Barovian culture and norms

“…Barovian culture is dominated by the ethnic Barovians, who have lived in the area for seven and a half centuries. Their language, Balok, is one of the most widespread tongues throughout the southern Core. The second largest ethnic group in Barovia are the Gundarakites, who became second-class citizens (at best) of Barovia when Strahd XI annexed neighboring Gundarak during the Great Upheaval in 740 BC. The Gundarakites are an oppressed people, and mainly stay in the vestiges of their former homeland in the west of Barovia. There are also smaller groups of Forfarians, the descendants of refugees from Forlorn when it was revealed to Barovia in 550 BC, and the Thaani, who fled across Barovia’s southern border from the horrid realm of Bluetspur in 585 BC. These two minor ethnic groups have maintained their ethnic identity by refusing to intermarry with ethnic Barovians. Finally, the Vistani have a large presence in Barovia, largely due to the pact they have with the von Zarovich family. The Vistani are a nomadic people, but there are always some tribes to be found within Barovia’s borders, as it is the safest place for them throughout the Core…”

“…Barovian society is largely medieval, and the majority of its populace are poor peasants and serfs, working the farmland of the von Zarovich family under the watchful eye of the local boyars. Those few who are free are mostly small farmers, herdsmen, and fishermen. The villages and cities are a different matter, with many craftsmen and merchants to be found…”

“…Barovians tend to marry at a fairly young age, 16 for males and 13 for females, though they do not observe the practice of arranged marriages. Their customs do not allow for divorce or remarriage for widows or widowers. Since many Barovians work on farms, their families tend to be large, and women are expected to bear as many children as they can. As a consequence, many mothers die in childbirth and the infant mortality rate is high during the first two years of life. Barovians receive no formal schooling, and few, if any are literate. Wealthy children are taught by private tutors or are sent abroad to study…”

“…The majority of travel is done on foot, as the mountainous terrain is ill-suited to horse-riding. As a result, the folk of Barovia are quite sedentary, with many never even leaving the village they were born in. Most of the rivers are too hazardous for boat travel, though Lake Zarovich’s deep waters have been a haven for fishermen for centuries…”

“…The Barovian people, despite their varying ethnic backgrounds, all share at least one thing in common: a dislike of strangers, almost to the point of xenophobia. Their harsh glares and lack of hospitality are due to the years of living under the stern rule of Count Strahd. Barovians care little for the ways of others and prefer to mind their own business—and usually their own business consists of day-to-day survival…”

“…All Barovians have an almost crippling fear of the supernatural. Their daily rituals involve locking every door and window at sunset. They regard magic with equal superstition. Arcane magic, in particular, is believed to be the gift of demons, and the foolhardy spellcaster in Barovia will likely find himself facing an angry mob…”

From the pages of Fox Hunts a travelogue penned by Laurie Foxgrove-Weathermay on Barovian culture following the Great Upheaval

Barovian culture and norms

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