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Osmo

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  1. I'm seriously confused why so many people keep saying "get rid of timeline neutrality!" . . . and then pretty much describe what 4e's timeline neutrality looked like. We had a tightly-written history leading up to the new base point for the setting. Pages 13-23 in the core book, right up front. As I understand it, that account ends right at the last major event before the book was completed: the Destroyer War and the Age of Exploration aren't in there only because they hadn't happened yet. But those got added in due course. What lack of timeline neutrality would mean is: the books would not tell you how to do anything not at the current base point. No original Chuda Shugenja school, because they're all gone. No Boar Clan either, because they're gone. No exploration of what the Shadowlands were like before Daigotsu started organizing things. No substantial discussion of how to manage things pre-Return of the Unicorn, or information on what the Hantei family bonus is. Data on NPCs would be focused on currently living people; no stats for important figures of the past, because you're expected to play in the present day and deal with the present situation. Why should we throw out an approach that gives you a broad array of tools for one that gives you a much more limited set? Especially when the setting's history is sufficiently rich that many, many campaigns are set in periods other than the current year? Well, most of us are looking at a product with which we have sufficient familiarity and knowledge to understand and appreciate the scope of the history. Thus, the options that 4E presents are neither overwhelming nor decipherable to us. However, given that FFG is going to be attempting to capture old, but more importantly, new players, presenting newcomers with a timeline-agnostic game with options for creating games throughout the history of L5R, of which we do not know how much will be ported over, could represent a problematic room. Since FFG will likely be counting on the LCG bring players into the RPG, it makes more marketing sense to tie the RPG more heavily to the storyline and current timeframe of the LCG to help players make that transition. I can easily see FFG putting out more supplements that expand the options for running the game throughout the entire "canon" of L5R, but at launch, I am not sure that leading with such a buffet of setting options will lead to a strong, cohesive core product, particularly due to the relative unfamiliarity that the new RPG writers would have with the setting and the mechanics. Again, my reasoning focuses more on making the game more salient to new players rather than keeping the system and setting flush with previous iterations of the RPG.
  2. Like Daramere, I am going to focus on the points argued by the OP and offer my perspectives on them (for whatever they are worth). Additionally, I am going to separate them into the two categories: setting and mechanics. Setting Core Setting - While I would like to see the core setting relatively unchanged, I could go see some reorientation and revisions to the map and world without too much trouble. L5R does require a stable setting in order to function, but as long as it is not unrecognizable, I think that some changes will be fine. Timeline-Neutrality - No, the timeline does not need to be neutral for the core product. I understand what 4E was trying to accomplish, but for a relaunch, the setting needs a tightly-written history leading up to the new base point for the setting. Additionally, while some argue against any time hops, skips, or jumps, I feel that one such move is necessary to allow the space for FFG to create a strong background and context for the new game's action. Mechanics Rather than nitpick every little point, I am going to focus on some of the major changes I wish to see in the new edition. The Engine (aka Roll & Keep) - This part of the system needs to go. Roll & Keep is a rather finicky, unreliable system for resolving conflicts, as results tend to be far too unpredictable throughout the five-rank spread. Keeping it largely out of consistency with the previous system is not a strong move when there is a grand opportunity to rethink and reshape the system. Naturally, this would necessitate changes to every other aspect of the system, but again, I think the time is perfect for such a change, particularly since tabletop design is moving further away from the paradigms seen in L5R. Honor-Style Traits - These traits need to be overhauled to mean something more than a number and more than a bonus. While Status has additional benefits of responsibility within the Empire, the others, more often than not, simply factor into other rolls as bonuses. I would like to see more complex, themed mechanics that played off the notion of honor and glory within the system. Void Points - Chalk this position to personal perspective, but I absolutely despise Void Points. I understand mechanics for surviving death and excessive luck, but it slowly became a resource to power elements throughout the system. Additionally, being able to completely negate damage and hits (in previous editions of the game) artificially lengthened combats to a point where a deathblow could be easily shrugged off. I wouldn't mind seeing the return of Void Points, but I would also hope that they are narrowed and less broadly applicable. Schools - Given current design choices in tabletop games, schools should be a little less linear and restrictive. I know that part of the reason is that schools are a huge part of the aesthetic, but most modern tabletop games do push for more customization and widgets within classes. Court Actions - With so much emphasis place on court and political actions, the system is devoid of any unique resolution mechanics for big dramatic court scenes, which are often resolved in a similar fashion to regular combats. If it is truly important to setting and game, it should be given similar attention to the rules governing dueling, though I would personally enjoy the dueling rules being overhauled as well. Lethality - This point is a sticky wicket across this thread, and my response to L5R's default lethality is more balance. If we are supposed to be immersing ourselves in a world of human samurai drama, the constant threat of imminent death, while very faithful to the source material, does not make for enduring stories. Thus, my argument is that the characters should have some leverage to avoid absolute death while still allowing for a more dangerous world.
  3. MaxKilljoy goes down this line of questioning, but for me, as a Shadowlands/Spider fan, I want to see the entire faction's previous and current composition utterly destroyed and rebuilt in the new version of L5R. This process begins by asking a fundamental question: what role should the SL/SP have in the new storyline, the new setting, and the new games? The emphasis is critical to this question, because I honestly feel that the Shadowlands never really fit into the game outside of its inception. Even the Spider are riddled with massive problems due to an inability to situate them effectively within the story, which ultimately led to much of the pushback within the community. The villain factions, as a whole, need to be gutted and rebuilt, revised and recombined with an eye on consistency and cohesion within the larger context of the games. Given that a reboot and/or jump are fairly plausible roads that FFG will take, then it is the perfect opportunity to ask how the villains, if there are even any villains outside of the Clans, fit into a modern perspective on the game and its world.
  4. Unless FFG already had plans on how they would (re)design L5R... before they bought it. I've been under the impression that AEG came to FFG, not the other way around. If anyone happens to know where the reverse scenario was stated publicly, I'd appreciate a link. Another possibility is that when the merger was proposed, FFG already had an engine in development that could have been a fit for the brand. They could simply be adding the fluff and story to that engine and retooling it a bit to fit with the setting.
  5. There was a while there where it seemed like the cards getting attached to your stronghold were getting a bit out of hand, IMO. Off all game elements, "winning" seems like the one that should be included in the basic foundations of the game. Also from a philosophical standpoint, I'd rather have achieving enlightenment be the "master" win condition, if there is one, with honor, military and dishonor each potentially feeding into that. (There's an older thread with what I think this could look like, but there are many ways to do it.) Nits and picks though. Sounds like we're of similar mind in the generalities of unifying win conditions in some way. I think both responses illustrate the major problem with the CCG reboot. To me, the only way to look at where FFG intends to take the card game is to imagine a simple card template with a spot for art. In other words, we should expect nothing to carry over from the previous game. Certain things will come back, likely in different forms altogether, while others will be jettisoned for a more streamlined engine. But in the end, I don't expect the game to look much at all like it did before, which I completely support, because the game was in desperate need of a mechanical reboot. The story and setting will likely look more akin to AEG's versions, but again, I imagine significant changes across both to unify them more with the vision that FFG intends to implement across the various games for brand. Again, this move is the most reasonable one because having a strong, cohesive brand across all of the products will likely entice buyers to purchase more than one. In order to achieve cohesion, though, FFG is going to have to undertake massive, often terrifying levels of revision to the game. But at the end of the day, if their choices bring L5R back to prominence, we all ultimately win.
  6. The tagline and discussion brings up an interesting point: how does "honor" become the unifying victory condition when the very definition of honor differs between factions? Again, until we know the frame of the game, the line is catchy, but ultimately reveals nothing about what the game should entail. It is interesting that once you take a step back from the CCG, one begins to see how the CCG and its framework (Clans fighting one another) had very little to do with the ongoing story (often an external threat to all of the Clans). While certain arcs did break that mold, I would find it intriguing if the storyline focused far more heavily on the interactions between the factions and less on external threats, particularly in the event of a reduced storyline/player interaction.
  7. Which will or will not continue based up FFG's appraisal of the brand. And if it does, I hope they recall one of 4E's great strengths- you dd not need to know diddly about the Four Winds or the Clan Wars,or the Destroyer War,or whatever to have fun playing it. Knowing the lore could be a way to enrich a given campaign, absolutely-but it wasn't some massive inaccessible hurdle unless you decided it had to be (see: Spoony's godawful experience with the L5R RPG) I assume that FFG will create a new RPG line for L5R. I see no reason in continuing the system in its current state, as FFG likes to be a bit creative in its RPG lines. Regarding the amount of buy-in and lore necessary to enjoy the game, I do agree that 4E did a much better job making the game a little more accessible to newcomers. As someone who runs settings as sandboxes and allows players much more agency in affecting the metaplot, I feel that the game really needs to dial down both any relentless need for understanding setting conventions and any "trap rules," rules meant to punish players for lacking setting knowledge, from the core system.
  8. It really depends a lot on the specific question. If they preview a bunch of characters no one recognizes, for example, then it could still be anything -- reboot, continuation, whatever. Obviously, once the game hits, and Hida Kisada's in the box, or there are cards that reference the events of Onyx happening 1000 years ago, then they've committed. It's a lot harder to be coy once the set comes out, obviously, as people are going to draw conclusions, as noted. But until then, they can certainly manage previews and such to the point where it's impossible to conclude one way or the other. As I said, the main point of the exercise would be to avoid people writing the game without even trying it. "Before its release," was implied. Although that said, I do think there's a difference between just doing something and commenting on it. Even once released, no amount of explanation is going to redeem the decision in the eyes of those vehemently opposed to it, whichever decision FFG makes. I agree with your reasoning here. As the boards illustrate, a number of people will not be happy with whatever FFG does outside of emulating the CCG, story, and setting in its previous form, which, ultimately, is why FFG needs to hiring their own people, take a hard look at the brand, decide what they want to do with it, and run with that vision. Any attempt to appease hardcore fans outside of a general adherence to the spirit of L5R, as well as a few nods here and there, runs the risk of revisiting some of the same problems the brand was facing towards the end of AEG's tenure. At the end of the day, I honestly do not care what they do to the setting and the games as long as they make them compelling and inviting for old and new players alike. The only way that this brand will endure is if FFG can inject some new blood into the game, and any tactic that can make that process work better is appreciated. It might not sit well with everyone, but if we want to have L5R for another ten years, we need to trust that FFG will make the necessary changes to extend its life that long.
  9. @Manchu I was not necessarily conflating 4E's failure and PF's success. Both happened for very different reasons. I still maintain that 4E could have done much better than it did, but a series of missteps, including the layout of the books, the powercreep of the game, and bad marketing, all contributed to an overall negative perception of the product. Having played and appreciated the system for what it was, I was still critical of some of the choices that WotC made. Likewise, PF was already entrenched in the 3.X market and due to WotC's much more restrictive license, capitalized on the segment of players who did not wish to migrate to a new system. It was a successful move that has allowed Paizo to be very successful, but with the resurgence of interest in 5E, who knows what that will do to their market position. The point is that both companies chose different strategies to the ending of 3.5 that had differing degrees of success. Now, it is helpful for our discussions because FFG stands in an interesting position. It can do quite a lot of things with the brand, the card game, the RPG, and other future product lines, but the philosophical question that everyone attempts to answer is how much should FFG change the product. For me, I have no say in how much they should or should not change. I am currently not a game designer, so I leave those pointed questions to those who have the best background to make them. While I have my own personal preferences for how much needs to change, and spend some time on these boards saying so, I realize that at the end of the day, FFG needs to approach the brand in their own way and make critical decisions to ensure its longevity.
  10. I feel that you have oversimplified your case here, so I am going to address it before jumping to what FFG/L5R can take away from it. The move from D&D 3e to 4e was an attempt to revamp the rules, appeal to a new generation of gamers raised on video games and MMOs, and take the brand in a new direction. This move was largely mixed due to problematic brand decisions and a failure to properly market and present the new edition to current and old gamers. Pathfinder took the 3E engine and fixed a few things and marketed it directly to the 3E players who did not wish to give up the system that they wanted to play. As D&D found its market share shrinking, they decided to move in a new direction, drawing on the surge of "retroclones" and creating a game with an old-school feel combined with modern design sensibilities, which has led to 5E. Time will tell if this move will strength the outlook on the brand. And now back to L5R, FFG stands in a position similar to WOTC toward the end of the 3E's lifecycle, in that they have a property that has been struggling and a critical decision must be made. Do they take the Pathfinder route, keeping the system essentially the same, filing off some of the problems and repackaging the same system as something new? Or do we see a huge shift in the design, composition, and setting of L5R akin to those seen with 4E? Or perhaps they take a page from 5E, emulating the feel while updating the system? None of us truly know, and since the property has changed hands to a new company, we can imagine that they will have more flexibility to make bold decisions free of the constraints that AEG likely found itself. (Note: The CCG [now LCG] and RPG will likely be approached much differently in terms of how much to change, so we could easily see radical shifts in one with more conservative revision in the other.)
  11. The Doctor Who analogies are particularly strong with L5R at this time. Much like the Classic series, L5R was encountering a terrible downturn in sales and investment, due to a number of factors, though much like Classic Who, I would place some of the blame squarely on poor decisions in the management area. Both were reaching the end of their runs in their current forms after twenty or more years, and it was time to take a step back to evaluate what to do with them, though thankfully, we won't have to wait nearly fifteen years for the relaunch of L5R. I agree with sndwurks that the best course of action for the brand would be the thematic reboot as it would acknowledge the work of players and writers for the AEG years, yet allow the story and game to jump forward to begin a new story, possibly with tweaks to the available factions, a stronger, more cohesive narrative out of the gates, and a more measured form of player/story interaction. Starting right with Onyx or just after that arc runs the risk of injecting many of the problems that the game and storyline faced at its end with AEG, such as too many loose ends, unmanageable levels of player interaction, and inescapable systemic and historical inertia, back into the game, when it is the perfect time to evolve the brand and story into something more accessible to modern gamers.
  12. Your second point is very valid. As a Spider fan, I am under no illusions that the faction as a whole will be spared the chopping block for the LCG, and possibly even the setting. And, if they end up being axed for a short time, or even permanently, I can make peace with that decision if the game and setting benefit from it. If I wanted to address the structural problems with both the setting and games, I would simply sit down and ask questions of each element: What is the function of this element (e.g. dueling, Shadowlands taint, individual Clans and families, etc) in the setting? In the game? Does this element still function in our (FFG's) vision for how the games and setting should be framed? If an element does not work, what should we do with it (erasure, revision, or repackage)? And as you say, I would put everything on the table and determine what all needs to be in the games and in the setting, noting that something can be in one and not the other, and work on new models that contain the elements deemed necessary.
  13. But as seen on this forum, the issue quickly becomes one of advancement vs. appeasement, and the hand-off offers the best opportunity to address this issue. To be frank, L5R, in both its CCG and RPG form, has been showing its age for quite some time now. Both formats use antiquated rules and design choices that have largely been abandoned in modern games. A number of problems arose from this desire to appease the old playerbase rather than taking necessary steps to modernize the games and make them more accessible to a wider audience, particularly at a time when attendance numbers and sales were sagging. Now, I do feel that FFG understands that the old playerbase does have a stake in the new LCG (and other games for that matter), but they are also looking at the larger picture, which is coaxing players who left back to the game, as well as inviting a host of new players from across their other product lines into the property. They will redesign and market this brand to the widest segment of their customers, moves that will likely require them to revise certain aspects of the game and setting, including some of the "sacred cows" outlined across the forum. While this decision might not sit well with some, it is honestly the best decision to revitalize a struggling brand and bring a host of new and returning players to the game.
  14. Another issue of importance in this Disney example is one of narrative frame. Disney's frame for the "relaunch" of the franchise and the one established by the "Legends/Expanded Universe" canon lead to very different approaches to how writers are framing the property, with one dealing with a more realistic aftermath, while the other jumps ahead to launch new stories. Both of them operate under a basic principle: what was past was now canon, and we are now moving forward from it. Yet, how they frame their respective narratives is now completely different, which will lead to much different interpretations of the setting, its characters, and its overall metaplot. There is every indication that L5R will also be undergoing a Disney treatment, with shifts in both time and narrative frame. FFG will likely want to figure out what they do with the property, decide on what frame they are going to use to approach it, and then revamp the setting to fit that frame. I can easily see factions becoming more or less important in the scheme of things, with some available at launch, others available later, and finally some getting written out all together. Since we don't know how they are framing L5R, we can only speculate how everything will fit together, but knowing FFG, it will fit together. To me, the biggest question is whether the frame will be Rokugan vs. Jigoku, Factions vs Factions, or Rokugan vs. External Threat. Once FFG answers this question, we can begin to figure out what the setting will look like. Given how many conversations on this board have developed, I do have the feeling that sweeping changes are in store for the game and the setting. To the casual observer and likely FFG member, the amount of posts outlining what needs to be in the setting in order to work is likely pretty alienating. Taking what once was, moving ahead on their own terms, and developing their own approach to the brand is probably the most effective outcome to the relaunch. While it may put off some hardcore fans of the brand, there is really no way to move the game forward without a brand new vision.
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