Welcome to the first of the end of week writeup for August. This week saw the party moving through ruined villages and towns as they head towards Heavens Reach, Kyoko’s castle. While moving through the refugees of the ruined villages the party come under attack from form shifters.
After the party had found some horses that were in need of some new, living owners they continued north. The hope of a warm bed and hot meals quickly fades when they passed another village that was in the wake of violence left by the Shadows minions. As they passed through the village they noted that only some of the houses were destroyed whilst others looked like they had sustained minimal damage. But regardless of which of the villages along the northern road they travelled there were always bodies in some stage of mutilation or being devoured.
About three days travel from the Kunagi Ranges the party came across a village that was untouched. In fact as they asked around they quickly became aware that many of the people in this village were refugees from the previous village or some to the East.
“What’s east?” asked one of the players.
“The wall, our last defence from the shadow and the hordes of creatures that it commands in the mountains” Kyoko replied.
“We best make haste to your home Lady Kyoko, I fear that we spend too much time on these roads” Kuang said as he analyses the buildings and faces nearby.
As the party left the Village and headed north she watched from the side of the road. Posing as one of the refugees from an earlier village she had made it to this small town without any real issue. Now that she was seen as one of those who drifted, one of those in need it was easy to move from place to place without questions being asked which suited her purposes.
“Soon we will be rid of that princess. Once she leads me to the light.” Mugrave muttered quietly to herself as she moved to get some food. “Once I have taken care of the light then our plan wont fail” she said to the voice in her head. The Shadow was pleased with his servant and retreated back from the busy street.
“We won’t stay long in this village on our way to Heavens Reach.” Kyoko explained as she moved down the street, greeting villagers and guards like she was an old acquaintance of some. “I don’t like the idea of that spirit harming these innocent folk because we stayed a moment too long.”
“I agree. It’s best for your safety and the safety of others if we can return you home.” Kuang said as he uncharacteristically bent down and handed some food to a few small children who were begging for it.
Without warning one of the guards that had approached Kyoko drew their sword and lunged at the princess. The party sprang into action and within moments the guard lay at their feet. After a few moments of looking for other threats the body of the guard shuddered once and a gargling wheeze came forth from the body. As the shuddering stopped the body separated into finger length slugs that crawled into the ground leaving nothing behind.
Staring at the creature, the place where it was to be more exact, the party were unable to identify the creature. Kuang, Hana and Kyoko stared at some of the fleshy slug like creatures as they buried in the ground. Scooping one up and putting it in a glass bottle Kyoko examined the creature.
The skin of it appeared to take on the texture and colour of what body part, clothing or item it was imitating before it was reverted back to this fleshy slug form. After a few moments of it being captured in a bottle it slowed its twitching and writhing before stopping all together and appearing to be dead. “Gross little creature,” Kyoko muttered as she stared at it, “some of the studied men back home may know what it is.”
Walking down the road once more, this time more cautious they met with no difficulty or hostility for quite some time. The group even let their guard down as they approached a vendor selling breads and street food. As they went to hand over the bartered for coin a knife dashed out from behind the counter and after another intense fight another mass of fleshy slugs wormed their way into the ground.
“These attacks are not enough to get past us.” Kuang mused as he looked at one of the slugs he had impaled on his sword. “They die quickly, inflict little to no damage but its the same type of creature attacking us in different ways. There must be a plan or intent behind these attacks.”
Walking through the streets trailing the foreigners and the Harimasu princess was easy. Dressed as she was, with the skin she was wearing she could blend in any where. Mugrave moved through the streets, appearing hungry and confused, a look of fear and a touch of despair tugging at her voice helped to sell the act.
As she moves from door to door, vendor to vendor she asks for food, spare coin or clothes to keep her warm. Her comely appearance, soft voice and youthful skin draw more than one glance from the men but that doesn’t concern her. She watches as one of her agents moves closer to the party, glancing back knowingly towards the her and receiving a signal from Mugrave before lunging at Kyoko.
The panic that ensued was sheer bliss. Mugrave relished in watching the streets erupt into chaos as the adventurers and Kyokos guard erupted into action easily cutting down the would be assailant. As she pretended to scream and scramble to safety as the violent response came Mugrave studied them. She watched their moves and the assessing their capabilities as was her plan. She could not attack the group without knowing what she was up against and now she knew.
As the day went on more of her agents attacked the group and she learnt more about their strength. She would need to be careful with this lot.
Settling down in a refugee camp for the night she enjoyed the comforts of poverty. Free food, blankets and different faces, emotions and personalities to learn and perfect. For a skin walker such as herself having a supply of inspiration and a list of faces and voices to use was of most importance.
Kyoko is a bit of a celebrity in the villages as she moves through and helps those she can.
Captain Kuang Ping
Kuangs warmer now he moves amongst his people. Helping families and people and even sparring with some refugees to demonstrate his skill. As the captain of the Harimasu guard he is well celebrated. Once the attacks start he is in his element and not a single blow lands on kyoko as he intercepts them all.
Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu)
Hana is much like Kyoko without the celebrity status. She helps where she can and people celebrate her passing along with Kyoko and Kuang. The three are well loved and despite the trauma the villagers and townsfolk have endured these past few weeks they try and protect and help the harimasu heir where they can.
Mugrave – Human form
Mugrave is a skin walker, a form shifter like none before her. She is here to find the light, the one they call Liz but she found something more. Kyoko and the adventures. Not wanting to let go of a chance to gain further Intel she launched into action using her Quaigin’s to test their strength.
Environment and running the adventure
The panicked streets is an easy enough gimmick with people running around and looking for a place to hide. This means that for our party they now have to deal with this movement and shift of potential threats. As DMs we need to really sell this. Describe the moment that the panic sets in or just simply emphasise that these people, refugees or farmers are just trying to get away from the spark of violence.
These small details can help drive the narrative of the encounter and enrich it from just being “Combat” to being “roleplay”.
The actual encounter should be one or two Quaigin attacking at once. Trying a different approach or tactic each time as they test how the party react.
Lore: Skin Walker
Legend has it in Ryokughan that under the right circumstances one can become a skin walker. In fact the ability to shape shift and assume any form, voice and personality is not something that is unobtainable but in some cultures, it is something that is routine.
The Oni and those who are born tied to the shadow are frequently blessed with the ability to shift appearance, taking a new form and voice to help reach their goals. These Skin walkers form the strongest and most prized of The Shadows champions and are frequently the cornerstone of its plans.
Skin walkers – Quaigin
As she moved forward across the wet grass her anticipation fluttered in her chest. It wasn’t because she liked these creatures, they were below here, far, far below her but they were loyal and obedient. She appreciated their skills, the abilities that made them formless, that gave them an edge when interacting with the real world. These spirit-folk, the fey as the foreigners had called them, were not evil or malicious by nature but they respected their place in the world and did as they were told. The squirming prisoner, a guard that had strayed too far away from their post, looked up at Mugrave with horror in her eyes as she tried to back away from the Oni.
“Hush child,” the Oni said through sharpened teeth, “I wont harm you”.
The faceless creatures near by moved backwards a few feet away from the huddles guard. “Thank you.” she stuttered as she looked around at the creatures around her. “What are you going to do with me?”
“I will release you once I get some information from you.” The Oni said as she squatted down in front of the human, the sheer difference in size enough to make the warrior pale.
“What do you want to know, I’ll tell you anything” the guard caved quickly.
“I don’t want you to tell me anything. I want you to show me everything” Mugrave said as her arms darted forwards. Wrapping her hands around the head of the smaller humanoid she began to extract the information from her memories. Orders for movement of guards from the wall, the size and strength of the battalions and a titbit about Kyoko being spotted coming through the Kunagi ranges. The final piece of the puzzle was the reports of a fair foreigner who could heal wounds and the earth having appeared at Heavens Reach castle.
“The light. She has arrived. Interesting” Mugrave said dropping the human like a dirty dish cloth. “You are free to go” Mugrave said as the quivering human rose to her hands and knees and began to run off towards her barracks.
“Get her.” Mugrave said as the faceless shapes ran after her and dragged her silently into the earth.
Well here we are, at the end of another week. Thanks for joining me as I continue this journey across the Ryokughan continent. Now don’t forget to come back for the next week of content where we watch Mugrave get more aggressive. Oh, and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe