Saturday, March 18, 2017

STORMS OF THE MARTIAL WORLD SESSION 15: THE DANCE OF KE-YEN

This was the Fifteenth session of a new Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign. See the THIRTEENTH SESSION LOG to read about the previous session. 

Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is our wuxia RPG. It is available HERE in PDF. 


Characters
Peng Ke-Yen: Eccentric daughter of a merchant who goes against conventions and is notable for her white and black streaked hair. From Dashen village. 

Peng Pei: Daughter of two low Yen-Li priests. Also from Dashen village. 


Peng Biyu: Peng Pei's mother. 

Zhendao: A former slave of a man named Zhao. 


Shin Du: A performer and actor who is a perfect shot with the bow. 


Song Pei: A one-armed physician.


Sister Fox: Brother Wolf's Sister who is ailing from Life Ebbing Venom. 

Feiyan: A yen-li priestess who is acquainted with Sister Fox. 

The party had recently been in the House of Paper Shadows where they rescued Hero Feng. They debated what to do, knowing that if they didn't bring him to Dawa of the Ten Talismans, then Ke-Yen's agreement would be broken. They decided to head north and trek through the mountains with Hero Feng to Heaven Palace Sect. 

The second day of their journey they awoke to find Zhendao missing with a note that read: 


I lied about sword.  Want tear all Gods from sky.  Will not danger rest for this.  Cave woman told me of symbols carved into hands.  Maybe you can know what they mean?  [Strange Symbols]

No care for Wolf, but Ke Yen should saved at all costs.  You no cower from that or I will know.

They continued on but as they traveled through Hai'an they were approached by men wearing unusual clothing who claimed to be disciples of Majestic Lion Cult. They demanded 300 spades worth of tribute to their Iron Clawed Lion King for safe passage through their territory. 
Iron Clawed Lion King

Shin Du spoke saying "I have something better than mere gold, I have the most exquisite performance for you king."

It was decided the group would go to Majestic Lion Palace to perform for Iron Clawed Lion King. 

They arrived and Shin Du instructed everyone in their roles. It should be noted only Shin Du understood the full array of skills required for such a spectacle and the material they were working with was notoriously terrible. Still Ke-Yen managed to dance exceptionally well and Shin Du, as always, sang and put on athletic feats that dazzled the audience. 

Iron Clawed Lion King stood and approached the group. 

"What a tremendous dancer," He said. "I have never seen such beauty in my life."

He asked for the dancers name and was told she was Ke-Yen. 

Iron Clawed Lion King said he'd like her to join his sect. She said they had matters to deal with. But Shin Du stepped in and promised the group would return for another performance if the Majestic Lion Cult could help guide them to their destination. 

Iron Clawed Lion King agreed. That night they stayed in Majestic Lion Palace and Ke-Yen received fine teas and foods. In the morning there was a sedan chair awaiting her. She refused it, but the guide had it brought for the journey in case she needed it (he explained that Iron Clawed Lion King was concerned her legs would be damaged during the trip). 

The men guided them to Heaven Palace Sect. They brought hero Feng to the entrance and were told to wait. When they reached the central hall the group was brought before Dawa who was wearing a phoenix crown and standing next to a red robe and hat suspended in the air. As hero Feng approached she flicked her wrist and the robes wrapped around him, forcing him to act out the marriage ceremony. When the ceremony was over, she dismissed the party and they debated what to do while in the canyon. 

As the party debated the next course of action, Sister Fox and Shin Du snuck into a shaft above the door and found a small passage leading into Dawa's chamber. Sister Fox hurled bombs of Divine Powder into the room as they consummated their wedding. Dawa was naked except for the talismans. A massive explosion rippled through the chamber and Dawa screamed "Hero Feng, my love!"

Shin Du fired a hail of arrows at her but she climbed into the shaft and struck him with a blue energy attack causing him tremendous pain and cold. He fired another hail of arrows upon her. She swirled her hand, rage burning in her eyes and a blue vortex throttled Shin Du's body, nearly killing him. He leapt forward and gripped the Talismans, then spun her in the air. When she landed it knocked her out. He took the Talismans and left. 

Disciples reacted and chaos broke out in the wake of the explosion. The party, for a time managed to not draw too much attention to themselves and act like they were helping. Shin Du even commanded some guards to head outside and find Dawa. They went to the main chamber and Shin Du asked Qinwen (who was suspended on the wall with all his limbs cut off) how to destroy the Talismans. 

"They cannot be destroyed," he laughed. "They are fundamental to the world."

Shin Du fired an arrow into Qinwen's head to release him from his suffering and joined the group to flee from the area. As they were making their way up the mountain side, disciples called after them and told them to remain where they were. They were chased and ran as best they could. Shin Du fell behind and was encircled. The party leapt to his defense and Song Pei helped him escape by calling forth a plume of smoke. 

They eventually outran the disciples and made it to the Banyan. Along the way, Ke-Yen fashioned a talisman to enhance her dancing as her skills were not that great and she felt she had just been lucky the first time she performed. In seven days they reached Heaven Palace Sect and Ke-Yen performed once again for Iron Clawed Lion King. 

This time he was moved to tears (the player got a 10 on the Talent: Dancing Roll). He walked around the chamber and said:

"Such unspeakable talent. Please join my sect so I may see this dancing every day."

Ke-Yen explained that they had other matters to tend to and that she was already the disciple of another Sifu. 

"Very well," he said. "Then please return for another performance in the future."

Ke-Yen nodded. 

Iron Clawed Lion King announced "I pledge that if anyone harms Ke-Yen's legs, I shall remove theirs." He looked at the party and said "If anyone ever bullies her or gives your group trouble, you can call on me for assistance."

This is where the session ended. 


DISPOSABLE DISCIPLES SESSION 39: PALACE OF THE SPIRAL CROWN

This is a log for my ongoing Disposable Disciples of Bone Kingdom campaign. You can see the previous session HERE.  Note that I began recording sessions, so this has allowed me to do more detailed session logs.

Player Characters: 

Shen Chun/Crazed Raksha
Little Bai
Qui
Ong Lao
Min (Feiyan)

Disciples of the Sect: 

Red Eagle (Little Bai)
Mount Dao/Biggest Sister (Little Bai)
Filial Cricket (Little Bai)
Dim-Witted Chen (Shen Chun)


Sects: 

The Righteous Outlaws
Calamity Star
Ou Jinghzhu
Tea Master Houzhou

Stone Palace Sect (Also called Golden Way)

A gambling hall and criminal network in Yun Hu. Currently under control of party, with Weeping Lotus managing it. They've absorbed many other sects into this organization including Crocodile Sect, Blades of the Weeping Lotus, Temple of the Jade Mercies, Relentless Corpse Sect and more. Recently they joined with Relentless Corpse again when Shen Chun arranged a marriage with their leader Da Mei Mei. 

Members:

Shen Chun (King)
Da Mei Mei (Queen)
Weeping Lotus (Right Vanguard)
Silent Dagger
Feng (Accountant)
Gu (Head Chef)
Little Bai
Min
Scholar Shen (a scholar who has been writing a story about Little Bai's life)

Dancing Scorpions
Criminal network in Yun Hu

Relentless Corpse Sect

Da Mei Mei

Temple of the Jade Mercies (see Stone Palace)

Abbot Wei Zhao
Abbess Bao-Yu
Yao Tu-On
Yao Chun
Yao Ba

Southern Hill Sect

Yellow Mantis
White Chysanthemum
Green Mantis (Dead but important)

Twin-Fisted Eagle Sect

Twin Fisted Eagle
Jade Fist

Bone Breaking Sect
Destroyed and taken over by Drunken Hero Kang

Glorious Death Cult

Led by Supreme Master Tung, who says he is a god of death


CITY OF THE SPIRAL CROWN

In the city of the Spiral Crown, Ong and Min approached the gates of the main palace, finding two Ogre Demons standing guard at the entrance. 

"Who are you?" asked one of the guards. 

"I am Ong."

"What is your business here?"

"I wish to speak with the queen to learn more about this place's history," Said Ong. 

The Ogre Demon asked him what organization he belonged to and Ong replied that he didn't have one, but had travelled with the Golden Way. 

"I cannot give you an audience with the Queen," Said the Ogre Demon. "You can speak with one of her officials."

As the Ogre Demon began discussing the required donations, Min began to consider the difficulty that Ogre Demons presented. She was knowledgeable in lore and realized these rare creatures were particularly deadly to anyone who cultivates Qi. 

The Ogre Demon told Ong that it would cost him the equivalent of 2,000 spades to arrange a meeting with an official. Ong told him he couldn't afford it and the Ogre Demon replied that he couldn't possibly be an important enough person then to speak with one of the Queen's officials. As the conversation wore on, Ong found himself feeling queasy and weak in the presence of the Ogre Demons. 

"Is the queen an Ogre Demon like you?"

"I will pretend I did not hear you utter those words," said the Ogre Demon. 

Ong began walking away, but heard the two Ogre Demons chuckling as he left. 

"What's so funny?" He asked. 

"Nothing is funny," said the Ogre Demon. "We were just talking."

"Simple things amuse simple people or simple things in this case," Said Ong. 

The eight foot tall Ogre Demon strode forward and said "I find your words very insulting."

"I am man of no importance remember?"

"No, no, no" Said the Ogre Demon. "I may be able to get you that audience with the queen after all". And with that the Ogres tried to grab him, leading to a brawl. 

Both Min and Ong found the Ogre Demons difficult to strike. None of their initial blows landed and Min shouted a warning to Ong that the creatures were too dangerous for them. 

In the melee they fled, and eventually managed to escape into the hills. 

Later, Min snuck back, disguised in new clothing and using Stealth of the Spider Demon, to stalk the grounds of the palace. Inside she found two great halls. The left hall was a reception area for the king, who sat upon a map with his legs crossed and tended to matters of state attended only by men. The right hall was a reception area for the Queen, attended only by women. She found a room here with a pool and blood stains. Sneaking around, Min found stairs leading into a barred cells. The stairs were guarded by an Ogre Demon, but sneaking past him was no great difficulty for her. 

In one of the cells she found a muscles man with long white hair and no shirt, meditating in while reciting a sutra. She could see that he was wounded. 

Min spoke to the man in the cell. "How did you come here?"

"That demoness put me here," he said. 

"That queen?"

"She is a Bone Demon."

"And she locked you here?"

"Yes."

"Are you familiar with used to rule before her?"

"I have heard stories that the previous ruler's throne was stolen by the Bone Demon. And that the Bone Demon stole her King as well."

"And the husband, the king, he didn't care?" Asked Min. 

"I believe the husband was part of the plot against the previous queen and welcomed the Bone Demon. She is a very attractive, while the previous queen is a giant with three eyes...and the king is a shallow man."

"You look strong enough to break out yourself, why haven't you left?"

"I have been recuperating from my injuries and have been resting for two days."

"I have a friend who may be working toward the same goal as you," Said Min. 

"Is your friend virtuous?"

"The Bone Demon feeds on the virtuous. The more righteous the person, the more life she can drink from them."

DEE
Shen Chun had returned to Dee and went to speak with Ritual Master Gao of the Holy Killers. He brought Jade Priestess and Xiaomin with him. 

Ritual Master Gao had two golden hammers and said "Let us speak of this alliance."

"We have one issue," Said Shen Chun. "The alliance will be strong and powerful but I believe the Iron Kings are moving to tell Thundering Guan of our plans."

"Do you have proof of this?"

"I have witnesses," Shen Chun replied. 

"If you can bring me two witnesses then I shall have no choice but to take action against them," said Ritual Master Gao. 

"I will have them brought to you before the banquet tonight," said Shen Chun. "Also I have a method I can use to make the Iron Kings my willing slaves. This way we can avoid a direct fight."

"What is this method?"

"It is a venom that my wife has given to me?"

"If this venom is so effective and can turn anyone into your willing servant, what assurances do I have that you won't use it on me?" Ritual Master Gao asked. 

They debated the dangers Shen Chun could pose and what his intentions with the venom were. Ultimately Shen Chun agreed to have a member of his sect stay as a guest of the Holy Killers to prove his good intentions. He decided to have Dim-Witted Chen go to stay at the temple. 

From there Shen Chun went to Vermillion Sword sect to speak with their leader, Vermillion Sword. 

He told Vermillion Sword of his intentions to poison the Iron Kings and told him the same story he gave to Ritual Master Gao. 

"If you feel they are not trustworthy, take what steps you feel are needed."

"Once this alliance is solid," said Shen Chun. "Do you have a special approach you think would help get rid of Thundering Guan?"

"Have you ever heard of the God-Killing Blade?"

"No."

"Your arrangement with the Holy Killers may work to our benefit here," said Vermillion Sword. "I believe they are guarding a gateway that could lead us to this God-Killing Sword. Perhaps we can use your disciple, Dim-Witted Chen, to force an entrance."

"Are you saying we need the God-Killing Blade to get rid of Thundering Guan?"

"Possibly. I believe that it was fated for us to meet and that you are to play an important role in helping me acquire this weapon. And if I can gain this weapon, then I have no further need of my territory in Dee. I will give this to you."

"What are you planning on doing with the blade?"

"I plan on using it," said Vermillion Sword. 

"To do what?"

"To kill a god."

"Which god?"

"The Dutiful Empress."

At this point Shen Chun realized that his wife had the Dutiful Empress' heart. 

"I do not believe the Dutiful Empress is alive," Said Shen Chun. "How can you kill her?"

"When her heart and jade body are rejoined, she will be restored," said Vermillion Sword. 

"But I have the jade and the heart."

"But you won't always have them."

"If you do not wish to lose them, then you will need the God-Killing Blade."

"Do you think we need this before we deal with Thundering Guan?" Said Shen Chun.

"I am only here to acquire the God-Killing Blade and have been waiting some time for you to arrive for this to occur."

"My disciple who is staying there is not the most intelligent man."

"That is prefect because no one will suspect him," Said Vermillion Sword. "I have a suggestion. When you gain control of the Iron Kings tonight, let's all attack the Holy Killers, then I can break through the gate beneath the temple."












Thursday, March 16, 2017

THE EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER REVIEW

Just a reminder that I've started a Bedrock Podcast channel and have been doing most of my movie reviews there. My latest review is of Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. This movie has great action sequences and a lot of emotional weight. I highly recommend it: 



But I also recently reviewed Terra-cotta Warrior, an interesting fish-out-of water movie about a Qin Dynasty chamberlain who is imprisoned in a tomb and awakens in the 1930s: 




I did a review of A Chinese Odyssey Part Three, which I was a lot less impressed with. However it reminded me how great the original movies were: 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CITY OF DEE SESSION TWO: THE DEVOURER OF DEMONIC RED ELEPHANTS

Last week Red Mantis and Flying Dagger arrived in Dee and explored the city. It was a place ruled by crime lords and powerful, but less than honorable, martial sects. They ended up at the headquarters of the Four Iron Kings seeking to ally themselves with worthy heroes. Their position was secured when Red Mantis boasted to Iron King Yao Yun that he was the great devourer of demonic wasps and they put on a display of their kung fu. It was unclear if the Iron King Believed him but was truly impressed with their abilities and made them his Iron Champions, giving them a residence in the north of the city and 15 men, including a sub chief named Iron Hero Meng. He then explained that they were warring with a group called the firestick gang, who had recently taken one of their granaries. He wanted them to get the granary back and make fire stick pay for their transgression.

What unfolded was a truly astounding sequence of events, involving the explosion and collapse of the Red Mist Inn (the Fire Stick unofficial headquarters), the beheading of one of the Fire Stick Bao Chiefs and utter chaos in the Kushen district. Flying Dagger even rescued a kindly merchant from Naqan named Khaldun. But these events are not the focus of this session log.

When the party returned to their district they noticed a deep, cherry red fog, filling their western bao (a kind of ward). They had noticed this before but ignored it so they could focus on their fight with the Firestick Gang. They were concerned but first reported to Iron King Yao Yun and presented the head of the bao chief they had killed.

He was much pleased and rewarded Flying Dagger with fifty silver taels for his exceptional efforts (he was responsible for the collapse of the Red Mists Inn). He also rewarded Iron Hero Meng (who beheaded the bao chief).

They went and investigated the fog. It enclosed the entire bao, including one of their granaries. At the edge they saw people screaming and found several dead bodies, each with deep puncture wounds. Occasionally they would find someone with a crushed leg.

First they sent in a chicken. It was unaffected by the mist, but startled by something inside. Red Mantis told his men to roast the chicken for later.

Flying Dagger then explored the mist. They were too heavy and obscured his vision. But he found a couple hiding in their home. They claimed an angry god was killing people in the streets. Through the ruby mists he heard a powerful, horn-like wail. 

Upon hearing the sound, Red Mantis announced that it sounded like an incredibly big demonic elephant.  

Flying Dagger returned to Red Mantis. They left the men outside and went in together.

As they stumbled through the mists, they saw a massive shape charging toward them. It was an thirty foot tall elephant with rose-colored flesh and two curled, black tusks. As it breathed, the creature exhaled plumes of red mists. 

Flying Dagger leapt onto a roof and tore open a fire stick, preparing to throw the divine powder at the elephant as it passed. Red Mantis stood in the center of the road and awaited its inevitable charge. 

The giant red elephant thundered forward and Red Mantis leapt into an alley way. Flying Dagger dusted the beast in Divine Powder while Red Mantis lit a firestick and threw it at the elephant, causing it to ignite. 

The elephant twisted and flew into the air, shaping itself into woman with flaming red hair and a golden cudgel. She landed near Flying Dagger swinging her cudgel but missing. Flying Dagger used Weapon Stride to clammer along the cudgel and strike her with his dagger (which slid uselessly along her skin). 

Flying Dagger drifted to the street and the woman followed bringing her cudgel down upon them both. Flying Dagger tried to use turn of the Zhen Bird but her attack looped back around and cracked his chest with the power of a charging elephant causing him to stagger back. Her attack missed Red Mantis. 

Red Mantis used Grasp of the Mantis to dig his fingers into her sides and restrain her (making it easier for Flying Dagger to strike her with his coming attack). 

Flying Dagger dove in with Biting Blade and sunk his dagger deep into her chest. 

Furious, the woman transformed into a massive elephant once again. Red Mantis found himself latched onto the back of the giant red elephant. 

The elephant reared and tried to stomp Flying Dagger. As the mighty foot came crashing down, he leapt onto her leg and stumbled up to turn her into Red Mantis' arms so he could twist her in a counter. 

Red Mantis climbed up further and used Clasp of the Mantis on her neck, digging his fingers into her like pincers. 

Flying Dagger used Biting Blade once again and his dagger found its target. Blood began to spill into the streets. 

The elephant once again shifted into the shape of a woman and swing at both of them with her golden cudgel. Her attack struck Flying Dagger in the chest, sending him back with a smash. 

Red Mantis used Hand Conquers Heaven, Foot Conquers Earth to counter bring the mighty elephant crashing down to the street. He swept her to the ground. 

As she tried to get up, Red Mantis burned her with two fire sticks and she burst into flames screaming. Flying Dagger stabbed her with his dagger. She screamed again, and exposed into a vermillion spray, which Red Mantis breathed in. All the red mist absorbed into single point forming a swirling vortex vortex leaving a rattling golden cudgel with red swirls along its surface. Red Mantis attempted to grip it, but it burned his skin so he put it down. 

They summoned their Iron Heroes as a crowd formed around them. Iron Hero Leng grabbed some tongs from a nearby smith and picked up the cudgel for Red Mantis. 

Red Mantis told him to have it placed in a box to bring to Iron King Yao Yun. They went back to Flying Mantis Manor (their residence in the city). 

As they returned the Bao Chief arrived and bowed before Red Mantis. He thanked Red Mantis for defeating the demonic elephant and presented him with evidence that he believed was the cause of the creature's arrival. Pulling out crushed glass wrapped in cloth, he said people witnessed a man throw a glass sphere into the ground moments before the mists arose. 

Red Mantis took the shards and thanked the Bao Chief who returns to his bao. Examining the shards he noticed residual red powder still clinging to the glass. 

They recuperated for the night but Red Mantis gathered the men while Flying Dagger slept off his wounds. They raised their cups and drank into early morning. 

In the morning, Red Mantis awoke to the sound of a gong and one his men saying "One of the Iron Kings is asking to see you."

Red Mantis summoned the men, told them to form a disciplined line and waited for the Iron King. 

The man who entered was Iron King Yao Kang, who was large and slightly overweight. 

Iron King Yao Kang inspected each of Red Mantis' men, sniffing as he passed. 

"Have your men been drinking?" He asked. 

"Yes." he said then delivered a full report on their recent activities. He highlighted the destruction of the inn and their conquest of the red elephant. He then showed Yao Kang the shattered glass and the cudgel. 

Yao Kang examined the glass. "What is your name again?"

"Red Mantis"

"Oddly coincidental that you destroyed an inn and then killed a giant demonic elephant. An awful lot of heroics for two days. How do I know you didn't this yourself as a deception?"

"Have you heard of the House of Paper Shadows?"

"Yes I've heard you destroyed the House of Paper Shadows as well."

Red Mantis then explained how they defeated the House of Paper Shadows. 

"Naturally I am suspicious and will have to investigate this matter," said Yao Kang. "Nice to meet you." Then he left. 

Worried that Yao Kang was going to undermine them, they went immediately to Iron King Yao Yun and presented the cudgel. They also informed them of their heroics against the elephant and promised to investigate the cause of its appearance. 

Yao Yun was very pleased and told them to remain for food and wine. He brought out a large object hidden beneath a cloth and heard more details about the elephant. When it was over he unveiled the cloth, revealing a guzheng. 

"This is the Guzheng of Ni Chang, who played it so beautifully that Supreme Judge Yu shed a tear. I give it to you as a gift."

Red Mantis thanked him but confessed he didn't know how to play. 

"I will send Lady Ji Luan to play it for you," he said. 

He escorted them out and introduced them to Lady Ji Luan. They were somewhat suspicious of her so asked her questions about her background. They learned she was from Xuanlu and dedicated entirely her craft. 

They returned to the residence and Red Mantis had the guzheng placed the courtyard. Flying Dagger hired men to make a pavilion for it in the garden. 

Red Mantis asked Lady Ji to compose a song about about a wasp devouring mantis who defeated a demonic elephant. She took a moment and played a song she called Red Dreams of the Lucid Mantis which moved him greatly. 

After this they followed a lead to the Temple of A'zhu and went to the Pavilion of Spirit. There they found a chamber filled with orbs radiating deep red. 

They spoke with the priest in charge of the pavilion, telling him about the elephant. He said that it sounded like Lady Xiang, the daughter of Lord Demon Horn, who they had contained in an orb. She was stolen a few days ago. 

They learned that the man suspected it was stolen by a guest of the temple, sent by vermillion sword sect, named Dim-Witted Chen. They offered to return the cudgel to the temple and he allowed them to go to the temple of Mind to ask a question. They also vowed to track down Dim-Witted Chen. 

In the temple of Mind they saw heads suspended from the ceiling. Another priest was in charge and told them they could ask any of the heads, all men and women from key moments in history, a question. 

Red Mantis spotted the head of Killer Wu, a demonic looking creature and asked "Is there someone who can teach me to devour demons?"

"The Devouring Queen of Lebdek" he said. 

This is where the session ended.