Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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From the completion of the Last Wish, I slammed the PCs right into resolving the fate of Doji Hoturi and his wife Ameiko – a relentless plot-cascade made necessary by the target date of finishing the campaign by GenCon 2005. I used a former Crane-PC-turned-ronin-NPC (the player had “retired” the character to try to warn Toturi about the Bloodsword) as the initial Quest Giver, sharing information on what had happened in Kyuden Doji. I also used the canonical NPC Kakita Kaiten, a major CCG personality making one of his few campaign appearances. In order to give the PCs maximum control over their own fate, I provided options for them to reach Kyuden Doji by land or by sea, and either overtly or via stealth.

I enjoyed creating the depiction of the “city under siege,” with an outwardly almost-normal daytime life marred with unsettling events (such as myriad public executions) while at night the place cowered under the terrifying pall of Goju stalking the rooftops and streets. I also liked that I got to bring back the “villain” Daidoji Hitokiri, the pseudo-harrier from Knife in the Darkness, who now becomes a pseudo-hero. However, I was rather frustrated at having to pack both that theme and the big rescue mission (into the Kyuden itself) into a single module, and found myself wishing I could have done this as a two-module set – one Low-Rank module in which the city falls to the Shadow and the PCs have to escape, and then a Mid/High-Rank module in which the PCs go into Kyuden Doji to rescue Hoturi’s wife. By this point in the campaign, such an approach was made impossible both by time-constraints and by the strong desire of the players to run their “main” characters in every module… however, I would remember this multi-level-storytelling idea in HoR2, and embrace it there.

I did enjoy using the classic map of Kyuden Doji (from “Way of the Crane”) as the basis for the PCs’ rescue mission, and here – as with Time to Pay the Price – it was fun to transform a known and recognized hero, Doji Hoturi, into a terrifying villain. In point of fact, Hoturi had only appeared in the campaign two or three times previously, so I had not really “earned” the impact that his transformation had on the players… here, as in many other places in HoR1, I took advantages of the fact that these were all known and recognized NPCs from the CCG and the “Way of the Clans” RPG books, so the players tended to already have emotional connections to them. Essentially I was spending story-capital built up by AEG before me. In HoR2, I would not have that luxury, and would have to put much more effort into developing and showcasing the NPCs.

Ultimately, this module seemed to go over well – it was essentially a subtler and more complex play on the same themes as Time to Pay the Price, but with the PCs having more options and with social action and stealth playing larger roles. Still, I wish I could have done it in two modules…