Exploring Ravensridge: The Tomb-raiding Trouville Paragons
As we continue to explore the world of Ravensridge, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to shift our topic to a notable faction in the world, rather than the creatures that inhabit it. Our focus is the Trouville Paragons; a powerful faction of artefact collectors and pursuers of folklore, mythos, and history.
The Trouville Paragons, located in the Fineries district of Ravensridge, are a wealthy company of tomb raiders, explorers, spelunkers, and adventurers, attempting to catalog, discover, and preserve the powerful artifacts that have been lost to time throughout the land. They primarily serve the great House Malbrook in their endeavours to uncover ancient artefacts, but have political affiliations with all the other houses too. Business is business after all. Beyond this, the Trouville Paragons secretly house an agenda to carefully control the exchange and possession of said powerful artefacts, lest a greedy house acquire too much power and send the world into ruin.
The Paragons work in small bands, some are field experts, others are lore gatherers, and some, document-keepers. Despite the internal specialisations, all Trouville Paragons are taught how to fight and handle weaponry, how to survive in the wilderness, and most importantly, how to navigate tombs, ruins, and other ancient sites of power. There is a high degree of esteem to become a Paragon, and due to this, most members tend to be already wealthy citizens of Ravensridge.
Abigale Humphrey is the current leader of the Trouville Paragons. She wishes to find the Dragoman of Feathered Omens, a legendary seer said to live beyond the Palidfolk in the Marrow Basin, so that she me make the biggest contribution to record keeping in history, by creating the most accurate telling of history thus far. Her great grandmother, Laurencia Trouville, shared the same ambition, and established the Paragons many years ago.
Abigale could make a great quest-giver to a party of adventurers in your game.
The Paragons are meticulous documenters; they keep records of items and expeditions in the form of Ravels - long strands of cured leather with markings from top to bottom, often in their own scripture designed for brevity but detail. Some Paragons keep the strips bound to their person, hanging from every conceivable place, and others keep tight wound wrist straps or even specially crafted Opales; small waterproof baskets designed to enclose a large volume of strips, usually wound around a steel axle.
At their headquarters, the House of the Trouville, a huge library-esque chamber is maintained by a Ravelmaister, a Paragon charged with tending to the ravels of field agents returning from expeditions, transcribing them for ease of access, crafting the ravels themselves, and keeping the wealth of information organised and protected.
One may often see a Paragon scrawling on their ravels whilst in the field, keeping detailed record of everything they encounter.
Dupe Relics and Power Control
The Paragons have been known to leave false relics behind after a raid on a site. This, along with a tight group of informants operating in the Dark Market, allows the Paragons to maintain a firm monopoly over the artefact industry, and often proves to potential patrons that going with another competitor will lead to fake items. While this is has proven to be a beneficial business practice, it also allows the Paragons to control the possession of powerful artefacts further. If a dubious client asks for an ancient powerful relic to be uncovered, the Paragons may well deliver a fake item, keeping the real relic safe and hidden from dabbling hands.
Security of their information is a high priority for the Paragons. Most field agents construct their own complex and unique cipher to read their ravels. Additionally, any artefacts they keep for themselves are housed in several hidden vaults innoxiously built into the basements of unremarkable buildings throughout Ravensridge. There are three vaults in total, each protected by a bound demon, whom have been in servitude to the Paragons for generations.
As a further measure of protection, each individual Paragon swears an oath never to utilise the powers they may handle, instead vowing only to catalogue, protect, and preserve.
Using the Trouville Paragons in your Game
The Trouville Paragons do well to fit into many fantasy settings, high magic or low - both give the faction an interesting flavour. If your setting is low-magic, you may wish to tweak the Paragons to be more enterprising and business oriented, opting to find treasure more than artefacts of power. A particularly memorable character from a two year campaign in Ravensridge was a member of the Paragons (I'm talking about you Montgomery, if you're reading), and this too was a great way for the character to have immediate ties to the world. Besides these uses, below as always, I'll drop a short table of hooks to use in your games:
|1||A bound demon in a Paragon vault has escaped spectacularly, revealing a defenseless relic vault for all to raid.|
|2||A cursed relic possesses a Trouville Paragon and compels it's host to steal a number of powerful relics and cause havoc.|
|3||There are rumours that the head of the Paragons, Abigale, has been replaced by a simulacrum. The Paragons have been sighted wielding the artifacts they vowed to never use, and the political powers of the city are concerned.|
|4||An old, detailed ravel is found containing an allusion to a wealth of treasure. The only problem? The instructions are written in a cipher.|
|5||A collector has acquired an artifact that they suspect might be a fake. They are in need of a group to investigate the item's authenticity and trace its origin back to the Trouville Paragons.|
|6||A disillusioned former Paragon approaches the party, claiming to possess knowledge of a hidden vault's location and contents. They seek assistance in exposing the Paragon's secrets and distributing the artifacts to prevent their misuse.|