Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Where are they now? - Part 2 - The Justinians

Continuing on the updates to our campaign based on teh time that has passed since we last played, it's time to look at some of the main Non-player Characters from events to date, the significant members of House Justinian on Ravenna.

The Ravenna Justinians are currently a torn and fractious House. Not only are they dealing with the wider conflict within the House between the old guard and the youth but the two most senior members of the House are now in increasing open conflict. 

Earl Kiruda Quentin Justinian
The Earl is still feeling the pressure and reputation damage caused to his House by the whole Arcadia affair. The fact that the Decados were involved helped mitigate a lot of the damage and restore some of the Justinian's reputation with the Hawkwoods although it was replaced with a certain amount of pity (those poor little minor house nobles, easily deceived by those nefarious Decados swine....).  As a proud man this has galled him no end but he has redirected a lot of his frustration towards his rivalry with Baron Tochiro. Taking care to not act overtly against the Baron he has however supported the Orthodoxy in their investigations (based around the notebook Hemlock provided) and relished every awkwardness and difficulty this has caused.
A lot of the rest of Kiruda's time is spent hosting and carousing Hawkwoods and local representatives of other noble Houses in an attempt to recover some of the House's reputation, a role he pretty much despises. He officially defends the Hawkwood claim of the Midden Barony but has done little to impose or support it other than a few official letters sent to Sir Tarquin. It seems that he has a certain admiration for the boy and not taking a stronger line is both preventing the true restoration of Justinian reputation and plays into Tochiro's hands.
Some close to the Earl (and the Hawkwood courtly gossips) also express concern that his health may be beginning to fail and the pressures of recent years are taking their toll...

Baroness Helena Midden Justinian
Few have seen or heard of the Baroness since her arrest and internment in Suryada. It is said that Kiruda is occasionally permitted to visit her but that is unsubstantiated.  He has certainly not been successful in negotiating her release, if she still lives.

General Sir Anthony Masseri Justinian
The General's social popularity rapidly waned, as did the Hawkwood appetite for the cost of keeping him under house arrest. Therefore when his daughter Stephanie Hawkwood appealed for him to be released to her custody he was swiftly sent packing back to Deepcore 104.  He has now reverted to the same existence he had under Baroness Helena; hunting, drinking and entertaining his cronies at the expense of his family while seemingly blissfully unaware of the events that surround him.

Sir Tarquin Midden Justinian
The young knight has retained regency of his mother's fief, in opposition to the demands of the Hawkwood authorities. While he might have the unofficial support of Earl Kiruda he is in a delicate position. His sister, Stephanie, has been charged with reclaiming his lands for the Hawkwoods but her lack of resources and military experience have rapidly led to a stalemate.  However this is a situation that at present the authorities of House Hawkwood seem happy to leave as is. In recent months Stephanie has changed tack to seeking a more bureaucratic solution and the Reeves are profiting greatly from the legal challenges that have ensued.
Tarquin himself has proven to be a kind and gracious ruler, concerned primarily with the lives and well being of his people, and he is loved by them for it. Many peasants dare to mumble that he is a great improvement on his mother and they have proven in the past that they would protect him with their lives.

Lady Stephanie Justinian Hawkwood
Stephanie adores being lady of the manor and it would be absolutely perfect if it wasn't for her troublesome brother...but at least her adorable Daddykins is home with her where he belongs. If only the Hawkwoods would take her seriously. Perhaps if she was wed again that might help...Baron Cuthbert Hawkwood is now eligible....

Baron Tochiro Justinian
Hemlock's father is seemingly under pressure from all sides, and may be all the more dangerous because of it. Like a cornered animal he is at risk of taking drastic and deliberate action to protect himself or punish those he sees as his foes.
His main adversary at present is the local Orthodox Church. The notebook discovered by Sir Hemlock implicated Tochiro in a long running black market tech and artefact operation, a possibility that had ben suggested and gossiped of for sometime (and was feared by elements of the church) but this appears to be damning evidence. That being said the Baron has tried to discredit the source (his own son) pointing to his lack of stability, wayward nature and the emotional damage caused by his childhood trauma. While the church is actively pursuing investigations and prosecutions against him he still entertains the support of the ruling Hawkwoods (many of whom openly prefer him to Earl Kiruda) and hence there have been significant "administrative delays" which have beset and hampered the church's activities. It might also be suggested that any technology that came from Tochiro's operation was sold somewhere and so there will be a number of his customers who may be helping to prevent accusations and evidence from coming to light...
The Baron's other key adversary is the Earl himself. Whilst never friends Tochiro has become increasingly open in his criticism and hostility towards Kiruda.  It appears that Tochiro feels that one of the best ways to protect himself would be to finally wrest control of the Ravenna Justinians from his liege. While still stepping carefully he is moving his pieces into play and many expect his final moves to come soon. With allies in two royals houses (Hawkwood and Al Malik) and deep Guild connections (even if cast under a shadow based on the notebook's revelations) the baron is not without powerful friends.

Baroness Emeraldas Al Malik Justinian
As enchanting as ever in public some say that a certain melancholy has entered the attitude of the demure and beautiful Baroness. Many speculate it is her husband's woes, others that she mourns her wastrel, broken shell of a son. Whatever the reason she puts up a fabulous front but the most perceptive of onlookers note that there is "something"...
As ever she remains an advocate for her husband, smoothing tensions and social engagements when his "plain speaking" and the rumours of his back handed dealings can cause "difficulties". She is also doing a great deal of work with the Sanctuary Aeon, donating significant amounts for a new hospital complex and organising fundraising events for the sect's Austrum relief effort.  Such work has taken her increasingly off world but when visiting Ravenna she is always seen to be supporting her husband at least once or twice...

Master Alfredo Garcia
Tochiro's master of the household met with an unfortunate accident while checking an air pumping unit on the edge of the central chasm of Deepcore 104.  No body was found an he left no immediate descendants.

Baroness Phillipa "Peppa" Abalone Justinian
The Baroness never really recovered from the shock of witnessing the death of Baron Christopher Hawkwood. She was too frail to be moved from the Midden Barony, especially as the troubles erupted as Tarquin tried to retake his family domain, and so she slowly declined and passed away there. Lady Stephanie graciously agreed to a brief respite in border fighting t accept her body to be interred in the family mausoleum within what was the Barony of Abalone.

Baron Turmeric Justinian
Tumeric remains in a holding position. He considers Tarquin an ally but is distrustful and disdainful of Stephanie "A viper at my very door", he has been known to say. He is also critical of both Tochiro and Kiruda as he sees them both as staid members of the "old guard" of the Justinians. However some believe that recent visits from representatives of the Al Malik may be a on behalf of Baron Tochiro seeking to win his ear and support.

Baron Samuel Justinian
Samuel has spent recent years still holed up in his library.  He is rarely seen "in the season" or at court and is content to let the larger universe pass by.  However due to the bureaucratic interference that the church has encountered in it's investigations into Baron Tochiro, Earl Kiruda stepped in to suggest that Samuel might be of some assistance.  A task (and recognition) he actually relished.  A number of inquisitorial agents and scribes are now hard at work, pouring through the Barons copious archival records looking for further evidence of Tochiro's tech heresy.

Lady Saffron Justinian
The Lady Saffron retains her stewardship of her master's lands in Crofters Holt. While the men-at-arms of Crofters Holt never assisted the Midden Barony in it's skirmishes against Lady Stephanie's forces a number of well trained and disciplined mercenaries offered their services to Sir Tarquin for no charge other than meal and board while Saffron's men were strangely absent hunting Snarks in the north reaches...

Monday, 4 December 2017

Where are they now? - Part 1 - the Hawkwoods

It is almost twenty months since the last time I ran Fading Suns... When we last played we left Keats, Mal and De Havilland with the crew of Corteaz' Charioteer Guild ship as they set out from the Known Worlds to Lost Worlds, beyond the mapped jump routes, there to find new life and new civilisations (and exploit them for profit and glory....). While Hasimir remained on Ravenna as steward for De Havilland's fief on the war torn Austrum Islands.

Fading Suns is never truely far from my mind and lately there have been a few topical triggers that have brought it to the forefront. One of which being the activity around the new edition.  In almost thiry fve years of gaming "The Trials and Tribulations of Dame Arcadia Justinian" remains one of my favourite ever RPG campaigns and I hold the cast and story we created very dear.  

The story, as I originally intended to take it from where we left off, will never be run. For personal reasons there are concepts, characters and plots that I wouldn't use now, or at least don't feel able to use as I had planned.  That is not to say I wouldn't play a sequel game, just that it will be far from my original plan, and probably for the better. 

Thus I decided to engage in a little "thought exercise". What were the fates of our cast since we saw them last?  I'm winding the clock forward about two years from our last adventure and will start with a review of some of our supporting cast...

Planetary Duke Cassius Hawkwood
The duke has always placed Ravenna first, even to the perceived detriment of his House as a whole. Tradition is everything and there are right and proper ways to do things. Unfortunately this position of following the appropriate ways and all will be well is being tested to the limit.  The conflict in the Austrum Islands has reached a tipping point with old allegiances and favours being called in from both sides. More and more off world eyes are being drawn to events in the otherwise peaceful world as many nobles from other systems come to support the warring factions due to ancient fealty or modern opportunism.  Leading to an increased focus and pressure on the Duke to act to resolve the matter in some way...

Sir Bedevere Hawkwood
Bedevere remained a captive aboard The Questionable Intent, but as an "honoured guest" rather than a prisoner of pirates until his family agreed on a suitable "recovery fee and administration costs" (i.e. ransom...), as is the custom with the Nobility and their naval conflicts.  As it stood though the Decados set a very low fee; enough to follow form and not cause insult to the status of the knight or his command, but trivial enough that either it was a sign of good faith, that they wanted a swift end of the matter or that they will expect a favour in return at a future time...
Since then Bedevere as remained a dutiful knight.  He continues to primarily serve in space and may be about to be promoted to the command of a larger vessel. If the players opened up the gate to Twilight he will have been charged with escorting vessels into "barbarian space" and possibly could be involved with blockading the gate to prevent "heretical corruption" spreading to Ravenna.

Countess Cassandra Hawkwood
The war swiftly turned on the Countess.  Her Justinian allies largely abandoned her, turning their attention back to the internal strife in their own House. Her people lacked military strength (beyond her efficient wet-navy) and the air cavalry of her Trusnikron allies could only do so much. Saboteurs and commando forces from the West destroyed key canals and logistical targets and things looked bleak. What happened next is unclear but it is believed that while Cassandra is no military expert she is both tenacious and have the courage of her convictions.  Although she probably despised doing so it is thought that she got word to her cousin, one who considered her a personal favourite; none other than the Emperor himself.  While he has not officially intervened in the months since, a steady stream of young Errant Knights, keen for glory or recognition (and perhaps seeking the favour of the Emperor or a seat as one of his Phoenix Knights) has arrived on the shores of the islands, offering Casandra their swords.  This small but growing, eclectic, force is hard to command and full of eager, glory hunting young turks and idealists.  While they have not turned the tide by any means they have held the line and prevented the West's victory (for now). Meanwhile Cassandra herself, bolstered by this support, seems to become more determined by the day...

Count Otto Kierkagaard Hawkwood
The Count saw victory in his grasp, and had the support of the Orthodoxy and the tacit approval of his House on Ravenna and the Duchal court....and then all these off-world knights started to interfere.  He has protested and scowled and shouted.  Raged against the indignity of it all and tried to bring down the weight of authority upon them...but to no avail.  He is an efficient soldier but when it comes to the social graces he is short tempered, rude and boorish. While making the matter of the ownership of the islands an informal family dispute worked for him initially, now that he wants outside support and legal aid he finds he lacks the support he needs without making the war an "open conflict". Thus he has turned his fury against his sister.  He is driving up the production and militarisation of his forces, pilling on more and more pressure and digging deep into his coffers to do so.  The impact on his once idyllic lands and peaceful people may be irreversible.

Baron Cuthbert Mountbatten Hawkwood
Young Cuthbert is growing nicely into the landed gentry he was forced by circumstance into being. He is learning to steward his fief well and taking good counsel from the staff he inherited from his deceased brother. It is suggested at court that he will soon look to take a wife and a number of eligible suitors are already being suggested by the gossip columns of the Local Town Criers.