Setrew Keep

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WarFlail
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Setrew Keep

#1 Post by WarFlail » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:11 pm

In my campaign, the PCs have discovered the corpse of a messenger who had taken refuge in a cave in the hills of Fyaslor Forest in northern Kaldor. He had been shot by an arrow and had evaded his pursuers, but unfortunately met his demise while hiding (bleeding out, infection, doesn't matter how).

The messenger was carrying a letter intended for Earl Curo in Gardiren Castle. It is a report from his spy in Setrew Keep: it tells of Baron Ethasiel - the Earl's vassal - being aware of smuggling activities by the local Lia Kavair clan. Not only aware but even tacitly allowing it and taking a cut of the action. The Baron has also started hiring Orbaalese mercenaries who appear to be helping the Lia Kavair. He seems to be doing nothing about the mercenaries' rapacious excesses, particularly to those of Jarin descent in the barony. Not only that, but the Sheriff of Meselyneshire is turning a blind eye to the whole thing too, as if he and the Baron have a certain 'understanding' between them.

The PCs discovered the letter while on a mission at the behest of a manor lord near Heru Keep to deal with a local bandit problem.

Being a spy's letter to his/her lord, presumably the letter wouldn't be so blatant as to have the Earl's name on it. But at the same time I don't want the recipient to be so obscure that the PCs can't figure out who is meant to read it. The PCs are not so closely tuned into Kaldoric politics that they would even know who is the Baron of Setrew's liege. Any suggestions on how the letter should read?

If Earl Curo receives the letter, what would be his reaction? If the PCs decide to hand the letter to the Constable of Heru, what then?

My intention is to use this letter as a plot hook to gradually embroil the PCs in the coming succession crisis, should they choose to follow that path.




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Re: Setrew Keep

#2 Post by Rothesay » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:20 pm

I would say the letter deals with unimportant minutiae of a vassal to his liege. 'Right honorable lord' etc. ...

But, there is a great deal of empty space on the missive, amounting to perhaps half the page. If they notice that such a large amount of parchment has been wasted, then they might think of the simple expedient of lemon juice (or some other invisible ink).

That part can say whatever you want, since the PCs have been clever enough to suss it out. :wink:

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Re: Setrew Keep

#3 Post by pfstrack » Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:10 pm

Assuming the messenger isn't the spy (if he were, there would be no need for the letter) then the letter could simply be sealed with the eblem of house Curo. Then a bit of heraldry (by the PCs or the constable of Heru) could point them in the right direction.

This way, the PCs have the added temptation of breaking the seal and reading the letter themselves.

If you feel a seal for Curo is too blatant, the seal could be for his neighboring vassal Londel in Yeged instead (but the messenger was told to deliver it to Gardiren).

The contents of the letter itself could be an inoccuous reports of trade from Orbaal, but with keywords indicating what is going on. Or with invisible ink, as Rothesay suggested.

Alternatively, the messenger could live just long enough to tell the PCs where to go, or he could have scrawled the name of an inn in Gardiren where he was supposed to have taken the letter before dying.

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Re: Setrew Keep

#4 Post by Peter the skald » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:07 pm

Tricky. Imho a letter hand delivered (or at least expected to be) from a spy to.a leige has no need for a seal. It would merely say 'My Lord' without signature or reference.

Textual referenced such as your vassal at the keep, or your vassal the baron might be present. The players could then be left to detective it out. Mot that many Barons and Earls about...might even be fun if they get it a bit wrong....

The dead messenger might have insignia though; or more obscure clues to his origin.
Plots and schemes are the same thing..

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Re: Setrew Keep

#5 Post by Rothesay » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:43 am

Though you probably have it, I thought I'd mention there is a Patrick Nilsson article on Setrew from way back. It's on Lythia.com. 8)

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Re: Setrew Keep

#6 Post by WarFlail » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:16 am

Rothesay wrote:Though you probably have it, I thought I'd mention there is a Patrick Nilsson article on Setrew from way back. It's on Lythia.com. 8)
Indeed, yes. It's a good article.

The Earl knows that Baron Ethasiel is very independent, hence the reason for planting spies in Setrew. What would be his likely reaction to this latest news?


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Re: Setrew Keep

#7 Post by Rothesay » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:25 am

IMC, I have Romlach being something of a henchman to Meden. Wevrel is more independent. Setrew, despite being a vassal of Neph, is one of the largest baronies in the kingdom. They have some maneuvering room for that. 8)

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Re: Setrew Keep

#8 Post by pfstrack » Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:41 pm

WarFlail wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:16 am
The Earl knows that Baron Ethasiel is very independent, hence the reason for planting spies in Setrew. What would be his likely reaction to this latest news?
Curo's big problem is that, while he commands a lot of wealth and influence himself, his vassals leave a lot to be desired. The Constable of Pendeth is a drunkard, the Baron of Yeged is useless, and the Baron of Esenor, while competent, is a schemer with plans of his own.

I suspect Curo would move cautiously and try to learn more to turn things to his advantage ... perhaps hiring a group of competent PCs to investigate for him.

I suspect Curo wouldn't go after Wevran directly. Curo isn't in a good place to bring his vassal to heel, and if Wevran's bad behavior came to light, it would make Curo look bad as well. I think Curo would be more interested moving up the ladder and looking at Maldan instead. I see two possible long-term plays for Curo.

1) Uncover Maldan's scheming and bring it to the king. This makes Curo look like a hero and put him in a better position to take down Wevran with royal help.

2) Use Maldan as a cats paw in the succession crisis to further his own plans. Curo may or may not want to be king himself, but he definitely wants to take down his biggest rival, Earl Dariune. If Curo can use Maldan to undermine whichever candidate Dariune supports, that puts Curo in a better position to play kingmaker and enhance his own status in the next king's reign.

Curo may even pursue both strategies at once, waiting until the last minute to commit to one path or another. Of all the Earl's, I think Curo is the least troubled by Maldan's bastard status, so he may even go so far as to support Maldan's bid for the throne himself (but only if Maldan has a good chance of winning).

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Re: Setrew Keep

#9 Post by Targan » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:39 pm

pfstrack wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:41 pm
2) Use Maldan as a cats paw in the succession crisis to further his own plans. Curo may or may not want to be king himself, but he definitely wants to take down his biggest rival, Earl Dariune. If Curo can use Maldan to undermine whichever candidate Dariune supports, that puts Curo in a better position to play kingmaker and enhance his own status in the next king's reign.
Isn't Curo putting in a great deal of time and effort to prove descent from the Tanes/Artanes and kind of hell-bent on restoring the crown to House Artane?
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Re: Setrew Keep

#10 Post by pfstrack » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:27 pm

Targan wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:39 pm
Isn't Curo putting in a great deal of time and effort to prove descent from the Tanes/Artanes and kind of hell-bent on restoring the crown to House Artane?
Maybe. He's definitely interested in his family's connection to house Tane, but I think whether that translates to a desire for the throne is a matter of interpretation. Mostly I see Curo as a scheme and an opportunist. I doubt he'd turn down the throne if offered it, but I don't know if he risk his neck for it.

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Re: Setrew Keep

#11 Post by WarFlail » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:05 pm

I think Curo's claim to the throne through the House Tane connection is pretty tenuous compared to the Elendsa angle. It seems to me that he could only push it if House Elendsa ends up collapsing into ashes as the claimants wipe each other out. But what support would the earl have? He seemingly can't even keep his vassals in line - not a good hallmark of a king...

If the news about Setrew ended up reaching Qualdris instead (via Heru), what do you suppose Lady Thilisa would do with it?


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Re: Setrew Keep

#12 Post by Targan » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:28 pm

WarFlail wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:05 pm
I think Curo's claim to the throne through the House Tane connection is pretty tenuous compared to the Elendsa angle.
Curo's claim to the throne through both House Tane and House Artane. And at the time of the Elendsa's elevation to the throne, the Curo's claim was clearly superior - it was the support of the Dariunes that handed the crown to Haldan Elendsa. The Curos will likely never forgive the Dariunes for that.

It seems clear that Earl Hemisen Curo would press his claim for the throne pretty hard unless the opposition was clearly unsurmountable. He regards Earl Troda Dariune as his arch rival and he's contemptuous of Maldan Harabor for being "lowborn". I think that to back any Elendsa succession he'd want Getha returned to his clan (and let's face it, there's a genuine grievance there with good cause).
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Re: Setrew Keep

#13 Post by MDMann » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:25 pm

There's a grievance, but not power to enforce it.
Per Sir Veer.

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Re: Setrew Keep

#14 Post by pfstrack » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:49 pm

Targan wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:28 pm
It seems clear that Earl Hemisen Curo would press his claim for the throne pretty hard unless the opposition was clearly unsurmountable. He regards Earl Troda Dariune as his arch rival and he's contemptuous of Maldan Harabor for being "lowborn". I think that to back any Elendsa succession he'd want Getha returned to his clan (and let's face it, there's a genuine grievance there with good cause).
I see Curo as ambitious but pragmatic. He'll go for what is reasonably achievable, not risking his Earldom in the process. Right now Curo is better off supporting one of the other contenders for the throne and try to bolster his clan's position in the next king's reign.

I do think Curo has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to clan Dariune, though. He might do something stupid and risky if it seems likely to bring down the Earl of Balim.

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Re: Setrew Keep

#15 Post by WarFlail » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:41 pm

pfstrack wrote: I do think Curo has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to clan Dariune, though. He might do something stupid and risky if it seems likely to bring down the Earl of Balim.
Ah, like hiring the PCs to do his dirty work, you mean...


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Re: Setrew Keep

#16 Post by rdelorme10 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:09 am

it tells of Baron Ethasiel - the Earl's vassal - being aware of smuggling activities by the local Lia Kavair clan. Not only aware but even tacitly allowing it and taking a cut of the action. The Baron has also started hiring Orbaalese mercenaries who appear to be helping the Lia Kavair. He seems to be doing nothing about the mercenaries' rapacious excesses, particularly to those of Jarin descent in the barony. Not only that, but the Sheriff of Meselyneshire is turning a blind eye to the whole thing too, as if he and the Baron have a certain 'understanding' between them.
The Earls reaction would depend on several factors. 1) how badly does he want to bring his vassals in line; 2) how good is the evidence; 3) what would the Kings react to smuggling; 4) in the news likely to go public.

Smuggling is one of those crimes that can be considered serious or could be treated with a slap on the wrist. The punishments varied greatly over time and depending on the culture. If the evidence is solid against his vassal then he would be best served to lower the boon: doing so does not embarrass the liege lord but actually gains him stature as man who keeps his vassals in line. If the punishment is a fine; he arrives unannounced with a sizable guard and very publically chastises his vassal and imposes a fine that forces the Baron to borrow money at a heft interest rate. The mercenaries are taken into the Earl's service at the Baron's expense and sent to serve the King fighting the Kath. If he is going to strip the Baron of his tittle he summons him to his Castle and in front of the Sherriff of Neph he tries him; and then either takes the title himself or demands the baron abdicate in favor of his heir before his execution. The Baron will appeal to the crown if his family is stripped, but he might accept his fate if his family is spared.

No one mentions the Maldan in public; but a private letter to either Maldan or the King that mentions that his name came up during the investigation and that the Earl dealt with the matter or wishes instructions.

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