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[Dark Eras fan] Kuaru – Early Medieval Kiev, Ukraine – circa 700 – 988 AD

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  • [Dark Eras fan] Kuaru – Early Medieval Kiev, Ukraine – circa 700 – 988 AD

    Topic for splintered setting to my Byzantine Empire project, about predecessor settlement to modern Kiev – called previously Kuaru – that I plan to remake into proper stories setting for Storyteller’s Vault later. This Eras setting is extension for Wolf & Raven Era and spans the times of both Khazars rules in area – being outpost of Khazars Khanagate - as later Rus (Norse) Khanagate. It extends in to origins of Kievan Rus in year of 882 AD, when Prince Oleg became first ruler of it, forming stable kingdom. This setting ends with Baptism of Rus in year 988 AD, when Byzantium became de facto patron of the new state and almost all traces of Norseman in region are lost.

    To start the topic discussion I point, after Wolf & Raven, that Rus people were ( probably ) from Norse coming to Slavic lands on boats ( called for "the men who row" (rods-) in Old Norse ). Rus became local elite in new coming Slavic kingdoms of Early Medieval period, adopting to local societies and intermarrying with Slavs. All the Norseman in those regions were called Varangians.

    Now, to the setting proper…

    Kuaru ( Khazars & Rus Khanagates )

    In the times of both Khanagates ( till year 882 AD ), Kuaru is great trading post, made in the shadow of the hill-fortress, called Sambat (Old Turkic for "high place") that was built by Khazars to defend the area. As settlement is located near the confluence of the Dnieper and Desna river systems, it quickly became trade nexus. In times of Khanagates it’s mainly slaves, fur and jewellery, most often robbed between next chiefs, khagans. Settlement was ruled mainly by one at the time, but Khanagate as subdivided into various areas of influence between those leaders – that itself lead to constant fights over Kuaru or nearby regions. From mid-800s there is constant trade with and war groups attacking Constantinople from the area.

    Kuaru as settlement is built mostly from dugouts where most of population that is Slavs lives. First Khazars and then later Norseman elite lives in more representative but still wooden buildings.

    Khazar in Khanagate times are following what is known as Tengrism, which focused on the sky god Tengri. Horse sacrifices were made to this supreme deity. Rites involved offerings to fire, water, and the moon, to remarkable creatures, and to "gods of the road" (cf. Old Türk yol tengri, perhaps a god of fortune). Sun amulets were widespread as cultic ornaments. A tree cult was also maintained. Whatever was struck by lightning, man or object, was considered a sacrifice to the high god of heaven. The afterlife, to judge from excavations of aristocratic tumuli, was much a continuation of life on earth, warriors being interred with their weapons, horses, and sometimes with human sacrifices. Ancestor worship was observed in Khazars – that lead to great Underworld imprint on the society. Slavs are following their own pantheon, partially in secret.

    Under Rus rules, Kuaru’s main religions are the Aesir and the Vanir of Wolf & Raven Era.

    Sum up

    That’s all I have for now. Ask questions on subjects related to Kuaru, I will answer – or look for it in researches and papers. Now I need to prepare few NPCs for Khazars Khanagate period, so I’m open for general ideas – I probably will do local khagan, his main priest and war leader.

    Also, I look for information how big Kuaru settlement could realistically be in those times? We say here 100, 500 or 1000 people?

    And, of course, I make shutout to Khanwulf, master of Eastern Slavic lands and Early Medieval period. Maybe he will join in topic.
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 11-29-2018, 03:48 PM.

  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    I started to watch Netflix's Marco Polo series for inspirations on Khazars. In series we have shown Mongol Empire, that the same as Khazars, is decedent from Attila's Huns.

    Development in my own game - PCs voluntarily gave in to "captivity" and were carried out before in front of Khagan. Then 5 low-experienced werewolves massacred whole Khagan, High Priest, Bek and 15 of their Khazar warriors. Well, Khagan was taken into captivity by one of PCs. Uratha also let to release K'uar, Fire of Truth, in it's Pillar of Fire form into World of Flesh, burning Great Hall in the process - and possibly starting to burn whole Sambat. Good times!

    And I'm not sure if Khagan was not too weak to confront the players by his stats. Or would he be killed by Uratha simply because he is not werewolf, one way or another.

    Khanwulf, you know WtF 2E fairly well - You think that Khagan was too weak? Or simply any non-monster cannot equal Uratha in combat, however high he would have Skills?

    Bonus question to everyone - Can Khagan by traded to other Khangan for - I don't know - maybe right of passage in next chiefs lands in Khaganate?
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 05-03-2019, 05:27 AM.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    I started to listen podcast about history of Russia - In this episode is described founding of Kiev by Vikings of Askold and Dir - and their later attack on Constantinople in 860 AD. I advise to listen whole podcast, as in it's previous episodes describe history and culture of various ethnic groups that build future Kievan Rus. And later on are literal facts and events from chronicles of Kiev as state.
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 04-03-2019, 12:14 PM.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    So I prepared K’uar, previous ruler of local Spirit Court of Kuaru, now a bit disgraced. Maybe you will look on him, @Khanwulf, @MhicWombat? Maybe some spirits experts can look on him with their great sights - @Reighnhell , @Vent0?

    Note: Great River mentioned in text is Dniepr River, on what Kuaru ( future Kiev) stands.

    K’uar – Fire of Truth

    Fire Spirit 4 Rank
    “I SEE CLEARLY IN A FLAME. YES, BURN A BIT MORE FOR ME – AND I WILL REVEAL SECRETS TO YOU…”
    Background: K’ura is ancient spirit of sacrifice in flame. When first nomadic people of Great Steppe came to this area, they were uncertain and afraid of many things. They had questions. And they knew fire could answer them – if they will make correct sacrifice. That’s how K’uar was born.
    After millennia, he is now unsatisfied. In centuries before, he had legions of worshippers, whole tribes that burn animals and values in his name. Now, only those few priests in the temple are looking for him. And he is hungry. Especially, as the status of spirits of the Great River in surrounding is growing. And he still has ‘burns’ after his first confrontation with sacred water from those, eons later.
    Description: K’uar in main form looks more like humanoid shape made of living flame. You are not sure if it was human that is burning under fire, but blaze is encircling it, making it a bit bigger. In Pillar form, spirit is single vertical as big as few stories building. However, he is limited in range at foundation to no more than circle of about size of small room.
    Storytelling Hints: ( 800’s comment: ) With only Bashtu looking over his needs and trying to satisfy him for arcane knowledge, K’uar makes more and more impatient. He wants to be truly ‘alive’ and feel the world in the fullest – he want’s to exist in the Flesh, not only in Spirit. If there would reason to burn Kuar settlement, he would be all for it. Then his fire would really shine.

    Aspirations:
    To get sacrifice that he can burn in his flames
    To return as lead spirit in local area
    To come to Flesh and ‘live’, free of worries of Spirit World

    Rank: 4
    Attributes: Power 12, Finesse 10, Resistance 8
    Willpower: 10
    Essence: 25
    Initiative: 18
    Defense: 10
    Speed: 22
    Size: 9 ( 41 -> Pillar of Fire )
    Corpus: 17 ( 50 )
    Influences: Fire ••••, Truth ••
    Manifestations: Gauntlet Breach, Image, Materialize, Reaching, Pillar of Fire, Shadow Gateway, Twilight Form
    Numina: Aggressive Meme, Awe, Blast, Firestarter, Regenerate, Speed, Sign
    Ban: When give sacrifice for him to consume in his flames, he must answer only with truth
    Bane: Water from the source of Great River ( Dniepr )
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 04-03-2019, 01:38 PM.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    To give a context of my actual run game - In year 800 my two Vikings packs group ( one PCs, one NPCs ) got after 72 days of journey from nowadays Uppsala, Sweden to Kuaru. All that left in their journey are 7 Uratha ( 4 PCs, 3 NPCs ) and two slaves they got on travel ( well, one is considered 'free companion' in journey ). One of PCs is ex-Khazars slave so he understood what they were saying when 3 Sambat warriors where in Slavic sinkhole, at feet of Sambat proper. He listen how warriors are disappointed (delicately speaking) with the new Khagan Kundaj, cause 'he says only to take 1/10th from Slavs, not everything'. They also complain how local priest, Bashtu, is closed in his temple all day longs. When the PC told it to groups main leader and berseker - he started to shout 'Khan! Khan! Khan!' at the center of Slavs settlement, to challenge Khagan on ruling. What he got was 3 previous warriors going for PCs - that quickly ended in full Gauru fight, where mortal warriors almost killed the berserker. Furious, at the end of it, he throw burning tree at the gates of Sambat. And then PCs made 'tactical retreat'. Now whole Sambat is alarmed that some foreigners are challenging Khagan and making mess. And they will hunt our wolves now...

    Interesting implication now is that players where considering burning whole Sambat. Beside massive Harmony breaking point toward spirit it would be for them ( killing human is small, so we see here mass killing ) - I see they could involuntarily help Bashtu in summoning K'uar over Gauntlet in flesh with needed great sacrifice. I really look forward to next game session.

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  • Darker Days Mike
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    I was thinking more that Slavs sticked to their gods, Norse to their - and Khazars to Tengrism. Some little overlaps could be, but remember that Khazars were occupiers of Slavic people in region, often changing rulers ( because of Khanagate's inner conflicts ) - where Norse where slightly better in their public relations with natives. So much, that Norse in two-three decades became Rus we here all along and state was named later on.
    Okay, cool, that makes sense.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Originally posted by Darker Days Mike View Post
    However, since there are a lot of unknowns about the postulated Rus Khaganate period, it's quite possible that a polytheistic mixing pot existed at that time, since Slavic and Norse polytheisms aren't really mutually exclusive. Not sure how Tengrism would play into this.
    I was thinking more that Slavs sticked to their gods, Norse to their - and Khazars to Tengrism. Some little overlaps could be, but remember that Khazars were occupiers of Slavic people in region, often changing rulers ( because of Khanagate's inner conflicts ) - where Norse where slightly better in their public relations with natives. So much, that Norse in two-three decades became Rus we here all along and state was named later on.

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  • Darker Days Mike
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    Under Rus rules, Kuaru’s main religions are the Aesir and the Vanir of Wolf & Raven Era.
    Very interesting work thus far. However, I would point out that the majority religions of Kyiv by the time of the Kievan Rus would be Slavic Polytheism (as evidenced by the Rus-Byzantine treaties of 907 and 911) and Judaism (according to archaeological evidence and the Kiev Letter). However, since there are a lot of unknowns about the postulated Rus Khaganate period, it's quite possible that a polytheistic mixing pot existed at that time, since Slavic and Norse polytheisms aren't really mutually exclusive. Not sure how Tengrism would play into this.

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  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    Perfect! Did not know that Khazars were all into Attila legacy - but is surely have sense.
    Yes, because they're related peoples. Keep in mind that the tribal confederation of Attila was just that--a confederation, known by its ruling tribe (the Huns). And in "it's on the internet and Khanwulf dug it up in 60 seconds so I know it's true" territory, I leave this:

    "(Now, Huns and Kozars (Khazars) were very close relatives, if not one and the same people. Both Huns and Khazars, or the part of the Danube Skitians they were, formed together with other Skitian tribes the Bolgarian people, state and nation south of the Danube. It is very possible that when Kozars/Khazars started leaving their homeland because of the overpopulation, they moved in more than one direction: i.e. while part of them [Huns] went south, crossed the Danube and entered Mysia and Thracia, where they mixed with their kinsmen there, another part [Khazars] may had moved eastwards towards the plains between the Black and Caspian seas and mixed with the Skitians inhabiting those lands, may be as far south as the Caucasus Mountains."

    You can pull up the page by googling a selection of the text if you care.

    --Khanwulf

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
    (Story idea )
    Perfect! Did not know that Khazars were all into Attila legacy - but is surely have sense.

    Other idea - I think about making circa 800 AD Kuaru of about 200 population ( + 50 men of Khagan army ). I do not want to make it too big in those times - but surely some large border outpost of Khazars Empire.

    Next I will make K’uar being as local Fire Spirit - only not sure it should be 3 or 4 Rank spirit, for now.

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  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Maybe connect him to the missing body of Atilla, which was buried within a set of three metal coffins, under a river and the entire work crew slaughtered to keep the location safe. Then the warriors rode around to completely destroy the sod and prevent anyone from guessing the location for a hundred miles around.

    And after that? They engaged in a Hunnic civil war that so annoyed the vassal nomads that they got their tushes handed them and quickly faded to a rump state someplace around Crimea.

    So... WTF is Atilla? And why were they so damn scared of his dead body that they would not offer it to the sky? His treatment is the opposite of "ascending toward heaven." And these were his own sons who buried him....

    Is that a hook?

    --Khanwulf

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Fire of Truth

    Priest Bashtu All-Knowing is both Khazar shaman – and Fire-Touched Wolf-Blooded. He is driven to both fire and truth in his life. He found them in belief in K’uar – god of fire in Tengrism – that is also god of revelation. Priest even renamed the settlement to Kuaru, in the name of his diety.

    Bashtu wants to call the great Fire Spirit that he thinks is the K’uar in ephemera. If move to this – he IS ready to burn whole settlement in great sacrifice. But better would be living Essence from few Uratha in enemies settlement…

    Maybe you have some story hooks for Fire Priest? What, Khanwulf ?


    Originally posted by ’AN EXPLORATION OF KHAZARIAN SHAMANISM’
    History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movses Dasxuranc'i is a useful source of information on the religion of the North Caucasian Huns (who paid tribute to the Khazars and whose kaghan Alp had been given the title el-teber from a Khazar ruler), and we may assume as Mason does that "at the point in time in question, the usages of the Khazars must have closely approximated those of the Huns." Movses names the Hunnic deity T'angri Xan as a "wild, gigantic monster" and also refers to a deity called K'uar. The Huns sacrificed animals (including those struck by lightning) to K'uar. K'uar therefore is often considered to be the "heat" or "thunder" god. Trees were worshipped for the reason that they were believed to be connectors between earth and heaven. Climbing a tree meant ascending nearer to heaven. As part of funeral rites, the Huns would scar their faces and limbs, sword-fight, wrestle, gallop on horseback, and engage in similarly reckless activities.
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 04-03-2019, 12:51 AM.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Returning to topic as my players are coming to the Kuara - and maybe entering it in on next session. I look in to some story hooks players can do without killing everyone in settlement. Recalling that Bashtu is Fire-Touched Wolf-Blooded, I may dwell deep in to this Pure Tribe culture or story hooks. Some spirits will be need for them to interact with 'Fire-Touched-ness' of Khagan's priest, yes?
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 03-30-2019, 05:32 AM.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Kuaru ( circa 800 AD ) important persons

    In prepared stats for major NPCs in year 800 AD I use from page 143 CoD Rulebook mechanics for Brief Nightmares, even to lone NPCs - as they are easily to use in play and enough to model distinctive characters that do not need full stats. Instead of Dread Powers I gave them most important Merits and other powers suitable – Merits are used up to maximum possible dots, as they are not as good as one Dread Power they supplicate. Gave them also Virtues and Vices. Bashtu is Wolf-Blooded character, so using some mechanics from Werewolf: The Forsaken 2E corebook. In brackets I put the Horror Type each character use for this rules.

    Kundaj Terrible, Khagan ( Lone Terror )
    Virtue: Reasonable
    Vice: Arrogant
    Aspiration: To conquer as much region as possible

    Best Dicepool: 10 – Enforcing commands, Plan the battle, Show the might
    Worst Dicepool: 2 – Show emotions, Reason with lower from him
    All Other Pools: 5
    Merits & Powers:
    Common Sense (•••) ( Rolls Best Dicepool )
    Indomitable (••)
    Iron Will (••) – Uses All Other Pools instead of Resolve
    Small Unit Tactics (••)
    Staff (•••••) – Survival, Socialize, Weaponry, Enigmas, Brawl
    Status ( Khazar Empire - •••• )
    Trained Observer (••)
    Language – Native: Khazar, Foreign: Slavic
    Willpower: 10
    Health: 12
    Defense: 5 ( In armor: 4 )
    Speed: 10
    Initiative: +5
    Armor: Leather (hard) - 2/0 – Str: 2, Def: -1, Avab •
    Weapon: Sword – Dam: +3, Init: −3, Str: 2 Size: 3 Avab: •••



    Bashtu All-Knowing, High Priest – Wolf-Blooded ( Lone Terror )
    Tribe: Fire-Touched
    Virtue: Faithful
    Vice: Prideful
    Aspiration: To fulfill the will of gods

    Best Dicepool: 10 – Read the will of ‘gods’ ( spirits ), Raising the crowd, Performing rites
    Worst Dicepool: 2 – Lying, Ranged combat
    All Other Pools: 5
    Merits & Powers:
    Closed Book (••••)
    Eidetic Memory (••)
    Eye for the Strange (••)
    Holistic Awareness (•)
    Mystery Cult Initiation (•••••)
    Staff (•••) –Enigmas, Investigation, Survival
    Tells: Evil Eyes, Horse, Piercing Eyes
    Language – Native: Khazar, Foreign: Slavic, First Tongue
    Willpower: 9
    Health: 12
    Defense: 5
    Speed: 10
    Initiative: +5
    Armor: None ( priest vests ) - 0/0 – Str: 1 , Init: 0, Avab ••
    Weapons:
    Ceremonial knife ( Silver ) – Dam: +1, Init: −1, Str: 1 Size: 2 Avab: •••


    Tarkhan Cruel, Bek - i.e. War Leader ( Horde )
    Virtue: Brave
    Vice: Cruel
    Aspiration: To win each battle

    Best Dicepool: 7 – Close combat, Intimidate enemy, Track the prey
    Worst Dicepool: 1 – Debate, Being sensitive
    All Other Pools: 3
    Merits & Powers:
    Danger Sense (••)
    Fast Reflexes (••)
    Giant (•••)
    Status ( Khazar Empire - ••• )
    Language – Native: Khazar, Foreign: Slavic
    Willpower: 6
    Health: 10
    Defense: 3
    Speed: 12
    Initiative: +5
    Armor: Leather (hard) - 2/0 – Str: 2, Init: -1, Avab •
    Weapons:
    Sword – Dam: +3, Init: −3, Str: 2 Size: 3 Avab: •••
    Hatchet – Dam: +1, Init: −2, Str: 1 Size: 1 Avab: ••
    Short Bow – Dam: +2, Range: Medium, Init: −3, Str: 2 Size: 3 Avab: ••


    Any thoughts or comments on this guys are welcomed. Khanwulf , MhicWombat ?
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 12-03-2018, 06:58 PM.

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  • MhicWombat
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post

    You lived in times of circa 500 till 900 AD? 🤔
    Damn you, lack of Autocorrect!

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