L5R New Lands to the North – Autumn14 July, 2012
Crossing into the endgame as we move from Summer, via various actions, to Autumn. Autumn is the harvest time and much to everyone’s relief, it looks like the harvest will be good, not only the first rice harvest but the other crops as well. The local shaman asks the Asako ishken-do to seek the Daimyo’s permission for him to bless the harvest. He does so and it is given, Asako Taysuke is allowed to help with the ritual, so he has more time to observe how the Yobanjin shaman work his magic.
Shigeru and the visiting monk Ennin manage to recruit a handful of youth, mostly orphans, to become novices of the Brotherhood. Ennin is a persuasive speaker and was able to assuage the fears of the local townsfolk but he has left their training primarily to Shigeru who will be staying in the area. Kemuri the ronin has heard rumors of a new group of bandits to the south, notable in that they seem to Rokugani in origin.
Akodo Raion finds an unexpected guest in his office when he returns from patrol, Gunso Ikoma Koki of the Kempeitai (Military Police Corps) and his four field grey armored soldiers. He is interested in the situation here . . . with the people. As Koki is here under an Imperial writ giving him sweeping powers to root out and destroy rebellion in the new lands of the Empire. Koki questions Raion intently before being escorted to the Kitsuki, his presence dampens the spirits of the samurai on leave in the town (and Kemuri watches several of the more questionable of the transient workers vanish). There he continues his questions, trying to understand what happened in Apple Blossom Village. The Kitsuki take him back to meet the daimyo, where he presents his writ and generally scares the hell out of everyone.
Koki chooses to stay in the town at the temple where Shigeru witness him and Ennin exchange very cold words, they are obviously well known to each other and of radically different philosophies. Back in the castle, the daimyo and the Kitsuki discuss the threat posed by Koki and the Kempeitai to what they are trying to build in the Valley of White Flowers, the lady allows this to be overheard by Isawa Katai, trusting in his brash nature.
The next day, with Kemuri rushing ahead and Isawa Ketai rounding up his hunters and following behind, the daimyo, Koki and everyone else in an entourage head out to Apple Blossom Village. Along the way they meet up with Seppun Enzo and his command who join them to protect Kitsuki (nee Otomo) Sata who is traveling with her husband. Along the way, the characters talk to Koki whose philosophy is that the Yobanjin are beasts who must be broken and kept in line through application of brutality and terror.
Kemuri beats them to the village and ensures that any ‘persons of interest’ have moved on before the Kempeitai arrive, he does the same, heading South to try and learn more about the bandits. The arrival of their daimyo and so many people puts a strain on the village’s resources but they try their best to welcome her and the others. The next morning Koki and his four men, the Kitsuki, Asako, Shiba and Shigeru the monk ride up to spot the ashigaru were killed and then into the pass beyond looking for indication of smuggling or bandits. On their way back they were attacked by Isawa Katai, who had removed all identifying things from himself, and his hunters. The end results of which were:
- Koki and two on his men were killed, Koki and one of them by Shiba Shyuan who claimed that the pair of them -both wounded from the ambush- had attacked her. As she was alone when she killed them, there was no one to contradict her testimony. But the Kitsuki noted that neither had weapons drawn and that the guard was stabbed from behind.
- Isawa Katai was killed by a disfiguring blow by Akodo Raion, who was almost hamstrung in the fight with the camouflaged Phoenix. The Kitsuki recognized Katai’s movement and combat style during the ambush.
- One of the hunters was killed, but the other four, one of whom was wounded, escaped.
Arriving back at the village, the Kitsuki talked to the daimyo and discovered that she had no idea what Katai was up to, putting his mind at ease. The surviving Kempeitai members headed north to report.
- A successful harvest, barley and millet were up over last year and enough rice was harvested to, with only a small top up from the stockpile, pay Imperial taxes.
- The Hangawi (harvest festival) happens with a happy populace, games, cakes and tug of war for all.
- Kemuri learns that the bandits are probably part of the Black Wolves, a gang he has heard of operating along the Lion-Pheonix-Dragonfly border.
- Kitsuki Sata, escorted by Ennin and Seppun Enzo, return to the Empire.
- Asako Taysuke begins suffering from vivid dreams and nightmare leading to restlessness and loss of appetite. The shaman says he is suffering from Shinbyeong (spirit sickness) part of the path towards becoming a shaman.
- A messenger arrives from the North, the Yobanjin have mounted a late offensive and are pushing in against the northernmost provinces. All must be prepared to go to war!
Autumn to Winter actions.
Notes: These games keep running later and later but I stick with my resolve that one session equals one season, no exceptions. The player on player violence was unplanned and unintended but the result of the actions chosen by the players -and somewhat dictated by- their character roles in Rokugan. Not the solution to the problem posed by Koki and and the Kempeitai I was expecting but that is players for you.