The Shadow of the Lómipilu

Tonight as we head further closer towards the conclusion of this yearly adventure with The Shadow of the Lómipilu. This month is a level 8 adventure so our party of adventurers should prepare a level up sometime around talking to the Emperor.

As with last time Pages 1, 2 and 3 are content pages, the description, flow, random tables, etc. and such that you’ve previously seen.
Page 4 contains all NPCs and portraits to help the DM describe them and a bit about them to help play them out.
Page 5 will be stat blocks and map(s) – all that D&D encounter goodness that you want.

Now I will assume you have read the entire post which has had some bits modified over the months content. Now including the original content, and some bits added this is a smaller than normal length, only just making 10247! words long. I really do appreciate the time you take to read through these end of month adventures.

All Maps were made in Inkarnate using their Pro license, Art was created in Artbreeder and the statblocks were created in Tetra-cube AND the balancing of encounters is a mixture of experience and the guides found at Kobold Fight Club.

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


Part 1 – A Shadow Within the walls – 236MoShWiWa

The familiar sights of the city were a welcome blanket of comfort for Kyoko, Hana and, although he would never admit it Kuang. As the party moved down the streets the busy merchants, artisans, guards and farmers stopped and cheered for the return of Kyoko. At the intersection of a busy street where their was a five feet wide line of red bricks that ran the length of it, perpendicular to the one they were travelling on Kyoko turned with a bright smile and looked in the direction of a massive tree.

The tree was ancient. Easily taller than the majority of the buildings around the city and Kyoko searched for when she returned home. In fact it was the first thing she always checked. Amongst the branches of the tree was a strip of red cloth hanging from a branch, fluttering in the wind loosely. Kyoko turned to the party, still smiling and walked closer. “I feel like a drink in celebration of returning home.” and amongst the cheers of those on the streets around her she head down a road to a the Jade Cup.

The Jade Cup was a well known establishment in Heavens Reach providing good food and drinks to the public. As Kyoko ordered a round of drinks for the table a cloaked stranger sat down next to the party.

“I am sorry Lady Kyoko for interrupting your return to the capital but I hoped you had remembered the training.” the stranger spoke softly as he looked nervously around the room.

“I saw the warning.” she said looking around the room, mimicking the stranger. “So what news do you bring Takeo?”

Takeo leaned in, nodding with a smile to the party. “It’s been some time my friends,” he said before leaning in closer to the table. “I can’t confirm it but there is something in the castle that I can’t detect nor find. I spoke directly to it and discovered no taint, no malicious intent but it intercepted your letters to me and somehow got to the vault before I could. There is also something else in the castle, something that eludes me still.”

“So what do we do from here?” Kyoko asked as she drank from her cup.

“Trust only those you rode in with” Takeo said as he stood from the table and stumbled towards the door. The performance he put on as being drunk and being asked to leave was impressive, but perhaps not his most believable one.

“Well. It’s not quite the welcome I was anticipating, but it’s not the first time we have had this situation.” Kyoko said. “So are we up for a bit of a witch hunt?”


236WeSpMa

“Now,” Takeo began as he walked down the halls of the castle, “the creature is likely posing as a servant, a guard or part of your family…” Takeo added as if almost an afterthought. “we must be careful of what we reveal here as to not give away us being aware of it.” He took a breath after checking around a corner for others. “Likely someone it has killed. I dare say that it wont risk being exposed by wearing the form of someone it may have the chance of being in the same room as.”

“But if it was able to so convincingly deceive you how will we tell it apart from the others?” Hana asked, her voice still sounding uncertain of itself.

“I was hoping our friends or Lady Liz would be of assistance there.” Takeo said smiling at the party as he approached a grand double door.

“Fathers through there isn’t he?” Kyoko said as she smiled and walked towards the door. “It’s been months since I have seen him.” she added as she pushed on the door.

“Remember what I said my lady.” Takeo said as he pushed the doors open for the princess.

The room on the other side of the doors was flooded in light, airy and had was almost serene. The dozen or so guards, members of court and family and the assistants at the castle all knelt in front of an kind faced man who sat at the top of a dais. As Kyoko entered the room the man looked up and his face broke out into an enormous smile. “Praise and thanks to the ancestors, you have returned safe and with companions I see. Takeo and Lady Lizbet have explained that you are the reason that I have my daughter safe at home.”

The emperor said to the party. “You have my sincerest thanks. If we were meeting upon better times I would have you dine with me for a week in celebration and you would want for nothing. But alas I have restricted the banquets until we can sort out our supply lines with the wall.” he emphasised the situation with a loud sigh. “We are having trouble sending supplies and food up there. When ever we do the caravans and their guards are ambushed and the brave men and women fighting back The Shadow go hungry.”

“Father I am sure that my new friends here would be able to assist us. They have bested a Laelóng, defended me from the Yuki-onna that has allied herself with the traitorous snakes the Toshio family. And they brought back my cousin safely home. I am sure that investigating the happenings with our supply lines is child’s play to them at this stage.” Kyoko said with a broad smile towards the party.

The emperor smiled. In fact he beamed. “Hana. It has been far too long.” he said as the quiet young woman moved from behind the party. “If I had known what was happening to you I would have sent troops to rescue you from your corrupt husband.”

“I dare say that she would have joined us sooner or later” a voice cut across the tender moment between family members as the rustling of feather and the slightest gust of wind sounded from outside an open door. A short, slightly hunched man stepped forward and guards rushed to intercept him.

“Halt!” The emperor called as he stood and moved down the steps to his dais. “I dare say that if you engage that man in combat you cant hope to win.” he said as he reached the bottom of the stairs. “It’s been some time Master Fukiyomo. What dark tidings do you bring?”

The old man smiled. “You know me too well it seems. Unfortunately armies of spirit-folk are ambushing your caravans, but it sounds like you have a plan for that.” the man said as he nodded to Kyoko, the party and Takeo. “But I also believe that we have more to worry about from our neighbours than what comes form the walls at this stage. A sizeable force is marching through the Kunagi ranges as we speak. Slowed down by the collapse of some of the large peaks I will add.” the man nodded respectfully to the group again. “But on this way none-the-less.”

The emperor moved down to a map of the lands as his war council positioned more wooden blocks on it to represent the new information. “Are you sure of this Master?” Takeo said as he stepped forward towards the table, noticing that there was a lot of dark coloured blocked near the wall, about two days ride from here.

“I saw them attempting to clear the rubble from your battle with the Laelóng myself,” he paused as he rested heavy on the hilt of a cane-sword. “As I chased down a Lóminau. One who is without Shadow. A demon of the shadow fell.” The court hummed with the panicked murmur from those who had attended the court. “But I lost it when I felt the presence of a Shadow born. And witnessed it being felled by a party of foreign heroes. So I went to pick up where I left off but could not find where the creature had gone to.” his statement causing a different type of murmur to spread through the room. One of disbelief and awe.

“It seems daughter, that we have much to catch up on. And I expect that Takeo also will want to have words with his master too.” the emperor gravely stated.


Areas and places of note

The City of Heavens Reach – an enormous, rich and cultured city that has just about everything that anyone could want.

Environment and running the adventure

Now the thoughts on this are quite simple. The creature that is providing the advice or intelligence is providing miss advice believe what they are saying is true. They are either a secondary or first information provider and either believe what they have been told or believe what they saw or heard or experienced fully.

This means that under the effects of a Zone of truth, or highly insightful people (insight checks) that they appear to be telling the truth. They believe it to be true and so it is. Now this form of unwelcome Truth is something that the party can have issue with as it is pretty powerful. The player and the DM know that what is being said is a lie – but for all intents and purposes there is truth in what is being said. In fact they don’t just say its true they believe it completely.

This can make some tricky situations where the truth is farfetched. Like flying pigs. If someone believes that what they saw was definitely flying pigs and all attempts to detect lies, coerce the truth out of them or otherwise will result in the one result. Flying pigs. But the Party know there isn’t flying pigs but they cant convince the creature who believes in them is that they aren’t real.

In conclusion

This really comes down to belief. If the belief is strong enough then conventional methods of separating truth from lies becomes impossible. This leaves us, the DM, on a rocky road. How do we set up our encounter that there are situations where there is this moment of unwelcome Truth but it’s fair for our players?

Simply enough – make everyone’s version of the truth different from one another except for one element. Perhaps one person saw flying pigs, another saw flying cows and another flying sheep. All of them saw something flying but what else did they see. Perhaps they noticed that there was a particularly high pitched sound could be heard as the creatures flew by. Or that there was a smell of rotting eggs and ta trail of slime from a swamp could be found the following day where they saw the flying animals.

As long as we have a common element of truth we can always turn it into a logic puzzle or test to se how good of a detective our parties are. Then its up to us when we hand them a bone such as a “I didn’t see a pig. I saw a dragon covered in slime flying and grabbing animals from the farms below.”

Notable NPC interactions.

Kyoko Harimasu – Kyoko’s return home is overshadowed as she receives a warning signal from Takeo as she enters the city. Following through with the agrees process with her spy she uncovers that the shadows taint has even spread into her home. Now she asks the party to help expel this darkness from Heavens Reach Castle.

Captain Kuang Ping – Happy to be home Kuang is a bit more relaxed, however quiet and a bit reserved. Feeling guilt for doubting the party and betraying the trust of Kyoko he hides his secret shame and does his best to make up for it in his own way.

Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu) – Happy to be home and safe Hana is a more vibrant person and is quick to step into the affairs of state where she can. However as she has been with the enemy for a number of years, even married to one of the families that has betrayed them and march upon their gates, reportedly, she isn’t trusted with much.

Takeo – On the hunt for the creature that thwarted him in the castle Takeo appears calm but highly alert.

Despite his hunt he welcomes Kyoko, Kuang, Hana and especially the party back with open arms and acts as their guide around the castle.

Encounter

Now in order for this week to go smoothly we need to have a few things ironed out. In fact we need to know exactly what the end goal of the month is and for me that’s easy. I want the party to find, confront and then defeat the creature that is so well accustomed to lies and illusion that its existence is in fact one. But how do we confront an illusion. This is the question we need to answer tonight by the following.

  1. Strange happenings
  2. Illusion
  3. Mirrored espionage

Strange happenings

For our party to be truth seekers we need them to have leads. Takeo, Kyoko or even the members of the household may come forth (indeed a few of them will) and advise that they saw other members of staff different ones, acting strangely. The common denominator is that all of them cant remember who it was. but give a generic explanation that they feel as though they were friends and remember them at dinners and festivals.

Each person though, when questioned more, had a jade serpentine bracelet on their right wrist. The party can either ask the question outright or if they are a bit stumped we can assist. To assist the party the second person they question would look uncertain and come back to bring it up that they remembered something that stood out. The jade bracelet. They would explain that the Jade bracelet normally was reserved for a certain level of staff as a symbol of their favour from the emperor.

When finding the member of staff, the keeper of Jade, who is responsible for these bracelets is the next step. Once there they show off the five bracelets they have – as they are returned and stored in a chest every night at which point the party can investigate them.

Illusion

The Jade bracelet is our first clue. One of them is an illusion and DC 15 investigation or arcana check will see through it. Those with witch sight or the ability to detect magic can tell that all of them have an enchantment placed upon them but one of them has a strong illusion magic placed on it.

The Keeper of Jade goes into panic mode and wants to raise the issue with the emperor. The party can let it happen at which point it makes the third step harder or they can urge them to remain quiet – Something that both Takeo and Kyoko would have mentioned to them.

The Jade Bracelet that is missing and an illusion (its a rusted copper ring with fell writing inscribed into it) belongs to a member of staff who deals with serving food, primarily to the emperor and family.

When the person is questioned about the bracelet, if they are, they snap out as if coming out from a trance and become extremely disorientated. Upon questioning they cant remember the last two weeks. They remember walking into the library to take a scholar there some food and that’s the last thing they remember. The staff member has flashes of dream like memories of conversations with new staff where parts of the memory are disjointed or blurry.

As part of this dream memory they distinctly remember that one of the staff had their shadow shift and stir as if a candle was flickering on the other side of them but there was nothing there. The staff of house show the party to the library and to where the new staff reside.

The library has an entire book shelf cast in illusion which is only broken by DC 15 investigation or arcana check. Once broken the party realises that he books are either missing or strewn around the shelf and floor. The illusion is powerful enough that physical interaction from our seekers of truth doesn’t break the illusion.

The staff quarters has no illusion on it.

Mirrored Espionage

During their investigation a successful DC17 perception check will reveal that they are being followed by someone who knows how to tail them. This person (creature) wears an ordinary face of a member of staff. In fact they may have spoken to this person already who came to them to report something odd or out of the ordinary that was completely different to everyone else.

If confronted the creature will move swiftly but in a calculating way through the halls and the party will lose track of them in a door way. The doorway wont be to anything in specific but I would maybe have it lead to a lesser family members room who wont take kindly to being interrupted or questioned.

If not confronted they will tail the party for the rest of the session unless they go to the library – at which point it will hurriedly leave.


After the encounter:

The party can do what they please, but to head back into the village of Lanidaye will help drive the story forward. Whether it is to buy supplies or say farewell the village should be provided as the suggestion from Jason and the other NPCs.


Into the Lair of the Lómipilu

Welcome to another end of week writeup where this week we follow our players as they enter Into the Lair of the Lómipilu.

As always portraits are created in Artbreeder and the normal wonderful tools like Kobold-fight-Club and D&D Beyond are used frequently.


How to Catch a shadow

238MoPooSh

Darkness was the first sensation that the party felt when they walked through the portal that had literally ripped open. The bright light from the room that they came from seemed to force the portal open but even then the tendrils of darkness were trying to knit the wound closed. As they stepped in colour seemed to fade as well where only things immediately in front of their face held the slightest trace of what it used to be. The further they looked ahead the more coloured seemed to disappear until just ten feet way their vision failed. Even those with darkvision struggled to see in a place devoid of all light.

Lighting torches didn’t do much and only brought back the smallest flicker of colour and light in this world and even the warmth from the fire was taken away before it could push back the numbing feeling from their fingers.

“You must be very brave or very dumb to come into my lair. Your corpses will entertain my pets for days to come and your bones will be sewn into my walls” a voice mocked from behind them. Whirling around there was nothing there but the burst of light that was suddenly too bright. Turning around the party started to stride into the dark. The pocket of shadow was oppressive and the flickering light of the torch failed to push past fifteen feet and what it did touch summoned phantoms of nightmares from their darkest dreams.

“Run!” a voice said from somewhere in the dark. “Run from here!” the same voice called out. “Tell Takeo that the shadow gathers at obsidian peak!” a shriek of pain followed the warning and then silence.

Looking amongst each other the party pushed back fear as shapes in the murky shadow twisted into forms and voices from their past and present spoke to them from just outside the torchlight.

238TuThLo

The creature stalked the maze like halls that it had constructed with but a thought the moment it created a rift to its lair. Melding and knitting shadow and reality together to create something of its own was childs play and these foolish mortals were stepping into a realm that they had no hope of contending with the power it had here.

But as the light flooded from the previous room and the tendrils of shadow struggled to knit the opening back together the Lómipilu felt a trickle of fear for the first time in centuries. Soon the creatures moved into the dark interior of the dimension it had created, a little pocket of shadow and the Lómipilu’s fear quickly began to disappear. Soon a plan began to form in the mind of the creature as he released its hands from the old man and summoned forth dense shackles that bound his mouth and limbs so he could not speak or move.

Stalking one of the many halls the creature climbed higher into the dimension it had created and watched a the party one by one drifted further apart from each other as the dimension they found themselves in constantly folded out before them forcing them to loop around until they were back in the starting room that they entered. The creature smiled and watched the creatures looked baffled at what had happened. In fact the creature was so amused by the wonderment of the adventurers that it giggled. It knew these halls better than any and that the only path forward as the least obvious, all others led to confusion and death.

The creature lay on its stomach and watched the adventurers move around and start discussing their predicament – each one of them not aware that those they were talking to were not what they seemed to be.

238WeThDo

As the party member move around the corner they find a familiar set of faces looking back at them. “What happened to you? Where did you go? You were with us a second ago and then you disappeared and we heard noises from behind us…” the look on the party members in front turned to concern and fear. “There is something behind you…”

Turning around the party turned to see shadowy blurred faces that looked very much like the party members who stood behind them. They reached out, pointing and shouting at the party members behind them telling the person to get away from them, that they were dangerous. However it was too late as The Doppelganger had already weaved itself into the minds of all those involved and was playing its part perfectly.

As chaos broke out in the mind of that party member the doppelganger was busy in creating similar chaos elsewhere.

Meanwhile…

The rest of the group could not find where their party member had gone – they had disappeared but a minute ago as a gust of shadow like gas had gushed from the wall. Racing through it to try and find their missing member they found a dreadful scene where the finishing blow was given to a creature of bone and flesh by their party member.

“Thank the gods you showed up. There were more of these creatures. Several more. They live in the walls and emerge in a puff of smoke and attack without warning.” The party member leant over and breathed heavily with exhaustion. “We will have to be careful moving forward..” he said as another gust of shadow infused smoke erupted from the wall and the party scattered into the surrounding rooms to avoid the gas.

Behind the gas the Lómipilu made its move and changed the rooms that they were in, creating new passages, new rooms and changing the perspective of the players in an instance. One moment they were facing what would be due north, the next they were looking south west at a new door opening into a different hallway. Separated from the rest of the party, well those who were not already taken over by its created doppelgangers.

As the party members began to descend into chaos it made its move, slashing out in violence and the first drops of mortal blood were dropped onto its lightless glass floors and shadowy walls.


NPCs – 237TuWiotDa

Master Fukiyomo

Held captive by the Lómipilu his face borrowed by the demonic creature and used to chaos Master Fukiyomo waits for his student Takeo to rescue him. But when the Party show up he is just as glad to see them.

NPC’s and faces of the Void

The NPC faces are probable the same, some real people some the Lómipilu.


Environment and running the adventure

Lair of the Lómipilu

The additional thing to remember about this lair is the extreme lack of light. Darkvision is good only to 10 feet and all sources of light, except daylight, are reduced by around a quarter. This effectively means that the party has to balance their equipment and light sources for this encounter and with the lair actions and abilities of the Lómipilu it becomes half the battle.

The idea behind the Lair of the Lómipilu is simple. Each time the party members leave a room or hallway the Lómipilu will change where they were moving and where they moved from. For this purpose I have a bunch of rooms or areas that are shrouded in darkness each with a few 1″ grid width (5ft) exits/entrances. For my implementation of this I would print out the maps (or edit them in GIMP or another image manipulation software) and roll a dice per entrance/exit per room/hall.

For simplistic play

Assign the large central room with only one exit with the number 6. Each other entrance/exit roll a 6 and assign it either a 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6.

Do this for all rooms so they have no duplicate ranges. Then try and map them out so that the portal room is somehow connected to the large room. Any entrance or exit that doesn’t have a number allocated to it and a room next to it is considered to be “lost” and you end up back on the portal room.

For complex play

Keep the dice rolled but each time they leave a room they roll a dice (effectively a d3) and they move to a random room that has that number. This becomes an issue of chance and luck rather than skill, role playing or problem solving and so could be more troublesome and it would rely on rolling well multiple times. The caveat to this system would be that they add a +1 to the roll for each room they have visited and make the end room a 7 (so they cant roll 6 then a 6 straight away and head to the final room). This rewards exploration and doesn’t feel as much of a “Game of chance” as a “after 3 rooms you have a 50% chance to get to the boss room”.

However…

This adventure we are doing it a bit differently and incorporating lair actions into the rooms.

The Lómipilu lair is in reality a large (60ft x 60ft) pocket dimension where it the Lómipilu has brought in elements of the shadowlands (Shadowfell / Shadowplane) into the dimension. The dimension swallows dim light completely, bright light is reduced to a quarter of its normal range (torches are now only 5ft bright and a further 5ft dim) and only daylight seems to piece the veil.

Generally the Lómipilu creates illusionary structures from condensed shadow that are so real that they are physical to touch and only those who can convince their own minds that its not an illusion can see the room for what it really is.

Lair Actions

The nature of the Dimension and thus the Lómipilu’s lair is of unbridled chaotic illusion and the creature that calls this liar home is its embodiment. On initiative 20 the Lómipilu takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects. The Lómipilu can’t take the same action 2 rounds in a row.

  • The rooms shift, doors that used to lead to halls or other rooms change to a new position and the lair reforms around its central core.
  • Creatures made of shadow shift in and out of existence and throw themselves at invaders of their territory at the behest of the Lómipilu. These creatures are called Lómipilu Shades (Shadowless Shades). They take the form that the Lómipilu desires, have 7ac and 1 hp and cause no damage on an attack. They also die after 1d4 rounds.
  • The Shadow energy of the pocket dimension erupts forth and causes all exposed flames and non-permanent magical lights to go out.
Made with Inkarnate.com

The Lomipilu

Created in tetra-cube

Aftermath…

As the creature fell writhing to the ground as the final blow struck the walls of the dimension shook and shuddered before the light from the portal could be seen pushing back all traces of shadow. A single pile of glittering treasure could be seen next to a man in the same uniform as Takeo who lay unconscious in the room as the light began to flood in.

A voice, familiar yet estranged whispered past the party “The dimension is collapsing. Hurry” as what could be seen of the pocket dimension began to distort and wobble. Rushing forwards the party manage to grab the man and some treasure before they were violently thrown backwards through the light drenched portal in a cascade of treasure, stolen goods and artefacts mainly, into the room where they cornered the Lómipilu. With a definitive tearing sound the portal between this plane and the pocket dimension tore apart and the way Into the Lair of the Lómipilu was closed.


Thanks for joining me for another end of week writeup. This week marked the tipping point of our party coming into possession of the tools that are needed to best the forces of the Shadow, but more on that this week. Don’t forget to come back this week as I add a bit more to this months adventure and, and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

How to catch a shadow

Welcome to another end of week writeup where this week we throw the planning to the players and let the find out how to catch a shadow.

As always portraits are created in Artbreeder and the normal wonderful tools like Kobold-fight-Club and D&D Beyond are used frequently.


How to Catch a shadow

237MoShTr

After returning to Takeo to reveal what they had seen in the Library as well as heard from the staff in the castle. “It sounds like its as master Fukiyomo was right. A lot of the characteristics of the creature appear to be similar to the Lóminau.” Takeo said nodding, but his affirmation never reached his eyes. “However something doesn’t add up. The Lóminau are said to be vengeful demons who prey on others life force as only once bathed in the light of a creatures failing life do they regain their shadow and leave for their own plane of existence. But this creature, to our knowledge, hasn’t killed anything so according to the scripts it can’t be a Lóminau but there is another creature that it could be,” Takeo began before a sound came from a corner of the room.

Two daggers were hurled through the wall at incredible speed from Takeo’s however the figure caught the blades before they hit the figure. “Good Takeo. But it is most definitely a Lóminau. I have seen it myself” Master Fukiyomo said as he moved forward and handed the daggers back to Takeo. Clasping Takeo’s shoulder the master spy bowed deeply to Kyoko but averted his gaze from Liz. “It is not often that we see one who is blessed by the light in this castle. I dare say its your presence that has the Lóminau stalking these halls.” the old man said with reverence. “The sooner we get you and your guardians away the better, the safer for you and I dare say Lady Kyoko as we will be able to better trap the Lóminau outside of the castle.

Takeo nodded but the party caught the flicker of confusion in his eyes. Walking over to a desk in LIz’s room he grabbed a quill and paper and scribbled something down quickly, folding the paper twice before muttering a short incantation of words.

“Another one of your tricks Takeo?” his master said as he walked over to him.

“Just a list of reagents and supplies to catch the Lóminau” he said as he handed the note to Master Fukiyomo. Taking the note he unfolded the paper and read through it.

“Powdered iron, crushed garnet, Lotus petal. Good. I’d suggest silk as well for good measure but each to their own” the old spy said as handed the note back to Takeo who scribbled down silk before taking it to the party.

“Whilst you follow this note to the letter can you do me a favour my friends?” he said, strange emphasis placed on the words he spoke. “I have neglected my knives – When we fought the Kapa I chipped the top of my knife in the cave. Are you able to get it sharpened?” he said as he clamped the letter tightly in the closest party members hand and nodded knowingly to them. “Remember what I said to you in the Kapa’s lair after we had fought the wolves?” he said – blocking the view of others when he moved in closer to the party as he muttered a string of words. “A blessing for you all. May the light reveal what we seek.”

With that Takeo and his mater left the room.

Unravelling the note the party were confused, there was no record of the ingredients on the note apart from the hastily written “SILK” over the top of a few words.

“Wall”, “Shade”, “Knife” and a single word that was foreign to them “Lómipilu.”

Kyoko looked over their shoulder, a best as she could. “Lómipilu– that’s a name I am not familiar with” she pondered. “but I do know someone in Heavens reach who would know. Che Shenyuo” she said as one of the more astute party members crept towards the wall where Takeo had thrown daggers. Two indents in the wall were present which matched the size and shape of Takeo’s daggers.

237WeCaSh

As Kyoko lead the party through the final halls in the castle heading past the servants quarters they appeared at a sliding door to a small outside courtyard. The central portion of the courtyard saw a large fountain fed pool that was designed in such a way that the trickling of water resonated through the enclosed area. Kyoko nodded to two guards that stood in the courtyard and walked forward, leading the party and Liz through the tranquil surroundings.

Moving through the courtyard Kyoko led them towards a large curtain of vines and flowers where the slightest trace of diffused smoke and low singing could be heard from within the tangled mess of foliage.

“It must be a rare day indeed for the Princess of the Harimasu to visit me today” a voice said from behind the curtain of leaves. “What can I be of service for our bringer of light?”

Kyoko smiled and pushed past the curtain of vines, her chipper and unable to hide the mirth in her voice. “Master Che, you don’t need to be so formal. You are probably the oldest citizen in then land and the one deserving the most respect here.” she said as the party followed her into a well hidden house under the cascading vines and leaves. “But you are right. I do have service of you.” she added as she sat next to the old man who smiled at where she sat, his eyes unfocused.

“I will be as useful as an old blind man can be princess.” he said turning his head towards the party. “I have had odd dreams of late princess. A shadow in the halls playing tag with a ball of light. The shadow cant capture the light but nor does it want to because the shadow fears what the light will do to it – but it is also drawn towards it. The light doesn’t want to be near the shadow but lingers, waiting and watching. Stepping out to confuse the shadow when it sneaks too close or gets too ambitious.” he said as he reached over for a pot of tea that had been placed next to him. His fingers and hands moving with muscle memory he poured himself a pot of tea, the worn indent of the pot and cups evident that this was a habit of his. “The ball of light has visited me as well. Said sweet things and plied me with riddles that amuse me to no end. It has also helped me around the hut. A kind stranger it is.” he added.

“I fear that these aren’t dreams Che. There is a shadow at court. My spy believes that its something called a Lómipilu. I thought that you may remember something of it and be our best bet. The library was ransacked and our tomes regarding the creatures of The Shadow have been removed or destroyed so we are in the dark.” Kyoko said as she patted the old mans hand.

“The Lómipilu, Shadow Thief. They are creatures much like the Lóminau but instead of having no shadow of their own they are shadow. Able to harness the shadows of this world to stich their own world into ours and fusing their own reality with ours.” Che answered as he turned his head to stare at one of the party members, he was starting to sweat and his eyes were wide with fear.

“Do you remember how to kill them or trap them?” Kyoko pressed, Che was shaking now.

“Alas no princess, I never fought one but I remember my mother, the light prophet, mentioning them. There was an old proverb about catching shadow that she used to say but I took it as a child story or something to praise the light.” he said as he wiped tears from his eyes. The weight of the war and his memories getting too much for him.

“One by one the shadows gathered and writhed like beasts on the prowl. One by one the Shadows tricked their owners until all was dark. One by one they grew and merged into the one true Shadow. But one by one they split from their form….” She began to recite the story.

Kyoko squeezes his hand and started to speak “One by one the lights surrounded the beast and one by one they shrank down. One by one the lights grew and truth was revealed and one by one the shadows hid from the light. One by one the shadows cowered under a box and one by one the lights held the box closed and the world was bathed in light and truth and warmth.” Kyoko finished the story and smiled at the party. “My mother also used to say the same thing to me when I was worried about the monsters under my bed. She would light candles and place them around the room, where the shadows would gather so that they didn’t look so scary when they had no where to gather.”

Che nodded and sipped from his tea. “I wish I could be of more use princess but I can hear my friend calling me.” he said as he lay back slowly, his eye lids fluttering before falling asleep in his chair. As he fell asleep his hand opened and a light shone form his palm. Frowning Kyoko reached in and plucked out a single finger-nail sized scale that glowed and shone like the sun.

“Interesting. I wonder where Che got hold of a dragon scale…”

237ThOrOLi

As the party of adventurers, Kyoko and Liz left the cascade of leaves and vines that separated Che from the outside world a single mote of light drifted down from the unseen canopy. As the mote of light drifted down Che began to stir and though his half closed eyes could not see he smiled at the light.

“My little friend. You have come back to me.” he said as she shakily went to pour a tea – but the stone pot was not where he had left it. As panic began to set into the old mans mind he knocked the cup off the little wooden log he used as a table and reached for the cup as it fell.

Golden digits and golden claws caught the cup and clasped it tightly as they lifted it to the shaking mans hands. As they touched the cup to the man the relief that welled up inside the man overflowed into his face and a peaceful smile replaced the look of concern. “You have saved me again my friend.” he said as he placed the cub down into the little groove it lived in. As golden digits moved the pot back to where it lived Che poured a cup of tea and offered it in thanks to the creature of light.

Sitting in silence and listening to, albeit noisy, slurping from the creature the old man smiled contently and swung his legs. “The young princess is chasing shadows again.” he said with a light giggle. “Much like mother used to when she was young. I don’t suppose you know how to catch the darkness that hides in our halls do you?” he asked the light. After a moment sound of china being placed down onto wood clinked a happy sound.

“I am afraid I do not” said the light. A deep rumbling sound as a creature that was neither light nor flesh but both opened its whiskered covered lips. “But I have faith in the princess and her hunting partners. They will think of something.”

Che nodded and looked towards the light. “I can still see them, the creatures of The Shadow. They dance with mirth as they rip us apart. I can see them reaching into my mind and take my sanity. I fear its slipping little orb of light.” Che said as he sipped on his tea.

“But perhaps I can still help the princess one last time. But I may need your help my little orb of light, my friend.” Che added as he turned to the creature who was floating above the chair. “Can you help her catch the shadow?”

The creature remained quiet for a moment as if weighing up the question and the decision. “I will do what I can – but I must not interfere.” it began to speak before pausing. After a moment it continued as if considering its options “there are things that we can not do and things we can.”

“Thank you my friend.” Che asked as he sipped from his tea. The sound of freshly falling rain splattering on the dark green curtain of leaves brought hope of a cool night.


NPCs – 237TuWiotDa

Kyoko Harimasu

Kyoko seems very interested in helping the party uncover the creature in the castle and leads them to Che – an ancient man by their standards who is rumoured to have the blood of the beings of light in his veins.

Captain Kuang Ping

Kuang is absent for most of the time as he attends the emperor in providing war council.

Hana Toshio-Harimasu

Hana gets settled into courtly life again after what feels like an age of her being locked away in the Toshio house.

Takeo

Takeo distracts Master Fukiyomo as he begins to suspect things are not as they seem. He provides some insight (if needed) to the party but otherwise avoids them so they can work out how to catch a shadow.

Master Fukiyomo

A well renowned spy as adviser to the emperor. However he had been missing for quite some time until now…

Che Shenyuo


Che was born a very long time ago and remembers the first wars with the shadow. The son of a Ryokughan Merchant and an elf he has an extraordinarily, some may say unnaturally, long life span. Because of this he is looked after by the Harimasu family and guarded constantly because of the knowledge he holds.

The wars of his younger days may be over but the horrors he saw live with him today. Now that there is a call to arms again he may be the only one who remembers how The Shadow was pushed back last time.

NPC’s and faces of the Void

The NPC faces are probable the same, some real people some the Lómipilu.


Environment and running the adventure

Inside of the castle – A few hallways but it’s a well flowing castle that provides ample hiding positions for the creature to disappear from sight.

Adventure

237FrPlDiAd

This week has a problem to solve. How do you catch a shadow. Whilst not like the incorporeal shadow creature this one is something that uses the shadow to move between the material plane and pocket dimensions it creates. The question is how do we catch it.

For me this week is easy. The first cool sounding, plausible solution the party comes up with we go for. No holding back and jump with two feet. The outcomes is what we will cover tonight.

What ever the solution the creature will dive towards and into the nearest patch of shadow (remember that it’s human size so its got to make sense.) And it will create a portal to its central pocket dimensions. The portal will be big enough for the party to fit through (big-medium or smaller) and it will remain open as long as a source of light is present on both sides of the portal.

Our orb of light friend may pose a solution here but more on that this weekend.

Once open we cut to next weeks adventure, fighting the creature in it’s home turf.

Suggested help from the Orb.

When we look at how to catch a shadow we need to understand what is possible in this world. For us that’s easy as the above adventure states – pick something that sounds plausible that would work that the party can think of.

The orb of light can help us in our task by laying a path of dragon scales (I think we can all see where I am going with this…) to lead the shadow somewhere, provide a burst of light randomly in the room or otherwise lure, pin, or herd the creature somewhere. Perhaps for a few nights the party wakes up with more glowing dragon scales at their bed, or finds them through the room. Maybe the party fashioned weapons out of them or items that can give of bursts of light. If they want to see if a merchant or artisan is available to creature something then I would say that Heavens Reach city is the place to find them.


Thanks for joining me for another end of week writeup. It’s bee a long week and after a successful, but not outright win for the local Warhammer tournament I am beyond fatigued. So on that note I appreciate you at dropping by tonight to read this weeks end of week writeup and I would ask that you don’t forget to come back this week for the final confrontation Oh, and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Overshadowed Return

Welcome to the first end of week writeup for September where our princess has returned home! However she has come back to an overshadowed return with the revelation that all is not well at home. A creature has taken up residence within the castles wall and not even the spy Takeo has been able to find it yet. But perhaps our party can help?

As always portraits are created in Artbreeder and the normal wonderful tools like Kobold-fight-Club and D&D Beyond are used frequently.


Overshadowed Return

The familiar sights of the city were a welcome blanket of comfort for Kyoko, Hana and, although he would never admit it Kuang. As the party moved down the streets the busy merchants, artisans, guards and farmers stopped and cheered for the return of Kyoko. At the intersection of a busy street where their was a five feet wide line of red bricks that ran the length of it, perpendicular to the one they were travelling on Kyoko turned with a bright smile and looked in the direction of a massive tree.

The tree was ancient. Easily taller than the majority of the buildings around the city and Kyoko searched for when she returned home. In fact it was the first thing she always checked. Amongst the branches of the tree was a strip of red cloth hanging from a branch, fluttering in the wind loosely. Kyoko turned to the party, still smiling and walked closer. “I feel like a drink in celebration of returning home.” and amongst the cheers of those on the streets around her she head down a road to a the Jade Cup.

The Jade Cup was a well known establishment in Heavens Reach providing good food and drinks to the public. As Kyoko ordered a round of drinks for the table a cloaked stranger sat down next to the party.

“I am sorry Lady Kyoko for interrupting your return to the capital but I hoped you had remembered the training.” the stranger spoke softly as he looked nervously around the room.

“I saw the warning.” she said looking around the room, mimicking the stranger. “So what news do you bring Takeo?”

Takeo leaned in, nodding with a smile to the party. “It’s been some time my friends,” he said before leaning in closer to the table. “I can’t confirm it but there is something in the castle that I can’t detect nor find. I spoke directly to it and discovered no taint, no malicious intent but it intercepted your letters to me and somehow got to the vault before I could. There is also something else in the castle, something that eludes me still.”

“So what do we do from here?” Kyoko asked as she drank from her cup.

“Trust only those you rode in with” Takeo said as he stood from the table and stumbled towards the door. The performance he put on as being drunk and being asked to leave was impressive, but perhaps not his most believable one.

“Well. It’s not quite the welcome I was anticipating, but it’s not the first time we have had this situation.” Kyoko said. “So are we up for a bit of a witch hunt?”

Spy Master

“Now,” Takeo began as he walked down the halls of the castle, “the creature is likely posing as a servant, a guard or part of your family…” Takeo added as if almost an afterthought. “we must be careful of what we reveal here as to not give away us being aware of it.” He took a breath after checking around a corner for others. “Likely someone it has killed. I dare say that it wont risk being exposed by wearing the form of someone it may have the chance of being in the same room as.”

“But if it was able to so convincingly deceive you how will we tell it apart from the others?” Hana asked, her voice still sounding uncertain of itself.

“I was hoping our friends or Lady Liz would be of assistance there.” Takeo said smiling at the party as he approached a grand double door.

“Fathers through there isn’t he?” Kyoko said as she smiled and walked towards the door. “It’s been months since I have seen him.” she added as she pushed on the door.

“Remember what I said my lady.” Takeo said as he pushed the doors open for the princess.

The room on the other side of the doors was flooded in light, airy and had was almost serene. The dozen or so guards, members of court and family and the assistants at the castle all knelt in front of an kind faced man who sat at the top of a dais. As Kyoko entered the room the man looked up and his face broke out into an enormous smile. “Praise and thanks to the ancestors, you have returned safe and with companions I see. Takeo and Lady Lizbet have explained that you are the reason that I have my daughter safe at home.”

The emperor said to the party. “You have my sincerest thanks. If we were meeting upon better times I would have you dine with me for a week in celebration and you would want for nothing. But alas I have restricted the banquets until we can sort out our supply lines with the wall.” he emphasised the situation with a loud sigh. “We are having trouble sending supplies and food up there. When ever we do the caravans and their guards are ambushed and the brave men and women fighting back The Shadow go hungry.”

“Father I am sure that my new friends here would be able to assist us. They have bested a Laelóng, defended me from the Yuki-onna that has allied herself with the traitorous snakes the Toshio family. And they brought back my cousin safely home. I am sure that investigating the happenings with our supply lines is child’s play to them at this stage.” Kyoko said with a broad smile towards the party.

The emperor smiled. In fact he beamed. “Hana. It has been far too long.” he said as the quiet young woman moved from behind the party. “If I had known what was happening to you I would have sent troops to rescue you from your corrupt husband.”

“I dare say that she would have joined us sooner or later” a voice cut across the tender moment between family members as the rustling of feather and the slightest gust of wind sounded from outside an open door. A short, slightly hunched man stepped forward and guards rushed to intercept him.

“Halt!” The emperor called as he stood and moved down the steps to his dais. “I dare say that if you engage that man in combat you cant hope to win.” he said as he reached the bottom of the stairs. “It’s been some time Master Fukiyomo. What dark tidings do you bring?”

The old man smiled. “You know me too well it seems. Unfortunately armies of spirit-folk are ambushing your caravans, but it sounds like you have a plan for that.” the man said as he nodded to Kyoko, the party and Takeo. “But I also believe that we have more to worry about from our neighbours than what comes form the walls at this stage. A sizeable force is marching through the Kunagi ranges as we speak. Slowed down by the collapse of some of the large peaks I will add.” the man nodded respectfully to the group again. “But on this way none-the-less.”

The emperor moved down to a map of the lands as his war council positioned more wooden blocks on it to represent the new information. “Are you sure of this Master?” Takeo said as he stepped forward towards the table, noticing that there was a lot of dark coloured blocked near the wall, about two days ride from here.

“I saw them attempting to clear the rubble from your battle with the Laelóng myself,” he paused as he rested heavy on the hilt of a cane-sword. “As I chased down a Lóminau. One who is without Shadow. A demon of the shadow fell.” The court hummed with the panicked murmur from those who had attended the court. “But I lost it when I felt the presence of a Shadow born. And witnessed it being felled by a party of foreign heroes. So I went to pick up where I left off but could not find where the creature had gone to.” his statement causing a different type of murmur to spread through the room. One of disbelief and awe.

“It seems daughter, that we have much to catch up on. And I expect that Takeo also will want to have words with his master too.” the emperor gravely stated.


NPCs

Kyoko Harimasu

Kyoko’s return home is overshadowed as she receives a warning signal from Takeo as she enters the city. Following through with the agrees process with her spy she uncovers that the shadows taint has even spread into her home. Now she asks the party to help expel this darkness from Heavens Reach Castle.

Captain Kuang Ping

Happy to be home Kuang is a bit more relaxed, however quiet and a bit reserved. Feeling guilt for doubting the party and betraying the trust of Kyoko he hides his secret shame and does his best to make up for it in his own way.

Hana Toshio-Harimasu

Happy to be home and safe Hana is a more vibrant person and is quick to step into the affairs of state where she can. However as she has been with the enemy for a number of years, even married to one of the families that has betrayed them and march upon their gates, reportedly, she isn’t trusted with much.

Takeo

On the hunt for the creature that thwarted him in the castle Takeo appears calm but highly alert.

Despite his hunt he welcomes Kyoko, Kuang, Hana and especially the party back with open arms and acts as their guide around the castle.

NPC’s and faces of the Void

We have a few NPCs this week and a creature that can make itself appear like any other creature through illusions. Any portrait or description of a NPC will function for this – even NPCs previously met which could lead into some interesting conversations or interactions with the creature where they are appearing as a NPC that the Party may recognise.


Environment and running the adventure

Inside of the castle – A few hallways but it’s a well flowing castle that provides ample hiding positions for the creature to disappear from sight.

Adventure

Now in order for this week to go smoothly we need to have a few things ironed out. In fact we need to know exactly what the end goal of the month is and for me that’s easy. I want the party to find, confront and then defeat the creature that is so well accustomed to lies and illusion that its existence is in fact one. But how do we confront an illusion. This is the question we need to answer tonight by the following.

  1. Strange happenings
  2. Illusion
  3. Mirrored espionage

Strange happenings

For our party to be truth seekers we need them to have leads. Takeo, Kyoko or even the members of the household may come forth (indeed a few of them will) and advise that they saw other members of staff different ones, acting strangely. The common denominator is that all of them cant remember who it was. but give a generic explanation that they feel as though they were friends and remember them at dinners and festivals.

Each person though, when questioned more, had a jade serpentine bracelet on their right wrist. The party can either ask the question outright or if they are a bit stumped we can assist. To assist the party the second person they question would look uncertain and come back to bring it up that they remembered something that stood out. The jade bracelet. They would explain that the Jade bracelet normally was reserved for a certain level of staff as a symbol of their favour from the emperor.

When finding the member of staff, the keeper of Jade, who is responsible for these bracelets is the next step. Once there they show off the five bracelets they have – as they are returned and stored in a chest every night at which point the party can investigate them.

Illusion

The Jade bracelet is our first clue. One of them is an illusion and DC 15 investigation or arcana check will see through it. Those with witch sight or the ability to detect magic can tell that all of them have an enchantment placed upon them but one of them has a strong illusion magic placed on it.

The Keeper of Jade goes into panic mode and wants to raise the issue with the emperor. The party can let it happen at which point it makes the third step harder or they can urge them to remain quiet – Something that both Takeo and Kyoko would have mentioned to them.

The Jade Bracelet that is missing and an illusion (its a rusted copper ring with fell writing inscribed into it) belongs to a member of staff who deals with serving food, primarily to the emperor and family.

When the person is questioned about the bracelet, if they are, they snap out as if coming out from a trance and become extremely disorientated. Upon questioning they cant remember the last two weeks. They remember walking into the library to take a scholar there some food and that’s the last thing they remember. The staff member has flashes of dream like memories of conversations with new staff where parts of the memory are disjointed or blurry.

As part of this dream memory they distinctly remember that one of the staff had their shadow shift and stir as if a candle was flickering on the other side of them but there was nothing there. The staff of house show the party to the library and to where the new staff reside.

The library has an entire book shelf cast in illusion which is only broken by DC 15 investigation or arcana check. Once broken the party realises that he books are either missing or strewn around the shelf and floor. The illusion is powerful enough that physical interaction from our seekers of truth doesn’t break the illusion.

The staff quarters has no illusion on it.

Mirrored Espionage

During their investigation a successful DC17 perception check will reveal that they are being followed by someone who knows how to tail them. This person (creature) wears an ordinary face of a member of staff. In fact they may have spoken to this person already who came to them to report something odd or out of the ordinary that was completely different to everyone else.

If confronted the creature will move swiftly but in a calculating way through the halls and the party will lose track of them in a door way. The doorway wont be to anything in specific but I would maybe have it lead to a lesser family members room who wont take kindly to being interrupted or questioned.

If not confronted they will tail the party for the rest of the session unless they go to the library – at which point it will hurriedly leave.


Well another week come and gone and its been great having you along for the ride. and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

The Shadow Born’s Final Move

Tonight as we head towards the conclusion of this yearly adventure meet Mugrave once again, but this time she is something more. This month is a level 7 adventure so our party of adventurers better be up for the task in dealing with the Shadow Born’s final move.

As with last time Pages 1, 2 and 3 are content pages, the description, flow, random tables, etc. and such that you’ve previously seen.
Page 4 contains all NPCs and portraits to help the DM describe them and a bit about them to help play them out.
Page 5 will be stat blocks and map(s) – all that D&D encounter goodness that you want.

Now I will assume you have read the entire post which has had some bits modified over the months content. Now including the original content, and some bits added this is a smaller than normal length, only just making 7635! words long. I really do appreciate the time you take to read through these end of month adventures.

All Maps were made in Inkarnate using their Pro license, Art was created in Artbreeder and the statblocks were created in Tetra-cube AND the balancing of encounters is a mixture of experience and the guides found at Kobold Fight Club.

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


Part 1 – Those without Form – 231MoWaVi

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.


Begging

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.


Areas and places of note

Refugee Camp– A collection of cloth, canvas, smoke and tent posts the refugee camp hosts dozens pof the displaced and unfortunate.

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.

Notable NPC interactions.

Kyoko Harimasu – Kyoko is quick to help those in need but when she starts to get attacked by the Quaigin she is more hesitant to approach strangers.

Captain Kuang Ping – Kuang is un-normally kind to people, revealing a side of himself that isn’t often seen by the Captain. He is however the first to draw his sword and strike down those who attack Kyoko or Hana.

Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu) – Hana is much like Kyokoas 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.

Encounter

Shifters

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.


After the encounter:

The party can do what they please, but to head back into the village of Lanidaye will help drive the story forward. Whether it is to buy supplies or say farewell the village should be provided as the suggestion from Jason and the other NPCs.


Final stand of Mugrave the Shadow born

Welcome to the end of week writeup for August. This week we bear witness to the Final Stand of Mugrave the shadow born. An empowered Shadow blessed Oni who went from minor NPC to one that was helping drive the story – but since we are moving on closer to the end of the yearly adventure we have to say goodbye at some point.


Final stand of Mugrave the Shadow born

The irritation was felt from across the darkened copse and even the diluted moonlight did nothing to pierce the mass of shadow that gathered by the roots and trunks. “You have failed in one of your ploys yet again. Revealed your presence to a mortal, lost your night prowlers and the majority of your quaigin. Yet you still think you are able to deliver what you have promised?” The Shadow asked through a mixture of telepathy, images and pain.

Mugrave stood within the shadow, a darkened mass that quivered and shook. Even in her Oni form prolonged exposure to the Shadow was detrimental and she knew that she needed to think of a way out of this predicament and fast. “I tested them. The foreigners. I know what their strengths and skills are. The quaigin and night prowlers were not wasted. I know what they are capable now and just need more time to gather the right strength and I can deal with them myself.”

A chuckle resonated forth. A sound that brought the cold and dark to such a mirth filled expression. “So you think that power is what you need? More power and you can beat these warriors that are touched by the light hmm?” the Shadow mocked. “I can give you more power if that’s what you ask”.

Mugrave hesitated. She had considered asking the shadow for more power yet she had ruled against it as it wasn’t as fair trade. In fact the price that the Shadow demanded from such barters were never fair. She had watched countless mortals waist away at the promise of power form a pact with the Shadow.

“Have faith in me master. I can do it with my own power and my own cunning.” Mugrave said, unable to contain the quiver in her voice. “The power you offer must be conserved for the fight at the wall.” she added. She knew that the Shadow would hesitate on that as the fight at the wall was not going well. However the shadow merely drifted away from her and melded amongst the trees.

“I have given up too much for your plans already Mugrave and each one has resulted in failure. For instance, your meddling with Yukri’s house almost had her killed. In addition the Laelóng of Lanidaye was also killed because of your ambition. I don’t think you have a choice but to accept my gift of power.” The Shadow spat, tendrils of black mist whipping across the distance between them to inflict bleeding wounds across her skin. “With this last blessing you can make your final stand and either return triumphant of dead.”

The tendrils continued to lash out but more violently carving runes into her skin and into the flesh beneath. Mugrave bit down on her tongue to hold back the howls of pain as the shadow stuff that broke her skin. As the shadow tendrils began seep into her wounds her muscles to expanded and her connection with the arcane powers fluctuated like the waves in a sea. The process was excruciating and after the process was done Mugrave knelt on the ground amongst the copse of trees with tendrils of shadow whipping about her form.

“Now go and fulfil your oath to me” the shadow commanded and disappeared.

Mugrave stood slowly. Her body slowly adjusting to the changes she could feel beneath her skin. The power, the raw manifestation of chaos and malice that swirled through her form was killing her. But she could feel that it was far beyond what she could have imagined. Power enough to command respect amongst her kind. Power enough to instil fear in the enemy and power enough to make her final stand.

Nightmares of Shadow

The dulcet sounds of laughter seem to reverberate through her the room and hearing those notes of mirth caused goofy grins. Her laughter, her grins. It had been quite some time since she was able to speak or laugh and it felt like the last days after the attack from the weird cats had opened up something within her. Hana looked from her cousin to their protector, Kuang and to their new allies, the adventurers from across the seas and she couldn’t help but laugh.

In the past hour alone she felt her jaw cramping from over exertions her her talking. “Enough Cousin. We wont be able to get any rest with you talking to use all night.” her cousin laughed as she sipped on a rice wine.

“Why do we need rest? I have rested for years and now that my voice has returned I don’t want to rest it!” she laughed back. “Besides the escort from home will be here tomorrow and we will be on our way home without a fret in the world.”

The laughter and reply from those around her grew quiet as she felt a cold seep in from behind her. Looking over her shoulder she saw nothing except for a shower of dust from a lose plank above them and she returned to her talking. But her voice was quiet and people didn’t appear to be able to hear her.

A creak somewhere down stairs caused her to stand as her body told her to run. “Did anyone hear that?” she asked but her question fell on deaf ears as they kept talking and drinking. Peruve was making noise down stairs as he shuffled through the house. A result from the injury he sustained during the attack from the Night Prowlers. As she descended the stairs she looked towards the front door just as Peruve reached it. The urge to flee, to run, to get as far away from here grew in sudden urgency as he reached for the door – a soft tapping noise now audible over her heart beat. With a shower of splinters and dust the door burst inwards. Spears of a black shadow like energy burst forward and impaled the poor old man in so many places it was surprising that he was held together at all.

A figure stood in the door and a realisation sank into Hana’s chest when she felt the sensation of cold and darkness grow. In fact it was the same cold and darkness as the last person she spoke to at the Toshio family keep – one of Lady Yurki’s retainers or aides. Turning she fled up the stairs screaming out for help but to also run but no one answered her calls.

As she reached the top of the stairs she could see the party, Kuang and Kyoko were laughing and merry with alcohol. Her screams and cries for help unable to reach them as she was tripped by a tendril that was shadow born. As she pushed and strove upwards she called out again, her voice failing and disappearing as darkness wrapped around her.

Starting awake with a scream Hana sat upright shuddering with tears coming down her face.

“Whats wrong!” called Kyoko who sprang awake with a sword in her hand. A moment later Kuang and the party appeared in the door all dressed for battle. “Hana tell us. What’s the matter”

Hana sobbed. Between her sobs she looked up as she felt her kins arms wrap around her shoulders. “She comes for us. The one that is blessed by The Shadow. A shadow born now hunts us and there is no place we can run.” she managed to get out between the sudden inhales of breath.

Shadow Lands – A place where light fears to tread.

The skitter of feet across stone was a common sounds amongst the shadow and murky light in the Shadow lands. The thick cloud of dark mist that drifted up from the ground created a perpetual shadow that hung to the sky and the rocks below. The creatures that ran, shuffled, slithered or skulked below the clouds were a reflection of their environment. Dark, twisted and devoid of what traditionally defines life for humans.

The Shadow smiled down at its creation. The entire north west of Ryokughan was its domain. A place that no creature wanted to dwell in, unless serving their shadowy overlord, and it was a place that light fears to tread.

Extending its conscience outwards the overlord of the shadow lands checked in with one of its pets, the Oni called Mugrave. Watching as the power it lent rip through her body and power her attacks to beat, rip and tear into those around her was satisfying. But something wasn’t quite right.

The closer it watched the more it became apparent. Something in the combatants that she engaged was dampening her power and she was sustaining damage, significant damage. As the Shadow felt its power being lost with each blow – its shadow stuff dissipating into the air to be burnt out as it left the dying form of its minion enough was enough. Ripping the power out from Mugrave wasn’t an issue, it had done it many times before with many different minions over the years. The issue was the weapons that the creatures used appeared to be made of light itself, blinding, radiant and powerful.

Wonderment and fear touched the Shadow, it had been some time since it had felt the later but as it focused on the blazing weapons and wondrous items adorning the adventurers a powerful presence rushed forth and slammed the Shadow backwards. The power from the items was so intense that it knocked the Shadows physical form backwards to collide with the rocky outcrop it was surrounding. That was when The Shadow felt true fear for the first time in a millennia – not since the war with the warriors of light and the ancestral dragons.


NPCs

Kyoko Harimasu

Kyoko spends most of her time concerned about her cousins health. The sudden return of her voice and the nightmares she has been having that foretell a darkness coming leaves her rattled.

During the confrontation she and Hana are quickly whisked away to safety by Kuang but not before giving each of the party members a potion that was delivered to her in secret.

Captain Kuang Ping

After the deal with Mugrave Kuang always positions himself between the party and the Harimasu family. Subtle at first but as the time after the attack from the Night prowlers turns from hours to a day it becomes more obvious.

Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu)

Hana is plagued with visions when ever she can find time to sleep or nap. A shadow-cloaked woman appearing in their midst before attacking them relentlessly with such dark power is the centre of it. She discussed and revealed her suspicions of who it is to Kyoko who sent a hawk to her family for help. The help that arrived a few moments before they were attacked again.

Mugrave – Human shadow-born form

Being ripped apart by shadow magic isn’t fun for anyone let alone someone who was born to the shadow. Using her slowly draining power she launches a final assault at the party who is responsible for thwarting her plans yet again.


Environment and running the adventure

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A vision of the Shadowlands.

Image created in Artbreeder

Encounter – Final Stand

Made in Tetra-cube

Shadow Born template

Made at the Homebrewery and discussed previously here and used here.

The encounter this week see’s the party fighting Mugrave at an enhanced level. She fights ferociously and voraciously with heightened physical prowess but no real access to her previous spells that kept her alive last time.

The real difference is that when she gets below 50 hp I would impose disadvantage on her attacks and checks – the reason is that the Shadow is trying to take back his power when he can see that she will lose. This should be described as Mugrave begging the Shadow to restore her power as she is fighting and perhaps fighting more erratically and viciously.

But in the end it doesn’t matter.


Now I have mentioned potions up above and in this weeks encounter Final stand of Mugrave the Shadow born I want to dive into the potions this coming week. But they enable the drinker to fight as if all their attacks and abilities were radiant (or blessed).

It’s temporary (a few hours) but there is a plot reason for them – but more on that this week.


Well we are at another the end of the week write-up. Thanks for joining tonight and this week as we wait in a little village within the Ryokughan continent for safe passage out of dangerous lands. So don’t forget to come back for the next week for more information on this months adventure and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Hunters in the Dark

Welcome to the end of week writeup for the second week of August. This week saw the party taking a moments rest in the village where Mugrave gets her night prowlers to attack them. However its not only Mugrave who wishes the party harm as dark pacts are also made in the shadow laden alleyways. What can the party do against such Hunters in the Dark when their own allies plot against them?


Hunters in the Dark

Mugrave passed the guards at the gate and smiled at them, giving a little wave as she walked with a bucket in hand towards the stream. The guards waved back and cautioned her to be careful of the stream as it wasn’t safe at night. Little did they know.

As she approached the stream she placed the bucket down at the edge of the water and continued past the edge. Striding through the waist deep stream was effortless for her being an Oni in the skin of a human and soon she was standing at the edge of a small orchard.

Growling echoed forth from the trees as four feline like shapes stalked forth from the trees.

“Hello my pets,” Mugrave cooed as she patted the first large scaled head that nuzzled her. “Yes you are hungry things aren’t you?” she asked as she patted a second.

A third and fourth waited their turn and she approached them and patted them affectionately, all four creatures reached out with tentacle like appendages and caressed her in return.

“I have a job for you four. There are some people that pose a threat to us. They don’t want us around and master has ordered their deaths. You four are going to give that to them aren’t you?” she cooed as she patted the first two creatures again. The feelings of hunger, acceptance and thrill of the hunt resonated from the creatures like pulse.

“Tonight you will find a mark on the door to where they stay. Find it and kill all who reside within. Leave before daybreak” she said as she stood to leave. The creatures patted her as she left them, their hissing snarls greeting the heels of her feet as she strode back to the village.


Doorich Cottage

“Make yourself comfortable. You seven have been through quite a lot” Yulve said in soft tones as she busily hurried around from person to person.

“There is no need to fuss Yulve. You have done more than enough” Kyoko said as she accepted the hot tea that was handed to her. Glancing towards Kuang she could see that the venerated general was regaling stories of past conquests and battles with Yulve’s husband, Peruve – one of the first foreigners who Kyoko had met all those years ago. Hana busily tried to help Yulve who just as quickly tried to shoo the young Harimasu family member back to her seat.

“Now we don’t have much,” she explained, “but we have some venison stew”. The stew itself may have been plain but it was delicious and hearty and the party could not refuse a warm meal. After explaining what they had encountered on the streets, the shape shifters, Peruve looked up at Yulve.

“Wasn’t there an old folk tale that your folks used to tell me about?” he asked. “You know, the one about the monk who refused any offers of help on the road or something.”

“Yes, you’re right. The Quaigin. A race of cheeky shape shifters who take the form of any they touch. They are immortal spirit folk who unfortunately serve the Shadow.” she continued to explain as she collected cups and plates. “I say unfortunately as the legends say that they once stood against the Shadow but because of their nature no one trusted them to keep their word. They dissolved all ties and retreated back into the mountains I think was the last we heard of them.”

Night fall

After supper and the last of the light had faded from the sky the party retired to the three rooms that were available with Kuang opting to sleep in the hallway outside of Kyokos room. As Peruve walked through the building he heard a scratching on the wood. Moving to the front door with a short blade in his hand he opened the door. Outside the nights sky was cold and contained no clouds whilst guards and refugees walked outside. Closing the door behind him and locking it he didn’t notice the glyph scratched into the door or how it glowed slightly.

Mugrave watched the Doorich cottage from across the road as she ate some bread. Transforming her finger down from its Oni sized to a form more fitting a humans she waited for her pets to visit the house.

“The plan is in motion. We have tested them and found that they are formidable but none have survived the four of them before.” She mumbled to the dark, a cold tendril of shadow touching her arm. “We will have our answers soon, from their living lips or driven out from their dead flesh.” she said after chewing through a chunk of bread and salted meat.

“You there. Miss.” a guard said as he approached Mugrave.

“what can I help you with guardsman?” Mugrave asked in a cheerful sweet one.

“I want to warn you that some refugees have been reported to be going missing. So I wanted let you know that we have placed extra guards around the refugee camp in case you need protection.”

She smiled – humans had the potential for great kindness and great malice. “That’s very kind of you. I shall send my thanks to the guards tonight.”

The guard smiled and shook his head, handing a flask of liquid to her. “No need to thank me, Lady Kyoko ordered it and we are happy to oblige.” he said before walking off down the street.

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.


Mugrave licked her fingers clean of the blood that was dripping from them as the distant lights from fires and starts flickered through the alley. Even in her Oni form the alleys were large, big enough for a horse or two to fit down which was their purpose. Smiling she looked down at the pile of body parts and picked up a flabby arm. It wasn’t her favourite cut of meat, but it will sustain her for a little while yet.

She stopped her biting and slurping and looked towards the entrance to the alley as she sensed a presence there. After a few moments of sitting and waiting she looked down at the arm and the congealing fat around the muscle. Sighing she discarded it and added it to the pile of unappetising body parts. With an utterance of a dark phrase the pile of burst into a dark flame and she shed her Oni form returning to the human she had been wearing.

Stretching her now-cramped feeling bones she went to leave the alley and stopped when she felt a presence next to her. Shifting her glance she mocked surprise and restrained her violent response.

“You surprised me!” she said after giving a small shriek.

“Apologies, but may I be direct?” the man said to her.

“Depends on what you are asking I suppose” she replied coyly, panting and patting her chest as if trying to fan air into her lungs. “In fact, it also depends on who is asking also” she mused as she looked towards the man in shadow.

Stepping forward the sharp looking man looked at her with piercing eyes which she knew could see her Oni self. “Shall we cut the pretence Mugrave and talk business, or I can cut you down here.”

Interesting, she thought. It as not often that humans willingly reached out to her and even more infrequently those who knew her true form. “I guess we can” she replied as she revealed her palms – the signs of blood and gore removed from her skin with the transformation. A boon of being a skin walker.

They walked for some time through the streets discussing the battles they had been in and making somewhat pleasant talk. When they were far enough away from the refugees or polite company he turned to her and looked her in the eyes. “I want a truce. You are not to harm, curse or place dark pacts Kyoko or her family.” he said bluntly.

“What makes you think I am after them?” she replied as she sat down on a box in the street they found themselves in.

“The foreigners. I thought as much. If you leave the Harimasu and can swear and oath that they will not be harmed in any way by your or your masters power. Then you can have the foreigners and I nor my soldiers will stop you.” Kuang said.

Thinking about the possibility of having her mission handed to her on a platter she thought about the consequences. Not my masters or my power. Hard to move around as her masters powers were vast beyond compare. But he didn’t mention natural influence. Kuang extended a hand towards Mugrave, an unwelcome gesture to her as her kind had to be wary of pacts.

“I will agree to these terms if you answer me a question,” Mugrave said as she stood upright and allowed her form to half-shift, “How long have you known I was who I was and how.” she was curious. After all mortals generally were able to see her.

“I was cursed as a child. I see all spirits in their true form.” Kuang said, his eyes flashing in the fire light of a nearby torch as if to emphasise his point. Mugrave smiled and shook his hand.

Broken

Hana was preparing for bed. As she fluffed the pillow and rolled over to blow out the candle she smiled at her cousin. It was nice to be back with her family.

“Goodnight Hana” Kyoko said as she propped her sword up next to the head of the bed.

Hana smiled and mouthed her response. “Good night” the soft sound of her voice came out which cause Kyoko to start and nearly fall out of bed. “I spoke” was all Hana could say as Kyoko stared at her, a look of concentration and puzzlement crossing her features.


NPCs

Kyoko Harimasu

Kyoko disappears during the night with Hana to go and seek someone who can provide insight and wisdom into the sudden return of her voice. Guided and guarded by Kuang (who was all too eager to be out of Doorich Cottage) they are no where to be found when the Night Prowlers attack.

Captain Kuang Ping

Believing that the party members and Liz are the reason that Kyoko has been directly targeted by not only the shadow but by the Toshio family he seeks to separate the two. What he doesnt realise is that Mugrave and the Shadow are using his superstition against him and that they will quickly turn against his pact when the timing is right.

Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu)

Shocked with the sudden reappearance of her voice Hana is quickly taken to a local herbalist who specialises in the magical phenomenon of the Ryokughan region.

Mugrave – Human form

Seeking the end to the Harismasu reign she will do just about everything, sacrificing her beloved pets included, to ensure that no one stands in her way. Letting lose her Night prowlers to be hunters in the dark she even goes to make a pact with Capitan Kuang as a way to see her masters plans come to reality.


Environment and running the adventure

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Encounter – Hunters in the Dark

The new and improved Kobold-fight club is beautiful. The improvements made on the UI and the ability to generate encounters is phenomenal and I can say that it made balancing this encounter easy. For this encounter 4 of these creatures is what we are targeting. Attacking in pairs at a minimum and trying to use their grapple to an advantage is what the general play would be before going in for the bite attacks on those restrained.

The idea behind this fight is that they will flee when the fight looks rough and re-ambush the party in the streets. Using the height of rooftops to their advantage and pouncing down upon their prey. These creatures aren’t meant to be pushovers and they aren’t dumb hunters. They know when to retreat and will retreat as a pack rather than individuals.

Description

Inspiration comes from, duh, the displacer beast but I also would add certain fey like inspirations. Only 4 legs, 2 tentacles that are sensory primarily (hence the blind sight) but a row of frills around the back of their skull that gives the look of a Dilophosaurus. Relatively fine hair is sporadic and in tufts whilst a thick scaly hide sits under their skin.

This with their muted colour, silent approach make them perfect urban ambush creatures and ideal Hunters in the Dark.

Night Prowlers

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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

Form Shifters

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.


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.


Begging

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.


NPCs

Kyoko Harimasu

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

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Encounter

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

Made in Tetra-cube

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

The Laelóng of Lanidaye.

Tonight we continue our journey through Ryokughan and encounter a Laelóng and the town of Lanidaye. This week is a level 7 (if not 8) adventure so our party of adventurers better be up for the task in travelling through the Kunagi ranges.

As with last time Pages 1, 2 and 3 are content pages, the description, flow, random tables, etc. and such that you’ve previously seen.
Page 4 contains all NPCs and portraits to help the DM describe them and a bit about them to help play them out.
Page 5 will be stat blocks and map(s) – all that D&D encounter goodness that you want.

Now I will assume you have read the entire post which has had some bits modified over the months content. Now including the original content, and some bits added this is a mere 11961! words long. I really do appreciate the time you take to read through these end of month adventures.

All Maps were made in Inkarnate using their Pro license, Art was created in Artbreeder and the statblocks were created in Tetra-cube.

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


Part 1 – Desecration – 227MoWaRo

Moving forward was slower going since the attack from the Onikage and undead wolves but they were finally seeing less and less snow settling on the ground as they progressed further east and towards the Kugani Ranges.

“About half a day ahead we should reach a village, they are not part of any family but they usually have an Inn to stay at and are normally friendly to strangers and those who need help” Kuang announced as he finished drinking from his water skin. “And I hope they have some supplies for us as that river was a quite some distance back”.

The ground descended slowly which made the the walk some what easier and soon they found a well worn path that head off towards two peaks at either side of the ranges that created a valley between them, a highway for travel that was frequented by merchants and the like so finding a ride through should be easy. Not more than a mile after joining the road they heard the sound of approaching horses and a wagon approached them heading towards the ranges.

After some discussion the party and Kyoko, Kuang and Hana jumped on and for the first time in what felt like days they were able to rest up and relax as they marvelled at the views of nature. Still descending towards the valley the grass was green and littered with specs of snow with infrequent trees dotting the landscape. Strange elk-like creatures walked through the lands here but the long fox-like tail that trailed behind them spoke of something more mystical than the mundane elks that the party would encounter back in Faerun. Pointing out something odd one of the parties noticed a few deep furrows in the land, like something had dug up a large patch of grass, earth and dirt in a straight line heading in the direction that they were going. Kuang nor the merchant Jason Keening, who happened to also be from Faerun, knew what had caused them or could even make a wild guess.

As the sun began its descent and the afternoon was well on its way the horses of the wagon slowed down as Jason urged them to slow with repeated ‘woo’s’. “You, uh, lot. You better see this.” he called back towards the party and as they climbed out of the comfortable wagon – much to the protest of their bodies – The village up ahead looked as if it had been through a war, or an attack of some sort. Continuing on their way but having the party ready for combat they saw that the people were not dead as feared and were walking around but they shied away from the visitors and even the children did not run out to greet them.

“Normally this village is happy to see my wagon, excited even. I don’t understand what could be the cause of this but these are good people.” Jason said as he moved his wagon over to the inn. A few houses either side of the road looked like they were in the midst of repair and there was a chill to the town that was unlike the meadows a few hours before.

Walking into the inn a nervous and skittish man stood up abruptly from behind a desk “Welcome to the Will’o’wisp inn” he said before a long pause, “We don’t have much room at the moment so I would suggest travelling until the next Village on the other side of the valley” the man said to the party, his posture and demeanour changing as Jason walked in.

After a few moments of talking to Jason quietly and the exchange between Jason and the inn-keep ‘yeah, not good Jason, were’ empty here but I cant take you. I cant risk it‘ were overheard Jason clasped him on the shoulder and walked to the party.

“Well we can get some supplies here but that’s about all we can do unfortunately. As you heard the man, they don’t have rooms for us” Jason smiled but his heart wasn’t in it before he walked back to his wagon to fetch a few supplies to go about his business.


As the morning sun rose the party stretched and were thankful for the warm, comfortable mattresses that were underneath them and the filling meals they received at the house that they were granted rooms to rest in. Kyoko’s families reputation and the tales of the parties bravery and prowess spreading during their quest up the mountain, and the night before, were resulting in the adventurers from across the sea becoming well known, idols to some and for others the targets for scrutiny and ill intended gossip.

The reception back into the city of Shuimu was a mixture of relief, amazement of the tales that they and Takeo told, keeping Shiku, the scroll and the state of the monastery a secret, and unknown to them, the revelation of the kappa cave and the remains of travellers before them were creating concerns and alarm bells of what damning items could’ve been found amongst those remains. Kyoko, Liz and Siu, who was sometimes visible and other times appeared out of no where – a result of Liz’s prayers and charms no doubt, were excited to be filled in when the party returned.

When the party finally found a moment of peace and quiet with Kyoko they revealed the cure for the Shadow Bruises first.

“Interesting, Lotus flowers hold a mystical connection to our ancestors and the dragons that bonded with our families. Some families the dragons took upon other forms but their spiritual essence was always the same and they all had some connection to the lotus leaf. The Harimasu lotus’s have not bloomed since before I can remember,” Kyoko said before wincing, Siu looked ashamed before drifting to the corner of the room towards a small statue of their ancestral guardian Huangdi. “There is but one place where we can receive the waters of the Lotus flower within any amount of reasonable time and it is with the Toshi family, I believe you received some horses from them as a way to return to the city quickly. Although this bothers me that I am in some form of debt to them I do have someone looking after the horses to ensure that nothing foul goes a foot whilst they are in our care. The value of the horses is negligible but to be in debt to another family, small or large, can cause strife within our tight knit communities and that is something we must avoid. What was the second thing you had to show me?” Kyoko asked as she reached for the scroll which revealed the plot on the Harimasu family.

“Ah, this is interesting and potentially damning evidence if we can seek an audience with the head of the family. As long as everything goes fine in our visit there we should be able to request some of the water from their lotus pond – a strange and audacious request but something we can probably navigate around.” She continued as a knock on the door came urgently, rolling up the scroll and placing it by her side she allowed the visitor to enter.

“Lady Harimasu. Urgent news,” it was the one of the men she had requested guard the horses, “One of the Toshio mares has fallen ill suddenly, and died. Our shamans did not make it in time but they have yet to detect any poison or foul intentions on the beast.” the man said bowing to Kyoko. “Forgive us please lady, we did our best but we have failed you.”

“Nonsense – you are not to blame for this. Ensure that no one else finds out about this and we will investigate the mare. You did your best and that is all we can ask of you and your men. Thank you for the news although I wish it was more pleasant tidings” Waving her hand she dismissed the man with mercy before waiting for the door to close. “This is bad timing, a coincidence I think not however. Can you take Siu, Takeo and Lady Liz to check on the mare to ensure that there as no foul play. I don’t trust the shamans as they hire themselves out to the deepest pockets these days. It does not add up, the omens are not good and as it stands we are both in debt to the Toshio family and hold damning evidence of their people committing open hostility against our own. This could have gone a lot better.” Kyoko concluded as she sighed and poured herself a small cup of a strong distilled alcohol.

“please be discrete if you can. The less people that know about this incident the better.” Kyoko said as she started to fetch some parchment, ink and a quill.


As the party left the room where Kyoko sat and headed towards the stable where the fallen mare lay Takeo rushed ahead to make sure that the area was secure and Liz strode next to Siu who hung back with the others, his presence still flickering in and out of peoples perception.

As the party reached the stables they were stopped at the door by several men dressed in Reds and greys.

“You five seem to be out of place here,” a older and serious Ryokughan man said as he stepped in front of the door – his hand moving inside of the sleeve of his robe. “I’ll ask you politely to step away as my lady does not want any disturbances to befall these animals.”

The man waits for the party to introduce themselves before turning to Liz “you don’t seem to be with these four, who are tasked by Lady Kyoko to visit these stables. What business do you have?” The man asked as the other Red and grey dressed men walked purposefully around the building.

“I am here to examine the horses to make sure they are in good health” said Liz, careful to not reveal too much to ensure that the man could be trusted.

Sighing and smiling a toothy grin the man withdrew his hand from the robe “Apologies lords and ladies, I had to make sure I could trust you. Please, allow me to get the door for you.” he said as he moved towards the door, a mixture between a stride and a waddle – the movement almost purposeful to the trained eye. “A mystery it is, the shaman couldn’t tell what was the matter and we were asked to quickly seal up the area and not allow anyone other than those entrusted to enter. I don’t even quite know myself what is going on as I have come at the change of the shift and been told to show the authorised people into the building.” the man said, a small change in his tone as he spoke almost undetectable.

Knocking on the door and stepping to the side a small wooden panel was opened and Takeo’s eyes were revealed. Moments later the door was unlocked and the door opened – Takeo walking deeper into the stables “come in, towards the back” he called in a carefully measured voice so that only those by the door could hear.

Moving through the red robed man closed the door behind them, or so it sounded like it, and carefully walked in behind them. Moments later the sick mare was revealed, her hide was normally brown with patches of white was now a dark grey, the hair slowly falling out in great patches as the body of it lay unmoving.

“I can’t detect any poisons, curses, wounds, cuts, bruising. Nothing.” Takeo said as he looked down at the mare, crouching down. “there is a build up and a large amount of mucus near the mouth as if the horse spat up as it collapsed but that is all I have found that is odd. Strange..” he said as he turned his head towards the party, his eyes following a moment later “Liz, maybe your divine magic can identify what is going on here…” he stopped as his eyes met the man in the red and grey robe.

“What is he doing in here. None of the hands were meant to enter the room.” he said standing abruptly. Just as quickly as he stood he started to shake, his legs wobbling as his shivering hands reached up to his neck and plucked a tiny fluff covered spike from his neck. His eyes lost focus as they moved between the party and the man at the back of the room then to Liz as he fell to the ground.

Liz shrieked and dashed forwards, a prayer already on her lips as she met his side and a golden glow covered his body, a greenish tinge flowing from a minute puncture wound on his neck flowing through to his limbs. The glow spread down and focused on the puncture which seemed to stop the tinge and slowly it receded.

“Interesting..” they heard on the wind as the door behind them slammed shut – whirling around the man in grey and red had gone, disturbed hay the only evidence that he had been there at all.


The plains were just as beautiful on sunset as they weren’t hours earlier and as the sun turned the sky the colours of autumn the party set up tents that they adorned with a charm that supposedly would keep spirits and the fey away from them. Sitting down to a meal cooked over the coals the party made small talk with Jason who had joined them to camp out on the plans as the town had shunned him just as they did the party.

Jason revealed more about his past, about how he had lost his father early in his life, a mercenary fighting for gold and glory whilst his mother had worked hard to give him the opportunities in life and now he was selling wares on a distant land so that he could provide a comfortable life for his mother who lived in Shuimu.

Saying goodnight to the party Kuang went to his own tent while Kyoko and Hana went to separate tent leaving the party and Jason to organise watch rotation for the night – just in case the night and light from the fire brings the creatures that hunt in the dark.

It wasn’t until after the moon reached the cusp of its travels across the night sky that the first signs of something amiss appeared. A vibration through the ground that the person on watch noticed first before waking the others. Gathering around the firelight heartbeats turned into the vibrations continued and gradually increased as the moonlight shone across the plains catching movement across the plains like a drift of snow moving in a straight direction – but the light from the fire, distance and how the moonlight trickled through clouds above made it difficult to see what was going on. Soon though the ground began to shake with such ferocity that lose stones, the utensils used to cook dinner and even the doors on the wagon began to shake and bounce in place as the vibrations turned from a little tremor to a thunderous cacophony.

As the party went back to back around the fire a gust of wind rushed past them all but extinguishing the fire as dozens if not hundreds of white shapes darted towards them from the darkness from the direction of the village. Thundering hooves, broad antlers and glowing white coats meshed together to form a wave of flesh as the crashes around the party, forming a wide berth around the tents as if it was a boulder in the path of a raging river. The tall fox-tailed elks madly rushed around the camp, pushing each other to avoid the camp but also driven by fear or madness to stampede past the party in a blur of white fur, broad antlers and the thunderous explosion of noise that their hooves on chilled soil created.

After a minute the last of the stragglers ran past and into the distance, the plain flattened in a straight path that was easily sixty feet white and went on for as far as the moonlight and the parties vision could see. Looking in the direction they came from the party could see them continuing to stampede into the distance until the moonlight no longer revealed the beasts in their frantic pace to get to where they were going, or away from where they were leaving.

The rest of the night went fine with the party and those on watch who had a quieter duty, albeit more alert and potentially spooked, and by the mornings first rays of light the full devastation of land was revealed. Several dead or dying Elk were found scattered across the hills, gored and crushed by their own kin as they stampeded which Jason, Kuang and Kyoko aided in their passing to end their suffering where possible. Looking in the direction they had come from it was plain to see that the source of their stampede lay back towards the village some way and the party would need to make a decision to investigate or move on and through the pass.


Areas and places of note

Lanidaye – A small village of no real fame or note other than it sitting a few hours ride from the Kunagi Ranges. Generally used as a bit of a pit-stop before heading through the ranges it has been unfortunately visitied by the Toshio Yuki-onna, Yukri and made a deal they dare not refuse.

The Camp-site – Less than an hour outside of the town the party set up a camp – far enough away to not draw too much attention from the creatures that plague the town at night but close enough that its not unfeasible to make a mad dash their.

Environment and running the adventure

Lanidaye – If the party ask around town they would eventually find someone who would explain that the Yuki-onna betrothed to the Toshio family visited a few weeks back and after commanding them to swear allegiance to them and allow passage to spirts and fey-folk, which was refused, one night they woke up to the sound of their homes and businesses being torn apart by a roaring wind, the cold set in freezing their well and stopping the hot spring that kept the town warm and well supplied with water. The day after the queen returned and this time made the same request, noting that freak storms were seen on the horizon but she may be able to spare the village from another visitation. This time they accepted and removed the wards that kept out malicious spirits and fey-folk. From that night onwards, about a week ago, each night they would wake up to find their doors open and food stuffs, or items, missing and two nights ago some visitors to the inn were taken in the middle of the night – their screams woke up the town as they were dragged into the dark. The villagers are terrified at what the Toshio Yuki-onna will do to them next time and, more importantly, don’t want the violence to escalate. So in order to make sure it doesn’t happen they are stopping all visitors from staying in the village for their own safety.

The villagers don’t know where they go, or what they are doing but every night they are visited and each morning something else is missing with tracks covered in the snow.

If the party investigate the houses or buildings that were damaged during the storm they will find one house who is much less repaired than the others which appears to have deep cuts or abrasions in the side of the house like swords or daggers or axes cut in perfectly straight lines to damage part of the roof and wall.

The Camp-site – Less than an hour outside of the town the party set up a camp – far enough away to not draw too much attention from the creatures that plague the town at night but close enough that its not unfeasible to make a mad dash their.

Notable NPC interactions.

Jason Keening – A seasoned merchant in Ryokughan, Jason travels across the main roads within the central area of the continent taking wares from one city to the next bringing back his profits to get items from port cities to take them inland for resale. Well versed in the land and handy with a sword and bow he doesn’t shy away from conflict but is highly superstitious and based on what he has seen and gone through no one can blame him. Although able to defend himself he would rather barter for a peaceful approach and keeps a bunch of oddities and trinkets behind his seat at the wagon for the fey and spirits that would request a trade – his life or something of value.

Ester Yukimono – One of the Villagers who was willing to talk to the party as they approached her store that sells predominantly hand-crafts and some minor blessed talismans that her aunt creates. After the party show interest in her wares, or not, she reveals that these are the last of the talismans her aunt would be making as the villagers wont let her make any more. She specialises in warding talismans that keep the spirits and fey-folk away but according to the deal made with the Toshio Yuki-onna spirit all such wards and talismans were banned in the village until further notice to avoid the queens wrath. She explains that her house was the first one to be destroyed by the wind, but she seems a bit uncertain about this

Hugh Grohw – Hugh is not native to Ryokughan and came over on a trading vessel chasing his then love of his life. Older and more jaded now he doesn’t chase beauties any more and instead runs the local inn at the village before the Kugani Ranges take hold and travellers decide to run the gauntlet between the towering peaks. Nervous and more cowardly than the average mouse Hugh is susceptible to intimidation, persuasion by force or any form of deception – probably how he found himself running an inn at the edge of civilisation – but he fears the safety of others more than his own. He believes that to die with blood on your hands by any means will leave a debt upon his soul and in doing so he wont be able to pass on, cursed to wander the world as a vengeful spirit who prays on those braver than he was in life.

Kyoko Harimasu – Kyoko puts on a brave face but the loss of her crew, the afflicted and Siu have taken a toll on the normally bright young lady. She seems to agree with most suggestions without any deeper thought’s of the consequences of such action’s. Her change in demeanour is quite obvious to those around her and to those who have known her for some time.

Captain Kuang Ping – Kuang is always alert and seems to only confide and trust Kyoko of late, even shying away from discussing plans or thoughts with the party. Despite being grateful of those who protected and aided in the protection of Kyoko he has started to become suspicious at the number of omens and bad luck that seems to follow them around.

Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu) – Quiet but helpful Hana cooks and makes sure everyone is comfortable. She spends most of her time with Kyoko and is constantly writing in what ever she can get her hands on so she can communicate with her cousin or the party.

Encounter

Wounded and Dangerous

After the stampede the party may find wounded or lost Glimmer stags who are frightened and alone who may attack the party out of fear. They would start with 2d6 less hp but are ferocious despite being wounded. However if they can they will retreat and rush on past the party of there is an opening.

The Voltrix is likely to be found if there is a dead Glimmer Stag or something else in the parties journey. Its gorging on organs sees its head buried in the body which when startled it will wrench out before launching itself at the nearest creatures before flying off. Its not a solitary creature but will fight other Voltrix’s for food which can lead to several of the creature feeding in the one corpse which can be a bit of a surprise for the party when several startle and lash out in fear.


After the encounter:

The party can do what they please, but to head back into the village of Lanidaye will help drive the story forward. Whether it is to buy supplies or say farewell the village should be provided as the suggestion from Jason and the other NPCs.


Hunting grounds of the Laelóng

Welcome to the last of the end of week writeup for July where our party met the creature that has been terrorising a nearby village and has been leaving grizzly warnings throughout the Kunagi Ranges. This week picks up from the last week but I will be a bit cheeky and leave some bits out of it for next weekend as I work on some other things in the background. So enjoy the end of week writeup and look out for changes coming here!


Hunted and pursued

As the rabbit with horns erupted from the bush and ran off across the edge of the road, darting behind bushes and around trees, branches and rocks in its escape from the humanoids that had discovered it in its hiding place the party watched it with weapons at the ready lest it was another beast ready to attack them, or worse. As the parties tension eased in the following silence they moved about the snow covered road they put their weapons away and started to move across the road to check for anything else that was nearby. No matter how far and thoroughly they looked they were unable to shake the feeling of being watched, or a predator being nearby – the cold and fatigue of the last days travel taking its toll on the adventurers making shapes in the snow look like beasts and spirits getting ready to lash out at the party and strike them down where they stood.

After they were certain nothing was near by the party and the wagon rolled onwards down the road, returning to being alert and keeping an watchful eye on the walls of the valley, the trees and the snow.


She watched from a nearby wall of ice and rock through the sporadic leaves and branches between her keen eyes and the humans that were travelling through her lands – the one that had been marked by the shadow and the queen. Twisting her neck around she moved away from the rock, her strong neck moving away from the wall of rock and ice as her claws and broad axe-like graft of everfrost that adorned her forelimbs dug into the rock, dirt and ice to secure herself and support her weight. As she moved her body upwards to a crouching position she compressed her body until it was like a coiled spring and released, spreading her forelimbs wide as the framed membranes spread wide and her weight was caught by the wind and she soared higher into the sky as the wind tunnel help carry her higher into the sky quickly – her eyes never leaving the humans and their wagon as they moved onwards.

Creatures scattered in the forest as she revealed herself from her hiding spot, she loved this feeling, the fear, the reverence. She was the mountain itself and those who lived in these rocky outcrops were her subjects, only fit to live her by her good grace. As she soared higher she saw the sun setting on the end of the valley causing the spikes of ice she had created sparkle like jewels through the rift between her rock and snow. Latching onto the tallest rocky peak, digging the ice blade in deep to secure purchase, she watched the humans, they not being aware that they would be dead with the coming sun. A smile formed on her lips, rare for her species but she was an oddity for her kind any way and as long as she was still ruler of these rocky lands she cared not for the wars that happened to the east and west of her, for here she was queen.

Content to watch and plan she climbed to the peak, using her four limbs and he thick and wide tail to give her balance as she gripped into the cold earth. Reaching the peak she sat there and preened her feathers, the yellow sunlight causing her white and blue feathers and scales to glow like the snow that surrounded her as she made sure that she looked her best for the guests she had in her hunting grounds – for the hunt was about to be on and she did not want to disappoint.


The cold wind nipped at her exposed nose and ears as she looked up at the wagon in the distance and sighed with relief. After finding her aunt half eaten by the creatures that came at night she didn’t care about the warnings of the Yuki-onna or even the creature that had been destroying her village – nothing had bothered her, even the cold didn’t bother her half as much as normal. But the things she had seen on her pursuit of the adventures and the wagon had worried her, the creatures big and small, malicious and marvellous all threaded upon everfrost like grim warnings of what travellers in the valley could expect between the valley walls.

That is why she needed to find them, those foreign adventures the one from the same place as Hugh and Jason, her aunt had tons her the night before that they were the only ones that could stop the attacks and had left a single talisman out for their good fortune. Ester was sure that is what had drawn the creatures to her aunt’s room and they had decided to make a spectacle, a statement from her defiance. And now she was racing to them, making up lost ground as they seemed to be moving slower now, whether by choice or not was yet to be determined but it gave her a chance to catch up and ask for help.

Running across the snow was nearly impossible but she moved as quickly as she could, holding her fathers bow with a notched arrow ready to defend herself if anything thought her an easy meal. The talismans and charms draped around her neck should keep most things away or help her natural senses keep her from harm but there was always a cost to such enhancements and she had trouble hearing anything over the wind in the valley. Her heightened senses seemed to be picking up the overwhelming noise of the mountain itself, animals and creatures as well but the wind, groaning trees and cracking twigs – everything was loud.

Surprisingly so she didn’t notice the massive white creature until she nearly bumped into it.

Large thick claws adorned the rear feet and powerful legs, claws and a large blade made of everfrost capped the middle of two large wings that where covered in feathers and scales that made it blend in perfectly to the surrounding snow and frost. A large avian head and sharp beak with Jagged teeth contrasted with the highly intelligent eyes that looked down upon her with amusement and mirth.

Raising her bow she pointed it at the creature who’s beak twisted into the mimicry of a smile. “A brave one to point such a small arrow at the mountain itself” the massive creature said in a chirpy song-like voice. “You get one shot so I’d make it count. But to shoot me results in only your death and not mine little creature” and Ester knew it was true. The creature was as big as the trees, the scales were like metal plates and the volume of feathers made it hard to see where flesh was beneath them. She considered her options and looked towards the wagon, a few hundred feet away, the wind whipped her hair and covered her eyes as it fanned out in the direction of her gaze. A carrying wind she thought. Grabbing one of her talismans, one of luck, she wrapped it around the arrow slowly as the large creature watched her with amusement and curiosity. “I’m afraid to tell you that those talismans don’t work on me little one” the monster said as it moved forward, the everfrost blades biting into the snow and earth giving its massive form purchase. As quick as she could, drawing from her talismans to augment her speed and skill with a bow Ester raised the bow and loosed on a single shot, carrying the talismans with it.

The arrow soared past the creatures head who turned its to watch the arrow fly off into the distance, a breeze pick it up and push it into the wood of the wagon next to the rear door.

“Very clever” the creature said as she turned to look at he girl. “Very clever indeed” it repeated as it lunged upwards grabbing Ester and carried her in her powerful hind claws into the sky, the sudden appearance of a flurry of snow blocking visibility and shrouding the creature and Ester in white as it ascended into the mountain peaks.


Hana stared at the snow as the talisman swung backwards and forwards in the rocking motion of the wagon. She had seen it, she was sure she saw a massive creature fly into the sudden snow flurry and ascend into the sky. As the party arrived around her, and Kyoko gripped her shoulder she realised that she was shaking. Grabbing a quill, a pot of ink and some paper she started to sketch what she thought she saw, but no matter how she tried to describe it with words, or she tried to draw it no one had a clue of what was out there – but they recognised the charm attached to the arrow embedded in the door.

After half an hour the party returned with a bow and reports of the same large scrape like markings in the snow.

NPCs

Kyoko Harimasu

Kyoko won’t leave the caravan this adventure – more to the point Kuang and Hana wont let her, but she will duck out now and again and fire an arrow at the Laelóng in an attempt to aid the party.

Captain Kuang Ping

Kuang won’t be seen outside of the wagon unless its to usher Kyoko back inside the walls. When he is seen he has his sword drawn and is watching both the skies, the valley walls and Kyoko an attempting to do all of it at the same time.

Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu)

Hana tries to describe the creature but having not recovered her voice yet she barely manages to describe anything of note.

Jason Keening

Jason just wants to get out of there but trusts the party to be able to hold their own as he manages the wagon and drives it forward and through the valley as quickly as he can. Apart from giving advice to the party i.e. “Run” he focuses on getting the wagon and the people within to safety.

Ester Yurimono

After finding her Aunt killed by the creatures either in spite or by orders by those who have set their sights on the town, Ester hurries off after the party to try an convince them to come back to help the town, little did she realise that she would force their assistance one way or another.


Environment and running the adventure

Made with Inkarnate.com < click here to view the original.

Part 1 – Fight.

So the first part of the encounter is a slog fest with some hindrance or handicaps on my creatures due to holding Ester. The creature moves slowly, half speed, with disadvantage on attack rolls and dex saves as it’s currently carrying a prisoner and because one of its back feet is occupied in its attempt to stay upright in the snow its a bit more clumsy. This however doesn’t restrict some of its abilities which it will use as often as it can. The goal of the creature is to immobilise or cause as many of the player characters to become restrained by the ice or environment so it can savour their death.

The snow it self makes the players move at half speed but wont affect the creature, as its already slow. This evens the Playfield a smidge and grants a small advantage for the creature as it can cause parts of the battlefield to become hazards where they are nearly impossible to cross over. The goal of this round is to shatter the ice that cover the front clawed sections of wing which will cause it to slip over until it puts down Ester. The creature will also throw Ester at a party member that is within 30 feet as a reaction to their action (movement, attack, spell cast) when its at or below 50% health. Once it does this it will leap into the sky and summon spears of everfrost into the mountain peaks nearby creating an avalanche.

Ice Blades

For the purpose of damaging the ice blades they have resistance to all piercing and slashing attacks, take normal damage from Two handed melee weapons (as they take more muscle to wield) but vulnerability from bludgeoning. the blades have AC14 (as the creature needs them for balance, but they are durable) and 40hp. When ever the Laelóng uses its ice breath attack the ice blades heal 1d10hp.

Part 2 – Avalanche.

Round 2 is avoiding a terrain hazard, the avalanche, whilst fending off the creature as it swoops down to try and kill or drown (in snow) the party. It will always move in, attack once then bonus action disengage during this phase whilst sparing its ice breath. After the avalanche begins they party has five rounds until the avalanche his them and the exit/entrance to the valley is 300 feet away. The in party’s goal is to get out of the valley alive whilst the creatures goal is to prevent them from doing so (but not make it impossible). The wagon is back a further 200ft. If the party are caught by the avalanche they have 3 rounds of fighting a against the avalanche with a mixture of either skill and saving throws before being dumped onto the soggy ground at the end of the valley, just past its walls, from up high a battered creature is now furious for being denied it’s prize, but its now un-inhibited and mad gaining some additional combat options.

Swooped

Dexterity contests are in order to avoid the creatures attack. DC is the attack roll vs the Dexterity checks. If you fail then the creature can still miss based on AC but you are knocked prone in your attempt to avoid the attack. If you succeed then you don’t get knocked prone and suffer no damage.

Caught up

If the Avalanche hits a party member a Strength saving throw (DC15) is required immediately or they are taken under, if they succeed they maintain their footing and are considered to be 5ft away from the avalanche.

This taken under by the avalanche are considered to be restrained and suffocating. The Party member can repeat their saving throw at the end of each of their turns in which they at restrained to attempt to surface and break free.

A creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum of 30 seconds). When a creature runs out of breath or is choking, it can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round).)

Regardless of constitution modifiers after 3 rounds they stop moving through from the avalanche and end up at the mouth of the valley looking at a very angry Laelóng, (mixed between Laniidae which is greek for Shrike and Fēilóng which is Chinese for Wyvern).

Final confrontation

Now some of this will come during this week as the complexity of making it challenging but not overpowering after the ordeal of the avalanche is something I want to spend more time on but the creature will have access to more legendary actions to use against the party will be able to spend its frost breath charge on repairing its ice blades and will no longer have disadvantage (unless the party inflict it) on any rolls as it fights at full ferocity. It is however at half health or wounded to some degree due to the previous confrontation.

I would assume that the party is at level 7 but will not be fully rested (due to the earlier fights or encounters) – this is intentional to make the fight feel more desperate but it should be balanced to not make their failure a sure thing.


Well we are at another end of week where we also find ourselves looking at the end of the month! Next week come and join me as I reveal the Laelóng in more detail and fill in what the next step is for our adventurers. Don’t forget to come back for the other gradual changes I am making this week and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe