Monday, October 4, 2010

Blade of the Gods

Blade of the Gods introduces the 'boogey man' of the Usagi Yojimbo setting, Jei. It's a deliberate bit too because when people add the san address to his name, it then becomes Jei-San... like a certain Friday the 13th character who always comes back...

During the fight, Jei is apparently killed by a lightningbolt that also knocks Usagi out. So no body, no visible evidence of death. He'll be back.

In traditional Stan methodology though, everyone has a backstory. The latest graphic novel collection, Return of the Black Soul, even features the 'origin', if you will, of Jei. Think about that. From Book Three to Book Twenty Four, the author is able to add little bits and details to the character in order to continue to make him more than just another nameless monster that Usagi fights.

When people talk of reoccuring villains, they need methods on bringing those bad guys back. In this case, the unrecovered body of Jei is a good indication that the bad guy got away. Stan does this with a lot of characters and it happens in several instances ranging from falling into the water, off of a cliff, in a cave in or something similar where the body of the character cannot be found.

But here is where the medium is a huge asset to the author. There is a physical document that the author can always return to, not to mention any private notes and information that the casual reader may not have access to. If you want your own campaigns to have this same level of internal consistancy, then you have to keep your own notes and details about what happened in past sessons. You can ask players to write down things as they see them happening, but if you get three players doing so, don't be surprised to see three different things happening from three different perspectives.

Having some type of document that you can go back to after the game is over in order to use it as a reference work will save you the trouble of having to think, perhaps incorrectly, about what happened in the last few sessons. This is particularly true in long running campaigns where the individuals players meet at low levels might now in and of themselves be higher level.