“Chaos Monks” is a turducken of awesome. Take the Mad Monks of Kwantoom, make it a walled off city within the Yellow City at the mouth of the God River in Yoon-Suin, then use the Maze Rats rule set to run it.
We started out with three characters. Chi-Ling (Iris) and Paito (Simon) were counterfeiters with a well-run operation, and Tai Shiro Long (Shaun) was the street performer who was a lookout on the street outside. The authorities arrested them and threw them in the dungeon, and in the same dungeon a warlock finished his incantations scrawled on the walls of his cell and summoned a demon. In the resulting chaos explosion, only these three survived, and they were changed somewhat by the experience.
Now when things are too orderly they feel a pressure, an irritation and pain, like tinnitus, that ebbs in the presence of chaos and swells in the presence of law. Our game starts with them camped by a shrine to the Dreaming One, a god-like kraken that lives in the Azure Sea beyond the Gulf of Morays. He squats, with a tentacled face and stubby folded wings, and near that statue the noise of Law is blessedly quiet.
As for the equipment, they were heading towards being blackout drunk when a nearby pawn shop had a going-out-of-business sale, and when they regained their senses, they had a variety of treasures that they JUST HAD TO HAVE the night before–lengths of chain, handfuls of iron spikes, a packet of medicine, and so on.
Choyshu, the First Crappy Village
They stroll in to see some local grubby bullies from a martial arts school beating up on one of the monk pilgrims. Chi-Ling brashly pushed through the middle of the knot of bullies to get to the well, while the others circled around, but now they had the bully’s attention.
So the martial artist says something rude, and Tai Shiro Long just unloads on him and destroys his head with a brutal martial arts assault. Abandoning the pilgrims, the bullies whipped our their weapons and attached the chaos monks, killing Tai Shiro Long immediately.
Witnessing this death was oddly liberating and transformative to one of the pilgrims, Karasu (Shaun), who leaped into the fray. The three chaos monks slew the martial arts bullies without a scratch (if you don’t count poor Tai Shiro Long.) Karasu took Tai’s gear.
The townspeople celebrated, relieved to be free of the martial arts school bullies, and they gave the chaos monks a feast (though the mayor did observe that to prevent a ghost from rising, it would be an expensive 1 gp funeral for each corpse.) They couldn’t pay for that, but the mayor said he’d cover it if they’d help his cousin, who was the mayor of a coastal village one day’s travel away. They agreed.
A Rough Night
That night they bedded enthusiastic locals in the barn. Paito had a great night, as did Karasu–but Karasu’s lover was in a relationship with a burly woman who came after him with a pitchfork, and he managed to evade that situation while the cheating woman tried to get her lover to calm down.
Chi-Ling was not so fortunate. She woke up with no clothes or gear. Her fellow monks helped her cobble an outfit together, and asked around to find out her lover was Choy, the miller. They grimly headed to the mill-pond.
Choy was wearing Chi-Ling’s fancy clothes and practicing with her fang staff, feeling very smug about his theft. Chi-Ling charged him, but missed, and as he ran she chased him until she had him cornered–and he stabbed her right through the heart with her own fang staff.
As she fell, something snapped in Choy’s long-suffering wife (Iris), who saw this transpire from inside the house. She had enough of her cheating man! She caught up the cleaver she’d been using to prepare the duck, and ran from the house, assaulting Choy. He managed to dodge her attacks, and with a swipe, he cut her down too!
Surrounded by dead women, he felt a change come over him, a strange openness to chaos. He appealed to the other monks, he could go with them, as their numbers were down and he couldn’t stay here after this. They shrugged and agreed, eating Choy’s wife’s food before taking Choy (Iris) with them on the road (still wearing the dead monk’s fancy ladyclothes and carrying her fang staff.) Let the mayor provide a funeral for two more corpses.
Sazhang, the Second Crappy Village
They arrived at a tent settlement at a crossroads, and found it was the village of Sazhang but moved two miles inland and living in tents. They saw the mayor from the last town, but it wasn’t him, it was his cousin, the mayor of this town.
He told them that a big specimen of crabbish (crab man) had wrecked their fishing boats and trashed their houses, and now guarded their village’s strip of beach so crabs could thrive there. They agreed to sort it out–in the morning. So the mayor let them sleep in a hunter’s tent. He was their best hunter, but a snake got him in the jungle that morning, so his tent was available.
The next morning they headed to the beach. First Paito talked to the mayor, asking for rags and oil so he could make flaming arrows. The mayor gave him a sack of dirty undergarments and a bottle of oil, so Paito made some oil (and mayor) soaked arrowhead wrappings.
They saw the wrecked houses and boats, and crabs scuttling everywhere. Paito’s plan was to climb up in the highest house wreckage and cover the other two, while they lured the crabbish out of hiding by starting a fire near the waterfront using the rest of the oil and rags.
By Cedric Plante
So as Choy and Karasu walked along the waterline, Paito climbed up to the only second-story wreckage and kept an eye out. He saw the crabbish approach from the water, then breach, roaring, to charge. Paito loosed arrows at it while the other two ran to find netting in the wrecked fishing boats to help slow this thing down. The crabbish (who had gems glinting in its carapace) started battering the ruined house so Paito shot a few arrows, then slid down from the high point using his rope. As he sprinted through the wrecked village, the infuriated crabbish chased him, while the other monks were safely out of range at the waterfront.
Which was the exact OPPOSITE of Paito’s plan.
He ran out of village wreckage to duck through, ending the crabbish’s disadvantage to shear him in half with its massive claws. However, the other monks found netting by this point,and hurled it over the crabbish. Choy used his fancy footwork and fast hands to loop netting over broken stumps of house pylons, while Karasu flexed his mighty muscles. Together, they distracted and slowed the crabbish as it continued trying to kill Paito.
As the crabbish bucked and struggled to tear the net and escape, they sensed the ghostly hands of the fisherman who wove the net (and was killed by the crabbish) helping hold it together, aiding them as they sought vengeance for his death. (Just some flavor when the dice were lucky.)
But the net couldn’t hold, and as the crabbish furiously wrecked everything around it, they fell back for a moment before closing in for the final flurry of violence that slew the massive beast. They wasted no time in prizing the gems out of its shell.
By the time they fetched the village to enjoy the feast, the crabs had swarmed the crabbish and eaten most of it; but they were easy to catch by the bucketful, so everyone still feasted. And the monks offered up a ritual to help those slain on the beach rest easy.
The Shrine of Order
They bought bows and arrows with some of the spoils, and headed onward. One night they all had bad dreams of a very tidy shrine, and its very orderly guardian, harshing the organic churning of their thoughts with painful pattern and rigidity. As they discussed this dream in the morning, finding that they all had the same dream, the innkeeper told them about a nearby Shrine of Order with its guardian of law. They decided they needed to take a look.
A perfumed eunuch from Kwantoom was going there too, taking an important message and flanked by guards. They steered clear of him, approaching from the bog side, infiltrating and using the grappling hook and rope to climb up on the wall.
They saw the four shrine servants, and the armored champion of law doing katas in heavy armor while the bored eunuch waited to talk to him. But we can’t disrupt the schedule, can we?!
They got out their bows, and lined up to fire in ambush all at once. They loosed the shafts, which sailed through the air but were subverted by the forces of order, landing around the champion in a perfect triangle of misses!
The chaos monks just couldn’t handle it, so they scarpered down the rope and retreated into the swamp, shaken by their brush with order that overwhelmed their puny resistance.
They arrived in Kwantoom. Ever the thrifty sorts, they headed to Kuan Loon, the trashed and poor part of the city. Trying a shortcut through a basement (they could see light on the other side, what could be the harm?) they disturbed a nest of cobras. Fortunately they were able to back out carefully, and not engage.
Karasu chatted up a visiting mercenary who was familiar with the area, asking after where they could buy makeup (because Choy Crabbreaker wanted some.) The friendly mercenary directed them to the Palace of the Red Glove, on the other side of the fighting pits.
While they headed that way, a cabbage merchant’s cart broke, spilling cabbages everywhere. They jumped back, but bumped into three seriously ugly warriors, who snarled at them in a language they didn’t understand. Karasu managed to stare them down without escalating to violence, and they decided they liked him. They gave him a medallion that matched their sword hilts; even though he didn’t speak their language (and wasn’t sure what they were) he was their new boss.
They bought some drinks in the Palace of the Red Glove, and while Choy was getting makeup and new clothes, the bartender explained to Karasu that his new friends were hobgoblins, and he was their mercenary boss–and good luck.
Maybe it was time to return to the Shrine of Order.