Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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The second Origins premier, the third module to be set in Ryoko Owari, and the third such module to be submitted by an outside writer. This one was considerably better than Flower’s Kiss (it wasn’t inflexibly linear, for example), but I still ended up changing it quite a bit for several different reasons. I made it a Low-Rank module both because I was still trying to encourage people to play secondary characters and for meta-game reasons connected to the Goju sub-plot (explained below).

The first change I made concerned the climax of the module. In the original draft the PCs simply traced the kidnapped magistrate’s daughter to Teardrop Island and then fought the gang that was holding her prisoner (intending to sell her to one or another of the geisha houses). This struck me as both insufficiently challenging and insufficiently dramatic, so I decided to instead draw on one of the most obscure and notorious sub-plots from the original City of Lies box set – the secret chamber of depravity known as the House of the Plum Blossom. Rescuing a little girl from a place like THAT raised the stakes immensely, and also let me create some very nasty and sinister NPCs for the players to negotiate and/or fight with. The gang scene that had previously been the climax now became a point in the investigative path leading to the Plum Blossom, and I also added an additional part to the investigation route with a scene in a rather low-class sake house. This whole storyline was something I could never have done when the campaign was still in the RPGA, since it dealt (albeit non-explicitly) with very mature topics.

The second change involved the module’s secondary plot. In the author’s original draft, this was simply an opium war between the rival Scorpion cartels (inspired, obviously, by a similar plot in the City of Lies set). However, I decided to instead make it into a campaign-specific plotline involving the Lying Darkness. One of our Scorpion PCs, Bayushi “Ember” (who had specifically described himself and his family as living in Ryoko Owari) had become Shadow Corrupted earlier in the campaign and responded by recruiting other such PCs into a secret anti-Shadow organization calling itself the Crystal Tears Dojo. He also pursued the personal goal of creating the Shadow Hunter Advanced School. (This was great player-driven meta-play stuff, and set a pattern that would be emulated by many more players in HoR2.) Unfortunately for Ember, he made the mistake of recruiting mostly Shadow-corrupted PCs into his organization… and eventually, one of them (a brutish Crab) failed his final Void roll and became a Goju. This meant that the Shadow now knew everything about the Crystal Tears and its founder… so I decided they would go after him with both barrels. Thus, I rewrote the “opium war” scenes to be cover for the Goju burning down Ember’s house and murdering his family, and I added a scene in which the PCs stumble into a fight between him and a Goju swarm. (This was the other reason I made this module Low-Rank – Ember was Rank 3, so he would be an NPC.) The encounter could also result in PCs being recruited into the Crystal Tears Dojo.