Wednesday, October 20, 2010


One of the things that I enjoy about Usagi's travels over his imaginary Japan, is the wide variety of characters that he meets. One of those, Kitsune, is a street entertainer who uses tops, knives, fans, and other objects to provide street shows and accept tips. Of course, sometimes these tips are not enough to even eat off of and then her other skill, that of being a thief, comes into play and is the source of her catchphrase, "A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do."

When players are on the road a lot, it falls to the GM to fill the rest of the world. Often those that the players meet may be enemies. Usagi has left a crimson tide behind him of dead bandits, rogue ronnin and those who thought they were above it all. However, when he meets someone like Kitsune, even though she robs him, he's not a cold hearted killer and when she helps him in a fight, he doesn't even bring it up. It's a strange relationship they have and one that might be difficult to do in a role playing game where money is a constrant source of contention between the players and the Game Master in the first place.

For example, if the players need X amount of funds in order to purchase Y items, as is often the standard in 3.5 and 4e, then having one of the party memebers be a rogue who steals from them, unless they are providing some service equal and above that in terms of value, simply isn't going to work no in game terms, much less the players putting up with it.

The nice thing about bringing Kitsune in for Stan however, is he gets to talk about tops, battle tops, name some entertaining moves that the Fox does, as well as what the tops are made of and how they are quality, made by a reknown crafter. by adding those touches, it adds depth to the setting.

Lastly, the art. While the whole rabbit samurai thing may not be for everyone, Stan isn't one to shy away from work. When looking at the double page spread of Kitsune doing her show, you have children pearched atop a wall watching, you have someone walking in the background on stilts, you have the woodcutters, peasants who are often seen on the move and have run into Usagi on several occassions. There are tokai moving about as well as bugs on the floor. The depth of detail can capture your attention for a few moments and remind you as the game master that you are responsible for making the world come to life for the players.

Unless you and the players are using a lot of shared experiences and commonalities that you know each player and you share, the players are blind when you say, "It's like the anime Berserk." or "You know, like that movie." Those can be useful shortcuts in description and in setting the tone but if you're the only one whose read the Black Company, describing your campaign as the Black Company meets Berserk isn't going to do anyone any good. Be ready for the little details that life is full of and it will expand the depth of the setting.