Saturday, April 6, 2013

K02 - The council of April 4th FA 15

This is the play report of the campaign's sendoff and first social combat playtest. The issues are stake were previously described, and the outcome essentially decides what kind of campaign will be run: from dungeon crawl all the way to Dwarf fortress GURPS sandbox. My note taking was really bad, and it was my first G+/Roll20 game as a GM. Another post of the social combat mechanics will follow.

It was as fine day of spring in Erebor. The King had convened this council many months ago. It exceptionally included new faces from Aglarond and from Iron Hills. In pure dwarven tradition, the pre-council feast had seen plenty of food and ale flow over and under the large stone table. All players checked for inebriation: the King himself was tipsy as well as Khazek. Even Farin, a compulsive carouser, managed to succeed both of his check and let the good times rolls without embarrassing himself [tipsy folks get -1 IQ, which is a big deal in social combat].

The King then stood, sporting a flushed-faced grin: "The way Iron Hill had been a stepping stone to get Erebor, I see Erebor as a stepping stone to the true destiny of our time" to reclaim Khazad-dum, our only dwarven home. I summoned you here, kins and friends, to be part of this venture that will see us paved the way for the 7th coming of Durin. We must act now, decisively, and without misgivings of the heart. I plan to set from Erebor with all of the reserve and our wives and children. This is no mere military objective: it is about meeting our destiny with dignity and resolve".  The king thus made a stigmatize move against compromise using his leadership. This succeeded and raised the cost of the transition between the "Founders" state and the "Maximum effort" state.

He disclosed a number of large golden rings that were drawn from a small coffer. I melted one of my crown and made these rings for you. Once that you are back in Khazad-dum, we shall melt these and create a new crown for my son, Durin the 7th. Join me!

The King then requested counsel from his uncle Bain. Bain argued that Erebor was not merely a stepping stone but a mountain home. Bain used his public-speaking skill to make a compelling argument for the "maximum effort" state. This also worked, reverting the King's attempt to entrench himself. Khazed, trying to keep things light, used his Fast-talk to get the King to lose the destiny angle and be more pragmatic. This didn't work and Khazek simply came across as inappropriately light-hearted in this venue (lost composure). Kalin and the Prime minister followed with further argument trying to soften the King's position. However, neither succeeded and instead came across as overly cautious (lost composure). Drolf decided to align himself with the King and argued for the King's vision, and successfully argued that his private military Attack (350 dwarves), could be left in Erebor to compensate for the departure of the reserve.

The King then got angry at the council, accused them of being overcautious and threaten them to be replaced with stouter dwarves such a Drolf. He used his intimidation skills to stigmatize the "Maximum effort" option. This is when Drolf, from his position of confidence (no distance penalty), offered to leave it behind his men to help protect Erebor. Bain used his ciceronian skills to cool down the debate and keep the King's option open still for now.

Some more haggling happened (my notes are baaaad...). At some point, Kalin argued with his History skill that the mistakes of the past, refering to "Balin's folly", or the failed attempt to reclaim Khazad-dum, must not be repeated. The King countered the argument with Leadership, claiming that he was not Balin and that he had the leadership to see that his army would not fail. Drolf, however, managed to turn the King's winning leadership argument into his own ammunition by arguing with great success that Thorin III was such a great leaders that even a smaller force would become victorious. Drolf used soldier's lingo and a touch of machismo to successfully drag he King all the way into the "Expeditionary Froce" state. The King had been played well on bravado where sound logistical, political and economical argument had failed.

Now that the King was in the right column, a few of the PCs actually wanted to talk him next out of coming himself. Khazek attempted again to bring a light touch to the debate and used his Fast-talk to soften the King's resolve in leading himself the mission. The King, becoming weary of this council, started to make comments about going to bed. He made a composure attack on the Khazek to mute his lobby: "Khazek, you are drunk.... have another ale." Thus dismissing the young ranger with a broad smile. What the King didn't know was that Bain wanted him out of the expedition as well. Bain tried to sway him, then Drolf, neither with success. Kalin on the contrary argued against leaving the King behind (can't remember the skill used), unsuccessfully. The council was coming off to an end. In a last-ditch effort, Khazek used Fast-Talk to jokingly suggest that the King's most important conquest right now was to make babies such that the prophecy came true rather than to muck in orc-infested slime: maybe if he hurries up there will still be orcs to slay by the time that he was done. The King, still tipsy and a loss for a reply to this (he was too happy and liked Khazek too much to counter with intimidation), made consecutive use of his Fast-Talk in hope to drunken-outwit the ranger (-2 penalty). Khazek passed his check while the King got a critical failure! The King, trying to be entertaining simply got out-caroused by Khazek and drawled on briefly before breaking into violent hiccups. All were cheering and laughing loudly. The King, between bouts of laughters, admitted that siring a heir sounded like a bucket of fun at that moment and weakly acquiesced.

I bet that he'll regret saying that when he wakes up tomorrow morning. The GM really wanted to bring the King along for the ride as a source of drama and comic relief....


  1. I am sure that there will be plenty of other avenues of drama and comic relief, even NOT counting the PC antics and interactions. There will be some 2000 Dwarves going, right? Theres gotta be something interesting going on there.

  2. There will be interesting things up head, a Dwarven political intrigue game with mass combat is definitely going to be really interesting...

  3. I'm quite happy about the final result of the council. Too bad, for me, that I was not able to be there, but that result is actualy somethig I was hoping for.
    What I would like to know is, who was chosen as a leader of the expedition and therefore, whom I'm bound to obey and be helpfull during the expedition from now on.

    Farin II, The Warchanter of Erebor

    1. Leadership has not been decided yet. By default, the next in line and going is Bain Stonetongue. However, I believe that he may pass this buck to someone else. Farin's name was floated around at the end of the session. We'll sort this out next, probably as a play by post.