Actual Play – Terms of Surrender (4/3/2012)

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

This game was something of a down beat for me, which is to be expected. We hit a huge victory last session, this time we were reflecting on what that meant. In contrast Justin said it was a major highlight for him. Interweaving these stories is cool indeed.

So what’s the what…

Last time we left off the duke Baric Catamere had just surrendered his duchy to house Auley, and pissed his pants in the process.

Now came the tedious task of negotiating the terms of that surrender. Moya wanted a hostage, which Baldric was against in principle, but he ceded to her judgement. Catamere was fresh out of sons, however, and his daughters were all being raised by other other lords. The best he could (or would) muster was 20 soldiers to ride with us and serve under duke Roderick.

Next up on the “oh shit” list was putting Moya’s insides back in her and sowing her up so they didn’t fall out again. We rounded up a court physician (or a physician that often worked in the court) who came in and promptly told everyone to shut the hell up and help him get Moya on the table. He did his work deftly, but she had already lost too much blood. She would live but would not be the same. Moya gained the die-trait “Jesus wound” and lost 1D from power (Successful surgery roll, failed health check).

Advanced fuckery

Afon meanwhile was looking out for Afon. He skirted out of Aeric’s room (where he had been looting last session) and down to the court. Intent on causing strife he refilled Baldrics wine (just what an alcoholic needs), pissed off nobles and generally made trouble.

Brotherly love

It’s kind of funny. I really didn’t know what to have Baldric say to Aeric. They had been apart for five years, five very formative years, and I really didn’t know what they should talk about. So I played up exactly that. Baldric found Aeric ransacking his own room (looking for the stolen letters) and tried to make pleasant conversation. And he failed. It wasn’t that he offended Aeric, he just didn’t know what to say to him. The best he could do was “okay, I’ll meet you by the horses”. And comically, he knew the moment he said it, how stupid (and obvious that sounded).

The theme of Baldric not knowing how to talk to Aeric returned several times. Each time, the elder brother feeling at a total loss of words with regards to the other. Aeric actually initiated their first real discussion. One night while they traveled on the road he asked why we supported the old line of kings, why we refused King Kentigern’s rule. It was an interesting conversation and one that clearly showed our different points of view based on respective upbringings. Baldric argued that Kentigern was not the rightful king, that he took the throne unjustly by force. Aeric conceded that he took it by force but argued that the old king was weak and decadent. It reminded me very much of the argument between the Pure and the Forsaken in Werewolf: The Forsaken.

We didn’t have a duel of wits, we didn’t even roll a versus, it was just converstaion. Baldric asked that Aeric at least spend some time at home, with father, and then decide which side he supported. An extreme act of moderation for the knight he was used to demanding his opinion is correct.

A family re-united

Just a Baldric was awkward with Aeric, so was Aeric way awkward with Roderick (their father) when they were united. And in tern Roderick was uncomfortable around Baldric, not knowing if he could trust him around spirits. It was a perfect circle of social awkwardness preventing what should have been a joyous reunion.

I made sure not to mention Duke Catamere’s surrender and I wanted to give that one up to Moya to announce. We’ll get to that next session I’m sure.

“Brother hold him down so I can cut of his hand!”

The big highlight at the end of the session though was when Afon returned Aeric’s letters to him. He found Baldric outside his room with apples and fruit, trying to work out lines of dialog to say to his brother, as if he was practicing for an interview or an exam. Afon knocked and when admitted into Aeric’s room produced the letters and admitted to stealing them from him.

This was when fun began. Baldric was still outside the door, holding a bowl of fruit and apples when Aeric and Afon started arguing. Aeric was furious that Afon would steal form him, especially something so personal and precious (love letters). Afon attempted to intimidate the boy, but the moment he touched the hilt of his sword, Baldric (still pretty drunk) charged him from behind and knocked him down.

Incensed, Aeric ran to his table and brandished his sword “Brother hold him down so I can cut of his hand!” That how we left off the session. Bad ass!

Thoughts on this game

Baldric’s relationship with Afon is nearly non-existent. He removed him from his service as squire (never believing that Afon actually was his squire). He doesn’t trust him, and most of the time, he just hates the guy. He has tolerated him so far because of various mitigating factors (he was friends with Moya, he swore fealty, he offered wine or ale when Baldric wanted drink) but fundamentally he can’t stand the guy. So I have a real incentive to lead with a belief like “Afon is a thieving bastard, he deserves to be one hand short!”

The thing is that I want to want a relationship with another PC. I want there to be something compelling that brings the characters together, even if they come together in conflict… especially if they can come together in conflict. But for that to happen, I as a player need to know what Afon cares about, so I can figure out ways to make my character care about those things too. Based off that, my beliefs for next session are instead (look at #2 and #3)

  1. Phlome have mercy, Moya can’t leave us. We need her now more than ever. I’ll convince her to stay in my father’s service.
  2. By Argent’s Tits! I’ve let the spirits get the better of me and now my brother is about to cut off Afon’s hand. I must be a better knight than this. I’ll convince Aeric to stay his anger.
  3. Ferros’ Bent Nail I hate Afon and his self-serving insolence. I’ll find out the cost of his loyalty, by sword point if need be.

I also need to talk with Justin about this, as this requires cooperation from the players as well. I’m emailing him now to that effect.

Man, I love the awkwardness of not knowing how to relate to my brother. I love the struggling (and failing) to stay sober, and I love that Moya, who is normally so in charge, is really set back by her injury, and unable to keep a lid on things. Excited about next session!