The Duel of Five Rings
Players: Jason, Logan, Bobby, Fritz, Lindsey (in absentia)
Date: 1 JUN 2014
1173, Last Year in the Reign of Emperor Tadaka I
Last Days in the Court of the Iron Flower
In the Eleventh Hour
Bayushi Kiwadoi discovered that the Emerald Coin she found on Matsu Hotaru’s dead body had awakened as a nemuranai. Hotaru’s Coin began to glow with a soft jade light and when held up to the eye allowed the Scorpion Magistrate to pierce the veil between illusion and reality. When looking through it, Kiwadoi was able to perceive spirits and see the invisible.
Bayushi Konitsu began to feel the full weight of Amigawa’s final words, her curse upon his soul. He felt the constant tug towards death and realized that while the leader of the now dead Han Shan Otokodate lived he would forever be cursed.
Roshugan, formerly Daidoji Ishi, heard the whispering voice of the Reforged Spear imploring him to ‘Bring them all, bring them all to the Gate of the Dead and finish this business of mortals.’
The PCs chose to gather themselves and head to the Kyuden in order to resolve all political conflict prior to the pending battle. At the gates, they were stopped by the loyal guards of Rikishi. Upon demanding entry, they were met by Gion Kaiyoikomachi, one of the daimyo’s advisors, who ordered the characters to turn back with words far above her station. Ikoma Jun slapped her down, a great swathe of her caked white makeup coming away in his palm. The old and decrepit woman underneath was revealed and pushed to the edge of the Splendid Ramp where Bayushi Kiwadoi, Emerald Magistrate of the City, casually kicked her over the edge for her temerity.
When the PCs entered the hostile court they noted their opposition in defense and places of honor around the ronin daimyo. Miya Santomu, Hiruma Iniko, Doji Mikohime (O), Yoritomo Gendou, and Shiba Akiko stood poised and ready to strike. The remainder of the court, both minor members and hostage NPCs, stood by to listen to the conflict.
“Hiruma Iniko ensures her hold over certain powerful members of the Emperor’s Court will allow the daimyo to forever control the province. Yoritomo Gendou’s vast wealth and Shiba Akiko’s spiritual advisement and allies will assist in the daimyo’s reign. Doji Mikohime’s pledge is beyond reproach as a sister of the Crane Clan Champion. Rikishi does not need you, for he has us, his loyal advisors!” Miya Santomu’s words rang out in arrogance through the court and were immediately met by the calm confidence of Ikoma Jun. The Lion and his allies revealed before the court the falsehood of Santomu and exposed him as an old and forgotten Shosuro Actor. As the political tension escalated, sides were formed and lines were drawn and blood was certain to be spilled when Susumu, Imperial Advisor to the Emperor stepped forward and offered an ancient way to resolve the matters at hand.
The Duel of Five Rings
The ancient form of dueling dates back to before the Dawn of the Empire and was believed to have been discovered by Mirumoto in his journeys. The Duel required five opponents, each representing an element, to face off against one another as representations of the Elemental Rings. Ring need not face Ring, but each person must represent the kami in order to draw their intent. Upon completion of the duel, the little elemental kami would ensure no ties and a single victorious side by joining with those who were most worthy. Mirumoto believed that the harmonious dance would ensure only the righteous could win.
_The five opponents need not face one another with Iaijutsu. Santomu’s faction was chosen:
- Rikishi, the Ronin Daimyo, vowed to take up arms himself as his views had been poisoned by the words of his advisors. He became Water and was pitted against Bayushi Kiwadoi (Air) in an Iaijutsu Duel.
- Doji Mikohime, the Red Crane, represented Air and chose finally to re-engage with Tadaka Eideiyohime (Fire) to settle their long-standing tie at the Topaz Championship.
- Yoritomo Gendou, a merchant and courtier, represented Earth by way of his sumo champion, Moshi Kameyo. Kameyo faced off against Ikoma Jun (Void), spiritual power against spiritual power.
- Seppun Tachibana, yojimbo to Eideiyohime, in a surprise choice, decided to ally with Santomu’s faction because he believed Bayushi Konitsu (Water) to be the cause of his True Love’s death. Tachibana loved Atari Damare and could not forgive the Scorpion his trespasses. Tachibana represented Fire.
- Shiba Akiko was Void and stepped forth to face Roshugan, the former Daidoji Ishi, (Earth) with the intent to destroy him in a battle of yarijutsu.
OOC: Kameyo cast a few spells, to include Sharing the Strength of Many on his side and was intent upon casting the Kami’s Strength in his first round, but was kept from doing so by Jun.
The duel was initiated with fantastic results on the side of the PCs. While each was disparate in their initiative rankings, each went before his own opponent. Roshugan tried a quick strike and failed, only to return the following round and seal the fate of Shiba Akiko with the power of a kiho. Akiko stood, poised with her yari, frozen as her lifeblood ceased to flow within her form. Ikoma Jun witnessed a spiritual form attempting to aid the Phoenix warrior and exposed the truth to Roshugan, who slew the servant within which it hid. The spirit revealed itself to be that of Ikoma Jidai, Jun’s dead father, and raced toward the Imperial Advisor to take control.
Jun crashed forward into Moshi Kameyo after having sealed away his spiritual connection to the great Bear spirit within him. The one-armed descendant of Ikoma himself locked the massive Moshi in a vice grip and with painful and terrible slowness, began to twist the neck of the Mantis sumo. In the confusion of the duel, Miya Santomu attempted to flee and two of Roshugan’s spies captured the false Imperial before he could flee.
In the final round of combat, three Iaijutsu duels finished with simultaneous deadliness. Seppun Tachibana, distraught servant of Eideiyohime, was cut instantly in twain diagonal from stem to sternum by the Ghost General. Tadaka Eideiyohime and Doji O once more fell into a deadly kharmic strike, the wounds leaving the Imperial daughter severely wounded and Doji O stabbed straight through her heart. Eideiyohime fell to the ground, dying rapidly, and was only saved later by the timely intervention of Kitsu Anoru’s healing magic. Finally, Bayushi Kiwadoi, with calm and casual precision, removed the head of the ronin lord from his body.
Yoritomo Gendou, witnessing his imminent demise, fled from the room only to be stopped as Ikoma Jun finally snapped the neck of Moshi Kameyo and launched the massive warrior atop Gendou’s form. Roshugan finished his frozen prey and destroyed forever the Kolat Akiko with the Reforged Spear of Kowareta, Lord of Death.
Ikoma Jun witnessed the spirit of his father attempt to take over the form of the Imperial Advisor only to be swallowed whole by a terrifying Kumo spirit (spider) hidden within the Advisor. Bayushi Konitsu removed the false Santomu’s legs and left him for dead, but Roshugan gave him pity and ended his life. Jun, tired of having to deal with the poisonous nature of their enemies, completed the Duel by crushing Gendou’s skull beneath his foot.
The After-Sex Cigarette
The PCs had Hiruma Iniko taken prisoner and freed the remainder of the court and removed themselves to a higher portion of the Kyuden in order to discuss teh matters at hand. The Battle of Iron and Sorrow loomed on the horizon and the Spirit Army from the Lake of Sorrows was an inevitable avalanche looming upon the Palace of the Iron Flower.
Below are the full details for preparation of the Battle of Iron and Sorrow. The information is also posted in a file on the Facebook page.
The Battle of Iron and Sorrow
Similar in design to the mechanics of the Battle of Tsuma, the Battle of Iron and Sorrow will be laid out in a fashion which allows the PCs to capitalize on their earned allies and personal abilities. Political skill, deception, perception, and skill with arms and battle will all come into play…if you wish it. However, because your ranks and skills are far above what they were at Tsuma, the enemies in this Mass Battle will be far deadlier and more dangerous throughout. See below for more information.
- Stop the Army of Sorrow from taking the Gate of the Dead
The Tiers of Battle:
Each of the following are the Levels of Engagement laid out like the Battle of Tsuma. Each round of the Mass Battle a PC may choose to move up between the Tiers (no more than two shifts per round). After each round of the Enemy winning, the weakest level of Reserves will no longer exist until, eventually, the entire battle is Heavily Engaged.
I have made a couple of changes to this particular battle. The Battle of Tsuma was supposed to represent a sort of Last Stand with only one fallback point. The Battle of Iron and Sorrow has multiple paths and points of power that must be dealt with throughout. Additionally, it’s possible to give up one or another of the defenses in order to strengthen the defenses of the others. Each level of engagement will have multiple choices for location.
1. Beyond the Iron Wall/The Seto no Mori – Heavily Engaged (5k3 Damage)
2. Sannomaru (Lowest Tier)
a. The Splendid Ramp; Tea Room Tower – Engaged (3k2 Damage)
3. Ninomaru (2nd Tier)
a. Kurawa Pathways; The Reflection Pool – Disengaged (2k1 Damage)
4. Honmaru (Innermost Tier)
a. Star Observatory; Shinden Emma-O – Reserves (0k0 Damage)
5. Inner Kyuden
a. The Gate of the Dead; Grand Hall – Reserves (0k0 Damage)
Battle rolls are made normally for each turn. You can only do one Strategy per turn. Every 2 rounds of combat will see 1k1damage of wounds no matter where in the placement you are located due to the chaos and danger of the battle. These damage dice do not explode.
Allies and Neutral NPCs
Yasuki Jin (A)
Hida Kumo and Kaiu Mitsuhide (A)
Kuni Itsuki (N)
Kitsuki Rinjin (A)
Togashi Ango (A)
Akodo Morito (A)
Kitsu Anoru (A)
Yoritomo Zenwadi (A)
Isawa Riako (A)
Iuchi Saotome (N)
Shiba Bushime (N)
Seppun Tachibana (A)
Tadaka Eideiyohime (A)
Shinjo Usuia (N)
(A) = Ally
(N) = Neutral
Armies of Iron and Sorrow
* Army of the Ghost General (Player’s Side)
2 Kaisha (Company) = Approx. 9 Guntai worth of men to fight (~230)
• The Loyal Soldiers (primarily Scorpion and survivors from the ambush)
o Approx. 105 men remaining (4 Guntai)
• The City Defenders (made up of those primarily Lion Imperial Legionnaires who were in the city before the PCS)
o Akodo Morito is their Chui (Lieutenant)
o Approx. 125 remain Loyal (6 Guntai)
o 1 Guntai has been manipulated by Mieko’s group to think the PCs are villainous; they will only fight obvious threats (Tsuno), will not venture through the Gate of the Dead (or, if forced to, will not return to fight), and may have treacherous members
* The Army of Sorrow (Enemy’s Side)
The Legion of Sorrow (~42 Guntai)
• Full Legion (Daibutai) consisting of 6 Companies worth of Sorrowful Soldiers
o Each Company (Kaisha) = ~153 (6 Guntai)
I – Sorrowful Warriors
II – Sorrowful Warriors
III – Sorrowful Warriors
IV – Sorrowful Warriors
V – The Returned Han Shan Otokodate
• Devoutly loyal to Zenshin’s cause; led by the spirit of Amigawa/Oroku Saki
VI – The Legacy of the Forge
• Handpicked soldiers from Meido serving Zenshin directly; unwavering and unable to be swayed to the other side
o Led by Ghost Captains, Amigawa/Oroku Saki, and Zenshin
Tsuno Abaddon’s Warriors (7 Guntai)
• A full Company (Kaisha) = ~153 (7 Guntai)
o Tsuno Warriors, primarily those who have returned to life via Tsuno rituals and fought the PCs at the Battle of Tsuma
o Led by Tsuno Abaddon and two Soultwisters (Udakai and Chogan)
o Physical soldiers capable of being fought by anyone
Overwhelming means the opposing side has more than double the soldiers as their opponent
Losses Per Round
- As long as numbers are Overwhelming, even Winning causes a loss of 1 Guntai (see below)
- Losing causes a loss of 2 Guntai; if Overwhelming, also causes a loss of 1 Ally Unit (Special NPCs)
Mass Battle Rolls:
Note: Prior to the battle starting, the General may attempt to “Prepare the Field” by making a Mass Battle Roll TN 45 (+Raises) in order to “Store” one listed maneuver below.
Base TN: 40
* Failed Battle Roll: Forced Fall Back (The Army of Sorrow Advances)
* 1 Raise: Hold the Line (Stops the Advance for 1 Round; if this is NOT done, the Army of Sorrows Advances)
* (#) Raises: Scout the Field. This grants 1 Free Raise to the next Battle Roll.
* (#) Raises: Rally the Field. This gathers the troops into concerted lines and reduces the chaos in favor of the Allies. This causes a Free Hold the Line and +1 Raise to the next round.
* (#) Raises: Slay a Tsuno Soultwister (x2). This causes a disruption in the magic used by the Soultwisters. The round after a Soultwister dies the ENTIRE Tsuno Kaisha does not count as soldiers for the opposing side (reducing numbers that round). Permanently reduces the Raises required to Combat Tsuno Abaddon by 2.
* (#) Raises: Burn It Down. Destroy the Splendid Ramp and ignite key portions of the Kurawa Pathways on the 2nd Tier. This stalls the enemy, but forces you back. [Enemy Advances, but you gain Free Hold the Line next round and +4 Raises to the next Battle Roll] This can only be done once.
* (#) Raises: Combat Tsuno Abaddon. This maneuver requires successful raises AND a sacrifice of an Ally Unit for no other purpose. The Sacrificed Ally will face off against the Tsuno Warlord and, if failed, this maneuver may be used again. If Tsuno Abaddon dies, the entire Tsuno Kaisha abandons the field and the Ghost General gets +2 Free Raises next round.
* (#) Raises: Zenshin’s Last Stand. This maneuver may only be used if Zenshin has been discovered on the field of Battle (see Kiwadoi’s Specials). It requires the expenditure of one Ally Unit for no other purpose and, if they fail, may be attempted again. If Zenshin falls, the final [Secret Maneuver] may be attempted. Additionally, for one round the Army of Sorrow fails to advance and the Ghost General gains +4 Free Raises to his next roll.
* (#) Raises: [Secret] ??
Councilors of War
Much like the interactions with the War Council at the Battle of Tsuma, this specialized maneuver will enable the PCs to aid their commander in unique ways. However, in the Battle of Iron and Sorrow, the PCs are the primary leaders, so the maneuvers are somewhat different. Most of these maneuvers will be done through Role-play and dice rolls and they occur prior to the Ghost General’s Battle Rolls. Many are usable only once, others multiple times.
Fresh Eyes: Battle (Mass Battle)/Perception Roll TN 40. You spend the round surveying the field with a fresh set of eyes and relay your detailed information to the Ghost General. If successful, you grant 1 Free Raise to the Ghost General’s Battle Roll + 1 Free Raise per 2 Raises you make on this roll.
Sway the Non-Believer: Courtier (Manipulation)/Awareness Contested Roll against Target. You spend your time convincing one of the Neutral or Enemy NPCs of the power of your cause. If successful, you sway them one direction towards Ally (gaining more units to sacrifice for maneuvers). You may attempt to use different Skills based on your role-play choices.
Come One At A Time: Courtier (Manipulation)/Awareness Contested Roll Against Target. If target is an Ally, gain 2 Free Raises. You may choose alternate Skills based on your role-play choices. You convince one of the NPC Ally Units to Hold the Line against the Army of Sorrow for one round. You sacrifice this Ally NPC and the Ghost General gains the effects of the Hold the Line maneuver for a round. If you convince Akodo Morito, the Deathseeker, to perform this maneuver, it lasts for 2 rounds instead of one.
Wisdom of the Bat: Lore/Etiquette (Conversation)/Awareness TN 40. You engage in conversation with the wise Bat Clan Champion regarding the spiritual army and its possible weaknesses. If successful, you are able to glean specialized knowledge of the Army of Sorrow from the spiritual Champion and pass this knowledge on to the Ghost General. The minimum Battle TN reduces by 5 and you gain the maneuver Scout the Field for Free. For every 2 Raises made to this roll you may choose one of the two aforementioned benefits again (you must alternate if you make 4 or more Raises). This may only be done once per battle.
Words of the Advisor: [Your chosen method of convincing] Contested against the Imperial Advisor, Susumu. You spend time during this particular round convincing the Imperial Advisor to use his authority and power as a blunt force tool. Choose any NPC (Ally, Enemy, or Neutral) to be sacrificed for the Ghost General this round. Susumu threatens that individual with the full weight and power of his office. This may only be done once per battle.
Foil the Inevitable Betrayal: Investigation (Interrogation)/Awareness or Perception TN 45. Each round one or more of the Enemy NPCs will be attempting to undermine your side for their own benefit. You spend your time combatting the effects of each enemy and prevent The Inevitable Betrayal for this round.
The following maneuvers reacts the same as the above Councilors of War abilities. However, each focuses on a specific ability or power of each PC in the battle.
Illumination: Through the combined efforts of her own Investigatory skill and the awakened nemuranai gifted by Matsu Hotaru’s death, Kiwadoi may attempt on any round to locate the hidden mad monk, Zenshin. Zenshin is using illusion and the dead to hide amongst them, wreaking havoc with little danger of being discovered. The monk is personally guiding the Legacy of the Forge and up to 1-3 other Companies (Kaisha) at a time.
Roll Contested Investigation (Search)/Perception vs. Zenshin’s Stealth (Sneaking)/Agility. If successful, you are able to perceive the mad monk on the battlefield for this round opening the way to attack him. He will use his powers to vanish at the end of the round. Also, for each Raise made on this roll you may harry Zenshin and disrupt his control over the Companies to which he is directly linked. This causes the enemy side to temporarily “lose” those enemies for the purposes of determining the Overwhelmed Status.
Call the Ally: As the battle starts, Kiwadoi will feel an unusual presence amidst the Enemy side. She will feel a powerful draw merely awaiting a signal. There is no roll required for this maneuver. If you choose to perform it…(see GM’s Version for details)
The Ghost General Rises: In order to perform this maneuver, Konitsu must willingly lose a single round of the Battle Rolls (allowing the enemy to Advance). Konitsu taps into the power granted by the combination of his nemuranai and the Fan of Command. You must remove your mask and expose yourself as a Returned Spirit. Doing so will signal you as a target by the Enemy army and each round will potentially involve a duel against Zenshin, Tsuno Abbadon, Amigawa/Oroku Saki, or any number of enemies.
(See GM’s Version)
Seiyami’s Plan: Doji Seiyami remains with the considerable entourage of courtiers and allies during the Battle of Iron and Sorrow. She has contacted Bayushi Konitsu about a dark plan to use the chaos of battle to remove their Enemies. This maneuver does not require Konitsu to give up his normal Mass Battle Roll, but it can only be done once. Seiyami lies in wait and uses the Chaos of Battle to assassinate one of the enemies or neutral party NPCs. As a note, if this ability is used to target Rikishi, Daimyo of Kyuden Kurogane-Hana, Seiyami’s unborn child will be considered the legitimate heir.
Will of the Ancestors: Whether through training and time, the proximity to the powerful Gate of the Dead, or a combination of both, Ikoma Jun’s ancestral abilities awaken to new heights during the Battle of Iron and Sorrow. The field before holds enemies of Meido, Gaki-Do, Toshigoku, and possibly even Jigoku. Most of the realms of the new Meifumado are represented, save Yomi. Jun feels the call of Yomi and may attempt to bolster the Ally’s Army with these powers.
No matter your previous limits on summoning an Ancestor, you may attempt to do so again during the battle. If you succeed, the summoned Ancestor functions as an Ally that can be sacrificed.
Additionally (more importantly), you may choose to use your power in a different way. Instead of summoning a single ancestor, you open a temporary portal into Yomi and call forth a full Company (Kaisha) of Ancestors to bolster your side. These summoned soldiers are treated like any others on the field of battle and last until the end (or they are destroyed). As a reminder, a Kaisha contains 7 Guntai worth of soldiers.
Help from Beyond: Jun is well liked by the long-dead spirits awaiting in Meido and stuck in Ningen-Do. You may spend the round beseeching allied dead shugenja to send forth healing waves of energy over your allies for this round. Roll Spellcraft or Storytelling TN 50 to convince the spirits to send forth their balm. If successful, all NPC Allies and PC Allies on the field heal 5k5 wounds.
Spiritual Warfare: Ishi’s new position as the Chosen of Kowareta, the new Lord of the Dead, has awakened in him a kinship for the unquiet spirits of Zenshin’s Army. The Avatar of Meido may attempt to utilize that kinship against Zenshin and wrest control from the Mad Monk.
Make a Contested Meditation/Void Roll against Zenshin. If successful, you permanently sway the loyalties of a full Guntai of the Army of Sorrow to your side plus one additional Guntai worth of men for each Raise made on the roll. These soldiers immediately turn upon their allies and are attacked in turn.
This causes Zenshin to focus more of his attention on Ishi. Additionally, this type of spiritual warfare causes damage to both parties as it weakens their individual psyches. Damage: Determine level of Engagement. Each participant rolls 1k1 + Meditation + Void. Examine the Mass Battle Table for resulting damage.
The Guntai of the two Companies (Kaisha) within the Legacy of the Forge and Tsuno Abaddon’s men are immune to this power.
Abandon the Field: Ishi feels the constant call to power from Kowareta, the Lord of the Dead, in the Realm of Meido. Kowareta is under assault by the powers of the Tsuno and the Lord of Slaughter during this combat as well and Ishi’s Reforged Spear would prove of great use. If Ishi chooses to perform this maneuver, he gives up his mortal life and immediately dies. He may no longer affect the physical battlefield, but instead appears in the Heart of Meifumado, the Seat of Meido, on the spiritual side of the Gate of the Dead.
The Inevitable Betrayal and Other Events
Each round of combat one or more of the Enemy NPCs will seek to undermine the abilities of the players and get their own goals accomplished. These betrayals may not always be immediately detrimental to the players or even the battle, but will cause severe repercussions at some point in the game.
Hiruma Iniko (??)
*May not still be alive after the Duel of Five Rings.
Additionally, the opposing side will not simply throw troops at the defenders in the hope of winning the field. Each round they will attempt to wreak destruction via various methods.
“Spending” Loyal Ally Troops
Group Effort: Spend half a Guntai worth of soldiers to gain +1k0 to the Battle Roll. May be done multiple times at once.
Ally’s Sacrifice: Spend a single NPC Ally in lieu of losing a full Guntai at any time. Their sacrifice saves the greater army. Or, you may spend a single NPC ally in order to reroll a Battle Roll.
Headlong Into Death: Spend a full Guntai in order to gain a Free Raise to this Battle Roll. You may instead spend a single Ally NPC to gain 2 Free Raises in this manner.
Forced Heroic Opportunity: You may spend a PC in the same fashion as the Headlong Into Death maneuver. This forces the PC immediately into an Heroic Opportunity partially of their choosing. This grants 2 Free Raises to this round and, if the PC survives and is successful in the Heroic Opportunity, it grants a single Free Raise for the next Battle Round as well.