Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Legacy e01 : Houses of the Blooded

Legacy - Episode One
May 2012 - ongoing
Houses of the Blooded

Episode One: The Puzzling Party of Lady No

After what seemed like months of mapping out schedules, our first long-term Houses of the Blooded game is finally underway.  While I have run John Wick's Houses of the Blooded before as a one shot game, those games were not able to utilize the system's bountiful options to the hilt.  This chronicle aims to explore the many facets of Ven life.

The game currently has four players, though only three have fully created their characters.  The original idea was that all the players were siblings, but I realized that too quickly reduced their available number of houses to two.  (I will not say more on this matter, or to do so is to ruin a plot I already have in mind.)

Mahar plays Aesil Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox.  Her attention to fashion is matched only by her subtlety in manipulating others to do what she desires.  They say she is as Beautiful as she is Wise, but never someone to rely on when it comes to strength.    Her husband, Corin, is known to Love His Wife absolutely even if the Party Never Ends for him.  Her barony is Everbower, and her dreams of gaining more prestige are quite well known.

Rocky plays Tempkin Mwwr, Blooded of the Snake.  His penchant for sensing trouble seems matched only by his fascination for information on the sorcerer-kings.  Some whisper he is Wise and Cunning more than anything, so long as you do not ask him to wield a blade.    Prominent is his silver-finger sheath called Scythe, which adorns his right pinky.  Unlike most ven, Tempkin Mwwr has proudly taken a husband rather than the expected wife, and most know of Piotr to be surprisingly Bureaucratic in his interests.  Piotr, however has leanings towards Court Gossip and has been known to subtly manipulate others to achieve his goals.  His barony is Arakeen, and his hunt for more knowledge is whispered in the courts.

Urim plays Alexai Burghe, Blooded of the Bear.  His love and fidelity to his wife is matched only by his frightening temper; something quite common among young ven.  The man's Strength serves him well and his Prowess in battle is just as dangerous, though at times he can be quite slow in worldly matters.   His blade, which he calls Dragonfang, is always sheathed at his side.   Sittydeth, his wife, is quite the Life of the Party, and has been known to Love the Shoes of those who know their fashion sense.  Surprise does come to many that she Loves her Husband so much.  His barony is Huenadora and his idealism is quite the topic of many wagging tongues.

The three were invited to a party being held by Lady No and each quickly mapped out gifts they were to bring.  For the game, I told them to assume they spent the last year preparing for this party, and knowing it was a Rank two party, each player quickly came up with interesting gifts.  Aesil resorted to two Seasons worth of fine wine.  Tempkin brought two satchels of rare herbs.  Alexai believed that his two cartloads of various minerals would be deemed acceptable.      What they knew of the party was this:  Lady No is reputedly looking for a fourth husband.

Lady No, Countess of Ival, Blooded of the Elk.
Her three things that the players knew:
She is a poison teddy bear.
She has three dead previous husbands.
She has a "special" relationship with Zsanosz, Count Kether.

Wisdom wagers were called for on what else they knew of the party, and resulted in the following added details:
(Mahar, 2 wagers) The party was to be held at a garden.    It is to be a debut for the new ven.
(Rocky, 1 wager) Tempkin Mwwr is invited, but clearly not a candidate.
(Urim, 1 wager) Lady No is looking for someone who has always been single.
Clearly, the players were still afraid to get their toes into deep waters, so I approved the facts.

Wanting to let the players get a feel for the system, I then asked them to make Beauty Risks to see how they prepared for the party.  Amusingly, all of them failed their rolls which I decided meant they all arrived later than everyone else.

As Tempkin (who rolled highest among the three) arrived at the gates of Ival, he found another guest impatiently waiting as well.  Piotr, being the gossip that he is, recognized the man and quickly whispered to Tempkin what he knew of the Count Kether.

Count Kether, Zsanosz Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox.

His three things:
He is honest, loyal and honorable.
He is the most ruthless bastard you'll ever meet.
He never breaks a promise.

Tempkin quickly tasked Piotr to gain more information on the Count, which the young husband easily achieved by gaining Count Kether's trust and interest with a few carefully intoned words.  The two retired to a nearby camp outside Ival, which suggested to Piotr that the dear Count had been waiting outside for at least a night.

Aesil arrived and was welcomed in.  She ignored the noisy tent that was shaking by the entrance to Ival, and quickly attempted to regain some lost face for arriving so late.  In the party, she found her cousin Tempkin in line in front of her, and quickly attempted to offer some fashion advice.  Cleaning him up a bit just before he was given an audience with Lady No, Aesil felt she had gained a minor victory until someone slipped into the line ahead of her.  Of all the ven, it had to be the one ven who had seemingly marked Aesil to be a rival:  Janus.

Janus Q'n, Blooded of the Fox.
His three things:
He is prettier than most female foxes.
He is devoted to fashion.
He knows how to pull the strings of others.

Aesil gained 3 wagers to add facts she knew of Janus and declared:
He is a childhood friend of Aesil.
They were once so close as to have almost been together.
He prefers men.

Alexai found himself lost.  And upon arriving at the party, Count Kether accompanied him inside and found his wife to be quite impressive.  He offered to have her Blooded into his House, but Alexai found a way to rebuff his offer without insulting him.   As he went on his own way, Alexai reached the grounds of the garden and found it to be practically quiet.  As he looked around he discovered the ven all deep asleep.  Something had happened before he arrived.

When Tempkin found his chance to speak with Lady No, he found her actions to be strange.  Facts he had added regarding Lady No included the detail that they had just met a Season ago in another affair.  For Lady No to seemingly not recognize him quickly aroused Tempkin's suspicions:  There was Sorcery involved.  Quickly deducing this was no Tulpa, he suspected she was a victim of The Puppet and retired to one side of the room to try to trace the Sorcery.  He declared the fact that a special candle molded from certain herbs burns a smoke that trails to the source of the Puppet sorcery.  Following the trail, he discovers a man wrapped in dark robes hiding in the chamber behind the throne of Lady No.  Recalling another ven named Marcus who had uncovered The Puppet before, Tempkin suspected the robed figure was that man.

Aesil found herself in a verbal sparring with Janus, as Janus attempted to humiliate his rival by pointing out how her clothes were an old form of fashion.  Aesil countered, but sadly failed in this risk of Beauty.  As Aesil withdrew in shame amidst the laughter of other ven, she made the additional mistake of admitted she brought a candle to the debut, not a rose as most female ven would have.  To Janus' credit, however, he did not bring the matter to a point of Insult, and no stigmatized Aspect was branded on Aesil.

Janus meets with the Lady No and presents his gift:  An otherworldly perfume that captures a scent none have ever smelled before.  Aesil finds herself obsessed with it and quietly muses that Janus had overplayed his gift.  For a simple debut, such a gift was clearly too grand.  But Janus knows the game of Beauty and gives Lady No merely two swipes of the perfume upon her neck.  Foiled again, Aesil hoped to regain some face when her turn came to meet with the Lady.

A quick jump back to the future has Alexai coming face to face with a impassioned attacker.  The man cries out demanding to be brought to his "Sir" and after taking the nearest sword from a sleeping ven, attempts to strike Alexai with it.  But Alexai draws Dragonfang and with a quick motion Injures the veth with a single stroke.  Demanding an explanation, Alexai kicks away the other sword and pulls the veth closer to his blade.  Alexai recognizes him to be Piotr and realizes his cousin is somewhere in the party as well!  Quickly searching the grounds, he soon finds Tempkin slumped against a wall and unconscious.  With a hand raised, Tempkin attempts to slap his cousin awake.

When Aesil finally met the Lady No, she finds her falling asleep in front as she presented herself.  Tempkin attempts to chase after the robed figure he assumes to be Marcus but then sees a sliver of flesh left on the floor.  Pulling close, Tempkin sees in horror that it IS Marcus' face on the ground.  Fearing the robed figure to be some kind of orc in the grounds, Tempkin attempts to close in but feels a heaviness overwhelm him.  At the center of the garden, Lady No lies unconscious... and very quickly all the other ven begin to fall asleep as well.  Aesil succumbs quickly.  Tempkin remains awake only long enough to see that the robed figure has a finger sleeve much like his own - but on the left hand instead.

Tempkin awakes to see Alexai's worried face.  The two trade notes on what just happened and Tempkin wonders if the party will still push through.  The two discover the gift table to be empty and deduce the assailant must have orchestrated events to steal away Lady No's presents.  Lady No recovers, still heady from the sorcery, but insists the party should push through (She did spend a few Seasons preparing for it.)  But when Count Kether emerges, he simply walks past Lady No and waits for her at a nearby tower.  Lady No cancels the Party and informs everyone it is time to leave.   Tempkin wonders where his other cousin has gone to, but decides she probably has run off to spend some time with her husband.

Aesil, however, is not with her husband.  Aesil awakens in a room filled with mirrors.  Hundreds of them in all shapes and sizes distort the surroundings as she struggles to make her escape.  Stripped of her clothes, Aesil fights against the growing fear and somehow manages to escape what she learns is a Puzzle House in one of the regions just beyond those she already controls.   Quickly, she runs home traumatized by the event but vowing to investigate at some later point in time.

End of Episode One: The Puzzling Party of Lady No

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