A Duet Campaign for 5e
Starting in the summer of 2020, we began releasing serialized adventures from the Land of Vampires campaign. A year and a few months later, we’re getting ready to release the full duet campaign! Find out more about the Land of Vampires one-on-one campaign for levels 1-10 here!
In this post, we cover the peoples and places of Steymhorod—who is active in this land, and where might your PC want to go?
Spoiler alert! If you are going to be the player and not the GM for this campaign, please stop reading here! What follows is For GM Eyes Only!
Steymhorod’s Major Cities
There are three major cities in Steymhorod: Saint Sebastian, Barasov, and Rasonov. The Witchwood is home to the witches and their servitors, and the town of Willowhold rests inside the forest’s borders. The village Umbra sits at the base of Castle Cadogan; a pack of werewolves make their den at Wolf’s Head Peak, and a collection of fae and druids secretly dwell within the Green Vale. The desecrated temples to the Four Fane Sisters lie in the heart of each natural element—the mountains, the rivers, the forests, and the fields.
The walled city of Saint Sebastian is the first the adventurers are likely to come across upon their arrival in Steymhorod. The population of Saint Sebastian is aging rapidly, most of their young residents leaving to join the Ring of Light, a cult that surrounds the city walls, or traveling to the city of Barasov for greater excitement and opportunity.
The mayor of Saint Sebastian is an ancient human male named Sebastian. He maintains strict rules about who may or may not enter the city as well as who may remain after the gates are shut at dusk every night to protect the residents from the dangers beyond the walls.
The Ring of Light
A little over twenty years ago, a middle-aged, bald man with dark brown skin asked for admittance to Saint Sebastian after sundown. Sebastian refused, which was functionally a death sentence. Between the witches, wildlings, werewolves, and vampire spawn, the man would surely be devoured in the dark. The man sat in front of the gates, a lantern by his side.
Dawn rose the next day, and the man remained. He walked through the city streets, preaching a message of hope and light, of safety beyond the walls, so long as the residents remained in his care. Many joined him.
After the first year, a wave of refugees fled from Barasov to Saint Sebastian, and they too joined the Ring of Light. They built wooden shelters around the city, leaning them against Saint Sebastian’s sturdy walls.
Barasov is the largest, most developed city in all of Steymhorod. Though officially ruled by Lady Divine Odalyde, functionally, it is divided into three sections: that ruled by the nobles, the Bloodletters, and the Watchers. The nobility’s portion of the city is the wealthiest, and each of the five families has ties to either the Bloodletters or the Watchers.
A sharp line runs through the city between the Bloodletters’ and the Watchers’ territory. Residents pay for protection depending on which of the two sections they call home, though for the most part, the citizens of Barasov try to remain separate from the inter-guild conflicts.
Twenty years ago, the fighting between the two guilds intensified to the point that blood ran through the streets and many innocents died, caught in the crossfire. Those who could fled the city and made their way to Saint Sebastian and Willowhold.
A mysterious fog hangs over the minds of those who leave Barasov, slowly erasing their memories of the city, making recollection more difficult the longer they are away.
Not much is known of this city to the east of Drogo’s castle, but groups of hooded riders occasionally burst forth from its gates, quelling disturbances in the countryside before returning to their homes. No one in Barasov or Saint Sebastian has had contact with a citizen of Rasonov for several decades.
Nevertheless, several rumors persist about the place and its formidable walls. Some say that Rasonov is populated by sentient, isolationist ghouls. Others claim that Rasonov is the home of a mad wizard who protects incredible treasures in the labyrinth within the walls. The most improbable claim is that it is within Rasonov that resistance to Drogo’s dominion over Steymhorod gathers strength.
The Witchwood is a vast forest that spans the region of Steymhorod. Like all the lands of Steymhorod, the fall to the Shadowlands corrupted the wood and its residents. A single path, the Spindlewood Road, curls through the forest, connecting the vast woodland to the other elements of the region. The Witchwood is ever-expanding, slowly encroaching on neighboring cities and towns as well as the fields and rivers.
The small settlement of Willowhold sits in the middle of the Witchwood, its residents protecting themselves from the horrors of the forest as best as they’re able. So far, the residents have managed to beat back the ever-encroaching Witchwood and ward off the many horrors of the wild.
Lord Drogo and his son Cadogan live in Castle Cadogan, a towering structure built into the region’s tallest mountain, and the village of Umbra lies at the castle’s base. The vampire lord has few interactions with the villagers below, though they dwell always beneath the castle’s shadow.
Wolf’s Head Peak
Far to the north, a pack of werewolves have made their home in Wolf’s Head Peak. Their alphas, Tavion and Solane, have led the pack for the last decade, but a rogue member of their pack, Vicq, vies for power.
The Green Vale resides in the southern reaches of Steymhorod and is the sole remaining fae forest in the land. The first several acres of forest are disguised by a false Witchwood, but within its borders, a conclave of fae and druids remain in harmony with the land of Steymhorod. They are divided as to their responsibility to the rest of the land. Over the years, a few different groups have attempted to revive the Sisters’ Fanes while others have made pacts with the vampires, werewolves, or the witches.
While they would say that they are unaware of whether or not Lord Drogo knows of their whereabouts, the wisest among them would hold this as a certainty—when he destroyed the Sisters, Drogo became one with the land. He knows of all within its borders.
There are four fanes, or sacred sites of the Sisters. In Drogo’s rage at the Sisters’ betrayal, he destroyed the fanes, and the records of their locations were lost over time. Each Sister had a fane at the heart of her element: Diannan, the Forest Fane; Arduenne, the Mountain Fane, Eronia, the Field Fane; and Lena, the River Fane.
People Groups of Steymhorod
Steymhorod is a primarily human plane that is ruled by a vampire lord and also home to werewolves, witches, fae, and saudad.
Lord Drogo, the first vampire, created several others in the early throes of his immortality. His deal with Xarmev inflicted his son with his curse, and he passed the bloodline on to a few others, most notably his military commander Malthael and his chief political strategist, Hugo. All vampires remain under Drogo’s thrall and are connected to him on some level, but he cannot directly harm them, just as he cannot harm himself.
Drogo’s blood flows through the veins of all vampires. The further they are from the original, the weaker they are in their cursed state. There are two remaining vampires of the elder bloodline: Malthael and Hugo. Malthael’s servants are violent and bloodthirsty, wreaking havoc on the prime plane with large-scale slaughters. Hugo’s descendants are more conniving, selecting their targets with care and concocting intricate schemes to avoid detection.
Nassarq’s transformation occurred with the help of an ancient relic that he discovered from Xarmev’s servants. He directly imbibed Hugo’s blood, reviving the elder line and amassing great power to himself over a short period of time. Three vampires—Rodian, Olya, and Anya—owe their souls to Hugo, either through their transformations or on behalf of deals they made with him, and they are likewise bound to serve Nassarq, Hugo’s blood-reincarnation.
With Steymhorod’s fall, the curse of lycanthropy worsened in Steymhorod. The pack originally served Arduenne, the Fae goddess of the mountains, but without her presence, their wolf side was corrupted alongside all the native wolves of the region. They remain loyal to Arduenne, worshipping an aspect of her spirit, the Wolf Mother. Lycanthropy in Steymhorod cannot be healed save for the intervention—and therefore resurrection—of Arduenne herself.
Note: We suggest keeping this information concealed from your players until they are interacting with werewolves in the adventure. These altered curse rules are meant to help increase the threat of curses and diseases which lose a lot of their power with even low-level spellcasting. Being a cursed land, Steymhorod enhances these predicaments, but ultimately, this change is up to you as the GM.
The witches were once the devoted followers of Diannan, the leader of the Sisters and the Archfae ruler of the forest. When their fae goddess disappeared, the witches’ magic twisted, the spirits they called warped by shadow. Their desire to protect the Forest Fane remains, and they hunt trespassers through their lands, especially those who stray from the Spindle Path that winds through the woods, crossing rivers and valleys.
The witches hold sway over two other groups that roam the lands of Steymhorod as well: the wildlings and the wights. The wildlings roam the forests, hunting creatures and travelers alike. If called upon, they will do the witches’ bidding for a favor or a fee, though they are also willing to work for the vampires.
The wights travel in a mounted herd, roaming the fields between the forest and the city of Barasov in ghostly armor. Several rumors circulate through the lands as to the nature of their hunts, be they for food, vengeance, entertainment, or another cause. Their leader is missing her right hand, lost in a battle long ago.
Fae from both the Bright- and Shadowlands reside in the Green Vale, teaching a conclave of druids and green witches their ways. A few other fae roam the lands of Steymhorod in disguise, disrupting the habits of the other people groups save the saudad, for whom they have a fondness.
The saudad are interplanar travelers, displaced from the city of Orison after it was swallowed by the ocean as Reka’s sacrifice to Alessandra. A small enclave of saudad were traveling through Steymhorod when it fell into the Shadowlands, and they have been trapped ever since, unable to venture the multiverse. The saudad are storytellers and maintain much of the lore of old, down to when Lewellyn and Pandora brought the planes into existence. They travel freely across Drogo’s lands unhindered by vampires, his responsibility for their plight resulting in a rare moment of compassion on behalf of the vampire lord.
Their extensive cultural memory helps to protect them from the evils that walk the land as well. While many of the townsfolk and those hiding behind the walls of Steymhorod’s cities remain unaware of how to protect themselves from the wandering undead, witches, and werewolves, the saudad remember, passing the knowledge down through generations. Their leaders have ties to the Sisters, and many saudad have a close relationship with the natural world as keepers of her stories.
Where can I find more?
We’ll release this campaign, and its setup materials, in serial, so that you can play along as we create the adventures! The adventures will coincide with the monthly one-shot adventures on our patreon, where we’ll also be sharing PDFs of the adventures, setting details, character backstories, etc.
After we’ve finished creating the campaign, we’ll compile everything and share it with our patrons as well as offer it for sale here on our site! We hope you find these posts interesting and helpful! Even if you’re not ready to play along, we want to provide practical examples for settings, NPCs, villains, arcs, scaling encounters, and collaborative worldbuilding.
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