Sunday, March 19, 2017

From the Journal of Magnus Sedrig, Sessions 6 and 7

Moonday the 1st of Redfall 890 TA - After the feast

I write this entry from the Dragon Hall once more, I am exhausted and hope I can find respite soon. Unfortunately the day’s work is not yet complete, I have one more task to accomplish before the day is done. The feast was every bit as eventful as I had expected, and fortunately I think the outcome was largely a positive one. As positive as we could hope for at least.

The atmosphere during the celebration was tense. The Lords of Dorn sat in forced companionship, each sizing up the rest, probably waiting for House Redguard to make a move or the heir of house Dayne to burst into the room and slay the Duke or some other dramatic turn of events. At one point, Fergus and his father, Roland, got in quite a heated argument about something. The entire hall stopped to listen, and for several moments we all bathed in heavy silence before Fergus recovered with a disingenuous Toast to the Duke.

I spent the evening trying to remaining vigilant for any foul play, though I wasn't entirely sure what to look for. I had hoped for a chance to corner Sahi Sunulael and discuss this Elven captive of his, but the structure of the event didn’t really allow for casual mingling. At some point from across the great Hall I saw Arik approached by one of his men, they exchanged a few words and then both left in a hurry. I thought it likely that there had been some sort of development with one of the two assassination plots we knew about and recalling Arik’s previous eagerness to slay Vijur I thought it'd be best if I was present.

As I made my excuses and attempted to quietly leave the hall more chaos erupted from the Redguard table, a young Redguard lady had appeared from somewhere and was speaking heatedly with Roland and Fergus. Once again all eyes were upon House Redguard so I took the opportunity to slip out and make after my Sarcosan acquaintance.

I found myself in the kitchen's, which were suspiciously empty. After wandering around aimlessly for a few moments I came upon Arik and his man, they had their backs to me and seemed to be stepping into a pantry for some reason. Suddenly, the other Sarcosan struck out with his foot and sent Arik sprawling into the pantry. He slammed the door behind them and I was cut off.

Image result for exploding doorI sprinted to the door and listened in briefly. I heard something along the lines of “I'm sorry my lord…” and “daughter of house Esben”. All I needed to hear, really. Our enemies were making a move, and I needed to do something! I took a step back and unleashed an explosive spell upon the door, shattering it to pieces and stunning those on the other side. Admittedly I'm a little rusty at using such unstable magic and I scorched myself during my dramatic entrance.

Stepping into the room I quickly dispatched the traitor Sarcosan with a sword strike to the head, not a fatal wound, but enough to take him out of the fight. Arik was engaged in a duel with a dark haired woman, she had found her way inside the guard of his spear and cut him deeply several times. I charged forward and attempted to drive the witch away from him. She was fast, but the longer reach of my blade made it easy to put her on the defensive.

When the odds looked to be turning in our favour, the mysterious woman bolted. I gave chase but was no match for her quickness, and Arik was in no shape to go sprinting anywhere after the wounds he'd received. I lost her somewhere in the upper levels, she dove from a window and then vanished into the night like a ghost. I rushed back to the great hall, somewhat out of breath, and began to try and raise the alarm. Once again I found even my own father thoroughly uncooperative and unwilling to take any action despite the overwhelming evidence that something foul was going on. I got rather frustrated and I believe I made quite a scene before finally some guards were dispatched to investigate my claims.

art by John Love
Eventually I re-joined my family’s table and began to fill my father in on the situation with House Esben’s agent. As if on queue Fergus stormed into the hall dragging the bloody corpse of the woman in question by the hair, he tossed the limp form into the centre of the hall. That got everyone’s attention. The room was deathly silent, I could hear the creak of wood as the assembly shifted nervously in their chairs, anxious to see what would happen next.

Finally the Duke began a shrill protest which was immediately buried under the avalanche of Fergus’s deafening voice. I’ll try to transcribe the epic speech that followed as best I can at a later date, but take my word that it was truly inspiring. Every Dorn present, including my cynical father, must have felt an overwhelming sense of patriotism as they listened. Fergus listed the various wrongs committed by the Duke, today and in the past, making the argument that the man was not fit to rule. Towards the end of the tirade, Fergus paused, then delivered the killing blow that would destroy the Duke forever:

Allow me to introduce Vijur …. Dayne….. My soon to be brother In-Law. And king of Dorn.

So, not only have Redguard seen reason and spared Vijur, but they have decided to ally themselves with the rightful ruler of our land. Combined they have the divine right to rule and the military might to defend that right. This is our chance to unite Dorn for generations to come!

Duke Ivass Torbault
Fergus challenged the Duke to single combat then and there, the coward had no choice but to accept. If Fergus wins the Duke will cede the throne to Vijur, but if the Duke wins Vijur will be exiled and house redguard shamed. Things looked to be going well, but the Duke had one final trick to play. Tradition allows that a competitor in a combat challenge name a champion, the Duke, the magnificent fucking bastard he is, named Sharif Ka’Mael as his champion. The meat headed fool accepted, so now if Fergus wins the duel, he still might start a war with Sarcosa!

The feast ended then, the guests dispersed and I finally had a moment to reflect on the evening's events and write this entry. In the chaos I missed my chance to confront the elusive Sunulael once again. I got the impression from his hurried departure that he may be taking leave of Erenhead soon, so now I must track him down and do my duty as an Ambassador of the Caransil.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Journal of the Lord High Constable, Part 7

Returning to the great hall I was worried that our re-arrival would cause attention and a stir. However my concerns were relieved when I came in and saw Arik and Magnus already making a fine scene and firmly holding the attention of the guests of the feast.
Magnus was shouting about assassins in the pantry. Arik looked to be injured.

Father noted that things were quickly escalating in the hall and perhaps it was best to strike now. I was in agreement with that and headed behind the staging area.
Here was in disarray too, as people rushed around confused. I made an attempt to bluff the organiser of the acts into letting me take the next performance, but as I began to speak with him the Sarcosan dancers began to filter out; into the hall.

The last woman in the line had a trickle of blood running down her arm, and her skin was not the dark tone of a Sarcosan. Grabbing her I asked if she was ok, and she replied in a badly feigned accent. Noticing my alarm at her attempt at impersonation the bitch threw something in my face.
It burned like hell, and looking in the mirror later I still have a bloodshot eye.

Blinded and in pain I gave my Huscarls the kill command. When I had rubbed my face clear of the burning I saw her on the floor with a few of my men’s francisca in her back. Taking her dagger from its sheath I saw it of fine make, and looking at her face left me with no doubt this was Arik’s shorn eared assassin he had been looking for. I ran her own blade across her vile throat to make sure she was dead. Then wrapping her hair in my fist I dragged her into the great hall.

Entering holding the corpse of an assassin wasn't exactly the plan, but it got the desired result. I had everyone's attention. This was the moment, I spoke the words that would likely change our Kingdom:

“Lords, Ladies, Earls and Sharif.
Many of you are aware that I did not conduct the tour of the city this evening. And that Duke Torbault has seen it fit to relinquish me of my position as Lord High Constable of the North.
A position I have trained and commanded for my entire life. I have been dedicated to my duty of training and raising the soldiers of the north into a fine army despite the limitations placed on us. And as I address you all my lords, I look around and see that I am surrounded by men I have known and trained with for most of my life. I would go as far to consider them friends. I could tell each of you which of your guardsmen can draw their sword fastest, who has the surest strike. Do any of you here know each of the northern guardsman's names who have stood watch over us while we feast?
I do.

I’ve digressed though. I was speaking as to what caused his Grace to violate the terms of the treaty House Redgard signed... when we surrendered as the last house left defending our nation?
I discovered a rebel group... swiftly killed and arrested them...
Before they could put into place plans they had to assassinate Jahzir Ka’Mael.
Because I acted without his express permission, his grace claimed I had undermined his authority.

But... he has no authority to begin with. And you all here know it to be true.
Our leader has stolen documents containing a diplomatic treaty with the elves!
He set his men on the brother of Sharif, forcing him to leap from a palace window to safety!
He keeps my son hostage, but has taken him from the city to deny that I even get to see my boy!

But what could we expect from a man who’s claim to rule, stems from stabbing our king in the back!
Then murdering the entire royal family!?

You’ve all heard rumours of a living Dayne in this city I’m sure. And yes my family has been putting on a rather amusing show of drama for you all this evening. It was not without warrant I assure you.
Allow me to introduce Vijur …. Dayne….. My soon to be brother In-Law. And king of Dorn.  

The rulership of House Torbault has come to an end. It is time the royal family was reinstated.
House Redgard backs Vijur Dayne’s rightful claim to the throne, and will guide him through his reign as regents of the realm.

I will place my life in judgement. And challenge Ivass Torbault in single combat, as the founding house leaders once did before we united as Dornish...”

As my words ended I felt the support and backing of every other house present. I’m sure the Duke did too. He knew he was backed into a corner and had no choice but to face me now.
He pulled out an unexpected trick though. Accepting my challenge  he called Jahzir Ka’Mael as his champion. The foolish Sharif accepted to champion him without hesitation, claiming I was inciting rebellion. This was not the result I was banking on. Indeed even if Jahzir wins he’d likely have a rebellion on his hands anyway judging by the other house's reaction to my speech. I must find a way to get him to see sense if I can.

After speaking with all of the Earls who approached me in the great hall I eventually managed to return to my chambers.

My duty is never done though. Earl Esben arrived demanding audience. Entering he carried a box and said it was a gift. He said that Redgard overthrowing Torbault was not within his best interests right now. And with delight he revealed the contents of the box. Ethan’s finger complete with our house sigil ring.

Kali immediately began to despair and show weakness. I did not.

Now was the time to show Esben not to try and harm our house. He probably expected his leverage to make me fall to my knee’s and beg like my wife. I am soon to be Regent of the realm and a ruler does not show weakness. Commanding my men to cut off the same finger from Esben as a way of showing him I was not in the mood to negotiate this with him, we made to take him to the prison. The sly bastard had stationed his men wielding crossbows down the hall. As tempting as a show of force had been, I ordered a retreat into the chamber. With little time and few tools at my disposal I had Esben thrown out of the window.

He screamed that Ethan would pay, but if he wants to have any hope of surviving his poor decision he’ll not harm him. I must make sure he knows it.

Ordering Allaster to prepare a surprise assault on the Pig and Whistle tavern I noticed Kali had done nothing but sit and weep. She’s distanced herself so much from me now, I was sure that nothing I said would matter to her. Once more despite my best efforts she likely regards me a monster. Taking Khiran-Thul in my hands I channeled my rage and hurt into a mighty blow that shattered the table with Mithral and Fire.

Only then looking up at me I stood over Kali, with Khiran-Thul still aflame in my grip. I swore to her that Ethan shall be returned to us.

Leaving the chamber I informed the others of my family to be on guard. Sending a message Cuylar Dale I requested more men be placed for both House Redgard and Torbault. No more treachery should befall anyone before the matter of tomorrow is settled.

I also requested that he and all Captains of the north assemble in the early morning for me to officially bestow on Cuylar title of Lord Constable of the North.

Win or lose I must ensure the realm best interests are served. And without my official blessing Cuylar could earn the distrust of my men. He was once like a brother, I do not wish him that situation.

I will end this night watching as my Guerrillas make their assault on the tavern. While a surprise attack against mostly unarmed Dorns isn't the most honorable, they are agents of House Esben.
Their deaths will be necessary to send the worm a message.

Monday, March 13, 2017

From the Journal of Magnus Sedrig, Flashback (Part 1)

thunderday 5th of highsun

today father said i had to learn to fight like barne is doing because im a big boy now and boys need to fight.

i had to fight with master eric but i wasnot good at it. it was only pretend but i still fell over lots of times and got hurt on my bum. i was sad because barne laughed at me and told me to stop crying even though i was not crying and so i was angry but hes too big to fight so i ran away!!

Magnus as a child
i read my book which is really good because its at the bit where lord dayne fights the big dragon and wins. even though the dragon is much bigger and stronger than him he still wins the fight because he is brave and clever!

mother came to see me and told me its okay to not be good at things rite away because everyone is bad at things the first time they try to do them. this cheereded me up because it was true because i used to not be able to write but i kept trying and now i can write. i can even write better than barne and he is 6 years older than me!

towerday 10th of highsun

today i had to fight with master eric again like every day since the last time i wrote in this diary. i did better today because i only got knocked over 4 times and eric said i did really good. barne laughed at me again and called me a shit head so i got angry and i threw my sword at him. it was only wood but still really hard so it hit him and he got really angry and tried to beat me up but i was too fast and i ran away and everyone laughed at him.

i started reading a new book about a goldeer called verazzamassass its a funny book and father says its silly because its all not true but i think its still nice to read it. in the book varazamaz tricks a king into giving him all his money and the king is angry and trys to put him in the dungeon but varasamasam is clever and he casts a spell on the kings carpet and flies away on it to the sea.

eric told father and mother that i throwed my sword at barne and i got in trouble because they said its not okay to hurt people just because they are mean to you and i had to say sorry to barne even though he tried to hurt me too!

wineday 11th of highsun

today master eric and all the fighter men had to go with father to a meeting so we didnot have to fight today. barne and jed and me went to the woods to look for foxes and we didn’t find any but we found a stream and played pirates instead. then we heard some one coming so we hid in the bushes and stayed very quiet and some peasant women came along and took off their clothes and washed in the stream. jed and me thought it was funny but barne was really quiet and acting strange and got really angry at us when we laughed.

when we got back to the castle we got in trouble because we were muddy and we didn’t take a guard with us but barne got in the most trouble because he is the oldest and should know better.

i read some more of the varazazazmaz book and this time he gets stuck on an island with little people that want to eat him but varazamass makes his skin taste like lemons so the little people don’t like the way he tastes and they let him go. then he talks to a friendly sea monster and helps him learn to sing and the sea monster take veraszases across the ocean.

towerday 17th of highsun

today i got in really bad trouble and now i am not allowed to go out of my room.

i had to fight with master eric like normal but afterwards barne wanted to fight me. i didn’t want to fight barne because he is too big but master eric said i should so i tryed very hard but he beat me and it hurt quite bad. i got really angry and screamed at barne and he flewed accross the yard and hit into a fence. he was okay but hurt bad and everyone was angry or scared or sad with me.

father says i might have to go away to the akademy and that might be good because thats where the goldeer like verazzamass live even though he is not real but it might be bad because i won’t get to see mother or barne or jed or martha for a long time and i will miss them a lot. mother was very sad that i hurt barne but does not want me to go away but she is a woman so it does not matter what she says.

i read some more of my book and verasamaz goes away to a far away land and meets a sulteen and the sulteens daughter was turned into a tiger by an evil wizard so verasamaz is going to turn her back in to a person but only if he gets to marry her afterwards.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Poetry of Arik Ka'Mael

The Kingdoms of Starfire

I live far into the skies and dance wildly in kingdoms of starfire and lands of gold. Through storm clouds and bitter wind I am content. For I travel with loyal friends and a fine horse. For when we ride to the end of the world I will laugh and caper upon it Death will not seek me For I have sought it since my first breath with good friends and a fine horse

Journal of the Lord High Constable, Part 6

The first course was being cleared as Caitlin approached our table. She wanted me to follow her away from the eyes of everyone, but my outrage at her appearance could not be contained. Neither could my father's. The other Houses got the family drama they all secretly crave to see at such feasts. This time it was House Redgard performing. Little do they know, that they shall soon receive its sequel.

We played her game, and followed her out. I took the guardsmen so not as to be lured into a trap. Connal has already been injured by trickery.
Awaiting us was Vijur Dayne.

His first act was a wise one. He fell to one knee and offered the hammer back to my father. I admit this caught me off guard. He claimed that what had happened had not been his intent and that my sister had been a little headstrong in her actions.

We exchanged words. Mostly me expressing my outrage at everything. And my sister begging that I listen to her apparent “love”, she even slapped me at one point. Shame we were not on stage it would have given the other houses a very satisfying performance. We paused when Vijur asked that house Redgard help him retake the throne for House Dayne. My father requested I stepped outside with him to discuss it. I whispered to Alistair to kill Vijur if he tries to leave or attempt anything then stepped out with father.

Father wants to use this as ammunition in our bid for power tonight. I was however unsure of whether it was the  wisest course of action for our House. If we made a claim to the throne ourselves, it would be difficult sure but once we succeeded we would have total control of the crown. Father opposed saying we would fail to garner enough support with knowledge of a living Dayne out there somewhere. I tried to take the hammer from him then, and offered to end the line of Dayne. Fathers ambition faltered then, claiming it was a step too far. That we should be more cautious and use Vijur’s claim to set him up on the throne as our puppet. But with only hours to decide on what path to take and no time to fully account for if this was the best course of action, I agreed that we should go back in and listen to Vijur.

As we rejoined my sister and her “Love” I spoke little. This time I listened. I had such a short time to learn of this man that could potentially be our key to rulership. I asked a few questions to learn the important facts about him.

The deciding point came when I learned his true motivation. He claimed that he had taken his path to reclaiming the throne, so that he may avenge his House and see the Duke dead.
This we can work with.

I made him the offer of our house’s help. But under the condition that he makes his claim only to then renounce control to House Redgard. He proved to be slightly willful, but not one practiced in working out deals. For his house’s sake he wanted to retain the crown for Dayne. So we agreed that Dayne could remain as the monarch of Dorn. However the rulership of the realm would be given to House Redgard and we would be named as Regents of the realm.

Vijur requested that Earl Esben have a place on the small council. I suppose the man has loyalty to him after being raised there. However it's best not to count your eggs before they hatch, and talk of who shall be appointed where is a discussion for after tonight.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Chapter 6 - An Inevitable Betrayal

Chapter 6 - An Inevitable Betrayal

GM: David "Dork Rage" Benson
Players: John Love, Joe Newton, Lewis Wakeford
System: Burning Wheel
Setting: The Flames of Rebellion, A Burning Midnight Campaign

Recap - The great hall of the Duke's palace rang with conversation, voices raised to be heard over the singing of the bards at the great feast.  Fergus sat, brooding, with his family, waiting for his time to rise and challenge the Duke. Magnus, ever watchful and vigilante, took it all in.  He is cautious and is actively looking for trouble.  He spotted Dumik ibn Surani, Arik's right hand man,  enter the hall and whisper into Arik's ear. Arik, who had stationed himself behind the great table where his brother had been seated, swept up his spear and followed Dumik out.  After a few moments, Magnus excused himself and followed the pair out of the hall and down a corridor.  Turning a corner, he spotted Dumik kicking Arik into a doorway.  He then stepped into the room after him and slammed the door shut.  Magnus tried to view the room through the keyhole but could not see what was happening.  He did hear a woman's voice, low and dangerous, making threats toward Arik.  She identified herself as Indra Esbensdottir.  Magnus drew threads of magic into himself and attempted to use a forceful spell to blast the door open.  In his excitement, he drew too much magic and the door exploded like a wooden grenade, showering the hallway and the room beyond with jagged wooden shards and bits of broken metal.  Arik, Dumik, and the mysterious woman were all stunned (having failed Steel checks by various amounts.  Dumik would hesitate for 5 actions, Arik 2, and the woman only 1.  Magnus succeeded at his Steel check).  

Magnus knew that a confrontation was taking place, but his magical mishap was going to, perhaps, work in his favor.  He immediately attacked Dumik and felled him with a blow over his head.  The woman and Arik engaged (both penalized in their positioning tests by their hesitation).  Though Arik is supernaturally fast, his dazed condition allowed the woman to get inside the range of his spear.  Her twin, poisoned daggers slashed into him several times.  The poison coursed through Arik and he felt his muscles beginning to stiffen and slow.  Magnus, seeing Arik's predicament, leaped forward to engage the woman and draw her off of Arik, who had suffered wounds to his left arm and his chest and was reeling from the poison.

This Fight, sadly, will have to be continued next week as we ran out of time.

Back in the Great Hall, Fergus' missing sister, Caitlin, slipped into the chamber and bade Fergus follow her out.  She asked to speak with him in private.  Fergus refused and caused a scene, which drew the attention of everyone in the hall, including Roland, their father.  Eventually, both Roland and Fergus followed her into a private chamber.  Fergus insisted on bringing a handful of his men with him, including his lieutenant. Inside the chamber, they found none other than Vijur Dayne, leader of the Blood of the Dragon and supposed heir to the Dayne Throne.  He had Wyrmclaw on his back and the Redgard Hammer in his hands.  Fergus immediately rushed forward to confront him, but Vijur dropped to his knee and offered the hammer back to Roland.  He apologized and told them that this situation was not what he had wanted and that he had not stolen Caitlin, only that she had come to him of her own volition.  He offered to work with House Redgard if they would see him claim the throne from the Duke in the name of House Dayne.

Fergus was outraged and wanted to kill Vijur, but Roland tried to talk him down, claiming that House Redgard could still gain power by supporting Vijur.  A Dayne on the throne had a better chance to unite the Great Houses than another usurper, which is what Redgard would be should they claim the throne.

Fergus and Vijur engaged in a Duel of Wits to hammer out an agreement.  Vijur, being young and having led a very sheltered life, foundered badly and was easily overwhelmed by the strong-willed and commanding Fergus.  Fergus agreed to support Vijur in his claim, but House Redgard would be named Regent to the Crown and would do the actual governing.  Vijur would be a figurehead.  Vijur agreed only if Earl Vildar Esben could be appointed to the Regency as well.  Vijur had been raised in secret by Esben and has a strong loyalty to the man.  The Redgards reluctantly agreed but it is unclear how much power they will actually allow Earl Esben to have.  They do not trust the man at all.

What Was Great

This whole session was great, filled with so much great role playing.  Fergus is a very driven and dedicated man who is currently obsessed with seeing the Duke deposed and having his House rise to power.  Fergus expected Vijur to be "an ass" and easily swept aside.  It was fun seeing Fergus struggle against his beliefs and accept Vijur as a possible ally.  With the Redgard Hammer in his hands, he's ready to challenge the Duke, which has the possibility of being a very epic scene and we've all been anxious to get to it.  

It was very fun seeing Magnus and Arik engage in a Fight.  Arik is very bold and confident, so it was fun to see him fail in the fight because of his pride.  It will be interesting to see him deal with failure and how it changes his outlook, if at all.  Magnus failed forward with his sorcery roll in a big way and, while the scene had the potential to be devastating for the characters, turned out to be beneficial. Magnus is not a confident warrior, so seeing him jump into danger without hesitation to save Arik was inspiring.

What Could Have Been Better

Wow, talk about being thrown into the deep end.  This is my first time GM'ing Burning Wheel and I'm still very unsure about Fight and Duel of Wits,  Nevertheless, I found myself trying to GM a Duel of Wits and two Fights at the same time!  I was absolutely swimming and way over my head.  Add to that my lack of proper preparation and the situation seemed like it would lead to disaster!  Thankfully I have very patient and skilled players and they held my hand and led me through the maze that I had created.  Thank you, guys!  I couldn't ask for a better BW group!

Next week, with the fight continuing and the potential for another, I will be much better prepared.  I promise!