Monday, November 28, 2016

The Village of Lazarevo

This village is the initial setting for the Lukomorye campaign - a Fantasy Russia game using a variant of D&D 5e rules that we started this past Saturday. On the surface, the village appears relatively mundane, but as time will show, not everything is as it seems.

The village of Lazarevo stands at the confluence of two rivers – the Vydra and the Rys’. It is built on the site of an older village called Trofimka, which was destroyed in a raid by the Kochmaki two generations ago. On his deathbed, the boyar owner of the old village - Taras Trofimov – willed his holding to the Church, though his family still maintains a household in the region.
Having gained control of this key strategic point, the diocese set up a new abbey on an island located at the confluence. The bishop called Yaakov, a hermit who lived in the woods north of the Vydra, to become the monastery’s hegumen. Yaakov was born to one of the victims of the Kochmak raid in old Trofimka, but his mother died a few years after his birth, and the orphan lived in the woods before becoming ordained as a hieromonk. The new monastery was dedicated to the martyr saints Lazar’ and Liudmila – two sibling princes who suffered at the hands of their evil brother, but refused to take up the sword against him. The newly rebuilt village was named after the monastery.
Since taking up the leadership of the new abbey, Yaakov has been able to attract many of Trofimka’s refugees, and other local peasants to Lazarevo, and the village has grown to around 500 people. The new hegumen has proved to be an effective administrator, and has also developed a reputation as a great healer, and draws in supplicants from far and wide. Further, the strategic importance of the village, near a ford, and on the route between two powerful neighboring states – the Dominion of Great Krinets, and the Principality of Kliakva - has not escaped the Kochmaki, who set up a waystation for their messenger service – the Yam – at the heart of the village. Two taverns – one administered by the monastery, the other – by the village commune of yeoman farmers, also stand opposite the waystation.  
A sizeable number of local residents are Kuz’ – descendants of the original hunting tribes that populated the region before the Noriki migrated there in recent centuries. Most of this population has now converted to the True Confession, but even those who have keep some of their old heathen ways and beliefs alive. Some of the elders say that the confluence of the rivers was a sacred ground to the old gods, and that they still walk around the region, in disguise. Some also say that in a bygone age, the region used to be heavily populated by monstrous giants and serpents, and that they still lie beneath the earth, waiting to return. Needless to say, the Church discourages such talk in the strongest manner.

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