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L5R-A Message from Beyond

Game Master Wandslinger

Emerald and Jade Magistrates find themselves embroiled in the most momentous event in a generation.

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The Sun has charted its path across the Heavens this day. As it bids farewell to the Empire once more, you can see the outline of Shiro Ichiro finally enter your vision. It seems like ages since you began the hike up through the nearly impassable mountains. One wonders why the Badger need such secrecy.

Your superiors in this mission, Emerald Magistrate Mirumoto Isaka and Jade Magistrate Kuni Mugai, seem calm. Whatever mental fortitude they possess, it certainly doesn't apply to you. Something has been bothering each and every one of you since you passed into Badger Clan lands. Like a centipede creeping slowly up your spine, a feeling of apprehension has grown within you. Something isn't right, and the feeling is growing the closer you get to Shiro Ichiro.

This'll be our IC intro spots. You folks have been working together for about 2 months now, hunting bandits and supernatural oddities in Unicorn lands. The sudden strangeness at Shiro Ichiro prompted your current mission. Speak amongst yourselves for a bit, and then we'll launch into your arrival at the top of the peak.

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

As the light of the sun began to wane, the shadows grew out from their hiding places and cast a dark pall across the rugged terrain. The hiking had been strenuous and Saito expected it had been harder for him than the bushi that accompanied him, even weighted down by armor and weapons as they were.

Finally, after the long day of hiking, the castle was within their sight. This brought small comfort to Saito. Ever since they had entered this backwater province, he had had a nagging feeling that something was amiss. He was simply wondering how much longer before he would find out exactly what that was.

He raised his voice to break the silence.

"Mirumoto-sama, Kuni-sama. What exactly do we know of the situation at Shiro Ichiro?"

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

Hida Sobou marches with the group, his tetsubo over his shoulder and his pack on his back. His sandals are wearing thin and his face is unshaven. At 6'3" he stands a full head above most Rokugani, and his thick muscles are bunched from the exertion of carrying his armor and gear through Badger lands.


"The Badger are blood from long ago Shiba-san, I am eager to learn what is happening as well."

Sobuo looks at Kuni-sama before turning his gaze back to the road ahead.

Male Mantis Clan Yoritomo Bushi, IR 1

Yoritomo Haruki keeps pace with his comrades. While lower on the path, he often traveled beside the path, seeking a more adventurous route over stones and hillocks. But with the creeping dread enveloping the party he has remained with his fellows on the path. Yoritomo-san is of average height for a Rokugani and is clean shaven. His clothing is fine while remaining functional and his kabuto is fashioned to resemble the face of a mantis. Twin kama balance his Daisho.

"Your kinsmen certainly knew how to choose a defensible location, Hida-san. Little surprise that it is not a mundane threat we suspect in Shiro Ichiro. What say you, Akodo-san? Would the strategists among your family choose differently?"

Male Lion Clan Akodo Bushi, IR1

Akodo Shunsuke turned his head briefly toward the sky in thought, trusting his mount to find the correct path. His kabuto, with its guardian lion statue motif, rests at his side, held in one arm, briefly doffed to let the clear weather air out a stuffy head. Hair dyed the color of wheat and lion manes is pulled back and wrapped into a stiff, wiry mage, splaying strands like dandelion. Dark eyes search the sky for a moment, then address the questioner.

"Yoritomo-san, while location is of paramount importance, I believe few in the Akodo would disregard the Badger's choice. What is more important, however, is how one uses that location. And the Badger have done well here."

Stopping for a moment to admire the setting sun that set over a mountain of a man Hida must be part of "the Wall" for that size. As Kado keeps walking thanking his mask for hiding his facial expression of being wary about his surroundings, taking a quick look around as he is guarding the rear of the group to provoke the usual unsettling of the others.

Whatever secret this place holds, I'm pretty sure we will find them. as he says it with his usual monotone.

Neither of the magistrates answer at first. Kuni-sama seems absorbed in some task. His eyes are shut, his mouth moving furtively as he chants under his breath. The jade pendant he wears around his neck jingles as his horse shifts, the coins he has strapped to the cord making most of the noise.

After a moment's pause, Mirumoto-sama answers your question. "I can honestly say little, Shiba-san. The single runner who arrived at Shiro Shinjo died not long after arriving. He lived only long enough to pass along the knowledge of the event itself. We must be prepared for anything. Perhaps we will know more when Kuni-san returns from communing." It is obvious from her tone that Mirumoto-sama is not pleased with the lack of information. Her face, however, shows only solid determination.

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

"Hai Mirumoto-sama. I shall make myself available to Kuni-sama to see if I may be of assistance."

Saito walks closer to the shugenja and waits for the priest to finish his prayers before offering his assistance.

Kado just observes Kuni-sama for a moment and turns to look at Mirumoto Indeed, information is always of high importance as Kado smiles for himself under his mask and looking at the rest of his companions to see if they have something else to add to Mirumoto answer.

After a few moments, the magistrate returns from his trance. He immediately notices Saito, acknowledging him with only a grunt. When he speaks, it is as though gravel was being poured from a bowl. Every word is carefully measured, as though simple speech represents a combat engagement. "Something interferes with the kami's native action here. It is...very bothersome. They simply chant a single name: Ryoshun. I believe the histories state that he is the tenth Kami, his governance the Realm of the Dead. What bearing could he have on this event?" His face, adorned with the traditional white and black makeup of the Kuni, twists into something unpleasant.

Turning the Saito, he says "Shiba-san, do this: seek the knowledge of the Void. Perhaps your particular skill will prove more useful."

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

Saito bowed low to the jade magistrate, "Hai Kuni-sama."

Turning from the rest of his group, Saito walks a few paces forward and raises his arms.

This is my chance - to succeed where the jade magistrate himself has failed! he thought to himself. He would take no chances.

He closes his eyes for a brief moment and opens himself completely to the void, taking particular care to channel a portion of it through himself before probing it at large.

Out of Character:

Casting Commune with Void - calling 2 raises (to get greater clarity in the answers; to ask an additional question) and spending 1 void point).

I believe my first raise is free (affinity void).

Correct my math if I'm wrong but that's 6k4:

6d10 ⇒ (6, 1, 3, 4, 1, 8) = 23

And I'll be keeping the 8,6,4,3 = 21

And my TN on a rank 1 (is commune rank 1 technically?) would be 10 + 5 (second raise) = 15

If I've miscalculated the TN (and it's higher than 20 I would have only called for the free raise (for greater clarity).

Male Mantis Clan Yoritomo Bushi, IR 1

Yoritomo watches Shiba-san begin his petition, his face hidden beneath his fanciful kabuto.

"Mirumoto-sama, you said this runner died. What caused their spirit's departure?"

Male Lion Clan Akodo Bushi, IR1

"A mystery, truly."

Isaka doesn't turn as she responds, her voice like a piercing wind amidst a forest, "The shugenja within the castle said his spirit seemed to have been drained away somehow, as though it had been tethered to a point elsewhere, and was pulled back from his body. Such things are...not natural, to say the least."


Communing with the Void is unlike anything else you have ever experienced. Each time, it is different, for each moment is as different as each leaf. This time, you get the peculiar sensation of falling, swiftly moving from rapid descent to a gentle flight. After only a few moments, you can feel the dark peace of the Void permeate your entire being. You-is it you, or are you it? So hard to tell, when the only thing separating you from everything is this physical shell. As you center yourself, you feel the small portion of the universe around you pause, as if gathering breath. It awaits you, ishiken.

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

The sensation of the Void wraps itself around Saito as he momentarily pauses to gather himself. Communing with a primal force of existence is a daunting task. And yet he is ishiken and it is not only his duty but his purpose.

He formulates the knowledge he seeks into questions - more of as a mental focus for himself and less because the Void requires such.

What disturbs the kami? What happened at Shiro Ichiro? If Ryoshun is involved, what is its true nature?

His thoughts ordered, he waits for the Void to answer as it will.


1d10 ⇒ 2

Here's that last dice roll (if you still need it). I'll keep the best 4.

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

Sobou looks around at his traveling companions.

"We're not going to learn more standing here. Do we move in Kuni-sama?"


Your soul sends its questions forth, causing ripples in the stillness of the Void. You wait, almost an eternity it seems, before they return. The answers arrive within you, as though you had always known what you sought. Within your mind, characters of fire and air write themselves upon the earth and water.

The balance has been disrupted. Something has taken the guardians away. He Who Guides has been awakened.

As the words fade, the stillness returns. Slowly, you recede from the Void, returning to your fellows.

Mugai waves his Crab companion off. "Let Shiba-san finish his communion. The Void may yet reveal something I have missed, Hida-san. Once he returns, we will move forward, I am sure."

Isaka interjects "With all haste then. We should be within the walls of Shiro Ichiro before nightfall. Something haunts these hills, and it would be unwise to remain here without a defensible position."

Mugai simply nods. "As you wish, Mirumoto-san."

Dark Archive

GM W.R. Monger

Kado simply nods and his wary state is just confirmed, as the the feeling of being watch has been there since we arrived.

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

Saito shakes himself to throw off the last vestiges of the lingering Void's embrace. The material world closes back in around him with a clarity that was both sharper and less clear at the same time.

He regards Mugai for a moment before speaking.

"The Void provides some answers, though their usefulness is suspect. The balance has been disrupted. This much seems obvious from the agitated kami that you have discovered. Though perhaps there is more contained in the cryptic answer than would seem present at first. The balance? The balance of what, for instance.

"Something has taken the guardians away. This, seems to be the most helpful point. We have something concrete to focus on, even if knowledge of their nature is beyond us.

"Finally, He Who Guides has been awakened. This is the most mysterious point and yet could be the most important. Perhaps there is some connection between he Who Guides and Ryoshun?"

After delivering the answers he has obtained, Saito thinks silently to himself, trying to probe his memory for anything he might have learned about the fabled Tenth Kami.


Lore:Kami to see if I remember anything about Ryoshun, including him being known as He Who Guides. Keeping the 3 highest (sage+int=4k3)

4d10 ⇒ (6, 10, 10, 7) = 33

Looks like I had two 10s, so they will explode to:

2d10 ⇒ (9, 4) = 13

For a total of 40 I believe.

Male Lion Clan Akodo Bushi, IR1

Shunsuke brushed a forelock from his face while he waited to be on the move again. While an Akodo would never let himself be seen as frightened, or even just skittish while a duty awaited completing, agitation rippled through his being in a way both subtle and obvious to any who wished to look hard enough.

Politeness might keep some from commenting on it, however.

"He Who Guides? I suppose one cannot trust the Void to give a clear or helpful answer if we can't get one out of a run-of-the-mill spirit either."

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

Sobou sneers slightly at the words of Saito, but keeps his own council.

"No sense trusting anything but our own senses now, and standing here isn't going to get us in that castle."

With that the Hida bushi begins moving forward, checking the path ahead and making for the best route to the castle.

Male Mantis Clan Yoritomo Bushi, IR 1

Haruki remains silent rather than re-stating the obvious. He follows after Mirumoto-san when she is ready to move forward.

Is there any skill check or ring check I can make to see if I know anything about this He Who Guides or Ryoshun?

Probably a Lore of some kind. Sorry for posting with wrong avatar.

Kado shrugs his shoulders "Shall we continue then, for there is an eerie feeling out here that has kept me wary". as Kado takes a quick glance around.

Isaka allows a few moments of discussion, but curtails things rather quickly. "We need to move now. Let's get going." With that she strides to the front of the group, and begins leading the way. The land rises steadily, though occasionally dips and switchbacks muddle the way.

After only a few minutes, the path diverges. At the moment, you are in a small valley, and your vision of the road ahead in either direction is limited. Mirumoto-san eyes both paths and consults the maps she keeps on her person. Waving off questions, she swiftly makes a decision.

"All of you will take the divergent path. It should lead to a plateau that rises above the surrounding area, giving a better vantage point. Kuni-san and I will continue on this road. Take this chart, and get me some more accurate maps of the land here. We may need them if we can't find the source of this trouble within the castle grounds. Meet us at Shiro Ichiro before nightfall. Move out."

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

"Hai masters," Saito said with a light bow before starting down the indicated path, still puzzling over the mysteries of the Void in his mind.

Kado waits for the group to take their new path as he will continue to hold rearguard. "Let us move along"

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

Sobou bows at Kuni Mugai before heading along the specified path.

"As you say Bayushi-san. Anybody else a tracker? If not stay out of my way."

Sorry for the brusque nature, right now I'm playing his Antisocial up a little. As he gets to know the group that will fade, but right now he's in "You're all strangers" mode.

Sobou moves to the front and begins looking for any tracks in the area.

Not sure what I'll find this far out but I learned the hard way what ignoring the land leads to.

Perception Hunting (Tracking) 4k2 4d10 ⇒ (2, 1, 9, 2) = 14 reroll the 1 1d10 ⇒ 5 for a total of 14.

Male Mantis Clan Yoritomo Bushi, IR 1

With a bow to his superiors, Yoritomo-san follows along... studiously ignoring Hida-san's breach of brusqueness.

GM rolls:
3d10 ⇒ (3, 9, 4) = 16 keep all=16
3d10 ⇒ (7, 9, 7) = 23 keep 9 and 7=16
4d10 ⇒ (6, 1, 5, 1) = 13 reroll 2d10 ⇒ (1, 4) = 5 keep 6 and 5=11
5d10 ⇒ (4, 7, 4, 5, 1) = 21 keep 7, 4, and 5=16
6d10 ⇒ (1, 8, 3, 6, 5, 5) = 28 reroll 1d10 ⇒ 3 keep 8, 6, and 5=19

Few signs of life greet you as you venture up the path. What tracks you do find seem to be old, at least a week. It seems that whatever took the Badger away seems to have swept the entire plateau clean of animal life as well.

As you ascend further, your path becomes steeper. Thankfully the Badger cut stairs into the rock, allowing you to make progress without needing the aid of climbing equipment. The trek is not easy, however, as the wind picks up as you go. It brings the scent of wet rock with it, and the wind sounds eerily like the distant cry of a woman.

Out of the corner of his eye, Akodo-san spots an oddity in the rocks. Approaching closer, it appears to be a cave of some sort. Hida-san, you note that what appear to be goat tracks are headed inside. They are fresh.

Male Lion Clan Akodo Bushi, IR1

Shunsuke stood near the entrance to the cave, wondering if this was important, a clue, or if it was just a cave. He fervently hoped for the former, otherwise he and the others would be wasting their time.

In a low voice, he whispered, "Hida-san, do you think..."

Kado looks at the lion wary as he is and probably the surroundings are playing to his fears It is still better if I stop just in case as Kado halts and looks at Akodo, Hida and then the surroundings to see if somethings is out of place or they point it out.

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

Saito stands silently behind the bushi, letting the Crab lead as he pleases. He has done his part for now.

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

"It is strange Akodo-san. The plateau here is clean of life for a week, but there are fresh goat tracks going into that cave. Shiba-san, can you create a light source? If not I have a latern."

Does the cave seem deep enough to need such?

Sobou readies his tetsubo while facing the cave.

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

"Hai Hida-san. I can summon a flame, but without a brand to light it's help will be fleeting at best."

I can make a flame but we'll need something to set on fire. Also, it may take me more than one try because my Fire sucks = P

You will need light beyond the first few feet. It's tucked into the rock face away from the setting sun.

Male Mantis Clan Yoritomo Bushi, IR 1

"Then let us see what can be gathered."
Yoritomo begins looking for any dry branches or anything else to make a torch.
Investigation 5k3: 5d10 ⇒ (10, 5, 2, 9, 6) = 32
Total- 25

When you roll a ten on a die, it 'explodes', which means you roll a d10 again, and add that number to the original ten. Explosions continue until you roll not a 10.

Male Mantis Clan Yoritomo Bushi, IR 1

Oh, sorry about that. Didn't have the book in front of me.
Explosion: 1d10 ⇒ 4
So that 25 becomes a 29.

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

"This may be a waste of time but you learn fast that leaving a cave behind you is a great way for a beast of the Shadowlands to surprise you. You don't want that."

GM, is the usual Rokugani taboo against speaking of the Shadowlands still in effect during this time period? Wouldn't change what Sobou says but it might color some reactions.

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

"We can send it back to Jigoku now or we can send it back later. It makes no difference to me...but I get the sense that Hida-san would prefer now," Saito says.

He draws himself up to his full height and closes his eyes for a moment to clear his mind. Opening his eyes he begins to chant a prayer to the fire kami.


3d10 ⇒ (7, 9, 8) = 24 I'll take the 9 and the 8 for a 17.

I think the TN is a 10 again, so it should succeed (barring any additional modifiers you add of course). I'll set fire to what materials, if any, that Haruki found for use as a torch

Kado raises an eyebrow at Hida-san comments Well he would know better of this matter or he is just being a little too cautious as he approaches Hida "So you suggest we should check it out just in case Hida-san?" as I look at the rest with a quick glance to see their reactions to what Hida-san just said.

Torch material proves difficult to find out here, but Yoritomo-san proves up to the task. Within moments, you have acquired enough wood for two torches.

Male Lion Clan Akodo Bushi, IR1

Shunsuke nodded decisively, his face set in grim lines as he eyed the perimeter of the cave entrance. Otherwise, he stood stock still in the kind of calm that comes over one trained for inevitable, endless battle, and one that intends to win those battles.

"I offer my eyes, impeccably trained to notice the smallest details, to foray first into the unknown."

M Phoenix 1 - Isawa Shugena

Saito sighed audibly at the group.

"We're wasting time. I'm sure Mirumoto-sama and Kuni-sama will be happy to know that we were late because we spent all of our time genuflecting over who should enter a cave first instead of taking the first step."

Having spoken, Saito directed the flame he had summoned and ignited the two torches Haruki had scrounged up. He took one of the torches from the Mantis and strode boldly into the cave.

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

"Huh, that little Phoenix might be part Crab. Wait up little Phoenix, my armor will hold up to anything in there, Mirumoto-sama would be even unhappier of you died in a cave."

Sobou moves into the cave as well, looking for room to move in front of Saito or at least avenge him.

Male Lion Clan Akodo Bushi, IR1

Shunsuke shook his head at the pair but followed them in nonetheless, keeping close to the Phoenix's light, leaving the other for the rest of the group.

Hida-san, yes, the Taint and the Shadowlands are still not topics for polite company. It is only tolerable here because you have a Jade Magistrate(who happens to be Kuni) along with you.

The cave's walls leap into relief as you stride further in. Somehow, they seem to be giving a sinister air to the rock, as though something had given them angry life.

A noise from further within diverts your attention from the cavern. It is hard to hear, but not impossible. A goat-wounded from the sound of it. After just a moment, a high pitched bleat comes from the depths of the cave, and falls silent afterwards.

Kado feels uneasy trying to read his companions and his surroundings to get a feel for what is happening, as he tries to speak low to not be heard "Hida-san I do not enjoy this type of silence, we might be walking into an ambush if we are not careful".

Male Mantis Clan Yoritomo Bushi, IR 1

"It would be ungracious of us to not meet our hosts in this cave- let's see what they have prepared for us. And perhaps we will have some valuable clues to share with the Magistrates.", Haruki says as he strides forward in the cave, torch held aloft.

Male Human Hida Bushi Rank 1

"Trap, or something feeding. Be ready, find a good place to get behind whatever comes at me."

Sobou steps forward, tetsubo at the ready. Once his companions have taken their positions, he shouts a challenge into the cave.

"Come out and face me creature!"

No sense walking too far.

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