The Border Princedom of Dolgany

Location of Dolgany

Dolgany is a triangle formed by the Black Mountains, the World's Edge Mountains, and a line running from the vicinity of Mad Dog Pass in the World's Edge Mountains to the "N" in "Black Mountains." This is the line formed by the Karpath Hills, which are not shown on the map because they are not nearly as impressive as the other mountains shown. However, given that they are largely cliffs and bluffs, ranging up to fifty feet tall, separating the plain of Dolgany itself from the rest of the Border Princedoms, they are an effective barrier to armies. There are a few passes through the Hills, and they are well-guarded on both sides.

The Founding and History of Dolgany

During the age of the three emperors, a great civil war eonvulsed the nomadic Dolgan tribes, to the east of what is now Kislev. This was before the rise of the Hobgoblin Hegemony, but the results of the civil war weakened the Dolgan nation and indirectly influenced the rise of the Hegemony. Many Hobgoblin slaves escaped their Dolgan masters during the wars and returned to their people, bringing the higher nomadic civilization of the Dolgans to what had been fairly-standard Hobgoblins and Goblins.

At the end of the war, the defeated faction refused to submit to the victors. Being nomadic, they could leave easily. They packed their possessions aboard their wagons, struck their yurts and herded along their finest bloodstock as they set out, looking for a new homeland under the leadership of their revered king, Etzel.

At this time, Kislev was not a nation in its own right; the passing of the Dolgans has been said to be what set off the Gospodar invasions. Since the Empire itself was weak and fragmented, the Dolgans had little trouble entering, but after suffering several defeats in the southern Empire, they were driven across the Black Mountains into the area now known as the Border Princes.

King Etzel, who had led his people from the steppe, was the only one who seemed to know where they were going. By this time, the Dolgans were much poorer than they had been when they set out; several Dwarven clans had charged huge tolls to let the Dolgans through their well-guarded passes, and defeat had also taken a dreadful toll. The survivors of the Dolgans were tough, wary, and honed to a murderously fine edge.

Once through the perilous Black Mountains, the Dolgans found themselves on a large plateau betwen the Black Mountains themselves and a line of very rough, rocky hills that almost, but not quite, qualified as mountains---the Karpath Hills, inhabited by sevral prosperous Gnomic communities. It was very like their long-gone homeland, except for being inhabited by scagttered settlements of farming folk whose feeble attempts to defend themselves were swatted aside easily by the Dolgans.

Even in such a paradise, the Dolgan urge to wander was strong. They would have eventually moved on, had King Etzel not told them that this was their destined homeland. Apparently, the nightr before they set out from the steppe, he had had a vision of a white stag, and the white stag had told him that he would eventually lead his people to a place where they would all be noble and rich, ruling over peassants and farming folk. The white stag had appeared to him in his dreams ever since, guiding him when he did not know what to do next.

Secretly glad of a good excuse to settle down, the Dolgans took control of their new homeland. Over the centuries, the Dolgans leaarned much from their subjects and from neighbouring peoples. Since their subjects' languages varied greatly, sometimes from village to village, the Dolgan language eventually became the main speech of the new Princedom of Dolgany. As the Dolgans learned from their subjects, their subjects learned from them, adopting their riding skills as their bloodlines mixed. Today, almost any Dolganian (as they are now called to distinguish them from the Dolgans of the Steppe) has Ride--Horse and Trick Riding skills.

Eventually, the Dolgan nobility forsook much of their former nomad culture, settling in towns and castles such as other folk used, but they kept up their cavalry tradition. Unlike other countries, the armies of Dolgany are almost all horse-mounted archers; the high nobility and royalty wear plate armour more as a mark of status and rank than for protection, and the common soldiers are content with leather. Intermarriage and concubinage also changed the Dolgans into Dolganians; today they are physically almost indistinguishable from other Old Worlders, with only occasional high cheek bones or slanted eyes whispering of nomad heritage.

The Dolganians love their plateau homeland, but have never seen why they should content themselves with it alone; they have invaded the southern Empire several times in the past and their quarrel with the Dual Principality of Waldovia-Molachia over the regioon of Transmontaina bids fair to go on forever.

They have fought frequently with the goblinoid bands that spill over into the Border Princedoms from the Bad Lands, even making common cause with Waldovia-Molachia when things looked bad. Several combined armies from Switzer, Waldovia-Molachia and Dolgany have penetrated deep into the Bad Lands to teach the gobbos a lesson and possibly recover Skull Crusher and Lead Belcher, and between the sturdy Switzser infantry, the Dolganian light cavalry and the Waldovia-Molachian heavy cavalry and infantry, the gobbos have learned to fear provoking this response.

The Dolgany of Today

Today, the Dolganians are best-known for their high quality cavalry; Dolganian mercenary cavalry units are in demand throughout the Old World, and individuals from Dolgany can always get work related to horses. They are also known for their spicy native cuisine; a good Dolganian restuarant with spicy goulash and good Tokay wine is guaranteed patronage anywhere, partciularly if the wild fiddle m usic and dancing brought by the original Dolgan conquerors is also featured. Other exports include high-quality breeding stock (horses, sheep, goats, cattle), leather goods, and the famous _paprika_ spice that will grow nowher else.

Dolgany is ruled by _Kiraly_ (King, Prince) Stefan II, of the line of Etzel-Wittelsbach, from his capital town of Byda. The original clansmen who followed Etzel and the White Stag are memorialized in the names of the noble clans; typical examples of clan names are Gyurmek (children of) Bela, Gyurmek Laszlo, and Fiu (son of )Imre.

By now, the majority of the people speak Dolgan. The major exceptions are most of the Transmontanian peasants, who speak Tilremian, and a large Reikspiel-speaking business class. Although most of theupper classes speak Reikspiel and other Old World languages, they are very proud of their own difficult language, which has changed little from steppe days. Dolganian interpreters are in demand among those who must deal with the Dolgans themselves.

A generation or so after their sttlement, the Dolgans abandoned the worship of their steppe spirits. Embassies into the Empire and other countries brought back tales of the wonders of their temples and the powers of their priests; compared with the Grand Temple to Sigmar in Altdorf or the great Temple in Middenheim, the Dolgans' own native spirits seemed poor things indeed. Today, the Dolganians mostly worship as do other Old Wolders; the Old Fairh is strong among the peasants. Worshipping the Chaos Gods is punished according to old steppe law; the offender is tied between four horses and pulled in foru different directions in honour of his worship of chaos.

There were and are nnonhumans in Dolgany; some of the villages existing in the Dolganian platuau when the Dolgans first got there were Halflings, while Gnomes were in the Karpath Hills, and elves were in the forests here and there. Dwarves are rather rare, being mostly exiles from the Empire or the lost dwarven cities in the mountains. Much of the place in society that Dwarves fill in the Empire is taken by Gnomes.

Some of the goblinoid incursions left traces behind; the forests of Transmontaina and the lonelier parts of the ruggesd Karpath Hills have evil reputation, due both to goblin and orc infestation and mutatnts.

Adventuring in Dolgany

Characters could end up in Dolgany for any of a number of reasons; they could hire on as guards and workers for a caravan heading there to trade goods for sheep, cattle and horses, be sent there as emissaries or spies, or just head there to see what is to be seen in the immemorial tradition of footloose adventurers.

Once there, they could hire out to a noble clan feuding with its neighbors, offer their services as gobbo-eradicators to people plagued with those pesky green things, or deal with greater dangers. The Karpath Hills and Transmontania areas in particular are known for a high concentration of lycanthropes, and are also the homes of several well-known Vampires. Chaos cultists, as elsewhere, also provide interesting opponents.

Border Princedoms Personalities

Prince Waldemar III of the Dual Princedom of Waldovia-Molachia

Catchphrases: "Would you like to remove that hat in our presence, or would you prefer to have it nailed to your head?" and "No HONEST person need fear our justice; DISHONEST ones, on the other hand..."

Waldemar III, Prince of Waldavia and Molachia, is a person who produces an unanimous opinion among all those of whom he disapproves: They are scared to death of him. He has never heard of Judge Dredd, but would consider the famous lawman of Mega CIty One a bit of a slacker.

He led an interesting life before ascending to his fathers' throne. Due to upheaval, he fled as a young Noble and took refuge in the Empire, becoming a Free Lance and Templar Knight for brief periods and finally ended up as the protege of a feared Witch Hunter, Boris Shelepin of Kislev.

Several years of this terrible apprenticeship honed young Waldemar to a fine edge, and when his master retired and gave him the Jewel of Truth, he felt it was time to go home. Penetrating into the Princedom of Waldovia without being recognized, he gathered his forces and struck by surprise, ambushing his enemies at a celebration by posing as guests.

Once on the throne, Waldemar turned his attention to eliminating the crime and banditry that made people reluctant to visit his Princedoms. When he was done, after several yers, he had things under complete control, and bandits and thieves were all but extinct. Before his reign, the saying was "IN Waldovia the thieves would steal the sh*t from under a squatting dog; in Molachia they are not so inhibited!" Nowadays, as a boast of his accomplishment, he has had gold cups put out for common use at village wells, knowing that nobody would dare to take them.

In his campaigns, he has been aided by the Jewel of Truth that his master left him. Put simply, the wearer of this rare article KNOWS for sure whether anybody speaking to him is lying; it has also been called the Friend of Beauty, for its obvious use by beautiful, rich women to weed out fortune hunters. The only way to fool the jewel is to believe what you are saying; in one famous case, a madman claiming to be Magnus the Pious was questioned by the then wearer, and the Jewel reported that he was telling the truth!

Today, nobody who is confident in his case is afraid to go to the Prince for justice, while those who are trying to pull fast ones are very reluctant. As befits a former Witch Hunter, his justice is very short, sharp and severe. He has made merchants who expressed fear of thieves in his presence leave their goods overnight in the poorest streets of Brasov of Tirgoviste, to see the expressions on their faces in the morning when nothing was missing!

Countess Erszebete Cjesthe

Catchphrases: "Darrling! SO glad to see you!" and "You wouldn't deny a poor, lonely woman a few teentsy weentsy pleasures, would you, sweetie?"

Countess Erszebete Cjesthe, chatelaine and owner of Cjesthe Castle, is one of the most important nobles in Dolgany. Her castle, perched on a forbidding crag, overlooks Cjesthe Pass, one of the best routes into Transmontania from Dolgany. She is a cousin of King Stefan II of Dolgany, and is related to many nobles on both sides of the current Dolganian/Transmontanian border.

However, despite undeniable beauty and charm, she is one of the least-liked, most feared nobles in the entire Border Princes' area. Her castle couldn't have a worse reputation if it were the Palace of Nurgle, and its commanding position over Cjesthe Pass means that anybody with sense takes one of the lesser-known, rougher passes into or out of Transmontania. Even the other Dolganian nobles, although they are infamously harsh masters and mistresses of their own holdings, regard Erszebete with loathing.

She has always had evil rumors surrounding her. She has married three times, to Dolganian and Waldovian nobles. Her first husband died, ostensibly of a fever; the rumor was that he was poisoned. Her second husband died after an illness, in which she put it about that he had injured himself in a fit of madness. Under interrogation by her late second husband's relatives, a captured servitor deponed that Erszebete had had him tortured and smothered, and concocted the story of madness to explain the marks on the body. Husband number three disappeared---and a room in Cjesthe Castle was reported to have been locked forever. One of Erszebete's favorite pastimes as a younger noblewoman was to ride through her county at night, in disguise; anybody whose conduct, face or whatever displeased her she would whip to within an inch of his or her life.

Lately, though, rumors have gotten much worse. Noble families who sent their daughters to Cjesthe Castle to learn the arts of being a fine noblewoman from this well-connected, beautiful widow compared notes, and the mortality rate from "deadly fevers," "falls from the battlements," and "riding accidents" was out of all expectations. The peasants have long complained of disappearances from the area around the castle, and have reported finding exsanguinated corpses in the woods. Several mass graves have also been reported to be unearthed by accident, to be hurriedly filled in when the countess' men came on the scene. Other disappearances have included itenerant peddlers, merchants' guards and servants, and even some well-armed adventurers.

The reason for this is very simple: In an eternal quest for youth and beauty, coupled with a taste for cruelty to her underlings, Countess Erszebete noticed one day that the blood of others, applied to her skin, made her seem more youthful. (GM's note: This effect is real, and granted by Khorne in recognition of her cruelty, in order to draw her further along toward him.) At first, Erszebete confined her activities to non-fatal bleeding of servants and offenders, but soon her boldness grew and grew. Finally, it even encompassed the hapless noble girls in her care, who found themselves naked in her dungeons, tortured and bled for Madame's amusement and "beauty treatments." When one of these girls managed to escape by seducing a guard, clubbing him while he slept, and walking out in his clothes, the hysterical reports of her peasants were confirmed in a way that even the Dolganian aristocracy could not easily ignore.

Unfortunately, Castle Cjesthe's position on the Dolganian border with the Waldovia-Molachian province of Transmontania makes proceeding against Erszebete very difficult. Not only is Cjesthe Castle almost impregnable in itself, but any massing of Dolganian forces in the area would be taken by Waldemar of Waldovia-Molachia as a signal of an impending invasion. Also, despite being Dolganian herself, Erszebete would not hesitate to ask for Waldovia-Molachian help in the event of a siege, since she is fully aware of the strategic value of her castle. These days, she never leaves her castle for any reason, because her dependence on her "beauty treatments" has increased markedly, and rumour has it that she has begun to _change._ Confident in her impregnable position, Erszebete has also taken to openly worshipping Chaos, and has even financed an expedition to the ruined Castle Drachenfels, hoping to find any of Drachenfels' books or magic items that might help her. She has become quite an admirer of Constant Drachenfels because of his long life and utter defiance of what others wanted him to do, and has even sworn to bring his killers to "justice."

Stefan of Dolgany is currently in the middle of negotiations with Waldemar of Waldovia-Molachia, to mount a joint expedition against his evil cousin. Waldemar is extremely interested, partly because many of the peasants Erszabete has had kidnapped came from his side of the border, and partly because as long as Cjesthe Castle has such a well-deserved evil reputation, trade with the outside world will be severely restricted. Other reasons for him to want to put down Countess Erszebete include the fact that many of "her own" peasants are Tilremian speakers, and he considers himself the rightful protector of all Tilremian speakers everywhere; and last but never least, one of her ill-fated husbands was a cousin of his.

Adventurers might well find a niche for themselves in this situation. Both rulers would pay very well for up-to-date information from within County Cjesthe. Anybody actually able to infiltrate the Castle, whether to spy out the defenses, subvert Countess Erszebete's soldiers, or rescue some of her "blood cattle," could be well-rewarded.

(Note: All of this is based on actual history. For the most part, I used the real-life story of Countess Elisabeth Bathory of Hungary, but some touches I took from the stories about the woman who built "Rose Hall" in Jamaica. )

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