Author Topic: Iron and Rye [Session Report]  (Read 1479 times)


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Iron and Rye [Session Report]
« on: September 14, 2012, 12:01:01 AM »

In the hope that someone may find it interesting or useful, I've typed up a report of my first Mistborn RPG session. This was a one-on-one session, and started as a conversation with the player to determine the setting and the PC's history. We settled on the wasteland of the eastern dominance as a perfect starting place for a longer campaign. The player created Tara, a mistborn from a farming family that takes the occasional assassination contract. With only one PC, the concept of a "crew" didn't apply, although there are several opportunities for allies to join the PC later on.

I was able to think of lots of interesting secrets, and I thought I had a good idea of what sort of events would take place, but I underestimated the PC's creativity and deviousness in dealing with her opponents, so the story took unusual turns.

Thankfully, I found that the secrets I established at the outset still applied, and served as a flexible framework for the story -- the secrets don't change, but the PC's methods for discovering the secrets are unpredictable. This uncertainty was the best source of fun and excitement for the player and the GM. I'm still amazed by the wonderful twist the PC introduced near the end of this session.

Browsing this forum has been great inspiration, and I'm trying to figure out ways to work in some of the fantastical hemalurgic creations from this thread: I'd also love to hear any ideas for additional secrets that the PC might encounter later in the campaign.

Seran Setting

Spoiler: show
The city of Seran is on the east banks of the Seran River between the north and south Seran lakes.  The river provides some irrigation, but the last few years have been bad, and the ash from faleast ashmount in the distance regularly chokes out the light and the crops.  Although the river used to flow year round, the heat of summer often leaves the river with little more than a trickle.

Seran is the most prosperous city this far east of Luthadel, but that's not saying much. If it weren't for the minerals trade, no one would cross the vast expanse of sodic desert that separates Seran from the rest of civilization. Skaa workers and several others have been falling dead, sometimes entire families at a time. A witch-hunt mentality is forming in Seran, with many Skaa blaming the nobles for their misfortune, and the nobles blaming, the Skaa, eachother, and the steel ministry, which has increased its presence in Seran in recent years, mostly due to an increase in the trade of rare minerals.

Day 1 - Intro

Spoiler: show
The Rahkim family farm produces rye grain, the principal crop of this area of the eastern dominance. The farming business has taken a turn for the worse, and the Rahkim family has watched as other noble houses dedicated to the mining trade overtake them in influence and resources. Tara hopes someday to restore her family back to their proper place of honor.

Tara, the 25-year-old daughter of Lord Rahkim, is the only mistborn in Seran. Since her pewterarm brother died more than 10 years ago, she is probably the only allomancer left in the area. She mostly tends to the fields by day. By night, she is often contracted on secret missions for the area's new nobility, or for the canton of resource. Sometimes for simple espionage, and sometimes for murder.

It's early morning, mid-summer, and Tara heads out to the fields. As she begins to survey the field, she notices several of her Skaa workers missing.  She heads to their hut and knocks on the door. She tries to push in and finds that it's been barred shut.

She succeeds in climbing the side of the hut and pushing aside the simple thatch roof to deftly land on her feet inside of the hut (Physique 1). She sees three stone-dead Skaa workers lying on their cots. She checks them over and sees no signs of foul play. The door was locked from the inside, and she fails to find any clues that might indicate what killed these workers (Wits 2).

Tara heads back to the fields to see her Uncle Hyrum, clearly in a bad mood, calling out for her. When she delivers the bad news his mood turns even more sour.  Hyrum is a grumpy old man, but Tara knows he looks out for the best interests of her family. If it wasn't for the jobs he arranges for Tara, House Rahkim would have folded long ago.

"I have a new job for you. Meet Brill tonight at midnight, at the Canton of Resource."

Brill is the sole representative of the steel ministry in Seran; a slight but intelligent obligator that showed up in town several years ago, just as the minerals trade began picking up.

Hyrum is reluctant to say more, but Tara convinces him to reveal more information about the job in order to ensure Tara's safety (Wits v Wits). She's not quite sure she trusts the obligator yet. "All I know is that House Jandar is paying for the job".

Day 1 - A Trip to the North Seran Mine

Spoiler: show
House Jandar wants a job done, and Tara wants to know why. She knows that Jandar is the richest house in Seran, in large part due to their diverse holdings of mines in the area. Their largest mine, an iron pit mine near the banks of the North Seran lake, employs over a hundred Skaa workers.

Tara begins the several hour journey on foot. She wants to arrive at the mine ready for action, so she intimidates a Skaa worker pulling a cart, convincing him to haul her all the way (Physique v Wits).  She terrifies him so much, that he gives her his breakfast, which she eats on the way to the mine.

When she arrives, she sees steep cliffs spotted with abandoned mineshafts, and the coast of the nearly-dry North Seran Lake. Inbetween is a gigantic pit, with Skaa workers scurrying like insects, hauling dirt and rock out to be processed. A worker camp is nearby, and a log building -- probably the foreman's office, is positioned above to oversee the operation.

Tara fails to notice anything out of the ordinary with the workers (Wits 2), and they generally seem industrious, if a little unmotivated. She sneaks to the cabin, using her tattered cloak to blend with the workers. She thinks she can hear muffled voices inside.  She doesn't want to down her mistborn vial quite yet, and she looks for a tool that might help her hear better through the walls. She's certain there must be a wooden cup in the workers camp, but as she begins to search the empy camp she is nearly discovered by a worker (Wits vs Wits). She's lucky that he shouldn't have been there either, otherwise he might have sounded the alarm. She convinces him to tell her who's in the office (Charm v Wits). "Well, I know the boss man is in there, and some fancy guy in a robe".

Disappointed with the lack of information she was able to learn from her visit, she heads back to Seran. She doesn't want to make the entire journey by foot, so she tries to sneak on to the back of a cart drawn by a mule (Physique 1). She loses her grip, however, and tumbles to the ground. Thankfully, the driver didn't notice her, and she just ends up with some extra dust on her cloak. She arrives in town 4 hours later.

Day 1 - The Angry Boar

Spoiler: show
At around 5pm, Tara heads to the Angry Boar Tavern to see what she can pick up. She sits down and orders an ale, and she is surprised to see Lord Jandar enjoying some drinks with members of his house. Apparently it wasn't Lord Jandar at the mine earlier. It's hard to make out the conversation, but she manages to hear the name "Brill", and something about the deal having gone down today (Wits 2).

She heads back to her manor to get some rest before meeting with Brill tonight.

Day 1 - The Meeting with Brill

Spoiler: show
Tara heads to the Canton of Resource shortly before midnight, and keeps her cloak drawn tight to avoid being identified. The canton is the most secure building in Seran, and as she approaches its only entrance the door opens before she has a chance to knock. 

The guard leads her to Brill's spartan office, with its stone walls and simple furnishings of 2 wooden chairs and a large desk. On the desk is Brill's large logbook, and several neat stacks of documents.

Brill explains that Tara's job is to dispose of Baron Stoletti, and he gives her assurances that the Baron will be in his bedroom tomorrow night. Tara succeeds in getting a bit more information about the job (Wits v Wits). She learns that the job was requested by House Jandar, something she already knew from Uncle Hyrum. She also picks up that Brill and Jandar both want Stoletti gone because he is interfering in their lucrative contracts in the minerals trade.

Emboldened by this, and feeling a little suspicious, Tara asks Brill why he was at the North Seran mine this morning. She figured he was the only person in town that would wear a robe. Brill sits up in his chair with quiet anger, believing that he had been followed. "I was arranging this contract with House Jandar. Why wouldn't I have been at the mine today? Now leave!".

Tara tries to see if she can discover any information from the pages as she begins to leave, but fails (Wits 2). On her way back to the front door, she tries to see if she can evade the guard's attention to see what else she can find, but fails again (Wits v Wits). Thankfully, she doesn't alert the guard that anything is amiss.

She leaves the canton at about 12:30 am, but rather than head home she gets some distance from the canton and waits in the shadows, still holding the feeling that something isn't quite right with this job. At about 2am she sees a mule-drawn cart pull up to the Canton. She recognizes it as the same cart she fell off of earlier in the day, so she knows it came from the mines. She then watches as the driver and the guard unload what appears to be sacks of grain into the canton. Tara wonders why grain is being shipped from the mines to the canton since the mine doesn't produce any grain.

As she heads back to the manor, she gets the feeling that she's being watched (Wits 2).

Day 2 - An Appointment with Baron Stoletti

Spoiler: show
Tara wakes up at sunrise and heads out to survey the farm and check on her workers. All is well, so she heads into town to case the Stoletti Manor.

Baron Stoletti is one of the most powerful people in Seran, but unlike Lord Jandar and Brill, Stoletti got his power from the people, not by providence or brute force. As a holdout from the days when noble houses were rare in Seran, and the Steel Ministry was all but unheard of, Baron Stoletti is an elected official, and makes decisions for all of Seran. It's understandable that Brill and Jandar would want Stoletti dead. Tara is inclined to agree.

Realizing that she isn't likely to learn much from the outside, she knocks on the door. She is greeted by a Skaa servant, clearly dressed above his station. She convinces the servant that she has urgent business with the Baron regarding her dead Skaa workers, and she is invited inside to wait (Wits v Wits). The servant offers a cup of tea, and when he returns he advises her to wait, and that the Baron will see her soon.

Left alone in the hall, Tara chances a quick look up the stairs. She sees a closed door to the left, presumably the Baron's study. She also performs a cursory search of the Baron's bedroom, straight ahead, and another nearby bedroom to the right that probably belongs to a young man. She finds nothing of interest.

She takes her seat back at the foot of the stairs just in time to see a Skaa worker walk down the stairs. He smiles and nods in respect, and the servant enters and tells her that Baron will see her now.

Baron Stoletti is a busy man, and his crowded office is filled with records, books, and letters. Tara takes a seat. "What can I do for you?".

Tara explains her concern about the recent deaths of Skaa workers, including her own.  She asks Stoletti for information. "We are looking into it" he responds.

"Who is 'we'?" Tara asks (Wits v Wits).

"My son, Calindo and I. We've been investigating and we think we may know who is behind it."

Tara thanks Stoletti and leaves the estate. Now to find Calindo. If she's learned anything about rich young nobles, she thinks she might get a lead back at the tavern.

Day 2 - Gambling at the Angry Boar

Spoiler: show
Despite the early hour, there are several groups already deep in drink at the Angry Boar. She recognizes a group of young nobles, and approaches them for information. At first she is ignored (Charm v Charm), but with the help of her flask of spirits, she challenges them to a game of dice (Seran hold-em). She stakes all of the coins she has on her, and when she eventually wins she doubles her money and gains some new information.

The drunkest of the group tells her a rumor that Stoletti is not truly a noble, but a simple Skaa above his station. She also learns that Cal (Calindo) has not been around much lately, and didn't show up at the tavern last night.

Day 2 - The Market Square

Spoiler: show
The market sets up every day in the plaza in front of the canton of resource. She finds Saul, the Skaa merchant trading in exotic imports. The Rahkim family provides him with a steady supply of grain, and he provides her with the occasional vial of precious metal and valuable rumors.

She succeeds in haggling for an extra Mistborn vial (Resources 3). Thankfully she had doubled the coins in her coinpurse earlier. She also convinces Saul to part with some valuable information about Baron Stoletti, and he tells her everything he knows (Wits v Charm).

She learns that the rumor of Stoletti's Skaa origin is most likely true. She learns that he wants to stop the nobles and the Steel Ministry from getting rich off of Skaa labor. She also learns something about the darker side of Baron Stoletti: when she was young, Stoletti forced all children in Seran, noble and skaa alike, into hard labor in an effort to snap mistings. This included Tara, and Stoletti's own son, Cal. Many children didn't survive the process. Tara was the only child to snap, but few people know this.

Day 2 - Back to the Stoletti Estate

Spoiler: show
Tara decides to return to the Estate to watch the comings and goings. She arrives at about 10am and blends in with the crowd along the edge of the estate. She succeeds in noticing Cal some distance away, and he seems to be following her (Wits 2).

Tara decides to approach him while blending into the crowd so he loses sight of her (Wits v Wits). She decides to 'accidentally' bump into him and feign surprise. She succeeds at partially convincing him that she doesn't know he was following her, and that it really was just a chance encounter (Charm v Wits). Cal quickly takes his leave and rushes off. Not wanting to tip him off completely, Tara burns tin to watch Cal from a distance and sees him hurrying to Stoletti Manor.

Having already cased the manor, Tara feels ready to do some spying despite the bright sun. She sneaks around the outer edge of the estate, and burns iron to pull herself up to the second story window ledge outside of Baron Stoletti's bedroom (Iron 2). She finds the bedroom empty, so sneaks around to peek into Cal's room, and sees him anxiously writing in his notebook.

Tara retreats to a safe distance, and burns tin to sense when Cal has left his room. After about an hour, he heads out. Tara unlatches the window with iron, and enters his room. Her thorough search reveals Cal's notebook. Unfortunately, it's encrypted. As she works on breaking the code she is interrupted by the sound of footsteps coming toward her. She barely has time to stealthily dive under the bed before the passing servant notices her (Physique v Wits).

After about an hour of work, she is able to decrypt the most recent entry in the journal (Wits 1):

I think I've been made, and I fear for my life.

We know now that Brill is responsible for the deaths of the Skaa workers, and is somehow working with Jandar. Yesterday, I find that another noble is involved: Tara Rahkim. I saw her at the North Seran mine with Brill, and then I saw her enter the Canton of Resources at an unlikely hour.

She must have seen me following her. I've heard that she's a murderer-for-hire. First she killed all of those workers, and I worry now that I must be her next target. They know I've learned too much.

Realizing that her suspicious actions have led Cal to this false conclusion, she decides to seek him out.

Day 2 - Cal at the Angry Boar

Spoiler: show
Tara uses her connections to find out where Cal might be (Influence 1). She's not surprised to hear he's holed himself up in the Angry Boar.

Tara takes a peek inside to see him staring at a glass of ale, with several empty tankards nearby. She chances walking straight up to him, burning brass to soothe his fear, and keeping him from running or shouting out (Brass 2). Feeling cornered, Cal begins to answer some of her questions (Physique v Spirit).

She asks how he feels about his father, Baron Stoletti.  Cal doesn't say much, but she senses a hint of resentment. She riots his emotion and finds that he is still angry with his father for nearly killing him during the failed mass snapping years ago, but she gets the feeling that their relationship has since moved past that unfortunate incident (Zinc 3). She learns that Cal does love his father, especially for his attempts to keep Seran free from the corrupting influence of newly-immigrated nobles and the Steel Ministry.

Tara asks for the truth about Stoletti's Skaa origin.  Cal denies it outright, and angers at the suggestion.  Trying to save face, Tara lies and says that she herself has been investigating the Skaa deaths, and that is what led her to the North Seran mine, the Canton of Resource, and the Stoletti manor (Wits v Wits). She tells him that she discovered that someone wants his Father dead, and that an assassin will likely be sent to his room tonight. She offers to help save him.

Tara burns brass to soothe Cal's fear (Brass 2) and convinces him that it would be best if he stayed while she went to check on Baron Stoletti (Wits v Wits). She succeeds so well that he gives her his dueling cane to help. As a final act of trickery, Tara riots Cal's trust, and asks him if there's anything she can say to Baron Stoletti so he will know she was sent by Cal (Zinc 3). Cal tells her to say "Remember the Arish Kahn". Tara leaves and rushes back to the Stoletti Manor.

Day 2 - The Assassination?

Spoiler: show
Tara takes the same route she took earlier in the day and pulls herself up with iron to the second-story ledge outside of Baron Stoletti's window. She bangs the window with the dueling cane. Baron Stoletti wakes with a start, and the sound of Stoletti's frightened shouts echo through the manor. Tara yells through the glass "Cal sent me. Remember the Arish Kahn." Confused, but convinced, Stoletti opens the window. She jumps through the window and quickly explains that his life is in danger.

Moments later, the house servant from earlier throws open the door to check on his master, and finds Tara between the door and Stoletti, dueling cane at the ready. Tara shouts at the Baron to stay behind her, that she will protect him. The servant rushes towards Tara, but she lands a solid blow to the side of his head and he falls unconscious (Physique v Physique).

Baron Stoletti is stunned, and stammers out a word of thanks to Tara for saving his life.

End of Session 1
At this point I have no idea what Tara will do next. Will she kill Stoletti as she agreed, will she use the trust she gained with him and his son for her family's benefit, or will she use the opportunity to learn the truth behind Brill and the Skaa deaths?

Undiscovered Secrets

These are additional secrets that will likely be revealed before the end of this campaign:

Skaa Deaths
Spoiler: show
Brill is indirectly the cause of the Skaa worker deaths, but he doesn't know it yet. He has been stockpiling grain and storing it in a cavern at the North Seran mine. The damp conditions make the rye grain susceptible to the ergot fungus. When ingested, ergotism sets in and causes death.

Since food is so scarce in the area, Brill is using the grain to pay off Skaa workers that are assisting with his corrupt activities, such as skimming off the top of valuable metal shipments.

If Tara finds the storeroom of grain and metals, she might use it for her family's gain, return it to the town of Seran, or use it to secure passage to Luthadel (although this may bring unwanted attention from the Steel Ministry). If she fails to discover the connection between the grain and the deaths, and feeds the infected grain to the town, she may face a new tragedy as people in town start to die in great numbers.

Uncle Hyrum
Spoiler: show
Tara's Uncle Hyrum used to be an influential noble in Luthadel, but was exiled from Luthadelian society shortly after Tara's birth. Hyrum kidnapped Tara and her older brother (now deceased) and fled to Seran. There, he found a Skaa couple with high aspirations and set them up as a "noble" family. Hyrum is also a skilled rioter, and uses his allomancy to help control Tara's family.

If Tara ever finds her way to Luthadel, she may discover her true heritage, and will have to face the dilemma of choosing where her loyalties lie.