Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In the Court of the Crimson King

Who is this guy? He's a creep.
Ever since I was a kid listening to King Crimson, I felt that the Court of the Crimson King would be a great setting to play in. After school, waiting in the (aptly named) After School Program and listening to the Court of the Crimson King on my tape player while the other kids ran around or read or drew, I would dream fever dreams of floating prison ships, the Pattern Juggler, and all the other bizarre imagery that was piped directly into my ears.

Here is my prospectus on a Court of the Crimson King as a setting (as usual, envisioned for FG&G, though it's mostly rules agnostic. If there's an outcry I'll start statting things up):

The world is a decaying, baroque place. There are lands outside of Corolaine but they are of little consequence to us. Corolaine is thus, for our citizenry, the world. There are mountains and seas that girdle her and three moons that circle one another in her sky. Her state is late medieval, replete with paper and installed bureaucrats but still focused around the king's personal curia. Outlaws, prisoners, and dissenters against the thousand-year-reign of the King are placed upon the flying prison ships that convey them skyward ever after. This is Corolaine, home of the Crimson King. Cochin City, where the Court is located, is the heart of the kingdom.

The Crimson King and the Black Queen. These are the two nominal rulers of Corolaine, though the King has done little in the past three hundred years to merit the title. He is an exhausted old man, always present at court with his long white hair and scraggly beard, resplendent in the crimson gown and crown of gold. Most of the affairs of state are dealt with by Nocta, the so-called Black Queen, and King Rufus' fifth wife. Each month she celebrates anew the death of the Princes Alax and Tefer in the endless war with the kingdom of Laudria upon Corolaine's southern border.

Nocta, the Black Queen, is also the matriarch of the House of Nix. This is one of the political factions in Cochin City and currently the most powerful.

Clovis, Keeper of the Keys. A minor magician, Clovis is the Keywarden of Cochin City. His job it is to make certain that no foul alchemist or necromancer grows in power in the shadow of the Court. He uses his lesser magical talent to sniff them out and report them. In addition he is the leader of the civil militia (though he must still answer to the Crimson Knights). Clovis and the Black Queen do not get along very well, and he considers himself unbendingly loyal to King Rufus (though he would likely sell the king out to safe his own life).

The Schola Cochenum. This pilgrim house stands near the great keep of Cochin and services all those traveling to the city for religious reasons. The cult of the Crimson King has been thriving these past four or five hundred years, and as the nine-hundredth anniversary of the thousand-year-reign approaches more and more pilgrims flood the Schola seeking to do homage.

The Fire Witch. One of the members of the House of Nix, the Fire Witch (also known as Pyrréah) is the right-hand of Nocta, the Black Queen. She has a great deal of mastery over that element and is a feared enforcer of the House of Nix. However, she cannot long remain in Corolaine; her own estates, both mundane and arcane, require tending. Only by sounding the tongueless cracked brass bell in the ancient way may she be brought back to the court, and then only for a fortnight at a time.

The Purple Piper. One of the many Court Servants, the Piper wears comic attire and carries his recorder with him where'r he goes. He is a cunning strategist of the court and also a Count of Baran—he is the patriarch of that house, and leader of the Barani faction at court. What they desire is unknown, besides stability and the continued reign of the King.

The Pattern Juggler. A wizard of moderate power, the Pattern Juggler is also amongst the Court Servants. He is the eyes and ears of the House of Cashal, which is interested only in its own preservation. While the Purple Piper retains command of the choirs which sing the king to sleep each night, the Patter Juggler's prime domain is that of the orchestra of Players who rouse him each morning.

The Grinding Wheel. Legend and rumor tie the ancient grinding wheel at the foot of the throne to the very life of the monarch himself. It is said that the thousand-year-reign of the Crimson King will come to an end when this mystic wheel, originally granted to the court by the mysterious Gardener in the dawn of the Crimson King's rule, finally stops spinning. No known force can keep it in place, and it is said that one can even grind gold or diamonds beneath its rough surface.

Prism Ships and the Prison Moons. Prism ships are great galleons with prismatic rudders that leave a strange scent and taste on the air. They fly high above Corolaine, laden with prisoners who are exposed on deck to the rays of one of the Prison Moons. High in the atmosphere, this light forms bonds that are unbreakable except by direct exposure to sunlight. Part of the reason Corolaine will never be conquered is its vast fleet of prism ships that are ready, at a moment's notice, to defend the realm.

The Yellow Jester. The least of the Court Servants and the least powerful, personally, the Yellow Jester is said by some envious fools to rule the entire kingdom by pitting one family against another and whispering his poison in the king's ear.

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