A 4th-Edition D&D Legend of Five Rings campaign for level 1 heroes
Each year, the Crab Clan Champion declares a Twenty Goblin Winter, a chance for anyone who has what it takes to earn adoption into the ranks of the Crab samurai. [The d20 System campaign setting book says only rōnin (who are already samurai), but the wiki says otherwise. Of course, given the focus of the setting, there aren’t many interesting backgrounds for common folk anyway.] The mission is simple: You must enter the Shadowlands and return with the heads of 20 goblins. [The first adventure may be an extended one, taking place over several weeks both in- and out-of-game.] Given their current state of war with not only the Shadowlands but also the Crane Clan, the Crab are eager to welcome new warriors. [Besides allowing various character backgrounds, fealty to the Crab also makes it easier for players and characters who aren’t perfectly familiar with the intricacies of Rokugani society and etiquette. Thus, I think this would be a good introductory campaign.]
The journey into the Shadowlands to the starting point, the safe town of Shinsei’s Last Hope, has been fairly uneventful. Monsters are not as strong here as they are farther south, and thanks to the numbers of skilled (and poor) warriors walking the same path, you have been seen as a less-than-tempting target. As the contest begins, you consider carefully which of your fellow entrants would complement your skills most effectively. . . . [Although each contestant has to complete the challenge individually (20 heads each), it would be better convenient for the PCs to start bonding as a team as early as possible. As the character creation will be biased toward making a balanced party, this can be a way to explain why these ones will band together—particularly in the case of a shugenja who needs a bigger slab of muscle and metal to stand in front of him. You can also reinforce this by claiming ties of blood or past inter-family interaction with other heroes. It’s also, of course, very inconvenient for the GM if the PCs act separately.]
Thanks to Shul for hosting this site. I, the true DM, Archlords, am currently working with players (up to a maximum of six) to see about their backgrounds and thus what to emphasize in the storyline. Based on what else I am running, I will likely start this around January 2015. On a biweekly schedule, the campaign will perhaps run for up to about a year, reaching upper heroic tier (8th–10th level). This Obsidian Portal site will remain open for easy access to the players, but most background information remains on the real campaign site.