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L5R New Lands to the North – Spring

2 July, 2012

With characters ready, a campaign framework in place and even some history, we finally got to play the first of the four planned sessions for this campaign.

It begins in Phoenix Lands, near Kyuden Isawa as it happens, with the new daimyo Isawa Natsumi preparing her household to move north to her new home, the Valley of White Flowers.  A caravan of twenties carts with teamsters, six ashigaru and our heroes, escorted by three Matsu samurai on their way North to join the 7th Imperial Legion and with Miya Saaya as their guide.  Apart from several wagon accident in the earlier stage of the travel things were uneventful until they began their climb up the Chrysanthemum High Pass which joins the old Empire to the new.

Up, up into the pass their climbed  midway through the third day reaching where it began to level out, where a monk sat upon a pile of stones.  They invited the monk to tea and talked philosophy with him for a bit.  Akodo Raion, the Lady’s liaison with the Imperial Legions, caught up with them at this point and they pressed on soon arriving at the Temple to the Glorious Dead.  This temple was built to commemorate the deed and deaths of those who served in the Glorious Expedition to the North (Akodo Raion’s older brother is recorded among their number) but it is abandoned, even the guest houses for travelers through the pass stand empty, yet, everything is on order and properly stored, nothing is out of place.  The Lady, her guards and servants settled themselves into the guest house while others kept searching and Asako Taysuke vanishes.   The abbot and his monks are found returning from a ghost hunting expedition, they explain that the location of the temple -on the literal border between the old and new Empire- acts as a spiritual vortex attracting hostile spirits.  They apologize for not being there to met the travelers, but no one was expected and the spirits are dangerous enough they they prefer to bring their whole number.  The next morning the Asako is found on the roof of the temple, but cannot recall how he got there, and the monks prepare a hearty breakfast for the travelers and blesses them as they head on their way.

Once they have crossed into the new Empire, the Miya informs them of the fact that Northern Imperial Li (mile) is equal to 10 south Imperial Li on the north-south axis.  Thus their expected three-day travel to the Valley of White Flowers became two weeks and they were able to fully appreciate how large the new lands conquered by the Empire are.  They visit several of the new Phoenix daimyo on their route, watching the population mix shift from a small Rokugani population among numerous Yobanjin to a handful of Rokugani among a sea of Yobanjin.

Arriving, at last, in the Valley of White Flowers -which is much larger than they expected with 22 villages and a population of around 5,000- where the new Lady makes her way to the central square and, using the services of the Kitsuki as translator, announces herself and her plans.  The major domo of the castle, four samurai and thirty odd ashigaru in tow, arrives at the end to welcome the new lady, apologizing for not meeting her as she was not expected for another week.  It is noted that the samurai and ashigaru are not as kempt or well-maintained as they should be.  Isawa Katai sets to bringing them up to standards.

The castle is primitive by Rokugani standard but the interior is fairly comfortable and appointed in the current Rokugani style.  They find that their mighty army consists of themselves, 6 Samurai, 49 Rokugani Ashigaru, and 11 Yobanjin Ashigaru (2, 10 and 2 of whom are our on patrol) with very limited ability to manufacture new armaments.  There is a local smith who could manufacture blades, if doing such was not illegal, so the Lady order a bunch of nails (arrow head) and spikes (spear heads) from him instead.

The Lady also meets with Yun, a local woman who was the assistant and mistress of her uncle and who bore him two daughters, the Lady sets her the task of teaching the children of the castle the ways of both lands.  Once the Lady has settled in, the Major Domo comes with the bad news, as things are currently, they will not be able to pay their Imperial taxes which are expressed in rice and the lands grown barley and millet.  Unfortunately, the only lands that can be quickly and efficiently turned into paddy lands require running the water out of the hills right through the Yobanjin cemetery.

Shaman in mid-ritualThis requires two separate negotiations, the first with the Yobanjin community, who do not wish their ancestors disturbed.  Ultimately the best route only disturbs one tomb, but is the tomb of the founder of the valley.  They talk with the headman who agrees to bring in a shamen, who are technically banned by Imperial law, to see if a solution can be found.  The Lady agrees and under the new moon they met the shaman who must be at least eighty years old and is escorted by two burly warriors who no one has seen before.  The Shaman tells them the story of the founding of the valley is a mixture of storytelling, dance and song.  At the end of which, the founder of the valley, the warrior Useohan, manifests as a spirit to speak with the new rulers of the valley.  He understands that new conquerors come and replace others, he has no problem with that, or with his tomb being moved as long as: his coffin, and that of his primary wife and son are placed on the cliff face as hanging coffins, able to observe the valley, and have their names added to the ancestral rolls of the new rulers.  This is agreed to, with the local Yobanjin agreeing to move the coffins and dismantle the tomb under the shaman’s direction.

Negotiation two is with the Imperial Legion to get engineers and skilled manpower to build the dams, ponds and diversions to get the paddies up and running quickly.  Seppun Shigenobu, Commander of the 7th, trades the work of 600 men for two months for the right to cycle 30 samurai at a time through White Flower Village for rest and recreation.

Thus ended the session with the players suppose to give me their plans for what they are going to do over the two months before the next game.

Notes: GMing for an eight player group is hard, I will work harder to make sure everyone gets a signature scene next time.

Photo by Nathaniel Paluga from Wikipedia and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

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