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Monday, 21 March 2011

Kwaidan part 1

"A rack of cloud across the light of evening As if they too, those distant hills, wore mourning weeds."
–The Tale of Genji
Players' introduction
Your lord is worried by reports from an outlying demesne, in Kii province. Peasants have been terrorised by a spectral figure on the moors north of Asamimura village. This ghost appears to be a preta, or unquiet spirit, who will only be laid to rest by the proper segaki (exorcism) services performed over his bones. The lord intends to test the mettle of you, his young samurai, by sending you to the village as bodyguards with Sonjo, a Buddhist monk who will perform the necessary rites.

Sonjo the monk (level 3 Buddhist Gakusho)
Str: 5
Dft: 10
Spd: 12
Hlh: 12
Wit: 20
Will: 25
Damage: -1
BAP: 5
MNA: 1
BMA: 4
Power: 40
Hit Points: 16
Skills: Jujutsu(13), Sacred Dance(16), Rhetoric(16), Butsu-do(17), Raja-Yoga (10), Gnana-yoga(11), Tea Ceremony(14), Meditation(12).

Sonjo is likely to take most of the credit or blame resulting from the mission. The players are being sent along merely as bodyguards. Sonjo is an enlightened fellow and will see the value of enlisting Ugetsu's [see below] aid.

Referee’s introduction
This scenario is loosely based around a set of classical Japanese kwaidan (or ghost stories). The referee should use his own judgement and bring in suitable encounters when appropriate rather than slavishly following the order in which they are listed here. Read through the whole scenario carefully as this will provide ideas on how to present each encounter.

Description of Asamimura Monastery & Village

The moors
As the party approach Asamimura village they will cross a stretch of barren moors, taking four hours. There is a 10% chance of an encounter every two hours. Roll 1-6:

1. 1-3 peasants (day only)
2. The Mujina (dusk or night only)
3. The Rokuro-kubi (night only)
4. 1 viper
5. 2-12 wolves
6. Watanabe Tetsu

The Mujina
Spirit Rank: 2
Hit Points: 18
Armour Class: 1
Zanshin: 1
Magic BCS: 11
BAP: 12
MNA: 2
Attack: Tanto, BCS 11, Damage 1d6 lethal.
Spell: Traitor ground (once a day).

She will lure people to her by sobbing and moaning as if in distress. She appears to be a normal woman, wearing a kimono made of rich material. Her face, however, is a terrify¬ing blank, without eyes, ears or nose. When the party is ranged around her she will turn and reveal the true horror of her identity.

Out to sea and over the ruined graveyard at the monastery the dreaded demon fires, or oni-bi, can be seen to flit among the night's shadows. The manor house of the squire (ji-zamurai Watanabe Tetsu) is now deserted and open to the elements. Tetsu himself had his sanity destroyed in an encounter with the Mujina.

If encountered, Watanabe Tetsu will demand money from the party, swinging his katana wildly while doing so. At other times he will shout insanely about a 'faceless woman'.

Watanabe Tetsu (level 3 Bushi, former ji-zamurai of Asamimura)
Str: 25
Dft: 18
Spd: 16
HIh: 18
Wit: 18
Armour Class: 1
Will: 25
Zanshin: 2
Damage: +2
BAP: 9
MNA: 2
BMA: 5
Hit Points: 40
Skills: Kenjutsu(17) with Precision Strike(10), Atemi-Waza(14), Bajutsu(15), laijutsu(12), Kyujutsu(14),Armory(10), Hawking(13), Fish¬ng(9), Tracking(10).
Equipment: Dai-sho, a few pieces of armour.

Since being driven insane by the Mujina, Tetsu has wandered the moors terrorising travellers. He is clad scantily and is extremely dirty. If taken to the shrine of Ugetsu the kami, Tetsu will recover his wits. He is a diligent martial artist but somewhat greedy and hardly of sterling character.

Because of him, the local peasants give the area a wide berth. Occasionally one may be found, but it is more likely that he or she will flee than stop and be questioned. If a peasant is questioned he or she will report that 'new people' have moved into the village, that it is indeed the local ji-zamurai who wanders about the moors and paddy fields half-naked and mad (this with some embarrassment as Tetsu was once a much respected and feared man), that a holy innocent lives in the temple of the monastery and is fed by pious villagers from outlying areas, and, that despite the ruination of the monastery, some kind spirit or person still sees to it that the dead are buried when they are left inside the temple gate. They will also report that travellers have been terrorised by a ghost on the moors particularly religious pilgrims and men of a pious mien. They, themselves however never venture out onto the moors at night, so therefore cannot verify this.

(Continued on Wednesday.)


  1. Had Buddhism spread from the Indian subcontinent to the Far East by the Heian period?

  2. Four centuries before the Heian period, ie almost a thousand years earlier than the time of this scenario.