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Grand Duchy: Adulterine Castles of the North

Claude Gellee - The Enchanted CastleA persistent, even nagging, feature of the Imperatrix’s reign has been the presence of adulterine castles, fortresses without royal license or outside the crown’s control. Across the great northern kingdom are scattered hundreds of castles, fortresses, and towers. These adulterine strongholds are something of an incongruity in a kingdom that is otherwise stable and secure.

Ancient Ruins

A few of these castles are ruins of the Great Retreat and the Mage Wars, imposing relics of a darker age, all thought to house things sinister and wicked. Many of these sites also feature a secondary fortification—a counter-castle erected outside bow range by opposing forces to establish a competing base or as a platform to launch siege attacks.

Lost and Forgotten Baronies

Far more common, though, are freestanding bulwarks that became forgotten and abandoned in the constant shifting and rearranging of Dornig fiefdoms and lesser holdings, all part of the land’s changing political landscape.

While these more numerous strongholds may lack the dark lore of their older brethren, they also have reputations as haunted places or serve as lairs for the fell races, bandits, and outcast sorcerers.

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Grand Duchy: Traits From an Elfen Kingdom

Saint George and the Dragon - RaphaelWho knew that grandmother’s stories told beside the evening fire were entertaining and contained elements of elf history? Did you ever wonder why warriors from Reywald and Donnermark often favored the warhammer, traditionally a dwarven weapon? And who doesn’t trust a resident of Salzbach to taste-test the contents of an unmarked potion?

Players who create PCs native to the Grand Duchy of Dornig might find that including these traits adds some of the region’s character in their Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

But if you use another system, these traits can still be useful without the mechanical aspects. The traits can inspire D&D 5E-style boons or serve as background material for systems like FATE or Savage Worlds.

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Grand Duchy: Familiar Faces of the Movable Feast

The Love Song, 1868–77. Sir Edward Burne-JonesOf late, the Beloved Imperatrix tolerates much mischief and merriment in her court—a nod, perhaps, to the elf nation’s relation to the frivolity of the fey. So, it’s no surprise that among the most familiar faces at the Movable Feast these days are a clown soldier, a prized winemaker, and a philanderer of the forest.

Daffyd O’Dell, Male Elf Bard

Her majesty’s current favorite among court wits, Daffyd does not wear the traditional harlequin’s motley. He appears in a parody of a high-guard’s panoply, complete with mismatched grieves and arm guards, an ill-fitting helm, and a dull bent spear.

In the role of an inept guard, he is fond of mocking those who seek to impress her majesty by providing descriptions that clearly stretch the truth of their martial exploits. He usually does this from the wings, just to the periphery of the speaker, so he can be seen out of the corner of the eye. As the warrior provides a blow-by-blow account, Daffyd pantomimes the actions. It never fails to fill the court with laughter and, at the same time, humble the speaker.

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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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