Not My Wall
|"It is important to know not only what is on the other side of a wall, but of what the wall is made."|| The run begins on the Day of the Early Tortoise in the Month of the Dog in the third Year of the Bear since the crowning of Ti Lao.|
The run takes place on the Isle of Beauty
Takanata explains that he has a Plan for the run. First, he is throwing a housewarming party for his new house. He intends to get a favor from Lord Nogi, to allow "a ritual to reduce the severity of the winters" to be performed on the North Wall. Tara Lin (Yoshi's mother) has drawn up the guest list and is making the party arrangements.
The group hires a ship to take them to the Isle of Beauty, and the voyage is for the most part uneventful. Cai Wen contemplates looking up Golden Flame when he arrives, and then decides that he doesn't need to find a moll for the run, and Xian is perplexed that this is the first time ever that she's seen Cai Wen not flirting with the female sailors. Xian does a few subtle experiments on Cai Wen, but only determines that he seems distracted.
The ship arrives after a few days in the Harbor of Shining Reflections, and Takanata and Wei Han head to Takanata's house to pick up the guest list from Lin. Notable guests include:
- Ti Jun
- Ti Wren
- Su Song
- The Jasmine
- The Pearl of the Taiga
- the Black Duke
- Scholar Turtle
- A boy named Pho, who says that he goes "way back" with Takanata, and Takanata cannot recall at all. (Others identify him later.)
- Tokai Wanakaru
- Tokai Namokori
- Golden Flame
- Katsuo Narina
The party boggles a little at the Spirit of the Jasmine River attending - will the party be underwater? (No). Wait, is that Takanata's wife? (Also no, though she is Min Feng's grandmother).
Kasumi sneaks into the Prince's garden to see if she can overhear anything. She overhears him chatting with the Cartogramancer, and insisting that there be no madness at the party, though the Prince says that he can do what he wants afterwards. Su Song seems to think that they need to deal with whatever it is, but the prince is adamant.
Cai Wen meets with the Pearl of the Taiga for lunch. She says she has been wanting to visit the Isle of Beauty to study their party mechanics - she is not an expert, but they are said to be interesting and intricate.
Lijuan visits Aki and Yuni, who are learning to be circus hands, and they do up Lijuan's hair for the party. She stops by Takanata's house to ask Lin if she can help, and gets sent to deal with the horses. Pho turns out to be hanging out in the stables, and reports that the horses could use some better grain.
Lijuan finishes her art, which is somewhat puzzling; Takanata's art is clearer, but he decides it is not worth worrying about until after the party.
Lin briefs the party on the Indirection Rules that the party will be using, and the festivities begin.
The Pearl tells Cai Wen what their objectives for the party are; conveniently for her, he doesn't take the penalties for being on her team, so she can hand off favors to him.
Lijuan starts the process by hinting to Da-Xie that they could use a favor from Lord Nogi.
- "We want to do a ritual to make the winters less awful." -Lijuan
- "Will it make Wei Han less awful?" -Da-Xie
The Cartogramancer remarks to Juran that the house is a fine specimen, and that he would love to see the architectural plans. He also spends some time greeting and flattering Ti Wren and Min Feng, who are the "official" hosts of the party and not participating in the mechanic. That seems odd to the party - why would he waste precious mechanic time talking to people not in the mechanic?
Juran remarks to Shuyan that the Pearl of the Taiga is quite beautiful and would be well worth painting.
The Jasmine notes with some concern to Takanata that there is quite too much Great Spirit attention on the party. Seven Great Cycle Spirits, plus Horse, are paying serious attention. She finds it kind of oppressive. Takanata wonders why that is, and the Jasmine gets a message from Tortoise noting that with over half of the Great Talismans present at the party, Takanata ought to expect that. That's more than he was expecting, and he starts trying to figure out which the extras are.
The Pearl tries to get Pho to get her a drink, but when he asks her to dance directly, he starts accruing gauche points. Lijuan heads over to brief Pho on the rules, though he thinks they're kind of silly.
Xian chats with Golden Flame. She notes that the Prince was much more focused when his uncle was visiting; perhaps something could be done to arrange for that to happen again?
Kasumi talks to Da-Xie about the ebb and flow of abundance, and notes that it would be lovely if someone from House Tokai could show people where the drinks are. (This favor will circulate around the room for the entire duration of the favor-passing).
Wei Han sends off a favor that Da-Xie would stand still and listen to him for a few minutes.
Xian chats with Scholar Turtle, and they swap favors: try to get the Beautiful Regent to visit, versus try to get the architectural plans of the house for Su Song.
Once Zhuai has passed off his favors, he checks in with Lijuan, and having no other favors to pass, heads off to "freelance." He starts trying to pull strings to arrange alliances for Tokai ("in our pocket") rather than Nogi ("not"), and sends off a favor to have House Nogi spurn a particular alliance offer.
Takanata's two nephews seem to be ignoring the favor mechanic to confer with each other, which is a little odd, but they haven't seen each other for some time, so perhaps they're just catching up.
(Various more favor-passings take place, but are not all that interesting).
Takanata looks around with eyes of the I Ching, trying to spot the Talismans. He sees that the Pearl has one, the party has three amongst them, Pho has a small one, the Cartogramancer has two (!) - and then Autumn Rose stumbles and falls into the Black Duke, who stumbles into the Jasmine and knocks her over. The Black Duke's knife falls to the floor, and the Jasmine recoils, hissing. Kasumi, looking around for someone to be taking advantage of the distraction, doesn't see anyone doing so, but Ti Jun is the only one who doesn't look surprised by the trainwreck.
Takanata sends a favor out aimed at the Cartogramancer, asking for a map to Ezokin's vault in the Arcade.
Xian notes that the biggest connection between Takanata and Autumn Rose is that they are both trying to thwart her father.
The Great Tiger Spirit, speaking through the Jasmine, offers Takanata the opportunity to have a one-on-one fight with Su Song, but Takanata declines.
Ti Wren passes Lord Nogi the party’s main favor, with fifteen IP associated with it. That's probably enough, so Lord Nogi agrees to allow the ritual.
Lin passes Xian a favor from the Pearl of the Taiga, inviting Xian to a visit for a few days if Xian promises to use no shticks while there. Xian boggles, but accepts and takes advantage of the extra IP she has just gotten, to toss it onto the favor for the map of Ezokin's vault before giving it to the Cartogramancer with 49 IP.
The favor asking for the plans to the house arrives with Tokai Wakanaru, who doesn't seem to find it as ominous as the party might. He arranges for the plans for the new house to be copied and sent off to Su Song.
Lijuan passes a favor to Da-Xie asking her to train with Ti Jun, but it isn't big enough.
That ends the mechanic portion of the party; the rest of the housewarming party goes more uneventfully, although the Jasmine still finds the regard of the Great Spirits somewhat disconcerting.
A message/ritual from Spirit Builder arrives:
The Wall is primarily a construct of Body and Tao; Mind, Social, and Reflexes are less integral to its function. Thus, the severing focuses on the primary two characteristics, with lesser emphasis on the others.
For the purposes of this ritual, Shen Wei Han will stand in for the North Wall (I considered ways to move the physical length of the North Wall to Petal Bay and move it back again later, but there would have been some difficulty in making it fit. This could have been ameliorated by making it smaller, but that that would have been somewhat detrimental to the current campaign in the north), while those performing the ritual will take the part of the Petal Bay wall, by standing upon the Petal Bay wall and meditating upon the wall (the Petal Bay wall, that is) until they are in tune with it. For those not of a temperament to meditate (or unable to get twelve successes on a Resolve roll with Meditation), consuming a variety of chips of stone from along the wall's length (the Petal Bay wall, again) should serve the same purpose.
To make the Petal Bay wall malleable, and to make the North Wall empowered enough to self-reinstantiate, the chi of both Walls must be transiently altered at this time. The ritual description here becomes particularly technical, but it boils down to: the leader of the Petal Bay contingent (probably Takanata) must make a Yin roll; Wei Han must make a Yang roll; Spirit Builder must make a Chi roll. Both Magic Ritual skill and Wall skill can be used on these rolls, and twelve successes are needed. Chi may be spent to increase the number of successes here. Spirit Builder will be busy ritualling for the rest of the ritual, but the other two are free to take part in the rest of the rolls. However, Spirit Builder does need to remain conscious for the entire thing.
One balanced spread of severing consists of:
- One disruptive action each of Strength, Resistance, and Health
- One disruptive action each of Yang, Yin, and Chi
- One disruptive action each of Reflexes (any), Mind (any) and Social (any)
The ritual should be made up of entire balanced spreads; it may succeed if you try without that, but there may be side effects of the imbalance, which would be quite interesting to study.
A disruptive action is taken by one of those standing in for the Petal Bay wall, against the North Wall (that is, Wei Han), or vice versa. This should be an action of renunciation, or general hostility, or hatred, or violence, or emotional disdain, or other similar volitional expressions. A particularly appropriate Strength action would be to push Shen Wei Han off the wall (the Petal Bay wall, that is). A particularly appropriate Charisma action would be for Shen Wei Han to break up with one of those embodying the Petal Bay wall. Twelve successes are needed on this roll for it to be successful, and the severance level increases by one.
If there are no 1s rolled on this roll, then it is perfect and the ritual may proceed to the next disruptive action.
If 1s are rolled, then Shen Wei Han will be forced to make a Resolve roll, which must exceed six successes. If he succeeds in this roll, then the action is nearly perfect, which is close enough.
Otherwise, the disruptive action is imperfect, and Wei Han must himself (representing the Northern Wall) renounce his protection for the Isle of Beauty. He must draw a Renunciation effect, which he can accept, or reject. If he rejects the effect, then the emotive entanglement increases by one.
At the end of a full set of balanced spreads (or partway through if you want to risk interesting imbalance, which would be well worth studying), then a severance roll may be made. Both dice and skill are equal to the severance level, and the difficult is seven plus the emotive entanglement. Twelve successes are needed.
Well, how can an afternoon of pushing each other off the Wall not be fun? Zhuai offers to hold the Sankara stone, since this might well count as a destructive plan. The group picks up Iron Shirt Jo-Jo from the circus, on the theory that he has a lot of resistance, which could be useful here.
Shuyan, Lijuan, Cai Wen, and Kasumi decide that meditation is unlikely to work, and eat a lot of chips of stone. Jo-Jo, Takanata, and Xian are more meditative. Then, the ritual begins (with Xian as the ritual leader rather than Takanata).
Various "disruptive" actions take place - with enough fortune, most people can make twelve successes on things against Wei Han, and Wei Han starts burning through shticks, items, fortune, and then karma, to avoid missing his resolve rolls.
In the first drift, two wasp nests fall onto the Wall and let loose swarms of angry wasps, causing everything to be at +1 difficulty until the wasps are dealt with. Jo-Jo becomes temporarily invulnerable to throw one nest over the side, and the other is dealt with via lamp oil and a flaming arrow.
The Cartogramancer (presumably) continues to send difficulties - tanglevines, shrieking eels, fire, and ice - but while quite a mess is made on the wall, the ritual continues.
In the end, after a large handful of karma, Wei Han draws only one psychlim card: "Not My Island: Protect cannot be used to protect circus NPCs"
And then, the Petal Bay wall is no longer part of the North Wall...
- People who ate rocks feel unwell.
- Kuan-Xi and Xiao Fa visit Bear Mountain to get Kuan-Xi some training with Master Zhou. Surprisingly, so does Murase Minako.