“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.28 — River defender and infernal bureaucrats

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.28, which was held on Monday, 1 September 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 andAdvanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.)/D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures , plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller, as of autumn 2014:

  • 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. 7
  • 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; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) with tiger companion Amaya and a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 7
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 7
  • 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. 7
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 7
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 7

“23 to 24 May 1227 B.C.E.:” As the diplomatic escorts rode across the eastern Plains of Sathendo, they encountered skeletal warriors riding stags. The Undead were not evil but were in service to a nature spirit searching for defilers.

The travelers helped the warriors defeat four evil Druids who had drained the area of life. Ember briefly returned to her true draconic form, Soske’ first learned about the Scarlet Order, and Sonny’s horse gained the ability to speak with him.

The caravan follows the Chieng Hsien upstream toward Bazran Hai, distant capital of the Zedu kingdom. It encounters relatively few other travelers on the rolling grasslands.

Given its recent battle alongside the skeletal warriors, the adventuring party is understandably wary when it sees another stag with a rider approaching from the north. The mustachioed man pulls off the trail to let the carriage and horses pass, but Ember is curious and greets him.

Tokoro Gawa is vague about where he comes from and says that he is riding to Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng, to complain about polluted waterways. Jealous Jung-Mo isn’t happy to see Ember being friendly to another man.

Sonny warns the newcomer away from the city because of the turmoil among its aristocracy. Toshi keeps his tiger Amaya from attacking the steed, and Tokoro maintains control over his nervous mount.

Soske’ is interested in comparing notes with Tokoro and explains that the group has encountered many monsters and increasing chaos in the countryside. Saigo watches out for a potential ambush.

Tokoro says that he will travel with the team, but Sonny is skeptical about his motives. Lady Yun Aei-Yong, the emissary of the Gokuri Empire, pokes her head out from Jung-Mo’s merchant carriage. The Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) points out that some dignitary is approaching.

Four men wearing Shang livery carry a litter and stop upon seeing the wanderers. An attractive woman in embroidered silk robes and a man wearing a tall red cap draw the litter’s curtain aside and ask the motley crew to identify itself.

Zeng Chen is apparently a scribe serving imperial inquisitor Zhu Xiaoping. The group is alarmed when they begin speaking with Lady Yun in Infernal. Even though he doesn’t speak the language, Jung-Mo memorizes as much of their exchange as he can.

Sonny pulls his companions aside and warns them to stay calm, since the minister and his aide outrank them and may be spellcasters. Oh Kum Ja, Lady Yun’s Draconian bodyguard, seems bored. Toshi studies the slack-jawed litter bearers, who aren’t moving as tired people should.

Ember covertly casts True Seeing and glimpses screaming visages behind the porters’ blank expressions. Restless Soske’ and Saigo maneuver to guard the carriage, which Lady Yun reluctantly re-enters at Jung-Mo’s request.

Tokoro notices that the litter bearers are wet to the knees, as if they have recently forded a stream, but they still don’t stamp their feet to dry. As Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo moves the carriage away from the trail, Toshi casts Detect Magicand sees that the duo from the litter is disguised.

Lady Zeng and Master Zhu look at Ember, who perceives their true forms — one has a featureless face, and the other has red skin! The woman’s nails grow into sharp talons, and the Red Minister pulls out a metal rod and threatens to “discipline” Ember, who is an exile from the Celestial Court.

Wu Jen Toshi casts Invisibility on himself and sends Amaya away. Zhu, or at least the devil posing as him, strikes at Wu Ember, but swift Jung-Mo diverts his blow with an enchanted ninja-to (short sword). Zeng alters her appearance to resemble Lady Yun.

Hulinyuan Tokoro draws his dao (sword) and swings at Zeng, who hisses that she’ll carve off his face for her collection. Kensai Sonny takes a flying leap from his horse but misses Zhu. Angered by the infernal bureaucrat, Ember Wild Shapes into an elephant.

Toshi summons an Air Elemental and identifies Lady Zeng as a Zunberabou or doppelganger. Red-bearded Zhu tries to pass hellish judgement on Ember, Jung-Mo, and Sonny, but they avoid his penance stare.

Shapeshifting Zeng swipes at Tokoro, while Jung-Mo takes a hit from Zhu’s sword breaker and slashes at the Red Minister. Tokoro backs away and draws his daikyu (great bow). Sonny kicks the Zunberabou and entangles her with his spiked chain.

Shapeshifter and infernal bureaucrat
Zunberabou and Red Minister

Elephantine Ember tramples Zhu and Zeng. The Air Elemental slams Zeng while Shan Sao Toshi casts Mass Snake’s Swiftness on his allies. Spirit Folk Jung-Mo switches to a short bow, and Hengeyokai Tokoro fires a volley of arrows.

Toshi casts Lightning Bolt, and Zeng hits the elemental with his iron rod. Ember knocks Zhu unconscious, and Shengtese (East Asian) human Sonny restrains the woman. The Hengeyokai finishes off the Red Minister, and Shengtese Shukenja Soske’ consecrates the fallen celestial’s remains.

The four porters return to their senses and ask where they are. Ember asks them what they remember, and En. Wu says they were in the village of Chung Kwang Shui. Soske’ says it’s best to send them home rather than on to Sogewa.

Wally, Yang, and Suko say they were assigned to some officials, but Toshi casts Know History on the litter and confirms that the real Master Zhu and Lady Zeng were murdered and replaced by the imposters.

The Wu Jen also casts Detect Evil and Detect Curse on the devil’s personal effects before they are claimed. Toshi takes scrolls of Charm Monster, Detect Good, Detect Lie, Detect Magic, Speak With Dead, and Suggest. Jung-Mo takes a Robe of Alter Self, and Sonny claims the iron rod [1d12+3 damage; crit parry destroys foe’s sword].

Jung-Mo and Sonny interrogate the Zunberabou. She admits to being an assassin serving the Red Minister, who answers to the lords of the Nine Hells. Faux Zhu says that the devils planned to take advantage of growing chaos by imposing their own order on the Principality of Silado.

The changeling is not intimidated by threats, but she reveals that she planned to infiltrate the provincial capital. Rogue Jung-Mo notes that the Zunberabou had copied Lady Yun’s face and that options include keeping her as a prisoner, dispatching her, or letting her go free.

Chain master Sonny doesn’t trust Zhu and suggests sending her to Lady Fu Hao, the Shang emperor’s favorite concubine, in Sogewa. Wizard Toshi casts Detect Lie to make sure Zhu is telling the truth. She has only heard of the Scarlet Order.

Druid Ember explains that the Celestial Court probably wouldn’t care about a lowly spy and says Zhu should be imprisoned. By contrast, freedom-loving Ranger Tokoro says the doppelganger should be set free if she vows not to carry out her mission.

The Zunberabou claims that she would be honorable, but Toshi’s spell proves otherwise. Samurai Saigo says the creature has outlived its usefulness, but priest Soske’, like Tokoro, values life. After some debate, the group executes the shapeshifter.

Toshi gives 20 tael (10 gold pieces) to the four soldiers and asks them to bring the Zunberabou to Sogewa with a letter explaining to Lady Fu the assassins they have intercepted. Meanwhile, Lady Yun professes gratitude that the group has eliminated a threat to her diplomatic mission, despite her apparent familiarity with the duo.

The caravan returns to the trail toward the Shengtese human village of Yao Shung….

Drew, I hope you’ll enjoy the “New Dawn” game, which is similar to “Vistel’s Expedition” but explores a different corner of the “Vanished Lands.” Bruce and Geoff, we missed you!

I expect our telecom game to continue on Sunday, Sept. 7, and I look forward to Bruce’s “PathfinderEberron/Reign of Winter” next Monday. In the meantime, please make sure that your character records on Obsidian Portal are up to date.