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Kingmaker: Intermission #1, Session 9, Part 1

April 24, 2016

cold rider!The rulers returned home from their secret trip to assassinate Lord Ivo Tesarik to a bitterly cold harvest season. Iofur the druid secured a home for his parents and did what he could to help them adjust to a life of freedom – and, for his mother, life as a gnome.

Affairs of the Heart

Meanwhile, Satampra the swashbuckler was faced with mounting pressure from the council that he marry and produce an heir. Baron Maegar Varn had offered the hand of his daughter, the Lady Sojana Varn, and by all accounts she would make a fine Empress. But the Emperor had his heart set on the Swordlord Jamandi Aldori. He had been kinda-sorta courting her for a few years now, but now he decided was the time to finally ask her. After spending a romantic day together, Satampra formally proposed. Jamandi declined.

He had many admirable qualities, she explained, and she greatly enjoyed their time together. But she had no desire to wear a crown. She was content to manage her current estate and to teach the art of dueling, and had no real ambition to trade her current situation for a higher station in life. The responsibilities, the pressure, the attention, the danger – she did not want any of it. And so she had to reluctantly refuse his offer. The Emperor fell into a bit of a funk after that.

On the winter solstice, adolescent ice giants (i.e. frost giants with the young template) wandered into the Kamelands from the First World and began raiding. The attack provided a welcome distraction for Satampra as he and the others were called into action to defend their territory. The band was swiftly defeated and the faerie ring that they came from was located and destroyed. This was one of the events that I had planned for the 5 year intermission between books 2 & 3, although it had changed a lot since its initial conception (which was basically, “since everyone is a Game of Thrones fan, how do I fit cold riders into Kingmaker?”). Eventually it morphed to using frost giants in order to foreshadow one of the BBEG’s lieutenants in book 6, and then in the interests of not spending many months playing through those 5 years, I resolved to narrate the event but not play it out: “young ice giants from the First World attack Caerelia; you defeat them.”

After beating back the raiders, a re-invigorated Satampra approached Jamandi again. What if she married him, bore his children, and so on, but without any of the responsibilities of being a leader? Jamandi doubted that was even possible, but from Satampra’s point of view, they could rewrite the rules of rulership if they wanted to. After all, he had once been a vagabond swordsman, and through his own will he was now an Emperor (albeit mostly in his own mind, as Caerelia was more of a barony than an empire). Such an arrangement should be easy to make! But the Swordlord was skeptical. Would it be so simple to shuck centuries of culture and tradition? What would happen to her if Satampra died before producing an heir, or before an heir came of age? He lived a dangerous life, and she did not wish to get sucked into a struggle for the throne should he pass. Or be targeted by Caerelia’s enemies, or those seeking the throne for themselves . In the end, I decided she was reluctant but persuadable and let Satampra make an easy Diplomacy check (DC 15) to convince her. He rolled a 2, when he needed a 4 to succeed. Jamandi turned him down once again.

Now bereft of the excuse that he would one day wed Jamandi, Satampra could no longer put off his duty. He agreed to marry Sojana Varn, and after a brief courtship (and after a Cathedral was built in Stagfell for the occasion), the two were joined together in matrimony by Jhod Kavken.

Affairs of State

During this time, news and rumors coming from Brevoy provided a lesson in unintended consequences. Lord Ivo Tesarik had been an ally of Brevoy’s Regent, Noleski Surtova, and had used his nightmarish abilities to crush enemies both personal and political. In the wake of Ivo’s sudden death, House Surtova’s position was weakened and its enemies (several of whom were allies of Caerelia) were emboldened. This didn’t have a huge effect on Caerelia right away, but the rising tensions set the stage for later developments.

But in the meantime, Caerelia was looking to strengthen its bond with its original sponsor. A Noble Villa was built in Restov to house Caerelia’s ambassador there, and Grand Diplomat Fodorov was sent to negotiate a diplomatic Treaty. As an aside, the Diplomatic Edict rules are crazy complicated. Just figuring out the DC of the Diplomacy checks is insane, although I have the Kingdom Manager to take care of that for me. But to determine who has the advantage in the negotiations, the rules basically expect you to have both negotiators completely statted out so that you can make all of these opposed skill checks. I didn’t have time for that, so I assumed that Restov’s negotiator was generally comparable to Fodorov, with bonuses a little higher here and a little lower there. As it turned out, I rolled better than the players, and Restov won the advantage, and kept it. Caerelia ended up with a +4 boost to their Economy. Not bad, considering that it didn’t cost them anything.

Over to the east, the battle against the Nomen centaurs resumed as the weather warmed, and Caerelia kept their promise to Varnhold to provide cavalry for the war effort.

An Affair?

That summer, Mestinous the elven wizard’s wife Tamara discovered that she was pregnant! “Really? Whose is it? It can’t be mine!” declared Mestinous, jokingly. A few months later, Empress Sojana learned that she, too, was with child. The news was met with joyous celebrations across the kingdom.

The winter of 4715 was, like the one before, a terribly frigid one. Blankets of snow covered the land, and the people hid inside their homes, huddled together around their stoves. Again on the winter solstice, several ice giants stepped through a faerie ring to raid Caerelia, although this time the frosty youths were accompanied by a full-grown giant. I whizzed past the actual encounter once more: “the ice giants return, and you defeat them again after a hard-fought battle.” But this time, the players didn’t want to destroy the faerie ring. They wanted to go through it! “A trip into the First World seems like it could be fun,” noted Mestinous. “And maybe they’ll have treasure!” exclaimed a hopeful Satampra. And so the group made ready for another adventure into the faerie realm.

Next: foray into the First World!

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7 Comments
  1. Mei Yu Lian permalink

    Right. I forgot your Varn is old enough to have a daughter of marriagable age.
    I see him as a bit younger, but given how little we actually know about him, no biggie 🙂

    • I actually got the idea for Varn having a daughter… somewhere, probably on the Paizo boards. As you say, we don’t know much, and I can see how one might think him younger as the 7th son looking to make his fortune and all that. And as it happens, until I recently went back and re-read book 3, I was thinking he was a Swordlord when he’s actually from northern Brevoy (and thus, presumably positioned against Restov and the anti-Surtova faction in a civil war).

      • Mei Yu Lian permalink

        Really? Could you give me a page for that? I was sure he was mentioned to be a junior swordlord? (SL, box, p. 13)

      • Ah, well that explains why I thought he was a Swordlord. 🙂 VV, page 9, under Varnhold Lore, identifies him as the 3rd son of Androth Varn, an Issian (i.e. northern Brevic) baron.

      • And I think I like the Issian background better, as it mixes up the loyalties of the colonies a little more and doesn’t make it a monolithic “us vs. them” in a civil war scenario.

      • Mei Yu Lian permalink

        Very interesting. I agree that it makes things more interesting, though I’m a little unsure why the Swordlords would choose him for the domain closest to them then.
        Oh well, Now I know more 🙂

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