City of Ravenna, Capital of the Vyzantinian Empire (5e Campaign Setting)
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City of Ravenna
(The city of Ravenna is fantasy analog on the medieval capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, so many of the similar locations and features can be found by using a map of Constaninople.)
A vast city that is the center of a potent but heartless Empire somewhere adrift in the domains of dread but during the great planar conjunction this subcontinent of Vyzantina can be found in other dimensions such as the world of Toril or Greyhawk. It is said that Ravenna is a city ruled by a potent Oligarchy of Vampires known as the "Hand of Ahriman" but this has never been confirmed. Heroes are hired frequently to hunt down shapeshifters, undead, vampire spawn and alchemical monstrosities and they are paid well for these extremely dangerous jobs from the various noble houses and merchants guilds of the great city. During the day Ravenna is a glorious city, of well groomed ivy and flowers growing from every home, garden and church but at night the mist from the Sea of Grozny comes spilling in and the doors are quickly shut, the superstitious people quickly pray to Mithras the martyr and the Saints. It is said monsters disguised as people wander these mist covered streets to feed upon the urchins and outcasts.
The city of Ravenna is a walled peninsula that juts into the sea of Grozny in the great bay of Nikea. Several Islands are part of the city and the city itself has several canals that gondolas traverse to deliver goods and passengers between the city districts and Islands. The Bay of Nikea is well fortified in a great straight and surronded by several shoals and Islands so ships find safe place to anchor at night, storms rarely make there way into the greay bay and even when they do the chain of islands and shoals break up any strong waves.
The city of Ravenna has a population of a ten million people and in turn is split into various districts ruled by both a noble house and a local house of commons. The Emperor sits in his Palace at the Acropolis near the Hippodrome far eastern area of Ravenna near the naval harbors. From there the Emperor has his council with his generals and senators to discuss laws, taxes, tariffs and so forth. The day to day operation of the city is left to the Senate at the Capital which is at the center of Ravenna, the Senate is split into two houses, the house of Lords and the house of commons. The head generals of the Army are stationed at the Western Citadels directly behind three great walls of Ravenna while the Admirals can be found in the bay of Nikea in their fortress ships to the South east.
The Great Amphitheaters are located to the direct south in the city of Ravenna and the Actors guilds are located in that location this in turn is also directly nearby the Imperial marketplace which is directly below the amphitheaters. The Marketplaces in turn are directly connected to the cannals and ancient harbors. Directly east is the Great Ivory Cathedral which the masses attends to on sundays for service.
The Islands in the East are either fishing islands, where clans of fishermen gather fish and shellfish to sell in the market or the Islands are ruled by noble house with great vineyards and palatial manors from the earlier times before Ravenna and the Vyzantinian empire formed.
It is said the Ravenna is filled with catacombs that various criminal syndicates use as well as monstrous creatures hide in.
Campaign Setting Information
All Classes from the PHB are allowed as well as most classes from Unearthed Arcana (ask DM for permission) since this campaign setting is gothic in nature "Noir" variants of character classes are encouraged such as death domain clerics, vengeance paladins, Assassins, Twilight Druids, Blood Cultists, Warlocks (Infernal of Eldritch) etc.
Sanguine Domain Cleric, Numerologist Wizards, Abomination Barbarians, Tyrant Paladins, Inquistor Rangers...etc.
Feel free to add character classes from more Noir novels such as the Abhorsen from Garth Nix's Novel by the same name.
There is also the Mistborn with their numerous powers over metal via Allomancy.
Finally of course is the Witcher, who compliments this setting amazingly well.
Humans are common as are half elves and half orcs. Dwarves, elves, gnomes and halfings are rather uncommon and Tieflings and Dragonborn are very Rare. Dhampir are a race of human hybrids as are lycans.
Zhumerian Dwarves: +2 Con, +2 Int. Darkvision 120 feet. Profiency with Tools. Magic Resistance.
All standard gear and mounts from Players handbook is available Players can acquire Naffatun (fire grenades) and Pyrosiphons (Flamethrowers) as well as ships of different size and caliber
World of Ravenna (Vyzantina)
The City of Ravenna is split into the Aristocratic houses, the wealthy gentry who own the merchant guilds, the artisans and merchants who officially make up the "middle class" but who suffer from debt and constant labor and finally the plebians who are the underclass, farmers and laborers.
The Emperor is generally the mediator between powerful Aristocratic Houses as is the Church.
In the poorest districts is the laborers, farmer-merchants and servants. Several of them have fallen into homelessness due to alcoholism and addictive drugs like lotus and fire salts. Also among the Warrens and ghettos live various demihumans like elves and dwarves due to the fact that the banks will not offer a loan to build any new buildings or any loan must be taken by an aristocrat who has joint control with a merchant. The Aristocrats never openly admit this though and offer lip service of how "egalitarian" Ravenna is. For all that talk, rent is extremely expensive and so is taxes which keeps the laborers and demihumans perpetually poor or they have to shackle a large amount of debt from the banks simply to go to a guild college to find a more lucrative career.
There was a time that came before the Vyzantinian empire, an age were men were but simple beastial creatures and a great dwarven empire of the blue skinned Zumerian dwarves built all manner of Artifacts and technological marvels. The Zumerian Dwarves ruled over Humanity and used them as simple beasts of burden until the first Vyzantine Emperor, Herakles led his massive slave armies in rebellion with the aid of the great Angels led by the Supreme Celestial Mithras. Herakles was victorious and dedicated his entire empire to worshipping Zenithar and Mithras as his Avatar. In the Steppes of the East are the great hordes of the Turkhans and the Astrakhans and they worship their ancestral dieties. The people of the Ummayad Sulinate and the Quajjari Sulinate have a very similar religion to the Church of Sanguineous but they have some fundamental differences in beliefs about Mithras, his traitors turned apostles (they still see them as traitors who masquerade as saviors) and the Emperor Herakles as the first convert to Church of Sanguineous.
Officially the church of Sanguineous is said to worship the Martyr Angel known as Mithras who was slain by his own Angelic followers who betrayed him yet he forgave them which prompted them to flee from the Diamond throne of heaven where the great Zenithar; The All-maker god who crafted reality during the great singularity birth of the Cosmos, sleeps as a fetus within the vast Diamond palace throne room within the very floors of the palace itself. These traitor Arch-Angels repented for their sins and made their way down to the physical empire of the Vyzantinian people and atoned for their cardinal sins, five great houses were forged to record the gospels of these Archangles and they buried them in vast crystal sarcophagi. The dying Mithras forgave these angels and with the help of their followers were able to banish the legions of Nyx, the great shadow dragon, back into the swirling maelstrom of the nether realms. Some speculate that the Church is actually a front for something far more sinister and corrupt but none can confirm nor question them when they offer food, water and healing to the masses. The Church is said to own several orphanages to help the outcast children from the poor districts.
There are others who worship the Russ and Slavar pantheons but they are generally frowned upon and seen as backwards. The Demihumans have their own ancestor worship but their religions are also seen as quaint or simpleminded by the aristocrats of Ravenna.
Dungeon Master's Guide
Many of the monsters in the standard monster manual can be found in this setting as well as from any other supplementary books. Undead, shapeshifters, golems, monstrosities, Fiends, Celestials, beast and celestials would definitely be the most common. Giants, Dragons and Aberrations would be quite rare. Upgraded variants of Monstrosities, Vampires, Undead and Shapeshifters would be quite common as well as evil humanoid soldiers, assassins and cultists. Winged Vampire Spawn, Quill covered Werewolves, Ghouls who can turn to mist, Giant psionic Toads, Poison spitting giant Cockatrices, spider climbing hell hounds who explode on death...etc.
The Oligarchies, Aristocratic Houses and Trade Cartels are all polite and speak about egalitarianism but anyone realizes that this is all lip service to sound accepting and tolerant. they are the worse type of elitist classists and they create various unfair laws and zoning discrimination to keep the impoverished, minorities and demihumans in ghettos. If these elite organizations cannot keep a free merchant down then they might use the services of the blackhand to sabotage their business or drive said merchants into debt. Philosophical and religious leaders who are outside of the official Church of Sanguineous are routinely harassed and beaten by thugs from the secretive Blackhand or sometimes even accused of heresy and imprisoned to vanish. If the underclass even wander into the wrong neighborhood they will suddenly get persecuted by the Tagmata Guard or even attacked by bandit gangs. The Tagmata are the basic city guard and they are known to basically only police the merchant and aristocratic quarters of the cities and only half heartedly protect the poor harbor districts... or they abuse their power for "services" from the impoverished locals.
Free Merchants: The Free Merchants are the poor farmers, fishermen, laborers, woodsmen, hunters, book writers, apothecaries, prostitute guilds, carpenters, teachers, brewers, masons, ship wrights, black smiths, glass blowers and port guard who protect the poor non guild merchants, the outcasts, the working class especially the farmers and laborers at the port ghettos. They have contacts that dwell in the catacombs. They are located in the market street outside of the Walls of Constantine.
Vampire Anarchists/Crimson Sabbath: In the catacombs this is an organization of outcast vampire spawn who have achieved a level of humanity, dhampirs, lycans, vistani and working poor and street gangs who want to protect their community from the Blackhand Cartel and the monstrous accursed. The Movement is led by Arch-Cathar Sebastian Sanguineous Demihumans can be found working within this organization. aka Ze Unterklass/Le Cathars and they are located in the catacombs beneath the market streets outside of the walls of Constantine.
The Blackhand/Clan Moloch: A powerful Vampire-human network involved in organized crime, saboutage, assassinations, kidnapping, extorsion not only directed at the poor but between the powerful Aristocratic Houses and their merchant guilds. Some low level Vampires who have been cast out of their clans and several Accursed Vampires find work and shelter within this syndicate found deep in the catacombs beneath the city. Demihumans are enslaved by this organization and used as indentured servants and expendable agents. It is said the the Blackhand were once an official house but this is all rumor and speculation, strangely enough they have a great connection to House Ishtar. There is some speculation that the Hippodrome is sometimes saboutaged by the Blackhand but that is neither here nor there. aka Ze Dammerung and they are located in the catacombs below the Grand Bazaar between the Forum of Theodosius and Constantine.
Clan Ur-Baal/Haus Rotterhammar: The Aristocratic House of Warriors, they use their martial might to "protect" the empire of Vyzantia and the Capital of Ravenna. They control the Armory Guild who produce the finest Arms, Armour, jewelry, Siege Engines, tools and other metallic goods. House Ur-Baal owns a one of the Western Citadels near the Trinity wall. Several Dwarves are kept in their Guild forges as indentured servants to craft their fine arms and armor. They also own a vast stable where their warhorses are trained and sometimes compete at the Hippodrome. Haus Rotterhammar and they are located at the Great Walls of Theodosius.
Clan Zhargon/Haus Zaubervald: The Aristocratic House of Scholars, masters of learning. They control the great University on the nearby penisula of Galata. These Scholars are said to be so well learned that they even have mastered the ways of magic and they have a great dungeon filled with all manner of magical horrors and artifacts below their great University. The House of Scholars officially denies any involvement with the occult and they say they simply practice a secular enlightenment at their various fraternal orders and that human sacrifice to malignant beings is but hurtful slander spread by the other houses. The Apothecaries Guild belongs to House Zhargon and are said to secretly be brewing the drugs "Lotus" and "Firesalt.
Clan Ishtar/Haus Silberblud: The Aristocratic House of Actors and senators, known to speak from both sides of their mouth they run the great Amphitheater, the Hippodrome and the Acropolis with their various Actors guilds. This noble House is led by Archduke Henrick Von Silverblut. They also make a fantastical fortune from their domination of the houses of prostitution they run (generally with washed up actors who have become addicted to strong spirits, Crimson lotus or Loca powder)... Rumors say that there are some among Clan Ishtar that can change a persons face, gender or even race. House Ishtar is said to dominate the Merchant's Bank of Ravenna.
Clan Nurghaal/Haus Schwarzerschild: The Aristocratic House that trains clergy into the church of Sanguineous aka the Haiga Sophia, they also bury the dead and heal the living with their esteemed house of apothecaries. House Nurghaal is said to hold expensive but official services for the great aristocratic houses and even the Emperor and his entourage. There is some speculation that House Nurghaal dabbles in dark rights of cannibalism and necromancy...binding the dead to slavery. Again this is most likely hurtful slander. House Nurghaal is said to also dominate the Mason's Bank of Ravenna.
Tagmata Guard: The Tagmata Guard is the Imperial soldiers of the Vyzantine empire and they range from the simple foot soldiers in the Tagmata battalions, to the Cataphract lancers in the cavalry, the Archers who serve in the navy, the artificers who craft flame spewing pyrosiphons and naffatun bombs as well as siege engines, even the legendary Varangjar Guard who are said to be handpicked by the emperor from the most powerful and fearsome Russ mercenaries and that they can even rise from the dead in battle. Ferrus Custodes
The Church of Sanguineous: The Church of Sanguineous is said to be tolerant of other religions and that they promote all faiths, they are said to be welcoming of all walks of life. Their priests are trained in the domains of healing and burial of the dead. Ossus Sanctus
The Inconnu : A Secret organization made up of vampires, dhampir and mortals who watch the Anarchists and Noble Houses as well as keeping their influences in balance. Occulus Incognito
Jagatai Khan and the Horde of Astrakhan: A Horde of warriors from the central eastern steppes who are slowly advancing towards Ravenna.
Quajjari Viziers: the Embassy from the Quajjari Sultinate, ruled by several Magi Sultans. They come on peaceful terms but have their scouts and spies in almost every corner of the city.
Tribe of Dazhog: a Vicious gang of wereboars and werewolves that control the Port district and control the trade of "Lotus" and "Firesalt" which are two common drugs used among the poor and rich.
Tribe of Charnylbolg: a Sadistic gang of werewolves that live near the Western walls, they capture impoverished men, women and children and sell them as slaves to anyone. They are known to secretly pay a visit to anyone who owes a great debt in the city of Ravenna. They prowl the market streets at night and the nearby ghettos and ethnic quarters.
Tribe of Perun: are a pack of marauders and bandits that live in the catacombs, rising up at night to loot metal goods and forge them into weapons. They are a mixed pack of wererats and werewolves, even some werebears. The Tribe of Perun is known to be the most reasonable of Bandit Clans and their services can be purchased for a price. The Tribe of Perun is located near the Ancient Port.
Tribe of Veles: A Pack of Wereravens that roost in the tall buildings like the acropolis and Haiga Sophia, they come down to steal food and shiny baubles from the Port of Ancients, the Market Street and the Grand Bazaar.
Standard treasure can be found from players handbook or DM guide. Some Powerful items can be found like the Hammer of Dazhog, the Battle Axe of Perun, The Sword of Ur-Baal, The Staff of Zhargon and the Chalice of Nurghaal.
There is the soul-devouring ghostfire jack o' lantern. This item is very coveted by nearly all magic users both high magick and hedge magick practitioners. Ghostfire Jack O' Lantern
The vicious sacrificial dagger can bring health or ruin. Sacrificial Dagger
The haunting and spectral Corpsefat Candle, which when lit with green balefire, can see into the shadowy domain of the dead. Corpsefat Candle
The grim pyre-bone staff has power over the dead but truly shines when combined with corpsefat candles and ghostfire jack o' lanterns... with an animal sacrifice during the full moon these three items will transform into the mighty artifact known as the Staff of Samhain. Pyre-bone Staff
The mighty but temporary Staff of Samhain a legendary artifact that is created from the bloody sacrifice of an animal and combining three lesser artifacts during the full moon. But when the next full moon arises the potent staff crumbles to dust. Staff of Samhain
The Ansuz runestone with its powers over air. Ansuz Runestone
The Eihwaz runestone with its powers over earth. Eihwaz Runestone
The Isaz runestone with its powers over ice. Isaz Runestone
The Kaunan runestone with its powers over fire. Kaunan Runestone
The potent runic weapons which can grow more powerful the more runes are placed in them! Runic Weapon
The durable runic armor of the Russ and Varangjar warriors from the Far North. Runic Armor
The elder runic staves crafted by the Elven foes of the Northmen. Runic Staff
Variant rules are up to the DM, but generally should be used to compliment the immersion of the setting. spell points instead of spell slots can be a fun addition to the game especially if using an online gaming platform like roll 20.
Combat Stamina (5e Variant Rule)
low level adventures should have the players hunting down monsters and bandit gangs in the catacombs of the city and possibly discovering the Vampire Anarchists (Clanless vampires who want to throw down the Vampire Clan Oligarchy). Medium to Higher level adventures should have the players investigating the Necropolii of the Aristocratic Houses as well as the Hidden Zhumerian Dwarven ruins below the catacombs. Another option is to finally smash the secretive black hand cartel (an organization of assassins, thieves, criminals that saboutage the poor and working class business and kill any radical political leaders among the underclass) Exploring the Island of the University of Knossos and their various laboratories and dungeons should be reserved the medium to higher level heroes as well as possibly finding the Arch-Malfeans (Similar to Liches or high power Celestials) of the Vampiric Clans which can be found under some famous locations like the Ivory Cathedral, the Emperor's Palace, The Western Citadels, The Amphitheater, The Hippodrome, the Acropolies and the University of Knossos and so forth.
Interestingly enough the players could hold an evil campaign where they are now retainers for the noble houses and are organized as an elite division of Justicars who investigate the dark hand, help eliminate the Anarchists, defend Ravenna from Jhagati Khan and investigate the Inconnu.
The Alchemist Stephan Radunowski (5e Quest)
Volkensteiner's Abomination (5e Quest)
The Black Sabbath on Bald Mountain (5e Quest)
regular schmegular tables from PHB and DMG.
Discourage the players to create mix maxed multiclassed character to simply break the game for munchkin purposes, do encourage players and DM's to try more experimental subclasses for classes and the possibility of players going through weird experimental Vicissitudes/metamorphosis to change classes, subclasses. Murderhobos can be dealt with by imperial assassins, archmagi and powerful Varangian Gaurds (higher level berserkers in full plate) or even powerful Vampiric Templars and Arch-Magi.
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