Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.30, which was held on Sunday, 14 September 2014:
Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….
Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, and an online dice roller, as of autumn 2014:
- “Moon Jung-Mo” [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki; eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern; LNg, Lvl. 8
- “Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu” [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 8
- “Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu” [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 8
- “Ember Talon” [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 7
- “Soske’ Tiatoshe” [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 8
- “Saigo Kasugi” [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 8
- “Tokoro Gawa” [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 8
“27 to 29 May 1227 B.C.E.:” The team escorting Gokuri emissary Lady Yun Aei-Yong stopped in Yao Shung and encountered wary villagers. Jung-Mo’s wyvern egg hatched, and the Nannuattan Ninja was forced to reveal his true identity to his companions. The group also learned of missing children and a possible cell of the Scarlet Order in nearby woods.
Jung-Mo and Toshi work on an enchanted cage for the wyvern hatchling. Sonny tells Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja that the caravan is staying in the village for a few days to help find the children.
Ember suggests sending Jung-Mo and Toshi into the woods disguised as children. Soske’ suspects that a trap awaits them but is not worried. Saigo agrees to bypass the village elders and contact the families of the missing, while Tokoro follows Sonny’s suggestion and dons the guise of a local hunter.
The adventuring party decides to wait until nightfall for its initial scouting of the woods near Yao Shung. The entire group plans to enter the next day, with Nannuattan Jung-Mo and Shan Sao Toshi as bait.
In the meantime, crane Hengeyokai Ember helps attend to Jung-Mo’s wyvern. Toshi’s tiger Amaya guards Lady Yun, and Sonny reminds his companions of the value of discretion. The Shengtese (East Asian) human also asks his talking horse Yip to covertly watch Lady Yun.
Saigo talks to the distraught families of Zhan-Shi Shude, Jik Zeng Meizhu, and Dao Xu Tan. The Bamboo Spirit Folk reassures them that he will help find the children and bring them home.
Shengtese human Soske’ prays to quarrelsome ancestor spirits for guidance. Tokoro and his otter companion go to the “Red Reed” inn to find Hojo Etsuko, who serves the same river spirit he does. The carp Hengeyokai finds the River Spirit Folk recovering from a hangover.
However, when Tokoro asks Hojo for help with the missing children, she excuses herself and staggers to her room. Tokoro and Saigo follow but find that the drunkard has climbed out a window and run away!
As night falls, Sonny, Ember, Soske’, and Tokoro walk to Yao Shung’s outskirts. Ember Wild Shapes into deer form, so that the others can pretend to be pursuing hunters in case members of the Scarlet Order are watching. They enter a small but dense copse of trees.
Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Saigo stay back at the village. Ninja Jung-Mo keeps his wyvern separate from Lady Yun, and Wu Jen Toshi continues his arcane preparations.
Saigo writes a reply to Princess Nayoko in the Zedu kingdom. The Samurai searches for Desc Soo-Ann, or “Desan” for short, the River Spirit Folk courier who brought letters to the party. Saigo spots him behind the inn talking with Hojo Etsuko.
Meanwhile, the people in the woods notice that the trees have grown gnarled, and the air is still. Fruits resembling human heads hang from one tree, and Sonny is compelled to taste one, which addles his senses. Wu Ember notices what the Kensai is eating and doubles back.
Shukenja Soske’ prepares to cast Wall of Stone, but Hulinyuan Tokoro also falls prey to the strange fruit. Ember and Soske’ resist the plant’s sweet fragrance. The shapeshifting Druid casts Insect Plague, summoning termites to attack the tree.
Tokoro draws his wakizashi (short sword) and begins cutting down more fruit. Soske’ repeatedly casts Flame Strike, damaging the tree. Branches smack at Tokoro, and a toothy maw opens among the roots. It screams at Soske’ in vain, while Sonny draws his axe, which is enchanted against Giants.
Ember casts Warp Wood, but it doesn’t affect the monster, which she identifies as a Jinmenju. Ensorcelled Tokoro gathers up armloads of the head fruit and gorges himself on it. Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon and, after some haggling, obtains a magical bow that shoots flaming arrows.
The Jinmenju slams Soske’ and grabs Sonny, dragging the weapon master to its gaping mouth. Sonny wedges his axe in it and manages to crawl away. Ember Wild Shapes into an elephant, but Tokoro is too busy eating to notice the fight.
Back in Yao Shung, Saigo overhears Desan and Hojo talking about “being rid of them soon.” He interrupts the courier and the scout, and the River Spirit Folk both look at him with guilty expressions. They say they’ll meet him back at the inn in a little while.
Saigo quietly follows Hojo, knocks her out, and drags her to the carriage in the stables. He binds and gags the woman and then fetches Jung-Mo and Toshi to help with interrogation.
Elephantine Ember charges at the Jinmenju, but its branches deflect her tusks from its trunk. Tokoro continues devouring the fruit, becoming less perceptive as he does so. Soske’ fires flaming arrows and casts more Flame Strikes.
The evil tree bites Sonny and shouts at Ember. The weapon master slashes at the Jinmenju with his kama (sickle and chain). Soske’ notices that his teammates are injured, so the priest Channels Positive Energy. Sonny finishes off the burning tree, and Ember stomps on it to make sure it’s dead.
Sonny reclaims his axe, and Soske’ attends to dazed Tokoro. Ember records a carving on the charred tree trunk before the exhausted team heads back to the village.
To question Hojo, Jung-Mo uses his robe of Alter Self to appear as a Nannuattan, but as an eastern Dark Elf who doesn’t resemble his true form. Unfortunately, Jung-Mo’s comely appearance [“Bieber Drow”] doesn’t frighten the recalcitrant River Spirt Folk.
Toshi Polymorphs into a demon to scare answers out of Hojo, who admits to Saigo that she wants to drive the humans out of the northeastern Plains of Sathendo. She says that Desan offered her a deal on behalf of the empire of Gokuri.
That nefarious realm would take human refugees as slaves, and Hojo’s riverine masters would be able to reclaim the farmlands. Jung-Mo confirms, however, that Hojo knows nothing about Lady Yun. Toshi wonders if Gokuri and the Scarlet Order are connected.
Saigo points out that they need to track down Desan immediately to learn more about the scheme to drive the Shengtese peasants off their land. Bedraggled Sonny, Ember, Soske’, and Tokoro return and compare notes.
Tokoro surprises his fellow wanderers by agreeing with Hojo’s distaste for humans. He wants to free the River Spirit Folk, but Toshi doesn’t trust her. Saigo readies a hunting party, but Soske’ needs to rest before another foray into the forest.
Jung-Mo is reluctant to leave his wyvern unattended, while Ember says there’s no time to waste in rescuing the kidnapped children….
In the meantime, don’t forget to vote in the poll regarding Rich and Jason’s next games for the Boston-area groups! Later, -Gene