Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.35, which was held on Sunday, 19 October 2014:
Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….
Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 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. 9
- “Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu” [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 9
- “Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu” [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 9
- “Ember Talon” [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 9
- “Soske’ Tiatoshe” [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 9
- “Saigo Kasugi” [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 9
- “Tokoro Gawa” [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion; CGn, Lvl. 9
“14 to 18 June 1227 B.C.E.:” One night, Lady Yun Aei-Yong managed to get a band of foraging Bakemono and disrespectful Oni to leave her camp alone. The envoy and her escorts reached the walled town of Hsia Ling, where Jung-Mo and Ember had a romantic evening.
In addition, Sonny attended to Lady Yun and her Draconian bodyguard Oh Kum Ja, and Toshi prepared a meal for his friends. Soske’s cousin brought him to more meddling relatives and entertained Saigo, while Tokoro went swimming and avoided gamblers and guards.
The next day, the adventuring party leaves Hsia Ling and climbs the winding trail toward Bazran Hai, capital of the Zedu kingdom. Hengeyokai Ember shifts into crane form and scouts ahead. Shan Sao Toshi and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo are eager to return to their homeland.
Jung-Mo rides in the bouncing carriage with Lady Yun and Oh Kum Ja, lest his true nature as a Nannuattan be exposed. Shengtese humans Sonny and Soske’ follow, with Hengeyokai Tokoro bringing up the rear.
The caravan leaves the Plains of Sathendo and the Therud Forest behind and makes its way into the Bamor Mountains. Tokoro spots the glint of sunlight reflecting from metal, and he signals Ember to investigate.
The winged Wu sees a detail of Korobokuru (eastern Dwarves) chiseling large stone blocks out of the mountainside, magically moving them, and assembling a fortification along the trail. Ember flies back to report to her companions.
Saigo decides to take the direct approach, and he is hailed by Hirata Ryuichi, a Korobokuru Bushi (Fighter). Ryuichi passes Saigo’s credentials to his commander, Fujimoto Masahiro, who allows the travelers to pass. He notes that they shouldn’t have to worry about any bandits as they approach Bazran Hai.
Hungry Sonny and Toshi notice Shengtese (East Asian) humans Sun Linwei and Huang Gangsheng preparing lunch for the camp. Shan Sao (eastern Halfling) Gorotsuki Eizo makes sure the Korobokuru soldiers have enough water and supplies.
Ember and Tokoro recognize feline Otani Maya as a fellow Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (shapeshifting scout). Soske’ sees Saito Matsu, a River Spiriti Folk Sohei (eastern Grey Elf Cleric) building a shrine as part of the fort.
The wanderers hike for a few days before coming to a arching stone bridge over a deep chasm. Samurai Saigo talks to guards at various checkpoints, and the diplomatic team enters the stone city of Bazran Hai.
Toshi and Saigo lead the way through familiar streets. The surface layer of the Zedu capital is dotted with green gardens and parks, Spirit Folk and Shan Sao neighborhoods, temples, and the great citadel.
The Wu Jen and Samurai explain that the next two levels beneath the mountain include districts for merchants and craftspeople, as well as Korobokuru residences. Below that are mines and an underground river.
Most of the group dons formal robes as they head directly to the massive castle, but Sonny and Tokoro remain in their traveling garb. Stout armored Korobokuru, lithe Spirit Folk archers, and quiet Shan Sao sentries watch the new arrivals pass through several courtyards.
Zhou Li, a Shengtese human Samurai whom they had met back in the border village of Hazokuwi, recognizes and greets the delegation. He takes particular interest in helping Ember dismount, causing jealous Jung-Mo to palm a poison dart.
The solicitous knight asks about extraplanar encounters and offers to help arrange for an audience, and Jung-Mo bumps into him. Ember winks at Jung-Mo to reassure him. Sonny looks for a buffet, and Tokoro and Soske’ hang back.
Two women enter the reception hall, and Toshi excitedly runs to his beloved Suki, a Bisan Wu (Dryad Druid). Saigo bows politely to Princess Nayoko, a Bamboo Spirit Folk aristocrat he fears is above his station.
The party is joined by Nayoko’s brother Prince Mutsuhito and Baron Xin Pronunc Hu, representative of the human realm of Tong Sheng. They are pleased that Lady Yun has arrived safely, despite numerous hazards on the way.
Tokoro and Jung-Mo notice a human Wu Jen openly casting some spell. The Ranger and Ninja notify Sonny and Ember. The sly Hengeyokai creates a diversion by flirting with Murakami Ryozo. Jung-Mo spills a drink on him, but the group is summoned before Zedu’s rulers before it can inquire further.
Saigo and Toshi get on their knees and bow, and the others follow suit. Rows of demihuman officials flank the approach to three thrones. Ryushi Manabu, the Bamboo Spirit Folk shogun, sits next to Hei Wan Ling, commander of the Korobokuru armies. Between and behind them sits Hou Keung, the Dwarf daimyo and supreme ruler of the Zedu kingdom.
Lady Yun says that she has successfully petitioned the humans of Tong Sheng for a cessation of hostilities on behalf of the Gokuri Empire. The Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) asks the daimyo for Zedu to formally join the truce and end the recent war.
Skeptical military officers grumble, and Saigo Kasugi recognizes his father, Gen. Hirokazu Saigo. Hou Keung raises his fan of office and says that he and the shogun will review Gokuri’s terms. He also invites Lady Yun to stay in the palace, releasing the team of its duty to guard her for the time being.
Relieved, the group is dismissed. Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Soske’ go to look for accommodations. Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro try to find the mysterious mage they had spotted before their audience. Saigo meets privately with his father.
Gen. Hirokazu says that Prince Mutsuhito’s parallel mission to Gisokuri, capital of cruel Gokuri, went surprisingly smoothly. Saigo promises to give a full report on his misadventures to shogun Ryushi Manabu.
He also says that he has heard that Shinso Saigo, his grandfather and the general’s father, is secretly held captive somewhere around the capital. Gen. Hirokazu says that the dishonor must be avenged and that his son must pursue a search and rescue mission discreetly, since they don’t yet know who their enemies are.
Jung-Mo, Toshi, and Soske’ visit various inns, including the “Dead Mule,” the “Soiled Goose,” and the “Divine Plum,” before finding one that meets their expectations. Toshi pays Gakusho Haya 300 tael (150 gold pieces) to rent the entire “Dragon’s Beard” tavern for a week to start with.
The Shan Sao proprietess says that she’ll need the rest of the day to clean out the rooms, and she offers Gigi Han, a young Korobokuru, as a guide and messenger. Toshi also asks that a feast be arranged to celebrate the end of their journey, bringing Lady Yun from the haunted borderlands to the intrigue-ridden Shengtese capital of Sogewa and then to Bazran Hai.
Meanwhile, Sonny, Ember, and Tokoro ask about the Wu Jen they had seen casting in the reception hall. Tokoro’s otter follows the trail from Jung-Mo’s spilled drink, and they find Murakami Ryozo in a scriptorium with bureaucrats copying scrolls of civil records, spells, and news from around the kingdom.
The young mage says that he scanned the party as part of his official duties in the palace. “Murray” invites Ember out for drinks, and the mischievous Druid decides to play him off of nosy Samurai Zhou Li.
The wanderers spend the rest of the day exploring Bazran Hai. Jung-Mo asks Toshi to create an enchanted stealth suit from Crimson Moth cocoons. The Wizard tells the Rogue that he’ll need additional time and money to craft a jewelry box with the illusory image of two metallic dragons flying above a mountain.
Sonny and Soske’ are content to stroll about the exotic citadel, even as they hope to avoid curious kin. Ember finds a subterranean market and buys silk. Saigo visits his mother and sends a note to Princess Nayoko asking to meet. Tokoro looks for mountain streams around the city.
That evening, the would-be heroes regroup at the Dragon’s Beard for Toshi’s latest feast. Saigo heads from his family’s townhouse to a romantic rendezvous, but he notices that he is being followed. The quick-thinking Samurai stops by the inn and borrows Jung-Mo’s robe of Alter Self.
Saigo slips back out into the night, and Jung-Mo checks to see if he is still being tailed. The others follow at a discreet distance, with Ember Wild Shaping into an owl and Toshi shifting to baza (small blackbird) form. Tokoro helps Sonny in the dark.
Jung-Mo sees someone moving in the shadows, even as Saigo evades pursuit. The Ninja thinks he recognizes the movements of Desc Soo-Ann, the Spirit Folk courier who had tracked the group from Sogewa to the village of Yao Shung, where he had tried to stir up trouble for the human peasants.
Jung-Mo silently follows the eastern Elf into an alley and hears voices greeting “Desan” in Bamoric, the language of Gokuri. The exile suddenly realizes that the assassins haven’t been tracking Saigo; they’re Nannuattan Ninjas from the Shadow’s Claw clan hunting him!
Jung-Mo tries to back away and signal his friends for reinforcements, wary of wyvern air cover….
Good luck to Dexter and company as you plan your next move! Geoff, we missed Soske’ this week. Don’t forget to update your characters to Level 9 on Obsidian Portal! Also, let Byron know any items you plan to sell, trade, or enchant while in Bazran Hai.
I look forward to seeing some of you at Rich’s “Tunnel Vision” modern supernatural miniseries tonight, and my “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” game will continue at Drew’s place next Monday. Be seeing you, -Gene