Sunday, February 5, 2023

CELESTIAL PLUME MASTERS SESSION ELEVEN

This was the eleventh session of my Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate wuxia sandbox campaign, the Celestial Plume Masters, using the Sons of Lady 87 book, which was just released in print. You can see the first session HERE. You can see the Tenth session HERE

PLAYER CHARACTERS 

Wei Ziying: A skilled poisoner and physician, with ties to the Relentless Corpse Sect, Wei Ziying is a disciple of the Celestial Plume Masters. He also has a longstanding friendship with Kuo Qingzhao, who wishes to know more about the poisons that killed his wife (poisons Wei Ziying knows the secrets of). Grudge: Ravenous Nun Xuanji (for the murder of Red Eagle)

Wang Haoyang: A master of stealth, Wang Haoyang is one of the Celestial Plume Master disciples. He has a lifelong friendship with Pei Ye of the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, but has attracted the affection of another member of that organization, Fan Zhen'er (he does not return the affection but wishes to avoid creating friction within the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, and possibly creating enemies). Grudge: Guan Nuan (for a duel he escaped, she feels she lost face because he was weaker than her and should have been an easy victory)

Hei Ling: A one-eyed chief in the Celestial Plume Masters, Hei Ling is the father of Li Liang, whom he wishes to cease practicing her Toad Style kung fu because of the physical toll on her body. He had Li Liang with Qixia the candied fruit in his youth and since then Qixia has grown hostile. He has a working relationship with the Wu Sisters. Grudge: Qixia the Candied Fruit Vendor (of Hai'an). Grudge: Qixia (many reasons related to their pre-existing relationship)

Iron Tiger: The newest member of the party, sent by Night Thorn to help them expand. He has a longstanding friendship with Iron Beggar Sun Kang, whom he wants to leave his lap of luxury in the House of Flying Lanterns so he can train with the Nature Loving Monks and improve his Kung Fu. Iron Beggar in turn wants Iron Tiger to leave the Celestial Plume Masters. Grudge: Pei Ye (he murdered her favorite client, Golden Cobra). 

THE TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN DRAGONS 

In Jinsa, Iron Tiger received a message and followed the order. He had Qixia's corpse exhumed and preserved so Li Liang could craft a mace handle from her bones. 

Then Iron Tiger went to the Banyan to meet with the Golden Dragons. He offered to train their men in exchange for the temple's Kung Fu. They were uncomfortable with his offer and Bronze Master said they could not freely trade their marital arts with a person like himself. 

Iron Tiger threatened to destroy them all if they didn't consider his offer. 

"But we have thousands of men, what hope do you have?" Asked Bronze Master. 

"I have never been defeated. My kung fu is exceptional and unrivaled. I can take you all."

Seeing Iron Tiger was serious he offered to meet with him privately. 

Iron Tiger persuaded Bronze Master to allow him a match with one of the Golden Dragon masters. He called in Master Emerald who faced off with Iron Tiger. 

Initially Master Emerald countered Iron Tiger's first attack with a spinning back kick. Shortly after Iron Tiger broke Master Emerald's arm and Bronze Master ended the match, accusing Iron Tiger of being an animal. 

"You should leave" He told Iron Tiger. 

Iron Tiger refused, demanding that Bronze Master allow his men to spar with the disciples of the Golden Dragons. At first Bronze Master said their sect was too righteous, that he found Iron Tiger's methods appalling. But after he made Iron Tiger promise to not break any more bones, to not kill or seriously injure, he agreed on the condition that he would leave after the matches. 

The Golden Dragons selected some of their better men to go up against Iron Tiger's. In the end, the Golden Dragons outperformed them. Before Iron Tiger left, Bronze Master asked to speak with him privately. 

"Your Kung Fu is very impressive, and I believe we can come to an arrangement if you are open minded my friend," said Bronze Master. "I have men here, well trained men, who are not worthy to remain. They have misbehaved and I must expel them anyways. Perhaps I can assign them to train with you, to help them reform." 

Iron Tiger was pleased by the offer and said he could accept. 

"I just need you to do some things for me, if I give you these men," said Bronze Master. 

Iron Tiger once again said this was acceptable. 

"You will need to kill from time to time; you can accept this term?"

"Yes," Said Iron Tiger. 

"Good, I will expel them after you leave and tell them to go to your headquarters in?"

"Tung-On."

"Very well, I will send them to Tung-On to meet you." 

TURN OF THE ZHEN BIRD 

Iron Tiger left and set out for Tung-On. The journey was mostly uneventful save for passing some Kushen Soldiers as they crossed the Banyan Mountains. However they spotted two birds circling down to them in the Southern Desert. They both tried to peck Iron Tiger so he grabbed their throats and snapped their necks, killing them. Emerald Cobra was concerned they were an omen. 

WEI ZIYING BETRAYS HIS SECT

It was decided that Wei Ziying would go to Mai Cun and pretend to join The 87 Killers, providing them with select information about the Celestial Plume Masters. He and Wang Haoyang coordinated a time and place to stage an ambush by leading them to believe Haoyang would be alone and vulnerable when his wife left their residence on a journey. With Hei Ling's blessing he made the journey. Along the way he was accosted by a monk named Li Yaochen. The monk demanded he come with him to see an old friend. Wei Ziying played along but used his elusive viper technique to slip away when it became clear the monk was taking him to Gao Cun. 

When he reached Mai Cun he made his way to the Guan quarter and asked for an audience with Lady 87, explaining that he hide vital information about the Celestial Plume Masters. 

He was given an audience. 

"Greetings 87th Lady of the Guan House," he said before her. 

Lady 87 continuously called him "Wei Ziling" throughout the meeting as he explained he wished to join their organization because he felt his chief, Hei Ling did not treat him well, rewarding others who did not deserve it, while passing him by. He also offered to provide Lady 87 with information on the whereabouts of Wang Haoyang. 

"Wang Haoyang and Hei Ling are not important people, and why am I to trust this man who betrays his own sect then grovels in my hall?"

"I have more information Lady."

"Can you tell me where the Celestial Plume Masters are headquartered?"

"I cannot Lady, they are very secretive and do not inform me of such things."

"The Celestial Plume Masters ranks are filled with deceptions and secrets," She complained. 

"I do know the location of a secret martial school they are using to build a force to send against you Lady. And I am skilled in the use of poison and stealth."

Lady 87 thought and said she would take him into her organization as a prospect. He would be given quarters and uniform, then assigned a task the next day. 

WEI ZIYING FACES CERTAIN DEATH 

The next morning Yuhuan, Lady 87's right hand, came to Wei Ziying with a pitiful black uniform and told him he would be paired with Big Sister Hong Na and sent to kill the leader of the Heavenly Wind Cult. He was to leave that day. 

He travelled for six days with Big Sister Hong Na leading the way. He observed that she got a lot of very basic facts of the world wrong as they talked, and while she was initially very distrustful he managed to persuade her of his sincerity. 

On the way they were approached by a Sheriff and 10 constables demanding passports. As Wei Ziying was focused on providing the information, they encircled the pair and announced both were under arrest as Big Sister Hong Na was wanted. 

They leapt into action, Wei Ziying spraying them with poison and Big Sister Hong Na slicing most of them down with her cleaver. The remaining constables pleaded for their life, so they departed and let them die from the effects of the poison. 

When they reached the entrance to the Heavenly Wind Cult's cave, they realized it was well guarded, so Wei Ziying decided to take a direct approach. 

He had a copy of a page of a manual that turned Yao into normal humans. Knowing that the Heavenly Wind Cult was led by Palm Mistress Qin Ying, who opposed the empire, he coated it with contact poison and spoke with the guards saying he came on behalf of Lady 87 offering a peace gift to end the conflict between them. He explained that he had something their leader would find helpful. 

He and Hong Na were given an audience, in a cavern where Mistress Qin Ying held court over a jade pool filled with blood. Her son and daughter flanked her as did her men. 

Wei Ziying said that he had a manual which could restore the Yao, making them mortal men again. She had one of her acolytes take it and bring it to her. The contact poison worked quickly and she sensed the trembling it caused her acolyte. 

Wei Ziying felt that Palm Mistress Qin Ying was extremely powerfulness he stood in her presence. 

She rose into the air and called into existence fifteen swords which surrounded and struck at Wei Ziying. He whirled away and avoided the attack then used his Eluding Viper to deliver a surprising Blade of the Dancing Fox and landed devastating blows against her. 

Her children sprung into action, her son sending a spinning axe at Wei Ziying and Big Sister Hong Na. Wei Ziying used Arc of the Spine, Flick of the Wrist to escape the blade and poison him with needles. The daughter then used a palm strike against Wei Ziying but he evaded that as well. 

The battle raged, but was quickly brought to an end when Wei Ziying once again used Blade of the Dancing Fox to kill Palm Mistress Qin Ying. The Daughter and Son were badly hurt. The daughter's name was Fan Wenrou and she offered peace saying "Let us take our mother and bury her in the south, and I promise to cause no further trouble with the 87 Killers." 

Wei Ziying agreed, but he knew his poison would soon kill the son, Fan Jing, so he and Big Sister Hong Na quickly made their way back to Mai Cun. On the way Big Sister Hong Na expressed her admiration for Wei Ziying's incredible martial abilities. She was very impressed that he had killed the Palm Mistress in a direct fight. 

ALLIANCES IN TUNG-ON

In Tung-on Hei Ling and Wang Haoyang spoke with Chief Wanli who wanted a special arrangement to buy celestial plume. Hei Ling offered him a rate of 2,000 a pound and Wanli agreed.  

Iron God Meng continued to focus on snake handling, now working with King Cobras and showing signs of having been bitten many times. He told Hei Ling it made him stronger and more resilient. 

When Hei Ling explained the request of Chief Wanli, Iron God Meng was furious. He despised the Nature Loving Monks and resented their encroachment. It would be best to go to war with them he said. 

"Is it wise to fight them brother?" Asked Hei Ling

"They have what? Twenty men in this prefecture? We will crush them swiftly!"

Hei Ling paused and said "Brother we should crush them and we will, but why not sell them some plume for a while, let them expand the market and then destroy them so we can swoop in?"

Iron God Meng expressed admiration for Hei Ling's strategic mind and said this was a good idea. 

Hei Ling then arranged a meeting with the Seven Demons, and met them just outside Zha. He offered an alliance. They would work together to defeat Long Ma Hall, as he had information that their men were largely in Mai Cun. He agreed to give them Long Ma hall territory after if they would join with them in an attack on the 87 Killers. 

The Seven Demons agreed and they began planning their assault on Long Ma Hall. 


Friday, January 27, 2023

CELESTIAL PLUME MASTERS SESSION TEN

This was the tenth session of my Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate wuxia sandbox campaign, the Celestial Plume Masters using the Sons of Lady 87 book, which was just released in print. You can see the first session HERE. You can see the Ninth session HERE

PLAYER CHARACTERS 

Wei Ziying: A skilled poisoner and physician, with ties to the Relentless Corpse Sect, Wei Ziying is a disciple of the Celestial Plume Masters. He also has a longstanding friendship with Kuo Qingzhao, who wishes to know more about the poisons that killed his wife (poisons Wei Ziying knows the secrets of). Grudge: Ravenous Nun Xuanji (for the murder of Red Eagle)

Wang Haoyang: A master of stealth, Wang Haoyang is one of the Celestial Plume Master disciples. He has a lifelong friendship with Pei Ye of the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, but has attracted the affection of another member of that organization, Fan Zhen'er (he does not return the affection but wishes to avoid creating friction within the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, and possibly creating enemies). Grudge: Guan Nuan (for a duel he escaped, she feels she lost face because he was weaker than her and should have been an easy victory)

Hei Ling: A one-eyed chief in the Celestial Plume Masters, Hei Ling is the father of Li Liang, whom he wishes to cease practicing her Toad Style kung fu because of the physical toll on her body. He had Li Liang with Qixia the candied fruit in his youth and since then Qixia has grown hostile. He has a working relationship with the Wu Sisters. Grudge: Qixia the Candied Fruit Vendor (of Hai'an). Grudge: Qixia (many reasons related to their pre-existing relationship)

Iron Tiger: The newest member of the party, sent by Night Thorn to help them expand. He has a longstanding friendship with Iron Beggar Sun Kang, whom he wants to leave his lap of luxury in the House of Flying Lanterns so he can train with the Nature Loving Monks and improve his Kung Fu. Iron Beggar in turn wants Iron Tiger to leave the Celestial Plume Masters. Grudge: Pei Ye (he murdered her favorite client, Golden Cobra). 

A DEAD MAN MAKES WEI ZIYING A RICH MAN 

Upon arrival in Tung-On they found Iron God Meng still training with venomous snakes and someone named Duo Na waiting for Wei Ziying in a partitioned area of the gambling hall. 

Duo Na was dressed in expensive robes and said he worked for Wei Ziying's friend Kuo Qingzhao of the Red Owl Society. He brought news that Kuo Qingzhao died in his sleep* and had bequeathed his wealth and his title of Chief of the Red Owl Society to Wei Ziying. 

Wei Ziying explained the situation and headed to the Red Owl headquarters to see the body and people in mourning (and to inspect his new residence). There he saw only hired mourners, and was himself the closest thing to a friend or loved one. While he observed the mourners, a strange woman surprised him and introduced herself as Fan Heng. She had a black sword and was dressed in Hai'anese fashion. As he led her to an audience chamber to speak privately he noticed an unnerving black mist emanating from beneath her robes.

Fan Heng by Jackie Musto 

She asked "You are the new chief of the Red Owl Society?"

"I am," Wei Ziying replied. 

Fan Heng asked "And you have inherited all the powers, responsibilities and obligations of the Red Owl Society, and all the promises it has made?"

"I have," he replied. 

"I represent an organization that he promised something very precious to: The Sword of Time. We gave him so much for this promise and have grown tired of waiting for him to make good. Now that he is dead, it is your responsibility."

"I will look into this matter and see what I can do for you," He said. 

"Kuo Qingzhao made a deal with us, and the price for breaking that deal is not small. You will obtain the Sword of Time."

"What is your organization?"

"I speak for Feng Yin of the House of Paper Shadows."***

Not knowing who the House of Paper Shadows were he thanked her and promised to do his best, then went to find out more about the situation. 

HEI LING TENDS TO BUSINESS 

Hei Ling tended to his treasury to inspect the money from Rong E'hua, then he sent a message to Jinsa asking Iron Tiger to procure the body of Qixia (Hei Ling's daughter Li Liang wanted to use the bones to make a handle for her weapon).  

He then decided to place Fan Zhen'er in charge of managing the Red Owl Society information network in their absence. 

WEI ZIYING FINDS THE SWORD OF TIME 

Going to Iron God Meng's he conveyed what he learned to Hei Ling, who then spoke with Iron God Meng and learned that the House of Paper Shadows was powerful, used dark magic, and not a force Wei Ziying could contend with. But he also was told that Yao Chaoyun of the Yao Family Pawn Broker Shop might have information on the sword. 

They went to the shop and found Yao Changyun, his wife, some hired muscle and a crying baby. They spoke with him about the sword of time and explained that Wei Ziying was the new chief of Red Owl Society. 

"Well I happen to have the Sword of Time, I had procured it for Mr. Kuo and was looking for another buyer when I heard he died but it seems I can sell it to you."

They asked how much and he told them 20,000 spades. They decided to make the purchase, as it would still be valuable as an antique even if it was fake. 

Wei Ziying brought it to Fan Heng, who inspected it and said it was a forgery. 

"How can I tell if it is a forgery or not?" He asked

"It is like looking at a sword through an opaque stone. You have two months to bring me the real Sword of Time." 

WORDS OF THE VERMILLION BIRD 

Hei Ling went to the Vermillion Bird Teahouse to pay Hua Yin her four hundred thousand spades and to see if she knew anything about the Sword of Time. Hua Yin accepted the payment graciously and agreed to the new terms (he would owe no more money or service, except the promise of finding her son). He asked about the Sword of Time and she told him she knew a thing or two about it. 

He asked if she knew where it was. 

"This information is valuable, more costly than your payment for Fan Zhen'er. At least twice as valuable as Fan Zhen'er," she said. 

Hei Ling agreed to pay her 800,000 spades for the information and she informed him that the Sword of Time was in the possession of Master Zhan at the Temple of Supreme Righteousness. She also warned him that Master Zhan was extremely powerful, beyond anything either of them had contended with, nearly an immortal. 

Hei Ling thanked her but left with grave concerns. On his way out Hua Yin said "As this is the sword of time, it is possible that the sword exists in two places, perhaps more, at once." 

NIGHT THORN

They decided to travel to Celestial Plume headquarters in River Village to pay tribute. On the way they discussed their options. They agreed things were grim that contending with either the House of Paper Shadows or Master Zhan seemed quite beyond their abilities. They hatched a plan to have Wei Ziying feign betrayal of the Celestial Plume Masters, so that he could worm his way into the 87 Killers. The goal would be to rise as quickly as possible and hope that when the House of Paper Shadows came for him, he could bend their wrath towards the entire 87 Killer sect. 

When they reached River Village they were greeted by Night Thorn but did not see their other master. He accepted their tribute and then listened to their plan. At first he was cautious saying that he worried the House of Paper Shadows might simply kill Wei Ziying in his sleep and do nothing to Lady 87 or her men. But they explained that just as Wei Ziying had inherited the promises made by Kuo Qingzhao, if he were to die Lady 87 would also inherit this responsibility**. Night Thorn decided that it was worth the risk once they explained, as it only seemed to sacrifice one person for the possibility of taking out the 87 killers entirely. He agreed to their plan.

They also suggested they could ambush the 87 Killers by having Wei Ziying feed information about the school in Jinsa, but have Iron Tiger and Emerald Cobra ambush them when they attack. He supported this idea as well. 

He then told Hei Ling to recruit more men and to form more alliances so they could bring a greater force against the 87 Killers. 







*Last session Wei Ziying performed the Wealth Attainment ritual and this is the fruit of that magic 

**This was just speculation on their part. 

***The proper name of the organization is the Society of Leather Shadows but she employed the colloquial term to get maximal intimidating effect: which didn't work initially because he did not know who they were. She also invoked Feng Yin, rather than the House of Paper Shadows nominal director, which I opted for because she was trying to be as intimidating as possible and Kuo Qingzhao was a member of the organization who would have known about Feng Yin. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

CELESTIAL PLUME MASTERS SESSION NINE

This was the ninth session of my Celestial Plume Masters campaign using the Sons of Lady 87 book, which was just released in print. You can see the first session HERE. You can see the Eighth session HERE

PLAYER CHARACTERS 

Wei Ziying: A skilled poisoner and physician, with ties to the Relentless Corpse Sect, Wei Ziying is a disciple of the Celestial Plume Masters. He also has a longstanding friendship with Kuo Qingzhao, who wishes to know more about the poisons that killed his wife (poisons Wei Ziying knows the secrets of). Grudge: Ravenous Nun Xuanji (for the murder of Red Eagle)

Wang Haoyang: A master of stealth, Wang Haoyang is one of the Celestial Plume Master disciples. He has a lifelong friendship with Pei Ye of the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, but has attracted the affection of another member of that organization, Fan Zhen'er (he does not return the affection but wishes to avoid creating friction within the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, and possibly creating enemies). Grudge: Guan Nuan (for a duel he escaped, she feels she lost face because he was weaker than her and should have been an easy victory)

Hei Ling: A one-eyed chief in the Celestial Plume Masters, Hei Ling is the father of Li Liang, whom he wishes to cease practicing her Toad Style kung fu because of the physical toll on her body. He had Li Liang with Qixia the candied fruit in his youth and since then Qixia has grown hostile. He has a working relationship with the Wu Sisters. Grudge: Qixia the Candied Fruit Vendor (of Hai'an). Grudge: Qixia (many reasons related to their pre-existing relationship)

Iron Tiger: The newest member of the party, sent by Night Thorn to help them expand. He has a longstanding friendship with Iron Beggar Sun Kang, whom he wants to leave his lap of luxury in the House of Flying Lanterns so he can train with the Nature Loving Monks and improve his Kung Fu. Iron Beggar in turn wants Iron Tiger to leave the Celestial Plume Masters. Grudge: Pei Ye (he murdered her favorite client, Golden Cobra). 

BOUQUETS OF ORCHIDS 

Wang Haoyang, Wei Ziying and Hei Ling went to ambush an incoming caravan of celestial plume sent from Hai'an to Qixia's organization (they were acting on information acquired last session). They saw a cart flanked by 10 members of the Golden Heroes Sect. Stopping them they demanded to know if there was plume inside and one of the Golden Heroes said it was none of their business, that they should let them pass to make their delivery. 

The party sprung into its attack, with Wei Ziying and Wang Haoyang striking from the shadows*. While the Golden Heroes saw Wei Ziying before he struck, they did not see Wang Haoyang. While the Golden Heroes put up a fight, they were dispatched in the end, with one of their leaders attempting to flee, then attempting to play dead, before being stabbed through the spine. 

Peeking into the cart, the characters found nothing but bouquets of orchids piled against the walls and filling the entire space. On top was a note addressed to Qixia, filled with sentimental expressions of longing, love and devotion. 

THE EMERALD COBRA 

Iron Tiger had decided to remain at the residence as the rest of the party dealt with the plume caravan. They were building a martial arts school to help recruit more men to their cause against the 87 Killers and he wanted to give it attention. As he was giving instruction, a man in green robes with a very serious looking gaze asked for entrance and said he had heard there was a master with highly impressive Kung Fu here, that he would like to test his skills. When asked his name, he told Iron Tiger he was Emerald Cobra^. 

The two faced off, with Emerald Cobra attempting a tornado kick that Iron Tiger countered. Iron Tiger followed with his Iron Tiger Strike, breaking Emerald Cobra's leg, who gave up after the injury but expressed interest in learning the style when he recovered. 

The rest of the party started returning and Wei Ziying recognized Emerald Cobra as the former lover of Relentless Corpse Queen. Fan Zhen'er also knew of him, and confirmed he was a member of the Cobra Clan, a group who resided on Mount Fone, between the Empire and the Kushen. 

This information concerned Iron Tiger who felt Emerald Cobra could be seeking revenge for the Golden Cobra (who was also a member of Cobra Clan). So he took him to a wine shop and spoke to him of his plans to make his school number one in the martial world. He also asked about Golden Cobra, expressing clearly his worry about the past. He asked, and Emerald Cobra agreed, that they become sworn brothers to cement their loyalties. 

NEWS OF THE MARTIAL WORLD 

Leng Ziying arrived at their temporary residence and seemed interested in the new plume source. He told Hei Ling that the 87 Killers and the Jade Owl Bandits had formed an alliance after fighting with one another, and that a marriage was involved to help seal it. This news was troubling as the party had heard recently that Long Ma Hall also had chosen to ally with the 87 Killers. 

Good news did also come with Leng Ziying. Rong E'hua's robbery of the bank in Mai Cun was a success and she gave 2 million spades to their treasury. She had also burned down several of Lady 87's storage units (these were filled with valuable trade goods). 

Meanwhile, Iron Tiger, who had written to Yang Chun asking for more men, received a message informing him there were not enough men to spare, that he had assigned Iron Tiger to work with Hei Ling so the two could form alliances, recruit and form a strong front against the 87 Killers. 

THE DRUNKEN TOAD 

Still suffering the effects of Qixia's poison, Hei Ling weighed his options. He knew that her lover, Fragrant Sword, probably held the antidote (as she had placed it with him when they were 'together'). But Fragrant Sword was in Dee, which is far to the south and they likely wouldn't make it in time. So instead they headed back to Tung-On thinking that Sima Hao might help. 

Iron Tiger remained in Jinsa, sending word for skilled physicians and animal handlers, whom he offered to pay well. 

Hei Ling found his daughter in Gao Cun, Li Liang, at an open air wineshop in a drunken stupor. He could see she had been badly injured but on the road to recovery. He asked what happened and she said a man disguised in a mask** attacked her and broke a number of her bones. She was angry and depressed at the loss and no longer wished to pursue training. 

Hei Ling rebuked her and expressed some shock she was so easily giving up*** saying "Come on, you can't give up after one big loss. Particularly to a man too afraid to show his own face. I thought you were better than that."

She slammed her fist on the table and said he was right, that the man was a coward and she would train harder so that she could find him and kill him. 

Hei Ling told Li Liang that he had killed Qixia, her mother then gave the letter she had addressed to her, which read: 

Your father is a bad man. His crimes are countless. He killed my sister and threatened to kill you if I ever showed motherly affection. My heart aches for the pain he made me cause you. He has no regard for social mores and would exploit you for his own gain. Do you trust him. You must kill him!

Li Liang did not believe the message, as she knew her mother's personality well. She only expressed anger at her mother's passing, but the anger was directed at Qixia, not Hei Ling. She told her father to have his men gather her body so she could make a new handle for her giant mace. 

Hei Ling then told her he was suffering from Qixia's Five Dragon Venom. Li Liang told him to take a seat and used her curing palm to expel the venom from his body. 












*They have been using stealth to their advantage as a tactic in fights, with Wang Haoyang getting an extra boost by using his Stealth of the Spider Demon ability. 

**The man was Iron Tiger who donned a disguise and attacked Li Liang to shake her morale before she trained for the upcoming duel with her father. 

***In this instance, I asked for the player to make a Command or Persuade roll because I was a little unsure of how Li Liang would respond, and he got a 10. 

^Iron Tiger Killers a man in Da Guan named Golden Cobra and this detail would later become important as he would vet the man for his loyalty. 



Sunday, January 22, 2023

ELIXIR CATASTROPHES

In my wuxia sandbox campaign using the Sons of Lady 87 book, one thing that has started to come up is the use of external alchemy to create transformative substances. These are very setting appropriate but present balance issues the more open I am as a GM in adjudicating their creation (and I like to be open to things the players try to do in game).

Transformative substances are one of the more interesting parts of play for me in Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. They can work in a variety of ways but basically use external alchemy to produce pills, elixirs, etc that can change things at a fundamental level. Usually the changes are temporary but can increase over time with regular use (there are some substances though that produce more long term effects). An example of a transformative substance is the Human Forming Essence, which can be used by animals, demons and other creatures to take human form. 

Recently one of the players has been using his Alchemy skill to produce a substance that improves the performance of his minions by radically accelerating cultivation (in mechanical terms his aim would basically increase Qi Ranks). 

The 1993 film Green Snake 

There is precedent for this in the system because I introduce a pill based on Monkey King's background in Journey to the West. This item is called the Heavenly Pill and there are extraordinary conditions surrounding its use, so that will be a very big natural limit should the player pursue making this substance. But this got me thinking about ways to introduce a table to use when players want to make a very powerful substance that could achieve great benefit but might be counterbalanced by some of its side effects (generally speaking I like to give transformative and longevity substances side effects). 

This table is meant to be used anytime a powerful transformative substance is created as its inherent drawback: 

Like the tables I shared the other day this one is still very preliminary. I will likely make some adjustments over the course of my Celestial Plume Masters campaign. 

I am still working with the player to determine what this might look like in the end (and not settle whether this table would apply to the substance he is attempting to discover). It will likely have heavy side effects or be temporary, granting an increase in Qi that goes away after a period of time and is followed by recovery (perhaps through lost Hardiness points). 


Friday, January 20, 2023

QI RANK ADVANCEMENT FOR NPCS IN WANDERING HEROES OF OGRE GATE

There are a number of ways to advance NPCs in Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. One of my favorite is the Going into Seclusion method in the Lady 87 Campaign book (you can also see an early version of this idea on the blog). Sometimes I use more granular methods or random ones. I put the two tables below together today for my Celestial Plume Masters campaign. 


The first table is a method for calculating NPC advancement over time. It can be done session to session, like PCs, or in time in the game world (using either weekly or daily increments----you can also use monthly if you prefer). This assumes an average of 2 XP gained each session/week/day and just charts it out over time. It also uses the revised XP chart from the Bedrock Games website (rather than the one in the rulebook). One thing you will notice is a bit of a hump at the Qi rank 7 mark, because this is the entry point into the profound levels of martial arts. So it takes considerable time to get there from Qi rank 6. After Qi 7 however it reduces back down to a more reasonable level. 

This can be used to figure out a characters Qi rank when they are re-introduced (if they were Qi 3 when the players met them 20 sessions ago, they could be Qi rank 6 in the present session). It is just a tool. You can use any approach you want here, from eye-balling the level to giving your NPCs XP the way you do PCs. 

I also came up with a random method, the above Defeated Master Progression Table. This was designed to handle NPCs who suffer a big defeat at the hands of the players, to determine how they react, but I may turn it into a more general table for randomly determine a given NPCs current level. 

Because the table was designed this afternoon it is just a rough attempt. I am sharing it with my players before the game for feedback and will probably make changes based on that, then make further changes after using it in play (and then create a modified version for NPCs in general). 

The Defeated Master Progression Table was designed with Li Liang in mind, an NPC one of the characters defeated in humiliating and painful fashion to strike a physical and psychological blow (with the aim of impacting her performance in a duel one year from now). So it was created with that specific tactic in mind (and meant to reward it much of the time, but also keep open the possibility that the defeat serves as a key motivator for the NPC). Once I have a chance to test it out tonight and make some changes I should be able to write about how it went and possibly put together a new version. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

CELESTIAL PLUME MASTERS SESSION EIGHT

This was the eighth session of my Celestial Plume Masters campaign using the Sons of Lady 87 book, which was just released in print. You can see the first session HERE. You can see the seventh session HERE

PLAYER CHARACTERS 

Wei Ziying: A skilled poisoner and physician, with ties to the Relentless Corpse Sect, Wei Ziying is a disciple of the Celestial Plume Masters. He also has a longstanding friendship with Kuo Qingzhao, who wishes to know more about the poisons that killed his wife (poisons Wei Ziying knows the secrets of). Grudge: Ravenous Nun Xuanji (for the murder of Red Eagle)

Wang Haoyang: A master of stealth, Wang Haoyang is one of the Celestial Plume Master disciples. He has a lifelong friendship with Pei Ye of the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, but has attracted the affection of another member of that organization, Fan Zhen'er (he does not return the affection but wishes to avoid creating friction within the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, and possibly creating enemies). Grudge: Guan Nuan (for a duel he escaped, she feels she lost face because he was weaker than her and should have been an easy victory)

Hei Ling: A one-eyed chief in the Celestial Plume Masters, Hei Ling is the father of Li Liang, whom he wishes to cease practicing her Toad Style kung fu because of the physical toll on her body. He had Li Liang with Qixia the candied fruit in his youth and since then Qixia has grown hostile. He has a working relationship with the Wu Sisters. Grudge: Qixia the Candied Fruit Vendor (of Hai'an). Grudge: Qixia (many reasons related to their pre-existing relationship)

Iron Tiger: The newest member of the party, sent by Night Thorn to help them expand. He has a longstanding friendship with Iron Beggar Sun Kang, whom he wants to leave his lap of luxury in the House of Flying Lanterns so he can train with the Nature Loving Monks and improve his Kung Fu. Iron Beggar in turn wants Iron Tiger to leave the Celestial Plume Masters. Grudge: Pei Ye (he murdered her favorite client, Golden Cobra). 

STEALTH OF THE SPIDER DEMON 

Wang Haoyang used Stealth of the Spider Demon and entered the room above where Qixia* and her men were enjoying a meal. At first he thought he had managed to enter unseen but Qixia said as she poured a cup of wine "Come my friend and enjoy some drinks with us." 

Wang Haoyang briskly fled the teahouse and left through the front door. He then snuck back around to the window of the parties private dining room and told them what happened. He then climbed a tree and tried to observe Qixia and her men through an open window at the teahouse. Seeing they had posted two guards at their door and begun to relax again, he struck them with his sword whipping strike, killing seven and wounding the rest, including Qixia. They quickly shut the window and there was commotion inside. The party then left their dining room and walked into the street, getting into positions that were tactically advantageous. 

THE CANDY SKEWERS OF QIXIA 

From the street Hei Ling was preparing his men to strike the teahouse, when Qixia started to exit the building with her men. 

After she exited, Iron Tiger blocked the door so her men could not follow. She shouted "Hei Ling you cowardly man, are you afraid to face me one-on-one. Is this a way for a husband to treat his wife?"

Devil Grandma from magic blade
Not Qixia but a good likeness played by the great Terese Ha Ping

Hei Ling said "I am not afraid of you, you ugly faced witch, and calling yourself my wife is a strange description of our relationship."

Qixia said "Tell your men to hold back, and I will do the same, then we can have a fair contest"

Hei Ling instructed his men to retreat. Iron Tiger went with Fan Zhen'er to watch from a nearby wine shop, but Wei Ziying remained hidden near some trees as did Wang Haoyang. 

Qixia walked to Hei Ling, stopping twenty paces from him. "Let's settle this matter now husband."

Hei Ling unleashed a blast of energy at her with his Emanating Palm technique, but she was able to nullify it with her own internal energy. Qixia threw a storm of ten of her candy skewers at Hei Ling, but he used deflecting canopy and sent them hurling back at her with the fabric of his robes. The skewers all struck her and she quickly swallowed a pill kept in a gourd beneath her robes. 

Once again Hei Ling unleashed his Emanating Palm on Qixia, but this time she tried to reverse the energy on him, starting a Qi Duel. The duel, Hei Ling lost and was blasted by a powerful explosion of force. 

The two stood, both wounded and near death. 

Qixia crouched and began to launch her charging Croak of the Toad attack. Hei Ling had been seriously injured by this strike previously when their daughter, Li Liang, attacked him with it. He leaned back and dipped low. Using his Strike of the Spider technique, he sliced her belly with his hands as she glided past him. She fell to the ground quite dead. 

STAND-OFF WITH THE BLACK SUN GANG 

Qixia's men left the teahouse and approached Hei Ling. Ten had Flying Guillotines. 

Hei Ling tried to persuade the men to join with him. They said while they no longer had any quarrel with the him, they had another master in Dee, Fragrant Sword of the Golden Heroes and were obligated to report back to him. Wang Haoyang and Wei Ziying knew Fragrant Sword to be a powerful master and the lover of Qixia. Hei Ling was not at ease with the thought of these men going back to Fragrant Sword so he gave them an ultimatum, which they respectfully refused. 

Before they could unleash their flying guillotines, they were rapidly dispatched by the party, something made that much easier because they had already been wounded by Wang Haoyang's Sword Whipping Strike. 

A sheriff had witnessed the match and approached, asking what had happened. They convinced him Qixia and her men were notorious killers and celestial plume smugglers. So he had his men gather the bodies and survivors. Not many survived though as the party had been surreptitiously killing all the fallen men in the street and teahouse. 

The party retrieved 10 bottles of antidote from Qixia's corpse before it was buried, and a scroll encased in gold that read "To Li Liang, daughter of Qixia and Hei Ling". They did not open it for fear it was trapped. 

A message reached Hei Ling from Leng Ziying, informing him that Long Ma Hall and the 87 Killers had formed an alliance. This was troubling news as the 87 Killers had been suffering numerous set-backs and defeats. 

They had learned from one of the dying men that a shipment of Celestial Plume would soon arrive, and they planned to rob it. This is where the session ended. 





*Because the session ended last week with the party just learning that Qixia was above them, I made a point of not doing any preparation or planning between sessions. I felt that Qixia was being taken off-guard so I shouldn't have anything like a strategy or plan in mind for her. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

CELESTIAL PLUME MASTERS SESSION SEVEN

This was the seventh session of my Celestial Plume Masters campaign using the Sons of Lady 87 book, which was just released in print. You can see the first session HERE. You can see the fifth and sixth sessions HERE

PLAYER CHARACTERS 

Wei Ziying: A skilled poisoner and physician, with ties to the Relentless Corpse Sect, Wei Ziying is a disciple of the Celestial Plume Masters. He also has a longstanding friendship with Kuo Qingzhao, who wishes to know more about the poisons that killed his wife (poisons Wei Ziying knows the secrets of). Grudge: Ravenous Nun Xuanji (for the murder of Red Eagle)

Wang Haoyang: A master of stealth, Wang Haoyang is one of the Celestial Plume Master disciples. He has a lifelong friendship with Pei Ye of the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, but has attracted the affection of another member of that organization, Fan Zhen'er (he does not return the affection but wishes to avoid creating friction within the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, and possibly creating enemies). Grudge: Guan Nuan (for a duel he escaped, she feels she lost face because he was weaker than her and should have been an easy victory)

Hei Ling: A one-eyed chief in the Celestial Plume Masters, Hei Ling is the father of Li Liang, whom he wishes to cease practicing her Toad Style kung fu because of the physical toll on her body. He had Li Liang with Qixia the candied fruit in his youth and since then Qixia has grown hostile. He has a working relationship with the Wu Sisters. Grudge: Qixia the Candied Fruit Vendor (of Hai'an). Grudge: Qixia (many reasons related to their pre-existing relationship)

Iron Tiger: The newest member of the party, sent by Night Thorn to help them expand. He has a longstanding friendship with Iron Beggar Sun Kang, whom he wants to leave his lap of luxury in the House of Flying Lanterns so he can train with the Nature Loving Monks and improve his Kung Fu. Iron Beggar in turn wants Iron Tiger to leave the Celestial Plume Masters. Grudge: Pei Ye (he murdered her favorite client, Golden Cobra). 

THE TIGER AND THE TOAD 

Iron Tiger went south with Wei Ziying in search of Li Liang, the daughter of Hei Ling. His aim was to find her and defeat her in a duel so that she would lose her confidence in her Toad Kung Fu. The two searched and were told that Li Liang could be found on Boulder Hill. Going there to seek her and hopefully catch her by surprise, she appeared suddenly behind them and demanded to know who they were. Iron Tiger had kept his face concealed the entire journey and gave her a fake name saying he wanted to try her Kung Fu. 

Art by Jackie Musto 

The battle proved one sided*. While Li Liang was able to poison Iron Tiger with her expulsion of the toad technique, the venom was too slow and had little effect during their duel. Iron Tiger used his Iron Tiger Destruction to break her leg so she could not crouch low (he had seen her use this stance against their leader). He then countered one of her strikes with Defense of the Tiger, breaking her sternum so she would be less able to generate power. His purpose in breaking her bones was to make sure she would need to spend months recovering and be unable to train for her appointed duel with Hei Ling. 


WANG HAOYANG MEETS SIMA HAO 

Wang Haoyang needed a treatment to improve his martial arts so he went to Sima Hao, who re-aligned his meridians. Initially when Sima Hao saw Haoyang demonstrate his martial arts in order to prepare for the procedure, he offered to do it in exchange for his assassination services. But Wang Haoyang said he would need to speak with his boss first and instead paid Sima Hao in spades**

Hei Ling also met with Rong E'hua and her men, sending them on a mission to Mai Cun to burn Lady 87's storage and rob a bank***. 

INTEROGATING BEGGARS 

Hei Ling was informed by Leng Ziying that a new source of plume had entered the city and that it was being sold by beggars (possibly of the Nature Loving Monk Sect). Wang Haoyang searched the city and met with a woman named named Drunken Cricket who seemed to be a beggar. He gave her taels in exchange for information the next day. 

Later Hei Ling and Wang Haoyang arranged a meeting with the local chief of the Nature Loving Monks, Qu Wanli. They asked about the celestial plume source and Qu Wanli said he had no reason to lie, that he had obtained it from the Black Sun Gang and was selling it to help a greater cause. The party investigated the Black Sun Gang and learned they had set up shop in Jinsa at the White Cloud Mountain Teahouse. 

Hei Ling then met with Iron God Meng, who told his friend to 'be still' as he was handling a venomous cobra for some mysterious aim. He explained his intention to go to Jinsa and deal with the Black Sun Gang, asking for some of Iron God Meng's men to accompany him (which Iron God Meng allowed). 

The next morning Wang Haoyang went to meet with Drunken Cricket who asked for more money for her information. He refused, they got into an argument and he threatened her by saying he never forgot a face. She seemed uninterested in his threat and told him to take a good look so he would remember her.  

A RIVAL IN PLUME**** 

The party headed to Jinsa to confront Black Sun Gang. There they went to Nie's Tax Contracting Services after hearing he was a local bully. Iron Tiger dueled with him, breaking bones as he had done with Li Liang. This time he used a kick to break Nie's pelvis. This intimidated Nie and impressed Nie's men. Their plan was to recruit men for a school, and the public display was successful but only attracted men who were not very promising recruits. They arranged to work with Nie and his men, and went to the White Cloud Mountain Teahouse to learn about the Black Sun Gang. 

They were told by Nie Guiying that Black Sun Gang was led by a woman, and that the men all wielded the legendary Flying Guillotines.  

At the White Mountain Teahouse they got a private dining room on the second floor. Above them, on the third floor, they could hear a loud group, who they soon learned were the gang they were after. However in the din of their laugher, Hei Ling heard a familiar cackle, the voice of his daughter's mother, Qixia the Candied Fruit Vendor. 

This is where the session ended. 





*The techniques used by Iron Tiger are experimental and being play tested. They seemed overpowered in this initial fight and the one that happened later in the session. I made one adjustment to a key technique and will probably make others as we go. This is usually how I handle techniques players make for their own characters (something I often allow) because it can be harder to gauge than when I make the techniques myself.

**What Wang Haoyang didn't realize, though the player may suspect as he has encountered this character in prior campaigns, is that Sima Hao used his Pulse Ending Fingers technique to set Wang Haoyangs final heart beat to one year's time. He intends to use this to demand the assassination services he had requested. 

***She succeeded and stole 2 million spades from a local bank but this information has not yet reached the party. To determine if she succeeded I had the Hei Ling's player make a series of rolls based on Rong E'hua's Qi Rank and the difficulty of the tasks. The 2 million was determined by a roll I made based on the level of success the player had made (successes are either Normal or Total, and in this case there were several rolls so that gave me room to interpret things according to results). 

****This was the product of the Sect Shake Up roll at the start of the session which resulted in "A new source of celestial plume enters the region". Unlike other results on the table, this one does not ask for another roll to determine who is involved, so I decided that Qixia the Candy Fruit Vendor was most appropriate as she has been trying to get revenge against Hei Ling the whole campaign. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

THE EVIL RPG PUBLISHER'S GUIDE TO MAKING MONEY

With all the news about the OGL, I thought it would be a useful public service to provide some guidelines for any evil RPG companies out there, especially the smaller more boutique operations, seeking to increase their wealth through nefarious means. Here is simple advice you can use to increase profits in the name of all that is wicked and unholy. 

1. MONETIZE EVERYTHING  

Once you understand everything is under-monetized, the only limit to how much money you can make is your creativity. People have all kinds of assumptions about what they rightly own, what fees companies can charge, etc. What you need to do is find unexpected ways to turn your customer's money into your money. For example, companies often sell their RPG books with no restrictions on ownership. Instead of selling books you could lease them, and you could even build in fees for damage to the book at the end of the lease. This allows you to keep selling your book to the same customer, over and over again. 

And don't let the law or tradition get in the way here. With a little bullying and a small legal team, you can try all kinds of crazy things. Charge a dice tax and include legal language in your rulebook that monetizes the rolling of dice. Most people don't have enough money to defend themselves in court so even if this approach is treading questionable legal ground, it will still make you tons of cash and that's what is truly important. 

2. ABANDON SCRUPLES AND MAKE MONEY 

If you want to make money in RPGs you must be unashamed and unethical. Once you abandon your scruples, then a wide world of tactics previously unavailable to you become possible. Also you won't be hindered by nagging pangs of guilt for all the misery and pain you cause. This will then allow you to make the choices that bring wealth. And once you have resources, you can truly commit to a campaign of evil the industry has never before seen. 

3. HIRE GOONS 

Obviously it's crucial to have a solid legal team and an army of trolls and sock puppets at your disposal, but never underestimate the power of old fashioned muscle. This is the stark line that sets apart the ordinary evil publishers from the extraordinary evil publishers. People who don't respond to online intimidation or legal threats are often very receptive to broken bones and contusions. So make sure you budget to hire the right kind of criminal element who understand the cruder forms of persuasion. 

4. BUILD DEATH RAYS

Sometimes dice taxes and hired goons just aren't enough. If you are dealing with a rival company, especially one that has a lot of good will among gamers, you need to up your game and build a death ray to destroy them. This isn't going to be easy, and it will be a costly investment, but ultimately it will be worth every penny. Provided you have taken all the necessary steps to exploit your customers for maximum profit, you should have the resources for this. But if you don't there are other options. 

5. START A DRUG EMPIRE 

If you are having difficulty finding the capital to invest in all your evil activities, dip your toes into the illegal drug trade. This is always profitable and a great way to get a quick burst of cash. There are dangers, obviously, so you don't want to do any of the work on the ground here. You need middle men to absorb most of the risk, but you must also be careful none of them can rise high enough to turn against you. This is a place your hired goons and super fans can be quite useful. Remember to bribe all necessary local officials and keep separate books for your drug money. Also make sure this is purely a supplemental venture to generate revenue for your evil RPG activities. Drug empires can be a huge distraction if you are not careful. 

6. BUILD A HIDDEN BASE 

If you can kill your rivals with death rays, they can kill you with death rays. And law enforcement is a constant threat. So you need to establish a secret and well-protected lair from which all your malevolent activities can be conducted. Uncharted islands are a good option, and something underground can work, but the best choice, if you can afford it, is a base on a moon. A lunar fortress is inaccessible to virtually all of your enemies and challenging for most governments to reach. And you will need a hidden base to achieve the apex of evil RPG publishing. 

7. BECOME A ROGUE STATE 

When local authorities try to arrest you for trafficking narcotics, or when when your questionable dice taxes land you in court, you need to become the law so you can be above the law. This may be the hardest thing you will ever do, but if you've come this far there is no turning back. You've abandoned your scruples, you've committed criminal acts of violence and threatened people with advanced lethal technology. You have no choice, you need to become a rogue state. Forming a rogue state is no easy task. You will require defenses to keep rival competition and other states from toppling you. If you already have a death ray, this will be useful but insufficient for the purposes of deterring a large government with a powerful military. You must acquire a nuclear arsenal, with long range capabilities (at least 5,500 kilometers), and you should obtain said arsenal before becoming a rogue state. In addition you will have numerous domestic responsibilities such holding sham elections, maintaining a vibrant propaganda machine and less savory activities. 





















Disclaimer: Obviously this is purely intended as humor