Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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And here we are, the long-awaited doom of Miya Shikan. I’d been planning something like this ever since I came up with the whole Shikan-as-khadi idea back at the end of Year One… after all, you can’t have a khadi villain without eventually sending the heroes to seek out his heart. Essentially this would be HoR2’s take on the classic Tomb of Iuchiban story, but in this case the location would not be an absolute death-trap since it would have been created by the khadi himself rather than by his enemies. Specific concepts like where the heart’s “tomb” would be located and when the PCs would go after it were much more fungible, of course – I went back and forth on many different ideas before deciding that the Shrine to the new Fortune of Peace was the ideal place, especially since it let me provide an entirely logical and believable in-universe reason for the PCs to be disarmed.

Kaiu Sumata followed-up on his role in Summoned to Justice by serving here, one last time, as a Quest Giver. Plus, it let me send him along to help the PCs in the final fight. He managed to survive once again, and thus officially lived to the end of the campaign (with one player writing a fiction to have him ascend to the position of Oracle of Earth). The choice to make the secrets to Shikan’s “tomb” be delivered by a Kaiu was inspired by the original Iuchiban storyline in 1st Edition, in which PCs in Ryoko Owari could discover an ancient scroll by a Kaiu engineer who helped design the Tomb. I paid tribute to that in this module by letting the PCs have access to a hint-poem from the lead engineer on the Shrine of Peace. This was one of only two genuine “dungeon crawls” in HoR2 (the other being Spider’s Lair a few months later) and I had a lot of fun designing Shikan’s secret tunnels and all the various tricks and traps to be found therein. In keeping with the tribute to the original Tomb, I set up the place to have several “false paths” and a “false tomb,” an array of traps, and several puzzles that had to be solved in order to reach the correct location.

The final battle, pitting the PCs and Sumata against Miya Hanzu and Tsuruchi Shin, would have been relatively easy under normal circumstances but I made it challenging via the restrictions of the Shrine of Peace, which resulted in many PCs being unarmed. (I also toned back Shin somewhat, since the original PC version of the character was a completely broken power-gamer build. Since I wanted the PCs to be able to win, he had to be toned back.) This in turn required that they approach the fight in ways both creative and heroic, rather than simply relying on their high Skill rolls. This led to some cool moments, such as the Utaku Battle Maiden who used a kata to kill Shin with a spear taken from one of the traps in the room, or the Kitsuki who used a fishing-net to entangle Hanzu.

Of course, the real pay-off of this module was the moment when the PCs got to stab three undead hearts, thereby bringing an end to Shikan and his minions.