Striking the tiger's tail

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This scenario was written some time ago, perhaps for possible inclusion in the Unspoken Word fanzine. However, it quickly grew too large for inclusion there. It then languished on my hard disk for a while until I finally decided to post the outline of the scenario here.

Benchmarks

This episode is designed for characters whose best ability is around 10W. It involves physical combat, subterfuge, and ritual magic. Most or all of the heroes should be able to speak Kralori.

Summary

The heroes travel to a small village in the western Shan Shan mountains to investigate rumours of massacres. They find the village deserted, but ally with some neighbouring deer hsunchen. They track down a group of Tong enforcers only to find that they are not responsible for the attacks. The heroes learn that a renegade Huan To is behind everything. Realising the Huan To's plans to invade Kralorela with a huge ghoul army are about to come to fruition, they devise a ritual to defeat him and infiltrate his fortress. The heroes are captured, escape, avoid hordes of ghouls, and break into the Huan To's inner sanctum. They chase the Huan To though the catacombs below the fortress while they debate the nature of good and evil. He is eventually defeated and the heroes destroy his main magical focus, causing the ghouls to die and the fortress to collapse. The invasion thwarted, the heroes return to Kralorela and receive their reward.

Backstory

The massacres are caused by Shia Shan Gua, a Huan To trying to build up an army of ghouls to attack Kralorela. However, his hatred of Kralorela has overtaken him and he is acting before he is ready. He has murdered his master and stolen a powerful magical artefact from his sponsoring Tong, and is using it to control and stabilise the ghouls. He need only complete one last ritual and he can launch his attack. He is, however, having second thoughts, and the Tong want to extract revenge.

Designer Notes or It's Not Really That Linear

Although this scenario is presented in a very linear fashion, it retains a great deal of flexibility to accommodate all those unusual plans that player heroes come up with. Acts I and III are fairly linear: Act I because it simply gets the heroes to the scenario proper in Plot Turn I, and Act III because, starting from Plot Turn II, the heroes know what to do, and just need to do it. On the other hand, Act II has very flexible structure. The only fairly fixed point is the Midpoint, which marks the time at which the heroes stop being reactive and become proactive. It also represents the false goal that the heroes are initially working towards. The summaries in the other scenes show the purpose of each scene, and those scenes should be used as and when dramatically appropriate.

Act I: Introduction

Scene 1: Prologue (Cut Scene): Shinuan Village

Summary: Ghouls attack and wipe out a village in the Shan-Shan mountains.

Give the players new characters, who are ex-pat Kralori villagers: the Headman, a Farmer or two, Housewives, cute children. Have them working in the fields, tending the cooking, doing chores, etc. Don't let them know the name of the village. Then, a large body of ghouls will appear from the surrounding rocky mountain slopes and attack the village. Describe the ghouls only by appearance (obviously dead, like the best "Living Dead" zombies). Have the players try to defend the village against the ghouls, and perhaps destroy a couple. Have villagers attacked by ghoul spirits, be possessed, and then attack their former neighbours. Eventually, many villagers will be dead, and the rest corralled in some paddy fields or pigpens. Then, a palanquin will be carried into the village and all the ghouls turn to face it, then kow-tow before it. A clawed hand will appear on the door frame, and the door swings slowly open...

Scene 2: The introduction

Summary: The heroes are summoned by a mandarin, and given an offer they can't refuse.

The contents of this scene will vary, depending on who the Heroes are. The Kralori authorities will need to have some hold over the Heroes to persuade them to take the mission, in addition to the rewards promised.

If the Heroes are traders already in Kralorela, have them arrested by Kralori police on some trumped-up charge and placed in gaol. Then a Mandarin will come into their cell, and make them an offer they can't refuse.

If the Heroes are Kralori police or military, they will be summoned to see their superior, who will say they have been selected for a special, secret mission. They will then make their way to a large town in the foothills of the Shan-Shan mountains, near the Iron Forts.

Interleaving the Prologue and Scene 1

The dramatic tension can be increased by cutting between the Prologue and Scene 1. Cut between the action in the two places to highlight the similarities between the two scenes. Done properly, your players should be scared for their lives about meeting the mandarin.
The Villagers The Heroes
The villagers wake up for another ordinary day. The heroes wake up for another ordinary day.
The villagers head out to the fields and start to work The heroes open their market stall, or whatever is a normal day for them.
There is some commotion in the village as intruders are spotted. There is some commotion in the market as soldiers barge their way through.
The first ghouls leap from cover, howl, and rip the guts from a villager. The soldiers approach the heroes and inform them they are under arrest.
The villagers flee back to their village, pursued by ghouls. The heroes are escorted to the inner citadel.
Death and mayhem as the ghouls stream through the village, ripping villagers apart as they go. The heroes enter the citadel. Describe the forlorn looks they receive from ordinary Kralori, and the wretched state of the prisoners in the citadel.
The surviving villagers are rounded up into a makeshift corral. The heroes are pushed into a cell.
After a while, the villagers watch as the palanquin is carried towards them. "It's the master!" hisses one of the ghouls. After a while, guards collect the heroes from their cell. "The Mandarin will see you now," says one of the guards.
A clawed hand opens the palanquin door. One of the villagers screams in terror as they see what lies inside. The heroes are ushered into a plush room. Seated at the end is a man in fine robes. Most distinctive about him are his long, talon-like fingernails.
Villagers are strong-armed towards the palanquin, screaming, "No! For the sake of my eternal soul, no!" The mandarin gestures to the heroes. "Please be seated," he says.
However, if you don't think your players would appreciate this technique, don't use the Prologue scene. Instead, allow them time at the start of Scene 3 to discover what happened in the village, before getting them embroiled in the fight.

The tone of interview with the Mandarin, Li Xian, will depend on the impression made by the heroes (a Group Simple contest).

Make a good impression (14): Kralori customs, Eastern Customs (-3), Hero's Own Customs (-6) [Master Li knows enough of foreigners' ways to appreciate the correct sentiment], Complementary (-5).

All contests in this scene, including making a good impression, are subject to carryover, which reflects the general tone of the interview. If the heroes make a good impression, Master Li will stress the benefits of his 'proposal'; if they do not, he will stress the penalties he can impose.

Master Li will explain the situation: there have been rumours of Tong activity in the western Shan-Shan mountains. If true, there could be a danger to the Kralori nation, which must be addressed. The PCs are to discover the truth of this. If they accept, they will be richly rewarded. If they refuse, they will be persecuted in Kralorela. The precise nature of this persecution will vary, depending on the type of PCs involved. It could be confiscation of goods, taking of hostages, banning from Kralori lands, official disapproval of trading contacts, etc.

Master Li suggests they start their investigations in the village of Shinuan on the area in question. There they will meet an associate of his, Naiman Qi, who can provide them with more information. Master Li will give the heroes a letter of introduction to Master Naiman, and letters of passage to the Talon commanding the Iron Forts, instructing him to give the heroes appropriate assistance.

Heroes being heroes, this won't be enough to satisfy them: they will try to get more from Master Li.

Get a fuller explanation (2W2) or Be allocated more assistance (15W) or Increase the reward offered (2W): Persuade, Debate, Kralori Customs (-2), Bargain (-5).

Improvise the results of these contests. Try to keep the results of these contests small, as this is not the focus of the episode. Stress how Master Li's mood changes in response to the changes in carryover. If the heroes get too uppity, Li will resist their actions with his Will of Iron.

Li Xian, Kralori mandarin, member of the Coiled Dragon (Kralori secret service).
Appear Affable 2W, Cold Look 18, Will of Iron 2W2, Condescend 10W, Expect Obedience 10W, Kralori Customs 12W, Foreign Customs 5W2, Darudic Magic 15W.

Scene 2: Travel to Shinuan

Summary: The heroes travel to the village of Shinuan.

Don't dwell too much on the travel. The purpose of this scene is to get the heroes to Shinuan, where the fun can start. If the Heroes are in eastern Kralorela, simply describe the endless miles of paddy fields seen from their coach and the spartan inns they stay at. They are under discreet but competent guard the whole time. However, this time can be an opportunity for subplots, if your players are interested.

Wherever they start, the heroes will eventually arrive at one of the Iron Forts in the Broken Dragon pass in the Shan Shan mountains. As they approach the area, the land becomes less fertile with fewer and smaller farms; walls around them become sturdier. As they approach the fort, they feel a disturbance in the magical energies surrounding them. Any active magics falter before failing entirely. Theists will notice an emptiness in their being as their connection with the God Plane becomes attenuated. Animists will feel the pain experienced by their spirits and sense them retreat into their fetishes. Colours and sounds dull as the life-force of the world is suppressed. Magic becomes more difficult, rising to D + 80(*) as they enter the Fort itself. Any magic items that come into direct contact with the iron will crack or split and become forever useless.

The heroes' escort will give passwords to gain entry to the fort. The whole fort, passages, walls, and floors, is made from a single piece of iron. They pass through a series of gates and courtyards into the centre of the fort. Courteous but uncommunicative young guards escort the heroes to a small guest house just off the courtyard of the fort, and remain outside the door. All the interior furniture is made from iron, seamlessly joined to the floors or walls. A few cushions and blankets are the only concessions to comfort. A simple meal is brought, and the heroes can watch the bustle of patrols entering and leaving the fort.

After a few hours, a junior Talon will arrive and explain that the General commanding the fort has agreed to provide the heroes with native guides to Shinuan, and they are to leave immediately. There is one guide per three heroes waiting outside the guest house. The guides, of the Lo-Fak yak people, shoulder the heroes' equipment and the party leaves the fort.

It takes three days to walk across through the barren, rocky, and steep mountainsides to Shinuan. The going is rough, the footing loose, the water scarce, they days hot, and the nights cold. And throughout all this, the heroes have the suspicion that things are slightly more difficult than they need be. <pencil> This region of the Shan Shan is similar to the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush. The guides have stone and wood tools and are dressed in leather and furs, and are a sort of cross between cavemen and sherpas.

Native Lo-Fak guide
Carry Heavy Load 2W, Shan Shan Geography 8W, Forage 20, Scramble Over Rocks 18, Sneak 5W, Make Heroes' Lives Difficult In Small Ways 17, Enigmatic 18, Close Combat 18 (Spear ^3, Flint Knife ^1).

Scene 3 (Plot Turn I): Battle at Shinuan

Summary: The heroes explore Shinuan, are attacked from all sides, and eventually make an alliance with some neighbouring Dimali.

Setting Shinuan
The village of Shinuan is in the lower valley of one of the many rivers that flows down from the Shan Shan. It housed around 80 people in a number of communal houses made from the plentiful stones around, with heavy thatched roofs. The village is compact and protected by a dry stone wall the height of a man. The surrounding woodlands have been cleared for some fields for rice and other crops, and pens for pigs and buffalo. The river has been dammed to make fish ponds.

In the mid-morning, the heroes approach Shinuan, the only habitation they have seen since leaving the Iron Fort. But things are not as they seem.

Notice something odd about Shinuan (14): Farming, Household Management, Herding (-5), Observe (-5).

The greater the level of success, the earlier the heroes will realise that the village is deserted. There are no workers in the fields, no fires in the houses; no activity at all. If the heroes fail this test, they will not notice anything amiss until they enter the village.

The heroes will want to investigate. What happened in Shinuan is described in the prologue. If you played through this, mention it to the players now. If you didn't, you may want to use flashbacks to tell the story as they put the pieces together. An Ability Test of Tracking or similar ability will reveal a large number of human tracks heading up the side of the valley. No human bodies will be found anywhere.

Before the heroes have a chance to do anything about it, they are attacked by a group of Dimali warriors, who think the heroes (and the Lo-Fak) are responsible for the 'massacre'. .

Be aware of impending attack (5W, 18 if lookouts are on watch): Spot Danger, Scan Terrain (-3).

If the heroes win, they can organise themselves and perhaps attack or parley with the Dimali before they enter the village, or even leave the forest. If the Dimali win, they will have scaled the walls before the heroes notice them. If the heroes suffer a Major or Complete defeat, they won't notice anything until they receive the first arrow in the back.

After a few rounds of fun and mayhem, the Tong enforcers will attack, focussing on the heroes, as they think the heroes are working for Shia Shan Gua.

Allow confusion to reign for a while before the heroes can question people from the two groups and sort out what's going on. It shouldn't take them long to discover, and convince the Dimali, that they have a common enemy in the Tong enforcers (take a note of the approach used, and the success of, these attempts: it will colour how the heroes are received in Asquat). Once the enforcers realise the fight is going against them, they will change their objective to getting out of the village, leaving no-one behind (cheat outrageously to ensure this if you have to).

After the fight, the heroes retire to Asquat, the Dimali village, for rest and healing. The Lo-Fak guides should all be killed or incapacitated during this fight, perhaps by Dimali with a grudge.

Things that should happen during the fight
  • Someone on top of the surrounding wall should knock off someone else trying to climb over it. And someone else on the wall (or even the same person) should have their feet swept out from under them, knocking them off.
  • Double-takes by the Dimali and Tong enforcers as, while fighting the heroes, they realise they may be fighting the wrong people.
  • A hero chases a Dimali warrior down an alleyway, only to find a group of three Tong enforcers, who are attacking the Dimali and then start on the hero.
  • A Dimali seemingly coming from out of a wall after using a concealment spirit to hide himself Predator-style.
  • An enforcer back-flipping away from the sword stroke that would have gutted him.
Dimali Warrior (one per hero)
Leader: Tokmak
Tong Enforcer (three per two heroes)

Act II: Confrontation

Scene 1: Council at Asquat

Summary: The heroes return to Asquat and the village elders of their bona fides, and discuss what needs to happen next.

Setting - Asquat
Asquat is a small village about half a day's walk from Shinuan up the valley. It is a small village of 65 people and consists of a number of small, roughly built stone huts around a central clearing containing a large tree, from which hang many fetishes. Interspersed between the huts are small gardens where root vegetables, squashes, and beans are grown. There is no boundary to the village; the outlying huts are scattered into the surrounding scrubby woodlands. Typical Dimali names are Oytal, Ataloo, Kamur, Ezik, and Ashu.

Tokmak and his warriors escort the heroes up the valley towards Asquat, keeping a discreet guard over them. They follow the river through a mixture of open grassland, scrub, and occasional forests. As they climb, the ground becomes steeper and more barren. En route, the heroes are likely to ask the Dimali what they were doing in Shinuan:

Get along with the Dimali warriors (15, modified by events in Shinuan): Friendly, Storytelling, Boast (-3), Debate (-5), Hunting abilities (-8). Tokmak appreciates tales of derring-do, and disapproves of less active individuals.

Failure means the Dimali distrust these foreigners. Success increases the level of trust towards the heroes, and reveals more of the story. There have been rumours of increased Tong activity in the area recently, so the Asquat villagers have been on guard. Some hunters were in the area of Shinuan yesterday and noticed the strange tracks, so they gathered a force to investigate the village. When they saw the heroes, the Dimali assumed they were members of a Tong.

Just before nightfall, the party arrives in Asquat. The villagers view the heroes with some surprise: the warriors left to investigate, and have brought back strange foreigners. A great hubbub ensues, and the heroes are quickly brought toward the village elders to account for themselves.

Tokmak will tell the village of what happened in Shinuan, and what he thinks of the heroes. This speech will be in the native Dimali tongue, so the heroes will be probably not understand it, though they can can use appropriate abilities to gauge how well they are being received. When Tokmak has finished, Karakol, the village headman, will ask the heroes, in Kralori, to explain themselves and what they are doing in the area.

Persuade the village elders of their bona fides (18, modified by 'carryover' from Tokmak's speech, 64AP, defensive ^4): Persuade, Storytelling, Debate (-3), Dimali customs (-5), Convince Buyer (-5).

This contest could be run as an extended contest. There are four elders (Karakol plus three 'followers'). The village elders' defensive edge is due to the villagers (and probably the heroes) speaking in their second language. This edge can be countered by the heroes augmenting their abilities with appropriate communication abilities (such as Speak With Hands or Interpret Spoken Language).

If the heroes fail in this contest, they will remain under guard in the village before being told to leave. A complete failure will mean the Dimali will attempt to murder the heroes in their sleep. A Marginal success will mean the heroes are treated as guests but are not involved in the elders' discussions of what to do next. Higher levels of success ensure the heroes are invited to participate in the discussions.

Sample arguments from the elders
  • The Tongs always lie. How do we know you're not lying when you say your against the Tongs?
  • You say you were fighting the Tongs, but it was a strange fight that resulted in your enemy escaping unscathed.
  • Why were you travelling with those good-for-nothing Lo-Fak?
  • We never trust the Dragon-people over the mountains: they never tell the truth. You say you are working for them?

Once the elders have discussed the heroes, the villagers will decide what to do next. Opinion is divided in the village. Karakol speaks for the elders and most of the other villagers in doing little more than remaining vigilant and allowing the heroes to go on their way. Tokmak speaks for the hunters and the more hot-headed villagers in pursuing the Tong enforcers and eliminating the problem. A discussion follows between the two sides.

Karakol (Starting APs = 45)
Reasoned Argument 10W, Cautious 5W, Wisdom of Age 2W.
Tokmak (Starting APs = 25)
Boast 20, Hotheaded 2W, Appeal to Honour 3W.

The starting APs reflect the relative size of the two factions. The heroes can enter the debate on whichever side they want to: more fun will be had with some heroes on both sides of the argument. Each hero will add 1/10 (round down) of their most appropriate ability to the APs of the side they join. Add 3 APs if the heroes won a Complete success against the elders just before, and subtract 1 if they won only a Minor success.

Reduce your workload: get a player to roleplay each of Karakol and Tokmak through the debate, with the other players making additional comments for their heroes.

It is likely that Karakol's faction will win, and the villagers will go to sleep. However, during the dead of night, Tokmak and a few warriors will sneak out of the village to hunt down the Tong enforcers. If the heroes particularly impressed Tokmak, he may creep into their hut and invite them with his group. The villagers will not realise anyone is missing until the next morning. One of the very young men will say that Tokmak tried to persuade him to go with Tokmak, but he was too frightened. The village elders, remembering the stories told of the fight at Shinuan, fear that the Tong enforcers will defeat Tokmak and his group, and ask the heroes to lead a party to reinforce or rescue them.

Scene 2: Ambush!

Summary: Hothead Dimali youths are ambushed by the Tong, but learn that they are vulnerable to misdirection.

The heroes must organise the party they are to lead. The best warriors and hunters have gone with Tokmak, leaving the gatherers, the youngesters, and the elders behind. The heroes must persuade the villagers to follow them: Persuade the villagers to join the expedition (18): Persuade, Dimali Customs (-5), Enthusiastic (-8).

Complete success: 10 villagers follow the heroes.
Major success: 6 villagers.
Minor success: 4 villagers.
Marginal success, tie, marginal failure: 2 villagers.
Minor failure: No-one follows the heroes, but they receive supplies.
Major failure: No-one goes with the heroes.
Complete failure: Not only do no villagers accompany the heroes, the elders blame the heroes for the situation and require hostages or valuable artefacts to be left behind as surety.
Treat the villagers as Followers with abilities of Local Knowledge 18 and Hunter 15.

The best trackers have gone with Tokmak, but nevertheless it is easy to follow their trail across the valley. It doesn't take too long to realise that they are heading to meet the trail that was seen leaving Shinuan. As they begin to climb out of the last patch of woodland on the far side of the valley, the heroes make out the sounds of a fight. If the heroes succeed at a Sneak ability test, they can observe what is going on.

Just along the edge of the patch of woodland, near a small stream, Tokmak and this band are fighting the Tong enforcers last seen in Shinuan. The enforcers have the better of the situation. Four of the nine Dimali warriors are already out of the fight, and the enforcers are using their movement abilities to keep the Dimali off balance and to strike at the warriors protecting their fallen comrades. The initial position is Tokmak and allies: 5 people, Ranged Combat 16 (5W-9 for multiple attackers) 50AP; Enforcers: 12 people, Leaping Combat 19W, 130AP. Allow the heroes to discuss their plans and augment their abilities, but all the while describe the ongoing fight and the damage being suffered by Tokmak.

When the heroes do join the fight, they should be able to turn the tide. As at Shinuan, once the enforcers realise the situation is going badly for them, they will change their objective to leave the scene, taking all their comrades with them.

After calm returns, a number of the Dimali are Injured and most are Hurt. Everyone needs to return to Asquat for healing and recuperation. On the way back, Tokmak will describe what happened. As the Dimali were coming out of the woodlands, they were ambushed by the enforcers and never really had a chance to recover from that initial shock. "They fight like devils!" Tokmak will say. The only respite they had was when ... (* which of the Four Vices to use? *)

Scene

Preparing tactics for the defeat of the Tong enforcers

Scene (Pinch I)

Tracking down and defeating the Tong enforcers.

Midpoint

The PCs have found the Tong hideout, and attack to prevent them wiping out any more villages. However, they should capture a prisoner who will reveal the true story: that the Tong people are there to destroy the Huan To, and they think the PCs are the Huan To's allies.

The focus now shifts to finding the Huan To's hideout, and magical preparations of how to defeat him.

Scene

Predicting where the Huan To will strike next. Use of various ritual conjunctions to do this.

Scene

Being where the predicted strike will occur, and nothing happening. Realisation that this is now the final run up to the big ritual.

Scene

Preparation of ritual object to defeat Huan To's warding and get into his inner sanctum.

Scene

Discovery of the location of Huan To's lair.

Scene (Pinch II)

Infiltration of the Huan To's base.

Scene (Plot Turn II)

Heroes are captured by the Huan To. Also include his exposition monologue, including using the heroes' entrails as omens to be read at the next dawn. If he discovers the ritual object needed to defeat him, he lets slip where it is kept.

Act III: Resolution

The Heroes are inside the Huan To's lair, a large village with a maze of streets and buildings, and a collection of tunnels and caves below. The ghoul army is nearing completion, with large numbers of slavering ghouls kept penned up in the warehouses. If he is not stopped, the ghouls will be released and will ravage the lands around, heading over the mountains towards the heart of Kralorela.

The PCs can also discover the use of talismans to identify legitimate inhabitants of the Huan To's lair. They can steal some of these, and use them to infiltrate the lair, only to be discovered at some point.

Setting The Huan To's village
This is a large fortified village, with many stone buildings in the centre, including some warehouses. There are also caves and tunnels in the rock below. Stairs lead up and down the insides and outsides of the houses. Many alleyways are covered, and it is often easier to go from place to place across the rooftops, which have defined alleyways across them.

Scene 1: Escape

The climactic scene will involve the Heroes running through the village, being attacked by and defeating ghouls, to break into the Huan To's inner sanctum.

The PCs will start by having to escape from their cell and defeat the ghoul guards. Then can then run through the village, searching for the inner sanctum and the HT.

Hints for running this extended chase
Some actions are just too useful to pass up. Typical things occurring in this scene are:
  • Chasing a couple of ghouls down a corridor, only to turn a corner to be confronted by a horde of ghouls in a large room.
  • Having to cross a narrow wall between two courtyards, both filled with hordes of slavering ghouls.
  • Coming across a fellow prisoner, only to discover that he is now a ghoul.

Scene 2

Once in the inner sanctum, the Huan To will escape into the catacombs below the village. The SDMP is in the inner sanctum, but protected by a crystal dome. The PCs will need to keep the ghoul army out while they hunt him down. Run this as an extended contest: the HT's actions will be to debate the nature of good and evil with the PCs. If any are defeated, they will question their own moral code, and express interest in Sekeveran. Eventually, the HT will be tracked down (defeated) and will appear back in his inner sanctum. His body will then explode in a soundless blast of white light, leaving only his exoskeleton behind. The PCs can then destroy the SDMP.

The HT's arguments will be like extreme libertarianism and communism (Trotskyite?):

  • Property is theft
  • Leaders exist solely to preserve their own position
  • Why should individuals give up their rights to the use of force?

This will cause all the ghouls to immediately decay and die. It will also cause the inner sanctum and catacombs to rumble and start to collapse. The PCs must then escape the village before it all becomes ruined.

Epilogue (Optional)

A hsunchen woman gives birth to a baby boy. As she does so, there is a flash of white light, and a shout from the village's guards of a bandit attack. The baby screams, to reveal its forked tongue...

Characters

Shia Shan Gua: The Huan To

He is an ambitious and headstrong young Tong member. He saw an opportunity to kill his mentor and steal his magical artefacts. Using these has turned him into a Huan To, though he has little idea of the finer points of Sekeveran philosophy. He is hunted by the others in his Tong gang.

He is attempting to raise a ghoul army, using the Claw of the Straining Heart to stabilise them, to attack Kralorela. He knows this will be suicidal, but he has little idea of what else to do.

Abilities
Grimoires

The Shinuan Villagers (temporary PCs)

The Claw of the Straining Heart: The Strange Device of Mystic Power

This is an artefact that allows the ghouls to remain stable, without the need to constantly feed and possess corpses. This allows for a much larger ghoul force than otherwise.

Inspiration

The main motivation for this plot came from a reading from the I Ching, which indicated hexagram 53, with line 3 moving. The movement from hexagram 53 to hexagram 20 provided the movement in the plot.

Hexagram 53
Chien (Gradual Progression)
A man advances from a lesser position to one to which he is better suited. Suitable time is taken for this advancement.
Line 3: He is headstrong, and apt to make a wrong decision. He alienates himself from those close to him.
Hexagram 20
Kuan (Contemplation)
A great and gentle ruler who inspires others with his example. His preparation for a pious act inspires onlookers to follow him on the path of virtue.
Line 3: He is uncertain of his position, and is unsure whether to advance or retreat. He must stop and reflect to find the right choice.

The three-act structure is a standard for screenwriting, and its use for dramatist scenario construction is advocated in the Theatrix role-playing game.