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Basic Information

In Russian Mythology, Koschei the Deathless is a recurring villainous character who kidnaps wives. There are a lot of stories about Koschei, and he drags off a lot of different brides and wives between the various tales.

Koschei is unkillable because he has hidden his heart inside an egg inside an animal inside another animal inside a container in some remote place… but if you can find that egg, whatever you do to it will happen to Koschei. Exactly where the egg is, and what the sequence of objects hiding it is, varies from one tale to the next, with no attempt at being consistent. You may have to swim out to an island, dig up a mountain, shatter a tree stump, catch an entire list of animals before you can smash that egg (and maybe even melt down the needle in the center of the egg) to get to his vulnerability. The egg may also be a vaguely egg-shaped amulet with an arrowhead in the center.

In some stories he knows a powerful sleep spell which lets him put entire villages to slumber in an instant.

Koschei's evil schemes are often foiled by Ivan Tsarevitch (armed with the Sword Kladenets), or sometimes by Ivan the Fool.

Unsurprisingly for a major figure of Russian folklore Koschei often figures playing against Baba Yaga - sometimes as her husband, sometimes as a servant and sometimes as an enemy or rival. Spear counterpart is probably the best summary…



Game and Story Use

  • Koschei is an inspiration for D&D Lich. So if you need an imposing name for your archlich necromancer and "Vecna" has already been taken, you might give Koschei a try.
  • A public domain artifact could be hidden in the style of Koschei's heart. It's a Russian nesting doll of hidden compartments, guardian monsters, and remote locations. Just when you think you've found the final treasure chest, you open it up and a goose flies out! Especially appropriate for a fairy tale.
  • If there's a damsel in distress in Russia, odds are good it's Koschei the Deathless who's causing her distress.
  • Ironically one of the Koschei legends starts with him imprisoned in a woman's castle, in the one room her new husband is forbidden to enter (shades of Bluebeard about that) - of course, the man enters and is persuaded to free Koschei … who then abducts his wife…
  • An overwhelming monster may have it's only vulnerability hidden in some mundane-looking object.
    • Bonus points if that object is in the PC's possession from the start of the campaign and they take many sessions to figure out that it's secretly the key to defeating the big bad.
  • Where does Putin keep his own soul jar hidden?
    • Ask Old Grandmother … if you dare. When he loses her favour, word will get out…
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