Friday, August 13, 2010

WotG: Session 4 After Action Report

I think I mentioned this before: This session mattered alot.  Until now, I've had a rough storyline, similar to my story with my first group where we tackled some minor, unimportant task (bandits) and then moved on to bigger things, I used a similarly small scale story (Bandits.  And an evil cult.  And politics.  Ok, perhaps less simple) to initiate the learning process for my players.

Now, we needed to get into the game, actually introduce some characters, lay some foundations, and get to actually sparking the fire of player creativity.

I originally intended to have a few travel sessions where the players got to know one another, but I decided that, given that we only play once a month and that we'd spend 3 sessions in "tutorial" already, it was time to simply get to the good stuff.  So, after a quick "What happened to you during the trip,"  We brought them right to Orchid Tea City (Bee and I bought an orchid as decoration) and tangled them instantly in the politics.  After Sun Lan Hua, princess of Southern Liang (Bee) had conquered the small village of Memorial on behalf of her kingdom (Southern Liang), Hanzhou, Southern Liang's rivals, are understandably upset and have sent a decadent and effete ambassador to threaten war and gain some concessions.  Meanwhile, in the court itself, the factions of the Shadow Minister and the Flying General contend for the desolate heart and mind of the king, one advising peace (the Shadow Minister, master of the Gu clan and Erik's father), and War (The Flying General, lord of the Ma clan, and father of Ma Wu Tai), while Sun Lan Hua deals with family troubles caused by her missing elder brother, her pesky younger brother, and her sultry, too-young step-mother (and, naturally, master Courtier).  Already, politics swirls around the revelation that Street Saint was Prince Hei, heir to the Dong clan, and the cruel, arrogant and stupid prince of the Xi, Brash Stallion, guest of the Royal Sun family here in Orchid Tea City, wants him humiliated by lending truth to the rumors that Prince Hei is gay.  There just happens to be a player-character male courtesan they can hire (And, indeed, was enjoyed over the night for a high price by Shouren, the effete ambassador of Hanzhou).  Meanwhile, the other two heroes, Gou Ying (our Street Sage) and Wolf Devil, find themselves wrapped in a noir fairy tale as a body falls from the roof and smashed into their table and when the incompetent local sheriff (used to helping drunks, not solving murder mysteries) refuses to tackle the case, the gothic, beautiful femme fatale "wife" of the victim begs them to investigate (and lands a curse on Gou Ying that forces him to "bring the noir" with him wherever he goes, which he promptly yin-yanged into a beneficial curse for his Might.  Grrrr, Daoists).  We ended on the revelation that the dead man was, in fact, a member of the Hanzhou emissaries, and that Gu Zan Xue's (Erik's) sister might have had something to do with it.

I thought it turned out well, more so now that I look back at it after writing that monster paragraph about it.  It had depth, complexity, much of which I've fluttered over.  My measuring stick has really been Bee, who is easily bored lately by any lack of quality, and she complained when I didn't bring in a certain "irritating" PC into the game (someone she's obviously picked out as a contrarian love interest), and she had quite a few comments after the game (the only thing she disliked was how easily the king was "duped" by his blushing bride, but there are factors she hasn't yet picked up on).  The rest seem to be loving it.... except for Wolf Devil and Gou Ying, who were neglected slightly during the game.  They've asked for a private session, and I've eagerly accepted, as once-a-month is just too slow for me, and this gives me a middle point where I can set up a quick game, establish some of the personalities for the up-and-coming tournament and some of the evil spies and villains lurking at the edge of Orchid Tea City's virtuous utopia.
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