling fall under abjuration. Abjurations have some minor interactive effect, meaning those placed in close proximity will shimmer as energies interact.
8. Transmutation:
The school of change. Transmutations change the properties of an object, entity or condition in the world.
9. Necromancy:
The school of manipulating life and unlife utilising negative energy. It has no subschools but a distinction is commonly made between those that utilise the school to animate the dead (animators) and those that do not. Animating is an inexcusable act of Evil and must never be tolerated. All other forms of necromancy are generally intolerable and rightly outlawed in civilised lands. Prolonged use of necromancy may cause madness.
Books you say?

I've written a few. Spoilers for simple browsing.

I really would like to post a lot of other player's works too for consideration. Please check out Cote Poisson's work in the Society of the Erudite, Jacinth's historical work and probably a lot I am forgetting.

The Hunter's Findings are a series on therianthrope PCs based on Vince Székely's research, written and published by an anonymous source.

Spoiler: The Hunter’s Findings: Sicart Picavet • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Sicart Picavet
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
“It is a mere necessity. A life I must live until my dying breaths. Because once you have had a taste of true humanity why would you ever want anything else?”
A natural born wererat from Ste. Ronges in Richemulot. He was raised unaware of his condition but was told in time that he was different. This prompted him to isolate himself from other children. He believed that his childhood left him with more “human” emotions and that these conflicted with the wererat’s nature. Sicart was raised by his mother and did not know his father; he claims to have loved his mother dearly. Given that he would go on to become a murderer in the employ of a ring of flesh traders, many of these claims seem suspect. He does not specify the age he was recruited to the “Red Ring” but he was told not to return to his old life. He ignored this directive and returned to his mother. She was murdered shortly thereafter by the Red Ring.
Sicart continued to work for the Ring well into adulthood. He describes life amongst wererats as fraught with suspicion. Afflicted rats eager to rise and fellow natural rats looking for opportunities to murder him for personal gain. He claimed to have travelled to Port-a-Lucine as part of a plan to get vengeance on the Red Ring. If this plan ever came to fruition, there is no evidence of it. Sicart found himself with a bounty on his head for various petty crimes and has not been heard from since. What are we to make of this rat’s claims? It seems unlikely that the story spun to Vince was true. Despite his claims about loving humanity, his behaviour remained decidedly inhuman. While he claimed this was in the name of his vengeance; history notes no collapse of the Red Ring. More, his petty crimes do not appear to have any purpose beyond personal gain. Vince notes that Sicart claimed he would free himself of the rat’s blood were he able to. I find this to be just as suspect as the rest of Sciart’s tale; a creature in control of itself and more capable because of this strength logically has no cause to reject its nature.
Sicart offers us insight into the lives of natural wererats in his description of life at home. Much of the rest of his claims are likely deceptions, as is typical of his kind. He is unremarkable for a rat and the lessons left to mankind are few. If it is true that Sicart resented his own condition, then his is the tale of a creature too cowardly to live any other way than it is told. Sicart teaches the would be hunter to act with certitude and know their own nature.

Spoiler: TThe Hunter’s Findings: Verinne van Haute • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Verinne van Haute
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
"I regard this thing inside me as little more than a parasite. Not much different from a leech or a tick, albeit one I cannot simply see removed with a pair of tweezers."
Verinne was, like Sicart, born in Ste. Ronges. She was an afflicted wererat. Whether she was cursed later in life or inherited the curse from one of her parents is unknown. What is known is that much of early life and adulthood was spent without the curse in her life. Verinne lived comfortably in Ste. Ronges. Her mother encouraged her love of music and dreams of one day performing on stage as a singer. Verinne claims that her mother loved her dearly, yet her mother abandoned the family to live as a mistress in Pont-a-Museau. Her father, who had been a member of a night watch company known as the Soleils Craimoisi, was devastated by this abandonment. He turned to drinking and was dismissed from the company. He would fail to hold down a job.
It fell to Verinne to support herself and her father. She performed in local nightclubs where she was sought for hear beauty, rather than her art, as is typical of ignorant mundanes. In time she would be trained as a courtesan and was able to support herself. She would find one man, Sicart Picavet, to be unusually generous. He had claimed to be a dealer in antiquities but his wealth seemed limitless to Verinne. Where lesser mortals might have been content to live in lavish ignorance, Verinne grew curious. She investigated the source of Sicart’s wealth and learned that he was part of a flesh trading ring. He participated in the sale of women to officials in Falkovnia. Sicart learned that she had found the truth and sent men in the night to seize her. She escaped and fled Ste. Ronges, travelling abroad to Krofburg.
In Krofburg she found work at the Miner’s Merriment as part of management. Here she engaged in trade in information and narcotics as well as her old trade as a courtesan. Here history repeated. Varinne discovered that there was a ring of Vos flesh traders in Krofburg known as the Bratva. Her employer, Natasha Camorescu, was selling women to these traders as slaves. Verinne did not flee this time and aided in destroying the Bratva. However, at time of writing, Natasha Camorescu has not faced justice for her own role in the trade. This is presumably due to what would follow and the ignorance of the mundanes in charge of Krofburg.
It was around this point in Verinne’s history that I encountered her personally. Vince records that the woman developed an unhealthy interest in the occult and was branded an outlaw by the authorities of Krofburg. I met Verinne when she contacted a man I do business with seeking an arcanist. She claimed she felt hollow, fragile and weak. She wanted strength, that men like the Bratva and Sicart would never have power over her again. She wanted to bargain for this power with a fiend. I do not traffic with fiends directly myself. In my experience they offer little of true value and demand tedious payments. Even so, I turn no seeker of knowledge away. I directed Verinne to an expert in the area and she bargained with narcotics for the names of great fiends on this plane. Vince records that Verinne did not make any pacts in the end. Her studies were discovered by the authorities of Krofburg and she was driven out.
Verinne fled to Port-a-Lucine this time. Here she joined the local theatre group and worked extensively to help shelter the common folk of the Republic during the civil war. There is much more detail that I could put here but Vince has already documented Verinne’s actions during the civil war in his published history. During this period Verinne would be named Maitresse and would rise to management of the theatre under House Jalabert. Her performances were numerous, and she became a famous singer in Dementlieu, achieving the dreams of her early childhood. However, this period was when she first discovered her curse. Vince notes that Verinne believed the curse had been with her for a long time; it was latent and waiting to emerge.
Verinne locked herself up when the change came over her. It seems her trigger was the full moon, though pain and fire seem to have caused enough fear to trigger the change. Vince reports that Verinne grew more frightful, concerned about covering her skin and developed a taste for raw meat. Her hearing and sense of smell also improved. Verinne considered the affliction a curse and wished to be free of it. During her monthly transformations she subsisted on raw beef, fastidiously avoiding human flesh. Many of her friends and allies knew of her curse and supported her despite it. Verinne would ultimately be executed on the 24th of May 774 by Agnés Gauthier. This execution was followed by another wererat, Rhea Eleutheria, publicising of allegations that the execution was a politically motivated murder.
These allegations include that Agnés Gauthier was acting on Michelle de Foissart’s orders. At the time there were political tensions between Verinne and the Third Sect of Ezra and the then Gendarme took advantage of this to trick visiting members of the Barovian branch of the Church of Ezra into helping her. She broke into the theatre Verinne performed at and told her to choose between summary execution or consignment to an asylum. Verinne chose execution, rather than risking the public works she had built by resisting. Following these allegations Gauthier would be arrested and trialled for her crime. Gauthier was found guilty but was given a light sentence due to her connections to the government.
Insofar as hunters dominate their environment, Verinne was a poor hunter. She acted on her emotion rather than reason. In Vince’s estimation she was weak. I share his assessment, though I find her dedication to uncovering truths and persistence in the face of adversity admirable. I am sure Verinne herself would have something more sentimental to add but my sources have left me nothing suitable and I am a man of facts.

Spoiler: The Hunter’s Findings: Rhea Eleutheria • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Rhea Eleutheria
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
“They must be punished until they learn to respect my Order.”
Rhea was born a natural gnome in Darkon who was infected by a wererat late in November 773. Rhea arrived in Barovia with her extended family some time in 772. Prior to this she reports having been a layabout gambler. The only noteworthy fact of her early life recorded by Vince is the gnome’s early fixation on “Fate”. She seems to have had a philosophical opposition to events being governed by any force that was not invested in the lives of mortals. After arriving in Barovia she befriended Lucia and Morrigan; both were monster hunters. She would convert to the Second Sect of Ezra known as the “Pure Hearts” and work with an organisation known as the Wayfarer Kinship.
At some point during this period Rhea began assassinating people. Vince records that her first assassination was meant to be her only murder. A woman was cruel to a pure man in the way “Fate is cruel for no reason”. She felt it was wrong so she killed the wicked woman to spare the man suffering. She left a note signed “J” and used scraps of religious texts to invent a persona that killed for a “greater good”. Rhea claims she believed in no greater good at the time; only that good people should not suffer. However, another man would be inspired by the note and seek her out. The elf Elidyr pledged himself to Rhea and her cause. J was a lie to Rhea but she adopted the role to “impose meaning on the Chaos of Fate.” Rhea would found an organisation known as the “Praesidia Iuistitiae” (Heights of Justice in the common tongue) and work with Elidyr and others to eliminate the “wicked”.
When Vince asked her if she felt she was misleading Elidyr and the others she stated that she did everything she promised them. She insisted her cause was righteous. Rhea worked with members of the Wayfarer Kinship during this period and involved them in Praesidia business. Among them were Morrigan Harding and Jean Renaud. It was around this time that a cartel of wererats known as the Sturza started doing business in the underworld of Vallaki. They were responsible for a plague called the Yellow Death which struck the city in 774. Rhea worked to end the plague and eliminate those responsible. She succeeded at the first goal but failed at the second.
While working against Sturza plans she found herself cornered by one of the Cartel. She was infected by this member of the Cartel, though the exact circumstances are not in my sources. What is known is that she had not wanted the affliction and did not know she had been infected until the first time she turned. Rhea sought help from Morrigan, Jean and the Wayfarer Kinship after discovering her condition. While the condition is allegedly treatable, I know of no successful cures. It is perhaps for this reason that Rhea was offered no treatment from her allies. Instead, they attempted to have her killed. Rhea was able to escape their trap but this event was, according to her, a turning point in her nature.
Prior to this event she claims to have been an optimist; to have believed that mortal compassion would make a better world. She would come to view this outlook as naïve. After being cursed all those she had considered friends turned on her; the Kinship, the Church of Ezra and other “heroes”. This appears to have been a point of intense bitterness for the rat and the primary reason she came to believe that all mortals are inherently self interested. Rhea would come to believe that only intimidation, violence and fear would keep people from harming others. She sought to “impose Order” using any means necessary. Vince records that her stated ideology was one of Order, Reason and Fairness. She would punish those that acted cruelly or ignorantly and force others to obey rules she considered fair. To Rhea, ignorance was not an excuse. Apathy was not acceptable.
After her betrayal she took over an organisation in the underworld, replacing a boss she considered abusive and cruel. From there she worked to eliminate those in the Sturza Cartel responsible for the plague, working with Enora and several others to eliminate the head of the cartel and the “Alchemist” responsible for the plague. While she does not appear to have visited violence on those that betrayed her during this period, she did work to undermine the Wayfarer Kinship for their crimes. While Rhea herself insists her curse had no role in her radical change in world view, I find it unlikely that her curse played no role in it. Wererats are paranoid by nature. While the betrayal certainly played the largest role in her shift in view, it seems likely that the curse supported it.
Shortly after eliminating those responsible for the Yellow Death Rhea found a means of changing her curse. Prior to this she was much as any other infected individual; following a trigger she would transform and lose her mind. Her trigger was strong emotions at the time. Rhea found what she thought was a cure for her condition and took it. This “cure” did remove the curse but did so by transforming her into a “true” wererat, capable of changing at will. To an ignorant observer this might appear to be effectively a cure. However, a true wererat’s control comes with a change in its nature. Where an infected individual can plausibly resist their nature while in their human form, the true therianthrope’s mind is inextricably bound to the nature of the beast.
Rhea reports that she became increasingly possessive and obsessed with threats to her security and Order. She saw others less as people and more as things to own and control. This is a change that likely sat comfortably with and contributed to her desire to impose “Order” on the world around her. In time Rhea would become an influential figure in the underworld of Vallaki. She utilised her power and position to force criminals to obey a code of conduct. She argued that criminal elements are inescapable and it is better to regulate sins than try to purge them.  Interestingly, it was not her criminal work that earned her the ire of the Burgomaster. It was her seditious violence against the Garda and those she considered “cruel”. It was this attempt to impose her own sense of justice on those in Vallaki that earned the ire of the Burgomaster.
It was only after Rhea had found herself in a position of control that she would meet Vince, then a historian and employee of the Bellegarde. Much of the presented information came from Vince’s notes on an interview with her. Vince himself appears to have been fond of aspects of Rhea but was wary of the rat’s desire to control all around her. Vince would work with Rhea in the Bellegarde alongside Enora. Vince records that Rhea and Enora had a chaotic relationship. Rhea believed Enora sought to punish kindness while Enora said of the rat’s philosophy: “My order is the law of the wild. It can not be broken, it forces itself. Like a river grinding pebbles round.”
While it seems Rhea made everyone that had betrayed her apologise, submitting to her “Order” as she saw it, the rat would fail to control Enora or Vince. Rhea would work with both extensively but when she attempted to intimidate Enora, she attacked the rat. Given the influence Rhea had this attack was a great risk. However, Enora was an extremely dangerous hunter and forced the rat to flee. More, the rat could not afford outright conflict with Enora. Rhea would capitulate to Enora and agree to allow her to do as she saw fit. This is the sole documented instance of Rhea submitting to the authority of another. Vince would align himself with Enora to ensure his own freedom from the machinations of the wererat.
Rhea would continue to operate for some time. As has been noted; she was a vocal opponent of the Provisional Government following the execution of Verinne, who Rhea named a friend. Curiously, both Jean and Morrigan who had been those primarily responsible for her betrayal would come to be allies of the rat once again. At time of writing there has been no documented activity from Rhea for the better part of a year. The organisation she had controlled has since been taken over by others. Her final fate is unknown, but she is presumed dead. Vince suggested that Rhea’s pursuit of Order and security would give her no sense of belonging; that what she had lost when her friends abandoned her would never be reclaimed. Rhea was affected by this suggestion and their interview was concluded there.
While it cannot be doubted that Rhea was a cunning and capable assassin with the laudable goal of governing society with logic and reason, she was clearly a flawed hunter. The pain of her losses shaped her decisions and outlook more than any code. She was held back by her emotional turmoil and lingering sense of compassion for others. Vince notes that Rhea’s methods and philosophy are useful for insurgents but her power lay more in influence than personal strength. An assassin can unravel organisations from the shadows but once confronted by one of raw and simple strength, as she was by Enora, they can only flee. Thus, Rhea reminds the would be hunter that influence is no substitute for raw power.

Spoiler: The Hunter’s Findings: Enora • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Enora
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
"I rose. Prowess does not grow like a weed, it has to be tended and worked."
I do not know the precise date of Enora’s birth. I doubt she did, either. To Enora if a date had no practical use it was not worth retaining. She was born somewhere in Verbrek; a land dominated by werewolves that follow the Wolf God. Her early life was not unlike that of most humans in Verbrek; one of constant fear and struggle for survival. The humans of Verbrek live in tightly knit small communities with fortifications and constant watch for the beasts of the land.
Though it is an inefficient system of pairing, marriage remains as a practice in Verbrek. A young man leaves his family behind to search for a woman from another community. Once he finds one, he remains with her family and demonstrates his fitness working the land and protecting the home. Once this proof has been demonstrated, he leaves with the bride to return to his family. Such a man would find Enora’s family and live with them, demonstrating his fitness. He then left with Enora. I do not know his name. It doesn’t particularly matter to history. On the way back, the pair were attacked by the wolves. Wolves that are faster than any man. So Enora made a choice that saved her life that day; she shot this man in the leg.
I note here that this was not an act Enora took pleasure in. Indeed, for some time the act haunted her. It is no trivial thing to take the life of another, but Enora’s willingness to do whatever she had to in order to survive is what set her apart from lesser hunters. After this event she would find her way out of Verbrek and into Barovia. In Barovia Enora would spend a great deal of time learning. Possessed of a desire to survive that many foreigners lack, Enora not only practiced her martial talents but also made an effort to study the dangers of the land. While she had many allies and acquaintances during this period, few are of significance to history. One worthy of note is Fearghas, a man of the woods. He was one of few to earn genuine care from Enora.
Like most mundanes, Enora had little grasp of the depths of arcane theory, but she understood it was a useful tool and made efforts to learn about how to protect against and use it. It is this diligence in dispelling ignorance that gradually separated Enora from lesser hunters. Nothing mattered to her during this period of her life if it did not have practical use. No waste, no bias, no being weighed down by old beliefs or burdens. It was this enlightened approach to learning that led her to seek out aid in a very ambitious project. There is a remarkable device in the University of Dementlieu that cleaves a subject’s soul and binds it to a piece of equipment. Such an act naturally leaves the subject significantly weakened. Such a weakness was not something Enora could abide. So she sought an alternative.
She slew a great beast in the depths of the mists and claimed its bones for herself. These, she fashioned into a pair of axes. On these were inscribed runes far too complex to document here. Enora would claim the strength of another, cleaving their soul and drawing it into her creations. For this, she required a sacrifice. She selected a slaver. A woman who had hunted her in the past and tried to take her as a slave. The woman was tracked to her old camp. There it was learned that for her failures, she had been enslaved herself. She’d been taken to fight for the amusement of others in fighting pits.
Undeterred, Enora tracked down these pits and sought to claim her from her current owner. This was a greedy, soft and fat man. But he had able servants; Enora was captured in an ambush and imprisoned alongside the woman she sought. Chained, to fight in the same pits. Enora would fight a great many beasts for the amusement of the crowd. She was aided by the woman she’d sought to slay. Gradually, Enora earned the adoration of the crowds. So it was that she was set to fight an enormous scorpion. Almost the size of the entire arena and possessed of a strength that suggest the use of magics in its creation, the scorpion threatened to escape the pit itself. Indeed, several onlookers were slain by the scorpion before Enora managed to defeat it.
The cheering crowds called then for Enora’s freedom. The same bloated slaver that had tricked her tried to calm them, promise them grander fights. In his efforts, he entered the pit to stand before the crowd. Next to Enora. I will not forget the look of shock and terror on the man’s face when Enora buried an axe in him. In that moment she was truly as some avatar of war incarnate. The terrified guards made no effort to stop Enora leaving. It is here that the ruthlessness Enora had learned first in Verbrek can be seen again. Not in the slaying of the master of the arena, but in what Enora did with the slaver she had come so far to visit vengeance on. Despite having fought with the woman many times, Enora did not spare her when they walked free. She claimed her for sacrifice, and the gods took notice.
When the woman was offered, and her life claimed by Enora, the plane roiled. It was as if there were a storm of energy, with Enora at its centre. Enora stood before the gods and was marked by them. This moment marked a transition in Enora’s own spiritual interpretation of the world. The Wolf God became less of an object of fear and more of a power to claim. A strength that more cowardly and weak people are unable to find. Enora would come to believe that walls had made people weak, that if we are not pushed to rise then we will live forever on our knees. It was at this time that Fearghas abandoned Enora. Unwilling to follow her, the man that had been her constant companion for so long left her to go her own way.
It would take some time for Enora’s philosophy and faith to crystallise. She would continue to study, to hunt. While profits and the matters of the civilised world interested her little, she sought out criminal elements and offered her services in dangerous hunts in order to refine her skills. In one such instance she delved into the vast network of tunnels under Paridon to recover a creature called a Marikith; humanoid in form with large talons and a jet black hide. In another, as has been documented already, she aided in the assassination of the head of the Sturza Cartel and the Alchemist. During these ventures, she does not appear to have been a lycanthrope. The precise date of her change is unknown, but Enora did relate the circumstances to Vince.
While it is extremely rare, it is possible for someone to become a lycanthrope without being infected by another. Indeed, Enora fastidiously treated herself to ward against diseases and infections of all forms, including therianthropy. Enora claimed that she had not “fallen” to the condition but had risen to it. She states that she achieved the state by overcoming the fear that holds others back. It is noteworthy that Enora grew up in a land wherein humans cower fearfully behind walls while werewolves prowl the lands. Enora learned to kill werewolves in Barovia after fleeing her homeland. She describes how she lost her fear of the wilds over time, through mastery. She regarded the condition as the ultimate expression of her mastery. Enora became a lycanthrope by embracing her bestial nature. Not a curse but a voluntarily accepted condition.
Of course, she was still subject to the strange workings of the condition. Acts of impractical civilisation triggered her transformations. The habitual kindness practiced by many civilised people is rarely considered deeply by those that profit from it. Charity for the poor, protection of the vulnerable, these deeds are commonly considered good. This was not so to Enora. Charity was a disservice to Enora; it kept others from seeking mastery. It kept them weak. Struggle is necessary to achieve strength, and strength was a worthy thing for all others to achieve. Her condition was not one she initially had control over. Vince notes that she recalled the feeling of the hunt, the thrill of it, but otherwise the details were vague. When she was asked if she feared the loss of control, she stated plainly that she would would “become one with it”. Enora perceived no conflict between the nature of the beast and herself, and so she would grow to master the condition.
It was not long after she became a lycanthrope that she met Vince. He was, at the time, simply a historian with an interest in dangerous conditions. Vince ‘s notes grow less detached as he relates the exchanges they had. Enora presented to him a way of life in which one was subject to no others. In which tyranny held no sway over the mind. In which one lives as they will. She was, to Vince, a dangerous subject. He wrote of his own fear of her, but speculates that there may be more to his attraction to the subject than morbid curiousity. During their early conversations Enora told him he could walk her path. He stated he feared where it would lead, and Vince records her parting words: “I gave you a chance today; imagine the stories you could live.” This isn’t simply an insight into how Vince would ultimately come to embrace the condition, but also into Enora’s own ambitions. She was interested in lifting others out of their fear. She claimed that “cowering behind the walls has taken from us” and wished to free humanity from their feeble way of life.
This is why Enora began to foster disciples. While she certainly didn’t care to control others directly, she did encourage others to follow in her foot steps. She began leaving marks; a single open eye, in the wake of her hunts. She took on followers I will leave nameless, and guided them towards personal mastery without ever allowing them to rely on her. She was disdainful of all established order. When she was asked about Rhea’s attitude towards society she stated: "My order is the law of the wild. It can not be broken, it forces itself. Like a river grinding pebbles round." It is difficult to determine why she took it upon herself to guide others. She once claimed she guided her disciples because  “it is good to have company when winter comes”, suggesting she had some desire for peers or company. However, her actions go beyond seeking simple companionship. It seems Enora held a special resentment for the weakness of humanity. She wanted others to live without the fear she had known. She wanted us all to progress, or die. She was a hunter dedicated to a better, stronger world.
This philosophy was attractive to Vince, and in time he would ask her how to follow her path. She believed one had to live according to a natural order. Hunting to grow strong, and feed. She told Vince: "we kill and eat. It is that simple. You don't touch the flesh of your kill, and I do." He was to eat the flesh of his kill, without preparation and he was to feed on all flesh, even man. Natural magic is an ancient and poorly understood practice, even by those that utilise it. The power of the land is drawn from rites that draw a person closer to the natural world. Discarding the trappings of civilisation lends its own power. For some, that takes the form of emulating the beasts that hunt in the wilds. It seems this emulation lent Enora, and later Vince, powers of the natural world. It is possible this is the true source of Enora’s condition. Vince initially records being uncertain of this practice, and growing sick from the consumption of raw flesh. However, he would later relate that it was all he could consume. That it had made him stronger in ways he couldn’t articulate. It was at this time that Enora gifted him a symbol of Maestealdulph, the Wolf God of Verbrek. Vince notes that the scent of it appears to have allowed him to avoid being torn apart by Enora while she hunted. Enora believed the Wolf God was real, but did not seek to serve the entity. She believed the hunter was simply the greatest form of natural law. A force to be respected that may bless the worthy for their strength, not their service.
It was during this period that Enora became notorious in the wilds of Barovia. She would hunt many and made little effort to hide her condition. This naturally drew hunters, though none proved capable of felling her.  During this period her relationship with the wererat Rhea came to a violent head. Vince had assumed the position of subdirector of the Bellegarde and utilised both Enora and Rhea as “contractors” in seeing his interests forwarded in the area. During a meeting, a dispute over the sharing of information broke out into violence. Enora would attack Rhea. Vince does not document the exact details, but it seems Enora turned and tore apart many of those within the building hunting the rat, who would flee. Though Rhea would later make peace with Enora, she would never again attempt to subjugate her. This is around when Rhea sought to secure Vince’s loyalty, going as far as threatening him with her own condition.
Though it is clear Vince was following Enora’s path for some time, it appears pressure from Rhea is what precipitated his embrace of lycanthropy. He sought the affliction from Enora, who promised him that she did not care to control him. True to her word, Vince documents no instances of Enora demanding anything but strength of him. Enora’s hunts after this date were many. Priests, paladins, wizards, “masters” of blade and bow all fell before her. Others would come to know her as “The Huntress”. Many of those adventurers that had once battled beasts alongside her sought her out, trying to “help” her. Few would understand that their contentment with a life of killing for profit and friendship was not her way. That hollow gestures of charity or compassion meant nothing to a woman that had faced all of the worst of this world and conquered it. That to her, they were the ones that needed help. Some were swayed, most died.
Her exact date of death is not documented. Had I not visited her remains myself, I might have been persuaded that she simply moved on. It appears she was slain not by a cunning adversary or careful plan, but simple misfortune. She came across a great crowd of adventurers, who struck her down before she was able to evade them. An unremarkable end to a remarkable life.
So, what lesson does Enora have for the would be hunter? She is unique in all the cases Vince examines in that she sought to grow others. She embodied an ancient natural order, both figuratively and literally. She teaches the hunter to reject limits imposed on them by others and themselves. To respect fear, but never to allow it to dominate. The hunter must grow strong, and seek challenge. She demonstrates that there is power in the old ways, the first ways man lived by. She rejects the notion of empty charity. We make others weak if we do not challenge them, if we shelter them from suffering. In doing so, we leave them vulnerable to the world around them. Enora teaches strength, not just in oneself, but in our peers.  In her way, she pushed humanity forward. Those that follow her will surely do the same.

A work on golems based on a Lamordian visit.
Spoiler: The Mind of Golems • show
Title: The Mind of Golems
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine library
Content: This work is the product of a collection of personal observations and interviews related to golems. It is written in order to document these observations and put forward a theoretical explanation for them. The term ‘golem’ is a very general one, being applicable to a range of beings that have few shared features. I will define a golem here as any animated being that was not born of ‘natural’ biological process or necromantic animation of unlife. I will note that necromantic magics may be used in the creation of some golems, but such golems do not qualify as unlife as they are not animated by negative energy alone and so fall into the golem category. On my home plane golems were creations of artifice; a talented user of magic would ritually bind a spirit to a construct. The resulting golem, if properly bound, would be a simple automata. It would be capable of following instruction but would have little in the way of self-awareness. While I have collected reports that would suggest that such artificed animation remains a possibility on this plane; golems here can be animated in a number of different ways and can exhibit, I will argue, a mind typical of any thinking human.

The informed reader will likely be familiar with Van Richten’s work on the native form of golems, which he termed ‘the created’. While the work details the basic features of the created and the process by which they are animated, relatively little text is dedicated to the psychology of the created or the nature of their ‘life’. This became a matter of personal interest to me following a trip made to Lamordia in which my companions and I found a community of the created living in a monastery dedicated to Lothurr, a god of lightning whose worship in Lamordia predates its joining the core. This community was comprised of flesh golems, creations of another golem they knew as Adam. Despite their macabre appearance and the indisputably horrific practice of stitching parts of dead humans together, at least one of the golems was capable of reasoned thought. Dedicated to the pursuit of perfecting their own forms and demonstrating what could be considered a range of human emotion, the community wanted only to be left alone. In short, the minds of the golems within this community did not appear to deviate from what we might expect from humans put in their same position.

This is important for two reasons. First, while the creation of such beings is abhorrent, some do seem to be capable of civil, reasoned behaviour. The careful reader encountering one of the created might find that peaceful negotiation is quite possible. Second, the exhibition of human-like thought and reason is supportive of the notion that the created are, in fact, alive. The living are, fundamentally, an animated body with a soul bound to it. The two in concert give rise to the mind. The existence of a mind, the product of both body and soul together, would suggest that the created have some manner of a soul or, at the very least, a soul like correlate or fragment. One challenge to the second observation can be found in a report I collected pertaining to a golem wrought of wax. The golem was created by a skilled artist who intended only to capture the likeness of another. As the wax likeness was completed, it animated. The theoretical cause of animation is to be discussed in a future work. For now, a reader need only be familiar with Van Richten’s argument that the intense desire of a creator is what causes the animation of a golem. The artist, it seems, was inspired to capture the very being of their subject.

The golem itself was fixated on the subject of the work, obsessing over adopting their identity and appearing to be capable of drawing on the person’s self through contact. The golem was initially guided in adopting an identity of its own. It was furnished with resources and coaching in living a life of its own. Unfortunately, this did not seem to take. Weeks later the golem sought out the subject, claiming it would adopt their identity. It had to be destroyed, judged incapable of independent thought. This report would seem to suggest that the mind of the golem was less of an independent construct and more of a facsimile of a mind or, indeed, an attachment to the subject’s mind. The subject reported that the golem behaved like it had been observing them for some time. While it is quite possible that the golem was observing them using mundane means, the alternative explanation is the telepathic link to the creator Van Richten describes allowed the created to access the subject’s mind. The nature of the link will be discussed in a future work, but the implication here is it was the emotion of the subject that animated the golem, not the artist. This link would explain the difficulties the golem had with independent thought without necessitating the absence of a soul bound mind. The alternative explanation is simply that the creation and animation processes were incomplete; where the golems in Lamordia were the product of careful study and therefore better maintained body and soul, the wax golem was entirely accidental and wrought of a substrate far simpler than a human brain.

Further evidence for the potential for the created to be truly alive is a series of encounters I had with a flesh golem in Barovia. Before I met the golem, I collected a number of reports about it. It was said to be confused about its identity and prone to bouts of violence. This led to the golem being ‘killed’. I will note here that I was able to recover a collection of sheet music written by the golem before its end. Conferring with a talented musician revealed it to be an amateur's attempt at composition suggestive of creative ability and appreciation of song. I had thought this the end of my investigation until I came across a flesh golem fitting its description weeks later. It had been restored to life but behaved differently to the reports; like a curious, caring child. Recalling my experiences in Lamordia, I attempted to guide it away from civilisation in order to assess whether or not it could be allowed to exist without threatening others. While it made progress in learning to speak and continued to behave in a benign childish manner, it became fixated with returning to civilisation to find more ‘friends’. This naturally led to misunderstandings between it and others. When one such misunderstanding resulted in violent behaviour from the golem, I had intended to attempt to destroy it. During the conversation that preceded this attempt the golem demonstrated a sudden increase in its intelligence and awareness of self, claiming to recall little from its time before being restored but nonetheless retaining the name it had used then.

This is important to note; the golem appears to have had an identity bound to its living self, one which was retained in part when it was restored. Given that I am sure the destruction of the golem would have damaged the physical component of its mind – the brain – and the trauma of death might be expected to damage the spirit a limited retention of identity is to be expected. However, this does not detract from the fact that there was a retention of identity, of the golem’s mind. I submit that this is because the was a living being, comprised of an incomplete body, soul and mind. The extent to which a golem’s mind will resemble the stability of those created that I met in Lamordia likely depends on the suitability of the physical body for maintenance of a mind; the use of a human brain in a state of perfect preservation in concert with a refined animating process that binds the golem soul or soul-like correlate likely results in the most stable, true to life golems.

While it is grim to speculate on this final point, I will close by touching briefly on the report offered by Van Richten on Doctor Madren’s attempt to restore his sister to life. When she died of heart failure he attempted to restore her to life by replacing her heart and using occult magics. Van Richten contends that the resulting golem was not his sister, but something else. If my theory holds, then it may actually have been possible for Madren’s sister to be restored as she was; the moment her heart failed damage to her brain began as blood ceased to circulate. It may be that Madren’s sister was returned incomplete due to the damage to her brain and the imprecision with which the animation attempt was carried out. I hesitated to include this final suggestion in my work here as it invites an unwise reader to attempt the deplorable; the desire to see a lost loved one restored has driven many brilliant minds to madness and the unconscionable. I will close simply by urging the reader to consider this final assessment purely theoretical; this work has been an attempt to document and explain my findings when it comes to the mind of the created. It is my hope that it serves only the furthering of scholarly work.

Salvisius Imbrex

This historical work was based on interviews with various PCs that had been a part of the keep's later history.

Spoiler: The Extended History of Castle Stafandul: • show
Title: The Extended History of Castle Stafandul:
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Houlgrave's
Content:Recorded here is an overview of the history of Castle Stafandul, currently known as Raduta or Von Zeklos keep. The purpose of this record is to facilitate future study into the nature of the taint affecting Castle Stafandul.

Today the keep is overrun with ethereal undead, ghouls, shadowy fiends and other creatures attracted to lands rife with negative energy. The ambient energies lend a sense of wrongness to all living who enter the area. Plant life is withered and animal life absent. The lands are shrouded in unnatural shadow and the dead rise readily. The interior of the keep contains the decaying remains of the von Zeklos family’s furnishings and it is in exploring this keep that I have recovered much of the information documented here. There does exist a crypt nearby with an orb that radiates negative energy within. The source of this orb remains unclear.

I would like to here note that the ethereal undead in the keep are numerous and exist in a state of constant suffering. You need only spend a few minutes inside of the keep to hear the wailing and the sobbing. There are horrors that infect all lands of the Core, but I cannot imagine a fate worse than being shackled eternally in such a state. It is for their sake that I have conduct this study and for their sake that I will continue to do so. Only by identifying the origins of their binding can we hope to undo it.

First Founding: The Toamna Period

231: Tract of land in Western Barovia gifted to the Toamna family by Nicoleta von Zaroviches for their service in defending against the Neureni invaders. Construction of keep begins.

242: Keep is complete and named Castle Stafandul. It includes a chapel consecrated to Andral.

~260: A plague strikes Toamna lands affecting the family specifically. One source calls it a ‘curse’ but the cause is unknown at time of writing. Plagues are allegedly recurrent in those lands, but I have only found this and one other in documentation.

315: Beatrix Toamna, having adopted the study of black necromancy, attempts an unknown ritual in order to escape the curse-plague. Everyone inside Castle Stafandul is found dead. Record does not state explicitly that Beatrix’s body was observed. There was a sword in the hand of a young acolyte of Andral. This sword is set in stone in memorial. Stafandul is abandoned from now until the Von Zekloses occupy it.

Additional Notes:

Beatrix Toamna is named explicitly by Nicoleta von Zeklos as an entity that guided her in her own necromantic practice. The necromancy used appears to be old and ritualistic; a divergence from the precision of arcane magic in current use. I note here that the sudden deaths of everyone in the keep in 764 parallels the deaths in 315. I have found a ritual Nicoleta von Zeklos intended to carry out at the direction of Beatrix.

I won’t record the ritual here, but it appears to be some form of binding of soul and mind to body. Given that there are reports from the Ezrites stationed at the keep today that Nicoleta has been seen wandering the halls, it seems like Nicoleta either shared the fate of Beatrix Toamna or Beatrix attempted to seize her body.

The magics practiced by Beatrix and Nicoleta are, presently, what I think are most likely to be the cause of the great many spirits bound at the keep.

Keep Reclamation: The von Zeklos Period

648: Silvestru von Zeklos reclaims keep after it had been abandoned for 333 years. My sources indicate that the keep was considered haunted at the time, but the extent of the ‘haunting’ or whether it was peasant superstition remains unclear. The von Zekloses relied heavily on Wachter support during this period. The keep is renamed Von Zeklos Keep.

713: First Toret at keep. Kasimir Gryslitch. Chapel consecrated to Ezra.

724: Executioner’s campaign. One source claims Lilas experimented under the theatre during this period. His laboratory can be found down there to this day; it includes the tools required to create golems.

753: Current Toret Gregory Andrusc vanishes. No replacement is sent.

762: Mordentish Warden Nell Ward convinces the Boyar to allow another Toret to move into shrine. It’s noteworthy that persuasion was necessary. Suggests the family was not pious to begin with. Toret Salvatore Alurto sent.

763: Warden Marle Webber/Aeirman and Gard Aeirman sent to keep from Refuge of Fifth Light amidst rumours of taint at keep.

763 November: Declaration that those spreading rumours of witchery, immortji or vrolocks in relation to the von Zeklos family will be put on the pyre. During this period adventurers investigating the keep go missing (presumed executed).

~764: Plague is spread in von Zeklos lands by Juliana von Zeklos, some manner of werebeast. Only a couple of declarations by the Vallaki Garda restricting travel on the grounds of a plague threat exist to evidence this in the historical record. Further study necessary.

764 April: Titled man Vincent Vasil Stravakov flogged publicly in Vallaki for witchcraft. Burgomaster Nicolai Ionelus present and promises death is the name Ionelus is spoken by a Stravokov; sounds to me like Vincent did something real personal.

764 June: Ezrites of von Zeklos keep declared part of heretical Wurtbeicher sect. Toret Salvatore Alurto, Aleyi ‘simple man’ and Marle. Don’t know when they had adopted his beliefs. Around this period Lilas Wurtbeich came to join the heretics at the keep. Needs to be noted that they intended to undergo the rite of revelation but had not yet. Lilas’ Bastion declaration is therefore illegitimate. Marle is a wight around this period. Conditions and time of transformation unclear.

764 June: Von Zeklos knights Vincent Stravakov. Internal letters suggest Vincent was an ally of the 5th Sect inside the keep. Vincent is the face of the von Zeklos family during this period.

764 June: Trial overseen by Nicolai Ionelus of Ezrites accused by von Zeklos of slander. They’re pardoned, likely because von Zeklos knighted a guy Ionelus hates less than a week ago. The knighting and this trial are probably the start of open hostilities. In the days following this the law enforcement on both sides of the river restrict access and promise scrutiny of travellers.

764 August: Four high ranking members of Boyar’s guard wanted for treason and helping a prisoner escape. Not clear what exactly happened but old letters in keep suggest some in the guard were not corrupted.

764 August: "Bastion" Wurtbeich leaves keep with followers. Unclear if other recorded heretical faithful at the keep left with him. Not long after this the first slaughter at the keep happens. Outlanders, undead and witches are all involved in the assault. Vincent von Zeklos dead for good. Alurto rises again as a wight.

764 September: Second slaughter. Nicoleta von Zeklos dead for good allegedly although the Inquisitor seems to think she’s still around. Last of von Zeklos line. Good riddance. It’s said this was an attack by foreign forces but it’s more likely Ionelus or Wachter decided to solve the problem of the von Zeklos family for good. Marle and Gard continue to preach in the ruins but can’t keep from welcoming all sorts of undead. Eventually they flee.

Additional Notes:

This period is my primary focus for study presently. The circumstances of the slaughters, the details of how certain individuals turned heretic and who was truly pulling the strings in the keep remain unclear. From what records I have recovered within the keep it seems to me that Vincent von Zeklos was thick or being controlled. The audacity of knighting Vincent Stravakov and the blatant, ham fisted handling of the common folk does not speak to an intelligent political hand.

Both the Ioneluses and the Wachters may have coveted the lands of the von Zeklos family and may have been involved in their ultimate downfall in ways that are not clear immediately in the historical record.

Although the 5th Sect is a corrupt entity unto itself, I do not believe them to be the source of the taint in the keep. It seems that the keep itself is simply an environment that a heresy could fester in. That said, the actions of the 5th Sect and Creek’s heretics afterwards likely exacerbated matters.

Second Reclamation: The Wachter Period

765 July: Every Bastion of orthodox church of Ezra has publicly condemned Wurtbeicher heresy.

765 October: By this time 'Saint' Marle has been publicly renounced by Wurtbeich. Seen Marle's death documented multiple times earlier, but she keeps coming back up.

767: Von Zeklos lands given to Wachter family as an extension.

767 April: Laboratory under theatre discovered. I've seen it; definitely seems like it was used during the Executioner's campaign. Looks like some junk for making created down there. It's claimed Lilas Wurtbeich was involved in experiments there. His arrest is sought. The same year his sect's headquarters in Ouvrier is torched.

770: After agreements are made between the Church of Ezra and the Wachter family, the keep is occupied by a 4th Sect congregation led by Creek and Frauenlob. It is the 4th Sect that names the keep ‘Raduta’. Eventually this congregation would turn heretic and be replaced by the current 2nd Sect congregation. The Church is, naturally, very sparse in the detail provided on this point.

The Wachter period seems to be an interesting one but it does not relate directly to the origins of the taint at the keep. I am primarily interested in seeing the spirits within free. Documentation of the Wachter period while it is still in living memory would be a fruitful pursuit of any historian.

I will note, in closing, that the taint at the keep seems to have consumed many of its would-be cleansers. I’d suggest extreme caution be employed by any that would venture within.

Rhea Eleutheria

Announcements and Notices / A notice hung near the Keep of the Dyad
« Last post by ChrisRanHimselfOver on March 26, 2023, 11:34:39 PM »
Information on Dragons Sought.

I seek to learn as much as I can about these creatures that are not native to this land. Any that are willing to share what they know are welcome to reach out to me through letter to either the Manor Retreat in Port-a-Lucine or in the Keep of the Dyad to discuss a time to meet. Simply address the letter to Coltan Viris, and I will receive it.

The information I seek specifically pertains to:
Subspecies of dragons
Intelligence and temperament of dragons
Abilities that dragons possess, both natural and supernatural
The ability for dragons to mate with other races and produce offspring that retain draconic traits

Title: A Knight's Virtues
Icon: ilT_BOOK_003 (or Dev Team's choice; I can't get the haks to load properly)
Suggested locations: Houlgraves'

A treatise written by the paladin Vandryn Carro.

In my travels I've crossed paths with several folk who interest themselves in knighthood. Having journeyed from squirehood to become grandmaster of an Order and prelate of a Church, bearing many successes and failures along the way, I now place quill to parchment in hope that these words offer challenge and encouragement to such folk.

-=The Nature of Knighthood=-

Knighthood may be political, such as in Dementlieu, or ecclesiastical, such as the holy orders hailing from "outlander" realms. In all cases, however, knighthood is more than a title. It's a matter of soul just as much as it is of ceremony. It is--or should be--fundamentally a practice of virtue.

After all, in perfect circumstances, is it not for a virtue that someone is first knighted, whether for service to one's people or a desire to serve one's faith? Are not these folk lauded when they act virtuously and denounced when they don't?

Thus, we see that knighthood ought to be both internal and external: a union of body and soul, action and intention, toward virtue.

-=Chivalric Virtue=-

Knights' paths vary between traditions yet are guided by these virtues. Knights must cultivate their virtue, armoring themselves with it against assaults and evils. To that end, I offer a portrait of virtues as armor, as painted by the tradition of my own faith.

A knight should gird themself in truth as they might don a belt. As a belt supports its wearer--a foundation of tools for both healing and battle--so also must a knight depend on truth in all circumstances. Such must be a foundation for their actions, for virtue becomes falsehood and falters without truth.

A knight should also don righteousness as they might a breastplate. As a breastplate protects their body, so also must a pursuit of righteousness guard their intentions. Folk who maintain their coat keep ready for combat. Those who maintain their pursuit of righteousness--without becoming self-righteous--keep ready to meet the trials along their path.

A shield cooperates with a breastplate to protect the knight. Akin to a shield, a knight must take up faith (or, if not that, some noble creed) that cooperates with their pursuit of righteousness. The two uphold each other: the humble faith prevents the desire for righteousness from becoming self-righteousness, and the pursuit of righteousness keeps the faith untainted and true.

Boots both carry a knight forward and leave tracks behind. Knights must shoe themselves in peace and be prepared to arrive and depart in peace when peace is possible. Those who concentrate solely on combat risk becoming little more than sellswords. Knights must learn temperance, diplomacy, and tact, knowing how to comfort others and make peace. Anyone can learn how to draw a sword. Wisdom is knowing when to draw it.

As a knight might wear a helmet, so they must bear their cornerstone principles. A helmet, with its style and unique make, identifies its wearer in the chaos of battle: it's how their allies and enemies know who they are. Thus, a knight's cornerstone principles--akin to a helmet--ought to be how others identify them. Never should a knight grow so distanced from their principles that others don't know what the knight stands for.

Lastly, a knight must don love and compassion like a cloak. A cloak has many purposes. It provides warmth, yet it may also be a pillow or blanket or tent-flap or, perhaps, a gift to those in need--in most uses, a source of comfort. A knight should bear their compassion similarly. It warms their heart and prevents it from being frozen by horror or excess zeal. Like a cloak, it can be used in many ways: ever extended to others who need it, ready to be given in the right fashion.

Yet understand that a knight's cloak cooperates with their armor to protect them. Armor doesn't provide warmth as a cloak does, while a cloak won't necessarily deflect a strike. In like fashion must the knight's love and righteousness exist together. Righteousness must be tempered by love, lest righteous anger lead to unrighteousness, and love must be balanced by righteousness, lest the knight become arbitrary and unjust.


Akin to wearing armor, knighthood isn't simply a matter of doing, but of being. Doing virtue--donning the armor--is what should earn the title. Being virtuous--wearing it well--is what defines it.

This isn't easily accomplished, yet knights train such that moving in their armor becomes nearly effortless, an extension of their being. Likewise, one who trains in "wearing" their virtue will find that being virtuous becomes increasingly natural.

May your training be blessed with success.
Announcements and Notices / Re: The Vallaki Review
« Last post by The Vallaki Review on March 26, 2023, 04:32:50 PM »


*Now published in the non-Vallaki greater area of Barovia!

Espionage and murder responsible for chaos within our beloved city

The Vallaki Review has conducted an intense investigation into the cult of an unknown fiend and Nerull, served by a Gundarakite Lich and Terg undead knight Burhan Yilmaz. These immortji have left a trail of blood and pain across Barovia: a campaign of violence, intimidation and dark rituals, including past attacks on the city and murders that have left countless Garda and Barovians dead. More concerning still, the two immortji have conspired with outlanders and Barovians alike who have assisted them in their dark schemes in exchange for powers.

We have identified a number of their co-conspirators and servants. Gareth Rex and Aithra the Fey were among their most prolific and well-known followers, responsible for tortures and maimings on their behalf. But their deaths have not spelled the end of the cult of this wretched fiend. Their followers still living that we have identified beyond all doubt:

Avram Enache and Mordalynne DeWynter. Enache has provided his services to the cult in exchange for dark powers and the gift of unlife, and secretly conducts dangerous tasks on behalf of his masters and their gods. DeWynter, we have learned, has conducted extensive espionage on the Vallaki Garda, including spying on individual members of each.

We are closely observing other potential cultists with a high degree of certainty, but we will not publish their names until we are certain. The followers likely make frequent use of disguises and false names, though we have confirmed at least one Barovian and at least one member of the Cult of Pazrael among their numbers, names currently unknown.

Recently the Wayfarer Kinship participated in the slaying of cultist Gareth Rex, and members of the cult were aware of the slaying with alarming details. The Lich's followers are currently planning to murder two members of the Wayfarer Kinship by the name of "Roland" and Melian Orne-iel in retaliation for Rex's slaying, using some manner of dark ritual. The cult believes Gareth Rex was lured in using DeWynter as bait, though we have not been able to verify the truth of this, and An unknown man is assigned to conduct their revenge killing.

The cult is targeting doamna Orne-iel in particular, believing her a threat to their aims and believing she must be eradicated. Mordalynne DeWynter's fate is currently unknown, though it is believed she may be in hiding and the cult is weighing suspicions that she may have assisted in the killing of Gareth Rex. Internal discussions among the cultists reveal that Gareth Rex's killing has thrown the cult into a state of fear and paranoia, with internal purgings planned of those suspected of leaking information to their enemies.

We can only pray Vallaki's defenders are up to the task of opposing them.

((Edited to fix a typo.
Local Gossip / Markovia
« Last post by cooachlyfe on March 26, 2023, 03:57:23 PM »
A Souragnian man, fresh from departing a caravan from Dementlieu, has made his way to the island of Markovia with many supplies. He has been seen settled and sleeping in Jhurgen's camp lately.
Module Feedback and Suggestions / Re: Suggestion: Certain items in the Drain
« Last post by myrddraal on March 26, 2023, 03:28:45 PM »
Biggest issue from a convenience standpoint with putting charcoal down there is the normal NPC you would go to for it, shuts down shop in the winter. It would make the drain the only location in a low level area you could get charcoal in january.

There are other merchants in Barovia who sell coal, year round.  I know a second in Western Barovia and the smith in the VOB sells it as well.

Non outcast / criminal people also probably havent explored enough of Vallaki to know where the herbalist thats already there is.
Tales Around the Campfire / The Sickened Paladin in Refuge
« Last post by Cody on March 26, 2023, 03:18:24 PM »
Although as common a sight as it was to see the paladin AEGIS TALE within the hall of the Fifth Light Cathedral praying before Ezra's altar. He has been seeking the aid of divine healing. Odd it may appear the paladin in his current sickened state after events of this weekend. The man prostrating himself now seems paler, even his prestigious muscled weight seemingly slightly thinner as if though a black cloud casts it shadow over him stealing energy from him. His prayers spoken in raspier breaths as heavy coughs steadily besiege the devout champion's lungs.
Announcements and Notices / An Intrepid Notice
« Last post by Imperial on March 26, 2023, 01:12:43 PM »
[Plastered in various places frequented by those traveling through Barovia, and at the Keep of the Dyad, is the following notice...]


I, Vesnia Endymion, INTREPID explorer and famed archaeologist, took part in a joint-effort in Barovia led by the Guardians of Degannwy, featuring the Archondum of Dvergeheim, the Wayfarer Kinship, the mercenaries of the Golden Shilling, and still others. Together, we ventured into the Blightwood and fought against the hideous, massive, and terrible spider known only as the Onyx and its brood of man-sized young; we also uncovered a new source of corruption that, if not discovered, would have surely have spread beyond the Blightwood and out to the rest of Barovia. It was perilous in the extreme and fraught with danger, especially for those exposed to the fungus we found in its lair, and all are to be commended for their bravery and heroism.

However, after I blacked out after a failed attempt made by me to try and scout ahead inside the cavern and was revived by allies, I found myself without my backpack and thus relieved of around seventy or eighty thousand solars. My weapons were recovered, and yet the rather large amount of gold on my person was stolen. People will doubtlessly blame me, the victim, for not having deposited some of that in a bank. People will doubtlessly blame me, the victim, for placing my trust in a large band of mostly strangers. I simply acted under the impression that those whom I was traveling with were honorable and, indeed, would not steal from their comrades-in-arms as they worked to try dispatch what could only be considered an existential threat to Degannwy's continued survival.

To whomever has my backpack, and my savings:  I am offering a finder's fee of 20,000 solars to whomever recovers and brings back what is mine. What this means is that if my money is returned to me, you will keep twenty thousand gold from it, and I will consider the matter resolved. The identity of the thief is, at this point, known to me. Should I fail to have my coin returned to me in a week's time, their identity will become common knowledge throughout Barovia, Dementlieu, and indeed, throughout the Core. I do not intend to give up searching for my gold; it this point, it has become a matter of principle. If you are not a craven and an honorless cur, you will consider my offer.

((Placed in-game.))
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