The County of Sylvania
Elector: Sylvania is ably administrated by the Count Rudgar von Walden who is also a vassal of the Elector of Stirland (Graf Alberich Haupt-Anderssen); the Count is not an Elector himself. Graf Alberich is happy for the rulership of Sylvania to remain in Walden hands because no one else wants the responsibility; such is Sylvania’s evil reputation. The heir to the county is Rudger’s son, Rodrik.
Other Noble Families: There are several notable aristocratic families in Sylvania but to someone from outside the county it would be hard to imagine them being of the nobility such is their lack of wealth. Sylvania has been an impoverished backwater of the Empire for centuries and few, if anyone, has ever made a fortune there. The noble families that live there today are descended from those nobles who took up the Count of Stirland’s invitation to settle and rule in Sylvania after the Battle of Hel Fenn in 2145. Naturally these aristocrats were either very brave, desperate, or insane to even think of forging their own fiefdoms in blighted Sylvania, the Land of the Vampire, but settle they did. The von Waldens, being the richest, took the town of Waldenhof where they have ruled ever since. The three other most powerful nobles in the land include Baron Kristof of Leicheberg, Count Petr of Swartzhafen, and Countess Gabriella of Nachthafen. None of them desire to usurp Count Rudger and even if they did none of them have the resources for a military campaign. In fact they are all pretty much left to their own devices and rule their own fiefs as they see fit.
Geography: On the eastern border of Stirland, in the cold shadow of the Worlds Edge Mountains, lies Sylvania, the most ill-famed region in the whole Empire. For as long as anyone can remember Sylvania has been a dreadful place and even the chronicles of the Empire reveal that as long ago as the twelfth Century dark magic was practiced in the land and probably for many years before that.
Although the Empire gradually recovered after the Great Plague of 1111 Sylvania did not and it was about this time that a warpstone shower broke upon the infertile earth of the ravaged province, furthering the misery of its inhabitants even more. Disfigurations at birth are higher in Sylvania than anywhere else in the Empire and the Sylvanians themselves are often malnourished due to the fact that the land is largely infertile and very difficult to farm. If disease doesn't claim them then famine often does.
Sylvania has always been seen as a province of poor worth and up until the end of the Age of Vampires it was always governed by mad, corrupt, decadent and despotic nobles. Probably the most infamous of all the noble families of Sylvania were the von Draks and in particular Otto von Drak. Otto executed peasants at the slightest provocation and was given to putting their severed heads on spikes. His deeds were many and terrible and not surprisingly the other nobles of the land paid little attention to his demands and for years Sylvania was torn with civil strife. Only the emergence of Vlad von Carstein did Sylvania enjoy a brief renaissance.
By the standards of Sylvania the capital of Waldenhof is a thriving town. Much of it lies in ruins and it used to be able to give home to five thousand souls. Now only a few hundred remain to eek out a sorry existence under the shadow of Castle Waldenschlosse, where the ruler of Sylvania Count Rudgar von Walden does his best to govern this unpleasant land.
Of all the places of Sylvania Drakenhof is the worst. This was the place of the Von Carstein dynasty and the crumbled ruins serve as a reminder of what happened here; dark magic still saturates the air around the ruins of the castle. The village of Drakenhof is only inhabited by lepers and mutants. Somehow they manage to survive, subsisting on plants and insects and sometimes carrion; the lucky ones might be able to find alms that other Sylvanians, with a kind heart, have left them on the village's borders. Not surprisingly, no excisemen come here to collect taxes.
To the east of Swartzhafen lies Ghoul Wood, aptly named because of the large numbers of Ghouls that live there amongst the gnarled and twisted trees. It is rumoured that those Sylvanians who have reached the end of their tether, or are cast out, go to Ghoul Wood where an uncertain existence greets them. Only the luckiest, the most ruthless or the most resourceful individuals survive. The only available food is what can be found in the dark earth (typically disgusting, wriggly things) or the graves of fallen warriors from battles ages past. Sometimes goblinoids from the World's Edge Mountains wander into Ghoul Wood... never to return. It is also Ghoul Wood where, during the Age of the Vampire Counts, that the Von Carsteins hunted the Strigoi for sport.
Just to the west of Tempelhof lies Hunger Wood, a nightmarish place of blackened trees. According to Sylvanian folklore anyone who attempts to journey through the wood will be suddenly overcome with starvation and should a traveller be accompanied, those who succumb to starvation will attempt to devour their companions. No-one knows if the myth is true because anyone who wonders far into Hunger Wood never comes out.
Along the southern banks of the River Stir lies Grim Wood. The few travellers who have claimed to enter Grim Wood and come out again say that evil things rest uneasy in the depths of the forest.
Historical Notes: One can only guess as to what effect the Nehekharan Empire had on this region of the Empire. Thousands of years ago the Legion of Setep constructed a military base in the Sylvania area, no doubt with the intent to conquer further afield. But their stay was cut short once the heart of the Nehekharan Empire was threatened with destruction and so the legion left. An early human tribe known as the Gepids moved into the space vacated by the Nehekharans. Over the years they began to ape certain Nehekharan customs, most notably that of mummification and burial in tombs, and their shamans began to delve into the dark lore of necromancy after years of deciphering old tomes left by the Nehekharan priests. They also began to worship a mysterious death god whose rites involved human sacrifice. While human sacrifice wasn’t unheard of by the majority of the early tribes, especially with the Old Faith and other nature gods whose priests used entrails to see the future, the Gepids often used human sacrifice to increase the power of an individual and that of their death god. Other tribes and even goblinoids rightly feared the Gepids but they did fight for Sigmar in the final battles against the greenskins. In the new Empire, Sylvania flourished and became a province of great importance. However, in the 12th century the Great Plague ravaged the province reducing the populations of entire villages and towns and a warpstone storm cursed the land for good and it is from these events that Sylvania has never recovered.
It was Frederik van Hal, a powerful Necromancer, who came to Sylvania to carve out an Undead empire in the 12th Century (evidently capitalising on the misery and death caused by the Great Plague). He built the looming fortress of Vanhaldenschlosse in the east of the region, several miles north of Drakenhof, which would serve to be the capital of his Undead kingdom. During this time the Empire was at war with the Skaven who had decimated nine tenths of the human population using the Black Death as a weapon and Vanhal had many victories as he unleashed his Undead horde on the weary humans. But Vanhal was assassinated by his ambitious lieutenant, Lothar von Diehl, leaving the Necromancer's fledgling empire at the mercy of goblinoids, Skaven, and humans. The castle of Vanhaldenschlosse is now nothing but ruins, although it was subsequently rebuilt by the Von Carsteins, it was once again ruined when the Age of Vampire Counts came to an end.
Sylvania enjoyed a period of stability when Vlad von Carstein took over the rulership of the province from the insane Von Draks and for two hundred years Sylvania became a productive realm. Yet there was another agenda. Vlad was merely making Sylvania strong for battle, including infecting the other Sylvanian nobles with the curse of vampirism, and it took two centuries for him to achieve this. With his Undead armies Vlad devastated Ostermark and defeated several Imperial armies. It was at the Siege of Altdorf (2051) that Vlad finally was slain. The most widely held account of this episode is that the Grand Theogonist Wilhelm III embraced the Vampire Lord and the momentum sent both of them falling to their deaths from the walls of Altdorf and onto the wooden stakes below.
The last of the Vampire Counts was said to be Mannfred von Carstein who perished at the Battle of Hel Fenn in 2145. Some say his body was never found but others say that his carcass lies somewhere in the swamp. After this battle the Count of Stirland added Sylvania to his own realm and invited nobles throughout the land to help administrate it. It was from this episode that created the Sylvania of today. But some whisper that Mannfred did not die at the battle and fear his return.
From TEW to present day: During this tumultuous period nothing happens in Sylvania to alter the regime. None of the nobles of the Empire wanted this impoverished backwater leaving Count Rudger to his own devices. Even though the Vampires have long gone, no army would wish to enter Sylvania, least of all conquer it.
Relations with the Emperor: Sylvania is of no concern to Emperor Karl-Franz. To him and his courtiers it is a region of Stirland and Graf Alberich Haupt-Anderssen’s responsibility. Meanwhile Count Rudger has absolutely no dealings whatsoever with the Imperial Court, especially as the nobles there think of anyone east of the Upper Reik to be a beggar. So to all intents and purposes Sylvania is effectively alone: a forgotten, impoverished land in the eastern Empire with no influence whatsoever outside its boundaries. Relations with the Cult of Sigmar, however, tends to be strained as in the past several Grand Theogonists called for crusades against Sylvania the most successful of which was called by Jurgen VI in 1650. But the Empire was too weak and fragmented at the time to capitalize on any gains thus effectively handing Sylvania back to the mad von Draks.
Relations with Neighbouring Provinces: Being a shunned region of the Empire it is not surprising that Sylvania has few dealings with any other provinces. It is bordered by the League of Ostermark, the Grand County of Stirland, the Mootland, the Grand County of Averland, and the Border Princes across the other side of the Black Mountains. Of all these, the only dealings, how ever few, is with the parent province it is attached to, that being Stirland.
Non-Humans: Only Humans live in Sylvania (and humanoid things).
Religion: The Sylvanian nobility can be counted as Sigmarites whereas the majority of the common folk are followers of the gods of nature: Taal being the most popular with the Old Faith coming second. In fact the peasants have their own superstitions intermingled with these beliefs and for well they might because of Sylvania’s history. They still believe that dark things stalk the night and when the sun finally disappears heralding the darkness, the peasants hurry to their homes where they lock and bar their doors and hang bundles of witchbane and daemonroot over their shuttered windows in the hope that these herbs will ward off the evil of the night. Many also trail a line of salt around their homes, which they believe will offer the same protection.
Given Sylvania’s dark history it would be presumptuous to assume that no one follows the death gods of old. There are some who have not forgotten the past. Indeed, there are some who worship the Vampires of old as gods and look back on the Age of Vampires as Sylvania’s golden age (the period approximately from 1797 to 2145). In fact there are several Vampire cults in Sylvania and they may have branched out to other provinces too. They believe that their Undead masters of old will once again walk the earth and rule Sylvania as they had done centuries ago. Some even claim to be Vampires. There are also some disciples of the Cult of Nagash who worship the Great Necromancer as a god – Nagash could well have been the ancient death god of whom the Gepids worshipped all those thousands of years ago.
In some villages and hamlets Nurgle the Plague God is worshipped openly. Such is the misery and desperation of so many Sylvanians that they will turn to even the most vile gods for succour. They prey and offer sacrifices to him in the hope that he will lift their suffering. Seeing as these places have few, if any, visitors from the outside, they are free to worship Nurgle as they see fit and in any manner they choose. Such a situation would be unheard of course anywhere else in the Empire.
Military: What military tradition Sylvania had has long been consigned to history. Up until the 12th century, Sylvania participated fully in military ventures throughout the Empire and beyond but the Great Plague and subsequent warpstone storm decimated the population making the rulers unable to mobilize any armies (there was particular discontentment among the Imperial nobility of the von Drak’s reluctance to send any of their sons to the crusades in Araby in the 15th century). There was a brief renaissance under Vlad von Carstein’s governance – the population rose, the county became rich again allowing the nobility to easily carry out their obligations to muster an army - but since then they have been unable to mobilize anything resembling an army.
Today, Sylvania only musters small groups of militia for defence. More often than not it is to counter an immediate threat, such as a ghoul in a forest preying on unwary travellers or other Sylvanians. Generally speaking Sylvanians only venture far from their villages or town in large numbers. When they are happy that the threat has gone then they immediately disperse and go home. The Sylvanian militias are basically groups of peasants armed with pitchforks, hatchets or anything else they can lay their hands on. Only the larger settlements, i.e. towns, have watchmen but only in very small numbers and fewer still are armed with real swords.
Military Colours: Being part of Stirland, Sylvania is supposed to field troops wearing the traditional green and yellow. But as Sylvania can only offer pitiful amounts of manpower for any military campaigns what colours they wear matters very little. The small numbers of militia that can be raised typically wear their own clothes and one or two of their number will carry the heraldic device of their master as the Sylvanian nobility are too poor to properly cloth their troops in uniform and the peasants themselves certainly can’t adhere to any colour schemes.
|Settlement Name||Size||Ruler||Imperial Census Pop||Estimated Pop||Wealth||Source of Wealth||Garrison/Militia||Notes|
|WALDENHOF||T||Count Rudger von Walden||653||653||2||Agriculture, Trade, Govt.||80c|
|Leicheberg||ST||Baron Kristof||302||302||2||Agriculture, Timber||40c|
|Drakenhof||V||Count Rudger||56||56||1||Subsistence, Alms||-||Inhabited by mutated and diseased peasants|
|Naubonum||V||Count Rudger||72||72||1||Subsistence, Alms||-|
|Tempelhof||V||Count Rudger||63||63||1||Subsistence, Alms||-|
|Castle Drakenhof||-||Count Rudger||-||-||-||-||-||Ruins of the ancient capital of Sylvania|
|Vanhaldenschlosse||-||Count Rudger||-||-||-||-||-||Ruins of stronghold of Vanhal. Ghouls are its only inhabitants|
Size: Settlements are classed as: (C) City, (CS) City State, (T) Town, (ST) Small Town, (V) Village, (F) Fortress, Castle or Monastery.
Ruler: Refers to the suzerain of a settlement or settlements who is in reality under the rulership (often nominal) of the provincial Elector.
Wealth: Settlements are rated as followers: 1 impoverished, 2 poor, 3 average, 4 wealthy, 5 very rich.
Garrison/Militia: Refers to the quality of men under arms in a settlement: (a) Excellent – these are standing troops such as knights and the private retinues of the nobility, (b) Average – these are good troops and are generally a mercenary contingent attached to a settlement, (c) Poor – these are the number of able-bodied men available (greatly subject to change) to a settlement in times of war, included in this are militia and watchmen roughly making up 20% of the number.
PCs from Sylvania
People from Sylvania are highly superstitious folk, as one might expect. If anyone has the means to leave Sylvania, they will, so it comes to no surprise that a man or woman might turn to the life of an adventurer. Whilst they may not have seen many ghouls and ghosts (if any) they will have seen a lot of neglect and suffering in Sylvania.
Characters can choose to come from Drakenhof if they wish; the old Vampire capital of Sylvania, but there is a 25% chance that they will be suffering from a disease. Even if they aren't actually suffering from an ailment there is a 75% chance that they will be carrying one: usually Black Plague or Red Pox.
You do not choose to go to Sylvania in the hope to broaden your career prospects, which is why most able-bodied people will be militiamen or gamekeepers. Grave Robbers are most likely employees of some foreboding hooded employee. Sylvanians with noble blood are looked upon as having links with Sylvania's dark past: the Vampires.
You might like to give any characters from Sylvania some distinguishing features from Hogshead Head's Apocrypha 2supplement, because Sylvanians are largely a degenerate bunch, namely features such as: large/flat/hook nose, scar on face, one eye, one arm, limp, bald, excessively hairy, stooping, very short, very skinny, pale-skinned, scarred skin, broken teeth, short legs, rough hands.
There are no Halflings, Elves or Dwarf characters from Sylvania.
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|RANGER CAREER CHART|
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Sylvania Adventure Hooks
The Beast Lurketh
Lately in Sylvania, Ghouls are abroad and in large numbers and are becoming more and more cunning and coordinated with their attacks. Large wolves have also been seen in the forests and they do not fear fire. Even on the best of days Sylvanias are a frightened bunch but now they are terrified. Where before the various outcasts and beasts of the forests could be scared off by the pitchforks and flaming torches of the local militias, now they are bolder.
The governor of Sylvania, Count Rudger, is naturally concerned and what farming produce Sylvania actually makes to feed its malnourished population is being threatened. Soon there will be widespread famine on such a massive scale that there won’t be anyone left in Sylvania. The Count has sent various emissaries to Stirland over the past few weeks and although their concerns have been addressed nothing has been done. No one outside Sylvania gives a damn and if the province is to starve to death then so be it. The Cult of Sigmar is unrepentant claiming that finally the sins of the Sylvanian people have caught up with them and they are being punished.
What is happening in Sylvania? A Strigoi Vampire (see the Critical Hit bestiary) has taken up residence in the squalid diseased village of Drakenhof and is orchestrating all the troubles in the province. He is controlling all the ghouls, the wolves, and all the nasties to make life unbearable for the Sylvanians and especially for the resident nobility. But he is no ordinary Strigoi. He is none other than Nikali von Drak, son of the mad despot Otto von Drak. It is true that the stories say Otto never had a male heir, only a daughter (Isabella von Carstein, the Vampire wife of Vlad), but Nikali was the illegitimate offspring from a brief liaison between Otto and a young milkmaid over seven centuries ago. When Otto heard that he had fathered a bastard, especially a peasant one (the milkmaid had managed to keep the secret hidden until Nikali was in his teens), he had her brutally tortured and then impaled for telling lies and would have done the same to Nikali if he hadn’t escaped into the forest. For weeks he survived off what measly morsels he could from the forest and at the same time he had to avoid the cruel blades of Otto’s search parties. Otto couldn’t let Nikali live and each time a search party failed to bring back Nikali’s body he had one of their number executed.
Eventually Nikali was found. The pursuit had exhausted him and the brutal search party gave him so many knocks and bashes that they inadvertently killed him. Rather than risk the wrath of Otto for denying the pleasure of torturing and maiming him, the search party dropped the body outside Drakenhof castle and fled. When Otto had the body brought to him by his guards he was relieved that Nikali was dead. The corpse was then disposed of in the forest and left to rot.
It was then that the Strigoi Dragan Redescu found the body and gave Nikali the Dark Kiss in the ghastly Strigoi way. Dragan had been observing Nikali for a long time and chose him to be the “blessed” recipient of the Dark Kiss. But unfortunately for him when the Strigoi Nikali awoke from death he tore his head off and devoured him in a fit of rage. Now Nikali sought revenge against the von Draks but before he could do anything Otto von Drak had died and Vlad von Carstein took over the rulership of Sylvania after marrying Isabella (Nikali’s half sister). Revenge would have to wait and he promised himself he would one day claim his rightful inheritance.
Nikali knew immediately that Vlad was a Vampire and a very powerful one at that. For centuries Nikali chose to do nothing while Vlad led his armies against the Empire and his successors did likewise only to be destroyed at Hel Fenn. He learnt that humans were dangerous and, even after Hel Fenn, Nikali stayed low and lived in various forgotten crypts and cemeteries around Sylvania.
Now Nikali has struck and has begun his grand plan to claim his inheritance as Count of Sylvania. To do this he needs to create so much upheaval in the province that the people turn against their masters. In fact Nikali himself will make the people trust him by personally seeing off all the ghouls and wolves that plague Sylvania. But that will have to wait. The people must suffer first.
The PCs can get embroiled in the events taking place in Sylvania by listening to the rumour mill. Apparently the Sylvanian nobility will not only pay extraordinary amounts of money for anyone to help their dire situation they will also be handing out titles and lands by the bucket load. Of course this is all false. The Sylvanian nobility, by average Imperial standards, is extremely impoverished. But Stirland hasn’t been totally without heart. The Graf is sending one of his advisers to meet with Count Rudger to see if he can’t help with his problems. The only snag is, is that no one wants to escort him to Waldenhof, which is why he will need to hire some guards. Will the PCs go?
To Castle Drakenhof!
The foreboding ruins of the first and last Vampire stronghold still remain in Sylvania as a sobering reminder of the province’s evil past. The castle’s last occupant was Mannfred von Carstein, before him the brutal Konrad, and still before him the eloquent Vlad von Carstein and then the mad and despotic von Draks, the last living rulers of Sylvania. Although locals shun this place like the plague there are some who will seek Drakenhof out and explore the ruins. These people are known as adventurers. Only adventurers are mad enough to want to visit the scene of some of the most despicable and most vile acts committed in the Empire. A magician would pay handsomely for a party of adventurers to locate Drakenhof Castle and then explore it for any books or magic artefacts. But finding a party willing to even Sylvania could be a problem in itself.
Drakenhof castle is rumoured to still contain vast amounts of treasure as well as a library of occult law, which would be invaluable to any wizard. The castle itself is huge, built on top of a massive clifftop from where it dominates the surrounding forest. It has four great towers and a gigantic central keep, beneath which is a huge number of crypts, dungeons and abandoned torture chambers. Secret passages run all the way through the cliff and are said to come out in the woods.
But the castle seems abandoned. The curtains and tapestries have rotted away, and the furniture is cracked and dusty. In the dining hall the obsidian goblets, from which Mannfred and his lackeys used to drink blood, still stand undisturbed on the banqueting table. The walls of the great hall are hung all along with portraits of the Vampire Counts: tall, gaunt, red-eyed men. It is possible that since they could not see themselves in mirrors, the Counts required the pictures to remind them of their physical likeness.
The Count Returns!
Mannfred von Carstein did not perish at the Battle of Hel Fenn almost four centuries ago. True, he was greatly weakened after the battle and did indeed almost come to an end but today he has gathered enough strength to begin his revival. For all this time he has been regenerating his powers in some forgotten crypt deep in the darkest forest of Sylvania. After Hel Fenn his broken body was taken to this place, rather than Drakenhof castle because it was being besieged by an Imperial army, by his loyal followers. But they too came to an end, killed by the scouts of the victorious Imperial army. So the immediate return of the Count had to wait. That was until a wandering leper came across the crypt, probably drawn there by some mystic power. Over time the leper tended to the crypt each day, making the Vampire stronger as he did so, feeding its remains with the warm blood of degenerates. Not a perfect regeneration by any means but at least now Mannfred is whole but by no means back to his full majesty. He needs something else and that is the blood of the descendent of the individual who almost destroyed him at the Battle of Hel Fenn. This can be anything from a minor noble anywhere in the Empire to even the Graf of Stirland himself! Although Mannfred von Carstein will use his own agents to do his bidding he won’t be averse to getting his hands dirty. Even though he is still weak he will stalk the Empire once again and feed on the blood of many a fine dandy page boy or girl. He may attend the lavish balls and parties of the glittering nobility and attempt to work his way into the right circles before striking. Once he has his prize he will take him or her back to Drakenhof castle and etc., etc.
A group of foppish young nobles have stumbled across the bloody remains of another noble while walking through the streets of a city or town in the Empire. The noble was the unfortunate victim of a gang of footpads. While the footpads stole all his valuables they did not take the collection of parchments and a large tatty book from his bag. But the young nobles, all students, took great interest in the parchments and the book and began to study them over several weeks. They found out that the murdered noble was in fact a member of the Cult of Blood; an underground brotherhood consisting of mainly nobles who desire immortality and worship the Vampires of old. The parchments were maps of Sylvania and the tome was a vile occult work written by Frederick van Hel, the Necromancer of old who ruled Sylvania for a time, which basically gave details on raising the dead and resurrecting Vampires. Now the young nobles are beginning to like the idea of resurrecting a Vampire and attainting immortality as the reward. The Vampire in question can be anything from a relative unknown to a true monster (the name of which was on one of the parchments.) True to form the prime ingredient for the resurrection is warm, human blood, spilt onto the remains of the Vampire as soon as the victim has had his or her throat cut. Naturally the students choose a beautiful young female student, one who is also attending their university. They kidnap her and then begin the trek to Sylvania where they proceed to locate the remains of a Vampire with the help of the maps.
How are the PCs embroiled in all this? A substantial reward is offered to anyone who can find the daughter of Heinrich von Luxemberg. And there is the fact that three or four other students from the university have gone missing too (the fellows who wish to resurrect the Vampire of course.) The young nobles took the boat to Waldenhof and have begun their work there. The young nobles may choose Drakenhof castle for this or they could choose any other dark and foreboding place in Sylvania. Can the PCs follow the trail quickly enough to prevent them from carrying out the resurrection?
A fanatical Sigmarite priest, by the name of Helmut Klosse wants to hire a group of mercenaries, i.e. the PCs, for a campaign in Sylvania. He believes that a Vampire lives there and the abomination needs destroying before it can do any more harm.
Who does Helmut believe to be the Vampire? None other than Countess Gabriella of Nachthafen. He first came suspicious when she was at the Graf of Stirland’s banquet. She refused to even attend at first and when she did she never ate or drank anything. He also became aware of some bruising and scabby marks on some of her servants’ necks and arms. He maintains that most, if not all, Sylvanian nobles are tainted by daemons and the fact that he has accused the luscious Countess of being a Vampire has led to his dismissal from the Stirland court – the young Graf Alberich fancies her something rotten. But Helmut will not let this rest and he will prove to the young Graf that the beautiful Countess is an Undead monster. All he needs is a handful of hardy and resourceful individuals to help him: the PCs.
Now you can go about this adventure in many ways. The Countess Gabriella could in fact be entirely innocent, i.e. a living, breathing woman. But even then there could be problems. Helmut will demand Trial by Ordeal and force the Countess to undergo all manner of religious tortures to prove his point. What would the PCs do if this happened? Would they stand by and watch an innocent woman tortured? Or would they go against the wishes of the powerful Sigmarite Church and rescue the Countess? Another possibility is that the Countess is definitely a Vampire but a harmless one at that. She rules her fief with fairness and never preys upon her people. Do the PCs do as Helmut asks and slay the Vampire? Or do they take a different view that she is harmless? What if the Countess is a gathering evil? What if she is biding her time to do something nasty to the Empire? (After all Vampires are immortal.)