Bi-Weekly Design Blog #18: The Doomed Emissary and Shangti Law Court

This week I’ll help you flesh out the beginnings of your first Steampunk Musha campaign, which we briefly framed last week. We’ll look at our doomed emissary and his part in the campaign, and talk about Shangti, Shangti law, and magic.

But wait, no fiction? Okay, just a short one, we’ve got work to do.

A dozen workers, mostly keshou in leather aprons, fled from the barn. All around the courtyard, castle guards fought and died, trying to bring the monster down.

“Grim, but effective.” Said the man in the midnight blue hakama.

“They have their monster, I have mine.” The cat replied.

Together, they crossed the courtyard and entered into the barn.

The Doomed Emissary

The jinteki-oni emissary won’t need stats, since he’s dead, but we’ll need to flesh out his relationships.
He’s an emissary from the clan leaders in Tendou, and his diplomatic mission was to aid in continuing peace talks between Tendou and Shangti. Currently, Liaoyan, a city to the west of Tendou, threatens to bring war to the jinteki-oni refuge, but only the might of Shangti really prevents this. The assassination, therefore, could throw the region into war, as the desperate jinteki-oni lose their trust in Shangti and take up arms to defend themselves.


There’s very little reason for Shangti to go to war, especially against Tendou. At the same time, trade with Liaoyan brings in valuable iron, so a diplomatic solution is imperative. And what better way to solve this issue than to have the PCs do all the dirty work.


CN metropolis

Corruption +2; Crime +6; Economy +7; Law +1; Lore +4; Society +8

Qualities academic, holy site, notorious, prosperous, strategic location, tourist attraction

Danger +20


Government council

Population 1,118,000 (620,000 humans; 130,000 keshou; 72,000 sarpa; 60,000 clockwork ronin; 60,000 tanuki; 48,000 jinteki-oni; 40,000 kijo; 32,000 kappa; 56,000 other)


Base Value 30,400 gp; Purchasing Limit 200,000 gp; Spellcasting 9th

Minor Items all available; Medium Items 4d4; Major Items 3d4


Magic in the Courtroom

It’s a simple enough matter for the officials to determine if the PCs are guilty or not through magic. In an overpopulated city like Shangti, magic speeds up the legal process and keeps folk honest. Or it would, if bureaucracy and corruption wasn’t so deeply ingrained in the day to day way of life of the city.  In the PCs case, the Shangti authorities use their innocence to leverage them into investigating the murder. After all, no one needs to tell the PCs that the court knows they’re innocent.

NPC Gallery

Biased Judge (Aristocrat 3/Expert 7)

Sees plenty of rural folk walk through his court and has little time for them. He and the prosecution have worked out a deal to get the PCs out of their hair.

Dithering Defence Lawyer (Aristocrat 4)

A young law student doing community service as part of his legal training. He won’t be much help to his PC clients.

Conniving Prosecution (Expert 6)

Knowing his case is as good as lost, he makes an arrangement with the judge that should ensure he gets a free pass.

Court Guards CR 7

6 x Guards (Warrior 3) & 1 x Guard Officer (Fighter 4)

Prison Guards CR 5

Turnkey (Warrior 5) & 2 Guards (Warrior 3)


Next week we’ll talk about running a courtroom encounter.

Rodney Sloan, is the line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games. You can find him on Twitter.

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