Ace of Hearts: The Empty Throne – Crises

Following on from the previous article here are some ideas for standard card-draw crises for use when playing the Empty Throne version of Ace of Hearts.

Crises

Jokers

Red

The Great Festival in celebration of The First Emperor has brought citizens, merchants and nobles from across the land to the Imperial Isle. The city swarms with people and opportunities, a ripe moment for appearing in public and winning the hearts and minds of the people.

Add one token to every location.

Black

The political infighting over the throne has the people spooked while they wait for revolution or civil war to break out. Many of the great and the good have decided to leave the city, reducing the ability of the warring factions to turn people to their cause. The public needs to be reassured and calmed.

Take one token away from every location.

Spades – Political Manoeuvring

2

The palace staff and those who hold ceremonial positions can also wield a certain amount of power. They hear things and the approval of the Master of Chambers – for example, can carry a decent amount of weight with regard to tradition. Winning over the police staff is a worthy goal.

Add one token to the palace location.

3

Rumour has it that there are secret passages that riddle the palace, constructed when it was built and used by the Emperor’s family and his bodyguards. If you could find some of these passages you – and your agents – might be able to move, unobserved, throughout the palace and listen in on conversations, giving you an advantage.

4

Even without The Emperor the forum still meets, a gathering of nobles – and those who have bought influence – as well as the more powerful figures from the church. Without the Emperor to have a final say on matters things tend to go on and on without conclusion but if you could show that the forum can still be effective, through your leadership, it would win many to your side.

Add two tokens to the palace location.

5

Madam Lily, owner and mistress of The Golden Lily, requests an audience with you to discuss certain, delicate, matters. Much of what goes on in Lily’s is illegal, but a blind eye is turned due to the attentions of the nobility. Without the Emperor the guards have grown a little more zealous in their pursuit, knowing she is unprotected. She would like you to pass a law through the forum, legalising any such pernicious activity, within her abode only and only in private. In return she will throw much of her fortune and political weight behind you.

Add one token to the palace and one to The Golden Lily.

6

A delegation of nervous looking nobles approaches you. Of the various factions vying for the throne they have decided that you could represent their best bet for fair treatment. They will put their money, their influence, their families and their retainers behind you if you will sign a contract, undertaking to grant them titles once you come to power. The level of the title and how much support they’ll give you is a matter of negotiation.

Add one token to the palace and one to the merchant quarter.

7

A delegation sent from the Hierophant wishes to meet you in your palace rooms. The Hierophant is concerned about the lax morals and decreasing faith to be found within The Imperial Isle and wants to know where you will stand on such matters should you become Emperor. They don’t offer any support as such, but there is something of an understanding…

Add one token to the palace and one to the cathedral.

8

A messenger brings a letter, crudely written in a scrawling hand from Black Jason, the ‘prince’ of one of the thieve’s isles. His guild of thieves, cut-throats and pirates sees an opportunity – given the change in power – to gain legitimacy. He wishes his isle, one of the larger ones, to become an official district of the Imperial Isle and for him to be granted amnesty and a title. Should you be so willing, the title can wait, but perhaps you can convince the forum to bring them into the fold.

Add one  token to the palace and one to the thieve’s isles.

9

The ambassadors from the Empire’s neighbours are a strange lot indeed from the perfumed and masked women of Targir to the dark, scarred warriors of Shenk, and many more. Foreign powers cannot be seen to interfere in the affairs of the Empire but a prospective Emperor should have good relations with friends and allies abroad, or at least not start a war.

10

Nobles do not normally mingle with the people, but the support of the mob could be the tipping point. Perhaps a day in the market kissing babies, pressing flesh and empathising with the common man will earn the support of the people. ‘The people’ tend to make other nobles nervous, so if you can woo them to your side, or at least not inspire them to revolt, you should be doing well.

J

Tomorrow you have an opportunity during the ceremony of offering to the sea to make a grand public speech, to impress the people and the other nobles with your oratory, your wisdom and your charisma. You had best make it a good speech…

Q

Sometimes you need to make short term losses for long term gains. Several members of the forum might be swayed if you give them something of yours. Lands, money, patronage, favour. You just need to work out who needs what and what you can give them.

K

Lady Elisan Vo Galnar and her twin Sirhan Vo Galnar have come of age and thier family are seeking suitable candidates to wed them. While the Galnar estate has no vested interest in who will be Emperor, as yet, a political marriage and match would bring them into the fold and such a respected family connection would definitely increase your standing and chances of grabbing the throne.

A

While the forum cannot select a new Emperor themselves they can throw their collective weight behind a candidate, which will help them considerably. This is the voice of the forum as a whole, not its individual members. They are moving to a vote to back one of the many factions and this is your chance to persuade them to select you.

Clubs – Shady Dealing

2

Many of the great Emperors of the past have cultivated strong relationships with the thieve’s isles. The thieves and pirates supplement the navy and the army in times of danger and make excellent spies, thieves and assassins. With the throne in contention, the pirate ‘princes’ may be receptive to meetings and deals.

Add one token to the thieve’s isles.

3

The Raventongue is a guild of assassins that operates throughout the Empire. Their patronage will go to whomever gets to them first and offers them the most. A cadre of hired killers, skilled at remaining invisible, will make a good bodyguard and a useful tool for the removal of those who threaten your position. If you can convince them to back you.

Add one token to the thieve’s isles.

4

The upheaval has allowed the Red Sails pirate fleet to return, en masse, to the thieve’s isles. The almost rival the imperial fleet in size, although their ships are smaller, fleeter and less well armed. Nonetheless their depredations upon merchant traffic are a concern and their presence is destabilising. Someone who could deal with them – one way or another – would gain a good deal of favour.

Add two tokens to the thieve’s isles and take one away from the merchant district.

5

The courtesans at The Golden Lily are known as much for the way they don’t wag their tongues as much as the ways that they do. Still, everyone has their price, everyone has a way they can be corrupted, everyone can be turned somehow. If you can turn one of the courtesans to your side you will have a channel for blackmail, gossip and whispers unparalleled in any other spy organisation.

Add one token to The Golden Lily.

6

While no contender would be so gauche as to directly assassinate one of their competitors, supporters, agents, adjutants and lieutenants are fair game. First you must convince the Raventongue, The Walking Death or one of the other assassin guilds to take the contract, no mean undertaking.

7

Money is an excellent substitute for raw political power and authority, when you can get it. Merchants are fundamentally aware of their own political inadequacy and are obsessed with money – two qualities that make them relatively easily manipulated. Perhaps you can spread a rumour that your rivals will increase taxes or otherwise curtail the power of the merchants and the guilds…

8

It is whispered that The Hierophant is considering making a bid for the throne himself, to turn the Empire into a theocracy with the church at its head. With the Empire divided against itself and with their own force of temple knights as well as the support of many of the people, they could well accomplish it. Unless they can be dissuaded.

9

It is suspected, though not yet proven, that the chairman of the forum has an illegitimate daughter, born to a maid that he discharged from his service. It’s possible that he still sees her, or his daughter, or that there is some evidence to show the relation. He could be removed or blackmailed, with such information.

10

The agent of one of the thieve’s guilds contacts you claiming hat his gang have some juicy blackmail material on you. If it were to get out your chances of taking the throne would be severely diminished. If you can deal with this threat, one way or another, you’ll show your strength and word will spread amongst the criminal classes.

J

It seems someone has decided that you need to be removed from the race, permanently. A group of assassins assault your home and you had best hope you can escape or that your bodyguards are up to the task!

Q

There are indulgences, vices, that many partake of. Wine and women cannot really be controlled effectively but scarlet weed… that’s another matter. Only two smuggling operations bring the weed into the Imperial Isle and the weed is horrendously addictive and very expensive. Given that combination you just know that the influential must be addicted to it and if you can eradicate or control those smuggling operations you’ll have a tool of control.

K

There are those amongst the educated yeomanry who would see an end to nobility and the existing social order. These dangerous revolutionaries are not especially organised as of yet but they do represent a danger. They might be turned, directed or eliminated, as you see fit. Fanatics do have their uses.

A

The Eye is the masked and unknown spymaster to the Emperors. Nobody knows who he is or who his agents are. He is rarely seen and then only at court, limiting the opportunities to find out who he is or to turn him to your cause. Still, perhaps something can be arranged or you can persuade them.

Hearts – Personal Relationships

2

Madame Lily of The Golden Lily is one of those powerful, influential people that nobody should claim to know too well. She grants favours to her lovers and friends and knows a great deal though. Cultivating her can give you an edge on power.

Add two tokens to The Golden Lily.

3

Every courtesan has her favourite client and your rivals have their favourite courtesans. If you can get your hands on one, without being found out, without the subterfuge being known, you can get information from her.

Add one token to The Golden Lily.

4

Sex, drugs, alcohol and a reputation for discretion make tongues loose at The Golden Lily. This makes it an excellent place to meet your rivals or those you want to twist to your cause. Indulging a person’s vices not only makes them loose lipped but if you pick up the bill it will also make them more well disposed to you. An evening of debauchery and indulgence would seem to be in order.

Add one token to The Golden Lily.

5

Baroness Thaler/Baron Hast has been alone some years since he death of their spouse. Convention demands that they cannot remarry or engage in any affairs but they wield the power and resources of two houses joined as one and they must be lonely, provided you can be discrete.

6

Your brother, whom you have never truly gotten on with, has been publicly speaking out against you, greatly weakening your position and your chances of gaining the throne. If you cannot rely on your own family, how can anyone else be relied upon to follow you? They need dealing with, or bringing back into the fold.

7

Duke Gann is the head of the Imperial Isle army and a known and noted carouser. He doesn’t trust anyone who can’t hold their liquor and if you want to win him to your side you’ll have to show you can keep up with him in the taverns, brothels and bars of the Imperial City.

8

Erasmus, the Imperial Astrologer, might be convinced to cast an auspicious horoscope for you if you can put up with his infernal and sacrilegious twittering. He is popular at court, especially with the female courtiers and if he says you are destined or fated many of the weak-minded fools will follow suit.

Add one token to the palace.

9

The way to a merchant’s heart is through his wallet but professional and personal relationships often intertwine. Guildmaster Voruman handles a great deal of shipping and can supply a great many needs but he likes that ‘personal touch’ especially with his noble clients. In order to strike a deal you must offer both money and friendship – convincingly – but then you will have a true and loyal friend.

Add one token to the merchant’s district.

10

The Hierophant and the priesthood will not lend support to anyone that they do not believe is devout. For you to convince the priesthood that you are devout you will have to endure many sermons, display knowledge of religious concepts and agree with their dubious and hidebound moral judgements. Still, they’re popular with the people and a personal relationship with a powerful priest will serve you well.

Add one token to the cathedral.

J

There are only a few things that the pirate ‘princes’ of the thieve’s isles respect. Mostly strength, but also a rascal and a rogue that is their equal. An expedition into the thieve’s isles to prove either of these things will earn you respect or camaraderie from the ‘princes’ and either cow them not to interfere with you, or make the fast friends.

Add one token to the thieve’s isles.

Q

A political match has been suggested by your family. It would bring power and wealth and solidify your position but you would have to part with your existing partner or partners and the spouse that they are suggesting is a foul tempered and disagreeable cuss. You’d rather mate with a boar. If you’re not going to marry them you need to find a way to let your family – and them – down gently. If you are willing to marry them then their family will still need a little convincing.

K

You need a confidante you can trust, someone to share your plans and schemes with just to get them off your chest, to relieve the tension, to have someone else’s opinion but they must be someone you can trust absolutely. Where to find such a person?

A

The Emperor’s diaries have been interred along with him. Many tomes of his secrets, his understandings, his experiences. To get your hands on those would give you an insight into his nature and the politics that exists behind the scenes but only a member of the imperial family can access the tomes and only his barren Empress remains. Old, tired and grieving she will be hard to befriend.

Diamonds – Money Talks

2

The merchant district is crowded, building on top of itself and desperately needs to expand into other areas. Where can it expand though? Into cathedral grounds? Into the pirate isles? Into the noble quarter? You can intercede with your influence but it may cost you support in other areas.

Add two tokens to the merchant district.

3

Atrigan is a merchant ‘venturer, heading out to find new trade routes and new goods. He seeks a noble sponsor to aid in his latest expedition and thus far all that he has approached have dismissed his mission as foolish. He plans to sail further than ever before, questing for new lands, new spices, but he needs your help – provided its not a fool’s errand he could bring you glory.

Add one token to the merchant district.

4

It’s boom time for the merchants. Of late the guilds and the trading houses have been gaining more and more power and influence as their trading empire and wealth increases. Truth is, if this carries on they won’t need the nobles. Now is the time to invest, control or curtail in order to retain power.

Add two tokens to the merchant district.

5

Madame Lily of The Golden Lily pays you a rare visit and, over tea, in more gentle words, threatens to expose your secrets and little ‘kinks’ unless you pay her and her house a certain amount of protection. After all, they can’t be too careful in all this upheaval.

6

The palace costs a great deal to maintain and upkeep and with the Imperial house in disarray it has not been receiving its usual care. A suitable donation, or perhaps some other investment, should see the palace kept in the manner it is required to be and earn you some serious respect.

Add one token to the palace.

7

The priesthood is rich but they never say no to more money. Offerings to the church are offerings to the gods and the gods favour – and that of the church – follows if you give greatly to their coffers, or can offer them something else of equal interest to them. The church also likes land, retainers and oh so many other material comforts while they wait for the bliss of the immaterial.

Add two tokens to the cathedral.

8

The best way to convince the thieve’s isles not to interfere with you is to be one of their customers. Provided you don’t care about where goods come from and nobody finds out you can get good deals from them and as a valued customer they won’t interfere. Trade flows two ways though… you might have other ways to convince them.

Add one token to the thieve’s isles.

9

The power of most nobles is built on agricultural land and you are no exception. If you can get more work and more goods out of your lands, or sell them at a cheaper price, you can either persuade the merchants that you’re a good person to know for trade or get a good store of money by working your lands harder.

10

Without an Emperor on the throne the imperial tariff has not been collected. The traders are having a field day but all that money is going to waste. Perhaps the tariff could be struck back up by agreement or you could raise taxes through your holdings, or perhaps the mere threat of doing so will bring some merchants into line.

J

A party of foreign merchants has come to the city, seeking to sell goods and set up trade routes and relationships. There’s stiff competition to win their trade but riches to be earned by doing so. All you need to do is to convince them.

Q

A campaign requires money and you have a few treasures you could offload but you had best be sure to get a decent price. From whom?

K

Kalgorin mercenaries have heard of the troubles and have arrived in the city to offer their services. While a mercenary likes to get paid they also like to be on the winning side and it will take more than a heavy coin purse by itself to persuade them to side with you.

A

Granting a letter of marque, legitimising a pirate operation and giving them the cover of your name and title is an excellent way to make money and friends from the thieve’s isles. Knowing who is the right person to trust, the right person to lend your support to is important though. A butcher, however profitable, will reflect poorly on you and it must be a man of honour.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s