Shadow Born

Welcome to Tuesday night where I have a bit of a weird one this week. Tonight I wanted to touch on something that can be done extremely well and may D&D Influencers do is superbly. It’s something that I have tried to work into my own games with quite a good degree of success and that “Wow” moment for my players. So let’s see how we go with it tonight as we experience a dream of the Shadow Born.


Shadow Born

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Mugrave in her shadow form - also known as Shadow born.
Made in Artbreeder

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.


Thanks for joining me tonight. Dream sequences are fun to use and if done well they can both be beneficial at driving plot as well as enriching our players experience. In fact some of the most amount of wonderment and that feeling of “Being special” I have seen on my players faces has been as a result of a dream sequence. Generally I use them as a way of explaining the sudden surge of power upon achieving a new level, but I have also used them for explaining plot, or hinting at things to come for those who are arcane or divinely blessed. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more content and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Final stand

Welcome to the last Monday night of August. Yeah its a bit of a weird month this one with a smidge more than half of the last week given to September. So I’m calling it early!

This week Mugrave makes her final stand. The last attempt to complete her masters wishes before her prey escapes her grasp forever.


Final Stand

233MoFiSt

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.


Closing thoughts

Tonight, and this week by extension, sets the scene for the final confrontation between Mugrave and the Party. Mugraves power isn’t as great as the parties and while they have levelled up a few times she hasn’t… as she is a creature… But we can get around that and still prepare for a engaging fight by boosting her powers if not at least temporarily. The “empowered by a deity” card doesn’t always work out and I hesitate to use it. But in this context and situation it makes sense and can help drive the plot a bit as well.

We know that there is turmoil near a place called the wall, I believe the party is aware of it as well and it should be evident that its where we are slowly driving the story. In fact that is what I plan to do with the extra week between August and September – drive story.


Thanks for coming to read the blog today. This week marks another small spike in the plot and as we roll slowly towards the 9th month of the year we are almost at 75% of the year gone. Now that doesn’t give me much time to wrap up the campaign so I am moving things forward quite quickly. So don’t forget to come back for the rest of this week and continue on this journey with me. Also don’t forget to let me know if you do end up bringing this campaign to your table and how they are going with it! Feedback is always appreciated and welcome. And lastly, 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

Made with Inkarnate.com

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

Made with Tetra-Cube


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

30 Minute Challenge – Shepherd of Fire

Hi all and welcome to a 30 Minute Challenge evening. Now it has been quite some time since I have done something like this. In fact I haven’t I don’t believe I have done something like this as tonight I will be using a song from one of my playlist. Just one song on repeat for 30 minutes… So prepare for 30 Minute Challenge – Shepherd of Fire.

So it should be no secret that music helps invoke imagery and can really help provoke encounters, combat or key moments in the adventure. In fact music is a common tool I use for my creative writing or the daily adventures that I create for this blog. So without giving away too much and in the idea of getting through the write-up in some timely manner let’s roll on.


The rules:

  1. 30 minute limit.
  2. The them must be inspirited by the song Shepherd of Fire.
  3. Grammatical and spelling checks are allowed outside of the 30 minutes but the content must be there.
  4. At the end of the challenge the produced adventure should be able to be used for a D&D one shot.
  5. Must have some form of NPC, a creature, and a goal.

I have kept it nice and simple for tonight, no forced weird things or restrictions but if you want to see something like that feel free to suggest it.

30 Minute Challenge – Shepherd of Fire


Time started: 8:53pm

The party are mid-quest to explore a castle on the edge of the lands of a previous benefactor who they owe a debt to. As they approach the castle the area around them distorts as if falling through water and after a few moments of distortion they realise what is happening. A magic portal has appeared around them.

Whirling through space and time they appear in the hall that consists mainly of floating debris and a small landing attached to ascending stairs. At the top of the stairs sits a giant skeleton, It appears to be from a giant of some breed as it sits in a broken thrown in ancient heraldry. The last thing people notices, apart from the 20ft long mace is a three pronged crown that appears to have been crafted from fresh embers.

“Ah, hero. You have come at last it seems” the skeleton booms out from its risen throne. “I have been waiting for some time for the on who bears the ember. The one who will become the Shepherd of Fire.”

A moment of confusion and the party asking the being to who the skeleton is referring too but the questions fall on deaf ears. The massive skeleton shifts a bit, moving a massive two handed mace from one bony hand to the next. “You do not taste like the last to bear the ember but you will be tested like the others. With the rising of the next full moon you will have exactly one lunar cycle until your test ends. In that time you must prove yourself worthy to be the next Shepherd of Fire or you will have your ember snuffed.” the skeleton rumbled.

“It’s been four millennia since I was chosen to be the last. It has been four decades since the last trial of the Ember and that price, that ruler of men and women was found wanting and cast back into the coals.” The skeleton rumbled. Lightning flashed through the sky revealing swirling clouds and chunks of what would have been a grand city floating in the void beyond the dark and gloom of this plane. “I grow tired and the ember has long since consumed my body. It is time that we crown a new shepherd and the power that comes with it.”

With that the skeleton raised his mace high above his head and brought it down to point at the party and in a billow of smoke and soot the were launched backwards through another rip-tide of a portal.

The nausea was unexpected and new as the party stood in front of the castle once again. One by one each of them looked around checking if they each experienced the same thing. Suddenly a searing burning pain appeared on the left wrist of each of the party members. A crown of embers was being branded on their wrist with three points of it extending up the back of their hand. A faint ember like glow appears on each of their hands but its only visible to themselves.


Plot

The Shepherd of fire is a multi-dimensional being who was created during a time where the forces of chaos needed governing. During the first war between the layers of hell the Shepherd of Fire was created to stop chaos from destroying itself.

As time went on the title passed from being to being with the predecessor passing judgement of worthiness on the new bearer of the ember. The bearer of the ember was a mortal who holds the potential to carry the title and if they are found to be worthy in a set of trials that are secretly bestowed upon them they are worthy. Worthy of the power and title of the Shepherd of Fire. The last to be found worthy was a fire giant prince of significant power but in the centuries he has been testing people he has been unable to find one to bear the mantle.

This adventure hook works best with multiple one shots generally 7 to 10 levels in for the individual party members. This gives the party a good starting point towards the trials (one shots) but – all of them are branded as the holder of the ember. This means that one, or all of them could become the Shepherd which could create the beginning of a fun campaign around bringing order – well at least reigning in the chaotic nature of the layers of hell.

Time finished: 9:17pm


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

Urban Ambush

Welcome to Fight night where this week we are looking at a good old fashion urban Ambush. This week saw Mugrave making a more aggressive move by unleashing her pets upon the party. It also saw some dark dealings being negotiated and a darker pacts being made.


Urban Ambush

232ThCoMa

Made with Tetra-Cube

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.

Closing thoughts

The fight should feel hard, frantic and desperate but when the first of the large feline like creatures is significantly wounded (more than half) then the pack will flee.

If the party give chase, I hope they do, then they will find that the Night prowlers will use their injured pack-mate as bait and ambush the party when they close in for the kill. They are not silly kitties.


Thanks for joining me tonight to look at Night prowlers and how they can make awesome urban ambush encounters. Don’t forget that tomorrow is another creative evening so drop in for that, and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Doorich cottage Map

Welcome to Thursday night where we look at the Doorich Cottage Map on this Map-day. Tonight I will be blunt, I am not quite happy with the map so it may change for the end of week or month writeup. There are some things I want to change for Doorich Cottages Map.


Doorich cottage Map

232ThCoMa

Made with Inkarnate.com

Closing thoughts

The Inkarnate platform makes it easy to create these things with the set tiles. Having the ability to just hey-presto in a building framework and add things into it speeds up the map making process but there are some things I just don’t like. For instance, the rooms are a bit small and some are impractical. The large houses with stairs don’t have corresponding rooms so you have to make it up and trying to build one from scratch doesn’t align well.

The selection of buildings that are premade is also limited, but useful but I wish there was some variety in the tiles, a broken one or miscoloured one would give more character. But the other buildings are quick and easy and can add some depth to combat.

The last part to comment on was my use of the dirt to convey active walkways. For something that took about 30 minutes (being interrupted mid make) it does make the Doorich Cottage Map’s outsides feel dirty – but in a hasty way. I think I will fix this first and see what else I can do.


Thanks for joining me tonight to look at another battlemap. As always I find Inkarnate an valuable tool to create maps which add to the adventure. I can’t wait to have the Night Prowlers stalking across buildings, inside them and saying hello to the party! So don’t forget to come back tomorrow and the weekend and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Dark Pacts

Welcome to Wednesday where we look at the twists and turns of this week. With the coming of night, dark pacts and darker motives are made to foolishly try and twist fate. With the beginning of the end of this campaign approaching so does the Shadows final pieces and moves. Tonight we look at an unexpected boon for the Shadow, and potential detriment for the party.


Dark Pacts

232WeDaPa

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.


Thanks for joining me for a bit of a roleplay writeup. This obviously isn’t something that the party would be able to see that well – but the affects and certain aspects can be described to them such as Kuang late coming and going or the sudden noise from Kyoko’s room. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more Brazen Wolfe Tabletop content and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Doorich cottage

Welcome to Tuesday where we look at the NPCs of this week. This week we look to Doorich cottage, a small establishment that serves as a home away from home for passing through dignitaries. In particular we will look at Yulve, the caretaker and her husband Peruve as they help Kyoko, the party and co.


Doorich cottage

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“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.

Closing thoughts

Well as Mugrave makes her second move we can only sit back want wait for the party to react to what lies in wait. As I mentioned last night in our Night prowlers post this week is about the next move. We see a bit more around the tactics, see different creatures and see a different side to Mugrave – well maybe.

Having an enclosed “safe spot” with confined rooms and areas help sets up for a interesting combat encounter later this week. It also gives some questions around how to get the creatures into the house, or the party out. Much more to work on in the last days of this week.


Thanks for once again joining me tonight to read through the happenings in Ryokughan. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for our mid week twist as we uncover more of Mugraves plans. Also, don’t forget that we have a new breed of creatures to look at, ones that may appear familiar from those encountered in Faerun. But finally, don’t forget to keep coming back, following along this journey and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe

Night Prowlers

Welcome to Monday night where we look at the plot and drivers that push our adventure onwards. This week we will be experiencing the terror of night prowlers. What is that I hear you ask? Well you will have to come back each night to find out.


Night Prowlers

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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.


Closing thoughts

A nice short one tonight to set the scene. The next few nights content will be going over the scenes that play out as the night prowlers come out to play. Mugrave’s making her next move and only time will tell if it will be successful.


Thanks for dropping by tonight. Don’t forget that this is just the beginning of the weeks adventure and I will have more coming. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for NPCs 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-cub

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