Monday, 4 April 2011

AtoZ April - C is for Courtesy

Day 3 and "Dahling, all this herd-like behaviour is simply too, too dreary." ;)

Veriest byword for the niceties of polite behaviour is Kuartsey, mist-shrouded Island of the Faceless King. The ever-changing and cryptic edicts of this unspeaking, always-hooded autocrat are relayed to his adoring subjects by a decennial succession of symbolic brides. Each of these women - mysterious in origin, although speculation is universally scurrilous - is an absurdly over-painted harlot-queen who spends much of her time lolling in a drugged stupor.

Around these last pathetic vestiges of an ancient and once-proud dynasty orbit the ever-shifting cliques and circles of the Chateau d'Kuartsey; a veritable finishing school of spite, back-biting, political infighting and sybaritic self-indulgence. In accordance with a system of absurdly elaborate treaties and ties of honour dating back centuries many lords of the Wilds send their heirs-apparent out to Kuartsey. Partially this is to put some polish on their manners; partially so randy young bucks can sow their oats elsewhere than among the servants at home; and partially so that the various hotspurs and heiresses can get to know (and cordially despise) one another in a neutral environment.

The squat and universally short-sighted inhabitants of the Isle see these visiting nobles and gaggles of superannuated former harlot-queens as something between a recurrent plague and/or a seasonal windfall. The wittily vicious antics of the lordlings are applauded, abetted and even emulated by the locals, albeit as a way of emptying the fat purses of the visitors more rapidly. The ever-shifting array of young dumb rich kids makes the island a market for some pretty outlandish goods and services.

Thanks to the half-earned, half-mythic reputation of their homeland as a cradle of exquisitely refined manners and sophisticated etiquette Kuartseyan expatriates are favoured as arbiters of taste in mainland courts. More than one absurdly unsuited islander has found himself hired as masters of revels purely on the strength of his nationality. ("But I'm just a fisherman. What do I know about the relative status, ritual dress or place in correct precedence of the second cousin of a Grand Duke. I hate all this la-di-da stuff. I just want to go home!")

JOESKY'S LAW Compliance Content:

Random Encounters at the Chateau d'Kuartsey

d20    (In order of increasing precedence)
1-3    Put-upon local minding own business - 0-level NPC, 10% classed character
4-6    Busy messenger/errand boy seeking [absurd requirement] - 0-level NPC
7-8    Crier proclaiming new edict (roll on RATD: Court Fad of the Day)
9-10    Discrete gentleman (25% chance incognito princling on their way to [GM decides])
11-12    Ceremonial procession in honour of the Faceless King - 3d6 dervishes
13-14    Roistering aristocrats - as NPC party
15    Princeling in full pomp - classed character, 1d6 levels + 1d6 hangers-on/toadies/bodyguards
17-18    Litter of dowager harlot-queen ("Bring that supple young man over here.")
19    Bong-litter of the current harlot-queen ("[lunatic jabbering of choice]")
20    The Holy Palanquin of the Faceless King ("Make Way!")

Bonus Content:

What's de rigueur among the fops, toadies and talentless-shits-with-an-ancestor today?

Roll All the Dice: Court Fad of the Day

Yes, this particular RATD can turn up some seemingly nonsensical results. But then a time-specific blindness to absurdity is the very essence of fashion.

Pic Source
Palanquin of the Strangled Thane by Keith Thompson


  1. Mahvelous! Absolu'lee mahvelous!

    Don't ever look back, it distracts from the NOW...

  2. Well done. I checked to see if you in fact had more posts under the tag of "ruining the language of Shakespeare." I shall never doubt you again.

    I believe Bong-Litter of the Current Harlot-Queen is, in fact, the most recent album from the sludge rock band Warped Leviathan.

    An aside: Are you familiar with Michael Shea's Nifft the Lean stories? Your material here has always impressed me as having a similar wry baroqueness.

  3. Are you familiar with Michael Shea's Nifft the Lean stories?

    I'd heard/read the name in passing, but confused him with Robert Shea of Illuminatus Trilogy fame and didn't bother to look out any of his works. Thanks for the pointer.

  4. Kuartsey reminds me strangely of Austin, Texas, where the city's population would swell annually with 40,000 college students. Said students were typically loaded with cash, or at least freely handed out credit cards with few limits, and no clue as to what money was or that credit meant having to pay someone back. While having some vague idea of learning something during their stay, their normal activities included getting drunk and getting drunk. If I remember correctly, their were Harlot-Queens as well, but I'm a bit fuzzy on the entire thing thanks to all the booze.

    - Ark

  5. Fabulous Chris. This is something I think I could use even in my Orientalist Nidus and it isn't something I would have thought of. You should send it to that table contest thingy.

  6. Dang! I want on of those... I think I might be able to convince my friends that they need to carry me around for a while.


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