Sunday, December 26, 2010

Delivering Beatriss / Exiling Gwinch

Gwinch returned to the forest with Iriyo, both of them accompanied by a wu jen and other assistants. Wutambi (the "other" wu jen) located the fox spirit and began attacking it with his magic, and Iriyo attacked first with his sword and then with his bare hands, catching the fox-spirit by the throat. The spirit became visible and adopted human form; Gwinch and the others saw that their weapons torn its clothing but did not harm its flesh. When Saisho drew his sword of lightning, O-me-sa smiled and presented his fist, showing a ring. Saisho surprised his enemy with a cloud of steam, killing him. After removing the ring and other treasures, the victors began searching for Beatriss.

They found her in a small den dug into the base of the cliff, exhausted and delirious, and nursing five hungry and aggressive fox pups. They brought Beatriss out of the den, put the fox pups in a sack and gave them some tofu.

In the course of their return to Khanbaliq, they stopped to rest at a ruined monastery a couple hours outside town. There they met an old man, obviously a wu jen, and his companion, a beggar. Apprising Beatriss’s weak and vulnerable condition, the wu jen insinuated, with increasing directness and anger, that Gwinch and his companions had beaten her and were transporting her to Khanbaliq for the purposes of exploitation. The two vagabonds trailed Gwinch and his group all the way back to Khanbaliq. That night, the wu jen showed up for “evening mediatation.” After chasing away the other attendees, the wu jen began asking Sheevani and Gwinch pointed questions about where the women had come from and how they had come to Khanbaliq. His questions give way to an argument which rose to a physical struggle, and the wu jen was subdued. Sheevani raised her holy symbol and blinded him with a flash of light, explaining to Gwinch that he was a demon. Gwinch killed him.
The arrival in Khanbaliq of an envoy from Zipang brought increased profits and new controversies. Gwinch’s evening meditation was popular among the Zipangnese community and the regulars were eager to show off for their visiting friends from Zipang. But one older, somewhat staid samurai, named Kidera came to Gwinch for a different reason. A young man in his household, Taeshi by name, was giving him headaches. Taeshi’s late father had been a friend of Kidera but the son was all big talk and no courage. Kidera feared that Taeshi’s snide comments about the shogun would get him into trouble during the envoy’s visit. Taeshi was a regular at evening meditation and Gwinch promised to counsel him.

Taeshi did come to mediation, but reacted angrily to Gwinch’s counsel. Angered also at his failure to attract the interest of the temple servants who were rather more interested in other more distinguished guests, Taeshi began to deliberately and loudly insult the shogun. The other guests, unwilling to hear such talk or to raise their swords in a sacred place, fled the meditation hall.

Originally uploaded by perisho

The next day, Gwinch learned by chance that Taeshi’s words had been reported to the envoy. And from Kidera, that the older Samurai planned to ask the Great Khan, at that evening’s banquet, that Taeshi be banished from Khanbaliq—they did not want Taeshi to be recognized as part of the diplomatic mission, nor would the envoy bring him back to Zipang. Although Gwinch, as a neutral in the balance between Imperial and Shogunal power in Zipang had devised a seating chart for their dinner with the Khan, he would not be in attendance at the banquet itself. Nor would junior samurai such as Taeshi. Most likely he would come to evening meditation.

In the course of his aerrands around the city, Gwinch noted that he was being followed by the same beggar who had followed him back from the ruined monastery. He led his pursuer to the outskirts of the city, and allowed himself to be attack. Intercepting the attack, he killed the beggar, and then confiscated his very interesting looking boots. A trio of tough-looking guys congratulated him and asked him to join the "Black Flower Gang." He declined but they had a nice conversation.

That night, Taeshi did come to meditation, along with several other junior samurai, disappointed to be excluded from the banquet, but happy to enjoy the company of the temple servants without having to compete for attention with their superiors. They donated freely and everyone was having a good time, even Taeshi, albeit with a heavy dose of gallows humor.

And then a messenger arrived, accompanied by a troop of the Khan’s guards. The banquet had been a disaster. The seating arrangement seemed designed to provoke, setting the envoy among the lowest-ranking samurai at the foot of the table. They wanted to punish Gwinch and forgot all about Taeshi’s big mouth. Bad news. Worse news was when the Khan’s guards discovered that Gwinch was harboring twice his allowed number of sohei, and that all of them were armed. While this was going, most of the guests slipped away. Taeshi instead attacked a guard, and was cut down. The guards confiscated weapons, took Taeshi, and left the compound.

Originally uploaded by Brayo
Gwinch sent his men away in small groups throughout the night. As dawn approached, he consulted with Sheevani and decided that he had, too, should flee and leave her in charge of the meditation hall. Together with Saisho, a dozen men, and the girl he’d chosen from the temple, Gwinch left the city, taking temporary refuge at the ruined monastery.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Where's Beatriss?

The five monks who had left Khanbaliq in order to escort Beatriss to Tetsukichi's wedding on the plain of horses, returned about a month later to explain that they had left Beatriss at a house in the woods, in consideration of a promise of safe passage from the "handsome peasant" whom they generally believed to be the father of the child she was carrying.

Shenandoah N.P. in Winter
Originally uploaded by Brayo

The monks had protested, but Beatriss herself had ordered them go on. When Beatriss never joined them at the winter camp, they had felt some concern and this was greatly increased when they found that she had also not returned to Khanbaliq. Gwinch agreed that, provided they could show him the way, he would confirm that she was safe.

The monks brought Gwinch to the forest, but they could not find the house, much less Beatriss. In searching, they were tormeneted by various magic tricks. For instance, the head of one of the monks was turned into a spider's body, and the sight of him drove the others into a panic. As Gwinch brought his men into control, a voice warned him to leave the forest, that Beatriss was safe, and would be returned to Khanbaliq in six weeks, "when her babies are ready to travel."

Gwinch agreed, but back in Khanbaliq he sought more information. He met a samurai from Zipang who had encountered the fox spirit, and believed him to have caused the death of his favorite concubine. He want vengeance and would be indebted to Gwinch for the opportunity to confront the wicked creature.

Monday, December 13, 2010


My players decided they wanted to generate new characters (Lili, a Fighter, Rudolfo a Magic-User, and an unnamed Thief) and have another go at the Gatehouse outside the Village of Hommlet.

Fernac, a “long-stay guest” at the Inn, made anxious by the disappearance of his friend Rahm, decided to round-up a group of fresh faces (the PCs) to go out to the Gatehouse and look for him. “I figure he stumbled on a great pile of loot and slipped away to greener pastures . . . but just in case . . .”
Outside the Gatehouse, one of their number, Rudolfo the Magic-User was surprised and swallowed by a giant frog. So they went back to Hommlet and recruited Fizziwig, a PC cleric, and Zert, an NPC fighter.
After entering the Gatehouse, they decided to thoroughly explore the upper rooms before entering the dungeon level. In one of these rooms they encountered a lone archer, poised at an arrow slit; when the party entered the room, the archer turned and, and after dropping his unstrung bow and started clubbing them with his half-rotten limbs. This was Dexter, returned to life in undead form. After dispatching Dexter and about a dozen other zombies (the former brigand residents of the gatehouse), the party camped out in the former kitchen of the old fortress. When they were surprised by a giant rat, things got awkward—Zert was accidentally injured by another party member and returned the attack in earnest. The others intervened and Zert backed-off, still accusing the others of being robbers or killers.
Zert’s bad mood persisted as they reached the lower level. He refused to accept one of the black cloaks they found a supply room. And when the PCs discovered the prisoners—Ausric, Chiara, Aurelia, and Mapper (plus Rahm in zombie form)-- Zert quietly slipped out another door. The party didn’t give much thought to this, instead racking their brains over how to unlock the prisoners’ cells. Within a few minutes, Zert returned with a guard and the pair attacked the party. While not an easy fight, the party triumphed, found a set of keys on the guards belt, and released the prisoners (minus Rahm). They carried the guards body with them as they fled the Gatehouse, and once outside stripped him of his plate mail. Back in Hommlet, Fernac thanked them for their help and rewarded each of them with a small gem.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gwinch returns to Khanbaliq

Gwinch returned to his own meditation hall and compound after a two-month sojourn at a monstery outside town where he studied advanced martial arts styles under the tutelage of Sensei Luche, who had defeated him at a tournament earlier in the year. He was surprised by some of the changes Sheevani had made, namely that not only were the young servant women involved in the religious instruction of visiting samurai (while serving beer) but that this instruction extended to the womens' private quarters, newly constrcted to accomodate this innovation.

Gwinch ordered a moratorium on evening temple hours and gave the women to return to their previous activities of cooking and cleaning. He asked which they preferred, but they did not indicate a strong preference. Sheevani had recommended that one of the women, who had inspired a fierce argument between two samurai, should be returned to the Temple outside the city; the woman was sad about this and said she preferred serving samurai at Gwinch's house. Gwinch agreed that Sheevani's practice should resume. He agreed to escort the "disputed woman" back to the temple and to bring back three more to his meditation hall.

At the temple, Gwinch negotiated with the monks at the gate to speak to Ali, the merchant who lived at the temple, and delivered a message from Sheevani. Ali brought Gwinch to the grand temple hall and introduced Gwinch to six women. Ali suggested that he might choose three to entertain guests, and a fourth to be his own companion. With Saisho's advice, Gwinch chose.

Mysterious Sala woman
Originally uploaded by fab to pix

Gwinch broight four women back to his meditation hall. The re-opening was well-attended. Besides familiar samurai, there was a merchant who dealt in arms and armor. Gwinch made a nice deal with the merchant to buy weapons for about a dozen of his monks who were otherwise without weapons.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lesserton & Mor

that bee on a flower
Originally uploaded by Brayo

Joined another new campaign as player, this time with a magic-user named Strothbogie. The character-creation process was fun as we all had very limited starting gold; we contributed to the seediness of an already pretty despicable little town in order to get more. Maybe just to be able to buy a few flasks of oil, that’s how poor we were. But these turned out to be very useful.
Soon after arriving in the ruins of a long-destroyed city of former importance, we met one of its residents, who with the help of some magic, welcomed Strothbogie and guided him to the clan of the bee-keepers. The honey of these bees has unusual effects on those who ingest it. Strothbogie hoped to sample these effects, while his companions hoped to profit by taking some honey and selling it to others back in town. We traded some oil and other goods for a few doses of honey and Strothbogie succeeded in accomplishing his plan. The others have taken several important steps; we successfully brought honey back to town, and are now trying to figure out how to sell it. (It’s illegal.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


As a referee, I enjoy seeing PCs set goals for themselves and achieve them. It’s most enjoyable for everyone when they “win”—at least partially— but when they lose—completely— it gives me confidence that, while I may have my bias, I am applying the rules fairly and that there is a meaningful level of risk in the game. Losing completely of course means that a PC, or all the PCs, get killed, and this is what happened in our less session.

This adventure took place at the ruined gatehouse near Hommelet (Yes, that Hommelet.) on the continent of Alyan (my own faux-Europe/Middle Earth kind-of-place) which is on the other side of the world from Zipang, Zhou Dang, and Khanbaliq. Three of the five players created new first-level characters. One of the players was playing for the first time, and two had never played in this part of the world. Bubu Singe was playing Rahm Sabine, a fighter who had previously explored the moathouse, but was still first level. White Bear played Aurelia, a cleric who had reached 3rd level in other adventures. The travelers met, as if by chance, at the taven of a well-known inn.

dining room at Fort Clatsop
Originally uploaded by Brayo

The trip out to gatehouse was uneventful; entering the moat house provided the first major challenge. Although Rahm had prepared his companions for the giant frogs in the moats, he was surprised by the pack of rabid dogs who had taken up residence in the courtyard. Rahm himself was severely mauled and they all had to return to Hommelet to rest before making their second sortie.

Once inside, they proceeded efficiently. Rahm helped them avoid the green slime as they entered the dungeon level and the new player (a thief) was a skilled mapmaker. They found the secret passage into an area of the dungeon where the uniformed soldiers of an evil cult made their quarters, surprising and dispatching two sentries. But not before the sentries raised a general alarm. The party retreated and organized a defense; they eliminated the first wave of attackers with nothing more than minor wounds. But when they stepped into a doorway, making plans for a barricade, they were surprised by the crossbowmen waiting just outside. And although this second and third wave of attacking cultists sustained heavy casualties, they provided sufficient cover for a spellcaster to incapacitate the party. Rahm himself and his henchman Dexter were killed; Aurelia, Chiara, and Mapper were held, and Ausric, a magic-user, surrendered, asking to join the evil cultists.

Hommlet T1
Originally uploaded by BalronUK

Lots of decisions for the DM. What do evil cultists do with captured prisoners? Do they have need of new minions? For what purposes? How do they test their loyalty? Some of the answers could be pretty nasty and others pretty boring. (Or both. i.e. latrine duty.) Is that the game we want to play, or is it easier to just call this a TPK?[1]

Monday, September 20, 2010

Khanbaliq/Zhou Dang play-session: Nuptials

As winter drew near, Su-Laing and a part of her family planned to leave the city and join her grandfather and the clan at their winter campground near a hot spring up on the steppes. She and Tetsukichi would be wed according to the traditions of the horse people.

The large party accompanying them included Beatriss (who was five months pregnant and finding the confines of city life progressively repugnant), Hatsu, 5 of Gwinch’s sohei, and 20 soldiers. They made camp in a strip of light woods growing between a ravine and steep cliffs. While gathering firewood, the soldiers discovered that many of the trees were thickly gummed with thick spider webs. The party considered returning to Khanbaliq or pushing on through the night, but both these options were rejected as dangerous. They sought shelter of some sort at the base of the cliffs and were happy to find a small, snug house. Beatriss’s vulpine admirer made a couple appearance in fox-form alarming some soldiers and amusing others.

Before squeezing into the house to sleep, they set up a watch. It was near dawn when the spiders attacked.

spider approaching
Originally uploaded by Brayo

Well-organized and with great numbers, they killed multiple waves of attacking spiders without anyone being bitten. Soon after they chased off the last spider, and while debating whether to sleep another hour or break camp, O-me-sa appeared in human form. If Beatriss would consent to stay with him at his house in the forest, he would guarantee that the others passed through forest in safety. Beatriss readily agreed.

The travelers broke camp to continue their journey. Beatriss said that she hoped to join them in time for the wedding.

The rest of the journey was peaceful. Along the way they met Gunjar, a wandering shaman with four horses, who agreed to join their group and assist with the wedding ceremony. They reached the great camp of Duutar, Su-Laing’s grandfather, and they met representatives of the Sansar clan, including Tetsukichi’s soon to be adoptive father. Tetsukich said a temporary good-bye to his betrothed in order to go to the Sansar camp and go through the adoption ceremony. He built his own ger and a week later he returned to marry Su-Laing and to bring her back to his own new clan. During the bride’s first official meeting with her new in-laws, they were startled by the sound of a herd horses galloping into the camp. The horses were without riders, and unsaddled, and sweating as if they had been running for a long time. They began eating the grass around the newlyweds’ ger and the shamen agreed this was a good omen.

mountain yurts
Originally uploaded by perisho

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Perdu perdu

We thought we were being so smart. It was Pavel in fact, normally blundering along secure in his righteousness, who thought to look for a trip wire, and saw it. So we did like we did before: stood behind Tenniel and let her trip the wire with her polearm.

It was flour that poured from the ceiling in a big flammable cloud. We had a torch and the ensuing conflagaration consumed both our torchbearer and Perdu.

Pavel, as the surviving cleric, gave the last rites.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Originally uploaded by Brayo
Some people have asked when I'm going to post a photo of Red Bear, the player who plays Kishi, and because the answer is still "soon," meaning "later," I am instead posting this drawing of Kishi-- drawn by Bubu Singe (who plays Gwinch.)

This is Red Bear's first experience playing D&D, and Bubu Singe has provided a lot of guidance. I should be grateful for this and I am-- but at the same it's important to encourage new players to have confidence, to realize the satisfaction of contributing to the story of the game in a meaningful way.

And Kishi-- ahem-- Red Bear has succeeded in this. Bubu Singe like the idea of Red Bear playing a ninja. These are really hard characters to play. Their kewl powers rely heavily on powers of suggestion, and they are thrive on their own rather than as part of a team.

Therefore I told Red Bear that while Kishi was employed by Sato Masako, a powerful samurai, her true masters were-- of course-- her ninja family and her true job was to spy on Sato. And when she joined the rest of the party in a quest for seven swords belonging to the Sato family, her true objective was to recover them for someone else.

Stating at first level among intermediate-level characters, Kishi succeeded even better than she hoped, baiting Sato into a confrontation with his own retainers (the other PCs) that ended badly for him and for his clan. In terms of making a contribution to the shape of the game, I feel happy with the "raw materials" I provided her. On the other hand, I know she's felt lost sometimes, and wonder whether she would have better enjoyed starting with a fighter who could always be in the thick of things.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Swan Lady

Beatriss has felt a growing antipathy toward Khanbaliq— the constant noise of construction, destruction, and more construction, the draft in her, too-bright room, the odors of moldering food, of the smoke, sewage, and sweat of so many unknown people. And so she went to the Forbidden City to visit Tetsukichi’s fiancée Su-Laing. As she looked forward to her wedding, Su-Laing also resented the feeling of the city closing around her. Rather than shuffle around a palace in slippers, she wanted to charge a horse across the steppes. So it was agreed, Su-Laing would ask to be married at a sacred spot on the plain of horses, surrounded by all the members of her clan. And Beatriss of course would go with them.

href="">Bird Song
Originally uploadeddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd by Lilith Ivory
In the meantime, Su-Laing’s family was hosting a party that night . . . would Beatriss like to attend? The draw of the party was an appearance by the Swan Lady—a very pale woman wearing wings constructed of white feathers and a mask. Everyone marveled at the singular way that she sang and danced, and at the incredible paleness of her face, her neck, and limbs. Beatriss recognized her as a Cynadecia; like most of the people she remember, the woman was half-oblivious to the people gawking at her and seemed to believe that she was a swan. Making inquiries over the next few days, she learned that the Swan Lady belonged to a wealthy merchant who lived somewhere in the Green Zone. Her questions generated a lot of reciprocal curiosity since Beatriss was also from Cynadecia, and despite her efforts to conceal it, also had oddly pale skin.
There was a second mystery as well. Cair, an explorer from “distant lands” living in luxurious captivity as a special guest of the Emperor, visited Beatriss to tell her he’d heard some strange things about her friend Gwinch. He had allowed a woman from the monastery outside the city to not only join his meditation hall, but to replace him as its leader. He’d surrendered his private quarters to live among the other junior monks. And most recently, he had disappeared completely. Deflecting Cair’s worries, Beatriss went to see for herself. The woman—Sheevani—explained that Gwinch had performed well at the komite. The ultimate victor, Sensei Luche, invited Gwinch to study at his monastery for a couple months. Sheevani was managing his meditation hall until he returned. Satisfied by this explanation, and generally comforted by Sheevani’s demeanor, Beatriss asked if she herself might move into the compound—Sheevani welcomed her.
After a few days living on the compound, Beatriss accepted Sheevani’s invitation to participate in the evening studies conducted at meditation hall. She accepted the invitation. What she saw made her rethink Cair’s insinuations regarding the “changes” that had happened in Gwinch’s absence. Besides the ample supplies of food and beer, what surprised her most was that the religious instruction was provided by young women who, while wearing monks’ robes, did not show advanced understanding. The samurai, however, were very attentive when they read from the sacred texts.
Beatriss asked Sheevani for an escort and guide and went to visit Gwinch at the monastery of Sensei Luche, two hours away from the city. She was welcomed there and she met Gwinch. Gwinch confirmed Sheevani’s explanation of his whereabouts. Gwinch knew about the evening studies—he had brewed the beer. As long as the money was collected by donation, he was ok with it. On the way home, Beatriss and her companions spied a white crane standing in a large pond. The monks stood in silence and watched the bird until it flew away. For the rest of their journey home, Beatriss heard the monks whispering that the grace of a crane, while less obvious than that of a swan, was ultimately more beautiful, at least to a man of enlightenment and understanding.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

down? (Pavel & co.)

Originally uploaded by Brayo
There must be something else here besides hobgoblins. The "loose fish" who'd killed our man-at-arms met his own end at the cold cold hands of an undead creature who nearly took killed Perdu. And although we destroyed him, we don't know where he came from.

At both ends of the hobgoblin's lair-- the treasure room and a fetid rat's den behind a secret door-- we found a flight of stairs going down. And that's where we need to go next.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cheating Death

Pavel, Tenniel, Perdu, and their hirelings pushed further into the hobgoblins' lair, overcoming two fiery barricades before reaching their treasure room. Pavel took an arrow in the chest, but pulled it out, was healed, and continued fighting, so great was his zeal to destroy these evil beings. Here, we met another of their seargents, and blinded him with the divine light of righteous vengenace before smiting him. One of the seargent's underlings fled the battle and Samig, our valiant man-at-arms, followed in close pursuit-- only to be shot by an arrow from the darkness. He died the death intended for Pavel, and we would not brave the darkness to recover his body.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

nobody here but us rats

naked mole rats
Originally uploaded by I, Puzzled

Pavel and his companions returned to the Keep, sold some jewelry and recruited some new hirelings. And then they returned to the Caves.

We’ve re-entered the hobgoblins lair, but so far it seems to have been abandoned. Hoping to evade any sentries, we entered through the chimney and found a small flock of blood-sucking birds nesting there. The ashes in the fireplace were cold. The dining hall tables had been broken up to barricade and booby-trap the front entrance. We returned to a secret room we’d located in our last expedition, and found nothing inside but half-starved rats. In what we guess was the former sleeping chamber of the hobgoblin chief, we met and destroyed a ghoulish, undead monster. By its features, this may have once been the chief himself.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Keep on the Borderlands

Yet another nother group has asked me to join their game, and I’ve had a great time going back to the caves of chaos and of course the keep. The experience was very like that of my first game ever-- the wild descent from vague notions of heroism and grandeur into sordid brigandry. Just how far can we stretch our conviction that these are disgusting, depraved, soulless monsters who deserve to be killed without quarter? Pretty far since they’re also trying to kill us. Maybe that’s because we showed up in their home bearing the head of one of their leaders, but now that it’s started, there’s only two ways it can end. Given that our two hirelings are dead, leaving just the three PCs, there may not be reason to say much about my character Pavel. Briefly, he is the self-styled Bishop of the Thicket, and has been living rough for some time. Is he crazy because he’s been a hermit, or did he become a hermit because he’s crazy? (We've been wondering the same thing about someone else. --White Bear) Regardless, the Cleric of Law has plenty of Chaos inside him with which to contend.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

D&D 3.5

Originally uploaded by Brayo
The calendars of stuffed animals are fuller than you might imagine and it's been a while since the group's had a chance to get together.

And so, recently I've sought out other people to play with. This was my first experience playing 3.5. My knowledge of it was based largely on the assessments of its detractors, so I was curious to see for myself. My personal mix of Moldvay/1e/2e suits me fine, so questions of conversion are irrelevant, but there are a few ways that I might make my campaign even a little more syncretic . . .

1) Flanking. It makes sense, it’s easy to implement, and it adds significant tactical interest. Just like it’s much easier to attack something when you’re sneaking up behind them, it’s also a little easier when you and a friend are attacking them from opposite sides. If +4 makes sense from behind, then +2 makes sense flanking. And it encourages players to visualize the scene (probably via miniatures or markers) in order to get that advantage.
2) A player can take on some traffic-direction duties in combat. Maybe not particular to 3.5, but to this DM’s style. He used individual initiative. In 3.5, you roll it once which makes it easier than rolling every round. And the DM’s helper cycled through, giving each person their “turn.” I’m going to try this. More often I make everything happen at once, but that requires me to keep a lot in my head, and results in longer periods of radio silence than I would like.
3) Think about attacks of opportunity. I’m not going to try to use the 3.5 rules, but I will think about the ways that certain actions might allow one’s adversary a “free attack.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gwinch in the ruins of the old city

Based on accounts of Tetsukichi and Beatriss, Gwich decided to make his own explorations of the House of Lord Jourdain. He organized quite a large party, with himself and his assistant Saisho at the core, in partnership with Cair and Myrrha PLUS his newly-recruited sohei (14!) and 2 of his original sohei from Zipang. Khanbaliq has rules about moving about with such a large group, and most people are restricted from moving between the green zone and the outer city—and the reverse is even more strict of course. So Saisho, working over several days, made all of the “new” sohei invisible.
This created its own problems. As more sohei became invisible, the maids of Gwinch’s household began having problems with “spirits.” While Gwinch answered the maids cries for help, the invisible sohei became increasingly ruthless—threatening to kill women who didn’t remain quiet in the face of their advances. Gwinch was more than ready when the time to visit Jourdain’s house arrived.
The Hop Sing (a.k.a. Dirty Rain) gang, had made a claim to the House, with about two dozen of their members camped throughout the ground floor. They were in the process of converting it into a tavern and brothel, and offered Gwinch and associates a promotional discount. But they were also willing to accommodate a desire to kill monsters. The party was admitted in to the dining room, barricaded inside, and told to remove the pile of rocks blocking a hole in the fireplace. Gwinch devised a nice trap to control the outflow of ghouls to about one or two at a time, to be easily dispatched by superior numbers. But the trap malfunctioned a couple times and when this happened, Gwinch lost two sohei . Gwinch decided to take their bodies to the Temple of the Two-Fold Path.
Sheeva was caustic at first, asking the monks around her whether any of them wanted to join Gwinch and get killed. But Gwinch was supplicant, and an agreement was made that Sheeva would accompany Gwinch to his house while the monks prepared their brothers’ bodies for a funeral, and that this would occur the next day.
Back at Gwinch’s house, Sheeva explained that the temple was in such bad place because of the extortionary activities of the various gangs who ruled the ruins of the city. She wanted to go back to the Kobar valley. Gwinch was willing to accompany her, but he was duty-bound to assist in preparing a banquet. So they advised a better plan—Gwinch would insinuate that Sheeva had fled the city, so that her enemies would seek her outside while she was in fact laying low at Gwinch’s house. So Gwinch returned to the temple with Saisho and a group of sohei, to start the rumor and to perform the funeral.
The monks heard the news with anger, certain that Sheeva had stolen from them. Ali, a secular man who resided at the temple, heard Gwinch’s story and responded with shock and outrage, but did not resolve to do anything, suggesting blithely that Gwinch should “just do the funeral himself.” In the course of his short visit, he saw other signs of the temples weirdness. There were twin monks who accussed and attacked each other. And there was talk about the flying creatures in the garden whom some wanted killed and others thought should be protected. At last the funeral was conducted outside the temple, in a clear spot among the ruins.
Gwinch agreed with Sheeva that she should be his teacher and this involved allowing her to stay in his room, while he went to stay with the maids. (They were honors to have the master protecting them from the spirits.) And then he decided to make another foray to the House of Jourdain.
dungeon's guard
Won Lee, of the Sing Hop gang explained that he and his men had dealt with the rest of the ghouls themselves. If they were interested in exploring the basement, they would need to accompanied by some of his men who would expect a share of the treasure. Also, he was required to secure their safe return by leaving a sum of insurance money. Gwinch had no money and so hostages were accepted as a substitute.
In the cellars, they came upon a group of humans adventurers who seemed more or less normal except that they were fast asleep in a dank musty cellar room and that the women in their group was wrestling in her sleep with a fox. When the party entered the room, the fox fled, and the sleepers awakened. The woman was distressed that “Omesa” was gone, while others were distressed that the sumptuous banquet they had just enjoyed was in fact nothing more than cobwebs and dust. The leader of the group was a member of the diplomatic mission from Zipang—he and Gwinch made a mutual agreement to keep each other’s presence in the house of Jourdain a secret and to meet in the future to discuss the mysterious fox.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Play report: More intrigue in Khanbaliq

Both Gwinch and Kishi competed in the second day of the tournament. Kishi showed well against a fierce, “Iron Fisted” barbarian, and Gwinch was defeated only by Sensei Lu-che, the local favorite who went on to win the tournament. Among their fans were a group of hungry monks from the Temple of Two-Fold path who begged Gwinch to let them join his household. While this annoyed their superior, and caused some consternation at the gates to the green city, Gwinch rode the way of popular enthusiasm and no one raised any outward objections.
In the weeks that followed, while Kishi was off on secret business of her own, the new sohei made themselves at home in Gwinch’s compound. The quarters were tight, but the food was plentiful, and while one disappeared, the other 14 remained. They explained that things weren’t good at the Temple, and that Sheeva, the foreign priestess was keeping all the Temple’s money for her own use. Kishi and Gwinch resolved to make a reconnaissance mission to find out more.
Before they could put the plan into effect, Saisho alerted them that someone was spying on them. Saisho made them invisible and they chased the spies through the green city, and over a wall into the outer city, where they managed to apprehend one of them. Sure enough, they were from the Temple, and had been sent to see what Gwinch’s teaching were. When pressed, the captured spy admitted that conditions at the Temple were hard, but expressed confidence in his own master. After washing up his wounds a little, they let him go.
And the next day, they made a call at the Temple. The monks at the gate were suspicious, but after some waiting, Gwinch and Kishi were granted an audience with Sheeva. She met them in the courtyard, then walked them down a corridor lined with fearsome statues and into the great temple room—a three story chamber dominated by the monumental statue of a robed figure holding a sword. Sheeva was supercilious and curt; after silencing Gwinch with her magic, she lectured him on the place of adversity in seeking enlightenment and on the paramount importance of respecting his superiors. She suggested that he should invite her to his compound so that she could further enlighten him.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

play report: martial arts tournament in Khanbaliq

We played another Princes’ Kingdom + D&D mashup game, this time with Bubu Singe playing Gwinch, his regular character, and one of Bubu’s human child friends playing a mysterious urchin who refused to give his name, but allowed himself to be called “Bucko.” The session was part of my “regular” D&D campaign and took place in Khanbaliq, with most of the action centering around a “komite”, TSR’s word for a martial arts tournament. Combining D&D with The Princes’ Kingdom made sense to me in two ways. First, the subject matter was more child-appropriate than most D&D games. Second, the mechanics of The Princes’ Kingdom do a better job than D&D with non-lethal physical challenges.
Besides the tournament itself, there were a couple side-plot elements. The Great Kam called a short meeting of representatives from Zipang, including Gwinch, where he announced that he would be welcoming an important visitor from Zipang in a couple months, and wished to invite the entire Zipang contingent to a banquet to honor the event. Because Gwinch understood Zipangese etiquette, but was deeply ensnared in its factional politics, the Great Kam wanted him to devise arrangements that would properly honor all attendees.
While in the forbidden city, Gwinch also made the acquaintance of Cair and Myrrha. Gwinch found that Cair and Myrrha spoke a language that while crude, was intelligible; for their part, Cair and Myrrha understood at least some of what he said in Alyan. So, while the conversation was one-sided, they were able to converse freely in front of Cair and Myrrha’s handlers. Among other topics they discussed Cair’s relation to wicked old Jourdain and the pair’s hopes to get some money and leave Khanbaliq. Cair also offered to give Gwinch some magical assistance in the martial arts tournament.
The tournament began with a series of speeches that doubled as test for stamina, weeding out the less qualified contestants. Here the Princes’ Kingdom rules really helped—instead of rolling a couple con checks, the players played from a pool of dice, calling on their previous experiences as the hours of speechifying wore on. I used the rules again for the test of speed and the test of reflexes. Rolling a dex check just doesn’t work for bringing out the drama of dodging a volley of arrows. And while the module I was using exhorted the DM to fully describe the events, it’s a much better tactic to ask the players to do some of the work of describing what they do and what happens to them.

Originally uploaded by colorstalker

Once it was time for the actual bouts to begin, Gwinch proved that he was more ensnared in factional politics than the Great Kam seemed to realize. His first opponent was Uesugi Kenchu, a former retainer of Sato Masoko, who seemed to regard the tournament as an opportunity to at last avenge his late master. Besides his martial prowess as a veteran samurai, Kenchu showed signs of having received some magical assistance. Not as much as Gwinch, however who, besides accepting Cair’s offer, also asked Saisho to use his powers against Kenchu. It was a short, brutal battle, and Gwinch came out on top.
Bucko, meanwhile, won his battle against Kwan Wan Lo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Return to the House of Lord Jourdain (Part II)

In the week or so since B&T’s first successful venture into Jourdain’s house, words of their having successfully lifted the curse had spread throughout Khanbaliq. A small crowd gathered around the party as they passed through the outer city, and once outside the city walls, they found a larger crowd, perhaps two hundred people milling about on the flood plain between Khanbaliq’s walls and the river, with Jourdain’s house the focal point. They spectators kept a safe distance; many perched in trees or in the remains of other buildings at least one hundred yards from Jourdain’s compound. Likewise, the hangers-on fell away as the party neared their objective.
As they reached the gates, however, they met another group, about a dozen men, armed with swords, spears, and an abundance of bravado, patrolled the area just outside the gate. They were making sure nothing comes out. “And to keep everyone safe, no one goes in.”
“No one” did not mean Tetsukichi and Beatriss. Of course they could go in. And maybe they’d like some assistance. The leaders of the group, Ho-Jun and Chong, were accepted to accompany the party.
The party revisited some rooms on the main level, this time looking especially for objects of value. Ho-Jun and Chong were willing to open doors, and took first choice from Jourdain’s liquor collection. The party went upstairs and went wandering around, looking for locked doors to open. Behind one, they heard a woman’s voice: “Jourdain? Please. I forgive you. Let me out now. Please?”
When Beatriss answered, “It’s not Jourdain,” the voice inside turned angry, and a vengeful spirit stepped through the wall. Between Cair’s magic and the swords of Beatriss and Tetsukichi, they made short work of her and, with nothing left to talk about, opened the door. Here they found the look dead body that had once belonged to the angry spirit. After removing the body’s jewelry, they decided to leave the house. Ho-Jung and Chung loaded up on more alcohol on the way out, and all were greeted as heroes by the gang outside.
The party returned the very next day, this time determined to take a more methodical approach, and to make a map of the upstairs rooms. The tough guys outside had adopted a new strategy themselves. There were two guards outside the now padlocked gate. After paying a small courtesy fee, the party passed through the gates and entered the house where they found Ho-Jun, Chung, and the rest of the guys, several of whom had invited dates. Having drunk most of Jourdain’s alcohol, they had found his opium. Chung did not seem to be in any condition to do anything that required standing upright, but Ho-Jung was invited to once more assist the party. One of the women insisted that she wanted to see upstairs, too, and no one objected.
The Cursed Chateau @ iMOCA
It was a short trip for Ho-Jun and his friend. Both were killed in the explosion triggered by the opening of a secret door in the library. And in the little room behind the door, the party found the dead, but well-preserved corpse of Jourdain, a collection of magical implements and, sitting cross-legged inside a chalk circle, Bayemon, the demon.
Beatriss refused his request to erase the circle, and while Tetsukichi was curious, he acquiesced to Beatriss’s command. Likewise, Beatriss wouldn’t allow anyone to search Jourdain or take anything from the room. The demon became threatening. Someone, he suggested would erase the circle eventually, and wouldn’t they rather be his friends than his enemies?
They hurriedly left the room, and closed the secret door, intent that no one else would see where it was.
They explored most of the rest of the upstairs, and looted the belongings of a dead wizard after dispatching his invisible guardian.
Finding themselves both wounded and semi-encumbered with treasure, the party decided to leave the house. Downstairs, they were confronted by Chung. They admitted his friend was dead and offered him 10 taels. He wanted more—he demanded “that whole bag.” The party backed out of the room; Chung and his men followed them. When they reached the gate, Cair cast a spell to knock of the lock, and the party fled successfully.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Return to House of Lord Jourdain (Part I)

Since their arrival in Khanbaliq roughly six months ago, both Gwinch and Beatriss have heard rumors that there are people “like them” in the city. When they heard this in Zipang, the people “like them” turned out to be simply foreigners from Zhou-dang, or even “barbarians” from the far north of the country. But Khanbaliq is cosmopolitan city. Most of the people are native to northern Zhou-dang or have emigrated from the “Horselands,” but besides the Zipang contingent, there are representatives from most every known empire, kingdom, nation between the Sea of Zipang and the Western Mountains.
And, rumor has it, even beyond. But while Beatriss has met someone who swears that she knew another woman who looked just like her—pale skin, pale hair, wide eyes, she had not met another Cynadicean. Likewise, Gwinch has not met another traveler from Alyan.
Enter Myrrha and Cair.

Myrrha tried to speak to Beatriss in a couple different languages, one of which sounded somewhat like Cynidicean, but was functionally unintelligible to Beatriss. (So they were forced to communicate in Zhou-dang.) Her features were similar to those of a Cynidicean, but her skin was darker than a Cynadicean's, and her hair nearly as dark as anyone in Zhou-dang or Zipang.
And Cair (the same shadowy man who had pointed out to Beatriss where to find Myrrha’s apartment) was also from a distant continent. According to Cair, he was in fact related to Lord Jourdain. Their common ancestor had visited Zhou-dang, and started a family in the predecessor city to Khanbaliq, but then had chosen a second wife to take back with him to his own country. Thus, while Cair stood out as a foreigner in Khanbaliq, he was also regarded as an outsider in the city of his birth. Although, overall, he had been disappointed to have not found a “real home” in Zho-dang, he was interested in paying his respects at the house of his long lost relative.
And so an agreement was soon reached. Beatriss, Tetsukichi, and Hatsu would be joined by Myrrha and Cair in making a follow-up visit to the House of Jourdain. Cair and Myrrha needed special permission to exit the forbidden city but the House of Mehwa was able to arrange this. Su-Laing’s relatives seemed to understand Cair’s sense of filial duty was at least partly pretextual, but they were also interested in getting a share of the wicked old foreigner’s fabled loot. Askaa and Ganbold would join the party to represent the family’s interests.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Play Report: The House of Lord Jourdain (Part IV)

After winning the keys from Jourdain’s servant, the party decided to try some of the locked doors in the basement. They discovered first an alchemy lab, and then some asphyxiating mold. Afu, somewhat panicked by the mold wanted to try to exit the compound, but as expected the gate would not open and there wasn’t even a keyhole to try one of their keys. Concluding that there must be another way out, the party ventured back into the house, checking out some of the rooms they’d missed on the first floor.
Will o' wisp ILord Jourdain seemed to have a lot fun with is visitors, the high point for him being when Beatriss, in trying to open the door to his drinking parlor, came under the effect of a powerful hallucinogenic. White Bear raised some angry objections, and refused to roll “to hit” when I explained her friends had suddenly taken on demonic aspects and she had no choice but to fight them in deadly earnest. Lord Jourdain’s laghter increased with the party’s despair, and then at once fell silent, to be be succeeded by a flash of light and an explosion in the courtyard. In trying to grapple with the deranged Beatriss, the party lost both Qasqari and Hajip; they retreated to another room and barred the door. White Bear suggested, and I agreed, that Beatriss need not pursue them, but since she perceived them as a danger, flee in the other direction.
After poking around in the drinking parlor, the party decided to see what might have happened to Beatriss. They went back into the courtyard and saw two of Jourdain’s hounds, both standing tentatively in the arch of the now open gate, one of them holding something in its mouth. The party fired a volley of arrows and both hounds, turned and barked threateningly (the one dropping the thing in its mouth), but after being hit with a couple more arrows, ran away—out the gate.
The “thing in its mouth” turned out to be boot—chewed and charred, but still with traces of blue dye, and a couple of crushed bells attached.
The party left the compound, and found Beatriss, distraught over what she had done, but reconciled with her more customary perceptions of reality. Relieved to have escaped and with some evidence of what happened to Ikhbayar , the party decided to retrieve the bodies of Qasqari and Hajip and then returned home. Even in the ruins of the old city, carrying dead bodies invites questions. The party freely explained where they had been. And that wicked man was supposed to be rich? Maybe. They hadn’t found anything worth taking.
Back at the House of Mewha, there were questions about money. Tetsukichi gave the boot to Su-Laing and left with her the job of deciding what to tell Kei-lo.
Finally, on her way out of the forbidden city, Beatriss was approached by a shadowy man with a message. A priestess named Myrrha, who had quarters in the forbidden city would like a meeting at her convenience. The man pointed out where Myrrha could be found and then slipped away.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Play Report: The House of Lord Jourdain (part III)

Again, Lord Jourdain:

"These hounds are like nothing on Earth, lean and muscular, and large as ponies, they have black mouths and black teeth. When they bark, they breathe fire. But my visitors, they have spirit, they killed three of my hounds, and put the other two to flight. There’s nothing to do with a beaten dog, but butcher it for the servants, but that pale lady is sick with pity and she let those two run away.

"But no matter. My visitors decided to return the ground floor and then to the top story of the house, and snoop around in the bedrooms. They were finding lots of locked doors and this made them all the more curious to go where they obviously were not wanted. And then who should could sashaying down the corridor, but Landri, shaking his big ring of keys like he always used to do. Making those same jokes he’s always made to visitors who think he’s their servant, and they’re asking him for one thing or another. They don’t find their bed comfortable and want him to bring them a softer mattress. Or they think the food isn’t agreeing with them and they want a glass of water. Or like these visitors, they’ve lost track of one of their friends and think he might be inside this room with the locked door.

"These visitors however, when they saw Landri and the keys they wanted , exhibited their perfect stupidity by allowing the priest among them to puff out his chest and lift whatever holy doo-dad he wears on the chain around his neck, and “command” this tortured spirit from the land of the dead to “return to that place from which he came.” And, I wanted to say, “Excuse me, your holiness, but I haven’t let Landri have a day off in nearly 100 years. He’s not going anywhere. And don’t you want those keys he’s shaking and jangling?” Completely unnecessary. Landri wasn’t hearing it, and never did fat priest lose so much weight. After shivering at Landri’s touch, the priest cowered once more behind the warriors. The pale lady drew her sword and that was soon the end of Landri. Well, I told him to keep the door locked to my wine cellar."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Play Report: House of Lord Jordain (Part II)

In the words of Lord Jourdain:

"When I saw them approaching the house, I knew they were more than lost travelers or timid, second-hand curiosity seekers. They had a certain look their eye. A look showing ignorance of those who had entered this house beforehand and died without a sympathetic witness. Or better yet, stupidity, knowing all the stories, the lies, but believing they were better. The kind of company I like.

"The pale lady I’d seen before. And as much as I wanted to see her die when I first saw her now I wanted it even more. She pried the boards off the gate herself. Once inside the gates, she consulted with one of them. Not out of deference or submission, but something else. Pity? Strange. He was a foreigner, too by his arms. He wore a laced breastplate from Zipang like the one my father left for me. This, the Zipangnese warrior, nodded in the direction of the house.
And so the pale lady walks up to the front door and opens it, without a half-step, without a cocked ear. Not like a burglar, but like someone who thinks she has a right to something. Or like a child hoping to scare away the ghosts before he enters a room.

"Sorry pale lady! The look on her face when the statues leapt off their pedestals will stay with me for centuries. Like it, the way the wrenched his arm landing a solid blow with his sword on hard stone. And again, the look on his face. But the pale lady’s sword for such things, and soon my statue lay shattered on the floor.

"They proceeded from the foyer to the dining room where they dispatched some of my poor, malnourished servants. And then through the kitchen and straight to the cellar. What were they looking for? And why so easily defeated by a locked door? This gave me some amusement, but then the real fun began—my hounds had picked up their scent . . . "

Der Hund

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Play Report: The House of Lord Jordain (Part I)

Beatriss and Tetsukichi have been typecast. (Or perhaps White Bear and Isa?)

Following a conversation with his future in-laws about his lack of money and with his future wife about the lingering depression of her handmaiden Kei-Lo, Tetsukichi agreed to investigate the house of Lord Jordain in hopes of finding some trace of Kei-Lo missing boyfriend. And depending on what traces they would find, recover them or perform appropriate rites.

The “priest,” whom Isa suggested should be called Afu, and who had accompanied B&T on their last body-recovery mission would go with them. As would the “guards” (Askaa and Ganbold, Hajip and Qasqari) and Afu’s assistant, Ju-May (again, Isa’s name suggestion.) Hatsu, Tetsukichi’s friend from Zipang brought the party to nine.

Afu made appropriate divinations and suggested that they undertake the planned venture in 3 days. Beatriss and Hatsu returned to Gamo’s house to prepare, while the others remained in the Forbidden City.

Omesa, Beatriss’s guest from Jangze found that the city did not agree with. He wished Beatriss well and disappeared overnight.

On the day planned for departure, Beatriss was found bed-ridden and weak, so they postponed. To get her strength back, Beatriss practiced her Blackbird exercises. She made the acquaintance of Kwan Wan Lo, a guest of Gamo’s who had come to Khanbaliq to participate in the martial arts tournament. He complimented her skills and recommended that she also participate.

And so at last it was time to visit the house of Lord Jordain. As I may have explained before, the city of Khanbaliq is built on the remains of an older city, destroyed some 50 years ago by Kam Kobra’s grandfather. These ruins are found outside the walls now being constructed around the new city, on a flood plain closer to the river. Most of the old buildings have been complete destroyed, one exception being the Temple of the Two-Fold Path, another being the house of a mysterious foreigner known as Lord Jordain. Sei-Lo believed that her boyfriend had gone into the house, looking for money.

The party of nine, as named above, went outside the walls of Khanbaliq, located the house, and entered . . .

Friday, February 26, 2010

once more against the spiders!

Beatriss had made a promise to the guards from the house of Mehwa that she would help them find the remains of their late master in the spider-infested forest— as she and the guards had planned to do in their last expedition to the Jangzy area. This time, Mehwa's son-in-law would be going, too. As would a priest, who could perform the proper rites in the general area if identifiable remains were not recovered.

The party was very much focused on their goal, with one exception. Just as they were leaving the "green zone," a local monk from the Monastery of the Two-Fold Path, approached her and asked that she give him passage into the green zone and show him where he could find Gwinch. This she did, and then the party ventured out to the "Spider Forest." They passed the ruined monastery in the hills west of Khanbaliq; there was a one-sided battle going on there, but they did not stop to investigate. Shortly thereafter they encountered about half-a-dozen men on the road who seemed to fleeing from something. They made sure that something wasn't chasing them, but didn't otherwise react.

When they arrived in the forest, the priest was able to divine the location of Mehwa's body—narrowing it down to one of three "cocoons" hanging from the bottom of a large spider web about thirty feet up in the canopy. The party didn't want to get to the web, and debated whether there would be to cut down the "cocoons" from a distance. While they were discussing options, they began to hear familiar clicking sounds all around them, as well as the sounds of something very large moving through the trees above them. The party debated whether one or two especially strong warriors should approach the web—or the whole party at once.


And then a familiar voice offered his assistance—the "handsome peasant" said that he could cut the bodies down. After the climbed the tree without being attacked, Beatriss climbed up to join him, lending him her sword for the actual cutting. A spider the size of a horse attacked the party watching from the trail. The priest noticed it at the last instant and dodged it, and then the rest of the party killed it. Beatriss asked their helper to cut down all three bodies and they dragged them out of the forest before any other spiders could attack. They confirmed Mehwa's body by his armor, took some other valuable stuff from the bodies (weapons, money, a curiously intact robe) and then performed rites for all three. Omesa (the handsome peasant) asked Beatriss to take him back with her and she agreed. They made their camp in the hills on the east side of the chasm.

While enjoying their dinner meal, they were surprised by a desperate man, wearing some kind of yoke. He claimed to have imprisoned for his failure to pay his debts and had been sentenced to work in the mines. He offered to serve the party in any way if released, and said that he would rather die than be taken back Khanbaliq. They fed him and, the next morning, helped him out of his yoke. They agreed that he would serve them for one year while he looked for way to get back to his home in the Kobar valley.


Gamo welcomed Omesa as his guest and was also agreeable to having a new servant.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Report: Exploring Khanbaliq

red moons
Originally uploaded by biancavanderwerf

Gwinch received several visitors one morning: Gamo (senior) had sent his son (“Little Gamo”) as a household guard; a new laundress whom Gwinch soon recognized as Kishi; Beatriss, returned from her sojourn to Jangze.
These four, plus Saisho and three of Gwinch’s sohei went to survey the burned-out remains of Gwinch’s building project. He interpreted the rumors blaming Beatriss for the sudden fire as evidence of a combination of arson and slander.
Next, the party travelled beyond the walls of Khanbaliq to explore the ruins of the old city, in particular, the local Temple of the Two-Fold Path. Gwinch is a monk attached to a Two-Fold Path in Zipang and his superiors had sent him to Khanbaliq with a package for their sister temple. Because he’d been “quested” to deliver the package to the temple, Gwinch was anxious to discharge his responsibility, but he had some concerns. In an earlier visit, he’d found a strangely unwelcoming and deadly booby-trap near a secret entrance. So the party decided to set up a camp in the ruins a couple hundred yards away.
At their encampment, they were met by a beggar with whom they shared their food. During the conversation, Saisho used various spells to determine that this beggar’s mud-encrusted boots were in fact magical, having been created by the cat people to give the wearer silence in his movement. When Gwinch showed an interest in the boots, the beggar took his leave.
About an hour later, the party was visited by a gang of about a dozen toughs, looking to collect camping fees. When they became threatening, the party responded decisively, put the gang to flight and chased down and killed all but two or three of them. This attracted the attention of some months from the temple. Their interest in the dead bodies was neither especially positive or negative, but they were intrigued to meet “one of their own”—wearing Two-Fold robes, whom they did not recognize. The party accepted their invitation to the temple.
There they met Sheevani, a woman who introduced herself as the leader of the temple. She explained that she was not of the Two Fold Path, but that her own sect, brought with her from Manicea was very similar in the major tenets, and so they had formed an alliance. She accepted the package (a metal box) and was grateful for Gwinch’s offer of help. After a meager meal, the party departed.
They explored the ruins a little and found a large, intact house, surrounded by a high wall, its gate marked with various warnings. As dusk approached, they began to hear groaning and snarling coming from inside. They decided not to enter, and after passing by the Temple once more to see what happened there after dark (just some birds) they returned to the confines of the city.
The next day, Beatriss was visited by the guards from the House of Mehwa—they had forgotten to retrieve the master’s armor! It had been their duty to retrieve it, but in the excitement of the spiders and the weird house in the deserted village, they had forgotten. And none of them knew where he had fallen. Beatriss agreed that if they could wait a couple days, she would take them there.
In the meantime, the party decided to investigate the “poem” problem. While they had laughed off the series of insulting poems about them that had been posted in the green zone, they were now moved to do something about it. They began to become suspicious of Gamo, the one who had urged them to take action. By staking out his house, they confirmed that their “mentor” was in fact behind it, apparently trying to manipulate them into a feud against another family. In the process, they observed that another samurai, was in fact searching for them with the intent of avenging the death of his master Sato. This was Uesugi Kenchu, whom Gwinch had observed at the House of Lucky Dragon.

The party accompanied Kishi on a visit to herbalist in the Outer City. In the cellar herbalist, they met members of masked group who, without identifying themselves, thanked them (with a nice sum of cash) for their past service and enlisted their support for an up-coming mission to track down two traitorous generals in Chun Yuan province.

Finally, in the midst of these intrigues, a representative of the Emperor announced an up-coming martial arts tournament. None of PCs seemed interested in participating.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The New York Times reports the confiscation of D&D materials in a Wisconsin prison

My first thought was that either myself or more likely, my friends (and probably not Isa or White Bear) should go visit him, maybe even smuggle in a clone "of the original 1974 fantasy roleplaying game that started it all."

Test: what level M-U would I be in so effectively killing so many birds with one magic missle spell? evading prison rules; giving comfort to an inmate; promoting old-school play; subverting the market advantage of a corporate brand name; making contact with a fellow, human D&D player-- oh, but wait . . .

. . . I read this: "Mr. Singer, “a D&D enthusiast since childhood,” according to the court’s opinion, was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for bludgeoning and stabbing his sister’s boyfriend to death." And while I wanted to censure the reporter for such manipulative sentance construction, I remembered that in fact lots of human D&D players really are pathological shmucks, often in the face of my attempts at censure.

medieval knife fight

In-game conflicts between characters spill over into out-of-game conflicts between players. And vice-versa. (Litmus test: Which one do you find more regrettable? In the case of Mr. Singer, was Blackrazor involved? Did you let your DM date your sister? Was Blackrazor involved?)