Wednesday, September 30, 2015

THE SECRET OF JE VALLEY XV: HEART OF EMPIRE

This campaign is set ten years after a previous set of adventures (HERE). This is the fifteenth session of the current campaign (Session XIV can be found HERE). It was an interim session conducted online. This adventure was very much inspired by the three Dragon Gate films (Dragon Gate InnNew Dragon Gate Inn, and Flying Swords of Dragon Gate Inn). 


Characters*:
Xue Lingsu (Purple Cavern Sect)
Xi Kang(Affiliated with Mr. Red Claw)
Zhi Zhu (No Sect)
Long Shu (Purple Cavern Sect)
Min (Purple Cavern Sect)
Rong (Tree-Dwelling Nun Sect)
Nuan (Xi Kang's Disciple and a former Flying Phantom)

The party returned to the Banyan after a venture north where they went to Ogre Gate Inn and recovered an invaluable jade horse. After they reached Zun City, Kang re-united with his disciple, Nuan, who had just stolen the Manual of Changing from Golden Dragon Temple. She also informed him that they held a prisoner in their catacomb, a woman had found a way to kill the Yao. 

Last session the martial sects had split into three warring factions: Righteous Faction, Demon Moon Faction and Golden Dragon Faction. Their sects had allied with Demon Moon so they went to north into the swamps to reach Demon Moon Cult's headquarters. When they arrived they participated in a meeting with Lady Plum Blossom and Jade Priestess (the second chief of Demon Moon Cult). The leaders of Nature Loving Monk Sect and Tree Dwelling Nun Sect were also present. While Lady Plum Blossom wanted to attack Golden Dragon right away, there was no agreement on the matter. Ultimately they decided it was best to send in a team to recover the Golden Dragon's prisoner and see what other information they could gather. Long Shu, Kang, Zhi Zhu, and Nuan went north by carriage to infiltrate Golden Dragon. As they left, the month of the Demon Moon began. 

A few days into their journey they were stopped at a pass by Nuns of Heiping who demanded 300 spades for passage. Long Shu refused to pay and threatened them. A fight ensued but the party quickly took control of the action, dispatching a number of nuns before their leader agreed to surrender. They took the nun's money and continued on their way. 

When they reached Golden Dragon Headquarters they sent Zhi Zhu in first as a scout. She snuck into Golden Dragon palace and spied on Bronze Master. He discussed the prisoner with one of his subordinates, saying he had a way to get her to talk, as he patted a lacquered box in his hands. He then put the box and a knife in a cabinet, which he locked. Zhi Zhu waited for him to leave, then went in the room and broke open the cabinet, taking both items. As she fled, a junior disciple spotted her and sounded the alarm. She was able to elude capture, but the rest of the sect spread over the grounds to find intruders. 

Returning to the party and showing them her discovery, Zhi Zhu and the others decided to use the alarm to their advantage. They captured three junior disciples, took their clothes, and went to the catacomb entrance. There they saw Red Maiden keeping watch.  

Long Shu told them that Bronze Master wanted her to take the prisoner to him immediately.  He told a conniving story and she took them into the catacomb with her to recover the prisoner. On the way out, they stabbed her in the back. She struck back but Kang stabbed her in the chest with the Wind Saber of Sunan. Out of the blue a man leapt from the cliffside into he fray shouting "I'll save you my love!" and attacked the party. They cut him down and the woman began to weep.  

Recognizing it was her husband, Long Shu healed him with his internal energy hoping to earn Red Maiden's good will. Then they fled south to rejoin their caravan with the prisoner. 

The prisoner was a woman named Niang. She had come to the Golden Dragons seeking their assistance. She had broken into the imperial palace, stolen the lacquered heart box of a yao* and killed a number of yao on her way out using  a dagger called the Key of the Pillar of Wisdom. She went to Golden Dragon Sect hoping to ally with him but they stole her belongings and imprisoned her. She revealed that the box contained the heart of her husband, who she was hoping to help cure.  Following a rumor that head of Zhaoze Sect knew a way to restore Yao, she asked the party to take her to him.  

On way, with Demon Moon in full swing, they first encountered Hungry Ghosts. They gave food and the ghosts went away. Niang explained that the head of Zhaoze Sect, Shan Lushan, had once been a yao himself, but had figured out a way to return his heart to his body. The party was reluctant to go to him, as they had killed his wife, Lady White Blade. They were unsure if there was still a grudge (though they had let him go rather than kill him). 

As they passed through Zun Forest their carriage was attacked by a demon tree. It lifted them into air slaughtering and turning their men with its the roots. They leapt to the ground and fled as fast as they could while their men's eyes turned black and their bodies warped. 

Reaching the shores of Zhaoze Lake they sent fire signal. A boat arrived with men who took them to Zhaoze Island. They spoke with Lushan about their grudge and he agreed to help them if one of their members would face him in a fair fight after things were settled. He explained that by performing a particular melody on his flute while the ritual was reversed, he was able to restore his body. He did not know if it could be done for another but was willing to try. 

This is where the session ended. 

*The Yao are the loyal guards and servants of the emperor. They were once martial heroes but were captured and forced to undergo a ritual where their heart is cut out and placed in a box. This makes them loyal but also imbues their bodies with the ability to regenerate. They are virtually impossible to kill. 




Saturday, September 26, 2015

TABLE OF MONTHLY EVENTS

These are some tables I roll on in my Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign just to help me develop events in the setting that are going on away from the PCs (or near them on occasion). I saw an interesting thread on the subject (HERE) in a bigger discussion on sandboxes and it made me decide to put my tables into the rulebook. I will have to see if there is space, still a chance this might not make it in. I also need to adjust these a bit. I've been using them in my own campaign but because they are monthly, it is possible I haven't noticed oddities with the numbers yet (certain things being a bit too probably for example). The Historical Turning Points table is also a bit of an overstatement. It includes significant events and possible turning points in history but for space considerations I just called the table "Historical Turning Point".  These are the tables with the introductory text. 

TABLE OF FUTURE EVENTS (OPTIONAL)
This is used to construct a future event timeline. This will allow you to plot several years into the future or determine events as needed. Use it in conjunction with a campaign calendar. Use it as inspiration. Roll randomly and interpret the results. Modify as needed. You will often need to roll on Table IV to determine the location of the event.

Each month roll and mark down the day or time when the event begins to develop. It is important to create new events independent of rolling as well, based on prior ones. As new events occur they might suggest further developments. For example a massive drought or famine could trigger a migration, and this in turn could trigger an invasion. There is no need to roll for these additional events. Use the tables as tools, not as something to limit possibilities.

With many events, actions by the players can alter the outcomes. When you roll and record events in your campaign calendar, these are done with the assumption of no intervention. Things may change if the players decide to intrude themselves.

TABLE: MONTHLY EVENTS
Roll (2d10)      Result
2                      Roll on Table II
3                      An important family or group dies or vanishes mysteriously
4                      A local event or festival goes terribly wrong
5                      A great artist (musician, poet, actor, etc) holds an important public performance
6                      Disaster strikes a small village or ward in a town
7                      A small group of bandits plaque a region
8                      A new local magnate emerges
9                      A sign of or potent of the future appears (roll in advance to determine future event)
10                    A great leader or personality is involved in scandal
11                    Nothing Significant, business as usual
12                    A new song, poem, work of literature or craft item gains popularity
13                    A great artist or craftsman emerges attracted followers
14                    Local Storm
15                    A series of murders occur
16                    A fire breaks out in a ward or village
17                    A monstrous threat briefly threatens a local population
18                    A new public nuisance or social disturbance appears in a town or province
19                    Someone holds a tournament or contest
20                    Two Martial Sects on Brink of  Conflict


TABLE II: MAJOR EVENT OR DEVELOPMENT
Roll (2d10)      Result
2                      Roll on Table III: Historical Turning Point
3                      Key Figure in Martial World Dies or is Killed
4                      A local warlord arises
5                      A minor invasion occurs
6                      A minor Migration occurs
7                      A martial villain bullies a local population
8                      Something ancient and important is discovered
9                      A new monstrous threat arises, something never seen before
10                    An individual gains great influence or prestige
11                    A new activity or pastime gains popularity
12                    Two Martial Sects go to war
13                    A new musical, literary, poetic or other artistic form gains popularity
14                    A natural disaster occurs
15                    A minor uprising occurs
16                    A city is plagued by a great evil or monstrous threat
17                    A new public nuisance or social disturbance spreads widely
18                    An important leader marries or has a child
19                    Important Leader Dies
20                    Local Government cracks down on a specific crime or perceived social problem


TABLE III: HISTORICAL TURNING POINT
Roll (d100)      Result
1                      Global Plague
2                      A major technological development occurs
3-4                   A new martial sect arises
5                      Civil War
6                      A new Religion Arises and spreads               
7                      A major invasion from a distant power
8-9                   A Major Invasion from a nearby power
10                    A state collapses                    
11                    A shift occurs in one of the upper or lower realms
12                    A Major Migration occurs
13-15               A new Technology or innovation
16-17               A new alliance formed
18-19               Old Alliance broken
20-21               Major Policy Changes
22-25               New Trade Good Introduced From a Distant location
26-28               Disaster Strikes a city
29-30               Significant Reforms or Restructuring of Society Attempted
31-35               New Trade Good Discovered Locally
36-38               A Minor Invasion from a distant power
39-40               An existing Martial Sect splits into two
41-43               Economic Disaster
44-45               A new settlement is established or an existing community grows considerably
46-50               An existing Religion Gains Many Followers and Spreads
51-55               Famine or drought  
56-60               A great evil or monstrous threats spread far and wide
61-65               A moral panic spreads
66-67               Conflict arises between religion and government
68-70               A great fire devastates a region or entire settlement
71-75               Government starts major project, such as a canal or other works
76-80               Government becomes less oppressive and strives to improve conditions of population
81-82               Government becomes more oppressive
83-85               Two great martial heroes have a duel (1 in 10 chance each one dies)
86-88               Major Natural Disaster
89-90               Existing Trade Good becomes plentiful
91-93               Existing Trade Good Becomes scarce
94-95               A major uprising occurs
96-97               A social shift occurs, such as the rise to power or importance of an existing class
98-99               New people emerge
00                    A major artifact or powerful relic emerges

TABLE IV: LOCATION
Roll d10
1          Zhan Dao Empire
2          A distant land
3          Li Fan
4          Hu Qin
5          Hai’an
6          Banyan
7          Dhamma
8          Kushen Basin
9          Yangu Plains

10       Chai Yun

Thursday, September 24, 2015

THE EAST IS RED (WUXIA INSPIRATION)

Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate draws on a number of sources for inspiration. I watch a lot of wuxia movies and TV shows, and these have had a big influence not only on Ogre Gate, but on Sertorius and many of my d20 campaigns. I am hoping to share some of my favorite movies and shows in the genre here as we work on WHOG.

Note: I am writing these as a fan of the genre. I am not a movie expert or an expert in asian cinema. These are my own observations based on what I have learned by watching wuxia and kung fu movies, and by reading about them through interviews and books. But my knowledge is quite limited and I am an English speaker. So understand that my commentary comes from this perspective. 

One of my favorite wuxia films from the 90s is Swordsman II (which I reviewed HERE). It is an amazing film and is packed with incredible action sequences. A noteworthy aspect of Swordsman II is Brigitte Lin's role as Dongfang Bubai (called Invincible Asia in the movie). In the original stories, Dongfang Bubai is a man who castrates himself to master the powers of the Sunflower Manual (which contains Kung Fu created by a Eunuch, that can only be performed by a Eunuch due to their particular balance of Yin and Yang). In Swordsman II, Dongfang Bubai was played by a woman (Lin) rather than a man, giving the character a much different interpretation. The third film is called The East is Red, and it focuses almost entirely on Brigitte Lin's Dongfang Bubai. It is a great movie in its own right and I wanted to give it a separate review. 


The East is Red
The East is Red is a Tsui Hark produced movie, directed by Raymond Lee and Ching Sui-tung. It was released in 1993 and stars Brigitte Lin (Dongfang Bubai), Joey Wong (Snow) and Yu Rong Guang (Koo). 

When watching The East is Red, one can almost discount the previous two films. This is a bit of a departure from them, both in presentation and direction. It is a bit more crazy as well, going in some wildly unexpected places. At times it can also be a bit confusing, but it is a movie I've really come to appreciate. 

The plot picks up where Swordsman II left off, in the aftermath of Donfang Bubai's death. It sets the stage brilliantly, with the legend of Dongfang Bubai growing. The land is filled with imitators claiming to be Bubai and she* is even worshipped as a god. A naval officer named Koo goes with Spanish soldiers to Black Cliff (the site of bubai's death). He is there to help them recover a ship but the Spanish General really wants the Sunflower Manual and tries to recover Dongfang Bubai's body. They encounter a guardian who shows them the casket. After they find the body, the General's true motives are revealed and there is a wonderful battle between armored conquistadors with guns and martial swordsman of the Ming Dynasty. Koo is saved by the guardian, who is revealed to be Dongfang Bubai in disguise. When he tells her that she is being impersonated by countless others, Dongfang Bubai decides to return to the mainland and put an end to the imitators. The rest of the movie focuses on Dongfang Bubai's return and the complications that arise from a growing conflict with Koo and the unrequited affection of her former lover, Snow. 

Wild Wuxia Ride
The East is Red is simply a crazy film. It just does things movies don't attempt anymore and isn't afraid to take some interesting risks. Some of these can feel silly at times, though this is by design as it blends humor, action and romance pretty freely. The Japanese wooden submarine vessel may strain some peoples credulity for example and there is a particularly ungainly looking swordfish sequence, but if you accept it and just go with the movie, it works and has some brilliant moments. 

One of my favorite scenes is when the Spanish soldiers witness Koo use his lightness Kung Fu for the first time flying up the side of a wall and they ask in disbelief "How can he fly?". His men explain the notion of Lightness Kung Fu to him and passingly refer to The Martial World. The Spaniards have trouble with the concept and conclude it is a destination. I really liked this unusually direct treatment of the subject. 

The movie is filled with discordant imagery but tied together with red tones. It has everything from the aforementioned Japanese Wooden Submarine to ninjas sailing through the air on kites. They manage a few truly stunning visuals as well. There is a moment when a concubine seduces Snow, only to have her skin pulled off as a strange, almost reptilian, Ninja emerges from the husk. It is bizarre but also genuinely beautiful on the screen.  

Brigitte Lin's performance is magnificent and the movie is almost entirely hers. If the previous film was about her relationship with Linghu Chong, The East is Red is about Dongfang Bubai's search for her own identity. Very much at the heart of the film is the question "Who is Dongfang Bubai?" It is unclear whether we are witnessing her unravel or attain a kind of apotheosis until the end. 

The fight sequences are enjoyable and over-the-top. I think what sets them apart is some of their inventiveness and their willingness to be playful and dramatic at the same time. They definitely tilt toward the gonzo end of the spectrum. One thing I really enjoyed was the guns versus swords early on, and the naval scenarios all work pretty well. We also get to see a lot more of Bubai's threading needles which is a plus. 

The East is Red is steeped in sensuality and bloodshed. It takes things a step further than Swordsman II in some respects. There is almost a Hellraiser-like quality to the balance of pleasure and pain. 

I do recommend The East is Red, particularly for those who saw the other Swordsman films. It is definitely a wild ride and takes the series in a different direction. For gamers I think there is a lot to pull in terms of NPC ideas, factions and a few cool developments (for instance Dongfang Bubai being worshipped as a god in her absence). 

*Bubai's gender is quite fluid in these two movies. Most of the time, the character is referred to with male pronouns but sometimes with female pronouns. The character also moves from one gender to the other at times. It feels like over the course of the films the character becomes more female. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

INSIDE MAKING A DUNGEON MAP FOR WANDERING HEROES OF OGRE GATE

One of our artists has posted an interesting look at the work he is doing for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (You can find the post HERE). This shows the development of the Tomb of the Timeless Master map. It is still in the early stages so this is all laying the groundwork for what is to come (here is a link to a post that includes an image of a finished map for another location). 

Michael also talks about how we communicate and develop the map concept. In this case I had a map I'd used in my own Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign with entries written in a separate document. He takes that two-dimensional map and creates a 3D model. But the process isn't always smooth. This isn't addressed in Michael's post but it is something I find very helpful when working with him on a project. 

It is one thing to have an idea of something in two dimensions sketched on a page, but when Michael makes a living image to scale, we often have to talk to tweak things because my idea just doesn't work when you hold it under the light of a 3 dimensional model. In this case he found a lot of issues with my original numbers for heights. Some of these were simply due to the need to show everything from a certain angle (a high spiral stairway in the foreground could obscure important rooms for example), but a lot of them were a product of me failing to visualize the scale in the first place (i.e. thinking through what what a 50 foot high stairway really would look like in relation to other parts of the map). This helped us improve the dungeon. 

Anyways, folks curious about the process should check out the post. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

MY DESCENT INTO EVIL PART II: ACTS OF ULTIMATE DARKNESS

Last post I talked about how Powers Checks in the Ravenloft Campaign setting influenced my gaming style. They were an important part of the game and the games I ran in the 90s. One thing I quickly realized was it could be just as fun having characters descend into the darkness as it was to have them fight against the darkness. In the case of Ravenloft, and even our own game,Sertorius, to a degree, there is a natural cut-off point where you become so evil or reckless and transform radically, that you your status changes from viable player character to an NPC who is just part of the scenery. It is the apotheosis of the character into an opponent for players to face. 

The Banshee Tree by Jackie Musto
When we made Sertorius I took it as gospel that a character who became a Grim was not feasible as a player character. A Grim is someone who has been so warped by magic that create a localized spiritual disruption and bond with the landscape. This can manifest in all kinds of ways. Some Grims are like ghosts bound to a dark forest, some retain their human form and some meld with the local geography. These are haunted landscapes brimming with adventure potential. 

As with characters who fail Powers Checks and become Domain Lords, we viewed this as a point of no return where things got too crazy and moved too far away from standard adventures to work. So the character had to become an NPC. This makes sense to a degree but lately I've been thinking that it is unnecessary, that is is okay for the character to continue as a PC, at least if the group and the GM are willing to go forward. As long as the transformation leads to a place that is still workable in a campaign, I think there is a lot of fun to be had there.

This end stage of evil could just be a late stage, it need not be the final stage. I would liken it to the domain management level of a standard D&D campaign. In that case the focus shifts from adventuring to managing followers and politics. 

It is definitely possible to continue running a game after one of the characters Grims, in the case of Sertorius, or becomes a Domain Lord, in the case of Ravenloft. I saw this firsthand with Sertorius where we allowed characters to go well beyond where they normally would still be considered PCs. The trick is to figure out how to continue with "the party" after one or more of their members has made such a drastic transition. I have a couple of solutions here. 

The first is collecting transformation: the whole party is turned together into something new. They share in the spoils and the punishments. While retaining their individuality they all are a part of this new domain in their own way. 

The second allows for disparity and imbalance. In this approach only the character who transforms makes a true apotheosis into something greater, but the other characters ride his coattails and are drawn in as well. They may form mental bonds with the transformed character or become his minions with limited abilities and powers. 

The important thing with both these approaches is to make this an interesting venture for the whole party to participate in. It requires a certain amount of buy-in from all the players so you want to make sure the transition is something everyone is on board with (it is just such a radical departure from where the campaign began that you want to make sure continuing is worth your time and effort). 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MY DESCENT INTO EVIL PART I: FAILED POWERS CHECKS

It began with a Powers Check, when Holgar set fire to his enemy's home and felt a presence in his mind. The flames consumed and changed him, giving him an explosive temper and over time turning his skin a dark red hue. As the months passed, his acts of violence were followed by new changes. In the end he became a fiery spirit who could turn people to ash with a gaze but was imprisoned by the mists, only able to escape into true corporeal form when he enticed a mortal to commit evil deeds. This was fun. This was different. This opened my eyes to the joys of evil characters and evil campaigns. 
Patience of the Banyan Tree by Jackie Musto


I am sure a lot of GMs has similar experiences with other systems and games. For me the Ravenloft Powers Check had an enormous influence on my tastes. I've spoken a bit about how it shaped my design, with things like Grims and Grim Beasts in Sertorius. Now I want to focus on how it showed me the joys of the dark and evil path.  

A Powers Check is a roll made any time characters committed acts of evil in the misty realms of Ravenloft to see if the dark powers responded. Though the Power Check mechanics evolved over the course of the line's history, in their original incarnation they were a simply d100 roll, with a result of 100 indicating failure. The number could also be adjusted by the GM from 100-91, or 1-10%, depending on the nature of the act. On a failed Powers Check the dark powers respond by giving the character a reward and a punishment. There are six stages to powers checks in the original boxed set and as player characters pass through each stage the responses of the Dark Powers increase in intensity. So a character at Stage One might gain +2 Hit Points as a reward but develop an an "evil odor" of musk or decay. Slowly the changes become more noticeable and are reflected in the form of striking physical and/or mental transformations. Examples in the book include things like gaining Burning Hands but having your eyes melt away to your hands turning into tentacles and being able to foul food or water with a touch. By stage five the character becomes a creature of Ravenloft, at times possibly under the GM's control. By Stage Six the character is too far gone to the mists. He or she is ready to receive a Domain all their own and becomes an NPC forever. Such characters are Dark Lords of Ravenloft. 

Powers Checks as they were presented in the rule book originally were double edged and in some respects, attempting to serve seemingly contradictory goals. They were a tool for warning "...players they [were] treading a thing line as role-players..." but also a way for the Dark Powers to "nurture" evil and "nudge [players] toward their 'welcoming arms'". 

There were basically two types of GMs who ran Ravenloft, those who focused on the punishment aspect and saw Powers Checks as a way of guiding players on the moral path, and those who saw them as an interesting development. While I began as the former, I progressed into the latter over time. 

I dove into Ravenloft head-first and never looked back. It was the setting that defined my early GMing experience. Powers Checks were a big reason why. I noticed pretty quickly that characters failing powers checks added something fun to the game. At first I saw them as dangerous fun, things that would come up occasionally but that you had to be cautious about. After a few years it wasn't a path I discouraged at all, I encouraged players to do evil things to warp their bodies and minds. 

There were a lot of things about Powers Checks that appealed to me. Above all they were complete surprises. You couldn't really prepare for Powers Checks in advance because you never knew how a player would act in a given session. So when they came up, they are a response to in game developments by the GM, and they could drive the session in directions no one anticipated. In an age when railroading was somewhat the norm (and Ravenloft itself had its railroads) this was very refreshing.  

Powers Checks also were a wonderful creative part of play. An important element of the Powers Check concept is the Punishment/Reward bestowed for an evil act, reflects the act itself and the nature of the character. This is a somewhat demanding requirement for an on-the-fly transformation of body and mind. So as a GM it was always a big moment because you wanted to get it right. It forced you to think creatively on your feet and I think that was both exciting and helpful. 

More than anything though it was having a mechanic that made the the setting respond so tangibly to player behavior that made them so wonderful. For me at least, this transformative effect on characters was something new. 

I think over time Powers Checks had a transformative effect on my GMing as well. I realized that evil characters were fully viable, they were a self-sustaining source of adventure potential. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

THE BLOOD OF THE DEMON MOON CULT III: DEATH OF THE MOON, BIRTH OF THE STORM

This is the campaign log for the second session of a google+run Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign. The previous session is described HERE

Player Characters
Mofeng: A young wandering Hero who is frequently at odds with his traveling companion Zhang Wan
Zhang Wan (Bone Breaker): An unpredictable and violent martial expert who is the brother of Zhang San
Zhang San: A wandering hero and sister of Zhang Wan, more calm than her brother
Chen: A poisoner and healer known for his lazy ways. 

Chen and San were about to enter the forbidden shrine of the Golden Dragon Temple when they had second thoughts and decided it would be more prudent to negotiate with Bronze Master. The next morning they went to the Golden Palace and received an audience. They informed him of their real reason for coming to the sect headquarters, telling them San's brother had been poisoned by the Demon Moon Cult and that they needed the Manual of Changing to secure the antidote. Bronze Master said he would give them the manual if they agreed to work with his agent (San's brother, Wan) and help attack the Demon Moon Cult. They agreed and were given 100 taels, as well as guides and horses. He also made them take a poison to ensure their loyalty. He promised the antidote when they presented the heads of the Demon Moon Cult Leaders. 

They journeyed south and reached the pass between Hai'an and Heiping Mountain. They were once again asked by the Nuns of Heiping to make a donation, but rather than pay they offered employment. They were able to secure the help of 100 Nuns of Heiping and 12 of their Abbesses in destroying the Demon Moon cult for a substantial donation to the temple. They continued south to Zun City. 

Meanwhile Bone Breaker traveled back to the Demon Moon Cult and told Jade Priestess that the manual would arrive in a matter of days. She gave him the antidote and asked him to join her for an important ritual in the morning. He headed toward Zun City after rendezvousing with a group of thugs he hired and his manservant Iron Cub to help him take down the Demon Moon Cult. On their way out of the swamp they were encircled by several boats, all with archers aiming at them. A man calling himself White Crocodile stood on the rail and demanded they hand over all their belongings. 

Bone Breaker managed to convince him that they could work out an agreement that would be more profitable. He promised White Crocodile more money if he assisted them in an attack on Demon Moon Cult. He also promised to direct some merchant caravans through White Crocodile's territory for easy robbing. 

When Bone Breaker arrived in Zun City he met up with Chen and San. They agreed to attack the cult that evening at his signal. Chen and San had already made preparations of poison and secured several freelances. They lead the Nuns of Heiping into the swamp to get into position using boats. 

Fearing the reputation of Jade Priestess and Lord Moon, Bone Breaker sought out martial heroes in the city to help. He was able to gain the assistance of Jade Butterfly, who agreed on the condition that his sister become her student. He also heard about a man named Reckless Storm while talking to a member of Gold Dragon Sect. According to the man, Reckless Storm was one of the great martial heroes of the Banyan, but highly unpredictable and prone to outbursts. He gave Bone Breaker a wooden seal, and instructed him to present it to Reckless Storm. 

Bone Breaker found Reckless Storm at a nearby Tea House drinking from a wine gourd. He showed the seal and was permitted to speak. At first he offered Reckless Storm money to kill Jade Priestess. This only prompted rage, as the master stood up and smashed the table. He was incensed that anyone would ask him to harm a woman. Bone Breaker managed to calm Reckless Storm and suggested that he kill Lord Moon. He agreed to the terms provided he be given thousands of Spades and enough wine to last the entire battle. He told Bone Breaker that he would kill all the men in his boat if his wine ran low. 

Bone Breaker made a point of having Iron Cub position Reckless Storm as far from him as possible in the battle. He then got into position to make the attack. 

They opted to reduce bloodshed and force surrender. Bone Breaker, Jade Butterfly and Iron Cub went into the home of Jade Priestess and offered her mercy if she went with them willingly. Seeing that the swamp was surrounded and knowing Jade Butterfly's reputation, she agreed to their terms. 

They then used Jade Priestess as a hostage to force Lord Moon's surrender. After that it was a simple matter to get the rest of the cult to throw down their weapons. The party debated how to handle the two cult leaders, with Chen wanting to take their heads so Bronze Master would provide the antidote. Bone Breaker pointed out that their heads could still be on their bodies, their was no need to kill them, and Jade Butterfly expressed outrage at the idea of killing two masters who were unable to defend themselves (they were bound and drugged at this point). 

As they spoke Reckless Storm climbed up to a high walkway and sat, then laughed. "I am the new leader of the Demon Moon cult," he said to all below. 

Bone Breaker tried to dissuade Reckless Storm from this notion. 

This is where the session ended.