Starting Anew: Campaign Design

After a long break from running L5R, the author finds he is ready to begin a new campaign. Good friends are ready to get back to Rokugan, and enjoy some deep, immersive, action-packed roleplay. Since many of the e-mails I receive seek advice on how to get groups together, it seems reasonable to make the construction of the campaign an open book (doubly applicable since the campaign in play will also be likewise documented). Read the rest of this entry »

DDC 2003: Lion at Autumn’s Gate

Another enjoyable ‘Con. Our event this year was a change from the prior two years’ Scorpion-based games. This year, we proudly presented “Lion at Autumn’s Gates”:

“Lion at Autumn’s Gate. The castle may be breached, but honor shall remain intact. This is a proper end for a bushi of your status. You will meet the enemy at the gates, and make them pay dearly for every step. Your name will be remembered.”

A two GM event scheduled for a total of 12 players (6 and 6), our Satursday evening, 8pm start time (prime time, as they say) saw a large waiting list of hopefuls. I hate to turn away folks from a game … and so, grew my portion to 11! Luckily, I always prepare more PCs than needed. The total event ran for 6 hours, and I believe was enjoyed by all. The House of the Jade Lantern salutes our players – the bold Matsu bushi and the esteemed and honors Ikoma bards – and of course, our brilliant co-GM, Wayne!

As in the prior two years, the GMs were:

Brian Isikoff: Master of the Jade Lantern, author of the “12 Diplomats of Bayushi Risako” event at DunDracon ’99, and the co-author of the “Eaters of Sin” events at DunDracon ’01 and ’02.

Wayne Ogle: GM of a regular L5R campaign on the North Bay, as well as the author and GM for the epic “Anvil of Despair” events at DunDracon ’99 and ’00, and the co-author of the “Eaters of Sin” events at DunDracon DC ’01 and ’02 .

DDC 2001: The Eaters of Sin

The Eaters of Sin

Some call it Journey’s End City and some call it the City of Green Walls. In the end, it is Ryoko Owari Toshi: the City of Lies. Behind every smile, a lie. And behind every lie … honor? A Scorpion’s paradise is sometimes its pain as well.

The above image is an artist’s rendition of the Bayushi enforcer group from the Eaters of Sin storyline. The kanji in the top half of the art correspond to the names of the characters – clockwise around the table from the left they are: Hungry Moon the Assassin, Wind the bushi, Five Thunders the impersonator, Empty Wind – courtier and ringleader, the other bushi Big Fortune, the duellist Hollow Eyes, Void the shugenja, and Smoke the saboteur. The artist played Empty Wind. Domo arigato to Ms. Zimmer for the outstanding artwork (which is not in the public domain)!!

The Eaters of Sin – a DunDracon 2001 event – was an “all Scorpion” story with characters provided. Two sessions of this event were be run (simultaneously) with two separate storytellers on Sunday (2/18), at 8:00pm.

Each PC group was a capable band of Scorpion enforcers – Bayushi and Soshi. They had been summoned and assigned the tasks of escorting the younger brothers of the recently arrived Daidoji Magistrate to Ryoko Owari.
A fun time was had by all! Thanks to all the players who attended!!

See the DunDracon website for full details about the convention.

The GMs were:

Brian Isikoff: Master of the Jade Lantern, author of the “12 Diplomats of Bayushi Risako” event at DunDracon ’99, and the co-author of the “Eaters of Sin” events at DunDracon ’01 and ’02.

Wayne Ogle: GM of a regular L5R campaign on the North Bay, as well as the author and GM for the epic “Anvil of Despair” events at DunDracon ’99 and ’00, and the co-author of the “Eaters of Sin” events at DunDracon DC ’01 and ’02 .

Bitter Milk

The Bitter Milk of the Dark One

The Magistrates seize command of the fort and institute immediate changes. The fort’s three remaining taisa (“captains”) are allowed seppuku; the chui and gunso are denied such. Immediate training and drills begin; watches are fortified and overseen. Quickly, the voice of Gunso-sensei Basho are heard along the Wall. The Magistrates devote the second portion of their attentions to the investigation – both are important, but the Magistrates are properly intent on the security of the Wall.

Questioning reveals little, although all the wards are checked and heimin and henin staff questioned. There is no sign of the Taint, and the food and water produce no evidence of poisoning. The condition of the fort’s men seems to suggest otherwise, however: nearly 50% of the bushi – infantry and archers alike – appear to be suffering the effects of deep illness or poisoning. Evidence seized from the former commander’s quarters suggest likewise. The fort physicians can find no cause. Read the rest of this entry »

Sound of Drums

Along the great Kaiu Kabe (The Kaiu Wall), the samurai of Clan Crab are arrayed to defend the Emerald Empire. The families and followers of the Kaiu toil endlessly to ensure that the Great Wall itself remains strong and tall against the nightmarish onslaughts from the Shadowlands. Towards this end, the Kaiu devote portions of their magistrates to patrol the wall, visiting and observing the structure – and their brethern’s – resolve.

The Tage no Kaiu (Tage of the Kaiu family) have historically contributed a high number of magistrates to the cause. It is a point of signifigant honor among the Tage.

Now, a new generation of Tage samurai and their companions take up the title and grave responsibility of Magistrates.

…and so, it begins… Read the rest of this entry »

Handout Madness

Ranking high among the feedback from visitors are questions rtegarding the making of the Lantern, and specifically the fonts used herein (and the Master receives much feedback indeed – a thank you to all those who have taken the time to send their kind words and regards!).

Rather than provide an article on nothing but fonts, today we talk about handouts. The Master simply loves handouts of all types: maps, listings of characters, terminology and slang, stories, geneology charts, etc. Players usually enjoy and appreciate such (see the “warning” below, however).

Like background music – among other techniques – handouts are an opportunity to reinforce the “reality” of the game world, and assist in communicating a common picture of the Rokugan you and your players visit. And making good, evocative handouts is not as difficult – or expensive – as one might think. Read the rest of this entry »

2nd Time Around

You may have heard; you may have noticed.

Legend of the Five Rings is being republished in its new Second Edition. The core rulebook – which has been sold out for some time – is being reissued in two volumes: a Player’s Guide and a Game Master’s Guide. The basic cover for the Player’s Guide is shown at the right (the only image on this site, we might add, which has been…ahem…liberated from AEG).

And, yes, the Player’s Guide has arrived. The Master – lucky monk that he is – picked himself up a copy only two days ago. The Game Master’s Guide is soon to follow (January, perhaps).

As befits a 2nd edition, there have been some changes … Read the rest of this entry »

Shout and Cry

Players spend a great deal of time detailing their characters; indeed, one could say that players know them intimately. In the Master’s humble opinion, it is the goal of most, if not all, players to create living, breathing characters with depth and detail. Some succeed; some do not…

NPCs (non-player characters) represent all the characters within your Rokugan other than those of the players’. Given the countless hordes of such NPCs in the average L5R campaign, how exactly does an ST ensure that they are all flavorful and distinct. And indeed, should they be? Couldn’t we just get tea from a plain old server at the tea house and be on with it anyway?

In short: no. Read the rest of this entry »

Unwriting the World

Ah, happy now are the days when there is more published support for L5R than when the game first came out, yes?

Yes, certainly. More of the world vision is communicated, more ideas. Generally, the material is quite good. While there is not an overwhelming amount of it, much is documented: the Great Clans, Winter Courts, Naga and so on. The Master generally finds this good stuff: the bookshelf is most packed with it.

However, there is a certain weight to it as well. In size, yes. Beyond that, there is can be an anchor effect. With so much of the world written, where is there room for your vision? Read the rest of this entry »

Somber Reunions

The Heroes come together again with the end of the Assassin’s War. The years of war have delivered some measure of fortune upon several of the group.

Gathered together at the Plum Gardens, the home of Mirumoto Shuzento, the Heroes compare notes and celebrate the war’s end. Shuzento, now a minor lord of sorts in the Dragon Courts, is assisted by his adopted younger brother and loyal companion, Jito – who serves as his Shugenja and advisor. The colorful and insightful Akiraka Tomiyori, a Mongoose Courtier and Shugenja attends the Plum Gardens as a representative of his Clan and the general support of many of the minor Clans, whom Heroes have represented in the past. The honorable Daidoji Yosai continues to aid Shuzento as Karo, at the will of the Daidoji Daimyo. Isawa Ikahashi takes the opportunity to visit from his own Phoenix lands, having reached a similar position within his Clan to Shuzento’s.

The Heroes receive a visitor: Grandfather Greeneyes, who relates prophecies and dark omens to the group. The wisened figure proclaims: “This calmness is but a lull in the storm. It will resume, and its fury the greater. It is a reflection ~ as below, so to above. The Court of Heaven is in disarray, and dark tidings lay ahead for all…”.

Grandfather Greeneyes further provides frightening hints that an old enemy may have returned. Shortly after the old man leaves for the road once again, the Heroes bear witness to the arrival of an Imperial Messenger bearing the Mon of the Emerald Champion. The Champion, Kakita Toshimoko, bids the players investigate claims of a volcanon at the southern edge of Mantis lands.

It seems the volcano is where the island of Ikari once lay.

…and the home of Opawang, the Dead Spirit King…

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