Friday, October 22, 2010

Return of Kitsune

One of the things Stan is able to do with his characters that brings me back to the reading, is not only to have Usagi meet a wide cast, but also how those Usagi meets also, usually at least, get to meet that cast and how different their reactions are to those individuals.

For example, when Gen meets Kitsune, he is taken with her beauty. Of course latter on he discovers that she's a thief and pick pocket and has suffered her skills he's a little annoyed at fellow Ronin Usagi who uses Gen's own words about being a busy body as to why Usagi didn't warn Gen.

But more than that, Kitsune, as a thief, has a habbit of stealing the 'wrong' thing which leads to many individuals coming after her, requiring her to need her own protection. In this case, Gen and Usagi provide ample protection.

This is easy to do in a RPG as well. If the players know some street urchins or if there is a thief in the group, having them rob the wrong person at the right time can lead the party into all sorts of trouble.

In this case, Kitsune steals a letter that promises war and oil shortages. An oil merchant is trying to corner the market and has no problem killing a thief and a few grubby ronin to do it.

That in and of itself might be enough to satisfy the needs of a game, but Stan goes one further. Seems the initial note is a fraud set up by the oil merchant's rival in order to trick that rival merchant into purchase his own oil supplies at a premium price. These little touches showcase how a 'living' campaign isn't necessarily about all of the exact things going on around the players at that very moment, but branch off and touch different 'departments' of the setting.

Other little touches Stan does, like Usagi polishing his sword, are part of the repetition of the things Samurai do that aren't straight out combat, even if it involves combat. Little touches go a long way in making the atmosphere of the campaign something that the players can not only follow along, but participate in. They may do this in degrees, for example, one warrior may not bother to clean his weapon, hoping that it infects others with disease, even as his fellows long down on him for the poor care he keeps it in. Another may always be forgetting about it and be embarrassed when he does remember to do so. Little character traits don't necessarily have to overwhelm the game but can easily add depth.