Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Game of Fangs

The Lamashtuan Intrigue Campaign aka "Game of Fangs"

Premise: the characters are all in service to the noble House of Rhiannon in vampire-ruled Lamashtu; they engage in politicking, intrigue, spying, and occasional violence to advance the cause and position of their house--but they also each have a secret agenda they are covertly pursuing.

Feels like: the talky bits in Game of Thrones, and occasionally the violent bits, but with vampiric feudalism.

Rules hacks: lots of 4e style skill challenges based on social skills, social encounters handled a bit like combat, definitely tracking Renown and making it matter.

The characters:

Race: Dhampir
Class: Mastermind rogue
Level: 3
Background: Noble
Str: 9 Dex: 18 Con: 11 Int: 13 Wis: 10 Cha: 18
Personality Trait: Flatterer
Ideal: Power
Bond: I must forge alliances in my house's favor
Flaw: I hide a truly scandalous secret
Magnus is a bastard son of a minor vampire noble of House Rhiannon and his mortal concubine. He sees his service to the house as a way of proving his worth. His goal is official recognition by the house's elders through acts of <redacted>.

Florian d'Targan
Race: Half-elf
Class: College of lore bard
Level: 3
Background: Entertainer 
Str: 8 Dex: 14 Con: 12 Int: 16 Wis: 15 Cha: 19
Personality Trait: Insulting
Ideal: Creativity
Bond: I sympathize with the downtrodden
Flaw: I once satirized a noble who still wants my head
Florian poses as a mere musician attached to House Rhiannon, but in truth he is as much a collector of arcane secrets as he is a collector of songs. His goal is <redacted>.

Race: Human
Class: Divination wizard
Level: 3
Background: Seer
Str: 9 Dex: 14 Con: 14 Int: 16 Wis: 14 Cha: 10
Personality Trait: I must make people heed my visions
Ideal: Manipulation
Bond: I will have revenge on the man who destroyed my family
Flaw: I loathe charlatans
Orest's origins are a mystery, but he has proven useful to House Rhiannon because of his gift for accurate prophecy. He has glimpsed far enough into the future to know that it is his destiny to <redacted> House Rhiannon.

Maria Marzistrada
Race: Human
Class: Oath of the crown paladin
Level: 3
Background: Cloistered scholar
Personality Trait: I am awkward and stiff in social situations
Ideal: Power
Bond: I have been searching for knowledge about the fate of the gods
Flaw: I would sacrifice anyone or anything to gain information
Str: 18 Dex: 11 Con: 13 Int: 12 Wis: 14 Cha: 13
Maria was a foundling, reared in a nunnery and prepared for a life of military service to House Rhiannon. Her ambition is to claim <redacted> in the name of her masters.

First Session
The party has been sent as a diplomatic mission from House Rhiannon to the court of Baroness Maylak, but they come with knowledge and a purpose. They know that there is a plot within the court of House Maylak to assassinate the Baroness; they have been sent by House Rhiannon to expose the plot, not to the benefit of House Maylak, but rather as a ploy for House Rhiannon to gain power over House Maylak.

Traveling with the party is the dour, raven-haired Emelda Rhiannon, a minor noble of their house. Strangely, Emelda seems uninterested in bringing House Maylak under House Rhiannon's heel. 

After settling into their appointed rooms in the ancient, crumbling Castle Maylak and paying their respects to the Baroness, the party split up and began to pursue rumors they had heard circulating during their reception (and the later feast) at the Baroness's court. Florian and Maria had heard of an unorthodox cult posing as a scientific society (The Society for Celestial Inquiry is a cover for the Cult of the Solar Truth), and managed to find their meeting place and infiltrate their ranks. Maria's attempts to draw them out by debating spiritual matters was a dead end, but Florian's pointed mockery managed to throw the secretive cultists off just enough to reveal that they were expected allies to arrive in three days, at dawn, at the Traitor's Gate of the town surrounding the castle.

Meanwhile, Magnus barged into Emelda's rooms within Castle Maylak to sound her intentions and true allegiances. Magnus's approach was a peculiar form of seduction--he wanted to reawaken her loyalty to House Rhiannon. This exchange ended in something of a stalemate; Emelda is clearly hiding something, but she pledged to stay out of the group's way as they went about the business of foiling the plot against Baroness Maylak's life.

Orest found time to explore the frigid catacombs beneath the castle, and was able to determine that what the party suspected was correct: there are a number of secret passages hidden within the ancient tombs that lead outside the castle's grounds to various places in town. Orest's magically exploration also discovered that fiendish spellcraft had been used recently in the castle's dungeons. However, Orest found it difficult to navigate his way back--the corridors and rooms in the lower depths rearranged themselves for an unknown purpose.

On the appointed day, the party hid themselves near the strangely unguarded Traitor's Gate to intercept the Cult of the Solar Truth's allies. The allies arrived hooded and cloaked. The party ambushed these new arrivals and discovered that they were devils, fiendish beings of ash and ice, not men and women! Two of the diabolic cohort were slain in the melee, but the rest managed to escape by conjuring a wall of wintry storm that held back their would-be pursuers.