L5R The Kharmic wheel turns
The time is 300 hundred years before the Clan wars and the second day of thunder. A large mobile force is approaching the empire. Not sure if it is an army, refugees or raiders, the Emperor alerts the Lion clan to prepare for war. The Scorpion clan is also told to investigate and warn about any threats. Lastly, the Crab are told to provide a large enough force to repel the invaders since they come from the direction that can only mean they must have passed through the Shadowlands.
It is the return of the long lost Kirin clan. Much changed and more foreign, the long lost clan is returning home. The state of the empire is peace and yet things are not all pleasant as they seem.
State of the Empire:
The Emperor has has been spending his winter courts in the Phoenix lands of late. This past winter court has revealed that he has taken to courting a young Samurai-ko named Kamoko. When not performing her duties as Yojimbo to the Master of Fire she is seen with the young emperor.
The newly returned Unicorn clan have sent word of their presence and reason for returning to the empire. Proof has been demanded by way of the mirror given to Shinjo. The Unicorn have sworn to present this mirror at the next Winter court and have been given permission to sent an envoy while they await the word of the emperor.
The Crab failed to stop the invaders due to having sent a large expedition into the Shadowlands to prevent the invaders from reaching the wall. The expeditionary force vanished taking 2/3 of the Crab armies with it. The youngest son of the Crab Daimyo (who also disappeared with the expedition) has taken the mantle of clan champion. Hida Toturi stands on the Wall determined to restore the honor of his clan and demanding the other clans send support to bolster his forces before it is too late.
The Crane clan worries. Doji Kachiko paces through Kyuden Doji as her tentative grasp on her cousin is slipping from her fingers. The emperor is in love with a Pheonix clan Samurai-ko. Unacceptable. Barbarians have returned of mixed blood and heritage claiming to descend from the Kirin and demanding acceptance. Unacceptable. Her attrition of the Lion clan’s forces over the years has made them so weak they lost to the barbarians on the battlefield. Unacceptable. Somehow she plans on fixing all these things and yet she worries as rumors of a hidden organization are reaching her ears through her mercantile network. Kolat is the word most often used and now her worries are getting worse.
The Dragon clan has not been seen in the courts in two generations and now suddenly envoys from the mountains have come out of the Mirumoto lands and are attending the courts throughout the empire. The most vocal of these envoys has been Yoritomo. He is called the Voice of the Dragon and what he says is believed to be the words of the Togashi Daimyo and clan champion.
The Lion took to the field when the crab failed to stop the barbarian invasion. The Lion took to the field to fight them as suggested by the Scorpion clan Daimyo. The Lion lost. Instead of committing seppuku as is traditional the Lion General refused and became Ronin along with most of his men. Blaming the loss on the Scorpion and Crab clans, he raids their lands taking province after province in the name of the Lion. Akodo yakamo will not rest until both clans have paid a penance for the Lion clans humiliation.
The Scorpion clan has lost its clan champion. Bayushi Todai was told by the emperor himself to commit sepukku for the Lion’s failure on the field of battle. His younger sister was forced to put aside her ambitions and become the new clan champion. In retaliation for this demand upon her she changed her name to Bayushi Hitomi and declared that the Scorpion would make up for its failures. With Soshi Kisada manipulating things as the true Underhand of the Emperor, faith in the power and might of the Bayushi has been questioned.
The Phoenix are rising. With the Emperor spending his winter courts in Phoenix lands and the courting of Shiba Kamoko it appears as if the Phoenix will have more political power soon. The first order of business will be to quell rumors of bloodspeakers rising up. The second will be to truly investigate the barbarians and purge them of any magic they may be bringing from foreign lands.
The truth of it all is the Kolat. They have brought the Kirin/Unicorn back to the empire in order to avert a catastrophe. The Emperor is about to marry a Kolat sleeper agent. Problem is this agent works for a cell that wishes to kill the emperor and start the end game too soon. Timing is not right and the Masters within the empire are fighting amongst themselves. One is seeking to cripple the Crane to prevent them from revealing the Kolat conspiracy.
The Players will each be asked to choose a clan. If there are only 3 or 4 players they may end up choosing 2 clans with the 8th clan being unaligned/minor clans or if the GM is willing Shadowlands. Then the game will be round robin from clan to clan with the Player who chose the clan in question being the leader of the group and all the other players being his supporting cast. There are enough schools within each clan to prevent any players from duplicating schools.
Each clan story will confront the personalities (spirits/souls) of those people who will one day dominate the empire during the second day of thunder. They are clashing now as they do every couple of generations as they are all locked in a kharmic wheel of conflict and destiny. Things have never been as close to right as they are when the Kirin/Unicorn return with the souls that had left the empire. Now that they have returned it is possible for the next day of Thunder. Togashi is not ready yet for this to happen. Behind the scenes he is manipulating things to ensure that those who will one day rise up and save the empire are not prevented from doing so. How can this be? If any of the souls reach enlightenment or fulfill the destiny set before them then they will escape the kharmic wheel and fail to be there on the second day of thunder. If they set of the second day of thunder too soon, fu-leng will usher in 1000 years of darkness. There are many ways to fail and few ways to succeed.
The campaign consists of 8 stories or mini-campaigns. Each takes place over several years but simultaneously. Meaning the players play the opening module of each clan in year 1 (the year the unicorn return to rokugan). Then there is a winter court interlude that moves the meta-plot forward. Once all clans are covered, the story moves to the next year and the next part of each clan’s storyline. The idea is to have 4 full years (though they may not necessarily be consecutive years) as the Gm will determine how much time passes in between stories. Keeping in tradition with the Asian storytelling model.
What is the Asian storytelling model? The story follows the four seasons. Opening is in Spring. Introduction of characters. Summer time introduces the main plot points and the interaction of the characters. Autumn introduces the main drama or problem to overcome. Winter finished the story and revels any post story plot points.
This means the first story of each clan introduces the PCs for that clan in year one. Most of the story will take place in the spring.
Story two will develop most of the drama for those characters and fallout of what took place in story one. It will take place in the second year during the summertime.
Story three will reveal plot twists and complications for the story lines and begin the draw down of the stories. It will take place during the autumn.
Story four will take place in the winter court. Unlike the previous three years, the PCs will now be allowed to choose their favorite character. IF it is a 3 or 4 man group they may be allowed to play two characters from amongst the clans they played. All chosen characters must be from different clans. The story takes place in the final winter court of the campaign. It is in this court that all the intrigues, story lines and plot twists come to their end.
After that, take a look at your wiki. There is some more helpful info there.