Shinobi Fuhonsen: a rant (spoilers, obviously)


Jade Regent


First off, I am a player in this campaign so, no spoilers please. I am just here to rant.

We killed the ninja assassin that was stalking us (pro tip: don't scry on people who are paranoid enough to always have Detect Scrying running, as they'll get a good look at you and eventually their own scrying will succeed and figure out where you are) and discovered this coin he was carrying. With enough Spellcraft rolls and enough castings of Legend Lore we got a lot of info on this thing and...what were the authors thinking here? I mean, this thing is seriously a dick move.

You have an item that:

  • You can't use, unless you want your party to have an evil PC in it
  • You shouldn't sell/use for bartering as it makes a sketchy, dangerous ninja clan just that much more dangerous
  • You also shouldn't sell/use for bartering because legend says it is one owner away from armageddon
  • You can't destroy because how many sovereign dragons have you come across so far?
  • You can't keep out of circulation because it will apparently circulate on its own
  • You can't destroy "later" because there's a time limit on the above
  • You shouldn't put off dealing with until "later" because see armageddon

I mean, seriously, what are players supposed to do with all that? I am all for moral dilemmas, but not Kobayashi Maru scenarios. That stuff is great in movies and literature, but it's a big <insert lewd gesture> in a cooperative game.

A request for future AP's: please don't do things like this.

Silver Crusade

The legend/rumour is just that, one line of flavor text.

As for being a bad (for you) item... it's a cursed item, those are bad by design.

If you wish to destroy it you need to make a quest out of it, which the GM should provide. Being in the final of the AP you should easily have the means of tracking down an Ancient Sovereign Dragon.


Rysky wrote:
If you wish to destroy it you need to make a quest out of it, which the GM should provide. Being in the final of the AP you should easily have the means of tracking down an Ancient Sovereign Dragon.

Which would maybe be fine, if it wasn't for the time limit before it disappears on its own.

Silver Crusade

Kali Nassim wrote:
Rysky wrote:
If you wish to destroy it you need to make a quest out of it, which the GM should provide. Being in the final of the AP you should easily have the means of tracking down an Ancient Sovereign Dragon.
Which would maybe be fine, if it wasn't for the time limit before it disappears on its own.

It's a month, so not too tight but not the most freedom to play with.


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Kali Nassim wrote:

You have an item that:

  • You can't use, unless you want your party to have an evil PC in it
  • You shouldn't sell/use for bartering as it makes a sketchy, dangerous ninja clan just that much more dangerous
  • You also shouldn't sell/use for bartering because legend says it is one owner away from armageddon
  • You can't destroy because how many sovereign dragons have you come across so far?
  • You can't keep out of circulation because it will apparently circulate on its own
  • You can't destroy "later" because there's a time limit on the above
  • You shouldn't put off dealing with until "later" because see armageddon

I mean, seriously, what are players supposed to do with all that?

Wow, I didn't realize how lucky my party was. First, the party included a Lawful Neutral ninja, Ebony Blossom, whose clan traditionally served the Amatatsu clan, so she was totally loyal to the escorted heirs. Second, the party also escorted Ameiko's half sister Amaya (spoiler-laden link), an oracle who served as the party healer.

Ebony Blossom received the Shinobi Fuhonsen. And after the new moon when Ebony Blossom's alignment moved one step toward Chaotic Evil, Amaya cast Atonement on her to restore her alignment. Amaya had encountered a prophecy that she should learn Atonement, because I was the GM and I planned ahead.

Ebony Blossom made good use of the coin, especially the Dimension Door ability. In the epilogue to the adventure, Ebony Blossom and Empress Amaya remained close and this monthly restoration continued for decades, though occasionally Amaya miscalculated and Ebony Blossom spent a month as Lawful Evil or True Neutral.


Yeah, Atonement has a specific use here, and it's likely the party has access to the spell (via Koya, for example): "Reverse Magical Alignment Change: If a creature has had its alignment magically changed, atonement returns its alignment to its original status at no additional cost."

If you have a good-aligned party member who has the skills needed to be a worthy owner, then even if you fail all the Will saves, you can keep reversing the alignment changes until you can destroy it.

Failing that, accept that the coin will disappear, wait for the end of the adventure, then cast Discern Location to find it again.


This use of Atonement feels like a violation of the spirit and letter of the spell. The first time your alignment shifts, yes, I can see the free version of the spell being allowed. But if you continue to use the item, knowing it's going to do it again, then you are slipping into "atoning for deliberate misdeeds" territory. Repeat offenses suggest you aren't truly repentant, and that is a requirement even for the 2,500gp version.

If you were holding onto it just to keep it out of circulation, then I can see this approach as being valid. It comes with a "tax" of needing a high-level cleric every failed saving throw (which, at this level, is probably only 5% of the time) and that's thematic and cool. But using its powers crosses the line IMO.

Another option, I suppose, would be accepting a geas/quest to find a sovereign dragon to destroy it. Then you can use the powers all you want and get free atonements, as they become a means to an end.


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For further information about carrying a small round metal object with a hole in it that is trying to turn you evil or escape into the hands of a more suitable evil master and which has useful infiltration powers that you can use but probably shouldn't, see The Lord of the Rings.


Matthew Downie wrote:
For further information about carrying a small round metal object with a hole in it that is trying to turn you evil or escape into the hands of a more suitable evil master and which has useful infiltration powers that you can use but probably shouldn't, see The Lord of the Rings.

What makes great literature is not necessarily what makes great gaming, and visa versa. But I sense you already know that and are just being clever, which is fine. I'd buy in if this is what the campaign was about, but it's not. It's an irritating distraction on a timer.


Kali Nassim wrote:

This use of Atonement feels like a violation of the spirit and letter of the spell. The first time your alignment shifts, yes, I can see the free version of the spell being allowed. But if you continue to use the item, knowing it's going to do it again, then you are slipping into "atoning for deliberate misdeeds" territory. Repeat offenses suggest you aren't truly repentant, and that is a requirement even for the 2,500gp version.

If you were holding onto it just to keep it out of circulation, then I can see this approach as being valid. It comes with a "tax" of needing a high-level cleric every failed saving throw (which, at this level, is probably only 5% of the time) and that's thematic and cool. But using its powers crosses the line IMO.

Another option, I suppose, would be accepting a geas/quest to find a sovereign dragon to destroy it. Then you can use the powers all you want and get free atonements, as they become a means to an end.

Further complication on Ebony Blossom is that she worshipped Yaezhing, the Tian-Shu deity of murder, death, and punishment which exceeds the crime. Her ninja clan was a mix of Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, and Neutral Evil. She did not need to atone for evil deeds, because those were expected of her. She avoided evil because it bothered the Amatatsu sisters, not because it bothered her. If the sisters did not know, well, in Forest of Spirits long before Ebony Blossom acquired the Shinobi Fuhonsen, she had secretly murdered one untrustworthy fellow traveler, because he had figured out that Ameiko and Amaya were royalty and tried to blackmail them.

The dice agreed with her. Her Shinobi Fuhonsen random alignment change toward Chaotic Evil always rolled as turning evil rather than more chaotic on the few times we rolled it.

Rather, her lord, Amaya, insisted on the Atonement. As a loyal servant, Ebony Blossom obeyed.

It fit the theme of our campaign, which was about Japanese tradition.

Shadow Lodge

Yeah, I can sympathize. How it turned out for my group?

We had already found out about the token, and my character (CG abjurer wizard) warned everyone not to touch it, as he'd safely scoop it into the Warding Box. The NE Irorist alchemist/fighter, always on the lookout for ways to perfect himself (I.E. make himself deadlier) picked it up via Sleight of Hand and used its newfound power to hide its presence.
Of course he botched his Will save and shifted to Chaotic. Of course, when we were planning an attack on a villain, he blew another save and decided to harm his friends. After successfully deafening none of his enemies and both of his caster allies (purely by accident), we encountered our target, he clearly used one of the token's abilities, and tried to solo a samurai with his poisoned dagger.

Fortunately, the enemy samurai killed him, then was, himself, dispatched. The cleric suggested revifying him, but we had to leave quickly, my wizard couldn't teleport that much dead weight, we all expected he'd still be CE when raised, we told him not to touch the thing, and the GM had already told the player aloud, "No more Evil characters."

So I disintegrated his corpse, prestidigitated the dust into his cloak, scooped the token into the Warding Box, and teleported us away. The player was understandably peeved at me, but later on, we did manage to find a sovereign dragon who willingly ate (and destroyed!) the Shinobi Fuhonsen. The player was given a retrained Ameiko, who managed to restore the throne while still finding herself and some of her descendants damned to Abaddon due to her willing decision.

So while the artifact itself presented a tricky new challenge to overcome, the problem was that it ended up in the wrong hands.


Bumping this a little because my players have picked the coin up and want to destroy it. Does anyone have suggestions on how to fill out the sidequest?

So far I'm thinking the players can easily identify relevant nearby dragons, but the main problem is getting to a dragon's lair. A bit of wilderness travel, diplomacy with local kami/fey/etc. to get the specific location, then fly/climb up the mountain and ask the dragon politely to help. Pick a couple of suitable encounters to make it challenging. Maybe throw in some ninjas (as at least some of the ninja clans will not want this famous ninja artifact to be destroyed), but the PCs have just killed one of the country's top ninjas, so the clans might be wary. (Besides, the group is probably a bit tired of ninja attacks by now.)

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