- "I've heard Vampires travel around so easily because those filthy gypsies, the Strigany, shelter them in their caravans. I wouldn't put it past 'em. They're horse thieves and adulterers, and they all reek of cabbage. It's a short walk from there to harbouring the Undead if you ask me."
- —Azmus Pacher, horse trader.[2a]
The Human empire of Strigos worshipped Vampires as Gods, but their Undead deities couldn't save them from the might of butchering Greenskins. When the few escapees staggered north into the Old World, the stricken people met a wall of hatred from the other Human tribes, but they had nowhere else to turn.[1a]
They wander there still, now calling themselves the Strigany, and are hated no less, even though the centuries have erased the memories of their blood-soaked empire from the minds of their countrymen. Mirroring the rootless land caravans of their people, the Strigany meander up and down the River Reik in small boat communities, moving from one persecution to the next. Their dreary, poorly maintained vessels are often moored far from civilisation, where they prey on the superstitions of passing riverfolk by selling charms and wards for whatever coin they can. They are a desperate people, often clinging to the half-forgotten legends that say that their ancient Vampiric masters will someday return to lift them from their pathetic lives. As rumours of these throwback beliefs ripple outward and are heard by outsiders, the continued Vampire worship doesn't help those Strigany who are trying to move on from their past. Rather, it ensures that their persecution at the hands of outsiders continues. The Strigany are quickly blamed for any local problem without a more obvious culprit, and over-zealous Witch Hunters are all too eager to accuse them transporting diseased Undead in their rotten barges. By the time their innocence is proven in these cases, their boats are already burnt to the waterline.[1a]
The people of Strigos were scattered to the winds when their lands were destroyed and have since taken up a nomadic life. They roam the Empire in caravan trains or river barges, making money where they can and stealing when they can't. Their history under the Vampires ensures they maintain their travelling lifestyle, marking them not just as thieves and cutthroats but also necromancers and servants of darkness. In truth, most of them are simple woodsmen, entertainers, or vagabonds, but a few do know something of witchcraft, a little of fortune telling, and a large amount of Vampire lore.[2b]
These mystics were taught the true and complete history of their people, and they carry the secret knowledge from those ancient days, as well as the promise of their Strigos lords to one day return and lead them back to glory.[2b]
In Other Realms
Strigany mystics in the Empire receive mixed reactions from the populace. Mostly, what little is known of the mystics by average commoners is a legacy of thievery and witchcraft. At best, a mystic entering a village in the Empire is greeted with suspicion... at worst, with a knife. Some well-placed gold crowns with the local Thieves' Guild, though, may transform that distrust into curiosity... and opportunity.[3a]
In Norsca and parts of Kislev, it is not unusual for Strigany mystics to be warmly greeted by the common folk of small villages. To the villagers, the mystics are less enigmatic than the ice witches, and if the mystics' deeds benefit their own fortunes, the mystics are rewarded. However, should they draw attention to themselves – particularly in a larger city – they may attract the wrath of the ice witches, who view the Strigany mystics as threats.[3a]
The various dukedoms of Bretonnia, though, the mystic is ill regarded. To the people of Bretonnia, a Strigany mystic is no different than a witch. Should a mystic reveal any sort of perceived supernatural ability, such as fortune telling, retribution is sure to be swift and absolute. Mystics in Bretonnia seeking survival should find a noble patron for protection.[3a]
The word "Strigany" presumably comes from connecting the world "Strygos" with the Polish word for the gypsies, "Cygani".