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The Grand Falloon

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  1. My players were sneaking in to a corporate data center to do some slicing. Ziplining onto the roof, they managed to draw the suspicion of a Trandoshan guard, "John," who they ambushed and knocked unconscious. They felt kinda bad about all the trouble he was going to get into, just doing his job, but continued toward the data servers, which were massive cylinders suspended over an ice volcano (because Star Wars!). While slicing the systems, they accessed John's files, improved his quarterly performance reviews, and gave him a raise. Then, as they finished raiding the server for the data they needed, the alarms lit up. they ran for the elevator, only to see that it was coming down the shaft towards them. The Would-Be-Jedi readied a stun grenade and hurled it just as the door opened. Success, lots of advantage, and a Despair. John stepped out of the elevator ahead of the rest of the security guards, the grenade smacked him right in the head, bounced off, and detonated in the elevator. John stumbled forward, tumbling off the catwalk and into the... ice lava? I guess ice lava. The group collectively threw their hands up, crying, "NOOOO! JOHNNYYY!"
  2. This is all I need to know about Korean warfare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQhSXA3AKh4
  3. I'm tempted to suggest that you handle this Out Of Character, but I feel like that loses a bit of impact. They always say, "show, don't tell," so show them that you're playing hardball, don't tell them. That all said, a TPK sucks for everyone. I agree with the folks here who have suggested killing a single character. If the players insist on fighting, let the dice fall where they may. If some one gets that 150 crit and beefs it, so be it, but otherwise, they're gonna get captured. Except for the last one standing. When only one (maybe two) PC remains, take a breath. The Stormtroopers back off a little, not firing, but their weapons fixed on the character. Let that character make an "end of encounter" roll to recover a bit of strain, and then drop the hammer. "You feel it before you see it. A sense of approaching dread and fear. You can even feel it in the soldiers around you as they part, making way for an imposing figure, dressed in black robes. He stands before you a moment, then a gleaming red lightsaber ignites in his hand." Run this duel by the books, but don't pull any punches. Hopefully the PC can last a couple rounds, but he's probably a bit wounded and winded, and will hopefully drop. When he does, the Inquisitor runs him through, telling the troops to "bring the rest of this rabble for questioning." Let some of the other characters be semi-conscious, so they can look into their dying friend's eyes just before a bag is thrown over their heads and they get carted off for a month or two of brutal interrogation. And if you want to twist the knife, give them an interrogation montage. Basically they drift in and out of consciousness as they're subjected to a variety of drugs and pain. Don't get graphic, let their imagination do the work as they go through a blur of floating interrogation droids, Imperial officers screaming in their faces, an Inquisitor attempting to probe their minds and so on. Intersperse that with memories of the friend that died, their home planets, and maybe even some visions of the future. Basically, they shouldn't be able to distinguish reality very well. While you're at it, have them all make a few Discipline or Cool rolls to avoid giving up information (I assume they're part of a rebel cell or have a mentor or something they would be trying to protect). Each Failure would be a piece of information that the Imperials would get. Be vague. The characters will probably know they revealed something, but not how much, or what the other characters revealed. Threat will give them Wounds later, while Despair will give them Critical Injuries. Then they wake up. They have no idea how long it's been (weeks or months probably), but the torture is over for the time being, and now they're just maximum security prisoners. Each day their food is delivered by another prisoner (new PC!) who slowly reveals that he has a plan to escape. He's heard the new guys are special, and he could use someone with their talents... Oh yeah, and if they bootched those interrogation rolls, have their old hideout be blasted to smithereens when they get back. If they only failed a couple of rolls, maybe they can get their friends to safety before the Empire shows up.
  4. I had the same inspiration a while ago! Mine came when I realized that a Dwarven nation would probably be the equivalent of the Roman Republic. They're stubborn. Numerous times through history, a Roman army would suffer a crushing defeat, to the point where any sensible leader would sue for peace, and probably end up as a vassal state that survives, but is forgotten by history. The Romans were just too stubborn, and would throw more and more soldiers at the enemy. Pyrrhus of Epirus was considered one of the greatest military leaders of the day, and after winning several victories against the Romans, famously said, "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined." They are orderly. While I hate the D&D alignment system, Dwarves are Lawful as heck. This means that Dwarven societies and armies are all about getting the job done. They are tough and hardy. One of the innovations of the Roman Legions was figuring out the essentials for an individual soldier, packing it up, and training each soldier to march for days on end carrying that. For a Dwarf, that's a casual picnic. Dwarves are not known for their speed, but they can cover a lot of distance without stopping. They're the best craftsmen. Elves make fine swords and armor, of course, but Dwarves make excellent swords, armor, shields, wagons, mills, siege weapons, and stone walls. Not only does this ensure that they're well equipped, it also means... They're rich. They have the best stuff, which means people will want to buy it. Oh yeah, they also mine gold and silver, so that helps. They're unassailable. There's no way you're taking a Dwarven mountain fortress by force of arms. It's just not happening. Their primary weakness would be lack of food. Sure, they might be able to cultivate mushrooms or whatever in their mountain strongholds, but they're going to need to trade heavily with the Humans and Halflings tending the fields in the valleys below. Or, you know, just claim dominion over them. Imagine you're a human land baron, quarreling with your neighbors. Along comes a well-dressed Dwarven envoy. You've been trading with these Dwarves a bit. They're stuffy, proud, and maybe even a bit greedy, but they're true to their word and their crafts are top-notch. This envoy suggests a permanent arrangement. Swear fealty to the Dwarven High King (or Senate, or whatever), and make an annual tribute of the crops your peasants produce. That might hurt your pride a little, but in return, you'll be protected and now be part of the Dwarven Kingdom. The Dwarven Legions now protect your land, and your own soldiers are clad in Dwarven mail. Your peasants will work the land with Dwarf-steel tools, not that pig iron your smiths produce. You can still manage your lands pretty much unhindered, so long as the crops come in. And if you want to expand your territory and call yourself "King," they might even assist you with that (as long as you don't start getting too big for your britches). And if you don't take that deal, well, there are other barons who will...
  5. Great work! I hit "reload" at least a dozen times, and almost every result gave a character that needed just a bit of thought to make it interesting and believable. Except maybe Matsu Soh, the Bayushi Manipulator with far too much interest in spiritual matters. I mean, it could work, but mostly I felt like it was made by a player desperate to be unique, and just came out weird.
  6. This. "Incapacitated" and "Unconscious" are bad names for the conditions. I would have named them something more like "Shaken" and "Incapacitated" (to steal from Savage Worlds). "Incapacitated" implies that you're done. You're defeated. You can't do jack squat without a sudden heroic surge of energy. According to RAW, that's not the case at all. You're still in the fight, you're just in a very bad position. However, if you can manage a few seconds to take a breather, you're right back in there, no problem. So, shaken. Now, when you take that next hit while Shaken, now you're in trouble. Sure, Unconscious works, I guess, but it's so... undramatic. Besides, you can spend a Void point to throw off the condition. Kinda silly to be knocked out, then suddenly wake up and fight. To me, this works better as Incapacitated. You fought to exhaustion, and then took a nasty slice across the midsection. You're alive, but collapse to your knees. Now you're probably screwed, though if you're just barely over your Endurance, and have a Void Point, you might be able to lure in an overconfident enemy (good luck with that). Even if you're definitely out of the fight, you get to go out like a badass. Deliver your death poem, make a threat, or compliment your enemy before he takes your head. These are all much cooler than being run through while you lie "Unconscious."
  7. Warning: this is largely just some rambling thoughts about a very minor character. It doesn't really have much of a point. When we played the Beginner Game, our group took a liking to the NPC, Kitsu Tsubasa. Partly because one of the players was playing the Lion PC, so naturally wanted to help out his Clanmate. Unfortunately, things got a little out of hand during a duel, and our Phoenix Shugenja ended up blasting Tsubasa with a bit more fire than she intended. We had a bit of confusion about the exact results of that critical strike, as the Core Book hadn't released yet, the Beginner Box had very mild Crit results, and the Beta rules changed a few times. We eventually decided he basically got the Prince Zuko treatment, and now has a badly burned face. Well, this guy is now suddenly more interesting. Our Phoenix now has a nemesis who is mostly a decent fellow, so I need to flesh him out a bit. And every bit of thought I put into him makes his story seem more and more strange. First things first: it's stated that Tsubasa has failed his gempukku several times, and if he fails again, he'll have to commit seppuku. What what WHAT? I know the Lion are harsh, but the more I think about it, the more it blows my mind. If he hasn't passed his gempukku, Tsubasa is technically a child, right? He's not even allowed to wear the Daishō, so he sure as heck can't be ordered to kill himself with it. Second, if he were a Bushi, I could understand a little better. But no, he's a Kitsu Medium, the rarest form of Shugenja in the Empire. Even if he's a bit of a screw-up, you don't waste these guys. Third, how the heck did he get sent to the Topaz Championship if he's failed multiple times already? The way I figure, someone has it in for this poor kid, but I don't know who or why. Maybe his father believes his wife had an affair, and that Tsubasa is an illegitimate child? We're getting into PC levels of backstory now, and I almost want to play him as one (not that I ever get to be a player). So we have a black sheep Lion who's been kicked around his whole life, who can speak to ancestors, and has a messed up face. You know who would love to take this guy in? The Yogo. He would hate the idea at first (what Lion wouldn't?), but marrying this guy into the Yogo would be a sweet deal for both parties. As soon as he puts on the mask, people stop looking at his face. As a Kitsu, he has unique insight into ancestral magic, so he would be put to work straightaway researching ways to mitigate the Yogo curse. He'll likely get much more respect as a Scorpion than he ever did as a Lion. And let's face it, this is not the guy that you're going to use when you need some Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.
  8. This is why I'm making cards. Otherwise we'll have 6 people at a table fighting over the Core Book every round of combat.
  9. This is excellent! I will be directing my players to your articles. Also, what's the current status of the Hiruma School? I got the Core Book on release day, and I hadn't heard about this errata. Anyone wanna break it down for me?
  10. These are fantastic! I'm working on some of my own and I know how hard it is to make these things both legible and pleasing to the eye. Mine are much larger, with some basic stance and opportunity information, and not very artistic. I've tried to make them LCG-sized, and they just become too cramped. I will be including cards for any Techniques my players take, because they're gonna need them for reference. I'll try to remember to post up my finished results (and folks are welcome to the files themselves). I have to ask, what programs are you using to put these together? At what resolution are you working? And is there any chance you'd be willing to share the files for others to print up? Edit: Also, how are you printing to plastic? Is it a print-on-demand service, or do you just have sweet printers at your disposal?
  11. I like this! I don't have any real comments on the school adjustments, but they seem well-considered. Regarding dueling: I like what you've done with Predict, probably because it's almost the exact same thing I've done. My only sticking point is the TN and opportunity cost. If you're facing an opponent of Vigilance 3, what was originally a free, automatic action suddenly becomes pretty difficult. If you're only keeping three dice, locking him out of a second ring becomes almost impossible. I think the basic effect should be pretty easy to achieve (mine is TN 1), and the second ring should be fairly difficult, but not impossible. Perhaps use Vigilance for the number of Opportunity to lock the second ring, as you have written, but keep the action at TN 1 or 2, so that Vigilance isn't doubly strong. Center is very interesting. I really want to get my nerds together and play test this. Prepare... Honestly, I don't like it. Characters without an Iaijutsu technique were already at a disadvantage, having to rely on Water to draw and strike in a single turn, and now they might get slammed with extra strife just for drawing? Ouch! The way I look at it, every samurai practices Iaijutsu, most of them just haven't mastered it. A character with a lousy Water ring is just plain bad at it (he can draw and Strike, but he ain't hitting jack squat). A character with a decent one is competent, but predictable (he can hit things). A character with an Iaijutsu technique understands it completely and can draw from any stance with no thought. Overall, this is excellent stuff!
  12. Actually, it might! Duels don't happen in a vaccuum, so it's very possible that one duelist starts with a fair bit of strife. If you Predict in Fire stance and roll enough Opportunity, you can hit him with 2 Strife, and have a decent chance of inflicting 4 more. If he bid on initiative at all, he's in trouble... Okay, clarifications and tweaks to my initial post. the Focus "Round" is basically there to introduce Predict and Center actions to my players, but I think I like having it there anyway. It doesn't actually count as a round, so you don't bid for initiative, and any Predict actions only count for the next round. In an Iaijutsu duel only, any attacks made in round 1 can't be defended. So duels to First Blood are probably solved right here. All other rules are essentially the same as in a standard duel, with the addition of Predict being a rolled action. I think the TN should be 1, otherwise it becomes too hard to hit and becomes even worse than the RAW. It's late and I've had some brandy, so I have no idea if this is good.
  13. The way it played out, that's what it was, and that's why it was such a drag. These were two samurai on patrol, so they were wearing armor, which meant that trying to win through fatigue was a slog. The only thing that saved it was the Lion hitting his composure, getting some broken ribs, and grudgingly admitting defeat. It was repetitive and boring. The thing is, I really like what they tried to do with Predict. A four-Strife hit is nasty in a duel, but it is much too easy to avoid. As you've pointed out, a duelist in Fire stance can swing wildly, not even bothering to keep successes (unless, of course, you make a really good roll), and just use Opportunity to inflict a much more reliable 2 Strife per round. You say the solution is not to use Predict, I say the solution is to tweak it, because I want it to be a valid strategy. Some folks seem to think that an Iaijutsu duel should always be "sudden draw and someone is dead." I don't quite agree, but I do think it should be a valid strategy, and that's pretty clearly what Predict and Center were intended to simulate. Basically, I'm tackling two separate but related problems here. I really think making Predict a rolled action might fix it completely, because there's so much you can do with Opportunity. That's my blanket "Fix RAW dueling." Of course, it doesn't fix the trouble at my table. I can't say they're not "gamers," because they enjoy games as much as anyone, but most of them don't enjoy poring over the rules, finding the tricks and the cracks in the system. Heck, out of my five players, maybe two have read most of the rulebook (and they're both playing shugenja instead of bushi, go figure). Honestly, the reason I disappeared from my own thread here is because I was seriously considering just digging up my old Savage Worlds conversion of L5R, because I don't know if they're gonna grok all the weird little nuances of the elemental stances, opportunities, and why they might willingly fail a check. Sooner or later, someone is going to get into a duel and die, and they player won't even understand what they did wrong. Even a duel to First Blood turns deadly really fast if nobody has managed a lucky roll by turn 4. So, I think my original post might work okay for a duel to First Blood. Needs some tweaks, obviously, but at the end of three rounds, someone is probably taking a less-than-lethal strike. But then, of course, with only one round of preparation, Predict is not going to Strife them out anyway, so what's the point? Arggh... my head hurts.
  14. Before diving in, I think the RAW Dueling rules are pretty good. I wouldn't tweak much about them myself. However, my group is never going to understand them. It's just not gonna happen. Out of 5 players, we have one, maybe two players with a sharp enough understanding of game mechanics to understand why a katana is much better than a tetsubo for a Finishing Blow. When our Hida Defender threw down with the leader of a Lion patrol, he was lucky, and I was generous. Despite some broken ribs, the Lion was not Bleeding, and had I allowed the duel to continue, he would have struck a Finishing Blow the next round. However, my group's eyes were beginning to glaze over, so I called it there. Obviously, the full Dueling rules aren't for us. At least not most of us, not yet. One-roll duels, on the other hand, are just a bit too swingy. I hate to have Life and Death come down to a single die roll. Also, near as I can tell, the One-Roll Duels don't account for the Iaijutsu techniques, which is just... boooo! With that in mind, I've been trying to break down a Duel into three steps, hopefully keeping them simple enough. I think I've got a decent framework, but it will need some tweaking to get the numbers to work. Challenge: This is an Initiative roll, pretty much standard. TN 1 Meditation. Focus: This is basically an initial Staredown. You can't attack yet, but you can Center or Predict. Predict is now a rolled action (Not sure what the TN should be. 1? 2? Vigilance?), and 2 Opp can be spent to predict an extra stance. This also allows you to spend Opps on the roll, whether successful or not. Characters without an Iaijutsu technique should probably draw their sword, and unless they take a Water stance, won't be able to take another action (assuming it's an Iaijutsu duel). Strike: You may act as usual at this phase, and the target cannot defend against any attacks. So as long as you hit, you inflict a Critical Strike. So them's the basics. In a duel to First Blood, things will probably be over after the first strike. After that, I think it should come down to a skirmish, probably keeping the rules for Final Blow and bidding Strife to increase initiative. There are a lot of little details I haven’t worked out, but overall, what do you think? I realize that basically what I’m doing is removing options, but those options were causing confusion and slowing the game down.
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