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Zarasu

[RPG] Winter Court 5

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I mean, can you tell me how an L5R game revolving around peace would work? Players actually cooperating cross-faction to build up cities, advance technology, feed the hungry and actually work towards Rokugan prospering? Do you really think any players would actually engage in those goals?

 

If only there were win conditions other than military, ones about gaining honor or enlightenment or something like that. Even a dishonor player can easily be non militant, if they don't go attacking and killing their political opponents. A peaceful game can easily be played, and conflict can still be found in peace.

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if everyone lives completely at peace there is nothing for samurai to do

 

Well, as a caste that has complete monopoly over high education and thus literally all intellectual pursuits, this statement as-is might be objectively wrong. The correct sentence would be "if everyone lives completely at peace there is nothing for the bushi to do" - and this is still at least partially wrong because you have to maintain that peace somehow and you would need plenty of quality muscle (=bushi) for that. 

 

 

Okay, let me put this another way....

The entire game this setting is based in deals with warfare. There has never been a L5R storyline that dealt with tax collecting, gain harvesting, resource allocation and construction. Every storyline requires some sort of warfare-- someone against someone-- otherwise there is no plotline for player to engage with.

 

I mean, can you tell me how an L5R game revolving around peace would work? Players actually cooperating cross-faction to build up cities, advance technology, feed the hungry and actually work towards Rokugan prospering? Do you really think any players would actually engage in those goals?

 

 

Well, *I* played Virtuous Charity, even if no one else did.   :P

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Sounds like a cool Board Game, though.

 

 

 

if everyone lives completely at peace there is nothing for samurai to do

 

Well, as a caste that has complete monopoly over high education and thus literally all intellectual pursuits, this statement as-is might be objectively wrong. The correct sentence would be "if everyone lives completely at peace there is nothing for the bushi to do" - and this is still at least partially wrong because you have to maintain that peace somehow and you would need plenty of quality muscle (=bushi) for that. 

 

 

Okay, let me put this another way....

The entire game this setting is based in deals with warfare. There has never been a L5R storyline that dealt with tax collecting, gain harvesting, resource allocation and construction. Every storyline requires some sort of warfare-- someone against someone-- otherwise there is no plotline for player to engage with.

 

I mean, can you tell me how an L5R game revolving around peace would work? Players actually cooperating cross-faction to build up cities, advance technology, feed the hungry and actually work towards Rokugan prospering? Do you really think any players would actually engage in those goals?

 

 

Sounds like a nice idea for a L5R themed Board Game though.

Edited by Tetsuhiko

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I mean, can you tell me how an L5R game revolving around peace would work? Players actually cooperating cross-faction to build up cities, advance technology, feed the hungry and actually work towards Rokugan prospering? Do you really think any players would actually engage in those goals?

 

 

I observed many of the players in parts of Winter Court IV doing exactly this.  Enjoying themselves while coming up with ways in character to make Rokugan a better place.

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And this aspect of Winter Court 4 was boring as hell because that is not how Interclan affairs in Rokugan normaly work. You don´t go and be friendly to everyone and I hope that the Wintercourt 5 will give us more incentetives to go back to inter clan distrust and tension so that the game 

can get intertaining through inter clan  intrigues and challanges and will not go down the peace for alll road again because  tension and distrust mixed with manipulation in favor of the goals of the own clan is far more Rokugani than all clans working together for one goal.

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And this aspect of Winter Court 4 was boring as hell because that is not how Interclan affairs in Rokugan normaly work. You don´t go and be friendly to everyone and I hope that the Wintercourt 5 will give us more incentetives to go back to inter clan distrust and tension so that the game 

can get intertaining through inter clan  intrigues and challanges and will not go down the peace for alll road again because  tension and distrust mixed with manipulation in favor of the goals of the own clan is far more Rokugani than all clans working together for one goal.

The Wintercourt 4 scoring system was seriously problematic since it actively forced several of the less honorable clans to play against type.

 

It was hard playing a clan that did not care for honor when gaining honor was an important contributor to your final score.

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And this aspect of Winter Court 4 was boring as hell because that is not how Interclan affairs in Rokugan normaly work. You don´t go and be friendly to everyone and I hope that the Wintercourt 5 will give us more incentetives to go back to inter clan distrust and tension so that the game 

can get intertaining through inter clan  intrigues and challanges and will not go down the peace for alll road again because  tension and distrust mixed with manipulation in favor of the goals of the own clan is far more Rokugani than all clans working together for one goal.

The Wintercourt 4 scoring system was seriously problematic since it actively forced several of the less honorable clans to play against type.

 

It was hard playing a clan that did not care for honor when gaining honor was an important contributor to your final score.

 

 

Honor is nice and all... means they can say a lot of gallant things about you at your funeral.

 

But glory, power and riches is what makes it so that anyone even shows up to your funeral to hear that speech.

 

Not sure why that would have been built right into the scoring system-- honor is your trustworthiness and in itself should be the tool that allows you to get what you really need to get.

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I will offer this for thought:

 

I was myself one of the (more-or-less) peaceful people of WC 4. I enjoyed the heck out of it. 

 

It is easy to forget sometimes when talking about Rokugan as a whole that the Clans may have agendas as a whole, but the people carrying them out are just that: people. Yes, people who seek glory through the death/humiliation of their foes, people who are part of a society that demands their servile obedience, people who can answer slights with the 3-foot razor they have strapped to their hips at all times. But they are also people who can watch their children rally a bunch of heimen kids to ride down a street on a cart to save another child from bullies. They are people who can make mistakes, losing everything in one brief moment, then spend the rest of the season clawing their way back to dignity with the help of those close to them. They are people who can share a drink with lifelong friends, laughing to conceal the sadness of knowing that, come the spring, they may have to kill one another for the Clan's honor.

 

That is what the RPG, in many ways, is about. The card game is good enough for showing the face of violence and conflict in Rokugan, but short of a few well-written flavor texts, the story of the Samurai of Rokugan is told through fictions, RPG sessions, and yes, Winter Court.

 

By all means, have your character want things that will cause conflict. Have them cause that conflict.

 

But do not dismiss the peaceful moments out of hand. Rokugan is a strange land of many rules, but the people living in it are still (for the most part) human. Winter Court is a strange case wherein many of said humans are forced to interact with other humans they would never even consider speaking to in another Court, simply because they are eating in the same tea house, and to give insult by leaving abruptly might damage their Clan's position. When they are forced to interact with this human, anything could happen. It could come to steel. They could find common ground they never expected. They could become friends. They could strike up a courtly romance. They could poison one another and frame the Scorpion. They could come across a way of thinking that they never would have considered before. They could simply make idle conversation about the quality of the tea.

 

The actual Court aspect of Winter Court takes up a significant part of the day, but for the rest of said day, the delegates are merely humans in a variety of technicolor kimonos, freezing their collective asses off while snowed in with a bunch of other color-coded humans. What goes on in the time between Court sessions is as much a part of the Winter Court experience as people shouting ideology and rhetoric on the dias until the poor Chancellor has an aneurysm.

 

Also, GM talk now.

 

Please do not start up combat about the WC 4 scoring system. That is a can of worms that has been picked at long enough. This topic is about WC 5. Carry on.

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Some of the best stuff to come out of Winter Court IV revolved around the efforts of the Unicorn and Phoenix delegations to seek peace- even though we all knew that since the cards were already at the printers that the war was on rails in terms of not being ended during Winter Court.

 

Seeking peace is not inherently boring. The fallout of the failure of the treaty the delegations agreed upon (due, in essence, to their superiors going "no way are we doing that") had a lot of potential for interesting character bits.

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No peaceful times are not boring per se and it I actually like them because they are a good addtion to the game and mask the intrigues that are spun and thought of under the surface of these peace.

The thing is that the thought of peace dominated the winter court so hard that this intrigue heavy aspect was put into the background while it originally shoudl be the main focus of the wintercourt.

Your clan goes there to accumulate more power than the other clans. You go there to make peace with others on your conditions and not theirs. And when your are not in the court you still at work and

need to manipulate people to drive your goals forward.  So I don´t mean we need actual warfare there but I really hope the next court has more deadliness and intrigues in it than the last and in the result remebers

me at the politics of the Lanisters because we pay our debts.

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The thing is that the thought of peace dominated the winter court so hard that this intrigue heavy aspect was put into the background while it originally shoudl be the main focus of the wintercourt.

 

Errrrrr.... only if you're talking about the Phoenix and the Unicorn specifically. The rest of us.... not really all that peacefull. Not at all  :ph34r:

 

Much backroom dealing, backstabbing and aggressive politicking was had at Winter Court. Here's to hoping the same will happen next December :D

Edited by Bayushi Karyudo

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The "peaceful" forum game vs. the PvP forum game (Winter Court or otherwise) is a debate resulting in a balance that's really tough to pull off. Mainly because, while we may talk about liking one or the other, a lot of folks don't really know what they want. Or, in many cases, what they want changes with the situation. When a game's more aggressively PvP, the folks that end up on the losing end of it tend to get upset and call for a more player-friendly setting. When a game's more peaceful, whether it's actual peace or just perceived that way, it's often the same folks calling for a more aggressively PvP game.

In the end, I think it falls to the players to decide how much or how little PvP (or whatever you want to call it) there's going to be in a game, during that game. Want things to be less peaceful? Take the initiative and bring a conflict to the forefront. Want things less aggressive? Hold your next meeting over tea, or in a public locale where being outwardly antagonistic is more frowned upon.

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Mainly because, while we may talk about liking one or the other, a lot of folks don't really know what they want. Or, in many cases, what they want changes with the situation. When a game's more aggressively PvP, the folks that end up on the losing end of it tend to get upset and call for a more player-friendly setting. When a game's more peaceful, whether it's actual peace or just perceived that way, it's often the same folks calling for a more aggressively PvP game.

Amen to that, brother.

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Thing is if you get told often enough that you can´t do this or your delegation will not suport it because hey we need to be friendly to the other delegations and that we can´t go and manipulate them and blackmail them because that would not be nice and could result in them not liking us,

than I at least going to assume no one of my delegation has any intrest in something other than peace and I was an Otomo, we are the ones that are manipulators by default and not some peace machines like the miya.

 

 

In the end, I think it falls to the players to decide how much or how little PvP (or whatever you want to call it) there's going to be in a game, during that game. Want things to be less peaceful? Take the initiative and bring a conflict to the forefront. Want things less aggressive? Hold your next meeting over tea, or in a public locale where being outwardly antagonistic is more frowned upon.

 

I agree. I hope this time it works out better than last time with the Otomo peace delegation.^^

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The Otomo agenda at WCIV made perfect sense given the position they and the Empire were in. The job of the Otomo is not fundamentally "make the Clans fight each other". The job of the Otomo is to preserve the authority of the Throne (and of the Otomo family). One of the major tools that they employ to this end is to goad the Clans into conflict to ensure that they cannot ally with one another to defy the Throne. If the Clans are already in conflict, however, then that is not necessary; it is instead the job of the Otomo to ensure that it doesn't grow too large or damaging. Empire-wide warfare is catastrophic for the Otomo, because it undermines the political structure that the Otomo depend on. The Otomo have no armies of their own; their influence depends on their ability to influence how the Clans talk to one another. If the Clans are all fighting instead of talking to one another, they are impotent.

 

In the case of WCIV, most of the Clans of the Empire were waging an undeclared war over which of the Empress' sons should succeed her. This was an unmitigated disaster for the Otomo; not only did it threaten to embroil the entire Empire in a Clan War-scale conflict if it spread to the mainland, it was also an implicit challenge to the authority of the Empress (on which the Otomo depend). For the Otomo to do anything except try to contain it would have been suicide. The reason why they had an additional objective of "make sure no-one talks about it" were never specified, but there are a number of strong possibilities. Perhaps they were afraid that discussing the conflict in open court would risk airing the associated grievances and spreading it to the mainland (again, an existential disaster for the Otomo). Perhaps they were afraid that the mere mention of the conflict would undermine the prestige of the Iweko dynasty - we know from card flavour text that they were already at work making sure that nothing about the conflict was entered into the historical record. Perhaps they were afraid that the mere fact of the conflict's existence would embarrass them personally - after all, it blew up on the watch of an Otomo governor, with a strong Otomo presence at her court, and yet she and they failed spectacularly to either head it off or contain it. Perhaps it was some combination of those. Regardless, it was a completely sensible objective on their part.

 

You will note that the Imperial delegation was not assigned to do anything about the sanctioned inter-Clan wars (Crab-Spider, Lion-Scorpion, Phoenix-Unicorn) or to prevent new ones from occurring, because those did not threaten the Otomo family's power base; they were business as usual. The Otomo were free to milk them for whatever political benefits they could get, either encouraging them, mediating them, favouring one side in exchange for concessions, whatever.

Edited by General Tacticus

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You will note that the Imperial delegation was not assigned to do anything about the sanctioned inter-Clan wars (Crab-Spider, Lion-Scorpion, Phoenix-Unicorn) or to prevent new ones from occurring, because those did not threaten the Otomo family's power base; they were business as usual. The Otomo were free to milk them for whatever political benefits they could get, either encouraging them, mediating them, favouring one side in exchange for concessions, whatever.

 

For the most part they seemed to ignore them, alas.

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You will note that the Imperial delegation was not assigned to do anything about the sanctioned inter-Clan wars (Crab-Spider, Lion-Scorpion, Phoenix-Unicorn) or to prevent new ones from occurring, because those did not threaten the Otomo family's power base; they were business as usual. The Otomo were free to milk them for whatever political benefits they could get, either encouraging them, mediating them, favouring one side in exchange for concessions, whatever.

 

For the most part they seemed to ignore them, alas.

 

 

Indeed, which was their choice. Perhaps it was a mistake... but given how much trouble Demiyah got into with the Scorpion in the first week, and how much else they had on their plate, perhaps it was wise. Given that the only goals they outright failed were either unachievable (keep the Crane from concluding any treaties with anyone? Come on, AEG, that was never happening) or outside their control (have their chosen heir inherit), I find it hard to fault their overall strategy too much.

 

(Mind, I'm not sure how they qualified as succeeding in their objective to "See that, until the end of Winter Court, no proclamations or other forms of formal address regarding the growing conflict between Traditionalist and Progressive factions in the Colonies are brought before the Imperial Court by any faction in general, and by the Crane Clan in particular." given that the Crane presented not one but two petitions on the subject, but apparently they did.)

 

You will note that the Imperial delegation was not assigned to do anything about the sanctioned inter-Clan wars (Crab-Spider, Lion-Scorpion, Phoenix-Unicorn) or to prevent new ones from occurring, because those did not threaten the Otomo family's power base; they were business as usual. The Otomo were free to milk them for whatever political benefits they could get, either encouraging them, mediating them, favouring one side in exchange for concessions, whatever.

 

For the most part they seemed to ignore them, alas.

 

 

Indeed, which was their choice. Perhaps it was a mistake... but given how much trouble Demiyah got into with the Scorpion in the first week, and how much else they had on their plate, perhaps it was wise. Given that the only goals they outright failed were either unachievable (keep the Crane from concluding any treaties with anyone? Come on, AEG, that was never happening) or outside their control (have their chosen heir inherit), I find it hard to fault their overall strategy too much.

 

(Mind, I'm not sure how they qualified as succeeding in their objective to "See that, until the end of Winter Court, no proclamations or other forms of formal address regarding the growing conflict between Traditionalist and Progressive factions in the Colonies are brought before the Imperial Court by any faction in general, and by the Crane Clan in particular." given that the Crane presented not one but two petitions on the subject, but apparently they did.)

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I was Otomo Koji during Winter Court IV and specifically in charge of not letting anyone making a formal address regarding the ''growing conflict''. We actually asked our AGM clarifications regarding that goal because it appeared almost as impossible to achieve than not making the Crane make new alliances (like you said, as if that was going to be possible)

 

It was ok if the conflict was mentionned, as long as no link to the Imperial Heirs was apparent. In addition, as the conflict was common knowledge at the time, we had to make sure it's growing nature stayed unclear. As such, the Crane did make petitions concerning the subject, but if my memory is right, neither mentionned the heirs and were in fact aimed at lessening it rather than expanding it, clearly in line with our goal.

 

I'm writing this from memory, so I'm a little bit fuzzy about the details. 

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Aha. The wording of the objective itself makes it sound like it was the ideological dimension that mattered, not the connection to the heirs. But having the concern be specifically about the heirs is both more sensible from a game-design perspective (in that it makes the objective actually realisically achievable) and much more in line with what the Imperial Families actually care about (bunch of dirtbag Colonials scrapping over what kind of kimono to wear? Wevs, let the Clans pick up their own garbage. Clan samurai fighting over the Imperial succession? DANGER WILL ROBINSON, RED ALERT RED ALERT, ALL HANDS ON DECK). So while that seems like something of a rewrite of the objective to me, it's a sensible one and I approve.

 

And yes, the Crane did specifically avoid mentioning the fact that the heirs were involved in the conflict (for which you can thank the Lion ;) they were very adamant on that point, and as our objective did not require us to bring that aspect to light, it was one we were willing to give them). And indeed, the whole purpose of our strategy (besides "make the Otomo look ineffectual by showing that we're doing their jobs better than they are") was to lessen or, ideally, end the conflict.

 

So that explains that. Thank you for clarifying :)

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It is similar to how the Spider Clan failed in the objective of "Have the Imperial Families publicly name two Spider to positions in the Imperial Bureaucracy." We actually came out of that with four positions in the Imperial Bureaucracy, but we got them from the Crane / Imperial fiat, and not from the Imperial Families. It was part of the reason we went to the Crane in the first place was the "We can have no public dealings with you," message our ambassador to the Imperials came back to us with. We basically burned that bridge like a crazy person, and threw our lot in with the Crane in hopes to score partial points.

 

We did not.

 

Ultimate lesson: Point systems suck, and no one walked out of WC IV feeling good about the scoring system.

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I recall the Crab and Scorpion being big enthusiasts... but no, it was not a well-conceived system at all. I think a points system for what they were going for could have worked, but it should have a) not weighted Honour/Glory/Status nearly so highly (and possibly not at all), because that promoted busy-work from everyone and was hilariously open to gaming the system; and b) been much more flexible about objectives and partial or creative fulfillment thereof, possibly with a lot more in the way of sub-objectives to measure progress towards each overall goal.

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We appreciate bringing up issues about past winter courts. However, we would like this panel to be about the future of Winter Court and not it's past.

 

And if you have any deep concerns about the lore, mechanics or the GMs' lives, feel free to send them to our AMA thread. https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/219436-rpg-winter-court-5-ask-the-gms-anything/

Edited by Zarasu

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The funny part about the Spider/Imperial relationship was is it was all a misunderstanding. There was two things we wanted to keep a secret, and that was a cooperative effort to undermine the Crane and the reconstruction of Otosan Uchi (we were all for it, but openly aligning with the Spider on this issue meant losing the support of the Crab and the Lion. We wanted to do a more behind the scene support for the project).

 

We were more than happy to openly deal with the Spider Clan on different matters (including naming two of them in important positions). 

 

 

The biggest disappointment for the Imperial Families concerning the point system was about the Emperor's Blessing. What was supposed to be one of our biggest assets ended up being given away without our consent to a delegation we didn't want to support.

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