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Drowned Merchant's Crossing, Play by Post L5R campaign discussion (players desired)

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Number 12

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Welcome to our discussion about playing l5r in this forum. Currently we are in the midst of gathering players and creating the environment that we're going to play in. So if you want to play, or just participate in the creation of the world to see if playing is something you want to do later don't hesitate to jump in and make a suggestion (it'll feel lame if me and Cos just do it all).

We're taking ques from the Fate Core RPG to help us create our world and populate it with interesting people. This involves the use of something called Traits to help define people and places and give us plot hooks to use during scenes and adventures. Anyone can add a Trait to something! It's encouraged that traits for the same place come from different sources so that we can have variety and all get something out of playing this game. Most things should have two or three traits, so if you see an empty slot on the master list, feel free to fill it. Each player is also allowed to add a location to our map, give it a name and some definition, but other players have to give it Traits.

All the Traits, Locations, and Characters we have listed so far are in this document: Dead Merchant's Crossing, Campaign Traits

If you need some help with Traits, I've written a short guide below.

Creating Traits:
A Trait is a short phrase that chisels some definition into the mosaic that we're all creating together. By creating the world as a group and loosely defining it using Traits, the mental image for the game should be more solid for everyone. The best way to explain a Triat is just by example, so let me give a few to use as a jump off.

Traits for people could demonstrate how they act or what they want. "Kind but Desperate" is a good Trait for a farmer turned into an assassin for instance. "Easily Confused" is a good Trait for the village idiot. "Now that guy can get mean..." is a good Trait for a man who has an openly bad temper. Traits can range from pretty blunt, to more abstract; a good Trait leaves the thing in question kind of ambiguous, so that the Trait can apply to many different situations. "See a penny, pick it up" for instance could represent a character who is both superstitious, lucky, AND easily distracted by a wayward koku rolling across the floor...

Traits for locations can be the same but usually they represent potential for certain encounters when traveling to an area, or objects of importance in that place. "Yakuza Infestation" "Sharp Dropoffs" "Flash Floods" "Don't go up there at night!" and "Well Guarded" are all pretty simple Traits that you can add to locations.

When you add a Trait to something it should be because you think that dealing with that particular idea will make the game more exciting. If you come up with something cool, but don't think it could ever interact with the game it might be better to keep it in your pocket for later. Or you could just suggest it anyway, and force people to find a way to make it relevant! [:

Here's the map of our play-area. And current key. New locations can be added anywhere you like! Even in the same square that someone else has selected for their own location.

River - Drowned Merchant
Road (E1-I5) - Umanohaka Path (Horse Grave Path)
I6 - Burijji Mura (Bridge Town)
I2 - Kikori to Ono Pass (Woodcutter and Axe Pass)
E5 - Shiro Sentaro (Thousand Lantern Castle)
C9 - Okami Yama (Wolf Mountain)


Map FAQ:
Our little slice of Rokugan can be located on this map halfway between P12 and P8, where the river meets the mountains. As you can see it is a main thoroughfare for the Unicorn, but Lion, Dragon, and Scorpion also find it a lucrative place to occupy. Since the Lion are involved, the Crane almost certainly are, and since it is on a major river the Mantis and Crab may also be interesting in keeping holdings there. And, why the fuck not, Phoenix too.
Rokugan Map:


origional post:
(moved over from second city tavern, lets just do it here)

So l5r in play by post might be hard, but we could still try it. I think it would be fun for us to just jump back into the samurai stuff again, and it’ll be easier for us to do in relay so that no one has to lay down any huge commitments to playing another actual game, but we need to lay down some ground rules and hammer out the details first just to make it a more smooth transition

What I was thinking was that we could set it up in a specific area, we could design or pick a small city with some outlying features (spooky bamboo forests, scary ogre hills, overrun iron mines, large open fields perfect for mass combat, a large river or two, and maybe even an ocean coastline), we’ll draw up a map and everything, and then the major parts of the adventure will take place entirely on that map; we can make it just large enough to offer a wealth of new locations when we need them, but keep it small enough that the adventures can all happen “locally” and it can be collaborative so that everyone gets a say in the development of the map’s features

characters would be standard, but the issue is game masters; we all want to play i’m sure, so i suggest that we work on implementing kind of a rotational GM thing, when you have an idea for a scene or a conflict, you can enact it, and play all the NPCs while letting other people react as their characters (but avoid having any characters you control participate in scenes that you are game mastering because i think that’s just bad conduct), you can run anything from dungeons, boss fights, large battles, mysteries, or social encounters, and any characters who want to be present can get involved, after a significant scene or adventure is over; where it feels like the characters should grow, the person running the scenes could award exp about equal to a single session of play (and shorter less significant scenes could award like a single exp to all participants)

so let me hear any suggestions you guys might have



Last edited by Number 12 on Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:51 am; edited 4 times in total

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The Cowboy

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What were you thinking about as far as making characters? Would we need to make character sheets as though we were going to be doing a regular campaign?

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Cosbones

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I really like this idea, and I think it could be a lot of fun in a kind of slow cooking kind of way.

And yeah, we'd knock out some character sheets and then play it like a semi-free-form RP, rolling when we needed to do something. It'd be a lot shorter then usual posts, simply so you can just get more out, but it would give the game a lot more description.

As for the setting, I'm always up for setting in or around Dragon lands, just for the mountain scenery and spooky loneliness. Valleys of bamboo forests, gushing waterfalls, caves that dig deep into the earth, plains that roll away towards the Unicorn lands.

Maybe we can do a game as Magistrates patrolling an area? Or some sort of investigative force? I'm not really sure, it'd be up to others and what they throw into the pot.

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Number 12

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i really liked the mixed bag that we had in the other campaigns so i'm hesitant to dedicate this game to any single theme; if we make a place extremely general, people can make any character they want from any clan and complete scenes and adventures their way; it'd kind of be like a free form mmo but only between a handful of people

if we don't nail down the kind of adventures we're on beforehand, it'll also allow players to make multiple characters and switch between them, just in case they want the experience of being a warrior and a courtier (but of course you'd have to pick which character you want to participate in each scene you're involved in)

one thought i also had was to pick a spot on the map that's in one of the non-affiliated provinces, that way no clan is barred from participating by being forced to play in enemy territory, and all the players have complete control over their back stories; there's some prime real estate tucked between the crane, lion and phoenix lands that's also within traveling distance of both the old and new capitols, this could be a great excuse to design a town that sees a lot of foot traffic but isn't necessarily gigantic

there's also a cool spot tucked between two rivers to the south of dragon territory, that hasn't got any landmarks in it at all, so we can basically put whatever we want there

let me know what you guys think of all that

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Cosbones

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I like the idea. You mentioned briefly in a call not too long about maybe treating the world building like some sort of FATE thing, where one person comes up with a vague concept (Bamboo Forest) and then the next person along decides to add another modifier. (Haunted, or Bandit Filled, or Rumoured to Contain an Oni.) We'd need to get some butts in seats to work out who'd be actually playing so we can get around to crafting the setting.

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Number 12

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that’s actually what i was going to post about today; sorry work basically killed me for a couple days there, but now i have some free time and i can dedicate some of it to kicking this a little more into gear

so yeah, we could do a collaborative creation thing, to tell the truth that was an idea that i kind of had on the fly, but it’s not a horrible one; i say we start by doing one location per player, and two to three traits per location, that should give us enough fuel to kick off play, more locations, traits etc etc can be added as play goes on

we can also use the fate system to create other kinds of plot hooks, like important organizations, or people or even larger ongoing conflicts, with those kinds of things hammered down we can turn a trait like “bandit infested” into “Hideout of the Furinkazan Bandit Clan” which just gives everything way more flavor imho

so here's a grid of our land, as you can see it has nothing on it right now, so we should fill it out; if you've got an idea for where to put something i will draw it in as per any specifications you give

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Number 12

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so this is what corey and i decided on so far, the red dot represents our hub city which we've named Burijji, stuck on the wide and angry Drowned Merchant River, anybody who wants to submit an idea for a location only needs to pick a location and a name, and maybe offer a short explanation of what you think it should be [: feel free to collaborate guys!


I6 - Burijji Mura (Bridge Town)
River - Drowned Merchant River


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Number 12

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so just one more post in here before i hit the sack; we need to add a couple traits to each of the locations we come up with, and also come up with at least one overarching conflict, and i'd say two or three people or organizations that merit enough to be included in the game's story as well as traits for them

for instance, we could add a person like "Otori Jinmun, The Provincial Governor" but unless we intend to make Otori-san a large part of the campaign we probably don't need to give him traits right now (though he could gain them later); people we add should come into play often and inspire conflict in the game, such as rival samurai, the tricky madam of a local brothel, or a group of noble bandits and the ronin who leads them

conflicts are a lot harder to come up with, and we'll probably end up discussing them a lot to make sure that they fit the bill, we'll probably take care of them last, but if anyone has a great idea for one, throw it out there as soon as you like; on adding traits: we should take turns adding traits to things, if you added a location or person try to hold off on adding a trait to it right away, instead let other people try to help define it while you think of a good trait to add to another person's contribution

coming up with traits: traits are going to tell us what kinds of things we face when we go to the places and meet the people in the game, leaving them general is a good idea so that they apply to a lot of situations, but giving them definition will often breed more excitement into the game; a trait shouldn't be longer then a short phrase. For instance Otori-san could have a trait like "kind" but it's a little boring if he's just nice to everyone, so we could add to it and say that he's "kind to those with cash" which makes him much more exciting to deal with, but we could make it a little more poetic by changing it again to "Doors open to the generous." and suddenly his character is going down some interesting avenues

traits for locations can be the same, or different. for instance a place can be "dangerous" or it can have a "dangerous crowd" or it could be "infested with yakuza" you just gotta reach into your heart to find the most interesting way a trait can be

i'm gonna be compiling all of the traits for this game in the first post of this thread, every person and place should have a minimum of two and a maximum of three, so if you don't see enough traits listed under the things up there feel free to suggest one

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Number 12

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so i was trying to think about this today while i was driving around and hanging out with my friends, but my really good ideas don't seem to come to me until i'm isolated and undistributed

i think i want to start by adding a trait to our main location of Burijji Mura; being a fan of kurosawa and leone, i think i want the town to have a bit of a lawless streak to it, with travelers coming through from all sides and the town constantly threatening to grow and shrink and possibly possessing a rotating cast of governers and their appointed lawmen, the underbelly has had time to become more ingrained then any strict form of law, sometimes this was helped along by political corruption

so as a trait i'd say "Tendrils of Corruption" could fit pretty well, i think Burijji is a wholesome town at heart, but it simply dosn't have the means to completely drive out its own demons



next i want to talk about the location that i want to add to the setting, this is something that i'm pretty torn on, i want to add a lot of things, but i need to make sure that i leave room for other people to fit their creativity in, so i narrowed it down to one that i really want to try to use as a location in an adventure once we kick off so here it is

D1 - Kikori to Ono Pass (Woodcutter and Axe Pass) is a ancient logging road that leads up into the mountains to the north; according to legend the road is older than most kami can remember, and rokugani have been using it to bring pine logs down the mountain for centuries; some claim that if you follow the road to it's end you can find a secret way into the Dragon Clan's territory, but that the way is so long and muddled that many have been lost to the deepest wildest parts of the forest trying to explore it

so yeah, that's my general idea, what is actually there is up to anyone who wants to submit a trait to make it more relevant to the game we're gonna play [:

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Cosbones

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It might be good to drop it in some sort of post about all the information that is being compiled, just so that we can follow all of it as it comes in?

I really like the idea of the lonely Dragon road through the dark spooky wood. To add to it; There is a small Monastery overlooking Kikori to Ono Pass, famed for a dark legend involving a black soul'd Ronin. The Ronin, Hōkuai, was welcomed into the Monastery one dark night. He sat and ate with the Monks, thanked them for their hospitality, then drew a blade and killed them all for a perceived insult. He wondered out into the darkness and was never seen or heard from again; Some say he now inhabits the old, creaking stone buildings of the lonely building, crumbling on the edge of a dangerously sharp cliff. Others say the lights and noises are from the ghosts of the Restless monks, trapped by a foul curse...

To add another road, how about a main artery from the Unicorn lands that the Dragon occasionally use?

Umanohaka is a wide path, beaten flat by thousands of feet. A single stone pathway, made of carefully laid slate stones, runs down the centre of an easily 12 foot swath of bent grass and mud. During the summer months, this road carries armies to and fro from the Unicorn and Dragon lands into the mainland of Rokugan, cutting through hot rolling grass lands without any features. During winter months, it is often incredibly silent, only marked by standing stones used to measure distance.

It stretches from E1 to I5, becoming the road many smaller ones join on the way, like a thundering river.

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Number 12

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i'm lovin it so far, i've added your trait to my location corey as "No one goes to the old monestary up there..." but let me know if you want that tweaked in a more different way

i also added your new location to my master list, and i'm going to draw it on to the master map soon; i also added a trait to it that i thought was kind of cool, my trait is "Pretty Regular Patrols"

The Umanohaka Path is an old road indeed, forged by the Unicorn but left to disrepair when they cleared out of Rokugan; upon their return the Unicorn clan reforged the road with hoof, hand and halberd, like an old katana made new again. Where once the road was held by bandits or taken back by angry earth kami, the Unicorn have constructed stations where regular patrols that do nothing but travel up and down it's length can rest and resupply. Young samurai in need of discipline are often given a post at the head of a patrol on the old Umanohaka.

lastly i added the Karera wa Kino no (They Are of Silk) to our people list when Chelle mentioned that she wanted there to be a group of crafty and crooked geisha living in our little slice of heaven

also new i'm adding a link to a google doc that has all of the traits in it, because i hate the formatting system in this forum and can't get the lists to look the way i want, so if you want to view the latest locations and traits go ahead and click on it here, or up in the first post of the thread: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jNyQZRuixb-RJfFoAPSPveKv52fwmf80AVMVgANcvcg/edit?usp=sharing

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Cosbones

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I still haven't decided on what kind of character I would like to play, but then again we can make a bunch of characters and fluidly move from one group to another. We could even be a pair of criminals on the run from the Investigators we also play, messing about with the sense of cat and mouse.

I think we should make the Geisha's in the midst of an internal war, fighting over whether to stay aligned to the Scorpion who are very interested in them or whether they should join up with the new dark tendrils of the Spider, who long to know more about the Empire and gain leverage over the rest of the Empire.

Conflicts. Conflicts. Hrm. Maybe there was a brief skirmish between a Dragon family and a Lion family. Both passed through Dead Merchant's Crossing easily, but when they returned they arrived on opposing banks and came to a stand off. Now tension builds in the city as the Mirumoto and the Matsu stare each other down, refusing to let the other pass first but hesitating to fight for fear of being chastised.

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Number 12

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alright, so cos and i brainstormed over skype for a while earlier and got a lot of cool stuff out of it

i added his trait to the Kinu (the geisha group) and also one of my own; as it stands the geisha of the Kinu secretly have their delicate hands wrapped firmly around the leashes of any yakuza or ner-do-wells who live in Burijji, but at the same time they are divided between sticking with their old friends the Scorpion, or treading even darker ground by throwing in with the Spider

our other big player in the area is Ochizuke Egao, or Smiler as he is infamously called; leader of the Okamiyama bandit clan, and a outlaw ronin; his men are common thugs and trouble makers who prowl and pick the land around the mountain that lies among the hills to the south of the Drowned Merchant; Egao himself unfortunately has the Curse of the Tides, during the day he is a stern, humorless man, but at night he becomes a half-mad lunatic; he's hard to control and hard to reason with in either of his formats though...

Our two conflicts so far have also been given some definition now, conflicts are going to be like the quests that our characters will attempt to resolve during the game, cos and i each picked one. His is called "Standard Off" and it involves two wayward armies, one of Dragon and one of Lion, trying to get home, but who are both too stubborn to decide which should cross through Burijji first. As time goes on, the soldiers become restless and disgruntled, and the conflict only escalates. Mine is called "I'll Tap Three Times" and involves the murder of Burijji's city treasurer, Ogawa Mikimo, who was found dead in her room with water in her lungs as if she had drowned, only there was no water within ten feet of her body... People are throwing koku in the river by the hundreds afraid that the Drowned Merchant is looking for victims in the city.

I've also added two locations to the map, either of which could gain traits. Cos, feel free to add any more locations that you want, and also attach traits to whatever you feel like, since it looks like it's just you and me for now, we should just finish getting what we need done so that we can start making characters and working out how we're going to play

I added Okami Yama (Wolf Mountain), the home of Egao's bandits of the same name, and Shiro Sentoro, or Thousand Lantern Castle. Sentoro was built by a Shugenja who hoped to make his teachings available to any samurai who showed affinity. He became ronin in order to show that his dedication to his craft was far greater then the loyalty he felt toward any clan, though he never spoke of which clan he originated from. Sadly his school of magic was never venerated or commended, and so few know of Shiro Sentaro, but still Shugenja live there, masters and students. When a new student arrives, an iron lantern is hung somewhere in the castle, when that student has graduated to be a respectable shugenja the lantern is lit by the fire kami, and when that shugenja leaves ningendo the lantern is snuffed.

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