So far, our node structure for Legacy of Disaster looks like this:
It is important to mention that there is nothing sacred about the links between nodes 2, 3, and 4 (the guard post in Tochigi). The PCs could conceivable reach node 4 from any node in Tochigi, but the linked nodes are the most likely.
Node 5: Hida Patrol
Reaching this node requires the PCs to follow the thief’s trail from Tochigi to Wachimasu, and this is likely the first time the PCs will encounter a true adversary. As such, it is important to remember that every NPC needs to have a goal. These Crab bushi are not murdering psychopaths (unless they are in your game, in which case this encounter becomes much different); their duty is to patrol the Crab-Crane border, and escort any trespassers to Wachimasu. This encounter can turn hostile, or even violent, but the impetus is with the PCs.
Keep in mind that the PCs may bypass this node entirely. There is a very real chance that they won’t even find the thief’s tracks in Tochigi, and instead choose to travel to Wachimasu because they found the clues about the mysterious woman leaving through the western gate, or because Doji Haruki believes that Hida Samano is responsible for the missing daisho. In either case, don’t get caught up in trying to predict every route the PCs might take. You have a patrol unit with a clearly defined goal; keep the border safe. Let your creativity take it from there.
Node 6: Wachimasu
I’m treating this as the starting node for the village as a whole. In my own game, this will likely be the village street just as the PCs enter through the gate. I’m going to use the description of Wachimasu to point the players toward important locations, and I’ll use the villagers to provide the initial clues for this section of the scenario. It might seem cliché, but villagers are an excellent resource when it comes to giving players direction. “I haven’t seen anyone suspicious enter the village, but the town guard might know more.”
As discussed in Part 1, we need to provide the players with three clues for any conclusion that we want them to draw. In this case, we want them to draw the conclusion that the thief headed north, toward the mountains. Keep that in mind as we go through the clues provided by the adventure.
Node 6A: Hida Samano
As I stated previously, this node is a dead end. Samano doesn’t know anything about the theft, though he may be able to provide additional context for the identity of the thief if the PCs reveal that to him. While this encounter might be entertaining and potentially provide the PCs with a new set of travelling papers, it does not help them figure out where to go next.
Node 6B: The Inquisitive Adolescent
Noticing this kid is quite difficult, and I may decide to lower the difficulty, or provide my players with a bonus if they are specific with their search through town. The boy points the PCs to the inn, but, more importantly, he also tells them that he spotted the woman heading north.
Node 6C: The Town Guard
With a bit of prompting, the guard will reveal that a young woman entered Washimasu recently, carrying Seppun traveling papers. The scenario is non-specific about whether the guards are aware that the thief took up residence at the inn. For the sake of providing enough clues, I’m going to assume that one of the guards saw the woman go to the inn and saw her headed toward the north gate. This can become a real problem area in terms of clue density if you don’t make this alteration.
Node 6D: The Inn
Really, the inn only has one clue. Due to this, the scenario could potentially grind to a halt without the above alteration. However, assuming a similar alteration to the scenario has been made, the PCs should now have enough information to conclude that they need to head north.
Our node structure now resembles the following:
Of course, there are other nodes present in Washimasu, but many of them are dead ends. To increase the robustness of the adventure, I will most likely add additional clues to these nodes. As an exercise, invent some clues to place in these barren nodes. Feel free to post any good ones in the comments!