Some of you asked me to report back after I wrapped the current (now previous) generation of my L5R game. As I write this it's been 2 days since the session ended, and I've had some time to think about what happened. Over all, I'm pleased. Still, I felt it only fair to answer your request and write about what happened.
The Siege Itself
With the defenders of Amimono no Toshi fallen back to the inner city walls, the battle slowed. The shadowlands forces had to get to the inner city walls, and while the PCs had not involved the Scorpion directly in setting up defenses throughout the city, that didn't mean that they'd been quiet. Nor had the Daidoji Harriers in the city. Pockets of resistance where some samurai who couldn't make it to the inner walls held out formed.
All told, it gave the defenders a day to recover and rest. The PCs got fresh wounds (lucky healing rolls for them) and a chance to sleep. After that, the war was back on. The PCs took to the walls and gates. One set up defenses for the underground bolt tunnels built for the host family generations ago. Another PC used those tunnels to rescue some of the people still holding out outside the wall.
Eventually the gates fell. An Akutenshi, possessed of a will to destroy one of the PCs (marked as Amaterasu's Champion) raced through the gate spewing corruption and taint everywhere he went. Other greater foes from the Shadowlands ranks broke through as well. The city's defenders, led by the PCs moved in.
When the dust settled the city's defenders still stood. Support from the Crane, Lion, and Unicorn arrived to rout the shadowlands forces. But the battle hadn't been won without cost. One of the PCs was dead. And many of the friends of the PCs lay dead, injured, and/or tainted about them.
Only One Dead PC?
In truth I expected more dead PCs. Plotting the session out it was hard to not think I wasn't stacking the deck too high against them. One of the players urged me to go for it, because it was what had been built up and - in effect - the PCs are very powerful people. The dice were kind. The PCs won. Except for one, but that was by the player's choice, and by that I mean it literally.
The Death of Mirumoto Oramari
At the beginning of the generation one of my PCs brought a ronin PC to the table named Oramari. Oramari had been chosen by a princess of the Dragon clan and tasked to save the soul of a katana tied to the realm of slaughter. To go along with this quest, the PC had taken a Bad Fortune, specifically one that reads:
At some point during the game a roll, a very important roll, is going to fail and there is nothing you can do about that. Don't worry, we're sure your GM will forget all about this...
To tell the truth, I dislike this disadvantage. It is the kind of disadvantage that puts me, the GM, in an oppositional position from the PC. I have to choose a time where a roll is of the utmost importance and then doom the PC with it. I have a hard time thinking of situations where this disadvantage doesn't directly lead to the death of one or more PCs, and so I shy away from it. I shared this with the player, but they wanted it and understood that, and so I agreed.
I held on to that disadvantage the whole way through the game until this session. During the fighting, Oramari ended up in a "duel" with one of the big monsters of the Shadowlands. The fight was very close. In a desperate gamble Oramari went on full attack to help counter the +20 wound penalty she was at and attacked. Her first attack brought the monster she found down to 5 wounds from being defeated. The player grabbed the dice for Oramari's second, and final attack. I stopped the player, and told them they failed their attack roll. I think they had forgotten about the Bad Fortune, because it took a moment for the shock to die down. But, true to their word at the beginning of the generation, they understood.
And then, because I am too nice, I gave the player a choice: 1) We let things continue as they stand, the attack fails and it is the monster's turn. 2) Their attack hits and kills the monster, they live, but the sword is forever lost to the Realm of Slaughter and will immediately test to take control of them while injured. 3) He and the monster take each other out. Oramari dies. The sword is saved.
The player didn't even take a moment to think about it before choosing option 3. Oramari died, but was successful in her quest.
The Wrap Up
Much of the session was the mechanics of the battle. Afterwards we talked about where the PCs are going to go in life and wrapped up the story. Oramari's story ended in the battle, and the swords were recovered by an old man (who has been a recurring timeless character in the game) until they're needed again.
My players are still deciding the full details of where they will go. One, who with the Water Dragon's blessing can breathe underwater, went off in search of doji. Another is aiming to become the Emerald Champion. They're all maxed out on glory, so whichever way they go they'll be remembered forever.
All in all it was a good game, a grand generation, and in many ways the end of an age. The next generation won't begin for some time as the group is switching back over to a home brew Halo game Oramari's player runs during breaks in the L5R game. I must admit, I'm looking forward to the break.