Reflecting on Another Ending Game

I know that I have written on several occasions about my ongoing engagement with the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game (L5R); I’ve played in each of its iterations save the most recent translation into D&D rules, I’ve run games or helped to run games in most of them, and I’ve done some scholarly and semiformal work on at least a couple. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn, then, that I’ve been recently engaged in yet another L5R game: Sapphire Ambassadors.

The game in question this time as it appeared on my screen when I set out to write this.

Sapphire Ambassadors has its origins in an earlier game in a campaign–a series of linked individual games taking place in the same overall narrative milieu–and had been intended to be a fun diversion from the main line of that campaign, a useful side-game to help flesh out the specific vision of the world in which the game’s story occurs. In the event, it became the concluding game of the campaign, some personal factors on the part of the specific milieu’s originator having led to the dissolution of that campaign’s main narrative line. It was something of a sadness; I’d done a lot of writing for the game before the decision to close out the campaign came down, and the originator is a long-time friend and colleague whose personal life is of some interest and concern.

Another game master–centralized narrator and referee–and I decided to press ahead with the game, anyway, allowing players who’d participated in the earlier games in the campaign one last chance to tell their characters’ stories and bring some closure to narrative threads that had been drawn out in those games. We also welcomed new players–we always do–and we tried out a few new mechanics to help enrich matters despite the looming end of the game-world.

In all, I feel the game to have been a success. I’m not pleased to see the campaign end, of course; I enjoyed playing in it when I could play in it, and I enjoyed running games in it when I have done that. I’ve learned a lot about how to do the latter, certainly, and how to design events for forum-based iterations of games. (I’ve got some work in progress that goes into some of that business, so I won’t go into great detail here. Later, I promise.) And I will be taking some of the ideas that I feel–and that players tell me–worked well into the campaign I am working on even now (see this and this for more information). How well it’ll continue to work, I don’t know. How long I can keep it going, I also don’t know. But, as Sapphire Ambassadors and its campaign wind down, I am reminded of why I do it.

Telling stories with my friends is fun.

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