...but it turns out that he is actually a cool dude who wears hats who had a mini-D&D setting, called Mavet Rav published in Dragon Magazine in 2008.
I went looking and found out that he put his campaign setting online back in 2012, in an article called: Mavet Rav Revisited. Here is the start of the article, to give you a clue about why you should click and read the rest:
Urikson on the D&D Kids blog wrote:The Oligarchy of Mavet Rav
"Death is the thin line that separates the nobility from the common rabble."
-- Senator Ben Gufot
Sooner or later every adventurer has a brush with the authorities, whether they work for them to defeat some great evil, flee the law after being framed for a foul murder, or simply pay their taxes. In most cases we assume the government to be a benevolent monarchy or republic and the people to be normal and generally good folk. But what if interacting with the government and the people is the hardest part of the adventure? What if simply walking down the street is as challenging as surviving a trap-infested dungeon? This article explores such an unorthodox regime and presents four NPCs for inspiration or immediate usage in your campaign.
The Reign of the Dead: Building a Necrocracy
There are two types of necrocracies: direct and indirect. In direct necrocracy, high offices and positions of power are held by undead. This is most often found in evil, death-worshiping societies and frequently goes hand in hand with the worship of demon lords and evil gods. A more subtle form of necrocracy is when all important decisions are made after a consultation with the spirits of the dead. This type of government is most often seen in primitive tribal societies where the spirits of the ancestors are revered as gods. In rare and desperate occasions a good-aligned monarchy or democracy may seek the guidance of some legendary hero or ruler. Such consultations are a dangerous business, however, since death changes the mind of even the greatest heroes in deadly and unpredictable ways. . .
A necrocratic city is constructed much like a normal city (see page 107 in Dungeon Master's Guide II for more details) except for one major difference: the abundance of powerful supernatural beings, usually encountered only in the deadliest of dungeons, eliminates many basic needs such as food, resources, defensible positions, or even water. Why bother when you can simply conjure all these, or have your horde of mindless undead fetch them from anywhere in the region? Keeping this in mind, you can place a thriving metropolis in the middle of a lifeless desert; what nature lacks, the dead can provide with their magic and special abilities. In such a city, the living citizens are completely dependent on the undead elite. The undead ruling class not only provides magical guidance and protection, but also makes life possible in a hostile environment that would otherwise be uninhabitable. However, these boons often come at a terrible price . . .
Most necrocracies are normal cities that for some reason (usually faith or occupation) are ruled by undead and should abide by the rules presented in the Dungeon Master's Guide II. The status of the living inhabitants can range anywhere from little more than cattle to equal citizens, although usually they are closer to the former. Vampires need living people to guard them during the day and they need to feed on living inhabitants during the night. Other undead, lacking the vampires' many weaknesses, still need mortals for various purposes: Mummies feel that it is their duty to rule the living as intermediates between the gods and mortals; liches require mortals to aid them in their magical research, more-often-than-not as expendable test subjects; and death knights simply like to be surrounded by "fragile humanity" just to feel even more superior. In death-worshiping societies, the living consider it a great honor to serve, or even be sacrificed, to their undead masters, believing that the living are inferior and fragile and that undeath is the only true aim in life.
Cities ruled by undead against their will, on the other hand, are extremely oppressed and miserable, and they resemble huge prisons or labor camps more than towns. A resistance movement of brave paladins and priests aided by desperate citizens is as likely as a vicious secret police battling the popular resistance and keeping the populous in the dark. It's important to remember that although most undead are evil, they are also usually extremely powerful and inhumanly intelligent. They can prove a vital resource for any city willing to suffer the company of unholy walking corpses. An army of undead almost always defeats any living army of equal size (and uses the bodies of the slain to bolster its might). Politicians and diplomats who are likely to "live" for centuries can develop plans of such complexity and intricacy that few mortals could ever hope to grasp them, let alone foil them. Ageless wizards and priests can construct weapons and items of unspeakable potency, not caring for the decades and life-force invested in creating them.
With such great prizes, even nations who don't worship death gods could be tempted to live alongside (or rather under) sentient undead, even if it means putting their sanity and place in the next world at risk.
Lastly, it is important to note that different types of undead strive to create different societies and treat their living subjects in different ways:
- Vampires, prone to decadence, like to view themselves as the "aristocracy of the night" and the living as "dumb sheep" to play with and later devour mercilessly.
- Mummies see themselves as intermediates between the mortals and the gods and expect absolute obedience from their worshipers. The faithful receive great boons, while faithless suffer the tortures of the damned.
- Liches usually delve into their magic studies and ignore their subjects while slowly sinking into madness. If something is required of them, it is as likely to be met with genuine aid as with a finger of death.
- Ghosts rule from the shadows, using their malevolence ability freely and treating their subjects like simple "meat puppets." Spreading subtle fear and paranoia are likely to be their chief tools of oppression.
- Death knight rulers, far rarer then other types of undead, are murderous tyrants who rule through violence and intimidation. They create extremely militaristic societies bent on conquest and destruction of all that is holy.
Below is an example of one of the most successful necrocracies in the world: the Oligarchy of Mavet Rav.
I'm not going to repost Mavet Rav itself, but it looks from this top section that Uri was intending the city of Mavet Rav to be the centrepiece in a larger world where there were lots of these Necrocracies.
Has anyone used Mavet Rav? Did you use it on your own or did you slot it into another campaign setting (or build it into your own homebrew world)?
If, like me, you have never seen this until now, what do you think of it? Do you think you could raid from the Jakandor and Ghostwalk books to expand a Mavet Rav campaign? (Or could Mavet Rav be shoehorned int Jakandor or Ghostwalk?)