This thread is prompted by another titled "The Missing Earl returns..."
Much of how I would have responded to that thread would have required that certain assumptions be made before I could continue. There is scant information available regarding Sedris that one has to wonder what we can infer about the "character" within the confines of Harnic history.
First, lets look at what we do have. On page Kaldor 15 of Kaldor Kingdom Module first edtion, we have the following phrase "Sedris Meleken, a man of renowned honor, is currently away from the estate in search of a murderer. He left early in 719 and his estates are competently managed by his wife Thilisa"
Ok, not an awful lot of information to work with, but lets see where this goes. If we look more closely at Kaldor Kingdom Module second edition, we're told that Sedris is the last of his line, and that upon his death, the Earldom would be held by someone not of his direct bloodline.
My question is...
Why would an Earl personally go after a murderer when he would more than likely have sent a vassal to undertake the task?
In order to answer that question, one has to ask "Who was the murder victim". I find it highly unlikely, that the Earl would pursue a murderer of a common born individual - that's what vassal knights are for. I also highly doubt that the Earl takes a personal interest in any and/or every commoner who is a vassal to himself or his own vassals as to personally persue their killers. That leads me to conclude that the Murderer's victim has to be someone of note.
Now, why did the authors of the Kaldor Kingdom Module mention that the Earl was on a quest to pursue the murderer yet not list who that person was, nor whom that person's victim was? Oversight? A desire to leave an adventure hook without detailing it too much so as to place any future GM's in a straightjacket as to how to handle it? If we can't observe something directly, what can we infer from the shadow that is cast by that which we cannot see?
First - would an Earl set off in pursuit of a killer with just himself, or would he have set off with his squire, and a few body guards? Would he have been able to leave his estate without at least telling his wife why he MUST
go instead of a vassal knight? Would he have left his estates without at least informing the King (his liege) of his intent? How many day's worth of supplies would the Earl of taken (dependent upon how many people he was taking of course!). How much coinage would the Earl of taken to subsidize his hunt of the Killer? Would what he took, have been able to last at least 6 months? And if so, why did the Earl think it would take so long?!!!
Second - what kind of trail would the murderer have left for which the Earl even hoped he could track the Killer? Did he know the Killer's identity? Was he hunting an actual physical trail - which after a few day's rain, would have been wiped out? More importantly, what kind of trail would the Earl of left as he tracked his quarry? Where precisely was the Earl expected to go to but never showed up at - after leaving? In other words, if the Earl goes to place A, then from there to B, and from there to C and D, and from thence, to E - if he never arrives at E, his last known place was D. The trail/spoor gets lost between D and E, but at least we know for example, that at place D, he was there at such and such time and date. Harn's KALDOR KINGDOM MODULE does not give any such information (that I'm aware of) and it seems to be lacking altogether such that a GM has to do all the work themselves. As such, each P-HARN will be unique in this regard.
So, to that end, I propose the following thoughts, and let people run with them
1) the murder victim was not initially seen to have been a murder victim, and common knowledge being what it is - everyone believes the death to have been natural.
2) the victim has to be someone of such import to Sedris that he HAS to set off in pursuit. The murder has to be someone who can't be accused with impunity by a noble, and thus, the quarry must be noble born as well.
3) The King has to know of it or Sedris would never have been able to assauge his own sense of honor and leave his liege without his services - ie, Sedris asked for, and receive permission from the King. The other possiblity is that the KING himself sent Sedris on this mission...
The only TWO victims whom Sedris might feel a need/compulsion to chase after personally, are either:
A) The King's brother, who died in 719. If he suspected the Sir Merik's death were not natural, but had no real proof, he'd possibly undertake the task after asking permission. Otherwise, if someone perhaps witnessed the death and the King knew of it, perhaps the King directly approached Sedris to find the killer and bring the killer(s) to justice. After all? If Sir Melik had been killed, he was the number one person in the line of successsion after the King himself (remember, no heirs!). This hints at a possible conspiracy where someone is attempting to ruthlessly eliminate all contenders to the throne (including the actual wearer of the crown!).
B) The Earl's Kin. As of the Kingdom module second edition, we find that Sedris is the last of his line. Might it not be possible that in 718, he discovered evidence that his father had been murdered, and that he feels a personal need to bring such miscreant to justice?
Imagine the possibilites we have here just trying to tie in the reason for Sedris' pursuit to the events of Kaldor in TR 720. For example? Suppose the wife to Troda Dariune has taken it into her heart (much like Lady MacBeth for example) to murder the King's Brother, and then the King so that Troda Dariune can sit upon the Throne? Perhaps Sir Conwan, ever aware that if his rival to the throne were recognized as a legitimate bastard of the King, that he may not be able to assume the throne - putting years of private negoation with the Church of Larani at jeapardy so as to renounce his oath renouncing his claim to the throne? What if Cheselyne the Elder fears that her chances of seeing herself or her daughter assume the throne is non-existant unless she helps nature a little by killing the King's brother FIRST, then the King?
There are so many possible avenues as to who the real killer is in a whodunit of medieval nature, that the GM can explore both the fun of the Kaldorian succession crisis and that of "what will the player characters do when they discover that the real murderer is the person they've been upholding throughout the entire crisis"?
In all? I feel it is a shame that Sir Sedris Melekin was never fleshed out as well as he might have been. With a beauty of a wife who is faithful to him, along with a feckle kingdom where people assume that an absense of less than a year signifies that the person is dead and whose wife is fair game for courting...
Can you imagine what might happen if the Earl were to return and he discovers that his wife has been the target of many a knight's lustful advances? Why the number of duels alone might end up killing him!!!