Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

Occult Murders, Ch2: Soul of Iuchiban

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The second module of the Iuchiban arc was structurally pretty much the opposite of the first one: an open free-form investigation with no set ending, allowing the PCs to follow whatever path they chose to root out the Bloodspeakers. This design was heavily influenced by my previous experience writing Call of Cthulhu scenarios, many of which employed this structure. (And many of which also involved rooting out evil cults…) The main point of this module was to show that the Bloodspeaker Cult had suddenly become much more active/aggressive and was trying to find information on the location of Iuchiban’s Tomb. Thus it was essentially foreshadowing, something I was starting to actively work into the campaign as I became more comfortable with what I was doing.

The choice of setting (Miya lands) was motivated by several factors, but the single biggest one was that the ultra-peaceful, semi-isolated Miya essentially had no soldiers, wardens, or magistrates of their own, making it credible that they would call in outside samurai (the PCs) to deal with their sudden crime-wave. The running theme of “tour of Rokugan” was also a factor. Finally, by the time I wrote this mod I had come up with the basic idea for the later module Winter Court: Kanrinrin’s Duty, and thus wanted to lay the groundwork for that scenario here. This is also why I made sure to include a brief appearance by Miya Satoshi to reveal the tensions between him and his father Yoto.

Writing this module was actually a lot of work because I had to make a complete list of all the Bloodspeaker cultists, all the crimes they had committed (and who had committed each one), and all the clues the PCs could find in each village. This proved to be considerably more labor than I initially expected, and I barely made the submission deadline for this one. (It was soon after I finished this mod that the RPGA decided to lower the deadline from six months to two months, which made my life much easier and also allowed me to start making the campaign a bit more “reactive” to player actions.)

The evil monk who was actually a retired Scorpion was a subtle attempt to showcase an internal contradiction within the Clan of Secrets – they watch over all sorts of evil and dangerous items (such as the Black Scrolls), but their rejection of Bushido makes them more likely to betray such trust. After all, most of the Black Scrolls ultimately wound up in the hands of others…