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The Paladin’s Secret - A Play By Forum game of The Burning Wheel


Warran replies to Aulexis, “Or the child is the product of the parent, and does what they do because of what they were trained at a young age through observation… If that be the case, then we will have to keep an eye on her; but, I am willing to have an open mind and we know very little of her,” he pauses briefly, “Perhaps there is truly a misunderstanding. I am willing to overlook these mild transgressions… As for the incident in question… If he did speak to her about it, it is truly petty and for a person his age at the time, a trivial factoid. The notion I would have been worth mentioning is laughable. I would not have expected the aggressor to complain to their mother when they did not get what they wanted. Especially when they wanted me to do something which was academically dishonest and would have forced me to betray a person I truly respected, but that seems to be the case with those who are entitled… They feel everyone will bend to their whims like the reed in the wind…”

Warran is not angry nor enthusiastic to be talking about this subject, it is clear there is a touch of sadness in his tone.

Speaking to Aulexis, “Have you never had a strong conversation with someone before? Strong words, or the mild threat? It seems you do it once in your life and it comes back to bite you in the rear at some point…”

He looks at Jarek slightly puzzled, “…We were studying at the same place at the same time. He was an ass, and if I was a worse person and had more influence behind me, I would have beaten him to an inch of his life. But as it was, I had to keep quiet and keep my head down…”


Simon takes his time to survey his surroundings, looking everywhere along the path for a souvenir, a single dead branch, long fallen from above…


Jarek realized that he had struck a nerve with Warran.

“I understand what it’s like to have to keep your head down.” Jarek remembers the bullying that he experienced before he was selected for musician training. He looked over at the merchant wagons grimly. “And not have any influence.” Jarek accepted that he was going to have to bide his time if he wanted to know more about Diana, the crest, or the cube. He wished that he was paying more attention while Warran and Aulexis were talking.

Jarek remembered his resolution of the night before. I will trust these people, but I’m not the only one who has more to their story. Jarek continues to walk with Warran and Aulexis, but keeps quiet and listens. He clenches his fists to keep from fidgeting.


Aulexis is amused by ‘beaten to an inch of his life’. Humans never mean these things. They’re always thinking of a black eye, bleeding nose and some crying.

“I’ve had lots of strong conversations, Warran.” Aulexis looks sweet. “What they actually mean is up to context. I’m pretty sure the boy didn’t miss that you intended to beat him, but could not at the time. The rich don’t forget humiliation.”

“What did you go to school for?” She tries to change the subject. It’s really up to Warran to figure out this Diana thing at this point. Doubtless the boy told some shocking over-exaggerated version of his conflict with Warran, and Diana believed every word.

Besides, there’s a bit of contradiction in Warran’s appearance and his nature that she’d like to explore. Like how Jarek was in the army, and is a gangly thief. Is everyone connected with the paladin some kind of walking contradiction? Perhaps the carpenter also composes poetry and the marsh-elf isn’t a…
She tries to block out the deeply perjorative language that crowds her mind every time she looks at Kaelin. She never thought it made sense (an elf is an elf), but a hundred and seventy years of people calling them ‘our strange stunted cousins’ really makes the habits hard to break.


You find a stout recently fallen branch. The older wood seems to rot far quicker than expected and crumbles in your hand releasing a foul eggy odour when disturbed, but the recently fallen branch is intact.


(I am assuming our characters are familiar with each other at face value, but are not necessarily aware of back stories. Also, I have not managed to have time to write Warran’s backstory… But I have the loose idea which most of it will be given here.) :slight_smile:

Warran continues walking at the same pace, but thinks for a while before answering, “An interesting question… I went to school to achieve a greater understanding and to obtain knowledge as all students tend to do…”

He smiles after a short pause, “Sorry, the wonted philosophical response. I know that is not what your question was… At a young age, watching my father working at the forge, I was always memorized. Not just by the notion of taking a lump and shaping it into something useful, but by the nature of the flames of the forge. The way it was manipulated by his actions and how it reacted, in turn, to his movements. It seemed to dance under his control and seemed to spark my interest. Later, I discovered he had no actual power over them, only just managing the flames, but it still got me thinking ‘what if you could control the fire directly’; and the desire to discover and learn was not lost on my father. He taught me all he could of his trade and I took to it rather quickly. I am not to shabby with an anvil and hammer, but he noticed I was capable of more.”

“I must have been deemed to be pretty clever to have been accepted to the school based upon my up bringing, but I never did learn the nature of how I was admitted. There was a short interview at my home by one of the teachers, and afterward they informed me of my admission. There were a few students of poorer backgrounds than I, but mostly students of more wealthy and connected families. Of those poorer students, they tended to be exceptionally gifted where some were not very exceptional at all. I never could determine where I fell on the spectrum, but I can assure you I was not the most talented…”

He makes sure no one else is readily listening to them and then says quietly to Aulexis, “When most people meet someone who went to school to be a sorcerer, they instantly think ill of them. That is why I was more than happy to take the position in the Paladin’s household for my other skills, as a blacksmith and my ability to write.”

Returning to a regular tone of speaking he continues, “Most people scratch their heads when they meet a son of a blacksmith who can read and write… But such is the way of the world. You encounter many things which you would never expect to see when you travel.” He shrugs his shoulders.

“What about you Aulexis? What did you do before entering into the Paladin’s service?”


Not wanting to upset Warran further, Jarek bit back the many questions that sprang into his mind. Since he could not clench his fists any tighter, he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and rolled the cube with his left hand. Jarek heard the older men telling stories throughout his youth of the atrocities committed by the Sorcerer’s in the War. He reminded himself of his resolution of the night before. At least he’s with us and not against us.

Jarek notices that Simon seems to have picked something up, but is curious about Aulexis. He wants to hear her answer, but is afraid that asking questions will cause the others to ask questions of him.


Simon takes out his personal effects, which contains several offcuts of sand paper of various grains. He aims to smooth out the wood, creating a strong, easily wielded staff.


Aulexis is delighted, but she tries to keep calm. A sorcerer is a valuable ally, and causes her to have a bit of a second look at the sorcerer-smith.
She still remembers the day, long ago, when she saw the power of a sorcerer during the war. Her captain had always kept to the fringes, picking off stragglers and cargo vessels, but he had joined a larger flotilla to assist a friend of his.
From an enemy ship, from a single point, was unleashed a gout of flame so vast and fierce, the two lead vessels were immolated almost instantly and a third was lit up like a huge candle. Hundreds of elves that should have had many many years more to sail were turned to ash, and her captain (wisely) withdrew with full support from the crew.

Warran certainly isn’t that kind of sorcerer, yet. Could he ever be? Who knows, but the thought of it makes him immediately more appealing.

Not that I should ever need that kind of power again. Right?

Now comes the dilemma. Warran is secretive about his schooling because people might think he’s a bad person. Aulexis is most definitely a bad person. He was very open, a moment ago, and he’ll be expecting some kind of return on that investment.

Aulexis proceeds with caution. She’s not sure exactly what tack to stick to, but she’s certainly not ready to tell everything.

“I suppose I’m where I am because of my father as well. He taught me everything I know about ropes and rigging, and this -” She indicates the flexible spear she carries on her shoulder. “He was the greatest sailor I’ve ever seen, and a powerful warrior.” She sighs. “I was a sailor, too, for the last hundred and fifty years. I’ve seen things, and done things I regret. I’ve made enemies, many enemies. One of them caught me in a moment of weakness, and forced me to flee, after… Much pain.”
She shudders reflexively, remembering the touch of the hot iron, the knife, and the various indignities. Her missing finger is not related, but she’s certainly not going to talk about that now.
“I found the paladin and begged him to take me, to atone for my sins. He was compassionate towards me, and agreed. Now I do whatever he needs, until my debt is repayed.”
She looks for her companions’ reactions.
“That’s the short of it.”


Warran keeps pace, looks her over, and gives an understanding nod. There is honesty in his voice and some sympathy, but at no point relays any signs of pity. He talks softly to avoid drawing the attention of others, “The only way we can truly learn, is to make mistakes. I am sure whatever you did was done out of necessity and circumstances of the situation. That is all one can do; to react and behave with the information at hand and presented before us… What you have experienced makes you the person standing here. If you had not done those things in the past, you would not be here, at this point in your life’s journey… It is admirable to want to be better, but you cannot forget what makes you unique. The good, the bad, it is still you… You just have to focus and harness the qualities and skills you have and want to exhibit in the future and try to hold at bay the ones you do not. It is like any change, always difficult, but always possible. To judge you on your past would be unfair, only your current actions matter to me.”

He flashes a disarming smile, “I am just glad I have a sparring partner to blow off steam with. Fighting with a staff had to make do without a forge for physical exertion and exercise during my studies. However, I must warn you, I am not very skilled or have a suitable practice weapon.” He indicates the walking stick. “She must have seen through my request or I should have been bolder and asked for what I really wanted! Perhaps… I could convince Simon to make me one…”

Understanding she had shared something which was difficult for her, and understanding how old wounds can sting, he tries to keep the conversation going with a topic which he hopes does not cause any issue, "The last time I saw my father was before I left for my studies. He gave me a few old metalworking books he had and told me to keep moving forward and to not come back… That was a long time ago… I wonder how he is fairing… Is your father still sailing, or has he passed on?


Jarek does not respond verbally at first because he does not want to call attention to the fact that he was practically eavesdropping. I don’t think Warran noticed me listening, but I think Aulexis did. He wants to build trust with his companions, but still feels vulnerable amongst so many strangers in the caravan, especially after his late night venture out of their camp.

He weighs his options. I stole something that I was ordered to take and nearly got caught. Easy and true, but Jarek balks at telling them about his failure.

I stole something that I wasn’t supposed to and I’ve just seen it on the crest on Diana’s wagon. Also true, but this felt more perilous. His Commander, who asked no questions and shoved him onto a boat in the middle of the night to protect him, had not known that Jarek had taken this… this thing. He squeezed the cube in his pocket. I had no idea that this was of value to anyone. Frustrated with himself, The only reason I took it was because the horse on it looks like Zeph. The image on the cube reminded him of Zephyr, the horse that would have been his if he had become a dispatch rider. He lets go of the cube and takes his hand out of his pocket.

When Warran shifts the conversation to family, Jarek instinctively bristles. All he knew about his family is that he was a bastard. The Commander had told Jarek that his mother had done a great act of love when she left him at the barracks. He would answer no further questions about her even though he clearly knew who she was. Others who far outranked Jarek had made dark hints about who Jarek’s father was. When Jarek asked about his father, the Commander reacted sharply telling Jarek that he was better off not knowing him.

While Jarek had been on the verge of spilling out the story of his theft and arrival in the Paladin’s household, he lagged slightly behind and pretends to look at the strikingly red and purple flowers growing on one side of some of the trees, reluctant to engage in a conversation about family.


Warran is so… Pure. She’s not about to correct him. She wishes she was who she was out of necessity, or efficiency, like her father. But she loved it, she loved every second of devouring lives like a tiger. It was only loss that awakened her moral compass. Even now, it’s a knife edge inside her, being that former person, and being the person who is physically disgusted by what she has done.

She nods at his words about ones’ past being an inalienable component of one’s present. It’s different talking to someone who likes to read and think. His words remind her of when she used to wax philosophical to her Love, but it was largely insane nonsense. This one has a clear, straightforward vision. It will help keep her on track.

“I would appreciate some sparring practice. Geil has seen nothing but oil for months, and he is unused to the inactivity.” Aulexis caresses the spear haft with affection. The head is in a soft leather case with silver embroidery, and the haft is a smooth white wood. “But you will have to have your cover on, my love. You are too greedy for play-fights.” Aulexis coos softly to the weapon.

Jarek seems to flit about like a spooked fish. He’s obviously been listening, and looks like he’s about to speak a bunch of times, but always stops short. For some reason, now, he’s pretending to be interested in plants. She doubts he has any true botanical persuasion. Reading him is difficult! He seemed to drop away when Warran brought up fathers. Perhaps his father was an abusive bastard? Her own father is an unpleasant conversation. Her childhood was just one long disapproving eyebrow twitch in a face of stone.

“He’s still alive, yes, Haven’t seen him in a hundred-odd years. We didn’t part on good terms. I can’t picture him dying. Someday he’ll take that final rest, probably long after I do.”
I would hate it if he outlived me. I should kill him.
Or not, gods I’m hopeless.

She thinks of how to ease Jarek into the conversation.
“Pretty flower.” She calls back to him. “Are you going to pick it for someone?”

  • Making a staff would be Ob1;
  • Making it strong and easily wielded (such that it wouldn’t give disadvantage for being used) pushes that to Ob2;
  • You are without a workshop, so your difficulty doubles to Ob4;
  • I’m going to add in a disadvantage, because the chemicals soaked up by the trees imbuing the wood compromises it’s structural integrity and changes it’s properties - Brings us to Ob5;
  • I assume you do this when you stop to rest the first night, so no further disadvantage for trying to do this on the move

Final difficulty Ob5
Roll carpentry for me, if you fail, you will spoil any staff you try to make on this trip.

Don’t forget, you may add dice by FoRKing in related knowledge, getting help, working carefully etc.


(Come evening time and the caravan halting for the night, Kaelin will rejoin the others, helping to set the fire and sharing out the last of the fresh forage he found yesterday. He’ll resume working on his fish hook, giving Simon a nod of respect when seeing him taking his tools to branch he recovered.)


Jarek was thinking about the conversations that he’d had about his father prior to joining the Musicians’ Battalion. Inside, nothing mattered to the musicians except skill. Who you were or where you came from were irrelevant if you could play or sing and keep up with the training. Outside, the young men in the barracks subtly adhered to the social ranks they held before they enlisted (or were conscripted). Someone like Jarek with no known parentage was an outsider. When the superior officers made comments to each other about their surprise at Jarek success inspite of who is father was, many of the boys overheard and this placed Jarek farther outside of the social world that existed within the barracks. Jarek was surprised that Warran and Aulexis could speak of their fathers as calmly as they did.

Jarek heard Aulexis approach, but was expecting a different question from her. “What? Oh… um… no.”


“So there’s something on your mind, then? We’re friends, here.” She smiles warmly. “And we’ve already told our embarrassing stories. What’s yours?”


(Literally all my skills relate to this, so I assume Staff? As that would give me knowledge of the final product needed.)

Simon is careful and asks the help of another former ships carpenter to aid him in the work. The two of them work into the night telling stories.


Jarek knew this moment would come. He looks around to make sure that that they are alone. Seeing no one in earshot, he squeezes the cube in his pocket as he begins quietly.

“I had a mission to steal something. So I got it. While I was leaving, I was seen somewhere that I shouldn’t have been. Kasia took me on because her brother told her that I needed to leave town and that she owed him a favor. The person I stole from is probably looking for me now. The only real question is how far he will go to find me.”


(( Not wanting to interrupt the conversation, I’ll just describe where you spend the night, but do carry on, this is only so you can incorporate details if you wish ))

As the evening draws in, the Exile Guide brings you to a strange site, a ruined village in the middle of the Silent Forest. The houses are collapsed from time and vegetation growth, and they are now roofless shells, the wood long rotted, the street now hosting trees and shrubs. Strangest of all, the houses are tiny, as if for children or the hobbits and halflings of legend.

The doorways are difficult to duck under, but the Exile leads you to one of the larger buildings. It was some form of a village hall perhaps, it’s stonework was once ornate and there is easily enough space for everyone. The Exile ducks through the doorway with grace.

Inside is the trappings of a regular stopover point, supplies of food, medicines and firewood, a working fireplace which is clearly frequently used and a stone roof which looks to be original.

“We will be safe in here from the silent death so long as the fires are roaring. It’ll be uncomfortably hot, but we’ll all wake in the morning. Bring the animals in too, herd them into a corner.”

She proceeds to set about carrying firewood to the central pit, and starts to build a large bonfire, directing anyone who looks inclined to help to do the same in each corner of the building, which each have a firepit and a hole carved from the wall to allow smoke to escape.

Once all lit, she is not wrong, the building heats up quickly - yet the Exile shuffles any who lay their bedrolls out near the open doorways in further, away from the fresh air from outside “You are not safe here” she tells them. Whoever made this knew how to work stone, the thick walls are superb insulators and carved with terrifying murals depicting seemingly angry giants emerging from the ground bearing swords.


Simon works carefully with the strange wood. Although conditions aren’t perfect the feel of the wood in his hands calms him in this strange location…

7d6: 2 + 2 + 6 + 6 + 2 + 3 + 2 = 23