Sunday, September 17, 2017


I have been making NPCs, monsters and scenarios inspired by Pu Songling's Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. For each entry I take two or more stories from the Penguin Edition translated by John Minford and make gameable material. You can see my previous entry HERE. 

Today I am doing Adultery and Enlightenment (#92), Up His Sleeve (#93) and Silver Above Beauty (#94). 

Adultery and Enlightenment is about Patriarch Luo. He is a military man who goes away on assignments, eventually leaving his family for three years to a post. He returns and finds his wife has taken his friend as her lover. He tricks them into thinking he is leaving once again but returns suddenly and catches them in the act. They beg his forgiveness as he prepares to kill them both, but puts his sword down, gives all his belongings to his friend and leaves to live a hermetic life. Later he is found in a cave with 'jade icicles' on his nose, and people believe this was evidence of his having attained enlightenment. 

Originally I was going to create a new religion similar to Luo teaching but decided that isn't something that is helpful to have in a single blog post (it would be too hard for me to find, let alone other people, later on). Instead I wanted to do a monster because those are always useful. So I took the jade icicles and the adultery as starting points and just worked from there. 

Up His Sleeve is a really good story with interesting characters and magic that defies logic. It is about a Taoist named Gong who appears before a prince and performs miracles. He befriends Scholar Shang, with whom he is lodging. Scholar Shang is in love with one of the Emperor's Concubines, a woman named Mercy (he new her before she entered the palace) and the Taoist helps the couple with his magic. He smuggles Scholar Shang in by placing him in the sleeves of his robe (which Shang learns are as spacious as a reception hall) and secrets Mercy in the sleeve as well where they consulate their love. He continues this and she becomes pregnant. Eventually the Taoist smuggles out baby and brings it to Shang. When the Taoist is about to die he gives Shang his robe and tells him to save it as it can cure difficult childbirth. He is able to use the robe to help the prince, who then offers him whatever he wants. He asks for the prince to release Mercy, and he does so. There was a lot in this story to take inspiration from, but the robe really seemed like the best way to go. 

Silver Above Beauty is a very short account of a man who is approached by two Fox Spirits who present him with two choices. One shows him four lines of beautiful grass script calligraphy, while the other shows him four taels of silver. He takes the silver and they laugh at his vulgarity. Within moments the silver is gone. 

I like the idea of blending the calligraphy and the ephemeral wealth. So I made a starlit calligraphy brush. 

This is a robe with many magic properties. The most impressive is its spacious sleeves. The wearer can place people, objects and even structures inside it, for though it seems a normal sleeve, it is as spacious as a palace reception hall. If the wearer simply guides a person or thing into the sleeve, they can be stored there. 

However the robe can also be used to heal the sick or even raise the recently dead. In order to use this power you need to tear off a portion of the robe and burn the ashes, then place them the mouth of the individual to be healed. Anyone this is done to heals up to 8 Wounds. It also has a chance of raising people who have only been dead for under an hour (roll 3d10 and on a result of 6 or higher the person is brought back to life). Each time you rip off a portion of the robe, it gets smaller and eventually there will be nothing remaining. 

In heartache some seek the comfort of seclusion and meditation. A few appear to attain enlightenment in the wake of a broken heart. They seek the hermetic life, settle in seclusion and their body grows still and cold, until they seem little more than a frozen statue in meditation. In truth, their heart has grown cold and this spreads through the body, killing anything they touch. 

Defenses: Hardiness 8, Evade 3, Parry 8, Stealth 6, Wits 8, Resolve 10
Key Skills: Arm Strike: 3d10, Speed: 0d10, Muscle: 3d10, Detect: 1d10, Meditation: 3d10

Wounds: 10

Cold Touch: The Touch of an Enlightened Frost demon can cause a person to freeze and die. Roll Arm Strike against Parry. On a Success roll 3d10 against Hardiness. If that Succeeds they begin to freeze losing a point of Hardiness. On a Total Success, they lose 2 Hardiness and the freeze spreads more rapidly. In ether case, Continue rolling 3d10 against Hardiness each round. Each Success they lose 1 Hardiness, each Total Success they lose 2 Hardiness. When they reach 0 Hardiness they freeze and die. 

Storm Mind: An Enlightened Frost Demon can cause a swirl of chilly wind to assail people by focusing its mind. Roll Meditation against the Evade of all in a 100 foot area. On a Success they are knocked back 20 feet with such force they take 3d10 Falling Damage. 

This object is not unlike the Starlit Inkstone of Iron Sky Realm but not as long lasting in its results. This looks like a well made calligraphy brush but the hairs are made from Fox Demon hair and the handle is made from meteorite. If held up to the sky under the canopy of night, it can draw in starlight like ink and write beautiful calligraphy. What is more the words rendered become temporary realities, like minor illusions. For example if you write about a palace made of marble, a palace made of marble will appear before you temporarily. However each use drains the calligrapher of 1 Hardiness (returns at a rate of 1 per day). To use the brush make a Talent (Calligraphy) Roll TN 7. On a Success you render the line of text and create something that lasts for 1d10 minutes. On a Total Success it lasts for 1d10 hours. 

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