Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.19, which was held on Sunday, 25 May 2014:
Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….
Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures , plus house rules, Skype, and an online dice roller, as of spring 2014:
- “Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu” [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; LNg, Lvl. 5
- “Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu” [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 5
- “Ember Talon” [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 5
- “Saigo Kasugi” [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 5
- “Soske’ Tiatoshe” [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest of Shang-ti and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things; LNg, Lvl. 5
- “Moon Jung-mo” [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 5
“29 to 30 April 1227 B.C.E.:” In Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng, the diplomatic escorts learned more about threats to the realm. Jung-Mo, Sonny, and Ember accompanied Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong as she visited the heads of various human clans. Toshi and Saigo watched the guest quarters of Zu Ji, crown prince of the Shang empire.
Soske’ consulted more priests on the sources of recent chaos and Undead attacks. Jung-Mo and Ember shared their secret identities over dinner, Toshi fought a Nezumi Ninja disguised as a raven, and Saigo overheard suspicious talk among Zu Ji’s mercenaries.
Shengtese human Sonny leaves Lady Yun with Spirit Folk Jung-Mo and Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum-Ja. Shan Sao Toshi sends messengers to ask his companions to regroup at Silado Palace.
Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo is worried about a potential assassination plot involving the prince. Hengeyokai Ember receives Toshi’s message, but Shengtese human Soske’ is waylaid by his cousin Yao-Ren Hu and other relatives.
They ask Soske’ about his visits to various temples, where he has been asking about hauntings and disorder in the countryside. The Shukenja reassures his family members that he will get to the source of any problems and avoid dishonoring them.
Soske’ shares his visions of strife and bloodshed, and Saigo recommends that the travelers stick together. They visit Gen. Wang Tung, who once fought alongside Saigo’s grandfather Shinso, and find him beating a shinai against a tree trunk.
Samurai Saigo introduces his friends, but Wu Ember is distracted by a koi pond. Wu-Jen Toshi follows court protocol and bows. Soske’ talks about all the monsters they have encountered on the way to the city, and Gen. Wang acknowledges that this is more than what’s expected after a war’s end.
Kensai Sonny suggests that the unrest, as well as the pending truce with Gokuri, could undermine Emperor Zi Zhao’s “mandate of heaven.” Gen. Wang agrees to arrange a private audience with Duke Kou Fei Seng, ruler of the province.
Sometime later, the adventurers meet Gen. Wang at a side door. He gives them hooded robes to further hide their entry and leads them away from lavishly decorated halls to winding passages.
Weapon master Sonny leads the way, followed by Druid Ember and Cleric Soske’. Knight Saigo accompanies the aged general, and Wizard Toshi casts Light and brings up the rear.
Sonny steps on a loose ceramic tile, and the walls begin closing in, aggravating Ember’s claustrophobia. He jumps back. Gen. Wang tries to shove Saigo into the others and to flee down a side corridor.
Ember watches the narrowing hallway, and Soske’ casts Remorse on the general, who falls to his knees and apologizes to Saigo for trying to kill him. Surprised and angry, Saigo asks Gen. Wang how to disarm the device.
Toshi casts Wall of Ice to slow the squeeze. Sonny reaches for a lever that opens a trap door to escape. The party grabs the general and slices down the chute, finding itself in an empty laundry room beneath the palace.
Saigo disarms Gen. Wang before he can commit seppuku. The traitor mentions getting Shinso “out of the way” and a plot to exploit the growing chaos to advance military interests. The general says that he couldn’t allow Saigo and company to warn the duke. The demihumans are disturbed to learn that Saionji Yoshio, the Zedu ambassador, may be in on the scheme.
Toshi and Sonny tie up and gag Gen. Wang and stuff him into a closet, and the group agrees to find Kou Fei Seng immediately. Toshi casts Camouflage to scout ahead in the sprawling palace and summons a grumpy air elemental to lead the way back to the suface.
Saigo tells tired Kou Fei Seng about how Gen. Wang and others have conspired to keep him from learning about problems around Tong Sheng. Toshi describes the Ninja he fought and suspicious activities among the relatively small band of mercenaries who arrived with Prince Zu Ji.
Kou Fei Seng explains that the prince will be taking control over Sogewa, and by extension, the rest of the province. Sonny and Ember realize that Lady Yun’s peace overtures and the clan rivalries they have observed only complicate matters. The duke says he will question Gen. Wang himself.
An army is marching from the east to the provincial capital, says Kou Fei Seng, but he doesn’t know whether it’s Zu Ji’s proper escort, a barbarian horde, or some other force. Since he can’t trust his own soldiers, the duke asks the group to scout and report directly to him, even if he’s no longer in charge when they return.
Soske’ casts Sustain and Endurance so that the duke won’t need to eat or drink for the next two days, helping him to work through the night and avoid poison. The priest then casts Commune With Greater Spirit with help from Ember.
An avatar of Hotse Mar, god of war, appears. Soske’ asks if the approaching army is bringing a fight to Sogewa. The divine manifestation says, “No, but it intends to finish one.” The mortals ask who plans to begin the battle, and the avatar replies “one of divine blood.”
Saigo says that disorder is rising and asks whether Gen. Wang or his co-conspirators know its source. Hotse Mar replies in the negative. Neither does Lady Yun, although she and the others are likely trying to take advantage of it. The fierce lord of war fades from sight, leaving the duke shaken but determined.
Ember, Sonny, and Saigo tell Kou Fei Seng that they will scout out the approaching army for him, as long as Lady Yun is watched and protected. Toshi and Soske’ reluctantly accept their destiny to do great things. The wanderers slip out to their quarters to pack for their next mission….
We missed you, Dexter. Byron, let us know when and if you’ll be visiting the Boston area. Those of you who are local, remember that I’ll probably be running the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game next Monday.
Since our parties will be leveling up soon, remember to make sure that your character records are up to date on Obsidian Portal. I now have my hardcopy of TianXia: Blood, Silk, and Jade, so I’ll be allowing aspects and stunts from that Kickstarter project, but you should be familiar with FATE Core. Be seeing you, -Gene