Begin With: It is Sacred Time, the fourteen days preceding the Spring Equinox in which the old year dies, the new year is born, and the barrier between worlds is thin. It is a time for the Clan to perform divinations and rituals for the coming year. Everyone's support is needed for these rituals, so that the gods will hear the voices of the clan. Which ritual do the PCs attend? (Note: as the PCs are all male at this time, women's mysteries are omitted. Rest assured that rituals to Ernalda, Chalana Arroy, and Uralda are also performed!)
SCENE 1 (one of the following, or both, based on what the players chose)
* The War Dance: Omens warn of coming conflict. A flock of ravens has nested in the Holy Tree (an ancient oak standing alone on a hill top, struck seven times by lightning in recorded history). In these uncertain times the clan needs magical strength to face the possibility of war. Jorgunath Bladesong has convinced the clan ring to sponsor a War Dance to Humakt, and to sacrifice seven cows to him. Bladesong, the weapon thanes, and any other men who wish to participate gather at the cremation grounds, paint their faces bones white, and perform this solemn rite. There is no chanting or singing, only the sound of a drum. At the climax the cattle are killed and offered up in a great holocaust. Those who participate may spend a Hero Point to gain "The War Dance" at 13. This is a augment (+2) that can be added to all combat rolls or relations with Bladesong, the weapon thanes, and Humakti for the coming year.
* The Plough Blessing: This is the largest and most popular rite, sponsored each year by the leading carls of the clan. It involves a great feast, with food set aside especially for it during the previous harvest. It is open to all men. The Stone Toss is performed, where all men who wish to participate demonstrate their strength by lifting and throwing a great stone. The winner is the man who can throw it farthest (it has it's origin in clearing stones from the field to plough them). A bull is offered to Barntar, and all men are anointed with its blood. The animal is then cooked and eaten, with the winner of the Stone Toss given its testicles (a delicacy said to ensure sexual potency). A Hero Point may be spent by the winner of the Toss to cement "The Plough God's Blessing" at 13. This gives a +2 augment to all farming rolls, feats of strength, and displays of sexual prowess for one year. If the character marries, he will father a strong child.
Regardless of which ceremony they join, all will be present for the Barn Dance, a popular event held each Sacred Time for young, unmarried men and women. Forbidden to marry or have sexual relations with members of one's own clan, neighboring clans hold such events to host eligible bachelors and bachelorettes from other tulas. This year the Haraborn are hosting, with guests from the Enjossi. It is a light feast with dancing, watched over by clan elders from both sides. It may trigger the episodes A Courtship.
The Barn Dance includes this year Harthar Henglesson and Kodor Jursittisson, two of the men the PCs rescued during The Treasure Hunt Rite. Both are single, and both have chosen to remain with the Haraborn for a time to work off the debt they feel they owe them for their rescue. Gronogar Ulugathson, Jornin Dondarson, and Irigan Farnagarson are also there. (Note; this session two new players, Refik and Lorne, joined the cast, assuming the roles of Jornin and Irigan).
The Situation: The day after the Barn Dance, the PCs are summoned to the Chieftain's Hall. They will not be told the reasons why, only to be quiet and unobtrusive. Upon arriving, they discover a small group of strangers before the clan ring. It is the bounty hunter they rescued the slaves from, Frithvold Jarantius, accompanied by four men of the Lunar-allied Sambari clan.
Short Term Goal: The loss of his prisoners has damaged Jarantius' reputation. He wants them back, or compensation for them equal to three cows per man. Because he is an outlander with no legal rights, he has brought the Sambari with him to press his claim on his behalf. They are displeased because the raid took place in the lands given to them by the Lunars, and would like to see the culprits punished.
Long Term Goal: The Sambari were a minor clan until the Lunars came, and were defeated several times in the past by the Haraborn. They would love to see their old enemies destroyed.
Scene 1: To avoid this becoming a long scene in which the Narrator, playing all the NPCs, is talking to himself, the players should be given a sheet for various members of the clan ring, including the chieftain, while the Narrator portrays Jarantius. Jarantius knows his prisoners are here (if asked how he knows he will reveal the fox pelt...he captured and killed the magical animal after making it talk). He also knows he has no legal standing, but the Sambari with him do, and they will insist that he--and all who travel the King's Road through Richberry Vale--was under their protection. If it cannot be resolved now, Jarantius will threaten bringing a Lunar magistrate into the matter. The clan ring has a duty to protect the clan and it's members, but a price of 15 cattle is dear. In addition, he demands that one ear be cut off of each boy to mark them as thieves, something totally outside Heortling custom. What will they do?
Pay the Cattle and Punish the Boys
This would be very damaging to the chieftain and ring's reputation. The PCs will be disfigured, and the clan will call for the chieftain to stand down for weakness and surrendering to a disgusting foreign custom. If the boys participated in the War Dance, Bladesong will speak out against this decision (he should be played by the Narrator), and run against the chieftain for election.
Pay the Cattle without Punishing the Boys
This will damage the Chieftain's standing with the carls, but the clan will stay intact. The PCs will actually suffer a negative reputation among other clan members for a year (+3 to social interaction resistances) as trouble makers.
Pay Half the Cattle
The clan will not be happy, but they will support their chieftain. The boys may suffer some ridicule over the year, but no actual penalty. Jarantius will not be pleased, but the Sambari will not risk clan war over the issue.
Refuse Jarantius Everything
This will increase the chieftain's standing among the clan, and actually give the boys a +2 bonus in their social interactions with the men of the clan (but not the more rational women) as getting the chieftain to stand up to the Lunars. However, the Sambari will file a formal complaint with Temertain's government, leading to trouble in the future.
Kill Jarantius and send the Sambari Away
This would be a violation of the terms of surrender following Starbrow's Rebellion (killing a Lunar citizen). The Lunars would definitely get involved, seizing 1 cattle for every two Haraborn men (essentially taxing the clan twice that year).
Kill them all
Of course the joy in roleplaying is players doing the unexpected. Scene 4 spontaneously arose when the players, still in the parts parts of the Clan Ring, decided to send Jarantius away with less than half the cattle (a token third). Fearing repercussions against the boys, the Ring decided it was best to send them all away for awhile. Because most of the boys chose to participate in the War Dance, Jorgunath Bladesong arranged for them to go the Narri Clan at the north edge of Colymar lands, where his mother came from. There is a temple of Humakt there that can teach them the arts of war.
Along the way we finished the session with another episode, an encounter with Broo in a high mountain pass.