L5R : Jade Winds

Treacherous Terrain (Part 2)

Four Dragons

Lion

Using pregen characters and pregen adventure “Treacherous Terrain”, originally posted on LJ

The group:

Location: Village of the Reinstated Hero (Mura Sano Eiyu ni Suru)

Time: early Spring (Cherry Blossoms)

The Group leaves the Village of the Reinstated Hero in the company of Asako Ryoko. Her uncle Asako Kato thanks them again and entrusts the traveling passes to Kakita Hiro, who gravely takes responsibility for them. The papers grant them access to Pale Oak Castle by way of Oiku and Toi Koku. Asako Kato then departs westward towards the City of the Rich Frog.

The PCs head eastwards on the Ever Vigilant Road towards Oiku. During the journey Kakita Gamblerpants makes a point of gracefully entertaining her with conversations of no import or serious content which gradually causes her remote and reserved demeanor to relax a bit. He rolls a very high success on his chitchat skill.

The roads are well patrolled by Lion retainers and pass a number of minor villes. It is spring, and the north is chilly yet the constant order and harmony of well-regulated fields and hard working farmers makes the two day journey pass uneventfully. As the group passes through, farmers and merchants politely bow and offer them good wishes.

On the morning of the third day, having just left the small town of Rugashi, the PCs encounter a muscular, bare chested man dressed in a tattered green hakama. He is deeply tanned, tattooed and scarred as well, some scars are fresh. His tattoos wind and coil colorfully across his body. He is Hitomi Fuguki a somewhat crazy Kikagi Zumi initiate, and guess what? He is going their way! Yay?

The Kikage Zumi are the Tattooed Monks of the Hitomi family. The order of Hitomi were founded when Hitomi became the Dragon Clan Champion after the death of Togashi in 1128. She would tattoo men and women in the same way that Togashi had done previously. After her ascension to become Lady Moon the order continued to worship her. New tattoos would occur spontaneously, and were taken as a blessing from Lady Moon. Sometimes children of Hitomi monks who did not choose a life of celibacy will be born with such gifts.

Dohi suspiciously makes sure he does not get close to Ryoko, and Fuguki makes some comments about birds swimming in the rain (Cranes, Phoenixes? Four Dragons?) and a lone little Crab. The lone little Crab, a hulking and somewhat brash bushi glares a bit at him. Fuguki acts bizarrely and unpredictably, right up to the edge of poor behavior as the group continues to Oiku, a fortress town of 1000. The local Daimyo, Asako Yasoji resides in a large house in the town while outside of the town is a fortified military barracks which holds 5,000 Lion samurai. Oiku is one of the strongpoints between the Imperial City and the rest of Rokugan. The town itself does not exactly teem with nightlife of the refined sort, as a result.

As the rain increases the group eventually finds The Blue Lantern, a modestly priced inn. As they arrive at the inn and are shaking off the rain and taking off their shoes (geta?) a handsome, slender Crane arrives there as well. He introduces himself politely to Kakita Gamblerpants and Asako Ryoko as Kakita Umasu. He says he is an artist in ikebana.

Ikebana is the art of flower arranging, and is a respected and beautiful form of expression. Flowers are to be arranged in forms that are as ancient as many other customs of Rokugan. Flowers are considered to be lucky, and arranging them correctly will bring good omens from the kami to the household. Scattering petals is said to ward off ill fortune and disease, and often given to the sick or old to bring them long life and health.

Umasu complains about the weather, the mud, the food and seems rather superficial while he takes Kakita Hiro to the cleaners in a game of Go. Kakita Gamblerpants cannot identify the other Crane because his dice rolling is worse than his Go skills. Usamu generally gives off the impression of a weak, obnoxious and superficial courtier who cares more about his hair and robes than anything else. Basically he is a fop.

The meal of rice balls and a small broiled fish each arrives, perhaps the tastier for being at Asako Kato’s expense. As the PCs dig in, Tonbo Uikya, the forlorn Dragon Shugenja suitor to Ryoko makes a bedraggled reappearance. He is soaked and after looking around the main room frantically, sees the group. He then tries to press a letter upon Ryoko who surprisingly gives him the back of her hand.

Fuguki watches the discussion with interest, while the two Cranes continue their game of Go, politely ignoring the distressed suitor. The Dragons have the grace to appear embarrassed and when Ukiya becomes somewhat irate, the PCs stand up. The Crab bushi seems particularly annoyed. Ukiya storms out.

In his wake, Asako Ryoko tries to explain that someone who could not keep his face is so unworthy a match even if his rank was high enough for her family. Kakita Gamblerpants’s Go game is reaching legendarily bad proportions and even the ronin Dohi starts helping him, or at least trying to. While he is doing this Dohi perceives a peasant merchant covertly eyeballing their group. Dohi then goes over and sits down next to him, causing the merchant no little bit of concern.

He explains that he is Toru, of the Daidoji family and a pot merchant, His patron is Daidoji Ekimanju (here everyone completely blows their knowledge attempts). Dohi glares at him, reaches into Toru’s bowl, takes his rice balls and hands them to him. Toru, abashed, leaves the inn directly. Kakita Gamblerpants completely loses his Go game (duh) to the other Crane, who never really seemed to be trying to win.

The next day the PCs travel northwards towards Toi Koku on the Path of the Changing Hands, a road which has been held by Lions or Dragons at one point or another due to fluctuations in strategy. Fuguki tags along as does Umasu. Every few hours Lion couriers zip by on horseback, pennons fluttering from their lances. The PCs soon outwalk the carts of the merchants who are on the road. Except that Toru seems to hover at the edge of perception behind them, pots clinking on his cart.

(unbeknownst to them, Ukiya scryes upon them with Reflective Pool as they head north.)

The PCs eventually come to the Drowned Merchant river, bridged by the 120’ long Bridge of the Lion’s Might which features an 80 foot arch that permits kobune ships to pass beneath it. One is passing upriver as they come to the near side, its drum beating intervals for the rowers. The bridge is forty feet wide and even has a tax collector with a badge of authority from the Lion wardens and two Lion Ashigaru (peasant spearmen) on this end. They gravely bow to the PCs and Asako Ryoko as the pass by.

Kobune

I think Mirumoto Takehito or someone else asked the tax collector if a Dragon Shugenja had passed by that day. The tax collector humbly confirmed this and described Ukiya accurately, saying he had ridden across two hours earlier. Ah, so desuka (Is that so?). The PCs start to cross the bridge (of course everyone tenses up because the bridge got described carefully).

As the PCs start to climb the central arch, Ukiaya cast Summon Fog which quickly shrouds the bridge in thick grey clouds. Then he casts Call Upon the wind to enable himself to fly slowly through the air. He spends three rounds flying, which gives the PCs time to gather closely around Asako Ryoko (except for Hida Nakamuro and Dohi) who scuttle over to one side.

On round three Ukiya casts Wind Born Slumbers on Ryoko and Dohi (maybe because Dohi really pissed him off once) spending a void point and raising a total of four times (one raise to add a target, one raise to increase the resistance TN to the spell and two raises to increase the TN penalty to 10). This is sufficient to make both targets swoon to the deck in a deep sleep, Dohi managed a brief curse as he succumbed.

Spotting Ukiya in the fog is difficult but after everyone rolls their initiative, some manage to do so. In quick succession the Crab bushi, bellowing a ferocious Kiai, pulls off a wicked draw cut at Ukiya with his naginata and does a horrendous 29 pts of wounding to the airborne Shugenja. Undeterred but injured now, the jilted Shugenja bravely scoops up Ryoko and swoops upwards into the cloying fog.

Yet wait, Mirumoto Takehito, the curiously silent Dragon Bushi quiets his mind and seeing a shadow within a shadow lets fly with his yubi, skewering the Shugenja with another 24 points of wounds (and miraculously missing Ryoko). Unconscious, the Shugenja plummets where his fall is broken by the unconscious ronin. Heh.

Dohi wakes up with gravely wounded Dragon all over him.

But wait, there is more.

Now the extremely swollen form of the merchant Toru flies out of the slowly dissipating fog. His muscles twitch in strange alignments, his eyes are bulgy and feculent with the rotten blue glow seen over haunted tombs. He is smeared with clotting blood and pink froth flies from his mouth as, screaming defiance, he hurls himself at Ryoko. He grasps a wicked knife and his posture indicates that he is a practitioner of jiujutsu. Umasu is also screaming but from a fetal position as the Bloodspeaker attacks.

Here is when Mirumoto Yonaka take a short stride and interposes himself between the Bloodspeaker and Ryoko, offering his unarmored self instead. Toru strikes at him with great force but the Dragon swordsman fluidly avoids Toru’s gory blade. Dohi, Kakita Gamblerpants both strike as the Bloodspeaker tries to get past Yonaka, and then the maho fueled merchant is down, gasping as his life ebbs out of the great rents in his frame. The Crab Bushi, acquainted with the creatures of the Shadowlands lunges forward and crushes the evil one with his two-handed hammer. Everyone is spattered with gore. Ew.

In the dazed silence that follows the second melee, Ryoko can be heard struggling (still not done yet) with Umasu for an envelope. As Yonaka spins and moves towards the pair, the “Crane” smirks, throws down a smoke bomb and as it clears, a slowly collapsing kimono with Crane mon is all that is seen. A splash is heard in the river below.

Shouts, confusion and now more Ashigaru are charging over the bridge from the far side. Order is slowly restored and the PCs are taken to the nearby village of Two Cranes Contesting for One Damned Frog, where their statements are taken by the magistrate there. Their clothing is repaired (cleaned) and after some tea and some words about the dead tax collector and the two Ashigaru (slain by the Bloodspeaker) the group moves on.

Ukiya the Dragon Shugenja’s head is preserved in salt and given to the two Dragons in a small sling on a stick. Theirs is the duty to report his dishonor (do they take the blame for his actions?).

The PCs spend the next night at The Pear Tree, a small inn with a lovely cherry tree in the courtyard. It is smack dab in the middle of Toi Koku, a medium sized town prospering under the gaze of a five story whitewashed Lion castle.

The Pear Tree, despite having an above average sake collection, proves to be the coming out of Fuguki. Uncharacteristically, he imbibes hugely of their #1 sake and becomes even more erratic and offensive, shrieking insults about bushido and upbraiding the PCs for slights in their honor and comportment (some of which are actually true). Instead of killing him, or turning him over to Lion Magistrates, Kakita Hiro (I think) made a huge roll and spoke calmly and clearly to him about manners and courtesy. Fuguki’s face cleared and his Blowfish tattoo visibly morphed into a non-bloated form. He regained his sanity, yet does not apologize (“I am myself, and the me who was me here is not the me of myself, but another me.”)

When Lion Magistrates finally do show up, someone manages to calm them down and indeed the inn is calm and any damages are readily paid for by Asako Ryoko, who sees that at least one of her yojimbo care enough about the little muscular weird Fuguki to try and not kill him. Fuguki promises to remember their names and thanks the PCs for sharing their experiences with him. He departs for Dragon Clan territory early the next morning.

Still not done. Twelve more days of walking eventually find the group at the huge northern Pale Oak Castle. Ryoko disappears into its depths to deliver her report to the Jade Champion and the group spends some time in above average surroundings near an excellent koi pond. Dohi is given two gold Ryo, as agreed, and the Jade Champion’s hatamoto, Asako Heibei personally conveys the thanks of the Jade Champion to them. They are given new kimonos and invited to watch a poetry contest. High times indeed.

Everyone gets 5 XP, 2 honor points, 2 Glory and also gain a favor with the Asako Clan. Also Hitomi Fuguki is gained as an ally.

Comments

originally comment by Chickenhat

“Ukiya the Dragon Shugenja’s head is preserved in salt and given to the two Dragons in a small sling on a stick. Theirs is the duty to report his dishonor (do they take the blame for his actions?). "

Well, since we took the responsibility to shoot him down, I guess it’s also a matter of who we’re reporting to. Our family and clan, or his family within the clan? Had it been Takehito committing the attempted kidnapping, then of course the answer would be yes.

However, Tonbo Ukiya’s actions were embarrassing enough to us as Dragons without the actual actions he took to threaten Ryoko as our charge. He was dead the second he lied to me about his destination, his head was as good as off as soon as he showed up at the Blue Lantern.

One of my theories was that either the Bloodspeaker or the Crane Ikebana had enchanted Tonbo into remaining a suitor against his will. And killing Ryoko as the messenger was also some kind of revenge against her uncle. Unfortunately we didn’t find any clues to this effect and Tonbo did not survive his misguided attempt in order to be questioned. Had he lived we would have gladly served as his seconds in committing sepuku. Perhaps we should have offered our services in such a manner to him at the inn, but he chose to leave before dinner was finished.

Eh. Wether we can or can’t prove he was enchanted against his will, yes, as a clansman we will accept his dishonor and make all necessary apologies that we could not intervene more directly at an earlier time to provide him mercy against his obviously insufferable condition.


And, yes, I’m finally started to grok the milieu. However, in meta-game terms we REALLY need a party shugenja, a Lore Master/Courtier, an archer, a spearman, and a tank in order to survive this world.

And a pony.

Treacherous Terrain (Part 2)
 

original comment by kugelblitz

Ah so desu.

A few more pre gen runs and then everyone gets to crank out something original, including me.

Treacherous Terrain (Part 2)
ednoria

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