Kento’s Story – Session 2 – The Kidnapping of Yabe Nana

Session 2 of Kento’s story and our first full-length one! We do a quick recap of what happened in our last session and dive back into it.  Kento wants to determine if he knows something he can use against Koji Kohaku.  I called for a Beginner’s Luck Koji-wise test, and he managed to make it.  I kind of had a picture in my head about what Kohaku was like, so I laid it out for Blaine.  Kohaku is an honorable man, perhaps to his own determent, Kento might be able to leverage that.

He goes into the Magistrate’s office and demands that Ichiro be turned into his custody, claiming he is wanted for several serious offenses in Yabe territory and that the Yabe Clan-chief has the greatest claim to him.  He completely botches the falsehood check, and can tell that Kohaku does not believe him in the slightest.  Kohaku will not publicly question a fellow Samurai’s honor, yet, with all that he knows, the pieces of the puzzle are sliding into place.

He releases Ichiro into Kento’s custody, and “generously” offers some of his men to escort Kento and Ichiro to the edge of Koji lands.  Ichiro asks about his wares, but Kento can’t secure too much more than his cart for a “wanted criminal”.  On the way back he tries to question Ichiro and Kasumi, but Ichiro knows nothing and Kasumi doesn’t really want to talk business in front of her husband.  Still, she assures him that his uncle will get what he paid for.

Kento’s uncle eventually sends for him, and asks him for his accounting of the events.  He’s not entirely pleased with how things turned out, but he seems to have gotten at least some useful information.  Kento asks him what was in that ledger, and Tengan Tennak simply tells him he can go.

We take a look at Kento’s beliefs at this point.  He honestly has some decent ones about killing his uncle and taking power for himself, but they were lacking in immediate action, unless he wanted to ride out and assault his uncle’s holding then and there (which would have been sweet, but probably futile). It wasn’t a huge deal, because I had another task in mind from Tengan Tennak for us to cut to, but it was something that was worth calling attention to.

A week goes by, and we are once again in Tengan Tennak’s tea room.  As I had been describing it every time these two men met in there, only once the tea had been served and the maids had left does Tengan Tennak get down to business.  He says it has been decided (and the tone implies not by him), that one of his granddaughters, Yabe Nana will be getting married.  The Groom being Hirafune Yuuki, Kento’s cousin and Koan’s son and heir.  Tradition mandates that the head of the Hirafune be married to a Yabe, and Nana’s marriage to Yuuki would further legitimize Koan’s line of succession.

Tengan Tennak asks nothing of Kento during this meeting, merely saying he wanted him to be one of the first to know.  He happens to point out that if something were to happen to the bridal procession, say, in Hirafune territory, he knows Nana has friends in the Imperial City.  If she were to flee there for her safety, she would be out of Koan’s reach.  He then spends the rest of the meeting talking about how they grow up so fast, and things of that nature.

Kento wants to circle up a mercenary, a disgraced Bushi.  I set the obstacle at 3 (1 base, +1 lower station, +1 time requirement, having to be ready to go before the Bridal Procession), unfortunately, his circles is only B2.  He manages a linked test and throws a point of Persona into the roll, and all come up successes!  He names this guy Iha Yasuro, a bushi from a family that sided against Koan during the coup.  He greets Kento as a friend and they drink together as they discuss business.

He can get 5 guys ready to go, and he’ll cut Kento a deal.  He’ll do it for 50 (we realize we aren’t really sure of the proper units of currency, but we call it an ob 3 resources test).  Kento wants to work carefully, taking time to try and get all the money together… And still fails.  I tax him down to a B1 resources, but I do give him the gift of kindness.  Still it doesn’t give Iha much time to get the group together, and they are rushing to catch up to the procession as they leave.

I rule that they manage to get ahead of them, barely, but don’t have enough time to find a particularly good spot for an ambush.  Kento tests Warcraft to try to make the best of it, and manages to succeed, using himself as a decoy while the mercenaries get into position.  He stands in the middle of the road and acts as a bandit, while the honor guards draw their bows.  He rushes them and we come to a Bloody Vs.  I give him advantage dice for the ambush but I give the enemy a few as well (Numbers, longer weapons, horses).  The guards manage to win, and so while I say Kento manages to get a few of them, the rest, including Nana’s carriage, manage to speed through and take off down the road.

It turns out Blaine forgot to factor in Kento’s armor into his defensive roll for the BV, so I let him roll it to negate the arrow that hit him, which he manages to pass, although his armor is damaged as a result.  He rolls a wise to try and discover where that procession will stop next, success leads him to a small village.  The town is on alert and so he has the mercenaries pull some of the local militia away and use the distraction to sneak in.  Success gets him to the window to the room where Nana is staying.

He is wearing a mask, so Nana is frightened by him at first, but he pulls it off and convinces her to tell the guards it was nothing.  He says he is here to rescue her, and she is rather confused by that.  Apparently she was not in on this whole plan.  He tries to convince her that Yuuki is basically the devil, and can not make that untrained persuasion check.  She says she doesn’t really get all that political stuff between Kento and her Grandfather, but she knows she could do a lot worse than the wife of the next clan chief.  Kento then tells her she can come willingly or he will take her anyway and give her to bandits, geez!  He’s actually trained in intimidation so he manages to scare her into silence.

I decide that now having a hostage in tow that would betray him at the first opportunity she thought would be successful is enough of a change in the situation that his first stealth test to get into the village no longer rode.  He weighs his options, but he is mostly looking at a hefty obstacle penalty either way.  When that penalty is factored into the guard’s observation he ends up looking at obstacle 5.  Though some miracle and I think the last of his artha he manages to make it and meets up with his mercenaries outside of the village.  I roll a die of fate for them to see if they took losses, and they didn’t.

Kento takes Nana down river and they meet with an underling of Sone Baba, Kento’s relationship among the river pirates.  He pens a letter to his relative in the capital asking them to ensure Nana got to Tengan Tennak’s friends and called it good.  Now, I had assumed that Kento would be going along on this boat trip and knew that they would encounter trouble along the way.  So when the pirates asked for payment and he failed to properly assure them they would be paid later, I knew exactly what would be the result of that low morale.

Kento returns to the Yabe estate to rest up and determine his next act of sabotage against his uncle.  A little while later, a letter from Sone Baba arrives, informing him that, as far as Sone Baba can tell, a rival group of pirates attacked the ship.  Several of his men have been slain, and Nana is no where to be found.

We call it there and do Artha, this time a few persona and a few fate are handed around and it is a somewhat decent haul.  We forgot to do situational Honor and Shame tests, (and I think Kento may have earned a few of the latter), but we’ll pick them up next time.  We’re still finding our rhythm with these two games, but I honestly think they’ve been going pretty well and we are on track to get even better!  It’s back to Maxim next week, and then after that we will deal with the fallout of Nana’s abduction.

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Maxim’s Story – Session 02

These games are the first time that I have done serious one on one play, as well as the first time I have done bi-weekly sessions (at least by intention and not by people flaking). Honestly, while I might notice some differences in pacing or something in the long term, I didn’t see much difference with a week to week game, and I slide back into it about as well as a session 2 can be expected.

We kick things off the next morning, with Maxim being the first up in the barracks, some of the Bandits are feeling pretty brave and just stride right in to try and talk with him. They want their friend back, and are willing to pay to get it. They even offer to go bother some other town as well, but Maxim doesn’t really believe them. He could take the money and abandon the town, but he didn’t want to just abandon them. Besides, he reasoned, if they could offer him his much just to get their friend back, there’s probably more where that came from at their base. The men tell him to go ahead and keep the money, and turn to leave. Maxim stabs their leader in the back.

One of his cronies run, the other reaches for his sword, and Maxim is able to dispatch him too. One of the two is ‘merely’ mortally wounded, and Maxim tells the militia members to get him treatment “If you think he deserves it”. He goes and reports this to Sergey, when Anya (who was taking a watch) arrives and says she chased after the runner, but he got away. She DID manage to get a crude map off him, to what she thinks is their hideout. The man they captured is still in treatment, so it is as good a lead as any. Maxim actually takes some Militia with him this time (3 of them) and they head out.

On the way, they encounter a man in a mask, leaning over the body of a bandit, repeatedly stabbing him with a knife. Maxim tries to talk with him and he tries to bolt. Maxim manages to get a hand on his robe, and has the militia grab him. He killed a bandit, and he might have a good reason for it, but if he’s not saying anything Maxim feels like he can’t let him go. He has one of the Militia bring him back to town and presses on with the other two.

After a bit, the remaining Militia ask where we’re going, and when Anya shows them the map, they freak out. Apparently, it is the ruins of some village that was destroyed in the war, and it is ‘cursed’. Maxim says he isn’t going to force them to come, but if they don’t deal with their hideout, their village won’t really be safe. Maxim is untrained in persuasion (but has a high will), but it is not good enough. The remaining Militia bail, warning Maxim to stay out of the church. Anya thinks the whole thing is bullcrap, and that is good enough for Maxim.

They press on, and make it to the edge of the clearing where the town is. A voice tells them to stop. They look around, and eventually find a masked man in the tree (It might have been the same masked man?). He demonstrates some magical power, and tells Maxim to not get involved. They debate a bit, and Maxim is pretty much ready to either work with this guy in taking out the bandits, or just take the gold he got as his bribe and let this guy finish the job for him. And then he reveals he is here to kill the Bandit’s leader, who of course happens to be the man Maxim is looking for.

Maxim draws his bow and shoots him, clipping the mask and knocking him out of the tree. Anya stands over him and seems pretty pissed at him, demanding answers that he isn’t giving, and generally upset at another wizard acting as an assassin and giving the rest of them a bad name. He begs for his life a bit, but it eventually becomes clear to Maxim that he will just go ahead with his mission either way. Maxim gives the go-ahead to Anya and she ends up killing him.

The noise from this whole thing has attracted a pair of the bandits, trudging through snowy meadow and trying to find the source of the sound. They stay just out of range of Maxim’s bow, and ask if Anya’s “Advantage” effect could get him there. This was almost certainly a major bend of the rules (I am pretty sure art magic is meant to be read conservatively in terms of effect), but Blaine allowed it. Maxim spent time lining up his shot, and just BARELY met the increased ob. Clipping the guy in the leg, he fails at trying to reposition in secret, but gets a challenging speed test in the process! I’m actually getting more speed tests than BL steathy tests with how Blaine was rolling tonight, but that means I am no only one difficult away from advancing speed, sweet!

Anyway, they’re coming after Maxim instead of going for help, so he shoots them again as they get closer. Taking out one, Anya manages to incinerate the other with magical fire! Maxim makes sure they are dead (by stabbing them for good measure), and they press on.

They find the town mostly in ruins, all that is standing is a church, a grainery and a militia office. Having been warned by the militia to stay away from the church, they naturally check it out first. There seem to be people inside, who almost notice Maxim, but he manages to hide to the side of the window when they go to investigate. There are at least five of them, but there seems to be no way for them to get into the church. The windows are boarded up, and the door was barred from the OUTSIDE. They could remove the bar, but since those people had weapons, Maxim suspects there is another way in, and the front door is a trap.

They investigate the office, finding papers inside, including a note that Nikiat wrote about having one of his underlings send a letter to Volkov Manor. The letter itself is sealed, so Maxim takes it, but doesn’t open it yet. When they leave, they see a man looking around outside and notice Maxim’s tracks in the snow. He runs into the Grainery and seems to disappear. Maxim is able to locate and force open a trap door, leading to a cave beneath the surface.

Anya suggests that going down there might be a mistake when the two of them can just wait the people in the church out, and Maxim thinks she has a point. However, she wants him to stay in the office while she stays in the Grainery. Maxim suspects that she just wants to go down there on her own, and demands they switch positions, which she eventually relents to.

After a while with no movement, Maxim suspects that there may have been another way out of the church (perhaps the tunnel also led somewhere else) and goes to retrieve Anya. At that point, the church erupts in magical flames.

We called it there and handed out a number of fate points, no persona yet, but I think we are getting close. In two weeks we will likely wrap up the matter with the bandits, one way or another, but in the meantime we’ll be diving back into Kento’s story!

Building the Gulf of False Hope (Part 2)

The promised part two of setting information to the Gulf of False Hope is finally here. It’s taken a while, but the Gulf has never been far from my mind when daydreaming about roleplaying ideas or for my next game. It is definitely high up on the list of games I want to run, but I ended up starting up the one on one Burning Wheel games instead because my current schedule required something fixed and consistent. I’ll get to it, but it might not be as soon as I would like. I’ll keep posting my ideas as soon as I have enough that are both A) typed up and B) I am okay with my future players reading. This post concerns the major settlements in the Gulf as well as the dominant religion among the Settlers.

The Settlements of the Gulf

In the decades since the people of Asila began returning to Pericolosa, each new batch of settlers tends to either stick to the relatively safe coastal settlements, or strike out on their own and found their own new village out in the wilds. Even the largest towns of the gulf can hardly compare to Asila’s sprawling major cities, but they have been growing at a rather impressive rate. This collection of towns was inspired by the “Prepare Thyself” section of Torchbearer.

Ashford’s Folly: The largest and oldest of the new wave of settlements in the Gulf (although there are some isolated hold outs from previous attempts that are older), and is the major port for trade with Asila. It was named for Timothy Ashford, captain of the ship that brought the first batch of settlers (who is rather old, but alive when the game starts), and intended as an ironic jab at the naysayers of the time. Ashford’s Folly is a hub of imports and exports, of both people, goods and information. Any requests from patrons (or potential patrons) in The Salvatian League or newly rediscovered information/rumors about the gulf from Salvatian achieves come through Ashford’s Folly first.

Citadel of the Saints: Nestled high on coastal cliffs, the Citadel is an ancient building that has been claimed by a more orthodox sect of The Way (see below) as a base for their Pericolosan ministry. A prolonged renovation effort is being undertaken on the Citadel itself, both to restore the damage of time has done to it, and to strip any remaining remnants of objects of worship that predate the way. As a result, around the Citadel has developed a small boomtown full of artisans, builders, craftsmen, and the various support services that they require. All of this falls under the jurisdiction of the clergy, which do their best to maintain strict order. The Citadel is always in demand for rare building materials from brave souls willing to go find them. In addition, while the church does not officially buy artifacts, those that can retrieve lost relics of the Saint-Heroes and “donate” them to the church are frequently rewarded with “Gifts of Gratitude” which conveniently is often cash.

New Callumsville: A Trading town located at the crossroads of the route between Ashford’s Folly, the Citadel, and Dalmand. New Callumsville is the largest Halfling majority town in the region, and the second largest settlement overall. The majority of the buildings are uncomfortably small for Humans and Elves, although a Dwarf can make do just fine. The area around New Callumsville is often troubled by bandits, who think the small stature of the residents, combined with the wealth that flows through it, makes it a tempting target.

The Elda Spires: Unquestionably the oldest still active settlement in the Gulf, the Elda Spires is a hidden village of elves. Protected through obscurity and glamours, the Spires have lasted through many disasters that have otherwise wiped out the previous inhabitants of the Gulf. The way to the Spires is only known by the elves, and even then, only among the elves who were born there. As such, much about this town is surrounded in mystery. It is likely that the residents of the spires would know a great many secrets about the surrounding area.

The Mine of Dalmand: The Mine of Dalmand is, by Dwarven standards, an outpost at best. By the standards of the Gulf, it is a fairly respectable town in its own right, and the largest concentration of Dwarves in the Gulf. Dug centuries ago by Dwarven miners, the Mine of Dalmand was an iron mine, a spin off of a lost Dwarven Hold much deeper inland. Recently, a new vein of ore has been discovered, and the Mine has become the Gulf’s primary source of iron and steel. Still, most of the Dwarves in Dalmand see it as only a staging area until they can rediscover and reclaim their lost hold. As such, brave explorers will be paid good coin for useful information about the location and state of said hold.

Tower of Vazadrax the Mad: Vazadrax’s Tower is a magical research facility that was set up in the Gulf shortly after the founding of Ashford’s Folly. Magical research is not exactly safe, and as such, Vazadrax’s patrons (which are rumored to be one or more of the dukes themselves) in the League preferred that he did it as far away as possible. Contrary to the image of the recluse wizard, Vazadrax’s work takes a number of apprentices, scholars, and laborers, and the Tower maintains a small attendant town for that purpose. Vazadrax and his apprentices are very interested in the dangerous specimens of the Gulf, and there is money to be made in delivering persevered bodies of such creatures, or even better, live specimens.

Outlying Villages: In addition to those listed above, there are several dozen smaller Salvatian settlements populated by brave souls willing to venture farther inland than most presently dare. These settlements range from log cabins of recluse hermits, to up and coming villages of around 200 people. Some of these villages were established this far out precisely because they wanted to be left alone, while others like nothing better than to see some of their fellow countrymen. Still, all these outlying settlements, even more than the major ones listed above, are at risk from the fell beasts and dangerous monsters of the gulf.

Monster Villages and Holdouts: Some of the more intelligent and social creatures of the Gulf form into communities not unlike the small villages the Salvati have formed. Depending of the temperament of the creatures (which can vary even among those of the same kind), they might be hostile, or they might be willing to attempt to communicate (although they are unlikely to speak Salvati, which would make such attempts difficult without specialized knowledge). If communication can be established, such groups may be willing to trade or providing lodging to traveling adventurers, however, such offers may also be a ruse with the intent to devour, replace, or otherwise take advantage of such travelers.
While their numbers are few and far between, there are also small surviving communities of previous attempts to settle the Gulf. They are slightly more likely to speak Salvati, but these people have spent many generations in a very dangerous environment, isolated from Asila. These holdout settlements have as more in common with the description of monster villages than they do with the newer Outlying Villages. If brave explorers can find trustworthy ones. both Monster and Holdout Villages might have plenty to teach about survival in the Gulf.

The Divine Way of the Saint-Heroes

The largest religion in Asila (and, therefore among the settlers of the Gulf) is the Divine Way of the Saint-Heroes. The Way practices a tradition of worshiping great holy men and heroes of ages past who they believe have ascended into Saints, either during their life or upon their death. They do not worship any gods, believing them to have long left the world, but through the history of The Way, many gods or other religions have been “reinterpreted” as Saint-Heroes in order to bring its practitioners into the fold.

The Way believes that the next world is a hierarchy, under the Saint-Heroes, with the rest being ordered by how closely they followed the Saint’s teachings in life. The orthodox teachings involve strict discipline, self-denial, and pursuit of perfection in your chosen profession or craft, in order to best emulate the suffering and the struggle the Saint-Heroes underwent in their lives. The actual lives of those that ascended to Sainthood are rather varied, and as such, there are a large number of heresies of The Way, that argue for a different (often more hedonistic) path. The orthodox and unorthodox sects are often in conflict, sometimes armed, and other times simply ideologically. The orthodox sects tend to be larger, and aligned with Law, while the Chaos aligned sects tend to be individually smaller, but are more numerous. The Saint-Heroes as a whole however, run the gambit of alignment, and there are plenty of local and itinerant preachers who preach The Way without regard for such things.


I think that’ll do it for now. I still want to make a calendar for this world, and I am work shopping dungeon seeds/ideas but those I’ll probably keep secret (at least until such a time that my players have cleared them out to such an extent that sharing them would no longer be a spoiler). I’ll post more when I got more that I think is post able!

Kento’s Story – Session 01

War, now memory
Shed blood shared turns to shared blood

Three swear brotherhood
How quickly children forget

A peace can not last
Brothers betray their brother

Son against uncle
Sworn cousin against cousin
Now, Nihon is Burning

The other half of of our pair of one on one Burning Wheel games is a game of the Blossoms are Falling. Neither of us has done Blossoms before, so it should be an interesting experience!

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Maxim’s Story – Session 01

So, on the 1st of the month, I met online with a new roleplaying buddy Blaine, to organize a pair of one on one Burning Wheel games. The plan is to meet weekly and switch off on GMing every week (So I control a PC one week, GM the next, and so on). The session 0 we had was pretty sweet and I had been working on writing it up, but in the interest of getting the actual AP written up, I’ll just summarize what we came up with for this game and get right to it.

We had decided pretty early on that we both wanted to play nobles who had gotten screwed over and were out for revenge. By virtue of the fact that it made for some better drama, and the fact it saved an RP during character burning it ended up being our PC’s uncle who was our enemy. It’s a parallel in both games, so when I go into the other game next week, expect to see it again.

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