Tales of the E-Squires
Overly Complex Initiation
Also known as the Ardellburg Gauntlet by non-adventurers, this is a contest and a four day celebration of adventurers and their patrons. The competition occurs every year in Freeport, and new adventurers come from all over to compete for prizes, patronage, and most importantly, prestigious guild membership.
About 200 years ago, a benevolent noble by the name of Orion Ardell saw potential in a group of four young adventurers, so he outfitted the ragtag bunch with new weapons and armor. The grateful adventurers immediately set out into the wilderness in search of gold and glory. Years passed without Ardell hearing word from the adventurers, so he assumed that they had met their grisly fates. Decades passed, and the adventures became nothing more than a sad memory for Ardell.
And then suddenly, tragedy struck: the great dragon Graxtorax descended upon the people of Freeport in a wave of death and fire. Just as the city defenders were beginning to lose hope, a group of four veteran adventurers rode across the plains leading to the city. Known as the Company of the Ruby Heart, the adventurers waged an epic battle against Graxtorax and slayed the great wyrm.
When the beast fell, the four adventurers pushed their way past the cheering cityfolk and made their way to Ardell’s manor. There, they bowed before Ardell, now an old man. Ardell could hardly believe his eyes—it was the same four adventurers he had outfitted so long ago! In tears, Ardell embraced the adventurers.
The heroes stayed with Ardell for the following week, regaling him with tales of their adventures. They eventually bid Ardell farewell and set off in pursuit of more adventures.
The people of Freeport started a new tradition to honor the adventurers’ courage and Ardell’s benevolence. Every year on the anniversary of Graxtorax’s death, the mayor of Freeport held a formal ceremony where he gave valuable gear to upstart adventurers.
It was a noble gesture, but the everyday people of Freeport had no interest in pomp and circumstance. They held a festival in the slums (which the people had renamed “Ardellburg”), filling the streets with triumphant music and warm food. Some businesses hosted clever games such as riddle competitions and “Pin the arrow on the dragon.” After several years of annual Ardellburg festivals, it became abundantly clear that the festival in the slums was much more popular than the official ceremony. So, the mayor of Freeport combined the two. He announced the Ardellburg Gauntlet, a city-spanning competition that includes challenges of strength, wit, and speed. Fledgling adventurers could compete for a chance to win adventuring gear.
The Gauntlet is a four-day competition that consists of nine events. The final competition, the Trial of Speed, is the largest and most popular competition. At the end of the festival, adventuring groups receive prizes based on whichever teams have the most points.
Participants in the Ardellburg Gauntlet must abide the following rules. Violators are subject to disqualification.
- Participants must register two days before the festival begins.
- Participants must abide by all local laws.
- Participants will be randomly assigned to a team.
- Participants cannot have previous adventuring experiences. Upstart adventurers only!
- Each game has its own set of special rules, which participants must follow. Participants who violate the rules of an individual game will be disqualified from that game, but not from the Ardellburg Gauntlet on the whole.
- Adventuring groups collect points when they win a game. Groups with the most points at the end of the Gauntlet will receive awards.
- Adventuring groups can participate in however many games as they like, using as many or as few members as they like, and may split up.
Day 1 – Opening Ceremony
Traditionally a speech is delivered by a living relative of Lord Ardell, and participants get the chance to meet their team, develop rapport and discuss strategy. This is also a great chance to see the city and visit local businesses.
Day 2 – The Trials
The games officially start at dawn. Participants will have until dusk to accumulate as many points as they can. Time is their biggest enemy, as completing a trial can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, and traveling between trial locations can take several hours because of the crowded streets. On average, each trial requires about 2-3 hours to complete. Consequently, the participants likely won’t have enough time to attempt every trial unless they split up, though it’s not clear that this is better, as many past winners of the gauntlet have simply skipped trials that they thought would take them too long.
Day 3 – The Trial of Speed
The third day of the festival is devoted entirely to the Trial of Speed. Crowds of people gather around the most important race locations (the starting line, the finish line, and the checkpoints) to cheer on their favorite teams. The Trial of Speed starts at noon and generally lasts 1-2 hours. The rest of the day is filled with celebration as the people of Freeport praise the winning teams.
The Closing ceremony
The mayor of Freeport, Don Betwise, presents the winning teams with their prizes. The ceremony takes place at town square, where a statue of the four adventures of. The Company of the Radiant Heart stands triumphantly.
Teams are named according to the order in which they are assigned at random. The first team are the A-Squires, the second team are B-Squires, and so on. Teams typically organize themselves by color, displaying their affiliation through colored tunics, banners, war paint, or arm scarves. Teams may select their own color.
The games officially begin on the second day. Adventuring groups will have from dawn to dusk to collect as many points as they can. They can retry failed trails if they like, but they are racing against time. The longer they take to complete each trial, the less time they will have for other trials. For this reason, the groups may want decide to split up and attempt trials individually or in small groups.
The trials are very open-ended. Some trials will have obvious solutions, while other trials will require out- of-the-box thinking. Creative problem solving is often rewarded!
The content of the specific trials are secret and often change from year to year, but they always have the following names:
- The Trial of the Titanslayer
- The Trial of the Sphinx
- The Trial of the Lost Ship
- The Trial of Cunning
- The Trial of Might
- The Trial of Justice
- The Trial of Shadows
- The Trial of Fury
- The Trial of Speed
The Trial of speed always comes last, starting at noon on the third day, and is a relay race through the city.