Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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Originally, my intention was for CogCon (in September 2007) to have only two premiers: the two Twenty Goblin Winter modules, which would mark the campaign’s first venture into the Shadowlands. However, the unexpectedly high casualty-rate at Origins led me to the last-minute conclusion that I needed to get another Introductory module into the campaign for the various players who would be starting new Rank One characters. With only two weeks to go before the convention, I scrambled around for ideas and lit on the notion of rewriting an old L5R “classic” adventure called A Shadow of a Doubt (originally co-written by Keith Weepie and myself) into an HoR module. The original was focused on role-play, investigation, and samurai competitions, with only one “real” fight at the end, so it would be friendly to new PCs; likewise, the original pre-generated characters had been combat-weak Rank One and Rank Two characters, mostly courtiers, so it would be fairly easy to revise the scenario into an Introductory module for HoR2.

Shadow of a Doubt depicted a winter court in Shiro Akodo, and featured a Crab-Lion marriage alliance as the major political backdrop. To fit the scenario into HoR2’s storyline, I took advantage of PC-brokered agreements at recent Interactives that called for marriage alliances between the Unicorn and the Dragon, so the adventure was relocated to Shiro Mirumoto and featured a Mirumoto-Moto marriage, with the names/clans of all the NPCs changed to match. The two major secondary NPCs were likewise changed to fit the new setting – the old adventure’s Daidoji spy became an Ikoma Spymaster, and the old Moto monster-hunter became a semi-demented Crab bushi. The only notable additions I made to the NPC mix were my avatar Otomo Hiroshi (recording historical events as always) and the two Dragon courtier-maidens who served as light comic relief. (When occasion allowed, my wife and I would play them together, talking back and forth and agreeing with each other: “I know, neh?” “Neh!”)

The original scenario had specifically included prizes for the various competitions (painting, dance, storytelling, iaijutsu) so that the characters would have chances to win minor jade and crystal items which could drive away the Oni no Ianwa at the climax. For HoR2, I carried this straight over and included certs for the items, since they were pretty minor in terms of “power” but could be critically useful when facing the occasional Invulnerable foe. Plus, it made the module rewarding to PCs who went to the trouble of putting Experience Points into artistic Skills… something that otherwise tended to get short shrift in the campaign.

A nice side-benefit of putting out this module was that it was more enjoyable to GM (and much easier as well) than Tournament of the Topaz Champion, while still retaining some of the same advantages of showcasing diverse skills and introducing Rokugani samurai society. As a result, Shadow on the Court largely “took over” as the standard module for new players entering the campaign.