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Poland is a country in Central Europe, situated between the Baltic Sea in the north and two mountain ranges (the Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains) in the south.

OverviewEdit

This country is bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine and Belarus to the east; and the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) and Lithuania to the north.

Dark AgesEdit

For quite some time the title of "King" wasn't even used in Poland anymore, the lands having been split up after the death of Boleslav III in 1138. During VTDA Poland consisted of small competing principalities and duchies. These were the Principalities of Greater Poland and Lesser Poland; the Duchies of East Pomerania, Kujawia, Swindnica, Silesia, Wlodzimierz, Chelm & Belz, Ruthenia and Podolia; and the Royal Province of Masovia.

Poland's people were drawn in all directions and, like the old saying goes, find themselves to be jacks-of-all-trades, but masters of none. In the west, the Poles must guard against the expanding Holy Roman Empire. In the north, a wide swath of territory from the east bank of the Vistula River all the way up the Baltic coast was inhabited by pagans who resist conversion to Christianity, and many a Polish prince had invaded the area out of "pious duty". To the east, the many principalities of Russia posed a challenge to Polish expansion. To the south, the direction in which the Poles have been most successful, they came in conflict with Hungary.

The capital of Lesser Poland, Krakow, was the most important city in the land. It was a central trading location, and many German merchants traveled into the city to sell their wares, especially cloth, weapons and armor. Krakow was famous for her fall fair, where almost anything from Germany, Italy, Byzantium or Russia could be bought along the cool waters of the Vistula.

The polish paid dearly for their indolence in 1240, when Mongol raiding parties ravaged their countryside and eventually defeated their armies at the Battle of Legnica. The Cainites of Poland are a reflection of their mortal herds. No central authority exists, though Tzimisce, Ventrue, Tremere and Lasombra might claim differently. Power extends just exactly as far as any one vampire can make good on a claim or a threat.

As with much of Eastern Europe, the Tzimisce controlled many of the Polish nobles and enjoyed playing their games of war and intrigue with their brothers in Russian territories. Poland's Tzimisce have been the ones largely behind the push to conquer the pagan tribes of the Baltic coasts (who were themselves led by older, still pagan, voivodes), but had little success, as most of the Polish "christian" soldiers are themselves still pagan at heart.

Other cainites dwell in Poland, much to the Fiends' disgust. Ventrue have arrived with the German merchants and have been slowly expanding their influence out from the Holy Roman Empire, annexing or simply taking over some of Poland's eastern territories. Gangrel practically owned the enchanted Bialoweza Forest, and scattered woods of the plains were prime spots for packs of Red Talons lupines. The powers of Faerie have not yet abandoned Poland at this time, and still enjoyed the reverence of pagans in the region.

Modern NightsEdit

Many powers tried to expand at the expense of Poland — the Holy Roman Empire, Sweden, Prussia, Russia and Austria. In the late 18th century, the nation was effectively erased from the map of Europe, only to be restored by Napoleon. It had to deal with a great amount of Russian influence over the course of the next decades, but it fought actively against that after WWI, only to become heavily involved in WWII at great losses because of its physical position between Germany and the USSR. After the war, Poland became a communist state, its population being subjected to tight control through the authorities. In 1989, the public achieved the dissolve of the communist leading party. Ever since, Poland has been rebuilding its economy and position within Europe. It joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

As you probably guessed, this is also a country that houses mostly Tzimisce and Brujah. These beings own large estates in the rural parts of Poland, sulking in their mansions and trying to stop time from moving onward. The re-growth of mortal Poland draws the gaze of other kindred to this place, too, of course. Warsaw, Lodz and Krakow offer a considerable amount of space and feeding ground, and several other cities are able to sustain at least a couple of kindred each. Warsaw does have a Camarilla prince in modern nights — a Toreador with local roots called Hannah Buszek — and the domain is currently coalescing around her. Expect a rather traditional European domain — by the rules, old-fashioned, age-dominated. The only things unusual are the frequent wary looks toward the old Tzimisce estates for signs of objection. So far, nothing happened, which might be a good sign as well as a bad one.

The country is a surprising haven for many of the Awakened. Numerous Lupines live near the Carpathian Mountains in the south, and a chantry of mages dwells in the coastal town of Frombork, seeking to find any lost works of Copernicus. The city of Krakow was ruled by Prince Razkoljna up until the Anarch Revolt, but nowadays it presents itself as a delightful mix of old-fashioned sites and the constructs of a newly modernizing nation. Whereas only a few cainites lived here before, many Toreador, Tzimisce and Brujah are now looking at the city with renewed interest.

The Oradea League has one of its most influential representants in these territories in the form of Hedeon Yaroslavich. His chief haven, a castle in eastern Poland, is guarded by scores of szlachta. These foul ghouls display claws, have natural armor plating and possess superior physical traits. Workers in Hedeon's mines have likewise been altered to perform more effectively. The villages near his castle are populated to capacity with ghouls who drink from vitae tainted wells, thereby becoming Blood bound to Yaroslavich. Other less fortunate villagers are taken to serve as guinea pigs in various vile experiments. Some now function as living traps in his dungeons or as living partitions in the rooms of his fortress.

Kindred who fall under Yaroslavich power are lucky if they are drained outright, as this Tzimisce lives up to his clan's infamous reputation for torture. Any survivors are Blood bound to him; along with his half-dozen childer, he uses these victims to further his schemes. One of Hedeon's more recent successes involved tricking the Sabbat into calling a Crusade against Camarilla forces in Szczecin; this action resulted in destruction for both sides. As a bonus, Hedeon's childe, Elica, became prince of the city during the confusion.

ReferencesEdit

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