The province of Kessig consists of rolling farmlands surrounded by grasping fingers of dense, dark woods. The woods hide werewolves, ghosts, and other supernatural menaces, while the farmlands support a hardscrabble rural livelihood for Kessig's humans.
Ulvenwald, the Misty Wood Edit
Howl-haunted woods of aspen, birch, and maple border the edges of Kessig province. The woods are almost supernaturally dense, filled with dark, sinuous trunks and a constant, hanging mist. The trees have broad leaves in muted reds, golds, and greens, and the forest floor is papered in damp leaves. The Ulvenwald tends to isolate Kessig from the other provinces, as travelers through the woods are subject to attacks by werewolves, hauntings by all manner of primordial spirits, and mysterious disappearances in the mist. At night, the autumnal colors of Ulvenwald turn stark and steely under the silver glow of the moon. The only spots of color that appear are the luminous eyes of animals and the geistfires of shimmering apparitions.
Kessiger Culture: Commoners and Rural Laborers Edit
For the Kessiger, life is work. Kessigers are farmers, millers, weavers, stonemasons: they are close to the land and must work hard for every meal. This makes them self reliant, pragmatic, and plainspoken. A Kessiger doesn't purchase tools from the general store; he forges them himself. She doesn't learn arithmetic or memorize the names of royal families; she learns harvest dates and the shapes of edible weeds. He doesn't quote great works of literature; he calls it like he sees it, in his own simple words.
Kessigers and Avacyn Edit
Kessigers are hardheaded and unpretentious people, and the face-to-face realism of the Avacyn religion fits right into their worldview. Kessigers believe in "the worked earth below us, the hand-hewn stone walls around us, and the angel above us." However, they don't trust the shiny boots of big-city cathars, the pristine fingernails of Gavony ghost-hunters, or the out-of-touch decrees handed down from the aristocrats of the High City of Thraben.
The Curfew of Silver Edit
Ever since Avacyn went missing last year, the church at Thraben has kept the truth of her disappearance from Innistrad's denizens. Kessigers, for their part, know that Avacyn hasn't been making appearances as often these days, and there are doubters and gossips who believe something has happened to her. In the meantime, werewolf attacks have gotten worse and spirit hauntings more frequent. There is a rising sense of panic throughout the countryside.
Recently, a new decree came down through the local priests and cathars. As a measure meant to protect citizens against werewolves and other hunters of the night, the law states that commoners of Kessig out after dark must wear an amulet of blessed silver. The amulets were crafted and blessed in the High City of Thraben, and have a potent effect against lycanthropes. But they are in limited supply, and some priests have quietly begun giving them out preferentially, in exchange for favors or promises of protection. Since the Curfew of Silver, relations between Kessig and Gavony have worsened. Some Kessigers have begun to refuse shipments of goods from Gavony and deny service to travelers from that province.
Etiquette in a World of Supernaturals Edit
Superstition and fear of supernatural creatures has woven its way into etiquette in Kessig. When you meet someone for the first time, it's polite to show that you are wearing an item made from silver (even though silver can easily be counterfeited, and only blessed silver has real protective power). Wreaths of living wood are commonly given as gifts, and are often placed on the door of a home where a child has just been born, a gesture meant to protect the child's life from vampires (even though the wood and its effectiveness die after a few days). It's customary to eat sour root soup before traveling, or to fast for up to a day before a long trip, habits that are thought to make one less appealing to werewolves and other hungry beasts.
The Sleep Revel Edit
It's traditional in Kessig to celebrate a person's life on the anniversary of his or her death, a joyous ceremony called the Sleep Revel—as long as the deceased has successfully stayed in the ground that long (instead of reemerging as a ghoul, geist, or other supernatural fiend). The continued undisturbed sleep of one's ancestors is seen as almost a greater blessing than the continuing birthdays of one's living relatives.
Supernatural Creatures of Kessig Edit
Kessig is home to werewolves, geists, and other supernaturals.
Werewolves in Kessig Edit
Main article: Werewolves of Innistrad
Several howlpacks hunt in Kessig, as do many lone werewolves. The Mondronen howlpack is dominant here during most seasons, but during the New Moon season, the Leeraug howlpack terrorizes Kessiger villages. Smaller, nameless howlpacks also claim dominion of some fingers of the Ulvenwald, waning and waxing with the moon.
The elder of Gatstaf once famously declared, "In Kessig, the werewolves outnumber the priests." Many lone werewolves live in secret among the Kessigers, too afraid of retribution to reveal themselves but too attached to their families and Kessig roots to leave. Suspicion and speculation run rampant among Kessig's commoners, fueled by frightened exaggeration and misremembered anecdotes. Kessigers hold conflicting views about how to detect, hunt, or cure werewolves, how many exist, what keeps them at bay, and what it all means for humanity.
Geists in Kessig Edit
Ghostly apparitions are second only to werewolves in terms of danger to the Kessigers, and geists may cause even greater psychological damage. The geists in Kessig are wild spirits of nature, prone to taunt or terrorize civilized life. They can be cold-burning geistflames made of surreal fire, mischievous poltergeists that shove at the physical world through the power of their outrage, or blood mists that envelop and devour the living. They can be beautiful nature spirits tressed in vine and thorn, beast-possessing geists that shimmer through the mouths and eyes of feral animals, or vindictive crop-spoilers that vex farmers and druids alike.
Other Supernaturals in Kessig Edit
Kessig is so ravaged by werewolves that many other supernaturals have been squeezed out, although rare individuals occasionally appear. Kessig has experienced few devils or demons, but a smoking fissure called Devils' Breach lies in the tall stone hills at the edge of the province, and threatens to boil over with demonic activity soon. Alchemically created zombies (skaabs) have become a kind of symbol of the evils of the big city; Kessigers often equate necromantic alchemy with black market trade, prostitution, religious heresy, and murderous conspiracy.
The average Kessiger has a double-edged opinion of vampires. In public the vampire families are spoken of as the height of urbane evil, but in private, Kessigers' salacious whispers betray fascination with vampires' refinement and celebrity. Few actual encounters with vampires have occurred in Kessig to date, so word spreads quickly whenever someone comes along the Hairpin Road in an elegant, shaded coach.
Locations in Kessig Edit
The Breakneck Ride Edit
There are a few main paths that lead into Kessig from the other provinces. Each crossway is fraught with peril, leading travelers through the Ulvenwald and over treacherous slopes, so those who make the journey do so at as brisk a pace as possible. Kessigers sometimes collectively refer to these paths as the "Breakneck Ride."
Lambholt, the Threatened Pasture Edit
Lambholt is a farming village at the center of miles of sheep, goat, and cattle pasture. The pastures near the town were once mingled with woods—dense arms of forest that once joined the Ulvenwald—but the Kessigers here chopped down all but a few trees to clear room for their farms. It's thought that wild essences resent the destruction of their forests, for werewolves continually terrorize the livestock and humans of Lambholt.
The villagers of Lambholt celebrate a harvest festival at the rise of the red moon, working late into the night by the light of bonfires, and cooking great feasts of fresh meat and vegetables. Lately, as the power of Lambholt's protective shrines has waned and werewolf attacks have become more frequent, the tenor of the harvest festival has changed. Now the highlight of the festival is a great hunter's contest, in which warriors and priestly champions go on hunts through the surrounding Ulvenwald, trying to slay the most powerful supernatural creature. Many never return.
Hollowhenge, the Lost Capital Edit
A ruin of wood and brick now stands where Kessig's county seat stood. Only a year ago it was a thriving small town of manor houses called Avabruck, and you can still find wooden signs among the splintered wood and broken gates that say "Avabruck" in cheery paint. But a new name has caught on—a vulgar name, a commoners' name: Hollowhenge. One year ago, after the protective power of Avacynian magic began to wane, the wards around Avabruck's central cathedral, the Temple of Saint Raban, failed. It took only two nights for the werewolves to discover this breach in protection. The howlpack known as Mondronen ripped through the town, slaughtering any in their path, charging straight for the Temple. There they took up siege, tearing down the cathedral and feasting on those who attempted to attack them. City magistrates gave the order to evacuate, but communications became chaotic, and many residents opted to ensconce themselves in their homes.
Seven days into the Mondronen occupation, the werewolf savages enacted some unknown type of blood ritual. A mystical, concussive force leveled the city from the center out, flattening most of the structures in town and killing hundreds. Only the outermost ring of Avabruck's buildings remained, forming a circular "henge" around the devastation within. Rescue attempts met with further werewolf attacks.
As time went on, the city was abandoned, even by the howlpack. Now only wild, terrified ghosts and the occasional werewolf scavenger scuffle among the ruins. It's said that all who were killed in the cathedral-shattering blast still linger inside the walls of Hollowhenge, trying in vain to reconstruct their homes or recover their lost loved ones. Some spirits are deeply angry and ferocious wights, dangerous to all who seek within. Despite the danger, travelers often pass near to Hollowhenge, as the former county seat lies at the crossroads of two major Kessig thoroughfares.
Devils' Breach Edit
Far from the towns, off the wagon-beaten paths, through vaults of primeval forest, a fissure known as Devils' Breach has opened in the earth. Smoke and heat waft from the chasm, obscuring its depths, and eerie voices mutter and cackle. Trappers claim to have seen literal devils near there, but so far, the influence of demonic forces has not been strongly felt in Kessig.