Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sins of the Crusade E02 - the Sin of Weakness

Thanks to
+Wilton Heath - Cato Vorenus an Honest Naepolitan Merchant and client of House Milessenos.
+Il Pella - Xenophon Papagiannopolous, Captain of the Zardakos
+Thunder Clonch - Teritus Maxentius, Guardsman of the House Milessenos
+Panic Slark - Berthold son of Gunther, a personal agent of Konrad.
+Kalalification - Konrad of House Milessenos, Koubikolarios (chamberlain) of House Milessenos.

This is the Video, i guess on Air is going to be buggy in what was a 5.33hour game




  • There may be more details I left out, but this is as much as I can remember. 
  • The game began with the party arriving in Preveza, a town that has survived the fall and ruin of Nikopolis. It was dark and from the walls. The walls only being about 3m high, most watchers can only see as far as 6km away, the church tower allows only about 8km. The Zardakos, despite being poorly crewed from the norman encounter was able to approach before alerting many in the town. Only a lone dock hand, who identified himself as Marion, managed to help the crew secure their ships. (note - horizon distance viewed is height^(1/2)(m) * 3.57 in km)

    • The crew was starving, having sailed mostly upwind to reach Preveza in about 3 days. They were not men anymore with all the festering and the lack of food and water. 
    • Miroclenes, the First Mate of Xeno took care of much of the logistics and details in getting the crew ship shape. 
    • Consecration of the Earth by Demetrius Spaneas was playing in the background thanks to sound cloud. 
  • The party went to work quickly, custom dictated they introduce themselves to the master of the town. Xeno and Konrad was able to identify the House of Berenos and Korda. The party split up to make their intentions known. they carried letters of introduction from the emperor and their House. Konrad, Berthold, and Tertius went to greet the House of Berenos while Cato and Xeno went to greet the House of Korda. 
    • She manages to get the Soldier to blather on the situation at the capital. She seemed to expect the bad news. Konrad had deflect the matter. 
  • Those who went to the House of Berenos had a cold reception. they were able to meet the master, or in this case the Mistress, Dowager Countess Lizandra of Berenos. She was suspicious of them, and didn't seem interested in reading their letter of introduction. She didn't even much mind the wine they brought from Athens. When Konrad tried to gather information, she seemed uncooperative and told them the town is fine. If they were looking for help, they should visit the Ekklesia of Agios Andreas. Most of the time she deflected Konrads prying. In the discussion, the party was distracted by Lucretia, the daughter of the countess. 
  • * If you consider Nikopolis and its region a county. 
  •   she made a rather rude hurried departure, excusing her self to visit the church. After which, the conversation ended and the group was still left tired, hungry and worn. 
  • Cato and Xeno fared better visiting the House of Korda,  They first met the major domus, who did not seem to like them at first glance. He was very unhelpful and made many excuses, its only when Xenos was resorting to threats did Mateus of Korda step out and invite them in. With the gift of wine tongues were loosed and many stories was exchanged so early in the morning. They managed to impress mateus, especially the stories of Valor. The old merchant had plans for them and hinted it but would not give them any more information until they had a chance to meet all the other merchants in the town. 
    • Mateus mentions a man who he seems interested to fix, by the name of Hledik. 
    • He brags that the Priest is his Grandson and that the party should seek help there.
    • The party manages to keep secret that they have Norman Prisoners. 
  • Cato and Xeno were headed back, and the Taverna was in the crossroads, letting them spot with easy their comrades who were trying to eat and get a drink. They catch up and while they talked, a man who smelled of sweater horse introduced himself as Kovalsky. He tried to small talk to the party, but they were wary of him. He got them drinks, which he called goats piss (whey with various herbs, spices, and preserves). He tells them he will be in town or Nikopolis if they want to talk to him.   
    • They manage to small talk the merchants and the people of the tavern. They find out:
      • the Count died in 1081, his sons along in the disaster of Dyyrachium / Durazzo. The countess lost her sons and step sons, and all her daughters have been married (i forgot one died in childbirth). He last daughter, Lucretia, is set to be married this year, the family she is marrying into just had to arrange things because she  
      • She is the step mother of the Rev. Theodon. 
    • The party, after eating and settling their bill proceeded to the Market which was near by. They bought supplies and asked them to be taken to the ship. Since they had a merchant with them, Cato sweet talked them to deliver the goods to Miroclenes who would use funds in the treasury to pay for it. 
    • Berthold went on a little adventure, and broke into the Black smith's house and stole some valuables. The smith managed to get a swing at him, for 6hp, and he failed his check to get down safely suffering 5dmg to his foot. 
      • he finds a very fine balanced small knife, an electrum (silver gold alloy) bracelet, and small trinkets and jewelry amounting to $500.
  • They finally proceed to the church around lunch time. When they arrived they heard galloping and a horse being ridden in the courtyard, but they could not see it. When they called up for the gates to open, the riding stopped and it was painstaking for the door to be open. When the door was open by the servants they were by a man who was suspicious of them. He was also skeptical of their papers, and was rude to Konrad. He introduces himself as Deacon Dorian and proceeded to bring them to the Priest. 

  • They meet Rev. Theodon introduces himself and is very grateful to meet people from the Capital. He is very helpful and thoughtful of the party's needs. When he learns of their injury he offers his medical skills. He says he can shelter 30 and more if he conscripts the use of their much unused barracks. 
    • Theodon takes care of Burtholds injuries. 
    • The party asks Theodon to have access to the barracks. 
    • Cato got bored and began to go on to a little adventure. He spots a rather tall woman, walking away from the church which he follows. She is escorted by maids who let her get on a horse and ride away. He badgers the maids to much of their humilation until they bring him to the House of Berenos. He goes there to call on the lady, but the servants say she is not in. He badgers them and they are humiliated and close the door on him.
  • That afternoon they get busy setting up the injured crewmen, Miroclenes takes care of the details and the crew takes Mateus offer for dinner and socializing with the merchants who could join them. They tell many stories and they get to know much about the town and the situation. They learn of Hledik "the Hun" a mercenary employed by the countess who has gotten "out of control" and calls himself the Master of Nikopolis. They learn that Kovalsky is his sergeant, and that they control all the lands north of the town. 
    • Mateus offers them stingy rewards to get rid of Hledik. They paint him as a brute but the party's political survival instincts kick in and are wary of the one sided discussion. Basically the deal on the table is very dubious and non of the party was willing to put their neck on the line. 
    • He asks them if they liked the priest. 
    • Cato gets to the wives of the merchants interested in him, they talk about their daughters and cato tries to get to know them. He is able to make them think he is a better off bachelor than he really is. In the morning he will meet their daughters and see if an arrangement can be made. 
  • That morning, they attempt to find Kovalsky and one of kovalsky's men find them and tell them to meet outside of town. In a farmers house in an hour. The party made plans of what to discuss. The walk to the place and is surprised to meet Hledik himself. He speaks in bulgarian with Kovalsky being rude to the Konrad, Xeno, and Teritius. Xeno asks him to speak and greek, while he mocks them and sizes them up. He plays his hand - he coyly says he can't trust them since they spoke to Mateus, but if he hands them the Norman Prisoners he consider giving them good men in exchange, enough to man all his oars. 
    • Kovalsky despite speaking bulgarian he speaks good greek. He tells them its a good deal, taking the time to meet each of their gazes and tells them they can go save the empire with those men and consider carefully who they go to bed with.
    • As a sign of good faith, he lends them 3 horses. Note that good horses are very expensive, its like lending 3 cars if you compare it to income.  
    • He also points out, if it was not obvious enough that he is watching them. 
  • Meanwhile it seems Cato considers getting engaged and writes letters to be sent to his Brother and his patron, Umbertopolous for permission and a bride price and dowry. The lucky lady is Leandra who is about 15, and seems to be entertained by Cato. Of course there will be some negotiations and exchanges of letters. There is a very long process which will keep everyone else but Cato busy. Still Cato would be expected to write letters to her. 
  • The party strategizes and tries to figure out the puzzle of what is going on and it seems the fate of Preveza and Nikopolis is on their hands. This and they have other responsibilities, injured men and an Emperor to impress and a House' honor to restore. All their tactical con
  • The party figures out who the girl Cato saw ride away, riding north to the direction of Nikopolis was Lucretia and sent Burthold and Tertius to follow her. They manage to follow her and find her practicing horse archery with Kovalsky. They observe and nothing creepy went on. They returned to report, Teritius being able to tell how long such drills would go. On horseback it only takes them 20 minutes to cross 7km. Upon learning that she knows Kovalsky they want to confront her and possibly use her as leverage to change the deal with Hledik. When she got back from her practice, the party managed to get to arrange being able to talk to her in private - after letting her get the smell of horse sweat out of her. 
    • things get interesting because they were breaking a lot of protocols talking to a woman without her chaperon. In the hesitation, Xeno stepped in and confronted her. He manages to convince her, by telling her a bit of what is happening and going on.  That night they went off to try to talk to Kovalsky, Lucretia knew how to find him and he shocked him by bringing to them. 
      • They try to pry about their relationship. Basically Kovalsky and Hledik protected the town when many of its warriors died in Dyyrachium / Durazzo. 
    • He admonishes her and tells them to take the deal. In fact he does better, he promises that they will get the men if they take the deal IF they take Lucretia with them. This is when things get more confusing and the party is pretty much perplexed. When they pushed and tried to get Kovalsky to talk, they were basically asking him to betray Hledik and they learned more about Kovalsky. He told her to join them and to leave. He told them to take her by force if necessary. 
  • The party then follows through. That night they prepare to leave get their affairs in order. Xeno is anguished by what kind of deal they have made, and the predicament he has made. He follows up one more lead, the "Servant Finder" Pesko. He knows pesko and asks him about Hledik. Pesko asks him what he knows, and the news of what Xeno can reveal delights the scumm friend of his. 
  • Cato makes sure Leandra's family is safe just before he goes and warns them of what will happen next. 
  • Just before dawn they sail their ship near Nikopolis where men boarded the ship to act as crew. The prisoners are rowed back. They even get a skilled Javeliner. When the deal was done, a fire arrow is shot in the air. Easily it can be seen from Nikopolis to signal something the crew will not be able to see as they sail to Taranto

Afterword. 

  • Hledik wants to be lord of the land and needs legitimacy. He can take it by force, of course, but he would have to worry about people using his illegitimacy against him for the rest of his life. There is only one person in the entire town who can ever give him legimitacy or oppose him with any credibility and that is - the Priest - Theodon. 
  • Mateus is a Merchant, still nothing in the social order. His money means nothing when he does not have the force of arms to defend himself and his goods. 
  • The Countess is weary and cynical. She has few allies, and her step son is one of them. Her father is a miserly schemer, if he had any courage he could have taken over the town years ago - his daughter is the countess after all. Her son many not be a warrior, but there is great hubris and curses to those who would kill a priest. She already knows shes doomed and is paralyzed and stubborn to do anything about it. 
  • The Norman prisoners were pretext, a scapegoat before an angry mob. A man will say anything under torture, and blood for blood is what will sate them after their beloved priest is gone. The Deacon is his man, although he cannot officiate any sacrament, there are few people who know that and he can exploit the ignorance until he gets legitimized. With Hlediks backing he can marry the Countess and take her dowry when he's done with her. Once married, he can set his sights on Mateus. 
  • If Lucretia was there, she would have to be a helpless witness to what Kovalsky would have to aid Hledik in doing. She is a fighter, and she will be killed or worse by Hledik. For his own self preservation it would be better she be removed from this equation. 
  • The party will have a friend in the port of Preveza if next they come back, a powerful warlord who would add to the terribly shorthanded manpower of the empire. He is a monster but too many good men have died in too many wars. Alexius had to forgive many of his betrayers, and swallowing this pill is a small price to pay if they wish to win back an Empire.

Behind the Screen

  • That was a five hour game! And so many things happened. My brain was constantly about to explode with all the details if I didn't get this out on the blog ASAP. 
  • The problem was based on the Economic and Psychological background of the region and the myopia the empire faced in their desperation to keep appearances. You can say preveza is one of many towns and cities that fell to ruin because Alexius and John Doukas' strategy was to focus on the East at the expense of the holdings that still loyal to the empire. 
  • like in Happy Jacks - I just made a problem and there was many ways to solve it. The problem was this town was doomed and a monster was going to take over it. The problem is also that the monster is not strictly bad, and many of the shades of gray elements - avoiding oversimplification and dehumanization - came in handy in dressing and preparing each NPC. All of them sinners but all of them have reasons behind it, and they can be selfish reasons or human reasons, still it is a harsh world and it was a very difficult and frightening era.   
  • I prepared 2 encounter maps, expecting them to want to fight the "Villain" these maps were flexible enough to be remodeled into various kind of encounters.  I can still re-use them in the next game. 
  • Next time I will use my newer computer to run ONair while my older computer to run Roll20 and the large screen. That way there is less lag (there was A TON of la-ag). 

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