Of the games I'm currently running, the L5R one set in the fictional (even by setting standards) City of Webs is on hiatus while the group plays in a HALO game a friend is running (I think I mentioned that yesterday.) At the same time, I find myself heavily pondering and musing what to do in my L5R game. That means that this may be one of several posts about L5R you get from me this week. Sorry for the non-L5R fans, but aside from this I'll try to keep things on a level approachable by everyone.
Six Months Later....
My Friday group has gotten used to this, but I use that game as time to experiment. Last game we tried to get the feel of a fantasy novel into a game - complete with a Farm Boy of Prophecy - and it worked out really well. It even ended different than I'd have ever expected a story to, and as a writer I may have to try to use that some day. For the L5R game I wanted to do two things. One, I wanted to run a longer term game. Up until now almost all of my games have been short and fairly story focused. Once the players beat the "big bad" the game was over and we moved on. For this game though, I want it to go until the players want it to stop. Two, I want to play with time skips and make the game generational.
Basically - for two - what I am doing is this. We play a few sessions, generally 4-5, and then I skip ahead. Sometimes it is 6 months, sometimes it is a year, and once I've done 5 years at once. Honestly, there is a good chance that the next one will be nearly a 10 year skip for people, but we'll see what happens. the next arc is likely going to be the longest arc anyhow. The point of this though? I want to make the game generational. The game is about the City of Webs, and the people inside of it. At present were at the very beginning, and the PCs are laying ground work that I'd like to echo through the ages (literally) as the game goes on. I think it would be cool to skip twenty years ahead, and have someone come in to find that the group of ronin they had protecting a village has become bandits, or that the boy they saved and taught bushido to is now a paragon of honor and justice in the world. You get the idea.
To do all that though, I need to keep challenging the players, and see how they impact on the world. For some this is harder than others, but it is a challenge for everyone. Let's take a look at who we have then, shall we?
Junji should be known as Tsi Junji, but in the time line I'm using the Tsi aren't officially recognized yet. He is, however, the proverbial smith of legend. With Great Potential and Prodigy for his school there is honestly not much that Junji can't make, and it is usually of a quality on par with the great masters of the world (without great potential, raises are limited by void. Meaning most master smiths cap out at 5 raises or less.) Junji is currently involved with an underground group that has him set up as their black market weaponsmith. What they do with the weapons he doesn't know, but two of his arrows were used to kill the Lion Champion while the Emperor was in town. Last session we had, Junji lost his leg while defending another PCs swords from someone who wanted them. He also has begun to get tested by an old man named Muramune. Junji's PC has stated that he'd like Junji to die right after finishing a 10 raise sword and leaving a note for someone to gift it to the Emperor for him.
The Challenge: The challenge with Junji is that he is so focused on smithing that it can be hard to get him out of his forge. He is working on this, but at present there is not very much that interests him out there and is likely to be even less now that he only has 1.4 legs, and the 1 is also maimed.
Dantan is the newest PC in the fold. Not because the player is new, but because the players last character died in the first arc. Dantan is an Ide Courtier looking to make his mark on the world, and is a complete snake and (pardon my language) shit stirrer. He is also the hardest person for me to plan for, which is making things interesting and awkward.
The Challenge: the challenge with Dantan is everything. He is the only character in the game that isn't connected to Anaba (yet) and I'm never quite sure what he is going to do next. I'm sure, if he survives long enough, that he will do great things for the game. He just needs to survive, and I need to have a long chat with the player about what he wants to do.
Born Kakita Hikaru, Kumo Hikaru married into the fictional minor imperial family known as the Kumo (this predates the official Spider clan, so shut up :P) The Spider are weavers, and they have the best silk in the empire. The Emperor gets one of their kimono every year, and they are always his finest kimono that he has. Hikaru is noble, and has been from the beginning (I mean royalty here.) He is also content. Hikaru loves his wife, and works to help his clan out. This has been mostly in a courtly manner, but also with helping them realize some further uses for their wondrous silk. Of late, Hikaru has shown some signs of coming out of his shell, but he is probably one of the two hardest to show a meaningful impact of history on the city, aside from continuing the Kumo silk dominance in the empire.
The challenge: The challenge with Hikaru is his contentment, but I thinkI've found a few ways to get him out of his shell. He has recently dueled with a Scorpion Kenshinzen, and that seemed to wake him up a little. Other events are coming that will impact his life in both ways small and large. Also amusing is the fact that everyone is convinced that his Scorpion Mother in Law has her daughter as a Scorpion Agent. Maybe I should go with that.
Dani is strange in that his concept was "Dragon Clan Ninja." He's using the Mirumoto Bushi school, but has also taken skills like Stealth and Investigate to help with being a clan ninja that was trained off a shadowy branch of the traditional Mirumoto path of swordsmanship. To fulfill this goal, Dani is trying to take over the underworld in the City of Webs, particularly how it exists in the shady district known as Anaba. He has already taken over a small gang, and is working it into a profitable and highly trained group. Soon he will be expanding territory, assuming the locals don't eat him first. Recently, I launched an anime inspired plotline involving "The Floating World" which has invited Dani to come and fight in it for glory and respect. Refusal is not a good thing.
The Challenge: As far as leaving a mark on the city for 'future generations' Dani has already done it. I can do a lot with just the status of the Vipers (Dani's gang) and what happened to them to show the presence. Dani's player is also running full bore into trying to do these things, and leave a mark, which is also making it easier. At the same time, I get the feeling that Dani's player is looking/expecting more bad things to happen from what he is doing. Leaving me wondering, just how much I should press on the gas for him.
Spider is a ronin with amnesia. She woke up in a heimin's hut, having been pulled from a river, with no memories of who she is or how she got there. Her sheet has "Death Seeker 1, Matsu Bushi 2, Matsu Bushi 3" written down under techs, so it was probably an interesting life that left her here. Spider is probably one of the few characters i'm not worried about. Why? Because this isn't a character that is meant to leave a mark on the world directly, but rather to be a very strong story about who they were and how they ended up where they are. For which I already have the basic outline in my head. Still, fun angles are always welcome.
The Challenge: As I said, Spider isn't someone I'm necessarily worried about leaving a mark on the world. One, because she probably will on accident. Two, because I want to execute the character's story well and properly. Hopefully it will work out.
Yasuki Dajan is the other character going with a more personal story than impacting the city. The player wants a romantic tragedy, and they have it in the form of a romantic affair with their boss. Dajan's life has become even more interesting of late. He killed his clan's ambassador (and his direct superior) for his love, and is now being blackmailed by a heimin actress. The woman's first demand? Keep the arriving Kuni Witch Hunters out of a specific area.
The Challenge: The Challenge with Dajan isn't with what to do, it is with how far to twist the knife. The player seems to love being tormented, which is awesome to play into, but I don't want to ruin the character. At the same time, affairs like what Dajan has rarely end well. Which makes the question, where does it end?
That is the game in a nutshell. The characters are the driving focus, and I'm trying to make the game feel like one of those shows where it is about these 4-6 different people, how their lives intersect, and how they don't. I'm open to suggestions on any of the PCs (though, obviously, I'll take it with a large mountain of salt if you're one of my players.)
Tomorrow, we go back to regularly scheduled programming.