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WuXia Adventure: The Tale of the Crocodile's Daughter

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The Tale of the Crocodile’s Daughter

 

Setting: This scenario is set during the Qing Dynasty approximately during the year 1672, at this point in time China is ruled by the Manchus of the North who conquered it approximately two generations prior, ending the Ming Dynasty. True "Han" Chinese of course hate their Manchu masters and there are endless plots, especially among the WuXia to defeat and dethrone the Manchu. The Manchu, on the other hand, use their own Martial Arts masters, less patriotic mercenary WuXia, and foreigners skilled in the martial arts (such as Tibetan Lama Warrior Monks or Koreans) to counter the WuXia threat.

 

For more info go here.

 

Dramatis Personae:

 

Crocodile Jinn: A giant boisterous warrior who wields an iron oar as his weapon of choice. In his youth a noted WuXia, he later formed the Sons of the Sea Dragon Escort Agency with a number of his fellow Xia so that they could make an honest living. Eventually his escort agency became famous, and he became a rich and powerful figure in NanJing. He has nine wives, many daughters and sons, and a great number of grandchildren. He is a hospitable man who loves to meet and befriend skilled fighters whenever he is able to in order to stay active in the martial world. [HERO NOTES: Jinn should be built as a powerful and experienced warrior who is superhumanly strong because of his training, and very difficult to harm. He is not quite at his prime, but has gained enough skill levels to compensate for that.]

 

Lady Moonlight: The mysterious Lady Moonlight appeared in the martial world a number of years previous and has made a name for herself as an agent of the Manchu government, possessing an Imperial Edict that allows her almost unlimited power and freedom. A ravishing beauty in her early 30’s, she always wears white, and is extremely temperamental and fickle, clearly corrupted by the power she wields. Vengeful and crafty, she is a dragon lady in the truest sense. [HERO NOTES: She should be built to take on the whole party of whatever campaign she’s in, and her weapon of choice is the sword. In my own campaign she had 10 HTH CSLs and 5 Damage classes in addition to her high DEX, Qi abilities and martial maneuvers from Kung Fu. She’s bad news, and not meant for the players to confront directly if they wish to live.]

 

“Snowtop” Chou: First son of the Chou Family Bodyguard Agency, Snowtop (so called because he was born with white hair, although he’s not an albino) is a charming and likeable traditional Chinese gentleman in his late 20’s. He’s well read, well mannered, loves to test his fighting skills, and doing his best to live up to the traditions of the head of the agency which he recently inherited. He was also recently married, not exactly by his own choice, to Miss Lily, who basically used his sense of honor against him to gain herself a rich man. He’s not happy about the situation, but has resigned himself to his fate. [HERO NOTES: Snowtop is a skilled swordsman, and should be the equal of the best swordsman in the PC group if there is one. He’s the heroic leader of the enemy team, and should be built as the equal to any PC.]

 

Miss Lily: The daughter of a tavern owner, Miss Lily is an uncouth sneak, tramp and as money-minded as they come. She is quite beautiful, and dresses quite provocatively (she looks and dresses like an older Mai Shiranui), and would be quite charming if she just kept her mouth shut. She’s not a bad person, but if there’s a Chinese character for Narcissistic, her picture is beside the dictionary entry. Nobody can figure out how she ended up with Snowtop, and neither of them is telling. She is loyal to him, however, and takes her duties as his wife surprisingly seriously. [HERO NOTES: Thanks to a Xia who paid his bills by teaching the Tavern owner’s kids, Miss Lily is actually a master of Bagua, and has learned a very potent special technique. She has the ability to add the damage classes of any attack against her which she counters with a martial throw and add them to the damage of the throw. (I.e. If she’s hit with an 8D6 attack which she defends against successfully, she can throw her opponent for her normal martial throw damage +8D6!) She was built to counter a martial artist Brick in my campaign who loved haymakers a little too much…]

 

”Spider” Chan: A scrawny ugly dwarf with an attitude, Spider crawled out of a mountain fighting school to earn himself a reputation as a top fighter and bounty hunter. He’s covered in chains and ropes, which he uses liberally on any opponents who decide to test his Kung Fu. [HERO NOTES: Spider is a master of Spider Style Kung Fu, a style based around binds, holds and breaks. He uses his ropes and chains to bind any opponent he faces in combat, as they try to hit him, he binds their limbs and slowly ties them up. The perfect man for taking targets alive.]

 

“General” Chang: Not just a nickname, the bearded hulking Chang really was a mighty general in the Manchu armies during the last round of wars and renowned as both a fighter and general. However, he made the wrong political enemies and was ousted from his post after the wars, turned into a penniless wanderer and forced to take what work he could get. Snowtop encountered him in a NanJing marketplace one day and when he realized who the general was, he hired him as his force leader on the spot. Now the grateful general trains and leads the Chou family forces, which have grown quite a bit under his leadership. [HERO NOTES: The General is a master with the Spear; he knows many different techniques for dealing with single or multiple opponents in combat. In addition, he is also very tough and strong, although not superhumanly so.]

 

 

The Adventure!

 

Chapter One: The Smiling Crocodile's Den

 

The PCs, having started to make a name for themselves, are invited to dinner by the head of the Sons of the Sea Dragon Escort Agency, "Lord Crocodile" Jinn. Lord Jinn is one of the leaders of the local Jiang Hu community in Nanjing, and a very sociable fellow. Thus he makes a point of introducing himself to any newcomers of note, both to check them out and to see if they are people of value or just more troublemakers come to add to the pot.

 

Upon their arrival at Lord Jinn's large and spacious home, the PCs will be greeted by Lord Jinn's servants and taken into the main dining hall which is a large well decorated and spacious room that has a long "U" shaped table facing towards large double doors at the end. (These go to Jinn's large garden.) They will find Lord Jinn waiting for them (seated at the midpoint of the "U" of course) who will rise and greet his guests very warmly. To his right is seated in right hand man “Silverhook” Jang, and “Two Strike” Li and “Drunken” Po, who are two top members of his agency. After the introductions finish, Jinn's Nine wives will arrive, and he will introduce each of them to the PCs.

 

Once the introduction of Jinn's wives is over, he will ask the PCs to sit to his left in order of seniority, with the most senior of course sitting beside Jinn himself. Jinn's wives will sit at the ends of the "U" in the remaining chairs. (If the GM wants interaction with them and the PCs, then he may sit some of them next to the PCs, but otherwise they will sit across from the PCs on the other side of the "U", about 15 meters away. (This is a BIG table!))

 

Dinner will then be served, and Jinn and his fellows will ask the PC's about their adventures thus far, their own accomplishments and backgrounds. Jinn especially is curious about their moral character, so he will make a point of asking the most senior of the PCs about his view of Sima Qu's WuXia virtues, and which they think are the most important. He actively wants to discuss philosophy with the PCs, and this should be roleplayed out as a way of reminding the PCs of the WuXia code and getting them thinking in character. (No rolls involved!)

 

Once dinner is done, Jinn will inform the PCs that he has a special treat for them, and that he has requested a favor from an old friend in their honour. At which point he will clap his hands and some musicians will come out and set up as the lights are dimmed, then the musicians will begin to play a traditional Chinese melody. Once the melody has gone a few bars, the PCs will hear a beautiful voice singing, perhaps one of the most beautiful they have ever heard. Then a woman will slowly walk into the center of the room, she is Lady Rose, the most exclusive and famous Courtesan in NanJing, and her beauty is as legendary as the tales tell. She will sing for the PCs, and wander around the room as she sings, smiling at each of them in turn and capturing their hearts. (Major PRE attacks all around! Actually, when I ran this, I had an actual old style Chinese song I played, and a picture of a beautiful traditional Chinese girl to show my players just to bring out the full effect.)

 

Just as Lady Rose is finishing her song, the double doors at the end of the hall will explode open! The lamplights will flicker as the wind rushes in, and along with the wind Lady Moonlight will fly into the room. She will land in the middle of the room, and proudly announce the first line of her poem with a haughty smirk, and then suddenly turn and take a poke at one of the PCs with her Jian sword.

 

Of course at this point a fight will break out, and the GM should run it accordingly as Lady Moonlight dances around the room taking half-hearted swings and pokes at the PCs while proudly calling out lines from her poem (see Appendix One) on each of her phases. (GM note: All her levels should be in DCV, it's important the PC's don't actually manage to tag her. Fudge things a little if you have to, she shouldn't seriously harm anyone, or be harmed, this fight is for show.) If the PCs are paying attention, they will quickly noticed that Lord Jinn himself will remain seated during all of this, and motion for his men to do the same, preferring to watch the PCs in action, and waiting to see what Lady Moonlight is really up to. Lady Rose has of course retreated offstage, perhaps escorted by a PC.

 

Once she reaches the second last line of her poem, Lady Moonlight will grab a chair and toss it into the center of the room facing Lord Jinn, then for her last phase she will flip onto the chair and sit, giving the last line of her poem with a smirk. By this point, most Players will have caught on that they are watching a plot event, and should hold their attacks. If they insist on attacking her, Lord Jinn will order them to stop, he wants to see what she's come for.

 

Once things are calm, Lady Moonlight will announce that she has come for Lord Jinn's answer to the question she posed to him the previous week. She wants to know where he stands, does he stand with the Manchus or does he crawl with the dogs?

 

Jinn will answer her by saying that he is a simple businessman with no interest in politics, and prefers to stay out of such matters. She has disrupted his dinner party, and he would ask her to kindly leave before he has to show her out.

 

Lady Moonlight will smirk and tell him that she expected him to say that, so she is going to explain her question in another way. Which is more important to him, the life of his firstborn son? Or the life of his firstborn daughter?

 

She knows that right now, to the South his son is traveling carrying a letter which Jinn has sent to the traitors who rule the rebel provinces to the South. She does not know what is in that letter, but she is very sure it is important or he would not have sent his son to carry it.

 

At the same time, she also knows that Jinn's daughter "Little Butterfly" is traveling down from ShangHai city in the North with his grandchildren. They will arrive in a few days, coming to see him as they do every year.

 

So, she has sent out two units of troops (a unit being 50 men or more), one to kill his Son and retrieve the letter, one to "meet" his daughter and grandchildren. This choice is very simple, if he chooses to save his daughter, he will have proven his loyalty to the Manchu by allowing them to capture what was obviously a traitor. (Thus implying the letter will be used to hold him under her will.) If he chooses to save his son, then his daughter and grandchildren will have a "terrible accident", and he will learn the price to be paid for not making his mind up quicker.

 

Jinn is furious, and his wives are crying, he yells at her to get out, and she does so with a haughty smirk, turning and flying out of the room and into the night. (She may also make a comment or two to the PCs about their lack of fighting abilities, or manhood...whatever the GM wishes...)

 

At this point, Jing, who is his first wife, will turn to Jinn and remind him aloud that most of their men are away on assignment, they don't have enough men to save both children. Jinn's right hand man will agree.

 

Of course, at this point the PCs will recognize their chance to jump in and offer their services to their host (if they haven't already done so, being good heroes), both to help him and because it will piss Lady Moonlight off. He will of course be reluctant at first, but at last agree (maybe at Jing's urgings) to let the PCs help out.

 

Once that is done, Jinn will suggest the following plan. His son will be taking routes that only he and Jinn know about, so Jinn will take what men he has and try to find him before the Manchu's do. He will sent the PCs with a letter of introduction to find and warn his daughter, who will be traveling with his grandchildren and their servants.

 

Little Butterfly and the kids will be traveling by boat down the great canal, and even if the troops were sent out this morning it should take at least 5 days for them to rendezvous with the boat on the canal network. Jinn will pull out a map and point to the area on the canal where the army would most likely meet the boat, and tell the PCs they will need to reach this point before the army and travel upstream to meet the boat and divert them away from the army by getting them off the canal. Then they can take a back route to get to NanJing instead.

 

This is China, of course, so the PCs will have to travel on foot, but since there are fewer of them than there are of the army, they should be able to get ahead pretty easily unless they're lazy about it. He will help the PCs get any traveling supplies they need, and even give them a little cash if they are low, and of course give them the letter. He will thank them with all his heart, as will his wives, and wish them the speed of leopards.

 

Chapter Two: Meeting at Feng's Crossing.

 

After two day's journey, the PCs will arrive at Feng's crossing on the Han river. The river is about 2km wide at this point, and fairly deep. The only way across is a barge-ferry which runs along a large chain suspended between two points on either shore, the ferry is enough to hold 20-30 men or fewer with pack animals and cargo, and takes about 4 hours to be pulled across and back. (Which is done using ropes and horses.) There are large villages at either end of the crossing which have flourished supplying food and lodgings for travelers, since this is the only viable crossing point for several days journey in either direction. There are some other boats, but they will deposit any travelers far downstream by the time they reach the other side.

 

Basically, the PCs need to take this ferry.

 

Now, the downside is that when they reach the village they will discover the current ferry is halfway across, and it is carrying none other than half of the Army Unit they are racing against. The other half of said unit are milling around the dock waiting to board, and there about 20 of them, a few too many for the PCs to face off against.

 

The PCs may consider trying to cut the chain, or damage the ferry system, but point out to them that this whole area's livelihood relies on this ferry system, and they would be ruining the lives of a lot of people if they were to do such a thing. The best thing for them to do is simply wait, and then once the are across they can worry about racing ahead.

 

With this in mind, the PCs will loiter around, doing whatever it is they do, like gambling, trading, trying to cause trouble with the soldiers, etc. There are a lot of traders and caravans here too, waiting to cross, it's a busy place.

 

While they are waiting, one of the PCs (who should be swordsman if possible, or weapon master of some sort) will be approached by a handsome well dressed young man with pure white hair. He addresses the PC by name, and reminds the PC that they are old friends or sparring partners or drinking buddies (or whatever is appropriate) who haven't seen each other for a while. The man is "Snowtop" Chou, and with him is a beautiful and Voluptuous woman he introduces as his wife, Ms. Lily.

 

Snowtop and his wife will engage the PC(s) in the normal conversation of old friends, asking about how life is, and why they're here. When asked why he's here, Snowtop will glance around and tell them that he's on a mission for his father's bodyguard agency. He's leading a squad of troops to meet the daughter of an important man, and escort her and her kids back to NanJing.

 

Of course the PCs should clue in at this point he's talking about Little Butterfly, but if they don't then just let the conversation continue without making it too obvious. Actually, since they are old friends, Snowtop will offer to let the PC and his friends cross on the next ferry, since he's got it reserved, they can cross with him and his troops.

 

Assuming the PCs take him up on his offer, they will indeed be able to cross with him and his troops, and on the other side they will find a giant bearded man and a short goblin-like man waiting for them with the rest of the troops. They will be introduced to these two as "General" Chiang and "Spider" Chan, two more of the men from the Chou Family Bodyguard Agency. The General is actually mildly famous, and the PCs should make rolls to recognize him (8<), he was a general in one of the Manchu armies during the last big war in the North and is a warrior of some note.

 

Snowtop will of course offer to let the PCs come with them, since they are traveling in the same direction, but most likely the PCs will decline and sneak off to run ahead. If they decide to travel with Snowtop's forces, it's up the GM what happens from there.

 

Chapter Three: The Crocodile's Daughter

 

If the PCs are smart, they will rush ahead, reach the village where Snowtop's army is heading to. There are villages spaced evenly along the canal sides for boatmen and merchants to spend the night at, each of them roughly a half day's walk apart. The PCs should arrive at the designated village the night before Little Butterfly is scheduled to pass through this village, just before dark.

 

At this point, they will have two choices, either spend the night at an Inn here, or continue upstream during the night to try and reach the village just North of them where Little Butterfly's party most likely will be spending the night.

 

If they spend the night at that village, they will be awakened in the middle of the night as the Army Unit marches into the village at about 3am, having been doing a fast march all through the previous day and night to get here. They will find themselves the middle of the troops, and it's up to them how to deal with the situation from there, since the troops aren't actually after them. (Unless they did something to make the troops want to get them.)

 

If they head upstream, they will arrive just before dawn, and discover there are several possible parties staying in this village tonight. One of them indeed is Little Butterfly's group, and once they make contact and give her the letter she will agree to go with them after demanding more information about what is going on. This is also the likely point the PCs will discover that the not-so Little Butterfly has 7 young kids (3 girls, 3 boys, 1 baby boy) and 4 servants (1 old man, 3 younger women) with her. Not exactly a road-ready group.

 

From here it's up to the PCs to decide how to proceed, and in truth they will come up with one route or another, the GM should let them do whatever they want, as long as they are headed to NanJing.

 

Chapter Four: The Temple of the Heavenly Fist

 

After about a half-day's travel, one of the children will develop a fever, probably one of the little girls, but whoever will evoke more sympathy. She has a bad illness, and the PCs will be informed she needs medical attention, more than anything they have right now.

 

The PCs will be informed (via an Area Knowledge Roll, by a Servant or someone on the road) that there is a temple nearby which specializes in healing arts. The monks there are very knowledgeable, and should probably be able to help.

 

Assuming they go to the temple (and they should be encouraged to do so), they will travel up a steep mountainside path to find a most unconventional temple. It is literally carved from the side of a mountain, and consists of a large walled-in courtyard at the bottom of a cliff face, with lots of window openings visible on the cliff-face itself. The temple is actually built around a deep network of caves which the monks expanded on and turned into a full temple network inside the mountain rock cliff side.

 

When they go to the massive front gates and knock, they will eventually be greeted by an old monk, who will recognize their situation and welcome them inside. He will take them into the cave network and up to a room which has "windows" facing out over the valley, they can even see the road they came up on from this window. As he does so, they will likely notice that he is the only monk they see, and when asked he will tell them that the others are "in deep meditation" within the temple.

 

He will give them beds in a single large room, and get food, water and medicine for the little child, telling them that they will need to remain here since the cave network is large and dangerous. He will check with them from time to time to make sure they are okay, and see how the child is doing.

 

Being typical PCs, they are likely to wander once he is gone, this is fine.

 

Tell them they find a staircase leading up near the end of the passageway outside, and if they follow it to the top it will take them to an outcropping where there's a small garden and tree. At the edge of the outcropping, a late middle-aged monk of powerful stature sits in meditation. He is the abbot of the Monastery, and this is his garden. He will pay little attention to the PCs, but is aware they are there, and is listening and judging them by what they say and do.

 

Further explorations will reveal little, no monks, just lots of empty dorm rooms with few personal effects, a kitchen, some prayer rooms, maybe a training room and a library, the place is big, but empty. When you want them to go back, just have the old monk find them and shoo them back to their rooms with a little reminder not to wander.

 

If they ask about where the monks are, he will again say "in deep meditation", and if pressed will say they are preparing to deal with a great evil. (What this is, is up to the GM. If it means anything related to the campaign at all. Suggestions include a corrupt official and his personal army, or perhaps a rival temple.)

 

In the end, the PCs will gather in the room, and spend the night.

 

Chapter Five: Death Duel at Dawn

 

When they wake up the next morning, Snowtop's army will be at the front door of the monastery, having tracked them to this point. While they are panicking, the old monk will come in and ask them how they are, and at this point they will probably point out there is an army at the front door. (And of course there is no other way out of here, they will be informed. Especially not with the kids.)

 

The old monk will listen, and then say he will deal with the situation.

 

He will go down, and they will see him open the door and talk to the army representatives....and then after a few minutes, let them right in! They will march into the courtyard and set up, and the old monk will come back up to see the PCs with Snowtop beside him, who will look rather pissed off when he sees the PCs, and be quite angry.

 

He will accuse the PCs of kidnapping Little Butterfly's party, and of being the ones who were sent to harm them while he was sent to protect them! When they argue with him, as proof of his claim, he will produce a letter like the one the PCs have which states that Snowtop has been sent to protect Little Butterfly's party, and she will authenticate that it too bears her father's seal! (He is in fact telling the truth as far as he knows it! Although the letter is a fake made by Lady Moonlight's agents, Snowtop does not in fact know this, and is just as noble as the PCs in his intentions. The Chou family are actually good guys too! They are just being manipulated by Lady Moonlight's schemes, which work to set the WuXia of NanJing against each other in bloody conflict to eliminate potential problems for her Manchu masters.)

 

Little Butterfly is now very confused, and the Old Monk will not seem willing to take a side in this. Just when things are at their most chaotic, the Abbot will appear, and ask what the problem is, he will listen, and then say that this must be decided based on the rules of this temple...trial by combat! Obviously, the gods will give the mandate of heaven to the ones who are righteous, the winner is obviously the ones who are telling the truth!

 

The PC's, not having much choice, will agree to this, and it will be the PC's vs. Snowtop's team (Snowtop, Ms Lily, Spider Chan and The General, plus any army lieutenants the GM wants to make fill out the roster and make the teams even) in a series of 1 on 1 battles. Whichever side scores the most victories wins, and the winner will be allowed to leave with Little Butterfly's party while the losers will have to remain here at the temple for 1 week's time in the Monk's custody.)

 

Give the PCs a little time to prepare, then send them down to the courtyard to engage in a good old-fashioned series of duels, loser is the first one to hit the ground. These duels are not to the death, and the players should be told that their goal is to knock the opponents out of combat, not kill them. (Snowtop and friends will also be fighting to wound and defeat, not kill.)

 

Basically from here, there are two outcomes:

 

1. The PCs lose, in which case the two monks will indeed put them under custody, locking them in a room in the temple where they will be fed and taken care of for a week and then released. (If they haven't long escaped, run off after the army and tried a rescue attempt, which is up to the GM to handle...)

 

2. The PCs win, which of course is the more likely result, in which case Snowtop will refuse to accept the result, saying he cannot allow the PCs to harm innocents like this and order his army to seize them. The GM should allow for one turn of big battle or less, then have the Abbot of the monastery let out a loud wailing cry which fills the battlefield. Within moments, warrior monks, about 200 of them, will begin pouring out of the temple windows and seize everyone to stop them from fighting, knocking out any who resist. (Mind you, this can also happen if the PCs lose and start a fight...) When they are done, the Abbot will declare the PCs have the Mandate of Heaven, and they are free to go.

 

Snowtop will curse the PCs, and swear bloody vengeance if they harm Lord Jinn's daughter or her children, but there is little else he can do as the PCs gather up and go. The monks will supply a cart for the little girl to ride on, but she is already doing much better, her fever having broken.

 

Victorious, the PCs will leave the monastery and head off to NanJing.

 

Epilogue

 

The PCs will reach NanJing safely, and return Lord Jinn's daughter to him and her mother, as well as their grandkids. They will have it confirmed that they were indeed working on the side of angels in this case, and Lord Jinn will praise them as the good and noble men they are. They should gain Crocodile Jinn as a favor, and The Sons of the Sea Dragon Escort Agency as a contact at 11< for free as experience from this adventure. A big party will be thrown in their honour and there will be much celebrating, for Lord Jinn managed to save his Son as well, and Lady Moonlight's plan has been thwarted.

 

Of course, the PCs have just made an enemy of Lady Moonlight, and she is not a good enemy to make...And, what of Snowtop and the Chou Family? They will discover that they were used when they get back and find Lord Jinn's daughter and grandchildren to be alive and well, but where will they go from there? And, of course now there is bad blood between the Chou Family and the Sons of the Sea Dragon, which could lead to other conflicts...

 

Appendix One:

 

Lady Moonlight’s Poem

 

In the Crocodile’s lair many gather,

Dogs dressed as men drink wine,

They bark and yip meaningless words,

Plotting against heaven’s true son,

But none escape the moonlight’s ear,

The moon’s eye sees men’s true hearts,

Moonlight streams into the room,

Heaven’s judge comes to pay her respects.

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