The Bayeux Tapestry was a piece of monarchical propaganda produced by the Normans after 1066 to explain to their side of the conflict to illiterates. It was made in England somewhere: although precisely where is not clear. We know this because structurally it is not a tapestry at all: it’s an embroidery, and the techniques used, although known outside England, were not practiced at the scale or level of skill.
It was then shipped to Bayeux, to decorate a new chapel in the cathedral of Bishop Odo. Odo was William’s brother, and appears in the Tapestry itself. He’s wielding a club. The story that this is because he was forbidden from using swords because of his ecclesiastical office led to generations of Clerics in Dungeons and Dragons not being allowed blades.
The Tapestry is about 70 meters long, and about half a meter wide. It contains fifty scenes, and these are described with brief captions. The final caption was probably added in the !9th Century, and it’s only the latest rework to edit the contents of the tapestry. At least two sections of tapestry are missing. One of these is the final panel, so it is possible that it’s more than a single scene. One scholar estimates the missing section was a meter and a half long.
In 1220, the Tapestry is missing. It was hidden during a siege of the city last century. In the real world, it turns up again in a register of the cathedral’s possessions in the 15th Century. Finding treasure is one of the great plot hooks in roleplaying games, but that there’s a four century failure in the provenance of the Tapestry gives us additional opportunities.
Finding the Tapestry
- A Jerbiton magus interested in embroidery wants to examine the Tapestry, and asks the player characters to find it. If it is still within the precinct of the Cathedral, magic may prove unreliable.
- The tapestry has been destroyed, so you can make a new one, which contains useful images, and slide it into the cathedral, for a fortunate discovery. What would your characters like to include?
Contents of the tapestry
- There is a panel which shows a fleet of ghost ships. Did the Order cause that, as shown in a missing panel?
- There’s a comet linked to the ghost ships. Does this simply mean that it was a time of ill omen, or is it a hint that during the time of the comet, the Land of the Dead was closer, and easier to enter? Can necromancers make use of the time of the comet?
Missing panel options
- House Tytalus influenced the Norman invasion of Britain. One of them is in the missing coronation panel. Is he kneeling to the king, which is a great shame on his House, or is he giving power to the king, which is illegal, but still useful to the House if demanding concessions from the Crown?
- The damnatio memoraie of the Diedne was not complete in 1070. Does one of the magi shown in the panel carry a magic item shaped like the symbol of the proscribed House? It might have been looted during the War.
- The coronation panel shows the king making obeisance to a demon, hence the massacre at his coronation and his corpse exploding at burial. The king’s oath makes the Church lands he owns accessible to the demon and his servants.
- A missing panel shows a faerie aiding the king. The story of the faerie has been expunged so it cannot collect its fee, but if the panel revives the creature, it may claim a large section of the Crown’s territories, or aid those opposing the current king. Has a rival of the king set the characters up to rediscover the creature?