Monday, October 29, 2012

The Riddle of Blood e01 : Houses of the Blooded

The Riddle of Blood
Episode One
"The Bronze Inquisitor"
Houses of the Blooded

After the one shot Houses of the Blooded game I ran for Arj and some friends, I was surprised to find a Facebook event set to have another game come the weekend.  Looks like the gang definitely enjoyed the game John Wick had written, and I definitely had no complaints about running another one.  This time, however, the plan was to have a longer ongoing chronicle.  Which meant being more true to the systems the game provided, including the wonderful world of Season Actions.

The cast of characters were as follows:
Fici is Armand Steele, Blooded of the Elk, whose Cunning and Prowess outshone his lack of Wisdom.   Known to be a Chance Talker who is Always Right, the Baron lived in the Dusk Citadel and was an only child.

Arj is Talia Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent, whose Cunning truly outshone her lack of Strength.  Known to have Strange Intuition and to be an Intriguing Beauty, Talia had a penchant of making Fast Friends with others and getting them to talk.  She resides in the Tower Azure and had hopes of finding a husband soon.

Matt is Kithranus Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox, whose Cunning and Beauty made up for his pitiful Strength.  Quite the Life of the Party, few are aware of his Night Stalker tendencies when he seeks out justice.  For him, Everything is Useful.  Keeper of the Red Throne, his female entourage of vassals is quite noticed by many.  Some do ponder on whether it is really he or his wife, the Scarlet Baroness, who is in charge.

Princess is Quan Wei Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox, whose Beauty and Prowess stands above her embarrassing Cunning.  She is an Athlete and is quite famous for being Kind-Hearted, which is a rare trait among the Ven.  Based in Wushu Castle with her Cunning husband, Yao Lin, the Princess hopes to someday have her husband receive the Blooding ritual.

Rocky is Gaius Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent, whose Cunning and Wisdom tries to make up for his lack of Courage.  He is Silver Tongued and is said to Pull the Strings of others quite well.  Based in Archos Castle with his husband Vance, they too hope to gain the Blooded ritual.  Vance however is notably Well Known for a Veth, and is even seen as a Court Gossip.

Episode one began with a party clearly in duress.  A massive seventy foot Ork had somehow broken into the festivities and threatened all the guests.  Like a titantic preying mantis, the ork spread its deadly wings and flung a number of ven, including Talia Mwrr, into the air and onto furniture and other fixtures.  Kithranus was pinned under a killed Ven.  Quan Wei Yvarai failed to find the courage to fight and ended up dropping her sword.  Gauis Mwrr was hiding beneath a table and watched in shock as his veth husband Vance charged at the thing with a chair that he had lit up with fire.  And Armand Steele was at a table furthest from the Ork, and sent off his familiar, Mordecai, to pluck the monster's eyes out.  It was only after did he realize the regal and Wintery Ven sitting at the chair next to him happened to be the Duchess Ti'Ann Burghe, Blooded of the Elk - infamously known as the Bronze Inquisitor whom during her Spring years had seven Ven facing the Vashna for practicing Sorcery.

Pressed to help his husband, but too scared to approach, Gauis used his hidden Artifact, Phobos, to distract the Ork.  Struct by its powers, the Ork began to flee the gathering.  Mistaking Vance's fiery chair as the source of the Ork's fear, Kithranus calls out for the guards of Duke Vangalio's castle to attack the beast with torches.  The Ork's attempts to flee further entangle it in the party's decor, and force it to the ground where it seemingly cocoons itself.

Quan Wei Yvarai's husband, Yao Lin, is injured by the Ork, which brings her to request for a healing salve from the Duke's Apothecary.  On her way back to her husband, however, a thrown glass nearly hits her.    The glass happens to have been thrown by Talia Mwrr who was eager to hear more about this Veth who had saved them.  With Armand Steele realizing the Bronze Inquisitor was the last person he should have shown off his familiar to, the Elk quickly joined Talia Mwrr and the two approached the center area.   There, Vance found himself being congratulated by the Duke Vangalio for having such Courage.  Kithranus and his wife, hoping to further cement their growing ties with other ven, and their place in Vangalio's favor, approach as well to vocally share their own congratulations - but are intercepted by Gauis Mwrr who reminds them of a recent deal which did not go quite equally on both sides.  Their discussions eventually lead to them joining the Duke, where Kithranus even suggests that Vance be given the Blooding, and that for him to become one of the Ven was a define display of gratitude.  In truth, the offer was to balance the scales since Kithranus had made a previous dealing with Gauis Mwrr, and in that dealing, Gauis was clearly at a loss and was to eventually want balance returned.

Quan Wei Yvarai demanded that Talia Mwrr and Armand Steele behave themselves, and Armand throws in a promise to deliver Quan Wei Yvarai a healing salve for her husband in a few weeks time.  Gauis Mwrr and Vance find themselves being given the choice of having Vance Blooded as either a Serpent or a Fox, and Vance admits to Gauis that he isn't quite sure what to choose.  Before a decision can be finalized, however, the Duchess Ti'Ann Burghe steps forward and calls for the attention of all those present.  She openly hails the Veth for his actions, but reprimands Duke Vangalio for not paying attention to his duties as a host.  Too many Ven were injured in the Ork's assault, and the Duke would do better checking on his guests than congratulating one of the dirt.  Vangalio quickly hurries off to make reparations, but Duchgess Ti'Ann is far from over.  She continues verbally murdering the scene, raising questions on whether Sorcery is to blame for what happened in this party, and how she suspects a certain Elk maybe practicing the illegal habit.  Seeing Quan Wei Yvarai, she nonchalantly turns to Armand Steele and asks him for a Healing Salve.  Armand notices the Duchess already has one in her hand and seems to simply wait for him to pretend to hand one over, which for some reason he does.  She then thanks Armand for the gift, adding, "A great sorcerer such as yourself would carry one on your person after all," before handling it to the Baroness Quan Wei.  Many stare at Armand worriedly, noticing how the Duchess had just implicated that he was the Elk in question.

The Duchess does add praise for Vance's actions, and even muses that Vance had clearly shown a touch of Cunning in his actions.  "Facing that Ork was neither wise, nor beautiful.  But to use such tools to terrify it.. simply cunning.  You deserve to be an Elk.  Assuming you choose to be one, that is."  With one last surprise waiting to be revealed, the Duchess then declares to all that another party shall be held in Castle Grindle come the following Season, and that all of them are to attend.  It was to be a celebration of Vance's choice and Blooding, and that as always gifts were to be expected.

And with that, the first story ends.

The Ven quickly return to their castles, and find their parents sharing their views, and their domains in need of upkeep.  Trouble springs in many regions, and goods are rapidly crafted in hopes of creating wonderful gifts for the party.  


The first story establishes the characters and their relations to one another.  Many of them have become fellow Contacts, and some as shown in this session, are already attempting to spread outwards their reach.

Glimpses of their familial ties also begins here, for as we all know, a Baron or Baroness' rise to power tends to be fueled if not supported by the very parents who fear being replaced.    The Duchess Ti'Ann Burghe was a prominent character in this story, more so than the Duke Vangalio, and her story would only be as vital as the players would have her develop in time.

If anything, the players discovered the great advantages of being married.  And having children.   And some even quickly declared a determination to find a partner in the games to follow.

As an added twist to the game, I had each player draw blindly a Tarot card from my hand.  I had separated all the Major Arcana from the deck and told them that anytime during the game, they can play the card they had drawn into the game.  The results of the card will be something I will reveal once the card has been played.  In exchange, the player who played the card will be given 10 Style points.

And I reminded them, the played cards will always affect the game, but not necessarily in the manner you will  expect.  Drawing "the Fool" for example, might have me tell a player he MUST accept the stupid option (and get 10 Style for his troubles).    During this session, two cards were played:  Judgment and the World.  In effect, Duchess Ti'Ann became much more active and sought to bring her judgment into the events.  And the actions of the players were suddenly being perceived not merely as choices done during the party, but choices that could have consequences to Ven society in the long run.

In simpler terms:  They had gained the Bronze Inquisitor's attention.  And that was never a good idea.

This is the first story of The Riddle of Blood.
A story of love, of betrayal, of passion, of abuse.
A story of poison, of fate, of devotion, of fashuva.
A story of puzzle houses, and puzzled hearts.
A story that is filled with lies.

This is the Riddle of Blood.

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