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nameless ronin

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Everything posted by nameless ronin

  1. I need to look into it in more detail, to be honest, but the way schools work in this system makes me really suspicious of mixing spellcasting in with anything else.
  2. Roleplaying requirements aside, I think I’d allow something like this (arguably a little too complicated to be anything but a houserule): - you need to be skilled in as many of the new school’s skills as you’d get a skill increase in if you took the school as your starting school; you’d need to be skilled in 5 of the 7 skills listed for increases if you want to become a Hida Defender, or 3 out of 6 for the Kuni Purifier school, and so on. - Shugenja schools don’t mix with non-shugenja schools. - Going to another clan’s school costs a number of XP equal to twice the sum of all your school ranks. No extra cost if you stay within your clan. - you get the school ability and one of the starting techniques (player’s choice). Nothing else. Someone joining the Kuni Purifiers would get Gaze into Shadow and either both invocations listed, one of the kata listed, or both rituals listed. None of the other techniques, not the ring increases, not the skill increases. - Honor is unaffected, no starting outfit. - if you want to increase your school rank in a previous school, you can do so with XP whenever you enter a new school or rank up in your current school. This costs a number of XP equal to three times the sum of all your school ranks at the time you do this, per school you want to do this for, per rank you want to do this for, and no school rank can exceed 1 plus the number of school ranks you gained via normal advancement (in any school) since joining that school. - You’re considered a student of all schools you have a rank in, so you can also increase your school rank in any such school via normal advancement. If you take an advance that would count towards advancement in more than one of your schools, it does count towards all of them (school techniques you gain from joining a new school, if they are relevant for advancing in a previous school, count as if they were bought with XP). Paying XP for a school advancement does not bypass regular advancement, it’s only an option to increase your school rank faster, so if you want to increase your rank in a school to 3 via advancements when you raised it to 2 with straight XP you still need to get sufficient advancements for rank 2 first. Example: A Doji Diplomat rank 1 wants to join the Kakita Duelists; he stays with the Crane, so no XP cost to change schools; he has Courtesy, Fitness, Martial Arts (Melee), Meditation and Sentiment at various ranks, so he qualifies; he gains Way of the Crane and chooses to gain the Iaijutsu kata as well, but doesn’t get any ring or skill increases, nor the shūji; his honor doesn’t change; he can pay XP to increase his Doji Diplomat rank from 1 to 2 (this would cost 2x (1 Diplomat rank + 1 Duelist rank) = 4 XP) but chooses not to, which means he will be at Diplomat rank 1 until he gains rank 2 as a Duelist and pays XP then, joins a third school and pays XP then, or advances his Diplomat rank the normal way (at which point he gets the same option for his Duelist rank). This Diplomat/Duelist advances his Duelist rank by spending sufficient XP on relevant advancements; some of these are relevant for the Diplomat school as well but they don’t add up to enough to be able to advance his Diplomat rank yet as well (they do get noted in case they matter later on); he decides he wants to increase the effectiveness of his Diplomat school ability anyway, so pays 3 times 3 (1 Diplomat + 2 Duelist) = 9 XP. The character now has 2 school ranks in both the Diplomat and Duelist schools and could, if he wanted, pay 12 XP to increase his Diplomat school rank to 3. The campaign continues and through a series of events the character earns an invitation to join the Kitsuki Investigators. If he wants to accept, he’ll need to pay 2 times 4 (2 Duelist + 2 Diplomat) = 8 XP for the privilege of joining a school of another clan than his own and be skilled in 5 or more of the Investigator skills to qualify. He can then also increase his Doji and/or Duelist rank with XP (15 XP the first rank, 18 the next, and 21 for the last possible one; at this point max Diplomat rank is 4, max Duelist rank is 3)
  3. Hamburgers are fine if you want a hamburger. If you don’t, they’re not. I think this beta has the makings of a decent system. I don’t think my group will pick it up regardless of how well it turns out. These are not contradicting statements.
  4. Benefit of the doubt. I’m willing to believe OP didn’t have a good first impression but was willing to test the system. He just seems to have taken the fact that his players are unwilling to give it a real chance as proof his misgivings are correct, which is not how actual testing is supposed to go. I wasn’t keen on quite a few concepts in the beta (the dice are mostly a “well, it’s FFG, what did I expect?” thing for me) and my group isn’t up to doing a full test, but running a few testcase situations by myself at least gave me a better perspective and appreciation for some of them. I’d definitely want some tweaking of Strife to tone it down a bit (seems unlikely to happen though) and I’m not happy with the skill system, but combat feels better than I thought it would. I actually like duel/one on one contest mechanics, it turns out, I just feel the balance and relevant clan-specific abilities are off. Without practical testing I wouldn’t have changed my mind about any of these.
  5. We seem to be talking past one another to some extent. You appear to say that Clan samurai who displeased their daimyo got assigned tasks involving unusual skillsets. We seem to differ on the causality. Do they get tasks with unusual skillsets because those are less important and less glorious, or do they get tasks that are less important and less glorious and those just happen to more frequently involve unusual skillsets? I think many of the unusual skills mentioned are just unusual and can be (and presumably are) used to good effect for the betterment of the clan (maybe not by these PCs, but that would still require them getting assigned tasks where they have to use these skills without it being of value to the clan). Unusual doesn’t mean useless. Making the atypical choice doesn’t mean you lose Glory, you don’t get a bonus. It doesn’t even say you have a bad reputation. And it means you get a skill that’s unusual for your clan. It doesn’t say you actually get a task that gives you practical experience with that skill. I mean, are Dragon shugenja, even ones who have displeased their daimyo, likely to be given sailing duties? And what about skills that are certainly valued like Design for a Crab, particularly a Kaiu?
  6. Well, yes, but now you’re not presenting this as the character using this skillset because his daimyo gave him tasks that necessitate it. If you do stuff your clan doesn’t like or at least doesn’t value, it’ll lower your glory and status and that will in turn affect your “career”. But that’s not what this mechanic does or even implies.
  7. No disrespect to your players, but I’m not getting the impression they were very willing to give this beta a fair chance, never mind making a real effort to test it.
  8. The thing is, this sort of fits the seafaring Dragon (although going against the grain is Dragonesque to begin with) but doesn’t make a lot of sense for most of the others. Most of these atypical skills are just that, atypical. It’s still plausible for a Crane to have some mercantile sense (particularly artisans who may trade in art and courtiers who may broker agreements involving economic matters) or a Unicorn to be interested in matters of culture. And these skills can be useful and bring honor and glory to the samurai and by extention the clan, so why foist them off on someone unless they show some kind of aptitude for them - particularly when that aptitude is supposedly rare? I can get the notion of the clan daimyo wanting that kind of unusual expertise to be acquired, but it feels a bit petty and ineffecient. Which is certainly an attitude some daimyo have, but hopefully not all. Which in turn brings us back to the “it’s just all the PCs in that situation, not every clan samurai in that situation” argument, but for me atypical samurai taking atypical interests is still more to be expected than atypical samurai getting assigned atypical tasks rather than merely having more trouble rising through the ranks.
  9. The system had to be changed (otherwise, what’s the point of a new edition?) and so it was. I like quite a lot of the rules, have some doubts about others, and the jury isn’t out on whether the implementation of some of the concepts hits the tone I’d like it to. My point above was merely about the dice though: apparently some feel changing the dice used in previous editions is not done, even if it’s ok - expected, even - to change the ruleset to a large extent, and they pointed at D&D as a supporting argument. D&D did not always use just D20s for resolution purposes though, and other games have changed the dice used from one edition to the next as well.
  10. I just don’t think the feeling that you’re progressing fast in your core qualities already is going to make minmaxers choose to not progress even more in them as quickly as possibly. If you spend XP on non power skills, you’re delaying your power skill progression. That’s all there’s to it.
  11. I get the skill point stacking part, but I don’t see how fastening the progression helps until you hit a hard cap.
  12. All player character abnormal dragon clanners consistently decide to go to sea. It’s a bit of a metagame distinction, but there it is. That said, I’d much prefer a little more freedom here as well.
  13. This post sounds like Draaaamaa, no offense. Making players do anything by enforcing it mechanically isn’t really something I’m in favour off. Plenty of less hamfisted ways for doing that, and making people do anything against their will is an iffy proposition to begin with.
  14. Bishamon’s Curse applies to all (weapon) damage rolls, Small only to melee damage. Small is pretty much a freebie for archers if it doesn’t have a non-damage component. That said, sure, advantages and disadvantages aren’t all that balanced for their cost in 4th. Keep in mind that how good/bad most of them are depends in large part on the GM though. That in itself makes the costs a bit tenuous, but it’s also something that applies to most aspects of a character.
  15. OD&D/first used D6s for most resolutions, since that’s what Chainmail used. That moved to D20s for most combat in AD&D (attack roles and saves) as well as proficiency roles (what later became plain skills), but AD&D used D10s for initiative and percentile dice for most character abilities. I still use some of those as D10s for other games. It wasn’t until 3E that the D20 (and always wanting to roll high, but that’s neither here nor there) became the only die used for mechanic resolution - figuring out if you managed to do something and how well. Percentile went out the window (thank God, no more rolling against various tables to see what happened) and any die size other than D20 got relegated to things like HP and weapon damage. Just saying that in D&D with edition changes there were some die size changes as well. For good reason: I enjoyed the early editions, have some very fond memories of them, but in terms of mechanics they didn’t exactly age well. D10 R&K is much more robust in that regard, FFG certainly could have gone for a system that stuck closer to the classics, but “systems don’t change their dice” is not a correct argument. Star Wars is another example: D6 with WEG, D20 with WotC, then FFG’s system.
  16. You realize D&D 3rd edition introduced the d20 system, right (and pretty much saved D&D from oblivion)? D&D certainly didn’t use a uniform dice system across all iterations.
  17. No, it’s ok if the other clans grow powerful. If and when that happens what matters is that they all grow powerful, not any one much more so than any of the others, and that they don’t become too chummy. That way everyone keeps everyone else in check. But ok, agree to disagree. I’m really not keen on external enemies. Variety is good, so it’s not like I have no use whatsoever for them, but a faction like the Yodotai is absolutely the last antagonist I will reach for when trying to come up with a new adventure. Groups like the Gozoku are best, assuming I want some kind of pre-established opponent for the players: they’re hidden, widespread, and their members have their own motivations and goals aside from the organizations. They’re also samurai, and they’re not even doing anything illegal per se. They can just be doing something the PCs don’t want to happen. Things like the Lying Darkness, Oni hidden on this side of the Wall or Bloodspeakers are fun as long as they turn the tenets of being samurai against characters, when they use societal norms for their own ends. Anything that doesn’t put them in the open. Anything that generates conflict between resolving the issue and doing what being a samurai demands. Even something like the Tomb of Iuchiban has a little bit of intrigue and plot twists. Rokugan is a deadly setting, but very much not a hack&slash setting.
  18. The beta .pdf is fairly clear about it: [The Scorpion] keep all clans united in hatred against them, yet divided so that no one clan can challenge the line to whom they owe undying loyalty: the Hantei. That status quo is the balance they keep. As long as the clans are divided, any clan making a move on the throne will have at least one or two others (plus the Scorpion) to deal with, and likely more. It's not about the Scorpion keeping everyone in check; it's about the Scorpion ensuring everyone keeps everyone else in check. Any of the military clans, including the Mantis, is strong enough to defeat the Imperial armies. Even if the Scorpion armies help oppose them. But throw in one or two of the other big military forces and that changes the equation dramatically. The Otomo are not above using underhanded means, but they work the system. It's their system to use, after all. The Scorpion might blackmail rice merchants into not selling to the Crab, the Otomo will more likely convince them that if they don't double their prices for the Crab this season they might find nobody willing to buy their goods next season. The Scorpion could ruin the reputation of a promising magistrate to prevent his promotion, the Otomo will have a conversation with someone higher up in the chain of command and they'll decide another magistrate is more worthy of the position. Land disputes, fishing rights, successions, anything involving bureaucracy can be used by the Otomo. They know they have leverage, and they drive a hard bargain with it.
  19. The Otomo do manipulate the clans, but Bayushi knew that becoming the Emperor's Underhand meant that "if the clans ever united it would be against the Scorpion and not the Emperor" (that last bit is from 4th edition's The Great Clans). If the Scorpion are not interested in keeping the other clans under control, why all the political backstabbing, the manipulations, the blackmail, etc? That's a lot of effort to expend just to build up an intelligence network aimed at other threats entirely. The fact is that the clans could be a hidden threat. The Scorpion prevent that. The Otomo work in the public sphere, the Scorpion work unseen or at minimum under a guise of plausible deniability. As for the clans vying against each other being the normal background of Rokugani society: yes, exactly. That's the beauty of it.
  20. You can conceal a katana (or several, if necessary) in a stack of wood if you want. Hiding a wakizashi on your person is not that difficult. You won't pass a thorough inspection, but you probably wouldn't either if you carried a flask of black powder disguised as a sake bottle. Deal with it as circumstances demand.
  21. I think you're looking at the forest but missing the trees when it comes to the Clan War setting. There is tons of stuff you can do that doesn't involve the major events but uses them as a backdrop for your players to build their characters around. And if your players achieve Glory to rival the new Thunders, what of it? Just because it's not in the history part of a sourcebook doesn't mean it can't happen. Any 1st ed module can be reset to the Clan War era, the only real changes are how the relationships between the clans differ. Any adventure idea you have can be tailored for any period you want. The 1st edition setting is undoubtedly very popular, the most popular by far, but there are many reasons for that beyond how good it was by itself. The Clan War era is less popular among other things because 2d ed is arguably the least popular edition in terms of mechanics (leaving the non-R&K d20 version out of it for a moment), so most groups I know largely skipped that edition entirely. They tried it and went back to 1st ed rules and then jumped to 3rd when that was released.
  22. L5R has been my favourite RPG since 1st. Played/GMed every edition, strictly speaking, though very little 2nd or d20. Every edition has its strong points and weaknesses, but purely on the basis of being my intro 1st will always be a little bit more special than the others. When playing I enjoy pretty much any character type, but I prefer bushi (often minor clan or ronin) or courtiers (Scorpion, possibly Crab) over shugenja. When GMing I tend to focus on the clans more than on the Shadowlands or one of the down-with-the-Empire organisations (the Gozoku work though). No favourite era, I like to pick one that makes things interesting for the characters the players have chosen: if there are Lions, but no Akodo, then the post-Coup years are good (can't have Scorpions of course); if there are several Crane and Crab the buildup to the Yasuki is a fun backdrop; if I do decide to break out something like the Gozoku or Daigotsu then I want things to play out in the right era too, I'm not going to rework them to insert them in the adventure a few centuries early or late. We're currently playing 4th and there is not a great deal of interest in playtesting FFG's beta version of the new edition, but I am going through my notes from an old 1st ed adventure to maybe run as a playtest on the side and we'll certainly give the new edition a try when it's released.
  23. The Scorpion are the Emperor's Underhand ("I'll be your villain"). That includes ensuring no one Clan grows powerful enough to threaten the Empire and making themselves rather than the Emperor the target of any alliance seeking to overthrow the current order. For me the most interesting adversaries are always the other clans. I wouldn't call them enemies per se (though depending on the era clans have certainly been enemies to one another), but they all serve their own interests - and are in fact duty-bound to do so. When there are that many great powers in Rokugan, all with conflicting interests, you don't really need an obvious baddie. That doesn't mean bringing up any of the usual suspects every now and then can't be a really good idea, not at all, but once you expose them they become straightforward to deal with. Not necessarily easy, but straightforward. If your antagonist is an Oni or a maho tsukai, you can do whatever you want to take them down and nobody will give you any trouble. If you find your antagonists have samurai status and connections in court and will enjoy the protection of their lord to a certain extent, then the challenge becomes dealing with all the potential fallout. That's where the fun is. I'd still love a sourcebook detailing "enemy" factions, it's just not a priority for me. If we get one down the road, I'd like to see Daigotsu and the Spider clan included though.
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