“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Sessions 40.37, 38 — Prisoners’ dilemma

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Sessions 40.37 and 38, which were held on 9 and 16 November 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, and anonline 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • 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. 9
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9

>>”27 June to 7 July 1227 B.C.E.:” In Bazran Hai, capital of the Zedu kingdom, Jung-Mo talked with Desc Soo-Ann, or Desan, a fellow Nannuattan Ninja from the Gokuri Empire. He also fought four Kobolds in an ambush alongside Ember and Tokoro.

Bazran Hai in the Bamor Mountains
Dwarven city

Meanwhile, Sonny, Toshi, and Soske’ secured the “Dragon’s Beard” inn and divided party treasure, while Saigo Kasugi had a romantic rendezvous with Princess Nayoko before resuming the search for his grandfather, Gen. Shinso Saigo.

Saigo asks Wu Jen Toshi and Shukenja Soske’ for help wording a Limited Wish that he would use from an enchanted ring. The Samurai hopes to retrieve Gen. Shinso unharmed from wherever he is being held. Sonny notes that evenTeleport spells can be traced or reversed.

Jung-Mo informs the rest of the group about his recent encounters and warns everyone to be on guard because two Kobolds got away and are presumably reporting to other Ninjas from the Shadow’s Claw clan.

Tokoro and Ember consider getting and improving magical bows or arrows. The Hengeyokai Hulinyuan and Wu also keep watch outside and check on Jung-Mo’syoung wyvern and Toshi’s tiger companion Amaya.

Jung-Mo and Saigo interrogate Wah-Ree (“Larry”), a Kobold captured in the alley ambush. At Saigo’s recommendation, the Nannuattan disguises himself as a female Spirit Folk. Sonny and Toshi listen from just outside the makeshift cell.

Saigo gives the doglike reptilian humanoid some food and water. He thanks Wah-Ree for “helping to rescue his sister from some Nezumi” [ratkin]. The Kobold explains that the Shadow’s Claw clan hopes to redeem itself with Queen Kagejusko by hunting down traitors to Gokuri.

Wah-Ree says that he himself is dishonored by being captured. The spy also says that wily troublemaker Desan has used his cover identity as a courier to get access to Zedu’s royal court.

In return for the information, Saigo agrees to pay for Wah-Ree to leave the city. Jung-Mo says that his fellow Ninjas are likely working to undermine the leadership of Bazran Hai, and Sonny speculates that Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong might be in danger from her compatriots because of her truce mission.

Meanwhile, Tokoro notices someone loitering outside the rented inn, and he quietly follows the cloaked figure as the adventuring party escorts Wah-Ree to the docks. Ember stays behind to watch the wyvern, and Toshi continues his arcane research on creating items for his companions.

Saigo and Jung-Mo book passage for Wah-Ree on a boat headed south toward Sogewa. Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ keep watch, and Tokoro follows the suspicious tinkerer, who releases a pigeon from a wicker basket at the docks.

The quick-thinking Ranger looses some arrows, dropping the bird. Sonny works his way through the crowd to retrieve it before a stray dog does. The Kensai finds that the dove’s talons have been sharpened and coated in poison.

Tokoro continues following the would-be assassin and sends Mala, his otter companion, to fetch the others as he heads toward a lower tier of Bazran Hai. The carp Hengeyokai realizes that his quarry has shrunk to blend in with the Korobokuru (eastern Dwarves) in the subterranean city.

Tokoro shadows the tinkerer to a silversmith’s shop, as Saigo, Soske, Sonny, and Jung-Mo catch up. Saigo and Jung-Mo enter the shop, while Sonny and Tokoro circle around to the back. Soske’ keeps an eye on the front door.

The tinkerer talks with a Korobokuru craftsman and heads to the back of the shop. She throws a smoke grenade in an attempt to evade Sonny and Tokoro. Sonny strikes her with his flail, and Tokoro casts Abundant Ammunition and readies his Merciful bow.

The others arrive and encircle the tinkerer. Jung-Mo misses with darts from his blowgun, but Soske’s Remorse spell causes the mysterious woman to confess that she didn’t want to harm the pigeon. Saigo ends the tinkerer’s flight by knocking her out with his sheathed katana.

The Ninja reverts to her true form as a Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf). Jung-Mo and Sonny strip her of her gear, including the following:

  • Armor, Elven chain
  • Battle cloak (adamantium-laced, silenced, +1 AC)
  • Bracers, crossbow
  • Poison, two vials (death or sleep, DC 15)
  • Katana (long sword, masterwork)
  • Whip, Vorpal (1d8 plus beheading on crit)
  • Whippets, three (incendiary boomerangs, 1d6+6 fire)

Back at the Dragon’s Beard, Jung-Mo recognizes the latest prisoner as Oh Ok-Sun, a former lover! He checks her for suicide capsules, and the Nannuattan says that he is a defector who left Gokuri with a wyvern egg and without their master’s permission. She apparently knows nothing about the Scarlet Order, which has been sowing chaos in Tong Sheng.

Jung-Mo promises to return to the Underdark once he has found a way to restore their clan’s name and defend his own. Oh Ok-Sun retorts that he’ll have to take his chances, and Jung-Mo offers to release her in return for noninterference.

Saigo objects, saying that while he trusts Jung-Mo, he’s the exception among Nannuattan Ninjas. The Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) would prefer to execute the latest prisoner, but Soske’s Sense Elements (psychometry) on her weapons says that she is efficient and ruthless but honorable.

Sonny and Toshi agree that the group should keep her weapons, with the exception of a nonmagical sword. Saigo and Ember still don’t trust Oh Ok-Sun, but Jung-Mo sends her away.

Toshi says that he’ll need about a month to prepare enchanted items for his companions, such as a stealth suit for Jung-Mo, Crimson Moth silk armor for Sonny, a Scout’s Headband for Soske’, and improved armor and sword for Saigo. Tokoro considers Lesser Bracers of Archery.

In the meantime, the Wu Jen meditates, and Soske’ prepares a divination to aid Saigo in finding his kidnapped grandfather. Scouts Jung-Mo and Tokoro make sure that Oh Ok-Sun leaves the area and resume watch over the inn.

Several days pass, and Toshi aids Saigo with the wording of his Limited Wish. Ember continues to help Jung-Mo care for the wyvern hatchling.

Soske’ contacts Zao Kasugi, a scribe and ancestor of Saigo. The Shukenja learns that Gen. Shinso’s location is magically hidden, but Zao may be able to locate him with help from sacrifices at the ancestral shrine and the temple of Yen Yuang, the sleeping god.

The travelers go to Saigo’s family compound in Bazran Hai. The Bamboo Spirit Folk offers prayers and incense at the shrine and then takes the group to the relatively unadorned temple of Yen Yuang, deity of judgment and death. He briefly considers sacrificing rogue Gen. Wang Tung’s (+2) katana of Wounding.

Hirohata Kotaro, a white-robed priest, leads the supplicants to a private area. Soske’ begins with prayers, and Saigo writes a vow that he won’t touch another woman besides Princess Nayoko for two years. The knight errant hopes to marry her but believes that she is above his station.

He puts the scroll on an altar. All present see themselves in the heavens surrounded by clouds, who answer in the voices of Saigo’s ancestors. They approve of his quest and courtship of the princess.

Meanwhile, Tokoro has a vision of the slumbering god, who holds scales and a quill. His finger twitches, and the Ranger sees the symbol for “citadel,” meaning that Gen. Shinso is likely being held somewhere beneath Bazran Hai’s palace!

Saigo and friends find themselves back in the temple chamber, and Tokoro tells them about the clue from Yen Yuang. The scroll with the Samurai vow has disappeared. Sonny says that it would be nice to know more about who is holding Gen. Shinso.

Sonny and Saigo help with the expenses for making permanent Soske’sForbiddance spell, which protects one large room in the family compound from planar travel and summoned monsters. Toshi readies Arcane Sight, Break Enchantment, Dimensional Anchor, and a scroll of Circle of Protection From Evil.

Druid Ember readies Neutralize Poison, and Jung-Mo and Tokoro take up sniper positions in case the general is followed upon his rescue. Finally, Saigo takes his magical ring and utters the following Limited Wish:

“I wish that my grandfather Shinso Kasugi, general of the armies of the Zedu Kingdom, born of Takiko Kasugi, were phyisically present now in front of me, alone being whole in body and mind, free of any restraint or compulsion — physical, magical, or spiritual — healthy of spirit and without any remaining physical harm, able to stay so long as he would desire here with his grandson Saigo in the clan Kasugi stronghold, with no requirement or compulsion to return to bondage, imprisonment or where he is now and of the same mind, temperament and moral code as he was prior to his capture — without the knowledge of his enemies or any enemies of Saigo Kasugi or his grandfather appearing with his grandfather.”

Saigo’s grandfather appears in armor but unarmed and unharmed! However, because of the phrase, “of the same mind, temperament and moral code as he was prior to his capture — without the knowledge of his enemies,” Gen. Shinso has no memories of his months-long imprisonment.

Saigo and Gen. Hirokazu Saigo are happy to be reunited with the general, who explains that he was on a covert mission for Daimyo Hei Wan Ling on the northern frontier. Shinso says that while looking for foes within the Zedu kingdom, he was ambushed in the woods north of Hei Kuan.

Unfortunately, Gen. Shinso is unable to identify his attackers, but he also mentions that while traveling through the Dragon Pass in the Bamor Mountains, he saw a huge reddish dragon whose very touch corrupted the landscape.

Soske’, Saigo, and Ember believe that the dragon could be a source of thegrowing chaos and a leader of the unnatural Scarlet Order. Sonny and Toshi agree that it would be good to take the fight to the enemy, who is possibly from the Red Wastes to the northeast, while Jung-Mo and Tokoro are more cautious. The wanderers debate on when to leave Bazran Hai.

Still concerned about more Ninjas, archers Jung-Mo and Tokoro take up watch around Saigo’s manor. Kensai Sonny asks them to pay close attention to comings and goings in the demihuman neighborhood. Wizard Toshi resumes his enchantments, and shaman Soske’ rests after the rituals.

Saigo catches up with his family and Princess Nayoko, and Ember returns to the wyvern at the Dragon’s Beard. After a few days, Jung-Mo and Tokoro notice that Shijo Yoshifumi, a master landscaper, doesn’t enter the family gardens but sends underlings while waiting out in the street. Saigo concurs that this is odd behavior.

Tokoro sends his river otter Mala to dig up Saigo’s garden. When a servant notifies Shijo, the landscaper angrily dismisses him and leaves to supposedly get more helpers. Saigo and company stealthily follow him.

Shijo pays little heed to other pedestrians, bumping into them as he heads to a lower tier of the city. Sonny asks Toshi to shift into baza (small blackbird) form and follow. Soske’ notices that Shijo is looking down at the street, and Tokoro recognizes his snakelike pattern of walking.

Shijo moves a heavy cover and jumps into the sewers. The party follows [see middle leftmost entry on map]. Hengeyokai Tokoro leads, followed by Shengtese human Soske, Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo, Shan Sao Toshi, and human Sonny.

Sewer map
Part of Bazran Hai’s sewers

Tokoro tracks Shijo around some corners, across bridges over raw sewage, and to a square chamber, where he is talking to two reptilian Yuan-ti Abominations! They see the hunters and draw weapons.

Halfling Toshi casts Arc Lightning, badly injuring one of the scaled humanoids. Shapeshifter Tokoro fires four arrows at the two Yuan-ti, and Soske’ petitions his ancestors for an Ice Bow. Saigo attacks Shijo with the No Dachi of the White Scorpion but misses.

Chain master Sonny steps into the middle of the melee and swings his flail, hitting the enemy combatants. One Yuan-ti harms Soske’ with a glass, poison-filled arrow, and the other hits Saigo. Fortunately, the Samurai is able to resist the faux gardener’s Baleful Polymorph spell.

Toshi casts Snake’s Swiftness, Mass, and Tokoro shoots more arrows at the serpent folk. Soske’ also shoots them, and Saigo hits Shijo and cleaves into the Yuan-ti. Sonny’s Whirlwind Attack fells the enemy archer, and the other one swings a dao (scimitar) at Saigo.

Shijo casts Darkness and tries to escape, but Toshi counters with Dispel Magic. Tokoro knocks out the fleeing spellcaster with his Merciful bow. Soske, Saigo, and Sonny concentrate on the last Yuan-ti, quickly slaying it. They search the bodies and find the following:

  • Arrows, 12 glass, with hollow points (2d8 plus poison) — claimed by Tokoro
  • Bow, long, +3 — Tokoro to trade to improve his existing bow
  • Dao (scimitar/falchion) +4 — party to sell for 32,000 tael (16,000 gold pieces)
  • Ring of Charm Person — Saigo
  • Scroll of Mind Read — Toshi

While tying up Shijo, Tokoro realizes that he is also reptilian. The spelunkers leave the sewers, and Toshi shifts back to bird form to get Jung-Mo and his carriage to transport their latest prisoner back to the Dragon’s Beard inn….

I hope that everybody enjoyed our latest “New Dawn” games. Sara and Josh, I hope that your honeymoon is going well, and we miss “Ember!” Let me know if you have any further questions about advancement and treasure.

Note that we won’t be meeting next Sunday, Nov. 23, because I’ll be traveling, but I expect to resume on Nov. 30. I also look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expeditionface-to-face sessions and the conclusion of Rich C.G.’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries!

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.36 — “Kobolds of the Apocalypse”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.36, which was held on Sunday, 26 October 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • 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. 9
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9

“19 to 26 June 1227 B.C.E.:” The diplomatic escorts passed Korobokuru (eastern Dwarven) checkpoints in the Bamor Mountains and entered Bazran Hai, capital of the demihuman Zedu kingdom. They presented Lady Yun Aei-Yong, the emissary from the Gokuri Empire, to the daimyo and were temporarily relieved of their mission.

Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro fended off a curious Samurai and tracked down a squirrely Wu Jen. Toshi rented out the entire “Dragon’s Beard” inn, Saigo reported to his father about his missing grandfather, and Soske’ went sightseeing.

Jung-Mo spotted courier Desc Soo-Ann, nicknamed “Desan,” who had tracked him from Sogewa and stirred up trouble between human peasants and nature spirits in the village of Yao Shung. Jung-Mo stealthily followed Desan to an alley.

Jung-Mo steps into the alley and confronts Desan and what appears to be a Shan Sao (eastern Halfling). Although they are all in disguises, they speak in Bamoric, the language of the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elves) and humanoids of Gokuri.

While Saigo has gone off to covertly meet with Princess Nayoko, the rest of the adventuring party follows Jung-Mo at a discreet distance. Sonny tells Toshi, Ember, Soske’, and Tokoro that he senses something large passing overhead.

Desan says he knows that Msamaki left their homeland without permission from the disgraced Shadow’s Claw clan. Jung-Mo says that he will redeem its honor, but the other Ninja considers bringing him back to their cruel matrons.

Ember Wild Shapes into a silent owl and spots a storm wyvern, a full-grown version of the hatchling that she and Jung-Mo have been caring for. She flies back to inform the others.

Jung-Mo says that his friends are nearby and offers to stay out of Desan’s affairs if he’ll leave them alone. The “River Spirit Folk” (eastern Grey Elf) and “Shan Sao” say they’ll see him again soon and leave.

Wary of other assassins who might be watching, Jung-Mo circles back to his companions. The Nannuattan Ninja explains that his clan is operating in Bazran Hai in an attempt to regain honor on Gokuri.

Sonny suspects that the Shadow’s Claw infiltrators might try to undermine Lady Yun’s truce, which has yet to be ratified. Ember is concerned for Jung-Mo’s safety. Toshi agrees that the presence of Ninjas is bad news, but Soske’ and Tokoro prefer to wait and see what they might do.

Jung-Mo, Ember, and Tokoro follow Desan’s tracks to try to learn more, while Sonny, Toshi, and Soske’ return to their hotel to tighten security and check on supplies.

Hulinyuan Tokoro follows tracks that split. Desan turned north, and Wu Ember confirms from the air that the wyvern went in the same direction. The Shan Sao turned south and joined other small humanoids. Jung-Mo decides to follow the latter trail to a narrowing passage.

The trio notices that all the windows are boarded up and gets ready for an ambush. Four Kobolds step behind them, and one says in a high-pitched voice that Msamaki will pay for trying to follow Desan. Jung-Mo retorts that the small humanoids are not worthy opponents, and they draw weapons.

Kobold ambushers
Larry, Curly, and Moe

Hengeyokai Tokoro holds his action, but Jung-Mo draws his short bow and fires arrows at the leader, missing. Kobold Moezumi [“Moe”] pulls out a scroll and begins casting from it. Cheng-di [Geoff/Non-Player Character, “Shemp”] throws a packet at Tokoro, and it erupts into spiders.

Wah-Ree [Beruk/N.P.C., “Larry”] and Qu-Li [Bruce/N.P.C., “Curly”] throw smoke grenades and disappear. Crane Hengeyokai Ember disrupts Moe’s spellcasting with Silence, and Tokoro’s otter companion smashes the venomous spiders biting the Ranger.

Jung-Mo hurls whippets (incendiary boomerangs) at Cheng-di, who throws a stick at Tokoro. It turns into a snake and also bites the carp Hengeyokai. Silenced Moe tumbles past the melee into the alley. The two unseen doglike reptiles circle around.

Druid Ember Wild Shapes into a wolf and pounces on Moe, who rolls aside. Tokoro grabs the scroll and backs away to cast Abundant Ammunition. Jung-Mo drops Moe with a sleep arrow. Wah-Ree maneuvers, but Qu-Li slips and falls from his rooftop perch. Cheng-di hits Ember with poisoned shurikens.

Lupine Ember tosses unconscious Moe aside and tries to bite Cheng-di. Swift Tokoro looses a volley of four thorn arrows, killing Qu-Li. Wah-Ree tries to run away, but stealthy Jung-Mo catches up to the Kobold and knocks him out.

Cheng-di grabs Moezumi and dives into the sewers. Jung-Mo [Byron] drags Wah-Ree back to the others and reluctantly acknowledges that chasing the two surviving Kobolds into booby-trapped sewers is a bad idea. The Ninja later disposes of Qu-Li’s corpse.

As Sonny, Toshi, and Soske’ finish a relaxing dinner, Jung-Mo, Ember, and Tokoro arrive with Wah-Ree, who is bound and gagged for later questioning. The group splits up the Kobolds’ items from the surprisingly difficult skirmish.

Shengtese human Sonny claims a rubber chicken, and Ember attends to the wounded. Jung-Mo and Tokoro examine two ninja-tos (short swords), sixshurikens (throwing stars), and a vial of poison (5 doses, DC 14, – 1d4 Con).

Toshi and Soske’ determine that the scroll of Summoning came from Desan and would call a woman from Bazran Hai’s royal court. Soske’ treats Ember and says that he’ll pray for more healing in the morning.

After a romantic night catching up with Princess Nayoko, Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) Saigo uses Jung-Mo’s robe of Alter Self to appear as a palace guard and return to the Dragon’s Beard. Jung-Mo checks on his wyvern hatchling.

Toshi reviews the party treasure. He, Sonny, and Saigo have sold or traded two or three things each, for a return of about 36,000 tael (18,000 gold pieces, or one + 3 item) per party member. Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Tokoro say they’ll think about what they might need.

Kensai Sonny asks for Bracers of Blinding Strike (+2 init., +1 AT per day) and silk armor from one of the Crimson Moth cocoons (equivalent to chain). Wu Jen Toshi offers to enchant an Amulet of Mighty Fists (+2 to hit) so that Ember can strike with more accuracy in animal form.

Shukenja Soske’, who can guarantee the masterwork quality of any item, considers a Periapt of Wisdom (+4) and Bracers of Falcon’s Aim. Saigo asks to improve the No Dachi of the White Scorpion (from +1, Life Stealer, to +3) and his banded armor (from masterwork to +3). The Samurai also plans to buy anAmulet of Health (+2) and holds onto the traitorous Gen. Wang Tung’s katana (+2, Wounding).

While he awaits word of Lady Yun’s mission, Jung-Mo remains wary of Desan and the Shadow’s Claw clan. Sonny suggests checking in with the leaders of the Zedu kingdom or hunting down the Gokuri spies.

Toshi gets to work crafting various magical items, and Ember tries to dodge inquisitive Samurai Zhou Li. Similarly, Soske’ hopes to avoid more meddling family members. Saigo is eager to use his ring of Limited Wish to rescue his kidnapped grandfather, Gen. Shinso, but Toshi recommends waiting until they are fully equipped.

Tokoro tracks down court mage Murakami “Murray” Ryozo, whom he views as a potential threat for casting openly during their recent audience. The Ranger sends Murray new clothing to replace those stained when Jung-Mo had spilled wine on him. After a few days of training and shopping, the onetime diplomatic escorts regroup at their inn….

Remember to finish revising your characters to Level 9 and updating their equipment by our next virtual session! Let me know if you have any questions.

It was good to see some of you at last night’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game, and I look forward to continuing Rich C.G.‘s “Tunnel Vision” miniseries. We should also talk about Jason E.R.’s upcoming “Channel 37” scenario, D&D5e, and various one-shots.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.35 — Into the Korobokuru capital

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.35, which was held on Sunday, 19 October 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • 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. 9
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9

“14 to 18 June 1227 B.C.E.:” One night, Lady Yun Aei-Yong managed to get a band of foraging Bakemono and disrespectful Oni to leave her camp alone. The envoy and her escorts reached the walled town of Hsia Ling, where Jung-Mo and Ember had a romantic evening.

In addition, Sonny attended to Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja, and Toshi prepared a meal for his friends. Soske’s cousin brought him to more meddling relatives and entertained Saigo, while Tokoro went swimming and avoided gamblers and guards.

The next day, the adventuring party leaves Hsia Ling and climbs the winding trail toward Bazran Hai, capital of the Zedu kingdom. Hengeyokai Ember shifts into crane form and scouts ahead. Shan Sao Toshi and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo are eager to return to their homeland.

Jung-Mo rides in the bouncing carriage with Lady Yun and Oh Kum Ja, lest his true nature as a Nannuattan be exposed. Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ follow, with Hengeyokai Tokoro bringing up the rear.

The caravan leaves the Plains of Sathendo and the Therud Forest behind and makes its way into the Bamor Mountains. Tokoro spots the glint of sunlight reflecting from metal, and he signals Ember to investigate.

The winged Wu sees a detail of Korobokuru (eastern Dwarves) chiseling large stone blocks out of the mountainside, magically moving them, and assembling a fortification along the trail. Ember flies back to report to her companions.

Saigo decides to take the direct approach, and he is hailed by Hirata Ryuichi, a Korobokuru Bushi (Fighter). Ryuichi passes Saigo’s credentials to his commander, Fujimoto Masahiro, who allows the travelers to pass. He notes that they shouldn’t have to worry about any bandits as they approach Bazran Hai.

Hungry Sonny and Toshi notice Shengtese (East Asian) humans Sun Linwei and Huang Gangsheng preparing lunch for the camp. Shan Sao (eastern Halfling) Gorotsuki Eizo makes sure the Korobokuru soldiers have enough water and supplies.

Ember and Tokoro recognize feline Otani Maya as a fellow Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (shapeshifting scout). Soske’ sees Saito Matsu, a River Spiriti FolkSohei (eastern Grey Elf Cleric) building a shrine as part of the fort.

The wanderers hike for a few days before coming to a arching bridge over a deep chasm. Samurai Saigo talks to guards at various checkpoints, and the diplomatic team enters the stone city of Bazran Hai.

Toshi and Saigo lead the way through familiar streets. The surface layer of the Zedu capital is dotted with green gardens and parks, Spirit Folk and Shan Sao neighborhoods, temples, and the great citadel.

Japanese city
Fortified city

The Wu Jen and Samurai explain that the next two levels beneath the mountain include districts for merchants and craftspeople, as well as Korobokuru residences. Below that are mines and an underground river.

Most of the group dons formal robes as they head directly to the massive castle, but Sonny and Tokoro remain in their traveling garb. Stout armored Korobokuru, lithe Spirit Folk archers, and quiet Shan Sao sentries watch the new arrivals pass through several courtyards.

Zhou Li, a Shengtese human Samurai whom they had met back in the border village of Hazokuwi, recognizes and greets the delegation. He takes particular interest in helping Ember dismount, causing jealous Jung-Mo to palm a poison dart.

The solicitous knight asks about extraplanar encounters and offers to help arrange for an audience, and Jung-Mo bumps into him. Ember winks at Jung-Mo to reassure him. Sonny looks for a buffet, and Tokoro and Soske’ hang back.

Two women enter the reception hall, and Toshi excitedly runs to his belovedSuki, a Bisan Wu (Dryad Druid). Saigo bows politely to Princess Nayoko, a Bamboo Spirit Folk aristocrat he fears is above his station.

The party is joined by Nayoko’s brother Prince Mutsuhito and Baron Xin Pronunc Hu, representative of the human realm of Tong Sheng. They are pleased that Lady Yun has arrived safely, despite numerous hazards on the way.

Tokoro and Jung-Mo notice a human Wu Jen openly casting some spell. The Ranger and Ninja notify Sonny and Ember. The sly Hengeyokai creates a diversion by flirting with Murakami Ryozo. Jung-Mo spills a drink on him, but the group is summoned before Zedu’s rulers before it can inquire further.

Saigo and Toshi get on their knees and bow, and the others follow suit. Rows of demihuman officials flank the approach to three thrones. Ryushi Manabu, the Bamboo Spirit Folk shogun, sits next to Hei Wan Ling, commander of the Korobokuru armies. Between and behind them sits Hou Keung, the Dwarf daimyo and supreme ruler of the Zedu kingdom.

Lady Yun says that she has successfully petitioned the humans of Tong Sheng for a cessation of hostilities on behalf of the Gokuri Empire. The Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) asks the daimyo for Zedu to formally join the truce and end the recent war.

Skeptical military officers grumble, and Saigo Kasugi recognizes his father, Gen. Hirokazu Saigo. Hou Keung raises his fan of office and says that he and the shogun will review Gokuri’s terms. He also invites Lady Yun to stay in the palace, releasing the team of its duty to guard her for the time being.

Relieved, the group is dismissed. Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Soske’ go to look for accommodations. Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro try to find the mysterious mage they had spotted before their audience. Saigo meets privately with his father.

Gen. Hirokazu says that Prince Mutsuhito’s parallel mission to Gisokuri, capital of cruel Gokuri, went surprisingly smoothly. Saigo promises to give a full report on his misadventures to shogun Ryushi Manabu.

He also says that he has heard that Shinso Saigo, his grandfather and the general’s father, is secretly held captive somewhere around the capital. Gen. Hirokazu says that the dishonor must be avenged and that his son must pursue a search and rescue mission discreetly, since they don’t yet know who their enemies are.

Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Soske’ visit various inns, including the “Dead Mule,” the “Soiled Goose,” and the “Divine Plum,” before finding one that meets their expectations. Toshi pays Gakusho Haya 300 tael (150 gold pieces) to rent the entire “Dragon’s Beard” tavern for a week to start with.

The Shan Sao proprietess says that she’ll need the rest of the day to clean out the rooms, and she offers Gigi Han, a young Korobokuru, as a guide and messenger. Toshi also asks that a feast be arranged to celebrate the end of their journey, bringing Lady Yun from the haunted borderlands to the intrigue-ridden Shengtese capital of Sogewa and then to Bazran Hai.

Meanwhile, Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro ask about the Wu Jen they had seen casting in the reception hall. Tokoro’s otter follows the trail from Jung-Mo’s spilled drink, and they find Murakami Ryozo in a scriptorium with bureaucrats copying scrolls of civil records, spells, and news from around the kingdom.

The young mage says that he scanned the party as part of his official duties in the palace. “Murray” invites Ember out for drinks, and the mischievous Druid decides to play him off of nosy Samurai Zhou Li.

The wanderers spend the rest of the day exploring Bazran Hai. Jung-Mo asks Toshi to create an enchanted stealth suit from Crimson Moth cocoons. The Wizard tells the Rogue that he’ll need additional time and money to craft a jewelry box with the illusory image of two metallic dragons flying above a mountain.

Sonny and Soske’ are content to stroll about the exotic citadel, even as they hope to avoid curious kin. Ember finds a subterranean market and buys silk. Saigo visits his mother and sends a note to Princess Nayoko asking to meet. Tokorolooks for mountain streams around the city.

That evening, the would-be heroes regroup at the Dragon’s Beard for Toshi’s latest feast. Saigo heads from his family’s townhouse to a romantic rendezvous, but he notices that he is being followed. The quick-thinking Samurai stops by the inn and borrows Jung-Mo’s robe of Alter Self.

Saigo slips back out into the night, and Jung-Mo checks to see if he is still being tailed. The others follow at a discreet distance, with Ember Wild Shaping into an owl and Toshi shifting to baza (small blackbird) form. Tokoro helps Sonny in the dark.

Jung-Mo sees someone moving in the shadows, even as Saigo evades pursuit. The Ninja thinks he recognizes the movements of Desc Soo-Ann, the Spirit Folk courier who had tracked the group from Sogewa to the village of Yao Shung, where he had tried to stir up trouble for the human peasants.

Jung-Mo silently follows the eastern Elf into an alley and hears voices greeting “Desan” in Bamoric, the language of Gokuri. The exile suddenly realizes that the assassins haven’t been tracking Saigo; they’re Nannuattan Ninjas from the Shadow’s Claw clan hunting him!

Jung-Mo tries to back away and signal his friends for reinforcements, wary of wyvern air cover….

Good luck to Dexter and company as you plan your next move! Geoff, we missed Soske’ this week. Don’t forget to update your characters to Level 9 on Obsidian Portal! Also, let Byron know any items you plan to sell, trade, or enchant while in Bazran Hai.

I look forward to seeing some of you at Rich’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries tonight, and my “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game will continue at Drew’s place next Monday.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.34 — Tension on the borderlands

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.34, which was held on Sunday, 12 October 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • 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. 8
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 8
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 8

“8 to 13 June 1227 B.C.E.:” The diplomatic escorts resumed riding north toward Bazran Hai, capital of the Zedu kingdom. On the way, they encountered a reptilian Naga and Bamboo Spirit Folk, who warned them of perils ahead. The team also fought Nezumi bandits and shape-shifting Kitsune.

The caravan skirts the edge of the dense Therud Forest and follows a trail across the edge of the Plains of Sathendo. The adventuring party decides to skip the hamlet of Yanui and instead heads toward Hsia Ling, near Hazokuwi, where it formed.

The trail climbs into the foothills of the Bamor Mountains, and the team pitches camp at the edge of the woods. Jung-Mo stealthily removes his wyvern hatchling from his cage for exercise while Sonny engages Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong in conversation.

Toshi reminds his companions that he can help enchant items for them, and Soske’ guarantees masterwork-quality craftsmanship. Ember checks on Toshi’s hungry tiger Amaya and Sonny’s talking horse Yip.

Saigo is eager to get home to Bazran Hai, but Tokoro is mildly uncomfortable so far from his home stream. Shukenja Soske’ and Hulinyuan Tokoro sit the first watch that night, followed by Wu Jen Toshi and Samurai Saigo. Ninja Jung-Mo and Wu Ember plan to take the last watch.

Soske and Tokoro hear movement outside their camp. They eventually perceive about 20 Bakemono (eastern Goblins) foraging, so they wake their companions. Jung-Mo slips into the shadows to get behind the humanoids.

Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’, who can’t see in the dark, ask the demihumans if the Bakemono are heading for their camp. Crane Hengeyokai Ember and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo recommend letting them pass.

Carp Hengeyokai Tokoro says some of the raiders might enter it, so Shan Sao Toshi casts Freezing Fog to discourage them. The Goblinoids fall to bickering among themselves, but Jung-Mo and friends notice six larger shadows behind them — Oni (Ogre Magi).

Sonny and Saigo signal Jung-Mo, who creeps back to his carriage to fetch Lady Yun. Ember Wild Shapes into a wolf. Tosh casts Invisibility and shifts into baza (small blackbird) form. Soske’ and Tokoro draw their bows and wait for the Goblins to come through the mist.

Lady Yun agrees to help, and she and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja step out of the camp, along with the rest of the group. The Goblins grovel and scatter before their Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) superior.

Up in the trees, Toshi sees a winged Draconian and hears something else observing the parley. The six Oni stomp forward, and Jung-Mo recognizes the sashimonos (banners) of the Gokuri Empire’s Typhoon Unit. Two of the misshapen Ogre Mages shape change into human form.

Matsudaira Masayoshi and Byon Yong-Jo taunt Lady Yun, saying that they could easily kill her escorts and that her authority is weak so far from Gisokuri. The diplomat reminds the Oni that even though she is not part of the military chain of command, she still outranks them.

The Oni squint at Lady Yun’s guards and then grudgingly wave their squad to move on. Toshi, who has shifted back into Halfling form, still doesn’t see the second flying scout. Jung-Mo and Ember quietly follow the Oni and Bakemono to make sure they leave the area.

Eastern Ogres and Goblins
Oni and Bakemono

The next morning, Lady Yun asks Jung-Mo if she can ride atop the carriage as it bounces along the increasingly rocky road. Saigo still doesn’t trust the Nannuattan, and Oh Kum Ja walks alongside the carriage and notices a large birdcage (actually the wyvern under Toshi’s illusion).

Ember and Tokoro sense that they’re being watched, so Ember and Toshi take to the sky. The Druid and Wizard don’t find anything as the Hsia Ling’s walls comes into sight. Saigo asks Lady Yun and Oh Kum Ja to get back into the carriage as they enter the border town.

Hsia Ling
Walled town

In addition to Shengtese (East Asian) humans, the wanderers notice some Spirit Folk (eastern Elves), Shan Sao (eastern Halflings), Korobokuru (eastern Dwarves), and a band of Minotaur mercenaries. Saigo pays Tah Zhiqang 10 tael (5 gold pieces) for rooms at the “Crystal Dragon” inn.

Jung-Mo is surprised when Ember asks to share a room with him, and Toshi orders a pig for Amaya. Sonny makes sure that Lady Yun and Oh Kum Ja are discreetly situated. Druid Ember attends to the horses, while Ranger Tokoro leaves for a while to swim up the Roduyoi Stream.

Cleric Soske’ is happy to rest in a comfortable bed with a carafe of sake, but he is distressed when the maid drawing his bath recognizes him. Jin Ling is a distant cousin, and he begs her not to tell her mother that he is in town for at least one night.

Jin Ling then goes to entertain Saigo. Jung-Mo prepares a tea ceremony for Ember, and Soske’ asks Tah Zhiqang for a quieter room away from his amorous cohorts. Toshi casts spells on Jung-Mo’s window for a sparkling sunrise.

On his way back to the Crystal Dragon, Tokoro is accosted by Fan Shao-feh, who tries to entice him into games of chance. Despite the possibility of gaining favor with Shebsen, lady luck, Tokoro declines. He also notices that Lo Sheng, a Korobokuru sergeant in the local guards, is warily watching visitors.

The next morning, Toshi orders a feast for his friends. Jung-Mo and Ember are late to breakfast, and Kensai Sonny struggles to get his group to keep a low profile. Only Tokoro complies with his suggestion.

Toshi and Saigo write letters to Bisan (Dryad) Suki and Princess Nayoko, respectively, to tell them that they’ll be home soon. Soske’ reluctantly meets with his nosy family members, who treat him as a visiting dignitary.

Jung-Mo and Ember go hand in hand for a walk outside the town with the as-yet-unnamed wyvern. Sonny brings Lady Yun breakfast and practices his Bamoric. Toshi studies spells, and Soske’ tells Jin Ling’s kin, who are worried about events in Sogewa, only a little about his travels.

Saigo plans to use a Ring of Wishes to find his grandfather, Gen. Shinso Saigo, who is apparently being held captive in or near the capital….

Note that your characters will attain Level 9 as they reach Bazran Hai next session! Think about what each of them will want in terms of training and equipment, as well as other goals.

I look forward to Drew’s “Cumberland County” Southern fantasy scenario (using Roll for Shoes) tonight. Rich C.G.’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries (using Hunter: the Reckoning) will be next Monday, and my “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” campaign will probably resume on Oct. 27.

“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.33 — Nezumi, Naga, Kitsune, or “You only hurt the ones you love”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.33, which was held on Sunday, 5 October 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, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, 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 (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • 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. 8
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 8
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 8
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 8

“2 to 7 June 1227 B.C.E.:” The adventuring party’s search for children kidnapped from the Shengtese village of Yao Shung led it to a dark Druid’s grove. They encountered monkey goblins, an Oni, and Tengu. Ye-sing Kien, the evil Wu, summoned a fiendish Decapus before both were slain by arrows and spells.

The team redistributes treasure and brings the three children back to their grateful parents in Yao Shung. Jung-Mo recommends more cautious tactics for future fights.

Sonny wonders how Desc Soo-Ann, or “Desan,” the courier who stirred up trouble between the human farmers and guardians of nature, found the group so easily. Toshi finishes enchanting a cage cloaked in illusions for Jung-Mo’s wyvern hatchling.

Ember attends to the steeds, while Soske’ heals the wounded. Saigo urges his companions to press on toward Bazran Hai, the distant capital of the Zedu kingdom. Tokoro checks on provisions, and the diplomatic escorts head northwest.

Hulinyuan Tokoro leads the way on his stag along the Chung Hsien Stream, and Wu Ember flies ahead in crane form. Kensai Sonny and Samurai Saigo follow on horseback.

Ninja Jung-Mo drives the carriage with Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja. Shukenja Soske’ and Wu-Jen Toshi (on his tiger Amaya) bring up the rear. The weather turns cool and damp as the caravan crosses the northeastern Plains of Sathendo.

That night, Saigo sets watches. Soske’ and Tokoro take the first one, followed by Jung-Mo and Saigo. Toshi studies his spellbooks while Sonny and Ember sit the third watch. They see two ox carts heading south on the trail, but they do not disturb them.

The next morning, the wanderers agree to ride around the Shan Sao hamlet of Tung Erchuan, despite Toshi’s curiosity. Sonny folds paper to create origami gifts for Lady Yun. Jung-Mo and Ember covertly check on the as-yet-unnamed wyvern, whom they are hiding from the Nannuattan diplomat.

Tokoro sees a cloud of dust ahead and hears the ring of metal and shouting in Bamoric, the language of the humanoids of the Gokuri Empire in the Bamor Mountains. Ember scouts overhead, and Saigo asks the others to wait while he sneaks ahead. Jung-Mo slips away to guard the team’s flanks.

Ember, Tokoro, and Saigo see about a dozen Nezumi (rat folk) fighting one another. They quietly back off and give the skirmish a wide berth, since Saigo argues that getting involved in internecine strife is not their mission.

The group sets a brief campfire that night, and carp Hengeyokai Tokoro politely declines an offer to partake in any fish for dinner. Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo is eager to be rid of the duplicitous Lady Yun.

Shengtese (East Asian) human Soske’ is surprised not to have encountered any misshapen monsters or Undead in a few days. Toshi sends his tiger out to hunt, and Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) Jung-Mo quietly lets his wyvern stretch its wings.

Shengtese Sonny and Hengeyokai Ember spot a herd of Saiga antelope during their watch but don’t disturb their sleeping companions. The next morning, the group approaches the southern edge of the Therud Forest.

Friendly Soske’ waves at a woodsman with an axe and a small cabin, but the caravan doesn’t stop to chat. The sun breaks through the clouds, and the wanderers warm and dry their clothing.

The next evening, Toshi and company follow the sounds of someone singing and sees a woman in the woods. Jung-Mo and Soske’ hang back to protect the camp. Padma Suravida appears to be a Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) similar to Saigo.

She warns Toshi to beware of Inohara Tomo, a “stealer of breath in sleep” sometimes disguised as a woodcutter. Sonny notices that the woman then focuses her attention on Saigo, who is the highest-ranking visitor present.

The Samurai resists Suravida’s attempt to probe his mind and demands that she show her true form. She agrees, on the condition that the party not attack her on sight. The Mahotsukai transforms into a snake-bodied Naga.

Snake-bodied sorceress
Naga

Sonny isn’t thrilled when Toshi asks if she knows Ye-sing Kien, the Druid they recently defeated. The Sorceress recognizes the name but says she doesn’t know him personally. Saigo honors his word and keeps his swords sheathed.

Ember, who is actually a young gold dragon trapped in demihuman form, is sympathetic to her fellow reptile. Cautious Tokoro remains silent as the snake woman bows and slithers away. Jung-Mo follows Suravida at a distance for a short time to make sure she leaves the area.

The next day, Tokoro notices that someone is keeping up with the party. Two Bamboo Spirit Folk scouts stumble out and introduce themselves. Suwa Taku is Bushi captain of the local Zedu militia, and Yamashina Miwako is a Hulinyuan (eastern Elf Ranger).

They recognize Saigo and invite him and his friends to join them for lunch in their camp. Sonny and Soske’ stay with the carriage to play cards with Lady Yun, and Jung-Mo watches outside.

Suwa tells Saigo and Toshi that they can expect to find armies of Gokuri and Zedu in a fragile truce on the way to Bazran Hai. He also passes along a rumor that Gen. Shinso Saigo, the Samurai’s grandfather, is being held captive by reptile folk in or near the capital.

Yamashina is interested in Ember and Tokoro’s tales of their travels, including eating the head-shaped fruit of the Jinmenju. She also mentions that a courier meeting Desan’s description recently passed through.

Jung-Mo spots a fox with an unusually fluffy tail. The Rogue writes a short note, attaches it to an arrow, and fires it near the creature. The Kitsune shifts to humanoid form, and Jung-Mo notices that Inohara Tomo refers to “we” when he replies to questions.

Fox-faced humanoid
Kitsune

The vulpine fey whistles, and six Nezumi appear, as do four more Kitsune. Soske’ notices the odds shifting outside the carriage, and he and Sonny excuse themselves to go help Jung-Mo.

Ratling bandit
Nezumi

Wily Jung-Mo throws a poison grenade, causing two of the ratlings and two of the fox folk to retch. Three of the Kitsune climb into trees, and four of the Nezumi draw weapons and advance.

Sonny suspects that the duplicate Kitsune are an illusion, but he is unable todisbelieve them. Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon to call upon ever-cranky spirits, who grant the pious priest an Ice Bow.

In the Bamboo Spirit Folk camp, Tokoro notices that the woods have grown quiet — too quiet, so he heads back to the carriage. Ember Wild Shapes into eagle form, and Toshi shifts into a black baza (small bird). The scouts tell Saigo as he runs off that they will be nearby if needed.

Jung-Mo uses his robe of Alter Self to appear like another Kitsune, but Ember mistakenly attacks him! Jung-Mo returns to Spirit Folk guise and forgives the eagle, trusting that it is his beloved and not an actual foe.

Tomo casts Faerie Fire on Jung-Mo, Toshi, Saigo, Tokoro, and Amaya as the other Kitsune maneuver among the tall trees. The snarling Nezumi swing at the would-be heroes but miss, as does Sonny’s first Whirlwind Attack.

Soske’ is more successful with his icy arrows, and Jung-Mo falls back to defend Lady Yun’s carriage. Ember flies to the Kitsune in the branches and repeatedly rakes them with her talons. Tokoro shoots Nezumi and switches to Tanglefoot arrows, slowing two Kitsune.

Toshi transforms back to Halfling form and kills the injured humanoid with Magic Missiles. Saigo draws his bow and fires at the felonious foxes in the trees. Feline Amaya pounces on one hapless Nezumi.

The arboreal Kitsune Polymorph into snakes and shakily try to escape. Sonny slays two Nezumi with a successful Whirlwind Attack, and Soske’ drops the last of the rodents. Jung-Mo looses arrows to defend eagle Ember as she continues diving.

Tokoro has mercy on one Kitsune, but clever Toshi casts Arc Lightning at two on the ground. Stern Saigo strikes again, and Amaya kills another Kitsune before climbing a tree. Swift Sonny drops his chains for a double attack on a snake.

Soske’s next volley misses, but Toshi’s Lightning Bolt and Amaya’s claws destroy the last two. They search the fallen and find the following:

  • Bow, Merciful (2d6 nonlethal damage) — Tokoro
  • Potion of Water Breathing — Jung-Mo or Ember?
  • Ring of 2 Wishes — Saigo
  • Ring of Climbing (+ 5 to Athletics) — Tokoro
  • Rod of Flailing (+ 3, sizing) — Sonny
  • Scroll of Meld Into Stone — Jung-Mo or Ember?
  • Vest of Sonic Resistance (absorbs 10 points of sonic damage) — Toshi

In addition, Soske’ takes Tokoro’s enchanted studded leather armor (+2) because the Ranger recently acquired armor of Resolve. Among the items the group plans to sell or trade in Bazran Hai are Sonny’s (+2) kau sin ke, (+2) dagger, and axe (+1, +2 vs. Giants), as well as Saigo’s (+3) great sword.

Toshi reminds his companions that he can also create or enhance magic items, given the proper components and time. The team returns to the trail northward….

Good luck to your team as it continues its journey to Bazran Hai! Dexter and Sara, we should touch base to make sure your characters are up to date. I also look forward to Rich’s “Tunnel Vision” session tonight and Byron’s visit to the Boston area later this week….