Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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This module was written as a Rokugani riff on the horror film “The Fog” (the original, of course – the mediocre remake didn’t show up until years after this was written). Although I generally tried to avoid doing too many “XYZ but in Rokugan” modules due to their being derivative/unoriginal, the concepts in this draft diverged enough from the original movie that I was willing to take it on, especially since it shared the Thrane/Mantis themes from A Day’s Sail. It was the submission of both that mod and this one that inspired me to create the “Shipping Lanes” arc and the NPC of Daniel Hatchermann to link them together.

In this module Hatchermann takes a much more direct part in the scenario than he did in A Day’s Sail (where it was common for the PCs to dismiss him as an exotic bit of scenery), including being an active combatant in the main confrontation with the drowned revenants. This meant I had to give him a stat-bloc and a Technique (“Hand of the King”) which hinted at his true role in Rokugan. I chose to give him a single Technique rather than a School because I wanted to reinforce the idea that “Schools” were primarily a Rokugani thing and other cultures would have different approaches to such game mechanics. Of course, within the confines of the L5R system there was only so much of this I could do (I couldn’t get rid of the Five Rings, for example).

An important aspect of this module for me was that it began setting up the idea that gaijin were not merely foreign but actually different in a fundamental metaphysical way from Rokugan. This was an idea that went all the way back to 1st Edition’s descriptions of the alien nature of both gunpowder and gaijin magic, and was reinforced by a fascinating little detail in the “Otosan Uchi” box set: the capital’s Enchanted Walls, which repaired any damage done to them, had never regrown the craters made by gaijin cannon during the Battle of White Stag. All of this suggested to me that in a world where magic and the spirit realms were real, a clash between Rokugan and the outside world would literally be a clash of realities (as well as of cultures) and this could have all sorts of interesting ramifications. This module expressed the idea through the Thranish revenants, who are “undead” but not Tainted and thus completely alien to Rokugani spiritualism – they are immune to Jade Strike, for example.

A secondary appeal of this module for me was the chance to set the module in Kyuden Kumiko, a location which had only recently been established in the CCG -- information at this point was limited to the name and a single piece of card art, so I was free to be as creative as I wished in depicting the place. (When the place got officially written up for Strongholds of the Empire three years later, I subtly edited the text to incorporate my ideas from this modue.) I also had fun creating the big Mantis festival and the various encounters and challenges that the PCs could have while attending it… the pickpocket, the log-balancing contest, etc. Throughout HoR2 I made a point of working in these sorts of “side encounters” to try to add depth and flavor to the modules, with varying degrees of success.