, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Philibert-Louis Debucourt - The Public Promenade (La Promenade Publique) - Google Art Project

Well-to-do people living in the cities of the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820) will spend a good portion of their early day walking thorough public parks, pleasure gardens, or tree-lined boulevards. Many cities have built special, landscaped paths just for the enjoyment of promenaders. Some places even have cavernous indoor spaces used for promenading in inclement weather!

The morning promenade usually begins around 11:00 AM, after the morning toilette and breakfast. It’s not just a healthy walk in the sunshine, but also an opportunity show off new clothes, see what others were wearing, and catch up on gossip. It’s also a public display of the fact that the aristocracy don’t have to do anything so undignified as working for a living! Wealthy ladies may wear dresses distinct from their evening attire, in an era when most people can only afford to own one or two outfits at all. Many promenaders bring their dogs with them, whether favored hunting dogs or the ornamental lapdogs held by women as an accessory. Often, musicians will be playing along the promenade route. There will also be vendors dispensing beverages, either from push carts, or from from tanks they carry on their backs. Besides the stone benches that may be permanently installed on the path, there may also be tables and chairs set out so promenaders can sit and enjoy a coffee, or glass of wine.

Naturally, when characters in Ghastly Affair promenade, unusual things will tend to happen!

Random Events of the Morning Promenade (d20)

  1. A young women carries a unusually large parasol that keeps her in shadow. She is completely covered up, showing little skin, and wears a large hat or bonnet that further shades her face. The last time the PCs saw her in public she looked exceptionally pale, probably as a result of being bled too much by her doctor.
  2. A pretty but obviously middle class woman is walking where only aristocrats should be. Is she somebody’s new kept mistress, who just hasn’t learned yet to properly conduct herself, or is she some radical engaged in a deliberate provocation?
  3. A duel has begun, either with pistols or swords. The duelists may be well-known. Even if dueling is technically illegal, the authorities are unlikely to intervene in a dispute between such gentlemen. The usual time for duels is much earlier in the morning, so these two must want their duel to be seen.
  4. A famous author, philosopher or poet is here. His latest work pushes the limits of acceptability, and has been universally condemned by the conservative authorities. Naturally, ladies who wish to be fashionably scandalous will want to converse with him (and possibly arrange a much more private audience)!
  5. A wild animal (or pack of animals) has wandered onto the path. Possibilities include a pack of dogs (or even wolves), a vicious wildcat, or even an inexplicably out-of-place animal (such as a black panther or crocodile).
  6. A murdered corpse is discovered. Perhaps it has been elaborately posed as some kind of political message. Maybe it has been mysteriously drained of blood, or even partially eaten.
  7. A scandalous or inappropriate couple is walking together. They may be of different social classes, or wildly disparate ages. Perhaps a known anti-monarchist radical is escorting the wife or daughter of a prominent nobleman. Note: it is not uncommon in the Ghastly Age for women who are together in a “romantic friendship” to be very affectionate in public. On the other hand, male couples who are public at this time risk vicious legal prosecution.
  8. Someone is wearing either particularly outlandish clothes, or the absolute latest in Paris style. Of course, the outfit could actually be both!
  9. Someone is making inquiries about the location of a person who has not been seen for several days. Is the inquirer a friend of the missing person, a family member, or a government agent investigating rumors of secret societies plotting revolution?
  10. If a Player Character is female, she is approached by a lady who begins an apparently pleasant conversation about the weather. Simultaneously, however, she uses the Language of Fans to call the PC a classless slut, and warn her to stay away from the lady’s lover. If the PC is male, he is challenged to a duel for making inappropriate advances towards the man’s mistress. In either, the PC has never met the lady or gentleman, their lover, or their spouse.
  11. A stranger begins flirting with the Player Character. Their spouse or lover may be watching, and whether or not they disapprove is unclear.
  12. A valet hands you an invitation to attend a dance, dinner, concert, or salon, to be held in the home of a well-known but reclusive gentleman or lady. The invitation itself could be unusual – perhaps the event doesn’t begin until midnight, attendees are not permitted to wear certain colors, or must wear masks to an otherwise ordinary salon where there will be no dancing.
  13. A particularly talented (or talentless) musician (or group of musicians) is playing.
  14. Someone’s dog begins growling at a Player Character for no apparent reason. It may even attack, with comical results (in the case of a lady’s lapdog such as a pug or papillon), or potentially serious ones (if it’s a larger hunting dog).
  15. A man is bleeding from an obvious wound, but continues walking as if nothing has happened. The man may be well-known, or a mysterious foreigner. He refuses to acknowledge that he is hurt, but is weakening even as he speaks. Perhaps he doesn’t even remember who he is!
  16. A mutilated beggar has wandered onto the promenade, demanding money before they will go away. Perhaps the unfortunate wreath is a full-blown denatsate, with their nose, ears and lips having been deliberately removed to create a revolting skull-like visage. And why does the beggar speak with such proper diction, and under their scars resemble a missing member of High Society?
  17. Police (or a constable and watchmen) are attempting to close the promenade. They refuse to give a solid reason, and the many of the entitled promenaders are vociferously protesting. Then there’s an explosion from a vendor’s cart, and shots are fired!
  18. A beverage vendor is dispensing an unusual drink, and has attracted a crowd. The strange liquid makes imbibers feel euphoric and invigorated, but nobody can account for its odd color and bizarre flavor. Who is the mysterious vendor, whom nobody has seen before?
  19. An apparently drunken man is stumbling about, bumping into many promenaders. Perhaps he is a libertine member of the royal family, or another well-known person. Maybe in his lucid moments he indicates that he is not drunk at all, but under an spell of permanant Confusion inflicted by a rejected lover who is actually a powerful witch.
  20. A large branch (or the whole tree) falls, possibly injuring promenaders. Was it due to storm damage and natural rot, or was the tree deliberately cut? Is it Fairy mischief, due to the promenade having been built on a spot beloved by the Good People. Will the mischief continue and turn more deadly, until some way to placate the angry Fay can be discovered?