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Basic Information

A baldachin is a canopy-of-state. That is, a canopy overhanging a throne, and then draping a tapestry behind and possibly on each side of, the throne. For the complete package, you'd also want the throne on a dias. Such tapestries are usually very fancy, possibly incorporating cloth of gold and imagery that reinforces the power and prestige of the person who owns the throne. Their coat of arms or similar royal emblem is likely to appear somewhere on it.

If there's a hidden space behind the baldachin for the Royal Guard to hang out, that's crossing into arras territory (and may be a bigger danger than it is a security feature, as having armed men hidden behind the King could easily backfire.

The term "baldachin" is sometimes also used for a similar canopy over or around an altar, such as in a cathedral. If the religious baldachin is of sturdier construction, such as with columns and a wooden roof instead of / in addition to the cloth canopy, then technically that's called a ciborium. The chuppa, beneath which the bride and groom stand during a Jewish wedding, is a similar sort of thing, but usually on a less grand scale.



Game and Story Use

  • Useful as a visual detail when describing the chambers of the Standard Royal Court.
  • The imagery on the baldachin may be a way to foreshadow or reinforce details about the person on the throne.
    • If their coat-of-arms depicts a ferocious beast that tells you something.
    • If the baldachin is old and weathered and depicts a major act by the current kings great-great-grandfather, then you know this guy's not accomplished much of his own worth bragging about, and doesn't have enough of a fortune to replace it.
  • If a castle or palace is captured, the baldachin might get hauled out, burned up, or desecrated as a symbol of the transition of power.
    • Meeting a former enemy under their own baldachin would be a good demonstration of power. It could provoke resentment, but would remind the current vassal who's in charge.
  • A portable baldachin on a wooden frame might accompany the royalty whenever they travel.
    • If that part of the caravan that transports the baldachin and banners were to get stolen, the PCs might be hired to chase it down.
    • The portable version enhances the king's majesty in at least one more way, as long as the materials are appropriate: he can hold court in the rain without getting wet, and might be the only one not soaked.
  • A fancy antique baldachin might make for an interesting treasure in an old ruin. Even if it's torn and mildewed, you can still burn it to melt the gold out of the cloth of gold.
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