Saturday, May 22, 2010

Letters from Mesutsume

This is the story of Matsu Mesutsume, born Ikoma Mesutsume, and daughter of Ikoma Tsuyokaze. This is the story of 'Razor Paw', a special, and now retirned, gunsen of the Lion Spear Elite, originally under the command of Taisa Akodo Heihachi. The story is told through the letters that Mesutsume regularly sent home to her father while serving with her unit, and serves as the only directly observed history of the five wars in which Razor Paw participated left to the Lion Clan.

Recently re-discovered in a storage room of Shiro Sano Ken Hayai by Ikoma Masshiro, the letters have been restored and copied over to a more lasting medium. The original letters were presented to the Akodo Daimyo as a Winter Court gift, upon his arrival to the castle, and copies are now being entered into the Ikoma, Isawa, and Imperial libraries. Famed Scorpion playwright, Bayushi Tenko, is said to be working on a theater adaptation of the story, with plans for the final act to be the largest and grandest ever seen.

The story of Razor Paw, as told through these letters, covers the 8 years from 575 to 583, and holds details of the Lion's wars against the Dragon, Crane, and the so-called Ogre Empire of the North West Territories (now restored to the Unicorn), as well as the Battle of the Last Kitsu, and a mock-war with the Crab.

Letters from Mesutsume - Age 14
Letters from Mesutsume - Ages 15-16
Letters from Mesutsume - Ages 17-18
Letters from Mesutsume - Ages 18-22 & Epilogue

OOC Information
The links above are to the in-character letters I wrote to the GM after every session of a Legend of Five Rings game that he ran. The letters are all from my character Matsu Mesutsume (originally Ikoma Mesutsume), and are primarily to her father Ikoma Tsuyokaze (originally Daidoji Tsuyokaze). I've put the letters up here partially because I wanted to, and partially at the request of the GM and players of the game who wanted to be able to see them all in one go. At present, they are all posted as they were sent. Quick writes that were sent to the GM without editing. Though, I have begun to start cleaning them up (starting with this page), and hopefully they'll look a bit more...professional (for lack of a better word) soon.

As said, the game ran covering 8 years in the lives of members of Razor Paw. The game was set in 575, but the GM took heavy liberties with the L5R setting. For one thing, the Lioness legion (which, in canon, isn't founded until 1030 or later) is well established in the game. Numerous other liberties were taken as well, but if you are familiar with L5R, you shouldn't have any problems following along. Even if you're not familiar with L5R, I think you shouldn't have any issues following along.

The game was a true war story, well, several war stories actually. There was a decent PC fatality rate, and even higher NPC rate. At the end of almost every campaign, Razor Paw had suffered nearly 75% (or more) fatalities, and near total casualties if you included injuries. The group had a knack for finding the worst place to be in, and then 'winning' and helping to turn the tide of the battle. Making the members, and the group, heroes of almost every battle they were apart of. It didn't come as much of a surprise that by the end of the game, the surviving Day 1 PCs were all near Glory 10, and in the last battle all would have reached it had it been calculated.

I'll happily answer any questions I can about the story. The letters are all IC accounts of what happened from Mesutsume's perspective, and they were written as a form of IC journal not necessarily to tell the story. Though, they do seem to tell it well, some things are just not said.

The Characters of note are numerous, so I will just go over the PCs I think.

Matsu Chengensai - born a matsu, Chengensai was a bit of a runt of the litter. His training was haphazard and scattered, moving through several dojos before making it to the Ikoma for Omoidasu training; where he promptly hit a growth spurt and went from being a runt to standing over 6' tall. His cluttered training played a hindering role in the beginning of the game for Chengensai, particularly when it was found he had never been taught to use a sword. His teachers having all assumed that he had either already learned the sword, or would be taught it in the next phase of his training - which never came due to him being moved about.

Ikoma Tsumaro - Tsumaro was an interesting man. His father, a yojimbo from the Phoenix clan that married into the lion, taught him the way of the sword, spear, and bushido, instilling in Tsumaro an idealized viewpoint of how Rokugan should work. From the very beginning Tsumaro set out to be a defender, and served as a yojimbo to Kitsune Kaori during her time with the group. However, beneath the quiet nature of a humble yojimbo, lay a true terror to the enemies of the Lion.

Matsu Shotaro - Shotaro has perhaps the simplest back story of all the starting PCs. He was raised Matsu, and had many sisters who were all stronger than him. From this he learned perseverance, how to take a hit and keep going. His desire to win, and to learn, led him down an unlikely path when the Akodo Scout Akodo Taka showed up to teach the group about terrain.

Matsu Yoko - The original leader of the group, Yoko was a large woman who at age 14 already had a strength of 4, and was moving quickly on to strength 5. A straight forward person who truly enjoyed exercising, Yoko also had a way with words that absolutely devastated Mesutsume in their numerous encounters. There was bad blood between Mesu and Yoko from the beginning of the game due to a meeting before the game began. Something that set Mesutsume up as needing to prove her strength to Yoko, and ultimately served as a major catalyst for the changes Mesutsume went through in life.

Ikoma Mesutsume - you'll learn alot about her on your own from reading the letters, as she is the author of them. Mesutsume is a one of a kind spear fighter, and the daughter of another one of a kind spear fighter. Great Potential Spears seems to just run in her family, along with a penchant for killing people on the battlefield. Mesutsume was heavily marked by her ancestors, the Lion and Crane blood in her not getting along. She was born with crane features and light blue eyes, her hair a natural 50/50 mix of Red and White streaks. Perhaps one of the 'loudest' characters I've ever played visuals wise, it also became something of a theme in the challenges Mesu faced, both internally and externally.

Kitsune Kaori - A shugenja from a minor clan called the Kitsune (or fox), Kaori ended up in the group as part of an Imperial edict ceasing hostilities between the Lion and the Fox. A spirit fox with the ability to change forms, Kaori's deepest desire was to become a true samurai, which Tsumaro convinced her through action, deed, and word, meant she wanted to be a true Lion. Kaori's trickster ways got her into trouble on more than one occasion, but she was also the key to many of Razor Paw's death defying victories.

Akodo Toki - A late addition to the group, Akodo Toki became the groups medic. In his background he had been engaged to marry into the Phoenix, though a Scorpion assassin put an end to those plans when he (the assassin) killed the bride-to-be and her father. Toki arrived to late to save either of them, but did manage to injure the assassin with a spear he had on hand. To his last day Toki held onto that spear, in the hopes of finishing the job some day.

Ikoma Zenko - A spymaster who was assigned to the group by a shady Lion tactician named Genji. Zenko seemed to struggle against his training during his time with Razor paw, especially in the face of the highly honorable Chengensai, Kaori, and Tsumaro. By the end he had taken steps towards becoming a true tactician and a full fledged Lion bushi instead of the spy he started off as.

Matsu Tomi - A Matsu woman who was trained by the Akodo due to her small size. Tomi was looking to become a Beast Master, and as such already had a companion, a war cat named Kiba. Tomi's ability to speak with animals, along with her happy go lucky nature gave her a bit of a rocky intro to the group, but by the end she was a vital element to the morale of the unit.

The beginning of the story can be found here.

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