The prophecy foretold! A Grand Conjuncture was only the beginning, the mad priests speak of the true sundering! But, these visions of realms are just vague and inconclusive. Only the lost Dukkar can reveal more, but Hyskosa is or will at some point be gone… supposedly. I heed you to listen to this prophecy before going forward. To have an audience of the Vistani, let alone hear the words of one such as I, is an honor you should not soon forget. You take interest in the fates, let me tell you more.
First stance: The Forsaken Legion shall make their stand against The Darkest Son and The Original Tragedy, as The Wizard laments his Failed Doorway.
Second stance: The striking down of maidens shall break the dark messiah from a witch, so he may glorify a new King. The King shall enact true change.
Third stance: He who Knits Life and He who is Scorned shall face each other’s fears, a new sin arises from love and another sin is invented.
Fourth stance: Nightmares will take flesh, courts will merge with the horrors of the mind. Those who can’t fight it will be devoured.
Fifth stance: The Warlord will claim great victory, only for holy light to thwart him when it is too late. A guiding angel will emerge for revolution.
Six stance: The Witch Daughter shall unravel the war plan, spiraling campaigns of death into a grim peace. But, the Darkest Son shall gain new family.
Seventh stance: Only The Original Tragedy will endure and face a final test, after a father’s sins are resolved.
Know this, Giorgio, you gain a privilege granted to no others of your kind. Heed the warnings and prepare loved ones around you… End Times are upon us, perhaps even the Vistani.
Author’s Note: Nukes, All Out War, Skaven, The-Flood-meets-the-Eldrazi, Holy Vengeance, the Bride of Frankenstein and the Army of the Damned! Here’s my take on an end all be all for The Mists. Of course, none of it is said in stone and prophecy can be subverted… like with the Grand Conjunction. Should you wish to make adventures out of the Time of Unparalleled Darkness, sample my ideas all you like. After all, I can’t call mine wholly original. Once again, major thanks to the Kargatane and Fraternity of Shadows for being an excellent font of inspiration. Also, I remembered recently that the subject of “Dukkar” shouldn’t be brought up to “Giorgio”. Though, thanks to the Grand Conjunction, the term might be more widely known.
New Domains in the Mists
“I live…. again!” – Evil Ash (Army of Darkness)
Cultural Level: Medieval (7) through Renaissance (9)
Darklord: Duke Nharov Gundar. The Time of Unparalleled Darkness has begun, in part thanks to the vampire lord. Its worst effects wouldn’t be felt for nearly two decades later though. After ages of confused wandering, knowledge and purpose returned to him, in 756 BC. His appearance changed after his accidental revival. All traces of hair were gone, his frame looked hunched and gaunt. However, his strength returned stronger than ever. He knew that Gundarak must return. Over the years since his revival by the hand of Professor Arcanus’ folly, he has gathered forces of Gundarakites loyal to their old nation, converting them into the undead. After news of growing unrest in both the current territories of Invidia and Barovia, his plans were further mobilized into action. Using networks and proxies, he began to simultaneously sow intrigue between Malocchio and his mother by helping to stage attacks to insight further conflict. The ‘dukkar’ began his war path onto Castle Hunadura in 760 BC, to capture his mother once and for all. Outsider forces of the Falcon and the Hell Knight bolstered the ranks, as they poured in. Rebels aligned with Gabrielle Aderre were visited by their master with an ultimatum, “align with me instead or become mere flesh puppets.” His charms were stronger than the Witch of Invidia. Ardonk Szerieza, a romantic interest of Gabrielle, defected immediately and became a Nosferatu General soon after. The surprise battle royale took both Aderres by surprise, as undead hordes consumed the Invidian, Falkovnian and Feuer forces. News of this came later, as the army was divided by a surprise visit by Tribe Zharovan, who heard the horrors of Malocchio’s freedom. At the time, this was a rumor. This branch of the army was bolstered by another, The Gentleman Caller, the true father of the Dark Messiah. The wolfweres of Matton Blanchard’s alliance saw a losing battle. Lucita was taken into custody by Blanchard, as he vowed revenge against the Gundarakites once more, a treachery not seen since the pact between Dr. Heinfroth and Akriel Lukas. Forces loyal to Malocchio failed to get to Gabrielle first, who fell to Gundars’ unrelenting wrath. However, her fall came with a curse upon Gundar, to be the one to suffer the Mists’ infinitude. This victory wasn’t enough, as the Invidians were pushed back. Gabrielle did not perish, but was weakened after Gundar’s dark conquest and confined to the prisons below. The Mists, feeling she is no longer worthy of being their toy, released her. However, she was Gundar’s prisoner. The Rebels, back into his control, were now immune to the witch’s tricks while under advisory of their overlord. Malocchio swore revenge, driven by his plans for dark freedom. The Powers let Gundar take Invidia, for now. Not enough to satisfy the crazed vampire on the warpath, he immediately charged into a shocked Barovia, following the Zharovan’s retreating. Anyone not Gundarakite in descent was targeted and massacred, taking Strahd by surprise. The brazen attack made sense to the count, as his competitor’s visage showed himself in a vision. As the Barovian forces met on the battlefield, they saw the Gundarakites weren’t alone. Darkonese wizards and legions of misty creatures pushed the forces back towards pre-Conjunction borders, when the Mists intervened. As the mad duke prepared for final victory, he knew what came next, as months of campaigning lead to him being Darklord once more. His final damnation, this time, was pushing forces beyond combat lines and into Vallaki. The subsequent ordered slaughter of hundreds of innocents ultimately drew attention of the Powers. Nharov Gundar didn’t care, as he was set on revenge for the Teufeldorf Massacre. Within his old castle, he soon became tormented by visions of the prophecy. And worse, his traitor of an assistant was still out there… Probably planning to foil him again.
Much as before, life within the duchy is terrible. Harsh sanctions leave citizens near point of destitution and starvation, with women being treated as lesser citizens. Tables have turned for the ethnicities now within Gundarak’s clutches. Both Barovians and Invidians who haven’t fled have become severely oppressed and attacked, suffering grueling taxation and ethnic profiling. Gundar’s bolstered legions enforce their suffering with unremitting force. To him, this is righteous punishment for pillaging his lands when he faltered. Taxation remains just as excessive as before. However, instead of merely filling the coffers of Gundar’s court, he claims to have put it to good use. Likewise, a return to mistreatment of girls born within Gundarakite borders has occurred. To combat resistance of this resurfacing, a propaganda program known as the “Maidens of Irlen” has been created, in which majority of the women are to enroll and be educated on proper citizenship by Gundar’s standards. Zeidenburg, assimilated into their old lands, particularly struggles with this. Those who don’t hide in seedy establishments like the Bloated Leech Inn, a glorified drug den, find themselves in other seedy places to evade the cruel policies of the maniacal duke. Many of these policies are backwards and refer to strict subservience, from the context of the corrupt church. Exceptions do exist, but they are never eligible for high positions in Gundar’s revived society. Some have managed to claim their stake within Gundarakite military efforts, but they remain soldiers at best. The uneasy calm has allowed the economics of the region to expand. While Falkovnia has cornered the market on mercenary and military training work, Gundarak has proven to have more than capable forces to aid in whatever cause sates their master’s blood thirst. Likewise, rather peculiar fruits and vegetables have flourished under the new harvest seasons. Many of these crops produce a reddish tint to them, as if they too fed off of blood. None the less, their rich taste has made them an appealing trade good to neighboring Barovia and Invidia (despite extreme conflict) as well as other nations. While the Duke is unlikely to retreat from his grounds, his higher ups have been seen at a rather macabre setting called “The Hangman’s Watch Post”, a tavern that caters to warriors under the duke’s grasp. It can be found in a village called Nharovogul, which is found in between Castle Hunadora and Zeidenburg. The namesake of the grim inn comes from executed corpses paraded along streets, before stuck outside of the tavern as a grim decoration. Other duties involve the revitalization of The Twisting Tower, a relic of the Gundar family that was coveted back from Barovia. Now it is used as a watch post and military training ground. The institution was smeared with leftover blood of Barovians upon final victory. The Ducal Forest that surrounds much of the land has likewise seen use by the forces of the duke. Under Invidia, it was a haven of reprobates, scoundrels and bandits… as well as Gundarakite Rebels. After returning to its original home, it has become a well patrolled area filled with corrupted rangers, raiders bribed into his service and lurking lairs of unholy monstrosities under his command. For a man who has only seen war recently, he has become far more obsessed with militarization than Count Strahd von Zarovich. This hasn’t gone unnoticed, as Barovia has increased security and patrols. Even the Garda that keep Vallaki safe are on high alert. An enemy of Count Strahd, within Teufeldorf, has recently helped indirectly aid the duke in his efforts to stop his vampiric rival. This is none other than Inajira, a fiend who is somewhat dismayed to be taken from Barovia, but is relieved to have safe cover under a mutual enemy of The Land. In fact, the Slaughter of Vallaki was partially by the insider information of said fiend. Some rebellion still exists under supression. One Gundarakite, Haraszti Orsolya, seeks to liberate the lands from the tyrant. Furthermore, she seeks to bring aid to Invidians and Barovians while fighting the rampant hatred of both.
Renewed trade allowed for some interest in Dementlieu of all places. Harok the Blighted Eyes is an expatriate from Dementlieu who found something eerily refreshing in Gundar’s revival. His obsession borders on madness, coupled with his talents in hypnosis and interrogation. He has been tasked with leading a force to seek out and wipe out anything tied to Dr. Heinfroth, alias Dominioni. This campaign has lead to wrong turns in Mordent and Lamordia, sparking conflict and international turmoil. From his spoils, he has enslaved some of the brighter minds of the regions. He’s become all the more happy with the innovations they brought with them. Gundarakite soldiers are outfitted with enhanced armory and firearms, as well as new types of explosives. But, these stressed inventors are toiled endlessly for their creations, many in experiments as cruel as Dominioni, are turned into Cerebral Vampires. Many are kept in a refurbished dungeon of Castle Hunadora. They’re even less happy in the revived Church of Erlin, a distortion of a dark entity from Gundar’s home world. However, a new religious prophecy has cycled from the Ezraites, the end of the Mists. The Church of Erlin has informed their ruler of the coming of the end. As such, he has instructed them to help accelerate this by any means. This has lead to a horrible realization, the necessity of Malocchio as well as the Wizard King Azalin Rex. While stoking the flames, he aspires to betray them in good time. But, his past of being petty and fickle is known. For that reason, his “allies” keep close watch on him and his forces. While there is a ceasefire for now, he plans for further war. While he is brash and overly aggressive, he is aware that more war hovers over the horizon. Thanks to new assets and the power of a former Darklord, he feels rather confident in his abilities. As for Gabrielle herself, she refuses to work with him, lest he provide proper incentive or bribe her with something relevant to her. Recently, news of Falkovnian legions interested her greatly. Drakov. The tyrannical warlord was invited to Gundarak amidst the uneasy truce, where he met with another one of his illegitimate children. Gundar knew that this would lead to anguish, doing so to torture the Giomorgio more than anything. Unknown to Drakov, Gundarakite forces have extorted nearby Borca for protection against assailants and armed invaders at a steep price. Often, response to Falkovnians was shoddy and far from quick to react. And often, the Gundarakite soldiers would only help to distract any allied armies into campaigns against other mutual enemies within the regions. In reference to enemies, the Vistani are typically disliked within this domain. However, Tribe Kamii has gained the most acceptance for their incredible craft. Other tribes, especially other tasques, have found far less acceptance
“I want to play a game” – Jigsaw Killer (Saw)
Cultural Level: Medieval (7)
Darklord: The Midnight Slasher. Her sordid history is already known, a child of previous Darklord victims who was driven mad by injustice in the world. In the end, her story was meant to conclude at the carnival within Karina. Following her defeat at the hands of adventurers, her soul vowed eternal revenge. More than anything, she wanted to claim the life of Gabrielle Aderre for herself. After the invasion of Invidia, at the hands of Nharov Gundar’s forces, the slasher awakened once again, enacting guerilla warfare against the soldiers. She saw the land as vile, needing a harsh moral guardian now more than ever. Confused and caught off-guard, the legions took to attacking Invidia while oblivious of their assailant. In time, militia bands turned against their occupiers while the Slasher resurfaced in full force. Active terror attacks laid waste to Karina, as toxic gases and explosives were unleashed in the city square, in 760 BC, some time after Gundar’s conquest. Gundar’s mortal forces were slain, while his undead were in shock. Many Invidians were also killed in the attack. Following this attempt to strike fear into the invaders and locals alike, the old Invidian territory was taken from Gundarak, with a new tormentor as Darklord. Now Gabrielle was free from being a Darklord, but was still confined to Castle Hunadora. In the end, her dreams of killing the Witch Queen are forever stunted by Gundar, unless he falls. But, few Invidians seek to assault Gundarak following the previous defeat. Plus, many are forced to align with the Duke, following his agreements with Drakov, Drachenblut and Aderre. And as for Gabrielle, should she be free, she has no desire to ever return to Invidia… At least her mad pursuer will never reach her, with the castle now in Gundarak. She worries of her son, but Gundar will never allow that… at least while she’s useful.
Invidia is gripped in absolute fear. Not only has their tyrannical but unifying leader let the land fall to ruin, but an infamous killer has returned to claim as much blood as possible. The Dark Messiah himself has prioritized his campaigns of war with Azalin and Vlad Drakov, while only protecting himself against the slasher. In the past, the killer was the ultimate twisting of vigilante justice. This has further reshaped into anyone that isn’t like her, let alone anyone who speaks out. However, there is something within her heart… even if any empathy is perverted in horrific ways. Her methods of execution go far beyond mere hacking and slicing at victims. With supernatural vigor, she has set up all sorts of traps and mazes for those she has captured. If they can redeem themselves in her eyes, they might live. But even then, her mad devices are still super deadly, so it’s also likely that they’ll just perish gruesomely. Deep down, she wants her victims to show themselves to be good and is hurt when they fail. By her curse, all victims given her insane tests are doomed to fail and die. This has happened enough times to force her to take up her old methods of murder. Once in a while, she breaks down and compulsively sets a trap for higher profile targets, to test them once again. A fear driven stagnation hangs heavily over the land, pushing people into various sides and groups for survival and eventual retaliation. Likewise, corrupt noble houses relish in the division and panic ensuing. While many have taken a step back, some send proxies to accelerate the fears in play. Anyone associated with the slasher is subject to paranoid mob law, often being executed in the streets. For the most part, common folk have fallen victim, with the rare noble court member sent to their doom by a rival house. Should she catch wind of this, it only means more immoral people to target next. This has lead to another matter entirely, a far grimmer one at that.
Loyalists to Malocchio have begun to butt heads with those desiring independence. The buffer of Falkovnian warriors and Feuer’s infernal knights evens the odds. However, the former sees Invidia as a lost cause, ready to conquer it at the right moment. Malocchio, more interested in greater concerns, has secretly given Drakov the means and aid to take the land. Doing so would shatter his own curse too. And by 774 BC, both have succeeded in finding their freedom. The civil war itself has been made worse by a malicious killer, the Midnight Stalker. She has no qualms with executing people on all sides, so long as they present themselves as morally corrupt in her mind. Try as they may, none of the fighting factions are capable of taking down the Midnight Slasher, leading all to believe that the first killer has spawned a sort of religious cult of copies. While not totally right, there have been many who find the slasher as a dark savior against the likes of Malocchio, occupying military forces and the like. Many have donned her garb as a form of macabre rebellion. Many of these copy killers have even staged acts of guerilla warfare against New Gundarak and even Barovia, blaming them for their current misfortunes as well. They’ve become rather fond of more murderous highway banditry too. Though, those who stay too long in Barovia find themselves snuffed out quickly. Stragglers tell tales of misty clouds, leaving mutilated corpses and trails of blood. For once, the locals are thankful for the “dark sorcery” of the Devil Strahd. In terms of Gundar, his brash methods to rid the serial killers have cost him more forces.
Night Terror (or “The Promised End”)
“I am a timeless chorus. Join your voice with mine, and sing victory everlasting.” – The Gravemind (Halo 3)
Cultural Level(s): All (Various between the “Domain”)
Darklord(s): The Waking Nightmare. The Shadow Rift was torn by the doom of Gwydion the Shadow Fiend, sent by a hit squad subtly puppeted by Azalin, in the year 773 of the Barovian Calendar. Gaining the final piece he needed, he demanded that the strange planar connection was destroyed. The ensuing rift made contact with another domain previously part of the core, The Nightmare Lands. In attempts to save the Arak, Loht contacted such entities for a mutual pact. This was actually an escape plan, rather than an allegiance. The Nightmare Court, aware of the trickery, wanted to see what punishment would befall the Shadow Fey. The terror of the Mist Gates failing caused shock waves and ripples, as the plan for the Court to devour the Rift failed and the two merged into a new land, filling the canyon void. Worse, Bleutspur sought to reunite with the Core amidst the chaos. For a moment, it jumped to pre-Grand Conjuncture position. But, quickly after that, the maelstrom of horrid energy dragged the caverns inside of it. To worsen matters, the Shadow Fey are on the losing end, as their leadership and much of their population was doomed. Loht, himself, was driven completely mad from the attempted power move. The Nightmare Court, Loht, Queen Maeve (not to be confused with the ancestral queen of Paridon), Gwydion and the Elder Brain were destroyed and remade amidst the cataclysm. A new entity was created from all of them. This is the Waking Nightmare. Thanks to some strange manner of reality wrinkle, it isn’t fully a Darklord and is able to break free to help spread its reign of terror. By 775 BC, the horror has made itself known. The damage done by it alone is untold.
A place of nightmare made flesh, and flesh made nightmare. The doom that the shadow fey have brought can not be understated. A captured Bleutspur has found new torments from the pain of being used, but the satisfaction of enacting psychic horror upon the realm. The Illithids still try to remain within the cavernous networks below the ground, what was once the way into the Shadow Rift. The Waking Nightmare horrifies them, but they still plan to serve it, if only to push their own agenda. Combined with the powers of nightmare, madness and corruption begin to leak beyond domain borders. Not content with just causing damage to the Core, the vile powers begin to wage their own war against The Mists. Azalin, caught off guard, now found himself battling mutant fey horrors and nightmarish blights, while trying to manipulate the Dukkar Pact to not backfire on him. While Darkon has secured enough mercenary work and outside intervention to stave off the abomination, other domains have not been as lucky. New Gundarak, while well prepared following great victory, suffered fair losses. But, these are little compared to Nova Vaasa, Tepest, Falkovnia and the ever doomed Borca. While Barovia anticipated battle, not against this. None the less, Strahd has steadied himself for his toughest battle yet. Anyone he suspects of being remotely akin to Tatyana has been kidnapped and held in “safety”, so he can deal with all them later. Amidst the panic of the civilians already, few have noticed immediately. To him, this is the ultimate campaign to destroy his captors. The “Do Good” faction of The Crows quickly investigated incidents along the northern borders of Barovia, only to have many of their ranks subsumed into the nightmare consciousness moments later. Those who returned found themselves even requesting help of the dread count, something unthinkable in prior times.
Even the returned Gundarak has faced much in the ways of the Nightmare Horrors, who seek to terrorize, devour and expand. Desperation had lead Gundar to find Dominioni, sealed within his own tomb of sorts. Armies gathered outside of the asylum to demand the mad doctor help push back the blight or face annihilation. However, Gundar’s paranoia overrode desire for allies, as the small domain was razed and eliminated. After brief satisfaction, much of his army found themselves destroyed in a later campaign against the Nightmare creatures. Much like other powers, few are aware that another research facility and asylum is at the mercy of the Nightmare Court. Should Illhousen still survive, he could be one of the few people capable of stopping the infestation. Ivan’s attempts at storming the breach fail, as he is devoured and left as nothing. Ivana, brutally crippled, sees Borca mutually destroyed by the Dukkar Pact, Gundarakite armies and the Night Terrors. Other domains of the Four Towers become bickering nation states as the other warring factions overrun them. Even Darkonese warbands become invested. Barovia pushes into Forlorn, exterminating the Goblins and demanding Druids help fight the nightmares or die. Tristan is overwhelmed with joy, as the forces binding him are slain and his curse is lifted. Now a true Vampyr, he is willing to pledge to Barovia, under the condition he creates more Goblyns to replace his losses. Nova Vaasa is swarmed by both Darkonese bombardments and Night Terrors, as Malken defects in favor of betrayal, leaking all secrets to enemies. His goodly double is taken into custody of Azalin, so Malken can continue his schemes. The Waking Nightmare has well expanded their reach, especially to domains bordering former Shadow Rift. Tepest has several clean connections. The easiest way to be sent away is killing one to two of the three hag sisters. In time, they learned of this wondrous phenomenon. As such, they have become more ambitious, particularly with heightened aggression towards Darkon. While unaffected by the horror, the sisters three revel in the infectious madness. In time, the madness will probably catch up to them.
In a sense, this new “domain” is a cluster of sorts. Aspects of Arak bleed and melt into the realms of nightmare. Much of the sylvan influence has been pushed to the outer bands, safe from the deep corruption that took much of their brethren. Some has even found itself in Darkon and Nova Vaasa, former sites of Arak. However, the font of psychic power that causes the true horrors of this plane come from something else entirely. A pocket domain was given new purpose, with the Elder Brain acting as a willing conduit of eldritch power. Bleutspur acts as the hellish battery to power dark dreams as a reality. The real terror is this realm is something that proves far more destructive than vampirism, lycanthropy or other infectious curse-like stains on the soul. This eldritch madness rends a mind, before the dark magic of the Night Terror can sculpt the victim into a suitable soldier to help spread its mission. The Waking Nightmare has few primary directives, but the collective darklord has become more brilliant than ever. A swirling energized biomass, the abomination works to devour the demiplane before moving to consume the multiverse. Worse, its means of infection have rapidly evolved. Horrid liquid from the Elder Brain has been repurposed as a plague-ridden life blood of the mutated. Exposure is enough to spread the outbreak, but less likely than regular means of exposure. It isn’t just life that is changed by the corrosive sickness, but the very land. It warps and sways into an alien wasteland unfathomable to those who gaze upon it. The very soil itself becomes an infectious track to help further terraform all things. The very tainted lands pulsates and twitches, like tumorous flesh, releasing wicked energy from exploding boil-like pockets.
Dread Developments and other domains
The War of the Core
Three factions arose to fight for the future of the Core. The first is lead by Malocchio, The Gentleman Caller and Azalin Rex. They seek to tear down the Mists, the Vistani and anyone with them. Aligned are Meredoth, Easan, the three daughters of Tsien Chiang, Baron Von Kharkov, Drachenblut, Malken, the Rat Queen (unwillingly), Duke Gundar, the Strings Player and Drakov. Count Strahd von Zarovich, Harkon Lukas, a resurrected Dread Flesh Golem of Elise Von Brandthofen, the cult of Simon Audaire, Merton the Sage, Hazlik, Tristen ApBlanc and clan Renier (for now). The third is simply The Night Terror itself and all who have been consumed by it. While the others hold more complicated agendas, the third simply wants to assimilate all into The Waking Nightmare. Others stay neutral or adversarial on all sides for now.
14 years after the battle for the castle, in 774 BC, Gundar began to fear for his future. He heard the words of the prophecy from a captured Vistani, the same words that Gabrielle cursed him with. While the prisoners have complied with subduing the Invidian Witch, they still hate him and will happily haunt him with the witch’s damning hex. He knows that darkness comes for him in due time. This was triggered by Malocchio, for playing his role in the prophecy. Numerous women of Invidia were kidnapped. Overseen by The Gentleman Caller, a dark ritual was enacted to free the Dukkar of his binds so the start of The Mists’ fall could begin! Try as he may, Gundar is once again doomed. Gabrielle told a prophecy, despite her limited blood. One day he would be challenged. No man, pure of soul or blood could stop him. But, one will stop him, piercing bites to follow. This refers to Lucita Aderre, daughter of Gabrielle, now a grown adult. Matton Blanchard is the true father, meaning Lucita is a wolfwere. Both of them seek to get revenge on the tyrant responsible for Gabrielle’s mostly unknown fate. Nharov Gundar is none the wiser on this, confident in his victory. He wrongly attributed this curse to the werewolves of Verbrek, sending forces to do battle with Alfred Timothy and his packs. Undead legions piled into the southern border of Verbrek, on a campaign that Timothy felt was the ultimate test for The Wolf God. Ultimately, countless werewolves were spared if they pledged full service to the Pact cause. Seeing their leader crushed and the growing pack division, they pledged to being minions. With the aid of new psychically enhanced vampires, Gundar ordered the werewolves to be brainwashed and hyper-obedient beasts at his command. Harkon Lukas of Kartakass has been approached by Gundar on lending aid to help stop the threat, as a means of shocking diplomacy. To Gundar, Lukas was a mutual victim of betrayal during the Gundarakite Conspiracy. However, Blanchard and Lucita Aderre reached Lukas of the news first, causing the Meistersinger to question the Vampire Lord’s offers. Two unlikely spies have bore witness to all of this unfolding, Nathan Timothy and Akriel Lukas. Neither respect their domain of origin, but wish to keep tabs on the conflict unfolding before them, both from sailing vessels. Harkon Lukas has formed a neutrality pact with Barovia. However, the darklord’s previous aid with Gundarak has made this shaky. Meanwhile, the werewolves of Verbrek are willing to unite with Malocchio and Azalin, so long as Gundar is removed from the picture. And so a web of intrigue is spun to move Lucita to the right place, to further the prophecy along. Malocchio holds a grudge to Gundar’s actions, but recognizes that he is a pawn that helped free him. He has secretly been seeding Kartakass, especially Matton Blanchard, Lucita Aderre and Harkon Lukas, with information on how to take the now useless Duke down. Likewise, Malocchio has used his powers to appear as an Avatar of the Wolf God, demanding that the divided packs avenge their brothers, to distract them from his greater plans with Azalin. Defeat of Gundar will be far more challenging, as his “Legions under Darkness” are a far greater source of security than his previous regime’s forces. Many of the Gundarakite rebels-turned-soldiers chaffe from inadequacy, often hoping to prove themselves worthy of a monstrous cause. Both Blanchard and Aderre were last seen given safe passage through Barovia.
The future of Dementlieu is grim. Infighting between The Brain and Councilor D’Honaire has erupted into a gang war far worse than Invidia’s civil war. In a surprise change of tactics, Drakov has been advised to offer mercenary aid in assistance for gradual control. This strategy has helped curb The Living Brain’s forces, pushing them rightfully back to Lamordia. And with that success, Falkovnian forces turn the cultural center of the core into a puppet state, ending Drakov’s curse by Malocchio’s hands. This has likewise increased the available technology for the orders of the falcon, making them far more deadly in things to come. This does leave them at odds with Gundarak, who has exploited Lamordia and Mordent for their ends. Alexandre du Cire was eventually found out by Falkovnian forces. Instead of being slain by Feuer Knights, the wax golem was commissioned by force to make duplicates of important figures to help sow chaos in other domains. A fake Sir Tristen Hiregaard is the first of these copies, soon after the Darkonese capture the real one. Plans go awry as Vigo Drakov attempts to a coup to control the land. Drakov, witnessing the betrayal, strikes back. With more men loyal to Vlad, Vigo is defeated. However, Drakov learns that this was the agenda of Vigo’s true father, the Gentleman Caller. In the end, patience for D’Honaire runs out and he is executed to make an example for those who cross the invaders. His mind controlled puppets simultaneously fall in endless convulsions till they die one by one.
With the rapid decline and instability within Nova Vaasa, Hazlan loses a major trade partner and supporter. Realizing their use is outlived, the Church of the Lawgiver is pushed in a coup aided by Hazlik. He demands his subordinates to maintain composure, well aware dread magic is afoot. Reluctantly, the Darklord strikes a deal with Strahd. Eleni, on a turn of events, is critical of this move into direct wider politics. Hazlik hates this, as it further complicates goals. He fears that his will apprentice will break away from him. Hazlik responds through a trap to capture Malocchio, which succeeds in freeing him. Betrayed by the experience, he abandons Eleni to deal with the fallout of Malocchio declaring Hazlan an enemy. Prophets of the Lawgiver declare that Hazlan is doomed to be another forgotten civilization, much like the many ruins it rests on. As such, they willingly accept retreating to Nova Vaasa to help retake it and defeat the Darkonian and Night Terror combatants. Hazlik himself vanishes, leaving his rivals to speculate in dread. A letter in Hazlan’s private sanctum implies a ritual to carry out genocide upon the lands of Rashemen and Thay. Both Master Wizard and Apprentice are no where to be seen, as the remaining wizard students are forced to work with Strahd.
With the Dark Twins eradicated, the remainder of each respective clan flee to Barovia, in hopes allegiance will absolve them of past sins. The reluctant Strahd allows them into his protection, as long as they are willing to help his own side wide out the Dukkar Pact. The domain crumbles before the Night Terror and the Dukkar Pact forces alike, helping to create a buffer zone for each respective side. Many civilians and nobles desperately vacate to nearby domains. Valachan, already pledged to Azalin out of guilt, help to secure the fallen borders. In a final blow, the Dark Twins did leave a gift for any living dead wanting to occupy their lands. They crafted a special poison concocted with the strange zombie dust “gifted” to them not long ago. Valachan’s black leopards, dispatched alongside other soldiers, were none the wiser due to mostly being bands of the living. However, what they carried was a virulent blight that traveled through the strange poison. For weeks, nothing major occurred, until countless around Von Kharkov grew horribly weak. Revolution sprung up in Valachan, with the next chosen bride of Baron Urik secretly being an assassin from Borca. The unique vampire was slain as the shadowy thief unveiled the accursed Cat of Felcovic, with the Borcan killer finishing the job. Word of this survivor is misconstrued as a member of the Vatraska tribe of the Vistani. This results in ethnic violence of the Vistani who had not yet fled Valachan, all while the anonymous assassin gets to work with help. Most vampires within the domain were slain shortly after, followed by the werepanthers. However, Lady Adeline escaped, having learned deeper details on Azalin’s army. The veiled vampire gained permission to assemble forces to stomp out any Borcan survivors and Night Terror creatures in her way. Her army is baited into trailing a large Borcan refugee camp, only for it to be a trap set by Strahd. Adeline escapes, but her army is destroyed. Fearing retribution from Azalin, she goes into hiding.
Lamordia sighs in temporary relief, as both Mordenheim and Adam are gone. However, news of Mordenheim’s wife returning on a rampage immediately sends the land into terror. Tales of a powerful weapon send both major territories into lockdown. Elise has gone mad with grief, after discovering her fate was at the hands of a rival scientist, Emil Bollenboch. With Invidia thrown into peril, Scar’s Band fled after being hired for a trap in Lamordia. Along their way, the Alchemical Apparatus was mysteriously stolen in an effort to fulfill the Scar’s dark vision. Recruiting Mordentish scientists, he set the trap with the alchemical apparatus to switch Adam and Mordenheim, who killed each other soon after. Following that, he extracted “information” from both of them to do experiments on a “revived” Von Brandthofen, who quickly killed him. Elise became the new Darklord of Lamordia, but not before discovering a project that Bollenboch from the distant land of Zherisia, “The Finale Bomb”. This was his ultimate weapon against dread golems and everything else. Baron Von Aubrecker is slain by his son, Rudolph the Living Brain, who promptly takes his place. Baron Rudolph has also learned of this super weapon, interested in convincing Elise to use it as leverage against enemy domains. As is, the Syndicate of Enlightened Citizens are interested in the brain’s doomsday proposal, with the destruction of all other rivals. Von Brandthofen, immune to the brain’s charms, does capitulate to sate her desire for revenge against the Mists. This threat is used to push Dukkar Pact forces away, especially after a test run with lesser versions obliterate the Night Terror consumed lands of Keening and some Arak refugee camps. Many Lamordians are appalled by the graphic nature of the weapon, but are intimidated into submission by both Rudolph von Aubrecker and Elise Von Brandthofen. The new Darklord is muddled and confused, as bits of her traumatic past send her into uncontrollable fury. The relief of Adam’s demise is always balanced by an inability to ever bring Victor Mordenheim back. Meanwhile, the Brain uses his own skills to manipulate the Positivists to his wishes, while making it look like his father is not only around, but in charge. Schloss Mordenheim has become the center not only for more Dread Golem minions, but perfecting The Finale Bomb too. Amidst the madness, Althea of Demise finds herself free of her maze. She briefly hides in Adam’s prior den before vanishing from The Mists. Some attribute a mysterious stone statue that petrifies those around it with the former darklord. How or why she was released is currently a mystery. Her release coincides with another, one far more mythical. The Sleeping Fiend of Lamordia has awakened, heeding a call to action by the Caller. Many townsfolk of Ludendorf, ill-prepared, were torn asunder by a multiple armed woman with a snake-tail. Many assumed her to be a freak experiment, but still remained traumatized by her relentless charge beyond the mountains. With Dementlieu subdued, the Falkovnian Falcon Armies marched to the mountains of Lamordia, demanding submission or defeat. From Schloss Mordenheim, another weapon is rocketed into the sky. It hurtles into Falkovnia, where a brilliant light washes upon the landscape, easily viewable from the mountainside. Falkovnia and a chunk of Darkon are erased in mere moments. Drakov, freed from his borders, begins to panic. Worse for him, the Hell Knights defect immediately and turn on the Forces of the Falcon. Enslaving the rest, they march onto Mordenheim in naive hopes of their own conquest. Most fall to the rampage of The Sleeping Fiend.
In the several months before the war, a piece of the prophecy was made manifest. Malocchio Aderre sent letters to Jacqueline Renier, after learning of her problem. He arranged a meeting with a “gentleman caller” to ease her woes, as a call to peace. Worried for the Treaty of the Four Towers, Renier was hesitant, but overridden by both her underlying feral nature and her fear of loneliness. Not long after there is record of the caller meeting with Renier, the latter vanishes, leaving behind a letter on how young she feels and somehow looks. Days pass, as the clan worries for stability without the matriarch rather than simply trying to grab power. Uprisings begin to occur in the months to follow, as other family poorly handle the Darklord’s job. A “Relief” for the Renier clan comes in the form of “The Rat Plague”, as swarms emerge to violently consume anyone in proximity. Those who escape exhibit a horrible wasting disease, rather than wererat lycanthropy. Death washes the streets, as protest fizzles. Even invasive soldiers hold back. The ill omen is dubbed by the Vistani as the “Time of Tainted Fang”, causing a Mordentish physician by the name of “Dr. Allister P. Grovehaven” to investigate. His discovery was something touched by a darkness worse than lycanthropy itself; wererats exhibiting curling horns and dark magic, shrines dedicated to profane rituals and demonic incantations, unholy warping of the ground itself. According to a recovered journal of Dr. Grovehaven, the twisted underworld housed a particularly atrocious discovery; a bloated, mutated and massive broodmother rat-thing trapped in delusion and perversion. Some say that the cult of Simon Audaire is responsible for the recovery of Allister’s documents, in their own mission to exterminate the wererat menace. However, knowledge of the cult grounds or the doctor’s body are gone, not deterring the followers of Simon. Some have infiltrated the Watch, in an effort to curtail the plague with cruel and ruthless efficiency. The effective Regent command is too oblivious to notice that their familial enemies are ready to strike at a moment’s notice. The rest of the Renier clan has searched to no avail, as invasive armies are now a threat. Or, all except Louise Renier, who betrayed the family to Vlad Drakov, informing that her sister has vanished. She promptly disappeared after delivering the message. The rising tides of war drew her back, to consolidate and take power, as Louise accidentally found herself trapped by the Dark Powers. While she has tried to escape, it always fails. She always finds herself needing to return to the family estate. Meanwhile, the Rat’s Nest became its own domain well below Richemulot, much like with Timor. Through campaigns of extortion and manipulation, Louise manipulates the Simon Audaire cult into an extermination campaign. This does not succeed, only pushing hordes of demonic rat creatures into other domains.
Carnival is caught between a last stand of Sir Tristen Hiregaard and Darkon’s increasing might. The Caller, accompanying Azalin’s armies, diverts to assault the fleeing Carnival. In the days prior, Isolde found herself drawn to the downtrodden and wistful people. Fears of the returned Nightmare Lands and increased Darkon aggression made them desire an escape. Ultimately, this sealed Carnival’s doom. Majority of the carnies were slain, with Professor Arcanus disappearing into the mists. Isolde, no longer bound to the carnival, found herself embracing her full celestial nature to stop the caller. Ezraites and defecting Lawgiver followers crowded to the wrathful entity for support and aid. They saw the shining beacon against the darkness emerge at last. An Apocalyptic Ezra cult forms alongside with the broken ranks of Tepest’s Garda. A grim inquisition given divine boons begins to push back against the horrors around them, sending Azalin into a panic. The Core is fully locked into war. A Mistway into Dawnsveil forms, resulting in a crusade against the Witch and her evils. The Witch herself finds aid in the Sisters Three, somehow still immune to nightmare corruption. But, a combined effort of Governor Orvird’s struggling militias and Isolde’s holy zealots eliminated the Dark Witch forever, as the Sisters ousted her for safety. They have slid further into obscurity, now trying to flee the corrupt lands they failed to protect. However, Tepest slid further into corruption and Orvird was slain after the discovery of harboring both the undead and werebeasts within his ranks. Not long after the mad Ezran crusade, Merton’s extensions of Ne’ur-Maise showed up to lend aid. This lead the crusaders and later Malocchio to the holy city. Deemed righteous by the crusade, the forces were gathered. However, Malocchio used his own schemes to infiltrate and subvert, crafting misleading information to scatter and confuse. In the end, he was able to kidnap Merton. Ever wise, the mage went along with the plan, allowing both Isolde and his own forces to take notice. As a final ruse to mock the Dark Powers, he goaded Malocchio to slay him, driving the residents of Ne’ur-Maise into righteous fervor. And with his destruction, those who weren’t united with the holy cause were erased, as the city quickly fell to ruin. Curiously, those imbued with the holy rage of Isolde found themselves untainted by the Night Terror, leading to a mission to rescue Dr. Illhousen and rid the nightmare menace. Of course, this is only a step towards the annihilation of Azalin and Isolde’s arch-nemesis of The Gentleman Caller. And from there, some fear a slip of sanity leading to a scorched world approach against the “unholy” demiplane itself.
The Core isn’t the only place that is marred by the horrible prophecy. The Broken Cog cluster proved that it could not sustain its volatile state. Inevitably, mass violence broke out through riots to revolts to full scaled warfare. Ichthyons assaulted Alleigosto for taking so much of their industry, House Olbsodt lead a revolution that shut the many devices of his land down, Machine Men invade Rockbaecche killing infected and healthy alike, infectious undead begin to spread after containment fails, Phyreshan shadows and mind controlled legions swarm nearby territories through sheer numbers, a joint-pact between Zherisia and Nosos leads to them declaring total war against the rest of the cluster, Olbsodt’s luddite legions cause untold damage even beyond borders, new inventions of herbal gas and automatic weaponry unleash new horrors of war unseen, Zherisia burns through resources to fuel the warmachine… all according to Noson plans. The Cluster has fallen into absolute chaos, as all plans have moved to war. Worse, Lamordian visitors and escaping denizens use the Mistway, “The Channel of Knowledge”, to escape with plenty of horrible innovations. Among the worst worrying are the blueprints for a powerful explosive called “The Finale Bomb” that lie within Nosos. Some say that the weapon has been built. Such weapon has become of extreme value to Emil Bollenbach, during his own venture away from Lamordia. He infiltrated the toxic city in hopes of find a way to cleanse the construct threat once and for all! However, with news of aquatic monsters overwhelming all ports along the Ichthyon Seas, his time is very limited. The fall of the Broken Cog Cluster came swiftly in the madness soon after. War consumed the cluster, Alleigosto was gradually bombed out, survived by blood-thirsty machines with corrupted souls. Rockbaecche was assaulted by a mixture of machines and the living dead, as forces of dread gods declared final assault on Ichthyos and the surrounding coastlines. Nosos became heavily flooded by “ancient gods” in a last stand, but it didn’t matter. They aided in the corruption and final victory of Zherisia, while Phyresha was purged in all out extermination campaigns. Ultimately, the Council of Seven took to possessing esteemed members of Paridon, to continue their angry deeds against the living. The victorious warmachine then marched by sea and into Lamordia, supplying allies in the coming storm ahead. Their first action for the War in the Core was unleashing strange Energy draining Vampires of Timor upon Darkon, a menace that Azalin couldn’t control. A burned and sickly Bollenbach emerged with the plans he sought. His fate was sealed later, as are those who also learn of the Finale Bomb.
In the end, all that remains are wasted ruins surrounding the linchpin of the madness, Castle Ravenloft. So close to victory, Azalin was undone through Strahd himself. Phylactory and power sources both located, a freed “False Oinoloth” helped to secure them before vanishing into the planes beyond… And to that, the horrors of the Blood War shall be witnessed by many greater planes. In final defiance, the Count mocked his old rival who was so close to undoing everything once again. In the end, he was to be dust and he was to join Irik. The phantom of Azalin’s son only asked atonement, as the lich began to fail. The Night Terror will end with enough force to fight it back, only for the true might of the Count to manifest itself. A test for the count, the Dark Powers will make the Count their true champion, as even former allies find themselves soon vanquished in betrayal. And two others of interest remain around him: Inajira and Tatyana Federovna. The Daemon clutches the final incarnation of Strahd’s cursed obsession to give him the final test. Will he still pursue a hopeless battle or will he learn to let go and let old curses die? One hand will lead to not so much a bride but a new torment, locked within his prison castle. The other will see penance for sins, true love with Sergei reunited as the Count pays the price for his ancient treachery. All the while, his remaining foes can do little but observe. They may try to persuade him, but the choice must be his own. Even the likes of Illhousen, Sunstar and other survivors; they cannot interrupt destiny.
All of these visions are inconclusive and provide a glimpse into a possible dark future. This is why heroes must arise, lest these events come to pass. And should they, these lands upon the mists are surely doomed. And with them, all of us. As for worlds beyond? It is hard to say, but their fates could be sealed.
IMAGE SOURCE: Stephen Fabien – Madame Eva; Kev Walker – Duskmantle Seer; Eddy Brennan – The Midnight Slasher; Jaime Jones – The Promised End; Games Workshop – Wight King; Columbia Pictures – Bram Stoker’s Dracula; tygodym – Grey Seer; Lt. Jacob Harris – 255th Infantry Regiment Waldenburg 1945
2 thoughts on “Dark Visions of Ravenloft – Madame Eva’s Tales from the Time of Unparalleled Darkness”
…holy crap. Wow.
Okay. Everything happened. Everything.
-The Bride of Mordenheim is a darklord, and is now making nukes alongside a golem-hating psycho.
-Duke Gundar went fully heavy metal upon his return, beat everyone, and built the greatest war machine in the core.
-Malacchio finally got broke his curse, though decides to stay rather than just teleport out (guess he has some loyalty to his dad, his one virtue),
– Isoldt saw her family die is now driven to holy rage, spreading the twisting like wildfire
-Basically everything that could have been the Walking Nightmare fused togtheor to become it, warping reality by its very presence. The Dark Powers finally went to far, and now there creation is crashing down around them (or is that just what they want me to think?)
-Drakov finally, finally wins. Immediately dies.
-Azalin finally, finally dies. He could never learn, he would never learn. Death was his only escape, and maybe not even then. At best, he’s hurt and maybe even killed the Mists. The closeted thing to victory he has ever had.
-And finally, Strahd is made avatar of the Dark Powers (whatever that could mean), given the power to strike down the ultimate evil, or once again repeat his sins.
Can the original sinner finally face his crimes and die a hero, or will the lures of lust and hatred once again be to strong to ignore and condem all of reality? Does anyone stand a chance now that Nightmares walk and False-Oinoloths run free? Will Griffon Hill matter at all? And most important of all: Is baby vecna finally potty trained?! All this and more will be answered on the final episode of Daemons&Deathrays Z!
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Since I’m using this as a model for adventures, I didn’t want to totally flesh out everything. I wanted to imply that pretty much every DL/BBEG dies/flees leaving Strahd left. Also, the Waking Nightmare exists beyond time. It can be “killed”, but it will likely be back… For the False-Oinoloth, he’s not a current threat unless he finds chronomancy. As for Gryphon Hill in Mordentshire? Something might be relevant.
Although, my Forgotten Realms campaign that ties to Planescape, Greyhawk and Dragonlance (which has been going on/off since ’07 and ignores 4e+) is up to DR 1422… The Time of Unparalleled Darkness would have happened already in it. This would mean that Hazlik somewhat succeeded, but was probably defeated… or maybe pulled another Vitiate-Valkorion. But, for purpose of this page? Nothing happened yet. Though, Vecna ACTUALLY Reborn was referenced once or twice. So yes, Baby Vecna is potty trained.
And even then, this is just a vision of a strange Vistani Rauni who exists outside of time as well. It can be changed/stopped.