The Voivodate

The following is a revision and expansion of the very fine work of Brian Campbell and Nicky Rea as written in Transylvania By Night (pp. 109-112). Be warned that portions of this page may contain spoilers (such as the nature of revenants) for players of other clans, so either cease reading now or “Be a Good Lad” and use your judgement about what your character ought, and ought not, to know…

The Clan of the Dragon

Tzimisce are not just the most numerous Cainites in Transylvania- they are arguably the most diverse as well. Between 20 and 30 powerful members of this profane clan stake out significant territory at any given time in 12th and 13th century Transylvania. Perhaps 5 times that number function as lesser lords under the suzerainty of these stronger Tzimisce, with hundreds more in lesser supporting roles.

The vast majority of these Fiends are quite reluctant to Embrace new childer from amongst the typical mortals of their homeland. Breeding revenants is far more efficacious. After revenant families have been dominated and exploited for centuries, their children are born with an inherent loyalty to their masters, which removes the need for the whole messy enterprise of gradually raising and educating a vampiric childe.

An entire estate of revenants can slave away in the shadow of a voivode’s fortress for generations. This makes them promising candidates for the Embrace. However, a revenant servant typically does not receive his baptism of blood until it is evident that he desperately requires the Dark Gift. Defeating the most treacherous of their masters’ foes sometimes requires enhanced powers and vampiric ingenuity. Only when this added edge is required is the servant buried alive to await rebirth.

However, occasionally a mortal of significant talent is found and earns the Embrace from a voivode or knez, or certain omens and portents lead a Koldun to choose a mortal that is beloved of the spirits. Otherwise a mortal might be taken because their potential sires have been granted the right by their own masters, who have no desire to see their own stable of revenants depleted. In any case, these fledgelings are usually forced into a Blood Oath to their overlords rather than their actual sires.

Tzimisce are not just the most numerous Cainites in Transylvania- they are arguably the most diverse as well. Between 20 and 30 powerful members of this profane clan stake out significant territory at any given time in 12th and 13th century Transylvania. Perhaps 5 times that number function as lesser lords under the suzerainty of these stronger Tzimisce, with hundreds more in lesser supporting roles.

The vast majority of these Fiends are quite reluctant to Embrace new childer from amongst the typical mortals of their homeland. Breeding revenants is far more efficacious. After revenant families have been dominated and exploited for centuries, their children are born with an inherent loyalty to their masters, which removes the need for the whole messy enterprise of gradually raising and educating a vampiric childe.

An entire estate of revenants can slave away in the shadow of a voivode’s fortress for generations. This makes them promising candidates for the Embrace. However, a revenant servant typically does not receive his baptism of blood until it is evident that he desperately requires the Dark Gift. Defeating the most treacherous of their masters’ foes sometimes requires enhanced powers and vampiric ingenuity. Only when this added edge is required is the servant buried alive to await rebirth.

However, occasionally a mortal of significant talent is found and earns the Embrace from a voivode or knez, or certain omens and portents lead a Koldun to choose a mortal that is beloved of the spirits. Otherwise a mortal might be taken because their potential sires have been granted the right by their own masters, who have no desire to see their own stable of revenants depleted. In any case, these fledgelings are usually forced into a Blood Oath to their overlords rather than their actual sires.

Even more telling on the Tzimisce populace is the shocking warfare conducted between knezi and rival voivodes. Arrogant and power-hungry, voivodes make and break alliances as their passions seize them. Transylvanian knezi, in particular, are extremely territorial- each considers himself to be the rightful master of his lands. Feudal Tzimisce typically enlist few allies, generally relying on Oath-bound progeny, horrific creations and legions of flesh-crafted servants. War is brutal and primitive in Transylvania.

The Tzimisce stand ready at all times to defend their mortal populace tooth and claw against outsiders. They take a certain pride in the shared history of domination of their homeland, and the mortals deserve to be protected if for no other reason than that they are their mortals. It is also worth noting that those mortal lords whom do not fall under the dominance of the clan treat their servants in much the same way. For centuries this way of life has been a simple point of fact, and even though there is a certain amount of resentment among the peasantry, it pales in comparison to the resentment they feel towards the Magyars and Szeklers that would deprive them of their religion, land and freedom of movement. This powerful resentment carries over to the Undead, particularly in the far east

Even so, the Tzimisce treatment of their mortal peasants is overly brutal, contrary to what the Fiends may believe. Tzimisce have always considered their human subjects to be little more than cattle. While the Fiends harbour a conceit that the mortals would perish without them, humans have begun to revolt against their hidden masters, particularly in the south-west. Likewise, many Transylvanian Cainites of other clans have come to believe that the prosperous Ventrue of the Arpads or the Holy Roman Empire, arrogant and insufferable as they are, would be preferable to the ruthless autocracy of the Tzimisce.

Frankly, the Tzimisce care little for such plotting. They are more concerned with stronger enemies- in particular, the Usurper Tremere. Where the Tzimisce are numerous but derisive, the Tremere are few but unified. The Usurpers exploit their fanatic loyalty, innovative magics, and bestial Gargoyles as they stage an overwhelming assault on the fends.

The increasing tide of battle has necessitated a strengthening of the Tzimisce feudal system. Tzimisce lords have become more assertive in their rights to exploit the mortal populace of their domains as decade follows bloody decade. Despite appearances, however, the feudal system they created was not fully in place until the eighth century., Prior to those darker times, the most prosperous Fiends were more contemplative and introspective in nature.

The Metamorphosists

The earliest Tzimisce of Transylvania were spiritualists who practised secret rituals. They meditated on the true nature of abomination in darkness, having long abandoned the ways of humans (a lesser race that seemed quite alien to them). The Fiends enacted their rites in stone sanctums, and the most elaborate temples were entrances to twisted, labyrinthine shrines beneath the earth. These “Black Churches” are still extant in many portions of Transylvania and are a testament to the horrors of the past.

By day, the dark priests’ servants would construct stone buildings above the soil. By night, massive multi-armed things would burrow tunnels beneath the ground. Vampire artisans completed what their servants began within darkened shrines. Safe from the rays of the sun, master craftsmen erected asymmetrical stone walls. Sacrificial victims were crafted into walls of flesh in more elaborate temples. The Cathedral of Flesh near the Red Tower Pass is an excellent example of this aesthetic.

The ceremonies suited the environments well in which they were staged. Long before the cult of the Nailed God, long before warrior tribes invoked the names of Dagon and Baal, the most accomplished Tzimisce attempted to transcend the limit of mortal clay. Reworking the structure of their bodies, they reshaped themselves to conform to their visions- or nightmares- of perfection. Those who were most impressive became objects of worship, and servile ghouls carved their likenesses into statues, which were later venerated as images of pagan gods.

Metamorphosists adopted more subtle methods of practising their idolatry and defending their territories as the clan advanced. Constructing shrines beneath the earth was too primitive, a habit too similar to the ways of the Nosferatu. Elaborate stone churches served as cathedrals for Metamorphosist worship, and after monastic orders began to spread further into Transylvania, defiled Christian churches especially useful to the fiendish priests. In civilised portions of the Voivodate, Black Churches have since been reclaimed by the Christians, who generally remain unaware of what lurks beneath their surface. Although Christian services are practised in these places, the land surrounding them is difficult to consecrate.

Some of the lesser shrines have fallen into disrepair, and the most primitive ones have been abandoned by the Tzimisce entirely. Other horrid things have taken the Fiends’ place: Cults of sluagh, exiled Lupines who have succumbed to the madness of the Black Spiral, and escaped szlachta war ghouls all spawn in such places.

Rituals take the form of demented sorceries for more modern Metamorphosists. Dependence on a feudal estate is not so essential to them. They revile the primitivists who insist on using caves and churches. The most civilised seek out alchemical and mystical laboratories. Such sorcerers might control a small gathering ground resonant with tainted vis or other magical energies. Many are deeply obsessed with mystical pursuits, insisting that their studies are motivated by pure intellect.

In their modest domains, these Fiends avidly pursue insight, collecting vast libraries of knowledge and amassing occult lore. The morality of humans means nothing to them, except as a limitation to be overcome.

Other mystics quest in search of knowledge. As of late, more Tzimisce mystics have begun travelling from tirsa to tirsa to further their studies. Exchanging blood or favours for their services, they have become quite useful to the feudal lords of the clan. While their fanaticism garners them a certain degree of respect from any knezi they encounter, only a fool would fully trust them. Trust, after all, is a human weakness.

Mystics have a strong sense of where the land is tainted and they know the names of the spirits of the soil, they can help or hinder the lords ruling over a domain. Crops wither and die at their bidding. The cattle and seep of the fields give tainted milk and meat. Children and animals are born with hideous deformities. Thus, they command respect from the lords that they encounter.

Therefore, as times change and the Black Churches crumble, Metamorphosists evolve as well; One can expect no less from them.

KUPALA’S NIGHT

The pagan ways are the old ways of the Earth, and sometimes Christians fear them with good reason. Just as there is light in the world, there is darkness, and during the festival of Kupala’s Night, the force of darkness is undeniably strong. Tzimisce mystics and feudal lords often travel to the knezates of other respected rulers at this time, setting aside their feuds long enough to commune with the ancient spirits of corruption: the kupala. These spirits are the offspring of an ancient Slavic god of the same name.

Mortal pagans practice Kupala’s Night on June 22nd. They also revere Kupala as a benevolent god. Tzimisce, of course, know both suppositions for the lies they are. The true rituals of Kupala’s Night are performed on a different night each year. Only Tzimisce astrologers can discern the most efficacious day for performing the violent ceremony. The veil between the land of the flesh and the realm of spirit is easier to rend on this night, and those who revere the old ways can see the very taint of the earth. Horrible apparitions infect the land, and where the soil has been corrupted, the hideous forms of the kupala can be seen by moonlight. They thrash and gibber, contorting their bodies into impossible displays of physiological degeneration.

The land and the ruler are ever one, and the Transylvanian Tzimisce show their reverence for the land by sharing their blood with each other and the earth. With the assistance of the mystics, participants enact an ancient rite involving the sharing of blood. A silver cup containing the vitae of all in the ceremony is passed around to be consumed and the last few drops are poured on the ground. This not only demonstrates their alliance, but it also fortifies them for the task at hand. The screams of the kupala stop as terror seizes the spirits.

Then the slaying begins. Vengeful Tzimisce distend their bodies and sharpen bloody claws. The spirits cry for mercy, yet none is given. Freely killing the maddening evil in the soil, the Fiends purify the land in obeisance to their ancient pact to protect it. Their fervour escalates into all-consuming frenzy much too often, and nothing in the vicinity is safe. By dawn, the madness fades and the evil of Kupala is weakened once again.

Hospitality is extended to guests who assisted in the reaving the following night. The truce between collaborators lasts long enough for travellers to return to their fiefdoms. In a week or two, the fierce fighting for control of the land renews, but by then, the greatest of the clan’s enemies has been grievously wounded.

TZIMISCE OF RENOWN

Despite the depredations of Westerners and Tremere, the Tzimisce still form the largest vampiric population in the Old Country. As they consider Eastern Europe to be their domain, they do not acknowledge the domains of other clans. Princes formally recognised by the Western clans are often a trifle more than nuisances, and some become the victims of sinister Tzimisce conspiracies. Away from the villages of the humans and the hunting grounds of other Cainites, the Fiends hold undisputed sway over their fiefdoms. Some of the more notable Tzimisce active in the region are listed below.

  • Yorak, High Priest of the Cathedral of Flesh (Childe of the Eldest; Embraced many millennia ago); of the direct progeny of the Eldest, Yorak is the oldest that is still active in Transylvania. He leads the Metamorphosist Sect from his nightmarish Cathedral of Flesh, and is the spiritual head of the Voivodate, but at times he has also accepted the secular role of Voivode of Voivodes for his own reasons. This has had the effect of permanently undermining the authority of younger claimants to the title, for elders of the clan forever compare their prestige to that of this inscrutable methuselah.
  • Lord Ruthven, Keeper of the Lore (Childe of the Eldest; Embraced perhaps 2000 years ago); of the childer of the Eldest, Lord Ruthven is reputed to be the youngest. Clan legends state that he was the last scion of the Bogatyr revenant line, which some Fiendish genealogists claim was never quite human to begin with. Ruthven claims immense domains in the western reaches of the Southern Carpathians, the lonely expanses of the Apuseni Mountains and the inner shadows of the south-eastern Carpathians, although in truth he holds them in name only. Ruthven has not been reliably seen in centuries, and his demesnes are administered by several of his eldest progeny and their revenant kin. The Ruthvenski are common enough in the valleys and foothills of the Transylvanian Alps and northern Bulgaria, and all know that they carry the words and authority of this potent elder and, perhaps, the Eldest himself. Lord Ruthven had a reputation for eschewing the politics of the Voivodate but brooked no dissent or defiance near his lands, let alone within them.
  • Ionache, Architect of the Voivodate (Childe of the Eldest; Embraced millennia ago); Like his brother-in-blood the Dracon, Ionache saw himself not just as a moulder of flesh but also of civilisation. It was he that set up the feudal system of the Tzimisce thousands of years ago and it is he whom has served as Voivode of Voivodes more than any other. He grew increasingly disenchanted with the infighting among the clan once the Romans conquered Dacia and began to withdraw from temporal matters, spending centuries at a time in torpor. Yorak picked up the slack of leadership in Transylvania and has dominated affairs ever since. Ionache last slipped into torpor about a year before the Siebenburgen were chartered, and it is feared that he has been destroyed by the Arpad Ventrue or perhaps even diablerised by Noriz or one of his legion of corrupt progeny. Demenaus, a legendary sage of the clan and favoured progeny of Ionache, was Noriz’ first victim and the corrupter bragged that the first Voivode would be next.
  • Vladimir Rustovitch, Voivode of Voivodes (Childe of Kosczceskyu, Embraced 9th century); the most prominent of the Tzimisce warlords, Rustovitch has held his title against all comers since the 1130’s. It is thought that he was an unusually civilised Bratovitch revenant in life, and earned the Embrace for his tactical brilliance in Kosczeskyu’s Trials by War. His reputation is that of brilliance, brutality and natural leadership.
  • Kara Vlaszy Lupescu, Rustovitch’s envoy (Childe of Rustovitch, Embraced 10th century); considered to be the 2nd of the Voivode of Voivodes, and a prominent knez in her own right, Lady Kara is constantly on the move throughout the Voivodate, shoring up the loyalties of the fractious clan to her lord and settling disputes. She is an impressive warrior of the Vlaszy revenant family, although her courtier training was at the feet of Szantovitchi and Basarabs. The Vlaszy largely follow her lead, which lends Rustovitch considerable influence amongst the mortal knights of Hungary.
  • Noriz, Corrupter of Legions (exotic eastern lineage, Embraced 4th century); perhaps the most dangerous Fiend in the region, Noriz has Embraced dozens, if not hundreds of childer. All are instilled with the same unholy purpose, diablerise their way to stand next to Caine in the Final Nights. Through his treacherous childer, his influence practically encircles the Carpathians, extending from Halych in the north-west, through the heartlands of Cumania (Moldavia) in the east and the lands of Bulgaria in the south-east.
  • Damek Ruthven, Voivode of Sarmizegetusa (Childe of Lord Ruthven; Embraced 3rd Century BCE); The eldest known surviving and long-favoured progeny of Lord Ruthven, Damek enjoys the singular honour of holding domain over the ruins of once-great capital of the Dacian kingdom. He is known to have a taste for virgin blood and brides, and many of the surrounding Fiends scour their lands of beautiful young girls approaching their first bud of womanhood, in hopes of currying Damek’s favour with tribute. While he is known to favour provoking the image of a Dacian warrior-king, legend has it that he is actually more of a scholar, and also a master koldun. Before his sire disappeared, Damek once served as a sort of unofficial historian of the clan, and he knows a great deal of the ancient secrets and lost wisdom of the Tzimisce.
  • Velya the Flayer, Koldun of renown (speculated to be the progeny of Yorak, and to have been Embraced perhaps 1000 years ago); one of the more congenial and progressive koldun’s, Velya is reputed to make his lair somewhere near Arghes. Many of the koldun’s that wander the Voivodate have received instruction from him at some point, and he hears much of importance that happens in the Old Country.
  • Hedeon Yaroslavich, Koldunic mercenary (speculated to be the progeny of Shaagra, Embraced some centuries ago); a prominent sorcerer active in southern Poland and the wedge of territory encompassing the borders of Transylvania and Poland in the north, Hedeon often sells his services to Vladimir Rustovitch. He is a famed crafter of Vozhd.
  • Ioan Brancoveanu, Hammer of the Tremere (Childe of Lucasz Brancoveanu, Childe of Noriz, Embraced 10th century); The most successful of the Tzimisce Voivodes with regards to the Tremere, Ioan is also called “the Butcher”, for the remarkably grisly examples (yes, even for a Fiend) that he has made of captured Usurpers. His lands lie in the mountains south-east of Karlsburg and south-west of Hermanstadt.
  • Lady Danica Ruthven, Tremere slayer (Childe of Damek Ruthven, Embraced 1st century); Ioan Brancoveanu’s koldunic advisor, she is famed amongst the clan for her sorcerous innovations. Of all the Tzimisce, she has faced the most Tremere in magical combat, and her continued survival attests to her skill and brilliance. She has been the Voivode of the lands now known as Hunedoara for almost 1000 years, and her experience, as well as a large brood of childer, have proven more than capable of holding that domain against the machinations of first the Arpad’s and now the Tremere.
  • Visya, Voivode of Reghin (Childe of Flaviu (d?), Embraced 7th century); A Szantovitch before his Embrace, Visya is thought to be one of the Fiends that masterminded the creation of the Vlaszy revenant family. He considers himself to be a visionary for championing the evolution of the clan by Embracing more freely among foreign peoples, an attitude which has earned him the disgust and hatred of his more traditional clan-mates. For now, he has even allied with the Ventrue of the Arpad line to protect himself from his enemy Vladimir Rustovitch, who has sworn vengeance for some past slight. His stronghold is in Reghin, and he is engaged in skirmishes against Vlad Ionescu’s forces south of Bistritz and north of Schaasburg. He has been known to claim the title of Voivode of the Szeklers for his creation of the Vlaszy and ambitions to expand his influence among the border clans, but while Vlad Ionescu stands between Visya and Szekeley Land, the Voivode of Reghin’s boast is meaningless…
  • Radu, Knez of Bistrita (Childe of Visya, Embraced 12th century); A product of the Vlaszy and Szantovitch lines, and variously known as either the Prince of Bistritz or Knez of Bistrita, Radu explodes most of the stereotypes of the clan. He is polished, pleasant, and moderate in his dealings, more interested in sponsoring wealth and prosperity in his Domain than wasting precious resources in meaningless intra-clan strife. Behind the facade, however, he is rumoured to be a brilliant and vengeful master of intrigue.
  • Marelle, Sculptor of Wolves (Childe of Radu; Embraced 12th century); As a Danislav revenant, this beautiful woman served the Knez of Bistritz as an envoy. However, after her Embrace, she instead adopted the savagery of her werewolf ancestors and has become renowned for her viciousness and vengefulness. Many knezi and even a few voivodes think twice before arousing her anger. She also has an unusual facility for the Animalism discipline, and her fleshcrafted packs of wolves are the terror of the forests of Tara Făgăraşului (east of Hermanstadt). Since 1201, Marelle has taken to claiming the title of Voivode of Făgăraş as a direct challenge to the praxis of the Nosferatu Marusca, who has long claimed the city of Hermannstadt as her domain.
  • Lugoj, progeny of the Corruptor (Childe of Noriz, Embraced a couple of centuries ago); One of the strongest exemplars of Noriz’ philosophies, this ancilla has forged well into Transylvania in recent decades, claiming the village of his birth for his Domain. For many decades, he served as envoy for his sire and while he is a brutal warrior he is also unusually polished for one of Noriz’ brood. He is known to be a seeker after ancient knowledge and wisdom.
  • Koban, Voivode of Vrancea (Childe of Noriz, Embraced 9th century); An example of everything that makes the rest of the clan uneasy, Koban is rare in that he is both a master koldun and voivode. He is one of the southern-most of Noriz’ successful childer, occupying an arm of the Carpathians on the borders of Bulgaria and Transylvania that commands one of the passes into the region. While nominally loyal to his sire, he has his own designs on power and is slowly extending his reach into Transylvania proper.
  • Vlad Ionescu, Voivode of Mureș (Childe of Vladimir Rustovitch, Embraced 10th Century); A prominent warlord that has taken the Arpad incursion into Transylvania personally, he has spent much of the last fifty years matching wits and swords with Overlord Nova and her supporters. He is directly responsible for sending no fewer than five princes and would-be princes of Schaasburg, Klausenburg and Kronstadt to their Final Deaths over the years, but reserves his greatest hatred for the Arpads. His stronghold is a castle called Castelul din Pumnalil (the Castle of the Dagger) about 30 miles north of Schaasburg, and while he claims all of the region of Mureș, in truth those lands surrounding Reghin and points east to the Carpathians are loyal either to themselves or his enemy, Visya. Vlad currently wars with his the self-proclaimed Voivode of the Szeklers to the north rather than Nova to the west, and while his loyal knezi. significantly outnumber those of Visya, he is surrounded on 3 sides by enemies. Unlike many Tzimisce, he welcomes visitors to his court and not a few Toreador have enjoyed his hospitality over the years. He also welcomes merchants to the settlement in the shadow of his castle.
  • Vintilla Basarab, Voivode of Săliştea (Childe of Rocaz Basarab, Embraced 8th century); the master of significant lands south of Karlsburg and west of Mullenbach, Vintilla has resisted German settlement as fiercely as any Voivode, but has suffered massive reversals due to Tremere interference. He is one of the warlords closest to Ceoris and is a firm supporter of Ioan Brancoveanu. He is reputed to be a master of Animalism.
  • Mircea Dzardescu, Voivode of Suceava (Childe of Gerlo, Embraced 12th century) A rising star among the northern voivodes, Mircea has sworn vengeance on Visya and Radu for the destruction of his own sire and predecessor, Gerlo. He is known to be clever and unconventional, but of a weak generation (at least, for a voivode).
  • Conte Florescu, Voivode of Maramureşului (Rumoured to be the Childe of Ionache, Embraced 6th century); A crafty, conniving politician who learned his skills at the feet of Ionache, Florescu has the unique honour of having subverted a family of “werewolf kin” and creating the Danislav revenant familoy out of them. His lands lie in the north and west of Transylvania, in the isolated valleys of the Carpathians.
  • Cezar Satnoianu, Voivode of Sudul Olteniei (Childe of Demenaus(d); Embraced 6th century); A sybaratic warlord with links to the Bulgarian Tzimisce, this master of flesh-crafting is a Metamorphosist, which is unusual for a Voivode. He is renowned for his large brood of prestige childer, which he has dubbed ‘the Chalice of Osseus Delights’ after an obscure piece of Koldunic folklore. He is centred in the important trade crossroads of Târgu Jiu, and his Voivodate is considered to be one of the more stable in the region.
  • Raiszko Neîmblânzit, Voivode of Buzău (Childe of Velya the Flayer, Embraced 8th century); Master of a rugged mountain pass between the Muntenian hills of the south-eastern Carpathians and Szekely Land, this Voivode has held his territory against all belligerents, both mundane and supernatural, since the mid 9th century. Voivode Koban of Vrancea is an old enemy of his, and while he was initially dismissive of the Omen War, Raiszko has adopted the cause with vigour since the 1150’s. His lands are frequently raided by the Tremere, and many of those whom his sire inducts into the Koldunic Ways often journey to Buzău to test their mettle against the Usurpers. The Voivode himself has little interest in sorcery, but he is reputed to be a master of Animalism in addition to the flesh-crafting arts. He is a monstrously powerful warlord (standing over 7 feet tall before he takes the zulo shape) with a quick and innovative mind, known among his rivals for the speed with which he adopts new and unorthodox ideas that swiftly bring disadvantage to his enemies.
  • Czernisko, Voivode of Opawa (Childe of Mojmir (d)); Sometimes referred to as the “Mad Voivode” (in an admiring sense rather than a derogatory one) even by his own clan-mates, Czernisko holds Domain on the borders of Silesia and Moravia. His territory consists mostly of a swathe of rugged hills and lowlands through which the Opawa and Moravice rivers flow, although his own castle lies closer to the foothills of the great peak of Praděd, some 60 miles west of their confluence.He is a rare Voivode on the Road of Metamorphosis, and unlike many of his fellow Shaper-priests he expresses his philosophy through “instructive art.” His plays featuring flesh-crafted orchestras and “collectives” of ghoul actors draw many admirers among the clan, and a few particularly innovative or perverse Toreador.

The Voivodate

The Concord of Ashes Haligaunt