In an effort to further integrate Kobold Press’ Morgau and Doresh into my Greyhawk game, I’m also going to bring in the Magdar people of Midgard. It’s a no-brainer, really. The Magdar of Midgard are based on the real-world Magyar, or Hungarian, people. Many of my place names for Morgau and Doresh are taken from Hungarian and Romanian sources, and the Eastern European vibe is really what I want for the vampires of Morgau anyway.
For Greyhawk, the Magdar will be an Oeridian people, mixed with Baklunish. In Greyhawk’s history, the Great Migrations happened before and after the Twin Cataclysms that brought Oeridian and Suel people to the Flanaess, originally inhabited by the human Flan and other humanoids like dwarves and elves. The Sheldomar Valley, especially around present day Bissel, is a great place for our Magdar to have migrated. Much like the Hungarian occupation of the Carpathian Basin, the Magdar will have traveled from their steppe homeland and settled into a land of opportunity.
For our purposes, the names of the Magdar tribes aren’t important, as we’ll see later. It will suffice to know that the seven tribes of Magdar were led to their new home by the Bulcsú tribe, who were chosen to be their new leaders. The Bulscsú tribe held the Grand Prince, who ruled over the Princes of the other tribes. The tribes of Magdar pushed the natives of the area south, towards what would become Keoland.
After establishing their land, the tribes entered into a Blood Oath, or Vérszerződés in their language. The Princes each drained some of their blood into a bowl, and each swore the following oaths to their ancient gods after drinking from the bowl:
- That the leader of the Magdar would always be a descendant of the Bulscú line.
- That all wealth obtained would be divided equally between the Princes for their peoples.
- Descendants of the original Princes would be on the Council which advised the Grand Prince.
- That any disloyal descendants would have their blood spilled.
- That if any descendant violated the terms, they would be forever cursed.
With his leadership secured and the Oath to bind the Princes, the Grand Prince made peace with the people to the south. The tribes began to settle the land, and the Magdar prospered.
It was not to last, however. Only one generation later, when the sons of the original Princes ruled the land, treachery turned to tragedy. Prince Lucan of the Gejza tribe coveted the rule of the Grand Prince, and conspired with the enemies of the Magdar to replace him. Though his efforts were successful, Lucan didn’t understand the severity of the Blood Oath his father swore. For breaking his oath, he was cursed to forever crave the blood that he had betrayed, and became a vampire.
After his transformation Lucan went on a killing spree, alternately killing his people and turning them to vampires. Ultimately, his co-conspirators turned on him and drove the remaining Magdar from the Sheldomar Valley. Lucan and his kin began to roam the Flanaess looking for a home. First they tried settling the southern Yatil Mountains, then they found solace for a time to the north in what would become the Empire of Iuz. Eventually, Prince Lucan and his Shroud-Eaters, as they were known, were driven underground and found refuge with the ghouls of the White Kingdom, with whom they formed an alliance.
The vampiric nobility kept “herds” of their mortal descendants from whom to feed, and so the Magdar live on today. With the establishment of their home in the Pomarj, the Magdar form the human core of the nation. They hold many important positions within the church of Marena, and have the most aspirants to the Order of Knights Incorporeal. Most members of the Szlachta, the body of legally privileged undead nobility, were Magdar in life.
No one alive knows of the Magdar and their Blood Oath, and only some of the Shroud-Eaters of Morgau and Doresh are aware of their Prince’s origins. Fewer still would ever ask Prince Lucan about it, for it seems likely that the Blood Oath curse could somehow lead to his demise.