The player said, “I feel like the actions we take have a direct effect on the story.”
And they do. The basic premise of the story as it’s developed is this: the younger brother of a minor Daimyo, (Japanese feudal lord) finds himself lord of an unexpectedly wealthy holding. As his domain grows, he relies on three samurai (the party) who are his only blood relations.
My prep for this game consists of answering two questions:
- How will last week’s events affect the story/setting?
- How can I complicate the story this week?
Clearly, I can’t answer the first question until the previous session is over, and the second question often requires the context of what the party will do in the next session.
It’s kept me on my toes and it’s kept the players on theirs, as we both react each week to the other’s actions.
This style of game has done something else: it’s prevented me from over-preparing, because I can’t prepare. I come to the game with one or two wrenches in mind that may or may not come up, depending on where the characters are and what they’re doing.
Aside from the dramatic wrenches, I am mostly thinking about what transpired in the previous session, what the long-term and short-term effects of those event and how the rest of Rokugan will react.
And often, my plot complications (the wrenches) are often reactions to a previous session’s events. For instance, in the last game, I left them with a cliff-hanger: a samurai from a wealthy vassal family within the Lion Clan has arrived in the party’s valley to a) act as an emissary for his Daimyo and b) find husbands for his three beautiful daughters.
The result of all of this very reactive preparation is a story with turns and complications that I don’t think I could have constructed myself.