Tuesday, 30 October 2012

TBZ: The Oni of Yamaguchi, Act 0 & 1

I ran our first session of Tenra Bansho Zero tonight! It went pretty well, with the players enjoying the system and exploring their characters as we slowly got to grips with the game. A brief rundown of the session follows.

  • Barb plays Daigo, an Oni Mercenary Assassin.
  • Rohin plays Kobe Takeshi, a Half-Oni Playboy Swordsman Aristocrat.


The small rural province of Yamaguchi is bordered on three sides by mountains, with the sea to the south. It is ruled by Lord Kobe Masamori, whom it is said has a soft spot for the oni people. However, many of the common folk feel uneasy at tales of an oni village hidden somewhere in the mountains.

Zero Act

It is Spring, and the cherry-blossoms fall over the castle at Yamashiro. Kobe Takeshi, the hornless half-oni, womanising swordsman, and younger bastard son of Lord Kobe, is called before his father. With regret, the lord advises his son to leave Yamashiro castle, as he fears times are about to become dangerous for Takeshi. Granted a substantial sum, Takeshi returns to his room to pack. He has a brief run-in with his half-brother Seijurou, and Seijurou's new acquaintance - a mysterious onmyoji with cold eyes, with whom Takeshi feels an odd sense of deja-vu. He leaves the castle that has been his home for the past sixteen years, his heart empty with longing for somewhere to belong.

Later, in the port town of Kawaguchi, the oni mercenary and assassin Daigo calls on his underworld contact Blind Bunshichi, having heard of a job on offer. Bunshichi (not actually blind, but with a reputation for forgetting faces and for turning a blind eye) passes on an important contract - the life of Lord Kobe Masamori, worth 40 gold ryo. Daigo accepts, and leaves with half the money up front, breathing a sigh of relief to be out of Bunshichi's dingy shop - the man has a way of making one feel uneasy...

Act One

Early Summer. Beside the main road running through Yamaguchi sits a large tea-house; almost an inn, it boasts an upper storey, and a large common room. It is run by an obasan and staffed by several young ladies, two of whom are drinking plum wine with the young well-dressed swordsman. At a nearby table, a small group of footsoldiers drink and talk loudly. A shadow darkens the door as a traveller enters - a large man in the clothing of a warrior, but with a subtly decorated oni cape. The soldiers fall quiet and mutter to themselves, while the young swordsman nods to the newcomer. The oni orders food and drink, but as he begins to eat his pickled vegetables the soldiers stand and circle behind him. The oni offers them a pickled radish, but their leader ignores him and loudly says, "I've heard Lord Kobe is soft on oni, but for one to just walk in here!" They continue to heap scorn on the traveller, incidentally badmouthing the lord for his lenience on the oni, until the young swordsman speaks up.

Claiming to be the son of Lord Kobe, he asks the soldiers to leave the oni be. Taken aback, the leader demands proof, and is reasonably convinced by the house mon stamped on the swordsman's soulgem shortsword. Nevertheless, he's gone a bit too far, and claims he doesn't fully believe the boy. As his family has been insulted at least twice by this time, Takeshi challenges the captain to a duel. Unable to back down, the soldier agrees and they take the fight outside. It only takes a couple of exchanges until the captain is defeated, falling to his knees in surrender. Takeshi goes back inside to talk with the oni, and the remaining soldiers help their captain limp away.

"Are you really the son of Lord Kobe?" asks Daigo. "What do you think of this plot to assassinate him?" Daigo claims that the story is all over the countryside, but Takeshi of course hadn't heard of it and is shocked by the news. Daigo claims he was offered the contract, but refused because Lord Kobe is kind to the oni people. Instead, he decided to travel until he could find someone who would pay him to assassinate the person responsible for the contract, thus stopping any other potential assassins from being paid for the job. Daigo's hoping Takeshi or his father might be willing to pay for this. Takeshi suspects his half-brother Seijurou, or the mysterious onmyoji. As Takeshi's money-box has been sadly depleted by a couple of months of partying on the road, the two decide to pair up and head towards the capital, Yamashiro.

Coming Up

Danger on the road?
Confrontations at the Capital?
The True Enemy Revealed?

>>> Act 2

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