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This was one I figured out with searches from details elicited in the asking, but posting it because this isn't the first time I've searched for it.

It was a paperback novel, standard size, and had a cover featuring Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the art style being of the sort from Baen or Del Ray. I read it somewhere in the late 1990s, I think, as a book that my brother had bought. The protagonist works for a company that does virtual reality simulations, and he has an alter ego within the game as Robin Hood, in his case working against his company at times, which he believes is either exploiting aspects of virtual reality, or stifling it. I remember things being very immersive in the game, to the point where someone is incapacitated because their character was mortally wounded within the game. That's also the mild twist I remember. The protagonist is on the ropes, either facing down one of the bad guys in the company, or against some character within the game, when suddenly a samurai leaps in and fights his opponent, struck down but only after taking the enemy out, and it turns out to be a Japanese CEO who had been looking at investing in the project, and had previously been thought to possibly be an enemy.

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The novel in question was The Sherwood Game by Esther M. Friesner, published by Baen Books in 1995.

Front cover of The Sherwood Game

Carl Sherwood had always dreamed of being a swashbuckling hero. Alas, buckling that old swash is not so easy when the word "computer geek" could have been coined just for you. And what's the use of being the sharpest AI software wizard at Manifest Inc.—purveyor of andromechs to the gentry, and the big player in virtual reality—when your social life consists of a VR suit and a six pack?

But if Carl's real life scenario is a bust, his VR life is getting richer by the minute. Deep in the company computing system lurk the components of Carl's special baby, "The Sherwood Game," complete with its self-aware main character, Robin Hood. Carl tells himself he's just working all the bugs out before he reports the results to his boss, but the truth is, he could sooner part with a chunk of his own flesh and blood.

Which is what Robin will make him do before this game is done…

And it seems I misremember him styling himself as Robin Hood. Rather, Robin is an AI who seems to not be under Carl's control as much as he thought. And from looking at the last chapter of the copy available to borrow from Archive.org, it's the company's CEO, Mr. Lyons, who shows up as Richard the Lion-hearted, and then Mr. Genjimori as a samurai, and it's the main character who's nearly incapacitated after taking a sword to the leg (such pain and death apparently not having been part of the game until the antagonist added it).

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