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 module of the mini-arc was Parvez’ sixth and final module for HoR1 (he would write four more for HoR2). This mod had a somewhat unusual structure – it was essentially a “compilation module,” the RPG equivalent of a short-story collection, with four different sub-stories linked only by geography (the region the PCs are investigating) and, more subtly, by theme. In this case, the theme is “moral quandary” -- Parvez really liked the way L5R could showcase situations which did not have simple or obvious solutions, and he wrote this module to try to promote that aspect of the setting.

Of the four sub-stories, the most interesting was the one about the Phoenix karo whose lord keeps refusing to let him commit seppuku. This was actually an idea that Parvez had been working on for a long time but was unable to expand enough to be a full module standing on its own – this “compilation module” was his solution. This story was especially interesting to me because of the way it brought the players’ Western sensibilities into direct collision with Rokugan’s very non-Western mores. An American would instinctively want to save the life of the noble old karo, who has spent years helping his lord rebuild his lands from the defeat a generation ago. But a Rokugani would be just as instinctively sympathetic with the karo’s desperate need to finally cleanse the dishonor he has endured for so many years.

The other plotlines had less depth than the Phoenix one but I found them all interesting. The maho-protected village, the most extreme of the four "quandaries," produced the least amount of moral conflict among players -- by this point in the campaign “it’s maho, KILL IT” had become completely ingrained and no one was willing to cut the poor peasant any slack, despite all the good he had done.

My own contribution to this module was the poisoning sub-plot and the brief scene with Matsu Hiroru (the "white ninja"), establishing his bona fides for the later development of the Kolat arc. The introduction of Hiroru was something I really should have done much earlier in the campaign's overall plot-arc -- a lesson in storytelling I would carry into HoR2.