Narva-Jõesuu (EE)/ Ust-Narova (RU)
1- As the ship takes you closer and disembarks you on a small skiff, you are rowed towards the shore. On your way towards the shore you can clearly see five fishing boats, with a few more spread out between the mouth of the river.
2- As you get close to the shore, you can see a thin wooden pier with poles to attach ships at night. The pier runs parallel to the river as it flows into the sea, protecting the south western side from the faster flow of the river. On your right, the beach is white and sandy with just a few small rocks, before turning directly to pine forest after 20 paces. On the left, the river is wide, splitting the land with over a hundred paces of flowing warm water.
3- After just a minute in the pines, hidden from the sea, you reach a small settlement, with a small dozen log houses. Nets are spread in front of the houses being cleaned, dried and mended. Slightly further inland, small patches of vegetables are being tended by a few women. At the southern end, two tiny wooden chapels are built, with each a crucifix and a small wooden statue. A candle burns in one of them.
The fishing village of Narva-Jõesuu (50-ish people) at the mouth of the river. Good fishing means that the locals mostly rely on this for their subsistence, with a little farming done by the women while the men are off fishing. The population is 70:30 Estonian: Russian. The population is split about equally between Orthodox, Catholics and Pagans who pay lip service to Catholicism due to their Danish overlords. There are two small chapels, each with Dominion 2, one for each of the Christian branches. The village overall has Dominion 1 by day and Faerie 1 at night. The fishermen on their boats can initiate dialog with the party as they are rowed ashore, or the party can be quickly greeted by a fisherman or their wife as they get to the pier.
Local food would be fish soup and dark bread, the seasonal fish is Zander which the Russians call Sudak.
Action: Secure ship upstream or get directions. Get info on Heron island, Tõrvajõgi and Narva area.
They can buy (or steal) a boat, or maybe pay passage to go with a local fisherman bringing fish to sell to town.
Russian Fishermen: Miroslav and son Vadim, Boris and son Pasha
Estonian Fishermen: Jueri and Paavo (brothers), Edward, Meelis and son Kristjan
EE Farmwives: Tall Anna (Jueri and Paavo's sister), Kaisa, Kaya (Meelis' wife), Laggle
RU Farmwives: Fat Anna (Boris' mum), Verochka, Stefaniya (Miroslav's wife)
The island is elongated, almost a mile long from one end to the other, but narrow at all but the centre. You’d guess maybe 300-350 paces wide. The whole island is ringed by reeds, higher than a man, so densely that you cannot see where the land starts precisely. The island is covered exclusively in pine trees that reach high into the sky. As you look, (PER+ Awareness or hunting roll TN 6) you notice that in each tree has exactly one pair of herons. (Per+Magic sensitivity (aura) TN 9, if get close).
The first island at the mouth of the Narva river, it is inhabited by countless herons, both grey and white. Each pine tree is inhabited by exactly two, a male and a female. The whole island is ringed by dense reeds, higher than a man. The island has a magic aura of 3 and is inhabited by an Animal spirit / Great beast.
Problem : birds will initially be scared off and shit on intruders. Going any deeper will lead to an attack by the mighty white Heron. (Per+Magic sensitivity TN 12 to detect that Heron is magical)
This heron is huge, standing maybe even taller than a man, though much thinner. You stand in awe in front of the magnificent beast. It is immaculate white with only it’s beak and legs a gleaming healthy yellow. Its bill is a harpoon, almost two feet long and looking razor sharp. As it turns its gaze at you, you feel like a winged spear is aiming at your heart, evaluating you as a target. (see end for stats)
I did not intend for the characters to fight the Heron, and deliberately gave it a power to make the characters fear it. However if the adventurers want to harvest some vis, I still stated it up fully, just in case...
Forests (Description only)
The forests here are dense. They are a mix of Birch, Spruce, Pine and Aspen. They grow tall with their branches reaching to the sky. They grow all the way to the edge of the waterways, with dense foliage catching the sunlight.
Fields (Description only)
Nothing special mechanically, but all the rocks from the upper soil layers of the fields were dragged together at the centre of the field into a roughly circular shape. A small gnarly tree grows in the centre of this rocky-earthy-mossy mass. The spirit of the field is said to inhabit this tree.
Cow herding is mostly seen as a Danish affair, with the locals eating mostly pork and fish for proteins, and dark rye bread to fill their bellies. Apple trees are the most common orchard trees though plum and cherry are common too.
Tõrvajõgi (EE: tar river)
A small spring coming out of a sandstone surface a few paces wide, on the side of a very gently sloped hillock. It is amongst the trees and the stream turns to a muddy rivulet long before it reaches the river, though it follow a path due eastwards, downhill.
A healing water spring about halfway between Narva and Narva-Jõesuu, not far from the river. Past the source, it forms a small muddy rivulet that throws itself into the river. The water is (still in 2020) attributed magical healing property. The place does not have an official name, but considering that the church loved to slap saint's names on nice things and reattribute pagan stuff to a corresponding saint, having the local German priest declare it to be Saint Gangolf's spring seems just right.
Effect: So long as one drinks a glass of it daily (or bathes in the source for at least 5 minutes), it will grant +1 to recovery rolls.
Divine aura 1 by day and Magic 1 by night and maybe even offer a pawn of Divine-Aquam Vis per year when collected right. (recovery bonus does not stack with other water springs)
Action : discover healing power of source. Gain more info on area. (Per+Magic sensitivity (aura) TN 14, if get close).
People : Üno (bald at the top, squints) and Sirje (grey hair), old Estonian couple, but looking healthy and happy, filling waterskins (depending on the order the party checks the locations, then will meet or have seen the same couple dancing at the Jaanipaev in town).
Narva-Joala (EE)/ Narova (RU)/ Narowia (Latin)
This is the "village" itself. Its first appearance in written texts is in a Danish census in 1241 (the current year of our game). It is about half a day's walk from the river mouth.
A small village is set, mostly on the west bank of the river. it is spread out over a mile and half. At the northern end, on a low hill, lies what seems like a small fort, with wooden palisade. Further south along the river a few clusters of houses interspaced with fields radiating outwards. A few islands are stretched out closer to the water falls. One of them, the longest is densely wooded with pines, whereas the whole area has largely been clearly to build the log houses and to make space for fields.
A catholic church dedicated to Saint George was built out of wood is on a hill close to the riverbanks, just south of where most of the houses lie.
( inside : simple wooden trestle benches which are taken out for the feast. A wooden crucifix with a silver Jesus in the centre. The altar is a stout plank of local spruce covered in a white linen embroidered altar cloth. A small banner of the Teutonic order is attached on the wall, slightly to the left of the altar. A copper icon to saint George is attached to its northern wall, a few smoky tallow candles are burning on a simple baked clay plate on which a cross and alpha and omega have been drawn before firing)
About a 200 people live in Narva permanently, the majority are Estonian/Ingrian, followed by Russian working in trade. There are about 50 buildings, counting from the top of the hill. A dozen or so Danes keep the peace along with the local Knight, a Holsteiner by the name of Hermann von Grevenkrug. His friend, the only other German, a fellow Holsteiner, is the parish catholic priest Paulus.
Action : Take part in Jaanipaev festivities.
Ring (women) /Stick (men) throwing
A traditional game where the young unmarried men/women play to earn right to the a round alone in the sauna. The winner of each category get paired up. This a jolly/bawdy affair. The local priest disapproves of it, but is both a drunk and busy at the hill with the lord. I specified a winner by default in case the players do not participate.
Make Str+throw roll for men to throw stick as far as possible. TN 12, or highest of the players
Winner: Ott (EE), strong looking guy, bruised jaw, wants to join the Huskarls, early twenties
Make Dex+Throw for women to throw ring onto target. TN 12, or highest of the players
Winner: Ksenia (RU), red brown hair, tall, athletic, late teens, milkmaid at the hill
Black Sauna. (describe old type Banya and Venik whipping)
This small chimney-less house next to the river has been heated all day with big rocks in a fire in the centre of the room. Shortly before the start of the sauna sessions, the door is opened letting out massive cloud of smoke. One of the local men ventures inside and is passed a few buckets of water which he tosses into the air, getting all the soot down. The door is closed for a few minutes and everyone rushes in. Sauna is both mixed and nude, despite what the local priest would like. Beer and cider are served outside during sauna breaks. Many bundles of oak and birch sapling branches have been tied together, along with a few juniper branches. People whip each other and themselves with it while in the Sauna. People dive right into the river when they come out of the sauna.
Players make STA+Athelteics (endurance) roll for the sauna.:
Can try to stay longer, TN increases by 3. To impress locals, show off, whatever. On a botch, set a character to dazed (simple botch) or unconscious (multiple botch).
After several rounds, the winners of the ring and stick contest are allowed to enjoy the sauna alone. Have the villagers make a big deal about it, cheering the two as they go in etc.
Drinking and feasting.
One small and two massive bonfires are lit just outside of town. People jump over the small one (to burn away bad luck from last year) while others walk their cattle (including the lord’s cows) between the two larger bonfires. Late in the evening people will form a big ring around the bonfires and a big lad (can be Ott if he was characterised) comes at people swinging a big log ritually to which they respond by waving and going "ouh" (this brings them good luck and chases bad luck from the last year away)
The lord is feasting with his men, the Germans (miller and baker), and the priest in the fort. While the locals assembled outside of town next to a big maypole. Benches and tussles have been brought out. People BBQ chicken, pork and fish mostly. Lots of dark rye bread is available along with beer, kvass (RU) or Kali (EE) and cider. In addition to two deers and a boar roasted on spits, there are bowls of plums and cherries as well as various strawberries, cloudberries, cranberries and gooseberries. There are bowls of milky porridge like kama (mix of flour of roasted barley, rye and oat).
PCs can make Pre+Carousing rolls, the drunk priest will join them later in the evening, chance for rumours and one-night stands. Botch means a brawl.
The next morning everyone collects dew and rubs it on their face to preserve their youth and beauty.
If you want to stretch things out (or give the Survival character a chance to roll to save the party time and effort), a local tradition is that if one finds a blooming fern on midsummer's day, they will have luck for the whole year. This is a goose chase, as ferns don't bloom. But it is nonetheless a tradition/saying.
North of the city, on a hill almost 30 m above the water, the Lord of Narva has a manor, a longhouse and a watchtower ringed by wooden palisade. It overlooks the thinnest part of the river (ca 75 paces) leaving even the other bank within bow range. The lord is named Holgr, an aging Danish cadet from a noble family whose long hall is close to Lund. In addition to the garrison in town, he has a further two dozen men at arms always at the fort. He collects taxes for all of Ida-Virumaa, a region which extends some 40 miles or so to the west of Narva. He is wealthy and can command the mostly German knights of the region to his banner should the need arise. His loyalty is to the Bishop of Reval and the King of Denmark. He was present at the battle of Lindanise and fought bravely as part of King Valdemar II's army. He has yet to make a trip to make his personal allegiance to king Eric IV.
Problem : Not welcome there without official business.
Note: In another set up, such as the party including a knight or high ranking character, they could partake in a more European style feast and meet the higher ups. Since I had the party as grogs with no real social standing, I did not prep for this.
Kreenholm(Litt. Crow island)
1-The island stretches as a snake at a little under 500 paces long for a mere 40 paces wide. The island is covered exclusively in unhealthy looking coniferous trees, their needles seeming darker from the distance than nearby trees. Plenty of crows live on the island, with floor littered in pine needles, guano and the bones of small animals devoured by the crows.
2-As you get onto the island, your hairs stand on end. The needles on the pine look dark and sharp, ready to prick you and drink your blood. The shadows beneath them seem to move at the edge of your vision, and your stomach churns at the stench of rot. Everything annoys you, your clothes chafe, your neighbours are standing too close. You just need an excuse to start punching someone, you’re sure that would make you feel better right now.
[First person], you turn around to check that the others are following you, and you have to stop your self from spitting in their annoying face. They are really breathing down your neck, and loudly at that.
[to the second person on the island] You can visualise how the [first persons] ’s stupid fucking head would look if you were to whack it right now.
[third person] , you don’t even want to come here. Those arseholes are dragging you into this shitty place. Just kick them off the boat and row back.
The island has its name from the large number of crows dwelling there. This island has an infernal aura of 3 tarnished with violence. The island is covered exclusively in unhealthy looking coniferous trees, their needles seeming sharper and darker than nearby trees. Plenty of crows live on the island, with floor littered in pine needles, guano and the bones of small animals devoured by the crows. By days the crows are merely menacing to humans and cawing aggressively. By night they will attack humans pecking at them until there is no flesh left on their bones. The evil spirits of the island are locked at war with the neighbouring spirit of the waterfall.
Problem : Demonic crows, will attack PCs by night. Evil aura will drive PCs to sin.
If a PC gives in to violent impulse, gain 1 confidence and 1 warping.
“ That felt amazing. This is the catharsis that the Greeks keep gabbing on about. Giving in to your violent impulse is probably the best you’ve felt since you got on this filth covered island. Oh these violent delights and you feel right at last. Maybe it’ll be better yet if you continue”
1-This is a massive waterfall, almost 10 paces high, they make a torrential sound and split the river. You now understand why shipping from lake Peipus down to the Baltic sea is not possible, at lest not without unloading and carrying everything around the side and reloading again. Which, you are told is sometimes done. Cargo must be disembarked and carried down along a wide path to be loaded onto new boats 200 paces downstream, after Kreenholm, where the village is centred. (Per+Magic sensitivity (aura) TN 9, Per+Second sight TN 9 to notice regio, second roll to see the nymph).
2-The inner cavern is luminous, a soft blue glow emanates from the waterfall itself. Everything is moist and wet, but you feel at ease here. The rock walls are many layered sandstone varying from pale white to light pinks, and the patterns of striations are complicated, but entrancing. The waterfalls just as loud within as without, but with a definite musicality. You could listen to the water all day and not get bored.
Massive waterfalls, almost 10 paces high, they make a torrential sound and split the river preventing further shipping from lake Peipus down to the Baltic sea. Instead cargo must be disembarked and carried down along a wide path to be loaded onto new boats 200 paces downstream, after Kreenholm. The waterfalls (one of the largest in Europe before being dammed to supply power to the factories build in the 19th Century on Kreenholm) are a magnificent sight and the area immediately under the waterfall has a magic aura of 3. A magic aligned nymph named Joala lives there. She is unconcerned with human affairs but has a longstanding conflict with the crows. Aquam Vis is produced here, however any attempt to collect it will anger the Nymph who uses it to maintain her near-eternal youth. She will see this as the greedy crows trying to steal from her, through some new pawn.
Problem : Find the Nymph and interact with her. She hates the crows, wants to be left alone. She has met the maga Gunhild ex Bjornaer, from the Covenant near Pskov before. She sticks to the regio and is largely unconcerned with mortal affairs. She has a tenuous grasp of time, but will react positively to a polite character.
Sinimäe (EE: Blue mountain)
1-This hill takes its name from it being covered in unusually blue needled pines. As the ground slopes upwards toward the top of the hill you can feel that something is different here. Making your way through such dense wood is much trickier than in the area around it. You quickly realise the complete and sudden absence of any of the other regional trees here. Per+Second sight TN 9 to notice spirits floating and flitting about
2- A large hare runs up to you, stands on its hind legs and offers you to follow it in Estonian.
The hare will lead the players in a goose chase, before admitting to being lost. INT+Faerie lore roll TN 12 or INT+folk ken to be wary of its offer. The hare will act really panicked and apologise before going invisible ( Per+Second sight TN 12 to find it)
3-A monumental blue pine several paces in diameter stands mighty and tall at the top of the hill. Its branches are so wide and thick that no tree grows within 20 paces of it. It does not speak, but the foliage rustles around you into a slow speaking voice: I... am... the... Blue... Pine... King...
This hill takes its name from it being covered in unusually blue needled pines. It is about half a day's walk due west from Narva. The base is a faerie aura 1, rising to an aura of 3 at the top. The faerie hare will either try to get the PCs lost (gaining vitality from their panic) or take them to the blue pine king. The forest is ruled by the blue pine king, a cold-tempered faerie with a longstanding grudge with the mightier magical spirit of the forest who rules over the huge mixed aps-spruce-pine-birch forest that stretches all the way to lake Peipus and the Narva river to the south and Rakvere/Wesenberg to the West. A deal can be struck with the blue pine king, who will let the PCs leave if they swear to plant a each plant a cone (his daughters) of his in a separate forests. This is just a plot hook, loosely based on the Rhine tribunal's tree wars.
The forest is inhabited by animal shaped faeries, who are mostly benign but thrive on the feeling of panic or loss of visiting humans.
Problem : angry pines, spirits dislike the magical king of the main forest. If lost in the forest make TN 9 (day) or 12 (night) hunt rolls to get out. Survival 9 (forests) to stay fed and not cold.
Interspaced like clearings in the otherwise unbroken forest, these elongated and thin lakes all share the same basic layout, running in a row or parallel on a north/south axis. They have peat floor under the water, with birch trees with a few pines and spruces growing in the sanding ground around them. The place is extremely quiet and restful. The water is dark and calm, though is you cup a little into your hand it feels cool and clear.
The series of lakes (https://et.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurtna_järvestik), about half a day's walk west then south of Sinimäe. This series of lakes surrounded by mostly birch trees with a few pines and spruces are peat bottom and have clear water but look dark. The place is extremely quiet and restful. Local peat harvesters worked to extract it but they stopped and have not been heard of in a while. The Russians near Narva say that Rusalka inhabit these waters and are a great danger. When asked, a local Estonian fisherman will say that when the first giant climbed out of the sea, he grasped at land and that the lakes are the holes where is fingers raked the land. The lakes have mostly weak faerie auras 1-2, though the largest has a regio accessible at the bottom which leads to an underwater longhouse where water faeries dine and feast all summer long before returning to sleep for the other three seasons of the year.
Depending on the tone and mood, the fae can be a danger, a fight or social encounter. The typical selky story where a character steals the farery's McGuffin and forces them to marry them could be played out here if this is something that would tie in with the campaign themes.
Problem/Action: Meet “the not Rusalka”, enjoy nice swim. Feast underwater with the seafolk. Need a boat. Find out about Kuremäe. TN 9 faerie lore or TN 12 second sight.
People: Peeter, Priidik and Rasmus, Estonian peat harvesters. Warn not to fish in summer if you want the fae to be dangerous and a possible fight. Alternatively, the PCs can meet fishermen who speak well of the lake faeries and if a PC tries to fish (in my case, the fae blooded character had Profession Sailor (fisherman)) the fae will show up after night and tell them that they gave the fish to the PC.
Gently rising within the forest, a small clearing no more than 20 paces wide has at its centre a rocky basin. There is a water springs forth from the rock and fills a natural dip a few paces wide, it is almost as deep as a man is high. The whole area fills you with serenity.
The water is crisp and clear, with slight salty mineral taste. You feel refreshed [ loose 1 fatigue ] and something about the water fills you with natural goodness. The taste is pure, you can feel the innocence of untamed nature and of a world unspoiled by the greed of Man. The water is cool to the touch, but not cold, staying in it is not difficult at all.
Hard to find but an hour’s walk south of the thinnest and southernmost lake, there is a natural (Empyreal) Dominion 2 aura at the top of a low hill called Kuremäe. The specific spot is called Pühitsa (blessed) by the locals. There is a water spring that fills a natural dip a few paces wide to almost man height. Locals occasionally come to bath and drink this water. A bath in this water will add +1 to all recovery rolls for a moon and for the same duration adds +1 to all Christian virtue personality traits. The water has a very pure taste. (recovery bonus does not stack with other water springs)
Action: enjoy power of the water
Kingisepp (EE) /Jaamaa (Ingrian)/Yama (RU)
This is a very small village, in the centre of a few dozen houses and a larger wooden building right in the middle. The log houses are decorated differently than the Estonian ones you have been used to. The parish church is the centre of the village, which has a few small fields around it. Two tanners are downstream from the village, you can smell them. You are asked if you come to sell pelts or if you want shoes. For shoes you are pointed to a Russian trader who speaks your language. He can sell you shoes made in the village, for the pelts, sell them to the furriers or the tanners.
Half a day's walk due East from Narva, on the banks of the next river along (the Luga) lies the Ingrian settlement of Jaamaa (in Ingrian) which the Estonians call Kingisepp and the Russian Yama. It is officially enfiefed to Novgorod and has a large parish church there. The village itself has a Dominion aura of 3. The village has a disproportionate amount of shoe makers for its size, thanks to a large supply of deer leather from local hunters. Everyone in Narva wants to have shoes and boots made there. The population is a majority of Ingrians with a few Russian monks.
Action: buy good quality shoes, meet more Ingrians or Orthodox clergy.
Russian Monks: Fyodor, Kyril, Anastasiy and Ignat (massively bearded, thin, one is bent by the weight of age)
Ingrian villagers: (M) Aapo, Anti, Jaakob, Santeri (F) Enni, Inka, Kirsikka, Saede
See part 3 for stats and more descriptions of the people