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Dalek5

Mixed Loyalties With Players

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My biggest fear with this game is that I have 4 players from 4 different clans with 4 different loyalties.

I always RPG with a group sharing the same general loyalty.

Is lorewise it common for charecters from different clans to serve the same lord?

Or alternately is there enough options for me to force all 4 players into the same clan?

 

Thanks

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4 minutes ago, Dalek5 said:

My biggest fear with this game is that I have 4 players from 4 different clans with 4 different loyalties.

I always RPG with a group sharing the same general loyalty.

Is lorewise it common for charecters from different clans to serve the same lord?

L5R has always had a bunch of built in fixes to this problem. There's a lot of imperial organizations to bring the characters together under, like the Emerald Magistrates, Emerald Legions, Jade Magistrates (currently disbanded), Imperial Cartographers, etc. It's always prestigious to be appointed to these positions and while they mostly override clan loyalties in how they operate the clans don't mind giving up samurai to these prestigious positions since it also makes them look good. And even then happenstance can have samurai from different clans all working toward the same goal, like a Kuni Witch Hunter and his attendants/guards from the Crab working together with the Scorpion Kuroiban and Phoenix Inquisitors to deal with a growing mahotsukai cult.

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Or alternately is there enough options for me to force all 4 players into the same clan?

Absolutely, while every clan's schools carry a family name there's no actual rule that you MUST be, for example, part of the Hiruma school if you're from the Hiruma family, so you can mix and match family/school within the single clan, and the other books beyond the core add plenty of new options for most of the clans.

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2 hours ago, narukagami said:

so you can mix and match family/school within the single clan

You can even be from a 'foreign' clan with a good enough narrative reason; a long-term hostage that grows up in a foreign court might well end up joining their classmates on a mission provided it's not hostile to the interests of their own clan.

A given city/palace/whatever often has foreign 'guests' living there but whilst that may create tension that doesn't have to make them enemies - imagine a long-term Scorpion 'guest' being something not a million miles from Garek in Deep Space 9; actually a valuable member of the cast but they'd never say so and he'd be mortified if they ever suggested it.

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4 players all with different loyalties can be difficult.

At 3 players, we found that different loyalties are workable if the players are ok with a few things;

-Light "pvp". Meaning that sometimes a player's choice will win over another player's.

-The players can accept that their character can be affected by other players social and/or other rolls.

Put together, it means that players can be skilled enough to alter their character's roleplay and decision making based on the influence of other players; mechanically forced or not.

You do not go into full on combat between PCs, and your story should not always force such situations. But, you should be able to design "choices" that are sometimes not the best for every players. And that the repercussions of making the "bad" choice for some players can also be interesting for the story.

It might not be that clear without examples, but yeah, some amount of mixed loyalty can be made to work and even be interesting. Especially when tied to the concept of ninjo vs giri, in which both of the character goals can advance a character's story in meaningful, albeit very different, ways. At the extreme, this can require you to fiddle with the system (a player who become ronin, or change allegiance are such an example), where you will have to discuss with the player how that will mechanically affect their progression... But it can be done.

Go wide. It is doable if you do not have many players (3 or less is manageable, but maybe you are a super GM and can do with more).

Take the latest Shahai story twist, and see how you could make that work "mechanically" in your game if one of the player was Shahai for example (not easy without multiclassing..). What would happen to this character now that she is "outcast"? Would you try to find a way to keep her story going? And how?

Same can be said for Kaede, who had to change clan. How would that work at your table?

The game's system doesn't make such things easy, but the system is also so.. morphable? That it can be done with a bit of efforts.

Edited by Avatar111

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Unless the clans are in open warfare or close to it, I have rarely had problems with mixed clan groups. The clans often have alliances, marriages, students in each other's dojos, hostages and other such connections between them.

Unless your group only does what some superior NPC tells them to, interwoven Giri and Ninjo will make them work together regardless of clan allegiances.

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My recommendation would be to figure out what kind of game you want to run, and allow whichever options make sense for it.

Most games I've run have limited clan choice, usually based around an in-game alliance. In my current game, players had to choose between Dragon, Phoenix, Dragonfly (homebrewed clan/family rules, out-of-clan school), or Ronin. If a player wants to pitch me something else, I'll hear them out, but if I accept it, the onus is on them to keep making sure the concept works for the game. If everyone is pitching me something else, I reconsider what game to run.

I did recently play in a murder mystery one-shot. It was sort of like Clue, where even the murderer didn't know they were guilty. We were all from different clans. Unlike a lot of Emerald Magistrate games, we didn't have much bringing us together, other than an interest in solving the mystery. It totally worked and was a really fun game, but I expect it might be challenging for a new GM (even just new to L5R).

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6 hours ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

I did recently play in a murder mystery one-shot. It was sort of like Clue, where even the murderer didn't know they were guilty. We were all from different clans. Unlike a lot of Emerald Magistrate games, we didn't have much bringing us together, other than an interest in solving the mystery. It totally worked and was a really fun game, but I expect it might be challenging for a new GM (even just new to L5R).

That is a great idea for a first adventure to bring a group of rival clan characters together without resorting to Emerald Magistrates.  I will have to use that in the future.  Thanks!

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   If you have a story in mind (or at least key characters and situations), just give them a setup to start off.  "This game will be taking place in the household of Yusaki Jupeshi, a minor Crab lord of questionable honor.  Consider why your character is a long-term resident of this castle.  Simple enough to be a Crab warrior, or perhaps you're betrothed to his son or daughter.  Maybe you're an out-of-clan courtier, posted in his court to keep certain trade agreements working smoothly, or a yojimbo there to protect said courtier."

   If your characters would prefer, allow them to all collaborate.  They can make up a minor daimyo, decide on his clan, family, and a few things about his holdings.  Then they all create their place in that household.  If you wanna get real nitty gritty with it, find a copy of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, by Green Ronin.  The game itself is okay, but they have a chapter on House Creation that is just fantastic.  With a few die rolls, you determine where your noble house is located, how large your lands are, relative military strength, peasant population, and so forth.  It gives the PCs a place in the world and challenges for them to face.

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36 minutes ago, Hida Jitenno said:

I have two players that are good with PvP action and one that isn't. They're all three from different Clans. So my plan is to give potentially-conflicting goals for the first two, and a non-player-conflicting goal for the third.

I like that.. So instead of making PvP a group option, you basically make PvP "a thing" by default, but grant the option to the players to click their own "I am immune to PvP" option.

smart.

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4 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

I have two players that are good with PvP action and one that isn't. They're all three from different Clans. So my plan is to give potentially-conflicting goals for the first two, and a non-player-conflicting goal for the third.

 

4 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

I like that.. So instead of making PvP a group option, you basically make PvP "a thing" by default, but grant the option to the players to click their own "I am immune to PvP" option.

smart.

I agree.  Allow the players who want to engage in intra-party strife to have their little rows WITHOUT entangling the ones who don't.  I wish that the GenCon scenarios had given the DMs the option you have suggested.

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Mostly I am just backing up what others have said. I have done Emerald Magistrates multiple times, usually starting with the Topaz Championship, and that is the simplest method since not only can the group be cosmopolitan but it sets up an easy basis of travel, relatively independent authority, and a wide view many adventuring players may be used to.

A variant with Imperial Cartographers was fun in an alternate post 2nd day of Thunder with a teenage Empress Kachiko the II and an Imperial Regent. The idea was the Imperial Cartographers were looking for trouble spots for the Heralds to follow up with, since post Clan War there was a lot of devastation and change. This usually meant investigating then dealing directly with rebellion, blasphemy, and Shadowlands threats. Once the immediate threat was handled, assessing what was needed to get the area back to proper rokugani standards and sending a report back to the Heralds to do a more long term rebuilding.

Creating a common enemy also works. I have used a foreign "khan" that wanted to conquer Rokugan. Shadowlands is an obvious staple that was my original standard in first edition. The enemy doesn't necessarily have to be a war time threat. Investigating naga activity, dealing with gaijin, criminals, etc can be a strong basis.

Cities tend to make good base for a cosmopolitan campaign. A PC may even be the sole representative of their clan and deal with their lord by letters and couriers. This definitely works as a palace/court/fort setting as well with representatives and guests, though I've never done that as the basis of a campaign with a very mixed group. When I've done this in previous editions these games ended up similar in structure to some of my Vampire the Masquerade games. The conflicting loyalties issue is even similar.

A musha shugyo/warrior's pilgrimage is a good basis. Basically going ronin for a year or two to hone your skills. Though it tends to push towards bushi in my experience. Other school types need to be able to hold their own in combat for this type of game. Thankfully that isn't too hard in 5th. 

Doing single clan or from a small group of choices can be best with a specific story in mind. This should be done with some input with your players of course, as some people have strong likes and/or dislikes of clans.  I've done a few short all Scorpion games. Those were enjoyable. With a big size group (4-6 players) I will do something like a clan or two, then say one person can be something unusual like a monk, ronin, kitsune, ect depending on what would fit. I try to be careful and only do this when I think a person isn't interested in the standard choice but everyone else is. So far it hasn't been an issue but it requires diplomacy on the GMs part.

With the current clan book structures I've been considering doing a choice of great clan and minor clan. Another thought I have had was recently retired samurai, called back into service for some big event. They are technically monks but are mechanically their pre retirement schools. That creates interesting conflicts like, being good with a sword but not carrying a daisho.

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I have had my players under a Seppun before, as part of his "Advance Team" for preparing a Winter Court for the arrival of the Empress. This Seppun picked non-Seppun because he felt that his own family had a tendency to fixate on threats they knew to look for, and had a tendency towards short-sightedness, and lack of creativity. Of course, once the court starts, they keep acting in the service of this Seppun, but ALSO get to work towards their own agendas. (Basicly, the Seppun uses his position to give them invitations to the Winter Court.) But, they do have tasks they are expected to do for their Clans. These may or may not be at odds. My first Winter Court, I actually gave each of the PC's their objectives from their Daimyo each week in sealed envelopes. (The Scorpion one, BTW, was always encoded in a different way. )

Magistrate Games are also common, where the PCs are working under one of the different global magistrates. Normally, rather than making starting PCs start off as Magistrates themselves, they are yoriki and aides of an Emerald Magistrate, and, eventually, they grow into being full fledged magistrates on their own. But, they always get options to push an agenda for their Clan or family. 

Then, if it is wartime, there is always the Imperial Legions. Though that tends to be a very Bushi focused game, it can be interesting.

But, the big things are: you want to give them a common goal, and give them opportunities to do things for their Clan. Because, even an Emerald Magistrate is looking out for his or her Clan. (Usually, they d not send a Crane Magistrate into Crane or Lion lands, for example, due to a potential for bias...but, totally send the Crane Emerald Magistrate into Unicorn or Dragon Lands!)

And, of course, if you REALLY want to have fun, there is always the City of Tales, the City of Green Walls, the City of Lies, Ryoko Owari Toshi.

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1 hour ago, sakieh said:

I have had my players under a Seppun before, as part of his "Advance Team" for preparing a Winter Court for the arrival of the Empress. This Seppun picked non-Seppun because he felt that his own family had a tendency to fixate on threats they knew to look for, and had a tendency towards short-sightedness, and lack of creativity. Of course, once the court starts, they keep acting in the service of this Seppun, but ALSO get to work towards their own agendas. (Basicly, the Seppun uses his position to give them invitations to the Winter Court.) But, they do have tasks they are expected to do for their Clans. These may or may not be at odds. My first Winter Court, I actually gave each of the PC's their objectives from their Daimyo each week in sealed envelopes. (The Scorpion one, BTW, was always encoded in a different way. )

That's a very nice lead-in. And yes, it makes a lot of sense; if you want to ensure a place is secure, you ask a Phoenix to look after its spiritual defences, a Crab to look after its physical defences, a Scorpion to figure out how to nefariously bypass the defences altogether, and so on.

Then you murder the lot of them before they can tell anyone the weaknesses they found that they didn't inform you about.

(Or is that just the characters in games I've played in?)

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On 9/16/2019 at 6:45 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

That's a very nice lead-in. And yes, it makes a lot of sense; if you want to ensure a place is secure, you ask a Phoenix to look after its spiritual defences, a Crab to look after its physical defences, a Scorpion to figure out how to nefariously bypass the defences altogether, and so on.

Then you murder the lot of them before they can tell anyone the weaknesses they found that they didn't inform you about.

(Or is that just the characters in games I've played in?)

See, the funny thing is: the first part, until this year, was in October, and was generally horror themed. One year, there was a Water Kansen, damage done by it could not be healed by Water Kami(It perverted the Water Humour until that damage was healed naturally, so Water Kami trying to heal actually inflicted more damage). Then there was the rip between Gaki-do and Ningen-Do that they had to find and seal. Of course, both of these instances, they had to do that...and still keep it quiet, so the host would not lose face, and had to have everything solved before the Empress' delegation arrived. Of course, there remained inering effects of both being dealt with (like in the first, it took most of the winter court to finally track down the maho-tsukai, and the last one..they never found the hidden place where someone was stockpiling Bloodspeaker style zombies and they attacked during the Demon Chase...they also never actually caught the person who set up that attack....)

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