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Something about the onset of winter has me thinking about story-telling games again. The Last Valley needs some more work – I’ve been developing the wargame rules for Ganesha for a while now, but have not explored any personal stories for a quite some time. Also on the list was Hellfrost, but although I have built the supporting material that Dark Ages kind of story has always been Greg’s passion, and so this one needs to wait a bit longer for the green light.

All of which brings me back to Hân Rokugan, the crime detection stories leveraging the writings of Robert van Gulik and the prepared setting of the Legend of the Five Rings. I’ve always seen this setting in a more classical Chinese way in preference to a Japanese interpretation, but the reality is none of us are expert enough to really quibble. The theme is a structured, cultivated, ordered society, in which the forces of law confront the aberration of the unexpected.

The specific location for the story will be Ryoko Owari, the City of Lies.

As tools we will used our well tested enquiry resolution table v11, the usual array of dictionaries and encyclopaedias and a bunch of tables that I may well make into cards.

And the story will start like this, “There has been a murder, and someone is responsible. A body has been found in the canal, and we must get to the bottom of this before the city is thrown into chaos and the Empire is imperilled.”

Because for a mystery there is nothing like a murder, and it cannot be just any sordid thing. It has to be a big thing: a defining moment in the history of the city.

After that introduction the story will hopefully take a life of its own as we ask questions, pursue leads, and draw conclusions. The goal is to run a complete investigation in a single sitting.

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