This is a sneak preview of the kingdom of Dremasque. We thought players would be interested in seeing cultures and kingdoms as we work on them. As with all Sneak Previews, details may change over time.
The nobles of Dremasque are a sight to behold. To say their clothing is theatrical is an understatement; the Dremas favor intricate, often flowing outfits with rich patterned fabrics that are anything but understated. The most common dress uses bold patterns and colors in designs that evoke perhaps Carnival more than High Court.
Some romantics from far-away lands imagine Dremasque to be a happy kingdom full of celebration that befits the outfits of its nobility. The truth is that the nobles of Dremasque struggle with Madness. Since the inception of the kingdom, the nobles have carried the divine and cursed blood of the dead god Xerelos; a lasting legacy and gift to the living before the Mad God faced his destruction and laughed.
To be a noble of Dremasque is to always search for and strive to maintain Lucidity. The mental task is constant. Nobles seem distracted because they are carrying on two conversations; one to understand meaning as common folk do, and another to listen for signs of Madness in themselves and, by habit, in those around them. This can make the nobles seem enigmatic and not a little bit intense as they scrutinize speech and body language for inconsistencies and illogical clues or signs.
Madness in the nobles of Dremasque is an unnatural curse. It manifests most often as intense, unwarranted raw emotion. Anger, Love, Sorrow, Guilt, Jealousy; the list of emotions is as varied as the nobles themselves. The noble is inundated with this unwanted emotion, and the natural reaction is to project this feeling in their state of Madness onto someone around them.
Succumbing to Madness and projecting this emotion onto another is called Personification. The noble taken by Madness will seek out another and unwillingly attach all that emotion to the unfortunate target. The target is always someone the noble recognizes and knows well; it is virtually unheard of for a noble to personify an individual that they do not know well enough to feel at least a passing emotion towards.
All nobles adopt a focus when they are young; some well-known and comfortable object they can handle and concentrate on to strengthen their Lucidity. Toys, figurines, marbles, gems, rings, and all manner of small, easily carried objects are used. Nobles generally carry their focus everywhere, its touch can help them center and maintain Lucidity.
The nobles of Dremasque fall into three groups. The Delirium Lords take the role of nobles as those of other kingdoms imagine them. They are kings and generals and courtiers. The Joy-Eaters tend to the Madness. When a noble shows signs of Madness, the Joy-Eaters will come and consume the Madness, cleansing the noble and infecting their own Dreams with those dark thoughts. While effective, this eventually fragments and destroys the personality of the Joy-Eater. The final group consists of nobles from the dreaded Black Masque. These assassins hunt both enemies of Dremasque and those nobles who prove too unreliable despite their pursuit of Lucidity.
The common folk are known as the Dust-folk. The wear gray and wear hoods in the presence of the nobles. The Dust-folk of Dremasque are not subject to the Madness; they lack the divine blood that curses the nobility. There are rare cases where Personification has caused a noble to lash out at them, so they have adopted dress and demeanor which allows them to hide their faces and step under the notice of nobles in the event that Madness should take them.
In the earliest days, before the extent of Xerelos’ Gift was known, the Black Masque was formed from common folk who had no noble blood. Their task was to hunt down, and if necessary, capture nobles who had succumbed to Madness. Only in extreme cases were the nobles killed. The nobles that were thought to be susceptible to Xerelos’ Gift were marked by the Black Masque; made to wear bright colors and a mask as a warning to others that they were cursed. The Joy-Eaters would be formed by those who sought to cure them, or at least relieve their Madness.
Other kingdoms were not as understanding. Those inflicted with the Gift of Xerelos were outlawed and hunted and killed. At first the Black Masque protected and hid the nobles, gathering them together in what would eventually be Dremasque. In time these nobles, with the help of the Joy-Eaters, developed the techniques and discipline to maintain Lucidity and fight the oncoming rush of Madness. They would not be hunted like dogs. The nobles trained for war. Dremasque was formed, and the Dremas made examples of the bounty hunters and assassins that sought them out. They embraced these colorful outfits and exaggerated them. Wearing their bright colors was no longer a mark of shame; instead it became a warning, and Dremasque learned that their mad nobles were a threat; both disturbing and threatening.
The Delirium Lords are the most numerous of the Dremasque nobles. They favor carnival-like clothing with vivid, brightly colored patterns, wrapping their true natures and emotions in a façade of pageantry. Although their clothes are rich and tend to be flowing, each has a pattern that acts almost as heraldry to them. They enjoy coats and cloaks and surcoats that other nobles might wear, but designed in harlequin fashion. A few Delirium Lords favor patterns of black and white, relying on contrast to warn others of their nature.
The Joy-Eaters stand in stark contrast with their colorful brethren. These lords and ladies dress almost entirely in white. Their outfits are rich and patterned as any noble outfit might be, but they are either entirely drained of color, or their outfits have the palest hint or tracing of subtle color to complement the stark snow-like visage. Even their masks or face-paint are white, though they do sometimes incorporate colorless yet sparkling gems into their outfits.
The Black Masque are the least numerous of the lords and ladies of Dremasque. Although the carry themselves as nobles, the Black Masque are in reality well trained assassins and slayers. The Black Masque dress in rich and patterned clothing that is entirely black, complete with jet black masks or paint to change the features of their faces. Even their patterned clothing is black on black.
The common folk wear gray and generally wear mantled hoods which they keep up to hide their faces from the nobles. It is said that some nobles have enjoyed the services of trusted and beloved servants for years without ever seeing their faces.
As a noble of Dremasque, you may never succumb to Madness. Nobles have generations worth of training to strengthen their resolve. Lucidity becomes more difficult to maintain, however, if some great and personal tragedy befalls a noble of Dremasque. When there is great and unexpected sorrow or rage, a noble of Dremasque has a harder time maintaining Lucidity. When this happens you have more freedom to dance at the edge of Madness, at least until others try to bring you back from that path.
Personification occurs with other individuals that you know well. Without familiarity, this process doesn’t take place. This means that traveling nobles don’t need to worry, if they succumb to Madness, that they will strike out at strangers. Because of this, nobles who become too close to specific people from other kingdoms will share that fact with a Joy-Eater so steps can be taken if the worst happens.
Noble do not generally fly into Madness with no warning; one or more of these signs precede the grip of Madness:
One sign is Phobia; the noble will show some unusual reservation or concern over something that seems trivial. Some nobles maintain a consistent set of phobia that manifest when they are closer to Madness, while some while have different phobias each time.
Another sign is Fascination; the noble will become irrationally fascinated or interested in some topic, effect, or being and will be distracted by thoughts of this fascination, and attracted to whatever fascinates them.
There is also the sign of Habit; the noble will develop some habit that might not normally be seen. This can be subtle; a facial expression that is used even when the situation doesn’t warrant it; a turn of phrase that is used or even overused in places that seem inappropriate or nonsensical, or the like.
Joy-Eaters seek out those who flirt with Madness, and those who have fallen into that deep pool too fully after some tragedy befalls them. Their goal is to talk down the noble; to help them concentrate on their focus and use whatever personal bonds they have formed to help the noble maintain or renew their own Lucidity.
If that process fails, Joy-Eaters are trained with the ability to consume Madness, drawing it into their dreams and cleansing a noble who has fallen. If a noble makes the roleplaying decision to succumb to Madness, a Joy-Eater can, at great cost to themselves, end that Madness.
If you are playing a Joy-Eater, the vast majority of the time you will use role play to help nobles regain Lucidity. If some tragedy has sent a noble too far into Madness, and your calming words are not working, you can attempt to consume their Madness directly. Once you realize that the Madness is so powerful that the noble is not responding to your efforts, and you have spent at least one minute of role play trying to bring the recipient back towards Lucidity, spend at least 10 additional seconds of focus, talking to the recipient to reach into their mind and their Madness. Meet their gaze and call out “By My Gaze, Imbue Lucidity” to consume the Madness. If the noble you are cleansing role plays the effect and becomes Lucid, then your effort worked but you pay a heavy price. The process of consuming the Madness will, after the event ends, permanently destroy one of your Character Points as your dreams and personality begin to fragment.
If this occurs, submit the process to plot and a brief description of the role play after the event ends. Destroyed character points do not reduce the character point maximum for your character; you can earn them back normally.
If a Joy-Eater consumes too much Madness, their personality will completely unravel. If this happens to you, then you would be asked to redesign your character’s personality and, to an extent, your skill set. You do not lose campaign knowledge, but the emotions involved in your relationships are destroyed, and your memories of friends and enemies becomes vague and dreamlike; lacking any real power over you. Your skills also change; your character points are freed and you re-spend your character points as you see fit to reflect this fracturing.
Some of the most powerful Joy-Eaters can, with great effort, empower those who travel with them to consume Madness for a time without fracturing their own psyche. Although uncommon and expensive to prepare, there have been instances where leaders or teachers among the Joy-Eaters have worked enchantments and empowered Joy-Eater to go forth and fix particularly dire situations.
~ Seek Lucidity always.
~ To be reveal yourself to someone, without the protection of a mask or paint, is rare and intimate.
~ Madness can come at any time. Remember this.
~ If Madness comes seek the White before the Black; the Joy-Eaters will pay the price to restore your Lucidity.
~ Hope the Black never turns its mask to you.
~ Look for Madness, but realize that folk from other kingdoms often carry in their conversations inconsistencies, undue emotion, and fallacies.
~ As a Nobles you already carry divine blood as a curse; do not seek the favor of gods that might be touched by your bloodline.
The Dust-folk follow a great many religions. Nobles do not follow religions at all; they are cursed by a divine bloodline already and see themselves as too tainted to be touched by divine beings or spirits. Nobles who become practitioners of divine magic must do so in secret; if their devotion is revealed the Black Masque will come for them.
All manner of Arcane magic is practiced by the folk of Dremasque. Two unusual types of magic are found in Dremasque, however. First some of the common folk and lesser nobles practice an unusual form of tinkering where they create geared toys and devices. Some of these are said to carry magic, though that is rare. Second, the folk of Dremasque have a fondness for porcelain dolls, and almost all alabaster Animus trace their origins to Dremasque.
The nature of the curse of Dremasque dissuades the kingdom from having large noble houses. There have been many houses that have splintered when Madness has caused nobles to split from the house and seek to establish their own house. As a result, there are many small houses in Dremasque, and no large houses.
Dremasque is ruled by an individual called the Harlequin King. The Harlequin King is currently from House Sorrowdance, and has ruled Dremasque for almost a decade. To understand the Harlequin King and his court, one must understand that the Gift of Xerelos is vastly intensified for any who hold this title. As such, there have been many Harlequin Kings and many Harlequin Queens.
The Harlequin King has a large court and is attended by a number of Joy-Eaters. The court also is well attended by the Black Masque, who watch not only the Harlequin King but also guard against Joy-Eaters who have dined too deeply on the King’s Madness. Courtiers from all the houses attend court to settle all manner of slights, oaths, and consequences from nobles who have succumbed to Madness.
There are many houses in attendance, and some of the more notable houses include House Shadowjest, House Felgrin, House Dreadbell, House Foolhardy, House Razorsmile, House Twist, House Venomdove, House Madmantle, House Vertigo, House Indigo, House Carousel, House Bloodpuppet, House Blackjack, and House Killjoke.
The Gift of Xerelos has not only taken root in humans; there are other races in Dremasque, and some houses are almost entirely Elven. House Blackjack, House Carousel and House Dreadbell are ruled by elves. House Bloodpuppet is ruled by Undying nobles and most of their number are some type of Undying.
The center of Dremasque is dominated by a vast swamp. Strange towers and fortresses rise from its depth, and it is here that the nobles of Dremasque first took refuge and hid from the world. There are many raised pathways and roads made from stone and wood that traverse the swamp and connect the various Houses that dwell in these places. All manner of creatures are said to wander this swamp. Although the lizardfolk of the area maintain a truce with Dremasque, those who wander from the protected roads are fair game for the lizardfolk.
The eastern border of Dremasque rises from the swamp and roads lead to the Webbed Way. This pass through the mountains leads to the Silken Way, and the nobles that enjoy trade can acquire that kingdom’s excellent silk to use in a variety of crafts; from clothing to tents. The western border of Dremasque fades into the Grimleaf, an ancient and dangerous forest.
The southern border of Dremasque rises into rolling hills and has been more recently settled now that Dremasque has the strength to guard against those who seek to kill their nobles. It contains a number of towns nestled in the high hills, and provides a number of good vineyards for making a strong indigo wine that is unique to Dremasque called the Embrace. The wine is prized not only for its taste and potency, but also because it sometimes contains magic.
The northern border of Dremasque fades into broken land and jagged hills that are the home of a number of Hobgoblin clans. Although there is no open warfare between Dremasque and these clan, sometimes the Hobgoblins do venture into the swamps to rob and raid travelers.
It is rumored that those who have become lost in the swamp and lived have seen hidden in its interior a vast tower of crystal, though no one has been able to substantiate this claim or enter this place. Who or what lives in such a place is a mystery.
The Harlequin King – he gave up his birth name, as is custom, when he ascended the throne, and as noted above has ruled Dremasque for almost a decade. He favors classic black and white patterns, and his Queen often dresses as his mirror. Proof that the Dremas are often warriors along with everything else, he chooses to lead his elite forces himself, and is a terror on the battlefield.
The Emerald Baroness – Principal Joy Eater to the Harlequin Court. Once a serious woman who was married to her job, over the years she has dined much on Madness and is now one of the court’s silliest gossips. In crisis, however, she has been known to revert to the woman she once was, and carries out her office quite effectively.
Friends of Marjorie – Two siblings, who are almost never seen without the other. One dresses in white and the other black, though those who have known them a long time swear that sometimes they switch. Ruthless hunters both, they are the ones called to find targets that no-one else can seem to find.
Impresario – An elf of House Indigo, Impresario prides themself on acquiring and cultivating the finest talents in Areune, bringing all to Dremasque to amuse the nobles of its court. A mage as well as a musician, Impresario is always travelling in hopes of finding their next great discovery.