Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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The final “regular” module of the campaign, and also the final visit to the Shadowlands. The specific concept for this module arose very late and emerged primarily from the need to create some sort of way for Kisada to be redeemed and thus bring the majority of the Crab back into alliance with the rest of the clans. In the canon CCG storyline, this was accomplished when Kisada encountered the possessed Hantei the 39th (and got the Hantei Ancestral Sword run through his gut. That wasn’t an option for HoR, but I came up with an alternative – I decided that at some point in Year Five, Kisada had been replaced by Hida Atarasi (who as an Akutenshi would have flawless shape-shifting powers). So the PCs would rescue the real Kisada and bring him back to reclaim leadership of the Crab Clan.

The module opens with an extended “boxed text” sequence in which the PCs learn what has just happened at the Imperial City: Toturi (possessed by Fu Leng) has arrived to claim the city, and in response Otaku Taro has finally succumbed to his sword Treason, murdered the Emperor, and opened the gates for the Dark Kami. Of course, once the PCs knew all this, how could I send them off on a mission to the Shadowlands when their natural impulse would be to rush to the capital? My answer was to bring in the ultimate Quest Giver: the reincarnated Shinsei himself.

Getting the PCs back to the Shadowlands was kind of tricky by this time, since the corrupted Crab armies had conquered the southern Crane coastline and an overland journey would take far too long under the circumstances. The solution was to send the PCs by sea to Shinsei’s Last Hope, the fortified Crab village isolated within the Shadowlands. This place had been invented by the L5R Story Team writers a couple of years before, but unlike a lot of the stuff introduced in the Gold/Diamond era, I actually liked it… the idea of the Crab defending an isolated “pure” village because of an ancient prophecy from Shinsei seemed very true to their nature. Plus, it let me show something new in the campaign’s final visit to the Shadowlands.

The twin Mantis samurai-ko Lost who are torturing Kisada were former PCs – their players had written me a year or two earlier about how they fell to the Taint, and I finally had the chance to work them into a module. Although they were dangerous opponents, I deliberately did not over-crank their power level, since I felt it would be rather obnoxious to kill off experienced PCs on literally the last module before the Day of Thunder.