Shi-Tien Yen-Wang wrote:
Next... A delicate one. The big three of WC were Megumi, Saibankan and Muzaka. You, STYW, were clearly the fourth member of the trio (Story team + Taking care of many events). However, while Megumi was indeed true neutral, Saibankan and Muzaka were the official Scorpion AGM, and you were the Crab one. Did not this "judge and be judged" position cause problems from time to time?
I can see how certain GMs being in charge of certain clans could give the players a perception of bias towards that clan. However, I would like to state that one of the goals from the beginning of court was for each GM to be a GM to ALL, first, and a GM to their clan second. That's the focus I took in the court, at least.
I tried to look at each clan's private forums, review information, and offer answers when other GMs were not on (I was and am often online at very late American hours).
Muzaka was focused on the Scorpion, but both he and I took a very hands-off approach to allowing the Scorpion and Crab to take charge of their own actions. My philosophy, explicitly stated at the outset, was "Ask forgiveness, not permission. Tono is in charge of you until he does something stupid. Ask questions if you have them."
Muzaka did something similar. He could not have been more neutral regarding the Scorpion, trust me.
Saibankan and I helped out with the Scorpion when Muzaka's baby was born. But Saibankan was the logistical expert of the court. He managed the points, he ran all kinds of rumor and information, and was, aside from Megumi, the most neutral GM at the court.
I do not doubt for a single second the GMs tried their best to be as objective as possible.
However, there is something than all the goodwill of men cannot help with: Communication.
When most faction's players needed something, they had to refer to their AGM, who then transmitted to the big guns. They were delays involved, data lost, back-and-forth, fist responses being overruled later. Please note that they are several posts on the forum specifically asking not to bother any other main GM except for emergency.
When a Crab/Scorpion needed something, they just had to ask their AGM directly, and since they were already the big ones, things were quicker and smoother.
The examples are numerous, but the most obvious one was the fact that Crab (and most probably Scorpion) players were explained with extreme details how to report events which may affect their glory and honor, and explained at length how important honor was.
Something most people learned near the end of January. After two whole months of not reporting anything.
Of course, at this point, they could have dug in their numerous posts to find back things worth some points. But few actually did.
Because they did not know what was worth points in all the stuff they did.
Because it would have taken an enormous amount of time the players did not have, and, most importantly, the GMs did not have anymore (Oni's aftermath).
Because it would have sounded like begging and whining.
Because they did not want for their last days of court to be nothing but shameless attempts at hammering points when there were still so much RP to do.
Furthermore, knowing beforehand how important honor was going to be would have changed a lot of strategies. Do you think any character (not only Spider by the way) would have used their Dark Paragon advantages so eagerly had they know it would cost 5 points to their delegation each time? Would any homebrew have taken one actually?
Let's take an analogy.
You have two new L5R players. Two other nice players lend them each a deck so they can play, and teach them how to play, but separately.
The first one gets a pure military deck. His teacher only explains him the military victory condition, because as a beginner, that's all he should need to know to play, right.
The second receives an honor deck. His teacher explains him all honor mechanisms, and also how to endure military time enough to win.
The match begins. The first player finds his opponent strategy quite strange, but does not react at first. Well, maybe he has a bad draw or some sort of combo which takes time to prepare. He plays slowly, carefully, eager to avoid the only defeat he knows of: losing all provinces.
Then, at one point, he finally understands something fishy is happening and asks. And learns of the Honor victory condition. When his opponent is at 35. And still has two provinces left.
Technically, at that point, he still has a small chance to win. There is a possibility he can crush the two remaining provinces just in time. But objectively? He has already lost.
There is no culprit there. Each player, the military one, the honor one, their teachers, did what he thought was just and best. But there is unfairness nonetheless. The military player did not lose because he was less good than his opponent, but because he was badly informed.
The Crab's affair this court is similar (I said Crab because I have far less information on the Scorpion, but it is probably the same). The Crab players were acting in good faith, and actually pointed out some scenes with other players for points' attribution (Tono with Atsushi, Tomokazu with Geiko...). But that does not change the fact they were offered quite an edge, and that it was mostly impossible for others to catch up when the deal was revealed.
I do not say that all factions knowing would have changed anything at the final outcome: The Crab were incredible players, and they may have crushed the other clans nonetheless.
But this injustice is responsible for at least half of the cut-throat ambiance of the last weeks, and may have provoked quite a few drops and ragequits.