Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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Like Blood of Midnight, this module had to pack a lot of meta-plot into a single four-hour slot. The opening sequence establishes that the Unicorn civil war is over, the Yokatsu/Kolat faction is defeated, and Shinjo (in Kamoko’s body) is putting Moto Gaheris in charge. And the PCs are then introduced to Shinjo Shono (never before seen in the campaign) who immediately sets out on a quest to hunt down and kill his father, Yokatsu. This unfortunately meant that the PCs didn’t have much emotional connection to Shono, even compared to other “name” NPCs in the campaign. I tried to compensate for this somewhat by sending Shono and the PCs on a long odyssey through the Unicorn lands (and eventually into the unaligned lands and the City of the Rich Frog) to give them time to get to know him.

Incidentally, the title of this module was chosen based on the mod's plot of Shono seeking retribution against his traitor father. However, the actual card “Fires of Retribution” was themed around magic and the supernatural, so perhaps it was not the best choice I could have made.

Much like A Walk Through the Mountains, this module drew on the Secrets books (in this case Secrets of the Unicorn) to develop the PCs’ journey and experiences. Thus it served in part as a “tour” of the more obscure regions of the Unicorn lands that had not previously been seen in the campaign. Finding ways to make all these places interesting was something of a challenge, though, especially since every scene basically amounted to “have you seen this guy passing through?” I did try to work in a few more canonical NPCs in cameo roles to spice things up. For the climactic raid on the Kolat-operated geisha house in the City of the Rich Frog, I drew on a “typical geisha house” map from the original L5R rulebook, and then added a set of hidden underground chambers for the Kolat agents. I left it entirely up to the PCs how to make their assault on the place, and enjoyed the creativity employed by some parties (such as the group who had their Earth shugenja move the entire party into the underground barracks for a surprise assault on the sleeping Kolat guards).

The battle with Yokatsu himself tended to get a little odd, since under 2nd Edition rules the “Shinjo parry” technique was incredibly powerful at Rank 5. In many cases the battle consisted of Shono and the four best PCs getting blocked while the two slowest/weakest PCs (who had often been beaten up or blinded by the Kolat ninja/geisha) tried desperately to hit Yokatsu, which was an interesting reversal of the typical L5R 2nd Edition fight.

Matsu Hiroru made his second appearance in this module, supplying the PCs with key information and assistance for tracking Yokatsu to the Kolat geisha house. Here as before, I was “rushing” to get Hiroru established before his final appearance in The Dragon’s Heart just three months later.