Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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The campaign’s second Interactive ran exclusively at Origins 2003, which was the first Origins I attended (in part because I finally figured out that the drive to Columbus was only 9 hours, not 12 hours). As I mentioned earlier, the RPGA team at Origins was much more friendly to us than the national leadership, and happily welcomed our Interactive even though the campaign was about to depart into the wild. We got about the same number of players as for the premier of Shiro Kyotei, but with a somewhat different mix; I once again played Otomo Hiroshi, while the other NPCs present were Yasuki Taka (obligatory) and Naka Kuro (a tie-in with the module Kuro’s Fire that premiered at the con).

This event saw the conclusion of the “Lion and Crane” arc with a major battle fought at Toshi Ranbo – the battle took place at the end of the Interactive, and all the Crane and Lion PCs had to leave their negotiations to go fight in it. This was not as grand as the finale I had originally envisioned for the arc, but the player numbers at the time simply did not support the larger-scale event I had wanted. (We would eventually achieve the kind of event I dreamed about… in HoR2, five years later.) Up until the battle took place, diplomacy was the order of the day, and somewhat to my surprise the Crane came very close to forging a peace and pushing the Lion into attacking the City of the Rich Frog instead – in which case the battle would have been Lion-Unicorn. Ultimately, however, the Crane were unable to “seal the deal” and the battle was fought as I’d originally expected. In an outcome I can only describe as kharmic, all the Crane PCs died in the final round of Mass Battle.

The battle also saw the “fall of the Akodo” as Toturi is disgraced by the influence of the Bloodsword and the Akodo name is declared shamed. This did not result in the Akodo samurai being expelled from the clan but simply in their losing their family name – thus allowing the Akodo PCs to remain part of the Lion Clan and not be forced into ronin-hood.

The two mini-missions in this Interactive were my favorites in the whole campaign. In one, Yasuki Taka sends the PCs to disrupt a Kolat plot in one of the nearby Hub Villages – Taka, of course, being both a Kolat Master and the conspiracy’s worst enemy. I liked this little mystery/rescue mission so much that I later created a sequel to it, the module Way of Deception. The other mission had Naka Kuro sending the PCs to investigate a situation that turns out to be a moral quandary with no clear solution – the idea here was that Kuro was looking for an apprentice and thought this difficult scenario would be a good test of such students’ moral character. (Hilariously, the PCs responded by taking no action and simply going back to Kuro: “It’s kinda complex, we didn’t know what to do…”)