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 Post subject: Twenty Years of Memories: The First Historian
PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:24 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:50 am
Posts: 4
Twenty Years of Memories: The First Historian

Zen Faulkes is one of the main reasons we have the stories today about L5R that might have otherwise been lost in time. When the internet was still a baby he was already chronicling the game in tournament reports and event reports. He later spent many years on the L5R Rules Team.

I know you as Zen Faulkes, L5R mailing list pioneer, L5R historian and Rules team member, any other titles missing from that list?

Crab Clan Scholar. Self-declared President, Hida O-Ushi Fan Club. Associate professor of biology, The University of Texas-Pan American. Doctor Zen on Twitter.

How did you first hear about L5R and what drew you to the game?

I met artist Brian Snōddy in Victoria around fall 2015. He was hoping off his art at a local comic convention. He had several L5R pieces in his portfolio, including Hida O-Ushi. I fell in love with that character. I was determined to get copies of that art, and when I heard Brian call her a "Crab champion", that was even better, since I was working on my doctorate in... crab biology.


I got a starter deck for Christmas in 1995, liked how the game played and looked, and that was that. The game is now welded to my DNA.

You were a loyal Crab clan player, what was it about the Crab that you loved.

As I mentioned, it was a combination of having a favourite character and non-gaming interests. I have a deep professional relationship with crustaceans. I've published a lot of original scientific work on crustaceans.

I would ask you favorite character but I think anyone that frequented the site could say with some certainty that it was O-Ushi, what was it about her that you liked?

I loved the strength Brian Snōddy brought to O-Ushi. It was very different from the way women were usually portrayed in fantasy games. O-Ushi was not scantily clad - though the "I've got your war hammer right here" ran that way a bit. And Ree Soesbee kept that strength of character in the flavor and fiction she wrote.


Do you have a favorite O-Ushi fiction?

Everyone remembers Ree Soesbee's "A Good Little Wife." With good reason - it's fun!

This year is the 20th anniversary of L5R at GenCon, how many GenCon's did you attend?

Not that many. As I mentioned, I moved a lot, and lived overseas for some time. I think it was something like three or four, with the big one being the Day of Thunder in 1997.

How many did you play in and how many were you there as a Rules Team Member?

I think I played in all I attended. Rules Team wasn't stopped from playing.

Did you enjoy playing in the events more or being there as a staffer, what were some of the differences?

I never played long, because I was never very good! I was usually knocked out early. I did volunteer a bit, and that was fun.

During the couple of years, I was doing more writing for InQuest than volunteering for AEG.

I do remember running the slides during the introduction of Diamond Edition, at an evening seminar. That was fun. I loved the energy of the audience.

As a player preparing for GenCon I find my average amount of games per week rises considerably. Is it the same thing with Rules Questions? Did you find that in the weeks before the con there would be a big spike in questions?

Not particularly. There bigger spikes were with the release of a new set, or when there was some controversial card or rule that people were trying to work out what the limits were.

From a strictly storyline perspective what was your favorite GenCon?

Day of Thunder. By a long, long way.

It was the culmination of two years of fan anticipation. It was powerful, raw, emotional. If I was to start telling someone the story of Toturi and Doji Hoturi facing Fu Leng now, I'd probably still get choked up, 18 years later. There had never been anything like it.

I say strictly storyline because if I had just asked what your favorite GenCon the obvious answer would be 1998.

Because of Kisada's Wake? Maybe not. I may be prouder of the year I fought my way through the biggest grinder of a qualifier into the semis with a Yasuki Palaces deck. Like I said, I was never a highly competitive player, and that was probably the best I'd ever played competitively.

Let's talk about 1998 for a minute then, Kisada's Wake has been a favorite moment in many L5R players memories of GenCon, what inspired you to put on the event?

It started off almost as a joke. There was a card called Kisada's Funeral that was having a big effect on the competitive environment (which had started off as a card I'd submitted named "Deeds, not Words"). And I just thought, "He's our champion, the funeral's done, time for the wake."


And it snowballed. The AEG folks like John Wick and Ree Soesbee got behind it, and that helped.

The event spiraled into something more than you thought, did you have time to be excited about the passion that other players shared for the game you loved or were you in complete scramble mode?

I only realized something special had happened the next day. John Zinser told me, "Kisada's wake was the event of the con," and Ree said, "We had a real, emotional wake for a character that existed on cardboard."

You gave a pretty moving speech at the event, how much of that was pre-planned and how much of it was on the spot?

It was not planned. Like so much of L5R, I liberally lifted a story of a monk and a crab from historical Asian culture, a Buddhist story I knew. I had that bit in my back pocket. The rest was pretty much off the cuff.

Any other special moments or memories from GenCon events that you would like to share?

The last banzai.

If I remember right, it was the last year GenCon was in Milwaukee, before moving to Indianapolis. The final game was very late in the con, when just about everything else was packed up and the hall was near empty. After the final game, Dave Williams let out "Utz!"






And oh my God, with the hall so quiet, those shouts thundered. Anyone who's been at a big L5R events knows how loud and powerful that sound can be, but I'd never heard it like that before. There was just a moment after the last one where everything sort of stopped, and players listened to the echoes as it died down.

A player near me turned to another and just said, "Goosebumps."

For a moment, it was like we were all transported to some empty, mist covered battlefield in Rokugan.

Are you keeping up with L5R at all these days and if so what do you think of the new Clan Paths?

I've been watching, though not super closely. As this is the 20th anniversary of the Game That Can't Be Killed, I have been wanting to get my hands on some Twenty Festivals starter decks.

I have seen the Clan Paths, but haven't dug into them deeply. I do remember, though, John Wick saying that he always thought that one of the strengths of Rokugan was that it was always changing. And I think the new Clan Paths help keep the game from getting stale.

Zen thank you for doing this interview and thank you for your huge contribution that helped to make L5R the game it is today.

I live to serve.

For other great stories from L5R's history and more details on Kisada's Wake you can check out Zen's archived posts on the GenCon Forum.

Day of Thunder - ... 5&p=61#p61

The Last Banzai - ... 3&p=48#p48

Kisada's Wake - ... 5&p=34#p34


 Post subject: Re: Twenty Years of Memories: The First Historian
PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:22 am 
N /\ M E T /\ K E R
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:53 am
Posts: 93
AFrede wrote:
Twenty Years of Memories: The First Historian

I met artist Brian Snōddy in Victoria around fall 2015.

I thinks it's a typo.

Ratling • Nonhuman • Tactician • Those Who Wait Tribe

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 Post subject: Re: Twenty Years of Memories: The First Historian
PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:10 am 
Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennod

Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:09 pm
Posts: 405
AFrede wrote:
I've been watching, though not super closely. As this is the 20th anniversary of the Game That Can't Be Killed, I have been wanting to get my hands on some Twenty Festivals starter decks.

You had to tempt them, Zen... :P


Of #irishl5r fame


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