Come Loremasters, for today we speak of the blighted cursed land on the eastern edge of The Empire – Sylvania, home of the Vampire Counts.
Under the shadow of the Vampires, its populace has become a terrified, superstitious people. Close to uninhabitable, Sylvania’s forests are dingy copses of twisted, half-rotted trees that claw what nourishment they can from the bone-strewn soil. Desolate moorlands and sluggish rivers of clotted blood punctuate the yellow-leafed woods, wind-swept and storm shrouded by dark clouds that seep down from the Worlds Edge Mountains on an almost daily basis.
It is a depressing, dismal realm settled in the time of Sigmar by dissident, evil men dispossessed by the Emperor’s unification of the peoples of the Empire. When warpstone shards fell upon the lands in 1111 IC, Sylvania’s fell reputation was sealed, as the dead erupted from their graves and laid siege to the villages and towns. Ever since, it has been a loathed and feared province, avoided by the other people of the Empire.
Sparsely populated, Sylvania has long proved a refuge for men intent on dark deeds and secretive studies, as well as evil creatures hunted by the forces of the Emperor. Long before Vlad von Carstein unleashed his Undead armies upon the Empire, Sylvania had been home to Crypt Ghouls, Necromancers and Chaos worshippers. Sylvania is nominally part of Stirland now, though Vlad’s bloody legacy holds Sylvania in its infernal grip; the dread realm is still home to brooding malice and evil powers.
In crumbling castles, towering mausoleums and forgotten keeps dwell Vlad’s vampiric progeny. The surviving von Carsteins still plot and scheme, dreaming of immortal power. They muster their forces in secret, building armies of the dead from bodies and bones, waiting for any sign of weakness in the Empire.
Under the Dark Yoke of the Vampire Counts
The scattered villages and hamlets of Sylvania are even more isolated and parochial than other settlements of the Empire. Grubbing what existence they can from the infertile land, the peasantry live in small communities of inter-related families, and never venture far from their crude hovels.There are few stone roads here; rutted, half-flooded tracks and paths link most villages, all but impossible to navigate except in the relatively dry summer months. At times, the mud itself seems to be a living thing, clawing at the legs of the weak and dragging them to a suffocating death. The populace is, for the most part, concerned with day-to-day survival, raising famished, skinny goats and pigs, tending to what scraps of farmland they have in the hope of gathering enough crops to survive the long and cruel winter.
Sylvanian villages are in a constant state of disrepair, for good stone and wood is hard to come by. All, however, have barred or boarded windows and heavy doors to keep out the night’s predators. Crude fetishes and charms of a dozen gods hang on every lintel and frame. The villagers daub symbols of protection on their doors with pig’s blood, to guard against the unnatural horrors of this frightful land. Hanging outside the gates of the most desperate townships can be found criminals and travellers caged in iron maidens, their only companions the crows and vampire bats that feed on them. Ever since Vlad closed the holy shrines, they have fallen into decrepitude, for no priest ventures into Sylvania without a sturdy guard of armed men. Truly, Sylvania is a godless realm, for darkness, centered in Castle Drakenhof, claimed it many centuries ago.