Thursday, March 4, 2021

Set the stage like it's 1681!!! [Inspiration/Random Table]

 I won't rest until I've turned everything into a random table!

Today's offering comes from "Des Représentations en musique anciennes et modernes" by Claude-François Ménestrier (link to scan; the passages of interest begin here, pp. 171-174). Published in 1681, this is a treaties on musical and theatrical plays. It also includes a list of the various types of set decorations. Eleven individual entries, and a twelfth one for "capricci", so this makes a great d12 random table!

Useful for quick inspiration when setting a scene, or describing a painting's contents. Great for historical RPGs, but also for weird / mythological fantasy (John M. Stater's Bloody Basic: Weird Fantasy Edition springs to mind).

The Twelve Types of Scenery

  1. The Celestial; the assembly of gods, clouds, spheres, rainbows, the celestial firmament, sunrise or sunset, lightning and storms
  2. The Sacred; the temples, altars, sacrifices, sacred places, abodes of priests, augurs, vestals
  3. The Martial; the towns under siege, ramparts and walls manned with soldiers, artillery, war machines, weaponry, camps of tents, the General’s quarters, arm stores & arsenals, trophies, spoils of war, battlefields covered with corpses
  4. The Rustic; is endless, for it can represent rough landscapes, mountains, valleys, crags, camps, lonely, forlorn places, forests, grasslands, meadows, grottos, streams, groves, hills, shores, villages, hamlets, rustic festivals. According to the season, they can be covered with snow, flowers, greenery, fruits, vines
  5. The Maritime; the Sea, ships, galleys, ports & harbors, islands, reefs, storms, shipwrecks, sea monsters, naval battles
  6. The Royal; the palace, the throne, facades adorned with columns, statues and other embellishments, balconies, great halls, galleries, private chambers, cabinets, gardens, fountains, magnificent beds, stables full of prize horses, exquisite garments, treasuries
  7. The Civic; the city streets, shops of merchants, studios of painters & sculptors, workshops of artisans, markets & fairs, particular buildings, prisons, burning houses, edifices under construction, ruins
  8. The Historic; famed cities such as Rome, Athens, Constantinople, Thebes, certain locations of Greece and Thessaly, or Europe, where important events take place, such as the cave of the Sybil or the lair of Cacus
  9. The Poetic; the palace of the Sun, or the underwater abode of Thetys, the mansion of Aeolus, Keeper of Winds, the palace of Fortune and of Curiosity; the temples of Death, of Honor, of Fame. The dwellings of Homer, Virgil, Ariosto & Tasso
  10. The Magic; the enchanted isles & palaces, the Sabbath, the dreadful & forlorn abodes of Demons, Hell, Pluto’s Court, the Elysian Fields, Styx, Cocytus, Acheron, Avernus, the cavern of the Magician, where everything is dark and full of specters
  11. The Academic; the libraries, studies of scholars, the books & instruments of the mathematician, cabinet of antiquities & curiosities, school of painting
  12. Capriccio; which can infinitely diversify the appearance of the place [roll twice and mix]


  1. Very nice! I may have to dig into this a little....

    1. It's a great topic! You can also google "18th century" or "19th century stage decorations" for some visuals.