Introduction: A Trip to the Countryside
“Good Milord Aramon, I fear this clime hath engendered a Choleric humour in me. I would visit the countryside, away from the broils of the city.”
While sweating in the hot and humid summer in the city of Hadencia, the PCs are asked to travel to the fair city of Volagna, to seek two young noblemen that have gone missing.
Aramon and Palcite are cousins. Students of the eldritch arts, they have been promised a healthy stipend by the local duke, but will forfeit it if they “associate with low company”, “cavort with women of low morals”, or fail to apply themselves to their studies. Tired of this studious regimen, they have traveled to Volagna to try everything they were warned not to do. The two young reprobates need to be hauled back home before the Duke discovers their delinquency.
Arriving at Volagna, the party discovers that it is in an uproar, for the old Duke, Soneir, has been usurped by his brother, Feverick. The Duke and his family have fled to the nearby Forest of Burdann, where they can elude Feverick’s men. The two missing nobles had been visiting with the old duke at the time of the coup d’etat and have fled, possibly into the forest.
Aramon and Palcite - Young and rowdy noblemen.
Gralio and Sattle - Their mischievous manservants.
Lindarose and Lecia - Two fair young ladies, the daughter of the old duke and her best friend.
Bella and Ahlona - The ladies’ loyal maidservants.
Soneir - A wise and scholarly Duke, now deposed.
Feverick - His brother, an ambitious usurper and wizard.
Clarstone - A cynical madcap escorting the young ladies.
Captain Widebealm and his Soldiers - The best troops of the usurper, but not the brightest.
Encounters: Chance-met in the Forest
Within the Forest of Burdann, all of these people are variously lost, hiding, or hunting each other. In their effort to find the two missing nobles, the party should naturally meet them all.
Ah, There they Are!
Linderose has disguised herself as Aramon and her best friend Lecia has disguised herself as Palcite. (As in any Shakespearean comedy, the characters should have virtually no chance to see through these disguises, even though they are as unlikely as people failing to ID Clark Kent as Superman) They are traveling with Clarstone, who spends his time making completely correct, but tactless, comments about human nature. They will be found seeking Linderose’s father, the old duke, and will be glad to have a few others escorting them in case they encounter the usurper’s troops.
The Two Anchorites
Caught in a sudden storm, the party may find shelter within a leaky hut. The hut currently inhabited by Aramon and Palcite, who are living like hermits and cramming like mad in a belated attempt to avoid losing the Duke of Hadencia’s funding. Unsure of the political situation, they will claim to be reclusive anchorites, Praustus and Fospero, that have chosen to study alone in the forest, where they can avoid distractions. While this is happening, the shack will leak wildly and generally fall apart in the storm.
Naturally, the girls will fall in love with these two at first sight. As soon as the storm settles down, they will sneak off to shed their disguises, so that they can win the affection of the two scholarly lads. If done properly, the PCs should think that they have lost the guys they were supposed to take back to Hadencia. The two “hermits” will fall in love with the girls as well, once they stop disguising themselves as men.
Gralio and Sattle were separated from their masters, and have decided that the best way to impress the local shepardesses is to pretend to be noblemen. They will strut about in their masters’ finest attire, drunk as lords, claiming to be Aramon and Palcite. They will attempt to sneak off with Bella and Ahlona, once they meet the two maidservants.
The Loyal Maidservants
Hoping to protect their patronesses, Bella and Ahlona have assumed their identities to lure pursuit away from them. They will, of course, fall desperately in love with the two manservants.
The Old Duke
Soneir is trying to avoid the soldiers of the usurper, while seeking allies in his plan to regain his throne. (Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually have a plan in this regard.) He will want the party’s help taking a message back to his good friend, the Duke of Hadencia. His daughter, Lindarose, and her friend, Lecia (whether in disguise or not) would like to be brought to the old duke. They also think that his allies in Hadencia are his best hope of regaining his throne.
Exeuent, Chased by a Lion
Ferocious lions stalk the forest, and may be used by the game master as needed to separate characters or bring them together for dramatic purposes. If one of the player characters is itching to kill something, a lion may attack.
The Best and Brightest
These men, led by the warlike Captain Widebealm, will eagerly arrest anyone they can, generally demonstrating a level of intellectual prowess previously only associated with orcs. They aren’t bad fighters, but they are dumber that a box of iron spikes.
Spells of the Usurper
Feverick, the usurper, has entered the forest with a couple of massive magical beasts as guardians. He hopes to capture Soneir before the old Duke can gather his forces to reclaim his dominions. If he can catch any of the other NPCs, he will enchant them, charming them to help him capture Soneir. Since he is unlikely to recognize any of them, he is likely to give inappropriate orders, such as ordering Lindarose and Lecia (In disguise as Aramon and Palcite) to capture the old Duke’s daughter and her friend…
A Climactic Battle
Finally, after the heroes have met everyone, sorted out who is who, fled from lions, fooled soldiers, and engaged in other foolery as needed, the villainous Duke Feverick will finally face off in person with the noble Duke Soneir. He will not fight fairly, of course. The PCs will be needed to deal with underhanded magical skullduggery.
Ideally, when all is done, the young noblemen will be engaged to the young noblewomen, the wicked Duke will be overthrown, and Soneir will have agreed to support the two young noblemen as they complete their magical education. If not, well, the course of true love never did run smoothly…