A Legend of the Five Rings Campaign
We had our first session of the new Legend of the Five Rings campaign- Hogwarts style! We are all tiny children at a daringly revolutionary inter-clan school that was started in the last campaign. So far, we spent most our time playing games, getting punished with after-school work and warring with the Bayushi bullies in our school. It was very cute and utterly hilarious. Of course, the teachers are already hard at work to groom us into stiff bushido samurai and they’ll kind of succeed. As long as no one messes with our kite or our kemari ball!
We played our second year of winter court at Hogwarts the Tonbo school! It was a royal winter court as the emperor and his family joined and our group got to meet some of the emperor’s slightly creepy children. We got kidnapped by an evil Bayushi scribe who felt slighted by our parents (= previous PC’s). Our GM played him very much like the bumbling villain from many childhood series (reminding me of De baron from Bassie & Adriaan). Still, it was fairly traumatic for our kid npc’s, having seen our first zombie and our first sliced-in-half body.
Our second plot of the night was a mysterious incident in the Kuyuden no one would tell us about. It set the tone for this campaign, I think. In our previous campaign, we were important enough to always be at the forefront of the action. In this one, we’ll be much more in the crowd, wondering what the hell is going on (of course, we’ll use other means of finding out. Eventually we found the stolen scepter of the emperor – it was stolen by our archery teacher and the next day we had a new teacher for archery class!
Our third LR5 Tonbo school (Hogwarts) session. My favorite part was taking down the bullies of the little brother of our PC. When threatening didn’t work, we resorted to a Bayushi-like scheme of getting them caught out on school grounds after curfew. It turns out the dastardly seven-year old bullies were sneaking out to pet the school ponies. We sure showed them, the bastards! We also went on a week-long school organised camping trip where a Bayushi stole our week’s rations, goblins came to scout our tree hut, and the defense against inhuman enemies teacher tried to ritually sacrifice our newest classmate. Worst camping trip ever!
Our dating & gempukku episode! In the last year of L5R Hogwarts, boys had to ask girls to join in the Chrysanthemum procession. Much chaos, intrigue, teenage flirting and sabotage ensued, not just because of teenage hormones, but also because a Bayushi classmate had the Matsu into thinking she was going with the Hida but he was going with the Damselfly girl OMG. Duels were cunningly avoided and brave samurai had to take one for the team, but in the end everyone ended up happy.
Then we got a fairly suspicious assignment that turned out to be our gempukku trial! It was supposed to be harmless but of course we ran into some Maho (= black magic) shenanigans along the way. My character developed some severe authority issues and almost failed her gempukku through general disobedience but got saved by the rest of the group. Awesome!
The death of the Emperor
Our group reunited during a visit to Otosan Uchi to join the funeral proceeding for our dearly departed emperor, and to listen to rumors and intrigure concerning the successon. And to shop, make crafting projects, drink saké, talk about kimono’s and go to the theatre.
After all that, our twerpy former classmate Bayushi Ogura invited us to a party (A trap, a trap!) where his father Bayushi Kaukatsu, soon to be Imperial Chancellor, forced us to enter his service as spies!
What an evil SneakyMcMaskerton.
The Mantis Isles
A ship’s session in L5R where we sailed to the Mantis Isles. Our nemesis (well, one of our nemesi) managed to annoy us even at sea as he’d bribed one of the heimin sailors to make sure the ship would never arrive. He did a good job with poisoning our water supply but fortunately the water shugenja in our group managed to fix that problem fairly easily.
When we arrived at the mercantile Mantis Isles, we made willpower rolls and now three of us have a lvl 1 Greed stat. I’m sure that won’t become a problem in the future! A lot of money was spent, though strangely not at the drinks-massages-and-”massages”-are-on-the-house bathhouse. In all of that consumption we almost forgot about our main mission – finding out who killed the late Mantis Daimyo. I guess we’ll eh… get to that next time?
An L5R session in which MANTIS TRIED TO EAT MY DOG! Sure, they were heimin but that’s no excuse.
After a midnight rescue of the dog, Ren and Katsuko were stuck in a bad part of town in their under-kimono’s, they got assaulted but heroically rescued by some guy who turned out to be our secret spy contact (unfortunately our group had forgotten the code phrase). Even more unfortunate, he mistook our mortal enemy for his contact and gave him all the secret information before us!
Not too mention the fact that Sotaro and Taeko are terribly sick, and that the only shugenja who could get us past the storms surrounding the island was a philandering drunk who slept with Katsuko’s mom and wouldn’t shut up about it!
A comical session where we found out that everyone in the “free bath house” is so friendly because the Mantis samourai have a mating program going on (which has been very successful so far) and where we trained monkeys from the dreamworld in samurai ways to free two of our party members from the thrall of the dream dude. Oh, and apparently my character, in the heat of the storm, promised the Fortune of Safe Passage an underwater castle if they’d arrive safely. Turns out they keep people to those promises. Whoops!
In L5R we visited the Island of Spice to stage a daring rescue of the illegitimate daughter of the assassinated Mantis daimyo. She was hiding from and threatened by pretenders to the daimyoship. Her rescue involved lots of running around, climbing over things, strategizing and, also surprising to ourselves, pretend makeouts.
Our L5R session of last week took us to the Emerald Championship! It was a big event since one of our group is a very talented duelist – she’d been looking forward to it for ages!
She ended in 16ths place, which was a shame! Especially for us since we’d been betting on her, and my bet was for her quarter final finish!
Of course, there were also shenanigans going down in the tournament. We prevented the most obvious one, and witnessed the less obvious one. Those devious clans!
Here’s the session report!
But in case you don’t click on that, I’ll already add my beautiful Festival Grounds map here:
An in-betweener session that brought us by boat from the Emerald Championship to Yasuki Yashiki, where we are tasked with spying on Kaneka, the fourth pretender to the throne. There are a lot of courtier there, and even more classmates! Looks like we’re in for some intrigue.
In our bi-weekly LotFR session we ran circles in the Yasuki provinces! There were so many things going on in the province that we had a hard time deciding to do what when! Fortunately, we made our NPC sidekick into the leader of our group (so we could travel under Monkey jurisdiction) and he authoritively lead us around! We ran into rather a lot of Crab trouble, Gaki trouble and then we built a raft!
Our group has arrived in Ryoko Owari Toshi, the city of lies! It was a lot like Baldur’s Gate II, where you go into the city and NPC’s are literally queueing up to see you.
Most of our group also nabbed a kind of solo mission:
– my blacksmith character is infiltrating the evil cultist Smithy of Doom, – the fire shugenja has a commission to provide fireworks for the city’s liberation festival
– the earth shugenja is trying to find the antidote to the chemical substances that the Yogo alchemist took by accident
– and the duelist found a new dojo to train in.
– The Hiruma scout and his shugenja sister are both working on figuring out the encrypted message. It’s a race!
In L5R we get to list “scenes that you think would be cool” along with our character info. So if you would like a scene the GM wouldn’t normally run (Hot Springs Episode!) you can put it up. It’s also a good wayto point out that, even though your character is working her ass off towards her deepest desire, you the player would find it incredibly amusing if she would fail utterly , or that “It would be great if my duelist lost an arm”. Most of our players prefer to simply be surprised by whatever the GM comes up with, but I generally enjoy some extra hardship in my stories (and pluizebol some extra drama and angst).
So this session (and in the mailplay leading up to it), my character infiltrated a cultist smithy, got horribly caught in the midst of snooping, had to be rescued from a basement filled with dirty & enslaved heimin by the rest of the group and, worst of all, the most reputable cultist stole her kaiu blade and is now parading around with it at court in frilly Kakita bindings!
The shame of losing your Kaiu blade is enough to justify seppuku, but I think my character will find her honor sufficiently redeemed if she razes the entire cultist organisation in Ryoko Owari Toshi to the ground.
The Burning Sands
The Siege of Hinotama Castle
Five armies of Iuchiban laid siege to Hinotama Castle. Sotaro the Scout points out that a lot of them could be here only “because they didn’t know there is another option”. So we decide to infiltrate the armies and present that other option in a series of negotiations and juicy, juicy drama.
- The White Crab have had their leader taken over by the Onisu of Fear. They are too scared to run, even though their ranks are being turned into zombies. Katsuko once ran away from a duel with the White Crab leader, and she is eager to redeem her honor. When she defeats him during the battle, he turns out to be an empty suit of armor.
- The Snake camp is the worst of the worst: ten maho tsukai, blood magic users. One of them is Bayushi Fumiko, Ren’s former lover, thought lost in the Blood Rain. She blames Ren for abandoning her, and refuses to go over or stay with any side. Ren helps her commit seppuku during the battle.
- Sotaro informs the sieged castle of their battleplan by way of arrow, so they can storm out and help turn the tide. After that, he contents himself with shooting as many zombie herding Kuni as he can find.
- The Lion part is run by Akodo Katsuko’s husband-in-paper, who is willing to help them in exchange for purification. Iuchiban has enslaved them with a taint spell. If the shugenja can lift it, they can commit an honest, untainted, seppuku. We convince them to fight first, and seppuku after the battle. Taeko, Toshiaki and the nearby Kitsune work together to call on one big morning blessing of Lord Yakamo that purifies the Lion and hurts the Maho Tsukai and the zombies.
Ryoko Owari Toshi, The Realm of Animals and Traitor’s Grove
We visited Fallen Ryoko Owari Toshi (which was a horrible place, much like in former Rokugan) and found Bayushi Kanman. He fled through a portal to the Realm of Animals. We chased him, but those group members who didn’t hold a lot of stock in the bushido virtue of Loyalty had a hard time not turning into their clan animals: Mantis, Fox, Peacock…
With a lot of work we made it out of the Realm of Animals and ended up in Traitor’s Grove, where Kanman had turned into the Onisu of Betrayal. With some creativity and help from the Grove’s guardian we managed to defeat the Onisu and burn down the grove. Whoo! Next and last stop: The Shadowlands.
Tomb of Iuchiban
We finally made it to the TOMB OF IUCHIBAN, Legend of the Five rings dungeoncrawl module. Yes, we ended last campaign with a miniatures battle, this season with a dungeon crawl. I wonder what’s next!
The Tomb itself was filled with puzzley rooms (Oh, those crafty Kaiu) that were painful but not lethal. Until we came to the entranceway to the final room where we ran into the Onisu of Oblivion. He boasted that if we killed him, he would take one of us with him and that person would be out of the cycle of regeneration for good. Our Hiruma scout Sotaro took the risk and indeed was cut in two. EEK!
No one ever dies in our campaigns! Cue lots of effort to get him back into the reincarnation cycle, with some success. Then we entered the tomb and found Iuchiban’s horecrux (our story isn’t quite canon).
We then used the horecrux to bargain with Jigoku (= Hell) to remove all corruption from Rokugan in exchange for Iuchiban’s soul. Making deals with Jigoku is never a good idea, but our characters would have traded a LOT more for that outcome.
With Iuchiban made mortal, the forces of Rokugan move in and liberate the land.
The next 20 years
We make a time jump to 20 years later, so I had quite a bit of time to fill in for my character. I made it into quite a heavy epilogue/intermezzo. My engineer Asako Ren was mostly the level-headed leader of the group who couldn’t show a lot of emotion in front of her friends, but that left a lot of pain untreated. After tying up loose ends she requests seppuku but is refused twice. After a long period of misery, she gets back together with her first girlfriend Yogo Reiko (now betrayal-free) who has what it takes to take on this broken person. She finishes Asahina Yajinden’s last sword and calls it Peace.
20 years later
We are called to Otosan Uchi for the Remembrance Festival. They were quite big after the reclaiming of Rokugan, but 20 years later they are an empty formality. The group meet up with the young Otomo courtier in charge of organizing the festival this year. Katsuko and Taeko are still trying to let the fallen Sotaro be remembered, even though the others have thoughts about this obsession. In the end, they offer to help the Otomo organize the Festival so they can put their own spin on it. To run it well, they will need money from all the clans. The best way to do that is to dedicate one day of the festival to each clan and try to play them out against each other. My character is mostly feeling “too old for this shit”, has kind of lost her massive work ethic, and would much rather just hang out with her girlfriend. But, oh well, duty calls!
The disappearance of Kakita sayako
We investigated the disappearance of Toshiaki and Ren’s niece Kakita Sayako in the Seppun estate. It brought us to the young Crane faction who were clearly not so good at scheming yet. Who lets the champion do their own scheming? Why kidnap the a Crane who has close family outside of the clan to make another clan look bad? Amateurs! We got to make good use of Jan’s new Otomo Seiyaku character – they’re a powerful administrative force in Rokugan. Pocket Otomo! Anyhow, the Crane were forced to play nice with the Seppun and donate to our festival funds.
Then Taeko and Katsuko came back with proof that the Mantis high ups have been raiding other clans’ ships. Now their ambassador wants to see us in their own embassy. We don’t think so! Almost getting killed once per day should be enough for anyone, thank you very much. Big discussion on how to make the most of this information and also on how not to get killed.
My character wants to use it to negotiate with the Mantis on restoring the balance of the economy (yeah, I know! Two seasons ago we were fighting for the balance of the heavens, now we’re balancing books) which will take Rokugan away from the brink of War. But truthfully, that might be a little too much for us and our Pocket Otomo. Alternatively, we can take the matter to the baby Regent’s mother who is a Mantis and who will hopefully clean up ship (gha, ship!) but an honest Mantis is hard to find…