GM Note* Been a busy week for me, so this blog is rather late since we had a game on the 16th. There’s also another game tomorrow. Also, sadly one of our players has had to drop out due to real life obligations; Idrael who plays Eladril. He will be missed. This will be bringing the player count to 6 current players.
A LOT has happened since the 16th game… A lot. Two separate one-off trial sessions were held for two certain characters who got on the wrong side of the law! So lets get this rolling…
When we last left the party, they were outside the Blazing Hearth, making their way into the inner-city to enjoy the spoils and delights provided by festival week; Middenland’s greatest carnival which happens every 2 years.
As the party made their way further into the city, a certain priest is off to see the principle… Well, not quite. At Ulric’s temple, Jurgen Noffein has been summoned by Wolf Lord Brunner.
– Wolf Lord Brunner
Brunner is a 6’1 muscular strong build of a man, and despite his advanced age, he appears to be physically fit. Jurgen had been summoned to his study. Upon arriving, Jurgen was somewhat uncomfortable and nervous, and when Brunner started quoting one of Ulric’s strictures, then asking Jurgen to finish it… Jurgen unfortunately drew a blank. (He failed two very easy skill tests) His inability to finish the quote, “Stand honest and true. Deception and trickery is not Ulric’s way,” was not due to him skipping out on lessons during class, but rather his mind just drawing a complete blank as a result of nerves. (The player, Darren, was very salty as a result of failing those rolls :P)
“Deception and trickery is not our way boy. Certainly not befitting of a young pup looking to make his way into life. This business concerning you trying to redeem Klemet’s honor ends here.”
Klemet was Jurgen’s teacher, who had died just before the start of the campaign. Jurgen never believed Klemet took his own life. Brunner made it clear that such attempts would not be tolerated. Jurgen left Brunner’s study without much argument, fearing that he would have to be careful now.
Back with the party, as they make their way towards the Square of Martials to watch the Graf’s Champion duel it out with challengers.
Along the way, passing by the plaza, they hear a crier shout out, “Here ye here ye! Grand Theogonist Volkmar the Grim, herald of the mutant lovers, is coming to Middenheim to attend Ar-Ulrics enclave! Let all know this so that we may give him a rude welcoming upon his arrival at the end of festivities!”
It appears the Grand Theogonist himself is coming to Middenheim at the end of the week for a high level meeting with the Ar-Ulric.
The crier isn’t the only thing that gets their attention – coming up from a side street, is Chancellor Sparsam, and he appears to be in distress.
Covered in mud-pies and other assortments of food, Sparsam is occupied with running away from a dozen or so angry dwarfs. The dwarfs are chasing after him, chucking food while shouting, “We won’t pay! Say no to buggery! We won’t pay! Say no to buggery!” It appears the festivities hasn’t cooled the moods of some folk concerning the recent tax changes. A local patrol intervenes however and chase off the dwarfs, while the Chancellor is escorted to the palace, leaving his pride behind.
“Mornin Guv’nor!” a pipsqueak of an urchin makes his presence known to Ser Gado. Gado is no stranger to the conniving schemes of the peasantry, and takes care to watch his purse around this little fella.
Guido is his name, and mischief follows him… “I know what ya lookin for!” he shouts.
Ser Gado asks what that might be, when someone pushes into him, then promptly runs off. Gado gets a look at the figure; a young boy in very colorful clothing, possibly only a few years older than the urchin, is running off with his mothers gem! Gado’s backpack flaps are open, and the scoundrel made off with his precious family heirloom! The urchin cheekily remarks, “Ya, your gem! That’s what ya lookin for ain’t it!”
Ser Gado grabs the boy and threatens him, telling him to call back his friend. Michel, the bounty hunter, having witnessed this, gives chase after the colorful confetti.
But the urchin does no such thing; a couple of watchmen approach telling Gado to unhand the boy. Ser Gado is furious, and tells them that he is a little thief as is his accomplish. The guard replies, “How can he be a thief when he hasn’t stolen anything?” Gado tries to explain when the boy blatantly snatches a silver coin from his coin purse. “Aha! See!” Gado cries out.
The guards shrug their shoulders, “He’s just hungry. Be a good sport and let him go, its festival week after all, and besides… whats a silver coin to a knight, hey?” Suffice to say, Gado starts to lose it, and is clearly angry and frustrated at the lack of justice here.
When things are about to reach boiling point, the guards are caught chuckling to themselves. Ser Gado asks them whats so funny… They explain that its all a game. “Tis a game lad, the little fella is in on it as well. It’s called pocket chase. Boy did we have you. You were really angry. I’d say there’s some Ulric’s blood in you!” Ser Gado starts to calm down, and anger is replaced with utter contempt for silly games. The guards say that the chase ends at the Square of Martials, unless his friend can catch the pickpocket before then.
After a riveting chase, Michel does indeed catch the thief, but just barely, and only as a result of the thief falling over near the finish line.
The situation is explained, and when Ser Gado shows up, a gold crown is awarded to him, which Michel and Gado split up between them. Ser Gado is mightily confused still; the game is explained to him by the Master of Ceremonies who tells him that Pocket Chase is a Middenheim tradition. The aim of the game is to get the victim as angry as possible. Catching the thief is certainly a bonus, and a reward is issued if one manages to catch him.
Ser Gado asks for his mothers gem back, to which he gets it back from the thief. Ser Gado inspects the gem to insure no damage has been caused. Yet something unusual happens… Upon receiving the gem, Ser Gado see’s a face staring back at him.
Ser Gado collapses to his knees. The face he sees staring back at him from the gem is that of his beloved sister. She appears to be in water, her face rising out, her lips muttering something. Gado places the gem close, and listens. A faint voice whispers out, “Brother…. I can’t see. I can’t feel… Darkness is all around… Help… Me…. Find… Me…. Under the shadow… of the raven… where the pup howls… you will find me….”
The face soon disappears underneath the water, and the image fades from the near-flawless gem. Ser Gado stands up, looking around. He see’s the rest of the party, but also the bystanders looking on with bemusement. Some start to back away from him, and soon he is left in the company of his companions. Jurgen has also witnessed this, having decided to leave the grounds of the temple to watch the champion duke it out in the Square of Martials, and crossing paths with the party. Half-hearted apologies are uttered by Jurgen, but Ser Gado is in a different frame of mind. He relays what he heard to his companions. “Under the shadow of the raven, where the pup howls…” Jurgen suggests the temple of Ulric possibly, but Morrspork, the temple of Morr, could be the reference to the raven. Following Jurgen’s advice, the party make their way over to Morrspork, Middenheim’s cemetery.
They get to Morrspork. They spot the temple of Morr further in, and something on the wind… is that a howl? They follow it towards the back of the temple, where the howling is loudest. As Ser Gado rushes around the corner, for a moment, he saw a shadow, or a shape of something small, but it vanished before he could make out any detail. The howling has also stopped…
Behind the temple, they see a small murky pond. Ser Gado spots a shadow being cast upon the pond… the shadow of a raven.
He starts to strip out of his armor and dives into the pond with little hesitation. The pond is surprisingly deep, and while visibility is quite good, the thick pond sludge is making it difficult to swim, not to mention its not pleasant. Ser Gado has to come up for a few gasps of air. On his second attempt he manages to find something at the bottom. Covered in linen cloth with rope around the neck, waist and knees, is that of a body. His heart is already skipping a few beats as he cuts the rope, and heaves the body out of the pond. Michel begins to unwrap the linen cloth, revealing the fresh face of a young woman. It is evident that she was not in the pond for long.
Ser Gado rushes over to see, kneeling beside the body. But his soul and body breaks upon seeing the face of his beloved sister. He weeps and cries out. The party watch in silence. Gado embraces his sister. Then he feels something brush against the back of his head. He looks up to see his sisters hand falling gently to the ground, something clutched in her fist. He opens her hand gently (me being a bastard had made him roll to see whether or not rigger mortis would result in him snapping her fingers!) revealing a black oval shaped earring with a carving of some words distinctively foreign. A piece of an earlobe was still attached to the earring, suggesting that his sister may have ripped it off her attacker. He snags the earring, hoping it might shed a clue.
Jurgen however is on watch, keeping an eye out for the local priest. Indeed he spots him, as a rather senior looking priest of Morr makes his way around the back of the temple. Jurgen delays him slightly, before telling him what happened and showing him.
Upon seeing the priest, Ser Gado rushes over to him. He collapses at his feet, crying and pleading for answers. The priest of Morr is taken-aback by the sight of the body. He at first, rather patiently, asks for an explanation, to which one is provided, despite the strangeness of the explanation which Ser Gado leaves nothing out. The priest makes his way over to the body, kneels down and utters out a prayer to Morr to guide the soul of this young woman to his garden. Ser Gado is still in torment; the priest of Morr tells him he is bewildered and most definitely angry that someone would dispose of a body like this. He comforts Ser Gado telling him that his sister’s soul is on its way to Morr, and that he will personally see to the cleaning and examination of the body. He calls out for one of his servants, and a member of the Black Guard aids the priest in bringing the body into the temple. The priest tells him that he should come back to see him to discuss the matter further.
The party make their way over to Ulricsmund district, not far from Morrspork, to drown their sorrow in wine and ale. Jurgen suggests the Horse and Shrew.
– Greta, the Horse and Shrew owner – Yes, that’s really how she serves her drinks.
Ser Gado orders 3 bottles of wine! The rest of the party enjoy a few drinks, but Ser Gado knocks back the wine as if it was water. It might as well have been as the wine was very sub-par, and the first bottle was corked! Likely as a result of Greta using a fish-hook to uncork them. Yeah, Jurgen didn’t pick this spot for elegance.
The party discuss amongst themselves the events of the day. It’s during this discussion that they met a dwarf by the name of Rorin Skulldark, who had overheard their conversation and butted in. He wasn’t exactly in the mood for a conversation when Jurgen asked him to join them, but Rorin had stated he had business to attend to; specifically, mutant-bird business. He made his way out of the tavern.
The party discuss about what to do concerning Gado’s mood. Jurgen suggests perhaps making their way over to the Square of Martials and watching the champion fight might cheer Ser Gado up. Ser Gado isn’t optimistic about it, but after a couple more goblets of wine, he relents, and agrees.
They make their way over to the Square of Martials just in time to witness the Graf’s Champion, Dieter Schmiedehammer making short work of a challenger. Jurgen tells Ser Gado that every strike and every swing swung by Dieter has a purpose to it.
– Dieter, the Graf’s Champion
After the fight, the champions herald, a much shorter thinner man shouts out for a new challenger to face the champion. It’s at this point that Big Piet, along with Galdrea, make the bold suggestion that Ser Gado should face the man. This gets the interest of the crowd, especially when Galdrea proclaims that he is a brave knight from bretonnia who fought and slew a Minotaur! The herald issues a challenge, but Ser Gado declines, stating that he does not wish to fight for sport, that he only fights when he means to do harm. It is only when the challenge is issued by Dieter himself, goading Ser Gado further in, that Ser Gado decides to accept the wager.
It would be his biggest mistake…
The rules are explained to him by the herald. The fight is one of martial contest, but without the intent to cause harm. No swings to the head, and no body thrusts. Disarming an opponent wins the game or if an opponent forfeits the fight. Each opponent must fight on equal footing, so Ser Gado is asked to give up his shield as Dieter does not fight with one. Ser Gado refuses, stating that the shield is crucial to his fighting style. Dieter, having overheard this, remarks that he can keep his shield. The herald shrugs and allows it.
Galdrea and Piet place bets on the Ser Gado to win, while the rest decide to keep their coin in their purse. However… foul play is a foot. Unknown to anyone but Piet and Galdrea, Galdrea is planning to rig the fight. Using a relatively well known spell called ‘Drop’, he plans to force Dieter to drop his weapon in the midst of battle at an opportune moment.
The two fighters take center stage of the Square of Martials with over two dozen bystanders looking on. The herald announces for the fight to begin. The champion, Dieter, towering in at around 6,5, charges in with his axe, swinging it towards Ser Gado. Gado however catches the blow on his shield! THUD! Ser Gado comes in with a upward thrust to the shoulder, but Dieter’s armor negates the blow. Dieter returns with another swing of his axe, but Ser Gado deflects it with his shield. Then a low-swing, but Gado jumps over the attempt, and returns with a swing to Dieter’s arm. Galdrea see’s his moment and casts his spell. Success! Dieter’s weapon simply falls out of his hands! The crowd are in shock, muttering utter bewilderment at this. Dieter is looking at his hands in complete shock. The herald’s jaw is wide open… Ser Gado however, does not suspect foul play but does suspect something went horribly wrong… Being the chivalrous sort, he kneels, picks up Dieter’s axe and gestures for Dieter to take it. After a moment of delay, Dieter takes it, and Ser Gado fights on. Under normal rules, Ser Gado would have won… but he refuses to take the win.
The rematch begins straight away with Ser Gado coming in with a blow. Dieter is caught off guard, still confused over what happened and receives a ‘tickling’ from Ser Gado’s strike. (Gado’s player was rolling a lot of 3’s on his damage rolls) Dieter however releases the fury of Ulric within, and is relentless in his pursuit of Gado. Swing after swing puts Gado on the backfoot, each deflection with his shield only making Dieter more angry. Yet a solid blow gets in, and knocks the wind out of Gado, who is barely on his feet after that last blow. Meanwhile, Galdrea has unsuccessfully cast Drop 2 times now. The fight isn’t going well for Ser Gado. Just when it looks like its all over for Gado, Galdrea tries one last ditch effort, and Drop is cast! Dieter’s weapon falls to the ground as he was coming in for a strike.
Ser Gado is proclaimed the winner of the bout, and the new Champion! Ser Gado gets on his knees in front of Dieter, and proclaims him as a worthy foe. Dieter tells him to rise, and bestows upon him his gratitude for being a worthy challenger. Although he is clearly frustrated over his own failings, he feels it went to the right person. The Herald comes in, proclaiming Ser Gado as the new Graf’s Champion! “Wait… what?” Ser Gado looks aghast, “Graf’s Champion?! No sir you must be mistaken, I thought this was just a friendly bout!” The responsibilities that go with such a prestigious state title is laid upon Ser Gado by the herald; Gado pleads with Dieter to take the title back, that he wasn’t aware he was fighting for a title. “You fought the champion, you defeated the champion. You didn’t think I’d keep my title after being defeated in such a fight, did you?” remarks Dieter. Gado looks lost, and hopeless. He lost his sister, and now he gained responsibilities he did not want nor need.
But saviors come in odd disguises, don’t they?
During the fight, Galdrea and Piet had unfortunately failed more than a couple of perception rolls. Had they succeeded, they would have spotted a grey robed figure taking a keen interest in the activities of Galdrea Shadowstar. Galdrea and Piet were already making their way out of the Square of Martials after collecting their winnings when they heard from behind, “Oi! You! Elf! Stop right there!”
Wasting no time, Piet grabs Galdrea on his shoulders and runs! But Galdrea casts drop on Piet, and Piet is forced to drop Galdrea. “Run you fool! O.. and take these!” Galdrea hands Piet his valuable diary (Galdrea writes down everything in it, observations and bad poetry) and leaves with a couple of watchman giving chase. Three other watchman however seize Galdrea.
“Aye, that’s the one. Casting magic he was, and casting it on the Champion. I believed he may have used a spell called Drop, a fairly minor spell, but one that certainly changed the outcome of the fight.”
– Eren, Piet’s Niece’s boyfriend and a grey apprentice at that. He had spoken the words, and informed the watch.
Galdrea was promptly taken into custody. When Eren explained what happened to Ser Gado, Dieter and the herald about what happened, Ser Gado was likely feeling mixed emotions; relieved, but angry, but confused. His companion, someone he barely knows to be fair, had rigged the fight. Why? But Dieter was furious, marching off to the watch barracks.
Ser Gado however didn’t get to enjoy his freedom for long; he was also arrested as a possible accomplish.
But at least he wasn’t the Champion anymore.
That’s something, right?
//GM: Who knew that a somewhat minor festival encounter would take the session into a completely different direction that I certainly had not foreseen. As hilarious as it was, two characters were faced with very serious charges that could affect their ability to function in a party. Galdrea was soon to be charged with fraud against the state by deception, and perhaps the most serious of charges, misuse of magic and magical assault (using magic against another person without their consent, regardless of the spell or purpose, would be considered magical assault) against the Graf’s Champion, of all people! Ser Gado was charged with grand theft (trying to steal a State Title) and conspiring to commit fraud against the state. Considering how serious it was, I opted to do two separate trials for each character in two one-shots.
I will sum up the results of those trials here as I do not have the luxury of time to write up a blog for each one. The trials would be held in the State Court building, just situated across from the Square of Martials and outside the Palace district. The State Court is a huge grey-marbled intimidating building with two large golden wolf statues standing watch on either side of the entrance leading into the building. Hanging from their mouths are Verena’s Scales of Justice. The State Court is overseen by the Law Lords, of which there is three.
The Law Lords are perhaps the most senior law figures in Middenheim, who are responsible for implementing and overseeing the laws that govern the city and that of Middenland. They are not just judges – they also advise the Graf on city law and no law ever gets implemented without their approval, and final approval of the Graf. As a result, they are very powerful figures – and these three men would be residing over the two trials. Normally such trials would wait until festivities end, however, considering the rather unorthodox crime committed, and the seriousness of it not to mention the fact that Graf’s Champion’s honor has been tarnished with foul play, the trials were hastily spearheaded for the State Court to ensure this dark shadow would not loom for long over the festivities. The champion also had duties to perform during the festival; such duties could not be performed with such doubt and possible shame of uncertainty hanging over his head.
The first trial was Galdrea Shadowstar. Cortez (who plays Piet) would play as the defense council, Charlotte, a priestess of Verena. Prosecution and judges would be played by me, the GM. Galdrea’s trial was going to be a quick one; the player had already stated that they would be pleading guilty. The use of a fate point (which was used) would result in an exile rather than death, as per the player’s request. Without the use of a fate point, death would be certain. If Galdrea hadn’t pleaded guilty, not only would death come to them, but a most painful death at that; their head slowly crushed in a vice in a very public showing. Nasty.
After Galdrea pleaded guilty, the elf was marched through the streets while being pelted with cabbages. Considering Galdrea is a cabbage, it was rather fitting. Galdrea was marched to the temple of Ulric and forced to kneel at the base of Ulrics statue, and kiss his feet while begging for forgiveness. That he did; forgiveness he likely did not receive. From there, the elf was made to strip and walk the path of shame to the western portcullis. There, a carriage would take the elf out of Middenland, and exiled for the rest of his natural life. Galdrea’s player (Harbl) will be playing Erika, Big Piet’s Niece that was encountered earlier on at the guild of wizards, originally an npc.
Ser Gado’s trial was next. Gado’s trial was a bit more involved and took around 3/4 hours. Witnesses were called, objections were shouted, and after much deliberation, the judges had judged him… not guilty! It was close. Very close. (Based on a point system of how well the defense and prosecution carried itself in addition to a 1d10 roll for each witness to add some random element to it.)
It was after his trial that Gado had learned the ultimate fate of his sister; she was strangled. He had also learned what was the words on the earring he took from his sisters hand meant; they were norscan runes, and it translated as “One must howl with the wolves one is among.” But it was his lawyer, Charlotte, the priestess of Verena who would depart with a valuable lead. She told him she had once defended a man at the magistrates court who got into a nasty tavern brawl. The man in question was a norscan, and with Charlotte having seen the earring earlier when it was being taken from Gado’s possessions, had recognized it as belonging to a man called Hans Riklof. Gado thanked her for the information, and the lady, for having their paths cross.
Galdrea is gone, but Gado is free. The party is reunited (for the most part), but unbeknownst to them, a gruesome discovery is made in the Guild of Wizards and Alchemists.
Eladril has been found…