Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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The second module from our Australian team of Mark Biffin and Leah Bushby, this one was derived from the ongoing meta-plot element of the Empire building a series of high-quality roads to improve trade – essentially the L5R equivalent of Eisenhower building the Interstate Highway system. Negotiations at various Interactives had resulted in an agreement for Beiden Pass to be re-opened as part of the project; Mark and Leah had proposed a module set in Beiden in which the PCs would resolve various problems delaying the work. I loved the idea but knew it had to be released within a specific time-frame in order to fit into the campaign’s overall storyline. Thankfully, Mark and Leah came through, and I was able to release this module before its plot-window closed.

The basic concept here had the PCs climbing though the still mostly-ruined Beiden Pass in order to find out the source of various strange incidents and disasters which are delaying the project. Like a number of other modules of this sort, I chose to make this Low-Rank both because that better fit the story (higher-Rank characters would be unlikely to get assigned to this mission) and to facilitate my ongoing effort to present a two-tiered storyline to the players.

The core challenge in the module is a clash within the ruins of Beiden between a possessed Scorpion (another follow-up to the Traitor’s Grove storyline) and a Free Ogre. The nice thing here is the moral reversal – PCs will naturally tend to assume that the monster (the Ogre) is the real threat, but in fact he is basically okay and can be dealt with through negotiations, whereas the Scorpion is actually a murderous lunatic who will lie to the PCs and try to kill them. The original draft had the Scorpion villain utilizing charmed animals to threaten the PCs, but I decided to drop this when I modified the concept of why he was in Beiden (a connection to the twelfth-century “Spider Clan”) and instead relied on his Yogo-school mastery of Wards.

This module contains a couple of unique elements – it is the first and only HoR module to feature a Free Ogre, and it’s also the only one to directly reference the “Spider Clan,” the ridiculous contrivance that L5R came up with to allow the Shadowlands to compete in the Race for the Throne. The Spider were an outgrowth of an earlier, IMO deeply misguided effort to “humanize” the Lost, an idea that violated everything previously established in L5R canon and that fatally weakened the entire concept of the Taint. The Spider Clan’s ongoing presence in the post-Race world of L5R only made things worse, undermining the setting’s integrity and credibility (sadly, the recent sale of L5R to FFG truncated plans that were underway to finally turn the Spider and the Lost back into the unmitigated Evil they should have been). Of course, in HoR2 I had decided from the beginning to ignore the “humanized Lost” theme, and deliberately made all my depictions of the Lost explicitly embrace the original concepts of 1st Edition. When the Spider first came along, a year after HoR2 launched, I immediately decided they would have no place in HoR campaign. The abandoned ruin in Beiden Pass was my personal swipe at the whole concept, depicting the Spider as having been wiped out so thoroughly that no one in the year 1500 knew they had even existed.