[L5R: Legacy of the Ki-Rin] On the Virtues of Culture Clash

Posted: June 14, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Campaign Design, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games
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One of the interesting things about running an All-Unicorn campaign is that players are now on the other side of the fence in as far as traditional Rokugani norms are concerned. I’ve always found culture, history and societal norms to be fertile grounds for painting a setting that feels more alive, and being able to introduce multiple cultures outside of even the standard Rokugani variants is a big plus for me.

I’ve always considered the different Clans of Rokugan to be similar to countries with their own distinct cultures. Ancestor-worship is a religious fact in Lion lands, for example, while there are more distinctly “Japanese” practices with the Crane. While there’s still a lot of diversity within the Empire, I’m looking at shaking things up in the Unicorn campaign with the introduction of characters who have spent time in the Burning Sands.

The Unicorn Clan have a close relationship with the Burning Sands. The Moto were originally from there, and it wouldn’t surprise me that the Unicorn Clan would have holdings in Medinaat al-Saalam. Being a melting pot of different nations with different cultures, art and approaches to religion and science, the Unicorn from the Jewel of the Desert would be much more open to certain ideas as opposed to the more conservative Rokugani.

This gave me the point of view that I was struggling to grasp when I was first thinking of a Unicorn game. What could they bring to the table at this point in my campaign setting’s timeline? I figured that since the events leading to the Ivory Kingdoms / Second City arc were already happening in Canon, there might be some virtue to start exploring outside the Empire’s borders.

Threats in this game come from both within and without. A particular event taking place well outside of the Emerald Empire has caused the Unicorn Khan to issue a call for their Samurai to return. Their purpose, to bolster the Empire’s ability to defend itself from all threats. There’s a storm on the horizon, and only the Unicorn can see it.

Unfortunately, they’ve got an entire Empire of xenophobes to deal with. Who view them with a mix of fascination, disgust and fear. The solution therefore is a marketing campaign of sorts, a means of making the Unicorn’s gifts come off as advancement rather than pollution of the Rokugani’s pristine culture. Standing in the way are the three most traditional Clans in the Empire: The Lion, the Crane and the Phoenix. The Unicorn will have to win all of them over if they plan to stand a chance of achieving their goal.

And yes, I know that I’ve run all these Clans before. The players now get to go head to head with the Clans that they’ve worked to improve in the past three campaigns. Certainly worth seeing what they plan to do.

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