Posted by: markfender | July 12, 2011

Legend of the Five Rings – The Poison Garden

So, as mentioned last week, I’m running L5R.

I took my basic premise from an idea I read somewhere on the internet – the heir apparent of the Emperor contracts the Shadowlands Taint and must abdicate the throne. He is put in charge of a bunch of hostages to the Empire after a rebellion. This becomes the PC party – a bunch of hostages near the courts of power.

To that basic idea, I added a bunch of history, much backstory about the Rebellion and what caused it (along with all the machinations that occurred during it) and then described the current setting of the Empire. In this way, it’s very Game of Thrones, as in the current story and everyone’s position within it was defined earlier by events during a war.

I left a lot of that stuff open however, allowing my PCs to fit themselves into the backstory. For instance, one player decided that his family rebelled because the Emperor had “taken advantage” of his aunt. I hadn’t known that the Emperor was a lecherous he-beast, but I inserted that bit into the backstory (and in fact, the first adventure is very much about some implications of that). So, a lot of the things my PCs decided to make informed the background of the Rebellion and where people are currently at.

Starting out as hostages means we’re skipping the two most common starting positions of L5R games: the magistrate game and/or the tournament. Which is fine. Those are sound premises, but they get tired after awhile.

I guess the big thing in the room that everyone who ever runs L5R has to talk about is the treatment of the storyline. Well, as a non-CCG player, I don’t give a crap about the storyline. Any bits of it I’ve picked up from occasional dips into those waters have usually annoyed me with their arbitrariness. (Plus, is it me, or is impossible to piece together what actually is happening from AEG’s website? There’s no database of past stories, no clear delineation between CCG editions, and lots of events seem to be happening in other places besides in the fiction on their website. It’s just confusing.) So, I’m sorta setting it at the end of the 1st edition timeline…right before all that card game stuff starts. But, I’ve also changed most of the NPCs from that period of history, too. So, it’s really not Rokugan from 1st edition either. I did, however, steal some NPCs from the storyline. I don’t know much about them, but the small bits I do know seemed cool, so I borrowed their names/pictures/backstories from elsewhere. I did add the Mantis being a Major Clan and the Spider Clan (more as an organizational principle rather than their attempts to infiltrate the Empire). But that’s my big changes.

Here’s the document I made to give to my players before the game started. You can download it and, I don’t know, be impressed with my brilliance, I guess.

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