Chapter 6 - An Inevitable Betrayal
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!