Wednesday, 29 May 2013

TBZ: Guardians of Green River, Acts 0 & 1

I'm running a Tenra Bansho Zero scenario at a local games venue, The Mad Lounge. I was writing it up, and got to the point where I really needed to actually run it to see where it worked and where it didn't. If it plays out alright, I'll refine it and create a good version for public distribution.

The scenario's built for four characters, but I only ended up with three players. We organised to meet up on a couple of weeknights, so it will take two 3-4 hour sessions to get through the whole scenario.
  • Chris plays Crimson Lotus, a male Phoenix Order Buddhist monk who has lived in Green River for several years.
  • John plays Honjo Yoshino, a female samurai and high-ranking member of the Iron Fist Mercenary Company.
  • Sean plays Omayu the Worm, an annelidist doctor of indeterminate gender (possibly female), who's lived on the outskirts of Green River for many years.

Zero Act

Omayu the Worm has long lived near the village of Green River, with a small house on the edge of the woods. After the last war, bandits and deserters began slowly amassing in the hills, until one day they attack and loot the village. Omayu sees two bandits threatening a pair of villagers near the river, including a young woman, Onatsu, whom Omayu feels oddly connected to. Omayu calmly asks if the bandits need medical assistance, but the ruffians demand food and supplies. The annelidist distracts them from the villagers by inviting them to her hut, which they ransack before fleeing.

Omayu's Destiny is Goal: Make the village a safe place to live.

A week or so later, having emerged victorious from the recent war, the Iron Fist mercenary company travels through the hills on their way to their next battlefield. As they descend into the valley, they see enemy soldiers from the last battle attacking and looting the small farming community of Green River. The place reminds samurai Honjo Yoshino so much of her own lost home that she immediately suggests to Captain Souma that they save the villagers. Souma seems amused; their contract has ended, after all, and these men are no longer their enemies. However, he is inclined to defeat the looters for some reason, perhaps as a goodwill gesture towards their former patron, and orders the company to protect the village.

Honjo's Destiny is Goal: Protect the village.

The Buddhist monk Crimson Lotus has lived in Green River for several years, preaching peace and harmony amid war and strife. Now, after driving away a group of bandits, the Iron Fist mercenary company stands arrayed at the edge of the village. The village elders offer their thanks and their hospitality, inviting the mercenaries to winter here. The entire village kneels and bows, apart from the monk who stands off to one side and inclines his head as a gesture of respect. Crimson Lotus feels a deep sense of unease about the flashy samurai standing beside the mercenary commander, but keeps his thoughts to himself for now.

Crimson Lotus' Destiny is Goal: Maintain harmony within the village.

The unplayed character, a Kijin mercenary, does have a Destiny that isn't just about the village. Otherwise, the Destinies are all fairly similar, just with different wording. It would be nice to maybe mix them up a bit more, and tie people more strongly into courses of action that will provoke drama.

Act One: Blissful Autumn

Some of the mercenaries suffered minor injuries in the skirmish. Souma sends Honjo to escort the injured men to see Omayu the Worm. The two exchange a couple of words, and Honjo leaves the men there to get fixed up. Omayu uses medicines and potions rather than reveal her annelids.

Honjo checks out the village, directing mercenaries to go on patrol or keep watch. She notices a group of children following her about, but ignores them. She runs into Crimson Lotus doing morning exercises, and they verbally spar a little. Honjo has no use for religion, and Crimson Lotus is uneasy about the samurai. They play go; Honjo wins, despite not having played before. Crimson Lotus is infuriatingly gracious in defeat. The village children decide that she's okay with them.

A few nights later, there's a big harvest festival with singing, dancing, eating, and drinking! Honjo is worried that, now the harvest's in, the bandits will take this opportunity to attack. She puts most of the men on watch, and patrols the village herself. Omayu takes a bowl of rice and some sake and lurks in the shadows at the edge of town. Fearing that the annelidist will be attacked, Honjo stalks her and keeps close watch.

Crimson Lotus talks to some of the villagers. Some of the men are worried about their daughters being seduced by mercenaries. Crimson Lotus says that virtue untested is no true virtue, but that does little to ease their minds!

Omayu witnesses Onatsu being harassed by an amorous and drunken mercenary, and goes to her rescue. Crimson Lotus and Omayu talk with the village elder, Old Kobunta, about the mercenary presence. The old man thinks that the Iron Fist have, by and large, been a boon for the community. Honjo watches from the shadows.

Late at night, after the festival has wound down, Honjo is still on patrol. She sees suspicious shadows moving near the rice shed, and follows them into an alleyway between buildings. Crimson Lotus just happens to be passing as the bandits near the front of the shed; he greets them, and their leader decides to try and take him hostage, failing to notice the dull flare of soulgems behind him signalling Honjo's samurai transformation.

Honjo cuts down a couple of bandits in the alley, while four try to subdue the monk. Crimson Lotus counters all of their attacks, knocking the swords from their hands without wounding them. Honjo comes up behind the group and scares them off. Crimson Lotus trips one and puts his foot on his chest, and uses the Binding Prayer to stop another from running. The other two flee across the bridge, where they are met by other mercenaries on patrol.

Omayu turns up in time to treat the wounded. Crimson Lotus questions the prisoners, using the threat of leaving and having Honjo question them instead. They reveal the location of their camp, but point out that it will be moved soon if the raiding party doesn't return.

Honjo mobilises the Iron Fist and they fall upon the remaining bandits, wiping them out.

Act Two Preview

The bandits are defeated, but the mercenaries remain. As the winter draws on, will the situation become increasingly problematic?

We didn't actually run that final battle between the mercenaries and the bandits; it was pretty much taken as read that a heavily-depleted and hungry group of deserters would be no match for a well-equipped elite mercenary force.

I may need to revise some of the early scenes in Act One that are basically just two characters talking without much impetus to actually interact with each other. Either that, or I need to make it clearer that scenes like this are for demonstrating emotions, impressions, relationships and such - to express your character and develop their relationships through roleplay.

The game went pretty well though, and I think the players enjoyed it. The first session went for about three hours. A lot of time was taken up by rules explanations and figuring out how things worked. Nobody wanted to spend Kiai, for example, until they figured out how Fates are used to reduce Karma. In Act One, we just had a couple of points of Aiki being spent as Kiai to avoid any Karma gain!

With a four hour slot booked for next week, and with everybody now familiar with the basics of the system, we should have no trouble finishing the game in session two.

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