When we were young and had lots of time, my writing partner and I ran roleplaying game tournaments at conventions. The prize was typically some swag from the sponsoring company. We gave everyone pregenerated characters, set them up for three elimination rounds of approximately four hours each, with the exception of the final round. In the final round, we had the policy of “play until we stop.”
Yes, we were young.
We did three of these for Legend of the Five Rings, and made some good memories. I’ve posted the tournaments below. They were never officially published anywhere — they’re essentially interactive fanfic. But they’re fun, so here they are.
All of these were written for the first edition of L5R. I haven’t played most of the other editions (they’re up to five as of this writing). To me, the first edition fit my play style best with just a few modifications, so I have not updated the statistics. The content, however, got a little facelift in 2018 based on feedback from players.
The summaries below are spoiler-free because you never know when one of your players is going to read the back cover copy and figure out who the villain is or something similar. Rest assured, they all have investigation, twists, and knock-down, drag-out, oh-crap combats in the climaxes.
I’ve included the pregenerated characters because they were particularly useful. We custom-crafted them to the adventures, and players had much less emotional attachment to the characters than ones they’d made themselves. This let us ensure every player felt like an essential part of the team, and the gamemaster had to deal with fewer surprises. The lack of attachment encouraged the gamemasters not to hold back with the villainy, and the players were willing to heroically sacrifice themselves if necessary, which tended to be a real crowd-pleaser.
The pregen character sheets have large blank spaces in them suitable for character portraits. I personally like to cut and paste art from the Web (this is easiest in Word docs if you use .rtf files rather than .pdf). Of course, if I did that step in a professional capacity, it’d require permission or violate copyright, but for a home game of six people that charges no fees, it pretty much qualifies as “personal use.” If you want to do this, credit the artist to your gaming group — it’s only fair.
Have fun saving the Empire!
The first L5R tournament deals with Winter Court at Hida Castle, on the border of the Shadowlands. The pregenerated characters are part of the Phoenix Inquisitors, brought in to investigate the background of a daimyo’s potential bride.
“Mirror, Mirror” Adventure (.pdf Format)
“Mirror, Mirror” Adventure (Rich Text Format)
“Mirror Mirror” Pregenerated Characters (.pdf Format)
“Mirror Mirror” Pregenerated Characters (Rich Text Format)
The second tournament deals with the players enforcing the Imperial laws of war between the shugenja (magician) families of the Unicorn and Scorpion clans. The pregenerated characters are an Emerald Magistrate and her retinue.
“Fortunes Lost” Adventure (.pdf Format)
“Fortunes Lost” Adventure (Rich Text Format)
“Fortunes Lost” Pregenerated Characters (.pdf Format)
“Fortunes Lost” Pregenerated Characters (Rich Text Format)
The third tournament involves the hunt for a Dragon clan fugitive in the Mantis islands. The pregenerated characters are a mixed bag with close enough ties to the Dragon Clan that they are serving as clan magistrates.
“Hindsight” Adventure (.pdf Format)
“Hindsight” Adventure (Rich Text Format)
“Hindsight” Pregenerated Characters (.pdf Format)
“Hindsight” Pregenerated Characters (Rich Text Format)