The Suitors’ Challenge

an adventure seed for fantasy role-playing games

A common theme in ancient tales involve romance preceded by obstacles. Brunhilde, Atlanta, and Penelope all provide examples of these types of stories. This scenario presents an rich adventure idea that can incorporate heroic deeds, intrigue, and plenty of opportunities for role playing.

By Arthur Rackham

By Arthur Rackham

In these tales the young prince or princess is of age to marry. However, for whatever reason, someone does not want the marriage to take place. Perhaps the young princess wishes to spend her days hunting and running in the woods. Or the prince’s mother is jealous of her son’s affections and does not wish to have a rival. Maybe the princess’s kindly father simply cannot stand the thought of an unworthy person marrying his beloved daughter. It could be that an oracle has spoken a prophecy that unless a monstrous serpent is slain the princess will die of its poison. Or the princess is next in line of the royal succession and does not want a foreign husband ruling in her stead.

For whatever reason they have set conditions upon those seeking the hand of the young bride or groom. Perhaps the suitor must defeat a nearby monster, or beat the princess herself in a foot race or a contest of feats of arms. They could be sent to a distant land to retrieve some talisman or artifact to prove their worth. There may be additional penalties imposed for those who fail – perhaps they are stripped of land and title or exiled. Some may decree that those who fail the trial be put to death, in order to further dissuade any potential suitors.

The adventures may have been enlisted by another kingdoms’ young prince or princess to aid them in gaining the hand of the potential spouse. Or perhaps one of the adventures themselves is enamored of this young person. Or a combination of the two: perhaps the adventures are enlisted to aid someone and then find that one of their number is smitten by the young prince or princess.

The challenges themselves should be arduous. A chariot race can be extremely dangerous. A contest of archery might involve treachery with poison-coated arrows. Perhaps the nearby monster has a scaly hide which cannot be cut by mortal blades. Maybe the young princess has magical aid such as a belt of giant strength or help from the gods. The bride’s unwilling parents may interfere with the adventures. Conversely if they wish the marriage to take place they may help a chosen suitor. Rival suitors may well try to trip up or even kill their opponents.

Presented below is a short adventure built on this theme. (more…)

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Sea Currents of Findor

At the farthest north-eastern reaches of Soralia, this region is marked on old maps as Findor. The land is more popularly known among the travelers of the day as The Pirate Kingdoms – named after the area’s sea-raiders, a plague of the Soral Sea. Strongholds, towns and villages dot the landscape alongside temples and ruins, marks of lineages and creeds both extant and extinct.

The ocean currents rule this land and shape its people’s ways. A general counter-clockwise current brings cold air southwest from the arctic above the pirate kingdoms down south within fifty miles of Setheria Isle, home of the archmages, which tower provides the marker for the shift in course from southwest to southeast. Continuing southward, the current skirts the Princedoms of Ogham, providing the first opportunities for those who rise this circuit for trade and plunder. From there it meets warm southern winds from the plains and deserts that form the southern bound of the eastern Soral Sea. The winds cool the southerly plains as raiders from the north trade and plunder as they will. The current then proceeds along with the prevailing wind and carries warm air west and then north across the Great Gulf, as the captains of the Pirate Kingdoms call it, seeing as there are no lands east of there. Careful, always keeping the shadows of their masts at their shortest on the left shoulder of the steersman as a guide for their return to Grimsport and the lands of their birth, lest they be carried into the northeastern sea and the isles of ice there. They return along with the warm spring rains from the south, which temper the chill pouring south over the peaks of the Barrier Mountains and water the springs, rivers, plains, woods, hills and valleys of this rough northern land.

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