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Manchu

Following Disney's Example

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How should a company handle a property that is already extensively developed? L5R fans might consider Disney's approach to Star Wars when calibrating their expectations for FFG's coming product lines.

 

But first, who even cares about canon?

 

It's pretty common to hear someone sincerely if rather casually refer to themselves as a "fan" of this or that IP. But the term itself abbreviates "fanatic," which hardly connotes a passing interest. Being a fan traditionally means that a person follows an IP very closely, probably more closely than the IP's creators and subsequent developers ever foresaw much less intended. Pretty often, the folks who develop an IP only care about continuity. Fans, by contrast, are interested in a much stricter sense of cohesion ... even if they had to basically invent it themselves. This is canon. At some point, IP owners figured out that this concept of canon is a powerful way to leverage brand. Canon therefore flipped from being something fans generated to being something that companies manage. Although the notion of canon morphed into an "official" imprimatur, which could only be declared by the IP owner, one aspect of canon remains unchanged: the people who really care about canon are the fan(atic)s.

 

Canon is for us, the fans. But fans will ever only be a niche consumer demographic. In a content-saturated market, however, fans can be opinion leaders for the very reason that we tend to be vocal. Being a fan means you are willing to write (or read) posts like this one. That said, we should never labor under the misconception (despite marketing to the contrary) that IP owners and developers are really catering to us. After all, we are a captive market. We will buy, or at least engage with, products that we don't like even if it's only to complain about them. Strike one. Now obviously, anyone selling something wants to sell to more rather than less customers. Strike two. But the more important and perhaps less obvious issue is, companies sometimes also prefer new customers to existing ones -- including us fans. Strike three. (I'm not going to even get into how it can seem impossible to please us.) So that leaves fans in the situation of not being a primary target demographic even if companies would prefer, all things being equal, not to alienate us. To me, these principles all apply pretty squarely to L5R fans wondering about how we, and the IP we love so well, stand with FFG.

 

Where does this leave canon?

 

Here's where Disney's example may be instructive. With Star Wars, Disney established a clear and fairly narrow basis of canon. Everything else -- a huge sea of information decades in the making -- is left up in the air. Disney markets this 'everything else' category as "Legends," which practically means that Disney may or may not draw on 'everything else' as it develops the property. That means that for the people to whom 'everything else' actually matters, i.e., fans, all this information remains relevant when it comes to discussing Star Wars going forward. Bottom line: Disney managed to de-canonize a huge portion of the IP's existing 'fabric' without invalidating it. This didn't "just happen" -- it's a very clever marketing strategy. And the upshot is, the resulting brand is a lot more accessible, to both consumers as well as to Disney's own creative teams.

 

Disney provides a great example for FFG as the latter approaches the richly detailed setting of L5R, looking to access new customers with new product lines. I think the main question facing FFG if they follow Disney's example is: what constitutes the basis of canon as opposed to 'everything else'? This is where fans can help and hurt. Fans arguably "get" what appeals about the IP better than anyone else because we tap into that appeal so deeply. On the other hand, in the fanatical obsession with mastering details, we sometimes lose sight of the forest for the trees. So for example, we can probably all agree that the Clans are an absolutely essential part of L5R canon. But (as witnessed in another thread), what happens when the question is which Clans are the essential ones? Talk about a loaded question!

 

Right from the announcement, L5R fans have been telling FFG what they want and don't want regarding the coming FFG product lines. It's probably a good idea to put aside this mindset, which is more likely to set us up for disappointments rather than preparing us to be open-minded about whatever FFG produces. In that sense, we'd only be limiting our own enjoyment. Here, too, Disney's approach to Star Wars can be instructive. If FFG does de-canonize what has gone before in Rokugan, those details could still be up for discussion. Just for example, if the setting is rebooted to a point before Mantis attains Great Clan status that does not mean Mantis Clan never will ascend! As fans, imagine how much fun it will be to speculate about how FFG will handle such a story development.

 

Simply put, Disney has proven that de-canonization does not equal invalidation. And the space that this strategy creates is good for product developers, consumers broadly, and even us fans.

Edited by Manchu

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A simple way to solve this Spider Clan issue that a lot of people have is very simple and very FFG.

L5R Core set launches with:
Lion
Crab

Crane

Dragon

Phoenix
scorpion
Mantis
Neutral stuff

 

1st Cycle has cards for those 7 factions and neutrals

 

Eventual Big Box that includes Spider. Similar to AGoT added Greyjoy and Martell, how CoC added Silver Twilight, how Netrunner added 3 new factions and how Warhammer Conquest added Tyranids and will add Necron.

That way new players are introduced to the clans, but flavour text refers to the looming threat of the Spider Clan, who have been 'quiet' for some time now. Then have the Big Box they are introduced in be an invasion or something.

Edited by Internutt

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Very interesting point, but I don't think the comparison is valid.

 

SW old canon had tiers. It ranged from thing Lucas himself said, passed through stories told in movies, games, comics, book, etc and ended with fan fictions. In the old Star Wars Expanded Universe (or EU for short) you story was 'canon' while it didn't enter a conflict with something told in a superior tier.

That is, partially, the reason the EU 'survived' the Disney reset. The most important part of the old canon are maintained (the 6 movies) and everything else didn't disappear but passed to the same realm that old fan fiction occupied: It could be truth, but you will never know until either Disney say so and if something in a superior tier contradict this, then it ceases to exist.

 

With Rokugan you can't do that. Everything told in the fiction is canon and it used as such in the RPG and the CCG. You don't have tiers, or a clear-and.cut point where you can say: "it will be canon up to this point", because the fictions also re-told facts of the past, or gave more insights to famous arcs. The first day of thunder was given another look, Shinsei built the Tomb of the Seven Thunders when he disappeared, the Throne exchanged hands a couple times. Heck, even a peasant revolt appeared in the past.

 

I support that FFG changes the canon, not only because it's now his IP and I would like that they feel comfortable with how they want to tell the story of their Rokugan, but because I feel that the insane amount of player-decided factors actually damaged the setting. The Spider is the most flagrant offender, but the 'reset of power' necessary for the Race was even worse: ANY Rokugani with Status died because reasons prior to the event, EVERY SINGLE one. They just died, some lobotomized (Naseru, political genius, abandoned Rokugan to die in the middle of the Shadowlands, leaving the Empire without an heir...after 2 arcs trying to win and maintain the throne...), to deaths that don't even make sense (the Empress killed herself to avoid getting taking hostage...although no raider entered her sanctum and every guard actually did their job).

A story driven by the players is cool, but when you need to constantly reset the world to make room for even more prizes, you are doing it wrong. Because of this I support a total reset of the setting, I don't care if even the Clan wars are re-told.

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How should a company handle a property that is already extensively developed? L5R fans might consider Disney's approach to Star Wars when calibrating their expectations for FFG's coming product lines.

 

But first, who even cares about canon?

 

 

If Disney really didn't care about canon, they may have just disregarded the entire Star Wars franchise and began at Episode 1. There's some value in having canon when dealing with franchises. 

 

If FFG wants to use the backstory of L5R, they can do what the 4th edition rpg did with introducing new players to the history of the world: paraphrasing and talking about the most important events in the history. We don't need to know little details here and there of the past to enjoy the new material.

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This is not a spider or no spider issue. It is a bigger issue that that.

 

The idea that this does not apply because of the levels of cannonicity of the old version of the star wars universe is moderately superficial and irrelivant. FF has to move this towards a managable approach.

 

Another model would also be the way that disney (through Marvel)  handles the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In general it is simular but it would be an example that could be used if some reboot were to happen back to some point in the L5R cannon.

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This is not a spider or no spider issue. It is a bigger issue that that.

 

The idea that this does not apply because of the levels of cannonicity of the old version of the star wars universe is moderately superficial and irrelivant. FF has to move this towards a managable approach.

 

Another model would also be the way that disney (through Marvel)  handles the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In general it is simular but it would be an example that could be used if some reboot were to happen back to some point in the L5R cannon.

 

They'd have to with comics and the various reboots and re-imaging over the decades. That universe(s) are an absolute nightmare. L5R has a pretty solid basis without too many revisions, although there have been some re-imagining of various cards here and there.

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You can't just say "get rid of Spider everything is fine". For one, AEG tried to make the Spider do what they did for a good reason, they just failed to pull it off. If you take them out and leave the rest the same, you return to the state AEG was in when they started to make the Spider -- needing someone to do what the Spider was trying to do.

 

Two, Spider is just one problem, which people remember because it was the most recent. There's a LOT of problems in the setting, whether they are things that actively harm what the setting is attempting to do, or just things that don't make sense or impede understanding that we'd be better off without. If you go back to Clan War, without nostalgia goggles, and with a modern audience... you're not going to be returning to a golden era.

 

I say, reboot it. Use the original as inspiration the same way Marvel comics inspire Marvel movies, but hold to no particular detail so long as you get across the right spirit.

Edited by Huitzil37

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I say, reboot it. Use the original as inspiration the same way Marvel comics inspire Marvel movies, but hold to no particular detail so long as you get across the right spirit.

 

But please don´t do to much what some of the Marvel movies did. Thingslike the latest fantasic 4 movie or Iron Man 3 which degragded the Mandarin and his 10 Rings to a normal terroroist with an Organisation called the 10 Rings are just not really desirable because it takes to much away from the original and changes the spirit of it.

Edited by Teveshszat

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I don't want to bog down a conversation about L5R by debating how LucasFilm leveraged the canon concept. The big takeaways are:

 

(1) creators primarily care about continuity; canon is primarily a fan issue

 

(2) de-canonization doesn't have to mean information is irrelevant

 

Full disclosure, I am not setting up an argument for airbrushing Spider out of FFG's picture. To the contrary, I am suggesting that even if Spider (or any other aspect of previous canon) does not initially appear in FFG's L5R that does not mean that Spider (or whatever it might be) suddenly doesn't exist anymore.

 

Another thing to watch out for is approaching this in an overly literal way vis-a-vis the in-universe "history" of Rokugan. FFG has more freedom with L5R because it owns the IP. Contrast this to their Star Wars license, where FFG is bound by a setting that is not only preexisting but also managed and developed externally. So while FFG may have to focus on the Galactic Civil War era of Star Wars, they do not need to pick some point on the established L5R timeline. They can totally reinvent and reinterpret the history to the extent that could strengthen the brand.

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Reboots allow you to rethink damaging parts of the setting.

 

I think one of the things they should BURN WITH FIRE is the ridiculous distinction between Great Clans and Minor Clans. Make it Clans, period. Then we can have an absolutely open number of factions in the game and won't have to quibble over numbers and Spider/Mantis yay or nay; we could even leave it up in the air if the Mantis and Spider exist or not for a while, until they come out in an expansion. Or not. Maybe the Fox comes back instead.

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I say, reboot it. Use the original as inspiration the same way Marvel comics inspire Marvel movies, but hold to no particular detail so long as you get across the right spirit.

 

But please don´t do to much what some of the Marvel movies did. Things like the latest fantasic 4 movie 

 

 

The recent Fantastic 4 movie was FOX, not Marvel. Fantastic 4 was given lots of Marvel branding in trailers so FOX could fool the general audience into thinking that it was somehow tied to the MCU.

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The BURN WITH FIRE approach really makes no sense from the POV of someone trying to develop a property. There's no need to throw anything out. It can all go in a box called "Legends" or whatever and if something in the box would be useful, FFG can take it out and use it. Maybe some things will stay in the box indefinitely. But that's great for fans, who can always have fun discussing "wouldn't it be interesting if FFG were to take XYZ out of the box?" So even stuff that is not explicitly reincorporated (yet) retains relevance and is part of the brand's value.

 

I would guess that we will see a starter box with maybe four Clans: probably Crab, Crane, Lion, and Scorpion. I would also guess that the art for these cards will contain easter eggs for detail-scrutinizing fans wondering about the other Clans. FFG has done similar things with X-Wing, sowing little details that tease what's to come. I would personally love to see Rise of Mantis as its own box set. And keep in mind that however FFG actually does it, this won't be aimed at us. This is to introduce new people to Rokugan so that they can also fall in love with it. And that ultimately will greatly benefit us!

Edited by Manchu

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Another issue of importance in this Disney example is one of narrative frame.  Disney's frame for the "relaunch" of the franchise and the one established by the "Legends/Expanded Universe" canon lead to very different approaches to how writers are framing the property, with one dealing with a more realistic aftermath, while the other jumps ahead to launch new stories.  Both of them operate under a basic principle:  what was past was now canon, and we are now moving forward from it.  Yet, how they frame their respective narratives is now completely different, which will lead to much different interpretations of the setting, its characters, and its overall metaplot.

 

There is every indication that L5R will also be undergoing a Disney treatment, with shifts in both time and narrative frame.  FFG will likely want to figure out what they do with the property, decide on what frame they are going to use to approach it, and then revamp the setting to fit that frame.  I can easily see factions becoming more or less important in the scheme of things, with some available at launch, others available later, and finally some getting written out all together.  Since we don't know how they are framing L5R, we can only speculate how everything will fit together, but knowing FFG, it will fit together.  To me, the biggest question is whether the frame will be Rokugan vs. Jigoku, Factions vs Factions, or Rokugan vs. External Threat.  Once FFG answers this question, we can begin to figure out what the setting will look like.

 

Given how many conversations on this board have developed, I do have the feeling that sweeping changes are in store for the game and the setting.  To the casual observer and likely FFG member, the amount of posts outlining what needs to be in the setting in order to work is likely pretty alienating.  Taking what once was, moving ahead on their own terms, and developing their own approach to the brand is probably the most effective outcome to the relaunch.  While it may put off some hardcore fans of the brand, there is really no way to move the game forward without a brand new vision.

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Great point about framing the setting. I think the Clans are the greatest strength of this IP. Customers love to pick favorites, take sides, root for and against teams. This is so much more interactive than a light against dark binary.

 

I also totally agree about how 'hardcore' discussion can be off-putting. It is definitely a good thing that L5R is so rich. But a conversation that new folks find impossible to join is a liability.

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The advice to remember with any potential rework of a setting is "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." 

 

 

We can assume that FFG spent the money to aquire this particular baby for reasons that don't include alienating large sections of the old playerbase. 

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Great point about framing the setting. I think the Clans are the greatest strength of this IP. Customers love to pick favorites, take sides, root for and against teams. This is so much more interactive than a light against dark binary.

 

That's what usually separates L5R from other ccgs: some actual loyalty beyond simply buying expansions for more cardboard.

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After all, we are a captive market. We will buy, or at least engage with, products that we don't like even if it's only to complain about them. Strike one.

 

Great post and I agree with most of it, but I really want to comment on this: This is a very dangerous assumption to make and I don't think any serious company should make it. Not in the era of internet piracy. I've found RPGs on the internet that I've never even heard abount, much less though someone could have pirated it. Have you ever heard of The Whispering Vault RPG? Basically a game of Pinhead and his cenobite friends versus Cthulhu. I can't even fathom how small a following this RPG must've had... and yet, it was on the intertubes.

 

 

Reboots allow you to rethink damaging parts of the setting.

 

I think one of the things they should BURN WITH FIRE is the ridiculous distinction between Great Clans and Minor Clans. Make it Clans, period. Then we can have an absolutely open number of factions in the game and won't have to quibble over numbers and Spider/Mantis yay or nay; we could even leave it up in the air if the Mantis and Spider exist or not for a while, until they come out in an expansion. Or not. Maybe the Fox comes back instead.

 

Huh. Cool idea. I have to admit that I've never thought about doing that directly (or forgot that I thought about doing that, it is a possibility...), yet many decisions I've made in my games was nudging the setting towards this...

 

 

The advice to remember with any potential rework of a setting is "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." 

 

 

We can assume that FFG spent the money to aquire this particular baby for reasons that don't include alienating large sections of the old playerbase. 

 

But *how large* is the old playerbase really? Wizards of the Coast had "no problem" alienating most of it's playerbase when they made D&D 4e and then doing it AGAIN with D&D 5e. And they had a lot more to lose than FFG have now, with the acquisition of L5R.

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But *how large* is the old playerbase really? Wizards of the Coast had "no problem" alienating most of it's playerbase when they made D&D 4e and then doing it AGAIN with D&D 5e. And they had a lot more to lose than FFG have now, with the acquisition of L5R.

 

 

Actually the 5th edition did not alienate their players so muc. The reason for this was that wizzards did one of the best beta phases I ever saw and participated in. Providing the entire material without any cost and beeing completly open for changes was a very great approach and lead to actuall 175,000 people testing it. So to be clear a huge part of the world wide fan base was involved and so not so many player were alienated cause they actually had time to adapt and to say if something should be changed or kept. 

 

For L5R I think the perchentage of old players is not as high as old D&D players and therefore it should not be such a danger if you alienate some of them but for the best result I would like to have a beta phase like the D&D 5th editon one and get all players the chance to work on the product they love and want to buy. 

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The advice to remember with any potential rework of a setting is "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." 

 

 

We can assume that FFG spent the money to aquire this particular baby for reasons that don't include alienating large sections of the old playerbase. 

"Don't misidentify bathwater as being a vital part of the baby."

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But *how large* is the old playerbase really? Wizards of the Coast had "no problem" alienating most of it's playerbase when they made D&D 4e and then doing it AGAIN with D&D 5e. And they had a lot more to lose than FFG have now, with the acquisition of L5R.

 

 

Actually the 5th edition did not alienate their players so muc. The reason for this was that wizzards did one of the best beta phases I ever saw and participated in. Providing the entire material without any cost and beeing completly open for changes was a very great approach and lead to actuall 175,000 people testing it. So to be clear a huge part of the world wide fan base was involved and so not so many player were alienated cause they actually had time to adapt and to say if something should be changed or kept. 

 

For L5R I think the perchentage of old players is not as high as old D&D players and therefore it should not be such a danger if you alienate some of them but for the best result I would like to have a beta phase like the D&D 5th editon one and get all players the chance to work on the product they love and want to buy. 

 

 

Yes, it was a nice little play test and I'm glad I was a part of it. It was one of the reasons why I posted about having a beta test for the LCG.

 

My only problem with 5th edition is the way it has been handled after launch. Mostly from a lack of books and the push for just campaign books, which are largely pretty lackluster. And maybe because Pathfinder pumps out material on a consistent basis.

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The advice to remember with any potential rework of a setting is "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." 

 

 

We can assume that FFG spent the money to aquire this particular baby for reasons that don't include alienating large sections of the old playerbase. 

 

"Don't misidentify bathwater as being a vital part of the baby."

 

 

 

If we want to play the "run the analogy into the ground" game... identifying the baby usually isn't the problem. 

Edited by MaxKilljoy

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The advice to remember with any potential rework of a setting is "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." 

 

 

We can assume that FFG spent the money to aquire this particular baby for reasons that don't include alienating large sections of the old playerbase. 

 

But as seen on this forum, the issue quickly becomes one of advancement vs. appeasement, and the hand-off offers the best opportunity to address this issue.  To be frank, L5R, in both its CCG and RPG form, has been showing its age for quite some time now.  Both formats use antiquated rules and design choices that have largely been abandoned in modern games.  A number of problems arose from this desire to appease the old playerbase rather than taking necessary steps to modernize the games and make them more accessible to a wider audience, particularly at a time when attendance numbers and sales were sagging.  

 

Now, I do feel that FFG understands that the old playerbase does have a stake in the new LCG (and other games for that matter), but they are also looking at the larger picture, which is coaxing players who left back to the game, as well as inviting a host of new players from across their other product lines into the property.  They will redesign and market this brand to the widest segment of their customers, moves that will likely require them to revise certain aspects of the game and setting, including some of the "sacred cows" outlined across the forum.  While this decision might not sit well with some, it is honestly the best decision to revitalize a struggling brand and bring a host of new and returning players to the game.

Edited by Osmo

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