ZCW note 28jun2009
Cai Wen organized several people to identify a Savanna Clan member at the Port of Propitious Voyage who was carrying money for supporting the blockade, to see if we could harm the blockade by taking him for all of his money in a gambling setup.
PCs present: Master Deng, Min Feng, Li Merit, and Wei Han.
Cai Wen's original idea was that we might be able to bankrupt someone and minorly inconvenience the blockade as a result, but he decided that we didn't have enough information to have an idea whether we had the right order of magnitude of money to try that, and you'd really have to be willing to lose some of your own money to ruin someone else, so he settled for just taking one guy for as much money as possible.
Here's how it went:
Zhi-Hao and Min-Feng find a good candidate - a youngish guy, seems kind of rash, not making any secret of being from the Savanna, clearly in more money than he's used to, buying various things in bulk, and enjoying himself in the evenings at various houses of enjoyment. He seems to be changing up a little too much (casino one night, brothel the next) to get him involved in many days of games, so you end up going for the one night.
We'll call him Gyeong Roh, and Plan Fleece the Clansman goes into effect on his next casino trip.
He's playing zhu-stakes games rather than li-stakes games, but Cai-Wen can bump the pot sizes up over the course of the game so it's reasonably rich.
Roh takes an immediate dislike to Cai-Wen (which probably surprises him, as that's not common), and regards Wei Han with serious distaste bordering on contempt to start with.
Cai-Wen drinks the nasty low-alcohol drinks, and Roh drinks the somewhat-higher-proof drinks, so Roh's bets get rasher, and he does get more emotional. As the game goes along, and Cai-Wen shifts from feint-losing to winning, his manner begins to change; his dislike of Cai-Wen ramps up, and his glances at Wei Han change into visible sympathy and unhappiness. He does pull out a second pouch to re-stake himself, but it doesn't go much better than the first one by this time.
After Cai-Wen has got a good chunk of Roh's money, he looks disgusted.
"This is how you do it, eh? Get them in debt, and then you own them? It sickens me, to see the service of good men bought and sold."
He sweeps the last of his betting stake into a pouch, and tosses it to Wei Han.
"Buy yourself free of your debt, and seize back your honor. This is no fit occupation for a warrior of the Dragon Army."
(He makes the fist-against-palm bow to Wei Han, nods curtly to Cai-Wen, and leaves.)
Cai-Wen has won approximately 10 li of his money, and the bag thrown to Wei Han has approximately another 3 li. That seems to be all of the money he brought to the casino.
(Li Merit's part of the plan, not explained in the above, was to help set the stage for this whole thing; he suggested the games with the drinks to get the other guy sloshed.)
After this, Wei Han went to seek out the guy, since it seemed that he might be willing to talk to Wei Han. Here is Wei Han's summary:
Roh talked about the Savanna being important because they make the army. The army is the honor and might of the Empire, but he is wrong. It is made from all the kingdoms, not just the Savanna. He is upset that some people cannot tell the difference between a soldier and a thug, and cannot see the soldier's honor because they don't have any.
He thinks I ended up in debt to you, Sir. That is probably the source of his direct dislike of you. He expects that I would return to the Wall now that my debt is clear; I told him that my last orders didn't have me coming back to the Wall for a bit and I needed to travel and think before going back.
I asked what an island full of artists and puffballs could do to upset the might and honor of the Empire. What could be worth the effort of the blockade. His answer....
"Well, you wouldn't think it, would you? But if someone asked you if they were in the Empire, how would you prove it?"
He went on to discuss the fact that the place where the laws are those of the Empire, not local kings, is the Imperial Highway. Something which the Butterfly Kingdom lacks.
To push it further I would need to be more direct than I thought I could, even with him somewhat drunk. He might have remembered it in the morning if I did.
Cai Wen noted that the whole artists-and-puffballs thing was a pretty vivid image, and complemented Wei Han on his technique.