The game was begun with the idea of it being a generational game. Each generation would be a different group of PCs and focus on their adventures in the made up city Amimono no Toshi (Web City/City of Webs.)
In the first generation the focus was on introducing the city. The game took place 30-50 years before the Scorpion Clan Coup (where the "real" story starts for L5R) and was focused on exactly that, the establishment of the city. In this, players had the chance to define a lot of the city, and the area they focused the most on was the criminal/poor section of the city. There was also some defining of the upper echelons of the host clan (The Kumo Clan, and before you L5R fans jump me this Spider Clan has existed since before L5R's official spider clan.) defining them as vassals of the Otomo family and a very wealthy merchant family with perhaps more political power, especially at home, than anyone has a right to have that close to Imperial City.
In the second generation I mixed it up a bit and laid out stricter ground rules for everyone at char creation. Everyone had to come in at rank 1 (I was more open previous generation) and everyone had to be someone who could function as a magistrate. As magistrates the PCs got to see more of the city - a city prospering and relatively peaceful from the actions of their characters the previous generation - and the area around it. They got to see some of how the Kumo worked on the inside. They also got to see how some of the clans acted around the Kumo. Of course, by the end of the generation things were...different.
The Lost Generation
A friend and former player of this game called the second generation the "lost generation." The term sounds kind of ominous, and it actually kind of is and earned. I have four players in the game (actually just got back up to 5, but 4 for the generation) and of those four a full three of the characters have ended the season with their soul compromised or claimed in some way.
First up was Bayushi Haji, a shosuro actor whose family is actually kuge/in charge of the Bayushi. Haji was introduced to the Lying Darkness (pre-coup Scorpion thought they had some control of it) and has been indulging his new tendencies and power to great effect.
Second up is the ronin Kazuo. Kazuo came into possession of a nemurenai katana known as Truth. Truth was the life's work (literally cost the character his life) of a PC in the first generation and is a very powerful item. Kazuo's personality synergised well with Truth, and in the end he has chosen to dedicate himself towards educating the sword to the cost of his own wants and needs.
Third, and finally, is Isawa Kyoshi. Kyoshi began the generation as Kuni Kyoshi and along with half a rank of taint had a Driven to understand things. Do I really need to go further as to how he became further corrupted?
Actions Of A Generation
Now, above and beyond the becoming lost, this group of PCs also made excellent magistrates. That is, if you were fine with your magistrates finding every secret around them that was there to be found. The PCs discovered and triggered several events that I wasn't expecting to have come up until later generations, but they did it well. This launched aspects of the story forward and brought the Kumo family into contact with something that will be a big part in the family's fall from grace. A fall that the PCs have helped to bring forth.
What this all adds up to is a lot of drastic changes for the City of Webs. Rokugan is a vastly different place now. The Hantei Dynasty has fallen and been replaced by the Toturi family. The clan wars, and countless other military exchanges, have redrawn the lines on the map. All of this means that Amimono No Toshi will be a new city built ontop of the ashes of the old. The question the PCs will get to explore over the early sessions is how much of what they built survived the blaze, and in what form.
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