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 third Interactive was inspired by a moment of creativity a year earlier at the premier of Shiro Kyotei. That event had taken place in the basement of a dying but not-quite-dead shopping mall, and the convention space included many back hallways and office-spaces that we used for changing into costumes and for running tabletop sessions without noise pollution; it occurred to me that it would be really cool to run a Kaiu Wall Interactive in that space, with the smaller rooms being used to represent PCs who were sent up on the Wall or down into the tunnels below. Of course, when it actually came time to run the event a year later, we were in a different space and the “separate rooms” option was no longer available…

The Interactive's other source of inspiration was my general dissatisfaction with the canonical “the Crab ally with the Shadowlands” plotline from the Clan Wars era. This was a classic example of what happens when one creates the story first and the background later; when L5R launched as a CCG in 1995, the only concept for the Crab was that they were the “protectors gone bad” and that worked well enough at the time. But when the full world of Rokugan was fleshed out in the RPG in 1997-98, the history and nature of the Crab Clan drastically undermined the credibility of the original story. Since I came into L5R from the RPG and only slowly learned about the CCG storyline, I was completely appalled by the Crab/Shadowlands alliance. This was a clan whose samurai were trained to kill each other, and even to kill their superior officers, at any sign of Taint or demonic possession. Would they really just all salute and say “yes sir” when Kisada announced his alliance with the Shadowlands? Sure, some of them would – obedience is driven into samurai from birth – but the whole clan? It seemed to me that the logical outcome of Kisada’s announcement would be a Crab civil war.

This Interactive was my attempt to confront the issue for the HoR campaign. It was structured as a political contest between Kuni Yori (played by me) and Hida Sukune (played by Nate Young), and one of the mini-missions involved Sukune sending a picked group of PCs to follow Yori into the Shadowlands and find out what he is up to. At the end of the Interactive, Yori and Sukune confront each other, with Yori proclaiming that he is merely carrying out the will of Kisada, and the Crab PCs have to decide which of them to support. If a majority backed Yori, things would play out according to “canon” (and Sukune would be sacrificed), but if a majority backed Sukune, we would get a Crab civil war instead. Much to my satisfaction, pretty much everyone backed Sukune – in fact, I only know of one “Kisada loyalist” character in the entire campaign.

The Interactive also featured a general trip to the Mass Battle Table when the Shadowlands lays claim to the Eighth Tower (a storyline I borrowed from the later Gold era of the CCG). This was my second and more ambitious experiment at incorporating Mass Battle into an Interactive, and it taught me some important lessons (especially on the need for more GMs) that would prove quite useful two years later at the Day of Thunder.