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The Grand Duchy: Intrigues from the Current Season at Court

J. W. Waterhouse (1849-1917) The Favorites of Emperor Honorius, 1883.Every season brings a fresh round of disputes the Imperial Court must entertain. Feel free to use them as scenarios for roleplaying-focused sessions or as seeds for adventures across the Grand Duchy.

Here, then, are the petitions large and small brought to our Beloved Imperatrix, Regia Moonthorn Kalthania-Reln van Dorig.

Rings to Rule Them All

Her Majesty was asked to mediate the 326th dispute between the Ringsmith’s Guild and the Guild of Wondrous Creators. The issue is whether either group should have a monopoly on the crafting of toe rings, torcs, armbands, earrings, circlets, and the latest rage in resurgent fashion—tiaras. Item quality and expense are two sticking points.

The petition includes examples of magic items that best represents each group’s work in the various categories of adornment.

The Beloved Imperatrix has commanded the items be displayed so that her subjects can take pride in her artisans’ accomplishments.

Her unspoken intent, however, is so foreign emissaries can be awed by their magnificence and other ne’er do wells might be tricked into revealing themselves by rash attempts at thievery.

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Wondrous Items of the Grand Duchy

The World Serpent AwaitsSome of the magic of the Grand Duchy is Deep Magic, fey-inspired and unique to the forested lands protected by the Beloved Imperatrix Regia Moonthorn Kalthania-Reln van Dornig. But clever travelers and adventurers have learned to exploit such ancient arcana and incorporate it into useful wondrous items. Here are a few of those items, crafted using spells from Deep Magic.

Jak’s Duck Call

In appearance, this lacquered wood-carved mouth instrument resembles a duck-hunter’s call, except for the red band along the mouthpiece and the hooked dragon’s claw wood-burned into its side. Once per day, blowing into it causes it to sound a drake’s mating call, irresistible to any dragon type within a radius of 10 miles. The character can make the duck’s call sound as if it is coming from the point of origin or along any location out to a distance of 10 miles in the direction it is blown, and he or she can make it untraceable to the point of origin if desired. (Subsequent uses in a given day sound like an ordinary duck’s call.)

Jak’s duck call. Aura transmutation; CL 5th; Slot mouth; Price 8,800; Wt 1 lb.; Craft Wondrous Item, voice of the dragon, tame drake, ventriloquism; Cost 4,400.

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Hirsh-Dammung’s Units of Irregulars

CC3 Midgard Overland Map StyleHirschberg’s tradition of uniformed service runs deep. It is so ingrained that the locals boast that the bedclothes of its first soldier, Praeter Yohanis, are as stiff as his starch-pressed dress reds.

But even the elfmarked castellan of Castle Reln recognizes that a life of strict military discipline is not for everyone. The defense of the realm also depends on those who serve the city’s lawful authorities in civilian garb. Yohanis has been instrumental in establishing three units, his “irregulars” as he likes to call them, eager to apply their martial training outside the regular command structure.

Many adventurers see joining the irregulars as a gateway into Hirschberg society. This is especially true of non-elves and foreigners whose aim is ultimately to gain stewardship of a barony of their own. But natives also volunteer out of a sense of patriotism.

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The Magic of Reywald Libraries

A medieval scribal pattern book by Gregorius Bock, ca. 1510-1517 from Swabia, Germany.The inhabitants of Reywald have a thirst for learning and a love of books.

While Arcane College and Huxelheim Academy are best known for their impressive lending libraries, the city and surrounding region have many other private collections.

Visiting any of these libraries is a treat. At first, adventurers may find their rules and restrictions strange. In time, though, they will come to appreciate the variety of magic used to keep the collections intact.

Some common features:

  • Permanent magic mouths are placed strategically throughout the large libraries. If the magic mouths detect raised voices, they make a hushing sound, and if the offenders do not take notice, the mouths utter the command, “You are disturbing our patrons, so please be quiet.”
  • Some librarians invest in a wand of unseen servant, mainly so they can have assistance placing and retrieving items from the most hard-to-reach places. The appearance of seemingly floating books handled by unseen servants gives rise to the rumors that libraries are haunted places.
  • For those librarians who often are put upon tall ladders, many consider a ring of feather falling a worthwhile investment. At Arcane College, such a ring comes with the office of chief librarian. By tradition it is passed down to successors.
  • Bags of holding and handy haversacks are not permitted in Reywald libraries. The main entrance is warded to detect moderate conjuration and ring a small bell as a signal to the librarian on the desk. Such items must be checked in at the desk to allow the patron to proceed.
  • Genuine book donations are always welcome, but some people think the donation box is a great place to donate water-damaged books, books with broken spines, or stacks of pamphlets and leaflets kept in grandma’s attic. Lately, adventuring groups have started to leave a new type of discard. These are used magical manuals (such as manual of bodily health, manual of gainful exercise, manual of quickness of action, tome of clear thought, tome of leadership and influence, and tome of understanding). Once their magic is expended, they are simply bulky self-help manuals (usually poorly written and of dubious practical worth) of which the library already has plenty.

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Monster Mondays: Doom Fowl

MonsterMondaysThe full moon shines down on the ruined farm. Bodies lie scattered across the barnyard in pools of congealed black blood. The first sign is dry rattling cracks from all around you, and then hundreds of little avian skeletons emerge from the surrounding area and move toward you, empty eye sockets implacably staring.

Doom fowl are swarms of the animated skeletons of chickens, ducks, geese, and other common barnyard fowl. Never ones to waste resources, the gnomes of Neimheim developed a variant usage of animate dead to turn the dead flocks of raided farms into a source of horrible minions. The resulting swarms of undead fowl often incorporate nearby materials into their incomplete skeletons, a feature that the gnomes quickly realized allowed them to augment their creations.

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