Posted by: markfender | August 31, 2011

Legend of the Five Rings – Session 4

Okay, this one’s kinda long and complicated. Strap in.

Doji Shizuka presented Kakita Takeshi with a painting of his triumphant duel over Daidoji Kyorai, but with blood over all the Crane figures in the picture. The warning was clear – the Crane are losing in court because they’re divided. Kakita Takeshi promised to help her recover the Crane’s rightful place in court.

Meanwhile, Bayushi Sumiko and Bayushi Shigeru visit the village to speak with Doji Beniha, the wife of Seppun Jinsei. Sumiko is going to be picking a new taisa for the Empress’ Guard and, as a gesture of goodwill, she would like Beniha’s help in choosing. Beniha sees this as an insult, and vows to destroy Sumiko’s choice. Isawa Toshi was able to narrow down who owned the strange swords he saw in the Void, as his two suspects were the Emperor and Bayushi Shigeru. But with Shigeru in the village and no presence of a strange sword on his person, he is forced to conclude the Emperor must possess the odd blade.

Tsuruchi Mori announces his nomination for the position of Empress’ Guard. As a Mantis who was imprisoned throughout the entirety of the Mantis Rebellion, he remains one of the very few untainted Mantis samurai. It is his goal to restore the honor to his Clan by winning the contest for the position.

Matsu Yoshino consults with Doji Shizuka about having his sister, Matsu Fumiyo, try out for the position. His idea is that having her take this position will place her in a position of high honor while also getting her out of the line of succession for the Matsu. Plus, she’ll be have access to the halls of power and be able to arrange a good match for himself. Doji Shizuka approves of the idea, so the next day Matsu Fumiyo announces that she would like to be the new taisa of the Empress’ Guard.

Kakita Takeshi receives a letter from Daidoji Zoushi, daimyo of the Daidoji family. In it, the daimyo requests that Kakita Takeshi become the new head of the Empress’ Guard. As the killer of the previous one, Daidoji Zoushi believes that he is the only logical choice. However, it’s highly irregular that a Daidoji daimyo demand such service from someone not part of his family. Concerned, Doji Shizuka and Kakita Takeshi travel to visit Doji Domotai, the Crane Clan Champion. She wants the position to remain within the Clan, as it is traditionally a Crane position. However, since Kakita Takeshi is not beholden to Daidoji Zoushi’s request, he does not have to comply. After all, Kakita Yuito, the Kakita daimyo, has yet to announce his own nomination, and he might be insulted if a Kakita is answering to a Daidoji. However, Daidoji Zoushi might take offense if Kakita Takeshi does not answer his call for service, and blame Doji Domotai on making him not fulfill the request. Domotai decides the best course of action is to have Takeshi accept the nomination, but then lose at the earliest opportunity. The Crane agree to this course of action, but Kakita Takeshi harbors his own secret thoughts that he is unable to willingly lose a challenge. During this conversation, it also comes out that Daidoji Zoushi is angry at Doji Domotai because she was forced to remove the Daidoji Harrier dojo and outlaw the Harriers during the Mantis Rebellion.

Bayushi Izuru, the epileptic one-armed Scorpion brother of the Empress and the Emerald Champion, talks with Soshi Kazuno. He tells her that he is going to be announcing his own nomination, as his father the Scorpion Clan Champion desires it of him. He asks her to keep an ear out for any plots against them as the Scorpion are currently ascending in power and not well-loved.

Isawa Toshi discovers a familiar presence in the Void – that of an insane heimen who escaped from torture in Unicorn lands. Apparently, he has banded together a group of ronin and is now committing acts of banditry across the Empire. His presence near Otosan Uichi concerns Isawa Toshi, who begins an investigation into where he might be and what exactly he is up to. He learns that the heimen seems to have a split personality – at times he practices almost-Scorpion tactics whereas other times he appears to be much more clandestine and sneaky (if you could possibly outsneak a Scorpion).

Kakita Takeshi announces his intention of becoming the new head of the Empress’ Guard. Bayushi Izuru does the same, where he is immediately laughed at by Matsu Fumiyo. He is, after all, epileptic and only has one-arm, how can he be expected to protect the Empress? His honor besmirched, he challenges Matsu Fumiyo to a duel. Kakita Takeshi and Doji Shizuka decide they’re going to help him and offer Takeshi’s sword arm in his duel. He questions this, announces that he’s fine and will beat Fumiyo without help, and that he will accept their help in some other manner. (To be honest, as a GM, this move confused me. Luckily, I could speak through the NPC mouthpiece who was also confused.)

The next day, Matsu Fumiyo duels against Izuru’s yojimbo, a ronin named Tokuma. Everyone has so far believed that Tokuma was a Crab, due to his harsh nature. However, Kakita Takeshi analyzed his dueling technique and realized that he was trained by the Crane. After the Assessment phase of the duel, Matsu Fumiyo bows and accepts her defeat. Izuru is just as capable as protecting the Empress as she is, at least as far as their honor is concerned. The Crane PCs speak with Doji Domotai again about their suspicions about Tokuma. She says that he was one of the last Daidoji Harriers to forsake the Crane after she was forced to remove them from the Clan. The Harriers and their underhanded techniques were discovered during the Mantis Rebellion and she was forced to disband them in order for her Clan to maintain their honor. (What the PCs seemed to miss in this exchange was that Kakita Takeshi was directly responsible for the discovery of the Harriers during the Rebellion.)

Moshi Ryoko, playing matchmaker for Matsu Yoshino, throws a few suggestions for marriage to him. Her choice is Yoritomo Sachina, the de facto Mantis representative to the Imperial Court. Sachina is actually the Emperor’s favorite musician and has been forced into a position of responsibility as being the only Mantis the Emperor trusts. Matsu Yoshino promises to investigate the marriage potential. Ryoko also talks with Tsuruchi Mori, who wants her support in his bid for the position in contention. After all, he is the only “blameless” Mantis in the entire Empire and it would do good for the Clan to have some honor restored to them.

Kakita Yuito and his wife Kakita Ruri arrive in court to nominate their choice for the taisa of the Empress’ Guard. Kakita Yuito nominates himself in a speech in which he accuses the Scorpion of conspiring against the Empire and the Crane. They took the position of Emerald Champion away from him, his by right. The Empress’ Guard should be Crane, as it has always been and this nomination of Bayushi Izuru is another affront. He also tells Kakita Takeshi to withdraw his nomination, something that Takeshi does humbly (Yuito technically has no control over him, but I think Takeshi’s player saw this as a way out without needing to fulfill Domotai’s request to lose).

Bayushi Izuru has some business outside the city, so he leaves for a few days. He asks Soshi Kazuno to keep tabs on the situation for him while he is away.

Meanwhile, Isawa Toshi has been investigating in the Imperial Libraries about the strange swords he keeps seeing in the Void. He finally narrows down exactly what they are – Bloodswords. He figures out that the Emperor bears the Bloodsword Passion and Doji Domotai bears the Bloodsword Judgement. (This ties a lot of pieces together, as it explains why the Emperor has repeatedly impregnated Crane maidens. It also explains how Domotai became Clan Champion as her father found about his wife’s dalliance with the Emperor. He slew her and then committed seppeku, placing his young daughter in the position of Clan Champion.) He takes his knowledge to Seppun Jinsei and explains exactly what is going on. Seppun Jinsei asks him if he is a Phoenix plot sent to destroy his family (Toshi accused Jinsei’s sister of practicing Maho last adventure), to which Toshi had no answer. Toshi may have finally figured out where the ronin band is, just in time to see Bayushi Izuru leaving their midst to return to Otosan Uichi.

(Doji Shuzuka’s player was complaining earlier that the Scorpion were winning because the Crane were divided. This adventure, in a rather complicated way, hopefully showed how and why they’re divided. We’ll see now if the PCs can piece them back together.)

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