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Éldorine's wedding


Log line: You are just come of age and you finally get to attend a ball and represent your House, and you want to use the occasion to show off and set important trade deals, however something unexpected happens and upset the evening. Are all hopes lost or can you still salvage the situation?


How to play


This game is intended as an introduction into tabletop role-playing games for new players and new game masters. This page is written for a game master to read and prepare the game, while a companion handout article has been made for the players to help them prepare their characters and to have a few pictures to look at during the game. The game master should tell the player to click on the spoilers corresponding to the elements being described to see the pictures.   Quotes should be read aloud by the game master, while a few examples of questions to ask the players are provided for inspiration—but improvisation is encouraged. A die should be rolled when indicated, and its results will tell which event should happen next.  
This is a quote.
 
Interrogation mark

This is a question.  
Dice

This is a die roll.


Table of Contents

Type of game


Players: 1-3 players + 1 game master
System: agnostic, uses one d6 die
Time: 2-3 hours
Gameplay type: no fight, interactions with characters

French


Éldorine's wedding: players' handout
Generic article | Apr 30, 2021

One shot ttrpg, the player needs to establish alliances and trade deals during a ball when unexpected events occur


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What to share with the players before the game


All this information can be found in the players' handout. The players need to read this information before the game to learn a bit of background about the setting and to make a few choices about their characters. Reading other articles in the world is not necessary to play the game.

Number of players

The game is written for one player, but one or two more can be added by making the characters be siblings.

Setting


This story takes place shortly before the creation of the Empire of the Covenant (for more historical details, see Political Organisation of the Empire). The continent is divided into hundreds of Estates whose sizes vary from a city state to a vast country (for more details, see Geography, Climate and Demography of the Empire). Each Estate is ruled by a lord or lady who has established a special magical bound with the Land. Those individuals are also the head of their Houses and they exert a lot of control on their family members. In this world, might is right as there are vast difference of magical power between individuals and nobody can stop the powerful from doing what they want. Estates can be conquered by enemies at any time, and the succession to the head of the House can also be contested inside the family. Manners and the respect of ranks are extremely important in that society to avoid making enemies one's cannot afford.



Map of the Empire of the Covenant cover
Map of the Empire of the Covenant by AmélieIS
The continent is divided into two zones, the North and the South, which are separated by a wide Steppes region. The Northern and Southern coalitions of Estates are at war, but they have recently been trying to agree on a lasting peace treaty. After the event of the short story Deathly Flowers, the advantage is with the South. Heiress Éldorine Alyssenne and Heir Lyrienne, the children and heirs of the leaders of the Southern alliance, the Lord of the House of Alyssenne and the Lady of the House of Lyrienne, are getting bonded in marriage. As a sign of good will, all the heads of the Northern and Southern Houses and their families have been invited to assist to the reception given after the bonding ritual. People are tensed at the idea of meeting old enemies, but should the peace be finally established, the occasion will also be great to be the first to establish important trade deals with the other side.

Pronunciation guide: Éldorine Alyssenne, Lyrienne, Arianie


Goal

The head of a House can be all powerful in deciding what the members of the House can and cannot do with their life and what blunders they can get away with. The player wants to gain more leeway and influence in the House, and so they need to impress their head of House. To that end, they have decided to use their first outing among high society to shine: they will charm someone—hopefully someone important—and manged to establish a new advantageous trade deal with their House.

Location

The ball is taking place in the South of the continent, in the Estate of Alyssenne, in the magnificent ballroom of the Alyssenne manor.

Character

The player recently turned 25 years old and came of age. They are from a side branch of a minor House of the high nobility - this means that the head of their House is ruling an Estate, one of the states that make the North and South coalitions.   The player needs to choose:

  • Their gender: the society of the empire does not do gender-based discrimination, and non-binary and trans individuals are fully accepted.
  • Their first name: preferably a French or a French-sounding first name.
  • Their House name: preferably a French-sounding name that ends in "esse", "enne" or "ie".
  • Their line-gift: each House has a line-gift, a magical talent that they developed over several generations of the family specialising in that magic. The line-gift chosen will impact the magic the player can use during the game.
  • The crest of their House: a colour and a symbol such as an animal or a plant.
  • The specialisation of their House: the type of trade deal they wish to establish for their House is going to depend on what industry or service their House is specialised in—their line-gift might play a role in that. Examples include: crafting specific magical artefact, producing specific types of magical clothes, being specialised in training animals or growing plants.
  • Whether their House is from the South or the North of the continent. Note: if the player wants to do a character portrait, Southerners have pale skin while Northerners have tanner skin.
  • Their character: are they shy/reserved or boisterous? Do they enjoy parties? Are they of the studious type?
  • Their life goal: what do they hope to accomplish once they will have gained the respect of their head of House? The permission to do a specific type of job? Some peculiar hobby? Get approval to meet dubious friends? Get the money to buy something special?







***** SPOILERS AHEAD *****





Summary


The player is given some last recommendation by their head of House before being allowed to go to the ball. Their hopes of making a good impression already take a hit by their awkward arrival. Their head of House leads them towards the ballroom before leaving them on their own. The player looks around a bit before going to talk with some people—possibly starting with friends or cousins they already know. However, they need to take a risk and go talk with new people, maybe even member of the other coalition! They attempt to make small talk and make a good impression, slowly leading towards the idea that a contract with their House would be very beneficial for the other parti. However, before the discussion can be concluded one way or another, a commotion interrupts them. Because the player's cousin is involved, they have to take a stance and choose whether to intervene or not and to get involved in the following bet. The way they manage the situation will have the potential to change the mind of the people they have discussed with regarding trade contracts.

Just as the bet is ending and the player's head of House is coming closer, an altercation breaks out among the Arianies and Alyssennes, resulting in a member of the Arianies' retinue falling into the flowers below the floor of the ballroom and getting eaten in front of everybody. Someone attempts to use the distraction to kill some of the guests and the player as the opportunity to intervene. Finally, Heiress Éldorine Alyssenne intervenes to calm the situation and stop all fights. The player is joined by their head of House and they all go back home, where she will hand out her verdict over the player's actions.



Potential music to be played during the game






Scene 1: Departure


Bracelet jewellery
An example of jewellery with magical properties, by AmélieIS with Pixabay and Vecteezy

Player's handout: image 1

The player is standing in the entrance hall of their head of House's manor. As the member of a minor branch of the family, this is not where they live and they only come here for important occasions. Today is one of them. They fidget a bit and look at themselves in the mirror while waiting. They are wearing very fashionable and high-quality dress or robes, with delicate jewellery filled with protective magic. The crest of their House is embroidered on the breast of their clothes.

Interrogation mark
What are the details of what the player is wearing? Do they think this will impress the people they will meet tonight, or are they ashamed to not be able to afford more? What are their hopes for the evening and what do they hope to obtain from their head of House once they will have hopefully managed to impress her?




Yet they know that the protective wards contain inside of them will not be enough to protect them from the danger of the evening. They are only able to form a very weak shield for a few seconds, while all the most important mages of the empire will be there! Even if there is a distinct desire for peace, the tensions are obvious between the North and South coalitions, and any incident may escalate quite quickly.

Their head of House arrives from inside the manor.

Interrogation mark

How does the player feel in her presence? How do they attempt to make a good impression?


Their head of House is having none of it.  
"I hope I do not need to reiterate the importance of this evening. This is an incredible occasion for our House to establish new trade deal and forge durable alliance beyond our social circle. However, everyone is even more tense than usual, and the situation could degenerate at any time. If this happens, do not play the hero and leave immediately with your location pentagram.

If you insult someone and get into troubles, you are on your own, do not expect any of us to endanger our House by coming to your rescued. If any of your actions reflects badly on our House, this will be the first and last time you are even seen in public outside of the Estate!"
— The head of House
 
Interrogation mark

How does the player react to this? How do they feel about the upcoming evening now?
Head of house
The player's head of House, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 2

She is an elderly lady with dark grey hair and piercing blue eyes. Thin and tall, with an austere appearance, she is wearing a floor length dress made of several layers of mauve silk—not the most expensive silk in the empire, that would be the Lyrienne silk, made by one of the leaders of the Southern coalition, but still a very nice silk to the player's eyes. She is also wearing three gold bracelets on each arm, and three layers of gold necklaces, with each one slightly longer than the other. A location pentagram is attached to the longest one.

She is the lady of a minor House and she is anxious about the coming evening. She needs to establish new trade deals and alliances, or the House and the survival of their members will be endangered.




Scene 2: Arrival and discovery of the ballroom


Arrival

 

The player activates their location pentagram and arrives in the entrance hall of the Alyssenne manor.


Dice

Roll a die. 1-3 the player falls on their face. 4-6 they only stumble.


Interrogation mark

How does the player react to their awkward arrival?


Interrogation mark
People in the entrance hall have noticed that arrival too and are sending them looks. How does the player react to that?


You glance around yourself, curious to see the famous Alyssenne manor. You can already hear the music coming from the ballroom. This is a typical Southern tune. The entrance hall also looks typically Southern—probably because all Southern Houses want to imitate the Alyssennes and Lyriennes' style. Everything is made of pale marble of different colours. Small console tables and stands are tucked against the wall, showcasing pieces of arts and magnificent magical artefacts.

Many mages are already standing around, milling together and glancing around them ate the décor or at the new arrivals. The atmosphere seems slightly tense, with many furtive looks being exchanged, but some individuals are also talking excitedly while making big gestures and laughing a little too loudly.


Thankfully, their head of House arrives a few seconds after them and did not see what happened. All hopes of making a good impression are not lost.

The player follows their lead towards the ballroom. As soon as they put a foot into it they stop, shocked at what they are seeing.
location pentagram
Location pentagrams, by AmélieIs, made with images from Vecteezy

Player's handout: image 3

Location pentagrams are a small piece of jewellery that allowed for instant transportation to the location to which they are keyed. They are made of several sheets of intricate metallic patterns stacked on top of which other. They are generally worn in on a chain attached at the belt alongside other location pentagrams that are keyed to other places.

Player's handout: sound effect 1 Player's handout: sound effect 2




The ballroom


The ballroom is enormous, and yet it is packed with dancing and talking people—the thousands of noble families from the continent. The air is filled with magic and its thunderous smell is almost masking all the delicate perfumes worn by the guests. The walls are made of marbles, with big windows letting moonlight in. You can glimpse a few refreshment tables standing by the side, with glasses and small plates of what is probably local food. An orchestra is set up in one corner and music fills the area, masking the conversations. Magical lights are shining from spots up on the wall and making the room as bright as if it were under daylight.

The floor under your feet reflects some of the lights and so it takes you a few seconds to realise that it is made of crystal and that it is even see-through! You scrutinise it and see that the space below is filled with water and that something floats inside—some flowers. You recognise them as the same flowers that are on the crest of House Alyssenne. You remember the stories, the murderous Alyssenne flowers that infest the Black Forest in the Alyssenne Estate since they lost control of a ritual. The flowers eat the gigantic sea creatures that attempt to attack the coast or to invade the domain through the river. They are sentient and very aggressive, but also extremely illusive and little more than legends! How did they arrive below your feet?




ballroom
The ballroom, by AmélieIS with PublicDomainPictures

Player's handout: image 4

There has recently been a lot of rumours circulating across the continent talking about the sudden redesign of the family's ballroom Heiress Alyssenne has been doing. But they had all been mostly focused on the shock that the Alyssennes had the resources to spare for this in the middle of a war, and on speculation about whether it would be done on time. Nobody must have known about the flowers.
 

Interrogation mark

How does the player react to the magnificence of the room?

The people in the room are watching the new arrivals, with everyone seemingly waiting for important people to show up. A few of them react to the player's reaction. They can be scornful or disdainful at the gawking or fear, though some of them might be understanding and amused. If the player tries to act indifferent, it still seems as if most of the other guests are seeing through the mask.

Dice
Roll a die. 4-6, the player notice that some of the guests are sending fearful looks towards the floor despite their attempt at being discreet. 1-3, the player does not notice anything.

Interrogation mark

With one last look of warning, their head of house leave them alone. Freedom finally! What is the first thing the player does?



First action



1. Look more closely at the Alyssenne flowers

You bend your head and your knees slightly to get a better look at the ground. The water is dark and seemed never ending, with no bottom in sight. But near the top you can see several flowers floating close together, moved slowly by invisible currents. They all hold roots together in a sickeningly cute way. Their roots network is enormous, easily hundreds of meters long. They are a bright turquoise green that fluoresce slightly, and you can glimpse some tiny red thorns covering them. As they move, their petals turn towards you and you can now admire their beautiful colour: a mix of purple, blue and the turquoise that the Alyssenne choose to represent their House. The pistils and stamens are pink and purple.

You look at them for a while before you notice that more and more flowers are coming closer, their petals all turn towards you. This is when you remember all the rumours about the high sentience level of the flowers. They have undoubtedly noticed your attention by now.

Interrogation mark

What does the player do?   Stomping feet will anger the flowers and have more of them come closer and send their roots towards the surface of the crystal. How solid it is is not something to test... However, the flowers are very intelligent and very sensitive to compliment. Sounds carry through the crystal and some fast talking can earn some good points, though it is also sure to catch their attention. But then, they are already probably turning towards the player because they notice the looking and wanted to preen and show off their petals. On the contrary, insulting them is a sure death sentence. Looking away and pretending nothing happened may be the most sensible thing to do—if a bit boring when faced with such fascinating and elusive plants.

While the player was busy looking, someone came close to them and interrupts their thoughts (see Scene 3 Group 1).



Flower
Alyssenne flower by AmélieIS
Group
Family group, by AmélieIS

Player's handout: image 5



Player's handout: sound effect 3




2. Look for one of the refreshment tables


The food and drinks are all local specialities. They look very fancy with fruits and other stuff floating inside liquids that have colour gradients.

If the player's House is from the North, they will have to choose a drink based on their aspect only—or they can roll a die to help them make a choice—but if they drink, they will have to accept the possibility that they will be drunk for the rest of the evening, something which may endanger all of their chances. Note for the game master: if the player drinks an alcoholic drink, they will have to act drunk and they will make a worse impression on everyone they meet. They will also have a reduced control of their magic if they choose to use it at any point.

If the player's House is from the South, they are able to recognise that the drink on the left is strongly alcoholic, the one in the middle is mildly alcoholic and the one on the right is alcohol-free.

The food is placed in glasses and can be eaten with delicate silver spoons. It is a kind of flavoured cream with fruits, coulis, and chocolate chips on top.

Interrogation mark

Does the player choose to eat or drink anything?


If they choose to do so, they have one drink or food glass now. Right when they are in the middle of eating or drinking, or if they do not pick up anything while they are still busy looking, someone comes close to them and interrupts their thoughts (see Scene 3 Group 1).
Refreshments for the ball
One of the refreshment table, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder and Unsplash

Player's handout: image 6



Player's handout: sound effect 4




3. Look for some family members
But only the cool cousins, not all the stuffy uncles and aunts!

Dice
Roll a die. 4-6 they find one of their older cousins, while 1-3 they do not find any but observe 3 groups of people they might think of joining (see Scene 3 Group 1-3).

The cousin is an older man in his sixties—although lifespan depends on magical power, and so mages do not show age in the same fashion as people without magic. The cousin is still looking young and vigorous, although his expression is always very stern. When he sees the player, he gestures them forwards impatiently. As soon as they come close enough, he starts with the remonstrance about their appearance and straightened their clothes and hair which had been left askew by the player's awkward entrance. He tells the player that they better not cause troubles for tonight, as this would be extremely bad for the fortune of their House.

He advises the player not to get too close to any member of the opposite side of the war. If the player protests that there are lots of profit to be made from that since there are currently very few trade deals that cross the alliance boundaries, the cousin replies that such delicate talks should better be left to more experimented members of the family such as him. If the player later chooses to disregard that advice, the cousin will complain to the head of their House. This will worsen any bad outcome of the game, but if the outcomes are positive the head of House may choose to see the player going against the advice as some bold daring. In such cases, this will be beneficial.

He asks a bit condescendingly if the player wants his help in getting introduced to some people in the room. Accepting would mean that the player would not make such a good impression on the people they would be introduced too. And if they manage to get anything out of the conversation, part of the merit would go to their cousin.

Interrogation mark

How does the player react to all of this? Does the player choose to follow the advice? Do they accept the help?

Angering the cousin or being rude to him will be reported to the head of House and will be seen as a lack of maturity. If the player accepts, they will be presented to Scene 3 Group 1 or 2 depending on whether their House is a Southern or Northern one. If the player refuses, they will have to attempt to approach a group on their own. They can attempt to listen in on the conversation of Scene 3 Group 1-3 or they can choose one of them to approach depending on their appearance.




Mériel
Mériel by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 7


Mériel's appearance is normally overly formal, but tonight he fits in well with everyone else. He is wearing stuffy, tightly fitting robes in dark, sombre colours.   Mériel is a serious man who brooks no nonsense. He is close to their head of House and is involved in the management of the House as a potential heir. He is anxious to prove himself useful to allege her duties, but he also shares her worry about the future of their House. Tonight is a big night for them and he has a lot to do and would rather avoid having to babysit any younger cousin.




4. Look for friends and acquaintances
Hopefully, that will be the best place to start to be introduced to new people!






Dice
Roll a die. 4-6 they find a friend, while 1-3 they do not find any but observe 3 groups of people they might think of joining (see Scene 3 Group 1-3).


The player manages to find Jéremie Laresse, a Scion from a neighbouring Estate to the player's House. He seems anxious too. He also has his own objectives for the night, and he cannot afford to have the player hang around for too long, but he would appreciate someone staying with him for a little while until they both gather the courage to approach some strangers. He suggests the two of them should try to discreetly listen in on some conversation to see which groups would be best to join and what ice breaker topics would be the most appropriate. He has even brought a magical artefact that would allow them both to listen in discreetly! He assures the player that there is no risk of getting caught.

Interrogation mark

What does the player decide to do?

If they agree, the people they can listen in are those listed in Scene 3, Group 1-3, and some of the subjects they are currently discussed are also indicated. If the player refuses to use the magical device, their friend scoff and leave them by themselves. They can now choose to join one of the groups based on what they look like or to attempt to listen in without magic.
Jérémie Laresse
Jérémie Laresse, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 8

Jérémie Laresse is wearing trendy bright green robes, but he keeps fidgeting with its tails.   Jérémie is an open kind of person and normally he is very warm, but tonight he cannot hide his anxiety. His House works in wood sculpting and making delicate pieces of furniture and they are rumoured to have a line-gift allowing them to control the growth of trees—though they have kept the exact extent of the gift secrets. Jérémie dislike selfish individuals.




5. Approach someone they do not know to get to work immediately!

See Scene 3 Group 1-3 for nearby guests to approach.



Scene 3: talking with someone they do not know


If the player is not studious, they will not recognise the House crest that everyone is wearing on the breast of their robes and dresses. However, they can still determine if people are from the North or the South, since Southerners are very pale while Northerner have tanned skin. If they can recognise the crests, they will not know all the details of the Houses, but they will be able to recognise the specialities of the Houses and which one would be more profitable for them.

The player can choose to spend all of their time with only one group, or if they think that the discussion is not going well for them they can move on to another one—or to do one of the "first actions" described previously.

Group 1

The fun-loving Northerners.

They are not very much on their guards against outsiders and are unlikely to detect any magical artefact being used to spy on them.

Dice
Roll a die. 3-6 they do not detect the artefact being used, while 1-2 they do and the player will have to do a lot of fast talking to get out of this faux pas. However, those two are likely to be understanding if the player invoke their youth and anxiety, and they would allow invite the player to take part in their discussion.

They are not talking about business, but rather about their last outing when they went horse riding together near the Steppes border. They are going to be reluctant to talk about anything serious and are best approached through a discussion of hobbies.

If they talk to the player while they are at the refreshment table, it is because they were going there themselves and spotted and young person being obviously new at all of this and thought it would be fun to tease them.

Flavine Élie
Flavine Élie, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 9

Flavine Élie is a younger member of House Élie, a House known for their artists of all kinds. Their line-gift allows them to have their art pieces provoke specific feelings in any viewers. Flavine does not have a favourite artistic medium yet, and she dabbles a bit in everything. As most members of her House, she occasionally works as a performer—in fact, she has family members in the orchestra tonight.
Lédéas Oresse
Lédéas Oresse, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 9

Lédéas Oresse is from the main branch of the Oresse House and so he has the seniority to make important deals and alliances. House Oresse specialises in the transport of goods through the country and all of their members are well travelled and knowledgeable about the whole Northern half of the continent. Their line-gift allows them to levitate big charge over long periods of time.


Group 2

The sharp looking Southerners.

They are on their guards against outsiders and would probably detect any magical artefact being used to spy on them!

Dice
Roll a die. 5-6 they do not detect the artefact being used, while 1-4 they do and the player will have to do a lot of fast talking to get out of this faux pas. They are unlikely to accept the excuse that the player is young and anxious about the evening, and on the contrary they would want to protest the insult with the player's head of House.

They are talking about alliance opportunities and who would be best to approach from the other side or if they should better establish safer alliances with other Southerners.

If they talk to the player while they are looking at the Alyssenne flowers, it is because they spotted a young person being obviously new at all of this and thought they would be a good victim. They will try to get information out of the player about their House, line-gift, and business that they could use to get an advantage in future negotiations.

Théonie Parienne
Théonie Parienne, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 10

Théonie Parienne is a senior member of House Parienne and so she is allowed to negotiate trade deals and alliances in its name. The House is specialised in the crafting of musical instrument. Their line-gift is not publicly known, but it is suspected to be something linked to music.
Berléon Marenne
Berléon Marenne, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 10

Berléon Marenne is the Heir of House Marenne. He is expected to come out of the evening with new trade deals and alliances to secure his position as heir. The House specialises in battle magic, and almost all of their members have important position in the army of the Southern coalition.


Group 3

A mixed group of serious people.

Since they come from different side of the coalitions, they expect to be spied on and would not react badly to that.

They are talking very cautiously about business and the possibility of establishing trade deals between their Houses, but they are not sure how to trust each other enough to finalise a deal. They are both very intent on making this night be fruitful and of meeting a wide variety of new people.

Rémiline Tarie
Rémiline Tarie, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 11

Rémiline Tarie is the Lady of House Tarie, a minor Southern House located on the Western coast. Their line-gift allows them to control the winds and they use it by captaining a small fleet in the Western sea and specialising in sea trade in the region.
Vitélien Arenne
Vitélien Arenne, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 11

Vitélien Arenne is the Lord of House Arenne, a minor House located on the Northern coast. They are spice merchants and trade widely with the Northern Islands, which are the main spice producer of the continent. Their line-gift is unknown.


Scene 4: something unexpected happens!


Troubles


Desphérine
Desphérine, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 12

Desphérine is another cousin of the player. She has a very fiery temperament, although she normally knows when to display some self-control. She dislikes having people intervene in her affair and being told she is in the wrong, and this is only likely to make her obstinate.   What magic she is able to do will depend on the line-gift chosen for their House by the player. Desphérine is also wearing a bracelet whose magic allows her to form illusion, however she has yet to master full control of it. If she is too annoyed with the player, she might forget to mention this and let him stress about the situation instead. She will also be upset if the player manages to convince her they had better replace her in the bet, and she will not mention the artefact if the player does not ask directly about it.
Nactaine Veresse
Nactaine Veresse, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 12

Nactaine Veresse is a very smug young man from a minor branch of a semi-important House. He feels inferior compared to his more important cousins from the main branch and wants to show that he is just as good as them. To this end, he purposefully created troubles with members of the other side of the war by throwing around thinly veiled insults.   The line-gift of House Veresse is based on fire magic, and many members of the House are part of the army—whether the army of the Northern or the Southern coalition depending on the player's own side. Tonight, Nactaine wants to show off his own fire magic to impress people, as he has been taunted by some of his cousins for his lack of control over it.


Some of the nobles from the Northern and Southern coalition have been having an intense conversation that has slowly been getting noisier and noisier. They have finally become impossible to ignore and everyone is turning in their direction. With some horror, the player realises that another one of their cousins is among the group. The humiliation and loss of prestige their House is going to suffer from this is going to endanger their goal for tonight!

Interrogation mark

What do they do?

  • Pretend that nothing is happening and try to continue their conversation? This only works if they have not been too obvious in their reaction. In that case, proceed to the next section "the bet". Otherwise, their interlocutor will ask them what is going on and if they know people involved in the disturbance. The player will need to be able to lie convincingly to avoid the loss of prestige resulting from getting their name attached to that kind of things!

  • Try to find their head of House quickly so that they can put a term to what is going on?

    Dice
    Roll a die. 4-6 the player manages to find them on time. 1-3 they do not. In both cases, progress to the next section, "the bet", with or without the head of House present.

  • Intervene themselves to try to calm the situation? If so, they do not manage to fully calm everyone before the bet is announced (see next section), but if they handled the situation well and continue to try to calm everyone after that, they may mange to avoid the bet happening.




The bet

One member of the opposite coalition from the player's House suddenly erupts:

"If you are so sure about yourself, you will have no problem proving your case! Let us have a bet! We will all show off our line-gifts and we will see which is the superior one!"
— Nactaine Veresse
  The player's cousin immediately agrees.  
Interrogation mark

What is the reaction of the player?   Are they horrified at how mortifying the situation is? Afraid of possible consequences? Mortified at everyone looking at them and judging their immaturity? Or on the contrary, delighted at this opportunity to show off their magic and their abilities to calm a dangerous situation?  
Interrogation mark

What does the player decide to do?  
  • Participate in the bet and ask to represent their House instead of the cousin? If so, what argument do they use to convince the cousin to let them do so?
  • Arbitrate the bet?
  • Try to calm down the situation. For example, insisting that now is not the time and that it would be best to meet the next day in another place. Apologise in the name of their House, although this could result in a loss of prestige if not done correctly and with enough grace since it would be seen as admitting defeat.
  • Pretend that nothing is happening and that they do not know those people? Their interlocutors might indulge them if they do it with enough grace and did not make it obvious before how concern they were by the situation. If the player has been too rude or bold, their interlocutors might decide to point out the family ties in a very loud and obnoxious manner to force them to react.
  • If the player's head of House is present, this does not mean that the situation is immediately solved. The head of House intervening will result in the cousin's humiliation and a loss of prestige for the whole House, even if the player will not be the immediate target of their elder's anger. The player can see the anger and humiliation on their head of House's face before they intervene, and so the player may choose to say something. For example, they can argue that the bet should go on, under control circumstances to avoid any disaster. Just as a showcase of their respective line-gift. The head of House will be opened to any solution that protects them from humiliation.
 
The bet itself


The bet surrounds the extent of the magical abilities of the respective partis involved. Each participant needs to perform an impressive magical feat to show off their talents and/or power. Since everyone involved in the bet is quite young, they do not possess incredible talent yet, and so they will all be limited in what they can do. They should all also be careful to remember not to upset Lord Alyssenne by damaging his ballroom or his guests—in fact, damaging the floor may even result in seeing those beautiful flowers from closer...

Depending on how the player handled the situation, they may all take precaution in clearing some space around themselves from the demonstration. Doing so will gain the goodwill of the crowd as well as gather more spectator. This will enhance whatever gain or loss of prestige suffered by the participants. If some space is not cleared in advance, then during the demonstration the player should be prompted to notice the reaction of the other guests surrounding them—annoyance and disdain mostly at the inconvenience.

Here are some examples of magical demonstration that the player could do: demonstrating their line-gift, use some limited form of elemental magic, or use their cousin's magical bracelet.


Dice
Roll a die. 4-6 the player (or their cousin if the player has not chosen to participate) goes first, while 1-3 the opponent goes first.


Dice
Roll a die each for the player and their opponent. 1, they completely lose control of their magic—if the crowd is too close, someone will get injured. 2, they fail in what they attempted to do and are humiliated, 3-4, they do something barely adequate, 5 they manage to do show off some nice competence, 6 they do something very impressive.
Despite the die roll, the results should still depend on how ambitious and original is the magic that the player chose to use.




First performance:


Player's handout: sound effect 5
Player's handout: sound effect 6


Second performance:


Player's handout: sound effect 7
Player's handout: sound effect 8




Once each side has demonstrated their magic, the winner has to be chosen. If neither side is inclined to be a good loser, the crowd will be the one deciding who won. If the player shows a lot of fair play and recognises their defeat gracefully, they will not lose as much prestige. The other participant will only acknowledge their defeat if it is an obvious one, and they will not do so gracefully.

Player's handout: sound effect 9
Player's handoutsound: effect 10


Just as the bet is concluding, the player can see their head of House coming towards them. Her expression will depend on the situation.  
Interrogation mark

What is the player's reaction at the sight?


Whatever they are hoping to do, they do not have time, for they are interrupted by yet another commotion.



The Arianies







Some of the members of House Arianie are getting very rude with the Alyssennes and causing troubles. Everyone falls silent and turns towards them to observe what is going on. If the situation degenerates, they will all be in danger.   A man in the Arianies' retinue goes too far and steps forwards to attack Lord Alyssenne. He does not have the time to do anything before the ground opens below his feet and he falls among the flowers floating below. If the player has not looked at the flowers in details before, they get to observe them now.   Now they even get to see the flowers in actions...
Lord Alyssenne
Lord Alyssenne, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 13
 
Suddenly, just as the Northern man flares his magic wildly and lunges towards Lord Alyssenne, the crystal floor seems to melt under his feet. Nobody has the time to react before he dropped into the water below, producing a great splash.

Player's handout: sound effect 11


There was a few seconds of shocked silence before the crowd surges forwards—but then the hole in the ground widened and everyone pushed back to get away from the danger. Lord Alyssenne sent a look of dark warning at them all before turning back towards the fallen man. You and everyone else follow his example.

The man is moving awkwardly, attempting to stay afloat despite his robes weighting him down. The water below him really seems to be without a bottom... Abrupt movements disturb the water. Before you can realise what is happening, several something is propelled forwards and latch onto the man!

Player's handout: sound effect 12


The flowers! The very murderous, poisonous, carnivorous flowers! Shocked exclamations erupt all around you, but no one attempts to intervene. The threat of the still opened hole is more than enough. The man shouts and makes terrified gesture, his magic bursting out of him in an attempt to attack the flowers. They do not react at all, and anyway it is too late. Just a few seconds later, the man stops all movement. His mouth opens wide and he lets out a horrible scream that goes on and on and on.

Player's handout: sound effect 13


Everyone in the crowd only comes back to their sense when the hole in the floor slowly close and, a few seconds later, a ward settled above it to muffle the sound.



Interrogation mark

What is the player's reaction to this horrifying sight?



Dealing with the situation


Seeing one of their own get eaten like that has not put the Northerners in a good mood. Even the Southerners look a little bit peeved. It looks like the situation could degenerate very quickly! What about the player's trade contract and their bet? Are they ready to risk their life to protect them? They need to think fast.

The player suddenly sees a woman from Scene 3 Group 1 or 2 surreptitiously activate a magical artefact hidden as an innocent fan, while looking at the people to whom the player was previously talking (Scene 3 Group 1, 2 or 3).  
Interrogation mark

What does the player do?


Some possibilities include:

  • Using their line-gift to intervene if it is something suitable. Decide if the player succeeds depending on how ingenious and adapted to the circumstances it is. The player could also get injured, lightly or badly.
  • Warning the people who are about to be attacked, but if they are not discreet enough, this will be noticed and this will trigger an all-out fight in the room during which the player could be injured.
  • Trying to talk them out of it. The results will depend on their argument and how eloquent they are.
  • Pretend that they did not see anything. The attack will then succeed in hurting all the people in the group, some of them quite severely. The player can choose to intervene at this moment to top them from being killed. If they do not, other will do so and gain the gratitude of the people hurt instead of the player. However, the player can still attempt to assist them or to tend to the injuries, possibly with magic.


If they are able to help, the persons they save will be grateful, but they will not have time to thank them immediately. Whatever the player chooses to do, the attack causes other people to activate their magic.
Betrayal during ball
Surreptitious attack, by AmélieIs with Unsplash

Player's handout: image 14


The fan is able to invoke a ball of pure magical energy. Without the proper protective wards or an adequate way to reflect the attack, it is going to do a lot of internal damage!

The attack occurred because the woman recognised her brother's killer among the guests.


Scene 5: Resolution


The Alyssennes' intervention





Heiress Éldorine Alyssenne steps forward. She is one of the only one not wearing her House crest on her dress since she is still dressed from her marriage bonding ceremony in beautiful layers of blue and turquoise silk. However, she still stands out and is easily recognisable since the skirt of her dress imitate the petal of the Alyssenne flowers.   She raises her chin and addresses Lady Arianie directly:  
"This is exactly how your son died. Do you want any other of your people to join them and feed our flowers?"
— Heiress Éldorine Alyssenne
Heiress Éldorine Alyssenne
Heiress Éldorine Alyssenne by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 15


Interrogation mark

How does the player react to that?




Lady Arianie does not seem happy at all about what is going on, but after exchange a look with the young woman by her side—probably her daughter and heiress now that her eldest child is dead—she gestures at her people and everyone relaxes their posture. The player does not have a sensibility to magic—unless they choose it as their line-gift—but they can still distinctively feel the difference when everyone retracts their magic at the same time. The atmosphere was very heavy and electric, similarly to how it is just before a big storm.

Now that the danger is past, everyone slowly disperses back into their own social group, although the player can notice that the Northerners and the Southerners have gathered together on different sides of the room. The Alyssennes, Lyriennes and Arianies are all standing together in the middle, attempting to have a very clipped and tense discussion, but they have now erected wards that prevent anyone from eavesdropping on them.
Lady Arianie
Lady Arianie, by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

Player's handout: image 16
 



Outcomes

Depending on what impression the player has made during their discussions with the new people, how they handled the commotions and the bet, and their reactions to the events, they can get different outcome:




Best outcome

If you judge that they have been extremely impressive, the character with whom they have talked will come forwards and ask them about potential trade contracts while the player is standing next to their head of House. They will be sure to mention their initial reluctance but that it is the player's behaviour that convinced them. In fact, they would even like to visit the Estate of the player's House so as to discuss the possibility of a more formal alliance between their families.

The player's head of House manages to hide her surprise well. She agrees to this and exchanges some information with the other person. However, as soon as she is left alone with the player, she nods respectfully and tells the player that she is impressed and that she will grant them their request.
Trophy gold
A trophy by Vecteezy

Player's handout: image 17






Good to mediocre outcomes

In the other cases, the head of House waits until they were all back home before having a discussion with all the members of the family who were present at the ball. She tells off the cousin who caused a commotion and is more or less severe depending on whether the player was able to calm the situation. She congratulates the older cousin who managed to get some new alliances settled.

She then turns towards the player and asks them to explain their behaviour that evening. Depending on how well the player has handled the situations, what impression they made on everybody, and whether they obtained a trade deal or the vague promise that the persons with whom they talked would send someone at some point to discuss the idea, the player will receive different prizes revolving around the goal they were hoping to accomplish by earning their head of House's respect. They can also earn an increase of the stipend given by the head of House to all members of the family and be trusted with accompanying the head of House when she will go negotiate important trade deals and alliances—this could even potentially result in inheriting the Estate if the player plays well their hand in the future!

Blue ribbon

Blue ribbon, by AmélieIS with Vecteezy


Player's handout: image 18






Loss of prestige and rudeness

  • If the player has done something that results in a loss of prestige for their House, they will be forbidden from ever attending any public event outside of the Estate again. Their head of House now thinks that they are immature and will not trust them with anything important any time soon. They now better have a lot of patience and optimism if they wish hope to one day accomplish whatever goal they had hoped to accomplish by earning her respect.

  • If the player has been rude at any point and caused some new enmity for their House, they will be not only forbidden to attend public event outside of the Estate, but they will also be punished by a loss of privilege. For example, they may be demoted some ranks in their workplace, be forbidden from ever doing whatever goal they had, lose some or all of the stipend given by the head of House to all the members of the family...
Punishment
Punishment, by Vecteezy

Player's handout: image 19









If the player left

If at any point the player decided to use their location pentagram to go home and avoid the danger, this will be seen as a sign of maturity by their head of House. Unfortunately, this will also mean that the player gave up on their opportunity to shine. They will not have gain anything from the evening beyond the authorisation to continue to participate in such events in the future.
location pentagram icon no magic.png
A location pentagram, by AmélieIS with Vecteezy

Player's handout: image 20







Final notes


If you want to do know more about the events alluded to in this story, you can read the short story Deathly Flowers.

  The die picture is from Vecteezy.   The question mark was done by AmélieIS.





Cover image: The ballroom, by AmélieIS with PublicDomainPictures

Comments

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28 Apr, 2021 21:30

God damn that is one hella long one-shot (in a great way)! I wont lie I mostly skimmed over the article, but despite going quite fast I managed to gather all the essential information about the plot (which is quite the feat)! It sounds like a fun social / rp game, and a nice introduction both to your world and to light ttrpg!

Author of Interarcanum and the Shakiraverse

Feel free to check out my latest work!
28 Apr, 2021 22:47

Thanks :D

Feel free to check my costume challenge article :D
29 Apr, 2021 15:28

This is wonderfully written and laid out. I'm amazed that you managed to squeeze a oneshot into essentially a single article.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
29 Apr, 2021 19:40

Thanks :D Writing all of that almost completely in a single vignette was a nightmare! And I'm lucky that I like procrastinating by making pictures and by tweaking my layout, because this is really a wall of text and it was so difficult to work on it that I had to do something XD

Feel free to check my costume challenge article :D