Manor Home D'Marsarac
An island of stone above the valley, the Manor Home D'Marsarac sits upon a green promotory above the farming valley below. From this island in the sky (an illusion created by the thick morning fog) various noble families have administered to this fertile valley for centuries.
The the Manner Home D'Marsarac has been the home to those nobles of royal blood who are not (closely) in line for the throne. Those of this line are deeded the title for the valley and administer it for the crown family.
The main house and outbuildings, the elaborate gardens, and a large woodland park are set high on a promontory of limestone that points like a finger into the fields of corn and tobacco in the fertile valley below. The limestone raises the Manor lands a good 140 feet up from the valley floor.
Two centuries ago, one of the Lordlings, inspired by his tour of duty in the Vacinian Guards, redesigned the family's working gardens of vegetables and fruit into a formal Italiante terraces of boxwoods (a type of hedge) and gravel paths. This has made the Manner an idylic retreat for the family and the various royals over centuries.
The long peninsula of a park, which inclues 50 stony acres of woodlands between the main house (which is at the promotory's end) and the valley hills also attracted his attention. He constructed paths for rugged walks there. He added points of interests, including belvederes, drystone huts, a waterfall and small pond, a tall pillar of Antiox origin, carved benches (originally for the elderly and infirm, but they are popular with the young for trysts), and an unclipped forest of oak trees and scrubby 30 foot tall boxwood.
In truth, the feeling of the place is timeless and magical.
The main house, the manor, is a two and a half story, fifteen room affair, with two large great rooms, a good sized library, and a solarium. The construction is similar to the local homes below, a light terracotta colored plaster with a dark tile roof.There is strong thick glass in all the windows. The woodwork is recessed, resembling an Italiante style. There is a small and loyal staff supporting the family. The family recieves many vistors from court, so the staff is always preparing food fit for a high noble table.
Note: Every decade or so, the King or Queen will visit their country cousins. However, they always feel at home since the staff is comparable to staff at a royal estate.
Surrounding the house is a beautiful boxwood parterre. Kept in good clip, the boxwoods form a sea of green, swirling on the parterre of the main house. The paths weave in and among the greens that are trimmed in various patterns throughout the property. There is a tunnel made of tall boxwoods that leads from the house down to several of the out buildings.
The paths near the house are often lit with several hundred votice candles that line the edges. There is one child in the manner who always get an extra desert because they run along all the paths lighting these candles. Normally they are lit only on summer nights and special occasions.
There is a bastion, a defensive wall of sorts at the end of the promontory. Mostly it is there to raise and hold the soil level near the main house. However, if attacked from the valley edges, it would make accessing the promontory by scaling difficult. It would also give the defenders cover and better defensive abilities against attackers coming from below.
At the outmost tip of the promontory is the family chapel where a variety of religious observances are held. The chapel is in the local style with a tile roof and a tall bell tower that has no real bell, just a mock one. The tower provides excellent sight lines along the valley and promontory. The only place which has a better view of the promontory is the Memorial Stone.
The memorial stone is on a slight rise on the north side of the promontory about 1/3 the way down. It is deep inside the park. It is surrounded by a thick grove of trees. This point is a memorial to all family members and royals who lived here and died in service to the crown. There are seventy two names now. New names are carved into the large granite block the intricately carved stone sits upon. From this point one can see both the bell tower and the Lookout.
The Park of green paths and heavier trees runs from the valley hill to nearly three quarters the length of the Promontory. As stated it has many rugged paths, with benches and various points of interests. It also has a number of meadows and greens (each one named for the odd statue placed in it). These greens are great for secret meetings, picnics, and the occasional duel.
The Lookout is a simply a place above the road that leads from the valley hills to the manor promontory. The lookout provides good cover and a tactical advantage against anyone coming down the road or crossing over to the promotory. Sometimes children with lanterns are sent to sit here, raising them up to signal incomming travellers.
Uses for this place:
It is an excellent idylic setting for any number of adventures entangling nobility and royalty. Nobles escaping the pressures or rumors of court might retreat here. A princess or queen might retreat here to give birth to her child. Various noble and military friends will visit the manor and bring their problems with them. This manor might be used to entertain an embassy from a foreign land.
Of course some of the loyal staff is comprised of active and retired members of the Crown's Agents, the King's Hands. Many of the staff's extended family members who temporarily join the staff are agents who are injured or need to lay low for a while, or are just passing though on their way to new assignments. There is also a secret training salle beneith one of the drystone huts.
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? Responses (19)
It's... a noble's house... ok then.
In order to use something that isn't my own, there has to be some idea that I like in the description, something to differentiate it from any other place that is just like this, from a generic perspective.
If I truly don't care about the place that we're going, I will use a description like what you've given 'it's a typical noble house, you know, lots of land, cleared around the manor house, gardens, servants running around, you get the picture. Anyways, the butler leads you into the great room, and...'
Basically, why go into such detail on something so prototypical? You've gone into massive detail for something mundane. It's overkill, if you ask me. I prefer to spend my time on the unusual or the bizarre, rather than the mundane. The only reason to provide a full description of something so generic would be if there were something unusual that isn't immediately apparent. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time to write it up. Show a picture of any typical european country estate and move on with the game.
I think it is beautiful. It shows an investment to detail and history that most people would forget. Most GM's would say, 'Its a big house on a big lot'. I am sure that is what Monument would say. He is not a details person. I am sure he ignores the flavor text of most modules and does not do it for himself. He just wants to get to the puzzle/ killing things/ going underground/ simple plot for his players. That is okay if you just want to move figures around a battlemat or be experience motivated. That is not me, nor anyone I play with. We want to interact with the setting. We want to know the details so we can know the setting/ situation and possibly utilize them later.
Details on a write up are important so you don't have to make things up on the fly. By doing all this description for you, you can have a magnificent setting and it frees the GM up to either add their own little touches or so they can concentrate on the NPCs or the story. The write up details all the various areas are places where scenes/ adventures could take place on the grounds. So we know where people would be fighting duels, we know where lovers would be doing things, and so we know a few foibles of the property.
He also included a secret for the property - said King's Spies and that this location is not only a royal/ noble house, but a secret training and resupply point for said spies. Kind of cool.
Oh, and if you actually read the description, you would of noted that it is not a protypical European country estate. Do you even know what a promotory is? Even one this large? This is the unusual. It is not the expected.
Monument: please see a PM I left for you on the forum side.
KH: Not Personal. Chill please.
It is far from generic, or mundane... in fact, I think the lord of the house would be quite insulted if someone called it this way.
There comes the plot hook: someone had the audacity to claim lord so and so has a garden ten times as beautiful as this one! So get those adventurers, and let them find out what exactly is in that (heavily guarded) garden, before they are compared by the King himself. (May add quests for exotic items to make this garden even more special.)
Even competition in beauty can become deadly serious...
All to often, it seems, that we can be caught up in mangling and severing a submission to see if we can dissect it enough to put into our own various games. This manor house may be mundane, with no magical monsters, hedges of carnivorous plants, and no dakr elf assassins accompanied by their lightning stripped tigers.. That does nothig to detract from it's value. The fact that there is such a wealth of detail makes all the more valuable.
Cliches such because they are overdone, they take the extrodinary and reduce it to something that becomes ridiculed. Giant demons with unholy weapons, orphaned bountry-hunter drow with pet giant spiders, it is so far from the norm that it is stupid. Now, we find this manorial house, with an elaborate write-up and some nice history that doesnt go into overkill. If Moon had decied to write the 72 names on the memorial stone, that would be overkill. With what he wrote, I can see this place, imagine walking through the carefully manicured lawn while a stripe of a child runs along lighting the candles along the walkways.
While you may not be able to distill out a random encounter table for the garden, or calculate the XP value of the hedges doesnt detract from the value of the post. This kind of detail leads to game memoris that last years after the game has passed. This is the kind of detail that one would find between teh pages of an Anne Rice novel set in New Orleans, or perhaps a sublty macabre deserted town in a Stephen King novel.
That being said, a 5/5 for Moon's work, and a cuff to the back of Monument and Kendra's heads.
Monument, I guess you are that one who describes every unimportant NPC as 'just a guy', the grass as 'that green stuff' and Excalibur as 'a sword +5 and Stop Bleeding'.
This place is almost ... beyond time - a perfect background for political adventures, as well as calmer parts of the campaign - or an excellent place for a horror scenario - remote, silent, serene.
When politics abound, or a tryst with the princess' sister, she'll say 'meet me by the statue of Roland Victorious' - if you happen to stray near the statue of Roland Besieged, you might encounter unexpected company, or offend the noble lady, who expected a red rose from you...
I am not going to defend each and every post from you, Monument, but your narrow-mindedness means that i'm likely to disregard your opinion.
Now I know that I'm supposed to rate things based on their apparent quality, but I have to say that in this case, though by almost all categorical standards it is a 4 (not a 5, you maniacs! What is this the Golden Globes?), I have take away a point based on simple personal preference. I don't believe that, even though it is something of a unique place, it is all ithat/i interesting.
Yes, I admit, I am narrow-minded: I only find to be good in something that I would find useful. Bear in mind that 'useful' is a fairly broad spectrum.
I'm sorry, but I find it difficult to find inherent value in the creation of something my players would find mundane. I would gain no more value from a post like this than I would from a post describing a particular pattern of flatware, or a description of a particular wine, or a description of the types of insects that flit around character's ears while walking through an equally non-descript forest.
I'm honestly apologetic that I seem to be missing the point, and it seems fairly obvious that I am fundamentally getting this whole thing wrong, because several people have made comments along the lines you all have.
Yes, this is a descriptive backdrop for political intrigues, etc, and those are the exact kind of plots that I often use, but to myself and my players, the important part of the game is in the unusual, rather than the mundane. I would no more spend twenty minutes describing an otherwise generic noble house than I would spend twenty minutes describing the generic forest they walked through to reach that house.
Maybe my criteria are somewhat different. For me, it's all about utility. Describing the unusual gives me something I can use. Describing the mundane is superfluous at almost all times, and as such, has very little utility.
It's odd that something that is so fundamentally knowable would rate so highly in everyone else's minds, if you ask me. I've seen things get low scores simply for being simplistically stated, and if I were to add a setting that was 'noble house, on a bluff, overlooking fancy gardens and centered in a rocky forest'(the basics of this post), I wouldn't even expect a 1/5. But because this post expands that basic description with some fancy words and poetic language, it warrants top grades? Interesting. I'll have to keep that in mind next time I create another cliche'd NPC.
But why couldn't we try a more classical ingredient to this beautiful location?
A dragon flew above, and liked the whole place. And settled here. And chased away the inhabitants.
Now, how to make him leave (or kill him), without destroying a bit of the wondrous statues, plants, walkways, buildings, etc.?
Talk about defeating a dragon.
Monument, please, hostility gets us nowhere. I think with this one we could just let sleeping dogs lie. This is an opinionated thing- why is everybody jumping all over him just because he rated it low? Admittedly, I found a 1/5 to be a touch extreme, but it isn't my decision; it's Monument's vote, and he makes it how he likes.
I dropped it, 3 days ago. I wasn't being hostile, I was being honest. And my vote was 2/5, rather than 1/5. Put something unique and interesting in there, and we can talk about changing that, because then it would be MORE than just a pretty description. It's a very nice description. It's just too bad there's nothing more to it.
Sorry... Forgot to check the date. :)
*breathing heavily, gets a huge axe, and after a moment of maniacal laughter recovers and forces himself to throw it away*
'Must be creative... must not kill people that post dozens of comments without adding value to it.'
Therefore... more plot hooks and things-to do for the PCs.
- there's some minor critters threatening the gardens or visitors' comfort, and are hard to remove. Ideal for a less-known party to make a name. Hunting, (re)search.
- a kid has become lost. Of course it is a child of someone important, so find it before the parents find out! Sneaking, diplomacy, search.
- hinder cocky nobles from starting a duel. Diplomacy, manipulation.
- young nobles on holidays fall in love, but are from the wrong houses. The Romeo an Juliet thing must be prevented. Manipulation.
- a badly needed noble/general/archmage/... fell in love with the place and started a career as a gardener. The country needs your aid. Manipulation.
- somebody has died... unnaturally. Detective, search.
- apparently one of the servants has stolen something. Thief or some other motive? Detective.
- randomly found evidence of blackmail... what will they do? Detective and more.
- by chance or intent, overhear a private talk that shouldn't have been heard. Shall they tell somebody? And what will be the consequences? Diplomacy and more.
- without an apparent reason, the peasants start a rebellion against the manor. Repel the attack, then find out why. Combat/Strategy, detective and possibly more.
And many others.
Perhaps I should have clarified. The reason I rated this low was because I could have thought up any of those plots, none of which require this SPECIFIC setting to pull off. There's nothing to differentiate this setting from any other noble house I would use. The problem here isn't the lack of plot hooks, it's the lack of specific plot hooks. There's nothing to make me want to use THIS noble house over the pre-conceptualized noble house that I have swirling in my own noggin. It got a low rating because there's nothing exceptional about this noble house over any other noble house, as you so aptly pointed out with your plot hooks. It's a lovely description of an otherwise generic noble house.
If you want to help this SETTING, add specific flavor to the setting which forces the use of specific information about THIS setting. The promontory seems to be the focal point of the 'uniqueness' of this setting, that would be a good place to start.
Perhaps the promontory is home to a breed of stone-eating fish, which have done enough damage to the promontory to make the house unstable. Maybe the immense training center has dug enough rock out of there to make it unstable, and it's a race against the clock to keep the manor house shored up as the PCs run around fixing things. Maybe statues made from the stone of the promontory gain consciousness in their magical gardens. I don't know. SOMETHING to make this place unique above all other places just like this. Note the added value of ideas, such as they are, manfred. ;)
A nice premade location. Usable, okay and ready to be inserted into many a setting. Nothing unique or extraordinary about itm but it is a decent piece of work. It receives a score of 3.5/5 rounded up to a 4/5.
I like this a lot. Obviously, I'm with the vox populi (however much six years ago). People have been coming up with material for RPGs for 35 years now, and I'm sick to death of the premise that everything has to be Unique! Snazzy! Unusual! Well, no, not everything is, and not everything has to have Dark Cultists, Peasants With A Secret, Puttering Old Men Who Are Really Archmages and the like. For my money, I'll take something calm and low-key that will fit into my world ... and if I feel like tossing in something offbeat, well, what in the merry hell prevents me from doing that?
I agree with the majority here - this is a location, not a plot, and is a great canvas against which the GM can paint his own picture.
Need a patron's home? Great - here you go.
Yes, it is a location... not a plot. That is why it is in the location category. It is a setting to capture images and a feel... not the specific dramatic moments that could occur.