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    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

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  1. Schmiegel


    Thank you for more excellent information! We missed our session last Thursday night, due to bad weather, and I'm heading out of town tomorrow so we'll miss that session too. When we're back, it will be a continuation of Palace of the Emerald Champion. One encouraging thing, for me, was that one of the players has bought the core rule book, so he apparently has "bought in". So now we have three of four players with a core rule book at home, and the fourth with a pdf copy. I've read the entire adventure over. I'm not totally clear on how much I should leave the players on their own when they're investigating the death of Satsume, and how much I should reveal to them of the text in black. That's been an area where I've struggled somewhat in both adventures we've played so far. Also, oftentimes a TN with a specific check will be listed. For example, in the last paragraph on page 25 of In the Palace of the Emerald Champion, it says "any PC who makes a TN 3 Courtesy or Games check (Water 2, Earth 2, Fire 5) correctly places the blame on the least politically connected individual involved, solving the matter and gaining a smile..." Should I be revealing the exact details of the check that is required in this case, or wait for the players to correctly identify that a TN Courtesy or Games check is the option they need to select without any help from me? I'm not sure they would get that if I didn't give them an assist..
  2. Schmiegel

    Spending Void point and critical strike

    Thank you, UnitOmega! That's a very interesting and entertaining explanation. Actually, I was beginning to slowly understand after reading the previous responses and then articulating my own response to those (thinking out loud, counting on fingers sort of thing....). Kind of like an energy saving light bulb very slowly turning on and producing muted light. I'd have to say your explanation completely wraps it up! Essentially I had to rethink my approach to how the fatigue/damage system works. You guys are most helpful!
  3. Schmiegel

    Spending Void point and critical strike

    Sorry.....I tried to "quote" Franwax but it didn't work the way I expected it to, and all I did was make a mess. (I've never tried the quoting thing previously and obviously don't understand how to do it...). But anyway, I do see why you'd want to ignore damage and just take a 3 crit instead. However I'm not getting why that happens. Implicit in this equation must be a rule that spending the Void point allows you to totally ignore the damage component. Intuitively, it seems like giving up and not defending would still end up with you taking the damage and therefore probably becoming incapacitated. Obviously that's not how it works though, and I was looking for the rule book entry that explained that.. So just to confirm what is probably the obvious, by using this option, the character takes zero damage (even though they're not defending), and "only" takes the crit value instead. I guess that must be because the character is saving the fatigue (i.e. not "bothering" to spend it to defend to mitigate the damage..). Thank you for your patience and responses!! I'm trying to understand it so I can logically explain it to "my players". When I'm stammering around and not giving a coherent explanation for something this major, I lose what little credibility I do have as a GM. One of my players is already complaining that the rule set for L5R role playing is extremely complex (we've only completed three sessions of actual game play).
  4. I'm not understanding the rule about spending a Void point to "voluntarily not defend" and thereby take a Critical Strike to "gain a tactical advantage". (Pg. 268 of the core rule book, under Defending Against Damage). If you don't defend, you don't spend any fatigue to mitigate the damage. Wouldn't you then take all the damage? How then would you avoid being Incapacitated? There must be some passage somewhere in the rule book that explains this...but I can't find it. For one thing, I thought the only way to AVOID being incapacitated was to spend fatigue to defend against it. So if you simply opt NOT to spend fatigue, how is that helping? And therefore, how is there any "tactical advantage" to that..? I must be missing something painfully obvious. Won't be the first time, or the last. "Shattering Parry" (pg. 36, core rule book) is apparently quite separate from the above. (This is where you may spend 1 Void point to dramatically intercept an attack with your weapon to increase the chance of survival, which is also referenced on pg. 270, although in that pg. 270 sidebar there is no mention of spending a Void point.)
  5. Schmiegel


    Thank you, once again! Reading your commentary, I can't help but wonder...where did you learn all this exactly? Not that I could ever hope to possess such a level of knowledge. It's amazingly helpful. We played our introductory session of In the Palace of the Emerald Champion, and covered the encounters with the farmer/bandits, tengu and the goblin attack on the merchants. My overriding takeaway from the experience was that, as GM, I was way too slow and clunky in managing the conflicts. The players were patient, and when I apologized, replied that they could have "spent more time learning the game themselves". (Not sure exactly how they're going to do that without buying the books...). Compared to other role playing games I've participated in, this was much slower moving since I felt very inefficient in managing the various details of conflicts. I thought it was still fun, but...I need to figure out a way to get better. I'm thinking I'll create kind of a crude "flow chart" document to list each step in the skirmish process, from rolling for initiative, to administering critical strikes, and everything in between that I can think of, all on one sheet, and distribute it to the players as well. Maybe that will help. One detail that I need to administer better is spending opportunity for NPCs. It was challenge enough to interpret the dice in a system that is still new to me. I ended up just ignoring the opportunity results that the NPCs rolled. Investigating that further, I see that many of the NPCs listed at the back of the core rule book don't have any mechanisms for spending opportunity, while others do have that feature specified in black and white. (I realize that spending opportunity can be an open ended proposition, but as the GM running NPCs, I kind of had my hands full without worrying about how I'm going to apply that aspect of it - which felt like I was kind of "wasting opportunity", pun intended...because I, well, WAS.) I'm considering preparing some ways for NPCs to spend opportunity ahead of time, as part of my pre-game preparations. Do GMs do that? Since some of the listed NPCs do have means of spending their opportunity results already specified, perhaps it's not appropriate to alter the game further by making up my own. (And I realize I can use the examples of opportunity table on page 328 of the core rule book for further guidance as well.) At the end of the day, I'm just hoping that continued repetitions will have a positive effect on my ability to manage conflict scenes. The other aspect that jumps out is unmasking. I get the concept behind it, it's a means for PCs to rid themselves of all strife, all at once, when they've become compromised. I was considering the way that I would explain this mechanic to the players, and I didn't find the examples provided in the core rule book to be all that helpful, so to this point, I've avoided that part of the game. So much to learn..
  6. Schmiegel


    That's excellent advice about a multiplayer quest making little sense when only one character's ninjo is involved. You're absolutely right, thank you! Good to head that mistake off at the pass. Magnus, my son and I were playing L5R the card game by cell phone last night, and I described the tremendous assistance you provide people, including me, on this forum. He commented that you could be considered a bodhisattva on this particular plane of existence, which sounds pretty accurate to me. Our group is playing again tonight, just starting the Palace of the Emerald Champion second beginner adventure. I'm reasonably confident when it comes to handling the encounters, but much less so in the area of "what do you do for eight days while on the way to the palace"? Encounters will take up a few moments in time. How do GM's deal with the in-between time? Do you just skip over it narratively until the next encounter. I really have no clue how to bridge those gaps. Do I let the players drive that part of the story? What happens when they come up with something that I'm absolutely unprepared for..?
  7. Schmiegel


    Thank you so much for the incredibly clear clarifications! Almost alliterative.. We're on the verge of actually getting this next adventure started started, of all things. Thursday night was spent (nearly) getting character creation concluded. It was a productive session, and it was definitely a positive that it was done cooperatively. What we have is a Crab bushi, Hida Defender school; a Crab shugenja, Kuni Purifier school, a Crane courtier, Doji Diplomat school, and a Scorpion shugenja; Soshi Illusionist school. They were each given a bonus 10 xp to spend, to reflect the time that had been put into playing the Topaz championship, even though these are all new characters.. The guy playing the Crab shugenja would have preferred a Crab Witch Hunter school, as he'd prefer to hunt users of Maho. But there appears to be no such thing, so he will settle for the Kuni Purifier school. He didn't make a big deal out of it. Still, I'm wondering if there might be a way to somehow substitute a Witch Hunter school for the purifier school, by a house ruling machination.. The Crane courtier has a couple of interesting character aspects....extremely flirtatious and loves saki. There should be some opportunity to create some complications from that. Any clever ideas are welcome. Also, and even more interesting...he stated that he has a secret desire to track down a forbidden Maho tome. That desire synergizes rather well with an idea I had for a side adventure. Previously, my idea was to have the characters embark on a quest to recover an ancestral sword from a sinister and barely accessible shrine location, possibly deep in the mountains, and where they would need to undertake an Indiana Jones- like foray into a cave or underground labyrinth beneath the shrine itself. I'm actually kind of excited about that prospect, as corny and cliched as it may sound. However I can change the object of the quest easily to the forbidden tome that the courtier seeks.
  8. Schmiegel


    Thank you for another crazy good response/commentary Magnus! I'm saving this one as a general reference. Amazingly helpful! Your comment about spending opportunity results was perfectly timed, for me, as I was about to post a question regarding that in the Rules Questions thread.. I was reading page 262 of the core rule book where it mentions that characters can "spend * from an initiative check to get additional information about their surroundings or undertake small tasks such as readying weapons or diving for cover (see Table 8-1: Examples of * on page 328"). So when I referred to page 328, there was no mention anywhere about readying a weapon or diving for cover... That actually leads to another question. I'm not clear on whether a character's weapon is already readied at the beginning of a skirmish scene/duel etc., or if an action first has to be spent to ready the weapon. Now I'm seeing the suggestion just referenced that a * during initiative checking can be spent to ready a weapon. So I guess it's obvious that the "default" is that weapons are NOT readied at the start of combat. There may be individual exceptions to that, from various special abilities etc. But anyway, my takeaway from your comments about spending * is that why should I worry about it? It seems the GM (and the players) are invited to make it up as they go (while using the rule book examples for reference, but not absolute black and white constraints on how * can be spent exclusively..). That is certainly a liberating concept! A question on the Errol Flynn example... Should the player have to announce that intent PRIOR to the dice roll, or would they be allowed to state that's what they are doing AFTER a * has come up on a die..? One last thing, if I may....(which I was also going to post under Rules Questions, but if you don't mind..). About Critical Strikes.. My understanding is that a Critical Strike is administered if a character is unable to DEFEND an attack (meaning unable to offset the damage with fatigue, or resistance - or both), OR if the attacker spends ** (two opportunity results) to accomplish it. It doesn't seem like the core rule book makes that totally clear, or perhaps I'm just dense (or both, lol). Excellent suggestion about making character creation a cooperative process, by the way. It appears that's where we're headed this Thursday night (tomorrow), whether fully by design, or by simple procrastination (which may end up accidentally working out perfectly). Thank you once again!
  9. Schmiegel


    I'm in awe of this answer. Thank you so much! But getting over that...last night we completed the Topaz Championship adventure. For that, we were using stock PCs from the beginner game. (I kind of screwed up the final skirmish with Bayushi Sugai and the ruffians by incorrectly interpreting the dice results - counting Strife as Successes, using the Fire Ring, instead of as Bonus Successes, duh! One player caught the mistake, but by then it was late and we just ended it... I'll need to up my game as GM.) So next we are turning to creating new characters, not using the stock PCs any longer. The players have their lists of 20 questions, as homework. They have not written their Ninjos yet, presumably. It didn't occur to me that the sequence you described in your earlier post was the reaction of a player's character to a complication you presented. That certainly casts it in a new light, of course. But if I had any uncertainty about how complications work before, I don't anymore! I've read some of the fiction you referenced. I wonder if GMs use that as inspiration/backdrop for their own adventures and campaigns. As a novice GM, I'm worried that I won't be able to provide an "adequate experience" for the players. (Making mistakes such as the one mentioned above was very frustrating.) But if players provide the sort of input to the story that you described in that fascinating Scorpion sequence, that takes a lot of pressure off the GM.. It's hard to get a good grip on the balance between what the GM provides and what the players "bring to the table", as a new GM. Part of me wants to really do a "deep dive" into this system and the lore and spend considerable time (and money) getting way into it - it's so fascinating. Then another part of me pops up with the thought, "what if the players don't really care that much or even like it.."? (Or if I suck..) There are obviously some amazingly helpful people on these forums. Thank you again! I'll try not to abuse the privilege of getting help and guidance from you.
  10. Schmiegel


    Thank you Magnus, that's a complicated Complication! But amazing! I'm betting you could teach the PhD course work in GM'ing. I like that one a lot, but as a novice GM myself, it feels a little out of my range to attempt something like that, at this point.. Do you have any quick and easy example Complications that a new GM could use as kind of a template, that have worked for you?
  11. Schmiegel

    Starting gear for new character

    Very helpful information, thanks guys!
  12. When creating a new character using the core rulebook, the only starting gear I have found is associated with the specific school the character selects (Starting Outfit). Apparently that is the "default" for a new character. It wouldn't be shocking if the players in my game ask about additional gear. What is the proper answer to that question? Is it an open-ended, arbitrary thing, or do most GMs basically follow the same procedure? (And stay with just the default.) Thank you!
  13. Schmiegel


    I'm wondering if someone would be willing to post an example of a Complication that you thought worked particularly well, along with its context. I get the idea behind them, but it would be quite helpful to see how people bring them in to a story. Thanks!
  14. That would obviously be the hope. If it is "really super fantastic", I'll be glad to pay the $100. If not, that will be a disappointment.... ??