She is the most influential noble of Nova, short only of the Crown Princess Elodie, who she will be evaluating for most of the game. Much of her power is also due her family connections.
Her family has a very sordid history that she takes efforts to keep under wraps. Elodie may discover some secrets with enough Internal Affairs training, but to know the full history she may need an inside source...
Spoiler Warning: Plot details follow, read at your own risk
Arisse's family has a storied background. She herself has been married three times and has six children.
Corisande, Kevan and Charmion are her children from her first marriage to Nalin. Hyacinth was her stepson by Nalin. Briony and Noll are her grandchildren by Corisande, and Bram, Linley, Bryce, Remus, Astrid, Hale and Peri are her grandchildren by Charmion.
Her high status and numerous family mean that she's indirectly involved in most of the game's events, and directly involved in many political scenarios during the second half.
Kevan will appeal to Elodie for the judgement of an attempted poisoner. Arisse will be appeased if Elodie deals with it in a manner that isn't scandalous (either imprisoning, executing or giving hard labor to the accused, or peacefully convincing the accused that her justice was misplaced). If Elodie angers Kevan enough that he personally kills the accused, Arisse will be against Elodie if a vote of no-confidence comes up later.
Elodie can choose to dance with her by passing an Intrigue >40 and Court Manners >40 check, or choosing "Someone scandalous" while both Julianna and Brin are absent, though this doesn't change Elodie's relationship with Arisse. It seems the duchess doesn't like dancing much...
If Banion calls for a vote of no-confidence, Arisse will vote either in favor or against Elodie. If Elodie has decent Noble Approval, did well at the gala and handled the poisoner's judgement correctly, Arisse will vote in her favor; if Elodie has low Noble Approval, did poorly at the gala and made a scandal of the poisoner's judgement, Arisse will vote for change. Fabian will echo Arisse's vote.
After Fabian passes away, she will be one of the choices for regent of Elath (as Adair's guardian), one other option is her daughter Adele. Choosing Arisse or Adele will appease the former, choosing to marry Adair will keep her neutral, while choosing Armand will displease her (and may or may not incite her to rebel). Choosing Erwin is a sure way to have Arisse hate you if you don't take measures to protect Adair from assassins.
Letting Adair stay with Arisse will *not* stop her from leading a rebellion if Elodie is a terrible ruler, instead giving her more power during the civil war.
If Elodie sent her agents to investigate "Noble plots" and either has Noble Approval under -30 or displeased Arisse, they will inform her of the duchess planning a rebellion. If Elodie hired Sabine as a spy, she can send her to investigate further. The conspiracy may be real or not, mostly depending on the choices made during Week 22. Either way, Elodie can try to have Arisse arrested (in vain), quietly assassinated (ends the threat of war, but someone will try to take revenge during Week 33), send Sabine to investigate, or do nothing.
Note: If Arisse is currently pleased with you, but you lose enough Noble Approval in the coming weeks, your agents won't learn of the rebellion.
Continuing from the previous week. If you sent Sabine to Lillah, she returns with her findings. Flavor text and results depend on Adair's survival and passing a Noble Approval >-40 check.
If Adair is alive, but in Mazomba, and you pass the approval check, Sabine reveals that the duchess is simply holding a personal grudge. If Adair is dead and/or you fail the approval check, Sabine confirms the rebellion. If the latter happens, pass a Strategy >40 or Public Speaking >60 check to "Try to win her support"; all other choices are the same as the week before.
Winning Arisse's support gives the same results as negotiating a compromise during Week 30.
If Elodie has good relations with Arisse, the latter will send a cushion embroidered with the image of a horse, Lillah's symbol. This gift is meant to signal positive relations between the crown and the nobility, since Arisse is the most influential of the nobility, after the Queen. If Arisse is dead, the gift is sent by her family, and Elodie suspects a far more ominous meaning.
Arisse may start a rebellion if her step-son Adair is assassinated in Week 26, if Talarist becomes Duke of Elath (succeeding the deceased Adair), or if Noble Approval is under -40. She demands to become the princess's regent, complying will end the game, while refusing will cause a civil war to break out; if Elodie has Public Speaking >70 she can bargain to give Arisse a position as Royal Advisor and Elodie herself as Thaddeus's betrothed, thus dissolving the rebellion.
If Briony is alive and taken as hostage, Elodie can use her to demand either the dissolution of the rebels, a ransom payment or the exile of the rebel leaders (Arisse, Corisande and Charmion); all three options will end the war, but the latter will require Cruelty+Presence >150 to pull off.
If you fail negotiations or decide to go to war, the outcome will be reflected next week. If you win, Arisse is executed as a traitor. Someone in her family will try to take revenge during Week 33.
If she is Royal Advisor during the Shanjian invasion, she will prevent Elodie from leading the troops, citing the high risk of death. Elodie needs to pass a Strategy+Swimming >100 check to convince her otherwise.
Arisse plays a part in the epilogue where Elodie marries Thaddeus after breaking off her engagement to Banion. Banion will spread rumors of Elodie's infidelity, but Arisse can expose him as the source of the slander, humilliating him in front of the nobles and preventing Thaddeus from divorcing Elodie.
She's also the subject of the epilogue where Elodie marries Kiran after Arisse is assassinated. Kiran will gladly marry Elodie... But after some time, he discovers documents connecting Elodie to his mother's "natural" death. The last paragraph mentions that Kiran is now preparing for a rebellion.
Arisse is a fine example of the Iron Lady archtype. Shrewd, no-nonsense, imposing and impatient towards weak rulers. She has played the court's game for a long time.
If she considers Elodie to be weak or tyrannical, she will act against her. If Elodie has been a bad ruler but has enough sense to negotiate, Arisse can be convinced to become Royal Advisor. As an advisor, Arisse is shown to be very cynical and judgemental, with little faith in Elodie's abilities, but also reasonable and wise.
She's very protective of her family. The quickest way for Elodie to get in her bad side is to cause them harm (causing the death of Adair, leaving Briony alone in the Old Forest) or upsetting them (angering Kevan); on the other hand, threatening her family with worse damage is can also make her relent (holding Briony hostage). However, being family doesn't shield one from retaliation, as both Jael's and Hyacinth's deaths can attest to.
Her relationship with Kevan is troubled and ambiguous. She had her own husband, his abuser, killed for his crimes, and will become antagonistic if Elodie makes a mess of the poisoner's judgement, but she also passed over the inheritance of Lillah to Kiran, has an estranged relationship with Kevan, and might resent Kevan for being Jael's victim (as per feudal values).
Alternatively, she may have selected Kiran as her duchy's heir since, as their father was a divorced commoner, neither he nor his siblings have anything to their names otherwise.
If Elodie made Armand into Adair's regent and has her agents investigate Arisse, they will warn her that the duchess may be leading a rebellion. If Elodie also has Sabine investigate, the latter can reveals something amusing: the duchess is simply holding a grudge against Elodie, with no real intentions of causing a war. Despite her poise, Arisse can be as temperamental as her sons and granddaughter.
One conversation with Arisse as Royal Advisor shows that she considers it noblesse oblige to have as many heirs as possible to avoid a succession crisis. She may have passed this mentality to Charmion, who also has a numerous family.
- There are hints that Arisse used to hold the late Queen Fidelia in high esteem, whom is hinted to have been a fair ruler of royal demeanor, elegant and poised. This may be why she's so critical of an uncourtly Elodie.
- Coincidentally, Arise is the name of an historical racing horse. Horses are the symbol of Lillah.
Arisse sounds similar to the English word "arise", meaning "to stand up, rise, spring up, ascend". Somewhat fitting given her social and political status.