Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Attacking Past Victories

This Friday sees my L5R game once again being played and the conclusion to the first major political event in the game - the party to announce the PCs to the Courts in the Imperial city the game is set in. The first part of the party was mostly setting the stage with the PCs getting ready, showing to where the party would be held, and the order in which the various NPCs arrived. I'm playing it up with the same drama as I would a major battle scene, because that is - in essence - exactly what this is.

However, on Friday we enter a different phase of the battle. Everyone has arrived. Introductions have been made. Gifts have been given. A few ties to PCs backgrounds (one of the PCs has a sister who is Lion's Pride, and she showed up) have even been estabished. All the "busy" work has been done, and now the members of the party can relax, enjoy the entertainment, enjoy the refreshments, and get to knifing each other in the back.

One of the things that keeps coming up in my planning sessions is how some form of negative politics will begin, and one way that comes up every time is to attack the PCs with their most recent victory. It was a good victory, even a great victory. The kind that will put their names in the Ikoma histories for generations to come. However, it was also a bloody victory and over 70% of the "lead" PCs command died in achieving it.

This is where I get nervous. I like the idea. It has the potential for a lot of drama. The PC who would be attacked with it is a bushi and has brash and beyond that is very emotional (Matsu...) so it could be great. On the other hand, it seems wrong to use a moment of victory to begin an attack.

On the meta level I worry that my players (not the characters, the players) would feel that I am criticizing their play. This is a stupid notion as they're all very strong players and we have a good separation of IC and OOC. In fact, I bet the ones that read this blog will see this, then message me to do my worst. Still, it is a worry there. It always will be when it comes to political play because everything you do can always be twisted to look bad (or to look good) but it's the people attacking you that you're likely going to hear the loudest.

I am going to do it. I kind of have to, if for no other reason than to help show the good and the bad of the Court and the people in the city. I have to challenge the PCs on their disadvantages, and L5R is a system rife with social flaws that aren't often exploited in the more military side of things.

Beyond this though, I am keeping my goals simple and to the point:

  • One political "exchange" per PC that is focused on them
  • One assassination attempt - to introduce the next big villain of course
  • Closure to the night
With luck it will go off without a hitch. The important thing is that first bullet point. I need to go in with a plan in place for at least one 'political' exchange for each PC to drag them into the courts. How they react will determine the outcome, but people are here as much to test them as to meet them and that has to happen.


  1. At least to my reading of Samurai/Rokugani ethics, if they lost the soldiers in the process of winning, criticizing them will be difficult. Possibly noting that they were wasteful of resources, but samurai are suppose to die for the honor and glory of their lord and the Empire. Unless the loss of soldiers has made the army/Empire vulnerable in some way, or some particular subfaction within the force was "unfairly" used, attacking them for losing so many troops will be a dangerous route to follow (as it questions the honor of the slain samurai).

  2. seaofstarsrpg, as a player in the above mentioned game, and a long time L5R GM, you have just completely outlined what I had envisioned as my social counter attack should anyone come at my CO with that sort of thing. The problem we'll really have is we have a group that is REALLY good at killing, and not very good at talking. If a skilled courtier really comes down on us, and we attempt to commit social violence in retaliation, we're going to look roughly as competent as if that courtier came at us with a sword; so ultimately we have to hope to heck we have garnered some allies who can keep all the sharp edges out of it.