This is an intriguing outline for a scenario in a fantasy world, based around of all things the fashion industry, and designed to empower espionage-based adventures using the Encryptopedia sourcebook from the same author (if you don't have that, some of the terminology may be a bit baffling). Both Encryptopedia and this work are systemless, but it ought not to be too difficult to adapt it to your chosen ruleset.
It begins by setting the scene: a brief outline of a default city (it's easy to substitute one in your own campaign world, of course) and details of a major event in the social calendar, the Dyers' Ball. The Ball is preceeded by the presentation by the dyers of the new season's colours, which are released to select designers and then go on sale to the general public - with the Ball being the first opportunity for the great and the good to show off in their colourful new clothes. Furthermore, the Ball is an opportunity for young unmarried nobles to make their debut into society and begin looking for a good match. Traders, organised crime, government representatives from surrounding nations, religious leaders, and the arcane community also attend the Ball, networking and setting up deals... so as you can see there is ample opportunity for spies as well.
Four separate stories are there to be told, people with particular motivations and a reason to be there, but the primary story is that of the Ball itself. To start with, getting a ticket is an art in itself. Or maybe the characters will try to get hired on as staff, or attend as part of someone's entourage. Dinner is served, a very formal event where even a noble's etiquette is put to the test, and is followed by the Promenade, a formal procession of the young people, and dancing. The next day is a whirl of visits between those who feel that romance might be on the cards... and of course there are many social events in the season that follows.
Plenty of detail is given so that the Ball can be used as a backdrop for the stories provided or indeed some of your own. The four stories are then gone into in considerable depth - pick one or even have them all going on, irrespective of whether the characters are involved. Or, if you have a long-running campaign based in a city, run a different one each time the 'season' comes around... have the party wondering what's going to happen at the Dyers' Ball this year!
For each story, there is an extensive background giving names and the situation, and then there are several stages through which the plot will move - getting into the Ball, perhaps, meeting the right people, doing whatever needs to be done - all depending on that particular story. Notes on results, foils, and potential further adventures are also provided... some could develop into a campaign on their own! Finally, there are notes on important groups in town who may have some part to play in events.
Whilst this is all 'story' with minimal mechanics (as, of course, you'll be running your game system of choice), it flows extremely well - it's likely your biggest problem will be deciding which plot to run! If your group likes city-based intrigue adventures, this is well worth looking into, then spending the time to embed it into your campaign world and add relevant mechanics from your chosen ruleset. It's different from your regular fantasy scenario, yet has the potential to make memorable adventures for your group.
Return to Live and Let Dye page.
Reviewed: 1 October 2015