Monday, July 11, 2016

T.H. White Writes Some NPCs

"The Dark and Middle Ages! The Nineteenth Century had an impudent way with its labels." - T.H. White, The Candle in the Wind, Chapter 3

I've been rereading The Once and Future King, and boy have I been enjoying it. White sort of waxes historical in chapter 3 of The Candle in the Wind and goes into how "modern" people during (the ill-defined) "Arthur's Time" would have been. He sort of paints a sweeping picture about the entire Medieval period and entire European continent. It isn't rigorously thorough in its historicity, but it does make its point.

It's lucky, too, since I'm currently writing a megalithic city setting and need random encounters, random NPCs, and strange sights to see. It was nice of White to pull all this imagery together for me. The first law of GMing is steal, steal, steal.

(You'll notice, perhaps, that I'm using a Tarot draw not a dice roll as the random chance. You roll a d14, if you want.)

Sundry Goode Folk of Ye City
1 - Knight in armor bearing top-knot; will serve as a bodyguard while you stay in the City for modest fee
2 - Ambler clerk with tonsured hair; will copy down and deliver letters for small cost
3 - Crusader, with every piece of clothing, gear, barding, tack, bridle marked with the cross; will happily root out blasphemy
4 - White Brotherhood lay-brother, affixer of Papal seals; illiterate and unhelpful
5 - Barbarian wearing Phrygian cap and beard in defiance of proscribed religious dress; will beg you for money to pay his debts
6 - Sergeant-at-mace, royal bodyguard of the king; he is carrying illegally distilled spirits for sale
7 - Pair of papal nuncios, riding to deliver excommunication; will not be bothered by the likes of you
8 - King-at-arms, official referee of tourneys and jousts; will happily judge any trial of combat
9 - A palmer bearing various icons, including a feather of Jibrael's wing, some of the coals on which St. Laurentius was grilled, a vial of sweat from St. Mikhael from when he found a devil, a vial of Maiden Wisdom's milk, and the bones of various saints; will happily sell these to you for exorbitant rates
10 - An outlaw, bearing a holy writ giving him safe passage in exile; if he ever lowers or drops the writ, he is freely assailable by law--he is accompanied by his wife, her hair shaven, into exile
Page - A shepherd whose nose has been cut off for hunting in the kings wood, herding his flock, bearing tar (with which he tends the sheep's wounds); he will happily tell you stories, but is mildly retarded
Knight - A baron carrying a hot pie, complete with his retinue; he is wearing satin shaped like armor, but is too courtly and good to enjoy the advantages of armor; will take you into his retinue and allow you to go hunting with him
Queen - A witch, carrying a wax figure of a rival to a sacred spring in order to properly baptize the poppet; will curse a foe for a fee
King - A princeling with his nanny; the nurse has recently been given power to whip the child if he does wrong without it being considered treason; the princeling will happily sentence you to death for minor infractions, but the nurse will override him

A shame mask

Chance Events and Fortunes had at Ye City
1 - A bankrupt serf is being whipped by a sheriff; as the sheriff whips him, he cries "Who will stay my hand with coin to pay these debts?"
2 - A crowd has gathered at the harbor to watch a sailor leaping from the mainmast tree to settle a gambling debt
3 - A woman bustles blithely in the market wearing a visard; a wooden mask designed to protect her skin from sunburn and her reputation from slander
4 - A woman walks stoically through the streets to jeers; she wears a heavy wooden shame mask and a sign around her neck reads "Adultress" (sic)
5 - You see a man "kissing" a woman's rear, as it protrudes from an open window onto the street
6 - Children are happily playing with the dead body of a corrupt sheriff, still wearing his badge of office
7 - A poor family are gathering loads of manure from the street with forks to sell to tanners; they wait near your animals to see if it will drop a load of dung
8 - The square is full of people observing a magician demonstrating a pendulum clock--the first of this sort of design
9 - A Punch and Judy puppet show vigorously and lewdly lambastes the local lord and the clergy, despite having an audience of only children
10 - Guards push a thronging crowd back as they riot for a chance to grab recently unearthed gold bars hidden in a crumbling patch of the city's walls
Page - A woman is being publically examined by a cleric after claiming to have given birth to a litter of rabbits
Knight - Forty-eight heretical templars are being roasted at the stake, to the joyous cries of the crowd
Queen - A new fountain in the shape of a silver tree entwined with serpents has just been unveiled; it was commissioned by the Secret Pope
King - A triumphal parade winds through the city, bearing treasures from a recent conquest of a distant orcish capital, including false wooden dragon idols and goblin slaves

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