When the OA rules for d20 came out, I snapped them up — I’d always wanted to run a proper Oriental campaign back when Oriental Adventures came out for 1st edition AD&D, but the whole thing had never really gelled, and I was really psyched to do something with the new rules.
On the other hand, I really didn’t have time to mess around with writing out a whole new campaign in detail, so what I opted to do was the (slightly) less time-consuming solution of using “Living Rokugan” modules from the RPGA, coverting each of the ones I used from the original L5R rules into d20, while modifying each module to fit the “unifying story” at the same time.
The result is a bit more heavily influenced by Japanese themes than I’d originally envisioned (due to Rokugan’s setting), but on the whole it seems to work pretty well. The group consists of:
- Hiruma Gu – Gu is a Crab-clan berzerker-fighter who owes Menho his life and serves him most willingly as a yojimbo and manservant. (Gu was originally envisioned as a clone of Number Ten Ox from Bridge of Birds.)
- Shishiko – A cat hengeyokai (essentially a benign bakeneko) who was caught stealing Menho’s wakisashi by the samurai of Otosan Uchi. Menho saved her life by claiming that he had given Shishiko the wakisashi as a sign of her service to him. Shishiko functions as a sort of ‘eyes and ears’ for the samurai, as well as a sort of defacto eta.
- Kakita Mushiyamma – ‘Mushi’ is a female Crane duelist of the famed Kakita school who met Menho during his time in Otosan Uchi. She responded to his (unspoken) request for aid in the matter of his inheritance because she is (secretly) in love with Menho (something blatantly obvious to the ‘commoner’ members of the group, but utterly hidden from the upper class members).
- Kitsu Fenshen – a sodan-senzo (spirit talker) Shugenja-ko of the Lion clan. Fenshen’s alliegiance to Menho are still a mystery.
- Tycho – A young member of the Ise Zumi monks, Tycho enjoys relative immunity from social conventions as a member of the monastic class: he occaisionally travels with the group for a period of time to ‘enlighten himself’, then vanishes again with just as little warning as before.
For the sake of clarity, I’m summarizing the scenarios the group has played through so far.
* – Indicates one of the ‘quest’ missions.
What happened: The PC’s are called on by their friend/daimyo/master Shinjo Menho, oldest living son of a Khan of the Unicorn Clan to retrieve the ancestral blade of his forefathers from his father’s tomb (the council that rules since the Khan’s death won’t let him go in after it). – The Ghost-Khan is disgusted that his son doesn’t have the… steel to stand up to the council, and so will not relinquish the sword, which is the only way to claim the Khanate. He will only relinquish the sword when his son (and his son’s “puppets”) complete nine quests that mirror the trials the Khan himself had to go through before he claimed the Khanate himself.
Party level: 4
What happened: The Doji clan calls a tournament to name new Emerald Champions, and Menho has decided that this would be a good ‘test’ for he and his new companions. The PC’s discover a Maho-user among the contestants, and both Kitsu Fenshen and a Dragonfly named Tonbo Genso are named Emerald Magistrates.
Face of Fear [*]
What happened: From the south of the Crane lands, the PC’s journey to the Shadowlands to try to rescue a young-but-powerful Crane courtier’s friend, encountering a corrupted Unicorn samurai in the process and developing a healthy dislike of the Shadowlands.
Winter Court – Asahina [*]
Party level: 5
What happened: The PCs are invited to Winter Court in the Crane lands and end up (with Tonbo Genso) investigating the murder of a Scorpion courtier with any number of viable suspects (with the help/interferance of the Nezumi).
Time: Winter’s End
What happened: While traveling to Dragon lands, the PC’s are asked by a senior Emerald Magistrake (Kitsuki Yun) to help her find a missing Emerald Magistrate. In the process, they expose the treachery of a local daimyo who hates Dragonfly samurai.
Blackest Stone Beneath [*]
Time: Winter’s End
What happened: End-of-Winter Festival in Dragon lands. The PC?s reveal the treachery of the Daimyo?s son, who slew his mother several years ago to gain power that much sooner.
Legacy of the Dark One [*]
Party level: 6
What happened: Menho volunteers the group to defend the honor of a Phoenix samurai-ko accused of Maho. They expose a Maho cult, led by a former Phoenix Shugenja named Gidayu. [The party spends almost a month in this area following the investigation, during which time Kitsu studies with the monastery nearby and Gu is found by a Nezumi of the Odd-Eye clan who swears loyalty to him in thanks for the events surrounding the last Winter Court.]
People’s Expense [*]
What happened: The PC’s lay the troubled ghost of a peasant girl to rest and expose a treacherous samurai plotting revolt.
A Chance Meeting [*]
Party level: 7
What happened: The PC’s protect the Fox Clan from some of its own hidden shame, and deal with the Scorpion Clan trying to expose the same.
Ties the Bind [*]
What happened: Drawn to the City of Lies by Menho’s nightmarish visions, the PC’s are called on to investigate the death of a Crane coutier visiting Scorpion lands, revealing a Maho cult (and encountering the spirit of Gidayu again, who is now the Dark Oracle of Air). They leave the city feeling that somehow they were being used.
Falling Darkness [*]
Party level: 8
What happened: The PC’s help a Kuni witch-hunter pursue a body-hopping Maho-user named Yajindin as it/he moves north from Centipede lands to the Phoenix capital in search of secret lore.
Lies, Lies, Lies
Time: Early Autumn
What happened: A Sparrow-clan marriage to the Crane is complicated by the death of the bride in some sort of lover?s tryst. [Menho reveals a possible romance between himself and the Crane courtier the group met during Face of Fear. Despondent, Mushi drinks heavily during the wedding preparations and narrowly avoids embarassment and dishonor a several points during the investigation.]
Evil Feeds Upon Itself [*]
Party level: 9
What happened: The PC?s search for a missing Lion samurai, eventually discovering that he was killed by an Oni who holds a village in fearful thrall.