This was the Twenty First 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 twentieth session HERE.
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 FOX KILLING GRANNY^
Hei Ling found the Nature Loving Monks receptive to his letters. The first to reach out was Fox Killing Granny, one of the chiefs placed in charge of a remote region. They learned from their informants that she resented her position as she was one of the most skilled martial artists in the organization. They also learned she was given the post in question because of an impulsive and cruel nature, though her cruelty was often in service of righteous causes. She was presently trying to capture the leader of the Jade Owl Bandits, believing her to be an escaped consort of the emperor who carried his child. However she was disobeying the orders of the Nature Loving Monks by hounding and killing members of the Jade bandits in this pursuit.
She arrived and addressed Hei Ling in straight forward manner, saying she would work with him, despite his dabbling in the celestial plume trade, if he could help ensure her takeover of the leadership position in the northern region of the beggar's territory. She also said she would only work with him if he agreed to not work with any of the other Nature Loving Monk chiefs.
They spoke for some time and most of the party was against working with here. She told him she wished to have an answer before sunset and he agreed to speak privately with her after deliberating with his men.
In the meantime Iron Tiger sent his men to obtain fireworks and a loud horn.
When the time came Fox Killing Granny met with Hei Ling in private and she made clear that she knew Feng the Wanderer, another nature loving monk chief, would come speak with him after sunset. She believed he was working with the empire, and she warned him that imperial agents had infiltrated both their organizations. If he murdered Feng the Wanderer, that would give her the opening she needed to become head chief of the north. Even though his men had expressed skepticism of the arrangement, Hei Ling was persuaded by her words and agreed.
After Fox Killing Granny left, Hei Ling told his men who largely accepted his decision. However Iron Tiger objected and said he wanted no part in the killing. He would go south instead and find the daughter of an another chief, arrange a marriage and create an alliance that seemed more reliable than the cruel granny.
The party was distressed but determined that Iron Tiger was a free enough agent that this wouldn't violate her expectation that Hei Ling not work with other chiefs in her organization. Iron Tiger departed and the party awaited the arrival of Feng the Wanderer.
On his way out of the city, Feng the Wanderer saw twenty cranes gathering in the sky.
OMENS AT GUAN MANOR
Feng the Wanderer arrived, bringing a gift of golden taels and dressed in expensive robes. He praised Hei Ling and offered an alliance that would benefit them both. Hei Ling humored him but, knowing tomorrow was an auspicious day for killing, told Feng the Wanderer that he would be an honored guest, giving him quarters that night. Wei Ziying, who possessed the Yao Rattling Sabre, felt the hilt of his weapon rattle and realized Yao were nearby.
They scouted outside and saw a Yao spying on Guan Manor.
That night, Wei Ziying, Wang Hoayang and Dan Zhen'er went out and attacked the Yao. It was easy business with the Yao Rattling Saber but they knew the legends and dismembered the corpse, putting its body parts in chests with secure locks and chains.
Art by Jackie Musto
Then they snuck into Feng's room, where Hei Ling stabbed him in the belly. Feng told him the empire would come after him for his actions. Hei Ling finished him off once he had confirmation he was an imperial agent.
After the killing Hei Ling's men told him there were 20 cranes circling Guan Manor, so he called for an Astrologer. They also discovered that the chest in which the torso of the Yao had been placed was moving. They examined the head and identified the Yao's name. Then Wei Ziying performed a ritual to extract the phoenix spirit of the Yao and house it in a cauldron. This caused the torso to stop moving.
Astrologer Leng Guozhong arrived, a knowledgeable astrologer and scholar in his 80s with a curious obsession with Hen-Shi. He agreed to enter Hei Ling's service if they provided room and board and helped give him access to printing so he could disseminate his works.
Examining the cranes he told them a similar sign had been seen when the Righteous Emperor came to power so he interpreted it as they had gained favor with the Enlightened Goddess. When told of the circumstances, he said they had acted in accordance with heaven's will. But he warned them that the Enlightened Goddess could relinquish her favor if they acted against her will.
THE COURTSHIP OF XIN PING
Iron Tiger was not keen on the group's plan to work with Fox-Killing Granny and headed to Li Fan with his retinue to find the daughter of chief Xin Shi, Xin Ping, to propose marriage and help create an alliance.
He found her working as a waitress at the Golden Pavilion. Initially she was quite rude, and he asked her why she was so irritated. She told him she didn't like people like him, people from the empire. She pointed to his clothes which were not how the locals dressed.
They bickered back and forth for a bit, but eventually said he was interested in courting her. She was embraced and somewhat shocked by his directness but smiled after thinking for a minute.
"You and your men look pretty tough," She said scanning the room as her eyes settled on a man in the back who was laden with weapons and exuded a dangerous aura. "Can you beat him?"
"Yes," Said Iron Tiger.
"Very well," she said. "If you can beat him in a fight, I will talk more to you about this matter"
Iron Tiger walked over to the man's table and saluted him, "Greetings sir, I was hoping you and I could have a friendly match outside to test one another's kung fu."
The man motioned for Iron Tiger to sit and poured wine for him. "Drink."
"Greatly appreciated my friend," Said Iron Tiger, "But I do not drink wine."
The man sneered and attacked with a powerful palm strike. However He missed and in the next instant, Iron Tiger snapped his arm against the table and the man gave up.
He spent the next several days getting to know Xin Ping and was quickly able to persuade her to agree to a marriage*. On the way back to Mai Cun he learned that Xin Ping disliked her father.
THE MATCH MAKING GRANNY
Hei Ling decided it was time to help his friend Scholar Han in his pursuit of Silver Chrysanthemum. He summoned a woman named Luo Rong the Matchmaking Granny. He presented her with information about their birthdays. He also told her about the couple. The Matchmaking Granny said she was happy to act as a matchmaker but believed the woman would only give Scholar Han a chance if he could master a truly impressive martial arts technique, as his talents were not widely respected in the martial world.
Hei Ling went to Scholar Han and convinced him to come back to Mai Cun and become a pupil of Twin Dagger Zuan Shanhu. He agreed and when he was brought before Twin Dagger she was willing to accept him as a pupil and instruct him in her dagger techniques. She also proposed helping him devise a technique that complimented the Chrysanthemum Daggers.
^ I had a cold this session and over the weekend so I opted to write this entry in a more straight forward manner than other ones.
*The player in this instance had asked about relatives of Nature Loving Monk chefs. I didn't have much information on that so I just randomly determined if each one had aunts, daughters, etc. When it was determined that Xin Shi had a daughter I decided she was a waitress in Li Fan and not on good terms with her father. I also figured she had lived a rough life, being the daughter of an absent Nature Loving Monk, and would respond positively to someone who could both help her find stability and prove a tough character (and that toughness would be the deciding factor). When the player first introduced himself to her I asked in what way he was presenting himself (i.e. was he playing up his toughness, his wealth, his knowledge of the martial world, his intelligence, his courteousness). He said he was going to present as a dangerous figure and that was the thing that indicated to me she would be open to his proposal if she could make him jump through the appropriate hoops.