I talked a bit about a ‘narrative’ solo Test of Honour campaign in an earlier post. I thought I’d collate the story so far. The historical setting is Owari province, where Oda Nobunaga has just gained control of the province by deposing the senior branch of the Oda clan.
Ambush at Atsuta.
Toranosuke, a rope-maker from a village in Owari province travels to Atsuta to kill the man who slew his brother. Taking 3 friends, he breaks into the man’s house only to discover the place is empty. As they emerge back into the street, a group of 7 men attack. After a brief fight, Toranosuke is badly wounded and escapes with one of his companions, Iemon. The two are found by a band of river bandits, who take them in and recruit them.
A raid gone wrong
Toranosuke and the river bandits attempt to raid a merchant’s storehouses. The guards however, put up a strong fight and the bandits are forced to flee without any gain. The bandit leader Rokurō is captured.
Toranosuke and the others manage to rescue Rokurō, leaving some guards dead. The bandits may be beginning to attract too much attention.
Toranosuke, Iemon and the bandits attempt to steal supplies from a train of horses heading for Kiyosu. Toranosuke leads the charge, slaying two guards but is then badly wounded. Iemon comes to his aid and the two manage to make off with one of the horses. The others also grab a horse.
Goro, the bandit’s enforcer, has gone missing. Assuming he’s gone off on personal business, Rokurō lets it go. But Goro is annoyed by Toranosuke’s growing influence in the gang, and when Goro returns, it is with a rival gang of bandits intent on protecting their territory into which the river bandits had strayed with their last attack.
Rokurō, the river bandit leader, immediately confronts Goro, but Goro cuts him down with one blow. Incensed, the river bandits attack and a fierce fight erupts around Rokurō’s body. Another group attacks the camp from the opposite direction and Toranosuke and Iemon begin a fight with these, gradually driving them back, but taking them further away from the others.
The battle rages until the attackers lose their nerve and back away. Nezumi, a runaway boy form Atsuta, rushes forward and fatally stabs Goro. As the other attackers turn to run, only their leader is left. He fights on bravely before being overcome by Toranosuke, Iemon and Genzaburō, one of the river bandits.
As the dust settles, only 4 of the river bandits survive. Two of them glare accusingly at Toranosuke, and walk away. Genzaburō decides to head over to the Kiso river, where he has family. Toranosuke offers to take Nezumi back to his village. But only after some unfinished business in Atsuta.
Toranosuke, Iemon and Nezumi sneak back into Atsuta. While Tora and Iemon keep a low profile at an inn, Nezumi keeps an eye on Hirosaki, the murderer of Toranosuke’s brother. When Hirosaki goes drinking in a sake house, Nezumi fetches the others. They wait outside for Hirosaki to emerge, and as he and a friend leave the sake house, Toranosuke attacks. Hirosaki leaps back at the first blow and is only wounded, his friend fights back but is engaged by Iemon. Hirosaki manages to draw sword and defend himself. Screams ring out, the guard will be alerted soon. Toranosuke manages to cut down Hirosaki, Iemon pushes the other man away and the 3 flee into the night.
Toranosuke returns furtively to his village in Western Owari and leaves Nezumi with his parents. He and Iemon decide to leave the next day, to keep a low profile following the killing of Hirosaki. The next morning they leave for the Kiso river, to visit Genzaburō. It is the 3rd year of Eiroku, and the village is abuzz with the news that the lord of Owari, Oda Nobunaga, has defeated and killed Imagawa Yoshimoto at Okehazama.
Each scenario followed on from the events of the previous one, sometimes I used an encounter table from a RPG to prompt an idea. You could also use any one of a number of similar ‘decision makers’ from RPGs. During the rescue scenario, the bandit’s second in command Goro, rolled a number of fumbles and at one point I thought, “this guy is useless.” It naturally followed on that perhaps Toranosuke had said something similar out loud and a grudge had developed between them. That, combined with the fact that the last raid scenario had been on a road rather than near a river, prompted the scenario that followed. This kind of thing is much harder to do in a 2-player campaign, but is very easy in a solo campaign, after all, it’s not like the other player is going to complain. I think too often there’s a temptation to try and run a solo game or campaign the same way you’d run a 2-player one, but solo games give you much more freedom over certain aspects of the campaign. Games don’t have to be ‘fair,’ there are more things you can do with hidden movement, and most importantly, you can develop a realistic and coherent narrative to your campaign.