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Forced to Opera by the Fae

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One of the great things about roleplaying games is that they offer us a chance to share amazing experiences with other people. As a GM, I am constantly pulling puns and story ideas from my childhood. Sometimes I try to disguise these ideas, but more often than not the source is so obvious that it becomes part of the joy.

Back when I was running my first real Dresden Files RPG Campaign, I decided that I wanted to do an opera scene like the one found in Final Fantasy 6 (my favorite electronic game to this day, though Chrono Trigger is an insanely close second). So I took the script from the opera, made some changes to fit the actual adventure, and waited for a chance to have fairies kidnap the party and force them into the play.

The results were one of my favorite gaming sessions I have ever run. The players sang and read their lines when they were onstage and plotted how to escape (and not die in the death scenes) when their characters were behind the curtains. I really wish we had been recording sessions back then.

While a lot of the session notes have been removed, the actual script for the opera and a few of the details are included in this first set of notes. Hopefully you can get a feel of how much fun it was to play.

-Joshua

As a player I found this game very entertaining. One of the best parts was having people pick a name at random before getting to see the script. I would suggest throwing this at your party so they can experience something different and fun.

-Taylor

SCENE 1
Impresario
The battle between the West and the East was growing more fierce day by day.
On the battleground during a furious skirmish, the soldier Draco of the Western castle Garou thinks of Maria, whom he has left in his homeland…

The curtain opens at a camp scene, where Draco and Tetra, along with a few other solders of the West, are gathered around a campfire.
Tetra
Thou seem troubled, my lord Draco. What power of our enemy brings thee such concern?
Draco
The West will fall, Tetra. Of this I have no doubts. It is the war its self that troubles me. Time that I spend here fighting Eastern barbarians to protecting those I love is time I cannot spend with them.
Tetra
Them, thee say? Oh ha and good. I recognize that face now. ‘Tis not a family thou miss, but a maiden!

Draco stands and stares at the audience, clearly daydreaming. A ghost of Maria appears, and Draco serenades her with his longing song.

Draco (sings)
Oh, Maria
Oh, Maria
Is my voice reaching to where thou are?
Tetra (sings)
Why can you not see?
What is right before thee?
Draco (sings)
Oh, Maria
Oh, Maria
Why must thou be so far?
Tetra
Save thine sweet memories for another time, general. The enemy is here. To arms!

The soldiers grab their weapons and shout as they run off stage right with Tetra. Draco follows in similar fashion. The curtain drops to the sounds of battle, particularly the screams of soldiers dying. After a few moments, a spotlight reveals the Impresario once again.

SCENE 2
Impresario
The war rages on with battles coming further and further into the territory of the West. Fearful for his life and status, a noble from the West meets secretly with Duke Ralse to discuss a way that the war might end for both of their benefits.

The curtain parts to reveal Duke Ralse sitting at a tavern table. A traitor to the West, disguised with the cloak he wears, comes from stage left and sits across from the prince.
Ralse
What took thee so long? I am not one to keep waiting.
Traitor
I told the princess that I was traveling to the front line. She wished to come with me. It took great effort to dissuade her.
Ralse
I wish thou hadst brought her. I could pleasure myself with her company much more easily than thine.
Traitor (sings)
Thine words betray thine heart.
So this is the price of peace that thee ask for?
Thee wish to wed the Princess?
Ralse (sings)
I will wed her if I must. I will have her, for I must.
Her skin is fair, and her bosom is ripe.
She is the best! I deserve no less! She shall weep and be mine!
Traitor
If thee wish to wed the princess, thee must first slay her love. I shall give thee the location of their camp if thee keep thine promise to reward me.

The Traitor reaches to hand the duke a map. The candle on the table flickers out, or if needs be is blown out by the cloaked figure, and the Impresario walks out into a spotlight as the curtains close once again.

SCENE 3
Impresario
The West was defeated, and Maria’s castle came under Eastern control. Maria, forced into marriage by the Eastern Duke Ralse, does not abandon her feelings for Draco, but thinks of her lover each night as she watches the skies…

The curtain rises to Maria’s bedroom. Maria sits in a wedding dress in front of the mirror with her back to the balcony. Elm is fitting Maria’s hair with pretty flowers.
Elm
Thou are as beautiful as a ripe pumpkin, my lady. Truly thou art. Any man wouldst be lucky to have thee.
Maria
Luck is a foul and cruel thing, Elm. It favors the wicked and abandons the rest of us.

Chancellor Cyan enters the room without knocking. Elm shoots him an angry glance.
Cyan
My lady, there are tears streaming down thine face.
Maria
It is thee that put them there, my wicked advisor. My heart is robbed of its love, and my life robbed of its meaning.
Cyan
Thine words wound me, my lady. I think only of our people. The duke is not a cruel man, and he truly loves thee. Is it not best for our people that thou join him in body and soul? Please come down and give thine people a reason to smile. They need thou most in light of the hard and trying times.

Chancellor Cyan leaves, and Maria rises from her seat. Elm begins to make the bed and pays no attention to anything else.
Maria
Why must my people be blessed with a chance to hope, when my chance has been stolen from me, Elm?
Elm
Thou art not robbed, my lady. No one can steal a love as true as thine hearts’! I swear to thee, thine beloved will come back from the grave to save thee from this terrible wedding.

Maria (sings)
My beloved, are thee going to a distant place?
And we just pledged eternal love…
Through sad times and hard times,
I’ll think of that shooting star as thee.
Do I have to exchange vows with one I do not love?
What shall I do? I’m waiting for thine words…

A ghostly figure resembling Draco appears on the balcony, and Maria walks out to him.
Draco
Come… Maria.
Dance a step with me…

The two of them dance together. Elm exits the room.
Maria (sings)
And I thank thee, my beloved,
For my feelings may have swayed,
But oh so gently, and so kindly, thee answered me
I’ll wait for thee forevermore…

Draco’s ghost laughs kindly as it fades from view. The curtain closes with Maria still staring off into the distance. The Chancellor then reenters the room.
Chancellor Cyan (sings)
Duke Ralse is searching
For his dance partner.
Please resign thyself to this.
We’ve become a dependency of the East, after all…

The curtain drops without Maria moving. A spotlight shines on stage left to reveal the Impresario standing there.

SCENE 4
Impresario
The loyal handmaiden Elm rushes to her room high atop the wall of the castle. For the sake of her mistress and her kingdom, she has made contact with the surviving soldiers of the West and plans to help them slay Duke Ralse.

The curtain rises to Elm’s room, where she is trying to secure one end of a long rope.
Elm (calls down out the window)
Be patient please, for I must make sure the rope is secure. Everyone else is at the dance.

Elm bunches up the rest of the rope and throws it out the window. The door opens just as she does this, and the Chancellor walks in without knocking.
Cyan
There thou art, Elm. Let me speak with thee. What are thou doing leaning out yon window?

Elm attempts to keep Cyan from looking out the window by leading him to her bed and doing whatever else she can to keep his attention focused on her. Tetra comes in through the window and crouches out of sight.
Elm
My lord is quite wicked, always coming to a woman’s chambers unannounced. One wouldst suspect that thine intentions are not so honorable.
Cyan
Do not think me wicked, young woman. I am noble in thought and deed. I simply wish to speak to thee about the Princess wedding the Duke. I hear that thou have been dissuading her with thoughts of her dead lover…what art thou doing?

Elm and Cyan sing to each other on the bed as Draco and Maria might. Though the falseness of their love is reflected in their words, neither shows this in their expressions.
Elm (sings)
I mean no offense
My handsome bald lord
I only observe with my hopeful heart
Feel it beating even now
Count the beats, if thou know how
Cyan (sings)
Ah young maid, such good taste
Thou thine breasts are so small
Elm (sings)
My lord is quite warm
His hands smell strongly of sweat

Soldiers begin sneaking in through the window, crouching down to hide when they see Cyan and Elm.
Cyan (sings)
Thine nose is quite crooked.
So it matches well thine face.
Elm (sings)
My face desires to kiss thine floppy lips.
Lean closer my lord so that I may.
Tetra (sings)
Must I endure such a sickly sight?
Better to draw one’s sword and fight!
Cyan (sings)
Thou playest baseball like a girl
My flesh desires to take firm hold of thee
And vigorously play Sentinels of the Multiverse with thee!
Elm (sings)
I wouldst play Tachyon better than thee.
If only thou were not so fat.
I do not believe I can find thine lap.
Cyan (sings)
Thine words are sweet
As I am sure thou will taste
A pity thou hast not persuaded the princess
Then I wouldst not have to kill thee
But Maria must give in to the duke
So thou must die before thou can say more!

Cyan strangles Elm until she dies. Then he drops her on the bed with a sigh of relief. He then climbs on top of her to bed her, but Tetra sneaks up behind him as the curtains close. Once they are hidden from sight a spotlight shines on the Impresario. Before he speaks, there is the sound of a stab followed by Cyan’s scream. The Impresario then speaks.

SCENE 5
Impresario
Unaware of what is happening, the inhabitants of the castle continue the wedding ball with dance and merriment.

The curtain rises on the ballroom with everyone dancing. Duke Ralse and Maria are in the center. The dance should continue for several minutes before Cyan arrives. Improve dancing is encouraged while rebel soldiers hide themselves in various locations.
Cyan (dying)
The Western survivors are attacking!

Tetra and the surviving soldiers leap out from various dramatic locations. The guests scream, and many of them attempt to flee as soldiers rush in.

Tetra
Attack!

A big fight ensues. Duke Ralse stabs Tetra from behind while dragging Maria around with his other hand. Tetra dies, ending the fight.
Ralse
That shall be the end of that. Now Maria, I shall make thine body mine, and thou shalt this night bear me an heir!

Draco suddenly appears and cuts him off with a flourish of his sword.
Draco
Wait! Maria!
Maria (sings)
Draco!
I have always believed in this day.
Ralse (sings)
Maria is meant to be my queen.
Draco (sings)
Though it may cost me my life,
I refuse to let her go.

Ralse (sings)
Then we duel!
The duel is dramatic and long. Draco is wounded first, but eventually he runs Ralse through. Draco then smiles at Maria and both men collapse to the floor. Maria rushes to Draco.
Maria (sings)
Will thou leave me?
Now my lover?
But at last we are side by side.
Maria and Draco (singing together)
We dreamed of this day
Must we end this way?
One last kiss and then we’re alone…
Ralse (sings)
Oh Maria!
Oh Maria!
Have thou no kiss for me?
Draco and Ralse (singing together)
Oh Maria!
Oh Maria!
I shall miss thee!
Maria
Draco, no. Please, my love, me a child that I may not live my life without thee in it.

Maria throws herself on top of Draco as the curtains close, most likely to dramatic applause. The Impresario comes out to tell the conclusion of the story. The first showing of this play ended with Draco dying before he could give Maria a child and so she killed herself. However it is the tradition of this play that each Impresario comes up with their own ending. Perhaps Maria bears a child. Perhaps Draco lives, or Ralse, or Cyan. Any ending is possible and encouraged, so long as the audience will appreciate it.

The Tragedy of Princess Maria
Scenes:
1)    Western Soldiers’ Camp – Where we learn the plot of the opera, such as it is.
2)    Dead Gnome Tavern – Where the bad guys plot and scheme.
3)    Maria’s Chambers – Where people cry but everyone is still alive, but the cast doesn’t know that.
4)    Elm’s Bedroom Window – Where bad things happen to side characters
5)    The Ballroom – Where the wedding dance is interrupted by everyone dying
Characters:
The cast wouldst be as follows:
Maria – Princess of the West and true love of Draco
Draco – General of the West and true love of Maria
Ralse – Duke of the East, in love/lust with Maria
Elm – Hand maid, bubbling with hope and encouragement
Cyan – Chancellor to the princess, trying to make the best of the occupation
Tetra – Soldier of the West, a close second to Draco
Impresario – Narrator that pops in to tell us what is going on between scenes.

~Joshua

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Author: Burn Everything Gaming

Website that mostly produces Actual Play Podcast as well as game reviews and other musings on the topic. Hope you enjoy.

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