Each hardcover supplement for Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying is accompanied by an adventure, map, and token set. The most recent hardcover, Path of Waves, brought the Sins of Regret adventure with it.
Sins of Regret is set in Twin Blossoms Village and the neighboring Closed Shell Castle. These two locations are depicted by the two sides of the map(because the adventure takes place somewhere generic, there is no provincial map as we’ve seen with prior adventures). Twin Blossoms appear in Path of Waves, but the village here is significantly different, and for the worse. The characters will encounter classic samurai dilemmas with a struggling village and a lord who wants his due. But Sins of Regret is not just a simple choose this or choose that adventure, as the village and castle have a constellation of plot points to explore.
Note that Sins of Regret is effectively a rōnin-only adventure. The adventure suggests that you could have clan samurai or gaijin involved, but it’s hard to read that as something other than a required effort to make the book appeal to as wide an audience as possible. To me, it’s not a problem that the adventure is only for a group of rōnin – there are just certain stories that work with rōnin that don’t work well with clan samurai (and vice versa).
Of course, There’s the usual sheet of tokens with Sins of Regret as well. Also as usual, it isn’t particularly focused on the adventure – this is more of a token sheet for Path of Waves, including the gaijin-focused aspects of that book.
Overall, while I think there’s a bit of a challenge for the GM (which I will discuss below in the GM section), Sins of Regret is a really good adventure, maybe the best of the ones packaged with these supplements. It’s worth playing even as a stand-alone rōnin adventure, even if your normal campaign is focused on clan samurai.
GMs only from here on out – adventure spoilers below.
SPOILERS BELOW, GO AWAY PLAYERS!
The core plot of Sins of Regret is fantastic, with a classic twist. Characters show up to find suffering village with elemental imbalance and a somewhat incompetent lord. Obvious situation, right? Cruddy lord has offended the spirits, standard choice between doing what’s right (helping village, taking down lord) vs. what’s socially acceptable (helping lord keep order, keep that tax money flowing, right? Except that, while the lord is somewhat incompetent, the elemental imbalance that’s plaguing the villages is a conspiracy (including supposedly holy men) that is deliberately sabotaging the area in order to bring the lord down. It turns out that the “right” and “proper” things to do here really are the same – if the players can get to the bottom of what’s going on they can defeat the conspiracy, help restore the village to prosperity, and make sure the lord has a competent and trustworthy advisor going forward. IF the players can get to the bottom of what’s going on.
The challenge I referenced above is that there is, I think, a bit of a time disjoint in the adventure. The ‘ideal’ resolution for the adventure would see the characters show up at the village and very soon have an encounter with the tax collector, where the characters manage to convince him to give the village a little more time. The players then go off to the lord’s castle (most of the Cresting Waves web supplement occurs on this short trip), where they are able to gain entrance and get to hang out for a while. They then need to gain the confidence of several officials, including the daimyo’s spouse, about sometimes very personal matters, and do it before it’s time for the tax collector to head back out. Adding to that, the easiest way to stick around (getting hired as mercenaries) means that the characters have almost no free time and seemingly zero chance of being able to do things like get one-on-one time with high officials. It’s the sort of thing that becomes more plausible with the passage of time in a campaign, but the adventure doesn’t provide that time or give tips on the matter. The most straightforward way to handle it is just to push the characters in the right direction and make everyone willing to talk with them. That has the unfortunate downside of pairing the adventure’s serious depiction of the spiritual side of Rokugan with a significant disregard for the social side. You’re also kind of throwing out the window the emphasis that Path of Waves put on how restricted rōnin life can be … although that aspect of Path of Waves was probably a bit much, so maybe that isn’t the end of the world.
So, I think that’s a challenge, but one that can be overcome. In exchange, you get the layout for a great central plot with a solid twist, along with a variety of interweaving subplots (this is definitely one that you will want to have mastered the story for before you try to run it). Definitely worth checking out.