Saturday, June 22, 2024


This was the fifteenth session 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.

Fu Yao: The newest member of the party. Not much is known about his past but he specializes in Qinggong. 

Campaign Note: Due to learning an evil technique, Bao Long's eyes changed, so that his whites became black and his pupils white. And due to the acquisition of another evil technique he has gained the Lust for Divinity Flaw. 


In River Village the characters waited for Guan Nuan to come for Hell Burning Sword's head.

From their room in the Plum Tree Inn they heard a rapping at their door. Iron Naga Tian gazed at Bao Long when he answered. 

"The 82nd Lady of the Guan Family wishes to have a private conversation."

Bao Long followed Iron Naga Tian to Guan Nuan's inn room. She had set it up like an audience hall and received Bao Long. 

"Greetings Nephew. Where is the body of Hell Burning Sword?"

"It is here for you to take. In our room."

Art by Jackie Musto 
"This will please The 87th Lady of the Guan Family," She said. "I must advise you to avoid this area until your banishment has ended. I suggest you remain on the western side of the canal to be safe."

"Thank you Ma'am," Said Bao Long. He then handed her 1,000 silver taels. 

"What is this?"

"This is a gift for you from us," Said Bao Long.

"Where did you get this sum?"

"Through our business arrangements."

She looked thoughtfully at the taels. "You have done well and I appreciate the gift. I will make a point of looking after your facility in Mai Cun during your absence." 

Later Iron Naga Tian retrieved the body and cut off the head to take with them to Lady 87. The party discussed what next to do, as Dancing Corpse Wan Mei was eager to resume training and build their sect. They agreed to spend time training in Wu Zhen at Little Guan Hua's father's house. Fu Yao asked leave to tend to something important but promised to meet them within a month. 


In Wu Zhen Bao Long and Little Guan Hua continued their training. Nie Ping and Dancing Corpse Wan Mei were given quarters as well. 

Wan Mei instructed Bao Long in her Festering Palm technique. A week or two into their efforts Guan Shisu informed Little Guan Hua that two groups of men had arrived seeking audiences, one of them wished to speak with her, while the other sought Bao Long. She arranged for them to meet the three men seeking Bao Long first. 

"We are the Shan Brothers," said one of the men. "And we have come in hopes of being disciples of the great Bao Long."

Little Guan Hua looked them over, disapproving of their unkempt and dirty appearances. "If my brother accepts you, you will be given some of our bath beans and bathe daily."

The men nodded and said "Yes, we apologize for our crude presentation. And promise to do so if Bao Long accepts us."

Bao Long considered their request and said "Please give me a demonstration of you abilities first."

The first brother, Yan, fired a rapid sequence of arrows that built into a near cloud. These fell upon Bao Long, who resisted them, but hit Little Guan Hua, injuring her. 

"Apologies Ma'am!"

"Because you offered your apology instantly, I will forgive" Said Little Guan Hua. 

The next brother, Ziying, stepped forward, bowed and said "With permission my demonstration must be made up close."

Bao Long nodded and let him approach. The prospective disciple unleashed an aggressive and powerful stab with his dagger, which Bao Long absorbed in his belly, pinning the blade in place."

"Very good," Said Bao Long.

The last brother, Zhen, approached as well and struck Bao Long with a finger upon the elbow, causing a well of nausea to rise in his stomach, followed by a cloudiness in his mind. 

Bao Long nodded and said "We will give you..."

A servant of the household rushed into the audience chamber, a pale look on his face. "Madame Guan Hua," He said. "I think you should come to Nie Ping's chambers right away."

They went to Nie Ping's room and found her body on the floor, the head completely removed and nowhere to be seen. The bronze mirror before her was dented, and blood pooled on the wooden floor.* 

Inspecting the wound, Little Guan Hua saw it was a perfect cut, and not from an ordinary blade. There were also cuts on the insides of her knuckles. She had a stab wound in her back as well. 

Little Guan Hua addressed the servant. "Tell everyone to investigate this immediate and report any strange comings or goings in the house hold. Put everyone on alert."


Fu Yao stood before King Archer in his reception room at Long Ma Hall. 

"Who are you and why have you come to me?"

"I am Fu Yao, student of Hua Yin, and come hoping to learn from you. You martial arts are highly respected, and you are esteemed in the martial world."

"I will not teach a student who serves a villain like Hua Yin."

"What if I cut ties with my Master?"

"You cut ties with your teacher so easily?" King Archer looked at him sternly. "You do not sound like a hero to me."

"I have heard of your incredible kung fu, and believe if I possessed it, I would be unstoppable, I am willing to do what it takes to gain it, and would leave my master's service if this sets me on the right path."

"Please sir," Said King Archer. "You seem interested in power not what is righteous. You want our martial arts simply to inflict them upon the world." 

"I am willing to walk the righteous path, please I accept your instructions humbly."

"We do not share out kung fu with men bent on power."

"I understand but chief, I am willing to do whatever it takes to learn from you. I have here a manual of Gentle Sage, with his most feared techniques. I will gladly gift it to you if you instruct me along the righteous path."

"I don't seek to learn his kung fu, if you were a hero you would have chucked it in a fire long ago," Said King Archer. 

Without saying a word, Fu Yao tossed the manual into a brazier and let it burn.

"You have set one foot on the path," Said King Archer. "A mere foot, nothing more." 

"Please instruct me."

"A year," Said King Archer. "A year of walking on the path. Be a good man for a year, do the works of justice and protect the weak from the oppressive and hellbent, then I will consider, simply consider, taking you as a disciple." 

Fu Yao thanked King Archer and promised to take his advice. 

He left for The Vermillion Bird Teahouse and got an audience with Hua Yin. 

He spoke with her and made pleasantries but then got to the point. 

"Master, I must ask you a question. I wish to learn Long Ma Hall's techniques, but do to so, they say I cannot associate with you, and so I wanted to know how you feel about this."

"You wish for me to give you leave, to no longer be my student?"

"Yes Master. I believe with Long Ma Hall's martial arts, I would be like a god."

Hua Yin's eyes fumed. "You will remove yourself from my presence immediately."

"I apologize Master, I meant no offense to you."

"You will get out of my sight this instant," She said. "There are no more ties between us. After accepting me as your sole master you repay me with this disloyalty? I suggest you leave quickly before my anger boils over." 

Fu Yao left hastily, as he did so, one of the Vermillion Birds whispered to him "Be wary, she will certainly try to kill you. She will hound you and you won't know any peace."

He raced back to Long Ma Hall and was given another audience. This time King Archer appeared with his daughter and second chief, Yao Shanhu, by his side. 

"Has a year passed so quickly?"

"Forgive me King Archer," said Fu Yao. "I wanted to let you know I have severed tied with Hua Yin and intend to spend the next year cultivating virtue." 

"How did she react?"

"It would seem I am a man on the run, she will surely come after me and try to kill."

King Archer contemplated the situation. "Well I can't ignore your plight after setting you on this path.....If she is coming after you, I suppose I must assist within the bounds of reason."

"I did this to follow the righteous path as you instructed, there is no need for you to reward me, I only hope you will teach me to be a good man."

"Cut the nonsense!" Said King Archer. "I know perfectly well you only severed ties to learn my martial arts. Get to the heart of it: which of my techniques did you have an interest in mastering?"

"In truth King Archer, I had hoped to learn your daughter's Raging Bear Stance, I have heard it is quite impressive."

"You ask a lot," Said King Archer. "But you have also earned a terrifying enemy in Hua Yin. What will you do for me in exchange?"

"Anything you say sir."



"Very well," Said King Archer. "Three contracts. Three contracts signed and left blank for me to fill, that you promise to complete, no matter the task, when you receive." 

"Umm," Fu Yao hesitated. "I would just add the provision that none of these contracts ever ask me to harm any of my current associates."

"Good," Said King Archer. "I can promise they will never require you harm current associates, but I make no promises concerning future ones."

Fu Yao agreed and was placed under the care of Yao Shanhu to learn from her over the next couple of weeks. When he was done he returned to Wu Zhen and met up with his companions. He arrived just after the murder of Nie Ping. 


As the investigation into Nie Ping's death was underway, Little Guan Hua received the three men who petitioned her. They were all dressed like scholars and carried parasols, introducing themselves as Chao, Dong and Lu. 

Little Guan Hua was impressed by their refined greeting and manners. "What is it you seek from me."

"We wish to become your disciples**. We admire your sophistication and worldliness and can think of no better teacher. Though our skills are not high, we have trained on our own and are not without some measure of ability."

"What would you say is your greatest asset?"

"Our minds Madame Guan Hua."

Pleased Little Guan Hua gave them quarters and said she would accept them. She also told them to use their minds to help them improve their products. They began work on a singing tea cup concept. 

As the investigation unfolded, they resumed their training with Dancing Corpse Wan Mei, and Bao Long mastered her Festering Palm technique. However this triggered a change in him and he began having aspirations to become a powerful divinity, like a dragon god made from Obsidian. 

He then commissioned a black smith to make him a jian with a dragon motif and robes in the style of a Yen-Li priest with dragon scales. 

One morning a box arrived addressed to Wan Mei. Little Guan Hua had a servant open it, and inside was Nie Ping's head with a note that said "A gift from the Ladies of the Dawn."

They asked Dancing Corpse Wan Mei what she knew about them.

"They were my old order," Said Dancing Corpse Wan Mei. "I poisoned them for the Dawn Sabre. But I am sure I killed all of them."

"Perhaps one or two escaped," Said Little Guan Hua.

"Perhaps, though my poisoning was quite thorough," she said. 

Fu Yao interjected "Is it possible, that were you to give these people the Dawn Sabre they might let go of this grudge?"

"The Dawn Sabre belongs to me, it was my husband's and I can never relinquish it...besides, it gives me deep insights into the world." 

By this point in the investigation, Little Guan Hua had already deduced the weapon used to kill Nie Ping was a flying guillotine, something known in theory but beyond the ability of anyone to physically engineer. 

"Was there anyone in your order Master," Said Little Guan Hua, "Who fought with a flying guillotine?"

"No, but there was one smart enough to make one, a woman named Shan Miaohui."

The group called for a Ritual Master to help them deal with the problem after learning from the household physician that the Feng Shui in Nie Ping's chamber was strange. 

A ritual master named Don Lian arrived and began performing a strange dance with a peach tree sword the the halls. He interviewed people as well and reported back to Little Guan Hua that evening. 

He said there was phoenix energy radiating from the mirror. The physician also reported that servants had seen strange things in other reflective surfaces like the pond.

"I believe someone is using reflective sources to attack from elsewhere, and anyone capable of this, in my opinion is not human. Perhaps a spirited thing or immortal. I recommend drawing covers over all reflective surfaces, keeping the bath basins empty and destroying what mirrors you have."

"Can we bring any harm to the attacker?" Asked Bao Long. 

"The mirror is one way, but I know a ritual that might enable me to ensnare whoever is attacking with a rope. I imagine they are very powerful though."

The party discussed the matter, and Dancing Corpse Wan Mei expressed concern that she had no clarity on how powerful Shan Miaohui was, were it in fact her. As they discussed a possible way to set up an ambush, Little Guan Hua dropped her tea cup. 

"I can't bathe!" she said. 

People looked at her questioningly. 

"So long as we can't have reflective surfaces, I can't bathe!"

"So, who cares about bathing at the moment?" Said Dancing Corpse 

"I can't be dirty and filthy," Said Little Guan Hua. "We must set this ambush now!"

"But I am not sure how powerful Shan Miaohui is, we don't even know if it is her."

The party discussed it further, finally settling on staging an ambush that night. They placed a mirror int he open courtyard, offered one of the magistrates prisoners clemency if he would stand as bait and waited around the periphery. 

A flying guillotine flew from within the mirror. Bao Long charged in and took control of it with the Unfurling Hand of Bing and landed it back on the attacker through the mirror. He pulled the cord but it came back empty. 

The ritual master cast his rope and tugged. It was too much weight for him to pull so Little Guan Hua and Fu Yao helped him heave the figure through. 

A woman in red robes was lashed to the rope. 

"This is not Shan Miaohui." Said Dancing Corpse Wan Mei. 

"Who are you?" insisted Little Guan Hua.

The woman smiled and seemed unconcerned about the threat posed by the group. "I am Da Ning, a disciple of the dawn."

"Who is your master and what do you want?"

"My master is the Immortal Shan Miaohui and she wants the dawn saber and to bring Dancing Corpse Wan Mei to justice."

An argument broke out between the disciple and the party as they accused her of killing innocent people and having no moral high ground. She claimed Nie Ping was guilty as she was an associate of Dancing Corpse. During the conversation she began insulting Dancing Corpse by calling her Jia Jia the Laughing Freak, her old nickname. 

They said they would take the woman hostage and work out what to do. However Da Ning was utterly unconcerned, her willingness to go along with being their prisoner made them uneasy, as they hadn't yet defeated her.

"Let's do this in a more civilized way," Said Little Guan Hua. "Can you relay messages to your master through the mirror?"


"Send her a message, if you are willing, saying we understand she has a grudge with our master and we are willing to let it be settled in a fight, but request that it take place in two years time."

The woman agreed and sent a message through. Moments later a sealed letter flew out the mirror and Little Guan Hua read it:

Challenge is accepted. In two years, we meet at the base of mount dao. Please return my disciple. 

The disciple departed through the mirror. Her flying guillotine was still in the hands of Bao Long. Little Guan Hua summoned the three men she had taken as disciples. 

"I want to put you towards a better use. Stop work onto tea cup and begin reverse engineering this device." 

*While the players were receiving the prospective disciples, I had them roll on behalf of Nie Ping for this fight without telling them what it was related to (I simply told them to roll different dice pools for me, each of which represented her attacks, counters, speed rolls, Muscle rolls to escape, etc).

**To give some background here and to give some behind the scenes, as the players have formally been working to create a sect and headquarters (the headquarters is an ongoing project not yet launched but planned), I started using some rules I created for sect management. Part of these rules include rolling on a chart every time players level to see if they attract disciples. 

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