Wednesday, March 27, 2024


These were the fifth through seventh sessions of my Heavenly Fragrance Campaign, a living adventure prepared using tools and procedures discussed in the Wuxia Sandbox blog posts. This campaign is intended to play as a sandbox but with more dramatic elements. It is a two player campaign where run in what I call "Condor Heroes Mode", where characters begin with only one Kung Fu technique, their family background established and connected to the setting, and using a level advancement system based on encounters with higher level masters who train them. It also makes use of a campaign Shake-Up table, rolled once each session, to manage an unfolding background situation (see STATE OF THE MARTIAL WORLD). I will include footnotes to explain what procedures were invoked during play. The campaign is set in Fan Xu, largely using the Sons of Lady 87 book. 


Bao Long: An orphaned street urchin who was adopted by Lady Eighty-Seven's son, Guan Shisu after he came to the aid of Guan Shisu's daughter, Little Guan Hua. All he knows about his background is that his mother died when he was young. Bao Long has been taught some martial arts by Lady Eighty-Four, Yuhuan. Bao Long is a bit dim-witted but tough. 

Little Guan Hua: The daughter of Guan Shisu and the disciple of Guan Nuan. Little Guan Hua is cowardly and feeble, but intelligent.  


With the help of their Sifu, Dancing Corpse Wan Mei, they arranged to meet Lady Plum Blossom to settle the disagreement at an appointed location and time outside the Yaogui Forest. Sending a message, they had told her that Invincible Pipa was captured and buried alive; if she did not meet them alone, Invincible Pipa would die. After discussion Dancing Coprse agreed they should defeat Lady Plum Blossom but hang her from a Plum Blossom Tree after. 

When the party arrived, Lady Plum Blossom was there and agreed to face them in a duel. Both Lady Plum Blossom and Dancing Corpse lashed at one another with their fly whisks but neither could hit their target. Bao Long shifted the tide with his Biting Blade technique, impaling Lady Plum Blossom with his sword. Lady Plum Blossom unleashed a plague of sharp blossoms on Dancing Corpse. The fight ended when Bao Long struck Lady Plum Blossom again with his blade. 

Art by Jackie Musto 

"Stand back," Said Dancing Corpse Wan Mei,"I have an idea." Before the party could react she gripped Lady Plum Blossom's head with her palm and began draining her life energy.

Lady Plum Blossom dropped to the ground, a husk of flesh. 

"She will rise in 10 days or so," Said Dancing Corpse. "Then she will be my slave."

"Sifu, I thought we were going to hang her from a tree."

"I changed my mind."

"Why did you change your mind Master?" 

"Because I am fickle," Dancing Corpse heaved the body of Lady Plum Blossom and they began their track back to the homestead. 


After they returned, their Sifu said she would travel, taking the walking corpse of Lady Plum Blossom with her for protection, to go into seclusion and strive for a breakthrough in her martial arts, so she would be powerful enough to face Fan Batu with their assistance. She instructed them to travel the world and seek out new martial arts in her absence. She gave Little Guan Hua specific instructions to Master the Pipa so she could kill Invincible Pipa (who was still imprisoned in a stone wall of their construction). She forbade her to leave the homestead and travel until she had complete this assignment. 

Bao Long decided to gather information about potential manuals and masters. Before leaving, Little Guan Hua suggested he consult with Iron God Meng in Tung-On at the Lucky Mountain Gambling Hall, a powerful master who commanded respect from the rest of the martial world. 

Making his way to Tung-On, Bao Long rented a luxury room at the Ox Tail Inn. There while he bathed in a basin, a man with two axes entered the chamber and sat down. He told Bao Long to continue, that he simply had a matter to discuss with him about South Wind Manor. Bao Long recognized him as Razor-Handed General, an important member of South Wind Manor. 

He informed Bao Long that he wanted to resolve their problem diplomatically. He wanted to know what happened to Lady Plum Blossom and where Invincible Pipa was. 

"I am not permitted by my Master to discuss this matter with you."

"Yes, I understand you are merely her disciple," He said. "Relay this message to Dancing Corpse Wan Mei: if she returns Invincible Pipa and Lady Plum Blossom to South Wind Manor, this conflict can come to a peaceful end."

Bao Long agreed to bring his master the message, and Razor-handed General departed. 

Later Bao Long headed to The Lucky Mountain Gambling Hall. On his way out of the inn he saw a Pipa player and took note. 

At Lucky Mountain Gambling Hall, Bao Long was brought before Iron God Meng, who was reclining in a room with many tall woven baskets and a balcony overlooking the city. 

"Greetings Iron God Meng," Bao Long said. "I am Bao Long of Heavenly Fragrance, and the grandson of 87th Lady of the Guan Family. I have come in hopes of learning from you."

Iron God Meng was intrigued and sat up. He asked for a demonstration of Bao Long's talents and what his specialties were. Bao Long told him everything he knew and he mentioned his sister, Little Guan Hua, was adept at the Fly Whisk. 

"Very Good," Said Iron God Meng. "I will take you as a student, if you put your hand in one of these baskets and don't die."

Without much thought, Bao Long picked a basket and put his hand deep inside, feeling nothing. 

Iron God Meng laughed and took Bao Long as his student. He spent time sparring with him and showing Iron Belly defense. He did not teach Bao Long this technique as he wasn't ready, but instead taught him Spearing Blade and Flesh Ripping Fingers.*

They spoke about Little Guan Hua and the need to find a suitable manual or master for her. Iron God Meng thought and said "My old teacher knew of a manual that was lost twenty years ago when she perished, The Manual of Master Gu Ruan. It related to fly whisks. Perhaps we can find this and I can settle an old grievance."

While Bao Long trained with Iron God Meng, Little Guan Hua mastered the pipa and was able to play a chord so beautiful, it moved Invincible Pipa to tears while she was still imprisoned in their stone wall. Because of her Passionless Heart martial arts, any emotion could shatter her internal organs. The chord resonated in her heart chamber, causing it to explode inside her chest. 


Little Guan Hua went to join her brother at the Lucky Mountain Gambling Hall and spoke with Iron God Meng. She tried to interest him in their bath beads but he was initially disdainful. When Little Guan Hua learned the background of the manual, that it was lost when Wan Mei Temple was destroyed, she suggested they go to then temple to seek information on Iron God Meng's behalf. Iron God Meng agreed to this and gave Bao Long a basket with a snake in it, telling him to learn the ways of snake charming during his travels. 

Sensing that the snake was venomous, Little Guan Hua gave a look and Iron God Meng seemed to remember. "Here" he said, giving Bao Long a gourd bottle with antidote "Use this if you are bitten." 

On their way to the temple they found a Snake Charmer in Tung-On and hired him to teach Bao Long. He brought to green snakes with him and informed them that the snake given by Iron God Meng was a King Cobra. He suggested feeding it other snakes and gave Bao Long a double-reeded flute and stick with a small hook on the end. 

Their trip to Wan Mei Temple was uneventful. Along the way the Snake Charmer gave instructions on snake handling to Bao Long**. They also took the time to scavenge for rats and snakes to feed to their own snakes. 

When they arrived, they saw smoke, as if from a camp fire coming from inside. They called and a monk came out introducing himself as Yun Wan. He told them his disciple was training inside the temple grounds. 

They explained why they were there and he told them their purposes were aligned, that he too was looking into this matter, but seeking the one responsible, Saffron Tigress, for the destruction of the temple. He could help and if they found the manual, he would let them have provided they assisted him in bringing the guilty party to justice. 

"I have an informal disciple named Nie Ping who is in Zha at the Chrysanthemum Rabbit. She is looking into the matter for me. Join her and work with her to find the manual."

They agreed and spent another four days heading to Zha. There they had a splendid meal of rabbit and discovered that Nie Ping was their waitress. They speak about Yun Wan and she tells them that she has a lead on Saffron Tigress. Someone told her that she is living under an assumed name in Daoxu village. However when they explained that their purpose was to bring her to justice, Nie Ping seemed confused, saying she was under the impression Saffron Tigress was a righteous hero. 

"We will need to be cautious in forming conclusions," Said Little Guan Hua. "Your teacher may have had his reasons for not revealing everything to you about Saffron Tigress. We must investigate this further." 

They went to Daoxu Village. They found a local inn and on the way into the place noticed women playing a game at a table. Little Guan Hua discerned that one of them moved too precisely, and seemed to have a mastery of martial arts, even though she was clearly trying to hide the fact. 

Going to their room they convinced Nie Ping to go down and ask the lady to come speak with them. 

There was a knock at their door and when they opened it they saw Nie Ping clutched by the lady, who had a hand readied to deliver a death blow. 

They told her that they knew who she was and explained what they were looking for. She informed them that she possessed the manual but that it wasn't her who burned down the temple, it was Yun Wan. She then left and returned with the manual to prove she had it. 

"Why should we believe you," Asked Bao Long. 

"Go to Iron God Meng at the Lucky Mountain Gambling Hall. He is a man of his word and he has personal knowledge of this matter." 

They agreed to go, and promised not to reveal her location to anyone. When they spoke with Iron God Meng he told them that Yun Wan destroyed the temple and murdered Saffron Tigress twenty years prior. When they told him that Yun Wan was at the temple, he insisted they all go so he could settle his grudge. 

Little Guan Hua told Iron God Meng that she knew where Saffron Tigress was. He grabbed her and screamed that Saffron Tigress was dead. But Little Guan Hua informed him she was alive. He demanded to be taken to her. She refused, so he struck her with a great slap across the face. 

Little Guan Hua rebuked him, and said she was disappointed to see him behave this way, that Saffron Tigress would not approve either. 

Eventually they agreed to take him to the general area where Saffron Tigress was, but not to her specific location. 

*This training took place over weeks, during which the player gained these techniques and +1d10 to Muscle and +1d10 to Throw. 

**This ultimately resulted in Bao Long gaining +1d10 Talent (Snake Charming) and +1d10 Talent (Flute)

1 comment:

  1. This is an impressive adventure! Your players seem to have handled various complex plots and characters very well. The setting and dramatic elements of the wuxia world make the whole story more vivid and interesting. Your descriptions of characters and scenes make readers feel like they are there. Looking forward to more updates about your Heavenly Fragrance Campaign!