Path of the five tails

Welcome to Tuesday night where we will explore Shiku, the last of the monks who formed the Shuimu’s tails martial arts order. This week our party are finishing their travel up the mountain to see the monks who call them home, who also are perhaps the only people who may know anything about the shadow bruise curse and how to fix it. 


The Last of Shuimu’s Monks

220TuTLoSM

Shiku – The Guardian of the five tails

Shiku is all that remains of the monastery order known as the Shuimu’s Tails, a order of monks who trained in martial arts under the instruction of the ancestral dragon, Shuimu. These monks are trailed to use spears, whips and Kawanaga and the Kusari-gama – striking swiftly, accurately and with the force of a dragon swiping with its tails.

Able to commune with nature, particularly those aligned with the water spirits that roam the land


The path leading up to the mountains where Takeo had scouted what remained of the monastery wound around the mountain like the tail of a giant serpent and it climbed ever upwards. Despite their exhaustion from the night before it wasn’t long until the party were looking at the worn but sturdy looking buildings that seemingly was carved from the mountain itself, flowing with great curves and lines that blended with the landscape around it.

Walking forward the shallow wall’s gate lay open, one side obviously repaired but damaged too far to be closed fully.

“You should not be here” a voice called from somewhere near the gate, “it’s not safe in these mountains, not any more” the voice, a females voice, called again.

“We seek the monks that call these halls and mountains home.” Takeo replied, his eyes narrowing at the rafters of the roof that covered the gate. “I believe that these sages, people of wisdom and greater understanding are the only people who can help us unravel the mysteries of the Shadow bruise curse.” he continued as he drew a small thin throwing blade.

“The monks are gone, only the golden beast calls these halls home at night and I during the day, to repair the damage done during the night before, to honour those who once called this place home.” The voice called back but from lower down as a lady with silver hair that shimmered with gold in the sunlight walked between the doors and stood blocking the path into the monastery. “You wont find what you are looking for here, I suggest you leave before it’s too late.

Takeo bowed deeply and turned around as if to go before spinning on his heel and flicking the throwing blade towards the woman. In the blink of an eye a large blue tinged chain flicked out from the sleeve of the woman and slapped the blade into the ground beneath it, the woman movements were so fluid and graceful that the chain moved as if it were an extension of her arm rather than something gripped and wielded in her hand.

“I thought you said all the monks were gone” Takeo said bowing as a sign of forgiveness, revealing the emptiness of his palms.

“they are, I am all that remains, she who protects the history of the monks and tries to protect fool adventurers from getting killer by the golden beast. If you seek the monks wisdom for a cure then you are on a fools errand. The great library has been sealed for years, it also happens to be where the beast has created its den and it is not safe to be as it will hunt down all that trespass into its lair..” she continued. “To seek the wisdom of the monks is to spar with death itself and that is not something I want to be responsible for. So leave now before it’s too late.”


So there is a bit more going on here than I have written about but I am sure it’s plain to see what I have planned for this week, well some of it atleast. Don’t forget to come back again tomorrow for the twist and competition of the plot for this week and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Wisdom of the Mountains

Hi all and welcome to the a Monday night post which means a new week of adventure and this week we look at finalising the month of May’s content.

Last week we left out party as they encountered the turtle-esque creatures called the Kappa as they hunted in the forest near the waterfall fed pool that they called home. This week we make our way further up the mountain, experience a new type of fear as they race against the sun to seek the answers they need. A bit cryptic, well read on viewers, read on.


Savage Welcome

220MoSW

Leaving the cave with their wounds and aches being cooled and soothed by the cold chilled water of the waterfall fed pools – carrying their gear and whatever salvageable loot they began to swim to the far shore of the small pool. The sound of snapping branches and the rustling of bushes indicating life was returning to the forest near by but giving them pause as they floated in the water looking about the fire-fly lit grove of trees that surrounded the rocky pool.

Movement up ahead and the bloop as a small stone hit the waters surface near the party revealed Takeo, still cradling his arm up, nestled in the branches of a nearby tree his face covered in micro-scratches and sweat. As soon as he noticed the party had seen him he gestured for them to be quiet as another crash nearby indicated that something large was moving through the trees, not just the deer and pigs that lived in these forested parts. The creature that was moving was large enough that it was breaking branches in its movement as it searched for something, the worried look on Takeo’s face told the party all that they needed to know – it was searching for him.

Looking up ahead towards their campsite they noticed that the belongings they had left near the fire were scattered around the small clearing and several branches, bushes and even a tree were broken, squashed, shattered and uprooted as what ever was nearby had apparently searched through their belongings in some haste.

The snapping of twigs and branches started to come back closer towards the pool where the party drifted near the edge. A large creature was near by, it’s heavy footfalls and heavy breathing – sniffing out something, could be heard as the party waited, hands on weapons. Suddenly the creature became silent as the sound of rumbling groaning earth and creaking wood reverberated through the stones and still clearing which shook as a sudden large vibration and whoosh of leaves came from within twenty feet of the party. A moment of silence was greeted by the parting of clouds above and the appearance of a nearly full luminous moon which flooded the forest with its last light as dawn approached from the horizon.

A ground quaking howl of rage split the near tranquil silence as a trunk of a tree the size of a battering ram erupted forth from the location of the creature as it flew through the air, exploding against the tree where Takeo was hiding causing the splintered to flutter through the air like autumn leaves. A violent howl of rage or satisfaction was bellowed from the creature as it strode forward on two powerful legs, a cascade of golden fur covered its head, shoulders and back, illuminated by the moonlight.

The creature stepped over the fire revealing it to be a giant ape, larger than anything the party had encountered before of its kind, golden with a long tail curling around what appeared to be a silver blade as it moved towards the tree that it had just shattered. The creature stopped before the tree, sniffing loudly as it searched for its prey and victim before turning around and staring directly at the party as the dawns first light touched its face – the brief moment of recognition of the party members, of Takeo who had somehow made it to another tree closer to the pool (without anyone noticing) and the rising of the sun crossed its eyes. A deep sorrow immediately paling the rage and white hot anger that filled its eyes as it dropped a sharp splinter of wood onto the path before dropping to all fours as it fled up the path, further into the mountains.

Takeo slowly dropped to the ground, his body bruised and battered. “I am not sure what that was, legends have it that these mountains are guarded by a golden beast that has long both terrorised and protected the monastery. I believe we met the beast and soon we will meet the monastery. It is not far ahead, in the direction the beast fled and I fear we are running out of time. Another night in these woods will be suicide.”

getting out of the water and piling some of the splintered, broken green wood onto the fire they were greeted with a smoke filled but warming light that allowed them time to rest, dry off and prepare for the mornings hike ahead – up the mountain in the shadow of the golden beast.


Well that was a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure what creature I was going to put at the centre of this weeks plot, but I know where we need to go, what we need to do and now how we are going to do it – so I am hopeful that this week will be story heavy but filled with challenges that I want the players to feel the thrill and anxiety dripping moments as they enter the territory of the beast, visit the monastery and seek the cure of the shadow’s curse. So don’t you forget to come back each night this week as I toy around more with Inkarnate for another map, potentially a regional map of the mountains, and of the monastery. Before I go I wanted to thank the new subscribers that joined whilst I was unwell these past three weeks, welcome to my tabletop and I hope you are able to use and are inspired by what you find here, oh and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Misguided resting place

Welcome to another end of week writeup where we follow our adventurers into the second .

As I mentioned in last nights post I almost went too deep this week, exploring and delving too deeply into several additional complexities once I started to try and put together a logical reason for the creatures (crew, refugees and the like) to be shadow bruised and both undetectable yet not invisible or silenced. But I think settling on the points that I have will be a good middle ground for the adventure so, let’s kick it off.  


Danger in the waterfall

As the sun rose on the third day after they had left Jade Point, the Dancing Drake sailing a bit slower due to the hasty and crude repairs done to the breached hull, the Dock city that controlled the Bay of Five Tails was in sight.

“It’s called the Bay of Five Tails,” Kyoko said, watching her most trusted men stand around the central mast where she noticed some crew and refugees from Jade point tied up, it was reported that there were eleven in total but she could only count five, Choi amongst on of the afflicted. “It’s called such as it is believed that one of our great ancestor dragons, a water spirit that had five tails fought a great battle here and as it brought its great many tails down on its foe the earth shattered before its might and five great channels were carved into the land. Soon these channels filled with rushing sea water as the wounds caused by its strike spread out far and wide forming the marshes, the ones we sailed through and the others further west, and inlets to the sea not far from here.” Several other passengers, Liz and Siu included listened intently to the tail.

“This city we call Shuimu, after the ancestor spirt that fought here and opened up what once was a land locked area and brought trade, wealth and prosperity to the people of this region.” she said smiling as she her remaining crew helped position the ship to dock, her hand reaching out to stroke the wings of a hawk, Takeo, that had flown to her side just as the last of the Shadow Bruised were being rounded up. She looked from the Hawk to the adventurers for Faerun. “He will have to remain in this form for a few days, it seems that he had to call on too much of his clans magic and the change is, not as easy to flow back into human shape as it is to shift to an animal. He did discuss with me before he left his plans, to talk to his master and then to seek out the monks that live within the mountain ranges nearby the City, about two days walk, a week round trip to find the monks and return. I believe this is the best chance we have to learn how to cure and help these people afflicted by the shadow’s curse as well as cure Siu as he has been unable to shake the stone for days and, between you and me, he is not himself.” Kyoko said looking concerned at her ancestor-come-shipmate.

Looking towards the city, the vast open market covered in red, gold, green and blue flags representing different family houses the party were welcomed with a chorus of noise, sights and smells that wafted across the waves and up to the boat as they docked.

“We will keep the afflicted behind bars for a week, then their families may begin to ask questions and I cant risk bad relations with the other major families. In this time I need you to seek out the monks and return with the cure, or knowledge of the cure, so we can begin the process of fighting back against the shadow.” Kyoko said as she picked up the hawk on her arm.

“Takeo will help you, as much as a bird that cant talk can. Just ask and he will do what he can – this mission is as important to him as it is to us. As soon as Siu and the others are healed we will head to my city, where my family rule, and we can begin the fight in earnest.” Kyoko said, grasping the hands of the party members “I am grateful the ancestors let your path cross mine. Please seek provisions with this bag of gold and return back as quickly as you can. I am sorry you can’t rest for long, perhaps half a day at most, but we know nothing of this affliction only that it appears to be from the Shadow in nature and that it makes the host simply not exist. We need to know how to stop it before they get lucky and something irreversible were to happen.”

As the boards were lowered and trade goods, people (some in chains) and the host of other things were taken across to the docks where important looking officials dressed in white robes stood waiting the party set their first foot down in Ryokughan proper.


The purchasing of provisions was made easier due to the gossip that spread like wild fire from the ships crew and the refugees. Tails of the foreigners that has stormed an Oni bastion and bested their leader only after convincing an entire race of notoriously vicious marsh dwelling tribes of toad-kin to turn on their chiefs to fight with them soon spread.  Soon the party were aware of people staring and whispering amongst themselves and when a calculating or criticising eye was cast towards them it was a moment before someone leant against their ear and soon the gaze changed to one of reverence and respect, or fear.

The party were able to acquire most of their supplies with a heavy discount, their newfound fame and reputation preceding them in most vendors but a few, those sponsored by a rival family to the Harimasu’s. Here the prices were increased so much that the savings from the other vendor’s were taken up nearly instantly.

As they left the city the now familiar tawny hawk flew from the top of the gatehouse and drifted along the wind currents above the road towards the mountain ranges in the distance. The horses that Kyoko had found for them proved strong, reliable and fit which enabled them to make good time.

Watching the hawk dart ahead under the canopy of leaves and branches above was the only sign that they were still on the right track, maybe. The hawk had been disappearing for a few moments piercing through the top of the trees before returning a few minutes to indicate the party to continue following. About a day up the mountains the party stopped nearing a small waterfall fed crisp cold pool of water.

Setting up camp not wanting to be travelling these parts at night the party watched as Takeo, the man-hawk flew off towards the mountain peak again to scout the way forward for the next morning, but the party got the feeling that they were lost. Soon the crackle of wood splitting and burning on the firepit greeted the setting of the sun and soon the sounds of singing insects and calls from Nocturnal animals joined the fires chorus.

As the party settled down they marvelled at how quite the surrounding area was. A few birds were high off the ground in nearby trees and calling to one another but the movement of beasts and creatures in the darkening woods beyond their campfire light was never towards them, as if they hesitated to approach the light and party.

Areas of note

Shuimu – A trading hub of a town, many buildings, crowded colourful streets and market stalls as far as the eye can see – if you’ve got the coin someone will have something that you want somewhere within the depths of the city. Notorious for being a neutral city – trading to all folk it is also rife with rivalry with many merchants showing an allegiance to a family or province and in doing so they show preferential treatment, or discrimination, against those who either are allied to their province or family or those who find themselves out of favour.

The Mountains, Shuimu’s ridge – A tall set of mountains to the north of Shuimu, known as Shuimu’s ridge, are the source of many folk tales and stories surrounding nightmarish creatures, strange yet benevolent creatures that take more pleasure in assisting people rather than harming them. Somewhere within the mountains lies a monastery where the monks and sages that call its walls home are both masters in martial arts as well as extraordinary scholars who may know the cure for the Shadow Bruises that are appearing on the crew and passengers of the Dancing Drake.

NPCs

Takeo

Takeo spends most of the adventure in hawk form scouting the area ahead before he notices that the party are in danger where he forces himself to transform into human form and in doing so injures his arm badly.

Environment and running the adventure

The Waterfall – see map

The quiet constant bubble of the waterfall in the background, the thick perfumed flowers bushes and trees all trees give this waterfall a peaceful yet haunting feel. The deepness of the water is deep enough towards the centre of the pool that its above the heads of all but the tallest of humanoid races.

Made with Inkarnate.com – image is 40 x 40 squares

Dark Waterfall cave– see map

Inside the cave, behind the waterfall is a dimly lit area – bioluminescent mushrooms providing some dim lighting throughout the cave which only reveals the source of the sour taste of the pool and the foul smell that greets the party as they enter the cave. A pile of humanoid bones leads up an incline to an elevated natural platform overlooks the dark, deep pools of water beneath.

Made with Inkarnate.com – image is 20×20 squares

Encounter

As the night went on the birds started to get quieter until the only sound was the bubble of the waterfall and crackling of the fire. Despite the coldness of the water there was a sourness to it that caused the party to decide to drink from their water skins instead. Cracking of twigs near the waters edge caused the party to flinch but apart from moss covered rocks and bushes. A few moments later and a hawk crashed through the branches above, shifting and turning into a human as it crashed amongst the group.

“Run you fools. It’s upon you!” Takeo cried as he nursed his left arm.


The creatures that attacked the party from the waterfall pool are short, between that of a dwarf and a halfling, scaled with webbed feet and hands each ending in three vicious fingers complete with long sharped curved claws. Each of them have a bony ridge on top of their heads that created a bowl with water that, by some magical or mystical nature, never spills unless an external force forces the water to spill.

A large ridged shell covers its back and, for some, a bit of their chest. Despite being humanoid almost no body hair grows for both males and females and generally its just enough hair to surround their head bowl. They have enlarged nostrils that flow into a bony growth like beak surrounded their teeth filled mouth and their eyes seem to bulge lightly from their tiny-constantly scowling eye sockets.

The Kappa will fight for food quite viciously but they are also smart enough to know the value in their own lives and are more than likely to flee if the alternative is their death. In this encounter 2-3 Kappa’s should be attacking the party – by now I would believe we would have level 6 characters in the party so that should make the encounter easier. Once one Kappa falls the next wounded most wounded Kappa will retreat and swim back under the waterfall, the next Kappa will do the same but will try and bring down the party member who struck its fellow Kappa down.

Inside the waterfall cave everything is dimly lit, so the Kappa are considered to be lightly obscured. The Kappa female is twice the size of the normal Kappa and so her HP should be doubled. It will be her any any wounded Kappa that managed to escape +3d6 hp healed back to their wounded HP score if they had water left in their head bowls.



Aftermath

Within the cave they find discarded cloth and mundane items that look to belong to travellers and farmers, some farming instruments and daggers / knives would be find discarded. However in a sealed scroll case against a smooth, sloped stone at the top of the ridge (where the large Kappa stood). Inside the scroll case is letters that express dealings between a Junko Toshio and a mercenary gang called “The Fallen Crescent” which appear to be discussing actions taken against Harimasu trading and supply wagons to the north east.


Well that’s it for tonight – including updating the waterfall forest map to include some added effects as well as correcting some layering options. This next week is the last week for the month (that went fast!) where we look at the monastery and what lies beyond that.

Don’t forget to come back each day this next week and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Hunters of the alone

Hi all and welcome to this Friday fightnight where this week we look at the beast that lurks in rivers, ponds, lakes and, in this case, a cave under a waterfall.

For those who knew it was a Kappa well done. One of my favourite Japanese folktale creatures with, somewhat disturbing folklore but for the purpose of this adventure I’ll leave those parts out…


The Kappa

219FrTK

The creatures that attacked the party from the waterfall pool are short, between that of a dwarf and a halfling, scaled with webbed feet and hands each ending in three vicious fingers complete with long sharped curved claws. Each of them have a bony ridge on top of their heads that created a bowl with water that, by some magical or mystical nature, never spills unless an external force forces the water to spill.

A large ridged shell covers its back and, for some, a bit of their chest. Despite being humanoid almost no body hair grows for both males and females and generally its just enough hair to surround their head bowl. They have enlarged nostrils that flow into a bony growth like beak surrounded their teeth filled mouth and their eyes seem to bulge lightly from their tiny-constantly scowling eye sockets.

The Kappa will fight for food quite viciously but they are also smart enough to know the value in their own lives and are more than likely to flee if the alternative is their death. In this encounter 2-3 Kappa’s should be attacking the party – by now I would believe we would have level 6 characters in the party so that should make the encounter easier. Once one Kappa falls the next wounded most wounded Kappa will retreat and swim back under the waterfall, the next Kappa will do the same but will try and bring down the party member who struck its fellow Kappa down.

Inside the waterfall cave everything is dimly lit, so the Kappa are considered to be lightly obscured. The Kappa female is twice the size of the normal Kappa and so her HP should be doubled. It will be her any any wounded Kappa that managed to escape +3d6 hp healed back to their wounded HP score if they had water left in their head bowls.


Well thanks for joining me tonight to look at the Kappa. ‘Translating’ from DnD 3.0(ish?) rule sets into 5e is hard and not an exact science at all times but I tried to keep the essence of the Kappa there. Don’t forget to come back this weekend for more D&D content and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

The Lair

Hi all and welcome to this weeks additional content day, Thursday, where today I want to share some maps I have created just for this week.

Don’t forget if you like the maps I create here I have a few more over at my Inkarnate page where you can download and modify a copy of my originals. Let me know how you find them!


Welcome Rest, Unwelcome Guests

219ThWRUG

The quiet constant bubble of the waterfall in the background, the thick perfumed flowers bushes and trees all trees give this waterfall a peaceful yet haunting feel. The deepness of the water is deep enough towards the centre of the pool that its above the heads of all but the tallest of humanoid races.

Made with Inkarnate.com

Inside the cave, behind the waterfall is a dimly lit area – bioluminescent mushrooms providing some dim lighting throughout the cave which only reveals the source of the sour taste of the pool and the foul smell that greets the party as they enter the cave. A pile of humanoid bones leads up an incline to an elevated natural platform overlooks the dark, deep pools of water beneath.

Made with Inkarnate.com – original can be found here Dark waterfall cave

Both maps were made with the pro version of incarnate – total time spent was less than 3 hours (in between dinner and getting the kids to sleep) but regardless of time spent on these maps they were very fun to work out and I may go and do some alterations to previous maps (or even the hidden waterfall map since I worked out some tricks during the cave build.)


Thanks for joining me tonight as always and for hopefully enjoying the maps I created as much as I enjoyed creating them. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Fightnight! where the creatures are laid bare for us to scrutinize and perhaps look a bit more into their psyche as we. Don’t forget to come back this weekend for more D&D content as well as Whatever Saturday – where this week I hope to do another writing challenge – let me know if there is anything you’d like to throw my way and I will see what I can do! Don’t forget to look after yourselves and your health and, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

The ascent

Hi all and welcome to this weeks twist day, Wednesday, where I want to lay the foundations down for connection the days which will see the party approaching the last known location of the monks and, well, thats the twist.


Chilling respite

219WeCR

The purchasing of provisions was made easier due to the gossip that spread like wild fire from the ships crew and the refugees. Tails of the foreigners that has stormed an Oni bastion and bested their leader only after convincing an entire race of notoriously vicious marsh dwelling tribes of toad-kin to turn on their chiefs to fight with them soon spread.  Soon the party were aware of people staring and whispering amongst themselves and when a calculating or criticising eye was cast towards them it was a moment before someone leant against their ear and soon the gaze changed to one of reverence and respect, or fear.

The party were able to acquire most of their supplies with a heavy discount, their newfound fame and reputation preceding them in most vendors but a few, those sponsored by a rival family to the Harimasu’s. Here the prices were increased so much that the savings from the other vendor’s were taken up nearly instantly.

As they left the city the now familiar tawny hawk flew from the top of the gatehouse and drifted along the wind currents above the road towards the mountain ranges in the distance. The horses that Kyoko had found for them proved strong, reliable and fit which enabled them to make good time.

Watching the hawk dart ahead under the canopy of leaves and branches above was the only sign that they were still on the right track, maybe. The hawk had been disappearing for a few moments piercing through the top of the trees before returning a few minutes to indicate the party to continue following. About a day up the mountains the party stopped nearing a small waterfall fed crisp cold pool of water.

Setting up camp not wanting to be travelling these parts at night the party watched as Takeo, the man-hawk flew off towards the mountain peak again to scout the way forward for the next morning, but the party got the feeling that they were lost. Soon the crackle of wood splitting and burning on the firepit greeted the setting of the sun and soon the sounds of singing insects and calls from Nocturnal animals joined the fires chorus.

As the party settled down they marvelled at how quite the surrounding area was. A few birds were high off the ground in nearby trees and calling to one another but the movement of beasts and creatures in the darkening woods beyond their campfire light was never towards them, as if they hesitated to approach the light and party.

As the night went on the birds started to get quieter until the only sound was the bubble of the waterfall and crackling of the fire. Despite the coldness of the water there was a sourness to it that caused the party to decide to drink from their water skins instead. Cracking of twigs near the waters edge caused the party to flinch but apart from moss covered rocks and bushes. A few moments later and a hawk crashed through the branches above, shifting and turning into a human as it crashed amongst the group.

“Run you fools. It’s upon you!” Takeo cried as he nursed his left arm.


Well the thought of drinking full bodies water, see what I did there, is sure to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Thanks for joining tonight and don’t forget to visit tomorrow where I look to hopefully work on a battle map and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Maneater

Hi all and welcome to Tuesday where I wanted to shift focus away from the bustling city and into the wilds outside of the safety of Shuimu.

I want to go back to one of the favourite points of view styles for a few of my favourite novels


The Damp Dark

219TuTDD

Drip, drip, dip… The darkness made an excellent chamber for reflecting noice from the other side. The warm, wet dark contrasted to the slightly immuninated ice cold pools of water that had worn away at the rocky surface of the cave floor forming mini reflections of the pool and waterfall that had given life to the cave hundreds of years ago.

A bald hard scalp pierced the waters surface causing the watcher in the dark to narrow her eyes, staring intently at the potential intruder as she lounged in a worn out groove against the back of the cave. Several other protected thick scalps appeared in other connected pools throughout the cave, “ah, they made it back” she thought as she relaxed her guard and picked up what she had been chewing on a few minutes earlier, a femur, broad and strong with some scraps of meat left on it. Her powerful jaws causing a splinter to occur in the bone before she used a sharpened rock to crack open the bone to expose the marrow. A long sharpened finger nail on her right hand made quick work plucking out the rancid congealed goo from the hard casing.

Slowly the figures emerged from the pools, each clutching a body, or body part from something they hunted beyond the cave before they dropped it in a pile on a central smooth and flat rock. The hunched figures showing no sign of weakness of injury, to do so infront of the others would be yo invite canabalism that cost the last tribe more than half its members, no, this time she would not allow it. Despite their scaled limbs which ended in clawed webbed hands and fingers they moved quite well above the water, their thick, heavy shelled back and partially covered torso the only thing that held them back from being as swift on land as in the water of the pools they lived near.

Standing up her thick scalp touching and scraping painlessly along the roof of the cave, being the tallest and strongest here she got the first pick from the pile.

Pushing aside pieces she deemed unsuitable for her she eventually stumbled upon the top torso of what was once a human, the clothes and skin suggested it had sat in water for quite some time but her constitution was not questioned. Dragging the decaying meat, offal and bones back to the wall she ascended the piles of bones from years of eating like this. The bones and other refuse from her meals forming a slope upwards towards the highest part of the cave. Sitting down and sinking her teeth into the cold flesh she looked down at the others like her as they fought and scrapped over the pile of carcases and corpses. Her eyes fixed towards noting the strength in a few of the males in the cave she wondered if they could find enough food for next years brood – they may need to become more n aggressive and start stockpiling food in the frigid pools which means attacking the humans more regularly.


Thanks for joining me tonight for this brief glimpse at the creatures and antagonist of the week. If you know what they are comment below, lets see if how I described them did them any justice and don’t forget to come back each night for the rest of the week to see if you’re correct – and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Entering the port

Hi all and welcome to the a Monday night post which means a new week of adventure.

Last week we saw the introduced refugees and corrupted crew fall to The Shadows corruption and begin to turn on Liz and the adventurers. This week I want to take our first few steps onto Ryokughan proper and venture into the Mountains near the Bay of Five Tails


Bay of Five Tails

219MoBoFT

As the sun rose on the third day after they had left Jade Point, the Dancing Drake sailing a bit slower due to the hasty and crude repairs done to the breached hull, the Dock city that controlled the Bay of Five Tails was in sight.

“It’s called the Bay of Five Tails,” Kyoko said, watching her most trusted men stand around the central mast where she noticed some crew and refugees from Jade point tied up, it was reported that there were eleven in total but she could only count five, Choi amongst on of the afflicted. “It’s called such as it is believed that one of our great ancestor dragons, a water spirit that had five tails fought a great battle here and as it brought its great many tails down on its foe the earth shattered before its might and five great channels were carved into the land. Soon these channels filled with rushing sea water as the wounds caused by its strike spread out far and wide forming the marshes, the ones we sailed through and the others further west, and inlets to the sea not far from here.” Several other passengers, Liz and Siu included listened intently to the tail.

“This city we call Shuimu, after the ancestor spirt that fought here and opened up what once was a land locked area and brought trade, wealth and prosperity to the people of this region.” she said smiling as she her remaining crew helped position the ship to dock, her hand reaching out to stroke the wings of a hawk, Takeo, that had flown to her side just as the last of the Shadow Bruised were being rounded up. She looked from the Hawk to the adventurers for Faerun. “He will have to remain in this form for a few days, it seems that he had to call on too much of his clans magic and the change is, not as easy to flow back into human shape as it is to shift to an animal. He did discuss with me before he left his plans, to talk to his master and then to seek out the monks that live within the mountain ranges nearby the City, about two days walk, a week round trip to find the monks and return. I believe this is the best chance we have to learn how to cure and help these people afflicted by the shadow’s curse as well as cure Siu as he has been unable to shake the stone for days and, between you and me, he is not himself.” Kyoko said looking concerned at her ancestor-come-shipmate.

Looking towards the city, the vast open market covered in red, gold, green and blue flags representing different family houses the party were welcomed with a chorus of noise, sights and smells that wafted across the waves and up to the boat as they docked.

“We will keep the afflicted behind bars for a week, then their families may begin to ask questions and I cant risk bad relations with the other major families. In this time I need you to seek out the monks and return with the cure, or knowledge of the cure, so we can begin the process of fighting back against the shadow.” Kyoko said as she picked up the hawk on her arm.

“Takeo will help you, as much as a bird that cant talk can. Just ask and he will do what he can – this mission is as important to him as it is to us. As soon as Siu and the others are healed we will head to my city, where my family rule, and we can begin the fight in earnest.” Kyoko said, grasping the hands of the party members “I am grateful the ancestors let your path cross mine. Please seek provisions with this bag of gold and return back as quickly as you can. I am sorry you can’t rest for long, perhaps half a day at most, but we know nothing of this affliction only that it appears to be from the Shadow in nature and that it makes the host simply not exist. We need to know how to stop it before they get lucky and something irreversible were to happen.”

As the boards were lowered and trade goods, people (some in chains) and the host of other things were taken across to the docks where important looking officials dressed in white robes stood waiting the party set their first foot down in Ryokughan proper.


Thanks for joining me as I continue my recovery. I hope you are excited for this weeks content as I am as we continue along this exciting adventure and start to meet some of the people of this land in true. There is a bit of content planned for this week, I hope to get out Inkarnate again for some battle maps amongst other things and as my recovery goes well I also hope to also look at more soulbound this week. So don’t forget to come back daily and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

The Shadows First move

Welcome to another end of week writeup with our first venture towards the conflict between the adventurers and the shadow directly, well as directly as The Shadow gets for now.

As I mentioned in last nights post I almost went too deep this week, exploring and delving too deeply into several additional complexities once I started to try and put together a logical reason for the creatures (crew, refugees and the like) to be shadow bruised and both undetectable yet not invisible or silenced. But I think settling on the points that I have will be a good middle ground for the adventure so, let’s kick it off.  


Haunted by Shadow

As the ship sailed down the widening River the last signs of the marsh retreated into the wild under a chorus off toad-kin singing songs of praise, protection in and victories to be come.

“It’s nice isn’t it. To be nearly home and be with the first glimmer of hope we’ve had in quite some time” Kyoko began, breathing deeply and looking out across the water and slowly approaching fields be and farmland. “I bet you were be staying to worry weren’t you Takeo” she said turning to the tawny hawk next to her. After a ruffle of feathers Takeo Mei stood next to her.

“When my birds returned without delivering a message I worried, when Jade Point was under siege I also worried. But now I am glad to see that you have made some stalwart companions to usher you home, I knew that they were a good omen, but I don’t remember the Priestess being amongst them earlier.. ” he frowned looking towards the Lizbet as he could sense a strange energy about her.

“She is something else. Single handed turned the Toad-kin into allies. They call her a fallen Star” Kyoko said as she sipped from a cup and watched her. Takeo nodded to Kyoko before walking towards Lizbet and the party of adventurers he met weeks ago.

“I could sense something about you from across the ship. You have a light about you Miss Priestess, one that the darkness and shadow will try and snuff out” Takeo said, nodding to the party as he stopped to stand amongst them, tilting his head listening to a sound that only he could hear.

“Well they have tried already, luckily for me I have had these adventurers, heroes if you will, protect me and shepherd me from harm for now. Even Siu has taken to following a few feet behind me to ensure that I am safe.” she said as the golden scaled beast moved forward making Takeo startle if only for a moment.


“No, I can’t. I won’t. She is the light that will protect us.” he muttered under his breath as he shook his head – the whispers getting louder with each passing moment. His legs walked on their own carrying him next to the railing, around the back of the gathering where the adventurers stood with the person made entirely of blinding light. “No, don’t please. Its a price I cant afford” the man continued as he felt the change happen – suddenly people stopped moving aside, no one looked at him and even the astute and watchful gaze of the man talking to the priestess and the party frowned as if something was missing.

As more people bumped into him he cursed the card game that had won him the stone that was now in his possession, again, a pain on his neck forming as the stone took its mark on him. He couldn’t live like this again, not in the shadow, not without the warmth of others and so with a shuddering sob he drew his long knife, a memento from his father – a fisherman – and drove the point into his chest. He shuddered as the stone fell from his hand and clacked against the railing of the ship and then over the side as he felt his body go cold. All of a sudden people were screaming, the man who appeared to have been watching him before the shadow enacted its price was there in the space he drew his last breath. “The shadow…” he managed to whisper to the man as he felt his eyes close.


Takeo knelt next to the man he remembered seeing, hearing talking to himself as if a mad man then nothing – as if his existence had been wiped from the world. When the body hit the ground he remembered what had been witnessed and heard and as he heard the words “The Shadow” he searched the man for marks – a large, deep bruise had formed on his neck where it met his left shoulder as if a large round object had been forced onto him for some while.

“Kyoko, we need to restrict the priestess and her companions at once. There is darkness afloat these waters”

Areas of note

The Boat – Confined to the lower decks where there is the ability to limit the access to both the passengers and the crew.

NPCs

Koyko Harimasu

After the appearance of the first shadow bruised Kyoko assisted the party of adventurers in finding a place that could be secured and easily defensible before returning to the deck to work with the crew and Takeo in looking for more of the Bruised.

Elizabeth “Lizbet” Scaulder

Liz is worried about the attacks, especially the nature of them as they appear out of no where but generally only as they are killed.

Her concern is two fold, concern for her safety and the safety of those around her as well as the concern for those afflicted by the curse that gave them this shadow-like quality and if they would be able to be cured from the curse.

Siu

Siu spends his time defending and sticking as close to Liz and Kyoko as possible trying to defend them both – when Kyoko goes back above deck to talk to the crew and the other passengers Siu sticks close to Liz.

Takeo

Takeo, after uncovering the initial attacker and talking to the party about the next best steps goes to see his master, where upon finding his clan hall empty returns back to the ship just in time for it to dock.

Environment and running the adventure

The Boat– see map

Encounter

The first encounter, on deck should be like a script, if the party roll a successful Charisma Saving throw vs Stealth check OR Insight vs Stealth will reveal the creature to the one who made the check – but otherwise they don’t see the first shadow bruised until they hit the deck dead.

Takeo and Kyoko will take the party, Liz and Siu downstairs and into one of the sealed crews quarters to discuss the situation. The end goal here is that Takeo will reveal that he doesn’t have all the information and that he will need to talk to his masters further to get more information – he will then leave after that.

Kyoko will ask the Party to pick a place to defend Liz for now, a lockable or sealable space would be good. The closed off quarters are good options (one with two bed is where Liz would be staying currently), the crews quarters with hammocks may be also suitable or even the sealed in holding cell in the centre of the floor. On their way there they would get attacked by one of the Shadow Touched (see above encounter mechanics) who would try and attack Liz (depending on how the Party are moving) if they decide to stay in Liz’s chambers then the attack happens there.

If the Party move around, or change watch, or, every 6 hours another attack will happen until they have been attacked four times in total where the fifth has two shadow touched attacking at once – which is unusual for them,



Aftermath

Shortly after defeating the last of the shadow touched Kyoko appears saying that they believe they have accounted for everyone including those stopped from attacking Liz and the party. While the party have been dealing with the sudden attacks the ship has moved on and the next destination, the final port, lays ahead of them.


Well that’s it for tonight, thanks for dropping by and sticking with me this week while I recover and begin to feel better again. The next few days may also be slow but I plan to still create daily content this next.

Don’t forget to come back each day this week and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Avoiding the rabbit hole

Hello and welcome to a Saturday night discussion piece where I want to discuss something I struggle with, complexity.

Now its not making sure things are complex enough its going too far down a rabbit hole and, like all warrens, finding that there is a second, third, fourth and even fifth rabbit hole that has rules, systems, creatures or untapped stories that you want to explore. The issue is that when you burrow into that second tunnel it adds complexity and that complexity makes it hard for both DMs and players – an issue that I am still working out how to navigate.

An example is this weeks example – how to have those afflicted by the Sliver of Shadow curse have the mechanics they do – being present on the Material plane but unable to be seen, heard or interacted with until someone strongly willed enough finally does. What I initially thought was opening up the idea of a reversal of the astral plane mechanics – their body being present and active in the material plane but peoples ability to view them in the plane being as if trying to peer beyond the veil. Now I started to re-read up on the Astral plane to refresh my memory on its mechanics and it was.. complex to say the least, at least in the terms of how I wanted to blend it to work for me.

The first issue was that I immediately started to weave the astral plane into the plot points – my floating story line which I use to keep an idea of where I want it to go without having to cement anything down that would creature massive amounts of re-work as I write this weekly. This was a big issue for me as the added complexity to something that, to be open with, doesn’t need to be any more complex that it currently is and it also started to change and influence plot. Now as I started to mentally untangle the twine that knitted together this years campaign to start adding in the astral-thread I stopped as I started to ask myself “ok, now ‘The Shadow’ – how do they link in with the Astral plane..” the answer wasn’t a mapping session it was quite simply “IT doesn’t he is between planes but takes strength from Shadowfell” – Ok maybe a bit of a spoiler there but I believe you can forgive me. This then helped me work out the curses nature – forcing people to dwell and live like The Shadow – non-existent without being seen in the light.

The second issue was making sure that the rules, the mechanics are easy enough that new dungeon masters can read and understand with minimal study. This is the other issue with going down the rabbit hole and the complexity behind it – it gets hard to memorise so that you can run the system for the other people at the table (virtual or otherwise), the players but more on them in a minute, and with the creatures, maps, core game mechanics, the more advanced mechanics let alone the multiple race-background-class combinations that your players bring that you need to factor in with adding MORE complexity into the mix means more time reading rules, notes or books and less time playing at the minimum or forgetting something crucial and slowing down the process as you move to rectify it.

The third issue is the more complex the rules I find the players, I will refer to them as an audience for this point from now on, may become disenchanted from the session. The audience are not here to try and unpick great puzzles and unravel the secrets of the world – they want to see what happens to a party of adventurers in fantastical situations where they come out ahead against all other odds, or at least a single adventurer and how they look out for number 1, themselves. The more complex, the more rabbit holes in your warren, the more unbelievable it becomes and the easier the disenchantment becomes and they lose interest in the current scene, the session or the adventure entirely (or worse – the campaign…)

The reason for the switch in focus between player and Audience is because I also have several barely started novels sitting there waiting for meat to tie together the plot points and I struggle with keeping it simple to a few key points. For me I love high, grand fantasy where the systems, the complexity and depth is mind boggling and I aspire to produce work of comparable if not equal quality to some truly fantastic Authors. This means that I automatically associate success and ‘awesomeness’ with complexity and so I tend to dive head first into that deep deep pool when I really need to start off in the shallows first and then ease into the deep end.

So for me, keeping the complexity out is to really ensure the success of the campaign, simple. But the broader picture is also a bit of self reflection where I am aware that I tend to get bogged down in the details where I really should just take a step back and start with the basics and work my way up from there – some of the most memorable books I have read only have one or two ‘complex’ concepts and really, they aren’t that complex in the first place. Its not a new language, new ‘style’ of magic, or science, or something its just a way of doing things that I need to start at and see if complexity and further depth is neeeded at a later point.

Well that’s it for tonight, come back tomorrow for more and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe