L5R JYTB Campaign Report 17

14 August, 2010

Hunters hunt Hunters

While Hida Yo serves on the Wall, Toku Kobo has returned to Monkey Lands to attend the marriage of his Daimyo and his own.  Toku Jihime, Daimyo of the Monkey, takes Shinjo Yamada as her husband, helping to diversify the Monkey’s economic base by bringing in a set of fine horses to be bred and raised in the lands of the Monkey.  Toku Kobo takes Matsu Sakurako as his bride, the proud Matsu is devoted to the ideal of loyal service and will not fail at her tasks, even that of being a wife . . . even if her husband is not the man she had hoped for.  (Kobo -and T2 Kobo’s player- has done nothing but complain since the marriage was announced, welcome to the bitter betrothal disadvantage Toku Kobo.  You asked for it.)

It is a quiet winter court in the Monkey lands, spent mostly adjusting to the new daimyo’s husband and -for Kobo- having a wife.  Among the other attendees was a young Fox clan shugenja, Kitsune Kyoden, who had been recruited into the service of the Imperial Magistrate, Doji Akira, and was assigned to assist Toku Kobo while at court.  To Kobo’s relief, as soon as court is over, he is sent to Dancing Bamboo Village to the far west of Monkey lands to investigate the disappearance of three hunters over the winter.  Accompanying Kobo is Toku Tsukiyama, a newly Kitsuki-trained investigator, her eta Eien, and the budoka, Taro.

The snow is still on the ground as they arrive at Dancing Bamboo Village.  The villagers are not overly forthcoming, but not surprising as they are dealing with samurai.  But they learn that three hunters, Maro, Ryo and Inu, had all vanished over the last three months hunting alone at the rate of roughly one a month.  The investigators realize that this village is right along the Scorpion border and decide to tread carefully and head out along the hunters’ trails.  Once in the forest, the Kitsune asks an animal spirit for help which provides the cryptic information that ‘hunters hunt hunters.’  Their first day on the trail ends with them tracking wood gathering, notable as it was dragged away from the village, which ended in a small hollow which had been lined with rocks and used as a base for a funeral pyre.  The spirits of earth told them that three bodies had been burnt there and that the person who set the fire ‘tread lightly upon me.’

That night, our heroes entirely fail to notice . . . something (Soshi Hai scouting their camp and stealing one of Kobo’s arrows).  The next day, among lightly falling snow the Kitsune convinces one of the air kami to lead them to the nearest other person.  Unfortunately, they soon loose sight of the kami and find themselves surrounded by Scorpion soldiers.  They are escorted to the hunting camp of Bayushi Kari, an older Scorpion, dressed practically in muted colors with a mask of black silk that falls from beneath his eyes.  Kari has a nearly invisible assistant, Soshi Hai, who shadows him.  Kari is happy to talk to the characters and -after some verbal sparring- finally sighs and hands Toku Kobo three koku.  “I had hoped to save you face.  The three hunters had crossed over into Scorpion lands and we killed them as potential threats.  The koku is recompense to your daimyo for the loss of productive workers.”

Toku Kobo and the rest accept this answer and head directly back to Kyuden Toku, stopping only long enough to warn the villagers not to cross into Scorpion lands.  While his daimyo is not entirely happy with the situation, it does not warrant further conflict with the Scorpion.

Pulling back the Curtain– What the characters missed by being in a hurry to get into the woods and using magic as a short cut, that the village was looking surprisingly prosperous for such a small and marginal outpost.  In fact, the ancestral shrine had recently been improved.  If they had asked, the villagers would have let them know that they were extremely aware of where the Scorpion border was.  Further conventional searching in the woods would have shown a clearing where several trees had been scarred by recent arrow fire.

What was really going on: Bayushi Kari is a retired magistrate and master hunter, he is bored beyond belief with his current post.  He hired the hunters to meet him one on one in the woods and their families would be paid a bonus if they could wound or kill him.  Some of the players even mentioned a “Most Dangerous Gamer” sort of situation, which was entirely accurate, but they failed to follow it up.  Kari was entirely unconcerned with legal trouble as he was entirely within his legal right to kill “armed” peasants on his land.

Notes:  So, it ended up being a much shorter game than I had expected but at least Toku Kobo did not get himself killed.  I had hoped that he would distinguish himself so I could justify promoting him to a Monkey Clan magistrate but no such luck.

Z is back after being away for the Summer and the Kitsune is his new character.  It is his first time playing a shugenja and I suspect he has veered more into combat spells than needed but time will tell.

To the final interlude (Report 18) of this block.

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