Monday, 6 August 2012

[Daojin City Blues] The Vanity of Yao Lin, Part 1

We opened with the gang of four making their way to the Long Sing Casino, the city's most decadent pleasure barge and a wholly incorporated operation of the Black Swan Triad. Sanjeev, using his contacts in the underground fight scene, had heard of an opportunity for a big job with the Green Spider, one of the Black Swans' up-and-coming operators. The PCs, all being flat broke, leapt at the opportunity.

At the casino, Xiao Hu used his Spirit Tongue move to make contact with the spirits of greed and jade that swarmed over the gaming floor like mosquitos. He learned the true name of the mightiest spirit, Leng Su, a bloated spirit-caterpillar who tempted him with the promise of wealth at the Mijatsu tables - a temptation that the impetuous Little Tiger was ill-equipped to resist. Only the wisdom and quick action of Nobunaga was able to drag him away from the tables before he landed himself in trouble.

In the private rooms, Sanjeev and Li Feng negotiated with the Green Spider, an elegant woman who had clearly mastered a martial-arts style unknown to them. The job on offer was a complicated one - stealing an idea. Yao Lin, a powerful archmage who commanded the secret of giving life to Porcelain Men, had vanished several weeks ago, leaving his secluded estate and factory open to a raid. The Black Swan would pay handsomely to learn the secret of the golem master's art. After a brief Parley, a price was arranged that was suitable to both sides, with a small payment of jade upfront and the rest on delivery of the secret.

Deciding there was no time to waste, the group hastened immediately toward Yao Lin's tower, whose flag fluttered above the city's wealthy Temple District. Xiao Hu, as a child of the tough streets of the Jade City, took point as they scurried through the darkening night. Unfortunately, he blew his Perilous Journey roll and led them straight into the rioting strikers of the Dragonside railworks, just as the city magistrates prepared to attack the unionists with alchemical weapons. Only quick action by Sanjeev saved them from a night in the Halls of Justice, leading the group down an alleyway and away from the blossoming clouds of pain-smoke.

They finally made it to the Temple District, gasping and panting, avoiding patrols of magistrates and house guards, only to find their way blocked by the high fences of Prosperity Garden, the city's largest park, strictly off-limits to those who did not hold property in the Temple District. Just as the would-be thieves prepared to climb the fence, Nobunaga used his Magnetic Detection Goggles to scan the fence for wards. A powerful anbaric field surged through the fence's iron pillars, with enough voltage to fry any foolish enough to touch the fence. Clearly, an alternate route was preferable - which Xiao Hu was quick to identify. The fence surrounded the park on all sides save on the side of the cliff overlooking the Jade Ward, where a picturesque waterfall from Prosperity Garden tumbled down to join the Jin River. By climbing the cliff, they could bypass the anbaric ward and much of the park's security.

Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as that. Though Sanjeev was able to climb the cliff with ease, followed quickly by Nobunaga and Xiao Hu, the ranger Li Feng's endurance and strength failed him, nearly sending him plunging to his death. He was saved only by Sanjeev's determination not to let him fall. The Shatranji warrior was dragged over rocks as he clung to Li Feng's rope, suffering brutal wounds before he was able to anchor himself and haul Li Feng to the clifftop. 

As the two lay gasping and bleeding, Xiao Hu attempted to channel his Chi Healing powers in order to aid his allies - but his youthful inexperience led him to disaster. Overcharging had drawn energy from the surrounding water spirits, driving them into a zealous rage. They summoned their servants - crocodilian beasts that lurked within the park's gentle streams and reflecting pools - and set them upon the trespassers. Though the adventurers were able to demonstrate their mastery of the martial arts and quickly dispatch the beasts and the spirits, they did not escape unharmed - no member of the party escaped the battle without a nasty scratch or two.

After making their way through a topiary labyrinth and a brief scuffle with the park's guards, the adventurers came to the foot of the cliff below Yao Lin's estate. No entrance was obvious, until Li Feng discovered a secret entrance through the cliff-face into a room with a pillar of water flowing upwards. Seeing no alternative, Sanjeev stripped off his armour and flung himself into the pillar, swimming up into a fountain that lay in the courtyard of Yao Lin's estate - only to be confronted by a horde of heavily-armed porcelain warriors.

The other three quickly followed, but it seemed there was no winning this battle. The warrior's mighty spear and the artificer's Etheric Emitter Glove dispatched several porcelain men, but they continued to advance implacably on the group. Finally, Sanjeev cried out to the others to flee into the tower, as he threw himself against the porcelain army in a sacrificial last stand.

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We ended the session there - Sanjeev's player wouldn't be able to make it to any further sessions, so it seemed appropriate for him to sacrifice himself heroically against the porcelain horde - unfortunately, because he'd just gained a level, along with Nobunaga and Xiao Hu. Stay tuned for session two and the climactic resolution...

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