Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

Home Novels L5R Other RPGs Miscellaneous Writing About Contact

Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

Download The Adventure
Download the Bayushi Boon Cert
Download the Nishari Blessing Cert

Claudia had intended pretty much from the beginning that the Code of Bushido series would end with the PCs having to confront Nishari’s now-Lost lover, Taro; the title “Loyalty” (the Scorpion version of Duty) would thus be an ironic comment on the fact that Nishari herself, after marrying into the Scorpion Clan, had utterly failed to uphold that principle. Since Taro had been one of the “sub-bosses” in the big battle at the end of HoR1, it seemed only proper that he should reprise that role in HoR2 by being the end-boss of the Code of Bushido sub-plot. That meant this module would be a challenging one – not just a Shadowlands module, but also the campaign’s first Mid/High-Rank module. Knowing that a showdown with Taro was eventually coming, I had worked in a number of foreshadowing moments in various fictions.

As with some of the other Bushido modules, Claudia and I went back and forth for some time on exactly how this story should be presented; in particular, Claudia advocated for an ending in which the redeemed Nishari entered Yomi, while I argued that in a Rokugani spiritual context, redemption would mean returning to the reincarnation cycle and getting another life to try to “get it right.” The final version of the ending, in which Nishari is claimed by Bayushi to serve as his anonymous spiritual messenger, was something of a compromise.

This module introduced the Rokugan 1500 version of the Toritaka lands and their daimyo. In the original draft, the blind Toritaka daimyo was actually female; I decided to reverse this and make the daimyo male because (a) the Crab are a male-dominated clan, so having two female daimyo at the same time would be out-of-theme for them, (b) the Toritaka daimyo was allied with Kuni Yuriko in opposing Gojiro’s excesses, and I didn’t want the leadership divide within the clan to be seen as a “men versus women” scenario, and (c) a single female Crab daimyo, especially one with the exotic appeal of being blind, would inevitably generate a swarm of “can my PC marry her” fictions that I really didn’t want to deal with.

Since this was a Shadowlands module that featured a climactic battle with a major secondary villain, we wanted to make the trip to Taro’s headquarters as memorable as possible. Claudia and I both contributed to the encounters along the way – she did the “blood storm,” for example, while I created the humorous/horrible scene of the two goblins arguing the merits of brains versus intestines (a riff on a scene from the cartoon Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends). The scene in which the PCs can ‘save’ a samurai prisoner from falling to the Taint underwent a significant change during editing; Claudia actually wanted the scene to pay tribute to a PC from HoR1, but I felt that most players in HoR2 would not remember that PC and, in any case, he would never have survived 360 years in the Shadowlands... so I instead used one of the PCs who had been defeated and captured in City of the Lost. (This module also saw the return of the now-NPC’d Moto Chinua, who had fallen into Taro’s hands after likewise meeting defeat in City of the Lost. In effect, Loyalty became a sort of sequel to the earlier Shadowlands mod.) The climactic fight with Taro, at a Lost settlement right outside the Festering Pit, was designed to be as “epic” as possible while still making sure that the PCs would be able to win.

Since this was the climax of a secondary plotline rather than of the campaign as a whole, I did not want the PCs to suffer heavy casualties against Taro; on the other hand, a fight against a powerful Lost at the very brink of the Pit needed to be suitably scary and dramatic. The key to making the fight “work” was exploiting the kharmic connection between Taro and Nishari – while she continues to exist in Ningen-do, Taro can heal himself from anything (negating the usual party-versus-lone-villain problem of L5R combats), but once the PCs ‘kill’ her to break the connection, Taro can be beaten quickly. Still, the fight made for some cool moments where GMs could look at players and say, “So, do you have Great Destiny?”

In 2009 I decided to move CogCon (my local convention, which always featured multiple HoR premiers) from fall to spring, in part because running another major event one month after GenCon had become harder each year, and in part because moving it to the spring let me space out the module release schedule (and hence my writing/editing schedule) better. As a result, I scheduled both Loyalty and Kevin’s module Fall Before the Master (which also had Shadowlands themes) to premier at CogCon and ended both modules with identical “postscript” scenes in which the Lost – now left disorganized by their leaders’ defeats – are rallied by Moto Yoshi. This was foreshadowing that Yoshi (now serving Akodo Gintaku) would lead a Shadowlands attack on the Crab and eventually ally the Lost with the fallen Lion.