Saturday Seed ~ 61 (All for One)

This week’s seed is another for All for One. Due to a moderate increase in gaming activity, and a massive increase in my normal work load, I still have not completed my first Technoir Transmission for Seoul, meaning I have to bring something else out of my files of seeds and ideas for this week’s entry. As I am prepping for All for One: Regime Diabolique in the background, a fun thing which popped to mind, which I am unlikely to spring on my own players in this campaign is a seed I like to think of with Slayer riffs in the background and borrowing one of their titles: The Live Undead.

The Seed:

During a duel over nothing of consequence, a character is forced to fight for their life, resulting in the death of their opponent. Later, the dead man returns to destroy the reputation of the character.

Planting the seed

During a moment of revelry, with time to spare for exciting action, present the character with the temptation of a duel, by inflicting them with the company of a truly obnoxious boor of incalculable ability to cause offense. If the character takes the bait, play out the duel and ensure that it escalates through objectionable banter and unsafe practices on the part of the opponent past the idea of ‘first blood,’ well past ‘to the pain,’ and on to more of a situation which might require a Sicilian (ie: Death is on the line).

There are no witnesses to the killing itself, but the story –as stories do – still gets out. The slight is recalled, the tense discussion to meet somewhere private, and the return of just one of the two speaks volumes to those who spend their lives in the company of Musketeers.

I would likely go with just a single duel leading to a single death, but that really depends on the mood and style of your campaign. It may suit your group better to give each character an opponent and let the blood drip where it may. For ease, however, I will refer to the dead opponent in the singular.

After the duel, it is revealed in rumor and innuendo that the vanquished duelist was purported to be of legendary skill and for the character to have bested him in swordplay, he too must be great. The benefits of these rumors vastly outweigh the consequences of possibly being punished for dueling, and should be presented as a major source of temptation and upward mobility for the character.

Reputation will improve, opportunities to take a higher quality of mistress will present themselves, older colleagues will show more respect, and younger colleagues will begin to emulate the character. Perhaps most useful, interesting insights into the cowardice and ego of those around the character may become clearer as their behaviour changes either more toward fawning or toward braggadocio as a result of their fear of the character’s newly revealed prowess.

All is as it should be until a week later, when who should enter the character’s favorite tavern, but the dead man! What’s worse, he claims no knowledge of the duel ever taking place, is quite positive he was not killed in the heat of the moment, and claims that although he waited in the appointed place for several hours – the young coward never showed up. Has no idea who this young upstart might be, or why anyone would think him worthy of doing more than perhaps shining an old pair of boots – but in his opinion, any one lauding him as a swordsman should consider raising their sights just a little higher.

The fellow will be even more infuriating than the last time, but it is essential to the flow of the story that a duel at this time be snatched from them at the last moment by something even more frustrating than the scene so far.  Perhaps the most irritating way to do this is by timing the arrival of the Cardinal’s personal guard to escort the blighter to an audience with Richelieu himself, at the precise moment it is agreed to ‘step outside.’ Of course, other interruptions may be required or more appropriate depending on the state of your campaign, but the point is the same. A duel at this moment simply will not be possible, and the character will be forced to endure the inevitable spread of rumors and innuendo denouncing the Musketeer as a coward, liar, and man unworthy to be in the King’s service.

What’s going on

As a part of a very early stage of a plot to discredit the Musketeers in the eyes of both the people and the Crown, a learned man of ill-intent, and demonic connections, has chosen to work some subtle transformations in order to pit his duelists against the characters, yet – even if defeated – allow them to reappear. More clever is that his arts not only allow him to send the same swordsmen to face them again and again, as though they were somehow sent back from hell to tell lies and raise the blood pressure, it also lets him choose anyone, of any skill set and turn them into these villains….    To incite the characters to fight, he sends his silver-tongued aide, but to fight the duel, he sends his bruiser.  To manipulate the assembled masses, he sends the aide again… no one the wiser.

Once the characters are well and truly frustrated, on the verge of losing their positions, and forced to watch their hard-won reputations dwindle away, it is time to watch them begin to scheme and plot revenge and seek vindication. If they go for it with cleverness and staunch devotion to each other and their oaths as Musketeers, then send them on a wild ride to dramatically uncover the fledgling plot and the dark forces behind it.

For further nights of entertainment, you might consider turning this into the start of a campaign’s end game, building it into more than just a seed, but into a wicked and twisted vine, with tentacles everywhere~






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