As you begin to accommodate adventure with your group of like-minded Extraordinaries, there will obviously be times when the interests and intrigues of one set of characters conflict with those of another. It is up to the characters to negotiate, plan, plot, scheme and machinate their way through these situations as they see fit.
There may also arise incidences where a direct confrontation is called for – often where a character’s honor, dignity or pride are at stake, or perhaps to avoid a stalemate situation as mentioned above. In these cases we heartily suggest calling for a Parlour Affair to settle the dispute.
A Parlour Affair may involve one or more of the following Trials:
Trial by Tea
Trial by Cake
Trial by Bread Duel
Trial by Cucumber Sandwiches
Trial by Tea
This is the most arduous and potentially serious of the Parlour Affair Trials and we suggest an age limit for competitors of ‘over sixteen’. Two competitors are permitted in a Trial by Tea (A challenger and a defender) and each must nominate both an adjudicator (called an overseer) and a second (in case they have to retire).
The challenger begins by choosing a set of toasts to be drunk. Once these have been agreed upon, the overseers then announce the amount of tea that will be used (in ounces) and the length of time it will be brewed for (The Steepings). Steepings and quantities increase with each new pot of tea that is poured for as long as the trial continues.
Once both the challenger and the defender have agreed that everything is ‘in order’ play commences with the challenger who grasps the teacup in the correct fashion (pinkie up), states the toasts in the correct order, without hesitation or fault, and drains as much as they can from their cup in one draft.
They then invert the cup on a napkin provided. Both overseers now inspect the napkin to see if the cup has been drained sufficiently (a few drips – known as dregs – are permitted) if the cup is considered to have been drained, turn then passes to the defender.
Turns repeat until one competitor either spoils their toasts, fails to drain their cup, fails to ‘pinkie-up’, is visibly unable to continue (e.g. vomiting or passing out) or chooses to concede defeat by waving a white napkin in the air.
At any time a competitor may chose to retire and have their ‘second’ take their place, provided that none of the aforementioned faults have been committed.
It is considered good form for competitors to engage in banter during all Parlour Affairs in an attempt to ‘put eachother off’.
Trial by Cake
This is messiest, most frivolous and potentially most fun of all the Parlour Affairs. Any number of competitors may take part in a trial by cake but they must form two opposing teams with an overseer nominated from each team. The rules are simple and the results chaotic – Each team lays their own table (or picnic blanket) with an array of cakes of their own choosing (exactly what constitutes a cake is a subject of debate beyond the scope of this book and should be agreed upon beforehand by both teams of competitors).
On the overseer’s whistle, the teams proceed to hurl the cakes at eachother until either one team concedes defeat (by waving white napkins in the air) or until all the cakes on BOTH tables are gone. The only real rule is that each cake must leave the competitor’s hand before it strikes its target otherwise that competitor is deemed to have committed a ‘strike’ and is immediately disqualified.
At the end of the trial by cake, both overseers inspect the teams and decide which team has achieved the most ‘hits’ (this will usually be the team who is the least covered with cream and sponge) It is worth noting that cake selection is an important factor in a trial by cake – e.g.: creamy and jam-filled cakes tend to stick better and so can give the appearance of a greater number of hits.
Trial by cucumber sandwiches
This is the most civilized of the Parlour Affair trials. Two competitors are usual for a trial by cucumber sandwiches, one challenger and one defender, and each must nominate an overseer.
The overseers prepare two plates of cucumber sandwiches, one for each competitor. Each plate must hold an equal number of equally sized sandwiches, each cut into triangles and each triangle containing one slice of cucumber of standard diameter and thickness. Butter or margarine may be spread on the bread according to the preference of the competitors.
At the overseer’s whistle both competitors attempt to eat as many sandwiches as they can as quickly as possible, however, only one sandwich is permitted to be ‘in the mouth’ at a time and each sandwich must be finished (chewed and swallowed) before the next is taken from the plate. Failing to comply with this rule is known as ‘scoffing’ and two accounts of ‘scoffing’ will result in disqualification.
The winner is the first to clear their plate (crusts and all – unless the crusts have been removed). A cup of tea or glass of water should be available for each competitor to drink during the trial if they require it.
This is the most combat-like of the Parlour Affairs. Two competitors are allowed and each must select a ‘Master of Arms’ to oversee for them.
Both competitors agree beforehand which weapons are to be used for the duel. These weapons can be any appropriate bread product which can be used like a sword; French sticks, baguettes, bread sticks, batons are the most usual.
The Masters Of Arms acquire the weapons and check that they are as identical as possible. The defender then gets first choice of the two weapons and the challenger has the other.
The competitors stand back to back and retreat from each other three paces. They then turn, bow (or curtsey if they prefer) to each other and commence to duel.
The aim is to break the opponent’s weapon in two before your own is broken. Contact with your opponent’s personage (their body, head, hat, skirt etc) is not permitted and is called a ‘foul’. Three fouls result in disqualification.
If both weapons break in two simultaneously, new weapons must be provided and the duel continues. For a player to win they must break their opponent’s weapon completely in two – dents, cracks or chips do not count as a win.
Extraordinaries are also encouraged to invent their own Parlour Affair Trials along similar lines and to explore the wider range of weaponry and conflict solution offered on the Extraordinaries website.
So, you create a character, you follow the Hooks and develop them as you see fit, you designate one player to make sure ‘all the children play nice,’ you stay true to your character and use your wit and imagination to achieve your character’s goals within the structure of the plot and when a dispute arises that cannot be settled any other way – or, frankly, whenever you feel bored – you call for A Parlour Affair. And, above all else, you hold firmly to the mantra that ‘fun’ is more important than ‘rules’ and you act accordingly.
Now that we understand how to accommodate adventure, let’s discover a little more about The New World in which these adventures are to take place…