L5R RPG Adventures
Updated May 28th.
The Traitor Within was an adventure I originally wrote
for Azrael Online. The link has been down for some time, and many of you have written
to me asking for it. For those of you who missed it, it is featured here now!
Welcome to our Sake House fellow traveller. All who enter here journey
along the paths less travelled. It is the season of storms, come in and warm yourself
beside the fire. The sake will soon warm your soul. Would you care to be entertained?
Mariko has many tales of Rokugan, from the intrigues of the Imperial Court, to the
exploits of valiant Samurai.She began with a story;
"Hida Tokiwa, it has been two years since we saw you last.
The late Yakamo requested your services in the Shadowlands
as I recall. You look very pale old friend."
Hida Tokiwa's gnarled hand shook uncontrollably as he bowed
before Hida Kirin. The skin on Hida Tokiwa's pale and emaciated face,
no longer hid the bones beneath. The Shadowlands taint gnawed at him.
"Your heroic service as commander of the Damned has been
commendable. Yakamo gave you a chance to redeem yourself. If
you had been implicated in the murders in Kirin province, the
stain upon your honor would have been scandalous."
"None of us could have known the darkness in Iuchi Shahai's heart...
or the tragic consequences of your romantic involvement with her.
I have information this maho-tsukai has been corrupting our clan
from within. And who can be trusted? We have a traitor in our midst,
that is all we know except... it's possible you know of her
wherabouts? The Bloodspeakers must be stopped, and you must find
her Hida Tokiwa. As you know , the crimes she was involved in
were horrific, and her magic is much stronger now...".
Hida Tokiwa set off on his quest. He was contemplative, lost
in his thoughts as he rode down the winding, dusty road. He looked
upwards, and rolled his eyes, as if to say to Shinsei himself 'why me?'
He tried to rationalize what was right and what was wrong. He was ordered
to seek out and destroy Shahai. And if he killed his former love, would he
feel grief? He tried to find some reason, but felt only an emotional stain.
Perhaps the darkness in her heart would destroy him instead. He hoped Shinsei's
light would illuminate his dark path.
The madness of the Bloodspeakers had consumed Shahai. The atrocities she
had committed attested to that. The wickedness of her dark invocations
were spreading fear throughout Rokugan like wildfire, serving some mysterious
There would be no satisfaction in her death for Hida Tokiwa.
If he didn't feel bittersweet sorrow, he'd feel nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
Hida Kirin's words filled his head. "When you find her, we must
have information about the traitor. We must find out who is betraying us."
Could he be sure of her betrayal? He would surely be a fool to trust
her, but some part of him wanted to believe the love they shared
meant something, that there was some spark of light still within
He stopped at a roadhouse at dusk to rest. Taking his horse to the stables
darkness fell quickly. The roadhouse patrons stayed clear of him, mollified
by his visibly ailing condition. Tomorrow, he would be near Iuchi Shahai's
hideout. He drank some tea and then fell asleep. Dreaming. More voices.
"I think I better wait till tomorrow." But she was already there
inside his mind.
Nightmares intruded upon his sleep . The light of dawn
did not come soon enough he thought. He left the roadhouse in the morning
to search for Iuchi Shahai. When he arrived at her house after a days ride,
he was surprised to find it raised to the ground, black ashes everywhere,
as if consumed in some inferno. He questioned a few villagers nearby.
Kamoko has destroyed her they said. Now Kamoko herself carries the taint,
consumed by madness as well. What dark bargain had been struck? Apparently
she was headed to Volturnum, raising some sort of macabre army...
Hida Tokiwa mounted his horse and soon picked up the trail. Kamoko could
only be a days ride ahead of him. The path of darkness lay ahead.
The Traitor Within
There was known to be a traitor within Hida Kirin's court. The
Bloodspeakers were everywhere within the empire, spreading
thier corruption. Hida Tokiwa had been sent to search for the
Bloodspeaker Iuchi Shahai, as it was certain she knew the identity
of the traitor. But nothing had been heard of the missing Hida
Tokiwa for weeks.
Then news came of Iuchi Shahai's death, Kamoko herself being
implicated. The news was a shock to the Empire, the virtuous
Kamoko now tainted by the dark side. Perhaps Hida Tokiwa was
now in pursuit of Kamoko, to find some reason behind the madness
of the Bloodspeakers. In any event, the identity of the traitor
at Kirin court still remained a secret.
Lao Jisan, a revered Sensei at court, consulted Hida Kirin
on a plan to flush out the traitor. The master builder,
Kaiu Akihito, had finished the construction of a magical
tower within the city. The court would be invited to attend
the Jichinsai. This ritual ceremony was performed to calm
the spirit of earth when constructing a new building. Lao
Jisan reasoned that the traitorous Bloodspeaker would be
revealed by the spirit of earth during the ceremony. Surely
any contact with the purity of the elements would be like
poison to the Bloodspeaker.
And what of the suspects? Even Hida Tarahime, the princess,
might be the culprit. She was young and beautiful, but those
were her only good qualities. Pernicious, vain, and spoiled,
she went into a temper tantrum about having to attend the
Jichinsai. She hurled insults and a few vases across the room.
Maybe her reluctance to attend hid a deeper secret?
Her cousin, Hida Ami, was a scheming and jealous rival. The
attention that was showered on Hida Tarahime infuriated her
so much that she was soon consumed with envy and hatred.
Terrified residents of the city had recently seen the 'Hannya'
a female oni stalking the streets at night. Perhaps it was
Hida Ami's jealous spirit?
Ojiro Kunabe, a court advisor, wished to return to the Unicorn
lands, and made several excuses so as not to attend the Jichinsai
ceremony. Although a sound economist and policy maker, he was
secretive and unsocial. You could be around Ojiro for years
without ever really getting to know him. His conversations were dull,
and although well attired, he never stood out in a crowd. He was the
type of person you forget the name of ten seconds after being introduced.
The magical tower had been built for two shugenja. Twins in fact.
Kuni Sakura had been studying magic for years, learning to harness
the energy of the elements. Her twin sister, Kuni Shoko, was equally
skilled in the magic arts. They were often mistaken for one another
when seen alone. But what twisted magic were they up to? Upon
ascending the magic tower, the adventurers climbed one set of stone
steps after another. After climbing what seemed like a thousand steps
and taking almost all afternoon, they finally reached a heavy wooden
door at the top. Expecting to enter the twin's chamber, they stepped
through and the door shut quickly behind them. Surprised, they
gaped upwards at the tower, from the bottom where they had started!!
Kaiu Akihito was certainly not behind these strange magical energies.
He was very proud of his construction work, and was displeased with
the adventurer's tale, how dare they criticize his building?
He was equally displeased with Lao Jisan's meddling. "What if the
Earth spirit is angered?" he argued. " If the foundation cracks,
you will have destroyed my great work, Lao Jisan."
The Jichinsai ceremony proceeds the next morning despite the protests
and objections of the courtiers. The sun was rising, and a light autumn
frost covered the ground. A procession of Shinto priests set off from the
Jinja or shine, and head towards the newly constructed tower. The cowled
figures march through an early morning fog, chanting ritually as they go.
Upon reaching the tower, Kaiu Akihito bows and is presented with an Omamori,
which is a lucky charm. The Kanushi (Shinto priests) begin to chant loudly ,
and pray for the success of the building.
However, the spirit of Earth is angry at the presence of the Bloodspeaker.
Negative synergies split the earth. Electric blue light emanates, arcing
across the frosty ground. The earth shakes, and many are knocked to the ground.
The rest of the gathering flees in panic. Crackling blue energy envelopes
Before the Bloodspeaker bolts to escape, an Oni is conjured to delay
any pursuers. It is female in form, but otherwise quite grotesque. It lashes
out violently with blackened claws. The twin heads feature very nasty,
slavering jowls. The beast seems to have an enormous appetite.
After the adventurers deal with the Oni, the Bloodspeaker may attempt to cast
the Maho spell Black Wind from the Soul. Laughing madly, the Bloodspeaker
points a taloned hand towards the heroes. Always fatal, the Black Wind instead
rebounds off the swirling earth energies around the Bloodspeaker, consuming the
GM notes: Only the GM knows which of the above characters is
the traitorous Bloodspeaker. The identity of the Bloodspeaker
is revealed during the Jichinsai ceremony. The players having
discovered the most clues and correctly identifying the traitor
will gain a level of perception and/or intelligence. This scenario
is good for new characters to gain a few levels of experience,
before attemting a more dangerous combat-oriented adventure.
Player notes: How many times has your Samurai-ko character died?
You'll live a little longer with more experience. Try improving
your ring characteristics such as perception, intelligence, and
awareness. Know when to talk your way out of a conflict.
Reason with the Crane. Argue with the Crab. Use your imagination
before you use your sword.
Hiring an NPC (non-player character) as a yojimbo (bodyguard)
might be an option if your GM allows it, in combat-oriented adventures.
Pirates in Rokugan
It was said that when the last war ended, many Samurai found peace
unbearable. The rewards of prestige and high rank were gone now that their skills of
battle were of no more use. Thus when there was no war on land to occupy them, the young
fighting men of Rokugan found an outlet for their energies in piracy, which was now
thriving once again.
The early sea rovers of Rokugan soon earned a fearsome reputation. Much
of the coast was fortified to protect the shore from these raiders, but this only had the
effect of driving their profitable trade south. The wealth flowed back to some of the
outfitters and protectors in the Southern provinces, and even some of the great Hida
barons were enriched by the peculiar Wako blend of piracy and trade.
Around their strongholds grew prosperous cities that competed to attract
poets, scholars and artists throughout Rokugan. About this time an ancient gold mine was
rediscovered, and soon traders overseas also turned to piracy to intercept the cargoes
laden with gold.
Soon even Gaijin arrived in search of the fabled mines and riches of
Rokugan. Merchant traders brought even more wealth to the coastal ports, but the Samurai
were just as interested in their firearms, novel yet enormously effective.
It was soon discovered the pirate fleets of Rokugan were too lightly
armed to be of use against the massive carracks of the foreigners. Their cannons simply
sank any and all who opposed them. The supremacy of the pirates came to an abrupt end.
Rumours say the lost Dragonship not only escaped all those years ago, it
Japanese Firearms in the days of Feudal Japan.
On the island of Tanegashima in 1542, shipwrecked Portuguese introduced
the first firearms to Japan. The Ninja specialty developed by the Shimazu clan was that of
highly trained sharpshooters.The weapons were matchlock firearms such as the arquebus and
Much later Oda Nobunaga's army used massed volley arquebus fire at
Nagashino in 1575 to win a decisive victory. After the successful invasion of Iga , a
dramatic attempt was made on Nobunaga's own life by three ninja armed with large-calibre
arquebuses, or even possibly cannon.
By 1590, cannons were used on the high seas. Bristling with spiked metal
plates, the Korean turtleship featured rows of cannons protruding from its gunports. The
much larger Japanese invasion force was defeated by these floating fortresses.
Daimyo Rules For the RPG Part 1
A Samurai band was organized like an extended family with the leaders
being blood relatives.The immediate family were called 'ichimon', and branch families were
called 'ie no ko'. The clan leader was also the 'shoen owner', as his private rice lands
were called. Smaller landowners,typically non-kin Samurai called 'kenin', generally
enlarged the Daimyo's shoen to receive protection or in agreements made to defend their
territories. Private agreements were also made whereby tax paying landowners donated their
lands to a tax exempt shoen owner.
The 'shoen' or rice lands provide the wealth of the Daimyo and the
Samurai band. The Samurai's salary of rice was deposited in storehouses and distributed to
him in the second, fifth, and tenth months. The rice measure was called koku, one koku
(about 5 bushels) being the amount considered necessary to feed one man for one year.
Silver and gold coins were used to purchase wholesale goods,copper coins
for retail goods.Rice was also used as currency in a barter economy. In many cases the
Samurai would have to collect the rice personally but merchants could also act as rice
brokers.The Merchants would either deliver the rice to the Samurai or pay the equivalent
in coin and keep the rice.Merchants also offered loans to Samurai against his forthcoming
Obviously, the more land a Daimyo could conquer or control, the more
wealth he would have as the whole monetary system depended on land holdings and the amount
of rice or koku produced. If a rival could be deprived of his lands, he would have nothing
to pay his Samurai with.
These ideas should inspire you to create new adventures for a Daimyo
character in the RPG. You could explore his interactions within his clan, for example,he
might have a treacherous half brother conspiring against him. Maybe the nearby Merchant
town must be raided if his own rice harvest fails.Perhaps the rice harvest is plentiful
and a heroic Ronin band can be hired.
The above concepts are important because they define the Daimyo's
relationship to the land and his clan.
When deck building for L5R , cards should be chosen for your deck to
support at least two winning strategies. Regardless of the clan you play, victory can be
achieved by planned strategy.The ways are; honor gain , dishonor, combat, enlightenment ,
and the wall victory. There is also a Black Scroll victory condition. The major strategies
in turn are supported by aims such as; political control, dueling, destroying holdings or
provinces, and copying or destroying personalities.
These are the cards from Time of the Void and Scorpion Clan Coup that are
worth including in your deck.
Honor gaining: Oni no Pekkle costs three gold and bows to gain 1 honor.
Tell the Tale is a limited action that gains 1 honor. The Master Painter is a unique
retainer who bows to gain 3 honor. An Exhibition doubles the honor gain of holdings.
Dishonor: Dark Lord's Favor can dishonor a target personality as an open
action, cause a target player to discard as a limited action, or reduce force or honor
gains to zero. The Scorpion's Sting is a kolat political reaction that also reduces honor
gains to zero. The People's Champion stalls out honor decks at the last moment.
Combat: Wedge is a battle action that doubles a unit's force.
Unfortunately the unit is destroyed after the battle is over , so it is best used on
personalities such as Hida Amoro. Asahina Uojin gives a 2F/2C bonus to a Crane personality
as an open action. The inexperienced Hida Kisada provides lots of offense at 8F/4C. Mighty
Protection is a spell that saves your cards destroyed in combat. The Fair Voice of Lies is
an event that destroys all courtiers , diplomats, poets, and personalities with political
actions in play without having to resort to combat at all.
Dueling: Burning your Esssence is a key action for dueling decks. The Obi
of Protection prevents your personality from being challenged or ambushed. Strike without
Striking is an action that recycles your focus cards.
Enlightenment: Yodin experienced is useful for retrieving the rings.
Shioda is a zero cost personality who speeds up the ability of any stronghold if you have
at least one ring in play.
Province Denial: Use the spell Augery to get Desperate Measures or Evil
Feeds Upon Itself. Defenders of the Realm has become a useful way of negating these
province destroying events.
L5R Dark Journey Home
This new L5R CCG expansion concludes the Hidden Emperor storyline. Hiruma
Osuno is a 4F 5C Crab Clan Samurai who can bow to retrieve any terrain from the fate deck
and put it into play. River of the Last Stand is a Region that adds a 1F/1C bonus to all
Crab personalities at a province, but gives a -1F to Shadowlands adversaries.
There are three new Stronghold starters, and the Dark Path of Shadow
gives us the long awaited Ninja 'clan'. Personalities like Shosuro, Goju Adorai, and the
Ninja Infiltrator are a blast, and there is a Ninja Stronghold to bring them into play
early in each starter. Gold cost? What gold cost!
There are a many Ninja deck variants . Some
utilize dueling action cards, others a dishonor theme. An interesting variant uses Shosuro
Chian and Kuni Yori to deplete an opponents fate hand before attacking. In playtesting
this deck, it seems vulnerable to Crane honor runners, and the current 'Unipony' decks
develop a lot faster.
Onnotangu: Is it just me or is Hitomi scrappin'
with Gene Simmons from Kiss?
Dragon's Teeth Foil: A graphic illustration of why you
shouldn't let your kids play with lawn darts.
Yoritomo Sensei: He's prancing about with a thousand
stale farts trapped in his kimono. Mmm...smells like chrysanthemums.
Infantry Square: There's no infantry. There's no square.
Just a skeleton flyin' through the air... hey that rhymes, lets sing a song...
Mambo Number L5R:
A litle bit of Hirariko in my life
A little bit of Kamoko by my side
A little bit of Tsuko is all I need
A little bit of Hida O is all I see
A little bit of Kaede in the sun
A little bit of Kachiko all night long
A little bit of Tsanuri here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man
Mambo Number L5R!
Saying of the Week: Whaaaaaassup!!!! Nuttin. Just Chillin'.