The Leaky Bucket Crew – Episode 2

Last Night we got together to play Kaigan for the first time in a while, but once we all refreshed ourselves as to what was happening it was pretty easy getting back into things.  Session spent a lot of time in planning stages, but lots of it was in character so I was mostly fine with that.

We open after the Bar closes on the 3rd of the month, late at night early in the morning.  A name comes up on the date the till doesn’t quite match the receipts/inventory.   Fred Richards, unfortunately for them, Fred isn’t scheduled to work for the next few days, so they decide to pay a visit to him then and there.  They head into a rather sketchy part of town and find his 2nd floor walk-up apartment where he lives with his wife and daughter.  Okoi is hoping to avoid scaring the woman and the kid (and asks to change his instinct to something to that effect on the spot), but they still send Axe around back in case he tries jumping out the window.

Okoi and Upton knock loudly, and after a moment, the groggy man in question peers out the chained door to see who it is.  And the guy is wise enough to put two and two together as to why his bosses are here at this time of night.  He actually goes with them without much resistance, mainly to keep them from messing with his family, and the three of them meet up with Axe and then take a walk.

He grovels and such, which doesn’t reach many of our hardhearted protagonists, but they eventually get enough of the story.  Some guy from the Rising Dragons has been coming around, saying that Richard’s dad owed him money, and now that his father has passed away its on him to pay it back, and it seems he is threatening his family to encourage payment.  Richard identifies the guy as Kyoto, and has a Mahjong parlor in Dragon’s turf where he is supposed to meet him on the 7th.  They kinda wonder what to do with them, and then Axe tells Richard that he is going to help them get their money back, and help them out with other stuff to to make up for what they can’t get, and neither Okoi or Upton have got a better idea, so they go with that.

The next day, Koga’s letter is finally delivered, in retrospect I should have delivered it before the game so they could have written beliefs more closely related to it, but I think things still went fairly well.  They spent a LONG time thinking about how to respond, before deciding they wanted to burn the warehouse in question to the ground, with his men along with it.  They spend a day to scout it out and find out that the warehouse is a functional warehouse dealing in foodstuffs and trade goods, and it also seems to be under the Eye’s protection.  If it is owned by a member of the Eye, or the owner just pays decent protection money is rather unclear, but it bears their emblem on it as a “don’t mess with us” sign.  Either way this is enough to make them rethink their plan.

They begin to second guess if continuing to escalate is a good idea, especially because they worry Koga could retaliate by burning down their bar, and the letter makes it clear that they are looking for an excuse to go to war, so their plan is to figure out where Koga is and just take him out, simple, right?

None of them have a good idea how to go about this, and no one is willing to make an unskilled wise roll to try and see if they know, so they instead look to circle up and information broker from Uppton’s foreign contacts in the city.  Fail, Enmity Clause time!

They find a man known as Mr. R in the back room of an opium den, smoking on a Hooka pipe, not (currently) indulging in the primary drug of the location.  They tell him what they want to know, and he informs them he knows that Koga is known to frequent a certain brothel, and visit a certain girl.  He could tell them which brothel and which girl and even when he should next head over if he keeps his schedule, but what do they have to offer in return?

They briefly consider trying to trade information about how Tsuyoshi is going to be storing some stuff at their place, but decide it’s not worth the risks of pissing Tsuyoshi off or having someone come to THEIR place to get it.  In the end, Uppton tries offering the drugs they took off of Koga’s men as payment.  Mr. R considers it, and agrees, noting he has a few contacts who would buy it off him.

The place is called Sakura’s, he gives them the girl’s name and room she is most commonly in.  They should next expect him on the 6th, same nigh as the meeting in the warehouse.  Axe still wants to go to the warehouse, he’s the one person who has a belief still tied up in that letter, so they make a plan to visit the warehouse first, deal with the guys there, and then go to the brothel and deal with Koga.

We called it there, next time we’ll pick up with them dealing with the warehouse, and assuming they make it out of this night alive, they still have to deal with Richard’s loanshark, and Tsuyoshi’s job is still looming in the background.

Only 24 more days until the rent is due.


Current PaDC score: 20/31 (Another one a bit late that I had to backdate, but it’s still 10/20 somewhere, and I haven’t gone to bed yet so I am gonna count it)

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Kaigan – The Leaky Bucket Crew – Koga Nobu’s letter

I spend some time after the Leaky Bucket Crew’s last session thinking about how their rival would respond to their actions against them.  In the end, I decided on sending them the following letter, likely to arrive the next time we play.


The letter is written in a very traditional calligraphy, each stroke intentional and deliberate, and lacking in the informal shortcuts of modern shorthand.  The scroll and the ink both seem to be from an expensive calligraphy set.

To the honorable Okoi Osoku and the honorable Upton O. Goode,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this message to you.  On the evening of the first of this month, a group of my men were beset by ruffians.  Shou, was a skilled salesman, husband, and father of three children, while Hiro was all his little sister had left in the world, it is with deep regret that I had to inform their families that these two caring men would not be returning home.  I consider it a small miracle that young Katsu was fortunate enough to be spared.

As I have heard that your men have encountered similar troubles, I strongly suspect that this may be part of the same group that has been attacking your and your these past few months.  While my men and I are more than prepared to deal with any further such incidents in the future, I regret to inform you that I can not spare any additional manpower in protecting you and yours.

Unfortunately, delivering this news is not the only reason I write to you today.  Once he had calmed down, young Katsu delivered a message from the cruel thugs who carried out this attack.  One of the men claimed the identity of “Axe”, a pseudonym adopted by one of your enforcers.  While I would like to believe that none of your people would ever be involved in an attack on your comrades working for the family, the description young Katsu gave is too accurate to dismiss as a coincidence.

I would ask you to send Axe to the Warehouse in Kyuushu ward, on the sixth.  I have good men who will get the truth of the matter from him, in a manner not biased by fondness or feelings of betrayal the two of you may harbor.  Once we have determined his innocence, we will return him to you with no lasting damage.  In the event we discover he has been conducting activities of this sort behind your back, we will gain all information we can about the source of violence on the docks as of late, and he will suffer a fitting punishment for his betrayal of both you, and the organization we serve.

As fond as I sure you are of the man, I believe that if you are truly interested in solving the violence besetting both sides, and loyal to the family, you will cooperate in this matter.  If not, I can only conclude you are either sanctioning his actions, or protecting a traitor to the clan.   Neither of which, I, or our higher ups, could abide.

I hope this leads to a renewed spirit of cooperation and friendship between our two organizations.

Faithfully yours,
Koga Nobu

The signature is followed by his stamp and seal.


Current PaDC score: 5/31

Previously, on Kaigan (Leaky Bucket Crew Episode 1)

In the time since I last posted about them, both Kaigan and Plague Island reached what basically amounted to the end of Season/Book 1.  We’re taking a break from Plague Island to do some Torchbearer in it’s every other weekly slot, but in Kaigan we moved right on to season 2 with a new cast of characters, just having session 1 a while back, and having session 2 scheduled for this Friday.

The new cast is somewhat removed from the old situation, but they’re still in the same city, so there will still be some ripples.  As far as our new cast is concerned, the big picture that resulted from the events of Season 1 is that Yamoto Kaito’s Assassin was never caught, although there is evidence that it was someone inside the clan who did it, many inside the clan blame the foreigners.  His son and rightful heir, Kenji, was also the target of an assassination attempt on the same day and went into hiding for his own safety, in doing so, he missed the news of his father’s death and his funeral as well.  Kenji has his own ideas about building relationships with the foreign organizations, but his inexperience and party boy lifestyle lead some to question his fitness for his father’s position.  As a result, the Jade Orchids are divided and in chaos, leaving them rather ineffective in their role as the city’s mediators.  And the Rising Dragons and the Eye remain at the verge of going to war.

Our new group consists of the two owners of a bar in the coveted Dock district, Okoi Osoku, Kaigan native, and Upton O. Goode, a foreigner, as well as their main muscle Kenshin “Axe” Ito.  The Leaky Bucket is a bar primarily frequented by foreigners and foreign blooded Kaiganese.  It does alright, but Okai and Upton supplement their income by using their basement as “discreet storage” for those bringing things into or out of the city that they would prefer to be kept quiet.  Finally, they as manage several dealers and turf for narcotics for the Eye, under supervision of a right bastard Tsuyoshi Shinjo.  It is this last business that is giving them the most grief at the moment.

Tsuyoshi has a rather “hands off” management style, so long as he gets his cut, factor this in with the fact that a clan war may be pending, and the chaos going on with the city’s mediators, and certain ambitious underlings of his see this as an opportunity to take a piece of their rival’s pies.

Enter, Koga Nobu.  Koga’s dealers occupy turf adjacent to the Leaky Bucket Crew, and he certainly has the desire to expand.  Lately, street toughs and thugs have been harassing and assaulting our protagonists dealers turf, and while there is no EXPLICIT connection between them and Koga, Koga’s dealers move right in and somehow have no problems with them.

Before the first session, I had the entire party roll resources against their lifestyle obstacles to get a feel for their financial situation.  This is normally not a great idea because starting PCs generally need a chance to get some cash to meet their lifestyle.  But, in this case, leaving them broke was the point, and everyone involved knew it.  Needless to say they all failed.  So they started off with guys moving in on their turf, not quite having enough profits to give Tsuyoshi his cut, someone was stealing from the til at the bar, and Axe was going to be on the streets if he didn’t make rent next month.

We started with Tsuyoshi coming for his money.  He wasn’t exactly happy with them coming up short, but they managed to convince him that they would get him back, with interest, next time.  That wasn’t QUITE enough for him, so he demanded that they do him a favor as well, he wanted to use their storage room for an unspecified item coming in soon.  They pushed their luck a bit and tried to get some PAID extra work out of him, but he said it sounded like they had a lot on their plate, and said he’d think about it if they did well on getting him his money next month and looking after his item.

They decided to send Koga a message and went and robbed and killed some of his dealers in the middle of the night.  They left the younger one alive to deliver the message, and Axe gave his name (because he wanted to develop a reputation), much to the other’s annoyance (as they were hoping to avoid being PERSONALLY implicated, while still sending a message of some kind).  That taken care of, they decided to wait to see Koga’s next play, and spend the next few days reviewing their books and staff records to try and see when money was going missing from the til.

This being before computers and only a partially literate party, it took them a few days to review, but they managed to succeed and narrow it down to a few names.  As one of my players put it “In what other game do you get excited over an Accounting roll?”.  I hadn’t fully fleshed out the list of suspects yet, so we called it there.  This Friday I hope to deal with that, as well as Koga’s response and Tsuyoshi’s job, but we’ll see where the PC’s beliefs take us!

Current PaDC score: 1/31

Kaigan – Session 2 – Murder in the Basement

Last Friday, we got together for Kaigan again.  Had to make it work with the convention, but I think we got a fairly good session overall.

We start with Yamoto’s mother charging Ichihara and Rin with finding who killed her son.  Both of them agree and head their separate ways to commence their own investigations.

Rin decides he needs to interrogate Takeshi about the killing, and brings him up with him to ring the bell to signal the time of mourning, questions him slightly, but then prays to his god for aide in subduing him.  I kind of waffle on this roll for a while, because I wasn’t even really feeling that a roll to subdue this guy would be needed, but getting the blessing from the god WAS important.  I think in retrospect I should have been up front in what I was thinking and suggested a “Guidance” roll (or no roll) instead.

Ichihara goes to the meeting room and finds the elders, including his estranged father, trying to calm things down but the Eye and the Rising Dragons are still fighting.  He has JUST enough rank where he  can get away with speaking up during this meeting, but probably shouldn’t.  He FoRKs in a bunch of stuff and manages to convince the two sides to not start anything during the period of mourning.  It worked well enough that his dad can’t really say anything negative about it, although he does think Ichihara saying ANYTHING is out of line.

Takezo, meanwhile tries to get some of the Rising Dragon’s lower level grunts drunk and talking.  They don’t know anything about the murder of about the burning of The Eye’s ships that the Dragons are supposedly involved in.  But they do give him the name of a group of foreigners that they work with.

Ichihara and Takezo meet up, and Ichihara asks Takezo to go check in with Rin, while Ichihara tries to see if anyone can translate those markings on the wall and blade.  I ask for a circles test, with some heavy “Here and now” penalties unless he is willing to break the period of Mourning that has just begun.  He decides not to go for it as a result.

Takezo and Rin meet up and manage to secretly agree that they are going to take Takeshi to a secret place in the manor and interrogate them there.  I ask for a beginner’s luck wise test to know such a place, which they end up failing.  There’s an old wine cellar just off the main one, Rin never sees anyone go in there!  The two of them convince Takeshi that they need to go down there and get some wine for the meeting.

Ichihara decides he wants to talk to the Rising Dragons as well, and meets with one of their leader’s aides.  He again wants a translator, but since this was a meeting between two Kaigan native families there was no need for the Dragons to bring one.  He talks with him for a while longer and eventually becomes convinced that this guy doesn’t know anything about the Dragons being involved in burning the eye’s ships, although, given how fractured the Rising Dragons are, it is possible one of the sub clans were acting alone.

Takezo and Rin take Takeshi down to the wine cellar and get the jump on him.  They block the door and bind Takeshi and start trying to threaten him, when they hear the sound of someone trying to open the blocked door.  Rin hides with Takeshi, while Takezo sees who it is.  It turns out people rarely go down here because this is where the higher ups private reserves are kept, and typically only used for special occasions, like when they need to appease some visiting crime bosses.

The maid they sent down to get some of this good wine is curious what Takezo is doing down here, worried that he is stealing wine and she’ll be blamed for it.  Takezo gives her some lies, which he fails to convince her of, and then tries to threaten her, which scares her enough to try and flee!  He grabs her to stop her from fleeing and then manages to decapitate her!

The two of them then take Takeshi and try to interrogate him for real.  Fail.  He tells them everything he knows, and then, when that’s not good enough, he starts making stuff up!  Eventually they decide to believe his story about it being one of Ichihara’s father’s men who did the deed.  Satisfied, they decide to kill Takeshi and try to make it look like a murder-suicide.  How effective this will be with the Maid’s head cut off is debatable.

Takezo makes Rin commit the killing blow to Takezo, saying “we’re in this together” and Rin stabs him a few times with the same blade, and then uses the Maid’s dead hands to choke Takeshi as he bleeds out.

We ended there and handed out a reasonable amount of artha, next week will likely mostly be about the fallout of what happened in that wine-cellar.!

Kaigan – Session 1 – The Murder of Yamoto Kaito

Been doing around monthly games of the Gulf of False Hope, would maybe like to do more but it has mostly been falling on me to organize it and provide space for the game.  I’m okay with doing that for the most part, but the end result is that we play less then we in theory could be if we actually fell into the true West Marches style, but I think that might be a blog post for another time.

But basically, that’s been the only gaming I have been doing for a while, and while I am still doing that (hope to have another session on Saturday), I’ve got my Burning Wheel itch going again, and so I ended up joining a group based on an advertisement in the Burning Wheel G+ Group (and also was cross posted to the subreddit).

Much like Kento and Maxim’s stories, this group decided to do some alternating week campaigns, although this being a small group rather than two one on one games, a few folks are only playing (at least for now).

I am running one of the two games, and we just had our first session a week ago.  The situation for this one revolves around the “Free Trade City of Kaigan”, a city which is effectively ruled by various cartels and draws on stocks from all over the world, effectively a lite version of MonBu City.

I’d been playing a lot of Yakuza when I came up with the pitch, so Kaigan ended up having a lot of eastern trappings and traditionalism ended up playing a bit role in the burning. The players are all part of one of these clans, known as the Jade Orchids.  The Orchids are not one of the largest clans in Kaigan, but have traditionally been mediators and peacemakers between the various factions at play within the city.  We decided that the Jade Orchid’s legitimacy in this role was drawn on a combination of tradition, they have been around Kaigan and in this role for a long time, and backing of some of the established religious authority in the city, being seen as agents of Shizukana Hoshi (The Tranquil Star).

In recent times, however, improvements in sailing technology has brought many more foreign traders to Kaigan.  Traders that are both not well versed in Kaigans traditions, and those that follow foreign gods.  In fact, we decided that miracles of faith do not even affect these foreigners, although I think the gods of the established pantheon can affect followers of other gods within the same pantheon (So a Faithful of Athena could affect a follower of Poseidon, but not a follower of Odin or Anubis).  These foreigners often don’t see the need to go through the Orchids to cut deals, which has been undercutting the legitimacy of the group as they have yet to be able to put a stop to it.

Our principle cast consists of:

  • Rin: a Faithful of Shizukana Hoshi, while publicly one of the in-house preachers, Rin secretly serves the clandestine equivalent of Internal Affairs for the Jade Orchids, run by the elderly mother of the current clan head.
  • Takezo: A mid-level enforcer, and bodyguard for the Orchids, Takezo is a true believer in the clan, but more so the traditions and values, rather than the religious aspect, he’s the only PC without the actual Faith trait (There was going to be a
  • Ichihara: A son of a branch family from the line of the Clan leaders, Ichihara found his calling as a Faithful follower or another deity in the pantheon, Arashi no Seigi (The Storm of Justice), which gives us the opportunity to also include the spheres rules from the codex.  Ichihara is a bit at odds with his parents for not following Shizukana Hoshi, but still is fairly respected overall due to his family standing.

We had agreed in burning that the big event that kicks off the game would be the murder of the clan head during a mediation between two of the major clans of Kaigan, and that seemed like the best place to begin.

I go over what the background for the scene, The Eye, one of the major clans in Kaigan, who does a lot of business in trade/smuggling of questionable goods, has had several of their ships burned, and they blame the Rising Dragons, a collection of many smaller clans that have banded together to compete with the larger ones for influence and territory.

The two representatives from the clans agreed to meet, and for such a large matter, the head of the Jade Orchids, Yamoto Kaito, meditates personally.  Some progress has been made, but an impasse had been reached, so Yamoto called for a break and the various leaders retired to separate rooms.

We start play with the three PCs in a room, having been minor parts of the meeting in their own various ways.  Suddenly, Takeshi, one of Yamoto’s personal bodyguards, comes in looking seriously freaked out, demanding help.  They go with him to Yamoto’s private meditation room, where he often spends breaks during tense negotiations like this one.

They find him on the floor with a knife in his back, dead.  A symbol is drawn in blood on the wall, but none of them recognize it.  Shinji, Yamoto’s other bodyguard is protecting the body.

Rin tries to invoke Shizukana Hoshi and revive her boss, but refuses a help die from Ichihara because she thinks her god is all that is needed.  I’m fully prepared to let this miracle take place, but even if he is freshly dead, he’s still dead, and that is nothing short of a major miracle in my books.  10 successes on starting Faith is just too much to ask, and Rin is subjected to an awful revelation (the person who did the deed was a follower of Shizukana Hoshi as well) and passes out from shock as a result.

Ichihara and Takezo spend some time failing rolls and not getting much in the way of clues, but they do get the story from Shinji and Takeshi.  Yamoto regularly retires to this room alone to meditate.  Shinji and Takeshi guard the door from the outside.  There does not seem to be any way in or out of this room besides the door.  They both were outside the door the whole time, and they agree no one went in after Yamoto, until one of the maids, Shinobu, brought Yamoto his regular tea, when the three of them found the body.

They look around the room for hiding places, and while they do find a few potential places where the killer COULD have hidden, no one seems to be there now.  They then try to figure out what they are going to do about the meeting with the clan leaders, and Takeshi runs off to go inform the elders.

Rin wakes up and decides that they should wait on that, and chases after Takeshi, and interrogates him a bit at the same time.  He kind of breaks down from the stress but sticks to his story.  Next Rin tries to get the story from Shinobu, who is very traumatized and the dice aren’t really helping either.  She refuses to go see the body again or talk about what she saw, and Rin doesn’t really feel like forcing her.  Meanwhile, Ichihara and Takezo try to identify the dagger, but can’t make heads or tails of the strange symbols on it either.

They decide to break the news to Yamoto’s mother, who is also Rin’s boss as the spymaster.  Rin and Ichihara go, while Takezo is left with the two bodyguards.

Unfortunately, about now the meeting is scheduled to resume, and Takezo has NO idea what to do about that.  He ends up sending Takeshi to go get some of the elders after all and tries to stall for time.

Yamoto’s mother is distraught by the news of her son’s death, but tries to keep it together and help them figure out, still they are not sure if they quite have enough to go on.  Still, Rin suggests an old tradition (using doctrine, I think?), of having everyone in the house stay within for a period of mourning after someone respected like Yamoto dies, which would include the representatives from the other clans!  The role is passed, so by invoking that tradition, the Rising Dragons and the Eye can’t really complain TOO much, and that should give them more time to investigate.

Unfortunately, Takeshi is the one trying to keep the peace between them, and he REALLY is just muscle for the clan and not actually suited to this sort of thing.  He tries to wise up a topic of conversation that will stall and keep things cordial, but it blows up in his face and the two men end up arguably more pissed at each other than they were before the whole thing started.

We called it there and in two weeks (we are skipping out on playing tonight and next week we play the game I am just a player in) we’ll give the PCs a chance to use this tradition to investigate the murder.

Not much artha was given out, but I am beginning to find this normal for the first few sessions of a game unless it is a very tightly focused one shot.  Still, hopefully we’ll have a better feel for the characters and be able to dive deeper next time!