This is a half-written plan for a fairy-tale-esqe adventure, or maybe a mini-game. I just started scrawling this down freehand in an empty pad, apropos of nothing, and stopped when I got to the middle bit, or the end of the first act.
I had the idea that the PC's could all be women (an idea that seems to re-occur to me with some regularity), they would be the friends and handmaids of the Princess in question and, as in all good child-adventure films, the only people who know what they are doing. But it could also work with the standard band of vagabond adventurers who have strolled into town.
If they were the Princesses friends then;
Fighter = Kitchen Maid
Specialist/Thief = Handmaid, or possibly Young Lady, if high Stealth.
Cleric = Virtuous Lady
Magic User = Bookish or Peculiar Lady
The skin of Princess Sun has been stolen!
She was found, still alive, in her bed a few hours ago. At this moment she floats, skinless, in a bath of milk and honey, with new fresh milk and new fresh honey being brought every hour and drizzled all over her horrible body.
The sticky, sweet, blood-stained milk is brought out at the same time.
Only a handful of the toughest old Maids can even look at her to perform this duty, so horrible is the sight. Her mother, the Queen was dragged out screaming and is still in a swoon.
The halls of the castle are full of her low moans.
It is a terrible situation. The Princess herself is barely able to speak but seems to have no idea what happened.
Old King Gloom calls for aid! Someone must find the skin of the Princess and return it to her to be sewn on.
· A pair of bloodstained golden scissors were found on the Princesses silk sheets.
· The Princesses pet monkey has also been stolen from its silver cage.
· Children, churls and alcoholics, whisper that The Master Thief was seen last night, standing in the town square, staring at the tower where the Princess lay.
· The Witch of the Black Woods (who cannot be named) lives within reach. She never seemed to have any hatred for Princess Sun, but stealing a Maidens skin seems like exactly the kind of thing she would do.
· In Addition: Three different gentlemen had all recently proposed marriage to the Princess, and been denied. They are;
o Lord Blue Beard. A huge, handsome, wealthy, multiply-married (they died) local lord.
o The Grand Vizier. An wealthy and mysterious potentate from far away. He travelled with camels laden with gold and offered a huge dowry.
o Brave Prince Brawn. A very strong, very big, very confident, very loud, red-faced leader of the Knights of Iron.
FOLLOWING THE CLUES
The Scissors and the Seamstress
One person in the Castle is an expert in scissors - Mistress Quick, the Royal Seamstress.
· She is in her parlour.
· Anyone listening can hear her crying.
· And hear her say "Oh my Love! Oh, my scissors! Oh, my Love"
· If they knock, they will hear a small 'click' before the door is opened.
· Mistress Quick is an older lady, fine, plump and unmarried, with very fast hands.
· She carries a big pin-cushion full of golden needles, some fine green gems on rings, and a golden locket at her neck.
· If they ask about the scissors she starts crying again.
· Those ARE her scissors.
· She says they were kept safely in a locked ebony box. No-one should have been able to get them.
At this stage, Miss Cheek, the Maid, bursts in and starts cleaning and knocking things over.
· She has a red face.
· The sound of bottles clinking comes from her skirts.
· She gives the PC's a wink.
· "Oh Miss Cheek. Must You?"
· The hand of Mistress Quick goes to her locket. She falls on the bed.
· "Oh the Tragedy of it, so never know LOVE...."
· "Young women today only care about pretty dresses and gender equality, where are the true romantics?"
· Beat the truth out of Mistress Quick, she's not that tough.
· Bribe Miss Cheek with booze (she is severely alcoholic).
· If female, convince Mistress Quick you are a true romantic.
· Steal or grab the locket.
THE SEAMSTRESS WAS IN LOVE WITH THE MONKEY.
The picture in the locket is of the missing monkey.
"It wasn't his fault!"
"Oh! He would say such wonderful things to me!"
"The Dreams we shared!"
"We were to be married."
"He was an enchanted Prince!"
"No-one would have understood!"
"Yes, he had access to my room."
"I'm sure he is a victim of the Witch of the Black Woods (who must not be named), or.. The Master Thief."
If King Gloom discovers that Mistress Quick has been intimate with a monkey she will be thrown in the cells.
The Monkey in the Silver Cage
· King Gloom thinks the Monkey was a Birthday gift from Lord Long, his brother, the Uncle of the Princess.
· Lord Long says he thought the monkey must have been a gift from Duchess Puss, the cat-obsessed Aunt.
· Duchess Puss says _she_ thought the monkey was a gift from the King (and a poor one too, a kitty cat would have been much nicer).
The Master Thief
How do you know it was.. The Master Thief?
· He wore a black hat with a wide brim.
· He had a ragged black cloak.
· He had long, long legs, with pointed toes.
· He carried a sack of mysterious things.
· When he saw me see him in the moonlight, he looked right at me, and gave me a tip of his hat. Then disappeared.
· And behind him, he left an orange peel.
What did he look like?
· He wore a mask.
· But he had a cunning look.
What was his build?
· He wore a cloak, but his legs were long.
What colour was he?
· He was neither too dark, nor too light.
· Not cream, nor wan.
· And not a foreign fellow, but certainly not a local.
How to Catch The Master Thief.
Anyone can tell you; No-one can catch The Master Thief, he can steal what he wants and go where he likes.
BUT - there are three things he loves more than anything else;
· Stealing things that are nailed down.
· Selling things to those who have too many of them already.
· Oranges - for he leaves orange peels wherever he goes, that is how you can tell he has been near.
IF the PC's
· Nail down something valuable.
· Acquire too many of a common object (at least fifty).
· And possess oranges.
They will encounter The Master Thief.
Encountering The Master Thief
· A child, woman, nun, gaunt old man, or someone they know well, will approach them in an unexpected way and offer them something for sale, it only costs a shilling.
· It is in this box.
· If the PC has a particular object they are after, they can see it in the box.
· If not, ask (as the Referee) what the character most desires, they see that in the box.
· If they pay the shilling this person runs away as fast as a shadow, spilling wig and disguise as they go.
o If the PC catches them, it is only a pig dressed up as a person (you may keep the pig, they will be a loyal friend), or a reflection of The Master Thief in a mirror they run into and break.
· In the box is a single one of the mundane object they have collected.
The Nailed-Down-Thing will have either disappeared, leaving only the nails, or;
· They will notice a large number of flies landing on it.
· Then a dog licking it.
o It has been replaced with a cake of equivalent size and exquisite design.
o The cake is delicious.
The oranges, wherever they are and however they are guarded, are all eaten, leaving only peels.
But in the midst of the peels is a napkin marked with ink.
The first person to open the napkin reads this;
"A skin for a skin
All ripe together
In summer weather
Morns that pass by
Fair eves that fly
Come buy, come buy
Buy a skin from Goblin Men
Buy a skin down in the glen
Come buy, come buy"
· And a map to the Goblin Market, which fades as soon as it is seen.
· The napkin was written in disappearing ink.
· Anyone who saw the napkin can now remember the way to the Goblin Market.
Anyone who encountered The Master Thief now realises that all of their personal valuables are gone, their clothes have been replaced with paper equivalents and their shoes are now cheap, worn through, the wrong size, and not their shoes.
The Witch of the Black Woods (Who Cannot Be Named)
· She lives in a cottage of food in the Black Woods.
· No-one who goes there has ever returned.
· Her name is 'Mistress Sertsim' but if anyone says it out-loud, she hears it immediately and curses them straight away. From that day on, if they ever hold two separate objects free in their hands, they will both come alive and fight each other till one of them is smashed to bits.
· From that day forward you can only pick up one thing at a time.
· She turns people into pigs.
· She eats children.
Going To Her House
· The path is made of cool white stones in the black wood.
· Crows watch you from the trees.
· Silver children appear.
· They are ghosts.
· They seem terribly afraid.
· They do not understand they are dead.
· They are running away from something, they shout "she will catch me!"
The House of the Witch of the Black Woods (Who Cannot be Named)
· Walls of dripping beef.
· The roof tiled in Cornish pasties.
· Windows of pale, polished fat from slices of giant Black Puddings.
· The gutters are soggy, dripping baguettes.
· The door is a huge pizza with a pineapple doorknob.
· It is surrounded by the skulls of children on black poles.
o (Some still have hair and skin.)
o They clack when you come near.
· A big black cooking pot.
· Stuffed moles, voles, rats and cats, with gold buttons for eyes.
· They are rushing around sewing clothes for a young woman.
· An old crow croaks at you and tells you to go away;
· "The Mistress is out!"
· "Come back later, for dinner."
Where is she?
· "She has flown to the Goblin Market to buy a new set of clothes."
· (All the creatures laugh at this.)
If you are cunning, perhaps you can persuade the Crow to tell you the way;
"Walk north till noon.
Then west is best.
In the Evening - you'll hear grieving, follow that.
Then watch the sky for stars.
Follow the seventh star to appear.
Close your eyes.
Sing; 'All ripe together
In summer weather
Morns that pass by
Fair eyes that fly
Come buy, come buy'
And then you are there.
Lord Blue Beard
· In the Dutchy of Lord Blue Beard, everyone seems sad.
o Except the butcher, who is manic-happy, and grins.
o Slabs of meat are dripping in his window.
· The pigs are eating something red.
· The girls are all dressed as boys, with hair cut short.
· There is old confetti clogging the gutters.
When you reach his old, rambling castle, an ancient Butler opens the door.
· If you are a young lady, he asks; "Are you here to be married?"
· Lord Blue Beard left quite suddenly.
· He is going to fetch a dowry for his bride-to-be - Princess Sun.
· (He WILL marry Princess Sun.)
· He went north, in a carriage with silver bells..
The Grand Vizier
The Grand Vizier didn't seem that upset by the refusal of Princess Sun.
· He left a few days ago.
· He travels quite slowly, because his camels are laden with gold.
· And guards wilding huge scimitars walk alongside the camels to guard them.
· He stays every night at an Inn.
· (He refuses to sleep outside.)
· He stayed last at The Golden Thatch, on the north side of town.
The Golden Thatch
· The innkeeper is very pleased.
· He has new clothes, new shoes, a fine hat and workmen are adding a gazebo to the Inn.
· “Some say gazeebos can be dangerous, but I have never seen one harm a man.
· He has nothing bad to say about the Grand Vizier.
· "That man is rich enough to buy anything."
· "But who can buy what cannot be bought? That's what I said."
· "He went north, I don't know why."
· "He won't be travelling fast."
· "I recommended the Ammonite Inn, on the forests edge."
The Ammonite Inn
· The Inn has a roof of blue-grey slate.
· The stone of the walls has fossilised ammonites in it.
· And the sign is that of an ammonite.
· The innkeeper is terse, she cleans her glasses and says little.
· "That man stayed here, only two nights ago."
· "He paid well and asked strange questions."
· "He wanted to buy that which cannot be bought."
· "I send him to the only place such questions might be answered - the Black Wood Inn, between the Black Woods and the Swamp of Pain."
· "I would recommend you do not go."
The Black Wood Inn
· A creaking low building of black wood.
· Damp and part flooded.
· Crayfish scuttle across the puddles and the Gas-Frogs howl outside.
· The Innkeeper is a giggling little man with pointed teeth, and pointed ears, and pointed eyes.
· He will not say much, answering only in questions and puns.
· If you ask him; "How can I buy that which cannot be bought?", he will say;
· "All ripe together
· In summer weather
· Morns that pass by
· Fair eves that fly
· Come buy, come buy
· "Ill tell you for a kiss, or a riddle that I cannot solve."
· If you provide either, he will direct you to the Goblin Market
· "Just step into this black coracle behind the Inn, close your eyes and sleep. When you wake up you will be there."
Brave Prince Brawn
· Prince Brawn is still practicing his jousting with his Knights outside the town.
· You can find them by the sound of crashing and of men shouting.
· The Knights of Iron are all big, strong, loud, red men in bright red armour.
· Prince Brawn is the biggest and strongest and loudest and reddest of them all.
· He is not afraid of anything.
· Prince Brawn will decide, immediately, that he must rescue the skin of the Princess.
· If the characters are ladies, and are attractive, charming, virtuous or any combination of the three, he will insist on following them around, getting the way, being loud and confident.
· He will not listen to anything they say.
· It is a notable aspect of Prince Brawn that every decision he makes is exactly wrong, not part wrong or slightly wrong, but utterly opposite wrong.
· He has no idea this is the case.
THAT'S ALL FOR PART ONE
The second part is 'The Goblin Market'. This would need a lot more work put into it. I would need tables or particular;
Hawkers and entertainers
Minor, but remarkable purchases.
Eventually the PC's should find;
The Auction of Things That Cannot Be Sold.
(This is intended to be the main part of the adventure, robbing an auction of evil beings)
This is a huge, black tree trunk like a creepy small fortress, with a one-eyed hedgehog on guard outside.
Gathered round it, and bigger than it, are;
· A train of camels for the Grand Vizier
· The Carriage with Silver Bells, for Lord Blue Beard
· A Giant Pestle for the Witch of the Black Woods (Who Cannot Be Named)
· A single autumn leaf floating around for the Queen of Air and Darkness, guarded by nut-brown fairies with sycamore wings.
· A carriage of bones pulled by skeleton horses made of jumbled human skeletons, for the crumbling necromancer.
To get inside the PC's must drink from the Hedgehogs Nut, this makes them very small. Only people who have been smallified can go into the Auction.
Inside the tree-trunk is like a dark and creeking fortress lit by fungi and fireflies. Beetle and millipiede servants living inside (they resent the current operators, this used to be their tree trunk).
This would need;
· A big auction hall.
· Some separate areas where people can mingle & PC's can do sketchy stuff.
· A 'secure' back stage area where the Impossible Things are kept.
· Lots of warrens, secret passages, 'maintenance' passages, rooms, holes and logistical areas for PCs to move around it, or to stash dead or unconscious bodies. Passages behind mirrors. A place inside a place.
· Places where uniforms for the staff and cloaks and coats are kept.
· Security that stops you getting in or out.
· Mysterious masked courtesans hanging around.
· A timetable of auctions. And things happening between auctions
Inside the NPC's are all here to buy the Princesses Skin (and maybe other stuff);
· The Witch
· The Crumbling Necromancer (not really that bad a dude, but he needs skin, so what can you do?)
· Lord Blue Beard
· The Factotum for the Queen of Air and Darkness
· The Grand Vizier
· The Wren Princess (almost 'good', as you probably know, the Wren is the king od birds and the Wren Princess really wants a chance to be human, now that she's here she feels a bit wierd about the skin business.
These are all powerful people so everyone would need behavioural quirks and 'exploit', something they can't or won't do, or a behavioural thing, that can be used to manipulate and/or evade them. Then go back and seed knowledge of the exploits through the adventure.
Plus aims other than the skin, things you can use to set them against each other.
Of course the monkey was behind the whole thing. He is the auctioneer. He got tired of monkey living and plotted to steal the Princesses skin. He dirtbagged Mistress Quick. He is a bad monkey.
Everyone else had to get small to get inside, but the monkey didn't, so now he is like a huge ape compared to everyone else.
The PC's can get the skin, but of course _The Master Thief_ uses the chaos to steal all other other impossible things (together with anything nailed down), leaving only orange peels behind.
This was his plan all along.