So… this weekend marks the start of the Winter Court arc of my Legend of the Five Rings campaign, and I’m been doing some thinking. When I initially pitched Never a Dull Blade to my players I did specify that this was technically a “Lions in (relative) peacetime” game, where the various details of running a clan will be the focus of the game. While I really did have the idea of putting the characters in Winter Court, I don’t want it to come off as a drag.
In short, I’m trying to make sure that I don’t end up with a lot of empty scenes where the players are in a setpiece and have nothing to do. From my thinking, I’ve got some ways to get around that:
- More NPCs – I’m operating on a very lean cast of characters, as is my usual pattern, but if I want to make this Winter Court seem populated, I’m going to have to include a lot more people. Not necessarily big names, but ones that the characters can interact with in a meaningful fashion.
- Active Agendas – Everyone’s got an angle in the Winter Court, even if it’s just for their own self-advancement, and their actions should reflect that. NPCs ought to be actively doing things that will aid or hinder the players. This is exactly where the favor-trading comes in very useful.
- Complications – No plan survives contact with the enemy, and the same is true in court as well as in the battlefield. By making sure that things shift now and then, the players can capitalize on an advantage when the wind is blowing their way or end up trying to make sure that they do proper damage control when the tables are turned.
Despite how this sounds, I’m actually trying to think of ways to engage the players without forcing them into mechanically disadvantageous situations. I know that the Lion clan in general aren’t exactly keen on having high Courtier or Etiquette skills, but I’m not about to turn this event into an excuse to lord that fact over them. That sort of behavior is bad GMing, plain and simple.
Still, I’m relatively optimistic about things. If anything it’ll be a chance to see what a Winter Court with Lions will really look like, and maybe the refreshing change from all the double-talk and hinting that the Crane and Scorpions do.