Sunday, 5 March 2017
Adventures in the Eclipsed Kingdom
Whenever anyone in the Eclipsed Lands tries to disguise themselves as the opposite gender and puts on all the clothes & adopts the behaviours, that this disguise will be utterly impenetrable to anyone from those lands.
BUT - it only works across one axis. That is, if a PC dresses himself up as a washerwoman, and then commits crimes as that Washerwoman, then escapes and while being hunted, dresses up as a different woman, then the hunters will see straight through that disguise, but not the fact that they are male.
"Ah ha, Widow Gargleblast, you thought to disguise yourself!"
So effectively (so long as they have the clothes and accoutrements) every PC gets a secondary opposite-gender identity, but that identity stays stable.
Plus, depending on their gender, looks and CHA, most PC's will become extremely attractive to specific groups in their new gender role.
Young women disguised as men become highly attractive to other young women and former male enemies may now find them strangely charismatic and charming to be around.
Good-looking young men in a female role become attractive to young men and other attractive women become jealous of them, but oddly drawn to them.
Older men in a female role will become attractive to older men (to hillllaaarious effect) and will be regarded as trusted, but ugly, friends to young women.
Older woman dressed as men will commonly be taken for Priests and Scribes and be treated as trusted advisors
It’s the Max Von Sydow scene from Conan. A princess has been abducted, or just eloped, with an Eldritch Knight from the Eclipsed Kingdom. Her dad wants her back. A plate, or bucket or gems is on offer for anyone who returns her safe and sound.
She’s ensorcelled (or just raised) to hate a fear all men, so to spend any time around her without her screaming continuously and trying to climb the walls you are either going to need some female characters, or, much better, dress up as her new ‘handmaids’ and get her out that way.
She’s magically compelled to stay in the castle, or just with her new husband, unless a highly-specific fairy-tale challenge is met. It’s a time thing like “only when a shadow cast by the new moon lies upon the castle gate”, or it’s an endless love thing “only when the ravens* leave the ruined elvish tower” or it’s just a creepy possession thing “only if I forget the colour of your hair will I ever let you go”, so the PC’s need to go off and make sure that insane condition happens.
(*Ravens & Crows excluded from the oath of St Vish, as previously mentioned
He’s eventually going to kill her, probably due to some other insane cyclic condition. Like, she has to clean the mud from his boots each night but he has a rack of infinite boots and she has to guess which are the ones he means. Or, she’s allowed to go into every room in the castle Except One, but she sleepwalks and is entering a different room each night. Or he just flies into a murderous rage whenever he has to turn left so she needs to predict every thing he might want that would cause him to have to turn left to get it and place it on his right.
So the PC’s need to run about fulfilling the fairy-tale challenge, like getting the light of the new moon and casting a shadow with it ahead of time, while also dressing up as handmaids and trying to keep this girl alive in this insane situation until they can get her out. Then once they do they have to get the fuck out of the Eclipsed Kingdom while this nutter gives chase.
This time it’s a guy and instead of being charmed he’s possibly just horny for some Eclipsed Girl. Maybe he was due to marry some local girl to seal the treaty between two warring kingdoms and they need him back in a certain number of days or the treaties borked and everyone has to kill each other.
Maybe fell in love with a half-elf princess and her Unseelie Mother has set him a certain-death problem to solve.
“Bring me the tears of a ghoul, freely given.”
“Her wedding ring must be the eye of a Basilisk.”
“She must be given away by a Slaad.”
“The slats of her wedding bed must be the staves of magicians.”
His parents hire the PC’s to follow him around and make sure he stays alive while also looking for a way to either break them up or just get him married safely.
Obviously this good looking young bro isn’t going to want any chicks following him around so all the female party members are going to have to dress as lithe young men (If they aren’t already) and obviously the Unseelie Mother isn’t going to want any dirty guys around her sweet daughter so all the male members are going to have to cross-dress when dealing with her.
Obviously the Prince is going to have Strange Feelings for his new ‘buddies’ and the Princess is going to fall for her new ‘handmaids’.
The Queen or Kings Daughter (Prince if you're into it) has had their heart stolen by an Eldritch Knight from the Eclipsed lands.
Now they are walking around with a visible hole in their chest, unable to feel any emotion. The PC’s are asked to bring back the heart.
Depending on the kind of PC’s you have, this could be a money thing or it could just be the heart of an innocent peasant girl.
The Broken Heart has been used as currency and bits of it sent to every part of the Eclipsed Kingdom. Tracing it is one part of the quest, to get each piece they must defeat, trick or serve whomever has it.
The quest is only finished if they return every piece. But if they do; hooray! An innocent can feel again.
Two Half-Elf nobles are getting divorced.
Half the PC's are employed by one half of one half-elf and the other half by one half of the other half elf. Meanwhile, the second half of the first half-elf tries to bribe the second half of the PC's to betray the first half of the second half-elf while the second half of the second half-elf is still secretly in love with the first half of the first half elf and tries to bribe the lawyers to sabotage the divorce without the first half of the second half-elf noticing.
It's happening in religious court and the Judge is a Bishop of Azathoth so the requirements for a divorce are strange and extreme.
For even more fun, one noble holds one part of a kingdom and the other hold the other part. As they break up, different parts get traded back and forth between the houses, so the pattern of the divorce case affects the shape of conflicts, troop movements and social changes in the world the PC’s are questing in.
For instance, they agree to split a town between them, so a new border goes right down the middle, splitting families and guilds apart, now they are technically in service to different lords all kinds of weird conflicts and opportunities are breaking out.
An Emperor or nation-ruler is having trouble with Eclipse Knights sneaking into his Empire and dicking his schemes around. They seem to have a surprising level of knowledge about how the Empire works and what his weaknesses are. They hire PC's to deal with the situation.
Turns out this guy put a shitload of his closest advisors and opponents in dungeons for life and, while they sleep, they have worked their way up the feudal hierarchy in the Eclipsed Lands the smartest one has become a Grima Wormtongue figure for a Feudal lord, meaning they can direct his knights to screw over the Empire their sleeping bodies are imprisoned in, to the benefit of both them and their new lord.
A high-status prisoner living in a kind of 'mafia don' situation in their prison, calls for the PC's. They don't want to be broken out of jail, maybe for dynastic reasons, maybe because they are happy with their books. Instead, every night they dream of their lives in the Eclipsed Lands. There is something they don't like about that life and they want to hire the PC's to go to the Eclipsed Lands and change something about the socio-political situation there so they can have more pleasant dreams. Maybe try to exchange their current king (in their dreams) for a better one.
(Maybe they don't want to leave as they were blinded due to a dynastic thing and they can see in their dreams so that life is more real to them now.)
A bunch of high-status mad people have escaped from an asylum en-masse and gone off to the Eclipsed Lands, their wealthy families have placed rewards for their safe returns.
If PC's track them down several have become knights and may even lead their own small kingdom. Plus, the situation in the Eclipsed Kingdom is such that the mad often make a lot more sense than the sane, and are sacred to Azathoth to boot, so the PC’s may find themselves battling a kingdom of the crazed to return one of them to the desert of sanity.
Dream-Inception Prison Break
The Silent Knights have taken a very powerful high-status prisoner or a very important treasure into the Eclipsed Lands. Someone wants to pay the PC's to get them back.
The Prisoner is being held inside a jail shaped from either multiple levels of other peoples dreams or with different elements made from a crosshatching of peoples dreams.
So the conical tower guarded by fearsome black and yellow armoured knights with poisoned blades might be the dream of a Beekeeper somewhere.
The Endless Stairs of Oroborous that lead down from the tower and its guard of flying snakes might be the dream of a retired theologian. Maybe the stairs and snakes are his theological problem
The Black Dragon of Carcasses might be the dream of a frightened child of abusive parents somewhere.
So you can D&D it and try to penetrate the thing and solve it in-world in the Eclipsed Lands. But each element as it is embodied in the Eclipsed lands carries clues as to who the dreamer is, and of you go back and forth across the boundaries of the Eclipsed lands, find the dreamers and either solve their problem or understand its nature, they can give you the clue to removing or resolving each threat of the dungeon so you can get the treasure (or free the prisoner).
And the Silent Knights might want to stop you doing that but, of course, they don’t want to endanger the dreamers as that would damage their protection for the treasure, and they don’t want the dreamers state of mind changed too much for the same reason, (plus they might be vulnerable outside the Eclipsed Lands, maybe having to go in disguise) so they will have to be reasonably subtle in their attempts to stop you.
Beekeeper tells you that burning a specific herb will cause the bees to fear you - this works on the Black and Yellow knights.
Helping the Theologian resolve their philosophical problem makes the snakes friendly to you, or transforms them into something else, or teaches you something that makes them afraid.
Helping the kid makes the dragon friendly to you.
That’s the Player Character Inquisition, not whatever culture war joke I can’t be bothered even completing in this sentence.
The Church of Azathoth has been creeping its belief system into neighbouring kingdoms. PC's are hired/probably something more ceremonial than just being hired, as 'Grand Inquisitors' to find the peasants who are worshipping Azathoth and restore the True Faith (whatever that is). Either by getting them to Apostasise or by whatever methods necessary.
Basically you are now the bad guys in Martin Scorsese’s 'Silence'.
This one is going to go dark and get disturbingly violent and horrible pretty quickly.
Either PC’s are simply hired by an Inquisitor of the Black Church (if they are dark enough) or if they get caught dicking around in the Eclipsed Kingdom, Nyralthotep (through the Black Pope) geas’s them into helping the Inquisition to work off their debt to society.
Congratulations, you guys are now in your own game of Dark Heresy except you have to bring back the heads of some Baku or get shrunk down to mini-size to find the Sycamore Dryads hiding in the fruit garden of the Head Inquisitor.
A bunch of hardcore dangerous knights from the Eclipsed Lands are roving around the outside world grabbing people as sacrifices, killing people and taking treasures (that should really belong to the PC's). They are doing this to complete a very specific time-sensitive ritual in the Eclipsed Lands. PC's go after them to save the day
Turns out that they are extremely honourable, decent knights who are only doing this ritual to hold off the anger/notice of Azathoth/keep Azathoth asleep and that completing it will save thousands of lives and avoid disaster that would produce chaos, sending armies roving out into the surrounding lands en-masse.
They are good people doing a terrible thing for the right reasons. Will you try to stop them and if you do, are you capable of doing so?
PC's emerge from their current bullshit to find a Cardinal of the Black Church of Azathoth waiting for them. Extra points if the PC's are at a low point, either imprisoned or close to death and this guy/delegation saves or frees them.
The Cardinal anoints one or several PC's as 'Saints of Azathoth', whether they want it or not, saying that the Son of God has whispered to the Black Pope that this is their fate.
This completely screws the PC's in any reasonable polity as who the fuck wants the 'Saints of Azathoth' roaming around or coming to dinner? PC's become pariah's and get paladins & clerics after them.
To stop being 'Saints of Azathoth' they have to find the Black Pope and ask her to please ask Nyralthotep to ask Azathoth to remove this honour from them. There will be specific shit they have to perform to get this done.
Extra points if, by doing what the Black Pope says the PC's end up fulfilling their Dark Destiny anyway in classic Twilight Zone style.
"Who Might Rid Me Of This Troublesome Knight (if I were asking, which I am not)?"
An Eclipsed lord is being threatened by an Red Knight out in the forests around his realm. This Knight is immune to any harm if it comes due to an order or request of any king or queen. Even if such an order is given secretly, in code or via sign, and no matter how many stages of authority stand between the command and the harm done.
Nevertheless, the King, or his Vizier, or his Wizard, is just going to leave this gold right here OK? Or come up with some other cunning oblique scheme which will inevitably lead to the PC's fighting and killing the Knight without any order to that effect being given.
Fey lord has a terrifying monster on in the wilderness on the edge of his kingdom. All his knights afraid to go near it and run from its cry. Breaks into villages and churches terrorising people. Gets PC's to swear to defeat, in a specific way i.e. "bring me its head on a plate" it for major reward.
PC's go and find the monster, it's a naked six year old human child living alone in the woods. There is nothing special or magical about it. Nevertheless, all Fey are terrified of it.
The Baron loves nothing more than flying about on his giant Peryton, but it's hungry and weak. He needs hearts to feed it.
So go and get some fresh hearts. Human, not elven, half-elven or the pale hearts of dream-people, the full, real deal.
It's an open-offer rats-in-the-basement fetch quest.
The Baron is pissed off with one particular dream-person peasant and is getting tired of torturing them to death every day.
Dream people are hard to kill in the Eclipsed Lands as usually, they just wake up wherever they are at the moment of maximum terror, then come back the next time they fall asleep.
So, to get rid of them for good, the King wants the PC’s to go into the outer lands and either free that particular person from prison so they never turn up again. Or just kill them, eithers good.
Except this person is being held in whatever deep & terrible dungeon the DM has available.
The PC’s are captured by a major enemy and kept in a genuinely-unbreakable dungeon from which they cannot escape.
BUT, they now have new lives as dream-person peasants in the Eclipsed Lands. Can they fight their way out of peasantry and impress the King/The Church/The Queen of Air and Darkness/anyone enough to get a strike team of Unseelie Chivalry sent out to free their mortal bodies from prison?