Thursday, February 24, 2011

Usagi Yojimbo: Grey Shadows- The Courtesan


One of the things I didn't get around to, is the later part of the book where Usagi becomes involved with a courtesan. Now low wage bar wench, this is a high class professional who even lords see. There are some similarities in western European, but I cannot think of the name of the infamous madame now. Nontheless, it's still a profession today that can have its own 'clout' if you will, but only for the very best who service the highest paid as United States senators and other politicians can attest to.

1. Foreshadowing: Lady Maple, the courtesan in question, is mentioned prior to this in terms of her beauty. This is a good way to showcase an aspect of an upcoming event or character. If speaking of some monsters, have the character meet survivors of the last raid of those attacks. Let them learn second hand what they will be prepared to deal with.

2. Self-Character Involvement: Usagi, as always, is sticking his nose into other people's troubles. Because of his good nature, Usagi doesn't immediately go for the financial or the other rewards that might come from defending a high end courtesan. Know your players. If that angle won't work for them, perhaps those in the higher ends will still have use for such a character and can be paid out in the standard methods of adventurerers or as Skull from PvP would say, "Ales and Whores."

3. Character Motivations and Secrets: I was reading an old issue of Dragon during the 3.5 reign that featured Vecna in his new status of godhood. One of the things it mentions is his desire for secrets. The courtesan here has a hell of a secret. The players could be working for such a lady as body guards but not know her secret. Her motivation, keep the secret and keep what that secret is, proteced. Due to her kind nature and apperance, those around her have motivation to serve and protect her. Give a moment to thinking about the character's around the player's and what their motivations are.

This motivation goes in the opposite direction as well. Those seeking to end the life of Maple's son, aren't doing it because they are random baby killers. They are doing it for political motivation, for the right to be free from what they fear will happen should the child grow into his own ends and power. These motivations are at ends. Usagi in and of himself is just someone in the way, despite the fact they want him dead for interferring.

4. No World Wide Web Yet: Depending on the setting and access to magic use and the size of the location the players are at, they may become involved in huge events that have massive ramifications, such as the murder of a noble or a lord. Yet not everyone has a camera on their phone in these RPGs we favor. There are no eye in the sky close up shots. There may not even be a pony express! This can be vital for keeping the characters viable for player in a setting if things go wrong in one corner of the setting. Mind you Usagi has some help of his own through the inspector, but the point of non-instant identification should resonnate with those playing in lower magic, lower end sword and sorcery style settings.

Remember the limitations of the setting and run with them. The players will get theirs one way or another sooner or latter if that's the end goal.