Saturday Seed – 20 (All for One)

All for One has inspired me, stoking the fires of imagination to a fever pitch, so this seed will also bear fruit for games of swords and the men who wield them for ideals, honour, and loyalty.

The Seed:

A quote often heard around the gaming table, and often abused by sword enthusiasts is “Hello! My name is…”  Really, do I even need to finish it?

Imagine then, a night scene where the characters are socializing and perhaps in celebration of some victory, or life event… perhaps one or more of them have managed to finagle a new mistress and so are now flush with gold. Out of the blue, a young man with a very serious face, and a very serious duellist’s walk approaches the group and in a tightly controlled voice calls out one of the characters and challenges him to a duel. However, he calls the character by the name of name of a relative (father or older brother), and simply will not accept that the character is not the man he seeks. He has it on ‘good authority’ that the character is the villain whose death he feels will redress the wrong he seeks to right.

“I know you for {character’s relative’s name}. You have been pointed out to me by an unimpeachable source. I say that you are a villain and man of low-character, an associate of others of low-character, and a murderer. My sword thirsts for your tainted blood, you cowardly dog, and if you have the spine to face me, I appeal before God and these witnesses here to whatever vestige of honour you may still retain, to cross swords with me at (time & location).

The Details:

Who is this young fool? His earnestness speaks of real loss and real determination to obtain vengeance, but he is completely unfamiliar to the characters. Worse… he will not listen to reason.

Who has set him on the character’s trail? Is it an error or a trick? If it is a trick… against whom? The young man, or the character?

The young man, having said his piece, will want to depart – presumably to rest up for the most important battle of his young life. He seems very devout – despite his complete refutation of salient bits of Christianity such as ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ and ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Of course, he is not alone in these curious omissions.

Astute, sharp-eyed musketeers will have been able to note important details about the young man who will enable them to figure out some of his background, and possibly learn what is going on.

Example clues:

  • mud on his shoes from a certain part of town
  • use of a regional dialect, the relative travelled and fought there in his youth
  • posture of a specific fencing salon
  • a dagger that seems to match a sword the relative is known to cherish but does not discuss
  • wax marks on his cloak commonly gotten when kneeling to light votive candles, a cathedral is nearby where the characters are known
The Details:

The young man believes the character and his cronies to have no honor, and so will simply not listen to anything they have to say. He does, however, have an abnormally high faith in the fidelity of the clergy.

A priest, horrified by some sin of the character, such as bedding a supposedly virtuous woman, or inspiring a clever boy to turn from the scriptures to the sword, has set this earnest young man on the wrong trail. The young man, will not doubt him without proof he would consider incontrovertible supported by a someone of even less impeachable character… such as a bishop.

The character will not know if their relative is guilty of the crime or not, and in the early stages, is not likely to know what the crime is, as the young man does not wish to discuss it (seeking to challenge and depart as quickly as possible), and the cleric – if learned about, subsequently found, and then made to discuss the young man, will not admit to knowing anything about it.

A good potential for action could ensue if the characters attempt to get the priest to go with them to meet the young man. He will be easily caught in his duplicity then, and so – will do his best to be incommunicado. He naturally will be in hiding between the challenge and the hour of the duel. Can he be found?

The crime is murder of course, but of whom? Is the relative guilty?

Now… here is the fun part: the dual duel revelation.

The pace of all of this should be fast and no chance should be given for the characters to ponder what is going on. However…

Is their relative guilty? If they knew nothing about the crime, how did the young man learn of it?

What is the real story of the murder?

The Truth:

There is another conspirator.

A Bishop from the young man’s region was duped by a deathbed confession into believing that the relative was guilty of cowardly murder in the dark. The dying man, noble, and known to be a man of honour and bravery (but secretly an enemy of the character’s relative) wove a tail of adultery, betrayal, theft, murder, and a drunken confession that has been weighing on his heart ‘all these years.’   With his last breath he weaves this lie, and then dies. The Bishop believes it, and sets things in motion.

The priest, wracked by guilt over hating the character, confessed to the Bishop – his mentor in earlier years. The Bishop twisted his mind so that he was prepared to wait for a sign from God. The earnest young man, and his desire for an honest trial of arms, seems very much like that sign. The priest, judgement blurred by emotion, sets the young man on the character trusting God to sort it all out. He does not realize that the Bishop sent the young man to him specifically and also sold the young man on the dead man’s tale.

The relative was actually a dear friend of the murder victim and the sword and dagger do match. They traded their daggers for each others’ as a sign of affection and a symbol of their pledge to always stand together.

Both men did love the same woman, and the relative moved away lest their friendship suffer over this horrible twist of fate. Some say, the two friends quarrelled before the relative left. Everyone in that town knows the friend was found stabbed in the back 2 days later. No one knows who did it, but of course, everyone has a theory.

Much of the rest must be left to you, your setting, and how it can all be made to spark the interest of your players. Simply killing the young man will amount to nothing…. except further plots from the Bishop and Priest!  Trying to save him from himself, will lead to many opportunities to right wrongs, uncover plots, reveal corruption, and get in heaps of trouble!

Decisions, decisions…

Speak your piece~

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