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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So The Party Made it to the Mura of Hondo...

...From that point on it was like herding cats to get the game to actually start. Actually, it's worse than that, because I had to pick Dalton up for the game and when I got back it was lunch time, but my wife was making bread, you know, old fashioned style, not with a machine. John was deep in a game of Fable II on the X-Box 360, and I was running late to start with because I had to stop and pick up a prescription at the pharmacy on the way home from picking Dalton up. Then Lee Ann showed up and we all got caught up in the fun of hanging out and catching up with her, because she had missed last game due to illness, flu or something, she's a nurse and has 2 elementary school aged kids, so whatever is going around is going to get her; I just appreciate that she doesn't bring it here.

Paul never showed and didn't call, he didn't respond to the invitation (I use a Facebook group for the game), and he wasn't answering any phone calls or emails. Last time he was sick. The time before that his car wouldn't start, and when we offered to come and pick him up he said he needed to be there for the tow-truck guy. I suspect he won't be back. I won't bother going out of my way to try and accommodate him on that either, three strikes and you're out. I don't really get it, he had a really good time while he was here, I could tell, but he just couldn't work up the ambition to come out and do this on his own. The first week his mom drove him here, her husband Scott is an old buddy of mine in KAG and was a player in my really cool, and all too short lived, HackMaster campaign. I was the minister at their wedding back in September, and ended up doing most of the caterer's job too. They moved out of the immediate area (50+ miles away) for a new job between the first and second game sessions and Paul hasn't made it back since. Paul is a 22 year old college drop out, with no job and is kind of a stoner, he was a bit of a project for me, but you've got to give me at least a little bit to work with. He said he wanted to learn to fight heavy in the SCA too, and make armor and get fit and go back to school and get a job, really turn his life around, I told him I'd be willing to work with him every day.

Anyway, that makes me sad.

So, on to the lots of time spent trying to catch Lee up on what she missed at the last game, there was a lot of talk about going back to try and take out Trader Chang, but Misaki wouldn't hear of it. Actually it was Mona, because she never shared Chang's nature with the party in character, Dalton just wanted to needle her a little bit because he is like a huge amount of XP on the hoof, or paw as the case may be. They discussed the sad death of Akihito and his retainers, who, while I was acting in the role of Karasu, considering the way he had been played and his LE alignment, I figured would certainly have sacrificed his cousin to erase a black mark on his family's honor and his cousin's retainers only got what Bushido demanded of those Samurai who had disgraced themselves by being captured. I had Karasu act as Kaishakunin in every case, thus completely and solely erasing the blot on his family's honor. He also argued convincingly that the slaves in the brigand camp were, in fact, property. To be fair, while this was happening most of the players were distracted with eating lunch and chatting about other things. This is what happens when you don't give the DM your full attention while the game is in session.

They then talked about what to do with the body of the dead imperial magistrate that they had found, whose body had been drained of blood and had mystical writings all over his skin, which had something to do with either demon summoning or demon binding or both, the Wu Jen Katsuo wasn't really sure. Ultimately they decided to build a pyre and burn the corpse, which they spent several hours doing, despite being only about a mile from town, which, not only did I mention a couple of times, but they actually remembered from the last session and mentioned themselves. I am not really sure what they thought they would accomplish by doing this, but it certainly makes it look like they are trying to conceal this occult murder.

Things didn't get a whole lot better once they actually got to town, the renamed "Inn of the Welcome Wench" became the much classier sounding "Doi no Aoihana"*, which according to my Japanese dictionary means "Inn of the Blue Flowers", which is too close to Kill Bill's "Inn of the Blue Leaves" for it to pass unnoticed by the players in my game. So that, of course, led to much speculation about the bride coming in to fight the O-Ren Ishii, the Crazy 88 and Gogo Yubari, which actually would have been pretty cool. Ami tried to claim the best room in the inn for herself, but I assumed that the innkeeper would rather give the suite saved for wealthy traders and nobles to the noble Samurai Masaru instead.

Things started breaking down again here.

Ami wanted to just keep messing with Masaru's stuff, because he got the nice room. Natsumi and Aiko just went along for the ride and played along with that, which was kind of annoying, because Dalton was actually trying to take care of stuff in town, like stable the horses and hire on some extra muscle, he got the OA Elmo- reskinned as a woodsy Bushi named Buntaro. Misaki tried to keep them in check, but it became obvious that, even when they were getting ridiculous, they weren't going to stop, they were just having too much fun at the nobleman's expense, which, given Aiko's background, was out of character for her at least. This was also the point where I "wrote" Karasu out of the campaign, he received an urgent message to return to Tamanokuni. He left with his surviving servants and took the six slaves as his share of booty.

Just to show how out of hand things were getting here with the girls messing about in Masaru's room and Masaru actually trying to do "in town" stuff- John made another character during the downtime. For some reason he was under the impression he would be allowed to have two player characters, I don't know why, but he thought that having a back up would be a good idea, so he made a Bushi. His reasoning behind making a Bushi was pretty transparent, we had been talking earlier about what characters in OA have the best end game and Bushi pretty much have the best. But then he pretty much admitted that he wanted his Wu Jen to die because he was sick of being the "useless" character. I gave him a talk about how Magic-User characters in AD&D are about delayed gratification and how I had been so pleased to see him branching out and trying a spell casting class this time around. He also had been pretty much the session MVP in the first session of this campaign with his perfect use of an Elemental Burst spell, and I had changed a rule to go 3e style and give bonus spells to Wu Jen for high Intelligence like Clerics get for high Wisdom, balanced out with my no doubles house rule. All in all, I think he had it pretty easy for his first time as a Magic-User type class, but this is the kid who quit playing for over 6 months because I told him he would have to roll stats high enough to be a Ranger, I wasn't just going to give it to him. I did just let him have the Bushi as a Henchman though, without even roleplaying through any of it, because damn it we needed to get this show on the road.

The party then realized that they had never properly divided up their treasure, since they'd never been to a town yet since they started getting real treasure, so they decided that had to be a priority now too. To be fair they were hauling a lot of extra goods by this point, even after doing the "good guy" thing and giving weapons and armor to villagers in bandit prone outer areas so they could defend themselves, they still had a lot of pretty good weapons and some armor and a few extra horses, even after outfitting every party member that didn't already have a horse with a light warhorse. They made a pretty good chunk of change and outfitted their Henchmen (and Buntaro) pretty well. Ami actually handled the sale, I gave them 60% of actual book value; my usual starting point is 50%, but I figured that a decent charisma and underworld contacts have got to be somewhat helpful when selling loot.

To break up the "defile Masaru's stuff" room party as Masaru was returning to his room, I had a monkey screech at the window. So, of course, Misaki opened the window and let the monkey in. The monkey was carrying a scroll case and dropped it on the table, then left. In the scroll case there was a note that read "Come to the Temple of the Way at the edge of town", so they did. The Temple of the Way is the converted Druids Grove from T1, I kind of plot hammered them at this point just to get them actually adventuring and told them that the priest at this temple suspected that the old Moathouse, which I had given a cool Japanese name to, but forgot, was being used as a base for bandits again, and pointed them on the way.

Once they arrived at the Moathouse area, I described it pretty much as written from the module, once again, because my copious notes were missing, but also because the area as written by EGG is kind of eerie enough. Since everything thus far in the campaign has been given a Japanese coating, I didn't really need to go into too much detail about the finer architectural points of the ruined Moathouse, they more or less supplied and assumed them on their own by this point. They were a little weirded out and paranoid by this point and the game had, at long last, really begun. Ami scouted on ahead, in what was, is, and probably always will be, the classically biggest killer of thieves, splitting them way off from the party, alone. Yes, spoiler alert, she dies.

Ami, used her thief skills to sneak right up to the Moathouse, she sneaked past the Giant frogs near the fallen drawbridge and then straight through the moat and climbed the ruined tower to the left of the drawbridge. There, in the darkness, she fought a desperate battle against a huge spider and succumbed to it's venomous bite. All of this happened while the rest of the party stayed back within "sight" of the Moathouse, this is important because later they wanted to have some sort of "Hear Noise" check to see if they would have heard anything happening to Ami during her single round of combat. Honestly, when she won initiative I expected that she would run away rather than try and duke it out with a man sized wolf spider in the dark, she died pretty ballsy.

The party waited for her a reasonable amount of time and then assumed that she was either dead, captured or hiding, so they made their own foray. Obviously the players already knew her fate, Lee was already rolling up her new character. The charged that fallen drawbridge on their warhorses and promptly got attacked by the Giant Frogs. Katsuo used his Ki power to win initiative, but his horse panicked and he was thrown. I have played through this battle a bunch of times over the course of my AD&D life, always as a DM, other than Katsuo getting thrown and one packhorse bolting, this party had a cakewalk. The whole fight lasted two rounds and nobody really got hurt.

Masaru sent Hikaru and Buntaro after the two horses that had fled, and then the party advanced into the courtyard over the fallen drawbridge and through the broken gates. Then the entered the damaged tower that Ami had climbed into, because they had watched her enter it, and were attacked by the unwounded Huge Spider. That fight is a whole different story when you have an entire party** there to do the fighting instead of just one lonely Yakuza in the dark, it only lasted two rounds, and probably only would have lasted one if anyone had thought to light a torch before entering the dark room. Aiko the Kensei got dropped to 0 HP though and got to roll on the table, she got a broken bone- my subtable made it her left leg below the knee, which really means somewhere between the knee and the ankle, 1d4+9 weeks to heal. She's pretty much out of the game for three months, so Ashli will be rolling up another character too.

They looted the room and that's where we broke because it was already pretty late and a school night for my two kids that are still in school.

Lee rolled up a Barbarian, by the way, just because she's never played one and it sounded fun. She also really enjoys being the outsider in Japanese culture, because she's 1/2 Korean. This character is a Steppe Barbarian named Chakha, that's 8th rank nobilty, so I started calling her Chakha Khan.

Ashli hasn't really decided what she wants to make as an alternative character, the entire concept is alien to her since Aiko is still alive, but cure wounds spells don't work on broken bones and the party can't afford anything that will work. So she either makes another character, or sits out a bunch of game sessions.

*It was at this point that I discovered that the copious conversion notes that I had written weeks before, including hand drawn maps, which I HATE to do, weren't with my OA stuff, I actually couldn't remember the Japanese for it and just gave the English translation, which was probably the whole reason for the problem. I actually still haven't found it, I suspect that one of my kids grabbed it and took it to school, they most likely just tore out and threw away the pages that were written on, because it was an otherwise new and empty notebook.

**OK, most of a party, Hikaru and Buntaro were still getting the spooked horses.