The Queen approaches

Hello and welcome to Tuesday night, where we look at the NPCs that are present in our weekly game. This week we are looking at those who are present in the dining hall who do not have a presence, those who watch and wait for their fate to be sealed as the ominous click-clack of hard souled shoes walk down the stairway at the end of the room.

Lady in White

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Siu looked towards Choi and the other three of the cursed that had made it to the hall as each of them glanced between Kyoko, the Party and the girl who stood behind them against the wall. The girl moved like one of them, invisible but present, undetectable but wanting to be seen and she could see them and them her.

As Siu turned around to wards the girl she made a symbol of respect, something that the Harimasu family would do towards his kind and it the copper piece dropped. Who ever was walking down those steps wasn’t Kyoko’s cousin and judging by the smell of fear and apprehension in the room she wasn’t a being that you wanted to be on the wrong side of.

click-click-clack

As the footsteps came closer an eerie silence filled the room, Kuang stood and moved towards the back of the room but a quick nod from the man, Lucian, “Choi” confirmed for Siu as both watchers of Kyoko noticed the man signal his men to intercept the captain who smiled and gestured that he was after something near the kitchens – the guards did not budge but commanded him to return to his seat – which he did begrudgingly.

The uneasy feeling quickly rose in Siu as the first pure white shoe and portions of a robe could be seen at the top of the stairs and sensing the tension in the air he involuntarily let out a low growl-like hum which the companions who he had travelled with for quite some time heard and jumped at the noise.

Kuang had asked the cursed to come with them to the hall, something about a chance to gain perspective and perhaps prove that they are more than just cursed. Siu didn’t understand but looking at the nod that Choi gave him as he moved off and started to pickpocket weapons, daggers, swords and the like from the guards standing close to Kyoko, Kuang and the party he thought that it made sense.

Without being able to be spotted, with people magically unable to recognise or detect them due to The Shadows curse they made the perfect people to keep Kyoko and those who can make a difference safe. Nodding towards the other cursed members he grabbed a few of the smaller weapons of the party members and some that they may be able to use, daggers, short swords and the like and moved over to place them next to the party out of sight. On the way back he noticed a few guards coming to surround the party of adventurers and intercepted them using his sharp claws to cut belts, draw strings to purses and the like and as they scrambled to stop their weapons and items falling to the ground the party was alerted to their movements.

Siu had his head turned towards the back of the door, working on the lock that had locked when he heard the footsteps stop, the steady clicking that was signalling time passing had finished and an audible gasp could be heard from the room.

Turning around his head and vision seemed to move in slow motion as his vision fell upon a woman in complete white at the bottom of the stairs that made his blood freeze like ice.

Thanks for joining me tonight for a small update as I have more to reveal tomorrow and as the week goes on. Don’t forget that as we wrap up this month we have effectively two weeks of writing to do before we get to the end of month writeup and I hope that you wont miss a day here with me and, as always don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Unexpected Dinner guests.

Welcome to the last Monday night in this months Ryokughan adventure where, as promised, we reveal what I think is the biggest twist of the year. This week we find the party joining Kyoko, Kuang and a few cursed guests hiding at the edges of the room just in case they are called upon as Teng Toshio, lord of the Toshio families sacred halls welcomes the party to dinner, and awaits his wife to descend into the dinner hall to join him and his guests.


Party Crashers

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Following the stragglers down the carpeted hallways towards the dinner hall the party became ever so faintly aware of a few of the Shadow Curses refugees, Sailors and even Siu who floated through the halls whilst people moved around them oblivious to the presence of those afflicted.

Entering the dinner hall was a grand affair, people were announced as they entered the room with their weapons (obvious ones at least) taken and placed to the side of the room in a storage rack after which the party were eventually shown to their seats. Looking around the Large room with a crescent cut into the roof above them which revealed a second floor that was connected to the dining room by mirrored winding stairs that ended just at the end of the table, where an empty large throne-like seat sat next to a smaller but equally grand seat.

Judging by their previous scouting and the layout of the room their backs were to the kitchens and they sat opposite Kyoko and Kuang who looks worried but smiled when they realised that people were looking at them. A few moments later and Teng Toshio entered the room descending from stairways that were built in such a way that you could only see him when he was twenty feet from the dinner table, flanked by Lucian and Ruben who wore ceremonial armour and weapons that were polished but still looked functional.

The presence of the cursed and occasional flicker of Siu, who had all but disappeared since entering the walled fort could be felt from the back of the room, where the party had entered but the party caught Kyokos eyes wandering the faces at the table and along the walls as if searching for someone. When the Party caught her eye she smiled and whispered across the 5ft table. “I was hoping my cousin would be here by now, I haven’t seen her in quite some time and we get along well. She was a lot younger last time I saw her so I might just be misremembering her face and looking for a younger woman when she has blossomed into something more.” She said with a nervous smile.

After personally greeting his guests Tend eventually moved to stand between the two large seats “Lords, Ladies, Men and women and guests,” Teng said as he reached his seat after personally greeting his many guests, “It’s not often we get visitors let alone the Daughter of Harimasu family and it gladdens me that we are given this opportunity to give them our hospitality.” A few cheers and scattered claps came forth from the crowd of proud Toshio family servants and soldiers. “But, there is a arrow of sorrow in my side as my wife has been away from the family halls for a few weeks now as she extends the hand of aid and friendship to nearby towns. Let us rejoice now as my wife has returned and will be joining us tonight!” With this the room cheered loudly, but the party noticed that several servants and soldiers looked uneasy if they did or didn’t celebrate the lords wife returning.

A figure moved through the crowd, her head tipped forward as she carried a glass of water and a small scrap of parchment as she presented it to Kyoko before retreating to the back of the room, near where the party entered.

Kyoko sipped from her water as she looked confused and uneasy at the reaction and the party and her guardian, Kuang, felt it too. As the noise died down the click-clack of shoes on the stone steps from the second floor leading into the dining hall could be heard. Kyoko looked down from the stairs to the parchment the lay in front of her, unfurling it and reading it for a moment she was slow to mask her expression of alarm as she looked up at the party before whispering to Kuang who nodded and moved to the back of the room, excusing himself as moved through some guests and servants who stood transfixed as they looked towards the stairway as a glistening white pair of shoes and a robe appeared as Tengs’ wife descended the steps into the dining hall.


Thanks for dropping by tonight as we look to move towards the closure of June as we continue on our journey through Ryokughan and onwards. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for NPCs of this week and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Dinner is a great distraction

Welcome to another end of week where this week we are out of the weather, enjoying the hot springs and looking to uncover plots against the Harimasu family within the sacred Toshio family halls – or so the party think. Meanwhile a figure has been seen walking the halls, causing servants and soldiers to quake in fear and wish to leave the fort but will it be too late for the Party to do so? Well, that reveal can wait until next week.

As mentioned I added a bit more content in this end of week post – added some actions, fleshed it out a bit and put in some spoilers for plot that may hint at the plot lines without exposing it wide open, well yet any way. Without any further discussion let’s roll on with the writeup!


Unexpected dinner guests

The remaining of the cursed and members of Kyoko’s caravan and escort moved along much slower than they had yesterday after spending the night fighting off the attackers and then repairing one of the caravans from using salvageable parts from the other ruined ones. Those that remained were sore and tired and looking forward to getting out of the chill that was now sitting in great clumps of snow on the ground where they walked.

“It’s not far now,” called out Kyoko as she could see the dark shape through the snow, looming ahead even above the next ridge of the mountains “they say that the Toshio family built this estate in such as place as its soo easily defended and the area’s below that ridge are frequently populated with unfriendly creatures and spirits that only the mad or foolish would dare lay siege to their family home. It’s also the only place for days around that has hot springs that give hot water and make the land somewhat fertile so that the Toshio family can actually live there.” Kyoko sighed as he pulled up the cloak around her coat she continued to march through the cold.

Kuang, the Party and the remaining cursed walked more sullenly having watched the soldiers and those inflicted by the shadow bruise curse be cut down, or smashed in most instances, by the Spirit folk named the Nat and none felt it as keenly as Siu who seemed to seethe with both anger and regret as he disappeared from the parties, and Kyoko’s, senses more frequently than not.

Luckily Liz and Takeo had moved a more secretive route earlier to reach Kyoko’s families house before they were ambushed, and to reduce the chance of the Toshio family head from learning about the divine energies that Liz brought from across the sea to Ryokughan. But despite them not being involved in this conflict and being safe, to the best knowledge of the party and princess, it was little comfort.

The thundering hooves of a horse or several nearby broke the party out of their trance as they soon found wild looking mounted warriors riding towards them bearing the colours of the Toshio family. Stepping forward Kuang and Kyoko addressed the warriors and a few brief exchanges were spoken they returned to the group. “We are in luck, Lady Toshio had visited my Cousin and her husband a few days ago and had presumed we would return the horses to here, so we are expected. However I would not expect a warm greeting as during the attack we have but one of the three horses remaining, the other, the once-dead mare, has not yet shown itself and we believe has become tainted by the shadow somehow. Watch what you say, the Toshio family’s honour only goes so far when they feel slighted but we will have a roof over our heads and warm water to soothe our injuries and fatigue. I am told the Princes’ wife, my cousin, is currently out visiting a nearby village and according to the escort group should return in a few days time giving us time to work out how to navigate the situation with the scroll and horses.” Kyoko said as she lead the remaining half-dozen horses, including the Toshio horse, towards the building as the warriors formed a defensive barrier.

“Heard you guys ran into some problem with the locals,” one of the soldiers, a gruff man with a scar running down his face from his right eye, “I hope you got them back for what they did to you, these creatures get more and more bold the further The Shadows influence spreads and they have started to attack villagers and even make the occasional appearance near our fort.” he said, the dislike for these creatures obvious in his eyes.

“Ruben, that’s enough” barked a massive man who was clad in steel plates as well as thick, hairy hide. “I want silence from all until we get to the building – especially from those who know how dangerous these lands can be for the ill prepared or untrained” the man said, shooting a brief mocking smirk towards the Captain and Kyoko who just nodded in return, not worth creating a dispute or drama between the family houses.

Within the hour Kyoko’s party were at the gates to the fort, and family compound, large thirty foot walls met a large gatehouse and surrounded the building, one side backed up to a tall mountainous peak where a flight of steps lead upwards into the cloud and out of view – but even so often large braziers burned on either side of the steps and their glow could be seen through the snow flurries and into the first part of the clouds.

“Welcome Kyoko” a man said as the gates opened, a few heavily armoured and masked guards stood around the man dressed in a large robe, “It’s been too long. Please come in before you catch a cold” the man said but the smile he wore held no warmth. “We will see that the horses are taken to the stable, and that we have room for your small party”

“We will require more space and impeach upon your hospitality more I am afraid.” Kyoko said with a bow. “We have some refugees from the coast where their town was attacked and it has left them afflicted with a peculiar mark which causes them to simply not appear. They can stay in the Caravan if it pleases you but will require some food and form or warmth so don’t be alarmed if something seems off.” Kyoko said, trying her best to not reveal the full truth.

“Ah, I had heard rumours but I can see, well I can’t really!” the man said after a pause those men and women that served him laughed heartily before he continued and the laughter died down a moment after “We will make sure that there is food provided to the Caravan but until the nature of the affliction is revealed I can’t risk it spreading through the family house now, that would be ill advised.”

Kyoko bowed deeply and nodded to the men moving the caravan which, with the other horses, headed towards the stables. “Now let’s get you warm and dry then hmm?” said the man in the robes as he moved off.

“That’s Lord Toshio, Teng Toshio, my cousins husband and the lord that lives here. He is our host and has some influence with the Toshio family so we best tread respectfully around him” Kyoko said in a hushed whisper to the Party. “Now, I need to be rid of these cold damp clothes and to get some real food into me” she declared loudly as she followed the lordling into the buildings.


The halls were filled with noise, gossip from the families servants and guards all talking about the presumptuous arrival of the Harimasu heiress and the wounded and weary people that travelled with her. Hana didn’t see that, she saw her family and hopeful salvation. As she crept along the hallway, keeping to the shadows and doorways she watched the visitors from a distance away.

Her cousin seemed well, the foreigners she kept around here seemed strong, she even thought the powerful suited them as they walked with no sign of the conflict that she had heard about.

“You’re saying that that princess and her pets defeated a Nat army? Lead by an elder?” She heard muttered from one doorway over, peering across she saw one of the ladies of the house, one of the soldiers wives if she wasn’t mistaken.

“Yeah, we found the bodies on our patrol the day after they got here. Either the Nat’s had a turf war and the Harimasu girl came in and mopped up the fighters after they were tired or she has an army hiding in the woods outside of our lands. Either way we are to keep an eye on them, especially the foreigners.” The man who was leaning against the doorframe next to the gossiper replied, sipping from a cup of warmed alcohol. “Regardless of orders I wouldn’t trust what they have to say. I heard that the horses they brought with them were stolen from Reagent Toshio’s daughters very own escort. I knew the Harimasu family was corrupt.” the man spat onto the ground to emphasise his point.

Hana clenched her teeth at hearing the lies and if it wasn’t for her standing in the family she would correct the gossips right away, but she had learnt over the last few years that she needed to watch what she did, as she didn’t have a voice to stand-up for herself in these walls.

Moving from the doorway she followed the Harimasu party through the halls, carrying a pile of dirty linen as a way of trying to look like she was going about her daily duties. As she turned a corner down a hallway that the people went down she came face to face with the foreigners who greeted her, smiling briefly she bowed and rushed past them hiding her face from Kyoko as she rushed to deposit the dirty laundry.

Hana sighed, about the only noise she could make, as she reached the room and opened the door to the heated room. Metal pipes lead to the hot springs below and through some artifice working a lever would see that hot water enter the room and the steel basins so she could wash the fabric she unceremoniously dumped onto the floor. Looking out a window she could see the stables nearby, the wagon that was once would have been part of a caravan stood near the few horses that were lined up in the stables. She had seen the creature and rough looking people moving around the caravan, and in and out of it over the last day but it appeared that they were ignored by most other people which she found odd. She was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear the door open and close behind her.

“Have these washed for dinner” she heard as she snapped out of her thoughts. Turning she saw one of the heads of staff for the family house. Who sighed “Lost in thoughts again Sasha..” the older lady sighed. Hana, who didn’t understand why everyone had suddenly started to call her Sasha, around the same time her voice disappeared, looking around to make sure there wasn’t someone else here the head of staff sighed. “You, yes you maid. Make sure you wash these clothes for Lady Harimasu and her guest. Lord Toshio’s wife is returning tonight and it’s been requested that everything is ready for dinner for our guests.”

As the lady finished her instructions she left Hana alone in the room to hold Kyoko’s and the parties clothes. Smiling he saw hope, since that woman arrived, her voice disappeared and people forgot who she was Hana had lived in constant fear and worry of that woman. Kyoko visiting gave her an opportunity, one that meant her freedom if she could play her cards right and maybe in some time her voice and her identity would return to her.


Kyoko ushered the party over as soon as the unnaturally quiet maid was gone. “I need to ask something of you, something is not right here. Things have changed drastically since I was last here and I cant be sure but that quiet maid has been following us for the whole day. I need you to look around while all eyes are on me and Kuang at dinner. Find evidence if there is corruption and listen to rumours but you can’t be caught as it will only end poorly for us. When the dinner gong sounds then return to the hall as you’ll be expected then as guests.” After s few moments of thought she left for the door, “if you can’t find any evidence, making some may buy us some time while Takeo looks elsewhere.” With that Kyoko was gone and the party was left to work out what their next course of action was.

NPCs

Kyoko Harimasu

Working with the party Kyoko is looking for a way to find evidence of the Toshio families corruption and any plans to engage in direct conflict between the two families.

Having evidence of the their involvement with attacks on Harimasu merchants and trader is damning but it is not enough as a old piece of parchment in the den of Kappa is hardly proof of corruption and conspiracy.

Captain Kuang Ping

Long cursed with visions of spirits he uses his curse and lifelong haunting of the death of his brother to defend lady Kyoko and the Harimasu family. A great warrior and general he puts the safety of his ward first but understands that her safety means that he must be there to defend her.

Lord ‘Teng’ Toshio

Teng Toshio is a a cousin to the heir to the Toshio family and holds some small amount of power and influence over the court. Given his title and the family lands near the Rimespire mountains he is tasked with guarding the families Lotus pond which lives at the peak of the mountain where the keep is situated. He married the cousin of Kyoko Harimasu several years ago at an attempt to have mutual bonds between the two great families however due to the distance from the main families inheritance and status neither he or his wife hold much power in either family.

Ruben

One of the newer and younger into the Toshio’s house guard he rides With Lucian – both of who were hired (or purchased as slaves) by the Toshio family to guard the keep and in doing to the Lotus.

Not as jaded or hate filled towards the Harimasu family he is extremely confident in his ability but hold no animosity to anyone other than the spirits and their shadowy puppet master.

Lucian

Unlike Ruben Lucian has grown up to hate all other families other than the one who he serves, the Toshio family. Bitter, resentful and sick of the cold he takes particular delight in goading people who be knows he can outmatch in a fight, or those who would lose face if they were to dare to fight him. Generally unpleasant he has a fondness for animals and will care for them above all else, except for power – power is what he cares for above everything else.

Lord Ten Toshio trusts Lucian and they can be seen walking together with Lucian being the muscle to Teng’s quick wit.

Sasha (Hana)

A mute girl who works in the Toshio household – a familiar face to some she goes by the given name of Sasha and can be seen following and watching the Harimasu heiress and her party of adventures from the shadows.


Choi limped through the courtyard as the whispers continued to try and goad him to turn against his captain and Princess, Kyoko.

“You’re wasting your time Shadow, I grew up alone so this moment of silence and isolation is nothing compared to life before the Dancing drake” he muttered, receiving a cautious glance from the golden dragonoid from next to the wagon, Siu. Smiling he was grateful that at least Siu could see him, the golden scaled creature was about the only one who could see all the cursed at once and had kind of become a beacon of unity amongst what they had been told were all that remained, the survivors of the Nat attack.

Moving away from the damaged and ramshackle wagon he move about the people of the fort listening to the rumours flittering around about the Harimasu visit – all of which were lies and made his blood boil. But, he had remembered what the captain had said and as he moved around the soldiers, staff and the well off members of the court when he could he lifted a dagger, cut a belt or tie and otherwise created little inconveniences for those who spoke ill of Kyoko or those who had saved his life, the adventurers from across the sea.

“So I spat in the bitches tea before giving it to them” one servant, a oily looking man of middle age, said before breaking into laughter, those around him joined in and some with particularly fervour.

“Couldn’t find the waxing petal? I’d pay to see the daughter of the Harimasu’s shite herself in public!” roared another man, this one a soldier.

“Good, serves her right. What does she think she is doing here in the first place, taking up space, impeaching upon our lords hospitality like that. The Lady of the house will sort her out when she returns tonight I’m telling you that now. ” Said an ugly mostly bald man, the captain of the guards. “If I had my chance I would slip something a bit more permanent than waxing petals” he snarled with a vicious grin.

Choi had enough, remembering the tools that they used to fix the caravan he sprinted off and rummaged through the box.

“What are you doing Choi?” Siu said, drifting nearby as he entered the caravan as well.

“I can’t take it, these bastards are threatening Kyoko now. I wont have it.” Choi said as he found the little vial that they had used to adhere the leather patch to the roof where a boulder had ripped a hole.

“Don’t do anything rash now, we need these people to help us lift this curse” Siu said, but something in his eyes spoke the same language, vengeance.

Grinning Choi walked to the door looking over his shoulder. “It wont be anything permanent, not what these assholes deserve any way, plus I think the Captain is right..”

“What’s that?” Siu asked looking at him with interest as Choi head off towards the captain of the guard.

“It’s only a curse if you don’t use it for good.”


Environment and running the adventure

The halls and courtyard

The halls are relatively uniform with room spread out logically and in some pattern which makes it easy to find your way around. Towards the centre of the building, following carpeted areas of the wooden and stone flooring the party can find the dining hall, reception hall and stairs that lead up to Lord Tengs chambers.

Outside the building is a large courtyard that hosts a few smaller houses for those that serve the family, a smithy for the guard, a barracks (more like a drinking hall as the guard seem to drink their time away) and the stables where the Harimasu wagon and those that are cursed with the shadow bruises stays, well most of the cursed stay there.

Encounter The objective

The objective, as mentioned before with the short scene with Kyoko is for the party to find evidence of wrongdoing, mercenary actions, written documentation that proves that foul play is at hand. As this is a half-way point and more of a sacred site than a fortified position of note many dignitaries and higher ranked family members travel to this fortified house to stay, visit the lotus pools and conduct business where their clients wouldn’t want to move deeper into the Toshio families territory.

Spoilers (from actions!)

Evidence – This household is very clean – The biggest thing to note, which should signal the gong (see the aftermath section) the only thing that they may find (if they search the bedrooms/guest rooms then they could find this under a loose board) is some correspondence between Karyn and Yhin Toshio that are very cryptic but appear to be discussing movement of troops to the north and east.

Evidence – Some guards rooms, or those of who the guards may visit and trust more than normal, may have some belongings that look out of place – either looted, robbed, or scavenged from the wreckages of merchants wagons and the like. If you (the DM) see if as fit to put in a robe/clothes in the Harimasu colours or something that looks to belong to the Harimasu family or their warriors then feel free to but I wouldn’t count it as solid evidence (see red herring) .

“Stealth” / Other – They also find the mute Maid again, following them. If the party have a way to communicate with her (she has a magical curse on her that prevents her from talking which is equivalent to a level 4 spell) then she will reveal that she is Hana, Kyoko’s cousin and that she has been replaced by the White Queen who silenced her and convinced the entire court that she was a maid and she has been treated as such for nearly eight months.

Rumours – Many servants discuss in quiet tones how they say Lady Toshio walking the halls last night, almost glowing and how they feel a bit un easy around her. Soldiers mutter discontent around how there is something wrong with Teng Toshio and his wife, those who are new or who have been there a while (like Ruben) seem to want to leave as soon as they can – however Lucian, if the Party are unfortunate to run into him, believes that everything is fine and that nothing is wrong.


Actions

“Stealth”

The halls will be busy so performance, and other social skills (persuasion, deception, intimidation, etc.) are just as valuable to the stealth aspect or this. Moving around the halls will have a good chance at being noticed and quick thinking on the players end and a subsequent contesting roll (with advantage or disadvantages based on what the party are doing, how they do it and/or what they say to try and convince those who discover them that they are not up to no good.

Rumours

Listening to or sewing rumours is both charisma heavy, stealth and perception based. Listening to those in the court, the soldiers, staff and servants or attendants at court could provide valuable information.

Evidence

Whether breaking and entering, casting spells, sneaking, bribing, or persuading this one is really the crux of the adventure. Gathering evidence through what ever means possible to help prove Kyoko and the Harimasu family’s claims that the Toshio family has been attacking through mercenary companies or conspiring elsewhere against the other prominent family in Ryokughan.

Planting

Decoys, forgeries or the real deal – planting evidence to strengthen the point or persuade individuals to side with the Harimasu’s is also an option. A word of warning on making the deceptive evidence too fat fetched as something will be obvious falsified documents or things and it would damage the Harimasu’s reputation.

Other options?

If the party have a good idea this week roll with it, adopting a “that’s cool, what does that look like?” Approach will enrich the game for everyone involved.


Aftermath

Whether they find and can talk to Hana and/or find the correspondence between Yhin and Karyn (Our Oni mage in disguise from a few weeks ago, and more time before that…) or not is up to the players and how far they want to go. If they plant evidence then the believability and what it is should be up to the players and how you, the DM wants to run with it.

After they have done something, searching (to success or not) and / or realising Hana is trailing them (or not), or planting evidence / listening to rumours (or not!) then a gong sounds and they are summoned to dinner.


Well that’s it for tonight and I want to say thanks for joining me for just over 300 writeups now. Not quite 300 in a row but I believe tonight marks 302 posts in total on Brazen Wolfe Tabletop – soon to be 365 which will be a big achievement for me! Don’t forget to come back this week for the final twist of the month, and probably one of the biggest weeks of the year (if I dare to talk it up) and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Inspiration points

So I find myself at a crossroads tonight – having had to regretfully pause my games (of Soulbound or dungeons and dragons) for some time but that doesn’t stop my imagination running with the smallest inspiration. Hanging out clothes and having an Ant bite my foot this morning, looking at my ice-themed dice set on my typing desk, the dozens of miniature paints littered through my room or the two odd book shelves, different in so many ways but suiting the same purpose – inspiration can some from single word, a single spark and for me its a constant, distracting and enriching thing to experience.

So tonight I want to share a days, my day today, worth of inspiration with you all.

Animals can be a big inspiration for adventures, taking the smallest (and maybe least favourite – except for centipedes, those things are the worst!) of creatures and one that people are naturally fearful of we can create two adventures complete with hooks, sub hooks, NPCs and places to explore. Let’s look at two animal inspired adventure hooks.

Ants.

For a very long time ants have always bothered me, mainly for my dislike of socks and the enjoyment I get while walking bear footed across paddocks, roads, yards and so forth. For the town or Berokovia the ants have changed.

Ants the size of dogs have appeared in the villagers barns and houses and the farmer that killed a single ant was seen being dragged into the soil by an ant the size of an ogor. The crops are slowly dwindling but not as fast as the herds of animals which seem to be the preferred prey for the invertebrates. Regardless of aid coming in with the depletion of their livestock and land there isnt much hope for the town of Berokovia.

Bats

“Demons!” the first shrieks from a frightened city watch guard filled the tavern as the door slammed shut behind him. “There’s demons in the street, swooping down on large wings to grab at any they can find” behind the panicked shrieks chittering could be heart from the streets.

Giant bats, larger than their normal giant kind, have suddenly started to attack the the City of Milfords Rest, built up around mining in the nearby mines. A new rich gold deposit had been found and the miners, the merchants and prospective prospectors have flocked to the city to work and earn their fortune – however a few nights before the winged mammals appeared in the city people started to go missing in the mines, near the new tunnels opened and all but one were lost. The one that was found was a husk, dried, shrivelled and his face frozen in fear and pain.

Objects. Easily enough I have a set of dice on my table and the d100 is nearly perfectly clear with the sligtest tinge of blue which makes me think of ice. On the other side of my desk is my kids tea-set. A saucer, tea cup and a little wooden spook which was left there from a earlier tea party. Both can inspire adventures just as easily as ants or bats.

Permafrost Dice.

“Woah, hold your horses on that one.” the merchant said as my hand hovered over a nearly clear single dice. “That dice has story behind it and its not a good one” he said as he massaged his, actually quite terribly looking beard.

“They say that the dice belonged to a priest of Lathander who trekked into the far north, past where the sun sets and into the frozen waste lands beyond. There he found a keep which belonged to an ice witch who worshiped one of the devil-rulers from the coldest layer of hell – sworn to end the morning lord. When the two opposing powers finally clashed Lathander ultimately won but not before a blast of frigid hell-rime hit the priest high in his chest – where he kept his lucky dice pouch, they say the dice saved his life that day. He had a complete set too but they have been slowly pawned and distributed across the lands but the owners all die in some way and each time the dice move closer together. I had two of them until a day ago a street urchin ran up and snatched one. I dare say the other dice will be stolen soon and end up in the same horde as the first – but the thief” the man paused tsking. “he will be cold as death soon.”

Tea party

As the party enter the Birchwell woods they come across a curious scene, a man, a dwarf and a sprite sitting down around a felled log having tea. The man and the dwarf look up with fear and sadness in their eyes and start shouting towards the party but some trick of the thick birch trees catches their voices but it looks like they are asking for help.

When the party approach the two they burst into tears. “We told you to run, not to approach. Its too late now, he has seen …”

“why hello there, greetings and good salutations. I am Pix, the Pixie and I want you to join me for a tea and some games!” Pix the blue pixies exclaims excitedly as he flutters overhead an removes a piece of old fabric from a chair revealing the skeleton of what appears to be an elf from quite some time ago. Pushing the bones off the seat and to the forest floor he gestures for the party to come and take a seat. “come, once you start you never want to stop! I promise!” Turning and running as fast as they can the other way the party turn a corner out of the clearing and looking up they see the same scene – Pix grinning at them. “Take a seat, I implore you”

Cinema. It’s now new-age practice for people to borrow plot ideas from cinema. Rings of power, magical swords, wizards, vampires that sparkle instead of burning in the sunlight.. ok maybe not the last one – but movies and TV shows are an easy way to get inspired for adventures and I have two sources today – but they are a bit different to normal inspiration.

200 yards

As the boots met the ground the crowd of spectators cheered for their favourite team, one city against the other, a dozen warriors either side ready to fight – but with a difference. Today they put aside their regular armour and their weapons of choice and today they fight with spiked boots, padded armour with flowing tabards and balls made from leather and magic.

The two sides met in the middle and greeted each other, there was no hostility which was for such a clash as The Blue Wolves were fighting against the Golden Giants – two elite forces who had clashed before. An intense rivalry could be felt across the field into the stands as the two captains stood in front of each other but before the ball could be thrown between the two teams four players from the Blue Wolves fell over, their heads bouncing on the field as they lay motionless except for the steady rise and fall of their chest.

The team was short 4 players and, as it so happened the party had been gifted with front row tickets from a mysterious benefactor just that morning which gave them the chance of filling in for the team if there was need. The captain jogged over and looked worriedly over the party. “Well, you’re not my first pick but let me explain the rules pups. Apart from killing anything goes, we need to get past the other team and throw or kick the ball between the two obsidian pillars. That’s it. If we lose Clovia will take control over the fishing contracts of the northern lake which will cost the city a wagon full of gold. Without those contracts our city will starve. We are relying on you” the captain said as the field guard handed over blue and grey robes and padded armour for the party to don.

Puppets

As the man moved his troops into a steady line to ward off the right side of the battle board he grinned at his opponent who looked at the encroaching lines with worry. The cavalry, their horses restless for battle moved behind the line troops ready to counter charge, their warriors restless and eager for their blades to meet flesh.

Seeing an opportunity to counter play the opposition requested that his archers advance, peppering the horses with arrows as they did so, but the horses either didn’t feel the sting of barbed tips or didn’t care.

“I need a break, need to replenish the supplies.” the man controlling the cavalry said as he stood, the massive chair he stood on pushed back against the great stone blocks.

Sighing and resting his head on the table the young man looked at his warriors – who looked back.

“Why are you making us do this” they asked, their fear of the giant now not as great as they feared the zombies and undead cavalry who moved across from him. “We don’t want to be part of this sick game! Please let us go home. I have a family.” shouted another.

The giant wiped tears from his eyes. “I am sorry, truly, this is the only wan I can get my family back. He controls the slave market and he agreed that If I beat him in a game of his choosing then I will get my family back, but if I lose then I don’t.”

His elite troops, ones that he had paid a considerable lump of gold for stood near the other humans who were bound by magic in much the same was as the undead were bound to un life. Moving closer to them he spoke as lowly as he could.

“I am counting on you, my heroes, this is the last chance I have and I can’t lose my mother in the same year I lost my father. Please help and I will ensure you are set free with any riches that you want”

Both of these are simply taken from two videos I watched today. 1 – The Australian football Rules I walked in on whilst trying to get my son towards bed and 2, watching a video for a Warhammer reveal today – both can inspire adventures. One was relevant to the genre, one was not but inspiration can come at any moment.


Hopefully what inspired me today can inspire you on your next adventure. Take a moment and consider how the small things, the mundane to us could be magical or mystical – how things taken for granted in our every day lives could actually be something that adventures are made out of.

Thanks for dropping by, don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the end of week writeup and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Toshio’s Halls

Hello and welcome to Friday where we look at the encounter for this week, tonight I want to have a bit of a gap between where we last saw our party and what happens this weekend for the write-up so I will put some mechanics here and see what we can work out.


Rimed Halls

224FrRiHa

Tonight is entirely based on what the party decide to do. Thinking of a few common items I’ll put down some considerations for this weeks adventure and how to handle it where feasible.

“Stealth”

The halls will be busy so performance, and other social skills (persuasion, deception, intimidation, etc.) are just as valuable to the stealth aspect or this. Moving around the halls will have a good chance at being noticed and quick thinking on the players end and a subsequent contesting roll (with advantage or disadvantages based on what the party are doing, how they do it and/or what they say to try and convince those who discover them that they are not up to no good.

Rumours

Listening to or sewing rumours is both charisma heavy, stealth and perception based. Listening to those in the court, the soldiers, staff and servants or attendants at court could provide valuable information.

Evidence

Whether breaking and entering, casting spells, sneaking, bribing, or persuading this one is really the crux of the adventure. Gathering evidence through what ever means possible to help prove Kyoko and the Harimasu family’s claims that the Toshio family has been attacking through mercenary companies or conspiring elsewhere against the other prominent family in Ryokughan.

Planting

Decoys, forgeries or the real deal – planting evidence to strengthen the point or persuade individuals to side with the Harimasu’s is also an option. A word of warning on making the deceptive evidence too fat fetched as something will be obvious falsified documents or things and it would damage the Harimasu’s reputation.

Other options?

If the party have a good idea this week roll with it, adopting a “thats cool, what does that look like?” Approach will enrich the game for everyone involved.


As you can tell this week we find the parties given the opportunity to sneak around the halls to find evidence or corruption or foul play. While not a major household this manor would be a stopping point before going further North-west and things could be left behind. More to be revealed in this weekend write-up though as there is potentially some shocking evidence.


Thanks for stopping by tonight for, maybe not the most exciting Friday post but still something that sets the scene for next week where we have a bigger reveal. Don’t forget to come back this weekend and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Suspended existence

Hello and welcome to Thursday where we normally look at additional maps, items and other ‘extras’ that give a boost to the content of the week. Tonight I don’t have a map (interior maps are just hard to do when it comes to spacing) or want to sprinkle in additional items or art work so I will reveal a card that I had next to my hand. Enjoy!


Time to Think

224ThToT

Choi limped through the courtyard as the whispers continued to try and goad him to turn against his captain and Princess, Kyoko.

“You’re wasting your time Shadow, I grew up alone so this moment of silence and isolation is nothing compared to life before the Dancing drake” he muttered, receiving a cautious glance from the golden dragonoid from next to the wagon, Siu. Smiling he was grateful that at least Siu could see him, the golden scaled creature was about the only one who could see all the cursed at once and had kind of become a beacon of unity amongst what they had been told were all that remained, the survivors of the Nat attack.

Moving away from the damaged and ramshackle wagon he move about the people of the fort listening to the rumours flittering around about the Harimasu visit – all of which were lies and made his blood boil. But, he had remembered what the captain had said and as he moved around the soldiers, staff and the well off members of the court when he could he lifted a dagger, cut a belt or tie and otherwise created little inconveniences for those who spoke ill of Kyoko or those who had saved his life, the adventurers from across the sea.

“So I spat in the bitches tea before giving it to them” one servant, a oily looking man of middle age, said before breaking into laughter, those around him joined in and some with particularly fervour.

“Couldn’t find the waxing petal? I’d pay to see the daughter of the Harimasu’s shite herself in public!” roared another man, this one a soldier.

“Good, serves her right. What does she think she is doing here in the first place, taking up space, impeaching upon our lords hospitality like that. The Lady of the house will sort her out when she returns tonight I’m telling you that now. ” Said an ugly mostly bald man, the captain of the guards. “If I had my chance I would slip something a bit more permanent than waxing petals” he snarled with a vicious grin.

Choi had enough, remembering the tools that they used to fix the caravan he sprinted off and rummaged through the box.

“What are you doing Choi?” Siu said, drifting nearby as he entered the caravan as well.

“I can’t take it, these bastards are threatening Kyoko now. I wont have it.” Choi said as he found the little vial that they had used to adhere the leather patch to the roof where a boulder had ripped a hole.

“Don’t do anything rash now, we need these people to help us lift this curse” Siu said, but something in his eyes spoke the same language, vengeance.

Grinning Choi walked to the door looking over his shoulder. “It wont be anything permanent, not what these assholes deserve any way, plus I think the Captain is right..”

“What’s that?” Siu asked looking at him with interest as Choi head off towards the captain of the guard.

“It’s only a curse if you don’t use it for good.”


Well that’s all I have for tonight, the tipping point in this months revelation, well one of them – I did say it was a big month. Thanks for coming back tonight and thanks in advance for coming back each night this week! As always I am humbled at how many people come to read my little endeavour, and for the 20 subscribers that I have now I thank you all for liking what I produce enough to subscribe to me. Don’t forget that I do create daily content and that this weekend is fast approaching so I will look forward to writing this weekends writeup, and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Chilling Silence

Hello and welcome to a Twisted-Wednesday night in the come halls of the Toshio family fort in the cold western mountains of Ryokughan. Tonight we look at one of the quietest person who walks the halls and maybe get a glimpse at something more sinister in these family halls


Silent Wanderer

224WeSiWa

The halls were filled with noise, gossip from the families servants and guards all talking about the presumptuous arrival of the Harimasu heiress and the wounded and weary people that travelled with her. Hana didn’t see that, she saw her family and hopeful salvation. As she crept along the hallway, keeping to the shadows and doorways she watched the visitors from a distance away.

Her cousin seemed well, the foreigners she kept around here seemed strong, she even thought the powerful suited them as they walked with no sign of the conflict that she had heard about.

“You’re saying that that princess and her pets defeated a Nat army? Lead by an elder?” She heard muttered from one doorway over, peering across she saw one of the ladies of the house, one of the soldiers wives if she wasn’t mistaken.

“Yeah, we found the bodies on our patrol the day after they got here. Either the Nat’s had a turf war and the Harimasu girl came in and mopped up the fighters after they were tired or she has an army hiding in the woods outside of our lands. Either way we are to keep an eye on them, especially the foreigners.” The man who was leaning against the doorframe next to the gossiper replied, sipping from a cup of warmed alcohol. “Regardless of orders I wouldn’t trust what they have to say. I heard that the horses they brought with them were stolen from Reagent Toshio’s daughters very own escort. I knew the Harimasu family was corrupt.” the man spat onto the ground to emphasise his point.

Hana clenched her teeth at hearing the lies and if it wasn’t for her standing in the family she would correct the gossips right away, but she had learnt over the last few years that she needed to watch what she did, as she didn’t have a voice to stand-up for herself in these walls.

Moving from the doorway she followed the Harimasu party through the halls, carrying a pile of dirty linen as a way of trying to look like she was going about her daily duties. As she turned a corner down a hallway that the people went down she came face to face with the foreigners who greeted her, smiling briefly she bowed and rushed past them hiding her face from Kyoko as she rushed to deposit the dirty laundry.

Hana sighed, about the only noise she could make, as she reached the room and opened the door to the heated room. Metal pipes lead to the hot springs below and through some artifice working a lever would see that hot water enter the room and the steel basins so she could wash the fabric she unceremoniously dumped onto the floor. Looking out a window she could see the stables nearby, the wagon that was once would have been part of a caravan stood near the few horses that were lined up in the stables. She had seen the creature and rough looking people moving around the caravan, and in and out of it over the last day but it appeared that they were ignored by most other people which she found odd. She was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear the door open and close behind her.

“Have these washed for dinner” she heard as she snapped out of her thoughts. Turning she saw one of the heads of staff for the family house. Who sighed “Lost in thoughts again Sasha..” the older lady sighed. Hana, who didn’t understand why everyone had suddenly started to call her Sasha, around the same time her voice disappeared, looking around to make sure there wasn’t someone else here the head of staff sighed. “You, yes you maid. Make sure you wash these clothes for Lady Harimasu and her guest. Lord Toshio’s wife is returning tonight and it’s been requested that everything is ready for dinner for our guests.”

As the lady finished her instructions she left Hana alone in the room to hold Kyoko’s and the parties clothes. Smiling he saw hope, since that woman arrived, her voice disappeared and people forgot who she was Hana had lived in constant fear and worry of that woman. Kyoko visiting gave her an opportunity, one that meant her freedom if she could play her cards right and maybe in some time her voice and her identity would return to her.


Thanks for joining me for another night of twists and turns. Tonight we looked at the start of the end of month reveal and by the weekend the plot and months theme will be fully revealed. So on that note, don’t forget to come back for the next few nights of this week so you can keep up to date with the story as it unfolds and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

The Toshio Fort

Welcome to a Tuesday night here at Brazen Wolfe Tabletop where tonight I have planned a small update as I don’t want to take away from the other plans I have for this week. In an effort to stop myself from revealing too much during the NPC night I will add a few NPCs to our existing known list of characters to hopefully sate your hunger for more content for this weeks adventure.

Lord Toshio’s and ‘His Court’

224TuLTaHC

Lord ‘Teng’ Toshio

Teng Toshio is a a cousin to the heir to the Toshio family and holds some small amount of power and influence over the court. Given his title and the family lands near the Rimespire mountains he is tasked with guarding the families lotus pond which lives at the peak of the mountain where the keep is situated. He married the cousin of Kyoko Harimasu several years ago at an attempt to have mutual bonds between the two great families however due to the distance from the main families inheritance and status neither he or his wife hold much power in either family.

Ruben

One of the newer and younger into the Toshio’s house guard he rides With Lucian – both of who were hired (or purchased as slaves) by the Toshio family to guard the keep and in doing to the Lotus.

Not as jaded or hate filled towards the Harimasu family he is extremely confident in his ability but hold no animosity to anyone other than the spirits and their shadowy puppet master.

Lucian

Unlike Ruben Lucian has grown up to hate all other families other than the one who he serves, the Toshio family. Bitter, resentful and sick of the cold he takes particular delight in goading people who be knows he can outmatch in a fight, or those who would lose face if they were to dare to fight him. Generally unpleasant he has a fondness for animals and will care for them above all else, except for power – power is what he cares for above everything else.

Lord Ten Toshio trusts Lucian and they can be seen walking together with Lucian being the muscle to Teng’s quick wit.

Sasha

A mute girl who works in the Toshio household – a familiar face to some she goes by the given name of Sasha and can be seen following and watching the Harimasu heiress and her party of adventures from the shadows.

Thanks for joining me tonight to get a glimpse at the NPCs that we will work with this week. This week I will have two different encounters set up, one starting with tomorrow nights plot twist and the other on our regular fight night as we set the final stage for the closing act for this Month. Don’t forget to come back each day this week as we continue to develop and grow our adventure and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Brittle Ties

Hello and welcome to another Monday night in Ryokughan and this week we find our parties carrying onwards to Toshio family lands. After a night full of fire, snow and spirits the party is weary and in need of shelter and respite but will the welcome of Kyokos’ cousins husband be what she is hoping for?


Cold Reception

224MoCR

The remaining of the cursed and members of Kyoko’s caravan and escort moved along much slower than they had yesterday after spending the night fighting off the attackers and then repairing one of the caravans from using salvageable parts from the other ruined ones. Those that remained were sore and tired and looking forward to getting out of the chill that was now sitting in great clumps of snow on the ground where they walked.

“It’s not far now,” called out Kyoko as she could see the dark shape through the snow, looming ahead even above the next ridge of the mountains “they say that the Toshio family built this estate in such as place as its soo easily defended and the area’s below that ridge are frequently populated with unfriendly creatures and spirits that only the mad or foolish would dare lay siege to their family home. It’s also the only place for days around that has hot springs that give hot water and make the land somewhat fertile so that the Toshio family can actually live there.” Kyoko sighed as he pulled up the cloak around her coat she continued to march through the cold.

Kuang, the Party and the remaining cursed walked more sullenly having watched the soldiers and those inflicted by the shadow bruise curse be cut down, or smashed in most instances, by the Spirit folk named the Nat and none felt it as keenly as Siu who seemed to seethe with both anger and regret as he disappeared from the parties, and Kyoko’s, senses more frequently than not.

Luckily Liz and Takeo had moved a more secretive route earlier to reach Kyoko’s families house before they were ambushed, and to reduce the chance of the Toshio family head from learning about the divine energies that Liz brought from across the sea to Ryokughan. But despite them not being involved in this conflict and being safe, to the best knowledge of the party and princess, it was little comfort.

The thundering hooves of a horse or several nearby broke the party out of their trance as they soon found wild looking mounted warriors riding towards them bearing the colours of the Toshio family. Stepping forward Kuang and Kyoko addressed the warriors and a few brief exchanges were spoken they returned to the group. “We are in luck, Lady Toshio had visited my Cousin and her husband a few days ago and had presumed we would return the horses to here, so we are expected. However I would not expect a warm greeting as during the attack we have but one of the three horses remaining, the other, the once-dead mare, has not yet shown itself and we believe has become tainted by the shadow somehow. Watch what you say, the Toshio family’s honour only goes so far when they feel slighted but we will have a roof over our heads and warm water to soothe our injuries and fatigue. I am told the Princes’ wife, my cousin, is currently out visiting a nearby village and according to the escort group should return in a few days time giving us time to work out how to navigate the situation with the scroll and horses.” Kyoko said as she lead the remaining half-dozen horses, including the Toshio horse, towards the building as the warriors formed a defensive barrier.

“Heard you guys ran into some problem with the locals,” one of the soldiers, a gruff man with a scar running down his face from his right eye, “I hope you got them back for what they did to you, these creatures get more and more bold the further The Shadows influence spreads and they have started to attack villagers and even make the occasional appearance near our fort.” he said, the dislike for these creatures obvious in his eyes.

“Ruben, that’s enough” barked a massive man who was clad in steel plates as well as thick, hairy hide. “I want silence from all until we get to the building – especially from those who know how dangerous these lands can be for the ill prepared or untrained” the man said, shooting a brief mocking smirk towards the Captain and Kyoko who just nodded in return, not worth creating a dispute or drama between the family houses.

Within the hour Kyoko’s party were at the gates to the fort, and family compound, large thirty foot walls met a large gatehouse and surrounded the building, one side backed up to a tall mountainous peak where a flight of steps lead upwards into the cloud and out of view – but even so often large braziers burned on either side of the steps and their glow could be seen through the snow flurries and into the first part of the clouds.

“Welcome Kyoko” a man said as the gates opened, a few heavily armoured and masked guards stood around the man dressed in a large robe, “It’s been too long. Please come in before you catch a cold” the man said but the smile he wore held no warmth. “We will see that the horses are taken to the stable, and that we have room for your small party”

“We will require more space and impeach upon your hospitality more I am afraid.” Kyoko said with a bow. “We have some refugees from the coast where their town was attacked and it has left them afflicted with a peculiar mark which causes them to simply not appear. They can stay in the Caravan if it pleases you but will require some food and form or warmth so don’t be alarmed if something seems off.” Kyoko said, trying her best to not reveal the full truth.

“Ah, I had heard rumours but I can see, well I can’t really!” the man said after a pause those men and women that served him laughed heartily before he continued and the laughter died down a moment after “We will make sure that there is food provided to the Caravan but until the nature of the affliction is revealed I can’t risk it spreading through the family house now, that would be ill advised.”

Kyoko bowed deeply and nodded to the men moving the caravan which, with the other horses, headed towards the stables. “Now let’s get you warm and dry then hmm?” said the man in the robes as he moved off.

“That’s Lord Toshio, Teng Toshio, my cousins husband and the lord that lives here. He is our host and has some influence with the Toshio family so we best tread respectfully around him” Kyoko said in a hushed whisper to the Party. “Now, I need to be rid of these cold damp clothes and to get some real food into me” she declared loudly as she followed the lordling into the buildings.


Thanks for joining me for the beginning of another week and how fitting it is that our party is moving through the snow and cold as a cold wave has hit the southern parts of Australia at the same time. Make sure to come back each day this week as we uncover what I have planned for our adventurers and Kyoko’s people and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Frigid winds bring foul omens

Welcome to another end of week writeup and this week winter had come to our parties doorstep, or at least it feels like it. A flurry of snow dances around the light of the camp fires and the party and travelling guard for Kyoko are on high alert, but will it be enough? The shadow moves its pieces into play and strikes viciously at two fronts causing the vision and attention of the warriors of the land to shift and move away from its true ploy. Its agents are in place and its waited many years for this moment.


White snow amongst fire light

After the party returned from their confrontation with Sai, their heads burning and buzzing from the poisons that the swarms of insects had graciously gifted them, returned to check on Takeo finding that the door was open and Kyoko was talking in hushed tones with Liz and Takeo. Noticing that the party were approaching she ushered them inside the door where Takeo quickly closed the door behind them.

“You fools, you could have died fighting one of the Locust clan – many have and many will continue to do so if they keep under estimating them.” Takeo berated them the moment the door was closed behind them. “Anything and everything that man, if it even was a man, has said is likely a lie. They can change their voices, their faces with a moments thought and..” Takeo was interrupted by a whinny from across the room. Next to Kyoko stood a mare, the one that was most definitely dead the last time the party saw it.

“There has been a development. Sometime during Liz healing Takeo the mare convulsed, wretched violently and stood up. There is something unnatural here so word of the mare’s death and sudden miraculous healing is not to leave the room” Kyoko began, tightening a muzzle around the mares mouth. “It’s also different – this beast is not the same we walked in with, this one is feral, vicious and there is a cunning in it that has me concerned” Kyoko said staring at the beasts eyes as it shook its head and relieved itself into the straw.

“Before something else foul happens to us or the horse” Liz commented as she began casting a prayer of healing over the party – the last of the affects from the poison slowly disappearing.

“I agree, I have made preparations for us to return the horses to a minor Toshi house, a cousin of mine married into the family and their husband has been perhaps the most welcoming to us in many years.” Kyoko said as she stepped away from the horse – making sure it was secured tightly to the building. “We will return for the horses and then leave to head north.


The road was well made, smooth but worn and relatively flat. Either side of the road lay distance mountains and forests that made up Shuimu’s ridge and to the east, opposite the ridge, lay farmland, rolling hills and snow capped grey mountains in this distance. “Beyond those is what we call the Shadowlands. It takes a long time to cross those mountains and those who complete that feat are rewarded with the regret that they did for beyond those ice capped teeth lie a foul waste land where beasts, demons and spirits hunt for humans to feed their monstrous brood, or, to corrupt and bolster their forces. They are the thralls and the armies of The Shadow and those mountains, and a great wall to the south of them are all that keep the endless tide of darkness from corrupting these lands” Kyoko said as she rode up next to the party.

The mare had caused little trouble as they made their way up the road towards their destination, a few days at worst they had been told but the Mare was showing some signs of ailments with some hair falling out in small clumps despite it eating, drinking and walking well – the exception being that it was dead at the start of the morning.

As the party continued on, the nights got colder and the days seemed to become gloomier. Kyoko’s men and the party started having to take more watch shifts at night as strange things walking in the hills and rocky outcrops of this unwelcoming part of the land. “This place is normally rife with deer and other passive creatures, but it looks as if even this far to the south east the shadows tendrils have crept in some how. We will see my cousin and her husband, the lord of these lands by tomorrow and we should be able to request the rest of the cure for these men and women who are afflicted by the shadows curse.” Kyoko said as she handed food towards the multiple wagons and caravans that contained those afflicted by the shadow bruise curse. Amazed that although she couldn’t detect many of them that the food still disappeared without her noticing it was gone from her hands – such was the curse.

“We will set up camp at the base of the next ridge, its most protected from the elements, easily defensible as well as only half a days travel to our destination. If we continue on we will arrive after dusk and will have to be prepared for fights in quite hostile and unforgiveable areas amongst the rocks and winding passes as we climb to the top of the ridge.” A woman, one of Kyoko’s guards, called out as she rode up and down those who travelled with the princess. “Check your gear now, there isn’t room for error or mistakes in the coming days travel so you best be prepared.

NPCs

Captain Kuang Ping

Long cursed with visions of spirits he uses his curse and lifelong haunting of the death of his brother to defend lady Kyoko and the Harimasu family. A great warrior and general he puts the safety of his ward first but understands that her safety means that he must be there to defend her.


Moving through the tents, caravans and bedrolls – hastily put down and then abandoned just as quickly as people huddled near the fires to shake off the chill that seemed to be rolling down the ridge above them.

“Look alive, I don’t like how the chill settles on the grass while the sun still pokes her head above the horizon” the Captain, Kuang Ping, muttered as he placed hot soup in the hands of the handful of troops he had with him to protect Kyoko.

Reaching the bubbling pot in front of a gathering of refugees from Jade point he turned around and started to place bowls of the hearty meal in their hands. The people stared at him in shock as he jiggled the bowl around in front of them. “You going to take it so I can continue to monitor the perimeter or not?” he asked a tired, gruff man who had the appearance of a sailor.

“How can… ” the man began looking at his fellow shadow bruised, “Is the curse lifted?” he asked a tinge of excitement touching his voice as he grasped the hand of Kuang.

Smiling down at the man and those who clambered around him he shook his head, his smile unable to mask the sadness in his voice as he spoke “The Shadows taint has not yet left your body, but you are not cursed.” the man said as he sat down in front of the gathering of men and women. “When I was a child I wandered the Forest of screams, not its actual name but when the moon was dark and the wind pushed through those twisted branches,” he stopped a warm smile appearing on his face, “My brother used to tell me that there was nothing in those woods, he was strong, one of the last blessed by the lotus in my clan before the harrowing…” his smile dropped. “One night one of our dogs, my mothers prized bitch, ran into the woods at night. She was ready to pup you see and tried to find a place that she could get away from the other dogs. I couldn’t handle seeing my mother that distressed and so I chased after he dog into the woods. It wasn’t long until I became lost, but I was not alone in those twisted branches for like I chased after something that gave my mother joy my brother did also – and he chased after me into those woods.” a crowed gathered, people who could not see the shadow bruised and those travelling with him and the adventurers and, Kuang paused as his eyes met those of Siu, the ancestors emissary, after a nod of reverence towards the golden scaled creature he continued. “My brother was so fast, I did not even see the Oni and the Gaki before they were on me,” Kuang stood up and drew his sword as he began to spar with the fire – his movements like if a snake and the wind had created a being of war, “he drew his sword, this sword, and defended me for hours. Constantly in motion; striking, fading, feinting before decapitating another horrid creature as we constantly moved out of the woods. He was a being of fury, or righteousness but a beacon of light.”

The old mans voice wavered as he stared at the fire dancing along his polished silver of the blade, the reflection of the moon on one side and the flickering flames on the other. “As he pushed me out of the woods he drove his blade through the throat of the most monstrous Gaki I have ever seen but not before one of its limbs pierced him in his side causing him to lose his grip on the blade as he was thrashed around. I did what any brother would do, I rushed forward and ripped the blade out before cutting my brother free, wrenching the limb out as the beast thrashed and wailed. I stood and attempted to lift my brother up but the beast wasn’t done with us yet. I received another one of its barbed limb through my thigh, severing it and pulling it through I moved myself and my brother to a safe distance, bandaged our wounds with my robe and we made as much haste to the safety of the walls of our keep, supporting each other until we made it through the gate.” Kuang sheathed his blade and sat with his back facing the fire a dance of light and shadow. “The wound carried some taint of the shadowlands. I was wracked in pain but I refused to leave my brothers side,” he scoffed with a smile, “they set my bed next to his so I could be next to him as he fought for his life.”

“he did not make it.” Kuang said looking up towards the gathered audience to his tale. “Before he did he imparted some wisdom to me which I want to share with you now. Do not dwell on what can not be changed. Every power in the land has both a light and a shadow, a yin and yang, and only when there is balance and understanding of such can true power be realised.” Kuang stopped and swallowed. “you see, the power of the lotus that he had received was balance. He could see both sides and in some way that night, the taint of the Gaki that courses through my veins is also a power. After my brother died I could see spirits, benign and malicious, light and shadow and I thought it a curse. But after joining her ladies guard I can tell you now – that the curse has a light to its shadow. Being able to see the taint in others, to see the dark has saved my life and hers more times than I care to count. Don’t view your curse as one, but look for the light to its shadow. You are unseen, unremarkable, unnoticed whilst you bear that taint. That’s a blessing. Imagine what you could do with the power to be a presence in the crowd, maybe you just need to make use of the curse for it to no longer be one.” he said as he stood, looking towards a few men who were meant to be on patrol with a frown.

“Captain,” a timid voice, a young boy who survived Jade Point but was lucky to be untainted. “What happened to the dog?”

Kuang grinned. “The bitch had nine puppies, she had returned home at the first howl of wind through those cursed branches.


Environment and running the adventure

The Frosted Ridge– see map.

The icy cold wind blustered through the pines causing the fresh slow to scatter amongst the bed rolls and tents. The gathered soldiers huddles around the fires and walked between the tree trunks alert for any changes or creatures that were lurking amongst the flurries.

The ridge that they had camped next to provided a tall barrier to defend their flank reducing the amount of areas of possible ambush or attack that they had to be alert to but despite this the captain and a few heroes of some repute kept a wary eye on the steep craggy rock face – experience trumping expectation in this instance.

The icy cold wind blustered through the pines causing the fresh slow to scatter amongst the bed rolls and tents. The gathered soldiers huddles around the fires and walked between the tree trunks alert for any changes or creatures that were lurking amongst the flurries.

The ridge that they had camped next to provided a tall barrier to defend their flank reducing the amount of areas of possible ambush or attack that they had to be alert to but despite this the captain and a few heroes of some repute kept a wary eye on the steep craggy rock face – experience trumping expectation in this instance.

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Encounter

The milling bodies and withered husks that shifted around the rocks, roots and rotting logs did not phase the hunched creature who stared into the encroaching darkness, its unblinking orbs of inky blackness darting from noise and burst of light in the distance.

As the sun fell and the dark moon begun take its place in the sky the creatures began to move out from the twisted trees, caves and shadowy alcoves to gather under a tall twisted rock. The creature who watched this unfolding snapped harshly at a young excited creature with long arms as it bumped into his side. Growling it unfurled it’s large limbs which it preferred to lay on and began to stride towards the gathering rock, as tonight in the pale luminous moonlight they would receive instructions.

The bouncing, snapping throng formed a single breathing entity as the same manic energy buzzed around the gaki and half-breeds gathered, largest and eldest of their kind stood closest to the pillar of stone and dirt. A figure in white drifted above them, ascending the rock as if climbing into the skies itself as a Oni wearing the skin of a human stood beside it.

“Tonight,” the voice boomed from the humanoid – causing the entire congregation of beasts to still and silence, “tonight you make good your oaths to the shadow. Tonight you storm the walls from the inside, you smash their defences and, some of you may impress our Lord enough to strike a blow that the mortals won’t soon forget.” The human said causing some of the gathered to roar.

The creature below sat on its limbs again, this was hardly worth the effort of getting up from its cave. Shaking its head in disbelief as the throng of creatures rushed towards the east it wondered how long until it was told to move.

“you’ve lived for quite some time old one,” a soft cold voice spoke in its mind. “Head to the west instead, gather the stragglers as I have a more important job for you.

The creature looked around to find the source of the voice and finding nothing it decided to ignore the command.

As it stood to leave back to the dark and damp hole it lived in a cold presence shot up its side. “You are not so old to ignore me young one. This comes from the shadow as its interests are threatened. Succeed and be rewarded, ignore the call and be punished. My lord awaits your decision”

The presence drifted off, and the creature still looked towards where it’s home was. The wrath of the shadow is not something it wished for. Shaking its head it turned towards the west as dozens of smaller creatures started to skip, jump and yip around it like young excitable pups.


To start off the encounter I want to have the seed planted hatch. The encounter itself is a fight amongst the trees where the Nat spirit folk attack the travellers and Kyoko’s escort below the ridge. A few thrown boulders would be the First known signs of the attack before fast moving little Nats’ would dash into combat and a few bigger in ones in would wade through and smash trees and wade into the humans swinging weapons both natural and crafted.

To start the encounter the sick horse would scream, buck and break the bindings it had on before throwing itself into the first. The smell of burnt horse hair wafts through the clearing while it screams in pain. The horse stands and runs out, instead of hair its covered in a wart-like scaled hide now that is blotchy and the colour of fresh bruises. It hisses, revealing a tongue thats been ripped in two as its head and skull cracks as its face distorts before their eyes as its transformation continues. After its done clawed feet, a snake like tongue and sharp fangs greet the petrified onlookers as it darts off down the road away from the convoy.

For this week let’s assume that our party were level 6. Several smaller creatures and a few bigger ones shouldn’t be an issue. Have the creatures attack the camps and NPC’s to give the party less attacks coming their way. After some time, during the first three or so rounds of combat have the elder appear and attack the caravans before, obviously begrudgingly, attacking the party and Kyoko.



Aftermath

The corrupted horse has fled off to who knows where, one or two of the three caravans are broken and only the Captain and two of his soldiers remain. Only five Shadow bruised remain including Siu and Choi. Those that remain aren’t badly injured and most of them picked up some weapon to defend themselves with and did well.

Upon death the elder Nat mutters strange words as it dies, which the captain translates. “All I wanted was my den back and the shadow to leave me out of his war with the wall..”


Well that’s it for tonight, trust me when I saw that its call coming together and the final dish is looking good enough to eat! Don’t forget to come back next week as we continue with another 4 week adventure (rarely happens but 4 parts is better than one! or so I heard) and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe