Fun at a ball

Hi, my PCs are going to be invited to a royal ball (in Nebalich), a prince, nobility etc. are going to attened. The ball is hosted to celebrate lady Ilsmeth, who recovered from a strange illness (The Devil's spine campaign). The PCs are there as heroes who rescued her. Before exciting things start happening (which are related to the main plot of my campaign) I need your help with some ideas regarding the ball's attractions.

The ball is taking place in the Gardens of Glass, an open-air maze of glass, platforms etc. Apart from typical noble-gathering gossip etc. what other intersting activities could the PCs be engaged in?
Not all of them have to be numenarish and weird :)


  • As far as I'm aware they are parties. That means dancing with eligible bachelors and maids, to start with as, well as copious amounts of food and drink. Traditionally, families with children that have come of age recently begin the search for politically and economically advantageous pairings. And since the PCs are famous and from your description are in tight with the nobility they could be considered part of that. Then there are, as dumb as it sounds, party games. Nobility are not strangers to the dull party either and some of them will find something to pass the time other than dancing and eating. Card games are easy to add as a side thing to your gaming table, as well as something like dominoes (I played a game of Tri-Ominoes just for a D&D game once) where the partygoers could be interested in a placing wagers and drinks on the outcome. There are a lot of quick little games that could fit the story and setting and be weird enough for Numenera that take no time to learn the rules for. I'm pretty sure there are a couple of billiards apps available for free, that played on a tablet could make a good stand in for a party game. I worked at a pool hall once that had a pair of odd shaped tables (one was a hexagon the other was an oval), even a simple change as the table or the medium on which it is played can change the flavor of the game.
    You could add a quick little side plots that are occurring during the ball for the PCs to get involved in. A small Romeo & Juliet (with or without the death) between a pair of noble houses. Or a game of catch the spy before he passes off information to his patron, even if that spy is just stealing the recipe for the custard tarts.
    A ball can be a good opportunity to really get in and Roleplay the new villains, contacts and patrons without having to Rollplay all of it. Don't be afraid to stack a deck either, just in case you want to part your PCs from a few newly acquired shins, or acquire some more; you are the GM after all.
  • This is excellent timing. I was just planning on having my PC's attend a ball as well. In my case, I have been building up a Baron villain in the last few adventures (first came up with the idea from running the Please Help Us instant adventure and then started to think why a Baron would be looking for numenera objects). My PC's are going to sneak into the ball, probably by stealing invitations or disguises etc, and then try and steal some plans the Baron has. I was going for a little bit of a Caper aspect. But all the ideas that you mentioned above are pretty excellent ways to make the ball interesting.
  • Perhaps you'd be interested how it went. Funnily, the PCs got nervous (scared even) after receiving their invitations. They had 3 days to prepare and a friendly NPC took them to a master tailor for fitting. The NPC also run a crash course in etiquette for them. They had to spend each day learning how to behave - mechanically each day they had to pass an etiquette test (lvl 3, 5 and 7, respectively). A passed test gave them an asset in future interactions.
    During the ball one PC was seduced by a noblewoman (who then wanted him to kill someone), they had to give a speech and dance - with lots of effort almost all of them managed it without a major faux pas. So yeah, with the effort being spent the ball was a challenging event. Luckily, around 4 a.m. badguys intervened and things got simpler for them :)
  • Sounds good mate. I'm glad it worked out for them!
  • That sounds like it went great! I am going to run my ball oriented adventure next weekend so I hope it goes well too.
  • My fancy ball game went pretty good as well. The PC's objective was to get into the palace of a Baron to retrieve some plans that the Baron stole from the former Aeon Priest in the town. The core plot is that the Baron's wife was put into a coma like state approximately a year ago, and wouldn't you know that an agent from the Convergence came to offer the Baron the chance to save her, provided he helped the Convergence recover some artifacts. The PC's had previously encountered the Baron's agents in their somewhat ruthless pursuit of those artifacts. Then they came to town and found the Aeon Priest, who was in hiding, who asked them to help find some notes of her's that the Baron had seized.

    To get inside the ball, they used a few methods. The palace floated above the town, and was attached to the borders of the town by a series of huge iron chains. One PC climbed those chains to sneak in during the ball. Another PC was an entertainer so she got a job at the ball performing (she served as the distraction later). Another PC got a job as a waiter. Only two PC's actually attended the ball as guests. The focus of the ball itself was more to come up with distractions to allow the two PC's who came as guests to sneak upstairs past the guards (one of them had a cypher that allowed them to choose any visage they liked, so they pretended to be the cook delivering food). The heist itself went off perfectly in that no body noticed. But then the PC who was pretending to be the cook realized she couldn't go back downstairs without being discovered. So she threw a rage gas cypher at the guards and jumped out the window, using her rides the lightning power to land. From that point forward the main ball descended in chaos and the two remaining PC's that were there (the entertainer and help) were questioned by the person from the Convergence before they were allowed to leave. All in all, it was a lot of fun and the PC's has a great time.
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