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.