I’m currently running an HQ game for my die-hard DnD group on the alternate Fridays from the regular game. Here’s what happened in the most recent play session (already about a month ago, due to scheduling problems and holiday crap).
In short, success. Go to here for the list of characters, the player briefing, et cetera. Here’s an outline of what happened:
Play opened where we’d left off on the previous session — basically everyone was milling about in the Grand Entry Hall (and Staircase) ™, while the two eldest of the Baron’s sons were introduced to Lady Noella and Aimee. Everyone but Eilwen was there (since she has, y’know… hooves), and Guy (who was upstairs, arranging for the guest rooms).
* (Planned Emilie bang, part 1) Serge takes Emilie aside for a moment. He makes it clear that there is no. way. Emilie will continue to be the squire for the new Baron of Trymirwal; if she does well enough in keeping Guilbert out of trouble, she’ll be reassigned to a new knight; if she doesn’t, she’ll be tossed out on her ear. Her choice. Emilie puts on the thousand mile stare and nods through the speech.
* Colette and Guy are coming downstairs as Noella and Aimee head upstairs. The two ladies are introduced. Temperatures on the grand staircase drop several degrees.
* (Planned Zelana bang) As soon as he’s free of meeting Noella and Aimee, Hugo motions to Zelana and they step into a nearby hallway to talk. Zelana wants nothing more than to get out of the manor and someplace green and quiet. Hugo allows that that would be nice, but with everything going on, he’s got to ask a favor. He basically asks her to spy on Serge & Company to see what his ultimate plans are — using Little Ionni if necessary, since he’s noticed that the big burly squire seems to like her.
* Eilwen runs to tell Xavier and Brier what’s going on. Brier heads back to the manor to help Hugo, and Xavier asks her to spread word to the local militia to ‘gather’. You know, just to be on the safe side.
* Guilbert says something to Emilie about how leaving for hinterlands doesn’t sound so bad anymore — would she go and make sure all the bags are packed? Guilbert has a bit of a 1000 yard stare, but Emilie is fuming over Serge and doesn’t care what that’s about.
* Guy locates Lucas, who’s going through the meager library, trying to get clues about dear old Dad and what’s going on. Guy pulls him away from the books to discuss the young and attractive Aimee (Guy’s goal is to get Guilbert hooked up with Josette, so he needs to find someone for the young newcomer).
Other Player: “And hey, she’s a virgin, so bonus points for sacrifices.”
* Guilbert walks over to meet Guy and Lucas as they emerge into the front hall. Guilbert nods distractedly about the idea with Aimee and asks if Guy could do him a favor and … I don’t remember the excuse, but something to make him go away. (Planned Lucas bang) As soon as Guy is clear, Guilbert attacks Lucas. Big time. Lucas tumbles back into a suit of armor, trips, goes down, and smacks the back of his already assaulted head on the paving stones. By the time he focuses, Guilbert is on top of him, holding the armor suit’s helmet over his head like a bludgeon and shouting “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM!”
(The best part about this is that one of the players saw this coming about three seconds before it happened.)
The pair are pulled apart. Lucas is carted upstairs by Zelana and Guy. Guy brings Zelana up to date on what’s been going on.
* Guilbert pulls free of his captors makes a break for Lucas’ room. Emilie is coming down the stairs, having just heard the crash and met Lucas &c coming up. She is in the way and has to make a decision.
Emilie stops him. Big time. She pulls out all the stops, including a little magical augment, and basically clotheslines him as he’s coming up the stairs. They both tumble back down to the main room — not pretty, but it gets the job done. Serge should be satisfied. This is not as comforting a thought as it might be.
* When the fracas first started, Jacques decides he’s not laying a hand on the heir, so he heads upstairs to make sure Noella is distracted and out of the way… She invites him in (says the spider to the fly) for some conversation. This was a big contest for Jacques to determine who gives up what kind of information — he’s a fine knight, but he’s under-prepared for the social filleting that Noella can bring to bear. Still, he musters what augments he can to keep her from getting info on what’s going on (including inventive use of an Orderly spell) and, with a Hero Point, manages to eek out a marginal victory. Based on the augments he added to his diplomacy, it’s clear that what he’s basically done is clamped down and refused to engage in anything but the most basic conversation. There follow two side-contests: 1) What does Noella learn about ME? (Success for Noella — she’s heard of his shameful father.) 2) Can I keep Noella on my good side, despite stonewalling her?. She wins this as well, by a LOT, but the player bumped with TWO hero points to get it to a Marginal Failure — he’s planning plans for Aimee, and doesn’t want Mommy Dearest to completely hate him. With a marginal failure, she merely finds him annoying and plain.
Aimee? Aimee watched the dashing knight verbally spar with Mother and not give anything away. PLUS, Mother clearly doesn’t like him much… Aimee thinks he’s just… swell (swoon).
* Eilwen, while riding to gather the militias, thinks things over and realizes that Xavier’s plan might be a really bad idea — that it might look really bad to the wrong people — Xavier is really overstepping his bounds.
* Guilbert sends Emilie to fetch Etienne. Emilie and Etienne chat on the carriage ride back to the manor — Etienne gamely tries to engage her in pleasant conversation, and actually gets a smile out of her here and there. Not bad, Etienne.
* During lunch, Collete and Noella continue to bring the hate.
* Zelana tries to sneak out of the manor just after lunch, but gets cornered on her way out — she has the option between Serge and Guilbert and opts to allow Guilbert to flag her down. They find a sitting room in which she gives him grief for pummeling poor Lucas, and he explains his thought process — Lucas hit Dad with a spell, and now Dad is in a coma, and there’s magic involved… seems logical, if you’re Guilbert.
* Guy goes to fetch Josette, because Guy wants her comforting Guilbert in this time of need. Josette walks in on Zelana and Guilbert talking, and the temperature drops in the room, somewhat warmed by Heartfelt Young Nun Angst. Zelana is MORE than happy to leave, though, and does so. Guilbert looks disappointed.
* (Planned Emilie bang, part 2) After lunch, Collette talks with Emily. She asks Emilie to “let Guilbert distract himself” — if Guilbert is less viable as an heir, people will try harder to bring back Eustef. She doesn’t make it an order, because she doesn’t want Emilie to hate her, and she doesn’t’ think Emilie needs to *do* anything — just leave a few things undone. “Guilbert is like a babbling creek — he naturally flows downhill.”
* Emilie goes to find Father Rance to ask him about how to save Eustef. She finds him coming out of Eustef’s room — and he is bleeding from his eyes, and the little drops of blood are SLITHERING AWAY WHEN THEY HIT THE FLOOR AHHHHHH!
Emily gets Rance set down in Colette’s room and RUNS to find Zelana (who was trying to leave the manor AGAIN) and they go back to try to help Rance. Rance seems to really like Zelana and asks her and Emilie to sit with Eustef. Rance will send for Josette (who’s closer than he thinks) to help with the… sitting.
* Serge, Maslin, Jacques, and other warrior types are talking about the barony defense out in the back garden. Serge orders Xavier “and your conveniently-assembled militia” into the mountains to watch a northern pass that leads to a nearby barony (Dormand) that’s been … funding the stealing of sheep herds lately. Maslin is sent to the eastern border to man some long-abandoned garrison towers? The hell? Isn’t he like… four hundred years old? Serge is staying in Wells. One of his men will go back to Boyenne to gather up conscripts, and the other will go down to the Southern road that leads into the Barony and watch things there. Jacques is asked to get some men together to patrol the northwestern border between Maslin’s Mime and his own Stalos. The group breaks up.
Jacques notices some significant glances between Maslin and Xavier and figures out who’s in which faction — he knows Xavier from “The Winter Campaign” in which he met Serge as well, and make a connection with him — asking about which of the Stalos militia are Good Men and also telling Xavier to send for him if there is ANY problem.
* (Jacques/Guy bang, part 1) Guilbert, Etienne, and Guy gather after Josette is called away by Rance to see to Eustef, and the three talk things over. Guilbert doesn’t want to be Baron — he’s glad Serge is “on my side”, but wants people to work on “helping Father”. He laughs then, and says that he can’t be made Baron anyway — the Baron has to be a member of the Order of Saint Gerlant, and only Father can sponsor him.
Well, Father and now this De Molay fellow. What’s he like?
“How about we take him down to the Hen’s Lips this evening and find out?” Suggests Etienne. “That might be fun.” Guy categorically redefines what Etienne thinks of as “fun”.
* (Jacques bang, part 2) Serge approaches Jacques after the soldierly meeting and talks about the “technicality” with the whole “Baron has to be an Orderly of St. Gerlant”… thing. He wants Guilbert sponsored to the Order of St. Gerlant, and Jacques is the only man to do it.
* Josette comes up to sit with Eustef eventually. She sits quietly for a time with Emilie and Zelana. Pensive. Finally, she breaks down and admits that she wants some advice about Guilbert.
Annnnd SCENE. That’s where we ended for the night (the LONG night — we played probably two hours past our normal end of game time for DnD).
* Let me sum up how play is going with this quote from Robert: “I think we should put the DnD game on hold for awhile and just play this.” [Agreement nods all around the table.] “We should make it a campaign.”
Also: “There hasn’t even been any combat yet, which kinda sucks, cuz I’m good at that — but all this other is really good.”
I need to involve Eilwen more, and I have lots of thoughts about that, so there’s anticipation there for me.
Things are really going well. I believe I’ve made some HQ converts, and they’re looking forward to some extended contest goodness.