Buy Yokai Hunters Society here.
Last few months several people have gone missing. Leaked out that a couple of them had been found, but reports have been suppressed.
The Pitch: The players contact meets them at a watermill which has been abandoned in the face of more modern technologies. Another society member travelled to Nobu Valley which has grown due to new industries (lumber and mining).
About a day out from there, the agent stayed over at Naimura Village and picked up on local hushed whispers. Apparently some strange deaths had been kept quiet by the village leader and others—a pair of lovers and another person. Locals avoided discussing the manner of their deaths. Since the agent had to continue on to Nobu Valley, they sent word back asking for the Society to dispatch other hunters to investigate. aka the PCs.
TIt’s about a day’s journey to Naimura from where they are now. If you have time, have the players give a brief travel montage.
Naimura itself: A growing village. It lies on a road which supplies to new mining and logging sites further north—Nobu Valley and the coast. So they’ve had more traffic in recent years. It's a one street village with a newly spruced up travelers’ inn, a roadside station for overnight sleep, and a drinking house. PCs can see evidence of change—there's a mix of some modern fashions; telegraph poles lying on the roadside waiting to be set up; an abundance of printed materials (newspapers and books) around.
To the east of the village lies a small mountain, covered by woods. A small river runs through the town. They can spot a disused road going up the mountain. Following that leads to an unmarked split, where they have a choice of three routes. First, to some of the cliffs of the mountain (north), second to the Okubo house (east), third to the pond (south).
People of Naimura
- Headman Asai Mojiro, The Headman, who is determined to keep a lid on things here. He just wants everything to go smooth. New telegraph stations to be built. Dislikes Gotaro the Inspector.
- Gotaro Taisuke, The Inspector, a local official doing surveys and enforcing the new codes from the government. Technically has oversight for what passes as local law enforcement. Will take to those who seem to have some offical position or assignment.
- Iyzumi, The Headstrong Youth, Resentful of Whitebeard and wants his money and treasure. Will organize a bandit attack. Has some followers and runs the gambling at the drinking establishment.
- Dcotor Yoshigi, The Town Doctor, who disbelieves superstitions and gossip, but knows all of it. Saw all the bodies.
- Okubo Nambu aka Whitebeard. He comes from a former samurai/noble family. The nickname comes from his beard which has always been pure white despite his dark hair. Bear of a man, gruff and angry. His overgrown estate is outside of town in the mountain woods. Whitebeard has buried three wives, the last of these over a year ago. Rumors about him killing some of his household staff (this comes from Natsuko going missing). He stays apart and only sends his servant, Hito, into town. From time to time does receive visitors—merchant collectors for pieces from his family’s estate. (wives: Fuku, Den, and Fude)
- Hito, The Mute Servant, doesn’t think Whitebeard has done anything wrong—he was raised within the household. Avoids going out at night. Tends to the garden along with Whitebeard. Isn’t aware of what happened to the housemaid.
- Natsuko, The Angry Ghost, the dead housemaid for Whitebeard’s estate. She killed his three previous wives, poisoning them slowly. Each time she tried to comfort Whitebeard and gain his affections but to no avail. After the third, she shrieked a confession at him. Enraged, Whitebeard killed her and tossed her body into a crevice in the mountainside. She arose a couple of months ago and began to try to get to Whitebeard. So far she hasn't gotten past his protection, theGourd Spirit. Natsuko killed a pair of young lovers in the woods (Chiyo and Sho) and (maybe) a young woman (Hiwa) gathering mushrooms. She poisoned and hung in the lovers in the trees.
- Sonojo, The Gourd Spirit, a yokai who lives in the Whitebeard's garden. Kinds of gourds: bottle gourd (shishigatano squash), green and orange kabocha squash, red kuri aka orange Hokkaido squash. Whitebeard followed his first wife’s practices, honoring and keep the garden. In return the Gourd Spirit has secretly protected him from the ghost and other predations. Sonojo recently killed an an armed robber who tried to break into the house. Strangled and buried him—which was one of those found (Dairoku).
- Mishime, The Pond Keeper, an old woman in the woods who tends to the pond which comes off the river which runs through Naimura. She has been trying to appease and exorcise the spirit of the Angry Ghost because she was her daughter. She knows the story of Natsuko’s killing of Whitebeard’s brides, and this can be gotten out of her. Mishime doesn’t blame Okubo for Natsuko’s death.
The village itself (Headman Asai Mojiro), the provincial office (Gotaro Taisuke), the inn (Innkeeper Inada), the common drinking and gambling den (Iyzumi), woodcutters hut (Genzo), the pond (Mishime), the woods themselves, Okubo Nambu’s house.
- Woods path—shows that mostly only Hito comes and goes from Okubo's house. A cross path has been worn from Mishime walking to the base of the cliff to try to appease her estranged daughter’s spirit with offerings.
- The Pond—small pond with a shrine kept by Mishime. Villagers provide her with food, but generally keep clear of her. Picture of Natsuko in her tiny house. Evidence of her hiking to the cliff base every day or two.
- The Cliff—Lovers were killed in woods nearby. Maybe evidence of unnatural hair or poison here. There’s a “lookout point” just above a gap in the cliff. It would be easy to drop a body in there (as Okubo has).
- The Okubo House—walled around the outside. Front and side gate. Side gate opens out into a magnificent gourd and vine covered garden. Squash blossoms and gourds everywhere. Robber was killed a distance away from here (the Gourd Spirit chased him before killing him). House itself has seen better days—one wing has been abandoned and left to the elements. It they’re hospitable, Okubo will offer them pumpkin and squash-based food.
What’s Going On?
There have been killings by two different Yokai. The lovers (spiritually poisoned and hung in the trees) have been killed by the ghost and the would-be robber (strangled and mysteriously buried with only the top of his head showing) by the gourd spirit.
The first is a Yūrei. This is an angry spirit Level 1 (or more depending on group). Can grab with tendril-like hair and spit a blackish poison in people’s mouths. This is Natsuko mentioned above. Depending on how you want to structure it the missing young woman may be alive and hidden away in the gap in the mountain Okubo threw her body into. Dealing with her bones will give advantage on fights against her.
One possible result for a 9 or a failure roll against Natsuko is that they have a vision of her killing Okubo’s wives and being rejected by him each time. The kidnapped young woman’s death can also be a cost.
The other killer is the Gourd Spirit mentioned above. It will only act against the group if they seem to be threatening Whitebeard or trying to break into his house. They are a level 1 spirit who can trap with vines, hurl squash, drag people under the earth, and move just below the ground. If the Hunters seem to be looking to deal with Natsuko, it will try to quietly give them hints—like a trail of gourds. If desperate (or it the time is growing tight), it will directly speak to the group.
Whitebeard is unaware of the Gourd Spirit, but Hito suspects. If attacked, the Gourd Spirit will retaliate. If destroyed, Natsuko will try to kill Okubo soon after.