Archive for January, 2011

A Good Warrior Is Hard to Find

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

We are still having trouble finding skilled urban ninjas at Clan Noriaibasha. Nippon’s endless war has taken its toll, and there is starting to be a shortage of able fighters. I have taken to asking applicants some very simple questions regarding the use of the kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. and the manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
, and asking them to show me one of the simplest possible kataA sequence of moves in martial arts, performed as a practice exercise to train the fighter’s muscle memory and reflexes in preparation for real combat. May be anywhere from a brief, 15-second movement to a full sequence that takes five minutes or more to complete. Usually solitary, but there are some two-person kata.

You may wish to see some videos of standard karate katas.A sequence of fighting moves used as a practice technique in martial arts.: The Three-and-Five Strike.

Still, they fail.

Some make excuses. Some try to distract us with tricky weapon-flourishes and intimidating poses that don’t actually accomplish anything. Most simply go away in defeat. This kata is terribly simple. Any warrior should be able to perform it, with any weapon they know. Easily. Anyone who cannot would be a liability in any fighting force.

We finally have a scroll of introduction from a man who might be able to do more than flourish his kama and growl menacingly. He will come to the castle on Friday, and we will take his measure.

Also, my friend Marumi has sent me a letter of introduction to a friend of hers, a man who was once an ikebana artist, but has since been learning the ways of chain-fighting. Since Marumi is a very skilled warrior, I trust her judgement that this man could pass our entrance exams. But he has not responded to my letters.

The Return of the Oni… Again

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I received a message from General Wāro recently, asking if I would give a good report about him to a clan that is considering taking him in. I told him that of course I would do so. On Tuesday night, I was supposed to receive a messenger from his prospective new clan, who would ask me my impressions of the General.

Instead — as readers of my brief messages will already know — a runner came from the other side of Hoshiakari. “There is trouble in the shrine!”, he cried. “Noise and disturbance! Can you help?”

So, instead of dinner with Akane, I laced up my tabithe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjasthe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjas and rushed through the woodsIt’d be nice if I could find some colo space for my server that isn’t 50 miles away. Rebooting it when it’s hung is a chore, but traveling all that way makes it so much worse.It’d be nice if I could find some colo space for my server that isn’t 50 miles away. Rebooting it when it’s hung is a chore, but traveling all that way makes it so much worse. to the shrine. I hoped to find nothing more than a few bandits — or, even better, perhaps a vagrant simply looking for food. But in my heart, I knew better.

Sure enough, the oni had returned. The same one who bedeviled us last September, and then again in November. It crouched in the doorway, grinning foully at me.

And of course, not being a priest, I had no o-fudaShinto talismans against evil. They are shaped like tall rectangles, either made of stone or of paper, and have kanji written on them. If you have a paper o-fuda, sticking it to the forehead of a supernatural creature is a powerful attack against it, and may even stop it in its tracks.Shinto talismans against evil. Little paper rectangles with kanji written on them, like mini-scrolls. Sticking one to the forehead of a supernatural creature is a powerful attack against it, and may even stop it in its tracks.. All I could do was attack with my ninja skills.

It threw off my chain with a laugh, and nearly clubbed me in the heart as I scrambled to dodge. A few quick acrobatic rolls got me out of range of its next few strikes, and I tried my ninja-tōThe short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. It was roughly the length of a wakizashi.

The ninja-tō was also generally of inferior workmanship compared to the more expensive blades available to samurai. Even if a ninja could acquire a katana, it would be too long and unwieldy to carry on most missions; ninja generally relied on smaller weapons like the shuriken and manrikigusari, and on more deniable weapons like the kama.

“Ninja-ken” is another perfectly acceptable name for this weapon; it’s like the difference between saying “ninja blade” and “ninja sword” in English.The short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. Also known as a “ninja-ken”.. No use. I managed to use my kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. to cut a mostly-straight branch from a nearby tree and use it as a bō staffA fighting staff, generally about six feet long. Similar to the European quarterstaff. Often carried by mountain men and travellers as well as dedicated warriors.A fighting staff, generally about six feet long. Similar to the European quarterstaff. Often carried by mountain men and travellers as well as dedicated warriors.. That at least gave me enough reach to stay out of the huge monster’s range.

The battle was long and gruelingEven once I got the server restarted, there was still some trouble with email and spam-filtering services.Even once I got the server restarted, there was still some trouble with email and spam-filtering services., but eventually I managed a solid strike against its wrist, and it dropped its club. As I assailed it with blows about the shoulders, it roared and then fled off into the night.

I must find a way to kill it, once and for all.

Rescuing Our Plans From the Shambles

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

We have decided not to engage the Mōjin in Keishutsu. They will have to be dealt with later.

Having dropped that chore from our schedule, this means: I must have Ichibanyōshi cleared out and ready for Seijun and Rajan by the end of this week. Doing so will obviously require me to finish off our enemies there with my kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all.. What isn’t obvious to the nobles and Nichiren priests is that I’ll also have to do some serious manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
fighting in Kakunin Shiken.

It’s going to be a hard week. And then next week, I need to have Keishutsu cleared of all enemies but the Mōjin. I also need to write a scroll describing our battle tactics for Seijun, so he and Rajan can coordinate their efforts with mine.

Finally, if there’s ever time, Kento and I must pay a visit to the armory and get me some new, sharp weapons. There never seems to be time… but, for this, we must make time.

Edit, an hour later: Of course, I just found out that the Ichibanyōshi gangs have contacts in Nagoya, who are supplying them with arms. I’m going to have to go to Nagoya to stop their next shipments. I hate dealing with Nagoya.

The Mōjin Are Becoming Very Problematic

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

It has taken Junichirō the scout a few days to report back to me on the situation in Keishutsu. But, as I feared, he has found another nest of the Mōjinaccessibility problems — this complicated layout needs to work properly in a screen reader for the blind, too!accessibility problems – this complicated layout needs to work properly in a screen reader for the blind, too! resistance. A powerful, dangerous group —he barely made it back safely.

This afternoon, Kento will join me as we go to see the situation for ourselves. The next few days are going to involve a lot of very unpleasant fighting against the Mōjin, interspersed with occasional trips to Nagoya. In the meantime, our campaign slips further and further behind.

Today is Akane’s birthday. I have plans to meet her at her favorite restaurant in Heian-kyō this evening. I must be careful not to get wounded by the Mōjin in Keishutsu.

お誕生日おめでとう、赤ねちゃん! O-tanjōbi omedetō, Akane-chan!

Inconveniences and Obstacles

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

It seems there has been a problem with the steel in the ninja-tōThe short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. It was roughly the length of a wakizashi.

The ninja-tō was also generally of inferior workmanship compared to the more expensive blades available to samurai. Even if a ninja could acquire a katana, it would be too long and unwieldy to carry on most missions; ninja generally relied on smaller weapons like the shuriken and manrikigusari, and on more deniable weapons like the kama.

“Ninja-ken” is another perfectly acceptable name for this weapon; it’s like the difference between saying “ninja blade” and “ninja sword” in English.The short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-t$#333; was straight rather than curved. Also known as a “ninja-ken”.s forged by a particular smith. Under certain conditions — very rare conditions, but still possible — the steel will shatter into ten thousand pieces, leaving the sword’s wielder with a bare hilt in his hand (and a very surprised and dismayed expression on his face — though probably not for very long).

I will need to go buy myself a new ninja-tō, as soon as I can.

Luckily, my duties for Clan Noriaibasha only involve using the kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all., manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
, and kusarigamaA common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a hook or weight on the end of it.A common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a grappling hook or a weight attached to the end.

The scythe/sickle part alone is a kama, and is a common farming tool. With the chain attached, it’s pretty obviously a weapon, and would be treated as such by any authorities one might encounter.
. I can wait a few days before I need to replace my sword.

Yesterday, we tested a potential new warrior. The Keitai Team is running low on fighters lately. Young Akinori has left the clan to seek his fortune among the upstarts of Ōmi Province. This is a normal course for a young, motivated warrior like him. Just as it made sense for me to move to a larger, older clan like Noriaibasha, it makes sense for him to have gone to a small, new upstart. But we were low on fighters even before he left, and so it would be nice to acquire new ones. Sadly, yesterday’s prospect wasn’t skilled enough.

I’ve been slaying Mōjin fighters in Keishutsu as fast as I can, but there are a huge number of them. I think I’ve got them almost all destroyed by now; later today, I hope to have Jun-ichirō the scout do another pass to make sure they’re all gone. But I just got a message from Kīchi, one of the Tendai monks in charge of the Teitōken campaign. It seems the generals and nobles have noted some potential problems with our strategies in Kurabero-no-Hako and even in Keishutsu. He would like to meet with me and go over our plans.

*sigh* If only they’d noticed these problems before I was nearly done in Keishutsu…

The New Year Begins

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Back at Castle Noriaibasha, bright and early as the new year starts. Last week, the castle was almost silent as people enjoyed their holidays and vacations. Today, everyone is back. The castle bustles with activity as people return to their old tasks.

I have much to accomplish in Ichimen. Seijun the samurai is clamoring for some neighborhood, any one, to be cleared of underworld elements so that he can bring in his troops and have Nayumi start her work. I think Keishutsu will be of the most use to them, if only I can remove the Mōjin fightersaccessibility issuesaccessibility issues that still plague it; after that, I have hopes of liberating Ichibanyōshi from its gangs.

My previous plan had been to finish off the chain-wielding thugs in Kakunin Shiken first, because the Kakunin Shikenclient-side validationclient-side validation district borders Ichibanyōshithe initial, blank form that the user seesthe initial, blank form that the user sees. There is much travel between the two neighborhoods, and I fear that the chain-fighters will try to step into the power vacuum left by my removal of the Ichibanyōshi gangs. But the samurai can’t deal with Kakunin Shiken at all. They can deal with Ichibanyōshi, once I’ve gotten rid of the gangs.

This means I may as well clear out Ichibanyōshi now, deliver it to the samurai, and then take care of Kakunin Shiken in parallel with the samurai’s Ichibanyōshi efforts. I just hope this decision doesn’t come back to haunt me later.