Monday, July 31, 2017

Chapter 4: The Marble Throne

This is a continuation of the King Thadar's Catacombs Campaign (Chapter 3: Lady of the Stars).

Summary: At this point in the campaign you've likely succeeded in preventing Lady Ilka's assassination or failed spectacularly. If you've succeeded then the Eloszor army will march on Városa and catch the Green's between hammer and anvil. And more, if your map of Kerthaz makes it to the Blues, the loss at Városa and Kerthaz will deal the Greens such a blow that they are unlikely to recover.

However, if you've failed then Városa remains besieged and the Eloszor refuse to march into the valley, but there's still a chance. If Kerthaz can be breached quickly, then the Városa army is free to return to the city and break the siege.

For now, we will assume you succeeded because even if you failed, Chapter 4 still provides an interesting alternative...

The Lady's Errand: Lady Ilka is grateful for your role in thwarting the assassin. What comes next, she tells you, is the final demise of the Greens and opposition in the valley. Soon it will be time to set sights northwards. She allows you leave and join the Eloszor either on the march to Városa or to the armies besieging Kerthaz, and assures you, she will honor Lord Gabriel's offer, but she also offers an alternative. Pass beyond Kerthaz to Fenyovar, the furthest northern fief in Vale.

She confides in you that Vàrosa, long a neutral state, risked war for one reason, the powerful Vadas family has nearly consolidated the whole of northern Kelet and the balance of power is shifting. Lady Ilka is a strong ally and friend of the Queen, the matriarch of the Veres family and brother to the lord of Városa. To remain in power the Veres family must be a counter balance to Vadas or risk invasion. Kelet has long been a kingdom only in name. Its five regions are fractured. The Veres family has kept Kelet from slipping into a theocracy under the church but only barely. Vadas is a tyrant but also an extremely religious man. He is also old. If he conquers Kelet and usurps the throne, chaos is likely to follow his death.

The lord of Fenyovar has remained aloof from the conflicts in Vale. His fief is either the first line of defense against an invasion from Vadas's armies or an excellent staging point. Go north and curry favor with this mysterious Lord Miklos.

Lady Ilka presents you a writ offering a defense agreement and acquisition of materials. As an emissary of Ilka, determine Miklos' intentions and send word of any agreement you come to with him.



Setting: Fenyovar is a quiet town nestled in low forested foothills. The streets and buildings are well kept and over them looms a large castle manor. It appears that most the townsfolk are well off or at least even the poorest eat well. This is unusual for Kelet. Perhaps because of this, the denizens of this town are friendly and speak highly of Lord Miklos. It seems Miklos is a benevolent overseer. When you speak with the townsfolk you learn Lord Miklos regulates guilds and the Triad strictly, which serves to combat corruption. Speaking with the townsfolk leads to many fantastic stories about Lord Miklos. Some say he is half-aelfin while others say his family has the ancient blood of the Thegn, a mythical race of men. The stories surrounding him all have a degree of enigma and fantasy. The fact that he rarely leaves the castle and that he has been lord of Fenyovar for as long as anyone can remember lends to the mystery.

Resources: I used this map as a stand in for Fenyovar:
Oravsky Podzámok (here is the artist's page: http://www.francescabaerald.com/maps/)

Magda Zwierzchowska
Miklos: Miklos is an intelligent character with complex motivations, made all the more complicated by his nature. Miklos is a dhampir. He has been lord of Fenyovar for as long as anyone can remember. He rarely shows himself in public, but his realm is prosperous. And though he has the savvy of Machiavelli and occasionally gives in to his primal urges, his ultimate desire is peace and stability. With Bálint Vadas conquering the only remaining lordship in the north his sights will turn southwards to Ártér and the capital. With the rumors of war in southern Vale and the adventurers' arrival, Miklos sees an opportunity, but he must play his hand carefully. Miklos has planted an agent in Bálint Vadas' council. This agent has become Bálint's closest advisor and lover. The Eszes clan is the last northern family to stand against Vadas and also the family of Bálint's wife (she still lives, locked away in Vadavar). All that remains of their holdings now is a small mountain fortress and the daughter of the late Áron Eszes. Miklos had considered offering friendship to the Vadas family (and indeed has already made some small gestures of friendship), but Bálint is too close to the Church of the Triad. Miklos has watched the church tear Kelet apart and hates it.

No. Miklos will usurp Bálint at the peak of his power and use the last member of the Eszes family to cement his claim on the north, but he must act quickly to ensure the conflict in Vale continues and offers no resistance. Ilka's writ complicates things.

Csilla: Csilla is Miklos' edge. When the time comes she will dispose of Vadas and turn control of his army to Miklos. Csilla has spent half a decade with Vadas and gained his utmost confidence and even his affection. They will not turn on him while he is alive, but should he die their loyalty passes to her.
Csilla has proved herself invaluable. In fact, her success has raised Miklos' suspicions. After assuaging his concerns, Csilla prepares to return to Vadas. Csilla is inscrutable. It is one of her many talents. But she will do what is required of her. She recognizes the need for stability in Kelet. She also recognizes that any stability Vadas brings will be short lived. She is also, however, not convinced that Miklos will serve better. She does not know his true nature but knows he is different and suspects it will prevent him from establishing a stable empire. Csilla is shrewd and will do as Miklos wants until an opportunity presents itself. The adventurers may be that opportunity.

Magda Zwierzchowska

Scene 1: The adventurers arrive in Fenyovar. As emissaries of Ilka, the adventurers can ride right up to Fenyovar Castle and request an audience with Miklos. Show them the writ and David, the tall head servant of the castle, will grant them entry. The adventurers will be admitted into a comfortable waiting room with a fireplace, chairs, books, and numerous tapestries depicting the geography of Fenyovar. There is also a large portrait of a pale man with sharp features, jet black hair, and eyes the color of ochre. In a short time, they will be admitted to the main hall. A long blue rug runs its length. There are two guards at the entrance and a pale man with black hair sitting on a strange marble seat. Standing next to him is another man in black and silver livery and a servant holding a long sword much too large for her, but unsheathed. She is very carefully holding the sword so that it does not touch the floor. As the adventurers approach they may notice one other servant scrubbing the stone floor, she appears to be cleaning up blood.

Miklos will probably speak first as he will want to control the conversation. He may draw attention to the servant and mention that a spy of Vadas was captured and he had just finished interrogating him (which is half true; the blood is from a captured Eszes soldier). He will want to establish his stance against Vadas immediately. While the adventurers speak with Miklos and present him with the writ they may notice something strange. Everything Miklos says sounds incredibly believable. The adventurers will have an unnatural impulse to trust him and anything he says rings true (attempting to discern a lie or exaggeration unerringly fails). This is due to the throne that Miklos sits on (it is not a spell so it cannot be countered but characters with Sense Magic will feel something happening and sense his motives normally). Miklos will want time to speak with his advisors and see how he can help. The players are granted room and board in the guest houses in town but not the castle, which is unusual and draws attention to the fact that the castle staff is meager for its size. On further exploration, the players may learn most the guardsmen also have quarters in town, rather than a castle barracks. Upon exiting the castle the adventurers may notice a tall well-built woman in the hall. She very obviously takes notice of the adventurers but does not approach. Observant characters may notice a light distortion near her (she is a hussar with a phantom companion).

Scene 2: In town, rumors swirl around the visiting characters. There's much to learn here and the townsfolk won't be shy about speaking with the adventurers. Rumors of the Vadas army, the war in the south, and the death of Áron Eszes will be common. There are also interesting stories surrounding Miklos and his origins. Exploring further the adventurers may learn that the most prominent organizations are the craft guild and only one priest of the Triad. It's odd there isn't even a representative for each of the three goddesses. Apparently, there are strict rules to prevent corruption and violaters in the past have either left town in a hurry or disappeared.

When summoned to Castle Fenyovar, Miklos again meets the adventurers in the great hall. In addition to the guardsmen, servants, and advisors, the tall woman with the shimmering thing is present. Miklos explains that he would like to discuss how best to aid Ilka and the Blues, stating that he would like to see a united Vale, indeed a united Kelet. He also explains that Vadas presents a problem. If he were to ally with Ilka and the Blues, Vadas is likely to invade Vale and Fenyovar would be the front line. He is unwilling to let that happen and presents a counteroffer: livestock and grain will be sent south, but there will be no open military alliance. However, he also offers this: if Ilka would give them leave, he suggests the adventurers slip through Vadas territory to Felvidék. Felvidék is the last unconquered hold out of the Eszes family and where Aliz Eszes, last of the Eszes family has gathered her supporters. There is also a possible ally near Felvidék that may be willing to fight the Vadas family, the half-men known as catfolk. He assures you catfolk are indeed real and that they were once steadfast allies of the Vadas family, until they were betrayed. He asks that the adventurers sit on this and return with an answer.

Scene 3: Miklos invites the adventurers to a formal dinner. Csilla is also there. The adventurers give their answer. If the answer is no, then the adventurers are free to leave, but they are watched and later ambushed on the road. Miklos will not want them to return alive if there is a possibility that the Blues will arrive in force and foil his plans. If the answer is yes, Csilla lays out the plans, explains that there are scattered Eszes forces and that they are slowly making their way to Felvidék as word of Aliz's survival spreads. She will give them a week of travel (if she can) before the Vadas army moves again. She suggests that the adventurers pass as near to Lake Mél as possible. She will explain the danger of the half-men that live in that place but also suggest seeking out their aid. The catfolk have a long history with the Vadas family and are old enemies.

Inbetween Scenes: While the adventurers are in Fenyovar they will have significant time away from Miklos. There is much to explore here. There is Otto, the priest without a following. And Pel, the collector of Naerodian artifacts. And Hanna, the rare book seller with tomes of genealogy and heraldry.

There are also the ruins around town. As with the rest of Vale, there are Naerodian ruins here. One particular outcrop just peaks through the forest. Hidden in the underbrush is an entrance to a network of tunnels. The tunnels here are a vacant labyrinth. Exploring this area extensively reveals a secret entrance to the dungeon under Fenyovar Castle. Exploring further is a dangerous gambit.

Csilla may search out the adventurers in secret. The ruins around town may be a good place to meet them. Csilla can break the spell on the adventurers if they become charmed by Miklos words, thereby casting doubt on his intentions. She will not go into detail about her allegiances but she may imply there are better leaders in the north than Vadas or Miklos.

Last, if the adventurers wish to explore Miklos' background, they can find that Miklos has been lord of Fenyovar for decades. There is at least one art piece in the castle depicting a man with a striking resemblance to Miklos. The staff claims it is of Miklos' father Mátyás. In truth, Miklos has been lord of Fenyovar for well over a century. Sometime during the Aelf War he became Margrave of Fenyovar. His father was a man named Mátyás and his mother, Olivia was a dhampir, but they were never lords.