Anachronistic Ninja Chronos
(05-06-2021, 02:03 AM)Jingo Wrote: Whaaaa---? Awesome!

For the record: I have no idea where I'm going with this.  The idea occurred at the spur of the moment.
NOTE: I know this is the internet, and things tend to float around.  That’s fine, and my material is posted freely, but if you’re inclined to share it elsewhere, please provide a link back to the original, or at least mention my username.  Thanks.

I think it may be time to break out the cut-up oracle again, because things have taken a decidedly strange turn.

321 = 321[d1000]

283 = 283[d1000]

255 = 255[d1000]

• other bank? When I
• eagerly forward, saw the
• And on the morrow he
• a mindless automaton that hears
• died where they stood,

• what you may do.
• helmets, their lances rising
• thrusts and swings cut empty
• You must have lain
• slopping over on his heaving

• is a dagger!’
• removed. Then the blacks
• closed, Conan saw only
• You can never cut your
• to be listening. ‘Listen

Rain and Yūri expect an immediate attack by the ninja who surrounded them in Lord Shimizu's castle, but that attack doesn't come.  They ARE surrounded, but the ninja are in a wide circle around them, utterly still and inhumanly dark.  Even where there ought to be exposed eyes from behind the mask, these ninja have nothing but blackness.  "Inhuman" is the right word, because these are NOT people.

What else comes as a surprise: there appear to be no actual humans around.  Instead they see the apparatus of some complex machinery — not that they really understand what they're looking at — that's operating on its own.  An independently functioning device served by "mindless automaton[s]."  Under other circumstances, Rain and Yūri might have "died where they stood."

But this does mean they won't fight.  As far as they're concerned, some dark sorcery has conveyed them to a hell realm of sorts, one of exposed metal and bright lights, the air shimmering with static.  Rain and Yūri ready their weapons.

Do the ninja react?

No, and...

... one by one, they dissipate like smoke until the kunoichi are alone with "empty [air]."

They are ostensibly alone, but Rain cannot shake the feeling that they're being observed, and something appears "to be listening."

You can likely imagine the scene facing them here: high-tech equipment, brushed steel and glass.  LED readouts.  Flashing highlights of chrome.  The throbbing sound of the great machine which transported them here as it slowly winds down.  But still no people.  Where are the people!?

Do any appear?

Yes, and...

... they're protected by glass barrier used to observe the displacement platform.  Because that's what I'm calling it now.

How many there are will influence how I interpret this scene, so let's ask.  Are dealing with a couple of people?

Yes, but...

... more soon arrive.  They study Rain and Yūri through the glass, pointing and talking.  They are a mix of faces, not all Japanese, and their words are muffled by the barrier.

Meanwhile, Rain looks for an out.  There have to be exits, so we won't roll for that.  But are they secured?


Rain tries them anyway to no avail, with Yūri watching her back.  They are in a bizarre and frightening situation, one that even an experienced ninja would have no frame of reference for deciphering.  They've just faced incorporeal ninja and been shifted through time.  They're now being scrutinized by the scientists responsible for bringing them here.  And now, when the exit finally opens, there are armed men.  Though armed with weapons unrecognizable to ninja from the 15th Century.

I'm going to assume there are at least twice as many goons as there are ninja, because nobody would be foolish enough to send equal, or inferior, numbers against a couple of armed time travelers.  The only question is whether there are more than four.  Are there?

No, and...

... the men seem to be under orders not to engage in an aggressive manner.  Rain has her ninjatō bared and ready for action.  Yūri is the same.  They may not be the most powerful ninja, but they can hurt these guys.

A speaker crackles on.  Someone addresses them in Japanese.  A man?


Okay, it's a woman.  A scientist, as we can infer, and maybe even the one in charge of this facility.  Her Japanese isn't a perfect approximation of what Rain and Yūri speak — even Japanese has changed somewhat over five hundred years — but she can be understood.  She says the kunoichi are in no danger, and that they are safe among allies.  No one needs to get hurt, but those ninjatō have to get sheathed.

Rain may not know what a submachine gun looks like, but she knows the body language of a confidently armed combatant.  She urges Yūri to stand down.  They sheathe their weapons and surrender (for now) to their hosts.

Because I'm not sure what happens in the next scene, I need a booster.  Time to go for the cut-up oracle.  I'm only going to generate one block, though, because the situation doesn't have to be woven from whole cloth.

762 = 762[d1000]

• the ghoulish travelers to whatever
• out that the king is
• gate, and rode into
• dark. Instantly the brute
• are changed. It is

They're escorted from the displacement chamber into another space.  Here they see the generators which power the great machine.  This is all in the upper floors of a big building, so we imagine large panels of glass which allow in the outside world to a limited degree.  Is it daytime?


Probably just as well.  This is all the more disconcerting at night, and even artificial lighting is a mystery to these kunoichi.

The armed men want to herd them into some kind of tiny cell without bars (an elevator), and there's hesitation on Rain's part, but ultimately she accedes.  She and Yūri are guided by Yūri's superior wisdom, which is to say that they ought to do whatever is asked of them until the opportunity arises to kill them all and escape.  No one's tried to take their weapons yet, so they're equipped to make that escape if/when the time comes.

At last they are led to a chamber fit for a "king."  The woman scientist is there, along with more armed guards, and... THE GIANT.

Or is it?  It's hard to tell without the armor he wore on the battlefield when Lord Okamoto's forces were so roundly defeated.  But here he is, wearing a dark suit at the right hand of... a man?

Yes +Twist: Organization / Helps the hero

This man uses the scientist as a translator.  His name is — quick check of Behind the Name — Timothy Eason.  He is the lord of this place (roughly translated), and these are his vassals.  This woman, Dr. Morimoto, is his advisor.  Rain and Yūri are in his lands, which are far from the places they knew.

Rain and Yūri are not his enemies.  He honors women like them, and has many in his service.  And though this may seem unbelievable to them, it's not the first time this has happened.  Glance at The Giant.  It's within his rights to have them both executed on the spot, but he prefers to have them in his service.  They are ninja, right?  Then pledge their services to him and he will reward them, because any mission they were on previously is OVER.

Will Rain and Yūri abandon their service to the Ishida Ryu, even if temporarily, in order to preserve their lives and a chance at escape?  I guess we'll find out next time.
And so Rain and Yūri become part of a new and strange era filled with the sort of technology the 15th century would consider magic.  Their first experience beyond the displacement being a thorough battery of examinations.  They may not be the first to come through, but they still need to be checked out.  It's an uncomfortable and even frightening process — medicine wasn't exactly advanced in the 1400s, either — but they get through it.  The living spaces they're given aren't spacious, but they aren't cells.

In the days which follow they're going to want a couple of things, I'd wager: 1) to know where exactly they've arrived, and 2) what they're meant to do now that they're in this new place.  To usher things along, I'll check the cut-up oracle again.

I should say that the cut-up oracle recommends three to five sets of fragments, but I find that's entirely too much for my needs.  If I want a scene, I don't need layers and layers.  Just a simple idea of what's incorporated, and maybe a quick bit of inspiration for content is all I'm looking for.

294 = 294[d1000]

• you see we’ve drifted inshore
• caused has been properly estimated
ª magic which is greater than
• for he knew that voice
• a small thing I ask

Their primary point of contact during all this is the scientist who first welcomed them into this time.  I generated a name over at Behind the Name and it came out, I swear to God, as Akari Shirai.  If that's not appropriate, given why I started this thing, I don't know what is.  So it's Dr. Shirai.

Dr. Shirai has her work cut out for her explaining something as esoteric as travel through time and space, but she does her best to explain.  History and events are like currents, and they have ways of dipping into those currents like a net seeking fish.  But those nets can drift, and what they catch isn't exactly what they were looking to find.  Their target was Lord Shimizu, just as he was Rain and Yūri's, and they got him, but the net picked up the two of them at the same time.

So... magic?  Sure, magic works, because though Rain and Yūri aren't brilliant, even a sharp mind from that age would probably not be able to grasp this at one go.  Better to leave it at that.

But Rain DOES understand the "voice" of the gaijin Eason.  He speaks like a lord though he's clearly not from Nippon.  He has authority and clearly he's powerful if he can marshal all these bizarre resources.  And all lords want something, especially from ninja.  A ninja is a tool.  Already he has the strange ninja they witnessed on the night of Lord Shimizu's death.  What does he ask of Rain and Yūri?

It's quite simple: they will kill.  It's the ninja art, and if they were in Lord Shimizu's fortress on the night in question, they have skills.  But more than that, "Lord" Eason asks for something else: to tap into their essence.  His ninja must learn, and to learn they have to have an exemplar.  Rain can be that, as can Yūri.  In fact, Dr. Shirai says, they've already done it.  Remember how events and plays exist in currents?  A net can be dipped anywhere, at any time, and what's done today can happen yesterday.  In days to come they'll draw from Rain's body and mind, but the knowledge they gain will travel to yesterday in order to create today.

Again, Rain has no idea what this talk is all about, but she's not exactly in a position to say  no.

Therefore the process begins.  From our perspective, which understands this kind of technology, they're drawing DNA samples at the most basic level, but modeling Rain and Yūri's brains at a more advanced level.  They want to get at what makes them THEM, and glean knowledge they may not even know they have.  Imagine Dr. Shirai telling another character this as the work is done.  They're going to obtain this data, then displace it to a point where it can be used to create the smoky ninja we saw kill Lord Shimizu.  It's ALREADY HAPPENED, so they know they'll be successful today.  And it starts to make you wonder if maybe they didn't actually grab Rain and Yūri by accident.

Whatever the case, the process takes some time, but when it's over, they have what they need.  But now I'm starting to wonder: are they being told the truth?

User Teviko604 suggested I use these tables when a situation like this arises, and I think I'm going to do that now.  To keep things simple, I'm going to cut right to Table 8.

7 = 2[d6]+5[d6]

The result is: "mostly false."

I think I see where this is going.  Let's continue and find out.

Dr. Shirai takes everything she needs from Rain and Yūri.  She then says there's one, last thing to do before they're finished, and it'll involve another poke with a needle.  Except maybe Rain gathers this isn't quite right?

I'm going to make a roll here based on the "hear noise" skill possessed by all characters of the ninja class.  One of the things I like about early versions of roleplaying games is their flexibility and ease of interpretation.  There aren't rules for everything, but almost any rule or element can be put to use in every situation you can imagine.  So let's imagine here.  Yes, "hear noise" seems clear cut, but what kinds of things can a ninja hear?  Could she, say, discern the difference between someone telling the truth or lying?  Little deviations in tone?  Alterations in body language?  These are masters of deception, so detecting that would be a natural skill.

So let's roll those percentile dice, shall we?  There's a 50% chance Rain can detect the lie.

35 = 35[d100]

And she DOES figure out Dr. Shirai is lying.  Though the technology of this age is vastly different, two things in this situation are as old as time: human nature and poison.  Rain's able to determine Dr. Shirai is lying, and she's wise enough to know what's in that needle will kill her now that Rain's no longer useful to them.

I'm not even going to bother rolling the attack, because Dr. Shirai isn't going to provide the slightest resistance to a trained killer.  And Rain, though sitting on an examination table in her paper gown, is definitely that.  She disarms Shirai and flings the syringe across the room.  With no idea exactly how she's going to proceed, she lunges for the door.

But what about Yūri?  Is her examination area adjacent to Rain's?

(8[d10]) Yes

Rain bursts into the hallway.  Seconds later, Dr. Shirai sounds the alarm.  A voice announces an emergency, lights flare and rotate.  Rain knows where Yūri is, and they're reunited within moments.  But they're unarmed and trapped in a place they're only partly familiar with.  And guards are coming.

Can they find their way?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... within seconds they find potential escape route blocked by security.  Which makes me ask the usual questions.  Are there a couple guards?

(8[d10]) Yes

Okay, so it's not that bad.  Two members of security and two ninja.  Though the ninja are practically naked and don't have weapons, whereas the guards have... lethal force?

(8[d10]) Yes

Do they also have non-lethal arms?

(8[d10]) Yes

No one wants bullets flying around in this place, so the security men brandish their collapsible batons.  They move in.

Initiative for the guards!

3 = 3[d6]

Initiative for Rain/Yūri!

6 = 6[d6]

Don't underestimate a ninja, guys.

I'm going to give these men the same stats as the ashigaru from the initial battle.  That's OSR flexibility in action.

Armor Class: 7
Hit Points: 3
Attacks: baton (1d6)
Special: none
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 1/15

There are no unarmed combat rules in the White Box.  Again, no surprise, because who needs specific rules for that?  I'll consider the ninja capable of inflicting 1d4 HP of damage on a successful hit because, let's face it, they're ninja and they're deadly in any circumstance.

Before the men can even bring their batons to bear, Rain and Yūri are in motion.

Rain strikes!

16 = 16[d20]

She only needed a 12, so that's a hit.  Damage?

1 = 1[d4]

She leaps in, landing a solid kick to his chest, which is enough to take him back a step.  At the same moment, Yūri attacks the other.

14 = 14[d20]

4 = 4[d4]

Yikes!  Yūri is a deadly assassin even in these conditions.  The guard swings, but she ducks under it, slipping around and behind the man to strike at his exposed back.  A blow to the base of his skull does more than stun him.  It kills him instantly, and he drops to the floor.

Rain's adversary is still alive, however, though his HP has been reduced to 2.  He gets a shot at her, swinging wildly with his baton.  The target number here is 10.

4 = 4[d20]

She dodges, twists and evades as he tries to land a blow on her.  Rain is like an eel, slipping every  attempt the man makes to harm her.  And then it's her turn.

13 = 13[d20]

Any success is a success, right?

4 = 4[d4]

Rain slips the man's last blow, moves within the arc of his swing and drives the heel of her palm into his face, spiking his brain with the force of the blow.

And, yes, I know that doesn't really happen in real life, but this ain't real life and something like that is cool.  I'll always take cool over realistic, especially if it's in a situation like this.

With the guards dead, they have a chance to move, but those alarms are still sounding and there are likely more guards like these on the way.  And with the two kunoichi having dispatched these men, the others are not going to be as forgiving.  Forget what I said about bullets getting thrown around.

They run, but where?  Do they have any better idea now than they did before?

(3[d10]) No

This floor is a maze, with thing looking much like the other.  Staff and personnel have locked themselves into their labs, gawking at Rain and Yūri through the windows as the woman streak past.  It's only a matter of moments before they're caught by the guards again, right?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... they've come in greater numbers this time.  I'm going to skip "a couple" and ask, are there a few?

(2[d10]) No

A handful?

(4[d10]) No

Okay, this is not good.  Why do my characters always end up in these situations!?

So they're up against many.  I'll estimate that to be somewhere between six and ten, so let's roll and see what we get.

7 = 7[d10]

More than they're going to be able to take out quickly, but not impossible odds.  Unless they have guns and are willing to use them.  Are they?  Willing, that is?

(6[d10]) Yes, but... +Twist: Emotional event / Changes the goal

... something has changed, though we the audience don't know yet.  I do, but I'm going to withhold that information because I'm a tease.

Initiative for the guards!

1 = 1[d6]

Initiative for the kunoichi!

5 = 5[d6]

Once again, the ninja women are faster than these armed men.  And a good thing, too.  They have no choice but to wade into these guys and hope for the best.

Rain attacks!

15 = 15[d20]

Yūri attacks!

10 = 10[d20]

Less success for Yūri this time, but Rain has a shot.

3 = 3[d4]

A twist, slip and Rain is close enough to a guard to punch him in the throat, crushing his larynx and suffocating him within moments of his hitting the ground.  Meanwhile, Yūri finds herself locked in combat with another of the guards.  He has skills, and he's not going down so easily.

One rule of thumb I use in situations like these is I never allow more than three enemies to be engaged in melee combat with a character at any one time.  There's only so much room around someone that even if there are a dozen combatants, they all don't get a strike in because it's too crowded.  Rain just killed one of her three, so that leaves two in a position to attack.  Remember the target number here is 10.

7 = 7[d20]

3 = 3[d20]

Rain is a whirlwind.  She ducks and blocks and simply just isn't there as the guards try to get her.  Hair whipping.  Skin glistening with sweat.  The alarm screaming.  The lights flashing.

Yūri has her full complement of three to contend with, however.

13 = 13[d20]

2 = 2[d20]

20 = 20[d20]

Two manage to get through her defenses, but we can't forget that ninja get a saving throw against all damage.  They save as a Fighter, and at level one that number is 16.

14 = 14[d20]

4 = 4[d20]

Oh, no!  That means the damage is going to count as Yūri is clubbed mercilessly!

2 = 2[d6]

3 = 3[d6]

Five HP of damage brings Yūri from nine to four.  She's not down, but she's definitely the worse for wear.  And there is still a seventh guard we haven't considered... and he has his weapon out.

Does he go for Rain?

(7[d10]) Yes


7 = 7[d20]

A miss!  Rain twists to the side in the instant before he pulls the trigger, and the bullet goes wide.

They can't stop fighting!  This is life or death.  Rain attacks!

14 = 14[d20]

4 = 4[d4]

She kills.  An arm lock and she attaches herself to the man like a lamprey, and can't be shaken off.  She uses his own arm as leverage, gets her legs around his neck and... snap.  He's dead instantly.

Yuri strikes!

20 = 20[d20]

4 = 4[d4]

Hard to get much better than that.  She kills the man in front of her.  He put up a good fight, but she's just too good and too quick.  A sharp blow to the neck ruptures the blood vessel just beneath the surface, triggering a massive stroke.

Three down.  Four left.  The fight continues.  Rain has one opponent, and Yūri has two.  First, we'll do Rain's surviving guard.

9 = 9[d20]

Another miss.  He can't get a lock on her, no matter how hard he tries.  She leaped clear of the dead man, transitioned into a handspring and was out of his reach before he had a chance to adjust to the changing situation.

What's happening with Yūri?

8 = 8[d20]

3 = 3[d20]

Though she's hurt and blood runs from her nostril, Yūri is still in this fight.  Where brute force can't prevail, swiftness and deadly accuracy will suffice.

But there's the man with the gun.  Is he still after Rain?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... he gives up on trying to shoot her in such a chaotic situation, choosing instead to wade into the fray with his baton.

For those playing at home: he was using tranquilizing darts, not bullets.  That was the twist which was never revealed.  Oh, well.

Let's see how he fares with his baton.

11 = 11[d20]

3 = 3[d6]

He lands a solid crack across Rain's spine, raising an immediate welt.  She goes from from seven hit points to four and stumbles from the impact.  Though that doesn't stop her from redirecting her killing energy toward him!

1 = 1[d20]

Whoa!  Can't get worse than that.  She misses him entirely, as he turns out to be more fleet of foot and agile than his companions.  What's more, Rain's missed blow leaves her open from behind!

1 = 1[d20]

Ninja senses aren't for nothing, though!  Even as she fails in her attempt to kill one guard, she displays a preternatural ability to avoid incoming attacks, and her erstwhile opponent strikes nothing but empty air.

Yūri has two fighters with which to contend, though she can attack only one.

8 = 8[d20]

Block, dodge, counter!  She can't get through his defenses!

10 = 10[d20]

His counterattack lands!

2 = 2[d6]

From four hit points to two!  Yūri reels.

There's still another attacker!

15 = 15[d20]

1 = 1[d6]

No!  She catches a blow to the temple and reels!  This could be the end of Yūri if she loses another hit point!

We can't stop now.  What happens with Rain?  She has two men of her own to deal with, and one of them (the former gunman) has turned out to be more of a challenge than she expected.

12 = 12[d20]

3 = 3[d4]

Rain sweeps a fallen baton from the floor and renders her second-to-last attacker dead or senseless with a backhand swipe.  She and the last man square off.

7 = 7[d20]

Metal clashes on metal as he tries to get through her defenses and fails.  They duel with their batons almost like blades.

At the same time, Yūri has her opponents and can't slacken for a moment, even if to help her companion, Rain.

18 = 18[d20]

4 = 4[d4]

Death comes for the guard so abruptly even I, the gamemaster, didn't see it happen.  One moment the guard is alive and the next moment he's dead.  But this doesn't deter the remaining guards.  They know what they're up against, and they know that failure means a dark fate.  They wouldn't run even if they wanted to which, come to think of it, they probably do at this point.

The last guard on Yūri's side takes advantage of the brief moment where she's killing his colleague to strike!

6 = 6[d20]

But she's not there.  It's like she wasn't even there in the first place.  She's just too darned fast.

The hallway is strewn with bodies.  Rain and Yūri are bruised, sweaty and unclothed.  Only two men stand between them and another attempt at escape.  They cannot fail.

Rain moves to finish this.

16 = 16[d20]

3 = 3[d6]

Swing, clash, swing again and the guard topples, his eye ejecting from the smashed socket and the blow which killed him.  Do NOT mess with these women.

Yūri takes her chance.

1 = 1[d20]

Ugh!  That's terrible!  But we have to remember she's injured worse than Rain, and that has to be slowing her down.  She's still quick as lightning, but sometimes even lightning doesn't strike where it's most expected.

No matter, because the guard can retaliate!

1 = 1[d20]

I'll admit: that just made me laugh out loud.  Talk about bad luck.

Remember what I said about Yūri slowing down?  Never mind, because she's still more than fast enough to keep her opponent from landing the decisive blow.

And that leaves Rain to attack from behind!

18 = 18[d20]

6 = 6[d6]

She not only kills that guy, but kills him enough to kill him twice over.  There's nothing left of the back of his skull as he tumbles to the floor dead.

They have triumphed.  But they aren't out yet.
Okay, let's review.  Pile of dead bodies?  Check.  Two more-or-less naked kunoichi armed with batons?  Got it.  No idea what's going to happen next?  Definitely.

I'll start with something concrete while I desperately try to figure out how these women are going to make it out of this predicament in which they find themselves.  Isolated in a scientific facility in a tower in a modern/futuristic city with no frame of reference for anything that's happening, plus a whole goon squad on their tails?  Not the best odds for a happy ending, I'd say.

Anyway, they took out nine guards in the last session, at 15 XP apiece, that's 135 XP.  Because I gave Yūri the same number of XP as Rain, they have 210 XP.  Do they level?  Ha!  They advance as Fighters and Fighters don't hit Level 2 until 2,000 XP.  Yeah.  That's a lot of dead guards to work through.

As for everything else, I have an idea, but I don't want to cut our heroines a break without rolling for it.  Otherwise it's just plot armor, as I may have mentioned before.  So let's ask the oracle: does Dr. Shirai reappear at this point?

(4[d10]) No, but...

... one of her assistants does.  He(?) approaches them in the hallway as the alarms sound and emergency lights flicker and they're still panting from the exertion of totally slaughtering a half-dozen armed men.  Quick check: is this a he they're talking to?

(4[d10]) No

Okay, it's a she.  My mistake.  Sheesh, oracle, you don't make things easy for me.

Anyway, SHE tells Rain and Yūri to follow her and quickly!  There's no time to lose.  Given that they have no other real options, Rain elects to do this, figuring she and Yūri can fight their way out of another ambush if they have to.  But the assistant isn't leading them to a new battle, rather to a way to escape the labs.  Thanks to her keycard, she can get through a secured door and into an area that's not going nuts with alarms.  It's THEN that they encounter Dr. Shirai... right?

(8[d10]) Yes

So here they are with Dr. Shirai, who still has a black eye where Rain clocked her during the, you know, attempted murder.  Rain is ready to finish the job when Shirai begs for her indulgence.  There's no way either of these women are going to make it out of the tower without someone's help, no matter how many people they kill.  And it's only a matter of time before the order comes to activate the smoke-ninja (as I'm calling them for now).  Dressed and armed as they are, Rain and Yūri don't have a chance against them.  They need to either get out, or even the odds, or both.

First priority is getting them into some clothes.  They're in another section of the lab, and coveralls are available.  So at least the nakedness issue is resolved.  As for weapons, Dr. Shirai hasn't had an opportunity to get to them, but it's possible she might be able to acquire arms.  Can she?

(9[d10]) Yes

Excellent.  Once they get the kunoichi off the lab floor and somewhere safer, Dr. Shirai will get them weapons.  At least then they can put up a real fight if/when the situation demands.

Do they encounter anyone on their way to the elevator that'll take them down the tower?

(10[d10]) Yes, and...

... it's worse than you think.

At first the hallway seems empty, and the secure elevator they need to make their short-term escape is within sight.  But the air shimmers and figures begin to form out of wisps of gathering particles.  Almost smoke-like one might say.  It's the ninja.  The ones Dr. Shirai modeled from Rain and Yūri's minds!

Are there a couple?

(5[d10]) No, but...

... the rest haven't appeared yet.  There's a limited amount of material to make these things, and they can't cover every possible egress.  For those who are interested, I figure these ninja are formed from intelligent nano-particulates which, when assembled, act in concert like an actual, physical android of sorts.  These aren't Terminators, or anything, but semi-autonomous assassin constructs directed by artificial intelligence.

But it occurs to me that this means they might be centrally controlled.  Is that the case?

(8[d10]) Yes

Hmm... put that on the back burner.  Seems these things have a weakness that might be exploited at some point in the future.

But there's no time for this talk now.  There are smoke-ninja threatening our heroines, Dr. Shirai and her assistant!

Because these ethereal ninja are modeled from Rain and Yūri, they obviously can't be more skilled than they.  That makes them the equivalent of first-level ninja.  Lucky for Rain and Yūri, because advanced Ninja (see The Dragon #16) are hellaciously powerful.  Just look at what the kunoichi did to those poor saps in the last session.

Armor Class: 9
Hit Points: 6
Attacks: ninjatō (1d8)
Special: none
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 1/15

Initiative!  First Rain/Yūri and then the smoke-ninja.

3 = 3[d6]

2 = 2[d6]

Dr. Shirai and her assistant need to take a step back, Rain says.  They'll take care of this.  Though she's not feeling the same level of bravado she expresses.  These things are unnatural, even demonic, and what good is a baton against things like these, which form out of thin air?

But there's no time for that now.  Attack!  The target number is 10!

3 = 3[d20]

The smoke-ninja deftly avoids her assault.  But what about Yūri's?

2 = 2[d20]

This isn't going well, and we just got started.  Rain and Yūri are lightning fast, but these things are inhuman, with the reflexes to match.  They don't even move exactly like people, but with a sinuous, almost snake-like quality.

20 = 20[d20]

A ninjatō flashes.  Rain has to make a quick save against damage.  That's a 16, if you recall from the last time this came up.

16 = 16[d20]

Wow.  Talk about barely avoiding disaster.  What seemed like might have been a deadly blow skids past Rain so close not a hair could fit in the space between her flesh and the nano-particulate edge.

Meanwhile, the other smoke-ninja attempts to kill Yūri.

16 = 16[d20]

Eek!  A (possible) hit.  But Yūri gets a saving throw against damage, too.

16 = 16[d20]

At this point I'm wondering if the random dice generator is glitching, but I'm not going to complain.  We have to remember that Yuri was already badly hurt during the exchange with the half-dozen-plus guards, and a successful cut could very well end her life.  Imagine some incredible, slow-motion dodges as the smoke-ninja's blades slash and carve the air.

Rain's still looking for the successful blow.

13 = 13[d20]

A hit!  But these darned smoke-ninja have the exact same abilities they do, and that means a saving throw against damage.  Let's see if we can get another 16.

15 = 15[d20]

No!  The baton finds its mark.  How much damage?

4 = 4[d6]

The baton cuts through the smoke-ninja's "flesh" as if it were a ninjatō itself, nearly separating the thing's arm from its body.  A blow which would have killed a normal human, but which only staggers this abomination.  It's 6 HP minus 4 HP, so it still has some fight left.

How about Yūri?

16 = 16[d20]

I knew there was another sixteen waiting for us.  Can the smoke-ninja manage a save?

15 = 15[d20]


6 = 6[d6]

Rain and Yūri trained together.  They lived together.  They ate together and breathed the same mountain air as their ninja brothers and sisters.  Accordingly, they know how to fight in tandem, and that's what they do here.  No sooner has Rain landed a potentially crippling blow on the smoke-ninja, but Yūri springs forward with her baton, slashing across the thing's midsection in a sweeping upward blow that connects with the great rent inflicted by Rain.  The smoke-ninja comes apart, its severed arm already dissipating before it can touch the floor.

But this isn't the end.  There's another smoke-ninja, and it strikes at Yūri's exposed flank!

15 = 15[d20]

This is a possible disaster.  Saving throw for Yūri!

2 = 2[d20]

It's a definite disaster!  And, frankly, it almost doesn't matter what the smoke-ninja rolls for damage because Yuri has exactly one hit point.  But roll we shall.

1 = 1[d8]

That was unexpected, but welcome.

In the Swords & Wizardry 1e rules, there's no actual hard-and-fast rule about what kills a character.  Yes, it matters when a character hits 0 HP, but whether they're unconscious or dead is the question.  The game suggests unconsciousness is a good option, but it's entirely up to the GM's discretion as to what comes next.

I look at it like this: the Constitution (CON) trait is there for a reason, so why not use it?  An unconscious character loses one additional hit point per round after hitting zero until they're stabilized/healed, or they hit a negative number equal to their CON.  It's fair, and potentially deadly to frail characters.  In a break for Yūri, she's pretty sturdy with a CON of 15.

Anyway, the smoke-ninja stabs her in the side!  She reels, blood staining the white coveralls.  Rain shouts her name, but has no time to help or mourn.  What's happened to Yūri could happen to her in moments.

Surging with adrenaline, she strikes!

19 = 19[d20]

A very good roll.  But does the smoke-ninja save?

13 = 13[d20]

No!  So that means damage of...?

6 = 6[d6]

Rain tears the smoke-ninja from the point of its cowl to where its hipbones would be.  For a moment it struggles to reform itself, staggering on artificial legs which are already beginning to dissolve, then the entire figure collapses into particles.

Disregarding the insane spectacle of the smoke-ninja's demise, Rain goes to Yūri's aid.  She's still alive (as we discussed), and this counts as being "stabilized" because I'm not a cruel GM looking to kill the characters.  Rain lifts her fellow kunoichi and urges Dr. Shirai to hurry with whatever plan she has, because she's not sure she can stand against another assault.

They move to the elevator as quickly as they're able.  As the doors open, Rain looks back to see new smoke-ninja beginning to form in the hallway where the last were shredded.  She steps inside this windowless box — because what else is it, anyway? — and gets shut inside.

The elevator begins its descent.  But what awaits them in the floors below?
Love this story. Btw, I had a really surreal moment when I first logged on. I had accidentally clicked on your Ness story and started reading the post about her eating dog food but I thought I had clicked on this story. I was like... "Whaaa?" 
Gyroscopes are all righted and on the level now. Cool  

I'm hoping the ninja babes can escape. I'm anxious to see how they handle the modern cityscape. If push comes to shove and there's no way out and they're still a few levels up, they could leap--in slow motion of course--smashing through a glass window to the outside, the shards glistening in the sun's reflection... 
Just sayin'...
Glad you're digging it! The entire thing has been seat-of-the-pants, since all I knew going in was that ninja were going to be involved. For example: the thing certainly has a '90s comic feel to it. Not what I expected at all.

The advantage I'm finding in using random tables for 90% or more of the scene-setting and turns of events is that I barely have any idea what's going to happen myself, which adds to the sensation that someone else is running the game for me. I know what I'd LIKE to have happen, but most of the time it never goes that way because the virtual GM has other (sometimes weirder) ideas.
Because I'm running this thing with near-zero expectations as to what happens next, I'm going to consult the cut-up oracle to get some idea of what awaits Rain and Yūri when the elevator doors open.

487 = 487[d1000]

• On the other side of
• to clear the way for
• he had not already eaten
• hail the overthrow of Conan
• blackened gums. ‘There is

Okay, I know this thing has been a little gonzo, but there's no way Conan the Cimmerian is going to show up.  One of the disadvantages of using this particular oracle.  It's not a total loss, though.

So the elevator doors open.  Here we go.  On the other side they're in a new place, still somewhat functional and futuristic in look, but not as sterile as the labs.  Dr. Shirai warns Rain it's about to get loud again and uncovers a lever she then pulls.  Immediately an alarm sounds, and a calm voice announces there is a fire alert and people should head for the exits.  At the same time, every door in sight opens on its own.

The facility on this level is designed with maximum safety in mind, Dr. Shirai explains, though this is mostly lost on Rain, who's still dealing with the concept of the electric light.  But this clears the way for them by unlocking the doors on this level, and that's something Rain understands.  Time to move.

Dr. Shirai and her assistant (who really needs a name) leads them forward as personnel emerge into the hall.  It's only a matter of time before security reappears, Shirai says, because they just pinpointed their location.  Left unspoken is that the smoke-ninja are sure to follow.  And Rain is still carrying Yūri as evidence of how deadly those enemies can be.  Even Rain, who has only 4 HP at this point, is fragile enough to be cut down with relative ease if they have to fight too soon.

Quickly though a maze of connecting hallways, faster and faster, though Rain is burdened by Yūri and growing tired, as well as hungry.  Though how she can think of food at a time like this is anybody's guess.  Blame the oracle.

At last they come to the rooms they're looking for.  The employees thin out, having headed for the emergency exits.  They're alone for the time being as they enter what looks to have been a pretty secure area, relatively speaking.  Dr. Shirai says this is an armory for period-appropriate weaponry, because the guns are locked in the security facility.  Again, Rain has only a rudimentary understanding of what Shirai tells her, though she gets the idea of an armory.

And then they come to it.  Through a door that's surprisingly easy to get through, they're in a room where the garb and weapons of the feudal Japanese era are on display.  Racks of naginata, katana on pegs, full suits of armor, and more.  Rain's eyes settle on exactly what she needs: the straight sword called the ninjatō.

She makes Yūri as comfortable as she can, tosses the baton aside and arms herself.  Dr. Shirai and her assistant busy themselves producing everything else Rain needs to get her ninja on, from the shinobi shozuku to testubishi to shuriken.

Oh, hey, before I forget: Rain and Yūri get XP from that last encounter.  Another 30, which brings both of them to 240 XP total.

No sooner has Rain donned the garments of the ninja and equipped herself do they hear the sound of shouting from somewhere close.  It's security, of course, but the question is whether the smoke-ninja are going to make an appearance.  Do they?

(5[d10]) Yes, but... +Twist: NPC / Appears

That works out really well, because I'd already intended to do something similar.  Great minds think alike, eh, oracle?

Dr. Shirai doesn't actually SAY the smoke-ninja are coming, but she doesn't have to: a shimmer and swirl in the air close at hand tells them the ninja are about to coalesce.  They have seconds.

Yūri has begun to revive somewhat, though there's no way she can walk on her own just yet.  Give her a few minutes.  Dr. Shirai and her nameless assistant provide support and the ragged team of women escape the armory into the hall.  There they're confronted with the security guards we anticipated, but they're not alone.  They're accompanied by... The Giant.

Just to refresh everyone's memory, The Giant's stats are:

The Giant
Armor Class: 4
Hit Points: 26
Attacks: katana (1d6)
Special: hurl bodies
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 9/1,100

Rain has absolutely no chance to beat this man, whose lips peel back from blackened gums to reveal missing teeth and the most terrifying approximation of a smile that she's ever seen.

How many guards are with him?  A couple?

(3[d10]) No

A few?

(8[d10]) Yes

The trio of guards with The Giant are less shy about brandishing their guns on this level.  It seems like the gig is up, but The Giant commands them to STOP.  He won't have these ninja gunned down.  They will face the blade.

From within his jacket, The Giant produces a curved traditional blade.  Made for a normal-sized man, it's like a short sword in his massive grip.  When I say giant, I mean giant.  Maybe he can fit in this hallway, but that's only because it has a high ceiling, you know what I mean?

Rain may only have average smarts (INT 10), but she's with it enough to know what she's up against and the only real course of action: she runs.


Dr. Shirai tries to guide Rain through the facility, but there's no time for niceties.  Rain ducks away into a side office of sorts, and she sees floor-to-ceiling windows and the nightscape of the city.  She doesn't know where that city is, and she still doesn't know what year it might be, but the outside represents freedom and a chance to escape this clinical hell in which she's been trapped.

The glass is thick, as you might expect, and the drop to the ground is long, though less than she expected.  They've descended quite a bit in the tower, it seems, and the treetops of the traditional gardens below aren't so far that leaping means certain death.  But breaking this glass is another story.  Rain's never been confronted with a window like this one, having come from a world where paper and cloth and wood are largely the building materials of choice.

The space here has furnishings.  Rain takes up a chair and hurls it at the glass.  Immediately it spiderwebs with cracks.  Another attempt punches a small hole.

What's that?  The guards are closing in, and that means The Giant is close behind!  They're out of time!

Rain relieves Dr. Shirai of Yūri's burden.  She thanks the doctor for her help, and by the time Dr. Shirai realizes what's about to happen, it's too late to stop it.  Rain dashes at the window and throws her full weight and Yūri's against it.

SMASH!  The glass explodes into the night in a cloud of shards, and the kunoichi hurtle through.  Courtesy of RPG Solo user, Jingo, this all happens in dramatic slow motion, so we see every sharp bit of glass shrapnel around them as they plunge through.  Then gravity takes hold.

Here we run into a problem, though.  The Ninja class, as written in The Dragon #16, says ninja have the ability to fall off walls as per a Monk, BUT the Swords & Wizardry (1e) rules don't have a Monk class.  Further, even if I dig into my old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook, the section on Monks falling off walls doesn't match what's in The Dragon, which has this weird table that doesn't make a lot of sense.  Everything else is in percentages, but the falling thing is a succession of descending numbers which almost make it look like it gets harder to fall the more advanced the character is, which makes zero sense.  So this is where "rulings not rules" is going to have to come into play.

If we use the Monk class as a guideline, a Ninja can only slow a descent when within eight feet of a wall.  That's clearly not happening here, but there's an important element we haven't considered: The Rule of Cool.  This is cool, and shouldn't be punished just because an ordinary person would certainly die doing this.  Rain and Yūri aren't ordinary people.

And so Rain plummets, clutching Yūri to her, bypassing the trees that'd cause grievous harm, and into the depths of a koi pond gently illuminated by underwater lights.

As Rain drags Yūri to the edge, she looks up to see The Giant flanked by two of the smoke-ninja.  As one, the pair swirl into a cloud of particles and vanish.  A part of Rain knows they're going to get down here somehow and she'd have to fight them.

The water brings Yūri to 1 HP and consciousness.  She manages to make it to her feet with Rain's help.  Her strength returns quickly.  They're surrounded by landscaping that wouldn't be out of place in the time where they originated.  But the air smells different and the skies look different.  They are far from home both chronologically and geographically.

Do the smoke-ninja appear?

(6[d10]) Yes, but...

... there's time to escape before they take form.  Wasting no time, the kunoichi dash into the surrounding foliage, looking to lose themselves in shadows and brush.

I think this calls for a "hide in shadows" roll.  They have to beat 40%.

59 = 59[d100]

Aargh!  The luck from the last session clearly isn't going to continue this session.  As the smoke-ninja appear, they're going to know exactly where to go.  Unless... unless a Move Silently roll is successful.  That's also 40%.

77 = 77[d100]

No!  Yūri's injuries preclude them from moving with stealth, to their great disadvantage.  And before long there's a strange and whispery rush through the leaves and branches of the trees behind them as the inhuman ninja pursue.

Quick reminder of the smoke-ninja's stat block:

Armor Class: 9
Hit Points: 6
Attacks: ninjatō (1d6)
Special: none
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 1/15

And I never determined how many smoke-ninja there were.  I imagined there were two, though, and I'm going to stick with that.

Rain whirls and looses a shuriken!

8 = 8[d20]

It whizzes past her intended target, and is lost in the darkness.

Yūri is, of course, unarmed, so she's not much help at the moment.  This is all Rain's fight to win or lose.

Initiative!  First Rain, then the smoke-ninja.

6 = 6[d6]

3 = 3[d6]

At least she has that going for her as the smoke-ninja leap down from the trees.  Her ninjatō rings from its saya and she attacks!

20 = 20[d20]

Whoo!  A perfect strike!  But is it good enough?

3 = 3[d6]

The smoke-ninja has a Saving Throw, let us not forget.

5 = 5[d20]

An ordinary person might suffer ill effects from such an injury but, like Rain and Yūri, the smoke-ninja are anything but ordinary.  The thing shrugs off the blow and goes from 6 HP to 3 HP without any apparent effect.

It's two against one, and we have to remember that Rain is already injured!

6 = 6[d20]

18 = 18[d20]

One smoke-ninja's blade whisks through nothing but empty air, but the other may find its mark if Rain can't make her ST.

17 = 17[d20]

Yes!  She barely manages to snake past the strike, positioning her for another attempt.

3 = 3[d20]

What is happening!?  She doesn't connect at all, despite her perfect form before.  The smoke-ninja press their advantage, blades slashing and stabbing, and Rain barely able to keep up with their relentless assault.  Imagine steel singing against the nano-particulate weapons of the smoke-ninja, and the explosion of Rain's breath and her cries while the smoke-ninja make no sound.

13 = 13[d20]

5 = 5[d20]

This could mean a grievous injury, but there's the ST to consider.

15 = 15[d20]

So close!  A smoke-ninja's weapon finds its mark!

1 = 1[d6]

But it's barely a nick, leaving a line of blood on her neck where a more accurate blow would have severed her head.  Rain is a consummate fighter, low-level but still deadly when facing almost any enemy.  She is NINJA!

Yūri, though she cannot hurt the smoke-ninja, CAN distract them.  She does so now, weakly attempting to sway one of them — we'll say it's the uninjured one — into coming after her.  Does it?

(7[d10]) Yes

That takes some of the heat off Rain in the next round, but could make things potentially deadly for Yūri.  I suppose we'll see how that goes.

And go it does, because Rain cannot stop just because she's face-to-face with only one of the smoke-ninja.  She has to kill this thing before it gets a luckier damage roll than 1.  And to that end she tucks, rolls and comes up swinging, looking for a slash that'd disembowel a normal person.

5 = 5[d20]

As quick as she is, the smoke-ninja was infused with Rain's characteristics, so it's no wonder when it leaps back at the last possible moment.  Rain's ninjatō cuts empty air.  She's left exposed.

8 = 8[d20]

It backhands its weapon, seeking her neck once more, but Rain isn't there.  She springs to her feet and they confront each other.

As for Yūri, she's going to attempt to lose the smoke-ninja in the foliage.  They've failed at this once already, but if she can manage to confuse the thing long enough for Rain to finish off the other, that'll give both of them at least a brief reprieve.  I allow "hide in shadows" to mean hiding in general, and might otherwise use someone's DEX as the base percentage if they lacked the class ability.  But since Yūri does have it, the roll must beat 40%.

72 = 72[d100]

Why, why, WHY!?  Do these dice want our heroines dead?  It's starting to look like it, especially when the smoke-ninja does what none of them have done before: throws shuriken in an attempt to strike her down from behind.

20 = 20[d20]

Oh, no!  Yūri only has one hit point!  All it's going to take is a failed Saving Throw and she's downed again!

20 = 20[d20]

Okay, wait a second.  What are the odds of getting two 20s in a row?  I know it's one in twenty no matter how many times the die is rolled, but back to back?  Not that I'm complaining, because Yūri tumbles as the shuriken streaks through the air.  It buries itself into a tree trunk, then immediately dissolves into the smoky particles we've come to know so well.

If only she had a way to fight back!  But all she can do is run, run, RUN.

Rain, however, still has her weapon and a burning will to live.

3 = 3[d20]

Unfortunately, she doesn't have the same facility with dice, and her attempts to bring the smoke-ninja down are met with still more failure.  It parries her blow away, and returns the blade-stroke.

1 = 1[d20]

I'm not going to employ this during the current combat because that'd be weird, but Swords & Wizardry (1e) does provide for critical hits and misses.  If you check out p. 14, it suggests a couple ways to integrate this into the game.  I tend not to use them, but this combat and the ones before it have been pretty heroic, so maybe amping up the results in this way might not be such a bad idea.  I can just see Rain or Yūri getting killed with a double-damage blow, though, so it's a sword which cuts both ways.

Unlike Rain's ninjatō, which has a single edge!  We'll get to Yūri in a second, because the desperate fight between woman and entity continues!

4 = 4[d20]

This is killing me!  And not the smoke-ninja, which is the one that's supposed to be dying here!

2 = 2[d20]

They cross swords and cross swords again, neither gaining an advantage.  Surely it's only a matter of time before more smoke-ninja join these and the situation becomes impossible.  Right, oracle?

(8[d10]) Yes

That's what I thought.  As for how MUCH time, we have no idea, but the longer this continues, the greater the chance of reinforcement.  We don't yet know how the smoke-ninja communicate, but the bad guys may already know what's happening in the gardens outside the tower.

As for Yūri, she spots a wall which runs the perimeter of the garden.  If she can reach it ahead of her pursuer, she can make an attempt to scale it even though it's a four-meter vertical surface with spikes on top.  She's a ninja every bit as much as Rain, and she has the near-supernatural abilities which go with this.  According to the Ninja class write-up, a ninja can climb even the sheerest walls with tools, which tells me that anything less challenging is also a likely candidate even without them.

So reach it she does, making a leap which any Olympian would be proud to make.  The smallest impressions in the seemingly smooth surface are like handholds to a woman like her, and she clings to the wall like a spider.  But the smoke-ninja has the same ability!  It is just behind her, and within a second it's also climbing.

Rain could be a help here if she could gain even a small advantage over the smoke-ninja she's fighting.  Let's see.

12 = 12[d20]

Finally!  But does the smoke-ninja make its ST?

8 = 8[d20]

No, it doesn't!  Which means...

7 = 7[d8]

It all comes down to this.  After several grueling rounds of vicious combat, Rain manages to slip the smoke-ninja's defenses.  All this time it's been like fighting a mirror, but now that mirror shatters as Rain's ninjatō rips through the construct, severing upper torso from lower body.  It disintegrates into its millions of tiny particles and is gone.

But where is Yūri?  Is Rain too late?

Yūri reaches the wall's summit, and if she were in any other situation she might freeze when she sees what she sees now: an ultramodern city with lights and moving vehicles, and flashing signals in the sky and still more towers like the one she just escaped.  The air is disturbed by the movement of countless people and their cars, trucks, buses, trains and other forms of conveyance which are totally alien to a woman from the 15th century.  But this IS a different kind of situation and she has no time to gawk.  Balancing awkwardly on the spikes, which aren't so sharp that they penetrate the coverall booties she's wearing, she jumps toward a lamppost some three or four meters distant.

She sails through the air.  Behind her, the smoke-ninja mounts the wall itself.

Rain rushes through the garden, following the disturbed trail left behind by Yūri.  She emerges from a cluster of trees in time to see Yūri jump, and the smoke-ninja behind her.  Dashing ahead, Rain cocks her weapon-arm and hurls her ninjatō at the smoke-ninja's exposed back.  It's a desperate gamble, and one which has a high chance to FAIL.

3 = 3[d20]

And what did I just say?  The ninjatō sails over the wall and vanishes.  Rain has lost her best and only weapon against the smoke-ninja.  Okay, maybe that was a dumb idea on my part, but it would have been really cool if it worked.

The smoke-ninja vanishes in pursuit of Yūri.  Rain is close behind.

Outside the wall, Yūri descends the lamppost, nimble as a monkey.  The ninjatō flies into view, clattering into the roadway close at hand.  Cars zoom by, some noisy (internal combustion) and some not (electric).  Yūri doesn't know the difference between them otherwise, and if she dies here she's never going to find out.  The smoke-ninja drops to the pavement and advances on light feet.

Yūri does the only thing she can do: run into traffic.  The sword is there if she can get to it without being flattened.  People walking both ways on the sidewalk exclaim as she commits the apparently suicidal action.

Is she able to grab the ninjatō without a vehicle bearing down on her?

(1[d10]) No, and...

... the smoke ninja pursues her heedless of the danger.  It's not alive, so it doesn't have the same self-preservation instinct.  In that moment, headlights wash over them both.  The smoke-ninja leaps, ninjatō raised in both hands for a deadly downward slash.

Yūri sees the truck — she doesn't know it's a truck, but we do — coming right at them.  She sees there's a gap beneath it.  At the same time the smoke-ninja leaps, she drops.  This is going to be a close thing, as it's roll against her DEX 12.  Equal to or under, Yūri!

4 = 4[d20]

It works!  She hits the asphalt and the truck hits the smoke-ninja.  It explodes into a cloud of techno-dust, spraying in every direction.  The truck's horn blares as it passes over Yūri, then comes the hideous screech of tires as the driver struggles to bring his vehicle to a stop.  He probably thinks he just killed two people.

Yūri snatches up the ninjatō where it fell.  At the same time, Rain clears the wall, landing among the stunned onlookers.  The two kunoichi communicate without speaking, because there's only one thing to say: RUN.

And so they run into the city night.  We can't call them safe, but there's a reprieve for now.
It occurred to me belatedly, when reading over the last entry, that I should have called for a Saving Throw from Yūri at the end. That's what it's for, after all.

Ah, well. Next time.
And so we find Rain and Yūri in a city twenty minutes into our future, lost and alone, with no idea how to get home or, indeed, if getting home is even possible.

Even in a city of the future, there are dark alleys.  Our kunoichi find themselves a place to hunker down, using cardboard and plastic to build something of a shelter they can also use for concealment if anyone were to come looking for them.

I will confess that I have some trouble here.  I have no clue where they can go, or what they'll do when they get there.  I'm going to have to lean on the cut-up oracle once more to discover their options.

34 = 34[d1000]

• was carved in ivory with
• cannot see why you bring
• He who held the
• of no logical reason for
• like a lover and his

Ah, I see.  While Rain and Yūri puzzle out their next move, they're surprised by the arrival of a car.  They have an understanding of what cars are FOR, since they've seen plenty after escaping the tower, but how they work remains a mystery.

This particular car contains a man and a woman, and what they get up to in this car doesn't take a lot of explanation.  Not everything's changed since the 1400s.  The important thing is that these two have period-appropriate clothes and our heroines need that.  And when a ninja needs something, they take it.

Rain and Yūri creep up on the car.  The occupants are distracted.  The kunoichi examine the car's exterior, trying to puzzle out things like windows and latches.  One thing Rain knows is that glass can be shattered with the application of enough force.  And with the focus of her ki — that's the vital energy which flows through all living things, folks — she can use the hilt of her ninjatō to get through this crystalline stuff.

Her plan is relatively simple: break the glass, subdue the man and the woman, too.  Not exactly good guy stuff, but you're reading a game transcript about women raised from childhood to be assassins.  There's bound to be some gray areas in their personalities.  At least they're not murdering them.

As with most unusual and/or specific tasks, Swords and Wizardry doesn't have rules for this kind of thing.  That's fine, because a game isn't much fun if the characters constantly fail.  So I'm going to look at it this way: if Rain doesn't break the glass, this whole scene is rendered pointless and they're in a more impossible situation than they are already.  If she DOES break the glass, and their plan is successful, they at least have a chance and the game can continue.  Otherwise we should just hang it up here, you know?

So Rain takes advantage of the couple's distraction.  The woman's being cooperative and removing some clothing ahead of time, which is helpful.  The man's more of an issue, and he is soon going to be in no position to argue.

She gathers her ki into one point, into one movement.  The ninjatō is hilt-first, its reinforced handle sometimes used a climbing tool or a weapon.  Carefully... carefully...

SMASH!  The window breaks apart into cubes of safety glass.  The woman screams as Rain whips the sageo from the ninjatō's scabbard (or saya) and wraps it around the man's throat in a flash.  She practically drags him out the window with the force of her pull, using her whole weight to close his windpipe and his neck arteries.  He chokes and struggles, but it's no use.  Meanwhile, the woman throws open her door, only to leap directly into Yūri's arms.  She's unconscious in seconds thanks to Yūri's ninjutsu skills.

It's not long before the man is out.  The two go to work stripping the couple and, afterward, stuffing them back into the car.  They don't even bother trying to see if they can use the vehicle because that's well beyond possibility and they both know it.

The clothes fit... fairly well.  Neither Yūri nor Rain are large women, and Rain is wearing a man's clothes, but consider that a ninja is a master of disguise.  It's not a question of whether the disguise available is perfect, but whether it can be made good enough to pass muster.  And this the kunoichi CAN do.  Rain even finds a way to conceal the ninjatō.

Rain might have taken the man's wallet if she knew what paper money and credit cards are for.  In the 15th century trade was performed with tangible goods or coins.  The idea of this flimsy stuff, and imaginary currency?  Not even.

They abandon their alley hideaway and get moving in the only direction that's important: away from the tower.  There's no sign of the smoke-ninja or the security forces, but that doesn't mean they're not out in force, searching.

Another roll on the cut-up oracle.

995 = 995[d1000]

• what he saw, the
• fire, nervously fingering the
• faces of the priests looked
• tonight. This is all
• That will release the

They walk aimlessly.  They're hungry and tired.  They need a place to rest better than a pile of trash in an alley.  And then... a promise of something better.

Whereas the city is nothing but glass, lights and steel, what they find would have been at home in their own time: a temple and its complex, tucked into this urban landscape.  It's as out of place as the kunoichi themselves.  And yet it IS real, and they CAN go there.  Even though it's nighttime, it's flush with light from lanterns and the mysterious shiny LEDs they don't understand.

Closer to the temple steps, then up the steps to the doors to find them... locked?

(Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

... they're called out by someone telling them not to go inside.  It's a monk in the saffron robes they know so well.  He questions why they're on temple grounds at this hour, and asks what they want.  They're closing for the evening and aren't taking any more supplicants.

Rain speaks to him in her archaic Japanese and explains that they're pilgrims seeking shelter.  Of course, they look like rumpled refugees from someone's party, but it's possible he might buy the story since it's more or less true.

(Somewhat Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

... he agrees to let them in for just a little bit.  Enough to make an offering and a prayer, but then they have to go.  Understood?  Yes.

Once inside, Rain and Yūri see familiar sights and take in familiar aromas.  This is exactly the way it was.  What they feel isn't exactly homesickness, but it's a powerful feeling of loss, shot through with desperation to get back to where they came from.  So far as they understand it, only Dr. Shirai can send them back, and now Shirai is out of their reach.

They have no offering to give, but prayer's not out of the question.  Then Rain and Yūri have to make a decision.  There's only one monk and no witnesses.  They could subdue him and stay here for the time being, or go out into the unforgiving city.  It's not a heroic move, beating up monks, but they have only so many options available to them.

The only thing that can prevent them from making this difficult decision is the sudden appearance of their adversaries, and that's unlikely.

(Unlikely | 4[d10]) No +Twist: Physical event / Hinders the hero

The monk returns, they think, to shoo them out, but instead he offers them something to eat and drink.  What's this all about?

They ought to be suspicious, but they're hungry and thirsty enough to go along with whatever if it'll get them fed.  They accept the monk's invitation, and he takes them to a side room where they can be comfortable while he prepares tea and a modest snack.  Hey, it's something.

Now it's time for both Rain and Yūri to make a "hear noise" roll.  You'll find out why in a few short sentences.  Target number is 50%.

100 = 100[d100]

12 = 12[d100]

For once Rain doesn't get to be the hero.  It's Yūri who hears the police arrive in the temple hall.  They're looking for the two women, from the sound of it.  Only a second later, an electronic tone sounds letting the monk(s) know people have entered.

Yūri alerts Rain.  They leap up from the table.  Rain has her ninjatō, but Yuri is still sadly without a weapon.  She spots a staff leaning against one wall and snatches it up.  The monk tries to calm them, saying if they're not guilty of the attack which happened they have nothing to fear, though it's pretty clear he's figured it out.  The sword, Rain's stolen clothing, everything.

They need a way out, but the interior of the temple is as labyrinthine as the tower they escaped, maybe more so because most of the lights are out.  Do they encounter the police?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

The cops cut them off, and they're trapped in a narrow hallway with nowhere to go but back.  Even if they wanted to fight, this isn't like the broad and tall space in which they defeated the security guards and the smoke-ninja.

The kunoichi have also figured out enough of modern life to know the guns the cops carry are dangerous.  And in about five seconds they're going to learn this the hard way if they don't win...

INITIATIVE!  First the women, then the cops.

6 = 6[d6]

2 = 2[d6]

Have they lost an initiative roll yet?  I don't think so.

The cops' stats are essentially the same as the guards at the tower, but we'll replicate them here:

Armor Class: 7
Hit Points: 3
Attacks: handguns (1d6+1)
Special: none
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 1/15

Rain has a shuriken.  She whips it at the nearest cop.

19 = 19[d20]

A hit!

4 = 4[d4]

Hard to get much better than that.  The shuriken finds its mark.

I'd like to make an aside here and say that it's not cool to kill police.  Faceless security guards who'd happily murder them?  Sure.  Smoke-ninja?  Heck, yeah.  Cops just doing their jobs?  I don't think so.  Like with the innocent folks in the car, Rain and Yūri aren't about that kind of cold-blooded murder.

With this said, a cop who loses all his hit points in this battle is just "taken out," which means he's unconscious or just rendered unable to fight.  In this case, the shuriken finds its mark in his wrist, severing tendons and causing him to drop his gun.  He may never grip right again, but it's better than being dead.

How many cops are we talking about, anyway?  A couple?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Lucky for the women, but we can be also certain there are more following.  Right, oracle?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

I figure they have a handful of rounds before reinforcements show up, and things get messy.

Yūri has no ranged weapons, so she can only flee with Rain, chased by gunfire from the remaining cop.

6 = 6[d20]

The bullet digs into a wall, but strikes neither of them.  Another lucky break.

They retreat the way they came.  The monk continues to plead for their surrender.  Rain demands the way out.  They have to venture into the hallway again, where the cop shoots again.

18 = 18[d20]

Does he hit Rain?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Okay, it's Rain who has to make a Saving Throw.  That's 16, as you may recall from previous entries.

17 = 17[d20]

The gun fires.  Rain reacts instinctively, raising the ninjatō to parry.  She bullet strikes the flat of the blade and deflects.  Spang!  Just past Yūri's cheek and away down the hall.

Rain responds with her last shuriken.  We never determined how many she has, but I figure three is a reasonable number.

7 = 7[d20]

That one misses its mark entirely, but it's enough to get the cop to flinch.  He doesn't fire in the next moment, which gives the kunoichi a chance to flee.

They follow the monk's directions and burst into the main hall.  They have, I estimate, seconds.  They dash to the great double doors and throw them open.  Cop cars with flashing lights and sirens close in from two directions.  They have one chance, and one chance only, to make a successful "hide in shadows" roll and escape being caught or gunned down.

First we'll roll for Rain.  The target number is 40%.

47 = 47[d100]

A failure!  But what about Yūri?

28 = 28[d100]

She melts into shadow, ducking among the pillars and then into a set of bushes, but Rain is too slow and a crisscross of headlights fix her in their glare.

Now she COULD fight, but a good ninja knows when to give up and maybe fight later.  The cops demand she lay down her arms.  She obeys.  Afterward come the usual instructions about lying facedown on the ground with her hands behind her head.  The cuffing and arrest quickly follow.

Rain doesn't know where Yūri is, but Yūri isn't far away.  She sees everything happen, hears all the conversation between the cops, though she can't understand some of it.  Modern lingo is still beyond both of them.  She's helpless as Rain gets carted away.

They've been separated in a city neither knows, condemned to a fate they can't imagine.  And that's coming to you... next time.
Very cool. This has a wonderful comic-book visual feel to it! I can see the frames, the chat bubbles, the slow motion SMASH as they burst through the window, the muted colors as they hide in the alley, a more vivid orange of the monk...Rain's face lined with determination as she faces and deflects a bullet (SPANG)! Awesome.

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