Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Jwar Tales - Kitsune (part 4)

please find the link to previous tales here

The Kitsune scanned the small room, a writing desk covered in parchment provided the perfect place to plant more evidence of Ito duplicity.  From the pouch, which seemed to hold far more than it's physical size would indicate, she withdrew a scrap of paper that resembled a hastily drawn map of the Takashi compound and dropped it under the desk.

FF flips the objective and gets a green, when you flip an objective you take a card, this time I was able to see the escape route which is normally hidden from the ninjas until after the mission is completed.  I decided despite to not reveal the exit point as it would spoil it for me as I'm playing solo

Footsteps coming from beyond the open door, indicated that the guard had resumed his pacing. Reaching for her Ki, the Kitsune quickly changed shape and drew her swords.  On silent feet she leapt across the threshold, the twin blades whirling in precise patterns and leaving the guard in a crumpled heap.  Quickly, the female yokai pulled at the robes of the corpse and propped him up against the table.  The guard's body would only add to the subterfuge especially when she added a little viper venom to the wounds.

Kyuubi stalked around the edge of the lantern light of the courtyard, confident that the blinded guards would not be able to see him.  His keen ears caught the subtle sound of an overweight sentry breathing a little heavily, his sensitive nose bought him traces of sweat and unwashed robes all coming from the main hallway that ran the length of the main house.  Drawing a handful of shuriken, he swept around the corner, flinging them with unerring accuracy at the surprised guard and dropping him to the floor.

a wider view. with no guards near the ninjas, they simply reinforced from the barracks!

In the background, Kyuubi could hear more guards emerging from the barracks.  Something had disturbed them! maybe one of the bodies had been found?  No that couldn't be it, the alarm would have sounded! More likely guards hadn't reported in and the gunso's were assuming that they were asleep somewhere in the compound...

Glancing down at the body of the guard he had just killed, the yokai realised that that might change if the soldier emerging from the barracks now discovered his comrade.  Drawing his katana, the fox-like assassin sprang forward, his paws barely making a sound as he sprinted the few paces to the entryway and swung the heavy blade at head height in a seemingly blind swipe.  The volatile vulpine's superlative senses determining the position of the guard even if he couldn't see him.  The sword tore through the scalp of the unfortunate man and killed him instantly with a solid thud.

The Kitsune, once again in fox form, darted silently into the dojo, dropping her "evidence" into a corner by a weapons rack and then heading back toward the master's dais.  So far the raid was going to plan, the Ito would be implicated and the treaty killed off before it began...

"Intruder!" Takaki Manobu managed to gasp.  He had strolled around the corner from the eastern guard post and stumbled on Usai, a gochi (corporal) from green watch being beheaded by a demon. Gulping a quick breath, he tried again - "Intruder!" this time his voice was a bit stronger and carried a bit further, causing the demon to spin around and face him.  

Multiple footsteps rang from all directions as others heard the cry, giving Takaki the courage to square up and present the point of his spear at the abomination. "Halt, beast!" he yelped bravely.  The yokai's hand reached beneath his cloak as if to go for another weapon, it's katana currently embedded in the head of Usai and therefore useless to it at that moment.  Takaki slapped the broad blade of the yari against it's arm, causing it to drop a handful of throwing stars.

K wants to use his shuriken to kill multiple targets but the guard player plays a card and he can't use the stars
Kyuubi, withdrew his stinging hand from his cloak and grabbed the hilt of his katana, ripping it from the head of the guard on the floor.  The sound of many guards heading his way, discouraged him from pressing the attack on the human who'd slapped at him.  Shrugging his shoulders, he spun on his heels causing his cloak to billow out and confuse the Takashi spearman. Bunching his powerful leg muscles, he leapt away from the startled sentry and sprinted down the hallway, ducking into the shadows and disappearing from sight.

The Kitsune could hear the commotion as her sibling tangled with the guards.  She winced when she heard the male's growl of frustration as he sought to escape.  Fortunately for her it had proved the perfect diversion, drawing a sentry away from the treasury and allowing her to approach the strong room. With a little Ki boosted dexterity, she picked the lock of the plank door that barred her way and slunk into the dark room.

Kyuubi leapt once again, this time straight upwards, his strong claws digging in the soft planks of the ceiling.  With incredible strength he clung to the rafters and inched his way away from the guard who had discovered him.  Underneath him reinforcements darted here and there but did not have the presence of mind to simply look up.  The guards below him babbled at each other in their primitive human tongue, something about waking the lord or lady, but none of them could decide if they should, worried that their tales of demon wolves would be taking seriously, but they DID have a dead guard to explain.   Instead they settled on reporting back to the gunso and letting them "take the yelling".

the guards play a card and place a guard right by K but fail to detect him, man they need the alert level up!
The Kitsune focused on her ki and transformed into her humanoid form, striding toward the impressive looking chest in the middle of the room.  With barely a glance at the wooden strong box, she swept passed it and stood before a plain, non-descript case roughly the size of her palm.  Despite looking completely unimpressive it had obviously been reverently placed on a low table and unlike other treasures in the vault, had been dusted and handled with great care.  The Kitsune was curious about the contents of the box, she could sense the ki pouring from the object inside, but Kyuubi had warned her not to open it and simply bring it to him. That had been his price and he would be furious with her if she disobeyed him in this matter... but still her mischievous vulpine curiosity warred with her need to keep her sibling onside. For long seconds she stood holding the plain box before shrugging and dropping it into her pouch.

The sound of guards waking in the barracks next door reminded the Kitsune of the business at hand and, drawing her kusarigama, she stalked from the strong room and into the hallway.  She needed to neutralise the guards quickly, before they got organised.  The chaos that Kyuubi and herself were creating was perfect for the plan, but it needed to be controlled and channelled.  

Two more swift strides and she was in the barracks, sleepy guards were struggling into clothing and reaching for weapons, when she leapt among them.  With a swing of the chain, she let fly with the weighted end, wrapping the metal links around a guards ankle and tripping him to the floor with a thump. A sharp pull on the weapon, released the chain allowing her to spin gracefully to build momentum and send the scythe-like blade into the chest of another soldier.  The vicious blade sliced through the man's sternum with ease, piercing his heart and he dropped to the floor without a sound.  

The tripped guard barely had time to get to his feet when, with a yelp that caused the Kitsune to wince, he was tangled once again by the chain of the exotic weapon. Another swipe of the blade and he lay still, this time for good.

KH's special weapon allows her to attack multiple opponents and so she uses all her force dice in a spectacular attack!
Takaki Manobu stood stock still, gripping his yari with sweaty hands.  Sasaki had gone off to inform the gunso about the situation and left him to keep watch for the demon.  Frankly they did not believe him, despite the body of the gocho that lay in a pool of blood nearby, blaming the murder on thieves.  As if thieves would break into the Takashi household! there would be nowhere in the Isles they could run to!  Takaki snorted his disbelief at the idea of thieves, he knew what he had seen, it had been a demon and no doubt. Nervously, he glanced up and down the length of the hall, the beast was out there somewhere.

Kyuubi watched the guard directly below him, every few seconds the human would remember to look about and then he would go back to sweating and muttering to himself.  Crucially however, he always failed to look up.  Slowly, the yokai unhooked the strong claws of his feet from the soft wood of the rafters and unfolded his body until he was able to drop lightly to the floor just behind the nervous sentry...

So I will leave it here for the time being, the overall shot shows you were our (anti)heroes are in relation to each other
hope you enjoy

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Jwar Tales - Kitsune (part 3)

The small fox padded silently forward, her paws barely leaving imprints in the fine sand of the Takashi family's zen garden, those prints she did leave were gently brushed away  with a slow swish of her ruddy brown tail. Vulpine senses straining, the vixen scanned the inky black night air for any signs of Ryu guards.

Somewhere in the Takashi compound, her brother Kyuubi would be doing the same albeit in his humanoid form.  As a male Kitsune, Kyuubi was unable to fully transform into fox form and instead relied on his Ki to enhance his already phenomenal stealth. The Kitsune prayed to the Kamis to keep her brother's tread light and his blade sharp.

Kyuubi stalked through the gnarled trunks of the cherry trees that lined the pathway leading to the Takashi Manor House.  The perimeter guards had been half asleep and far too easy to bypass, no challenge to his supreme stealth.  How easy it would have been for him to slit the throats of all of them, he thought to himself.  He hoped the house guards would prove to be more fun!

Up ahead, a fat guard shifted his yari to a more comfortable position and gazed boredly out into the night, answering Kyuubi's question.  Unfortunately for the sentry he happened to be standing in the male kitsune's entry point to the property.

Reaching beneath his billowing cloak, Kyuubi plucked a razor sharp disc from a pouch and flung the deadly shuriken with fatal accuracy. With barely a sound the missile crunched into the soft bones of the guard's nose, the cruel, jagged points of the "throwing star" breaching the cartilage and tearing the delicate brain tissue behind.  The guard, dead before he  even perceived a threat, folded at the knees and fell sideways into a shadowy doorway.

Kyuubi's muzzle split into a toothy grin, revealing rows of needle like fangs. "Let the fun begin" he thought to himself.

movement trackers were used in the pre Kickstarter game to predict movement turns, but serve my purpose here...

The Kitsune slunk ever closer, padding softly up to a simple shoji screen door.  With a sharp claw, she slashed a small tear in the flimsy material and pushed her sensitive nose through the opening.  With no guards in the room, she carefully eased through the screen and into the Manor proper.

The Kitsune in fox form (FF) uses a stealth dice to open the shoji door (4+) required. Due to her stealth bonus in this form it becomes (2+). She then uses another stealth dice to roll against the number on the objective marker again adding her stealth bonus.

Glancing around the darkened private prayer room, sharp eyes piercing the shadows, she spotted her first opportunity.  With a quick push of her Ki, she semi transformed her paws into clever, furry fingers.  Reaching underneath the thin blue collar around her slender neck, she withdrew a small leather pouch. Taking a couple of the almost translucent red scales from the bag, she stuck them to the side of the wooden dais as if caused by the passage of a large serpentine body knocking the simple furniture.  Tucking the pouch away, she once again resumed her full fox form and headed toward the open doorway.  Little did she know that her canine lined smile matched that of her brother who at that time was standing over the prone body of a Takashi guard.  

The moon was high in the night sky, it was time to make mischief!

and reveals an objective!
The Kitsune's sensitive ears twitched as she heard the quiet mutters of the guards as they conferred in the further recesses of the house. So far she and her volatile sibling had been undiscovered.

at this point the guard player is on a very low level of alert (the scale at the top of the player board) and so they simply buy cards with their action points. Cards can be played to hinder ninjas or buff guards
The Kitsune made her way slowly into the main prayer room, gliding across the ceramic tiles without a single click of her sharp nails on the hard floor.  On the far side of the room, the silhouette of a Takashi guard stood unmoving, back lit by a small lamp in the corner, the tiniest snore coming from his throat as he dozed.

Hin swayed slightly as he woke with a start, he had fallen asleep at his post again! The Gunso (sergeant) would tear him to pieces if she found such dereliction of duty. Shaking his head, in an effort to clear it, he spotted  a small shadow detach itself from the deeper darkness of the private prayer room. The Takashi guard barely opened his mouth to yelp in surprise as the night exploded around him, the shadow dissipating in flash of bright Ki, before feeling the press of twin blades against his throat. A beautiful woman with reddish brown hair and sharp fox-like features appeared before him, her eyes tinged with regret as she swept the swords across his neck.

The Kitsune uses a movement point to transform to humanoid form (HF) and uses one of her force dice and her only stealth dice (in this form) to take out the guard quietly.  So far so good! no noise raised anywhere....
Reaching into her patterned kimono for the small leather pouch, she cursed as she dropped the bag to the floor with a slight thud, the noise carrying out the door and into the corridor beyond the prayer room.

disaster! as she fails to flip the objective (she is definitely not stealthy enough in this form). she creates a noise token and the objective isn't revealed.
 Kyuubi, pressed up against the outer door, counted the heavy steps of a guard as they paced the inner courtyard.  One of a pair of soldiers who guarded the well lit area, they had made several cardinal errors in their placement and it would cost them dearly.  Too far apart, they would be unable to support each other, unable to watch each others backs.  Not only that but they had placed a bright lantern in the middle of the courtyard, which they then faced! With no night vision and no support they were simple obstacles to deal with.

The volatile vulpine once again reached for a shuriken and spun swiftly around the corner, releasing the deadly missile in a single movement.  The guard, caught unaware, barely felt the passing of the razor sharp disc as they sliced through his carotid artery and toppled him into the shadowy recesses of the far corner of the courtyard.  With extraordinary grace, the male kitsune ghosted along the wall and into the small storage rooms that lined the building.

Like his sister, Kyuubi had a variety of items stored under his voluminous cloak that would incriminate the Ito Clan for this little raid.  With that in mind he dropped a little snake fetish, such as would be carried by a bushi, under a shelf in the corner of the small room.

Kyuubi (K) eliminates a guard with a shuriken and reveals a yellow objective (I forgot to photograph the event cards in the last photos when a successful objective is taken) and an event card that allows K to remove a door by the treasure room.

due to KH's noise token the alert level is raised as well as the turn marker (right hand side of the player board) the guard can also use the noise token as an action point and it gets added to their pool
 Hiroto tilted his head and strained his ears.  He had heard a noise coming from the storage rooms behind him, a soft scrape that was definitely not the background noises of the manor house.  Gripping his yari in both hands, he tentatively moved toward the open doorway, the blade of his weapon leading the way.  "Who goes there?" his voice barely more than a whisper, quavering with a modicum of superstitious fear, nonetheless carried into the room.

Absolute silence was his answer, unnatural silence in fact and Hiroto's hands began to sweat as they held his spear.  A shift of his foot and a tilt of his body allowed the soft light of the main house to weakly illuminate the tiny closet only to reveal a creature from the guard's deepest nightmares.  Bent in a slight stoop, cloaked in a billowing cape stood a being with the snarling face of a demonic fox.

Reflexively he thrust the heavy blade of his spear at the beast in an effort to ward it away, the sharp edge slicing into the furred arm of the creature and drawing a line of bright blood along it's length.

the black crescent around K's base is the detected token and means the ninja can now be attacked by the guards
which the guard promptly does and scores a wound on K

the wound goes on the ninja's board and covers up a dice space meaning K only has one force dice to use for the rest of the game

Kyuubi pulled back from the surprised guard, the wound on his arm throbbing with pain.  Planting his left foot, he snap kicked the human in the sternum driving his breath from his lungs with a quiet whoosh.  In a single movement, the vulpine assassin drew his katana and slashed the throat of the poor guard before returning the blade back to it's protective sheath.

Quickly he pulled the corpse into the room and threw it into the corner in a minimal attempt to hide it.  Grimacing at the slash that led from wrist to elbow, he licked it clean with his long tongue before wrapping it loosely with a rag.

note the blue crescent token on the guards base marked with a "!" this is an alert status and the guard is now aware something is wrong, even if they don't know what.  He will now find it easier to detect ninjas and harder to take by surprise
To the Kitsune's sensitive hearing, the fight that had erupted on the other side of the house was horrendously noisy, although in truth it had barely been above a whisper. Her brother, it seemed had been discovered somehow.  She wasn't worried, her sibling was more than capable but it did increase the risk of discovery by the household guards.

With a shrug, she shrunk down into her favourite form and once again stuck snake scales to the side of the dais. As she stepped back from the platform her foot brushed a loose tile, dislodging the ceramic and causing it to scrape gently across the floor.   Her phenomenal reflexes kicked in and she withdrew her foot before too much damage had been done but she glanced quickly around in a panic. She heard footsteps coming from the corridor running alongside the room and cursed again for making noise that sounded like a herd of goats clanking through the room to her sharp hearing.  However no alarms were being raised and she settled down a bit before slinking out into the corridor.

Ahead of her, the bulky form of a Takashi guard moved gently from foot to foot in the time honoured manner of the perpetually board sentry.  Shaking her head minutely at the ineptitude of the guard, she scampered into the small study that adjoined the main dojo and out of sight of the human.

FF flips the objective and gets a trap counter, rolling a dice it doesn't wound her but it does generate a noise token.  I interpreted this as a loose tile...

however her special ability allows her to exchange a stealth die to cancel the token and as she had one left I used it.

an overview of the action so far...the guards in their turn move a bit closer and the guard next to FF absolutely whiffs his detection roll and is blissfully unaware
to be continued....

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Jwar Tales - Kitsune (part 2)

Hi all

hope you enjoyed the prologue for this upcoming tale from the Jwar Isles.  For those of you who didn't read the previous tales of Master Akari and the tricksy Kitsune (shame on you!) you can find them on the newly made Bushido page of my blog, where I gathered all of my previous stories from the world of my favourite skirmish game - here

Go on, I'll wait....

All caught up? cool.  Let's proceed then.

The Kitsune, had ridden along with  Master Akari on his Ki journey in an attempt to thwart an alliance between The Prefecture of Ryu and Clan Ito that would disturb the Balance.  The Balance is an ethereal line between the dark and the light, night and day, death and life.  The Temple of Ro-Kan and it's allies seek to preserve it at all costs knowing that if the scales were to tip too far toward one or the other, then the Jwar Isles would fall.

Akari, embarked on a Ki journey to determine the best course of action that would disrupt the two clans from joining forces.  Each time the monks clashed with the Prefecture, the death toll of the monks was too high.  Too many young lives and innocent souls lost for no benefit.

In desperation, Akari delved deeper, looking for other methods.  Finally he turned to the Kitsune, believing that espionage might be more effective than outright war.  With her tricks and supreme stealth, she could succeed where the supreme fighting skills of the monks had failed.

The Kitsune, had a plan that would sow dissention among the two factions and turn them from their path but she knew that she couldn't do it alone.  Risking discovery by her secretive shadow clan, she sought her brother - Kyuubi.  As a male, he was unable to fully transform into fox form.  None the less, his stealth was unrivalled and his hatred of any threats to the Balance would be invaluable in her quest.  It would cost her though...

I really enjoyed playing the 3 Bushido games that led to the "Tales" and was intrigued by the story line that developed from them, particularly the subplot that "spun off".  I wanted to play this as more of an RPG type game and so decided to use the rules from "The Rise of the Kage" - the boardgame by GCT Studios (the makers of Bushido).  This stand alone game (with a single supplement) is set in the  Jwar Isles and pits the shadowy Kaze Kage ninjas against the ruling family - The Prefecture of Ryu.

This was perfect! RotK is played with the Prefecture guarding a Manor House (or dockyards or artisan district depending on which board you use) and the ninjas trying to infiltrate and complete a mission before escaping into the night, before the general alarm is raised.  The ninjas use a combination of stealth and force to achieve their objectives and rely on the shadows to keep them from the blades of the guards.

I simply replaced the ninjas with the Kitsune and Kyuubi and away I went.... 

Of course it wasn't that easy! I needed to make some simple adaptations. The game requires 3 ninjas and I had two Yokai, however one of those Yokai could assume two forms - whoop! whoop!

So I assigned each form to one of the ninja profiles in the game.  Although the Kitsune could only be in one form at any given time, she could freely choose between the forms by sacrificing a movement point.  The fox form would be the most stealthiest, taking on the Shizuki role and in the humanoid form much more fighty! so she would become Katsumi. Kyuubi would be somewhere in the middle - a balance of force and stealth and take on the Yuto role.

Now I needed to find a mission that suited the scenario that I wanted to play.  Our foxy friends would be sowing dissention and planting false flags.  As there was no such mission, I had to come up with my own.  So my vulpine virtuosos would need to collect objectives (the numbered triangular markers in the photo below) and have a set of 4 of one colour out of the 4  available colours.  In order to collect an objective, the kanny (yes I know) kitsunes would need to roll either force or stealth dice, matching the number shown on the top to reveal either a coloured marker or a trap, traps will not count as a set/colour but do count toward the number of objectives gained. Additionally they must collect the chest marker (Kyuubi's price) Once the required number and type of objectives have been gained they will need to roll against the mission number, which for this game will be (10).  This means that the nefarious ninjas need to roll a d6 and add the result to the number of objectives they have, if this total matches 10 then the Ro-Kan rogues will have completed the mission and must escape via the randomly drawn escape point.

In the photo below I've added (badly) some coloured circles around objects of interest.  Most importantly is the blue circle - the chest, forming part of the mission it is crucial to the ninja side winning! However it is in a room with multiple closed doors, one of which has a bell on it - green circle.  The yellow circle is a lamp and this increases the "area of influence" for the guards, allowing them to spot ninjas (kitsunes) from further distances.  The red circles are the barracks, these are where extra guards including more powerful guards will deploy from.

The ordinary guards have been deployed, there are ten of them and they are all "unalerted" at present.

The guards, all fat and lazy are unalerted

And unpainted - eugh!
 The pic below shows the stat line for the Kitsune in fox form.  Black stat line and black dice are her stealth dice and white her force, this shows her penchant for sneakiness.

Kyuubi's card shows his balance between stealth and force, I drew two random equipment cards and got shuriken, giving him a ranged attack and sacred sword, allowing him to ignore the special armour card should the guards draw it.

Kitsune in humanoid form is a lot more fighty and gets more force dice.  I also drew a Kusarigama card for her which will allow her to fight multiple opponents.

For this game I decided I wanted to use Lady Oka as the guard boss, as I had her painted up for my Prefecture Bushido faction and I love the miniature.  For the guards I chose Tesaki for yellow alert, Yoriki for amber alert and Lady Oka can only have Machi-bugyo for red alert.

She does get to activate Shinobu the Akita dog during amber alert.

With all the board laid out and the guards chosen I set up my two Kitsunes. with Kyuubi (K)deploying in the cherry trees at the front of the Manor House and Kitsune in Fox Form (FF) deploying in the zen garden at the side.

and that's where I'll leave it until next time.  The AAR will be written in my narrative style but with some rules being placed in the captions of photos, so as not to interrupt the flow of the story.

hope you enjoy

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Jwar Tales - Kitsune (part 1)

With the slightest rustling of the dry autumn leaves, the foliage parted .  A soft, black nose twitched as it pushed through the undergrowth, analysing the tiniest scents for hidden dangers. Finding none, the nose was followed by a slender, white muzzle topped with a reddish brown fur and flashing amber eyes that darted into every shadowy hiding place in the deep forest.  Satisfied that she was alone, the small vixen slunk into the clearing and darted toward the clear waters of the babbling brook that split the twisted trees of the old woods.  Quickly she dipped her sleek head and lapped at the cool, sweet liquid, closing her eyes momentarily at the relief provided by the spring water.

A brief flicker of shadow was the only warning she had, although it was all she really needed! Like lightning she bunched her haunches and sprang to the side as the razor sharp blade of a katana split the log she had been sat upon. Bowled over by the speed of the attack, the fox  rolled to her feet and bared her needle-like teeth in a threatening growl at her attacker, expecting another slash from the deadly weapon.  The figure before her was swathed in a billowing, yet threadbare cloak the colour of smoke.  Hood pulled low over it's face, her attacker stood in a slightly stooped posture, that masked it's true height.  The rest of it's clothing was just as ragged as it's cloak with drab brown trews and a woodland green tunic.  A barking laugh caused her to snort in frustration as she finally recognised her opponent...

Drawing on her Ki, the Kitsune grew quickly in size, standing upright on her rear legs until she fully transformed into her humanoid form.  Swift as a viper's tongue she drew her twin blades and leapt forward, pressing them against the ruddy brown furred neck of the male as he was drawing the hood back from his foxy face. 

"Easy sister, you are in my home remember" the male - Kyuubi snarled, drawing blackened lips over his sharp canine teeth.  

"and not invited either, I might add." he emphasised with an angry swipe of his heavier weapon. 

"In fact, I believe you were told, quite pointedly not to return under pain of death!"  He finished with a sudden dash at the female, his katana leading the way.

Unfazed, the Kitsune stood her ground, the tip of Kyuubi's sword a hair's breadth from parting her breast. 

"Enough of the theatrics brother!" she snapped.  "Save it for the elders, they love a good performance..."

With a shrug, the male Yokai slowly sheathed his weapon and eased back from the fiery female. Not willing to provoke his volatile sibling but not yet ready to concede defeat, he turned quickly, causing his cloak to billow out like a storm cloud, catching her sensitive nose with the edge of the coarse fabric.

The Kitsune bit her tongue to stifle the sharp retort that threatened to escape.  She needed her brother and his skills if she was going to help Akari and his monks restore the Balance.  Sighing loudly she stalked after Kyuubi, calling after the male before he disappeared into the woods.

"Peace brother" she pleaded, "The Balance is at risk, I need your aid"

Hidden in the recess of his hood, Kyuubi's fox-like muzzle split into a teeth filled grin as he pictured the coming storm, what mischief they would make once more. It would be just like old times!

hope you enjoy