“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.3 — Down the river

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.3, which was held on Sunday, 1 December, 2013:

Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and anonline dice roller

  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; LNg, Lvl. 1
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 1
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 1
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest of Shang-ti and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things; LNg, Lvl. 1
  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 1

“4 to 9 March 1227 B.C.E.:” After exorcising spirits from some acquaintances and observing truce talks near a border village, a group of wanderers had volunteered to accompany an emissary of the empire of Gokuri to the capitals of neighboring kingdoms.

As representatives of Tong Sheng and the Zedu kingdom prepare to leave for Gokuri, Sonny recognizes Sister Li Ho Xiaojun, a Shengtese human Sohei (Paladin). She is the daughter of an influential member of the Daidoji house, a rival to his own in the Crane Clan.

Speaking of cranes, Ember returns from her scouting mission and tells her new friends of how birds told her about shadowy figures in the woods around the village of Hazokuwi. Soske’ begins looking for travel provisions in the Zedu army camp.

At Sonny and Soske’s request, Saigo asks his father about Sister Li Ho. As with Prince Mutsuhito, her diplomatic credentials are in order, says Gen. Hirokazu. The Bamboo Spirit Folk advises that his son travel with a smaller, more discreet group rather than with many soldiers.

Gen. Hirokazu also warns Saigo to watch for Lady Yun Aei-Yong. Even though the Nannuattan is on a mission of peace, the general says he expects some subterfuge when she reaches the cities of Sogewa and Bazran Hai.

Sonny’s sidekick Brother Jo and Soske’s meddling Uncle Manny get new assignments in Zedu’s army, thanks to Korobokuru (eastern Dwarf) Gen. Shin Kyong-tsu. Sonny, Ember, and Soske’ return to Hazokuwi to get their horses and more supplies.

Back at the “Swimming Ki-Rin” restaurant, Samurai Saigo studies maps for Lady Yun’s itinerary. Bazran Hai, the capital of the demihuman Zedu kingdom, is only a few days’ ride away, but it is through dangerous terrain.

By contrast, the route to Sogewa, capital of Tong Sheng/the Principality of Silado, is much longer but also through quieter human lands. The adventuring party decides to visit Sogewa before Bazran Hai.

As a Wu Jen and a member of Bazran Hai’s court, Toshi has no difficulty joining Lady Yun’s escort team. Moon Jung-Mo says he is also traveling east and notes that he should come along to help open trade with Gokuri.

Soske’ recommends following the Balef River south before turning inlandtoward Sogewa. The Shukenja also buys a chain shirt and a buckler (small shield). As a Kensai, Sonny says that he needs little more than grain for his horse.

Ember avoids Oh Kum-Ja, Lady Yun’s Draconian guard. The Druid acquires leather scale armor and a wooden shield. Saigo purchases good-quality rations, including rice cakes, fine teas, and plum wine, for 50 tael (25 gold pieces).

Jung-Mo offers his carriage for Lady Yun to use, but Sonny notices that the trader spends little time with her. Ember and Toshi check on the horses and keep watch for ninjas.

Saigo and Toshi vie for paper, quills, and ink, and the Samurai buys a shakuachi (flute). He also requisitions from his father three river boats with a crew of two Shengtese sailors each. The first day of travel is uneventful.

Chinese boat
A Shengtese river boat

The thawing snow and rocky rapids bounce the sampans, tossing one boatman overboard. Saigo extends a pole to unlucky Su Yuwei, but he is unable to reach it. Sonny uses a kawanga (chain) to grab the man’s arm.

Ember looks for a branch to throw to Su Yuwei to help him float, and Soske’ throws a rope to him. Sonny, Saigo, and Soske’ pull the chilled crewman back aboard. As night falls, the three boats pull into the bank of the Balef River.

Soske’ and Ember fish. The Phoenix Clan animist catches a few with rod, reel, and line, but Hengeyokai Ember skewers several with a spear. Sonny, Saigo, and Toshi invite the boatmen to join them at the campfire.

Lady Yun stays in Jung-Mo’s carriage, but reptilian Oh Kum-Ja goes for a quick swim. Jung-Mo suggests scouting the area around the camp, but he goes to sleep before watches are set. Ember Wild Shapes into an owl and flies around.

The Wu is about to turn back to the boats when she spots a second campfire. Around it are three turtle-like humanoids. Ember reports back to her camp, and Toshi identifies the creatures as mischievous Kappa. Saigo wants to go on the attack, but Sonny and Ember are reluctant to start a fight.

The travelers agree to doubling the number of people on guard. Soske’ and Jung-Mo notice nothing untoward during their watch. Later in the night, Ember hears someone leave the camp. She spots Lady Yun talking with the Kappa.

Saigo and Sonny debate whether to confront the Nannuattan emissary. After Sonny and Toshi sit their turn, Saigo wakens early to join them for martial arts practice outside the camp.

Over breakfast, Saigo mentions to Lady Yun that Kappa have been spotted nearby. She acknowledges that there may be bandits and spies in the valley, but she doesn’t outright lie or profess ignorance.

Ember is relieved to see no further signs of the Kappa as the three boats resume their course southward. Lady Yun recommends pressing past dusk to reach the village of Wai Shih on the starboard (western) shore.

There, a night watchman directs the team to the “Death’s Deck” tavern, a modest building with barbaric faces carved into its pillars but rooms divided by sliding doors. Saigo and Sonny negotiate with innkeeper Ho Sze for two rooms for 1 tael for the night.

Sonny, Saigo, and Soske’ share a room, with Toshi and Jung-Mo back at the boats. Monk Sonny turns in early, and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo spends 1.5 tael for entertainment by Okubo Kita, a River Spirit Folk geisha.

Restless Soske’ talks with other guests. Most are local loggers and trappers of Shengtese extraction, with a few Tsucharim and Wolven.

Ember is unhappy to be stuck with Oh Kum-Ja and Lady Yun, so she wanders among the tea rooms. The Wu spots the subtle bestial features of other Hengeyokai….

Byron and Dexter, we missed you, and I hope you’ll be able to rejoin our game next weekend! Let me know if any of you will be unavailable on Dec. 22 or 29 because of holiday travel.

In the meantime, I’ll write up my notes for the latest “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” face-to-face session, which also went well, and I look forward to Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” scenario next Monday.

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