Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

Evil Feeds Upon Itself

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This module traces its roots to a website I found in 1998 that had a number of L5R “Adventure Seeds” in the Challenge-Focus-Strike format. Among them were several Halloween-themed ideas, one of which involved an inn which was home to a secret gang of cannibals. This appealed to my Call-of-Cthulhu-influenced GM sensibilities, and I used it very successfully for a pick-up gaming session. When Living Rokugan went into production two years later, I wanted to re-use the idea but worried that cannibals might be a little too dark for an RPGA scenario. (The RPGA’s restrictive “ethical guidelines” were famously troublesome for horror-themed games and scenarios.) I substituted an Oni instead, while retaining the basic concept of an inn whose staff collect victims by drugging their food.

The PCs’ actual mission for the module was likewise derived from that long-ago pick-up game: a young Lion samurai who goes missing on the way to a marriage, and who is suspected of fleeing the wedding due to the prospect of losing his family name to his Matsu bride. This concept allowed me to explore various aspects of the Lion Clan, especially the tensions between the Matsu and Akodo families. My particular favorite part of the module was the encounter with the aged Matsu samurai-ko who wishes to die with sword in hand and challenges the PCs for this purpose (also derived from a Challenge-Focus-Strike I found on the same website).

This was probably the last module I wrote with “RPGA gamers” specifically in mind. I was concerned that some players would just skim through the various role-play encounters along their route, resulting in a module that ran too quickly; accordingly, I added an optional encounter in which the PCs could defend a village against a bandit gang. As it turned out, this “gratuitous combat” was never needed or used, since the feared “RPGA gamers” were too busy playing Living Force and Living City (and prepping for Living Greyhawk) to bother with Living Rokugan.

Like almost all the Year One modules, Evil Feeds Upon Itself was not intended to tie in to any later storylines or meta-plots. However, I did have to explain why an Oni was lurking in a Lion village, so the mod included some clues to the existence of a corrupt Kitsu shugenja-ko who had fled the town after the Oni escaped her control. A couple of years later, this “undropped shoe” would be picked up in the module Flower’s Kiss, creating a sort of mini-arc.