The Land of Hai’an
Away from the reaches of the Glorious Emperor’s corrupting influence, Hai’an seems untamed. The verdant forests, the hilly landscape and fertile land fill travelers with a sense of life and occasional foreboding. Terraced Rice fields dot the hillscape and the people strive to live in harmony with the world around them. This is reflected in Hai’an’s most well known cultural achievement: music. The natural environs of Hai’an are receptive to song and flourish when it is played in accord with local geomancy. Some say there is magic available to those who know how to tap into this interplay.
The climate here is hot and humid with mild winters. During the summer, the heat can be oppressive, relieved by frequent rain and thunderstorms.
Hai’an is a land of hills, lakes and river valleys. It is cradled by Mount Bao, Mount Wuxing and Mount Hai’an. Most major settlements are along its two primary rivers: Southern Fei River and the River of Swarming Beggars. The latter helps form an important path of trade with Zun City in the Banyan.
In the north the hills are terraced for rice farming and dotted with homesteads and villages. This is where the bulk of the Hai’anese population lives. As one moves further south, the reach of the king weakens. Here he relies frequently on the goodwill of sect leaders and clans to maintain order.
One such area is the Demon Moon Lands. This is a hill region that rests atop a vast, and largely hidden, network of caves, called the Caves of A’zhu. The place is has an unusual stillness and placidity to it, and is known for its beauty, but it is quite dangerous. Demons, spirits and other monsters are common-place here. The inhabitants are resilient and live in fortified round house settlements to protect themselves.
In the Northeast are the wetlands of Screeching Lake and Whispering Swamp. These are inhabited by hardy folk (usually martial heroes) who rely upon Yen-Li magic to protect them from the many dangers inhabiting the area. The most regular threat here are the Flying Crocodiles. However demons, particularly Toad Demons, are common in this area too. The foliage here is dense grows on rising mounds of earth. The Whispering Swamp has a heavy canopy of swamp forest away from the coast, but toward the coast it is mostly short mangrove trees.
POLITICS AND CULTURE OF HAI'AN
This section expands on information available on page 251 of the WANDERING HEROES OF OGRE GATE rulebook
Warrior Scholars and Mad Poets of the Land
Martial heroes are respected and valorized in Hai’an. Their epics and poems have established the importance of such individuals in the minds of the populace. Martial Heroes come in all types, but in Northern Hai’an, there is a tendency to divide them between two types: Warrior Scholars and Mad Poets of the Land. The scholars are predominantly Dehuan, conservative, groomed with trimmed facial hair and well educated. The Mad Poets are known for their wild beards (in the case of men), unbound hair and ferocious manners. Often the Mad Poets are Yen-Li practitioners but not always, some are merely unorthodox disciplines of Dehua. Other martial heroes exist in this landscape, but these are the ideals described in Hai’anese lyrics and stories. The simple farmer hero is another type of martial personality locals immediately recognize.
Hai’anese people are notoriously tolerant of eccentric martial heroes. It is a culture shaped by music, poetry, plays and literature. Their fondness for martial heroes is a product of their historic enmity with the empire and the epics that glorify tales of heroes who fought against it.
The Role of Music
The music of Hai’an is complex and demands an understanding of geomancy. The best music is said to flow with the natural energies of the landscape. What people don’t realize is the survival of Hai’an, and perhaps all Qi Xien in its present form, rests upon the musical talent of the Hai’anese people. As they play music and imbue the land with its powers, this protects them from the winds of Gushan and the horrors they awaken in their path.
The Kingdom of the Monkey
The royal family of Hai’an is believed to be protected by Monkey Spirits. It was established as a base against the Emperor in the year of the monkey and when the first Qiang took to the throne, large numbers of monkeys migrated into the Fei River area and the southern valley. The latter is named River of the Swarming Beggars due to the presence of the monkeys. Therefore, killing monkeys or bringing them harm is strictly forbidden.
The government is structured similar to the Empire, but as one travels south, its direct grip weakens. Magistrates appointed to places around the River of Swarming Beggars must work with local sect leaders, clans and other groups. One man who helps the King keep the peace is Yellow Mantis, leader of the Southern Hill sect. However, he is no tool of the Green King or Queen Ainu. His prestige hinges upon his righteous reputation, so he rebukes lawless bandits and corrupt officials with equal measure.
The Queen has an extensive and surprisingly accurate information network. This is a product of the presence of the Society of Leather Shadows (more often called The House of Paper Shadows by locals). Their precise nature is hazy, but they ostensibly serve the King (the truth is revealed in greater detail in their entry and expanded upon greatly in HOUSE OF PAPER SHADOWS). Agents of the House of Paper Shadows often move disguised as performers or food vendors in the cities and towns. In fact, every purveyor of steamed buns in a given city stands a good chance of being such an agent (50%).
The structure of the Hai’anese government is discussed in the Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate rulebook. Like the empire it is divided into prefectures governed by Prefects. These in turn are divided into districts, which are governed by Magistrates. Eunuchs are important and serve a crucial function in the government, often attaining posts of importance, including those of Prefect and Magistrate. The government itself is grouped into three major departments, each led by a Director: The Department of State Affairs, the Chancellery and the Secretariat. There are also special ministries and an organization that functions as a network of internal spies called the Censorate. The King is advised by a council lead by the Queen, called the Grand Council. See page 251-52 for information on the basic structure of government in Hai’an.
A Powerful Queen
The real power in Hai’an is Queen Ainu. While her son spends much of his time locked away in song at Harmony Sustaining Palace, she governs from Xuanlu. She is an effective leader but shrewd and feared by her enemies. She is protected by an inner circle of martial experts known as the Five Heroes of Xuanlu. Beyond this small contingent of men, she is also protected by a force of two thousand personal guards. She controls the Censorate and is also the Senior Grand Councilor.
The Queen’s Agents
The Queen has a number of agents and officials serving under her. Many of them are female, though they often dress as men to perform their function without notice.
The military is part of the Department of State Affairs, the Ministry of War. The current Minister of War, Tian Buwei, has a seat on the Grand Council. There are presently 100,000 soldiers in the Hai’anese military.
THE PREFECTURES AND DISTRICTS
The Nine Prefects are (with their respective prefectures in parenthesis):
Prefect Ling Hua* (Hai Sheng)
Prefect Hong Kang (Han Sheng)
Prefect Guo Dee (Hui Sheng)
Prefect Di Xiaofeng (Jiang)
Prefect Jiang Fu (Qu Sheng)
Prefect Gu Xing (Shan Sheng)
Prefect Tian Lo (Wu Bei)
Prefect Yu Zhengquan (Yao Nan)
Prefect Meng Ma (Zhao Sheng)
*Ling Hua is a woman, and the first woman appointed to such a position. She was selected personally by the queen.
The prefectures are governed by the above prefects and often divided into 2-3 districts, which are overseen by magistrates. Law and order is maintained by the district Sheriff who has dozens (occasionally hundreds) of constables serving under him. They have a number of duties including performing inquests, deterring crime and capturing bandits. When the threat to law an order is large, then the Patrolling Inspector (a military rather than civil post) handles the matter. Occasionally Patrolling Inspectors and Sheriffs work together (and sometimes at cross-purposes). The districts of each prefecture and their magistrates and sheriffs are:
1. Hai Sheng
2. Han Sheng
A. Magistrate Zheng Lie; Sheriff Qian Shaonan
B. Magistrate Huang Liu; Sheriff Zheng Mofeng
C. Magistrate Zhuang Hai; Sheriff Yu Buwei
3. Hui Sheng
A. Magistrate Jin Wu; Sheriff Gui Kang
B. Magistrate Han Jun; Sheriff Zhu Lei (Female pretending to be male)
5. Qu Sheng
6. Shan Sheng
A. Magistrate Xiao Leng; Sheriff Pan Shisan
B. Magistrate Chen Jian; Sheriff Yao Wan
7. Wu Bei
A. Magistrate Yin Si; Sheriff Sun Xiaofeng
B. Magistrate Zuan Lun; Sheriff Pan Shimei
8. Yao Nan
A. Magistrate Wei Yun; Sheriff Ruang Zhe
B. Magistrate Fa Fuling; Sheriff Wei Yu
C. Magistrate Xiao Tian; Sheriff Huo Mengwei
9. Zhao Sheng
A. Magistrate Huo She; Sheriff Xi Ling
B. Magistrate Meng Ao; Sheriff Chan Shizhong
The City of Dee
This is a difficult city to control, but an important place that is of great interest to the Queen. Therefore, the King appoints a City Magistrate (often called the city lord) to govern it. Yan Buwei is the current city lord. He is largely ineffectual and this is by design. The city has a near total break down of law and order and is under the firm grip of local gangs and mutual responsibility companies, called Baojia, that have devolved into small criminal enterprises. It sits atop the Caves of A’zhu where the division between realms breaks down and this is the source of its chaos. However, it serves a useful function to the Queen. Dee tends to attract powerful martial heroes, gangs and others who could pose a risk to Hai’anese authority (and once there they tend to remain). She often gently encourages potentially dangerous groups to go to Dee on some pretext knowing they will be drawn into its culture of organized violence. Over time though this has produced martial experts of rarely paralleled talent and ability. It is becoming a double edged sword. Were the forces of Dee unleashed upon Hai’an, the effect would be devastating. For more information on Dee see CHAPTER FIVE: DEE.
OTHER CULTURAL DETAILS
Law is enforced by Sheriffs and their constables (also called archers). A sheriff is in charge of investigating crimes and preventing them in an entire district. He is often helped by clerks, and has between 10 to 500 constables (most districts have about 30 constables). The number of constables is related to the size of the district. Typically there is 1 constable for every 800 households.
One of the sheriffs chief duties is capturing bandits. But sometimes groups of bandits are too large and pose a risk of uprising. In such cases, and in other matters involving larger scale threats, Patrolling Inspectors with between 10 to 500 soldiers handle the matter. Patrolling Inspectors are the military mirror of the Sheriff (which is a civil post).
Queen Ainu deliberately uses these two posts as counterbalances. Their ability to work together is strictly limited and their tendency to thwart one another often encouraged (particularly when she senses ambition in the ranks).
There are many important laws in Hai’an. Mostly these adhere to the rules on page 244 of the WHOG rulebook. One important law is the king may wear yellow. One man, Yellow Mantis, dares wear Yellow, and neither the King nor Queen Ai Nu rebuke him.
Ancestor veneration always incorporates music in Hai’an, often as part of a procession toward the altar where food and drink are offered. Hai’anese tombs are often fitted with racks of bells, to be played by descendants as they honor their ancestor’s spirits.
Landscape and Architecture
The most notable feature of Hai’anese housing is the earthen round house, found frequently in the rural environs. This is a ring-like structure with the outer ring enclosing an inner courtyard and various halls. These can be quite large and are often the home of an entire clan.
There are also square storied earthen houses. These are found in both urban and rural places, often on hills.
Rice is the chief crop of Hai’an and terraced farming is the preferred cultivation method. Villages and settlements on hills are often surrounded by terraced fields.
Hai’an is replete with societies and clubs. Some focus on elite interests like poetry and painting, while others are open to less educated members. Most are concerned with music or theater in some way.
THE SOCIETY OF LEATHER SHADOWS
For information on the Society of Leather Shadows, also called The House of Paper Shadows, see WHOG page 207. The organization will be fully explored in HOUSE OF PAPER SHADOWS (an upcoming module).
Defenses: Hardiness 6, Evade 6, Parry 6, Stealth 9, Wits 7, Resolve 7
Key Skills: Arm Strike: 2d10, Leg Strike: 2d10, Grapple: 2d10, Throw: 1d10, Light Melee: 2d10, Medium Melee 1d10, Talent (Shadow Puppetry): 4d10, Talent (Singing): 3d10, Talent (Suona Horn): 3d10, Muscle: 1d10, Detect: 3d10
Equipment: Horn of the Society of Leather Shadows
Qi Rank: 3
Disciplines: Qinggong 3, Waijia 1
Flight of the Hawk
Flying Swan Kick: Leg Strike against Parry. Success you can leap up to 30 feet to kick your opponent, doing 2d10 Damage. You can then leap another 30 feet against another foe (also doing 2d10Damage). Use your original roll for both attacks. Cathartic: When used cathartically you can make 3 additional leaping kick attacks.
Graceful Retreat: Speed against TN 7. On a success this increases your parry by your 3 against Charging attacks. This ability can be used instantly. Cathartic: When used cathartically this technique effectively nullifies any charge attack.
Horn: Can use the horn to summon 1d10 Shadow Puppets every three rounds.
Jin-Suk: This is a complete language that uses gestures to communicate. It is mainly known to the Jin-Suk, though some of the Suk and Hai’anese have learned it as well. Those using this language in situations requiring silence gain a +2 to their Stealth score and/or +1d10 to Survival Skill when appropriate.
CLARIFICATIONS ON PLACES
This just expands on some of the important locations described in the rulebook. For detailed descriptions of places in Hai'an see the next chapter.
This is a gateway to Emo-Cheng. See SCREECHING LAKE AND WHISPERING SWAMP entry for details.
This mysterious mound is an ancient burial tomb. According to legends it is protected by a god and everyone knows to stay away from it.
RIVER OF THE SWARMING BEGGARS
A river where monkeys congregate and often attack. During the Demon Moon people say some of them become demons. See the next chapter for more detailed descriptions of the River of the Swarming Beggars region.
SCREECHING LAKE AND WHISPERING SWAMP
This is where Ghostgate Cavern is located. Inside the cavern is a concealed gate to Emo Cheng, accessible via a great cypress tree with the images of five frog-like doorgods on the surface. Anyone who presents a talisman of Emo Cheng or performs the Forceful Opening Ritual causes the tree to blossom open and reveal an illuminated stone pathway that leads to the entrance of Emo Cheng (this remains open for one hour). The Ghostgate Cavern is also home to Brother Toad and his toad demons.
For more information see WHOG page 254.
SHRINE OF CHU GUANXI
Chu Guanxi was a Dehuan scholar who became a recluse in his later years and, according to some, went a bit crazy teaching Dehuan principles to local wild life.
THE SIX CLANS OF THE DEMON LANDS
These are as six clans who live in large earthen roundhouses to help ward away the demons in the surrounding countryside (the Demon Lands and Demon Hills have weak barriers to the other realms and are always treated as if under the effect of the Demon Moon). They are largely independent from the King.
The clans are: Twin-Fisted Eagle Clan, Spinning Dagger Clan, Divine Fire Clan, Demon Hill Clan, Flying Ghost Clan, and Weeping Pipa Clan.
Additional Information can be found in WHOG page 252.