I’m a week late in putting up this review, so I’m probably going to miss some things. I’ll try and recap to the best of my knowledge.
7th Contest: Etiquette, History and Law.
This was a “gear check” sort of challenge ensuring that would be samurai are either educated in the ways of etiquette, history and law or are naturally intelligent enough to act appropriately in these areas as adults. We had an Intelligence + Random Skill (from those above) check, TN 15. I think all but one of the players passed, however for the NPCs we decided randomly if they passed or not and our rolls made Samurai as whole look like uneducated idiots. Ahh well, this was not a “make or break” test. I had a pretty easy time. Mirumoto was asked why in Rokugan we burn the dead and with a History check he could tell the story of Iuchiban raising the dead. (Mirumoto Jo 4-3)
8th Contest: Weapons Training
This was a brief look at how quick and deadly skirmish fights are in L5R. We each used bokun or blunted weapons. And in every case but one, the first to swing won the match. I was faced with a Shugenja who made an effort but could not match Mirumoto’s speed. (Now 5-3 and feeling better)
9th Contest: Obstacle Course
Here is where things started getting interesting. There were several opportunities in the obstacle course to “accidentally” fall in a pit and get put way behind. The tests were a combination of Agility and Stamina with athletics. Jo did just fine, able to make almost all of the Stamina rolls (except the very last) and able to take enough raises on the Agility based checks to take a substantial lead. I thought I was doing pretty well, getting nine successes until Isawa Shingon, the Shugenga made of resilience powered through the course taking as many raises as he could on every Stamina roll. He easily won his match and would have had a record (14 total successes) if not for the Hida Wrestler who put his all into not only winning but doing so in the best time (15 success at the end I think). It was a fun match and the first time the Shugenja were able to use some of their magic in a contest. (Jo now 6-3 and starting to look at the prize again).
10th Contest: The infamous “hunt”
This contest was staged as a opportunity for the children to try a diverse use of their skills. Running, hunting, etc. It of course was actually a place for all manner of mis-deeds to take place. Having good relations with the Shugenja Yoritomo Ki I asked if he would join me on the hunt along with the Utaka battle maiden that Jo has been fancying. Somewhat surprisingly we were approached by the Asahina and asked if she could join (right in front of the Utaka, mind you). That was a tense but fun moment, and a decent display of horsemanship won the Utaka over. The other four players Kakita, Doji, Isawa and Sodano also formed a team and we rolled out.
For our part, Yoritiomo Ki is definitely surrounded by some wickedness. He was the one who discovered the corrupted Kami during the horsemanship contest and in our journey we found Moto Taban’s head alongside his horse, no body to be seen. Ki, who had been given a Nemurani that allowed him to speak with the Emerald Champion, summoned him (after a funny bit of “please tell me you’re not using this power of the Kami for help on your contest”). As we proceeded back to the Dojo the ronin Nobaru ran out of the woods claiming that the Samurai Usarichi was Maho, had killed Moto and animated his corpse. The story was true, provided you switch Nobaru and Usarichi. Luckily we figured out his deception before too much happened. Jo and Ki cut him down within moments and almost immediately, traveling on a gust of wind, the Kuni sailed in and smote his skeletal creation with jade fire. BAM! We found out from Nobaru that it was Kukojin that wanted not only to soil this championship but make the Crane look like they had cheated.
The other group was confronted by a different hostility, in some ways more terrifying. Tsurichi, the crab harrier had lost horribly throughout the contests and personally blamed Dojo Jotaru. He used the hunt as a chance to gain vengeance and without warning or honor sunk an arrow into Jotaru’s stomach, nearly killing him outright. The other three bravely protected him and when Tsurichi would not leave his vantage point shot him down. The fact that untouched by Maho or even Scorpion deception the crab would stoop so low was very unsettling feeling for all of us.
In a bit of generosity for our efforts to preserve the championship and because our groups got split up (half of our group made it before the other players, and the second half made it just after them) all 8 of us were awarded two points (Now 8-3 and a very serious contender).
11th and final contest: Iujitsu Duel!
The final event, the duel is in some ways the determining factor of who will win the Topaz Championship. Mirumoto was born and raised for this event. Although skilled in other areas, this is where he would really shine.
- First bout. Mirumoto faced a Shugenja, who after appraising his stance, bowed and forfeited the match. (10-3)
- Second bout. Mirumoto faced Isawa Jingon who also, after appraising his stance, bowed and forfeited. Mirumoto understood but could not help but feel disappointed that his skill would not be tested. (12-3)
- Third bout. Finally a challenge. Mirumoto faced off against Doji Sakura. Finally he would fight a Kakita. Knowing her reputation, and having been defeated twice (in Go and in Debate) he thought the duel would be the culmination of his training. He expected Doji Sakura to defeat him and bow before the Kakita school, vow to continue learning how to one day best them. But she choked, could not focus and Mirumoto struck first and true. Disappointed, Mirumoto won again (14-3).
- Fourth bout. The humble Sodano, who traveled a long way to the championship with Mirumoto now faced him in the final match. Having fared better in the championship than Jo, Sondano was positioned to win, save this last fight. Both combatants displayed incredible skill and focus but eventually Sodano could focus no longer and Mirumoto cut once more. Ending the bout and the championship, the new Topaz Champion. (16-3).
Well, winning doesn’t suck. I had built Jo to be a serious contender in the championship. He had all the necessary skills and is a fine warrior. After the first day I thought I lost it but was able to catch up and take it away. I was defiantly stoked about that.
Lots of continued intrigue. Kukojin, the crab harrier, a unicorn opium trader, and budding romances between several characters. I achieved many of my character’s goals for the championship (winning, bring food to my clan, meeting the Unicorn, dueling a Kakita, etc) and look forward to become a Sapphire Magistrate.
What could have been improved
By their nature single round elimination means some people get left out early. I could tell some of the other players were disappointed in the Iujitsu duel. The basic rule is the worst punishment you can ever give someone in a game is not being able to play. However, in the course of thing the match didn’t take much longer than any of the others and it was only of the 11 contests.
I felt a connection between several of the character (Yoritomo, Sodano, and Kakita) but two I couldn’t sink my hooks into (Doji and Isawa). I think as long as some of the other characters are well connected we’ll be fine, but I always have “party” anxiety as I have no desire to be put in the situation where two characters want nothing to do with each other and the game has no room for them to separate. So far this looks like it will be fine.