Most of the games that I run tend to be action based games. Fights will have the "fight for the session" or players will be working in events that are largely driven by action and violence. I don't see anything wrong with it. The players in my game like these stories, are free to explore other options if they want (in my game, I mean,) but they also tend to make characters who can play into the action genre that shows up a lot in my games. It is just part of how things go. However, with the current (read: second) generation of my L5R game things are, so far, going slower due to the more investigatory focus the game has. It's led to some interesting developments with the characters in the game, and I kind of like it. Today, I want to talk about that.
To understand some of what I am getting out of this you need to understand the investigation. The matter is quite simple, one of the rice villages for the area the PCs are in is late in its shipment. The players, being magistrates, have been sent out to investigate what has happened to the rice.
The problem is 2 fold from what the players have found out. The first part is that some of the rice (one shipment's worth) is being blackmailed by someone and is not going to anyone but the blackmailer. The second part is that another shipment's worth of rice (from the same harvest) has been claimed by someone close to the local daimyo to hold in trust/protection for the peasants of the village.
Essentially what we have are two wagons full of rice one of which is supposed to go to the city that protects the village, and from there to the Emperor, and neither of them is doing it. The question therein is which wagon should be the one to go?
This is where things have been the most fascinating for me as the GM. Depending on the character and their world views a case can be made for either side in this little ordeal. To a modern, western mind it might be a bit more cut and dry but ultimately things can be portrayed in a couple of interesting ways and it is because of this, and the slower pace, that I am getting to find out more about the characters in my game faster than I normally do.
For example, two of the PCs have been very trusting and protective of the peasants and seem to definitely come down on the side that it is the first wagon that should be going and the people involved in that - all the people involved in it - are the criminals to be punished. They don't know yet what the blackmail is, or whom the blackmailer and victim of blackmail may be, but they are fairly sure it is what is going on with one of the wagons and that is where the blame is. However, one of the other PCs seems like they would have problems caring less about the intricacies of the situation because the job was to recover one wagon of rice, and hell, they just happened to find a wagon of rice from the village that was supposed to be paying it. The fourth PC has yet to sound off on the matter, and that could take things in even more interesting terms.
These persepctives though give a lot about the character. Two of the four samurai in the current party believe in the ideal that the samurai are there to protect the peasants and to care for them. Sure, they mask it - at least partially - with talk that it is more efficient to keep the peasants you need doing manual labor well fed and healthy, but it still boils down to "proper treatment for the socially lower class." This isn't an uncommon view in PCs in Rokugan, but it is still worth mentioning, and noting, as I go forward in the campaign. After all, these two characters are more likely to respond 'well' to situations that put peasants at risk in some way or another.
The other character, as is common with this player, shows signs of being on a dangerous path already. The "get the job done" mentality can be great and fun, it will definitely earn him points with some of the people that will be directly involved with his success in the city. As for the fourth, well, time will tell I suppose.
The other fun thing I've found is watching the different actions taken by the players. In more action focused games the group is often scared to split up because when you split up and a fight happens everyone dies. With the game being more social, and slower in pace, splitting up tends to make more sense. Especially when it comes to the different social backgrounds the group has.
For example, one of the characters - amusingly one of the Scorpion - seems to be geared towards tackling issues directly. She wants to pull someone aside, get them alone, and then just ask them bluntly to confirm/disprove her theories. The others are pushing for more subtlety, at least at first, but also taking actions of their own.
The ronin is very trusting of other ronin, at least so far. He also feels perfectly fine going off by himself to find things out and cluing people in to what he finds later. This works in well with the character's driving desire to know the truth of a situation, but not to necessarily share what he learns. I am also looking forward to what happens if the group doesn't find out all the answers to their questions before it is time to go.
The fourth character who seems to not be siding one way or the other has been revealing enough in his own actions. For one thing he is staying back a bit and analyzing everything. He also seems to step forward when there is a need to intimidate or creep someone out. this makes sense considering he is Crab clan and Kuni, but is still worth noting.
I have full faith that these things would come out in my normal type of game, but they are comingout faster with the shift in focus and I like it. The change of pace is also refreshing in another couple of ways - it seems to promote more RP - and while things do take a bit longer to happen at times I think people are enjoying things more than they might otherwise. If nothing else, it is proving a most worthwhile experiment.
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