Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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In truth, this module probably should not have been labeled as part of the “Lion and Crane” arc, since the Lion do not even appear in it. My justification at the time was that the module was set in Crane lands and its outcome would determine how badly the Crane Clan was hurt by the Wasting Disease… which, in turn, would affect how well or how badly the clan did in the war against the Lion.

The villain in this module, Iuchi Dogo, had an interesting pedigree. He was based on a player-character in one of my home campaigns who suffered from an obsessive hatred for the Crane (they had bankrupted his family) and who had noticed that the 1st Edition version of the spell Sympathetic Energies was actually… fairly sinister. The spell lowered an opponent’s Ring and raised an ally’s Ring by the same amount, which could be not only physically crippling but outright lethal to the enemy. As a result, the character went down a rather dark path, although he ultimately died while still one of the “good guys.” For the campaign, I decided to present Dogo as a straight-up villain and see how far he would go. He was introduced as a sub-plot in the module A Foreign Legacy, at the end of which he murdered a Crane and fled into the night.

Since he was an Iuchi shugenja oriented toward Air and Water, I decided he would then acquire the patronage of the Dark Oracle of Air, who guided him into embracing maho and stealing one of the Black Scrolls (the Wasting Disease) in order to have his vengeance on the Crane Clan. This module thus marked the return of the Dark Oracle, Isawa Gidayu, the campaign’s most hated villain. It was also the first time Gidayu appeared in a module written by me instead of by Keith.

Although I had the idea that Dogo should become a recurring villain, I was not absolutely determined that this be the case. Thus, while I did give him a host of “cheats,” special protections to reflect the sponsorship of the Dark Oracle, I did not make him completely invulnerable – if the PCs tried hard enough and were a little lucky, they could take him out and bring his career as a recurring villain to an abrupt end. And in point of fact this was exactly what happened at the premier – every single table managed to kill Dogo in spite of all his special abilities.

This module saw another usage of visions and dreams to help the PCs along. (I did this only infrequently in HoR1, but would get more aggressive with the idea in HoR2.) It also served a major meta-plot purpose by establishing that the Black Scrolls were starting to be opened, thereby laying the groundwork for the eventual Day of Thunder.