Quick note: you can use the Prince of Pants in any urban setting with a political bent with minimal tweaking, especially the excellent Blades in the Dark from Evil Hat. You say you don’t have a copy of blades? Why, that link will take you to a buy now link!
An implacable despot holds the Eversink fashion industry in his unshakable grip.
Every season, the Prince of Pants descends from his shining Spire to cast aspersion down on the new fashion trends. Flanked by lackeys, the Prince of Pants takes his seat in a place of prestige in the Glass Garden. With a wave of a hand and a toss of his flowing golden locks, he coerces Eversink’s designers to show off their newest designs. A sniff of a nostril or a raised eyebrow can end a brilliant career or start a new one. A finger here, a gesture there, he peers, he coughs, he chooses, and this season’s fashions are set.
Once Ventura Rotunno makes his choices, the fashion industry jumps to life. Mercanti ply the seas for in-fashion textiles. Weavers, glass blowers, fullers, furriers, jewelers, embroiderers, cordwainers, corsetiers, lapidaries, milliners, cobblers, perukiers – oh, even the perukiers! – leap into action. The rich must have the look of the season. Nothing less will do!
When supplies run tight, as they do every year, Eversink craftsmen get into ugly tussles while trying to dress their clients in the season’s best. Last year, a raucous fistfight broke out in the Grand Marketplace over a rare wooden button. People ended up in jail. Blood ran in the streets. Mayhem broke out. A cordwainer punched a peruskier into a fruit stall, causing a mango to sustain a bruise.
Connected tailors know to slip Ventura Rotunno’s lackeys “little gratuities in thanks” before the season begins. In return, these tailors receive a preview “of the Prince’s thinking.” They avoid the rough-and-tumble side of the Eversink fashion business. The gratuity is a combination of bribe, graft, and an extortion scheme rolled into one. Without it, the tailors cannot get their orders in on time. The Prince is rich for a good reason.
One the Prince of Pants launches the fashion season, the rich go to war on one another with their judgmental cutting-wit as their favorite weapon. They insist they all conform to the look of the season. To be out of fashion is a soft criminal act in Alderhall, as one cannot be seen on the Promenade out of style. To wear clothing unapproved by Ventura Rotunno is simply offensive.
The rich will cast fashion offenders out of their midst. Nobles rescind party invitations from under-dressed. Take that frock off. Last season’s dress will not do!
And oh, the rumor mill. Should anyone cross Ventura Rotunno or dare lift a finger against his reign of terror, the rumors will run free in Alderhall. His lackeys are everywhere, like horrible gossip moles, ready to dish on a whim. Terrible rumors fly about inbreeding or sex life or not actually being that rich. These insidious rumor bills have brought the mighty low. Be afraid — be very afraid!
Then, after the rich are finally well-dressed and the parties are over, Ventura Rotunno comes down from his Spire. He makes decisions about next season’s fashions. The whole circus begins again.
Some would say the Prince of Pants’ decisions has become more outlandish in the last few years. See-through shoes. Enormous glittering faux face spiders. Meat knee pants. Double meat knee pants. Taxidermied baby alligator handbags. But maybe he likes to be challenged.
As for the ordinary people, once the Prince of Pants makes fashion decisions, the city mystically updates all its sumptuary laws. No peasant may so much as show interest in this season’s fashion. If striped pants are in this season, peasants cannot wear striped pants. Penalties run from mockery to fines.
Peasants can wear last season’s fashions. That’s appropriate for the little people.
Ventura Rotunno was born rich in an Alderhall Spire. Scion of a Noble Eversink family, he will die rich in that same Spire. He was raised in Eversink, educated in Eversink, and now lives in Eversink.
Ventura Rotunno was always that rich bully, so it was natural to surround himself with lackeys. Upon graduating from school, he looked upon his life and realized he could either:
- Go to War (boring)
- Go into Trade (boring)
- Go into Politics (very boring)
- Live off his family fortune like a barnacle and blow a thousand years of prestige in the Eversink underground gambling halls (also boring) .
What sounded exciting was a lifetime of messing with other wealthy people. And, he could run graft and extortion schemes to keep his bank account full. A good study of character, Ventura Rotunno found what his people cared most about was peacocking. He could work with that.
Getting into fashion was easy. All Ventura Rotunno had to do was… show up. First, he attended salons, made comments, visited prominent tailors for tips, and appeared at fashion events. Ventura let his lackeys run rumors about his fashion and etiquette expertise. Soon, the rich invited Ventura to the best fashion events, where he let his cutting wit do its work. Before long, he was the expert on Eversink fashion.
Now, he’s an Alderhall Despot. Being a ruthless despot who can crush souls in his hand is, yes, entertaining.
Smugly Self-Satisfied, Cutting Wit, Terribly Rich
Defense – Health: Hit Threshold 3, Health 14
Defense – Morale: Morale Threshold 4, Grit 2 (self-satisfied sense of own self-importance), Morale 10 per Hero
Offense – Sway: +2; Damage Modifier +2 (cutting wit)
Abilities: Malus 20, can use Malus for Laws & Traditions
Special Abilities: Allies (cost 3), Flashback (cost 5), Mastermind, Persuasive (cost 3), Summoning (cost 3 – lackeys), Warded (cost 6)
Misc: Alertness Modifier if not 0, Stealth Modifier if not 0; any unique advice needed to run the creature
Refresh Tokens: 5
Description: Ventura Rotunno is a beautiful man and very rich. He’s of old money, and he likes to tell you so. Often. He never appears out of fashion, even when that fashion makes little sense. If Ventura has blessed fishbowls ensconced in hats as the fashion of the season, he’ll wear the biggest fishbowl with the tallest hat. He appears in public as often as he must to make cutting comments about another Noble’s clothes, as everyone’s clothes are all so last week.
His main power is his political pull in the city, which is unquestioned. He’s a mover and shaker of Eversink, and drives the fashion industry. He will use Laws & Traditions to make the fashion landscape into anything he desires.
Ventura Rotunno is not a fighter. He will rely exclusively on sway attacks. His favorite weapon is Eversink wealthy society. He’ll use his clout and cutting wit to drive PC morale down to 0. He’s also followed by a flock of gossipy henchmen at all times (allies) whom he can summon at will.
Rotunno’s Fashion Lackeys
Toadying, Gossipy, Conceited
Defense – Health: Health Threshold 3, Health 1
Defense – Morale: Morale Threshold 3, Grit 3 (cringing acquiescence), Morale 8
Offense – Warfare: -1; Fixed Damage 2 (confused about this ‘fighting’ thing)
Offense – Sway: +2; Damage Modifier +2 (fashion gossip)
Abilities: Malus 8. Malus may be spent on skill spends.
Special Abilities: Booster Morale (cost varies), Invigorate (cost varies)
Refresh Tokens: 1
Description: Rotunno’s sniveling wanna-be famous toadies. All the toadies are second or third sons of various Ancient Nobility families. Their favorite hobbies are passing damaging and horrible gossip while peacocking in this season’s best fashions. Much like Ventura Rotunno, they attack with sway, and they use their power of gossip to attack PC morale. They collapse when punched and the PCs can easily defeat them with a stiff breeze.
Villainous Plot Seeds
- These are Not the Pants of the Season! The PCs have been caught not wearing the fashion of the season. This is a scandal. This is THE scandal. The PC’s Alderhall contacts dried up, the salons shut their doors, and the party invitations disappeared like dried leaves on the wind. If the PCs want to get back into the Alderhall salons, they’ll have to go begging the Prince of Pants himself to absolve them of their sins. But will he do so? And what horrible price will the Prince of Pants demand to allow the PCs to make amends and be re-accepted into society?
- The Prince of Pants vs the Princess of Hats: This season, a challenge appears on the scene: the Princess of Hats! Catalina Barozzi, scion of the Barozzi family, wants to show Ventura Rotunno up at his own game. Now, two despots fight over the fate of Alderhall’s salons! Both have their own gangs of militant gossipers! Both are fighting over the right to define what is in or out this season. With connections to both Ventura and Catalina, the PCs are caught in the middle of this gossip-laden, fashion-critique brawl. The denizens of Alderhall demand to know; Who will the PCs support? Who will fall to this infighting? And can the PCs twist the situation to their advantage to free Alderhall of these two despots once and for all?
- The Great Tailor of Alderhall Extortion Plot: The PC’s favorite tailor tells the PCs the Prince of Pant’s lackies are extorting her. She’s paid them in the past to get the hot tips about the next fashion season, but they jacked their prices so high, she has to take out loans to keep the shop. If this persists, she’ll drown in debt, or lose her business. And if that happens, who will stitch the PCs up in her back room when they come in all bloody? Can the PCs help her out?
Disclaimer: These posts are unaffiliated with official canonical posts or printed materials about Sword of the Serpentine. “Swords of the Serpentine” is (TM) Pelgrane Press. For more information on Eversink, visit the Pelgrane website.