Difference between revisions of "Expedition to the Mountains of Heaven"

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Then, the various float storage and purging levers are pulled.  After the lever in the access tube is pulled to shift Veryfloat into the storage tank, everyone starts talking in a high-pitched voice.   
Then, the various float storage and purging levers are pulled.  After the lever in the access tube is pulled to shift Veryfloat into the storage tank, everyone starts talking in a high-pitched voice.   
{{QQ|<span style="font-size:6pt">teeny teeny</span>This is very inappropriate|Master Zhou}}
"<span style="font-size:6pt">teeny teeny</span>This is very inappropriate" -Master Zhou
There is no backstory in the Access tubes, and their true name is never learned.   
There is no backstory in the Access tubes, and their true name is never learned.   

Revision as of 19:59, 26 December 2018

"It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." The run begins on the Day of the Late Serpent in the Month of the Descending Bear in the Twelfth Year of the Bear since the Regency Council was formed

The run takes place principally in the Mountains of Heaven at the edge of the Empire

Previous Run


Kitting Up

Word has gotten about that the party is planning an expedition to the "shipwreck" that Serafina and the other travelers of the Light came from, so a number of people drop by to make suggestions as to things to do on the trip.

  • Cai Wen notes to Kasumi that the Bureaucrat has also sent a strike team, and perhaps she can steal some of their soul-seals,
  • Anto (who appears to not be dead) asks Kuan-Xi to recover Crane's feather,
  • Pai thinks that Takanata should release the "float" from the ship and let it float away,
  • Sima is concerned about the "Book of Loopholes" and wishes Xiao Fa to destroy it,
  • Merit's spy in House Siew thinks that House Foon's majordomo (an agent of the Light) does not want House Siew getting its hands on the navigation records,
  • Po (who Quan Lo has been teaching to astral project!) appears astrally to say that Quan Lo thinks Master Zhou should extract the spiritual heart of the ship and throw it into the Gate of Five Elements.

Additionally, Takanata finishes his painting.


"We're gonna get laser pistols!" -Master Zhou

The combination of winter and mountains means it is time for a shopping trip! Merit and Kuan-Xi discuss the subtle distinction between shopping and buying things; Merit is an expert in the latter and doesn't quite understand how the former is different.

Kuan-Xi finds a nice place called Adventure Outfitters, and everyone stocks up on a bunch of things from snowsuits to portable shelters to an ice wyrm "thumper"..

"We cannot guarantee our goods if you take them to another realm of existence,"

Setting Out

The group takes Kuan-Xi's little carriage to a village in northern Bear Mountain, where Merit has an old buddy who is a trapper. He notes that farther north, there is a village which usually sends traders about once a week - but nothing has been heard from them recently.

They head that way in the carriage, and soon find themselves surrounded by people with spears, shouting to see their blood. This seems somewhat unusual, but Xiao Fa and Master Zhou cut their palms, and the sight that their blood is red causes the villagers to calm down somewhat,

"Don't use the palm of your hand, it has diseases!" -Merit
"Mine does not. " -Xiao Fa, deeply offended

The villagers are apparently checking to make sure that their blood is not blue. Why would it be blue? Well, there have been "blue walkers", since the night of thunder. That is, sometimes people who go out on hunting trips come back wrong and their blood is blue and they're tougher and they want to kill people. To make matters worse, anyone they attack comes down with blue blood as well. Master Zhou asks if they have any prisoners, but they say no, they have been burning the bodies.

Merit does a quick round trip trading run for them in the carriage, while everyone else investigates. Kuan-Xi does a walk about the village looking for magic, but doesn't turn up anything. Xiao Fa checks the health of the locals - they're not as well as they could be, mostly due to exhaustion, but there doesn't seem to be anything weirder than that.

Ahah - in the remains of the fire, where the bodies were burned, Kuan-Xi finds remnants of chaotic necromancy. She also notices (with her keenly honed fashion instincts) that the villagers have a lot of brightly colored scarves and gloves that don't quite match the rest of the brownish grayish general environment. When she inquires, the villagers say that they found this nice warm cloth in the hills nearby, after the Day of Thunder. So what's up with this Day of Thunder? The sky shook, and the mountain over there glowed. When they went to investigate the next day, they found this cloth, and then some people got eaten by wolves, and then after that the blue walkers started started showing up - so they didn't investigate any further.

Master Zhou asks if there have been any other visitors? Absolutely not! Master Zhou finds this convincing, though possibly that is only due to his low social skills.

The group sets up their shelter for the night, and sets watches.

Merit and Zhou are on the midnight watch, and are the first to notice when the blue walkers show up. The party goes to battle the invaders, and are joined by villagers with spears. There are three walkers pulling a sledge, and a fourth lying on the sled. It proves to be hard to permanently damage a blue walker, except with fire. When a walker is set on fire, it continues to burn until it dies.

Xiao Fa investigates some of the fallen blue walkers, and determines that they are under a sticky "chaotic necromancy" effect, which is, among other things, making them behave as if they were dead, but they are not dead. The burned ones are actually dead and the effect is gone. Merit is struck by pangs of remorse - he has not killed any people in a long time.

People shout at Master Zhou to not kill the last walker, and he reluctantly puts aside his flaming nunchucks to punch the walker instead. Icy cold tendrils of badness try to get him but he resists.

Then, Xiao Fa hits the walker with a giant healing chi whammy, and the ex-walker shakes his head, confused. What happened? The guy says his name is Sen, and he and his friends were attacked by walkers. He doesn't remember anything else after that. It appears that his blood is red now, and Xiao Fa declares him cured.

Heading In

In the morning, the group heads out. As they head towards the "glowing mountain" that the villagers told them about, things are particularly cold and wintry, and the fancy survival equipment is definitely needed.

After a morning of travel, they reach a depression between two hills, covered in snow, with a dark entrance at the end of it. Surrounding the entrance, some ways out, is a ring of what appear to be rocks emitting puffs of yellow gas. Nearer than the ring is a snow-covered hump. And, scattered all around are small shreds of rope and metal, attached to pieces of brightly colored fabric.

Kuan-Xi identifies the puffs of yellow smoke as "chaotic beastmastery". Merit gathers up a number of pieces of cloth, and Kuan-Xi guesses that if they were put together and much larger, they might be an enormous tapestry of a flame.

"Shall we go see what's under the lump?" -Kuan-Xi
"Oh, please don't."

Merit puts on his peril-sensitive sunglasses, and approaches the snow hump. It doesn't seem all that dangerous yet. Kuan-Xi waterblasts the snow, and uncovers a dome of glass, or crystal. Then, a small opening at the base of the dome clicks open, and a ballista bolt launches itself, passing between Merit and Kuan-Xi, and hitting a nearby hill. Everyone flees away from the deadly hump.

Kuan-Xi scries back to where she was before, and uses that scry point to look down through the glass. The dome has a chair in it, on top of a long pole; below that is a room with a bunch of things in it, including several bodies, and an odd symbol on the wall.

Takanata starts shooting the dome with his wand of firebolts. It eventually gets dark and sooty, but doesn't melt, and another large bolt is launched from its base. However, when Master Zhou punches it with his Bear kung fu of structural damage, he breaks the dome (which proves to be constructed of a crystal much harder than glass) - creating a lot of sharp shards, and injuring his hand rather badly. People leap to first aid him and prevent him from bleeding to death, except for Kasumi, who pokes her head into the domed space and works on figuring out the mechanic.

{{boxed|Mechanic In each room, people can do one or more of the following:

  • Search for a clue for your plot
  • Search for backstory
  • Determine the inherent nature of the room
  • Look for items
  • Ransack

The difficulty of the rolls will keep going up as more rolls are made; ransacking is automatically successful, finds a plot clue, and prevents any further rolls from being made in that room.


Merit determines that this room is the bridge, named "Authority Command", and the large symbol is "Unconstrained". A search for clues commences.

Navigation records 
These were not people who planned their journeys meticulously in advance. The historical navigation records wouldn't be in navigation.
Book of Loopholes 
What Sima calls it is probably not what it is actually called. If the ship is named the Unconstrained, the book is probably called 'Escaping Constraint'.
Heart of the Ship
When thinking about the spiritual heart of the ship, it is important to note that it is neither a magic ship, nor a chi ship.
Heart of the Ship
The "spiritual" heart is therefore more like the functional heart.

Merit also finds a captain's hat and the (detachable) ship's wheel.

The bridge has one door, leading to a small circular chamber with six doors. One of the doors is the one to the bridge, and one of the doors is locked, with a large golden keyhole, leaving four others. Xiao Fa has a skeleton key, which he sets to be the Golden Key for the run.

The next room in Gold level is a conference room. There are no items, other than the non-item-card tables and chairs

Crane's feather
The ship hasn't been hit by a physical object.
Soul Seals
If a bureaucrat dies, his soul seal will no longer work.
It won't be possible for one person to do alone - there will be at least two cranks.

The next room is a small shrine, with an icon declaring it Lesser of the Holy. There is a wall mural, depicting a flame over a mountain.


Some clues are found:

Book of Loopholes
Natural philosophy books will be green.
Crane's Feather
Picking up a feather of Crane's wrath with your bare hands is probably a bad idea.
Soul Seals
You will probably need a lower-level seal to steal a higher level seal.

And Merit learns some backstory, which is that the mural depicts the Mountain of the Gods, set aflame, and that this is glorious. The only item found is a small candle in the shape of a mountain.

The next room is a small break room, identified as the Captain's ready room, and with an icon naming it "Authority Rest Quarters". Another "Unconstrained" icon is on the wall. The backstory here indicates that the captain was in the break room when the disaster hit - so the crew clearly thought they had already passed the most difficult part of the transition into the Empire.

Navigation records
The captain's key is probably needed.
Heart of the Ship
Maybe the spiritual heart is the thing that makes it float, or the thing that makes it go forward... but you think not.
You identify the symbol meaning "float".

The last room in Gold is identified as the navigation area, or "Direction Authority".

Crane's Feather
The way things have fallen suggests that the greatest impact was on
 the port side the odd numbered rooms. 
All the lights are either odd glowing panels or carefully guarded lanterns. There probably shouldn't be anything resembling fire anywhere on board when you dump the Superfloat.
Navigation records
While the navigation records would be created here, they would be stored in the library.

Investigating the backstory indicates that they started going down well after the highest of the "impassible" peaks. This was their first attempt to cross into the Empire in an airship.

Items found in the room include a compass and a sextant.


The only door left is the one with the golden keyhole, but no keys have been found in this area and running the dungeon in reverse may not be feasible, so they decide not to use the skeleton key just yet. The group decides to go back outside and go in through the "entrance" instead.

Merit manages to disarm the beastmaster-ish puffs of smoke, but once he has finished, Kuan-Xi thinks that there is an effect orbiting him which has a "chaotic beastmaster" effect in it. Scrubbing with ultra-pure water helps somewhat, but there is still an effect in place summoning animal adversaries. He labels the disarmed trap "do not touch" and castles it to Tahiti.

Once the group gets to the center of the snow depression, they can see an ice chasm, with pitons and ropes as if someone has already climbed down. Merit thinks that the gear looks like it belongs to a Dragon's Throne strike team.

At the foot of the ropes, there are a pair of metal doors that have been pried apart, with the "Unconstrained" sigil on them. Inside the doors is a ledge, with a dead wolf, and then a spiral ramp (and a ladder) going down into the depths of the airship. The group climbs down the ropes, and then Kuan-Xi unties the ropes and puddle-gates down to the doors.

At each turn of the spiral is a door with a colored keyhole: gold, red, yellow, orange, and blue. Halfway around the turn between yellow and orange, and between orange and blue, are half-sized white doors with no keyholes, and one turn below blue is an full-sized white door, open.

Kasumi and Master Zhou creep down the spiral, and hear arguments coming from the open white door, which is interrupted by the people arguing thinking they have heard something. Once the party stops making noise, (and Merit disguises himself as the captain, wearing the captain's hat) the people inside go back to arguing.

"If the other levels contain riches on this scale, we'd be set for life!"
"I wish I was authorized to execute you, but I'm not!"
"Where did you put the orange key?"

Team Stealth sneaks into the white "basement" room, and see the four strike team members. Two of them are tying up the third (the one being accused of being a traitor), while the fourth looks stern. Then the boss sends the pair to search the white access tubes again - the orange key must be in one of them.

Kasumi tries to grab the soul seal from one of them, but it is on a chain and not susceptible to pickpocketing. She determines that what is needed is not lockpicking for the chain, but bureaucracy in order to authorize herself to take the seal.

Master Zhou nerve-strikes the two searchers, pushing them into the white access tube. One is dodgier, and fails to go down, but now the fallen guy is between the other guy and Master Zhou. When Master Zhou tries to search the fallen guy, he finds that he is not authorized to do so.

Merit heads down the spiral, pretending to sneak, and gets captured. He pretends to only speak Hornish, and lures the strike team leader into gloating. Points gloated upon include:

  • Merit and his foolish crew (Merit is still disguised as the captain of the Unconstrained) have infiltrated into some political structures, but it will not avail them.
  • The riches of Storage Level White will aid the Bureaucrat.
  • The strike team will investigate Orange Level next.
  • The strike team will search Merit and take his keys.

Master Zhou drags his two prisoners up the ramp to the others, and then goes to look for Kasumi, but she is too well hidden for him to spot. Kasumi finds that she is not authorized to attack the strike team boss until his underlings are down, and one is still up.

Master Zhou bypasses the boss's bureaucratic defense with his Beautiful Strike (butterfly kung fu), and he and Kasumi finish knocking out the strike team. Then everyone gathers in the White Storage Room.

Kasumi fills out and files one of the general forms she gets off of the strike team members in order to give Merit authority to search the team lead. They take all the prisoners to the access tubes, where they search for items in general. Merit finds a set of unsealed classified orders, but isn't able to get the soul seal. After another form filed, Merit gets a seal from the fighter. Takanata notes that if there are any clues in the access tubes, they should get picked up before searching for items raises the difficulty too high.

The Veryfloat will need to be connected to Float Storage before it can be purged.


Having found the orange key in the access tubes, the group heads through the orange door and begins exploring rooms.

The first room is the mess hall, or "Provision Sharing".

Crane's feather
The feather is probably outside the main hull, so that you will have to cut through a wall to get to it.
Book of Loopholes
There was time for the survivors to evacuate. If the book was in the library, someone would have taken it.
Heart of the Ship
Their language is circles within circles. What at the heart of a ship is a circle within a circle?

Hey, they found the ship's wheel in the first room! Maybe all the quest items were on the bridge! Is the captain's hat significant?

Items in the mess hall include a bunch of metal cans which might have some sort of unspecified food in them. It's not clear how to open them. Takanata and Li Merit finish filling out and filing all the forms, so it should be possible to get the soul seals - but the difficulty has gotten too high.

Orange Two is sickbay, or "Healing Rest".

Dumping the float will purge whatever was in float storage. Since the airship was in flight mode, Superfloat was in float storage and Veryfloat was still in backup.
Navigation Records
The symbol for "records" is identified.

Kasumi and Merit search, and get two soul seals and a bunch of small tablets that meta-gaming suggests are healing drugs. Blue Deck is identified as Engineering, and Orange is Crew Services.

Orange Three is the rec room, or "Rest and Enjoyment", and a yellow key is found.

Book of Loopholes
Pink books are fiction.

Checking for backstory finds that people here were playing games when the disaster happened - at that point they ran off to battle stations, except for the ones who were carried to sickbay.

Orange Four is a larger shrine than was off of the bridge: "Greater of the Holy".

Backstory: The engineer was charging the mana candle (another item that is picked up) when the disaster hit. He was distracted when he went to the engineering level, and left his tool belt, so his mechanics skill was not sufficient to shut down the fuel before the explosion happened.

Orange Five is the long-awaited library, or "Collection of the Text", and lots of books are acquired.

The prisoners are "berserker wolf magnets".

Having exhausted the Orange level (but found a yellow key), the group heads to Yellow level.


There are only three doors off of the Yellow hallway. The first is the officers' quarters (Lesser Authority Rest Quarters).

Crane's feather
Hazardous materials (and tools to handle them) are kept in the fuel storage area.

The Red key is here, and some books.

"Are there bodies?"
"Oh, yeah, there are bodies all over the place." -Mike, who has been waiting for hours to be asked this question.

Yellow Two is crew quarters, or "Rest Quarters".

Crane's feather
All the rooms are immaculately clean - all tools have to be returned to the supply room before returning to crew quarters.
Navigation records
If the item you are looking for is locked up, you will need to possess the key before searching for items.
Heart of the Ship
A balloon has no choice in where it goes. The steering wheel is what unconstrains it.

The backstory that can be gleaned from this area: Crew quarters were divided up in the past along rank lines, but recently they have been redivided due to the islanders, along male/female and mixed. This was very inconvenient for Ensign Pariah because it meant his dark experiments were harder to conduct.

"Wait, what?"

Yellow Three is VIP quarters, or "Greater Authority Rest Quarters".

A book here has two words in the title - this may be the one Xiao Fa is looking for! Pretty much everyone has enough clues, so exploration streamlines into searching for items and backstory.

Backstory: As usual, Ambassador Serafina of the Island and Prelate Gomez were wrangling at the time of the disaster. Once more, the Ambassador was expressing the futility of worshipping dead gods, while the prelate was expressing distaste at the ambassador's attitude towards men. The argument was cut short when Crane attacked.


Red One is the brig, or "Consequences of Freedom".

Backstory: Bringing revolution is a long and drawn out affair, unless in a small confined space such as a ship. Unfortunately, Islanders cheat. At least they provide reading materials. (An orange-cover book is found).

Red Two is the armory, "Freedom of Violence".

Backstory: Had the security officer had not been obsessive about inventory he might not have noticed the missing weapons in time to thwart the mutiny. This all occurred well before the attack by Crane so the incident should not have caused any problem with crossing the border.

There are a lot of items in the armory, though none of them appears to be the laser pistol Master Zhou/Tom was hoping for. There is a complicated crossbow-looking device that will need to be further investigated.

Red Three is Authority Control, or the office of the security chief.

Backstory: The ringleader was arrested and the evidence secured. Unfortunately, the evidence might not be enough to prove that the captain is implicated. I'm keeping his key until we are sure.

A ring of grey metal keys (not a colored magnetic key), and a gold key are here.

Everyone heads back to the library, where Master Zhou holds all the keys before searching, and recovers the navigation records from the locked compartment. In addition, he finds the blue key!


Mechanics addition: in addition to the usual rolls, Mechanics rolls can also be made, subject to the same increasing-difficulty effects.

Blue One is fuel storage, where Kuan-Xi happily picks up the fireproof oven mitts and a fireproof canister.

Blue Two is Float Storage, Blue Three is Engine Mechanics, and Blue Four is Provisions Storage.

The last has a metal cutter, which seems useful as far as cutting through walls. (Or opening cans!)

The group cuts through the hull in Engine Mechanics - snow and some other items falls in, and Kuan-Xi (wearing the oven mitts) searches and finds the Crane's Feather of Wrath, which she puts into the flameproof canister.

The armory hasn't been fully looted, so Takanata ransacks it for items, and then everyone heads back to the bridge to revisit it for backstory.


The bridge is up to 15 difficulty, so Takanata uses Echoes of the Past instead:

"We can still save the ship." -Captain
"We don't have to save the ship - we're in the Empire now. You're a fool to believe your dead gods will help you." -Serafina
"Believing in them is the point."
"I'm taking my people and leaving."
"I'm saving my ship or going down with it." -Captain, who upon saying this immediately goes up a level.

Then the vision shatters.

Nothing yet has directly addressed the blue zombies, but Master Zhou thinks sealing the breach by tossing the Heart of the Ship into the Gate of Five Elements will cut off the "chaotic necromancy" and solve the problem.

There is some concern that purging all the "float" will cause the precariously balanced airship to fall further into the crevasse. Takanata wonders if they should throw the last plot levers before worrying about how to recover the loot, or move the loot outside first? He thinks the latter will work better.

The group builds a metal toboggan in Engineering, using Mechanics - of course, then they have to search the room to find it again. The crate full of gold bars and the toboggan and the unconscious strike team are all carried up, and gotten ready to slide down the mountain.

Then, the various float storage and purging levers are pulled. After the lever in the access tube is pulled to shift Veryfloat into the storage tank, everyone starts talking in a high-pitched voice.

"teeny teenyThis is very inappropriate" -Master Zhou

There is no backstory in the Access tubes, and their true name is never learned.

The Veryfloat is vented, and the mountain begins to shake. As the group escapes on the toboggan, the ship sinks deeper into the crevasse and is covered by snow and falling ice.

A wolf pack attempts to eat the toboggan, but Takanata has a favor from Wolf and summons a second wolf pack to fend them off, and the escape is successful.

Kuan-Xi muddles the memories of the strike team that saw Takanata, and Merit writes them a note to remind them that they have been left alive, with no hard feelings. Merit destroys the Book of Loopholes, aka Escaping Constraint, Master Zhou throws the ship's wheel into the Gate of Five Elements, and Kuan-Xi gives Crane's feather to Anto.

Xiao Fa takes the rest of the books to work on translating them, and everything else is put in a crate marked Dangerous, in party loot.