Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

Arrows From the Woods

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This module was inspired by the very first L5R adventure I ever played, a two-session story from Jaime McCoy in which our characters battled the “bakemono bandits” (humans pretending to be goblins, with a giant fake ogre to intimidate their enemies) and then hunted down and fought a pair of actual ogres. Once Living Rokugan got the greenlight, Jaime gave me permission to use his story as the basis for a module; I trimmed it back to fit into a single play-session, and added a corrupt Kuni ronin to explain the bandits’ skills at faking a Shadowlands encounter.

The idea of one of the caravan’s ronin guards being “in on it” and pretending to be slain by the fake ogre was straight out of Jaime’s original game. The cowardly ronin, Izumi, was my own addition, and was inspired by several different sources (including a minor character from the anime series “Martian Successor Nadesico”). I liked her so much that I ended up bringing her back in Year Two for the module To Do What We Must.

The various villages located along the Road of Lengthy Commerce were all my own creations, and were designed to offer some interesting role-play moments and showcase the humble life of peasants in unaligned lands. At the time, I had no plans to revisit any of them – all of this effort was simply to make the PCs’ journey interesting. However, two years later I would get unexpected value out of this module by retracing the same journey in Command of the Kami.

Jaime’s original adventure did not include a ronin band – I created the warrior Maeda and his followers to add more role-play opportunities to the story. They were obviously influenced by the characters from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai as well as many other pop-culture depictions of ronin. One thing I liked to do with NPCs like this was to use their stat blocs to sprinkle in subtle clues about their backstories – revealing that Maeda was a former Lion, for example. There were a number of other instances of this throughout the two campaigns, though I have no idea how many of them were picked up by GMs/readers. I’ll try to point them out as I go along.

Arrows From the Woods ended up being the third accidental “killer mod” in Year One, and for the same reason as the others – the playtesters finished it so easily that I added more opponents and threats to the final draft, then realized I’d made a mistake once the mod released to the public. Fortunately, by the time this module came out I was starting to notice the pattern, and the problem gradually receded in subsequent releases.