Sunday, October 3, 2010

Usagi Yojimbo 2: Samurai

Usagi Yojimbo 2 has a massive section devoted to the backstory of our wandering ronin. The background though, starts with an encounter that is witnessed by Gen.

Seeing the fight, Gen inquires about the reason behind the duel which allows Usagi to launch into his background.

In doing so though, Usagi also fills out background for other characters in the series that have already been introduced, as well as introducing still new characters.

Some of these bits are closed back ground elements like his lord, who readers from the first graphic novel will realize is deceased, while others, like his mentor, appear to be open.

If players are joining the campaign and leaving the game, if the players between themselves can come up with reasons why their characters know each other that does not invalidate the previously established background, then the GM should be willing to work with them. It provides greater context to the characters relationship and allows the players to engage in some small elements of world building and ties their own investment into the campaign higher.

In other aspects of Stan's work, he does a fantastic job of illustrating the world as more than just the characters. There are bridges they walk across. There is a lush background they stand against. There are fruit trees that they eat from. The characters are not merely talking heads with no context behind them.

When running the game, try to remember the little elements around the characters. If playing in something like a default points of light setting, how are the roads? Has there been effort to fix them that has run out of funds and manpower? Are there abandoned keeps and towers? Are ruined wagons left on the side of the road? Are there famous spots in the byways that showcase the might of arcane users dueling that have never been repaired that require wheeled wagons to go far around them?

The background of the setting in little details can have an enormous impact on the game without being something that grants a bonus or hinders the characters with a penalty. It can add its own character to the setting and remind the players of where they are.