[L5R 4e, Hearts and Souls] Secret Actions and Politics

Posted: February 22, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games
Tags: ,

Hey there,

Ever since I started running the All-Crane Clan “Hearts and Souls” campaign, I’ve started to try and improve my ability to run political games. While I think I’ve got some proficiency in it, I will be the first to admit that this is the very first political campaign I’ve ever run. Most of my Mage: the Awakening games, while having qualities of a political game, is often punctuated by personal horror more than maneuvering between factions, and all my other games are more action/adventure/pulp than anything else.

That said, I figure I should be improving how I run my game, and so I’ve allowed for my Players to send me any particular actions that their characters are doing in secret. At this point this is from Player to GM, but I suspect that I’ll have to reply in kind soon, initiating GM to player communication as well with NPCs approaching characters both on and off the table. I’ll be using Facebook chat or emails to document these.

It’s a good angle to explore and another way to keep players engaged in the game even outside of the table. A lot of the nuance of political games come from the little things, and I find that some players respond well to being able to take their time in formulating a response to certain events that happen off-screen when they have a chance to think about their actions.

My next issue would be how to best document this in a manner that doesn’t reveal too many secrets. I’m considering keeping a private log of the individual actions so that I can go back and fill in the blanks in the narrative of the campaign in the actual play reports after the campaign wraps up. I’m still planning through.

That said my players have all been incredibly instrumental to the success of the game so far. Their dedication to the tone of the game, and the decision to stick to solutions that don’t necessarily devolve to “I hit it with my sword” has turned this campaign into one of the few games that have gone on for 6 entire sessions without an initiative roll. It’s an interesting spot to be in, and while at the start I confess that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to think of enough things to have my players do, the organic growth of the setting based off the actions of my players have been enlightening to say the least.

Definitely looking forward to the next session.

  1. chindividual says:

    The off-table, off-screen way of handling things is good, and I have experimented with it in several Vampire games. The problem I had was that two of my four players were really into this game-after-the-game, while the other two didn’t really bother. I had to be careful that the two enthusiastic players didn’t get too much of an advantage over the other two players, which made this off-table politicking rather pointless.

    However, if you have a group of players who will use this to the fullest extent, this is a really neat addition to every political campaign!

  2. EvilGardenGnome says:

    For documenting, from a reader’s point of view, just provide a quick recap at the reveal. Gratifying for the players to realize the play and easier for us reading it so we don’t need to backtrack.

    As for off camera things, if another player’s character would hear of it, tell them. For instance, if you’re dealing with someone’s secret contact you’re likely to get ratted on. If course, if the character is apolitical they can still hear as random gossip. Instant drama, especially if the ‘villain’ is unknown and has to try and cover it up.

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