GM's Note: Here we have a bit of treat. Given that only Kraebor and Kavon were attending the fete at the Vanthes manse, we decided to do a little play-by-forum for this one. What follows is lifted directly from our forums, and should hopefully give you a different perspective on how this game is actually played.
Also, you'll note that this section is in the present tense, which hopefully is not too jarring given the narrative up to this point. Anyway, we hope you enjoy it, and without further ado give you:Kelen's Soiree
The night of the 29th of Savor is perfect for a party. After a hot clear day, perhaps the last gasp of Jarin summer, the evening is warm, clear, and calm. Looking up, the new moon's absence magnifies the starlight by comparison, making it seem that every star in the sky is shining down on the fete. As the night deepens, however, the fogs so common to the Thard valley creep in, blanketing the city in an otherworldly calm.
The manse of Kelen of Vanthes is packed. The list of luminaries is long, and it seems that most of the Senators in attendance have brought an entourage, and indeed the lowest attendants (grooms, footmen, guards, etc) are actually housed next door at the manse of Senator Gethedyle of Yemala, who has graciously offered his house for the purpose. Because the number of guests far outstrips the size of the largest space in the Vanthes household, the entire house is in use, with each room serving as a party in miniature, and guests roving freely between them. This gives the party a more intimate feel than such a large gathering would normally convey.
Minstrels and entertainers are in abundance, and already politically important figures are gravitating towards each other, renewing acquaintances and discussing matters of consequence in hushed tones.
Notable guests include Marshal Kronas of Elernin, as well as his son Ryburn and Ryburn's wife (who looks somewhat put-upon). Tiergal of Asarn, whose father is now the President of the Senate is there as well, and he and Senator Karad of Exenion were half-drunk before the party even started. Senator Demosa of Aquil is quietly holding court amongst his supporters and potential allies, and Senator Trennet of Fethrin (himself an ordained Save-K'noran priest) is holding forth a discourse on astronomy on one of the house's many balconies. Senator Xeldon of Pesed, also Marshal of the Kom Legion, is surrounded by a number of officers from various legions, telling war-stories and enjoying the company of other men who know the true cost of the kind of opulence on display this night. Senator Yeredar of Arnoth is a hanger-on in this conversation, but not the "alpha male" and clearly somewhat put-out by it.
Notable by their absence are Senator and Prefect of Coranan Toribir of Wejik (who has begged off citing the amount of work required to prepare for the upcoming session), Senator Turin of Markaz (who is apparently becoming something of a social pariah), and Evenor of Mariam, scion of the wealthy Mariam clan and Senate hopeful. Rude barbs imply that young Evenor fears an attempt on his life, which many take as an insult to his gracious host and to Harmon of Kainel, the commander of the Red Guard who is also in attendance this evening.
Because the party extends throughout the house, announcements of various arrivals are really only made in the dining hall. Though Kelen herself is nearby when you arrive, she gives you both the merest of nods, as she is already involved in conversation with a number of influential folk.
The party, in all its pomp and majesty swirls around you. Servants bob and weave carrying flagons of fine wine and tasty morsels for your pleasure.
What do you do?GM: BTW, if you want or need to make a roll for something, just tell me what you're rolling and what you got.Kraebor: At the beginning of the party, I'll circulate and mainly look for painting opportunities. Using negotiation with court etiquette in complement I get 5, 5, 4,3,2,1.
As the evening progresses, and it looks like tongues are beginning to wag, I'll try to gather new information on the Teamsters vote. My results are 17,10, 5, 3, 1 (idle chit-chat & court etiquette)
And just a general, noticing/listening to others conversations. Int & observation gets 8, 8, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Is Senator Nordaka there?Kavon: Kavon will give a similar nod in greeting to Kelen of Vanthes, thank his lucky stars that his arrival isn't being announced, and make his way to her wardrobe where she's kept the new jewelry box after grabbing a drink and some hors d'oeuvres. Any admirers present?GM:
All three Senators Nordaka are in attendance. Wysele (the "grand dame" of the Senate), Jakyth (the current clanhead), and Gyvren (his brother), as well as Cobart and Amerak of Nordaka, who are the current Marshal and Magistrate respectively of Coranan province. They are the sons of Jakyth and Gyvren. Kraebor can't remember which one belongs to which parent, however.
In terms of painting opportunities, Kraebor is approached by an extremely fat man named Borisir of Wytel, whom Kraebor knows to be the Magistrate of Gerium province (of which Geshtei is the capital). Borisir compliments Kraebor on the work done for Leyton of Sosaldas. "If you can make Leyton's little trollop look that delectible, I'll bet you could make me look downright regal,
Yes, Borisir comes across as queer as a three-sided penny. And he gives Kraebor a sort of "appraising" look. But given his mode of dress, his smooth, freshly soaped, baby-soft-looking skin, his perfumed, elegantly coiffed hair, and finely embroidered, silk-backed robes, he is obviously very wealthy. And he seems interested in having Krabor do a portrait. He even jokes that the canvas will have to be large, to better capture his entire personage. Apparently Borisir is totally cool with being a fat bastard. He invites Kraebor to come to the Magistrate's residence in Geshtei at any time. Or perhaps, if Kraebor were more interested in a "private sitting" (and he actually winks here), he adds that he's staying at the Scroll and Quill until the 8th of Ilvin. Then you are effectively dismissed as he flits (surprising given his girth) away; "Oh, Gethedyle!
In terms of rumors, loose lips, and idle chit-chat, this place is the fekking jackpot. Kraebor picks up the following tidbits:
- Ezaid of Demoreth was almost certainly done in by fell sorcery. There is actually some blowback against the Morgathians of all people, and Senator Cullen of Bathrys proposes dragging the Khidarmur (high priest) of the Wreaker's Temple before the Senate to "answer for his crimes."
- Uven of Gelt has met with a number of high-level functionaries within the government, most notably Toribir of Wejik, the Prefect of Coranan. It appears that these are negotiations that more clearly define the roles of the Teamsters within the city limits of Coranan proper. Given that most land-owners are against their plowsmen and drovers becoming guilded, it looks like the Teamsters are settling for a charter that allows them to operate only in urban areas.
- If the Teamsters become guilded, it is likely that Minzal of Sule, master litigant and current head of Mangai, will lose his seat. There are already mutterings.
- Senator Pyselle of Onandos, a wealthy master miller and owner of the city's largest fulling operation, has already been "testing the waters" for Sule's job. Onandos is something of a blow-hard, but he's well connected. He's also vehemently opposed to the Teamsters, viewing them as little better than rabble.
- It is whispered that Kelen of Vanthes is with child, and that the child is Ryburn's
- It is whispered that Ryburn's wife is with child, and that the child is Kronas'
- There is a large diplomatic contingent of Laranian clergy from Kanday in town. Though none are present tonight, their leader was invited. His absence has rankled some, though Kelen seems unconcerned and is overheard to defend the man. "I'm sure that their arduous journey through the border-lands was taxing. Mayhap they are simply too tired for festivities, and wish to be well rested for their appearance before the Senate."
- The 4-year-old grandson of Senator Ondol of Morlorn is still missing, bringing yet more sadness to that already sad house.
- Raenar of Lund, the Haruspex to the Senate, doesn't go anywhere in the city without an armed guard these days.
- Tiergal of Asarn has a new gladiator who he says will follow in the footsteps of his former champion Usel the Swift. He plans to debut the young woman in the games tomorrow.
- The post of Magistrate of Kom province has stood vacant for a year. Ezarn of Halan, formerly the legar at Stimos, has been put forward as a candidate, and is here in Coranan to see and be seen.
There are folks in the room where the jewelry box is displayed (prominently upon a side-table, I might add), but talk is mostly focused on rumors and politics. As he circulates through the house, Kavon does come across a couple having clandestine sex in an out-of-the-way alcove. As soon as they are spotted they break off and hastily go their separate ways. Make me an appropriate roll to see if you recognize them.Kavon: How wicked! Coranan High Society with Thardic Politics in complement: 9 5 3 2 2 GM:
You're pretty sure that the woman is the wife of Jithias of Mariam, Marshal of Gerium Province. You know she's from another influential family, but you can't remember if it's Nordaka or Elernin. You also know that the dude she was with (whom you do not recognize) was not
Jithias of Mariam, as he is currently chilling with the other soldiers telling war stories in the front parlor downstairs.Kavon: Kavon'll raise his eyebrows and clear his throat at the scandalous scene but turn his eyes from it and give the two time to make good their escape. Don't want to make a scene, no telling who's here that might know my name. Is Ryburn staying well away from Kelen? He might remember me as Sir Bail's manservant.GM:
Ryburn was already at the party by the time you guys arrived, so you don't know if Kelen greeted him then. But she's playing the busy hostess, and he's spending his time mingling. His wife is on his arm the entire time. Ryburn shows no indication of recognizing you (he's mildly inebriated and rolled no higher than a 3).Kavon: I'd like to strike up a conversation with someone talking about Ezaid about the proposed bridge plans the late senator had, and their future now that Ezaid has, er, moved on from this world. Do I need to roll any appropriate skills for that?Kraebor: Kraebor will circle between the room with the jewelry box, and the room with the mural. I'd also like to listen in on and note who is near Demosa of Aquil. Is Kronas in the room with Xeldon?GM:
Kavon strikes up a conversation with a couple of affable gentlemen who are discussing Demoreth's demise. One of them is a mercantyler from Telen named Wilom of Ulter (whose uncle is Senator Faranor of Ulter). Kavon would remember that this is the same clan Ulter that is mentioned in the Lia Kavair archives as being "connected" - Wilom is basically a loan-shark.
Anyway, at Kavon's subtle prompting Wilom and his pals (most of whom originally hail from Telen) start talking about the bridge project. It turns out that while Demoreth was backing the idea, it is originally the brain-child of Senetor Jereth of Kainel (cousin of Harmon of Kainel, current Warden of Coranan). Demoreth wanted new port and warehousing facilities built at Telen, and agreed to support Kainel's plan as a sort of quid-pro-quo.
On the topic of the bridge itself, feeling seems mixed. Wilom seems to be pro-bridge, but probably because his clan has such close economic ties with the Nordakas. But one of his compatriots thinks it's a complete boondoggle and waste of funds. "Why would we want a bridge to the gods-forsaken marshes on the other side of the Thard?" Another quips that he hopes that [Senator] Jhered of Asarn doesn't plan to support this plan the way he supported his candidate for Warden. This gets a laugh, but goes over Kavon's head. This is the point at which one of Wilom's compatriots says to Kavon, "You look familiar, sir. Do I know you from somewhere?"
Meanwhile, Kraebor circles Demosa of Aquil's party. He is surrounded by a number of other Senators and hangers-on, including a man who turns out to be an ambassador from Rethem. At one point Senator Aquil excuses himself from his friends and has a private word with a man whom Kraebor recognizes as Senator Pargos of Elbrin, also from a wealthy Shirani family. The conversation is brief and pleasant, and leaves Kraebor with the impression that the two have made plans to discuss a matter further at a later date. Demosa then returns to his group and resumes his conversation, which at present revolves around the nuances of well-crafted theater production.Kraebor, please make a Perception check (Int + Observation in complement).
BTW, Kronas and Xeldon seem to be moving in different circles. Xeldon spends pretty much the whole night with other military men, whereas Kronas is surrounded by political folk.Kavon: Kavon will smile at the man and shrug, "I've attended some of Kelen's other parties but perhaps you know me from the temple? I'm a steward in the employ of the Ordh clan. My master, Sir Bail, is a close associate of Althea the Silken." Kavon'll change the subject to the teamster 'menace' before separating himself from the conversation to go search for more wine. He'll mention in parting that he desires to see the painting of Kelen, he's heard great things about it.
Negotiation (Con) + Psychology in complement: 16 9 8 7 5 4 4 4 1GM:
The assembled company buys your story, and one goes so far as to say, "Ah, the Temple. Of course." On the topic of the teamsters, this group is universally opposed, not surprising given clan Ulter's mercantyle roots. And when you mention the painting, Wilom himself directs you to the room in which it hangs. One of the older members of the company says, "I wish Master Malthain had painted her in her clerical vestments. Though time hasn't diminished her beauty in the least, I remember what she was like when she was still a priestess. Dressed in gossamer and samite the woman could halt the very heavens themselves when she entered a room."
Kavon is thus able to part from the group amiably and naturally.Kavon: Kavon'll take his leave from the party after another goblet of wine and some more food.GM: And Kraebor, I'll use the Int+Obs/2 score you rolled from above, as it's still appropriate.
As Kraebor is watching Demosa of Aquil, he notices a man enter the room on several different occasions. He never speaks, but you catch that he circles until he gets to a place where Demosa can see him clearly, at which point he makes a series of subtle hand gestures. After receiving the merest of nods from Demosa (extremely subtle - and in fact Kraebor twice observes the Senator doing it while he's speaking), the man again circulates to another part of the house.Kraebor: As Kraebor circulates can he pick up on where Demosa's man goes?GM:
Kraebor spots Demosa's man a couple different times. In every situation he's being unobtrusive. If you want to get a better idea of what he's up to, you'll need to follow him more closely, which will require a Tailing roll (though I'd let you use Courtly Etiquette in complement to more smoothly "blend in" with the party).Kraebor: I currently have a 9, 5,4,4,3,1. If I need to reroll failures to blend, I will do so.GM: No need, you have 2 successes to my 1.
You are able to unobtrusively follow the guy around. He is going from room to room. In each case he will loiter for a few moments, oftentimes craning his neck and looking from side to side as though looking for a particular person. On at least two occasions Kraebor observes him politely interrupt a group and say, "Excuse me, but have you seen <so-and-so>? He was here just moments ago and I wanted to ask him about <inane topic>."
Kraebor realizes that this gives him the opportunity to overhear snippets of conversation, as well as to gauge reactions of different groups of people when he brings up a particular person's name. He does this for a few moments, then returns to the room where Demosa is holed up and makes his report in some kind of subtle sign language.Kraebor: Okay, I think Kraebor will just enjoy the party for a while, and then leave when it starts to wind down.