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Davinos’ Complaint, Revised Editionby Ville Lähde
Unlike the previous parts of the series, this is a new scenario drawn up especially for this new series and adapted to the material in the main city book. This scenario is also deeply indebted to the Grand Duchy of Karameikos Gazetteer. It is a redraft of the scenario scheme “Davinos’ Complaint” (page 17–18), combined with elements of “the Sins of Valdo Tisza”. Out of respect for the product, I urge prospective GMs to look up details of the Open Court, Karameikan political system in general and several important factions in play from the original source, rather than repeat them here. The Gazetteer offers an engaging context for adventures both heroic and mundane. However, the original scheme for Davinos’ Complaint is somewhat linear and simplistic, and this is an attempt to flesh it out for a more creative and free form of play, so the GM doesn’t have to do all the work her/himself. It is not necessary to play the previous part of the series before, but I have written this scenario so that it takes advantage of the narrative resources created by the earlier parts (Sir Lucius, Stavros, Vladimir, perhaps Volodnja).
This scenario introduces the political life and the system of politics of Specularum to the PCs. The most important elements involved are: 1) The Court and Government of Duke Stefan; 2) The important political factions; 3) The Veiled Society (part of the Radu faction of course; 4) Oderbry’s extremists; 5) Traladaran resistance movements
The Court and the Government
These are detailed in the Gazetteer. In this adventure it is useful to pay attention to the differing loyalties and influences, especially: A) Lord Zogrev Yarol, Minister of State, who is a key figure in the process of Open Court (see Gaz 1) and close ties to the Torenescu faction. B) Lord Valdo Tisza, Minister of Finance, to whose purview Davinos’ matter falls and who is a somewhat careless defender of the Traladaran cause. C) Baron Philip Vorloi, who is an influential figure and has many contacts and friends in the government (including Admiral Hyraksos). He is sure to oppose Davinos’ Complaint. D) And of course our indecisive Duke, who tries to walk the tightrope of national integration.
The political factions
The political scene of Specularum is dominated (in addition to the Duke’s court) by three powerful factions or interest groups, which focus on the Traladaran families of Radu, Torenescu and Vorloi. In this affair all three are on a collision course, although the Radu faction seems to stay on the sidelines. In truth, the Radus are the most active and are covered in the next section. Still, if Davinos’ Complaint succeeds, they would still gain something (just not enough, they think).
The Torenescus are weaker than they used to be due to the recent death of Christoph (see Part II for suggestions for handling this) and the unseen tension between Alexander and Boris. However, in this case Boris is content to watch and hope that the young upstart succeeds, since in the end (he hopes) that would add to his power. Alexander wants to protect Davinos from harm and help his cause. He has however decided to act through proxies, so as not to erode Davinos’ credibility, and he uses his important street contact Lord Dmitros.
The rich Thyatian merchants and landowners rally around Vorloi and oppose Davinos’ Complaint, since it would interfere with their business directly or indirectly. Some of them may see this also in the terms of Thyatian supremacy, but these motives are not that strong for them. As I mentioned previously, they have powerful friends in the court and the government – the scene is after all dominated by Thyatians.
The Veiled Society
Through their secret army the Radus intend to use this opportunity in two ways: first of all they want to force more concessions from Duke by manipulating public opinion, and secondly they want to incite unrest and direct it against their (mainly Thyatian) opponents in the Merchants’ Guild. Stavros’s cell is given this job, either because they succeeded so well in the previous plan (see Part II) or as a final opportunity to redeem themselves. In the latter case, failure would certainly mean that Stavros is made a public example himself.
Just like in Part II, Sir Lucius will be the public face of intolerance (unless you managed to get him killed) on the streets, but Alfric Oderbry will take a more active role in the events by making speeches and holding inflammatory sermons, especially as the false rumours about Davinos spread. The fact that Davinos complains about the actions of high-level Griffon knights fuels the aggro.
Traladaran resistance movements
This is another good opportunity to use Vladimir, the leader of the group “Spring Flood”, which will be central in the final part of this series, “The War Conceived”. Or the GM may wish to use Lady Magda or other figures from the Gazetteer. In any case, Davinos is the perfect tool for recruiting new members and raising awareness. Vladimir is not ready to put his plans in action, so he wants to keep everything fairly calm and mainly just show that radical action is needed, not working through the corrupt channels. He wants to enlist Davinos’ help for this. As the agents of Veiled Society are fomenting open revolt, this may sound like a better option for poor confused Davinos.
Like the Gazetteer tells us, Davinos is a man from Kelven who harbours some grievances about old injustices. His family used to be wealthy, but when he was a small child he witnessed the Karameikan overlords, in this case the Order of Griffon, seize their lands and turn them into an abbey. This happened to most of the Traladaran nobility and wealthy landowners, merchants and businessmen in the largest settlements of the country. The Traladaran elite of Specularum had of course been wrecked many decades earlier due to the original invasion, but until now the rest of the country had enjoyed relative peace from the Thyatians. So he has come to the capital to address the Duke in Open Court. Davinos has used all his money to come here and rent lodgings.
As the description of the process of Open Court states (Gaz 1, 30), Davinos has to endure a lot of red tape to get to address the Duke. Ministers Yarol and Tisza (latter in advisory capacity) finally set the date for is audience. But by this time the important parties (Torenescus, Vorlois, Radus) are well aware of what is coming. All lay out their plans. The adventure begins a few days before Davinos’ audience.
The PCs are contacted by Lord Dmitros, who wants to hire them to do a job for “his lord”. They get a good down payment and are promised a handsome wage if they succeed. Dmitros will not disclose the identity of his master. The job is simple: they are to introduce themselves to Davinos and protect him from any and all harm until his complaint is resolved. Dmitros does not know the exact details of the complaint, but he surmises that many Thyatians will not like it, and there has been a lot of trouble in the city in the recent months.
Davinos lives in a low-level inn “the Graceful Swan” [I chose this from the city map draft] in the northern part of Old Quarter, near Church Alley, west of the statue of Ban Bogdan Ivanovich [That is, if we use the proposed location I gave on the forum. The exact location is not important.] If the PCs propose that he change location, he is against it, as the officials must be able to reach him, if he is needed for additional interviews etc.
Things stay quiet until the day of the Open Court. Davinos makes his complaint in a very eloquent way, and the Duke announces that he will make his decision public in two weeks, in the next Open Court. If the PCs are inquisitive, they can notice that someone is keeping an eye on Davinos (a member of Stavros’s crew), and that there is a lot of whispering and muttering among the different factions. They may even learn something about the attitudes of different factions. Remember: the Radus act as if they support Davinos’ Complaint, but they keep away from an active stance, like the Torenescus. The Vorlois on the other hand are very vocal in their opposition.
In the next stage Stavros’s demagogues begin to spread false rumours about Davinos’ Complaint, as explained in the Gazetteer. They want to heighten the expectations of the Traladara and lay ground for open demands for radical economic reform. As the days go buy, these demands grow even more vocal, and some Thyatian merchants and businessmen are hassled. This evokes a reaction from Alfric Oderbry (see above) and especially from Sir Lucius. He gathers a few of his trusted followers and attacks Davinos and anyone protecting him. Remember: Sir Lucius does not want to kill Davinos, he only wants to teach him a lesson. But if things get tough, someone may well die. If it happens to be Davinos, this scenario must be adapted, but it is not a disaster for you. There is still a lot to work with. It is much better to make the players see that their actions, inaction, success and failure (and wild contingency) actually affect the outcome.
Note that the conservative actors in the Church of Karameikos are not likely to stay passive. Jowett may contact Nikelnyevich et cetera. But Oderbry will constantly work against them. Sir Lucius will continue the harassment if Davinos stays in the public eye, unless Lucius is publicly reprimanded.
It is possible that Minister Yarol will try to contact Davinos and inquire about the rumours. He wants to know if Davinos is responsible for spreading them.
As Davinos’ reputation grows (see the Gazetteer) and the agents of the Veiled Society manage to inflame the population, Vladimir will try to contact Davinos. He proposes a public rally that would on the other hand quell the sentiments of the people but also keep their eye on the ball – the cause of the downtrodden Traladara. Once again Vladimir wants to use the statue of Ban Bogdan Ivanovich (see Part II) as a rallying point. The Veiled Society will use this opportunity to try and assassinate Davinos. Note: the assassin will be a hired expert, not connected to Stavros (perhaps Volodnja from the previous scenario). There may be even a couple of decoys: hired Thyatian bullies who shout Oderbyite slogans. However, Stavros’ men will be there to take advantage of the public uproar – if Davinos is indeed killed – and cause attacks on Thyatian businesses. Vladimir will try to stop this. If the assassination fails, the Veiled Society will not try it again unless a very good opportunity arises, but they are bound to try to kill anyone who stood in their way (the PCs). Stavros is again given the job. Note: Even if Davinos refuses to join the rally, the assassin will strike at some other point.
If Davinos is killed, the agents of the Veiled Society will try to blame Sir Lucius, and many come to the same conclusion on their own. This is bound to cause more bloodshed. It is up to the PCs whether they can gather enough evidence to prove these rumours wrong and implicate the Veiled Society or anyway prove that Thyatians are not behind it.
ADDITION: VALDO TISZA’S LETTER
If the situation warrants a good reason, the GM can add this plotline to the events. Valdo Tisza has sent a servant to deliver a secret message to Alexander Torenescu, but Veiled Society agents try to intercept him. He manages to flee them and tries to reach the PCs (but only if their actions have made them known for people who can be trusted to defend the Traladara). Of course it is possible to have the PCs stumble on the scene, but this is clumsy, especially as the PCs have their hands full with Davinos. They are unlikely to be walking the streets.
It is ideal if the Veiled Society agents manage to kill the servant, but not necessary. If he stays alive, he is not prone to reveal the identity of his master, but this is certainly still possible. But he will of course reveal where the letter is going. If he is died, the PCs will have to find a cryptographer who can crack the code of the letter. The signature “V” and the greeting “Dear Alosha” are visible, however, so it is possible to guess the recipient (“Alosha” is a friendly version of “Alexander”). Certainty can only be reached by cracking the code, however. Meanwhile agents of Veiled Society will continue to harass the PCs, as they really want the letter.
The letter contains secret contingency plans for any public unrest in the case that the complaint will be refused. If the Radus get a hold of this, they will use it as a proof that the Duke is partial and cause even more unrest – possibly launching the contingency plan (temporary martial law) in the process. If the letter reaches Alexander Torenescu he can use it as leverage.
Whether Davinos is alive or not, the Duke will announce his decision in time. The result should depend on the actions of the various parties. Widespread violence against Thyatians will of course work against the Complaint, whereas successfully quelling the unrest will work for it et cetera. It is also possible that Tisza’s letter ends up in Thyatian hands, in which case poor Valdo is in trouble and the Complaint is very unlikely to succeed. The success of the various factions will of course change the power balance of the city.