Burning Warhammer: The Captain and the Witch (Session 7)

Shaky Plans, Shared Meals, and Desperate Bargains

Note: This post has content disclaimers.

Burning Warhammer: The Captain and the Witch (Session 7) is a game session report for Burning Wheel Gold. We played via Zoom on .

In the , Kasmiir and James van Shaw convinced Stapmï Thundergut to let them help in this forgery selling scheme. We pick up right after the Duel of Wits (DoW).

Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits

Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits (BITs 🔍) for Captain James van Shaw…
Beliefs
I need to get Femke out of jail…she’s going to need a lawyer that can focus on helping her.
Stapmï’s framed Femke, but he’s got this sweet con going, we need to get to the original to lay out our next steps.
Knowledge is just one currency of many, and right now we need coins more than we need knowledge.
Instincts
Always know where the exits are
Never accept the first offer
Always rummage through the paperwork
Traits
Paranoid
Rabble-rouser
Shrewd
Glib
Scavenger
Geometric
Scheming
Eidetic Memory
Blank Stare
BITs for Kasmiir van Shaw…
Beliefs
I am determined to find someone with close ties to the Tzeentch cult.
He got involved in a con somehow, I should help keep him out of too much trouble. Jail won’t help either of us.
Currency is useless, knowledge is power. I must read the aura of the Archduke's bracelets
Instincts
Books like my bag so much, they find their way inside.
I prefer shadows, so I always keep my hood up.
When at a crossroads, I look to the wisdom of the spirits.
Traits
Mark of the Beast
Extremely Respectful of One’s Betters
Spooky
Aura of Fear
Gifted
Obscure Aura
Weather Sense

Persuasion: Show Us the Originals

“Stapmï, it sounds like you sold a knock off to some cultists. We need to know if the originals are magical, because if they are those cultists are going to find out sooner rather than later,” says James, “So, Kasmiir here needs to take a look at the originals to see.”

Task
Persuasion
Intent
Convince Stapmï to take us to the location where he's keeping the original bracelets
Consequences
Only one of us can go
Obstacle
Obstacle (Ob 🔍) 4 Will
Dice
5D Persuade
1D Soothing Platitudes
1D Persuade
Result
Success

Stapmï replies, “Alright, alright. I don’t have it here. Let’s meet at first light and I’ll take you there.”

James and Kasmiir head back to the Misbegotten Lamb for a night’s rest. This is the inn from ; it ain’t much but they have it for a few weeks.

In the morning, they return to the Five Sided Square and meet up with Stapmï. It’s clear he’s had a heavy night of drinking; he’s pale and a bit unsteady.

A stablehand comes out with an impressive horse.

Stapmï throws him a silver and says “You probably haven’t seen a horse as fast as this one. A real racing horse.”

James and Kasmiir notice the fine saddle, blanket, and bridle; this horse would fetch a fortune. They also notice Stapmï’s unease at horse handling.

James and Kasmiir walk alongside Stapmï as they head out of Carroburg along an old road into the low lying hills. It’s about a 2 hour trek. They come to a well worn building.

Outside are several downtrodden dwarfs lounging around. When Stapmï arrives, they snap to action, staffing the makeshift smithing operation.

Stapmï leads them into this ill-repaired building, and shows them the last station of the smithing operation; a bucket full of forgeries.

Stapmï starts speaking as he picks a few up and hands them to James, “There are three buyers in Carroburg. You sell to them, and we take the profits and head to our next place to sell these.”

James and Kasmiir look at these, and it’s obvious these are of really poor quality.

“Mighty fine work if I must say. But you non-Dwarfs don’t know what’s good and what’s not. And this operation here, well you gotta scale if you want to get ahead,” boasts Stapmï. I love the hubris and arrogance that Phil brings to these characters. Stapmï’s doomed and can’t even see it.

“Ah yes, mighty fine indeed,” responds James, “Now let’s see the originals so we can figure out what to expect from those you’ve sold your knock offs to.”

“Sure thing,” responds Stapmï. He heads into another room.

As Stapmï leaves, Kasmiir turns and whispers to James, “If it’s magic, I’ll move it to my left hand. If it’s not I’ll move it to my right. And if I can’t tell, I hold it with both hands.”

After a bit, Stapmï returns wearing a purple and lavender crushed velvet vest, it’s far to big for him.

“And here is the thing that’s funding and founding the whole thing,” brags Stapmï as he produces two exquisite comet style bracelets.

“Let me see them so I may read any enchantment,” says Kasmiir.

Stapmï hands the bracelets to Kasmiir. Kasmiir inspects them, they are quite masterful and greenish purple veins lace the magnificent silver comet bracelets. Those knock-offs are comical imitations of this magnificent piece.

Object Reading: If It’s Magic, Shit’s Getting Real

Task
Object Reading
Intent
To determine if the bracelets are magical
Consequences
Corruption
Obstacle
Ob 1, doubled to 2 for Beginner's Luck
Dice
5D Will/Perception
1D Persona
Result
Success.

As Kasmiir opens their mind to read the aura, they flinch from a piercing migraine. Kasmiir fumbles a bit as they move the piece to their left hand and begins their lie, “It’s hard to tell.”

“Then why the flinching?” responds Stapmï.

In this moment Kasmiir’s player did not want to make a Beginner’s Luck Falsehood test. Which is too bad, I’d love to have seen how this played out.

James interjects, “Ah, my good acquaintance always flinches and is a bit disoriented when reading the auras. Of course their magic.”

Stapmï’s bravado melts away, as the realization dawns on him, “Well, I’ve got three buyers lined up, though one might need pressure. You sell three of these and we close up shop and move on.”

Stapmï lists the three contacts.

“Sounds like a plan. We’ll meet you at the Five Sided Square tomorrow evening,” says James.

Persuasion: How about we Share a Meal

James and Kasmiir leave with three of the knock offs. After walking about an hour they notice a fancily covered wagon, pulled by a few horses. The driver is a well dressed man. On the side of the wagon they see “Braton’s Theatre Troupe”.

“Well met,” says James.

“Well met indeed,” responds to the wagon driver.

James asks, “Do I hear a marrienburger? Perhaps we could share a meal and speak of the lowlands from which we hail.”

Task
Persuade them to share a meal
Intent
To who all there is in this troupe
Consequences
In our conversation, we'll spill too much information
Obstacle
Ob 5 (for the driver's will)
Dice
5D for Persuasion
+1D for Haggling
+1D for Help
+1D Persona
Result
Spending a Fate, I get 8 successes!

“Ah yes, to share pickled fish and cheeses with a fellow Marrienburger is a delight. I grow so tired of the wrinkled noses and turned faces of those that don’t appreciate the cuisine of the lowlands,” responds the driver.

The wagon stops, and from the back a few folk hop out. A strong man, a melancholy dwarf, a woman with a painted face, and a well dressed lady. From the back, we see a crescent moon curtain, in the shape and style of Moorslieb; the chaos moon.

Oh, joy it’s Chaos cultists come to extract revenge on Stapmï! Now this will be getting dicey.

And behold, James got what he wanted, but even that began tightening a noose around them.

Inconspicuous: What Have You Got in Your Nasty Wagon-s-es

As the troupe begins setting up for a meal, James begins helping unload from the wagon. He hazards a peek deeper into the wagon.

Task
Inconspicuously sneak a peek into the back of the wagon
Intent
To see what they might be hiding
Consequences
They notice James
Obstacle
Ob 3; they rolled three successes.
Dice
4D for Inconspicuous
Result
Success!

James notices that the wagon appears to have a steel inner caging, with hooks running along the horizontal bars of the cage. The others busily setup an impromptu picnic, putting out baskets for seats and preparing a tray of pickled fish, cheeses, and apples.

Kasmiir and James are outnumbered and have no idea about the general intentions of the cultists. Will they sweep us up.

The well-dressed woman, with a thick Tilean accent, sits down on and begins speaking, “I am Gionessa Antoniola, and you my hooded traveler, have an interesting story to tell.”

Kasmiir responds, “There’s not much to tell.”

“Now please, why don’t you lower that hood of yours and tell me at least the story of your hood.”

“I can’t, as the sun does harm my delicate skin,” responds Kasmiir.

As Gionessa and Kasmiir make idle conversation, the strong man begins playing a loot, the melancholy dwarf a drum, and the painted faced woman begin singing a song.

“Lady Antoniola, have you ever bought flowers in Marrienburg?” asks Kasmiir.

“Why yes.”

Kasmiir continues, “From a blonde haired woman by the name of Lil' Bet Notenboom?“ Lil’Bet is the cultist from . And in we’ve learned from the guestbook at the Swollen Goat that she’s been travelling.

“Oh do so love Lil' Bet,” smiles Gionessa.

Falsehood: We Need them to Think We’re Cultists

Munching on cheeses and fish, and sipping delicate wines, the music begins filling James and Kasmiir’s thoughts. James assuming foul motives, looks to drop enough hints in conversation to lead the troupe to believe that Kasmiir and James are cultists.

Task
Falsehood, to tell drop hints of our cult-membership
Intent
To let them think that we too are cultists and to stop their
Consequences
They continue with their ensorcelment
Obstacle
Ob 5 (again that Will!)
Dice
4D for Falsehood
+1D for Persuasion
+1D for help from Kasmiir
+1D advantage for sharing a few cult names
Result
Success!

“Ah Lil’Bet, such a lovely lady. So true in her conviction. May our paths continue to cross with her and her friends. And may the waxing moon shine it’s light to illumine the way,” pines James.

The Gionessa waves off the music, and says, “Indeed. Such travels I’ve had, and by the sounds you as well. I’ve recently come from Krautzhoffen and we’re making our way to perform. It’s been a lovely meal, but it’s getting late. And especially late for some.”

With that, they all begin packing up. “Safe travels my friends,” say Gionessa.

James and Kasmiir begin heading back to Carroburg. And the Braton Theatre Troupe’s wagon rambles forward, heading towards Stapmï’s hideout.

James and Kasmiir head over to a stream to talk. As they see it, there’s three options:

  • Run ahead and warn Stapmï
  • Run to the guards and turn on both Stapmï and the cultists
  • Meander back to Carroburg and start selling these knock offs

“Well, what’s the plan?” asks Kasmiir.

“Let’s do what we do best—ask other people to do it for us,” quips James.

As they’re talking, Kasmiir dips a finger in the stream and casts an eye to the skies; a few clouds fill the sky but their quickly darkening.

Weather Sense: We Need a Storm to Slow Down the Theatre

“Looks like a storms coming on fast. We better get back to Carroburg,” says Kasmiir.

Task
Weather Sense
Intent
To declare that there's a storm happening that will cause the river to surge and slow down the Chaos cultists.
Consequences
Oh, it's bad and going to hit us as well
Obstacle
Ob 5 (specific time, place, and intensity)
Dice
5D Perception
1D Astrology
1D Spirit Binding help
Result
With 4 sixes rolled, Kasmiir spends a fate and claims 9 successes.

The winds pick up, and they hear a crack of thunder.

Speed: Getting Back to Carroburg

Knowing the time sensitivity of catching Stapmï and/or the Chaos cultists with the Archduke’s possessions, James and Kasmiir race back to Carroburg. They pull up their hoods, and begin the three mile jog back.

Task
Speed
Intent
To get to Carroburg in time to convince the guards to check tomorrow.
Consequences
You get there late in the day, and it's going to be harder to convince the guards to take action today.
Obstacle
Ob 3
Dice
4D Speed
+1D help from Kasmiir's Speed
Result
5 Successes
Linked test +1D to Body of Argument

With urgency, James and Kasmiir cut through the woods and fields leading to Carroburg.

Duel of Wits: In or Out of Jail

As the rains let up, they make their way to a guard station in Carroburg. Entering the station, James pulls down his hood and blurts out “I know where the Archduke’s possessions are. I need to speak to someone as this is of utmost urgency”.

In the guard station, a man rises saying, “Now tell me what’s up.”

James recognizes him as Captain van Huus. James’s stomach clenches. He hopes the Captain doesn’t recognize him. This is the captain from . Kasmiir and James stole Femke’s ledger from him.

Kasmiir and James van Shaw's Statement of Purpose
You will send armed troupes to that location now! And if I’m right that Stapmï has the duke’s stuff you’ll let Femke go.
Kasmiir and James van Shaw's Body of Argument (BoA 🔍)
9 (Will of 4 + 5 successes on 5D Persuasion + 1D Scheming + 1D advantage for linked Speed test)
Captain van Huus's Statement of Purpose
You’ve implicated yourself in these crimes against the Archduke and we’re throwing you in jail.
Captain van Huus's BoA
7 (Will of 4 + 3 successes on 5D Interrogation)

Exchange One

For the first exchange:

James scripts
Point
Obfuscate
Rebuttal
Captain van Huus scripts
Point
Rebuttal
Feint

The exchange favor’s Captain van Huus. The points will chip away at each of our BoAs, but Captain van Huus’s Feint ignores James’s Rebuttal; successes will directly reduce James’s body of argument. The saving grace is if James can succeed on the Obfuscate, he’ll have a modicum of defense (e.g., a +1 Ob) against the Feint.

Gulp, at least there’s hope that Captain James can secure a concession.

Volley One

Slamming their fist on the counter, Captain van Huus says, “You come here bearing incriminating evidence, I should lock you up.”

James replies, “These are proof that there’s a counterfit ring and the Carroburg guards should seek them out.”

Kasmiir adds, “They’re out in the woods at an old inn.”

I was hoping against hope that . Perhaps fate would continue to shine and I could win outright. This would be James’s only chance during the first exchange to reduce Captain van Huus’s BoA. And while James’s BoA of 9 would likely mean a second exchange, two 5D interrogation tests plus a fate or two is likely to garner 6 or 7 successes.

For Captain van Huus’s point, he tests Interrogation, throwing 5D and getting 2 successes. James’s point tests Persuasion, throwing 11D (5D for Persuasion + 1D for Guard-wise +1D for Law-wise +1D help from Kasmiir + 3D Persona) gets 4 successes. So many traitors! And that’s with spending a fate point to open up the lone 6.

Yikes! James’s luck for the evening finally ran out.

Volley Two

James continues, “You’ve all been busy and I get that.”

“Oh, we’ve been watching you both,” responds Captain van Huus.

I had thought of using Falsehood but as the words that came out they were an Ugly Truth. Not ideal, as James would be leaning on Beginner’s Luck.

Captain van Huus splits their Interrogation’s 5D for the Rebuttal: 2D for attack and 3D for defense. They roll 1 success each for defense and attack. James throws 6D for a beginner’s luck Perception test for their obfuscation. And with a bit of fate and an overzealous d6, he pulls down 6 successes; counting half of those successes for James’s Ugly Truth.

The obfuscation works! Captain van Huus doesn’t damage James’s BoA and more importantly James increases Captain van Huus’s Ob for their Feint.

Volley Three

Captain van Huus begins, “You see, your little endeavors…”

As Captain van Huus begins speaking, James looks around the guard house. The guards are enraptured. They’re ready for action. James’s stomach clenches as he responds, “We’ve done nothing wrong, we’re just…”

Grinning Captain van Huus interjects, “Oh, perhaps not but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it look like you did.”

Because James scriptted Rebuttal, he throws no dice. To inflict damage to James BoA, Captain Van Huus will need at least 2 successes. Captain van Huus throws 5D for their Feint, and garners one success.

Exchange Two

James’s BoA remains at 7. And Captain van Huus’s is at 3.

With a fresh volley and the advantage, I decide to try to weasel in another test for advancement.

James scripts
Avoid
Point
Point
Captain van Huus scripts
Point
Point
Point

Volley One

A bit flustered, and concerned James says, “We’re hardly worth it, when there’s chaos cultists on the move.”

“All of this circumstance sure does implicate you both!” responds Captain van Huus.

For his avoid, James throws 4D for their Will and gets 1 success. Captain van Huus throws 5D and gets 1 success on their point. James doesn’t get to mark a test, but at least the BoA doesn’t suffer any damage.

Volley Two

Captain van Huus, “Sounds like some co-conspirators turning on their companions as the heat intensifies.”

Seeing that Captain van Huus is hell-bent on pinning this crime on someone, James turns and says, “Listen, there’s a dwarf named Stapmï who’s out there making and selling knock offs of the Archduke’s bracelets. Find those bracelets and this is an open and shut case!”

Captain van Huus throws a single success for his point. James throws 5D for Persuasion + 1D for Law-wise + 1D for Guard-wise and with a fate point garners 7 successes for his point!

The ending BoAs are James at 6 and Captain van Huus at -4.

Duel of Wits Denouement

Looking at the room, the guards and the Captain seem convinced that it’s time to take action. James says, “Perhaps a bit of restitution for inconveniences, transgressions, and maybe a bit of overtime pay for you all.”

Captain van Huus nods in acknowledgment as James hands him a small coin purse.

Captain van Huus turns to his men and says “Saddle up y’all, we ride to catch a criminal and some cultists.”

Observation

This was a high stakes Duel of Wits. James had the opportunity to wrap up two of his longer running beliefs. If he failed, Captain van Huus would jail both James and Kasmiir. And on Kasmiir’s person was Femke’s ledger, a cultist book titled The Story of the Bloodflower, and a Tzeentch 🔍 relic. And back at the Misbegotten Loom, they’d find a fine cask of Bretonnian brandy forged to look like Imperial Ale.

As part of his concession, he went contrary to a third belief—offering up what little cash he had to ensure that Femke walked free. Interestingly, there’s chance that we’ll be adding a third player. We hit a nice point in the story to add a third player. Perhaps they’ll pick up playing Femke.

Conclusion

This evening Captain James van Shaw’s dice were hot. As were Kasmiir’s. There were so many opportunities for failure, but we kept avoiding any significant consequences. We both were eager to get back to the river, where Kasmiir’s got more going on.

We wrapped up with our Artha awards, and all agreed that this warranted a Deeds. For our next session we intend to have a trait vote. I also intend to give Kasmiir a say in the direction we next go. These past sessions, in freeing Femke, has focused on James’s goals. We’ve skirted around Kasmiir’s goals, but now need to bring them in focus.

Namely, what draws them to learning about the Tzeentch cult.