It's interesting how things change.
It's interesting how things change.
A friend recently asked me if I was going to be applying for the L5R story position that's recently opened up. I've been taking a break from the card game for a while (and if anyone's actually curious to know why, that'd be its own post) so I hadn't seen the site and I'd missed this fact.
Y'see, several years ago, Alderac opened up some spots on their story team and I applied. I went through a series of little challenges and tests and such they made available and I actually got to the final ten applicants before they picked some very talented writers for the position. And there was a bit of talk of rotating writers in and out to keep things fresh and maybe offering the other folks some freelancing work for the RPG although none of that ever materialized.
So anyhow, this position's opened up and while part of me is curious as to whether the experience I've gotten since then would make the difference in my writing abilities, I don't particularly want the job. And I'm wondering how much of that is being a little more aware of what sorts of ridiculous writing hoops the L5R story team has to jump through and how much of it is the fact that since I stopped playing the game I lost a lot of interest in the setting as a whole. I'd intended to keep up with the weekly fictions and RPG releases but it's like some sort of momentum has been broken. And maybe if I had the chance to run or play in a game I'd get caught up on the RPG books (which have been very high quality with the current edition, in terms of writing and otherwise), I'm sort of getting to that point where there are other things I'd rather spend the time and money on.
(Of course, I won't really have the time or energy to play those other things that have caught my interest, but even still.)
So I'm just sort of wondering aloud just how much of my interest in the game had simply become habit, or has my slacking off on things like the weekly fictions simply been due to the fact that I don't have any plans to participate in the storyline stuff? Or is it simply a matter of tastes shifting? I suspect it's probably mostly the lack of incentive, but I wonder.
Of course, now that I think about it, part of this may be the fact that while the L5R RPG books are really well-written, for the most part they don't seem as... well, as fun to read a lot of other stuff. Maybe it's because the setting's already so full of things that revealing that a particular clan has some elite combat cooking school, or there's a monk order out there that juggles geese, isn't that big of a deal.
Pathfinder, for instance, adds bits and pieces of setting stuff like particular military units or whatever in their assorted supplements. But for the most part they tend to take things that have been hinted or described before in non-rules text and either flesh them out in response to fan demand or offer new and interesting takes on them. There's a lot of stuff where a throwaway line in a setting book or a description of a regional tradition in a novel 'clicks' with the readers and they want to know more about that tradition or whatever was described in the line. And more often than not it eventually comes up.
But you don't get a lot of moments in L5R where something randomly cool comes up in a story and the fans jump all over it. Everything in the supplements is sort of planned out ahead of time and very structured and there's not a lot of things in the story where you read it and go 'oh, hey, how do I do that' and then look for the book where it happened. At most you'll get an interesting character liked by the fans and that guy will be the product of some weird school or he'll found some weird school but even then it comes across more like mechanical justification for how an iconic character works rather than something awesome to share with the fans. Maybe it's because between trying to accommodate the evolving storyline while also remaining timeline neutral, the L5R books can come out more as kind of dry setting material rather than giving you a jumping off point to have a sweet adventure.
(Just for the record, there are exceptions, and those exceptions tend to be books that really give you new perspectives on things -- the Imperial Histories supplements, for instance. But even then, those books are fleshing out major important events and setting things up for players to interact with stuff that matters a hell of a lot more than the latest obscure courtier technique. They're actually books about the setting and not just describing a kenjutsu technique originating in a particular village.)
Anyhow, I'm babbling at this point and not getting anywhere. This was just meant to be a stream-of-consciousness musing on how my feelings on L5R have cooled somewhat over the last several months. If anyone's got any thoughts, questions, or insight I'd love to hear 'em.