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Aug 04

Code of Bushido – a Legend of the Five Rings adventure.

First of all, I’ll be keeping this as spoiler-free as possible but Code of Bushido is an adventure for Legend of the Five Rings with a difference – no trips to the Shadowlands, very little actual combat through the adventure and does what it sets out to do: Test your party’s adherence and understanding of the Code of Bushido.

Bushido is ‘the way of the warrior’ and the main tenants are honesty/justice, courtesy, courage, honour, compassion, sincerity and duty/loyalty and this module is designed to test the players by putting them into morally ambiguous situations where there is no right choice. Code of Bushido is three smaller linked adventures that slowly ramp up the scale of difficult decisions; the first part forces the players to make a decision of tradition and if it’s right to deny an honourable man their place in the name of tradition. The second part makes the characters choose between loyalty to their daimyo and their loyalty to the Emperor and finally the climax comes down to friendship on one side and justice on the other.

The adventure has a few ways of bringing in characters and tying them into the initial plot – some characters will have orders to court a highly influential woman. For the other characters there are two suggested ways of bringing in other characters: Using a Unicorn clan PC and their allies to protect an important caravan or the classic route of the party being Emerald Magistrates and therefore having the standing to be asked to help. Without either of these, having shugenja in the party would also work for getting the party to the Shrine of the Ki-Rin due to the competition for shugenja taking place or ensuring the party is in general good standing or have good relations with the Unicorn.

If you’re planning to insert Code of Bushido into your own campaign or into a series of linked adventures, timing is something to consider as the second part of the adventure takes place during Winter Court. It’s hard to review this adventure without giving anything away, but it looks like a fairly easy to run, fun adventure that will be well remembered by players and will really ask questions of characters and their devotion to duty in circumstances that should test even the most ardent follower of Bushido. Some of the antagonists do need an opportunity to talk with the party to give them the real impact they can provide, however there are usually enough threats nearby to make a headstrong or impulsive bushi take heed and listen to what they have to say before making their judgements of the right thing to do.

Despite it’s age, Code of Bushido is well put together and looks like it should run smoothly. Even if you don’t intend to run it but want inspiration for how to put your players in moral dilemmas, you could make a much worse choice that turning to this adventure for inspiration. I’ve been wanting to run Legend of the Five Rings for a while now, but now that I’ve read Code of Bushido I can’t wait to run a campaign and see what choices get made and what makes them consider it the right thing.

5/5

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