Burning Castles

Game #14 - Acting with iron(y)!
Weddings, poison, action, costumes!

Downtime happens…

  • Lizzie travels back to Wen to find a master leather-worker to create masterwork bags.
  • Terra’s character gets into a business venture with a gnome from Fu Bei in an iron prospecting interest. In exchange for meetings with Hanxa courtiers, percentages of interest are discussed as well as marriage proposals. Some magic item creation time is spent as well.
  • Li Xian goes off to meditate and fish, bonds with a tiger and return a changed man.
  • Khan gets himself deeper into the black market trade, establishing a lucrative shadow silk deal.
  • Chiko goes off to practice his air bending.

When everyone returns, surprise: royal wedding! The princess of Shen will be marrying the King of Hanxa, and everyone’s a little… “umm, is that a good idea?” about it, although after the priesthood was removed from the courts there’s still the lingering feeling that the king can do no wrong. There are going to be three wedding ceremonies – a public one, a “important people” one, and a private ceremony for close family only. Some of our heroes attended the second, to find that one of the members of the Shen delegation is EEEEVIL! Just one, though. The princess isn’t evil.

Then there was the play, which was simply the best the playhouse has ever produced. During the final act, Terra’s character is poisoned by a needle strike from another actor! He escapes, only to be intercepted later and found to be a dupe. There’s confusion and an attack upon a royal handmaiden attending the performance by Khan. Heightened security seems to be something the playhouse needs.

Eventually they find the assassin holed up in a communal wayhouse along the piers. Everyone inside is dead (except one), and it turns out the assassin swallowed a wasp to kill himself. In his possession is a list of elves – their physical description – as targets for assassination.

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The Gnoll Campaign, part 2 - Game 13

In which our heroes are asked to go into the forests of Hanxa to discover what had become of those captured by the gnolls. There was a fort upon a hill where gnolls were “celebrating” their victory, all in reverence to the Great Mother and the Demon Father. A half hill giant (half-elf) woman was the leader of the group, treated with reverence as a divine vessel of the Great Mother.

A clever plan was enacted to get the captured elves out of the fort, and then burn the place to the ground showing no mercy. While it was discovered by a scout that the cave the giant was staying in also held the captured gnome, there in were also two giant infants. Unfortunately, they appeared to be demon progeny and were executed – after which a great melee ensued between the giant and the heroes. Subsequently, the giant cursed the paladin to return – in some form – to seek revenge. After which the heroes returned to the capital without the company of their inquisitor friend, who had wandered off on his own in shock.

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The Gnoll Campaign - Game 12
Story Arc 2
  • It is found that the mountain fortress was originally royal property and falls back to the king after the judge’s death. That paperwork … disappears. Ago Fan is the accountant that took care of all this.
  • Lizzie discovers several courtiers had vanished recently, and are wanted for questioning by the Judges. One went West with his wife in search for a cure for a deadly ailment, one went south to gain wisdom in his golden years and surrendered his home, and a third took his entire household – save one staff member – south west in some sort of crazy scheme.
  • Xie Qin – the head Judge – gives Li Xian authority as an inquisitor within Hanxa to track down demons.
  • The expeditionary force of 300 is routed, leaving 150 elven dead, 120 survivors returning, and 30 captured. Captain Bai Gao reports the terrible news.
  • The King’s military chief asks the group to serve as a scouting party to find out what happened to the captured. Artur, the Gnome diplomat, was among the captured.
  • A ranger is sent with the group to do tracking.

The party marches out to find the countryside pocked with the signs of combat. The villages on the frontier mention no Gnoll raids in the last few months, at least until the expedition force came through to fight the raiders. Investigation of Gnoll corpses reveal heavy disease.

Then, at night, the party is ambushed tracking the prisoners. They fight hard, and kill all but one Gnoll to get information. The Gnoll is clearly delirious and diseased, speaks of the Great Mother as his god and how her avatar has come to show the Gnolls to a new life. Dies by beheading.

Also found are giant-sized boot prints.

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Civil Unrest - part 2
  • Protest marches in Daishen, Lizzie is out protecting the protesters.
  • Three groups – the Traditionalists (those that still support the priesthood), the Loyalists (those who support the King), and the Scaled (those that seek the return of the Dragons). The power of the Traditionalists wane, but are protected by the courts, while the Loyalists grow in strength.
  • Visiting of the Judges of the Shining Sword – inquisitors. Bring in priests for questioning and interrogation. Generally politically neutral.
  • A number of the party are arrested for being at a Dragon Ascendant gathering. Held in suspicion, except Lin Kai, who is given special treatment.
  • Priesthood authority suspended, King takes power during ceremony.
  • Jailbreak is organized and carried out without problems.
  • Later, further jailbreak is committed, with the help of the Nezumi, to get the rest of the monks out of being hanged.

Oh, and the parrot turns out to be a polymorphed criminal.

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Civil Unrest, part 1 - Game 11

Downtime -

  • Lizzie spends time with the Nezumi, learning their cultural ways and helping them out in their new home.
  • Li Xian goes to explore his new mountain fortification, and cultivates a tea plantation in the surrounding area west of Daishen. The fort is named “House of Strong Vitality”.
  • Khan opens a tea shop in Daishen, selling the first harvest of tea from HSV. It’s not very good and doesn’t sell very well, but over time should improve. Keeping an ear on things happening on the black market, he also dabbles in a bit of smuggling.
  • Lin Kai gets into the good graces of the local magic schools, makes many scrolls to sell, and learns quite a few new spells from her friends.
  • The group learns that the local fisheries are being disturbed by a giant sea creature, which they go to visit the local druid circle about. There’s some talk about not being sure what to do about it, and to go find Kuan Ti in town to rejoin the circle. Kuan Ti is a 4-armed elf blessed with incredible magical powers who would like nothing more than leaving this kingdom and finding new adventure. Alas, her 4-armed status makes blending in outside of her hometown difficult.
  • General Zuji learns of the Pillar attack and goes to send an expeditionary force to suppress the Gnolls once and for all. This doesn’t go well later.
  • The word about the Celestial Council spreads, and the Dragon Ascendant cult makes a showing, gaining popularity. Many of their number are arrested for opposing the priesthood.
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Defending the Pillar - Game 10

To which there was much Gnoll death, and the defeat of the Gnoll heroine named Khashana. Of the original force, only one is left to survive and is left to retreat by boat. The heroes return, successful in their defense of the Pillar, and spend the next few months recovering.

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Settling Inn - Game 9

Now settled in Daishen, the heroes find some time to warn the local military leaders of an impending Gnoll attack – which the generals take under advisement. The party is granted a court residence in the heart of downtown for their troubles and future contributions to the courts, and so the party rests their travel-weary bones for a time.

Once rested, the group goes wanders to the south to scout upon the Gnolls’ eventual arrival only to find out that the war party continued East. Totally unexpected, they’re not going to attack the capital at all – they’re making a round-about path to the coast instead.

So following the Gnoll tracks, they do indeed find the war party had made its way down to the coast and raided a local fishing town for their boats. It becomes clear, the Gnolls are making their way to the first Pillar of Heaven. That can’t be good!

Seeing one last boat left, our heroes bravely jump aboard and sail off to intercept the evil furry people.

On their way, they encounter a friendly silver dragon who teleports them to their destination ahead of the Gnolls. At the Pillar itself, the party finds their way into the obelisk-like structure, encounter the First Devil – whom they converse with for some time – then scrounge for tools and materials to defend the island with, in this case wood to make a catapult.

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Wen in Rome - Game 8
Go north, life is peaceful there!

<<another>>

Large groups of refugees have trekked far from Daoli into Wen, finding temporary shelter within the forests. Meanwhile, our heroes press further north, not wanting to stop. The demon from last session revealed that the destruction of the First Pillar of Heaven was on its way – or may have already been completed – by demonic forces, and so the PCs press on into Hanxa with the ultimate goal of discovering what has happened to the First Pillar.

Winter has other plans; the pass into the valley of Aijin is snowed in for the winter, and so the party must stay a few months within Maju waiting out the season. During that time, the group rests, learns a bit about the first pillar from some old books, and even discovers a magical trinket that summons a talking animal.

Up in the mountain passes, its also discovered that several groups of bugbears have made their way through the snow drifts south of the valley. A small nezumi family also comes to visit, feeling the pull of the new gods; she resupplies, gives her thanks, and moves on.

Once the snow starts to melt, the party crosses the mountains and descends the pass into the valley to the capital of Hanxa. There they are greeted in the peony court by an official, with whom they discuss the tragic events and the invading bugbears.

Now settled in the city of Zushoji, the group has found a home to stay in, a nezumi fighter who has sworn his service to Li-zhi, and a great old mother dying.

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New Gods - Game 7
The fall of the Nezumi god changes a few things

<<this>>

Our heroes stormed the caves at the mining camp, slew many warriors and summoners, rescued a demon of corruption and deceit, but before they could do much else a gigantic meteor slammed into the earth utterly destroying the Daoli kingdom.

That destruction heralded the death of the Nezumi god, whose powers then transferred to our heroes. Deciding it was better to get on with things than to lie in a burned out lake bed, they struck north into Wen.

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Brave Warriors, part 2
Now the shit gets real

(no downtime)

After interrogating their worker prisoners, they learn a bit more about the encampment: that it’s been here for a long time, that they’re mining for precious metals, but that there’s also some sort of plan to eliminate all the nezumi in this place for good. With the help of demon creatures and burning incense (which the nezumi choke on), the overseers of this mining operation are finding great success.

The heroes decide: this has got to stop! They plan and plan, and come up with something straight forward: Khang and Li Xian will infiltrate the camp, find the leaders, and signal an attack! Once they’ve killed the high priest, who seems to be running the whole show, they bolt and see what happens.

The plan is put into action, but in so doing it’s revealed that the high priest has a lot of otherworldly help in the form of some gnome raksasha and some sort of demon summoner. It’s a tough fight, with lots of biting and burning, but eventually they manage to get the job done and get the heck outta there!

Returning to their hidden camp, they encounter the nezumi in a prayer circle just finishing a paean to their gods. “Quickly”, the nezumi shaman says, “we must go into the caves!” – just as the thunderous hoofbeats of a Heavenly Messenger approaches the camp. The messenger makes a bee-line to Qinilan, and announces that the Heavenly Council has returned from their journey – only one of them survived, and is in grave health. It is not expected he will recover any time soon, and thus the priesthood has taken over leadership indefinitely. He has been sent to spread the news to the Kingdoms. Qinlin and the others give the messenger their report of demonic infestation in these hills, which the messenger swears to pass along to the temple. Then, after some discussion, the group head back into the hills following the shaman eagerly waving them on.

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