Sunday, June 19, 2022

Savage Gamma World #0

L to R: Rex, Kong, Batte, and Vik

We were supposed to start the Blood Sword campaign in June, but due to a delay in the delivery, we needed a filler campaign, and so I decided to return to our Gamma World campaign.

Instead of using the Gamma World 3E rules, which we used for our first (unchronicled) campaign, I decided to use Savage Worlds, with the Savage Gamma World mod.

In our campaign world our PCs are mutated sentient animals living in a village in the wastelands, eking out a living with medieval level tech and their mutant powers. When they learned that the nearby human wasteland warriors were planning to launch an attack on their village, the village elder sent our PCs to cave system in the mountains that is rumoured to contain advanced technology and weapons that may help them defend themselves.

The module I used for this campaign was Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, or rather a cut-down version of the module. So yes, we were playing an AD&D 1E module using Gamma World 3E rules.

The PCs - Rex, Kong, and Batte - arrived at the "caves" to find that the wasteland warriors had the same idea and had arrived before them. After some skirmishing and exploration, the PCs managed to defeat the boss monster (the famous Froghemoth), and return to their village with some weapons and technology.

In this season of the campaign, our PCs will learn that the wasteland warriors have gathered in strength and that defending against them will not be possible. They will therefore be sent across the Barrier Peaks to find a new place for the villagers to settle.

PC Profiles

  • Batte

Mutated bat. Powers: Fear Generation, Mental Shield, Sonar, Telepathy. Hindrance: Cannot speak.

  • Kong

Mutated ape. Powers: Levitation, Life Leech, Mental Invisibility, Radiation Eyes.

  • Rex

Mutated rabbit. Powers: Anti-Life Leech, Carapace, Directional Sense, Gas Generation (Paralysis).

  • Vik

Mutated duck. Powers: Displacement, Energy Sensitivity (Defect), Heightened Sense (Touch), Molecular Disruption.

The mutant powers were randomly rolled for, and as you can see there are some interesting combinations and interactions there.

Kong has Life Leech, which is a area-effect power that causes damage to creatures in the area; but Rex has Anti-Life Leech, which makes him immune to the effect and may cause the power to rebound onto Kong instead!

Vik has Heightened Sense (Touch), which gives him a bonus for his Molecular Disruption, a touch-based power. This makes him rather powerful, but is balanced by the fact that he rolled the Energy Sensitivity defect, which gives him a disadvantage when near non-organic power sources.

This will be a rather short campaign, with around 5 sessions, and this time I plan to chronicle it on the blog, so stay tuned.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Zero Level One-shot: Sailors of the Starless Sea

A combination of events - public holidays, school holidays, work events, family events, and travels plans - means that there would be an eight-week gap between our scheduled campaigns, so I decided to open our regular Monday evening slots to one-shots.

Dave kindly agreed to run the first session: a funnel adventure using the Zero Level 5E rules. We were asked to create four characters in advance, using the random tables in the rules - three to start the game with and one to spare in case we lost all three characters.

The fun started as soon as the characters were rolled up. I ended up with:

Lance Grindr, a half-elf lens-grinder, with high INT, high WIS, but low STR and DEX. I had him as the bookish type.

Barry Stier, a human barrister, with 18 INT and CHA 10. He would be an arrogant prick who bosses everyone around.

Forrest Grump, a dwarven woodcutter, with INT 7 and WIS 5. Sadly, Forrest was manipulated by Barry, and died early in the game.

K'urnel Xandaz, an elf with STR 13, DEX 14, CON 11, INT 13, WIS 13, and CHA 9. With stats like those he was told he could become anything he wanted, so he chose to be a chicken butcher.

The scenario we played was the Dungeon Crawl Classic classic Sailors of the Starless Sea. I don't want to give the plot away, but suffice to say that the scenario had a good mix of horror, combat, exploration, and fantastic landscape.

I had a lot of fun role-playing my characters - especially Barry - and also providing the maps and figures impromptu as they emerged in the game, even providing incense and a candle when they appeared in the game. I guess if you have been GMing long enough you accumulate stuff that will allow you to run a lot of scenarios.

Barry spent most of the scenario staying in the middle of the group and not exposing himself to danger, but instead encouraging poor Forrest and the other party members to take risks. We all knew someone like that in the army. One by one the other party members died - every player lost at least 2 characters, with Eugene losing all four of his! In the climatic final scene of the scenario Barry realised that the only way he would survive was if he risked his own skin and worked with the rest of the party, and in doing so he redeemed himself. At least in his own eyes.

This was the first time I have played in a funnel adventure, and like I said it was a lot of fun from day zero. This was especially so as we were all familiar with each other and we all played to the spirit of the genre. I am not sure if I will recommend a funnel adventure as a newbie's introduction to RPGs, but it's certainly something I will try one day when we need a filler session.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Assorted Dark Ages figures

I painted these figures over the long weekend with the goal of using them in a The Hero's Journey one-shot game based on The Last Kingdom.

They are a rough job, but they illustrate how rich the multi-part plastic kit market is, and what can be done with a bit of mix and match. The figures here are based primarily on the Gripping Beast plastic sets (Vikings, Saxons, and generic Dark Age Warriors and Dark Age Archers), with heads from Puppetswar, Frostgrave Wizards, and Oathmark Elf sets, and bits from the Gripping Beast Dark Age Picts and the Frostgrave Soldiers sets.

It truly is a golden age for RPG gamers.

Monday, May 02, 2022

The Trigram Chronicles #6

'Along the River During the Qingming Festival'

Braving traps and ambush in the old mine, our heroes save the Sword Sister from prison

Confronting General Yen at Qingming, our heroes take their revenge in blood

The next morning our heroes (see PC profiles here) awoke to find Yang and Liu already up, and working to help the Two Elders cook breakfast. After the meal, Feng, the Old Man of Lushan, declared that he would teach Yang and Liu his kung fu - having observed their contest with the other banes the day before, he had concluded that our heroes lack the aptitude to master another one of the Trigram kung fu styles. Our heroes parted ways with Yang and Liu, and made plans to rendezvous with them in three months.

On their way back to Tongling, our heroes came to take a rest at a teahouse. Here they observe two men playing a game of weiqi in a nearby table. One was dressed in the clothes of a scholar, while the other one wore the clothes of a labourer. His curiosity piqued, Wu approached the table to observe the game, and found that they two were highly skilled players, but the labourer was losing the game. Presently the labourer began to accuse the scholar of cheating, and the scholar laughed the accusation off in good nature. The labourer turned to Wu and asked his opinion, to which Wu replied: the wise player knows when to quit. The labourer then conceded the game, and grab the cup of wine offered by the scholar. As he did so some of the wine spilled out of the cup, and where the spilled wine landed on the table it began to burn through the wood. Unfazed, the labourer downed the wine in a single gulp, but suffered no ill effect.

The scholar then introduced himself to our heroes: he was the Jade-faced Scholar, the chief of the Twelve Banes of Jiangnan. The labourer was his deputy The Brute, and they were having the usual bet: if The Brute lost the game, he would have to drink a poison concocted by the Scholar - the Scholar enjoyed creating new poisons, while The Brute enjoyed proving his ability to resist all poisons. The other Banes now entered the teahouse, and the Scholar bade all to sit around a large table. When all had been seated, he made a proposal to our heroes: with the Two Elders now in seclusion and the Two Emissaries dead, the Twelve Banes were now down to eight - would our heroes join them and bring the number up to Twelve again? While they had been working for General Yen, the Scholar had decided now to align himself with the Ming rebels, and hope that the heroes' relationship with Prince Gui would allow them a chance to gain positions of power in the new government when the rebellion wins. Our heroes were reluctant to join the criminals, but found it hard to refuse them, until Wu asked to be allowed to defer the decision to after they had taken their revenge on General Yen. Satisfied with that reply, the Banes left,

When they arrived back to Tongling, our heroes learned that the leader of the Sword Sisters had been arrested by the Qing. General Zhuo, who had been appointed by General Yen to replace General Yu, had closed the city gates and threatened to execute one woman from every household in the city if the Sword Sisters did not surrender themselves. Duan, the leader of the Sword Sisters, surrendered herself. The city gates were opened, and most of the womenfolk in the city fled to the countryside afterwards.

Our heroes resolved to rescue Duan. Through his contacts in the Beggar Sect, Wang learned that Duan was not kept at the city prison, but had been transported to a secret prison located in an abandoned copper mine outside the city. Taking the guises of the merchants who supplied food to the guards and prisoners at the secret prison, our heroes drugged the food, and when the guards had fallen asleep from the effect of the drug, entered the old mine.

Inside, they followed torches set at intervals along the walls of the mine shaft inwards. They found that the deeper chambers of the mine had been turned into prison cells, and that several prisoners were being held there, all fast asleep from the drug in the food. In the innermost cell was Duan, trapped beneath an iron cage.

Our heroes opened the cell doors with the keys they took from the drugged guards, but as Soong dragged one of the prisoners out he realised that the man was heavier than he expected for a prisoner. At the same time, Wang realised that prison lacked the stench of a normal one. Soong kicked the prisoner, who instantly woke up and readied himself to fight: it was a trap! A portcullis dropped over the cell where Duan was held, trapping Zhang inside, while at the same time the lights went out, and the prisoners exited their cells and started to attack Soong, Wang, and Wu.

But the darkness was not the only obstacle our heroes faced, as there were flame and spike traps in the corridors. After a hard fight, our heroes freed Duan, and together they fled the prison. For his heroism, Duan relieved Wu of his vow to disable his kung fu, and instead made him swear to not pass it on.

Months passed as our heroes laid low, until they once again reunited with Yang and Liu. Together, they studied and practised their kung fu, such that by the time spring came, they had learned the weakness of General Yen's kung fu.

And so when the Qingming Festival approached, our heroes were ready to exact their vengeance. The Sword Sisters had learned of the location of General Yen's parents' tomb, and our heroes resolved to ambush him there, when he was expected to be accompanied by few guards.

Sure enough, came the day when the General came to worship at his parents' tomb, he left the two dozen men in his retinue at the foot of the hill with his mount, taking only two bodyguards with him. Our heroes laid in ambush, and when he had completed the rites of worship, sprung their attack by throwing missiles at the general. General Yen dodged the attacks. Immediately one of the bodyguards drew a bamboo tube from his sleeve and tugged at a string at one end, sending a signal flare into the sky - the guards at the foot of the hill would arrive in under twenty minute.

Our heroes charged into combat. Yang and Liu drew the bodyguards away from Yen, while our heroes surrounded Yen. Beset on four sides, the general found it impossible to defend against the flurry of blows from our heroes. During a lull in the fighting, he tried to convince them to join him in service of the Qing court, but our heroes would not relent. The general fought on valiantly, but by the time the guards came into view they were only in time to see him fall. The six heroes disappeared into the woods surrounding the tomb, and were seen no more.

Prepping and Running the Game

So concluded our short wuxia campaign.

By the end of the last session I thought that we had gone through most of the tropes of the genre, with only the final boss fight to play. I had some trouble coming up with material to fill the session until then, but once again this blog came to my rescue.

I decided to place a dungeon into the session, and to plant some traps in it, utilising some of the dungeon trappings models FG and I had. The players of course knew they were walking into a trap when I put the map onto the table, but nevertheless the fight was quite fun.

The final boss fight was tactically less interesting, I made the (possibly wrong) decision of using the two party NPCs to tie up Yen's bodyguards, essentially reducing the fight to a four PCs vs one NPC fight. The fight was static, with Yen surrounded on four sides by the PCs. As luck would have it three of the PCs were ahead of Yen in the initiative order, with Soong, the PC with the highest damage output going after. Each round saw Yen fending off the attacks from the three PCs, retaliating and wounding perhaps two of them, before being struck and wounded by Soong. This was not tactically interesting, but as we were all into the trope, we saw it was the three PCs occupying Yen's attention and drawing his attacks to allow Soong to land his blows. This interpretation was made more real when Wang and Zhang took so much damage that they were worried about being knocked out of the fight, with Wang using his kung fu to block damage inflicted on Zhang, and Wang having to spend Qi points to gain temporary hit points to stay in the fight. Now per the stats in the rules Yen would have been able to outlast the PCs, but I decided to reduce his hit points so the fight would not drag out, and have him fall at a dramatic moment.

All in all I would say this was a fun campaign that allowed us to indulge in the tropes of the genre. The combat rules were sufficiently crunchy to give each PC a different combat style, although it did also mean that the GM had to spend some time designing the NPC opposition to make the combats interesting.

While the genre was a fun to play, it is not one that I see us playing for long term or repeatedly. I am interested however in playing a gun-fu version of the rules, maybe a short campaign set in the John Wick universe, where the villain will also be played by Donnie Yen.

We will take a break from our usual campaigns this month and next as I have some work commitments and some of the players will be traveling. Instead we plan to play a series of one-shots, with Dave (and hopefully Dzaki) each taking a session, while I am aiming to run three sessions open to members on our Meetup group.

Addendum: I found out that DwD Studios actually has a set of Espionage/Paramilitary RPG rules called Covert Ops based on the same engine. Looks like it is on...

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Sludge Fox #5 - White's Plantation

Game 5 of the campaign had the rebels attack a village occupied by Crown forces.

FG launched a two-pronged attack on my position. For a while the cover provided by the houses my forces were holed up in gave me an edge, but the superior numbers of the rebels soon took a toll and my commander fled the field.

We will be taking a break from the campaign while FG paints his cavalry up. We hope to be trying out the Battletech Alpha and the CAV: Strike Operations rules in the near future.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Trigram Chronicles #5

Lushan in winter

Daring rescue in Tongling; our heroes save four from the blade of the executioner

Travel to Lushan to seek the Two Elders; our heroes face four of the twelve Banes

For half a month our heroes recuperated from their injuries at a house in Tongling, under the protection of the Sword Sisters. Then one morning, when Zhang, Soong, and Wu (see PC profiles here) were well enough to be out, they learned that the magistrate had announced that the four assassins who have murdered General You had been caught and would be executed at the city square at noon that day.

The three heroes went to the city square, where a small crowd had started gathering around a stage set up for the execution. Here, Soong noticed that they were being stalked by two men, whom he accosted. It turned out to be Yang Shou and Liu Zheng, two of the thugs they had defeated and sent home a few months earlier. Hearing of the news of general You's assassination, the two had decided to find our heroes and pledge their services to fight against the Qing. Our heroes accepted the two's offer, and gave them instructions to meet them outside the city.

The Sword Sisters warned our heroes that this was likely a trap laid by the Qing, but our heroes would not let four innocent men die for their actions, and so they decided to rescue the prisoners.

The city square was packed even before the hour of noon. Soong surveyed the crowd and noted that several men in plain clothes were watching the crowd more than they were watching the stage set up for the execution - this was indeed a trap! At the appointed hour three men and a woman, all of whom did not know kung fu by their movement, were marched onto the stage. The magistrate, a known corrupt official, strutted onto the stage... but before he could give the order to the executioner, Wu, hidden in a nearby building, threw a needle into this eye, killing him instantly!

The crowd began to panic as the soldiers tried to keep order. A troop of soldiers led the prisoners away from the square, but they were ambushed in an alley by our heroes, who defeated them in short order and set the prisoners free.

Returning to the Sword Sisters' house, our heroes learned that the last of the set of scrolls were known to be last held by the Two Elders of Lushan, who were the founders of the Twelve Banes of Jiangnan. Now during the reign of Emperor Tianqi, when the corrupt eunuch Wei Zhongxian held much power, famines and natural disasters resulted in much lawlessness in the lands south of the Yangtze. It was then that the Two Elders of Lushan, then know as the Jiangnan Chivalrous Couple, rallied a band of ten other martial artists and their followers to keep order and dispense justice in the region. However as their numbers increased they found it hard to maintain and keep order their band of followers, who turned to extortion to sustain themselves, such that in time they were known as the Twelve Banes of Jiangnan. Disillusioned, the two retired to Reed Forest Lake in Lushan, leaving control of the band to the others.

Our heroes met up with Yang and Liu, and together they journeyed westwards to Lushan. Near the foothills of Lushan they learned from the villagers that the Two Elders still lived in a hut in the middle of Reed Forest Lake in the mountains, where they had supplies sent to them every month. Our heroes purchased a boat and some wine and meat, which Yang and Liu carried as the party ascended the mountain. Now even in those days Lushan was known for its scenery, and along the path to the lake were rocks carved with the calligraphy of famous poets from the previous dynasties, but our heroes had little time to tarry and appreciate these.

As they passed through a snow-covered bamboo forest on their way, they were ambushed by black-cladded swordsmen hiding among the bamboo and in pits dug into the ground, whom they defeated. It was thus that they knew their arrival was anticipated, and this was confirmed when they arrived at the shore of Reed Forest Lake, for across the ice floes formed on the surface of the lake came four forms, skipping from floe to floe, to confront them.

Two of these they have met earlier: the Purple Robed Twin Swords whom they fought at Qiyun Mountain. The other two they knew only by reputation: Red kasaya monk and White robed taoist, two more of the Twelve Banes of Jiangnan. The four explained that the Two Elders were not receiving visitors, and bade our heroes to leave. Our heroes were of course unwilling to leave without meeting the Two Elders, but knowing that they could not defeat the four in combat, instead proposed a contest, which if they win, the four would give them passage.

Now Yi, the Purple Robed Swordsman, advised his companion against this, saying that our heroes were full of trickery. The Red Monk, however, was impetuous and easily provoked, and challenged Soong to a contest, saying that he would step aside if the latter could defeat him in five rounds. Soong countered his challenge, saying that as he was a junior, the terms of the contest should instead be: if the Red Monk was unable to knock him out in five rounds, he would have to step aside. The Red Monk agreed, and proceeded to attack Soong, who put up a methodical defence. At the end of five rounds, Soong was much battered but was still standing, and the Red Monk stepped aside.

Now it was Zhang's turn. Knowing that the Purple Robed Twin Swords complemented each other with their fighting style, she challenged Wen, the Purple Robed Swordswoman to a duel. Trying to play to their own strength, she attempted to keep the distance and use her throwing knives to defeat her opponent, but Wen was able to close the distance each time, and Zhang was defeated.

With each side having won a round, it now came down to Wu. But it was the White Taoist who proposed the contest: he and Wu would each carve a line of poetry on a nearby rockface, and whoever did the better would win the round. Wu agreed, and won the contest convincingly.

The four then left as they had promised, with Yi again berating his companions for falling for the trickery of our heroes.

Yang and Liu now set the boat on the lake, and the party rowed their way to the tiny island in the middle. As they neared, they saw an old woman sweeping the floor outside the hut on the island. She admonished our heroes for creating a ruckus, and asked them to leave. The heroes announced that they had brought wine and meat as gifts, whereupon a voice from inside the hut welcomes them.

Entering the small hut, they found Feng, the Old Man of Lushan, and presented their gifts. They explained the purpose of their visit, and beseeched him to give them the scrolls. Feng was unmoved by their pleas, and indeed tried to dissuade them from their quest; the way of the world, he observed, was the strong preying upon the weak, and it was beyond the powers of a few to change the order of things. Nevertheless, the wine and meat had put him in a good mood, and he allowed the heroes to stay in his hut for the night.

Have our heroes journeyed so far to fail in their quest? Alas! dear readers, you must await the next chapter of our tale to find out.

Prepping and Running the Game

The plot for this session came more or less organically and from requests made by my players during session zero.

The plot involving the prisoners was of course supposed to be a dilemma for the players: should their characters risk capture by rescuing four unknown? I am glad they decided to, and was impressed by the way they pulled off the rescue.

Yang and Liu joining the party was the result of Zhang having reached level 3 of the Leader class, which gave her followers. I was able to use an NPC from an earlier session to introduce followers in a more natural fashion. 

They have asked for a fight in a bamboo forest, and one on water. I therefore decided to use a battle mat I had in our of my map books that showed a lake covered with ice floes for the big fight in the session, which in turn meant that I had to place the Two Elders in a suitable locale.

The other fight, an ambush in a bamboo forest, is of course a wuxia staple.

The way the final fight turned out was not planned. I had imagined a straight fight, but my players had different plans, and frankly I think they did an excellent job of playing to their characters' strengths while sticking to the wuxia ethos.

The campaign had been fun so far, but the next session, to be played at the end of the month, will be the final one. I have yet to decide what happens in the next session, but I have made it clear to my players it would be the finale session, and asked them where they imagined they would fight General Yen. Their decision was to confront him at the Qingming Festival, where he would return to his ancestors' tomb, presumably with a small entourage. This seemed like a reasonable choice, although I will have to come up with some ideas to make the battlefield interesting.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

The Trigram Chronicles #4

Layout of a typical siheyuan

Rescuing a kidnapped child brings the heroes into contact with the Sword Sisters Sect

Daring mission to the General's Residence to assassinate General Yen's right hand man

As the Qing forces begin to take over more and more of the lands south of the Yangtze, our heroes (see PC profiles here) are no closer to finding the last pair of scrolls that will allow them to defeat General Yen. Rather than to sit in despair, they decided to thwart the Qing's efforts at conquest.

Having learned that General Yen's right-hand man, General Yu Shou Ren, had set up his headquarters in the city of Tongling, our heroes traveled there. Here, they heard tales that several Qing commanders and officials had been assassinated, and now the city was in a state of curfew.

Despite that, our heroes plotted to find and sabotage a Qing base inside the city. On the night they were performing the reconnaissance, however, they chanced upon four men in black, one of whom carried a sack over one of his shoulders. Our heroes decided to follow the suspicious men, and when they were discovered, they attacked our heroes with throwing knives. Their attempts to parley being met with silence and more throwing knives, our heroes retaliated and defeated the men in black, to find that a child was inside the sack. As the last of the men in black attempted to flee, he was cut down by a swordswoman.

Soon more swordswomen arrived, and our heroes learned that they were of the Sword Sisters Sect, and that the child was the daughter of the leader of the chapter in Tongling. The Sect had been conducting assassinations of Qing commanders and officials, and in response General Yu had ordered his men to hunt down the Sword Sisters, who had to go into hiding. To force the Sword Sisters to emerge, General Yu's men resorted to kidnapping the daughter of their leader.

But even as the Sword Sisters thanked our heroes, they demanded to know how Wu had learned their kung fu, which was only taught to women. Wu replied that his late mother had taught him the kung fu. Now by their sect rules the punishment for teaching the kung fu to a man was death of both the teacher and the student, but as Wu had saved the life of one of their own, the Sword Sisters were now in a dilemma. Wu then volunteered to disable his own kung fu, but only after he had avenged his family on General Yen. The Sword Sisters agreed, on the condition that he assassinate General Yu too.

Our heroes agreed to the pact, and were given information about the General's residence in Tongling. Learning that General Yu had sequestered himself in his residence due to threats of assassination, only communicating with the troops in the frontlines via messengers, our heroes made their plans.

They waylaid one of the messengers outside the city one night, and donning his uniform and using his token of authority, Soong entered the residence to meet General Yu. At the same time, Zhang stole her way into the kitchen, where she prepared to start a fire to distract the guards. Wang and Wu laid in waiting on the roof of the reception hall, ready to burst through the roof and attack General Yu once Soong confirmed his presence.

But when Soong arrived inside the reception hall, he found that he had been met by a double for the general - General Yu had anticipated their move. Guards burst into the hall to arrest him. Wang and Wu leapt down from the roof into the rear courtyard. Zhang set the kitchen on fire and joined Wang and Wu, and together they made their way to the rear of the compound to try to kill the general in his quarters, but found the doors and windows barred. Simultaneously, nets were cast across the roofs of the courtyard, trapping our heroes. More guards emerged, and our heroes were now fighting to their front and their rear.

After a hard fight, Soong and Wang pushed the guards out of the reception hall, and returned to the rear courtyard to join Zhang and Wu, who had likewise defeated the guards there. Seeing our heroes wounded and trapped, General Yu emerged from his quarters, hoping to make an easy kill. But his hubris was his unmaking, as our heroes fought as one and quickly took him down. Then, taking his head as evidence of their success, our heroes cut through the net and made they way to safety, but not better leaving a message written in the blood of the dead man on the courtyard floor: we are coming for you next.

How will General Yen respond to our heroes' actions? To find out, dear reader, you must turn to the next chapter...

Prepping and Running the Game

The plot for the first half of the session once again came from a seed from this blog. During session zero one of the players had asked for a rooftop fight, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to incorporate one into the campaign.

I was impressed by Wu's player when he offered to disable his kung fu after his revenge mission is completed. This is a classic wuxia trope, and moments like this are the whole point of playing this campaign for us.

For the second half of the session I gave the players a free hand in plotting their mission, only giving them the picture of the compound as a planning aid. The twist is General Yu was already anticipating an attack, and I had the whole response more or less planned out, from the elite guards who would utilise the formation rules, and the use of nets across the courtyard to prevent them from escaping - once again a classic trope.

The PCs took some damage before the final fight with General Yu, but by now they had learned to fight as a team: three of them engaged in melee, with Wang using his Defender skill to protect the others, while Wu threw needles at the General. Once again this shows that  the 'action economy' of RPGs mean that a solo villain, no matter how powerful he is, is vulnerable to a whole group of PCs. I will have to make sure General Yen does not fall prey to this in our finale.