Saturday of St. Lazarus
As I noted last year, the Saturday before Palm Sunday in the Orthodox Calendar celebrates St. Lazarus, the Friend of Christ who is called back from the tomb four days dead. Though I mentioned several things from his life, one particularly interesting detail from his hagiography that I did not note last year is that he never smiled after being brought back to life. There is a clue as to why in one of the hymns sung during the week leading up to Lazarus Saturday:
Lazarus is now two days in the tomb; he sees the dead of all the ages. There he has witnessed strange horrors, a numberless throng held fast by the bonds of Hades. Thus his sisters lament bitterly as they look on his tomb. But Christ comes to bring His friend to life, that a hymn may be raised by all in unison: "Blessed are You, O Savior, have mercy on us."
In other words, what he saw was so harrowing that it marked him for life. I will grant, this is before Christ Himself went down into Hades to break open the brass gates and preach the Kingdom to the dead, but it still is a very interesting image, particularly for those whose campaign worlds do not have (yet) Christ or a Christ-analogue.
For those who have qualms about Raise Dead and its affects upon their campaign world, the story of Lazarus gives a fascinating limiting factor — those that come back aren’t quite the same. Depending on how severe these consequences, a Referee could assign physical change (loss of Con, for example) or mental change (please roll on the insanity table, please). Such consequences would make some players think twice about using Raise Dead on their favorite characters.
St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America
Born in 1865, in the Russian region of Pskov, St. Tikhon was a monk who became bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands at the end of the 19th century. In 1900 his see was extended to include all of North America. He did much for the Orthodox Christians across the United States, including the consecration and establishment of several Churches, including St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York and St. Nicholas Church in Brooklyn.
In 1917 he was elected as Patriarch of Moscow, just as the Bolshevik Revolution was about to sweep across Russia. St. Tikhon stood steadfast in the faith despite the utter destruction that followed in the wake of the communist revolution. He fell ill in 1924 and died today in 1925. Due to his sufferings, he is also considered a Confessor.
It seems that the saints are insistent that I continue to work on my campaign based on a fantasy version of 18th century Alaska. Last week, I differentiated different types of magic in terms of pseudo-science. I mentioned that found magic would likely be alien technology.
Colonial powers normally fight over territory not just for land, but for the riches that the land provides. Alaska is famous for both its gold and its oil; however, neither had been discovered until later into the 19th century. For the purposes of having something for Ruthenia and Albion to fight over, I think an interesting twist might be akin to a post earlier this week by Desert Scribe over at Super Galactic Dreadnaught — The Starship as Megadungeon.
As I mentioned in the comments, this is an idea that I have been trying to implement for years, having been deeply affected by Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Therefore I have a plan: in a remote region of fantasy-Alaska, there is a valley created by the crash of a huge space ship. Much of the regional conflict is centered around control of the valley and its access. Scattered throughout the region are also various escape pods and smaller vessels also involved in the crash.
One candidate for these aliens are the Tuniit/Tunijuat or maybe they were slaves of the aliens who controlled the ship. Regardless, I plan to have a huge spaceship as the tentpole megadungeon of the campaign.
For those that worry about mapping such a dungeon, I offer a solution. Being an old Traveller Fan, one of my favorite aspects of the Traveller universe were all the various war games that helped form what became known as the Third Imperium. Among these board games is Azhanti High Lightning which is a game about combat scenarios aboard a huge space dreadnaught. The beauty of this game is that it provides fourteen full color deck plans. Even better, GDW has it available as a .pdf!
Thus, all you need to do is figure out what kind nasties a group of adventurers will encounter therein, once they sneak by whatever fortification is protecting the valley (depending, of course on whether or not they are aligned to whoever happens to control said fort at the time).