Kitezh refers to Bolshoy Kitezh, a legendary town that once stood in what is, today, the Voskresensky District of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast in Russia. Legend states that Georgy II, Grand Prince of Vladimir, built the town of Bolshoy Kitezh (Big Kitezh) on the shores of the Svetloyar Lake some indeterminite amount of time after he constructed the town of Maly Kitezh (Little Kitezh, somtimes erroneously identified as modern Gorodets) on the Volga River (today's Krasny Kholm).
Legend states that Batu Khan, ruler and founder of the Blue Horde, heard of the two towns and ordered his army to advance toward them. The Mongol army soon captured Maly Kitezh, forcing Georgy to retreat into the woods towards Bolshoy Kitezh. One of the captured denizens of Maly Kitezh, unfortunately, betrayed Georgy, telling the Mongols about some secret paths to the Lake Svetloyar and allowing them to pursue the Grand Prince unhindered.
The army of the Blue Horde followed Georgy and soon reached the walls of Bolshoy Kitezh. To the surprise of the Mongols, the town had no fortifications whatsoever – its citizens did not take up arms of any kind and, instead, were engaged in fervent praying, asking God for redemption. On seeing this, the Mongols rushed to the attack, but then stopped. Suddenly, they saw countless fountains of water bursting from under the ground all around them.
The attackers fell back and watched the town of Bolshoy Kitezh submerge into the lake. The last thing they saw was a glaring dome of a cathedral with a cross on top of it. Soon, there were only waves.
Today, it is said that, in calm weather, one can sometimes hear the sound of chiming bells and people singing from beneath the waters of the Lake Svetloyar. Some people say that pious individuals may even see the lights of religious processions or buildings on the bottom of the lake, and that the truly pure of heart and soul will one day find their way to Kitezh itself.
Game and Story Use
- The legend of Kitezh is real and, someday, the town will rize again from beneath the waters of Lake Svetloyar.
- Bolshoy Kitezh will rise again, when the stars are right and the Old Ones awaken.
- Bolshoy Kitezh will rise again, when Christ returns to Earth and the End Times draw near.
- The legend of Kitezh is real, though the town did not survive its sinking and was, instead, destroyed in the process.
- The PCs have been hired by a descendent of Georgy II to locate the ruins of Bolshoy Kitezh.
- The PCs find themselves in possession of a mysterious relic that appears to be from Bolshoy Kitezh.