Zoom War

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"To win a war quickly takes long preparation." The run takes place at the end of the Month of the Dog in the Tenth Year of the Dog since the Third Treaty of Houses.

The run takes place principally in the Dragon's Throne

Previous Run


A quick briefing about Arcade politics is given:

  • A Third Treaty of Houses is coming, likely provoked by the House of Judicious Interference, and also Mio and Liet.
  • The party is supporting Lady Jin for Queen of the Arcade.
  • The Light is also meddling, especially with the Flower Houses and the commoners (also House Foon), and is bad.
  • The Dark is also bad, and is entangled with the Tanzhe.
  • Shen Dai Han has been eliminated, and his contact list stolen.

Shen Wei Han (rather than the Obsidian Warlord) has been given the Operation Plan for the Beastmaster of Men's war plan. He goes over it - there are lots of plans for various fronts, and notes on what is being countered. After pondering it for many hours, he begins to suspect that there is something that doesn't quite line up. The offensive in the Arcade, and the offensive in the Steppes don't quite overlap; there's a blank space, not quite at the Gate of Shen. From this, Wei Han concludes that in the same way there was a secret fourth mechanic on the Shrouded Isle, there is a secret fourth offensive to sack the Dragon's Throne.

In all the briefing anyone has heard, no one has yet even mentioned the Dragon's Throne. It doesn't have any extra defenses (the Dragon Army usually deals) and nobody knows it is coming. No one, except Wei Han.

Wei Han gets 27 karma, only for use during the run, and especially for the purposes of Wall powers. Additionally, for the duration of the run, the walls of the Dragon's Throne count as the North Wall.

Wei Han briefs everyone - he can get people, including some other assistance, to the Dragon's Throne in order to arrive just in time. Everyone can recruit an NPC or a group.

Sister Yuan
<held open>
Spirit Builder
Master Zhou
Broken Sword
Merit's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy group

Then, Wei Han brings everyone to the Dragon's Throne, arriving just in time.


Outer Ring

The Northerners will be coming over the outer walls, so people deploy into the three outer ring districts.

In each district, there is a place that must be protected, and a named NPC who must be protected, and a Northern effect throughout.

Invisible Gate
Archer Urchins
Honorable Equals (Battle): Any shtick used by a PC can be used by all the villains until the next drift.
House of Silent Discretion
Niyo (Imperial Messenger)
Regenerating Bone (Necromancy): Undead mooks respawn nigh-immediately if there is a mook of a higher number still on the board.
Iron Keys
Fou Zan (Bureau of Weights and Measures)
Winged Victory (Beastmastery): Villains all fly and have move-by claw attacks (and an extra dodge pool).

After several hours of fighting, a messenger arrives, with news of the rest of the war:

Messenger from the Honeth Arcade: Things started out well, as most of the house levies took the field and seemed prepared to bring the fight to the enemy. (Five houses succeeded on their Mil vs. North rolls.). The Lord of Protection led the initial charges, but quickly became lost in the general melees, and command sort of devolved down to the various independent unit commanders with little unified direction. (Gainful Protection Mil vs North 1 of 6 SUCCESS) But still, the individual units performed brilliantly, and the country certainly seemed prepared to fight. As the front moved north, most of the coordination seemed to be coming out of smaller towns such as Daizhou, whose leadership council masterfully staged a full-scale revolt just as the city's northern defenders were preparing to repel an assault led by the forces of the House of Resplendent Decoration if you can believe it. (Resplendent Decoration Mil vs North. 3 of 5 SUCCESS). Things bogged down quickly after that though - as Resplendent Decoration forces tried to assume command, the Lord of Protection was nowhere to be seen, and the other houses started to drift apart leaving the front with numerous holes.

Worst of all, the Lord of Benevolent Oversight tried to reignite the flagging offensive by leading his own guard out to the front only to be overwhelmed by the enemy forces retreating out of Daizhou. Witnesses say the King took an arrow to the gut, went down, and hasn't been seen since. (Benevolent Oversight Mil vs North. 10 of 6 CRITICAL FAIL)

Messenger from the Qin Chao Steppes: The offensive against the Northern forces started out strong with the various military units of both the First Servant and the Dragon Army working together rather seamlessly. Things started to break down after several initial victories when the people of Stone Drum began to sing victory songs (Peasants: 4 +4), seemingly claiming all of the credit for the early victories away from the Dragon Army (Imperials: +6). The friction was soon eased by a glowing speech from Princess Yue Ping, daughter of the First Servant and her espoused, Gipeno (Royalty: +8). It remains to be seen if this temporary break in the momentum will turn the tide of battle which was to this point decidedly against the Northern invaders.

In addition to the named NPCs (who must be protected) and the named places, people discover that there are treasures suitable for looting by Northerners (or party members) and there are a lot of civilians who have not managed to hide sufficiently well, and must be helped. While the fighters engage the threats, the less fighty dash around evacuating civilians and occasionally pocketing treasures.

After some more fighting, another messenger arrives.

Messenger from the Craneslake Heights: The terrain in and around the Heights is an impediment during the best of times, and even more so when trying to execute pitched battles. Both sides seem locked in a dragging war of attrition, with the populace trying to ride out the seemingly endless fighting (Social: 4). Supplies are dangerously low throughout the kingdom (Resources: 4) , but for now, the scene seems to be one of relative stalemate, with both the forces of the King Restored and the Dragon Army working to keep the enemy from making any real gains, even as they themselves have difficulty pushing the enemy back (Battle: 5).

People are disappointed to discover that the Northern War Boons are still in effect even after taking down the named bad guys. The fighting is bitter, but most of the civilians are being evacuated or hidden.

Messenger from the Wall: Things are not going well for the Obsidian Warlord but the lines seem to be holding. Clearly outnumbered (Recruitment: 0 to 3), his forces are a marvel of coordination and motion, arriving just in time to plug the many gaps that seem to develop and then vanish as if they were planned to lure enemy forces into them (Strategy: 3 to 1). The dedication and skill of our noble defenders is a marvel to behold (Training: 2 to 1), but their seemingly endless numbers (and plenty of undead) appear to be keeping the enemy resolve from suffering under the skillful pounding. (Morale: 2 to 2).

Takanata evacuates Niyo to Jade and leaves him there.

Xian starts fast-talking the beastmastered Dragon Army into throwing the loot to her. "Do you remember your secondary objective?" "Yeah." "Are you sure? Do you know which way it is?" See if you can throw the secondary objective to Xian. (This turns out to be civilians, much to Xian's distress).

At the end of the turn, objectives are scored:

End of phase 1.
Did you protect all named NPCs? Yes
Protect all named places? Yes
Prevent any invaders from exiting to next ring? No
Defeat some of the invaders? Yes
Defeat all named invaders? No
Save some locals? Yes
Save all locals? No

In order to prevent the Northerners from advancing, the party has to have scored 7, which they have not. (To prevent advance from the inner ring to Obsidian will require 5, to prevent advance to Ivory will take 3, and to Jade will only require 1. But the farther the Northerners get, the more overall damage will be done.

Inner Ring

Elegant Springs Noodle House
Black Pearl
War Mammoths (Beastmastery): Armored mammoths, which have Trample, and dire wolves, which have claw/claw/bite attacks.
Bonus effect
Life Boon (Life): regeneration
Dulcet Harp
Wu Wangmu
Attacks of Opportunity (Battle): Attacking a mook of color X triggers an attack from all nearby of color X.
Imperial Archives
Wights (Necromancy): Desolid. Damage goes through all toughness, and can only be dodged, not parried.

Xian finds the Black Pearl near her house, which needs protecting.

Merit looks for an old buddy who knows where the people in Copper might be, and gets faster at evacuating.

Sister Yuan Shu falls to a barbarian.

Messenger from the Honeth Arcade: With the loss of both the Lord of Benevolent Oversight and the Lord of Protection from the fight, it looked like things were beginning to flag, until the sudden appearance of a new and heretofore unknown military leader, Lady Jin of the House of Beneficent Travel (Beneficent Travel Mil vs North 2 of 6 SUCCESS). No one is sure who her mysterious advisor is, always at her side, (Invisible House Mil vs North 2 of 4 SUCCESS) but her coordination of the remaining Arcade forces is truly a thing to behold. The troops of Governor Lo Xiao Fa (Exuberant Interference Mil vs North. 5 of 4+2 SUCCESS) abandoned the Tanzhe Plain, rode north in the Lady's carriages, and between them the houses have been able to drive the invaders all the way back to the wall! Will one of the southern kingdoms make a play for the Plain while its defenders are saving the Empire?

Messenger from the Qin Chao Steppes: Northern forces are finding it hard going even in their retreats here in the Steppes. Numerous trench works are slowing down their movements even as they are bombarded with trebuchet and ballista fire from the rear. (Tradesmen: +7). But the momentary disunity in the Empire's forces has clearly been resolved, as retreat the northerners must under the seemingly unstoppable press of our brave warriors. (Military: +9)

Messenger from the Cranesflight Heights: As it was written, so has it come to pass! (Prophesy: 6). The northern barbarians were completely unprepared for the sudden appearance of the men and fighting monks of Bear Mountain appearing in their rear. These reinforcements had apparently moved through the Mountains of Heaven in the night to appear in perfect flanking positions behind enemy lines (Strategy: 6). Early reports indicate they are lead by the Wu Xing himself, although this is uncertain as other reports indicate that the Wu Xing has been seen moving herself about the front (Spirit: 4), even saving the life of the fabled Ting Ting while that beautiful (and terrifying) force has been using all her skill to protect the King Restored.

The wights are surprisingly effective against Master Deng.

Li Merit spends seven karma to find a book to read to help Xiao Fa get the support of the bureaucracy, reads it, and sends an NPC to safety.

Yanling takes Hadisen to the Imperial Archives. Merit heads to the Imperial Archives too.

Xian horses to Wu Wangmu, who gets on the horse.

Messenger from the Wall: The fight at the Wall has turned as the sudden appearance of the forces of the Illuminated Precincts have arrived to shore up the weakening lines. How the Obsidian Warlord managed to get them there is anyone's guess, but their presence was sorely needed. Simultaneously, a significant portion of the Beastmaster of Men's forces seem to have vanished from the field. Whether they were taken by the Dread Death Spirit, the Army of the Fallen, or simply moved to the reserve in preparation for some future assault remains to be seen. (UPDATE: Recruitment: 1 to 2).

Beyond the wall though things are turning for the worse, as the few gains made into enemy territory have all been lost, with whole companies of Dragon Army troops going over to the enemy. (Subversion: 1 to 3). Finally taking the field himself, the Obsidian Warlord seems poised to let the outcome of this war be decided in an epic clash of titans (Destiny: 1 to 1) calling upon the spirits of his murdered dead to help him vanquish the Beastmaster of Men by strength of arms (Mysticism: 2 to 1)!

Shengao watergates to his house, and evacuates the civilians. The mammoths do not get an action until 6, but they fail to trample Kuan-Xi, who is running on raindrops, and Master Zhou, who is too dodgy.

Spirit Builder gets put to defend the wall to Obsidian, though he's squishy.

Xian takes Wangmu to Ivory. Ivory is not active, so Xian can loot it but not investigate the map. She finds two nickels and a dime worth of plunder/loot (as opposed to the pennies people have been finding in the rings).

In the Imperial Archives, Merit and Hadisen find the document that the Bear Regent wants destroyed, and destroy it.

End of phase 2.
Did you protect all named NPCs? Yes
Protect all named places? Yes
Prevent any invaders from exiting to next ring? No
Defeat some of the invaders? Yes
Defeat all named invaders? Yes
Save some locals? Yes
Save all locals? No

With five successes, Obsidian is protected and the invasion ends.

The final messenger arrives:

Messenger from the Qin Chao Steppes: Victory! The results of the battle were seemingly never in doubt as the extensive preparation and coordination of the Empire's forces easily pushed back what troops remained in the Steppes while enemy forces were distracted and desperately shoring up battles elsewhere in other countries. The First Servant has prevailed, and all are looking forward to his daughter's wedding and coronation. Why a coronation you ask? All we could find is that following the battle the First Servant's wife was heard to say "Lord Dog has called him home." (Final Results: Steppes: +9 Victory)

Messenger from the Cranesflight Heights: Victory! Mostly. The armies of the Heights are smashed, but so are the invaders. The forces from Bear Mountain will retreat with many fewer than they brought to the fight, but the day was indeed saved. The Wall stands between the forces once more, but it is safe to say the northerners will return, if not in this generation, then in the next. (Final Results: Heights: 4 Stalemate (ties to the defender)).

Messenger from the Wall: The war is over! The Beastmaster of Men has fled before the Obsidian Warlord and unifying power over the clans seems to be broken. (Final Results: Imperium: 12 v 12 Stalemate (ties to the defender)). But the cost was vast and the Obsidian Warlord was carried from the field following their confrontation. The Dragon Army is in disarray, and even now, mere hours after the battle, there is talk that it may need to be reorganized. But by whom, and for what? All we know now, is that the war has ended and the Empire has prevailed.

Messenger from the Honeth Arcade: The admittedly stunning victory of the Obsidian Warlord over the Beastmaster of Men almost pales in significance to the glory seen elsewhere on the front. It seems the King of the Arcade, the Lord of Benevolent Oversight, had not died in the initial assaults as earlier thought. He was taken prisoner and dragged north for interrogation or conversion. But just before the retreating beastmasters could get their prize over the wall, the Lord of Protection emerged in their midst, apparently leaving his forces behind to secure the victory while throwing himself personally into the enemy troops to aid his lord. It's reported that it took a full dozen Northern Battle mages to pierce his glowing armor, but they were eventually successful, finally getting through his defense and savaging him with arrows and spears as he retreated from the fray following his victory. He was last seen carrying the limp body of his king back from the front before being lost once more in the press of advancing troops driving the enemy hard back to the wall. Final results: (Arcade: +36 Glorious Victory)

People tally up their loot:

  • Merit: 2 pennies
  • Tinker/Tailor/Soldier/Spy: 3 pennies
  • Broken Sword: 2 pennies
  • Cai Wen: 3 pennies (Squeaky: 1 penny)
  • Shen Gao: 1 penny
  • Spirit Builder: 1 penny
  • Xian: chest, 2 nickels, penny