Book 2, Act I: Songbird

As the political scene in Taldor explodes into chaos, heroes take on the mantle of agents, advocates, and saboteurs working for Princess Eutropia to help secure her claim to the Imperial throne and prevent the Empire from collapsing in on itself in civil war. Will they grow from relative nobodies to powerful politicians and spymasters in the deadliest political arena in the Inner Sea?

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Bohemond
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by Bohemond » Wed Nov 22, 2023 8:24 pm

Bala opts to press the ground he's gained with the nobles. His first order of business is to follow up on his conversation with Dame Crabbe. Having seen her dance, he asks if she's ever traveled beyond Taldor. The Vudrani then subtly guides the conversation towards his homeland, which has had a long history with Qadira. He ever so casually happens to discuss his family, alchemists by profession, and how such an occupation requires them to be heavily involved as successful merchants in order to procure rare and exotic ingredients. He also expresses his hope that Sepsinia will allow him the pleasure of a dance once the dance formally beings.
Try to influence Dame Crabbe to improve her disposition. Would a Perform (Dance) roll be useful in the initial conversation?
The monk also takes time to speak with Baron Okerra, continuing the conversation about religion and the role of authority as a force for good. He discusses the similarities and difference between Matravash and Irori, likely the Vudran god Taldorans are most familiar with. He also discusses the nature of order as not a relationship of command, but one of reciprocal duty.
Try to influence Baron Okerra.

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ManWithDoor
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by ManWithDoor » Fri Nov 24, 2023 5:34 am

The monk manages to repeatedly defy the expectations of others. He sweettalks Dame Parthena, entertaining her with tales of his far-off homeland, additionally spicing it up with interesting alchemical tidbits. Then he sweeps Sepsinia off her feet. She still looks pale and depressed, but Bala's skill makes up an lack on her part.
Bala vs Dame Crabbe Influence Check (Perform - dance): 22, Critical Success.
--- Discovered a new Influence Skill that works for Parthena: Perform (any)
--- 2 Influence Successes. 3/5 of the way from Friendly to Helpful.
The lawful monk gets along swimmingly with the Baron, their mutually lawful natures meshing well. He knows his own religious pantheon well enough, but is no scholar and so quite enjoys learning about this Matravash that sees order and hierarchy the same way he does. He certainly enjoys the privileges of nobility, not living off of gruel and hard bread or anything. But he does not live exorbitantly, using his resources to protect and benefit his people.
Bala vs Baron Okerra Influence Check (Diplomacy): 23, Success.
--- 1 Influence Success. 5/unknown of the way from Friendly to Helpful. But very close!
- Count Bartelby Lotheed = Indifferent. 4/(unknown) Influence Successes to move to Friendly.
- Baron Nicolaus Okerra = Friendly. 5/(unknown) Influence Successes to move to Helpful. But close!
- Dame Parthena Crabbe (and her daughter, Sepsinia) = Friendly. 3/5 (number needed known) Influence Successes to move to Helpful.
- Her Grace Baroness Legate Adella Voinum = Unfriendly. 6/(unknown) Influence Successes to move to Indifferent. But close!
- Honorary Tribune Onora Piscum = Friendly. 0/4 (number needed known) Influence Successes to move to Helpful.
- Lady Lucretzia Marthane = Unfriendly. 2/(unknown) Influence Successes to move to Indifferent.
The Dance of the Phalanx
Midway through the evening, Count Lotheed announces that the ballroom has been invaded, and all guests must rush to its defense - the classic opening to a popular dance called the Dance of the Phalanx. Equal parts strategy game and formal waltz, the dance is performed on a gridded floor, and partners are allowed to select the next dance steps from a predefined list related to the music played. Each pair of dancer cannot move into a square occupied by other dancers, and the object of the game is to force every other pair of dancers off the grid, leaving your "phalanx" in control of the "battlefield".

Despite the command to rush to the dance floor, a minority of people gently beg off with a variety of excuses from unfamiliarity to weak ankles.
We're at the last section of the Party! After this it's heading off to Act II and taking charge of your township.

There are 3 Social Rounds left. If you choose to participate in the Dance, that does take up 1 of your Social Rounds (leaving you with 2 to do with as you please). There is a significant monetary prize for winning. Knowledge (Nobility) and Perform (Dance) give significant bonuses if you're trained in either or both.

Looking at the list above, you're close to moving a number of people up an opinion rank (Baron Okerra, Dame Crabbe, Legate Voinum), or you could concentrate on powering up the opinion of Tribune Piscum, as she is the sheriff of your town. Or choose anything else you like!
Rule Number 12: "A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other way, shoot it in the head."

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RorytheRomulan
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by RorytheRomulan » Mon Nov 27, 2023 10:32 am

Emilia joins the dance for participation points while spending her remaining time with Baroness Voinum.

She'll discuss the flavor of attractions of the Jubilee, serving the veteran legate opportunities to indulge in critique. How did the hunt go for her while the Iron Lash was allowed to roamed the forest? How did she like the Count's idea of having a ghoulish servant catwalk before lunch? What are her feelings about the Bartelby himself? She borrows a bit from the rumors to cast the Lotheeds in a poor light, then uses the party's accomplishments to build a case for their guy to inherit Betony, rather than continue to languish.
1. Participate in the dance.
2-3. Influence Voinum and pray she likes trash talking the Count.

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ManWithDoor
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by ManWithDoor » Wed Dec 06, 2023 5:08 am

Emilia enjoys the dance. She is young, strong, dextrous, and charismatic. Many of the nobles on the floor only have one or two of that list, but age also gives the opportunity to learn and practices many types of dance. Emilia is a gifted natural, but she spends time in the saddle, not a lot of time at court functions. It remains to be seen whether or not she stood out from the crowd.

The Dame seems to have hit a nerve, in a good way, with criticizing Count Lotheed. She keeps her voice quiet, not looking to loudly denounce Bartelby in public. She barely manages not to spit on the floor when talking about the ghoulish treatment of the servants and peasants. If he had been an officer under her command in the Legions, she would have dragged him to a court-martial on the spot. By the end of the conversation, some of the ice of her demeanor melts. Emilia is no longer counted among her long list of useless people. She might even be worth getting to know.
Round 3: Dancing (will give the results after everyone declares their actions)
Round 4: Influence vs Legate Voinum: 14, Fail.
Round 5: Influence vs Legate Voinum: 23, Critical Success. 2 Influence Successes.
--- Legate Voinum moved from Unfriendly to Indifferent!!! She's a tough old bird, taking 7 freaking Influence Successes to move her opinion. So moved to Indifferent, with 1/7 of the way up to Friendly. Getting solidly on her good side will be a long-term project you can take on in later Acts.
Mercutio and Bala ...
Rule Number 12: "A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other way, shoot it in the head."

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Bohemond
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by Bohemond » Sun Dec 10, 2023 5:52 pm

Bala, his dancing ability having served him well so far, chooses to partake in the Dance of the Phalanx. Afterwards, he decides to ensure the friendships of both of Lady Crabbe and Baron Okerra, as their support will be no doubt be invaluable for any future steps taken against Lotheed. With the Baron, he will obliquely discuss the plight of the peasants, and the nature of the would-be assassin. The monk will not be so foolish as to condone killing, but discuss if a change in the treatment of the common folk might be more effective than an executioner's axe, as an orderly society requires a means for people to seek redress.
Round 1: Dance
Round 2: Influence Lady Crabbe via Perform
Round 3: Influence Baron Okerra

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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by Zorbeltuss » Mon Dec 11, 2023 8:31 pm

Mercutio does quite enjoy dancing, and calling attention to himself, and competitions, though this one might not be of a sort of which he is overly familiar. But challenges chosen are good ones. Afterwards he makes more acquaintances with people that seems useful to get to know.
Dance...not skill ranks, but +5 magic item...and charisma...lots of knowledge nobility though....

Round 1: Dance
Round 2, 3. Shotgun diplomacy influence Okerra and Voinum).

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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by ManWithDoor » Fri Dec 15, 2023 10:33 pm

The Dance
Each member of the group pairs off with another person, and the tactical dance begins. After the verse, the judges call out pairs that have failed compared to their fellows. Emilia did her best, but her unfamiliarity with dancing or the intricacies of the nobility did her in. The second verse Mercutio and Bala are neck-and-neck in performance, and both stay in the contest. The third verse Bala's smooth step falters as he fails to anticipate the next proper move. The fourth and final verse pits Mercutio against Dame Crabbe. She is a skilled and trained dancer, easily outshining her fellow nobles despite her middle age.

At the end of the Dance, it is hard to know where Parthena made her mistake. Perhaps she legs were fatigued, perhaps she was distracted ... or perhaps she made a purposeful mistake to allow Mercutio to win, gaining the glory and the prize. All Mercutio knows is that she was looking at him when she made the misstep.
Emilia: +3 Stat bonuses +0 (no relevant skills) = +3 total Dance Bonus
Mercutio: +4 Stat bonuses +2 (relevant skills) = +6 total Dance Bonus
Bala: +4 Stat bonuses +2 (relevant skills) = +6 total Dance Bonus
- Round 1: Emilia drops out
- Round 2: Both Mercutio and Bala tie, staying in the dance
- Round 3: Bala drops out
- Round 4 (final fight between Mercutio and Dame Crabbe): Mercutio wins!
Regardless, the crowd claps and cheers in good-natured congratulations. Count Bartelby personally bestows upon Mercutio a pair of magnificent silver-and-rosewood masks depicting smiling faces. The chatter about the Heir has turned even more positive than before. Given how well he and his companions have been doing at the Jubilee, the attendees are expecting great things from them.
If you decide to later sell these masks, they can be sold for 1250 gp each. If not, you've got a fancy pair of masks. :)
Final Conversations of the Evening
Bala congratulates Dame Crabbe on her showing in the Dance of the Phoenix. His own showing had made him most of the way through the competition, so he was no slouch himself. They have a friendly conversation, and she continues to respond warmly to him.

His constancy with Baron Okerra about his concern about the plight of the peasantry, as well as his support for lawful order and opposition to chaotic factors such as assassins, turns the good Baron fully in approval of your group. He obviously was already positively pre-disposed to you given his previous history at the Senate, even going to far as to send one of his knights to guide and support you. But here at the Jubilee you have all even further impressed him. He responds that he will send generous aid to your town to help improve the territory that has been ignored for so long.
Round 4: Influence Dame Crabbe w/ Perform: 14, Success. 4/5 from Friendly to Helpful.
Round 5: Influence Baron Okerra w/ Diplomacy: 21, Success. 6 total Influence Successes, MOVED TO HELPFUL!
Mercutio was about to jump in with Okerra as well, but he sees that Bala has that conversation well in hand. Smoothly pivoting away, he finds that Parthena Crabbe has likewise smoothly placed herself in his path. She personally congratulates him on his success, and extends an invitation Mercutio and his retainers to visit her estate for tea. She promises a housewarming gift to brighten up his estate as well.

Legate Voinum is tired of the Jubilee, and is looking forward to getting away from the frivolities and back to her many responsibilities. She does not treat Mercutio disrespectfully, but she is indifferent to further conversations and so moves on after meeting the bare minimum number of words to avoid offense.
Round 4: Bala managed to max out Okerra at Helpful, so don't want you to waste the action. So just redirecting it to Dame Crabbe since you had the dance-off finals.
- Influence Dame Crabbe w/ Perform: 18, Success. 5 total Influence Successes, MOVED TO HELPFUL!
Round 5: Influence Voinum w/ Diplomacy: 21, Failure. No influence change.
Rule Number 12: "A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other way, shoot it in the head."

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ManWithDoor
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by ManWithDoor » Fri Dec 15, 2023 10:39 pm

The Jubilee's Conclusion
The evening's entertainment is concluded, and everyone is politely led back to their rooms while the servants begin the long process of cleaning up after all the festivities. The Dance was the final big event of the evening, and the conversations afterwards were the wind-down. There is no final speech or big goodbye to finish off the Jubilee, it has just gotten late and everyone has gotten their fill of food and talk.

Breakfast the next morning - soft-boiled eggs, toast, and white wine - is delivered to the guest rooms, and they are expected not to linger. Count Bartelby does not personally send off every group, just select ones that he is on particularly friendly terms.
You're welcome to make any last RP statements and such, and then we will move onward to Act II, where you will take charge of your Estate and begin building your power base to eventually challenge Bartelby. And we'll also have Astraea back and active! :)
Rule Number 12: "A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other way, shoot it in the head."

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RorytheRomulan
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by RorytheRomulan » Mon Dec 18, 2023 3:40 pm

Emilia had fun, but is still red over being thrashed by Okerra in the joust. Clearly she has been too long resting on her laurels. She makes sure to properly congratulate her liege before he departs, and promises that they will meet again in the lists.

"What of you, Bala? You have made a grand impression on the landed folk of Meratt. Dark deeds and fell beasts aside, how was the Jubilee?"
Oookay. Moving npcs to Helpful is looking a lot more appealing now than before. Now I really want the retired legate on side. She might be able to pull strings to boost our power base for our confrontation with the Count, though I'm not sure how.

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Bohemond
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Re: Book 2, Act I: Songbird

Post by Bohemond » Tue Dec 19, 2023 6:37 pm

"Quite interesting. I was pleasantly surprised by the dances. I must admit some preconceived expectation that there would only be slow, deliberative waltzes and the like, so that no one's wardrobe would become a kilter. A delightful subject to be proven wrong."

In a more quiet tone, the Vudrani whispers, "Though we have only recently met, I believe we have a mutual friend whose security and position is of paramount importance to us both."

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