I finally picked up the 4th edition book for Legend of the Five Rings last week, and have been reading through it. First thing that needs to be said about this book is that it is freakin’ beautiful! The layout and artwork and the whole design is top-notch. Typos are also significantly down from previous AEG books, and the thing seems internally consistent, which has sometimes been a problem. So hats off to the editing team as well.
Previously stated ideas for the campaign are under review. This is the concept of the players having multiple characters, one for each clan, and running a Crab adventure, followed by a Phoenix adventure, then a Scorpion one, etc. This would allow the players to get a real feel for each clan’s character.
I still like that idea, but I’m also inclined to do the more traditional party and story structure. I toyed with the idea for a bit of choosing certain events from Rokugan’s history and letting the players experience them firsthand, but that means either pre-generated characters, or endless char gen.
In my last campaign (which sadly died out before we got to do this), I was planning to let players influence the official storyline by occasionally flashing to a major event, handing out character sheets for the appropriate characters (generally without letting the players know who they were playing or what the situation is), and running the possibly Empire-changing event. For example, the duel between Bayushi Shoju and Doji Satsume during the Scorpion Clan Coup: Pick two players, hand them unnamed character sheets, and say “you’re both facing each other, standing in your dueling stance,” and letting things go, altering the storyline based on the outcome.
I had an idea earlier today to mix some of these ideas. Start off with pre-gens with some short adventure. This not only will start to establish whatever clan(s) is involved with this adventure, but will give the players a chance to learn the system. Since the actual mechanics at the base of 4th edition didn’t change much, this is mostly important for any new players I’ve got, as well as reintroducing older players. After this adventure, the players will get to make their own characters, and we’ll start a standard campaign structure. I’ll mix it up, however, by occasionally running “cut-scenes” involving pre-gens (including major story characters) that will reveal other things going on in the Empire that may affect the PCs, maybe some events from the past as well (both personal for the PCs and more historical vignettes). Some of this will be exactly the kind of thing I was planning for the last campaign (quick side-steps for a duel or single scene). Some of it will be the more in-depth looks into the clans (short adventures that directly or indirectly tie in with the main story). But through all this, we’ll still have the driving force of the lead story of the PCs.
Some ideas are forming already as I read through the book, some are ideas I’ve had for a while. The campaign structure I outlined above may change further, but I think that’s the way I’ll end up going. Hopefully, I’ll start the serious planning and seeing what players will be interested in the next couple of weeks. I’ve got a big move coming up in September, so I don’t expect any play until after that.
Watch this space for further updates!