Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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Keith had drifted away from Living Rokugan after finishing A Mantis and His Rat, so from summer 2001 through to late fall 2002 I was the only one writing modules for the campaign – as well as continuing to write Call of Cthulhu scenarios. As a result of the RPGA’s advanced deadlines for major cons like Origins and GenCon, during a four-month stretch from December 2001 through March 2002 I had an almost impossible workload, an experience that would not be replicated until early 2010. I had to write 6 rounds of Rokugan and 3 rounds of Call of Cthulhu during those four months, while also attending two cons (one of them Winter Fantasy) and migrating the Living Rokugan website to a new host. I made all the deadlines, but by the time I turned in the last project at the end of March I was physically and creatively exhausted.

At which point I realized I still had a commitment for a premier module at a regional con in June, and the submission deadline was in two weeks.

My solution was to strip-mine an adventure from my old home campaign, an adventure which in turn had been derived from an adventure seed in the City of Lies box set. In the original AEG concept, Osano-Wo himself appears and demands that the PCs “cleanse my house” – by which he means Shinden Osano-Wo, located on the nearby Plains of Thunder. The problem turns out to be that the abbot of the temple has fallen in love with a peasant girl, and the Sin of Desire has made his prayers impure. However, he isn’t willing to admit what he’s done, so when the PCs make the accusation he responds with outraged violence. Only after they defeat the abbot – who, as the adventure seed comments, is “as tough as you would expect an abbot of Osano-Wo to be” – does he see the error of his ways.

For my home campaign, I kept all of this but added a twist – the “peasant girl” was actually an agent of the Kolat who seduced the abbot. The Kolat’s goal was to control the abbot’s supervision of the upcoming Emerald Championship and thus install one of their own in that office.

To adapt the story to Living Rokugan, I kept the same basic idea (abbot corrupted by love/seduction), but relocated it to a different and more exotic temple, the Shrine of the Ki-Rin, and changed the seductress from a Kolat to a Bog Hag. I had finally figured out that using the clichéd option – the seductress is a Bog Hog! – was okay the first time around, since most players had never encountered it. This option did not allow a Fortune to show up and demand the PCs get involved, so I used a different idea – a natural disaster (earthquake) that signifies the wrath of the spirits, directing the PCs toward the Shrine as the source of their anger. This was an idea that I liked a great deal and would later use in a much more ambitious way for the module Fist of the Earth.

Despite the tight deadline, I enjoyed creating the layout and map for the Shrine, which had never been clearly described in L5R canon, and ultimately I was pleased with how the scenario turned out. As with several other early modules, I worried that the scenario might suffer from a short playing-time, but in practice this was not an issue at all.