Sunday, September 28, 2014
Session Two Recap
With our second session of Burning Wheel, we sat down to actually play the game. Well, we had to do some quick maintenance on the characters as we'd made some mistakes during character burning that had to be cleaned up. That was a quick process and so we were playing in short order. The Charred Online Character Burner proved to be a huge help. I wish I knew who wrote this program so I can give them a proper thanks. If you know, please let me know.
We started out in the city of Riismark, ancestral home of House Dale. The current Jarl of House Dale is Olaf Dale, my character's father. The Jarl has tasked me to gather a force and travel north to the wall to inspect the condition of the forts that stretch along the great length of the wall. In the Midnight setting, the wall is only a string of forts, but for our game we decided to make "the wall" an actual wall, like the Great Wall of China or the ice wall in Game of Thrones. There is a fort for each of the major Dornish houses and they have manned those forts for millenia to help keep the forces of the dark god Izrador at bay. Beyond the wall is the wild north, full of darkspawn and worse. Twice in the history of our world, Eredane, has Izrador attacked from the north. There are rumors that the darkspawn are active again and beginning to come over the wall in greater numbers. Jarl Olaf wants a report on the condition of the wall and the forts. He fears that the other great houses are no longer doing their duty to the realm and letting their forts fall to ruin. After all, it's been well over a thousand years since Izrador has last threatened the realms of man, elf, and dwarf. In fact, some claim that he's only a rumor and doesn't really exist. The dwarves and elves know the truth, but the elves are no longer interacting with humans and the dwarves just barely.
The game began with the players preparing to set off for the north. Since we are beginning characters, some of us were woefully under equipped. I petitioned my father, the Jarl, for supplies and troops, but he only agreed to supply horses. We felt that there was something he wasn't telling us so I went to his wife, my mother. She supplied us with a squad of soldiers and tasked us to be on the lookout for anyone from House Esben. She had heard rumors that they were unhappy with the reign of the current king, my grandfather and my mother's father. She was afraid that they may be causing trouble of some kind but had no concrete information. Finally, I visited with the Rangers of Riismark. They are a unit that I had held a commission with some time in the past, so I still had contacts. The Rangers confirmed that there are darkspawn stirring to the north and agreed to send twelve Rangers with us on our task.
While I was busy with my contacts, the other players made circles tests to gain information from their contacts. Thorin, the Dwarven smith hired by House Dale (at great expense) ascertained that there was a breach in the wall very close to the fort manned by House Esben. This, of course, stirred our suspicions. Thorin organized an expedition of craftsmen to travel north to make repairs to the wall and we assigned the dozen Rangers that I had gathered to guard their wagon train during their passage north.
Rysdan, the House "Questioner" decided to gain more information from the Jarl, but he was as tightlipped with him as he had been with me. Instead, Rysdan made contact with one of the Jarl's closest friends, whom Rysdan happened to have dirt on. The man, Lord Orm, confirmed our suspicions that the Jarl knew more than he was letting on, but wanted to try to keep his hands clean and to confirm his information from a reliable source, since he did not trust his own sources. The Jarl knew that the other Great Houses were no longer manning their houses. I was outraged to hear this and so had Daschell, the House Spymaster, pen me a stern and threatening letter to the Jarl of House Esben demanding a reception at their keep on the wall. Since I cannot read or write, I relied on Daschell to write the letter for me. Without my knowledge, he penned a far more polite and cordial letter than I had dictated to him.
We traveled north the next day at first light. The craftsmen caravan would be slow, so we agreed to go ahead and scout the breach. After several weeks on the road we came across a broken down wagon. The wagon had the markings of a House Esben banner house. We met Lord and Lady Gunnar, who were both very rude and crass, especially to me. I would have lost my temper on the spot and done something I would later regret had it not been for my companion and friend, Arvidus, who stepped in and helped calm the situation. Our interactions with the Gunnars led to more anger and Daschell even saw Lord Gunnar casting a spell to eavesdrop on our private conversations. Again, calmer heads prevailed and I did not have him horsewhipped on the spot.
It turns out that the Jarl of Esben had received my letter and had sent the Gunnars as his representatives to make the reception that I had demanded. They were on their way to the fort when their wagon wheel broke and we came across them. This was meant as a direct insult to me and my father and grandfather as the House of Gunnar is a lowly house, shamed many years ago for the use of necromancy and blood magic. Thorin reluctantly repaired the wagon and we had the Gunnars come with us to the breach, against their will of course.
At the breach, which was quite large, we found evidence of many darkspawn incursions. We also found evidence of magical markings on the north side of the wall that stretched for many miles to the east and the west. Arvidus, a war mage, discerned that the markings were used the focus magic and that the wall had been breached with a magical force of some kind that both scattered wall debris far and wide and caused the very foundation stones of the wall to sink into the earth. We were dealing with something quite powerful and quite organized.
We did our best that night to build some measure of fortification in the breach to try to slow down any darkspawn that might try to come through. We knew our efforts were mostly futile, but we felt we had to try something. Thorin had spotted what he called goblins in the woods north of the breach, which had us all on edge.
The night was uneventful but the next morning the Gunnars were as rude and demanding as during our trip to the breach with them. Rysdan interrogated them after Daschell had determined that they had broken the King's law in their lack of deference for my station and their use of magic against nobility. We were shocked to learn from them that House Esben was plotting a rebellion and were going to attempt to break away from the Torbault Kingdom. That was enough to convince me to put the Gunnars to death, but I was deterred from that course of action...for the moment.
We stopped the game at that point and awarded artha. We had a great time and we are very much looking forward to our next session. Blood, as they say, will be spilled....