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jmoschner

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Everything posted by jmoschner

  1. First, this is a game and people should be having fun. IF the rules for some reason or another are inhibiting that fun, then people should be free to make whatever changes they want -so long as everyone at the table is on board and having a good time. It is quite possible for someone to have a solid grasp of the rules and simply not like the way things are playing out at their table. There is no wrong way to play so long as everyone at the table is having fun. Heck a group can replace dueling by having the Players smack each other with rubber chickens if that is their thing and everyone consents. As for the OP's issues with progression and feeling constrained, it might be easier for them to simply allow all techniques (within the categories granted by the school, i.e kata, shuji, etc.) and skill purchases to count at full xp toward rank progression with rings still counting at half. Privileged access then becomes an earlier access thing, not a buy now or it never counts toward rank progression thing. It also allows for a bit more variety in character progression while shifting the focus of each school more on the school ability than on a series of skills and techniques it likely shares with other schools. This approach to progression may also be useful when all the PCs are of the same school. Note that you may want to adjust the XP given depending on how much the players are upping rings and how fast you want them to climb in school rank.
  2. I know. Could have worded it better. Use a Yumi to guard your buddy, then Kick a person who closes in on you and attacks. Will edit for clarity.
  3. That also works well with Void Stance as you can ignore strife on the dice and keep better results for longer. In the open beta my group tested that. It is quite effective. Also useful if you are backing up the person charging into the fight. Guard them with a ranged weapon to bump up their TN, while still able to kick a would-be attacker who gets within range of Crescent Moon Style.
  4. The easy way to make taking on a new/second school work would be to buy the school ability for 6xp (that doesn't count toward any school progression) then add the starting techniques and skills to the advancement chart for the first rank of the new school. From there they have to rank up as normal, starting at rank 1 in the new school. They gain no free ring or skill increases. Honor remains unchanged. They may or may not get new gear as fits the story and may or may not have to give up old gear. For abilities that use school rank, they have to use their new school rank or spend a void point to use their old school rank for a single task/roll/effect/etc. For available techniques they add those granted by the new school to those types already available to them (i.e. invocations, kata, etc.).
  5. When running various games where remembering a bunch of odd names was required of the players, I basically print off a dramatis personae. In Word I'll whip up a table of key NPCs. Usually include the name, a bit of relevant info, and either a relevant visual representation (hand drawn sketch of character, image from net, clan symbol, icon, etc.) or color code (if I feel like using color toner). I try to leave room for players to take notes. At the start of the session I pass out a copy to each player. It has the added benefit of keeping players focused on key NPCs and I'm able to drop subtle hints about the NPCs on the sheet. Sometimes I'll do a few different sheets if there is an NPC who makes a surprise appearance or it is otherwise fitting to not give info right away.
  6. In regard to strife and unmasking, GMs and players will need to decide ahead of time how often they expect a lose of glory/honor due to unmasking vs the rate at which the characters gain honor/glory. Not every unmasking option is a hit to honor/glory but most are and it can feel cheap taking the one non-loss option most of the time. Likewise it can really be annoying to start taking mechanical penalties for roleplaying your character.
  7. They did run out of time on the open beta. It also appears most of the issues are with the things not put through the wringer in the open beta or changed after the beta.
  8. First, know that the NPC section as well as a good chunk of stuff slated for review near the end of the beta never got the love it should have. Earlier sections ran over schedule leaving the rest not getting as through of a review as it really needed. In the beta it stated “If an effect calls for an NPC’s school rank, treat its higher conflict rank as its school rank, to a maximum of 6.” This may need some adjusting as you may not want a CR6 character to have a school rank of six for mechanical or story reasons. Likewise you may want the CR3 character to have a school rank of 6, like the old sensei who may not be much of a challenge but has mastered the ways of their school. Do what fits the story, but be aware some mechanics may make the character stronger than you intended. I would use stock NPCs until I had a feel of what the Players and PCs can handle.
  9. You first need to ask "what's the role of the padwan in this story?" Is the character there to round out the party? Is it there to open up new plot threads? Are they meant to always be around or to pop in and out out of the adventure? Is the player looking for some kind of mechanical benefit or simply more role play opportunity? Would this be any different than if the GM otherwise added an NPC to accompany the PCs on their adventures? Go over those questions with the GM see if adding the character is right for your adventure. Most GMs should easily be able to handle the character narratively, or quickly stat it up as a minion. The real kicker is how the character is meant to fit into the story. It really depends on your play style and personalities as to whether the padwan should be ran by a player or the GM or even allowed at all.
  10. From what I can tell, the game wants every task to have a base TN, that goes down by 1 with the most appropriate approach and up by 1 for the least appropriate approach. All other approaches are at the base TN. It just does a really, really, really bad job of communicating that in clear way and does an astoundingly poor job of explaining to the GM how to decide which approach is +1TN and which is -1TN and why. Would be nice if skill examples were laid out like: Task / Skill / Base TN / Most Appropriate Approach / Least Appropriate Approach / Time. For example the base tea ceremony: Perform Tea Ceremony for Others / Performance / TN 3 / Earth -1 / Fire +1 / Downtime (Note the Beta lists Tea Ceremony as a TN 2 Performance (Earth) check so I used that for this example) They also made a huge misstep in the beta by breaking the approaches into categories, such as social and trade, and then adding a little addendum that people can easily miss stating that you may need to use an approach from a different category sometimes. Instead they should have done a section on approaches where they list and explain all the various approaches for each ring and actually explain why sometimes one appraoch is the best choice and one is the worst. Who knows, they might have done this for the final book. I have a feeling after the book is out the community will end up putting together a master task list to help new GMs quickly know the best ring and skill for a roll plus a having a decent idea of what the TN should be.
  11. Things off the top of my head: Have a reoccurring rival team or teams the get fleshed out over the story. Could be mutual respect for each other under a layer of trash talk or could mean dirty tricks and sabotage. Side bets. Could be for credits, could be drinking stale milk from an old manifold in front of everyone; anything where the stakes fit the characters and story. If for credits could get involved with the wrong people. Maybe some trash talk leads to a bet the PCs can't win or it puts the driver at odds with the crew. Like the driver has to throw the race so another driver wins after the crew bet the pc driver would win. This could be for any number of reasons such as the other driver is in debt, honor at stake, etc. Maybe even most the crew bets on themselves winning, but a pc on the pit crew has their obligation come back to bite them and has to sabotage the racer. Travel. Lots of the story can be the time between races. The various towns they stop in can have mysteries, crimes, and the usual plot adventures. Bandits may attack while the crew is on the road. Their racer or other gear could get jacked and they need to get it back. Maybe even a time where all the racers and their crews have to caravan through a dangerous area and circle the wagons at night. Supplies. Buying fuel, replacing parts, ect. can all be the inciting indecent for an adventure or the macguffin for an adventure. Local dangers. Maybe the conflict between two crime factions spills over to the race. Could even end up with the race path going right into the middle of battle. Have local fauna cause problems, everything from making the race harder to complicating the time on the road to eating all the food.
  12. Not sure this bit survived the beta, but note that in the beta PCs can get strife for narrative reasons and the GM can slap them with strife if they see fit: In a situation where a player feels their character would take on strife and unmask the player should inform the GM and the GM should probably give them strife and let them unmask if it is appropriate to the character and the situation. This is where dialogue between players and GM comes in.
  13. Yes. In fire stance each strife symbol on each kept die gives you both strife and a bonus success.
  14. The most telling line about how FFG views Strife is probably in the Roll and Keep article: "Sam Stewart suggested that a result (eventually strife) could result in resource depletion rather than more narrative results." Strife really runs the risk of being a game of resource management more so than a tool that informs roleplay and that seems to be by design. The biggest problems with the mechanic are being tied to the dice and the constant bookkeeping. The unmasking article looks to me like FFG is trying to get out ahead of the inevitable negative reaction players will have to strife. Sadly, the examples in the article are more inline with what you should be getting with the push and pull of a character's Ninjō and Giri while the mechanic itself is more the result of rolling the dice.
  15. As far as I am aware, and I could be wrong, FFG has hired a company to run L5R for them at cons for the next year or so. If true, that could mean some plot impacting events, however most likely they would be running some one shot adventures. Also heard that FFG told the people running the current living campaign they have about a year or so to switch over to the new system (once the current campaign wraps). There is no guarantee the living campaign will continue in the new system or that FFG will work with campaign organizers to ensure events impact the metaplot if it does.
  16. You might consider having them take strain instead of wounds from non-silver attacks (after soak, etc. is applied). Just make sure to always track strain for the NPCs. Or just deal with it narratively.
  17. This sounds a lot like the Stories progression in 7th Sea 2nd ed. Basically, each player sets a goal for their PC with an achievable ending and takes steps toward that goal. Each step taken is basically treated as XP and once a goal is achieved or abandoned they work toward a new goal. ----------------------- In the game my group is currently beta testing (and so far really loving), each PC has two goals that may or may not oppose one another (one the PC need not even be aware of). They get rewards for completing their goals; the reward is highest if they have to abandon one goal within their grasp for the other goal. They also get rewarded a type of glory they can cash in for benefits to their current situation.
  18. Have the players describe what they are doing in emotional terms that give insight into their motivations. It may take a bit of buy-in, but if your players are game it makes playing force characters more rewarding. Occasionally throw in a boost die on the roll when they are tapping into emotions that will generate conflict (especially when doing the right thing for the wrong reason). So in the case of obvious bad guys approaching, have the player say why the PC is rushing in. Maybe it is the tactically sound option (no conflict), maybe it is payback for getting shot earlier (conflict), maybe it is fear of seeing an innocent hurt (conflict and a boost die), either way judge the action and motivation accordingly.
  19. It is rather ill advised to start messing with XP and progression this late in the game without proper time to really test it. Not saying XP and advancement don't need work, but they are not going to get properly tested and you will have issues down the road. You still are making the same core mistake you always make: adding needless complexity for marginal to no gain. Right now the rings only counting for half has the following consequences you have not accounted for: It throws off the numbers for determining power of NPCs. There are now even wider power swings within a school rank Power scale and balance is now off with characters all over the place* Air stance now bounces between useless and op Rings will be perceived as a tax, as to actually use many techniques you need a high ring players will feel like they have to buy more stuff they won't use to advance devalues high level play as can front load characters increases the likelihood of high level characters with multiple rings and skills at 5 school abilities that really only pay off at higher school ranks will see less use *On average you're looking at around 42xp to get to ring 5 and around 14xp to get to skill 5 (assuming skill at 3). Now only 21 of the xp spent on the ring counts toward school rank. "Experience to complete school ranks is going to be increased significantly." so even if it is just 10 extra per rank, you could (and will) end up with characters at rank 2 with ring 5, skill 5, and they will only be at most 1 rank behind the characters that went all in on school advancement. IF you double the XP needed to get to rank 2 from 16 to 32, then you will have rank one characters with ring 5 skill 5. Since most school abilities are "meh" and higher level techniques basically require maxed out ring and skill, there is still little incentive to focus on school stuff early on for a lot of builds. As characters will have to up rings and skills eventually, those that front load into a high ring/skill will catch up in school rank, likely by rank 3. This basically undermines the only counting rings as half, expect to add complexity and slow the progress, which is now being slowed in other ways as well. So the half ring xp is really just needless mechanics that were poorly thought through. As WHW noted, every school needs to have some techniques that are early access under the new XP scheme. School techniques need to be made more interesting and useful as there was already little reason for many characters to focus on raising school rank; this only exacerbates the issue. There really should be a slow, normal, and fast progression options for XP. Let GMs decide how fast they want the group to advance. Tying XP to time playing is not a good idea. XP needs to be tied to what the characters are doing, not how long the players are seated at a table. Honor, Glory, Ninjō, and Giri all need overhauls. The mechanics as they stand do not achieve any of these. The proposed changes do not really fix Ninjō/Giri and only add more problems. The core issue here, beyond always adding needless complexity, is that the dev team seems to have a lack of understanding of what creates tension and drama, then trying to force their ill-conceived notions of drama through poorly constructed mechanics. The system should provide the players and GM the tools to create conflict, and from that conflict and the choices made in dealing with it comes the drama. Where you've made the mistakes design wise is in putting strife on the dice and making it fairly random instead of making it primarily a consequence of opposing Ninjō/Giri. You have a system that puts strife in everyone's face every roll, but where you can basically ignore honor for entire game sessions. Honor and Glory should be ingrained more into the rest of the system instead of tacked on. More things should scale with honor or glory than with school. More things should require a certain honor or glory as a prerequisite (mostly non-school related techniques). I would even go ahead and decouple the advantages/disadvantages from honor and glory. Let the loss/gain of honor, glory, and status have real impacts. Instead of gumming up the system with strife, you should have been greasing the gears with honor and glory. You really need to work on streamlining the system so it gets out of the way and lets the people at the table tell a compelling story instead of constantly trying to force drama and thus derailing the drama already unfolding. IF you really want better storytelling and drama, then spend time in the book explaining how to craft and tell engaging samurai adventures. Spend time on things like story structure, the nature of conflict in samurai drama, and how to explore character motivations. Give examples of how the GM can work characters from PC backstories into the adventure and other tips for giving the story more weight for the players.
  20. While I feel the beta was a complete wast of time for my group and I, I'm glad we were able to see what the devs had in mind before any of us wasted money pre-ordering the game.
  21. Go with the EotE one. You have the benefit of having ran it and it is better than the F&D one. They work together just fine. That said, I'm not a bit fan of the mechanics for morality (the random component doesn't sit right with me). If you're worried about mixing and matching, go with Obligation. Fun and Story first. Game mechanics after that. Let players know it is okay to fail and that failure doesn't stop the action, it just diverts it in a new direction.
  22. Few random ideas: PCs trapped in a section of the station as an emergency locks of that part of the station. The contact they were to meet is dead. They need figure out what's going on as the emergency intensifies, and it soon looks like the incident causing the lock down will kill everyone there. PCs need to find way out or to stop whatever it is, while solving the murder. PCs get caught up in a conflict by two local casinos. Small hole in the wall type places like you find well off the beaten path in Vegas. Have fun with it where the two owners keep hiring the PCs to do various bits of sabotage/drive away customers. Then a third casino owner does something worse than the PCs have been doing and the PCs get blamed and have to prove their innocence (this time). A slicer has figured out how to hack the droid dealers in order to have them count cards in the slicer's favor. But things soon spiral out of control and the hack spreads like a virus and soon everything is paying out big time and then the entire station starts to go offline as people are fighting over cash and casino owners are going ballistic. PCs can either be the person responsible or need to find the person responsible and fix the mess, which means getting to the main AI and doing some techno-babble solution (or just turn it off and back on). Maybe even have the AI trapped in a droid body accompanying the PCs and adding all the damage they do in the process to their tab or deducting it from their payment to help fix everything.
  23. I'd keep it simple and treat tool use as an advantage/disadvantage on the roll. No new mechanics to fuss with and it fits thematically.
  24. Fix basic combat and damage mechanics so you can drop a foe in one or two hits and that would resolve the duel issues and lead to quicker leaner combat and conflict resolution in general. The core of conflict resolution needs to be simple, quick, and effective. Techniques and descriptions of actions are what should spice things up.
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