[L5R – Never a Dull Blade] Actual Play 3: Goodbye Gonta, Hello Ikoma

Posted: September 25, 2011 by pointyman2000 in Actual Play, Articles, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games

Yesterday’s game was admittedly one where I had some slight pacing issues, but I hope that my players still enjoyed the game.  Picking up from where we last left off, this time from the point of view of Akodo Kenji, who was left behind to deal with things while the other members of the team left the city in order to make their report to Akodo Ginawa.

Kenji, left to his own devices, began his operation as one trained in the school of the Lion’s Shadow was trained to.  He effected a disguise as a down-on-his luck Kasuga bushi and applied for work in the Three Leaves Merchant House, just to make sure that he could keep tabs on Gonta.  He spent a day working there, regaling the other dockworkers of his desperate need for funds as he was far from home, and needed the money.  Eventually, such talk got the attention for the foreman, who asked Kenji to report in later that day to the estate of the owner of the Three Leaves.

Kenji arrived as instructed, and was brought to the presence of an old, matronly woman who introduced herself as Shigure, who offered him a job in exchange for silence, and efficiency.  Kenji accepted the offer, taking the money and asking for more details, he was then given information that he was to escort a special delivery out of the city, and was to meet up with some of her men by the Western Gate of the city that evening.  Suspicious that this might be a means to smuggle Gonta out of the city, Kenji then left to find Matsu Jin.

Kenji informed Jin to be on the lookout of such a delivery that evening, dropping hints that it was possibly something related to the murder of his sister.  With that particular part of his plan fulfilled, Kenji then resumed his Kasuga disguise and went to the meeting place that evening.  He found a rather odd palanquin, without windows, and made in such a way that it required four men as opposed to two to carry, so it didn’t seem to be a passenger-carrying type.  The Three Leaves Ronin who met him there told hi that they ought to get going, and the party had only been on the road a bit before Matsu Jin confronted them, demanding to inspect the palanquin.

The Ronin acquiesced, opening the side of the palanquin to pull out a sack of grain, cutting it open to show that it was full of highest-quality rice, claiming that it was a special delivery that had to be made overnight to a special customer.  Kenji knew something was off, and continued to goad Jin, dropping subtle insults (as he was disguised as a Kasuga) to enrage the Matsu Berserker. With things growing steadily out of hand, the other handlers tried to carry on, but Kenji fired an arrow to scare one of the handlers, forcing him to drop his corner of the palanquin, and a cry of surprise came out from the Palanquin.

Gonta staggered out, looking slightly dazed, even as Jin flew into a rage, attacking the Three Leaves Ronin.  Kenji on his part told Gonta to run for his life.  Gonta turned to run, but sadly Jin was very skilled, as the Ronin died in just about two turns.  Jin then proceeded to catch up on a panting and obviously unathletic Gonta, who pleaded for his life.  Kenji waited for the blubbering Merchant’s son to finally confess, admitting to having Michiko defiled and killed, before Jin slew him on the spot.

Kenij took that particular moment as his cue to leave, and faded into the shadows, satisfied that Jin’s honor would be sufficient as testimony to Gonta’s guilt.

Two weeks later the other members of the team arrived, Akodo Ginawa in tow, to confront the hapless Akodo Isamu.  To prevent Isamu from leaving, Kenji appeared in Isamu’s court, offering to serve as a vassal of sorts, insuring that Isamu could not conduct any clandestine business with an Ikoma Bard as witness to his every act.

Ginawa spared no time in confronting Isamu with the testimony of the team, regarding his dealings with the Three Leaves Merchant House, as well as his willingness to ignore the murder of a samurai by peasants for the sake of money and control.  Isamu begged for the right to commit seppuku, but Matsu Broly spoke in defiance, claiming that Isamu had not given Michiko any means to join the ancestors, and thus should not be allowed to do so himself.  Ginawa agreed, and denied Isamu’s seppuku, but in turn asked Broly if the Deathseekers would be willing to take one such as Isamu in their ranks.

Broly replied that there was but one way to know for certain, and challenged Isamu to a duel.  The duel was brief, with Broly ignoring the first hit form Isamu’s strike and knocking the corrupt daimyo down in a single strike.  Broly then turned to Ginawa and spoke that he still has some measure of courage, and was willing enough to face death in a duel, and therefore could still be of some decent use to the Deathseekers.  Ginawa agreed with this wisdom, and assigned Isamu to join the Deathseeker company where Matsu Jin was assigned.

The team was congratulated for their efforts, and while there was much cleaning up to do, the samurai were lauded for their efforts and success, earning them a peculiar invitation in the Summer months… to Kyuden Ikoma.

The game picks up in the midst of the Bon Festival, a holy event observed across all of Rokugan in reverence to a time when the Ancestors were believed to visit their descendants, and those ancestors who were lost could be ushered to the afterlife.  The team were there to celebrate the occasion, as well as to participate in the many events that would take place during the week-long celebrations.

Kitsu Tetsumi, being a full-blooded Kitsu Sodan Senzo, was called upon to lead the celebrations and rituals, taking to the main temples of the Ikoma capital dressed as a miko.  Her role in the celebration was to be a vessel for the spirits, and to lead the traditional rites to lead the dead to the land of the ancestors.  While the little Kitsu pugilist wasn’t exactly the most effeminate in bearing, she knew her responsibilities and carried herself as the epitome of the Kitsu Shugenja ought to be for such an event.

However, while her preparations were underway, she caught the attention of none other than Ikoma himself, the lecherous old man waggling his eyebrows at her and propositioning her for some sake in exchange for a good time and good stories.  As distracting as the old man could be, Tetsumi found that she had to do what she could in order to entertain him, as this was his family’s lands, and he was one of the most revered of the Lion Clan’s ancestors.

At this point Paulo’s Akodo was proving himself in the Go Tournament, where he had pretty much routed the other contestants, losing only in the championship round against an old Unicorn Go master, whose unorthodox style was a challenge to the Akodo’s tried-and-tested tactics, exacerbated further by the Ide Go player’s trash talk.  Failing his Brash roll, the Akodo countered with his own rather… ill-considered insults, and the match ended on a sour note, with the Akodo losing, but gaining much popular support from the Lion and the emnity of the Unicorn.

At this point, tensions between the two Clans were already on an all-time high, as the Unicorn was already making rather aggressive moves towards the Lion, and the Lion Clan were all too eager to welcome any outright violence with their own.  As such Kenji was tasked to keep an eye on things, to serve as a counter-intelligence agent of the Lion by Ikoma Yasuko, to insure that the Unicorn do not start of encourage any sort of trouble that could paint the Lion in a bad light.  The Unicorn already have far too many allies, and in this time of peace, many of the other Clans could be happy to have the Lion end up the loser in such a confrontation.

As you can tell, the last part of the game was sort of a slower pace, more of a setup of the events of that week.  The Bon Festival is a time of ancestors, opening many opportunities to play up the Sodan Senzo, while the political nature of the event can pull in Paulo’s Akodo, as well as Matsu Broly as a duelist.  Kenji on the other hand will have his hands full making sure that no one is doing anything underhanded.  Rather than rely on the Winter Court for such a setup, I figure that the festive, and perhaps rowdy nature of the festival will suit the Lion more, as I’m certain that nearly none of the players here will be that willing to send their characters to go off and participate in Ikebana contests anytime soon.

  1. Hikkikomori says:

    “Think a Matsu can distinguish high-grade rice?”

    “This won’t be as easy as that ‘other Matsu’.”

    “Thats some noisy rice – I’m just saying.”

    “You better get out and run, since I can’t hold up the palanquin with a katana in my hand!”

    “Don’t you have ‘ten people’ to kill back there, why don’t you just leave this ‘boy’ alone”

    “If you tell him the truth, maybe he’ll spare you!”

    “Or, maybe you can try paying him?”

    (How did it feel learning to play an instrument?)
    “I’ll tell you about it!”

    – Akodo Kenji, Ikoma Bard and Lion’s Shadow

  2. Anthony says:

    Sounds like a fun session. Gave me some ideas of my own to look into for a game 🙂

    • The team was very happy to finally get rid of Gonta, though they’re also aware that should Shigure get more information on the pesky Lions who were investigating her precious Gonta, she might seek revenge, using the rather substantial wealth of the Three Leaves Merchant House. 🙂

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