Cai Wen's Plot Summary

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I will attempt to visit each item on this page periodically to see that it's still a good capsule summary of what Cai Wen thinks is going on with various plots. The main objective of the page is to help keep people from being totally surprised by things that I (think I) already know about. (Example: After after The Real Inspector Fu, some people were surprised to hear that the Butterfly Kingdom had been renamed, but I was expecting to lose that one.)

I'm not sure how best to process feedback on this page. For now, I will try this:

  • The discussion page, as usual, is a fine forum for discussion and commentary.
  • Please don't edit the summary text per se. These are Cai Wen's opinions.
  • If you think something is factually wrong, or missing an important detail, or you disagree with Cai Wen's opinion, feel free to interject by adding a reference tag, like this[1]. If it's longer than a sentence or two, please make it a link to a page. Sign your references if it's not obvious who they're from. To signal-boost someone's comment, I recommend doing this:[2] Take a moment to think about whether your note is more in-character or more in-player, and sign accordingly.
  • References can also be used for the traditional purpose of pointing to supporting material.
  • I may promote things from references into my summary, and I reserve the right to consolidate or retire references as things move forward. We'll see if anything is controversial enough for the references to become unwieldy.
  1. It's a reference, that shows up at the "references" tag
  2. I think this summary doesn't cover everything. --Jerry (Agree: Cai Wen)


Aku and the Marked in general

Up until The Real Inspector Fu, I was expecting that we would lose the name of the Butterfly Kingdom. There were some Crossroads from Takanata that suggested this. Now that that's happened, I can't think of any particular points that I expect us to lose, but I expect us to lose some more. We know that the changes will become permanent at the end of the current Cycle[1], which is in 12-13 years at this point. That's a long time. I would not be surprised to wake up one day and find out that the Empire has been renamed for the Spider, though (unlike the Butterfly Kingdom) I don't have anything pointing to that. Bottom line is: we can get our butts kicked for a while longer, and still come back to win. The key there is to avoid final defeat while we're still getting EPs. I think we can win some tactical victories against the Marked[2]. My point is that we should be psychologically prepared to lose some battles, rather than digging in and trying to win them all.

Distrust and infighting among the Marked is one of our biggest assets. Arguably, Machan Li was liquidated because we got fairly good at thwarting him. I'm pretty clear that more than one of them wants to be named Emperor; they are close to victory and already thinking about who gets the spoils. I don't have good ideas for how to increase their infighting, but I expect there will be opportunities. A la the previous paragraph, I'm generally opposed to doing things that will just annoy the Marked; but I would make an exception if we think that one of them is vulnerable enough (among the other Marked) that they won't support him. I think we're at the point where we can stand up to an isolated Marked, in the right kind of contest.

Another thing to remember is that while the Marked are bad guys, they want their new empire to be intact and operational. So I expect them to be against Kali and Northern necromancers (insofar as they're informed), and possibly against other things that we also oppose. If those threats get large enough, we may have to co-operate with the Marked or their organizations/minions to some degree. If we get the Marked to commit resources to stopping things that we want stopped, that's good for us.

Quan Lo's answer to my question during Ting Ting's Gambit suggests that we can reverse the country-renamings, but as far as I know, we currently have no leads on how to do that. He also said not to expect to free the Dragon when we go to the Spider's Citadel the first time; but we'll be able to gain knowledge there. I'm hoping for leads on things like country renaming, or other ways in which we can attack the progress of Aku's plot.

Stealing the Magpie Talisman caused a big disruption in the Hon'eth Arcade. I would expect similar disruptions when we take Talismans from other places. We should find out whether borrowing/obtaining them with permission is less disruptive or bad for the country.[3] (Has the grand tour of the Butterfly Talisman taken anything away from the Butterfly Kingdom?) I'd like to have some non-stealing options for Talismans, but to be realistic, the only way this will happen for any given Talisman is if we're actively pursuing some other option to use it with permission.

Three of the Marked have the job of killing or capturing Ringmaster Te[4]. Tai Lung isn't one of them. We could probably infer which ones have the job by examining that scene from the dream, though I'm not clear if that would help us.

  1. See "Secrets of the Phoenix" in Phoenix Hearth
  2. Such as holding out against Tai Lung until pandas rescued us in Ting Ting's Gambit.
  3. Might it be best to leave the talismans in their current locations until we need them? --Heidi
  4. Dream a Little Dream, Scene 4. (See Interpret Omens results on discussion page. Takanata)


Right now, Mola Ram is running this, though that could change: If we kill him, it is likely that another minion of Kali will enact another plan. Since we already have some information on Mola Ram's progress and methods, I'm in favor of beating him (and Kali) through the ritual mechanic. This means not killing him first, which is a pain because some people in the party put out enough damage that they are likely to kill their target dead if it's is down to single-digit hit points. It's also a pain because I have no earthly clue what the right move would be if we happen to capture him. All this said, I think that "not killing Mola Ram" doesn't mean that anyone has to pull their normal punches, but I also think that we should be in the mindset of prosecute-to-drive-off rather than prosecute-to-kill. I.e. don't spend a bunch of karma racking up a giant attack on him unless we're in danger of losing the fight, or unless he's fresh enough to take it. He seems to have an escape-into-shadows power, and in the Pearl River encounter, I may have had some success in encouraging him to retreat by setting up flares in his shadows. I plan to keep trying this in the future.

At the moment of writing, I agree with Takanata's assessment that we have no clue what Mola Ram is going to do for Midsummer, so our best move is probably to put Hana/Hiro over the North Wall.

We haven't re-checked the mechanic since the Twins had their last radiation accident, so it's possible that the mechanic is no longer exactly what we think it is.

Northern Barbarians

Lucky Chang