Our final showdown started AND ended on a grim note.
The game opened on some pretty heinous acts. Things that made me wonder if I still wanted to play my character, as he has become. The grim part I’m fine with, the maudlin part is giving me issues. More thoughts on that to come with the next AP reports.
They know who we are, Aeric is in danger
Without much pretense Baldric started the game killing hundreds of helpless people in a horribly cruel way. His method was going to be to starve them, Afon suggested drowning, which seemed more reliable, so he went for that. Either way, it was horrible.
Here’s his reasoning. All of these people know, thanks to the lost Duel of Wits, that the Auley family opposed the new king, and since the king holds Baldric’s brother Aeric hostage, that means if word got back Aeric’s life would be forfeit. So, the solution was to kill everyone that knows, including hundreds of people they left behind in the caves.
In fact Baldric’s new instincts were (again because he lost a DoW and agreed to use his real name):
- Instinct: Never hide my name.
Instinct: Kill anyone who learns my name.
Yeah, it was like that.
Here was the really messed up part of this. Where Baldric really shows what a hypocrite he is. The whole time he’s planning to kill all these people, he’s fuming about how he suspects that Afon killed Sgt. Telgarn. It wasn’t even that he had feelings for her so much as he respected her and believed an arrow through the back of a leader was a horrible act of dishonor. So, Baldric is working away at collapsing a tunnel, you know, to commit mass murder, and gets in a fight with Moya about Afon, only to have the rubble collapse on him and trap him under it… just as Afon returns.
Trapped under rubble Baldric accuses Afon and to his credit, the mercenary doesn’t even hesitate “yep, I killed her. She deserved it.” Baldric is just fuming he’s so mad, but trapped under the rocks he can’t do anything about it. The two men spend some time yelling at each other about honor vs. the way the world really works and finally they compromise. To earn Baldric’s trust and faith, Afon will be his squire.
I know, I know. I doesn’t make any sense. Baldric is pretty much at the point where he hates everyone on this journey, including, perhaps especially, himself. But what’s he going to do. There are only four of them, Eogin is badly wounded and the boy was flown off by a dragon. His duty compels him to accept the offer, tolerate both Afon and Moya a bit longer and try to find a way to sleep at night. Because he knows, he’s actually the worse one there… as he continues to murder hundreds of helpless and unsuspecting people.
Moya shoves the apology down Baldric’s throat
After all this, Baldric is just in a foul mood and Moya tries to apologize to Baldric for what she’s done, but he totally doesn’t want to hear it. So, as usual they fight. Moya trumps baldric in the first exchange of a Duel of Wits. (Her Point vs. his Feint -> Very bad) and he ends up accepting “Fine, I would have done the same thing for my brother.” But he sure as hell isn’t happy about it.
Finding the boy king
We fast forwarded to arriving in the center of Kashkyr, at the city of the Dragon God Seleth. Moya had arranged for signs to be left for us by the god-ling son of Seleth so we, after securing a safe place for Eogin to recuperate, made our way to the hidden city by the mountain.
At the gates Afon tried to tell a lie, that go misinterpreted as a warning that the city was about to be attacked, and so, rather by folly we were allowed into the city. A city, which to our knowledge had never had a Theorsan step foot in it. At least until a few weeks ago when Aziz, or Owain, boy king was delivered here by the dragon. Ha!
We made for the mountain in the center of the city and there we found Owain and Ferraxis outside. Both we eager to see us.
This was Baldric’s first encounter talking with a dragon, and the discussion started very amenable. He wanted us merely to speak to his father on his behest, to try and earn his favor back. It seemed an innocuous request, but Moya saw through his deception and knew there was a reason he would not just himself. Eventually the dragon relented that he wanted to take his father’s place and planned to kill the old dragon! Yeah!
So we had this brief, and somewhat comical discussion amongst ourselves about whether or not this is just how dragon culture works, and as none of us have dragon-wise, decided that even if this was the standard for dragons, we wouldn’t be part of it. Baldric commanded Ferraxis to flee his fathers mountain as they would be no part of his treachery… and he comes *this* close. The dragon responds with fire!
Yep, we fought a dragon. Okay, a little dragon, but a dragon just the same. I was afraid the fight would be very lopsided, that having three times as many actions as he had, we would just trounce him, and we did, but not because of what I expected.
The fight started looking pretty grim. Afon managed to put an arrow in his hind and deliver a superficial would, but the dragon breathed fire on him and sent the mercenary running and screaming for a large body of water. Baldric pounded away relentlessly at his mid section (scripting counterstrike, set, great strike, set, great strike over and over to try and get through his heavy armor) and the dragon was having trouble catching the knight, as he was inside his range (thank the stars for him positioning with his breath weapon and baldric taking the advantage with sword).
The the wonky thing happened. Baldric landed a light wound. Nothing severe enough to stop the dragon, but he did hesitate for a single action, which is exactly the action Moya’s choking hand went off. Normally it would have been a power vs. power test to choke the dragon out but because it was hesitating the dragon didn’t get a roll and Moya trounced it, choking it out in two actions. The fight was actually over very quickly. Seleth, in his colossal majesty flew from his mountain, picked his son up by the neck, much as a dog would pick up her pup, and then shook with such strength he snapped his sons’ neck and left his broken body where it fell.
Yay, we win, well almost
Would be usurping dragon defeated, Owain’s pilgrimage was complete. He had met his god Seleth (and the creature was impressive enough, most of us were inclined to treat him with some level of divinity as well). Having met Seleth, Owain was now ready to return to Theorsa with us, but there was one thing missing; a mighty artifact called The Crown of Kings.
Baldric asked Seleth for this prized object and the haggling began. God or not, Seleth was still a dragon and still loved nothing more than his horde. We made several offers, and he eventually accepted a trade of the Throne of Theorsa, a giant throne made of the bones of his brother. However, he wouldn’t do so without collateral. So Moya offered up her name. Yep, her name. Through some dragon magic, he was able to take her family name such that none of her family recognized her as their kin!
HOLY CRAP. Seriously. After Baldric and Moya had gone through so much turmoil over the importance of family and of honoring your name, for Moya to offer it up was the final nail in the coffin for Baldric. She took everything that she convinced him that mattered and threw it away. After that he just hated her. For a full night (until the ritual was performed) he knew why he hated her. After that, when he didn’t remember that she was his sister, he just knew that every time he saw her he just felt a giant hole inside himself.
Thoughts on this game
This game was an emotional roller coaster for Baldric, and to a lesser extent me as well. I had hoped he would come out of this story as a redeemable figure, somebody that I was still excited to play, but by the end he was a maudlin bastard. Completely disillusioned with the world and not even sure exactly why (as he didn’t know Moya was his sister, he just knew she used and betrayed him).
The fight with the Dragon was cool for the first exchange but it felt cut short. I guess that is part of how Fight! works in Burning Wheel, it’s unpredictable. I was hoping to take him down, little at a time, landing blow after blow until he finally succumbed, but in truth that isn’t really how BW works. Since wound penalties are cumulative, it’s pretty easy to become quickly incapacitated by them.
I tried using Aristia again (with sword) and got my sword to G6, going into aggressive stance that meant G8, spending fate, taking a FORK here and there, and rolling well, I was getting 7+ success every blow. Having a high grey skill is just ridiculous.
Afon is SO different from Eogin. I have to give Justin mad props for playing one character that is such an understanding and forgiving soul and another that is such a self serving bastard