Info about my playtest group: 7 (including me) middle-aged men all with strong tech backgrounds. 10+ years of role-playing with this group with role-playing experience ranging from 20+years to half-a-year. Play once a week starting at 6pm and ending around 2am. 50% of the time we play, the rest of the time we goof off. Extensively played the d20 as well as the 4th edition systems of L5R. Several rules-lawyers, power-gamers, and role-players. I'm the only person with strong lore knowledge in the setting and I'm the GM.
Last night, Oct 18, the group created characters, spun up on the rules and I familiarized myself with the adventure. We will have the rules lawyers learn how to engage the play mechanics, the power-gamers taught everyone how to make characters and the role-players sorted out the options and depths of techniques and various customizations.
Things we liked:
Role-players liked Q4 "How does your character stand out within their school?" It allows them to build depth into their character that comes with a history and a mechanical benefit.
GM liked the Discord wheel. Making a mechanic that randomly selects characters to be picked on may alleviate the disruptive persecution complex that forms from player to GM.
Power-gamers liked the spot on the character sheet where you can write down the page number of the technique being referenced.
GM: Hard setting the max TN to 8 is unnecessarily restrictive (pg13/step 2/point 4/1st sentence). Only describe up to 8, there is no reason to force people to house-rule above 8 checks. My play group has multiple power-gamers. One of them will figure out how to get 9+ successes and will try and leverage it somehow. Keeping it open-ended in the book allows it to be explored at a later date.
GM: "Asking the Players" sidebar on page 179. This sidebar discusses how to get the players to use their advantages. My group suffers from the opposite problem of trying to over-apply their advantages. The rules, as written, allow for seriously open-ended use of skills and techniques. Sidebars on how to keep it from getting out of hand would help.
Power gamers: Have skepticism over using the question method for character creation instead of an XP spend as in the 4th edition rule book. I expected the role-players to like the question method, but that wasn't the case. The question method feels constraining. (Though one of my power-gamers liked the question method, because there weren't any rules keeping him from min-maxing everything. He just had to answer questions in such a way as to get what he wanted.)
Everyone: Ninjo and Giri really require GM and even player collaboration to make the Discord Wheel operable. I had to basically have everyone go through the "Ronin's Path" introduction so players could create Ninjo and Giri that would be applicable to the adventure.
Power gamers: pg50 in the Rank 1 advancement table for Kitsuki Investigator School Advancement Table. "Slippery Maneuvers" is listed under Rank 1, but the description on pg138 says that it has a school rank of 2. There are a bunch of these kinds of inconsistencies in the Adv Tables. It drives power-gamers nuts.
Overall, the group likes what they see. The rules have changed, but not enough for them to feel out-of-place or confused about basic concepts. The dice change is exciting, but the group needs to see it in action before they gush or complain about it. Everyone cheered when they had to roll a 10-sided dice to determine Samurai Heritage from Table 2-1 on page 42/43. D10 love is hard to shake.
We'll start the adventure next week. I'll report back how the rules were engaged.