The Principalities of Rus

Quick Start


Uniting a People, Mercenaries, Love of Foreign Lands

The Rus are in the middle of a sort of squabbling ressurgence, where from a single state have arisen several, vaguely inter-connected ones. There is a feeling that the old Kievan Rus must be made whole again, but obviously nobody wants any of the other pretenders to do it, and many are happy with the status quo.

Inevitably, a lot of aggression is take out on far-away lands in a disconnected sort of way. Soldiers and generals sign up as mercenaries, merchants travel far to personally establish trade empires and scholars go to centres of learning to bring home new knowledge.

It is not impossible that one of the Rus Grand Princes might even take a personal interest in the events happening in the Holy Land and choose to help expell the Infidel, and even the rival Catholics.

Who To Play

  • A tough, grizzled and near-barbaric mercenary general, with a great many seasoned warriors in tow.
  • A merchant princess, bringing her trade interests of her land to the Levant in search of even greater profit.
  • The young, carefree boyar (noble), keen to explore new lands and bring home tales of his adventures and even profits for his Prince.
  • A Scholar-Monk, keen to learn the deeper secrets of his faith and its history in the libraries and holy places of the Levant, searching for hidden truths.


  • The Rus are part of one of the major Principalities or perhaps even the ruler of a small or tributary Principality. Playes should choose one for their character. They are Orthodox Christians and part of the Orthodox States faction.
  • Rus characters start with a +1 bonus to either their Survival or Fighting skill. This means that the first rank of the chosen skill comes free - if you wish to have the skill at a higher rank, it simply costs one point cheaper.
  • Rus characters have access to Symbolic, as well as Hedge Magic and Witchcraft.

In More Detail

From the North, the land of the Russi, come only the barbarous people, wearing the furs of their kills and fighting in a bloodthirsty rage. I would not dare venture to their frozen lands for fear of enslavement or death, for there is no other good to come from there.

Asuman al-Manimid, Arab Traveller and Geographer

The Great Principalities of the Rus are known for their rise to the extremes of civilisation. Though they remain in stock a barbarian people, they are true Christians, their nobles, traders and peasants alike know the written word and yet they are great warriors. It is now from their ranks that our own Emperor chooses his most honoured bodyguard.

Georgios Laikates, Byzantine Chronicler


It is 1185 and Rus is an amalgamation of squabbling states: Novgorod Republic in the North, Vladmir-Suzal in the Northeast and Galich to the southeast, as well as a vast array of smaller ones. Though some century ago, these lands were all ruled by the Grand Prince of Kiev, internecine arguments and foreign intervention have broken up the earlier Rus state. Yet far from sending it into insignificance, the split has only fostered greater diversity within a developing national identity.


Having been officially converted some two centuries before, the Rus are Orthodox Christians and in that time it seems all traces of paganism have disappeared. Not as pious as the Georgians, the Rus are still know for their resolute faith.

Paganism still exists, to a degree - a handful of stories remain and there are practicioners of hedge wizardry and witchcraft. Even though the traces are few, much can still happen. It has even been said that the lands of the Rus are now broken as they accepted Christianity, and that a return to the darker, pagan ways would bring about a stronger, more powerful Rus, capable of conquest far beyond the lands where they now live.

Religion is not necessarily the core and cornerstone of a Rus characters - it is more as a part of everyday life.


The Rus states, though divided, are usually co-operative on matters that threaten them collectively or will bring benefits to all. Indeed, the nobility and royalty comes from the common Kievan roots and while it does not guarantee unity, it is a distinguishing feature.

Novgorod Republic

In the Novgorod Republic its people have achieved a most interesting form of government. The custom of inviting Rus princes to rule on the behalf of the Assembly have brought a civilised and ancient character to Novgorod. For the Princes are as Roman consuls and rarely rule for long, being as easily selected as deposed. Indeed, the arrangement grants a sort of freedom to both Prince and Assembly, the former pursuing military matters and the latters those of trade and governance, a happy medium rarely interrupted by aspiring Princes.

Mstislav the Eyeless, current Prince, has not shown overt ambition and seems content to follow the Assembly's rule, becoming rich and much-loved off smaller border conflicts. Perhaps he has something planned, but could such a plan put the people of Novgorod under yoke?


Vladimir-Suzdal is the most powerful of the Rus Principalities, ruled from Rostov, Smolensk and Vladimir by Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest and his many sons and daughters with an iron fist. A capable general and prudent politician, Vsevolod has worked to consolidate many of the former provinces of the united Kievan Rus.

He has even displayed acts of terror in razing to the ground a number of towns who would not submit to his rule. For now, his conquets have paused, but there is little doubt that he may wish to plant his sons and daughters on the thrones of all the Rus Principalities. His eldest, Xenia, is an extremely capable leader in her own right and has been influential in helping bring into line the conquered provinces.

Keen warriors, the Vladimirans are also capable traders and have an interest in promoting the expansion of the Church in their territories.


Galicia-Volhinya is a young Principality, emerging from Prince Roman the Great's accession to the the thrones of both Principalities. Now it is expanding its influence towards Kiev and hopes to take on the mantle of the old Rus capital.

Keen traders like the Novgorodians, the Galicians maintain a well-organised military force in order to protect themselves from the neighbouring Lithuanians, Poles and Hungarians who are a greater threat than the Rus squabbles.

Cities of the Rus

The city of Kiev, while no longer ruling a large principality, is nevertheless a place of greatness.

The Holy Land

Though the Rus appear to have little to do in the Holy Land, a number of their interests are linked tightly to it. As Orthodox Christians, they are natural allies for the Byzantines in their pursuit of re-establishing their once-great Empire.

Indeed, many generals and warriors serve with the Byzantine Emperor for great rewards and a Rus voivoda (general) is a terrific asset to anyone interested in military supremacy in the Levant.

Of course, with the new Peace, there is great opportunity to expand trade. With much originating in both the Baltic area and the Levant itself, the Rus Principalities stand astride the trade routes between them. If the trade of the Great Silk Road could be harnessed too, an ambitious Rus merchant may rise to great heights.

The Actors

Marina Yurievna

Maria was a great voivoda serving Prince Vsevolod I. Contributing her own gathered host to the Prince's rule, she was to defeat numerous pretenders and secure major victories for him. Upon Vsevolod's death, she ensured the succession of his sons and as a result was granted a Principality of her own.

Andrei the Varangian

The Captain of the Varangian Guard, the Byzantine Emperor's elite and personal guard, Andrei was in fact Rus. Having served two Emperors in his time, he had gotten very rich by the time he returned to his home country, there passing on his many varied lessons to the Rus.

Olga the Gold-tongued

Once a merchant of great renown, she had capitalised on trade with Constantinople, accruing a merchant empire spanning most of the Rus lands. Having passed on her business to her sisters and brothers, she retired to a monastery and has emerged as a religious leader calling the Rus to help stop the bloodshed in the Holy Land.

Why Join?

The Rus are a very versatile faction - as outsiders to the conflict in the Holy Land, you have more distanced interests and your lands are not immediately at threat from a war. You can play mercenary generals, allies of the other Orthodox States, or interested merchants and work towards a more personal goal.

Symbolic magic is extremely useful for enhancing your power as a distanced player in the Holy Land game and thus the Rus become prized allies. The faction background allows for any number of variations on the more common archetypes.

rus.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/20 01:14 by innokenti
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