The Lands of Yore: The Bortola Chronicles

Luca's Twelfth Birthday
Uncle Marco tells Luca the truth

At last they reached the summit of Shepherd’s Watch. The chilly wind whipped their hair against their faces as looked north across Ballena Bay, north towards the mainland, and Paccara, which lay over the horizon. They looked over the little town which Luca and his Uncle Marco called home, when they were not aboard El Cisne Negro, sailing from port to port. Down there, Luca’s aunt Candela would be making the evenings meal. It would be a small one. Today was Luca’s twelfth birthday: he had come of age. Today, as far as Bortolians were concerned, he was a man. They’d been feasting since the morning, the whole town invited to the celebrations. No one would be hungry in the town of Mamola tonight.

He knew his uncle well enough that he’d had something on his mind as they’d made the ascent up this hill. They’d spent years together, working closely, aboard the ship. For over ten years he’d been sleeping in his Uncle’s cabin, running messages for him to the mates, washing his clothes or whatever other errands he’d had for him. They both had salty blood, as it was said of sailors. The sea, the unending, always moving sea, that rose and fell like the fortunes of a man’s life, was the true home of them both. Perhaps even more so for Luca, who had been only two years old when he first began to regularly travel with Marco.

But now as he stood beside him, he remained patient. There was no sense pestering him. Uncle Marco always spoke in his own time.

“You’re a man now, lad.” He laid a hand on Luca’s shoulder, the warmth passing through his glove.

“It’s time I told you something I’ve been waiting a long time to say. You may not understand it at first. Perhaps you’ll be angry with me. But understand we’ve kept this secret from you for your own good. So promise me you’ll just listen and don’t be too rash to judgement.”

“I promise, Uncle,” said Luca looking up to Marco’s eyes. He was looking out over the water, but with Luca’s eyes on him, he looked down and met his stare. A smile rippled across his face, his eyes bunched up at the edges and wrinkles appeared on his forehead. Luca watched his Uncle’s face with growing curiosity.

“We told you that my brother Roque and his wife Dana were your parents. That they’d died of the plague and you’d been sent to us. It’s true they died of the plague about the time you were born, but they were not your parents. No, lad, your mother was my sister Maria-Estrella.”

“She was a maid in the palace, the king’s palace in Sacros, the palace of thirteen stars, as they call it. She started working there when she was twelve. The same age as you are today. She was pretty even then. I did visit her from time to time when I could. But it is a long journey from the coast to Sacros.”

“I heard later that in her sixteenth year, it was like a flower blooming. Noblewomen were jealous of her beauty and she caught the king’s eye. And that’s how you came to be, Luca. The king was seeing your mother. And not long after she was with child. And that child was you. ”/campaigns/the-lands-of-yore-the-bortoli-chronicles/characters/king-ferdinand-fernandez" class=“wiki-content-link”>Ferdinand the Wise is your father. And that’s the secret I’ve kept from you these almost twelve years."

“I’m sad to say your mother died not long after you were born. Ferdinand seems to have really loved your mother. He kept her cared for, in the palace, by the court doctor, throughout the pregnancy, or as soon as he’d realised she was pregnant. But when she died, the fires of his devotion turned to a bonfire of anger.”

“Your father, the king, must have felt strongly for your mother to have been so enraged by her death. Perhaps you can take some comfort in that Luca. But he was so enraged that Soccoro, your mother’s friend, feared for your safety. Somehow he thought you had caused her death, which of course is nonsense. It was the plague that took her. So Soccoro slipped you out of the palace grounds by night… who knows how she managed to get past the palace guard.. and took you to our cousin, and your uncle, Carlos, who in turn brought you to Paccara. It was there that I met him and brought you back here to Islagaard.”

“There were fires in Paccara as we sailed away to the south. They were burning the homes of plague victims, hoping to stop the pestilence from spreading. Luddite zealots were walking the streets, preaching the plague was a judgement from their damned god Ehowa. A punishment for our lack of belief, our lack of submission to their sky fairy. And people throughout the city were converting. They’d try anything in their fear to protect themselves. Others chased the Luddites out to the city limits, or threw vegetables, and then rocks at them, or tossed them out into harbour. Some just slit their throats and let them bleed out over the cobblestones.”

When we came into harbour, my crew would not even dare leave the ship. Our cargo was left aboard. There was no one working the docks to unload it. But Carlos had been waiting with you in the city. He knew I was due to port sometime in Luna de Heno. He waited in that plague ridden city for over three weeks for El Cisne Negro to sail into the harbour. He’d paid someone to watch out for us. And so you were only two moons old when I first laid my eyes on you. You’re lucky we’d even weighed anchor. The crew had wanted to turn round as soon as they’d seen the plague flags flying, but I’d said that with the plague in town, there’d be need for the supplies on board. As it turns out they never got them. I had thought to try unloading what we could without the dock workers’ help, but when Carlos brought you to me, I relented and we left as soon we could.

Carlos would not come with us. He had his own wife and family to return to, in Sacros. He’d worked as blacksmith there. I later heard from his wife that he died from the plague a few weeks after returning to them. A brave man, a worthy cousin."

“You’re a man this day, Luca, and you deserve to know the truth. But you must keep this secret. The king’s first wife, Queen Yolanda, never bore him children, so you are his first born son. But you are a bastard, to put it plainly. If this became widely known, it’d only cause you trouble. The king has three sons and two daughters now, your half-sisters and brothers, from Queen Mirana. And Prince Alejandro will be king when Ferdinand passes.”

“You’re happy enough with this life, aren’t you lad? No good can come of it… telling others of this tale. Your mother was a dear sister. A gentle woman. If only she were here to see you today. Her son a man. She’d be proud of you I’m sure.”

“And your father? Well, who knows what thoughts weigh on a king’s mind? You could be angry at him lad, I expect you are. Go off and kick something. Get into a fight. I won’t blame you. But in the end, and though there are some who’ll call this heresy, he’s just a man. If hold a grudge against him, you’ll only be harming yourself.”

Luca looked away then. Indeed there was a rage boiling up in him. Finally he looked back to Marco, watching him with concern.

“You joke with me, Uncle.”

“Nay, it’s no joke lad. I would not joke on this.”

Luca’s eyes went back to the ocean. The surging sea churned by late winter winds.

“I should stick him like a pig! That man!”

“That’s it lad. Let it out.”

He picked up a fist sized rock from the earth and tossed it down the hill. It cracked against granite boulders jutting through the soil as it made it’s way down the slope.

“I’d be alone, Uncle.”

“It’s well, Luca, it’s well. I’ll return to your Aunt. You come home when you’re ready.”

“It’s well, Uncle. It’s well.”

He watched the figure of his uncle as it descending towards the town. The only father he’d ever known.

3rd October 2013: Bookkeeping

3rd October 2013 Bookkeeping

  • Added the Boy lifepath to Paul’s character, between Son of a Gun and Desperate Killer. Got 4 skill points and 1 trait point. Added 3 skills: Captain-wise B2, Sailor-wise B2 and Ship-wise B2. Added 1 to Persuasion (now B5). Lost one physical stat point: Speed changed from B4 to B3. New trait is “Veneer of Obedience”. Age increased from twenty-two to twenty-six years old.
  • Reviewed Luca and Judd’s beliefs.
  • Daniel finally spent 4 general skill points for Judd: Opened Criminal-wise (B1). Opened and added one point to Comedy (B2). Added one point to Persuasion (B3→B4).

Luca de Mariposo’s Beliefs

  1. There is a good business opportunity with The Hawk. I will build a good relationship with him and his organisation. (GM note: How?)
  2. Judd is an important asset. I will do my best to keep him and Hanna safe.
  3. I will get a handle on what the Celestials are doing in Paccara, so I have information to trade with The Hawk.
  4. I will improve the conditions and decor in The Cat’s Paw. (How?)

Other goals: Continue learning to read (and write?) from the temple priestesses. Practicing in secret in my office.


Judd’s Beliefs

Only the third of these has changed for the moment. Previously had a belief about going to Islaagard, but has been convinced by Luca to stay in Paccara, for now.

  1. I need money to start a new life. Being a sell-sword is an honourable pursuit. I will take any mercenary work that is reasonable.
  2. Carla has taken me for granted for too long. I will start a new life with Hanna.
  3. I will wait to see if I can fully trust Luca. For now, I will stay in The Cat’s Paw.
  4. If I get a chance, I’ll learn more about the Hanryean gang, and try to get back Hanna’s other possessions.


Judd added instinct:

1. When threatened, make a joke to diffuse the situation.


First Session (from The Burning Wheel forum)
Notes on the first session in the campaign, originally posted in The Burning Wheel forum.

Brief Introduction:

Was first introduced to Burning Wheel sometime around the middle of last decade by a fellow on eBay I was buying some RPG books from. Bought Burning Wheel Revised soon after that recommendation, but never played it, though discussed it with members of a D&D group I sometimes play with.

Bought Burning Wheel Gold soon after it was released. Commenced evangelical campaign with fellow role players to give it a go, even convinced another to buy it. Raved to a gaming shop owner about it for 30 minutes while visiting Sydney earlier this year. Also mentioned it to the local gaming shop. But did not play it, until now… (well actually last Tuesday night)

The Campaign Begins:

Had the day off work Tuesday. A friend comes around to play Vampire: The Masquerade (the new 20th anniversary edition) with my house mate, and I get roped into the game, fairly willingly, quickly making a Brujah biker who listens to the Beatles and gets advice from the ghost of his brother, who was also a biker, murdered sometime in the 1950s.

Afterwards, “Hey, how about we play Burning Wheel?”

Quickly burn up a character for the visiting friend (took about an hour), but my house mate is too tired so gives up halfway through burning his.

Decide to play one-on-one with the friend and bring in my house mate another time. Really just wanted to actually play the game instead of just reading it. Give the rules a spin and see what happens.

Initial impressions:

Brilliant! Paul, the visiting friend, thought the character generation rules were awesome, giving him lots of ideas about his character fairly effortlessly.

Used the simple rules from the first 106 pages. Though not entirely sure how to apply them, the action kept flowing nonetheless with very little prep time, just a brief world burning discussion. We were both a little tanked on cheap wine which may have helped.

Deadwood in Renaissance Florence

Simple summary of the setting was Deadwood set in a Renaissance Italian type city. A port city named Paccar (now Paccara) in the country of Bortoli (the brand of wine we were drinking. Now Bortola). Actually, Bortoli was a mixture of Renaissance Italian and Ancient Egyptian, with an emphasis on the Italian side, and the city itself somewhat like Firenze and Venice. The Egyptian element mostly came from the religion of the people: the worship of the Sun.

The Sun god is not prayed to, only gratitude is shown. The Sun gives us life, what we make of it is our choice. This contrasts with the religion of a nearby country, Lombardo, where the priests and people pray for miracles and personal advantage. The people of Bortoli find that despicable. Bortoli is also hostile politically with Lombardo, as the latter is supplying arms and other means of support to Kornokovia, with whom Bortoli is at war.

Kornokovia is a nation about a 12 day sea journey to the West from the port of Paccar. Loosely based on the Americas, it was formerly a colony of Bortoli before the War of Independence. That was 200 years ago and the two nations have been at war off and on ever since. At this time, the conflict is just starting to ramp up again (Changed: Still a colony but there have been several separatist uprisings. At the moment, another uprising is underway and the king of Bortola, Ferdinand III, has said he will be introducing conscription to get troops to put down the rebels.).

Just North of Kornokovia is a smallish island nation known as Eustania, loosely based on Iceland. It is famous for its beautiful women and its mead.

Danielle (Now: Luca) , the Whore Monger with a Heart:

Paul’s character has the lifepaths: Son of a Gun, Desperate Killer, Whore monger, Smuggler (Now: Son of a Gun → Boy → Lead to Outcast → Desperate Killer → Smuggler → Whoremonger).

We decided that he was involved in the slave trade of beautiful Eustanian women to brothels in Bortoli (and perhaps elsewhere on the continent) as well as smuggling items between Kornokovia and Bortoli. The recent conflict between Bortoli and their former colony has made the seas dangerous, so Danielle has resettled in his hometown of Paccor and set up a brothel, The Cat’s Paw, with his favourite whore, Maggie, selling his share of the boat he smuggled with to his ex-smuggling partner.

He also happens to be a bastard son of the current king of Bortoli. His mother (Maria Estrella Delgado) was a kitchen girl who died of the plague and Danielle was sent to grow up on a boat soon after being born (details have not yet been worked out).

Due to his previous career, he has been able to secure 8 particularly beautiful Eustanian women to work in his brothel, which has made some of the other local brothel owners jealous and worried he’ll steal their business.

Danielle is somewhat based on Al Swearengan and Maggie on Trixie from the HBO series “Deadwood”. He is in love with her, as much as he can be in love with anyone. One of his beliefs is: “I will protect Maggie to the death”.

So the opening scene of course was her being rapped up in a roll of fabric and kidnapped by four hired thugs. Danielle managed to catch up with them, and in a murderous rage sliced two down in the street, struck another unconscious while another fled. Then returned Maggie to their home.

The bodies were found by the town guard and the unconscious thug arrested. The rest of session was taken up with trying to find out who had paid the thugs to carry out the kidnapping. This involved bribing the town guard to have the prisoner taken to his wine cellar for an interrogation/torture session, who then fed him false information. Then visiting the same prisoner again in a hospice at the Sun god’s temple once he discovered he’d been lied to.

Actually one of the best parts of the session was when Danielle visited another brothel, The Golden Hare, to speak with the owner, Betrosi, who the thug falsely named as his employer. Betrosi is a smart dressing pimp with a taste for art and astronomy.

The session ended with Danielle finally getting the thug in the hospice to reveal that his employer is The Hawk, a mysterious underworld figure in Paccar.

On The Farm (not Maggie’s)

Today my house mate finally finished burning his character, which looking at the character sheet just now, realise hasn’t been named (_He’s now named Judd).

His lifepaths are: City Born → Confidence Man → Sailor → Mercenary Captain

He worked on the ship with Danielle (Now Luca) for sometime. Now he’s also off the ships and has set up a small vineyard with his wife, Carla, and four of his mercenary men: Rhombeasi, Woody (Woodaldo), Pantusso and Maloni. You may spot the “Cheers” reference.

Rhombeasi has a darker than average past that he doesn’t like talking about and enjoys drinking and whittling on the front porch. Pantusso has a skill for delivering babies and is a bit of a know-it-all (Cliff Claven). Maloni in the opening scene is being chased by the neighbouring farmer after a night of passion with his daughter. Woody is constantly pushing a pig named Cletus around in a cart because Cletus starts screaming if he ever stops and Woody says “Cletus stops me thinking about the past”.

We just described the initial scene. Currently focused on the belief, “I will get Cletus out of that damn cart so I can give him a bath and wash out that shit filled cart”. This is being reinforced by his nagging wife saying that Cletus “really, really stinks” and the cart having an extremely squeaky wheel. He approached Woody and had a brief discussion about his attachment to Cletus. A possible plan is to get both Woody and Cletus stinking drunk. Cleetus the pig is also an alcoholic. We’re probably going to play that out tomorrow. I’m pissing myself laughing as I type.

The Burning Wheel forum post


Now based on Spain, rather than Italy. And the country name has changed to Bortola. Adjectival form: Bortolian.

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.


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