Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Stallenwein lived a king and a queen who, try as they might, could not have a child. All agreed that they were both beautiful, of straight limb and clear complexion, had healthy diets consisting of proteins, starches, and fibers, and kept athletic regimes appropriate for their ages. But try as they might, with all the blessings of priest and populace, the royal crib remained empty. So desperate became the queen that she summoned an old witch woman from the forest and asked her to make a fertility charm. The witch, named Thalidomide, agreed, and fashioned a magical tincture that the queen consumed without a second thought. Within a fortnight she was pregnant, and the happy couple held a feast for all Stallenwein. Wine flowed from the capitol’s public fountain and one thousands cakes were baked for the event.
Nine months later the queen summoned her midwives and surgeons and retreated to the master bedroom. The time had come, and the happy villagers rattled the window panes with their cheers and joyful expectations. But fourteen hours later, their joy turned to horror. The queen birthed a son, which should have resulted in riotous celebration, but the baby was born without hands. Weeping, the queen held the crying newborn to her breasts. Her husband was furious, and ordered Thalidomide captured and dragged to the capitol for public execution, but when the royal guards burst down the door of her humble cottage in the woods, the witch had vanished, leaving all of her worldly possessions behind. Mourning settled on Stallenwein. In his despair, the king levied heavy taxes upon the burghers and villagers, and with that money raised a vicious army, drafting criminals, cutthroats, and any evil-minded person who was easily convinced into violence.
The queen did not despair. Despite his lack of hands, the prince was beautiful, bright, and charming. To overcome his disability, the queen ordered the court gnome to make a pair of wooden hands for the prince. The gnome, a clever engineer named Prosthetix, fashioned a pair of working hands, as nimble as an elf’s and as strong as a gorilla’s. Before attaching them to the boy, however, the king told Prosthetix to weave a final spell into the enchanted hands. Knowing that eventually the prince would become a man, and like all noble sons would eventually overthrow the king and take the kingdom, the king told the gnome to create a spell that would let the king control the prince’s hands, ordering his son’s hands to perform any deed upon the completion of a spoken magic phrase. Prosthetix complied, for though he loved the queen he knew who signed his paycheck, and the hands were so enchanted.
The prince grew into a young man, and the years between between boyhood and his 16th birthday were wondrous for him and joyful for the people of Stallenwein. The king relaxed his taxes and kept his vicious army occupied in the neighboring kingdoms of Bohemia and Bavaria. The king and queen decided to throw a ball for the prince’s 16th birthday. Unfortunately, none of the local girls would attend, for all were frightened by the princes wooden hands and the unsettling click-clack sounds his fingers made whenever the prince moved them. Furious, the king recalled his army and ordered the soldiers to capture all of the girls between the ages of 13 and 18 and bring them to the ball. Let loose on the land, the soldiers rushed through the kingdom. Since they were well-used to campaigning, and figured that theft and murder only spiced up a good kidnapping, they spread horrific slaughter throughout the land. Many villagers left their homes and hid in the deep, dark forest, but few escaped. Many daughters were captured and brought to the capitol in chains, as as the evening of the prince’s 18th birthday approached, the palace’s dungeon was stuffed with young women being made ready for the ball.
And then the kids from the Real World arrived . . .
This is the back ground to tonight’s game. The player characters enter the Grimm Lands as the soldiers are searching for dates for the prince. Naturally, they’ll get sucked into rescuing one of them, and just as naturally, that will probably be the one that the prince with wooden hands is most interested in.