Actual Play – Natal and Savia, the Play! (1/2/2015)

Blood for BloodGM: Dennis Jordan
Players: Regina Joyner, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Pathfinder
Adventure Path: Kingmaker

I wrote my notes for this session by category, rather than by chronology because we did a lot of hopping back and forth, Microscope style during play.

Creation of the Play

Milosh and Esmerelda Zingarosh, our chief playwrights had been hounding Oliveta for weeks, nigh, months to get the source material from her, and the intended audience and reaction of the play. Finally she broke down and shared it all with them, and they had their “aha” moment.

From then on the three of them worked together, the twins making their contributions and Olivetta running ideas by the ancestors, who more often than not just said “stop embarrassing us!” which wasn’t particularly helpful, but she nevertheless is the definitive source of Aldori history, and so her contributions to the play had extra gravitas.

In order to properly present the play, and to work against the Pitax smear campaign that we don’t like bards (not entirely untrue) we elected to build a bardic college and theater in The Tusk. Hah, who is a backwater brute now? Oh yeah, we still are. This was a point of contention with Merrowyn who wanted first to focus more on our military efforts and second, didn’t care what Pitax thought of us. She went on a long rant about how Sirian the First kicked everyone’s ass and didn’t care about making narcissistic bards happy and was then corrected by both Edward and Giovanni, who said that no, he surrounded himself with allies.

War with Issia

We learned that we have six months (probably more like four) to prepare for war with Issia. Damn, that puts some pressure on us. Taking stock, this is what we’ve got:

The Swordlord’s Own led by Savia Sordello (a ruthless, no bullshit legion marshal who has won most of her battles and is known to have killed several of her own subordinates on the field of battle). Their size was increased to Huge (500 soldiers) and they have been trained up to 6th level. Still not on part with the Slashers, but we’re getting them there.

Arvin’s Rangers (led by Arvin) has been bolsters as well. They are now a Large Army of 6th level rangers (leveled up based on the all the experience they’ve had).

The Shadow Army was formed in response to finding out that House Amato (see below) is going to war. They are fighting under the Amato banners but we’re paying for them (A Small army of 4th level Ranger/Rogues).

War with Pitax

It’s inevitable, and Merrowyn’s guess is that they are going to wait until we send our forces north to fight Issia to attack. It’s a good strategy and besides bolstering our allegiance with Mivon and increasing the size of our own armies, there isn’t much we can do about it.

In the meantime however, they have invited us to the 5th annual Rushlight Tournament, ostensibly to embarrass us in front of the other River Kingdoms. We have to go (we’d lose face not to) but we also have to do well (we’ll look like fools if we don’t). Considering that other nations are sending their best and brightest, we’ve got to send our best as well.

War with the Hobgoblins

This is apparently a non-starter. They are too entrenched in the mountains to ever ferret out and fighting them in their home is suicide. Savia’s advice is to make sure we don’t look like the softest targets so they go for easier pickings. Unfortunately that most likely means Mivon or the Nomen, both of which are our allies.

This is a problem for another day.

The Outlaw Council

Antonio Ribissi, our friend in Mivon, has arranged for us to be recognized as a River Kingdom and be invited to the Outlaw Council. There we can meet with the leaders of Daggermark, Pitax, and many other nations.

The challenge is that unless we do something really spectacular to stand out, we’ll be relegated to the little kid’s table until we can prove ourselves. His suggestion was that we do something to stand out in advance, but what that would be, he couldn’t say. Current possibilities:

  • Claim 20 or so hexes in the Hooktongue Slough so that we can secure safe passage to ships and improve trade on the Sellen River (which goes all the way down to the Inner Sea so it’s kind of a big deal). This would consume all of our Kingdom development for the next six months, which would leave us in a poor condition to do war.
  • Win, or at least place very well in the Rushlight Tournament. This, while possible is unlikely. Unless the competitions are right up our alley, we’re going to be at a disadvantage competing against more specialized and more experienced contestants.

Floriana’s Wet Nurse

Reports came from Kobb over a game of Murder-Chess (Miquela’s new past time that she started playing with Kobb during her transition from Fighter to Cavalier) that Floriana’s wet nurse was a local in Skywatch. That might mean she was a Surtov retainer or a Mevoy woman from the area. If the former, Kobb’s people should be able to find her given the time. If the latter, it could take forever. He continues to investigate.

IMG_0028Elara the Inquisitor

We have new art for Elara!

Rudolfo Aldori…

…went as a hostage boy and returned a man. He had escaped captivity in the Skywatch and giving his captors a run for their money. He returned with a flaming short sword that he now wields instead of an Aldori blade.  When Giovanni told him it was unsuitable for him to do so, he refused to put it down. When Giovanni demanded it of him, he still stood defiant, he had paid the blood price for for the sword (killed the man and took it from him) and that was the end of that.

Until he and Olivetta had it out after the play. She was a bit drunk. He was a lot drunk, and soon shouting (and several ineffectual castings of “COLOR SPRAY”) turned into sword fighting. Eventually blood started being drawn and where there was no sign that either intended to stop, Leccio cast deep slumber and put them all to sleep, along with a few other members of the the after-party who happened to be standing too close.

When they woke, the next day, in a jail cell, Olivetta said she didn’t know what Rudolfo did, but he must have knocked her out, and well, since a a duel is a duel, he must be alright. Begrudgingly he accepted her peace offering… and then they both wondered “wait, how did we end up in jail?”

Later, Rudolfo told Merrowyn that he wanted to be an officer and lead our Shadow Army that we were sending to house Amato. Merrowyn put a gash in a door frame right at her own nose level and said “you’ve gotta be this tall” before you can lead an army. She prayed that she put the gash tall enough.

Rudolpo was latter seen hanging with weights on his feet. Hah! He’s not a boy but he’s not quite a man. A freaking hard time in life.

Miquela’s Ward

Ugo Ribissi (age 5) has moved into live with Miquela’s children (who just turned 1) and be raised along side them. Still a few years too young to join the dueling school, he still stands to be a great bond between our two houses.

Merrowyn’s Identity Crisis

She’s a great general of what? She’s won no battles, she’s led no troops. The Horde tolerates her because she can still beat them down (and has). The Swordlord’s own loves lady Miquela, and if they don’t love her, the certainly are scared shitless of the Legion Marshall Savia Sordello. She keeps playing the same tired saw that Kasten used to “we need more troops” which everyone agrees with, but when she says “we need to use them” suddenly everyone’s shoes become more interesting to them.

We’re too small to attack Pitax. We’re not ready to fight Issia. It’s a fools errand to attack the hobgoblins. So, she’s got nobody to lead, nothing to kill, nothing to do, and as usual when she speaks directly to people she gets a poor result. She talked to Pietro to try and find out what he was all about, that just depressed her more. He’s even more of a disappointment that she is. She talked to his father at the after party, tried to give him some much needed information, but it was the wrong time, too public, to many people that could overhear.

And what is up with Akiros. He asked her out to attend the play but clearly does so out of some strange duty to Marcus. Like he’s a stand in for her lost love. She used too idolize Akiros, he seemed so certain of himself, but that just seemed sad. She took him up to the cheap seats to watch the play with her people “the gorum-ites” and though he was perfectly capable of holding his own (and keeping the peace), when she took his had at the moment Natal killed Savia, he flinched like it pained him to touch her.

She made up with her father, asked him to stop being disappointed in her for suggesting that we throw a duel over Pietro. He gave her a hug and assured her that she wasn’t the only one he was routinely disappointed with. For Edward, that was a lot.

So, she’s fine. Her dad is okay with her. She hasn’t offended anyone critical to the success of their house or nation. She hasn’t broken any thing important or caused any major problems. But what is she doing?

Santiago asked if Merrowyn wanted to go kill some things, come back with buckets of blood and drink from buckets of ale. She had turn turn him down because she had important state work to be done with the play. “I don’t even know who you are any more.”  He’s not wrong.

House Amato

Word came in that Lady Simereldia Amado divorced her husband Bruno (Divorce court his held with short swords, she slit is throat open) for failing to protect the Amato family.

A week later we received a missive that Lady Amato wished to have a secret meeting with Miqulea and her trusted retainers. We took a small entourage of rangers and Kobb’s agents and met her in unclaimed territory north of Varnhold.  There she told us her intentions, to go and fight beside the Strozzi. She knew it was a hopeless cause, knew that she was going to die as would all her people, but she couldn’t stand by and watch the Strozzi be cut down. She also knew this was bad for Sellemus’ plan to wait until all the houses were united, but she didn’t care about that either.

Lady Amato believes she’s got six months (we think she has four) before her house is destroyed as well. She let us know this as a courtesy so that we could prepare ourselves, but the effect was much more powerful than that. For some time we have been smuggling weapons, food, and supplies to house Strozzi through hidden trade routes set up by Luca and Merrowyn. We offer to do the same for her. Additionally we offered to assemble a new army that we would send to her to fight under the Aldori banner. We would find the soldiers and field their expenses, but they would be under her command.

Staggio and the Night Blades

After their meeting Lady Amato retreated and a man dressed all in black with a fresh scar on his face stepped out of the woods. For a moment Miequela’s heart was in her throat, believing that it might be Staggio, but it was only one of his men. He delivered a letter to Miquela.  The contents were simple. First a short account of their progress and challenges and then it ended with “I miss you and the children.”

Miquela asked the man to wait, she would write a letter for him to take back but he said he couldn’t return. Once a Night Blade left a company he was cut off from them to keep them safe. He would have to recruit another band of nationalists to go fight with him and do what they could on their own. Miquela called out to our rangers in the trees, offered 10 of them up to him. After hearing their assignment, 8 agreed to go. Of the three men from Kobb’s contingent, one of them volunteered as well. Finally, one of the privates asked Merrowyn if he could go as well. She reached into her breast pocket, handed him her Silver Raven figurine and told him his new assignment was to fight with the Night Blades, and that if Aldoria could ever aid them, to send the raven back to her. It killed Merrowyn not to go with him.

The Night Blade indoctrinated all of them “I cannot promise you wealth or a warm bed, or even a handsome grave. I can only promise you battle and death. So for those who fight injustice in their hearts and not just with their lips, come with me.” Merrowyn took and involuntary step forward before Elara put her hand on her shoulder and reminded her that they had to go.

As we were departing the Night Blade offered Miqeuela one last thing, the faintest hint of a peck on the cheek and a necklace made of hair, with 50 signet rings of Issian nobles on it. The hair was identifiable as one of the King’s cousins. who vainly wore his very long, and the rings were from the Surtov elite soldiers sent to exterminate the night blades. There was still blood on some of them. Taking the necklace sent shivers down Miquela’s spine. She loved Staggio so much. “I am never taking this off.”

Leccio adapting

Leccio seems to be handling his new body just a little bit better. He’s wearing shoes on occasion, he smokes like a chimney (helps him stay calm) and he rather likes Olivetta’s new shack out in the woods. In fact, it seems like they are now a thing! Or at least they went to the play together!

History of Dragons

Merrowyn approached Leccio at one point about Choral and just how did he get those three (no, two, okay, only two) ancient wyrm red dragons. And Leccio’s follow up question. If he was powerful enough to control them, why did he even need them? Best guess, a god or a titan had the reins on them. Maybe Choral was a god, but possibly more likely, maybe he was serving some God’s interest.

Merrowyn’s been thinking about that Lundwyrm First World Proto Green Dragon that lives on some demi-plane… and how we could control it.

Leccio also mentioned that usually the stories about people who try to control dragons don’t end well. What does that hedgehog know, maybe she should talk to Ovvirbaane and see if it’s got any thoughts on the subject (next session!).

The Performance

We marketed the play as heavily as we could to both the local Rostlandic families and our other neighbors Mivon and the other River Kingdoms. In attendance we saw:

  • Antoni Ribissi and his family, including his brother-in-law, the Lord Mayor apparent Oromano Adimiri.
  • An entourage from Pitax
  • An entourage from the Usurper King Noleski.
  • Many Rostlandic families with notable exceptions of Strozzi and Amato (who were all in the field) and Sordello.
  • Lord Mayor Iospeph Sellemus, his wife, and his own entourage, which did include three Sordello nobles.

Miquela sat front an center with the rest of the Aldori family around her and the the Ribissi’s next to her as well. Merrowyn and Akiros on the most awkward date ever, stood in the cheap seats with the Gorumites, cracking skulls as needed (but then laying on hands to restore them). When she grabbed his hand at the climactic scene, it was clear though he was just with her because he thought he needed to be.

The first act ended with Natal killing Savia and nary an eye was dry in the audience, except one particularly perturbed Sordello who was whispering into the ear of Lord Sellemus and the kings entourage who had sour faces all. They figured out what we were up to at least!

During intermission, Christoph the dwarf carted something onto the stage, unceremoniously yanked he tarp off of it, and then walked away. By the time the audience could appreciate the splendor of it, he was gone.

The “bauble” as Chrstoph called it was an amazing statue depicting Savia laying in her bed, her head in Natal’s lap as he was reading to her. The entire statue gilded in mithral. If our hearts were not already swollen, they were now. It was beautiful.

The play finished and the hall was full with applause!

The Afterpaty

The after party is where Olivetta and Rudolfo had their fracas, where Merrowyn spoke too plainly in front of the lord mayor. It’s where Antonio Ribissi realized that Miquela (and the rest of us) were wearing the actual jewels of Savia Aldori.

Miquela approached the Sordello contingent. Two of them were clearly enamored with the play, the third, who had whispered disgruntlement into the ear of lord Sellemus was still unimpressed. Miquela tried to socialize with him, but he seemed aloof.

Miquela: “Shouldn’t we entertain the possibility that it’s true?”

Unhappy Sordello: “Why, when we’re the ones who won?”

Miquela: “Won what, exactly?”

And though he did not relent, it was clear she made him stop to think. What are the Sordellos winning these days?

Kingdom Turn

  • Upkeep – Kingdom is stable (+1BP).
  • Consumption (-3 BP)
  • Exploration Edict – Adventurers sent to explore the Marsh beneath Sellen’s Gate. They got two hexes in and encountered a hydra, which decimated them (-1BP, +1 Unrest). Upon getting the news we teleported to Sellen’s Gate, followed their path and discovered not one but two 12 headed hydra, which were an awesome opportunity to try out all of our new class abilities (Elara as an Inquisitor and and Miquela as a Cavalier). We killed the hell out of those hydras!
  • Expansion Edict – We claimed the two explored hexes, but realized, damn, we’ve got 19 more to go in order to pacify the slough. It’s going to be a long haul to clear that slough. We also claimed a plains hexes by Sellen’s Gate (-3BP)
  • Terrain improvement. We put fisheries and farms everywhere we could! (-10 BP).
  • Building – Bardic College and Theater (-51 BP)
  • Extra expenses for Christop’s statue (-5 BP)
  • Army created: The Shadow Army to fight with house Amato.
  • Armies upgraded: Swordlord’s Own and Arvin’s Rangers both leveled up to 6th level. The first on account of Savia’s training, the second on account of all the action they’ve seen.
  • Income (+71 BP)
  • Event Phase: Festive Invitation from King Irovetti to attend the 5th annual Rushlight Tournament which we’re preparing a gift to bring (-4 BP)

Domingo thinks we’re just set up to look bad, which is probably true, but who knows, if we do well this might be our chance to impress the other River Kingdoms… and I’m finally going to get a chance to see Kasten!

What Rocked

The fight between Oliveta and Rudolfo was amazing. Comical yes, but real. And it was great that they finally got a chance to both duke it out.

I loved it when Antonio realized the emeralds were real. Such a nice little moment when he froze and she said “The are very impressive replicas aren’t they?” “Yes, very!

I’m a little thick sometimes but I liked it when I finally drew a parallel between Merrowyn and Pietro. Call it rooting for the underdog, but I hope we can give him a 2nd chance.

Um, Elara and Miquela are fucking bad ass. Go inquisitor, Go cavalier. It’s your birthday!

The pressure cooker we’re in is great. In the next four months we want to be ready for war with Issia. In the next six months we want to have made a big enough impression on the River Kingdoms that we attend the Outlaw Council as a peer rather than a pittance. And in the next eleven months we need to build a Cathedral to Pharasma in Sellen’s Gate.  All the while, paying through our nose for a whole lot of standing armies (and one active one)! I’ve spend now many hours making plans as to how we can make this all happen, and some contingency plans if it doesn’t.

I’m also excited to see Olivetta and Leccio. It’s still a bit strange for both of them, but hey, if Tad and Xanthia can make it work…

Lots and lots of threads were tied or up addressed this session, which was great. I know Miquela had really wanted to see Staggio and even though she didn’t, the meeting with the Night Blade was great. As was the play, and the meeting with Lady Amato.

Also, Merrowyn got into Jerome’s poker game. She wondered why the hadn’t asked her before. After all, she’s only got the treasury at her discretion!

What could have improved

This is just a personal thing. As I alluded to above I’m a bit unsure of what Merrowyn is all about right now. She’s kind of listing between states and I don’t like it. I’ve got a few ideas, namely working on Project Pietro and talking to the sword to see if there is are an Gorum solutions to the “how to you win a war on two (possibly three) fronts?” problem.