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sndwurks

Keeping the Story Team

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Dare I say it but I would have liked to see it all die with a gunpowder age, railroads, trade agreements with foreign powers, disconnection from the kami and fortunes due to the emperor being replaced by government reform, followed by topknots being clipped and samurai resistors being mowed down by cannon fire.

 

You will all hate me now, but when Hida Kisada comes back to fight Iuchiban again you'll choose the musket balls.

 

Hate you? I probably could kiss you right now!

 

 

It's happened in Rokugan's (briefly) history before. Meanwhile many of the gaijin nations have guns. It's not steampunk in any way. It would have been a neat way to fold the story over with an ending (Or maybe an alternate history as that's been explored before), as it mirrors not only that certain movie with Tom Cruise, but how the samurai seized to be in Japan.

 

If we keep the 20 years of story and move forward, i'm cool with it and it wont stop me from buying the product. Nor will having or not having a Spider Clan at the get go. However, I find that trying to keep up with 20 years of history may be a bit overwhelming to the new player base we will potentially pick up. Also, let's be honest, and I do not blame the story team for this, but a lot of the jump the shark moment started as soon as the Clan Wars (Crab marching on capitol with shadowlands army) and continued on down the line.

 

We've had things like Kali Ma (I actually liked that storyline) and Yodotai attacks, but the matter of getting guns in rokugan is as simple as The Mantis Clan or Colony Spider Clan simply not giving a ****. While guns are outlawed, so was communication with Ratlings, Maho, summoning Oni, poison and may other taboo things. The difference between gunpowder, or rather firearms being as gunpowder is around in firework form with the Agasha famlily, is that guns kill the sword and sorcery aspect of the setting. But I feel, in a way they do not, not if we're looking at an end time scenario. In a way it would give a tragic samurai death to the setting as the samurai of history also died; Technology rolling over religion and forcing government reform.

 

As the Kaiu, Yoritomo and Daigotsu families are no longer names at all because they were the same uniform, share the same rank in the gunline as eta and light fuses to mow down traditionalist samurai, while americanized gaijin give them orders, it would have been cool too see who still wore the armor and held a daisho. Would we have seen a Bayushi and Doji samurai finally shed a tear together as artillery rained on brother and sister from above? Could the Oracles get the elemental dragons to return and murder these gaijin corruptors in a brutal revenge before being severed from the realm of man for good and possibly see these dragons die? Plenty of things to explore. Grimdark and historical but I don't know about steampunk.

 

Again it would've been cool to see which families held out to the end, unable or refusing to reform.

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If we keep the 20 years of story and move forward, i'm cool with it and it wont stop me from buying the product. Nor will having or not having a Spider Clan at the get go. However, I find that trying to keep up with 20 years of history may be a bit overwhelming to the new player base we will potentially pick up. Also, let's be honest, and I do not blame the story team for this, but a lot of the jump the shark moment started as soon as the Clan Wars (Crab marching on capitol with shadowlands army) and continued on down the line.

 

Well said. 

While similar responses have been posted, I thought I would highlight this suggestion/take on the upcoming L5R CCG. 

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BD, I will agree with you that some of the worst things in the L5R Story were also a result of player choices, and that the idea of the story being decided by a single person winning a single tournament is kind of crazy.

 

In a business predicated on a two year development cycle, it was genuinely mad. Just look at the choice of which Iweko heir inherited, and the hidden consequences of choices and the accusations of cheating, and the like.

 

I am not advocating for FFG to return to the standard set by AEG with a Story Prize for Every Tournament! and placing the entirety of the story in the hands of the players. FFG should take a page (the only page worth taking) from the Day of Thunder and the Race to Volturnum. Make the stakes clear, make the results clearer, and make impact accessible.

 

Really, how hard would it be to have a Kotei season with some degree of interactivity? You sign up and play a Faction. On your decklist sheet is a spot where your vote on which Clan is your Rival. Fiction, either in novels, flavor text, or stories included in the Chapter Packs, are influenced by which Clans have the strongest rivalries at the end of the season. The winner qualifies for the main event at GenCon, and attendance determines which Clan gets to lead a major army or have a scene of glory. At GenCon, the winner gets to make a major decision regarding the setting, which will impact two years out.

 

This is all accessible. This is all interactive. This is using the community to generate the direction they want to see the story take, and giving them a voice. And that is all FFG needs to keep the Story Players in the game.

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Really, how hard would it be to have a Kotei season with some degree of interactivity? You sign up and play a Faction. On your decklist sheet is a spot where your vote on which Clan is your Rival. Fiction, either in novels, flavor text, or stories included in the Chapter Packs, are influenced by which Clans have the strongest rivalries at the end of the season. The winner qualifies for the main event at GenCon, and attendance determines which Clan gets to lead a major army or have a scene of glory. At GenCon, the winner gets to make a major decision regarding the setting, which will impact two years out.

 

This is all accessible. This is all interactive. This is using the community to generate the direction they want to see the story take, and giving them a voice. And that is all FFG needs to keep the Story Players in the game.

 

I think that depends a lot on the particular story player. :)

 

That being said, something else to weigh in all this is that FFG games, in general, seem to have pretty clean theming shared within a chapter cycle, but little to no connection outside of that. Given production cycles, if you voted on something today, you'd likely be doing so completely blind, as decisions would have to feed into a set currently in development, which likely wouldn't even be announced until several months from now.

 

I mean, maybe that's not a bad thing, if the choices are fairly devoid of context. Like, "Which clan is your rival in the coming conflict?" But then players are making choices without any knowledge of that conflict, and it's likely some might vote differently given actual information, and may even feel betrayed.

 

I assume there will be some fiction in each pack, as (I think?) is the norm.

 

Anyway, I think a lot of this is moot. It'd take a big shift in the way FFG develops their games to make it work.

 

I've said before that I think we'll see something similar to Netrunner in terms of the choices that are presented and the tournament structure in which those choices are made available. Like, choose between two strongholds, and one could be more militant with the other being more peacable, a la Netrunner's ID tournaments. But unless I'm mistaken, that has little impact on what goes into the rest of the box. I suppose it could affect some flavor text.

 

That's as much because that's what FFG is set up to handle as it is what the "best choice" for L5R is. And I think it's a lot more likely that L5R is going to change to suit FFG than the reverse.

 

Which, incidentally, is another reason I don't think a "story team" is going to be a thing, as such. I think it's entirely likely that what story is in the game will be handled as it currently is in FFG's other lines, to varying degrees.

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BD, I will agree with you that some of the worst things in the L5R Story were also a result of player choices, and that the idea of the story being decided by a single person winning a single tournament is kind of crazy.

 

In a business predicated on a two year development cycle, it was genuinely mad. Just look at the choice of which Iweko heir inherited, and the hidden consequences of choices and the accusations of cheating, and the like.

 

I am not advocating for FFG to return to the standard set by AEG with a Story Prize for Every Tournament! and placing the entirety of the story in the hands of the players. FFG should take a page (the only page worth taking) from the Day of Thunder and the Race to Volturnum. Make the stakes clear, make the results clearer, and make impact accessible.

 

Really, how hard would it be to have a Kotei season with some degree of interactivity? You sign up and play a Faction. On your decklist sheet is a spot where your vote on which Clan is your Rival. Fiction, either in novels, flavor text, or stories included in the Chapter Packs, are influenced by which Clans have the strongest rivalries at the end of the season. The winner qualifies for the main event at GenCon, and attendance determines which Clan gets to lead a major army or have a scene of glory. At GenCon, the winner gets to make a major decision regarding the setting, which will impact two years out.

 

This is all accessible. This is all interactive. This is using the community to generate the direction they want to see the story take, and giving them a voice. And that is all FFG needs to keep the Story Players in the game.

Single people winning a single tournament deciding story is not crazy, the absolute worst results have generally come from broad player votes.  Mantis kenku ninja personalities for example.  Democratically run settings are the worst.  Single voices should be it.

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Mantis kenku ninja personalities.

Ahhh yeah this glorious one. I remember that vote. I think it was more of just a shot a trying something fun, so I wont hang the storyline team for it but yeah. I also have a special hate for Kimee the rat and her hat. It was a joke taken way too far. First we had a rat in winter court, then from there ???

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Also a special shout out to "Does the Khan take over the empire." That was a pretty one sided question to begin with, no? The clans who ended up on his side were even punished as faceless mooks (Mantis)

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Free the story from player meddling, put it in hands of well paid, professional writers who have a game plan and coherent idea of where they are going. Then again, main reason for me to play cardgames is the process of playing the cardgame itself. 

As for storyline ownership, to be honest, I've always felt that it degraded fictions into kind of fanfic levels of quality and cultivated unhealthy attitude in playerbase. 

Then again, small storyline interactions are ok as long as they are restrained and don't disrupt stuff.

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I think the bigger problem with the interactive story is that for the players who actually have an impact, that specific effect is awesome, in part because it reflects some achievement in competitive play.

 

For everyone else, it frequently seems to lead to mediocre, forgettable results, because they aren't invested in the choice properly, and indeed *cannot be,* because the lead up can't be written with the final outcome in mind, when the final outcome is unknown. (And no, you can't write an opening that's equally effective no matter which of 8 choices become the conclusion.)

 

If there's going to be story, let it be written by professionals. They can surprise you just as much as random player #1,071, and actually have that surprise fit into a bigger picture. Servicing player choice makes that far more difficult.

Kind of like when someone is talking about how amazing their home RPG campaign was in chaotic fashion, and while he is really happy and invested in it, you have really, really hard time finding it good or that interesting. 

Story doesn't have be good from the quality sense to be enjoyable. People often misattribute their enjoyment of a game (be it RPG, or something like interactive storylines) to "quality of the story" instead of "my own investment into the event". Many RPG campaigns have medicore or bad stories from the outside perspective, and yet they are perfectly enjoyable for people involved. Which isn't a bad thing at all.

But I would prefer to leave these stories at home tables and have the official things unshackled from player input and left in professional hands.

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BD, I will agree with you that some of the worst things in the L5R Story were also a result of player choices, and that the idea of the story being decided by a single person winning a single tournament is kind of crazy.

 

In a business predicated on a two year development cycle, it was genuinely mad. Just look at the choice of which Iweko heir inherited, and the hidden consequences of choices and the accusations of cheating, and the like.

 

I am not advocating for FFG to return to the standard set by AEG with a Story Prize for Every Tournament! and placing the entirety of the story in the hands of the players. FFG should take a page (the only page worth taking) from the Day of Thunder and the Race to Volturnum. Make the stakes clear, make the results clearer, and make impact accessible.

 

Really, how hard would it be to have a Kotei season with some degree of interactivity? You sign up and play a Faction. On your decklist sheet is a spot where your vote on which Clan is your Rival. Fiction, either in novels, flavor text, or stories included in the Chapter Packs, are influenced by which Clans have the strongest rivalries at the end of the season. The winner qualifies for the main event at GenCon, and attendance determines which Clan gets to lead a major army or have a scene of glory. At GenCon, the winner gets to make a major decision regarding the setting, which will impact two years out.

 

This is all accessible. This is all interactive. This is using the community to generate the direction they want to see the story take, and giving them a voice. And that is all FFG needs to keep the Story Players in the game.

Single people winning a single tournament deciding story is not crazy, the absolute worst results have generally come from broad player votes.  Mantis kenku ninja personalities for example.  Democratically run settings are the worst.  Single voices should be it.

 

 

I see your Mantis Kenku Ninja, and I raise you a Crab Treasure-Hunting Elephant. And wasn't there an incident about a sumai tournament that almost ended up pitting...was it the Unicorn war dogs against Houhou or something of the sort before the story team put its foot down?

 

Mantis Kenku Ninja is positively sane in comparison, without even accounting that, as I recall, the vote was deliberately set to give weird result with people voting separately for a creature, a clan and a profession. So there's no telling how many people actually voted Mantis Kenku Ninja ; just that Kenku got more vote than the other creatures, and separately more people voted for Ninja than the other jobs. 

 

IN short, nice try but not supported by the facts. 

Edited by Himoto

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Not really, as the basis of my argument is and always has been less player influence.

 

Edit: people make decisions like that because there are so many story opportunities each one doesn't mean much.  tourney for winner of a sumo tournament?  one of 50+ potential results leading to a blurb  in one fiction?   2 major story results a year at best and you wont see that kind of stuff.

Edited by McDermott

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My response isn't based on Mantis Kenku Ninja, it's based on Twitch Plays Pokemon.

 

Nothing fun or memorable ever happened under Democracy. Anarchy was what people made stories out of. You think Helix Fossil and the All-Terrain Venomoth would be beloved if it was just a greentext story on some chan imageboard? That stuff became great because "we" were there, man, and "we" participated.

Edited by Huitzil37

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To be fair, interactive storylines CAN be done properly and be fun, and maybe even of some quality writing (!!!). But in order to do that, you need clear objectives, people knowing what they are doing, and a relationship with playerbase which isn't reminiscent of being constantly emotionally blackmailed by abusive significant one. 

 

Which means that you need a vision, you need a plan, and you need quality writers, quality management, and having stuff actually planned in advance. Somebody's analogy of Pick Your Own Adventure books is good, I think. So basically, I think that "constantly ongoing storyline with constantly given out storyline prizes" definitely would need to go. Instead, focus on "seasonal arcs" or something - chapters with clear structure, that are preplanned from the start to the end, with choices being "which node are you going to follow", not "make up something and we will think about it later". Think about it like...dating sims games. Routes that are decided by choice trees, that can lead into variation of endings, but are still smartly preplanned, written rotes with interesting storytelling which isn't "let's improv as we go". Know where are you going, offer choices that lead into well thought possibilities, and after you are done, wrap it up and give yourself some time to prepare next big event. To make people occupied in mean time, publish the "Story mordule", which basically allows anyone to play out the story chapter on their own, progressing down another path and seeing how it would work out. 

It isn't perfect, but it's still infinitely better than what I saw at AEG done before. 

[Race for the Throne mega game was good.]

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We're agreed on the need for less player involvement, but "tournament winners decide" is by no mean likely to lead to superior result. 

 

Less interaction is fine, but that means putting less decisions in player hands, not putting decisions in fewer players hand. 

 

(And for those looking for a memorable story that resulted from a vote? How about the very first interactive story decision ever, when the early members of the imperial assembly voted that the Crane champion would be the one getting duplicated by the Egg of Pan Ku, thus setting in motion the whole Hoturi/False Hoturi/Kachiko plotline?)

 

I mean, from where I stand that's probably a top 5 and a serious contender for #1 in "Most memorable plotline in L5R history"...

Edited by Himoto

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[Race for the Throne mega game was good.]

 

Yeah, I feel like I ducked out a bit before race, but the fact that it *was* a megagame -- i.e. with actual rules, IIRC, that were set forth upfront -- was a huge point in its favor. I seem to recall I had some quibbles with some minor (and specific) rules points, but in principle, it seemed like a much more manageable system that would produce a much more...uh...sensible result, and maybe produce some decent story along the way.

 

Like games and fiction, interactive fiction has its own rules and tools. Investment through involvement is possibly the biggest, but that also requires fairly clear rules -- a sense of predictability not necessarily in an outcome, but in the scope and kind of outcome. Like, if you're playing a video game with an interactive story, and you get to choose between two paths, you should expect that those paths will produce a roughly equivalent, if different, experience. Not gameplay down one path, death down the other (or for that matter, an auto-win). That way, there's a sense of, "I did that!" not, "I got screwed!" *Massively* interactive fiction imposes still more rules (and opportunities).

 

Sometimes the interactivity in AEG's games missed the mark by quite a bit in that area, IMO, and the whole game suffered for it. I'd rather FFG just dialed it back and took the safe play in that area and kept their eye on the play experience.

 

I'm just here to play a game. :) The story of L5R, as far as I care, is whether me or my opponent burn down the other's holdings or prove so honorable the Emperor turns back my opponent's armies (or whatever). What happens at the table?

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And to be fair, Race for the Throne has it's own sins - mostly of "have this totally awesome reward in exchange for x, and THEN WE WILL NOT DELIVER THIS REWARD FOREVER". Shoju Redemption pls. 

 

Yeah, I don't really know anything about how the execution went down.

 

But man, it looked good. ;)

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As for interactivity outside of tournaments and gameplay, you can also go the old comic books route; present a chapter of some character's story, and present votes on "which route-deciding choice shall we go down next? Is Kakita Yuki going to slaughter her opponent in a duel her honor perceives as unjust and cruel, or will she defy it, placing her sense of justice above duty?" etc. Again, kind of like visual novel, with choice nodes already outlined so writers know where this stuff is going and are only "filling out" the actual words depending on choice taken. 

This would work better with focusing stories on characters than clans, though (a good way to create cult of personality for the upcoming card game, btw - I think it would a good move to start writing stuff like this after they agree on "what personalities are going to be in core", especially if these personalities will be FFG Brand New Characters)

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Are we really considering the megagame that led to a significant chunk of one of the largest playerbases accusing AEG of cheating them out of points a rousing success?  because I remember a lot of longstanding acrimony over it

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The Race for the Throne was a good idea, but its execution suffered from a number of problems--not the least of which it lasted TOO LONG to maintain the core momentum with the original rules (which were, ironically, far too optimistically vague to deal with a game based on placing factions in opposition to one another).  Then, yes, many of the issues "offered" or promised never quite came to pass.  

 

That being said . . . it did generate an enormous amount of player interaction on all levels of the game.  Face it, there are a limited number of kotei winners and even fewer World Champions to hand out EVER.  A game survives more on 'those who stand and wait' than those who win, and the Race offered opportunities for lots of those who were on the sidelines to really feel involved.  It needed better organization, more consistent implementation, and certainly better follow-through, but just because some folks got their noses out of joint does not mean it wasn't a good idea at the core.  It just needed a voice of reason to say things like . . . "but what if . . . " about so many of the rules and promises and be listened to before they set out upon the idea in the first place.

 

Oh, and as for the Mantis Kenku (sigh)--doesn't anyone remember the original intention was to get a Ninja TURTLE in the vote, but somehow Kenku got more votes.  I've never been quite certain how the Mantis ended up with the most clan votes.  And, like some of the Race issues, AEG asked for the competition, which surely any fool could have seen could end up with a ridiculous combination, and then ST refused to do anything with the result--ever.  So, if it wasn't going to be used, why do the original competition in the first place?  It comes down to setting reasonable parameters within fairly predictable results.

 

A lot of the "odd" choices over the years could have been either discouraged by a little more organization ahead of time--lists of absolute choices to choose from--or more of the so-called "poison pills" to provide actual results, but discouraging ones as a result of the random craziness that could be made.

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By Race for the Throne is good I meant that it was good at the conceptual level. Execution had it's flaws, that's for certain. Still, it's a good direction to take, though it would definitely need a lot of trimming and streamlining; and, most importantly, each event being much shorter. 

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There's way too much to get into in this thread, so I'm going going to try and go back and cherry pick out everything that is good or bad or whatever (although I will note that I don't think bringing John Wick back would be productive).

 

The Race for the Throne was, overall, great. And it was, indeed, a rousing success. The Temptations could have been executed better, and like every story prize you have to actually fully implement the prize or folks will get irritated (e.g., nothing much coming of Shoju or, IMHO, not putting more Dragon flavor into the Dragon Empress), but the latter isn't anything specific about the Race. It kept a lot of people very interested and active over an extended people of time.  That sort of overarching story goal also has the benefit of letting everything matter without having to make a thousand different story prizes (because you can just award points for the Race). I don't know that anything like the Race is going to be consistent with how FFG is going to do interactive story (as I've opined elsewhere, the interactive story is one of the, if not the big distinguishing point of L5R, and I don't think that FFG would buy the brand and then kill that entirely, so I believe that FFG will do interactive story, it's just a question of how), but it was great for the format AEG was doing.

 

A lot of the comments in here are about what makes a good story for L5R. That's a worthy topic, and one I've written and talked a lot about over the years, but it's kind of premature. The core foundation of something like "keeping the story team" is not about exactly what specific sort of stories you're going to end up telling, it's about what the interactive process might be, and how you can structure a story arc to both tell a good, interesting story and also integrate player choice. For all the quality stuff that recent additions like Mari, Max, Hand (Spooky is the current Story Team's best fiction writer, IMHO, but he's hardly a new addition anymore), the people with the expertise that matters most at this juncture are Shawn and Fred Wan. And the fact that there's a thread about keeping the Story Team and how FFG will implement interactive story, and no one has even mentioned the person at AEG who was most responsible for trying to have coherent narrative storytelling in that setting is, to me, something of an indication of how little folks really understand about how this process works.

 

FFG already has a stable of folks working on things like flavor text (one of the things that the ST does that I don't think has been mentioned in this thread at all) and fictions (either directly or in an editorial sort of role) and developing a game world (Android is the main one now, but they have others, such as their Arkham universe). When FFG is sitting down in the near future and deciding who, if anyone, from the L5R world they should add to that, I doubt that their focus is going to be on something like which individual authors they might tab to which write which particular fiction or what level of supernatural involvement there will be in that story. I would think that they'll be looking at bigger picture topics, and the folks who have the experience with that are Fred and Shawn. Although they both have day jobs, and as I understand it FFG does not usually operate in the same 'part time employee/volunteer working remotely' model that AEG relies on, so that might be something of an impediment.

 

Also, they should definitely pick up Denton's novel.

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Fred's probably the one who would be most directly useful to FFG - because he's the setting guru. He's the one who tried very hard to make sure all the stories and plot actually fit together, and to maintain continuity. And he did a very good job of it. Not always the most popular job because it required reining in some past idiocies in the setting, but a very good job. 

 

Assuming that (contrary to the wishes of some) FFG doesn't completely rewrite the setting, he's the person best suited to helping a story transition by helping the FFG team understand the new setting. So he'd be my top vote to stay. 

 

Shawn's a very close second, and Spooky not far behind. 

Edited by Himoto

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What distinguishes L5R (the IP) from all other games out there? The Interactive Storyline, and how the players can shape the game world. That was always the main selling point - you win tournaments so that (among other things) you can have a word to say in the setting you love.

 

Without that unique feature, L5R would've died a long time ago. And that's why we need a Story Team, to give continuity to such feature.

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Fred's probably the one who would be most directly useful to FFG - because he's the setting guru. He's the one who tried very hard to make sure all the stories and plot actually fit together, and to maintain continuity. And he did a very good job of it. Not always the most popular job because it required reining in some past idiocies in the setting, but a very good job. 

 

Assuming that (contrary to the wishes of some) FFG doesn't completely rewrite the setting, he's the person best suited to helping a story transition by helping the FFG team understand the new setting. So he'd be my top vote to stay. 

 

Shawn's a very close second, and Spooky not far behind. 

 

For what it's worth, I've also found Fred to be the most polite, reasonable one of the AEG folks. Mind you, I haven't interacted with all of them (Spooky, for instance)... but Fred was always very cool when I chatted him up.

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