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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 20, Part 2

March 29, 2015

The Rabble-Rouser

While the rulers of Caerelia were away from the capital, a demagogue that went by the name of Grigori set up shop in Stagell’s town square. He was a well-dressed man, finely groomed, portly, and had a deep, sonorous voice that commanded one’s attention. When he spoke, the entire square took notice. On the first day, a few dozen people gathered to hear him speak. On the second day, he had twice that amount. And the size of the crowd grew with each day as word spread.

Grigori spoke at length and with great passion and conviction of the crooks, liars, and incompetents that were currently running Caerelia into the ground. He listed their many flaws and misdeeds:

He spoke of their common or uncertain births, and how they had ascended to power only through trickery, murder, and sorcery.

He spoke of how they went off into the wilderness to go hunting for sport for weeks at a time, while leaving their lands and their peasants unguarded. “How many people – how many of your kinfolk – have been lost to faeries, worgs, and trolls while your sworn liege lords were off on some holiday?!”

He spoke of how little they regarded the lives of others, noting how long it took them to build any defenses at all for the settlement. “And you knew – everyone knew – that trolls and dragons were lurking outside your borders, waiting to eat you and your families!”

He spoke of how they had consorted with witches and faeries, and were not friends of mankind. “For all you know, they might even be in league with the trolls,” he thundered!

And finally, he spoke of how they had made a deal with thugs and thieves in order to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. The thieves were the true rulers of Caerelia, he insisted, citing the recent art theft/forgery scandal as proof. “But, one might ask, did not your rulers execute the thief that was caught? Hah!” That, he declared, was a lie. “It is not possible that these scoundrels would betray their masters like that! As we all know, there are sorcerers and witches sitting on the ruling council even now! Who knows what magic they have used to deceive you, the honest hard-working folk of the Greenbelt?!”

By the time the rulers had returned to Stagfell, Spymaster Mestinous’ underlings had a full report waiting for the council. The rabble-rouser was staying at one of the finer inns in town, and had commanded quite a following in a very short period of time. Many that heard him, heard their own unspoken thoughts given voice, and came back with friends to hear him again and again. Unrest in the kingdom had increased by 2 as a result. The spies also reported that part of his charm was magical in nature; there were several different auras on the man himself (eagle’s splendor, plus his magic items) and an enchantment aura on the crowd (enthrall).

Mestinous the elven wizard ordered one of his lieutenants to break into Grigori’s room while the demagogue was away in order to look for incriminating evidence. The spy reported back that nothing was found, but that there was a magic alarm in the room that would have alerted Grigori of the trespassing. Lacking any proof of perfidy, the PCs sought to manufacture some. Satampra the swashbuckler commanded the creation of forged documents that would show that Grigori was working for unspecified enemies of the kingdom. His plan was to slip the documents onto their target immediately prior to his public arrest.

The next day, Mestinous came to hear Grigori’s speech after first using disguise self to appear as a human butcher. Satampra, Simon the cleric, and Breen the monk were also nearby, hidden behind some nearby buildings. After listening for a bit, the Spymaster had to admit that the man made a persuasive case. And most of what he said, while exaggerated, was basically true. Which, of course, made him all the more dangerous! A detect magic spell confirmed what his spies had already told him: Grigori was using performance-enhancing magic. Once the wizard felt that he had discerned all he could from the magic auras, he ceased concentration and resumed listening to the speech.

“My friends, you may say, ‘Grigori, what proof do you have of these accusations?’ And I asked you to wait and see, did I not? Well my friends, the time for waiting is almost over! Come back here tomorrow and you can hear my friend tell his tale of woe. This is a man who has personally witnessed the heinous crimes of the thugs and tyrants of Caerelia! He has seen your rulers deceive and kill his comrades! Honest, hardworking laborers of the Greenbelt, much like yourselves! And now they lay dead, murdered at the hands of your ‘Emperor’ and his cohorts!”

Mestinous’ eyes grew wide in shock. Uh-oh, he thought. He couldn’t… could he? How could he have found out?!

“And all at the behest of inhuman, otherworldly monsters!” Grigori continued. “That’s correct! I speak the truth! They have killed their own kind to slake the bloodthirst of the foul creatures that lurk in the Narlmarches! They are not your protectors – they are the wolves, and you all – every one of you – are their prey!”

The Spymaster grimaced. Time to put an end to this. The innocuous butcher in the crowd suddenly spoke arcane words of power and traced sigils into the air with one hand. Grigori was hit by a dispel magic, which only served to remove his eagle’s splendor. “They reveal themselves!” shouted Grigori, appearing unfazed, as he pointed at the butcher/wizard. “The sorcerer, the deceiver, Mestinous is there! See how he cloaks his form to look like one of you! See-” But he was cut short as Breen leaped from hiding, manacles in hand. Satampra and Simon followed. Grigori began to run away.

“And here are the rest of the thugs!” he yelled as he fled. “You see how they try to silence me! They know I speak the truth-” Satampra came up behind Grigori and tried to slip the forged documents into his clothing, but the fat man spun away from him with surprising deftness. “They-” And then Simon prayed for Grigori’s person to be held in place. And so it was – the bard failed his Will save and was paralyzed by a hold person. They got the manacles on him and quickly hauled him away. When the crowd protested, Mestinous detonated a fireball right over their heads. The assembled townsfolk fled in terror.

This was rather disappointing to me. I had painstakingly rebuilt Grigori with the Court Bard archetype and a careful selection of skills, feats, and spells that would have made him more than a match for my players, should they have chosen to engage him. But then I flubbed that crucial save. C’est la vie, I suppose.

Room 101

After some talk of throwing Grigori in the “puma pit” (the Stag Lord’s owlbear cage, which now held the Mad Hermit’s pet cat), they decided to toss him down in the fort’s basement. They let him stew for a bit, and then went down to confront him. They wanted to know who he was working for. “My lords, I represent the common man, so often trod upon by-” They cut him off. Why was he doing this?

After some threats, Grigori finally admitted that he was hired to come to Caerelia and stir up trouble, but he claimed to not know by whom. Mestinous tried bargaining with him, and the bard’s terms were pretty clear: in exchange for 5,000 gp, his possessions, and a guarantee of his freedom, he would tell them everything he knew about his employers. But they felt that they couldn’t trust him to tell the truth. As the situation increasingly grim, Grigori gave ground on everything but his freedom: let me go, he said, and I will tell you all that I know. But they still felt like he could not be trusted to tell them the truth.

Finally, the desperate bard tried to enchant Boliden the barbarian, whose player was not present but was brought along anyway for his intimidation value. I rolled his Will save, and rolled a 20. Where was that 20 when I was rolling for my NPC, you cruel dice gods!!! Boliden turned to Mestinous and said, “I really want to hurt you right now. I think I should leave.” The group breathed a sigh of relief at their luck and gagged Grigori before he could try something else.

It seemed that the bard’s fate was sealed. He indicated to them that if they were going to kill him, to get it over with; he wasn’t going to give them anything. So Mestinous resorted to torture. At this point Satampra also left, saying, “This is Spymaster stuff. I don’t want to know about it.” They cut off a finger, and then another, and after Grigori stopped screaming, he told them what little he knew: a man in Fort Drelev, to the west, had hired him. He told them the man’s name. Satisfied, they re-gagged him, and Simon healed his maimed hand. His execution was planned for the morrow.

As they left Grigori behind, Mestinous noticed what looked like a new excavation in a dark corner of the basement. That’s odd, he thought. But it could wait to be investigated until after the execution…

The End of Grigori

The sun rose on another chilly winter day and shined upon a work crew that was hastily erecting a stage in the town square. Once the stage was complete, Caerelia’s executioner placed the chopping block just so and checked the sharpness of his axe. Finally, a gagged and bound Grigori (wearing gloves to conceal his missing digits) was marched out of the fort, down the hill, and over to the stage. “Emperor” Satampra produced the forged documents, proclaimed to the crowd that Grigori had confessed to being an agent of Caerelia’s enemies, and pronounced his sentence: death by beheading.

While plenty of people in the crowd were there just to enjoy a good execution, there were many present who were unhappy with the proceedings. The Greenbelt lies between the River Kingdoms, which have a strong tradition of free speech, and Brevoy, which has a healthy respect for laws and trials. Those who have settled the land claimed by Caerelia hail from both cultures. To jail and kill a man for speaking his mind, and without any way for him to defend himself, offended a portion of both camps.

As the crowd started to get a little insubordinate, Mestinous considered using another fireball for crowd control, but the others nixed that idea. They ignored the protests as best they could, beheaded Grigori, and retreated to their castle. But Grigori’s hasty arrest and execution breathed new life into his accusations, which now spread like wildfire throughout the kingdom. Those from the Riverlands were unhappy that someone had been killed for merely talking. Folks from Brevoy were concerned that they were ruled by tyrants who would lie, steal, and kill anyone that offended them. Rumors also began to circulate of the witness that Grigori had planned to produce: it was said that the man had gone into hiding after what happened to the bard, but that he had indeed seen Satampra and the others feed his mates to a monster of the forest.

Unrest went up by another 4 points, to a total of 6! While protests raged in the town and people openly spoke of overthrowing the government, the council huddled in their broken-down castle. The NPC council members were furious for being cut out of the decision-making process, and most were offended at the PC’s brutish actions.

In Simon Wellread’s room sat the basket that contained Grigori’s head. They had saved it so that the cleric could interrogate its spirit, although he had not asked it any questions as of yet. But now, he sat alone in his chamber and stared at the grisly trophy. Disturbing thoughts tugged at his conscience. He sat down with the basket in front of him and prayed for the power to speak with dead. When the head stirred and groaned, Simon nodded to himself, took a deep breath, and asked his first question.

“Was there truly a witness to murders committed by Caerelia’s rulers?”

Caerelia after month 17 (revised):

Size: 15; Cities: 3; Control DC: 38

Economy: +37; Loyalty: +28; Stability: +36

Unrest: 6; Treasury: 27 BP; Consumption: 3 BP/turn; Income: +7 BPs/turn

Next: things fall apart!

  1. Pinkius permalink

    This is what happens when murder hobos can’t hide their true nature!
    My cavalier was MUCH better at pretending to be human

    • When you put it that way, it makes me think that Grigori is almost like a murder-hobo trap. If you whack him without any sort of due process, you’re gonna get hit by at least +6 unrest.

      The sad thing it, there still isn’t much chance that the kingdom could fail a Economy or Stability check.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Still, as the rulers of a kingdom, the PCs are supposed to not be murder hobos, or at least pretending better than their opposition. ESPECIALLY if they chose a LG kingdom and not a CN or CE one.

      • Yeah, of course. And the kingdom’s alignment is actually NG, which they chose (surprisingly, to me, since they were all CG/CN/TN at the time) in order to maximize their starting investment deals. I was thinking that that could be a contributing a factor in the unrest; the government is saying, “Hey, we’re Neutral Good,” and their actions are telling a different story. The dissonance is likely to anger at least some of the people.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Granted, NG can still rack up an impressive body count.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 20, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  2. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Jhod’s Story | Daddy DM
  3. Kingmaker: Intermission #1, Session 9, Part 2 | Daddy DM

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