A Very Grimm War for the Crown (Inactive) (Inactive)

Game Master Nikolaus de'Shade

Loot List
Persona Rules

Loyalty: 13
Okerra: Helpful, Crabbe: Helpful, Voinum: Friendly, Piscum: Friendly.

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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 decadence of Taldor's capital keep the spirit of that name alive.

Oppara serves as Taldor's primary trade center, with traffic coming both from Taldor's interior via the River Porthmos and from the steady stream of international vessels sailing in from the Inner Sea. It is also the home of Taldor's government, hosting both the Imperial Palace of the grand prince and the polished marble halls of the senate. 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.

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 currently 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.

Of course beneath the gilded wonders of the city lies another, darker truth. Narrow slums filled with cramped tenements and desperate people. Although barely a stones throw from the great monuments which visitors stop to gawk at, thousands of people live out lives of desperation and squalor - unseen and unacknowledged by their 'betters'.

However today, even the most downtrodden are excited for on this day every year, the empire of Taldor celebrates the Grand Day of Exaltation, the one day when the Grand Prince is empowered to elevate a commoner to the ranks of 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, performances, and parades. 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. To the common folk it is an unmatched opportunity for profit, with merchants hawking heraldry ranging from replica banners of the old Armies of Exploration to wooden swords and handheld Taldan flags for children. Taverns offer themed drink and food, with varying bars adopting well-known nobles from the long history of the empire as their mascot or self-declared patron.

Alongside all the pomp and circumstance filling Oppara this year is a noteworthy moment in history: the imperial senate is poised to hold a historic vote to end primogeniture. The potential end of the millennia-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, the only living child of Grand Prince Stavian III, 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 primogeniture's potential end, the streets of Oppara hold no signs of unrest during the jubilant celebrations of the Grand Day of Exaltation.

In the genteel building that houses the Young Lions club this is more true than for most. Discrete servants move through the halls disposing of the wreckage, and occasionally the wrecked, left over from last night's debauchery. One of the most exclusive clubs in Oppara the Young Lions is open only to nobles of the Most Noble Houses - unless a family can trace its nobility back a dozen generations they are deemed unworthy - and even then only to those below the age of thirty. Among the perhaps two hundred members of the Most Noble Houses there are barely a dozen who have not held membership in their time and it is an accepted fact amongst these families that once you have turned thirty your deeds (infamous, amorous or otherwise) are never to be spoken of again - thus providing a chance for young people to sow their oats and work the 'wildness' from their systems before settling down to the truly serious family business - running the Empire.

Perhaps the most curious feature of the Young Lions is that members are not required to be in good standing with their families. Since the club does not exist in the collective understanding of anyone past thirty in the Most Noble Houses it is quite possible for even a disgraced or cast out scion to be seen at the clubs parties, to eat in their superb dining room and to generally carry on their life as it was before.

Lucretia, Victor, Lollia, Robert:
Since you are, by right of birth, a current member of the Young Lions, it is not entirely unheard of for you to receive a polite knock on the door of your dwelling. Outside stands a neatly dressed footman who delivers a letter with your name written in a flowing script and the white seal of the Young Lions holding it closed. The footman does not wait for a response.

My dear cub, the letter reads.
Your presence is requested at the Lion's Den at noon today, some business has arisen which I believe presents an opportunity for both of us.
I look forward to seeing you in a few hours time.


'Cub' is a term of address which only the current president of the society can use. The holder of this privileged position for the past four years is Caspian Lotheed, second son of the Most Noble House of Lotheed. In his twenty ninth year Caspian will soon be 'aging out' of the club and speculation over who will be appointed his successor is one of the favored topics of gossip in the Lions Den. Could this be the opportunity that he is referring to?

Checking the dead-drop through which your sometimes employer contacts you is second nature to you these days, even though contact with Martella is rarer than a platinum coin in the Narrows. Her coin is a lifeline though and it wouldn't do to miss out on a job simply because you were too lazy to look for it. Unusually when you arrive there is a message waiting for you at the drop.

Meet me at this address just before Noon. An opportunity has arisen and I have need of your skill set. M.

On an enclosed slip of paper is an address - a fancy one. Since you're meeting Martella in person this can't be second story work...

Before you head to the meetup, you can shop or handle any business you wish to. You may make either Diplomacy, Knowledge (local), or Knowledge (nobility) checks to learn more about your employer or the political scene in Oppara. Any given player character may roll only once for each given subject. The available subjects are: the Grand Day of Exaltation, Grand Prince Stavian III, Martella Lotheed, and Princess Eutropia. (See post below if you succeed - All checks are DC15)

You may also each attempt a DC 15 Diplomacy check to gather information and hear a rumor that is currently circling throughout Oppara.

If you succeed in your checks (DC15) you can read the appropriate spoiler below.

The Grand Day of Exaltation:
The Grand Day of Exaltation is the one day every year when the emperor can elevate a commoner of unusual skill or service to the ranks of nobility. Because people travel from all over the empire to witness the exaltation, many balls and political events take place in the preceding week, and the senate usually votes on matters of national importance immediately beforehand. This year's noble-to-be is a wide-eyed weaver from the village of Breezy Creek, whose beautiful tapestries have adorned the royal palace and many other royal homes for a decade.

Grand Prince Stavian III:
Grand Prince Stavian III is the emperor of Taldor. He has no male heir, and he has refused to have any further children since the tragic death of his only son, Carrius, in a riding accident 20 years ago. With the emperor is getting on in years, some people worry how this will affect succession. The emperor has made no secret of his disdain for Princess Eutropia's social crusades, especially her efforts to overturn primogeniture so she can inherit the throne, but he has been uncharacteristically quiet about it this past year. Rumors abound that his health is slipping and he has accepted her efforts.

Martella Lotheed:
The wealthy Lotheed family has been a strong supporter of the Stavians for almost 100 years. They have a long family tradition of arcane magic, adding to their wealth and prestige. Martella is the black sheep of the family, being a result of an extramarital dalliance with a Qadiran diplomat. She lacks her family's gift for magic as well, adding to their resentment. Despite her family's disdain, Martella still commands some wealth and has extensive contacts, having attended the Sinora Academia, Taldor's most exclusive girls' school.

Princess Eutropia:
Princess Eutropia is the adult daughter of Grand Prince Stavian III and has a scandalous reputation for making trouble and fighting in the streets. Eutropia is a social reformer, eager to establish schools and other public resources for the poor, and remove political or family restrictions for women and various minorities. Rumors have circulated for a decade that her ultimate goal is to overturn primogeniture--Taldor's ancient law stating that only male heirs may inherit the Lion Throne--and become the first empress of Taldor.

Grand Lodge

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M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Robert wakes up in the small unremarkable apartment he found for himself in Oppara. The thought of staying in Calistria's temple fleetingly passed through his mind when he arrived in the city, but he had a goal to accomplish, and he needed to publicly distance himself from the church for the time being. For now, he needed to be only a young clueless harmless noble, and so that is the mask he wears.

After a small breakfast that he took to long to eat, Robert keeps thinking of what his next steps should be. How can he get closer to Maxillar Pythareus, the commander of Taldor's military, and the reason for his father's downfall, along with his own?

Patience, he told himself. Think of the game. The game needs to be played. He wasn't looking to get into the game just for himself, but also for so many that were being wronged by schemers. First, he needs to recollect what he knows about where he's standing. And who is this Martella Lotheed that he heard about?

Knowlege (nobility) - Grand Day: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Knowlege (nobility) - Grand Prince: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Knowlege (nobility) - Martella: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
Knowlege (nobility) - Princess Eutropia: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8

He takes a step out in the sun and the city is buzzing. He sees a familiar face, an elderly woman who helped him settle in yesterday. He begins his work, learning the latest rumors.

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11

<irony>What a great way to start the game rolls!</irony>

Robert remembers hearing about this Martella lady. Being a somewhat family disappointment, he shares something in common with her, and could be a valuable ally. Now, how will he go about getting in touch with her? He still lacks a plan.



Lucretia wakes up with a start; loud banging on her bedroom door followed by laughter and a stream of hurried footsteps running away down the university corridor. She can hear the bangs on a few other dormitory doors as they run past. She knows that she was not singled out for this unwelcome wake-up call but wishes the pranksters ill-luck nonetheless.

She drags her feet out of bed, slips on her robe and meanders over to the mirror, rubbing her eyes, giving up on the thought of more sleep. Curious as to the time, she opens the curtains wide to see the sun signalling that it is mid-morning already.

Well, I suppose that I had better get started. What shall I do today, it's not like I am welcome in Dr Pelagius' class right now.

Deciding to head to the communal dining area, she pulls on a pair of shoes and a robe, runs a brush through her hair and opens the door, only to be confronted with a surprised courier about to knock. She thanks him with a nod and heads back into her room, dreading the message inside, worrying it may be her suspension to the university at any second.

Turning it over she breathes a sigh of relief as she sees the seal of the Young Lions and tears at the wax seal. Upon reading her letter, her heart skips a beat as she realises it is signed by Caspian Lotheed! Has he finally noticed me? She ponders wishfully, having held a crush on him for some months but never quite having the guts to have any meaningful conversation with him.

Kn Nobility*4: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (2) + 11 = 131d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 271d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 151d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21
Dipl: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25

Heading down to breakfast with a spring in her step, Lucretia thinks through everything that the mysterious summons may include.

Perhaps it has something to do with the upcoming traditional festivities...blagh... I know the Lotheed's have that non-magical sister- Martella I think. Perhaps even something to do with the Princess herself? Oh no, stop getting ahead of yourself. Its probably just to organise whatever after-party is coming our way - but if its with Caspian then....But I wonder if Vincent's invited too?

Lucretia's thoughts continue to run wild as she heads back to her room, full on oatmeal and berries. She spends a considerable time on her choice of outfit to make sure it is just right for Caspian to pay her a second glance. She finally makes her way over to the Lion's Den, leaving just enough time to get there.

Female CN Ifrit Slayer (Velvet Blade) 5 | HP 23/39 | AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 vs traps) | CMB +7, CMD 21 | Fort +6, Ref +9 (+1 vs traps), Will +2 | Initiative +8 (+2 Urban) | Perception: +8 (+1 vs traps) (+2 Urban) | Speed 30 ft. | Active Conditions: None

Shula grins as she see the note in its usual place. About time. She'd been suspecting Martella might have use for her services; the Grand Day of Exaltation was the perfect opportunity to steal from, spy on, or otherwise inconvenience some of the visiting nobles. It was a busy time of year for everyone, really. So many tourists gawking at the sights, too awestruck to notice their pockets getting a little lighter.

The only downside was the address, which looked high-class enough that she'd have to dig out her costume before going. The courtier's dress (with accessories to match) was a necessary evil as far as Shula was concerned. If Martella needed her to go someplace fancy, she had to look like she belonged.

She whistles cheerfully as she makes her way back to Auntie E's. (No one is there of course, all too busy with their own work.) In one corner of the dilapidated apartment is a hidden compartment one of Shula's 'brothers' had constructed years before. Glancing around to make sure no one's watching through the windows, (paranoia is part of life on the streets), she quickly opens it, pulls out the necessary items, and shoves them into a bag. Still whistling, she leaves the Narrows and heads for Grandbridge.

Al Ligori's bookshop is a bit off the main thoroughfare. Orania, one of Shula's 'sisters,' can usually be found behind the counter. Today she's swamped with customers, but she still gives Shula a quick nod and inclines her head towards the back. This isn't the first time Shula's used Al Ligori's back room to change, (since wearing a fancy outfit in the Narrows is just asking for trouble), and it probably won't be the last.

Shula leaves the shop looking far more respectable than she had when she went in. No longer whistling, she glances up at the sun and starts heading directly for the meeting place. With all her detours, she'll have to hurry a bit to get there on time.

Along the way she keeps an ear out for gossip. You never know when you'll hear something interesting.

Diplomacy, GDoE: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
Diplomacy, GPSIII: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Diplomacy, ML: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
Diplomacy, PE: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10
Diplomacy, Gather Information: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

Victor waited to leave his room until after he was certain his parents had finished their breakfast, not wanting to engage in the usual social niceties that they usually expected from him. He hadn’t gotten home until quite late last night, and today will no doubt be exhausting with all the parties and events surrounding the Grand Day of Exaltation. He is already dreading it.

Knowledge (nobility): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 81d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 201d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 141d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10

Of course, he’ll be expected to interact with his most famous relatives, Grand Prince Stavian and Princess Eutropia. He knows all about them, and how could he not when his parents won’t shut up about them?

Leona yawns and stretches languidly on her bed before getting up and rubbing against Victor’s legs. He leans down and scratched the cat behind her ears, eliciting a purr. ”A necessary evil we have to deal with. But I promise we’ll return to our real work tomorrow,” he says.

While he is sipping his morning tea, a knock on the door gets his attention. He reads the letter from the courier and turns to look at Leona. ”Well, now. Maybe today won’t be so boring after all.”

Thus, at the appointing meeting time, Victor arrives at the Young Lions Club to see what the hubbub is about.

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

After spending too much time with the elderly lady, Robert realizes that he is about to be late for his appointment with Lotheed. He is also an interesting personality to get close to. He sets out the Young Lion's house, looking the part of the bored young adult.

As you're heading out of the dormitories you pass a group of students engaged in heated gossip.

"I hear the emperor is going to exalt another one of his Ulfen bodyguards like he did for Baron Vinmark. The last thing we need is another barbarian lording it over us."

"Well this should cheer you up." Another student replies. "I saw Mr Smiles at Duke Talbot's reception this week - the one where Baronet Jivarus got into a row with the servant - and that jester is delightful. Whimsical and biting all at once, and such grace! A tad off-putting though."

As you pass through the marketplace to meet Martella you hear some wives nattering.

"My uncle is in the Lion Blades, and he says the Qadiran's are planning to kidnap Princess Eutropia tonight for ransom!" One woman says, puffing out her chest with importance as her friends gasp at the terrible (and thrilling) news.

Rumors: 2d10 ⇒ (1, 2) = 31d10 ⇒ 5

Slain by the Spikes of a Manticore

Lollia pondered the missive in her hand that one of Lady Bisque's servants had brought to her. What game was beginning? She'd spent the last three evenings at late night parties. Ostensibly as part of the musical entertainment. However, she was a very skilled conversationalist and it didn't take much effort to get semi-inebriated tongues to spill secrets - secrets that her patroness built her empire upon.

With the celebration of the Grand Exaltation, there has been no lack of gatherings to attend and her name was becoming more and more in demand. No, not her name. They didn't give a copper for her name and most of them didn't know what family she was from anyway. No, they wanted to hear her play either because they'd heard her before or one of their friends had.

She pushed aside the remains of her breakfast and summoned one of the servants to arrange for appropriate dress.

Caspian Lotheed; Now there was a man that was a riddle. Lady Bisque had been pressing her to find out what his plans were after stepping down from the Young Lions. Unfortunately no one seemed to know and she had worked very hard to find out. This might be a valuable feather in her proverbial cap.

Once suitably garbed for the morning, she set out for the Lion's Den via a roundabout path that leads her through some of the more upscale markets where she's a recognized face. She stopped here and there to chat and exchange rumors with a well-practiced smile.

Grand Day of Exaltation - Diplomacy vs DC 15: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (8) + 11 = 19
Grand Prince Stavian III - Diplomacy vs DC 15: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21
Caspian Lotheed - Diplomacy vs DC 15: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26
Princess Eutropia - Diplomacy vs DC 15: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30

Rumor Gathering - Diplomacy vs DC 15: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22

Rumor: 1d10 ⇒ 7

The upscale markets are much more genteel than the lower kind, and people would never do something so trite as to gossip in public... but information has a way of spreading regardless.

"They say Duke Centimus is quite the gentleman." One of Lollia's favored clothiers imparts. "But he gave me the dirtiest look at a fitting recently when I asked about his accident. That's a topic that should be left well alone!"

The Lion's Den is a large, but discrete, house situated just off the main boulevards and the porters know every member of the club by sight. Lollia, Lucretia, Robert and Victor are all greeted by name and escorted up to the third floor by the same quiet servants that make the club such a place of luxury. The first two floors are the general areas, where parties take place, dinners are held and fun is had by all. The third floor is a place of business, where the societies few permanent staff have their offices and the forth floor is the member's bedrooms, a discrete area where if some of the maids or menservants can be enticed then that is the member's private concern.

You all arrive within a few minutes of each other and the doors open without a sound to reveal Caspian Lotheed standing behind his desk (lion carved of course!). Already seated off to one side is an aristocratic woman with black hair, who shares a familial similarity with Caspian and another woman who a little out of place.

|HP: 35/35| AC: 18 T:14 FF:14 | F: +4, R: +8, W: +4 | Init: +6 | Bluff +7, UMD +11 [(+d6) Dip +7, DD +13, Per/SM +11, Spl +11, Knw +7/8] | 1: 4/4, 2: 2/2 | Active conditions:

"My Lady Vernisant, Lady Vernisant, Lord Merosett, Lord Stavian, thank you all for coming so quickly." Caspian says, offering a wide, white smile. "This is my sister, Martella, and her associate Miss Shulamit. Martella has a proposition for you all and reached out to me to bring you all together. Please, sit."

Caspian suits actions to words, taking his own seat once the ladies have taken their places in the semi-circle in front of his desk and making a beckoning gesture to his sister.

"Thank you Caspian," Martella begins. Hers is a severe face, finely boned and handsome but with command stamped upon it - Lucretia, Robert and Lollia all know that she is in her mid thirties but she seems older. "Now, I have taken precautions to ensure that we are not overheard, so you may speak freely." She pauses to ensure she has everyone's attention.

"I would like you all to attend the Exaltation Gala tonight. As I'm sure you know Princess Eutropia has been working for years on securing a senate vote to overturn Primogeniture and tonight will be the culmination of our work. As such I will have a large number of things that will need doing tonight, wheels that need to be kept in motion, and to do so will require a dedicated and trustworthy group of aides. Since this will be a very grand occasion I spoke to my brother to see if he had anyone he could recommend to me. Miss Shulamit is a long term associate of mine, but I will need more than one person to assist me tonight. In recompense for your services tonight I offer each of you a stipend of one hundred and fifty gold pieces, as well as an unparalleled networking opportunity. Since a number of you are... not on the best terms with your families I thought this might be a valuable opportunity to strike out on your own, to make your marks on the world."

She pauses and looks around the semi-circle, taking you all in. "So? What do you think of my proposal?"

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

Victor nods politely to the Lotheed siblings. As his eyes flick to the woman with them, his breath catches in his throat. Leona yowls uneasily in his arms, and the nobleman quickly pets the cat to try to calm her down. No, it can't be her! So many nights spent with her always one step ahead of us, and now she's right here! And we can't do anything about it!

He grits his teeth in a forced smile and gives Martella's "associate" a nod as well. He focuses on what Martella is saying, though his eyes keep flicking to the other woman, as if expecting her to pounce at any moment.

"Yes, I think this if a worthy endeavor," Victor says. "If we succeed at securing Cousin Eutropia's right to sit on the throne, then my parents will finally have no choice but to stop pushing me forward as a potential candidate. I am in. Will all of us be working...together?"

Slain by the Spikes of a Manticore

"You have my interest," Lollia says with a slight nod. No doubt Lady Bisque will be very interested in what this woman has up her sleeve. "Now if you would be kind as to elaborate on what type of wheels need to be kept in motion, as it were," she continues with a smile. "There are things I will do and things that I will not. I have found that some people have no care in distinguishing between the two."

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Entering the building, Robert nods politely to the others in the room. He doesn't know any of them very closely, but he knows some reputations associated with some names. In particular, he finds Lollia to have potential to getting much information easily, although he doesn't know anything about who she is or from where.

He is thinking of a way to initiate conversation as Caspian begins talking. He acknowledges being called by name and waits politely as his proposal is revealed.

However, as money and contacts are mentioned, he has some trouble containing himself. He flinches hard and tries to recompose, but his hand is shown already. He chastises himself for his weakness, thinking that he should be able to extract more, but now he has just shown that he will accept the arrangement. He had been thinking just this morning of how to get valuable contacts and here they are falling on his lap. It sounds a little too easy..., he thinks to himself, but if he is to get somewhere, he needs to start somewhere.

And so, he replies "I agree.", trying to save his composure. He adds "But I also agree with milady here, I... we need to be informed on how to help."

Female CN Ifrit Slayer (Velvet Blade) 5 | HP 23/39 | AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 vs traps) | CMB +7, CMD 21 | Fort +6, Ref +9 (+1 vs traps), Will +2 | Initiative +8 (+2 Urban) | Perception: +8 (+1 vs traps) (+2 Urban) | Speed 30 ft. | Active Conditions: None

Shula's eyes roam over the other prospective agents. Noble, noble, irritated noble...is that Atia Blue?! The woman used to perform at the Half-Mast, one of Shula's favored drinking spots. (Only partially because her brother Strates was one of the bartenders.) But now she's being called a lady...is this a long con? Good for her if so. Shula likes Martella, she's always paid fairly and treated her well, but that doesn't mean she'll sell out a fellow con-artist on a suspicion. Particularly if she's not being paid to do so.

Speaking of suspicions, Lord Stavian appears to be eying her with more than a sliver of distaste. Had she mugged him? No, she's pretty sure she'd recognize that nose. Stole from him? She doesn't think she's robbed anyplace fancy enough to belong to a Stavian, and certainly not boldly enough to be recognized if she had. Ultimately she (mentally) shrugs her shoulders and puts it out of her mind. For all she knows his ex was a redhead and he's projecting.

For now she stands perfectly still, although her eyes frequently shift to Martella. If she's being introduced as a long term associate she should probably at least pretend she knows what she's doing here. Hopefully Martella's answers to the others will also answer her own questions.


Lucretia stays unusually quiet as Caspian makes his introductions, a little disappointed that they had been lured here under the guise of meeting Caspian, only to have his sister run the show.

As Martella gets to the meatier parts of the proposal, Lucretia works hard to contain her excitement of the opportunity; this is a once in a lifetime chance to make a real difference. If Eutropia is manoeuvred into first in line to the crown, then Taldor would have no chance but to change.

bluff: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10

Unfortunately for Lucretia, her excitement is too much and a smile is plastered across her face giving it away.

Turning to direct her question to Caspian, Lucretia takes a calming breath. "You may have heard of my history at a selection of social gatherings when it comes to providing a means to protest the current situation in Taldor? It would be interesting to know why this particular group of people are the particular group you have chosen?" She asks, gesturing around her. "What particular skill sets do we cover between us?"

A Stavian on the team might make things a little more challenging.

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

"I am trained in combat with sword and shield," Victor says. "And I've mastered a bit of magic as well. One would be wise not to get on my bad side." The last bit seems to be directed towards Shula.

"And you, Lady Vernisant? What talents do you possess?"

Martella speaks first.

"As I'm sure you can imagine, trying to balance the competing interests of several hundred senators is no easy task. My aides for the evening will need to be my eyes, ears and voice in different places across the evening. Reassure allies, convince waverers, prevent enemies from making a fuss - the usual range of tasks. There should still be plenty of time for you to mingle and socialise on your own behalfs however - the gala does last about six hours after-all. Have no concern Lady Vernisant, I am well aware of the methods Lady Bisque employs through her network - I do not believe in forcing my people to act against their own inclinations. Doing so helps no-one and I trust that loyalty is a two way street, if you are loyal to your agents then they will be loyal to you. It helps ensure everyone's discretion." She places a light emphasis on the final word, conveying a clear message for Lollia on the subject of Lady Bisque.

Caspian takes up the thread of the conversation. "Naturally the situation during the evening will be fluid. No matter how well planned I have discovered that the aristocracy and alcohol have a way of leaving wrench in even the most elaborate plans." His tone is joking, but definitely directed at his sister for some reason. "As for your question, my Lady Vernisant, yes I am well aware of your history and your views. Martella and I both agreed that that made you a more attractive candidate, not less. There will be Dukes, Princes, foreign royalty and many others in attendance tonight. Someone who is not easily overawed is an absolute necessity. But I think it would be better if you all introduced yourselves and your own particular skill set."

Martella clears her throat artificially and Caspian winces. "Oh yes. I meant to tell you that a line of credit has been extended for each one of you at Samson's Raiment should you care to use it."

Martella opens a small pouch and offers each of you a badge, each one featuring heraldry depicting a linnorm entwined around a unicorn rampant. "These are senate aide badges, and they're your ticket into the gala. They once belonged to the staff of the long-dead Senator Voritas, whose family line was involved in the senate for nearly a thousand years before dying out about a century ago. Taldan senators have long used these badges to help coordinate with their staff members, especially when business takes them across the city and beyond. While you're wearing them, I'll be able to send you short telepathic messages, and you'll be able to respond simply by concentrating. Senators and other politicians of note traditionally hand out senate aide badges of extinct or exiled family lines to guests they invite to senate events, identifying them at a glance as guests rather than sitting senators or staff. The guards will be more wary of you because of this, though, so be cautious around them."

"Are there any more questions? The gala opens at seven so I would suggest you all take the time to prepare."

"I've set aside the Blue Room for you if you want to get to know each other better." Caspian offers, trying to ease the sting of Martella's dismissal. "The servants will bring you anything you need."

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Robert takes his badge and touches it, feeling its texture for a while. He looks to the others and says "As you all know, I'm Robert. I... have been practicing the game of politics and social pleasantries, which means I am right for this job." He says this more to himself than to the others, as it will be the first time putting his work to the test.

He completes "All of this, aided by the goddess Calistria's more... trickery side."

Female CN Ifrit Slayer (Velvet Blade) 5 | HP 23/39 | AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 vs traps) | CMB +7, CMD 21 | Fort +6, Ref +9 (+1 vs traps), Will +2 | Initiative +8 (+2 Urban) | Perception: +8 (+1 vs traps) (+2 Urban) | Speed 30 ft. | Active Conditions: None

Shula inwardly panics a bit as Caspian suggests introducing themselves and their skillsets. Martella had mentioned that they could speak freely, but she probably doesn't want Shula confirming that she regularly employs a sneak-thief. She'll need to be careful.

Particularly given the way Victor is glaring at her. His ex must have really pissed him off.

"I'm Shulamit, although most people just call me Shula." She offers a friendly smile. "You might not think it given the hair, but I'm pretty good at moving around unnoticed. People say all sorts of things when they don't think anyone is listening." Also lockpicking, pickpocketing, and occasionally stabbing people.

She takes a badge of her own, testing its weight. "I presume you have certain people you wish us to keep an eye on?" She hopes Martella isn't planning on waiting until the gala itself to get more specific than 'the usual range of tasks.'

Slain by the Spikes of a Manticore

Lollia gives Martella a nod in response.

She turns to Victor as he proclaims his martial skill. "Well, Sir Stavian, I hope we have no need of such abilities at the Gala. If so, then we've truly sunk to a low level," she says with mirth in her voice. She quickly hides her smile behind a hand-held fan.

"While I have no skill with a blade or bow, I have extensive experience in the battlefield on which we will be marshalled. Words are my weapons and verbal deflection my shield. I have some skill with music and have made a small name for myself through that."

When handed the badge she looks it over carefully, wary of any malevolent enchantments, before dropping it into a concealed pocket of her dress.

She conceals another smile when she notices her cousin's attempt to hide her excitement and when they make their way to the Blue Room for further discussion, she walks along beside Lucretia, leaning in to whisper.

"Lord Lotheed is quite the handsome fellow, is he not?" she says. "Too bad he hasn't given up that fascination with facial hair. I prefer the people that I kiss to be free from such affectations." She glances back to room where he still sits. "I wonder if we could convince him to shave it?"


"Oh certainly, no need for any form of violence at all. Its why you have me - let's just all say that I can be very compelling when I try." Lucretia responds.

"I am sure Lord Stavian here also has a fantastic insight on many of these families in attendance based on the social circles he enjoys." She adds with confidence, trying to gain a little credit from the young noble before they begin to work together.

"Oh Lollia, I don't know what you're talking about." Luretia replies with a sly grin. "Although that moustache is frightful. I hope he does remove it before the gala at least."

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

"Well, not for lack of trying," Victor says to Lucretia. "I've never had much love for the dreadful game of politics. I usually just smile and nod until people stop talking to me. But I have picked up a few tidbits that may prove useful."

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Robert raises one eyebrow at Victor's comment. He says "Well, then, milord, I believe you will find a few companies here useful, mine included. I might just come in to aid you in such situations where I might actually get something useful from these people." He is clearly eager to practice his political skills to the test with actually high profile politicians, and half wishes Victor will let him.

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

Victor nods to Robert. "I would welcome your aid, Lord Merosett. Anything to avoid having to make small talk with the usual batch of painfully boring dignitaries!"

Leona the cat walks over to Robert and stretches out her neck to tentatively sniff at him.

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Robert smiles and nods at Victor. As the cat approaches, he shies away, thinking he doesn't want any fur on his clothes. He holds himself before saying anything hurtful and awkwardly tries to pet the cat saying "Hello, kitty!". He doesn't ask for a name, but it seems he just wishes the cat would leave him alone, much like Victor described how he acts towards people in politics.

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

Despite Robert's discomfort (or perhaps because of it), Leona happily rubs her head against his outstretched hand.

"She likes you!" Victor says with a smile.

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Robert tries thinking of something witty to say like "She's smart, then", but gives up after realizing nothing he thought of is funny. Thinking a little more clearly, he asks Victor "You said you have magical capabilities and some arcane scholars employ the help of small animals as a... companion. Is this your case?"

He is clearly trying to change the subject, but also understand what sort of person Victor is.

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

"Yes. Leona is my familiar," Victor says matter-of-factly. "But she is also my guide and a loyal protector. She is never far from my side."

The big cat walks back to Victor, rubbing against his leg and purring. But through his empathic link, he can feel Leona's bemusement, as if she's saying, You'd be nothing without me.

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Visibly more comfortable that the cat has walked away, Robert looks to position himself in the gala and says to Martella "If I may be so bold, I would prefer to be placed close the politicians who deal with the military forces of Taldor."

Knowledge nobility (who are these politicians): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11

Having no strong knowledge of who these politicians are, Robert hopes no one will notice his lack of preparation. stupid dice...


"I don't think its that sort of Gala Lord Merosett. I think this Gala is a mingle-and-make-yourself-known - type Gala as oh so many of them are. Now if there was a decent meal at one of them, it would make it better but they always seem to prefer these fancy finger foods that barely fill you up!" Lucretia adds, clearly disappointed with many past parties' hor d'oeuvres and their pitiful portion sizes.

"Give me a political debate at this thing, and I'm your gal. Especially any bored and tired looking elderly noblemen, just not my Uncle."

Slain by the Spikes of a Manticore

"So I'm misreading all those sidelong glances you've been giving him?" Lollia whispers back. "Good to know. Then I won't be causing any issues if arrange to spend more time with him?" She watches her cousin's reaction carefully.

"I hope it's nothing so dry as that," the entertainer says with a small laugh. "Music. Stimulating conversation. Perhaps a little intellectual intercourse to liven things up. Political maneuvering. Backroom secrets." She smiles wider behind her fan. "All sorts of fun."

You have access to the Blue Room for as long as you want until you have to split up to prepare yourselves for the nights festivities. The Gala is held in the Senate House, which is arguably the center of Taldan government and holds the senate - the most 'democratic' element of said government. The senate house itself has existed in one form or another for millennia, though natural disasters, sabotage, and war have partially leveled it several times in the empire's grand history, leading to many large-scale repairs and revisions. The current senate building is a grandiose, T-shaped edifice constructed from white marble. Ostentatious columns carved with glorious scenes of the nation's history surround the building on all sides, while a pronounced flight of precisely 100 stairs ascends to the main entrance.

While senators may enter the senate building with a minimum of fuss, the process for aides, staff, and other attendees to enter is long and tedious. The five of you get shuffled into an expansive line dedicated to senatorial aides, minor noble attendants, and various others deemed as "people useful to people of import." The line progresses ponderously, and it will likely take several hours to finally reach the front. During this time, dozens of overeager merchants attempt to sell a variety of wares to you and other staffers—mostly novelty Taldan flags and phony pieces of historical memorabilia. Several others in the line begin to bemoan the wait, touting their respective level of importance based on association with their affiliated nobles and senators.

The entire affair is quite tiresome.

You are halfway through the line when a dreary inspector approaches you. "You've been selected for a random inspection," the Vudrani woman says. "Follow me."

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

Victor sighs impatiently but complies with the inspector. He has nothing to hide. Nothing she'll be able to find, at any rate...

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

As they are waiting, Robert keeps looking at the senators and other important people to see if there is someone he can impersonate to make the thing moves faster. However, after a while he realizes it won't be any good, as the others would still be aides. He decides to wait.

Robert knows that random inspection is reserved for suspicious people. He is outraged that this would happen, but can't think of anything he can do. Instead, he just complies, hiding his fury.

Female CN Ifrit Slayer (Velvet Blade) 5 | HP 23/39 | AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 vs traps) | CMB +7, CMD 21 | Fort +6, Ref +9 (+1 vs traps), Will +2 | Initiative +8 (+2 Urban) | Perception: +8 (+1 vs traps) (+2 Urban) | Speed 30 ft. | Active Conditions: None

Shula certainly isn't going to turn down Martella's offer of credit at the tailors. If nothing else she'll be able to sell the outfit later, netting herself a few extra gold pieces in profit from this job.

..Even though she still isn't entirely sure what this job is. Presumably Martella will simply contact them through the badges whenever she has something that needs doing.

She amuses herself in line by attempting to deduce which of the merchants are cheating their 'customers' a little more literally than others. If Martella hadn't contacted her, she might well have been plying her trade here. So many reasonably wealthy people in one place; so few that kept their hands on their belt pouches at all times.

When they're pulled out of line for a random inspection, her first instinct is to protest. I didn't even steal anything this time! Instead she swallows back that reaction and tries to stay calm. Victor and Robert both seem annoyed but not concerned; she should follow their lead. "Is there a problem, inspector?"

If they only looked at her belt pouch she'd be fine. If they did a full pat-down though...well hopefully it wouldn't come to that. The kukris were explainable, ("A girl needs a way to defend herself against ruffians"), but the lockpicks and glass cutter tucked away into hidden pockets might require a bit more effort.

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Seeing Shula act so cool helps Robert realize something as well. If this causes a problem for their contact, they'd be failing this assignment before it even begins. He tries using the badge to send a thought to Martella "We're being selected for a random inspection.".

Slain by the Spikes of a Manticore

Lollie slips her dulcimer off her shoulder and into her hands. Other than the instrument, she appears to be carrying nothing else. Garbed in a sheer semi-translucent white gown that covers everything, but conceals nothing, she gives a dry chuckle. "What do they think I might be smuggling?" she asks with a smirk.

"Do not worry." Comes a brief return message.

Indeed the 'random inspection' ends up being nothing of the sort, the guard leads you past the extremely long line and through a small side door into a plain room. She glances over each of you and then waves you onwards through another door.

"My name is Kathann Zalar and we have a common fried, who decided you were no use to her stuck in the line all night." She says. "Have a useful evening."

You head back out of the side room and ascend the hundred marble steps leading up into the senate hall proper. Waiting for you at the top of the stairs is Martella, who breaks out into a smile when she sees you all.

"Good evening My Lords, My Ladies. Before we go any further I wanted to lay out some objective for this evening. I'll leave it to you decide which one you'd like to undertake--whichever ones you don't choose, I'll see to personally."

"First, in addition to spies, I legitimately need a senatorial aide to provide a cover for the rest of you and to run communications between allied politicians. This will not be difficult, but it will be lengthy."

This will require either Escape Artist or combat maneuver checks to navigate the crowded senate building.

"Secondly, I'm interested in learning how the vote is going to turn out tonight. I need you to uncover the true dedication of two senators: Duke Centimus and Countess Abrielle Pace. Find out what their stance on primogeniture is, and the reasons why each noble holds that position."

This will require either Perception or Sense Motive checks.

"Third, I need to discredit a few prominent senators backing primogeniture--not necessarily to sway their votes, but to undercut their influence after the vote. I'll need you to identify one of the major opponents to the repeal, then either spread rumors about or manufacturing damning evidence on the fly."

This will require Sense Motive and either Bluff or Linguistics checks.

"Fourth, I need to maintain my web of influence in the high courts. To that end, I would like one of you to make a strong impression on Baron Nicolaus Okerra and remind him of certain debts he owes me. While Baron Okerra isn't a senator, his war record and general popularity make him an influential figure—one whose reputation helped sway a number of otherwise neutral votes tonight."

This will require socially influencing the baron or browbeating him with Intimidate checks.

"Fifth, a more personal mission. My brother Bartelby has contributed a large bottle of rare, 150-year-old red wine from family holdings in the Opparos province, now held in the senate's kitchen. I'd like one of you to use this putrefying agent to render the wine embarrassingly undrinkable. Be careful not to steal the bottle and to conceal any signs of tampering; it must be drunk at dinner and appear to be of terrible quality to achieve maximum humiliation." She gives a rather toothy smile.

This will require either Appraise or Knowledge (nobility) and Disable Device checks.

"Sixth, I need someone to keep tabs on my political rivals and update me if they change their tactics, most notably High Strategos Maxillar Pythareus. You'll need to stay close to the military commander, watching for unusual behavior or listening for snippets of conversation, and warn me if he takes any unusual actions, all while remaining unobtrusive."

This will require either Perception or Sense Motive checks, as well as either Disguise or Stealth checks.

"Lastly, someone I believe you are quite intimately acquainted with." She nods to Lucretia, "I need to further undermine the influence of Earl Calhadion Vernisant, his recent disgrace has been helpful but he remains ardently in favor of primogeniture and his persistence holds a considerable faction together. I would like to see some of the historical artifacts that the earl donated to the senate vanish from the Arcade of Triumphs before they are unveiled prior to the evening's vote. They come from his personal collection rather than being family heirlooms and I am not concerned with what you do with them - I only wish for their disappearance to further embarrass Vernisant and his allies."

This will require Sleight of Hand checks.

"I wish you all the best of luck." Martella says, "I will be in the senate gallery for much of the evening. Use the badges if you need to contact me."

|HP: 35/35| AC: 18 T:14 FF:14 | F: +4, R: +8, W: +4 | Init: +6 | Bluff +7, UMD +11 [(+d6) Dip +7, DD +13, Per/SM +11, Spl +11, Knw +7/8] | 1: 4/4, 2: 2/2 | Active conditions:

As Martella leaves a tall, and clean shaven, man emerges from the crowd. Without his mustache Caspian looks like a changed man, and it is greatly for the better.

"Come with me." He suggests, offering Lucretia his arm. "I'll show you around a little."

Map of the Senate

A1. Arcade of Triumphs

This entry gallery celebrates Taldor's abundant military and political glories. Banners and trophies line the halls of the arcade, some displayed openly while others rest behind intricate glass cases, while armor stands and display cases present countless artifacts belonging to great heroes and soldiers. A score of Taldan Phalanx troops stand at attention, acting as both ceremonial honor guards for the senate and guides to some of the military assets on display.

High Strategos Maxillar Pythareus is here, a muscular man in his early forties with weathered skin and close-cropped silver hair. He wears a blue-and-green tabard emblazoned with Taldor's official coat-of-arms. Also here are the five items donated by Earl Calhadion Vernisant for the night's ball--an elaborate silk fan, a brass spyglass, a leather journal, a fine buckler, and an ornate silver dagger.

A2. Courtyard

Breathtaking gardens surround the senate building. Catered patios segregated by short iron fences, coordinated military displays, and even a makeshift zoo of imported animals and magical beasts fill the few open spaces here, even including a small hive of bees busily pollinating the exotic flowers and making the honey used by the senate kitchens. Many of the senior nobles enjoy the breaks between ceremonies in this open space.

Lady Gloriana Morilla is here, sporting the finest of Absalom's fashion.

A3. Emperor's Hall

This gathering space before the senate chamber is set aside as the property of the emperor, and features countless statues and portraits of previous grand princes. While formally these chambers are for the use of the emperor, no grand prince has ever maintained an office within the senate building, and the space is understood to be public meeting rooms by silent agreement.

A4. Gallery

Note that this area doesn't appear on the map.

The second floor of the senate building acts as an observation deck to the events of the main floor, with offices for various senators lining the outer walls. This area of winding passageways is typically open to noble observers and senatorial aides. Much of the gallery is dedicated to entertaining the children of various nobles, with extravagant performances occurring throughout the upper balconies of the senate building.

Countess Abrielle Pace is here, dressed in ridiculously gauche noble clothing and fine jewelry. Also here is Wyssilka the Fantabulous, a halfling jester entertaining the children.

A5. Imperial Archives

The Imperial Archives could have been Golarion's greatest collection of transcribed knowledge, had any care been invested into its upkeep. Centuries of redirected funding and senate-sanctioned pruning of "sensitive information" has ruined the once immaculate reputation of the archives. This vast library now acts as a repository of haphazardly curated books, senate minutes, and genealogy records left open to the scrutiny of uncaring nobles. During the Grand Day of Exaltation, a host of rising aristocrats and aspiring courtiers here tout their knowledge of Taldan history.

Duke Leonard Centimus is here, a round-faced half-elf seated in an elaborate wheelchair.

A6. Senate Floor

Normally closed to non-senators, the vast, circular senate floor is open to special guests during the Grand Day of Exaltation, and myriad would-be nobles take the opportunity to duck in and live out a few moments of power fantasy, issuing mock legislation or engaging in lively debates.

Baron Nicolaus Okerra is here, a handsome man standing a head taller than the rest of the crowd. Also here is Kalbio of Breezy Creek, the intended recipient of the noble elevation from Grand Prince Stavian. He uncomfortably wears clothing of noble finery, constantly fidgeting with the cuffs or scratching at his neck.

A7. Servant Area

While several hidden corridors crisscross the senate building, allowing servants to come and go without disturbing the assembled politicians, this area houses most of the storerooms, workshops, and kitchens where the building's small army of servants bustle around to maintain the facade of opulence. Even this area, never meant for noble eyes, is of exceptional quality, though the gilt has worn thin on most corners, and here and there cheap repairs mar artistic furniture.

Each of the people of import are currently predisposed with sycophants and senatorial matters, considering the coming deliberation. You'll have to wait to try to influence them, but in the meantime, you can do your best to work the crowd.

A PC can attempt an appropriate skill check with a set DC for one of the areas of the senate, hobnobbing and impressing the general crowd in that area. Each area has two thresholds, which represent levels of influence over that area. Every point by which the PC's result on one of these skill checks exceeds the DC is added to a pool of points specific to that area. When the number of points earned by the party as a whole exceeds the threshold of an area, then the GM provides the PCs with the information and story award associated with that area's threshold value.

You can each make one check now. These are the skills associated with each area:

A1. Appraise, Knowledge (history) or (nobility), Perception, Spellcraft, or Use Magic Device.
A2. Handle Animal, Knowledge (engineering, local, or nature), or Perform (keyboard, percussion, sing, string, or wind).
A4. Acrobatics, Disguise, Perform (act, comedy, or dance), or Sleight of Hand.
A5. Knowledge (arcana, geography, or history), Linguistics, Profession (librarian or scribe), or Stealth.
A6. Bluff, Knowledge (local, nobility, or religion), Perform (oratory), Profession (clerk or barrister), or Sense Motive.
A7. Craft (alchemy, carpentry, jewelry, sculpture, or stonemasonry), Heal, Intimidate, Profession (baker, butcher, cook, innkeeper, or porter), or Sense Motive.

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance

Earlier, in Line...

As the group waits in the interminable line to get into the Senate, Victor sidles up next to Shulamit. "So, Shula, do you always work for Lady Lotheed? I am curious what it is you do when you are not performing tasks for her."



When Martella outlines the various missions she has for the group, Victor volunteers to perform the aide duties. "I would be happy to navigate the crowds to deliver your missives, Lady Lotheed. And it would allow me to avoid having to directly engage in small talk with anybody for a while, which I appreciate."

As the gala gets underway, Victor makes his way to the gallery. He puts the hood of his cloak up as he blends into the crowd, hoping none of the usual sycophants will recognize him as he surveys the chamber from above.

Disguise: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12

Female CN Ifrit Slayer (Velvet Blade) 5 | HP 23/39 | AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 vs traps) | CMB +7, CMD 21 | Fort +6, Ref +9 (+1 vs traps), Will +2 | Initiative +8 (+2 Urban) | Perception: +8 (+1 vs traps) (+2 Urban) | Speed 30 ft. | Active Conditions: None

Earlier, In Line:

"Study, mostly." Shula smiles at Victor. "Until recently I lived in Karakuru, and am relatively unfamiliar with the political scene here in Oppara. In exchange for a few favors Lady Lotheed is graciously sponsoring me while I learn. You know how it goes." She waves a hand airily. "A friend of a friend of a cousin knows a promising young woman and makes the proper introductions."

Sense Motive DC15:
Bluff: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15

Although she's taken steps to improve it, there's still a hint of the streets in Shula's accent. It's more likely she's from Oppara itself, and one of the poorer districts.


Shula is immensely relieved when the 'random inspection' turns out to have been planned. No pat-downs means no awkward attempts to explain away some of her more unusual equipment. "Thank you, Ms. Zalar." She memorizes the woman's face. It's always good to know who your allies are. "Have a pleasant evening yourself."

Her eyebrows raise slightly as Martella lays out her suggested missions. Ah, so that's why she wanted me here. Most of them do indeed fall under 'the usual range of tasks,' but thievery? Sabotage? Those are what she pays Shula for.

Although interestingly she seems to be directing the thievery part towards Lucretia. An 'intimate acquaintance'? Would the other woman be interested in personally embarrassing the earl? Best not to step on any toes if so. Not when there's at least one other task suited to Shula's skillset.

"I do enjoy a good prank." She offers a conspiratorial grin. "I'll take care of the wine, even if it is a bit of a shame to ruin such a valuable vintage." She holds out her hand for the putrefying agent and slips it into her belt pouch.

As the tour concludes, Shula offers the others one last smile and disappears into the kitchens. In addition to the wine she's now promised to sabotage, servants always know everything about what's going on at events like this. The sooner she can get a few of them on her side, the better.

She looks around for anyone seeming particularly disgruntled, (and thus likely willing to gossip to a sympathetic ear).

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance


Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16

"Interesting. I would have guessed you from the city, based on your accent. The Narrows, unless I miss my guess," Victor says to Shula. "I hear there are a lot of unsavory characters dwelling in that district. You wouldn't happen to be familiar with any of them, would you?"

Female CN Ifrit Slayer (Velvet Blade) 5 | HP 23/39 | AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 vs traps) | CMB +7, CMD 21 | Fort +6, Ref +9 (+1 vs traps), Will +2 | Initiative +8 (+2 Urban) | Perception: +8 (+1 vs traps) (+2 Urban) | Speed 30 ft. | Active Conditions: None

Earlier, In Line

Shula's smile slips. "I'm quite certain I don't know what you're talking about. Surely you don't think Lady Lotheed would associate herself with any such...unsavory characters?"

Shula resists the urge to rub her arms nervously. While she's still putting on the act for the sake of any casual eavesdroppers, it's clear Victor's touched a nerve. (The fact that Leona is staring at her with unblinking eyes doesn't help. Odd, that cat seems almost familiar somehow...)

Time to counterattack. "It's strange to me that you believe yourself capable of recognizing a Narrows accent. I wouldn't think a Stavian ever had reason to venture to that district." She arches an eyebrow. "Perhaps you're the one with some connections there?"

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance


"The Stavians are the governing house of Taldor, and thus Oppara as well. My parents subjected me to endless lessons so that I would know all about the city and its citizens, including how to recognize accents and elocution patterns from all of the City of Empire's districts," Victor says with a shrug. "Of late, though, I have heard fanciful stories about some vengeful woman of Ulfen descent trying to clean up the streets of the Narrows. I was merely curious if you could confirm or deny those tales."

Bluff: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19

Sense Motive DC 19:
Victor's interest seems more than just mere curiosity. He is also watching Shula closely to gauge her reaction.

Female CN Ifrit Slayer (Velvet Blade) 5 | HP 23/39 | AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 vs traps) | CMB +7, CMD 21 | Fort +6, Ref +9 (+1 vs traps), Will +2 | Initiative +8 (+2 Urban) | Perception: +8 (+1 vs traps) (+2 Urban) | Speed 30 ft. | Active Conditions: None

"I see. It's good to hear that the Stavians care for all their citizens, and not just those in wealthier districts." She pastes a smile back onto her face, but her eyes keep flickering between Victor and Leona. "Unfortunately I can't confirm anything about an Ulfen woman in the Narrows. You say there are rumors she's cleaning up the place? A daunting but noble task no doubt."

Sense Motive, ST: 1d20 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 4 + 1 = 20

Sense Motive DC14:
Bluff, ST: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 6 + 1 = 14

Not only is Shula lying about the Ulfen woman, she's definitely come to some sort of conclusion about Leona that she doesn't like.

Victor Specifically:

You doubt she knows of your secret identify, (how could she), but it looks like she now suspects you and the Shield Maiden are connected.

Male Human Vigilante (Magical Child) 4 | HP: 13/35| AC: 21, T:13, FF:18 | CMD: 18 | CMB: +6| Fort: +4 Ref: +7 Will: +6; +2 vs charm, compulsion, poison; -1 vs fear | Init: +3 | Perception: +1 | Spells 2/2; 4/4 | Appearance


Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17

"No doubt," Victor says in agreement. He turns back to the line of nobles in front of him. "Well, Miss Shulamit, I trust that you'll make full employ of the skills in your possession tonight. We must all of us work together to achieve Lady Lotheed's goals."

Leona licks her paw and rubs it over her the fur around her neck before turning her back on Shula.

Slain by the Spikes of a Manticore

Surveying the battle field, Lollia sets her eye on the courtyard. "I'll start there," she says, gesturing to the open area.

Strolling casually through the assembled power-players, everything the Lady Bisque has been teaching her comes to the forefront of her mind. Watching to see who's watching whom. Who's speaking to whom. Who is standing alone. But now is not the time for subtle questions or hidden meanings. Now is the time to simply do what comes naturally.

She finds a marble bench in the middle of the courtyard and settles her instrument in her lap. With slow strums, she begins to play a subtle and soft melody. Not interested in overriding any nearby conversations, her intent is to add to the ambiance.

And to center herself.

Perform (stringed instrument): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (12) + 12 = 24

Grand Lodge

M CG Human (Taldan) Cleric (Cardinal) 4 | HP: 27/27 | AC: 14, T: 12, FF: 12 | CMB: +2, CMD: 14 | F: +6, R: +2, W: +8 | Init: +2 | Perc: +11, SM: +10 | Speed 30ft | Copycat: 5/6 | Channel Energy: 5/5 | Facets: Subterfuge (1), Genius (1), Sagacity (2), Charm (1) | Agents: 10 | Active conditions: copycat

Robert is extremely relieved to see that it was all a ruse by lady Martella. Now this is a resourceful one!, he thought in admiration. Of course he means to learn from her.

The young man listens carefully at the explanation of duties. As the missions are stated, Robert is amused by the amount of things she thought of. He holds his emotions as she states the mission he really cares about. It makes him think hard about the lady and how much she knows. He decides to keep an eye on her.

After the tour, Robert thanks Caspian and says "I think I'll stay in the Arcade. I'll be scouting Pythareus and would like to have a reason to be there. I might as well take a look at the relics. I don't have fast hands, but I can provide aid for whoever is going to attempt it."

I'll go with Perception in A1. In the meantime, I'll learn something of the relics.

Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21


"Oh, well cousin, now don't get too far ahead of yourself. Perhaps let's focus on what is at hand. Oh, look - there's our disgraced Uncle entering the Gala, bypassing the line. We should be able to do that as well, no?" Lucretia says, changing the subject quickly.

Thanking Martella, a sly smile raises Lucretia's lips. "Please if anyone here is able to borrow any of these items from my Uncle, I would also be in your debt. To further disgrace him, is to make my life more enriched, and if I could keep hold of one of those heirlooms I am deserved, then so much the better. I have a feeling I am not the best person for that job, however. I will stay well clear."


Lucretia watches where everyone else disbands to before she takes her pick. Seeing that no-one found the archives to be a priority yet, she heads there first to try and find some supporters or nay-sayers to primogeniture.

Kn History: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18

Entering the room with purpose, she examines the situation, glancing at the collections out on display whilst weaving her way towards the Duke who she recognises from a previous social gathering, trying not to make an obvious bee-line to be caught out.

"Duke Centimus, how lovely to meet you again. I believe the last time we spoke, we had a fascinating debate about the starts of the Qadiran-Taldoran disagreements. How are you faring this evening?"

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