It is the month of Neptune in 590 Anno Draconaria - or as mortals would have it, November 1998.
Sarmatia is an ancient and always multicultural nation, home to half a dozen legendary warrior traditions, several branches of magic, and countless superstitions. Until recently it was part of an industrial communist empire, the backwater of the regime, but that empire has fallen apart, and now it is independent, free to seek its own destiny. As in so many other places on so many other worlds, that means both technology and democracy.
Hectic modern nights have come to storied Sarmatia at last. And they’ve found it troubled. Behind the scenes of human finance and politics, creatures of the night pull the strings. Ancient noble families buy and sell land, invest in industry, arrange for deals in elections and in organized crime, stock up on military surplus goods - the same as might be true in any fragmented, corrupt, and balkanized state. But here, all too frequently, those noblemen are never seen during the day - or perhaps, never seen during the full moon. Vampires and werewolves, keeping their true nature secret, can be found all over the world in their own ancient feudal kingdoms - but nowhere are they closer to power over the human world than in Sarmatia. Most things are handled through intermediaries, human servants - corvigers, they’re called, who willingly swear their loyalty and their blood for an apprenticeship, a shot at immortality. But behind the scenes, the ancient undead call most of the shots.
The ruler of a supernatural nation-state is called the Kurgan-Prince, ruling from a ceremonial tomb used as a court, an intimidating seat of power in the catacombs near some great castle or another. Under the old, undemocratic system, that ruler has always been a vampire - for the last century and a half, it was Lohengrin Cataphractos, an evenhanded, benevolent ruler with eight centuries of life experience, under whom all were welcomed and became powerful. But the feuding of his underlings, and the tedium of existence, proved too much for him, and he convinced his lieutenant to take his head after he had consumed a liter of holy water.
Now, with Lohengrin gone and his hand-picked successor implicated in the death, the realm lies open for the strongest contender to claim the tomb. Sarmatia has never had a werewolf as Kurgan-Prince, but in degenerate western nations, where democracy has been embraced for longer, it is not unheard of. Now, Lohengrin’s disgraced Cataphractos heir; a proud Draculesti crimeboss (and scion of the line who traditionally reigned in this area before Lohengrin); and an upstart, rabble-rousing Weirdwolf are all engaged in a quiet contest to gather the acclaim of the local packs and estates, enough to seize the title and make it stick.
In a month and a half, the first free election in Sarmatia’s tumultuous history will be decided. But between now and then, its traditions of war, magic, and assassination may take their own modern turns...