[L5R – Never a Dull Blade] Campaign Musing

Posted: September 6, 2011 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Campaign Design, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games

Well, this weekend I’ll get to run L5R 4th Edition yet again.  I’ve got an interesting history with the L5R game, having been a longtime fan of the setting ever since the early Emerald Edition of the card game.  I enjoy the setting a lot, and among the Clans, I have always favored the Lion Clan, the fearless clan of soldiers who serve as the Right Hand of the Emperor.

The Lion are stereotyped as honorable, fearless and utterly devastating in battle.  They have the most brilliant tacticians, the most tenacious soldiers, peerless historians and have a unique form of magic only available to their bloodline.  But despite all of these, the Lion Clan are treated as the most generic and vanilla of most of the Clans.

That’s why I feel that this campaign is a good opportunity to really plumb the depths of the Lion Clan’s character by having players with characters that belong to a single clan.  In some ways, it is like the Phoenix Clan Civil War campaign I ran before.  Instead of focusing on the rivalry between the Shiba and the Isawa, this time it’s the Lion against those who would rather keep the Clan docile.

In my way of thinking, the time of Peace is the most dangerous period for a clan like the Lion.  Fearful of their armies, the other clans, most notably the Crane and the Scorpion, will be more than willing to use their influence to keep the Lion clan from being able to maintain their full strength.  This is when the Lion find that they must fight the hardest.  Taking on a rival clan in the field of battle is easy, sniffing out their manipulations in the high halls of power isn’t.

The campaign won’t all be about conspiracies of course, investigation is not the forte of the player characters, after all.  If anything most of the campaign will have them dealing with situations that could reasonably occur in such a period, and how the Lions respond to it (violently or otherwise) ought to be interesting at the very least.

Given the size of my group, I may be forced to split the players into two groups, not an elegant solution, but if I plan to keep the atmosphere and feel of Rokugan, and stick to my strengths as a GM, I need to work with smaller groups and more personal stories.  My goal is to do this by sticking to what I do best.  It might not be a long campaign, but I’ll try to make sure that it’s a good one.

  1. Anthony says:

    As a fellow Lion fan: Rock on, my brother, rock on. The Lion have a lot of flavor and color to them that is constantly shoved under the rug. This isn’t helped by the fact that the Story team has treated them, basically since day 1, as the group that it is “omg zomg wow they beat the lion!” in everything.

    On the one hand, I don’t really blame this. Every clan has “they’re samurai but with this added flavor” and for the Lion that flavor is “best military.” Which makes for a boring read if the Lion just keep destroying everyone on the Battlefield. That being said, they often get treated like the stereotypical red headed step-child, which is even worse when you realize they’re the clan that occasionally also has red hair and/or dyes their hair red.

    I mean hell, they even had to hire some ronin to be their Thunder for the second day. How sad is that? 😉

    • Ugh, don’t let me get started on that Ronin 😀

      In any case, I think the Lion suffered a lot from the Superman Syndrome. Remember in the cartoons where they always show the bad guy beating Superman up as a shortcut to demonstrate how strong or powerful they are? It’s okay to use now and then, but when it happens in every episode it starts making Superman look like a chump. The Lion Clan were supposed to be the best in a fight, so now to show how other clans or forces were awesome, they had to be depicted kicking the Lion’s ass.

      I’ve got a long list of gripes about how the Lion have been treated, but that’s all water under the bridge now, the fun part of being a GM after all is making the setting your own.

  2. dbro36 says:

    Good luck! I hope you will have an enjoyable time, and the same for your players!

  3. Hikkikomori says:

    So far, the roster includes:
    – an Akodo Bushi.
    – a Matsu Deathseeking Duelist.
    – a wandering Kitsu Shugenja-pugilist.
    – a gullible Matsu Shugenja.
    – a self-serving and uncompromising black sheep Akodo Bushi.
    – a disavowed Akodo Bard turned Lion’s Shadow with a Dark Fate.
    – and possibly a bitterly betrothed Kitsu Beastmaster who learned the ways of the Lion Scouts

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