L5R New Lands to the North – Winter Endgame

22 July, 2012

Following Autumn’s harvest, the Valley of White Flowers prepares for war as the days become shorter and the nights colder.

A problem of living in valleys, even without winter weather, is that communication is slow moving between them.  So, while they know that there are rumors and warnings of the Yobanjin being on the offensive, news is fragmentary.  The two Kempeitai Matsu Legionaries returned, one of them (Matsu Matsui) presenting his permission from his commander to duel Shiba Shyuan over the matter of the slander (from the Matsu’s view) of his former commander, Ikoma Koki.  To everyone surprise, Shyuan won the duel and the Lion lets the matter drop, officially.

A hawk rider circles the castle and delivers a warning -tied to a javelin-  that the Prince Myong-jong will be arriving soon and that they should be ready to surrender.  Preparations are made, supplies are secured, a Hida samurai arrives with a gift from the Crab ambassador to the Phoenix, mostly yari heads and helmets, which will prove to be most useful in the days ahead.  Asako Taysuke attempt to get the shamen to aid them, but he stays resolutely neutral in the coming conflict.

In the middle of the night, a hue and cry is raised as a trio of riders pound towards the castle gates.  They rein into before the gates, one of the horse collapsing and dying of exhaustion.  It is Miya Saaya accompanied by Shiba Tsunetomo and Shiba Akirako, the son and daughter of Shiba Eiji, the lord of the valley to the northeast, whose castle was besieged and under assault when the Miya left.  She warns that an army of as many as 350 may be on its way soon.  Saaya is sent north to report to the 7th Legion as soon as she is able to ride again.

Plans are set in motion, the pass from Shiba Eiji’s lands is trapped, harassing forces are deployed to slow the Yobanjin advance.  As the Yobanjin close in on White Flower Village, the villagers are evacuated into the castle and the town -apart from the unfinished temple- was raised and then flooded by using the ponds that feed the rice paddies.  The Yobanjin encircled the castle and then approached under a flag of truce.  They meet with General Choi Yong-kun who commands the Glorious Army forces and offers them the chance to surrender without bloodshed.  This offer is refused but they agree to meet again the next day.

The next day, mid-morning, they meet in the incomplete temple, the General offers to leave them and the valley alone if they agree to do the same.  The samurai realize that he is asking them to let him march north-west unopposed to close off the communication line of the 7th Imperial Legion and ask for more time to consider.  He gives them four hours.

When they meet again, the samurai offer the General a chance to duel to decide the situation.  If the Rokugani win, he leaves, if the Yobanjin win, they will not interfere.  Shiba Shyuan champions the Daimyo, while the General chooses his own Champion.  It was a duel of spears and while the Yobanjin was good, luck was with the Phoenix and the Yobanjin went down after inflicting a variety of shallow wounds on Shyuan.  The General retreated and immediate launched an assault on the castle.  (Now, while the General did not keep his word, it should be noted that the samurai had no intention of keeping theirs if they lost the duel.)  The assault fails with heavy casualties, 30-40 killed, and the Yobanjin fall back to establish a cordon.

The samurai wait in the castle, waiting, while watch fires and sounds of construction surround them.  Soon enough, they scout out at night only to discover that the main body of the Yobanjin are gone, leaving only 25 soldier behind to make noise and keep the watch fires lit.  A quick strike overwhelms them, killing most and capturing a few, while only a handful escaped.  Scouting outward, it seems the main body headed northwest while the pass back to the lands formerly ruled by Shiba Eiji was blocked on the far end by a barricade.

Miya Saaya, her left arm in a sling, returns from the north, bearing the daisho of the Matsu commander of the 7th Imperial Legion and a message from the Prince Myong-jong that the Valley of White Flowers is now the northern extent of the Empire in the East and that, come Spring, proper negotiations to establish the border would begin.

Thus ended the session and the campaign (for now?).

Of course, the ‘Official’ history portrays the defense of the Valley of White Flowers as a triumph of samurai bravery over the treacherous Yobanjin hordes who only defeated the Imperial Legion through trickery and numbers.  So, the characters are now Heroes of Rokugan, Defenders of the Empire from the gaijin invaders (ignore the fact that the land they were defending were Yobanjin a generation ago) whose names will be known throughout the land.  Their defense has to be played up by the official organs of propaganda as it was the only Imperial victory of the winter campaign.

Notes: Another long game with unexpected choices from the players.  But the Valley of White Flowers survived and in Rokugani hands.


  1. Sounds like a great session–and campaign.

    • It was intense but everyone seemed to have a good time at the end. Almost regretting that we are not continuing on. But I really need my time to prep for GenCon.

      • I’m sure it would not take any convincing of said players to resume post GenCon. But, it is a perfect place to end, so you will here no complaints here. Sry I didn’t resist more the incursion into the valley. Really trying to minimize causalities.

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