Now that I’ve had a moment to take a little break from running the Hearts and Souls game, I’m getting an opportunity to come up for air a bit and review how my game is going so far. I personally cherish this sort of opportunity since my workdays are often very hectic and don’t give me a chance to run a few diagnostics now and then on where my campaign is going.
Today I’m looking at the state of the Crane Clan in my campaign, and where it’s going. More importantly, I’m looking at where the players are able to make a difference.
The Crane Clan, at least in my current campaign, is injured. The extermination of the Harriers was a drastic step, but one that was considered to be a necessary one in order to uphold the higher ideals of Honor in the Clan. The result is a fracturing of the families, as the Daidoji struggle to recover from their losses, while the other families attempt to carry on.
Consider the Crane itself as a metaphor for the Clan.
The Crane holds itself above the muck and mud, keeping its plumage and form clean and majestic. In the Crane Clan, the Daidoji are the legs of the clan. Their duty is to fight to keep the rest of the families unsullied by the stain of dishonor.
While Domotai’s act was notable (and perhaps necessary), it was also one that crippled the foundations of the Clan’s ability to act. The Daidoji, now made lesser in the eyes of the other families, struggle to uphold their duties to the Clan. Rather than trust the Daidoji, some of the other families have taken it upon themselves to perform the duties of the Daidoji, tainting themselves in the process.
So rather than remain stately and beautiful, this Crane now bears the stains of dishonor upon itself.
Hearts and Souls was meant as an examination of Idealism vs. Realism. The Crane Clan holds itself against impossible standards, demanding honor and perfection at all times. This makes it one of the harder Clans to play, as they are constrained in the same manner that the Lion are. However, while this is the ideal, reality acts as the counteracting force and the players are forced to make a choice between the two almost constantly.
Clearly different players manifest their opinion on this divide differently. Their actions determine the nature of the Crane as it goes forward, and so I find myself interested in seeing whether or not the group can uplift the Crane back to their original glory, or will they evolve the Clan to something different.
Note that it isn’t a question of “if” they can do it, but rather “what” they will choose to do. I’m a strong believer in the Agency of player characters to enact changes in the setting, changes that will resonate through time.
The Lions were able to come out of their struggles stronger, with new allies, and expel the demons of their past, albeit at the cost of incredibly painful losses. What will the Crane look like when the players are done with it?
At this point, I’m going to sit back and watch, and document. It’s not my place to make value judgements in this case. That is for the players to decide.