[HoW solo AP] The 3 Pillars of Guilin

So, it was said that actual plays are welcome here. So, I gave one a try, though a little unorthodox…I’m extremely into the idea of Hearts of Wulin, but really am not in a great position to play. I live in China and just haven’t been able to make it work with time zones etc. So I thought I’d try a solo actual play as a writing project. I’ve been meaning to try writing more, and this felt like a good, sort of low stakes way to “play” a game I really want to play (and likely won’t get to play otherwise), while also writing some.

I would love any (constructive, please :X) criticism, though after what I’ve come up with so far, I will post some thoughts thus far. Because I’m a nerd I even wrote a (really janky) python framework to make writing this sort of thing easy…(the code is so gnarly though)

The background information ended up being pretty long, so I think of it sort of as “session 0.” It was tricky to find the balance between “I am just one person doing this and can edit to my heart’s content” and “lean into the spontaneity of a TTRPG.” I’d appreciate feedback on that. I tried hard to really lean into the idea that this is a game session, so that means people aren’t going back and constantly changing things, aren’t obsessed with everything lining up perfectly, etc. Instead I tried to write it like a session…you have characters, situations, and then the players and the mechanics interact to drive the narrative forward.

I’m also not a terribly experienced PBTA player, so definitely still figuring out when and how to best use mechanics etc. It’s all very raw, but hopefully it’s better than nothing. I’m hoping that this whole experience can give me a better sense of PBTA gameplay.

Again, I welcome feedback on anything and everything, just be kind, as I’m new to all of this. The first session ended up being a little shorter than a real session probably would be, but I thought it’d be good to get some feedback on everything that could hopefully go back into things.

I’ll share more thoughts specific to gameplay etc after I post the background and first session.


The 3 Pillars of Guilin are the Elephant Trunk Hill Sect, the Karst Hill Sect, the Li River Sect. For as long as anyone in the are can remember, these three sects have made up the backbone of the local wulin. Still, memories are short, and on the jianghu fortunes are made and broken in the time it takes to draw a sword from its sheath.
Until recently, the Karst Hill Sect was the most powerful, followed by the Elephant Trunk Hill Sect and the Li River Sect coming in last–though they tend to prefer keeping a low and stable profile. But under the leadership of the ambitious and powerful Su Xue Lu, the Elephant Trunk Hill Sect has seen its fortunes rise. And, at the time time, the Karst Hill Sect has been slipping. A lost deal here. A dead martial artist there. Alone, just part of the risk one takes when seeking glory on the jianghu. But altogether? Is luck truly so cruel? Do we not make our own luck on the jianghu?
Our story centers around four young warriors–Xu Lian Yu of the Elephant Trunk Hill Sect, Chen Li Zhang of the Karst Hill Sect, Peng Song Yue of the Li River Sect, and Xue Wang Long, unaffiliated. Do not write them off for their young age–each one is a martial genius that a sect of any size would welcome into their top ranks. They represent the future of the wulin–well, they did. A months ago or so the events which find them on on the run were set into motion. Chen Li Zhang and Peng Song Yue, friends from a young age, were set to be married–which neither of them wanted. Ultimately, the decided to run away. Someone took advantage of this and framed them for betraying their sects…stealing prized sect secrets, stealing prized sect weapons. The two happened to chance upon a masked figure carrying the Karst Hill Sect’s prized mace, No More Evil!, which they were able to recover. But when they went back to return the weapon, they were branded as traitors. They made a quick get away, and have been on the run since.
Xu Lian Yu over heard her master talking to her spy inside of the Karst Hill Sect, Lin Xiao Hui. Overcome with that her master would stoop to such low tactics, she decided to run away, meeting up with Chen Li Zhang and Peng Song Yue and offering to join forces to help clear their names and restore balance to the 3 Pillars. While the three of them wandered, they met a wandering Xue Wang Long. While at first skeptical, they were all attacked by thungs, presumably sent by Su Xue Lu, and he fought bravely alongside, leading to a friendship between the four of them. Our heroes are now wandering northward, trying to figure out how they can clear their names.

The 3 Pillars of Guilin - Full Game State


Xue Wang Long (薛汪龙) He/Him
Outsider: Wanderer
– Have Sword, Will Travel
– Heroes Shed No Tears
Stats: earth (1) fire (-1) metal (0) water (2) wood (1)
Bonds: Peng Song Yue (1) Xu Lian Yu (1)
Background: From a very young age was apprentinced to his master, Ou Yang Qi. He has few if any memories of his parents, and his master never brought them up. He was always a loyal and dutiful apprentice, though while skilled did not have the immediate genius of his master, which would sometimes lead his master to push him far beyond his limits. Still, the two of them always had a very close bond. If anything led to them having conflict it was not his master’s insistence on cruel or painful training methods – Xue Wang Long wasn’t one to complain about difficult training – but rather in Xue Wang Long’s curiosity about the world. From an early age him and his master went into hiding in some uninhabited areas in modern day Hunan so his master could focus on developing his martial arts. While Xue Wang Long always enjoyed the martial arts, he also dreamed of seeing more of the world. To his bittersweet benefit, he now has his chance.
A few weeks ago, Xue Wang Long returned back to the small cabin he shared with his master to find it scattered with blood. In a panic, Xue Wang Long tried to find his master, only to realize that the chests where he kept his writings were scattered. Most was still there, but his most precious writings – a detailed description of the 10000 Rivers Style, among other martial texts summarizing his lifetime of experience – were not there. His prized barbed chain, Redemption, was also missing. Xue Wang Long fears the worst, but still holds onto hope that his master is still alive. While he had no immediate leads to go off of, his first thought was the 3 Pillars of Guilin, especially his master’s sister Su Xue Lu.
While traveling to the Guilin area to gather information, he ran into Xu Lian Yu, Chen Li Zhang, and Peng Song Yue. While everyone was on edge when they met this strange, chain-laded traveler, when they heard who his master was and his reason for heading to Guilin, they all realized they should combine forces and figure out what was going on. They were then attacked by unidentified thugs; while they were quickly dispatched, they have been on the run ever since, and have continued to become closer and closer as friends.
Description: A short, dark-skinned man with slight, delicate features and a kind smile. He is generally clad in practical, roomy garbs ideal for traveling and fighting. Often drawing more eyes are the chains that seem to be, well, all over him. He wears chains on his wrists, his ankles, his neck, his waist, and has his largest chains strapped like a bandolier on his chest. These chains always seem to create the impression that he is about to rob wherever he enters, but his soft spoken voice and gentle laugh tend to help offset that impression.
–You’ve fallen in love with Wang Lin, but you both fear your friend, Peng Song Yue, will find out
–You want to get closer to Xu Lian Yu as a friend, but fear your master, Ou Yang Qi. wouldn’t approve
Style: 10000 Rivers Style (Water, Chain)
Style Description: A graceful, flowing style focusing on the use of chains to control the battlefield and, of course, one’s opponent. Many in the wulin believe that the chain is a strange weapon only used by evil sects, but his master made it his life’s work to prove this prejudice wrong. After he renounced the petty squabbles of the wulin, he went into hiding with his young apprentice and spent his life developing his chain style, ultimately developing this style, inspired by the beautiful scenery of the place where they were in hiding. A style that emphasizes control over the flow of combat, it is truly a spectacular and deadly spectacle. Generally, masters of this style wield two long chains, each held in the middle. But adepts have also been known to carry around smaller chains (for example, as a belt) just in case, and can make a rope with metal weighs on each side work in a pinch.

Xu Lian Yu (徐怜玉) She/Her
Student: Hopeful Apprentice
– Blade Heart
– The Proud Youth
Stats: earth (1) fire (-1) water (0) metal (1) wood (2)
Bonds: Xue Wang Long (1) Chen Li Zhang (1)
Background: A pupil of the Elephant Trunk Hill Sect. She doesn’t quite know how she ended up as Su Xue Lu’s apprentice. She was always a slight child, and never seemed a good fit for a fist-based style. But Su Xue Lu insisted on training this slight little girl, and turned her into a extremely powerful fighter. Xu Lian Yu always felt a deep sense of gratitude towards her master for having faith in her. As she has gotten older, this combination of gradutide and admiration has turned into something… more, feelings that simultaneously give her joy and intense shame.
She only found out that Lin Xiao Hui was her half-brother recently. She stumbled into proof that he was working against the other clan’s interest and mentioned it to her master. She will never forget her master’s piercing gaze that day. Her master eventually revealed to her that he is Xu Lian Yu’s half-brother, though didn’t explain how these two children ended up in different sects. Her master also revealed that Lin Xiao Hui is working for her, and not to work against their machinations.
A few weeks ago, Xu Lian Yu learned about what happened at the other sects, and that Chen Li Zhang and Peng Song Yue had run away, and were accused of having betrayed their sects. While Xu Lian Yu never knew them well, she found it hard to imagine that they would betray their sects so spectacularly. On the way to her master’s room to find out, she overheard her talking to Lin Xiao Hui and her worst fears were confirmed: her master has set this all into motion. Unable to face the fact that her master, the person she admires, the person she loves, would do something like this, she decided to go on the run and see if she can’t help set things right. She quickly found Chen Li Zhang and Peng Song Yue on the run and offered to join forces. While she doesn’t dare betray her own master, she hopes against hope that she can live up to the code she thought warriors lived by: to stop evil, and protect good.
Description: She has a naturally slight frame woven into the sinewy build of a specialist with the fists. She has angular facial features and has a tendency to come across as simultaneously sincere and severe. She is generally seen in the boring but functional deep red training robes of her sect.
–I’m secretly in love with my master, Su Xue Lu, but am afraid Xue Wang Long will find out!
–I have proof that Lin Xiao Hui is a traitor, but he is my half-brother, so I protect him, hoping Chen Li Zhang doesn’t find out.
Style: Splintered Bamboo Style (Wood, Fists)
Style Description: A fearsome style drawing from the beauty and edge of bamboo. True to it’s wood style, it is a patient style which builds momentum with organic, almost sensual movements, waiting for the perfect moment to explode. This style relies on quick movement, reading ones opponent, and building the advantage until the fighter can land deadly, piercing blows. Su Xue Lu is a true master of this style, and legends have already been told about impossible situations she has fought her way out of. Ou Yang Qi was also a skilled practitioner, though eventually developed his own chain-based 10000 Rivers Style.

Chen Li Zhang (陈丽樟) She/Her
Loyal: Swordsman
– Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber
– A Hero Born
Stats: earth (2) fire (0) water (-1) metal (1) wood (1)
Bonds: Peng Song Yue (1) Xue Wang Long (1)
Background: She is a member of the Karst Hill Sect. From a young age, she has always been much larger than her peers. While a large stature is certainly not necessary to be an excellent martial artist, her combination of strength, grace, and intelligence led her to stand out among her peers from an early age. Despite her love of the martial arts, she also took to the more refined side of becoming a well-rounded martial artist. Growing up she was best known for the endless stream of challengers (usually prideful boys) trying to best her but also was well known for the quality of her calligraphy, for her knowledge of poems, for her astute analysis of history.
From a young age, she and Peng Song Yue have been good friends, with a shared love of the finer things in life. Being from different sects they never had as much time to play together as they like, but given they were both in the 3 Pillars, there were still plenty. She was always the foil to Peng Song Yue’s mischeviousness, though the truth is she always enjoyed having him around to break up the monotony of her studies, even if she largely enjoyed them.
Ultimately, Peng Song Yue’s master and her own saw in their friendship a chance to bring their two sects closer; of course, each seeing different advantages in this: her master seeing a chance to bring stability and strength to his faltering clan, and Peng Song Yue’s master (and father) seeing a chance to potentially take over a clan on the decline. However, Chen Li Zhang and Peng Song Yue simply did not want to get married. Peng Song Yue’s father expected some pushback from his impish son, but expected him to fall in line eventually. But Chen Li Zhang’s master never expected any defiance from his otherwise perfect pupil. Still, the wedding plans continued, despite Chen Li Zhang and Peng Song Yue’s increasing resistance. In this, their masters deeply misunderstood their pupils, who in the end decided to run away. On the night before their wedding they both left letters in their rooms explaining why they were running away, hoping that after a couple of weeks they could come back home and make amends. As she made her way to the rendevouz with Peng Song Yue she happened to chance upon a hooded figure…who was carrying No More Evil!! She immediately engaged this figure in combat but they were stronger than she was…right before this figure could make his escape, Peng Song Yue came onto the scene and together they were able to hold down this powerful martial artist enough that Chen Li Zhang could wound the arm wielding the mace and take it back. The two of them raced back to the Karst Hill Sect to see what happened and return the mace, only to find out that they were accused of having betrayed their sects! Apparently, some crucial objects at the Li River Sect were also stolen. The two pupils tried to explain what happened, but the letters they left had been taken and everyone pointed to No More Evil!. They also said that the person who had stolen the mace was a master in the Stoic Mountain Style. Chen Li Zhang and Peng Song Yue had no choice but to take advantage of a moment of confusion and escape. In the moment of her escape, as other pupils jumped to chase them, she happened to noticed her master’s second in command, Lin Xiao Hui, momentarily nursing the part of his arm which she had wounded the masked figure earlier. While it was just a split second, it was enough…
Now the two of them are on the run, hoping to find a way to clear their names and exposed what happened.
Description: “Mountainous” is the first thing that often comes to mind when someone first meets her. The second is “beautifully dressed.” Her sheer physical presence dominates wherever she is. Between the demands of her training and her love of the finer things in life, she never felt the need to restraine her diet and as such has a large, full-bodied figure–combined with the bulging muscles of a top-notch warrior. Indulging in a touch of fashion over function she enjoys wearing fashionable robes in the light green of her sect–an indulgence her master grudgingly allows his beloved star pupil. Now with the gigantic mace No More Evil! strapped to her back, she cuts a silhouette that radiates complete mastery, power, and refinement. Few dare to approach her, but many secretly wish they would.
–I’m in love with Xue Wang Long, but my best friend Peng Song Yue is too!
–I distrust Xu Lian Yu, but my beloved Xue Wang Long seems fond of her
Style: Stoic Mountain Style (Earth, Mace)
Style Description: The is the style of the immovable earth. A skilled practitioner is as impossible to move as a great mountain, but also has the punch of an avalanche. On the battlefield, this style emphasizes complete control over the area inhabited by the practitioner. There are stories of masters of this style having held bridges, passes, and doorways against innumerable foes and impossible odds.

Peng Song Yue (彭松跃) He/They
Bravo: Favored Eldest
– Come Drink With Me
– Midnight Orchid
Stats: earth (-1) fire (1) water (1) metal (2) wood (0)
Bonds: Xue Wang Long (1) Chen Li Zhang (1)
Background: The Li River Sect has maintained a steady, low profile for a long time, and under savvy leadership has amassed a serious fortune, though they generally try to not be too ostentatious. The sect’s current leader is also Peng Song Yue’s doting father, which explains how he always was able to get away with so much. From the ostentatious clothing to gambling debts to endless pranks, his father has always let his pride and joy get away with far too much. Part of this is because Peng Song Yue is his son, but a larger part-- larger than many realize–is because Peng Song Yue has proven himself a martial genius. He figured out early on that having others constantly underestimate him was a huge advantage, so he always played up his troublemaking to hide the fact that he quickly established himself as the sects most powerful pupil.
From an early age he found friendship with Chen Li Zhang. While his first inclination was to prank her, there was something in her earnestness that ultimately won him over, so instead he focused on pranking all of the apprentices who were jealous of the two of them. His father saw her as a good influence on him, while Chen Li Zhang’s master thought this friendship could pave the way to closer relationships between the clans-- perhaps even a marriage binding the two of them together.
Despite their close friendship, he never had any chemistry with Chen Li Zhang, and generally found himself more interested in the cute men he saw when he would sneak off into town. Still, it wasn’t easy for him to make the decision to leave home–for all his bluster, he still loves his father and his sect, making it that much harder to see everyone say, “of course that ne’er-do-well would betray his sect…” He has no clue who in the sect is involved in setting him up, but he is determined to work with his friends to find out.
Description: Of average height and a slightly stocky build, he also has gone bald early, which leads some to assume he is some sort of debauched monk, though he sports a very large, intricately maintained beared. He wears the finest silks he can afford, and sometimes gambles for those he cannot. He prefers a light purple, despite not being the color of his sect. While his build is not particularly imposing, he has an air of complete self-assurance and control. If his close friend Chen Li Zhang dominates any room she is in, Peng Song Yue radiates a sense that he owns any room he is in.
–I’m in love with Xue Wang Long, but my best friend Chen Li Zhang is too!
–I believe that Lin Xiao Hui is a traitor, but Chen Li Zhang doesn’t believe me
Style: Three Card Monty Style (Metal, Concealed Weapons)
Style Description: Playful name aside, this a cruel and vicious style. Concealed weapons are, ultimately, about getting the jump on your opponent by whatever means, and this style represents the apotheosis of this deadly logic. Practioners of this style generally do not appear to be carrying any weapons, but can strike a deadly blow with any of a number of implements on their body, from hair pins to belts to tabacco pipes. While he generally keeps many concealed weapons on him, he particularly enjoys fighting with pins that he keeps in his large beard.

The NPCs

Wang Lin (王凛) He/Him
Background: Peng Song Yue’s personal valet and close friend. He is also an able martial artist in his own right, though doesn’t like to make a show of it. He never has obvious weapons, but is a master of concealed weapons. He has a long tobacco pipe that he seems to always be smoking from that, in a pinch, anyone dumb enough to seriously threaten Peng Song Yue.
Wang Lin’s father did business with the Li River Sect and ended up owing them a substantial debt which he couldn’t pay. Ultimately, his father and Peng Song Yue decided that Wang Lin would enter the sect as an apprentice and receive normal treatment, but that he would eventually serve as Peng Song Yue’s valet. Peng Song Yue initially found his presence chafing, but they eventually developed a close bond. 王凛 is generally quiet and just rolls his eyes and goes along with Peng Song Yue’s mischief, seeing his job primarily as ensuring his safety.
Wang Lin didn’t hesitate to try and find Peng Song Yue when he ran away. In fact, it was he who created the diversion at the Karst Hill Sect which allowed Peng Song Yue and Chen Li Zhang to escape. His loyalty is to Peng Song Yue. Still, as he has gotten older, and especially with all of this drama, he has started to stpe out of Peng Song Yue’s shadow more and more.
Description: A short and pudgy man generally dressed in simple clothing, which next to the luxirious Peng Song Yue can look particularly homely, though in fact he has handsome features with a large, defined jaw and piercing eyes. His prized posession is a long golden tobacco pipe that he seems to always be smoking. In a pinch, it is also his most deadly posession.

Ou Yang Qi (欧阳祁) He/Him
Background: Xue Wang Long’s master, believed to be dead. He is Su Xue Lu’s brother and they grew up learning martial arts together, both quickly establishing them as martial geniuses. He never had his sister’s ambition, and ultimately left wulin entirely to develop his own chain-based style, the 10000 Rivers Style.
Description: A tall, well-built man with a wild head of grey hair and an scraggly beard–but not unclean. He wears simple clothes made from basic, utilitarian fabrics.

Su Xue Lu (苏雪璐) She/Her
Background: Xu Lian Yu’s master, and the powerful and ambitious leader of the Elephant Trunk Hill Sect. Also Ou Yang Qi’s sister. She established herself early on as an extremely powerful fighter, and quickly rose up the ranks in her sect, assuming control when the leader of the sect died unexpectedly. Since, she has successfuly worked hard to expand the sect’s influence and reputation. While quick to decisive violence, she understands that honey makes more friends than vinegar and has tried to make it so that as many powerful people have benefitted from her rise to power as possible.
Description: A short, dark-skinned woman built like a powerful spring. She wears simple, deep red robes, far less ostentatious than many leaders of sects less powerful than her’s, though her robes are made of silk to rival Peng Song Yue’s. Contrary to many’s expectations, she is quite charismatic and cheerful, though capable of deeply unsettling gazes.

Lin Xiao Hui (蔺骁辉) He/Him
Background: Xu Lian Yu’s secret half brother, he is currently second command of the Karst Hill Sect. He is a very able martial artist and largely expected to take over the sect at some point in the future. Behind the scenes he is loyal to Su Xue Lu.
Description: Average height, but particularly stout. He favors simple light green robes and generally maintains a fairly neutral affect, focusing on finishing tasks efficiently. He has a bit of a twitch, though, and his eyes tend to wander a lot, and he often picks and fidgets as a bit of a tick.

The Factions

Elephant Trunk Hill Sect
One of the 3 Pillars of Guilin. Ou Yang Qi was a star pupil until he decided to strike it on his own. Under Su Xue Lu’s leadership has gone from the weakest of the 3 Pillars to the strongest. Generally favors a deep red color scheme.
Notable Members:
–Su Xue Lu: leader
–Xu Lian Yu: Star pupil

Karst Hill Sect
One of the 3 Pillars of Guilin. Of the 3 Pillars, is currently the weakest, having been in slow decline for a long time. With No More Evil! having recently been stolen, there is discussion of whether. Generally favors a light green color scheme.
Notable Members:
–Lin Xiao Hui: Second in command
–Chen Li Zhang: Star pupil

Li River Sect
One of the 3 Pillars of Guilin. Has been a private but stable sect for a long time. The sect is generally hesitant to get involved in more obvious jockeying for status, and has instead relied on clever backroom dealmaking to stay powerful while trying to minimize enemies. But now that their star pupil—who is also sect leader’s child—has disappeared, they will be forced to act. Generally favors a mixed black and white color scheme.
Notable Members:
–Peng Song Yue: Star pupil


No More Evil!
The prized weapon of the Karst Hill Sect, it is a Chinese-style mace believed to have been forged from the metal and stone of a meteorite. It is strong enough to crack swords in half and has ensured that the sect has remained powerful and respected in the wulin. It is currently held by Chen Li Zhang, who is (wrongly!) believed to have stolen it.
Ou Yang Qi’s immaculate barbed chain. He worked with a master blacksmith (who owed him a life debt) to forge it from a special black metal alloy. It is covered with razor sharp barbs that make it extremely hard to use – but also extremely deadly.


The 3 Pillars of Guilin - Session 1: On The Run

DM: It’s been about a month since your lives were all uprooted and you went on the run. The group currently consists of Xue Wang Long, Xu Lian Yu, Chen Li Zhang, Peng Song Yue, and Peng Song Yue’s faithful valet Wang Lin. It was a few weeks ago that a group of thugs attacked you, right after you met Xue Wang Long. Since then the road has been quiet as you’ve made your way to…well, where are you headed? Let’s start setting the scene. Also, let me know which entangleent you want to highlight.

Xue Wang Long: Xue Wang Long still has hope that his master is alive, even if it’s just a narrow thread of hope. He hopes that by creating some distance from the 3 Pillars that will create some space to investigate in peace. Also, he spent most of his life in the rivers and mountains in the areas north of the 3 Pillars, so he feels comfortable leading them through this area filled with winding rivers.

Xu Lian Yu: Xu Lian Yu likes that plan, though she is not at ease. It’s not just that she has left her master, whom despite everything she misses dearly, but that…well, that this has all been to easy. Some weak thugs? That’s it? It seems supsicious.

Chen Li Zhang: Chen Li Zhang doesn’t have an idea of a better plan. She’s on high alert, though to be honest that’s as much because this is her first time so far from home as it is because they’re being chased. She’s gotten into mischief and snuck off with Peng Song Yue in the past, heck they did that for their wedding, but this is different. She simply doesn’t know what to do, but when she thinks about the fact that they all think she’s a traitor she just wants to take her mace to a boulder (which she has definitely been doing).

Peng Song Yue: Peng Song Yue is definitely on edge, but he’s trying hard to put on a cool air. And despite himself, he is excited. He’s gone on excursions before, but this is a chance to see new places…still, his focus is on figuring out what happened. He’s focused on his romantic entanglement.

Xue Wang Long highlights the general entanglement for this session.
Xu Lian Yu highlights the romantic entanglement for this session.
Chen Li Zhang highlights the romantic entanglement for this session.
Peng Song Yue highlights the romantic entanglement for this session.

DM: Ok, great, that let’s me know how everyone is feeling. But how about someone describe where you are right now? And it sounds like everyone is happy to follow Xue Wang Long’s lead – but where are you leading everyone?

Xue Wang Long: It’s a beautiful area, frankly. If everyone wasn’t so on edge it’d be the sort of place they would want to spend some time appreciating. There’s a large, winding river, banked on either side by ranges of small mountains. It’s fall, so it’s not too hot and it doesn’t rain too much – just enough so that the foliage maintains a lush green. As far as what to do…Xue Wang Long appreciates everyone’s trust in him, and wishes he was so confident.
I think it’s reasonable that when Xue Wang Long and his master were training here they would have ocassionally had to visit a town to get supplies and whatnot. Once he was old enough, Xue Wang Long certainly would have been responsible for this sort of thing–there’s no way his master would have been into that, if he could avoid it! So I imagine I’d know this town really well, might know some innkeepers, and most importantly, would know if anyone isn’t from around there. I think we should head there and regroup. We can try and gather some information.

DM: You don’t have to convince me, you have to convince them smiles

everyone nods

DM: Y’all have spent a lot of time on the road. I’m happy to fast forward to town (assuming no ambushes laughs), but let’s play out a scene…let’s say it’s night, y’all have made camp. This is a chance to talk to each other.

Chen Li Zhang: Chen Li Zhang definitely wants to chat with Xue Wang Long.

Peng Song Yue: Damn! You beat Peng Song Yue to it!

DM: Oh? Do you want to do something about that?

Peng Song Yue: Actually…yeah! I think this would represent a Inner Conflict for Peng Song Yue. After all, they’ve been on the road for a while.

DM: Ok, we can resolve those two scenes in a moment, perhaps starting with their conversation, which will perhaps stand as a dramatic backdrop to your turmoil. Xu Lian Yu, do you have anything you’d like to do?

Xu Lian Yu: I want to wait and see how the above unfold first

DM: ‘So Chen Li Zhang wants to chat with Xue Wang Long…set the scene. Perhaps we can start Xue Wang Long explaining’) what he is up to?

Xue Wang Long: After eating little for dinner, Xue Wang Long finds a little space near camp and starts doing some maintenance on his chains. This is a really humid area–chain maintenance is important!

Chen Li Zhang: Rations have definitely been scarce on the road. A trained martial artist is used to this sort of depravation, but it still adds to Chen Li Zhang’s unease. When she sees Xue Wang Long go to maintain his chains, she sees an opportunity. She gathers her courage and walks over, try hard to project confidence and grace instead of the anxiety knotting in her stomach. “Hey,” she says uh…stoically?

Xue Wang Long: Xue Wang Long is a little surprise to see Chen Li Zhang come over, but only a little. They’ve all been on the road for a while now, though he does glance for a moment in the direction of Wang Lin… “Hey,” he replies. His tone is not unkind, though it’s clear he’s putting a fair amount of attention into his task. He removes a chain from a part of his body, lays it on a cloth, takes out some oil, cleans it, and massages the area where the chains were put. It’s very practices, so it’s more a medativative concentration rather than anything difficult.

Chen Li Zhang: “Chains…you know, I’ve only seen you fight the once, but it was…beautiful. Growing up, they always said that chains were…for unorthodox sects. For weirdos. But when I saw you fight…I knew that couldn’t be the case. It was…beautiful.”

Xue Wang Long: He laughs. "I don’t dare, I don’t dare. Beautiful…hard to say. The chains can kill, but my master knew they could also protect. Whether or not they’re just for the unorthodox weirdos… Well, I just know that my master got tired of having to label everything “good” or “bad,” “orthodox” and “unorthodox.”

Chen Li Zhang: A little blood goes to her face. This is not as easy as she had hoped. He’s so close, but what should she say? She goes with what she has wanted since she saw him fight. “Would you…would you train with me? I’d love to fight you.” This is a new one. Usually it is the boys challening her. She musters up an awkward smile.

Xue Wang Long: This is definitely not not what he expected! He gives her a long but not unkind smile. He picks up the chain currently in front of him, one of the two long chains he wears strapped like bandoliers. “This chain is called Mistake. It was a gift from my master.” He hops up suddenly, grabbing the chain in two parts, smiling broadly. “It’s been a long time since I’ve fought for fun. If you can make me use another chain than this one, you can consider yourself the winner!” With that he flies forward at Chen Li Zhang, a broad smile on his face. Mistake comes alive, as if it was made of a bunch of snakes tied together.

DM: Ah! A fight! But this is a fun one between friends. If either of you get angry or want to change the tenor of the fight then we can consider dice rolls or something, but for now I think this is just some good natured sparring between friends. Feel free to describe the scene liberally, and be generous to your partner! And Peng Song Yue, we haven’t forgotten about you. You’re up soon.

Chen Li Zhang: She has a puzzled look on her face, but years of martial training take over. Before she’s able to process that she’s gotten what she wanted her legs bend backwards, her torso almost touching the ground as she ducks under Peng Song Yue’s chain. His chains are…alive?! She smiles broadly, a competitive glint in her eye. She grabs No More Evil! with her right hand, and pushes off the ground with her left, spinning into the air. As the chain is moments away from striking her she hits it directly with No More Evil!. “You’ll regret you said that!” The chain wraps starts wrapping itself around No More Evil! and she pulls, her muscles bulging against her fine silks. She uses the rotation of her body and her left hand to fling off her outer silks, which land in a neat pile near camp.

Xue Wang Long: She’s not wrong–Xue Wang Long would love to have access to the rest of his chains. But this isn’t the first time he’s fought against a bruiser. “The bolder blocks the river / The river makes pebbles!” he shouts as he goes into the practiced motions of a form from the 10000 Rivers Style. Instead of resisting her pull against his chain, he let’s his momentum be drawn into it, whipping his feet to face her and the other chain launches itself at her. So now there are two attacks: him flying in on the first half of the chain, and the chain on the other end.

Chen Li Zhang: Hearing his form, she laughs with delight. Seeing his feet coming in from the left and the chain coming in from the right, No More Evil! still wrapped in chains, she quickly changes her stance. “The mountain is not bare / The spruce survives the winter!” She makes no movement to dodge, instead broadening her stance and sinking in. As the long chain wrapping itself around her mace whips around she strikes with the speed of a snake and grabs it out from the air. It resists her, as if alive, but she quickly brings it down and uses it to receive Xue Wang Long’s flying kick. As the other side of the chain comes in, she grunts, straining every muscle in her body, and swings No More Evil! into the new chain, which also starts wrapping itself around her. She pulls hard at the chain she had grabbed right as Xue Wang Long connects and tries to fling him backwards, like shooting him from a slingshot. Once the second half of the chain has started wrapping itself around the mace, she redoubles her exertion and pulls, very hard, trying to whip the chains out of his hands.

DM: Exciting! Let’s say that the two of you keep sparring. It seems like there are no heated reactions or escalations, it seems?

they both nod

DM: Great, then let’s cut to Peng Song Yue! And then Xu Lian Yu, if you want to act you can.

Peng Song Yue takes move Inner Conflict with element earth: Result 9 (10-1)
On a 7-9: you must either flee the scene or mark an Element (choice) to keep yourself steady. +1 xp. Chooses to flee the scene.

Peng Song Yue: He has seen her Chen Li Zhang fight a million times, and he’s sparred with her a million more. But this is…different. He wants to be happy for his friend, but he can’t get over the fact of who she is sparring with. Xue Wang Long! They aren’t sparring, they’re…they’re dancing! The intimacy of it is too much for him, he knows Chen Li Zhang too well, he knows exactly what this means even if Xue Wang Long doesn’t. Why couldn’t this be him? Why was he so pathetic? He barks at Wang Lin, “stay here!” A surprised Wang Lin just stares back at him blankly as he makes a big show of standing up and jumping into the distance. He has excellent lightness technique, so he chooses to go for a run among the finger mountains in the area, making quick work from peak to peak. Wang Lin of course is following him, but he’s polite enough to hide himself. Peng Song Yue indulges his basest and most shameful emotions. Would they even be here if it wasn’t for Chen Li Zhang? If he had never met her, if he had never befriended that stupid lug, they wouldn’t even be here, he’d be at home in the sect where he belongs. They wouldn’t think he was a traitor! But then…then they wouldn’t have met Xue Wang Long." He scrunches his face and stops on the peak of one of the finger mountes and screams into the air. “How could Xue Wang Long not notice me? How could he fight her! Like that!” He engages in a practice exercise his master had put him through since he was a child. At the time it was torture, but now, martial expert that he is, it’s almost relaxing. He rubs his hands through his beard and then throws his hand into the air, quick as lightning. A handfull of razor sharp needles go screaming into the night sky. He closes his eyes and launches himself in one direction, then quickly into another, another, another, plucking at the air. A few moments later, he sits on the top of the same mountain, needles in his hand as he idly plays with them, juggling with them. He sighs. “Chen Li Zhang did what I was too afraid to do. I always make fun of her for being too stodgy, but this time she went with her blood while I stood off in the shadows.” Wang Lin observes from the shadows.

DM: Excellent. Xu Lian Yu, what are you feeling?

Xu Lian Yu: Hm, I think Xu Lian Yu isn’t feeling the melodrama at the moment. She certainly has noted what has happened, but I think her head is in the events of the last month…where is her master? Why did her master send thugs that she knew they’d be able to easily dispatch? What should they do next? So Xu Lian Yu is going to mull over the events and see if she can’t think of a new angle.

DM: Great! Hm, I think that sounds like a Study to me.

Xu Lian Yu: Ah, perfect. I’ll go with earth, given the setting, Xu Lian Yu is thinking of the hills and rivers around them.

Xu Lian Yu takes move Study with element earth: Result 9 (8+1)
On a 7-9: You gain basic information. You get 1 hold. Spend Hold 1 for the following
– Ask a question about a situation or place (escape routes, hidden details, threats, dangers, etc
– Ask a question about a person (motivation, desires, intentions, means of manipulation, etc)
– Ask any other question
– Learn a person’s scale (below, on your level, or above)
– Reveal a detail–declare something which changes or adds to the fiction significantly

Xu Lian Yu: Hmm, I think I’m going to reveal a detail.

DM: Interesting! Remember, you have a lot of lattitude to change the game here. What are you thinking? Perhaps you can show us the thought process which leads Xu Lian Yu to her revelation.

Xu Lian Yu: As she has been analyzing the events of that night, the actions of her master, it’s been impossible not to think further back…to think about her life, growing up. To think about all of the twists and turns which got her here. She still remembers when her master took her as a disciple. Her! She was weak and not particularly smart…why her? She has worked very hard not to betray her master’s faith… But still. Something doesn’t fit. She listens to the flowing of the river, to the wind against the trees and the mountains and she accepts what she has long suspected: Su Xue Lu is either her’s or Lin Xiao Hui’s mother. Nothing else makes sense. But…who was the father? And which one of them is her’s? Her head swirls with unanswered questions.

DM: Wow, the woman she loves might also be her mother! That sounds like it could be pretty conflicting!

Xu Lian Yu: Absolutely. I want to lean into that and roll Inner Conflict if I can. I think water, as this thought makes her feel really loney. What if her mother was there the whole time but she didn’t know? Or at the very least, she grew up without realizing she had a half-brother. It would have made the long years of training that much more bearable.

Xu Lian Yu takes move Inner Conflict with element water: Result 4 (4+0)
On a miss: the GM makes things much worse. +1 xp.

DM: Hmm, so while you’ve been thinking about all of this I think you’ve been getting more and more worked up about it. I mean, you may be in love with your mother, after all! Who has hidden her existence, and that of your half-brother! You’ve known for a month, but you’ve only now sat down to really think about it, and it’s tearing at you, you’re obsessing over it. You are mumbling to yourself “She can’t be my mother! She can’t! She can’t be my mother! My master can’t be my mother!” when Chen Li Zhang and Xue Wang Long come back from their sparring, both in high spirits. They overhear you and immediately know who you’re talking about, and what it could mean. It stops them both in their tracks.

Chen Li Zhang: The smile that was on her face but a moment before disappears, and a grim look of pure hatred appears as she barks angrily at the visibly upset Xu Lian Yu. “You…you are her daughter! How could you hide this from us! You’re her spy! Don’t bother saying anything more–No More Evil! will do all the talking!” With that, she springs forward, mace in hand, ready to crush Xu Lian Yu in strong blow.

DM: Woah! Ok, do you want to make this a duel?

Chen Li Zhang: No, not yet I don’t think. I think I’m happy to leave this in the realm of narrative for the moment.

DM: Xu Lian Yu, Xue Wang Long, what about y’all?

Xue Wang Long: Xue Wang Long is extremely conflicted. Maybe he will act more, maybe he won’t, but first he has to process this news. It’s really hard for him to handle. He really hasn’t been out in the world very much, and he’s never had any friends before. He likes this group a lot, even if he hates the reason why they met. And in particular he really wanted to get closer to Xu Lian Yu. He could accept that she was Su Xue Lu’s pupil, but also her daughter…It’s too much for him. He just keeps going over the thought in his head.

Xue Wang Long takes move Inner Conflict with element earth: Result 5 (4+1)
On a miss: the GM makes things much worse. +1 xp.

DM: The Inner Conflict is not being easy on you two! Ok, well, Xu Lian Yu I want your thoughts on whether you think this is too far, but I like the idea that when you were overheard mumbling about your mother, you were also mumbling that Lin Xiao Hui is your brother. But! You were misunderstood. All that 薛汪龙 overheard was “Lin”, which has led him to mistakenly think you mean Wang Lin is your half-brother.

Xu Lian Yu: Tough day for Xu Lian Yu! But I think this is good. This was going to be an issue eventually-- I just didn’t think it would be an issue today!

DM: Xue Wang Long is obviously extremely upset, and I think there’s a good chance he’ll want to do something with this new information. How about you give us some insight into what’s going on in his head, but let’s put the spotlight on the others for a bit. Peng Song Yue, you should also think about whether or not you (or Wang Lin want to try and join the scene.

Xue Wang Long: He is in shock. He falls to his knees, and idly throws a small chain in the direction of 徐怜玉. I’m thinking that the chain wraps itself around her, to restrain her?

Xu Lian Yu: Hmm, I like the general idea, but I don’t think a proud, trained fighter like her would just sit down and let you restrain her like that. I think she’d fight back.

DM: Do you want to make this a duel?

Xue Wang Long: No, I think it’s just something he’d try to do, but makes sense if she wouldn’t back down so easily. I’ll leave the response in her hands.

Peng Song Yue: I have an idea, if y’all will give me a chance.

everyone nods

Peng Song Yue: Well, we still haven’t really acknowledged the fact that Chen Li Zhang is charging! Here’s how Peng Song Yue enters the scene. First, I imagine that Xu Lian Yu doesn’t make a move to fight Xue Wang Long, but catches the chain and uses the momentum to throw it back at them. Seem ok?

Xu Lian Yu: I think she might have sent it at Chen Li Zhang instead, honestly! But I am willing to go with this.

Peng Song Yue: When Chen Li Zhang is but a few steps away suddenly her face shifts and she brings her giant mace around, seemingly striking at the air. As she brings it around she also twists her wrist, making it spin in a large circle. Initially it’s puzzling why she is doing this but a split second later the others can hear a rapid success of popping noises, the sound of metal on stone. Pop pop pop! Chen Li Zhang looks completely confused. She turns her angry face to the sky. “Why???” At that I land in between Chen Li Zhang, Xue Wang Long and Xu Lian Yu. “Honored sister, you know how much I respect you. How about you and Xue Wang Long fill me in on what’s happened?” They give Xue Wang Long a very quick, vulnerable look, thinking of the sparring session that he just had, but regains their composure immediately. Wang Lin is in the shadows, watching.

Chen Li Zhang: She turns to her friend and thought her face is still full of rage, she relaxes her stance, dropped her mace to her side, though in a practiced stance that could become violent in a split second–something that Peng Song Yue would certainly be able to see. “I told you from the start that this Xu Lian Yu was no good! It’s clear that her master is evil. How can we trust her? But you said we have no proof. But just now, she herself admitted that her master is her mother! Are you telling me you want me to let her go? After what happened to us? I bet her head on a plate would go a long way to clearing our names!”

Peng Song Yue: They look visibly shaken as they hear their close friend tell them this. They look at Xu Lian Yu coldly for a long moment, then look at Xue Wang Long. “What do you think? She’s the daughter of the woman that likely killed your master?”

Xue Wang Long: He winces at the mention of his master’s likely death, but maintains his composure. “There’s a detail that Chen Li Zhang didn’t mention…which is that Xu Lian Yu also said that she has a half brother…Wang Lin.”

Peng Song Yue: They are extremely shocked at this. “W…what? That’s impossible!” They look at Wang Lin. “That’s impossible, right? I’ve met your father!” The always calm just puffs awaay at his long, golden tabacco pipe. His eyes narrow in on Xu Lian Yu. “It’s true that I never knew my mother.” He takes a long drag while everyone gasps. “But Su Xue Lu is not my mother. That’s impossible. So tell us would you spread these lies. I’ll give you one last chance before I kill you myself.” Their face doesn’t betray the cold cruelty of their words. Peng Song Yue looks at their friend with a melancholoy in their face. They know their friend wishes more than anything that he could have met his mother.

Xu Lian Yu: She is using all of her concentration to try and maintain composure, focusing on the fact that there are 4 people surrounding her, all her martial equal. Focusing on this helps her not dwell on the fact that these people were supposed to be her friends, and now everything has unravelled quickly. But despite the threat of violence and death, she can’t help but think about it. How could it have gone like this! It’s true that she was hiding secrets…but she’s sure they all have secrets of their own. She chose to join them! She didn’t have to. She came on her own. Why go through all the trouble? How dare they! The Wang Lin lie though…on the one hand, it’s the perfect way to create cover for Lin Xiao Hui, but on the other hand, what kind of dishonerable dog would she be? Lying about one to protect another, especially when that other is likely a traitor to his sect? But she has always wanted a brother, and what kind of person would she be to turn her back on her family? Friends are everything, but family… family is life itself. As someone who grew up with no family, she understands the value of family more than anything.

DM: Sounds like an inner conflict!

Xu Lian Yu: Yeah, absolutely.

Xu Lian Yu takes move Inner Conflict with element metal: Result 6 (5+1)
On a miss: the GM makes things much worse. +1 xp.

DM: A rough day for the entanglements! So, I think a fair way for this to go down is…that she tells the truth. Or at least her truth. Assuming you don’t have a huge objection to this, how about you roleplay this? The conflict and the process of telling the truth and betraying her master, who she loves, and her half-brother, who she wants to protect.

Xu Lian Yu: Ah, yeah, that’s definitely going to be hard! Xu Lian Yu strains under the stress of the situation. There are too many people placing demands on her…a mother she only knew as a master, a half-brother she only knows as a scoundrel. But the people in front of her…these feel like her real friends, her real family. So she drops to her knees and grits her face, a stream of tears staining her face and falling to the ground. “Wang Lin isn’t my brother. You…you misheard. And I let you mishear. But that’s not the truth. Let me…just let me explain what I know.” She grits her face. The words that follow will make her a traitor as well. Betraying one family for the chance at another. What kind of hero is she? Values she’s spent her whole life studying, training, living, all abandoned in an instant of hurt and passion. “I’m not a traitor. I’m not a spy. The traitor is my half-brother…Lin Xiao Hui.”

Chen Li Zhang: A look of complete shock is on her face.

Xu Lian Yu: But I didn’t know any of this until that night. I knew that my master was…was up to something, I always suspected. Our sect’s luck was too good–nobody’s luck is ever so good. And other sect’s luck was too bad–nobody’s luck is every so bad. But she was my master…still, as things got more serious, I confronted her months ago, when she told me that Lin Xiao Hui was my half-brother, and that he was working with her. She swore me to secrecy"–She laughs bitterly–“and told me not to get in her way. But that night when I found out that you two had been branded traitors…I couldn’t believe it. I went to confront her and outside of her room I overheard her and Lin Xiao Hui discussing their plans. It was clear that they had taken advantage of this situation to frame the both of you, weakening your sects so that they can eventually take over and unite the 3 Pillars under one sect’s control. And that’s when I decided to run away. And piecing everything together…I just, I know in my bones that she must be either my mother”–she twists her face inscrutable–“or his. I don’t know whose. But it’s the only thing that makes sense…not matter how much I don’t want it to be true. I’ve always wanted to know my mother. I’ve always wanted a family. But not…not like this…” She stops talking and just stares at the ground, eventually standing up and patting the dust off of her robes.

Chen Li Zhang: She is in absolute shock. Lin Xiao Hui…is…your brother? It was a terrible thought, but it would explain what she sad that night…him nursing his arm…she doesn’t want to believe it, but she knows that that, at least, is true. She was never close to him, never particularly liked him, but still… But her distrust of Xu Lian Yu still has the upper hand. “How can we trust you?”

Xu Lian Yu: “Whether you believe me or not is none of my business! I am a hero, and I will die like one. I know I can’t take you all, but let’s see how many of you I can kill before you finish me off!” She drops her stance, the despair in her face disappearing and a cold resolve taking its place.

Xue Wang Long: He has listened quietly the whole time. He’s still unsure what rammifications this has for him and his master, but it feels significant. He just doesn’t know how, or why. “I believe you.” Perhaps the others look at me in puzzlement. "I don’t think she is lying. I can’t explain why but I think…I think this all has to do with my master, and why he left. I can’t prove anything yet but…but…it feels true.

Chen Li Zhang: That certainly stops Chen Li Zhang in her tracks. This is not what she expected to hear.

Peng Song Yue: Not them either. “So…what do you think we should do?” he ventures.

Xu Lian Yu: Tears burn her cheeks, but they’re different sorts of tears. Maybe she hadn’t made the wrong choice. But she knows the reckoning for her betrayal of her family is still to come.

Xue Wang Long: “I don’t know,” he responds and sighs.

DM: A this point, you all hear an unexpected voice–Wang Lin’s. “I have an idea. I think she’s telling the truth. But how about a little…insurance.” His face is not cruel, but it is not kind. He keeps puffing.

Chen Li Zhang: “Insurance? What do you have in mind?”

DM: “I have a poison on me…” at this he takes out a vial. “It has no immediate negative effects, but in a month, you will die.” He takes out two more vials. He shakes one. “If you take this, you live another month. If you take this, the poison disappears completely.” He takes out a round pill from the first vial and throws it high into the air. He looks at Xu Lian Yu. “What do you say?”

Xu Lian Yu: She has resolve in her eyes. In a moment the pill falls and she catches it in her mouth, not breaking eye contact with Wang Lin. “I understand why you don’t trust me, but I will show you all that I am 10 times the warrior you think I am. I will not be defined by my master, my brother, by anything but the person that I am.” At this she jumps to the side towards a large boulder near the group. Chen Li Zhang starts to move, but Peng Song Yue nods his head in reaswsurance. Xu Lian Yu lands next to the boulder and raises her hand straight in to the hair, waiting a split moment before bring it down in a chopping motion on the boulder. The boulder explodes. She stares at her companions. “I will not be underestimated.” Proud tears stream down her space.

DM: Amazing. Does anyone else have anything they’d like to do before we resolve the scene and fast forward to the town that Xue Wang Long has been leading you to?

everyone shakes their head

DM: Xue Wang Long, how about you take us to this town? What kind of town is it? What is it called? We will wrap up this session with the crew on the outskirts of time.

Xue Wang Long: The town of River’s Bend is located, predictably, in a particularly wide bend of the large river which snakes across the landscape here. While this area is relatively remote, the convenient positioning on the river has turned it into a lively place for trade–and information. The relatively large amounts of money flowing through the town due to trade have lead to a tension between law and lawlessness. Various sects and gangs have always wanted to get control, but the citizens have enough money to pay the right people to maintain order where they can (vice flourishes, but the locals ensure it doesn’t get out of hand). Still, it’s a long way from Guilin and the 3 Pillars. While they’ve tried to make moves here before, the distance coupled with well-heeled locals has made it difficult. Thus, it’s an ideal place for the gang to try and regroup. Xue Wang Long knows the area well and hopes he can leverage this to try and nagivate the powerful locals-- while avoiding the 3 pillars.

DM: Great. Let’s end the session here and call it a short session. It was a little short, but we got a fair mount of interaction with your entanglements. Next session we will want to revisit some of your entanglements–the dramatic reveals near the end of the session will likely lead to at least Xu Lian Yu reconsidering some entanglements.


Game session is over! Some housekeeping…

Xue Wang Long receives 2 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with (general) entanglement, general was higlighted.
Xu Lian Yu receives 3 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with (romantic, general) entanglement, romantic was higlighted.
Chen Li Zhang receives 3 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with (romantic, general) entanglement, romantic was higlighted.
Peng Song Yue receives 2 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with (romantic) entanglement, romantic was higlighted.

Xue Wang Long (Outsider: Wanderer) (XP: 3) Style: 10000 Rivers Style (water)
Stats: earth (1) fire (-1) metal (0) water (2) wood (1)
Moves: Have Sword, Will Travel; Heroes Shed No Tears
–romantic: You’ve fallen in love with Wang Lin, but you both fear your friend, Peng Song Yue, will find out
–general: You want to get closer to Xu Lian Yu as a friend, but fear your master, Ou Yang Qi. wouldn’t approve
Bonds: Peng Song Yue: 1; Xu Lian Yu: 1

Xu Lian Yu (Student: Hopeful Apprentice) (XP: 5) Style: Splintered Bamboo Style (wood)
Stats: earth (1) fire (-1) water (0) metal (1) wood (2)
Moves: Blade Heart; The Proud Youth
–romantic: I’m secretly in love with my master, Su Xue Lu, but am afraid Xue Wang Long will find out!
–general: I have proof that Lin Xiao Hui is a traitor, but he is my half-brother, so I protect him, hoping Chen Li Zhang doesn’t find out.
Bonds: Xue Wang Long: 1; Chen Li Zhang: 1

Chen Li Zhang (Loyal: Swordsman) (XP: 3) Style: Stoic Mountain Style (earth)
Stats: earth (2) fire (0) water (-1) metal (1) wood (1)
Moves: Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber; A Hero Born
–romantic: I’m in love with Xue Wang Long, but my best friend Peng Song Yue is too!
–general: I distrust Xu Lian Yu, but my beloved Xue Wang Long seems fond of her
Bonds: Peng Song Yue: 1; Xue Wang Long: 1

Peng Song Yue (Bravo: Favored Eldest) (XP: 3) Style: Three Card Monty Style (metal)
Stats: earth (-1) fire (1) water (1) metal (2) wood (0)
Moves: Come Drink With Me; Midnight Orchid
–romantic: I’m in love with Xue Wang Long, but my best friend Chen Li Zhang is too!
–general: I believe that Lin Xiao Hui is a traitor, but Chen Li Zhang doesn’t believe me
Bonds: Xue Wang Long: 1; Chen Li Zhang: 1


Ok, so, some thoughts thus far. I tried to approach this like someone playing a TTRPG rather than someone writing a story. So I have a world, some characters, some possible hooks and story directions…then tried to just let the game and the rules take over. I feel this part worked pretty well, though obviously not too much has happened. I’m also well aware that because I’m the one writing things, it was much easier to come up with a “coherent” set of backgrounds, which I suppose leaned a bit more onto the “writing a story” side of things versus the TTRPG side of things. These days with TTRPGs I like it when it’s emphasized that the PCs need to start with a reason to be together, vs the “you see someone with a PC-like glow” of many D&D games I’ve been in.

I think the thing I struggled with the most was when and how to use movements. I ended up using a fair number of Inner Conflict moves…which maybe is to be expected in Hearts of Wulin? But I think this is hard to calibrate because in person play has the pacing demands of a group of people, whereas I did not. So I mainly tried to go with the logic of “does the action they’re taking line up with X move,” letting the roleplay drive the moves, even if that ended up with a flurry of Inner Conflicts.

A reflection on Inner Conflict: it seems like it is geared to radically change the game. A miss, by its nature, seems to be quite serious. This is not bad! I actually thought it was interesting, and pushed things in a direction I didn’t expect really. Which I think is good! Though I think calibrating how hard or soft to go with a miss is tricky! I think I ended up going fairly hard, and I guess that’s because I don’t have players I can really piss off. Playing with yourself is the ultimate “yes, and.”

Beyond that, was unsure how much to edit. I tried to treat it like a group of people playing…and thus, didn’t like, try to say edit things to make the session fit some better narrative framework etc like one might do with a book. Instead I just let it go however it went.

If you read this far, I deeply appreciate. BTW if you have any formatting suggestions, it’s very easy for me to alter and regenerate, so anything that would help readability please let me know. If you enjoyed it and would read more sessions, let me know. Stuff like this can sometimes feel like shouting into the void!


This is amazing!

On the question of timezones we have a small but enthusiastic group of players in SE Asia/Australia who probably overlap to some extent with your timezone.

I’d be happy to nudge them in your direction.


This is unbelievably cool.


Wow, this is so cool! Thanks for sharing.


How is the dialogue between the GM and Players being generated?

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I made a python dsl where I write everything, and then a converter that formats it for me (if I am ambitious enough I might make a static site generator for it, for example)

A reflection on TTRPG games from when I was working on the next session…something nice about a TTRPG vs writing a story is that it’s ok to be derivative. While writing HoW stuff, I can just lean hard into tropes I’ve enjoyed in the wuxia stuff I’ve watched…whereas in writing a “real story” or whatever I think there is more pressure to be original. I think it’s really nice to be able to lean into a wuxia tropefest. I guess this is part of why people like writing fanfiction!

The 3 Pillars of Guilin - Session 2: River’s Bend

DM: Ok! So at the end of the last sesson the team was on the outskirts of River’s Bend. Before we get get started, some players may want to revisit their entanglements. If you want to change any, not is the time!

Xu Lian Yu updates general entanglement to: Everyone knows Lin Xiao Hui is a traitor but I secretly hope to protect him anyway, but I’m afraid that if Chen Li Zhang find’s out she will try and kill me
Peng Song Yue updates general entanglement to: My friend Chen Li Zhang wants to kill Xu Lian Yu, but I secretly admire her character

Xue Wang Long highlights the general entanglement for this session.
Xu Lian Yu highlights the romantic entanglement for this session.
Chen Li Zhang highlights the general entanglement for this session.
Peng Song Yue highlights the general entanglement for this session.

DM: Interesting! I think that Xu Lian Yu’s is fairly obvious, but Peng Song Yue, can you share your thinking behind yours?

Peng Song Yue: Of course. Peng Song Yue wants to clear their name and get back into good graces with their sect, but they can’t help but respect Xu Lian Yu. They don’t think she was involved in this plot, and are interested in long term friendship. They don’t think that killing her would get them any closer to solving the issue at hand. Furthermore, their father always emphasized that the Li River Sect has maintained their power (behind the scenes they’re far richer than the other clans realized) by seeing opportunity where others just see bloodshet. So I think they think there are two key points here: 1. as a warrior, they respect her 2. as the scion of their sect, they’re thinking about the long game. If they befriend Xu Lian Yu at her lowest moment, that’s a powerful friend for life.

DM: Oh wow, great! A longer term side of Peng Song Yue. Ok, so, the team is on the outskirts of town. What’s the plan?

Xue Wang Long: Since this is an area I know pretty well, I was thinking that we make our way to a local inn I know–the key being I can trust them not to tell anyone that we are staying there. We can enter towner after dark so if there is anybody we don’t want seeing us…they won’t.

everyone nods

DM: Ok, you make your way into town. Whether or not anyone you don’t want noticing you notices you…well, that remains to be seen! Xue Wang Long, how about you describe this inn and anyone there we should know?

Xue Wang Long: The Vermillion Pearl isn’t the nicest inn in town, but it’s certainly not run down. It’s where Xue Wang Long and his master would stay, and eventually, where he would stay on his own on his runs to town. The rooms, while a little small, are clean, and the service is top notch. There’s a pig’s feet dish that Xue Wang Long looks forward to every time he comes to town. The owner is known as Old Snow, a sign of respect, even though she isn’t that old. Her father went by the same name and ran the inn before he passed away. Everyone really liked Old Snow’s father and likes her as well, so they kept using the same respectful form of address.

DM: Ok, great. So you arrive late in the day. It’s dark out, and as you enter The Vermillion Pearl there is no one else around. But after you make a little polite noise, Old Snow comes out to greet you. How about you describe your interaction with Old Snow?

Xue Wang Long: Old Snow is surprised to see me–for one, this isn’t the time of year I usually come. But this is also the first time she’s seen me with anyone but my master. She blinks a few times, but the always composed Old Snow politely comes to greet us. “Little Hero! It’s not that time of the year…a truly blessed surprise. And you brought friends?” She motions to the rest of the group. “It will be an honor to serve you all.” She looks at the members of the group and gives a polite bow. “The Vermillion Pearl isn’t the biggest inn in town, but I’m sure that once you’ve tasted our hospitality once, you’ll make us a part of every trip to River’s Bend.” She returns her gaze to Xue Wang Long. “I hope that Big Hero is well? I know he doesn’t like to come to town anymore, but I do wish him well. You know my father was terribly fond of him, and I am too.” She smiles broadly, not the insincere smile of an innkeeper but the deep smile of a friend. At this mention of his master, Xue Wang Long’s face goes cloudy. A few moments pass, and Old Snow seems to understand instinctively what this means. A deep frown creases her face. She leaves the room and shortly returns with a bottle and a stack of ceramic cups. Everyone knows what she intends. She hands a cup to everyone, and keeps one for herself. At this point Xue Wang Long’s face is filled with tears, as is Old Snow’s. She fills each of your cups with strong, fragrant liquor. Xue Wang Long holds his up, and everyone follows. He drinks quickly, and everyone follows. But here he wavers. Everyone goes to throw their cups on the ground, as is custom, but at the final moment Xue Wang Long shouts. “NO!” Everyone stops cold. “He…we still don’t know. We don’t know! Old Snow, if I find his body, if I find out what happened… I swear on my master’s grave and soul that I will come back with the most expensive bottle of liquor I can find. But until then…this drink, let it be to his health, not to his death. I still…” Here he chokes. Old Snow’s tears are larger now, but she smiles and nods.

Chen Li Zhang: She is absolutely crying.

Peng Song Yue: They are too.

Xu Lian Yu: She feels very strange, at this scene. Her master’s…mortal enemy? It doesn’t feel like it. She is filled with sadness, with a wish that she could have met him…

DM: How much do you want to learn into that? I feel like that could be related to your romantic struggle. You love your master, but you don’t want Xu Lian Yu to find out…but it sounds like you also really respect him and their relationship

Xu Lian Yu: Yeah, absolutely.

Xu Lian Yu takes move Inner Conflict with element earth: Result 10 (9+1)
On a 10+: you manage to keep yourself together. +1 xp.

Xu Lian Yu: She’s able to keep it under control. But what does that mean? Why? She feels a strong connection to Xue Wang Long, despite the fact that they might become mortal enemies. What is this feeling? Perhaps it’s… envy. Of course, she feels things for her master that Xue Wang Long doesn’t feel for his, but the tears streaming down his cheeks…it feels like they had a really special relationship. Maybe she’s jealous.

DM: Old Snow stares at Xue Wang Long intensely. “Find him. Until then, please, make yourselves comfortable. You don’t have to pay.”

Xue Wang Long: He’s taken aback, but nods his head in deep appreciation. “And I imagine it goes without saying but…if anyone asks…”

DM: She nods and smiles knowingly. She takes you to your rooms, which aren’t as run down as you expected. They’re small, but the fabrics don’t seem faded and tasteful art is hung up. “I’ll bring each of you tea shortly.” Oh, right, how are you going to split the rooms? Does everyone get their own room?

Peng Song Yue: Where’s the fun in that! Old Snow looks at the group and frowns slightly, apologetically. “Ah…we only have two rooms open. Thankfully they’re our two largest, but…” At this Peng Song Yue speaks up quickly: “Xue Wang Long, Wang Lin, and myself can be in one. Xu Lian Yu and Chen Li Zhang can be in the other.” Chen Li Zhang sends a nasty look his way, to which he just winks.

DM: Is everyone ok with it playing out like that?

Chen Li Zhang: Grudgingly!

DM: Ok, you all get settled into your rooms. Do you want to go to bed? Play out some room scenes? Do something else?

Xue Wang Long: I think I just had a big spotlight on me, but I think we should all investigate.

DM: I’m sure you’re not the only one with that thought. Chen Li Zhang we haven’t heard from you much this session, what are your thoughts?

Chen Li Zhang: She’s definitely pissed at having to room with Xu Lian Yu. She was ready to kill her just 24 hours ago! She definitely wants something to focus on other than having to share a room with Xu Lian Yu. “I’m not wasting any time…I want to get some information, who is going with me?” She says to her companions, before they’ve even properly settled in.

Peng Song Yue: They’re definitely tempted to go, it’d be like old times, but they’re excited to be sharing a room with Xue Wang Long…

Xue Wang Long: “Chen Li Zhang is right. We have no time to spare. Let’s start searching around. I know this town better than anyone, so why don’t we stick together? I can give you a tour of town, let you know who the regulars are, so after today we can split up.”

Peng Song Yue: They smile happily.

Xu Lian Yu: She looks a bit bashful, but nods.

Chen Li Zhang: She sighs heavily, but nods her head. It’s the most reasonable course of action. She gives Xu Lian Yu a nasty look.

DM: Ok! So, you hit the town?

Xue Wang Long: He does what he just said. He wants to take them around, give them a lay of the land, and point out important places.

Xu Lian Yu: She suggests that he can ask those he trusts more for information on what’s been going down lately.

Xue Wang Long: Not a bad suggestion!

DM: Sounds like Study to me?

Xue Wang Long: Let’s do it. I’m going to say metal, as they go about this in a calculated way–a place he knows, systematically showing them around, chatting with folks he knows.

Xue Wang Long takes move Study with element metal: Result 8 (8+0)
On a 7-9: You gain basic information. You get 1 hold. Spend Hold 1 for the following
– Ask a question about a situation or place (escape routes, hidden details, threats, dangers, etc)
– Ask a question about a person (motivation, desires, intentions, means of manipulation, etc)
– Ask any other question
– Learn a person’s scale (below, on your level, or above)
– Reveal a detail–declare something which changes or adds to the fiction significantly

Xue Wang Long: Hmm, given what we are doing, I think it would make sense to ask about a situation or place. While it’s not directly related to our goal, he’s still quite cautious. He wants to know if there’s anyone new or suspicious that has come to town.

DM: Ah, sure! Well, you know that River’s Bend has always been a center of vice…there’s plenty of money to be made in it, and lots of people are drawn to the town just for this. But it generally has never got too out of hand–the vice establishment knows they need to control their operations or they will draw the ire of the town’s citizens–and the gangs. But it sounds like recently there’s been a huge uptick in gambling. In fact, a ton of new gamblers have come to town…while this has led to a bit of a boom for local businesses, it has also led to a lot more new faces creating trouble. Presumably you don’t know the gambling houses very well, so you’re not quite sure why.

Peng Song Yue: A gambling house! This is my kind of haunt.

Chen Li Zhang: 'Usually she would at least pretend to put up a fight, but she wants some action. A gambling house? Fine! She remembers a particularly boisterous gambling house that Xue Wang Long had pointed out during the tour of the town. “I’m heading there now to investigate. You interested? Keep up. Not interested? Good!!” She’s clearly still not in the best of moods.

DM: Does everyone go with her?

everyone nods

DM: Who wants to paint a scene?

Chen Li Zhang: Since she is leading the brisk walk over, stands to reason she can set the stage. The Lucky Wine Cup is a large, well-appointed gambling den–one of the best in town. Anyone can gamble here, but their target are the really big rollers. If something has happened in the gambling world, we can definitely find out about it there.

DM: Ok, great. Xue Wang Long, do you know anyone here from your visits to town?

Xue Wang Long: Hmm, I think that this is a city of the city that he never really spent much time in.

DM: Fair enough. Well, you get to The Lucky Wine Cup and you see it’s really packed…there’s a crowd outside, though it doesn’t seem like there’s actually a line to get in. Xue Wang Long, while you don’t know much about this establishment, you certainly would have walked by it before in your visits to town. This is way busier than normal.

Chen Li Zhang: She spares no time–she walks right in!

DM: Well actually, as you’re a few paces from the door, it explodes! Two people go flying through the air, the debris from the door flying along with them. The scene, which was already loud from the large group of people in front of the gambling den is now positively frenetic. The crowd roars–interestingly, not in surprise as much in amusement. The two large men thrown through the door scream as they fly through the air and when they land on on the ground you can hear them groaning loudly–though neither of them seems mortally wounded. You see a short, skinny man wearing nice robes–now in disarray–come scurrying out of the door. He doesn’t go to the two men on the floor, but instead examines the door. “Not again, not again!” He whines in a high, nasal voice. And lastly, you hear a long, melodic laugh. A short, beautiful round woman walks out of the door, face bright red with laughter and, presumably, drink. She is dressed in simple but well-tailored clothes. Instead of the courtly long robes of a fashionable woman, she is dressed like a well-off traveler. Still, her features are impeccable. She has puffy, curly hair–not common in this area!–which has been tied into a bun which sits on top of her head. She has large eyes and a radiant smile and carries her girth with power and grace. She has a bottle gourd in her hand, which she drinks from in between peals of laughter.
After a moment she stops and stares at the two men still groaning on the ground. “If you’re willing to bet, you gotta be willing to lose!” she speaks with a beautiful, husky voice. It’s not coarse at all, but instead folksy and playful. “Everyone here knows the rules of betting with Cai Bu Lai! It’s a simple rule, a code of honor that every gambler knews from the moment they pop outta their mama with a set of dice in their grubby little hands. If you throw the dice, you gotta be willing to accept what comes! And I may be many things, most of them bad, but I’m nothing if not a gambler of honor!” At this the crowd goes into a change. “You lose, you pay! You lose, you pay!”
She clearly is enjoying the crowd’s attention. She starts walking in a circle around the two men. Both have various bruises and scratches, but have stopped groaning loudly. One, slightly skinner than the other, seems to be nursing a broken arm, and is wimpering. She continues, “Everyone knows my rules. You sit at my table, I don’t care who you are, we have a drink. We have a drink, I don’t care who you are, we have a bet. We have a bet, I win, I pay. You lose, you pay!” At this someone from the crowd shouts “But you never lose!” to which a large number of people laugh. She crinkles her face. “Now, that’s not true! It’s true, I love gamblin’ and I’m good at what I love! But heck, if I spent every day chattin’ with beautiful women, well, I’d probably be good at that too!”
You now notice there is a group of women and men in heavy makeup and beautiful robes gathered at the door, clearly annoying the short, skinny man (who looks to be one of the managers of this establishment). “But you DO love to chat with beautiful women!” The crowd roars as the woman laughs in that beautiful, husky voice. She takes a big swig from her gourd. “Hah hah! I guess I do don’t I? Still, I’ve certainly lost!” She points at one of the women in the crowd, a particularly tall and somewhat stocky one, who blushes under the attention. “You see that beauty over there? I drank with her, we gambled, and I lose! Damn it!” She takes a sip from her gourd and still laughs, but a more wistful laugh–but with the same playfulness. The crowd is besides itself. The two men on the ground, however, just stare at her icily.
Finally, one speaks, the one whose arm isn’t broken. “Do you…do you know who we are? You’re a dead woman!” At this, she laughs but it’s a much sharper staccato. “Do I know who you are? Here’s what I know: you sat down at my table. You drank with me. You gambled with me. Then you didn’t want to pay! That’s who you are! You’re a rat bastard who doesn’t want to pay his bets, that’s who you are!” The crowd’s reaction is not what you expect. There is still a roar, but you also see a variety of other responses…some people step back a bit, others speak to each other excitedly, others yelp in surprise.
The short, skinny man, upon hearing this, is absolutely besides himself in worry. Cai Bu Lai hasn’t respond yet, but he rushes over to them, putting on a face of complete worry. He speaks to the slightly skinnier one nursing the broken arm, “Young master! Young master! Please, let me call a doctor for you. DOCTOR! Someone go get a doctor!” He stares back at the door. “NOW!!!” at this a young boy steps out and scurries past the crowd. “Young master, you know this woman isn’t a part of our establish-”
The man with the broken arm spits in his face. “You only care about your stupid establishment.” He emphasizes the last word cruelly. He then pulls out a knife. “I’ll show you what I think about your damned establishment! I’ll show you what my dad will think of this establishment when he finds out!!” At this, he moves to stab the now terrified short, skinny man.
He goes to stab the short, skinny man and…his empty hand hits the man’s chest. Terrified, the man looks down and feigns. “My dagger…?” The man with the broken arm is in shock. The crowd has gone into a hush, and the circle around the two men is now much larger than it was. The man finds his dagger on the ground. “Who dares…?” You all have martial training and could tell that someone used martial projectile skills to knock it out of his hand, but who…?
Cai Bu Lai laughs and drinks as she walks close to the two men, crouching down. “You bet, you pay. Those are the rules!” The larger man on the ground whistles and all of a sudden 10 men appear, jumping out from the crowd. The man yells, “Give this woman a taste of what it means to mess with The River’s End Gang!”

Peng Song Yue: Ok, that’s enough. I can’t just stand and watch!

DM: I was wondering when you all would choose to act! What do you do?

Peng Song Yue: I should loudly, “Wait!” At this, the entire group is probably very confused. I do a backflip through the air, landing inside the ring of 10 men.

DM: Cai Bu Lai has a somewhat perplexed look as you jump in, but still wears a broad smile. Do the rest of you follow?

Chen Li Zhang: Her foul mood seems to vanish at the promise of a fight. This feels like old times–Peng Song Yue starting trouble, and her swinging her mace behind them. She flies in behind her friend!

DM: As you land, Cai Bu Lai goes from perplexed to visibly excited. How about the rest of you?

Xu Lian Yu: Of course! Better to die and battle then from some stupid poison.

Xue Wang Long: Not exactly keeping a low profile, but he’s not one to abandon his companions.

Peng Song Yue: I imagine Wang Lin is staying in the crowd trying to look unthreatening, just in case.

DM: Of course. Cai Bu Lai sees the rest of you join and laughs very loudly. The two men on the ground’s faces are beet red, the larger one sputtering, so angry he seems unable to speak. “you…who…dares…” he points at you all.

Peng Song Yue: “I have never met this Honorable Hero Cai Bu Lai, but in her I see a sister of the dice! As a fellow degenerate gambler, I can’t just stand by and let a couple good for nothings bully someone like this. If you’re willing to throw the dice, you’re willing to accept the result!”

DM: At hearing this, Cai Bu Lai’s face lights up with mirth. The smaller man looks at the larger man. “Kill… Kill them all. Burn this goddamn place to the ground. TO THE GROUND!!!” The larger man whistles again and 10 more men come out. At this the crowd disperses. The beautiful men and women in the doorway, however, are still there. At some point the short, skinny man’s unconscious body seems to have been moved.
The 20 men surrounding you all are wielding various weapons…mostly axes and some short swords. They’ve built a tight circle two men deep, though haven’t made their move yet. The larger man points at someone. “Go tell the boss!” The young man shouts in acknowledgement and runs off quickly.

Peng Song Yue: Wang Lin makes quick work of the one who was supposed to go get backup.

DM: Ah, that he does. The men have you surrounded. The man with the broken arm starts speaking to the group of you, Peng Song Yue in particular. “I don’t know who you are…but your faces don’t look familiar. You’re not from around here, I think. How about this. You kill her and I not only let you all live, I give each of you 100 taels of silver. How about that?” He looks at you expectantly.

Chen Li Zhang: “I’m tired of hearing you speak, scumbag. I’m not a gambler, and I think most gamblers are wretches,” she winks at Peng Song Yue, “but I’d take the worst of them over you. Gamblers have a code, and you think for a 100 taels we’re going to let you use your money and power to bully someone? Psh! How about this, you give me 100 taels for every body part you want to keep.” At this she grins and brandishes her mace.

DM: The man with the broken arm’s face turns purple. Cai Bu Lai smiles with pure joy and turns to face Chen Li Zhang. “You’re…gigantic!!! You’re…perfect!!!” She gets closer to you and offers you her gourd. “Drink with me?”

Chen Li Zhang: She blushes visibly. In the heat of the moment, she grabs the gourd and drains it completely, then hands it back to Cai Bu Lai.

DM: Cai Bu Lai is estatic, even if a bit surprised when she feels the gourd is empty. “That was good liquor!” She looks you up and down. “But it was worth it!” You feel the rush of the liquor and her looks hit your cheeks. From the ground, the man with the broken arm barks, “Find, you all want to die together, suits me!” He whistles and the surrounding men make their move.

Chen Li Zhang: Finally! I’ve been itching for a fight all night. I take out these assholes!

DM: Sounds like Deal With Troops to me. Set the scene!

Peng Song Yue: No way I’m letting her do this alone. I want to Comfort and Support

Xue Wang Long: I am happy to let them take lead on the scene, but my chains are definitely going to want to take out a henchman or two.

Xu Lian Yu: I see Xue Wang Long about to act and I quickly step up. “Honorable Brother…she’s been in a bad mood all day.” She sheepishly looks at the ground. “Why don’t we let her have some fun?”

DM: Unexpected! Should we do a Hearts and Minds?

Xue Wang Long: No need, no need. He is a bit taken aback, but smiles at Xu Lian Yu. “You speak wisely. I was eager to get in a fight, but you’re right. Let’s let them have their fun. I get the feeling this town won’t lack for people who deserve a chain or two…”

Peng Song Yue takes move Comfort and Support with element water: Result 10 (9+1)
On a 10+: You lift them up: the person you help may choose to give you a bond with them or clear a marked element. You may also clear an element yourself, ask them a question they must answer, or give them a Bond with you
Chen Li Zhang chooses to give Peng Song Yue a Bond
Peng Song Yue chooses to give Chen Li Zhang a Bond

Chen Li Zhang takes move Deal With Troops with element earth: Result 10 (7+2+1(Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber))
On a 10+: you defeat them easily

DM: Ok, two great successes. How about we let Chen Li Zhang set the scene? Try and include the rest of them, at least Chen Li Zhang, and then everyone can add details. I should add that Cai Bu Lai is just grinning madly and enjoying the show–she seems to be completely unworried.

Chen Li Zhang: She grins broadly. It’s time to play. She shouts to Peng Song Yue, “Well if you’re in this, let’s do it right!” She lowers her stance, broad and wide, and squats very close to the ground. She starts rotating as the men around you all start slowly walking in, a mix of nerves and confidence in numbers. “On a mountain / The hermit still plays.” Her spinning gets faster as she brings her mace, horizontal, up from the ground. She looks like an inverted top, and quickly becomes a blur of cloth and stone. Hearing her chant, Peng Song Yue grins broadly. By the way, Peng Song Yue you on board for this?

Peng Song Yue: Oh yeah this is great. Old friends back at it!

Chen Li Zhang: So hearing her chant, Peng Song Yue grins broadly. This is an old form they developed together when they’d get into scraps. “The old buddhist hermit / Remembers his secular ways!” They do a large flip and lands on her mace just as it reaches the top, kicking off of it and using the momentum from them to fly high into the air, entering a fast spin. Their head is to the ground and they are radiant. “Sometimes nirvana / Is a deck of cards away!” As they spin upside down in the air they reach both arms into their shirt and start throwing tiny needles at the whirling Chen Li Zhang. There’s a laugh in her voice as she continues their chant. “I’ve forgotten the koans / But I remember every card!” The large group of men has gained speed and is just on them when the stream of needles from Peng Song Yue starts hitting her whirling form. All of a sudden there is a very lot POP, one after another, as the stream of needles are redirected to the men around them. In a split second 10 of the men are on their asses. “With every hand I deal / I get closer to the Buddha!” And the stream continues, the remaining 10 men are also on the ground. Amazingly, none of them are dead–all of them have needles in various key pressure points and are groaning in pain, but they’re all fine. Chen Li Zhang stops whirling and enters a relaxed stance, pointing her mace at the two men. At this point Peng Song Yue lands neatly behind them. “But what is Buddha / Next to a deck of cards!”

Peng Song Yue: From his perch far away, Wang Lin is definitely rolling his eyes at their childish, somehwat blashphemous form.

Chen Li Zhang: The henchmen are all writhing on the ground. She is grinning broadly.

DM: And behind you so is Cai Bu Lai!

Chen Li Zhang: She speaks curtly to the two men. “You could have 100 more men like that and they’d be nothing for us. If you’re going to bark, dog, better make sure you have sharp fangs.” She turns her head back a bit and says to the rest of the crew standing behind her. “So, uh, what should we uh, do with these two?” She was excited to swing her mace but she didn’t really think this far.

Xue Wang Long: He’s scratching his head. “Pissing off one of the most powerful gangs in the city was not in my plan. If the 3 Pillars have any ears here…they’re going to know we’re here soon. So we might as well get information as quickly as we can.”

DM: Hearing this Cai Bu Lai raises an eye brow. “The 3 Pillars eh? That would certainly explain this.” She waves at the scene in front of them. “You’re a long way from home, though.”

Xu Lian Yu: “Not far enough…”

Chen Li Zhang: “So, these two…”

DM: Cai Bu Lai shrugs. “I don’t know why you’re so worried. Besides, we have more important things to attend to!” She looks at Chen Li Zhang with an impish smile. “Name your stakes, beautiful, because we have some gambling to do. You heard the rules just like the rest of them: you drink with me, you gotta gamble!”

Chen Li Zhang: She has an extremely blank, surprised look.

DM: “Just like an honorable gambler I have a code and I stick to it. You drink with me, you gamble! But hey, you choose the game, you choose the stakes. If it’s something I can pay, I’ll leave my luck to the dice. If I lose, I pay!” At this she starts walking into the gambling establishment. She holds the gourd upside down and when nothing comes out she has the first somewhat sad expression you’ve seen thus far. “I’m parched. Let’s get something to drink.” She stops for a moment as if remembering something and turns her head to face the two men on the ground. “You two have 24 hours. If you think your daddy can keep you from having to pay Cai Bu Lai you have another thing coming. 24 hours!” With that, she walks into the establishment.

Chen Li Zhang: She’s not excited, but she follows. Whether or not she can get out of this, it’s not going to be by running.

Peng Song Yue: They hate to admit that they’re excited, even if they know their friend is probably in a real pickle.

Xue Wang Long: He’s just hoping there might be some way to work this to learn something. A gambler like this has probably been around, knows a lot of people, hears a lot of things.

Xu Lian Yu: Not much choice, eh? The truth is she likes this group and wants them to succeed, but she also is secretly excited to see Chen Li Zhang get a little comeuppance.

DM: Let’s call that a session. Next time we’ll pick it up with Cai Bu Lai. We definitely need to find some opportunities to lean into those entanglements in the future.

Game session is over! Some housekeeping…

Xue Wang Long receives 0 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with () entanglement, general was higlighted.
Xu Lian Yu receives 2 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with (romantic) entanglement, romantic was higlighted.
Chen Li Zhang receives 0 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with () entanglement, general was higlighted.
Peng Song Yue receives 0 entanglement interaction xp. Interacted with () entanglement, general was higlighted.

Xu Lian Yu has leveled up! They have chosen to increase their earth stat by 1

Xue Wang Long (Outsider: Wanderer) (XP: 3) Style: 10000 Rivers Style (water)
Stats: earth (1) fire (-1) metal (0) water (2) wood (1)
Moves: Have Sword, Will Travel; Heroes Shed No Tears
–romantic: You’ve fallen in love with Wang Lin, but you both fear your friend, Peng Song Yue, will find out
–general: You want to get closer to Xu Lian Yu as a friend, but fear your master, Ou Yang Qi. wouldn’t approve
Bonds: Peng Song Yue: 1; Xu Lian Yu: 1

Xu Lian Yu (Student: Hopeful Apprentice) (XP: 0) Style: Splintered Bamboo Style (wood)
Stats: earth (2) fire (-1) water (0) metal (1) wood (2)
Moves: Blade Heart; The Proud Youth
–romantic: I’m secretly in love with my master, Su Xue Lu, but am afraid Xue Wang Long will find out!
–general: Everyone knows Lin Xiao Hui is a traitor but I secretly hope to protect him anyway, but I’m afraid that if Chen Li Zhang find’s out she will try and kill me
Bonds: Xue Wang Long: 1; Chen Li Zhang: 1

Chen Li Zhang (Loyal: Swordsman) (XP: 3) Style: Stoic Mountain Style (earth)
Stats: earth (2) fire (0) water (-1) metal (1) wood (1)
Moves: Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber; A Hero Born
–romantic: I’m in love with Xue Wang Long, but my best friend Peng Song Yue is too!
–general: I distrust Xu Lian Yu, but my beloved Xue Wang Long seems fond of her
Bonds: Peng Song Yue: 2; Xue Wang Long: 1

Peng Song Yue (Bravo: Favored Eldest) (XP: 3) Style: Three Card Monty Style (metal)
Stats: earth (-1) fire (1) water (1) metal (2) wood (0)
Moves: Come Drink With Me; Midnight Orchid
–romantic: I’m in love with Xue Wang Long, but my best friend Chen Li Zhang is too!
–general: My friend Chen Li Zhang wants to kill Xu Lian Yu, but I secretly admire her character
Bonds: Xue Wang Long: 1; Chen Li Zhang: 2