Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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I had been planning for a long time to do a storyline in which Shosuro Tajiki would be transformed from villain to protagonist (or at least anti-hero) due to his pursuing an investigation of the Kolat conspiracy. However, the events of 2003 – the transition from the RPGA to AEG-sponsored independence – disrupted many of my plans, and Tajiki himself had not appeared as often as I had originally intended, so it was not until November 2003 that I released this module and launched the Kolat storyline. Unsurprisingly, it did not quite have the impact I had originally hoped for – for example, a lot of players just treated Tajiki as a standard Quest Giver. It was not until the Kolat took him down in the later module Damning Evidence that this plotline really developed the way I wanted it to.

I had been toying for a while with the idea that the PCs’ Kolat investigations would start in Shiro Kyotei – in fact, this had already been in the back of my mind when I used the castle as the setting for the campaign’s first Interactive. As I mentioned, one of my all-time favorite L5R adventures was “Murder at Kyotei Castle” and I wanted to find a way of paying tribute to it in the campaign. But how to connect the scenario to the Kolat? Inspiration came from another early L5R adventure, “The Hare Clan” (published in the original printing of the 1st Edition L5R GM’s Screen) which depicted the Minor Clan of the Hare being wiped out by the Scorpion after discovering and foiling a Kolat plot. Later, as the world of L5R developed, this story became problematic because Way of the Minor Clans declared that it was illegal for Great Clans to wage war on Minor Clans. The eventual solution, published by different AEG writers several years later, was to explain that the Scorpion presented testimony from an array of impeccable sources that the Hare had been practicing maho; this made the Scorpion attack retroactively legal and acceptable.

Since the Scorpion attack had actually been launched by the Kolat, it seemed logical to me that the Kolat had also arranged for all of these witnesses. So then an idea came to me: what if Tsume Retsu was one of these witnesses? What if the Kolat had suborned him to testify against the Hare… and then arranged for his murder to cover their tracks? Once the concept was in place, I was able to write a scenario that built on the foundation of “Murder at Kyotei Castle,” revealing new aspects of both Retsu himself and of the plot that ended his life. I enjoyed bringing back NPCs from the original AEG adventure, as well as creating Retsu’s journal for the PCs to discover (in a geisha house – I always liked making PCs navigate the strange Floating World of the geisha). I also created a villain specific to the scenario, an egregiously-slimy Kolat merchant with a ninja masquerading as his maidservant. As I recall, at least one PC died outright from the mistake of meeting alone with the merchant.

The background setting for the module – the Lion mounting a rare winter offensive in order to capture the Kintani Valley – was done in order to create a “clock” and a corresponding sense of urgency for the PCs’ investigation. The module ends with the Lion breaking into the valley, besieging and capturing Shiro Kyotei, so the PCs have to finish their investigation quickly.