Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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The first of the two Origins 2004 premiers was something I had been mulling over for quite a while – the introduction of the Naga into the campaign storyline. I had known for a long time that I needed to do something about the Naga, and had planted seeds in earlier modules’ various “gossip sections” by mentioning that Mirumoto Daini had been sent to investigate the rumors of snake-men in the Shinomen Forest. When I began making plans for the 2004 summer conventions in January-February, I listed this title as one of the Origins mods, knowing only that it would somehow revolve around the PCs going to the Shinomen to find Daini. However, actually turning the idea into a module proved quite challenging – this mod was probably as close as I ever got in HoR to outright writer’s block.

The solution, ultimately, came from Ree Soesbee’s L5R novel “The Dragon,” which included a major sub-plot about Daini’s visit to the Naga. I have always considered Ree to be one of the two or three best L5R writers and the novel included a very cool scene in which Daini is tested by the Akasha itself, which creates illusions of his worst fears. I decided to make a similar event into the centerpiece of this module, with the PCs being tested by visions that touch on their innermost fears and desires. (I was a big fan of these sorts of “get inside the PCs’ heads” scenes, having used them effectively in home campaigns, and would return to the idea more ambitiously in HoR2.) The Akasha scene also served a long-promised purpose by giving the PCs a once-in-the-campaign chance to purify themselves of some (or even all) of their Shadow Corruption and Taint.

Soesbee’s novel also served as the inspiration for my making the NPC Mirumoto Yukihera – cousin to Hitomi and Daini -- into a significant villain in the campaign’s final year. Yukihera was nothing more than a card in the original Clan War arc, but the novel elevated him into a significant bad guy who embraced the Taint and took control of the Mirumoto family while Hitomi and Daini were absent. I gave him a similar role in HoR, even playing him as an NPC in the campaign's final Interactive, and leaving him effectively in charge of the Dragon Clan until the module Faith in My Clan near the end of Year Five.

This module also contained an element I had not tried before: scenes that directly previewed a later module. Up to this point, I had relied almost entirely on the “gossip section” at the start of each module to drop clues about upcoming plotlines, but in Tao of the Naga the PCs actually have encounters during their lengthy journey to the Shinomen in which they directly learn that the Kami Shinjo has returned to the Unicorn Clan from the Burning Sands. This served as a preview for the upcoming GenCon module Command of the Kami. Of course, if the PCs had to travel all the way BACK from the Shinomen they would never be able to participate in the events of Command of the Kami, but I solved that problem by having the Naga jaklas send Daini and the PCs back to the Empire with pearl magic.

A Metaplot Side-Note
By this point in the campaign, Parvez and I had agreed that his Bloodsword-wielding character (Otaku Taro) would become an NPC, attain the office of Emerald Champion, and eventually betray the Emperor himself… IF he could survive through GenCon. (This was by no means assured, and Taro had many brushes with death before finally attaining his Dark Fate.) During the play-through of this module, Taro (who had both three Ranks of Shadow Corruption and a Rank of Taint) managed to completely purify himself. Parvez realized this was actually bad, since Taro was supposed to succumb to the Taint as part of his eventual doom (our plan was that he would use the power of the Taint to win the Emerald Tournament against superior opponents). So, Parvez voluntarily agreed for Taro to purify only the Shadow Corruption and retain his Taint. I knew there was a reason I gave him the Bloodsword...