Monday, March 28, 2016


This was the first session of a profound level campaign featuring Mount Zun sect. This was a short one-player session. My computer is in the shop, so this is written on an iPad, which caused a number of formatting issues. I apology for any of these and for any typos.

Zhaofeng Yu: A junior disciple of Mount Zun Sect.

Zhaofeng Yu was summoned to the hall of Sunan to meet with the Immortal Master, Gaozi. Gaozi told him they had received an emergency message from Heiping Temple, human allies in the Banyan region. Heiping Temple controlled a lake valley and fishing village but recently something had gone wrong. Gaozi was not clear on the details but asked Yu to look into the matter.

When Yu arrived he found a village in complete darkness and not illuminated by candles or lamps. Approaching the fishing village he saw dozens of Jiangshi (hopping vampires) crowding around a house. Taking out a paper Fu Talisman of Friendly Disposition, he slapped it on one of the Jianghsi's foreheads and led it to the forest. He asked to for information. "Blood! Blood!" It replied.

Thinking that feeding it might get the creature to talk, Yu hunted in the woods and caught a small rabbit, which he fed to it. He asked the creature for information again. "Blood! Blood!" It respond.

Realizing this approach would not work, Yu went to the woods and hunted for bigger game, finding a bear and killing it. He brought it out and dropped it before the group of Jiangshi surrounding a house. When they moved to feed on it, he helped the woman inside to escape.

He asked her to take him to Heiping Temple but when they got there they discovered it was surrounded by hundreds of Jiangshi. He asked if there was another entrance eand the woman said  there was a rear mountain entrance about half a day away.

They travelled to the other side of the cliffs and climbed to a narrow entrance with a locked doorway, which the woman pick open. This led to a long tunnel filled with traps (which Yu was able to spot and avoid) and finally to another door, with sounds of conversation coming from the other side.

Yu knocked on the door and announced he was sent from Mount Zun. A woman opened the door revealing a hall with members of Heiping Sect crowded around Queen Lu Zhi (their leader). He spoke with them and learned that the events had started four days earlier after a star fell from heaven into the Liyu Lake. Then the dead rose as Jiangshi but many of the living turned into them as well.

Yu said he would investigate the lake and asked if she could spare any knowledgeable disciples to help. Queen Lu Zhi sent Abbess Qui Pei with him. At the lake Yu and the abbess took a small boat
out to the Lake's center. Looking into the waters they saw a green glow coming from the floor of the lake. As they did so, a mammoth arm-like apengage rose from beneath the surface and attacked. It was formed from a cluster of rotting corpses and it ended in a tooth filled maw rather than a hand. As it attacked, Yu used his tattoo of the water dragon to create an air pocket for him and the Abbess to ride down to the bottom of the lake. The maw crashed through the bubble and missed Yu with its teeth. From here they saw that the arm connected to an amorphous creature resting by the glow. Like the arm itself, the entity was comprised of rotting tissue.

Using a Stride Technique, Yu teleported to the glow and, seeing it was a triangular piece of metal radiating light, grabbed it. He then teleported back to the bubble, but the maw struck once again, sending Abbess Pei out into the waters with a sickening crack. Yu retrieved her limp body and surfaced by the shore.

With his knowledge of magic and the spirit world, Yu understood that the glow was the source of the havoc in Heiping and realized it needed to be contained to stop the carnage. However the creature from below the lake clambered to the edge of the village and crushed a house. Before it could wreak further devastation Yu slapped a paper Talisman on its flesh and commanded it to stop, which it did. He then used that moment to perform a spirit keeping ritual and contain the energy in the metal triangle.

After that he brought the abbess to Queen Lu Zhi, and he returned to Mount Zun with the object. At Mount Zun master Gaozi sealed the triangle in a ball of re energy and told him to secure the triangle in the reliquary. He then told him that the object was a fragment of a spear belonging to Yao Yun, God of the southern sea.

After three days of rest, Yu was instructed to take a group of disciples and investigate the Yao Yun Sea.

Friday, March 25, 2016


We started our first session of a new Profound Masters campaign for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate recently (session log is HERE). All characters in Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate have power levels expressed in Qi ranks (which span from 1-24). The core rule book is mostly focused on Qi ranks 1-6 (which are the levels that represent the more standard wuxia). It includes rules on the higher levels (and includes some characters beyond Qi rank 6) but the focus is on wuxia. Ranks 7-24 deal with Profound Masters and Immortals. There is more emphasis on fantasy and mythic elements at the higher levels. We are working on a future supplement called Profound Masters of Ogre Gate that will give more robust support for these higher levels and include a lot more setting information on Immortal Sects, locations and magical items. 

Just to give a bit of context, characters that are Qi rank 1-6 represent the kinds of figures you might see in a typical wuxia movie or drama. New martial heroes just setting out on their first adventure would be QI rank 1 while a Qi rank 6 character would be one of the few great Kung Fu masters in the world, able to do extraordinary things that border on the supernatural (like summoning phantom swords to slice their foes at a distance). My Secret of Zhe Valley Campaign (most recent session log HERE), is an example of characters advancing from Qi ranks 1-6. Generally speaking if player characters earn full XP every session and the group plays weekly, they should advance to Qi rank 6 in about a year. 

Characters who reach Qi rank 6, are exceptional in the world. This is pinnacle of earthly Kung Fu and to go beyond it they must achieve some deep insight or learn from powerful groups like Immortals (with the aim of eventually becoming immortals themselves). This naturally means campaigns tend to shift from the realms of mankind to the remote mountain peaks where ancient sects of immortals pass on their secret knowledge or to the dark and dangerous cave realms of the more sinister practitioners of high level Kung Fu. 

Qi levels take longer and longer to advance in however. Getting to Qi rank 7 is no easy feat. In a standard campaign it can take 2 years or more to reach it. Once players reach this level of power the supernatural elements of the setting, which have always been present, really become obvious to them. In part this is because Qi advancement represents the increasing internal cultivation of the character. So they are simply more aware of their own abilities. Every character has a Karma rating but prior to Qi 7, only the GM knows what everyone's Karma rating is. After Qi rank 7, they can sense their own Karma.

Essentially at Qi rank 7, the game starts to emulate martial arts fantasy and myth sources more. Whereas the earlier levels feel more like House of Flying Daggers and Legend of Condor Heroes, the later levels are more like Mount Zu, Journey of Flower and Journey to the West. To emulate some of the tropes in Immortal and Fantasy series, there is a distinction between those on a path to immortality and those on a corruptive path (usually just called Demon Heroes). The basic difference is immortals abide by the principles of Heaven and the Enlightened Goddess. They eschew Evil Techniques and live righteously. The Demon Heroes will dabble in Evil Kung Fu (often resulting in great changes to their bodies and mind) and in dangerous Qi Rituals (Immortals can use Qi Rituals too but tend to avoid the more nefarious magic). 

The Profound Masters of Ogre Gate book will a complete listing of new Profound Techniques, Qi Rituals, Celestial Weapons, Evil Techniques, Immortal Powers and Insights, as well as the geography of the immortal world, immortal sects, NPCs, and general clarification of the rules for Profound and Immortal level play. 

We plan to devote a year of time to completing Profound Masters of Ogre Gate (in the meantime we will release an adventure and PDF setting supplements). I want to develop the book in the course of two live campaigns (this is an approach I just finds works best for us). We do individual playlists too but those really do not find the wrinkles that emerge in the course of a natural campaign. And things that sometimes seem to be a wrinkle in a single isolated playtest, prove not to be so in the context of a regularly meeting game group. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


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

I am running two campaigns in the same setting and treating them as occurring in different realities with some vague similarities. Characters in one may appear in the other, but there are no direct causal effects from one campaign to the next. Partly this is to playtest, but this is also partly due to the multi-dimensional aspect of the universe I run all my games in. It would theoretically be possible for the party from the Blood of the Demon Moon cult campaign to dimension travel to the Secret of Je Valley Campaign, in which case direct interactions could occur (and they could even meet their counterparts in the alternate dimension).  


Player Characters
Zhang Wan (Bone Breaker): An unpredictable and violent martial expert who is the brother of Zhang San. First chief of Qui Pan Bandits. Married to Huo Ju (Little Venom)
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.

The part had just been ambushed by Abbot Song, a heavenly demon who wanted his magic chalice back (which the player characters had stolen from him). He threatened to eat them if they didn't return the object immediately. 

Bone Breaker spoke at length with Abbot Song, convincing him that if he killed them, the whereabouts of the chalice would never be known. However if he was willing to wait one or two months, he promised to return it. 

Initially Abbot Song still wanted to eat the group, but was worried he would never find his chalice again so he agreed to the terms, saying he would track them down and kill them at the end of the two month period. 

The group continued on, and made their way deeper into the jungles of southern lands. They eventually came to the Flower Fruit Cavern (Compassionate Monkey's homeland) and moved into the heavily forested valley. There they encountered two giant flying crocodiles. Jade Priestess was wounded in the battle but they managed to destroy them with the Thunder Kick of the Zhang Twins. 

During the night, Bone Breaker sent a message to One Armed Fiery Demon in her dreams, instructing her to bring everyone south to meet him in Dhamma. She seemed to understand and suggested in might take 6 days. 

Continuing on they spotted monkeys peaking at them through the trees. Bone Breaker said he came on behalf of Compassionate Monkey and had a seal to prove it. A monkey peered through the leaves, then stepped forward and asked for details. 

Bone Breaker showed his seal and said that he was to retrieve Compassionate Monkey's Heavenly Pills. The monkey lead them to a spot in the forest where the pills were buried and they dug them up. They found sixteen pills in a lacquered case and everyone (Lady Plum Blossom, Jade Priestess, Bone Breaker, San and Chen) all had two. Everything went black and Bone Breaker woke up alone in the same spot in the forest. 

He felt more powerful than before. His body surged with strength and his mind felt unbounded (this was the effect of the pills which increased his Qi by 2 ranks). 

He walked around and eventually found a monkey who told him that the group had been kidnapped by Lord Demon Horn and hit men while they slept. They had intended to take everyone but a group of Flying Crocodiles attacked them and they retreated. According to the monkey, at least five days had passed since he took the pill. 

The Monkey Explained that Lord Demon Horn was a massive spirited beast who took over the valley after Compassionate Monkey had left. He enslaved the monkeys and forced them to look for the Heavenly Pills. They knew where they were but feigned ignorance out of loyalty to Compassionate Monkey. Bone Breaker told the monkey to come with him to find his other allies, then help show him the way to Lord Demon Horn. 

They ventures back out of the Flower Fruit Cavern Valley and found One-Armed Fiery Demon. She had all his men, and they went with the monkey to face Lord Demon Horn. 

At the entrance of his palace, which was really just a cave opening in the side of the valley guarded by two Buffalo Demons, Bone Breaker demanded that Lord Demon Horn Show himself. Eventually a 30 foot tall creature with the head of a bird and nose of a Rhino stepped out. He was dressed in bulky black robes, wore a gold crown and held a golden cudgel in his hand. 

He laughed when Bone Breaker demanded the release of his friends. Then let out a roar that hurled all of Bone Breaker's men into the air, causing them to crash thirty feet from where they had stood. 

Lord Demon Horn boasted that he'd already eaten one of Bone Breaker's companions. But said he would release them if he could defeat him in single combat. Bone Breaker said he'd agree if Lord Demon Horn released his sister so they could face him together (given the size difference this was only fair). 

Lord Demon Horn released San, who informed Bone Breaker that no one had actually been eaten. Then they advanced to face Lord Demon Horn. 

This is where the session ended. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Lately I've been trying to inject a little more randomness into my investigative adventures. This started when we did Beneath the Banshee Tree and I have dabbled with some other options anytime an investigation comes up in one of my campaigns. 

I just started our campaign for Profound Masters of Ogre Gate (you can see the session log HERE) and decided to do a mystery for the starter session. At a later point I will post all my notes for that adventure, but for right now I will limit myself to the random Ongoing Attacks tables I used. 

These are slightly imperfect but the idea is, the players arrive in a city following rumors of 3 murders. When they get there, two more have already occurred (one of the victims being the person who summoned them in the first place). The murders and activities of those behind them continue, with me rolling randomly to determine when the next attack will be, who will be involved and who the they target. Because the players are moving around freely and investigating, I need to adapt to their actions. So in the first session the party almost immediately gathered together two potential victims and placed them into a warded room at the Phoenix Hour. The result I rolled on the chart was for Blue Kingfisher Demon to attack Magistrate Chengda at the hour of the Phoenix (and I have some details on the demon's plan elsewhere in my notes). Because of this, I had to adjust some of the details and have the demon react accordingly (you can see this in the session log as it comes up). 

These are my notes on the method. It was interesting but I will probably take a slightly different approach next time. I enjoyed not knowing exactly how things would play out, and having to play off the player's choices. I think this just needs a little more refinement and thought though. 

Check for these regularly. After each attack occurs roll again. This determines when the next one happens. So if the first happens in the Hour of the Horse, then you roll and the next one occurs in the Hour of the Butterfly, nearly a full day elapses between those attack.

Each hour varies in length from 80 to 120 minutes, with thirteen over the course of each day. The Dragon Hour is the first hour and begins at midnight.

These attacks/attempts are randomly determined. Some are planned in advance by the demons, so the general events will remain the same as described in the text. But the GM should adjust and alter them as he or she sees fit according to the particulars of the outcomes (for example if Brown Owl is involved in an attack, perhaps the GM decides he is more cautious than the others and ducks into an apothecary shop first instead of going straight for the sewer entrance).

Roll d100        Hour it Occurs
1-10                 Dragon
11-20               Butterfly
21-25               Monkey
26-30               Demon
31-35               Dog
36-40               Elephant
41-45               Horse
45-54               Phoenix
55-64               Bixie
65-74               Snake
75-84               Turtle
85-94               Owl
95-100             Emerald Monk

1-3       Blue Kingfisher Demon
4-7       Black Minivet Demons
8-9       Green Peafowl Demon
10        Brown Fish Owl Demon

1-2: Yao Family Pawn Broker
3-6:Magistrate Ouyang Chengda Residence I&II
7:Inspector Zhunxun
8-10: Random Heart Victim (roll 1d10, 1-3: 1 Victim, 4-6: 2 Victims, 7-8: 3 Victims, 9: 4 Victims, 5: 5 Victims)

These murders are products of the demons feeding and trying to heal. Anytime they occur the victims are randomly selected using the table below. They all occur in the same hour (potentially even at the same precise time as the demons enjoy harrowing the population and like to coordinate attacks). Each victim has had its heart pecked and eaten out, then left to bleed in the street. There is a 30% chance that each murder was witnessed. Most witnesses can describe a massive creature with a long mouth or beak. However they tend to embellish and add extra details.

Victim Sex (roll 1d10)
1-5: Male
6-10: Female

Victim Age
Roll 1d100 to determine age

Class (of parent if child)
1-3: Farmer
4-5: Artisan
7-8 Merchant
9: Scholar Official
10: Other

Roll 1d10
1-2       Trail of Blood to sewer entrance
3-4       A witness saw the demon in question, can describe in detail
4          A witness saw the demon talking to someone in an alley (could not see person), but the person was a man and asked if they’d found her yet.
5          A witness saw the demon talking to someone in an alley. He reprimanded the demon for letting hunger get the best of him. Also asked for news on the child.
6          A witness saw two demons talking, mentioned someone named Marauding Dragon
7          Witness saw two demons talking after the kill, like they were speaking at a dinner. One of them said he thinks Shanhu is the same one the master married
8          Witness saw the demon speaking with a rodent in the alley (witness is a drunk). The rodent, probably a rat, was told to go to The Hanging Valley of the Dead with the news.
9          A witness saw the demon, followed it to and witness it scoping out the grounds near Magistrate Ouyang Chengda’s house. Also he thinks there are Demon Hunters, but they paced a Demon Hiding Stone in the city to obscure their whereabouts.
10        A witness saw the demon speaking with a strange looking man with wild hair (Bai Zhun). Said that the child is at Magistrate Chengda’s (if already happened just explains the child has been taken from there).

Saturday, March 19, 2016


This is the first session of a new campaign for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. It is intended to play through the rules we are working on for the the supplement Profound Masters of Ogre Gate (in which player characters advance to the higher levels of Kung Fu and into Immortality). 

Phiphek: A Kithiri (many-ego humanoid) who travels with a fox demon named Mei Yun. Former member of Sun Mai sect. 
Merciful Shade: A masked hero who seeks to reform demons. Disciple of Ancient Gray Demon. 
Sentimental Ogre: A Juren (four-armed, ogre-like creature). Former member of Hen-Shi Sect. 
Joyous Jian: A martial hero seeking to fight demons
Little Turtle: An initiate into the Celestial Heart Sect and disciple of Long-Winded Master. 

A group of profound masters seeking to join Celestial Heart Sect traveled to Mount Dao in hopes of being given an audience. They were Phiphek, Merciful Shade, Sentimental Ogre, and Joyous Jian. The party had recently come together on the road, having a mutual interest in hunting demons and playing music. Aided by Merciful Shades shadow monkey (a tattoo enchantment that summoned a shadowy monkey guide) they found their way into the mountain. As they hiked up the lower portions of Mount Dao they heard the sounds of battle and saw the occasional glow of profound techniques lighting up the sky. 

Investigating they found a distraught man, named Little Turtle, who was kneeling at the body of someone who appeared to be his master. The person was clearly dead and had been cleaved by a heavy blade from shoulder to waist. A cart with two wheels and a strange box rested near them. On top of the box was a statue of Supreme Judge Yu. When Phiphek asked what had happened, Little Turtle lost control of his emotions as he described the event. The dead man was his Sifu, Long-Winded Master, and they had been on their way to the city of Tung-On for Little Turtle to perform a final task before being made an official student of Celestial Hear Sect. An enemy of the sect, Marauding Dragon, ambushed them and killed his master with a powerful sword strike. He then laughed at Little Turtle and told him to join Seven Blood Cave Alliance if he wanted to train under a true master. 

Little Turtle explained that Seven Blood Cave Alliance was an organization of evil sects led by Marauding Dragon (the chief of the supreme sect in the alliance: Marauding Plague Sect). They had a longstanding grudge against Celestial Heart Sect when one of their leaders defected to them. Since then he has hounded high ranking members of Celestial Heart to make examples of them. 

As Little Turtle was talking, the statue began to whirl and pointed fiercely at Phiphek. The statue could detect demons and Little Turtle demanded answers from Phiphek, who explained that he travelled with a fox demon and that he himself may have acquired some demonic essence. When the statue calmed, indicating that Phiphek and Mei Yun were probably not evil, Little Turtle resumed the discussion and brought them some tea from inside his cart. 

He said that his master had received a message from Headman Ma Lin of the city of Tung-on, who reported murders and the possible presence of demons (three victims so far with hearts plucked from their chest). The message mentioned concern for the local magistrate, whose wife had died a few months ago in child birth. Headman Ma Lin suspected there was a curse that connected the death with the murders. As his master had instructed him to find worthy students to join the sect, Little Turtle invited them to come with him to Tung-on, and said he would try to get them an audience at Celestial Heart Sect afterwards. 

Before leaving, Sentimental Ogre performed a spirit keeping ritual on Long-Winded Master. To his surprise the body dissipated into luminous sparks of light that ascended to the sky, leaving behind only a small fragment of bone (which Little Turtle kept). 

They approached the city of Tung-on and reached it in a day after traveling across plains. Crossing a large canal they found a city of 70,000 with signs of heavy trade. On their arrival, Little Turtle's cart statue of Supreme Judge Yu began to whirl without stop. This continued for the remainder of their time in the city and indicated that something was interfering with its magic. 

Going to Headman Ma Lin's residence they learned that he had died, murdered the previous evening at the hour of the Phoenix. His wife said he mentioned something about going to the outskirts of the city, but never came home. She confirmed that there were three victims, and informed them that one of them, Daibo, was their own servant who Headman Ma Lin had sent out on an assignment (he too died before he could finish). 

They decided to go to the local inspectors office and met with Inspector Zhunxun Shi, who was clearly at his wits end. He told them that not only had Headman Ma Lin been killed the previous night, but at the same time, Master Kuo, a local wheat merchant had also been killed. Ma Lin was found near a large watercock called the Tower of the Dragon Empress while Master Kuo had been found in his own home. 

They were told that he found a book on demons in Master Kuo's possession and that Master Kuo had recently sold a very expensive sword to Magistrate Ouyang Chengda. They were able to look at the bodies. Headman Ma Lin had his heart ripped out. Examining them the party suspected bird demons of some kind due to the claw marks. Master Kuo had merely had his throat ripped open and bled to death, but the claw marks were the same. 

Learning that the inspector had a witness, a beggar named Di Yaozu, held in a cell below, they went and spoke with the man. Di Yaozu was shaken but calming by the time the party arrived. He told them that he had been to a tomb outside the city with Headman Ma Lin (and that Headman Ma Lin had paid him 200 spades to assist him in the matter). The Headman looked like he was going to attempt to enter the tomb, but turned back and the two headed home. However as they were passing the Tower of the Dragon Empress, a giant creature "Like a dragon and an owl in one" swooped down and killed Headman Ma Lin. 

While Phiphek, Joyous Jian and Merciful Shade dealt with the inspector, Little Turtle and Sentimental Ogre went to the residence of Magistrate Ouyang Chengda. After an introduction they offered their services protecting him, and he agreed to let them stay at his home. They learned he had a young baby and had indeed been married but his wife died in child birth. 

The party got Di Yaozu released from his cell and he took them to the tombs to show them which one the Headman had been looking at. There they found a tomb dedicated to Shanhu wife of Ouyang Chengda. The epitaph explained she was once a martial hero but put down her sword when she married Chengda, vowing to only use it to defend the city or her family. 

Little Turtle lifted the stone door to the tomb and Merciful Shade walked inside. When she reached the lower level, she heard a sound and looked up to see a strange woman on the ceiling. The lady opened her mouth and black smoke filtered down to engulf Merciful Shade, filling her lungs with a cold and painful sensation (and doing tremendous damage as it did so). Phiphek used a fanning technique to disperse the smoke and the party rushed down to help. The creature appeared to be a phoenix ghost (something that occurs when there is a disruption between the Dragon and Phoenix spirits of the body). 

Little Turtle smashed her with his meteor hammer,bringing her to the ground. Sentimental Ogre leapt forward and whirled through the air, using his four arms to whack her again and again with maces. The ghost made another attack with her smoke, but this time Merciful Shade used Deflecting Canopy to protect the party. 

Eventually they stopped her with a combination of attacks and found that she had a glowing coin medallion on her neck. One side had the characters for "Seven Blood Cave Alliance", and the other had the character for "Dragon".

The party returned to the residence of Magistrate Chengda, finding the inspector there as well. Inspector Shi told them that he forgot to mention that both murders the previous night had occurred at exactly the same time, the moment of the Phoenix Hour. 

Phiphek and Merciful Shade went to Magistrate's chamber to inspect the area and the child. They found a room filled with antique swords, one of which was truly exceptional: The Sword of Time. Phiphek found a box beneath the bed with several seals belonging to the Seven Blood Cave Alliance. The child seemed healthy and without any visible signs of having a demonic nature. 

They asked Magistrate Chengda about the sword he bought. He explained he had purchased it from Master Kuo (who he believed had sold it in order to gain his favor). Master Kuo had originally bought it from the Yao Family Pawn Broker Shop in the south of the city. 

Noting that the Hour of the Phoenix was five hours away, they went to the Yao Family Pawn Broker Shop to ask Mr. Yao about the sword. He explained what he could. Little Turtle found a book on demons and purchased it. Mr. Yao expressed concern that the sword was related to the murder (since Master Kuo had had it before being killed). They offered to take Mr. Yao and his family (he had a wife and baby) with them to the magistrates house. 

Arriving at the magistrates before the Phoenix Hour, they decided to place Magistrate Changda, his son, Mr. Yao and his family, into a single room for the duration of the Phoenix Hour. Phiphek asked Mei Yun to help and create a ward on the door. She changed from her fox form into a humanoid form and made a seal of the thunder goddess above the doorway (any trying to pass would be struck by lightning). The seal kept in the family, Little Turtle and Joyous Jian (who joined them) and kept out any intruders, as well as the rest of the party. 

Sentimental Ogre stood guard before the door, while Phiphek and Merciful Shade patrolled the outside. They spotted something large fly into the residence and gave pursuit. They arrived to find a massive blue and red bird-like creature with a razor beak and burning eyes storm toward Sentimental Ogre. 

Joyous Jian risked the lightning and rushed through the doorframe, using a technique to channel the lightnings energy. As he came through the bird demon breathed fire on him, causing his body to erupt in flames. Phiphek immediately put the fire out with the same fanning technique he'd used before. The party fought with the creature and eventually, after Sentimental Ogre had hurt it severely with his maces, Merciful Shade was able to use Blazing Net to ensnare it then draw it into an orb around her neck. 

They were able to speak to the bird demon through the orb and do a kind of interrogation. It desperately wanted to come out and said it would be good if they freed it. Unmoved Merciful Shade demanded information and asked why it attacked the residence. Calling itself Blue Kingfisher it said it was here "for the baby from the records" and that it had been looking for "the wife". Pressed further it eventually revealed its master was Marauding Dragon and that it was here with more demons to find the baby and the wife (of the master). It claimed that the child was Marauding Dragon's, not Magistrate Chengdu's. It also revealed it knew why Little Turtle's cart was not working and where the other demons were. It offered to give them this information if they freed it. 

Phiphek used Thoughts Bloom into One-Thousand Petals to create an illusion in the mind of the Bird Demon that it was being released. As they did so it revealed that the demons were in the sewers and were using a Demon Stone to interfere with the cart's detection abilities. 

This is where the session ended. 

Monday, March 7, 2016


I just want to give people an update on the progress of Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate and the Bedrock Blog. 

I've been a bit silent here for a while, except for the regular postings of Wandering Heroes campaign logs. This is because I am working on a number of support products for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. I've also been volunteering at to edit the English subs of Dramas like Journey of Flower and Legend of Zu. Hopefully I will be back to posting more regularly once all this quiets down. 

Speaking of Ogre Gate, presently it looks like we will be ready for layout at the end of this month. This is tentative but I am optimistic. I do realize this is taking longer than we initially anticipated but I'd much rather we take the time to get this right than release it in a rush. We made a conscious choice a couple of years back to put more of a premium on quality than on pipeline (and those two things are often in conflict in publishing). Our editor is doing an outstanding job, and I want to make sure he has the time necessary to go over the material. I apologize for those who have been waiting for this release. I promise you that I have been eating, sleeping and thinking about this game non-stop. The manuscript is complete, we are just making sure it is perfect as it can be before publication. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


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

I am running two campaigns in the same setting and treating them as occurring in different realities with some vague similarities. Characters in one may appear in the other, but there are no direct causal effects from one campaign to the next. Partly this is to playtest, but this is also partly due to the multi-dimensional aspect of the universe I run all my games in. It would theoretically be possible for the party from the Blood of the Demon Moon cult campaign to dimension travel to the Secret of Je Valley Campaign, in which case direct interactions could occur (and they could even meet their counterparts in the alternate dimension).  


Player Characters
Zhang Wan (Bone Breaker): An unpredictable and violent martial expert who is the brother of Zhang San. First chief of Qui Pan Bandits. Married to Huo Ju (Little Venom)
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.

Key NPCs
Jade Priestess: Bone Breaker's Sifu and former member of the Demon Moon Cult
Witch of Zhaoze Zhou: San's Sifu
Ho'elen: Kushen Tribesman and daughter of important chief. Bone Breaker's Disciple. 
Iron Spear Tip: A magic weapon with a mind of its own, the bride of Zhang Kang.
Little Venom (Huo Ju): Bone Breaker's Wife
The Venom of Zhaoze (Huo Si): Leader of Zhaoze sect, father of Huo Ju (Little Venom) and Sifu to Chen
Xiu: A former member of Purple Cavern sect and current disciple of Bone Breaker. 

The party remained at their outpost in the former Mystic Sword Temple headquarters, re-organizing Bone Breaker sect. They made San and Bone Breaker joint 1st Chiefs, with Jade Priestess taking the position of 2nd Chief. Chen was appointed Sect Physician (in reality poisoner) and the Master of Zhe Valley (Gentle Demon) was given the position Divine Representative (which allowed him to continue heading his own sect but also serve as a member of Bone Breaking Sect). Other members were divided into Senior Disciples, Junior Disciples and Initiates. 

They decided to go to Red Mountain Villa to take the Phoenix Crown. Leaving Yang Tuo and Abbot Ping behind to take care of Bone Breaker's wife (who was pregnant) they discussed their strategy and marched out (Lady Plum Blossom went with them as well). When they arrived at Red Mountain villa, they found Compassionate Monkey who told them they could not enter. Bone Breaker asked to speak to one of the immortals and eventually Ji came out to hear his request. 

Bone Breaker asked if he could have the Phoenix Crown to help unite the martial world. Ji told him this was impossible as it had been left behind by Zhi Zhu, and only she could retrieve it. Bone Breaker informed Ji that Zhi Zhu was dead. Ji asked why. Bone Breaker said "I killed her", then explained it couldn't be helped and he was turning over a new leaf, that he merely wanted the crown to help unite the sects around Perfect Heaven Lineage. 

Ji initially said no, but when Bone Breaker accepted this without violence, he said he would give him the Phoenix Crown if Bone Breaker called him Sifu and kowtowed three times. Bone Breaker agreed. 

Bone Breaker then inquired about Compassionate Monkey's Heavenly Pills. 

Compassionate Monkey said "You cannot have my pills!" Then he turned to Ji and said "He's lying Sifu, he's lying Sifu!". 

This happened a number of times where Compassionate Monkey would deny them the right to his pills, then claim they didn't exist. Finally Bone Breaker asked Ji if he could have the pills and Compassionate Monkey flew into a rage, raising his hands and bringing down a powerful force from the heavens upon everyone (including Ji). This wounded people tremendously and Compassionate Monkey immediately apologized and asked Ji's forgiveness. Ji told him to retreat into the Villa so he could speak privately with Bone Breaker. 

Ji said that Bone Breaker should go take the pills from Compassionate Monkey's home in Flower Fruit Cavern then return them to the villa. However he gave Bone Breaker and four others permission to take two pills. 

Bone Breaker thanked Ji and they returned to their headquarters. When they arrived, they learned that Little Venom (Bone Breaker's wife) had given birth to a song, who Bone Breaker named Xiao Feng. Jade Priestess also gave Xiao Feng a golden Demon Moon bracelet. 

After a few days the two leaders of Perfect Heaven Lineage Sect, White-Eyed Dragon and Divine Phoenix, arrived and Bone Breaker gave them the Phoenix Crown and Wind Saber of Sunan. He then invited them to remain at the headquarters while they brought sects into the fold. 

Chen took on two disciples: Zi Hua and Na. Of the two, Zi Hua was more hot tempered and difficult, but also demonstrated the highest level of skill. Na was less talented but more studious. 

They left the next day for Flower Fruit Caverns. Only Bone Breaker, Chen, San, Lady Plum Blossom and Jade Priestess went (since they didn't want others to know about the pills). Their trip was initially uneventful but it was the Demon Moon and they were ambushed by four Hopping Vampires as they moved through the forest. 

This was their first encounter with such creatures and they were ill prepared for it. Their early attacks proved ineffectual and Chen and Lady Plum Blossom were both bitten (losing some of their Qi energy in the process). It was a grueling fight, the went on for some time. By the end, only Bone Breaker was unscathed, and Jade Priestess and Lady Plum Blossom were forced to flee. Chen just barely managed to destroy them with his Blast of the Dragon Technique (which he used several times in the encounter). 

When it was done they continued on deeper into Dhamma. They passed Kwam Metta, an abandoned city near the river, then Ice Mountain came into view. As they were making their way past the mountain, a large azure skinned giant stepped into view, flanked by red-robed monks. 

"I will have my revenge and feast on your bones," said Abbot Song. 

This is where the session ended. 

Child Born


I saw finally saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny yesterday on Netflix. I rather enjoyed it (was preparing myself for disappointment). It is a very different film from the original with quite a bit more action. While I think the original is a better film by traditional standards, in a lot of ways (though certainly not all) I found this to be a better wuxia film (though it did have some issues). The original is stronger in terms of cinematography and developing the story, but Sword of Destiny works better in terms of action and fight sequences (the fight sequences in Crouching Tiger were great, but here Yuen Woo-Ping is able to give it a more prominent role). I do think a lot of people who saw the first one will be disappointed by the sequel if they go in expecting a similar experience. If you like wuxia for the action, then this movie will serve you well (and I have to admit, while I love a good story, the main attraction for me with wuxia is the incredible swordplay). 

The story picks up about fifteen years after the last film with Michelle Yeoh reprising her role as Yu Shu Lien. She arrives in Peking at the residence of Sir Te, who has recently passed away. Hades Dai, Chief of the Western Lotus Clan, is trying to become the leader of the martial world and to do that he needs to possess the Green Destiny. He sends one of his men, Wei Feng, to steal it and Yu Shu Lien is once again in the position of protecting the sword (this time on behalf of the son of Sir Te, who she helped in the original). Another mysterious figure, a girl named Snow Vase, helps intercept Wei Feng and becomes Yu Shu Lien's disciple in the process. Yu Shu Lien calls on heroes of the martial world to help her protect the sword and a ragtag team of warriors, lead by Silent Wolf (played by Donnie Yen) answer the call. I don't want to spoil the plot so I all I will say is the rest of the film follows the characters as they protect the sword against Western Lotus Clan. We also learn more about the background of the lead characters. 

It is very hard to compare this with the first film, if only because they are so different. The action is more frequent and has a lot more energy to it. Whereas the first movie took its time building and reveled in languid scene of flying swordsman, this has a bit more punch to it. It is also the movie's biggest strength. I think the heavy use of action, will turn off some viewers who might be expecting the more story focused and ruminating pacing of the first. For me, I was glad for it, because I think the solid fight choreography helped overshadow some of the film's weaknesses (and because it was directed by Yuen Woo-Ping, it makes sense for him to play to his strength). 

Like the original movie this is a Chinese and American Production, but it is more noticeable because the film is shot in English (which has its benefits and its negatives) and much of the cast seems to be American and international actors). One of the down sides of the English language is many of the American actors chose to speak (or maybe they were directed to do so) in a quasi-Shakespearean accent that draws a lot of attention to itself.

The role community of martial heroes was more prevalent throughout as well (this is very much a "I need the sword to become master of the Wulin type story). Rather than focus on a small group of characters, Sword of Destiny has much more of a martial team approach (though Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum and Natasha Liu Bordizzo are clearly the stars). 

The storyline is pretty good actually and quite simple. I won't spoil it, but I think they do a good job bringing Michelle Yeoh's character into the next segment. My understanding is the original movie was based on a series of wuxia novels, and I believe this one is also based on the next book in the series (however there is an english language novel for the movie, so it is unclear to me how much this new installment deviates from the original storyline----and the original novels are not translated into English as far as I know). I suspect they deviated a lot from the original source material but I cannot be sure. There are more supernatural elements in this one (that is sometimes in wuxia, but I did wonder if it was added in this case as it felt more heavy than normal--at least with one character in particular). 

The way characters are handled is a bit different from the first movie as well. Here it is more about stark characters who are part of a team and have chemistry. They delve into the background of the four chief protagonists, but the rest of the team has one or two major traits. I think this worked. I like having larger than life martial heroes in my movies. But it is definitely quite a different approach from the original film (which took more time building characters and was a more subtle in its approach). 

One thing that I rather liked were the characters backstories in this one. I don't want to spoil anything but there is a bit of mystery around some of the characters and you slowly learn their history over the course of the film. These yield some interesting surprises (in one instance helping to illuminate some of the material from the first film----though some may find that it undermines it I suppose). Personally I liked this and thought it complimented the first. 

One thing that really makes the movie work is the presence of Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh. They are both great in it and Michelle Yeoh's performance was magnificent. It is nice to see them working together in a wuxia film again, and nice to see that they are still able to pull of some pretty involved and graceful fight choreography. Yuen Woo-Ping directed both of them in the film Wing Chun (1994) and I couldn't help but think of that while I was watching Sword of Destiny. 

There was a bit of CGI but it was pretty seamless and used mainly to give the film a sense of scope and create a more awe-inspiring environment. I may just be immune to it at this stage (because a lot of Chinese wuxia films and shows make heavy use of CGI) but I felt it added rather detracted from the experience. 

The Sword of Destiny isn't perfect but it is a fun action-adventure movie and can help serve as a bridge into the wide world of wuxia for western audiences. I have zero complaints about the fight scenes (in fact many of them were more entertaining to me than the original movie's swordplay). They help carry the movie and give it plenty of energy. Some of the acting felt a bit out of place and some of the elements did feel a little too Holywood, but I think they did a good job conveying the idea of the martial world to viewers who may be unfamiliar with the concept. Whereas the first film touched on that idea at times, this one dives pretty deeply into it.

Basically watch this one for the fight scenes, the exploration of the martial world, and Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen. It also has some interesting characters, but in some cases you might find yourself being distracted by the delivery (I at least found the old time english accents where they appeared jarring).