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Dynasty of Dovak - Campaign Notes and Play Report

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  • #31
    Same, always cool reading up some actual plays



    • #32
      Absolutely Not Safe For Work, graphic sex, violence and distressing themes.

      NSFW: Contains depicitions of graphic sex and violence. Contains foul language.

      Trigger Warning: This is a summary of an X-rated play which deals with mature themes that some may find distressing. Violence, sex, and discrimination are central themes: if you think you might be distressed by this story then I urge you to read no further.

      Draft. Work In Progress. PEACH.

      Last warning: NSFW, Adults Only, 18+, X-rated.

      Chapter 3 - Socially Distanced Flashbacks

      Rules Errors and Continuity

      Errors on Errors: Repair Projects only grant 1 Craft Point per objective. Ganan therefore has 6SP and 6GP too many. His CP is therefore reduced from 18GP 13SP to 12GP 10SP.

      Inert Initiative: Withering Magnitude damage on battle-groups does not grant Initiative. Whoops. No effort has been made to correct this, but Cynis Ganan has performed significantly better than he should have against anyone who brought a battle-group with them (such as Eletha).

      Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


      • #33
        This is so damn cool man. Thanks for sharing this with us. My favorite part is Ganan's line 'I see it. The hearth is shattered.' That my friends is how you make an exit.


        • #34
          Originally posted by Arkayriel View Post
          This is so damn cool man. Thanks for sharing this with us. My favorite part is Ganan's line 'I see it. The hearth is shattered.' That my friends is how you make an exit.
          That was an emotional scene, one of my favourites too.

          Reya and I are pretty easy going. Very "yes, and", but we knew that Your Grace had high lethality potential so laid out some ground rules before playing: first, it wouldn't end in a TPK; second, Ganan would lose and Tinkara would be injured; and third, that Reya would give Ganan a dressing down for not being a team player. And the threat of that dressing down is the only reason I agreed to the Kinship in the first place -- Ganan's big vice is his unwillingness to cooperate with others (no idea where that comes from *cough, cough*). I sorta thought that by agreeing to a Kinship with Tepet Agoram I'd avoid the dressing down ("we'd have won if only you'd been willing to Swear").

          So... when that scene rolled round, I was a little... in character. I shouted the bit about not being lectured by a Tepet, and kinda felt personally aggrieved. So "the Hearth is shattered" came out of the left field. Reya had wanted to continue on past the dressing down and plan the Hearth's next move, but Ganan storming off neccessitated cutting the session short. Great drama though. Really felt right.

          At some point we should probably roll round to dissolving the temporary familial Hearths and the PCs becoming a Kinship. But it's not really come up.

          Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


          • #35
            We wrapped Session 50(/26, depending on your point of view) on Saturday, here's a brief recap of the story so far (PCs in bold, we're up to three players now which puts me back in my role of forever ST).


            In RY744 Cynis Ganan, a lecturer at the Heptagram, falls in love with a gifted student staying on for an eighth year Mnemon Alinos Danireya. The two conduct a whirlwind romance, which is cut short when Danireya discovers that Ganan suppressed her greatest work on the orders of the shadowy Sidereal Exalted. With the discovery of the Sidereals and the censor of her life's work, Danireya leaves the Heptagram in disgust to travel the Southern Threshold. There she meets several interesting personages, chief among them being Scarlet V'neef, the Empress's own daughter. Danireya and V'neef become friendly rivals, as Danireya gives V'neef advice on how to get her family recognized as its own Great House. Danireya returns to the Blessed Isle to find that Ganan faces sedition charges for distributing a text most heinous to the sensibilities of the Scarlet Empress in a misguided attempt to win Danireya back. Danireya saves Ganan from the executioner's block by presenting his original rebuttals to her greatest work, and the pair marry.

            Meanwhile, Peal, a stable girl in the Imperial City draws the Second Breath as the blood of Sextus Jylis erupts in her veins. Taking the coin, and the name Gracious Pealing Melody, she fights her way through Pasiap's Stair to join the Third Imperial Legion. There she falls in love with Mnemon Alinos Ferad, one of Danireya's older brothers. Though neither bow nor mount are particularly valued by Realm Legions, Melody is quickly promoted to Winglord and given dominion over the supporting auxilia to the Legion. Her greatest triumph comes on the frozen plains of Medo, where she wins the day by shooting out the horse of the dread Devil-Hoof Witch -- ending the menace of the Deceiver and claiming her grand orichalcum powerbow. She returns to the Blessed Isle, not to a parade, but to be told the Empress is missing and Third Legion is being turned over to House Sesus, who cashier both her and Ferad, installing a House of Bells drop-out with the right family name in her place. Melody is adopted into House Mnemon and marries Ferad.

            Rewinding slightly, Cynis Falen Jinabar, a plucky young graduate of the Spiral Academy uncovers a conspiracy in the Thousand Scales, shortly before the disappearance of the Empress, to flood the Blessed Isle with proscribed books and ferment strife among the peasantry. The Empress appoints her as a magistrate in the season of Descending Air, RY763, and Jinabar spends the next five years rooting out the books already smuggled into the Realm and their source in the Threshold.


            In RY768, Mnemon marches her legions on the wayward Satrapy of of Jiara to reclaim it from the Anathema. The Mnemon Alinos family (including Danireya, Ganan and Melody) is dispatched East of Jiara to the mining kingdom of Dovak, so as to cut off any reinforcements that might be heading to Jiara from the Realm's enemies and to deny the Anathema the chance to flee. Yet Dovak is a kingdom under seige. The demons, fey, the dead, and beastmen all menace the kingdom. First to fall is the demonologist Ragara Haseti, who planned to unleash Sondok to murder our heroes. Next is the fey lord, who sheltered in the reality warping shade of an inter-dimensional gateway crafted long ago by an unknown hand -- until he was broken upon Cynis Ganan's mighty hammer. Again, and again are the dead repelled: their leader a Deathknight, and rightful heir to the Throne of Dovak, manages to escape justice but is left without a pot to piss in. Much of Dovak is burned to the ground, rebuilt only with great effort from our heroes. It is here that we learn the beastmen are led by a powerful Ogre, a Lunar Anathema of incredible prowess and queen of a mostly intact Shogunate-era city. Out matched by the Lunar at every turn, our heroes reluctantly revive Haseti's plan to summon Sondok into the world. But Sondok cannot be bound by the magic of the Terrestrial Exalted and is, in fact, already enslaved by the very Anathema she has been summoned to kill. Sondok traps Mnemon Nanals, daughter of Mnemon and grandmother to Danireya, in Malfeas before helping the Lunar fake her own death. Sondok then flees to the South, sustained in Creation past her binding by the heroes' diabolism.

            It's here that Jinabar enters Dovak, having tracked the seditious books to a cult of Sondok known as the Salmalin and their supplier to a Guildsman based in Dovak. Jinabar, Ganan and Melody ride further south into Harborhead: here they slay Sondok, sending her back to Malfeas, and shatter the Salmalin presence in Kirighast. But victory is marred by a mystical summons issued to Ganan and Jinabar, commanding them both to travel to Greyfalls in the scavenger lands. Jinabar departs, but Ganan and Melody return to Dovak, just in time to save Danireya from the Lunar who they slay this time for good.

            News of their Matriarch's victory in Jiara reaches the heroes who prepare to return to the Realm as heroes. Though the Council of the Vacant Throne prevents Mnemon from becoming Empress, her selfless actions in reclaiming Jiara for the Realm (rather than marshaling her forces against her sisters and cousins) are sure to propel her above all pretenders to her throne. House Mnemon is additionally bolstered by the veritable treasure trove of first age artifacts uncovered in Dovak and shipped back to the Blessed Isle by the Alinos family.

            And yet the heroes make a shocking discovery. Cathak Cainan, 'Matriarch' of House Cathak, has been returned to the prime of youth. He has declared himself Emperor, and even now his forces march on the Imperial City. House Peleps and House Ragara both have openly declared for this usurper.


            Which brings us to present day. In the 768th year of the Scarlet Empress's reign, in the month of Descending Earth the Realm finds itself embroiled in Civil War. Our heroes are well into Essense 3... and, frankly, I could use some help at this point.


            Session 51 is on Saturday. The PCs find themselves fighting in a civil war. I've got a fair outline in my mind for what the major events, twists and turns should be. But what I really need help with is pacing and filler -- what can my PCs be doing as the Civil War unfolds around them?

            The bread-and-butter is going to follow this formula:

            1. The PCs travel to location X
            2. On the way they have to fight [bandits/enemy soldiers/hungry ghosts/etc.]
            3. On arrival at location X they have to convince powerful figure Y [house matriarch/retired general/powerful god/wealthy guildsman/influential patrician] to join Mnemon's cause
            4. After [successfully convincing / failing to convince ] Y, we fight a mass combat as armies clash

            But if I had to do that for 20 sessions, people are going to blow their brains out. I need ideas for mixing things up a little.

            The "other" Discord suggested the following:

            House Ragara disturbs the Valley of the Ancients, unleashing powerful ghosts. The PCs have to appease/slay/bind the ghosts and restore the geomancy of the area.
            The cursed on the city of Bright Obelisk reaches its peak at a particularly inconvenient time -- perhaps in the middle of peace talks, or negotiating a powerful ally to join the cause. If the PCs merely escape rather than dealing with the curse, the Anathema enslaved population of the city raise the cursed obelisk from the ground, turning it into war-machine of madness.
            A talented artificer of House Mnemon has invented a significant improvement to the common firewand, but a bloodthirsty headsman of House Cathak knows where the prototype weapons are being stored and is launching a daring raid to claim them for his House. The PCs need to play a cunning game of counter-espionage -- perhaps stopping the raid outright, but perhaps allowing defective prototypes to be stolen.

            The main Exalted Discord also had some very helpful high-level ideas (big thanks to Eric Minton for giving some great input on the idea). Here’s a high-level outline:

            House Cathak

            Cathak Cainan never wanted to be Empress, but when his youth was suddenly, unexpectedly restored, and he found himself at the head of Creation’s largest army, he found himself compelled to act. Letting his new-found vigor be known to a select few, rumors of this ‘miracle’ soon spread. Cainan believes, sincerely, that the Realm needs the discipline and martial tradition of House Cathak. The North is menaced by the Bull. The East blighted by Thorns. Every day the Anathema grow in numbers and the barbarians creep closer to the gates. Revolution is messy, but now is the time to stand!

            Cainan’s overtures to House Peleps have been surprisingly fruitful. The Peleps Admiralty Board wishes to cede from the Realm and form a ‘Western Protectorate’. Their alliance with Cainan is one of convenience – both parties believe that a Cathak-Peleps alliance is unstoppable. Whilst Cainan does not wish to besiege his own capital city, with Peleps at his back he has launched a lightning strike to try and claim the capital before his enemies can organize any resistance. Once he’s installed as Emperor, House Peleps will strike West and found their own empire.

            House Ragara has been an unexpected boon for Cainan, who did not expect the Imperial Bank to join the cause so readily. Still, it bodes well that if Ragara has fallen into line so smartly, then the other houses are sure to follow. Just as soon as he sits on the throne…

            Cathak Garel, Cainan’s chief general, is already planning on how to put down Mnemon’s inevitable rebellion. Her husband, Peleps Kozurin, has been invaluable in negotiating the Cathak-Peleps alliance. She finds herself somewhat perturbed by the fact that her ancient older brother is now in the prime of life… yet as she enters old age, she’s still his heir apparent. She wants to make sure the Cathak line is secure.

            House Cynis

            As the other Houses pull every valued scion (and every misbegotten by-blow) back to the Blessed Isle, House Cynis has streamed out into the Threshold with every bit of wealth they can carry. House Cynis has made securing their Satrapies their top priority, and to hell with their ancestral holdings on the Blessed Isle. Even Cynis’s tomb has been reduced to a skeleton staffing.

            The house leadership is divided by Cainan’s attempted coup. Cynis Falen is unashamedly brazen in her vocal support of Cainan: the Imperial Bank and Navy have both declared for the Emperor Blessed By Dragons. The wheel of history turns, and so must House Cynis turn with it or be crushed.

            Neither Cynis Belar nor Wisel are as convinced. House Cathak is not a traditional ally of Cynis, and many marriages into House Sesus make the coming war… awkward. Cainan’s pious nature, and apparent blessing of youth from the dragons, doesn’t lend itself to embracing Cynis depravity.

            Belar favors supporting Mnemon – a position her sisters balk at. Whilst Wisel and Falen defer to Belar in nearly all things, Belar merely hinting at throwing in with Mnemon has thrown the house into near rebellion. In Belar’s esteem, there are very few viable candidates for the throne who have a hope of checking Cainan: Mnemon may be unpalatable, but rather an Empress who hates you but is indebted to you than an Emperor who just hates you.

            Wisel favors making the House’s move to the Threshold permanent: an all but unthinkable position for the other sisters. Each of the Triumvirate see the wisdom in securing their Satrapies (and, perhaps, raiding the undefended Satrapies of their neighbors), and withdrawing their wealth and forces from the ravages of civil war. But Belar and Falen see this tactical withdrawal as giving them breathing space to plan their next move, so they can sweep back home as magnificent conquerors. Wisel, however, favors taking the Greyfalls war-manse and forging a new Realm in the East.

            Cynis Falen Lorena, mother of Cynis Ganan and Cynis Jinabar, is mistress of one of the most prominent manses in Greyfalls. She is watching the civil war unfold with covetous eyes. She was most perturbed to see her favorite daughter return to her on the back of a demon, and outraged that her son ignored her summons.

            House Ledaal

            House Ledaal has been open in their praise of Mnemon for securing Jiara… but frugal in deploying troops to support Mnemon. The Flashing Tempest Council have allowed Mnemon to use Incas Prefecture, ostensibly to reclaim her legions from the Threshold and so that she may commune with the Mouth of Peace… but in reality it is the perfect staging ground for Mnemon to make war council and march on the Imperial City. House Ledaal is suspicious of Cainan’s sudden youth, and suspect dark magics – especially given how readily House Ragara sided with them.

            Ledaal Yasmet will not commit her house to a futile civil war. Whilst she would prefer Mnemon on the throne, her first concern is Thorns. House Ledaal needs to stand against the darkness, not die fighting its cousins.

            Ledaal Ludila, an ex-lover of Danireya and soldier who fought beside Melody, has joined our heroes on the behest of the Flashing Tempest Council to gather intelligence on the strength of Mnemon’s faction.

            House Mnemon

            Mnemon finds herself frustrated. She was supposed to return home in triumph. She was supposed to have years to consolidate her power. She was supposed to start the civil war by marching on the capital, taking her enemies off guard with her sudden boldness. Now she finds herself on the back foot. Delicate overtures built up with House Cathak over years have been swept away in the blink of an eye. Fair weather friends have deserted Mnemon the moment she needed their strength. And now she finds herself outgunned, out-manned, outnumbered and out-planned. But she would burn her mother’s Realm to the ground before she sees anyone but herself on the Throne – least of all Cathak Cainan!

            Mnemon Rulinsei does not want to live in a Realm where the Empress has been installed by Ragara coin. She opposes the Cathak-Ragara-Peleps coalition if only to thwart her murderous brother’s house.

            Mnemon Nanals, daughter of Mnemon, watches the civil war unfold around her with detached disinterest. Or, at least, she would watch it if her attention wasn’t consumed entirely by the Emerald Thurible – the dread artifact carried by her mother which allows her to bind demons of the Second Circle. Nanals has recently returned to Creation from imprisonment in Malfeas and her mental state is somewhat… fragile.

            Mnemon Alinos, daughter of Nanals and mother to Danireya, has been preparing for this moment for longer than considered seemly. Each of her sons and daughters have either trained at the Realms finest military academies, else the Heptagram. Her sisters and their children pledge their loyalty to her, and Alinos holds the secret ambition to distinguish herself during the war and fly above her station after it – perhaps “Alinos” will be recognized as a Great House when Mnemon is Empress.

            House Nellens

            Nellens finds themselves caught in an awkward situation. Their holdings are… not advantageously placed with Cathak marching on the Imperial City. Ragara is not an ally, but neither are House Sesus. The Nellens leadership has made overtures to House Tepet for mutual defense as both houses are under threat of being swept away by the rising tide.

            Nellens Uliya favors throwing in with Cainan. Survival is more important than any other concern, and the victory of the Emperor is all but assured.

            Nellens Leferi, who has hurried back to her homeland with a smattering of mercenaries, favors opposing Cainan – even if it means brokering peace with Sesus. House Nellens is ideally situated to cut the Blessed Isle in two, forcing the Cathak-Peleps alliance West if only they are bold enough to sever supply lines.

            No significant figure in House Nellens wants to make the first move. The mortals of the house weren’t ready for this sudden upheaval, and the Dragon-Blooded are paralyzed by their own webs of commitments and indecision.

            House Peleps

            This war is a distraction for House Peleps. Cainan will be Emperor within the week, then Peleps can strike out for real prize, the waters of the Wests.

            Peleps Lai’s support of Cainan is lukewarm at best. She still believes the Empress will return, and wants to wash her hands of any notion of rebellion. The Western Imperial Protectorate is to be established in the Scarlet Empress’s name, and House Peleps is to be long gone from the Blessed Isle before the Empress returns to find a pretender on her throne. Lai would just as soon have watched Cainan walk his little miracle into the teeth of the other houses, but Peleps Aramida convinced her otherwise.

            Peleps Aramida sincerely believes that Cathak Cainan’s restored youth is a sign from the Dragons that he should lead the Realm. She wants to bring House Tepet into the fold, leaving the Realm with a strong military alliance placed on a war-footing for when House Peleps strikes out West. She considers installing Cainan to be a necessary precursor to Peleps ambitions in the West – a grateful Emperor on the throne places the Realm as an ally in a way that a vengeful Empress does not.

            House Ragara

            Ragara Banoba is a genius. Although, it doesn’t take genius to count how many troops Peleps and Cathak have between them. Whilst he is skeptical about the voracity of Cainan’s miraculous youth, he sees Cainan as a hard-counter to Mnemon – he does not believe his aunt would be kind to his House should she end up on the throne. Banoba is directing vast about of jade to House Peleps – he is wary about lending money to the Emperor’s House, fully expecting Cathak to default on its loans once Cainan is Emperor, but Peleps needs funding to run the navy, and in the new Cathak Realm, Ragara Banoba will sit at Cainan’s right-hand and make sure House Peleps pay back every obel borrowed, with interest. After all, they’ll be in charge of the Imperial Navy and will probably have the Merchant Navy restored to them… it’s not like they’re going anywhere… right? Banoba is also privately pleased to see that a man might sit on the throne – shattering the Realm’s glass ceiling might raise the esteem of men.

            Ragara senior is… perturbed by the thought of war. He desperately wants peace, and has dragged his old and broken form out of seclusion to campaign actively for a peaceful resolution to this conflict. His first stop being his little sister, V’neef. Yet… he is a man conflicted. If Cainan can be restored to youth, can that gift be used to restore his own youth? And if the Scarlet Throne is up for grabs then… surely its better in the hands of a spiritual peacemaker than a warmonger?

            Ragara Bhagwei couldn’t care less if the Realm tears itself apart with civil war, but woe betide the fool who tries to bring that conflict to the Isle of Voices. The Heptagram is the last vestige of the Old Realm, and he won’t risk his libraries or his students over the paltry matter of who sits on the throne.

            House Sesus

            Sesus smash. The Masked Council will not allow House Cathak to simply claim the throne. House Sesus is marching its legions south to counter the usurper. Whilst House Peleps offers a significant logistical advantage, Cathak’s holdings are on the opposite end of the Isle and their supply lines are vulnerable to exactly the kind of warfare that Sesus is suited to.

            Sesus Raenyah is marching out on Cathak personally. She plans to have her legions meet Cathak in the field before they can make it to the Imperial City. Raenyah is under no illusions, House Sesus can’t claim the throne for themselves, so they have instead started a smear campaign against Cainan the Usurper. Raenyah has turned her house’s… shadier elements to the task of finding the Scarlet Empress above all other concerns. If Cainan is a Usurper, then who is the legitimate Empress? Certainly not Regent Fokuf… Yet it is Fokuf who technically holds the Imperial City and the Deliberative. Sesus Raenyah would accept V’neef as a vassal, but has no intention of subordinating her forces to the Empress’s daughter. V’neef’s endorsement (and navy) might well change the balance of power and establish Raenyah as a credible candidate for Empress.

            Lady Smoke is outraged that every Great House on the Blessed Isle hasn’t risen as one to combat the Usurper, not that anyone would know as she hides her feelings behind masques and proxies. She is bringing her influence to bear against the other, more reticent houses, to bully them into action against House Sesus. A particular target is House Nellens who are ideally positioned to push back against the Cathak war-machine. Whilst a true “alliance” is beneath the mighty House Sesus, the least the thin-bloods can do is fight for the Realm.

            House Tepet

            Legion-less House Tepet is desperately entreating The Roseblack to bring the Vermilion Legion back to the Blessed Isle. Tepet Arada, the Wind Dancer, has left the Blessed Isle to bring the Roseblack and the Red Piss Legion home.

            House Nellens overtures of alliance have taken a desperate tone, but with House Sesus actively in the field, House Tepet is wary of painting a giant bullseye on its holdings. House Cathak’s overtures to the House have consisted almost entirely of entreaties to “stay out of our way” and maybe Tepet will still be a Great House when Cainan sits on the throne.

            Tepet Corino is inclined to lead the House in support of V’neef. Whilst House V’neef has been a cold “ally” to Tepet, V’neef does seem to be resisting Cathak’s ambitions. The house leadership, such as it is, refuses to ally with House Sesus.

            House V’neef

            Whilst V’neef’s holdings are on the West coast, V’neef herself was in the Imperial City when Cainan declared himself Emperor and marched his legions East. V’neef finds herself caught between a rock and hard-place: to the West is a Peleps-Ragara alliance marching on her beloved Imperial City, and to the South Mnemon lands her legions. V’neef has held non-stop galas, meetings, dinners and consultations since discovering Cainan’s miracle. The Patrician classes are a poor substitute for the eight Cathak legions, and V’neef finds herself with a decision to make. She can flee, but where to? Returning to her House’s holdings means braving the Peleps controlled seas, Lords Crossing ties her to Tepet. She can arrange a grand parade for Cainan as he enters the city, but even if they surrender to Cathak without a fight, that only puts a hostile Sesus army outside their gates. Increasingly it seems that her only option is to fight, and hope that Sesus and Mnemon come to break the siege.

            Officially, House V’neef stands for the Empress, and her duly appointed Regent and the Deliberative. With the Empress missing and the Regent a figurehead, this is not a tenable position. It does, technically, place them in the same faction as House Sesus – if only as a polite fiction: Sesus Raenyah has no intention of so much as coordinating with V’neef, never mind taking instruction from her. Sesus does present something of an opportunity for alliance: V’neef is aware that Raenyah would happily use her navy to become Empress, but she’s also aware that subordinating herself to Sesus would only make an enemy of Mnemon without solving the issue of Cainan.

            The Immaculate Order

            “Woe betide those who confuse the appearance of youth with the endorsement of the Dragons.” The Mouth of Peace’s ominous proclamation has been seen as an obvious censor directed at Cathak Cainan, but also a subtle jibe at Mnemon (who appears young) and perhaps even V’neef (who is, by the standards of the Dynasts, young). The Mouth of Peace, advocates, unsurprisingly, for peace. But she realizes that open warfare is all but inevitable at this point.

            Patrician Houses

            The Patrician Houses watch the Dynastic power plays unfold and fear the devastation they will unleash. Notably House Tereya has made preparations to seize the Imperial City, to protect it from the ravages of the Dynasts: yet they know they can’t hold the city against the full strength of the Great Houses leveraged against them, and fear tipping their hand too soon.


            I'm trying for a "War of Five Kings" kinda feel for this (I know, I know, "Read Another Book!" Sue me). If anyone wants to give any input, all feedback greatfully received.

            My biggest worries are:
            1. How to gently discourage my merry band of murder-hobos from just trying to kill Cainan in Session 1?
            2. How to keep the Imperial City from falling like a house of cards by the end of Session 2? (I'd like the city to be a hotly contested focal point of the war, and I'd like it to feel like a civil war rather than a rebellion -- and Cainan holding the biggest army, biggest navy, most funds AND the capital city would kinda feel to me like the war is already over.)
            3. Running out of side-quests, so the war starts to feel like busy work to space out plot. I want the PCs doing interesting stuff. War might be boring and repetitive, but RPGs shouldn't be.

            Finally, as I now have too many players to run this as an eRPG, Story 5 will have the weekly session reports posted in this thread again.
            Last edited by JohnDoe244; 09-11-2020, 05:38 PM.

            Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


            • #36
              Nice writeup, very cool, lots to think about, and kudos for doing this much work.

              1. This shouldn't be too hard. If he's installed himself as emperor in the capital he's surrounded by scores or even hundreds of exalted allies, and the imperial palace stands as at least a contender for the single most well defended place in all Creation. Plus Cainen himself, all the experience of hundreds of years of fighting, and now with a brand spanking new youthful body? If that's not enough, somebody could suggest to him that killing him without first pulling his support will justmake him a martyr. His allies no longer have a flawed human being to look at, one who may eventually surrender or fail, theyhave a leged that's as unbreakable and perfect as their imagination allows.

              2. Well the capital is a huge focal point, but people also like stability. Cainen takes over and decrees that nocitizen of the Realm shall be persecuted by the law for speaking out against him. Dissenting voices will be heard, and he is NOT a tyrant. However there may be other rules such as curfew, or mandatory gate inspections, or the like implemented which will be punished. Any of these he could also make a strong point about specifically not doing. With this and the compliance of the black helms the general population of the city ends up appeased enough to hang together.

              Also the senators and other great house members living in the palace, they're to be prevented from leaving, kept as hostages basically in the oldest meaning of the word. On the other hand they will continue to serve in the deliberative making legislation. Of course any senator found working with the enemy will be removed and punished. He will be fighting to cement his legitimacy in the city, where as the fighting will take place mostly in the naval blockades or surrounding area, except for maybe once or twice over the course of the war if ownership of the city changes hands and the current occupant has to move their capital.

              3. So, would you like specific sidequest story idea seeds, or are you looking for strategies on how to generate/implement ones during the campaign?


              • #37
                Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                3. So, would you like specific sidequest story idea seeds, or are you looking for strategies on how to generate/implement ones during the campaign?

                Specific ideas can always be adapted in play. Idea generation strategies are also always welcome -- no advice too basic or too advanced (sometimes what seems obvious, isn't).

                Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


                • #38
                  Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                  Treatise of awesome
                  This all sounds amazing and I'd love to contribute some ideas when I have a bit more time, but some very vague starter for 10 concepts to be considered/dismissed at your leisure if still of use:

                  On your point 1: Maybe Cathak, at Cainan's command, are making subtle overtures to your players that if Mnemon herself can't be brought to accept the new reality then perhaps the Alinos branch of the family could be persuaded to seize the reins of the Mnemon house? With the Emerald Thrible promised to Mnemon Nanals as a prize along with the story of how Cainan has mastered old age – her and her new-found craziness pressurise the players to subtley throw in their lot with Cathak (to continue your GoT comparison, basically a Lannister-Roose Bolton move) and betray Mama Mnemon when the time is right?

                  Even if the players don't buy it, Mnemon herself could maybe command them to keep up the pretence of parlaying with Cathak (and thus keeping Cainan alive for a bit longer) in order to learn Cathak's secrets and intentions.

                  On your point 2: As Cathak troops mass in the foothills surrounding the capital... something happens. An enormous explosion of tainted essence, a secret, obscene First Age weaponry cache is detonated, maybe forbidden sorcery accompanied by anonymous haunting laughter that carries on the wind, create a shadowland/blighted ground/scorched earth that common soldiers cannot endure, forcing Cathak back. Approaches to the Imperial City are render unpassable save for those available to [INSERT FAVOURED OPTION HERE], rendering the city defensible (albeit barely - cue brutal siege) if, say, Mnemon or Sesus can get a relief force there in time, while fingers are pointed throughout the Realm at the culprit that they have allied with anathema to usurp the Realm's Dragon-blessed saviour etc etc. Have they made a deal with the devil [alright, the Mask of Winters/whoever] for a shot at the throne?

                  Point 3: Peleps overwhelming naval superiority and the mobility it brings needs to be put in check if Cathak is not to ultimately triumph. Cue sabotage missions in the dead of night on vital Peleps' harbours led by the players – perhaps even an attempt to create your own Exalted Pearl Harbour pre-emptive strike on the Peleps fleet if V'Neef can be brought into the fold (much to Mnemon herself's displeasure)...
                  Last edited by Moss Reynholm; 09-11-2020, 10:12 AM.


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Moss Reynholm View Post

                    This all sounds amazing and I'd love to contribute some ideas when I have a bit more time, but some very vague starter for 10 concepts to be considered/dismissed at your leisure if still of use:

                    On your point 1: Maybe Cathak, at Cainan's command, are making subtle overtures to your players that if Mnemon herself can't be brought to accept the new reality then perhaps the Alinos branch of the family could be persuaded to seize the reins of the Mnemon house? With the Emerald Thrible promised to Mnemon Nanals as a prize along with the story of how Cainan has mastered old age – her and her new-found craziness pressurise the players to subtley throw in their lot with Cathak (to continue your GoT comparison, basically a Lannister-Roose Bolton move) and betray Mama Mnemon when the time is right?

                    Even if the players don't buy it, Mnemon herself could maybe command them to keep up the pretence of parlaying with Cathak (and thus keeping Cainan alive for a bit longer) in order to learn Cathak's secrets and intentions.

                    On your point 2: As Cathak troops mass in the foothills surrounding the capital... something happens. An enormous explosion of tainted essence, a secret, obscene First Age weaponry cache is detonated, maybe forbidden sorcery accompanied by anonymous haunting laughter that carries on the wind, create a shadowland/blighted ground/scorched earth that common soldiers cannot endure, forcing Cathak back. Approaches to the Imperial City are render unpassable save for those available to [INSERT FAVOURED OPTION HERE], rendering the city defensible (albeit barely - cue brutal siege) if, say, Mnemon or Sesus can get a relief force there in time, while fingers are pointed throughout the Realm at the culprit that they have allied with anathema to usurp the Realm's Dragon-blessed saviour etc etc. Have they made a deal with the devil [alright, the Mask of Winters/whoever] for a shot at the throne?

                    Point 3: Peleps overwhelming naval superiority and the mobility it brings needs to be put in check if Cathak is not to ultimately triumph. Cue sabotage missions in the dead of night on vital Peleps' harbours led by the players – perhaps even an attempt to create your own Exalted Pearl Harbour pre-emptive strike on the Peleps fleet if V'Neef can be brought into the fold (much to Mnemon herself's displeasure)...
                    1. It didn't even occur to me that the PCs might want to jump-ship. I'm going to have to come up with something quick there just in case. But the idea is a gold mine... definitely going to try to work that in.

                    2. That's doable. Plays nice with the infernalist grandma.

                    3. This, I like. I'm really hoping they'll try and recruit V'neef. (But it's just as likely they'll try to assassinate her if I'm being honest.) Attacking ships at port has a lot of potential (especially as Danireya has Stormwind Rider and breathes fire). I can definitely build a session or two around that. Fire ships. Divine wind.

                    Thanks, that's all really helpful.
                    Last edited by JohnDoe244; 09-11-2020, 05:51 PM.

                    Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                      I'm really hoping they'll try and recruit V'neef. (But it's just as likely they'll try to assassinate her if I'm being honest.)
                      Yeah, V’Neef’s position in your game is fascinating. There’s surely nothing for her in joining the Cathak coalition other than complete subordination and the sacrifice of her fleet and Western holdings to Peleps, but the alternative is, as you say, Mnemon and Sesus.

                      I could see her, being as charismatic as hell, electing to become/be seen as the people’s champion, purportedly attempting to ensure the Realm’s institutions aren’t devastated by the war but in reality making herself enough of an independent power that she has to be actively courted rather than bulldozed into subservience. Becoming the rallying point for the Patrician families defending the capital, or throwing her estates open to the peasants and monks whose homes have been devastated by war and – with allied Tepet tutors – turning them into an effective fighting force all the while decrying the other houses’ dereliction toward their duties etc…


                      Another thought for a side quest if of use, cribbing from A Wedding and a Murder – the Mnemon and Sesus alliance isn’t rock solid despite the marriage bonds that already exist between the houses. To cement the partnership, a grand wedding gala is planned between an eligible Sesus and a high-ranking Mnemon (maybe the PC’s daughter if she’s still single?) as part of a ceremonial strengthening of bonds. On the day, an assassination attempt is made on the betrothed. The players personally witness the attack and hunt the perpetrator and their… starmetal? bow/black jade razor claws through the streets of Mnemon-Darjilis.
                      Last edited by Moss Reynholm; 09-12-2020, 05:50 PM.


                      • #41
                        Chapter 51 – The Triumvirate – Reya (135XP 108DX, 135/103 spent; 9GP 11SP), Melody (135XP 108DX, 131/100spent), and Ganan (135XP 108DX, 123XP/103DX spent; 2WhP 32GP 14SP)

                        Mild language, violence, mild drug references, adult themes, all that jazz. Closer to PG-13 than R.

                        The Blessed Isle, Incas Prefecture, City of Noble
                        Realm Year 768 Season of Descending Earth

                        Cynis Ganan stands in Ledaal Ludila’s workshop in the city of Noble. She watches him work with distracted fascination as he moves shirtless around her forge, setting blocks and tweaking tools as he creates his own firewand from scratch (10SP spent; 10GP 5SP earned).

                        Meanwhile, Mnemon holds court in the Villa of Arhat, a former Iselsi manse now held by House Ledaal. She has assembled a vast collection of powerful descendants together, over three dozen powerful Mnemon women, and a handful of men. Nanals, Alinos, Danireya and Melody all stand together. Mnemon Tinis stands near the back of the room with his daughter. Danireya catches Donta’s eye and her niece gives her a respectful nod.

                        Mnemon herself stands in the middle of the assembled crowd. Though she looks scarcely older than thirty, she stares down, imperiously at her assembled clan. She stands perfectly still, her hands folded neatly in-front of her. Mnemon Rulinsei stands at her sister’s side, watching over those assembled.

                        Mnemon inhales. The sound immediately silences those assembled and all eyes fall on Mnemon, but it is Rulinsei who speaks calling the Conclave to order.

                        As you all know, our Matriarch has pacified the rebellious Satrapy of Jiara, and in so doing has proved not only the military supremacy of the Realm but also the diplomatic supremacy of House Mnemon. We have returned from the Threshold in triumph, that our Matriarch may claim her rightful throne, only to find that a pretender stands in our way.

                        House Cathak stands against us. Their,” She pauses and smirks, “‘Matriarch’ has been restored to youth by some unknown means. Cathak Cainan has mobilized his legions and declared Regent Tepet Fokuf until to rule.

                        House Ledaal and House Sesus both have spoken kindly of our Matriarch’s victory. House Ledaal has been vocal in their support, but have yet to commit troops to the field. House Sesus has been… less vocal, but has already committed troops, marching them south to cut off Cathak forces, denouncing Cainan as a ‘Usurper’. We can count on them to oppose House Cathak, but not necessarily to support our allies.

                        House Ragara and House Peleps have all but declared for Cathak. Ragara Banoba has released announcements proclaiming Cainan’s youth a sign from the Dragons. Several high ranking Peleps admirals have also expressed similar sentiments.

                        House V’neef has not declared one way or the other, but seems… unlikely to side with us. Likewise, whilst House Tepet had been publicly appreciative of our House during the Jiara campaign, we expect them to follow House V’neef. House Nellens will almost certainly side against House Sesus, and move to block their troop movements through Nellens holdings.

                        House Cynis, has withdrawn en-mass to the Threshold. They have concentrated their power in Greyfalls, and the War Manse there. But as the other Houses recall soldiers and Satraps to the Blessed Isle, we leave the Threshold vulnerable to Cynis conquest.

                        In response to House Cathak marching on the Imperial City, the Regent has ordered what forces he has to secure the city ‘against all aggressors foreign or domestic’. The degree of support the Regent has from the Deliberative and Patrician families is…unclear. This is the first act the Regent seems to have taken on his own initiative, so naturally we suspect that there is an unseen puppet mistress pulling on his strings.

                        The Mouth of Peace, unsurprisingly, has called for peace. She has, however released a statement disparaging those ‘who would take youth as a sign of the Dragon’s favor.’” Rulinsei stops speaking and looks around the room carefully, reading the faces of those assembled.

                        Danireya looks around the room as well. There’s a distinct aura of unease: even with the neutrality of House Cynis, there is an obvious feeling that House Mnemon and Ledaal cannot stand against the united forces of Cathak, Peleps, Ragara, V’neef, Tepet and Nellens.

                        At last Mnemon speaks, “You are the finest of my children. I have gathered your forces here whilst I consulted with the Mouth of Peace. After communing with the Dragons, I am steadfast in my resolve. I will not allow a pretender to rule in my mothers stead. I will not allow Cathak Cainan to seize my throne. But the path to victory is unclear.”

                        Mnemon’s voice is firm and level. It is a voice well-familiar to all those assembled. But even though she speaks with calm certainty, there is none-the-less a murmur of doubt and disapproval around the room as she speaks, which dies into a deathly silence.

                        With respect Matriarch,” Danireya speaks in to the silence, “There does seem to be an obvious solution.”

                        Mnemon’s eyes narrow, “Those of you who are not part of my inner circle may leave. Prepare yourselves for the coming struggle against House Cathak and their pretender.”

                        In milled confusion, the Mnemon scions begin to leave. Alinos walks out shaking her head in disbelief. Nanals taps Danireya on the shoulder and mouths ‘good luck’ as she follows her daughter from the room. Danireya goes to follow after her mother and grandmother, but Mnemon Rulinsei reprimands her, “You stay.”

                        Mnemon Alinos Gracious Pealing Melody stops leaving the room as well, and goes to her sister-in-laws side, “I’ve got your back.” She whispers.

                        The room empties save for perhaps a dozen scions who are sure of their position enough to stay. Mnemon’s inner circle is not a formal body, at least not to Danireya and Melody’s knowledge, but those who remain are not dismissed, and no-one save Danireya is asked to stay.

                        Explain yourself.” Mnemon says. Her tone is calm and still: it is an instruction to be obeyed, not a request but not a reprimand either.

                        Danireya takes a deep breath and looks around the room, “Surely one of you has told her.” She begins, she looks carefully at those assembled.

                        Rulinsei glares at Danireya with her one good eye, “We will fight, and we will win.”

                        Danireya laughs easily, “Of course we will win.” Mnemon cocks her head regarding her great-grand daughter carefully, studying her for any sign of mockery or insincerity.

                        Melody whispers at Danireya, “I really don’t think they know whatever it is you know Rey.”

                        Danireya’s brow furrows theatrically, “V’neef.” She says simply. Mnemon’s expression visibly sours at the mention of her sister, “Of course we can’t stand against the rest of the Dynasty with just the backing of House Ledaal, but why in the name of the Dragons should V’neef stand against us?”

                        Mnemon Rulinsei glares at Danireya then turns to Mnemon. She drops her voice, but not by much, “Perhaps your daughter was mocking you when she spoke of Danireya’s supposed ‘brilliance’ Matriarch.”

                        No.” Mnemon says simply, “Mnemon Alinos Danireya has never disappointed me before.” She addresses Danireya directly, “My sister is unworthy of our mother’s blood. She is young and her inexperience shows in her every movement. She crudely apes the trappings of power, and the fact my rivals compare her with our mother is an insult to me.”

                        And it’s an insult to V’neef, of course.” Danireya looks around the room, looking incredulous, “One of you must have told her. No? Really?” She shakes her head. Melody is worried that her sister has finally cracked under the pressure, “My Matriarch, you do know who it is that V’neef ‘crudely apes’?”

                        Mnemon’s eyes narrow, her perfect composure mired by a look of naked hatred and frustration, “She is aping our mother, the Scarlet Empress!” She snaps.

                        With a laugh Danireya responds, “She’s aping you. She admires you. She’s trying to be just like you, and failing because she’s young and foolish. Where you command respect, she can only fawn.”

                        Me?” Mnemon repeats, dumbstruck, “V’neef is trying to be like me?”

                        Danireya nods, “She wants to be just like you. And if anyone foolish enough to try and rival you looks at V’neef and sees your mother, then all they really see… is how like your mother you are. Reach out to V’neef. She will join our cause, and bring House Tepet with her.”

                        Mnemon scoffs, “Reach out to V’neef? Preposterous.”

                        Matriarch,” Mnemon Melody adds, “You will be Empress. But you need allies. Your… disdain for your sister is well known, and if you don’t reach out to her then she will be forced into the camp of your enemy. But my Matriarch is no fool. If she says V’neef admires you and will join us, then it is so... And we need naval power to combat House Peleps.”

                        I propose more than reaching out to her Matriarch.” Danireya says, pressing the advantage whilst she has it, “There can be one Empress, and there is no-one better suited than you. But your detractors see you as controlling and inflexible. V’neef is an accomplished way-finder, and her House’s skill at plying the seas in undeniable. If we bring her to our side, we would be foolish to try and micromanage her. Likewise, your sister Berit is one of the most accomplished generals the Realm has ever seen. You are a great diplomat and an unrivaled sorceress, but you are neither admiral nor general. You need a triumvirate: you as the first among equals, Berit to lead our armies and V’neef to lead our navy.”

                        Berit is a has-been, and I have mortal daughters older than V’neef.” Rulinsei shoots back.

                        And you have Mnemon’s name.” Danireya responds without missing a beat. She looks around the room, “Unlike the lesser houses, we can be assured the support of every Mnemon. But that is not enough. We need support from outside of the House. That’s what Berit and V’neef will bring us.”

                        Sour-faced and balding, senator Mnemon Oroth speaks, “She’s right. In the Deliberative it has often proved wise to present our initiatives through other Houses. We are, ironically, too strong. That strength is what has united Cathak and Peleps against us. But winning V’neef and Berit to our cause would send a powerful message to the other houses. Both that we are strong enough to win over rivals but also secure enough in our position to stand should-to-shoulder with them.”

                        Mnemon takes up a brush and a scroll and pens two short missives. She stamps and seals them, and places them in Danireya’s hands.

                        I am not an ogre.” Mnemon begins, “I am prepared to admit where I have misjudged a person. And whilst I expect the best from my House, I am under no illusions about the management of this campaign: it cannot be ‘micromanaged’ and I will trust in the judgment of my generals. If you think Berit and V’neef can be persuaded to stand with me against the pretender, then so be it. Such is your charge. Go forth, and do not return unless it is with my sisters’ loyalty. V’neef is still within the Imperial City. Berit can be found on the Isle of Iora, deep within Cathak territory.

                        Danireya bows deeply, “As you command, my Matriarch.” She turns and leaves with Melody following after her.

                        As soon as they are out of the room, Melody speaks, “Well… banishment from the Realm. Could be worse.”

                        I was being fully serious. We can convince V’neef and Berit to join us. We have to convince V’neef and Berit to join us.” Danireya says, her eyes having taken on a far-away look as the wheels turn in her mind.

                        Okay, okay. I’ll admit, you know Great House Matriarch V’neef a lot better than I do. I’m just a lowly Coin-taking-Legionnaire. If you say it can be done, then I believe you. I’ve got your back.” Melody nods solemnly.

                        Good, let’s get Gan and Udi.” Reya nods.


                        Reya finds Ledaal Ludila painting a shirtless Ganan as he polishes his new firewand. They are discussing the Zarlath Collapse enthusiastically: Melody can’t follow the conversation at all, and Danireya is amazed that Ludila actually seems to know what’s she’s talking about.

                        Danireya clears her throat to get her husband’s attention, he beams at her innocently.

                        Done already?” He asks smiling broadly.

                        How long did you think it would take to say ‘we’re screwed’?” Ledaal Ludila teases, “It’s Mnemon and Ledaal versus the entire Dynasty.”

                        Maybe not.” Danireya says slyly, “Put you’re shirt on, we’re going to make friends and influence people.” She turns and walks out shaking her head.

                        Can I store this here?” Ganan asks Ludila, pointing to his old firewand as he shucks on his shirt.

                        “Sure.” Ludila shrugs.

                        You coming Udi?” Danireya calls from outside as she begins summoning a Stormwind Rider.

                        Ludila and Ganan hurry out as Danireya whips up her sorcerous transportation.

                        Do you know where we’re going?” Melody asks.

                        Danireya grins, devilishly, “Not really, no. North-ish. All roads lead to the Throne.

                        She whips up a Stormwind Rider and they blaze off towards the Imperial City. They see few travelers along the way, Melody remarks on this being unfamiliar with the Blessed Isle and Ludila informs her of the miracle of the Great Coast Road.

                        Well established trade routes.” Ganan adds and nudges her playfully.

                        Melody shakes her head at the light bit of foolishness, but Danireya grits her teeth, thinking of the Cynis forces on the Threshold and the vulnerability of Dovak. Some four hours later, the Imperial City comes into sight. Troops are deployed outside of the city, and Ganan starts to cast Invulnerable Skin of Bronze on the approach. Danireya sets them down gingerly a respectful distance from the troops and the Dynasts approach on foot.

                        Danireya puts herself at the forefront, “My name is Mnemon Alinos Danireya, this is Gracious Pealing Melody, Cynis Ganan and Ledaal Ludila.”

                        The soldiers lock shields and level spears at the Dynasts, they appear ready to attack when a powerful voice calls out from behind them.

                        Melody?” The voice calls curiously, and the jade clad woman it’s attached to pushes her way forward through the troops. The brown skinned woman is short and muscular, her pale short violet hair contrasting with her white jade armor. A token, a red haired icon of Daana’d hangs from her waist and a mighty orichalcum warclub is swung casually over her shoulder.

                        Swift!” Melody calls, running forward and embracing her old friend. “Danireya this is-”

                        Kingfisher Swift.” Danireya says, bowing respectfully, “I know. She’s very famous.”

                        Swift shakes her head, “Fifty years ago maybe. What’s you’re business here?”

                        We’re here to convince the V’neef to stand against the coming armies of the Usurper, Cathak Cainan.” Danireya says, then as an afterthought adds, “And the Regent… if he’s still in the city.”

                        Swift holsters her weapon and folds her arms over her chest, “Well then I have good news. She’s convinced. V’neef stands ready to defend the Realm against against all aggressors foreign or domestic. Nice to have met you.”

                        Danireya and Melody both note the choice of language. Mnemon Rulinsei had briefed them that Regent Fokuf had declared the Imperial City would stand ‘against all aggressors foreign or domestic’.

                        Melody looks at the motley Scale of troops arrayed before them to defend the gate, “House Cathak is coming here with eight Legions of troops.” She gestures at the houses outside of the great city’s walls, “You can’t defend the city from Cathak on your own.”

                        Danireya sees a glimmer of resentment in Swift’s eyes whenever Melody mentions House Cathak. She holds up Mnemon’s letter, “Mnemon wants to formalize an alliance against Cathak. Difficult to do from outside of the city walls. The four of us aren’t exactly able to conquer the Imperial City on our own.”

                        But you could be assassins.” Swift says flatly, “Cathak Cainan is a usurper, true enough. But are you going to stand here and claim that Mnemon doesn’t have designs for the Throne?”

                        Melody responds, “Mnemon led her troops to Jiara, to reclaim the Threshold from the Anathema. Of course she wants to be Empress, but she is not the one who started this war by marching against the Deliberative and the duly appointed Regent. We’re trying to save the Realm, not conquer it.

                        V’neef needs allies to hold the city. Mnemon is extending a hand of friendship. If we were assassins, we wouldn’t walk in the front door bearing Mnemon’s seal.” Danireya adds.

                        Swift sends a runner ahead, “I will take you to the palace. Whether V’neef chooses to see you is up to her. But I warn you now that the Regent is admitting no-one and V’neef already has visitors – you might have to get in line behind every senator who hasn’t fled the city.”

                        Thank you.” Danireya bows, “We’ll risk it.”

                        A couple of guards peel off and follow the Dynasts as Kingfisher Swift leads them through the streets of the Imperial City. Ganan shuffles, uncomfortably, through the streets bringing up the rear as the guards corral them from behind. The architecture of the city has changed significantly since he was last here: even more buildings crowding the geometry of the capital.

                        Melody walks alongside Swift, complaining about being cashiered out of the legions. They banter easily back and forth, even with Cathak on the march, Melody recounts the story of how she won her orichalcum powerbow.

                        Danireya takes in the sights of the streets. Clearly hasty preparations have been made for war: windows boarded up, civilians swept up off the streets, barricades set up at every interchange.

                        They arrive at the Imperial Palace and Swift leads them to V’neef’s quarters. In the antechamber, blue-and-white liveried guards are camped at one end of the room: several of them are clearly Dragon-Blooded, and they are all heavily armed. At the other end of the room are half-a-dozen elderly looking Dragon-Blooded, eyeing the guards suspiciously: they don’t appear to be fellow petitioners, but whilst they don’t share a common uniform like V’neef’s guards they do have the look of an honor-guard about them. Melody studies them carefully, catching well hidden hand-gestures and other visual signals denoting they are in deep, hidden conversation with each other.

                        Swift’s runner emerges from V’neef’s chambers, “V’neef will see you now.”

                        Good luck,” Swift says, leading her troops back to the gate, “Don’t try anything.” She cautions.

                        Danireya leads Melody, Ganan and Ludila into V’neef’s chambers. They find she already has company: a truly ancient Dynast, who looks even older than those assembled outside, sits having tea with V’neef. He doesn’t have the look of a warrior about him, but he is bedecked in white jade articulated plate. His hair is gray down to his beard, and he has the look of a powerful man run to fat. He has a certain resemblance to Ragara Haseti… and to Ganan’s eyes, a surprising resemblance to Mnemon Alinos as well.

                        V’neef rises to meet them. She approaches Danireya warmly and kisses her on the cheek. “Mnemon Alinos Danireya. It’s been too long. Do you know my brother?”

                        Danireya gives her best court smile, and curtsies, “Only by reputation. It’s truly an honor to meet Ragara, though I must say I’m surprised to see you. I was under the impression your armies were marching to sack the capital?”

                        Ragara regards Danireya carefully, “Mnemon Danireya. I was under the impression that Perdurant Vault was safely tucked away in my armory.” He gestures with a tea cup at the priceless, looted, artifact slung over her back. He lets the words hang for a moment before setting his cup down and smiling congenially, “But to reassure you, I have no armies. My son, Ragara Banoba, leads the House that bears my name; Banoba has declared for Cathak Cainan, and it is Cainan’s army which marches on the Imperial City, to seize it, not to sack it.”

                        Oh, well in that case Perdurant Vault was issued from Banoba’s armory to Ragara Haseti.” Melody smiles, mockingly.

                        I’m sure you can explain how it ended up in Mnemon hands another time, Mnemon Melody,” Ragara continues, “I have come to the Imperial City to try and avert the coming storm. Peace is my ambition here. Why have you come?”

                        Danireya hands V’neef Mnemon’s letter, “To deliver this. Mnemon sees that you’ve secured the Imperial City against the Usurper, and we want to help. My Matriarch proposes an alliance.”

                        An alliance,” V’neef echos, showing her brother Mnemon’s seal before breaking it and unrolling the letter, she scans it quickly, “This… is surprising.” She rolls the letter away and tucks it into her clothes.

                        Ragara sighs heavily, “Surprising? Hardly. It speaks to our sister’s desperation. She would plunge the Realm into a civil war which she can not possibly hope to win. Rather than negotiate, she wants to sacrifice your House to her ambition.”

                        Cathak has eight legions. Sesus has seven and Mnemon has three camped in Incas Prefecture: I wouldn’t say Mnemon couldn’t possibly win. Mnemon winning is all but certain, the only question is how much damage will be done to the Realm before she does. Mnemon, the hero of Jiara, is reaching out to you now because she recognizes the good you’ve done securing the city and whipping the Regent and Patrician’s into action to defend the Realm. We can simply stand aside, let Cathak exhaust themselves fighting you and Sesus, then sweep in once you’ve bled them dry. But we’d rather stand by your side and protect the Realm, together.” Danireya counters, glowing with a soft blue light as Essence eases her words.

                        Cathak has eight legions. Peleps has the Imperial Navy. The Imperial City cannot hold against a protracted siege, and Peleps dominates the coast.” Ragara responds calmly, “If the fate of the Realm wasn’t at stake, I’d admire your bravado. But it is. And the path forward is the path of peace. Mnemon needs to set aside her jealous desire for the Throne, and do what is best for the Realm.” He turns to Ledaal Ludila, “Surely House Ledaal recognizes that there are threats arrayed against the Realm that require our attentions.”

                        Ludila raises her shoulders in an affirmative shrug.

                        Melody cuts in, “If we’re concerned about the fate of the Realm, make peace by getting the man marching on the capital to stand down. Don’t lecture the women trying to protect it.”

                        Ragara sighs, “I’ve tried. Pasiap knows I have tried. But Cainan is gripped by Essence fever: he feels he must claim the throne, and claim it now. He will not be dissuaded, but he can be reasoned with. House Cathak holds House V’neef, and House Mnemon, in high esteem. If you do not make an enemy of Cainan, this war can still be averted.” He turns to V’neef, “If you welcome Cainan to the city, the Blessed Champion of the Dragons, then you kill this bloody war in its crib.”

                        Danireya scoffs, “House Sesus will never let Cainan usurp the Capital. If you welcome Cainan into the city, you exchange a siege from Cathak, who want to take the city to legitimize their rule, for a siege from Sesus, who care only about shaming Cathak. For everything else, Cathak is a House of honorable warriors. Far better a siege from them than from the House renown for sabotage and espionage.”

                        Ragara rises, heaving the groan of an old man, and he shakes his head sadly. He lays a hand on his sister’s shoulder, “My life has been long, but my biggest regret is the blood I shed lusting for our mother’s throne. Do not repeat my mistakes, sister.” He walks from the room, stopping in the doorway to address the Dynasts, “Mnemon would rather rule over a kingdom of bones than continue as Matriarch of a Great House in a strong and prosperous Realm. Think carefully where your loyalties lie.” Then, he leaves.

                        My brother,” V’neef toasts, finishing her tea. She fishes out a wine bottle and five glasses, and pours them all a drink, “Before you arrived, I was seriously considering his proposal. I still am. But I am intrigued by this letter from Mnemon. She writes about joining forces, a ‘triumvirate’: Three Excellencies, three sisters, to protect the Realm with Mnemon ‘primus inter pares. I would be the ‘Mistress of the Seas’. I assume Mnemon would take the title of ‘Empress’, even if she is too coy to commit the words to the page. And the third would be… Rulinsei?”

                        Berit. We’re hoping she will take command of our armies.” Danireya says, studying V’neef carefully.

                        Berit? Mnemon, Berit and V’neef – Protectors of the Realm.” She smiles and takes a drink, “You’ll never convince her.”

                        Danireya takes a deep breath, “Well, one problem at a time. Right now we’re trying to convince you.”

                        V’neef sets down her glass, and looks at them intently, “You’re being serious, aren’t you. Mnemon is really reaching out to me to form an alliance?” V’neef scrutinizes them carefully, “Very well, I have three conditions.”

                        Name them.” Melody entreats.

                        Firstly, I expect Mnemon to commit at least two legions to the defense of the capital. She’s got three to the South, and one in Darjilis, she can spare them.”

                        That only leaves us one to hold off Ragara to the South, but certainly the greatest threat right now is the Cathak legions. Mnemon recognizes that and will commit the troops.” Danireya agrees.

                        Good. Then we have an alliance to stop Cainan seizing the throne from the moment her reinforcements arrive. But if Mnemon wants an alliance to install her on the throne, I have two more conditions. My second condition is simple: nothing is final until everything is final. Until Berit agrees to join this triumvirate, then I don’t agree either: if you want to convince me, convince Berit.”

                        Ganan drains his glass, sets it down and folds his arms over his chest, but says nothing.

                        She’s our very next stop.” Danireya reassures V’neef, and she takes a small sip of wine.

                        Not your very next, I hope. Because I need something from Pangu across the river.” V’neef continues, “House Cynis has alchemical soils. I’ve spent years trying to unlock their farming secrets for my vineyards, but now they’ve abandoned their holdings. I need bold sorcerers, preferably with Cynis blood, to cross the river and bring their enchanted soils back here.”

                        Is now really the time to be thinking of wine!” Ganan angrily erupts.

                        V’neef is unfazed, “The Imperial City is perhaps the most densely populated city in the world. We import a tremendous amount of food – even during peace time. I’ve directed the Merchant Navy to keep us supplied the best they can, but the Cathak-Peleps alliance can still starve us out in a matter of weeks. It is imperative that we stop them in the field – that’s where your legions come in. But if we can combine Cynis soils, with the magics of the Imperial Palace and my own know-how, we might be able to stretch ‘weeks’ into ‘months’ – perhaps long enough for Sesus and the other Houses to break the siege.”

                        Danireya bows, “Your terms are acceptable. We’ll return with the soil.”

                        They leave the room, the blue-and-white guards allow them to pass, Ragara’s entourage has already left.

                        Danireya turns to Udi, “Ludila, Stormwind back to camp and redeploy the legions-”

                        Ludila finishes summoning an Infallible Messenger to report back. “Or I can just come with you. Whichever.”

                        Melody whispers to Ganan, “That is a useful spell.”

                        Fine.” Danireya says, pinching the bridge of her nose, “Quick trip across the river, grab some enchanted soil, back by nightfall. Ganan, any ideas?

                        Ganan thinks for a moment, “My aunt, Cynis Rasoni supplies brandy-wine to the family. Rasoni brandy-grapes are grown in alchemically enhanced soil, just off the river. She keeps a small manse, we should be able to find samples. Can’t carry a vineyard into the threshold. Uh… which way is out?” Ganan looks left and right at the maze of the Imperial Palace.

                        Danireya points decisively in one direction then pauses… “I only know the Mnemon wing… Udi?”

                        Ledaal Ludila laughs, “I have no idea! Melody?”

                        Why in the name of the Dragons, would I know the way around the Imperial Palace? Where’s that guy who hates everyone?” Melody shrugs her shoulders.

                        Amon Mora?” Ganan asks.

                        That’s not a bad idea,” Danireya says, letting the wind carry her words to the Keeper of the First Imperial Seal, asking that he send someone to escort them out from V’neef’s quarters.

                        You say that, but it is a bad idea.”Ganan insists, “Amon Mora is a creepy, sadistic, son of a bitch who’s just as likely to let us rot as he is to help us out of here.”

                        The thought had crossed my mind.” A deep, milky, baritone voice comes from behind Ganan. The tall, if hunched, blue skinned form of Amon Mora leers at Ganan – his black, gold-trimmed clothing immaculately pressed and crisp. “But I assumed that it was best not to have Cynis Ganan roaming free around the Palace. This way please.”

                        The Dynasts follow Amon Mora back the way they came. Melody tries to engage him in conversation.

                        Do you have any thoughts on the impending siege? The Usurper’s so-called Miracle?”

                        Cathak Cainan is not an ideal choice to sit upon the throne.” Mora says, with notable disdain in his voice, “But he’s a better choice than Mnemon.”

                        Danireya sucks her teeth, “And, why do you think that?”

                        Creation is rife with the Anathema. The Dynasts pillage the Realm to line their pockets. Cainan will bring military discipline to this failing Realm. Misguided. The Realm turns on the bureaucracy: it is the Imperial Service which collects the tribute, builds bridges, assigns lands, makes the laws. The military is such a small part of that equation, Cainan’s single-mindedness will be ruinous. But at least he plans to take action. Mnemon lives in the shadow of her mother, and she is a pale reflection of true power.”

                        That’s not true!” Danireya shoots back, “Mnemon has great plans for the Realm, and more power than you will ever wield.”

                        Mora smiles to himself, “That might be true. Do you care to share any details?”

                        You’ll find out when she sits on the throne.” Melody cuts him off.

                        So Mnemon still has designs on the throne that Cainan has claimed?” Mora sighs and shakes his head as he shows the Dynasts the exit.

                        Danireya starts to summon a Stormwind Rider, when Melody cuts her off.

                        Wait, for real, do you know where you’re going? It’s not like we can just wander north this time?”

                        I know Pangu,” Ganan interrupts, “Head north, I’ll direct us.”

                        The Dynasts fly out of the Imperial City, heading north. The countryside is quiet as they race towards the Imperial River: there’s no sign of the Cathak or Sesus legions, at least, no obvious sign.

                        Ganan’s eyes strain the horizon for dust plumes, and glinting steel, “The legions must still be a few days off...” He comments.

                        They skim across the Imperial River to the north bank. Ganan steers them along the estuaries, pointing out Pangu city.

                        There’s usually more river traffic.” Ludila points out, “Barges, water markets...”

                        Casinos.” Ganan adds, “Drug dens. Go that way.

                        They eventually come to an impressive, horse-shoe shaped building set into a vineyard. The grounds look abandoned and stripped bare, but the manse itself is constructed from priceless green jadeand it seems sealed against intruders.

                        Danireya sets them down outside the building, and starts to bark orders, “Udi, take samples from the field. Ganan, get us in the manse. Melody, cover us.”

                        Ganan walks to the great double doors that lead into the manse. There’s no obvious lock, or mechanism for opening the manse. He scrutinizes the design carefully, the wheels of his mind turning like a millstone wearing down the problem.

                        Guys, we might have a problem here.” Melody says, pointing out smoke rising from the far end of the vineyard.

                        Gan, keep working on the door. Udi, Melody, rank up.” Danireya readies her shield as an enormous plume of fire raises out to the sky and starts to advance on them.

                        Eventually a fang of red-and-black clad corsairs come into view. Their leader’s anima lashes out violently – a column of blood red flames, streaked with pitch black smoke. He carries a massive, two handed Grand Daiklave of red jade.Whilst the leader is clearly Dragon-Blooded, his companions do not seem so blessed. Their skin is charred and burned, and their weapons look distinctly mortal. Yet their frames are unnaturally twisted, as if warped by sorcery and they shuffle along beside their leader like grotesque marionettes.

                        And so the Cynis cowards come home to roost at last.” The Dragon-Blooded crows, “I am Sesus Dabab, and I am your doom!”

                        Sesus Dabab,” Danireya begins, “I am Mnemon Alinos Danireya, these are my companions, Mnemon Melody and Ledaal Ludila. We are here to get aid against the Usurper. We’re on the same side.”

                        Dabab’s anima leaps up into the air as he charges at them, hoisting his sword over his head.

                        Udi surrounds herself with a sphere of crackling lighting.

                        Melody sights the charging Sesus scion, “Shame.” She mutters to herself as she lets fly with a killing shot. Dabab’s expression doesn’t change as the arrow heads towards him, but there’s a puff of smoke and the smell of brimstone as one of his minions disappears then reappears in the path of the arrow. Melody’s shot takes it straight on, and it crumples to the ground bleeding.

                        Neat trick!” Danireya mumbles as Dabab closes and swings his mighty sword. Danireya raises her shield to block the blow but is pushed backwards by the mighty impact.

                        Danireya shoots a blast of flame at the flaming Exalt before her. Dabab channels the fire into the ground, diverting it harmlessly.

                        Dabab’s remaining three minions lurch forward and batter Danireya who holds them off with her shield.

                        Sorry Rey.” Ludila says coyly as she blasts Dabab with a bolt of lighting. The bolt bursts out, catching Reya and the minions in the blast. The Dragon-Bloodeds’ jade weapons conduct the blast, as do the minion’s steel, and none escape the storm. Electricity arcs between the combatants, wracking them terribly.

                        Dabab crashes forward, sprinting past Danireya to close with Ludila. He swings his mighty sword and smashes at Ludila as she desperately tries to turn the blade away with a bolt of lightning. Dabab’s swing arcs through her defenses and sends bites into her torso, smashing ribs and drawing blood.

                        Dabab’s minions lurch at Danireya, stabbing at her with long spears, ripping into her.

                        Melody fires at Dabab again. He pulls his blade back over his head, and another minion is sucked into the path of the blow, appearing in a cloud of smoke.

                        Danireya turns her mystic flames on the minions, enveloping both of the remaining grotesques in killing fire. Reya rises from the flames, her own anima condensing into a swirling mandala of frozen ice crystals before collapsing into a raging snow storm.

                        No more meat shields.” Melody smirks to herself and she fires again, the blow staggers Dabab off-balance.

                        Danireya screams, “For the Realm!” and she charges with her shield in front of her, crashing into Dabab, smashing his face in with her shield, with a spray of blood. He looks at her with an astonished look of amazed respect.

                        Ludila shoots a blast of lightning at Dabab’s back. The Sesus scion drops to his knees, defeated.

                        Give it up Sesus Dabab!” Danireya reprimands sternly, “Drop your weapon or die where you stand.”

                        Dabab lets his weapon fall to the ground and places his hands on his head. Melody advances on him, covering him with her bow as she arcs round to check Ludila.

                        Ludila labors for breath, “I assume you have some rope?” She says, grinning at Danireya.

                        I have rope.” Melody says, “Cover me.”

                        Ludila takes aim at Dabab as Melody advances and binds his arms. She ties the rope tight, then empties her canteen of water over the ropes.

                        Let’s try that again, Sesus Dabab. I am Mnemon Alinos Danireya, this is my sister Mnemon Melody, and our companion Ledaal Ludila. We are here to win allies against Cathak Cainan, the Usurper, in defense of the Realm. It was my understanding that House Sesus stands against Cainan, was I mistaken?” Danireya folds her arms imperiously over her chest. The ash from the still burning vineyards peals away from her, leaving her immaculately clean, and her fresh spear wounds no longer bleed, indeed she hardly seems marred at all.

                        Dabab looks up with fierce defiance, “Against House Cathak, and all the Usurper’s allies. I am here to secure supplies for the war effort, by repatriating them from the cowards of House Cynis.”

                        Betcha couldn’t open the manse.” Melody taunts as she starts to dress Ludila’s wounds.

                        Dabab burns with shame, “I knew it was only a matter of time before House Cynis sent someone to empty the treasures of this manse. I planned to simply wait.”

                        Empty the treasures?” Ludila adds, “You mean you suspect this manse is full of treasure?”

                        Dabab, grits his teeth and nods, “This manse was home to Cynis Falen Rasoni. She died on the river three days ago on the way here. The last harvest withers on the vine, her sisters have not come to empty the manse yet, if they even know Rasoni has fallen.”

                        That’s what I call a for-tu-i-tous circumstance.” Melody grins, “Wouldn’t you say so ladies?”

                        If Ganan can get us in.” Danireya says coolly, allowing herself a small smile.

                        We’re in!” Ganan bellows as the doors of the manse yawn wide.


                        Danireya spends 8XP to train Speech Without Words.

                        Melody spends 8XP to train Heartbeats Before Death and 5DX to train War 4.

                        Ganan spends 8XP to train Feeling the Dragon’s Bones.

                        Well that very nearly didn't happen.

                        Apparently the PCs wanted more balanced factions. I had to face-down a mini-Usurpation after I laid out what they were up against and how little support they had. So we stopped play, for like, half-an-hour, to go over who they know and what advantages they have and to reassure them that I plan on them winning (eventually). Which has somewhat messed with the pacing a little, because I sorta wanted whatever they tried first to fail, but now they pretty much have to succeed or I'll be accused of railroading them into a no-win scenario (which, to be fair, there is precident for)... but whatever, this still works. Probably.

                        I was planning on using Moss Reynholm's essence explosion idea to whittle down the Cathak forces a bit (Minton suggested Cainan's sudden, unexplained death -- also a cool twist), but now I'm worried that will be interpreted as me immediately caving to player-pressure. So I might keep that in the back pocket for now. I do love cribbing from the Wedding and Murder scenario though. And I hear Bright Oblisk is a perfect venue.

                        Small rules querry here about Heart Conquering Prowess (Presence Charm from Heirs to the Shogunate, page 154 of the preview). Danireya did three damage against Resolve 3. Obviously, for a standard Instill roll, that would be a success, but HCP reads "deals damage greater than it's target's Resolve" -- would 3 damage vs Resolve 3 succeed or not? Three isn't greater than three after all... (And whilst we're here, what if my target has two health levels left and I deal two health levels of damage -- does HCP proc or not? If I incapacitate them, then I may forgo one level of damage... but if I forgo one level of damage, then they're not incapacitated... and are they left unconcious or on their last -4?)
                        Last edited by JohnDoe244; 09-14-2020, 07:04 PM.

                        Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


                        • #42
                          I really want to get to my campaign now, I'll try to encourage my players to vote for a more house-conflict-civil-war theme for it.

                          Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post

                          Specific ideas can always be adapted in play. Idea generation strategies are also always welcome -- no advice too basic or too advanced (sometimes what seems obvious, isn't).
                          • A Dragonblooded member of the Imperial Post is found wounded on the side of the road, optionally dying. He was on a mission to deliver a package to a high altitude mountain village. He has never, not in 200 years of service, failed to deliver a package. This might be the end of his career, especially with the civil war, and maybe even the end of his life. He begs the players to deliver it for him. That mountain village is a hell of a place to get to though this time of year, due to snow/rain/wildlife whatever.
                          • Cynis Curan (Realm, p.139) encounters the players and requests their help in finding a mother-daughter duo that were under her protection. They've been kidnapped as a plot by dark sorcerers to use every drop of her royal blood as a catalyst to initiate several non-sorcerers into sorcery.
                          • On the road to a town they encounter somebody fleeing, looking for help. There's been a disease outbreak. Turns out a plague god that was bound in a prison by monks 300 years ago is free. He sent his mortal herald ahead and demanded worship or else consequences, and the consequences are death by charm-enhanced plague outbreak. The players have to manage this disease through medicine and quarantine while finding the plague god and stopping this before it grows out of control.
                          • A collapsed mine which killed several miners is now home to hungry ghosts preying on the mining town. No monk available to do funeral rites, and more worryingly there are reports of weird lights and stranger creatures. Turns out the miners unwittingly broke open a massive geode containing a fairy. That fairy collapsed the mine and is using the hungry ghosts of the miners to ferment nightmares in the town, and using those nightmares and the small wyld pocket it has to create goblins. Backed into a corner it will also puppeteer the dead bodies of the hapless mine workers to defend itself.
                          • There's a grand party going on in a coastal city. A wealthy Threshold merchant is going to be there, and he's somebody that is looking to sign a contract for weapons. A huge boon during a war, but having been at sea he doesn't know the current situation. He may be spooked by the civil war and retreat to weigh his options if he finds out, or he may want to take advantage of one side or another. The PCs have to decide if they want to tell him the truth about what's going on, and they need to maneuver around a house Peleps attendant who's also trying to secure this contract.
                          • A massive explosion rocks the countryside, something has moved the dragonlines and created an eruption of lava in the middle of a town. This one is just pure disaster relief, where the only enemies are choking smoke, shifting ground, wildfire, volcanic ash, stone rain, and of course liquid rock. People are dying, precious objects are being destroyed, and there's very little time. Optionally some elemental may be responsible for it, not required but see below.
                          • An elemental is responsible for a disaster. This disaster was, in fact, engineered by the enemy. A town or fortress with strategic value is currently being made useless by some expression of elemental fury, the players have to stop them, and ideally make them fix the problem, or fix it themselves.
                          • A traveler's inn in the middle of nowhere has something that Turns out it's being run by bandits. They're army deserters that forced the owners of the inn into the basement at swordpoint and are committing highway robbery with the prices they're charging. They may also recognize the players and be ready to sell the information of their location out. Alternatively if discovered they may sell information they know in exchange for less punishment.
                          • A massive storm comes out of nowhere, filled with aggressive storm elementals. A sorcerer who lives on top of the mountain has been feuding with a powerful air elemental for a century, the people who live nearby know this and feel one of the two must be responsible for this. Visiting the house of the sorcerer reveals that the elemental is there, raging in grief. It turns out that over the decades of feuding the elemental grew to love the sorcerer, and now believes her to be dead. She is not, she made a mistake in attempting a new spell intended to summon and bind several first circle demons at once. Turns out it only summons them. She's been dragged into the deep basement of her house by various demons and they're trying to figure out what to do with her. If rescued she consoles her friend and tells them that when her time comes, they must know that she would never want anyone to suffer because of it.
                          • The PCs get robbed in the middle of the night by a group of particularly sneaky Flickerfeathers. They specifically target the second-least alert person while the least-alert is on watch. If they don't get discovered in the act they dangle their prize in front of the players and lead them on a wild goose chase through the woodlands and wetlands, through obstacles of their own making just for this purpose. If the players catch up they graciously admit their loss at the game and give it back.
                          • The Broker (Adversaries of the Righteous) shows up and intimates to the players that he has information that they need, something to do with their next mission. But he trades info for info, and wants something in return. There's a big gala going on tomorrow at the house of a local noble. He wants a scroll that will be kept in the footlocker of one of that noble's guests. Thing is, he doesn't know what room that is, only what guest will have it. Even worse, it's a masquerade. Oh, also the scroll can't be found missing, otherwise the owner of it will know the information is leaked. The players have to go there, find out who's behind what mask, and where their room is, then get the scroll, copy it or memorize it, and get out.

                          There should be at least one idea in there you can use to mix it up a bit. It's super late here but I can try to come up with stratagies, or more ideas, tomorrow.


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                            Small rules querry here about Heart Conquering Prowess (Presence Charm from Heirs to the Shogunate, page 154 of the preview). Danireya did three damage against Resolve 3. Obviously, for a standard Instill roll, that would be a success, but HCP reads "deals damage greater than it's target's Resolve" -- would 3 damage vs Resolve 3 succeed or not? Three isn't greater than three after all... (And whilst we're here, what if my target has two health levels left and I deal two health levels of damage -- does HCP proc or not? If I incapacitate them, then I may forgo one level of damage... but if I forgo one level of damage, then they're not incapacitated... and are they left unconcious or on their last -4?)[/LEFT]
                            RAW it would fail, I'm not sure if that's intentional.

                            As for the forgo health level thing, if you incap them with just enough damage I think you can leave them at their -4 with the social influence triggered. Although I might say that if that's the case the final sentence doesn't apply?


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                              Apparently the PCs wanted more balanced factions

                              Enjoyed that session, very cool. Thanks for posting it.


                              • #45
                                Wait, they don't love you like I love you.

                                Just setting up for the next sess.

                                Here's the maps I'm using for this:


                                Session 52 - The Zianosen

                                R-rated. Foul language, moderate threat, moderate violence, mild anguish, very mild lesbian sexual themes.

                                Chapter 52The Zianosen Reya (140XP 112DX, 135/103 spent; 9GP 11SP), Melody (140XP 112DX, 139/108spent), and Ganan (140XP 112DX, 138XP/112DX spent; 2WhP 33GP 27SP)
                                The gates of Rasoni’s manse, The Zianosen, yawn open. The inside of the manse is pitch black.
                                Melody kicks the bound Sesus Dabab forward, driving him into the manse first.

                                “What?” She protests as Danireya shoots her a withering look, “He’s been waiting to get in for three days?” And she follows in after him.

                                “I’ll just wait here.” Ledaal Ludila says, perching herself on the ground gingerly. Melody has bound the wound caused by Dabab’s Grand Daiklave, but she’s in no shape to be exploring a mysterious manse.

                                Danireya uncomfortably shifts, her weight, feeling her own wounds. She takes Cynis Ganan by the arm, and they walk into the darkness of the manse. Ganan reaches out with his senses, feeling the dragon’s bones.

                                Ganan clears his throat as they enter the manse, “Don’t freak out.”

                                “Freak out about wh-” Melody starts… as the doors of the manse swing closed behind them, “Oh you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

                                “The manse has very specific geomantic defenses. But I can override them from the hearth room.” Ganan explains patiently. “We get the alchemical soil, attune to the manse, liberate any treasures my aunt left behind-”

                                “Get eaten by the devil-vines.” Sesus Dabab adds under his breath. The light of his still blazing anima seems strangely muted, casting eerie shadows into the dark of the manse.

                                “Mela’s name! What’s a devil-vine?” Danireya asks, holding her shield close to her own still blazing body.

                                Ganan unslings his firewand and loads it.

                                Sesus Dabab continues, “Basically what it sounds like.” He spits out through gritted teeth, “Easy to fend off, impossible to destroy, poisonous.”

                                “And where is the control room for the manse?” Melody asks.

                                “The roots of the Zianosen go deep.” Cynis Ganan says, “This floor is for processing the grapes, living quarters above, storage to age the brandy in the basement below, with the hearth room below that.”

                                “And these devil-vines?” Reya questions.

                                Dabab leans towards the nearest wall to illuminate it with his anima. The entire inner wall is a slowly writhing mass of vines. They seem to twitch in the Dragon-Blooded’s light and a probing vine slowly peals away from the wall, causing Dabab to quickly back up.

                                “The outer walls of the manse are jade. But the inner walls are made entirely of the vines.” Ganan confirms. “Once we’re attuned, they’re no danger to us.”

                                Melody sucks her teeth, and prods Dabab forward again. The antechamber their in is small, and leads to a double door. As they approach the vines pull away from the door and lash at Dabab, who calls out in pain. Reya speaks the Burning Name, and the flames lick the devil-vines, driving them back, and the Dragon-Blooded stagger through the door, and Dabab collapses to the ground.

                                Melody examines Dabab: where the vines touched his skin, he has inflamed red welts, and his eyes look blurry and unfocused.

                                “He’s drunk.” Melody pronounces.

                                “Youradrunk!” Dabab shoots back, words slurring together.

                                Melody grins back at the others, “These devil-vines aren’t that bad.”

                                “Theysheatpeople.” Dabab chuckles softly to himself, and points a wavering finger at a vine snaking across the floor towards his leg. Reya sends another blast of flame at the vines and they drag Dabab away from the wall.

                                “You took us to a manse which eats people?” Melody accuses.

                                “Well… not ‘people’. Slaves mostly, the occasional intruder.” Ganan shrugs, “What? … What?”

                                The chamber they find themselves in is enormous: worktables lead to grape presses, leading to bottles, leading to distillation apparatus, leading to casks.

                                “At the far end of the room are stairs: a spiral staircase leading up, and a great wide ramp going down. The ramp is right up against the wall, unfortunately.” Ganan explains.

                                “So… we just cross this room and go down?” Melody says, moving on. “That seems refreshingly straight-forward.”

                                Ganan awkwardly clears his throat, “Well… there’s the barrel golems.”

                                In the gloom two massive shapes rear up out of the darkness, and start towards the heroes. Their foot-falls shake the ground as they approach.

                                “Of course, why not.” Danireya says.

                                Preempting haste, Ganan levels his firewand, waiting for the golems to draw closer.

                                Melody takes aim at the ponderous golems.

                                Each of the golems wades forward, their forms still indistinct in the shadows. One levels a hosed arm at Ganan, there’s the sound of stone striking stone and a spark lights the tip of the hose… the a whoosh of flame spurts out towards Ganan. Ganan detangles from Reya, and twists towards the blow, taking the Earth Dragon Form and finishing in Unmoving Mountain Stance as the flames wash over him. His anima roars from dim to totemic in a single flurry. There’s a smell of burning alcohol in the air. Ganan stands, his Invulnerable Skin protecting him from the flames… but the burnt fumes assail his lungs and sting his eyes.

                                The second golem sights Melody and lets loose with another gout of flame. Melody’s aim is unobstructed by the darkness as she looses, cutting through the gloom with an arrow that clashes against the spray, successfully diverting the attack. Melody’s anima also flares iconic, erupting into rich purple devil’s thorn flowers before collapsing into a storm of swirling thorns.

                                Ganan ignores the golem attacking him and fires on the one still reeling from Melody’s assault. Flames engulf the vaguely barrel shaped golem, lighting and burning it. A wick of brandy catches fire, and there’s a small explosion, but still the golem advances as it burns – lit up with what reminds the Dragons of a crude imitation of an anima banner.
                                Danireya fires a blast of flame at the damaged golem, setting off a chain reaction that causes it to catastrophically explode.

                                Hidden in the darkness, a vine from the wall snakes its wall across the room towards Dabab.

                                Melody fires an arrow at the remaining golem, hitting full force with a satisfying ‘thunk’. Between the essence guiding her aim and the her uncanny ability to bring death from nowhere, the golem is sent staggering back a step.

                                The golem charges at Ganan with an explosion of energy. As it draws close, it’s finally lit up well enough to see clearly. The torso of the beast is like a giant barrel, with casks set into the back, the legs are pistons with sprung ankles like a deer, the right arm is the flamethrower like hose, but the left arm is a giant, piston driven press. The golem smashes down with the press on Ganan, who jabs upwards with his bayonet, catching the lifeless automaton in the elbow joint to deflect the blow.

                                Danireya blasts the golem with flame, causing it to twist awkwardly to divert the fires from its vulnerable fuel tanks.

                                Ganan discards his firewand, leaping up and smashing into the golem with a double-fisted strike. Ganan’s fists knock bodily into the golem with a blow that would have driven a man to the ground. The automaton rocks back, but is too bulky and well balanced to be smashed to the ground, but it’s clearly set off-balance.

                                The vine wraps around Dabab’s leg and starts to drag him towards the wall.

                                Melody fires at the golem, her arrow bursting into thorns mid-flight, and shearing open the vulnerable tanks on the golem’s back. Rich spirits run down the legs of the construct, gumming its workings.

                                Ganan elbow drives into the golem’s damaged legs, and there’s a twisting sound of splintering wood as the golem starts to come apart at the seems.

                                Danireya cocks a finger and points at the golem, using her thumb to sight the automaton. She speaks the burning name and the flames catch the shattered fuel tanks. The golem shudders and explodes.

                                Thick, choking smoke fills the room. Melody is unfazed, her anima protecting her from the plant-based toxin. Ganan is blown off his feet but otherwise unharmed, the stinging gasses causing his eyes to stream but little more. Danireya chokes in the smoke, leaning heavily on her shield, the powers of the pure white jade fortifying her.

                                “Where’s Dabab?” Danireya asks, straining her eyes against the muted light. The burning wreckage of the barrel golems making it hard to see the edges of the room.

                                “He was crawling towards the door...” Ganan says, his enhanced senses picking out the movement and he points in Dabab’s direction.

                                Melody draws her bow without thinking, sights and fires. The arrow cuts the vine around Dabab’s leg and she goes to pull him back to the group. As she nears the vine wall, it rears to life and lashes at Melody… but her immunity to poison means the vine is only slightly annoying rather than harmful. She easily pulls Dabab back to the middle of the room. Dabab is breathing, but only barely: a thick trickle of vomit seeps from his mouth.

                                “Hold him.” Melody tosses at Ganan, who dutifully pins the Sesus scion. She clears the vomit from his mouth and fishes out some reagents from her satchel along with her orichalcum acupuncture needles. Dabab thrashes, and Ganan holds him down, as Melody administers the treatment. “He’ll live, but he’s not waking up any time soon.”
                                Ganan retrieves his firewand and tosses Dabab over his shoulders.

                                “ll go three abreast,” Danireya says, “Melody against the wall, then me, then Ganan and Dabab.”

                                “Don’t take this the wrong way… but remind me why we care about Sesus Fuck-Face here?” Melody asks.

                                Ganan stops and screws up his face in concentration, “That’s an unusual name.”

                                Danireya takes a deep breath, “House Sesus is fighting Cathak. We are fighting Cathak. Keeping Sesus Dabab alive, and tossing him a casket of fine Cynis brandy to take home might be the first step in forming an alliance. Killing a Dragon fighting against our enemy doesn’t help us.”

                                Ganan nods, “Makes sense.”

                                The Dragon-Blooded make for the down-ramp. Melody giggles as the deadly devil-vines tickle her ineffectually as they walk down. The level below is huge, and filled floor to ceiling with fine, aging brandies.

                                “I’ll hug the wall.” Melody announces, careful that her anima not destroy the brandy.

                                Ganan summons his tetsubo from his anima, and it collapses back to burning.Zianosen Black Pearl 502.” Ganan says, eyeing an expensive looking cask, “Cynis Falen Rasoni gave us a 506 as a wedding present. I’ve got a pair of 504s. I don’t know anyone in the Realm who has a 502, except maybe the Scarlet Empress.”

                                They sweep through the vast basement, but there’s no obvious way down.

                                “Are you sure about this Gan?” Danireya asks.

                                Ganan drops to one knee, shuffles Dabab to the ground, and feels the floor beneath his feet. “There’s definitely another floor below us. I just don’t know how to reach it.”

                                “Gan, sketch out the shape of the room for me.” Reya asks.
                                Ganan grumbles to himself, “With what, Sesus Dabab’s blood?” But he uses his stone carving fingers to trace out the shape of the room with a finger. The work is precise if ugly.

                                Danireya studies the shape of the room, “It’s a code.” She pronounces, her mind turning over. “Can you move these stacks?” She asks Ganan, pointing at the drawing and gesturing where they should be shifted to.

                                Ganan moves the stacks and a clanking and grinding of gears is audible as a hidden spiral staircase is revealed. The Dynasts descend into the hearth room. Set upon a plinth in the middle of the room is the manse’s hearthstone, a green decahedron, the size of a chicken’s egg.

                                “The Harvest Gem.” Ganan identifies, “A potent crystal of vast power.”

                                The Dragon-Blooded attune their Essence to the manse, and Danireya sockets the hearth stone into her shield.

                                Melody raises an eyebrow, “Do we not get to vote on that?”

                                “I’m not keeping it,” Danireya says, “The Harvest Gem makes the surrounding land more fertile. If V’neef is going to try and feed the Imperial City with food grown inside the walls, then it’s going to be invaluable to her.”

                                The manse starts to glow with a soft light, and the muted effect on the Dragon’s animas lapses. Now that the room is illuminated, the Dynasts notice several notable features of the room.

                                On one wall is a sprawling family tree. Cynis Falen Rasoni’s name is clearly visible, and embellished as befitting the mistress of the manse. Cynis Falen Lorena is branched as her sister, with less prominence, and below it Cynis Ganan. As they watch, the Falen disappears from Ganan’s name, and it visibly becomes embellished before their eyes, growing new decoration. From Ganan, new branches form for Mnemon Danireya, Ferad, Melody and the children.

                                On the adjacent wall is a green jade daiklave. “Brandy-thorn,” Cynis Ganan identifies it, “A legendary blade, once wielded by my grandmother. Might make a better gift to House Sesus than a casket of brandy.”

                                “Seriously?” Melody says, as Ganan takes the treasure off the wall, “I don’t get anything?”

                                “Check the chest.” Ganan suggests, gesturing at the remaining wall.
                                Melody flips open the squat, lacquered chest and sees a fine silk cloth. She moves the green and gold cloth aside to find two talents of jade wrapped in the silks. Her eyes bulge. “That’s a lot of money.”

                                “Is it?” Ganan and Danireya say in unison, somewhat condescendingly.

                                “Fuck. You. Both.” Melody says, heaving the chest up. “Dragon’s breath, this is heavy.”

                                The trio walk upstairs to the brandy store and the unconscious Dabab.

                                “Ganan, grab the 502 for House Sesus, and find something nice for V’neef.” Danireya calls, ascending the ramp to the distillery. Against the side of one the walls are the alchemical workstations for enriching the soil, and banked up against the other is a supply of fertilizer.

                                Ganan picks up the brandy, carefully balances Dabab over his shoulder, and heaves upstairs after Danireya, as Melody staggers after him with her treasure chest.

                                “You could have made two trips.” Danireya chides, without looking up as she reads through what notes she can find on the alchemical process.

                                Ganan and Melody both blow air through their lips derisively (pwwt), and return to the manse entrance, which opens before then.

                                “What’s the betting there’s a Sesus legion waiting for us on the other side of the door?” Melody jokes, and she’s pleasantly surprised to see it’s just Ludila on the other side of the door.

                                “What are you doing?” Ganan asks Ludila.

                                It’s immediately obvious to Melody that Ludila was trying to open the manse, even as Ludila blusters a cover-story that she was just studying the mechanism.

                                “Check it.” Melody says, showing off her new found riches.

                                “That’s a lot of jade.” Ludila admits, clearly impressed, “What about the soil?”

                                “It’s inside.” Ganan grunts as he sets down Sesus Dabab. He puts the 502 and daiklave down by the unconscious man, and cuts the bindings on his wrists. (The rope, having shrunk after being wetted, has cut into the swordsman’s wrists, bruising them.) Ganan then retrieves Dabab’s own daiklave and sets it down next to him, hands-off the 506 for V’neef to Ludila, and heads back into the manse to collect the alchemical soil.

                                “This doesn’t look too hard to make.” Danireya says, again without looking up from what she’s doing (now inspecting the tools for making the soil). “I think V’neef should be able to replicate this.”

                                We should probably still take as much as we can carry,” Ganan answers, before setting to work creating a wheelbarrow to cart the soil in from the crates in the manse (7SP 1GP). Filling a wheelbarrow full of soil, “Udi should be able to Stormwind a couple of these, right?” He confirms before putting together another one (6SP).

                                Reya looks up and over at Ganan, the light level of the manse rising automatically as she strains her eyes to the other side of the room. “Sure.” She answers, collecting the notes. She takes out her audient brush and pens a note for Sesus Dabab, entreating House Sesus to enter into an alliance against the Cathak usurpers, and she exits the manse, sealing it shut again after her.

                                The Dynasts wait until Dabab starts to come around, then Danireya and Ludila start casting Stormwind Rider. By the time Dabab has recovered his footing, our heroes are spots on the distance.


                                On the journey back, Melody spots signs of fighting to the east. Though miles from the Imperial City, smoke can be seen rising across the Numinous Rolling Wave Dominion.
                                Again, the Dynasts are stopped at the gates to the city, but they are allowed to proceed (this time without escort) to the Imperial Palace. Ludila leaves the alchemical soil at the palace gates, and Danireya takes a sample they dismiss their Stormwinds. V’neef receives then, again in her own room.

                                “Six hundred pounds of finest Cynis alchemical soil.” Danireya announces proudly, she hands over the sample and the creation notes. “And a small token of friendship: a cask of finest Zianosen Black Pearl Brandy, 506 vintage.” She gestures of Udi to hand the cask over.

                                V’neef nods appreciatively, “That was significantly faster than I expected. I’m impressed, Mnemon Alinos Danireya. As soon as your legions arrive, you may consider that we have an alliance to defeat Cathak Cainan. Any more than that depends on Berit.”

                                Danireya gives a short bow, and removes the hearth stone from her shield, “Excellent, one more thing: a hearth stone that will boost your harvests. Most potent magics. I hope that you find it useful.” She hands over the hearth stone to an astonished V’neef.

                                V’neef’s eyes narrow suspiciously as she takes the gem, “Mnemon is really serious about this, isn’t she?”

                                Danireya smiles, “I’ll tell you when we recruit Berit.”

                                The Dynasts bow and turn to leave, when V’neef calls out to them, “Wait… Ragara. He spied on us. He’s going to Berit ahead of you, and he’s going to have a much easier time passing through Cathak controlled land than you will. Take these.” She hands each of them a badge of office emblazoned with her mons, “I might help you pass through Tepet holdings a little easier.”

                                Thank you.” Melody says sincerely.

                                The heroes retire to the Mnemon wing of the Imperial Palace, resolved to set off before first light. Danireya briefs the assembled Mnemon scions and retainers on the current situation, with Ludila at her side, whilst Melody and Ganan retire to play Gateway together – Melody entreating Ganan to think tactically, and Ganan admonishing Melody to think.

                                As Danireya wraps up the briefing, and Ganan packs away the Gateway board (wondering how Melody beat him), Ludila approaches Danireya.

                                “You’re surprisingly good at this.” She compliments.

                                Danireya looks up at the ceiling in frustration, “I’m going to try really hard to not take offense at the ‘surprisingly’, Udi.”

                                Ludila spreads her hands innocently, “Come on, I didn’t mean it like that. Be honest, you couldn’t have expected things to go this well. Cathak Cainan has been chosen as the next Empress by the Dragons, assembled the largest army since the Contagion, won unlimited financial support… but, call me crazy here, we’re winning. That’s impressive. You’re… impressive.”

                                Despite herself, Danireya feels her heart-beat quicken, but she keeps her cool composure, “If only you’d thought so in the Heptagram.”
                                Ludila makes a face somewhere between shocked and bemused, “We were stupid teenagers, you can’t still be mad about that.”

                                “You betrayed me, Udi. You betrayed me, and tossed me aside like I was worthless. And alright, maybe we never were going to settle down and get married some day, but damn it-” Danireya breaks off, “You were my oldest friend. My first kiss. And you threw our relationship away, for what, good grades? The thrill of hurting me? Yes, I’m still mad.”

                                “Hurting you? Hurting you!” Ludila blinks, takes a calming breath, “We might have still been sharing a bed, but you were pining for Cynis Ganan since the moment you saw him dragging his crippled-ass across the grounds. I… ended things between us because that’s what I had to do… to initiate. I had to make a sacrifice: I had to give up what I wanted most, to become a sorcerer. To catch up with you. And you were already in love with someone else. Breaking up with you was the first thing I ever did… for love. It was the least selfish, the best thing, I’ve done with my life.”

                                Danireya smooths the front of her top, “I didn’t know that.” She responds levelly. She pauses for a beat, “You’re impressive too. I’ve not really… capitalized on my sorcery since school. But you seem to have… done very well. Certainly you’ve become a better fighter than me. You’ve been a great asset so far, and I’m grateful that you’ve put yourself in harms way for me… for our cause.” She gestures at the wound caused by Sesus Dabab.

                                “Are you happy?” Ledaal Ludila asks quietly.

                                Goodnight Udi.” Danireya says firmly, but not without affection, as she turns her back to seek out her husband and their bed for the night, leaving Ludila alone.


                                Melody spends 8DX to train Intelligence 3, and 8XP to train Rebirth of Flesh and Ivy.
                                Ganan spends 9DX and 3XP to train Chambered Fist Charge x2, and 12XP to train Crater-Gouging Blow.


                                Red: Cathak Cainan's Forces
                                White: Mnemon's forces
                                Black: Sesus forces
                                Green: Independent
                                White Manse: The PCs

                                This session:

                                Last edited by JohnDoe244; 09-19-2020, 12:54 PM.

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