Actual Play – Death at Tsuma (3/22/2010)

GM: Travis Lindquist
Players: Eric, Omar, Alec, Steve, Sean, Chris and Tracy. Woops (see below)
System: Fine… L5R

We picked up Monday’s game right where we left off: Bayushi Hakuseki failing a seduction attempt on Miya Washichi… violence ensuing.

The game had some really beautiful symmetry in it, which I’m especially appreciative of because much of that involved my character.

Early on Matsu Rei was taking testimony regarding the killing of Hakuseki (or the creature of shadow that was impersonating her, read: Ninube) and later she was on trial for murder herself.

When looking for a reason to get people’s minds off the missing Emperor maho was suggested as a decoy, later it appears maho (or at least the shadow dragon’s influence) may be at work.

Alec mentioned early on that he wished there were rank 4 samurai helping out during his Topaz Championship, then later that evening his character was sabotaging one of the events, making completion nearly impossible. Is that irony?

Blow by blow

Here’s the scene break down, sped up in some places as I tend to get verbose in others.

Shimizu leaps in and gets ginsu on Hakuseki, Blood all over. In his rage he sees her shadow mocking him… then it flits away and he peruses, chopping it up as well. The shadow offers his mother’s life back but vengeance will be his.

Tso-Lou finds the Dragonfly contestant boasting about how easily he defeated a Matsu in the tournament. Tso-Lou addressed the Tonbo’s sensei and challenges him to a duel for his failure at teaching his student discretion. The sensei, Mirumoto Uto apologizes and agrees to the duel, once he has received his daimyo’s permission.

As the dinner chime is sounded, there are cries from a remote part of the city. Tso-Lou fans the flames of curiosity and is brings the courtiers to the scene. Shinji speaks with the Kami and finds out much of what transpired. Rei shows up with Matsu guards to take testimony and finds Washichi, Shimzu and Ryu on the scene. After a report it’s clear that that Shimzu has cut down some creature of the shadow and Rei decrees as much. Outside, amongst the courtiers however, different stories are being told. Tso-Lou promotes the notion that this evil is endemic of the Emperor’s sickness and we would all do well to pray for his health rather than rumormonger about his whereabouts. While popular, other notions were put forth as well, first that his was a curse on the Crane and another than it was a curse on the Topaz Championship.
Another great feast

Over dinner the ronin contestants approached Washichi again and nearly begged to be his collective yojimbo for the duration of the tournament. While Washichi continued to encourage them and even invite them to dine with us, he didn’t accept their station… The ronin would sleep on the temple floors tonight.
Rei and Washichi also came to odds over the question of the Khan’s march on Rich Frog. She could not dispute he was a great warrior but his actions were reprehensible. She left the table in anger and when she was stopped by the meditating Tonbo in the way, she assaulted him a warning that he would do well to never cross her path again.

That he Ki-Rin clan had never returned from the Burning Sands. Though I’ve heard in courts many of the Ide oppose the Khan, that is just more political maneuvering of the Unicorn, hiding their disgrace from the other clans. Even so, I care not, the damage is done, Nimuro is dead, and I have failed.

Years ago when I joined the Sapphire Magistrates, I was sure they would come to our aid. I had fought in the Battle of Ten Banners, under Ikoma Tso-Lou no less and saw how they held off not one but two armies. Nimuro sent me to gain the aid of the Sapphire Navy. No, he didn’t speak to me personally, but I still have the letter that bears his chop. “Gunzo Rei, in you I entrust the duty of joining the Sapphire Magistrates and ensuring that the Tsuruchi’s order comes to our aid at Rich Frog.”
When the Sapphire Navy came it was too late. Followed closely by the Emerald Legions we sailed up the river to find Sukoshi Zutsu captured by the Khan. He had killed my champion Matsu Nimuro in single combat. I heard that Chagatai’s katana took the head of my champion in one blow. The blow I should have taken in his place.

Was I mad at Washichi for admiring the Khan’s prowess? Yes but I left the table in shame not anger, remembering my own failure. That a silly child of the Tonbo happened to cross my path was unfortunate. However, perhaps he will learn that the feast hall is not a place for meditation. Hide your troubles in the solace of your own heart. That is the only place for them.

Defend the Leader

That night, so as to blow off steam, Captain Rei invited many to sake and a friendly game of Defend the Leader. A number of the Daidoji (and other non-lion) didn’t know the rules of the game (they are rarely taught) so parts of it played out more like a brawl than a battle. Midway through the battle Rei’s Gunzo took her place as leader, while she slipped out the back, alone.

That night Shiko had business of his own, he invited Asako Fujiko into the Sapphire Magistrates. Though he did not recognize them, this is the man that loves his wife and challenged him to an Ikebana completion for her honor years ago. He inadvertently invited his sworn enemy into

Impressive Work

The next morning, before the morning ceremonies we met with Otomo Koreno who was impressed by our work so far and reminded us to not let our personal affairs interfere with our purpose.

Almost on queue we headed out to the morning ceremonies and Rei was taken into custody by the Daidoji guard. Tso-Lou was taken for questioning as well. As it turns out there is testimony that two lion were seen killing the Tonbo contestant last night and the only two lion not accounted for the night before were Matsu Rei and Ikoma Tamoi (Tso-Lou’s sister).

The scene itself was great, full of Daidoji who had last night drunk sake and played games with both Lion. They deeply regretted what they had to do, but duty surpassed their personal wishes. As Rei handed over her ancestral blade, she heard the voices of her ancestors, often kept at bay by the swords presence. “Yes, go willingly into the dark like I did. Surrender your blade and die a cowards death.”

An investigation ensued where evidence to the contrary was found… however evidence only goes so far. Bits of torn kimono and missing mempo don’t stand up against testimony in a trial, and so far no favorable testimony has come forth.

What rocked

A lot of this story was about me, so there’s no complaints there. Rei has been fairly reserved in sharing her life, thoughts, etc and this trial could bring out a lot of them. So could her in further interactions with Washichi. I look forward to both.

Woot, I get to be a prisoner. Character masochism doesn’t get much better than being deprived of all your rights in the fiction but still having agency in the narrative. Fun times for me.

I just love how Ryu and Shiko are messing with the championship. It’s such a good story for why the Topaz championship is always cursed… because the alumni come back to mess it up.

Hakuseki’s story was wrapped up, which is something I know Travis wanted to wrap up and Steve wanted vengeance on. The story would have had a lot more to it if Miyazaki was still here but as is it tied up a loose end nicely.

We made some good progress towards distracting folks from the emperor but instead of countering our efforts with some becoming more fervent about searching for him (which would have ended in a butting of heads) Travis created some other agendas that were equally bad but not incompatible with ours. I like it when things get messy like that.

I loved having my ancestors haunt me. I think I’ll have a few scenes next game talking to them. Shouting “You see grandmother, I will not bend. I will not break!” Awesome sauce.

What could have been improved

I felt like many of the characters were ready to assume that Rei and Tamoi didn’t kill the Dragonfly too quickly. I’m hoping next session they start looking for more testimony, I think that should be fun.

It felt like the game flew by and was over too quick. I think I need to get a clock in that room. Also we started late, which doesn’t help. I’m going to try and get things rolling close to 7:30 next time.