Rob Hobart

Author, Game Designer

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Heroes of Rokugan I

Heroes of Rokugan II

L5R Homebrew

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Ever since Broken Words ended with Kagekaze still alive in the campaign, I had known that I needed to find a way of wrapping up the assassin’s personal storyline. I also needed to find a way for the PCs to learn that Matsu Nimuro was still alive (in hiding) and bring him into contact with Toturi Kobe, thereby providing the honorable portion of the Lion Clan (and all the PCs, of course) with a rallying point. Finally, I really wanted to give my old favorite O-Doji Koneko one final moment in the spotlight. Out of these three story impulses emerged this module.

Since Koneko had retired to the Brotherhood, that dictated that this module would be set in a shrine; I chose the shrine of Benten because it was the most prominent temple in the Crane lands, hence the logical place for her to wind up. Plus, it let me send the PCs to a part of the Empire they hadn’t visited before (I even threw in a final appearance by the Smiling Bowl noodle chain.) I enjoyed depicting the unusual nature and layout of a major Brotherhood temple complex. Ultimately, though, the key reason for placing the module in a Brotherhood shrine was to present a scenario where Kagekaze would have to kill a bunch of indisputably virtuous people in order to reach his target, thereby shattering his already-fragile “assassin’s code” and forcing a showdown that could be moral and psychological as well as physical.

Here, as with many other things in the campaign, I was deliberately subverting the normal expectations of the players. Instead of giving them a standard “boss showdown” with Kagekaze, I presented them with a man in the throes of a moral crisis, unable to face the collapse of his personal code. The situation could be resolved entirely through role-play, potentially resulting in Kagekaze committing suicide in despair. Of course, if the players _wanted_ to fight, there was nothing stopping them, and it was interesting to me to see how many tables spoke with Kagekaze and how many simply threw down and rolled Initiative. (Probably the craziest table was the one where a PC with the Orochi Rider Advanced School – which he had just attained after having patiently spent the whole campaign spending the XP required – summoned his Orochi right into the temple, leading to mass destruction as the giant serpant battled the ronin killer.)