Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ethnology Spatterings

This is just a general collection of notes, by no means complete - but all of it refers to the borders of what would be Soviet Russia.  Most of the important stuff here is committed to memory; but I've kept it, I suppose, in case I should ever look at it.  Which I probably haven't in seven years.  Plus, naturally, much of this is no longer true in my world.  But I have committed to showing how my thought process has attempted things, and others do seem to want to take from this sort of stuff.

from Feb. 23, 2003


First called the “Ante” by ancient chroniclers, the Slavs had spread through much of western Russia by the 9th century. Through intensive contacts, the “Eastern Slavs” gradually branched into three human groups: the Great Russians, dwelling in the snow forest; the Little Russians, dwelling upon the steppe; and the White Russians, dwelling in the woodland.

The Poles and Ruthenians, dwelling in the west, are human descendants of the Western Slavs.

Dwelling now in their homeland upon the north coast of Ulthuan Peninsula, Winter Elves once occupied much of the northern basin of the Barents Sea. A fair portion still dwell within Glu’Bak.

Wood Elves (Karjalaiset) represent a large proportion of the population of Egreliia and Karelia, and represent a minority in Ingria.

A small population of Wood Elves dwell in the region of Zyria.

These people dwell in many of the areas adjacent to the elven populations.

The Finns, subjected to strong Swedish influence, dwell in small groups in many places, even among the Wood Elves. Elves and Finns were creators of a great chivalric culture, culminating in the Kalevala.

Estonians, through centuries of intermarriage, possess few of the elvish qualities of the original inhabitants of the region. However, perhaps one sixteenth to one eighth of the population’s ethnology is elvish blood.

Lutheranism is the common religion.

Descended from the ogre-orc tribe once known as the Huns, the pure bred peoples exist only in small numbers as ogrillon. Such tribes are the Karachai, Balkar, Nogay, and Kumyk.

Many Bulgars have been so decimated by many centuries that the pure blood has long been diluted. Now little more than half-orcs, bred from intermixings with numerous races.

The orc blood of the Bulgars has no shared relationship with the orc tribes of the steppe.

Bulgarians are scattered primarily along the northwestern shores of the Black Sea, of Bulgar-human descent. Bessarabia, the Crimea.

Votyaks dwell in the hill-forests between the valleys of the Kama and the Vyatka, of Bulgar-gnoll descent.

Cheremiss and Chuvash are passive peoples of ¼ orc blood mixed with human. They are crop planters

Mordovians, like the Cheremiss, are herders with ¼ orc blood mixed with human.

Tatars are a dissected peoples, of orc-goblin mix, scattered on both the eastern and western slopes of the central Urals.

Bashkirs are an extensive and aggressive group occupying the Pre-Ural Plateau, of orc-human blood.

A ubiquitous peoples occupying much of the Arctic coastlands, stretching from the White Sea to the Laptev. The two pure-blood groups are the Ver’Kray tribes west of the Urals, and the Sam’yads, east of the Urals.

Ver’Kray is an extensive kingdom, including the territories of Naryan Mar and Glu’Bak.

Sam’yads dwell throughout the Samoyad Peninsula, the northern tundra lands of the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas, and the valleys of the Chulym and Kets rivers (where they are pirates). This last group migrated to the southlands centuries before.

Flinds are a peoples which occupy the highlands to the east and south of Gaa-Kaa, and represent a fair portion of the armies of that kingdom.

Kazakh, Kara-Kalpak, Kirghiz, Altayan

These peoples occupy the Manych and Caspian depressions, Ust-Urt Plateau, the Kirghiz Steppe, Turan Lowland, Kazakh Plateau, the Baraba Steppe, and vast areas adjacent to these. The Fergana Plain and various other small regions of steppe within the Tien Shan-Pamirs highlands are also occupied by orcs. The steppelands of the Minusinsk and Krasnoyarsk basins are orc lands.

Between the Black and Caspian Seas, and south of the Aral Sea, is the heart of orc culture, in continuous control of this land since the time of the Parthians.

Ogrillon - Kalmucks
Occupying the highlands of the Pamirs and Tien Shan, as well as the Amur Basin.

Khanty; Ostyak


Evenki, varying Paleo-Asiatics

The Oirots live in conical tents covered with bark.

Obscure Tribes: Circassians, Kabardinians, Abkhasians, Ingushian, Chechens, Avarians, Darginians, Lakians, Tabassaranians, Lesginians, Swanians, Mingrelians, Lazians. Possible races: Troll, Minotaur, Amazon, Troglodyte, Qullan

Armenians, Ossetians, Tatic, Azerbaidzhan, Germans, Liths, Letts, Greeks, Moldavians, Koreans

The Letts, which conquered the eastern Baltic coastlands millenia ago, were berzerkers; some of that blood still exists within a few of the people of Courland.

Vepsians, Vodians (Iskis, Ingria)

Today, scant populations of minotaurs, descended from the Cimmerians, can be found in mountain ranges from Transylvania into central Persia.


Russia has been culturally isolated since the Mongolian invasion of the 13th century. As the Renaissance stirred the west to intellectual curiosity and activity, Russia remained aloof from the progress achieved by the rest of Europe.

Larger cities have increasing numbers of stone buildings, while the small towns and villages favor wooden or—in desert localities—adobe dwellings. Theatres, circuses, and concerts are preferred enjoyments. Other pastimes include checkers and chess.

Russian fashion dictates loose-hanging blouses and brimless hats. Fur clothing is important to the survival of large numbers of people inhabiting the cold, isolated country.

The Byelorussian derives his name from the traditional white homespun garments he wore. He is generally brown-haired, and brown-eyed.

The Volga, known as the Rha or Oaros in antiquity and as Atel in the Middle Ages, is affectionately called “Mother Volga” by the Russians. For centuries the Volga has been sung in folk song and recited in fable.

Moscow is known among the Russian people as “Little Mother Moscow.” It is the official residence of all the royal families. As the center of cultural and artistic endeavor, it has had as residents numerous writers, artists, and musicians.

Many Mohammedan customs, such as polygyny, the wearing of veils by women, and the treatment of the latter as inferior members are consistent with the orthodox faith.


Collections exist at Chernovtsy; Zorg, Irkutsk; Ivanovo, Izhevsk, Khlynov; Kishinev; Kostroma, Minsk, Odessa, Orel, Poltava, Ryazan, Simferopol, Tambov, Tashkent, Tilsit, Volsk, Voronezh, Wilno, Yegoryevsk; and Yerevan.

Zoos can be found at Kaunas, Kiyev.

Art collections are found at Minsk and Ufa.

Archangel is known for a valuable private collection of ivory carvings.

Dorpat includes a fine artworks collection in the Ratshof family.

Kazan contains collections of coins, gems from the Ural Mountains, and artworks. An armory of note is here.

A very special collection of religious relics, seized from the Tatar Mongols who ruled here, has caused Kazan to become a place of Pagan pilgrimage.

Ancient magic and artifacts of the Bulgar Ogres, once before in the hands of the Tatars and now the Russians, are also found here.

Kiyev contains collections of artworks and magic.

Konigsburg possesses an considerable armory, containing the great weapons collected by the Teutons. An major art collection also exists in the city, and several minor ones.

Kursk includes collections of artworks and magic.

Lvov includes considerable collections by the families Ossolinski and Lubomeirski, as well as several others.

Moscow includes a collection of ancient writings is housed in the Kremlin. The monks of the Convent of the Miraculous Apparitions of Archangel Michael, possess an art collection.

Riga possesses many collections, including that of the Duke of Livonia. Such collections include the gathering of numerous ancient writings of the Lettish peoples; the largest collection of amber jewelry on earth; and magic.

Saratov possesses a zoo, herbal gardens, and an art collection.

Schaulen contains a notable collection of amber jewelry.

Smolensk has a collection of ancient writings.

Tiflis contains collections of artworks and magic.

Vyborg. The Viborgense family owns a fine collection of paintings, pottery, costumes, and other articles.

Druidic Circles

Circles exist in Ak-Mechet, Archangel, Dushambe, Harn; Kaunas (2), Kazan, Kiyev, Krasnoyarsk; Ltava; Minsk (2), Odessa; Tashkent; Tiflis (2), Tilsit, Vinnitsa; Vologda (2), and Wilno.

Bard Colleges

Colleges exist in Aktyubinsk; Bukhara, Baku, Chernovtsy; Erivan; Harn; Irkutsk; Kaunas (2), Kazan, Kharkov, Kishinev, Kustanay, Kzyl-Orda, Minsk, Murmansk, Odessa, Petropavlovsk; Pleskov, Samarkand, Tashkent; Tiflis, and Tilsit; Yakutsk

Festivals are held in Kazan (3), Kiyev, Mutrakan (2), Kiyev, Moscow, Murmansk, Perm, Tashkent, and Tiflis

Kiyev includes the Franko College.

Moscow includes several important colleges, including Maly College on Sverdlov Square; Mayerhold College; and Vaktangov College, as well as other colleges.

Among famous Bards was Simon Dach, a native of Memel.

Shota of Rust’av, who wrote the epic poem The Man in the Panther’s Skin, probably in the 14th-century, is regarded as one of the founders of Georgian literature.

Thieves’ Guilds

Pleskov includes the Chancery House.

Alchemist Guilds

Baku; Dushambe, Frunze, Ivanovo; Katub; Kaunas, Kazan (2); Kiyev (2); Kustanay; Kyzl-Orda; Lvov; Moscow, Minsk (2); Murmansk, Mutrakan (2); Odessa; Pavlodar; Petropavlovsk; Saratov; Tashkent (2), Tiflis (3); Tomsk; Torzhok; Urt; Yerevan

Artisan’s Guild

Irkutsk; Izhevsk; Kiyev; Perovo; Tashkent; Tiflis

Assassin’s Guild

Baku; Irkutsk; Izhevsk; Kharkov; Krasnoyarsk; Odessa; Samarkand; Simferopol; Tashkent; Tiflis; Tomsk; Urt; Vinnitsa; Yerevan

Naval Ports



Secondary libraries can be found in Archangel, Harn, Irkutsk, Kaunas, Konigsburg, Kostroma; Molotov; Moscow; Odessa, Samarkand, Vilnyus, Yakutsk, and Yerevan.

Lvov contains the Boworovis Library.

Moscow contains the Library of the Patriarchs.

Training Grounds

Places for the training of knights include Archangel.

For the training of griff-handling, Kiyev.


Lesser universities include those of Baku, Frunze, Irkutsk; Nalchik; Odessa, Perm; Petrozavodsk; Samarkand; Saratov; Simferopol; Tashkent; Tiflis; Yerevan.

Seminaries are found at Ak-Mechet; Aktyubinsk; Bukhara; Chernovtsy, Harn; Zorg, Kaunas (catholic), Izhevsk; Khorog, Konigsburg, Kyzl-Orda; Krasnoyarsk; Minsk, Moscow, Petropavlovsk; Petrozavodsk, Samarkand; Tiflis; Vinnitsa, and Vologda; Yakutsk

Cults are found in Syk’Kar, Urt.

The Synodal Building (17th-century), which contains the Church of the Twelve Apostles, may be found in Moscow.

The Collegium Albertium, founded by Albert I, Duke of Prussia, in 1544, is located in Konigsburg.

University of Vilynus, founded by Stephen Bathory as a military training ground in 1578; it has since expanded.

University of Dorpat, founded in 1632 by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, has suffered much oppression by the town’s community. Twice efforts have been made to close down the institution.

The Bibi-Khanum, in Samarkand, is another fourteenth-century college which is a structure of splendor.


Baths can be found at Gagry, Gulripsh, and on Saaremaa; in Adzharia and Kubanistan; in Kis, Samara

Beaches may be found along the Kurisches Haff, and at Parnu

Mineral Hot Springs are found at Chisinau, Orn, Tiflis, and Zorg.

Sanitariums may be found along the southern Crimea, at Yalta, Alupka, Soldayey, Balaklava, Alushta, Feodosiya, and Livadia.

Pag includes mineral springs which have cool and warm, as well as sulphurous and saline waters.

Nalkistan includes several magical mineral springs.

Castles, Fortresses & City Design

Bokhara has a definitely Eastern appearance. It is surrounded by a crumbling mud-brick wall, possesses narrow, crooked streets crossing many canals, and has scores of mosques. Near the Mir-Arab is the 203 ft. minaret.

Samarkand has many fine, magnificent edifices left by Tamerlane. The Rigistan is a large square, enclosed on three sides by buildings decorated with brilliantly colored tiles. The Mohammedan part of the city comprises narrow, winding streets with low, flat-roofed houses of adobe.

A striking group of domed building near the cemetery contains the tombs of Tamerlane’s wives and sisters. The Gur Amir, tomb of Tamerlane himself, has an elegantly decorated chapel. There is also the sumptuous grave of Shah Zindeh.

Kiyev - The city has the Kreshatic as its principal thoroughfare. Noted is the eleventh-century Golden Gate.

Ottoman Empire in Russia:

Chernovtsy has several attractive parks, squares, and gardens.

Chisinau includes the Alexandrovsky Prospect, the main avenue through the town. There are public gardens.

Erivan includes an old fort which rests upon a rocky eminence on the river bank. From the fort may be obtained an excellent view of Mount Ararat, 16,946 ft. above sea level.

Vati has a 16th-century Turkish citidel near the city and park.

Persia in Russia

Baku includes the Maiden’s Tower, a massive cylindrical structure formerly used as a lighthouse.

Poland in Russia

Lesser castles are found at Daugavpils (2); Grodno; Mitau

Minsk is famous for Alexander Square, is the center of the city. There is also a town hall.

Mitau includes a castle of the Teutons. Surrounding the city, as part of fortifications, is the Jacob Canal.

Tilsit includes a castle founded in 1288 by the Teutonic Order.


Fortifications exist at Bryansk; Ryazan; Serpukhov; Stalingrad; Tambov; Voronezh, Ufa, and Yaroslavl.

Town Halls exist at Orel.

Astrakhan includes Alexander Square.

Kazan includes the kremlin, founded in 1437 and the Syuyumbeka Tower, a relic of Tatar architecture. The principal thoroughfare, the tree-lined Voskressenskaya, leads across the town to the kremlin.

Moscow is divided historically into five main parts, which form concentric circles. In the center is the Kremlin, the oldest part of the city, which is located on Borovitzky Hill above the Moscow River. Adjoining the Kremlin is the Kitai Gorod or Chinese City, the crowded, irregularly built center of business. The Kremlin and Kitai Gorod were combined into the Gorodskaya Tchast, or City Quarter, which was surrounded in 1534 by a whitewashed wall, approximately 1½ mi. long.

The city center is Red Square, which lies to the east of the Kremlin, between it and the historical division of Kitae Gorod. Nine hundred yds. Long and 175 yds. broad, it is bounded by the Kremlin wall on the west, by the former Trading Rows on the east, and by the Cathedral of St. Basil on the south. The Trading Rows of the old city, on the east side of the square, contain various offices and storehouses.

In a semi-circle around the inner city is the Byely Gorod or White City, which is the most elegant section, with numerous palaces and public buildings, and the most exclusive district; it is girdled by handsome boulevards 4½ mi. long on the site of the former wall. The Byely Gorod has become the center of Moscow and Russia. Moscow is divided into six administrative districts: Zamoskvorechye, Baumansky, Sokolniky, Krassnaye Presnya, Khamovniky, and Rogozhsko-Simonovsky. Each district has a contact with the Red Square.

Adjoining the White City is the Zemlyanoy Gorod or Earth City, named after ramparts built here; on the site of the former wall is the boulevard-like Garden Street, 11 mi. long. The suburbs, occupying three fourths of the total area of Moscow, compose the outermost zone.

The walls of Moscow surround it completely. At the Vladimir Gate of the Kitai Gorod is the headquarters of the Moscow Guard. The Iberian Gate leads to the old inner city.

Of particular interest is the Tower of Ivan the Great in the Kremlin. The Tsar’s Bell, also known as the King of Bells, which lies in front of the tower. The bell-tower of Ivan the Great was built under Boris Godunov in 1600 as a public works project for the famine-stricken poor. Its five stories, 320 ft. high, are surmounted by a gilded dome and cross. In the tower are two churches and a synodal treasury; the tower contains 33 bells of various sizes. The Tsar’s Bell, the largest bell in the world, weighing over 175 tons, was reputedly cast first in the seventeenth century, but it was broken.

The highly ornamented Tsar’s Cannon, one of a line of cannon in front of the Kremlin Arsenal, was cast in 1586. The Kremlin Arsenal stands opposite the senate building; it is a storehouse for the Moscow garrison and is a center of defense.

The most important park is Gorky Park, along the bank of the Moscow River. The Alexander Garden, built over the little, marshy Neglinka River, lines a moat outside of the Kremlin wall. The Sparrow Hills afford an excellent view of the city.

Nizhni-Novgorod consists of three parts: the upper town, 330 ft. above the east banks of the two rivers; the lower town, on the immediate banks below; and the Kanavino section, or foreigner’s quarter, on the Oka’s west bank. In the upper town, on the highest point, is the fourteenth-century kremlin, enlarged and modified many times.

Pleskov is surrounded by 12th-century Kremlin walls.

Ufa includes the governor’s residence.

Sweden in Russia

Narva includes Swedish and Teuton fortifications. The high square tower, known as “Long Herman,” on the southeast side of the old castle of the Teutonic Order, dates from the sixteenth century.

The 15th-century Ivangorod Fortress, lies the right bank of the Narova River, opposite the town.

Riga includes a massive castle, with two crenelated towers erected in 1330 as a commandery of the Teutonic Order. A citidel also exists in the town, and the 17th-century Powder Tower.

Vyborg includes the 13th-century Gothic castle, around which the city developed, and the Fat Catherine tower of the old walls


Ltava includes the Memorial Stone.

Lesser fortifications are found at a bluff overlooking the Dnieper, 30 mi. east of Kamenskye.

Ruins & Catacombs

Anau is the site of two ancient settlement mounds near Merv. The more important mound is the northerly, older one, of a comparatively primitive farming community. The general level of culture corresponds closely with that at Sialk on the Iranian plateau.

Gagarino is situated on a terrace of the river Don, a few miles below the ruined city Lipetsk in south Russia. Buried is an oval hut (about 18 x 22 ft) having the floor scooped out of the subsoil to a depth of approximately 18 in. Mammoth tusks and stone slabs defined the edge of the hut, from the floor of which were obtained implements of flint, bone, and ivory, and close to the wall were found a number of female figurines carved from mammoth ivory. Among the animals represented in the food debris were woolly rhinoceri, mammoths, and wild oxen; bird bones and remains of foxes and marmots will also be found.

Kazan. 30 mi. to the northeast is the ancient capital of the Bolgary Khanate, predating the Mongols.

Kerch has beneath it several catacombs dating from the 2nd to the 5th-century A.D. Kurgans, or burial mounds, around Kerch contain numerous treasures to those who discover them.

A hill back of the city is called the “Mound of Mithradates.” According to legend, it contains the tomb of Mithradates VI, who died a century before the birth of Christ.

Kis is surrounded by hills which contain numerous caves.

Lake Ilmen once had prehistoric settlements around its shores.

Lipetsk and Spasski were both cities destroyed by the Mongols in 1240-41, and never rebuilt.

Sevastopol was destroyed and never rebuilt.

Smolensk includes the five-domed Cathedral of the Assumption, founded in the early twelfth century, was destroyed in 1611.

Voronezh, founded upon a Khazar town, retains underground catacombs used by the trolls.


PatrickW said...

That is an impressive amount of research. "You are a better man than I, Gunga-din."

Out of curiosity, how much of that has come into play so far in your various campaigns? Kazan sounds like an interesting place to adventure from the various things you list about it.

Alexis said...

Not so much as you'd think. That's why I abandoned this sort of detailing. With wikipedia so expanded, I rely on having the information when I need it, instead of listing it out ahead of time. The sort of planning that needed this sort of material has been made unnecessary.

PatrickW said...

Fair enough and about what I expected. I have a tendency to detail out areas in my game world that interest me, even if the players are not currently active there. I'm trying to cut down on that and focus mainly where the game is actively happening. Seems to be working right now, but I do occasionally want to write on other areas...