Grounded In Fantasy

by Frocto

The Wall

"Alright, girls, it's been a week since our last session and Starlight and Trixie have had time to roll new characters. Let's see what they came up with."

Sunburst examined Starlight's sheet. "Hayttori, hmm... Demon slayer, magical demon-slaying swo - Hey, wait a minute! This is just your old character again!"

"Is not! He's Moromane's brother!"

"More like Moreomane,” sniggered Trixie.

"Huff... Well, whatever, your death was very unfortunate, so I'll let it slide. Trixie?"

"Yes! Trixie has prepared a fabulous new character... I went back to my sourcebooks and found a whole section on playing other types of monsters, including Mountain Oni!"

"Mountain Oni," said Sunburst, disbelievingly. "You mean the 20 feet tall ones, with the fire-breathing and the regeneration, and so on?"

"Exactly! Now I know they cost 200 points to play as and we only have 100, but wherever Trixie forays, innovation is never far behind! I found, by stacking enough flaws, I was just able to squeak through!”

“Of course, the book designers had it out for me, so a few... concessions... had to be made. But Trixie is not to be deterred! My new bouncing baby boy had to give up both arms and legs, but once you've given us enough Experience Points, I can put all of them into buying off those disadvantages and regrow the - "

"Uhh... Trixie, I’m all for you having fun, but maybe you shouldn’t play a torso. Maybe you could just play Peach again?”

"Excellent idea, Sunburst~"

"Now then. A few days have passed... Having discovered the bandits were, ah, hired by a local Tengu Warlord - "

"Ha!" crowed Starlight. "Knew it."

"... A local Tengu Warlord who, along with being a considerable threat to the local area also holds sway over a sizable stockpile of treasure, you decided to venture out to free the countryside from the grip of his evil. Well, Roku and Sakura decided it, you two are just tagalongs."

"Tagalongs! Those are the best!"

"Once we're on the road, Hattori immediately starts eyeing off the magic sword Roku is wielding,” said Starlight. “Of course, recognizing it as his brother's sword, he immediately - "

Sunburst raised a hoof. "Alright, let me stop you right there. Roku isn't proficient with swords so he's just been keeping it in his bag. The only weapon you see on him is his pickaxe."

"Rrrgh... Fine."

"Now then. Arriving at the Tengu's castle, you're surprised to find the entire area is walled off behind 50-foot high walls. And with the inner compound crawling with dozens of demon guardians, you're not likely to survive a frontal assault."

"Well, obviously one of us just needs to sneak in and quietly open the gate for the rest,” said Twilight. “I'm a courtesan, so I can't... Who has sneaking skill?"

A resounding silence immediately answered Twilight. She felt like she'd tipped forwards into an abyss.

"Seriously?! Nobody?"

Starlight suddenly had an overwhelming urge to examine her hoof. "Spent all my points on my demon-slaying sword, weren't you paying attention?"

Maud’s perpetual frown never left her face. "It would have interfered with roleplaying an honest rock farmer... I want to play my character correctly, Twilight.”

Trixie shrugged. "Mountain Oni get a +4 racial modifier to Sneaking, but someone couldn’t help plucking that opportunity from Trixie’s grasp...”

"Oh, really? And what’s the penalty for not having legs, Trixie?” groaned Twilight.

"Seriously?” said Sunburst. “In a game called Ninja Adventures in Neighpon, none of you took Sneaking?”

Trixie tapped her nose. "Sounds like your adventure just has fundamental problems you need to work out... The wise and merciful Trixie would have made sure to design a castle assault with multiple ways in... and access ramps for disabled Mountain Oni, too!"

But Starlight was undeterred. "There has to be some other way in aside from sneaking, right? Check the map again."

Sunburst flipped through the module's pages. "Hmmm... Ah, you're right, it looks like there's a canal passing through the castle. The water is flowing rather fast, but Roku should be strong enough to beat the current and get inside."

Sunburst positively beamed at the girls. They, on the other hoof, looked less than enthusiastic.

"A canal...?"

"Running... through the castle...?"

Trixie was the first to break the atmosphere. "Oh my gosh! He wants us to swim in poop water!"

Starlight wrinkled her nose. "Sunburst, I am willing to put up with a lot for my friends, but this...? This is going too far.”

“This has to be some fetish thing, right?”

“That’s so not okay!”

Maud looked as put out as the other two. "Roku's only worked with rocks, not livestock... He won’t be very good with poop..."

"What! No, I... Twilight, help me out here."

Twilight... took a deep breath. She firmly laid a hoof on Sunburst's shoulder. "Sunburst, I appreciate you Gamemastering for us... but it's not okay to make us swim in poop. I’m going to have to ask you to provide another way into the castle."

"Even... Even you..."

Maud had been leafing through one of the game books, and now promptly set it down. "That aside, we're still in the region of Tokyoats, aren't we?"

"... Yes? Why?"

Maud had opened the Ninja Adventures In Neighpon Setting Book to the page on Tokyoats, pointing directly at a page detailing information on farming and trade. "Tokyoats is an area renowned for its soft soils and frequent rain. This wetlands-like environment causes constantly shifting of the sedimentary layer... and I can dig through it.”


"With my Rapid Strikes prowess, it should only take a few minutes to dig a person-sized hole. I can also ensure there’s no guards on the other side with Earth Sense. Can someone keep watch for me?”

"Oh, well thank goodness for that. Good work, Maud, we can keep going."

Maud looked sad. "Sure, but..."


"I'm sorry you couldn't see Roku covered in poop like you wanted, Sunburst."