Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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Ever since Otomo Keisuke made his second appearance (and committed another murder) in Kuro’s Fire, I had ruminated on the idea of a module in which the PCs would finally have the chance to bring him to justice. My assumption was that Keisuke would continue to spiral down into paranoid psychotic madness and, as a result, the Scorpion Clan would eventually decide he was more trouble than he was worth. Without Scorpion protection, he would become vulnerable to the PCs’ investigations.

Since Keisuke was an influential Imperial, I set the module in Otosan Uchi and specifically within the “Ekohikei,” the elite inner part of the city which had also been the setting for Kanrinrin’s Duty and Fist of the Earth. The boxed set for Otosan Uchi was full of cool locations and NPCs which had not yet been explored in those modules, and I had a lot of fun developing the path which Keisuke would follow as he wandered around the city. I especially liked including an encounter with the rakshasa-disguised-as-Togashi (Raniyah the Sly), which made for some great role-playing. In fact, I liked Raniyah so much that I later used her as the villain for the adventure in AEG’s “Second City” 4th Edition boxed set.

My justifications for the PCs being in the Imperial City were the two big Jeweled Tournaments (Jade and Emerald), especially since the Jade Tournament ran at GenCon 2004 as a special event. I figured by this time all of the PCs were famous enough to justify their attending these events as guests.

The scenario’s introduction was set in the House of a Thousand Stories, an inn run by an Ikoma with an Inner Gift that allowed him to tell all manner of historical stories as though he had personally witnessed them. I really liked this NPC concept as well, and ended up bringing the Ikoma and his inn back as a ghost/supernatural setting for an Interactive in HoR2.

The Quest Giver in this scenario is Daidoji Mei, the sweetly innocent Crane maiden who previously appeared way back in Face of Fear. I actually considered making her into Keisuke’s wife (and thus motivating the PCs with her murder), but ended up deciding that was unnecessary to motivate the PCs and would therefore be gratuitous.

One interesting problem that often arose with this module was a sort of mental trap players sometimes fall into, in which they see only one way to approach the scenario and continue to bang their heads against that in futility for the entire round. I’ve seen this happen in other scenarios but it was far more frequent here than with any other module in HoR1. Basically, the players would jump to the assumption that Keisuke had returned to the Otomo Palace after his night at the geisha house and then spend the rest of the module futilely trying to meet with him there (and getting rebuffed by the Imperial functionaries) while Keisuke was actually wandering around the Ekohikei. Since the module had an effective time-limit (Keisuke would eventually come to his senses and return to the safety of the Palace), this would result in the PCs failing the investigation. However, some PCs eventually did break out of this mental trap in time to solve the case, most notably in a couple of instances where they decided to ask the Scorpion ambassador for help (the Scorpion of course knew where their former client was).