When I was a little baby, my mother visited a fortune teller who told her that one day, I would capture the heart of a King. What King, exactly? Well, that was never specified.
-Madam de Pompadour
A few years ago, I had a dream about a young woman who is sent off to the court of the King to become his mistress and bring home wealth and status for her family.
Though my dream itself failed to provide any relevant clues about when and where this might take place, I was inspired by the idea enough to start doing some research into finding a place where this sort of scenario might reasonably take place.
The court of Louis XV of France quickly began to fascinate me. What a weird place! Though a few generations before the French revolution, it was easy to see why his sort of excess would inspire revolt. Of course, excess, class divisions, hierarchy, these things are excellent fuel for stories, and after a bit of research, I began to construct a role-playing game based in the setting.
Among courtly balls, mistresses, giant gardens and political intrigue this game examines what power means, the relationships of those who are ruled, and what all this means in the context of an alien invasion.
That’s right, an alien invasion.
Who will dance with nobility at the ball? Will our young maiden get to sleep with the king? What is the green ooze in the woods? What does the circus troop at the palace have to teach us about dance and how important being a good dancer is? How will the court of Louis handle an alien invasion?
These ideas lead me to create Court/Ship, a game of courtly romance and alien invasion.
When I was a podling, my breed-parent told me that one day, I would chew my way through the flesh of a human cow, and I would feel pleasure beyond my greatest dreams. Now that we stand on the precipice of this blue-green world, I am ready to live that dream with you, my family.
-The Growth Queen.
Court/Ship is a setting for Fate Core that takes place during the time of Louis XV. It comes with a setting, pregenerated characters and instructions on how to make your own, and a new mechanic for secrets.
Secrets in Court/Ship:
Court/Ship has a mechanic that deals with creating and revealing secrets. Fate Core discourages secret Aspects, and for good reason, they can complicate things needlessly for most campaigns. But Court/Ship is about courtly intrigue, and to have intrigue, secrets are important. Therefore, Court/Ship has a secret mechanic that is applied to every player character.
During character creation, you create a secret Aspect for your character, and write it on one side of an index card. This can be anything from “gambled away the family’s wealth” to “sleeping with the King’s mistress” to “plot to overthrow the monarchy”. How disastrous the revelation of the secret would be is up to the player.
On the other side of the card, you create a public Aspect that relates to the secret.
- Gambled away the family’s wealth? Maybe you are a Master of Games.
- Sleeping with the King’s Mistress? Smooth Talking Lady.
- Plot to Overthrow the Monarchy? Friends High and Low.
The Aspects you create should be in proportion to your secret, and relate to the secret in some way. Each time you use this Aspect (and the Aspect should be tempting for use) anyone present can make a Notice role against your character. Use this Aspect enough, and after three successes, your secret is out to the person who made those three successful Notice roles.
When a character learns about the secret of another, they can choose to keep that secret, and gain +1 Intimidation roles against the character whose secret they know. Or they can choose to reveal their own secret, giving them both Empathy bonuses to each other. If a character chooses to reveal their secret, all bonuses against them vanish, but they take the consequences of their secret being revealed. There are more details on exactly how this works in the Court/Ship supplement.
Secrets are negative, but they do give characters an extra Aspect to rely on, and in a time of Alien Invasion, you need all the help you can get.
Since I’m a photographer who has done art for games before, Fred Hicks from Evill Hat asked me if I would create the art for Court/Ship. After setting on a budget, it was decided: The Court/Ship photoshoot was going to happen. Then I just need to find Versailles in Philadelphia, recruit models, find costumes, buy prosthetics, recruit makeup artists, make a set list, and, oh, yes, actually shoot the photos.
It took about a month to plan.
I really enjoy these kinds of shoots. Court/Ship, Heroine, the kind of photoshoot that let me go wild, that lets me create things that only existed in my imagination in my real life – if only for a few seconds. I hope that you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. I worked with a coalition to make this happen – a fashion designer, models and makeup artists.
Models: Jenn, Avalon, Alyce, Trillian, Brennan, Jared, Dan
Makeup by Bunny Green and Elizabeth Terenchin
Corsets and Skirts by Mayfaire Moon
Wigs from The Five Wits