Actual Play – Kisada for King? (9/27/2010)

GM: Travis Lindquist
Players: Sean, Tracy, Alec, Steve, Omar, Chris and Fattig
System: L5R

Winter Court started with an announcement, something my character has been working towards for most of this campaign. Kisada is marching north to take Toshi Ranbo. He’s claiming regency over the throne until a suitable emperor can be found.

As ranking magistrates, generals, champions and dignitaries of our families, it was up to our heroes to determine who would side with Kisada, who would oppose him and who would remain neutral.

At the end of the session we had a perfectly even distribution of families (7 supporting, 7 opposing and 7 neutral). There were still many families unaccounted for, which we will tackle next time.

What rocked

The player division on this one was fun. We have two players strongly for Kisada (Rei and Shinji), two strongly for staying out of the fight (Washichi and Shimizu), one that opposes him (Tso-Lou), one that acts to oppose by following her personal desires (Miho) and one that just wants as much strife as possible and will support the underdog (Shiko).

This division caused some fun and tense role-playing moments between the PCs.

Jo, Rei’s son, aka Master Tiger caused some real ruckus, including going through these ridiculous efforts to rip apart this War leader (Bayushi Soh) and then blame it on everyone (at least five groups implicated) because with all the knowledge bestowed upon him, he still has the childlike mentality that if implicating one group is good, implicating five is better! He was a pest, as usual, but fun and lead us to some new discoveries.

What could have been improved

I got frustrated because my character has a lot of personal interest in seeing this happen and it felt like her months and months (read: many sessions) of effort were worth less than what others were able to accomplish during the single session. Part of this was a miscommunication. Steve thought he wasn’t going to make the next session so he jockeyed to have one scene with a lot of impact. It makes sense in that light, but as it stands he will be there next session, so I ended up frustrated.

Net result excluding our own families (which we all had jurisdiction over): Rei convinced the Isawa to side with Kisada on the condition that he defer to them in religious matters. Shimizu got the Akodo, Asahina and Doji to remain neutral in the affair with no strings attached. Three-to-one was rough, especially given how much time I had put into this and that I have no idea whether or not I’ll be able to sell Kisada on the whole “defer to the Isawa” business. I got the feeling at the end of the game that if I was Woodbury (a previous player) I would have had the odds stacked much further in Kisada’s favor.

6 thoughts on “Actual Play – Kisada for King? (9/27/2010)”

  1. I can relate. I was trying to do some setup by having my Kuni clanmates chat up the Asako inquisitors to lay groundwork, and have a meeting set up with the Hiruma representative while running off to the Dragon. But it seemed pretty clear that nobody was going to politic outside of our scenes, so that wouldn’t mean much. That’s pretty much as subtle and courtier-esque as Shinji’s going to get as far as maneuvering.

    But only affecting one family per scene means that there’s little way to feel that I can push harder without taking scenes away from opposing players (which goes against the grain for me). It almost feels like it would be better to spend a scene leaning on one or more fellow PCs to try shifting the balance that way.

    Otherwise, Shinji’s warrior enough to push her advantage with the Dragon while she can since that’s a strong group that would otherwise probably sit in the middle. But with 3 scenes at most, I can either go pull the rest of the Crab in line, or pull on the Dragon and hope someone else doesn’t get to the Crab ones first.

    1. I think the angle is to try and get a majority of a clan (as we got with Pheonix) so the rest fall in line. Since Hida, and Kuni are already on it, if we get Kaiu and Hiruma behind us, I think the rest will follow (or at worse go neutral), assuming Travis is controlling them.

      I’m pretty unconvinced that talking to the other players or their characters will have much effect. Our table is full of people who generally want to do what they want to do. Omar/Miho doesn’t seem to have strong convictions yet, so might be convinced one way or the other, but I doubt the others would change their minds unless there was a REALLY compelling reason.

      That said, I think the pretense of courting families, probably won’t mean much in the end. If we are more or less evenly divided as players, the families will be as well. Much as the shadow desires, it’s going to be a bloody battle. Despite Travis’ assurances that there are stronger military forces on Kisada’s side, I’m not sure the actual battle will reflect that (as the players influence is so strong).

  2. I agree that the whole “we’ll join kisada [i]if[/i]…” deal was kind of a rough break since other folks got families to side one way or the other with no strings attached. Still though, I think this line,

    “her months and months (read: many sessions) of effort were worth less than what others were able to accomplish during the single session.”

    isn’t quite true. You engineered this whole debacle, and that’s worth something. You’ve got this whole grand plan coming to fruition, and even if other people oppose it, even if it fails in the end, you’ve steered the course of history. If Team Traditionalists succeeds, all we’ve done is maintain the status quo. If Team Kisada succeeds, you’ve forged a new dynasty. That’s way, way bigger.

    I do agree though that we’re virtually guaranteed an evenly matched battle regardless of what the players do, since we’re so split. I’d offer to switch sides, but A) I love the tension and conflict of having the two lions be on opposite sides and B) Tso-Lao’s the only other character with a battle skill to match Rei (I think). I worry it’d go from being evenly matched to a shutout victory.

    1. Yeah, that’s true. Had Rei done nothing this wouldn’t even be an event and our Winter Court would have an entirely different focus. So, she has accomplished something, in that there will be a great battle between many clans, and Kisada will go down in history as trying to take the throne twice (regardless of his success or failure).

      I wouldn’t want Tso-Lou to switch sides (even though Rei would), as a player I think the tension between the characters is great (it was in the “what rocked” section).

      The frustrating bit for me was that I tried to play by the rules as they were described and felt like my efforts in particular were thwarted because an exceptions were made (rather than because I botched a roll or because all the other PCs went for the other side; this happened outside the structure presented to us at the beginning).

      That said, I don’t have any desire to retcon what has happened already. It’s in the fiction now and the fiction as it stands is great.

  3. Wow, this one got a ton of love!

    Addressing some things from the post: Sorry the Steve thing frustrated you. The way it got handled frustrated me as well. Clear communication at the beginning should have been had but…*shrug*

    Also, agreeing with Fattig. Regardless of success of the plan, you’ve managed to make it happen, which it most definitely would not have without all the effort you put into it.

    Here’s where the military bit will come into play: Your side will have better powers and tappings. Also, there will be some NPC generals on either side to increase what each side can do.

    1. Yeah, I think it was a good point to see the forest through the trees. In that sense, no matter what I’ve won because now in the fiction, Kisada has tried to take the throne not once, but twice! And that by itself is awesome.

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