Thursday, October 15, 2009

my campaign: Zipang and Zhou-Dang

battle of Mt. Sodabata

A friend of mine has suggested that there's nothing more boring to listen to than what someone else dreamed about last night. A close second might someone else's D&D campaign. It's interesting to the people making it up-- both referee and players-- but not to a passive audience. And the more "alive" the game-- that is the more it’s shaped by in-game decisions, the less it will resemble a polished story composed to engage and delight an unknown reader.

(Everyone, however, loves an apology, right? Especially when the apology precedes the injury.)

The events of my campaign currently take place in Zipang and Zhou-dang, rough analogues of feudal Japan and 13th-century China. Mainly my sources are wikipedia and various TSR products, so I'm not burdened with too many historical details to get right.

The main Player Characters include:

Gwinch, a visitor from "Alyan" (kind of a low-fantasy version of Middle Earth-- elves are important, but kind of in-inte-background). Since his arrival in Zipang, he has become a dual-class character and is now a 6th level sohei with a few ranger-like abilities from his former life. Gwinch is played by Bubu Singe.

Beatriss, an involuntary visitor, orginally from Cynadecia (B4, The Lost City). A former Warrior Maiden of Madarua, she has continued to progress as a standard D&D fighter and is 8th level. Beatriss is played by White Bear.

Kishi, a native of Zipang. She is a 4th-level wu jen (not so different form a magic-user), and an advisor to Sato Masako of the Seven Swords Clan. Kishi is played by Red Bear (picture soon).

Tetsukichi, also a native of Zipang. He is a 4th-level bushi (a fighter, really) and also a retainer of Sato Masako. Tetsukichi is played by Isa Girl Monkey.

The PCs have run through a couple TSR-published adventures-- "OA1 Swords of the Daimyo" and "OA2 Night of the Seven Swords.” While protecting the villagers in OA1, the PCs made the acquaintance of Sato Masako and "the Blackbird," a shape-changer. While the PCs maintained conflicting loyalties to each of these powerful figures over the course of several adventures, recent events forced a significant choice.

Sato asked them to retrieve the set of antique swords from which his family derived their name. And they did retrieve the swords, but then rather than hand them over to Sato, decided he was arrogant, power-hungry, and ungrateful-- and killed him. They took refuge at the Black Temple and gave the swords to the Blackbird.

The PCs and their companions fought off one attack by Sato Masako’s brothers and their followers, and began to prepare for life as outlaws as enemies of the Seven Swords Clan.

Defeat of the Samurai at the Black Temple

But then, they discovered that while they had made some enemies among those families allied to the Emperor (to wom the Seven Swords clan was distantly related) they had also made some powerful new friends among those families whose most immediate loyalty was to the Shogun. There are plenty of people in Zipang who were really glad to see the Seven Swords Clan take a fall. And some of these new friends convinced the PCs that their best opportunity for immediate safety and future importance lay in breaking ties with the Blackbird and joining a diplomatic mission to the empire of Zhou-dang.

1 comment:

  1. I was directed here via Jeffro's car wars blog (I'm earlburt), and have enjoyed perusing your posts and taking in your RPG thoughts. I recently came into a copy of a 1999 Ten Speed Press book called "Ladder to the Clouds: Intrigue and Tradition in Chinese Rank" by Beverly Jackson and David Hugus. It seems to deal with aspects of Chinese history/culture in a level of excessive detail you would dig for your campaign. When I saw it, it just seemed perfectly suited to Khanbaliq.

    If interested, drop me a line at agericks at yahoo.