Jarla Jona: Jarl of Dragonstar, leader of the Fire-Hand Clan, and possible successor to the Kingdom of the Reach. A bloodthirsty and aging warhorse who, even thirty years later, feels cheated by the Imperial intervention in the siege of Dragonstar. Determined to stamp out the SDG and complete her conquest of DSW, before turning her attentions elsewhere in the Reach.
Prince Alaktol: Prince of the territories lost during Bend’r-Mahk. Can call upon Crown forces from surrounding tombas, but knows that Jona’s forces would likely overwhelm his if the conflict turns hot. Trying to manipulate the SDG into distracting Jona and weakening her hold on DSE. Retaking the city is the first step in his long-term plan to recapture the Reach.
Blades handler: Working behind the scenes to maintain stability in Dragonstar. Contrary to Imperial policy, which is officially neutral and seeks to maintain the current border (with a dwindling garrison), they believe one side needs to claim a swift victory in order to prevent greater conflict. Will ask the player to join either faction, and then offer alternate ways of completing the objectives in order to prevent a full-scale war breaking out.
Fire-Hand clan: Much more lightly-armed than the DSE garrison, these raiders are fanatically loyal to Jona. Generally used for skirmishing and counter-insurgency, although they are scattered across the Reach and not directly under the jarl's command.
Sogat dur-Gada: Redguard insurgents who want to see the Nords pushed out of the Reach. Although Prince Alaktol is the rightful Crown ruler, they are not completely loyal to him and resent his seemingly passive inaction. Responsible for numerous killings across the Reach and most likely source of the War of Bend'r-Mahk resuming (which they would quite like).
Introductory quests: no affiliation, just serve to point the player towards the quest-givers and can be picked up by accident. Or, necessary to complete in order to gain the quest-givers’ attention.
- Discovering the SDG hideout:
- Talking to the Blades handler: if the player is a recognised Blades operative within Skyrim, talking to the DS Blades handler (possibly a prelate at the Taurus Hall shrine?) will lead them to ask for assistance with an unspecified task. Agree, and they will take the player into their confidence, sharing their belief that Dragonstar represents a powder keg that, if the conflict turns hot, could reignite the Bend’r-Mahk War and destabilise Western Skyrim/Eastern Hammerfell. Thus, they want the player to side with one faction (Jona or Alakol) and aid them in swiftly bringing the conflict to an end.
- Let’s set the tone with this one. Jona believes that one of her soldiers has sold information to the SDG, and asks you to assist her thane in uncovering the traitor’s identity. Once uncovered, their death should be public and messy. Maybe (if we want to be super grimdark, but also demonstrate Jona’s scary paranoia) the thane says he doubts there is a traitor, but you both need to come up with one anyway. Arbitrary murder time.
For example: the thane says he believes it's one of three soldiers, and sends the player to investigate. If the player names one them, they are executed and the quest successful. If the player returns and says they can't find evidence indicating any of them (since, y'know, there isn't any) the thane patiently explains that if Jona believes there is a traitor, they need to find one. A soldier needs to be named and executed for the quest to be successful.
(Blades) Let’s set the tone with this one too. The Blades handler encourages you to go through with the execution in order to demonstrate your loyalty and win Jona’s confidence.
- The assassins who murdered Jona’s husband and thanes have been painfully brought to justice, but the one who ordered the attack survives. The player is tasked with uncovering this person’s identity (asking around in the taverns, etc.). They are also encouraged to cultivate informants (NPCs who like the player and know what they’re talking about) in DSW. Once the identity is known, eliminate them and bring Jona a token.
(Blades) The Blades know the identity of the target, but want your word that you will not try to harm them. This is because they act as a valuable informant from inside the SDG. If the player gives their word, the identity is revealed and the player is encouraged to fake the target’s death for Jona’s benefit. Revealing your affiliation with the Blades will get the target to cooperate in this.
- Jona is willing to reward the player with honorary initiation into the Fire-Hand clan. If the player accepts (necessary to proceed) then they are accepted and given a token of membership. Jona then informs the player that one of her thanes is planning a celebratory raid against a peaceful Reachman village in the area, and encourages them to go and take part.
(Blades) Attacking and provoking peaceful settlements in the Reach is no good. Either persuade the thane to attack the Reachman bandits outside DS instead, or tip off Imperial authorities about the raid and have the thane arrested beforehand.
- Convinced of the player’s loyalty, Jona excitedly reveals that she has a SDG agent in her dungeons and has been waiting to begin their interrogation. She asks the player to work with her torturer and uncover the SDG cell that has been ambushing her patrols outside the city. The player can use dialogue, persuasion or Jona’s torturer to extract this information. Once acquired, the player is tasked with recovering whatever intelligence they can from the hideout, preferably by wiping out its inhabitants.
(Blades) As the SDG are a very destabilising group, the Blades support exterminating them as well.
- Now that the SDG around Dragonstar have been largely dealt with, Jona is starting to get ideas about making a move on DSW. She needs intelligence on the strength, morale and placements of both the Crown garrison and the Imperial peacekeepers. Uncover this information and return with it to Jona.
(Blades) The Blades have this information, and readily turn it over to you. They are prepared to (secretly) back Jona’s planned attack, but want to move Imperial soldiers out of harm’s way. To this end, they ask that you manipulate the garrison commander and have the troops in DS redeployed (probably to Taurus Hall, suggestions welcome).
- Jona knows that the Imperials have a spy in her court, and asks the player to uncover their identity.
(Blades) Obviously, the Blades do not want you to reveal their spy. Instead, they ask you to plant evidence on one of the castle’s servants (and then, ideally, help them escape before telling Jona).
- By now, the skeleton Imperial garrison that remain have barred the doors and shut off all transit between DSW and DSE. Thus, the player is charged with finding another way into DSW - if they uncovered SDG intelligence in their raid, they’ll know that there are tunnels leading from inside the Fighters Guild; otherwise, they’ll need to find the way themselves. The player will then need to “occupy” the tunnels - either massacring the inhabitants or turning that job over to Jona’s guards if they’re squeamish.
(Blades) The Blades will inform the player of the FG tunnels.
- Knowing that Alaktol is summoning reinforcements from further to the west, Jona sends you with a detachment of soldiers to capture the border fort and bar the way into DS. The player will need to massacre the Imperial troops stationed there.
(Blades) Anticipating Alaktol's actions, the DS Blades handler has already sent for and received official orders for Imperial troops at the border fort to bar Crown soldiers from entering DS. The player simply needs to deliver these orders and then report back to Jona (she will be annoyed, but trust the player’s word).
- Jona has already launched her attack by the time you return from the border fort. The player will make their way through a burning DSW to the Crown Palace, where the prince and his guards are holed up. Jona instructs the player to commit some atrocity (suggestions?) in order to force the prince to surrender.
(Blades) The Blades would prefer you didn’t commit atrocities (perhaps the nature of this particular one would enrage the Hammerfell nobility?) and instead encourage you to infiltrate the palace and murder the prince to end this. He is in his room at the top of the palace - perhaps the player can use levitation to bypass the barricades and soldiers.
- Who knows how to finish this? Star Wars-style awards ceremony? Gruesome pillaging? Feasts and political fallout?
Alaktol’s quests: focus is initially on bringing the SDG under his control, then on using them to weaken Jona’s grip on DSE. From there, he’s negotiating with the Imperial garrison in order to launch a lightning strike against the Nords and quickly take the city.
- A known member of the SDG has been brutally murdered in his own home. Alaktol wants you to find out who killed him and why. As it turns out, the man was actually a double-agent for the Blades and was executed by the SDG - the player will make contact with SDG agents in the city during this quest, and can choose whether to accurately report the murderer, or mislead the prince to protect them.
(Blades) The Blades suspect they know who was responsible, but want you to find out for certain. They want you to either report the murderer to the prince or do a murder yourself.
- Alaktol wants you to aid and improve relations with the SDG. Meeting their contact in the Nukra-Tikil tavern, you are asked to help protect one of their own. This is the mastermind of the assassination that killed Jona’s husband and thanes, and now that the heat is on they are planning to flee further into Hammerfell. The player is tasked with escorting them from DSW to the border fort, with an ambush by Fire-Hand warriors along the way.
(Blades) Following the death of their agent, this person is the Blades’ only informant within the SDG. You are asked to persuade them to stay, protecting them from a Fire-Hand attack in the process.
- Now that you and the SDG are working together, they reveal that one of their own has been captured by Jona’s men and is awaiting interrogation in the DSE dungeons. They want you to sneak in and kill them before they can talk. The prisoner will confess that they already revealed the location of an SDG hideout, and the player must go and warn/defend its members from an attack.
(Blades) For totally non-suspicious reasons, the Blades would really like to know the location of this hideout, as well as others within the city.
- The SDG agent tells the player that they are prepared to submit to the prince’s authority, but they require one last act of good faith. Tanyin, the traitor from the War of Bend’r-Mahk, still lives in comfort on a pension from the jarl in DSE. The player is charged with finally enacting the SDG’s revenge and murdering her.
(Blades) The Blades support this course of action.
- Alaktol is excited about the DS SDG’s loyalty, and wants to consolidate his forces. He asks you to persuade the Order of the Dragon Tooth to commit their warriors to his command. He also wants you to deliver orders to the SDG cell in Karthwastern, telling them to raise hell and keep the Nordic garrison there occupied.
(Blades) The Blades are able to point the player towards whatever the OotDT require.
- Jona has recalled a contingent of Fire-Hand warriors back to the city, and they are encamped a little to the east. Alaktol would like you to strike a deal with the local Reachmen and convince them to attack this camp.
(Blades) Arming and encouraging the Reachmen to resume their attacks is not good for the region long-term. The player is encouraged to attack the Fire-Hand camp themselves, without involving the Reachmen, and two Blades are dispatched to assist.
- Now that Jona’s reinforcements are either dead or tied up in Karthwastern, Alaktol needs the player to secure his own support. He wants you to persuade the commander at the border fort to permit troops from Skavyn into DSW, which would be against current Imperial policy.
(Blades) The Blades have already anticipated this. They have sent for and received orders to allow the troops passage, and the player needs only to deliver them to the fort commander.
- Jona’s occupation of the castle in DSE presents a problem: even if Crown forces capture the city, Jona can remain walled up and hold out until either the Empire or King Barda intervene. The player is thus charged with infiltrating the castle and stealing or spoiling the castle’s supplies (or maybe, poisoning its water supply), so that it cannot hold out against a siege. Alaktol also asks you to contaminate the Imperial garrison’s supplies with a milder poison, to incapacitate their troops and prevent their intervention.
(Blades) The Blades are able to have the Imperial troops redeployed (as in #5 of Jona’s stream) without needing to poison them. Do that instead.
- Alaktol is poised to launch the attack on DSE, but a messenger from the KW SDG has arrived. They have failed to pin the garrison down, and to everyone’s great surprise the troops there are moving to support Jona. The player is tasked with ambushing them alongside SDG partisans and preventing them from reaching DSE in time.
(Blades) Attacking members of the KW garrison, which draws from more clans than just the Fire-Hand, threatens to escalate this conflict. Persuade the soldiers that Jona has already been defeated and that they should return to KW (requires stealing/confecting some sort of proof).
- As with Jona’s stream, ???