The play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the [Sorcerer] king.
How have you used the acting troupe from Salt View in your campaign?
I must admit, at first blush I found the idea of an acting troupe somewhat incongruous in Dark Sun (the art didn’t help).
The more I’ve played around with the idea, though, the more it seems like it has some potential.
First, to get away from the trope of Elizabethan Drama I started thinking about other forms of theater. I like the idea of some sort of “Noh Blood Opera”.
Second, if most of the troupe is made up of Bards, that gives a whole other more sinister aspect to this acting troupe - could they be played as a Dark Sun version of a ninja clan?
(also, refer to this excellent post on Athasian Bards: http://arena.athas.org/t/so-athasian-bards/1916)
I like that idea. I will have to make some research as well. I will in a near future be the next GM in my rpg group and DS is my setting sooooo, any good idea is a potentiel plot.
Each of the city states in my campaign have something to an acting troupe. These mostly act out historical plays or those for entertainment. Nobles host them for parties. Many of the troupe’s don’t travel (it’s very dangerous), so each city state ends up with only so many stories to tell.
Enter the wandering acting troupe, including Salt View’s. They travel from city to city, even village to village to bring you stories you had never heard or seen before. Some of them are fairly current, others are ancient.
The wandering troupes tend to be a bit rougher around the edges having to survive the wastes, but they bring stories that are unique. City based troupes often try to capture the essence of the story the wanderers tell, but there’s always something special and exotic about the wandering troupes.
There’s also a small and very specialized market for exotic slaves with acting potential in the various city states to try to capture some of that specialness that the wandering troupes have.
We could easily find a link with the Athasian bard and the Draqomen. The first still being an entertainer (with a poisoning edge) and the second being a know it all about the city he lives in (peoples, places, stories,…).
I like the idea of the acting troupe being a band of thieves and murderers for hire, causing entertainment for the masses and mayhem for their marks everywhere they go.
I literally just put a three person troupe in my game last night. Are you guys reading my mind or something? They were acting out Uncle Tontor’s story while the PCs were information gathering the whereabouts of a half tarek thug.
Though I also like the idea of them doing the predominance of thieving while under contract, I could also see them doing some ‘free lance’ thieving if , for instance, a Noble didn’t tip them generously enough or for a public performance the audience didn’t show their appreciation with voluntary patronage.
I’m thinking their plays may be highly ritualized and (borrowing from Noh) follow a five act structure:
Five parts of a Zohr-Ther Play:
- Stone or Steel act - story of a Green age site or artifact
- Blood act - death of a famous warrior
- Water act - originally refined music and dance - later more salacious dancing
- Chaos act - madness - discordant music, ecstatic dance
- Fire act - portraying monsters, demons
Elaborate masks and body paint make common appearance as do acrobatics and choreographed and stylized duels or battles. Music and singing by either the actors or a chorus along with colored smoke and perhaps even psychotropic fumes wafting over the audience.
Greek Drama meets Wagnerian Opera meets Cirque du Soleil?
I’m thinking Salt View should also have an annual Burning Man meets Midsommar sort of festival.
Please tell us more about Uncle Tontor’s story.
From Dragon Kings Hardbound, Legends of Athas Pgs 5-6
Uncle Tontor: A Wyrm’s Tale
Elf merchants around the Lost Oasis believe (or claim to believe) that no one has ever seen young or
small silk wyrms. No one, they say, has ever seen them breed or reproduce, despite repeated (usually
fatal) attempts. The mystery has prompted many tales. One concerns Old Uncle Tontor, a mythical
old human known for nosiness about other people’s affairs. As the elves tell it, Tontor grew curious to
learn how silk wyrms reproduce. None too bright, he tried to disguise himself as one, dyeing his skin
green and wearing limp cloth wings. Then he crept out to a fearsome deep cavern where wyrms
Uncle Tontor entered the cavern, trying as far as possible to look and sound like a wyrm. His bumbling attempts attracted the attention of King Snakewing (in village folklore, monarch of the wyrms). Ordinarily the wyrms would have killed the old man on the spot. But King Snakewing had recently fed well on a hundred humans and was feeling tolerant. He ordered his minions to carry the old man away into the sky.
Despite the human’s whining protests, a hundred silken snakes lifted Uncle Tontor and carried him to the moon Guthay. There Uncle Tontor saw that the moon was really a colossal egg, from which all the silk wyrms hatched, fully-grown.
Then the wyrms deposited Uncle Tontor unceremoniously on the underside of Athas. (Elven folklore once held that Athas is flat.) He had to swing hand-over-hand to the edge of the world, crawl up over the side, and walk all the way home; this journey lasted a whole king’s age, 77 years. When Tontor arrived back in the village, even older and more irascible than before, his descendants did not recognize him. Always nosy, Uncle Tontor asked them, What happened to your renowned ancestor, the
They replied, What, that old coot? Our grandparents said he went mad and thought he’d turned into a snake. He slithered into the hills, and nobody ever saw him again.