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VinolyRavioli

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  1. Hello everyone, I just got the corebook and am about to start an adventure. I have not played this version of l5r before, but I'm very excited. The system is very interesting, and I'm a particular fan of the flexibility it allows. However, some of the rules seem woefully unbalanced, and I'm wondering if anyone has found a particularly elegant solution. The biggest issue here is the earth ring with regards to combat. It seems so much better than all of the others it's hard to grasp how it happened. Firstly, it increases your endurance, which is effectively your health in this game. So a high earth+fire character can use their earth to fight and have more hp. This would be no issue at all, as the game has a built in system around this: critical strikes. Except that earth also makes you immune to random critical strikes until your endurance is drained. So it forces your opponent to deal with you in the way that you're strongest. The dueling system(and skirmishes by way of challenge) has a clever way around this in that you can get a free critical by compromising your opponent. Alright a little niche, but at least there's a way around the otherwise impregnable earth. Except wrong again, because earth also contributes to composure, so it also makes you one of the harder characters to compromise. Again I haven't actually gotten to play just yet, so maybe there are counters I haven't found to this, but this just seems insane to me. Add onto that that a hida defender can subtract their armor+school rank from crits that do get through and it makes other schools+rings look like a joke. (I've considered the predict action, but this requires you to give up your attack for the round. So you don't get to attack and the earth bushi gets to just use his second highest ring. Doesn't even have to take the 4 strife because he knows you're predicting earth). On the other side of the spectrum there's the air ring. This seems woefully under-powered in combat. I wouldn't be bothered by this if the kakita duelists didn't lean so heavily air. Given they're supposed to be the best duelists, it's incredibly odd that their favored ring is so useless in duels. +1TN to hit is so much worse than other options like earth, specifically in duels. If your opponent has to land a crit on you then earth stance just forces that option away unless they can compromise you, plus you get more composure from the high earth ring. Air is open to random crits and has lower composure. The opponent just needs 1 extra success. This feels trivial compared to other rings. I could also get into the kakita academy school ability, but I think I'll just focus on the air ring here. Finally, iaijutsu duels. If it isn't obvious yet, I'm a sucker for the classic one strike duels. The problem is that the current duel system is built to facilitate any sort of duel, and so it isn't balanced for iaijutsu. It appears the best strategy is draw immediately and begin swinging, hoping for that lucky crit. The strife system(per round, betting for initiative, and instant crit) is really interesting, but I don't see how it would actually work. There isn't a significant advantage to having the initiative inside of a duel, and there aren't enough avenues of applying strife to your opponent in the duel, so it ends up being a timer on the lower composure character. And, coming off the previous point, the crane are some of the worst in this area. They dont have earth or fire for their composure, they dont have earth to avoid the lucky crit, and they dont have fire to apply extra strife on their opponent. More importantly than all of that though, the problem is the rules incentivize the immediate draw and strike. This is woefully out of line with the lore. I was thinking of adding something like "the first person to strike does so with a +1 or +2TN, and if the attack fails to crit they suffer 4 strife and the opponent immediately gets an attempt at a counter strike with no increase to the TN. This would force players to use the focus action until they were confident they could land a hit, but not so soon that the opponent reaches that goal first. Also, seems like an obvious choice but I think rising blade should be allowed in place of the free finishing strike on compromised opponents. The way rising blade works is specifically to do this, it shouldn't be less helpful in duels. tl;dr: Earth too strong in combat. Beats crits, conventional damage, and strife. Air too weak: +1TN to hit does not match up Iaijutsu duels poorly facilitated by the current duel system If anyone has any clever fixes to any or all of these problems I would be really happy to hear them. The core mechanics of this game are so riveting, I don't want it to fall apart because of some simple imbalances.
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