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July 1st, 2013


02:02 am - Legend of the Five Rings
I played Legend of the Five Rings tonight in an interesting scenario by Michael H that put together war, arranged marriages, and courtly maneuvering. There were five pregenerated PCs with name, stats, and the same basic setup: all were honorable unmarried women of the Crane clan friendly with each other. The hook was that we all had marriages arranged to the borderline dishonorable Scorpion clan to cement an alliance in our ongoing war with the Lion clan.

Laura as Asano the Shugenja / magician, younger sister of Kumi
Ben as Kumi the Poet, younger sister of Kumi, secret lover of Taehime
Madeline as Yasuyo the Courtier, older sister of Kumi and Asano, formerly betrothed to Tama's brother Goro killed in battle ten years ago
Michael S as Taehime the Warrior / Scout, younger sister of Tama, secret lover of Kumi
Myself as Tama the Warrior / Guard, older sister of Taehime,

Our betrotheds were:

Bayushi Renga - the beautiful poet, rumored to be possibly mad
Shosura Roukai - a wealth-seeker climbing out of misfortune; rumored to have unsavory connections
Bayushi Garou - a general who had killed a family member years ago; rumored to be strict but fair
Shasura Anou - a widower with a 4-year-old daughter; rumored to be holding a torch for his dead wife
Bayushi Kabe - a warrior implicated in treaty breaking years ago, but honorable since; rumored to be gone for long periods in duty for the emperor

I don't much like Japanese settings in general. Still, it was a fun scenario. High points for me:

1) Brainstorming background that included our families, the secret affair, and the dead brother.

2) Our friendly negotiating over who should be betrothed to which man, which brought up not just what we were willing to tolerate - but how we approached the problem. I was morose and resigned, while most of the others were practical.

3) Switching out parts to play the betrothed in their first conversation with each of us. I was curious to hear more of other people's conversations, though the way we did it did speed things up.

4) The mechanic of putting colored beads into cups for how the prospects of our marriage were shaping up. There were some unclear points, but actions that furthered prospects for a successful marriage resulted in blue beads, while actions that hurt prospects resulted in red beads. In the end, we drew a random bead for whether our betrothed survived the war.

Against the odds, my betrothed survived, while the two lovers both had their betrotheds die. Kumi and Yasuyo seemed leaning towards workable marriages, while mine seemed on a rocky path at best.

Minor issues:

1) The beginning had an information-gathering phase that could be sped up.

2) The dice-pool mechanic was involved, especially for issues that were minor to the point of the scenario.

3) I'm not sure how I would have fixed it, but the failure of Kumi's first poem seemed unsatisfying as did, Taehime's first major stealth - cheating at a drinking game. Those set the characters back, but I felt like they didn't really add to the story. These shouldn't automatically be successful, but somehow it felt that the failures were not very interesting.

Reflection:

I keep coming up with oddball characters. My character was obsessed with honor based on her powers and my interpretation. She was caught between doing well for her family by respecting this marriage, while hating the idea of being married to a dishonorable clan that had killed her brother. This meant a lot of difficult choices between blue and red beads.

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