2007-06-18 Yuushuu

still U-Tzuki, day 19 – Kane-Youbi (Metal Day)

Kyoshi and Kaito arrived. The presented Lord Yusukami with a golden jewel encrusted glove worth 5000 ryo (gold pieces). It was gracefully accepted and stowed away.

U-Tzuki, day 20 – Tsuchi-Youbi (Earth Day) – “A good day for beginnings.”

Planned for today: “Ritual of the mountain kami & a bear hunt in the old imperial forest.”

Yusukami Yuushuu, Lord Yusukami’s eldest son and heir, invited the guests to a bear hunt. Accompanied by Takabe Hyougo, commander of the left wing, and four guards, the party left. Only Aurin stayed behind. Damn. I should have made sure that Aurin’s player got to do whatever she wanted to do in the morning or in the afternoon, so that Aurin could come along to the hunt. In the two hours that followed, she got to roll the dice for an NPC, and then everybody else got to take a 20 minutes break as we went through her solo mission. I had forgotten one of the unspoken rules in our [[Roleplaying_Social_Contract?]]: “No solo missions.” My bad. :(

In the forest, the party wore light armor and fought with the brown bear using long spears (yari). Using less armor and spears only is part of the hunt being a form of entertainment for the warrior classes. It’s sporty. I used a very simple encounter table based on a d6: 1 – a black bear, 2-4 – a brown bear, 5 – two brown bears, 6 – a dire bear. I like how these encounters make simple encounters more interesting to me. I get to improvise a bit.

After killing the bear, the party explored its cave and found nothing. As soon as they were all inside the cave, arrows rained down at the guards, Yusukami jr., and Takabe. They took cover. → Ninja (en) attack! The party ran out of the cave. Suddenly five assassins materialized out of thin air around Yusukami jr. and struck him down. He took more than 50 points of damage, enough to kill him right away.

The party struck back, Kubo wielding his demon-slaying cold steel naginata +2, Kyoshi slashing at them with his family heirloom katana, Kaito casting Entangle, and both Tshin Bo and Tsutomu relying on their yaris instead of using arcane magic (as that is outlawed in Kitsunemori).

The leader of the assassins got away. The party stabilized one of the dying ninja and brought him back to the castle together with the mortal remains of Yusukami Yuushuu.

Finding the right balance for this encounter proved difficult. Some non-interesting parts dragged on for too long. Basically all I wanted to know was the following:

  1. Is the party willing to leave Yuushuu for a while? Had they not all entered the cave, I would have tried to lure them away by having the archers flee. (Yes)
  2. Is the party willing to openly use arcane magic to prevent the master assassin from escaping? (No)

The attempts at locating the invisible assassin, the listen checks, the hide checks, the tracking of the invisible opponent… So while the assassination itself certainly “worked” for the table, the hopeless chase at the end was frustrating.

Back to the story.

In the mean time, Aurin manages to talk to the bride-to-be, Fumiko. She seems honestly excited to move away from home and to see a more interesting town such as Hakone. Even when Aurin mentions how Onishi Shigeru is a very honorable man who will go to great lengths to defend it, she does not blush nor falter. Some Bluff checks later Aurin decides that Fumiko’s intentions seem sincere.

Later, Aurin talks to one of the priests, Satoh Madoka. Both women take a liking to each other. The priest tells Aurin about a thought that has been troubling her: The spirits of the ancestors and the kami of the Yusukami valley seem to be in favor of the marriage. No ill omens have shown up. And yet she learned of rumors indicating that Fumijo was “not fit” for marriage. What was going on? They both talk some more, and it is decided that Satoh will try to get Aurin into Fumiko’s inner circle of court ladies. Before dinner and a tea party later, some excellent Diplomacy checks make sure that Aurin succeeds in her plan. She will spend the night with other women in the room next to Fumiko’s room. Feigning sleep, she’ll be able to keep an eye on her. Aurin’s plan is to make sure that Fumiko and the purported lover won’t meet anymore.

Dinner time is overshadowed by the news of Yuushuu’s death. What will happen now? Lord Yusukami does not trust the priests of the Temple of the Moon. Will Yuushuu be raised in Kurobano? Will he want to return to the world of the living at all? An unspoken question hangs in the air: Will Takabe atone for his mistake with his death? Clearly, having a diamond worth at least 5000 ryo will be a problem. A diamond would have to found and brought to the temple within nine days.

To be honest, I haven’t spent much time thinking about the question of assassination attempts and Raise Dead. The leader of the assassins should have cut off Yuushuu’s head and taken it with him. Keeping it for nine days would have made sure only a Resurection could bring him back… Perhaps I’ll roll the dice to see whether Yuushuu wants to come back. There’s a one in three chance he doesn’t. And if he doesn’t, then I think Takabe will follow him into the next world. If not – Takabe might still commit → Seppukku (en); if not for failing to protect his lord, then for not discovering the plot early enough.

We still don’t know who sent the assassins, but I don’t expect them to actually know their employers. That would be foolish, because they must expect Raise Dead or at least Speak with Dead. Multiple layers of secrecy will make sure nobody can talk. The employer will remain a secret.

I don’t think the wedding will be canceled, but surely the future no longer looks as bright as it seemed just a few hours ago.

And I really need to think of some assassination methods that play by the D&D rules without resorting to a social convention such as a taboo on returning from the dead.

XP

Aurin’s solo mission was tricky. The DMG provides a section on “CRs for Noncombat Encounters”. It says: “A roleplaying encounter should only be considered a challenge at all if there’s some risk involved and success or failure really matters. […] You might see such situations as having a Challenge Rating equal to the level of the party.” Ordinarily, I would not award XP for this challenge, because getting information is its own in-game reward. I also don’t want to encourage solo missions. And things weren’t particularly dangerous. But I don’t want to treat her as if she hadn’t played at all. And “official” material like the adventures in Dungeon hand out noncombat encounter XP far more easily. So I decided to assign a challenge rating that was one below the “party” level resulting in 1000 XP instead of 1500 XP.

Challenges overcome:

Thus:

XPs gained:

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