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Children of the Empire Spoilers + Unicorns

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10 minutes ago, Schmoozies said:

Says the clan who won't go down in infamy as having one of their own Claim a $1,000 bounty to drag our own Champion out of the Heavens at the last AEG Gencon

To be fair, a Mantis mercenary selling his own kind for money is very thematic and goes on par with the lore.

Pirates gonna pirate. 

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11 minutes ago, AradonTemplar said:

So, I missed that whole section of lore. What does the Spider Clan bring the Empire? Apparently they received their status after saving the empire from something, but isn't part of their core to divide and destroy it, if not completely corrupt it with the shadowland taint?

It's a very complicated issue. What it boils down to is that Daigotsu basically made a Yoritomo deal at Iweko I, who accepted it and made his followers a Great Clan in exchange for Daigotsu making the Taint non-contagious.

Only Daigotsu never intended to make the Taint non-contagious, just asymptomatic. And Iweko I knew this, and accepted the deal anyways, because she could just use the power of Tengoku to make people immune to the Taint anyways. Which does basically mean that both Daigotsu and Iweko I lied, the whole deal was in bad faith, and her son and heir blew the whole situation up by public humiliating Daigotsu's son and attempting to usurp his control of the Spider Clan by replacing Daigotsu Kanpeki as the Spider Clan Champion with Iweko Shibatsu. So, in other words, everyone lied, everyone cheated, and it really really sucked to be a member of the Spider Clan if you attended Winter Court IV and proved how the Spider Clan COULD work in the Empire.

Not that we're still bitter.

At all.

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3 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

It's a very complicated issue. What it boils down to is that Daigotsu basically made a Yoritomo deal at Iweko I, who accepted it and made his followers a Great Clan in exchange for Daigotsu making the Taint non-contagious.

Only Daigotsu never intended to make the Taint non-contagious, just asymptomatic. And Iweko I knew this, and accepted the deal anyways, because she could just use the power of Tengoku to make people immune to the Taint anyways. Which does basically mean that both Daigotsu and Iweko I lied, the whole deal was in bad faith, and her son and heir blew the whole situation up by public humiliating Daigotsu's son and attempting to usurp his control of the Spider Clan by replacing Daigotsu Kanpeki as the Spider Clan Champion with Iweko Shibatsu. So, in other words, everyone lied, everyone cheated, and it really really sucked to be a member of the Spider Clan if you attended Winter Court IV and proved how the Spider Clan COULD work in the Empire.

Not that we're still bitter.

At all.

Thanks. I have lots of opinions about that story, but I'm sure you had to be there to get it, so I'll just pass.

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37 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

It's a very complicated issue. What it boils down to is that Daigotsu basically made a Yoritomo deal at Iweko I, who accepted it and made his followers a Great Clan in exchange for Daigotsu making the Taint non-contagious.

Only Daigotsu never intended to make the Taint non-contagious, just asymptomatic. And Iweko I knew this, and accepted the deal anyways, because she could just use the power of Tengoku to make people immune to the Taint anyways. Which does basically mean that both Daigotsu and Iweko I lied, the whole deal was in bad faith, and her son and heir blew the whole situation up by public humiliating Daigotsu's son and attempting to usurp his control of the Spider Clan by replacing Daigotsu Kanpeki as the Spider Clan Champion with Iweko Shibatsu. So, in other words, everyone lied, everyone cheated, and it really really sucked to be a member of the Spider Clan if you attended Winter Court IV and proved how the Spider Clan COULD work in the Empire.

Not that we're still bitter.

At all.

I remember reading about WCIV. Wasn't there a Spider assassin who straight up claimed that the Taint was acceptable in front of the entire court, something which went over like the Wu-Tang Clan at a Klan rally? I remember Toku Saiga's search for a place to belong, and finding it in death, being surprisingly tasteful as well.

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8 hours ago, sndwurks said:

it really really sucked to be a member of the Spider Clan if you attended Winter Court IV and proved how the Spider Clan COULD work in the Empire.

 

The Spider Clan could never properly exist within the empire because of the very nature of what the Spider Clan was.

Let's go over the history that caused it to even be a thing...

The taint of the Shadowlands was meant to be something horrific. People who were tainted would go to any length to either get themselves untainted or would try to die as heroes as quickly as possible. It was meant to be basically a magical disease that made people stop fundamentally being people. It would turn people into undead, rotting zombies in exchange for granting some immediate boon.

The existence of Shadowlands cards was originally meant to be "you can use this card to get an immediate power advantage, but you literally sell your soul to do it and if you get caught, you will be destroyed." And if your deck won a tournament while abusing Shadowlands cards, then whatever victory you walked away with would be, appropriately enough, tainted. Your faction could end up losing more than you were aiming to win in a way. Because people cared about the story and cared about their faction, that alone was generally enough to dissuade most players from using free gold holdings that caused honor loss.

But a problem was also created because there was a Shadowlands faction. Because that meant there had to be a deck that used Shadowlands cards, but didn't lose through dishonor like any other player that tried playing through filling up their deck with Shadowlands cards would. Since these cards were overpowered with the balancing factor being the honor loss, that meant the early Shadowlands decks were extraordinarily over-powered with the new balancing factor being that there were various cards that would blow up Shadowlands cards for almost no cost-- which meant any deck that would run in a tournament where one might encounter a Shadowlands deck would kind of have to run those meta cards. (In fact, there were so many overpowered mechanics that one had to run meta against, that about half of any fate deck were "must includes") And the other problem was that an entire win condition, dishonor the opponent, effectively became an auto-lose if you were matched up against a Shadowlands player.

As those "blow up all Shadowlands cards for free" cards left the meta, the Shadowlands cards themselves had to be brought down in power level. Free gold holdings went away as did the exponential power growth mechanics. In fact, Shadowlands cards became weak enough that there was no longer any particular reason any other clan would bother using them-- the cards still had large enough honor losses on them that it was no longer particularly tempting to use them if you weren't a Shadowlands player. This was especially so given that dishonor remained a non-viable win condition given that if one ran up against a Shadowlands player, it was an automatic loss-- there were in fact very few cards in the whole game printed that would even allow you to cause honor losses for an opponent. This meant that the honor win condition became considerably better, making for even more reason that other clans would never use Shadowlands cards that caused steep honor losses.

So AEG faced a problem-- if they wanted the dishonor win condition to be viable, but they also wanted Shadowlands cards and the Shadowlands faction to be a thing, they needed it possible to dishonor a Shadowlands player. So that's why they created the Spider Clan. And the mechanic was that they inexplicably not lose any honor from using Shadowlands cards (because apparently only this faction led by the Mary Sue pet character of the head writer was so sneaky that they could be all tainted without anyone noticing, but any other clan would instantly get caught), but they could be "outed" by causing honor loss to them.

Even before the Spider Clan was technically introduced (but when it was clear it was heading in that direction), the whole concept of taint was completely ruined-- instead of selling your soul to Jigoku for immediate power and, as a result, you would visibly become a monster or rotting undead... being tainted made you immortally and eternally young and sexy in addition to giving you eternal super human strength and speed. It was just out-and-out free super powers with no drawbacks or responsibilities. Instead of being an insidious disease that people would rather die than allow what was going to happen to them happen, it just became a quick and easy path to becoming super-human that it would just be silly that all of humanity wouldn't want. All horror element was completely removed and the Shadowlands became just another random country that happened to be opposed to Rokugan, but also had no trouble completely infiltrating it and doing whatever they wanted within its borders without any fear of being caught or repercussions because all other Clans were completely incompetent and inept whenever it came to dealing with them. It injected the mentality and maturity of Twilight into the samurai drama.

After that, each subsequent edition was just the writers making all the other clans incompetent, useless background characters in the story and made everything about the Spider Clan, giving them more and more political power and lessening and lessening any aspect of horror that Shadowlands taint could ever have. First they start off as some secret mercenary ronin organization that only called themselves a "clan" as a twisted mockery, then they were an officially recognized minor clan even though everyone else in the empire would have to be lobotomized in order not to realize that they were all a bunch of demon worshiping jackasses, then they were given full Great Clan recognition despite blatantly and obviously both being and doing things that any other clan would kill their own members, let alone members of any other clan, for being and doing-- but they just flashed their free hall pass card. And finally any honor loss was removed from most Shadowlands cards and they were just out-and-out given the throne. It has been indicated that the next set, they intended to erase all clans that were not Spider from the game.

You really look over the over-arching plot for everything mid-Gold Edition onward and other than a short storyline in Samurai edition about the Unicorn trying to take over that ended in a lame and anti-climatic manner, was entirely about Daigotsu and his Spider Clan. They were both the cause of and the solution to every single major event. The head writer fell so deeply in love with his own little Mary Sue character that the entire rest of the setting was utterly ignored and became background noise. It really is no surprise that the CCG died so hard.

 

There probably is room in the game for some abjectly evil faction that is always going to be on the bad guy's side that represents some affiliation of all the various shadowy enemies of the Empire. All those shadow ninja and bloodspeakers and undead and goblins and so on. And that faction will need to be subject to losing via dishonor. But whatever that is, whatever form that takes-- they certainly do not belong anywhere near a Winter Court. Nothing that could ever happen at a Winter Court could ever justify the existence of such a thing. But, at least if there is a clear "bad guy" faction, then the bad guys can win outside of writer's fiat-- and it functionally justifies there being a Scorpion Clan at all.

There have already been several stories in this setting that have nicely indicated that one is better off dead than tainted and even poking the powers of Jigoku with the best of intentions is certain to lead to a horrific end. Anything that requires that being entirely retconned to turn it into a free power boost that grants immortality and superhuman physique with absolutely no drawback would ruin the game-- it doesn't belong and just serves to make the entire setting worse.

And any thought of a "Shadowlands Faction" that isn't Shadowlands is just dumb. We already have a Crab Clan that sacrifices its own characters for temporary boost or extra life to its other characters, and keeps its characters going beyond their natural end.... As well as a Scorpion Clan that disables and drains life from characters and ends their stories prematurely. Furthermore, Crabs and Scorpions are both pretty spider-like creatures. There is nothing a non-tainted Spider Clan that doesn't include any of those evil enemies if the empire would remotely add to the game.

And finally, any new faction that requires that all other ones get turned into inept background characters and that the writers give them a Mary Sue leader that can never fail at anything or have any flaws and just gains more and more power and everyone suddenly becomes inept around him and the entire overarching plot needs to be hijacked and become entirely about him and this faction and justifying their existence despite violating everything previously established about the setting and just giving them fiat victory after fiat victory because they are the one element of the setting that is the head writer's personal creation and therefore can never be allowed to be anything but the best in every single circumstance... the setting is infinitely better off without that.

 

The way the Spider Clan was handled ruined the original setting. The very concept of a Spider Clan was almost certainly doomed to failure from the very beginning, but the way in which it was handled made it so much worse than it ever had to be. But nothing that ever happened, not at a Winter Court or anywhere else, has ever or could ever justify the existence of or show how a Spider Clan could remotely have worked.

If there is a coalition of Goju and Chuda and Dark Moto and , evil Monks, and this coalition is going to use a Spider as a symbol-- that sounds fine. I am not entirely sure how you get them to work in the LCG, but from a purely story perspective it sounds fine. If Daisetsu is going to get the throne and marry Shahai and then somehow lose the throne and they end up as the leader of this coalition? That sounds like it might make for an interesting story-- an emperor that was wronged now leading the enemies of the empire as a puppet of the god of Jigoku. Again, not sure how this works mechanically in the LCG, but it sounds like a good threat to present.

Having this coalition be recognized as a clan of any sort and everyone being cool with them abusing jigoku powers and forbidden from complaining about it or acting against it (or certain to fail via writer fiat if they do)... that's when it kills the setting.

Edited by TheHobgoblyn

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9 hours ago, Mangod said:

I remember reading about WCIV. Wasn't there a Spider assassin who straight up claimed that the Taint was acceptable in front of the entire court, something which went over like the Wu-Tang Clan at a Klan rally? 

!!!ROFLMAO!!!

I have nothing constructive to add other than this post made me spit my coffee as I read it. ?

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So, aside from the still rampant hatred at the Spider Clan for ruining the setting, the long and the short of being Spider Clan at Winter Court IV:

  1. We were the architects of the Progressive Alliance, and the only Clan which was as open in our support of Iweko Shibatsu as the Crab and Lion were in their support of Iweko Seiken. 
  2. "All the Clans fighting to take your head off" were the Crab and the Scorpion. The Lion basically ignored us, while the other Clans actually dealt with us fairly evenly. The Unicorn and Mantis Clans stood with us repeatedly, and the Crane Clan basically managed to get us to side with them against the Imperial Families because certain players REALLY poisoned that well, despite us supposed to have a good relationship with the Imperial Families.
  3. Twice in open court, we got public declarations of support from the Unicorn Clan, the Mantis Clan, and the Dragon Clan, as well as the open support of the Crane Clan for the Progressive Alliance. Considering part of our goals were to polarize the court into pro-Shibatsu and pro-Seiken factions? I would say we succeeded.
  4. The Spider Clan assassin who straight up claimed the Taint was acceptable in open court DID happen. It happened the court day that the two heads of the delegation were both out of town (the head of the delegation had a trial he had to attend as a lawyer, and I was on vacation with my fiance). And it basically exploded the court day when it happened. This Spider assassin also outed the existence of the Goju Ninja to the Scorpion Clan while handing them our trump card (we had a new method of combating the Taint that we could share with one Clan, a special resource). Without the permission of the leadership, I would like to add. Said player's actions lead to his character being exiled to the Scorpion Wall in public court because his player REFUSED to have his character commit seppukku over his actions in open court, and the Storytellers would not let us just have him be executed in our embassy and made to look like a seppukku.
  5. Every Faction at Court had a situation like the Spider Clan Assassin. The Dragon Clan got kicked out of court for an entire day. The Crane Clan had a brash poet who used rhyming haiku to annoy the chancellor. The Lion Clan used a nemuranai during the Bowman's Wager. We were far from the only faction with a problem player.
  6. We asked for stewardship of Otosan Uchi, under the auspices of trying to undo the damage that Daigotsu caused. We even approached it as a penance and a relic of a time before Daigotsu took a knee before the Divine Empress, and thus our duty to see it restored to the Empire. As could be expected... this did not go over well in court. But surprisingly did not explode in our faces. Despite Out of Game meddling.

And this is how the Spider Clan worked, when it did work. We were the iconoclasts and villains who challenged the idea of Jigoku as a monolithic corrupting evil, and by our existence, challenged Tengoku as a monolithic good. Our existence reminded the Empire of the limits of Heaven's power, and an explanation for when the system failed. We embraced war with the Crab Clan, because no matter who won it, both Clans would be stronger as a result, and this would leave a stronger Empire, and STRENGTH was what mattered. We rejected Bushido as a path of slavery, and embraced Shourido as a path of victory.

When the Spider Clan worked, it pushed the setting of Rokugan away from "Lord of the Rings with Katana" and towards "Journey Into The West", complete with demons trying to walk the path of enlightenment.

And L5R players hated us for it.

That's not to say that the whole melty-face ninja, insane undead and oni summoning blood sorcerers, half-inhuman monsters crawling out of **** had its place in the Spider Clan which worked. They didn't, and any Spider Clan player from that era will tell you that. Publicly, we knew that the Clan had some serious monsters in its ranks, and the public face had to basically find a way to deal with that. Our solution was to use them as basically weapons against the enemies of the Empire. We offered to hunt down the Dark Oracle of Fire. We offered to make war against the Gaijin. These were like the old Shadow-corrupted shinobi, the Damned, and the other historic forces of corrupted samurai. We just had more of them, because of where we had come from.

Ultimately, however, it was never meant to work. So now, you have players who still wring their hands and decry the Spider Clan as the worst thing to ever happen to the game under AEG, while you have others who, like me, found the Spider Clan players to be welcoming and kind and found the challenge of playing the Demon In Service To Heaven an engaging, mature challenge.

And this is why I have a gif from Pacific Rim, going "Reset the Clock!" for every time someone starts saying that the Spider Clan "ruined L5R".

So... reset the clock.

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21 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

Every Faction at Court had a situation like the Spider Clan Assassin. The Dragon Clan got kicked out of court for an entire day. The Crane Clan had a brash poet who used rhyming haiku to annoy the chancellor. The Lion Clan used a nemuranai during the Bowman's Wager. We were far from the only faction with a problem player.

Right, I remember the Dragon thing - wasn't that about how their delegation was squabling among themselves in front of the entire court over which of Iweko I's heirs to support?

I still think that the Spider could have worked, but it would have had to be as essentially a leper colony for Samurai who got Tainted, or otherwise just couldn't fit into Rokugani culture. Granted, the whole prophecy about Daigotsu's heir sitting on the Throne was a bit of an inescapable albatross around the setting's neck, but then what prophecy isn't?

Edited by Mangod

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The only issue I have with the Spider was the story direction that the team was going when they pulled the plug and the whole whelp Spider are in control of everything for reasons and nothing you can do about it.  It irked me personally because it was used as justification for deleting my faction from the setting AGAIN (man they sure loved dropping us at every opportunity, and what about the massive settlements that we were supposed to have in the colonies that should have been unaffected) and that it didn't really build out of any specific events and was just a here you are enjoy.  As a faction I appreciated them as another outsider looking in and struggling to change a stagnant tradition bound society.  Sadly there were segments of the player base who had a fixed image in their own mind of what was and wasn't acceptable for the setting and anything that violated that view was unworthy of inclusion and should be ignored.

AS for the Spider were a Mary Sue argument, hate to tell you but every clan had those moments and there wasn't much you could do about it.

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7 minutes ago, Mangod said:

Right, I remember the Dragon thing - wasn't that about how their delegation was squabling among themselves in front of the entire court over which of Iweko I's heirs to support?

I still think that the Spider could have worked, but it would have had to be as essentially a leper colony for Samurai who got Tainted, or otherwise just couldn't fit into Rokugani culture. Granted, the whole prophecy about Daigotsu's heir sitting on the Throne was a bit of an inescapable albatross around the setting's neck, but then what prophecy isn't?

Actually, the Dragon Clan getting kicked out of court was kind of our fault. We were setting up our new shugenja family (the Gyushi, who were non-Tainted shugenja) with some spouses from the Unicorn Clan (because the Phoenix Clan were pushing for anyone with Moto blood to not be able to marry, and the Spider Clan had serious Moto blood already in its ranks, so we had approached them to have a bunch marry into our family to bolster numbers). We had arranged for the Mantis Clan to "spontaneously" offer some marriages as well, so they did. Matching the Unicorn's marriages. Which was more than we could handle.

And then the Dragon Clan stepped in and offered the same AND to take several Gyushi to be trained in the Tamori shugenja school.

Only to have the only Tamori Shugenja in the court to object. And get told by the ranking Dragon diplomat to STFU.

And while we just stood there, blinking in vague confusion, the Chancellor threw all the Dragon out of the Court, ending our petition early.

And, to be fair, the "marrying the heir of Daigotsu into the house of the Iweko" was SUPPOSED to be by having Kanpeki's daughter get married to Shibatsu's son and heir after we put Shibatsu on the Throne. That's honestly no more sketchy than what the Crane Clan have done for generations.

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4 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

And, to be fair, the "marrying the heir of Daigotsu into the house of the Iweko" was SUPPOSED to be by having Kanpeki's daughter get married to Shibatsu's son and heir after we put Shibatsu on the Throne. That's honestly no more sketchy than what the Crane Clan have done for generations.

Until that plan got thrown out when Seiken was officially made heir, necessitating a hostile takeover instead, then the story went completely insane, before coming to an ignoble end.

I'm still, to this day, convinced that there were shenanigans going on with the whole Progressive/Traditionalist score keeping over which Iweko got the Throne. Just the fact that people weren't informed that the "which virtue of Bushido would I like my Clan to pursue more closely" vote had the "which Heir do I want my Clan to support" vote rolled into it made the whole thing come across as being rigged from the start.

Wow... I'm actually surprised how angry this still makes me. This was years ago!

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1 hour ago, sndwurks said:

When the Spider Clan worked, it pushed the setting of Rokugan away from "Lord of the Rings with Katana" and towards "Journey Into The West", complete with demons trying to walk the path of enlightenment.

Wait, what?! Where do I sign up?

Edited by Ascarel

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Wasn't the Mantis also ejected from the Great Clans because also the Naga were supposedly returning as a faction? It was a bad way of hand waving so that the Naga deck could fit in the box of 9?

With the number of Independence Day-style events at the end of L5R, it was surprising that there was an Empire, let alone enough of a population.

Edited by Hordeoverseer

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31 minutes ago, Mangod said:

Until that plan got thrown out when Seiken was officially made heir, necessitating a hostile takeover instead, then the story went completely insane, before coming to an ignoble end.

While I'm assuming they knew from the time of the sale that FFG was planning on resetting the timeline, it does always suck when a creator utterly destroys their setting as an end point. "Well, if I can't play with this anymore, you can't either."

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14 hours ago, Hordeoverseer said:

Wasn't the Mantis also ejected from the Great Clans because also the Naga were supposedly returning as a faction? It was a bad way of hand waving so that the Naga deck could fit in the box of 9?

With the number of Independence Day-style events at the end of L5R, it was surprising that there was an Empire, let alone enough of a population.

No kidding; from the Lion-Crane War in 1123 to the Spider Clan conquering the Empire in circa 1200 (a period of 77 years), we had:

The Clan War.
The Second Day of Thunder.
The War Against Shadow.
The War of Spirits.
The Dragon-Phoenix War.
The Second Yasuki War.
The War of the Rich Frog.
The War of Fire and Thunder.
The Winter of Red Snows.
The Third Yasuki War.
The War of Dark Fire.
The Destroyer War.
The War of the Twins.
The Mantis-Crane War.
The Heretic War.
The Serpent War.

And I'm still missing quite a few. That many armed conflicts, in such a short frame of time... and yet, the only time the casualties were acknowledged was post-Clan War, when the Phoenix had to replenish their ranks with Ronin. Honestly, I really hope we can at  least avoid having more than one apocalyptic supernatural conflict every 200 years. Give me a Yobanjin invasion/counter-invasion story any time of the day.

Edited by Mangod

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29 minutes ago, Hordeoverseer said:

Wasn't the Mantis also ejected from the Great Clans because also the Naga were supposedly returning as a faction? It was a bad way of hand waving so that the Naga deck could fit in the box of 9?

With the number of Independence Day-style events at the end of L5R, it was surprising that there was an Empire, let alone enough of a population.

Yes the official logistics reason was they were bringing back Naga as a faction and didn't feel they could support 10 clans at the same time.  Not saying I found that argument a little suspect but I don't see why they couldn't have gone to a 2x5 long packing instead of the 3x3 square one they were using.

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Bringing back the Naga was iffy to begin with but needing to eject a Clan to make room for it was perhaps an extremely bad move on AEG's part. Having the game move from inter-clan conflict to being able to play magical creatures made the game felt more like fantasy DnD and core L5R.

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9 minutes ago, BayushiFugu said:

Not sure how a place about spoilers became a history lesson on the spider clan but can we go back to talking about spoilers. Thanks. 

Once we have new ones to talk about sure.

 

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6 hours ago, sndwurks said:

"And this is how the Spider Clan worked, when it did work."

I liked what the RPG players were trying to do with the Spider Clan, but I think that saying it was "working" is a bit of a stretch. I look at it as how it could have worked if the Empire actually gave a ****.

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