Difference between revisions of "The Whale Sage"

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* Yuwen Fire-Eye
 
* Yuwen Fire-Eye
 
* the Path of Knowledge
 
* the Path of Knowledge
* Sakong Yue
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* [[Sakong Yue]]
* Sakong Lu Chu
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* [[Sakong Lu Chu]]
 
* Mother Sakong Nan
 
* Mother Sakong Nan
 
* Sakong Yat-Sen
 
* Sakong Yat-Sen

Latest revision as of 19:25, 3 June 2018

"Rivalry between scholars improves wisdom." The run begins on the Day of the Late Fox in the Month of the Tortoise in the two hundred and fifty-eighth Year of the Bear since the opening of the Exalted Library.

The run takes place principally on Olive Partridge Island in the Illuminated Precincts

Previous Run

Contents

Ominous Omens

Touching.png
Cai Wen, still blind from his encounter with the priest of Maya, persuades Xiao Fa to start trying to fix that, ideally without getting rid of the snake-sight that is layered on top of it. Merit's agents return the Talisman Bandolier, along with an improvisational "Talisman Blending Belt." Lijuan draws a picture.

Shen-Ji reminds everyone that they are invited to a party at his family's estates, in order to take steps to further a bunch of political goals, including renaming the Precincts and helping the exiled Dragon Army get out of the prison camp. Min Feng wants to know if Autumn Rose is invited - if she is, Min Feng can try to un-Mark her. Shen-Ji says he didn't invite her, and he (and most of the rest of the group) is concerned about inviting someone who is currently furious with the PCs, or, at least furious with everyone who helped kill her father. He doesn't want a perilous party. On the other hand, while they're thinking of people to invite, maybe inviting some military commanders will earn some favors to use to change Da-Xie's anti-crossing-the-wall biases.

The butler announces that a young man named Pho is here to visit the group. When shown in, Pho says that he is here to assist with "fixing Da-Xie" as well - any of the commanders who are currently too far away, he can help get there on time. There is a small digression into the question of whether this will involve kidnapping them or inviting them, and the latter is emphasized.

Cai Wen considers Lijuan's art, and attempts to interpret omens on it. Is the part up near the Shrouded Isle indicative of Wolf, or Moon, or is it more complex than that? He concludes that one, it is not "near the Shrouded Isle", it's just in the corner; two, it's neither Wolf nor Moon, and is complex; and three, whatever it is, he should get it.

That... is a little unusual for interpret omens. Min Feng considers the question with her own interpret omens roll, and concludes that one, interpret omens shouldn't work that way; and two, whatever it is, it's spreading, so she should probably take out Lijuan and Cai Wen before it goes any further.

Merit panics. It's a strange corruptive effect that spreads the more you look at it! He starts rummaging through his bag to look for the Orb of Light, before deciding in the nick of time that maybe that isn't the best idea. Somehow it’s decided that whatever is going on, it seems likely to be Coyote-ish.

Goals for the party are enumerated:

  1. Get Military Officers to want to open the South Wall
  2. Get Favors from Precincts Regent
  3. Tag Precincts for Whale
  4. Have a Good Party
  5. Blame Yanyu

Party Prep

The group heads to the Illuminated Precincts, and the Sakong estate, commandeering a supply boat which is being used to transport party supplies. When they reach the family house, they head in to where Yue is having tea with Kiri.

Yue springs to her feet, happy to see Shen-Ji, and Kiri also rises, pleased to see the party, but not particularly differently interested in Cai Wen. He feels a pang - his first moll, now matched elsewhere. Anyhow, Kiri is here to try to talk Yue and the Sakongs into an opportunity - if they upgrade the party to a Formal Salon, at which the business of the Sages is unofficially decided, that will help Kiri's (Whale’s) goals, and also let the party reap greater rewards for their own agenda.

Shen-Ji tells Kiri she can speak freely in front of Yue, so she explains Whale’s plan further - the party will need to add two topics to the hat to get a "Pool of Mysteries" sponsored, and then see that the topics pass appropriately. Then the pool actually needs to be built, but she can deal with that, with as much or little party assistance as they prefer.

Upgrading the party does require that there be twelve scholars, corresponding to the Cycle. Several of those already invited are more than adequate to count as a scholar, as is Merit, though Merit likes the idea of waiting until the party starts and promoting himself to Dragon Scholar. The guest list is pored over, and potential other scholars to invite are suggested. Min Feng suggests Autumn Rose again, but giving her an actual mechanic the party wants to accomplish that she can thwart may be asking for trouble. Well, it's not like the party really wants Whale's plot to be accomplished, but inviting their own sabotage might be going a bit too far. The Revered Sages who are invited are able to argue on behalf of any Cycle Spirit, but lesser scholars must be of the correct Aspect, or otherwise temperamentally suited to their role.

Name Cycle Spirit
Hsu Verity Phoenix
Yuwen Fire-Eye Tiger
Yue Butterfly
Master Tranh Dog
Zhuai Spider
Path of Knowledge Tortoise (self-appointed)
Sage Shentu Guan Monkey
Sage Tuan Magpie
Precincts Regent Bear
Cryptomancer Serpent
Mondo Fox
Yun Ling Crane

When discussing the scholar list, a comment is made that Cai Wen could be the Fox Scholar. Kiri looks a little surprised at that, and then her face goes a little blank for a moment.

Willow arrives soon thereafter, and luckily, she seems to think Cai Wen is a perfectly good boyfriend. Willow does warn them to avoid putting things in the hat that will get the country smacked - she thinks that the trouble with the Bureaucrat is likely the result of the Precincts starting to meddle in changing the chi of the Empire, originally instigated by the party.

The two topics Whale needs are:

The pursuit of knowledge can flourish with many motivations.
We have focused on personal erudition and publishing, and it has served us well.
The motivation of Mystery is as deep as the motivation of personal publishing glory, and will lead in less predictable directions. More focus on Mystery and less on Answer will lead us to greater knowledge.
There is no source of Mystery in the Precincts
An official Pool of Mystery should be built, wherever the layers between worlds are thinnest.
The rest of the Twelve Kingdoms can wallow in mysteries - we prefer the well-explained.

Xiao Fa suggests putting something into the hat to help with the name change, or general Dragon-flavor:

The Precincts should look to the future with confidence and hope.
Host a Dragon Boat Festival
Host an Artisan's Exposition

The party looks through the ballroom and party environments, and Yue points out the new hedge maze adjoining the hall. Apparently, it was a new whim of the gardener's. Merit, ever suspicious, asks for a dossier on the gardener.

The gardener, Thean Jian, has been the gardener for the Sakongs for a cycle of years, having been trained by her mother, Thean Yu-zhu, the previous gardener. She is a vastly competent gardener, but not an inspired artist in plants - the renovations of the Sakong lands have taken the underlying structure to a higher level, and she is doing her best to live up to the new state.

Well, that's fine, then.

Next question: who is in town? Merit gets the guest list, which is extensive.

  • the Green Duke
  • Master Tranh
  • Sun Peng, the stonecarver
  • Yun Ling, renovations sorcerer
  • Precints Regent
  • Sage Tuan
  • Sage Shentu Guan
  • Hsu Verity
  • Renyu
  • Kiri
  • Master Tang
  • the Cryptomancer
  • Yuwen Fire-Eye
  • the Path of Knowledge
  • Sakong Yue
  • Sakong Lu Chu
  • Mother Sakong Nan
  • Sakong Yat-Sen
  • Sakong Zhen-Li
  • Zhuai
  • Willow
  • Mondo
  • Commander Sun
  • Musashi Nori
  • the Obsidian Warlord
  • Pho
  • the commander of the Bearers of Swift Response

When Mondo arrives, they tell him about Lijuan's prophetic art, but warn him not to look at it

"The thing you know but do not know - you should not be worried about tainted art, you should be worried about what the tainted art prophesied." -Mondo

Party

However, there is no time to worry further about the prophecy, for it is time for the party to begin!

Various people pontificate to various other people, earning erudition points. A few subjects discoursed upon:

Cai Wen talks to the Regent about Illumineaucracy. Merit talks to Hsu Verity about the experiments he's running on the playwright. The Regent talks about Hidden City politics - there is a bit of a stir, because the Imperial Cartographer is missing. Shentu Guan talks to Yue about local politics - the bureaucracy thing was definitely an actual attack on the Precincts. Verity talks to Merit - she thinks Eternal Redoubt and Shen-Ji are getting a little out of hand. Merit notes that Crane agrees. Pho talking to the two military commanders about horses going over walls.

Merit talks to the Cryptomancer about mysteries. However, the Cryptomancer is less interested in this than Merit supposes. Mysteries and Secrets are very different - you can use cryptomancy to learn secrets, but mysteries are less addressable that way.

Shen-Ji talks about the laws involved in returning the Dragon Army exiles. Cai Wen talks to Hsu Verity about cartogramancy. Kiri talks to Yuwen Fire-Eye about Shen-Ji stories, and notes that he loses some of his powers when over water. Master Tang talks to Lijuan, trying to figure out what topics she is interested in just in case she becomes a scholar. As her best skills are archery, hide, and death checks, this is perhaps unlikely.

Merit succeeds in promoting himself to Dragon Scholar before the first drift, when the first argument is drawn.

The omens suggest that a new Time of Emperors is upon us.
A Tortoise Emperor would guide the Empire into new wisdom and stability. (Tortoise scholar)
Whatever the Emperor, a Council of Elders would be necessary to guide and advise. (Spider scholar)
Rule is tyranny! Make them pay! (Phoenix scholar)

Willow is concerned at the third option which seems to have appeared in the mechanic, as well as the rather disturbing slant it takes. She reminds Cai Wen to not get the country smacked.

Both military commanders and the Regent are willing to trade favors for twenty erudition. (Commander Sun is normally more susceptible to Cai Wen's persuasion, but the Obsidian Warlord is standing right there). However, erudition isn't normally something that can be easily traded back and forth. Under normal circumstances, Willow notes that you can hand off erudition points at a 75% loss (so spend 4 to give someone 1), but the loss drops to 50% if you pretend they are Horse Points when you do it. Interesting.

Lijuan puts the first Pool of Mystery question in the hat. Merit talks to Yuwen Fire-Eye about battle magic, and then puts the other Pool of Mystery question in the hat. Renyu talks to Merit about the "eastern spirits" - Thunderbird is the largest, and Raven and Coyote argue all the time. Underneath them, there are all sorts of bear spirits. The East doesn't have a large organized military, and they aren't completely keen on outsiders (or maybe they just didn't like Renyu). He also briefs Merit on some coastal geography.

Kasumi, concerned that the hedge maze is up to no good, searches it, and discovers that it is in fact up to no good - there are all sorts of ninja specialization features, like a Pool of Ninja Power a Sundial of Ninja transportation, and other Ninja-themed artifacts.

Cai Wen considers two choices for questions, but neither of them is useful. He decides to spend five karma to prune the hat down to just the three questions the party put in, and draws one of them instead.

The pursuit of knowledge can flourish with many motivations.
We have focused on personal erudition and publishing, and it has served us well. (Magpie scholar)
The motivation of Mystery is as deep as the motivation of personal publishing glory, and will lead in less predictable directions. More focus on Mystery and less on Answer will lead us to greater knowledge. (Crane scholar)
Not all knowledge is worth keeping! (Monkey scholar)

Unfortunately, the Monkey Scholar, Shentu Guan, is the strongest of the scholars at the party, and the Crane scholar is the weakest. The "screw knowledge" point seems likely to win, which will be a both defeat for Whale and an embarrassment for House Sakong and Shentu Guan. Willow, as Shentu Guan's assistant, can give him a negative helper roll, though she will officially be chastised for it, and the dice pouch of spare fortune dice is passed to Yun Ling, who is precise enough to only use what he needs. Finally, Lijuan is willing to hang around at that table providing helper rolls for Yun Ling.

Some of the other party mechanics kick in, and several of the unassigned scholars (Dragon, Fox, and Dog) give out double erudition. Min Feng talks to Merit about politics, Lijuan talks to Master Tranh about dreamwalking, and Cai Wen talks to Mondo about bluffing.

"The trick to bluffing is knowing what your opponent does not know. You'd like it." -Cai Wen

Pho offers Min Feng the ability to become the Horse Scholar for only half the normal erudition cost.

The Path of Knowledge doesn't have as many dice as some of the Sages, but he gets four rolls instead of three. In addition to making him a lot better at the mechanic, this also means that he ties up the scholars in the argument with him for a while. People start getting concerned about running out of scholars.

The Green Duke whispers to Mondo, which is mildly gauche, but it is of interest to Mondo. The Sakongs surround Commander Sun and appear to be arguing - Little Sister is interested in joining the Bearers, while her elder brother is trying to arrange a match for her.

Merit tells Yue about Shen-Ji - both good things, and a warning that he can be led astray by ambition.

The third debate is drawn:

There is no source of Mystery in the Precincts
An official Pool of Mystery should be built, wherever the layers between worlds are thinnest. (Fox scholar)
The rest of the Twelve Kingdoms can wallow in mysteries - we prefer the well-explained. (Bear scholar)
We should steal the Smoked Glass. (Tiger scholar)

Well, it didn't go into the hat that way!

Xiao Fa talks to the Cryptomancer about symbology. Merit talks to the Cryptomancer about post-death. And Kasumi drinks from the pool of ninja power! Willow notes that there will be a third round of the party, but it will just have helper rolls and finishing the arguments - no new arguments. So just six debates total.

Cai Wen trades (horse-flavored) erudition to the Regent for a favor. Kasumi ninja-teleports next to Cai Wen and tells him that there's a ninja mechanic going on, but he doesn't see any ninjas hiding in the shadows. Master Tranh tells Shen-Ji the most recent news about his sister's doings. Shen-Ji talks to the Cryptomancer about research, and Xiao Fa talks to Yue about calligraphy. Yue warns Shen-Ji that the Obsidian Warlord is trying to personally recruit Lu Chu, which seems a little alarming, given Shen-Ji's warnings about him in the past.

After all the help, the Crane scholar finally wins his argument.

Kasumi notes that as part of the party mechanic, the featured scholars (including Min Feng) are also vulnerable to being summoned by ninja, or attacked by ninja for double dice. Hmm. Master Tang asks Min Feng about her highest skill - that's Passive Perception.

The fourth debate is drawn:

The Precincts should look to the future with confidence and hope.
Host a Dragon Boat Festival (Dragon Scholar)
Host an Artisan's Exposition (Serpent Scholar)
Stage Country-wide War Games (Dog Scholar)

Merit talks about the awesomeness of highly engineered dragon boats. Shen-Ji talks to the Warlord about Lu Chu joining the Bearers but not working directly for the Warlord. The Warlord seems to think that that is a fine compromise, given that he is still her commander in chief and can reassign her as needed, and Shen-Ji thinks at least it's better than working as a priest of Sam/Kalkin.

Kasumi looks around for ninja as well. Hey, wait a minute. When Master Tang asked Min Feng about her skill, he walked all the way across the map to do it, and he doubled his dice! Master Tang is a ninja!

Zhuai wins the "Council of Advisors" argument. Xiao Fa talks to Yue about all the people who might want to kill Shen-Ji.

The fourth debate is drawn:

There has been more contact with the Southern lands recently than has been the case in generations. Illegal trade is on the rise.
Corrupting our civilization with barbarian custom will only lead to lessening ourselves. (Spider scholar)
Learning can be found anywhere, even strange lands. (Butterfly scholar)
The South invaded us! Make them pay! (Horse scholar)

Min Feng hears a voice ask her:can you take Zhuai? She says she thinks so, at least for one round. Pho spends his erudition and swaps Horse and Butterfly.

There has been more contact with the Southern lands recently than has been the case in generations. Illegal trade is on the rise.
Corrupting our civilization with barbarian custom will only lead to lessening ourselves. (Spider scholar)
Learning can be found anywhere, even strange lands. (Horse scholar)
The South invaded us! Make them pay! (Butterfly scholar)

Yue is not keen on the South, and is happy with the swap as well.

Xiao Fa trades Commander Nori some (horse-flavored) erudition and gets a favor, earmarked for the Southern Wall change. Shen-Ji earns another (horse-flavored) favor from the Regent.

Not enough arguments have finished, so debate six may not have enough scholars. Kiri sighs - she really doesn't like doing this... Renyu vanishes, and Kiri yoinks his erudition points to add to hers and becomes the Whale scholar.

Merit wins the Dragon boat argument, by a landslide of fortune.

The final argument is drawn:

Ancestor spirits spring from a family, and are venerated in a place. But when a family leaves a place, or joins with another, the shrines may be abandoned, unless care is taken.
The ancestors of a merged family should be merged and venerated together, and the shrines moved. (Phoenix scholar)
An ancestor spirit cannot simply be transferred to another name like a goat being sold. The dutiful descendent will visit the shrine, wherever it stands, and respect the family name they bore. (Tortoise scholar)
If they really cared about the family, they wouldn't have died. (Whale scholar)

Kasumi notes that since all the scholars are engaged, everyone is a target for ninja.

Merit has armor against social damage. He has finished his argument but is still engaged, so he takes the one step to give Commander Sun some points. He only makes some of them horsey, for an experiment, but since he has extra, the favor goes through, and Commander Sun is on board with the Wall plan.

The round ends, and the debates wrap up with final helper rolls and scholar arguments. (Mondo manages to make his debate extra-dramatic by keeping it very close until the final roll). The Cryptomancer keeps his actual rolls a secret, but does not win with them against Merit. The winning propositions are:

  • The motivation of Mystery is as deep as the motivation of personal publishing glory, and will lead in less predictable directions. More focus on Mystery and less on Answer will lead us to greater knowledge.
  • Whatever the Emperor, a Council of Elders would be necessary to guide and advise.
  • Learning can be found anywhere, even strange lands.
  • Dragon Boats!
  • An ancestor spirit cannot simply be transferred to another name like a goat being sold. The dutiful descendent will visit the shrine, wherever it stands, and respect the family name they bore.
  • An official Pool of Mystery should be built, wherever the layers between worlds are thinnest.

The salon concludes, though its misuse of the debate mechanic will no doubt be talked about for weeks.

"Shen-Ji, some time you're going to have to tell me why you have a ninja garden." -Kasumi

Kiri says that the debt for the major tag is paid (though anyone who wants to help with constructing the Pool of Mysteries should let her know), but she really has to go - she still seems unsettled by whatever she did to get rid of Renyu and become the Whale Scholar.

Puttering