Tuesday, 26 April 2016

[Actual Play] 5th edition in Pre-Medieval Japan: Session 4 - Goro Couldn't Bear It

(You can read previous session reports for this campaign here.)

The three philosophers had been effectively wiped out by the guardians of the tomb of the lichen-man king. Only their (NPC) guide Pasekur remained conscious and able to fight. It would be another day before the group could even think about travel or exploring the remainder of the tombs. Pasekur set about trying to hide the three corpses under a nearby fallen tree and settled in for the night.

In the evening, flushed grouse indicated the presence of intruders. Pasekur and Terasu, who was by now awake and able to move, decided to try to stay out of sight, but were quickly noticed by what turned out to be four Emishi hunters from the village of Bihoro. These mountain-siders were considerably wilder and rougher than their coastal brethren, but were friendly enough; the leader, Itakshir, warned about the dangers of these tombs, and offered the strange Southron travellers a feast at the village if ever they made their way there.

By mid-morning the next day Monomi and Goro were also able to move, but they decided to spent much of the day recuperating; it was mid-afternoon by the time they began exploring the tomb of the lichen-man king. They discovered what was clearly a burial chamber. It contained a skeleton together with a bronze cuirass, sword and helm, the latter of which was strangely and noticeably unrusted and pristine. There were also a number of amulets, anklets, and other trinkets - as well as a skin cask sealed with bearskin, which the philosophers quickly surmised contained the breath of the lichen-man wizard given to the king to accompany him to the afterlife. All around this chamber were rich paintings of hunting scenes; a frequent recurring motif was a man with a large red beard and red hair, who was presumably the king himself.

The tomb led to at least one other chamber but Monomi was keen not to disturb anything more than was necessary and was satisfied leaving with the cask. Goro, on the other hand, decided to pocket one of the amulets to see what would happen.

With their instant task completed, the three philosophers headed back to Okoppe. The journey took them some three days. On the way they came across a handful of cranes which seemed to circle around them overhead a few times before flying off back the way they had come; spooked by this, the philosophers took a wide detour to avoid anybody who might be following them. Eventually they arrived back at the village, where Monomi gave a rousing account of their travails to the locals. Then the shamaness Umoshmatek invited the three philosophers to take part in the ritual that would make use of the lichen-man wizard's breath. The essence of this ritual was to boil the cask in water inside a sealed tent over the course of a night. The condensation from the steam that would collect on the inside of the tent could then be soaked in bear skin and squeezed out into a pot. This fluid could then be poured into the river mussel goddess's pool to bind her into her mussel form.

The ritual had strange effects on both Monomi and Goro, who undertook dream quests under the influence of the steam-filled air in the tent. Monomi dreamed that he was racing through the streets of some Chinese city at night, whereupon he was confronted by an authoritarian figure who commanded him to use a newly-granted power over the clouds, wind, and rains for some unspecified and incomprehensible purpose. Goro, meanwhile, dreamed that he was confronting a gargantuan locust-like insect who drained him of his very existence. The onmyoji discovered that this meant in future his relationship to the physical world had become somehow attenuated, so that he could move through space instantly over very short distances.

[Mechanically, Monomi can now control the weather 1/week and Goro can blink 1/day - if they pass WIS checks at DC 10]

The next morning the ritual was over and was successful: the philosophers now had a gourd containing water infused with the breath of the lichen-man wizard. This, Umoshmatek told them, they had to pour into the river mussel goddess's pool - but only when she was in river mussel form. This would bind her in that state. If, on the other hand, they did it while she was in human form, it would bind her in that state instead - ruining their plan.

The philosophers spent some time discussing what to do as they journeyed towards the river mussel goddess's waterfall pool. Their initial plan was for Monomi to use his newfound power over the weather to cloak the pool in fog so that Goro could sneak forward with the fluid and pour it in. Goro could then use his new power to teleport instantly away before her bear guardians got him. But after a while they decided this was a bad idea - it was likely the river mussel goddess would be very hard to sneak up on in her natural environment. Instead, they hatched a different plan: Goro would attempt to flatter the goddess into transforming into her river mussel form. He would then pour the fluid into the pool, grab her, and teleport away and then they would all run off back to Okoppe as fast as their legs could carry them.

The plan initially worked well. Goro entered the pool and began flattering the river mussel goddess so that she agreed to reveal the beauty of her natural form. As soon as this had happened he poured the lichen-man-wizard solution into the pool, binding her in that state. Her bear guardians, who had been watching the whole thing, immediately attacked and Goro's blinking power fizzled and failed; he was badly mauled. Monomi, Terasu and Pasekur began raining magical spells and missiles on the bears, killing one, but the other clawed Goro to the ground, rendering him unconscious and very nearly killing him outright. This bear was finally dispatched, however, when Monomi and Pasekur bravely charged forward into its teeth to save their comrade.

The three philosophers and their trusty Emishi guide then began swimming downstream back towards Okoppe, with the river mussel goddess in tow....But not before they had noticed that the entire episode had been witnessed by one of the goddess's Emishi slaves from the top of the waterfall....

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