A fashionable adjunct to the Explorer's Society, primarily for women of means who dabble in archaeology or wish to support it.
Archaeology is quite fashionable in Theah's courtly circles, but not every aficionado has the skills to actually participate on digs. (Or the inclination. The work can be slow and dirty; not very appealing to most courtiers.) The Ladies' Auxiliary to the Explorer's Society began in Avalon, as a way for ladies to express their enthusiasm for archaeology without actually being archaeologists themselves. It has since spread, with chapters cropping up near most of the chapter houses. There is a movement afoot to change the group's name to simply the Society Auxiliary, to encourage men to join as well.
The Ladies' Auxiliary's primary goal is to support the Society in its scientific efforts. In this way, the ladies can feel that they are contributing to the march of progress. Their first line of support is organizing fundraisers, charity events, and the like, with proceeds going to the Society or a sponsored dig. They arrange invitation-only auctions of prized Syrneth artifacts, lectures by notable scholars and field scholars, and even balls where the nobility can meet the members of a celebrated dig team. Since the ladies are noblewomen themselves, they have the right connections to potential influential, rich donors. And most of them have much more charm than the average Society scholar, which means the donors are more likely to accept the invitations.
Some of the Auxiliary members are more enthralled by the romantic idea of archaeology rather than its reality, but a goodly number are more than happy to roll up their sleeves and actually assist. Owing their status and responsibilities, they cannot simply hie off on digs. They can, however, volunteer some of their time to working at the local chapter house, doing the grunt work of cleaning and cataloging items brought back from the field. They often end up working alongside students and trainees, and they may or may not take pains to conceal their proper identity when they do so. It can be quite vexing for an Avalonian lady to be pestered for political favors when she's trying to clean a piece of ancient Inish goldwork, or for a popular Dionna courtesan to be pestered for other favors while she's restoring the images on an ancient Numan vase.
If the lady in question holds lands which contain an archaeological site, she may volunteer to safeguard it against diggers. Usually, her family's guards will be employed for the task. In Eisen especially, the lady herself may appear, weapons at hand, to run off any unwanted intruders.
A young PC Explorer might find a Patron or Ally in the somewhat dowdy woman who's been working alongside him in the Catalog Room, when she turns out to be a comtesse.
Want an Explorer's exhibition, lecture, or charity event in Freiburg but can't see dour Madeline Bisset du Verre arranging such a fluffy thing? The Ladies' Auxiliary can do it for her.
PCs may not think about private property when they dash off to the latest Vodacce amber cave. Remind them that they need to negotiate permission with a squad of guards sent by an older gent whose courtesan begged it of him as a favor.
Auxiliary members could make excellent damsels in distress if they
stumble across some "small, local" find which ends up being neither
small nor of local interest. Numan ruins are fairly common in
mainland Vodacce, and are boring compared to Syrneth ones; the
Explorer's Society would be more than happy to let local Auxiliary
members volunteer to excavate them as time permits. Maybe one Scholar
could be assigned to the project, probably a young Scholar on his or
her first field assignment. A Field Scholar certainly isn't needed, and
if the site is on the property of an Auxiliary member, you wouldn't
think a Shield Man would be needed.
The Chase Adventure: the amateur archaeologists uncover a Remarkable Artifact of Great Value. One of the assistants disappears, probably running to agents of a Prince. Can the PCs stop the traitor before she gets to where she's going?
The Horror Adventure: A gaggle of female amateur archaeologists, a half-trained Scholar, a remote location, and no muscle to back them up sounds like the setup for a slasher movie. The dig unleashes some imprisoned monster. Someone "runs to go get help!" and finds the PCs.
The Siege Adventure: If you have a bunch of planny-tactical types, when the Remarkable Artifact of Great Value shows up and the traitor goes dashing off, ask the PCs to stay and arrange a welcoming reception for the Caligari (or other) diggers who will soon be showing up. They will spend the next two and a half hours coming up with traps and deadfalls. Round out the evening by running the long, long combat.
The Courier Adventure: The Remarkable Artifact of Great Value is also very portable. The Auxiliary knows that it is in over its head and, when the PCs roll through, they ask the Heroes to transport the object to a Society chapter house. In addition to the usual troubles caused by other people who want it, the Remarkable Artifact itself may give the PCs some trouble. You can play this straight (the Artifact has well-defined powers that do certain things to the PCs over time) or more for laughs (the Artifact does whatever is least convenient for the PCs at the time: emits a loud razzing sound when they're trying to hide, extinguishes all fire and light when they're fighting at night, plays the Domae Top 40 in the middle of a crowded marketplace).