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  1. Yeah, that's what we figured. Probably still trumped Sugai in status and hence authority, but not so much that they'd be obligated to take her side.
  2. He can change things a lot for the party, but it can be really cool if done well. Spoilers ahead for how it went down with my group. So our Kyo was our best roleplayer's character, and managed to get along really well with the other PCs. As the plot went along they became all-in Hitoshi sympathizers, and Kyo really stoked the flames of discontent against the Crane referees' clear bias against the poor kid. He convinced them this must be happening a lot in these Championships, and so he made them consider Sugai might well have been cheated last time, especially as the current champion spoke nothing against the evident corruption of the proceedings. They really wanted to "kingmake" Hitoshi the new Champion to spite and weaken the corrupt authorities; they wanted to defeat the opposition in the final tournament while deliberately losing to him. But of course the matchup schedule "forced" the Riku-Hitoshi duel, which screwed their plans. The swapped sword thing only added injury to insult, and so they were in a pretty dark mood when the pursuit of Sugai scene happened. Here Kyo convinced the group that the incriminating circumstances against Sugai seemed too obvious and convenient for the Crane, and they just dropped the pursuit at the bridge and went back (after a pretty extensive OOC conversation on whether they, as not yet samurai, had the legal duty to take the side of the Topaz Champion over the presumptive word of another samurai; as the lore didn't go into detail on whether the position entailed special law enforcement authority or a specific right to commandeer warriors of another Great Clan, they concluded their characters would not consider themselves duty-bound beyond a reasonable doubt). I docked them a few Honor points for thinking along such subversive, conspiratorial lines, but they still stuck to the decision. So they went back to the "bad ending" where Yuikimi and Riku are dead, but they were actually really happy with their breadth of agency and the way the outcomes reflected their favoured course of action. Hitoshi made it to his gempuku, the Crane were utterly shamed, and Kyo even convinced them to let the Scorpion NPC win the Championship as the cherry on top/final screw you. They had a lot of fun "defying the system". Sure, they'll run into trouble if they stick to that mindset in this setting, but I think this was a one-off case of collective pique. So yeah getting back to the original question, Kyo may seem at odds with the "natural" course of the adventure, but never underestimate the players' desire or ability to deviate from what's expected of them, especially when it's too obvious...
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