An adventure for Feng Shui by Allen Varney
Premise: A lovestruck Shaolin monk from 1850 journeys to the contemporary juncture to rescue the warrior woman he loves from an evil sorcerer. The PCs choose sides and fight.
The Twist: The warrior woman is a dead ringer for a celebrity pop singer involved with the PCs.
The Climax: Everyone fights it out on Kai Tak Airport's Runway One during a typhoon. Yes, really.
Shaolin Monastery, 1850. Three monks walk in the courtyard.
Hyun Chang: (Young warrior-monk in white robes. Tall, lean, shaven, glassy-eyed.) I cannot stop thinking of her. I meditate, and her heavenly eyes appear before me. Her full lips --
Elder Brother Tzu-Yeh: (Deputy abbot of respected age. Drooping black mustache, intemperate manner, rotund in white robes.) Yes, yes, we take your meaning.
The Revered Master Ssu-ma Niu: (Age unknowable. Short, garbed in simple robes, arms hidden in voluminous sleeves. Glittering eyes, serene smile.) May one ask how so diligent a monk deserted his practice and became smitten, like a drunken poet?
Hyun Chang: I rode into the mountains to bring medicines to a party ambushed by bandits. The bandits themselves ambushed me. I dispatched six, but the others overcame me. Then from the trees above came a musical shout, and she swept down --
Tzu-Yeh: A "musical shout"!
Ssu-ma Niu: Peace, brother, passion colors his memory. So this warrior woman rescued you, brother?
Hyun Chang: And then she stared into my eyes, and I into hers. In that moment I glimpsed the higher meditative states, or perhaps even nirvana --
Tzu-Yeh: You fell into a senseless infatuation, the opposite of clear perception. Now that this woman, this Kam Li, has passed into the Netherworld, note how your attachment provokes suffering. Reflect on --
Ssu-ma Niu: May the deputy abbot delay his worthy lesson a moment longer? What took Kam Li to the Netherworld?
Hyun Chang: I learned this from one of the surviving bandits. She pursued their employer, a detestable Cambodian sorcerer named Phanom Rung. He had stolen a stone of some kind that would harness powerful magic, depending on how long it lay underground. So he buried it in the foothills, then journeyed forward to the Hong Kong of the next century --
Tzu-Yeh: -- a lawless city, maddened by greed and luxury --
Hyun Chang: -- where he would uncover the stone, now grown rich in power. Kam Li followed him to prevent this. But she has been gone a week now, and her absence worries me deeply. To think of that fair woman, fallen prey to a ruthless and evil magician, her beautiful head drooping limply on her shapely neck --
Ssu-ma Niu (cutting him short): A tragedy, yes. Tell me, brother, do you know the nature of this stone?
Hyun Chang: I know only its name -- the Stone of Roaring Winds.
Ssu-ma Niu (thunderstruck): No! It cannot be! The Windstone, buried in Hong Kong!
Tzu-Yeh: One gathers that you know of --?
Ssu-ma Niu: Quickly, the both of you! We leave at once for the Netherworld gate!
About the Stone of Roaring Winds
A Betak sorcerer-king named Balabac crafted and buried this powerful magical talisman on the Philippine island of Palawan between 1550 and 1580. Balabac meant the Stone of Roaring Winds to drive away Muslim missionaries by luring typhoons to their port town of Labog. Before the Stone could achieve significant power, Spain conquered the island and killed the sorcerer-king. Balabac's son, fearing the Stone's power, dug it up and fled with it to Canton (Kuangchou).
The Stone went through many hands, the way these mind-bendingly powerful artifacts usually do, and wound up in Cambodia in 1850. Learning of the Stone almost by accident, the ancient sorcerer Phanom Rung killed its previous owner and stole it. "With this stone," Rung thought, "I shall wipe from the Earth, once and for all, those nuisance monks of Shaolin!"
The Cast and the Set-Up
For six centuries Rung had practiced his dark alchemy unhindered, first for the Khmer god-king Jayavarman and later for his own evil ends. But through their control of feng shui sites and suppression of the chi flow, the Guiding Hand made his alchemy more difficult. Now Rung plans to use the Stone's magic to destroy their sites, and incidentally most of Hong Kong, in a titanic typhoon.
The Stone doesn't create typhoons; it just attracts them, as a lodestone attracts iron, once the owner buries it. Unfortunately for Rung, the Stone requires many decades to build up the magic needed to guide a hurricane's path. Fortunately for Rung, he knows about the Netherworld and the contemporary juncture.
Rung's scheme: Using his Apportation Sand, Rung travelled to 1850 Hong Kong and buried the Stone in a remote part of the mainland wilderness. He intended to journey forward 145 years and retrieve the artifact after it had built up a huge charge, then carry it back to 1850 and rebury it in the same place. (The Stone keeps its charge as long as it's buried in the same place.) Then the Hand's feng shui sites would be devastated by repeated typhoons, and Rung could move in and control them himself.
Rung's mistake: In the small port of Hong Kong, Rung stopped to eat at a rice stall. He behaved with his usual arrogance, took offense when the owner accidentally spilled sake on his robes, and began beating her. Another customer at the stall, the warrior woman and innerwalker Kam Li, protected her, and the two fought. Rung bested Li, but had to flee a gathering mob before he could kill her.
Having used so many powders, Rung needed funds to purchase more ingredients. He mentally dominated a rabble of rowdy thugs and set about robbing travellers outside the village. Meanwhile, Kam Li tracked him. Bandits and warrior clashed in the forest, while Rung was away searching for a Netherworld gate. By chance a young monk of the Guiding Hand, Hyun Chang, got caught between the combatants. After years isolated from women, the impressionable young monk saw the beautiful Kam Li in action and instantly fell in love.
Forward to 1996: After the fight, Li left Chang without a backward glance and raced through the Netherworld gate after the sorcerer. She caught up with Rung in modern-day Hong Kong, where the changed terrain (flattened hills, land reclaimed from the sea) confused Rung's memory of where he'd buried the Stone. He had a map to its site, but Kam Li stole it. However, in battle she fell victim to his Powder of Wandering Impulse.
Now confused and amnesic, Kam Li roams the congested back alleys of HK. Hyun Chang and two elder monks of the Hand, Tzu-Yeh and Ssu-ma Niu, have travelled to the present to find her. Phanom Rung, severely wounded in battle, has spent a week healing and is now ready to find Kam Li, get his map back, and regain the Stone of Roaring Winds.
Where the heroes come in: By an amazing coincidence, Kam Li is the spitting image of popular HK pop singer and movie star Maureen Wei. The player characters (PCs) may be Maureen's bodyguards, managers, roadies, fans, or lovers. When the vengeful Phanom Rung and the heartstruck Hyun Chang both mistake Maureen for Kam Li, the PCs get caught in the middle. The scene is set for mistaken identities, romantic triangles, and, of course, action action action.
Meanwhile, offshore, Typhoon Jason grows in strength....
Involving the PCs
Manager Larry Kwan provides a convenient way to gather all the PCs in Victoria Park as the adventure begins. He hires some of them as bodyguards, and knows others from his school days. As for the rest, Larry gives them invitations to the Victoria Park event that is kicking off Maureen's new promotional tour (and the adventure). Larry doesn't even have to know the PCs; he might have just handed out the invitations on a street corner to passersby.
If this pretext doesn't work, PCs may simply be visiting the park on their own. They might be keeping an appointment, socializing, or going down to practice their martial arts among hordes of Tai Chi students.
At least one PC should have a reason to protect Maureen. Does a male PC have a crush on her?
Scene 1: Victoria Park
It's a threatening morning in September. On the way to Victoria Park in eastern Hong Kong, the PCs can look down at Causeway Bay and see the typhoon shelter. Behind the concrete barricade, sampans float crowded together, and more arrive as the PCs watch. The characters know that Typhoon Jason is two days away across the South China Sea. Although it's not raining here -- yet -- the sea is choppy and winds are gusty. No one can say if the storm will hit HK.
Just off Causeway Bay across busy Victoria Park Avenue lies the avenue's 18-acre namesake, one of the largest patches of open ground in HK. All around stand department stores, camera shops, florists, boutiques, and, in the back streets behind the Excelsior Hotel, garment factory outlets with sweatshops above. Victoria Park isn't much to look at, but it has tennis courts, small pitches for cricket and football (i.e., soccer), and a couple of swimming pools. Taking their caged songbirds for an airing, old folks hang the cages from manicured trees, then sit on the bare ground below.
In the park's largest open space, Golden Phoenix Studios has set up an open-sided canvas tent with an elevated wooden dais and rank upon rank of steel folding chairs. Hundreds of movie fans fill the tent, standing room only. To one side of the dais stands Larry Kwan, smiling smugly and puffing on a cigar. "This is going great," he tells a PC. "We'll be all over tonight's news."
Amid a dizzying strobe of flashbulb bursts, Maureen Wei stands at a lectern emblazoned with the studio logo, surrounded by microphones, photographers, and whirring video cameras. Dressed as Kang-Hsi, her character in "Splendid City II," Maureen wears a colorful uniform of red silk, adorned with gold braid. Her costume looks exactly -- you knew this was coming -- exactly like the warrior woman Kam Li's cotton outfit.
The sorcerer Phanom Rung saw Maureen's costumed image on a poster announcing this promotional event and, weak on the concept of film stars, mistook her for Kam Li. He promptly enslaved a bunch of Kowloon thugs and told them to grab the warrior woman. Phanom Rung is hanging back outside the park, watching. He expects that Kam Li will handily mop up the goons, but hopes that one or two will land a lucky blow and soften her up. The tent and the crowds baffle the sorcerer, but he doesn't care about them. He just wants the map Kam Li carries, the map that tells the location of the Stone of Roaring Winds.
By a startling coincidence, the three monks of the Guiding Hand saw the same poster, made the same mistake, and are coming to Victoria Park for the same reason.
As Maureen talks about "Fated for Love," the new song she sings in her movie, the PCs notice the thugs moving in from all sides. There are three thugs for each PC, plus three more; they're standard-issue dumb hoods in cheap sportcoats and sunglasses, without identifying marks. Ordinarily they might try to look innocent (by thug standards), maybe by munching on skewers of teriyaki chicken or pretending to be a cricket team. But while dominated by Phanom Rung, these mooks haven't got even this much subtlety.
If the PCs weren't around, the hoods would pull their revolvers, get the audience to squat where they stand, then grab Maureen and run with her to their waiting cars.
Remind the players that (a) there are innocent bystanders everywhere, and (b) there are also cameras everywhere. Restraint is advisable. Of course, for a Feng Shui character "restraint" might mean "only one grenade at a time."
Maureen: If feasible, try to show that the star can defend herself hand-to-hand against a thug or two. But once the lead starts flying, Maureen dives behind the dais. She takes careful note of which PCs fight well and tries to enlist one of them as her protector.
The monks arrive: Threats, fighting, gunfire, crowd panic. After the PCs have taken out a few thugs, the three monks of the Guiding Hand leap into the park, over the trees, from three different directions. They land near Maureen, and Hyun Chang calls out "Kam Li!"
Not knowing the PCs, the monks decide to protect Maureen by taking her away from here. If they have to kick away a few PCs to get at her, that's fine; the monks aren't remotely interested in making friends. However, Maureen's screams and spirited resistance surprise them.
Attacks that would kill the monks or Maureen should fail automatically, at least for this scene. The monks use their Natural Order fu power to evade bullets.
Neat Things That Could Happen
Ending the Fight
Dominated as they are, the thugs never flee. However, Phanom Rung leaves unobserved once he realizes his plan has gone awry. (You can give an alert PC a Perception roll, difficulty 15, to spot the wizard disappearing in a flash of Apportation Sand.)
The Hand monks eventually realize that Maureen isn't Kam Li. At this point, the PCs should save Maureen, but ideally the monks should escape into the narrow, crowded alleys behind the Excelsior Hotel. They can jump like crazy, so this should help them lose pursuit. If the PCs are persistent, increase the difficulties of their Perception rolls to spot the fleeing monks. If nothing else works, have the monks escape into the sewers, or even into an invisible gate into the Netherworld.
If the PCs capture a monk, kiss off the mistaken-identity angle in the next scene and have him tell all: Kam Li, Phanom Rung, the Stone of Roaring Winds, the works. The monk eventually realizes that the PCs are good guys, and he offers to work with them to locate Kam Li and the stone.
As the scene ends, a gentle rain begins to fall on HK.
During or after a trip to the nearest hospital for repairs -- every second scene in a Feng Shui adventure usually takes place at a hospital -- the PCs see TV bulletins about the promotional event and resulting battle. Maureen, in costume, figures prominently in the reports. The bulletins alternate with updates on Typhoon Jason, which has picked up speed and is expected to hit the mainland some time tomorrow.
Maureen is genuinely grateful to the PCs, and she may show romantic interest in an unattached male who fought well. But neither she nor Larry knows why the thugs attacked, or anything about the monks, or the name "Kam Li."
Establish the following plot points before moving on:
Interrogating mooks: If any thugs survived the fight, the PCs have difficulty questioning them. A character with any Magic schtick recognizes that the thugs are magically controlled. An Influence schtick or Intimidation skill roll, difficulty 10, overcomes the enchantment, as does the Healing Chi power. Or the control can wear off on its own.
The mooks have little to offer: "We was minding our own business in Club Suzie Wong in Tsimshatsui. This big mainlander in a weird kimono came over to our table and blew some kind of dust at us. Don't remember much after that, except we was supposed to grab the gal and take her to the airport."
(Phanom Rung wants Kam Li taken to the airport, not to fly her somewhere, but because he remembers that the Stone is buried somewhere in the vicinity.)
Magical investigation: A sorcerer with the Divination schtick can consult the I Ching for a clue. The coins or yarrowstalks offer Hexagram 59: Reunion. "Wind above, water below: Gradual change above the profound water. Rulers meet with their subordinates. Advantage in cooperation, correct persistence, and the company of fellows."
The fourth and fifth lines are moving lines, which offer the additional image of Hexagram 53: Development. "Penetrating change moves the immobile mountain. The enlightened person improves life through good conduct and correct persistence. Marriage brings good fortune."
The first hexagram hints at the scene of the next fight, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen, and the arrival of Phanom Rung. The second hexagram, indicating future events, foreshadows the coming typhoon and a possible happy ending for Hyun Chang and Kam Li. However, the PCs have much work ahead to bring that about.
Where next?: Maureen and Larry Kwan have an exceedingly important dinner date tonight in Aberdeen. They're meeting with Golden Phoenix studio executives about Maureen's next film. She doesn't dare miss the dinner, but she asks the PCs to come along and dine as guards at a table near her -- her treat! If she's managed to gain the romantic interest of at least one PC, the decision to come along should be a no-brainer. If this hasn't happened, she can simply hire the PCs.
If they refuse to go, skip Scenes 2 and 3. Phanom Rung kidnaps Maureen offstage; Kam Li finds the PCs and asks their help, then leads them to a confrontation with Rung at the airport in Scene 4.
Scene 2: Jumbo Floating Restaurant
That evening, the rain is falling a bit harder. The harbor of Aberdeen, the industrial center on the southern coast of Hong Kong island, is filled with picturesque junks, houseboats, grocery boats, and bullet-nosed, radar-equipped fishing vessels. They're all packed into the typhoon shelter, tight as bullets in a cartridge belt, lashed down in preparation for Jason. People aboard the sampans are praying, lighting joss sticks of incense and shielding them from the rain.
Nothing in Aberdeen draws more tourists than the giant floating restaurants moored beside palatial Aberdeen Marina. Though the water is choppy, free shuttles still run from Shum Wan Ferry Pier out to Jumbo Floating Restaurant and its smaller neighbor, Tai Pak. These are immense three-deck ships longer than a football field. They glitter with lights and Vegas-style glamour, and a covered floating walkway connects them. Maureen's dinner date is on the Jumbo.
Undaunted by the coming storm, many hardy private shuttle guides clamor for the PCs to hire them. For a bribe of HK$50, they can take the PCs to a side entrance not used by the public. However, such precautions are unnecessary, because no bad guys are on board yet. To keep the story moving along, simply ask the players what general precautions they want their characters to take, then cut to the middle of the dinner itself.
The Food of Love
The Jumbo is huge: two thousand seats, high ceilings, and food in quantities that would delight a Roman emperor. The Jumbo is opulent: gold trim everywhere, ornate Chinese filigree, and red velvet seats. And, even in the teeth of an approaching hurricane, the Jumbo is crowded: hordes of Japanese package tourists, lots of upscale white executives (called gwai-jin, "foreign devils"), and European and Australian travellers drunk on rice wine, all served by platoons of Chinese and Filipino waiters.
Maureen, Larry, three studio executives (Mr. Pao, Mr. Chin, and Mr. Wo), and the PCs are dining on the top floor, which affords the best view of the lights of Aberdeen. This deck is posh even by Jumbo standards, but it's as crowded as the two storeys below. The central part of this floor is a double-height, window-lined octagonal atrium with an Asian-style chandelier.
The food: The PCs can select from a long menu of Cantonese dishes: the usual dishes you might find in any Chinese restaurant in America, plus thousand-year-old eggs, bird's nest soup, stuffed pigeon, duck feet, and expensive dishes like snake bladder, steamed carp, and ginseng chicken that are reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
Two showy orders popular with tourists are the various sizzling rice dishes, served on a super-hot iron skillet, and Drunken Prawns. When you order Drunken Prawns, the waiter brings to your table a covered glass bowl filled with huge live shrimp. He pours a bottle of dark rice wine through a hole in the lid. The prawns thrash around in the wine, more and more violently, until it seems they'll crash out of the bowl. Finally, dead drunk, they pass out, and the waiter drops them one by one, still alive, into a boiling vat of soup stock. They taste great, if you still have an appetite.
Falling in love: Because it's not polite to talk business while eating, the executives make small talk with Larry Kwan. Maureen casts sidelong glances at the PC she's become enamored with. Depending on whether the PCs has shown interest in her, she might eat with a sensuousness that recalls Tom Jones. Perhaps she leaves her table briefly to exchange a few pleasantries with the PC; try to build up the attraction on both sides.
At some point near the end of the meal, Maureen excuses herself to go to the ladies' room. If a watchful PC goes with her, that's fine. Her absence sets up the fight and its accompanying mistaken-identity comedy, for Kam Li, Phanom Rung, and the Hand monks arrive within moments after she leaves.
Entrance of the Bad Guys
First the three monks show up -- not leaping in a window, not crashing through the wall, but walking in, following a waiter. They're dripping wet. The PCs see that Hyun Chang is holding a torn poster with Maureen's image.
The monks followed Maureen here, then debated whether to approach her. They know she isn't Kam Li, but her uncanny resemblance makes them hope she might know of the warrior woman's whereabouts. They asked a waiter to bring them to her table, where they intend to question her.
Of course, the PCs may well interfere. Hyun Chang, jealous of any male PC who gets to hang around Kam Li's lookalike (ah, love!), is primed to resent interference, but Tzu-Yeh and Ssu-ma Niu are calm and ready to restrain him. The anguished young man stands looking around, hoping to spot Maureen, who at least reminds him of Kam Li.
Maybe the fight starts now, maybe not. While the nature of the monks' intent remains ambiguous and tension is high, the sorcerer attacks.
In the center of each large table is a lazy-susan rotating platform like those in many Chinese restaurants. In a blaze of light, Phanom Rung appears, standing atop one of those platforms. (Don't roll for initiative yet.) He kicks aside a bowl of roast goose and sets the platform turning. As it turns, he scatters a pouch of glittering silver dust over the diners at this and several nearby tables. The eyes of the diners turn white as the Dust of Enslavement takes effect.
"Kill them!" shouts Rung, pointing at the PCs and the monks. The innocent customers, compelled by the magic that drove thousands of slaves to ceaseless labor on the Cambodian god-kings' massive temple complexes, stand like zombies. As one, the newly-made mooks -- men, old women, children -- stumble toward the PCs.
Now roll for initiative.
The fight: For each PC there are four diners armed with chopsticks, metal ladles, or broken water glasses. Their magically enhanced Attributes are Body 6, Chi 0, Mind 4, Reflexes 6. They have no relevant skills. Presumably the PCs try to incapacitate rather than kill these innocent dupes.
On his first shot Phanom Rung sprinkles Bewilderment Powder (an Illusion schtick with sight and sound) that makes it appear he's still standing on the table, then jumps down behind it. He throws Enslavement Dust at the monks from there, hoping that his illusion will draw the PCs' fire. After a bullet or missile whisks through the immaterial sorcerer, give each PC a Perception check to spot the real sorcerer.
After the heroes see through the illusion, Phanom Rung sprinkles Powdered Wings on his feet and flies elsewhere in the restaurant. He's looking for Maureen, who he still thinks is Kam Li.
This time, he gets the real item.
Kam Li's Entrance
While wandering at random in Hong Kong, the confused Kam Li looked in a store window and saw herself on television. She also saw Hyun Chang, and a single vivid memory rose through the haze: the young monk staring into her eyes. Not remembering who he is or why she's interested, she has nonetheless searched for Chang, and now has found him.
Seeing Rung, Kam Li leaps into the fight scene from a side hallway (coincidentally near the ladies' room). Identify her to the players as Maureen, but mention that she's wearing the film costume she wore this afternoon. If a PC tries to shuffle her away from danger, Kam Li tries to punch the PC; reduce the attack's difficulty because the PC is (presumably) off-guard.
On her next shot, as Hyun Chang looks on raptly, the warrior woman leaps onto the table and engages Rung hand to hand. The PCs realize that this isn't Maureen, and they should understand which side she's on.
(Unknown to the heroes, Rung manages to pull his map from Kam Li's sleeve during this exchange of blows. Kam Li doesn't notice.)
By the way, try hard to keep Kam Li alive in this fight.
The Monks Become Good Guys
Likewise, the three Guiding Hand monks realize which side the PCs are on. Thereafter they fight shoulder to shoulder with the heroes. In a moment between leaping attacks, Ssu-ma Niu takes a moment to apologize to the PCs for any earlier "unpleasantness" between them.
A dramatic choice: If it's feasible, try to arrange for Phanom Rung to take control of at least one of the two older monks, Tzu-Yeh and Ssu-ma Niu. Then Rung orders the controlled monk to attack Kam Li. Hyun Chang is standing right between the two, and has a moment to decide where his loyalties lie.
If a PC happens to knock out anyone involved and remove Chang's need to decide, Chang becomes better disposed toward that PC for the rest of the adventure. Otherwise, Chang breaks discipline and attacks the elder monk with a well-placed kick. Kam Li spends an action just looking at Chang in wonder.
Neat Things That Could Happen
Ending the Fight
This fight is meant to bring Kam Li on the scene and turn the monks into allies. Once these things happen, have Phanom Rung realize he's outnumbered and fly away.
If possible, try to have Rung come face-to-face with Maureen as he goes. The sorcerer gasps in fright and shouts "Scales of the Sky Fish!" With this, he hits her with a Blast powder, a silvery dust that has a nasty Transformation effect: Half of Maureen's face turns to a scaly silver, like a fish's scales.
Then the magician flies away. If pursued by flying PCs, he vanishes in a cold white flare of Apportation Sand.
Back in the devastated restaurant, Kam Li suddenly says, "My map is gone." But she cannot even remember why this disturbs her.
After the obligatory trip to the nearest emergency ward, the PCs can learn most of the backstory.
Talking to the monks: Ssu-ma Niu gives most of the explanations, with acerbic interruptions from Tzu-Yeh. Chang stares moonily at Kam Li, and Li darts occasional fascinated looks back at him. The PCs learn these plot points:
If pressed, the elder monks also explain their younger fellow's "unfortunate distraction" involving Kam Li.
Talking to Kam Li and Maureen: Neither can explain why they look exactly alike. Kam Li can't explain much of anything, being confused, and Maureen's dialogue consists mainly of, "I have to change my face back or my career is over, do you hear, over!"
For purposes of this adventure, a PC with any Magic schtick can figure out what's wrong with the two women, but no PC can cure either Kam Li or Maureen. Maureen does know who might be able to cure them: an old geomancer she knew while growing up in Mongkok -- "a funny old fellow named Chu Po. I wonder what he's doing now?"
Scene 3: Chu Po Radiant Flowers Ltd.
Traffic is light in the Cross Harbour Tunnel to Kowloon, because most of Hong Kong is gradually pulling into its shell to wait out Typhoon Jason. Depending on when the PCs head to Kowloon, it may be only hours or most of a day away.
Rain falls hard in Mongkok, making the housing projects look even more ominous than usual. Looming, brutalist, gargantuan, monolithic: The Tsz Wan Shan projects consist of 33 identical atrocities of the Ministry-of-Love design school, holding 80,000 people on a patch of land about the size of two shopping malls. Dozens of ten-foot bamboo poles protrude from the side of each building; in sunshine, residents hang out their washing on these poles, but not in the rain.
Near Nathan Road where it crosses Soy Street, Maureen leads the PCs through this rat's nest as smoothly as though she'd never moved away. But she shudders at every step, and she hugs her chosen PC to her as she walks. (She and Kam Li wear high-collared raincoats to pass incognito among her fans.)
Meeting Chu Po
Getting directions from merchants, the heroes eventually wend their way to Building #33. Down a flight of concrete stairs, they find a door marked CHU PO RADIANT FLOWERS LTD. -- ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING! The whole area smells strongly of gunpowder.
At the door as the PCs arrive, two mooks in expensive black suits are intimidating an old gentleman in a threadbare gray sweater and wrinkled corduroy slacks. "A thousand bucks by tomorrow night or we're gonna light a match, Chu," says one.
"I'm still waiting payment!" the old man, Chu Po, says defiantly. "Customers pay late, what can I do?"
The other mook slaps Chu. If the PCs don't interfere, the two mooks (triad enforcers) saunter off, casting sidelong glances of suspicion at the heroes. Chu Po screams imprecations behind them, and they turn and give him a threatening look.
-- If the PCs do nothing, that is. The heroes can chase off the mooks or destroy them on the spot; either way, this sets up a confrontation with the triad gang later in this scene. If a well-heeled hero pays Chu's HK$1,000 debt, the mooks take it with a smug smile -- but Chu, infuriated, pulls a banana from his pocket, throws it at the hoods, and curses them and their next seven generations of offspring. This, too, provokes the fight later on.
Radiant Flowers, Ltd.
If Chu Po sees the disfigured Maureen, or if the PCs indicate that they aren't triad mooks who want to blow up his business, the feisty old gentleman leads them (after insisting that they extinguish all smoking materials) back into his workplace: a basement refitted as a fireworks factory.
What it looks like: The basement, for reasons known only to the architects, is cylindrical; the concrete walls curve up to merge into the curving ceiling. Many ancient advertising posters peeling off the walls depict huge Chinese characters with "Engrish" subtitles: "LEMONIN" CURE ALL KINDS OF PAIN -- HO CHAI MEDICINE CO HONG KONG. The peeling paper-lined cylinder and gunpowder smell may make imaginative PCs think they've stepped into a giant firecracker.
At least the floor is flat. Here, at long rows of folding cafeteria tables, dozens of women in gray sweatsuits sit on adjustable stools. They wear stained surgical masks and latex gloves as they roll up firecrackers, M-80s, Roman candles, and rockets with six-inch shells. In the aisles between tables stand open 55-gallon drums of gunpowder, arsenic salts, strontium nitrate, potassium perchlorate, and other incredibly toxic stuff. (These chemicals are ground in China -- by donkey power.) Along one wall the women have dumped purses, duffel bags, and wicker baskets in a large pile.
Lining the walls are stacks of crates labelled in Chinese and English with the names of the fireworks inside. Though Japanese fireworks have poetic names like Silver Flower in Night, Chinese and Hong Kong nomenclature goes in for straight description: Yellow Flash with Blue Sparkles, Gold Starburst. Every third English word is misspelled.
Chu explains: "This shipment is for India," says Chu. "The Divali festival in November. Those triad scumbags take forever to deliver the supplies, but still expect me to keep up the payments every week! But what can you do? They control the whole business."
But for Chu, and for this adventure, complaints about the triads are a side issue. He leads Maureen, or anyone showing evidence of magical wounds, to the back of the basement, where he has a desk behind a folding screen. On the wall hang a small calendar and a soiled poster of Sylvester Stallone as Rambo.
In this office the PCs can tell Chu what they like and get him to heal them. If they mention the Stone of Roaring Winds, his eyes go wide. Chu can tell them the stone's history (see "Backstory" at the start of this adventure) and convey important plot points the PCs didn't get from the monks.
Chu also knows something about Phanom Rung:
While Chu prepares his healing ritual, a lot of no-good triad thugs amble into the factory. The doorway encounter earlier prompted the whole gang to move in. Maybe the thugs believe the PCs are cops, or maybe they don't want Chu to start thinking he can get away with anything. Maybe it doesn't matter.
There are three thugs for each character, including the monks, Maureen, and whoever else is helping the PCs (but not including Chu, who won't help either side). The thugs make some preliminary threats and slap the women around. They don't knock over the drums, and they definitely don't draw guns.
If everyone, including the PCs, servilely apologizes for any earlier offense and sincerely swears never to do it again, the thugs might actually leave. (Right. And if the Moon fell from the sky, it would crush the building.) Otherwise, they attack.
When the PCs start to fight, give Chu a moment to shout frantically, "No guns!" Then let the mayhem begin. Try hard to keep Chu and Kam Li alive, but at this point anyone else can die.
Neat Things That Could Happen
Ending the Fight
The triad thugs flee when the heroes take out half their numbers, or if the place threatens to blow up. If, for some reason, the thugs win, they leave the heroes bleeding but alive, having taught them a lesson.
If the factory survives, Chu Po can perform the healing ritual there after the battle. Otherwise, the PCs escort him to his tiny, tiny apartment on the 12th floor of Building #33, and he conducts the ritual there for the three or four people who can fit in the place with him. (Chu lives alone, because his wife died years ago.) It won't take long, so badly wounded characters can afford to stagger along before heading to the hospital.
The Spooky Part
Chu begins the ritual by pouring water into his stained teacup. "These injuries are caused by powder, and water washes out powder. Here, stick your finger in the cup." Everyone with a magical injury should stick a finger in the cup; if the battle went badly, it could be a tight fit.
Chu asks everyone to visualize these people as they were before their injuries. (Hyun Chang seems to concentrate hard on this.) After chanting for a short while, Chu says, "Now feel the flow of life from the Earth through your bodies." As he touches the injured characters, PCs with the Fu power Healing Chi or the Fertility Magic schtick can sense Chu's Chi essence flowing into the victims.
Things go wrong: Abruptly Chu weakens and falls. Groaning, he says, "Something wrong -- quick, give them your energy!" Can any of the PCs guide Chi energy? If so, the character(s) can heal the injuries with an appropriate power or Magic check, difficulty 16 -- so long as Chu keeps chanting. If none of the PCs have the appropriate skill, one or more of the monks, preferably Hyun (with his elders' permission), can use his Healing Chi power to achieve the same result.
The ritual should succeed, and Maureen's disfigurement should vanish. Struggling up from the floor, Chu Po looks at Maureen and Kam Li suspiciously. "That took twice too much out of me," he says, but he won't explain further. (Don't let on yet, but the ritual went wrong because Maureen is Kam Li's reincarnation, and their identical life patterns created a sort of magical feedback.)
Kam Li's Awakening
At the ritual's conclusion, Maureen's face is healed, as are similar magical injuries. The warrior woman's gaze clears, and she looks around alertly. "At last!" she says. "My thoughts are my own again. My thanks to you all, honored ones." (She's looking right at Hyun Chang.)
While wandering the city, she studied Rung's map without comprehending its purpose. She remembers the map perfectly. Chu Po brings out a map of old Hong Kong from around Li's time, together with a modern road map. Kam Li looks them over, then stabs at one map with her right index finger, the other with her left. "He buried the Stone here!"
The PCs look on the old map and see nothing but a patch of wilderness near the Kowloon coast, remote from the village of Hong Kong. They look at the corresponding point on the new map: the northwestern (landward) end of Kai Tak International Airport.
By this time the PCs have probably set up E-Z Payment Plans at the emergency room. When they get out of the hospital, Typhoon Jason is almost upon Hong Kong. It should hit within less than 12 hours.
The monks and Kam Li are anxious to stop Phanom Rung. "He will certainly dig up the Stone before the storm hits," says Ssu-ma Niu, and Chu Po agrees. If the PCs insist on waiting out the typhoon, assume that Rung also waits, then play out Scene 4 minus the storm.
The PCs might want to recruit Chu Po. He won't go with them ("Do I look that crazy?"), but he gives them his phone number. In an emergency, they can consult with him by cellular phone.
Maureen asks to stay behind, pleading "a headache"; she sounds fearful. Assuming the PCs agree, this sets up her surprise appearance in the final scene.
"But how do we find this Stone?": Knowing that it's buried at the airport and actually finding it are two different things. However, Chu says that those sensitive to magic can detect the Stone's emanations during the height of the storm. These emanations will guide the heroes. "Or you can just look wherever Rung is digging," Chu says helpfully.
Scene 4: Kai Tak Airport
Kai Tak International has a reputation among travellers. Because of Chinese restrictions on HK airspace, jets must rise from and descend into Kai Tak at a steep, heartstopping angle. However, all flights are currently grounded because of the storm.
Kai Tak has just one main runway, called Runway One. Most of its 11,130 feet extends out into Kowloon Bay on land dredged from the sea in 1951, but the terminal and the end of the runway are built on Kowloon's original terrain. Across the field PCs can make out faint outlines of ugly high-rise apartments, fishing boats and cargo ships at anchor, and (south across the bay) the unblinking neon of Wanchai.
You should find this scene easier to describe than the others. In contrast to the exoticism of Hong Kong itself, the airport looks like any Western airport -- except that the signs are in more languages. The runway is like any runway: flat concrete with marker lights on each side, and a wide access way running parallel. The water on either side of the airstrip is quite shallow.
The main descriptive challenge here comes not from the scenery but from the weather.
The storm: Yes, the weather has been crummy up to now, but an imminent typhoon truly defines crumminess. Most players have never in their lives seen rain like the rain of a typhoon on the South China Sea.
No normal person dares go outside. Lightning flashes often. Winds are reaching 80 mph, and travel is impossible -- for anyone but a PC or close associate. The rain falls in sheets, so hard that Driving and Perception checks take a -3 penalty. The difficulty of flying increases by 10.
Standing up to the storm: Attempts to neutralize the typhoon using Weather magic are difficulty 25, and the effect is purely local.
No specific skill, Fu power, arcanowave technology, or other effect lets a character remain in place during a high wind. (Weather magic only cancels the wind.) However, you can allow any character with a Chi score greater than 0 to spend a Chi point to remain in place for one sequence. Characters who lie flat on the ground can also stay there.
For a great battle in a high-speed wind tunnel, check out the end of Jackie Chan's Armour of God II: Operation Condor.
Getting Past Security
The airport runway is fenced in by ordinary wire fences (called, appropriately, cyclone fences) 12 feet tall and topped with barbed wire.
The airport terminal is still open, though the flights are grounded. Getting a gun past the metal detectors requires trickery, magic, or an Intrusion roll. From inside the terminal, characters can get out onto the runway through many employee access doors, but they'll need a key or an Intrusion roll (difficulty 5) to avoid triggering an alarm. If the alarm sounds, two security guards show up in less than a minute, but they won't follow the PCs out into the storm.
During the typhoon, no one notices the characters out on the runway -- or anyway, no one is crazy enough to go out after them. In clearer weather, a security patrol of three rent-a-cops in a jeep spots the PCs within a few minutes.
On Runway One
Except during the frequent blazes of lightning, the heroes can see nothing on the rain-lashed runway except its lights. The wind is deafening.
(Clear weather note: If the PCs have waited until after the storm, 747s and DC-10s take off from and land on the runway every 45 seconds, or else once per sequence during combat. A passing jet deafens all characters for three shots and ruins spellcasting for one shot.)
Give characters with Magic schticks Perception rolls (difficulty 5) to sense the emanations from the Stone of Roaring Winds. Kam Li also recalls where the Stone is buried. If no one has Magic and Kam Li isn't there, the heroes see movement near one of the runway lights. Either way, they find the Stone's burial site -- and, at the same spot, they find Maureen Wei!
Maureen's awakening: She's standing there, dripping and dazed. "Something drew me here," she says. "Strange memories." She looks at Kam Li with strange recognition. "We were so lonely," Maureen tells her twin. "We thought that seeking our own goals meant that we couldn't join someone else." If Maureen has gotten romantically involved with a PC, she adds, "I made that mistake. I made it in your life, and now I've made it again in mine." She stares forlornly at her chosen PC.
The reincarnation backstory and declarations of love can ensue while the PCs are digging up the Stone. If they didn't bring any equipment that can break through concrete, either locate the burial site in the mud next to the runway or have Kam Li slice through the concrete with her sword. If the heroes have nothing to dig with or don't want to dig, go right to the fight below.
After the heroes dig down about four feet, they find the Stone of Roaring Winds.
The artifact is not simply a hunk of rock, but a small idol carved out of white brain coral. Six inches long, weighing about two pounds, the sculpture depicts a crowned man with contorted arms and legs; in one hand he brandishes a barbed hook. (This represents the Betak god of the winds, Tangar.)
The item glows dimly with an internal light, and it pulses brightly with each flash of lightning. It tingles lightly to the touch. The first time any character besides Phanom Rung holds it, he receives a sudden vision of the grandeur of a typhoon; for a moment he feels as one with the vast weather system. The character delays acting for one shot unless he succeeds in a Will roll, difficulty 15.
The Stone is destroyed after it takes 25 points of damage.
Suddenly a bizarre little demon-thing, a skittering demon (described below), sweeps down from the rainy sky. It spots the Stone and chatters a warning.
Sepulchral laughter echoes from the sky, easily drowning out the storm. From the darkness fall glittering yellow seeds, each the size of an orange pip. They shower down in a circle around the Stone big enough to encompass most of the characters. A voice like thunder from overhead -- Phanom Rung's voice:
"Insolent peasants! My Demon Seeds now grow, and you have only seconds to choose! Give me the Stone of Roaring Winds and the brazen warrior woman Kam Li, and I shall spare you!"
At the heroes' feet, the yellow seeds wobble, grow, and sprout arms and legs.
Roll for initiative.
There are four skittering demons for each hero (counting the monks, Maureen, and Kam Li). The heroes have one shot to hit the Demon Seeds before the Seeds transform completely into demons; hits on the Seeds succeed automatically. Once transformed, the demons attack first with glutinous goo, then claws, and finally Rancid Breath.
If things are going against the heroes, have the typhoon winds weaken the Breath attacks, and have the demons go into a frenzy after drawing first blood; they attack one another in their eagerness to drink from the open wound. Conversely, if the PCs are having an easy time, Rung summons more and nastier demons.
Set-up for heartbreak: Rung's own first action shows his contempt for the "inferior" heroes. Zooming down from overhead, he throws handfuls of wet powder at two different targets: Hyun Chang and Kam Li. If either of them is absent, he instead picks Maureen and her PC romantic interest. (If neither of these combinations is possible, skip this part and play out the combat normally.)
As Rung's Dust of Enslavement takes effect on the two victims, the sorcerer almost casually orders them, "Kill each other."
The two victims spend one action staring at each other, blinking in confusion. Then rage overcomes them both, and -- unless the PCs interfere -- they charge at each other, ready to kill. (If one of the two victims is a PC, you might consider fudging Rung's Enchantment die roll to guarantee success.)
Getting the Stone: Rung's next priority is the Stone. If a hero has it, Rung attacks that hero with Blasts to the exclusion of all else. If the heroes didn't dig up the Stone, Rung spends three actions hitting the runway with Acidic Destruction Powder. Blowing away huge amounts of concrete and dirt, he soon uncovers the Stone, then (if no one interferes) grabs it and flies away.
However, Rung is vulnerable to taunts and similar disrespect from those he views as underlings. Once he has the Stone, the arrogant sorcerer cries, "You have mocked me for the last time!" (a patent falsehood) and takes the opportunity to "teach a parting lesson" to the upstarts who mocked him.
If the heroes destroy the Stone, Rung stays around long enough to deal out a few Constricting Heart powders, but then flies away in defeat, to wreak vengeance at some later date.
Neat Things That Could Happen
Ending the Fight
If Rung takes more than 25 Wound Points, he turns coward and flees. The demons vanish or fall when Rung dies, gets knocked out, or escapes.
The Heartfelt Departure
This next part could be chancy if your players know anything about hurricanes. The eye of the storm is usually about 14 miles wide, and it's surrounded by raging winds for hundreds of miles around. At the speed Typhoon Jason moves, by rights its eye shouldn't arrive for many hours after the storm hits Hong Kong.
But it would be maximally neat if, as the battle ends, a wall of cloud moves over the scene. The sky suddenly clears and the air goes dead calm. Towering walls of cloud surround Kowloon, but (depending on the time of day) the sun shines down from a pure blue sky overhead.
Give it a try, but if the players call it unrealistic, either remind them they're in an action movie or forget the eye idea. If you skip it, stage this departure scene during the storm, or delay it until after Jason passes.
Exit: The monks and Kam Li now make ready to leave. Set the tone of this scene, triumph or tragedy, based on the battle's outcome. If everyone survived, it's upbeat; if one half of either couple got killed, somber; if one of the couple actually killed the other him- or herself, tragic.
Another note enters as the parties are disposed of. Aim for closure and elegance. Maureen either joins her romantic interest as a continuing character in the campaign, or leaves him with a wistful sigh and resumes her lonely career. The monks are ready to return to 1850. Chang may leave the Temple to marry Kam Li, or rededicate himself to greater efforts while mourning her death. The elder monks have developed a grudging respect for the PCs. They wave as they leap away toward the nearest gate to the Netherworld.
After that, it's time for yet another trip to the nearest hospital.
The typhoon strikes Hong Kong and does some damage. But if the PCs took care of the Stone, the storm suddenly drops in strength. This greatly reduces damage to the city. If the heroes failed, Jason strikes full force -- but Hong Kong has endured typhoons before and will again. The typhoon moves inland and breaks up within a day.