[Storm Bunny Studios] The Mists of Akuma: Eastern Noir Steampunk for D&D 5E Kickstarter has launched!!!

4th Edition

After launching just over 2 hours ago, the Mists of Akuma Kickstarter is already over 10% funded! :D

Stop by the Kickstarter page for four FREE PDFs (Mists of Akuma: Primer, Imperial Dragons, Martial Arts Feats, and Martial Arts Feats) to see what the world of Soburin is all about and get a host of awesome gaming content you can use in your Dungeons & Dragons 5E game right now!

Pledge levels run the gamut from just the PDF, a PDF and print-on-demand voucher, a gaming session for you and friends, including a trinket or spell in the book, or even making your very own prefecture in a four page spread of Mists of Akuma!

Give it a whirl and see if this dark take on an eastern fantasy world—one where technology, the former tools of oppressors, is either a source of fear or great power—is right for you and pledge to the Kickstarter campaign!

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@Mike - you list the Martial Arts Feats PDF twice...obe of the free PDFs is the Tsukumogami supplement, detailing hitorical objects that became alive after 100 years, and often go rogue. At least from reading the Kickstarter...

ObsessiveCompulsiveWolf wrote:
@Mike - you list the Martial Arts Feats PDF twice...obe of the free PDFs is the Tsukumogami supplement, detailing hitorical objects that became alive after 100 years, and often go rogue. At least from reading the Kickstarter...

Auuuugh and it's too late to edit! Thanks for pointing that out OCW. I was (and am still) way too excited to finally launch this project!

The tsukumogami PDF is awesome and I can't believe I failed to mention it. I can't decide if I like the Kaiyo Horror or the Kasa-Obake more!

Every other day throughout the Kickstarter campaign (which is going great! 33% funded and 10 backers away from the first threshold goal, unlocking 7 pregenerated PCs!) we're releasing a small short story that brings context to the world of Soburin. Read about Kanden the necroji ninja then stop by the project page and see what else Mists of Akuma has to offer!

Kanden and the Innocuous Kanzashi
Situated a few miles from the walls of Sanbaoshi, Masama Nipyurēta’s home was like estates of any of the Masuto Imperial family’s prized bengoshi officials: a sprawling fortress, practically a miniature city unto itself. Tightening the fittings on his augmetics and waiting for the nearby guard to turn her attention elsewhere, Kanden made a crouching dash for the wall and dived into its moat after a rapid sprint just as she began walking away. Ignoring most of the virulent toxins within the water the undead ninja approached the far shore, fitting nekode onto his natural (albeit fleshless) hand before sliding the metal digits of his augmetic into the bamboo bulwark. Ascending in a bound and using a few punctuated strikes, Kanden crossed over the top of the wall—wincing in pain at the electrified razorwire on its outside edge but easily enduring a shock that would kill a human—and into Masama Nipyurēta’s estate before the sentry turned back around.

Leaping onto an adjacent rooftop and crouching against the inside of the wall, Kanden assessed the security of the estate. More samurai (many with augmetics replacing their eyes or ears) wandered about the grounds and with so many enhanced warriors at his disposal, the necroji ninja thought, the masters were sure to garner valuable information from Nipyurēta. Mentally recalling the maps he’d been given and orienting himself with the front gate of the manor, Kanden silently jumped across buildings, keen to avoid detection and carefully watching the perimeter wall for any signs of sentries. Listening for the hiss of escaping pressure from one of their augmetics he carefully circled the second floor of the main house, working towards the northeastern corner and the Masuto bengoshi’s private study. Carefully unlocking a window and sliding it to the side, he slipped into the building and approached a table holding a tray of combs, ointments, and salves.

Kanden reached into his pocket and produced the item the masters had spent thousands of imperial pieces crafting: a simple kanzashi. A casual observer would never notice it, but behind the comb’s sheen of lacquered wood were antennae and receivers, able to record sounds and transmit them across great distances. Most importantly the item looked absolutely identical to one of Bengoshi Nipyurēta’s personal items, something sure to be near many private discussions of import. Taking the original kanzashi and breaking it between the mechanical fingers of his hand augmetic, Kanden depressed a small imperfection on its replacement, activating the device before slipping back out the window.

Dropping back to the ground to avoid the wall sentries and running along the perimeter of the fortress, Kanden spotted an opening forming between the guards stalking atop the bulwark. Bounding up on piston-powered steam augmetics, the necroji landed deftly atop a building, exposed for only a moment. Crouching low and judging how far of a leap would be needed to pass entirely over the wall, the modulated voice of a samurai bellowed out and caused the ninja to stumble, falling forward and back to the estate’s grounds, “HALT!”

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The first backer goal has been unlocked with the 100th pledge!

Check out the latest Kickstarter update to see two new augmetics, the Ancestral Weapon feat, and find the link for 7 free pregenerated PCs you can use to start adventuring in Soburin right away!

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MikeMyler wrote:
ObsessiveCompulsiveWolf wrote:
@Mike - you list the Martial Arts Feats PDF twice...obe of the free PDFs is the Tsukumogami supplement, detailing hitorical objects that became alive after 100 years, and often go rogue. At least from reading the Kickstarter...

Auuuugh and it's too late to edit! Thanks for pointing that out OCW. I was (and am still) way too excited to finally launch this project!

The tsukumogami PDF is awesome and I can't believe I failed to mention it. I can't decide if I like the Kaiyo Horror or the Kasa-Obake more!

No problems Mike. I also flagged the original post as being in the wrong forum as this isn't Pathfinder compatible - I'm not sure how I missed that earlier... Unless PF support exists as a stretch goal...

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Good to see some free pregens and pregens markers from beyond the eastern mists.;)

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:

No problems Mike. I also flagged the original post as being in the wrong forum as this isn't Pathfinder compatible - I'm not sure how I missed that earlier... Unless PF support exists as a stretch goal...

A lot of folks have been asking about it so a PF conversion is in the cards as a Stretch Goal (though there's another one ahead of it). :)

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Sounds pretty cool, I might have to check out the preview material and see if it's for me!

Dai-Lan and the Black Markets of Sanbaoshi
The sharp smell of solder filled the air, insufficiently masked by a musky incense that filled the small, dark room. Dai-Lan stood surrounded by shelves stuffed with inconsequential toys and bits—though some might even have value, they were just a front for the store’s real purpose.

Lan’s pack lay heavy against his belly, both literally and figuratively. He was eager to sell it; there was no telling when the Imperial Guard would make their next pass through the district. He drummed his fingers over the package once again until the shop’s owner—a mousy man who wore clothing far too large for him—finally appeared.

“I’ve got some new product.” Lan proposed, skipping over the formal greeting on account of the bad feeling he had. They would have minutes, at best. “But I am in a hurry, so...” he trailed off as he dumped out the cloth onto the table, the metal clanking heavily.

Nothing was particularly fragile, but the shopkeeper picked up each piece like it might fall apart at any second, examining them carefully from every angle: a small, powerful air compressor; a clockwork hand with a concealed, spring-mounted blade inside; a mouthpiece that enabled you to speak in a half-dozen different voices. None of it was particularly dangerous or even valuable—but all of it was just on the other side of Sanbaoshi law.

“I have some other pieces you might be interested in,” the shopkeeper drawled, producing a tiny yet complex sphere from within the folds of one of his sleeves, “This doodad, for example, can walk and even carry out simple instructions.”

Dai-Lan lacked the humor for this tired routine.“I have no need for toys. I am interested in gold.” The fact that every time he claimed to be in a rush, the shopkeeper would offer him a toy frustrated him greatly.

“I have a shirt made of golden chain,” the man offered. “It would go well with your complexion.”

“Coin. Imperial stamp. No more playing.” Lan frowned, causing his lips to purse and his ears to stick out unusually far from the sides of his head (even when he was in human form).

“Fine, fine,” the old man replied, looking at him wryly. “How does one hundred and fifty sound?”

It sounded like highway robbery but it compared favorably to getting thrown into prison—they don’t treat hengeyokai very well on the inside, even in the Imperial Prefecture. “Good enough. Quickly, I was not joking when I said I was in a hurry.”

The man behind the counter raised his eyebrows in half surprise, not expecting such a deal to have been accepted, and opened a concealed panel in one wall to reveal what must have been thousands of coins.

But Lan didn’t have a chance to count, or even collect. The door to the shop slammed open—all the more worryingly because Lan had locked it behind him—and he heard the sound of heavy footprints on the bamboo floor. A guard wearing imperial mountain armor, no doubt.

“Sorry, too late.” Lan muttered quietly, sweeping everything on the counter into the pack slung across his chest. Not wasting a motion, he leapt up over the tabletop—but Dai-Lan the man didn’t land on the other side. Instead there was a small monkey with slate-gray hair and golden eyes darting out the back of the shop.

“It isn’t what it looks like...” Lan heard the man exclaim to one of the guards who wasn’t attempting to follow him. At least the man didn’t know Lan’s name—and neither did he know the name of the shopkeeper. Anonymity was the best protection in the black market. So long as he could outrun the heavily armed fellow that was already falling behind, he’d be home free...

The project is 45% funded and less than 30 pledges away from the next backer goal!
Check out the latest project update to see the new adeddo-oni template!

A Priestess’ Mystery at Yomokita
Hibike Natsuko and the snake spirit Hiba (her ever-present kami guide) cautiously made their way into the village of Yomokita. Despite being the most productive mining village in the region, the streets were largely empty and quiet, with only a few lights in the windows.
“I don’t like this,” Natsu muttered.
Try this. You’ll like it even less. For an instant Hiba allowed her to briefly see as he could and she was suddenly aware that while the swamp was physically at the other end of the village, spiritually speaking it had almost engulfed the entire settlement. Before she could ask about the anomaly the familiar sound of chanting drifted to her ears—someone was trying to appease the kami. A young girl in apprentice’s robes sat near the edge of the swamp at a small, obviously hastily erected shrine. Not even the most devout could find fault with the fervency of the girl’s chanting, however. Her voice was hoarse, but she clutched the ceremonial gohei wand tightly with her trembling fingers.
Natsu approached slowly, stopping a few feet from the shrine. Clearing her throat startled the girl, causing the amateur devotee to nearly knock over the small shrine and its offering of fuki stalks. Hiba chose this inopportune moment to enter the corporeal world and the girl flailed still more before throwing herself on her face in a bow. “Are you the great snake of the swamp?” the young miko maiden asked quietly, peering through her fingers at the two. Natsu had to concentrate to not snort in laughter as Hiba arched his body vainly.
“No, child. My name is Natsuko. I’m a priestess, and this is my kami guide, Hiba-sama. We heard about the swamp and came to investigate.” The girl looked up at this, her eyes brimming with tears.
“You can’t!” She lunged forward and took ahold of Natsu’s ankle. “It’ll eat you just like it ate Kuzo-sensei!”
Natsu frowned. She hadn’t heard that the swamp was deadly to humans yet—it must be more advanced than they had initially thought. She knelt down and smoothed back the child’s hair. “Tell me what’s wrong, little one. Start from the beginning.”
The story spilled out of the girl in a torrent of sobbing explanations tinged with the guilt of personal failure. The swamp had come up from seemingly nowhere some weeks ago and had grown to impressive size within a few days as the village’s herd of goats disappeared. Then a few of the children went missing. Kuzo, the settlement’s priest, had attempted to first communicate with then console whatever kami had brought the swamp in its wake, but after it took the children the village pushed him to act directly. Three days ago after a night spent in prayer and preparation he had ventured into the swamp, leaving his apprentice—the young Uruzami—to tend the shrine in his absence. He had not returned. “It’s all right, Uru-chan,” Natsuko said, gently detaching the child from her leg. “Hiba and I will find the bottom of this.”
And by ‘this’,” Hiba hissed in her ear, “I hope you don’t mean that creature’s stomach.

We are 19 pledges away from the next backer goal (unlocking 5 MORE pregenerated PCs *immediately*!), there's a new Actual Play episode of Mists of Akuma with the RPG Academy Podcast, and if you stop by the RPGNet Chatroom tomorrow night at 9PM-11PM EST, I'm doing a live Q&A session about the Kickstarter!

Read all about it in the latest Kickstarter update!

The latest project update is loaded with awesome!
There's the transcript from the live Q&A on RPGNet Chatroom, a Creature Colleague article on Dave Gross' blog that explores the noir part of Mists of Akuma, and an episode of the Adventure Party Podcast where I'm a guest, discussing Pathfinder RPG, D&D Fifth Edition, the ENnies, and more!

Today we're also introducing the fifth legendary survivor of Soburin, a character written by Luis Loza: Tsunaro the Great Bolt!

Nobaru and the Masquerade

The clatter of wooden sandals echoed into the night as an otherwise empty alley in Daibendo played host to the two women. One was a collection of unkempt hair, a tattered kimono, soft skin, a young face, and lost, empty eyes. The other was far older with flowing, ash-colored hair, scholar’s robes twice her size, a landscape of wrinkles, and a look of utter annoyance. The two were a sight to behold, sprinting through the alley faster than its roaming dogs could flee from their approach.

This part of Daibendo was usually empty at this hour, shared only by the rare patrol after curfew—not that any guard would dare arrest Nobaru. She was well known in the city and drawing the old woman’s ire was nowhere on the list of a guard’s duties so they kept their distance. The alley led past the settlement to the beach beyond and the clatter of sandals drowned under the soft sands, kicking up black grains in every direction. Each woman slowed as they slogged through the sands, plodding through until reaching the edge of the water. Here the young woman stopped and Nobaru followed suit; the girl turned around, her eyes the color of rust with blood spilling forth from the edges.

“Enough, witch!” screamed the girl. Her voice shook the sands and her hair fell away in thick clumps, lost among the onyx sands underfoot. A fissure split on the left side of her scalp and rent its way down the rest of her face. From within emerged a long, slender, chitinous leg that darted out and almost grazed Nobaru. A second leg burst forth, followed by two more. The segments of her legs bent inward, planting in the sands and lifting the girl’s body as they stretched.

The old woman stared on as transformation continued. “I know what you are,” Nobaru threatened.

“You are a fool and know only lies,” hissed the creature, spitting a horrid acid the color of spoiled wine, boiling the sands beneath as it hit the ground.

“Tell me then,” continued Nobaru, “why do you hide in the mists?”

A rasping chuckle rose up in the creature, escaping through the girl’s mouth and the chasm in her head. “Old woman, we do not hide—to hide implies that we are afraid. No, we are not hiding, but lying in wait for our time to strike!” She spat the word with poison, the acid shooting straight at Nobaru’s chest. The woman vaulted away in time to avoid it, crashing into the sand.

Nobaru leapt to her feet to see the creature fleeing across the water at an inhuman speed; she could not catch her like this. The aged and weathered skin covering her own body molted away to reveal thick, sapphire scales beneath a long serpentine frame. Taking to the air in pursuit of the monster, Tsunaro the Great Bolt moved far more swiftly but her quarry had a significant lead—in just a few seconds, it escaped. The imperial dragon watched as the creature disappeared into the Mists of Akuma below, roaring in annoyance and turning away to fly off into the night sky.

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We're 13 backers from unlocking five more pre-generated PCs!
What more, one of the game designers that inspired me to become part of the industry has backed the project! Check out more on the latest project update and enjoy the second installment of Kanden's journeys in Soburin.

A Necroji Ninja and Oni Lord Nokao’s Fortress

For the hundredth time as he trekked the mountains of Osore, Kanden damned the Bengoshi Masama Nipyurēta. The winds here were cold enough to chill even his skeletal form and the experience was only slightly preferable to the graphically depictive alternative presented to him after the servant of the Masuto imperial family discovered the trespassing ninja—though he’d tried to strike it from his mind, he couldn’t help but think of all the necroji that must have gone through that rice mill already. Maybe freezing to death was the true punishment for his crime, Kanden mused to himself.

Scrambling over a stretch of rockface by jamming his augmetic hand into the ice, he crested yet another peak to reveal a fortress among the crags below him. Not only far removed from the one he’d penetrated just a week before, this estate was extremely different for a much more obvious reason—the ruler of this place was undoubtedly as monstrous as Bengoshi Nipyurēta, but oni lord Satsuji Nokao was considerate enough to appear that way. Satsuji was well known for his ruthlessness and Kanden believed it when the bengoshi explained that the ogre wu-jen had already dispatched a half dozen agents sent here for the Fan-Hand of Saru-No-Ō. The monstrous warlock was feared throughout the Osore prefecture as a butcherer, and the necroji’s hackles dropped a bit as he gazed over the sprawling castle grounds and realized that its overlord was not present. Short, spindly goblin sentries sat in one of the towers on the fortress’ corners, but the bakemono were clearly new recruits and not very smart (one had even managed to doze off to sleep); even from here Kanden could sense that defeating them would be easy.

Flitting off of an icy peak as a gale picked up and concealed by the snow, Kanden unleashed the pistons in his powerful legs to propel him a dozen paces in a leap down into the nearest guard tower, killing an unsuspecting bakemono instantly with a vicious kick to soften his landing. The sentry’s partner stumbled backwards as the ninja rolled to a knee, crouching low and unleashing his leg again to batter the remaining guard against a pylon. As he easily crushed the life from the armored goblin’s body, Kanden thought that the shinobi which failed to infiltrate this place must have been fools indeed to have been undone by such miserable creatures.

Then something caught his undead eye—obscured by the swirling white tempest and recessed back into the far guard tower to his north, the necroji could just make out the form of another bakemono guard, this one using a large blinded lantern to flash a sequence in his direction. As the sentry blocked and unblocked the light in a pattern Kanden desperately tried to deconstruct, the ninja picked up a large fan held by one of the dead creatures and flashed back the exact same sequence before leaping down onto the perimeter wall, bounding forward as quickly as possible. Hopefully the bakemono would be confused by his ruse long enough for him to reach them and cut them down; either way, this mission wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d expected.

We are a dozen backers away from unlocking five more pregenerated PCs!

Find out more about them in the latest update and check out the next vignette for Dai-Lan, Hengeyokai Thief Extraordinaire!

People of the Capital
Sanbaoshi was enjoying its first cloudless day in over a week. Not that it had been raining, but it had been mostly overcast, and it was nice to be out in the sun. Dai-Lan wasn’t the only one to think so—today the capital’s streets were absolutely packed.

Which is why Lan wasn’t on the streets. He was up on the third story roof, surrounded by tiny gears, springs, and plates of metal, and a single solid clockwork piece of complexity that went beyond even his understanding. The space was exactly large enough for the work he was doing and the hengeyokai sat calmly and cross-legged as his hands worked, allowing his mind to free itself from the physical demands of dismantling and reassembling clockwork.

As he tinkered his breathing steadied. The dreaded Mists of Akuma were all but forgotten on a day like today, and the air was warm and clear. He smelled fresh baking bread from nearby, and roasted pork dumplings. He heard the clamor of a hundred voices, the slapping of a thousand sandals on the paved streets, the clatter of coins and the soft tinkle of the small metal pieces in his hands—he was a part of the living, breathing city.

Looking down at the throng below with his mind unfocused, Lan began to recognize faces in the crowd. Some he had seen many times before, others he had known intimately. Most he was seeing now for the first time, or he had only seen in passing.

There, he recognized Gon-Baolin. An exception to Lan’s rule never to learn the names of his customers, Baolin was unique in that most of his body was now clockwork. His true nature hidden beneath elaborate and colorful robes, Baolin looked on the street more like a masked cripple. Those he passed beside gave him a wide berth for fear of catching some strange disease, not knowing that thanks to his mechanical lungs, Baolin might be the city’s only survivor if such a sickness were to strike.

Further down the street he recognized the flash of steel hurled high into the air. He knew the owner of those knives: his one-time lover Sho-Kim. She was an expert with a sword, masquerading as a simple street performer. Lan didn’t know the truth behind her, but she claimed to be a masterless samurai from before the coming of the mists—it wouldn’t be impossible, but if it were true it would mean she wasn’t the human she claimed to be, as she would have to be over a hundred years old (not a spritely and shapely young woman in her twenties). But then, despite appearances Lan wasn’t human either.

A click from his hands drew his attention. Lan looked down to see that the reassembly was complete: a clockwork hand with long, thin fingers. With a twist of a knob, each finger splayed out into long, flat blades, engraved upon which was a pattern of a dragon battling a tiger. The fan-hand augmetic was a common sight in Chikan, the “Star of the North”, where they combatted the Mists of Akuma just by blowing it away.


Still, now that it had been cleaned and fixed it would be worth a pretty penny to the right person. Maybe Baolin was in the market for a new hand...

It's been a killer weekend for Mists of Akuma!
We are now only THREE pledges away from the next backer goal, unlocking five more pre-generated PCs!

Check out the latest backer update for more details--if we make it in the next two days, a bakekujira will make it into the next update!

Natsuko and the Heart of the Swamp
Well it’s not a stomach. Hiba offered unhelpfully as Natsuko struggled to free herself from the vines at the bottom of the pool. But I guess I’ll see you in your next lifetime, right?
Hiba! she thought furiously at him. I don’t have any children, remember? There will be no ‘next time’!
Oh, right, the snake spirit relented. Fine then. There was a burst of warmth in her chest and flash of golden light as the vines fell away and Natsu kicked her way to the surface. She gulped air into her burning lungs and floundered onto the bank of the pool, grasping weakly at her fallen staff.
“So it’s not a kami creating the swamp,” she muttered between coughing up dirty water.
It’s the swamp itself, Hiba agreed as the mound of half-rotted swamp grasses rose up before them again.
Natsu groped for her exorcism slips, thankful for the magic that she had imbued them with that kept the ink from running.
“Hiba,” she panted as the slip of paper started to glow with blue fire, “I need you to look for any weak points.” The kami hissed his affirmative, and she could feel the ghostly tickle of his incorporeal form flexing. The priestess flung the paper at the malformed kami; it flew through the air like an arrow, sticking to the creature’s skin and igniting it with holy fire. Giving a burbling roar, the strange monster embodying the swamp’s energies raked its tree branch claws at Natsu, tearing a gash in her leg. Snatching up her staff, she managed to put distance between the two of them as the slip continued to burn.
I need a focus point, Hiba hissed in her mind, The swamp’s energy is all over.
Nodding, Natsu reached to her belt where her prayer beads hung, the feel of the well-worn wood comforting in her hand. They were not her personal set, but one handed down from her mother, and her grandmother before her and so on, all the way back to when Hiba had first merged with their bloodline. Chanting to herself, she focused the bead’s power into honing Hiba’s spiritual senses and was rewarded with a triumphant hiss.
There! Suddenly Hiba’s sight was her sight and she could sense a point at the kami’s center. It had never been an animal or plant—it was an item of some sort, corrupted into the monster before her. The Mists must have tainted it. We have to end this, Hiba hissed, all of his usual humor gone.
Stashing her ancestral beads, Natsuko instead grabbed at her own set, the one she had been gifted with the day she completed her training. Dodging in between the creature’s attacks she gripped her staff in both hands, focusing her devotion; a snake of golden light formed around it and she struck out at the monster, the weapon passing effortlessly through grass and logs alike until it hit the center.
The kami roared again, falling apart as a shining bell was knocked from its body—a shrine bell, she realized, taking a knee as the swamp began to shrink around her.

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The 150 pledge backer goal has been unlocked!!!

Check out the latest update for five new pre-generated PCs (with game tokens for digital tabletop players) and a preview of the bake-kujira, a fell undead whale and pound for pound one of the nastiest enemies you can toss at a D&D 5E group!

Help us choose the next backer goal and check out some of the background, class, and race options with the surveys in the latest update!

Torii Gate of the Toads
When the fact that I had lost access to the fabled Library of Scrolls finally settled upon me, I was somewhat saddened, but in my despair I remembered the words of the Great Sage Kioshi of Namida: “Let no man suffer for living.” I was alive and more than just that, able to continue my research and my journey—in that I counted my blessings, such as they were. Still that loss bit deeply and in its own way, affected my dignity. With that in heart and mind, I set off for Konbo, in the lands to the south.

Crossing the border into Osore was no small feat and had it not been for the humble and wise guidance of a mute monk—whom I discovered, happily drinking from a small, ceramic bottle of sake by an old shrine in the small mountainside village of Saihaku—I may have not made it past the torii gate. Perhaps some of the old spirits from that shrine were smiling on the pair of us (temporary traveling companions as we were) on our way to a prefecture where science was still embraced and encouraged by Clan Osore. My hopes were that I might use their libraries, since the clan had once allied itself to the Kengen and might still be open to outsiders like me. I didn’t express this to the two guards, however; with their green armor and faceplates styled to resemble a fierce toad, it seemed to be a poor idea. Instead I explained that I was accompanying my new friend to his home in Konbo. He only nodded, smiled, and hiccupped to accent my point. The samurai, likely more interested in returning to their tea than talking with two clanless fools, nodded and waved us through.

It took us the better part of a week to reach the riverside city. Konbo was nestled inside what could only be described as “the rice bowl” of Osore, with all of the surrounding hills terraced and filled with farmers tending to their paddies. It was a city cast in golds, greens, and bright reds, the clan banners billowing back and forth in the winds. Just beyond the settlement the river terminated, itself littered with hundreds of junks, some bellowing exhaust, others bobbing up and down on the water in serene silence.

As soon as we crossed into the city formal my quiet companion waved and departed, still sipping from his little ceramic bottle. I spent several hours wandering, lost in thought and marveling at the little technological wonders that defined the city. Making my way to the docks I found a small army of engines pumping a mixture of steam and smoke up into the air. The shouts, the smells, all of it called to me and it wasn’t long before I found myself hired out for the day, helping to unload the cargo from a junker called Engimono. With the setting of the all-too-pale sun I joined the regular dockhands in a local tavern and soon learned of a curiosity that piqued my interest—they had heard that a fabled technological relic called the Fan-Hand of Saru-No-Ō was in the city of Chikan, not far from their next destination (the port city of Jinkosugu).

By the evening’s end, I had made arrangements to join them.

We are more than 75% funded (over $5,500!) with less than two weeks to go!
Check out today's update for info about the found Imperial Sibling, the Clan of the Phoenix, and the survey results (so far!) for what to reveal when the project reaches 200 pledges!

A Paper Kami and Imperial Dragon
Even for a library the building was deathly quiet. Nobaru slipped past the guards with relative ease, their ward seemingly found within their eyelids instead of within the Library of Scrolls. She did not fault them for their lax vigilance—they knew not what was kept inside.

The Library of Scrolls was the smallest library in all of Sanbaoshi and the perfect hiding place for lost tomes. The building mostly held artwork from the distant past: paintings, poems, and great tales detailing old myths and legends that some say still held power. Each was a marvel even for the common folk, but there was truth to the tales told about some of the relics.

Nobaru moved past shelves of parchment, gliding as if walking on a bed of air. At the furthest end of the library sat a small table topped with cups and saucers arranged in preparation for the morning’s tea ceremony. She moved the table aside with an ease unbefitting of a senior such as herself and with a long, sharp nail she cut into the rug below, revealing a trap door in the wooden floor. Beneath it she found a massive room filled with bookcases stuffed with all manner of tomes and scrolls.

The old woman began her search, walking through the aisles of meticulously catalogued annals, chronicles, and files. After hours of combing she was finally at the bookcase she sought. Reaching for the tome she required, the scrolls surrounding it spilled forth in an avalanche of paper. Nobaru jumped back and watched as the scrolls folded upon themselves into a mass that grew larger and larger before taking the shape of a paper lion, squatting down before her and ready to pounce. It shook its mane, causing the parchment to crumple and rip before folding back on itself to repair any imperfections with a musical quality that rang out in a grinding hum.

“What you seek is forbidden,” warned the lion in a cacophony of riffles.

“I know what I seek guardian,” spat Nobaru in aggravation. “The Mists of Akuma are a peril that’s remained for too long. It is imperative I learn more about them. Now stand down—you would not be the first paper kami I’ve faced.”

The lion roared and leapt at the elderly woman, swiping at her face with its claws, but Nobaru ducked under the beast with uncanny grace. As it landed the kami refolded itself into a mantis, lashing out at her with razor-barbed legs and striking true, slicing her arm. With an enraged growl she gave the mantis a kick and it fell apart into scrolls that quickly refolded into a swarm of paper monkeys. The primates overwhelmed Nobaru, drowning her in a pile of parchment before a mighty roar rang forth and parchment exploded in every direction. From beneath rose a long, serpentine dragon clad in turquoise scales.

The paper was still.

Tsunaro the Great Bolt snatched a tome from the shelf and returned to the surface, deigning not to assume her lesser form and flowing through the air with ease, coiling her body through the passages before slinking out of the building. The guards remained ignorant in their slumber as the imperial dragon floated away into the night sky.

As we near the end of the Kickstarter's funding period we finish Kanden the Necroji Ninja's story and take a look at one of the artists for Mists of Akuma (Indi Martin) in the latest project update!

Bengoshi Nipyurēta’s Revenge
It seemed that Kanden’s true purpose in infiltrating the home of Masama Nipyurēta, servant of the imperial Masuto family, had been discovered—though he was quite sure that the technological duplicate of the bengoshi’s kanzashi was too perfect a replication to have given him away, the crushed remains of the original comb could have caused the current situation in which the necroji found himself. After returning from the oni lord’s castle to hand over a decanter highly valued by the ogre wu-jen that formerly owned it, the undead ninja was nearly decapitated by Bengoshi Nipyurēta’s attendant samurai before throwing down a smoke bomb and disappearing in the black fog. Led onward by warriors equipped with advanced electrolenses or high-functioning hornears, the lord’s lackeys gave chase and Kanden lured them towards the Chōkōsōbiru bamboo forest, hoping to lose them among the thickets.

After a mile of looping trails in a route he’d hoped would throw his pursuers off, the necroji realized with a sinking sensation that they had managed to surround him, many of the samurai simply cutting down the woods around them rather than falling for his ploy. Nearing the two closest torchlights, Kanden activated the Fan-Hand of Saru-No-Ō augmetic replacing his hand, switching the blades to on and sending a gust of wind that extinguished the lights of many of his pursuers. Only the radiance of the moon shone down now, leaving the ninja in an ideal position: most of his enemies were not at home in the darkness, but to him it was practically daylight.

Lurching from the east came a huge samurai wielding a tetsubo, dashing forward so quickly that Kanden was forced to take her strike into his raised arms. Most of the club’s impact resonated across his skeletal body, softening the blow, and in response he stabbed into her exposed neck with his metallic hand, ripping out her throat in a grisly and satisfying slurch. Before he could disappear in the gap she left in the encroaching circle of warriors one of the woman’s slender allies leapt forward on steamleg augmetics not unlike Kanden’s, landing a katana strike that nearly lopped off his bony arm and destroyed the Fan-Hand of Saru-No-Ō. Replying in kind, the ninja kicked him away with a telescopic leg and followed it with a flurry of poisoned kunai, quickly downing the man.

Then a pair of samurai began to charge at the necroji from either side and Kanden realized that he might not ever leave this place. The unadorned swordsmen had no augmetics but flitted forward quickly all the same, slashing away as they sprinted forward. Behind each the woods were crashing down onto the ground in cacophonous waves, every swipe of their blades so perfect that all of the bamboo stalks stood tall for a few moments after being cut before sliding down onto the forest floor and pitching down onto the ground. Reaching into concealed compartments in his robes, Kanden unleashed a half dozen kunai at each of his assailants but they easily smacked the daggers out of the air before reaching him and the last thing he sees is the keen edge of a katana glittering in the moonlight, the sharp steel only a fraction of an inch from his unliving eye.

In today's project update we take a look at illustrator Nathanael Batchelor and get a taste of what sort of artistic talent he brings to the Mists of Akuma, as well as bring an end to the tale of Dai-Lan the monkey hengeyokai and thief extraordinaire!

Hengeyokai and a Dirty Job
Shards of broken glass flew everywhere, crashing against the walls and skidding along the ground. It stopped only where it stuck to droplets of blood that had been splattered onto the paved stones moments before.

The jagged tip of the broken bottle was nothing to sneeze at, the monk knew, but the man behind it was hardly a seasoned warrior. Not that Lan truly considered himself to be either seasoned or a warrior, but he was a disciplined and capable combatant—his opponent with the bottle, well, he was there to soften Lan up.

Which was the rub, because there was a tight cluster of women not far behind him who were undoubtedly going to jump in when their “friend” went down.
No point in delaying the inevitable.
Lan feinted right, drawing the tip of the bottle away from his chest, then struck the man’s left ankle, sending him to the ground with a wet crack as his head hit the street.

The trio behind him, women in loose kimonos that did nothing to conceal their blades or fangs, were quick to react—just not as quick as Lan had been. He struck the arm of one, sending the wakizashi she had begun to draw scattering off along the ground as he kneed another in the chest. Rather than muscle and bone however, she was wearing some sort of ceramic armor beneath her kimono, and while a piece of plating cracked from the impact the woman within was barely staggered.

“Give us the hand, monkey,” the woman called out, bringing her blade around to remind Lan this was no request. The tip caught him just above the eye, drawing a crimson ribbon of blood that burned far more than it should. Which meant these kumo were using poison. At least he was pretty sure they were kumo—Lan could usually tell if someone wasn’t human—and he got a dreadfully creeping vibe from the trio.

Speaking of their number, he had lost the third. His eyes caught a glint in the night sky and Lan saw that she had managed to climb fifteen feet above, readying throwing knives in each hand. As she did, the first woman had her sword again, pinning Lan from the other side.

It was time to stop playing around. He plucked a toothpick-sized straw from behind his ear and swung it around; as it span it expanded until it was six feet of burnished wood and brass. The kumo in front of him hadn’t expected it and even as she raised her blade to parry, he broke one or possibly both of her arms with the force of the blow, using the leftover momentum to spin around and catch the kunai that the spider hengeyokai above him had thrown.

Without a word, the two standing women began to flee in different directions—but it was personal now. His other hand produced a haft of polished metal and pulled the trigger on the technological device. Both barrels of the short pistol went off with a thunderclap and a flash of light that would draw guards at any hour of the night, but the bullets found their mark and the kumo on the rooftop fell down to the street below.

The other two women were gone and it would take too long to reload or chase them down—but he had their measure. The man he had hit earlier was groaning. Good, Lan thought; he hoped the fellow would survive, and it wasn’t his fault this guy was driven into this mess.

Looking down and seeing how the bottle had torn his shirt open, Lan lamented that he’d need a replacement. Rather than pay for it himself he tore a string of coins from the fallen kumo’s neck, his ears pricking up as the sound of people approaching came from around the corner. Not keen on being pinned for any more murders, Lan vaulted up the wall and vanished into the night, leaving the unfortunate drunk to explain things to the Imperial Guard.

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Check out today's update for the Legendary Survivors PDF (filled with awesome stuff, from new steampunk prosthetics to an undead soldier race and paper kami monsters!) AND a look at the different clan's flags!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/verantheacodex/mists-of-akuma-eastern- fantasy-noir-steampunk-for/posts/1586599

It's a close race and we're only 23 pledges from the next backer goal -- be one of the folks to push us over of the top!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/verantheacodex/mists-of-akuma-eastern- fantasy-noir-steampunk-for/posts/1588831

A Challenge in Chikan

I didn’t have many plans when I headed for Konbo, only my suspicions. With spring upon us the weather warmed and I was reminded of my youth—it made me want to set out on new journeys, to discover the secrets of the Imperial Dragons that had brought me to Sorubin so long ago—but the changing season provided its own challenges as well. As the weather warmed the natural fogs, especially in the lowlands, became unspoken borders. While I had seen the real Mists of Akuma before (with their telltale deep violet smoke), not everyone had. Worse, everyone knew the mists changed men and as a result, few wanted to take unnecessary risks.

Luckily for the crew and I, our junker made it to Jinkosugu without issue. The crew cried out, “Yatta!” when we finally pulled into the small bay, and before noon I was walking toward Chikan. The settlement was, in many ways, the northern cousin of Konbo; it had its differences, but they were subtle. Rumored to be built atop the bones of a fallen Imperial Dragon, Chikan differed in its reverence for the past and more so for their (some say heretical) traditions. While others prefectures might still hold tight to three millennia of long-practiced traditions, many in Chikan had adopted more modern ways. It made sense that I might learn more of the fabled Fan-Hand of Saru-No-Ō here, as well as gain some of the lost lore about the dragons I so admired.

Most of my afternoon was spent gathering information from the locals I met, and were it not for my tender age I fear many would have ignored me and passed me by. However enough did not, and before dusk I was wandering the city’s narrow, dirty alleys looking for a shop called The Forgotten Forge, a place supposedly owned by a foreigner like me. After several hours navigating the byzantine streets and shortly before true night fell I found the store, a dim light glowing through its shuttered and locked windows.

It took me a few breaths to work up the courage to knock—there was an unnatural feeling about this place and while I wasn’t one to believe in “auras,” something about this shop struck me as foreboding. I raised my hand to knock but before I did, the door cracked open.

The amber light that leaked out from inside had a warming glow but it wasn’t nearly as comforting as I might have hoped. I found myself in a small room, no more than a large closet really, with two chairs and a single, small black table. Two cups of tea rest on it, both still steaming. Although there were two chains, both were empty. I quickly removed my sandals and took a seat.
Then, over an old, crackling speaker, a voice called out. “Mr Karrooc,” it said (in perfect Ropaeon, I might add), “you have traveled far for a secret. If you are willing to work on behalf of my bengoshi, you will have it.”

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There are 2 days left to the Kickstarter and we have funded! Check out a preview of the "Revenge of the Pale Master" adventure that unlocks when we reach $7,500 funding!

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