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crane story is up

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4 hours ago, KerenRhys said:

She didn't throw her secrecy plan just to see some action but to save at least one of her clansmen. And seeing that he struggled against three peasants, there's nothing implying that Nerishma (or any other unnamed guard of the caravan) could have beat a Niten-trained samurai. So, she may have been the only one able to easily kill him and limit the losses on the Crane side.

You're also jumping to conclusion pretty quickly on Satsume's assassin being Kachiko's brother. With Scorpion being the "obvious" choice and Kachiko's brother being the first suspect mentioned, it looks a lot like a false trail and something to add tension between the two lovers. It's far too "easy" for him to be the real culprit.

I also feel that some people are forgetting that those stories are not only targeted toward people who already know the different clans like the back of their hand. I'm thinking of your distate of the focus on pursuit of perfection. I'd guess it's because you already know that's one of the (if not THE) Crane main theme, but that's not the case for newcomers. So it's very important to put some focus on it for them to have a feeling of what is important to that clan. I think we'll see similar focus (which will seem obvious to returning players) for the future Clans' introduction story.

Well, I honestly didn't know that obsession with perfection was one of the defining traits of the Crane.  If that's the way it is, then fine, but I just felt it was portrayed rather poorly in this story.

And quite frankly, the fact that he was able to take three opponents at once (who had ambushed him, no less), peasants or no, speaks quite highly of Nerishma's skill.  I don't know whether he could have taken the ronin or not, but I see no reason to think he couldn't, and I can't imagine that two or more guards couldn't have handled the ronin if they worked together.

As for Kachiko's brother being the assassin, I think it would depend a lot on how they portrayed it.  If they just played it straight, then yes it would be a very unsatisfying story.  What gets me, though, is that it's far too obvious that that's the "wrong" conclusion to jump to.  Again, the story is far too over-the-top in its portrayal (piling on the evidence), so there's not really any dramatic tension for the reader, even if there is for the characters.  In fact, the more I think about it the more I think that the main problem with this story is that it's simply too close to the characters, and could have benefited from taking a step or two back.  As it is, the only way I can really see this particular element being resolved satisfactorily would be if it ends up being a double-bluff, where Hotaru ends up dismissing Kachiko's brother as a suspect in favor of some other candidate, only to have it end up having been him the whole time.

3 hours ago, YasukiKaito said:

I think that one thing we should maybe keep in mind is that a lot of these first fictions might be written with a new audience in mind, that hasn't spent the last 20 years reading AEG's fictions.  So I think some 'clunkiness' or straight forward writing is to be expected, and is warranted.  Not everyone is going to know what Niten, or the proper honorifics (-ue, -san, -sama etc.) are, and I think the writing should be accessible to new players.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that we probably should not be judging the writing or fictions based on the groundwork that they are laying right now with the first few stories. 

(I mean I thought it was a good story, but that's just me! :))

For me, the clunkiness doesn't really come from the explanations, but rather just that the writing style just didn't seem to fit the setting.  Again, I think part of this is a result of the narration just being too close.  Don't try to put us in the characters' heads.  Take a step back and let us watch the characters a bit from an outside perspective, rather than trying to be so "over-the-shoulder".

3 hours ago, WHW said:

The dude was a samurai. They fought a duel like civilized samurai and she gave him a honorable death (instead of capturing him alive, torturing and then beheading in public). If she did anything else, she would be a terrible example of a Crane to have your first exposition as a reader to. 

 

Which brings me to something I will criticize this fiction for: it feels like a fiction made by an Old L5R Writer writing for Old L5R Readers in New L5R World. I don't think this piece works very well as first introduction to the world - it's not something I would show someone who is interested in trying out the new card game but didn't engage with the lore of old one. 

Well, why even bother having the ambush occur as portrayed in the first place, then?  Why not have an ambush take place when Hotaru's not trying to hide her identity?  Why even have her trying to hide her identity in the first place, when it doesn't even succeed?  If all we're trying to establish is that peasants are hungry, Hotaru can fight, and Kachiko's really well informed, then there are many other ways to accomplish these things much less awkwardly.  The whole thing doesn't really make much sense other than to scream, "HOTARU DOESN'T REALLY HAVE A CLUE WHAT SHE'S DOING!"

19 minutes ago, Kubernes said:

"Fighting the desire to smile, to rush at Kachiko and embrace her, Hotaru simply bowed." Kachiko touching a flower whose meaning is secret love? Hatoru wanting to kiss her or be with her now?  Geeeeeeeezzzzzzzzz :rolleyes:

I was going to comment about how ridiculous it was for hanakotoba to even have a flower meaning "secret love", since hanakotoba is probably practiced by many, so it wouldn't remain a secret very long.  Then I looked it up and it's apparently a real thing for gardenias to mean that.  Still doesn't make it any less stupid, but I guess I at least can't fault the author for that one.

1 minute ago, Builder2 said:

This was explained. Kachiko is the most beautiful woman in the Empire. And when it's a Crane making that assessment of a Scorpion, you know that it is both 1) accurate and 2) untainted by bias.

Is that really a good enough reason, though?  Physical beauty is hardly a reason in itself to be that obsessed with someone, especially when one knows (as Hotaru clearly does) that Kachiko is a manipulative seductress.  Maybe we'll find out that Kachiko's brother has somehow been drugging Hotaru's tea?

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1 hour ago, RandomJC said:

Speaking as someone who doesn't know why Shizue needed a cane, it didn't bother me. It really doesn't matter to the story that she has one.

As someone else who also didn't know, that actually did bother me. As canes are traditionally associated with "elder" people (I realize that it's by no means limited to) I originally imagined Shizue as an older woman. Than I found out she was Hotaru's sister and I got confused and came out without a clear mental image of her.

I did like it a lot, but that and a couple other unclear references to places did bother me, as a new fan.

Edited by Zalari

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3 hours ago, kpsmith said:

Agreed. Hoturu was nothing but discreet - people are reading thoughts and emotions as actions. Shizue clearly didn't pick up on a thing.

I guarantee that Shizue knows what's up, even if dear sister would never admit to it.

Shizue just got kicked out of her own room so that the Heroine of the Hour could be alone with the most beautiful woman in the Empire who just so happens to be from their ancestral political rival.

As a storyteller, Shizue would have read pillow books with more subtlety than the situation she's found herself in.

She would also be keenly aware that those stories almost always end in tragedy.

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4 hours ago, Kakita Renju said:

The phoenix's strength in warfare is their synergy between bushi and shugenja.
They have skillful shiba bushi boosted by magic.
 

Fixed that for ya ;)

Edited by Isawa Syd

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10 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

Is that really a good enough reason, though?  Physical beauty is hardly a reason in itself to be that obsessed with someone, especially when one knows (as Hotaru clearly does) that Kachiko is a manipulative seductress.

It's not a good reason, no. But good decisions make for poor storytelling. Characters need to have flaws to be believable, and I find a weakness for beauty to be a clever and unique flaw for a Crane in particular to have.

Edited by Builder2

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I remember terryfing tales of AEG fiction writers not being paid, being paid late, or being paid "with product", which probably meant cards that didn't sell. 

 

@ JJ48

I think that mentioning Kachiko's brother isn't there to play the game of "SUSPECT HIM OR NOT". It's more to naturally introduce an idea that "Scorpions might equal dangerous people who play with dirty tricks". This isn't a mystery game where you are supposed to make an informed judgement of "is it him or not", not yet anyway. Remember, this is worldbuilding for people who might not know that Scorpion are trouble. The fact that someone who literally wants to jump at Kachiko and kiss her simultaneously acknowledge the fact that this person (or her brother) might be personally responsible for her father's death...tells a lot. Both about Hotaru and about Scorpion clan.

As for ambush, I assume that Hotaru used to travel incognito before - probably mostly from when she wasn't a Clan Champion. Her making a mistake is a good thing - this way, we aren't simply told "She is an inexperienced Champion who still isn't used to her role" - we see it with our own eyes. However, we are also told that the idea wasn't dumb, so Hotaru isn't dumb for trying to do so (in fact, she is complimented for the attempt by an authority). This leaves a question of "why did she fail, then", other than lack of experience?

Her sense of duty and intuitive need to protect others, of course. Seeing that her brothers, her subjects, her people are in grave danger, her first thought was to jump in and end the bloodshed as fast as possibly, while also honoring the enemy samurai. This tells us that she is a honorable bushi first, Clan Champion second. When faced with a set of choices, she gave priority to acting like a proper bushi - fighting alongside her comrades and respecting her opponent - over being a calculating schemer. Sure, she could ignore the fight...but people would ask why the hell ronin we paid for did not fight. Or, she could hide her abilities and potentially see someone mowed down by bandits. 

Either way, we now know that she is smart (capable of hatching a good plan, according to Kachiko) and virtuous, but still thinks like a bushi running around and doing quests, instead of thinking like a politician clan champion. Which is perfectly fine.

Also, we also probably can guess that ronins motive moved her, because she feels responsible for people starving. It isn't said directly, but there are pretty good clues towards that.

 

I don't understand whats so ridiculous about a flower having a meaning of secret love. O_o Are you laughing about people "getting a hint" about an affair? That's...kinda the point. Having an affair isn't nothing bad, as long as you can maintain plausible deniability. Indeed, having a plausibly deniable affair with friggin Kachiko is probably something you would want to brag about for Cool Reputation Points. Everyone know what is going on, but nobody can act on it, because it's impolite. 

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1 minute ago, Builder2 said:

It's not a good reason, no. But good decisions make for poor storytelling. Characters need to have flaws to be believable, and I find a weakness for beauty to be a clever and unique flaw for a Crane in particular to have.

How is that clever or unique?!  And how on Earth do good decisions make for poor storytelling?!?!  Characters having flaws doesn't mean they have to be complete imbeciles, incapable of rational thought!!

We're not talking about some random pretty lady here, who Hotaru just decides to pursue on a whim.  We're talking about a woman known to be a calculating seductress, whose clan is known for manipulation, and whose clan is also at odds -- politically -- with Hotaru's clan.  There needs to be more of a reason given than simply, "she's kind of cute," if we expect the story to work at all!

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Actually, I wonder what gave Hotaru away. Nerishma "worked very hard at pretending that his champion isn't few paces away" from him for the rest of the journey, so Hotaru probably maintained her disguise despite the fight. Maybe it was Seppun Shugenja, being all like "oh, there is a new caravan and someone is hurt, im gonna heal the----HOLY CRANE CLAN CHAMPION" :P. 

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3 minutes ago, Isawa Syd said:

Fixed that for ya ;)

This fix is correct. While "magically-boosted samurai" is also a Dragon thing, it is most keenly associated with the Phoenix, whose shugenja do not normally participate in warfare beyond the "bless this army" phase.

Whereas the Dragon's strength in warfare is that the shugenja also willingly fight at the front line, having grown up with partially the same combat training as their bushi comrades. This was as true with the Agasha as it was with the (now non-existent) Tamori.

Plus the monks are famous for enlightenening fully armored bushi using their hands and feet.

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56 minutes ago, hidasaurus said:

I am tempted to start a thread to see who all are the old timers who have followed L5R story for a while and who is reading this with fresh eyes.  And what they both thought of this article respectively.

For me, I just had a brief stint playing around Celestial, and I was doing all I could to catch up on the story but only really had time to keep up on the current happenings and some more in depth reading on my crab clan.

But for me I really enjoyed this read.  There were some parts more interesting than others, but overall I just enjoyed getting thrust into the L5R.  I suppose if I had a deeper attachment to how things went down first time around I would possibly be more critical or constantly comparing between past and present story.  Kind of glad I don't have that "baggage" as I feel it makes it easier for me to sit back and enjoy the ride.

I've read the fiction describing the Dawn of the Empire and a bit of stuff from Gold/Diamond*, so I have no idea who most of these people are, outside of remembering a few cards from "Siege:  Clan War".  That being said, I think it works both ways.  There are some people who let their knowledge of the previous setting interfere with their ability to enjoy the current setting, but there are also those old fans who want new fiction so badly that they would hail lorem ipsum to be a riveting read, well worth the wait, if enough clans were referenced.  I'm not saying this story is bad, just that bias is not exclusive to those who dislike the story.

* I also started reading some of the Ivory stuff, but after discovering that the Toturi dynasty no longer existed, I figured I should go back and find out what happened, and haven't caught up yet.

35 minutes ago, Zalari said:

As someone else who also didn't know, that actually did bother me. As canes are traditionally associated with "elder" people (I realize that it's by no means limited to) I originally imagined Shizue as an older woman. Than I found out she was Hotaru's sister and I got confused and came out without a clear mental image of her.

I did like it a lot, but that and a couple other unclear references to places did bother me, as a new fan.

I think really they just needed to change how they introduced her.  It's tough to introduce enough about a character at once to make sure the audience gets a proper mental image, but they could have put the "sister" and "cane-user" traits a bit closer together in the text.

Edited by JJ48

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25 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

How is that clever or unique?!  And how on Earth do good decisions make for poor storytelling?!?!  Characters having flaws doesn't mean they have to be complete imbeciles, incapable of rational thought!!

It's clever because the Crane are conditioned from birth to have an attention to and fondness for beauty. Beauty and culture are the focus of the clan as a whole. Good decisions make for poor storytelling because they keep characters out of trouble. Ned Stark revealed what he knew to Cersei out of a sense of honor, despite knowing full well she was a conniving and untrustworthy woman from a conniving and untrustworthy family. Meanwhile his wife Catelyn sticks to her guns in believing her sister's words against the Lannisters, after learning that her sister has gone completely batty. Back to L5R, Doji Hotaru has already shown herself to be capable of rational thought, by attempting to go incognito in order to acquire information she could not in her public persona. But logic and passion are ancient foes, and you'll see this in almost every story that puts romance at the forefront.

25 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

We're not talking about some random pretty lady here, who Hotaru just decides to pursue on a whim.  We're talking about a woman known to be a calculating seductress, whose clan is known for manipulation, and whose clan is also at odds -- politically -- with Hotaru's clan.  There needs to be more of a reason given than simply, "she's kind of cute," if we expect the story to work at all!

The writer doesn't seem to think we need that information yet. We know that Hotaru is in love or at least heavily infatuated with Kachiko, because that's all that is relevant to the story so far. In writing there's a thing called psychic voice, which represents the closeness of the narrative to the focal character's inner thoughts. We are very close to Doji Hotaru in this fiction, and while it gives us a great window into her personality at this early stage, it also restricts the narrative in that it can't just infodump everything about her relationship with Kachiko, because it's not what she's thinking about. She's not looking at Kachiko and thinking, "My Fortunes she is beautiful," and then go on to think about how they first met, what made her decide to pursue her, etc. If it comes up later, it will be in a story where the narrator is more distant and capable of revealing such things, or it will arise as a result of the context leading naturally to that information, in the same way that IRL thoughts lead to related thoughts, which lead to other related thoughts, and so on.

Edited by Builder2

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15 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

Well, why even bother having the ambush occur as portrayed in the first place, then?  Why not have an ambush take place when Hotaru's not trying to hide her identity?  Why even have her trying to hide her identity in the first place, when it doesn't even succeed?  If all we're trying to establish is that peasants are hungry, Hotaru can fight, and Kachiko's really well informed, then there are many other ways to accomplish these things much less awkwardly.  The whole thing doesn't really make much sense other than to scream, "HOTARU DOESN'T REALLY HAVE A CLUE WHAT SHE'S DOING!"

I mean, I'm pretty sure that's not all we're trying to establish. Part of it was definitely for the whole "mysterious ronin is actually the champion" reveal ftom Nerishma's POV. That said there are definitely other things being established, one of them being that yes, Hotaru is young and unexperienced.

Another major point that I've noticed pretty much everybody seems to have glossed over is her relationship with her father (the story's title is no accident..) and how it's affected her. She's hit by that ronin. She was only very good. And the reminder of the Crane clan's search for perfection comes very much in contrast with Hotaru's imperfections. And in a lot of ways that goes back to her father, who seen by the Empire as the embodyment of all she should be but isn't while simultaneously being (in her eyes) the monster who killed her mother and who's allways in her mind telling her she was not good enough. And so, Shizue says, she might be a bit rebellious, and trying to prove to her father that she CAN do it, and she can do it HER way.

I think it was Katrina said in the FbLive that these articles would be exploring "what makes the champions tick". And that, coupled whith the also stated desire to explore the struggle between desire and duty and the Clan's inner conflits makes me think we should expect these articles to explore the flaws and weakness of these characters more then their strenghs. Now, that might not be what people want, and I'm not saying it is the perfect piece of fiction to start us of with, but I do think people are underestimating how much it told us about the character.

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25 minutes ago, Isawa Syd said:

Fixed that for ya ;)

Dragon had it first, or at least, just as early as the Phoenix. Right from Imperial Edition Dragon had Shugenja that directly helped their samurai, and there was this spell:

oAcppG2.jpg

 

Phoenix ended up having that shtick more than Dragon in most arcs, true. They also borrowed being really into Enlightenment, and even "hey, we have actual Dragons hanging out with us!".

I get that Phoenix needs more than "that Clan ruled by their shuhenaja, and they keep getting corrupted" as their thing, but as someone who played since the beginning of the game, having so many of Dragon's themes was quite aggravating.

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Personally, I liked the story (small-scale, personal and sets up the new timeline)

 

- points to the Daidoji FRANTICALLY struggling againsts 3 peasants. If peasants are making a Daidoji sweat on defense, you know them peasants are fighting hard for something ( rices )

- Hotaru would not have revealed herself if she didn't want the ronin to have an honourable duel with her. Nerishima would have not heeded her if he only knew her as some hooded merc.

- although not with a Dragon, Kakita technique won against Niten ( on a Crane fiction, of course)

- Kudos, for picking up the ronin's daisho with intent to return it to his family.

- points for the cat

- Snobbing the Imperial Garden as imperfect compared to Kyuden Doji's ( smug, Cranes! )

- Shizue knows about the affair ( the flower in the room that Kachicko touched) and tolerates it. She also doesn't approve of Hotaru's championship ( she is a maho user and her being cripple is its manifestation and her cat is a binded oni lord )

- I wish Paneki stepped inside instead of Kachicko with the line " most beautiful samurai in Rokugan"

- **** it, people Hotaru was not being a giddy schoolgirl in front of Kachicko. She might be inside, but her "On" was near perfect considering Kachiko initiated physical contact and Hotaru dumped all his Void into his Willpower not to kiss her when she was so close. And why wouldn't Hotaru be enamored with Kachiko, aside from physical appearance, Kachiko seems supportive and interested of Hotaru's impulsiveness, symphatetic to Hotaru's emotions for both her relationship to her parents and their deaths, and Hotaru's hesitation and doubts to being a Clan Champion. If you guys are ophaned tragically and thrust into something that everyone keeps saying you're not capable and ready for your whole life and then there is someone who came and comforts you and tells you the opposite, wouldn't you also fell inlove with that someone.

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1 hour ago, JJ48 said:

And quite frankly, the fact that he was able to take three opponents at once (who had ambushed him, no less), peasants or no, speaks quite highly of Nerishma's skill.  I don't know whether he could have taken the ronin or not, but I see no reason to think he couldn't, and I can't imagine that two or more guards couldn't have handled the ronin if they worked together.

He didn't beat the three by himself, the first two were killed by Hotaru while he struggled to defend himself (go look at the weapon that killed them, it's a naginata, not Nerisma's spear). So, no, he is not that skilled. And several guards probably could have taken care of the ronin, but they would likely have suffered losses

 

Edited by KerenRhys

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1 minute ago, KerenRhys said:

He didn't beat the three by himself, the first two were killed by Hotaru while he struggled to defend himself (go look at the weapon that killed them, it's a naginara, not Nerisma's spear). So, no, he is not that skilled. And several guards probably could have taken care of the ronin, but they would likely have suffered losses

 

Ok, I missed the fact that he didn't kill all three.  Still, the fact that the three didn't kill him still speaks quite highly of his skill.  I don't care who's armed with what or how much training each has, three-on-one is a tough fight in any semi-realistic scenario!

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1 minute ago, JJ48 said:

Ok, I missed the fact that he didn't kill all three.  Still, the fact that the three didn't kill him still speaks quite highly of his skill.  I don't care who's armed with what or how much training each has, three-on-one is a tough fight in any semi-realistic scenario!

Oh he was about to be gutted if Hotaru didn't backstabbed two of the peasants. The fact that he initially surveyed two, but quickly corrected it to 3 implies to me that he is loosing attention and being slowly overwhelmed.

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3 minutes ago, WHW said:

Then consider the fact that Hotaru single handely murderkilled three or more in a time frame that took this skilled dude to kill one person.

Well, she killed two who were busy fighting Nerishma, and then killed a few who we are given no details about, but it certainly didn't sound like they were ganging up on her.  

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