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Shiba Gunichi

Interesting Times in Rokugan

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So, the Imperial Apocalypse Clock so far:

- Supplies of Jade are running out- known to Kachiko, and presumably others of high rank in the Imperial Court

-The elemental kami are now reacting unreliably to the prayers of shugenja. Known to the Phoenix leadership, probably suspected by others.

-The Dragon Clan are having a birthrate problem- and their Champion has a vision of a "wave" that must be opposed. The birthrate issue is sufficiently widely known that the Dragon have a deal for Unicorn widows and orphans. The vision is known only in select circles of the Dragon

-The Crab are feeling hung out to dry- especially since they just had on their family daimyo get told to get lost. Kisada is feeling the strain of his position, as per "Dark Hands of Heaven." Pretty much everybody seems to know the first part of this, but nobody seems to care.

-The Lion are looking at potential open war with the Crane and possibly the Unicorn. Public knowledge, but also basically business as usual. They also face internal dissension on a pretty impressive order of magnitude, with their Champion opposed by the Matsu daimyo and a decent chunk of the Ikoma.

-The Crane, normally a breadbasket, are tsunami-ravaged. The food shortages are bad enough that it's affecting the Empire as a whole. Public knowledge, but in the "Screw you Jack, I've got mine" world of Rokugani politics, considered irrelevant by anyone who ISN'T having shortages.

-The Phoenix are certain that meishodo is behind their worries, but haven't presented it that way because they're keeping a lid on the instability of the kami- but Isawa Kaede had a vision involving a meishodo talisman and a presence hungering for the palace. Not public knowledge at all. Culminates in Iuchi Shahai being sent to teach the Seppun Hidden Guard meishodo.

-We have a younger son of the Emperor, Daisetsu, who appears to be playing political games of his own, and has not yet come of age.

-Bayushi Kachiko is feeling dangerously ambitious in regards to the Throne, and appears to resent when the Emperor doesn't do as she says... er, respectfully suggests. Shoju has told her to cool her jets on that front, but Kachiko isn't exactly used to disappointment.

-The Unicorn, beyond all the other stuff they're mixed up in, appear hellbent on forcing the Empire to accept their customs (like fighting with scimitars and failing to do their marriage homework for a betrothal involving their own Champion), and we all know how accepting Rokugan is of the new.

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14 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

-The Dragon Clan are having a birthrate problem- and their Champion has a vision of a "wave" that must be opposed. The birthrate issue is sufficiently widely known that the Dragon have a deal for Unicorn widows and orphans.

I can't say for sure how FFG will choose to spin this going forward, but I didn't mean for those lines in "The Rising Wave" to indicate that the birthrate problem is open knowledge to the point where the Dragon have said "hey, Unicorn, can we trade for kids?" They just happen to be in the market for a lot of marriage alliances -- so long as those marriages are into the Dragon -- and happen to prefer spouses with some prior experience . . .

Me, I figure that the clans the Dragon talk to a lot (the Unicorn and the Phoenix) might know there's a mild problem, but not how bad it is. The rest of the Empire probably has no clue.

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Should we add the appearance of possible Naga or something from the To the South fictions to the list of potential threats? I mean, I wasn't around for Old5R, they could be nice friendly snake-monsters who only want some hugs for all I know. Those fictions sure made them seem threatening, though.

Also: That is so cool that one of the writers visits these forums! I had no idea. Marie Brennan: Thank you for writing those fictions for us, they were excellent! Also, as a wannabe writer, I really enjoyed those episodes of Writing Excuses you appeared on.

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2 hours ago, Mandalore525 said:

Also: That is so cool that one of the writers visits these forums! I had no idea.

We also have D.G. Laderoute here, and he usually discuss a lot of topics in this forums. Marie Brennan a.k.a. Kinzen, you can see her more in the L5R RPG Beta Forum. 

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2 hours ago, Mandalore525 said:

Also: That is so cool that one of the writers visits these forums! I had no idea. Marie Brennan: Thank you for writing those fictions for us, they were excellent! Also, as a wannabe writer, I really enjoyed those episodes of Writing Excuses you appeared on.

I'm glad you enjoyed them!

As for being on the forums: I was a player of the RPG before I ever started writing for L5R, so it would honestly be weirder for me to stop posting here just because my involvement is now professional as well as fannish. :-)

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3 hours ago, Zesu Shadaban said:

It's pretty awesome how connected to the community some of the authors are. I know Spooky (author of the Halloween fiction) is a frequent poster in the L5R Facebook group, too.

Although sometimes is a double-edged sword. Like when some people bash the fiction for being “poorly written”, just because it doesn’t fit their particular vision of a clan or a character. Like in the last Yasuki Taka fiction, one of the post said that the characters are flat, and it’s the writer’s fault. 

I guess if you’re one of the ones writing the fictions and frequenting this forums, reading things like that must be a bummer. 

Edit: BTW, in that same thread, you can see D.G. Laderoute (with some help from Marie Brennan) having a lengthy discussion with another member about the way Yoshi acted. I find it funny, cause I always have the sensation they have information we don’t have for the new setting, so their posts always come with a tone of “you’ll see” for me. 

Edited by Tabris2k

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While I can't claim to be nearly on the level of the L5R writers (read: never published, for starters) I think most if not all of them would agree that shrugging off rejections and criticism comes with the territory. Not to say it isn't a bummer that some folks are disappointed with it, but at the end of the day it's feedback to consider and take or leave.

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3 hours ago, Mandalore525 said:

Should we add the appearance of possible Naga or something from the To the South fictions to the list of potential threats? I mean, I wasn't around for Old5R, they could be nice friendly snake-monsters who only want some hugs for all I know. Those fictions sure made them seem threatening, though.

Also: That is so cool that one of the writers visits these forums! I had no idea. Marie Brennan: Thank you for writing those fictions for us, they were excellent! Also, as a wannabe writer, I really enjoyed those episodes of Writing Excuses you appeared on.

O5R spoiler; the Naga were friendly to the Rokugani, for the most part (there was even intermarriage between the two races), but there was also conflict; the most recent happened just before the timeline reset in the Serpent War, when a large army of Naga attacked the Second City in the Colonies.

So yeah, Naga could be a threat, or friendly.

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2 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

so they posts always come with a tone of “you’ll see” for me. 

"You'll see" is pretty much the Story Team catchphrase.
 

1 hour ago, Zesu Shadaban said:

While I can't claim to be nearly on the level of the L5R writers (read: never published, for starters) I think most if not all of them would agree that shrugging off rejections and criticism comes with the territory. Not to say it isn't a bummer that some folks are disappointed with it, but at the end of the day it's feedback to consider and take or leave.

I can tell you, based upon some personal interactions I've had with Shawn Carman (who was the story lead pretty much the entire time I was involved in the CCG), Robert Denton, Chris Hand, and and Maxime Lemaire that they generally put a brave face on it, but the carping from the fanbase, if persistent and grating enough, can get under their skin pretty badly. So, y'know, fellow commenters, let's all have a care...

 

(I have been quite, quite guilty of this in my time, so...)

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1 hour ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

I can tell you, based upon some personal interactions I've had with Shawn Carman (who was the story lead pretty much the entire time I was involved in the CCG), Robert Denton, Chris Hand, and and Maxime Lemaire that they generally put a brave face on it, but the carping from the fanbase, if persistent and grating enough, can get under their skin pretty badly. So, y'know, fellow commenters, let's all have a care...

The “fanbase” part is what I think is the worst. You see, constructive criticism is always welcome, or even critics from people that care enough to write you or address you directly regarding some fiction. 

But the forums are a pretty big and open place, and a lot of times you see people just disregarding your work without giving it a second thought. We all have seen those “My clan is portrayed under a bad light and/or my favorite character is not an uber bad@ss in total control of the situation in this piece of fiction, so this is s@#t” people. 

Just saying that being willing to navigate the forums knowing that you can face those people talking bad about your job takes some courage :D

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After 31 years in the army, it's pretty difficult for anyone to say anything to or about me that would bother me. Believe me, no matter how much someone might say they don't like a fiction I wrote, it pales in comparison to things I've been called while in uniform...sometimes by people pointing loaded weapons at me. 

That said, constructive criticism is always welcome; personally, I enjoy receiving it and considering it in the light of future writing. I've written a lot, have a couple of published novels (not at all L5R related), but I still learn new things about writing every time I write something and get feedback from people who read it. And THAT said, if the feedback is, that story sucks, and that's it, just an opinion, I can't really do much with that other than go, okay, and move on.

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7 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

"You'll see" is pretty much the Story Team catchphrase.
 

Though sometimes we have no more idea than you do where the story is going in the long term. :-D

 

7 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

I can tell you, based upon some personal interactions I've had with Shawn Carman (who was the story lead pretty much the entire time I was involved in the CCG), Robert Denton, Chris Hand, and and Maxime Lemaire that they generally put a brave face on it, but the carping from the fanbase, if persistent and grating enough, can get under their skin pretty badly. So, y'know, fellow commenters, let's all have a care...

My thoughts on that are two-fold:

1) "Let's all have a care" is a good rule of thumb for online interactions overall: it's easy to forget, when you're just sitting at your keyboard, that there are people behind any story or product, and that those people generally did not set out with the intent of producing something bad. So slagging on it without empathy (whether "it" is an L5R fic or a card or a meal you ate at a restaurant or whatever) can indeed be hurtful.

2) Having said that . . . if the conversations here ever get under my skin, then there's an easy solution, which is for me to simply not read those threads. Readers shouldn't have to stifle their own discussions for fear the author might see them -- point 1 is about expressing one's feelings with courtesy, not papering over them entirely. I know a great many authors who never read reviews of their work because they know it'll only mess with their heads; I read mine, because I do glean useful things about what is and is not working in my writing, but I also have and use the option of just closing the tab if the review turns out to be nothing but unhelpful negativity.

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As someone who took a critical eye toward the end of the prior storyline, I've a slightly different perspective. Part of the problem was that the final iteration of the story team inherited a massive problem of unfulfilled story team promises and storyline wins, in some cases a decade long. This got mishandled in a variety of ways, from ill-considered posts from team members to players to "be patient" for these long-delayed outcomes, to repeated signs of business-as-usual behaviors despite promises to the contrary (clans -- looking at Mantis, Phoenix, and Unicorn especially -- getting ridiculously bad story support in the lead up to Onyx). From what I can tell, a lot of it was how AEG's dev team straightjacketed them  (an absolutely awful 20th anniversary "celebration" of unceremoniously putting players' favorite clan themes up for grabs in minor tournaments, Spider being given a favored place in Onyx story after assurances to the contrary). 

We're not seeing anywhere near as much negativity right now due in no small part to there not being anywhere near as much reason for it. If it takes ten years for Crane's Emerald Champion to pop up, though, and he spends most of his time killing other Crane, yeah, people are going to get upset. 

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To the bigger picture - "interesting times" is meant ironically in-setting but ... yeah, of course these are interesting times in Rokugan. Who wants to play a game about uninteresting times?

The theme seems to be, the Clans are all imbalanced. The Lion are too aggressive, the Scorpion too ambitious, the Dragon too introspective, etc. etc. etc.

But in opposition to this tendency toward extremism are certain characters that prefer restraint: Toturi and Hotaru seem to be the clearest examples. Meanwhile, Kachiko leans in opposite direction - IMO indicating that she is more of a villain at this point.

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6 minutes ago, Manchu said:

The theme seems to be, the Clans are all imbalanced. The Lion are too aggressive, the Scorpion too ambitious, the Dragon too introspective, etc. etc. etc.

So far as we've seen them- the Crane, Scorpion, and Lion have the most page count thus far (Typical :P)- I'd say it's more that almost everybody is wrapped up in their own problems. The Crab are feeling the pinch down at the wall, the Crane have this whole tsunami/champion death mess to sort out, the Dragon are following their leader's cryptic dictates and trying to keep their numbers up, the Lion are wrapped up in the Toturi schism, the Phoenix (so far as we can tell) are concerned about an imbalance in the kami and are bending over backwards to not tell everyone exactly what's wrong, the Scorpion are apparently concerned with keeping their stranglehold on the Imperial Court, the Unicorn are worried about keeping their sense of identity- if samurai were reasonable people, a LOT of this could be settled by a frank an open exchange of information- which is definitely not going to happen before things boil over.

6 minutes ago, Manchu said:

But in opposition to this tendency toward extremism are certain characters that prefer restraint: Toturi and Hotaru seem to be the clearest examples. Meanwhile, Kachiko leans in opposite direction - IMO indicating that she is more of a villain at this point.

Tsukune seems likely to "do her best," which means she's probably going to think about matters- but then, she doesn't really call the shots.

Kisada is absolutely fixated upon his single duty.

Yokuni... well, he's definitely Yokuni. Cryptic to the point of insanity.

Shoju appears to favor more caution than Kachiko.

Hotaru and Toturi you've noted.

Altansarnai was looking for an excuse out of her Ikoma wedding and found one, and doesn't seem too fussed about it, despite what it probably means.

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