Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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The Kolat sub-plot finally climbed back into the limelight with this module; in retrospect, this should have been Part 2 of “The Hidden Temple” and In Time of War should have been Part 1. My Scorpion “anti-hero” Shosuro Tajiki returned one last time to be framed by the Kolat for the murder of a Lion samurai. I picked Kenson Gakka (Humility’s Lesson) as the setting for the scenario because of its bitter Lion-Scorpion history, which would make it much easier for the Kolat to pull off a frame-up of a Scorpion. Plus, I had a complete map of the citadel from one of AEG’s canonical L5R adventures, giving me a good physical structure for the scenario.

Like several other such scenarios, Damning Evidence drew heavily on the social conventions of geisha houses. The way the “floating world” operated as a separate and distinct social environment within the larger world of Rokugan fascinated me, and I returned to this many times in both this campaign and the next one. (In fact, I often thought about doing a module set entirely within a geisha house – I never quite pulled that off, although I got close in HoR2’s mod A Champion’s Heart.)

Since the PCs were facing a Kolat frame-up, I deliberately made this into a no-win scenario. It would have rather absurd, after all, for a thousand-year-old conspiracy to create a frame-up that could be unraveled in a few hours by a small group of samurai. So the evidence was, indeed, by Rokugani standards completely damning – players who were accustomed to going through an investigative module and systematically unraveling the truth found themselves running up against an endless series of brick walls. They could uncover just enough information to satisfy themselves that it was indeed a frame-job, but not nearly enough to exonerate Tajiki.

The only way to technically “win” the investigation was to ignore conventional evidence in favor of specifically evoking the testimony of the ancestors (the one form of magical evidence which the Lion will accept). However, even if the PCs pulled this off, the dead Lion’s son insisted on a duel (the Kolat chose their target carefully). So Tajiki perishes no matter what – but not before passing on his information to the PCs, anointing them as the new crusaders against the Kolat.

Side-topic: “All-Rank” Modules
I had experimented once or twice earlier with modules designed to be played by characters of any Insight Rank, but for the most part I had tried to create distinctions between Low-Rank modules aimed at less-powerful characters and the Low/Mid and Mid-Rank mods aimed at the longer-playing veterans. However, the campaign’s relatively high casualty rate had played havoc with this structure by regularly forcing players to start over with new characters. Heading into the campaign’s final year, it was increasingly apparent that everyone wanted to be able to play all the remaining modules with their main character, regardless of Insight Rank. In order to accommodate this, I decided to make all the remaining modules into “All-Rank” scenarios. This meant a lot of extra work, since I had to create two complete sets of stats for the bad guys in every module – AND include additional balancing suggestions for parties that fell at the upper and lower extremes of the power-curve. The final six months of the campaign would have been mentally exhausting in any circumstance, but were made even more so by this. I was very glad to move on to HoR2 and start writing basic Low-Rank mods again.