Over the past twenty-five or so years I’ve had occasion to run a number of gaming chronicles, and think up the settings and circumstances of many more. Every so often I’ll be inspired and write down a plot arc, individual scenes, or just the introductory welcome text to be sent to players.
The below comes from a short-lived Legends of the Five Rings campaign I ran, that never really explored the themes I hoped it would. We did have fun though, and it formed a great introduction to the world for several players, which I can be happy about. Hopefully it can provide some inspiration for others who want to run chronicles, particularly those with a supernatural or prophecy-driven story-line.
My notes show this came from early 2006, and boy it could sure benefit from some editing. I’m presenting it as-is however, if for no other reason than I hope it shows that I’ve progressed as a writer and storyteller in the intervening 11+ years.
A cold night in the early years of Hantei XXXVII’s reign brought a strange event unlike any other in the lands of the Emerald Empire.
A hinin pounded at the gates of his lord’s castle. Before the guards could punish the man for his insolence, one remembered the individual’s identity – born with a malformed jaw, he was incapable of speech and always assumed to be lacking even the most basic mental processes.
The guards, not wishing to wake the lord, looked to one another for direction. Lightning streaked across the sky, casting all in stark relief. As the afterimage faded, the man incapable of spoken thought began to speak in a voice like that of the dead – haunting and impossible to turn away from. The guards stood transfixed as he spoke. As he finished, thunder rumbled through the heavens, knocking all to the ground as a single brilliant bolt of lightning struck the hinin, destroying all trace of him.
Decades later, the night lay silent across the whole of Rokugan. No cicada chirped, no frog croaked, and even the eternal winds seemed to hesitate. Individuals on late-night walks were struck immobile as well, Lord Moon having been seemingly plucked from His rightful place in the sky. In His place a ribbon of crimson light, whipping and twirling, flashed across the heavens, a sound like fire obvious to all.
Awakened from fitful sleep, one Ikoma turned pale as he saw the midnight spectacle. With a final flash of red light, the night was released from whatever fell magic held it still, Lord Moon firmly where he belonged. The Ikoma gathered his traveling robes and set out that very hour for Shiro no Ikoma. Without hesitation he threw open one of the great vaults and hunted for a mere scrap he had held once as a youth studying the history of the world.
At last his aging fingers found it, faded with age. Cursing the fools who allowed such degredation, his lined eyes widened as he read aloud what a young Ikoma had overheard while venturing through Crab lands so many years before. Though the ink was illegible in some places, his own editic memory was able to recovery much. Aloud he repeated:
“All effort shall be betrayed by one in selfish act. Two will rise above … emnity where neither alone … overcome. Two rejecting predestined fate will see one … by steel. The sight of true despair will lead … to bring blooded ruin to another. One will sacrifitce … for the chance to alter the fate of Rokugan. Bourne under a scar of crimson in the … heavens, their gempuku shall be as auspicious as their … Seek not to hinder them … … to aid for it is by their strides alone shall the … pass. Heed or despair for without … fates we have none.”
The scroll nearly crumbling in his hands, he looked out of the small library window toward the now-calm evening. “Fortunes protect all who are born this night,” he prayed before running to wake his sensei.