An illustration of a castle for a fantasy role-playing game setting.
Castle Roskov currently maintains the seat of power in the country of Zarnova. The castle is situated 15 kilometers directly inland from the city of Wila which is the capital city of Zarnova. The castle is home to the current ruler of Zarnova – the vampire queen Lady Anya Voorish herself.
Castle Roskov is situated in an extremely hard to reach place deep within unnaturally dense forest of spruces. The forest goes on for kilometers in every direction around the castle. A number of the spruces tower to heights of 120 meters shadowing the highest spires of the castle quite easily. Thus the castle is not visible from above the canopy of the forest lest one is close enough to the clearing that houses the castle.
The castle is built from local stone excavated from the mountains to the west. The quarries are no longer active but still have a hefty supply of cut stone slabs that can be worked when replacement stones are needed in the castle. The workmanship of the castle is extraordinary – the castle was built to last. The general architectural style follows that of established Groam -influenced style that has been prevalent for hundreds of years and that is followed by many of even the newly built castles.
Court yards and gate houses
The castle has an outer court yard which is secluded from the inner court yard by a secondary gate house which makes attacking the actual castle buildings extremely hard. Both gate houses have portcullises and heavy oaken doors. No other apparent entrances to the inner yard exists. The gate house complexes both house only defensive paraphernalia and positions but under the current rule are mostly empty spaces since the undead defenders of the castle can’t boil oil,operate ballistae etc.
Towers and walls
The corner towers are vast and each house living quarters and storage areas as well as defensive positions. The battlements of the castle walls are not covered and the bailey of the castle is part of the castle walls making the walkways on top of the walls harder to operate as there’s no way to walk around the castle perimeters via walkways only. The battlements protrude outwards slightly making it easier to counter attack any climbers. The walls contain rooms and corridors inside of them and defensive slits allow the defenders to fire heavier anti-siege weapons from within but the current castle house no such items – the rooms are now mainly storage areas for arrows, halberds, swords and such items that the undead defenders are able to use.
Bailey and keep
The keep is a 5-story structure with a roof designed for several catapults. None exists currently. The lower floors of the keep are the vampire queen’s main living quarters and the top levels are off-limits to all except the vampire queen. The entrance to underground sections is through the keep only. The bailey is truly a remarkably spacey and even luxurious: the lower floor houses a kitchen and main hall and grand stairs to all the other floors – 3 of them and the attic. The hall is open in the middle for all stories and each story has an impressive walkway circling the entire space – and has yet enough room to house several dozens of rooms that are living quarters. Servants and workers live in the two floors that form the attic and have there quite spacious and comfortable living quarters. Bailey has it’s own small underground section accessible from kitchen and contains the food supplies of the castle. Another bigger underground section was built for excrement and it’s accessible from the inner courtyard (the compost can be removed and used as fertilizer).
The original builders of the castle had need for a church. The church has separate inner temples for each deity of the old Phylar pantheon and a central hall. The church is now used as storage space and in a state of sad disrepair and neglect. The vampire queen has never been seen entering the church and many say that the ancient sanctum still repels the undead from ever entering the church without burning to ashes. The church has a tiny underground section of it’s own and contains merely crypts of various ages. Entrances to the various crypts and corridors are cemented and sealed shut by the order of the vampire queen and nothing much is known as to who were buried there centuries ago. The church still contains vast treasures of the Theocracy of Phylar period but while the maintenance crew see them daily, none have yet had the courage to steal any of the artifacts. The items seem irrelevant to the vampire queen while she does understand their monetary value.
The inner court yard contains but a few other buildings. The stables can house a few dozen horses, three piggeries and two chicken yards have been built next to the stables under makeshift lean-to structures facing the wall. There are a few dozen chickens, goats, lambs and pigs roaming freely in the inner courtyard. Their well being is under the care of the maintenance crew.
Maintenance crew, cooks and healers
There are only a handful of (living, that is!) permanent residents in the castle. The castle grounds and environs are maintained by a crew of 12 humans hand picked by the vampire queen and well-rewarded for their creepy duty among the undead creatures lurking in the castle. The crew are on the castle grounds 12 hours a day from dawn and return to Wila via horse drawn carts come dusk. While not a coveted position by any means, the crew do get so amply rewarded that each month they bring home a salary surpassing a farmer family’s annual income. Cooks and doctors are part of the maintenance crew and their job is to prepare meals to the blood supply -members (see below) and see that they are physically well.
The Roskov Ring
Castle Roskov has a large meeting hall in it’s heart. This hall is the closest to government of Zarnova. The vampire queen keeps a retinue of powerful individuals as her aides to control and rule the country. This retinue comprises of 9 members and have regular meetings in the castle regarding matters of state. Some of them occasionally stay for longer periods of time and many bring aides, cooks, drivers, slaves or servants of their own easily surpassing a hundred persons combined when The Roskov Ring convenes.
The vampire queen Lady Anya Voorish
The main resident is of course the vampire queen herself. She lives in the castle and only rarely ventures outside. She takes maybe a tour or two around Zarnova annually conducting state matters, requisitioning blood supplies and making her power known to the land lords and commoners alike. Those tours take perhaps a month or two in total but are never scheduled beforehand or timed with any other precision than the vampire queen’s whim. She lives the entire castle and has no preferred dungeon, hall, tower or room. It is therefore impossible to predict where within the castle premises she is located at any given time – excepting the church which she shuns.
The blood supply
A group of 35 to 55 young(ish) adult males (of any race) call the castle their home now. They are all housed in the big bailey. These are the personal slaves of the vampire queen from which she takes her nourishment of fresh blood whenever she so desires and may even offer their blood to other vampires visiting the castle. The men are exclusively picked up by the vampire queen from around the country. They are not allowed to leave the castle – they are essentially prisoners. The alluring magic of the vampire queen further enhances the men’s subjugation but she also treats these men well since the quality of blood is of importance to her. The men are clothed well and attend to maintenance of the castle as much or little as they themselves desire. The men eat regular and well-balanced meals, they can engage in whatever activities they wish inside castle walls (such as healthy sports games in the spacious outer court yard) and the vampire queen has sex with the men to give them pleasure (even orgies with the vampire queen as a center piece are not uncommon) or arranges courtesan visits to the castle. Men that do not accept her rules she just sucks dry and tosses to a pile of corpses down below ground. When she bores with the taste of individual members of the blood supply, she usually releases them from her clutch and sends them back home with a monetary compensation ranging from meager to extravagant depending on how she felt about that individual. This is to encourage the people of the land to accept this strange and foul practice instead of resisting it. After all, should the men never return home, their families would most certainly rebel against her rule. Of the men who return home, most regard their time in the castle as “wonderful” and “well spent” but don’t actually seem to remember the presence of undead creatures and oddly have a greatly distorted memory of how the vampire queen looks and feels. As if they are still under some sort of charm or spell. The memories of the castle fade into oblivion entirely as time passes on.
Apart from being in a location surrounded by nigh impenetrable forest, the castle is also well protected by way of combatants of the undead sort. The vampire queen maintains an army of rotting corpses and skeletons manning the gatehouse, towers and parapets. They require no sustenance and sleep, do not care for the omnipresent mosquitoes, never leave their post to take a pee and observe their surroundings with relentlessness and unnatural senses unhindered by foul weather. Half of these unholy warriors are armed with bows and half with melee weapons. They are not competent enough to maintain or work traditional defense methods such as hot oil, fire arrows, ballistae or tar and hence the castle has none of these implemented. Aerial defenses are non-existent but the castle grounds are well built and quite resilient to aerial bombarding by larger creatures dropping stones, caskets of burning oil etc. The number of undead defenders is impossible to guess since the vampire queen may have hundreds of corpses rotting in piles deep beneath the castle in special chambers. They are there just waiting to be animated into duty. A sort of reserve. The undead creatures do not care for any person they are instructed to ignore and will let all those go about their business unhindered – perhaps a turning of the skull, shifting of the pose or a rattling of the teeth making them know that they are indeed sensed but ordered to be ignored. It is uncertain whether or not the vampire queen can spy about using the senses of any undead creature she has animated. Such is the story anyway.
There is no moat around the castle. The forest has grown quite close to the castle and the closest tree branches literally touch the castle walls. The proximity of big trees to the walls is giving possible attackers an easy vector in trying to climb the walls. Although the forest is extremely dense, the trees can be climbed and somewhat limited view from inside castle can be gained. Also the thick forests make for an excellent cover for attackers and observers alike. However, the local populace avoid the forest and say that it is somehow under the vampire queen’s control. This may just be superstition but the fact remains that the trees in the area are quite much older, bigger, twisted and denser than similar trees only some kilometers away.
Castle Roskov by Kimmo Mäkinen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.