Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Flames of Rebellion - Session 3

Session 3 Recap

Unlike previous entries, where I've tried to write the recap in a narrative form, I'm going to try to write this one in such a way as to give more insight into the game.  I'll note the tests performed and the intent of the participants.  In this way I hope to make the recaps more entertaining and informative for the experienced Burning Wheel player.

Session Three opened just after the assault on the sanctuary of the Blood of the Dragon house.  The three characters were discussing the outcome and their future plans when a large contingent of guards arrived.  They were led by the Duke's Watch Captain himself.  The Watch Captain immediately arrested Lord Fergus and his associates, Magnus Sedrig and Arik Ka'Mael.  The Captain refused to answer any of Fergus' questions, instead telling him that he was to escort the trio immediately to the Duke.  Arriving at the palace, the trio were asked to voluntarily surrender their weapons.  Arik, a proud Sarcosan, refused.  He was placed in a secure room with a handful of palace guards while Fergus and Sedrig were escorted into the Duke's chambers.  The Duke was livid that Fergus performed what he called a "military operation" in his city without consult or permission.  He ordered Fergus to cease all activity immediately or be stripped of rank and expelled from the city.  Fergus attempted to explain to the Duke the importance of his operation in light of the assassination threats, but the Duke was not willing to look beyond his embarrassment and loss of status at having his authority usurped by Fergus.  A test resulted from the argument, Fergus using Persuasion to convince the Duke to allow his investigation to continue, while the Duke used Command to force Fergus to cease his activities.  Fergus scored 4 successes versus the Duke's 2, so he was able to convince the Duke to back down.  The Duke agreed to allow the investigation to continue as long as it was low-key and that all military actions be pre-approved.

Before they could leave, however, the Duke noticed Magnus and asked Fergus why he would associate with a known criminal and House traitor.  Magnus took the opportunity to attempt to warn the Duke about the information he had learned from the Elves, which was the rising of the Shadow and the imminent threat of invasion from the north.  He pulled out the Eredane Compact to show the Duke.  The Duke was impressed as he looked over the document and, after rolling it back up, gave it to his personal sorcerer, who left the room with it.  Magnus, incensed at having the important document taken from his without comment, attempted to use Mage Sight to ascertain the Duke's motives.  He feared that the Duke might be in league with the Shadow.  A test ensued in which Magnus scored no successes.  His eyes glowed brightly from the miscast spell and it was evident to all in the room that he had attempted to use a sorcerous ability on the Duke.  The Duke immediately called for the arrest of Magnus and Fergus both.  Magnus was seized and forced to the ground, but Fergus countermanded the Duke's orders with such authority that he was allowed a test of his Command skill.  Versus an ob of 5, Fergus rolled 5 successes.  The men hesitated enough to allow Fergus to try to persuade the Duke to rescind his arrest order against him.  He made no attempt to save Magnus.  Fergus' ob was 5 as he made his attempt.  Should he fail, he would be charged with treason and face a possible death sentence.  He failed.  Fergus' player decided to invoke the Persona Point Complication rule.  He called for his father, the Earl of Redgard, to show up and change the outcome in some way.  When this rule in invoked, the situation changes but must still be bad or costly.  Here's what happened:  The Earl, Roland Redgard, and his retinue, arrived at the Duke's chambers on a matter unrelated to the current situation.  They had come to report that the Earl's own daughter, Caitlin, had stolen the House Weapon and fled with it in the company of the infamous insurrectionist, Vigur the Scarred.  She had declared her love for him and had refused to marry any suitor that her father had brought forward.  To make matters worse, she had wounded her father in a brief scuffle as he attempted to prevent the theft.  The loss of the weapon was a bitter blow, but the betrayal of the daughter was almost more than Earl Redgard could handle.  He called upon the Duke to lend aid and for his son, Fergus, to retrieve both Caitlin and the weapon, a hammer called Khiran-Thul, the Flame of the North.  The Duke agreed but still stripped Fergus of his rank and authority.  He was to be placed in his father's custody and could no longer participate in any official activities.  The matter of his treason charge would be brought up again after the threat to House Redgard had been resolved.

In the confusion of the Earl's arrival, Magnus took the opportunity to sneak away (A successful stealth test with advantage against the guard's Perception).  He slipped out of the palace and made his way beyond the city gates, to the Sarcosan tent-city.

After the Duke and his men left, Fergus shared the information that he had gathered about the assassination plots against the Earls and against Jahzir, Sharif of the Bitter Wind Host.  To his surprise, Roland urged Fergus to allow the assassinations to take place.  He saw it as an excellent opportunity to throw the kingdom into chaos and seize the throne for himself.  He believed that following the Duke's death, he could step in and rally the Great Houses and finally throw off the shackles of Sarcosan rule, especially with the death of the leader of the Kalif's largest Host.  Fergus, while in favor of House Redgard rising to rule the North, disagreed with the timing and felt it would be too difficult to fight a war on two fronts, against those who would support the dead Duke's house and against the Sarcosans, eager for vengeance from having their leader slain.  A Duel of Wits ensued in which the Earl almost won in the first volley with a well-timed Dismiss, but was then crushed in the third volley by his son's Point.  Roland did manage to win a major compromise, however.  He agreed to allow Fergus to prevent the assassinations, but insisted that the Duke must die.  He made Fergus swear to call the Duke to personal combat in the near future to dethrone him, a Dornish custom but one that had not been invoked in recent memory.  Fergus reluctantly agreed to the compromise.

Arik's Escape by John Love
In the secure room, Arik was treated well and even fed, but was forced to suffer the racist insults the guards whispered to him under their breath.   Finally, after hearing a commotion from the nearby Duke's chamber, a second group of guards entered the room to arrest him.  Arik, having only heard the muffled cries of "traitor" and "arrest" through the thick walls, decided that escape was a better option than arrest.  He hurled himself through a window in the room and plummeted to the courtyard below where, as per his instinct, his horse had been tethered.  Despite a superficial wound from the window and a light ankle wound, Arik galloped from the city, intent on reaching his brother's tent.

Arik reached Jahzir's pavilion only to find him distracted and angry.  He seemed almost obsessed with something on a low table, covered in a thick linen.  Arik asked him about his mood and found that he had recently had a star reading by the Sahi, Sunulael.  Sunulael had told him that his mission was doomed to fail because of his own hubris and temper.  Of course, this news troubled and angered Jahzir.  Arik attempted to calm him by offering to perform a second reading, but realized that he did not have the necessary tools to make a proper go of it.  Instead, he invoked a Sarcosan custom that stresses the importance of family over religion in order to gain Jahzir's trust and distract him from Sunulael's reading (this was done with a successful Sarcosan Custom-wise roll).

At that moment, a guard entered and announced the arrival of a disheveled Dornish lord, who was seeking an audience with Jahzir.  Magnus was shown into the tent.  He attempted to share the warnings of the Elves, but found Jahzir too agitated and distracted to listen.  He noted Jahzir's obvious obsession with the object under the table and used sorcery to create a distraction.  He succeeded and caused Arik and Jahzir to hear a cry for help from outside the tent.  When they rushed out to investigate, he peered under the linens and found the Moon Axe of House Orin, lost months ago in the Battle of Low Rock.  He did not know the significance of the Moon Axe being in Jahzir's possession, but doubt began to creep into his mind.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Journal of the Lord Constable, Part 2

Upon leaving to meet with Skotha Orin. I found myself waylaid by a messenger giving me an order and a warrant from the Duke to go to the docks and arrest Magnus Sedrig. I’d heard rumors of a missing son of the family, it seems he’s resurfaced.

Luckily the arrest was without incident. Some representatives of house Sedrig where already waiting. It appears my attendance in the arrest was required only to add weight and as a favour. Regardless one of House Sedrig’s men Vallo appeared to have some personal stake of vendetta against Magnus. I stepped in and ensured that Magnus was treated appropriately as befits his house. Though the man was clearly maddened, and kept raving about our doom or something of the ilk. So perhaps the gesture was wasted.

Regardless I left him to be taken by the guards while I left to proceed with conducting the business of the day.

Skotha gladly granted me an audience at his lodgings. With him was his dwarven advisor, Kharak. Taking the direct tact, I told him that I had knowledge of his assassination plans. At first he denied it as most men would. But with a small nudge he revealed it to be true, I fear the wound is too fresh for him to ignore. I tried appealing to his sense of logic. But it appears to have abandoned him. Blinded by a lust for revenge he refused to care that his plan could ignite a war. The man even refused to stop his plan after I spoke of beginning talks of creating a bond of marriage between our houses. A shame for him. His house would have prospered greatly if he had cleared his mind of this folly. However as it stands, I feel the house may soon fall into disgrace.

This meeting was not un-fruitful though. As Skotha begged his leave, Kharak made it clear he wished to speak to me. He told me of Skotha’s descent into what he fears madness. And that his son was no fit match for a Redgard woman. This information surprised me. For surely things must be bad for House Orin if their adviser speaks ill of the family.

Father and me had talked about securing House Orin’s support because of their dwarven allies. Kharak made it fairly apparent to me without outright saying it, that House Orin wouldn't be required to get these dwarves on our side.

He also revealed his knowledge of the plot Skotha had started with the insurrectionists “The Blood of the Dragon” as well as their current location. Rarely does such a good lead fall upon one's lap.
But before I left I hinted to Kharak that my sister remains unmarried and that perhaps there was a Kurgun suitor. He brushed off the idea, but did hint himself that they relied on House Orin for land. If that's the case then I’m sure after explaining to father, House Redgard could find a suitable location for them to settle if they no longer wanted to rely upon house Orin.

Wanting to act quickly I went back to the prison with an intention of pardoning the Redgard guerrilla forces that did not manage to smuggle themselves in successfully. My Huscarls would not be able to assault the building with our current numbers.

However I was met by Magnus being escorted out of his cell, and by Arik. Who apparently was hoping to find me, and by good fortune was accompanied by the men I had assigned to him. Quickly counting numbers including the town guard escorting Magnus, I figured we would have enough men as it was.

Since I now had a solid lead I revealed to Arik my knowledge of the second assassination plot to kill his brother. Naturally he jumped on the opportunity to go and deal with these men. As we marched he informed me of his limited success with the other plot. He had learned of a woman who is not familiar to me, and that some poison was brought into the city to be used. Magnus also followed our march. As tempting as it was to have him removed from the scene when I pulled in a town guard patrol to create a barrier around the house; I was also interested to see if he had any magical competency to him like many in his House.

Arik immediately began formulating a plan. I haven’t yet measured the man, so I commanded the troops to defer to his decision in the matter. His brother's life was at stake here, so I felt him worthy of my trust.

With quick action and overwhelming superiority we made short work of any resistance. Each and every man proved themselves in the assault. Magnus included, perhaps I was wrong about him?
As we took stock of our captives we identified a man called Sven Ar Dor as the leader. The coward was more than ready to provide information to us, perhaps in the hope of a lesser punishment. Disturbingly though he revealed that Vijur was not among them, that he had been expelled and was planning to kill the Jahzir alone.

Before taking the captives to a cell I made sure to praise the men for what they did. Arik showed himself at that point to be a somewhat detached noble.

“They performed their role”

Or something of the ilk. Making sure they will be justly rewarded for going beyond “Performing their role” I will recommend the guards to their superior and make sure each man drinks well at the tavern tonight.

Now we return to the prison with our captives. Perhaps they think by surrendering they will be spared. But I have a plan to make an example of these men...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Journal of Magnus Sedrig

From the Journal of Magnus Sedrig

...entry in some time. Hopefully it is not my last.

Moonday the 1st of Redfall, 890 TA - Morning

Well, the long voyage is over. Today I will set foot upon Dornish soil for the first time in fifteen years (or is it sixteen now?). The black-sailed ship hasn’t been seen since my last entry, which is a relief. It’s un-academic to jump to conclusions, but I can’t help but think the enemy has already been alerted to my movements. Hopefully, they where just pirates.

After so much time in their absence I don’t know what to expect from my fellow Dorns. My father will be present at Erenhead and that will be uncomfortable, I plan to avoid the man until my work here is done but afterwards I suppose I’ll have to face him. I doubt he’ll forgive me, but an explanation is the least a father can expect from his own son no matter how estranged. In any case, my loyalties lie elsewhere now… I need to focus on my mission.

My own people are not weak but the Sarcosans are the true power among the mannish kingdoms. Any alliance against the shadow will require their strength and political influence, and so I will start with them. My plan is to approach the Sarcosan camp directly and request an audience with the Sharif.

My name doesn’t carry enough weight, especially these days, for such treatment BUT the Eredene Compact and Queen Aradil’s ring should grant me a chance to relay a message at least. I admittedly don’t know much about the Sharcosan commander, but hopefully a man of his rank will be intelligent enough to see reason.

IN JAIL NOW! Father’s orders. Think I managed to scare the guards into getting me processed faster, not enough to release me. Guards waiting at dock, no chance to avoid. Tried to warn them. Mistake. Didn’t listen. Idiots.

Moonday the 1st of Redfall 890 TA - Evening

It’s been an eventful day. The agent’s of the dark lord are already here!

My time in jail turned out to be short lived. It seems Father just wanted to talk, I’d have preferred he ask nicely but it is what it is (I may be a bad son but I’m not a total ignoramus). Anyway, it didn’t go well. He was disappointed in me for abandoning my house (which, let’s be fair, I did do). I made it clear I was no longer loyal to house Sedrig, and informed him of my mission. Like most people I’ve met so far in Erenhead he seemed completely unconvinced that I’ve been sent here to warn them about Izrador’s return. He didn’t even believe me when I explained where I’d been all these years. He called me mad.

Oh well, at least he saw fit to release me. As I was being escorted from the prison I happened upon Fergus Redgard (he’s the lord constable of the north, and one of the men that arrested me earlier). He was about to say something to me, when a Sarcosan warrior (I later learned his name was Arik) called out it him. I tried to press upon this man the danger we were in and let him know I must speak with his leader. He didn’t listen and I’m afraid I rather lost my temper. Ignoring me, the pair proceeded to share the details of two plots they were investigating. A group of assassins are planning to poison the Dornish earls, the conspirators interrogated so far have no recollection of who hired them and why.

Not only that but some Dornish rebels were planning to assassinate the Sharif (who is also Arik’s brother) TODAY and if we wanted to stop them action needed to be taken NOW!

We proceeded to the nearby house the conspirators were using as a base and Fergus ordered his to men to attack the building. I was tasked with ensuring the enemy did not get a chance to attack our troops from above, so I poured searing light into the upper windows of the building to keep heads down (or scorched off). I’m not quite sure how long the battle lasted, but at some point I was instructed to cease immolating windows and it was over. It seems we were too late, unfortunately, one of the captured rebels divulged that a man named Vijur is still unaccounted for and he intends to kill the Sharif THIS EVENING!

This CANNOT be allowed! It will lead to war between the Dorns and Sarcosans. No one will oppose the Dark Lord’s return and we will all be subjected to an eternity of wretched servitude!

[Session 3]

Moonday the 1st of Redfall 890 TA - Later Still

This situation grows more complex by the moment, much has happened in the past few hours. I am writing this entry from the Sarcosan camp, where I have hidden myself from the Dornish authorities until I know what to do. I believe if they where to get their hands on me now I would once more find myself thrown into a Dungeon, with a vastly reduced chance of early release this time.

The unfortunate series of events that led to my current predicament began shortly after we had dispatched the members of “The Blood of the Dragon” (turns out that’s what those Dornish assassins were calling themselves). The Bailiff of Erenhead arrived shortly after the commotion had died down and ordered Fergus, Arik and myself to accompany him to Duke Torbault’s chambers. Fair enough, I thought, we did just slay more than a dozen men in broad daylight so we should PROBABLY explain ourselves.

A brief walk later, Fergus and I (Arik made a fuss about being disarmed, and so had to wait outside) find ourselves before the most powerful Dorn in Erenland. Much to my disappointment Duke Torbault seemed COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL. He was outraged that Fergus had acted without his consent. Regardless of how essential instant action had been at the time. Eventually, after much placation, the Duke finished his tantrum and we were dismissed. I requested a moment of his time, after all I might not get another opportunity to deliver the Queen’s message to this man.

After hearing my message, the  Duke was sceptical LIKE EVERYONE IN THIS INSANE PLACE! As proof that I was indeed sent by Queen Aradil of the Elves, I showed the Duke the Eredane Compact. This was a mistake. The snake STOLE  the compact from me, and after I called the SPINELESS THIEF out for the BLATANT crime he’d just committed, he threatened to have me imprisoned! Fergus, playing the diplomat, almost convinced me to leave before I did something stupid. Almost. Suspecting the Duke a secret underling of the dark lord, I attempted to use my gift to read his intentions. In my rage I failed to be subtle, however, my channeling was noticed. That’s when all hell broke loose. Thankfully at that moment Fergus’s father, The Earl Redguard, arrived with his personal retinue demanding to know why his son had been detained. I didn’t catch much of what was said between the two rulers, but in the confusion I slipped away quietly.

Note to self: I never did get my sword back.  Must acquire new sword.

Assuming the Duke’s order to have me arrested still stood, I decided the safest place to hide out was the Sarcosan camp. At least until I could think of a plan to retrieve the compact from the Duke’s clutches. Upon attempting to gain entry to the camp I was “taken into custody” for the fourth time today, though Arik’s name saw that no harm came to me. I was taken to a large tent at the front of the camp and deposited before the Sarcosan as he spoke with his brother, the Shariff, and filled them in on the Duke’s tracheary. The pair were discussing whether to continue Sarcosan support of Duke Torbault after today’s events, Arik seemed to think Fergus a more suitable leader of the Dorns under the Sarcosans. A sentiment I entirely agree with. It did occur to me that this moment was an opportunity to deliver my message to the Sharif, but he seemed frustrated and I was feeling chagrined from my earlier failure so I decided to await for a more opportune moment. Besides, my mission is to ensure peace and that seems to be the Sharif’s goal as well. For now at least.

While I was quietly listening to the brothers’ argument, I noticed the Sharif was playing with some large object under a cloth beneath the table in a nervous manner. A  suspicious manner even. Call it paranoia, but I had to see what he kept checking on so anxiously. I distracted the pair with a quick illusion spell and took a peek under the cloth. The Sharif has the MOON AXE OF HOUSE ORIN in his tent! I don’t know what this means, but it must have some importance in the events to come. Maybe he wants to make peace with House Orin? I hope that’s it, the alternative explanations are troubling.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Flames of Rebellion - Session 2

Session 2 Recap

Session two opens with Arik Ka'Mael in the tent of the would-be assassins.  He's subdued Ravadi Al'Afik and is attempting to question him. Ravadi resists the interrogation, so Arik uses his spear to "soften him up" and asks again, this time using more torturous techniques.  Ravadi screams, but claims he does not remember who hired him.  When pressed, Ravadi begins to spasm and convulse.  Before Arik can react, though, he and his henchman, Dumik, are attacked.  Two assailants slit the tent walls and enter, engaging Arik.  A third presses the attack against Dumik, who had been guarding the entrance to the tent.  Arik springs into action and, with almost supernatural speed, dispatches one of the attackers and lays the second low with a blow to the head.  He quickly finishes off Dumik's attacker, but not before Dumik takes a wound to the abdomen.  Ravadi, who attempted to crawl from the tent during the melee, is pinned to the earth with Arik's spear and killed.  Dumik, seeing a crowd gather outside the tent, suggests that they take their interrogation beyond the borders of the tent city.  Taking the remaining assassin, they mount their horses and ride a few miles into the rolling hills to the south of Erenhead.  There, they uncover some of the plot. Ravadi and his henchmen were tasked with smuggling a cask of vile poison into Erenhead, which they accomplished this very morning.  They turned the cask over to young Dornish woman, dark of hair and dark of eyes.  Her left ear, the assassin remarks, looked like it had been chewed on by a rat. This assassin also could not remember who hired him or when.  He is dispatched to Jahzir's tent in Dumik's custody while Arik rides hard for Erenhead.

The Lord Constable, Fergus Redgard, sets out from his apartments in the Ducal Palace.  He intends to visit the inn currently occupied by the Earl of House Orin, Skotha.  He is intercepted by a messenger with an order to proceed to the docks and arrest one Magnus Sedrig, who will be coming in today on a ship called the Grey Lady.  Fergus gathers his personal guard around him and proceeds to the docks, where he is met by a representative of House Sedrig, their Galdr, Vallo Embridge.  Vallo, a vile man, is there to ensure that Magnus is properly arrested.  When Magnus disembarks, he is arrested by Fergus without struggle and taken to the palace dungeons.  On the way, he attempts to convince the guards that he has an important mission.  He backs up his works with a show of illusory magic.  The guards do not release him, but they report the incident to the Duke.   Magnus is not in jail long before his father, Earl Agnar Sedrig, visits him.  He asks why Magnus ran away from the academy all those years ago and accuses him of betraying his trust and dishonoring his house. Magnus tries to tell his father of Queen Aradil's warning of the gathering shadow in the north, but Agnar dismisses his words as madness.  He asks that Magnus be escorted out of Erenhead and not return.

<Flashback Scene>  Magnus is preparing to depart Caradul, the capital city of the Elves deep in the forest of Erethor.  He is called before the Witch-Queen, Aradil, ruler of the Elven Nation.  She bids him farewell and asks that he take warning of the rise of Izrador in the North to his people.  It is imperative that the human lands be prepared to do their part should Izrador rise again and threaten the people of the South.  She also asks, if he can, to investigate why the Dwarven nation of King Dhurik has stopped communicating with the elves.  She fears the worst and would know what is amiss.  To aid in his quest, Aradil gives Magnus a ring that she has imbued with a thread of her own magic, called the Spirit of Erethor.  The magic of the ring will aid him in his attempts to warn his brethren. She also gives Magnus an ancient scroll, the Eredane Compact, a treaty signed by the elves, dwarves, and all the original Great Names of the Dorn.  This treaty, she hopes, will remind the human kingdoms of their promise of mutual defense should the need arise.  She, once again, impressed upon him the importance of this task and sends him on his way.

After arresting Magnus and sending him to the palace dungeons, Fergus proceeds to his original destination, the Duke's Bounty Inn, which has been taken over for the duration of the moot by House Orin.  He requests an audience with Earl Skotha Orin and his dwarven advisor, Kharak of the Kurgun.  At the meeting, Fergus reveals that he knows of the Orin plot to assassinate the Sharif of the Bitter Wind Host to avenge the attack upon his caravan and the subsequent battle that saw Orin's eldest daughter and heir killed. The battle that also saw the loss of the House Legacy Weapon, a dwarven-made axe called the Moonblade.  Orin, at first, denies the claims, but when pressed, admits that he would not be turned from his course and would see Sarcosan blood spilled.  Fergus detects a hint of madness in Orin's demeanor, yet still offers his sister's hand in marriage to Orin's eldest son to strengthen the bond between the Houses.  Orin refuses, but is intrigued by the prospect.  Kharak asks to speak to Fergus privately after the Earl had departed.  He informs Fergus that the Earl is a bit mad and that a marriage into House Orin would not be a good idea.  He informs Fergus that Orin had hired a mad-dog insurrectionist by the name of Vijur to carry out the assassination.  He tells him that Vijur can be found in a house along the north wall of the city, in the tannery district. Vijur's group, The Blood of the Dragon, is the group that has been known to paint their symbol around the city and, previously, had done nothing more than bully and harass Sarcosan merchants.   Fergus departs, intent on gathering as many men as possible to assault the house and arrest Vijur, whom he has a history with as his sister, Caitlin, claims to be in love with this vile criminal.

Fergus and Arik meet up and they share the details of the two plots they are both investigating.  They spot Magnus as he is being escorted from the jails and Fergus takes custody of him.  Magnus, a trained Galdr, agrees to help Fergus in exchange for letting him stay in the city and setting up a meeting with the Duke.  Fergus rallies a small group of soldiers and they locate the house in question. They decide to assault the structure.  Arik leads a force through the backdoor while Fergus leads his group through the front.  Magnus lends his magical aid in covering the windows.  A massive battle ensues as the resistance is fierce in the house.  Arik, once again, fights like a zephyr and impresses the Dornish men.  Magnus rains magical fire on the assailants who attempt to hurl burning oil down upon the attackers. Fergus' tactical planning is perfect and many insurrectionists are killed, but a few are captured, including Vigur's second in command, Sven Ar Dor.  Vigur is not in the house as he was expelled by Ar Dor in a power move and has formed another splinter movement.  Vigur is still expected to carry out the attack on Jahzir this very evening....

Thus ends Session 2

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Journal of the Lord Constable, Part 1

I was foolish to think that I could have anything more than an illusion of family life with Kali. It was nice to be reminded of how it once was. Even if just for one night.

Inevitably duty put a stop to it.
Early before we broke our fast; Earl Vildar Esben came to visit our guest quarters. The look on his face immediately clued me into the fact he had something of import to share.

I noticed Kali lingering at the chamber door. I thought perhaps if she got a taste for the business I regularly conduct; she may perhaps begin to understand. Understand why and what keeps me from coming back to our estate. Why I try to keep her away from the unpleasantries of my duty. She is too delicate to deal with such matters unlike a Dornish woman. She later proved I was right in that assumption, but I get ahead of myself.
Earl Esben told me of House Orins intention to assassinate Jahzir Ka’Mael. To provoke war, and to reap revenge for the loss of Skotha’s daughter and the houses ancestral weapon. Such plots are to be expected. I would have been naive to think that there wouldn't be one, but I did not expect so certain a lead be handed me. Nor that the lead would be given by Earl Esben.

I think the young Earl looks to me as a potential ally. He is young and his house small. It is good that he seems to want to do his part for the stability of the realm. Though something he said at the end of the meeting makes me think otherwise. He claimed I was indebted to him, as a result of him bringing this information to me. This selfish statement of his will not help him quench any rumors or gain him allies.

After the Earl’s departure I was allowed another bittersweet moment with Kali. For some reason I didn't call for a squire to help me don my armour after we ate. I think I just wanted our quiet moment alone to last just that little longer, even if she really didn't have much of an idea how to put on the armour.

Of course the moment was short once more. A cousin of Kali requested an audience with her. Arik Ka’Mael. Having never met my wife's family and intrigued by such a request I stayed to meet this man. The face he wore showed me that he was here for more than just a reunion.

He revealed something I had not expected. A second plot was underway, lead by some Sarcosans within the visiting host.  

My luck has not yet ran out it seems. Arik has personally undertaken the task of stopping the would be assassination. Regardless I pledged my assistance to him on the matter. Granting him access around the city under my name. Additionally I must now ready a small group of soldiers should he ever need their assistance within the city or palace. I have much to deal with already, and I hope my trust in this man is not betrayed. This is a delicate political matter, and I must rely upon him to resolve it, for I cannot enter the Sarcosan camps and begin making arrests.

The meeting ended badly however. Arik spotted my wife's servant Samira listening to the conversation, and quickly grabbed her for a sudden interrogation. Kali was still in the room however. I knew she did not have the heart for this kind of thing, so asked her to leave. But it came out bluntly. The entire event distressed her I could tell. But this is my life. This is why I have kept her I away from it all.

Arik interrogated Samira well enough. And she gave answers that satisfied him and sounded reasonable to me. If it weren't for the fact that my wife were already so distressed I would have thrown Samira into a prison cell regardless. I allowed sentiment to cloud reason though, and she was allowed to return to her duty. If I catch her doing something again, so god help her.

Once again I’ve failed to make my wife happy. But I must push on regardless. Carry out my duty and prevent my nation from plunging itself into ruin.

“Honour the Name”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Flames of Rebellion - Session 1

Session 1 Recap

The game opens with an initial scene between Arik, second in command of the Bitter Wind Host, and Sunulael, Sarcosan wizard and religious leader.  Arik is summoned early in the morning on the day before the House Moot to Sunulael's tent.  The tent is large and decorated to resemble a starry sky, bits of metal sewn to the tent twinkle like stars in the light of the rising sun.  There is also a tall pole with a star atop it planted outside the tent, the symbol of the Sarcosan religion (The Sorshef).

Inside the tent, Sunulael gestures for Arik to join him at a low table surrounded by plush pillows.  At first, Arik refuses.  Sunulael grows irritated and commands him to sit, which forces Arik to reluctantly comply.  Though they are of the same caste, Sunulael is the more honored member.  A strong, black coffee is served and Sunulael stares across the table into Arik's eyes.  His gaze is both powerful and intimidating and Arik is forced to make a steel test to maintain eye contact.  Arik returns the gaze steadily until Sunulael finally smiles wryly and looks away.  Finally, Sunulael reveals his reason for summoning the Jei'Sharif of the Bitter Wind Host.  He has had a powerful vision and he brings warning to Arik that members of the Host are planning to assassinate the leaders of the Dornish Houses during the Moot.  Arik is incredulous, but Sunulael convinces him that the stars never lie, though their messages are often misinterpreted by mere mortals.  He brings this knowledge to Arik out of respect and states clearly that he cannot approach Jahzir as they are rivals and Jahzir would not take his warnings to heart.  Arik, he says, is clear of mind and even of temper and will act upon the warning responsibly and in a way that will not bring shame to both Jahzir and his Host.  Sunulael instructs Arik to seek out one called Ravadi Al'Afik, whose name was revealed among the stars.  He is connected to the plot in some way.

In the city, the Constable of the North, Lord Fergus Redgard, has a surprise visitor to his suite of rooms in the Ducal Palace.  Earl Vildar Esben, a thin, sickly looking young man, newly risen to power in House Esben, requests an immediate audience with Fergus.  He brings with him his new slave/bodyguard, a T'mek tribesman from the far away Pellurian continent, many weeks travel by sail to the south of Erenland.  Fergus does not react to the presence of the savage warrior in the way that Esben had hoped, so gets right down to business.  Fergus, Esben points out, should know that the House Esben spy network is without equal in the North.  Those spies have uncovered what can only be described as an effort to see Jahzir, Sharif of the Bitter Wind Host and representative of His Majesty, the Kalif, assassinated this night, during his planned tour.  Esben claims to have direct evidence linking House Orin to this plot.  Fergus, somewhat skeptical due to the poor reputation that Esben has among the Great Houses, promises to investigate with all the power of his office.  Esben makes a point of reminding Fergus that this information comes with a cost, a favor due to House Esben when and where Vildar deems it appropriate.  Fergus half-heartily agrees to the debt.  

Arik, troubled by the news he has received, decides to enter the city and seek out his cousin, Kali, who is the wife of the Constable of the North, Fergus Redgard.  He seeks her counsel and, if all goes well, that of her husband.  Arik, after some difficulty with the Dornish guards, is finally allowed to see her in her suite, but only in the presence of her husband.  Kali is thrilled to see her cousin and she happily introduces him to her husband.  The two men offer greetings stoically, appraising each other carefully.  Finally, through their shared love for Kali, they agree to exchange information and to assist each other.  During the conversation, however, Kali's maid, Samira, is caught eavesdropping through a closed door.  Arik roughly drags her into the room and, with Fergus' approval, questions her motivations.  She manages to win an opposed test and convinces the two men that she was merely interested in the well being of her mistress, as she had heard voices raised in anger.  Arik does not fail to notice, however, the look of black, bitter hatred that briefly crosses her features as she glances at Lord Fergus.

The two men agree to work together and share information as they proceed with their individual investigations.

Arik rushes out of the city to find his loyal follower, Dumik ibn Surani, to assist him in finding the person involved in the plot, Ravadi Al'Alik.  After some difficulty escaping the notice of the Host riders who were curious as to the presence of the Jei'Sharif among them, Arik and Dumik arrive at a tent on the outskirts of the camp.  Entering the tent, Arik attempts to arrest Ravadi, who prostrates himself at Arik's feet.  When Arik accuses him of plotting the death of the Dornish Earls, Ravadi screams out that he has been betrayed and attempts to push past Arik toward the tent opening.  Arik skillfully swings his spear haft into Ravadi's shins and lays him low.  He begins to interrogate the man as the game session ends...

GM Note - We had a third character who participated in this game, Vijur the Scarred, but the player decided at the end of the session not to continue his involvement.  Burning Wheel is not everyone's cup of tea and we wish him the best.  The actions of his character were isolated from the others during this first session, so I did not include them in the recap.  There will be new character joining us in session two.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Diary of Kali Al'Akani Redgard

Diary extracts of Kali Al'Akani Redgard

...I’m getting quite good at writing Samira says. She said I should practice every day. One day I’ll be a lady married to a Sharif, and I must learn much of how to be a good wife. My sister Khulan has been showing me how to....

...I heard that I have been matched with a suitable husband. So soon? I don't feel ready. What If I can't make him happy? I feel too young. I must leave everything behind. He lives far away across an ocean. He’s Dornish, I’ve never heard of anyone here marrying a Dorn...

…Its not so bad at sea though. Even if Samira has spent most of the time puking over the side of the boat. I do hope she feels better soon, she’s my real teacher. The others can't teach as well as her…

...its a long journey but not long enough. Samira still has so much to teach me, what if I’m not good enough for him?...

… It went terribly. I knew I’d mess things up. But what did I do wrong? Everything seems so different here. He was so tall and intimidating, his hair was the colour of fire. I must have looked so small and stupid. He just looked at me with a sullen glance, then walked away…

...Maybe this beautiful dress will give him something to smile at. After the fitting I saw how I looked and it's given me confidence to try again. I will be his beautiful bride and we can start our lives together....

… But his face. Not once did he smile. Am I that disappointing to him? At the end of our vows he had to get down on his knee to kiss me. He looked embarrassed as he did. Is what people back at the palace whispered right? Is it wrong for a Dornish man to marry a Sarcosan? Will Fergus ever accept me?...

...Its just Samira left with me now. The others have all gone back home. Samira is nice to me, but she’s my teacher not a friend. I’m so alone. I’m told Fergus is leaving already to travel the realm. Why am I not going, I thought we’d be spending some time together? His sisters are my age, but they are so much taller and stronger. They wear men's armour and fight with a sword...

...Fergus came back, but it was just another chance for me to show him how much a of a little girl I still was. We were sat together at the feast. I couldn't read his face but at least he didn't look disappointed at me. But his sisters. They shared some Mead with me. I wanted to be part of their fun. Samira told me women don't drink it, I see why now. I embarrassed myself throwing up for the remainder of the night...

...I haven't written in a while. I think Samira has taught me all she knows by now. I don't know how many seasons have passed. It's always winter here as far as I can tell...
… We’ve moved. They said I’m old enough to go and live with Fergus now. His estate is smaller than in Cale. But I like it. The servants here say Fergus will return in a few months...

… He came back. I feel like his wife finally. We ate. We actually talked for longer than ever before. I think he got quite drunk. Eventually he took me to bed as a wife, afterwards he fell asleep next to me. It felt so nice...

… Its not every night but more often than not he’s with me. This is what I’ve wanted. We’re together as we should have been years ago. I threw up this morning, I’m glad he didn't see. I don't want him thinking me weak again...

… My belly is growing so quickly now. Fergus seems to like it though, he spends every night with me, just holding me. I was being fitted for yet another new dress today and Fergus walked in. For the first time I noticed him looking at me with a genuine smile….

… We have a boy.  I’m a mother.  Together we’ll watch him grow up. Maybe have more children. It's taken so long but I’m finally home. My Home...

… Fergus came to me after visiting the capital. He was drunk, In a way I've not ever seen. But worse, he was crying. Through his tears he told me they are going to take Ethan to live at Erenhead. Why would they do this? I was happy. We were happy....

...Since Ethan left, Fergus’s stays at the estate have lessened. He said he had to go fulfill his duty. But there is no war! What duty could he possibly have that pulls him away from me? I’m feeling like the little girl that has failed her husband once more...

… I had Samira get me a Sarcosan-bred horse. Not many in Dorn ride much so it's a chance to be alone. Not that Fergus is ever with me anyway. But riding through the countryside comforts me. I often ride south to the hills that give a glimpse of the sea that separates me from my son. How is he?...

… We’re going to a summit in Erenhead. I’ll see Ethan again. It's been so long. Will I even recognise him? Fergus will be staying in the same guest suite as me. Even if it's just for a week or two maybe I can pretend things are back to how they were before...