That’s a good question. First, I should re-establish that this isn’t just a “samurai game.” This is a Motorcycle Samurai game. It’s a game about inner turmoil, divided loyalties, wicked sword fights, and sweet bikes. Part pseudo-spiritual character drama, part bitchin’ battle-against-the-Crazy-88 sword fights, part hot motorcycle porn. These are all of equal importance to me.
So keeping that in mind, what’s going on here, Nathanael?
In the anime Kino’s Journey, each episode mostly follows the same format: the titular hero rides into a new town (they call them “countries”), is introduced to the local weirdness, and by the end of the episode he is riding away, having experienced some regional change or learned some important life lesson. He beings the episode with a ride in, ends the episode with a ride out, always moving, always subject to the winds of change.
I’m picturing a bit of Dogs in the Vineyard inspiration here, as far as episodic approach goes. The GM sets up a mission, with the intention of firmly yanking on the cords of a handful of the tenets of each Code – tenets which should solidly clash once all put into play. The pack is given an important mission by their patron, and they ride forth to the destination to complete it. Pretty basic right there.
Each “mission” should involve threats to each of the three codes. The Pack is threatened because Tobei and Hyuu are both trying to romance the same woman. The Prospect member has learned that the Patron is lying to them about his intentions behind the mission, but he is afraid to share this information with the Pack Leader, for fear of jeopardizing his membership in the Pack. That kinda stuff. The pack must deal with each of these threats to their Codes, while attempting to complete the mission at hand. This is how I’m thinking the basic scenario setup is going to look.
So with that basic frame in place, what do we actuall do in the game proper? How do the Codes affect play? What exactly is Play, anyway? What factors come into play when resolving game conflicts? What is the scope of this resolution? What is the balance between fiat and mechanic?
There is a possibility here to set some more rigid scene structure, if necessary. The Ride In, the Mission, the Ride Home, etc. I’ve played games that have more rigid scene framing rules, requiring certain types of scenes in certain sequences in order to tell certain stories. Those can be fun, but my gut right now is telling me to keep it more open. The vote is out on this one.
What do you think? What would be cool, fun, exciting, tense? How would your sessions play out? What would you want to see happen in-game, at the table?