Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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The original submitted draft for this module was simply enormous – it opened with an extensive combat in which the PCs helped the Unicorn do battle with Shadowlands forces troubling their lands. My first decision in editing was to cut out that entire sequence, since it did not actually have much of a role in the rest of the scenario and it made the module impossibly long. Even with that change, Words and Deeds tended to be a long-playing module and I knew of at least one table which ran over six hours.

This module was something of a jumble, combining several different ideas from the original author and some of my own as well. There was not actually an overarching plot as such, but rather a whole series of smaller incidents, stories, and sub-plots which the PCs could get tangled up in while attending the Ume Festival at Shiro Moto; there were a vast number of different things for the PCs to get involved in, ranging from court intrigue to horse-races to religious veneration. To the extent that the module had a primary purpose, it was to put the PCs into contact with the Unicorn Khan, Moto Temujin, with opportunities to win his favor or, more commonly, his enmity. A significant subplot was aimed at PCs who had become Dragon sensei as a result of the earlier module Harsh Lessons, while another subplot allowed the PCs to meet a prince from the Ivory Kingdoms and try to help him break a curse on his family sword. Scorpion PCs could try to recruit agents within the Unicorn lands, artistic PCs could help a local theatre troupe improve their play, there was a shogi tournament (a nice way of emphasizing Unicorn divergence from the rest of the Empire, since the whole rest of the campaign was focused on Go), and some PCs could even fight a demonstration duel with the Khan.

The module ended with the Khan announcing that Ryoko Owari would be burned to the ground for the crime of rebelling against the Unicorn occupying forces. I added this element to the scenario to specifically show that the Empire’s wars were heading toward a series of destructive finales, setting up the final emergence of the Steel Lion as the Big Bad.

Incidentally, since this module included an option for a duel between a PC and the Khan, I had to finally give the Khan a set of game statistics. I started out by assigning him the Traits and Skills I thought he should have, and then calculated his Insight Rank… which ended up placing him at Insight Rank 14! And he was the guy who DIDN’T get to be the Big Bad. My decision to run the campaign’s final heroes-versus-villain fight as a semi-abstract storytelling sequence with minimal die-rolling came in large part from realizing that Gintaku would have to be mechanically even more insanely overpowered than Temujin.