06 May 2007

Splitting Heirs: Session Five

An abridged summary this time, as I have not had the occasion to write up the session until 10 days later and as a result my memory is sadly rather less clear.

Lady FitzCarstein’s plan to scare the mercenaries hiding out in Brunnenhing’s manor was put into action. Fires were lit, “refugees” paraded, and words of war spoken; the show seemed to scare the brigands witless, but they have not yet made move from the place.

Whilst Lady F headed the column of refugees, Captain Scharf, his 2 men and Josephine – who had been refused a place in the refugee train – were watching the road, hoping to ambush the Tilean scout on his return (so that word of there not being war would not reach the manor). It was wet and unpleasant, even in the cover of woods. Scharf heard noises, coming across what appeared to be a trapper, yet who looked unsuited to the task. Scharf left him alone for now, and returned to the ambush point just as a rider was travelling past. He arrived just in time to prevent Josephine, never the most suited of characters to the situation, from standing and exclaiming, giving away their position.

On the other hand, it mattered not. The rider was Brunnenhing, with two bedraggled looking “men at arms” trailing behind him; it then fell on Captain Scharf to defuse the situation and get the Lord up to date on the plans in action. Manfred was nowhere to be seen, Brunnenhing saying that he left his company that morning (or overnight). With their added threesome, Scharf and those with him continued to watch the road until the “trapper” appeared, seemingly headed for the manor with his captured furs. Scharf now stepped out, leading the man around the ambush spot and engaging him in conversation: who was he, what was he doing? The man claimed to be a furrier with goods to sell at the manor and gave his name as Aachen – a name that rang vague bells with the Captain. The two walked and talked until they were a ways past the ambush site before Scharf turned back.

From nearer the manor, heading down to find the Captain after concluding her words with the mercenaries inside, Lady F (who had taken the guise of a Verenan initiate) saw the two men talking then parting. Fearing that the man would blow her plan by discrediting talk of war, but unsure how to sway him away from the manor she simply pulled up her hood and pressed on. Passing the man, they had a brief conversation without breaking character; as she turned to go, however, she heard a thump on the ground behind her. Looking around she saw a freshly caught rabbit on the ground, and an envelope labelled with an F. Picking it up she hung the rabbit from her belt and tucked the note inside her garb to keep it from the rain. Herr Aachen had vanished from sight.

Meanwhile back in Himmelfeuer Pou was trying to calm down the mob gathered outside the garrison. They were adamant that the man in custody could not be the child abductor, as several had been out with him the night before and knew the man well. Rolf, the sergeant left in charge in Scharf’s absence, was not the brightest of men when it came to these “townies” and had hoped that “assuring” the public that the criminal had been caught would put the mass mind at ease. Pou succeeded in convincing the lawman to take statements one by one, and convincing the mob to let him handle the complaints; he bargained for co-operation from both sides by agreeing to take an active part in the investigations.

This role took him to see Herbert, Werner and others; his old friend was acting up, and Pou even suspected at one point that Herbert might have had something to do with it, but his visit to Werner pointed fingers in other directions. The treasurer had spent a few days re-visiting judicial and watch accounts from 10 years past for information surrounding the Leuchttern incident, and was struck by a reference to Father Cantati – Lady FitzCarstein’s spiritual advisor and Verenan tutor – who had been in the town at that time and who had known the lecherous Leuchttern well. Pou was aware, however, that Lady F’s entourage had left town the night before the child went missing so Cantati could not have been involved.

Pou’s investigations were turning up nothing but the suspicion generated by Herbert’s avoidance of him, which was enough to persuade Pou to have his friend watched – under the guise of security – by others of Die Kupfers. Rolf was eventually convinced that the man they had taken was innocent after the illusion of due process was carried out. The man was released the next morning, when the whole “abduction” was shown to be nothing more than a tragic combination of mistake and accident: the missing child was found trapped but alive under a collapsed beam inside an unused building adjacent to his house; he had wandered in whilst his mother was out procuring food and got trapped, his feeble, trapped, lungs not generating enough noise to have caught much attention – especially with the town’s ire focussed on the watch for a presumptuous and wrongful arrest. This, again, stirred up the people and has left faith in the watch low amongst the populace. One of the mob’s ringleaders – a member of Die Kupfers – was calling for the group to take over law enforcement matters themselves, citing the incompetence of those currently charged with the role. Pou had to talk him down, adroitly figuring the best way to control this impulsive character was to draw him into the responsibilities for making sure that the organisation could take over, but making sure that it remained behind the scenes: big displays of dissatisfaction would not help their cause. Pou and Herbert resolved once again to petition the Baron to accept a trained civilian militia… Die Kupfers by another name.

It felt like not a lot happened in this session, and the shorter summary is thus appropriate. Events with Lady F and Captain Scharf seemed to take a long while to achieve little – a fault I lay at my door, as pacing was very poor this time out. On the other hand, events in Himmelfeuer went swimmingly and encompassed more than I have been able to reliably recount here. The aim was to set up a mistrust of the Captain’s men (if not the Captain himself) amongst the general populace and increase a groundswell for popular revolt – a situation that would lead to some great roleplaying potential. This is made more interesting by the fact that Pou does not want such to happen, yet if it did he would be placed squarely at its head.

Tensions between the councillors are rising – typified by the suspicion generated between Pou and Herbert over the past few sessions. Trust is not eroded entirely – a game without any trust between characters (PC or NPC) quickly becomes Paranoia – but is being made less than certain, guarded and questionable, hopefully raising the impact factor of choices made by the characters.

One thing missing from this summary and from my understanding of events is a conversation that took place between Lady F and Captain Scharf whilst I was running Himmelfeuer events with Pou. I believe this hinted at the Captain’s past, and continued the setting up of an interesting power balance relationship between the characters, but the exact nature of what was discussed is beyond my ken.

Overall I remain very happy with the game, but would really like to pick up the pace a bit; I am not sure how to achieve this, but I suspect it involves me putting aside my spectator’s mentality when the PCs are interacting with each other – I have always gained a large proportion of my enjoyment of roleplaying from watching (other) players’ creativity – and looking to actively inject more conflict to each scene to keep things moving along.

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