Burning Faith is an adventure set in and around the Fallen Mountains and is deliberately designed to present PCs with a situation with no clear course of actions. The adventure was originally written for a group of Unicorn PCs and works best when at least one of the members is from that Clan, for reasons that will become apparent.
Kyufoki no Shinden, the Thunder Monastery, has been burnt to the ground. Coming across the still smouldering ruins the PCs must find and confront the perpetrator before navigating the political ramifications and determining the truth of what has occurred. The adventure can be broken down into three sections: discovery of the massacre, confrontations and investigation.
Everything after the cut contains spoilers.
Part 1 – The Discovery
As the sun rises over the peaks of the Fallen Mountains it is caught briefly behind a pillar of dark smoke a few miles ahead. Only Kyufoki no Shinden lies in that direction and even its famous forges are incapable of fueling the tower of smoke before you.
On arrival at Kyufoki no Shinden it is immediately apparent that the monastery itself has been razed to the ground in its entirety and is the source of the smoke pillar. Even the spiritual centre of the monastery, dedicated to the Fortune of Earthquakes, has not been spared this fate. With its fuel almost spent the fire has been reduced to piles of mouldering embers and combined with the absence of the smoke the previous evening any observant samurai could deduce that the fire was started during the middle of the night.
Dotted around the grounds of the monastery are the bodies of two monks and three young apprentices. Their bodies are unburnt and it is clear that they died from numerous stab wounds. The pools of blood around each body indicate that they lie where they fell while close examinations suggest that the crude wounds were caused by blunt blades as opposed to the razor sharp swords of a samurai. Anybody particularly astute or versed in smithing may be able to conclude that the wounds were probably inflicted using knives and bladed tools as opposed to actual weapons. These five bodies represent only a small portion of the total expected for a temple of this size. Anybody willing to search the cooler parts of the ruins will easily uncover charred bones with the majority within the building that served as the living quarters. A search of the ruins will also suggest that the site was not looted before being razed, with items produced in the forges left untouched.
Heavily used mountain paths connect the monastery to both the Unicorn lands to the west and the Lion lands to the east (though the eastern path initially requires heading deeper into the mountains). Numerous smaller paths head out to the mines which supplied the forges with ore. It is easy to tell that the western path is the most heavily used and anybody actively looking could pick out evidence of recent use. A skilled tracker may also be able to pick out hoof prints from at least one pony / horse, though it is impossible to get an accurate count due to the human footprints which have mixed up the mud. Following the tracks of the Western path eventually lead to [village name], a small Unicorn village overseen by Shinjo Yatada. (See part 2 of the adventure seed for details).
- Kyufoki no Shinden has been razed to the ground.
- The monks have all been murdered.
- The wounds were made by crude weapons suggesting peasants or bandits were responsible.
- The most recent tracks lead West into Unicorn territory.
Invoking the Kami
Anybody trying to cast spells will discover the natural elemental balance has been disturbed by the fire. Fire kami are easily called and all spells of this element gain a free raise, however, their attention span will be shorter than normal due to their excitement should anybody wish to commune with them. Conversely water kami will exceedingly difficult to summon, all spells of the element must declare 2 extra raises which confer no benefit. Any shugenja who do question the kami about the events of the evening will be able to discover that the monastery was razed by an angry mob with vengeance in their hearts. If they ask the right questions they may also discover that a single samurai, consumed by rage and grief, led them and personally rode down any monks attempting to escape.
Mixing it up
The above introduces the core of the adventure and set the PCs up to investigate the desecration of the Thunder Monastery. Every adventure plays out differently, however, so here are some additional suggestions for how this scene could play out.
- There’s somebody alive in there! The party arrive before the temple has completely burnt to the ground and, while investigating, hear faint voices crying out for help. Can they rescue them from the fire?
- Survivors! A set of recent tracks lead into one of the abandoned mines where a couple of monks are hiding. Scared and desperate the monks may attack unless the party, convinced they are there to finish the attack.
- The Lion. A small group of Lion warriors arrive to defend the monastery against an assumed attack (having seen the smoke they jumped to this conclusion) and discovering the party already there they decide the party must be responsible and attack. Note: As written the Lion don’t play any additional part in the adventure but this option could have ramifications in a larger campaign if the Lion decide they need to send more patrols into the mountains to strengthen their claim on the border region.
- The Dragon. If the party linger too long a trio of Dragon samurai arrive, having spotted the smoke plume while traveling in the mountains. These Dragon Samurai will arrive in the village during the latter half of Part 2 if not encountered at the monastery so their arrival early in the adventure will necessitate altering that segment as well.