Proud to be a Dragon
Warning: the following post will not make the blindest bit of sense unless you’re familiar with Legend of the Five Rings. If you aren’t, please continue on to the next blog post. Thank you for your time.
So in our session tonight, one of the PCs — a Shosuro trained in the Bayushi courtier school — goes with our NPC companion to hunt down this Yogo who’s wanted for a crime. In the course of questioning the peasant innkeeper, she realizes he’s lying. And, being a Shosuro, she opts to subtly intimidate him into telling the truth, rather than backhanding him across the face for lying to a samurai.
A Crane in the common room of the inn overhears this. He’s a Doji trained in the Kakita dueling academy, and is trying to make a name for himself as a duelist, so he comes over and starts blustering to the Shosuro about the way she’s treating this innkeeper — basically ginning things up into an offense so that he can challenge her to a duel. She (very rightly) calls him out for eavesdropping on somebody else’s conversation and butting into business that isn’t his, and so thoroughly upsets him that he tries to slap her. Whereupon the NPC companion — a Mirumoto bushi from the Iron Mountain school — steps up and rams the butt of his katana into the Doji’s ribs.
Stuff and things, we run and get a magistrate to okay the duel (to first blood only), the two guys face off. This could go badly, because the Mirumoto is a great skirmisher, but is much less experienced at dueling. The Shosuro, however, has told him that his opponent has the Brash disadvantage, so the PCs and their NPC companion are doing all kinds of little things to needle the Doji and put him off his game. Which we succeed at well enough that a) he basically false-starts, gets bashed in the ribs again, and has to be ordered back into position by the magistrate, and then b) he continues with his strike even though the Mirumoto went first, and the duel is therefore supposed to be over. But he misses — not because he meant to, but because of the damage he took from a certain now-broken rib and the first cut — and so it’s an all-round disgrace for the Doji.
We’re in Shiro Yogo, so various Scorpion, Lion, and Crab are all more than happy to buy the Mirumoto drinks after the duel, and while an Ikoma with a MASSIVE GRUDGE against the Crane tells the entire teahouse the epic saga of this duel (cementing the general inclination to start calling the Mirumoto “Roshin the Crane-Killer”), the Shosuro decides to turn the phrase “the strength of Roshin!” into a drinking game. (The teahouse owner LOVES us. Our hangovers, however, do not.)
The next morning is the second day of the cherry blossom festival in Shiro Yogo, and there are various competitions. Including one for shugenja, where the challenge is to ID the spell being cast by the demonstrator. Our Kuni shugenja PC shows up for this one . . . and so does Roshin. Somebody put his name down for that competition, and it wasn’t him. (We later find out it’s the brother of the idiot Doji — the one who argued his companions into letting the duel go ahead, only to watch his brother get ignominiously thrashed.)
But our Mirumoto bushi is a Mirumoto bushi.
He succeeds at a rather difficult Lore: Shugenja roll (as does our Kuni), and realizes the demonstrator is a Soshi. So they both know all his words and gestures are actually a total smokescreen, and they have to look elsewhere for evidence of what spells he’s casting.
Our Kuni wins the competition.
Our Mirumoto comes in second.
(There’s a very awkward moment at the awards ceremony later, where you’ve got two shugenja and a freaking bushi in armor standing there to get the spell-ID prizes, and the judges have to figure out what to give Roshin, because god knows that spell scroll they intended ain’t going to do him much good. Also? “Strength of Roshin” is now our battle cry. And our favorite drinking game.)
But! Of course! The idiot Doji’s brother wasn’t done. He’d avoided entering Roshin in the archery competition (because it’s known Roshin wants to enter the elite mounted-archer unit in the Dragon army, so that’s one he’d probably do well in), but there’s one other going on today . . . and that, of course, is an iaijutsu tournament.
The first opponent gets the first strike, and misses.
(Our Mirumoto is now “Roshin the Untouchable Crane-killer.”)
The second opponent loses.
And so does the third. Who is, of course, a Crane.
They lose even though they’re better duelists than he is. All three of them have five ranks of iaijutsu, and Roshin only has three. But the GM had me roll for the opponents, and I’m here to tell you, my rolls legitimately sucked. The only good one, out of nine, was the guy who won Focus in the first round, and then completely whiffed his strike. So I don’t know if it’s the blessing of my cricket or what — my Togashi monk has a lucky cricket, the Indestructible Kongou, and she bestowed his blessings before each round — but Roshin places second in a competition he had no business being signed up for at all, and wins one where he should have gotten trounced.
STRENGTH OF ROSHIN! <drinks>
And you know, this is why I love gaming. Most of the time, the stories are messier and less satisfying than a well-constructed novel/movie/comic book series/other narrative medium of your choice. (You can’t revise things after they happen, and sometimes the dice screw up an otherwise good plot.) But because they’re improvisational, and because the dice do add an element of randomness . . . those moments when the story pulls together just right? Are all the more amazing. Put Roshin’s achievements in a book, and I’ll roll my eyes a bit at the implausibility of it all. But dude, I was there: it really happened. And we managed to totally shame a couple of Doji (who were so asking for it), and not only defend the honor of the Dragon Clan, but show that our bushi are smart as well as strong.
I heart Roshin. Best NPC companion ever*.
(*For values of “ever” that equal “in this game.” I don’t want gollumgollum, oddsboy, drydem, or feyangel to come after me in defense of Grektar.)