TOURNAMENT OF DEATH
Lead In: This mystery is intended as a follow up to House of the Fallen Sun, but can be run as a stand alone as well. I have included some of the NPCs from that mystery in this one. You can swap these out for others from that mystery (or create new ones), in case they were killed or implicated during that case. I’ve also marked some NPCs with (*) to indicate these could easily be swapped out for an NPC from one of the PCs entanglements. After the NPCs I have some notes on Cheng Ruogang’s ongoing story and how to handle switching her out in this mystery.
Each year in the city, the Golden Pilgrim Heroes clan hosts a magnificent martial tournament. While not the most spectacular, it is what the clan is known for. As members of the Verdant Sword Alliance, they took over handling the tournament ten years ago after the death of Lan Wuxian and the fall of his Green Leaf Society which once led the Alliance.
The PCs are invited to attend. If NPCs from their entanglements are participating, they may offer them entry. They may be honored for having solved the problem with the House of Sun. Or an anonymous person sends them a token asking them to come. If one of the PCs has a very public reputation as a detective, they may be asked by someone to look into some irregularity at the tournament (money going missing, someone’s surprise gambling success, rumors of infidelity).
On the first day, the contestants arrive and the public begins to talk about everyone’s chances and what happened last year. In that tournament, Yang Mofeng arrived and out of nowhere won the competition. He was a particularly bad winner, mocking his opponents. In some cases he deliberately injured or killed those he faced—within the rules of the tournament, but considered dishonorable by some. Many people lost money betting against him.
Yang Mofeng has returned again this year. While there’s no rule against a champion competing again, it is considered bad form. Tension brews among the contestants and there may even be shouting matches. On the first day assignments are made for the next day’s fights. The tensions continue throughout the night.
On the morning of the second day of the tournament, a newcomer arrives—Guo Botong. He demands entry to the tournament. However Guo produces the marker of a previous Champion, a gift which gives him right of entry. Chief Ouyang, leader of the Golden Pilgrim Heroes seems shocked by the token. He agrees, but tells Guo Botong he must face two opponents at once.
Botong does and easily bests them, to the chagrin of many, not least of which are the gamblers who have already placed bets. Yang Mofeng is called out for the next fight, but when servants go into the competitors’ tents they find him dead—stabbed in the back. He was killed before the day’s events began.
- Who killed Yang Mofeng?
- How and why did Yang Mofeng win last year’s tournament?
- What is the connection between Gui Botong and the Fall of the Green Leaf Society?
CAST OF NPCS
- Chief Ouyang (he/him): Leader of Golden Pilgrim Heroes. A gruff man who relies on the tournament to cement his clan’s status. Mofeng’s victory last year humiliated him.
- Skycast Red (he/him): A xia of good reputation, but known to have a bad temper, especially after a few cups of wine. His fiancé (and fellow xia) was killed by Mofeng during last year’s contest.
- Guardian Fu (she/her): A local favorite and member of the Golden Pilgrim Heroes. She’s said to be a master of the spear. However she lost humiliatingly to Mofeng in the finals last year.
- Guo Botong (he/him): Mysterious entrant who carries an ancient token allowing entry. The token may be from someone who fell from during ten years ago. Botong wears a mask. It forced to remove it, it will reveal he has a chi disorder marking his otherwise lovely features. Smoke will roil around him until he puts the mask back on.
- Yang Mofeng (he/him): The surprise victor last year who embarrassed everyone. Handsome and arrogant, he wears the fancy clothes of a noble, but it is unclear where he’s actually from. Rumors of cheating surround his victory last year.
- Emerald Sky Saint (she/her): A member of the legendary order of Sky Saints. It is rumors that she was jilted by Mofeng last year- and lost much in the process. Her secret is that she has been banned from returning to her clan holding on White Mountain as a result of last year’s events.
- Songbird Jun (he/him): A contestant who was eliminated in the tournament’s first round last year. Keeps cages of butterflies. Rumored to have some connection with Yang Mofeng. If Cheng Ruogang is present, he wants her dead and wants her Puzzle Sword. Songbird Jun will say she stole it from his late brother.
- Rising Phoenix (he/him*): A large, sweet, but a little dumb warrior. She’s earnest and hates injustice, having publicly disparaged Mofeng. Evidence may be planted on the scene which implicated her and makes her the authorities #1 suspect.
- Ninth Raven (she/her*): Lost badly in the tournament last year. He’s deeply suspicious of investigators and officers of the law for some reason.
- King of Pearls (he/him): He will be found gambling desperately with other people’s money. He really needs a big win and will go to great lengths to achieve.
- Undaunted Zedong (they/them): A drunken master of indeterminate age and gender. They know things about the death of Lan Wuxian and the fall of the Green Leaf Society. The PCs may find them prowling around where they shouldn’t, looking into strange matters.
- Cheng Ruogang: A secretive up and coming hero. She carries a strange blade which is a Puzzle Sword, one among several apparently. She may be looking for another one or may even have more than one in her possession. She knows Songbird Jun blames her for his brother’s death.
- First Orchid: Calls herself a diplomat and even a detective, but is actually a spy and a thief. If she’s a returning character then it should be pretty clear First Orchid’s a friend or lover of Cheng Ruogang.
- Token of the Green Leaf Society
- Smell of unusual incense
- Burnt scraps of martial tome
- Bag of valuables concealed
- Gravestone of old rival cleaned up
- A secret passage outside
- A dead cook
- A lack of expertise
- A broken brush
- A single domino
- A glance and gesture of communication
- Signs of unusual chi imbalance
- Strange ashes in a charcoal brazier
- Pinprick on the back of a heel
- Coded message demanding a meeting
- Overheard violent argument turns to sounds of passion.
- Fake manacles
- Thin reed coated with poison
- Fan with a hidden compartment
- A carefully crafted wig
- Emptied money box
- Corrupted or stained acupuncture needles
- Speech with a foreign accent
- Bill of warrant for a criminal
- Note of scandal for contestant