I am super excited to see Dave Laderoute, our new Brand Lead for L5R, rolling out the framework for how the story of the game is crafted and how we will be handling delivery of your choices in L5R.
Having been involved in many iterations of ways that the story can become truly interactive for players, I can honestly say that I’m really enthused about this framework. It allows us to see how engaged players can take control of the story, influencing it for their Clan and their favorite characters.
The biggest part of this is that we in AEG must start trusting players with information about where the story is going long before it happens. This has ALWAYS been our toughest hurdle to overcome, because we want the players to be surprised by exciting samurai drama. Until recently, I don’t think it really connected for us is that just because you know what the next arc might, it doesn’t take the excitement away. We see this as being similar to TV shows based on novels and other works. For example, lots of people have read A Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, but it’s pretty clear that they still want to see how these stories play out on TV. The trick is to give you, the players, a good idea of where the game is heading, then let you make the choices that will flesh out the details for the Clans and their characters. In that context, there’s still LOTS of rooms for drama and action that will surprise and engage you!
You’ve always known what the current, overarching story is, but now you will start seeing the broad story plans for the next arc as well. More importantly, with this new framework, you’ll be able to see how your decisions will directly affect it. This is because of the really innovative part of the new framework--the various PATHS available to each of the Clans in the Long-Term story. The current PATH for each Clan, and how it fits into the Overarching story, will be clear to you.
An example--let’s say the overarching story is “Take the Throne”. You will know who the leading contenders from your clan to take the Throne are, and every three months or so, this will be updated base on your actions in the results of storyline events, Clan votes on the Imperial Assembly, and so on.
FOR ME, HERE IS THE AWESOME NEWS--sprinkles are for winners!!! Your Clan’s PATH will often not exist comfortably with the PATH of some, or even all of other Clans or Factions in the game. Uh-oh...now what happens, when these PATHS collide? That’s where winning events and supporting your Clan will really come into play. Let’s say the Dragon want to open that Black Scroll, while the Crab want to stop them (go Crab!) In this case, these Clans will clash on the CCG playing-field, in Imperial Assembly contests and in other events, and the story prize here--the Dragon opening a Black Scroll or not--goes to the winner.
AND THERE’S MORE COOL NEWS! Winning or losing may not change your PATH, but it may change your options. Winning and losing will drive the story, through conflict faced by the Clans. Winning means your clan’s PATH is dominant in that part of the story (the Crab win--yay!--and the Dragon plans to open the Black Scroll are thwarted), but the story goes on. All of the Clans will find there’s plenty more to be fighting over!
This last part is where you can get really invested in the game and story. Let’s be honest--most of L5R’s current story choices DO NOT come with a price. In this new framework, many choices WILL come with a clear price. The big story prizes are going to come with potentially negative things that could happen if you choose them. Moreover, when presenting your paths and story choices, there may be an easy path and a costly path. Of course, the higher the potential cost, the potential payout. So the question we want you to face is, what are you prepared to risk? How much are you ready to sacrifice for your Clan?
This is one of the things that has never changed about L5R players. They know their Clans, and they know what they want. L5R is at its best when a cabal of story-driven players work with high-level CCG players to push the story in a direction they want it to go.
L5R has been around for 20 years because, when players do get control, the results are awesome. Now, L5R is a big ship; the process of handing this power to you, of making such important changes, is always slower than we would hope. This framework and the processes around it have been in the works for a while, though, so we intend for this to roll out pretty quickly. It’s new and very glass wall in nature, so we hope you’ll embrace it, and help us make it work.
Over the next few weeks, much will be revealed about where the story framework stands right now and what choices the Clans will face for their Paths forward. We’ll also talk about the the power of Clan unity in achieving goals, and what risks and rewards you’ll find yourselves facing as a result.
So, death before dishonor...well, as long as it’s your Clan that’s doing the dying.