A major chunk of Book 5 is about King Irovetti invading the PC's kingdom. Invading the kingdom would be a heck of a lot easier if all of the PCs were A) dead, or B) imprisoned in Pitax.
So given that Irovetti has successfully lured the PCs to his kingdom to participate in the Rushlight Festival, why does he let them leave?
Because he doesn't have vast armies sitting at the Rushlight Tournament to aid him, and he's not confident in his ability to take them on personally.
There's also the issue of how other kingdoms might react to diplomats being killed or captured at the festival. Irovetti might suddenly find himself facing multiple wars from people unwilling to support this kind of behaviour.
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In my campaign, ran about 4 years ago, I justified his lack of actions in a bit of a complex way.
First of all, I wanted to string the campaign together in a much more fluid way and introduced (a non-wererat) Gaetane as a recurring villain. He was a member of an attempted assassination. He was present at the siege of Drelev. Finally, he was the archer of Pitax at the Rushlight. So when the PCs arrived, they immediately warned everyone of Gaetane's past. They told Irrovetti that although he would not come to harm during the festival, when the festivities ended, he was once again considered an enemy BUT the PCs expressed that during the festival they wouldn't attempt to kill him.
I considered Irovetti's ongoing strife with Mivon and how the other nations would view him just attacking another settlement. Mivon would surely side with the PCs kingdom and it would spell out his demise. So when the PCs threatened Gaetane, Irrovetti saw his opportunity. After the archer competition, Gaetane was mysteriously missing.
What had happened was that Irrovetti called him into his tent and promised him wealth beyond what he was already due. Irrovetti slit Gaetane's throat and removed his head.
Once the PCs won the tournament, a great feast was held. Irrovettis table was served first (surprisingly I still have the speech written, so here it is:)
Servers bearing silver domed platters enter the coliseum. The first of which goes to King Castruccio Irrovetti. The server removes the lid and a breath of steam exhales from under the lid.
::Kicks the table over to the amazement of all watching as Gaetane's head rolls from the platter of liver with a whole apple in his mouth::
How dare you Talistrynians come to MY kingdom under an invitation of peace and prosperity and let your petty gripes get the best of you!?
You were given one order upon arrival. The bitter hate you have for my kinsman was to be abated while on these grounds. You were to act in a peaceful and noble manner. I GRACEOUSLY offered to extradite this individual to your lands to face punishment for his crimes and yet you refused my kindly act of peace. After refusing this gesture, I was even told by the Councilor of Foreign Affairs of Talistryn, Connor Shannow “ I give you my word, no harm will come to Gaetane Fallvarrow until the Rushlight is over, but I give you my word he will die.”
Has the sun set on the sixth day? Has the Rushlight yet concluded?!
Our final day of peace and celebration has been salted by your disgusting acts and lack of brotherhood.
You have your awards, I am a KING and, UNLIKE YOU, I will keep my word and grant the petty monetary prize to the winners of the Rushlight Festival. But ALL witnesses shall remember: the dishonorable killing of one of my kinsmen on grounds held sacred and peaceful for the past 11 years are intolerable and there will be consequences.
You have disgraced the peace treaty of The Rushlight Tournament,
You have disgraced my Kingdom as well as ALL the River Kingdoms.
You have, MOST OF ALL, shown the true colors of your creed and homeland.
You have 1 hour to be beyond the boundary of MY Kingdom. YOU have acted in a MOST dishonorable way and YOU have been the aggressors. If this is the way you deal with your neighbors, you are UNFIT TO RULE. Let all present at the Rushlight, witness that YOU have started the war that will be at your door!
The PCs were broadside. The paladin in the group shook his head and just said "Wow, he really got the best of us." It was one of my more proud GMing moments and it really transitioned all the hate from Gaetane right to Irovetti. Now, don't be mistaken, Irovetti resurrected Gaetane... but it couldn't have gone better and the PCs loved both the vicotories they eventually had.
So, what you CAN do. Switch my speech somehow. Give Irovetti reason to look noble but betrayed by the PCs. Perhaps rumors rise during the fest of someone stealing something from the King. Perhaps then Irovetti calls them into his tent and has a meeting with them and once he is "friendly and convinced" he shares some drink and stories with them. Perhaps the item is found on the PCs during the festival....
Here is the thing: Figure out what Irovetti wants, then find a way for him to get it as a byproduct of justified actions witnessed by the entirety of the River Kingdoms.
Irovetti wants to expand his borders. In fact, Irovetti probably wants to be the first King of United River Kingdoms. His problem, again, is his ongoing war with Mivon. Luckily a new and seemingly weak Kingdom has just arose. If he was to bring that Kingdom into his fold, he could easily topple Mivon and then the rest of the River Kingdoms would bend the knee or fall. He just needs to justify taking their kingdom...
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In my game the Rushlight Festival was an actual diplomatic event, where Irovetti was trying to take the measure of his neighbours.
However, I conspired with a player by giving her a cursed hat of charisma, that also convinced her Irovetti murdered her true love and she should seek revenge.
So she attempted to assassinate Irovetti, which provided him with casus beli to invade the PC's kingdom.
It added a mystery to the heart of the campaign (as the player's character disappeared and she played her back-up character for the majority of the book, she was later found assisting the rebel underground in Pitax).
In my game the cause of the war was one of the Guildmasters who wanted to see the PCs kill Irovetti so she could swoop in and re-instate Guild Rule of Pitax. Unaware that Irovetti had been stockpiling clockwork automata in the Castle of Knives, which was planning to invade the First World with and fight Nyrissa himself.
In my campaign (of which I'm just at the end of book 5) I scrapped the tournament and instead had Irovetti attack because the PC's had just taken some of his land. (Fort Drelev was a Vassal state of Pitax).
He had other reasons as well, but the PC's claiming Fort Drelev and the lands around it was his justification.
But if you're running a more complex game, listen to Dudemeister for he is a genius.
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