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 submitted several months earlier, and I held onto it while I contemplated how best to make use of it in the campaign. As originally written, it had a fairly “generic” setting (rather than being specifically set in the Dragon lands) and IIRC it was intended to be Low/Mid Rank. I liked the module’s basic concept a great deal, but felt that it needed a more concrete setting and introduction. The solution I found was to pair it with A Champion’s Heart, my own module depicting the retirement of the Mirumoto daimyo and the selection of his replacement via kenjutsu tournament. This was an event prominent enough that I could justify bringing a large number of PCs into the Dragon lands, including Low-Rank escorts and hangers-on, and the mystical/mysterious Dragon lands seemed like the ideal place for this module to take place. I changed Harsh Lessons to Low-Rank not only to fit this idea but also because it seemed to fit the module’s themes and challenge level much better. Also, I much preferred to give out the “Thunder Dojo Sensei” reward to Low-Rank characters rather than to established PCs.

I wrote the first part of the module from scratch, showing the PCs’ arrival in Yushosha Seido Mura (Champion’s Shrine Village) and their various role-playing encounters before they pass into Maigo no Musha and discover the mysterious Thunder Mountain Dojo. I decided to set the Mirumoto tournament in that specific town both because it seemed like a suitable place for such an event (the farthest place within Dragon lands that visitors are normally allowed) and because I really liked the description of the place I had created back in HoR1 (for the module A Walk Through the Mountains); I very much wanted to revisit the place and add some more depth to it. As always, I included a mix of new and returning NPCs for the PCs to interact with before the main action got rolling, and since this was a Low-Rank module I made a point of drawing the recurring ones from other Low-Rank mods such as Shadow on the Court. (One new NPC here deserves special mention: Bayushi Makesu, who was of course a backhanded “tribute” to our departed cheater.)

In the main plot of the module (all of which Jim wrote), I really liked the concept of the PCs restoring the monk’s destiny and identity by performing humble “apprentice monk” tasks, cleaning up and reparing the dojo. Not only was it a completely different sort of challenge than what appeared in most modules, but it also offered a rare opportunity for PCs with off-beat Skills and Schools to shine – Sparrow and Miya characters with practical Skills, artisans of all clans, etc. I also liked the idea that the PCs could travel to the “edge” of the monk’s realm and actually see across into the neighboring realm of Jigoku… it felt very much like the classic depiction of the spirit world in 1st Edition, where one could travel to any part of the spiritual domains simply by walking far enough.

It is worth noting that this module is the one responsible for my taking the “spirit realms series” concept from the earlier Essence of Yume-do module and running with it. Essence’s author had noted that he could not see any way of setting a module in Maigo no Musha (the Realm of Thwarted Destiny), but this module not only did it but pulled it off with flair. With two of the Spirit Realms thus dealt with, I decided to go ahead and see how many more I could cover, leading to later mods such Mujina Tricks and Reverence for Chikushudo.

A note of amusement: For the most part, players were able to figure out this module and resolve its challenges readily enough with a suitable mixture of creativity and mechanical ability. However, one anomalous table did occur in which the PCs completely misunderstood the situation, convincing themselves that repairing the Dojo was actually opening a path to Jigoku. They instead actively destroyed the Dojo, then (unsurprisingly) lost the final battle with the Oni and wound up imprisoned in Maigo no Musha alongside the monk. Although the players had done this entirely on their own, their GM felt so bad about it that he later wrote a lengthy fiction to depict their eventual repair of the Dojo and return to the mortal realm.