On the other side of the gorge, the party followed the trail into a forest thick with webs. Mehwa, despite his urgency, had many wounds, and faltered in his steps. Beatriss suggested he should give them instructions so that—if necessary—they would be able to rescue his daughter without him. He agreed.
They were looking for Dwa, the servant of the one who had stolen his daughter. When they found Dwa— an ugly, craven, and evil being with feet like those of ostrich— they should threaten to destroy his tree. With this threat, they should force him to show them the way. If they did rescue Su-Laing, and returned her to Khanbaliq safely, the family would allow her marriage to Tetsukichi.
Leaving Mehwa behind, the party pushed on. They did meet Dwa, threatened him appropriately, and learned that his master didn’t want Su-Laing for “what you think.” Ignoring the opportunity for thematic development, they pressed him again for an answer to their question—where was Su-Laing? Craven, evil being that he was, Dwa directed the party to “the old tomb,” and called out after them, “But you are too late by now!”
With Dwa’s directions, they found the old tomb. Su-Laing was outside the tomb, dressed as a bride, and crying over the body of the tomb’s guardian. And also there were four dog-sized wolf spiders who attacked with surprise. The party killed them easily, but both Take and Kani were fatally poisoned. Not wanting to wait for Su-Laing’s would-be “husband” to emerge from the tomb, the remainder of the party took their princess and ran.
They returned to Khanbaliq with little difficulty, and met Su-Laing’s relatives. The relatives, of course, had questions. The party had little in the way of answers. “Why did Mehwa ask a group of foreigners to help him find his daughter?” Beatriss: “I never asked. But maybe he knew I’d been on a lot of dangerous adventures.” After some mumbling about an betrothal to one of Mehwa’s fellow warlords and some counter-mumbling about “damaged goods,” the relatives, after expressing some perfunctory grief for Mehwa, eased into a celebratory mood and agreed that Tetsukichi should, after a proper engagement, be allowed to marry Su-Laing.
Note: The past couple session made strong use of “Bride for a Fox,” an adventure written by Craig Barrett for Dungeon magazine in Jan/Feb 1991. That’s right, I’ve held this for almost 20 years. White Bear called this one of the funnest games she’s ever played. What she liked, I think is the fast pace, and the clear goal. As written, the adventure is much more complex than as played. But maintaining the prescribed plot required a lot of goal-post-shifting that I don’t like to do. Like bringing in more monsters, and adjusting when the assassins would catch up with Mehwa. The gorge appealed to me as both realistic and dramatic. And since there seemed to be no reason why the assassins would waste time or arrows on anyone but their target, taking him out—especially after he was isolated on the south side of the bridge— was relatively easy. (Maybe I should have considered morale, however, once he started using his ring?) With Mehwa dead, the plot was considerably simplified. Furthermore, in the interrogation of Dwa, I couldn’t use the boxed text in which Mehwa, asks a bunch of tangential questions that might have helped crystallize the background story, but wouldn’t advance in the interests of any of the characters (PC or NPC) in the adventure. Plot-based adventures are criticized for the way they force PCs to act in a certain way. But such instructions are easy to ignore. My problem with plot-based adventures might be that in their construction, they devote a lot of time and words to elements that will only be of interest to the DM. I hesitate to apply this criticism to “Bride for a Fox,” however, because the players really did seem to enjoy the classic drama of fighting a series of monsters to rescue a damsel in distress.