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Magnus Grendel

New Campaign Characters

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Posted (edited)

So - our local gaming group is running a legend of the five rings campaign, starting very much 'from scratch' with the Topaz Championship. We've got a nice motly crew of students to send along. 

 

  • Kaito no Isawa Horonigai
    • Kaito Horonigai was the keeper of Seido Yaku-Yoke, a shrine to several minor fortunes of protection in the southwest of Phoenix lands. She was killed protecting the shrine from bandits, and her symbol of office, an ornate omamori of jade and pearl, was stolen. Shortly after, the handful of monks who tend the shrine found an baby who had been abandoned at the shrine's Torii gate, wrapped in a fine silk scarf which suggested her unknown parents were no simple peasants. One of the monks, Haji, who was a former member of the family himself and a relative of the fallen keeper, talked the now childless family into legally adopting the girl and naming her in memory of their daughter.
    • Raised almost entirely at the Seido Yaku-Yoke by her 'uncle' Haji and at the Dojo of the Swaying Branch as a shrine keeper herself, Horonigai has been taught both the common ritual skills of a shrine attendant and the archery skills and more secret techniques of the Kaito family. However, she is conflicted between a desire to prove herself worthy of her adoption and a fear of failing her adopted family, and that the more she masters the role of a shrine keeper, the less likely she is to ever be allowed to explore the world beyond the tranquil wooded valley of the shrine. 
    • Whilst Haji has been quietly supportive of his 'niece', she has attracted criticism for her uncertain lineage, for using her skills as a healer to minister to the lower-caste locals in the nearby villages, and for studying the histories of the wars fought by the Phoenix clan with a fascination some have claimed is unbecoming of a shrine maiden. Where this criticism came from fellow students at the shrine keeper school or other 'relatives' of similar age, this resulted in a few equally unbecoming brawls between the children. 
    • She has a single lock of red hair, which Haji claims is the sign of a blessing from the Kami, and which she normally wears tied up in a hair comb somewhat more ornate than might be expected from a shrine attendant. She has also 'inherited' the first Kaito Horonigai's massive Daikyu, which is noticeably taller than she is. 
    • She and Haji have persuaded the Kaito to sponsor her attendance at the Topaz Championship, in the hopes that success there will persuade the Phoenix clan to offer her a destiny other than a life spent tending to an obscure shrine.
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  • Mirumoto Uiri
    • The son of a Dragon Clan Courtier, and named for one of the clan's first ambassadors to the Badger Clan, Uiri spent his childhood travelling between the various courts of northwestern Rokugan, and is no stranger to the Dragonfly, Unicorn and Badger, as well as the City of the Rich Frog, as well as Dragon lands. 
    • Whilst his family assumed Uiri would follow in his father's footsteps, and saw to it that he was taught politics from a young age, he (politely) rebelled against the idea. Whilst travelling along the Drowned Merchant River, he and his father came across a group of monks being attacked by bandits. Intervening, they saved most of the monks - securing a respect from the Brotherhood of Shinsei for both of them. That skirmish - which felt like an epic battle to the barely-teenage boy - ignited a desire for adventure and glory that has never really faded, and he has since come to see the stifling formality of court as a gilded cage. He has developed - some might even say actively cultivated - a blunt manner which is unsuitable for a diplomat almost in response to this. 
    • He learned learned horsemanship and survival from friends made amongst the Unicorn, and was taught the art of the sword by a Niten master in his family's guards who subsequently became a Niten sensei at the Iron Mountain Dojo, and (eventually) managed to persuade his parents to allow him to attend the family's iconic bushi dojo. The move earned a great deal of scorn and disapproval from his immediate family and other Dragon Clan diplomats, and his relationship with his parents is somewhat strained. 
    • Being no stranger to travel, he travels with a unicorn-made yurt gifted by his friends at Shiro Shinjo, and a heavy hooded cloak that people often identify with him. 
    • He hopes that success at the Topaz Championship will show his choices have been worthwhile.
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  • Hida Goriate
    • The son of a Chui (a commander of about 5,000 troops) in the Crab's army, Goriate is named for one of the family's many famously stubborn defensive generals. His father was killed on the Kaiu Wall whilst he was very young, leaving him in the care of this uncle - a commander much like his late brother - and his aunt, a Kuni shujenga who took an unholy glee in 'educating' the impressionable child with horror stories of those afflicted with the Shadowlands Taint (something which has left him with a - not unjustified - fear of potential corruption).
    • He has followed in his family's footsteps, training at the Hida's Unbreakable Blade Dojo. During a visit where promising students were being presented to a group of officers at the Kaiu Wall, the Wall came under surprise attack, and the students found themselves hurridly armed and thrown into the second line, alongside wounded bushi and ashigaru reservists. The horrors of that battle have never entirely left the young Crab.
    • Aside from a large and imposing stature for his age - even by the impressive standards of the Crab -  he is also noticeable for wearing a finger of jade and numerous prayer-slips pinned to his clothing or armour; and it is commonly joked amongst his friends that he will eventually bankrupt himself buying protective charms and blessings. 
    • He hopes to prove himself and his school at the Topaz Championship - and to see more of the Empire he has trained to give his life to protect.
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Edited by Magnus Grendel

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So - we had the first session, which actually completed the Topaz Championship.

  • The eventual Topaz Champion was Bayushi Mei Lin - much to the annoyance of the players.  They all passed, and creditably so - Hida Goriate managing to accrue enough points on the first day alone to graduate. 
  • The brawl at the poisoned water sake house was good fun - Kaito Horonigai having to spend most of it watching Hitoshi's back (they were convinced it was an attempt to bushwhack the Mantis contestant) took some of the fun out of it, but Mirumoto Hinata and the player character Mirumoto Uiri made good use of a convenient bamboo table that Goriate had broken in an overenthusiastic swing, and wielding two chair legs each as improvised bokken proceeded to take out a fair chunk of the ruffians. Hida Goriate also found himself playing bodyguard to the martially less-than-gifted Yasuki Jun, who repaid him before the second day by helping him repair the damage to his travelling clothes (he took the only critical of the fight, which at 0 severity should have been no big deal in terms of injury but in terms of ruining "my finest tunic" the day before being presented to Kakita Toshimoko himself was arguably worse than a knife to the guts......)
  • The second day was very good - with a slight change to the published order of events, so that the last event was the Archery (which Hitoshi of course had to win to succeed at). This resulted in a fair amount of internal wrangling for Kaito Horonigai, since this was her best event, and - rolling void (her best ring, as well as the instructors' preferred approach) she netted three explosive successes. Knowing that she could have - and should have - beaten Hitoshi easily but couldn't was frustrating as anything...
  • They managed to get Hitoshi out of the duel against Kakita Toshimoko, and were feeling rather sympathetic that he was given no chance to present his gift (they eventually took it 'on his behalf' when one of them went to speak to the sensei to try and smooth matters over).
  • In  the iai tournament, Kaito Horonigai managed to rush in and staunch the bleeding after Kakita Riku nearly sliced his ribcage open with the "fake" sword*, then the three of them followed Kitsuki Yuikikimi in the chase. They managed to dispose of the ronin in fair fight, and Hida Goriate incapacitated Bayushi Sugai personally. 
  • They weren't expecting to see Agasha Sumiko and were very surprised (but very happy) at the offer of joining the Emerald Magistrature. 
  • After saving Hitoshi's life twice and Kakita Riku's once, they rather hope to run across their peers from the tournament in later adventures (specifically  Dark Tides). I'm tempted to make Doji Hiroka (the 'quest-setting' character in Slow Tide Harbour) Kakita Riku, and have Otomo Hiroshige be a vague relative of hers that the family is trying to find. There's no particular reason that I can see in the story Dark Tides that the fact that Doji Hiroshige is really Otomo Hiroshige actually matters; even as a Doji who's a close relative of the ruling family he's still massively important and justifies calling in favours from the Emerald Magistrates to find....

 

 

* Okay....it was a real sword. But the actual weapon was supposed to be a bokken. So it was fake, even though it was real. Confused? You should have heard them trying to explain it to Toshimoko. Fortunately, the Grey Crane interrupted Riku's seppuku as soon as they burst back into the academy yelling 'stop!', then tried to figure out what the heck they were babbling about, rather than the other way around. 

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We had session #2 - the journey to the Castle of the Emerald Champion, and their reception by Agasha Sumiko (and Kitsuki Kagi)

  • The players encountered Ryu again, and were very happy to do so - Ryu's cart saved a lot of trouble since they were carrying a Yurt to sleep in. In addition he actually helped a lot - between removing strife with Knows The Road and - when Goriate was jumped by bandits - bringing (on the samurai's orders!) his Tetsubo from the cart whilst the Crab fended the bandits off with his sword. He even helped get the merchant's carts back on the road, providing (unskilled) assistance and helping the massive Hida fix the surviving carts (basically just 'putting the pin back in the wheel' whilst the huge samurai did the lifting, but still, it was the extra success which mattered to suceed!). They have kind of a soft spot for the peasant, now.
    • This is so painting a target on his back for some future adventure. 
  • We also ran (as you can probably figure out) the bandits (killing all but two - Horonigai's Daikyu nailing Goro to the tree in one hit - and capturing one of the others to drag to a nearby guard post...the survivor may turn up again, but most importantly they know someone hired people to attack them), the ogre (without accompanying goblins), and an encounter with Airi the Tengu. They tried - and failed - to impress her; two of them managing creditable 4-success rolls on a sadly TN5 check. 
  • The Map of the Emerald Champion's Castle is beautiful, and the players are aware of the difference between player and character knowledge, but really? Did you have to put "secret chamber" on the map?
  • They've finished talking to all the clan representatives except the scorpion (they've basically decided that the scorpion clan is out to get them and is not to be trusted under any circumstances) and got a good general idea of feelings about Doji Satsume. Frankly, their feelings onthe former Emerald Champion are pretty similar; one of the Crab's disdvantages is a fear of anything supernatural, so having Doji Satsume turn up again didn't really help. Apparently if it happens one more time he's officially considering himself 'haunted'. 

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15 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

 

  • The Map of the Emerald Champion's Castle is beautiful, and the players are aware of the difference between player and character knowledge, but really? Did you have to put "secret chamber" on the map?

I plan to use the unmarked map when I run that adventure.

Thank you for the write-ups and the interesting character descriptions.

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The players have completed a second session, with the first two days of study, along with a fair amount of poking around Shiro Yogasha and getting the understanding that Doji Satsume was up to something devious. They assumed the feathers in Satsume's chambers were from carrier birds, not chickens, though, so haven't really made the connection. They are getting increasingly irked with encountering scorpion clan samurai, though.

Goriate moving the boulder with a chain of four explosive successes (all but hoiking it up on his shoulder and saying "where do you want this putting again?") was rather impressive.

However, before the final day's lessons, I decided to have things scale up a little. Doji Hotaru will still want to see them, but they were awoken before breakfast by the sound of her arrival with forty crane hatamoto bodyguards in tow as well as a few servants (she's en route to Toshi Ranbo, which is, after all, a war-zone). Given what they've heard about her relationship with her father and rumours that she might be who dunnit, seeing a platoon of armoured crane bushi marching into the castle has put the wind up them good and proper.

Their presence being requested by the Crane Champion by name in the next session is likely to make this even worse.

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The players have finished In The Palace Of The Emerald Champion - despite a slightly terrifying moment being brought in to see Doji Hotaru before finding out she was just wanting to thank them for saving Kakita Riku.

One of them nearly put his foot in it by telling her about Hitoshi, but managed to realise at the last moment that Kakita Toshimoko was her uncle and they should probably not mention the illegitimate cousin. Fortunately they had enough sense not to even consider mentioning they were being haunted by her father's ghost...

Discovering the secret room was (obviously) no out-of-character suprise, but they'd put together Bayushi Ago' disappearance, the deaths from poison, and the Crane Champion's appearance and were initially worried she was the target. Fortunately, the 'visiting dignitary's quarters' and 'ruby champion's estate' are in the same part of the castle, so they intercepted the assassin regardless. Nevertheless, Horonigai rushed up to Agasha Sumiko's quarters to get help and was kind of shocked to find out she was sitting down to eat (given the risk of poison). 

The Kaito is making a habit of bursting into places screaming "STOP!!!"

The assassin was a hard fight - Goriate ending up compromised and Uiri incapacitated before Sumiko showed up to help. Trying to land a meaningful critical on an opponent with Air 4, Fitness 3 is not easy, but eventually they put him down.

They eventually made their report of "totally natural causes and by the way we found some unrelated materials including some probably forged letters", which left them in Sumiko's good books. So much so, in fact, that she's volunteered them to represent the Emerald Magistrature at Doji Satsume's funeral in the capital.

Because obviously, there's no way that could end badly. :ph34r:

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Posted (edited)

The party have carried out their first session as full Emerald Magistrates.

  • Since they are brand-new, and have no 'beat' or 'assigned case' to be pulled off, they were tapped to act as escorts to the Ruby Champion and the Emerald Champion's remains (and armour) being escorted to Otosan Uchi for the funeral.
  • They were pleased to find Ryu assigned to the job of leading pony pulling the cart (they have a soft spot for the helpful old peasant) and, aside from finding a bridge out (they took the long way round, not wanting to risk the Emerald Champion's armour!) made the journey to the capital without incident.
  • The trio ended up being drafted to act in the funeral itself. This was a performance check, with Horonigai leading the cart behind Sumiko (it wouldn't have been appropriate for a peasant to be in the procession) and Uiri and Goriate walking alongside it looking armoured and ceremonially menacing. With a couple of discreet bits of advice exchanged under their breath by assistance opportunity spends, they got through the event without embarrassing their boss, who, after they handed the cart over to a formation of seppun guards at the gates of the palace, went inside the inner palace to speak to the Imperials.
  • They had previously stayed at an Emerald Magistrature guest-house outside the palace, and expected to go back there. They were slightly surprised when they were instead led off through the palace by a low-ranking Miya flunky.
    • They ultimately ended up being led to the Imperial Chancellor's residence 'to take tea'. The flunky asked if they could see fit to display the magistrates' weapons in the armoury, and the swords and Horonigai's bow were duly set up on stands alongside a ridiculously finely-crafted kakita blade.
    • They were inspecting (but not touching!) the sword when they were interrupted by what turned out to be Kakita Riku, who was now acting as swordmaster to some of the younger Crane Samurai in the palace. It turned out they had been invited to tea to catch up with their friend from the Topaz Championship, with no ulterior motive whatsoever, and the fact that that tea ceremony was being held in a private room in Kakita Yoshi's residence with 'Midwinter Sea', one of the Crane Clan's most prized blades, 'just happening' to be left in the room was obviously pure coincidence.
    • During the conversation, Kakita Riku happened to express concern that she had not heard from a cousin of hers, Doji Hiroshige, in some time. He had last been seen in Slow Tide Harbour, and as he was 'a troubled youth', she was naturally worried. Obviously she would never dream of presuming on her friendship to influence Emerald Magistrates in their duty, but it would be reassuring if they were able to look into the matter if their duties should happen to take them into the vicinity.
    • She also spent a bit of time actually reminiscing, and everyone seemed to enjoy the event. She had tried to impress, and broken out what turned out to be Doji Satsume's favourite tea blend, which Horonigai noted down - since it was the first time anyone had told them what the stuff was in case it ever mattered. Riku was surprised they'd ever come across it before (it was somewhat obscure) and the PCs had to invent a plausible reason why they had.
      • She also ended up talking about different parts of Rokugan, and when discussion turned to the Kaiu Wall, mentioned that she'd heard how impressive it was, and that "she would be interested to see it some day".
      • "No," said Hida Goriate, bluntly even for him, "You really wouldn't."
    • On a completely unrelated note, as they were leaving the residence, another flunky carrying a message from the Ruby Champion arrived. It asked them to act as couriers on her behalf to convey a sensitive letter to the Imperial Governor... "...of Slow Tide Harbour?" "Yes, Magistrate-sama. How could you know that?" "A lucky guess."
  • It took them only a short while to arrive at the harbour (having caught passage on a trading ship heading out to sea) and they have just caught their first sight of the town.
Edited by Magnus Grendel

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So - they more or less got through Dark Tides in one session. The highlights:

  • Their initial interviews going more or less along the lines of:
    • Captain taking them to the Harbour: "Things are run a bit differently here; and not just because there totally aren't Gaijin in the port. Don't bugger up the town."
    • Governor: "Welcome to Slow Tide Harbour. Don't tell anyone you're Emerald Magistrates if you can avoid it. Don't bugger up my town."
    • Magistrate: "You have my totally deniable blessing and I will help if it won't cause trouble in the city. Don't bugger up my town."
  • They ended up getting rooms at the Inn of Many Paths, and managed to track down Doji Hiroshige's Kakita and Ronin friends.
  • Hida Goriate may have lost a bit of honour for Honour after interviewing Ikue privately by the simple approach of going to the brothel and paying for her company. Obviously, nothing happened, but since the other PCs only have Goriate's word for that, they have taken the opportunity to discretely needle him about it quite a bit.
  • Kaito Horonigai picked up some honour for Compassion trying to help Hade through a combination of Fear-Maho and a massive opium overdose. She failed, but honour only really requires you try, and she actually threw a void point at it, despite knowing it didn't matter to 'success' of the adventure.
  • Ultimately finding the warehouse, they went to the magistrate, and - even when declaring there was Maho involved, were concerned to be told "then deal with it discretely."
    • They made it clear that this would require more manpower, told this was out of the question (because everyone in Slow Tide Harbour notices when the Kasuga Samurai start moving out en masse because they rarely do, so surprising anyone was unworkable), and were confused to be interrupted by the magistrate complaining about how her office didn't have a view of the harbour.
    • After retuning their brains to radio subtext, they eventually cottoned on to the fact that she was basically telling them to go and get one of Kakita Amano's paintings turned into a wall hanging at a very specific artwork shop called Splendid Visions. The moment the proprietor was named as Kizo, they got the hint, as his name had come up as a moneylender Hiroshige owed eye-watering amounts of money to.
  • Whilst essentially hiring a gang of underworld thugs did cost them honour, they did the job. And actually did pretty well as henchmen. One of them was badly hurt, but they helped cover the samurai as they stormed the warehouse against a full dozen ruffians.
    • Horonigai is getting the hang of sacred arrows, and using an arrow imbued with Howl of Isora as essentially a fired-through-the-door concussion grenade, she, Uiri and Goriate made for a pretty effective breach-and-clear team. Goriate in particular reduced several ruffians to stains on the floorboard very quickly.
  • They found the smuggled cargo, and after locating the gaijin pepper (and figuring out what it was) things moved very quickly.
    • This time, the Magistrate sent two Kasuga samurai with them. Goriate and Uiri also stopped to grab armour and wargear.
    • Horonigai went straight to the port to tell the harbourmaster not to let the ship leave. This left her and the thugs facing Azif, Gaku and quite a lot of Azif's crew on their own for a couple of rounds, leading to three more thugs being killed and her essentially sheltering desperately behind Tamon's Rebuke in Air Stance trying not to be stabbed.
    • Fortunately, she'd already used a Howl of Isora arrow with quite a lot of successes to mess up the Obedient Slave's rigging, so it wasn't going anywhere before the others arrived, and her ceremonial robes were pretty decent protection against Gaku's Maho.
  • After the fight, Azif got away - disappearing round the corner to a fading yell of "Get Themmmmmm...." (they have basically decided he is Hondo Onakha from Star Wars and he is definitely reappearing if they ever come back to Slow Tide Harbour or go to Gotei Port or - maybe - Khanbulak)
  • Kitsu Sokori's appearance has really put the wind up Horonigai.
  • As they were clearing up matters before leaving (with Hiroshige firmly in tow) they were informed that the warehouse they stormed had been burnt down in a mysterious fire. They pointedly decided not to speculate on whether Boss Kizo or the Tortoise Clan were responsible, and what proportion of the Gaijin contraband and/or opium was still inside the building at the time.

 

They are en route back to the capital. In the interim, they're going to find they they've missed quite a lot of politics and the start of a small war.

The city will basically be in the run-up to the Emerald tournament. which should be fun.

 

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Also, need to figure out what we do next.

  1. The Emerald Tournament means people are going to be in the capital en masse. It seems like a sensible opportunity to play The Scroll or the Blade, albeit set in various clan guest houses in Otosan Uchi rather than Kyuden Doji.
  2. Kitsu Sokori can be parked for a bit, since she's heading south and hiding. Mask of the Oni gives a pretty good way to bring her back in.
    • One thing I am tempted to do is bring back Kitsu Tsubasa. He was there at the Topaz Championship but they didn't really 'notice' him in the same way Hitoshi, Kakita Riku or Mirumoto Hinata grabbed their attention.
    • He was "instructed to successfully become samurai, or commit ritual suicide to atone for the shame" which is very harsh lion-fashion, but we know Sokori essentially killed off her brother with the totally-not-a-Black-Scroll-wasting-disease and was then replaced as heir by a "distant cousin". I'm wondering about making Tusbasa the cousin in question. Despite the threats, he must have been a pretty talented student or the Lion wouldn't have sent him to the Topaz Championship.

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Posted (edited)

So...the PCs are back in the capital.

 

 

  • I've decided to use (since it's very pretty) the map of Seppun Tatsuko's estate as the Magistrate's guest house in Otosan Uchi where they stay when at the capital. It's a nice, elegant town house within the Ekohikei, and gives them a nominal base of operations.
    • Seppun Tatsuko is also a magistrate, so is often out of the city, and when he's in the vicinity of the city he'll usually stay at Kyuden Seppun or in guest quarters in the palace (because Imperial Family).
    • A few of his servants and the odd second cousin twice removed are intermittently in residence in the family quarters in the south-east, whilst every so often another magistrate may take rooms along with them, but it's basically theirs.
    • They've sort of inherited Ryu after he came along with them to the capital to pull the cart with the Emerald Champion's armour and Doji Satsume's remains, so he's pretty much ended up as 'Alfred' and is permenantly based there unless they go on an assignment where they feel an overwhelming need to have an elderly heimin as backup.
  • The Crane are (discretely) very happy with them for retrieving Doji Hiroshige.
  • They noticed a lot of banners on local family houses, indicating far more noble samurai than normal are in residence. They later discovered that this is because the Emerald Tournament has been declared, and everyone is pouring into the capital as either spectators or competitors.
  • They had their own little intrigue to resolve, and they did very well.
  • They swiftly found themselves with a guest - Kakita Riku.
    • Ryu warned them that she would probably be coming; she had arrived to 'see if there was any news about her relative' every day they had been gone - including before they could possibly have arrived at slow tide harbour.
    • Ryu told them part of it was probably to do with his having a stock of Doji Satsume's favourite tea blend - neither Yoshi or Toshimoko wanted it, so Sumiko made a gift of it to the PCs in thanks for their off-the-books investigation (and saving her life from the Kolat), but mostly an excuse to spend time outside the palace.
    • This rather surprised them as they'd got the impression previously that she loved palace life.
    • Ryu said he'd heard rumours via other servants and attendants. Apparently some nasty gossip was circulating, basically centring on the following themes:
      • "She was caught brawling in an inn in Tsuma, you know. Shocking behaviour - you'd think a Crane would know better."
      • "I heard she's clumsy and she badly hurt a boy at the Kakita Academy."
      • "Hardly much of a courageous samurai; my understanding is that she broke down at her first sight of blood."
      • "She was only made swordmaster to the Imperial Chancellor's Household via family connections. She's not actually that good with a sword; after all, she lost the Topaz Championship, didn't she?"
      • "The worst thing is, supposedly she was going to commit seppuku and didn't go through with it. Can you imagine the shame?"
    • The problem is, Kakita Riku can't really dispute any of the charges. Firstly she can't really acknowledge them - they're gossip and rumours and no-one would ever talk to her directly about it in the first place. Secondly, they're all technically true - there are reasons for all of them but the kind of gossips hanging around the Imperial Court don't care about the reasons behind a good scandal, just that it's a juicy one:
      • She was involved in the brawl at the poisoned water sake house. She didn't start it, and only got involved to protect her friends when a bunch of hired (not that anyone knew that at the time) ronin thugs started kicking the living daylights out of the other competitors.
      • She badly hurt the Mantis clan samurai Hitoshi. Because she's a better duellist than him and someone had secretly swapped her blunted practice sword for a live blade.
      • She had an emotional breakdown. Because on the day of her gempukku she'd just nearly killed an innocent - would have killed him, if Horonigai wasn't as good at medicine as she is.
      • She lost the final of the Topaz Championship.  Because she was so shaken by what she'd done to Hitoshi that frankly the largely inept Yasuki Jun could have beaten her in an Iaijutsu duel at that point.
      • She was going to commit seppuku and didn't go through with it. Because she was ordered not to by Kakita Toshimoko, after the PCs and Kitsuki Yuikimi barged through the academy door, brandishing Sugai's duplicate sword and yelling "Stop!!!!".
    • Riku met them and they had tea in the garden pavilion (out on a little island in the ornamental lake where they could be in private).
      • She turned up, smiling, in a gorgeous blue kimono with a lighter obi tied in a precise bow, and her hair in it's characteristic black-and-white braid, with one lock curled around her right ear.
      • Goriate was welcoming and friendly, and escorted her out to the pavilion
      • Horonigai's response to seeing her (under her breath and where Riku couldn't hear her) was "oh, bugger...."
        • Uiri, who has at least a bit of situational awareness compared to the Crab samurai, asked why.
        • Horonigai's response was: "She's wearing a kimono we've seen her in before, with an obi that's almost a match in colour, tied in just a basic bow, and she has the tiniest bit of her hair loose".
        • Uiri was still drawing a blank.
        • [Out of character, and quite emotive] "She's a high-ranking Crane samurai living in the imperial palace and she left home looking like that. Trust the woman in the group and trust the character with the high vigilance and design skill. By her standards that's about half a notch above turning up in pizza-stained sweat pants with bed hair. She is not okay."
        • "Oh. Bugger....".
    • They made small talk over the tea ceremony for a while. Riku told them the she was considering leaving the palace for a while - she'd talked about seeing more of Rokugan before, after all, but for the moment they talked her out of it. She eventually left to go back to the palace, with a smile that was detectably less forced than when she arrived.
    • They decided they should do something, but weren't sure what.
    • Their initial plan was to make a few inquiries to find out who was spreading the rumours - they had ideas of it being a competitor to her current post, especially the nature of how well-designed the rumours were made them suspect it was someone who knew exactly what had happened in the Kakita academy in Tsuma.
    • Their ability to investigate was somewhat limited since they weren't of high enough status to just go into the palace complex without invitation, but fortunately the Ruby Champion was injured (after her sparring match with Hantei Sotorii in Wildcats and Dragon's Teeth) and was overplaying the injury a bit to have an excuse to avoid the various courtiers looking to lobby her as acting Emerald Champion (which is why the PCs will end up stuck arbitrating for Miya Bunji) so reporting to her involved going to her quarters in the palace, and gave them an excuse to send Ryu back and forth as messenger a few times.
    • Whilst there, they found out that the rumours were coming from people around the Imperial Advisor.
      • This initially caused a degree of "nope!" as a response; the players have a decent grasp of the big who's who in Rokugan, and know that getting involved in a gossip-and-scandal-slinging match with Bayushi Kachiko is slightly less lethal than just diving off the walls of the palace onto a field of upward-pointing yari. Probably.
      • After a few minutes of panic, they got a grip and started to ask why the wife of the Scorpion Clan Champion would possibly be interested in ruining the life of a barely-out-of-gempukku sword instructor she has almost certainly never met in person.
      • A few minutes after that, with a bit of further inquiry, they discovered that in her role as Imperial Advisor, Bayushi Kachiko had acquired a new attendant; the Topaz Champion, Bayushi Mei Lin.
        • [The Topaz Champion has no specific responsibilities, and the role of attendant to the Imperial Advisor feels like the sort of "senator's aide" development role the champion might well be given by their clan. Plus I suspect it'd flatter Kachiko's considerable ego to have a Jeweled Champion (albeit the lowest ranking one) as a personal go-for and runner.]
        • That put the whole thing in a totally different context. Mei Lin was there, and was one of Riku's rivals, and - given her gift to Toshimoko - may have been involved in Bayushi Sugai's plot (they never really figured out that Bayushi Sugai's attempt to sabotage the championship and the 'official' scorpion plot to embarrass Kakita Toshimoko with his illegitimate son Hitoshi weren't actually connected and have basically switched to the default assumption that the scorpion clan are plotting against everyone at all times.)
    • The PCs weren't sure what to do, until eventually the three of them came up with a surprisingly good plan.
      • At first they thought about Kakita Yoshi, the Imperial Chancellor, but:
        • He may nominally 'owe them a favour' but it's a totally deniable one
        • He's Kakita Riku's lord. Either he knows about Kakita Riku's problems and should be solving it already, or he probably doesn't care.
        • Even if he did start doing something; one crane samurai trying to defend another crane samurai isn't going to be particularly convincing to a cynical court audience.
      • At this point, the three PCs had an in-character conversation that rather struck me. I do like how passionate they've got about helping an NPC....
        • "Well, regardless of who we need to help us, what help do we want? what do we have?"
        • "The truth."
        • "In the Imperial Palace? Literally no-one's interested. What else?"
        • "We need to get someone interested. It's good story, if someone bothered to listen."
        • "That's what I'm saying. No-one...hang on....I think I have an idea. Would Kakita Yoshi arrange an introduction to someone in the palace?"
        • "Maybe? Depends on who, I guess."
        • "Tell Ryu to dig out some of that tea."
      • Some composition, courtesy and performance checks later:

The young woman gracefully stood, picking up her cane and the bundle of bound papers at her feet as she rose, before crossing the room slowly to kneel on a soft cushion.

"I don't think I recall you ever having to resort to notes for one of your stories, Shizue-san." said the young man sat before her.

Doji Shizue smiled gently, carefully placing the bundle off to one side. "All stories begin somewhere; before they are ready for a public audience, they need to be pruned or allowed to grow like a well cared-for bonsai tree. That is a new story, not the story I had intended to tell today."

"A new story?" the young man asked, interested. "You are writing it yourself?"

"Recording it, from people who lived through it. " Shizue responded. "It is a fascinating story, and deserves to be known some day, but for now it is merely a rough draft."

The young man grinned for a moment. As Imperial Storyteller, Shizue claiming something was 'a rough draft' was more akin to her late father, Satsume-sensei, calling something 'acceptable'.

"I would be intrigued to hear it, even as a draft." the young man said, warmly. "Perhaps it is vanity, but I find the thought of being the first person in the Empire to hear a story very entertaining."

Shizue paused for a moment, smiling back. "As your Highness wishes." She reached over, gently pulling on the elegantly knotted silk ribbon holding the bundle closed. The knot unfurled and the pages unrolled. Shizue picked up the first page, turning back to the young prince Hantei Daisetsu, and began to narrate.

"Kitsuki Yuikimi, of the Dragon Clan, was in all respects a model samurai. In the nineteenth year of the reign of the divine Emperor, Hantei XXXVIII, in the village of Tsuma, she passed her gempukku, and was granted the armour of the Topaz Champion. Almost all of her peers joined in celebrating her achievements - but only almost all, for Bayushi Sugai of the Scorpion Clan, whom Kitsuki Yuikimi had defeated, could not bring himself to accept her victory as Honour required. Instead, he began to plot revenge..."

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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We've had a couple of brief sessions playing The Scroll or the Blade. it's an interesting adventure, which is very suited to the characters we have...

  • I've obviously 'moved' it to the Imperial Capital, with the 'big thing' in the background being the Emerald Tournament instead of the Winter Court. I may well 'sub out' Miya Satoshi for Akodo Toturi as a way to introduce him (since Satoshi is broadly trying to avoid making the decision himself for various reasons).
  • The PCs were asked to stand respect for the memorial service since the Ruby Champion is 'injured'. They got on reasonably well with the cartographer Miya Bunji, who was favourably impressed.
  • The service was interesting. They didn't particularly understand what was going on to start with (they're just there as security so no-one had explained the history and what connection Masayo or Bunji had to them), but they were clear right off the bat this was not 'just' a normal task since:
    1. Aside from them, the monks, and Miya Bunji's small group, everyone in the shrine was ostentatiously wearing Dragon or Phoenix heraldry
    2. The two factions were glaring daggers at each other
    3. Mirumoto Uiri's uncle, Mirumoto Kazuya, appeared to be front-and-centre rank of the Dragon representatives. Given Uiri's tense-at-best relationship with his family, this was not an encouraging sign.
  • During the ceremony, a storm blew up. It quickly became apparent it was powerful enough to be dangerous and clearly wasn't natural. Horonigai swiftly figured out it was somehow connected to Masayo.
    1. This led to the debate of "don't you have anything that can put her to sleep?" "Yes, but it's called martial arts (unarmed): do you really want me to beat a crying twelve-year old girl unconscious in front of a crowd of high-ranking nobles including her legal guardian?
    2. It took her several goes, but she - eventually - managed to calm Masayo down, letting the storm blow itself out.
    3. Whilst this was going on, Hida Goriate switched to his default setting of lifting heavy objects - forcing the doors closed against the wind and 'improvising' a brace out parts of a nearby offering cupboard (with a promise to help replace it later).
    4. Uiri had the hardest job - calming the panicked crowd. This wasn't easy - with Scorn of the Mirumoto and Bluntness, he had to reroll every positive result he managed to get - though Friend of the Brotherhood helped, so that at least the monks were listening to him, even if the Dragon Clan weren't. He succeeded, but had to eat so much strife in the process he was on the verge of becoming compromised himself, and Isawa Yoshiko and Mirumoto Kazuya (verbally) kicking off didn't help.
  • Miya Bunji asking them to volunteer to help adjudicate what happened to Masayo came as a surprise to them because "We're not really used to being asked", but they volunteered anyway. Uiri did point out the arguably conflict of interest given their clans and his blood relationship to Kazuya, but accepted Bunji's rather pointed counter-argument that given the actual relationship just demonstrated with the Mirumoto if anything that would bias him against his clan, not for it.
  • They were invited to breakfast with Bunji the following morning.
  • Goriate decided to try and talk to the Deer clan representative whilst the other two met the Imperial Cartographer.
    1. More specifically, he sent a message asking to talk to her privately "in her official capacity."
    2. The problem is that (i) the deer clan is new so the players know nothing about them out of character, (ii) they failed their culture check to know anything in character and (iii) they didn't bother to ask.
    3. Having seen Shika Yuki looking after Masayo, they've jumped to the conclusion the deer clan are essentially Rokugan's child protection services / orphanages, as opposed to that being a favour she's doing for Miya Bunji because they're friends whilst her actual job is a matchmaker to the court.
    4. He was able to get a bit more background out of Yuki, but may have missed quite a bit of subtext due to some badly failed courtesy (air) checks.
    5. Short version; He thinks he was interviewing her as Masayo's carer and got a bit more history about the child and the weird happenings around her (noting the birthmark, for example). She thinks he was making small talk and gauging up her general competence at things, whilst discretely commissioning her as a matchmaker to find a potential bride.
    6. This will in no way whatsoever come back to haunt him later on after she finds one and contacts his aunt and uncle to set things in motion.
  • Bunji gave them the history of Chisanru as he knew it, and the outline of the two competing claims.
    1. Right away, the two PCs were broadly looking for ways to keep Masayo with him, or adopt her into the Miya. Neither of them are especially fans of their respective families right now - though Horonigai's view might change if she finds out Isawa Yoshiko is probably Masayo's aunt.
    2. He also outlined that there was a degree of ambiguity which side of the Dragon/Phoenix border Chisanru was on, and that he really, really didn't want to rake that subject up in court as a border dispute between already quarrelling clans could make tensions far worse, fast.
    3. Uiri's response at this point was "Is it too early to start drinking sake?"
    4. Either way, she did actually try even then talking to Masayo and finding out what she wanted, and succeeded with an impressive sentiment check, finding out that the child wanted to stay with Bunji. They did note without being told that 'what she wants' is probably unfortunately way down the list of reasons to go with a given decision, especially with the traditionalist Phoenix. Horonigai did get presented with an origami chrysanthemum by Masayo for her troubles. I'm not entirely sure what an omamori of Yasakune* should do, but it should probably count as one!
  • Bunji also advised them of the Kemari tournament.
    1. They joined in, and got to talk to the various competitors - but didn't (yet) talk to Yoshiko. Horonigai was busy talking to Lionel Messi Daidoji Aki to try and figure out how the heck to play Kemari. It clearly didn't help, as she failed every single attempt.
    2. Uiri actually did reasonably well, ending up eventually losing to Aki in the final round but seeing off everyone else.
    3. At this point, things kicked off between Kazuya and Yoshiko. Again. And this time with a challenge to first blood.
    4. Uiri was actually seriously considering offering to be Yoshiko's champion before Horonigai pointed out that he already has scorn of the mirumoto, and that no matter what tensions exist between him and his family, he couldn't get involved in a duel-to-first-blood, against his own uncle, championing a different clan, if he basically ever wanted to speak to another Dragon samurai again.
    5. Which - since Goriate's player wasn't here right now....left her. The Kaito shrine keeper, with no ranks of Martial Arts Melee whatsoever and a wakizashi, against a bushi opponent with Martial 4.
    6. The duel was tense - especially since Horonigai's player was expecting to lose. She got to keep a 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 from an air initiative check, but didn't help her initiative, and refused to bid in the staredown, knowing she'd need to burn at least 1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f01518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0 just to break even.
    7. Kazuya's higher focus meant he went first, and used water stance to draw and strike, putting Horonigai more than halfway to incapacitated in one go despite the latter being in air stance! She drew her sword, but (understandably not wanting to come out of air stance!) was unable to do anything else)
    8. In the second round, Kazuya went for a fire stance strike to finish her off with seize the moment....and didn't...quite....manage it. Horonigai was left literally on her endurance value, but wasn't incapacitated.
    9. Horonigai took the one swing she was going to get - and got 792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c8, 1521230551_ExplosiveSuccessSmall.png.2cc1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0, 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 - with the explosive success resolving into 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf413431518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0. Added to the 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 from her initiative check, that was enough for a deadliness 8 critical strike - just enough, despite Kazuya's fitness check, to reach the magic severity 5 and win!
    10. She was almost as shocked to win as her opponent.....but the Dragon duly apologised then withdrew. Working it out, Horonigai picked up a relatively shocking 9 glory in one moment - Kazuya is glory 60, she beat him in a public duel in the imperial palace, and it was a win by 5 points in the 'duel scoring' rules.
    11. Uiri pointedly maintained his composure rather than doing laps of the imperial palace gardens yelling "Woo-Hooo!" but, he noted, that's what the character would be doing internally.... 
  • The characters made their way to Bunji's residence for the evening meal, meeting Shika Yuki en route. As they arrived, there was a crashing noise and a wounded Bunji staggered out, yelling "they've taken her!"
  • We finished the session here; it was relatively late and the shinobi skirmish may take a while.

 

 

 

* She is capable of primarily air-focused invocations, so maybe apply to them in the same fashion as Boon of Benten? Yamakaze is the fortune of the Mountain Winds, after all.

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Posted (edited)

We finished the Scrole and the Blade last night.

  • The PCs rushed off after the Shinobi - they managed to kill one and capture a second, but the third - with Masayo - escaped.
  • The players are really not fans of the Kyoketsu Shoge and Flowing Water Strike. Uiri - a fire-stance focused Mirumoto - really doesn't like bleeding, and trying to pursue an opponent with a range 2 snaring weapon is a real problem.
  • Horonigai got the kill - combining Sacred Arrows with the new omomori she discovered she had - using Hawk's Precision to nail one shinobi to the wall with a good hit and a critical strike.
  • They did manage to take a second alive and with Bunji arranging a hiemin torturer to arrange 'strenuous questioning'.  This led them to the shinobi's safehouse, which they readied themselves to storm - before the stealthy approach went out the window as an enraged Isawa Yoshiko and a couple of phoenix bushi launched their own attack. Yoshiko is no great elemental master, but she had an advantage - once she heard what had happened - legitimate or not she is Masayo' aunt, and with both of them being shujenga her ability to sense her niece's whereabouts was strong. She may have lacked martial skill but used an importune invocation and her void point to perform Katana of Fire, which by the time she'd spent opportunities proved to be a no-dachi of fire, and her opening swing cut a shinobi in half.
  • In the aftermath she (privately and discretely) confessed her secret to Horonigai - the Kaito magistrate had acted as her champion, after all. This and her actions somewhat swung their feelings. They still felt they wanted to see Bunji keep Masayo but didn't want Yoshiko shut out as her last living relative.
  • The gempuku ceremony went well - no-one got hurt despite a slight emotional outburst when Miriumoto Uiri was testing her.
  • The intrigue was close. The magistrates won against the Dragon - but only just. The Dragon tried to undermine the magistrates - claiming that Horonigai acting as Yoshiko's champion, and Uiri's 'issues' with his family meant they were not capable of being impartial. Eventually, they managed to convince Satoshi to go their way.
  • The eventual deal was that Miya Bunji would adopt Masayo - she would formally become a Miya. Bunji would be sent to 'continue his excellent work mapping the phoenix borders' and obviously take his adopted child with him. Given her potential abilities, obviously a tutor should be arranged....and Horonigai told Masayo she could trust Yoshiko "as if she was family". The fact that she's still technically an imperial ward doesn't give the Dragon any legroom to claim bias, too.
  • The PCs ended up with Support of the Phoenix and Support of the Miya, but Scorn of the Dragon Clan.
  • The adventure ended with them being introduced to the newly fledged Akodo Toturi - the new Emerald Champion.
Edited by Magnus Grendel

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We started Wedding at Kyotei Castle last night.

  • The PCs are essentially going as a combination of
    • Kakita Riku's 'plus one' - well...'plus three', anyway
    • Representatives of the Emerald Magistrature at an important inter-clan wedding
    •  Because after resolving the scroll and the blade the Ruby Champion (and they) decided it would be a good idea if they went somewhere that wasn't the capital and dropped off the Mirumoto family's radar for a few weeks, and there were no Dragon Clan samurai on the invited guests list.
  • They have always been hesitant around 'ceremonial duty' since it's traditionally ended up with them in deeply unpleasant situations, but this time they were doubly concerned that they would need to secure both gifts and outfits for the occasion.
    • Hida Goriate's players' initial response was "Design? Design?!?! Lacquered armour is formal clothing, isn't it?" and on being told "yes-but-it-sends-messages-about-your-views-on-your-host" he genuinely seemed more stressed than when going into a headlong assault against a maho-tsukai in slow tide harbour.
      • Being told he had to come up with a gift too may have pushed him over the edge. I should point out that the character of Goriate has more ranks in Martial skills than all other skill groups combined, and has absolutely no artisan skills whatsoever.
      • In a relatively endearing burst of honesty (which was a minor loss of glory but a trivial gain of honour for sincerity) he went to Riku and basically begged the Crane samurai for assistance: "I've spent most of my life on the Kaiu wall. I don't know what I'm doing. This isn't a bunch of Gempukku students and there's no ceremonial script to follow. I don't want to start a war. HELP ME."
    • Eventually, they were all kitted out.
      • Uiri and Goriate (the latter with some discrete assistance from Kakita Riku) had formal robes made up for the occasion.
      • Horonigai chose to adapt her ceremonial robes because she had no intention of forgoing their spiritual resistance. Making use of her new-found popularity (Support of the Miya), she got hold of Miya Bunji and the newly-adopted Miya Masayo and got the use of a seamstress used to producing clothing for the Imperial families (or at least junior members thereof).
      • They also managed to sort out gifts.
        • Uiri - having found out via Kakita Riku who studied in Tsuma at the same time that Tsume Takashi, the Groom, thinks of himself as a poet,used Composition to produce some poems praising the Tsume family, Kintani Valley in general and Kyotei in particular. Despite being forced to reroll for Bluntness, the results were pretty good.
        • Goriate - aware Shiba Itsuyo, the Bride, was a bushi, used a combination of Tactics and Support of the Phoenix to identify some famous Phoenix victories and Commerce to commission a suitably impressive illuminated scroll of them. The fact that all of said victories were of the Phoenix over the Dragon was in no way connected to any ill-feeling which might be held over from The Scroll or the Blade. Because that would be petty, and they are, after all samurai.
        • Horonigai used her smithing skill with Ryu's assistance and produced a gunbai fan inscribed with both cranes and phoenix taking flight. With two fire 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 spent on 'making it look flashy', it was clearly quite a work of art...
      • They also attempted to requisition some funds for travelling (they had travel papers but Kintani is, frankly, on the edge of a war zone), and Uiri and Horonigai were each given a pouch of five Koku. There was a little private grumbling from Goriate as he failed his courtesy check.
  • They arrived in Kintani a week or so later, with Kakita Riku in company and two ponies behind them carrying their formal robes, gifts, travelling packs, and rations.
    • ("Gyoza. Bring lots of Gyoza." - Horonigai)
  • Nearing a ridge on the road, they heard screaming from the other side. Cresting the rise, they found a quintet ronin harassing peasant refugees, demanding 'taxes'.
  • They quickly realised that the ronin were not acting with anyone's authority but just trying to steal whatever coppers and silver the hiemin might have saved.
  • Horonigai identified the leader and went with her signature approach of "a warning shot to the head." It did't go quite to plan, though - the ronin took fatigue and a fair whack of strife (Horonigai has picked up Pelting Hail style and that kata is brutal with a Daikyu, delivering 7 strife with just 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343) but was neither compromised nor incapacitated.
  • Goriate, Uiri and Riku moved down the far side of the slope towards the bandits.
  • The bandit leader swung in towards Uiri, and I got to see how scary the Kyotei bandits are:
    • The leader moved up two range bands (moving an extra band because he's mounted) into range 2, and attacked with his kusari-gama. The attack missed due to Uiri guarding and using Way of the Dragon, but left the bandit leader with 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf413431211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf413431211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 instead, letting him use his mount's rules and Dirty Tricks to leave Uiri prone and disoriented, before moving back out to range 3 and using the free water stance action to yell Get Them, You Fools!, bringing in two of his minions to attack.
    • Fortunately, Uiri survived his attacker, and the bandit attacking Goriate had a short and interesting life - Crescent Moon style meaning he triggered a Tetsubo attack that removed him swiftly from the equation.
    • The two other bandits produced slings and flung slingshot at Horonigai. One missed, the other hit for five fatigue - enough that it would have incapacitated her when her character arrived in Tsuma but now just merely very concerning.
    • Uiri failed to fight back effectively - having used his wakizashi on Way of the dragon and not able to use crossing blade effectively whilst prone and disoriented (it has the movement type so would be difficulty 4!) he was stuck drawing and striking with his jitte, which achieved nothing.
    • Riku - who was perfectly able to use her iaijutu technique - instead basically sliced the bandit in half.
    • Horonigai put more fatigue on the bandit leader with a second bowshot.
    • Goriate tried - and failed - to wrangle one of the 'loose' horses.
    • The bandits tried the same trick again - this time disorienting and knocking prone Goriate, but leaving the bandit leader compromised
    • Goriate suffered a successful strike action but with lacquered armour it didn't cause any meaningful damage.
    • The other bandit got a string of four chained 1521230551_ExplosiveSuccessSmall.png.2cc and incapacitated Kakita Riku in one hit, rather panicking the PCs!
    • Horonigai incapacitated the bandit leader and used Pelting Hail to make one bandit flee, and - using water stance for extra movement and crossing blade for extra range - Uiri was able to get into striking distance and bring him down.
    • Goriate killed the last bandit still fighting.
    • Horonigai finished off the fleeing bandit with a shot at extended range thanks to Hawk's Precision.
  • They provided first air to Riku, who recovered from Incapacitation, and saw to the heimin, who they found were a refugee family fleeing to the capital. They agreed they should send them on their way, and gave the three of them three of the horses they managed to catch - retaining the fourth for Riku so the injured samurai didn't need to walk.
  • We 'ended scene' there - they should arrive at Kyotei itself next week...

 

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Bet you are glad you leveled up the character in most of those prior adventures before tackling Kyotei, eh?  If that band is this much trouble I will bet the coming drama will be quite harrowing.  Still, the mettle of a hero is forged in the fires of great adversity.  Keep us posted.  I am thoroughly enjoying your updates.

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We continued Kyotei Castle last night. I can attest that the experienced the characters  have acquired to date didn't really help at all. Uiri's player not being present probably didn't help either, but since I still let him contribute as an NPC for the evening I doubt it would have affected too much. Horonigai and Goriate's players are a bit shell-shocked.

  • So. They arrived. Riku was taken to a healer, and Ryu sloped off to the servants quarters to do whatever it is crane attendants do when they're not cowering in borderline terror around their masters. The PCs, meanwhile, met Ojuno, and were told - eventually - about what had happened in the shrine.
    • Kaito Horonigai, as a shrine keeper herself, went to go and investigate, and Goriate went with her. With Void 3, Vigilance 3, she had a shiver down her spine bordering on a spasm when entering the shrine, and attempted to use Commune with the Spirits, getting many, many chained 1521230551_ExplosiveSuccessSmall.png.2cc. Unfortunately all these explosive successes were on ring dice, so also came with an equal amount of 1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0.
      • She has increased her Earth Ring and hence her composure, but not that much. So she basically got a full-blown vision from the spirits; the vision of the cranes and the lions, followed by a first-hand experience of Tsume Retsu's massacre of the Damasu family, from the perspective of the Damasu's chief priest, ending with 'her' getting fatally impaled on a naginata. She then celebrated by passing out cold.
    • Goriate, being extremely practical if not massively courteous or compassionate, basically checked she wasn't actually dead, propped her against a wall until she recovered, and continued investigating the rest of the shrine. He didn't want to poke the bloodstained cranes, so didn't register they'd been trapped, but did manage to find out that Satsuki had been ill and not done her duties that morning. He also found Reika/Maeda's 'offering' - though, of course, the name meant nothing and 'the Pines' could have, at this point, been anything.
  • Leaving the shrine, they and Riku presented their gifts to Itsuyo, whilst Uiri went to present his to Takashi. Since Horonigai's gift of the fan was to both of them, they decided to keep that until after the wedding.
  • Goriate went to talk to Tsume Kotonoha, the guard captain; partly to see what the defences looked like, partly to report the bandit attack. The response to the latter was essentially, "we're sorry and we know"; but Kotonoha was clearly stressing, a lot. She'd literally at the close of the meeting with General Shimazu and Takashi been told (because they'd also been told) that the Lion Clan was sending a guest, a 'personal vassal of Akodo Toturi-sama', as a representative to the wedding.
    • She was assuming that this was a last-minute guest, and the high status of the guest was because if they weren't received in a fashion suitable to their status, the Tsume's - and by extension the Crane's - reputation for courtesy and hospitality would suffer.
    • The phrase 'personal vassal of Toturi' left her shocked, though, because the invitation - sent with no expectation of anyone actually accepting it - gave no provision for an honour guard beyond a single yojimbo. The Lion are brave but they're not stupid, and whilst the two clans technically aren't at war, surely they weren't going to send anyone that senior onto enemy lands with only a single bodyguard? When they knew the place was crawling with bandits and ronin?
    • This led to Kotonoha and Goriate trying to figure out the possibilities:
      • The direct vassals of Toturi, as Lion Clan champion, were the Lion Family Daimyos.
        • Kitsu Jusai was known to be in the capital, addressing an issue of family succession (this is going to turn out to be Kitsu Tsubasa/Kitsu Sokorii)
        • Ikoma Anazaku was busy rattling sabres on the Unicorn border after the breakdown of his betrothal.
        • Matsu Tsuko "is realistically only going to enter Crane territory to kill every living thing she encounters, right down to the chickens." "What?" "She was betrothed to Akodo Arasou. And she's a Matsu." "Oh."
      • They decided it could be a senior Akodo, or the Daimyo of an Akodo vassal family. But even the Daimyos of the Ichime, Itagawa or Katai no Akodo vassal families felt far too senior to be sent solo into a hostile war-zone.
  • They all got ready for the dinner.
    • To start with it was stressful-but-amusing, with Tsume Kotonoha stuck between Ide Tarao and Doji Kunuzobu - a trader and a crane courtier - discussing trends in high fashion. The look she shot Goriate basically translated as "kill me."
    • He responded with a sympathetic grin, which was - unfortunately - picked up on and wilfully misinterpreted by Kunozobu, who ended up engaging the Crab samurai (who, once again, has no artisan skills whatsoever) in a Haiku competition.
      • "COMPOSITION!?!?!?!?!" was the half-bellowed response from Goriate's player when he realised the situation he was now in.
      • He actually managed to do okay. I mean, he lost. Completely and unarguably, ending up compromised from the strife he ate in the process, but refused to unmask, and - thanks to a decent fire ring for the invent approach - didn't disgrace himself.
      • He managed to last long enough that the amount of Sake the two were drinking left Horonigai - who has a very high void ring and vigilance - noticing that Kunuzobu's "impression of being a human" was slipping a touch. This properly put the wind up her given the spiritual weirdness earlier. Fortunately Uiri was able to fill in the rumoured blanks about the Fox Clan before she started screaming "oni!" or "maho-tsukai!" and attacking him, which might have ended badly for everyone.
    • The characters also caught up with Soshi Ozoru and Nasu Shimazu. Overhearing reference to 'the House of the Pines', everyone's ears pricked up. They were about to pursue this line of questioning when Ozoru mentioned in passing that he'd seen the expected lion delegate in the town. Horonigai asked with a degree of urgency for some details about who they were expecting, to which Ozoru gestured at the door to the main hall.
      • "Her." he said, as Maeda and Itto entered. The flunky by the door was clearly shocked by the name being given on the scroll he was handed, but her bodyguard (Itto) was insistant, and in the end he read it as given.
      • "Damasu no Akodo Maeda-sama, Daimyo of the Damasu family."
    • If someone had lobbed a gaijin pepper bomb in the room at this point, it would probably have caused less disruption.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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The dinner got 'interesting' at this point.

  • Soshi Ozuro started excusing himself to go for walks around the garden.
    • The first time, Horonigai followed him, and was very proud that "I stopped him doing a thing!"
    • The second, Goriate followed him and was left somewhat disconcerted after he stopped at the Koi pond and proceeded to try and seduce the Crab samurai. Already (still) compromised and somewhat inebriated, trying to come up with a "thanks but you're not my type" when he'd followed the scorpion into a secluded, romantic garden rather than the other way around, without giving offence, with a basically non-existent dice pool for courtesy skill checks and without being able to keep any 1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0 results was as painful to watch first-hand as you're probably imagining.
    • The third time, both of them followed, using checks to do so stealthily. They weren't sure if they'd succeeded or not, but watched him sneak into the shrine. "Aha!" Horonigai's player says, and sneaks closer. To find him kneeling down, saying a perfunctory and perfectly normal prayer at the altar, and heading back to the hall. Where - because they weren't there to keep an eye on her, Maeda is in the middle of privately talking to Takashi before leaving for the night.
    • ( "WHICH WAS THE WHOLE ****ING POINT OF HIM 'SNEAKING' OUT OF THE HALL!!! ****ING SCORPION PLAYED US LIKE ****ING PUPPETS!!!!!!! ****ING SCORPION CLAN!!!!!"  - Goriate's player may have been somewhat unhappy after realising Ozuro's actual goal...)
    • The party broke up at this point. Takashi ended up talking to Horonigai about his 'ideas for a poem' but she completely failed her check to influence him, and basically left it as "it's your decision."
  • The following day, everyone was in their finery and ready to head off to the shrine. The Magistrates elected to go along with the wedding party, and were reassured that there was a squad of Ashigaru with them as well.
    • Talking to Asako Maezawa, they confirmed that there had been no supernatural cause to the dead cranes in the shrine.
    • They were halfway to the Golden Valley shrine before it registered that the reason for the 'omen' was to force the wedding to be moved out of the castle.
    • They were just about to beg everyone to head back until they could go and inspect the shrine before  the wedding party went there when Maeda's ronin turned up and it all kicked off.
  • The PCs, to be fair, tried to talk both sides down. Seeing themselves in their 'Emerald Magistrate' roles, they felt they couldn't - or shouldn't - get involved in a dispute between clans unless an actual crime has been committed (if they'd connected Reika to Retsu's death that would probably have been different!).
    • They also felt they were responsible for protecting the other guests. This really angered them later when it dawned on them that aside from the crane and phoenix (i.e. one side in the dispute) the 'guests' were all either scorpions or people they suspected of being scorpions, and were probably responsible for creating the situation in the first place and then persuading the magistrates they had to stay out of it to 'protect them'!
    • When Nasu Shimazu and Itto drew on one another, Goriate actually tried to step between the two. He took a sword critical for his trouble, ended up with a cut to his back, bleeding and wounded (earth).
    • Horonigai tried once more to talk the parties down, but failed. Itto killed Shimazu. Itsuyo and Maeda squared off - and Itsuyo got a spear thrust past Maeda's guard...but killed Takashi, rather than the Lion, after he took the spear-point for her.
    • Maeda was dragged off by Itto and her men at this point. The surviving Tsume party withdrew to the castle, but Horonigai ran after Maeda. Goriate was a turn behind, stopping to grab a better weapon than the wakizashi he was carrying first.
  • Horonigai caught up with the ronin shortly after. Realising she was outnumbered three to one (Maeda herself didn't seem to be getting involved) she used Blessed Wind to put herself in obscuring terrain, which - thanks to the bonus 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 from her Omamori of Yamakaze, would last the entire scene.
    • It didn't help. Assisted by two bandits, Itto used Sieze the Moment for a bonus die and Killer Instinct for rerolls incapacitated her in one attack.
    • Goriate and Uiri caught up at this point. Uiri (since he was basically on 'autopilot' as the player wasn't there) drew off one bandit. Goriate rushed in at Itto to save Horonigai, and let fly with an impressive swing with his scavenged katana.....
    • ....And Itto used School of the Wolf.
    • With Horonigai already incapacitated, the blow connected with her face, and resulted in a double-handed critical strike from a katana, leaving Horonigai bleeding, unconscious and severely wounded (air).
    • Goriate couldn't really process what he'd done (and neither could the player!) whilst Itto in turn hammered him with a punishing sequence of attacks. Combined with the fatigue he was picking up for bleeding himself, he was close to incapacitation, too.
    • The fight continued for a few more turns, but the result was never really in doubt. All three were rendered unconscious, Goriate by a second wound, this time in the arm, giving him lightly wounded (fire) as well.
  • By the time they regained consciousness, Itto's men had fled.  Maeda, having lost her last chance to recover her home, and her true love, in one spear-thrust, had taken her own life. Itto had remained to act as her second. He asked that she be buried at Kyotei, which the magistrates agreed to insist on, then left - with the characters in no fit state to stop him - now a true, completely masterless ronin.
  • Kakita Riku and Ryu found them and helped the wounded samurai back to the castle.
  • The newly adopted Tsume no Doji Itsuyo was named Daimyo of Kyotei by Doji Kunuzobu, acting on his wife's behalf.
  • "You know how we wanted to get out of the Capital?" "Yes." "Can we go back to the Capital, now, please?" - Horonigai.

 

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Very interesting.  I love how they took notice of "Toturi's personal vassal" and immediately went about narrowing down the list of possibilities.  Kotonoha's plea for help(mercy kill) is priceless.  Horonigai's near panic attack is also quite amusing.  And the "Oh $hit!" moment is epic!  Perfectly executed.  Glad to hear that the group tried to approach the "cooler heads must prevail".  Shame the dice did not favor them and disaster resulted, but that is the fickle nature of the Kami of Fate isn't it? "Can we go home now?"-Great way to wrap up the adventure.

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1 hour ago, neilcell said:

Glad to hear that the group tried to approach the "cooler heads must prevail".  Shame the dice did not favor them and disaster resulted, but that is the fickle nature of the Kami of Fate isn't it?

Horonigai's player is a touch disappointed with herself and convinced she let people down somehow. I've reassured her that whilst it might not have been a bloodbath to the extent it was, it's basically impossible to resolve matters without someone getting killed; at best you might persuade Itsuyo and Maeda to fight a duel rather than an open skirmish, but resolving matters with no bloodshed at all is highly, highly unlikely.

Amusingly the players are almost looking forward to the possibility of being sent to the Kaiu Wall for Mask of the Oni.

Also, at some point soon I really ought to introduce a scorpion clan samurai as something other than an adversary. I might try updating Honour's Veil to 5th edition, unless anyone else has any good suggestions?

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Indeed.  The best I could read into it was that either Nasu no Shiba Shizuma or Damasu no Akoda Maeda would have to die to have any lasting peace as neither could abide the other living past the next Winter Court (Settle this with honor on Page 27).  And my own view is that Shizuma was the least honorable as his ego blinded him to betray both his clan and his faith in order to justify himself and his actions.  Me thinks the Kami of the Damned will judge him harshly as he was with those in his charge and whom he helped butcher.

Not that it is my business, but I completely agree with you encouraging a scorpion join them.  Either Bayushi Kyo from the starter set or Bayushi Hibiki from the Kyotei scenario could easily drop in medias res.  Both of them should be mysterious enough to entertain the other players for quite some time(**** scorpion sneak!).  Very much play up Winston Chruchill's quote about Russia, but apply it to your scorpion character: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. IT IS A RIDDLE WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY INSIDE AN ENIGMA; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest. It cannot be in accordance with the interest of the safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea, or that it should overrun the Balkan States and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of south eastern Europe,  That would be contrary to the historic life-interests of Russia."  Russia being substituted with Scorpion clan in that quote.

PS: Though Ninja/Shinobi fighting Nazis WOULD be quite entertaining.

PPS:   I will try to limit my commentary on your thread.  It is so entertaining to read, a credit to your storytelling skills.  If I was in your area, I would so offer to join as said scorpion, but alas I cannot.

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I was more thinking as a temporary NPC; we have a fourth player who may or may not turn up at some point. But I mean I'd like to create a scenario featuring the scorpion's more positive role - as the "we are on the side of the empire and will do whatever needs to be done" clan as opposed to "lets be nefarious and scheme against absolutely everyone for teh lulz" clan.

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So - we played the first session of Honour's Veil - an interesting scenario from an older edition (ironically enough coming from the same book as Murder at Kyotei Castle, essentially a prequel to the new edition Scenario, Wedding at Kyotei Castle).

  • The PCs are on their way back to the capital with Ryu in tow. Kakita Riku has remained at Kyotei to help settle things down and help Tsume no Doji Itsuyo settle into her new home/role/clan - she will then head east to the coast and catch a ship south, so may or may not meet them back at Otosan Uchi.
  • The PCs - since they're now just a party of Emerald Magistrates and theoretically 'clan neutral' - took the opportunity to 'cut the corner' by going across Lion Clan lands rather than east then south within Crane lands.
  • They heard en route about the destruction of Shirei Mura and the slaughter of the defenders and villagers by Lion Clan Ronin, and the rumour that Matsu Tsuko had in turn killed the ronin leader responsible. They've not met Matsu Tsuko yet, but she's getting a reputation in their minds...
  • The day before they reached the border, near the Matsu outpost of Suboten Castle, they were camping for the night when Horonigai, on watch, was confronted with the ghost of Doji Satsume (or "Ghost Dad" as Goriate's player has started referring to him....).
    • This was somewhat frustrating, and (out of character) the phrase "He's dead! We were at his funeral! Leave us alone!" may have been muttered.
    • The actual in-character interaction was more courteous but the subtext was nevertheless unmistakably "what now!?!?!"
    • Doji Satsume calmly finished his tea and said that he did not require anything of them, they were exactly where they needed to be.
    • He faded away and a few seconds later there was a crashing in some nearby bushes. The three samurai were on their feet and drawing weapons when a bruised, battered and bedraggled crane samurai staggered out of them, asking for aid and water.
    • It took them a moment to help him back to his feet and give him something to drink. It was a few seconds later that they realised Ryu (who had, after all, been one of Doji Satsume's confidential servants) hadn't stopped genuflecting yet.
    • With a growing suspicion, they asked who the samurai was. It was, inevitably, Doji Kunawan, Satsume's son, and the former commander of Shirei Mura's garrison, who'd been taken hostage but had 'escaped from the ronin' and was trying to slip back over the border into the Kakita territory of Kotanu Plains.
  • The PCs realised they were being asked to help, and - whilst it felt like intervening in the 'border dispute', decided that it was the right thing to do. Kunawan hadn't been a lion clan prisoner, after all, but a prisoner of ronin who - from the sounds of it - were little better than bandits.
    • They decided to sneak Kunawan over the border by disguising him as a second attendant. Uiri and Goriate would come over all magisterial and imposing (fire command checks) to occupy the guards at the border (which fortunately wasn't heavily guarded as the local Daimyo, Matsu Ino, was supposed to have a friendly relationship with the local Crane Daimyo) whilst Horonigai would chivvy the 'two attendants' and the cart over the border.
    • This represented a gain of honour for compassion but a loss of one for sincerity - meaning Uiri got no increase due to his Dragon heritage, though the others netted a point of honour each.
    • Trying to persuade the heir to the crane clan to pretend to be a grubby, low-born peasant took some doing, as you might imagine. It would be unfair to say the took excessive glee in working out some of their frustration with the Doji's ruling family by doing so, but there were certainly occasional grins during the whole affair.
  • Getting over the border went well enough. The PCs were received with appropriate state by Kakita Hojin, the crane Daimyo, who thanked them - and provided the services of a healer who helped the wounded PCs recover from the injuries sustained near Kyotei Castle.
    • He then asked them to act as appropriately neutral messengers; one of his samurai, Kakita Hachi, had been a diplomatic representative to Matsu Ino's court. Apparently it was an open secret he had fallen in love with another of Ino's courtiers and the two had disappeared. Despite rumours, Hojin wanted to reassure his lion clan counterpart that he believed Ino's report that no ill had been done to the Crane samurai and that the border dispute further north 'would not be allowed to sour honourable and peaceful relations'.
    • Whilst they were there, Hojin advised them, 'it would be appreciated if they could perform their own investigation and satisfy themselves that Hachi-san and Kujiko-san had run away together'. He made it very clear that he was not looking for a reason to start a war, and finding one would not be a welcome discovery.
  • Doji Kunawan headed off to meet his sister, whilst Ryu set off for the capital.
  • The PCs went back over the border (confusing the guards even more) and proceeded to Suboten castle, where they were received by Katsu, the Yoriki, then swiftly by Matsu Ino himself.
  • They were present at a formal dinner, and as part of it were regaled with the story of the battle of Kotanu plains, and Matsu Ino's duel against Kakita Hojin that saved the defeated Lion army.
    • There was a degree of "awkward...." when it became clear they were being given a rendition of a story of war against the Crane Clan, given where they'd just come from....
  • Ino essentially delegated the job of aiding the 'investigation' to Katsu, making it clear that he expected it to be a formality.
    • Hachi's room seemed fine - there wasn't a great deal there. The presence of his armour did make them suspicious of the 'run away' story. They also discretely pocketed the letters they found between the two lovers.
    • Katsu gave them the heads-up on Hachi and Kujiko's story. They hadn't registered her clan until this point and their NEVER TRUST THE SCORPION CLAN EVER radar went off in spades.
    • After a few careful checks, they found the hidden bottles in Kujiko's room. Horonigai failed the medicine check to identify them, but as she put it 'I'm pretty sure they're not tonics for health and there's no way I'm trying one to check'.
    • Performing a Commune with the Spirits check, Horonigai pointed at the bed. Lifting it, Goritate found an enormous scorch-mark which almost certainly had no natural origin. They questioned the chamber-servants, who told them (with a bit of encouragement) that 'yes, they'd reported it to the guards, but been told not to say or do anything about it and please don't tell anyone we told you that'.
  • They were invited to dinner with Katsu at Sakkuan (the headman's) house. En route, Katsu begged off, saying he'd meet them there, but he'd been told another guest was arriving that he needed to greet.
    • This turned out to be a trio of scorpions, one of them wearing no mask. They were on the other side of the village, so they couldn't here what was said, but the Scorpions went onward to the castle whilst Katsu came and met them at Sakkuan's house.
    • they agreed to help Katsu with the rumoured haunting. Goriate (who has a phobia of the supernatural) may have lost it a bit on hearing about more ghosts, but Horonigai used commune with the spirits to prove to her and Goriate's satisfaction that whatever had happened, there was no supernatural element to it.
    • The PCs agreed to help calm the peasants by performing a 'purification ritual'. Since this didn't actually have to work, but just needed to look impressive, Goriate (with a low theology but high fire ring and Large Stature) took the lead with Horonigai's assistance, rather than the other way around. Given the number of fire 1211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 he racked up, it certainly sounded impressive, even if most of the 'warding prayers' were actually Crab Clan blessings said over shochu barrels before they were laid down to ferment.
    • The dinner was pleasant, and featured heroic amounts of Sakkuan's prize sake as a 'thank you' to Goriate.
    • With the dinner finished, they thanked sakkuan, and made to leave. The shoji door slid back......
    • ....To reveal the impassive face of Bayushi Yojiro stood outside.
    • "I believe you have something of interest to me." He said.

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Second session of Honour's Veil, finishing off the adventure.

  • So....after spontaneously soiling themselves at a scorpion clan magistrate just turning up at the door, they offered to discuss what they had found so far with Bayushi Yojiro.
    • His immediate response was to tell Sakkuan to "leave, now.", and the village Headman left his house by the back door and made himself scarce very quickly. Horonigai's player freely admitted that she wished she could think of a credible reason to join him!
    • He told them that he had been made governor of Toshi Ranbo as part of the Emperor's 'solution' to the problems of the border dispute, and - whilst en route - had diverted to meet his cousin, Shosuro Kujiko. Who has apparently 'disappeared'.
    • Taking one look at the 'goodbye' letter, he pronounced it a forgery, as it contained none of the ways he and his cousin would have exchanged covert messages in a letter, and - if she really had wanted to run away and disappear - he would be one of the people whose help she would have requested to do so.
  • The PCs decided to continue searching the following day after a good night's sleep.
    • Goriate's PC didn't exactly sleep well as he said he kept expecting to find scorpion clan shinobi lurking in the room whenever he woke.
  • The following morning, each of them suggested their respective course of action.
    • Horonigai decided (in better daylight) to discuss with the villagers where the 'ghost' was seen and try to figure out its route when it was sighted (under a pretext of 'making sure it couldn't come back' after Goriate's 'banishment ceremony')
    • Goriate decided to investigate the bloodstains in Hachi's room and outside - seeing if he could retrace the steps of whoever was wounded.
    • Uiri decided to talk to Katsu, to try and keep the Lion Yoriki up to date and on their side.
    • "So...confronted by what you think is a fake ghost, your plan is to 'split up and search for clues'?"  I asked.
    • Given the number of Scooby-Doo puns this provoked over the rest of the evening, I freely admit I regret doing so.
  • The three of them followed their respective courses of action, and all ended up in the same spot - prompting a chorus of "wait, what are 'you' doing here?" between each party, as they all met up at the mouth of the path south through the forest to the abandoned shrine to Benten by the river.
    • Proceeding down there, they found a lot of empty sake bottles and a huge, grubby sack.
    • Bracing themselves for the worst, Horonigai went to open the sack, when it screamed, split in two, and tried to run off. The 'sack' turned out to be two hungover and terrified hinin gravediggers who'd been drinking to blot out the terror that the 'ghost' was coming for them.
      • Because - after a fair amount of intimidation checks, including Mirimoto Uiri drawing his katana and asking Goriate:
        • "Does that look sharp to you?"
        • "I'm not sure..might just be the light..."
        • "I know...I should probably check it..."
        • "You should. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to sharpen it for you last night."
      • ....they had been the one trying to bury 'the girl'. Who had come back to life. At which point they had run away.
      • This prompted a degree of shock from the PCs - not least because they had assumed Hachi was the dead body. The fact that the samurai matched Hachi's description was, as a result, no surprise.
      • They had them lead them to the cave in the foothills where the hinin had been burying 'the girl'. Inspecting the grave, they found a bloodied shovel, enough small fragments torn from a kimono to prove to their satisfaction the girl being buried was Kujiko
      • They also found a small package sealed in wax with a scorpion clan seal.
        • There was some debate whether they should open it, go to see Bayushi Yojiro and open it in his presence, or just hand it to him unopened.
        • Horonigai bypassed the debate by opening it then and there.
          • It turned out to contain a historical tactical plan for the battle of Kotanu plains.
          • One which, on closer inspection, didn't line up with the plan the Lion clan invasion force actually followed....
          • ...And which was a distinctly better plan.
      • At this point, the PCs went back to the shrine - realising that if the body had 'come back to life' here, the shrine was the end of the route, not the start. Uiri insisted on searching the river, and swiftly found Kujiko's corpse in the river, weighted down with Hachi's armour and daisho. The two gravediggers hauled it out, and Horonigai performed a purification ritual.
      • They decided they needed to tell Bayushi Yojiro and Matsu Ino - Katsu went to tell his lord about the body, whilst Uiri went to tell Yojiro they'd 'found' his cousin and what had happened. Goriate and Horonigai stayed to glare menacingly at the grave-diggers, leaving them in no doubt that they were going to be painfully put to death given the bloodied shovel they'd found in the cave.
        • Ino sent Katsu back with orders to 'sort it', whilst Uiri and Yojiro turned up at the same time.
        • They took a while to mourn the scorpion shujenga, before entrusting her (again) to the care of the grave-diggers, this time to have a 'proper' grave at the shrine to benten.
        • Uiri and Katsu took the gravediggers into custody.
      • They still didn't know where Hachi had gone. Eventually, though, they realised the only place nearby he might have gone - given they suspected Kujiko had given him serious burns and he couldn't exactly 'hide' anywhere for long in Ino's lands - was a nearby shinseist monastery which had been mentioned previously as somewhere over which Ino technically had no authority.
        • Horonigai and Goriate traipsed up there, the crab coming over all imposing and magisterial.
        • He demanded access.
        • Dogan, the elderly head monk, declined.
        • Goriate insisted.
        • Dogan, declined again.
        • Horonigai, who could see the inevitable coming, noted she was stepping back slightly.
        • Goriate insisted again, more forcefully, accepting he would take an honour hit for Courtesy by pushing his way past, but sure that the monk was sheltering a murderer.
      • At this point, any Terry Pratchet readers may note that Hida Goriate was ignoring Rule One*.
        • The result was......the first time the PCs have encountered the 'Kiho' technique category. Let's just leave it at that.
      • Fortunately, Uiri and Katsu arrived at this point. Katsu knew and was respected by Dogan, and Mirumoto Uiri has the 'Friend of the Brotherhood' advantage.
      • Between them, they were able to calm the situation down.
      • They got in to see the 'dying monk', who - as they expected - turned out to be Hachi, dying of burns inflicted by Kujiko's magic as he killed her.
        • He was relatively easily convinced to confess, though they realised they'd have no proof.
        • He told them he was ordered to kill her by his lord, Kakita Hojin, after reporting she'd found the old battle map.
        • He'd tried to 'poison' her with some of her drugs, but apparently just paralysed her - leading to his belief she was dead, handing her over to the gravediggers, and the 'ghost'.
        • She'd confronted him and he'd killed her, but not before she'd hit him with another invocation, this one burning him (eventually) fatally.
        • He had no idea why Hojin wanted her dead, but Hojin was his lord and he had no choice.
      • Horonigai took pity on him, and tried to commune with the spirits - to allow him to confess to Kujiko's spirit, too. She passed the check, and sensed something - Whether the scorpion truly witnessed Hachi's confession and apology or not, and forgave him or not, was impossible to tell, but it seemed to ease Hachi's soul and made his passing easier.
    • Now with almost the full story, they had to figure out what to do.
      • They decided to stick with the 'they ran away together' story for official purposes, since that was what everyone wanted them to find.
      • Privately, they told Matsu Ino about the discovery of Kujiko's body and where she was buried, but decided not to tell that Hachi was ever found.
      • They realised that if the Lion changed their plans from a good one to a bad one, and the crane knew the bad plan they were following, that smacked of collusion.
      • After a bit of debate, they realised that  - since the peace treaty restored the border before the war, the only person who gained anything from the whole affair was Matsu Ino - who'd replaced his brother as Daimyo after his brother was killed in the battle. Then stopped the war 'with diplomacy'. And maintained a good working relationship with his Kakita neighbour.
      • "So....we're not taking this case to Matsu Ino?"
      • "No."
      • They took it to Bayushi Yojiro. Who listened, politely and quietly, to a story they couldn't prove, thanked them for their efforts, and left for Toshi Ranbo.
    • They in turn returned to the capital, to meet Ryu back at the mansion. Much Gyoza and Sake later, he noted that they had received a letter.
      • It was unsigned and unsealed, and noted that Ikoma Katsu had been made daimyo of Suboten Castle after the previous lord had very sadly passed away after 'an unfortunate accident'.
      • It also noted that Kakita Hojin, daimyo of the neighbouring Crane province had died as well in an 'even more unfortunate and obviously totally unconnected accident'.
    • "Ryu-san?"
    • "Yes, Magistrate-sama?"
    • "More sake."
    • "Yes, Magistrate-sama."
    • "The very strong stuff."
    • Yes, Magistrate-sama."
    • "And Ryu-san?"
    • "Yes, Magistrate-sama"?
    • "Please burn that letter."
    • "Yes, Magistrate-sama"

 

 

 

 

*  "Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men!"

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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The players have returned to Otosan Uchi, and - on seeing the Ruby Champion - found themselves meeting Kitsu Tsubasa again.

  • They were pleased to meet a friendly face from Tsuma, albeit slightly intimidated when they found out how senior in the family the title he's become heir to is. Nevertheless, they didn't expect to meet him in 'their' place of work - right up until Agasha Sumiko asked him to relay the story of the death of one cousin and the disappearance of the other. The moment they heard the name "Kitsu Sokorii" and the fact that she was supposedly heading for Slow Tide Harbour, hackles went up massively.
  • More importantly, Kitsu Tsubasa was able to tell them that Sokorii was headed ultimately to the Islands of Spice and Silk, and had retained two ships - the Obedient Slave and the Wave Dancer to carry her, servants and cargo, to Mantis Clan lands. The Obedient Slave - Azif's ship - was impounded by the Katsuga and wasn't going anywhere with anyone, but that gave the PCs the name of the ship she was leaving the harbour to meet, and its destination.
  • They agreed they should follow; Sokorii was a dangerous Maho-Tsukai and it would be remiss to just 'let her' escape. Obviously weeks had passed, though, so they would be following a comparatively cold trail. They agreed they needed to follow and investigate discretely.
    • It was agreed that 'officially' the magistrates were going to visit an old friend - specifically Hitoshi, who also competed at the Topaz Championship at Tsuma.
  • Each went to try and source something useful.
    • Mirumoto Uiri prevailed on Agasha Sumiko to prepare them a letter of introduction to the Mantis Clan, if needed.
      • With a faintly ridiculous chain of 1521230551_ExplosiveSuccessSmall.png.2cc, he ended up with two - a letter of introduction to Yoritomo himself, if needed
      • On a more practical 'working level' he also arranged a letter of recommendation to a clan magistrate named Taito no Gotei whom one of Sumiko's magistrates knew well.
    • Hida Goriate took it upon himself to try and find transport. He contacted the Crab guest house in the city, hoping to arrange a meeting with a senior member of the Yasuki family to arrange discrete transport. He was told to meet the representative at an izakaya in the outer city and was munching appreciatively on a chicken skewer when they arrived. It took him a moment to place the person now sitting opposite him as Yasuki Taka himself.
      • The response was essentially as close as he could manage to a diplomatic "what the heck are you doing here?"
      • "Well, I was informed that an Imperial Magistrate needed to meet with a member of the family discretely, and that said family member needed to be one with the authority to redirect a trading ship. Since I am in the capital unofficially, it seemed an appropriate use of my time. Now, since you definitely don't want to talk to the Yasuki, and I'm not here, what do you suggest we pointedly avoid talking about?"
      • The eventual agreement was that a Yasuki trading ship would carry the magistrates as far as Friendly Traveller Village, where - assuming the journey times worked out - they could intercept a Mantis vessel called the Tsuro which could carry them to Gotei Port.
    • Isawa no Kaito Horonigai decided she wanted to research what Sokorii might be capable of throwing at them. She contacted the Phoenix - putting out some feelers to Asako and Isawa scholars and inquisitors who happened to be in the capital, wanting advice on the risks of facing a Maho-Tsukai, their powers and weaknesses, that sort of thing. She also did a bit of research on the Kitsu in general and on Sokorii in particular.
      • The basic research on Maho concerned her but didn't really provide much useful information beyond "it's powerful, dangerous and generally uses someone's (preferably someone else's) blood", which she'd kind of got from context. She had no interest in learning how to use it, but learning that it was closely enough linked to the shadowlands taint that the same sort of precautions are generally effective (i.e. jade, protective blessings and prayers, etc) was reassuring.
      • Finding out Kitsu Sokorii had been twice passed over as her father's heir left her sort of sympathetic, aside from the 'now a murderous witch' part. She found out that Sokorii had been an incredibly gifted shujenga who had gone off the rails after being refused the position of heir. The discussion of 'started researching ancient and forbidden secrets' and the mysterious death of her brother that was totally due to natural if unpleasant disease was treated with a sort of 'yea, yeah, cliche' dismissiveness right up until the point where she found a rumour about her organising an unofficial expedition and returning with an ancient scroll-case, which, on further investigation, happened shortly before her brother became ill.
        • At this point the words 'maho', 'ancient scroll', and 'wasting disease' connected together in the player's brains.
        • This resulted in some interesting facial expressions.
        • I think they're taking Sokorii a LOT more seriously all of a sudden. Can't imagine why...
Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Had a quick session of the game last night - Goriate's player was absent so he was following around but didn't 'do anything'*

  • Realising they wanted to be discrete, Uiri's player acquired a set of sailor's garb for everyone. They didn't plan on going 'undercover' per se, but wanted an option of clothing that wouldn't scream 'emerald magistrates' - since they had a sneaking suspicion doing so would cause everyone else to scream 'it's the emerald magistrates, hide the loot!' and they'd be too busy dealing with local problems to search for Sokorii's trail.
  • Horonigai by comparison went out and got fingers of jade for everyone. And a 'spare' for her on top. Her wiccaphobia is developing nicely.
  • Ryu was sent out to procure a set of half-a-dozen flesh-ripper arrows on the shrine maiden's behalf. Horonigai's daikyu is already pretty lethal so I can't wait to see someone get hit with one of these.
  • They all headed down to the docks to meet the Koi, the Yasuki trading ship. Waiting on the docks was Kakita Riku.
    • It turned out that she'd arrived back in the capital the previous day, and - finding that the PCs were about to head out again and why, decided she was joining them.
    • They tried to persuade her otherwise, but she was - whilst polite - very firm on the matter.
      • They said that they were travelling discretely, rather than as magistrates, and she responded that she wasn't a magistrate in the first place.
      • She had often publically expressed a desire to see more of the empire and Kyuden Mantis and Gotei Port - as the empire's third largest city and one of its furthest outposts - was an obvious destination for a curious young noblewoman on a 'grand tour'.
      • They suggested that they had made no travel arrangements for a fourth person and she responded that she'd paid for passage out of her own pocket, on - by complete coincidence, of course - the Koi and Tsuro.
      • They suggested it would be dangerous, and got the benefit of a 'schoolteacher glare'; yes, she had understood that. Samurai virtues of courage in the abstract aside, the Maho-Tsukai they were hunting was the same one who'd kidnapped her cousin, Doji Hiroshige, and had planned to slaughter him like an animal in some sort of foul blood magic ritual.
      • "We can debate this for as long as you feel you need to to satisfy your sense of duty," she said, "but I'm still going."
    • At this point they actually took a look at Riku and realised that 'discrete' was really going to go out of the window. This being Rokugan, she wasn't actually wearing a linen outfit and pith helmet, but the players got the distinct impression that that would have been the case in a different setting and time.
      • Two hired hands were loading a stack of travelling chests larger than the three magistrates travel packs combined onto the Koi (and it's worth pointing out that the magistrate's baggage included a greatbow and two suits of armour....)
      • Uiri half-heartedly showed the sets of sailor's garb the PCs had acquired to blend in. The response was "Isn't that a bit inappropriate for samurai? No matter, I'm sure I can improvise something"
    • The Koi took about a week of good sailing to reach Friendly Traveller village. As it happens, with strong southerly winds, they beat the Tsuro into harbour by a day.
      • There turned out to be a festival on in the village...either celebrating sake, or sake brewing, or laying down the next season's sake to ferment, or...Uiri was hazy on the details, but sake was heavily involved, both in the motivation for the festival and the celebration itself.
      • The magistrates took rooms at the First Wave inn by the quay, whilst Kakita Riku went to the (slightly) more salubrious Fortune's Mercy inn inland.
        • The First Wave was inevitably full of several drunken crab samurai celebrating the festival. This resulted in the magistrates ending up getting dragged into a singing competition, which (since she has a rank of performance) Horonigai actually did very well at.
        • During the competition, they became aware that one of the crab in the inn was getting very, very drunk, to the point that he was clearly having trouble focusing, and was telling his 'new best friends' rather more details than he probably should about his new posting on the northern border.
        • They decided to try and persuade him to go and sleep it off, which turned into a small intrigue against the innkeeper - who they realised was actually deliberately trying to get the young Gunso excessively drunk to find out details about his command.
        • Despite discovering that they were both Dazed and Exhausted (because, they later realised, their own drinks had been spiked; they both drank drinks proffered after they'd started trying to talk the Bushi into stopping drinking for the night) they managed to hold their own against the innkeeper- though Horonigai had to 'waste' a turn going out to clear her head (to get rid of Dazed and drop her scheme TN back to normal). Taking the view that inter-clan squabbles weren't really their balliwick as long as no-one was getting hurt, they persuaded the Bushi to retire to his room and then let the matter drop rather than exposing the innkeeper. They found themselves rewarded as an acknowledgement of a fair win by one of the inn's waiters bringing them a small bottle of expensive-looking sake with a Ryoko Owari Toshi brewer's label.
      • The following day - somewhat worse for wear, they met the arriving Tsuro and transferred their baggage onto the Mantis Clan ship.
        • Riku expressed a degree of concern for Hida Goriate's apparent 'illness', but the concern reduced somewhat on explanation of the drinking contests.
        • The magistrates were slightly bemused to find she had indeed 'dressed down' to be discrete. By exchanging resplendent ceremonial robes for resplendent travelling clothes. 
      • Later that day, the Tsuro set off into the gathering dusk for the Islands of Spice and Silk...

 

 

 

 

* "....And Mark! Don't forget Mark!" if anyone's watched The Gamers. (if not, go watch it on Youtube. NOW.)

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Pretentious Cranes always have to ruin everything with their extravagance, don't they?  Frickin' premadonnas strutting around and preening like **** peacocks.  That should be the clan's symbol rather than the more subdued bird.

 Can't wait to hear how Kaito-san's inner Artemis reveals itself when she unleashes that withering barrage of flesh ripping arrows.

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