Actual Play – Preparing for War (11/22/2014)

PathfinderCoreCoverGM: Dennis Jordan
Players: Regina Joyner, Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, Mia Blankensop, and Sean Nittner
System: Pathfinder
Adventure Path: Kingmaker

The royal children have been kidnapped. The city is on fire. We’ve been attacked by Issia and then told to sit on our hands and watch the war we were all born to fight in.  FAT. FUCKING. CHANCE.

Noleski Surtova, so called king of Issia, we’re coming for you. Here’s the story of how…

Aftermath

The day after the fires, the small council met and were presented with a host of recommendations, some more in the form of demands.

  • We must go to war now!
  • We must wait until the children are safe!
  • We must stay for peace!

These three views (and small variations thereof) all have merit but there were some undeniable facts. A lot of people died in the that attack. A lot of good people. To do nothing now would not only betray our own sense of justice, it would betray our nation and their faith in us. Peace with Issia is not a option.

Dead Ends

At first we were faced with nothing but road blocks.

Leccio, our sage, and greatest source of information was, well distracted. He was not only having a hard time getting used to being in the body of a Half-orc but also still suffering the trauma of death, and of not being a hedgehog. He really liked being a hedgehog. Now things tasted different, felt different, looked different. Everything was out of proportion. Everything he touched he broke. Leccio was just a mess.

Edward did what he always does, focus on crisis control. He made sure no more fires started and that the existing ones were being put out. Edward is the rock that hold us together, but he was in no position to help us prepare for war.

Merrowyn had a few go between that Cobb used to contact her. A man named Jerome, and a woman Lydia. She searched but both were missing as well. None of her drops were picked up. No response from the spymaster or his organization.

A week later, Brigidda attended a small council meeting to tell us that the Church of Abadar declared this a civil matter and would not take action. Their silence in the matter condoning the trechery of Noleski. More on this below…

Fighting back against the tide

Giovanni began to transform. Some might have said he saw war as inevitable, but secretly we could tell he was looking forward to it. He loosened his iron grip on our finances and tightened belt. He began training, exercising, and even dressing a little bit more…like a pirate. Yar!

Brigidda, agreeing that the church was complicit with this atrocity, left her position and asked to work for us, to become the high inquisitor of Aldoria!  Whut! This mean placing Toti high priest of Abadar in Aldoria and officially (if silently) breaking from the fold! Toti was ready to go war with the church. Proclaim them heretical. Abadar may be the god of wealth, but he’s also the god of Cities and laws. Issia was in clear violation of both. Toti was ready for a schism! We are the new orthodoxy! Merrowyn wondered if this would displace our beloved Jahad. 70% of our population reveres Erastil, would we be shoving orthodox faith in Abadar in their faces?

“We are about to go to war with Issia. We’re not starting a religious war with the church of Abadar as well! If they want to sit out fine, but we’re not nailing any priests to the wall right now!” – So spaketh our Swordlord.

Interestingly Domingo had some information on Brigidda that Cobb had shared with him in case blackmailing was necessary. Specifically that she liked innocent young girls, who she hardened, trained to be more like her, and then grew bored of and left.

King Sootscale and an army of 1000 kobolds came to our doorstep and re-pledged their loyalty. Not only would they watch our front at night but he also offered to help train our troops for fighting in the night or preparing for surprise attacks.

Franco was put in command of the First Aldorian and instructed that the swordlord herself would be training with the troops. With her ring of sustenance and her mithral full plate, she hardly slept and when she did it was in her armor. Miquela expected the same out of her soldiers!

When reviewing the scene in the nursery Merrowyn noticed something she had missed before. One of the wet nurses looked striking like Cobb. At first she even thought it was him wearing a disguise but not, she just bore a striking resemblance. Enough that she could have been related. Merrowyn took her to the secret sally port she used to frequent with Marcus and Olivetta cast a Speak with Dead spell to see if she could provide us any information. Even in death she was reluctant to help us. Part of her pact with the Family to never reveal secrets. But we did receive one clue that gave us hope. The tavern we had built Cobb. The one that been burnt to the ground (and then some, the basement burnt as well) was a front. Just a distraction to give would be enemies a target. Apparently it worked… but if it did that almost meant Cobb might still be alive!

Changes

Leccio was distraught. Olivetta’s presence didn’t help him either. It just made both of them uncomfortable. He was hiding in the dark, dismissed all of his staff, and hardly eating. He kept trying to scry on the children every night, but to no avail. He kept trying because it game him some kind of purpose, but he wasn’t helping anyone. Rombilard, who we thought might understand the whole “changing forms against your will” thing wasn’t much help either. He just yelled “Get over it!” and walked out, thinking his job done.

After some time it was finally Toti that got him to come out of his dark place. At least a little. She took him out to a wooded area and gave him some privacy so he could take off his clothes and roll around in the dirt. After that he wept for a long time, but seemed better, a little better at least, after that. Toti had a dust bath installed in his chambers and we worked on finding him more comfortable footwear!

Domingo gave us an update on the political front

  • We need to prepare for war, but not look too much like we’re going to war just yet. It’s political theater.
  • Other families have hostages as well. Noleski didn’t stage as grandiose an abduction but he still took their loved ones.
  • The Lord Mayor Sellmus is being oddly quiet. He doesn’t seem to be really present at all.
  • House Strozzi and Ridolfi are openly at war.
  • House Sordello, Sellmus, Amato, and Aldori are all holding back. We’re not sure which direction they are going to go.

2nd Week… Progress!

Leccio, in slightly better spirits told us he attempted to scry on someone who was… not with us any more. The good news is the results he gets when scrying on the dead are decidedly different then when scrying on our family. And even among them, there were differences.

  • Rudolfo, Savia, and Floriana were behind some kind of fog. He could sense there were present but got no sense of where they were. He suspected some kind of passive defense occluding their detection.
  • Renato on the other hand was a complete block. He was shut down at every attempt. This seemed more like an active attempt to protect him.

Chall Fingo, the advocate (among other things) that a year ago came and defended the spy Jubilost, teleported into the middle of our court. Wow… we gotta get better defenses than that. Unfazed by intruding on us unannounced Chall told us a few things. First, the Shalaza-Dak (Righteous Death Dealers they call themselves) were the ones that abducted the children and wreaked havoc on the city. It seems these guys give bad names to sell swords like Chall. While he’ll do a lot of things for money, they go too far.

Chall gave us a scroll with information about them and told us that he wanted to aid us in the rescue mission to get back the children. He surrendered that he must be paid for his services so for propriety sake he accepted a single iron coin. He gave us a token that we could use to alert him that we were ready and then bid us adieu.

The scroll revealed that they were really diabolical people. They inhabited the Astral Plane and had been granted a domain their by the Githyanki queen herself, presumably for services rendered.

Still needing more information Olivetta attempted a difficult communion with her ancestors to see if they could aid us in finding the children. The answers to her questions had to be simple, yes or no, but some were certainly more emphatic than others.

  • Are your missing grandchildren together? No.
  • Are you missing grandchildren on this plane of existence? Unclear
  • Have they been harmed? Unclear
  • Is your great granddaughter Floriana in Issia? Yes!
  • Is House Infangati our enemy? (After much consternation) No.
  • Will any of our family turn on us? Unclear.
  • Are there sympathizers to our cause in Noleski’s court? (Sounding indecisive) No.
  • Is Mivon sympathetic to Aldoria? Unclear
  • Will the other the other houses follow us if we go to war? A resounding NO!

The commune was coming to an ended and all of the voices became suddenly quiet when one who had not spoken before gave Olivetta a single imperative “Stop embarrassing me!”

Domingo came back with more news from the front.

  • He was able to find some of Cobb’s connections in Restov and some of them would be returning to Aldoria soon.
  • The Strozzi and Ridolfi houses out outnumbered so they are picking their battles carefully.
  • Staggio and his small force are killing a lot of people.

Elara and Arvin set out to explore our norther frontier in the Narlmarshes for future (and imminent) growth.

Miquela sent a letter to Antonio Ribissi of Mivon asking him to come up and visit us.

Merrownyn one day when she was at a vendors stall eating soup after many long hours of training with the troops was bumped into by a stranger…who turned out to be Jerome. He informed her that the family was hurt, and scattered by not dead. There were still in action in Aldoria but looking for a spy. Someone had to know what we were doing. Someone inside. They couldn’t reveal themselves until they knew who it was. When he left Merrowyn realized he slipped a wand into her pocket. A wand of non-detection (10 charges).

Kingdom Building

With the immediate fires put out it was time to gather our forces and prepare them.  Some Kingdom building turns:

Turn 33

  • Kingdom is stable (+1BP)
  • Claim hexes B8,B4, and C8
  • Farms built in B8, B9, C8
  • Watchtower built in B9
  • Sawmill built in I3
  • New Army – The Horde. Cleric/Barbarians of Gorum.
  • Buildings: Tavern (to replace the old), Barracks (for the Horde, though we had to fight them out of taking over the Cathedral of Abadar), Smithy, and a Military Academy.
  • New Arrivals: Christoph The Forged. A dwarven blacksmith who really doesn’t like to be with other dwarves. Especially not the Dwarven Improvement Society!
  • Event: Large disaster. A forest fire that threatened our Sawmill. Our druids and rangers put it out!
Mivon Coat of Arms

Mivon Coat of Arms

Turn 34

At the start of the month Antonio Ribissi arrived from Mivon. He made his necessary public appearances and then met with Miquela in private. He was sympathetic to us because of the abduction. He couldn’t promise anything but said he would vouch for us to be recognized at the next outlaw council.

When he returned we send a small visiting party with him. Toti and Olivetta. Then went to Mivon and learned a little more about the river kingdoms.

The met with various locals, learned that “a walk to the fish pond” has sinister meaning, and found out about Pitax. You know the place that Kasten went to be general for…it’s ruled by a megalomaniac bard King Castruccio Irovetti, a petty tyrant who fancies himself a god and makes artist of the city create terrible art in his effigy. Oh… and BARD!

They also met the lord Mayor Raston Selline, a famous swordlord himself. Willing to abdicate control of Mivon to anyone who can best him in a duel. Speaking of duels they learned about the lists! An official system for sanctioning duels. A duel must start as a response to a challenge or insult, who petition to duel. Petitioners are called suitors and the lists contain the results of the previous month’s victors. There is an art to insulting someone just enough so they challenge you to a duel, but no so much that they actually want to kill you in said duel.

There is also a code that if you wish to challenge someone of great station, say the lord mayor himself, you have to first defeat their inferior. In Rason’s case, his inferior is Caspar Tillick, an incredibly capable swordsman himself.

The Mivon armies are made up of warriors from different houses, with each house pledging to a swords in defense of the nation. There is also a splinter faction of the thieves guild that resides there. In many ways it is a mini Rostland.

They also discovered that Ribissi himself is the brother in law of the heir apparent!

elemental_earth_wtrees__ryan_sumoBack on the home front Leccio’s research revealed that there are several substances that block scrying naturally. All of them rare, expensive, and dangerous to obtain. He also reminded us that he knows someone who could get information for us. A telepath. Someone who can pick up the thoughts of everyone in a room. His problem is that he can’t turn it off. Somewhat dubiously we sent for him.

  • Kingdom is stable (+1BP)
  • Claim hexes D7, D8, D9
  • Farms built in D7,D8,D9
  • Roads built in H4, I3
  • Druid Army – The Red Claw raised in the old Dwarven hold. Their leader is Ferendir.
  • Event: Monster Attack – Engraded by the road built over it’s child and Elder Earth Elemental came to trash the gates of the Tusk (and everything in it). For possibly the first time ever, the people of Aldoria got to see their leaders being awesome, and fighting to defend them. The great creature, after giant chunks of rock were chipped from its mass by spell, sword, and claw, finally retreated back into the below.

Turn 35

We drafted a letter to Issia. Telling them we just wanted to see our children. A visit from the swordlord to make sure they were still okay. The letter was written but before we could send it out Jerome approached and begged Merrowyn to hold onto it. For just a bit longer. Trusting, perhaps blindly in Jerome as an agent of Cobb, Merrowyn consented and told Miquela not to send it. They were close to uncovering something and this letter would, inexplicably, foil all their hard work. Bitterly, Miqeula held onto the letter… and waited.

32-old_beldameMeanwhile, back from her trip to Mivon, Olivetta went to visit the swamp witch to negotiate our expansion into her land. She let Olivetta in (something we haven’t been able to do in the past) and seemed pleasant enough. She told Olivetta that most called her the Old Belthane but her name is Galandrial . Galandrial knew of Luronico, the green dragon that had been attacking our lands, and warned Olivetta against confronting her. The witch herself had gotten the dragon to stay at bay, but only after several painful encounters. Oh yeah, and Galandrial wasn’t going anywhere.

  • Kingdom is stable (+1BP)
  • Claim hexes J5, I5, and G7
  • Farms built in J5, I5, and G7
  • Roads built in J2 and J3
  • Settlement started in the old Dwarven hold J2
  • Events: Squatters (+2 Unrest, -1 Fame, -1 Stability) and then New Subjects (Society +1, Stability +1, Unrest -1)

And then the news. The big reveal. In the sally port that held secrets we awaited something Jerome told us we would all want to see.

From out of the shadows Cobb appeared. With Rudolfo and without one of his arms. “I had to take him to keep him safe. And I had to keep him from you until we found her.” He gestured back to the shadows and Jerome and Lydia came out pushing a figure in front of them. It was Svetlana! Cobb seemed angered by her appearance, he raised his hand at her and before we could stop him we saw her shift. Her features drained away. The color in her eyes when from brown to a metallic silver. Her skin faded and turned grey. Her hair whitened and shew grew slightly taller. We were looking at a doppleganger. Specifically a doppleganger spy that killed Svetlana, replaced her, and had been feeding information to Brevoy.

dopplegangerWe’re gonna need a new lord mayor!

What now!

Franco was immediately awarded a medal for not sleeping with Svetlana again (DoppleSvet had tried to seduce him).

Enza (Miquela’s sister) was appointed Lord Mayor of the Tusk.

As soon as we were done with that, we got a raven from Tazzelford with an urgent summons!

Plans for next session

The next time we do kingdom building we need to build a house, magical academy, guildhall in the Tusk and raise an army in Tazzleford. Assuming there is anything left of it!

Thoughts on the game

Wow, we did a whole lot. If this AP post wasn’t enough, before the game I asked a bunch of questions of Dennis to try and get a sense of the scope of he game. Should we be concerning ourselves with local, national, global, or planar affairs? And if we were dealing with threats and opportunities from every part of the world (and beyond) how granular can we act in our personal lives?

I got answers to questions of our capacity. How large of armies can we raise, how high level. How far away (in hexes) are our nearest neighbors.  What I couldn’t tell and still don’t know is what should we be expecting. How big of armies do we need to go fight a war? We don’t want to bring a paltry force that is decimated, but neither do we want to spend a fortune on armies we don’t need. We’ll have to find out.

We’re similarly uncertain with regards to getting back the children. So far our spy network has revealed that we were being spied on. Maybe now that we’ve stopped the doppelganger (how can we be sure there was just one though) we can start spying on Issia to find out how strong their armies are, where the children are, and how we might be able to hurt them.

There are also local hazards that we’ve been ignoring because we don’t know how to address them. The will-o-wisps on Cadlemere island, the old beldame in her hut, the dragon that periodically raids our settlements. From everything we’ve heard all of these are bad news and we should stay away from them. I’m wondering if a better tactic to take with this would be to not worry about them. Leave the hag along, leave the wisps along, and only fight the dragon if we need to drive it off. Focus on the war and forget about the domestic problems until we have to face them.

I’m looking forward to trying out the mass combat rules. The Horde, the First Aldorian Heavy Infantry, the Red Claw, the Second Aldorian, and the Third!