Domain of Dread – Dawnsveil


During the 4th Edition era of Dragon magazine, I recreated an idea for a 2E domain that I never got to run. Only a few notes were ever made, so it’s not like I got too much done in terms of progress.  This was mostly because Wizards advertised an article search, including the domains of dread column.  While I didn’t care too much for the 4E Shadowfell take on domains, I was more than eager to more or less make my own mark on Ravenloft.  Needless to say, the concept was rejected and has long since stayed on numerous hard drives over the years.  However, I’m gonna pilfer this grave and unleash the contents within!  Here’s my attempt at fleshing out this concept for your enjoyment.
Note: This post will focus on the lore of the area.  Stats are provided in a separate post coming shortly after.  This will include the Darklord, his foil and various other creatures native to the realm.  Also, I found out that my domain’s name shares the name of an expansion to MapleStory more or less.  Granted, I don’t know if my idea predates it or not (2011, I have the rejection date from Wizards of the Coast somewhere!) Also included is a modest attempt at a map, albeit without more in depth tools.



Domain Size. Cluster of small and decently spread villages, united under the former Dawnsveil County
Cultural Level. Renaissance (9)
Climate and Terrain.  Temperate coasts, forests, swamps, some settled turf
Ecology. Healthy, despite relatively rampant hunting (extirpating various animal populations)
Year Formed.  755 BC
Population. 2,200
Races. 98% Human, 2% Other
Languages. Dawnsveil (Grandglenish)
Religions. The Guiding Dawn, The Morninglord, Belenus (the latter two in more recent years)
Governments.  Former Trade Colony turned Theocratic Council
Ruler. Aaron Orvird, Governor of Dawnsveil County
Darklord. Aaron Orvird
Nationality. Dawnsveil Colony of Grandglen (Dawnvsveilite/Glenish)
Analog. Jamestown Settlement/Salem, Massachusetts
Themes. Religious Fanaticism, Paranoia, Colonialism

Things and Places of Legend.

The Hanging Yards. A macabre reminder of the witch hunts that ultimately lead to the domain’s doom.  These gallows are a a quarter of a mile up a gradual slope from the village of Trinity Passing, the village where convicted witches were imprisoned before hanging.  The gallows themselves overlook a number of the villages below, also acting as one of the highest peaks of the domain itself.  Malicious undead and dark nature spirits often congregate around the swinging ropes.  Many are lured to the gallows by the ethereal lights that illuminate the macabre hanging nooses.  Tales tell of villagers going missing in the night, only for their bodies to discovered hanging from one of the ropes.
The Amphitheater of Faith.  An outdoor staging area overlooking the bay that gently sloshes the rocks below.  A raised stage typically holds a service held by one of the remaining ministers of influence or important community announcements made by Orvird.  The amphitheater is carved from the jagged hilly rock besides the water, following a path leading towards the village of Mercy’s Watch.
Fort Brandson.  The defensive barracks protecting Mercy’s Watch.  This small installation has outlived a little of its usefulness, as the small town emerged from the fort walls and emerged nearby.  In the past, this installation was used to hold back angry native populations, as well as provide a safe place for armaments and supplies for hired mercenary/security companies.  Said groups had long since left before the domain was taken into the mists.
Admiral Stewart Brandson.  A part of the military escort to ensure the process of establishing a colony was a smooth one.  His work or get nothing ethic deterred many crew, resulting in near mutiny during time of scarce sources.  Ultimately, his health quickly deteriorated from rampant fever that ravaged the settlement during a harsh winter.  He’s remembered fondly as the “hero that Dawnsveil deserved” with a statue erected outside of the previously unnamed fort, reclaimed in his memory.
The Witches of Dawnsveil.  An unwelcoming land made for a demoralized populace.  The wise women who came along to this new world in secret met in secret, creating plans to help bolster morale and bring prosperity to the lands.  However, their craft of “magick” was taboo.  Despite their best efforts, brutal winters, the dwindling attack forces of the Pale Gliders and sickness ravaged the witches as it did the townsfolk.  As paranoia and blame began to wash over the settlements, word of the witches arrived not long after Brandson’s death.  Governor Aaron Orvird gave the order to seek out and put these witches on trial.  Many still worked in secrecy, hoping that their good deals will be discovered.  Their numbered dwindled down to a small group that worked well outside of civilization; four expert potion brewers and apothecaries.  Their connection to spiritual healing abilities ultimately tipped off priests accompanying witch-hunters in the area.
The Pale Glider Burial Ground.  One of the last remnants of a tribe wiped out by the Dawnsveil Colonists.  The grounds are heavily cursed, to the point that those who wander too far into the uneven and “lumpy” ground have literally vanished out of existence.  In actuality, the resentful hatred that resides in the grounds combined with the Mists power gives the land the ability to whisk intruders off to another domain at random.  While the Pale Glider tribe is eradicated from the area, their curse has become well known to the region.
Pale Chief Cracking Branch.  Once the chief of the tribe, now an ominous spectre.  Unlike other ghostly tribesmen, he has the same ability as the burial ground.  While he’s incapable of murder in his form, he can displace a villager to another realm once every new moon, when the sky is darkest at night.  Like with the burial ground, none have confirmed that displaced villagers live, so they assume curse victims are very much dead.  The chief often patrols areas in between the eastern border of the domain and the burial grounds.
Outpost Nephi.  A ranger’s outpost originally for surveying activity of the tribe, as well as ensuring safe trade routes to other colonies.  Many of the soldiers and mercenaries not interested in securing the bayside villages joined efforts to expand inland.  Contact with the outpost has become more and more sparse since the land was taken into Ravenloft.  Some dark forces have made the rangers extremely paranoid and reclusive.  But, unlike Governor Orvird, their fears are more than rational.  Strange mutations of wilderness have attempted to attack the stronghold, while equally bizarre visions have haunted the occupants for the past couple of years.  Many of the rangers have either quit their post or have gone insane.  Many of the deserters, already mad, have become highwaymen and bandits.
First Town.  An attempt at making an initial village inland.  Attacks from the natives became too severe and much of the populace was wiped out from being unable to hold the line or defend themselves.  The village still lays in ruin, locals fear that it’s haunted.  In truth, their fears are correct.
Mercy’s Watch.  The de facto head of the colony.  The governor’s palace sits just outside of town.  But, the large and imposing building faces in a commanding and imposing manner.  It is here where major decisions are made within both the government and the church.  The latter has been trying to keep the outside influence of the Morninglord at bay.
Springsthaw.  A agriculture and trade center of the colony, along the main caravan road that would have lead to other regions.  Since it has been cut off, the locals have become more insular, afraid of sharing their crops with the other villages, especially in light of the witch’s wrath.
Trinity’s Passing.  A village that splintered from the original several years before the domain was formed.  Following the witch hunts, the town’s purpose was as the law enforcement branch of the colony.  Trials and executions are held here.
Path to Nowhere.  A roadway extending beyond the ranger outpost.  An otherwise calm and uneventful passage mysteriously cuts off, leading into just raw mists.  To worsen matters, before this happens, the trail is always halted by piles of slaughtered corpses, always seemingly fresh.


  • Corpse Weed.  A sickly bog plant, similar to a skunk cabbage.  However, when it opens, the plant-life inside resembles a humanoid carcass, with an equivalent stench.  Even more disturbing, the corpse-like plant matter operates like a humanoid body would.  Worse yet, the creature has some capacity for thought.  In some cases, the plant will use the zombie-like form as bait to lure victims.
  • Murder Violet.  This beautiful flower always looks like it is preparing to bloom.  In reality, it is imbued with the same power that flows through the dark witch.  When the witch draws near, the flowers fully blossom into a truly gorgeous violet with glistening petals.  However, upon doing so, it unleashes paralyzing spores that cling onto the victim.  The spores act as a beacon for the witch as well, who can magically sense them, to make it easier to claim her next victim.
  • Mountain Lion.
  • Wolf.
  • Black Bear.
Native Horrors.
  • Flying Head.  A massive humanoid head with wings and clawed feet.  It takes a particularly sadistic joy in torturing victims with its vile shriek before swooping down and grabbing its next meal.  The fall of the Pale Gliders likely awakened the flying head, or possibly pulled it into this world.
  • Snallygaster.  A horrific bird-like dragon creature.  The creature loves to hunt for blood, especially from estranged or weary travelers who are happen to be alone on particularly still and dim nights.  It lives deep within the woods, perhaps by the witch’s hiding cave.
  • Werewolves.  The very nature around Dawnsveil conspires against it, following the blood it has shed in the name of ideology.  This is no more apparent than the lycanthropes that have made the domain their home.  Many have even taken up space within the various villages, infiltrating for as long as their inner-beast will let them, in hopes of undermining or feasting upon the residents.
  • Wendigo.  Foul creatures mutated by a dark curse and the taboo act of cannibalism.  They seem to travel with the winter wind itself, howling and screeching as it travels across the chilling lands.  These creatures are warped and ghoulish mockeries of their original selves.  Their features are distorted, contorted and mutilated to fit their new hunting ways.  More than anything, they crave the flesh of humanoids, especially human.  More isolated hilly regions see populations of them.  Fortunately, most of the ones created before the domain have been vanquished, but plenty still prowl the darkest and coldest nights.  In fact, the Mists have made them far stronger.
  • Zombies.  Summoned undead, created by witchcraft.  These obedient undead servants wander the lands, whether in search for more minions to recruit or enact retribution on behalf of the witch.
  • Marie Eschcatiel, The Dark Witch of Dawnsveil.  Whether a phantom sent by the remaining witches to get revenge or Marie herself, this foul being shambles and slinks with vengeful purpose.  As if prepared for a dark sabbath, the humanoid is coated in a reflective purple substance, which acts as her skin.  The creature is almost never clad in clothing, as if she wants to show off her toxic looking form.  The monstrosity’s head sways and swings, unleashing disgusting cracks and snaps of a broken neck.  Those who get within the witch’s grasp are overwhelmed by poisonous vapors and intoxicating oils oozing from her fingertips.  Almost the most fortuitous of witch-hunters have survived encounters with the dark witch.  Despite their mission to eradicated fell sorceries and witchcraft, they even fear her.


Weather. Warmer temperate, prone to storms
Terrain. Mixture of hills on the left of the domain, with otherwise flat and forested marshland.  Dense forest on the right side begins to fade into rocky and clay filled ground by the coasts.
  • Hills.  Lightly sloping hills with some level of greenery.  Villagers have shied away from the area after an encounter with abnormal and malformed mountain cats.  However, torward the bottom of the hill lies the infamous gallows that overlook much of the territory.  Also, during the purge, the bodies of the witches were burned upon a massive pyre toward the top of the hill.  Some report the towering flame pillar still burning to this day.  On the eastern side of the domain lies much smaller hills, including a series of cave tunnels.  Brave souls proclaim “the dark witch” dwells here.
  • Forests.  The dead center of the forested area was once the grounds of the Pale Gliders people, a tribe that became increasingly more hostile toward the colonists over time.  Even after they were wiped from the region, their presence is still felt.  The Dawnsveil Woods that exist closer to civilization are no less sinister.  The wildlife in more recent time looks more hostile, corrupted by ancient spirits of the land.  Large bears and wolves have sometimes emerged from the edge to terrorize whichever resident gets too close to the forest.
  • Lakes.  Lake Dawnsveil was a popular place for the more trade driven branch of the colony to fish, however the coastal settlements used the place for leisure.  Following the jump into the demiplane of dread, the lake become overwhelmed with algae seemingly out of nowhere.  Little life remains in the lake itself, even the river has become corrupted.  The witch herself has been spotted in the center of the murky water, hovering just inches above the green muck.


  • Ships.  While once a docking point between establishing colonies, travel and trade by ship has been cut off, except for when the pocket domain is sent to coastal or ocean locked regions of the mists.  As such, any naval vessel is mostly used for fishing in recent years.
  • Agriculture.  Despite being cut off from trade with other colonies and usually other domains, the more agrarian parts of the colony are a major source of food and resources among the other villagers.
  • Crops.  Squash, corn, tobacco and beans are primary crops.  Chickens, cows and pigs are also primary livestock raised in such areas.
  • Manufacturing.  Furnishings and weapons are a specialty of the colony, particularly in a unique form of flintlock pistols and muskets.  The guns are very much prototypes, but they seem more efficient and less prone to breakage than their predecessors.
  • Trade.  Mostly kept within the territory.  The total decrease in traffic has almost crashed much of the merchant market, leaving them savor any moment when the Mists wedge Dawnsveil in between other domains.  While this usually spells trouble, the merchants often sneak between conflict to buy and sell goods, much to Orvird’s disapproval.

Timeline.  (Including possible future events for the domain)

  • 721 BC. The Dawnsveil Colony was founded by a mixture of puritanical missionaries and tradesmen hoping to expand enterprise for homeland.  The native populace found the settlers suspicious, but did little.  Attempts to reach out from both caused bitterness and growing resentment.  Dawnsveil Fort is erected, in its then simple shape.
  • 722 BC.  To keep them safe, Governor Orvird keeps his wife and son, Jennifer and Andrew, within the fort at all times.
  • 725 BC.  Active hunts and trespassing on native lands raises signals of suspicion.  They deploy spies to survey the new settlers, attacking upon being caught.
  • 726 BC.  Admiral Brandson leads an attack against more and more bands of native warriors, utilizing the marshy terrain beyond the fort, to their advantage.  Ultimately, the clashes resulted in stalemate.  The colonists were still too unfamiliar with the land.
  • 732 BC.  After countless feuds, Brandson tries to broker a peace deal, with Orvird (then a diplomat) by his side.  Orvird tries to make the deal as beneficial to the colony as possible, but Brandson offers other approaches.  Ultimately, this results in a peace offering marriage between the chief’s daughter and Brandson.
  • 733 BC.  Disapproval for Brandson’s harsh work ethic (put in the work or go hungry) or practice of foreign religion made him unpopular in the settlement.  Marrying a native woman increased resentment heavily.  Andrew Orvird, the governor’s son, injures himself from being worked too hard.  This earns quiet animosity from Aaron Orvird.
  • 736 BC.  One of the workers in the settlement tries to assassinate Brandson in his sleep.  Orvird, who wanted to wake Brandson over his concerns about mutiny finds the traitor and kills him on the spot.  Brandson scolds him, as he could have survived the knife-wielding assassin.  He planned to question to see if others held such low morale.
  • 737 BC.  During an anniversary dinner prepared for Brandson and his wife, Chef Darrel Bostwick (brought in on Orvird’s own ship, in on the conspiracy against him, poisons the food.  Brandson becomes ill and leaves the colony for a couple of years, returning three years later.  However, his wife, the daughter of the Gliders chief, dies.  This sours any attempt at peaceful relations with the tribe.  In fury, Orvird makes an example out of the Darrel.  He orders the physician to cut the chef open and cause his entrails to slowly fall out while the man is hogtailed against a suspended log.  This brutal display sickens his associates.  But, he declares it as needed revenge and a showcase of just deserts for traitors.  News of this gets back to Brandson as he sails to Grandglen, who is deeply disgusted and revolted by the actions of his “friend”.
  • 738 BC.  Native attacks commence once more, but rarely.  Attempts to expand the settlement get no where in light of the violence.  Plans are pushed back for several more years.  However, some houses are erected outside of the fort.  This experiment is not too successful, as villagers are afraid from the lack of the fort’s security.
  • 740 BC.   A grueling winter costs countless supplies, despite Admiral Brandson trying to keep up morale.  Governor Orvird tries to divert attention to him, as he uses his own political strategies to improve the situation.  His calls for rationing and gathering supplies in hostile territory aren’t very popular, until he uses the mercenaries to threaten his decision.  Ultimately, through intimidation, Orvird’s plans succeed, to Brandson’s dismay.
  • 740 BC.  Various villagers who gave up on trying to sustain themselves on minimal supplies turn to cannibalism.  Many of the villagers who did so left the area abruptly, not to be seen again.  Those who stayed behind were discovered, captured and executed.
  • 740 BC.  A potent fever spreads among the villages, claiming many lives.  Governor Orvird’s physician, Jeremiah Harriman, does all he can to save Jennifer and Andrew; the wife and son of the Governor.  Upon their death, Orvird flips into an emotional state and banishes Harriman into the wilderness.  Towards the end of winter, his frozen corpse is discovered by hunters, lightly crunched upon.
  • 742 BC.  First Town is built over a sacred clearing.  The natives warn the settlers to leave within a few months or they fight.  The settlers expand towards the bay, as the natives attack.
  • 743 BC.  First Town, the initial colony site, is sacked by warbands after constant threat of getting the colonists to leave.  Retaliation results in two colony rangers to sneak in and kill the chief’s family.  The expectation for them to ease up backfires, as Brandson blames Orvird for a terrible plan.  The situation continues to escalate.
  • 744 BC.  Conflict with the local native people reaches breaking point.  All out war sparks against the Pale Glider natives and the Dawnsveil colonists.  Orvird and Brandson finally unite on an issue, however Orvird wants to be rid of all of them.
  • 746 BC.  With the vanquishing and banishing of the Pale Glider people, more land and resources have become available.  However, an ominous curse is given by their dying leader.  The church denounces it as scare tactics of a false prophet.
  • 747 BC.  A coven of witches hear of the suffering of a recently established colony, being settlers themselves.  They secretly set up a small village of their own, using their abilities to help Dawnsveil from afar.
  • 749 BC.  Orvird hears rumors of a strange group curing and aiding his people without his say so.  This enrages him, causing him to speak at length with the clergy of the colony for counsel.  They advice removal of the witches at once, lest the power of the church, and later the state, be affected.
  • 750 BC.  Orvird encourages various merchants and rangers to harrass and push the strange women and men out of the area by any means possible.  Conflicts turn violent, requiring “investigation” into the feuds on the outskirts of the colony.  While murder of the colonial merchants and rangers is handled with utmost care; any murder of the coven is brushed aside.  This pushed the outsider group to be more insular, but still aided in secret.  Many villagers became more discreet about receiving their aid.
  • 751 BC.  An era of prosperity for the growing colony is cut short as a summer heatwave makes way for a plague of fever and other diseases carried by local bog insects.  Late in the year, Admiral Brandson catches the ailments circling the villages.  While he fights off the sickness valiantly, he succumbs to it.  Despite Orvird’s rivalry with Brandson, he succumbs to a depression while doubling down on his hatred of the witches.
  • 752 BC.  Over the next couple of years, witches or anyone declared one is hunted down and executed for both high heresy and bringing plague upon the land.  Trade along the caravan route is “temporarily suspended” until their “investigation” is concluded.  Angry mobs alongside church-sanctioned witch-hunters pursue majority of the coven as well as their allies.  Villagers who conspired with the witches are executed as traitors to the state.  Four witches, one man and three women, are ultimately left in the end.
  • 754 BC.  In an act of desperation, the remaining witches call for aid to save them.  Instead of actual help, their magical signal for help is picked up by the cannibal villagers for years ago.  However, their isolation and foul deed made them into something wicked, wendigo.  The ghoulish creatures attacked Trinity’s Passing.  The massacre takes out around half of the town, before the wendigo are repelled by sheer luck and the planning of the church.  Fortunately, the monsters were weakened from a lack of prey to feast upon for so long.
  • 755 BC.  Three of the four remainder are executed over the course of a week.  The last witch to face execution, Marie Eschcatiel, pleads to investigate the circumstances of her arrest.  The witch is humored, as execution is “delayed” for now.  Militiamen who have grown uncomfortable with Orvird take up the cause in secret.  They discover a merchant cabal in league with Orvird trying to cut out the witches.  The group of apothecaries, physicians and more seek to sway the public back to their methods while condemning rival ones.  The militiamen are confronted with guards as they try to interrupt an earlier-than-scheduled execution.
  • 755 BC. Upon witnessing the last hung witch attempt an incantation, Orvird takes poison and a dagger from one of the witch hunters, dips the dagger it in and impales the last witch in the heart.  The townsfolk are mortified by the act.  He defends it as stopping a deadly spell from being cast upon everyone.  In actuality, this caused thick fog to emerge around the border of the territory.  Over several hours, the mists crept throughout the area.
  • 755 BC. Dawnsveil is formed as a pocket domain, occasionally moved around by the Dark Powers to torment the Darklord.
  • 756 BC. An attempted insurrection at the hands of former militiamen destabilizes the village of Mercy’s Watch, killing several of Orvird’s few trusted men.  Eventually, the rebels are captured and executed in the Hanging Yard.  However, it takes the rebels roughly 1 hour to finally die.  Their bodies are burned upon the pyre atop the hill.
  • 758 BC. The leader of Outpost Nephi, an influential ranger by the name of Bartholomew, disappears after his band investigates the fetid waters that were once Lake Dawnsveil.  They came across a warband of former Pale Glider natives.  Their chief emerges from the ghostly group and charges Bartholomew, causing him to disappear.  The remaining rangers break morale and flea the scene, not knowing how to combat the phantoms.  Few leave the outpost following that, unaware that trade roads have been entirely cut off anyway.
  • 760 BC. A culmination of bodies from slain wandering villagers has given the Dark Witch all she needs to erect an army of the undead.  Panic arises as zombies march into their former villages in attempt to end the corrupt regime.  Orvird is killed in the mess, causing the Mists to intervene.  The next day, everything is back to normal.  However, the witch and Orvird are both aware of what happened.  Confusion arises between the both of them.  The cemetery grounds within the settlements are consecrated by the church.
  • 761 BC.  A group of adventurers emerge into the domain after leaving Tepest.  The familiar inquisition theme proves unsettling.  After days in custody, they agree to be escorted by witch-hunters to “bring peace” to the witch.  They fail.  Soon after, more forces from Tepest arrive, followed by evil fey pursuing them.  While not allies, the witch bolsters the shadow fey through her own dark sorceries.  Forces working for the outpost realize that the domain itself has been lifted and placed near other realms, as the cut off trade road now connects!  Numerous villagers escape and accidentally run into the burial grounds or the chief, as they’re whisked away to other domains are random.  Orvird is eventually killed again, causing a reset of the domain, save for the villagers who were lost.  The domain is lifted from its temporary stop by Tepest and returns to its pocket.  However, any Tepest inquisitors that elect to stay become trapped in the domain.  They urge the church of the Guiding Dawn to radicalize further.
  • 763 BC.  Orvird goes on a personal crusade to destroy as much of the eastern portion of the domain as possible.  Alongside his own forces and the inquisitors, black forests and fetid swamps are torn asunder, luring the witch out.  As Orvird is about to kill the witch, an inquisitor lashes out against the witch, beheading her with a blade.  Orvird, furious over his stolen kill, demands that the inquisitors leave the next day.  Forced beyond the pocket border, the inquisitors are lost to the mist.  Dawnsveil leaves the grasp of Tepest before the following morning.
  • 764 BC.  The various orders of the church bicker among themselves over who should take a greater leadership role to enhance their presence.  Various infiltrators from the merchants groups try to suggest more influence from Orvird himself, if only as an act of sabotage, in hopes to build up lost trade presence in the colony.  Attempts to engage Orvird fail as the planted spies are ousted for their bad plans.  However, the clergy is unaware of their real intent.  They’re found hanging from the nooses of the hanging yard the next morning.  The church claims no responsibility for this.
  • 765 BC. The current year in the Dawnsveil campaign.
  • 766 BC.  The domain shifts once more, this time encountering a rogue band of former Gundarakite mercenaries.  The mercs proceed in assaulting the nearby towns, in hopes that the Mists will bring back their dear leader.  In a combined effort of the rangers, holy soldiers of the church, militias and trading company security; the gundarak forces are extinguished.  However, the banded forces discover that another jump has occured.  This time, the former domain of Gundarak.  Invidian and Barovian forces march in from both sides to investigate.  Orvird requests surrender from his sides, but the Dark Witch foils this by charming much of the banded warriors to fight against both provoked sides.  The Dark Witch joins the conflict too, particularly spurring Strahd onward.  Upon discovering Tatyanna, she takes the form of her, to further confuse and lure as much of Strahd’s forces as possible.  Ultimately, the witch is slain by Invidian Vistani-hunters before she got too much from Aderre’s rival, Count Von Zarovich.  However, as the domain was returned and the Vistani-hunters were pushed further towards Barovia, the witch awakened with her stolen ability to creating Strahd Zombies.  The undead servants she created to guard her lair are further strengthened.
  • 767 BC.  Orvird hasn’t been seen by the public for months.  He has completely isolated himself from the rest of the town, sometimes seeing the few in his personal circle.  He appoints Garrick Phillips as the new head of the militia, one of the few personnel to stop inside Orvird’s manor and speak with him.  He acts as Orvird’s mouthpiece and proxy, relaying and carrying out harsh edicts and rulings.
  • 771 BC.  In a rare act of courage, the militias act against a group of adventurers seeking to depose Orvird.  The defense of the governor’s men seems unnatural, as if the darklord himself is finally trying to impose his will upon them to act.  The outsiders are eventually disposed of and burned upon the hilltop pyre.  However, the settlement defenders are well aware that they were used and resent it greatly.
  • 775 BC.  Hunters from Lamordia find themselves in Dawnsveil after tracking deer and are shocked to stumble upon Outpost Nephi, quite damaged from another assault by the witch.  The rangers of the outpost, mortified to learn that a jump happened again, start a skirmish with the hunting troupe.  Word of this gets to authorities of Lundendorf, who send investigative forces.  Meanwhile, word gets to numerous villages.  The merchant cabals excitedly sneak out amidst the commotion to do trade with their unintended neighbor.  Monster hunters are particularly interested in the firearms and locals enjoy the folk arts and craft of Dawnsveil (particularly Springsthaw), as the tradesmen sample various crafts of the land.  Upon return to Dawnsveil, they witness an arrest warrant for numerous rangers carried out.  On top of that, many merchants are caught by similar guards and militiamen upon return for illicit trade without permission of the governing authorities.  Lamordian goods are seized as contraband and the merchants are arrested, kept in Trinity’s Passing’s prisons for months.
  • 776 BC.  Relations with Lamordia quickly sour, as they find Dawnsveil to be overly zealous, bigoted and hyper insular.  Likewise, Dawnsveilites find Lamordians pretentious, stuck up and oblivious to the blasphemies of their mad science.  Matters are made worse as dread flesh golems and the witch’s zombies cross borders and cause mayhem.  After breaking past the outpost, the golems are held off by the more trained farmers of Springsthaw before a proper regiment comes in to finish them off.  In a change of character, Orvird emerges to promote a peace offering with Lamordia, but not before the domain returns to being an isolated pocket.  The Darklord returns to his own isolation within the manor.

Darklord Aaron Orvird.

The domain of Dawnsveil reflects the paranoia and fearmongering that Orvird has relied on in the material.  Despite his attempts to gather people to his causes, the public has become too frightened and devoid of trust to even listen to his claims.  The new head of the militia has been his loophole around this.  Despite seeing him as a failure of a leader, even Dawnsveil’s militias have become too craven to try to overthrow him.  To make matters worse, a violet phantom resembling the witch he killed with the purple poison tipped dagger sometimes assaults the various villages, with few able to successfully repel her.  Even if the dark witch is slain, she’ll only return later.
Furthermore, his punishment has made his voice shaky and lacking in conviction.  His face is no longer a chiseled emblem of powerful masculinity.  Now, he looks worn and weary, as his hair fully grey.  His eyes are constantly sunken and bloodshot, as if he lacks proper sleep.  He clutches nervously to either the holy symbol necklace he often wears or the jacket of his regal governor’s garb, as if to literally cling onto any power that he has left.  This quirk has been pointed out, much to his over reactive anger.
Being anchored to the land, he is spared the curse of the pale chief.  However, more of his population is thrown to other domains, forcing him to recruit outside help, despite his feelings of deep suspicion and anxiety towards outsiders.  Despite requiring outsiders to replenish lost population, he will continue to never fully accept such matters.
Should anyone try to leave the domain without his say so, he may raise a veil of glowing white light.  The light itself is heavily poisonous, as lethal as the substance that might have killed Marie years before.  In addition to being poisonous, the veil is horribly blinding to anything that gazes upon it, save for natives to the land.  However, natives can succumb to the poison, a “holy” radiation of sorts.

Involving the Players.

Upon arrival to the plane, the players will be held in contempt and suspicion, especially spellcasters.  While non-magic user characters (including divine characters not aligned with their religion… or related religion) may have a hard time gaining favor in the domain, mundane characters will have a slightly less challenging time.  However, locals themselves trust almost no one.  One of the only ways to win them over is to help fight minions of the witch.  However, taking too much attention away from Orvird will make him jealous and equally nervous.  He’ll either engage the PCs to join his side or find a way to destroy them.  Should the PCs take arms against him, he’ll use his power to manipulate all soldiers in the realm to his aid.  Should take decide to join him, he’ll come across as a mild mannered if not extremely stressed out governor.  At first, the players might suspect the Witch, Marie Eschcatiel, of being the darklord.  However, DMs are encouraged to play up the derangement of Dawnsveil’s leader.  More than likely, they’ll be escorted with priests of the church, militiamen and other trained soldiers to help hunt down the witch.  However, Orvird will likely join the party.  He’s convinced that if he deals the killing blow, he’ll be free of his domain prison and normalcy will return.  He is, of course, wrong.  Should he learn this and later the truth, his mania will further act up as he’ll switch gears to trapping the witch and keeping her out of the way, to the chagrin of his people.  In the end, he does put his people in danger in the name of his own anxious pursuits, so players would have to stop him if they also wanted to stop the witch.

Factions of Dawnsveil.

The Children of the Protectorate.  The descendants of the original founders, devoted to protection of the colony through any means. This is a secret society that has recruits from the colony militia, royal soldiers, town watch groups and guardsmen for the governor. Many of them have gradually become aware of their bleak situation in the mists, but fail to know the whole truth. None the less, they’ll do anything to keep the residents safe, even if their leader ranges from incompetent to outright malicious.
The Church of the Guiding Dawn.  A religious development from the old world, corrupted by the mists of ravenloft. The mists have exploited their narrow views and fearful mentality to its fullest. However, they are still one of the few forces in the area that are actually adept at fighting the darkness. Plus, with their collaboration with the Morninglord, they’ve become less extreme. The more extreme branched out and sided with the remnents of the Belenus church in the domain when Tepest inquisitors influenced the region for a short time. The two splinter groups are gradually seeing less in common, but keep the peace to avoid direct conflict.
Cultists of the Dark Witch.  The discontent with the governor has only increased over the years.  Many have come to see Marie as a tragic figure, cut down by a paranoid egomanic.  To her secret servitors, she’s a revenant exacting justice on an old crime.  Many were survivors of the witch hunt that claimed allies of the witches as well.  Many masquerade their allegiance in secret, somehow under the darklord’s own thumb, perhaps it’s the mists or the witch interfering!

Possible Future Events.

In time, the witch and Orvird may discover that they are intrinsically linked.  Only by both dying in the same day can the domain be met with peace.  However, both of them want to out survive the other.
Should an adventurer figure this out and vanquish both, the domain will collapse over an empty plot of land, likely connected to the Core or another Cluster.  Barring that, the domain will be released from the mists.  If it goes back to its original land is anyone’s guess, if it was truly the land itself taken away.
IMAGE SOURCE: Colonial Tombstones of New England – Unpopradical (on Tumblr), Dawnsveil map – Myself
Ravenloft is property of TSR/Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro Inc.  Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic media.  All rights reserved.

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