We played the first session of a new 7th Sea - Second Edition Campaign I'm calling "The Fallen Accords". The first part of the session involved "Spotlights" for each of the 5 Heroes. This is a concept that another player/GM uses for his campaigns. It's an impromptu, improvised retelling of a story from the player's past or a short solo-scene in the present. The story's topic/subject is determined by the player and the GM responds to the story and introduces plot twists or complications that the player overcomes. The idea is to give both the player of the Hero and the others some insight into the character's personality. These were done as "Dramatic Sequences" even though the results were unknown.
We did five of these that were all past events that helped shape the character. Then we jumped ahead 3 months after the "Spotlights" and did a Masquerade Ball. The idea was to hook the first step of the Heroes' Active Stories together at this event. This would allow them a chance to progress in their stories, meet each other, interact, and gain some clues to the campaign. This was originally going to be a Dramatic Sequence, but instead I ran it like a traditional RP scene, calling for Risk rolls where there was a chance of Consequences or Opportunities.
The five Heroes are:
Dr. Blackwell - Avalon doctor and Knight of Elaine seeking to do good wherever he goes
Bonny MacKenzie - Highland Marches clan leader's daughter and monster hunter
Fabien Giovinco di Pioro - Vodacce warrior-scholar seeking to get back into the good graces of his family
Zhennya Rostov Lukichna Grigoriytova - Ussuran mother, touched by Matushka and seeking to ease the suffering of others
Silvia Voker Kraus - Eisen monster hunter who uses hexenwerk to aid her cause
Here is the recap as written...comments on rules uses are in Bold/Italic
Six Months ago...(Spotlights - About 15 to 20 minutes each)
In Avalon, on the shores of the Emerald Strait, Dr. Blackwell discovered the Selkie, Ariyelle, who had been tricked by a nearby Ettercap. The vile creature had tolen Ariyelle's skin and shackled her with an iron band to which it had the only key. Dr. Blackwell rallied the nearby town of Gildonshire, playing on their fears and nurturing instincts to help him route out and kill this creature. Since it had plagued the town with tithes, a dozen men went with Dr. Backwell to the cave of the creature. Having burned their spears and soaked them in fresh sap, they were armed with the tools needed. Finding the ettercap barricaded in its cave by a large stone, Dr. Blackwell snuck in through a small tunnel, confronted the creature with fire and allowed the villages to kill it. Ariyelle retrieved her skin and was freed of the iron shackle just before sunset, allowing her to return to the water. The village's fishing has been the best ever since.
In Ussuran, near the town of Veche, Zhennya came upon the town of Abinsk, where several children had gone missing. The Bolyar's son and the blacksmith's daughter had gone missing two nights ago on their way to get firewood. Some investigation lead Zhennya to discover that the daughter, Yelena, had been found by a search party but wandering speechless and almost in a catatonic state. The bolyar's son, Dmitri, had not returned and the last search party sent did not return either. Zhennya realized the girl had been affected by the Walking Sleep Curse, sometimes used by followers of Czernobog to cause more pain and suffering for loved ones. Flying as an owl, Zhennya discovered a hidden hut in the forest. Entering through the chimeny, Zhennya discovered an old crone tending to the boy, also suffering from the curse. Using an unguent, the crone cured the boy and Zhennya brought back a pot to aid the girl, promising to carry a small sachet filled with herbs. The family of the girl and village were glad for the aid Zhennya had provided.
In the county of Hainzl, Silvia was preparing to do battle with a group of restless spirits inhabiting a nearby cemetery, causing problems. To do this, she knew she needed the heart of a valiant warrior recently dead. Having heard that an Eisen general from the War of the Cross recently succumbed to disease and sickness, she knew where to find her heart. However, the family of the general were observing customs that required them to sit vigil for three nights, fasting, to ensure his soul went on. Silva couldn't wait for that long, so she created a sleeping powder and joined the family in remembering the general and his aide, Abalard Schmidt who had taken in Silvia as an orphan. When the family was asleep, Silvia picked the lock on the mausoleum, and as she was about to cut out the heart, a dread wraith appeared from the dead man's spirit. Rather than fight, Silvia allowed the wraith to leave peacefully, perhaps to return again someday. Having retrieved the heart she needed, Silvia used it for an unguent that allowed her to clear the cemetery of the restless dead, saving nearby townsfolk.
In the city of Charouse, Fabien and Pierre are studying for their alchemy final at University. Having finished his contribution, Pierre was helping Fabien who had used all of his aloeweed making a burn soothing unguent. Since it was late at night, Fabien knew he had to get some more to finish their final project. Pierre, having always been the by the book type, did not want to go out that late, but Fabien was insistent so the two found themselves on the streets, heading for the shoppe of Sebastien Travere, an alchemist Fabien had purchased ingredients from before. Finding the store closed and dark, Pierre wanted to leave, but Fabien would not be deterred. While trying to see if Sebastien was home, the scholar found the dining room furniture in disarray and blood on the floor. Fearing the worst, Fabien entered and discovered the secret trapdoor into the basement. There, thinking he would find Sebastien in danger, instead found the man practicing porte sorcery, forbidden for those not of noble blood. Pierre picked that time to enter as well, both young men witnessing this abomination. Threatening Sebastien with reporting this to the authorities, he gave the alchemist a day to leave the city. The city watch did not find any signs of Sebastien Travere, and his whereabouts are still unknown.
In the Highlands, Clan MacKenzie had been plagued by a firbolg, a misshapen giant with the skin of bark. The creature had been stealing clan goods on the trade routes and Bonny's father was determined to finally put an end to the threat. Bonny was not to be invited to the hunt, but the night before while the clan celebrated, Bonny found its location and stole away in the night, under the guise of being too drunk. Instead, she tracked the creature to its cave, having learned of its weakness in its vulnerable neck and underarms. She set traps and snares outside the creature's cave and them taunted it into becoming enraged and rushing out for vengeance. When it did, it was caught in a snare and rendered mostly helpless but for its large axe. The fight went on for a half hour before Bonny was able to insert the pike's end into the creature's heart. Drawing out the clan treasure, she waited on the creature's body until her father and clansmen came the next day to find the creature already dead. Her father, while proud, sent her away to avoid problems with the men of the clan for her reckless foolishness that showed them up.
Three Months Ago...(The Masquerade)
With the night of Heinrich Milner's masquerade ball in remembrance of the War of the Cross a day away, several new arrivals to Stutzung, Eisen were making their preparations. Bonny MacKenzie used her wile and womanly ways to garner a 'replacement' invitation to the gathering from the printer, Thomas Schwinesteiger, owner of the "Depressed Paper" in the lower part of town. She wore a mask of the sun to accentuate her hair. Zhennya asked about town for the likely attendees and identified Adolf Untermann, a retired military man who lost an arm in the war, as a potential escort. He was all too happy to escort a strong, foreign woman like Zhennya, who wore an owl mask. Dr. Blackwell was invited as a guest of Lady Hildebrant VonHuston, a widow of the war who was looking to show that she was recovering well and was still quite capable of taking care of things. Dr. Blackwell wanted to go minimalist with his mask and wore only a plain mask over his eyes. Silvia had managed to secure herself an invitation, being an Eisen and a vetern of the war herself. She chose a raven mask with feathers, befitting her mood. Using his observation skills and what he'd heard to create a plausible story for himself, Fabien managed to talk his way into the gathering without an invitation but sporting a black fox mask that covered most of his face. [The preparation was mostly RP and only a few rolls to Convince or Tempt, with Opportunities to gain bonsu dice later or Consequences of upsetting the wrong people later]
Once inside, the five found themselves amidst a rather large gathering of nearly thirty guests, being attended to by almost a dozen servers in black suits all wearing plain black theater style masks with no mouth-holes. A band comprised of four violinists and a female harpist provided the music, somber as it was for such an occasion. Cursory examination revealed that the ballroom had recently been decorated with all manner of artifacts from the war, weapons, armor, letters to and from the front lines, portraits and paintings of families and those lost in the war. It created an atmosphere of sadness that seemed to permeate the night. Drinks, mostly beer and wine, were provided, as were finger foods, all delivered and cleared by the silent servers. A table of boar and other more substantial fare was also set out in the middle of the room and each guest was given a commemorative black handkerchief should they be overcome with emotion throughout the night. [There were some general Notice rolls allowed here with Opportunities to notice more and Consequences of being seen snooping or spending too much time observing.]
Mingling occurred during the reception hour, Zhennya using her opportunities to meet Olga Mueller, the woman she had been unsuccessfully trying to apologize to. With Adolf's good word, she made good on the apology and agreed to meet the woman soon to make amends. Along the way, Zhennya started to notice that everyone here had lost someone or something to the war, and this gave her cause to wonder about some things. Dr. Blackwell was busy socializing with his date, spreading around that he was a scholar interested in history. He managed to speak with several historians about the weapons on display, leading the conversation towards finding out more about the Sidhe sword, Oidhche Tonn. Bonny was looking for the Bard Cinead but had no luck tracking him down for a while. Fabien was waiting to speak with Heinrich Mueller but made his way around meeting the guests until the host showed. Meanwhile. Silvia slipped out to the back and used the opportunity to climb into Heinrich Milner's study, locating his manifest with information about who had purchased der Buch der Untoten and the fact it was paid for with Vodacce coins by a Montaigne Archaeologist named Rene Bonnaire. [The sneaking out, climbing up, and locating the information were a series of individual Risks, each with its own Opportunities - sometime for additional information - and Consequences - usually being seen, making noise, or setting off a trap.]
Within the hour, the host Heinrich Milner addressed those gathered, lamenting about the pains and losses Eisen had endured in the War. He introduced the reknowned bard CInead who regaled the guests with a ballad of love lost as an Avalon woman on her way by ship to see her Eisen lover was lost at sea in a storm that wrecked her ship. Her would be husband died of a broken heart. The guests by this time were overcome with emotion, many sobbing uncontrollably into their handkerchiefs. Even Bonny and Fabien were overcome with grief, though Dr. Blackwell and Zhennya called up reserves of inner strength to ward off the near magical effects of the song and music. With the dancing in full swing, though still somber and slow, Fabien used the opportunity to approach Herr Milner. Inquiries into who purchased artifacts with Vodacce coins were met with vague pleasantries and a promise to meet with Fabien after the party to review his ledger. Bonny also had a chance to speak with the bard, and learned that the witch Bodicea was rumored to form deals with young woman, promising them the hand of a man they were courting, but in the end taking their youth and vitality to fuel her own long life. Bonny would need to find any weaknesses or a way to stop the deal, as Cinead knew of none. By this time, Silvia had finished in the upstairs rooms and was watching the dancing from the balcony unseen. [Moving around unseen was also a Risk here, with Opportunities to see additional information]
Shortly after, the host again took to the main balcony and began regaling the crowd with more stories of loss experienced by the Eisen people. He even invited those with similar stories to come and tell them to the crowd. Bonny, overcome with grief even spent time telling her tales of loss, while Silvia managed to steal her wits against the oppressive feelings of melancholy. Fabien too realized something was going on and while he felt sad, he was able to resist the increased feelings that the remainder of the guests were succumbing to. [This was a magical effect that I allowed Heroes to use Hero Points to avoid, either with Indomitable Will or similar] Silvia, suspicious of the servers who were carrying used handkerchiefs into the basement. Stealthily she followed one down and discovered that there was a cauldron being used as a focus for a spell and managed to use her Ghost Eyes unguent to see an invisible Sarmation woman overseeing the preparation.
[This is where the Action Sequence started and I had prepared multiple Opportunities and Consequences ahead of time. The main ones were: The Musicians were a Brute Squad with a low level Villain Harpist. The Servers were 2 Brute Squads. Heinrich was a Villain. Bringing a guest out of the magical effect cost a Raise as an Opportunity. Helping put out the Fire was an Opportunity which would affect the "Roof collapses on Raise X later. Consequences included a fire that had started and getting trampled and knocked down as more guests panicked and rushed the doors.]
Hurrying upstairs, Silvia hoped to warn the others in the room what was going on. At the same time Zhennya was growing more concerned with the music being played and how it was affecting the guests. She took matters into her own hands and advanced upon the violinists and set to smashing their instruments. This caused a disruption as Dr. Blackwell began shouting for the guests to throw off the oppressive feelings of sadness and guilt. As panic set in, a small fire was started near a fireplace and both Fabien and Bonny worked together to put it out and rescue those caught near it. Dr. Blackwell had some success rousing several of the guests, who then headed for the front doors only to find them barred. The Music came to an abrupt end as Zhennya picked up the floor harp and used it to knock the the violinists, but allowing the harpist to draw out one of the strings as a garrote and attack her from behind. After Bonny and Fabien push open the large doors to allow folks to flee, Bonny heads to the basement with Silvia while Fabien keeps the fires from getting out of control as another broke out near the other fireplace. Also, Dr. Blackwell, while trying to wake the others out of their sad state, throws a mask off one of the servers to discover they have no mouths and do not appear fully human. [Once the Heroes were 'together' there was a lot of assisting going on which helped the Risk rolls from this point on.
In the basement, Bonny rushes to push over the cauldron, scalding her hands in the process. [Brawn/Athletics Risk with Consequences of Burns and Opportunity to make out what was in the cauldron] Unfortunately, the mysterious Sarmatian woman is nowhere to be found and Silva and Bonny head upstairs again, right into Heinrich Milner who has joined the fray yelling about his plans going awry. He and Silva engage in an exchange of blows while Zhennya faces off against the harpist, who turns out to be the same mouthless creature that Dr. Blackwell revealed the servers to be. The harpist creature is a lot for Zhennya to handle until Bonny joins the fray. All the while, Silvia has followed Heinrich to the upper balcony, only to come face to face with the Sarmatian woman, where he can see that her eyes are bloodshot and there are permanent tear stains on her cheeks. He strikes her, but a quick response by the woman causes doubt in Silvia's mind and she misses the first strike. A second blow landed but instead of blood, the woman bled a clear liquid before the wound healed almost instantly. Heinrich kept up his attacks while the fire continued to burn unabated. Fabien and Dr. Blackwell were instrumental in rescuing the remainder of the guests, with only 5 being taken by fire or wounds. [We had to wrap up in a hurry as we were over time so I extrapolated how many they've saved and how many Rounds until the fire. This was going to be a "Consequence on X Raises when the roof collapsed. ] Fabien even had time and the presence of mind to rescue Herr Milner's ledger and a personal diary, as well as a wooden box about the size to fit a mask. Bonny and Zhennya took down the harpist before they fled the burning manor. Silvia managed to slice at the mask Heinrich was wearing to discover it had fused to his face. As he tumbled over the balcony into the fire below, the Sarmatian woman disappeared into one of the adjoining rooms. As the five guests watched the manor burn, more questions filled their collective minds as they began to compare notes...