“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.23 — Bulettes, battle axe, and back to Silado Palace

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.23, which was held on Sunday, 14 July 2014:

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 D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of summer 2014:

  • 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. 6
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O./absent]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 6
  • 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. 6
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 6
  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H./absent]-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. 6

“9 to 12 May 1227 B.C.E.:” After accepting a mission to scout out an unidentified army approaching Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng, a band of explorers fought Ninjas and three creatures cursed for intemperate desires. The group continued across the wide Plains of Sathendo.

Sonny recommends approaching the army as a band of merchants and discreetly asking about its intentions. Saigo notes that he and Ember could pose as a Spirit Folk couple, with Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ as locals.

Ember wants to return to the skies to continue scouting; she had previously seen signs of large burrowing beasts. Soske’ points out that the adventuring party is too well armed and doesn’t have enough trade goods to pass as peasants.

Jung-Mo, who usually presents himself as a wealthy wanderer, stays out of sight to watch the band’s back for more foes. Toshi studies arcane spells and offers to accompany Ember in bird form.

Ember shifts into crane form and flies east over the steppes. The Hengeyokai again sees the upturned earth from bulettes, or land sharks, and she stays out of arrow range as she passes over numerous rows of armored soldiers. Ember observes a foo creature battle standard and heads back to her companions.

To cross the wilderness quickly, Saigo removes any extra gear and supplies from the horses and leaves Jung-Mo and Toshi to guard the cache. The Shan Sao Wu Jen casts Gaseous Form and Haste to help the others avoid the bulettes.

Even so, one of the land sharks leaps up and manages to take two bites out of Soske’ as he carries Sonny and Saigo across the grasslands via Wind Walk. Wu Ember leads the way to rocky ground.

Shukenja Soske’ heals himself while waiting for the army to approach. Samurai Saigo identifies the heraldry that Ember saw as that of the Shang Empire, based in distant Yin.

A high-ranking scout with a fierce steed and large bird of prey rides up to the group. Sonny warns the imperial officer about the bulettes and asks to be taken to his leader. Gen. Hou Gao personally escorts the explorers through the ranks of thousands of troops.

Most of the Shang soldiers wear banded bronze armor and carry spears and broad swords. Chariots and archers march alongside wagons of supplies. The elite troops wear scale and carry a variety of weapons. Sonny recognizes the chrysanthemum standard of the imperial house.

Shang army
Imperial army

Gen. Gao brings the newcomers before the august presence of Lady Fu Hao, who commands about 10,000 men and is a priestess as well as Emperor Zi Zhao’s favored concubine (out of 60). She wears fine armor and listens to the group’s formal introductions.

Kensai Sonny reports that Prince Zu Ji has assumed control over Sogewa, the provincial capital, and Lady Fu says that is not the will of his father, the emperor. Soske’ describes the Undead and other manifestations of growing chaos that he has encountered, and the oracle says that she has sensed similar problems.

The empress compliments Ember’s manners from the Celestial Court, and the exile uses a magical mirror to reveal her true nature as a dragon to her friends and Lady Fu. They are surprised but supportive.

Lady Fu recognizes the Saigo family name and asks about his grandfather Shinso, who the knight says is missing. Wu Ding’s concubine offers to help in any way she can, but she is determined to destroy any traitors first.

The diplomats ask the queen for time to avoid a bloody siege of Sogewa, in which many innocents would suffer. Lady Fu acknowledges that it may take her forces a few additional days to cross the lands of the bulettes, but she promises to inflict her full wrath against any who oppose the mandate of heaven.

Lady Fu leaps up, draws a battle axe from her back, and cuts the head off a standard before gracefully landing on her feet. She gives the brass piece to Ember as a token of her command.

Soske’ agrees to swear fealty to the empress, but the priest hesitates when he recognizes her axe, which he saw in a vision that indicated that the blade would change the course of history. Lady Fu offers a whistling long sword instead, and as Soske’ puts his hand on it to swear, he glimpses armies clashing on the way to his prophesied destiny.

Saigo and company depart and ride back to Sogewa, collecting Jung-Mo and Toshi on the way. Ember is upset about revealing herself as a draconic outcast, but the entire group is unwavering in respecting the Druid’s honor.

Soske’ casts Air Walk upon his horse to avoid the bulettes. Sonny, Saigo, and Jung-Mo follow at full gallop, and Ember and Toshi fly overhead. Saigo gets bitten but manages to keep running, and Sonny and Ember distract the monster with artillery.

The scouts and their exhausted horses eventually return to the rice paddies and wheat fields surrounding Sogewa. Six sentries stop them and ask for identification. Armored Saigo says that he was sent by Duke Kou Fei Seng to investigate the approaching army.

The guards decide to ride with the party into the city, and Soske’ recognizes akatar (punching dagger) of the Scorpion Clan. The travelers are wary as they are brought to the inner tiers and sprawling Silado Palace.

Flanked by aristocrats from numerous clans, Prince Zu Ji greets the team. Saigo reports on the bulettes but claims that he did not directly engage the approaching army. The crown prince orders the militia to muster more troops for the realm’s defense.

Sisters Bai Lei Qing and Dao Lei Qing again offer to bring the travelers to their quarters, but Sonny asks to speak with Lady Yun Aei-Yong first. Smiling Li Keng brings them to the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) emissary of Gokuri.

Soske’ asks Lady Yun, whom the group had been assigned to escort, how she has been for the past few days. The sly delegate says that she has met more potential allies in the Crab, Crane, and Dragon clans and that Prince Zu Ji has agreed to extend trade between Gokuri and Tong Sheng.

Sonny and Saigo think that Lady Yun might be useful in helping them get closer to the prince, but Soske’ and Jung-Mo don’t trust her. Ember and Toshi warn their friends to watch out for clan politics, which could complicate opening the city to Lady Fu’s army peacefully.

After a brief rest, Saigo says that the next thing to do is to visit Duke Kou Fei Seng, the prior ruler of Sogewa, who had taken rogue Gen. Wang Tung into custody before being placed under house arrest himself….

It was great to resume our adventures, and Dexter and Byron, we missed you! Note that I’ve added recent acquisitions to my bibliography, including the retro-clone Arrows of Indrathe BRP-based Celestial Empireand the FATE-based Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade.

Speaking of which, I’ve updated my D20/FATE house rules slightly; let me know what you think. I look forward to Bruce’s “PathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” miniseries, starting tonight, and remember to watch the scheduling threads on our message boards.