View Full Version : [RIVALRY] To Win Her Heart

2007-01-17, 12:07 AM
The rivalry of Sir Vultan and the mercenary captain Allihan was the stuff of legends throughout the kingdom. For the love of the princess, each man risked life and limb in ever more daring escapades against the king's enemies. At the last, both embittered by their striving to outdo the other, and with no wars left to fight in the king's name, Allihan challenged Sir Vultan to a duel to the death, and Sir Vultan accepted.

Neither man walked away from that dreadful fight. They say the princess went mad with grief.

After Sir Vultan's squire Tornly had borne his master's body from the field and seen to his burial, he began the mournful task of going through the departed knight's effects. Among them, he found a book, thick, leatherbound, with gilt-edged pages. Remembering how Sir Vultan himself had taught Tornly his letters, and for some strange reason thinking also of his own sweetheart, the squire opened the book and began to read...

The Book of Lovers' Deeds
This handsome tome is filled with tales of two rivals who competed for the hand of one beloved. These tales are in fact the true stories of previous possessors of the Book, although couched in engaging, florid prose. Some end happily, many tragically; some rivals yielded gracefully, others fought to the bitter end; some learned great lessons about love and commitment, others were left bitter and broken and hated what they had once vowed to love.

The Book has a knack for finding its way into the hands of characters who are also striving for another's affections against a rival. As well as customary ways of discerning a magic item's purpose (such as an identify spell), a character who spends 1 hour reading the book may make a Wisdom check (DC 15) to discern its purpose. A character who possesses the book and is aware of its purpose may go to a rival and vow to outdo them to win the heart of the woman or man they both desire. If the rival responds in kind, the two are bound to their vows by the magic of the Book.

Only a lawful character may use the Book and initiate a vow, but the rival may be of any alignment. The vows taken must clearly state what kind of action the character will take to woo the beloved, and on what condition the vow will end (typically either when one or the other rival is chosen, or until the vow-taker's death). The initiator first sets the terms of his vow, and then the rival either accepts the same terms or proposes another vow, which he must sincerely believe to be competitive with the first. If he offers a new vow, the initiator may keep to his first vow's terms and accept his rival's vow, or else change the terms of his first vow; and so they can continue haggling until each is satisfied that the vow he has made gives him a chance to outdo his rival.

Once a vow is made, it can only be ended on its stated terms, or by the same spells that may break a geas/quest spell. Many a lover has become embittered with the vow he has made and disillusioned with the one whose love he swore to win, but remained trapped by the magic of the book. Avoiding the vow has the same penalties as shirking a geas/quest.

When one or both vows ends, a new chapter appears in the Book, telling this latest tale. At this point, the book usually leaves its current holder's possession; though it may be lost, stolen or discarded before this, no new vows can be made with the Book while an existing pair of rivals have used it. Furthermore, there is a d% chance each day of the book finding its way back into the hands of one or the other rival.

While it is common to talk of the Book, some believe that there are several of these items in existence, all alike. It is possible to create a new Book of Lovers' Deeds, but each will contain the accumulated tales of the other Books. It is said that the first Book was a gift from the patron deity of love, and that those who fulfil a vow made in the Book will enjoy happiness in love for the rest of their days. It also grants the benefits of the Love's Devotion feat (see Feats, below).

Strong divination and enchantment; CL 12th; Craft Wondrous Item, creator must be lawful, geas/quest, legend lore; Price 14,000gp; Weight 5lb.

Tornly and Castin
Tornly the Squire is the current possessor of the Book of Lovers' Deeds. Inspired by his noble master's deeds yet warned by his end, he has used it to enter into a similar but less perilous vow, competing against his cousin Castin.

Tornly was a farmer's boy; his cousin Castin came to live with his uncle and learn a trade on the farmstead. Before Tornly became a page and later squire to his father's liege lord, Sir Vultan, the two boys were fast friends, save only in one thing. On the neighbouring farmstead, there was a girl of an age with them, Linna. As boys do, the cousins competed for her affections, with varying intensity as the years wore on.

With time, and Tornly's absence in service to Sir Vultan, Castin and Linna grew closer. After the knight's death, though, when Tornly came into possession of the Book, the squire believed he had a chance to win Linna for himself once and for all...

Fighter 4
Size/Type: Medium humanoid (human)
HD: 4d10+4 (30hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares) in chainmail; base speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 19 (+2 Dex, +5 chainmail, +2 shield), touch 12, flat-footed 17
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+7
Attack: Longsword +9 (1d8+5; 19-20/x2)
Full Attack: Longsword +9 (1d8+5; 19-20/x2)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: None
Special Qualities: None
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +1
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 12
Skills: Craft (armorsmithing) +4, Handle Animal +5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +3, Ride +9; armor check penalty -5
Feats: Lover's Devotion, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Trample, Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialization (longsword)
Alignment: Lawful good

Equipment: Masterwork longsword, masterwork chainmail, masterwork heavy steel shield, cloak of resistance +1, light warhorse, masterwork chainmail barding, military saddle, saddlebags, light horse, pack saddle, masterwork armorsmith's tools, The Book of Lovers' Deeds, 416gp

Age: 24
Height and Weight: 5'11", 150 lb.
Appearance: Light brown hair, brown eyes, lean build, youthful face
Languages: Common

Tornly is a romantic at heart and a firm follower of the code of chivalry. He sincerely believes in his late master's greatness and will brook no insult to his memory, though he privately admits that his end was tragic and unnecessary. The years spent squiring for a perfect gentleman have left him somewhat na´ve about the ways of the world, but he is well acquainted with battle and a very competent fighter. Only the undead shake his nerve; actually, they're something of a phobia of his.

Tornly was wary of meeting the same end as his master, and also gleaned some ideas from other tales in the Book of Lovers' Deeds. When he vowed to outdo his cousin Castin in winning Linna's affections, he did not vow to prove himself through deeds of arms nor to fight to the death for her. Instead, he swore to prove himself the more devoted, the more gentlemanly, the better provider and protector.

Expert 4
Size/Type: Medium humanoid (human)
HD: 4d6+8 (24hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 14 (+1 Dex, +3 studded leather), touch 11, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+5
Attack: Longspear +5 (1d8+2; 20/x3)
Full Attack: Longspear +5 (1d8+2; 20/x3)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: None
Special Qualities: None
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +5
Abilities: Str 15, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 10
Skills: Appraise +6, Craft (love poetry) +3, Craft (metalworking) +9, Disable Device +5, Gather Information +6, Knowledge (metallurgy) +0, Open Lock +7, Perform (poetry recital) +4, Profession (blacksmith) +8, Ride +2, Use Rope +2
Feats: Lover's Devotion, Open Minded, Skill Focus (craft [metalworking]), Skill Focus (Perform [poetry recital])
Alignment: Neutral good

Equipment: Longspear, studded leather armor, masterwork blacksmith's tools, house and workshop, heavy horse, riding saddle, saddlebags, cart, three books of poetry, 461gp

Age: 24
Height and Weight: 5'8", 180 lb.
Appearance: Black hair, green eyes, very solid build, tanned
Languages: Common

Castin is a solid, serious person with a dependable nature and a gruff, no-nonsense attitude. Really, though, he's just as much of a romantic as his cousin. Being involved with Linna has encouraged him to be more open-minded than he used to be; though he'd never admit it to an outsider, he's taken to reading (and writing!) poetry to her. To the rest of the village, though, he's just Castin the blacksmith, reliable and competent at what he does.

He is truly in love with Linna, but he also has a great love and respect for his cousin. Aware of Tornly's feelings for Linna, he chose to wait until he could seek Tornly's permission to marry her. When instead his cousin told him about the book and made a vow on it, Castin responded in kind -- but his vow was to remain devoted to her, to serve her to the best of his strength, whether she chose him or his cousin. Though he has militia training and keeps his equipment in good repair, a more combative sort of vow never crossed his mind.

Tales from the Book
The book contains many other tales of rivals. Here is a concise selection:

Allihan and Sir Vultan: The rivalry and fate of these two great captains was given in the introduction.

Kyria and Raphina: This pleasant pastoral tale tells of two peasant maids, into whose possession the Book literally fell one day. The two women both had an eye for a certain travelling merchant, Lenceas by name, coincidentally the man from whose wagon the book fell. Together, they set about trying to tame the man and convince him to settle down with one of them. As it turned out, the merchant was working to repay a debt to his cousin, also a travelling merchant, who had first helped Lenceas start out in his trade. Once the debt was paid, Lenceas did indeed settle in the village, and his cousin travelled his old route for a time; and thus did Lenceas and his cousin come to court and wed the maids Kyria and Raphina, a happy ending for all parties.

Andras and the Faralhyne: This tale is one of the more unpleasant ones recorded in the Book. The Faralhyne was a dark mage of great power, who came to desire the lady wife of a neighbouring lord named Andras. Believing that the blessing of the deity of love would help him draw the woman from her husband, the Faralhyne swore enmity against Andras, vowing to destroy him and his household and take his wife for himself. Andras was tricked into making his scornful reply to this challenge into a vow on the book, sealing the rivalry. The mage thereafter pitted all his might and that of his realm against Andras, who formed a league of realms against him. The war was long and brutal; again and again the Faralhyne demanded that Andras kneel before him and surrender his wife, lest he unleash more atrocities, slaughter more thousands. At the last, Andras's League won through and toppled the dark mage's throne, but at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, a toll which weighed heavy on Andras and his wife.

King Agoston and Sir Lazslo: The famed King Agoston was travelling abroad, incognito, in search of a queen. Stopping for a time at a certain manor house, he fell in love with the lady of the manor, Ginevra. At this time, though, an itinerant knight also began to pay court to the lady, and the two almost came to blows on more than one occasion. The Book happened to be in the manor library at the time, and fell into their hands, leading to a vow made upon it. This only intensified their quarrel, however, and at length the Lady Ginevra reluctantly sent them both away. Sir Lazslo travelled far, determined to win fame and renown and so woo the lady; and so he travelled to the centre of a certain realm famed for the quality of its knights, and there swore himself to the royal guard. Agoston returned after a few days and revealed his kingly station to her. Overawed, Ginevra consented to come and be his queen, and they returned together to Agoston's capital for the wedding. There, of course, Lazslo discovered that the absent king to whom he had sworn his service was Agoston, and though he served well and faithfully, he entered into an affair with the new Queen. The dispute ultimately divided the kingdom's defences at a crucial time and caused its downfall.


Lover's Devotion [General]
You have sworn before the gods to love one other above all. It is hard to turn you from your beloved.
Prerequisites: Lawful alignment, must have sworn a vow to love a particular person.
Benefit: You gain a +4 to Will saves against any effects that would sway you from your devotion to your beloved, such as a charm or compulsion. The DC for Diplomacy or Intimidate checks with similar aims is higher than normal by +4.
Special: A character who swears on the Book of Lovers' Deeds gains this feat automatically, even if their alignment is not lawful. However, they lose its benefits if they are suffering penalties for shirking that vow.

Love-sworn Warrior [General]
Your devotion to your beloved inspires you in battle.
Prerequisites: Lover's Devotion
Benefits: Once per day, you may grant yourself a +2 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls. This benefit lasts for a number of rounds equal to your Charisma bonus (minimum 1 round).
Special: You may take this feat more than once. Each time you do, you gain one additional daily use of the morale bonus it grants.

A fighter may select Love-sworn Warrior as one of his bonus feats.

Lovesick Troubador [General]
You draw upon your own vow, and your familiarity with the Book of Lovers' Deeds, to inspire your music.
Prerequisites: Lover's Devotion
Benefits: Three times per day, you may apply a +2 morale bonus to one Perform check.
Special: You may take this feat more than once. Each time you do, you gain three additional daily uses of the morale bonus it grants.

Love's Ordained [General]
As an an anointed follower of the deity of love, your own experience with love heightens your connection with your deity.
Prerequisites: Lover's Devotion, must have access to a domain granted by a love deity.
Benefits: You cast all spells from this domain at +1 caster level, and add +1 to these spells' save DCs.
Special: This feat only applies to spells from domains granted by a love deity and prepared in your domain slot. You may not apply the benefits to these spells when gained from any other source.

Using the Book in your game
The Book of Lover's Deeds can be used to drive a plot or subplot. It works best in a campaign that has a deity and/or religion specifically and actively devoted to romantic love.

Some ideas are:
The PCs meet Tornly and Castin, the present Book-sworn pair. Tornly is a stout NPC ally in combat, while Castin is useful for equipment and information. Another pair of NPCs may be substituted. The Book provides a ready-made depth to these NPCs.
A Book-sworn NPC, possibly Tornly or Castin, seeks help from the PCs in doing some task related to the Book. Perhaps they simply want aid in defeating their rival, or perhaps they are being prevented from fulfilling their vow, and the penalties are starting to come into effect.
The book comes into the party's possession after leaving Tornly and Castin. If none of the PCs are immediately inclined to use it, they may be goaded into it by someone else obtaining the book and making a vow.
The Book has fallen into the hands of one who might find a way to use the accumulated power of all those vows to nefarious ends. The clergy of the deity of love have set out on a mission to retrieve the book, with the help of the PCs. (If the mission is successful, the book might be left with a PC -- see the previous idea -- or be carefully 'lost' in some large library in order to return it to its wandering ways.)

2007-01-17, 07:37 PM
Wow. Great this will become.

2007-01-24, 05:33 PM
Nice fluff! Does it provide any benifits?

2007-01-24, 09:57 PM
Nice fluff! Does it provide any benifits?

You mean, mechanically? Not as yet. I may think of something. But mostly it's just a Macguffin, a plot device, a roleplaying benefit.

It is said that the first Book was a gift from the patron deity of love, and that those who win love through a vow made in the Book will enjoy happiness in love for the rest of their days.

2007-02-09, 02:09 PM
This entry is now sufficiently complete to be entered. I hope to add some more Tales from the Book, as well as pointers on using it in your own game. But the necessary parts are all there, and I would dearly love some comments and criticism. :smallsmile:

2007-02-09, 04:50 PM
Nicely written! (and thanks for commenting on mine.) It makes for a great story, though would be a challenge to role-play. For a DM that is having trouble getting the party to cooperate with the adventure line, the Book would make for a good PC hook - literally, as once the PC acted on it, he/she is compelled to continue to do so until the story's conclusion.

The Book of Love is kind of a nasty item - in actuality, it seems to basically curse two people, one knowingly, the other possibly not. The only difficulty I have with this why a lawful character, once discerning the books purpose, would knowingly place themselves under a geas/quest - esp. knowing that their rival is under the same, and only 1 can win out. But then, people have done stranger things in the name of love...:smallamused:

2007-02-13, 11:34 AM
Yeah, I had a feeling it would need some sort of actual tangible benefit. So now it has one: I've added a bunch of feats.

I was going to make them all require a vow on the Book, but then I decided to make a vow on the Book automatically grant one, then have the rest require that one.

The last thing I hope to add before deadline is some advice on using the Book in a campaign...

Edit: And done. Finished. Unless anyone has comments to make or anything to suggest?