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My Thoughts on Shadowlands in L5R Card Game

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I mean, let's face it, Kali-Ma was an absolute bust because all she ever amounted to was a "Boss Monster."

We're also past the age where we ought to be characterizing widely-worshipped deities as pure evil. Whatever Temple of Doom might suggest to the contrary, Kali-Ma is by no means a trivial figure in Hinduism. Edited by MarthWMaster

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I am going to echo a lot of the sentiments around here. Are "boss monsters" a good thing in L5R? Only when they're developed as interesting characters.

This isn't a SNES game. Even most video games have gone well beyond the big, monstrous critter crashing through the wall and trying to eat your heroes in all of their 16-bit glory. Kali-Ma did indeed come across like a random boss monster. That's why she was boring. Some of the old school oni were, occasionally, portrayed as little more than boss monsters (despite the intelligence and insidiousness of most oni).

Great heroes absolutely need stronger villains. If your heroic struggle involves beating up on people weaker than you, you're not a hero- you're a bully. That said, part of being a stronger villain is having that development/personality that transcends being just another boss monster. A strong 'boss monster' also needs to be a strong character. While the rampaging stupid ogre may make for a great one-shot baddie once in awhile, he pales in comparison to your tsukai, brutal warlords, corrupt courtiers, etc. that think and feel.

That said, this ties into why I think the Shadowlands should continue being a playable faction. Their availability as another group players invest themselves in encourages developing the denizens of the Shadowlands into more than just 'funny' goblins and big mean demons for the Crab to smack their tetsubos into. While it may lend itself to some game design issues, I think the Shadowlands need to be more than just the generic, monstrous bad guys.

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Without villains, there is no story.

Without a good villains, there is no good story.

Sometimes the most compelling stories are the ones without clearcut heroes and villains.

 

In this case there is, in the very case, still an antagonist (who it is depends on perspective). In which case, the same logic applies.

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Without villains, there is no story.

Without a good villains, there is no good story.

Sometimes the most compelling stories are the ones without clearcut heroes and villains.

 

this is why people like Sezaru, Daigotsu and Hitomi remain epic characters in the game. They dance around on both sides of that line. they do good things, they do bad things. they do bad things for good reasons, they do good things for bad reasons. these are really human characteristics, and that makes them interesting. granted, sezaru was bugnuts, so theres that. 

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 Without villains, there is no story.

Without a good villains, there is no good story.

Sometimes the most compelling stories are the ones without clearcut heroes and villains.

this is why people like Sezaru, Daigotsu and Hitomi remain epic characters in the game. They dance around on both sides of that line. they do good things, they do bad things. they do bad things for good reasons, they do good things for bad reasons. these are really human characteristics, and that makes them interesting. granted, sezaru was bugnuts, so theres that. 

 

And hear I think is where the thread starter is absolutely right.

The villains should transcend the clans - and I think by having a sensei available to all of them.

 

Everyone could pick a Clan and could draw in a secondary force which is distinct from the Clans (either heroic or villainous).

This would fit beautifully in the mechanics of the game and would give the Villains a more omnipresent feel to them.

None of the 1 vs 8 Clans match up anymore.

 

8 Strongholds

  • Lion Clan
  • Crane Clan
  • Phoenix Clan
  • Dragon Clan
  • Unicorn Clan
  • Crab Clan
  • Minor Clans
  • Scorpion Clan

4 Heroic Senseis

  • The Brotherhood (Monks)
  • The Akasha (Naga)
  • Br'nn (Nezumi)
  • Utagawa (Ronin)

4 Villainous Senseis

  • The Horde (Oni, Ogre, Undead, ...)
  • Daigotsu (Daigotsu, Chuda, Susumu)
  • Shadow Dragon (Goju, Ninube)
  • Master Tiger (Kolat)

And we would also have more or less every faction in existence in the game.

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I couldn't see Naga or Nezumi making an appearance for quite some time in the LCG.  Some neutral sensei might work too, but represent different ways the overall society could change. Sensei like Ashigaru, merchant class, the Imperial Families, or Kolat.

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this is why people like Sezaru, Daigotsu and Hitomi remain epic characters in the game. They dance around on both sides of that line. they do good things, they do bad things. they do bad things for good reasons, they do good things for bad reasons. these are really human characteristics, and that makes them interesting. granted, sezaru was bugnuts, so theres that. 

 

...

 

To say Daigotsu "danced around" the line between hero and villain is drawing a pretty large margin on credulity.

 

At his most "heroic," he was simply Doctor Doom going, "no, you can't blow that up, I plan on taking it." In short, he was a villain who occasionally opposed outright monsters, and who was capable of not immediately throwing his fellow villains under the bus..

 

Sezaru went absolutely insane. So did Hitomi. Difference there is, she got better-ish, whereas Sezaru just exploded.

 

If you want to look at the hero?/villain? mess, I'd suggest Jimen/Noritoshi- Jimen is definitely a villain, but that did not, in and of itself, make Noritoshi a hero.

Edited by Shiba Gunichi

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this is why people like Sezaru, Daigotsu and Hitomi remain epic characters in the game. They dance around on both sides of that line. they do good things, they do bad things. they do bad things for good reasons, they do good things for bad reasons. these are really human characteristics, and that makes them interesting. granted, sezaru was bugnuts, so theres that. 

 

...

 

To say Daigotsu "danced around" the line between hero and villain is drawing a pretty large margin on credulity.

 

At his most "heroic," he was simply Doctor Doom going, "no, you can't blow that up, I plan on taking it." In short, he was a villain who occasionally opposed outright monsters, and who was capable of not immediately throwing his fellow villains under the bus..

 

Sezaru went absolutely insane. So did Hitomi. Difference there is, she got better-ish, whereas Sezaru just exploded.

 

If you want to look at the hero?/villain? mess, I'd suggest Jimen/Noritoshi- Jimen is definitely a villain, but that did not, in and of itself, make Noritoshi a hero.

 

daigotsu was an outright villain, but he acted like a hero. he was incredibly honorable, within the parameters of his own moral code/society. he adhered strictly to the religious faith that all rokugan demanded, he just worshipped the wrong god. He had a son he loved, who he then planned to raze an entire empire for. that mix and match of good and bad is what gave him a lot of depth. sezaru was a hero, unquestionably (he helped defeat the aforementioned dags afterall, and was the son of the emperor), who also went horribly insane and had to be stopped like a monster. hitomi was a thunder, the definition of a hero, but who also became an outright villain (though iirc it wasn't ENTIRELY her fault. it was the nothing i think? or something like that), but then who became a divine being for a while, the Moon. My point is that these characters defied traditional characterization. they didn't adhere to the standard depictions, and thats what makes them interesting. i would actually refute the Jimen/Noritoshi example. i agree that Noritoshi wasn't a hero, but its because Jimen was so scene chewingly badly written as an over the top, twirl my mustache MUAHAHA villain that Noritoshi faded right into the background. he was functionally invisible in that feud. 

Edited by cielago

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Shadowlands is just a collection of slimes and goblins without Junzo, Fu Leng, Iuchiban, Daigotsu and their enforcers.
 

 

 

Evil monsters always need a Boss Monster or there is little climax to finishing the level.

 

So many things about this are the opposite of the way I hope FFG is thinking about L5R, at least for the LCG. It's not a video game.

 

I'm quoting this for emphasis...

BD and I differ in many ways on what we hope the emphasis of the game, design, and FFG's plans will be...

But "Boss Monsters" are something we evidently share a profound distaste for.Much as I think Daigotsu is a noxious growth the Spider Clan has never been able to escape from, what value he DOES have comes not from his being The Boss of the Shadowlands, but from his actions as a character.

It's why he still has a hold on a large fanbase, while Fu Leng has basically been allowed to lapse into obscurity. It's why Iuchiban being gone for good caused no real tears to be shed.

 

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And yet when led by "boss monster" types who didn't have anything else going on, they felt flat.

 

Kali-Ma was a dud.

Iuchiban's arc had its moments, but he himself fell on his face once he returned, and the interesting things the SL had going on were the elements that pre-dated his return.

Fu Leng turned into Cobra Commander, defeated with monotonous regularity.

 

Yogo Junzo, Daigotsu, Shahai, Kuni Yori- these were not "boss monsters." They were characters, characters with betrayals, loves, obsessions, and so on.

 

Kayomasa (a friggin' ogre, bear in mind) did more for the Shadowlands than Iuchiban did, because his personal code of honor and his devotion to Daigotsu were character elements. Had he just been "the baddest ogre around, and servant to Daigotsu," he would have been entirely forgettable.

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The idea of having Shadowlands not as a playable faction, but as an "add-on" that corrupts a deck (representing a portion of that deck's faction that is serving Jigoku) is a a rather interesting idea. It would open all of the other factions (and their respective themes) to current Shadowlands/Spider players, and is actually representative of the in-setting influence/impact of Jigoku.

 

I like it. I like it very much.

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I don´t really like the corruption Idea. While it may seem fun it is nothing I really want. The reason is that either you print cards with are limited to certain strategies or genral good ones both would lead to either the game of dice problem cause if you print them to strong the cards would become a must play or it would lead to a card which is fun but not strong enough to play it when you go for a actual competetive deck. Therefore balancing the shadowland corruption cards would be very difficult when you make them open for all.

 

I think I want to have the Spider/Shadowlands stay a playabkle faction for 

 

a) It gives you another target group for your game. Which are people who like the Darkmirror Anti Hero theme

 

b) It makes it easier to actually bring out balanced Shadowlan/Spider cards cause you can balance them arround the theme of the Clan and the fact that the clan don´t lose honor from own cards 

 

c) I really think the Spider Clan is a good addtion to the game when he finaly can find his place most likely as non offical clan or as a Shadowland Mirror of the normal Clan Structures in Rokugan

 

d) A exsiting Spider Clan/Shadowland faction provides you with better motivations and better characters than a NPC faction of pure taint and Oni could do in my opinion

 

Therefore I think I want that the Spider stay and not goes back to the be a side effect which only corrupts you deck but is not a playable faction on its own.

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The OP mentioned most of those points, and I find myself in agreement with him. I also think his balance/mechanical analysis of the Shadowlands faction is more accurate - suffice to say that one of the reasons for Spider to exist was the situation with Dishonor, that was created because Shadowlands was created with an immunity to it.

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Thing is that I find it easier to just finaly print loyal on the really strong Spider/Shaodwland cards than giving up a faction. I don´t think we need very powerful anti Shadowland stuff but maybe some general sweepers like the Mtg Wrath of God instead. Thing is easy while the festival which destroyed all Shadowlands becomes broken cause it can now destroya whole clan changing this card to a wrath of god and let it destroy personailities in genreal makes it more balanced cause it  effects your personalities too. 

 

there are so many way to get powerful Spider/Shadowland cards and counters to them without killing the factions that I really dislike the way to back to a npc version of it. The only thing which has to change really hard is the sacred cow of no control and combo decks in L5R cause this is what limits the balance to a great deal since you simply can´t print things like counterspell, Terror or wrath of god under this credo. 

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The only thing which has to change really hard is the sacred cow of no control and combo decks in L5R cause this is what limits the balance to a great deal since you simply can´t print things like counterspell, Terror or wrath of god under this credo.

I would really hate to see this game turn into stuff like:

"I AM THE GREAT AKUMA NO ONI. BOW BEFORE JIGOKU, OR SEE YOUR EMPIRE CRUMBLE BEFORE MY-"

"Counterspell."

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The only thing which has to change really hard is the sacred cow of no control and combo decks in L5R cause this is what limits the balance to a great deal since you simply can´t print things like counterspell, Terror or wrath of god under this credo.

I would really hate to see this game turn into stuff like:

"I AM THE GREAT AKUMA NO ONI. BOW BEFORE JIGOKU, OR SEE YOUR EMPIRE CRUMBLE BEFORE MY-"

"Counterspell."

 

This.

 

If I want to play MtG, I'll just sell my soul to Wizards of the Coast.

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Intresting is that we allready have counterspells. Inexorable, Impropperpapers and co are exactly this. They counter effects of card effect whch I really like cuase it brings some kind of interaction into the game and lets you actually defend yourself against some actions of other players.

I mean we should not go for counterspells for creatures, there I would go for unlimited kill actions but for strategy and equipement why not, It seems better to me than you play the accept game and look who has the better draw and line up.

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When you choose some cards over others during your deckbuilding, you should always sacrifice something. More kill actions rather than movement, survivability rather than honor building, etc.

If you want balanced control, you need to have sacrifices as well. An all-purpose counterspell is wrong, period. Cards with control element must have a cost. Maybe they only target attachments, turning into dead cards against decks lacking those éléments, or maybe they cost more to you than from your opponent. You want to dispel my Akuma? Pay the 20 gold I just paid, plus an extra 2 for good measure.

However, these cards are extremely hard to balance and influence the metagame a lot. It's not hard to miss an exploit or a gamebreaking combo when playtesting them. The point is, control is not inherently bad, it is simply much harder to balance it and make sûre everyone has a fighting chance and fun playing.

The question is, do you trust FFG to deliver?

Edited by Tetsuhiko

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I think the idea of Counterspell is so basic and universal. It can be found in all card games. 

However the Magic Coutnerspell is broad. You can cancel anything except for lands and things that are specifically immune against this. Which gives Magic and L5R a very distinct feeling how they handle counterspells.

 

On the point of Shadowlands hate cards: I think you have only two good options with it.

  1. The mechanic has to go and Shadowlands becomes more of a faction alignment. No stronger cards balanced by honor loss and Shadowlands hate, just balance them without these mechanic.
  2. You make it universally usable for all clans. and as much as it pains me to say the Spider have to go as a Stronghold faction with this approach, because they are more equal among the clans when it comes to the Shadowlands. This mechanics need s to be equal usable for all clans if it should have any meaning. And obviously Counter mechanics like Jade or loss of control over your own peeps makes this the more high risk high reward route compared to pure decks which would run more stable.

As I said before I think the Spider or the forces or Darkness to be more broad. This can be represented by a series of Sensei like they planed to to with the Mantis in Onyx allowing each of the Clans equal access to the corrupting powers. 

 

The longer I think about it I would like to have a conflict spanning across the clans like Shourido vs Bushido or Jade vs Shadowlands or Celestial Mandate vs The Power of Men.

However this can only be meaningful as long as the conflicts divides the Clan equally. It 8 Clans choose Bushido and 1 Shourido like in Samurai. It will be boring and ultimately meaningless. Again I like the Spider but they are problematic when building up these conflicts. 

I think the only conflict of the three I mentioned that could work among all Clans including the Spider would be Celestial Mandate vs The Power of Men.

Since even in the Spider it could cause a rift since Daigotsu want to reestablish the Hantei Line which can't get more Celestial then this but the Monks seem to favor perfection of the man above all things.

Mantis have a history of being the best of men having Yoritomo become a god, but on the other hand they have the Moshi who worship Amaterasu. 

The Asako which learned Shinseis secret etc. 

 

Long story short: It think a conflict which divides the Clans is important and it would be nice to see mechanics in place which would underline the conflicting ideals.

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I actually have to lok into netrunner to fin this out cause I saw some really intresting control appraoches there. But in general I think there is a high possbility that FFG better knows how to balance control themes than AEG does.

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If we see any "counterspells",or interrupts, in the LCG, I'd expect they would be similar to the ones we already saw in the ccg and to be somewhat narrow. For example, Absolution. I guess I could see some sort of general counterspell but that feels like something only the Emperor or a kami could do. 

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The Emperor should be able to say "nope" to almost everything. But even he is subject to the laws of heaven. And the more we get into the cosmological influences of the setting, the more we risk drifting away from the human experience, which is the core essence of almost every fantasy IP. It's okay to show the influence of the Kami, the Fortunes, and so forth (as was done during the period in which Celestials were a thing), but like Celestials in how they entered play randomly, I believe that anything involving Tengoku (or Jigoku, not to be confused with its presence in Ningen-do in the form of the Shadowlands), should be designed in such a way as to convey unpredictability, and flavored to represent foreign intervention, so it does not feel like you are controlling them directly.

Edited by MarthWMaster

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