One-shot of Roses & Thorns

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One-shot of Roses & Thorns

Postby okeefe » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:41 pm

I ran Roses & Thorns as a one-shot. I had never run or played before, and the players were unfamiliar with the game.

I started off with a simplified character creation. After describing the ven, the Houses, and their Virtues, they each had to pick a different House and then pick their Public Names. They spent some time (and had fun) just going over the names, which I mentioned were important. We determined that they were all married, most had children. I had strips printed out with the example Aspects in the book, and they took turns picking up three. They started with three Style points (poker chips).

Our player characters were:
  • Baroness Isla Thorne, Blooded of the Falcon. Aspects: Athletic, Queen of Thieves, and Self-Destructive.
  • Baron Sorio Steele, Blooded of the Elk. Aspects: Old Sword, Swordsman, and The Road is My Home.
  • Baron Vanglia Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox. Aspects: Academy Educated, Court Gossip, and I Pull the Strings.


I described that they were going to Shara's party and that their Count/Countess wanted Shara as a vassal. We started off with a contested Wisdom risk to define their liege lord and his/her relationship with Shara. (This was rather alien to them, so I mentioned some of the examples listed in the book.) Baron Steele had Wisdom as a weakness, but I gave him a wager anyway.

  • Our Count's name is Dagul. (They were amused by “father of many”.)
  • He thinks Shara is a sorceress. (They knew sorcery was illegal.)
  • He is afraid of Shara.
  • It is rumored that Baron Vanglia Yvarai is an illegitimate son of Count Dagul.

I also asked for individual Beauty risks to determine what Gifts they were bringing. Baroness Thorne decided she wasn't bringing a gift, but a card instead, that she would swap with another gift's card at the gift table. (I gave her two Style for causing trouble.) The other two each failed to get Privilege, so I narrated that Baron Yvarai brought an ancient scabbard that looked fine but was actually rotting, and we decided on a nice but wholly inappropriate gift from Baron Steele, a bassinet.

Baroness Thorne made a Cunning risk to see if she could swap her gift card for someone else's without everyone noticing, succeeded, and with Privilege had Shara's creepy Seneschal notice anyway. More Style. Barons Steele and Yvarai dropped off their gifts, and the players were escorted to a lounge with some other guests, namely, Lord Burghe, Lady Peacock, and Lady No.

Baron Yvarai starts to flirt with Lady No (Style!), and she latches on to him immediately. She asks about his estates, and his Court Gossip aspect gets Compelled: He starts a rumor that, earlier, when Lady Peacock was visiting his Castle, that he overheard some “strange” noises coming from the game room between her and his servants. Lady No is leading him on, but he opts to not start a Romance. Baron Steele asks Lord Burghe about the orichalcum sword and gets a tight-lipped summary about the spectre he killed with it. The ever-creepy Seneschal announces dinner.

Baron Yvarai strolls into the dining hall with Lady No around his arm. This earns him a glare from Count Kether. I call for a Courage check, his weakness. He opts to run into the hallway rather than spend a Style. In the dining hall, the other players meet the other guests and, finally, Shara. Baron Steele asks Duke Dannin about “smart orks”, and the Duke asks “What do you know about them?” A Wisdom risk later, and the Baron Steele replies that he's encountered a few smart orks, and thinks he knows where some of them live. He makes a friend.

Baroness Thorne decides to insult Count Kether. Apparently, she suspected that Count Kether was a superior swordsman, and wanted to try using her Courage. For the Courage risk, she invokes Self-Destructive and succeeds with a bunch of wagers. She uses the wagers to claim that Count Kether and Lady No are planning Lady Shara's downfall, and to claim that Shara is a sorcerer! Both Kether and Shara take offence to this, and both drop their gloves at her feet to claim Insult. I quickly explain how Insults and Juries work.


We dealt with Shara's claim first. The Jury consists of Count Kether, Duke Dannin, and Lady S. Shara demands a Duel to the Death. During questioning, Baroness Thorne continues to spout insults. The Jury agrees a Duel to the Death is appropriate. The Jury suggests the Duel tomorrow, but Baroness Thorne insists now and Shara agrees.

Shara spends four dice on her Strike Bid... and misses. Baroness Thorne refreshes and invokes Self-Destructive, beats Shara's feeble block, and inflicts a Rank 5 Injury to Shara. The Baroness narrates that she's hacked off Shara's “sorcerer arm” (her sword arm). I explain Scars, and she uses up her remaining Style to make the Injury permanent. (I don't understand how this couldn't be permanent, but, hey, maybe ven can reattach arms...) The Baroness decides this is a good time to convince Shara to become a vassal to Count Dagul, but Shara's rather busy bleeding out to pay much attention.

At this point, I remind them about the rules of ownership.

“Do you want her sword?” “Hell yes I want her sword!” “You pick it up. Her hand is still gripping the hilt, her arm dangling from it.”

I suggest that her arm would make a good Gift. There is vigorous agreement. Baroness Thorne returns to the room with the gift table and sets her gift card with Shara's severed arm.

Shara retires for the evening, and the Seneschal decides to postpone the issue of the Insult to Count Kether until the next day. The Seneschal also mentions that there was a Hunt planned in the morning, but that this might no longer happen.


During the night, everyone wakes up to noises coming from the hallway outside the guest rooms. There is a servant dressed in black, wearing a mask, fighting two guards. The servant, seeing all nobles, stabs him/her self with an all-black dagger, dying immediately. (I intended this to be a plot with the Ikhalu cult, but the players spun a different story.)

Three Things: Masked and wearing black, has an all-black dagger, dead.

Contested Cunning risk turns up:
  • The dagger is made of orichalcum. (This was supposed to bring suspicion upon Lord Burghe.)
  • The servant is actually an ork!
  • The ork is carrying a satchel under his robes.

Wisdom risk for the satchel:
  • Contains a map leading to Shara's castle.
  • Contains a letter in a language that Baron Steele doesn't recognize.

Baron Yvarai makes a Wisdom risk, invoking Academy Educated, and decodes the letter:
  • It's written in the language of the sorcerer-kings.
  • It says “Go to this place and kill our Great Enemy.”

Duke Dannin snatches up the letter, and claims that this and the dead ork will be presented to the Senate as evidence for his smart ork claims.


Shara's up and about. Her clothing has been altered overnight to account for her missing arm. She's wearing a red dress with a crimson rose. Lord Burghe is nowhere to be found. The matter regarding the Insult to Count Kether is to be dealt with. Kether says he would accept an apology to forget the matter, but Baroness Thorne refuses. The Jury agrees to a Duel to first Blood. Kether bids successfully for first strike, but is not able to beat Thorne's block. The Baroness succeeds with an Rank 1 Injury to Kether's face, and the matter is settled. Kether is honorable in his defeat and congratulates the Baroness, even amid some minor additional insults from her.

Shara asks to speak with the PCs. She tells them, “If you leave my lands now, you will not die.” She also asks her Seneschal to bring in Steele and Yvarai's gifts, the now-rotting scabbard and the bassinet, which she claims is further evidence that the players are treacherous and bode her ill will. The players attempt a Beauty risk to convince her to come with them to talk to Count Dagul, and manage to succeed.

And that about wraps up the one-shot!
Last edited by okeefe on Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: One-shot of Roses & Thorns

Postby JohnWick » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:49 am

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