Expert Negotions, Attempted Murder

The narration channel (lightly tailored) from a game with our dear @Gnosego in which my character, Gwendolyn “The Fly” of Rownia convinces an uppity knight with a mob, Sir Leszek, that she’s not an evil witch out to ruin the village of Szymbark and is in fact a Green Mage here to kill their monster . . . but uses her spooky Mesmerizing Gaze during their duel of wits.

Quincy, please forgive me for removing the second spaces after all of your periods and messing up some of your prose.

—:—

Gwen lifts her face to meet Sir Leszek’s eyes from below the brim of her grand hat. She holds the gaze placidly for a beat, as the knight stands transfixed by her stare, his will not his own!

Then Gwen lowers her eyes again, as if nothing had happened, and speaks dismissively.

“I think there is hardly more to discuss, sir. Tonight, I will enact the ceremony to free Danuta from her curse, and then the manticore will plague us no more.” She says.

“Nothing more to discuss? She’s just done it to me! I tried to speak, but her eyes, her piercing eyes stopped me!” Sir Leszek shouts.

His squire moves to the front of the confused mob, “Are you okay, sir!? Has she taken your mind!?”

“Enough of this farce! If he can’t win with the truth, he’ll pretend I’m some low witch anyway!” Gwen says.

“Look, people: This is who has stirred you into a such a frenzy! A man who won’t admit when he’s wrong! When he’s lost! When his foolishness has about sentenced a village to death!”

She makes a dismissive gesture toward the knight.

“Leave me to my work! I promise I won’t tarry when I’m done!” She says.

“To think that you had me doubting myself. For a moment, you nearly fooled me. But I was right about you. You are a monster.” Sir Leszek says.

He draws his sword.

“And I won’t let you bring ruin to this village.” He says, speaking directly to Gwen, his voice cold and quiet.

His squire draws his sword as well, and the mob parts and steps away from the scene, abandoning Sir Leszek.

(I won the Duel of Wits with 1/8 BoA to Leszek’s -1/9 BoA—The mob wouldn’t run me out of town and he’d have to admit I wasn’t an evil witch out to ruin Szymbark. He does that later, though.)

The knight stands in the harsh light failure, head bowed, hand tightening and untightening on the hilt of his sword. His squire watches his knight carefully, looking for any signal.

Words of power fill the air and Gwen throws a spell out to Leszek’s sword, which leaps against his breast plate and sticks, blade per bend across his chest.

The squire lunges for the incanting sorceress!

“Krasny! Spear!” Gwen cries out, and faintly hears the sound of Krasny’s boots scurrying away. He doesn’t come back with her spear.

(Never A Moment of Peace is such a good trait.)

She utters the first syllables of another spell, and sparks fill the air between her fingers, but the squire bears down on the sorceress unabated, closing in on her, desperate, focused. Gwen struggles to hold the incantation, nearly tumbling backward as she scrambles away from his sword.

Gwen drops the spell and tries to block the boy’s arm at the elbow, but his sword rises up in a flash to cut across Gwen’s belly, catching on her arming doublet. Then the sword flourishes around to strike down, drawing a red line across her hip, and opening the gambeson.

The squire threatens with the point and tries to compass to the left to expose the sorceress’s flank, but Gwen light steps back in his line, keeping her stance low and arms in.

The squire looks to end this quickly and shoots in with his shoulder, but Gwen twists to the side and lets him stumble past.

Meanwhile, Leszek grabs his sword by both ends and tries to free it from his chest plate. He struggles and struggles, but the force of the binding is too strong! Frustrated, he charges toward the sorceress empty-handed.

(With a sword for a very inconvenient hood ornament.)

Gwen hurries down the hill toward Szymbark town, away from both the squire and the knight. The squire catches himself before tumbling and finds his bearings, while Sir Leszek catches her at the switchback up the hill.

Forced to fight, Gwen turns and tries to resume her stance, but Sir Leszek shoots to the side of her injured leg, exposing her flank as his squire tried before.

“Fuck!” Gwen exclaims, stumbling. “Avast!”

The knight does not go avast. He charges and knocks her off her feet, just as his squire had tried to.

“Someone! Romuald! Help me!” She shouts.

Looking out into the afternoon, she sees the crowd. A snap-shot of uncertain faces, panicked faces, angry faces. From up the hill, she can see Rommy on the other side of the crowd, trying to push his way through.

“Rom—y-you’ll regret this, knight!” Gwen shouts, as the knight falls on her in a grapple, his sword still bound across his breastplate. She locks her arms with Leszek’s, holding him off with all her might, but the knight puts a hand in the crook of her elbow and her arm collapses. He pins it against her chest.

The squire arrives and looks on with assurance as his master reaches his other hand for the dagger on his belt, but as soon as he does, Gwen lifts her uninjured leg and kicks the knight off her. She’s able to scramble away from him a pace. He follows, dagger drawn now, and she continues to crawl away, to the edge of the switchback.

Gwen looks up and sees Sir Leszek lift the dagger in both hands…

(Spent persona for a complication instead of taking a traumatic knife wound.)

… and she rolls off the path, to where the hill slopes steeply. Suddenly she’s in freefall. She hits a rock in the hill, and again, hard, and keeps rolling, through the shrubbery, against a fence that tears away her arming doublet. She hits the fence that bounds mayor Piotr’s estate. Dazed, confused, she can only run! Romuald runs after her a moment later.

-:-

Gwen stops at the edge of Danuta’s abandoned house, panting. She leans against the faded whitewash and wipes spit from her mouth with, what? Her nice shirt is all tattered. She looks down at herself and only sees her scuffed up padded chausses. No aketon.

“Look at me,” she laughs.

And then she becomes aware of the faint spell in the corner of her mind and fucking loses it. She laughs uproariously, cackling, wheezing, it pains her so with the cracked ribs, and she slumps against the wall, unable to stand.

“I’m a fucking idiot.”

She waves her hand.

Somewhere in the mayor’s house a sword clatters to the ground off a breastplate.

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My precious MLA format! :fearful:

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Destroy all double spaces.

Tell us about some of the tests that got you here!

Fight me, Crane! Rawr!

Okay, so we’re playing a Burning THAC0 style, dark fantasy, have-sword-will-travel kind of game. It’s a one-on-one, and our character (Gwen) is a monster-hunting wizard – much Witcher vibes. The situation involves a village being stalked by a manticore – basically a Martikhora out of the MonBu – resulting in a bunch of people coming into town and not being able to leave. So the town is a trap for travelers of all kinds, and tensions are ramping up. There’s also an Mysterious-Undead-Plague™ happening across the setting. It’s a new thing and people don’t really know much about it.

A lot of stuff is connected to events described here, so I’ll try to be both clear and concise.

Starting out, Gwen had a Belief about getting paid for her monster-hunting work in the village, so one of the first things we did was have her go to the mayor of the town to demand payment. I wanted to make sure this scene was sufficiently spicy, so I killed his son. She finds the mayor standing over a cairn they’ve prepared for the funeral. His son led a small group to hunt the beast yesterday and disappeared – manticores, you know?

Funerary customs are pretty strong around here:  
It's quite the done thing to offer a mourner whatever aid you can during the grieving period.
And he has nothing but respect for your order.
And his lord has been demanding stiff taxes to fund his warring.
How much do you demand up front?

We do Duel of Wits and through a solid compromise Gwen gets a loan and the Mayor’s hospitality for the duration of her business here.

Gwen also has the Never a Moment of Peace trait. Currently this is expressed in the form of a minstrel companion with Instincts like, “Seduce every beautiful woman I meet,” and, “Compose on my mandolin WELL into the night!” So, once they had spent a little time in town, I had an angry husband come at the pair for the minstrel’s unscrupulous pursuit of Fate points with his wife. I forget how this was resolved exactly, but it’s notable because a failed Circles test down the line resulted in that couple getting attacked (and, unfortunately, killed) by some undead that wandered into town. Gwen killed off the undead – fuckin’ Fire Fan, man – and collected the bodies of the undead and the couple.

She wanted to collect some antecedents from the undead and study the couple’s corpses to try to understand the undead plague better. So she asked the mayor if she could use his cellar for this. This definitely stretched limits of hospitality, and she had a Belief about getting the antecedents by this point. But, they also had a rapport after we’d had a few RP scenes together, and it didn’t seem beyond the scope of his character to allow such a thing… I called for a Persuasion test with the consequence of failure being that he would begrudgingly allow it, but the decision wouldn’t go over well with people of the village. She failed (of course; he has a Will of B5).

Right around this time I had Sir Leszek come to town. He’s on his way to join the local lord in his war to reclaim the lands that rightfully belong to him. He’s not too keen to be held up, he feels like he could maybe take the manticore (he might be right!), and he has no love for Gwen and her order (They’re all so venal! I heard they’d even extort a man the day before his son’s funeral!). Up until this point, Gwen had been spending time trying to identify the beast (she didn’t know what it was starting out), trying to determine a remedy (many monsters in this setting were once human and might become so again), and trying to prepare such a remedy once she knew what it was (We’re using some tweaked Folklore stuff for this; it includes things like adding up conditions that would be counter to the nature of the monstrous affliction, putting them together in a proposed ceremony, and then bringing that ceremony about in play). It was taking a while, is the point. And in the interest of honoring the promise of a tense atmosphere where things worse the longer they take to resolve, I thought bringing in a character like Sir Leszek would help. He’s kind of a loose cannon. (And an implicit challenge to Gwen’s Belief about breaking the manticurse; can’t cure someone if they’re dead…)

In her investigation, Gwen asked a town gossip if she knew anyone who was close to the now-manticore person. I played the gossip as very cagey. Not only was Gwen now the creepy witch lady doing who knows what with the body’s of this person’s neighbors (and preventing them from being buried), but this conversation also happened to be taking place at a spooky, abandoned house that Gwen had led her to. I said that she couldn’t remember “lyingly,” and asked if Chloe wanted to test Persuasion to get the gossip to play ball… And also not spread the word that this witch took her to an abandoned, presumably to use her as a new victim. Chloe did, and failed (of course; she has a Will of B3).

Fast forward to Gwen having nearly made all her preparations for the final confrontation for the manticore. All she needs to do now is brew up an Imbuing to ease darkness penalties (which she has a Belief about), and then she’ll be good to go. She retires to her cellar-turned-lab, sets out her flasks and beakers – And that’s when the mob shows up! While she was setting traps and gathering helpers, the people of the village and Sir Leszek got into an anti-Gwen feedback loop culminating in a pitchfork-laden march on the mayor’s manor.

She's keeping our neighbors for her foul experiments!
She's mooching off our mayor's hospitality; she has no intention of every slaying the manticore!  
She's ensorcelled our mayor's mind!  
The undead never came to town until after she did, and who did they attack?
The people she'd been fighting with!  Ergo Propter Hoc!

They come out demanding her expulsion from the village, Leszek at their front. Hence Duel of Wits where many of the above statements come into play (the gossip adding helping dice to the BoA, of course). Her SoP is about Leszek admitting she’s not an evil witch and is here to help. In a Duel of Wits, I like to account for the BoA’s going down in my characters’ RP and action selection, especially in regards to compromise thresholds. So, when she got his BoA to about half at the end of the second exchange, I was mentally prepared to have him start RPing into that compromise level – she’s got some people speaking well for her; the mayor really does seem in full control of her faculties; maybe she’s just greedy or incompetent and not malicious. That kind of thing. Then, the first volley of the third exchange, I had a point scripted against her feint. She has Mesmerizing Gaze, and decided now was a good time to employ it to keep him from speaking his point in this action – She’ll just lock eyes, Will test, and then pretend this scripting blunder never happened! Great plan! Totally worked!

Except for what a fucking betrayal this was and how it undermined her entire Statement of Purpose! “I’m not an evil, mind controlling witch. I’m here to help. And if you try to say otherwise, I will mind control you into silence!” I decided at that point that no compromise was possible for Sir Leszek…

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So the knight escalated to violence? But there’s an audience, right? Did she win the DoW? Are the villagers on her side?

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They definitely aren’t on his side! He lost, forwent all compromise, and did not kill his interlocutor – complete loss!

Her SoP did not involve the villagers! It involved the knight directly. The knight’s SoP was for the villagers to force her out of the village – so that definitely ain’t happening. (And he has to admit that she’s not an evil witch and is here to help!)

I’m not sure I’d say the villagers are on her side, but I haven’t entirely thought through the villager’s disposition, honestly. They definitely aren’t going to work themselves up into a mob again, and I’m sure they feel like they’ve made a right fool of themselves… :thinking: