Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

A Chance Meeting

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This was supposed to be the third module in the campaign and was submitted in spring of 2000, but the RPGA somehow lost track of it and it vanished into the aether. It was a long time before I realized it had not been released, and my initial requests to get this corrected were met with silence. I finally managed to resubmit the module and get it released over a year later, at the end of 2001 – this also required me to convert it to 2nd Edition rules, since we had switched over by that point. (Once we left the RPGA, I re-arranged the modules on the campaign website to be listed in the originally intended sequence.)

I meant for the Bloodspeaker villains in this mod to offer a foreshadowing of the Iuchiban arc that would start the following year, but this plan was disrupted by the delay -- by the time the module released, the Soul of Iuchiban storyline had gotten underway, so A Chance Meeting ended up becoming a side-plot to the Iuchiban story rather than a lead-in to it.

The plot was derived from a scenario I had improvised in a home pick-up game a couple of years earlier. It was designed to evoke a classic spy movie where the action is In Media Res – a stranger suddenly appears, presses something into your hand, whispers an enigmatic warning, and dies. What is going on? Making the stranger a Scorpion was the obvious choice, of course, and allowed me to bring Shosuro Tajiki back as the agent sent to retrieve the puzzle-box. (The year-long delay in releasing this mod is part of why Tajiki ended up getting somewhat sidelined in the campaign as a whole.) However, making sure the adventure would still work if the PCs handed the mysterious puzzle-box back to its rightful Fox Clan owners was problematic. In retrospect, the module could have used a few more divergent options for investigation.

I set the module in the Fox lands somewhat arbitrarily. I had come up with the idea that the first year or two of the campaign should be a “tour of the Empire,” and I liked the image of the Fox lands – deep forests, fox spirits, samurai with green eyes, etc. The remote, mysterious, and isolated locale seemed to mesh well with the plot, plus it let me introduce the whole Great Clan/Minor Clan dynamic.

The isolated village where the maho-inspired revolt had taken place was loosely inspired by a story from “Bearers of Jade” (my all-time favorite L5R book). I really liked the idea of a seemingly-innocent village with a dark past, its secrets sealed away beneath an ominous stone. I also liked the fact that nothing forced the PCs to enter the sealed tunnel – in fact, doing so was a bad idea since it meant a dangerous battle with an imprisoned Oni, while the only “reward” was Maho. If I had it to do over I wouldn’t even award an extra XP for killing the Oni, since confronting it was not only unnecessary but risked setting the creature free.