Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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As its name implies, this Interactive – which took place at the campaign’s second Weekend in Rokugan -- was inspired by a location in the old Otosan Uchi boxed set – an inn whose Ikoma owner was able to tell countless stories about the past as vividly as if he had witnessed them personally. For some reason I really liked this concept – I used the location twice in HoR1 and then decided to use it again in HoR2. Of course, with 350 years having passed, this was problematic… my solution was to present the Inn as a ghost story… an illusory location created by the original owner’s lingering desire to continue telling stories. To make this work as an Interactive, I had the PCs – putatively returning from various Winter Courts, and with certain diplomatic matters remaining unresolved – get caught in a freak early-spring snowstorm, forcing them to take shelter in the conveniently-located Inn. Once there, they create a miniature “court” to resolve the issues left unfinished from the winter – including the Hare Clan’s growing trouble with the three different Great Clans sponsoring its shugenja school, and the Dragon Clan’s push for a war with the Badger.

I played the Ikoma innkeeper/ghost, while my wife played a servant, conveying the sub-plot of our ghostly nature through various oddities of speech and behavior (such as being ignorant of the Empire’s contemporary circumstances). This allowed us to enjoy the event without having to get involved in the diplomacy, whose results we simply collected at the end – after the “guests” had finally confronted their “host” and forced him to stop keeping them in his false “inn.”

This was the first time I arranged to have WiR, and with it a major Interactive, run at multiple locations at the same time – both in the US and overseas – with the results compiled into a single outcome for the campaign as a whole. This experiment proved quite successful and I would repeat it for the next three years’ worth of WiR Interactives. It proved especially useful in this first case due to a unique problem that developed: the Dragon contingent at the WiR which I hosted personally decided to completely ignore their clan orders and seek peace with the Badger instead of gaining support for a war. (I believe this was largely the result of one specific player’s efforts, though I never found out for sure.) As a result, I had to throw out the results on that topic for my WiR and rely on the outcome from the other event (which was inconclusive). The whole thing flummoxed me so much that I imposed no further sanction, though in retrospect all of the Dragon PCs should have lost Glory and Honor for doing the exact opposite of what their lords had told them to do.

A major sub-plot at this Interactive involved the construction of a new high-quality “Imperial Road” across the Empire, with extensive negotiations as to what route it would take (including the prospect of re-opening the long-closed Beiden Pass) and which clans would benefit from it. I actually took this concept of new Imperial Roads from a rejected module submission (the first time I had chosen not to use a submission): a module based on the 19th-century incident of the Lions of Tsavo, the basis for the movie “The Ghost and the Darkness.” The mod was problematic for a number of reasons, but I did really like the idea of the Empire building a new set of “autobahn” roads, and used it both as a negotiating point at this Interactive and as the background/plot-hook for numerous later modules. In truth, this one idea ended up being far more influential than the module itself would have been if I’d gone ahead and used it in the campaign.