The Samurai Wedding adventure recap, part 1

So, ignore the Topaz Championship that I ran a while ago. I’ll throw up a proper outcome of that later (none of the PCs won, though they did all come pretty high up in the rankings).

After the Topaz Championship, the three Crab PCs were given honour guard duty – the niece of Hida Kisada was a bride-to-be, and having well-known young Crab in her household whilst her wedding was organised would look good to those outside the clan. And being the high profile affair it was bound to be, having three Crab samurai who placed higher in the Championship than its Crane clan hosts would no doubt snub them in just the right way too!

In the mid-Autumn, Hida Hino-kansai and her escorted headed north from Shiro Hida, making their way to Shiro Kaosuki no Higashi – Face of the East Castle.

As this is the commercial hub for the Crab’s dealings with outsiders, and part of the way towards the groom’s family lands among the Unicorn, it seemed the best place to hold the wedding.

On the way, near the edges of Shinomen Forest, the group were attacked in the middle of the night by a small band of goblins. The bride and the Kuni shugenja used their magic whilst the Hiruma and Hida bushi fought hand-to-claw with the interlopers. Without taking any losses to their ashigaru escort, they defeated the goblins, and summised they had either somehow passed through the Twilight Mountains and headed south, or else they were some of the goblins said to haunt the Shinomen itself.

Arriving at Face of the East, the bride was given a house and servants for her stay, courtesy of her cousin, Yasuki Dofu, who would be the officiate of her wedding ceremony.

Reporting to the local watch commander about the goblins, nearby patrols were stepped up, but with little to show for it.

Meeting the groom’s younger brother, the PCs were given a tour of the town. Otaku Zhao wore a fur-lined kimono, and a necklace of ancient coins. Arriving at a sake house, he bought the group a bottle of fine sake and a private room, and while a geisha played her samisen nearby, he recounted the tale of the groom’s swords, and how the wedding came to be.

During one of his adventures, the groom found himself in the Shadowlands, helping to fight against the returning scourge of the Kesu-no-Oni, named for the stolen face of Hida Kesu which it wore.

Having found the ancient Hida Kesu bound to a tree and being forced to spawn the oni from himself with each of its rebirths, Otaku Kiyomaru offered to be his second, and Hida Kesu saw the honour in killing the oni before it could harm another again. As his second, and lacking any other heir, Kiyomaru took up the ornate sword of Kesu, and after returning to the Great Bear Kisada, he foretold it would one day return to the Hida family, in the traditional method. Being unwed, it would be easy to engineer this outcome, and coming from a matriarchy like the Otaku, it would even be traditional for him to join a new family and become a Hida.

After the story, Otaku Zhao explained that his family would see the wedding as further blessed if it could uphold a tradition of the wandering Unicorn clan, even if the groom himself was to leave them. The group would have to seek out and find a few items for the bride to wear about her person during the ceremony: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. As the first members of the bridal party to arrive (her family had not yet travelled north, and Yasuki Dofu was away on business), the PCs were asked to help boost the luck of the marriage and track down the items themselves.

Escorting the group back to their household, Zhao gave a gift of a lucky cricket to the bride, which he gave to her before returning to his lodgings.

Part 2 up soon!


L5R 4E Topaz Championship session 2

For part one, see here.

We started the session a little late, owing to using the gang to move some boxes over to my new house before we began. Also, pizza.

It might be very apparent that I’ve made the tournament a lot bigger. The players all decided they wanted to play as Crab, so increasing the numbers in attendance for all the clans made more sense than having the group only watch one contestant perform.
I decided the larger tournament was in honour of the 35th anniversary of the Emperor’s ascendency to the Emerald Throne.

The three Crab began to explore the town of Tsuma, signing in to the tournament registry over at the Kakita Duelling Academy and investigating as much of the grounds as they were allowed. Then they headed for the sake house, drank a cup of shochu with the other Crab contestant, Hida Fujizaka. They rented themselves a private room for the evening, anticipating coming back to mark the evening’s festivities!

Following their shochu with a quick cup of tea at the House of the Laughing Carp teahouse and inn, commotion about town meant that the Imperial Barge was close to the town docks. Moving to the street, they witnessed the Imperial entourage disembark, and meet the various dignitaries in attendance.
The Emperor and his son, Bayushi Shoju and Kachiko, Hida Kisada, even Ichiro Akitomo of the Badger Clan and Yoritomo of the Mantis.
One old veteran samurai whispered an insult to the heir to the throne into the ear of the young Hida bushi, but Crab being Crab, all the young samurai agreed wholeheartedly that signs of weakness were to be held in contempt.
They noticed a few oddities among the crowd. A young make in the black and red armour of the Scorpion would later turn out to be Bayushi Sugai, a late entrant into the tournament. Also, following beside Hida Kisada’s niece was a Unicorn carrying three swords – one wakizashi and two katana. The ornamentation along the saya of one of the katana was clearly in Crab colours. Among a small party of Phoenix stood a female shugenja who was ALSO carrying a katana, ornamented in the Phoenix colours, but the two swords looked so similar they were clearly made by the same person.

On the way back to the sake house, the group ran in to Ichiin, a wandered who gathers information. He offered them knowledge on the other contestants, for a price, which they seemed happy to pay. They found out that the Crane were also fielding four contestants, with most of the others fielding two, or three in the case of the Lion clan. Gaining some idea of the various strengths of each contestant, they also found out that a Mantis had been entered into the tournament, as had a ronin named Toku.

The private room helped them later on, when a drinking contest with Hida Fujizaka got out of hand, the group all eventually passing out, some after almost embarassing themselves!
Waking up some time later, they hauled themselves back to Megumi’s house to sleep off the worst of their drinking. Hida Fujizaka came too, although he had a room at the Laughing Carp.
When they woke, the Hiruma found a note hidden in his obi. Presumably left by the private geisha at the sake house, it read simply ‘help’.

Bleary-eyed and as well-groomed as they could make themselves, the group headed to the Kakita Academy for the start of the tournament.

More next week!

More ideas clamouring for attention

So here’s a little overview of what’s currently bubbling in my head:

A game set in a world where the Roswell Incident was the site of Earth’s first extraterrestrial encounter, not a crash. Ship landed, aliens surveyed and encountered locals, contacted mothership and decided to stay. It is now the 70s or 80s (or now, not really decided). Something like District 13 meets Blaxploitation meets Alien Nation (with some Space Precinct thrown in for fun).

Roman Pathfinder, as mentioned in my last post, nominally called Republic. Still working out the kinks with different races and stuff.

A hard sci-fi game has popped up and is bubbling away, though I don’t know if anything worth talking about will come of it. It’s nothing special, just something I think would be fun.

A game centred around a Barony, or group of Baronies. Something like Game of Thrones, so I may just look at Song of Ice and Fire and hope. It’s mostly just a warcry of ‘For the Baronies!’ at present.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the old Cyberpunk game I played a lot of (but haven’t for about a year now). It was a hack together by a friend of the old World of Darkness system, as well as the Cyberpunk 2020 rules. He was calling it everything from Farpunk to just Punk, given his other groups had managed to get lost in space. I think really I want to resolve what was happening when we finished the session: I had been given a secret task, and then during play it became apparent I had to issue a ‘GO!’ order in front of other players. My mission: full-scale attack on a school for potentially psionic children. One of the group’s characters was also on the grounds at the time, and it became a race for the other players to stop the attack, whilst I tried to make sure they never made it.
Did I mention I was a crimelord and everyone else was a cop? Fun times.

Kingsmead update and a new system!

Well, since I haven’t managed to post anything here since January, and since ignoring those two short posts, since October, I suppose it’s only right I update here again.
Especially since I’ve run another bit of a playtest, this time with a new rules system that I’ve been working on. One which emphasises the roleplaying aspect over the fun with mechanics aspect. You know, sensible stuff. And originally for d12s, but I tested using d8s. Much fun was had by all. More on that in a moment.

First: Things that are gone.
Gnomes. Check.
Halflings. Check.
Warforged? Decided to keep them for now, calling them ‘Golem’. But I may change my mind as yet.
The Tieflings became Devilkin, but I may remove them entirely yet. For now, they’re an infrequent birth among wandering humans, similar to gypsies. I haven’t exactly worked out the reasons for them yet, although I may through in the equivalent of Aasimar being born among them too, as well as perhaps stranger things. Genasi things maybe? Again, they’re in danger of removal.

Second. Things that are changed:
Dragonborn/dragonkin are now simply Draken. They used to have an empire, they don’t any more.
Dwarves and Elves are slightly re-skinned as Stonekin and Wildfolk.
Shifters are also re-skinned as Weretouched, although much rarer, and infrequently born among humans in a certain tribal kingdom.
There’s a kind of Monkeyfolk wandering around. I’m not comfortable with them as player characters yet, but they’re going to run the gamut from the gorillas in Planet of the Apes (the Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch version) to Hanuman in the Ramayana.
The Darklings are currently something like Drow, but live in foggy swamps. I see them as something like Elves, but from another source.

The character archetype usually filled by a cleric or paladin in D&D is now taken up with the Godsworn. If you want to be even a little bit more of a warrior than a normal priest, you’re a Godsworn. They wander the land, espousing the teachings of their chosen god in all that they do.
The element wheel is a thing in my head now. A four-spoked wheel, with an element at each joint in the path. The central hub is taken by mind magic, so illusions and so forth. A mage may learn more elements, but must follow the path around the wheel – they can’t jump an element. Of course, they could start as a mind mage and have access to all the elements from the start. Mind magic is a lot more subtle for the most part, less forceful.
Mages from the Raethmoore Academy are taught at a young age to focus upon a single element. Fire Mages and Earth Mages abound. Mastering more elements is rare, but does happen.
Sea witches may be trained, or may have an inate talent. Their magic mixes water and air elements, but in specific ways, and certainly not upon land.
A class of semi-magical artisans and alchemists, the Tinkers are now added to the game. Inspired by Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, they are the magewrights and expert crafters, who know enough about magic to sense it and to invest the occasional item with some magical power.
I’ve introduced magic and holy items as being ‘soulwrought’, that is their makers have fashioned a part of themselves into the work. The maker invests part of their magic, or blessing, into the item itself. However, a completely mundane person could create a soulwrought item, such as a great work of art, or a particularly well made piece of equipment.

Third. Things I’m working on:
Goblins and Orcs need a better name. I’m tempted to fold Orcs in with my Giantkin: large, seven-feet tall behemoths that exist on the D&D spectrum somewhere between Goliaths, Half-Giants and Hill Giants. I like the idea of Goblins having horns. I may make them a cross between the traditional Goblins and Satyr, something like that.
Kobolds are a bit difficult. As they are now, they’re similar to Draken, but shorter, more wiry, and more wiley. I also don’t like the name at all. Closest ideas at the moment involve the Dray or Dreaks or something along those lines.

Four. Finally, on to a play report:
I pulled together four people, and we ended up with a crowfolk Tinker, a Fire Mage turned wandering minstrel, a sellsword and a lucky thief.
The group travelled to the village of Kingsmead for the early-Spring Planting festival, when the local farmers are blessed with a promising harvest at the end of the season, and one of the few times the village really gets wild and celebrates. There’s a market with travelling vendors, a ceremony, and a lot of merriment.
So far the group have noticed that there’s something magical about the village well, that the blacksmith is very good at his job and occasionally invests his wares with power, and that there are plenty of alleyways and rooftops to escape into.
Also, that a crow cannot drink easily from a standard tankard, that Clarice is a lovely name for a violin (but maybe she doesn’t need to be introduced to everyone ‘she’ meets), and that poor Tim never really recovered from his accident, poor little guy.
More soon, when they actually hit a plot item!

First experiences with Traveller

I know I said I’d recap Dresden. I promise this will happen. It’s just not happening today.

This week it was decided that I’d run something, rather than just play along. Great says I, I have many of these things which people call ideas. Here are some of them. And then the players picked them apart, and it all got a bit interesting. As I’m sure you’re all familiar with.
My ideas for the game were a few options:
1/ Run Traveller for a complete change of pace. This involved more rules prep, since I was then going to use the Secret of the Ancients campaign series (Players: DO NOT READ THESE BOOKS. You have been warned.) Character creation is plenty fiddly, and would take a while, especially since none of us have exerience with the system.
2/ Run Blood and Honor, the samurai Houses of the Blooded setting by John Wick. This was mostly rules prep, and then I was planning on coming up with some game ideas based on what people wanted to play. Character creation is not too fiddly, but might take a little while since none of us have experience of the system.
3/ Run Legend of the Five Rings. More samurai, less rules prep as I’ve run lots of it before. This was 4th edition, and my experience is mostly in 1st, so a bit of fiddle there. And the game I had planned to take from the example in the back of the book, since it’s so similar to the 1st edition example adventure.
4/ Run my homebrew system, and set it in my Kingsmead setting. No rules prep for me, only a refresher of setting prep. Just get things together and explainable for the players, and have an idea how to run magic well using the system. Seemed doable, and would favour story over rules challenges, hopefully.
The players chose option 1, which was followed by over two hours of character creation and rules learning. But the game itself, once it was under way, went extremely well. I really enjoy the simple mechanic, and it was useful to have the story sat beside me and ready to go with minimal prep.
The characters were an ageing but moderately famous scientist with little in the way of promotion in his long career, a thief who pulled off a famous escapade a few years ago, a civilian colonist and courier who accidentally crashed during an important mission years ago, a marine who got thrown out for mental health issues but somehow managed to be drafted into the army infantry, and finally an army infantryman who was scapegoated for a disastrous mission and somehow found himself in the navy instead.
This intrepid bunch set off for Regina, following the death of the scientist’s strange old Uncle Vlen, and found themselves investigating his murder instead. So far, encounters with a broken down hostel computer and a paranoid ex-detective have left the group with little clue to motive behind the murder, but it seems the local legal system have found their man. He clearly supplied some drugs, but did not it seems pull the trigger on the murder weapon. More investigation will have to take place, especially with contact from a mysterious university professor claiming to have information.
I’m planning to run the homebrew Kingsmead some time in the next few weeks also, because thinking about it has re-ignited the fire I had for the setting.
Dresden update soon, I promise!

Guest starring the Priest

The Priest made his first appearance in a long while to our weekly game, so here’s a brief overview of what happened.

The Mortal was in The Bar, along with the Tanninomancer, despite their history of not getting along. The Priest walked in, having felt an impending doom. He recognises the Mortal from many many months ago, and in some manner the Mortal decides to show off and pull out his pistol. He is quickly arrested.
The Priest then had a chat with the Tanninomancer, telling her that something terrible was about to happen. She was drunk, emotional, and is scared of the world. She maced him. She was quickly arrested.

The next day, The Bar was closed whilst the White Champion threw up an alarm ward, so that a slightly noisy ice machine would make a horrible noise when someone at least as powerful as a sorcerer crossed the threshold. This didn’t work out well when new boy in town David Wong arrived with a date.

The Apprentice kept up her search for the Necromancer’s book, in a handy translated and presumably pocket-guide edition. She enlisted the help of the Mortal and Lycanthrope, since they were both able to use the Internet easily. Then she went off in search of a new advisor, paying a visit to Bill’s Glade in the Nevernever. It was now occupied by a fleshy-looking house, presumably created from the police officer left there two years previously. She didn’t remember what happened in the Glade for very long, losing all her memories after saying ‘Hello’ to Bill the Babykiller.

The Tanninomancer and Mortal were freed, and both made an apology to the White Champion for doing wrong in his bar.
Meanwhile, David Wong had a lovely meal with his lady friend. In order to ascertain which of them set off the alarm, the White Champion took a quick glimpse using the Sight. The girl was a mortal, but Wong was anything but. It seemed he was some sort of green lizard creature, with wings. This did not bode well, especially since Wong noticed he was being Looked At.
Apologies were made, but the White Champion foolishly invited Wong back ‘any time’, effectively allowing him freedom within the threshold. Wong advised to certainly not use the Sight now he had this freedom, but entered into a business deal regarding oriental vegetables and spices for the restaurant/café/bar. Then he went off to eat the girl he came with. Wishing Wong ‘bon appetit’ sealed a change to the Champion. He was no decidedly Grey.

Advising that nobody look at Wong with the Sight, the Grey Champion began research on what kind of dragons ate people, with very little to show in way of result.

The Lycanthrope and Mortal were invited to dinner with the Mayor. Thus sealed their business dealings with him.

Wong came back the next day to chat with his new business partner, and to lament the various dealings with his cousins. He was not a dragon at all, but a Jade Court Vampire. At least his dinner the night before had been tasty. He also made note of the loud argument between the Tanninomancer and the Apprentice, since it would have given away far too many secrets if a Mortal had heard.

The Grey Champion began researching a ward against vampiric abilities, just to be safe.

Dresden Update

So what’s happening in the Dresden game?

The Lycanthrope is out of town, trying to track down someone named Sharkey. The Mayor has meanwhile made his presence, and corruption, known to the Mortal.

The Apprentice has repaired the stuffed rabbit that may or may not still contain the ghost of the old necromancer. She has also apologised to the White Champion. She stopped by the library to try and get her hands on some ancient Sumerian texts to try and further translate the necromancer’s old book.

The Tanninomancer had some trouble with permission slips during her day job as a teacher. She is planning to visit local universities with her students.

The bar saw a visit from some Russians, looking for the Lycanthrope, so the White Champion gave them some contact details, and the Mortal made sure to put them up in a fancy hotel so he could keep an eye on them.

The White Champion went to visit the Goblin Market for some spell ingredients, and ran into a man named David Wong. He is the CEO of a shipping company with new offices in town.

Everyone ended up back in the bar and drinking. The Tanninomancer still has some trouble with the Mortal, since two years before he had kidnapped her (and she sees the worst in all men apparently).

Quite a quiet session overall.