My L5R game is in a weird position right now. My players headed out into the wilds in an inadvisable move and ended up in an encounter. At first the intent was just have the encounter, perhaps give some backstory on the area. However, as I developed the encounter it became more than that. It became a major encounter, complete with the kind of lethality you can expect when you run across major encounters in the plot. This has left me in kind of a mixed spot, and today I want to talk about it.
Side Adventure Or Main Event
Side quests can be dangerous. This is true in RPGs at the table, in video games, and heck even in board games. That's not a question. Sometimes side quests are the most dangerous events in the game. They're there just to prove you can beat the game at it's hardest and it's most "I'm going to kill you" tendencies.
However, these deadly side plots are not the ones you just stumble upon. They're not the ones that grab you for stepping just a little off the path. Main Events can have things like that, sure, but they also have their own warnings and signs of what is coming up. Sometimes all it is is a room full of health packs before the boss battle.
The point is, either way there's a bit more warning about what is going on. You don't just get pounced by maximum peril.
And yet, that is what can happen. Random Encounters can be dangerous. PCs understand when they go into dangerous circumstances. And the end result of the dice going bad is what? Disappointment over a character story being unfulfilled and then a new game starting up sometime soon. So what is the problem?
Which brings me to the crux of my problem. I'm nervous that this encounter, if it goes wrong, could end this game early. Or worse, it could only end it for some of the characters, putting those players into the awkward position of bringing in people later into the game without the same grounding. I'm scared that if that happens, the players will think that I did things that were unfair or uncool that took that from them.
My solution to this is to go forward. I trust my players. I trust my game. And I need to trust myself to be able to handle things. Did this encounter build into more than originally expected? Sure, but was what happened also possible from the beginning and something the PCs knew they could run into? Also yes.
The fact is I have an awesome game. Last session a player made a choice knowing it could and likely would get their character killed (drowned in this case) because it was the in character thing to do, even if out of character he knew it might be the wrong choice. I have to respect that.
And so, I guess I'll just have to see what happens on this unexpected detour that has just become a major part of my game's story.