This new scenario is being run by Sean Z. Casey, who was previously playing the role of The Widow in the preceding scenario. I had asked if he’d like to run the next one, and I’m thrilled that he accepted. Yay, I finally get to actually play my own game! I’m bringing in a new Prospect character, and with this log of events I’m going to write much of it in first-person, from that character’s perspective. At least, I’m going to try to. Given the multi-character perspective split that this game tends to encourage, I won’t be present in every scene, so those will of course be written as a third party account.
But this should be fun. I’m excited, clearly.
Currently Complete: Session #1
Session 1: Flashback and Arrival
We open the new scenario with Sean taking over as Sensei. Cards are dealt and the Salute kicks things off.
Setup and New Motobushi Introduction!
In this scenario I’m coming in as a player with a brand new Prospect character. Her name is Mei Li, a foreigner to this land – the “Chinese” analog to this fictional setting’s “Japanese” flavor. The basics:
- Role/Rank: Shinmai
- Fighting Style: Gotou-Jutsu (from the expansion)
- Bike: Uma – the Horse (also from the expansion)
- Birth Sign: The Outsider
- Evolutions: Strike and Hand
- Brotherhood Sacrifice: Ebisu punched my horse after a ride!
- Murder Sacrifice: I killed Tenchi, and threw down his head as a gift to join the Pack.
- Relationship Sacrifice: I gave up my identity as one of my home country in order to join the Pack.
- Hope: To return to my family and convince them that my cause is true.
- Hate: I cut his head off as a bargaining piece and revenge (tenchi)
- Love: TBD
- Doom: TBD
My Story: I had always been a strong-willed lass, and frequently left home to travel around the relative safety of my peaceful nation. As a member of the upper classes, I’d never really had to worry about dangers on the road, and traveled with comfort and ease. For the last few years of my teens, I’d been saving up my money to go on a long backpacking trip through the “renewed lands” of the neighboring nation. They’d had a war over a decade ago, but the new ruling party has done wonders with revitalizing the country and attracting tourists from afar. On my 19th birthday, I filled a large backpack with belongings, saddled up my faithful horse Moon-and-Sky, and rode off to explore these reclaimed lands.
The first few weeks were easy enough, as the border regions were the nicest and most settled. I even traveled as far south as the lovely Oak Harbor, and stayed a night at a luxurious resort called Rises-the-Dawn. I rode on down to a neighboring town to sample local cuisine, and heard about a party that night that some local band of travelers was planning on throwing. How exciting! But lunch didn’t sit right with me, and I got real sick and must have passed out, because next thing I knew I was gagged, bound, and stuffed in a stinking fish barrel!
I don’t know what would have happened to me had the Fallen Legion Motobushi Pack not broken me free of that horrible predicament. I owe them my life, that’s for sure. And upon learning that the masters of the local resort had actually sold me to the fishmonger, and had already done so to countless other travelers and locals alike, I was overtaken by rage. I would not just travel like some foreign idiot princess. I would make them suffer for their selfish ways. I renounced my heritage and threw down the fishmonger’s head, which I’d cut off myself, as my fee for entry.
Note: We had a good group chat about bringing in a character with a Horse among a group of demon-bound bikers. I was considering the Dualsport as an alternate, but I really liked the idea of role-playing the consummate Outsider, right down to the vehicle of choice. Additionally, the knowledge that she’d have to part ways with that horse in order to fully join the pack would be a great future roleplaying opportunity. So we agreed: The Horse it is.
Opening Flashback: Kenjuro Calls Out the Taicho
We open with the scenario-starting Flashback, looking at a moment four years in the past. We choose to explore a deed from Michi-aka’s page: “Kenjuro called her out in front of the Pack, but she had to let it go.” The scene setup is that the Pack has been riding hard for days, and is in dire need of some revelry to raise its spirits. Michi-aka stops for camp, and then announces to all that they will break open the supplies and party hard. Kenjuro, frustrated like everyone else, knows they just plain have no supplies and calls her out on it. The rest of the pack gets angry hearing this.
- Gambit #1: Can she calm the pack? yes but: pack camaraderie takes a significant hit for the long term.
- Gambit #2: Can she find suitable replacement supplies: no, but in searching for them they did ambush an elk-rider scout and ripped him apart.
- Gambit #3: Does she make sure kenjuro knows his place? yes, and: he takes it fairly well and understanding, all things considered.
- Michi-aka: “Promise what’s right, deliver what’s necessary.”
- Kenjuro: “Challenge when necessary – no sooner, no later.”
The Raid: Aftermath
(Note: Chronologically, our play session picks up right after the last scenario’s conclusion.)
(Investment Question: One of you has a grudge against an important Gnat official? Answer: Kenjuro, and it’s his sister!)
My first raid with the Legion was a bloodbath. They had yet to approve my petition for joining, as they clearly had more pressing concerns. But I rode with anyway – the entire town was joining in, after all, so clearly everyone was invited. But while I was there to prove myself to my saviours, these simple fisherfolk were either really eager for some life-changing action, or just too drawn into the collective passion of the moment to stop their violent momentum just yet.
In the end, they became their sheepish selves once more. The fight was gone from their eyes, replaced by that obvious yearning for the return to the normalcy of their complacent lives. They gathered their own dead, lamented their choices, and prayed that the actions of the day would not come back to ruin them. They were doomed, I knew; they had stepped above their lifelong lots and shed the blood of their masters, and as the war has proven already, their masters do not forget.
But apparently my fate was to be decidedly different. I had proven my spirit, my commitment to bringing the final death of the enemy, and the Fallen Legion accepted me. Even through my lack of familiarity with their cultures, we all still managed to share a mutual moment of somber recognition: we may have won this day, but we’re still outcasts, this place isn’t home, and for us these places will likely never matter. No matter how we fight and win today, the war is lost, and it’s all we can do to fight on.
As the fires died down from the sacking of the resort, my new future brother-to-be Kenjuro – the “tail gunner” of this pack of warriors – was alarmed by some ominous revelation he had learned from secret documents uncovered during the previous hour of looting. According to these records, his own younger sister Ryoko was somehow involved with these “Gnats” – their own derogatory appellation for the party of “Nationals” that rule this nation. In fact, if the documents were legitimate (and the Legion seemed to question this legitimacy something fierce, for reasons I would learn further down the road), Ryoko’s rank within this Gnat military was important enough that she’d probably had it for some time.
Kenjuro was wrought with anger as this, and practically demanded that we learn more. He needed to talk to her face-to-face. Since many had escaped the slaughter, and we hadn’t seen her body among the dead, we could only assume that she had escaped with the others. The Legion’s decision was unanimous: Immediate Pursuit.
Thoughts While on The Road
We have now been on the road four days. Some of the brothers are clearly upset that a horseback rider is among their ranks, and their “enforcer” even went so far as to punch him during one of our breaks. Everyone had a good laugh at that, and some even goaded me to fight back. I did not know what to do! Their ways are strange and savage in many ways, and yet strangely focused and refined in others. I can only assume my behaviour was not out of line, as the dust settled and nothing else was said (NOTE: leaving this vague, for revisiting in possible future Flashbacks). Moon-and-Sky was thankfully unharmed by the encounter, and I imagine Ebisu’s hand is smarting. One does not simply punch a champion trail horse like Moon-and-Sky and come away unscathed.
I am doubly troubled by this because I had initially seen Ebisu as something of a role model, if not a potential mentor within the Legion. I may lack a deeper understanding of his home culture, but I can see his silent rage and dissent directly in his piercing eyes. I had hheard from Takajuro how Ebisu was single-handedly responsible for the destruction of the slavers I was supposed to be sold to, and for that I must be forever grateful. But he clearly rages at something deeper than the wounds of the war, and my suspicions direct that rage at none other than the Taicho herself. He clearly chafes under her command – or lack thereof.
For her part, Michi-aka seems to rule with something I can only call a “no-bullshit sense of humor.” She lets the Legion enjoy their laughter, and she doesn’t seem to exert her control very often. Nor does she seems surprised when someone else challenges her, as if she’s expecting it. But that could also be the nature of the challenger – so far all such moments of dissent have originated with the Widow. Perhaps that’s why the former Taicho’s wife chose to remain behind in Rainbow Maiden?
Of Kenjuro, I have seen only battle and determination. I have not known him before this current mission of his, and know little of the man beyond such dedicated focus as carries the moment. I should learn more of him.
The fourth day was punctuated by an encounter on the road. I would have said “unexpected” there, but I got the feeling from the charged energies around these rugged warriors that they were expecting pretty much anything at any time. We had been riding through this broken terrain for days, heading deeper inland and into steadily more “reclaimed” vistas, and the brothers were growing increasingly fight-thirsty. When an opportunity finally presented itself, they – or I should say, “we” – pounced on it like starved dogs.
The enemy – our quarry – had been ahead of us by a good day, and were keeping us consistently thus paced; I suspect the slowness of my horse compared to the power of the Legion’s engines contributed significantly to our own slowness of pursuit. Nevertheless, we caught up to them on that fourth day, or at least some group of them left behind to stall us. If stalling was their tactic, they were less than successful, and if killing us was on their minds then they failed completely.
Charging directly from the rear was none other than Kenjuro himself, throttling hard through the ranks of his own pack. He called for assistance and I leaped to action, again eager to show my worth. The battle – my first! – was quick and violent… and if truth must be told in these pages, it was also somewhat disappointing. Not only were they too eager to relent, but I am more than a little troubled by my own passion to prove myself. When I saw their “Gnat” uniforms as they blocked the road ahead, I felt the same rage as when I learned the nature of my earlier imprisonment. And when Kenjuro called for arms, that rage colored my eyes with the narrow-focused hue of blood, and my fingernails again remembered what it felt like to claw at my tormentor’s face and saw through his neckbone.
Even now, as I write by the campfire (and ignore the stares from the brothers), even now they twitch and relive that experience. I must say, the feeling is not altogether unwelcome.
(Duel Notes: Kenjuro charges! I serve second. Blood vs Influence, Kenjuro leads; stained initiative, counter, counter (repurposed from discard! plus relentless); they escalate; counter + relentless, they concede, I ESCALATE again, they counter, I stunt with badass, they counter, i counter with stains, and win! We kill them, but an omen from Sensei’s deck was revealed)
As we dispatched their fallen and searched them for useful spoils – loot, tools, information, anything – a dread omen passed before me with a chill. I had been wounded – it hurt me more than I would allow the others to see – and my blood stained the ground before me. It must have been a trick of the wind, but for just a moment it pooled into my own language’s word for “death,” before flowing and scattering away.
We found some worthwhile pieces of useful loot (gambit: do you find loot? yes, and a lot of it: 2 morale and 1 operations – shit, our Morale is at 14, nice!) and then I suggested to a hard-breathing Kenjuro that we make camp and rest (the pain was intense, worse than I’d ever had to face). I then learned one of the Legion’s strange taboos: “Never start or conclude a journey on a Thursday.” With the next town only a few hours away, it would not serve the brothers to camp so soon. We would ride without sleep that night, no rest allowed until the morning, for reasons I do not understand.
Welcome to Seven Bells
(Investment Question: This new town is famous for what? Our answer: beer! legendary beer from the Seven Bells Monastery)
As the first rays of the sun heralded the new dawn, our road-weary crew arrived at the slumbering town of Seven Bells. Just on the wooded-over entrance to the town, I spied a traveler’s sign, with some faded writing scrawled over it. No one else paid it any heed, so I pulled aside to read it over. I had to reference my traveler’s guidebook to the local language, but I made out the words “The Undressed Blade is Banished.” Must be some idiom of local significance? Also on it was – gasp! – the sigil of one of this country’s famous Dragons!
(Investment Question: So… what is a dragon? Answer: they are the origins of the great fighting styles, great masters of warfare who remained strangely neutral during the War itself. No one you know has seen them, but you know a guy who knows a guy who was driven crazy by one, and you saw some great warrior defeat an army and he had to be one… But regardless, they are ancient, powerful, and no one who uses a Dragon’s sigil illegitimately tends to live for very long.)
I took the sign off its post and caught up with Kenjuro in the tail of the convoy. He seemed somewhat startled, not-quite-offended even, when I showed him the sign, and he then explained yet another of this group’s strange taboos: “Never accept written communication.” While that makes no sense to me at all, he explained that it had to do with events of the Legion’s “first founding,” and that I should just accept it. I feel like he and I bonded earlier, however, so I’m trusting that he won’t speak of my transgression to the Taicho.
When no one was looking, I referenced my guidebook and learned that this particular sigil is of the Dragon of The Gun. My assumption about the message, then, would be either that non-guns aren’t allowed, or that no violence at all is allowed. I’m assuming the former; the idea of a Gun Dragon shunning violence is one that I just find plain ludicrous.
(Mechanics Note: The Prospect’s chosen Birth Sign here is The Outsider. By causing offense through lack of cultural understanding – both to the dragon and Kenjuro – she activated her Ki trigger and regained Ki. The amount regained was based on Will, as her actions were direct and intentional).
All that said: Seven Bells! This place had been on my list of locations to visit while here, so I’m thankful I can at least accomplish some of the goals from my “former life,” so to speak. I understand that their beer is legendary, and only released to the world once a decade. Oh, I do so hope that time is today!
Tired and jittery, the brothers were expecting more fighting, an ambush or something. But as we rode through Seven Bells, everything seemed… asleep. The sun had risen, and my understanding of these back woods towns is that everyone is up and at it before dawn, catching their food and farming the hills and doing whatever it is they do to keep afloat. Here it seemed that no one was out. We say some faces peeking from curtains and doorways, but the curtains and doors would close before we could hail them.
Eventually we did meet someone, who in fact came to us directly. He was apparently some old acquaintance of Ebisu’s, name of Taka, and I’m assuming from his outfit that he was or maybe even still is a monk of the local monastery. He invites everyone in for tea (another weird custom I don’t fully understand), but the Taicho commanded me to stay on watch outside. Ah well.
They were in there for a while. The watch was boring. My horse ate some grass. That’s pretty much it.
When they came out, it seemed Taka was in somewhat better spirits (note: Kenjuro had gained his respect through a gambit), and the other dozen members of the pack appeared refreshed from their tea. Apparently Michi-aka promised Taka that we’d shun violence while within the town, a prospect that I found both relieving and just a tiny, tiny bit disappointing (my fingers twitched that way again, at least).
(Note: third-party recount of a separate scene)
Kenjuro and Ebisu split away and go off to investigate the old hotel where Taka said that the Gnats were hiding out. When they get there, they do in fact see a gigantic bear taking up the entire attached stable. At the door to the place, a Gnat guard is standing watch, and he blocks their attempt at entry.
Kenjuro demands to see Ryoko, claiming to be her brother. The guard is disbelieving, but goes to get her. Gambit: Does Ryoko bother to acknowledge this request? Yes, and she even comes out to speak to him herself! She basically tells him to take his men and leave (assuming that he is actually in charge). He just turns around and walks off, confirming what he was afraid of: that she was one of them, a traitor, a spy, a National. He knows that if the conversation continues, he will likely be unable to stop his own inevitable rash action.
But DUEL! As he walks, Ryoko challenges kenjuro. The player is uncertain, but good old Ebisu steps forward and accepts in his stead, with Kenjuro acting as second, her Honor vs ebisu’s Honor. Duel Flow: her initiative, his counter, counter, counter, her block! his escalate (his gorilla war spirit manifests physically in order to up the threat level of the debate!), she blocks! back to the first stage, but Kenjuro escalates again! and she blocks again! Finally Ebisu concedes.
We end the session there…
Session #1 Conclusion
Session 2: ???
- The purpose of lessons ties into the Sensei rules: everything is circular. BRING THEM BACK INTO PLAY.
- Fratricide Techs DO NOT count against Prospects, as they are not technically Brothers.
- When you establish a duel, it’s important to make sure each side states what they are fighting for. In the end, the winner gets their narrative results applied, in addition to any mechanical output dictated by the rules. When you concede, you are allowing your opponent’s desired narrative outcome to take effect.