Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

The Face of Fear

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From the delicate maneuverings of court to the murderous lunacy of the Shadowlands… like Kyuden Asahina, this module deliberately broke the “rules” of RPGA living-campaign gaming, but in the opposite direction: it was designed to straight-up kill any PCs who approached it in the D&D hack-and-slash style. The campaign’s first visit to the Shadowlands was intended to establish two basic things:

1. The Shadowlands are fucking scary, and not a place you should ever want to be.

2. Succeeding against the Shadowlands often requires dishonorable methods such as stealth (hence why the Crab are so reviled by the rest of Rokugan).

Structurally the module was fairly simple, with a young Crane courtier-ko serving as Quest Giver and the PCs going into the Shadowlands on the trail of her missing Imperial friend. I had the PCs go first to Hiruma Castle because it was such an iconic location for 1st Edition (introduced in the “Hare Clan” adventure in the original printing of the L5R GM’s Screen). The fight there against goblins and their allies was tough but winnable, which was intended to clue in the PCs that whoever took the Miya prisoner away from these guys was much, much more dangerous. A surprising number of players didn’t pick up that hint…

Ultimately, Face of Fear probably holds the HoR1 record for most PCs killed, with Fate of a Hantei in a close second place. In fact, Face of Fear acquired such a dire repute that many players expressly refused to ever run their characters through it.