An Interview with Sensei Vaughn

> First things first. How did you end up in this job?

Well, to be honest, I really don't know. I can give you the direct chain of events that led up to it, but there's a lot of off camera type of stuff that I didn't really know about, but which obviously brought this all about.

I had been posting to L5RINFO for a really long time, and I had been posting a lot on the playtest list, and when I went to Origins and Gencon this past year (2000), I was getting a lot of comments from people on how much they enjoyed my posts and how well thought out my writing seemed. I was also getting similar comments from the playtesters about my posts on that listserve. While that really didn't directly cause any of this, it was definitely something that made some of the people in charge feel comfortable with me being an official, post a lot kinda guy.

What really directly brought this all about, near as I can figure, was two things. One, I asked Andy Heckt for some off-the-record advice on getting to be more involved with the non-customer side of L5R. Two, I had an *awesome* conversation with Jeff Alexander and Paul Allen Timm about L5R and CCG's in general. Those two conversations pretty much seemed to be the genesis of this whole situation.

Kakita Brent: Ever notice how all of these people seem to get started by random pluck and luck?

Mirumoto Chris: Maybe we could get one of them to hit me with a car, so I could break into the biz!

> Did you ever figure that you'd be spending your days like this?

Not in a million years, no.

Kakita Brent: Ever notice how everyone we ask that works with this game seems to have that response to this question?

Mirumoto Chris: Don't look at me…I got started during a Habitat for Humanity service day, just like you did…weird.

> How long have you been involved in Legend of the Five Rings?

Well, I've been playing for about 5 years, and I've been playtesting the game for about 2. I've only been doing rulings for about a month.

Mirumoto Chris: He's been playing as long as we have! Finally, someone that will understand my pain!

Kakita Brent: You're not going to start complaining about Togashi's death again, are you? I don't think he can overturn a storyline effect…

> All right, time to get down to business. How do you find out what kind of problems people are having, and once you find them out, how do you go about fixing things?

Email. Lots and lots of email. I read just about every email message on the L5RINFO listserver (not digest), and I answer questions from private mails, too. I also try to check occasionally, though not as much as I check the listserve. Once I've got a question, I check the Archive to see if someone else has already answered it, check Websune for the exact card text, and occasionally check my own private collection of the last few years of rulings posts to get a better idea of the intent behind a ruling. Then, if none of that gives me any previously existing answers, I take some time to think about the involved cards, and try and come up with an answer that fits in with everything else in the game. Then, I put my answer in my periodic rules mail, and wait for the backlash. ;)

Kakita Brent: Aah…the backlash. I read one of his rulings; sure enough, it's the easy ones that they'll turn against you.

Mirumoto Chris: He makes it sound like we TRY to make his life miserable…oh, wait…

> Is there a single card/text that you consider to be your arch-nemesis, ruling-wise?

Umm...there's a few that are problematic, but only one that really bothers me a lot. Believe it or not, it's Rallying Cry. From Imperial Edition on, the thing's been worded to do something completely different than what it says it does, but because it's effect is very easy to understand but hard to write down, there's just no reason to change it. The card only works so long as you don't look too closely at it.

Kakita Brent: Rallying Cry? That's his arch-nemesis??

Mirumoto Chris: Well, at least he's not afraid of Block Supply Lines…

> Care to enlighten us on what a "typical" day is…then again, do you have typical days?

Well, I have a pretty set pattern in my daily life. I work 4 days a week at the bar my family owns, and usually make rulings after I get home from work, at about 2:30-3:00 (AM). Other than that, I play L5R about once a week, and try to get together with my friends to do some multiplayer stuff about once a week, too. Mostly I just stay up way too late, sleep in way too late, and fit some fun in with my work whenever possible.

Kakita Brent: I've got to admire a pattern of life so like my own.

Mirumoto Chris: I don't know…you just can't trust people with such well-planned schedules. A true gamer wouldn't even know what a "schedule" was.

> We know that you're a good team player, but do you have any rumors/secrets that you can pass along to us? Failing that, how about some interesting L5R-related anecdotes? real rumors or secrets, and my L5R anecdotes all tend to take up way too much space, and are basically all rants about bad things that have happened to me. One of them that's kinda nifty, and not too horrible of a rant, is my nemesis level rivalry with Brandon "That Punk" Flores. I've played him three times, all in tournaments, and all three times he's beaten me and ended my chances of winning. They've all been *really* good games, but I still somehow manage to find a way to lose. That was in '98, when I lost to him at 3 major tournaments in a row. Since then, we really haven't faced each other, but I have a feeling that someday, we'll meet again, and this time the fates will be on my side. Heck, even if I'm losing, I think that a few choice mid-game rulings would quickly swing the game in my favor... ;)

Mirumoto Chris: I thought that his arch-nemesis was Rallying Cry!

Kakita Brent: You've got to admire something about a man whose not afraid to make a few questionable rulings in order to win a card game…what that is to admire, though, I have no idea.

> What are your plans for the future, near or far-flung?

Eat, sleep, Origins, eat, sleep, Gencon. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.

Kakita Brent: Eat…sleep…Origins…GenCon…he's got all the bases covered.

Mirumoto Chris: Sleep is overrated.

> Got any "words of wisdom" you'd like to share with the players?

Check the Archive before you ask a question, you really can Counterattack twice off of one attack, and don't forget that the most important feature of L5R is the community. Value that above all else, and this game could go on forever.

Mirumoto Chris: Crap! Two Counterattacks!

Kakita Brent: You know, it doesn't say much that Crane military has been pummeling you since Anvil of Despair…

> Last, but not least: is there any character in Rokugan that you feel you can relate to?

Well, I'd like to say Doji Hoturi, but that's just wishful thinking. As a player, I relate pretty well to Daidoji Uji. My best skill as an L5R player is my ability to defend my provinces with some wily tricks, and I don't think that anyone's better at that than Uji. As a person, though, I don't really know. I guess I'll just stick with Uji, 'cause I don't think I could have picked anyone better.

Kakita Brent: I think I gotta go with Toshimoko.

Mirumoto Chris: Sigh…it's a tie between Hoshi Maseru and Toku…

Thanks for the opportunity! I feel all celebrity-like and everything, now. ;)


-Crane Clan Strategist -Holder of the Prescience Prize
-The Random Ninja -In Search of a Secret

"Just because I play to win doesn't mean I'm not a nice guy."

L5R Code: CR++/NJ++ S++ G++ Y+ P: M-/H+/D-/E- I++ C+ E+++
M! T-- Sd+++ D++ !K H-- Tk! IC+ U+++/?

Again, my biggest compliments and thanks have to go to Vaughn for agreeing to answer these questions…after all, his schedule is always a big challenge to work around. Thanks again, o' Random One…