Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Four Courts of Scarabae

Although the most obvious figure of political power in Scarabae is the Lord Mayor, it would be vastly unwise to discount the might of the Four Courts. Each of the Four Courts functions as an ur-guild, controlling and regulating a powerful facet of life in the city. 

The Court of Wands oversees the use of arcane magic, and the creation and sale of magical items. 

The Court of Cups holds sway over hearts and minds through their control of religious practice in Scarabae, and regulates hospitals both mundane and divinely-empowered. 

The Court of Coins holds all aspects of commerce--the minting of coinage, setting the norms of the services illicit such as assassination and prostitution, and trade agreement--in the palm of their well-greased hands. 

The Court of Swords provides what passes for law and order on the streets of the city, as well as command over the city's mercenary armies and naval forces.

The internal power structure of all of the Courts follows a similar structure: a Court's leadership is elected by its voting members to fill four positions at the top of a court's hierarchy. The positions, and their duties, include the King and Queen (who share final decisions and must agree before ratifying important legislation regarding Court business), Knight (who is charged with protecting the Court's interests and assets), and Page (who is entrusted with representing the Court to other Courts, city functionaries, and foreign powers).

My current vision of who fills those roles within each Court is to use well-known, or at least recognizable, characters from D&D's "canon" while twisting them into fresh faces based on this new context. Everyone old is new again! You can bet that my "version"of each of these characters is likely to give a purist apoplexy; in Scarabae, for example, Elminister's reputation for being goddess-favored, all powerful, and a total lady-killer is absolutely the end product of a massive propaganda campaign (that no one believes).

On to the Courts:

The Court of Wands
King of Wands - Mordenkainen, human wizard
Queen of Wands - Shandril Shessair, human sorcerer
Knight of Wands - Emrikol the Chaotic, human sorcerer
Page of Wands - Raistlin Majere, human warlock

The Court of Cups
King of Cups - Verminaard of Nidus, human cleric
Queen of Cups - Goldmoon, human cleric
Knight of Cups - Strongheart, human paladin
Page of Cups - Eclavdra, dark elf cleric

The Court of Coins
King of Coins - Harkon Lukas, wolfwere bard
Queen of Coins - Lidda, halfling rogue
Knight of Coins - Zarak, half-orc rogue
Page of Coins - Annah-of-the-Shadows, tiefling rogue

The Court of Swords
King of Swords - Jarlaxle Baenre, dark elf fighter/rogue
Queen of Swords - Kitiara Uth Matar, human fighter
Knight of Swords - Morgan Ironwolf, human fighter
Page of Swords - Peralay, high elf fighter/mage

Some interesting ideas arise from the names chosen for the above lists and how I imagine they relate to each other: 

The leadership of the Court of Wands is a very mixed group of magic-users...perhaps this degree of variance in approach carries over into internal Court politics and their is a lot of intrigue and infighting in the Court of Wands. Also, note that every member of the upper hierarchy is human! Is there some sort of human-centric bias at work within the Court that spills out into their policies as well?

The thing that strikes me about the Court of Cups is that its two pivotal members, Verminaard and Goldmoon, are absolutely opposed in religious belief and personal ideology. To me, this says that the Court of Cups is locked in stasis due to the inability of these two high-ranking members to come to compromises on policy.

The Court of Coins is the only Court to feature a list not dominated by humans. I want to think more about why this Court is more of coalition of differences than the others. The answer might be obvious: profit doesn't care about race.

Interestingly, the Court of Swords has a preponderance of broken, mercenary-minded people at its head. Does that change the nature of the kind of wars the Court is willing to fight or even in the ways it chooses to deploy military force? 

Also note that the more "rural" classes (barbarian, druid, monk, ranger) are effectively shut out of power currently. That probably says something about the urban nature of Scarabae.

(Shout outs to everybody on G+ who helped me populate the Courts: Clint Egger, Jurgen Mayer, Paul Vermeren, Scott Martin, Jeremy Murphy, Craig Hatler, Brian Mathers, Matthew B., Trey Causey, Daniel Davis, Path, Eric Diaz, Gustavo Iglesias, Tim Other, Chris P., Ahimsa Kerp, Dennis Laffey.)