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nameless ronin

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  1. This is true. The players might feel this is something of a cheap cop-out or be disappointed with the results of the events and think their character isn't good enough, but they shouldn't worry (explain this if necessary!). If Kakita Toshimoko pronounces you worthy, not a soul in the empire will question this - in fact, you'll be the envy of most other young samurai for having had the opportunity to show your mettle like that. As for the character not being strong enough, given how the tests are set up you'd have passed if you hadn't gotten unlucky. Pray for a better roll of the dice next time.
  2. Removing all strife-related opportunities and turning them into success-based mechanics would probably make a lot of things a lot better.
  3. Assistance can mess up the dynamic too. It's an easy justification for making a roll and if the total success is not in doubt you can choose to go for opportunity use instead (often to either get rid of strife with Water or to foist strife on someone else with Fire). Now, obviously you can't always ignore success and go for opportunities. Nobody's saying that. But the fact that sometimes that's the better option isn't right. That's not good design.
  4. With the pregenerated characters odds are decent they'll pass, and regular characters should be a bit stronger than those. Did those players with only one point just have poor rolls all the time? Dice are random, but I'd expect at least 3 points for everyone without some really bad luck. These are standard characters, created using the normal rules? Have they been using void points? Regardless, it's a bit tricky. I don't like taking the chance of failure off the table, the players need to know things can go wrong, but for total newbies it would suck to experience defeat so quickly. Remember to keep in mind they'll get XP before the 2nd day of the competition. It's not a big deal, but it can help with one or two events - make sure they know what's planned on day two (their characters should certainly know that). Spending that xp on skills that will come up the next day might help them get a few more points. I think if I were you I wouldn't change the contest to make it easier to pass, but it's your table and your players. Regardless of what you do, you can always allow players to create a new character for the next adventure if they're a bit disappointed. As for the second question: it'd be really weird for the PCs to want to help someone else win, unless maybe it's someone from the same clan. Wanting everyone to succeed is one thing (and Hitoshi will pass, unless a PC prevents it), but the victory? This is an extremely prestigious event. It's really not in keeping with bushido to want to tamper with the outcome, and I can't think of any argument convincing enough to make Toshimoko consider not having it proceed normally (or as normally as possible, given what's happened).
  5. Well, it's maho - using it Taints you further to begin with.
  6. I wouldn't say it's immaterial: success is definitely better than failure in this instance. Regardless, a failure with high opportunity might still be better than a success with low opportunity.
  7. From a wiki: Other than a few very special cases there was no way of removing the taint. Tea of Jade Petals Drinking Tea of Jade Petals would slow the taint, and was one of the most popular ways to combat the taint. The tea was harvested from specially grown lotus blossoms sprinkled with jade powder known only to the monks of the Jade Lotus. The monks secretly worked with the Kuni Witch Hunters, telling them who buys the tea. Tears of the First Emperor One of the few reliable ways of removing the taint completely were the Tears of the First Emperor, which were in the possession of the wife of the Doji Daimyo. They permanently removed the taint at the cost of the tainted persons life. The Unbroken The ronin band called the Unbroken developed a technique that gradually removed the taint by killing Shadowlands creatures. The technique however also drastically shortened their lifespan, and those who joined the Unbroken might never leave. Rest, My Brother The kiho Rest, My Brother also managed to lower the taint within a person, but at the cost of terrible pain and damage to the body. Even if the target survived, the procedure could not be done more than once a week, making it a slow, painful process. Jade Hand The Jade Hand nemuranai was known to have burned away the taint completely when it attached itself to a person, as seen when Hida Yakamo attached it during the Clan War. It was also believed to render the bearer immune to the taint completely. Purification One of the few ways to remove the taint was a spell developed by the Crab and Phoenix shugenja. The spell known as Purification was a complicated and complex ritual that demanded at least an hour of deep concentration. If successful the spell decreased the taint in the target, but all the shugenja who participated in the ritual would then contract a small portion of the taint. Shadowed Tower The Shadowed Tower, a secret organization which tried to control the Scorpion Clan, succesfully removed the taint with an unorthodox method. Using a method developed by a Bloodspeaker cult, the Shadowed Tower channeled the Taint towards hapless, drugged out peasants who "willingly" accepted it on behalf of the shugenja. To assist in the acceptance, the peasants were often initially (and without their knowledge) exposed to the Taint through corrupted rice, then corrupted opium, until their wills, and later their souls, were forfeit. There were several Maho spells/rituals (Spreading the Darkness; Sharing the Darkness) for that last one. The Jade Hand is buried outside the Kaiu Wall, where it was used to cleanse the surroundings of the Tower of Fear - that Tower will re-emerge if the Jade Hand is removed, so that's a pretty terrible option as well. Naga are immune to the Taint due to a coming of age ritual and so are Nezumi, but their immunity stems rfrom an innate connection to Yume-Do. Naga pearl magic and Nezumi name magic can bestow these immunities, but I don't know if they have ever been used on a human (or if they even could be).
  8. In a conflict scene this should basically never be an issue though. In downtime or narrative scenes a lot can be done without touching your dice, but who takes actions without meaningful consequences in the middle of conflict?
  9. That's pretty much it. It wouldn't be as bad if there was a bit more support for the GM to help with the adjudicating though. With some things, just having dealt with them once will make it easy in future occurences.
  10. I agree the loan offer is just not correct. I thought we were talking about the possible consequences for samurai taking things from merchants without compensation. My mistake.
  11. Thing is, you should at least be consistent as the GM. It's a bit off to rarely allow more than two PCs to assist but whenever it suits you to take a power PC down a peg you're fine with mobbing him with half a dozen helping hands. The good thing about the rule being so open ended is that when appropriate it does at least allow a large collaboration, which a hard cap wouldn't. The maybe not so good thing is that with some player ingenuity this can be appropriate very often - especially with opportunities allowing for some narrative control of the players over the situation.
  12. The samurai also didn't pay proper respect to the local lord. It's a minor thing and probably won't help the merchant in this instance, but it is a dishonorable act that can become public. Also, the possibility exists that next time this samurai comes around looking for something either from that same mecant or another one he might be told all the available wares are regrettably promised to someone else already, or some such unfortunate mishap. The merchant is out of his money if he doesn't want to be missing his head probably, yes. That doesn't mean there are no consequences whatsoever for the samurai.
  13. It's slightly more complex. Aside from possibly having a patron, a merchant does his trade in a lord's domain and pays taxes to said lord. That doesn't necessarily earn him any protection from that lord, but if his profitability suffers that goes against the lord's interests (less taxes). In a sense, the merchant works for the lord and he sells his wares on behalf of his lord. Taking them without offering something in return (not payment, that would be crass and uncouth and unworthy of a samurai, but a reward or a token of gratitude) is an offense to the local lord and thus dishonorable.
  14. L5R 5th is a bit less crunchy than Shadowrun but it's certainly in the same ballpark as D&D 3rd ed or Pathfinder (then again, I tend to think of most RPGs as low to mid-heavy rules systems - it's not about how many skills, classes or spells there are, it's about how complex the mechanics everything is built on are). Skill use in L5R 5th is definitely more complex than in Pathfinder, for instance. The big difference is that a Pathfinder or something similar has a fairly strict set of rules: if you want to do something, how you do it is more or less explicitly explained in a rule and it's by and large always the same. L5R 5th on the other hand, in terms of core mechanics, is a bunch of guidelines and a non-exhaustive list of examples. Whatever you want to do, I can probably point you to a page (or, in some unfortunate cases, several pages throughout the entire book) that tells you what should happen. How it happens often depends a lot on interpretation and ad hoc decision making. How TNs are determined is completely vague. Approaches are literally the GM deciding which ring you use based on how you tell him you want to do something (and he'll also have to decide whether that changes the TN you'll roll against). There are long lists of possible uses for opportunities, but the book makes it clear you can really use them however you want as long as the GM is ok with it. Whether an advantage or disadvantage applies (or applies if you flip it) to a given situation is something that will vary from table to table (and you're encouraged to create your own). A whole lot of effects depend on interpreting the norms and social standards of the empire. Some of that was certainly already the case in previous editions as well. And it isn't necessarily a bad way to do things either. I really wish the guidelines were a bit better in several cases though (those variable TNs for sure) and things like the advantages and disadvantages being so inconsistent and open-ended are a pain. It's definitely a system that needs a GM to make it work. That doesn't mean it's a light system, however. Eh. Skill use in D&D: I use this skill, I have these modifiers to the roll which always work uniformly so I can just add them up from my char sheet, I roll 1d20 plus or minus whatever, the GM checks for success or failure, done. Skill use in L5R fifth: I pick the most applicable broad skill available (or the GM tells me which it'll be), I explain my approach, the GM tells me which ring corresponds to that, whether there are modifiers to the dice pool, and picks a TN based on both general difficulty and approach, I roll my dice pool, I check what I want to (and can) keep in terms of strife and opportunities, success/failure is determined and I probably get to use opportunities (regardless of success), which are often modified by a tech or school ability, done. I may have missed a step here or there, but based on skill use I would definitely not call D&D the the rules-heavy system when comparing it to L5R.
  15. Good point. That's not really how rules work. If everything that is implicitly factual needs to be made explicit, rulebooks would have more pages than the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  16. Why would it violate dueling regulations? The duel has already started. Unmasking requires doing something. Unless an explicit exception is made, you can't do anything out of turn. There's nu such exception for unmasking.
  17. It's a reset (with some minor changes, mostly to a few characters) to the setting from 1st edition L5R. It's about as far back as a reset can go without going to a point in the timeline that was always "history".
  18. This is seriously not worth hashing out IMO, but finishing blows can explicitly happen out of turn. If we're arguing technicalities, who or what says it can't be done during initiative?
  19. You can't unmask out of turn, so you'd start the duel compromised (which is bad, because you can't keep strife results), and finishing blows can be triggered by unmasking as well. You could argue that technically the first time you became compromised or unmasked was before the first turn already, but I doubt that will fly at most tables.
  20. Not necessarily. Again, first criterium: is it clear how everything is supposed to work? If you have to figure that out for yourself, it's not good design. That said, most systems are pretty minimal at their core. 95% of most rulebooks is filled with instances of rules and mechanics, not with how the rules (are meant to) work. I don't think we are. I'll happily discuss specific issues, but I'll usually check where they're coming from too. Opportunity abuse with certain techs or stances is a problem with the opportunity mechanic not being applied properly and consistently more than with individual instances. TN choices seeming weird is the result of there not being clear guidelines on how to set TNs in the first place. Strife is a mess all over the place because its core concept isn't defined well enough and it pops up everywhere, not always for good reason. Third's biggest problem is bloat. Which is even simpler to fix than powergamer ruleslawyering. What about 5th supports the setting and intentions? I assume you mean things like strife, but the problem there is that that's largely a good idea with bad execution. Same with approaches: flavorful to connect them to the five rings, but the skill mechanics built on approaches are poor. I do not give credit for good ideas if they only result in flawed rules.
  21. If you look at abuses and loopholes first and foremost to determine whether something is well-designed or not, I think you got it wrong. The first thing to look for is whether it's clear how everything is supposed to work normally (so when you come across something too uncommon to be handled exhaustively in the rules you have a good idea of what's meant to happen conceptually), the second is whether everything works well when done normally (so you don't feel the need to change the rules all the time). The abnormal stuff, the abuses, the niche interactions, those don't matter nearly as much as the core design. In terms of design I'll take pretty much any indie RPG I backed on Kickstarter, probably developed on a tenth of FFG's budget for this edition, over L5R 5th simply because they show me the key concepts for mechanics and apply them consistently in a way I can reproduce for interactions they don't cover in the book whereas FFG fails to do that.
  22. Second City is the capital of the colonies, in what used to be the Ivory Kingdoms. I expect FFG to focus on the Emeral Empire first, get most (if not all) of their topical sourcebooks out, before investing resources in products about locations outside the Empire's borders.
  23. As someone routinely picking up the GM position: cheese, and certainly obvious cheese, is rarely a significant problem. There are normally plenty of ways to deal with that from just not allowing it to cheesing right back until it stops and everything in between. It's also in many cases not a sign of bad design or poor mechanics: stretch anything far enough and you'll probably find some way of breaking it. Strong design starts with the basics and builds from there. Your mileage apparently varies, but I don't see strong core design in this edition of the game. Setting TNs is barely explained and some of the official ones don't seem to follow any logic. Advantages and disadvantages are all over the place and need serious GM involvement to achieve anything approaching parity - previous editions had issues with the values, but in this edition the whole point is to keep making them come up to drive the strife and void point mechanics so this lack of parity otherwise propagates through the whole system. Handling strife is so open-ended there's little point in calling perceived abuses loopholes: there's no skirting rules or restrictions, just do what the system says you should do to manage strife and you can probably expect not to become compromised unless you want to. Opportunities commonly don't follow their basic requirement of not having anything to do with success or failure and tend to make or break techs. These are core concepts that are key to the gameplay, and they're just not polished enough. Previous editions have their issues, certainly, but their core ideas are by and large solid. For me that's much more important than having to put my foot down to squash some powergamer ruleslawyering a bit less often. Also, as a personal pet peeve: the index sucks and the overal layout can make it hard to find all the relevant rules for complex interactions. 😛
  24. Using as few rolls as necessary is fine - in fact, I encourage it. The only real effect it has is that it will also result in minimal strife. I can't say that that's the end of the world though, unless you really want the strife mechanic to be very meaningful. On the one hand that should be the goal, it's a core narrative element, but on the other hand players with sufficient knowledge of the relevant rules can usually avoid strife issues if they want to anyway.
  25. Arguably the PCs are the protagonists and no-one else is, unless there are "GM PCs" - and those should probably not be played as protagonists either. Being unconscious prohibits making checks that represent agency (p. 273). Rolling initiative is "seeking to get [your] bearings in the conflict" (p. 250), which sounds like agency to me. It's just another one of those things the rules are fuzzy on. Handle it the way you think works best for you, there's no rules-as-written mechanic here.
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