The Riddle of Blood
Houses of the Blooded
The second session began after an hour from the first game. The players spent the hour mapping out their Season Actions (we decided to have the first Season start since they were all eager to try it out) and deciding how to manage their resources to at least have some kind of gift to bring in the party. The final gift set was as follows:
Armand Steele, Blooded of the Elk (Fici) struggled with his domain with so much Trouble brewing up that it ate his Season Actions. In the end, he ends up just bringing a Season worth of Stone as a gift. His father, a fellow Baron, suggests to him that he use this moment as an opportunity to remind the Duchess there is a reason everyone hosts their parties in Winter.
Talia Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent (Arj), opted to have his Craftsman create a wonderful perfume using the Spices that had been gathered from the previous Season. Talia had also had some cosmetics produced which she chose to wear to the party (+1 Style).
Kithranus Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox (Matt), had his village produce a wonderful sash to adorn his clothes. The sash caught the light and gave a nice contrast to his red ensemble. (+1 Style)
Quan Wei Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox (Princess) could not prepare any gift. Her Season Actions too were consumed by Trouble, while others were spent developing her Vassals into something better. She had a beautiful shawl made however to wear to the party. (+1 Style)
Gaius Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent, (Rocky) focused his production on a majestic cloak to weak (+2 Style) and had his Metal used to create an intricate metal Chest as a present.
The game opens with the characters already present at Castle Grindle for the party. The scene opens with Armand Steele being heckled by Issa Adrente and a few other young Ven ladies. Quickly turning the tables around, Armand questions their being in-the-know on events and then reminds them how he is Always Right on things. This captures Issa's admiration, which he then clumsily uses to attempt the start of a Romance. Just when he is about to seemingly turn her into the Predator, however, a new face enters the scene. Handsome Beyond Expectations with Perfected Timing in his words, a dashing Wolf throws Armand an apple from across the garden and asks, "Why force yourself to entertain and taste such a typical dish? There are some things far better to try tasting." The Wolf then walks away, and Armand realizes very quickly he has become the Predator to this newcomer.
Cavilo Adrente, Blooded of the Wolf
Duke of Kairos
Three Things You Know About Him
1) He is Handsome Beyond Expectations
2) He has Perfect Timing
3) He is of a position high enough to serve as a member of the Jury
Other facts that have been uncovered:
1) He is married
2) His wife is aware he spends time with "men"
Elsewhere in the party, Kithranus Yvarai is still bothered by events that occurred prior to the party. He had awoken one night to find his daughter Yvonne in his bed chamber. The young child had been kissing his nape and back in a manner that seemed... too intimate. He tried to shake off the events. At the party, he finds himself once more debating with Gauis Mwrr on their concerns of sealing a business dealing. Kithranus gains the upper hand in the conversation however, being more skillful in matters dealing with Beauty, and successfully suggests to Gaius that the dealing best be settled later on. His careful selection of words even bring Gaius to reconsider the direction and attitude his dealing should take ("A short term loss is acceptable to gain a long term Contact.") Opting to have a contingency ready, Kithranus receives Gaius' handshake, allowing him to set in motion the Befuddling Kiss. Thankfully, Kithranus approached the dealings tactfully, for Gaius had Wisdom's Clarity in effect and would have sensed any lies on the other's lips.
Talia Mwrr finds herself engaged with a young Wolf. The two share a simple dance as they discuss matters of marriage and thoughts on the Bronze Inquisitor. Talia notices the young Wolf's Bloodsword and inquires if it is a heirloom. Drawn to her penchant of gaining friends easily, the wolf admits to having a goal in mind: He plans to deliver vengeance it seems, but fails to clearly state towards whom. Talia convinces him to join her at the upper levels to watch the party better, anticipating the swordsman might prove useful if trouble begins. Her Strange Intuition could sense it already brewing.
Jaime Adrente, Blooded of the Wolf
Baron of Castle Fiole
Three Things You Know About Him
1) He owns a Blood Sword
2) He may have a vendetta against someone in the party
3) He handed Talia Mwrr an Artifact Ring.
Quan Wei Yvaria and her husband opt to give the shawl instead as their gift, not wanting to seemingly have no presents in the party. They have some laughs as they watch the party unfold, with Yao Lin admitting he feels some envy that another Veth is clearly gaining the chance to be Blooded today. The two notice a scene unfolding in the dance floor however. While Scarlet was speaking with the Duchess, Kithranus Yvarai could not help himself and began dancing with people all over the dance floor. Among the many women he had pulled up to dance with, one particular woman kept trying to return to his side and be the focus of his dance. But Kithranus kept dodging her and moving away. What perhaps seemed to be fun flirtations melted into a serious tone when the woman suddenly flung away her scabbard, and held her drawn sword towards Kithranus' direction. "I call for Jury!" the woman declared, "I am Insulted and wish to have permission."
Ti'Ann Burghe, Blooded of the Elk
Duchess of Grindle
Three Things You Know About Her
1) She sniffs out Sorcery
2) Her Words are Weapons
3) Control. Always in Control.
Mara Burghe, Blooded of the Elk
Baroness of Grindledown
Three Things You Know About Her
1) Her husband was taken from her by the Scarlet Baronness
2) She owns an Artifact Sword
3) She is estranged from her mother
While most Ven would have raised such concerns to their liege, others could quickly see why this woman would have such gall to make a proclamation as that. The players (with wisdom wagers) quickly defined the scene. Many recognized her to be the daughter of the Duchess Ti'Ann herself, Mara Burghe. Mara had once been married to a man, but another woman had stolen that man for her. The woman whom had earned Mara's hatred was none other than the Scarlet Baronness herself. It was clear that Mara Burghe's claims to having been insulted by Kithranus' supposed Romantic Interludes was merely a feint. It was instead, in truth, an attempt to hurt the one the Scarlet Baroness loved - just like her own love was taken from her before. The Duchess called for a Jury to form, and thankfully, Tavlim Steele, Blooded of the Elk, Baron of Shavri'for was present, and after consulting another book in his possession, reminded the Duchess that she was not allowed to be a Juror in this event. Quan Wei Yvarai stood up and nominated herself to stand as proxy in her parent's absence (once was a Marquis), another spoke up from the crowd and agreed to be a Juror. Needing one last one, Armand Steele was surprised to hear the Wolf he was following speak up and offer himself as a Juror.
With much anger in her voice, Mara began to speak of the Insult she felt from Kithranus' actions. Kithranus interrupted her, speaking quickly in his defense of how she was wrong to be insulted, and how this hearing was unnecessary given the stupidity of the accusations. The Duchess interrupted Kithranus then, asking him to clarify if he believes the Jury to be incompetent and unable to make such decisions on their own? Kithranus attempts to clarify, stating there was no real wrong done here. But the Wolf beside Armand Steele concurs with the Duchess, reminding the young Baron to allow the Jury to determine such things as its their right, unless the Baron believes the Jury, who represents the Senate, is unable to have such Wisdom in things.
From above, Talia however begins to notice something awry. The Duchess, who has been infamously known to be a stickler when it comes to discipline and order, was ignoring the other ven who were coughing or whispering among themselves during the hearing. Her eyes then catch the slightest motions from Mara Burghe's fingers, that correspond with the Duchess' movements. She realizes what is happening: Mara Burghe was using Sorcery to control her own mother's actions. And the Duchess was now moving fully under Mara Burghe's control. The swordsman turned to Talia and asked her for a promise. He handed her an interesting ring (the ring was of three interlaced pieces that could freely move around) and told her, "If you ever hope to see me again, please wear this." When asked what he was planning to do, he drew his Blood sword and told her, "Make a difference."
The debate below exploded into a fight. Mara Burghe swung her sword at Kithranus, with the Duchess Ti'Ann mimicking the very strike! With lines drawn, the ven were very quickly forced to decide where they stood in this moment of Mass Murder. Some, like Gauis Mwrr's group, withdrew and pulled out of the battle field, not wanting to be party to the event. Others, like Armand Steele, embraced the opportunity to settle old scores, and joined the fray.
The Tower and The Magician
Quan Wei Yvarai found herself being attacked by ven who were favoring Mara Burghe's side. Her Personal Guard, the Jin, fought bravely and kept her well protected. But many of their spears were splintered with a mere swipe from Mara Burghe's sword. While it was no Bloodsword, it was clearly an Artifact blade!
Kithranus quickly had both his Personal Guard, the Blood Guard, his Spy Network, The Crimson Fog, and his Valet of cross-dressed women, the Order of the Rose join the battle. While each strike and thrust was met in kind, deaths were avoided until a killing blow was about to be delivered to the Scarlet Baroness. The Order of the Rose sacrificed itself to prevent the act of murder.
Armand Steele and his entourage challenged the Bronze Inquistor head on, and while the two factions seemed well matched, Armand successfully plunges the Ruby Edge, his artifact stilleto known for being impossibly Sharp, into her face. The Inquisitor nearly fatally wounds Armand's new Wolf however just before she finally falls down dead.
And when the chaos clears, Kithranus delivers a killing blow onto Mara Burghe, and the woman drops to the ground on the throes of death. Her lips move to give one final death speech, but something interrupts her and forces the words to hold in her mouth. She dies in silence.
With the chaos ended, the young Barons and Baronesses soon find the arrival of the Vashna and share their knowledge of the events. Many are perturbed by the fact the Bronze Inquisitor's legacy has been soiled in this manner. Others ponder on what this may mean in the future. Some whisper that the Burghe's might seek vrentae for the death of such an iconic Noble, especially if her death was while she was being manipulated against her will.
Gauis Mwrr and his husband Vance return home with their very many presents. As it turns out, all presents given that day were intended for the two of them. With the Blooding delayed, Vance is told he has a few Seasons to consider what House he will accept the invitation to. To Gauis' shock, however, Vance admits he would rather remain Veth.
Kithranus spends many nights leaving his Castle at night, still bothered by the other revelation that Scarlet admits to him. Her affair with the late Mara Burghe's husband was not without a final sting: their daughter Yvonne, is actually not his. Kithranus eventually loses himself in some Ruin and finds a mirrored hallway that shows a reflection of an older version of himself. The reflection draws out a Blood Sword and offers it to him, telling him, "Blood opens all doors." He wounds himself and but finds it does not work. The reflection whispers, "The blood of someone who loves you." He wakes with a cold sweat back in his chambers. Scarlet sleeping. Yvonne watching from the door.
Quan Wei Yvarai and her husband quietly settle in for the night. Quan remembers that Armand Steele failed to deliver the Healing Salve he had promised. Among the ven, after all, promises are never broken without repercussions.
Armand Steele finds the Wolf inviting him to join him in bed, and is lead to a carriage that contains nothing but a chamber to make love inside of. Agreeing, he is surprised the Wolf does not join him in the carriage for the first thirty minutes of the ride. Opting to wait, Armand soon hears the Wolf's voice as he explains, "I'll be back shortly" and a woman responds, "Very well, my love. Enjoy your young man. I shall be here when you are done." Armand realizes he is but a pleasure thing to this married couple. "He is a good find," the Wolf replies, "I think you too will enjoy him." One that the Wolf intends to share with his wife.
And lastly, Talia Mwrr toys with the ring while in her Castle. The swordsman had just vanished after leaping into the fray. There was no sign of him during the battle. No sigh of him among the corpses. At one point, the ring seemingly interlocks when twisted at a certain way, and like a Chinese-finger trap metal parts swivel to wrap around her finger into a tube. A click-click-click sound then strikes before utter pain! Talia stares at her four-fingered hand and watches as the ring clatters to the floor, continues to click into place as it seemingly expands into the size of a metal drum, then opens to eject out the naked, bloody, swordsman in her chamber. Guards bang at the door, asking if she is well. Talia merely tells them to bring her a warm basin, clean cloth, and some healing salves. She returns to the man who mutters, "You sacrificed your finger for me... I think I am in love." Talia raises an eyebrow, uncertain what she had just gotten into.
The second episode had more twist and turns than expected. But this was because the players were getting a better grasp on how to use their wagers. Just like the first session, this game still had Tarot Cards added to the mix which affected the game when unleashed. Here, with the coming of the Devil and the Tower, the twist of the Duchess being enslaved and the eventual destruction of her house hold was imminent. What the players failed to consider, however, is the repercussions of letting the Duchess die/killing the Duchess when her actions during the party were evidently the result of being used as a Puppet. The other card, the Magician, introduced the mystery Swordsman whom Talia had met. As to what his motivations are, and exactly what he did in that Mass Murder are details to be revealed in time.
I feel sad that the Duchess Ti'Ann Burghe had to die. I kinda liked how she was approached in the game. But this is Houses of the Blooded, and a Narrator can't have any favorites in a game like this.
Armand Steele's Romance with the Wolf is an interesting one since the player clearly knows he's not in the upper hand, but does not want to just give up on the Rank 6 Romance he has with him. I wonder if he'll try to eliminate the Wife from the situation, or just break free. I sense someone becoming Padana soon!
Add to that how John Wick has shared the link to this blog on his Facebook wall, I now have players who feel "pressured" to play better. HHehehe! I just told them to have fun and know people will have fun seeing we're having fun. :-)
So yeah, up next... Puzzle Houses. Specters.
Doom. Sorcery. Orks.
Doom. Sorcery. Orks.
And more Doom.
I frigging love this game!