Life is a stage
Kartakass is one of the Domains of Dread of Ravenloft and is ruled over by the Darklord, Harkon Lukas. Kartakass is a domain in which each resident is seeking to impress with performances accomplished by no other. While this may seem exciting, beneath this demonstration of prowess are lies and betrayals as each performer seeks to upstage all others. Even more sinister are the lycanthropes that emerge each full moon creating danger for the inhabitants of this domain.
Information About Kartakass
|Domain Characteristic||Domain of Tarnished Dreams|
|Genre||Dark Fantasy and Gothic Horror|
|Hallmarks||Hidden identities, dangerous performances, exploitative ambitions, werewolves|
Characteristics of Kartakass
Kartakass has just a few towns dotted around its land. Each seeks to rival the others with performances that outdo all other towns. The meistsingers of each town (leaders of the towns) share fierce rivalries for one another (though this is mainly for show) drumming up competition between the townsfolk.
Fame is sought for by the young and the old and each dream of one day attaining such reknown whether it’s through song and performance or feats of great strength and heroism, fame is sought after and respected above all else here. Even the plants and beasts seek to perform and outdo others; flowers bloom early only to run out of steam and wither before spring ends, songbirds will sing themselves hoarse and even the inanimate can receive a voice in this magical domain.
Of course competition breeds contempt and rivalries can turn sour, victors being stabbed in the back by the defeated. Worst of all, werewolves roam the land each full moon. Any inhabitant that lets their passions get the better of themselves can find themselves afflicted with this curse, finding vengeance in blood.
Darklord: Harkon Lukas
Harkon Lukas was born in a community of werewolves. As he grew, he dreamed of commanding not just his own pack, but an army of werewolves, trained to kill and to conquer. He worked to unite the packs of werewolves but ultimately failed, the werewolves recognising that they were simply tools in his games. When this ploy failed, Harkon turned on his former packs, slaughtering dozens of them before escaping with his life barely intact.
Fleeing the community of werewolves, Harkon ended up in human settlements where he learnt to blend in. His ambitions for leadership never diminished though and he decided that if he couldn’t be a ruler over an army of born hunters, then he would force an empire of sheep to dance to the rhythm of his song. He learnt to manipulate the people he considered his inferiors, bending them to his will with his incredible charisma and the lack of morals that enables a man to lie and cheat carelessly. Harkon became a performer, a teacher and a scoundrel and the people flocked to bask in his presence.
The rulers of the nation however, began to recognise how dangerous such an influential individual could be having the hearts and loyalty of the people. They concocted a plot to have Harkon imprisoned on false charges, but when the royal agents came to arrest him, Harkon faked his own death. The people were outraged that their hero had been murdered and a revolution began. Within a week, the government had crumbled against the peasant army that had formed, carrying the casket of the supposedly “dead” Harkon in their wake.
As the revolution progressed, the people arrived at the royal palace where the king gave a heartfelt speech, apologising for wrongdoings and agreeing to improve the circumstances of the people. The people accepted these concessions agreeing to negotiate with the monarch. But just at this moment, Harkon emerged from his casket in his werewolf form, apparently resurrected, and devoured the king. He took the crown from the now dead king and the people rejoiced at their new monarch, but their joy was short-lived. At that same moment, the mists of Ravenloft emerged to consume Harkon, dragging him into Kartakass, one of the Domains of Dread, making him the Darklord there.
Locations in Kartakass
Emherst appears as an idyllic village like most others, however, it is actually a school of the performing arts. Beneath the village (which is actually the live stage) is an understage where the students prepare for 7 weeks for the next performance that will last for a whole week with students performing in character for an entire week. All the students here are under 30 so even the roles of the elderly are performed by young students.
To those unaware of Emhurst, this can appear disconcerting, every 8 weeks a new “set” will change the appearance of the village, students will take on entirely different roles and stories of strange occurrences will unfold. Beneath this lair of false reality though, is a fierce competition for the main parts in the play, this often leads to actors smearing one another with false accusations and more sinister tragedies to attempt to usurp their rivals in some kind of lead role.
Harmonia is one of the oldest settlements in Kartakass. It’s the heart of musical performance in the land and is where the greatest musicians congregate. Musicians vie to perform in the town’s many venues such as the Harmonic Hall and the acoustically complex Ampitheater of Harmonia. However, the greatest accomplishment is to play in the highly exclusive, and popular, Crystal Club. It’s a stunning and lavishly decorated place constructed from a massive, natural geode. Critics congregate here and failure to impress often leads to exile from the town. The truth is that the club’s exclusive clientele are all werewolves who meet in secret incorporating their beastly curse into their entire lives including their fir trimmed fashion, night performances and grisly woodcuts.
Medria is a fishing village that sits next to the lake of Tragedy’s Stage. The lake itself is known to have incredibly choppy waters. The village is also home to an effects studio of incredible talent, regularly creating apocalyptic effects like the sound of explosions, the appearance of beastly shadows or the effect of moonlight onto a stage. The people have become dulled to the apocalyptic nature of these effects, both dulling their responses to the real and the unreal alike.
Skald is the largest town in Kartakass. It is a bustling hub of commerce and creativity and has the best of everything available in the land. The promise of overnight fame lures many a young performer into its walls with opportunities abounding where one incredible performance can make a star of the talented and the brave. Harsh critics though mean that a star can quickly become a has-been just as quickly. On top of this are the aging performers desperately clinging to their fame and fortunes who attempt to maintain the status quo through dark bargains, criminality and all sorts of vicious plotting that often ensnare the unaware.
The Wildersung Wood is a restless, magical place where the trees sing a chorus through the trees at each twilight. But danger lurks within these woods. Legends warn that travellers that do not join in the song always meet a terrible fate, later discovered to have had their necks inexplicably broken by some creature or other entity.