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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Musings after reading World of Gor and Tales of Gor

I have nothing but good words about the World of Gor. It is an almost invaluable* the world-setting as presented in the novels. Period. No objections on it.
I have, so far (I haven't read it to the end, but I'm close) one objection on Tales of Gor. (As an aside, do you know how often I have that few objections? It's an amazing feat that Desborough's book only provokes that few objections from me).

What is that one thing that I disagree with?
"Only the Panni** have systematized unarmed combat. The rest of Goreans rely on (natural ability)". I might be paraphrasing it slightly.
But this contradicts the books - in many, many places.
First, it is known that even peasants practice wrestling. Wrestling is always the first systematized style to emerge wherever humans live, but rarely remains the only one, unless the practitioners wear heavy armour (not the case on Gor). And given how many empty-handed styles have evolved from the use of weapons, it just makes no sense to me.

Second, the fighting slaves are mentioned to be "the real masters of unarmed combat" on Gor. Who trains them? (Hint: probably warriors, if they're lucky). And I can't believe the Caste of Assassins would have overlooked the use of such techniques to quickly subdue and kill a target that's hard to reach with weapons - say, a rich Merchant.

Third, Tarl and others repeatedly show quite high levels of mastery of the unarmed combat in the series. Here's an example I found in Magicians of Gor.
"I seized one of the lads by the wrist and, drawing him quickly across and about my body, and over my extended right leg, flung him to the stones, where I held him, my grip shifted now to the palm of his hand, his wrist bent, far back. He screamed with pain. Another fraction of a hort, the least additional pressure, and his wrist would be broken."
That's a move that's well-known to everybody who has ever trained in martial arts. But I don't remember Tarl having been a fighting slave - and anyway, he was doing such moves after the first time he was on Gor, while exiled on Earth.
Another example is at the end of the books where an Earthman brought to Gor obtains freedom (after being a Fighting Slave...sorry for not digging the exact title, but I can guess it was Something of Gor).
There's a moment when a group discusses killing a man empty-handed. One of the men gathered says something like "maybe, but only if you're very strong".
An Warrior corrects him: "It doesn't require strength, just skill".
The former Fighting Slave merely nods and confirms.

Thus, I'd conjecture that unarmed combat should be an option for both Warriors and Peasants, not to mention Assassins (and former Fighting Slaves). Though of course, weapon skills should be higher and more valuable - but one can hope the fighting system itself would take care of that!

That aside, I admit I'm tempted to produce a table for Gorean Chess. It sure seems to have...unexpected possibilities!


*Well, technically, I know exactly how much it's worth - just check the price on Drivethru;). But if you plan to run this game, you really want the setting book.
**Japanese transplanted on Gor.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The story of my Exaltation

That's about my current character, the Patrician of the Realm (in Exalteds's...
Last session he got Exalted. As the GM put it, "you can't get any better as Solar material than that" (Solars are Exalted by the head of the setting's pantheon, the most powerful god of them all - and are thus the most powerful Exalted. She thinks they're also the most arrogant...which I wouldn't dispute).
How did I prove myself arrogant enough to get Exalted (after quite a few sessions of play)? By negotiating, believe it or not!

It was a good negotiation with Fair Folk. These are, in Exalted, the kind of "fairies" you see in old tales - the kind that come, charm you, steal your soul, and age your body beyond repair;).
Then they make a tale about it, because Fair Folk are creatures of tales.
Now, one you have a picture of the Fair Folk in mind, imagine meeting old, powerful Fair Folks which were powerful enough that decades ago to have captured a Lunar Exalt, chosen by the second greatest goddess out there. (How did I know that? Well, that's the Lunar that had accompanied me to that place, as she had volunteered to guard me - I'm starting to think she's developing a thing for me...)
Imagined those Fair Folk? Good.
Those are the Fair Folk I negotiated with from the position of strength.
Before becoming an Exalted myself - remember, I was still an unproven mortal.
After transgressing on their turf, which - in that area - would grant them "rights" over my soul.
Insolence, you say? It's part of the genre!
Hey, the very reason we were there was totally S&S: my mentor in sorcerous arts sent me to harvest the poison of a ancient god-snake as big as several houses. We were in the process - the god-snake didn't mind, as nothing less than a deer counted as worthy of his menu, and he likes when people use his poison to make medicine - when the Fair Folk came.

Thing is...in this place, the mortals live on the huge trees, hundreds of meters high. The Fair Folk and undead, by ancient contract, don't go up - but anyone who gets down, can be freely feasted upon.
As they put it after appearing at midnight, "by an ancient contract, you're ours - but please amuse us, we're willing to listen to your pleading..."
Me: "Well, I'm rich. I can buy 10 slaves and lower them to you here, or 20 slaves".
"An unscrupulous one? I like that! Let's negotiate."
"...but for 20 slaves, you make a volt-face, leave, and make sure we're not disturbed by anyone else in the next two days and nights".
I was willing to suffer their presence in the vicinity for the next couple of days.
And, as I pointed out to them, they can kill me in unimaginably awful ways, or they can get 10 or 20 other souls to feed on in the same way.
"She alone is worth more than that", they said, pointing to my Lunar companion.
"You don't stand a chance to catch her, anyways."
"We had captured her already. Didn't she tell you?"
"When was that?"
As it turned out, 50 or 60 years ago. The Exalted live for much longer.
My character had been around Exalted (Dragon-Blooded Exalted, but still) his whole life. He just smirked, knowing that in 50 years, an Exalted martial artist, like the Lunar, can go from initiate to master.
"Good luck capturing her again. Anyways, I'm negotiating for myself - she can climb those trees back faster than you can imagine, I've seen it. So, what's your word?"
Basically, I got them to the point where they wanted the slaves, and they wanted me. Decision points...
So the solution of the fair folk lady was to try and seduce me to give them both. With loads of Willpower, I resisted - much to her dismay - though she was tempting, and my character does like seductive women like her.
Of course, I knew she could just decide to take my soul anyway. So my rejection was formulated in the language of stories.
"No, much as you're beautiful...it's still a no. Though it's tempting!"
"Then why don't you come?"
"Ah, but consider what the story would be: I met a beautiful fair folk lady, and we fucked in the forest. Sounds like a young buck vaunting his exploits! Boring! But then, consider instead this story: I came across a beautiful woman of the Fair Folk, seductive as a dream, who wanted me for her bed - but despite me wanting her as well, we could never do that, for the mortals are too different. So we separated, still longing for each other...Now, that's a story! It speaks of wishes unfulfilled, of burning lust and desire left unsatisfied - because of higher reasons. It is a tragedy to the participants, and hints at deeper truths and plot devices at work, and yes, maybe, of a continuation!"
She was instantly sold, and thus the negotiation concluded;).
And when they left, I was feeling great, excited and powerful, while the Lunar almost had to pick her jaw off the grass.
Not the least, because I was shining in gold.
With the colours, and caste mark, of the Swords of the Dawn.
My laughter erupted. I went after the Fair Folk, and used that surge of power, such as I haven't felt since then, to kill the hobgoblins guards of the Fair Folk Nobles, to break off the man's hands and legs, and knock the lady out. I brought them back.
I had noticed the Lunar felt all tense just by seeing them.
"Was any of them displeasing towards you during your captivity, dear?"
"He most certainly was!"
I handed her my knife, handle first.
"Start cutting him. If you cut him too little, I'll finish him off."
She took her time, and he was dead at the end. In the meantime, I bound the woman before she would wake, and spoke with the ancient god about myself.
What was I now?
Was I really the incarnation of an all-powerful sorceror who would destroy my soul, as the Immaculate Monks had taught me?
Should I suicide?
"In all fights, the history is written by the victors, do you not know? The ones that lost are always guilty!"
Of course, being a Patrician, I'd seen that already, first-hand...my Dragon-Blooded Exalted brethren had no qualms about acting like that in front of me.
"Some of them were mad. Others were still kind, and caring", was the ancient god's verdict. "It's up to you what you would become".
In a way, that made it even harder to decide what to do next.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Interview with the lead designer of the Gor RPG

In other news, the Gor RPG is out!
And I interviewed the game designer, James Desborough from PostMortem Studios, for my blog.

If you need an intro, you can assume I said "Hi, Mr. Desborough. Let me ask you a few questions about the Gor game you just published for my Characters and Flashing Blades blog".

Question by Asen Georgiev and the CaFB blog: Mr. Desborough, please assume I don't know what Gor is and have never read any novels (which would be utterly wrong, but you get the idea). How would you present me Gor as a setting for RPGs? 

Answer by James "Grim" Desborough: I would say that it is a setting in the tradition of Planetary Romance. I think it has a lot in common with Barsoom, but where that was - perhaps - challenging the propriety of its era (with nudity and treating 'coloured' people as equal and superior) Gor challenges more of our sexual preoccupations and gender politics. That was part of a general cultural shift in the 60s and 70s with both 'free love' and the pill making an impact, but also the impact of feminism. 

Another way you could put it, I suppose, is as the bastard child of Conan and Velikovsky, with a dash of BDSM aesthetic and a fetish for the classics.

Q: You said it yourself: Gor is known as a world with heavy BDSM elements. Are you going to try and market the book to members of that particular sub-culture? 

A: I'm unsure exactly how to reach them as a market. Perhaps advertising on Fetlife? *Chuckle* I don't know. I've more focussed on trying to reach the existing (soft) RP communities in Second Life and webchat etc. 

Q: I see that you clearly present Gor as a "pulp" world, which - I agree - is how it started, and how it should be. But how does that jive with the d6 system, which can be notoriously lethal? 

A: Gor is a pretty lethal world too. Pulps can certainly be very lethal. I've compensated for this some by providing an 'honour' system, to simulatneously encourage 'Gorean' behaviour and to insulate a little from the deadliness. 

Q: Why did you pick Gor as a setting, especially since we both know it's got, how to put it, "associated cultural baggage"? 

A: I've enjoyed the books since I was a teenager. I've always thought that it would make an interesting setting for a roleplaying game given its fantastical elements, well developed societies and cultures and the 'frisson' that comes with that baggage. I'd written lots of homebrews and ideas for it over the last 25 years or so and then decided to take the plunge. Part of it's just because I like the books, some because of their personal meaning to me (and no, I don't think all women should be slaves or any of that other nonsense, I just mean they mean a lot to me). Part of it is because the double standards around sex and violence in games has always bothered me and part of it is because I was told I couldn't or shouldn't, which is a red rag to a bull. 

Q: Bondage and slavery is part of the novels the setting is based on, and slaves aren't exactly treated kindly. How do you suggest the GMs should proceed if the PCs are captured - a fate that has (repeatedly) befallen even Tarl Cabbot, the protagonist of most Gor books? 

A: Slavery is much more apparent in the books than it is canonically in the societies that Norman presents in his books. The figures he gives are that - perhaps - 5% of the population are slaves and the majority of that are male work slaves, out of sight and out of mind. So the impression many have isn't necessarily accurate... that said, slavery is - thematically - a huge part of the books and the world and so unavoidable. Slavery presents a good alternative to total-party-kills and there's always a chance to escape or, thematically, to become happy in that bondage and turn one's master or mistress to one's side. That's another recurring theme. For my part, I'd 'metagame' it a little, see what the players wanted and plot the following games that way. 

Q: Slavery  does indeed present a good alternative to total-party-kills. Does the system provide for means to capture someone? A threshold where the characters are incapacitated, but not yet dead; grappling (that's easier to apply than the grapple rules in d20, preferably!); less-lethal strikes; or others? 
A: There's a limited 'death spiral' inspired by one of the few good things about D&D4e and the capacity to render people insensible. So it's anticipated to an extent. I may expand on that some in a supplement. One of the next supplements will have rules for 'breaking' people, applicable to NPCs only, torture and slave training. The slave training thing is rather Gor specific, but torture is something that's common in games but not much addressed. I felt that the necessity to handle this kind of thing for a game created an opportunity to tackle that. 

Q: While you say that there's always a chance to escape and this happens in the novels, and I fully agree with your "metagame" approach - hopefully it's in the GM's advice - I'd argue that it's much more common for the protagonists in the novels to turn the tables on the master or mistress when said master or mistress is in trouble. It's also a recurring theme (and a good reason to NOT have slaves). It's *usually* the secondary characters that get used to it and try to bring the Master/Mistress to the other side. Are you addressing those options in the GM advice section (both "slaves are going to betray you", and "you can betray your master to his or her enemies, though watch out if you do")? 

A: Not so much, I've more tried to anticipate the PC side of things since 'loss of agency' is always a bummer when you're a player. 

Q: In the Gor novels, John Norman - or rather his protagonist Tarl Cabbot, I'd argue - has taken multiple stances that would be offensive to contemporary readers (to note: women are happiest as slaves, that homosexuality is unnatural and doesn't happen in a "sane" society, and that Earth's society is trying to emasculate men - I'm probably missing a few). Does the world book address those matters? How? 

A: I don't know that this is entirely true. Homosexuality is relatively prominent in one of his books as a plot-point and the Panther Girls are certainly implicitly if not explicitly, lesbian or bisexual. Men and women of Earth prove to be quite capable when on Gor - Jason and Tarl especially. 

I take these, at least the ones I agree exist as part of the world he presents, to be fictional precepts upon which the world is build, same as any other game. 'There are multiple intelligent races', 'Magic exists', 'Aliens have visited Earth in the past' seem little different to me than similar thought experiments around sexuality etc. For my part I think it's the realm of fantasy, common fantasies as that, so it doesn't bother me so much. I see reality and fantasy as distinct and trust readers to make the same distinction, just as I do with being wandering murderhobos! 

You can see an argument being made for a 'state of nature' being superior in some ways to our artificial world of concrete and plastic and I think some people have sympathy for that. It is, of course, a naturalistic fallacy but still, I think that's part of the appeal of the fantasy for some people - as it is with survival and post-apocalyptic games and fiction. 

I don't particularly address these things, I do try to contextualise them within our society as it exists now, something I got criticised for already, though I thought it was important. Rather I try to emphasise that your game world is your own. I don't think I get to dictate how people should play. I can only control what I mean and recommend. 

Q: I haven't read all the Gor books, so I guess I've missed which one has relatively prominent homosexuality (but some quick Googling suggested it's Magicians of Gor - Asen and the CaFB blog). What I do remember is that in Blood-Brothers of Gor, the character thinks how relationships between males are due to a deficiency in Earth's sexuality. Let it be clear, are you treating such statements (or those about slaves) as true in the universe of the game, or as only true in-the-head-of-Tarl? 

A: I've suggested that these things are less common, and that trans is likely less common too - Red Savages not withstanding - and that intersex conditions probably barely exist (Goreans are rather unforgivingly Spartan when it comes to children). I have, however. This isn't a personal judgement, just the way I have interpreted the world and how it might treat these things. The homosexuality aspect I've taken from the book that covers it, but a lot had to be inferred. Given so much of Gor's inspiration comes from the Greeks and Romans though... I don't think people have much to worry about. It was important to present the world as written. I didn't feel it was my place to interpret, but to suggest. 


Q: The setting also has the Priest-Kings imposing a world-wide technological embargo on Gor, which purposefully limits weapon technologies (they kill the perpetrators in a rather impressive fashion, for the uninitiated). What should the GMs do if a PC tries to make a gun? 

A: In the books the Priest Kings have become more distant and intervene less and less. It can take some time for such interventions to happen. I would start with a small chance of them being found out and destroyed for making or using such a weapon and crank up the chance the more and more they use it, while having NPCs etc warn them. The Priest Kings would likely prefer to eliminate them in front of an audience so... I wouldn't pull any punches, but I'd take my time. 

Q: The system you picked for this project is the d6 system. Why do you think it is a good fit for the Gor setting? 

A: I'm anticipating getting some 'noobs' into gaming via Gor. It already has a vibrant online roleplaying community in forums, chatrooms and Second Life - something I found out when doing research. As such I wanted the game to be accessible. D6 was used to power the West End Games version of Star Wars, which was also an heroic, science-fantasy game, so it seemed like a good fit. Second to Red Box D&D, D6 was probably the gateway drug to gaming for a lot of people in its time and so it seemed like a good fit. Character templates also work great for Gor's castes. 

Q: I think that d6 is probably at least fourth (after Vampire and maybe the d100 games, Runequest included) as a gateway to the hobby, but I do know that there is a Gorean roleplaying community. Are you trying to market your game to those people? If so, how do you explain to them why they need a system for the games they are already playing? 

A: I've suggested it primarily as a resource - the worldbook too. It's my hope that the game may provide a common ground for these many different RP communities, but we'll see. I am trying to appeal to them, with some success. We'll see how things go though. 

Q: Kinda related to the above, but not quite - does the way you present the setting differ in "World of Gor" and "Tales of Gor" ("Setting book" and "System", respectively)? I could see the setting book being more about the general society, while the game book being more focused on the details that concern PCs... 

A: I give a broad overview in 'Tales' and much more detail in 'World'. Some info is repeated. If you really want to dig deep into the setting then 'World' is necessary, but you could cope without it - and some understanding of the books. 

Q: Since I'm addressing the differences between the two books, let me ask about the system, too. What would you say to people that would take World of Gor, and use it with another system of choice? 

A: Go ahead! Whatever floats your boat!
As a system hacker myself though, I'm always interested in how people tweak systems and find inspiration all sorts of places. I daresay Tales could still be useful to them on that basis. 

Q: I understand that Tales of Gor has to be accessible. But you also mention that the future adventures would contain some additional rules. Does that mean that Tales of Gor is somehow "incomplete" as a game, from the point of view of RPG hobbyists? 

A: It's complete, adding additional rules etc to supplements is more intended to add value that pure adventures simply don't have and to tackle problems and ideas that couldn't justify page space in the main books. Think of it as... DVD extras, or Director Commentary. 

Q: Also, can you give us a list of what kind of rules are added in your current adventure? I wasn't able to find such a list in the adventure's description. 

A: The Tower of Art adventure contains rules for adding 'specialities' to your characters, particular areas of expertise in their skills. It just allows a bit more customisation and personalisation. I suspect a lot of additional rules will be similar, complications and special cases that aren't necessary for new players but will increase the complexity and depth for those that want that. 


Q: I hope it wouldn't offend you when I state that your reputation in RPG circles is best* described as "controversial", especially when it comes to certain topics that other people consider more sensitive than you do. It's also fair to say that most of your critics don't really appreciate Gor. Was picking Gor as a setting (at least in part) a big "fuck you" to your critics? 

A: I've been reading the books since I was 15. This project took years to pull off, unfortunately, it should have been much quicker. That's a lot of time, effort and sleepless night JUST to stick the middle finger up at someone. Is it partly a 'fuck you'? Sure, but it's also a genuine labour of love. 

After years of harassment etc. I still don't really understand my critics. I share most of their political viewpoints, just disagree on tactics. What seems to set me at odds is my differentiation between reality and fantasy and my commitment to free expression. I don't see either of these things as bad. 

Asen: Thank you for your time, Mr. Desborough!

*For the benefit of readers, I have to note that Mr. Desborough is a veteran game designer with multiple games to his name. However, that's 1) not part of my question and 2) even some people that have never read one of those books have heard the critics levelled at him. 





Feel free to copy and paste that interview, to use it commercially or non-commercially, as long as you mention the name of the interviewer Asen R. Georgiev. Of course, the responsibility for any further use is on you.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

My Low Fantasy/Mythras setting

I am working on my own setting (and might publish it this time...). I already posted two NPCs from it.

So, here's what I want from said setting:
A place where weapons and emotions are the only magic.
That's the setting I'm working on...dual-statted for Low Fantasy RPG and Mythras (I've been toying with the idea of making it tripple-statted for Cepheus/Traveller, and/or one of The Riddle of Steel clones, too - but neither is part of it yet). 

Why, you ask me? It resolves "the supremacy of spellcasters" and the complaints about "how can I do a monk and why do I need a weapon" in one fell swoop. And I just like weapons being magic.

Emotions 
Since there's no magic, and a person can only be so strong and skilled, people are your only real, nigh-infinite resource for achieving greatness. You can't defeat an army...but you can lead your own army. Or you can work the army's strategist into committing a mistake, and defeating himself.


And the only way to control people, as we all know, is to appeal to their emotions. (Of course, that means finding out what they want, first. And catering to people's emotions is always taxing). 
And some of the people you meet are weapons with spirits inside. Others are demons. Both can give you great power...at a cost, because they also have emotions. Granted, not all of them have the emotions you'd consider sane, but then that applies to those people of flesh, blood and human parents, too... 

Swords (and other weapons) 
It's important to note that the Spirit Weapons aren't always swords. Sometimes, they're something else, but always have steel parts (making shields and iron-shod staffs eligible).

One thing is for certain: they're virtually indestructible, and never need sharpening (nor is it possible, even if they're less sharp than you wanted them to be - as might be the case with some anti-armour implements, if you ever get to a place where people walk around mostly naked). You never clean rust, nor does it impact the functioning of the weapon, if it's there (on some rare* cases). 
Last note: a true demon can never become a weapon. Only once-godlings can, and they can only be weapons. Because weapons are holy.
Don't hope to have both, though. Neither of them are into sharing, and even less are into sharing with another kind. To find two different ones that don't mind, is so unlikely as to be virtually impossible. 

The POWERZ of thy sword! 
First and most obvious: they give you bonuses and penalties on some Passions. And they demand that you indulge in those that they give you bonuses for, and avoid those where you have penalties...at least they don't make it harder for you to obey. And obeying makes you happy (that's listed here, because a naturally violent person who gets another shot of magic weapon-inspired violence might become a murder machine with no special powerZ needed - but you get those anyway). Keep in mind, it's never just "violence+20%", it's "violence against equals", "violence against groups", and so on. It's never "Love+20%", it's "love for your lawful wife+20%", or "love all the nice women+20%". 


The next thing you get...depends on the weapon's personality. 
A weapon that can be any other weapon? A weapon that can fly to your hand? A weapon that can help you teleport, as long as you already are wielding it? A weapon that sheathes itself in flame, or ice, or spits lightining or acid in the enemy's face? An weapon that gives you wings? An weapon that executes your wishes, but at a price? 
The important thing is, they all have an...call it "theme". That's because they all have spirits inside, dontchaknow, and spirits have...well, personalities. 
And all NPC personalities have a "theme", even if the "theme" is "person living in the Wild West and driving cattle around". Or, for a fantasy game, "a normal Nemedian guy who hopes his skill at arms would help him get ahead in life". 
Or, in the case of weapons, The Noble Eagle, the Principle of Cutting, the Principle of Insertion, and The One Who Spots Everything (beware of ever meeting The Ruthless Ferret, though - he kills for fear, profit, pleasure, glory, infamy, food, because someone was in reach and his head was conveniently situated to shear off, and because once you start, you might as well go for the full round...) 

The Noble Eagle has the powers of Sight (including through objects), See Magic, Flight, Paralysis, Telekinesis** and Longevity. He wants riches,  power, but be ready for you your sex drive to take a plunge: eagles fuck once a year, after all, and he finds it distracting. 


Farseer also gives you Sight, but also DarkSight, See Magic, and only then Flight (to get to better vantage points), and Longevity. He's quite close to The Noble Eagle, but while he respects the Eagle, the Eagle secretly envies Farseer. His desires are Curiosity, Respect, and Sex (being able to see people naked either makes you horny, or jaded, but being jaded doesn't match well with his curiosity). However, he lowers your desire for mass violence: Farseer prizes understanding and showing off the knowledge so obtained, not killing off. He very much wants battles with worthy opponents, though: what's better than figuring out the weakness of a man with no weaknesses? 


Cleancutter is probably his stellar opposite, yet the two are, for some reason, close friends. Cleancutter allows you Power Cuts, Transformation (of Cleancutter, not yourself - you can always carry him like a knife, if only a knife is allowed, or as a glaive, if you face a horseman), Spirit-cutting, Wounding, and allows you to sever causality to get what you want by merely making a symbolic cut in the air. However, something is going to happen, as a price: when you cut the strings of causality, expect backlash! (Also: karma is a bitch). 

You get the idea.


*Rusty weapons are alternately said to have spots on their souls, or to be weeping...forever. Or both. 
**You suck being an eagle if you can't carry your prey off, if it's struggling, and eagles are long-lived. 

P.S.: Those are the versions of Farseer and Cleancutter that I'm using. They might well be different in your campaign.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Farseer, Lord of Glorious Battle and Cleancutter, Red Rainbow Amidst The Rain Drops!

I'm running a campaign for Low Fantasy RPG, on-and-off...meaning "any time that the WHoOG campaign isn't running for one reason or another". We are playing Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate, and I'm behind with the updates again - it's just that we play more often than that!

I'm also planning to make it into a setting supplement...or mini-supplement, we'll see. I'm not even trying to hide that my main inspiration for that are the Books of Twelve Swords by Fred Saberhagen, the French RPG Bloodlust, and Earthdawn's magic items. (Well, I hear Dave Arneson himself has been putting magic swords in his setting as important part of the magic, but I don't know anything else. Either way, it's nice to know I'm following good tradition!)
The first thing that you'd notice if you played in this campaign, would be...that there's no Wizard class. Want magic? Find an item.
Most such items are weapons. For a reason that's part of the setting's lore.

And now, let me introduce you two NPCs from this campaign!

Farseer, Lord of Valorous Battle looks like a slender Type XIX (with side rings), according to Oakeshott's typology. He's black as night, and carries a symbol of the Iron God (which I decided to adopt in my setting...though he might turn out to be just a namesake).
He's made of cold iron, of course.
The first power he always gives to any user is the ability to see the invisible, including in the dark. This was already used to notice a dryad hiding in her own tree. (Previous unscrupulous owners have used it to see through clothes, as Farseer would tell you - not that he's hinting at anything...he's not a pervert at all!)
Later it might be upgraded to "seeing magic emanations".
Then, he'd give you the power of sprouting wings (for a time), and then having them retract.
And if he likes you well enough, then he would make you unaging. Forget
He has one more power that he seldom grants to any user. Speculations abound as to what is might be: Does he teach the owner deadly counters, coupled with sixth sense? Grant stunning beauty? Allow the limited use of a Forbidden Wish (1/lunar month)? Immunity to fire? Control over water?
Is it even only one power, or does he just hold back several things he doesn't give access to, except as required?
One thing is for sure: Farseer doesn't want you to kill many people. He wants you to avoid fights, except with enemies that would provide a valorous combat. He's very much a "quality over numbers" guy!
And yes, the sword is a "he", most definitely, as he'd tell you if you ever met. It's just an accident most of his wielders have been female, and good-looking at that...funny coincidence, that!
Or, as it often works with those blades - is it a coincidence?


Cleancutter, Red Rainbow Amidst The Rain Drops looks like a mix between a Peidao and a Bulgarian sabre, with slightly bigger guard. And he's white...like the bones long-dead gods, some would say.
Cleancutter is also silvered, which might or might not explain his colour.
The first power he'd give you is the power of sudden, deep cuts. Which is something all swords do, in a way - but he can decapitate an enemy regardless of armour (which normal swords can't do).
The second power he would reveal is his ability to change shapes temporarily. So, if you need to enter a palace, you could have Cleancutter as an inoffensive dagger on your belt (though he'd remind you about that...) A rider attacking you? Cleancutter can be your halberd or pike. Someone grappled you? Cleancutter can become tigerclaws affixed to your wrist.
The third power is his ability to drink souls of your enemies, and grant you parts of their abilities (or just of their lifeforce, should you need it - and yes, if you didn't need it, this can prolong your "natural" lifespan a lot, preventing aging, much like Farseer's ability).
His fourth power is the ability to hurt even targets that are far away.
His fifth and subsequent powers are subject to speculation, too. Does he grant true agelessness, regardless of killing? Does he cause wounds that can never stop bleeding, unless the user touches them with his blade again? Does he give you the power of bladedancing, which can allow you to protect a single target against any attack, even at the cost of your life? Does he allow you to stop any attack (1/ lunar month)? Does he hew the weapon of any enemy when you defend?
Or does he, as some claim, allow you to cut the binds of causality, granting you a Forbidden Wish for seemingly unconnected actions - but possibly at a terrible price?
Or, conversely, does he allow you to cut the ties that bind enemies to what they cherish? No doubt there would be a price for the ability to sever the love of the grieving wife for her perished husband, or the like - but what would it be?
Questions, questions...and no answers in sight. But a few things are for sure: he likes women (not as targets), money, and slaughter - not necessarily in that order. He's a "quantity over quality" kind of guy, unlike Farseer. And he's slower to give you his trust, but readily adits what (and how) he wants you to do.
Oh, and you should never call him Vorpy. Only Farseer gets away with that, at times...and he hates the price so much, he tries to avoid it.


Important: all magic weapons in my setting have the one obvious power of never needing sharpening, anti-rust measures, or the like. That's a separate power in Low Fantasy RPG which I decided to make a default in my setting.
But then, they're the only way to gain magic powers of any kind, so it makes sense to preserve them!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Funniest reason for a ban EVER:D!

First: apologies for using smilies in the text, although they don't register as smilies to Blogspot/Blogger. I generally avoid it, but ut's appropriate today. You'll see why in a moment...

So: It seems I've been banned (for a day) by RPG.net...:)

OK, their site, their rules. Fine by me, this post isn't complaining about the fact! We obviously had differences of opinion with the moderators, but they also have the administrative rules;).

I might return to it again or not. I doubt too many people would miss me, anyway (and most of the posters that were fun to talk with seem to have migrated to theRPGsite).

However, the reason is nothing short of funny.

Yes, it says "smiley-assisted threadcrapping after multiple warnings".
REmember, that's on a forum which limits the number of smilies per post to 10! So I'm not banned for excessive use of smilies*, but for using them in an especially evil way. That was more or less what the previous warning said, too.
I think "finding a way to weaponize smilies" is definitely ROFL-worthy (and probably worthy of 1 day or more without RPG.net).

I also think there's only one appropriate thing to say to this, and it is:



*And we obviously differ in opinion about whether it was threadcrapping. To me, it was clarifiying a cultural difference (between Eastern/Southeastern Europe and North America, in this case).
For a place that claims to be tolerant of all cultures, RPG.net definitely doesn't show any tolerance to clarifying the differences between some of them.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Stunning Beauty Chronicles, part 7 (WHoOG)

And there I am, writing our latest...exploits? Again, it's not a single session, I've got enough material to write that I'm not grouping them according to the sessions' start and finish (and sometimes writing more than one in a single update). 
Semi-mandatory link to the previous update. 


The boss approved the plan - he wasn't hot for Biggest Sister, but he recognised her as a worthy ally. More importantly, he recognised her as an woman...and hurting her emotionally by hurting her brothers? 
There's stuff you don't do when the Two-Timing Cockerel is about! Just sayin', in case it becomes relevant, ya know. (Fun fact: the same goes for my PC as well. I suspect it's time for the Yu clan to become matriarchal again: our women seem to be the pragmatic ones!) 
I talked with Biggest Sister, and persuaded her she should find a good man to marry, because she needs to continue the family line. The spirits of the ancestors have to be venerated by someone, even after she dies and joins them! 
She mentioned  Brother Wolf is "kinda a fan of TTC". I remembered it for future uses! We also had a long conversation about life, the universe and our places in it. She also mentioned Brother Wolf has a Sister Fox who's sick...they're former students of Old Raisin, it seems. 

So we left at noon, planning to get to Brother Wolf's fortress in the evening. Biggest Sister was leading us...she left when we approached a place with some guards' stronghold (I thought it's a small one, the GM didn't explain - not that it matters, given that we had no plans to fight). 
What the guards saw: 2 men and 13 beautiful women* were walking towards them. That's why they were still suspicious, but not overly so. 
What really happened: A combined number of 33 Qi levels were walking towards some people who had no Techniques. (My student should get to 1st Qi level soon, but isn't there yet). 
"Where you going?" 
"Towards the fortress!" 
"What do you want?" 
"A place to rest! We're traveling for our personal work, isn't your boss accepting guests?" 
"OK, we'll give you an escort!" 
They gave us a detachment of 20 men. 
We politely told them to stand between in the center. "It's safest there, in case anyone attacks us", as we explained. They thought us to be stupid, but obeyed. We brought them to the fortress safe and unhurt, and with that our obligations to them was fulfilled! 

There, we talked with the majordomo, because Brother Wolf was on a job of unspecified nature. The man wanted to give us...not the best rooms, shall I say. I just looked at him. (Of course I'm dealing with this: I'm actually the lowest-ranked Yu member in the group - even my wife is higher, because she's born in the clan, and I joined by marriage. It's a good thing they even listen to my "advice", isn't it? 
Well, I also get to talk to servants and other "small men" when there isn't an even lower-ranked person around). 
"Do you have any idea what's Brother Wolf going to do to you when he learns you put the Two-Timing Cockerel, whom he respects, in rooms like this? Seriously? Do you know who he is?" (I wasn't lying, remember). 
"I don't know..." 
"Shut up! Now you'll give us better rooms, and then I'm not going to mention it. Or else, I will, and Brother Wold shall punish you for offending someone he respects... You sure you want that?" 
A man who punishes prisoners by maiming? You don't want to make that one angry. The servant got green-ish in the face (but still, no detectable traces of orc blood - or for that matter, of any orcish presence in the setting). 
"Please, leave your belongings here for now, and we'll show you better rooms after dinner, if that wouldn't be too much of a bother for the respected gentlemen?" 
"It's acceptable", I allowed, bowing. "Our luggage can rest in any place for a while". 
"Very well, gentleman - you'd also get to meet Sister Fox, she's feeling better now. There's periods when she's worse, so please try not to worsen her state!" 
Us, worrying a sick person? Who do you think we are? 
(And yes, we can also rest anywhere, people. But we're in China now, even if it's Mythic China: if you don't demand respect, nobody'd give you any. People that deserve it, know to demand it as well. 
Respect, I mean! Shut up with the dirty sub-conscious already!) 

In the meantime, we got to meet Sister Fox. We asked the boss to do his Peacock routine...meaning, he should look the way he looked when courting his wives. He smiled and said he's always doing the same. 
I didn't tell him that I hope he gets reborn as a beautician. He'd like that, I think, but it's an ill omen to talk about someone's death before he dies. 
And yes, that includes the edgecases where you know the exact latest day when he'd suicide if he hasn't died before. 
Meanwhile, my wife was sneaking across the fortress. She returned with news that the basement has more guards than the walls, and never having seen the prisoners. 
On the other hand, she had found a weird room with a mirror. A mirror she recognised as stolen from the compound of the Yu family! 
Not only that: a boy with a body like mist got out of the mirror, and asked her what she wants him to look like - common courtesy, you know. And he proved he can mirror anyone he has seen... by becoming... the Two-Timing Cockerel. Whom he called "father". 
She tried to ask about his mother, but he didn't know the concept. At the end, she explained "like a father, but female", and invited him to our rooms to meet his "father". 
TTC was kinda surprised. And I could only think how he's such a peacock that even his mirror had become alive...trying not to chuckle the whole time. 
It was a happy family reunion, other than that. And it helped us to spend the time until dinner. (And of course, we call the supernatural one "Mirrorboy" now. Though maybe we should be calling TTC that - I mean, how much time do we have to spend in front of a mirror to get the mirror to become sapient?) 

So, there we were, charming Sister Fox who seemed kinda out of it, but was trying her best to play good host. We quickly confirmed that she seems both educated, and unable to harm a fly. She told us they'd been the students of Righteous Maiden (Raisin), and has no idea why they had to leave. She also volunteered that she's been struck by a poisoned arrow while they were recovering an artefact named "Life-Conserving Stone", which Raisin considered "evil" and wanted to destroy. The place it was hidden was a maze of traps, Sister Fox explained. Since then, nobody's been able to cure her condition, which seems to worsen at times... 
I felt pity towards her, but then we all suffer consequences for our parents and siblings' behaviour**, don't we? 
So I asked her when do we expect the other guests? 
"What other guests?" 
"Those your brother invited to stay in the basement of the fortress. Maybe we should go and open their cages?" 
"It's frowzy, fusty and wet there! My brother would put nobody there?", she was sincerely outraged. 
"All the more reason to invite them up here so they could get a respite, right?", I argued in turn, offering her my hand. "Let's go right now! We can't let anyone be unhappy with Brother Wolf's hospitality!" 
Oh, the irony that was wasted on her due to her drugged-up state! She just took my hand*** and let me guide her down, despite the objections of the servants. The guards, of course, didn't stop Sister Fox and me! 
The only one that tried to stop us was a girl with silvery hair and a single black strand, and bright clothes. She introduced herself as "Niece", so I assumed she's either Brother Wolf's lover, student, or both (if she was his wife, she'd have been introduced to us guests at the table). She tried to claim those people down are robbers and brigands. 
"Even the brothers of Biggest Sister?", I feigned my surprise. "Impossible - I know them and her! And why did he cut off the hand of one of them?" 
Sister Fox was nearly in shock, and she followed me. The Niece tried to grab her, but I intercepted her hand. 
"Don't you dare!", she hissed. 
"Stop me!", I hissed back, and kept dragging Sister Fox down. She looked in my eyes, and realized she's a cun**** away from death. 
I hate people that try to stop me from rescuing kidnap victims. And I wasn't alone. She was, though, and I knew that: her lover/master power depends on the kung-fu masters not even getting close - or they'd save their relatives. People who train Kung-fu would also be dangerous: a rival may tempt them with faster training. 
Consequently, she was probably the only Ranked Fighter. And if she was to call the army... 
Well, she saw in my eyes I'm going to kill her before they arrive and leave Sister Fox to lament her. And she didn't want Sister Fox to get upset, which violence would surely accomplish. 
"Now shut up", my wife petted the side of her face. "We can help her heal. That's ultimately why you need all those prisoners, right?" 
I looked at her and nodded. We were both thinking of a very powerful person with remarkable poison skills, that we were connected to. Only a poison user can heal poison! 

As expected, the dungeon was frowzy, fusty, wet and everything else you expect from the prison of such a person. Biggest Sister brothers weren't the only ones there - seems like kidnapping relatives was Brother Wolf's "trick for compelling obedience". There were also torture racks, there, and bloody cleavers. 
And well, that speaks volumes for Brother Wolf's character, doesn't it? 
His sister, however, almost went cathatonic upon seeing this. I couldn't even get her to order releasing the prisoners. 
"See what you did? You..." 
"We're going to cure her", me and my wife said more or less simultaneously*****. "Now call Biggest sister's brothers. We'll go up the stairs, and leave the other brigands behind. Obviously Biggest Sisters' brothers being here was a mistake, wasn't it?", I added. 
"A mistake...yes", she said and we let them free on the way out, leading Sister Fox away. In a way, I pressed as far as I could, and got less than I wanted. She accepted a minor loss, and order the brothers to be kicked out of the dungeon at once. 
In short, we both cut our losses, and smiled, hoping to gain more from continued cooperation. 
And I had a plan how to get Sister Fox's mind away. 
"Those people were probably brigands, judging by the treatment", I said. "If such people aren't punished, they would disrupt the basics of the state, and cause great suffering! But in doing so, one must be careful to address any mistakes of justice. I think we're in the clear on both accounts, now?" 
"Yes, yes, we are", they both confirmed (one of them - through clenched teeth, the other - sincerely actually believing it). 
"Great! Now, I must also apologize for the scene, but I had to take care of my host's reputation as a just person. The great teacher says a good guest defends his host's honour as his own, after all. You're familiar with the teachings, right?" 
And then we discussed the finer points of the guest-host relationship in the Dehua******, like cultured people, over tea. Sister Fox joined with delight: it seems she's reading a lot, since her health doesn't allow her to train any more. When I excused myself and returned with my "pen pal", she was delighted! 
The Niece felt kinda left out. Not only did she know less, she also seemed not to hear everything. 
Me and my wife looked at her irises, and concluded she's got the qi channel leading to her ear, disrupted. It was either inborn, or the result of kung-fu. We also concluded she'd need a Nei Gong master if she was to recover, but it was doable. However, I am probably the only guy with any Nei Gong skills in the Yu family! And my Qi wasn't powerful enough to even learn such a technique. 
...yet. But I was training for this very reason, wasn't I? 
It seemed, however, that she had assumed this to be a normal illness. 
So I promised that that if she doesn't find a cure before I get powerful enough, I'm going to come back and cure her. It was the right thing to do! 
And then we went to sleep, after Sister Fox became kinda tired - she's not big on the stamina thing, you might have noticed - and we didn't want to be nasty to her. The rooms were nice. 
And after a while*******, we even went to sleep the dreams of the righteous. How often does any xia get to save 6 young boys? 

The next day, we got to meet Brother Wolf. Just watching him move was enough to tell us one thing: his kung-fu is more powerful than TTC's, and about on par with Da Su Su! 
Cool. A potential ally, we thought in synch. 
He demanded to know what were we talking about. I mean, "that poison has no cure". 
"Somehow, she's alive. If she is, a real Kung-Fu master can cure her", we replied, following the evidence the whole setting provides. 
"I'm a real kung-fu master!" 
"But you're not a poison user", I pointed out, flattering******** him. "To fight poison, you need to know poison. Just like how your student has been hurt by a Nei Gong technique, and you need a Nei Gong technique to cure her, you need a poison user to undo what poison has wrought". 
"So what do you suggest?" 
"We suggest to get you in touch with someone as powerful as you, but who's an accomplished poison user: Da Su Su, ever heard of her?" 
Then we negotiated the price, but it was clear he'd accept. And it was true: "if she can cure my sister, I'd help her against that enemy you mentioned!", he promised. We didn't mention the name, of course - what use is it to him, if he doesn't believe we can cure his sister? 
I guess the discussion of poison made him think, because he started debating ethics. We debated why Raisin destroys Qi-using artifacts - she considers them "evil", a view he doesn't subscribe to: to him, power is power, it's your job to use it right. 
My wife agreed. I didn't tell him that if he's maiming kids to get their sister to serve him, he's failing the "use your power right" job. Hard. 
Instead, I merely stated that there are means to get power one doesn't use, and means that are fine. He told me I'm "still too young", which I conceded. My character is young, indeed! 
So I promised to search for him in 5, 10 or 15 years, if my views have changed, and tell him. He seemed satisfied, and I abstained from talking about cruelty and compassion. 
I mean, what do you expect of me? To argue with him when my wife is backing him? My character has been married to her for a while - he can't be stupid enough to make THAT mistake! 

So, we sent the grateful Biggest Sister to carry a message to DSS. While she was away, we had her brothers join our training*********, and with the blessings of TTC, decided to hire all seven of them as Yu Clan servants. We often life-long service, money and protection - as well as training, except in the family's secret techniques: overall, a ten thousand times better deal than the one they'd got from Brother Wolf. 
Actually, I wanted to make her my blood sister, making her part of the clan - it's not like all of us have to be the smartest, and she's honest and owes us already - but my wife and TTC vetoed it. None of them was beautiful enough to get in the Silk Robes Clan! 
Yes, there are appearance criteria for becoming Yu that are harder to cover than to achieve kung-fu mastery. Why do you think they call us "the clan of the beautiful people"? 

Meanwhile, me and my wife were taking care of the business. We hired workers with promises of training (followed by on-the-job instruction), and helped an unhappy woman to recover her kids that her mother-in-law had kept after she became an widow. She's going to be the round-the-clock herbalist in one of our establishments, now (with possible stints as an worker up for additional remuneration, if she decides to try)! 
Our most interesting find, as we were walking among the downtrodden? 
An orphan girl who had already mastered her Qi. It seems her mother was a herbalist-feng shui, but she tried and failed to heal the wife (or was it the mother?) of a local Big Man...and was consequently subjected to stoning. Then of course, the girl started practicing, imitating the cranes and monkeys in the environs, or something. (Or maybe she was just beating trees with her stick, imagining they are the Big Boss). It helped her make a leap. 
We have gone there to make her a business offer... but instead, we asked her to come and join us. 
I mean, come on...beautiful (that's why we were there - remember our line of work), knows Kung Fu, and has no reason to stay? Sounds like someone the Two-Timing Cockerel would love to woe! It's up to him if she'd fall in love, of course. 
Worst case scenario, we'd make her an offer. Or I'd get a sworn sister. But she seems just right for the Yu clan! 
So we went to see the Big Man. All three of us. There was no talking: we just beat his guards (I'd made my wife swear she wouldn't kill anybody), dragged him and his family out, beat him to an inch of his life**********, and burnt the house. 
Then we came back to our place (we were guests of the Brother Wolf). Two people have arrived: 
One was Raisin. I went to express my respects (and gave her a pause upon introducing myself as Yu). My wife was following her to see where she would go after that... 
We really want to be introduced to her disciples! 
The other was Biggest Sister. She accepted the offer to be hired, and said she was looking for a suitably tall husband - but had bad news from Da Su Su. 
"This poison is impossible to heal!" 
My wife had a crisis of faith. The "fuck that bitch, I thought she's good at least at something, but obviously - no" kind of crisis of faith (and yes, it's a quote). 
We had to decide now what to do. But it seemed logical that we should now go to Bone Kingdom as soon as possible!
Maybe we'd find an enemy on the way. We had just enough XP to get to 3rd Qi level, now, and had to test ourselves!
And meanwhile, we just might help Two-Timing Cockerel to get another wife, or three. He's got a countdown and an unfulfilled goal, remember?

*Me, my wife, my student, Two-Timing Cockerel, his 10 wives, and his daughter. Everybody in the Yu clan is beautiful, of course! 
**Remember: Mythic China, like in Mythic Europe, or Mythic Rest-of-Asia, "responsibility" is a group affair. 
***Not literally touching me, I assume. You don't touch anyone's sister, unless you have certain intentions...and even then you'd better be ready to survive the brother's assault. Granted, xia are often more relaxed: we touch people as a matter of fact, even if it's just in order to hurt them. Anyway, following me would be enough. 
****3,33 cm, figuratively: very close. "An inch from" would be the equivalent in other measurement systems. 
*****No dice were involved in this reaction being simultaneous. 
******Fantasy Confucianism. No dice were involved in this discussion, either: the GM just checked my character sheet and saw I have the required Knowledge skill. And she knows I know that kind of things, anyway, and actually wasn't surprised at me quoting Confucius. Yes, I assume that unless mentioned in the setting, there's no difference between "fantasy Whatever" and "the historical Whatever" when I play (or when I run, though that's irrelevant right now). 
*******You don't need to know more on that account. 
********In the system, you have reputation that applies to your friends, and reputation that applies to your enemies. Except if you're a poison user: then both your reputations are "poison-user"...friends know that they have a poison user on their side, at least. The enemies know they're facing a poison user - which is kinda scary. We haven't yet explored the fact that the name for Dian Xue is "poison hand" (and another name is "demon hand"). 
*********The youngest one is 6 or so, it's time to get him started! I hurry to tell you that at least, it's the oldest that's lacking a hand. He's been trained in some kung-fu already, and is slightly ahead of my own student. Two of his brothers have also learned to master their Qi. 
 **********We're lucky that nobody with a Qi level can kill by mistake: even with a sword, we always know we can make a telling attack merely incapacitating. Of course, what that says about my wife is up for discussions!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Stunning BeautyChronicles, part 6 (WHoOG)

Because some people asked me...elsewhere: again, that's not "session 6". It's "AsenRG found, for the 6th time, the willpower to describe what has happened in the campaign". What number of sessions have passed is...anyone's guess, really - we schedule sessions in a way that's probably highly uncommon among RPG groups. 
And to address another question: yes, I am skipping things, some of them because of their NSFW nature (no, I'm not playing this with a "standard" group). Yes, such things happen in our sessions - a lot. Let's just remind you that my character is literally dependent on having a nice time...gives you another idea of the reason why my full character concept was "fucking Chinese paladin", doesn't it? (For those that wonder: no, the first word isn't a curse-word, it's merely descriptive...) 


With all that said... 
Last session, I left off the description at where Da Su Su told us she suspects she has promised her firstborn to a wizard who deals with demons, might be trying to allow the Demon Emperor in our dimension. The Demon Emperor is that guy who Sunan and Bao* sealed away from our dimension...more or less, at the price of their lives. 
Why did she do so? Why, she wanted a very powerful weapon! 
(We had long ago decided never to tell her exactly how stupid we rank her as. She just fell down another couple of notches, though. By the end of this campaign, we might be persuaded to turn to an amoeba for advice - and we'd probably tell Da Su Su to shut up and listen to smarter people). 
DSS suggested that the Witches of Bone Kingdom might be powerful enough to deal with him. And remember - she also suggested to "release us from the service she had paid us for", because we were efficient enough she no longer really needed us... 
"There's two ways to deal with her issue", my wife said during the discussion. "A high road, and a low road. Which one do you want us to take, my husband?" 
"Always go for the high road. There's less stuff there that might turn your victory to nothingness", I replied. She just didn't care, so it was accepted unanimously (while Da Su Su was trying to figure out what we were talking about - during our reports, we often use against her the fact that we understand each other from half a word, and she needs a word and a half, if possible). 

Of course, we gathered the cream of the Yu family to come with us. I mean, the stakes could be enormous, here! We have to deal with someone who Da Su Su can't deal with and was a powerful man before any of us was born? 
Stunning Beauty Team has an answer: find allies. 
To this goal, we reasoned, we start by the closest to the farthest - as Kung-Fu teaches! 
Two-Timing Cockerel was closest, and as always, he was easy to persuade. 
"Uncle, want to die fighting a man powerful beyond imagination, who might be trying to let the Demon Emperor back to the Central Kingdom? There might be some beautiful female xia we might meet on the way, too - at any rate, you haven't married anyone from this region. You're coming? We thought you might say that". 
There are, it seems, two things worth dying for: to thwart a great evil, and for love - or so the Two-Timing Cockerel said. 
(Remember: by clan tradition, which thankfully only concerns the leaders of Yu, our uncle has less than a year before he has to die - by his own hand, if everything else fails - but he still wants to have 20 loving wives before he dies. Which means he should be in a hurry, because he's only got 13 now). 
So there we went: me, my wife, my student, the head of our clan, and 10 out of 13 wives (he left the rest to deal with domestic issues, and he left his daughter and scion, too - though at the price of a quarrel, because she wanted to come with us). They're also kung-fu experts, so we were ready to wage war on smaller cities. 
We were, however, woefully unprepared to survive a fight with our endgoal opponent. 
Thus, we went towards the Bone Kingdom. I decided to travel several days by the water (four days, our GM announced after consulting the map). Then we go from there. 
Of course, we were traveling in a pleasure barge, called "Pleasurable Rain". We chartered it, and liked it enough that we bought it. It's now the official Yu family's boat. 
(I suspect the GM has stopped tracking our living expenses sessions ago. What for, if we do it for her and always make sure to gain more than we spend, so we only become richer? Even a single of our money-making schemes is yet to fail - and we're doing this while on Da Su Su's non-inconsiderable wages!) 

At some point, couple of days later, however, the sailors (those are not Yu members) mentioned the river here's getting narrower. We immediately suspected piracy, and put out a small boat, which had only two passengers. 
I was rowing, and the Two-Timing Cockerel was checking the depths with a long pole. It was good practice. Oh, and about at that time the boss' daughter managed to catch up with us. Yes, she had disobeyed. 
TTC is lucky he's not going to live long enough that she makes his hair all white. Well, kinda lucky. 

Thus, we found that a boat has been capsized, so our boat could pass, but the barge would have been stuck. We immediately rose, and I started shouting. 
"Get out, you treacherous curs! We know you're here! Come out and fight us!" 
This was also a signal. The twelve female kung-fu fighters on the boat had already sneaked out and were traveling on the two sides of the river... 
Yes, they were hunting, and we were - voluntarily - the bait. 
A huge, strong, masked man appeared on the road with a saber. He was followed by four men with bows. 
"You there, curs!", I launched. "Pick a representative that's going to fight me. The rest of you will fight HIM!" - I pointed to TTC. 
Yes, I'm a manly kung-fu fighter with even stronger friends. What can I say? 
One of them launched "you talk too much!", and threw us a hook on a rope. I attached it to the boat, of course. Time to stretch! 
"Now pull!", I ordered him. 
"You wish", he answered and gestured the rest of them to shoot us both. 
TTC swung his cape and parried all the arrows. And then I started pulling. 
Meanwhile, the four idiots fell, dead. It turns out, there were half a dozen more hidden on that beach (and an equal number on the other one). 
There was only this guy left alive on "our beach". (My wife was calling the shots, and I think she doesn't like leaving enemies alive. Her friends consider her ruthless, and her enemies have worse words. Me, I think she kills like a cat - when instinct or whim demand it - but I still love her!) 
Just as we arrived, the guy noticed he's been encircled by kung-fu mistresses with crimson blades. If I haven't shouted "leave him alive", who knows what might have happened! 
And then he took the smart course, and ran. 
I was the only one to chase him, and he tried to ambush me. We fought, Ox-Tail Dao to my Jian, and despite him using techniques that made his blade bite deep, I wounded him thrice and my internal energy was unable to prevent only one strike from actually wounding my flesh. I also mocked him mercilessly, explaining in detail how stupid he was for not talking to us first. 
Then my wife caught up, and kicked him in the head, leaving him barely alive. She was still trying to get him alive, though. 
He tried to run again, and I punched him out as soon as I saw an opportunity to use my palm smash. Then I carried him back. He was one of three survivors. 
(Also, he was 3rd Qi level, so I got to 2nd level by finally defeating someone 2 levels above me while fighting in a group). 
When we removed his mask, we saw a scarred face. Hmm, does it remind me of anything or what? Yes it does... 
Turned out, he was a mid-level Mystic Sword sect member. They were persuaded we were carrying a manual they wanted. 
"What manual, you moron, wasting the life of his men?", I asked cordially. Our relations were like that. 
Turned out, they were looking for a manual, which would probably look like an empty piece of paper to the unitiated. They believe it's in the damn Yu family compound, too, and that we were carrying it on the barge. Some woman had told them so, it seems, but he never told us the name (or rather, he did - she was one of their sect, so I concluded she was as stupid as the rest of them). 
"Uncle, remind me when I get back I should write 'Mystic Sword Sect Are Morons' on every empty piece of paper. Then we throw all of them away, and those morons can pick any sheet they want!" 
No, we didn't want a manual with probably forbidden techniques. If the uglies wanted it, they could have it! (And we'd defeat them nonetheless! BTW, it turns out they scar their faces for disobedience. All the members of the Beautiful People Clan, i.e. us, officially think they're insane...and we also realize that this is a clan the Yu family could never infiltrate). 
What we did want to know was...who was siccing people like DSS and Mystic Sword on us? One might be a mistake. Two such societies? Fuck "coincidence" with a red-hot poker - it's not coincidence anyway, but something less wholesome! 
Of course, that's the part I didn't share with the prisoner. 
During that conversation, the Mystic Ugly finally realized three things: 
1) Not only the manual wasn't with us, we didn't give a collective fuck about the damn thing. 
2) Whoever had told their "sister" it was with us, had tried to set us up (and successfully lied to her). 
3) I considered him to be an idiot, but I was also willing to let him go - along with his men - if he promised to never come back, and explain the first point to his bosses. 
He agreed they'd lost enough people as it was, and we let him have his men back (their stories confirmed his). 

Thus, we ended up on the beach of a Sunan-and-Bao-forgotten village. Or so it looked while we were hiring rooms. I bought a round of drinks in the inn** and inquired about local martial artists and beautiful women from the drunks. Hey, who else would be gazing at any woman that passes? They should know. 

I was maybe a bit unclear here, so let me explain: my job, as far as I'm concerned, is only to introduce the Two-Timing Cockerel to suitable prospective wives. He only marries them if they fall in love with him (and being the most beautiful male martial artist of the current generation sure doesn't hurt his cause). 

Anyway...so I bought a round of drinks to the local drunks, got information, and in the meantime Madame Yu (I think she's Wife #7 or 8...don't quote me) hired rooms. Given how the clan dresses (and yes, that applies to my character as well) when we left, I was wondering whether the locals might try something stupid. 
So I was paying more attention than usual. That is how I noticed Biggest Sister following us. 
That said, I didn't know, back than, that she was called Biggest Sister. If anything, she seemed to be following Madame Yu 7th/8th, the respectable Aunt Teacher! 
So I told my auntie to keep moving forward when we take a turn...and just pulled myself up, getting to the roof. 
If the big girl I'd spotted following us was to move after her, I'd want to talk. 
Sure enough, when the 30-something girl appeared behind us on the village's street, she was surprised at not seeing me. But then she decided to follow. 
I dropped on her head, literally, and went for a grapple. She reacted with a surprised "you're direct, ain't you"...and tried to do the same. 
It soon became something closer to an MMA/BJJ - I wasn't sure she meant wrong, so I didn't try to hurt her, and she seemed to be trying more to hug me than anything else...which made me even more reluctant to try and break any of her bones. 
At the end, the GM ruled she had me in a headlock near her bosom, and I had locked her elbow. So we started talking, just as Madame Yu stayed nearby, ready to kick her head in, if necessary. 
Then Biggest Sister introduced herself and revealed she was following...me! A nice boy who practised kung-fu? She was totally hot for some of that action! 
Ah well, I didn't mind. But I wasn't up for it, not immediately. 
"You'll have to talk this out with my wife!", my character said. 
"You're married?", she exclaimed. I used that moment to free my neck, and got up, still not releasing her. 
"I'll introduce you." 
So, while Biggest Sister was pondering whether I'm joking, I lead her to my wife. "Hi, honey, she said she wants to talk with you...she seems to kinda like me, so I decided to have you introduced." 
And then I let them have a girls' talk, and went to the Two-Timing Cockerel, in the hopes of finding out who those Jade Maidens were, and how likely they were to become Jade Girls instead... 
Behind me, I heard the following exchange. 
"Hey, I was just trying to find out if he's married to that chick he was with!" 
"No, she's my aunt. And I don't care you want to fuck him, he's a big boy and can deal with you - what I'm wondering is, aren't you married? I don't want problems with a jealous husband or something!" 
And then I knew when I came back, I'd get a full report on who the visitor was. 
Turned out, I was right. And TTC knew the Jade Maidens...but wasn't hot on the idea of meeting the head Jade Maiden, carrying the nightmarefuel-worthy*** name "Righteous Maiden" (I suggested we should call her "Old Raisin"). And he hinted she didn't want to see him, either. 
Why? She was afraid he might take...liberties...with her sect members. (And he did indeed plan to, so she was right - but that she'd rather have those girls waste their youth, seemed totally monstruous to us!) 
Then I went back, and found out my wife had retracted her objections to Biggest Sister: there was no husband. She was living alone with her 6 brothers...who were kidnapped by some "Brother Wolf" guy! He had her jumping on a leash since then (and make no mistake, Biggest Sister's Qi was as stronger than mine as her body was taller). 
Last time she disobeyed, she'd received the hand of one of her bros as a warning. 
We concluded that Brother Wolf wasn't the kindest character...but then, if it was about ruthlessness, my wife probably beats him. TTC could probably beat him in a fight, and I could beat his inevitable arguments that he was doing the right thing by quoting the classics! 
Or so we were planning when we promised Biggest Sister to go and free her brothers. Hey, Brother Wolf's fortress was just half a day's travel! Why not make a detour? 
A man might think of one thing, but the venerable ancestors often have different plans. 

* Those are the fucking creators of the martial arts in the setting, FYI. And yes, it means the setting has Martial Arts Intelligent Design instead of evolution...but by the rules, we can also create Techniques. 
The ramifications of that are something we haven't fully explored, yet. 
**Yes, that was a reference. 
***At least it works like that on people from the Yu clan!