First off, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Not a problem, William.
1) How much of your day would you say you devote to the L5R universe, whether it be actual work, or merely some musings?
Depends on how heavy my deadlines are. Occasionally they're so light that I don't have much work at all other than answering email and checking into make sure nothing's exploded. Sometimes they're so heavy that all I'm doing is eating, sleeping, and writing for days on end. Generally it's more of a medium between the two.
2) Will the 4 Winds story arc be resolved in either Gold or Diamond?
The struggle for the throne will be resolved in Gold, but the story of the Four Winds will continue into [Diamond]. The children of Toturi continue to be major players in the history of the Empire (assuming they all survive, of course).
3) If one of the Winds does become Emperor/Empress, what would possibly become of the others?
All of the Winds have unique talents that would ensure that they can find a niche within an Empire ruled by any of the others. Of course some might have more difficulty than the others (Kaneka finding a place in Naseru's Empire and vice versa) but it's that sort of thing that makes life interesting.
Of course some of the Winds may not be entirely satisfied to live in an Empire ruled by one of the others. Even after one of them has been declared Emperor and acknowledged by all the Clans, that's no guarantee that the others won't make trouble.
4) How much of the current story arc was set in stone (or at least thought through) when Gold debuted, and how much has been added in due to tournament results or other fan participation?
The Yasuki War was sketched out early on (actually two versions of it were sketched out early on, as there was an early story tourney that could have greatly altered the course). Daigotsu's plans for Fu Leng were sketched out relatively early, as were Daigotsu's origins and connection to the Hantei line. The Shadowed Tower subplot was generated entirely from player activity. The Dragon-Phoenix war was sketched out early on but has taken a few unexpected turns due to player involvement (not to mention an unexpected amount of players actually *supporting* Shiba Aikune).
5) Will the war between Kitao and Kumiko be resolved anytime soon? Is there any chance of Kumiko losing her Taint?
The war will be resolved before the end of Gold. The Mantis Challenge Booth at GenCon led to Kumiko conquering Kyuden Gotei, the largest of the Mantis cities. Kumiko also has the Celestial Sword of the Mantis, giving her a huge amount of influence over the clan. However, Kitao is a very dangerous enemy and in Heaven and Earth she plans to reveal her plans to turn the tide against Kumiko...
6) In the last batch of Clan Letters, it was revealed that the Crab are unable to simply destroy the Lost Tower and will be forced to build around it. What is preventing the tower's destruction?
The Shadowlands frequently acts like a thing alive, and even inanimate objects infected with the Taint sometimes respond in strange, unpredictable ways. As the tower was personally blessed by the power of Fu Leng, it is highly resistant to the Crab's best efforts to destroy it. Secrets of the Crab has an extensive section on the Tower of Fear, in which you'll learn that it actually *has* been destroyed, but then promptly rebuilt itself from the rubble. It's one of the new terrors of the Shadowlands, barely a stone's throw from the Wall.
7) Will Daini and Mara be seen anytime soon?
They will factor prominently in Diamond Edition.
8) Which Season storyline results have not be announced or resolved in fiction?
Anything after Season of the Lion has yet to be resolved. I believe there are a handful of minor storyline results from the Seasons before that which have yet to crop up as well.
9) About how many Dragon people have joined Mirumoto Tsuge? Has any other notable personality joined with the Dark Oracle?
Tsuge has not actually joined with the Dark Oracle so much as he's been coerced into giving him his sanction and agreed to order his forces to stand aside as Tamori wrought destruction on the Phoenix. No one is as tormented by the decision as Tsuge himself. As for whether or not any other notable personalities have allied with him, well, none have been *named* so far. However, it has been implied that individuals on both sides invited Tamori to interfere with the war, but that whoever was doing so on the Dragon side was not influential enough to truly set Tamori loose. (Thus he turned to Tsuge, the newly appointed general.)
10) Will the Nezumi take up residence in the ruins of Otosan Uchi?
Nezumi let nothing go to waste-waste. The city is still very shiny.
11) Will there be more clan/clan "alliances" in the story and in game, or more specifically, will there be "ambassador" type personalites like in Warlord which reduce costs for recuriting out of clan.
Not that I am aware of. That'd be more a question for Design, but the idea is quite intriguing.
12) How rife is the Shadowed Tower with maho?
Only a select few shugenja, and they are closely monitored. The Shadowed Tower actually participates in a broad range of practices that don't involve maho. It's the mere fact that ANY of them use maho brings the entire organization into question. It's a very serious crime in Rokugan, so even if only a handful participate the fact that it's permitted casts guilt on everyone involved. If an organization like the Kuni or Asako Inquisitors found out about them, they'd probably be more enraged by the fact that they use maho than that they exist to betray and subvert a Clan Champion.
13) With the Dragon/Crab exchange, the Dragon players received Hitomi Hogai as a card. Do you know if the Crab are due for such a personality?
Yes they are.
14) Will the Gozuku be making a comeback?
I know nothing of any organization designed to subvert the power of the Emperor, may his or her reign be long and just. Move along, citizen!
15) Are there plans to reveal the "truth" behind Bayushi Yojiro and the other person that was acting as him in "Master of Secrets?"
Yes. In fact, the new Scorpion Champion makes in appearance in Secrets of the Scorpion as well as a fiction planned to be released at roughly the same time.
16) Why was Bayushi Shixiang killed?
Shixiang had found out information about the Shadowed Tower that could have aided Yojiro's faction. Precisely what he found will be revealed later.
17) Do you know if Omen will receive an experienced version, or perhaps come back as an Oracle of Jade holding?
I know I'd like to see one.
18) Will anything more be revealed about Ghedai and his machinations?
Yes. Keep an eye on the biweekly Treachery's Coin serial Shawn is currently working on. Kolat, Mantis, Unicorn, and evil Naga. What more could you want?
19) Are the various Bloodspeaker cults working with Daigotsu or are they independant of the Dark Lord?
The Bloodspeakers are always a bit of a sticky wicket. There's a lot of infighting between the individual cells and they rarely get along as a group. Shahai's cell, Chuda Mishime's cell, and a few others do work willingly with Daigotsu. A few others defy him, though they do so subtly. Anyone who openly defies Daigotsu will be dealt with as swiftly and severely as Kyoso no Oni.
20)Master Tiger. The unnamed Kolat must either be Akodo Kage or Fuzake Waitansee. Will the master's identity ever be revealed?
No. We've decided to work occasional plot points in like this for the RPG fans. Master Tiger will not be revealed so that any GM can feel free to determine his identity with no fear of the canon setting contradicting what he has established. Though Master Tiger may appear in fictions, we intend to be extra careful never to reveal enough to allow anyone to prove his identity beyond a shadow of a doubt.
21) Will there be further 1KYOD fiction?
I hope so. I'd sure like to write some.
22) Between you and me (ok, everyone else, stop reading), what is the true name of Fu Leng?
There's no real answer to this out of character (meaning, there is no word that we've decided is his name). However, the RPG does have a option for a curious character to discover his name. If you read Way of the Shadowlands very, very carefully the clues are there for the foolishly curious.
23) Are any clans/characters more difficult for you to write than the others?
The Scorpion are always difficult to write, though they're also a lot of fun. It's hard to draw a balance between making them too clever and making them not clever enough. Probably the most difficult part of the Scorpion to portray is that they never appear to lose. This is, in fact, Scorpion policy.
Even if the Scorpion are handed a resounding, scathing defeat it's a Scorpion's duty to steeple his fingers, nod knowingly, and say "Yes, exactly as I planned..." It's all about intimidation rather than truth, and occasionally I've seen fans get riled that the Scorpion seem "too unbeatable.' The trick is to look at the stories objectively and know when the Scorpion have really proven unbeatable and when they're trying to play off their defeat.
24) Is this interview over?
Thank you again, Rich. I think I speak for many many people when I say that we love what you are doing for the card game, the rpg, and the weekly fix that is fiction.
You're welcome! I'm glad that the work we're doing is being well received, and I hope we get to continue doing it for a long time to come.
L5R Story Team Interview by:
Crab Clan Thug
Jade Hand Samurai