Monday, 26 November 2012

TBZ: The Oni of Yamaguchi, Act 4

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

Death of a Lord

The evening after the communal dinner, Takeshi and Daigo were alone in Takeshi's private apartments. They heard a hue and cry from the castle proper; an alarm was raised, along with a ruckus. Shortly, the apartment door was flung open by Takeshi's brother Seijurou, accompanied by Hyouma the Seeker and a cohort of soldiers. Seijurou informed them that Lord Kobe had been assassinated, and he was arresting them both - Daigo for performing the assassination, and Takeshi for conspiracy. The two went along quietly, and were soon secured in the cells beneath the keep.

Around morning, they were visited by a Buddhist monk to see to their last rites, as their execution was planned for noon. Winter Sutra informed them that he had been observing Seijurou and Hyouma, and it was apparent that they had been expecting Lord Kobe's death; other priests were watching them still. He bade them not to worry too much; by noon, he expected to have more evidence.

Under the bright noonday sun, the two were led from the cells to the open space in front of the castle gates. With bound hands, Daigo was pushed to his knees to await beheading by daikatana. Takeshi was presented with a small lacquer table with the accoutrements of ritual suicide; his brother Seijurou stood by as his second to behead him when the time came. But first, the charges were made public. Daigo was to be executed first, but as the executioner raised the blade, a voice from within the castle called for a halt!

Lord Kobe stepped into view, accompanied by Winter Sutra and a small group of guards! He accused Seijurou of having plotted with Hyouma to assassinate him; the faked assassination had caused the conspirators to reveal themselves. Winter Sutra tossed a bag of gold to the ground - the intercepted payment meant for the assassin, evidence of the pair's involvement.

Seijurou stood frozen, realising that this meant the end for him. Rather than surrendering meekly, he began to draw his sword. Takeshi used the seppuku shortsword to sever Daigo's bonds, and Winter Sutra tossed their weapons to them just in time for Takeshi to parry his brother's blade! Daigo fired on Hyouma, winging him as general chaos broke out. Daigo moved in to engage Seijurou in melee, allowing Takeshi to break off and pursue the hated Hyouma. The onmyoji conjured a combat shikigami in the shape of an oni warrior, but Takeshi's blade shredded it into evaporating strips of paper.

Meanwhile, Daigo unleashed his full fury, cutting down Seijurou in a flurry of blinding blows. Takeshi pursued Hyouma, pushing him against the castle wall and forcing him to drop and surrender. Takeshi dearly wanted to end the life of the evil sorcerer, but in the end his vow to not kill won over. Daigo had rallied the soldiers to open fire on White Cloud, Hyouma's permanent shikigami which was flying in, but to no avail. Once Hyouma surrendered, they forced him to call off White Cloud under threat of immediate execution.


The day was won; Seijurou lay dead, and Hyouma was taken into custody, with execution likely in his near future. With the true conspirators revealed, their attempt to stir up the people agains the oni died with them. If anything, tales of Daigo's cunning and loyalty will do much for the acceptance of oni in Yamaguchi.

Daigo decided to serve the Kobe household, and become an ambassador between the humans and the oni. Having regained his home and found a worthy companion,

Takeshi decided it was time to shape up and work towards becoming a good lord, for when he eventually inherits the province.

We had a bit of difficulty at the start of the final session. I tried to get a sense of how the players wanted to approach things, but they had some problems figuring out the right plan; Takeshi wanted to just charge in and start hacking, but his player wanted him to be talked out of that approach I think, and they had some difficulty figuring out how they could ensure finding actual proof of the conspiracy. I could have taken the reins on this one, but I didn't want to seem like I was railroading or pushing my own ideas on the players too much.

Once they sorted out the plan, though, it went very smoothly, just as recorded in the session log. With Winter Sutra's help, they set it up so Lord Kobe would appear to be assassinated, but he actually went into hiding. Thinking their plan had worked, the conspirators moved quickly to secure their hold on power, take the "assassin" into custody, and send off the final payment... Actually, thinking back now, arresting the assassin and sending the payment doesn't make a lot of sense, but there ya go! ^_^; Maybe they were paying off the fixer, so they didn't get a reputation in the underworld of stiffing those they did business with. Or something. Or they weren't sure that Daigo was the actual assassin, so they arrested him as a scapegoat and sent the payment to cover their bases.

Anyway, it worked, and the final conflict was pretty good too. I could probably have upped the bad guys' stats a little given the amount of Kiai they were facing, but I didn't want to overpower the PCs. Having gone through it once, I now have a better idea for next time!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

TBZ: The Oni of Yamaguchi, Act 3

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

In the mountains in Summer, snow sits only on the highest peaks, and wildflowers bloom in the pass. On the narrow trail that leads to Yamashiro, the mountain castle and capital of Yamaguchi, there is a particular bend in the road that affords a spectacular view of the city. On this bend is a small traveller's rest; not much more than a small hut, although the vendor serves noodles and tea to travellers. Two such travellers approach and take a seat on the long bench; a finely dressed swordsman, and a rougher-looking oni. The vendor brings them food and drink, and then discretely withdraws. Over their bowls of noodles, Takeshi and Daigo consider their options. Takeshi plans to simply walk into the castle and confront the mysterious onmyoji, as he's certain the sorcerer is behind all of this. Daigo manages to persuade him that caution may be a better approach, possibly by making enquiries with someone Takeshi knows in the town. Takeshi recalls a monk, Winter Sutra, who often acts as an advisor to his father the lord. The two decide to split up to avoid drawing attention - Takeshi waits in the pine forest outside the city, while Daigo looks for Winter Sutra.

Asking at the local temple, Daigo discovers that Winter Sutra is at the castle. At the castle gate, Daigo's knowledge of the monk's name (and the general leniency towards oni) mean that he is able to persuade one of the gate guards to seek out the monk with a request for a meeting. The guard soon returns with Winter Sutra, and Daigo takes him aside, explaining the assassination plot and of Takeshi's return to the mountain city. Daigo also asks for Winter Sutra's opinion of the onmyoji, but Winter Sutra opts to meet with Takeshi in the forest before sharing too much information.

Daigo and Winter Sutra return to Takeshi's secluded forest hideaway, where Winter Sutra fills them in on the onmyoji, Hyouma the Seeker, who is apparently consumed with a hunger for knowledge. He is also rumoured to have a permanent shikigami named White Cloud, which Winter Sutra may once have seen flying across the sky deep in the mountains. Takeshi's brother Seijurou is acting as Hyouma's patron, having invited him to court. They decide to ask Winter Sutra to return to the castle and inform Lord Kobe of the assassination plot. He does so, returning the next morning to inform them that the Lord has increased his security, but it has done nothing to reveal the true villain. Takeshi and Daigo decide to go to the castle in an attempt to provoke a response or otherwise discern the true nature of the situation.

At the castle, the group attends a private audience with Lord Kobe. He welcomes his son home, but wishes it were under happier circumstances. Takeshi introduces Daigo as the person who informed him of the assassination plot. Daigo surprises everyone in the room by announcing that he had not only been offered the job, but accepted it - as a ploy to prevent an alternative assassin being hired. He presented the unspent 20 ryo deposit as proof of this, impressing the Lord with his cunning and loyalty. Takeshi, declaring Daigo to be even more devious than himself, immediately offered the mercenary a position as his bodyguard. All that remained was to discuss ways they could cause the perpetrator to reveal themselves. Although they had two good suspects in the oni-hating Seijurou and the power-hungry Hyouma, they could not be certain that it was actually one of these two who had hired the assassin.They decided to have everyone attend the evening meal, and see if they could gauge a reaction to Daigo's presence.

While Daigo was more interested in the pork buns, Takeshi kept a close eye on his brother and Hyouma as they entered the room. No stranger to his brother's moods, he read Seijurou like a book - undisguised contempt towards Takeshi, which started to extend to Daigo as well - but then, a brief flicker of doubt, of cogs turning… as though he'd just thought of a good reason for Daigo to be there; a brief smile almost touching his lips as he considered the cleverness of this ploy to get close to the target perhaps? Hyouma's ice-like expression barely changed, but as his discerning eye swept the room, Takeshi saw how he took special notice of Daigo and seemed to be making the subtlest of mental calculations. It was in that moment that Takeshi vowed to himself that the sorcerer must die. Dinner proceeded without major incident, presided over by a weary and sad-looking Lord Kobe.

Coming Up

Laying a trap for the conspirators?
Vengeance and blood!
The Final Confrontation!

Another enjoyable session, even if the players were both a little tired or brain-fried. I tried to be more forthcoming with Aiki this time, and we did get through quite a few scenes. By the end, Daigo had 12 Aiki (I'd given him three to shift his Emotion Matrix results), and in the Intermission he pared back to only a single Fate at 5 dots (Goal: Kill those who put out the contract on Lord Kobe). In hindsight, I probably should have suggested a Fate - Goal: Protect Takeshi, but I didn't think of it at the time. His player rolled just above average, and gained 62 Kiai for a total of 63 going into the final Act! Takeshi only got 27 Kiai by comparison, but I still think it's gearing up for an explosive finale.

It was also a great moment when Daigo, who throughout has been telling Takeshi that he turned the assassination job down, and that they'd better hurry to the capital before the real assassin got there, revealed that he'd actually taken the job, while sitting no more than ten metres away from the "target"! XD There were so many raised eyebrows, and the guards hiding behind the paper screen suddenly went on high alert! XD

>>> Act 4

Monday, 12 November 2012

TBZ: The Oni of Yamaguchi, Act 2

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

Journeying into the foothills by the back-roads, the oni assassin Daigo and the half-oni aristocrat Takeshi came across a small group of farmers with a large hand-cart stuck in the mud. Although the peasants were terrified, Takeshi offered them a drink and Daigo helped them push the cart out of the rut. The two travellers then left without further ado, leaving the farmers somewhat astonished and relieved!

The two were passing across a rugged, stony ridge just before sunset when they were attacked by an almost entirely mechanical kijin with an unreasonable hatred for oni! A fierce battle ensued, ending in a furious final exchange where Takeshi cut the massive machine-man down. With his final breath, the cyborg said he could not forgive the oni for destroying his body...

Making camp in a sheltered spot on the hilltop, the two were joined after dark by a wandering Ebon Mountain monk. He chatted for a while with Takeshi who had first watch, asking about their purpose in the capital, to which Takeshi responded evasively.

Awoken for his watch, Daigo spoke somewhat brusquely to the monk, asking what he was doing here. The monk said he was on a pilgrimage, to which Daigo retorted, "Well you're not moving very fast!" After that, the night passed in silence... In the morning, Daigo grabbed Takeshi around the mouth and dragged him away before the monk woke up.

Coming Up

Yamashiro, the Mountain Castle!
Who was it that put out a contract on Lord Kobe's life?
Will the webs of intrigue be untangled, pulled aside, or simply cut through?

>>> Act 3