Author Topic: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide  (Read 35513 times)

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Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« on: May 04, 2007, 10:01:51 AM »
Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide


Greetings Fellow Prisoners of the Mists,

   In the hopes of encouraging more players to role play Barovian and Gundarakite characters, the application process was abolished some time ago.  Now that these two ethnic groups are open to all players for role play, your Community Council would like to highlight some concerns and issues, as well as offer some -rp- tips, on the topic of native role play.


A Player’s Freedom to Role Play

    This guide is just that, a guide.  Our intention is not to tell someone that they must role play their Barovian or Gundarakite “this way.”  However, there is a setting.  There is a local culture with strong beliefs.  The setting and the local culture will react in an –ic- manner to any native Gundarakite or Barovian who is perceived as behaving outside of their local culture’s norms.  If any player chose the Gundarakite or Barovian option upon character creation as an afterthought, you may require a remake or a revision of your character concept.  All Gundarakite and Barovian player characters require a name that is true to their ethnic heritage.  Other than that, each player is free to chose how their native character will behave.  Keep in mind though, that the setting will react accordingly.  If a native Barovian or Gundarakite are witnessed spending all their time in the company of outlanders, and they begin adventuring as if they were an outlander, a DM may eventually take notice, possibly change your characters faction from native to outlander, and your character will be treated by the setting and local culture as someone "lost" and "corrupted" by outlander ways.

The Barovia entry in the Native PC Information Thread also contains information that may be useful for any Barovian or Gundarakite player. The Invidia entry will also be of interest to Gundarakite players.

A Touch of Xenophobia

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Xenophobia: “One unduly fearful or contemptuous of strangers or foreigners.”

    Considering that most players play outlanders, who are “strangers or foreigners,” this can be a challenge to role play.  Native Gundarakite or Barovians do not seek out the company of outlanders.  Since the Western Outskirts is the well-known outlander haven, native Gundarakite and Barovians will not “hang out” in this area typically.

    Suggestions for overcoming some of this xenophobic role playing challenges are:

 :arrow:   Have your native character seek employment at either the Lady’s Rest or The Broken Bell.  This will provide your character a space in which regular role play occurs. 
   
 :arrow:     Have your character make regular deliveries to the Lady’s Rest.  This may be a delivery of farm produce or what have you. 

 :arrow:   You may also seek employment at the temple of the Morninglord. 

 :arrow:   Join a faction. Gundarakites are attracted to the teachings of the Morninglord.  Gundarakite can also join the rebel faction.  Barovians can join the Guard Faction.  If you role play a Barovian, and you want a lot of role play interaction, the Guard Faction may be for you.  Other factions, detailed within the Faction Guide, are also available to natives.

Fear of the Night

    Native Barovians and Gundarakites have a crippling fear of the night.  This can be a challenge, since half of the day is divided into light and darkness.  Darkness, the night, on a symbolic level represents irrational fears, or our subconsciousness.  However, their fear of the night might not be all that irrational; there are horrors that only come out at night.  Barovians and Gundarakites in general are a fearful people.  It is "common sense" for both ethic groups to safely secure themselves and property at the coming of each sunset.  This helps create the desired mood within our setting.  Does this mean that Gundarakite and Barovians always have to avoid being out at night?  No.  For example, the Guard Faction may be on duty some nights.  However, they do so with both fear and anxiety.  The Gundarakite rebels often are forced to conduct their activities under the blanket of night.  They too role play this anxiety and fear.  In other words, you typically will not see a Barovian or Gundarakite walking alone without a care in the world while Night is in process.

    Suggestions for overcoming the role playing challenge of having your native fear the night:

 :arrow:   Many players have alternate characters.  Log out come night fall, and role play a character who does not fear the night to the crippling extent that locals do.  Many of the Gundarakite use night time for role playing within their hideout; making plans or what have you.  If we find ourselves running out of creative ideas to pass the night away, we simply log in our Caliban or outlander characters.  Calibans, who are also native, work out well, being that they relish the freedom that night time offers them.  The Barovian Guard pc may find themselves on wall duty.  This will provide them with a setting appropriate activity during the night.

 :arrow:   If your character is employed at an Inn, they can role play inside.  This role play can benefit the gothic setting, by contrasting your native with the outlander who roams out at night.

Fear of Witchcraft

    Gundarakite and Barovians barely tolerate healing magic.  They do not differentiate the different schools of magic.  Their daily lives are devoid of such acts.  Therefore, they react to the visible effect of a spell or prayer.  A cleric summoning an undead warrior and a mage doing the same will be treated equally in their eyes.  This goes for any other visible spell, such as barkskin, stoneskin, flameweapon, and the like.  Because of this fear of witchcraft, any item or weapon that appears “tainted” by witchcraft, such as glowing blades, will be viewed as dangerous.  The average Barovian and Gundarakite will never use any item that has these “frightening” properties.  If an item is magical, but does not make its magical property obvious, such as a simple plus one dagger, then that item is fine, since as far as the native knows, it is just a nicely crafted blade.  Items that illuminate light though, such as robes, may be looked upon suspiciously; common folk use natural light sources.

    The temptation to use magical items or spell abilities that the engine provides your character class is a role playing challenge.  For example, a Gundarakite ranger will at some point have the engine ability to cast some arcane spells.  However, due to the Gundarakite’s ideology, they would be oblivious to this.  They would never even dream of learning how to cast spells.  They may however, through prayer, if they like many Gundarakite follow the Morninglord, learn to cast healing spells.

    Both PvM and PvP are extra difficult for native Barovians and Gundarakite.  Not only will they not adventure to some PvM areas, due to their deep rooted fear of the arcane and monsters, they will not have magic to assist them in their battles.

But Aren’t Our Native Barovians and Gundarakite Supposed to be Exceptional?
 

    As stated above, each player has the freedom to role play their native as they wish.  However, the setting is important, and the local ethnic groups will react appropriately to any Gundarakite or Barovian who acts exceptional.  If one talks like an outlander, if one acts like an outlander, then they must be an outlander.  From an –ic- perspective, the locals will view any fellow native who is known to keep company with outlanders, hang out in the western outskirts, or uses obvious magic items or spells, as a native who has been “corrupted” and “tainted” by the “foolish” and “untrustworthy” outlanders.  These natives will likely have their faction switched to the outlander faction, so that natives who adhere to cultural norms react appropriately.

Helpful and Related Links

 :arrow: Faction Guide
 :arrow: Barovia & Witchcraft
 :arrow: Barovia & Women
 :arrow: Local dialects: Balok & Luktar
 :arrow: Differences: Natives & Outlanders
 :arrow: Native Perspective: What Makes an Outlander?

This resource has been brought to you by the Community Council.  If any player, -DM-, or developer would lilke to contribute or provide feedback, please contact an active member on the Council, and appropriate revisions will result.  Please feel free to post any questions or comments that you feel would benefit the community.

Sincerely,
The Community Council
« Last Edit: September 30, 2021, 11:02:57 PM by MAB77 »

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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2008, 01:13:14 PM »
I'd like to bump this thread since its been brought up as a recent concern.  To be more specific, I'd like to reemphasize the following:
Quote
A Player’s Freedom to Role Play

    This guide is just that; a guide.  Our intention is not to tell someone that they must role play their Barovian or Gundarakite “this way.”  However, there is a setting.  There is a local culture with strong beliefs.  The setting and the local culture will react in an –ic- manner to any native Gundarakite or Barovian who is perceived as behaving outside of their local culture’s norms.  If any player chose the Gundarakite or Barovian option upon character creation as an afterthought, you may require a remake or a revision of your character concept.  All Gundarakite and Barovian player characters require a name that is true to their ethnic heritage.  Other than that, each player is free to chose how their native character will behave.  Keep in mind though, that the setting will react accordingly.  If a native Barovian or Gundarakite are witnessed spending all their time in the company of outlanders, and they begin adventuring as if they were an outlander, a DM may eventually take notice, possibly change your characters faction from native to outlander, and your character will be treated by the setting and local culture as someone "lost" and "corrupted" by outlander ways.


There have been and are some native Barovians who act out against their culture's norms.  That is perfectly fine, but please be aware that the dm staff most likely will change that Barovian's faction setting, making them basically an outlander, someone no longer accepted as Barovian due to their outlandish behavior. 

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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2008, 09:32:09 PM »
Some Common Terms




Glossary

Boyar—landowners of Barovia; together with the burgomasters they represent local governments
Castle Hunadora—the fortress home of Duke Gundar.
Dreadmount—a cluster of mountains in western Barovia and the subject of many fearful rumors
Dreadpass—the narrow gorge beneath the Dreadmount through which the Luna River flows and along which rests the Keep of Forgetting
Ijrail—a demon in Barovia legends that was sent by the Tergs to tempt Strahd I
Keep of Forgetting—an old ruin pre-dating the emergence of the Mists, said to be haunted by the spirits of those who once resided there but were slain by the Von Zaroviches
Majr—Moth-like demons in Barovian folklore; their descriptions change from story to story
Mamliga—a cornmeal mush, common to every household
Mititei—grilled pork and lamb meatballs
Neureni—barbrians who invaded Barovia in 230 B.C.
Neuri-Werewolves or shapeshifting wizards
Nocnitsa—blood-drinking, flesh-eating crones of folklore
Patricieni—grilled sausage
Placinte—a popular delicacy, pastry and fruit turnovers
Poludnitsa—beautiful, reclusive nymphs of Barovia folklore who said to decapitate those unfortunate to wander into their groves.
Sarmale—pork wrapped in cabbage or grape leaves
Tocana—pork stewed with onions and garlic
Tsuika—a plum brandy unqiue to Barovia, popular among all classes
Von Holtz—a Vallaki-based commoner family favored by the Von Zaroviches for reasons unknown; they are often given tasks by the Count and frequently speak on his behalf.
Veela—water spirits who tempt mortals with their charms only to drown them
Vrolok—vampire, in the Balok tongue


Luktar Translated Into English



Quote
szervusz!--cheers!
viszlát--goodbye
igen--yes
nem--no
segítség!--help!
utazik messze!--go away!
fellázad-- to rebel
zsarnok--king; tyrant
szabadság--freedom
bábu--man
no--woman
gyermik--child
élet--life
halál--death
szerelem--love
elárulás--betrayal
féltékenység--jealousy
« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 04:58:42 PM by DM Arawn »

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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2008, 11:53:38 AM »
We gave this topic, of a Gundarakite or Barovian trying to pass off as one another, some attention a while back.  It really can go both ways.  A barovian might be trained as an undercover agent in an effort to infiltrate any rebel networks.  

I think it ought to require some specific training and skills, otherwise it would be too messy down the road.  There are lots of tiny little cultural things that people only learn from within the culture.  

Certain backgrounds might make it more viable.  Say a Gundarakite child is orphaned and grows up at an orphanage predomoniated by Barovian culture.  In order to try to fit in, she or he'd be at that age where they naturally take on the behaviors of those around them.  

Otherwise, without having all those cultural nuances specific to any culture, a Gundarakite might successfully pass as a Barovian from a distance (figuratively speaking 'distance'), but if that Gundarakite was invited to dinner at a Barovian house, and was to spend a few hours with native Barovians, that might possibly be stressful and hard to pull off.  Now some folks if they've not travelled much among different cultures, might not realize just how different people can be.  From an outlander's view, Gundarakites and Barovians will be difficult to differentiate between.  When Michael Phelps was in China, just about every tall white young guy was mistaken by the locals as being Michael Phelps.  How we percieve the world and interpret sense-data is done so through a lens of culture.  

But, Barovians and Gundarakites do both live in close proximity, sharing the same world, under the same boyars and Burgomasters, with the same distrust towards outlanders.  So I think it is possible for a Barovain or Gundarakite with the right skills, background, and luck, to have some success in passing off as the other, but within reason.  


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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2009, 07:00:05 PM »
Quote from: Ravenloft Gazetteer I
Barovia's population has four distinct ethnic groups: Barovians, Gundarakites, Forfarians, and Thaani. While the broad cultural differences between these groups are minimal today, they can generally be distinguished by their physical appearance and language.

Ethnic Barovians are the descendents of the folk that first settled the Balinoks over 750 years ago. They have spread throughout present day Barovia, though they remain most dominant in their original lands. In the most distant reaches of the west, the boyars, their agents, and the Barovian militias represent Barovians almost exclusively. Ethnic Gundarakites, conversely, are found in greatest numbers in the west and are rarely encountered east of the Balinoks. The Gundarak region is currently much more densely populated than the rest of Barovia, and as such may actually outnumber Barovians by a small margin. Both groups vastly outnumber the Forfarians and the Thaani, who dwell almost exclusively in the village of Immol. Though together the Forfarians and Thaani of Immol number only a few hundred, their refusal to intermarry with the local Barovians has maintained the integrity of their communities for roughly two hundred years. Whether such a degree of inbreeding has maintained their health, intellect, and sanity is another matter.

The wretched irony of the conflict between the Barovians and the Gundarakites is that an outsider would be hard-pressed to tell them apart by their physical appearance. Woe to the traveler who confuses one for the other, however! Both ethnic groups have thick, stocky builds, characterized by broad shoulders, meaty limbs, and wide hips. Generally dusky in appearance, their skin tones range from a pale olive-tan to light brown. Dark hair and eyes are the norm, the former varying from light chestnut to deep, glossy black, the latter from pale hazel to rich brown. Men of both ethnicities prefer to wear their coarse, wavy hair just above the shoulder. Women grow their hair long throughout their lives, and younger maids often braid their locks in a single or double tress. Nearly all men wear the distinctive, drooping mustache common to the region, grown thick and long. Beards are widespread only among younger men, who consider them a sign of virility (and then quickly abandon the notion when they marry).

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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2009, 07:08:05 PM »
From this exerpt, here are some of the laws and prohibitions applying to Gundarakites:

It is illegal for Gundarakites to purchase any lands beyond what they currently own.
It is illegal for Gundarakites to live north of the Luna.
It is illegal for Gundarakites to own boats or large weapons.
It is illegal for Gundarakites to possess or even make weapons larger than daggers.
Barovians are currently trying to force the Gundarakites to speak the "civilized" Barovian tongue at all times.

Quote from: Domains of Dread
The majority of the inhabitants in the west of Barovia are ethnic Gundarakites, citizens of a domain that no longer exists. They outnumber the Barovians but are essentially kept in an impoverished state by unreasonable laws and excessive taxes. Farmers and herders predominate this area, although craftsmen are found in the towns of Teufeldorf (which has three thousand inhabitants) and Zeidenburg (four thousand inhabitants). At one time, Zeidenburg's weaponsmiths were renowned for their skill. Since the city was annexed by Barovia, however, it is illegal for Gundarakites to possess or even make weapons larger than daggers.

In the wake of the Grand Conjunction, Strahd ordered the militias of Barovia's villages to invade Gundarak and take control of its settlements, making the Gundarakites citizens of Barovia. Gundarakites are similar in appearance to Barovians, but their women tend to favor more colorful garb. Unmarried Gundarakite women always keep their heads covered. This leads to frequent, and sometimes bloody, misunderstandings between young Barovians and Gundarakites.

Their different religious beliefs cause an even more severe delineation between Barovians and Gundarakites. Except when conducting funerals, Barovians do not frequent churches. Even weddings are held at village inns. This is primarily because whenever an optimistic young couple would schedule a church wedding, the bride would invariably vanish the night before, only to be found dead a few days later, her body battered and her throat torn open as though by some wild beast. These events and the continuing evil of their tyrant lord have led them to believe that either the gods have abandoned them or are punishing them unjustly for the crimes of their ancestors. Consequently, though each village has a temple or church building, it usually lies in disrepair.

Gundarakites, on the other hand, are very religious. Under Gundar, they primarily paid homage to a deity known as Nerull, but since their subjugation by the Barovians, a new faith is gaining popularity. A small Barovian cult, known as the Children of the Morninglord, bases itself in Krezk, where they maintain a temple. The members of this faith are awaiting the day when the Morninglord, a being with golden skin and hair of fire, steps out of the Mists and banishes darkness and suffering from the world. The Qundarakites, who briefly knew freedom immediately following the death of Duke Gundar, find this an appealing belief, even if the Barovians do not.

The final difference between Barovians and Qundarakites is one of language. Barovians speak Balok, a language full of unusual consonant combinations, while the Gundarakites speak Luktar, a sing-song language of soft, lilting sounds that Barovians find hard to master. There is only a 10% chance that an individual from one of these ethnic groups speaks the language of the other group, while there is a 20% chance per individual to speak the language of another Core domain. Barovians are currently trying to force the Gundarakites to speak the "civilized" Barovian tongue at all times. This law would join others that the boyars have recently agreed upon, including those that prohibit Gundarakites from purchasing any lands beyond what they currently own, living north of the Luna, and owning boats or large weapons.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2009, 03:32:51 PM by EO »

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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2009, 03:58:41 PM »
Here's some things I've been witnessing that I don't feel are particularly accurate for ethnic Barovians:

1. A love of Strahd: I've been seeing a lot of "for the Count!" and "By the Count!" stuff. It's way off the mark. The average Barovian despises Strahd as a tyrant first and possible necromancer second. They call him the "Devil Strahd." They hate the harsh taxes, and they know that he's lived far longer than any mortal man should. They believe his long life is attributed to dabbling in dark magic. While Barovians know that openly displaying their contempt for their tyrannical ruler is tantamount to suicide, they don't bother to make it seem like they adore him, either. As they have little interaction with Strahd, most of the tyranny in the realm is experienced by his vassals, the Burgomasters and Boyars, whom the peasantry believes are all cruel and schemers, eager to please Strahd at the expense of the common folk.

The people do love "Strahd the First" as the liberator from the Tergs, but no Barovian believes that this is the same man that rules them today. They believe Strahd XI is a degenerate and a disgrace to his ancestor, and really only obey him out of fear bordering on paranoia.

2. Nationalism: Calls to national pride are unlikely to emerge from most Barovians, and they would likely fall upon deaf ears if they did. Barovians serve in the military as a means of employment (it's moderately less miserable than being a landed serf), or are conscripted. Conscripted Barovians typically serve out of fear of death or worse. Most Barovians are simply concerned with day-to-day survival and subsistence, though they do also have a crippling fear of the supernatural.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2009, 04:15:46 PM by Bluebomber4evr »

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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2009, 04:51:49 PM »
I've never understood why people think playing a native Barovian means essentially doing nothing. Playing a native Barovian doesn't mean you need to sit in an inn all day twiddling your thumbs. By your very nature as a PC, you're going to be an adventurer who is different from the normal serfs. Maybe your character wants to improve his lot in life, maybe she's dissatisfied with miliatry service, maybe he wants to leave behind the misery of poverty and find a new place in the world, maybe she seeks to better the lives of others, maybe he just wants to rid the world of supernatural horrors he's been terrified of since childhood. There's all sorts of ways to make a native Barovian that isn't shackled to a stereotype but still is faithful.

The reason I made the post above is because the "love" of Strahd and nationalistic behaviors seem to be what most people think all Barovians are like--and they are almost always present in the Barovian PCs that I've seen--when in reality very few Barovians would feel this way. A few adventurer PCs could feel this way, but certainly not all of them (or even a majority) ;)

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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2012, 05:19:15 AM »
Bumping to clarify what the Barovian outlook on outlanders is and isn't.

A lot of people have an...exaggerated idea of how Barovians feel about outsiders. I've seen people act as if Barovians outright hate anyone not Barovian or that they hate being in the same place as them.

Here's what the books actually say about the people of Barovia:

The original "Black Box"
Quote
Barovians bear the burden of Strahd's yoke every day. As a result, they tend to be reserved, and surly or gruff. They keep to themselves and don't cause trouble, because troublemakers tend to end up dead -- or worse.

The 3rd Edition Campaign Setting
Quote
The people of Barovia may be ethnically diverse, but as a group they are a gruff, suspicious lot. They tend to be brusque with outsiders, and even the most amicable Barovian natives are no-nonsense and severe. The dour attitude that seems to dominate Barovia may be partially attributed to the rampant fear of the supernatural that permeates the realm.

Gazetteer I
Quote
Despite the sometimes fractious ethnic divisions in Barovia, the folk here share a common unifying element: a thoroughly frosty demeanor. Life under the stern gaze of Count Strahd has forged them into a harsh people who mind their own business (and who lack even an ounce of hospitality, I might add). Strangers are not welcomed, and questions are rebuffed with disregard and glares. Travelers will find their appearance, dress, accent, manner, and possessions scrutinized with suspicion by all.

[Azalin's note: "Ah, yes. I remember the Barovian glares well, though I doubt my little scholar's own frosty demeanor could possibly have improved matters."]

Utterly unapologetic for their backward mentality, Barovians have little use for the ways of more civilized realms. More often than not, their concerns revolve around simple matters of daily survival such as turnip crops and mountain storms.
It's important to note that this last one is written in-character by Azalin's scholar "S." who is known to be less than friendly herself (see Azalin's note).

Also note that none of these descriptions speak of outright hatred or violence against outsiders. The only time that behavior seems to come up is with known practitioners of magic.

As far as nonhumans go, Gazetteer I says:

Quote
Calibans occur with disturbing regularity in Barovia, though their births are just as often blamed on the influence of vampires, demons, wizards or hags. Halflings are found exclusively in the large villages of western Barovia, where they live in tiny ghettos. Dwarves are thought to dwell deep in the Balinoks, and wild elves purportedly stalk the Tepurich Forest. Rural Barovians who encounter such nonhumans are likely to consider them monstrous freaks or malicious fey.
Please note that the last sentence qualifies that rural Barovians feel that way about elves and dwarves.


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Re: Native Barovian and Gundarakite Role Play Guide
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2015, 05:07:21 PM »
Here's what the Gazetteer I has to say about career soldiers and conscripted militiamen:

Quote
Loyal career soldiers or mercenaries in the direct service of Strand's vassals patrol most settlements in the Balinoks. In the occupied areas of western Barovia, the growing discontent and violence among ethnic Gundarakites amplify the need for a strong military presence. Accordingly, western burgomasters and boyars offer handsome stipends to lure ethnic Barovians down from the mountains and into their militias. Accordingly, the bulk of the soldiers in Gundarakite settlements are poor farmers or herders from the east, seeking a better life through military service. The Gundarakites are ostensibly controlled through the presence of these troops, as well as local edicts that forbid them from owning weapons larger than a common dagger.

Quote
A typical Barovian career soldier works in service to a burgomaster or boyar to enforce edicts and keep the peace. A typical Barovian militiaman is conscripted to supplement such soldiers in the Gundarak region.

Barovia has loyal career soldiers paroling the streets of the various settlements. Now, Barovians may not have much love for Strahd, but he remains the lord and boyars and burgomasters definitely show him respect. Guards don't have to be Strahd fanboys but they can be proud of their origin and want to serve their land. Some will be more than others.

Barovia has a a pretty solid army too; they did invade Gundarak, a land with more population and Strahd was a famous general.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2021, 10:44:04 PM by MAB77 »