Day 8-Ladies' Choice
What the Priestesses Say
Butterfly Girl's many suitors sought to win her hand in many ways. She accepted only those who won her admiration. You too now have a chance to prove to the Harvest Queen that you are the most charming suitor. This event takes place in the market square, before the Harvest Queen, the Queen's Handmaidens, and the priestesses. It begins shortly before noon, and continues into the early afternoon. Each competitor has his chance to win the ladies' admiration with a beautiful poem, a sweet song, a romantic story, or tales of their own bravery. The use of magic of any kind in this event is prohibited.
Charming the Ladies
The ladies always favor an engaging man (Charming, Friendly, Seductive etc.), and high communication abilities (Oratory, Conversation etc.) give the contestant a confident, authoritative air. In general, a gently suggestive, almost bawdy tale with the teller as protagonist (something like those found in The Decameron) will win out over an earnest warrior recounting his deeds of glory. If the teller is physically attractive, this also helps. The judging of this event can be as subjective as the GM wishes. GMs may offer up to 5 points bonus as reward for interesting role-playing.
1) Decide on the main ability to be tested (most likely Oratory, Conversation, Seduction or similar).
2) Augment this with any appropriate additional ability.
3) Roleplay the contestant's performance. The GM adds between 1-5 points for roleplaying and storytelling. Remember also to factor-in any penalties accrued previously.
4) Use the same adjustments as for the Favored Suitor, with the following additions: For each first place in a contest +3, for each second place +2, for each third place +1.
5) At the end of the presentations, the three contestants with the most successful results (ie: who rolled the most under their score), win the points. If these leads to a tie, Melisande seeks the advice of her closest friend. (Tying characters then roll against each other, again using the same abilities - although they cannot use the same stories, so lose any story bonuses.)
Contestant Strategies for Ladies' Choice:
Remember to add bonuses equal to all points scored so far in the competition.
Carylon - Carylon Squally sings the ballad "Last Stand at Jasshai". This infuriates the Samadrians but impresses the ladies. The whole crowd joins in the last stanza, and Krogar Wolfhelm visibly weeps. Sorghall fumes. Carylon also gains a bonus +2 for his chosen topic, +3 for being a local Character, +2 for COM and a further +2 due to Melisande's ribbon, giving him a base total of 21-.
Promidor - He does a graceful dance (Dance 13-) and although it is possibly too formal for the ladies' liking, it is augmented by his COM, for a total of 16-.
Vathmar - He expansively catalogues his "amazing" exploits, beginning each statement "Now, I'm not one to boast, but " Melisande and her companions sigh wearily and yawn. He uses his Oratory 12-, which is reduced to 10- by the boredom penalty and his COM.
Myrrhyn - Orate 12- (+3 due of to story and +2 for his cult affiliation) = 15-. (If the Samadrian Trick can be used, his oratory will be lifted to 18-). He may have been fingered as a Samadrian tool by this point, in which case he gets either -2 (suspected) or -3 (confirmed) to his roll.
Sir Barharach - Sir Barharach tells the one about the travelling merchant and the farmer's daughter. It was a big hit in the great hall back home, but its lack of subtlety may not be fully appreciated here. (Story-telling, 12-).
Jarst Daro - Jarst tells a witty tale about an unusual audience he had with the famous Demivierge of Rhigos (conversation 13-). The ladies love it (+3 due to content), but the Klinthans blush visibly and murmur their disapproval. He also gains a +3 due to the favourable impression given at the start of the Wrestling contest. Add in the +4 for his COM and he gets a total of 23- (or +2 more if he can use the Gherent Trick).
Samadrian Trick. Just as Myrrhyn Calmstorm walks on to begin, an ugly woman rushes out, kisses Myrrhyn, and in a shrill falsetto, shrieks of undying love. They fall to the ground and are immediately engulfed by several bystanders (Samadrian Agents), and the local watch who are acting as security. The woman is actually Agrestis, Sorghall's jester, done up in drag. The crowd laughs as Agrestis is dragged back to the stalls. During this little exhibition, the sly Agrestis has actually cast CHARISMA on Myrrhyn. Also, the tale Myrrhyn tells to the ladies is almost irresistible! (The story has been prepared by experts and rehearsed by Myrrhyn exhaustively, giving a +3 bonus.) What tale does Myrrhyn tell? For sophisticated medieval smut, you can't beat Boccaccio's The Decameron (You can get it online here). The GM is sure to find a witty tale among the hundred presented that tickles his fancy and that could be summarized at this juncture. For example, casting Myrrhyn as the protagonist, try Third Day; First Story. "Herein Masetto of Lamporecchio pretends to be dumb and becomes a gardener at a convent where all the nuns vie with one another to take him off to bed with them." Agrestis will not act so obviously if he is under suspicion at this point. If suspicions have been raised against him, he disguises himself in local gear and passes Myrrhyn discreetly just before the start of the contest, once again shielded from view by the well-trained Samadrian agents and try the same trick.
Gherent's Trick The Gherent uses the Fascination power, unless somehow prevented, gently inclining Melisande towards Jarst (giving him a further +2).
The Ladies' Choice Prize:
The winner of "Ladies' Choice" receives a kiss from each of the ladies. Knowing spectators (and approving glances from the judges) also hint that far greater satisfactions await the man who wins the ladies' hearts. Should the result of the Contests be a tie, the competitors must fight to the first blood with swords in the traditional way.
One of the agents the Characters caught spiking the beer barrels may be spotted just as he is placing a huge bet on Myrrhyn Calmstorm to win this event. The agent then returns to the Lord's pavilion and hands Sorghall the ticket.
The Festival Concludes
What the Priestesses Say
The closing ceremonies of the festival honor the winning suitor and his bride, and remind the spectators of their religious duties throughout the year. Afterwards the Temple sponsors an outdoor feast. Many spectators decide to celebrate privately in the taverns and inns of Houndsgor, or with friends and relatives residing in town. Closing ceremonies continue throughout the afternoon, including displays of prowess from children performing dances and singing, and young men practising with wooden swords. Each presiding priest or priestess enacts a Ceremony of reverence to their God, although Laughing Loolie merely gets loudly drunk. The winner marries Melisande, the Harvest Queen, in the late afternoon and their union is consummated at the apex of the Harvest Festival amidst great rejoicing. Unless their man wins, Sorghall and the Samadrian contingent depart with abrupt dispatch. An unsuccessful Myrrhyn Calmstorm accompanies them back to Sillith. Sorghall must devise other strategies to weaken the Houndsgor clan.
The GM should be sure to raise the tempo at the closing of this scenario, so that the Characters (and Players) finish on a high. The vitality of celebration will depend on who won, and might unfortunately be restricted to the professional congratulations from local personalities and cult representatives. Such people could still be impressed enough to offer future patronage, or simply commend the Characters in public, and introduce them to their associates. Depending on events and the natures of Players (and their Characters) various more boisterous strategies might be utilized. Certainly any Ostragyan competitors, and even Klinthans who behaved honorably, could be carried on shields around town by jubilant townsfolk. Also, any Characters who competed are likely to find themselves subject to the extremely favorable attentions of local females as well as the more exotic carnival women. (Adjust to suit gender preference.) Envious local youths, and even renowned personages of the County, might seek out some of the Characters to congratulate them in person. Amongst these admirers, some will speak of particular incidents in awe, and even ask the Characters to list step by step accounts of some sections of the contests. Use these opportunities to have the Characters recount their trials and successes along with how they felt, so that moments of glory and frustration can be relived. For each Character contestant, someone will be on hand to congratulate or sympathize, even if it is only one or two of the judges who deeply respect a contestant who came along and gave of themselves for the glory of the contests. Preferably, the Character will admire some of these people. (This may be for their professional or religious standing, or for much more basic reasons.) One way or another, make sure that the contestants truly feel like heroes for the actions performed in Houndsgor this last week. Nonetheless, the long night will eventually draw to a close, as Characters and varied companions carouse themselves into a stupor. In the morning the townsfolk will hold their normal temple ceremonies, and then begin the clean-up. After this, they attempt to continue life as normal - that is, until the Contests are held again next year.
The Festival Aftermath
If the new Champion of Houndsgor is Carylon, unrestrained, joyful celebrations will occur, and this time the festivities continue long into the night.
If Sir Barharach becomes the Champion, the town will be drunk dry in a matter of days.
If either of the Klinthans win, the celebrations continue, but with a more formal, reserved air.
If the new Champion is Myrrhyn Calmstorm, Sorghall and his contingent stay on to celebrate, and swiftly outstay their welcome. Sorghall's man Myrrhyn becomes a continual irritation to Sir Davis and the Houndsgor clan, and the Lord Sorghall exploits this friction to his advantage.
If Jarst wins Melisande's hand, and remained undetected, the town has fallen to darkness, and the prospects for Houndsgor are bleak. The town and surrounding district suffers greatly in a terrible storm in the coming year, the crops are blighted, and the livestock are barren. Not to mention the mysterious murders, and Jarst's sudden disappearance later in the year as the investigation takes a chilling turn.
If a player's Character is the victor, the public response depends on their impression of his character and virtues as evidenced in his actions during the contest. If he played honorably and respected the rituals and mythic traditions underlying the festival, they take to him as a kinsman and countryman. If he won by crooked or uncouth means, and if he mocked the ritual underpinnings of the contests by treating them with disrespect or indifference, they treat him with the same guarded courtesy and veiled hostility that they show Samadrian forces.
A day or two after the festival's conclusion the characters are walking in the market when they see an altercation - several hooded and masked figures attacking a lone man. Most people flee the fight. If the players get involved, then go to Adventure 2