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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Stunning Beauty Chronicles, part 8 (WHoOG)

It's time to summarize a few more sessions. Link to the previous update.

Last time, we realized it's time to begin the long path to Bone Kingdom. But first, we had to gather some entourage.
We signaled the Two-Timing Cockerel that the Jade Maidens are here. He went to talk to "the beautiful one", Zhun Bo, and returned thoughtful. "She's in love with someone", he said, being an expert in love matters, "but her sister Zheng Di is also beautiful".
My wife went to talk to Zhun Bo, because she was curious. When she returned, she shared her observation that the Jade Maiden's tone changed when she was speaking of Brother Wolf.
And she had asked her if she'd like to come and help us on a mission that might help Brother Wolf. She said she could destroy any magic items she finds!
(Pay attention: any items we find are obviously not found by her).

The next morning, both Zhun Bo and Zheng Di were ready to depart. Another person we didn't expect was also with us.
The Well-Kept Lion!
My wife sneaked into Brother Wolf's fortress and told Mirror Boy to come with us. And she committed arson, destroying the room with the mirror, and breaking another mirror to leave charred remains behind.

She barely arrived, and Brother Wolf's student - the hald-deaf one with white-streaked hair - caught up with us. She also wanted to join.
Did she hope we'd find a way to heal her? Or was she just bored? We didn't inquire, and just offered her a place in our column.

Soon after, we had a double marriage (presided by the Righteous Scholar - also known as "my pen-pal" - with me assissting him). Two-Timing Cockerel married the witch's daughter that we'd found in the village (see the previous update) and Big Sister married the Well-Kept Lion.
We kinda had helped to arrange this... Like, we noticed he is talking a lot with her, and both are almost equally tall.
"Well-Kept Lion, what do you think of Biggest Sister? She's a servant of the clan now, and we look after our own!"
"She's nice! I can grapple with her without breaking her."
"Care to marry her? You'd make a good husband for her - you're tall enough. But if you don't, I should keep looking - she needs a good, tall one that she wouldn't look at from above...too much!"
"It's a bit sudden..."
"Sure, just let me know before we reach the next village."
He went to talk to Biggest Sister. Then the two asked me to add them to the ceremony, which is how we had a double marriage.

I know my wife discussed life, philosophy and the future plans with her niece, Two-Timing Cockerel's daughter. I guess it was a lively discussion, because at some point, they left and returned with their clothes in relative disarray. Nothing surprising for the Silken Robe Society...or for any other xia clan: for those of you with a mind in the gutter, the two had fought, not f...
Oh, and I'm proud to announce that my wife had won.
I also hear she had sparred with one of the Jade Maidens (surprisingly, Zheng Di - the calmer one that's not in love with anyone...yet). How or why this happened, I'm not sure at all. I guess it was another discussion (she mentioned something about discussing family and the uses of magic items, but I wasn't interested in the content).

I'm just proud to announce that so far, Stunning Beauty Team had scored a 2:0 in the spars.
Me? I almost sparred Zheng Di, too (and only learned about my wife's spar later), after we discussed their sect's policy on marriage and progeny - namely, they support celibacy and adopt homeless children, who grow as "adopted by the sect". While I agree with the latter part, it seems to me that this isn't properly Dehuan: without the children being adopted in a family, who would take care of their ancestors' spirits after they pass away?
We do have our own practices in Silk Robe Society, yes - but those practices in no way prevent us from doing the right thing. My brothers and sisters, for example, receive a monthly donation since I've been rich enough to afford it, and my venerable parents receive a greater one.
For some reason, however, Zheng Di took my philosophical objections as an attempt to persuade her to do something about it. I was trying to have a discussion, dammit! I mean, I know the Two-Timing Cockerel is likely going to pick her up, make her fall in love, and marry her - he's got practice.
What I really wanted to see was how her views would change after that! But to do that, I needed to know what her views are now.
Screw her (not literally). She was so unconcerned with politeness that I almost considered getting rude* without a formal challenge! Then I considered issuing a formal challenge - though I don't believe power proves anything (or else, Da Su Su would be in the right...which is impossible for someone as stupid as her).
And then my displeasure with her manners took over, and I simply left with a "ok, I guess we're on the same side, at least - we'll keep our side of the deal**, no need to . Been avoiding her since then, too - which means I've been hanging out with Mirror Boy and the Righteous Scholar (both of which would be on the Jade Maidens "to kill" list, if they knew those two are actually magic items and not humans).

One day, Mirror Boy found a path in the forest. Well, he didn't really find it...he could only sense it, and only with his eyes closed.
Luckily, it happened when me and my wife were nearby, so he told us so. We put hands over his eyes and he lead us in the a girl that looked great. The boy looked her with his mouth wide open, which reminded me I had to give him a bees-and-birds speech, and explain why women are necessary for procreation of humans and how that works, exactly (remember - technically Mirror Boy only has a father...though I have my own theories).
We followed the path, and found a fox demon. She offered to take some of our power, and an epic battle followed, in which... we captured her. (With the help of TTC - Mirror Boy ran to call his daddy...literally).
Then we made her an offer, because my wife wanted a fox pet. Regular nourishment for service (it doesn't kill people with our level of kung-fu)...or a honour place in my wife's rack, in her new guise as "fox skin".
No, fox demons don't get fair treatment as prisoners. And that's my wife's good side, anyway...
Foxy almost ran away, but being curious, she returned. And in the end, she agreed to our conditions, giving us a vow. We, in turn, vowed to chase her to the end of the Middle Kingdom and beyond, should she renege on her vows.
More importantly, in the cave - a former temple of some "phoenix" sect - we found some wall paintings showing a secret Phoenix technique.
We had Righteous Scholar copying it, and then we did our best to destroy the entry to the temple.

Later, my wife had a discussion about life, the universe, and fate - with Zheng Di. Sister Fox was mentioned, and Zheng Di mentioned the possibility that it might be that her fate is to die from this poison. She also pointed out that Brother Wolf is killing people in order to prolong his sister's life.
My wife returned in a hurry, got a horoscope reading, and found out that yes, indeed, Sister Fox was fated to die by the poison. Only the Life-Preserving Stone had prevented it for so long.
So my wife sent Foxy to steal the stone from Brother Wolf.
The fox returned with the stone.
Multiple lives had been saved. But Sister Fox was going to die at the end of the month. Such is life.
Me? I was glad I didn't have to make that decision myself - she only announced it in retrospect, as my PC is her PC's husband.

*In the wuxia sense of "getting rude", also known as "applying boot to the butt".
**As mentioned in the previous episode, my wife actually concluded it in such a way that we don't need to help them find magic objects.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Musings after reading World of Gor and Tales of Gor

I have nothing but good words about the World of Gor. It is an almost invaluable* the world-setting as presented in the novels. Period. No objections on it.
I have, so far (I haven't read it to the end, but I'm close) one objection on Tales of Gor. (As an aside, do you know how often I have that few objections? It's an amazing feat that Desborough's book only provokes that few objections from me).

What is that one thing that I disagree with?
"Only the Panni** have systematized unarmed combat. The rest of Goreans rely on (natural ability)". I might be paraphrasing it slightly.
But this contradicts the books - in many, many places.
First, it is known that even peasants practice wrestling. Wrestling is always the first systematized style to emerge wherever humans live, but rarely remains the only one, unless the practitioners wear heavy armour (not the case on Gor). And given how many empty-handed styles have evolved from the use of weapons, it just makes no sense to me.

Second, the fighting slaves are mentioned to be "the real masters of unarmed combat" on Gor. Who trains them? (Hint: probably warriors, if they're lucky). And I can't believe the Caste of Assassins would have overlooked the use of such techniques to quickly subdue and kill a target that's hard to reach with weapons - say, a rich Merchant.

Third, Tarl and others repeatedly show quite high levels of mastery of the unarmed combat in the series. Here's an example I found in Magicians of Gor.
"I seized one of the lads by the wrist and, drawing him quickly across and about my body, and over my extended right leg, flung him to the stones, where I held him, my grip shifted now to the palm of his hand, his wrist bent, far back. He screamed with pain. Another fraction of a hort, the least additional pressure, and his wrist would be broken."
That's a move that's well-known to everybody who has ever trained in martial arts. But I don't remember Tarl having been a fighting slave - and anyway, he was doing such moves after the first time he was on Gor, while exiled on Earth.
Another example is at the end of the books where an Earthman brought to Gor obtains freedom (after being a Fighting Slave...sorry for not digging the exact title, but I can guess it was Something of Gor).
There's a moment when a group discusses killing a man empty-handed. One of the men gathered says something like "maybe, but only if you're very strong".
An Warrior corrects him: "It doesn't require strength, just skill".
The former Fighting Slave merely nods and confirms.

Thus, I'd conjecture that unarmed combat should be an option for both Warriors and Peasants, not to mention Assassins (and former Fighting Slaves). Though of course, weapon skills should be higher and more valuable - but one can hope the fighting system itself would take care of that!

That aside, I admit I'm tempted to produce a table for Gorean Chess. It sure seems to have...unexpected possibilities!

*Well, technically, I know exactly how much it's worth - just check the price on Drivethru;). But if you plan to run this game, you really want the setting book.
**Japanese transplanted on Gor.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The story of my Exaltation

That's about my current character, the Patrician of the Realm (in Exalteds's...
Last session he got Exalted. As the GM put it, "you can't get any better as Solar material than that" (Solars are Exalted by the head of the setting's pantheon, the most powerful god of them all - and are thus the most powerful Exalted. She thinks they're also the most arrogant...which I wouldn't dispute).
How did I prove myself arrogant enough to get Exalted (after quite a few sessions of play)? By negotiating, believe it or not!

It was a good negotiation with Fair Folk. These are, in Exalted, the kind of "fairies" you see in old tales - the kind that come, charm you, steal your soul, and age your body beyond repair;).
Then they make a tale about it, because Fair Folk are creatures of tales.
Now, one you have a picture of the Fair Folk in mind, imagine meeting old, powerful Fair Folks which were powerful enough that decades ago to have captured a Lunar Exalt, chosen by the second greatest goddess out there. (How did I know that? Well, that's the Lunar that had accompanied me to that place, as she had volunteered to guard me - I'm starting to think she's developing a thing for me...)
Imagined those Fair Folk? Good.
Those are the Fair Folk I negotiated with from the position of strength.
Before becoming an Exalted myself - remember, I was still an unproven mortal.
After transgressing on their turf, which - in that area - would grant them "rights" over my soul.
Insolence, you say? It's part of the genre!
Hey, the very reason we were there was totally S&S: my mentor in sorcerous arts sent me to harvest the poison of a ancient god-snake as big as several houses. We were in the process - the god-snake didn't mind, as nothing less than a deer counted as worthy of his menu, and he likes when people use his poison to make medicine - when the Fair Folk came.

Thing this place, the mortals live on the huge trees, hundreds of meters high. The Fair Folk and undead, by ancient contract, don't go up - but anyone who gets down, can be freely feasted upon.
As they put it after appearing at midnight, "by an ancient contract, you're ours - but please amuse us, we're willing to listen to your pleading..."
Me: "Well, I'm rich. I can buy 10 slaves and lower them to you here, or 20 slaves".
"An unscrupulous one? I like that! Let's negotiate."
"...but for 20 slaves, you make a volt-face, leave, and make sure we're not disturbed by anyone else in the next two days and nights".
I was willing to suffer their presence in the vicinity for the next couple of days.
And, as I pointed out to them, they can kill me in unimaginably awful ways, or they can get 10 or 20 other souls to feed on in the same way.
"She alone is worth more than that", they said, pointing to my Lunar companion.
"You don't stand a chance to catch her, anyways."
"We had captured her already. Didn't she tell you?"
"When was that?"
As it turned out, 50 or 60 years ago. The Exalted live for much longer.
My character had been around Exalted (Dragon-Blooded Exalted, but still) his whole life. He just smirked, knowing that in 50 years, an Exalted martial artist, like the Lunar, can go from initiate to master.
"Good luck capturing her again. Anyways, I'm negotiating for myself - she can climb those trees back faster than you can imagine, I've seen it. So, what's your word?"
Basically, I got them to the point where they wanted the slaves, and they wanted me. Decision points...
So the solution of the fair folk lady was to try and seduce me to give them both. With loads of Willpower, I resisted - much to her dismay - though she was tempting, and my character does like seductive women like her.
Of course, I knew she could just decide to take my soul anyway. So my rejection was formulated in the language of stories.
"No, much as you're's still a no. Though it's tempting!"
"Then why don't you come?"
"Ah, but consider what the story would be: I met a beautiful fair folk lady, and we fucked in the forest. Sounds like a young buck vaunting his exploits! Boring! But then, consider instead this story: I came across a beautiful woman of the Fair Folk, seductive as a dream, who wanted me for her bed - but despite me wanting her as well, we could never do that, for the mortals are too different. So we separated, still longing for each other...Now, that's a story! It speaks of wishes unfulfilled, of burning lust and desire left unsatisfied - because of higher reasons. It is a tragedy to the participants, and hints at deeper truths and plot devices at work, and yes, maybe, of a continuation!"
She was instantly sold, and thus the negotiation concluded;).
And when they left, I was feeling great, excited and powerful, while the Lunar almost had to pick her jaw off the grass.
Not the least, because I was shining in gold.
With the colours, and caste mark, of the Swords of the Dawn.
My laughter erupted. I went after the Fair Folk, and used that surge of power, such as I haven't felt since then, to kill the hobgoblins guards of the Fair Folk Nobles, to break off the man's hands and legs, and knock the lady out. I brought them back.
I had noticed the Lunar felt all tense just by seeing them.
"Was any of them displeasing towards you during your captivity, dear?"
"He most certainly was!"
I handed her my knife, handle first.
"Start cutting him. If you cut him too little, I'll finish him off."
She took her time, and he was dead at the end. In the meantime, I bound the woman before she would wake, and spoke with the ancient god about myself.
What was I now?
Was I really the incarnation of an all-powerful sorceror who would destroy my soul, as the Immaculate Monks had taught me?
Should I suicide?
"In all fights, the history is written by the victors, do you not know? The ones that lost are always guilty!"
Of course, being a Patrician, I'd seen that already, Dragon-Blooded Exalted brethren had no qualms about acting like that in front of me.
"Some of them were mad. Others were still kind, and caring", was the ancient god's verdict. "It's up to you what you would become".
In a way, that made it even harder to decide what to do next.