Illusions of grandeur
Dementlieu is one of the Domains of Dread of Ravenloft and is primarily a port city and little else. Its denizens are ruled by the Darklord, Duchess Saidra d’Honaire; a woman of grandeur and deceit above all else. She insists upon presenting the city as the illusion of refinement and decadence, while in reality, the population scrimp to get by. Those that fail to uphold the facade of rich nobility are removed from society, permanently.
Information About Dementlieu
|Darklord||Duchess Saidra d’Honaire|
|Domain Characteristic||Domain of Decadent Delusion|
|Genre||Dark Fantasy and Psychological Horror|
|Hallmarks||Masquerades, decadent aristocracy, social decay, illusions, imposter syndrome|
|Races||Mainly humans, some halflings and a few other races|
Mother of Tears Cathedral
Red Widow Theater
Three Odd Gables
Characteristics of Dementlieu
In Dementlieu, its people masquerade as being far more wealthy and noble than they really are. Fancy clothing has often been mended several times over, families have gone hungry to afford fancy jewellery, and all of this because any suspicion of people not being of an appropriate class would mean social ruin or worse for that individual. Commoners put on the impression of middle-class lifestyles, the middle-class pose as an upper-class and the aristocracy hold lavish balls and masquerades hey can barely afford.
This is all due to the influence of the Darklord, Duchess Saidra d’Honaire, who hosts lavish feasts and masquerade parties, but if any guest should appear less than the part they play, such as a button falling off their coat, she will prove merciless in her judgement of that individual, disintegrating such unworthy people. Everything in Dementlieu is an illusion, though often not magical, just a pretence of grandeur and the people suffer and struggle to maintain such illusions.
Almost as a metaphor for their lives, the masquerade parties held by Duchess d’Honaire are masked affairs that hide the truth of the individual, including their face. These masks are often worn in daily life ecoming almost as recognisable as a person’s real face.
The arisotcracy in Dementlieu are too busy keeping up appearances with their busy social calendars to run the domain in the right way. A governing body does exist with the governor, Marcel Guignol, at its head. He has 5 advisors picked from the aristocracy to support him in this role, including the Duchess Saidra d’Honaire herself as a hugely influential part of these councils. This group write the laws of the city and control a small city watch to maintain order and peace in the city.
Darklord: Duchess Saidra d’Honaire
Saidra was not born into nobility, though she always desired, and even felt entitled to such a position. Saidra grew up on a farm with her father who claimed he was an exiled duke having been removed from this position by a vicious younger brother. Saidra’s mother had died when she was young leaving just the 2 of them.
D’Honaire would lord her noble birthright over the other children of the area claiming superiority over them. This left her with no friends, but many playmates as she bullied her peers into submitting to her will.
When Saidra was a teenager, her father remarried an unkind, but wealthy woman with 2 equally unkind daughters. These 3 women treated Saidra as a serveant, despite her father’s requests that they treat each other kindly. The heavy labour imposed upon her left a bitterness in her heart, but even more bitter was the revelation that her father was not in fact of noble birth but had simply been the serveant of a duke (until he’d been caught stealing silverware). Saidra’s perspective had been smashed.
In despair, Saidra fled the house begging her mother for aid at her grave. A kind, grandmotherly being appeared before her granting her fine clothes and jewellery so that she could attend the masquerade ball that would celebrate the new Duke’s coronation. Saidra went with an intent to kill this new duke to claim his title as her own, but upon meeting him, they found one another irresistable, dancing until midnight with Saidra contemplating marrying into nobility instead.
When the clock struck midnight, a terrible plague struck all the guests and they began to die. In each others arms, the duke confessed that he was not actually the son of the previous duke, but the son of a man that had stolen silverware from the duke. He had been kept by the duke as his heir while the rest of his family were exiled. Furious with this pretender and that she had nearly fallen for her brother, Saidra stabbed her brother to death, dying herself of the plague not long after.
When Saidra regained her senses, she discovered herself to be a wraith, taken into the domain of Dementlieu. There she now hides her form as a wraith, pretending to remain mortal, wearing elegant gowns and hosting parties. The people of Dementlieu do not dare question this facade and go along with the lie. At night, Saidra d’Honaire demonstrates her true colours as a murderous spirit known as the Red Death, unmasking and killing pompous fools that dare pretend to be something they are not.
Locations in Dementlieu
The most lavishly decorated estate of Dementlieu, the d’Honaire estate is surrounded by leering gargoyles and lewd tapestries. It’s the home of Duchess Saidra d’Honaire and is also where she hosts her weekly masquerade balls. Her balls and home are served by a contingent of energetic ghouls, appropriately dressed up for the occassion, of course.
Mother of Tears Cathedral
The Mother of Tears Cathedral is dedicated to the god Ezra. Unlike the rest of Dementlieu, the clergy here show no favour towards those of any class or rank. Instead, all are treated equally. Little, however, is done to solve the class divides, rather, those that worship Ezra, weep for the horrors of the world as Ezra does.
Red Widow Theater
The Red Widow Theater is a lively and garish cabaret. It’s known for is provocative dancing (and other activities) as well as its shady dealings made within its walls. A gigantic, red spider statue sits on the roof, inviting guests into its web of decadent pleasures. Rumours abound of horrors even within this place of pleasure above all else. Some say shape-shifters tempt patrons to become their prey, some of these may even be shape-shifting giant spiders ready to consume unwitting customers.
Three Odd Gables
Three, crooked houses sit at the edges of Port-a-Lucine where a small coven of green hags ply their trade. They love to meddle in the affairs of mortal beings with their fey trickery. Often, they will help the poor to become able of penetrating the upper echelons of society. This seeming benevolence often reveals itself as something more sinister when patrons discover hidden catches in the deals they’ve struck.
Often, the aristocracy will talk of country estates and homes where they’ll spend extended vacations and where prosperous farms and villages import their goods into the city. The curious thing is that the mists of Ravenloft drift very close to th city leaving little space for farmland, in fact, nothing seems to come into the city at all. Like many things in Dementlieu, Chateaufaux is a lie that none bother to challenge, preferring to build upon this illusion of grandeur.