One of the suggested means to set up an L5R campaign is to run one where all the players are part of a single Clan. The reasoning for this is that the single clan game eliminates a lot of the societal complications of the Legend of the Five Rings setting in terms of grouping people from multiple Clans together.
The Clans of L5R aren’t exactly all that friendly to each other. As such having a superfriends game where everyone belongs to a different clan is hard to justify in-game without defaulting to the now cliche Magistrate route.
That said, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a single clan implementation:
- Everyone knows each other - As part of a single clan, characters are more likely to be with in a few degrees of consanguinity, or at least be able to treat each other with more respect than they would a complete stranger.
- Transparency of Information – There’s also a higher degree of trust between the characters, making it more likely that they’ll share information among themselves in a manner that benefits everyone. Less intra-group politics, so to speak.
- Cooperation is Easy – Again, since they’re part of the same clan, they don’t really have a reason to not work together for a common goal, rather than try to achieve an objective while pursuing two different (and occasionally opposing agendas.)
- A unified front – The group represents the interests of a single diplomatic entity. Politically speaking, there’s less infighting due to conflicts of interest.
- Lack of Diversity – Over the years of development the Clans have all been fleshed out very well, with each of the families that compose each Clan have their own little spin to make them unique. That said, compared to the staggering amount of choices offered by the game, staying with a single Clan can feel like being asked to color a landscape scene and handed a box of 8 crayons instead of the spiffy 64 color one.
- Hard to get a consensus - Players might not always like the same clan. L5R players of the CCG tend to be a very loyal bunch, and when they pick a favorite, it becomes difficult to get them to try a different clan.
- Limited Scope - Being part of a single clan means you’re limited to the experiences and events that apply to your immediate experience. Without having an ally in say another province with your agenda, you’re stuck having to make do with either NPCs, or figuring out a better way to achieve your objective.
I’m currently considering a Single-Clan game for my campaign, though I might give in and allow a single non-clan character, for the sake of variance. An odd man out, if you will, just to be able to cover the other avenues. To quote Ghost in the Shell‘s Major Kusanagi:
“If we all reacted the same way, we’d be predictable, and there’s always more than one way to view a situation. What’s true for the group is also true for the individual. It’s simple: overspecialize, and you breed in weakness. It’s slow death.”
I want to be able to lend focus to a campaign without making them too myopic. While I prefer building my campaigns once I already know who my players are and what they want, I think I can begin laying down the foundation on the blog over a series of posts.