The PCs in my long-running Sterich campaign, all Barons, are about to join their fellow nobles for a week-long Council of Barons in Istivin, so I'm trying to write an all-social interaction adventure involving political machinations set at feasts, plays, masquerades, dances, court, council sessions, etc.
I'm trying to track down as many social-interaction adventures for D&D, Pathfinder, or any other fantasy rpg as I can, to steal ideas from. I'm looking for adventures dominated by role-play, esp. among nobles or elites, not exploration or combat. So far all I got is
Prince of Redhand (Age of Worms)
Dance of the Damned (Hell's Rebels)
Hellknights Feast (PFS)
Blakros Matrimony (PFS)
Scars of the Third Crusade (PFS)
Merchant's Wake (PFS)
Are there any others, for any game system as long as it's fantasy (does not have to be Greyhawk)? There must be OSR modules centered on role-playing, but what are they?
I"m also open to any ideas for social encounters for the nobles. (The Court Wizard Verbane is about 3 game months from making his move to oust the Marchioness and claim the entire March of Sterich as his own magical realm, so this Council will be the calm before the storm . . . )
Heck, look to TV shows. I ran a similar council meeting for the Sea Princes loosely based on the early seasons of Babylon 5.
Two princes with a long history of hostility and violent border incidents, two others trying to keep things moving in a positive direction, the most powerful prince completely aloof, several of the lesser inland princes banding together to further their own interests even when it conflicted with the interests of the nation, mysterious raiders hitting up and down the coast leaving no survivors and no clues...
Of course you can take any such idea too far by slavishly following the source material. But you can always mine it for ideas and go in different directions with it... and splice in stuff from other sources just to confuse the issue.
Star Trek, original series, season 2, Journey to Babel (just watched it last night):
Negotiations about which faction should have rights to mineral resources at a particular location are convened.
Non-invited (and sort of raider/evilish) group has assassin polymorphed to resembled one of the negotiating parties. Starts random trouble making to de - legitimize the meeting and diplomatic process, leaving the location unclaimed. This serves the purpose of leaving the resources contested, unguarded, and subject to continual raiding and illegal exploitation.
Party must prevent sabotage of meeting, and need not side with any particular claimant, because the claimants are not the trouble makers.
One can always look to Shakespeare for courtly intrigue and machinations.
"Aye, the play is the thing!"
Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of The Shrew are both great potential sources of inspiration, and they are overall light-hearted plays. The histories, particularly Henry IV, part 1, and Richard III include lots of court intrigue. The biggest challenge would be casting the Falstaff character... I would love to play him.
Since the characters are barons, you could emphasize the limits that their titles put on them ("nobles do not do that") and force them to find indirect ways around problems. They may even be moving into the role of patron for other adventurers, think Osric in Conan the Barbarian: "Once he was a powerful Northman, he is now old and sodden". Their noble responsibilities will constrain them and eventually "There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison"
If they are good role-players, as you seem to imply, it would be an interesting experience for them.
-That adventure is amazingly popular. If you google "Prince of Redhand" or Zeeech's Ball" or anything like that, you find at least half a dozen campaign journals detailing the players goings on. Some of them are hilarious.
Just general political wrangling could lead to all kinds of RP interactions. Even if the Marchioness has no clue of Verbane's ambitions, there still has to be an active faction opposed to her rule as well as a loyalist faction, with each side trying to tilt the balance of power to their side. Maybe some neutral baron would be more amenable to siding with the player's side (if they are backing anyone) if they help him or her out with a land dispute with another baron in the opposite camp, negotiating a favorable marriage for a son or daughter with a wealthier baron in the player's camp, etc...
Of course you can always start hinting around as to what Verbane is up to.
I'm trying to write an all-social interaction adventure involving political machinations set at feasts, plays, masquerades, dances, court, council sessions, etc.
I'm trying to track down as many social-interaction adventures for D&D, Pathfinder, or any other fantasy rpg as I can, to steal ideas from. [snip]
There were a number of good city adventures published BITD that you could leverage for general city/social encounters:
Lankhmar City of Adventure (TSR)
Thieves World (Chaosium, boxed set)
The Free City of Haven (plus supplements, by Gamelords; various Thieves Guild materials would also fit in nicely)
Cities, Tulan, Carse, Towns of the Outlands (Mikdemia Press but Cities, Tulan, and Carse were also reprinted by Chaosium)
Bard's Gate (Necromancer Games)
Marienburg and Warharmmer City (Games Workshop)
Citybook series (Blade/Flying Buffalo)
"Barnacus: City in Peril" (Dragon Magazine #80)
Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (WotC)
Pavis and Big Rubble (Chaosium)
Irillian (White Dwarf 42-47)
The various Thieves Guild supplements from BITD had a lot of focus on social encounters, including especially for your purposes TG#3 The Duke's Dress Ball. You can buy original TG books directly from Different Worlds @ http://diffworlds.com/gamelords_thieves_guild.htm (and tell Tadashi that Allan sent you if you do ;) ).
Thanks, everyone, for all the intriguing suggestions! I don't dare mine Shakespeare too closely, as 3/4 of the people at my table are either actors, directors, or board members of the local Shakespeare company, and will call out any such thefts ASAP. (Oh, and Henry the Fourth Part One is my favorite play actually! and I've played Hotspur twice.)
Grodog, thanks too for the long list of social adventures. I have some of them (G:TAB, of course, Barnacus, FR1, Lankhmar, the incomparable Cities from Midkemia Press, probably the most useful supplement I ever bought for the game).
I'm wondering if any of the others actually have some sort of system to track social progress, social relationships, that sort of thing, or to determine success in a social encounter. I really like that the social encounters in Prince of Redhand have game mechanics attached to them--something I appreciate in most of the Paizo Adventure Path material involving social situations. It's really easy to drag out such encounters and drop them in to other situations, just scaling them up or down as necessary.
Does the Duke's Dress Ball, Ptolus, or any of the others you mentioned have any systems or mechanics attached to their social encounters?
Just purchased Curse of Strahd over the weekend and, while it certainly can be combat intensive if the party desires, it is set up to play more social as well, with levels granted upon reaching certain milestones, and ample ways for the party to avoid outright combat in most situations, until they reach Ravenloft, of course.
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