19 June 2007

Splitting Heirs: Session Ten

Bit overdue, this; where to begin?

There was a flurry of email traffic after the shocking revelations that brought session 9 to a close with a bang. Reactions to, and continuations of, the conversation Scharf instigated were flying through cyberspace as fast as they could be typed – it was clear that IC trust dropped through the floor, but out of character enjoyment was riding high. A lot of the substance of the emails was replaying in person at the table at the start of this session – partly because one player had been away and missed the avalanche of messages, and partly because the conversation had more to run that was covered in either the previous session or mails.

Recall of specifics is weak, however:

1) Trust issues were thoroughly laid out – with Scharf essentially being sidelined by the others as far as making wartime plans went, for (paranoid, but vaguely justified) fear that said plans would get back to the enemy somehow.

2) Basic arrangements – largely those in line with what Scharf had already laid out – agreed upon; chiefly this meant arranging for the Baron to move to take residence in Drachenmalstein for the time being.

3) Whether Pou and Lady F would support Scharf if he made his accusation of Werner. Pou was hesitant, citing a lack of solid evidence as a particular worry, and Lady FitzCarstein was supportive, yet careful to make sure everyone knew the potential risks. In the end both seemed (outwardly, at least) ready to support the motion.

The discussion was petering along and out when they heard and saw the clamour of a coach arriving at the castle. Somehow Brunnenhing had found a way to get himself back to Himmelfeuer and, with all the councillors back in town, should the Baron live up to his word, he was due to make an appearance. The arrival of the coach broke up the picnic altogether, Pou rushing off to confirm who it was and Scharf insisting he had another meeting to make. Before he could go, however, Lady FitzCarstein was overcome by impulse and – with Pou retreating into the distance – suddenly grasped the Captain and kissed him full on the lips, before turning away and storming off, angry with herself for her loss of control.

The three PCs then split and went their own ways – Scharf to his meeting with an unspecified individual, Pou to find some of the Coppers and arrange for riders to be sent to gather more in number, as well as to try to find the Baron’s wife to table a proposal regarding the future (not that he found her). Meanwhile Lady FitzCarstein paid a visit to the brothel – seeking to congratulate the future Mrs de Burns, and to pry a little about Pou, without much luck – before retreating to her room to pen urgent letters – to Pou (concerning mercantile matters), to her father (begging troops), and to the steward she had sent to manage Brunnenhing’s lands to warn and advise him of the dark horizons.

All three were interrupted part way through their doings by the bell summoning them to council.

The meeting began with all bar Pou and Lady F present – along with Georg Bodendreck, who was standing at Werner’s right shoulder. The Baron was not yet anywhere to be seen but the general milling of servants and Gottfrid began to strongly suggest he would be making an appearance. The atmosphere was testy, and got slightly darker as Lady FitzCarstein arrived bearing a note of bad tidings. She did not share with the room at large but did let Scharf know: Jurgen had just sent word that the four monks of Morr were dead, poisoned by assassins unknown whilst resident in Drachenmalstein!

Not long thereafter Pou appeared, also looking concerned, for he too had received a message as he made his way to the council chamber. Purportedly from Gunter down in the southern reaches of the barony, it said simply: “Help. Under siege!”

The first business at the table was what Georg was doing there; Werner claimed a motion would be tabled to add Georg to the council at the Baron’s decree, but beyond its mention it was pushed down the pecking order by Pou’s revelation of his note, and the talk of war it demanded. The urgency this imbued stayed Scharf’s hand and the accusation he was to level at the chancellor stayed under wraps. Instead Werner was pressed on how the coffers fared and what, if any, provision might be available for spending as a war chest – hiring mercenaries, paying soldiers and so forth. This pressing was harsh, but not unfair and Werner (grudgingly) revealed a fair amount. Motions were then taken to prompt securing said outside help through contacts maintained by individual councillors.

The further discussions were postponed by the Baron’s appearance. Hubst von Feuerwaffen may have been frail but he was abreast of goings on and rumour and coherent. He was keen to dispel thoughts of his ill health, and then moved swiftly on to the most pressing matter that concerned him directly – the succession, should he come to harm. He asked each councillor in turn for their candid and honest opinion on who should inherit the title and land in his passing. Captain Shcarf spoke first and mentioned Lady FitzCarstein as an astute politician, land manager and suitable noble, also mentioning Pou’s standing with the people and solid financial head. Lady F herself somewhat played down her case, but indicated she thought many of those at the table would do aptly in the role. Herbert spoke up and surprised Pou by mentioning him very strongly, whilst Brunnenhing unsurprisingly mentioned himself as his standing as heir by default suggested he might. Pou was unsure, but re-stated his support for the Baron and the continuation of a noble line; Werner, too, was unsure, answering last and committing a common thought to word: he would rather the Baron survived the coming conflict and give more time to find Josephine a suitable suitor.

The Baron thanked everyone for their input, before unsurprisingly revealing his own position; he would rather the control stayed within his family if possible. However he revealed deep seated worries about Josephine’s suitability and possible “taint”; he had, he said, been confined praying to Sigmar for guidance over what to do about her – something he had neglected for “too long” and claimed his God had given him answer and guidance at last: he had sent for Templars. Witch Hunters. He claimed that he needed to know whether Josephine was “tainted” as he feared, and that if not then matters of succession would be solved by his daughter being given proper training and tuition for the role of heiress. If she should be found to have such a stained morality… well, it was a gambit, but one he had already committed to. This cast a further dark mood over the gathered councillors and it was almost enough to prevent the vote on Georg’s councillorship taking place, but for Lady FitzCarstein’s remembering of the issue. The Baron did indeed sanction the move, and so Georg was voted in, no doubt his case strengthened by the fact his lands ran the southern border of the Barony and were even now possibly under assault.

The Baron left, then, pausing only to leave open invites to each of his councillors to a private session that evening should they wish it. There was still time, if not the right mood for it, for Pou to announce the details of his forthcoming wedding before the meeting broke up and the councillors went their separate ways to make preparations for meeting the threat to the south, and whatever else they had planned…

Interesting session that in the end turned out very differently from the expected; I had pitched the notes given to Lady F and Pou for a situation where they would be revealed after the accusation of Werner – designed to perhaps lessen their support for incarcerating him now and possibly leaving Scharf – gambit played – in a difficult position.

Instead they probably just funnelled the silence. The Baron’s revelation added urgency – especially given no-one knows where exactly Josephine is right now; she did not arrive with Brunnenhing – but not necessarily the depth of concern it would have had the news of a southerly “siege” not been broken.

The council scene was tense, and it was interesting to see how people answered when put on the spot by their liege. I enjoyed setting Pou up for being recommended – it is the last thing the character actually would want – and changing the dynamic on the council, which had become somewhat predictable.

Not yet decided who or what the siege is (it should play out tomorrow) or just how I’m going to advance from here. Hoping that some of the players will take up the offer of one-on-ones with the Baron as it will give me a source of ideas if nothing else. Feeling that it is certainly all drawing in now, but I’ve been under the weather since this session was played and so the game has been something of a tertiary thought – to its detriment and my dissatisfaction. I just hope that will not cloud the potential strength of the next session or few…

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