Legend of the Five Rings: Echoes

Session 1: Reunion
New friends with old souls
Songs of Rokugan
Echo on the Winds of Time
Unaware of Death

Session 1 was mostly character building. Several players, excited to make samurai characters, built theirs weeks ahead of time. Others waited until the first official game day. It was everyone’s first time dealing with the system, GM included, and while many commented that the system for 4th edition Legend of the Five Rings appears to be sweet, we were unhappy with the layout of the book (like, the only reference we could find for starting glory was in the example character).

Complaints aside, after hours of creation, we had our crew:

Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased)—An extremely uncouth samurai, even for a Crab.
Kitsune Toshiro—An unlucky duelist, and yojimbo to…
Kitsune Yamako—A talented Fox shugenja with unusual name and family ties.
Sanjuro (Deceased)—A wandering ronin of noble birth and nobler heart.
Sanjuro Sakura—A Utaku Battle Maiden, fresh from her gempukku, traveling the world before returning to her clan duties.

With little time to prepare a story tailored to these new characters, the samurai were put through the Legacy of Disaster Quickstart adventure, modified slightly to fit their backgrounds.

The session started with an odd, shared dream. All the characters were fighting together against one of their friends, a shugenja who fell to the Shadowlands Taint and summoned a powerful Oni Lord. Though they all fell, each played a vital role in bringing the evil down.

Then a scream cut through their dreams.

Before the second scream could rip through the night, the group was already converging on the sound. It turned out to be Toshiro’s lord, Doji Hakura (Deceased), a drunk, minor governor for a tiny Crane town. An ancient daisho, a gift from a much higher ranking imperial friend, had been stolen, and the scream was his cry of anguish, a stunning display of raw emotion that the group kindly chose to ignore, allowing the man to safe face. He immediately tasked the group with returning it.

Learning that the thief had fled the village heading west, they headed out of town, unafraid of traveling at night. Upon the road the came across a traveling witch hunter, Kuni Hachiro (Bound), who was tracking down criminals. They felt an odd kinship with the man, and he offered to travel with them for a ways.

They tracked the thief to a small forest on the Lion/Crane border, where the Kitsune shugenja communed with the chief spirit of the land, who told her a dark presence passed through recently, having frightened away his smaller cousins.

Through the woods and across the nearby border into Lion territory, they were stopped by a small patrol of Lion bushi. Suspicious of travelers at night, they patrol told the group travel to a nearby village to be questioned by the Lion’s lord. Takeshi, the honorable brute that he is, challenged the leader to a duel in order to pass unmolested.

Somehow, the Crab, untrained in the ways of Iaijutsu, defeated his lion foe, and won the right of continued passage.

Eventually, the group was set upon by a small gang of bandits, and after a brief, but deadly, struggle, emerged victorious. Several of the party was wounded, but thanks to Yamala’s knowledge of Water kami, and medicinal knowledge, they were soon set right.

Broken sword of the lionFinally, they came across the thief, a young imperial samurai tasked to steal the daisho, which she claimed was haunted by a dark spirit. Yamala confirmed this, having sorted as much out much sooner. Unfortunately, before they could stop her, the thief broke the katana’s blade. Her task done, she committed seppuku, though Sanjuro tried to talk her out of it. Toshiro volunteered to be her second.

However, it was not yet over. When her blood touched the shattered blade, the dark spirit rose from it, forming a blood-drinking gaki spirit. The touch was short, but fierce, with Sanjuro dealing the final blow.

The broken blade was returned to its rightful owner, though Hakuri was shocked to find it had been cursed. He was still glad for its return, and immediately set about having it reforged. To show his thanks, he invited each and every person (including Hida Takeshi and Sanjuro), to travel with him to a nearby Court, which promised to be very important and would be much talked about (and had food, which is all Sanjuro was concerned about).

View
Session 2: Fragile Peace
In the end, rage wins no wars.
Rage snuffs life’s candle.
Shards of peace, shattered like glass,
Reflect hope’s new light.

Session 1 covered many basics, especially combat. Session 2 dealt with court (ok, and a little combat).

The Echoes traveled to another small Crane village along the Lion border. Doji Akagi was hosting peace talks with the Lion clan at his small Court of Kimusu.
Kolat assassin
All was seemingly going well, when Ikoma Yojiro (Deceased) was brutally murdered. At first, Kitsune Toshiro was blamed, as he was one of the few samurai not accounted for at the time of Ikoma’s death. However, Kitsune Yamako, in a fit of anger revealed that Kakita had instead been alone in a room with Ineko (Deceased?).

Before Toshiro could be forced to commit Seppuku, the other Echoes discovered that the murder had instead been committed by Akodo Genzo (Deceased), who was livid at the thought of peace with the Cranes and slew his own lord to try to throw both clans into open war. To prove his innocence, he demanded a duel with the disgraced Toshiro. Unfortunately for him, Toshiro redeemed himself, and possibly averted war in a single, perfect stroke of his blade.

Note to all my players: If you create your own Adventure Log of this session from your character’s perspective, you can earn an additional experience point. Put your log in the comments for this one.

View
Session 3: Blood Moon Rising
Seeds of Darkness Take Root
The Seven Gather
Echoes Now Reunited
Evil Hides Unseen

After the Court of Kimusu, the group decided to travel East, to the coast. Fortunately, both Kitsune Yamako and Sanjuro Sakura were on their post-gempukku pilgrimage of the Empire, to learn the ways of the Samurai through experience. Sanjuro (Deceased) owed allegiance to no lord, and Kitsune Toshiro’s duty was to protect Yamala. Thus, they were currently able to forge their own path.Heimin laborers

Yamala desired to see her uncle and cousin in the Mantis Isles, and took the group to the tiny coastal town of Kishi Mura. On the road, they ran into Kuni Hachiro (Bound), Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased), and Sanjuro Keitaro (Deceased). The Crab were hunting down rumors of dark magic and witchcraft, while the young shugenja had decided on a whim to join them. The fact that he ran away from his handlers to do so would undoubtably come back to haunt the group.

As Takeshi and Keitaro joined the group, Yamala remembered her dream of the Seven Songs of Rokugan, and grew pale. She realized that one amongst their number was possibly a powerful sorcerer who had betrayed them in a previous life.

Worried thoughts aside, Yamala led the group into Kishi Mura. The peasants seperated, except for a small, angry man. Unknown to the Echoes and their companions, the man had recently lost a son to bandit attacks, and the local Crane samurai had not done anything about it. In his anger, he lashed out, throwing a rock that struck Kitsune Yamala on the cheek, drawing blood. Both the Crab Echo, Takeshi, and the Crane Echo, Toshiro, barred steel, ready to remove the man’s head, but Yamala immediately interposed.

After a heated discussion, the two samurai backed down to the Fox’s argument, and the old man’s wife, begging for his life, sobbed out the story of their missing son, and how many other villagers have been disappearing, only to reappear in a small band of raiders, attacking their own town.

AshigaruThe group unanimously decided to help the peasants deal with the bandits, and located the small camp northwest of Kishi Mura, the Battle Maiden, Sakura, scouting ahead.

Yamala and Keitaro called upon the kami for aid, the bushi using their blades or heavy weapons, and battle was joined. In the main command tent of the camp, they found a blood sorcerer, maho-tsukai, who was using witchcraft to control the peasants. He also had a trio of zombies, animated by pale porcelain masks. After a tough fight, the group managed to prevail, and return (most) of the peasants to their homes.

Returning to town, the peasants returned to thank their heroes. However, Toshiro still felt he needed to face the dishonor the old man had dealt Yamala. However, Sanjuro stepped in the way, refusing to allow the peasant to be hurt. The two faced off in an iaijutsu duel. Both samurai struck at the exact same moment, but only Sanjuro’s blade tasted blood. Toshiro stepped down, and the old man lived.

The session ended as a Mantis vessel was pulling into port. Yamala was pleased to see that it was her cousin Gayan at the helm of the vessel. Everyone gathered on board, and prepared to set sail for the Isles of Silk and Spice.

View
Session 4: Blood in the Water
The Mantis preys, the Scorpion hatches.
A shell starts to crack,
And the Echo grows louder
A Lord’s gift returned

Session 4 was a LONG session that started with the players on a boat! A lot of stuff happened this session, so I apologize for a long, rambling blog.

Kitsune Yamako’s cousin, Gayan met The Echoes—minus Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased) and Kuni Hachiro (Bound)—at the coastal village of Kishi Mura. It appeared the Fortunes were smiling upon the group, as Yamala was looking to travel to visit her family in the Mantis Isles.

ImagesThe visit was short, only a 3 day trip on Gayan’s ship, but during their journey they were attacked by an Orochi—a massive sea serpent. During the battle, it swallowed Sanjuro (Deceased) whole, and would have crushed the ship in half if The Echoes hadn’t intervened. Yamala noticed it bore a spiritual wound infected with the Taint of Jigoku, causing it horrible pain and driving it mad.

The spirit-beast was beaten down by the samurai and sailors aboard Gayan’s ship, and as it slipped off the ship, beneath the waves, Yamala reached out to the kami of Earth and called on their aid to cleanse the Orochi. While not completely removing the Taint, it allowed the powerful creature to heal some of its own wounds. It regurgitated the ronin, somewhat soggy and bruised, and the group was able to continue on their path.

The group arrived at the Isles of Spice and Silk, in the main port of Yamala’s uncle—and Gayan’s father— Kousei. While the group traveled to Kousei’s palace, Sanjuro Sakura took her horse for a quick run-around. He had been cooped up below decks for 3 days, and the Unicorn Battle Maiden wanted to let him stretch his legs a bit. While on the road, she ran into a pair of Mantis samurai attempting to arrest a man with his little sister, claiming he was a war-criminal and warlord. Sakura scared them away, though the man was brusque with her when he found out she was visiting the local Mantis Lord.

Colonial harborUpon return, she realized she had just rescued a rebel who was leading a peasant revolt against Kousei and the Mantis in the area. Kousei was upset, but forgave her since she was young and didn’t know of the politics in the region. Though the Mantis lord told them there was no reasoning with the man, a ronin named Jiyu (Deceased… again), Sanjuro offered to help, claiming that a ronin would have better luck with the rebel than a samurai.

Before he could go, the Mantis guards in the palace began running to the library. While attempting to research the history of The Songs of Rokugan, Yamala was attacked by a tainted assassin. Luckily, her yojimbo Kitsune Toshiro was present, and with his steel and her magic, the dishonored man was laid low. Kousei immediately doubled the guard in his palace.

The next day, Sanjuro traveled to where he had heard that Jiyu’s forces were gathered. When he met the ronin general, it quickly became clear that the young man’s hatred for the Mantis would overcome any reason or argument. Sanjuro to the surprisingly quick conclusion that Jiyu needed to die. If the revolutionary was gone, Sanjuro figured, then the peasants under him had a chance at survival. However, the Echo wisely kept his mouth shut to all but Kousei. The Mantis Lord showed regret that the man had to die, but told Sanjuro, “I’m glad there are men out there willing to risk their Honor to do what is right.”

During their stay, Yamala spoke with her uncle about the events that had transpired, including that Toshiro’s lord, Doji Hakura (Deceased), was a wicked man who tortured criminals and peasants unnecessarily. Kousei assured her he would do something about it.

53008779After a week of study at her Uncle’s library, Yamala had what she had come for, and Gayan taxied the Echoes across the sea and to the Fox lands. From there, they traveled north to Toshiro’s village, under command of Lord Hakura. Toshiro’s lord was upset, and the Echoes soon discovered that Hakura’s own lord—Toshiro’s father—was removing Toshiro from the minor daimyo’s command soon. Hakura planned on forcing Toshiro into dishonor before returning him to his father. He never had his chance, however.

While Toshiro was out of the village, a mysterious assassin struck, slaughtering all the samurai in the village, and murdering Hakura. Toshiro is now lordless, and how his father is going to react to this, is something that the young samurai dreads.

Session 4 was huge for everyone. The line used to describe this session was, “Well, THAT escalated quickly.”

View
Session 5: Echo Chamber
In which the Echoes bounce all over the damn place.
The Echoes fragment,
And spread across the Empire.
Truths learned, shared, and changed.

Session 5 was a long-awaited return. After a break of almost a month to do factors outside the group’s control, we finally gathered together (minus a player, but we were still going to play damnit!). It was mostly getting back into the swing of things, because we ended Session 4 with great momentum but now we had to regain it. And regain it we did!

Session 5 picked up the morning after the events of Blood in the Water. An emerald magistrate and friend to the Echoes, Kitsuki Hiro arrived, using his peculiar method of evidence-gathering. Yamala spoke to the kami of the area, Sanjuro (Deceased) questioned local peasants, and Toshiro offered what assistance he could. Sakura (whose player was absent) decided to travel north to answer her mother’s summons.
Goju house guard

Both Toshiro and Sanjuro discovered that a strange man in a brown kimono had entered town. They pressed the local peasants for more details, but every one told the two samurai that not a single detail of the man’s face could be clearly recalled. It was suspected that air kami had helped mask the man’s features.

Yamala, on the other hand, discovered more than she bargained for. Speaking with a water kami in a small basin in the dead lord‘s chambers, Yamala saw a vision of non other than her friend Sanjuro sneaking in and dealing the death blow to Toshiro’s late master.

Not willing to deal with the issue at the time, Yamala gathered her belongings and on the next morning fled through Chikushudo (the Spirit Realm of Animals) back to her family’s lands in the south.

Meanwhile, not knowing where their friend had gone (and Toshiro still unaware of Sanjuro’s role in the death of his lord), the two remaining Echoes headed north, where they knew Sakura to have gone. Along the way they found Sanjuro’s ronin pal, Kuno (Deceased).

Upon reaching the Unicorn lands, Toshiro found that his father was already there, with his younger sister, Hinata. The Crane Echo learned that his sister was to be married to the uncouth Unicorn who had plagued Sakura previously—Hong (Deceased). That wasn’t the most shocking news, however. Lord Katashi also insisted that Toshiro find his lord’s murderer himself, and bring him to justice by Winter Court or, to protect the family’s honor, perform the three cuts.

Meanwhile, in Fox lands, Yamala had told her family of what had befallen the foul Crane lord Hakura, and spoke to her father of an interest in marrying her friend, the Crane Echo Toshiro. While doubtful that he could sway the young man’s father, he wrote a letter, sending it north to the Unicorn lands where Yamala knew the man to be staying, She also convinced the young shugenja Keitaro to write a letter to his people, letting them know he was safe and had chosen to run away to see the world.

Within a week Yamala decided to return to her friends, again taking shortcuts through the Realm of Animals to speed her journey. Upon reaching Unicorn lands, she was shocked to discover that her father’s letter had beaten her there, and that Toshiro had somehow—against all odds—convincedImages his father to approve of the marriage. She also learned of Toshiro’s problem—bring in his lord’s killer (Sanjuro), or be forced into seppuku. She spoke with Sanjuro, who said he was attempting to find someone to take the fall.

The session ended with a play by the great Doji Hakai (MIA), who pulled members of the audience on stage (the Echoes) to perform an epic tale of the hero Sanji, who had protected a village of peasants—and his true love—from being terrorized by a vicious lord. The tale was oddly similar to the events of Blood Moon Rising.

Afterwards, Sanjuro learns an odd secret about his friend, Kuno.

View
Session 6: Gathering Storms
Darkness gathers, and Honor pulls the Echoes in a hundred different directions...
As the storm gathers,
Honor shackles the Echoes.
Their foe, not so bound.

This session picked up with a little backtracking, getting Sanjuro Sakura‘s player caught up on what happened last week, and passing Sakura’s mysterious “Cold of Absence,” which kept her out of last session, to Kitsune Toshiro (his player was out and about). This episode also saw the return of Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased), whose player’s work shift has allowed him to return to us!

Gathering Storms started with Sakura’s mother, Utaku Rumiko asking her about her various suitors. Rumiko is a proud, strong woman, who is not about to force marriage upon her only daughter, but did express the values of the various political connections that could be forged with such connections. Sakura let her mother know she did not feel ready for marriage.

Hida Takeshi also returned, with the magistrate Kuni Hachiro (Bound), who spoke with Kitsune Yamako about their possible kharmic connection. The Fox shugenja explained her theory about the The Songs of Rokugan and The Echoes, with which Kuni agreed.

While working in the stables, Sanjuro (Deceased) and Sakura were approached by several of the young Unicorn’s suitors, including Gayan, and a young Lion samurai.

After small pleasantries, Sanjuro decided to seek out Toshiro’s younger sister, Hinata. Her recent engagement to the lout Hong (Deceased) could not be easy for her, the ronin figured, and wanted to help her relieve stress with some practice dueling. However, it did not go well for the Echo, when the young Crane’s father, Kakita Katashi, arrived, and berated the man for teaching a lady how to fight. The ronin couldn’t help but open his mouth, and soon found himself challenged to a duel with one of the few legendary Kenshinzen.

The duel drew a large crowd as everyone came expecting to see a master duelist (the Kakita Lord) in action. To everyone’s surprise (including the group’s… damned dice) Sanjuro, a ronin, Shosuro hirobumi in a dueldefeated the master duelist, a sliver of red appearing on the Kakita’ Lord, his own blade stopping millimeters from Sanjuro’s throat when he was beaten. Katashi turned and stalked back to his estates in disgrace.

The rest of the Echoes (minus the ill Toshiro), went to the local sake-house to celebrate Sanjuro’s unlikely victory. Sanjuro’s ronin friend, Kuno (Deceased) was oddly quiet, and when confronted, he said he was just remembering family. In the morning, the ronin had departed Unicorn lands.

After the sake-house, the Echoes staggered back to their guest rooms, though Sakura was interrupted by her cousin Ide Ruko, who told her of a possible revolt building against her mother’s lord. He offered her a solution, and then bid her good night.

Unfortunately, the Echoes weren’t allowed to sleep off their drink. They were assaulted by a group of tainted assassins, similar to the one faced on the Mantis isles weeks before. After the shadowlands threat was dealt with, the group was finally able to rest. But it was short lived.

In the morning, they were all invited to the small Crane guest estates. Upon arrival, they saw Lord Katashi dressed in funeral garb, with his son, Toshiro, behind him. They had arrived to witness the Crane’s seppuku…

And we ended it here. We needed Toshiro’s player here for what was about to happen, but I feel it was a good cliff-hanger.

View
Session 6.5: Harem Time!
In which Sakura can't figure out what to wear...
Cherry blossom clings
Tightly to the tiny branch,
Afraid of the fall.

Session 6.5 was hastily thrown together on a night we don’t typically play L5R. As such, it was kind of rambly, and I feel I handled a few things a bit sloppily. We’ve focused so much on weird little political things lately, that I HOPE the next session is some good ol’ down and dirty monster slaying.

We started off immediately where Session 6 left off. The Echoes walked in on Kitsune Toshiro and his father preparing for what they thought was the Crane Lord’s seppuku. Instead they discovered Toshiro’s cousin Kakita Noboru (Deceased) had been killed in a scouting mission. After the funeral, the Echoes went their separate ways.

Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased) chaperoned Sakura and her Lion suitor, Akodo Honzo, on their ride through the prairie. The Lion seemed to make a better impression on the battle-hardened Crab than the woman he was hoping to woo. However, she appreciated his gift, a masterfully crafted hunting bow, which she immediately used to bring down a stag for the evening dinner.

Toshiro pulled Sanjuro (Deceased) aside to speak with him about his little sister Hinata, who has taken to hero worship of the ronin. Sanjuro is all she dreams to, a strong, compassionate warrior free to make his own choices. The fact that the ronin defeated her father in an iaijutsu duel hasn’t helped her infatuation. Afterwards, Sanjuro enjoyed the company of a geisha, who—unknownst to him—was actually Hinata in disguise.

Yamala spent the morning praying at an altar to Hotei, the Fortune of Happiness, who seems to forsake her at every turn. It was here that Toshiro found her, and the two took a pleasant horse ride to discuss their upcoming engagement. On the trip, the Fox shugenja saw signs of a spirit scar.

During the rest of the day, Sakura-chan found herself beset by suitors, each asking her what kimono she would wear to the upcoming lantern festival, so they could match her.

The next morning, while everyone got ready for the festival, Yamala snuck off (surprise!) to deal with the spiritual wound in the world. She was forced to slay a tainted stag, and found that she could not close the scar on her own, so returned to her fellow Echoes.

Everyone enjoyed the festival, with Sanjuro and Hida winning prizes for nearby children and Toshiro winning a beautiful Unicorn quiver in an archery competition. As the sun set, however, screams ruined the festivities.

An oni had attacked.

The Echoes leapt to everyone’s defense, and quickly struck down the demon.

It split into two smaller demons.

And so the battle raged, until the oni’s spawn, the size of a small children, could no longer split. A few heated words from a Crane samurai, Noboru’s brother Kakita Itachi (Deceased), and another duel was to take place. Unfortunately, the Crane was still injured from the fight, and fell to Hida’s blade. Toshiro had lost both his cousins in the same week.

This concluded the session, which, like I said was pretty rambly. However, the group now gets to figure out who summoned the oni, how to heal the spirit scar, and not forget that one of their number has to find a murderer or kill himself.

View
Session 7: Triumph
True heroes move mountains...
Wherever they tread,
the Echoes bring hope, fear, change.
Who knows what the future shall bring?

Session 7 was one of the most intense games I’ve ever run, much less played in. It began simply enough, but as the tension grew, characters really began to shine, until it ended in a choice that was at once both out of left field, and completely in character. In fact, it was so dramatic, I felt it appropriate to break the session haiku at the end. Enjoy.

The session started simply enough. Yamala gathered all the Echoes (minus Sanjuro Keitaro (Deceased) and Kuni Hachiro (Bound)) on a small hill overlooking the beautiful Unicorn prairies. There, she shared with them her thoughts on the Songs of Rokugan, and how they each were the reincarnation of one of the legendary magistrates from 300 years ago.

Her lecture was punctuated with a sudden appearance of The Gardener, a simple monk named Teien who had subtly aided and advised each Echo at some time in the past. He confirmed her suspicions, and helped each in the party connect with their previous incarnation in a simple spirit journey.
Eighth legion

Each awoke in the body of their Song. The ronin Sanjuro was now the beautiful Bayushi Ai, leader of the Songs. Kitsune Toshiro was now Akodo Mitsusho, Sanjuro Sakura became the powerful, one-eyed Moto Khan, Yamala became the fox-spirit Utsukushi, and Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased) didn’t change much—his Song, Hiruma Do looked and acted exactly like his reincarnation.

Together, the Songs discovered one of the Spirit Scars, and defeated a vicious shadow oni, and a powerful Maho-Tsukai. After the battle, they closed the Scar, and when the Echoes awoke, Yamala had the knowledge of how to close the rifts from Jigoku.

With the Scar taken care of, Toshiro returned to the town, having spotted his uncle’s entourage (as well as other Crane) arriving. Unfortunately, his uncle had already been given the news about both his sons, and was in no shape to receive visitors. Instead, Toshiro’s father Katashi told him to prepare for Sanjuro Hinata’s gempukku ceremony, which would be held the following day, so she could be married to Hong (Deceased) the day after.

It was obvious Hinata did not wish to marry the Unicorn samurai, Hong. She confessed this again to Toshiro, and fell into his arms crying. She expressed her desire to marry someone more honorable and heroic… someone like Sanjuro. At this point, Toshiro put two and two together, and figured out his sister had slept with his brother in arms. To avoid murdering his friend, Toshiro took a walk outside of the city.

Once he returned, calmer, he happened across his sister’s fiancé, bragging loudly in a sake house. Yamala convinced him to enter, and she began to subtly goad the large samurai into offering insult to the Crane and his friends and family.

Toshiro went quickly to his lord and father, Katashi, and requested permission to duel the insulting Shinjo Hong. He was refused and reprimanded. Katashi needed Hong’s horses in trade for Hinata to help him against the war he was sure was coming with the Lion clan.

Ok, people. This part coming up is what gave everyone the OMG moment.

However, after his daughter’s successful gempukku, he was in a slightly better (read: drunk) mood. This was when Katashi said something that clicked with Yamala and changed history. The Crane lord turned to Sanjuro, mentioning his wish that if only a skilled and honorable warrior like the ronin were with a clan, he would have other choices. A duelist who could defeat a Kenshinzen was worth more than several herds of horses.

Then the Fox opened her mouth. The words came out, suggesting that, hey, Sanjuro could become a Crane.

Katashi was taken aback by such an audacious request, but the more he mulled it over, the more he liked it. Sanjuro had proven himself a master of the blade, more so than many Crane. So he put the question to the ronin. Could Sanjuro put aside his freedom, his most valued asset, and join with the Crane to marry his daughter and serve under him?

The ronin agreed.
739050786 1375674
The world froze for a beat, then resumed turning. Toshiro forgot himself and kissed Yamala in public, Sanjuro ran to tell Hinata, and even the stern Lord Katashi smiled. Then he turned to his son and asked him if someone had recently insulted his family. The young duelist smiled and sought out Hong. And readily defeated him. The unicorn was now short one eye.

The following day was a whirlwind. Sanjuro was rushed through a gempukku before a wedding that bound him to Toshiro as family.

View
Session 8: Truth and Lies
...and another damn wedding!
With Honor restored,
two Echoes find Happiness.
But lies stain the love.

Session 8 had a few minor moments of importance, and one explosive big one. A player has dodged a big bullet… for now.

The Session started with everyone off training and dealing with down time .

While in Crab lands, Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased) was approached by none other than the Crab Champion, Hida Kisada, the Bear. The Lord of the Crab told Takeshi that he had heard of his situation, and that he was the reincarnation of one of the Lord’s personal heroes, the Song Hiruma Do. From the Bear, Takeshi learned of the location of his previous incarnations personal weapon, a powerful nemuranai Hida’s Judgment. He immediately sent letters to his allies.Heavenly tetsubo of the crab

So, he led the Songs into the Shadowlands themselves, to the remains of Hiruma Kyuden, the lost fortress of the Hiruma family. Within the tombs, where the weapon was stowed, they ran across the shadow demon known as Kage-no-Oni battling The Faceless Man (Deceased?). The room looked like a Maho ritual had just taken place.

Without hesitation, Toshiro cut the Faceless Man—wrestling with the shadow demon—down. As he died, the servant of the Nothing showed Toshiro the true face of his lord’s killer—Sanjuro’s, adding that Yamala had known as well.

Unfortunately, he could not turn and face his friends just yet, as they had a demon to defeat. The problem was, the creature was not hurt by mundane weapons. Yamala’s spells still worked, and for some strange reason Sanjuro’s blade damaged the creature, but nothing else worked.

Leaping across the battle, Takeshi snatched up the tetsubo of his ancestor, and golden light exploded through the room. With Yamala’s spells, Sanjuro’s blade and Takeshi’s tetsubo, the demon was quickly defeated.

Toshiro was oddly quiet the entire trip back to the Empire, but once clear of the Shadowlands rounded on Sanjuro and Yamala and demanded the truth. Both lied (or omitted truths), causing conflict within the Crane samurai. One one hand, he trusted his friends implicitly; on the other, the Faceless Man’s words rung with truth.

Eventually, however, the group made it back to Crane lands, to present Lord Katashi with the Faceless Man’s head clearing—in Katashi and his son’s minds—Toshiro’s Honor. In a few weeks time a wedding was held, officially binding the Fox and Crane Clan’s.

Yamala is Yamala no longer. Now she is Kakita Yamako, leaving behind a piece of her Fox, and Mantis connections both, behind.

View
Session 9: Conflict of Interests
Evil grows nearer
But which is more important
Honor or Empire?

I apologize to Hida-san’s player. I was fumbling with my smartphone and accidentally deleted his masterful comment below. That being said, this session was a bit more relaxed on the player vs. player intrigue—a bit. I’ve seen a few players have been overloaded with all the drama (completely my fault), so I’m working them towards some fun hack’n’slash of the Spirit Scars and their tainted guardians. But first, they had one dilemma to overcome…

We started the session out with dreams. Everyone had their own, and if they wish to share, it can be in their comments. However, all their individual dreams melded together into one massive shared nightmare. They stood in the center of the Empire, able to see into all corners, watching while the Spirit Scars bled their taint into the world. They caught glimpses of the twisted guardians standing sentinel over each rift of darkness. And they were forced to watch, helpless, as one of their own friends, though they knew not which, freed another dark soul from Jigoku, causing another Scar to appear.
Takaharu
When they awoke, Sanjuro was surprised to see a man wrapped in black leaping down from the ceiling, knife slashing for the Crane’s throat. After a brief skirmish, which Sanjuro’s wife ended with a thrust of her spear, everything calmed down—until the morning.

First, the Echoes spoke with Teien about their dreams, and Yamako even studied maps and histories of the places she had seen—and discovered that a nearby Spirit Scar was located in Crane lands. They agreed they needed to leave, and quickly, to deal with this menace.

But then, they were summoned by Lord Katashi, who told them that he had tasks for them. His son Toshiro was told he would be leading men into battle, and was to head away to train with the military. Sanjuro was told to head the opposite direction to train with the Crane’s elite scouts. Takeshi and Sakura were both permitted to stay in the Crane city as long as they wished, as honored guests.

Yamako tried to convince the Daimyo that they had a kharmic duty, as the Songs reborn, to stop this evil, but Katashi only thought they were children’s stories. Besides, he said, they were all needed to help strengthen the Crane in the inevitable war with the Lion that was on the horizon. Even the great Hida Takeshi tried to convince the lord, but Katashi only scoffed. Something within the Crab snapped, and he threw the Crane lord to the ground. Others came running, and Takeshi fought against them like a mad man. Eventually he was disarmed, literally, by his friend Toshiro, who removed the Crab’s hand from his wrist. Thankfully, Yamako was there and was able to convince the kami to reattach the limb to the now unconscious warrior. But not before she discovered a secret about Takeshi’s new tetsubo.

It was cursed. Kukanchi no kansen

The heroes had retrieved the artifact after a dark ritual had been placed on it (by none other than the reincarnation of Isawa Kage). A kansen—a twisted spirit of the Shadowlands—had been bound to the weapon, and though Yamako was able to bind it so it would not influence Takeshi any further, she was not able to rid the weapon of its Taint. The little monk known as The Gardener, had ideas, however. He knew of a prayer to force the kensen out of the tetsubo, where Takeshi could physically duel the creature itself.

So a small arena was set up, with Yamako herself taking precautions to keep the kansen from escaping, and Takeshi was released from custody to fight the being.

The fight was deadly. The fight was short.

After receiving numerous injuries himself, the Crab was at last victorious. But unfortunately, though he forgave the Echo for shoving him, Lord Katashi still did not believe the “nonsense” of the Spirit Scars. But he did have respect for these people, and offered them a chance. He admitted that if he had the resources of a small town on the Crane/Lion border, he would not need Sanjuro and Toshiro to lead his men. So, a small group was sent to deal with the issue.

Before that could happen, however, the group noted the absence of Sakura, who had taken a ride on Tamoki without telling the others. While she was out, she was accosted by three maho-tsukai, who were young Crane ladies. Though she eventually was freed, Sakura learned that they all served a “mistress” who was after Yamako for an unknown reason. But, the group was at last ready to deal with the Lion/Crane village.

Unfortunately, though not present themselves, the Lion had hired a small mercenary force of ronin to protect the village. These ronin were led by Sanjuro’s father, Tatsuya. Love stayed Sanjuro’s blade, and he instead showed himself. He admitted to Tatsuya the reason he was there, and brought the ronin out to speak with Toshiro.

A deal was struck. Now they had only to wait on the response from Kakita Katashi…

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.