The Tiegel Theater is a large and impressive building located in the middle of Theaterplatz, a well-kept square in Verenenstadt
, near to the main academic institutions. The outside of the building is an impressive sight - a three storey half-timbered construction with a dressed local stone ground floor. The second and third storeys are timbered and rise to a tiled roof. A flagpole rises from the tower, and is visible across the city. It will be flying the colours of the city when a performance is in progress. There are stone buttresses supporting the walls of the building and two or three small windows look out from each wall. Above the main doorway is a small statue of Gustav von Tiegel, the founder of the Theater.
The inside of the Theater is open to the sky, with the large central area having sufficient capacity to hold 200 'groundlings' or standing audience. Each floor has a gallery, which goes around the whole circumference of the interior, broken only by the stage itself. Directly above the entrance is the Baroness's Box - the seats which are reserved for members of the Council and their guests, should they attend any performance.
Each gallery can hold a large number of spectators, and the total seated capacity is 400, although it is very rare that any play will be popular enough to fill the Theater. They contain a three-quarter circle of three tiered wooden seating, painted with fading theatrical motifs. The top floor (or the 'Gods') is popular with the rowdier element that cannot afford the middle or ground gallery, but does not wish to stand. The actors often describe the catcalls and heckling which originate here as 'the wrath of the Gods'.
The stage protrudes out into the central yard and is surmounted by a roof supported on two pillars in the High Imperial style (an architectural movement which flourished during the reign of Magnus the Pious). The underside of the roof is painted with the constellations of the night sky. The Frons Scenae is a work of art, carved with beautiful reliefs and motifs, rising up to the area above the stage, where there is a gallery for use by the actors or musicians, as dictated by the play being performed.
At the back of the stage is a curtained 'discovery area', which is used to represent a grotto, an alchemist's workshop, a lover's hiding places or whatever the play requires. The curtain can also be drawn back to display pre-painted scenery, which is sometimes used - although the Tiegel is not as suited to this recent innovation as some of the more modern theatres of the Western Empire.
Behind the stage and in the rooms at the rear of the tower are the dressing rooms and storage areas of the theatre. During a performance they will be a flurry of frenzied activity, with actors changing costumes, as stagehands shift scenery and props to and fro. A player will certainly be in the way, and will inevitable end up with a heavy stage weight landing on his or her foot, whilst being berated by the stage manager.
Bergsburg has never been a centre of the Arts, owing to its relatively remote location and religious basis. Up to around 250 years ago, the only drama that could be seen in the city was restricted to religious pageants, performed mainly on temporary stages by amateur actors. Many of these plays were tales of Shallyan martyrs and dull-but-worthy tales from the history of Sigmar. Whilst these plays were a popular recreation, and still are amongst rural folk, they are non-too sophisticated. Added to the fact that the stories are hackneyed and the audience is over-familiar with such old favourites as 'The Passion of St. Isabelle' and 'Die Rückkehr von Sigmar'. Throughout the Dark Ages many plays had apocolyptic religious themes - far more orientated towards terrifying the people into pious subservience than entertaining them.
Around 250 years ago, the first professional troupes of actors came to Bergsburg. They performed accomplished plays, often secular, which emphasised writing and performance over crowd-pleasing familiarity or dull theology. That said, clowning and excitement still had their place in the performances of these troupes, and the people of Bergsburg flocked to see these professional actors entertain. Nobles and lowly traders alike became enamoured with drama, and Bergsburg became a regular destination on the journeys of travelling companies, owing to the fact that the crowd were known to be easily pleased and generous. The plays would be performed in inn yards, which were crowded and crushed.
One minor noble who was particularly taken with drama was Gustav von Tiegel. Gustav was the only son of an ailing dynasty, whose bloodline was sullied by inbreeding. Gustav himself was a pale and timid individual who spent much of his time on the family's crumbling estate, dreaming and fantasising about life as an adventurer - a career which he was not at all suited. His parents were decrepit and distant individuals, who barely left their dusty beds, and the running of the estate was left to Gustav, who did not relish the mundane 'pleasures' of book-keeping and stewardship. He would often disappear to Bergsburg for extended periods, where he would spend some time with old friends. Although he was 34 when his parents finally passed away (on the same day), he was still a romantic boy at heart.
Whenever Gustav was in the city, he would go to see the performances of the travelling players. He would see himself on the stage, imagining himself as a conquering hero or romantic lead. Far too shy to actually think of performing, he would stand in the inn yards with the rest of the audience, letting himself get carried away by the drama.
When the elder von Tiegels died, Gustav was free to sell the estate and move permanently to the city - there were no other relatives to berate him for abandoning his heritage. He sold the land to local farmers, and the decrepit family home to a wealthy merchant from Talabheim. It is well that he did so, as the Incursions of Chaos occurred a scant two years later. The old von Tiegel estate was razed by marauding warbands, and Gustav was in the relative safety of the city. This is neither the time nor the place to detail the Incursions of Chaos and their impact on Bergsburg, but suffice to say Gustav survived the perils of those tumultuous times.
When Magnus re-united the Empire and drove back the Chaos hordes, the people of Bergsburg rejoiced and celebrated for days. The optimism that coursed through the veins of many an Imperial inspired many works of art and literature. Many wealthy citizens were driven to commemorate the dawning of the new age with magnificent edifices and memorials. Gustav von Tiegel's romantic character was swept along with the national mood, and he wished to leave some kind of legacy to the people of the city that had saved his life.
Prior to the Incursions, Gustav would have liked to use his money to travel, but he had a tendency to sicken when deprived of a warm bed and good food. But even prolonged city life was not kind to Gustav's delicate constitution, and after living there for two months, he sicknesses got worse. Being a shy character, he did not contact the Temple of Shallya, and his condition worsened. Since the end of the war with Chaos, the travelling players had returned to Bergsburg and were more popular than ever. Gustav spent all his time attending theatrical performances and lying in his bed trying to think of a fitting way to spend the family money. The few servants who remained with him at his house in the city urged him to stay away from the press and heat of the inn yards, but Gustav was reticent that he would enjoy the only real pleasure that he had ever had.
An idea began to germinate in Gustav's mind. He began to think that he could spend his legacy to support his beloved art, and give something back to the city. He decided to build a theatre to house the travelling companies and enrich the cultural life of the city. He conceived of a building to rival the theatres of the larger cities and the Western Empire. Gustav summoned architects and masons to his bed, from where he dictated to them how the Theater was to be built. Aware that he was only a few years away from death, Gustav channelled his energies into the realisation of his dream - the Tiegel Theater. The City Council was supportive of his schemes, and he purchased the land on which he was to build with no major difficulty.
The construction of the Theater was not without event. During the laying of the foundations, the excavations revealed the remains of an underground temple were found, which dated back far into antiquity. It was not possible to identify to which god the site had been dedicated and Gustav was keen to get the Theater finished, so construction continued. Three months later a young builder fell to his death while installing the beams for the second storey. This lead to some of the more superstitious builders resigning, and for a short time the construction was retarded. Eventually, Gustav increased the wages of the builders and employed a number of Dwarven Engineers to ensure that the building was sound. Consequently, many labourers returned to the job and the Theater began to take shape once again.
After two years, in 2316, the Theater was completed. A magnificent round building, it dwarfed it's surroundings in the city, and became a talking point for all and sundry. Gustav was pleased, but it became increasingly obvious that his desire to build the Theater had been all that was keeping him alive. His health deteriorated rapidly, and there was concern amongst his servants that he would pass away before the opening night of the Theater. It is said that it was they who secured the invitation for Kaspar Bohme, the head priest at the Temple of Morr in those days.
A touring company, the Golden Griffon Players were secured to perform at the opening night. They were to perform 'The Triumph of Roland', a work commissioned by Gustav especially for this occasion. The members of the Council were invited along with many of the city's notable figures. Guildmasters, nobles and even priests were hoping for an invitation. The night was a great success - 'The Triumph of Roland' was spectacular, and the guests talked of the evening for years to come. The Golden Griffon Players never equalled their performance on the opening night at the Tiegel, and traded on lacklustre imitations of the play's debut until they were involuntarily dissolved by the actions of a troll in the Grey Mountains three years later.
Once the guests had departed, Gustav waited in the Theater until it all the actors had departed to celebrate their triumph. Looking frailer than ever, he stumbled unsteadily onto the stage under the watchful eye of his servants. As he stood in the moonslight, he lifted Roland's prop sword and smiled to himself. He remained like this for a minute or two before he collapsed to the boards, coughing up blood. The servants rushed to help him, but he was dead, finally at peace.
Gustav had died leaving no heir, and the Tiegel family was no more. Their sole legacy was the Tiegel Theater. The remains of the family fortune went to the retainers who had stayed with Gustav and into the running of the Theater. However, other than Gustav the new Theater had no patron and no owner, but it was not long before this changed. Impressed by the opening night, wealthy citizens were keen to be attached to this fashionable enterprise. The Baron of the day stepped in as the main patron, and to this day the Barony has supported the Theater financially with an annual stipend for it's upkeep, as well as more recently the patronage of the resident company. Other patrons have varied throughout the years, but 70 years ago the von Bruning family purchased a majority stake in the Theater, and it is Dieter von Bruning who essentially runs it today.
In the early years of the Tiegel, there was a regular flow of touring companies who would perform the latest plays from the West. Bergsburg became a regular destination on the touring itinerary of any group of actors who went as far east as Talabheim. It was inevitable that before long the citizens themselves would form a permanent acting troupe, and in 2457, the Baron's Men became the resident company, under the patronage of the Baron himself. They are currently referred to as the Baroness's Men, of course. Touring companies still appear at the Theater on occasion, and many celebrated dramatists have staged plays here with their own troupe of choice. However the vast majority of performances are those of the Baroness's Men, and they are popular figures and celebrities throughout the city.
Since its construction almost 200 years ago, the Tiegel has been kept in good condition, but there it is undeniably the case that it is an old-fashioned theatre. The playhouses of the Western Empire are larger and usually have roofs. The magnificent theatres of Nuln and Altdorf make the Tiegel look positively antique. The people of Bergburg are far less concerned with appearances than the folk of those two celebrated, cultured cities, but Dieter von Bruning and the Baroness have discussed the possibility of constructing a new, modern theatre, complete with roof, full seating and a larger stage.
The Theater Today
Three parties - Dieter von Bruning, Henri d'Albuisse and the Baroness's Men, own the Tiegel Theater. Dieter manages the running of the Theater, both the building and the administration. Henri d'Albuisse is a silent partner, rarely seen in attendance, although he will always be present at the first night of any performance - the man is a recluse, and is fully detailed in a separate submission. The entire resident company jointly owns the third stake. When a play makes a profit, which is a reasonably uncommon occurrence, some of the money goes into the running of the theatre itself, and the remainder is shared between the three parties.
Donations and patronage from prominent citizens also fund the Theater. The most significant patron is the Baroness herself, and her donations are important in the continued running of the Theater. They are made annually and amount to an undisclosed sum. Many Electors will support some artistic enterprises within their realm, as it has important to seem cultured to the ones peers. The Baroness also sponsors the resident company, supplying them with funding on a play by play basis.
Other than the Baroness, the patrons of the Theater are mainly wealthy traders and minor nobles. Donations can vary from a one-off sum supplied to the Theater to the commissioning of a performance or new play from the resident company. Providing the commission is not too controversial, the Baroness's Men will accept financial support during the inception and performance of a new play. Hans Blausinger, the playwright-in-residence and effective leader of the Baroness's Men, inevitably pens these commissioned works.
Within the city, attitudes towards the Theater and actors in general vary greatly, although the vast majority sees it as a valuable and popular asset to Bergsburg. Academics and nobles are generally the keenest supporters of drama, recognising it as a true artform worthy of their refined taste. Similarly those citizens who aspire to rise through the strata of society see theatre as an interest to be cultivated, and a visit to the Tiegel is an opportunity to meet the city's upper echelons. However, some elements are notably less positive, such as the religious and civic authorities. The former are sometimes unhappy about the content of the performances at the Tiegel and von Bruning ensures that the Baroness's Men perform a number of old-fashioned religious plays each year, particularly those which promote the tenets of Shallya. The Town Hall has certain misgivings about the number of people that attend the Theater - agitators and malcontents could easily turn a rowdy audience into a mob. This is compounded by the fact that acting is not a recognised profession - and the old image of them as rogues and vagabonds persists to a degree, but this is improving amongst the relatively liberal populace of Bergsburg.
In recent years, a small but vocal minority of civic leaders and senior Watchmen has begun to raise questions about the Theater, and its 'threat to order and the well-being of this peaceful city.' They re-iterate the fact that acting is not a recognised profession and point to the more rabble-rousing plays as a concern. If they were able to pinpoint the use of magic in performance by Elizabeth Siewieder, they may gain more support.
The Tiegel is not at the cutting edge of dramatic presentation, and the cost of attendance reflects this. Admittance to a play is fairly cheap and may be increased for a first night (up to double) or decreased for religious and/or moral plays. A standing ticket costs 20 shillings, a seat in the galleries will vary from between 1 GC to 10 GCs dependent on position. Members of the public are not permitted to sit in the Baronial Box unless accompanied by a member of the Council or in possession of a letter from the castle itself. Tickets can be purchased from the stage door in the week preceding a performance.
The audiences at the Theater can be described as a true melting pot of the city's populace - the appeal of the Theater is not restricted to the educated and moneyed classes. The groundlings are traditionally members of the city's lower classes, who appreciate a good story as much as a noble or a scholar. All performances contain an element of ribald comedy, and the illiterate can usually ignore any learned references made by the actors. Some of the roguish element or small successful traders will sit in the Gods, where they are far enough away from the stage to be able to shout comments and heckle, and Blausinger is famous for his witty retorts. The middle and upper classes tend to sit on the first gallery, as close to the Baroness's Box as possible, where they will clap politely and restrainedly, retaining dignity and resenting the coarser members of the audience throughout. A first night is always very popular, and many of the city's prominent citizens will be in attendance, frequently including one or two members of the Council. Bernhardt von Wilden, for example, is always in attendance on the first night of any new play, usually surrounded by easily impressed young fops.
The yard is where the 'groundlings' stand during a performance. It is paved with stone flags, and is otherwise featureless. During a performance the floor is strewn with straw. Occasionally, before the yard is swept clean after a performance, street urchins will run through the detritus left by the audience to find pennies and trinkets which may have been dropped.
The double doors are painted bright blue and feature a scroll held open by two cherubs. Upon the scroll is inscribed the Classical motto: "Sed Etaim Nunc Levidensus Histrionalis", which roughly translates as "We are but poor players". Inside the entrance are the doors to the east and west galleries. The walls are plain plaster-covered stone.
- West Gallery and Staircase (Ground)
The seating is wooden and has three tiers. Theatre-goers sometimes bring thier own cushions. The staircase to the west gallery is located in a tower on the side of the Theater.
- East Gallery and Staircase (Ground)
A mirror image of the west gallery and staircase, the seating here is popular with the city's poorer tradesmen. The spiral staircase by the entrance leads up to the Baronial Box. There will be a 'heavy' squeezed uncomfortably into the Tussen-Hochen livery standing at the foot of the stairs during a performance.
The stage is made from hard oak boards. There is a trapdoor that opens down into the understage area and is sometimes used for dramatic entrances or exits. The two pillars which support the roof of the stage are in plain High Imperial Style, and are 4 ft in diameter. Smaller wooden beams support the balcony. The back of the stage has fine carvings of classical figures, and beautiful relief work - von Tiegel employed a Tilean sculptor of some renown to decorate the Frons Scenae.
At the rear of the stage, curtains conceal the discovery place and the wings. These are usually thick blue velvet, but can be changed to suit the performance. They are opened with ropes from backstage.
- Discovery Place
A small room that is used for various purposes during performance, including grottos, laboratories and forest clearings. It can also be used for a very dramatic piece of special effects, and Elizabeth has made great use of her illusionary magic in the discovery place. The curtain conceals the room in order for it to be unveiled during the play.
Behind the stage is a chaotic mess of ropes, props and scenery. During a performance there will also be bits of scenery, swearing actors and general mayhem. This is Mattieu von Bruning's domain, and it is his task to ensure that everything runs smoothly and remains calm. This is a herculean task, for which Mattieu is not particularly well equipped, and standing backstage during a performance has been described as akin to walking into the Incursions of Chaos naked.
- Dressing Rooms
These are small hot rooms with large mirrors and plenty of light. The tables will be covered in tubes and pots of panstick and greasepaint, while the floor is littered with rags and discarded costumes. Stefan usually uses room 8 along with Hans (when he is performing), while Kirsten has room 9 to herself. The other two rooms are shared between the rest of the company, with little attention paid to the sex of the actors, as many of them have slept together at some time anyway.
Above the stage is the balcony. This is used during performances for various different purposes. Usually the musicians will be positioned here, but the balcony can also be incorporated into a play, such as the famous balcony duel between Cornelius and Roskanov in 'The Bear of Erengrad'.
This area is set aside for the storage of scenery and props from previous performances. At any one time there can be found a selection of bizarre items of all sizes, such as a mummy's sarcophagus, a stuffed bear, a selection of model trees of various heights and Manaan's Chariot complete with a full team of giant seahorses.
This area is the stomping ground of Elsa Taschentuch, and visitors who interfere with anything will receive a rap across the knuckles. Vast swathes of material, skeins of wool and spools of thread dominate one end of the room in a riot of colour. There is a workbench where Elsa sews and cuts out patterns, and she will be sat here with a mouthful of pins if present. The other half of the room is storage for costumes, and the racks are hung with garments from many historical periods and nations. The walls are hung with masks, hats and helmets, which can turn an actor into anything from a vicious feral orc to a inscrutable Cathayan sage. There are also some sets of armour and weapons, but these are useless for combat, as the chainmail is made from wool and the swords are painted wood.
- Lighting and Effects
This is where Elizabeth Siewieder stores the materials for her special effects and lighting arrangements. Boxes of fireworks and flash powder lie on benches, along with smoke bombs and fuse wire. There are also a number of tinderboxes and a wide selection of lanterns, in various states of repair lining the shelves. There is a desk with some plans of the stage on it. A bucket of sand sits in the corner. Elizabeth also uses this room to practice illusions; she has cleared a space against the wall for this purpose. One of the drawers in her desk is magically locked and contains spell ingredients for all her spells and a scroll inscribed with the 'Assume Mighty Appearance'.
- Baronial Box
The Baronial Box is well appointed and comfortable, with the best view of the stage in the house. There are 10 comfortable seats with velvet cushions and gold braid. The front of the box is decorated with the city's arms, which are visible from the yard and galleries. When Council members are present there will be two Watch veterans in the box with them, and at all times there will be two or three attendants to furnish guests with food and drink as they require.
- West Gallery and Staircase (First)
The first floor galleries afford the best view outside the Baronial Box and are in better conditions than the ground floor and third floor galleries. The west gallery is popular with the academics of the city.
- East Gallery and Staircase (First)
This is a mirror image of the first-floor west gallery, and tends to be favoured by the merchants who can afford seating.
- Cannon Room
This room contains the cannon for announcing the beginning of a play, along with the charges required to fire it. It is a fairly new piece of ordnance, and is kept in a safe, reliable condition by employees of Dieter von Bruning, who is petrified that it will misfire and set the Theater alight, burning it to the ground. The cannon has been adapted so that it cannot be used to fire harmful charges, a fact which is well publicised by von Bruning to prevent it being stolen. Against the far wall there is a spare flagpole and the flag - it is raised from here via a rope and a hole in the ceiling through which the rain can come.
This is Hans Blausinger's 'roost' - a place where he can escape the hurly burly of the Theater to write in private. The room contains a desk, a small library of books (mainly historical or literature) and a selection of play scripts. Much of Hans' writing is done at his home, but he stores copies here so that he can work on them when he feels his muse coming on. There is little of value here, except to a collector of manuscripts. In the corner is a tiny shrine to Verena, to which Hans occasionally prays.
- Empty Room
This room in the tower is left deliberately empty - there is no furniture and the players footsteps echo around the room as they walk across the boards. This room is occasionally used for rehearsing when the actors need privacy, such as when they are practising an emotional soliloquy or love scene. One corner of the room is littered with a few stacks of old playbills.
- Upper Gallery ('The Gods')
The second floor gallery runs continuously around the perimeter of the building, broken only by the tower. The seating here is in slightly poor condition, as these are the worst seats in the house, popular with the rowdy element.
Underneath the stage is a large room with a floor level 4 ft below the ground. There are five large stone pillars that hold up the stage and tower. The trapdoor opens onto the stage from here, and a ladder down from the backstage area allows entry unseen by the audience. In the back corner there are some older pieces of large scenery, which are mouldering slightly with the damp. Most notable is a old wooden dragon's head, which could give an unsuspecting visitor quite a fright.
Ten minutes before a performance begins in the Theater a trumpet is blown and the doors open. Audience members who are sitting in the gallery must purchase thier tickets in advance, but the groundlings will be charged as they enter the yard. Tickets for the galleries are checked at the stairs up to the relevant seating. A flag is raised from the top of the stage to show that a performance is on, this flag is bears the arms of Bergsburg, and is visible from any raised area in the city. Finally, moments before the players take the stage, the cannon above the balcony fires a harmless charge, and the play begins.
Many performances at the Tiegel have a number of common elements. The nature of the stage means that complex scenery is not a practical option, and so the majority of plays will feature a few items onstage, such as a chest, bench or tree. Occasionally, there will be flats by the wings with a painted background, but this is rarely worth the bother, and is distinctly underwhelming. The discovery area will usually be more elaborately dressed, with larger props and furniture in place.
The lack of scenery is made up for by the evocative and creative use of lighting and special effects, under the supervision of Elizabeth Siewieder. Flash powder, smoke bombs and fireworks are all employed to mimic anything from a misty morning to a battlefield. In addition to this, Elizabeth makes use of small-scale illusions that enhance the effects of more mundane stagecraft. These illusions are always subtle, however, as an ostentatious display of magic could unsettle the more superstitious and censorious elements in the crowd.
Also of a very high standard are the costumes, as created by Elsa Taschentuch. She is an expert at designing and making elaborate and expensive-looking costumes for seemingly no budget. Many occasions have arisen where she has had nothing better to work with than a few rags, and has created outfits for which rich ladies would pay hundreds of gold crowns.
The behaviour of the crowd during a performance will vary. A ribald comedy will be 'enhanced' with a great deal of heckling, whereas a worthy religious performance will be watched in pious silence, broken only occasionally by the odd yawn. During a first night, when some of the cities worthies are in attendance the atmosphere will be expectant and exciting, and the audience are likely to hang on every word that the actors speak. A first night performance will be accompanied by the audience gasping and crying in amazement and sorrow, and this greatly enhances the whole experience.
Most plays have at least one interval. This is a 10 minute break during which the actors leave the stage and food sellers are permitted to enter the Theater and hawk their wares. This is an opportunity for crowd members to argue about the play or meet other theatregoers. Long plays will have two or more intervals.
After the performance the actors will return to the stage and bow to the applause of the crowd. A first night or a particularly good performance will receive numerous 'curtain calls' and gifts of flowers for the actors. A poor performance or difficult audience may result in less welcome presents. Disastrous shows are very rare and those that do occur are usually put on by visiting troupes. The Baron's Men are too well-liked to receive a pelting with rotten fruit.
After the show the crowd will disperse, usually in an orderly manner, aided by the presence of numerous members of the Watch. The actors will then usually proceed to the Dancing Landlord where they can drink themselves under the table. Admirers and grateful audience members are expected to provide the lubrication.
This is neither the time nor the place to go into the vast canon of dramatic literature in the Old World. In the present days, the plays of Tarradasch and Sierck are the most popular as a direct consequence of their irrefutable genius. Hans is aware of the value of their work, although he feels that Sierck is overrated and arrogant having met him in Nuln during his touring days.
The actual play on the bill will vary according to the whims of Dieter von Bruning and the company, and the GM is encouraged to select what is on when the PCs arrive in Bergsburg either from this list, or from the plays listed in the novel, Drachenfels. A clever GM can always give his players clues, plot pointers or a history lesson by describing a carefully selected play in detail. The following list details 28 plays that could be seen at the Tiegel (or any other theatre for that matter):
- The Trickster's Tales
This is a comic play, penned several hundred years ago by an anonymous author writing as 'Herr Frech'. He or she is believed to have been a jester in one of the Empires courts. It dramatises various tales of the adventures of Ranald, who is re-named Reynard in the text to avoid censorship in places where worship of the Trickster is proscribed. Reynard travels the lands of the Old World tricking the pompous and foolish in various amusing ways. When 'The Trickster's Tale' is performed in Bergsburg, Hans will cut the scene where Reynard tricks a Shallyan Priestess into giving him a healing potion. This scene, which is a reference to how Ranald became immortal, could not be performed in Bergsburg without causing great offence.
Anyone standing in the yard when 'The Trickster's Tales' stands a 20% chance of having their pockets picked. This is only fair.
- The Flight of the Dove
A religious morality play, 'The Flight of the Dove' is dedicated to Shallya, and is often performed during her festivals. It tells the tale of a group of Shallyan devouts who are fleeing persecution in a war-torn land. The dramatic denouement arrives when the Head Priestess Ursula saves the life of her tormentors and turns them to the good. Unsubtle though this may be, the play is very powerful, and Kirsten's Ursula is reckoned to be her strongest performance.
This play will be attended by many pilgrims, and there is a good chance of at least one of the high ranking Shallyan Priests being in attendance, sitting in the Baronial Box.
- The Philosopher's Stone
A play written by Malkus Pflaubert in his spare time, 'The Philosopher's Stone' is an impenetrable affair consisting mainly of bizarre allegory and concealed reference to the practices of alchemy. The main protagonist is 'The Man of All Men' seemingly an important figure in alchemical texts. The plot is complex and involves his quest to become all-knowing through a sequence of transformations and revelations.
The play has been performed by the Baron's Men, as a favour to Pflaubert for his services, and because he funded the endeavour. None of the actors have the faintest idea what the play is actually about, but Malkus seemed to be very enthusiastic and they didn't want to hurt his feelings. The audience will be similarly baffled, unless they are Alchemists of at least Level 2, when a successful Int test will reveal the themes and relevance of the play.
- The Educated Gnome of Averheim
This play is by turns tragic and comic. It centres on the exploits of a crippled Gnome called Turmvegus, who wants more than anything to be human. Set in Averheim, the play focuses on Turmvegus' plot to become the lover of Countess Ilsa (a thinly veiled Countess Emmanuelle of Nuln in modern productions) and acquire gold through dishonest means. His pathetic and clumsy attempts to court the Countess are a favourite with the coarser audiences. However, this play is nothing short of racist, and there will be no Dwarfs or Gnomes in attendance. The play is performed much more frequently than Dieter or Hans would like, but it is always commissioned by a wealthy merchant who loves it so much that he will pay very handsomely to see it again. Hans wants to drop the play, while Dieter advises that they continue to put it on to 'subsidise their more artistic endeavours'.
- The Estalian Tragedy
A romantic tragedy from the pen of Peter of Nuln, this play tells the tale of the troubled and despotic Prince Asperro. Beseiged by well-meaning advisors he is driven to madness by his paranoia and kills his mother, thinking her to be conspiring against him in the interests of his younger brother. The consequences are grave as Asperro fails to expose a plot and realises his error. He cannot live with his grief and the play ends with him taking his own life in the Temple of Myrmidia. A particularly gloomy play, it is one of the few opportunities for the full acting genius of Stefan Glaublich to be witnessed, as his Asperro is close to perfect.
- The Eloquent Plenipotentiary
A comedy of manners, this elegant play was written recently by a young playwright from Altdorf called Oskar Zahm. The humour is largely dialogue-based, with the characters hurling witty epithets at each other in supposedly polite society. The story is based around an Imperial Plenipotentiary, who has been despatched to a remote and rural part of the Empire to conduct Imperial business with a crude and ignorant local Baron. The son of the Baron is in love with the Plenipotentiary's daughter. This play is intelligent and genuinely amusing, but it is slightly wasted on the less refined audiences of Bergsburg, who still prefer physical comedy to expertly-crafted wordplay.
- Sigmar and Kargan
There are many historical plays devoted to the life of Sigmar, and this one explores the relationship between Sigmar and his Dwarven ally. Opening on the young Sigmar in the forest, we witness his rescue of the younger Kargan and his subsequently receiving the gift of Ghal-Maraz. The play documents Sigmar's rise to prominence and the death of his father, while simulataneously portraying the events in Kargan's court. The climax of the play is the Battle of Blackfire Pass with the alliance between Sigmar and Kargan as the focus. This is a magnificent set-piece in which many extras are employed to play the goblin hordes. Elizabeth Siewieder has excelled herself in previous productions at creating an impressive battle scene, using smoke to conceal the fact that she has summoned an illusionary army.
This is a well-known and popular play, and will frequently attract a full house. Unlike many religious plays, the themes of friendship and valour override the dull moralising. The audience will sometimes include Rudolf Geissmann, who approves wholeheartedly of the production as it promotes the worship of Sigmar not through fear, but through admiration of the deeds and leadership of the great man. The city's Dwarf population are not normally keen theatre-goers, but they will make an exception for this play. In fact, out of respect for the Dwarfs, Hans avoids using one of the Baron's Men to play Kargan, instead casting a young Dwarf recommended by the Engineer's Guild.
- Gilles Le Breton - A History
As with Sigmar and Kargan, Gilles Le Breton is an account of the life and achievements of the man who united Bretonnia and became the first King. It details his life from his childhood in the small town of Gisoreux to the triumph over the goblinoids to forge a new nation. Productions of this play in the Empire are not usually particularly reverential. Gilles is frequently portrayed as a stereotypical flashy cowardly Bretonnian who won over the goblins more by luck than tactical prowess. The characters become caricatures of the pampered Bretonnian aristocracy, and Imperial performances often make unsubtle jibes at their decadence and hypocritical piety and false chivalry. The costumes are based around the knightly attire which many Bretonnian lords still adopt, but combined for comic effect with the powdered wigs and ostentatious garb of the urban aristocracy.
At the Tiegel Theater, however, the satirical content will be toned down, due to the influence of Henri d'Albuisse. The Baron's Men will perform a version of Gilles Le Breton that is more true to the historical accounts that survive. Consequently, it is less popular than the satirical version.
- A Tale of Mondstille
This is a romance which tells the tale of two sets of would-be lovers. The two men conspire to impersonate each other to test whether they can persuade the other's love to marry. This leads to confusion, and the two friends fall out with each other, which ends in a duel. Meanwhile the women are attempting to deceive the men into believing that they are not interested in the men, and both have fictional wealthy lovers in Altdorf. The interfering families of all four parties further confuse matters.
Although slightly insipid, this play is very popular, and will be attended by numerous romantic young girls. This in turn will attract large numbers of young men.
- The Triumph of Roland
Every year this play is performed at the anniversary of the opening of the Theater. It tells the history of the founding of Bergsburg through the exploits of Roland von Hochen and his triumph at the Falls. He is (inevitably) portrayed as a champion of the people of Hochland: a noble and valiant figure who would sacrifice himself for their freedom. His flight from the bandits who attacked Bergsdorf is translated as a tactical withdrawal, and before the bandits overtake him at the waterfall he delivers a long (and rather turgid) speech on the desperate situation he has people find themselves in. In recent years, Stefan Glaublich has taken the role of Roland, and he has become adept at crying noble tears during Roland's famous lament.
The fight that follows the bandits shooting of Roland is a thrilling piece of theatre. Although everyone knows the outcome, the crowd sit on the edges of their seats as the actor playing Roland takes on numerous bandits. The remainder of the play is devoted to the founding of the city and the Council. Roland's importance is probably exaggerated, but it should be remembered that this play is propaganda of a sort, and is intended to inspire citizens to remain loyal to their ruling family.
Next year, for the 200th anniversary of the Theater 'The Triumph of Roland' will play alongside Hans Blausinger's new play on the founding of the Theater.
- The Curious Courtesan
Based around the arrival of a mysterious and alluring woman in the fictional court of Attyria, this play is a popular favourite. The people of the city will flock to the Theater whenever this play is performed. The court of Attyria is beset with problems - the neighbouring kingdom of Semuria is on the verge of invading, and the old King has just died leaving his inexperienced son in control of the land. Into this turmoil arrives Yvonne - the mysterious woman who sets about wooing the young King. She offers him advice in the running of the country, which the besotted young man accepts unconditionally. Many of the courtiers question his wisdom and plot to depose him, but when the Semurians invade, the advice of Yvonne is revealed to be correct. The Semurians are defeated and the young King rejoices, marrying Yvonne.
Although popular, this play is fairly unchallenging, and few academics will be in attendance at such a 'confection'.
- The Innkeeper's Daughter
As the title suggests, this play is a ribald comedy. The setting is a lively inn, where the landlord Gruber ("Oh what would my poor dead Lotti say if she were here?") is constantly trying to deter the many amorous suitors of his beautiful young daughter, Marie. He wants her to marry the local respectable road warden, while she would rather live life to the full before settling down to wed. Much hilarity ensues, along with comic songs (including the famous 'A Wayward Girl') and a number of mildly titillating scenes.
The role of Marie will be taken by her namesake Marie Dursthal, who is perfectly happy to show the audience a bit of leg and cleavage. Suffice to say, this play is exceedingly popular with all and sundry. There will even be a number of the city's stuffier element, who like to go along to see 'how low the Theater has sunk.', and purse their lips.
- A Tragical Case of Vengeance
The setting for this play is Tilea, during a non-historical 'classical' age. The land is torn apart by war between three powerful families. While the two sons of the Liburnus clan are out hunting, the younger is slain by the head of the Gellina family, and his older brother Augustus vows revenge. The play follows Augustus' quest for revenge and recounts his descent into obsession and loss of humanity as it consumes his soul.
A rather depressing play, this deals with some complex aspects of human nature. The fact that the play takes a rather dim view of revenge and it's effects on the mind has made it popular with Shallyans, and very unpopular with the city's small Solkanite population.
- The Metamorphosis of Paracello
One of Hans Blausinger's own works, this play deals with the transformation of the central character, both figuratively and physically. Paracello is a senior figure in the court of an unnamed Elector, who begins the play as a self-serving sycophant, eager to please his betters and condescending and cruel to those he considers below him. Paracello beats a gypsy, who curses him, and he begins to change slowly into a reptilian monster, exposing his personality in his grotesque form. Through the ordeal, Paracello learns to respect those who had reviled, as he himself becomes loathed by all and sundry. The ending is ambiguous, with Paracello returned to his former self, supposedly redeemed betraying some traits of his former personality.
Written when he was a student, Hans is proud of this play (with some misgivings - see 'The Betrayal of Beauty'), and most discerning theatre-goers will recognise it's very high degree of artistic worth. The character of Paracello was written for Stefan Glaublich, and he will invariably take the role - if he is unavailable for any reason the play will not be performed.
- Mother Hanna
Devoted to Shallya, Mother Hanna tells the tale of a priestess who lived in Kemperbad during the Age of Three Emperors. Famous for her piety and defence of the poor and needy, she is credited with saving the Empire from an appalling plague, when she isolated the town from outsiders, tending to the sick and ensuring that it could not spread further afield. She herself was stricken down with the disease, and was the last to die from it before the population was cured by the efforts of her follower. Mother Hanna's sacrifice is an inspiration to may of Shallya's more romantically-minded priests, and although she is not a saint, there is a large and influential movement within the church to have her beatified.
This play will be performed by request of certain Shallyan priests, who remain anonymous. For some reason Dieter von Bruning always ensures that this request is fulfilled, despite the financial loss which inevitably results.
- Would That It Were
A light-hearted entertainment, this play focuses on the activities of two rival groups of fops, The Scarlet League and the Brotherhood of Erudition. The two groups compete for the attention of the young women of Nuln until a mysterious benefactor offers a substantial prize for the group that can best the other in a test of wits. The play continues with the two groups playing a sequence practical jokes on each other while ribbing the individuals involved with clever jibes. The benefactor (Robinus) finally decrees that neither group is the winner, and that the only victor in a contest of wits is the observer.
Whilst this play is fairly intelligent, it is rather old-fashioned and popular primarily with the older, educated citizens of Bergsburg.
- The Sultan's Lament
This tragic play was adapted from an Arabian tale translated by Hans while at university. The Sultan of the title loses his harem when his palace is attacked by a nomadic tribe lead by the dashing Sirocco. He sinks into a deep despair, which lasts for a year and a day. At the end of this period, a young man (Al Khazim) appears at the Sultan's court promising to find the villainous Sirocco and return his harem. The Sultan eagerly accepts the young man's three conditions: that the Sultan builds him a palace 'ten times the height of the tallest palm', gives him half-a-hundred camels and allows him to pick one woman from his harem as his own.
Al Khazim undergoes many trials and adventures to find Sirocco, who he defeats. During the return to the Sultan, Al Khazim falls in love with the most beautiful woman in the harem (Salima), and upon his return requests that she is given to him. Salima is also the favourite of the Sultan, but he fulfils his promise and gives Al Khazim all that he asked for, but vows that he shall have her back one day.
Once again the Sultan is plunged into a depression, which turns his heart sour. He pays an assassin to kill Al Khazim and return his beloved. Salima is in love with Al Khazim, and dives in front of the assassin's sword to protect him as he sleeps. She receives a fatal wound, and dies in Al Khazim's arms. The assassin returns to the Sultan and tells him of the tragedy before killing himself. The Sultan realises that his own selfishness has taken away the life of that which he loved most. He donates his fabulous wealth to his god and becomes a pauper. Al Khazim is left wandering the desert in grief.
Whilst not the cheeriest story in the world, the exotic settings and epic drama of The Sultan's Lament makes it an affecting and popular play. For the last performance, Elizabeth covered the whole stage with sand.
- To Wed A Mule
Set in rustic Bretonnia, this play explores the confusion that results when a wealthy farmer declares that his son must marry within a year, or risk losing his inheritance. The son embarks on trying to woo the local girls in a variety of ways, but fails to make any headway due to the fact that they all see him as a lovable rogue, and not the marrying type. As the year comes to a close, he realises that there is no hope of him finding a woman and makes plans to wed his mule.
This play features lots of cross-dressing, and rolling in the hay. Little more than a bawdy romp, 'To Wed A Mule' is popular with the less-sophisticated citizens of Bergsburg, lacking the broad appeal of the similar 'Innkeeper's Daughter'. It should be noted that there are a number of jokes at the expense of 'simple' followers of the Old Faith. Most city dwellers just find them amusing, but a visiting druid might see it another way.
- The Bear of Erengrad
There are very few plays that originate in Kislev - life is too hard for the majority of the natives to waste time writing plays. 'The Bear of Erengrad' is an exception, being the only work penned by Ivan Aleksandrovich, a native of Erengrad who lived in the 25th century. It is a favourite of Hans Blausinger, and despite the fact that it is not popular with the people of Bergsburg, he manages to put it on at least once every two years. Those citizens who do like it have a tendency to be obsessed by the play, attending as many performances as they can, and criticising the slightest deviation from the text.
The play details the struggle of Lord Cornelius, a fictional ruler of the port city, who is plagued by a melancholy temperament, and a tendency towards manic depression. Cornelius adores his daughter Natascha, but his tendency to dark moods and outbursts of anger alienate all those who are close to him. Into this unhappy situation arrives the young and eloquent Roskanov. Immediately becoming popular with Cornelius' family and court, Roskanov falls in love with Natascha and asks Cornelius for her hand in marriage. Taking against the boy, Cornelius forbids it, locks his daughter away and banishes Roskanov from the city.
Cornelius begins to see phantoms and demons haunt his dreams, as he becomes tormented by his unhappiness. He begins to act more and more tyrannical, culminating in his murder of a servant who disobeys him. When Roskanov returns to rescue Natascha, Cornelius attacks him. Roskanov bests Cornelius in a duel, but spares his life, only for Cornelius to fall on his sword.
Actors are a superstitious lot, but 'The Bear of Erengrad' is a particularly notorious play for eliciting camp, superstitious behaviour. They forbid the lead from speaking the lines of Cornelius during the play, as it supposed to bring ill-fortune to the cast. Similarly, mentioning the title of the play will cause any actor to make a religious sign or clutch at an amulet as a protection against bad luck.
- The Knight Eternal
Another historical play, this is based on the ancient origins of the Knight Eternal of Middenheim, the city's champion and warrior of Ulric. The opening scene where the Sybil appears before the Graf and warns of the dire consequences if the city does not find the Knight Eternal is famous for its immediate impact, and audiences will be gripped from there on in. The play shows Siegfried's defeat of Zakash in the forest, and his return to the city to become the Knight Eternal. Upon donning the magical white armour granted to him by Ulric, Siegfried delivers the famous 'Knight's Soliloquoy', a moving paean to the warrior's life, which ends with the famous line, "And though I will die in defence of Ulric's city, my spirit shall live on, yea, in the fine vessel of each champion's frame. For I, Siegfried am the Knight Eternal indeed."
The last performance of this play was during a visit by the Graf of Middenheim to the city, when the Baroness requested that it was performed for his enjoyment. The Graf was too polite to tell her that it was the fifth time he had seen it performed that year, as many Electors had extended the same courtesy.
- The Betrayal of Beauty
This play is controversial, as it deals with mutation and the insidious effects of Chaos upon the soul and body. It has only been performed once at the Tiegel Theater, and is only ever put on in the most liberal cities, where the censorious citizens are a minority.
Arabella is a beautiful woman adored by many suitors. She is a manipulative and evil woman, who delights in treating the men who love her in as cruel a manner as possible. Her life is a decadent whirl of glamour, hedonism and spite, as she spins from one masked ball to the next. There are hints that she follows the Chaos God of Pleasure, but necessarily they are veiled. As the play progresses, she finds that her eyes are beginning to change - we are not sure at first whether she is imagining it, but they begin to resemble those of a shark. She can conceal the changes at first, but eventually shuns public life, remaining at home and keeping all but her servants at bay. Eventually, she degenerates into a wretched ruin: divorced of her shallow life she has no purpose.
The play ends with Arabella taking a vial of poison, her cold, dead eyes staring at her still-beautiful face in the mirror.
It is as well that this play is seldom performed, as it bears a resemblance to Hans' 'The Metamorphosis of Paracello'. This is something which Hans has only realised recently, but which he is eager to conceal. Unfortunately, the play has just been commissioned by an anonymous figure, who has made a very large donation to the Theater. Hans is trying to ascertain how he can alter the staging to hide his plagiarism and to avoid unwanted attention from the Town Hall regarding the content of the play.
- That Which Can Be
Hans wrote this play as an idealistic travelling player, touring the Empire and performing in the courts of the Electors. At this stage in his life, Hans believed that theatre could change the world. His intention was to show influential figures an ideal world, with the result that they would be influenced to change things for the better.
'That Which Can Be' is a utopian fantasy set in a fictional 'Holy Empire'. The main characters are assembled in a courtly setting, where they discuss the various nations in relation to their own 'perfect' state. The characters are incredulous at the way in which other nations conduct their affairs, and the audience is carefully coerced into agreeing with them. The criticism of the real Empire is never made explicit, but the more intelligent viewer will pick up on it.
This play is not a favourite of the people of Bergsburg. It is a little too dry and intellectual, and as such it is only to the taste of secular academics. The ideas presented are challenging and well reasoned, if a little unadventurous - Hans' utopia is a sort of religious socialism complete with a constitutional aristocracy.
- The Noble Pygmy
A satire on modern life, the playwright uses the model of the noble savage to poke fun at the conventions of Old World existence. Mabutu is a pygmy brought back from Lustria and adopted by a merchant called Koenig. The play concerns itself with the attempts of the Koenig family and various priests to 'civilise' Mabutu. These are doomed to failure, as once Mabutu learns to speak Old Worlder and read, he is revealed to be highly intelligent and perceptive. The clash of his 'primitive' beliefs with those of the Old World reveal the strange basis of many commonly accepted values and practices.
This play is well observed and very funny. Mabutu is played by the halfling actor Rowan Polberry in blackface.
- The Troublesome Reign of Boris The Incompetent
A historical play. The action takes place in court of Boris, and the cast consist of prominent Electors and religious figures of the time. The play details Boris' disastrous reign and the courtly intrigues which surrounded him, as the noble houses vied to gain as much as possible from the disintegrating Empire. Boris is portrayed as a fat and arrogant fool, whose greed for gold was exploited by a manipulative and uncooperative aristocracy. The Grand Theogonist is a sympathetic character, and is usually portrayed by Hans Blausinger himself. The Bretonnian Ambassador, the Duc de Honnaux, functions as comic relief.
This play may be a historical account of a troubled Empire, but it touches upon many issues that are still controversial today. Hans is careful to avoid scandal, and each performance may be slightly rewritten to take into account who is in attendance, particularly with regard to the character of Ar Ulric.
- The Gentleman of Leisure
Otto Guildenkrantz is an intelligent and personable young man with no enemies, so it comes as a great surprise to many when he is found murdered in his chambers at the University of Nuln. The cause of his death was a poison dart fired into his neck through an open window - there are no suspects. Into these perplexing circumstances steps Mannfred von Rosenstein, a gentleman of leisure with an interest in the techniques of the criminal. Thanks to his brilliance and observational skill, he succeeds in tracking down the murderer (a jealous academic rival) where others have failed.
This play is a basic detective story, and with a little work can be made into an entertaining diversion for theatre-going PCs, giving them an opportunity to guess the murderer before von Rosenstein triumphantly reveals his identity.
- Herr Kupferkopf
Another play written by Hans, 'Herr Kupferkopf' is a comedy about the hapless tinker of the title. Kupferkopf cannot hold down any employment, because of his accident-prone clumsiness, and he drifts from one disastrous job to the next. After a series of amusing set pieces, Herr Kupferkopf finds employment with a gang of ne'er-do-wells who let him join the gang as a scapegoat. The gang are planning to steal some jewellery from a wealthy Count, and take Herr Kupferkopf along to incriminate him. Rather predictably, Herr Kupferkopf foils their plan, more by accident than design, and the Count rewards him handsomely with a position as his steward.
Distinctly unsophisticated, this play is unusual in that it appeals greatly to children, and many of the audience will bring along their whole family. Hans is not particularly proud of this play, but he is glad that it brings in such healthy audiences. He tries to convince himself that the play has some subtle, deep message, but has yet to succeed.
- The Thief of Quenelles
This play is based on the exploits of the dashing cat burglar 'Le Renard', notorious amongst the wealthy citizens of Quenelles for stealing the finest jewellery and charming beautiful women, often at the same time. His identity is unknown to all, but many of the corrupt gentry assume that he is a member of the aristocracy. They are wrong: Le Renard is a poor rat catcher, who each night dons a mask to steal from the decadent rich of the city to give help to the starving poor.
Both followers of Ranald and Shallya favour this play. The Bretonnian system is viewed by many Shallyans as unforgivably corrupt, whilst Le Renard is an obvious hero of followers of Ranald, both by his snubbing of authority and his ingenious thievery.
- The Running of the Wolf
This play is devoted to Ulric, and as such is a rare thing - the God of Wolves
and Winter does not usually lend himself to pageantry. It is set in an
unspecified mythical era well before the founding of the Empire, when the Gods
walked amongst men and the world was cold. The epic tale centres on the trials
of a warrior called Hengar, who is despatched by Ulric to slay three giant
brothers. Hengar treks across the frozen earth, encountering many perils and
defeating many foes. He encounters various characters from Old World myths and
legends, including an encounter with the dragon Kegox. Manaan and Taal
both appear to help Hengar at various points in the play, and their entrance is
always a grand moment in theatre - Manaan appearing with his host of marine
servants in his chariot is some of Elizabeth's best work.
The story is an allegory of the life of the good Ulrican, recounting his or her
need to face threats directly and courageously. It also tells of the difficulty
of being a 'lone wolf' - the (rather long) epilogue features Ulric telling his
followers to trust in each others comradeship in arms: 'As my wolves run in
packs, so must you'. The play does not deal with subtlety - all interplay
between the characters is exaggerated and emotions are writ large across the
stage. Actors will usually perform their parts as caricatures, which fits the
play well, as each of the characters is little more than an archetype. Hengar,
for example represents the classic Ulrican warrior, courageous and accomplished
with little in the way of forethought. His brother Jorvis is the archetypal
leader, and so on.
The play obviously appeals both to Ulricans with it's simplistic mythological
setting and epic structure. It is also popular amongst young boys, who will
often nag their fathers to take them to see it. Scholars of history and
theology will be familiar with the legends from which the play is taken, and may
attend with the Clerics of Ulric, who are not regular attendees of the Theater.
Dieter von Bruning
"But Hans, you must change the scene with Rosamund! What if the Town Hall hear about it? Hans? Hans!!"
Theater Owner and Manager
Hair: Light Brown (thinning)
Skills: Blather, Charm, Consume Alcohol, Etiquette, Evaluate, Gamble, Haggle, Heraldry, Law, Luck, Magick Sense, Numismatics, Public Speaking, Read & Write, Ride, Secret Language - Classical, Secret Language - Guilder, Specialist Weapon - Fencing Sword, Super Numerate, Wit.
Description: Dieter has the vaguest remnants of a noble appearance, which has been worn away by years of worry. His face has a look of permanent nervousness, as if the next moment could bring terrible news. His clothes are excellent and expensive, and would not look out of place in Altdorf.
Personality: While capable of being incredibly charming (especially to the Baroness and other potential patrons), Dieter tends towards paranoia and the neurotic. Years of dealing with unreliable actors and running the Theater have put him into a mode of permanent pessimistic concern. Dieter is very worried about rocking the boat, and Hans' cavalier attitude only exacerbates this. Otherwise, Dieter is incredibly organised, capable of running the Theater with minimum support from Henri D'Albuisse and Hans Blausinger. On the other hand, he is something of a philistine, and can only pretend to recognise great works of art from populist entertainment. He is also totally uncreative.
Background: Dieter von Bruning is a native of Bergsburg, born into a minor noble family. After an unremarkable education, he launched himself into a career dealing in works of art. Always fond of 'culture' he was keen to be associated with something that he was incapable of producing himself. His eye for valuable art was cultivated carefully by observing the tastes of others and slowly building up the appearance of knowledge and understanding. This charade had a fortunate side-effect: because his taste was entirely assembled from that of others, Dieter sold many paintings and became moderately rich.
When Henri D'Albuisse came to Bergsburg, he contacted Dieter with an eye to purchasing some objets d'art for his townhouse. A chance remark from Henri regarding the Theater lead to a joint investment in the building.
Under Dieter's management the Theater has grown in popularity, and he has become an important figure in the cultural life of the city: something which he values dearly. He particularly relishes his contact with the Baroness, finding her charming company - something that has lead to him occasionally affecting an unpleasantly obsequious manner in her company.
Dieter has been married for 15 years, and has one son, Mattieu, who is a great disappointment to him. So far he has proved himself incapable of finding gainful employment, and Dieter has foisted him onto the Baron's Men as their stage manager. Suffice to say, this has been a disastrous arrangement.
Dieter is not particularly religious, but he makes a point of visiting the Temple of Shallya on occasion, to maintain social status rather than through any pious instinct. He primarily venerates Handrich, and makes donations to the upkeep of his shrine in the Merchant's Guild.
The Baron's Men
The Theater's resident company consists of 8 actors and 3 technical staff. Hans is the spokesman and unofficial leader, although Elizabeth is viewed as his equal. The whole company is close-knit, and few personal rivalries mar the camaraderie.
It should be noted, that with the exception of Hans, the Baron's Men are all actors, and therefore little better than rogues in the eyes of most of the citizens of Bergsburg. The popularity of the Theater ensures that they have a degree of celebrity across the social classes, but essentially they have no profession and no true guild. Relations with the upper classes reflect this - whilst a celebrated actor such as Stefan Glaublich is a popular guest a dinner parties, he is never truly viewed as a social equal.
As with most actors, the Baron's Men are highly superstitious, and can often be seen performing strange rituals before a performance. These can be used purely to add colour to an encounter with the actors, or some of their odd beliefs could have a basis in fact...
"No wait! Be quiet a moment. Look at that chin, Stefan! He *is* Artur, is he not? Can you act, sir?"
Skills: Acting, Acute Hearing, Arcane Language - Magick, Astronomy, Bribery, Cartography, Concealment - Urban, Consume Alcohol, Cryptography, Disguise, Drive Cart, Flee!, History, Identify - Plant, Luck, Numismatics, Palm Object, Pick Pocket, Public Speaking, Read & Write, Ride - Horse, Secret Language - Classical, Seduction, Shadowing, Silent Move- Urban, Sixth Sense, Speak Additional Language - Arabian, Wit.
Description: Hans is a tall, handsome man, with short ash-blonde hair and even, well-chiselled features. There is a small notch missing from his left ear. He has an animated air, but without being over-demonstrative. He is usually dressed in the well-tailored city attire of an academic, shunning the attention-grabbing look that many theatre people adopt. He speaks with an educated accent.
Personality: Hans has a pleasant and undemonstrative demeanor much of the time, although he has tendency to be slightly nervous. He tends to 'cast' the people he meets in one of his plays. This placid temperament is broken only when he becomes involved in an argument. Hans' arguments are legendary, especially when he clashes with Elizabeth - eloquent insults are hurled back and forth while he gesticulates wildly and expansively. Hans is prone to depression, which tends to make him surly and intractable, especially when he is suffering from writer's block.
Background: The only child of an upwardly-mobile Altdorf wine merchant, Hans showed a reasonable degree of intelligence at school and was sent to the University of Altdorf. Until that point he had never really excelled at anything in particular, but once he had been matriculated into the hallowed institution, he began to flourish, cultivating a lively interest in the liberal arts, as well as attracting a number of female (and male) admirers.
From his first term, Hans became deeply involved in the theatrical endeavours of a group of young students, who called themselves 'The Schwartzstein Caucus', after the road in which they all lived and studied. Under the auspicions of Professor Wilhelm Empetter, they made it their goal to create at least one work of real significance in poetry, fine art, drama, music and so on. Unsurprisingly, for a group of such arrogance and naivete, they did not succeed in the creation of any particularly remarkable works of art, but a number of the group found greatness in other ways: Empetter was nurturing the members of the group for recruitment as spies to the Imperial Government.
During Hans' third year at the University, he began to show real promise as an actor-playwright, and it was at this point that Empetter approached him to become a spy. Hans was eager to hear more, and Empetter outlined what would be required of him as a member of the Graukappen, and how he would operate. Han was to lead a prominent and successful troupe of actors throughout the Empire, performing at the courts of Elector Counts and for other powerful individuals. This intimate access to the ruling classes of the Empire would allow him to use subterfuge to uncover any plots to challenge the Emperor's authority by any rebellious Electors.
Hans was given leave to assemble a celebrated company, and had the prestige of no less a patron than the Reiksmarshall. One of the players was Stefan Glaublich, who still acts with Hans in the Tiegel, taking the lead roles for which his brilliant acting skills are perfect. With help from Empetter, and whoever his superiors were, the Reiksmarshall's Men travelled the Empire for 10 years, becoming popular visitors to the highest courts of the land. During this time, along with his real responsibility, Hans crafted a number of plays, amongst which were 'The Sultan's Lament' (based on an ancient Arabic tale which he had translated at university) and 'That Which Can Be', his fanciful tale of a utopian kingdom.
Hans' last assignment was a visit to the court of the Graf in Middenheim. His orders were sent to him in Altdorf and from there he traveled to Middenheim, with the instructions to make contact with a 'Sigmarite of some importance'. The performance to the Graf and his family went well, and Hans set out to make his liaison in good spirits. He was to meet his contact in The Raven's Rest, a small inn located near Morrspark. As he approached the door, he heard a voice whispering his pseudonym "Koll Kibbern" from the inn's yard. Peering into the darkness he noticed two figures, one standing in the shadows by the wall and the other leaning against a barrel. He immediately sensed that something was wrong, but stepped cautiously into the yard. He whispered, "Who will help the poor herdsman's brother?" and the figure by the wall responded with "There are no leaves on the ground." Relieved that the correct phrase had been passed, Hans mentioned his contact's name. But as his eyes adjusted he noticed that the man leaning against the barrel was slumped there, and a dark wet stain covered his face. Before he had time to react the man by the wall was upon him. He tried to call out, but his assailant covered his mouth and drew a knife. The blade caught the light of both moons before it was plunged towards his face. Hans managed to twist away before the knife made contact, but he lost a small portion of his ear.
The attacker was unbalanced as the blade scraped the ground, and Hans took the opportunity to push the man off him. He leapt to his feet as the mysterious stranger struggled to stand, and Hans drew his sword. He grabbed his opponent by the neck and held the blade to his throat. "Drop your knife!" he hissed. The attacker did so, and it clattered onto the flags. "Who are you?" demanded Hans. The other man remained silent. Hans thought quickly - this man would not tell him anything, and he had neither the time nor the inclination for torture. He needed to get back to the palace soon, and there was little to be gained here. Meanwhile a prominent citizen lay dead in an innyard by the cemetery, and the Watch would come along any minute.
Hans reached a decision. He knocked his assailant unconscious with the pommel of his sword and left him with the corpse. Then he walked calmly into the inn, drank a stein of ale, and left. He was back in the palace within half an hour, taking a circuitous route to avoid being trailed by any possible compatriots of his mysterious attacker.
Overnight, Hans pondered his situation. The only people who knew of his meeting that night were himself, his contact and his superiors. When Hans recognised the contact he eliminated any leak from that source - the figure would have far too much to lose within the city if his identity was revealed to anyone at all. Hans had taken no-one into his confidence. The only remaining explanation was that one of his superiors had double-crossed him - there must be corruption somewhere in the Emperor's spy service. Hans began to fear for his life.
The next morning the city was buzzing with news of the murder. Hans managed to ascertain that the murderer had been found unconscious at the scene of the crime, but that when the Watch left him incarcerated he somehow managed to escape.
Several weeks later, while staying in Talabheim, Hans was contacted by Professor Empetter. He informed Hans that several of his agents had been found dead, and that he should keep out of his intelligence work for a while. Empetter would tell him no more other than to move somewhere 'out of the way' and keep his head down. Hans has not seen Empetter since, and this was to be his last contact with anyone in the Graukappen.
Hans moved to Bergsburg, and within a year had become involved with the Tiegel Theater. Since then he has become less nervous of attack, as the danger appears to be over, but he will still occasionally realise that his knowledge of corruption in the Graukappen puts him in danger.
As the resident playwright and director of the Baron's Men, Hans has risen to prominence in the city. Although he is not a great actor, he does occasionally still take to the stage in one of the smaller roles. His relationship with Elizabeth Siewieder is tempestuous, but seems to be settling into a more steady pattern.
Hans is not a particularly religious man, but he follows Verena as a hangover from his student days. Unusually for a follower of the goddess of justice, he also occasionally pays his respects to Ranald, as the patron of illusion and trickery. He is not alone in this, as many of the Baron's Men are followers of the Trickster, along with most actors.
At present, Hans is working on writing a play about the Theater's founding - a suitably tragic affair centring on the life of Gustav von Tiegel. This is to be performed during the 200th anniversary of the Theater's founding. Unfortunately, he lacks many historical details, and he needs to hire researchers to look into the history of the von Tiegel family and the founding of the Theater. Particularly of interest to him is the rumour that there are the remains of a abandoned shrine under the foundations, and he is keen to incorporate this into the plot. He believes that it may be the remains of a site sacred to Liadrel, which has imbued the Theater with a certain atmosphere. Any information to the contrary will not please him, as it will ruin a good portion of the play that he has penned so far. As with many fictional accounts of historical figures, in Hans' play von Tiegel is a tragic but heroic genius, and not at all the sickly dreamer of reality.
"But where is my motivation, Hans? Does Don Carranza feel trapped? Isolated? Why is he saying these lines?"
Skills: Acting (+20), Charm, Clown, Comedian, Consume Alcohol, Disguise, Etiquette, History, Jest, Luck, Mimic, Pick Pocket, Public Speaking, Read & Write, Ride - Horse, Secret Language - Classical, Sing, Wit.
Description: Where Hans is a handsome man, Stefan is beautiful. His features are even and well proportioned, and his green eyes sparkle with life. Whenever he enters a room, all eyes naturally turn to him. There is a slightly rakish accent to his gait, and more than one theatre-goer has remarked that he was born to play Ranald. He dresses in a set of fashionable city clothing, which lack ornamentation or flamboyance.
Personality:: Stefan is a perfect gentleman, well-spoken and courteous. His manners are impeccable, and he will liven up any conversation with his seemingly bottomless pit of anecdotes. Most people assume he is the third born son of some minor noble due to his charm and charisma, something which he is at no pains to refute. Outside of conversation, Stefan's real personality is a blank slate - he has spent so many years playing parts that he has forgotten what character of his own ever existed. In social situations he can be the centre of attention, but alone he despairs. Consequently he seeks out companionship wherever possible to avoid the depression which inevitably descends when he is alone.
Background:: Stefan was born into a family of impoverished sheep farmers in Averland. He was one of six children made to work hard from an early age tending to the herd. But young Stefan dreamed of life on the golden strasse of Nuln - he knew that he was capable of great things, and so at the age of 13 he ran away to the city. Upon arrival he fell in with a group of street urchins who survived by stealing and begging for change, eking out an existence. Stefan still wanted to become a great man, and would hang around the concert halls and theatres of that great city, watching the beautiful women and men coming and going. Sometimes he would climb up onto the walls and watch the performances, learning them by heart. He was enraptured by the stories of great kings and heroes, and he would mimic the performances of great actors in the Reiks Platz for a few pennies.
Stefan's impersonations of the great dramatic roles were brilliant. Acting was obviously a natural talent, and the citizens who saw him were inevitably impressed. One such passer-by was a young scholar, who saw in Stefan an opportunity to train an undisciplined mind. The scholar took Stefan in and taught him to read and write, hoping that one day he could mould him into a model citizen, along the lines of a theory he held. Stefan however, had other ideas, and once he had got what he wanted from the scholar he fled Nuln to join an acting troupe.
Various acting roles followed, in which Stefan shone. Eventually, at the age of 20, he found himself in Altdorf, an actor with the Scarlet Dagger troupe, who specialised in Tilean melodrama. Here he was spotted by Professor Wilhelm Empetter, who recognised his talent and recruited him into the Reiksmarshall's Men. The Reiksmarshall's Men were of course, a front for Hans Blausinger's spying, and the two became firm friends during their time together travelling the Empire. When Hans was forced to move somewhere 'out of the way' in Bergsburg, Stefan went with him, and subsequently became involved in the Theater.
Like Hans, Stefan has taken to the relatively easy life of Bergsburg, settling in as a local celebrity. A follower of Ranald, he will occasionally pay his respects at Katrin Spiegel's Shrine, but outwardly portrays no real interest in religion. His friendship with Hans is as firm as ever, although recently Hans has noticed the depression that affects Stefan when he is out of company. He has a good relationship with the other actors, enjoying the camaraderie of working together closely. Stefan has had numerous casual relationships with women, but they inevitably end with Stefan breaking them off, for reasons which make no real sense. His looks ensure that there is a constant string of admirers, even within the highest echelons of society.
"Sorry. I... I'm not sure about that, you'll have to ask Hans. I'm not that important, really."
Hair: Dark Brown
*Fel: Kirsten has an effective Fel of 60 when onstage.
Skills: Acting, Acute Hearing, Public Speaking, Read & Write, Ride - Horse, Sing.
Description: The Theater's reputation amongst the citizens of Bergsburg is that it frequented by beautiful people. This is true; Kirsten is incredibly attractive and the perfect complement to Stefan Glaublich. Her hair is shiny and luxuriant, and her presence on stage is magnetic. Off-stage she wears unassuming, even slightly dowdy dresses.
Personality: On stage, Kirsten is bedazzling and vivacious. But when she is out of a role, she is chronically shy, avoiding direct conversation. She is self-effacing to a fault. The other members of the Baron's Men have grown used to her character, and she has managed to establish a halting friendship with off Adolphus and Agnes. She is intimidated by strong characters, especially those who she does not know.
Background: Kirsten is a native of Bergsburg, born into a cooper's family. Always an insular and nervous girl, she was pushed into performing in a children's pageant to Shallya at the age of 10. Her parents hoped that it would bring her out of herself, and for the duration of the performance she was a normal, outgoing girl. But once the pageant was over, she retreated back into herself once again.
Despairing of her shyness, Kirsten's parents persuaded the Theater to take her on as an actress, something which she she seemed perfectly happy to do. In truth Kirsten wanted to be an extrovert, but was incapable of overcoming her natural tendencies. A successful audition secured her a place in the Baron's Men. The Theater offered her an opportunity to live as she truly wanted, even if it was only for the duration of a play. When Hans took over the leadership of the Baron's Men, he was happy to keep Kirsten as his lead actress, recognising her talents.
Kirsten is a follower of Shallya, eschewing the other actors' veneration of Ranald for the religion of her family.
The resident company's clown is Adolphus Schmidt, a 45 year old native of Bergsburg. He has a large nose and is very tall, around 6'5". His immensely expressive and rubbery face make his comic gestures a favourite with regular theatre-goers. When not on stage, Adolphus is a personable and amusing person, with not a sign of the depressive character of the stereotypical funny man. A great carouser, Adolphus can be encountered in many of the city's taverns, although the Dancing Landlord
is his favourite.
At only 18 years old, Fritz is used mainly in the roles that are too young or unimportant for Stefan. He is slightly jealous of the older man, and this tends to be apparent in his occasional clumsy attempts to upstage Stefan. A plain-looking youth, Fritz is not entirely happy with his position in the Baron's Men. He is sometimes the butt of Adolphus' jokes, and has been rebuffed by Kirsten when he made amorous advances towards her. Fritz is not a particularly good actor, but he takes himself very seriously.
Ernst is the oldest member of the company. He joined the Baron's Men in 2475 at the age of 25, and has remained with them to his current age of 62. Ernst is a good character actor, expert at playing ancient sages and decrepit kings alike. He is thoroughly dependable, and many of the younger actors turn to him for fatherly advice. Ernst main motivations are to have an easy life and continue to enjoy acting. Although the two are occasionally mutually exclusive, and he can't stay up all night as he did in his youth, Ernst is a happy soul.
Most decent women consider women who act to be little better than whores. This is, of course, a gross exaggeration and stereotype motivated by jealousy. However, in the case of Marie Dursthal, it would be quite correct. Marie is a moderately good actress who plays the bawdier parts excellently. She has been called 'all bosom and thigh', which is a fairly accurate description, with a string of male conquests to testify as to how well she deploys her assets. She has a warm and friendly personality, and never knowingly harms any of her partners. Marie is fairly attractive (in an 'obvious' way), and will definitely make a pass at any male human, elf or possibly even dwarf PC.
Where Ernst Goffman is the 'father figure' of the Baron's Men, Agnes is the surrogate mother. Aged 56, she acts as a counsellor to all and sundry, with everyone from Kirsten Schonheit to Dieter von Bruning approaching her for her particular brand of common sense advise and sympathetic listening skills. Agnes has been a member of the Baron's Men since the age of 18, and was once considered one of Bergsburg's great beauties. Although time has left it's mark, she is still a handsome woman, and is trusted to take on major roles by Hans, who considers her a considerable asset to the Theater.
Rowan is the sole non-human member of the Baron's Men, an 86 year old halfling who moved to the city from the Moot in his early 40s. Usually taking the roles which require a lighter, comic touch, Rowan can also be seen playing goblins, gnomes and even dwarves. The latter has caused some ill-feeling amongst those dwarves who have attended the Theater, but Rowan is generally well-liked. Rown's personality appears to be that of the stereotypical halfling, always craving good food and a relaxing smoke. In truth, Rowan is less shallow than this, although his insecurity around humans has lead to him playing to their expectations for acceptance.
Set Designer and Special Effects.
Elsa Taschentuch, Wardrobe mistress
Elsa is a genius at 'making do', conjuring costumes from seemingly no resources. She is a high-born woman of 25, the second daughter of a minor Hochland noble family who ran away from the tedium of her life in the manor house. She joined the Theater as a consequence of her naturally exuberant extroverted character and to exploit her talent at dressmaking. Elsa is a personable woman, if slightly distracted and focussed on her work. A good friend of Elizabeth Siewieder, the two of them share a slightly patronising upper class demeanour, although it is never an obnoxious trait.
Mattieu von Bruning, Stage Manager
Mattieu is a hopeless stage manager, and it is due to the organisatopm and professionalism of the Baron's Men that this does not impact too dramatically on the smooth running of any given play. Mattieu is aware of the fact that he is only working at the Theater as a consequence of his father's influence, and wishes that he could do something better. He tries his best to get on with the Baron's Men, although as yet he has not been truly accepted as one of them. Mattieu is a sallow youth, whose true vocation lies in loafing around the taverns of Bergsburg with his friends.