Actual Play – Rain of Blood (4/27/2009)

GM: Travis Lindquist
System: L5R

And the skies rained red with blood. Literally. Yep. That stuff that flows through people coming from the sky instead. Fucked up!

Last night I got back into the L5R game (missed the last session because of injury, which I’m bummed about because it was a killer session). What I missed in brief:

  • Island we were on wasn’t an island… but a giant Oni, a Sea Turtle
  • Much Chaos getting to shore. Many lost, boats wrecked, etc.
  • Soon a storm of red clouds appeared from two directions and with it the dead rose from the water to attack.
  • We defended but not without casualties, several of the Samurai were exposed and began to go mad.
  • As I wasn’t present we ran a short cut scene of Mirumoto fighting off a few goblins that also attacked from the rain.

At the start of the adventure last night our rickety structure began leaking and soon would fall apart. I ordered our Nezumi (unaffected by the blood to pull one of our smaller boats to shore so we could turtle it and use the hull as cover. The tentacle monster in the water thought otherwise however and the Nezumi ran “fleeing Tomorrow.” Damn, if my character dies I’m totally going to play a Nezumi, they are awesome.

Isawa Yoshi braved the rain and summoned the air kami to create a tempest of wind which would protect the rest of us while we moved to a cave.

Inside we found a small tunnel which lead to a large cavern where nine Blood Speakers were summoning an oni (I believe a corrupted water elemental, but can’t recall the name).

We fought… Oi! It was murderous. Our characters ended the battle cut up, without focus (no void) and in varying degrees of crazy. Good times.

What rocked

The tension of the last fight was great. Between environmental factors and cultists with blades I was pretty sure we might all die. Putting a few feet of steel inside the cult leader helped out quite a bit but it still wasn’t a sure thing. So, for danger factor, that was tense.

We’ve got a lot of interesting NPCs that I’d like to keep seeing. Ro, the emerald magistrates, and the amnesiac Akodo. All good stuff.

We got to see Ninja. Of course ninja don’t exist, but we’re pretty sure that’s what we were fighting. Followers of Dogatsu working with blood speakers? That can’t be good. Anyway, it was cool to see something that basically you’re never supposed to see.

What could have been improved

I was hoping my character’s disadvantages would show up, specifically the Maho past. If he had been hit by the rain it would have but I never had an occasion to need to be in the rain (nobody needed saving, etc). While it might very well have meant the death of my character, it would have been killer to see the disadvantage rear its ugly head.

I don’t feel like the system handled obstacles in a very engaging way. The path to the blood speakers was narrow, hard to traverse and imminently going to be filled with blood. That sounds spooky but in truth it meant for a round 3/5 of the players not being able to act. Some heroics came out of it when one Bushi carried a fallen ally to safety but I didn’t feel either the intensity of the environmental danger or the cinematic wire-fu action that I’d like to have seen while we were battling in the ritual chamber. Some of that is just lack of cool player narrations and some of it was the system not having an “escape from the temple of doom” mechanic.

In the end there was some division amongst the samurai about what to do next. That isn’t a bad thing in itself but it seemed pointless. Eventually I just stopped trying to understand and gave in as I wasn’t committed to my point enough to make it worth arguing over.

I’m having a hard time with meaningful interactions with the other Samurai. I guess last session was more of “kill the bad guys” than “talk about your feelings” but even if it was more social, I just don’t think that Al-Salin has that many feelings. He respects the Kakita for his training, and the Sodano for his dedication but that is about it. There is no dynamism to their relationships. He’s mostly interested in tournaments, making a name for himself and the Dragon, and the Unicorn clan. None of that is really in our party makeup, which means that most of his meaningful interactions are with NPCs. I think I need to re-examine his beliefs and set them closer to home.