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ericmackcarter

My Brief Letter to FFG

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This post is entirely my opinion. I hope this is obvious. I consider myself an L5R purist, which doesn't really mean anything, especially because my "perfect" L5R could be different from yours. And I'll probably get some things wrong, too.

Part 1: Nostalgia

I was born in 1986, and L5R was my prominent hobby during my formative years. I played L5R from the beginning, and in nearly every form. The CCG, RPG, Clan War, Disk Wars, a dice game I can't remember the name of. I remember the Day of Thunder as it happened. I will never forget opening the Crane starter deck that had Togashi Yokuni, and knowing I would always play Dragon Clan, and then being completely amazed when I found out he was an ACTUAL DRAGON, and the heartbreak of his sacrifice. And of course the smell of opening the packs. As a youth, I dreamed of living in Rokugan and wondering if I would be a Mirumoto or a Togashi. And with the RPG, I didn't have to dream.

Part 2: What L5R is to me (and why I stopped)

L5R is a game about samurai conflict in a warring state. The key word there is samurai. Looking back at the origin of the game, the characters felt human. My interest began to fade right around the time riding sea dragons became a thing. Magic always was a part of Rokugan, but it became so high magic that the characters felt less human and the game felt less authentic (and I use that term loosely) to the samurai genre.

The right amount of magic in Rokugan is this: you barely notice when it is there, and you barely notice when it is not there. Of course, powerful displays of magic have always been embedded within the rich history of Rokugan, as they should continue to be. But I'd rather "mystical" be the appropriate term, rather than "magical". Present, but subtle.

Part 3: Redesigning (Thematically)

It's time to write a new story. The origin of Rokugan, the great Kami and their Clans, is a great starting point. Keep that. Everything else can go. Find a way to tell a new story with completely new characters, but make the story about samurai drama. There are so many tales that could be told. Every battle has a unique story, every Winter Court, but the most memorable stories are those that are grounded in the human element. Draw from Japanase folklore and mythology. Make it personable, and show the struggle of balancing honor and duty, duty and self.

"Everything else can go" is scary, but nobody is taking any memories or accomplishments away. A timeline where the Battle of Beiden Pass doesn't exist is weird to me, but quite frankly, it is also the only reason I am here and posting this: a completely fresh look at L5R and Rokugan. For me, wiping the slate clean is the most appealing for the future. The past will always be there as players of a game, but it doesn't have to be as characters within Rokugan.

Simplify. Each Great Clan was originally based on a tenent of Bushido. Scale back to the original seven. I'm sure there is still room in the design to somehow include Minor Clans, mytical creatures, and ronin. But focus on making the Great Clans great. Focus on their conflicts.

Part 4: Redesigning (Mechanically)

Make L5R YOUR own game. Don't make it a re-hash of AEG's game. Start with an idea, or a set of ideals (samurai, honor, politiics, war, duels, etc) and make a game to fit them. Pretend you've never played the CCG or the RPG. Test your mechanics. And test them again and again, try to break them. Make the game simple enough to balance, but complex enough that SKILL is the prominent deciding factor for who wins. Never make a play style that doesn't let the other player or players play.

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Part 2: What L5R is to me (and why I stopped)

L5R is a game about samurai conflict in a warring state. The key word there is samurai. Looking back at the origin of the game, the characters felt human. My interest began to fade right around the time riding sea dragons became a thing. Magic always was a part of Rokugan, but it became so high magic that the characters felt less human and the game felt less authentic (and I use that term loosely) to the samurai genre.

The right amount of magic in Rokugan is this: you barely notice when it is there, and you barely notice when it is not there. Of course, powerful displays of magic have always been embedded within the rich history of Rokugan, as they should continue to be. But I'd rather "mystical" be the appropriate term, rather than "magical". Present, but subtle.

 

I'm 100% behind this. I would like to haven written this myself but I didn't know what I was looking for exactly. Interesting samurai and their conflicts with self, bushido, (duty to) their clan and the empire in a mystical setting it is.

Edited by Mig el Pig

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I agree and disagree. Epic scale magic should be exceptional, but we should also sometimes get those exceptions.

 

Like, if a story arc is 6 packs and a box, you build slowly through the packs, and you earn the conflagration in the box.

 

But generally, I do agree that the setting as presented in the CCG was too over the top for my liking.

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Part 2: What L5R is to me (and why I stopped)
L5R is a game about samurai conflict in a warring state. The key word there is samurai. Looking back at the origin of the game, the characters felt human. My interest began to fade right around the time riding sea dragons became a thing. Magic always was a part of Rokugan, but it became so high magic that the characters felt less human and the game felt less authentic (and I use that term loosely) to the samurai genre.

 

 

This and I used the sea dragons in a lot of events during Lotus Edition, it always felt dirty.

 


 

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I mean, at the start of the game it was a story about rampaging hordes of demons, ogres, goblins, magical scrolls, mighty wizards, fire-breathing tattooed men, honorable samurai wielding sacred swords imbued with great power and tradition, gods, dark gods, prophecies, and mystical elemental rings/pursuit of enlightenment, followed by faceless reality-warping shadowspawn, followed by glowy star-wars ghosts.  The low-fantasy focus is distinctly not what I remember about the origin of the game :)  Course, there were times where magic was over-used... a lot.  Like, the entire Iuchi-Zilla/SezaruBot9000 storyline was more hamfisted than some manner of Pigsby's Crushing Hand spell.

Edited by IsawaChuckles

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Print more beautiful Crane girls with enchanting flavor text.

 

Want place where Ashigaru and Ronin have a place

Want place where Magic is more select, and mystical powers are granted more by the divine than obscure artifacts

Want place where the mortal man struggles against not only against himself, other men, and beasts as well as against tradition and the divine

Want place where there is heavy tradition and a number of those who defy it

Want place where the Mystical divine are not common place like Dragons appearing before entire armies or Personifications of the Kami.

 

I want it that if I step in as a common man, I would feel astounded and perplexed at the simplest of things, like perhaps a monk hoping on one foot. That when I see heroes fight things against tremendous odds I would feel awed and inspired.

 

I want to find serenity in a simple setting of tea. I want to be intrigued by a simple innocent conversation. I want to see through the eyes of a commander leading a small party of warriors, or a champion determining even small decisions that will send tremendous ripples of consequences and plays through the ranks.

 

I want to be in the middle of a battle, heavily engaged, where one losses his thoughts, where perceptions are changed and codes are broken, or where honor is kept.

 

I want to laugh at the conversations and little jests they make, and the actions they do to make their lives or others better or worst.

 

I want to live it. That is what I want to experience in L5R.

 

That feeling of awe, hate, happiness and appreciation of brilliance of things great and small.

Like reading a book for the very first time then wanting to read it over again.

 

I'm asking too much yes, but that is how I fell in love with the game.

We deserve it for making it what it is today.

 

It is mostly us players who tell and teach other people of the wonderful world L5R is,

we deserve that it remains so.

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Part 2: What L5R is to me (and why I stopped)

L5R is a game about samurai conflict in a warring state. The key word there is samurai. Looking back at the origin of the game, the characters felt human. My interest began to fade right around the time riding sea dragons became a thing. Magic always was a part of Rokugan, but it became so high magic that the characters felt less human and the game felt less authentic (and I use that term loosely) to the samurai genre.

 

 

Yeah, it's a balance right? How much is too much, and all?

 

I'd be curious to see a rundown of Imperial and see how much was really low vs. high fantasy in the very first set (using the term loosely).

 

I suspect that the amount of high fantasy/powerful magic stuff is being inflated in our memories because of the way the arc ended, and the game actually *built* to that. But I could be way off. Way, waaaaaay off. ;)

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As I said in the op, I'm not opposed to magic, even powerful magic, or even weird magic (magical tattoos are real cool AND thematic), but magic should feel more personal. Its not a part of daily life, except as to interact or appease the kami. Flip through the Way of [Clan] series in the RPG and THAT is the feel of Rokugan as I know it.

Look at the art of Togashi Yokuni, Mirumoto Sukune, Mirumoto Hitomi, Mirumoto Daini, Togashi Gaijutsu, Togashi Mitsu, Hida Kisada, Hida Amoro, Hida Tampako, Hida O-Ushi, Kakita Yuri, Matsu Gohei, Matsu Tsuki, Isawa Takada, Shiba Kyo, Shiba Ujimitsu, Bayushi Dairu, Bayushi Aramoro, Bayushi Kachiko, The False Hoturi, Otaku Kamoko, Shinjo Yokatsu. That is what Rokugan looks like to me. The cover of the 1st Edition RPG. Pretty much the entire 1st Edition RPG.

And I might take some heat for this: but Rokugan is better when it tries to be Japan (at least the romanticized version of fuedal Japan).

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Rokugan is better when it tries to be Japan mashed with China mashed with Korea, threw into a mixer, and with black teeth removed in favor of things that don't alienate modern western reader completely, but also without making it obvious orientalism. 

Then again, that would require a lot of research and love for the east. 

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Rokugan is better when it tries to be Japan mashed with China mashed with Korea, threw into a mixer, and with black teeth removed in favor of things that don't alienate modern western reader completely, but also without making it obvious orientalism. 

Then again, that would require a lot of research and love for the east.

Also works best when at least a couple people on the team speak fluent Rokugani, or at least its real-world counterpart.

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Seems Iam in the minority when I wish for that L5R does not become a setting in which Magic is something Rare. Actually I really like the option to have powerful magic or not cause as it is now you can adjust the level for your private playgorup to the level you want since the 4th edition is not time specific anymore and you total can play in other times and versions of rokugan.

Adjusting down as  Gamemaster is easier as adjusting the Mgaic level up and invent new spells. So instead of limiting the overall Magic precence I would like to see option which gan give the master th option to limit it if he wants cause I for my part like Wuxia and super human Samurai with magic cause if I want a realistic setting I go out and live in the real world were Iam limited enough allready. 

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Seems Iam in the minority when I wish for that L5R does not become a setting in which Magic is something Rare. Actually I really like the option to have powerful magic or not cause as it is now you can adjust the level for your private playgorup to the level you want since the 4th edition is not time specific anymore and you total can play in other times and versions of rokugan.

Adjusting down as  Gamemaster is easier as adjusting the Mgaic level up and invent new spells. So instead of limiting the overall Magic precence I would like to see option which gan give the master th option to limit it if he wants cause I for my part like Wuxia and super human Samurai with magic cause if I want a realistic setting I go out and live in the real world were Iam limited enough allready. 

 

All of this really only applies to the RPG. It seems like most in this thread are talking primarily about the C/LCG. Which is not to say your comment doesn't belong, just that what you say about adjustment isn't really a thing people can do (practically speaking) in the LCG, so they have to ask FFG to present the level they want.

 

Customization in all directions is much, much easier in an RPG, and powerful options can be presented in the RPG without necessarily being included in the LCG.

 

I could also see FFG breaking out their RPG books like they've done with 40k and Star Wars. Maybe that will reflect different levels of magic (whether by portraying different eras; or one core book each for the bushi game, the courtier game, and the shugenja game, or whatever).

Edited by BD Flory

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It's also worth consideration that the maximum strength of magic as presented in the RPG does not have to reflect the actual strength of magic in the "default" version of Rokugan; that is, he version reflected in the canon storyline. 

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MarthWMaster, on 22 Sept 2015 - 8:14 PM, said:

It's also worth consideration that the maximum strength of magic as presented in the RPG does not have to reflect the actual strength of magic in the "default" version of Rokugan; that is, he version reflected in the canon storyline. 

 

Actually it should cause having a difference between canon and application of the world in the RPG will frustrate players who want to play in the default Rokugan Canon right away without making adjustments. Also itis a bad move if you go for a difference of the default seting with the default Canon level since players who buy the core book expect that it will refelct the Canon and nothing completly different.

 

Ah ok I actually did rad it as how I want to have the setting in general and not how it is applicated on the LCG or RPG cause actually nobody mentioned the LCG and since this is the only subforum for L5R people also talk about the RPG in it or the general setting is possible.

Edited by Teveshszat

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Ah ok I actually did rad it as how I want to have the setting in general and not how it is applicated on the LCG or RPG cause actually nobody mentioned the LCG and since this is the only subforum for L5R people also talk about the RPG in it or the general setting is possible.

 

 

It's not my place to tell people how to use the thread, I'm just saying that's how I read most of the earlier comments. :)

 

I do wish people would be clearer in distinguishing whether they're talking RPG, C/LCG, or both, because it makes all kinds of conversations potentially very confusing. I'm certainly guilty of this as well.

Edited by BD Flory

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I do wish people would be clearer in distinguishing whether they're talking RPG, C/LCG, or both, because it makes all kinds of conversations potentially very confusing. I'm certainly guilty of this as well.

 

Good point there. Thing is that is not so easy when we talk about the story and setting in General cause it can be applied to both but yeah a  clear way to differ between LCG/RPG and Setting in gneral would be cool. 

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Actually it should cause having a difference between canon and application of the world in the RPG will frustrate players who want to play in the default Rokugan Canon right away without making adjustments. Also itis a bad move if you go for a difference of the default seting with the default Canon level since players who buy the core book expect that it will refelct the Canon and nothing completly different.

 

 

It's pretty easy to include chapters on different styles and power levels, as a toolkit.

 

Although given FFG's other product lines, I rather expect that different styles of game will actually be different games. As mentioned upthread, a la Star Wars and 40K.

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Although given FFG's other product lines, I rather expect that different styles of game will actually be different games. As mentioned upthread, a la Star Wars and 40K.

This would IMO be a far better approach. When presented as a panoramic setting, L5R does not lend itself very well to the traditional pick-up-and-play roleplaying experience. While the AEG rulebooks have offered various archetypes that can facilitate a group setup, unrestricted character-building in the style of traditional roleplaying games does not work as well here, simply because characters from various clans and backgrounds do not necessarily fit together, and the "adventuring party" is not the typical kind of campaign one expects to find in this game. Giving each of the samurai classes: bushi, courtiers, and shugenja, an entire core book to build from, would make it far easier for GMs to run a consistent campaign in which expectations are made clear to everyone.

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