What if the world died yesterday?
What if the world died yesterday and was completely reborn?
What if the world died yesterday and was completely reborn and you were the only one who noticed?
And what if you could pull skills and abilities and even powers from the old world and use them in this new world?
This is the opening little blurb for John Wick's meta-game "The Flux". Last Friday, in my usual L5R table top game I decided I would spring it on my players and see what happened. I figured that if they didn't like it, it was easy enough to explain the one session lapse by a trip into Yume-Do (the realm of dreams) and just pretend it never happened. Luckily, things went better than that. So, I figured I'd post what I learned for doing this.
Timing Is Key
Some of the players, while liking the flux in general, wished my timing with it was a bit better. Essentially, they came into the game and were all geared up to jump back into Rokugan, and then I sprang the Flux on them and dropped them into a kind of pulp/batman-esque modern day setting. Now, part of the problem with this was that the game just came off a small hiatus where - amongst other things - we had a five year gap. This was on me. However, at the same time, I think the suddenness of the transition was also good for it in its own way too, even if it kind of blind sided my players.
The reason? It was unexpected and counter to what they possibly thought was going to happen. They came in, geared up to be in character and get to work, and then got hit by this. I was hoping this would help with the shock of the suddenness of the world changing around them, and them having a different life, would help with catching the full feel. How well it worked remains to be seen.
Preparation Is Key
The Flux took a lot of prep. For one thing, the GM makes the players new characters and there are some key things here that need to be considered. For one thing, the whole idea behind the flux is that the players are still playing the same characters, just different incarnations of them. The ultimate vampire in one world, could be the ultimate knight in another, but they are still one of the ultimates of what they do. In much the same way, I had to capture the essence of the characters in my game. Ultimately, I (and from what was said, they) think I did a good job here, but it was also hard to catch it.
Also, you can't just drop new mechanics on people without help for the character, but you can't give a person a 20 page document to read before game either. Which meant I had to summarize the important aspects of their new lives in a page or less. If nothing else, this was great practice for doing character write ups.
Things Are Just Beginning
The final verdict was that people enjoyed it, but they want to focus primarily on Rokugan with just small excursions out. This is fine by me, and has in fact been the plan since the get-go. That being said, I enjoy the freedom that the Flux gives us as GM and players. If I'm really feeling the need to do a different system, I can switch to it. If a player needs a change in life, we can do it with the flux. Essentially, it provides a great way to stave off burn out. We'll just have to see how things go. If anything drastic happens, I'll keep you guys updated.