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MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving

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Everything posted by MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving

  1. Far-and-away, the Minor Clan schools are what I want to see most. To me, the Hare feel like the quintessential Minor Clan, so I'd love to see them. The Dragonfly have also always been a personal favorite. And it stinks to not have schools for the Centipede and Wasp, especially for folks who want to use the AEG timeline. Ideally the Fox too, though at least you can sort of make that work with the spirit school. After the Minor Clans, my next pick is ronin. I'd love a ronin shugenja school, and mechanics for the otokodate would be great (probably titles). The Phoenix Tejina might be my favorite great clan school, but I'm not sure how to do them anymore without stepping on the Asahina's toes. And as said, Tensai and Ishiken should get mechanics somehow. For me personally, I'd rather see the Unicorn War Dogs get some mechanics (maybe just a title) than the Beastmasters. I'm okay without Horiuchi.
  2. The number one thing I want is mechanics for ronin groups. That probably means titles, but it could be kata. It would be nice to have a ronin shugenja school. Just in general, but also so that I can run the Order of Isashi or other ronin shugenja groups. I'd love to see rules for playing gaijin (schools and how to do family/clan bonuses).
  3. Good to know! I missed that somehow. Where is that explained?
  4. I ran one mass battle. It's the only conflict type my table (myself included) doesn't like. You can read more about my thoughts on it here. To answer your specific questions though: I know commanders get to choose their leaders, but I don't think the intent is that they can choose as many as they want. The GM should probably put a cap on it. I like that there isn't a set number though for how many troops each leader should be leading, since it means if you have three characters you want to be leaders, you can make it work regardless of how many troops there are. I don't love Cut Off the Head either. It should be clearer when you can do this. For my game, what's more of an issue is that the enemy leader might be an interesting NPC, and this is kind of a lame way for them to go out. I'd rather it be that this objective sets up a Skirmish. Additionally, I still don't fully understand when this objective is achieved. What does "When the army accrues momentum points equal to or exceeding the difficulty value to corner the leader" mean? I think this comment indirectly answers my thoughts on your third question too. A little background: I ran a battle where the PCs were leading ronin and ashigaru to defend Nanashi Mura against a company of Lion soldiers. They knew the opposing commander, and actually kind of liked her. She was filling in for a chui that one of the players had killed in a duel (though only winning because another player had secretly poisoned her blade). I broke Nanashi Mura up into different districts, some with terrain qualities. My thought was this should lead to more interesting, tactical choices. The actual gameplay felt pretty stale. For reasons discussed above, Cut Off the Head isn't great. It especially wasn't good for us because it seemed like a really unfun way for the NPC to go out. The rules for occupying terrain aren't great, which in turn makes Capture the Position wonky. The Reinforce action lets you claim the terrain/fortifications, but it also says this: "If you choose an unoccupied fortification or piece of terrain this way, you are considered to be occupying it until you narratively leave it or perform an action other than Challenge or Reinforce." Because of that, it was pretty much ignored in our battle. The bonus just isn't worth not being able to Assault or Rally. Consider too that since only one cohort can occupy each terrain, it just means your opponent is targeting another cohort. Which you share pools of strength and discipline with... We tried a Draw Them In, to mix things up, but it seems pretty situational where this would be good. For the most part, if you're using Reinforce to accomplish this, the bonus you're getting is less than if you'd just been Assaulting the whole time. Just in general, Reinforce feels pretty useless. There are situations where you might want to, especially with a specialized army, but the vast majority of the time, it seems better to just Assault or Rally someone who can Assault. The Challenge mechanics felt awkward for our game. The players had already sabotaged two duels and were representing what seemed like the less honorable side. But if I took it off the table, there are even fewer options for what action to take. I think I ended up just upping the TN for the Command check, but it still felt off. My general feeling is this: If you have high command/tactics, always Assault. If you have don't, always Rally someone who can. Specialized armies or specific situations might make another action good, but that usually just means you're going to be always choosing that action instead. There doesn't seem to be much round-to-round choice to make, which doesn't make for a fun system, in my opinion. I tried to play the rules more-or-less as written for the first few sessions, after which I told the players I'd be making some house rules to better suit our playstyle. I asked them if there was anything in particular that they thought I should be tweaking, and the only response was to change the mass battle rules.
  5. This seems really strong to me, as written. What if instead of just straight up decreasing the TN, it could only mitigate bonuses? I feel like this makes it closer to Water (which doesn't add damage exactly, it just mitigates resistance).
  6. Even if you don't count Artisan's Appraisal (which I think you should), they can still start with a rank 3 technique and a rank 2 technique, which no other school gets. 1. Sure. I'm not against "branching out," but all of these ways increase power or versatility when compared to other schools. It just seems like something to address if you're concerned about balance. 2. If you feel that way, sure, but without knowing how you "fix" them, I can only compare this school to other schools as they're written. 3. I'm actually not against invocations being part of the curriculum.
  7. I recognize these forums are pretty dead, but I'm trying to avoid doing actual work right now. Does anyone feel like any of the clans are especially strong or weak? Here are some of my thoughts after a few games. Crab Clan Ability: I'm not sure yet how to best use this. I think you don't want to overuse it, for risk of being the target of a Raid. It probably requires more skill than some other clan abilities to use most wisely. Even with some misplay though, I think it's still pretty strong. Probably one of the strongest ones. Extra Token: I'd argue this is the worst extra token in the game. In terms of strength, it's equal to what Scorpion, Dragon, and Phoenix are getting, but there are the most restrictions on which provinces it helps you in. It's still useful; I just think it's less useful than other clan's extra pieces. Territory Cards: As a pair, I think the Crab territory cards are the weakest. Feats of Engineering (the harbor) is one of the worst in the game. Sure, there are niche circumstances where it could be great, but you only have 4 tokens that can capitalize on it, you might not have a province you want it in, and it has the potential to help your opponent too. Promotion (swap out a combat token in your hand for a discarded army, navy, or shinobi token) is really solid, especially since you have an extra navy, but I don't think it makes up for Feats of Engineering. That said, you're in the best place to go for the Shadowlands territory cards, which obviously are amazing. Also, you're in maybe the best position to go for the unaligned territory cards, and Bountiful Harvest (place two control tokens face up) is especially good for Crab. Geography: There's a lot to consider for the Crab, but overall, I think the geography is good. Access to Shadowlands is amazing. Access to the Unaligned lands is good (no one is automatically starting there, if they do they don't get a defense bonus, and they're worth a lot of honor). Having to mostly only defend from the north is good. Being far away from the hotly contested northern provinces is probably good. I think having coast is bad (though you only have the one border). Having to control one more territory to get your territory card isn't great. Secret Objective: Your clan card is bad, but you have a better chance at Way of the Sail. Kind of a wash? Overall: Average. I can easily imagine a game where Crab got a solid hold on the south that was hard to take back, but as long as people don't forget about them, I think they're middle of the road. Crane Clan Ability: I'd say the best in the game. It's almost like having +1 in all resolutions where you're the attacker. That comes up so much, and it doesn't require the level of skill some other clan abilities require. Extra Token: Also maybe the best in the game? It's my favorite anyway. And it's especially useful for the Crane, who have more directions to worry about. Territory Cards: Diplomatic Mission (instant Peace) is super good. It means you could have three Peace tokens over the course of the game! Code of Honor is awful. Geography: This is their big weakness, I think. I consider Coast to be bad. You can't proactively attack across it, so it's always open to your enemies. Plus you're central, which means a lot of people can attack you. You could reasonably find yourself in a position where all of your provinces are vulnerable. I think you really have to use those Peace tokens wisely. Secret Objective: Way of the Sail should be easier for you than most, so I'd consider this a slight bump. Overall: Strong. I'd say strongest in the game. They're probably weaker the more players are in the game though, since you're in a position to be easily ganged up on. Dragon Clan Ability: Possibly the weakest in the game. If you use the ability to keep your best tokens, you're setting yourself up for a weak last round, which is devastating. Maybe you prevent yourself from getting too many Blessings at once, or you manage to get a Navy or Shinobi token you really wanted, but I think it's MUCH harder to leverage this ability than the other clan abilities. Extra Token: Even though it's the same as the Phoenix, it's a little better for Dragon, since they can more easily prevent getting too many Blessings in one round. Still, I'd call this average strength. Territory Cards: Strength of Purpose (place two control tokens face up) is pretty average. I think Sacred Ground (the Shrine) is better. It might be the best defense against the Phoenix going after your capital. Geography: Although I really like being against the edge of the board, so you have fewer fronts to worry about, you're the number one target for a Phoenix player looking to use their ability on a capital. If you can shore up that border, I think you're in a good spot. Secret Objective: Average. Overall: Weak. I think arguably the weakest in the game. Better if there's no Phoenix player. Lion Clan Ability: Full disclosure, I actually haven't seen the Lion in play yet. This is all conjecture. My initial read is that this ability is down there with the Dragon in terms of strength. I think it looks good at first, because you can defend with a Bluff instead of an Army/Navy/Shinobi 1, but if you do that, you're leaving a weak unit in your hand for the next round. This is good in the last round, but I think the better use is actually for the opposite purpose, saving strong tokens you want to use for the following round. You can set up a better hand for the next round without having to make the same sacrifice other clans do. Still, you're probably only doing that once or twice a game. Extra Token: This is another contender for best token. Crab, Dragon, Phoenix, and Scorpion have a piece that adds three strength. Yours adds six. That's super good. Territory Cards: Bushido (printed province honor becomes 4) seems weak. You're making something a target. Honorable Fight (Can't Diplomacy) could be okay, but it needs to be played wisely. It seems worse than Sacred Ground. Overall, I'd call this one of the weaker pairs. Geography: Maybe the worst? Similar to the Crane, you could easily find yourself with all provinces vulnerable. It's too many fronts to manage well. A great extra token doesn't make up for that, in my opinion. Secret Objective: At least your clan object card is better than average. Overall: Weak, but mostly from bad geography. In a 2-player game, I bet they're waaaay better. Phoenix Clan Ability: It's a good bonus with very limited use. It's effectively double the bonus the Crane get but only comes up 25% as frequently, so I'd call it roughly half as good. Obviously, you can manage that by specifically going after capitals, and you probably should, Dragon being the most obvious first choice. I think more than any other clan ability, this dictates which provinces/territories you go after. As long as you resist the temptation to go after capitals just because they're capitals, I think it's a fairly straightforward ability, compared to most other clans. Extra Token: Decent, but there is some risk in getting too many blessings in your hand. Territory Cards: Aid of the Kami (+2 defense and 1 honor in a province) is okay. Bless the Lands (take control of a Scorched province) seems really good. Combined, I'd say this is an above average pair of territory cards. Geography: The three provinces themselves aren't great. They have below average combined honor, and as I said before, I think the coast is a weak border. You also don't have many options for where to place armies. That said, if you can grab a couple key provinces, I think your position can turn around really quickly. The Dragon capital might prevent your neighbor from getting a territory card, plus it's easier to defend. Taking the Lion territory to your south closes three borders to your provinces and opens up two capitals to consider. Secret Objective: Arguably the best? A high honor clan objective with good access for Way of the Sail. Overall: Average. Maybe low end of average. Mostly I just feel like there are fewer good options when compared to other clans. Scorpion Clan Ability: This is the other clan I haven't actually seen in play yet, so this is also conjecture. At the risk of oversimplifying, I think this game has two major commodities - military strength and information. Most clans get some situational bonus to the first. Scorpion get the second. The information is only as good as your ability to leverage it though, so I find it really hard to gauge how good this is. Extra Token: I'm not sure if this is low tier or middle tier. So far, I haven't found the shinobi ability to attack any province to be that strong. Normally I don't want to acquire new territories that aren't adjacent to my other ones anyway. If it's to place a Raid somewhere else, then the extra strength on the shinobi is wasted. It also can't be used to close off a border like army tokens can. It's still good. You might be able to solo a capital you're not next to. You can mess with the lead player, even if you're not next to them. It could get you a toehold in the Mantis Isles. I just don't think it's as good as some of the other clan's extra tokens. Territory Cards: Spy Network (look at another player's hand. They can't bluff this turn) seems good, as long as you can remember what you saw. Probably amazing in a 2-player game, since you know what all tokens on the board can be. Pairs well with the clan ability. Foment Rebellion (remove a Peace token, buff the province twice if it was yours) has a lot of uses. Maybe you remove a Peace on a territory you don't even want, just so that other players are spending tokens fighting over it again. Maybe above average cards overall? Geography: Not great, for the same reasons as Lion. I don't think it's quite as bad though. You're less likely to have to worry about Phoenix and Dragon, and instead border Crab, who are more likely to be playing a defensive game. Also, your only border with the Crane is your capital, so they're fighting an uphill battle to invade you. Secret Objective: Above average clan objective and a slight bonus towards achieving Webs of Influence (control 1 territory in 7 provinces). Nothing huge. Overall: Average, maybe a little low? Unicorn Clan Ability: High end of average? I think it's a little tricky to use well, Extra Token: Raid is decently strong; it's just not my playstyle. I never want to use it on my own provinces, because I don't want to sacrifice the province honor. And using it on an opponent blocks a route of attack and doesn't stop them from getting the territory bonus. I always find a use, and I like that it resolves before Diplomacy. Territory Cards: I'd say these are the best clan territory cards. Cultural Exchange is probably my favorite clan territory card in the game (swapping provinces), and Reinforcements (swapping out control tokens from your hand for discard army ones) is really good too. Geography: This is exactly the kind of board space I like. Options for who to fight, but I also have an edge of the board I don't have to worry about. Secret Objective: Average. Overall: Strong. And my personal favorite. Here's how I'd rank them (definitely subject to change): 1. Crane 2. Unicorn 3. Crab 4. Phoenix 5. Scorpion 6. Lion 7. Dragon
  8. I know this is late, but here are your answers, as best I know them: 1. You can place the bluff token however you want. It's just to throw the enemy, making them think you're defending when you're not or blocking off a potential attack route. Unless you're Lion, it doesn't contribute anything in resolution. 2. Yes. 3. Whoever has the higher attack value wins and takes the province. In a tie, neither attacker takes the province (unless one of them is Crane).
  9. The Kakita Artisans are awesome! I'm glad someone homebrewed these. And personally, I think having a magical nature to their art is fine. The Shikigami ritual seems heavily based on the final ability of the 4e Kakita Master Artisan advanced school, so I think there's some precedent for it. I'm going to break how I see it into starting skills/techniques, curriculum, and school abilities. Starting skills/techniques I can't find Brilliant Performance. What is it from? Most other (non-Shugenja) schools are looking at two starting techniques, at most one of which would be rank 2. With this school you could start with three techniques, all of which could be rank 2 (if I'm interpreting the icon on Brilliant Performance correctly). Probably too strong? The school should probably only have 7 options for starting school skills. I don't think any other schools in the game have 8. I'm not sure if honor 55 is justified. I get that they're honorable, but there are so few schools that start with 55 honor. I'd be hesitant to pair it with so many other strong aspects of the school. Curriculum Your curriculum includes: Techniques outside of those normally available to the school (invocations). Techniques more than one rank earlier than usual (To Offer Ease). Access to multiple technique groups in the same rank. I know other schools do 1 and 2. I can't find an example of 3. I think they all make the curriculum a little stronger, and I'm not seeing anything to balance this out. Does Sensational Distraction need the icon? It's rank 1, yeah? Also, Government is in rank 3, but so is the Scholar skill group. School abilities The first part of this ability seems very reasonable, but I'm struggling to gauge the strength of the second part. I think it depends on how easily the GM lets you concoct a reason to roll Perform or Artisan and how many scenes your GM puts into the same day. 99% of the time, there's no real penalty for acquiring the Exhausted condition in the last scene of the day. I think I'd need to playtest this before I could tell how strong it is. I'm struggling to understand the intent of how this works. Is this granting the player a new kind of action they can take (in which case, what is the default effect, assuming a success? How would it cause strife?) or is this a way to modify an existing action the character can already take (in which case, it probably shouldn't change the TN, unless to make it higher)? My gut says 1. you shouldn't get to choose how another character Unmasks, and 2. an ability shouldn't be able to force (or pressure) the expenditure of more than 1 Void point. Obviously this is all just personal preference, but I think it's consistent with the design of the game. Anyhow, cool class. I know my comments were mostly critical, but I do really dig the idea. Let us know if you get a chance to playtest it!
  10. Yeah, I'm with you. As written, it's not my cup of tea either. But if a player was really into it, I'd work with them to figure something out.
  11. The good news is that it's a mechanic a player chooses to bring to their character. A player can pretty easily avoid using them if they don't think it's fun. Admittedly these abilities are very solid, but you can also only call upon them, at most, 5 times per session total. So it's not quite a permanent skilled assist... This is a great idea! A back-to-back fighting kata seems more fun and flavorful, and it could be something that contributes to ranking up your school. I also think the current advantages could overlap with a lot of the low rank bond abilities. If it's something that removes strife, like Lover, it could just be a passion. If it's a bonus in a specific situation, maybe it's a distinction (Ally and Karmic Tie especially could work).
  12. I have to think the intent is that you start fresh at each rank, just like when tallying xp within a school rank. So 4 xp to go from rank 1 to rank 2. Conceptually, I think I'd use this justification: a role-playing investment (building up connections) leads to a role-playing advantage (potentially opening doors, or whatever else makes sense), and a mechanical investment (experience points) leads to a mechanical advantage (the bonds abilities). I'm not sure yet if I actually buy that. Here's my breakdown of what I think of the abilities: Rank 1 (3xp): Family, Comrade, and Lover are worth about 1 strife per session at rank 1. That seems like a weak use of 3xp. At rank 5, it's probably much harder for you to ever become Composed, but this alone is pretty far from justifying 31xp. Rival is kind of tricky. At rank 1, it actually seems like a really solid option. Maybe even worth 3xp? Since you have to take your Bond in strife, even if you're rerolling fewer die, I think there's a point where this actually gets weaker as you rank up. How often do you need to reroll 5 die in a situation where you can afford to take 5 additional strife? Enemy is too hard to gauge. It depends so much on how often your enemy is behind things (and how important the first roll of the scene is). Rank 2 (4xp, 7xp total): This seems decent. For the cost of rank 2 in a skill, it's kind of like you have a floating extra rank in a skill that your Bond has, when you really need it. I think this rank is where Bonds seem the most playable to me. It's probably a little weak but good enough that I can imagine someone choosing this. And I love that it's called “Like you always say…” That's fun. Rank 3 (6xp, 13xp total): This is the ability that seems nuts to me. As written, eventually you can be playing an NPC for the whole session, every session! Or essentially just switching out between two characters, based on what you need for a scene? If it's an Enemy, how does this make sense? I don't like this kind of game design. I can't imagine many GMs just allowing this as written, which means it's setting up extra work for the GM to figure out how to make it work. And someone has to keep finding reasons why the PC leaves for a scene. If a GM wants to offer this option to players occasionally, cool. I don't think it's the kind of thing that should be a built-in mechanic with an xp cost. Same for if it's flashbacks between PCs (who are making other players wait). Rank 4 (8xp, 21xp total): I agree that this feels pretty "gamey," but I think it's much less of a problem. I'd have to do some serious reflection on how strong to make the bonded character, but you'd have to do that anyway for rank 3. I don't love it, but if this was the only problem, I'd get over it. Rank 5 (10xp, 31xp total): I love that the capstone ability is about entwined fates. The idea of the mechanic is pretty fun, but I'm not sure it quite works. If it's two PCs, this could basically be 5 extra Void points each per session. That's good, but I for sure don't think it's worth 31xp that don't go towards ranking up. My initial thought is that I'd just make Bonds a 3 rank system. Rank 1: As is. Rank 2: As is, except it only applies to 3 skills of your choice. Rank 3: As rank 5, and you can use it, even if your bonded character isn't in the scene. Each rank costs 3xp.
  13. Thanks for the heads up! I've been waiting for this! I flipped through it quickly in the store, but I'm eager to really dig in. See if these bonds are as bad as Avatar says.
  14. I'm sure it largely depends on how well books sell. If they're still selling strong after 10, I don't know why they'd stop. There's no shortage of topics to cover. 4th edition saw two books on different eras to set your game in.
  15. That's an interesting point, Varsovian. I see how it's a problem theoretically, but I think in practice it won't be an issue. From a mechanics standpoint, I see two reasons to choose a school: You like the school ability You like the access to techniques If you're only spending XP outside of your curriculum, you're not taking advantage of either well. So why did you choose the school? If you're doing it for role-playing reasons (a brash and violent young Shiba, shepherded off to an obscure library somewhere for training as a Loremaster, who still wants to become a great warrior), then you're probably going to do what makes role-playing sense anyway and take some skills to reflect your experience. If it's because your DM made you play something you don't actually want to play, then there's probably a separate issue that needs to be addressed.
  16. My recommendation would be to figure out what kind of game you want to run, and allow whichever options make sense for it. Most games I've run have limited clan choice, usually based around an in-game alliance. In my current game, players had to choose between Dragon, Phoenix, Dragonfly (homebrewed clan/family rules, out-of-clan school), or Ronin. If a player wants to pitch me something else, I'll hear them out, but if I accept it, the onus is on them to keep making sure the concept works for the game. If everyone is pitching me something else, I reconsider what game to run. I did recently play in a murder mystery one-shot. It was sort of like Clue, where even the murderer didn't know they were guilty. We were all from different clans. Unlike a lot of Emerald Magistrate games, we didn't have much bringing us together, other than an interest in solving the mystery. It totally worked and was a really fun game, but I expect it might be challenging for a new GM (even just new to L5R).
  17. Thank you so much for making this. I use it all the time. Seriously. Any time I want to play around with a character idea (which is multiple times a week), I use Paper Blossoms. When I'm prepping for a session and want to make some NPC stats quickly, this makes it so quick and easy. It's just a really fun program. So yeah. Thanks.
  18. Thanks for the breakdown, Magnus! I think the Kuni Warden school might not even be a problem with Lord Shiba's Valor, since it's rank 2. I'm realizing that because I really like homebrew content and clan-specific content, this design issue is probably more of an issue for me than most people. And even then, Avatar is right that the fix is pretty straightforward. For me, I think it's just that the diamond icon doesn't waive clan (or other faction) specific requirements from technique groups.
  19. I'm saying some of us might want to find a solution other than "Don't use titles." (though yes, the Kakita Swordsmith and Spin the Web is the only weird interaction I know of offhand)
  20. A title may be the worst offender right now, but I don't think this is actually a title problem. Imagine it's a problem you're having with a school. How do you fix it then?
  21. For the most part, I like how a school's curriculum can allow for techniques' rank prerequisites to be waived. Waiving other prerequisites still seems odd to me. Examples: A Spy or rank 3 Kakita Swordsmith can take Spin the Web, normally restricted to Kolat (awkward design, but probably not actually problematic). Any random samurai with the Yoriki title can take Lord Hida's Grip or Lord Shiba's Valor (this feels like a much more significant design issue). I'm still waiting for the pdf version before buying Courts of Stone, so there may be more issues in there I haven't seen yet. At any rate, it seems very likely that as more sourcebooks come out, we're going to see more weird interactions like this. How would you rule this? I'm tempted to just limit prerequisite waiving to rank.
  22. If your players want the options, I think it's reasonable to expect them to pay for additional sourcebooks.
  23. Yeah, I'm with you 100%. Seems like a weird choice. But ronin are such a huge part of samurai drama. Maybe it makes sense to give people options to run those sorts of games. Ronin are a big part of my game, so for me personally, this is awesome news. What I'd really like though is some rules for otokodate. Maybe they'll be present as titles?
  24. Awesome! I'd love to hear feedback! One of the things I was least sure of was how quickly you should have to roll to resist Taint in the Shadowlands. Perhaps the TN should increase based on time spent there, instead of by successes. I also considered having the finger of jade be good for 20 points of Taint or having it delay checks in the Shadowlands by a set amount (probably a week).
  25. I think they must have meant momentum points. It seems like a pretty good chunk of momentum points for one action, but if your social objective is to spread a rumor, it makes sense that Whispers of Court would give you a big bump towards accomplishing it. And I'm not sure what else could make sense in this context.
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