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  1. Yes, I would allow Courtier's Resolve to be used in any kind of conflict, whether it's a duel, skirmish, mass battle, or intrigue, as long as there wasn't some strong, overriding narrative reason not to. In fact, it looks like a good technique to have in a duel. Courtier's Resolve is a support action, which can be used in duels, and it has an instant duration so it isn't narratively jarring the way a long ritual or crafting activity might be. As with all techniques, however, I would probably encourage the player to briefly describe what taking that action looks like, describe the character's internal feelings, or something else that adds to the story. So, while I wouldn't rule against using the technique on the basis of the rules, it would still be incumbent on the player to sort of justify using it by contributing to the story. Generally, I try to let the players attempt to use their special techniques unless there is a clear rule saying that they can't or if it's narratively clunky, but they can't, or won't, justify it (probably because they are just trying to pull a fast-one on me and just grabbed whatever technique they had). After all, these techniques are what make their characters feel powerful and special and the players built these characters specifically so they can do this cool stuff. I'm more picky and prescriptive, however, when it comes to choosing skills and approaches. The high water, high courtesy courtier player is going to try to solve everything with a friendly speech, but sometimes what the player describes sounds more like a fiery command so I would make them roll those dice instead. In the worst case, the player grumbles about not being able to use their min-maxed stats they way they had thought, but they still get to attempt to do what they wanted. That's not the case with techniques where I can't easily suggest an alternative and the player ends up feeling left out if I just say "no" instead of "yes, but". Side note, I think the final duel in The Last Jedi (the one on the salt planet) started off as: "Your enemy successfully uses Lord Akodo's Roar." "Oh, yeah? Well I use Courtier's Resolve!" **brushes shoulder**
  2. There are a few other thoughts I'd like to share. First, do you have a courtier character that hasn't been in the spotlight as much? I've noticed our party's courtiers don't get to do as many cool things in combat and I worry that they feel left out so setting up an important Intrigue scene once in a while gives them a chance to use their special techniques and save the day for once. Second, I've used Intrigue scenes as a way for the players to dictate what happens next. It's sort of a GM cheat. Say that the players are part of a larger group that is going to storm a castle. Start an Intrigue scene with the leading commander and advisers and have the players make their cases for how to storm the castle. If they are successful then not only did they impress the commander, but they might get to implement parts of the final plan and I now know what the big battle scene should include.
  3. Good question. I don't have a great handle on it yet, but I now only bring out the Intrigue rules when: All of the players would want to participate The results matter significantly and there is a good chance the players could fail The scene is a little more formal and would have some kind of structure or rules of decorum (a council meeting, formal negotiation, or banquet for example) Turn order might matter Either: PCs have competing agendas, Or at least one NPC has an agenda other than the PCs' agenda and there is a chance one or both agendas could fail It would be fun That last part is probably the most important. I've dragged out the Intrigue rules when I shouldn't have just because I could and no one liked it. I've also run back-and-forth squabbles between players and NPCs with a minimum of structure. It went well, but players instinctively wanted to roll inititative and invoke the whole Intrigue apparatus. So, for me the most important consideration has been, would it be fun to stop the action and insert this mini-game that will take longer or should we just do some role-play, shake a few dice, and move on?
  4. Good question and I've enjoyed reading the responses. I've been giving out about 1 XP per hour played, but with other bonuses. Players get an additional 1 or 2X P for successfully completing a story or solving a major problem (like finishing the Beginners Game and saving Harukage). Players can also receive 1 XP between sessions if they write up a good couple of paragraphs chronicling the last session on our group Discord. Sometimes, I'll run between-session downtime activities on Discord as well and players can earn the occasional 1 XP that way. For example, they all had the option of writing in-character "letters" (correspondence, journal entries, poetry, prayers, oaths, etc.) that gave some insight into their ninjos and giris. All told, it probably adds up to about 1.5 XP per hour played in person. That feels slow. We aren't playing as often as you are so the players have more time to think about what techniques they want next and some of them already know how they would spend their next 10 XP or so. One of the players felt that his character was under-powered at rank 1 and another wanted to set up some cool technique synergies so I was glad they leveled up as quickly as they did. Then again, this is everyone's first time playing with this system so letting them learn at rank 1 probably helped. If we ever started a new campaign with the same players though, I would probably just ask them what rank we should play at or give them thirty to fifty XP to start with, but ratchet down the pace of advancement by about half.
  5. "3-5 players" includes the GM, but.... The Beginner Game includes folios for four pre-made player characters. Add in the GM and you have a maximum of five players. Later, however, Fantasy Flight released additional character folios designed for the Beginner Game. Those are on the L5R RPG products page under the Player Resources section: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/legend-of-the-five-rings-roleplaying-game/ You should see character folios for three additional Beginner Game characters: Hida Sugi of the Crab, Bayushi Kyo of the Scorpion, and Shinjo Takuya of the Unicorn. There is also a blank Beginner Game folio in the same section in case you wanted to go even bigger. Having said that, playing a game with more than one GM and four player characters can get unwieldy and each players gets less time in the spot light. Fortunately, the Beginner Game story is fairly railroaded so it's not a big problem there. Also, with a large group, inevitably someone won't like the game or won't be able schedule in further sessions. Unless you have enough people to warrant two groups, my suggestion would be to play the Beginner Game with the big group so everyone can learn about the mechanics and setting and then continue a full campaign with whoever still wants/is still able to play. If you do manage to run five players with different tastes, experiences, and expectations through a demonstration of a new (and moderately complicated) rule-set and all five of them want to stick around for a full campaign, congratulations, you are probably a wonderful GM and phenomenal scheduler and I would want to be your sixth player.
  6. Go here: https://github.com/dashnine/PaperBlossoms Then, click the Releases tag and pick one. 1.22 appears to be the latest version as of September, 2019.
  7. I swear I'm not working for the person who wrote ToH:Emerald Empire, but it has some of things a few of you have mentioned. There are both groups and individuals, often with special powers like kata or invocations. I'm thinking of printing it all out and trying it with circular cut-out pictures for the units before buying up a bunch of plastic. Take a look at the cards for the Crane units here: https://e38fba34-edd7-44ec-a3a5-c6f39916b7e8.filesusr.com/ugd/09bcee_f149193a62d647f4af33678a7d57e257.pdf?index=true. Shugenja and invocation cards are here: https://e38fba34-edd7-44ec-a3a5-c6f39916b7e8.filesusr.com/ugd/09bcee_1b99d7f82d06486294b142fce8b87e0f.pdf?index=true
  8. There is a great looking L5R-based ruleset/conversion available for Test of Honour. Test of Honour is a samurai era skirmish game (https://testofhonour.com/) that looks good in an of itself and is now in it's second edition. Test of Honour: Emerald Empire is a set of rules changes and character cards that converts base ToH to an L5R setting (https://www.dojotabletop.com/emeraldempire). The author's website seems to have trouble loading sometime so be patient. When it loads, scroll to the bottom to see the materials available for download and the Test of Honour miniatures painted in Rokugani clan colors.
  9. Everything Magnus said mirrors my understanding of the rules as well. One detail not mentioned in the original post, however, is that damage comes in two varieties, physical and spiritual. You may already know this, but it's worth talking about in case any new players are reading this. In the example above, if the damage inflicted was physical, the ashigaru armor would reduce fatigue inflicted by 3 since ashigaru armor works against physical damage. If the damage inflicted were spiritual, however, the ashigaru armor wouldn't reduce the fatigue inflicted and the character would suffer all 5 fatigue. In either case, the character would still suffer an additional critical strike of severity 7, as Magnus described. Sanctified robes are one of the few pieces of equipment I can think of that offer resistance to spiritual damage.
  10. Here are a few things that helped us: Take a minute to explain/remind players that the scale of combat is greater than in a skirmish and that they are commanding a large group. Having your character successfully swing a sword or fire a bow is not the same as encouraging/ordering troops to do so. They will be using different skills and trying to achieve different things. Remind players that they are not limited to the handful of actions listed in the Mass Battle rules and encourage them to be creative. It might help to ask them what they want their cohort to achieve each turn (take that hill, hold this position, reinforce the gates, etc.) rather than what they want to do (assault, move, etc.). If it fits the situation, give players time before the battle to prepare. They might lead workers in setting up barricades, meditate on the battle to come, seek divine assistance, talk to the troops, etc. Then, try to incorporate these things in the battle by having a barricade position, having traps be set, losing strife or getting some bonus, seeing higher morale among the troops, etc. Use a simple map, only for reference. Mass Battles are fluid and troops are supposed to be able to move about and reinforce each other a bit, but it helped us to have a simple map with a few bits of terrain and simple pieces for each cohort. In our case, it mattered which way the cohorts were facing or marching because they could be flanked, resulting in a bonus. Be creative in describing cohorts so the players can tell them apart. Rather than samurai groups 1, 2, and 3, they could be a contingent of Daidoji harriers, ashigaru spearmen, and peasant levies. If they have small mechanical differences, great, but even if they are only different thematically, that would help. Track Panic and Attrition publicly and give narrative queues like "your ashigaru spearman repel the assualt, taking minimal casualties, but they are visibly shaken and may break soon." Have fun and let us know how it goes.
  11. The Ivory Kingdoms apparently have five factions, "the ruling Sheelavaan, the Mukka religious sect, the Saamrajya monarchy, the Tajir traders, and the Naga serpent folk". For what it's worth, a quick online check found that "Sheelavaan" is Hindi for "urbane" and "Mukka" is a town in Karnataka state, but I don't know if the word has other significance. "Sammrajya" is Hindi for "empire" or "kingdom", and "Tajir" is used in Indonesian, Arabic, and Urdu to mean "merchant". I'm not a speaker of any of these languages. That's just what came up in a Google search.
  12. I made a big Excel sheet of names and their definitions with the data from https://www.momjunction.com/baby-names/japanese/#gref. You can change the national origin of the name by using the drop-down box at menu at the top. I also included Chinese, Mongolian, and Korean names in my list because in our Rokugan some people have those. Like Harzerkatze, I'll sometimes pick a name based on it's meaning if it's relevant to the game and then see if any player figures it out. One NPC gave her name as the Mongolian word for "nobody" and only the Unicorn PC knows that she might be hiding something.
  13. Don't forget that spending two opportunity on a Strike action inflicts a critical strike. This has ended a few skirmishes at my table rather quickly. Rather than see fights drag on, we've had well armored foes losing limbs and even dying on the first and second rounds of combat due to very lucky rolls by the players and good tactical use of things like stance, assistance, and terrain. That doesn't address your second concern, though since these characters were still terribly wounded despite being well armored.
  14. My Moto family meishodo wielder with high Water and Earth was fun. He doesn't carry a sword, but can cast Staff of the Sorcerer (Bo of Water) when needed and if he gets an opportunity he can summon up a scimitar on the spot. That and his high endurance make him a decent melee fighter. It was fun playing up some of his foreign habits too. Unfortunately, I've only been able to play him when one of my players takes a shot at running the game.
  15. It must be a narwhal with legs. "He's a mysterious Moto with a dark past and a thirst for vengeance. She is a maho-mutated narwhal with a chipper demeanor and a knack for gadgets. Together, they fight crime!" These campaigns write themselves.
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