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Also, i like the progressive ruler plot hook, but would make him not a progressive ruler, but a thieve's guild master, or some other less than moral character, who maybe (ironically) sees the "light" through this ritualistic "depravity". Just to add to the moral ambiguity a bit more. :)
An interiesting concept, although the opening tale does irk the evil gm side of me a bit. Granted the flame would not kill Sarya's bowmen now the number had been met, surely the flames would still have set fire to their equipment, and horribly disfigured them none the less?
(Granted they may not have been able to die from fire, but bieng burnt tortured shadows of their former selves for the rest of their lives, or dying from secondary infections to the burns/smoke inhaliation is how my evil GM side would make the end battle turn out, just to remind players that twisting fate does not always result in victory, merely a different kind of loss.)
Then again the truth behind the legend could well have become buried in the past and exaggerated into the current form; which is a way to hide the horrific truth.
Opening legend aside, I like the premise behind the festival, and can imagine a group of unwitting PC's stumbling into the town on festival day, enjoying the celebration only to find out later what the celebration is all about, and the hideous deaths those guilty of relatively minor crimes will be facing at the end of the festival. (Certain to spur some heroic action and tug on morals, especially those with a soft spot for good hearted rogues.)
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Fun sub, and something I can see myself using next time I run a fantasy campaign.
Quite brutal. It paints a pretty strong picture of the overall culture. I imagine a particularly paranoid ruler might get a little overzealous in defining what makes a criminal in order to be sure enough deaths occur. I wonder if these executions actually make a difference? The first success against the dragon was done through subterfuge but perhaps these executions have already been accounted for.
The arch-chancellor of the Wyrmfang magic academy is a tentative ally of the King, but always gets into a quarrel with him over the topic of magocracy vs. feudalism (don't seat them together).
Also, considering his temper, if you seat him next to any guest who happens to be both talkative and a fool, said guest will spend the rest of his life on a lily pad, munching flies.
comtessa Beatrix Beaufort
A socialite, sole heir to a fortune and provocatively independent, the young lady is a famous single and her suitors many. The reason why she's unmarried is that she's solely interested in ladyfolk.
She will be very pleased to be seated with ladies young, impressionable and charming - but if any of those ladies are married, their husbands will voice their displeasure at the many strange ideas the wife brought from your party.
Ambassador Sara Pemberton
The ambassodor from the Queendom of Vallermoore, like many Vallermorians in the highest positions, is a lesbian. As such, she hates being sat next to openly sexist or lecherous men. She has a crush on Lady Adara, but Lady Adara most certainly does not feel that way and so it is best that the two are not put together.
Gren is the man in charge of security for the party. As such, it is very important that he be seated in a position from which he can easily leave if something should come up. Furthermore, Gren's brother died in the last Goblin War, and he shouldn't be seated next to anyone who favors a trade agreement with our former adversaries. Also, he hates to be seated next to
Lady Catherine of Wesshire, his Wife
Lady Catherine is very finicky about table etiquette. She should absolutely not be seated next to anyone who is not certain to possess the most flawless of manners, and she should probably not be seated next to anyone who would take offense at her snide remarks about other guests. Also, considering the rumors about her and Lord Pemberton, she should not be seated next to any gossips.
Count Hobran, the Reaver
A minor noble from up north, Hobran has been invited because the king wishes to get on his good side. Anything to stop the raids! As such, despite his low station, it is important that Hobran be seated in a position of dignity. But don't put him close to anyone who would be offended by his relatively low rank!
Ever since Clay was awarded his title last summer, His Majesty has had his eye on the young adventurer. He wants Clay seated next to one of his eligible female relatives, in the hope of binding the ambitious young man to the kingdom. Like Hobran, Clay shouldn't be seated near anyone who would object to the presence of the lower classes, and he probably shouldn't be seated near Hobran himself, either. The two have history. On the other hand, they might get along well in person.
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We now come to the King's mother herself. By now, we are all aware of the grand old dame's proclivities and acid-tongued irreverence i am sure, so no matter what you do, DO NOT seat her within earshot of the "spineless, effeminate duke", "that no-good slut" the duchess, or the "bombastic baron blunder" (all her titles, not mine) and under any circumstance do not seat her next to the wine-spouting fountain. Having said that we must also make sure she is somehow front and center and able to receive the proper respect of all the guests. Good luck with her. We all know how much the young king--uhh--cherishes his senile mother.
I have actually done this in a game! There was crime and a piece of evidence was based on who sat where at infamous dinner party 20 year prior. The PCs had to reassemble the guest list and then figure out the seating chart. Lke most logic problems, and I do like to put them in my games, it was very popular with some the players and others found the end result boring.
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"Lord and Lady Brennan must sit together" really? Married couples must never sit together at fancy dinners ;)
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The alliance with his country means that the whaling and seal hunting interests stay in the black. It also means that rotten toothed long haired heathen lechers such as Finkvskyl have to be entertained at dinner parties. Finkvskyl would prefer to be surrounded by beautiful women, but most beautiful women would prefer drunken sailors to the likes of Finkvskyl. Putting him next to cabinet ministers leads to the dullest conversations about tariffs, and true men or women of birth would be offended to offer up their ear for half an evening. Best to put him next to military men, they are use to rough talk, and his uncouthness confirms their assumptions about his country.
The Widow McIntyre
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It pains a soul to think of a fine young flower like the Baroness a widow at only three and twenty years. Here introduction to society made for one of the most exciting social seasons in the last decade, her physical charms, her poised manners, her literary wit and her graceful dancing excited the entire court. Every ball that season was an adventure with all the eligible Knights and Lords falling about for her favor. It was almost a scandal when her engagement to Baron McIntyre was announced. He was more than twice her age, he was twice married before with no children and all his wealth and lands were in northern cattle interests and island estates respectively. His passing must have been so hard on the young Baroness, because she now must manage all that land and wealth on her own with out any man to lean on. As a rich beautiful young widow she is chased by the most unscrupulous of social climbing noblemen. Best sit her next to some one kind if you want to impress her, but sit her next to a money grubbing rake if you want to impress the cad.
The Priest Lenard
Lenard considers himself the utmost of moral righteousness, and as thus must not be placed near anyone who takes unkindly to religion. Lenard is struggling with his own attraction to women, so placing him next to an attractive woman is likely to cause a scene.
Old Man Henderson
Old Man Henderson, the uncle of the current King, has a wealth of stories to tell. Anyone seated next to him must be willing to endure an endless torrent of stories about his glory days.