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Mirumoto Jin

RPG speculations - part 3

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This is the final post in the series, and will deal with GM-ing more than anything. One of the things I noticed about the current RPG is that, aside from the content in Enemies of the Empire and the few historical NPCs in some of the other books, populating the world of Rokugan took a long time to do. There were no prefabricated NPCs that could be used regularly, nor were there usually any stats for any of the notable personages within the Empire (except for those noted above). More often than not, we had to go through the process of essentially creating a character for the sole purpose of using it as a NPC. These are my questions for you:

 

1. Would you like to see a listing of typical NPCs encountered on a daily basis (i.e. typical heimingeisha, merchants)?

 

2. Would you like to see stats for each person in a position of power, in the current timeline as well as in times past to a certain extent?

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I would prefer templates for NPCs with information on how to adjust them to fit my needs. Basically, "teach you how to make NPCs, with listed examples for quick use and reference", instead of "here are character creation rules, and here are some NPCs, reverse engineer it towards your needs"

In general, I would want Premade Adventures and other "Materials for New GM" to happen, because teaching yourself how to GM Rokugan is daunting, and books kinda generalize that if you gm you are a GM with experience anyway, so you usually need someone's help to get it right, which is a luxury.

The easier is to run a one shot game, the easier is to convince people who would be afraid to try out GMing to do it, and bigger % of people playing the game become GMs in turn :P.

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This is the final post in the series, and will deal with GM-ing more than anything. One of the things I noticed about the current RPG is that, aside from the content in Enemies of the Empire and the few historical NPCs in some of the other books, populating the world of Rokugan took a long time to do. There were no prefabricated NPCs that could be used regularly, nor were there usually any stats for any of the notable personages within the Empire (except for those noted above). More often than not, we had to go through the process of essentially creating a character for the sole purpose of using it as a NPC. These are my questions for you:

 

1. Would you like to see a listing of typical NPCs encountered on a daily basis (i.e. typical heimingeisha, merchants)?

 

2. Would you like to see stats for each person in a position of power, in the current timeline as well as in times past to a certain extent?

 

1) Heavens, yes. All the yes.

 

2) Again, yes. Something along the lines of what was presented in 1ed, with just the Clan Champions and a couple other iconic characters. Possibly develop the Signature Characters (and their stats) in secondary books as well.

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1. Would you like to see a listing of typical NPCs encountered on a daily basis (i.e. typical heimingeisha, merchants)?

 

Eh, sure. I seldom found whipping up a random non-samurai terribly difficult, but I'd much rather have core rulebook space spent on "people you will find in every village/town/castle" than "here's some random wild animals, for all of those samurai versus bear stories you've been dying to tell."

 

2. Would you like to see stats for each person in a position of power, in the current timeline as well as in times past to a certain extent?

 

Actually... no. At least, not in the core book. I find that having a "typical provincial governor" is more likely to be useful than "here's the stats for the current Lion Champion, who, as we all know,may not last more than a week."

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I agree with Gunichi.

 

Unexpected Allies remains one of my favourite books for inspiration, though, so I'd like more specific characters in that vein. UA2 was something of a let down by comparison.

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FFG has released three packs of cards with NPCs for the Star Wars RPG. I don't see why they wouldn't do something similar for an L5R RPG.

And this is one of the few situations I can imagine in which I'd be tempted to buy additional paraphernalia to use with an RPG : )

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1. Would you like to see a listing of typical NPCs encountered on a daily basis (i.e. typical heimingeisha, merchants)?

 

Not in the core book. But in a supplement for possibile enemies in Rokugan why not. I actually miss the classical Monster Manual for L5R and feel that most enemies are to scattered through the different books.

 

 

2. Would you like to see stats for each person in a position of power, in the current timeline as well as in times past to a certain extent?

 

Yes and no. I think I never want the emepror stated because if it is stated you can kill it. Therefore I think while Stating most Clan Champions/Daimyos and other persons in power beings like the elemental Dragons and other deities should not be stated since it should not be assumed that a normall party at some point gets the ability to kill them.

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1. Would you like to see a listing of typical NPCs encountered on a daily basis (i.e. typical heimingeisha, merchants)?

 

Not in the core book. But in a supplement for possibile enemies in Rokugan why not. I actually miss the classical Monster Manual for L5R and feel that most enemies are to scattered through the different books.

 

 

2. Would you like to see stats for each person in a position of power, in the current timeline as well as in times past to a certain extent?

 

Yes and no. I think I never want the emepror stated because if it is stated you can kill it. Therefore I think while Stating most Clan Champions/Daimyos and other persons in power beings like the elemental Dragons and other deities should not be stated since it should not be assumed that a normall party at some point gets the ability to kill them.

 

I think you meant:

IIBWCKI-8x6.jpg

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Emperors getting killed is...kind of an important part of the setting?

 

I mean, of the last five (six) emperors, only *one* wasn't removed from the throne by a sudden case of fatal violence. (Toturi III kamikazed with the porcelain mask at the Tomb of Shinsei being an idiot ; Toturi II (if we count her) got killed by Daigotsu, Toturi I was killed by an Onisu ; Hantei XXXIX was Fulengized and killed by Toturi and Hantei XXXVIII got a lethal overdose of Shoju). Iweko I's the first on-screen non-violent transition of power in the history of L5R. 

 

They're humans. They're mortals. They can die. 

Edited by Himoto

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Emperors getting killed is...kind of an important part of the setting?

 

I mean, of the last five (six) emperors, only *one* wasn't removed from the throne by a sudden case of fatal violence. (Toturi III kamikazed with the porcelain mask at the Tomb of Shinsei being an idiot ; Toturi II (if we count her) got killed by Daigotsu, Toturi I was killed by an Onisu ; Hantei XXXIX was Fulengized and killed by Toturi and Hantei XXXVIII got a lethal overdose of Shoju). Iweko I's the first on-screen non-violent transition of power in the history of L5R. 

 

They're humans. They're mortals. They can die. 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, can't the Oracles die, even? 

 

Heck, the original Sun and Moon both died -- and they were gods.

Edited by MaxKilljoy

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Emperors getting killed is...kind of an important part of the setting?

 

I mean, of the last five (six) emperors, only *one* wasn't removed from the throne by a sudden case of fatal violence. (Toturi III kamikazed with the porcelain mask at the Tomb of Shinsei being an idiot ; Toturi II (if we count her) got killed by Daigotsu, Toturi I was killed by an Onisu ; Hantei XXXIX was Fulengized and killed by Toturi and Hantei XXXVIII got a lethal overdose of Shoju). Iweko I's the first on-screen non-violent transition of power in the history of L5R. 

 

They're humans. They're mortals. They can die. 

Perhaps the objection is that Hida Dudeface McPCGuy generally shouldn't be the one doing the stabby-stabby and it's usually the result of larger events PCs aren't directly a part of?

I mean, if a GM wants the PCs to kill the Emperor in his game the lack of official stats really isn't a roadblock anyway.

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Conversely, if the GM DOESN'T want the PCs to kill the Emperor in his game, the presence of official stats isn't a particulalry important roadblock. 

 

"Sure, these are the emperor's stats. And these are the stats of the five hundred Seppun elite guardsmen and hidden guard shugenja between you and him."

Edited by Himoto

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Perhaps the objection is that Hida Dudeface McPCGuy generally shouldn't be the one doing the stabby-stabby and it's usually the result of larger events PCs aren't directly a part of?

I mean, if a GM wants the PCs to kill the Emperor in his game the lack of official stats really isn't a roadblock anyway.

 

Conversely, if the GM DOESN'T want the PCs to kill the Emperor in his game, the presence of official stats isn't a particulalry important roadblock. 

 

"Sure, these are the emperor's stats. And these are the stats of the five hundred Seppun elite guardsmen and hidden guard shugenja between you and him."

So in neither case, then, is a statblock for the Emperor a good use of space in an RPG corebook.

 

If it's not obvious enough, I'm with WHW and Shiba Gunichi; somewhat flexible stats for "unnamed people you might use as NPCs in any game" would be far more useful to me as a GM than stats for Daimyo Whoever who might not even be around by the time of next year's metaplot arc. Put those guys in a splatbook or sell them as optional NPC cards, and you'll make money from the people who Really Care about that stuff while saving on printing costs for the main book. 

 

I agree with whomever said (in another thread? why are there so. many. threads. about basically the same thing?) that a more important means to ease new GMs into the setting and game would be some really good published adventures. AEG has never put out very many L5R modules, and new GMs were unlikely to stumble across things like Heroes of Rokugan while still in that early "can I run this game?" phase. "Here's how an adventure in Rokugan looks, with all the necessary pieces" lowers the bar a lot more than "here are the stats for 40 daimyo* you've never heard of." 

 

*consider the implications of "each person in a position of power" for a sec--eight or nine Great Clans with 3-5 Families each; half a dozen Minor Clans, three Imperial Families... and that's before you get to non-hereditary offices like the Emerald Champion. None of whom are individually terribly likely to show up in a home game. 

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Ease of use of Adventures is one of main reasons why I think that Default Timeline X would be good - you can pick a period and publish modules for it.

As for stats -  there is difference between "Lion Champion X is a cool girl, some fluff, for more go and read our website, if you want to use her in game use Veteran Akodo Statblock and upgrade it twice" and "Lion Champion X is a cool girl 10 pages of backstory" and "Lion Champion X is a cool girl, here, have 3 pages of specific stats THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE AND WHY IS THIS PERSON A CHAMPION MY INSIGHT RANK 2 CHARACTER CAN SMASH HER and generally waste of space".

Remember that some people enjoy campaigns that deal with large figures of Rokugan; finding the center between "unnamed NPCs you can tailor for your own use" and "a nice set of personalities to populate your campaign with" is quite important.

 

Why are premade NPCs like Daimyo or whatever needed at all? Because a lot of people simply don't have time, experience or knowledge to create a full big network of NPCs from the ground. Note that one of major problems of RPG as a hobby is tremendous preparation time required from only one person - the GM - which, while OK when we are targeting players that are young adults (high schoolers, college students, "my first job" people); but as they get older, they have less and less time to twink their game setups. Families, "real" jobs and other "**** it adult life!" things consume a lot of time; anything that can speed up preparation of the game will be attractive for this group of customers. 

Making life easier for game masters means more people are willing to game master your games, and thus, extends life of your game.

Edited by WHW

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Conversely, if the GM DOESN'T want the PCs to kill the Emperor in his game, the presence of official stats isn't a particulalry important roadblock. 

 

"Sure, these are the emperor's stats. And these are the stats of the five hundred Seppun elite guardsmen and hidden guard shugenja between you and him."

 

Actually it is. The thing is as soon as you stat something people can maxizmize their chracter with the goal to kill it. They can look in the book analyze the weaknesses and strenght a of it and come up with ways they can kill the target.

If they done this they can go an do it and the GM can do exactly nothing against it since the rules prevent him from saying actuall you can´t kill him cause when the Hit points of the emperor hit 0 he is dead.

Thats why I prefer to say no stating so the problem, that the players a feeling railroaded by the Gm which refuses to give them their kill despite the book says he should be dead, is prevented.

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Uh, gm can just say "no, this isn't direction I want to take my game, stop it or stop playing". 

 

Which results in a player taking the book and saying." Well thats railroading than cause we totaly killed him accoring to the rules of this book." The thing is that it creates ptential problems which you could avoid when you just don´t stat him.

Edited by Teveshszat

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1. Would you like to see a listing of typical NPCs encountered on a daily basis (i.e. typical heimingeisha, merchants)?

 

2. Would you like to see stats for each person in a position of power, in the current timeline as well as in times past to a certain extent?

 

1- It could be interesting but do we really need a list of people that lives in a village? Unless it's a clarification of what a typical village/town/castle is composed, I don't think it's useful to see a simple list. Having a list of what usually lives in a typical village, a typical town and a typical castle would help a lot to craft our own village/town/castle, this means 3 lists is required for that, otherwise, I think it's better to not even waste spaces on this.

 

2- No, simply no. I think it's better to let those characters statless. Not because they shouldn't die, but mainly because we don't need this. Why would I want a book with stats of characters that I'll even barely use? I prefer more generic characters/monsters to be able to use them in my games. I build my game to create a story for my players' characters. For this reason, I prefer to work on character development so they would have their own story, instead of simply comparing themselves to a person in a position of power. In my current game, Iweko I is the Empress, do I need her stat? Nope, because she'll be and will stay in the background of my game. If they decide to go all-in and kill her, which I really doubt they would do this, I'll make up something on the spot, but I don't need this. I feel like it's too much stats for nothing.

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1) Typical NPCs? Sure! even things like "generic provincial/family/clan Daimyo, generic magistrate, generic supernatural "things" with a list of powers to cherry pick depending on what you are trying to make (ghost, zombie, nezumi, whatever.

 

2) No, not in the least.  If I'm going to stat Toturi, he's clearly going to be so important to my game that I will need it personalized.  Even easier if I have that generic list from above to base him off of. 

 

 

On Modules: I have less than zero use for modules to run.  especially if I have to pay for them.  L5R has an amazing living campaign community (Heroes of Rokugan.  Look it up if you've never heard of it, they just finished their 3rd campaign this past gencon) where I can get tons of them for free. 

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Uh, gm can just say "no, this isn't direction I want to take my game, stop it or stop playing".

Which results in a player taking the book and saying." Well thats railroading than cause we totaly killed him accoring to the rules of this book." The thing is that it creates ptential problems which you could avoid when you just don´t stat him.

Unless the PC landed some Hail Mary one shot kill at the Emperor, if it got to that point some other way the GM screwed up already several steps back.

And adding a caveat to the official stats like, "These are guidelines and should be adjusted to fit your game as necessary."

The Emperor, or God, (or God-Emperor if you're in a "Dune" mood) isn't some random NPC plucked from the Monster Manual.

Edited by selderane

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Make the Emperor Onion made of Great Destinies. Your move, players! :P

EDIT

More seriously, if players are disruptive to the game and trolling around, GM doesn't have to GM for them either. Like, seriously, there is literally no need to justify "this is not a game I wanted to GM, if you are really demanding to go in this direction, I guess you will need a new game master". 

Edited by WHW

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Even if the PCs manage to roll an attack or spell directed at the emperor, how many times can they do so before being swarmed and cut down? It hast to be at least higher than the number of conscious rank 5 seppun guardsmen within 20' with void points remaining. That should make it a confident party wipe unless they've been building up to that confrontation, a la Shoju.

Edited by BitRunr

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In response to both timeline neutrality and adventure modules, I would highlight Naishou Province as something I think was pretty well done. I've never run the adventure myself, but the setting material has plenty of plot hooks and seems like it could fit into just about any time in Rokugan's history, with some minor tweaking perhaps. I enjoy reading this kind of material, part for inspiration and part for preparation.

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Conversely, if the GM DOESN'T want the PCs to kill the Emperor in his game, the presence of official stats isn't a particulalry important roadblock. 

 

"Sure, these are the emperor's stats. And these are the stats of the five hundred Seppun elite guardsmen and hidden guard shugenja between you and him."

 

Actually it is. The thing is as soon as you stat something people can maxizmize their chracter with the goal to kill it. They can look in the book analyze the weaknesses and strenght a of it and come up with ways they can kill the target.

If they done this they can go an do it and the GM can do exactly nothing against it since the rules prevent him from saying actuall you can´t kill him cause when the Hit points of the emperor hit 0 he is dead.

Thats why I prefer to say no stating so the problem, that the players a feeling railroaded by the Gm which refuses to give them their kill despite the book says he should be dead, is prevented.

 

 

 

A competent GM doesn't say "Nope, you can't kill him". A competent GM doesn't *need* to say that.

 

A competent GM just make sure there are Seppun guardsmen and Hidden Guard Shugenja, and traps and wards that the player *doesn't know about* protecting the emperor. Ones that precisely exploit the weakness in the player's build, because *the Imperial guard probably knows what weaknesses the emperor has*. And they're taking extra-special care of countering those who'd seek to exploit them. 

 

And I agree that the emperor being stated out *in the core rulebook* is not useful or a priority. Indeed, random typical NPC stats are much more useful. What I disagree with is the sentiment the emperor should never have stats, which is altogether different. 

Edited by Himoto

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