Wednesday, February 22, 2017

PODCAST: JOURNEY OF FLOWER

I talk about the novel, Journey of Flower: 

STORMS OF THE MARTIAL WORLD THIRTEEN: PATHS TO YUN HU

This was the Thirteenth session of a new Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign. See the TWELFTH SESSION LOG to read about the previous session. 

Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is our wuxia RPG. It is available HERE in PDF. 


Characters
Peng Ke-Yen: Eccentric daughter of a merchant who goes against conventions and is notable for her white and black streaked hair. From Dashen village. 

Peng Pei: Daughter of two low Yen-Li priests. Also from Dashen village. 


Peng Biyu: Peng Pei's mother. 

Zhendao: A former slave of a man named Zhao. 


Shin Du: A performer and actor who is a perfect shot with the bow. 


Song Pei: A one-armed physician.


Sister Fox: Brother Wolf's Sister who is ailing from Life Ebbing Venom. 

Feiyan: A yen-li priestess who is acquainted with Sister Fox. 

In the Jade Temple, people recovered and healed with the help of the Abbess. Sister Fox remembered the pouch of tea-like ingredients she had found at the Temple of Jade Mercies and asked Song Pei to prepare it. They used it to make a warm drink, which Peng Pei, Shin Du and Sister Fox all consumed. They found it filled them with euphoria and vigor, but dulled their minds. When the sensations passed, they wanted more, and made another preparation of the stuff. 


Zhendao asked the Abbess and Biyu if there was a way to kill gods. The Abbess wouldn't comment but Biyu mentioned that there was something called the God-Killing Blade. 

The party left the Jade Temple and asked the abbess to join them. She felt it was better, in the wake of recent events, that their paths should diverge. Shin Du, who had been growing increasingly wary of the group's methods and actions, decided he would go north with the Abbess to Daolu. 

The rest of the party decided to try and intercept Brother Wolf as he travelled to meet them at the Jade Temple (fearing he would run into one of their enemies in his weakened state). 

They travelled through the foot hills and were briefly followed by wolves before they found him. He appeared haggard and pale, and half the group rushed to greet him. Feiyan and Zhendao refused, both being extremely wary of Brother Wolf. 

They explained the situation to Brother Wolf, telling him about the talisman agreement that Ke-Yen had made. He told her that Dawa of the Ten Talismans never let people out of agreements. He would accompany them to the House of Paper Shadows to find this Hero Feng, but didn't think he was strong enough yet to assist them. Sister Wolf offered him some of her 'tea' which he took. This gave him more energy and awakened him. He asked her and Song Pei to find more of the tea-like ingredients. 

They decided to take different paths to Yun Hu. Zhendao and Feiyan would travel together, while the rest of the group travelled with Brother Wolf. During the journey, Ke-Yen seemed to be having doubts. 

On the way, Feiyun and Zhendao passed by a man carrying a square wooden box. Zhendao called after him when he realized he was dressed like a merchant. "Want to buy some wolf pelts?"

He tried to negotiate a price, but the man, who said his name was fox, told him the pelts looked terrible and obviously hadn't been cleaned. The man explained that he was an antique merchants anyways, so had little use for wolf pelts. 

Zhendao asked him about the God-Killing Blade. He said he had heard of it, that it was referenced in an old poem. 

Zhendao asked him what was in the box. He said that wasn't for him to know. Both Zhendao and Feiyun were curious about the contents of the box. But they said nothing more as the man left on his way. 

They arrived in Yun Hu and Song Pei went to the Banyan Sage Apothecary to obtain information on their tea-like ingredients. Hong Mai was rude to Zhendao, who left and went to speak with Xiaomin at the nearby cave. 

Zhendao spoke with Xiaomin and asked her about a blade someone had mentioned to him, the God-Killing Blade. He had previously learned the weapon was mentioned briefly by the Demon Emperor in a poem and wanted to discover more. Xiaomin knew little, only telling him that the Holy Killers in Dee were known to be interested in the weapon. 

Hong Mai told Song Pei that his pouch contained Celestial Plume, which ought to be burned like an incense, otherwise the potency would be wrong. Song Pei thanked him and they purchased some more Celestial Plume at the Singing Reed for thousands of spades. The price they were told, would be cheaper if they bought it in Dee. 

The party spent a great deal of time talking about their next course of action. They would go to the House of Paper Shadows to rescue Hero Feng, but Zhendao wanted to go to Dee as well. Since both were in close proximity, they could reach both. Song Pei made preparations to procure passage on a ship. 

In the mean time, Ke-Yen retreated to her room to meditate. She remained there for almost a day and when the party found her, her hair was pinned up, and she had a gecko-cinnabar dot on her forehead. While Brother Wolf slept, she placed her talons on his bed. 

As Brother Wolf recovered he spoke with Song Pei, explaining the importance of filial piety to him. He taught Song Pei the basics of Plum Blossom Palm*. 

The party then discussed Brother Wolf. They were very divided on him. Sister Fox wanted to protect her brother, Song Pei appeared to still be loyal to Brother Wolf as his master, but Feiyan, Zhendao and even Ke-Yen were concerned about remaining with him. They decided to encourage him to stay at the Sword and Wine Inn. Peng Biyu and Peng Pei did not weigh in strongly one way or the other. They would travel to the House of Paper Shadows and deal with the matter after they returned. 

Incidentally, Song Pei had learned that Celestial Plume produced a strong dependency, which would kick in after ten days without the substance. He began to divide the doses so that this would not negatively impact their venture into the House of Paper Shadows. 

The party traveled to Xuanlu by boat the next day. Then they walked to the House of Paper Shadows. As the party talked tactics, Zhendao grew bored and began climbing the wall. Feiyan, who had been inside the House many years before, joined him and helped lead him toward an area she felt Hero Feng might be held in. 

The party did go into the house, but since the House of Paper Shadows is an upcoming module, I will resume the session logs when they leave the house (to avoid spoiling things for people who might play the module). 


*Note that this is not a technique Brother Wolf knows in the official materials of the game. In my original campaign he has ranks in Dianxue and knows pressure point techniques. This was changed for the Maidens of the Jade Blue Sky book. 





Monday, February 20, 2017

BEDROCK TALK EPISODE 5: MONDAY DISCUSSION

I talk about an upcoming module, the podcast and some observations about running Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. 


Friday, February 17, 2017

PAINTED SKIN: THE RESURRECTION PODCAST REVIEW

I review Painted Skin: The Resurrection. Directed by Wu Ershan, this 2012 film stars Zhao Wei, Chen Kun and Zhou Xun. 




You can view the trailer here: 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CORPSE MANIA REVIEW


Here is my Corpse Mania Review. Going to try doing some of these as podcasts.

CORPSE MANIA REVIEW


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WANDERING HEROES OF OGRE GATE WEB NOVEL

Just wanted to let everyone know that Legends of Ogre Gate, the web novel of the story of Sunan and Bao, has been released on wuxia world. This past week the writer, Deathblade, released the prologue and the first three chapters (It will follow a two-chapter-per-week release schedule). Deathblade is a translator at wuxia world. He has translated several wuxia novels by Gu Long and translates many of their xian xia web novels there as well (including I Shall Seal the Heavens and A Will Eternal). 

Check out the main page HERE


LEGENDS OF OGRE GATE
In some tales, Sunan and Bao are heroes. In other tales they are martyrs. In some songs they become gods. In other songs they die horrible deaths. In all stories, they are heroes, lovers, legends. After a thousand years, it can be difficult to separate the myth from the reality, to extract the fact from the fantasy. This is the true story of Sunan and Bao, who became the legends of the Ogre Gate.




Monday, February 13, 2017

DISPOSABLE DISCIPLES SESSION 35: CRAZED RAKSHA ARRIVES IN DEE

This is a log for my ongoing Disposable Disciples of Bone Kingdom campaign. You can see the previous session HERE.  Note that I began recording sessions, so this has allowed me to do more detailed session logs.

Player Characters: 

Shen Chun
Little Bai
Silent Dagger
Ong Lao
Min (Feiyan)

Disciples of the Sect: 

Red Eagle (Little Bai)
Mount Dao/Biggest Sister (Little Bai)
Filial Cricket (Little Bai)
Dim-Witted Chen (Shen Chun)


Sects: 

The Righteous Outlaws
Calamity Star
Ou Jinghzhu
Tea Master Houzhou

Stone Palace Sect (Also called Golden Way)

A gambling hall and criminal network in Yun Hu. Currently under control of party, with Weeping Lotus managing it. They've absorbed many other sects into this organization including Crocodile Sect, Blades of the Weeping Lotus, Temple of the Jade Mercies, Relentless Corpse Sect and more. Recently they joined with Relentless Corpse again when Shen Chun arranged a marriage with their leader Da Mei Mei. 

Members:

Shen Chun (King)
Da Mei Mei (Queen)
Weeping Lotus (Right Vanguard)
Silent Dagger
Feng (Accountant)
Gu (Head Chef)
Little Bai
Min
Scholar Shen (a scholar who has been writing a story about Little Bai's life)

Dancing Scorpions
Criminal network in Yun Hu

Relentless Corpse Sect

Da Mei Mei

Temple of the Jade Mercies (see Stone Palace)

Abbot Wei Zhao
Abbess Bao-Yu
Yao Tu-On
Yao Chun
Yao Ba

Southern Hill Sect

Yellow Mantis
White Chysanthemum
Green Mantis (Dead but important)

Twin-Fisted Eagle Sect

Twin Fisted Eagle
Jade Fist

Bone Breaking Sect
Destroyed and taken over by Drunken Hero Kang

Glorious Death Cult

Led by Supreme Master Tung, who says he is a god of death

As Shen Chun and Little Bai recovered at the Five Ghost Society, Min and Ong wandered around the Craft Market Quarter and went to the High Minded Phoenix Tea House. While there Ong ordered 9,000 spades worth of duck and tea, then had the debt sent to Shen Chun. As they were leaving, they happened upon a group of men attempting to murder a local sheriff. They stopped the attack and Ong used his Lashing Tiger strike to knock all but one to the ground. The remaining man asserted that they were operating under the protection of their Bao Chief, Sunan Li. Ong commanded them to bring Sunan Li before him. 

Sunan Li arrived, smiling and jovial. He asked Ong to speak in privacy, and then told him that the sheriff was a thorn in his side, and he had both the protection of the Five Ghost Society and the support of City Lord Buwei. When asked for an explanation, Sunan Li told him that the sheriff was too diligent in enforcing the law, and that this went against the local agreements. He essentially had permission from Buwei to eliminate him for the betterment of all in Dee. Ong was naturally suspicious and told him not to kill the man, but that he wouldn't interfere in their affairs. Sunan Li was pleased, approached the sheriff and publicly apologized for his men's behavior (he also gave the sheriff strings of cash for his troubles).

By this time it was evening and Ong and Min then began heading back to the Five Ghost Society. On their way, they heard commotion from the area of the city the Golden Way controlled. 

When they reached the Bao under their control, they saw people taking wounded and dead from their houses into the street for care. They asked what happened and one of the Bao-men told them to speak with Yao Min, the chief of the area. 

They found Yao Min, who was directing men and covered in blood. She told them that her Bao had been attacked as people went to bed, men had snuck into their homes and killed the weak. She feared as many as one thousand had been killed in the attack. She believed that it was the Fire Stick Gang and their Bao-men. She went with them to deliver a report to Shen Chun*. 

Yao Min explained the situation, telling him she had sent some men to track down the attackers, and she would report on news when she received word. Shen Chun inquired about Yao Min after she reported and discovered she was well respected, and the only female Bao chief in the city. 

In the morning Yao Min sent a message to Shen Chun stating that her men had followed several members of Fire Stick Gang to a warehouse in the Kushen District. The party discussed what to do. It was decided Shen Chun would go to the previously arranged meeting with Ghashir Al-Anmar, while Min and Ong went to the warehouse to investigate. 

At Ghashir Manor Shen Chun was brought before Ghashir Al-Anmar, who greeted him kindly and exchanged pleasantries. 

"We are new to Dee" said Shen Chun. "We like how things are handled here and are looking to get more of a grasp on the area. I think purchasing your Celestial Plume would be most influential for us."

"Well," said Ghashir, "My Celestial Plume is of course the best in all the world. But sellers must go through the Fire Stick Gang."

"Have you heard what has been going on with Fire Stick Gang."

"I have, and I fear for anyone who incurs the wrath of the Celestial Phoenix Gang."

"If everything goes according to my plans, then I should be forming an agreement with Celestial Phoenix and eradicating the Fire Stick Gang," Said Shen Chun. 

Ghashir thought and said "Well then let me tell you how this works. You give me protection, and I give you a cut of the sales of Celestial Plume. You can even sell it in your own district (but not in other districts)". 

"That seems agreeable, what numbers did you have in mind."

"Well first we must see how the matter of the Fire Stick Gang resolves."

"We've killed another Fire Crow King and will kill any more who stand before us," Said Shen Chun. 

"In that case I suggest you speak with Thundering Guan before she takes action against you. You seem like someone I can work with, but there are many 'ifs' here." 

Ghashir offered to arrange a meeting. Shen Chun left and awaited word on the meeting at the Five Ghost Society. By the afternoon he received a message saying that he was to meet Thundering Guan at the City Lord Manor and that he could only bring with him one of his female disciples.

Meanwhile, Ong and Min found the warehouse in the Kushen District. They approached and waited outside to observe it. They saw a man open one of the doors and peak toward them. The two then noticed that there were archers preparing to strike them from windows and roofs of nearby houses. They charged into the building to evade the impending attack. Min did so using greater stealth than Ong. 

When they got inside they saw terra-cotta figures filling the building in rows. In the center of the room were a group of men, one of them held a cord in his hands that connected all the figures. He ripped the cord and an explosion blew open the doors. Min whirled out of the way and into an alley. Ong stood in the center of the blast, feeling the burn of its heat and the force of its rapid expansion, but when it was over, he still stood. The men in the room were dead, and chunks of terra-cotta were strewn about. 

Ong remained inside while Min used a blast of Qi, hurling tens of archers to the ground. They unleashed arrows upon her and was hit by one. She ran to the roof and stabbed at foes along the widows, dropping many more to the ground. With another blast of Qi she pulled the rest into the streets to their deaths. She and Ong hid in the aftermath, awaiting any more Fire Stick Gang members. 

Shen Chun went to meet with Thundering Guan. She was in a great reception hall. She was dressed like a scholar and thirty women with similar attire flanked the room. Shen Chun greeted her and she reciprocated. He then asked for an alliance. 

"Why should I ally with people who kill my friends in the Kushen District."

Shen Chun claimed they were unruly, and that the Fire Stick Gang has a longstanding grudge with his group. He informed her of Little Bai's dealings with them in Gaoxing. 

"It would be unseemly of me to hand you the Kushen District after your brazen attack," She said. 

"We had no intention of it being blown up, we were just looking for a meeting with the Fire Crow King."

"How about this. I will put an end to the conflict with the Fire Stick Gang, I will forgive your extreme insolence, and I will permit you sell Celestial Plume in your district."

"What about the Fire Stick Gang killing one thousand of our people?" He asked. 

"That is punishment for attacking them. I can arrange a mediation between you."

"I am not asking to be handed the Kushen District."

"That is what this sounds like to me," She said. 

"However if the Fire Stick Gang did disappear I would not expect to get their land."

"Then who would get it?"

"I suppose it would be whoever claims it," Shen Chun said. 

"That sounds like you have your eye on the Kushen District."

"I do not necessarily have an eye on Kushen District. I just don't like the Fire Stick Gang and find them irrational. They are barbaric."

"And your people are less barbaric?"

"We don't do barbaric things because we worship fire. We do barbaric things for power."

"That is even more dangerous," She said. 

"I just want a slice of Dee."

"I've heard you already control a slice of Dee."

"We control but a single Bao, and many of the residents were just killed."

"Most gangs control two or three Baos, one should be more than enough for newcomers to our city. I don't like people having more than three baos."

"I am uncomfortable with you taking the Kushen District after such an obvious attack on my territory. I can direct you to another, for instance the Gambling Quarter. We can work something out."

"Where is that?"

"It is the territory of Vermillion Sword Sect and would give you control of the Xiang-Pu Wrestling Hall and Ouyang Gambling Hall: the Twin Vermillions."

The negotiations went on with Shen Chun continuing to press on the matter of the Fire Stick Gang and she agreed to consider his requests, but no clear resolution was reached. As they left it, he agreed to end the conflict if the Fire Stick Gang stopped its attacks. She essentially told him by the end, that all the Bao chiefs were ultimately loyal to her and not their gangs. That any who opposed her directly knew the consequences. 

Back at the warehouse, Ong and Min saw a group of twenty six Fire Stick men arrive an hour after the ambush. They approached the warehouse and Ong unleashed a storm of arrows upon them. Min then crushed them with her Qi attack. In the end six were left alive and they dragged them back to Five Ghost Society. 

There, Shen Chun took the prisoners and tried to learn information about the Fire Crow Kings. He asked how many they were. With each refusal his rage increased. He smashed the head of one into the floor, crushing his skull with strike after strike. When the prisoners continued to remain silent, he twisted the arm of one until he died, then ripped it out and beat another with it to death. This carnage continued, and as it did, fury welled up in Shen Chun. Finally one said that there were three hundred. But Shen Chun took this to be a lie. 

"I hate liars," He said. And proceeded to savagely beat them to death. 

Elsewhere in the Five Ghost Society, members of the sect described the scene to one another and a new name began to replace Shen Chun. They called him the Crazed Raksha. Even by the standards of the Five Ghost Society, his behavior was viewed as cruel and unpredictable. 

In the wake of this, Ong and Min tended to some matters of importance to them. Ong went outside the city with his Gushan heads and summoned a storm to receive a prophecy. The wind blew and the heads uttered "You will change a historic event". 

After that Min found a smith to forge a sword infused with the ashes of a cherry blossom tree. He agreed to make her two hook swords for 6,000 spades. 

This is where the session ended. 

*Dee is organized into 24 sections made up of 1,000 households each. These are called Baos and the they are each led by a chief. The purpose of this system is for the Baos to self police and help maintain order, however in Dee these have slipped into criminality themselves, and most Bao chiefs answer to more powerful gang leaders. In this case, Chief Yao Min answers to Shen Chun of the Golden Way.