Sunday, August 2, 2009

White Mountain, Black River Session One

Finally hoping to get things back on track-- been really jumbled for about the last eight weeks. As some of you know, my mom had been planning to move to Seattle at the end of July and had made the necessary arrangements. However, in mid-June, we got a diagnosis of colon cancer. That put everything on hold. Long story short, we had to make many other arrangements and preparations. Cat, my sister, arrived and has been handling most of that- with a skill and energy I have to envy. Having her here has been a life-saver on all accounts. Bottom line, my mom is back from the hospital, recovering well and in all likelihood will be well enough to travel at the end of August.

I want to thank everyone for their well-wishes and support. I also want to thank everyone who had been patient and tolerant with us over the last couple of months-- between all of that, cat illnesses, trying to get two new campaigns up and running, new projects I've been working on, and various other crises in the lives of others in the group, I'm been bad about keeping up with things. I appreciate your patience and understanding. I'm dreadfully behind on game emails, and I'll try to get caught up on those.

Had a good evening yesterday-- Cat joined our normal Rock Band crew and we had a nice full house. The memorable moment for me will always be my brother Eric singing "Sex Machine" by James Brown. For other it may also be me singing "Pretty Fly for a White Guy". Will also coined a couple of new catchphrases, of which one- Kobold- I plan to use often. Nice session and just about wiped away the bad taste of having several people in the group rip away their faces away to reveal The Crazy recently.

Anyway, back to blogging-- beginning with a session write up for the Wushu campaign.

Wushu Session One
So we finally got started with the Wushu game and the first session which gave us a chance to see how the combat and action mechanics modifications actually worked in practice. After just two combats, I'm generally pretty hopeful. We'll have to see how it plays out over the course of several more fights, but I think it will work.

Right now the group is:
Wu-Long, Warrior (Kenny): Wu'Long also goes by the Taoist name 'Dancing Wind'. I see Wu'Long as a classic character to this genre. The young well trained warrior, with a variety of styles and weapons at his disposal. He has a trait that will be interesting, in that he believes that his life is being steered by the Heavenly Mandate of the many Gods. In effect he believes he is the hand of fate and watches the world for signs guiding his actions. We shall have to wait and see if this is a blessing or something more problematic. He is also a recognizable figure in some Wulin circles and is often confronted and challenged by others from opposing schools and clans. Much to their dismay, they shall find out for themselves that his Kung-Fu is strong.

Fei-Lang, Scholar (Scott): Sent to monastery at an early age to learn the scholarly arts, he was abducted by an evil Snow Queen and forced to serve her. Learning her icy sorceries, he was eventually able to make his escape, but the Snow Queen's minion's are always searching to get him back. This, combined with his upbringing in a secluded monastery, has caused him to develop an aversion to beautiful women.

Zhen Ai, Courtier (Sherri): Charitable and possessed of the sort of beauty that inspires love at first sight from all the wrong people, Zhen Ai is the perpetual tag-along to her other Gorgeous Cousins. If only they let her play too...

We also have a fourth character, Brandy's Alchemist (who I don't have a name written down for). She's a magical scholar as well, but of a very different kind than Fei-Lang. All four of them are cousins, children of a set of heroic brothers (and one sister) who helped fight for the Kingdom in the previous generation. Because of those connections and their own native skills, they have been appointed to the new post of magistrates for the Offices of the Provincial Inquiry. They spoke with General Jing Ping who formally assigned them to their posts. He also instructed them that they would be in charge of handling matters in the Province of Yanzhou, a delicate responsibility. Three other Magistrates would also be assigned to the province (the other PCs: Dusty, Gene and one other) who would meet them in the province. These magistrates would be traveling from time to time and meeting up with them as the opportunity or cases arose.

The group agreed to the responsibility and received further instruction. They would travel incognito to the province and head to the city of Rooted Serenity. The city governor there, Flawless Ning, is said to be a close ally of the Provincial Governor Qui Cheng. In fact he's often described as the Governor's man. In any case, Flawless Ning holds a small tournament of skill for youthful martial artists and scholars. The group would travel to Rooted Serenity, participate in the tournament and gain acclaim. Only after having established their reputation would they reveal themselves as incoming magistrates- a plan devised by the General to make sure that people take the new agents seriously.

However, in order to gain entry into the tournament, the players would have to travel to the town of Willow Repose, in the province of Geyuan, south of Yanzhou. There they would meet with Shenhua Fudoyan, a person of importance owing favors to the general. He would provide the proper papers to allow the players entry into the tournament. They agreed and set off, with one additional complication, in that their Alchemical cousin would have to wait behind a couple of additonal days in order to repair a particularly devastating accident she'd caused. She would catch up with them later.

The group traveled north, following the path of the Black River. Arriving in Willow's Repose, they began looking about for directions to the estate of their benefactor, Fudoyan. However they noticed some things while in Willow's Repose, the first being a certain laxity of enforcement on the part of the city magistrates. Open gambling, thugs lazing about on the streets and so on. They even had the sense of the watchmen perhaps looking them over to see if they could be exploitable persons, and thinking better of it. Fei-Lang also noted a couple of persons heading towards an inn, disguised to blend in, but bearing themselves as members of the wulin world.

Zhen-Ai assessed the situation and decided to seek out a senior member of the Beggar Clan, a society found throughout the Empire. After some hunting and the appropriate donations they made the acquaintance of Fulsome Dog. He told them of the waywardness of the town guards. Some of the thugs in town belong to a group run by Iron Monk Yan, a wushu master who had recently gathered a number of them together. Through payments, he'd clearly become a friend to the local officials and to the gambling houses. When asked about the strangers at the Inn, Fulsome Dog told the group that they had arrived a few days ago and seemed to be waiting for someone. After they had a good sense of the town, Zhen-Ai asked if Fulsome Dog and the Beggar Clan might be able to provide them with a guide. He agreed and summoned his own niece, Scampering Weeds who agreed to lead them to Master Fudoyan's estate just outside of town.

At the estate they found things in disorder-- or at least the general household tending now untended. They gained an audience with Master Fudoyan, who reluctantly agreed to tell them of his troubles. He clearly wished the aid of the party but could not openly say so. It seemed his son had fallen in with iron Monk Yan, wishing to become like him instead of following his father's path as a fruit merchant and distributor. His father had forbidden him from associating with the Iron Monk, but the son had disobeyed in an unfilial way. Then his son had recently returned, begging for forgiveness and saying that he would break with his bad ways, if only his father would sign a small letter of credit in order to cover his gambling debts. The father agreed and signed off. However, the next day Iron Monk Nan's men returned, showing the paper Master Fudoyan had signed-- which agreed gave away Master Fudoyan's daughter, Sun Petal to Iron Monk Nan in marriage. After some further questioning regarding the details, the group agreed to handle the matter so that Fudoyan could devote his attention and actually finish the paperwork they needed from him.

Back in town, they tracked down several of Iron Monk Nan's men, while Fei-Lang watched over the Inn in case the strangers turned out to be associated with the thugs. Using a spell, his drew their words to him and heard whispered talk about a master arriving that evening, a cart, and the transport of some valuable goods-- but nothing about the Iron Monk. Meanwhile Wu-Long confronted one of Iron Monk Nan's men in an alley. After questioning him by dangling him over a latrine, the thug provided information about the path to Nan's hideout through the woods and into the mountains. Wu-Long left the thug to soak in the outhouse.

Deciding that the strangers and their fruit transport cart were likely uninvolved the group traveled into the woods, finding the carefully left path markers. They noted that Nan had left no guard down here-- and began to fear that they'd been recalled for a wedding celebration! They hurried forward and eventually found Nan's fortress, an abandoned small military post on a cliffside. Using the power of Lightfoot and Fei-Lang's mastery of the air, they flew silently up over the walls. The realized that the location was only lightly guarded and spotted the likely place for the holding of Fudoyan's daughter-- however when they went to rescue her, she screamed, alerting the guards. Luckily Fei-Lang has taked the time to lay ice down on steps and in front of doorways. The half-dozen guards, rushing forward in the dim light fell down and were made short work of. Wu-Long questioned one and discovered that Iron Monk Nan and his men were elsewhere-- carrying out a raid-- on the strangers' caravan which Fei-Long had overheard details about!

Leaving Sun Petal in the care of Scampering Weeds, they flew through the woods and came upon a gruesome scene. Iron Monk Nan had begun with three dozen men, while the caravan guards had started with only a half dozen. The strangers' now number only two, with a ten times that number left to harry them. The group flew into the melee, taking wounds and cutting down bad guys left and right. Wu-Long struck with furious reach, Fei-Lang let loose with ice mastery and Zhen-Ai humiliated the Iron Monk by striking him across the face and painting his cheek with a rude ideogram. The tide turned and most of Iron Monk Nan's crew fell or fled. The Iron Monk, seeing his chance flew away, vowing revenge. W-Long grabbed up Master Fudoyan's son and destroyed the letter agreeing to the marriage.

In the aftermath, the two remaining stranger revealed themselves as wulin brothers, members of the Pilgrim's Ox Escort Bureau. The older man, Turbulent Stone, thanked them for their assistance and explained that they were transporting valuables hidden in fruit to Yanzhou. They'd made the purchase of fruit from Master Fudoyan's son, who had in turn tipped off Iron Monk Nan. The two groups discovered that they were heading to the same destination, Rooted Serenity, and decided to journey together. Turbulent Stone's sister, Dawning Rose, planned to take part in the tournament there as well. All returned to Master Fudoyan's estate where he greeted them warmly and gace them both hospitality and the letters necessary for entrance to the tournament.