Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's in a Name?

My friends are encouraging me to write more so here I am writting more :P. No but really what's in a name? I think one of the more important aspects to designing a game is to name the campaign you want to run.

Why is this important? Well I think the name conveys the games themes. It helps the players get an idea of what to expect and what to look forward to in relation to character creation and story.

Take my new tag Honor's Shadow. It was/is the name of a game that I was setting up for some friends who had never played L5R before. Sadly life being what it is means the game may not get run (moving). But that doesn't mean I can't share the game idea's right?

So why did I go with a name like Honor's Shadow? Well it conveyed a double meaning to me. On the one hand I wanted to set up a game in which the Scorpion and Crane were rocketing towards a war over the insults laid between Shosuro Jimen and Kakita Noritoshi. Neither men acted with the utmost of honor and such a conflict took place in the shadows. In the game I was setting up the conflict grew to be larger but still occurred in the shadows of Rokugan. No one wanted to consider the possibility that the Emerald Champion and the Kakita daimyo were waging a private war using both their clan and the Emperor's resources.

On the flip side the name was also intended to be a bit more sinister  If the players had explored this option the game would take a more ..... supernatural bent. The Shadow Dragon would rear it's ugly head as the Sparrow Clan slowly became corrupted from the inside by Daigotsu and the Spider. The players would be given the chance to stop it but if it went unchecked a new age could dawn on the Empire and the Sparrow could become a cautionary tale of vigilance.

And there you have it, Honor's Shadow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Owl Clan

The Owl clan. If you're gonna have a Bat clan in the game you might as well have an Owl clan right?

So for those who haven't picked up Imperial History II the Owl clan is the clan of Hantei featured in the Togashi Dynasti chapter. Their charter in is to handle non human threats to the empire that aren't shadowlands related. So oni and taint are the Crab job, the Owl will handle Naga relations and taming Nezumi. Togashi's empire is filled with more magical critters and thus there is a stronger need for a clan that specifically deals with otherworldly beings. So translating them to a normal game can be somewhat challenging if you want to keep the essence of what is presented for the Owl while finding a need for them.

But I like owls and the Hantei dynasty has a warm place in my heart (I still wish they were ruling). So integrating them into a normal game presented a nice challenge. So here goes ....

Shortly after the Destroyer War ends Iweko is put in the position of having the empire accept the Spider clan and in exploring the former Ivory Kingdoms. Just as important though is reconciling the traditions of old with forging a new path in an uncertain future. In steps the Owl clan.

To show her respect for the past Iweko instructs her imperial historians to find any living members among the Imperial families who may have had Hantei blood. These scant few individuals pool together to take on the Hantei family name. Carrying on the Hantei name these indivudals will serve as a reminder of Rokugans glorious past and traditions. Iweko doesn't stop there however, chosing to honor the Toturi line Toturi Shigekawa becomes daimyo of the fledgling Owl clans second family as the Toturi daimyo. So now we have the Hantei and the Toturi in one clan!

Moving forward the Hantei and Toturi families adopt a number of ronin shugenja. The Empress grants her blessing for them to combine into a single family and to honor one of the most powerful shugenja's known to the Rokugan they take on the Sezaru family name.

Mechanically speaking we make use of the Hantei bushi school as the main bushi family. The Sezaru family would make use of the Seppun shugenja school from Imperial Histories II. Meanwhile the Otomo Diplomat school from that book would become the Hantei courtier school, with the Hantei taking on the responsibilities of leading family in both bushi and courtier. Similar in structure to say the Bayushi family does business. There isn't really a good equivalent for the Toturi family as far as bushi schools go. Their initial training could start out as Lion or even Toku. However the advanced school, Tsudao's Legion would fit in very well as a school for the Toturi family.

Their role in the empire going into the Age of Exploration is to help keep an eye on the Spider clan while also reminding Rokugan of it's past. The non human bent of the Owl clans mechanics makes them ideal for helping to lead the development of the colonies as the clans face down a number of non human enemies. Just think how different the War of Serpents would have been if there was something like the Owl clan around.

But is another way the Owl clan could be used outside of the Togashi timeline. Just take them as is and apply them to the Emerald Stars setting. Since alien races are beings from the other realms the Owl clan could be the Emperors first contact clan. They help to mediate the disputes of the native life on the worlds that they encounter.