Actual Play – The Red Butcher Falls! (9/12/2012)

GM: Shaun Hayworth
Players: Sean Nittner, Kristin Hayworth, Justin Dhiel, Andrew Eckhart
System: Burning Wheel
Setting: Burning Theorsa

Beliefs

It’s worth setting the stage somewhat with our beliefs. They of course led to our doom.

Moya: Baldric can’t be trusted armed when he meets the king. I will insist that Baldric (and afon if he goes) be unarmed for our audience.

Baldric: Moya has been distraught since we passed through Redvale. I’ll take her to a ball to lighten her spirits.

Afon (instinct): Protect My Family With Steel.

Mikhael: The True faith must rise once again, I will organize a movement to re-assert the dominance of the true faith.

In the case of Afon, I actually highlihted his instinct because this the was the first time it has really come to the surface. What does Afon do when his “family” (read Moya) is in danger and helping her would put him in equal danger?

A gift for the king

Last game Baldric pulled off a pretty rough circles test to round up the king, which in truth was to gain audience with him. My goal was that Baldric would have a chance to treat with him civilly, and a present to honor his fallen wife, seemed like a good way to do it.

So, here’s a cool thing. Shaun has really been hinting at something for a while. The premise of our game is that an evil usurper took the throne by force. That is certainly the prevalent belief far to the west, where our character’s hail from.  What Shaun keeps dangling in front of us though is that a lot of people, good people, believe the king was right in his actions. The old king was weak, was frittering away the wealth of the kingdom, and needed to be replaced. It reminds me a lot of the creation myth from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, only we’re playing the Pure. Kentigern isn’t happy with duchies in open defiance of his sovereignty, but he’s not a horrible person. In fact, he has some divine cause, to protect Theorsa from an evil that comes from the west. Like say, a dragon… that oh, I don’t know, Moya accidentally summoned and convinced to fly east.

We met with the king, but before doing that Moya and Baldric had to have their obligatory fight. Only this one was really a harmless lovers’ quarrel (or at least it seemed harmless). Moya: I’m not going to wear this dress. Baldric: You must wear a dress, we have an audience with the king. Moya wins the argument but offers a concession instead.  Fine, I’ll wear the dress, but you can’t bring your sword! Ouch. What’s the harm in that? The would surely take Baldric’s sword from him at the castle before allowing him to see the king anyway. Fine, he’ll give up his blade. OH MY GOD THIS WAS SO TERRIBLE…. just wait.

In the presence of the king, it was finally confirmed that Aeric (Baldric and Moya’s brother) would marry the king’s daughter Liselle. Not only were they clearly in love, but they would also bind the divided kingdom together. A master stroke by King Kentigern. Initially I hopes to speak to the king in private to see if there was anyway he would surrender the throne without bloodshed, but that seemed impossible. Instead, we seized the opportunity to speak with Aeric. Kentigern granted us a private audience with his future son in law.

I should probably mention a few more beliefs at this time:

Moya: I will help Baldric convince Aeric to leave with us and if he refuses, I’ll work with Afon to take him away by force.

Baldric: I must find Aeric and prevent his wedding; I’ll show him the Crown of Kings and demand, as his rightful king, that he not marry the daughter of my enemy.

Afon:  Aeric is a traitor and I respect that, but I need to take him out before he moves against us. I’ll move him into a position that will make it easier for me or Baldric to kill him.

What neither Baldric or Aeric knew was that if he couldn’t win his brother over, Afon planned to kill him right then and there. I almost wish I lost that Duel of Wits!

We decided with no hesitation that as soon as Balric put on the crown (which was a big deal itself, he had never worn it before) that this was a BIG DEALTM. Baldric’s stakes: Call of the wedding and side with us. Aerics: End the war and bend knee to the king. Damn! Aeric lost with only a minor concession, that he would delay telling the king until after the funeral.  That worked well enough, Baldric intended to declare war on Kentigern then.

“Howdy king. Thanks for your hospitality, I’m ruining your daughter’s wedding, and declaring war on your over the body of your dead wife.” – Baldric, a nice guy. 

Sorting out the sordid solutions.

Afon could tell which way the wind was blowing and wasted no time after the meeting with the kind finding safe passage out of Rathmore. He found an old smuggler he had done work with in the past and made a deal to get us smuggled out of Rathmore should things go south. As if there is any other direction on my fucking compass!

A ball fit for a queen

Baldric’s big event finally arrived. His host, lord Branstrat, had promised a great ball in celebration of the upcoming nuptials and to welcome House Auley properly. Remember, he showed up on the scene from a failed circles roll.  Baldric believed he was truly and ally, and hoped to find more supporters of the true king the crowd.

As a matter of “letting it ride” and because we went straight from one event to another, Baldric and Moya showed up looking splendid. Moya in a beautiful dress provided by the lord, and Baldric without his sword.  (heh, that rhymes). They were introduced and Baldric began cavorting, while Moya hid away with the military generals talking “shop”. Baldric still thought this was every ladies greatest wish, to have a ball in her honor, to dress up in a beautiful dress, and to dance with the man she loves. Moya had, uh, other ideas. The entire thing made her feel uncomfortable and exposed. Although not as uncomfortable as she would be soon.

As the night went on Baldric tried to hob nob with other nobles and flush out one that might be loyal to the throne. He found one, (or so he thought, another failed circles roll, this one was Ob 8!) and they started drinking together to celebrate their upcoming victories. Now, Baldric drinking is a bad idea in the first place.

Instinct: Always drink in excess

But it gets even worse when the man you are drinking with is poisoning you. And EVEN more so when you offer to drink for the priest, who has sworn abstinence, who was also being poisoned.

Thats when the world started getting fuzzy

In a grand gesture, before all his guests, lord Branstrat finally revealed his intentions. To deliver Baldric and Moya to the king… in chains. “Guards. Seize them!”

Well, that went over like a lead balloon. Moya, surprised, cast The Fear and scared off most of the guests, but only long enough to startle folks and cause confusion.

Afon, who did have his sword was quickly on top of one guard and getting stabby.

Mickael, a man of the gods, snuck out with the guests, but stayed in the doorway so he could overhear what happened.

Baldric, who didn’t have his sword, rushed lord Branstrat and put a broken beer stein to his throat to intimidate him.

By that time the guards had re-oriented themselves and had their crossbows trained.  Moya cast shards at both of them, Baldric threatened the lords life, and the guard pulled their triggers.

Crossbow bolts to the gut suck something fierce in Burning Wheel. B8 wounds. Ouch. Also, poisoned. Double ouch.

The Aftermath

Baldric, still conscious dropped the makeshift shiv and ran to cover Moya (not conscious). Afon, knowing Baldric’s squire Rowan held the crown on his person, persuaded him that he could do no good hear, and to flee into the night with Afon.

Thoughts on this game

There was so much awesome terrible in this game. Almost all of it because of failed circles rolls. The missing a sword thing was brutal. Even with the crossbowmen at a distance and armored, I’m convinced that Baldric’s G7 sword skill could have won that bloody versus. As it it was a close match (Moya only barely lost the contest) but I think we could have turned the tables had he been armed. And Baldric knows it too. Besides, you know, dying, he is hella mad about that. And more, that he trusted one of Kentigern’s lords.  This is the first game I’ve played in a while where I KNEW what my beliefs and instincts for the next game would be the instant the game ended.

Belief: The cause is lost if an Auley does not claim the throne. I’ll get word to Afon that he MUST deliver the crown to Aeric, tell him our plan, and convince him to claim the throne as King of Theorsa.
Belief: If Moya does not make it through the night, neither will her doctor! I’ll make sure he gives her the best care possible.
Belief:I trusted the Brandstrat when I never should have. I’ll apologize to Moya for my foolishness and heed her council regarding how to act against the betrayer.

Instinct: Never trust the word of a Kentigern Loyalist.
Instinct: Always keep my sword by my side.
Instinct: Always drink in excess.

All but the last instinct are new. This was a major game changer for Baldric.

Right now Baldric and Moya are both down -3 dice from severe wounds. Assuming the doctor can treat them they will only be -2 and both will be conscious. There is still hope yet for Moya to kill the king with fiery death.

That reminds me, when treating with the audience, we found out Moya has a nickname. The Red Butcher. Rough.  I am SO voting that on as a reputation next trait vote.

I don’t think Shaun was making any of this happen, but it really needed to happen. For this story to have teeth our protagonists needed to be cut down just before they made their triumphant stand. Brought to their knees, so they would have to decide if it was still worth fighting for now that things seem so hopeless.