This is an entry on the Blood-Stained Roads Table. You can see the main table HERE.
HEAD IN A BOX
This adventure hook could be a brief encounter along a road and through the hills, or it could lead on a wild hunt for a lost body at the bottom of a ravine. The players encounter an agitated swordsman. He has a sword slung over his shoulder and in his left hand he holds a rope suspending a square box. Inside the box is a severed head, but the players do not know this. The players may discover the content of the box, and if they do, the head eventually speaks and begs them to find its body so it can be laid to rest. This is partly true. This is a headless ghost and it merely wants to devour the players and get revenge against the swordsman who killed him.
THE AGITATED SWORDMAN
The players see a swordsman carrying a square box suspended from a rope. This is Feng Liu, a once righteous hero who has committed many dark deeds in his quest for revenge. He has just come from killing his sworn enemy, Ouyang Chun. Ouyang Chun killed his wife, Lin, and brother because he thought they had the Swan Killing Manual. In truth the two did have it, and were secretly part of a dark sect, and hid it away in an abandoned temple. The box contains Chun’s head and it has slowly driven Feng Liu to the brink of insanity with its chattering. However as the PCs approach, Feng Liu has persuaded it to remain quiet.
How things unfold depend very much on what the players do. Feng Liu is clearly eager to pass by without incident, and will expend a modicum of politeness. But on a Successful Empathy roll his agitation is clear (he clutches the rope intensely and his eyes have a look of alarm in them). If the players ask what is in the box, he just says it contains some fragrance.
Ouyang Chun also has his own agenda. He wishes to re-unite his body and head. To do that, he hopes to convince someone along the road to take him back. He may simply wait for a fight to unfold between Feng Liu and the PCs, hoping their natural curiosity leads them to look in the box. However if that doesn’t happen, and he senses that the PCs are the sort of people who can be persuaded to take a head to a ravine in the wilderness, he will begin speaking very loudly, pleading for help.
Ouyang Chun is cunning. Once he has the player’s attention, and once they realize the voice is coming from the box, he calls Feng Liu a murderer and says he can reward them with riches if they get the box from him and help him with a small task.
If Ouyang begins speaking, Feng Liu either tries to run away or fight the PCs (whatever seems like the best tactical choice).
In the aftermath, if Ouyang Chun has a moment to speak freely to the players, he tells them that his head was taken from his body and he won’t be able to rest until they are re-united. He tells them where the ravine is that his body fell into. He has no intention of ending his ghostly state, but he needs someone to get his head to his body so it can feed.
Feng Liu surprised Ouyang Chun on the road, cut his head off and kicked his body into a ravine. He took the head with him and left the body behind. After the attack, Ouyang awakened as a Headless Ghost, and desperately wants to rejoin his head with his body. He also has some items of personal interest he’d like to accomplish.
As Feng Liu made his way home, the head in the box began to speak. It became incessant, describing the killing of Feng Liu’s wife and brother in graphic detail. This has drive Feng Liu to madness. He just wants to get home and burn the head near his wife’s shrine.
Feng Liu is intense and easily angered. He was once much gentler but changed when his wife (Feng Lin) and brother (Feng Cao) were murdered by Ouyang Chun (who believed they were hiding something he had never heard of called the Swan Killing Manual). When he returned home that night he found their bodies and Ouyang Chun grabbed him and demanded to know the location of the Swan Killing Manual. Feng Liu didn’t know the answer, so Ouyang Chun left, saying he was sorry but he had to rid the world of the two evils.
He never understood why Ouyang thought they had the Swan Killing Manual, nor did he care, he only wanted revenge. His only goal for the past five years has been to take the head of Ouyang Chun and burn it before his wife’s shrine. He found a sifu and trained so he could beat Ouyang Chun. He is a sculptor and artisan by trade and was once the owner of Feng Stone Carvers.
Unknown to Feng Liu, his wife and brother were both part of a wicked sect called the Locusts of the Ghostly Emperor.
Defenses: Hardiness 6, Evade 6, Parry 8, Stealth 6, Wits 6, Resolve 6
Key Skills: Grapple: 2d10, Throw: 1d10, Arm Strike: 3d10, Leg Strike: 1d10, Light Melee: 2d10, Medium Melee: 3d10 or 5d10 (Jian), Heavy Melee: 2d10, Small Ranged: 1d10, Meditation: 3d10, Medicine: 2d10, Speed: 2d10, Muscle: 2d10, Athletics: 2d10, Command: 1d10, Trade (Wood): 2d10, Trade (Stone): 3d10, Survival (Hills): 3d10, Survival (Wilderness): 2d10, Institutions (Societies): 2d10
Max Wounds: 9
Weapons: Jian (3d10 Damage, +2d10 Accuracy)
Key Kung Fu Techniques (Waijia 1, Qinggong 1, Neigong 1, Dianxue 1): Blasting Blade, Breath of Fury, Drift of the Butterfly Fish, Eight Divine Snakes, Flight of the Hawk, Hands of the Hawk Beak, Triple Sword Strike, Iron Spirit Reversal (Counter), Weapons Stride (Counter), Whirling Dodge (Counter)
Triple Sword Strike: You stab forward, arc back and stab another target then slice in a horizontal spin to strike a total of three targets in your immediate area. Roll Medium Melee against Parry. On a Success you do Normal Damage. Cathartic: On a Success you do normal damage plus 1 Extra Wound.
Dispersing Blade (Counter): You strike in a rapid swirl of the sword to deflect in-coming projectiles and even send them back at the target. Make a Medium Melee roll against the attack roll. On a Success you deflect incoming projectiles harmlessly to the ground. Cathartic: On a Success you send the projectile(s) back at the target for 3d10 Damage each (use your roll against the Target’s Evade to see if you hit).
The Ravine is 70 feet deep and difficult to climb into safely. It requires Athletics Rolls TN 7 to get down without falling (or Kung Fu Techniques that enable leaping and flight). At the bottom is Ouyang Chun’s body and his Jian sword. When the players bring the head here, it flies toward the body and the two re-unite, then seek to feed on the players. However, Ouyang can be reasoned with, and it is possible to avoid violence (since he still needs help accomplishing things).
Ouyang Chun is a headless ghost (or Wu Tuo Gui) who retains his martial abilities from life. He has been corrupted by the transition into being a headless ghost. But before Feng Liu killed him, he was a righteous man. He was sent by his master to recover the Swan Killing Manual, a book possessed by a wicked martial sect called the Locusts of the Ghostly Emperor.
Ouyang Chun had one true love in his life: One-Armed Fiery Demon. The love was unreciprocated. She was his Sifu and could not return his affection. He accepted this and left to wander, finding consolation in helping protect the weak from the strong. Before he left, she told him to stop the growing threat of the Locusts of the Ghostly Emperor.
All he wants now is to restore his head to his body and feed. He will attack anyone who comes to the ravine but he can be reasoned with. He still has love for One-Armed Fiery Demon and he still desires to purge the world of the Locusts of the Ghostly Emperor. These can be used to persuade him away from violent confrontation, perhaps even being laid to rest.
Defenses: Hardiness 8, Evade 6, Parry 7, Stealth 7, Wits 5, Resolve 10
Key Skills: Arm Strike: 2d10 (Damage 3d10), Grapple: 2d10, Medium Melee: 2d10 or 4d10 with Jian, Speed: 3d10, Detect: 2d10, Muscle: 3d10, Ritual (Song of Gu): 1d10, Ritual (Ancestor Veneration): 2d10
Max Wounds: 19
Equipment: Jian (4d10 Damage, +2d10 Accuracy)
Key Techniques (Waijia 2, Qinggong 1, Neigong 1): Blasting Blade, Spinning Steel, Stern Rebuke of Heiping (Counter), Weapon Stride (Counter)
Life Drain: If Ouyang Chun strikes and Damages a foe with his arm strike he drains 1 Point of Hardiness which comes back at a rate of 1 per hour.
Vacuous Gaze: The gaze of Ouyang Chun is haunting and pulls people’s focus with hypnotic effect. If he stares at a person for one full round, roll 3d10 against the target’s resolve. On a Success the target loses a Move that turn due to being drawn by the gaze. On a Total Success the target loses all actions that turn.
Immunities: Ouyang Chun, being a Headless Ghost, is immune to mundane attacks and non-energy based Kung Fu attacks. He is harmed by attacks that use Qi energy, fire or magic. He is particularly vulnerable to roses and takes 2 automatic wounds when he comes into contact with them.
THE SWAN KILLING MANUAL
This book is both a Kung Fu manual and a philosophical text. It claims that by killing beauty, in nature, humanity, and among the animals, one can attract the attention of the Ghostly Emperor. It contains the following Kung Fu Techniques: Swan Taming Strike, Sword Whipping Strike and Swan Killing Strike.
SWAN KILLING STRIKE (EVIL)
Skill: Any Melee against Parry
This horrible technique is used to peel off a person’s face with a single strike of the sword.
Make a Medium Melee attack roll against Parry at a -1d10 Penalty. On a Success you merely graze the target for normal damage. On a Total Success, you permanently scar the person’s face and do 1 Extra wound.
Cathartic: On a Success you do 1 Extra Wound and leave a long scar on the person’s face. On a Total Success you slice off the person’s face, leaving them permanently disfigured and doing 3 Extra wounds.
THE LOCUSTS OF THE GHOSTLY EMPEROR
This is a small society of martial experts and cultivators, who are seeking to contact an entity known as the Ghostly Emperor. The Locusts have very little real understanding of him. They know he is a supernatural being with access to magical objects and that he can appear in stone or wood. They believe that if they kill enough people using the techniques of the Swan Killing Manual, they will summon him. This is not true, but it has kept them busy with all kinds of wicked deeds.