Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

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stebehil
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Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

Post by stebehil »

My campaign led to a point where the PCs had played through B11 and B12 (as I talked about elsewhere). I set the adventures so that they were done in early sviftmont, and as a reward, the nobles they met invited them to accompany them to the celebration of the dukes birthday on the 28th. I reasoned that the nobles either attend personally or send a proxy. This was an occasion to introduce some of the important NPCs, namely, the Penhaligons, the Kelvins and the Halarans of Threshold. Some of them were introduced briefly in the adventures mentioned, and my party did talk to Arteris and handed Ilyana over to her. So, the newest heroes of the realm should be a nice addition to a ducal birthday party, as something like a trophy to be shown around.

But I painted myself into a corner there with that idea. What happens on such a birthday party? Anything more than just showcasing a ton of NPCs that are way above the PCs station (and levels also, for the most part) is needed here. I´m not sure if the "Veiled Society" plot would work, as they are probably quite close to the court most of the time. Would someone be so bold as to sabotage the party in some way, such as to weaken somebodies reputation? A combat encounter would probably be way out of line in that context. The PCs are surely out of their comfort zone, as none of them has a noble background or any other connection to nobility. Do you have ideas to make that a fun encounter, instead of me showcasing an endless parade of "important" NPCs? I´m a bit burned out at the moment, I guess...

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Re: Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

Post by Havard »

cool idea!

I could see the Duke wanting to host all kinds of entertainment for both the nobles and the commoners. There would be Knights Tournaments, but also mock battles for peasants, dueling, Morris dancing, competitions, performers etc.

You could have the PCs just enjoy their time for a while, perhaps participating in some competitions to gain fortune, impress pretty maidens or gain rivals.

Or you could use this as a backdrop for some other unrelated events?

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stebehil
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Re: Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

Post by stebehil »

A tournament is a great idea (and proves that I´m a bit burned out, otherwise I might have come up with that myself...). It sure is a holiday, at least in Specularum, an autumn festival - might even be a local tradition in Traladara, like All Hallows Eve, which would be fitting to the general theme.
I think Specularum itself is too densely built to allow for a tournament space inside, so this would be set in the Duke´s Park and outside the city gates.

I think I will keep it at this event, and maybe a small plot of some kind, or several - pickpockets will have a field day there, and trying to catch a thief running off while others see that there are some "mishaps" hindering any pursuit. Maybe they need to venture into the Nest to try and regain their belongings.

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Re: Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

Post by Greenbrier »

stebehil wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 10:34 pm
I reasoned that the nobles either attend personally or send a proxy.
I'd be most interested in what the Black Eagle brings to his cousin, or who he sends to the party!
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Re: Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

Post by RobJN »

Greenbrier wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 3:41 am
stebehil wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 10:34 pm
I reasoned that the nobles either attend personally or send a proxy.
I'd be most interested in what the Black Eagle brings to his cousin, or who he sends to the party!
After all, what's a birthday party without a magician to entertain the guests?
Rob
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stebehil
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Re: Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

Post by stebehil »

I´ve been toying with the idea that the Black Eagle appears personally and proceeds to make life difficult for everyone else, being the man he is.

Appearing by ship and portraying himself as a dashing figure (after all, his Charisma is quite above average), just in time to maximize his impact and trying to overshadow his cousin, of course. Looking at the Specularum map in the GAZ, the Duke and his family and retainers and pretty much everybody else who is somebody might be attending a church service in the Great Church of Karameikos next to the harbor, with Ludwig appearing just as the whole ducal train reaches the harbor via the Grand Market. Courtesy necessitates it that the Duke waits for his cousin to fall in line, which Ludwig uses to make a bit of a spectacle.

BTW, am I blind or is the position of the Church of Traladara (12 in the map legend) missing? Anyway, on the way back, Stefan makes a point to stop at the Church of Traladara and recieve a blessing from the patriarch there. If there is no canon position for the church, I would place it in the heart of the old quarter, right where "Old Quarter" is printed on the map. The road leads right around it. Ludwig will show his contempt for all things Traladaran right then and there, much to the chagrin of many folks around, who know better than to confront him publicly about his boorish behaviour.

After that, the tournament is the next goal of the train. I think placing it at the farmers road between the old and new walls sounds good, so the distance from the Hill is short. Incidentally, the distance to the Radu´s turf is the biggest, which is seen as insulting by them - not that there is much to be done about that. The tournament is rather short, due to the late time in the year, and in the evening a big feast is held inside the ducal castle until the wee hours in the morning.

I guess this is a workable collection of ideas I will expand upon.

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stebehil
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Re: Duke Stefan Karameikos´ Birthday

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I took the time to gather my ideas about the Dukes birthday, which is on 28th of Sviftmont (late October).

Way before the date, the nobles of the realm would declare if they attend or send a proxy, in most cases a family member. As traveling is getting worse after the celebration, some choose not to attend personally, especially the older ones. Not attending neither sending a proxy would be seen as an insult to the Duke. So far, only Ludwig van Hendricks was so bold to deny his cousin any attendance – much to the relief of many people, the Duchess first among them.

The nobles usually travel with a sizable retinue towards Specularum, including servants, guards and minor noble members of their household, if there are any. Along the way, the inns are forewarned about the nobles and their planned time of arrival. So, the roads of the realm are quite busy in Sviftmont, with messengers, soldiers scouting for dangers, and farmers making deliveries towards the wayside inns. The traveling nobles are relatively slow, as their retinues are numerous and contain anything the noble in question considers necessary.

Most nobles try to arrive two days before the birthday at latest, with those living close to Specularum arriving just one day prior. Some of them have some housing inside the city, most likely on the Hill or Bricktop areas. If time permits, they will pay a short visit to the duke the day before the birthday or earlier, to announce that they are there and will attend. This also serves to allow the servants to make any last-minute changes if necessary.

The whole city is in a festive mood the whole week before the birthday, with colorful ornaments, harvest celebration decorations and generally a busy, hectic but happy mood. A tournament area is erected just outside the inner farmers gate to the southwest, between the Old and the Dukes Wall.

In the wee hours of the birthday itself, the castle, the Bricktop and the Hill are busy like a beehive. All relevant persons – ambassadors, nobles and other important personages – gather in the castle courtyard with a few servants and retainers. As a result, the castle is overrun with people and horses, trying to sort out the order of courtesy according to rank, with the help of several heralds.

When the sun finally rises, the Duke and his family leave their palace, mount their horses and lead the parade leaving the castle grounds (of course, well-guarded, with the commander of the Elven Guard leading), with stablehands leading the horses. This is necessary, because a crowd has gathered along the way. The way leads through the Grand Market towards the harbour, where every ship flies a ducal banner, and soldiers try their utmost to hold back the masses.

The Duke leads the way towards the Church of Karameikos in the walled-off section south of the harbor, where he is welcomed by Patriarch Jowett and led into the church. Members of the Order of the Griffon are present as honor guard. A service is then held, rather short, as the schedule is quite tight. After the service, some of the clergy and the Order join the parade, which now makes its way through the Old Quarter to stop at the Church of Traladara in the heart of the Old Quarter, to recieve a blessing from Patriarch Nikelnevich at the doors of that church (and to symbolize that the Duke accepts this faith).

The parade returns to the stronghold briefly, to enable some changes, and then turns toward the tournament area, where at around noon the tournament is then started by the Duke. It includes a joust, archery contests, and a melee. All this is rather short, as the daylight is scarce, and around dusk, the tournament is over already.

After the tournament, the Duke and all important personages retire to the ducal palace for a feast, which starts at around 6 and lasts at least until 9 p.m. Afterwards, a ball is held in the Dukes honor, and usually goes on well into the morning.

The next morning sees the city in some disarray, with people everywhere trying to return to a norma state. Much the same goes for all the people attending the ducal ball.


This is the normal course of events. Of course, this rarely goes exactly as planned.

The nobles on their way to Specularum might meet all kinds of troubles, from a lame horse to a wagon breaking a wheel, bad weather delaying the journey – to say nothing of any hostile creatures. Most humanoids won´t attack such a large group, but you never know. The wayside inns might have some troubles as well.

Who is attending anyway? The biggest question is always if Ludwig van Hendricks will attend – and he knows this, and plays on it. He never announces if he comes, he sends a proxy or will not show up at all. If he does, he will make sure everyone notices.

Once they reach Specularum, the busy city with its strange laws regarding weapons (for the common folk) poses its own challenges. The noble town houses have limited space, so any folks with them might be forced to look for lodging elsewhere. Not an easy or cheap task at that time. The city itself is tempting, but chaotic.

The courtesy visits to the Duke are a time for first impressions – easily bungled with all the exitement.

The birthday itself has a ton of opportunities to make it exciting. Arriving at the castle in time could be the first problem. The narrow and crowded streets are a nightmate for anybody concerned with security. Maybe a bold, radical youth throws rotten eggs at the Duke – what happens then? Maybe the Cult of Halav offers their adulations to the duke, prostrating themselves right in front of his guards. Pushing them aside by force surely gives bad press....

The Black Eagle might choose to appear right at the moment when the Duke passes the harbor, so everyone is forced to wait for him to get into his position – which he takes an inordinate amount of time to do. Or he might send Bargle as his proxy, who tries to intimidate and mock everyone.

The way through the Old Quarter is probably the most tricky, as many of the Traladarans there are not exactly best friends with the Duke, and the streets are narrow. The Cult of Halav might choose this area for their appearance, as retaliating with force here would cause severe political damage. The Black Eagle will, if present, make a show of his disdain for all things Traladaran, and would not hesitate to kill a protester on the spot, if it comes to that.

The tournament has all kinds of occasions for accidents and plots, and here as well as in the city, pickpockets will have a field day.

The feast and the ball are occasions for social games, and could make life hell for characters not comfortable in those circumstances. The Black Eagle will use his position to make the evening uncomfortable to any females, stopping short of the Ducal family. But even then, he will have a dance with Duchess Olivia and Lady Adriana, and won´t take no as an answer. If Bargle is attending, he will likewise do his utmost to ruin the mood.

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