This month we’re joined by GM JaymesBolton to talk to him about his L5R campaign Changing History. James plays a lot of games and has some GM wisdom that I can truly relate to (see: hitting players with a bat). I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did interviewing him and checking out his campaign! Changing History even has a cool intro cinematic so check that out before or after the interview too!
First off, feel free to tell us about the person behind the GM screen. Where are you from? What do you do both aside from gaming? Alter Ego’s? Wife and kids? Where can we find you on the internet? Let us know if you feel so inclined!
I’m from California. I’m a martial artist and I just recently graduated with a doctorate from Georgetown University Law.
Tell us about Changing History in a nutshell. How did it come to be?
I didn’t like the way the original canon of Legend of the Five Rings played out, so I changed it. It came about after making a d20 Oriental Adventures character. I then wanted to try out the L5R system.
How regularly do you play, and where do you play?
We play L5R changing history once a week, Pathfinders twice a week. We play in Tesoe’s living room, although only recently have I’ve been physically there. I’ve been running game in California via Skype from Washington, D.C. That’s a three hour time difference. Oh boy.
I love the system. My favorite part is that it allows amazing mechanical flexibility for both the GM and the players. Roleplaying wise, I love the complexity and depth of the campaign setting. Roleplay is integral for all classes.
Aside from L5R, do you play/run any other systems or settings often? How did you get into gaming?
For the past five years, I’ve had at least two games of D&D 3.5 a week. In addition, I did Shadowrun, Dark Heresy, Whitewolf, Iron Kingdoms, Deathwatch, Pathfinder and Heroes Unlimited. I’ve also played AD&D and 4th ed. I’ve been playing D&D off and on for the past 20 years.
How long have you known your players? How long has your group been together?
Anywhere between five to eight years, depending on the player. Two are siblings, two are dating, and I am dating one. Have fun guessing which one is which. Hint: Player/character genders match. We’ve been gaming at least twice a week for the past five years.
Are you new to Obsidian Portal? If so, what brought you to the site?
No, I’ve been with Obsidian for over two years. I found it randomly while working on my Dark Heresy campaign.
The adventure logs on Obsidian help me keep track of everything we’ve done, and the wiki helps me organize the multitude of L5R information that exists. Getting my players involved is like fishing for sharks naked. It’s dangerous and rarely yields the desired results.
Your wiki is really well organized, would you say it’s a labor of love or do you get a lot of help from your players too?
Tesoe helps a lot with all the artistic stuff, as does KatelynScarlett and yyhdance. Besides that it’s a labor of love, insomnia and OCD.
What would you say the single biggest highlight from your game has been so far?
I had trouble with this, so I asked my players. We all agreed that the biggest highlight for the group was the success of Hida Kengetsu’s overall character development. (Large, smelly Crab clan samurai spouting elegant haikus and getting the Princess’ hand in marriage.) We all agreed that each character had their individual highlight, because anything big sometimes didn’t include some characters. So they each wrote a haiku about it.
A lion’s great leap
A crab’s unbreakable shell
A new art is forged. (WinglyKing)
Stories are my wealth
None can stand before my blade
Honor guides my path. (Tesoe)
I could tell you all
Shosuro’s crowning moment
But it’s a secret. (KatelynScarlett)
Showing off my skill
By cutting tables in half
Fight to help Hida (yyhdance)
I see you have lots of maps up on the site, do your players use them regularly? The political map is great too, lots of intrigue I suppose?
Occasionally. The political map, and the intrigue it implies, is why I love L5R.
Sometimes it’s necessary to bring a bat to your players—knowing when to beat your players senseless with a bat and when to just let them do what they want is a delicate balance.