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 came to be known as “Screwed by Justice” to many players, since the ending forced them into a no-win scenario in which they could not defeat the villain and, in fact, usually had to desperately lie in order to prevent themselves from being arrested. Metaplot-wise, Summoned to Justice is the lead-in to GenCon’s release of The Hidden Heart, the climax and finale of the Miya Shikan arc, so I deliberately made this module as frustrating and infuriating as possible to ensure the PCs would be well-motivated for the follow-up.

I had been planning for something like two years that a Doomseeker would eventually come into the Empire to hunt for Shikan, and thus had known that I wanted the PCs to meet and interact with him in some way; of course, much as with many other campaign storylines, the exact details did not come to me until much later. The big problem was figuring out how and why the PCs would be looking for the Doomseeker, and the key to writing the module was when I realized the solution: Shikan himself should dispatch the PCs to hunt down his foreign nemesis. This let me bring back the PC-turned-NPC Miya Reisei for another appearance – by this time, she is a khadi herself, along with Miya Hanzu, and I dropped some hints about her villainy in the conversation the PCs could potentially overhear between her and Hanzu.

This module called in all sorts of sub-plots and NPC threads from many earlier mods – a deliberate choice on my part to try to emphasize how the Shikan storyline was moving toward a climax. For example, I had decided some time earlier that Shikan’s heart would be hidden beneath the new shrine to the Fortune of Peace. Since an Interactive had determined that this was in Phoenix lands, I used this module both to include a first visit to the shrine (and the discovery that weapons are not allowed within it, a bit of direct foreshadowing for the next module) and also to show the effects of the Unicorn-Phoenix war on the region. Since the shrine was designed and built by Kaiu engineers, I worked in a sub-plot around the murder of the Kaiu who helped design the shrine, and this let me bring back Kaiu Sumata for a return appearance. (Sumata had survived the outcome of Cursed Gift, and I liked the NPC enough that I decided he would be my best option for setting the PCs on the trail of Shikan’s heart.) I placed the climactic sequence in this module at a bridge that was being built as one of the last parts of the new Imperial Roads, another call-back to earlier sub-plots and a chance to show how the Empire’s internal economy was about to undergo another round of changes.

The climax of the module, in which the PCs meet the Doomseeker Safir and he is then murdered by Miya Hanzu, was intended to frustrate the PCs while also giving them a set of very solid clues about the location of the khadi’s hidden heart and ensuring they would have the ritual needed to overcome the heart’s mystical protections when the time came. (PCs also had the chance to learn this ritual in Journey to the Burning Sands, but since there’d been some casualties since then, I wanted to have another avenue to bring the ritual into the player-base.) The most infuriating and dangerous part of the mod’s conclusion is not the fight with Hanzu but the aftermath of that fight: a political/legal confrontation with Reisei and Hanzu, who can easily turn aside any accusations and will do their best to have the PCs arrested. In order to escape, the PCs must lie, flee, win a duel against a tough opponent, or expend major amounts of their own political capital in the form of Favors and Allies; regardless, they are unable to bring Hanzu and Reisei to justice… hence the player nickname for this scenario.

A side-note: The mercenary Mantis (Tsuruchi Shin) who appears in this module as a paid agent of Miya Shikan was actually a PC whose player decided to submit his character as an NPC villain-for-hire. His brief appearance here was foreshadowing for Hidden Heart, where he would appear alongside Miya Hanzu for the final “boss fight.”