Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

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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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by ManWithDoor » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:31 am

Life in Oppara isn't difficult to handle, once you've learned the rules: if a Senator tells you that what you want to do is illegal, talk to a different one; if the district tax you pay is too high, move to the next house over; if you require a diplomat to get the upper hand in negotiations, hire your rival's out from under her; if you need an honorable Noble, promote the nearest farmer; if you make a mistake, act like it never happened until people feel awkward and follow suit; if you don't like your past, pay a Historian to write a new one; if your office needs more funding, buy a weapon and declare yourself a military branch; and if you need to keep something hidden forever, claim it's urgent and hand it to a government official.
- Baronet Solmon Menander, Taldan Bureaucrat



Oppara is Taldor's thriving capital - a shining monument to the grandeur and majesty once common to the entire Taldan empire. Seated on the black cliffs of the River Porthmos in Opparos Prefecture, Oppara bears all the gravitas and extravagance that 6,000 years of history have conferred upon it. The roofs and domes of Oppara were once plated with gold, earning it the nickname "the Gilded City," and though past rulers stripped the gold away long ago to pay for the empire's follies, the wealth and decadance of Taldor's capital keep the spirit of that name alive.

As the economic and political hub of Taldor, Oppara is the beating heart of the empire and the center of Taldan culture. Twin harbors provide goods to the city's thriving marketplaces and restaurants, and they're often so crammed with ships that the river cannot be seen. Public fountains and marble statues can be found at many major crossroads and plazas. Columned villas and grandiose temples from every age of Taldor's history line the streets, and even the humbler merchant districts are holdovers from an unparalleled age of glory. Most of Oppara's buildings are made of carved stone, and the roads are paved with either intricate mosaics or well-fitted cobblestones. Much of the city's advanced public works have stood the test of time, including its labyrinthine sewer system and the network of stone gutters that keep the streets clear of summer rain. The Grand Bridge of the Empire, emerging from the southeastern shore of the city's heart to cross the massive Porthmos, remains one of the most ambitious and impressive engineering marvels in the Inner Sea. Two magically animated lion sculptures stand sentinel atop Oppara's main gate, offering a glimpse into the greatness that current lies dormant within the empire. At night, the city is lit with tens of thousands of lanterns, causing it to shine like a beacon in the darkness.

Oppara's current mix of glory and degradation stems from its past, as the city's triumphs and failures over thousands of years have left indelible marks that shape its present-day society. An excessive, even blind pride in one's heritage is a cornerstone of Taldan identity, and the empire's slow degradation has only exacerbated the issue as nobles and commoners alike make desperate attempts to cling to their glorified, self-aggrandizing versions of the nation's history and its role in shaping civilizations across the continent. Though viewed as pompous folly by those from neighboring countries, this extreme national pride grants Taldor remarkable stability, with loyalty and patriotism bridging many of the gaps caused by the nation's extreme stratification of power and wealth. Yet this pride can also prove the bane of Taldor, and by extension its capital, as nobles convince themselves they rule over an empire at the height of its power and refuse to update the country's archaic social structures. Living in Oppara - an economic, military, and political powerhouse - adds fuel to these delusions, as the privileged few allow the heights of the city's decadence to mask the depths of its decline.
Welcome to the War for the Crown Campaign! Don't post just yet, this is simply the first flavor post.
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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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by ManWithDoor » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:53 am

Every year, the empire of Taldor celebrates the Grand Day of Exaltation. On this prestigious day, the Grand Prince is empowered to elevate a commoner to the ranks of the Nobility. The event itself is the embodiment of formality, with the elevated commoner selected months or years in advance. What makes the day truly special is that the preceding week is a holiday throughout the empire. Nobles, Senators, and hopeful petitioners fill the capital city of Oppara for galas, performance, and parades. This flood of visitors swells Oppara to almost double its size, making it larger than any other city in the Inner Sea region save Absalom, and many view the lead-up to the Grand Day of Exaltation as harking back to the glory days of the empire. To the Nobility, the week before the Grand Day of Exaltation is a time to conduct important business deals, issue noble proclamations, and hold private parties. With so many prominent politicians arriving from across the empire, the Taldan Senate uses Exaltation Week to vote on matters of nationwide importance.

This year's Grand Day of Exaltation may be poised to mark a historic shift in the governance of the empire. Princess Eutropia, daughter of Grand Prince Stavian III, is rumored to have forged a powerful coalition of noble bastard children, reformers, and - perhaps, most importantly - Senators to vote down the ancient law of agnatic primogeniture. The law states that royal power can pass only to a male heir - a succession that cannot be enacted due to Eutropia's status as the current Grand Prince's sole remaining child. Rumors have circulated about the princess's quest to strike down the law for years, and the nation remains divided on the vote, with several nobles viewing it as a shameless power grab by Princess Eutropia. Others see Eutropia as a stabilizing force that could unify the empire and usher in a new golden age for Taldor. Many see her as a crusader for the poor and for the basic rights of every Taldan citizen. As her work repeatedly ran up against the old-fashioned values of Taldor, Eutropia became a crusader for women's rights as well. How much of this is fact or fiction, selfless service or power-mongering greed, is not yet clear.

The potential end of the millenia-standing law of succession is the talk of the town. Streets and taverns are abuzz with conversations; some wish to see the law thrown down to pave a way for Princess Eutropia to ascend to the throne, while hardliners (especially elder Nobles) believe the vote to be another wound in the great history of the empire, allowing not only the rabble-rousing Eutropia to inherit family power, but every ill-deserving woman. Regardless of the outcome, both sides of the debate agree that life will go on, and despite the serious ramifications of agnatic primogeniture's potential end, the streets of Oppara hold no signs of unrest during the jubilant celebrations of the Grand Day of Exaltation.
Aaaaaaand 2nd Flavor Post. Don't worry, the number 3 will be the charm, and then everyone is open to post.
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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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by ManWithDoor » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:18 am

Besides the opportunity to enjoy the jubilations constantly erupting around the city, others have a greater purpose to their actions. Many are minor nobles looking to make their own impact in Taldor's social scene, similarly estranged members of noble families looking for vengeance, relative unknowns associated with various reformation campaigns, or simply dupes used by those in the know as proxies for their causes. Five individuals in particular are in the capital on important business.

In additional to whatever personal reasons they have for being in Oppara, each of these people have been covertly contacted by Lady Martella Lotheed. They have been offered a job that they have accepted for whatever personal reason. Besides simply money, the communiques have promised access to the Senate building itself during the climax of the Exaltation Gala. Movers and shakers from all areas of the nation will be there, and premium access like that is beyond price.

Life in Taldor is about to change.
Keeping with my promise, the Campaign is now open to the actual Players (rather than me enjoying the sight of my own ... text?). The official meeting with Lady Martella is at the end of the week. I'd love to hear how or when you arrive in town, what you do with your time. Perhaps you know another PC and meet up. Maybe you look into a person or group. Or you can definitely enjoy yourself at the various feasts and parties going on everywhere you look.
- If you're doing some sort of Info Gathering, I'll do appropriate rolls and let you know what you discover from the barflies and rumormongers around town.
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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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by JohnnyWeird » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:52 pm

Mrs. Qrembik's grandfather had purchased the Canal Row townhouse of a bankrupt count as a residence, but wasted the rest of his assets funding an expedition to Garund - even at their most successful, Pathfinders were loss-leaders. To cover debts, her father had sectioned the house off into boarding rooms. Now she herself was widowed and miserly, but kept the house clean and meals edible.

Crichton could have done worse for a place in the city.

He'd been in the city for two weeks when the Exaltation festivities began. In that time he'd observed, seen which nobles ran their servants ragged with preparation and who skimped on holiday wages. He'd asked around, seeking a position with a good family as well as a distinguished one.

He'd heard rumors of a Vernisant in the city; the infamous black sheep. He smiled at memories of an exploits at a garden party some years ago. But reminiscence wouldn't pay Mrs. Qrembik, and the purse the Earl had given him was becoming distressingly light.

When the offer came, Crichton was surprised. A lady rarely has call for a valet, bodice-ripping novels aside. The questions he'd been asking for weeks about who might be good to work for began to include the Lotheed family and the extremely generous Lady Martella. A trip to the College of Heralds could also yield information about her position, if not her motive.

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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by GuyWithSword » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:57 am

Aurelia Demetrias // HP: Looks healthy Image Aurelia Demetrias had already been in Oppara for a month, making splashes at minor social gatherings, before she was discreetly contacted by one Lady Martella. The letters to her were written with careful and graceful calligraphy, and scented with just a hint of rose. While there were no official seals of any noble house affixed to the letters, Aurelia could tell that someone of importance and of at least moderate social standing was contacting her.

Either that, or someone pretending to be important. Just who is this Lady Martella anyways? I wonder if she knows about my connections to certain people. The money aside, the chance to be able to mingle within the Senate building during the Exaltation Gala is a once in a decade opportunity. I might finally find a patron, and be in a position of influence to help my hardworking, idealistic friends.

The young woman decided to spend her time constructively...such as by attending the jubilations and parties! No, it's not all fun and games (although there is that as well). She spends her time at those gatherings favored by minor nobles trying to find out more about Lady Martella. Aurelia also tries to find out who will likely be at the Gala itself...who will Aurelia be mingling with? Secondly, after finding which nobles will be at the Gala, she goes to various gambling dens and brothels and tries to find dirt, rumors, interests, and vices on as many nobles as she can, and she will use magic if she feels it beneficial on her information gathering. Any potential patron will be more impressed if she can come to the table with proof of her skills already. Lastly, she checks up on her network of...friends...to make sure that no one has been compromised.
Last edited by GuyWithSword on Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by Zorbeltuss » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:42 pm

Best week of the year in Mercutio's opinion, and he wouldn't sleep much throughout. It was all about the party, enjoying the festivities and every single pleasure on offer. He does not care overly much for the political undertones, oh, sure, the Princess probably had the right of it, but no topic of debate is as boring as politics. Maybe it would be fun to scheme and plot, but for some reason nobody cared to bring him into that world. His estrangement from his family and general reputation seemed as likely a cause as any for that.

The invitation was thus highly intriguing, of course he would accept.

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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by Vardaen » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:19 pm

Hundreds if not thousands of people arrive in Oppara every day leading up to the grand Gala. Theodrix is just another face in the crowd. Arriving three days before the grand festival kicks off he sets foot on the docks and inhales deeply the smell of salt sea air mixed with the chaos of the city. One corner of his mouth curls up in half a smile. Behind him sailors and passengers of The Terror start to filter past down the gangplank and into the wharf.

One man bumps into him and tips his hat, "Good luck Gregor, hope you find you uncle."

Theodrix smiles, responding to the false name, "Thank you, I'm sure I will. Good luck to you too, don't get too drunk."

The man laughs loudly, "No such thing!" and then he's gone into crowd on the main wharf.

Adjusting his tunic Theodrix strides into the city, one hand pats something heavy in one pocket, the other double checks his other pocket for a letter of introduction. On his back is a heavy pack wrapped up with all sorts of things. He makes his way through the guards on the dock, who are only doing a cursory check for customs and for any obvious malfeasance.

His first order of business is a stop for some decent food, something cold to drink besides rum, and then a trip to this Lotheed estate mentioned in his letter.
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"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." - Gandalf
J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by ManWithDoor » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:25 am

All of the newcomers to the City are far more than they appear. Mercutio, despite his apathy to all the political excitement, blends well with the populace. He is attractive, well-spoken, and an excellent conversationalist. For some reason, people just open up to him, sharing their concerns and little secrets over drinks. One particular barfly scoots really close, and speaks in a conspiratorial whisper. "Hey, I shouldn't be telling you this, but my uncle is in the Lion Blades." He nods his head with a smile, assuming he is impressed. "Those damn Qadirans already killed her older brother, and now they're coming in secret to kidnap Princess Eutropia for ransom. But my uncle'll stop them, you'll see. He's worth a hundred of their best men!" He finishes his beer, blinks slowly, then falls out of his chair. He's snoring before he even hits the floor.

The others only get rumors sideways, since they are interested in more daring prey - their soon-to-be-Patron, Lady Martella Lotheed. After wading through complaints about Princess Eutropia's terrible habit of bringing her hunting dog to formal events, where it drooled all over the table dressings, and additional sideways whispers that a betrothal may be announced between the Princess and the High Strategos, finally people are found who know something about your Benefactor.

Aurelia finds a down on his luck courtier drinking off his woes at an inn near the Senate building. He backed the wrong man in a political power play, and now no one will talk to him. It's likely that he's being melodramatic, and he'll be involved in seven more plots before the month is out. But for now, he's tipsy and pliable. When the Lady is brought up, he perks up and smiles. "Oh, her! Yes, she is back in town from Absalom. I wonder if she’s performing for the Exaltation Gala?" After some prodding, it is discovered that the Lady is well known for her inventive take on music and performance. She is some sort of mechanist or tinkerer, and is innovating improvements to the lute and the harp. She also creates little mechanical trinkets that wind up and do a task - a puppy figurine that does backflips, for example.

The more important background information is found by all the skilled individuals looking for it. Martella was educated at the Sinora Academia, Taldor's most exclusive girls' school. Even with noble connections, she would need to be exceedingly gifted to even gain admittance. For those in the know, she is also the black sheep in the Lotheed family. They have consistently produced the best arcane talent of any known noble bloodline. Perhaps because she was the result of an extramarital dalliance with a Qadiran diplomat, or perhaps the fates were unkind, but she does not have a drop of magical talent in her. She has been practically thrown out of the House as unfit, although she has succeeded regardless of such rejection. Clearly a woman of talent and will.
There is a new Rumors and Secrets tab in OOC to keep the various rumormonger tidbits collected. There's also going to be a separate Who's Who as you learn more about the Important people, for easy remembrance as well.

This is what you've uncovered with a day or two of work. Sure you heard a bunch of other crap, but these feel like the wheat separated from the chaff - actual information rather than rumor. Well, some of it could still be false, but it's your best bet so far. I'll allow one or two more Cinematic posts related to Information Gathering, and then on to the Meeting and the Gala. Let me know what / who you're interested in further. I assume from your Posts it's likely to be finding out who is going to the Gala itself, but the field is open to your creativity!

Crichton - you rolled well on your Gather Info check regarding Zorbeltuss' character. I don't want to reveal anything the Player doesn't want known yet, so I leave it to him to share a tantalizing tidbit about himself that he'd like to reveal at this time.
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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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by Vardaen » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:14 pm

With the meeting with Lady Lotheed later today Theodrix has decided to do some further digging, but not about his patron to be. That he will learn from her face to face. Instead, going to the market place he starts nosing around about other nobles present. Ones with a sour reputation, those that don't pay well, or don't tip, those who treat their servants more like slaves. In particular he's seeking information on a man named Narsius , but without letting on about it to just anyone. He focuses on the lower classes, those more likely to have been slighted by the man. "Is he in town? Where is he staying? Is he attending the Gala?" These are things Theodrix needs to know.
Gather Info, use Bluff to avoid any suspicion, to hide me real intentions, and by all means never share my actual name or purpose in town.Perhaps a little Disguise as well so its harder to describe me to anyone asking about who was asking around
"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." - Gandalf
J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Book 1: Crownfall, Act 1: All The King's Men

Post by JohnnyWeird » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:45 pm

An inventor and the left-hand daughter of a house of loyalist wizards. Crichton clucked his tongue as he spooned some shave ice flavored with oranges. Father would not have approved of the woman, or of him working for her.

But it was a different age. A different Taldor. Father was three years in the ground, and would no more have imagined his son going to the Exaltation Gala than to the Moon.

The outfit for the Gala had been provided. A deft hand with a needle, Crichton was busy almost until the moment he left doing final adjustments. Bespoke was all well and good, but some things - discreet pockets, for example - required a personal touch.

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