Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
mortthepirate

[RPG] Shugenja (huh!) what are you good for?

Recommended Posts

So with the discussion of the of what Shugenja can and can't do, should and shouldn't be able to do, and what their role in the setting is, I thought it would be a good idea to have a place to consolidate these discussions (arguments) and try and really map out the 'why's' of each sides position.  I've never been good at this forum thing, so if anyone wants to port in some relevant quotes from the other threads, i'll save a spot at the end of my post to edit it them in if needed. 

 

 

I believe that Shugenja, as presented in 4th edition are too powerful AND versatile compared to the other options available. At rank one they get  6 spells (discreet effects) AND a unique bonus like every other school (Kitsu's ability to sense and turn off advantages, Iuchi's ability to confer speed, Yoritomo ability to generate a storm, Scorpion ability to silent cast).  The list of options to choose from just the core book is pretty impressive, not to mention the expansion of the spell list in just about every supplement (every book of x at least, not sure about the rest.)  Everything from damage spells, to healing, to illusion, to social abilities, to movement shenanigans, to void manipulation  is there for the choosing.  

 

I know they can't have all of them at once, but they are able to build to one thing extremely well.  Fire spells that can out damage a bushi in any given fight.  Water spells that allow you to literally outpace even the most mobile of bushi.  Earth spells that let you take a hit better than any Hida could hope for.  Now I know what your going to say "But they can only cast spells so many times, a bushi can sword as many times as they want!"  While true, a Shugenja can ALSO sword as many times as they want not to mention there is no downside for a Shugenja to wear armor. No disruption to spell casting, treats them just as well as everyone else.  It's only a few xp to get any combat ability up to a viable level (rank 3 or 4) as a starting character, and it's not like you can spend xp to get other spells. Nope, to get new spells all you have to do is ask for them from your superior, or steal them off of someone else. No xp needed, just a little chat with the boss or a little sleight of hand.  

 

Next example, Shugenja as Courtier.  Here we see the air spells shine! illusions, distant communication, reading thoughts, altering perceptions.  This is courtier GOLD.  Even the most effective Doji would love to know exactly what their rival is planning, or be able make someone important THINK they have just been insulted.  Endless possibilities.

 

And being able to do any of these things? have nothing to do with being a PRIEST.  And i'm not going to make the DnD comparison, I'm going to look at things priests do.  Witnessing major life events, reading omens, offering advice, settling disputes, placing blessings, consoling, offering penance.  This is what I expect the Shugenja to be doing in my game, at least if you keep them as 'priests' in setting. But what's the answer to this question? I'm not sure.  But I will list below my goal for wanting to change how these types of schools work.  

 

GOALS OF THE CHANGE

 

What I want is for the game mechanics to match what the setting is trying to tell me.  The setting tells me that armies of bushi clash against each other and military champions carry the day through guile and skill.  Which is awesome! 

 

But the mechanics tell me that a single high rank Shugenja can destroy entire armies by itself.  Invading fleet? cast Huricane!! attacking a ground force? Rise Fire!!  Shadowlands creatures coming at us? Jade strike!! (i'm sure there is a bigger version of this spell, just don't have my book on me.)  But a rank 5 Bushi? I can hit it twice in one round!!  For maybe some more damage than normal!!!  It just doesn't add up.  

 

I want a bit of parity.  I don't want to feel like playing my Warrior is inferior in EVERY WAY to someone playing the spell caster.  I don't want that DnD  or Pathfinder feeling where if I can't cast spells I should have just stayed home.  I want my Rank 5 Matsu Berserker to wade through units the way the spellcaster can destroy them from a distance.  

 

I want my Bayushi Courtier to feel like my ability to ferret out secrets are not eclipsed by my buddy the Soshi Shugenja who can literally tear the secrets away from the minds of others.  

 

The non-magic techniques were all toned down this edition to make them feel more like bonuses instead of have-or-fail abilities like they were last edition (hello dueling a crane as anyone else).  But the magic system still feels as crazy as it's every been, which just means the disparity between the have and the have nots is even wider. 

 

Thoughts, comments, criticisms, other side?

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a few option to balanced out the Shugenja. One of them is has been told in some other topic, which is to remove/reduce the ability to lower the casting time. This would mean that a rank 6 spell would need 6 turns or 4 if your reduce it to a maximum of 2 raises. This is a possibility and it doesn't require a huge change to the current mechanics. Another one is in the Book of Fire as optional rule: Counterspelling. This one gives a chance to prevent the "high rank Shugenja destroying an army scenario" and is already in the game as a supplement. (A brief description was said in the columns: http://www.rpg.net/columns/nakedsteel/nakedsteel23.phtml )

 

For the other points, sure the Shugenja could cast a spell and make himself stronger, but some of these spells can also be cast on someone else. Some combat buffs that are castable on someone else is deadlier on a Bushi than on the Shugenja himself and the same goes with the social buffs. This is a question of do prefer teamwork or be a loner? I always prefer teamwork at a loner, but I know, I know, not everyone thinks that way.

 

In the end, I think that the two first (lower casting time and counterspelling) would be more than enough to fix the biggest problem you've mentioned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a lot of ways I think shugenja and monks should both use kiho, or kiho like effects (especially mystical kiho). These are very pared down abilities that can still be quite potent in conjunction with one another. Yes, a specailized monk is able to get some nice bonuses, but no one ever accused monks of being over powered.

 

For a new edition, I think this would be an excellent starting point in terms of broad based power for shugenja. All shugenja are set at this level of play. Then, offer schools either a small(!!!) list of secret "spells" that fill out the flavor for the school.

 

Alternately, make shugenja 5 rank schools that have thematic, spell-like techniques (e.g. Yoritimo Shugenja get a Fury of Osano-Wo type technique (possibly at rank 2 or 3). And otherwise must utilize the longer, ritual-like importune for all other spell effects. (Use sense to only sense kami, commune to importune, and summon to mimic the spell you importuned).

Edited by SonofScarlet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be in favor of having shugenja prayers/spells be more focused on the support role, healing, buffing, divination, communing/banishing with spirits, curing spiritual disorders, and generally non-damaging effects with narrative potential. Save the damaging spells for higher ranks/levels/experience or spirits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Something to think about when starting out on something like this:  

 

When it comes to "priests with powers" and spells and the supernatural and the role of "magic users" -- what do we see in the source material for L5R?  Japan and other Asian cultures, their actual religions, their myths and legends, their modern storytelling, their cinema and comics and novels and Wuxia and anime... 

 

Are the "casting styles" and actual spell effects appropriate to those source materials? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a few option to balanced out the Shugenja. One of them is has been told in some other topic, which is to remove/reduce the ability to lower the casting time. This would mean that a rank 6 spell would need 6 turns or 4 if your reduce it to a maximum of 2 raises. This is a possibility and it doesn't require a huge change to the current mechanics. Another one is in the Book of Fire as optional rule: Counterspelling. This one gives a chance to prevent the "high rank Shugenja destroying an army scenario" and is already in the game as a supplement. (A brief description was said in the columns: http://www.rpg.net/c...edsteel23.phtml )

 

 

 

I think the first one is a really terrible Idea cause in my experieence the combat in L5r hardly last longer than 4 turns. The second one is not such a bad Idea but would force all groups to tak along atleast 1 shungeja  and even than the Shugenja has toio have enough skill in opposing element to counter the spell.

Therefore I deem both ways not good enough to concider them as real soluation for the Shugenja problem.

For me the pwoer of the spells is not a problem but the superior ultility Shugenja can have. Look at a Isawa Air Shugenja with is a realy good combatant and a very good courter, which can get some points in water to  become a ok healer and get earth 3 to be able to cast be the moiuntain (which also makes him a good defense). 

This utility is what I concider a problem cause while you can plan with you group for the roles you will take and avoid the problem of you are better than I, this is not working when you are not be able to talk to the players beforehand,

So ito avoid problems in this I think to make clear schools which favor a certain role over the general appraoch of the 4th edition is a better Idea than touching the casting time and giving the Shugenja the feeling that they are part of the Live Action Avatar movie

were you need 4 people to bend a little rock in slow motion.

 

 

Something to think about when starting out on something like this:  

 

When it comes to "priests with powers" and spells and the supernatural and the role of "magic users" -- what do we see in the source material for L5R?  Japan and other Asian cultures, their actual religions, their myths and legends, their modern storytelling, their cinema and comics and novels and Wuxia and anime... 

 

Are the "casting styles" and actual spell effects appropriate to those source materials?

 

As far as I know it is a general asian background L5r uses and I think there could be more of the general asain culture and mtyhology woven into it.

For the casting types if we concider anime and Wuxia the current casting is far to slow and not dynamic enough.

Cause you alllways have 1 turn where you can´t cast cause you needto switch the schroll . Therefore if we want a more modern anime and Wuxia like casting system the schrolls have to go

but the Shugenja need to keep the offensive power and stay powerful combatants. So in the end the casting needs to become more dyanamic.

Edited by Teveshszat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Book of Fire Counterspelling isn't a much of use in discussion of "Shugenja OP", because "Shugenja are not OP, ANOTHER Shugenja can counterspell you" doesn't help the starting argument :P

Honestly, I'm fine with Shugenja casting Hurricane...as long as other characters at the same Rank are capable of similarly outlandish feats. If my Shugenja buddy is casting hurricane, why I'm not able to punch ground really hard to make local Earthquake ;)

Point is, Shugenja often seem like they are from different game or at least, different genre compared to other character schools. While you could say that Bushi and Courtiers are from almost-realistic, Film-Style Rokugan, Shugenja belong to Shounen Anime. In actual play, I often feel that some of their abilities are - in comparison to what other can achieve! - are castable rank or two too soon. Isawa Tensai are especially funny here, because they are capable of casting Rank 4th spells at Rank 2. Which includes stuff like "kill target enemy for sure, but suffer number of wounds it took to kill him". This might seem fair, but it isn't, because then you have Force of Will, which basically makes your Shugenja a Suicide Bomber without Suicide :P.

There is a lot of underutilizied mechanics, too; "Concentration" Spells seem quite rare, and they would actually be a good balancing act for lots of Shugenja spells (Concentration Spells are basically "this spell lasts as long as you don't cast any other Concentration spell", preventing excessive buffing). Another major problem of spells is that people writing them often don't seem to understand game mechanics, or have very low practical knowledge of them, ending up unaware of consequences these spells cause; which leads to spells too powerful or too weak for their rank, or spells that interact with each other in weird way, or spells that simply break the combat system.

It's also true that lots of spells can make another character obsolete. There is for example a spell that increases your character's Intelligence by 3. This combined with a Void Point to gain 1 rank in a skill, or Sage Advantage, single handely makes a starting character with Intelligence of 2 better than most of scholars of the empire. Because yes, 6k5 (or 7k6 if you decide to Void it!) is better than 10k3 of "I put skill points into it" scholar expert. 

Basically, each time a Shugenja gets new spell scroll, they get a new Technique (comparing them to rest of the character types); they can also access Kiho, and some of Kiho are *also* on level of a Technique. 

 

Which leaves me at either "bring down Shugenja to other character types", or "bring other character types to a level of Shugenja", or "some of both".

While I dislike idea of no-mastery level spellcasting, I started to slowly like the idea of "open effects list", where you have a list of possible spells open to anyone, and in order to cast them, you need to call proper Raises. So, want a Fireball? 2 Rounds, 3 Raises, go.

Meeting specific prerequisites - being from a proper school, having a scroll, casting it in ritual time, etc, etc, would bring number of required Raises down. 

Still...

Other types should *also* get a similar list of Special Effects to achieve,

I think a model where "Spend Raises on Iaijutsu / Courtier / Spellcasting Roll, spend a Void Point, get a Special Effect!" is a thing would help balance stuff, because well...

Major reason of Shugenja being too powerful/too versatile is access to very open list of abilities and effects, while other character types have nothing of sort, having to rely on very undefinied "Raise on a Skill Roll and we may see" setup. Again, having options vs not having options.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Which leaves me at either "bring down Shugenja to other character types", or "bring other character types to a level of Shugenja", or "some of both".

While I dislike idea of no-mastery level spellcasting, I started to slowly like the idea of "open effects list", where you have a list of possible spells open to anyone, and in order to cast them, you need to call proper Raises. So, want a Fireball? 2 Rounds, 3 Raises, go.

Meeting specific prerequisites - being from a proper school, having a scroll, casting it in ritual time, etc, etc, would bring number of required Raises down. 

Still...

Other types should *also* get a similar list of Special Effects to achieve,

I think a model where "Spend Raises on Iaijutsu / Courtier / Spellcasting Roll, spend a Void Point, get a Special Effect!" is a thing would help balance stuff, because well...

Major reason of Shugenja being too powerful/too versatile is access to very open list of abilities and effects, while other character types have nothing of sort, having to rely on very undefinied "Raise on a Skill Roll and we may see" setup. Again, having options vs not having options.

 

Hmm not a bad point.

I for my part don´t like the bring it down to the other so I go for bring the other 2 up to the level of the Shugenja.

Also the raise sysetm is not something I think would work cause it is not a hindrance at all for a good built Shuegnja cause thsi one would meet the prequisities rather fast.

I agree with you there should be prequisities to get some of the spells but why not using a ) schools and b) avaiability as limiting factor instead of raises whcih can be made and uneffective limitation factor by a good builder.

When I have a limitation of schools in mind I go for the Kamiyou school favors give you your spells kami which dislike your school does not give you their aid.

Yes this is a bit flawed when we concider the Isawa but I think I would basicly change the school to default tensai and with draback on all schools

you not have choosen. This also would be in harmony with the Elemental council which and the highly specialised approach of the elemental guard.

Also I go for the prequsite spell list . For example if you want to have Castle of Fire you need wall of fire first or you can´t learn it.  In addtion to that I  go for a IC prequisite for the high end spells so that you actually have to take a quest to get them and not just choose these spells

in the book. Lets players go to talk t the might Fire spirit rumored to residing in the ancient volacano or get teached by the Zukojin to aquire a very powerful earth spell.

These methods seem to be more in line with the msytical and cultural asian approach and avoid of just tuning the Shugenja up or down on a pure mathematical level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fundementally, shooting fireballs out of your hands is not a thing that shows up in folklore much of anywhere -- Europe, Asia, the Americas, etc. That entire dimension of ability is much more of a modern concept than a historical one.

 

I've actually been researching this kind of thing for a novel, so I have it very much on the brain. Categories of stuff I do see in actual historical Japanese belief, regarding onmyouji and shugenja and Buddhist priests and so forth:

 

1) Improving your own body and what it can do. This is pretty well covered in L5R, via kiho. I personally allow shugenja to pick them up, not just monks; if there's an issue here, it's that the division between "priest" and "monk" is kind of bogus compared to the source material (i.e. history). Can be expanded to improving the bodies of others.

 

2) Divination. Not so much in the "foretell the future" or "find the name of the killer" sense, but more broadly than that: tomorrow will be an auspicious day for battle. The southern direction is unlucky today. Here is a map of the spiritual energies of this area; if you build your house or city according to those guidelines, it will be a more prosperous and harmonious place than if you ignore it. The killer is someone consumed by jealousy -- you don't know their name, but you have a lead to help you look for answers.

 

3) Dealing with spirits. Why are so many bad things happening here? Oh, because the city was built along the wrong alignment and has angered the spirit of the river. I'd better talk to it and figure out if we can institute a festival to placate it, or whether we just have to rebuild the city somewhere else. Why is this woman sick? Oh, the ghost of her dead husband is haunting her while she sleeps each night. We need to find his body and lay him to rest. Why has the Emperor gone insane? Crap -- an evil sorcerer has sent a malicious spirit to possess him. We have to banish the spirit, find the sorcerer, and kill him.

 

There's also a dimension of activity that's about making sure you arrive in the appropriate paradisical land after you die (Pure Land or whatever), but I see that being more a matter of skills (Lore: Theology to advise people on good conduct) than magic as such. The three things above, though, are the core of what I see actual historical Japanese magic/spiritualism doing . . . and of the three, only #1 is well-supported in the system, and even then, only for monks. Others have said it, and I'll repeat it: if you want shugenja to look more like East Asian priests than modern game wizards, you need to develop the spirit world as a thing shugenja can and do interact with on a regular basis, in some fashion other than "we get into a fight and kill it." You need more spirit creatures that aren't Tainted, so their hostility or friendliness becomes a matter of context. You need not just generic "water kami" but "the kami of this river, which is an intelligent and self-aware entity with its own agenda." You need the will of the Heavens to be more than just Oracles descending from the sky to order people around; it needs to permeate daily life, so that the notion of needing a specialist to advise you about it is more than just lip service.

 

You need a game system that says there are three major areas in which characters can function: combat, talking to people, and spiritual matters. And then you develop all three, instead of developing one and nodding vaguely in the direction of the other two.

 

(Three replies have shown up while I was typing this. Rather than wrestling with the stupid forum code, I'm just going to post this, and then read those and respond.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having read them, I'll now add:

 

I agree entirely that a large portion of the problem here is that shugenja and bushi/courtiers, as currently designed, belong to different genres. If we're doing wuxia/shonen anime, then you need to amp up the latter two (which is why there's a suggestion for the Togashi Dynasty that you let bushi buy kiho and courtiers buy appropriate spells as if they were kiho -- an incomplete fix, but the easiest to implement without major redesign). If we're doing realistic Kurosawa samurai drama, then you pretty much need to chuck all of the overt effects shugenja can achieve and limit them entirely to minor buffs, where a shugenja blessing you gives you +1k1 to your attack rolls and maybe that's because you feel more confident instead of you receiving any actual spiritual benefit. If we're doing something in between, then shugenja can do the kinds of things I described above . . . but you also need to make sure bushi and courtiers have their own flavors of specialness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having read them, I'll now add:

 

I agree entirely that a large portion of the problem here is that shugenja and bushi/courtiers, as currently designed, belong to different genres. If we're doing wuxia/shonen anime, then you need to amp up the latter two (which is why there's a suggestion for the Togashi Dynasty that you let bushi buy kiho and courtiers buy appropriate spells as if they were kiho -- an incomplete fix, but the easiest to implement without major redesign). If we're doing realistic Kurosawa samurai drama, then you pretty much need to chuck all of the overt effects shugenja can achieve and limit them entirely to minor buffs, where a shugenja blessing you gives you +1k1 to your attack rolls and maybe that's because you feel more confident instead of you receiving any actual spiritual benefit. If we're doing something in between, then shugenja can do the kinds of things I described above . . . but you also need to make sure bushi and courtiers have their own flavors of specialness.

 

 

Will there ever be agreement on which of those L5R actually is?  

 

I think part of the disconnect we're seeing in these conversations is that there are unspoken assumptions about that, and so people are starting from different places and not understanding why others are coming to different conclusions about a lot of things. 

 

 

Of course, I don't think that there's ever been a consistent agreement over time and between the people involved on the inside of the interlinked CCG, RPG, and fiction regarding "what Rokugan is".

Edited by MaxKilljoy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will there ever be agreement on which of those L5R actually is?  

 

{...}

 

Of course, I don't think that there's ever been a consistent agreement over time and between the people involved on the inside of the interlinked CCG, RPG, and fiction regarding "what Rokugan is".

I read your first line and thought "yes, insofar as the people designing the game decide what level of woodginess they want to try to model."

 

Then I got to your last line and, well, yes, that's part of the problem. :-) But I do think it helps to clarify that the issue is not automatically "shugenja are too powerful!" -- it's "shugenja are too much more powerful than bushi!" You can solve that by making bushi stronger or shugenja weaker; either approach can work. But before you go house-ruling anything (or designing a new edition), you need to have a clear sense of what target you're trying to hit, because otherwise you'll end up with the kind of incoherence the game already exhibits. And I think that, at a minimum, we can agree that incoherence is not good design.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Will there ever be agreement on which of those L5R actually is?  

 

{...}

 

Of course, I don't think that there's ever been a consistent agreement over time and between the people involved on the inside of the interlinked CCG, RPG, and fiction regarding "what Rokugan is".

I read your first line and thought "yes, insofar as the people designing the game decide what level of woodginess they want to try to model."

 

Then I got to your last line and, well, yes, that's part of the problem. :-) But I do think it helps to clarify that the issue is not automatically "shugenja are too powerful!" -- it's "shugenja are too much more powerful than bushi!" You can solve that by making bushi stronger or shugenja weaker; either approach can work. But before you go house-ruling anything (or designing a new edition), you need to have a clear sense of what target you're trying to hit, because otherwise you'll end up with the kind of incoherence the game already exhibits. And I think that, at a minimum, we can agree that incoherence is not good design.

 

 

 

Exactly.  Incoherence makes of terrible game design (and IMO terrible fiction). 

 

And as you (and I, and others) have noted, that's one of the reasons why "what is this setting actually like?" has to be established to at least a sufficient degree, before the design of the mechanics/system starts. 

Edited by MaxKilljoy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Having read them, I'll now add:

 

I agree entirely that a large portion of the problem here is that shugenja and bushi/courtiers, as currently designed, belong to different genres. If we're doing wuxia/shonen anime, then you need to amp up the latter two (which is why there's a suggestion for the Togashi Dynasty that you let bushi buy kiho and courtiers buy appropriate spells as if they were kiho -- an incomplete fix, but the easiest to implement without major redesign). If we're doing realistic Kurosawa samurai drama, then you pretty much need to chuck all of the overt effects shugenja can achieve and limit them entirely to minor buffs, where a shugenja blessing you gives you +1k1 to your attack rolls and maybe that's because you feel more confident instead of you receiving any actual spiritual benefit. If we're doing something in between, then shugenja can do the kinds of things I described above . . . but you also need to make sure bushi and courtiers have their own flavors of specialness.

 

 

Will there ever be agreement on which of those L5R actually is?  

 

I think part of the disconnect we're seeing in these conversations is that there are unspoken assumptions about that, and so people are starting from different places and not understanding why others are coming to different conclusions about a lot of things. 

 

 

Of course, I don't think that there's ever been a consistent agreement over time and between the people involved on the inside of the interlinked CCG, RPG, and fiction regarding "what Rokugan is".

 

 

One more reason to try and look for a way to get both the mroe realistic, bah hate this word so much in context of an Rpg cause realism is nothing I think has a place in it, and the Wuxia/Anime flavor style for them.

I think a steady grwoth in term of power, not like it is now which these stupid power spikes at every new Shugenja level, but a thing where you can go for big late game would be cool in my opinion.

Also if we go for one way of this there should be optional mechanics for the other way too so that both approaches could be played within the setting of Rokugan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also if we go for one way of this there should be optional mechanics for the other way too so that both approaches could be played within the setting of Rokugan.

While that sounds nice, in practice I don't think it can work. You'd wind up designing two entirely different systems, one where characters are pretty much just people with abilities, another where they're East Asian superheroes. Those two things are never going to balance against one another, so you'd have to address each of them separately -- and, while you're at it, describe two different versions of the setting, one where people don't cause earthquakes by slamming their tetsubo against the ground, the other where they do.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will there ever be agreement on which of those L5R actually is?  

 

I think part of the disconnect we're seeing in these conversations is that there are unspoken assumptions about that, and so people are starting from different places and not understanding why others are coming to different conclusions about a lot of things. 

 

 

Of course, I don't think that there's ever been a consistent agreement over time and between the people involved on the inside of the interlinked CCG, RPG, and fiction regarding "what Rokugan is".

 

One more reason to try and look for a way to get both the mroe realistic, bah hate this word so much in context of an Rpg cause realism is nothing I think has a place in it, and the Wuxia/Anime flavor style for them.

I think a steady grwoth in term of power, not like it is now which these stupid power spikes at every new Shugenja level, but a thing where you can go for big late game would be cool in my opinion.

Also if we go for one way of this there should be optional mechanics for the other way too so that both approaches could be played within the setting of Rokugan.

 

When used in this context, "realistic" doesn't always mean "like the real world"; it can also be used as shorthand for "internally consistent and coherent, true to its own establish rules, possessing believability within itself, having the feeling / sense of a place that could be real". 

 

But if you don't like the word "realistic" when used in this way, you could always go with "verisimilitude".

Edited by MaxKilljoy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Having read them, I'll now add:

 

I agree entirely that a large portion of the problem here is that shugenja and bushi/courtiers, as currently designed, belong to different genres. If we're doing wuxia/shonen anime, then you need to amp up the latter two (which is why there's a suggestion for the Togashi Dynasty that you let bushi buy kiho and courtiers buy appropriate spells as if they were kiho -- an incomplete fix, but the easiest to implement without major redesign). If we're doing realistic Kurosawa samurai drama, then you pretty much need to chuck all of the overt effects shugenja can achieve and limit them entirely to minor buffs, where a shugenja blessing you gives you +1k1 to your attack rolls and maybe that's because you feel more confident instead of you receiving any actual spiritual benefit. If we're doing something in between, then shugenja can do the kinds of things I described above . . . but you also need to make sure bushi and courtiers have their own flavors of specialness.

 

 

Will there ever be agreement on which of those L5R actually is?  

 

I think part of the disconnect we're seeing in these conversations is that there are unspoken assumptions about that, and so people are starting from different places and not understanding why others are coming to different conclusions about a lot of things. 

 

 

Of course, I don't think that there's ever been a consistent agreement over time and between the people involved on the inside of the interlinked CCG, RPG, and fiction regarding "what Rokugan is".

 

 

One more reason to try and look for a way to get both the mroe realistic, bah hate this word so much in context of an Rpg cause realism is nothing I think has a place in it, and the Wuxia/Anime flavor style for them.

I think a steady grwoth in term of power, not like it is now which these stupid power spikes at every new Shugenja level, but a thing where you can go for big late game would be cool in my opinion.

Also if we go for one way of this there should be optional mechanics for the other way too so that both approaches could be played within the setting of Rokugan.

 

 

When used in this context, "realistic" doesn't always mean "like the real world"; it can also be used as shorthand for "internally consistent and coherent, true to its own establish rules, possessing believability within itself, having the feeling / sense of a place that could be real". 

 

But if you don't like the word "realistic" when used in this way, you could always go with "verisimilitude". 

 

 

Versimultitude is aslo not fitting cause ithe choherence it expresses is non exsistant. Look we are tlaking about a fictional setting which has no way to prove in a sietific way that what we assume to be believeable is fitting to it. Also since it isa complete fictional thing it is easy to alter it and create your very own versions of it with you own reality inside of it. Therefore there cna´t be one true rokugan and since the idea of each Rokugan will be a different when you ask different people about their Idea about it adn the same thing will be more believeable in on version than in a other one.

Trying to argue with the believeability of a complete fictional world which I can change and alter every time to fit what I think is believebale for it is eaxactly why I don´t want realism into the RPG.

Cause in the end the ilusion of realism causes people one true Rokugan could exsist and it has exatcly to be how the think it is believeable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One way to bring Shugenja on par would be a more dangerous form of casting or better praying.

 

Everytime they use a prayer to call the kami they experience rapture.

1. If they are successful the effect they asked for happens but their mind is still somewhat removed from the mortal realm. Making them less aware of their surroundings. This effect can stack up, so it becomes harder and harder for them to interact with mortals on a physical and a mental level. Example to implement this instead of using Spell Slots: All skill rolls which use a trait or ring associated with that element have a malus of 1k1 for the rest of the day. Note that spell casting rolls are not a skill roll, so spell casting still works fine.

2. If they fail to cast a spell the kami they asked becomes angry at their insolence and hurt them. The damage they receive is tied to their level of rapture. They receive 1k1 damage per rank of detachment. Example: The shugenja successfully casted 2 Water and 1 Earth spell. After botching the fire spell, she receives 3k3 damage since her level of rapture is 3.

 

You could also combine that with a slower recovery rate. Instead of having the effect last until the end of the day, only one level of rapture of your choice heals during a night sleep.

 

(And yes I got the idea from the new edition of The Dark Eye, which I totally need to buy.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting idea -- but I'd flip it. If I cast a Fire spell, I'm not deficient at Agility and Intelligence-based things afterward; instead I'm weaker and less perceptive, because I'm suffused with the energy of Fire, counteracting my Water.

 

(Not at all sure I'd want this to be implemented for real, but it's an interesting idea to play with.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When used in this context, "realistic" doesn't always mean "like the real world"; it can also be used as shorthand for "internally consistent and coherent, true to its own establish rules, possessing believability within itself, having the feeling / sense of a place that could be real". 

 

But if you don't like the word "realistic" when used in this way, you could always go with "verisimilitude".

 

Versimultitude is aslo not fitting cause ithe choherence it expresses is non exsistant. Look we are tlaking about a fictional setting which has no way to prove in a sietific way that what we assume to be believeable is fitting to it. Also since it isa complete fictional thing it is easy to alter it and create your very own versions of it with you own reality inside of it. Therefore there cna´t be one true rokugan and since the idea of each Rokugan will be a different when you ask different people about their Idea about it adn the same thing will be more believeable in on version than in a other one.

Trying to argue with the believeability of a complete fictional world which I can change and alter every time to fit what I think is believebale for it is eaxactly why I don´t want realism into the RPG.

Cause in the end the ilusion of realism causes people one true Rokugan could exsist and it has exatcly to be how the think it is believeable.

 

So are you asserting that if a setting is fictional, then anything goes, and it should not or even cannot have an internally consistent and coherent set of "rules" about what is and isn't true or possible within that setting?  That a fictional world cannot have its own "physics" and "metaphysics"?

Sorry, but you've just thrown good worldbuilding in the trashcan and painted every fictional setting as a bad cartoon if that's what you're asserting.

Edited by MaxKilljoy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also if we go for one way of this there should be optional mechanics for the other way too so that both approaches could be played within the setting of Rokugan.

While that sounds nice, in practice I don't think it can work. You'd wind up designing two entirely different systems, one where characters are pretty much just people with abilities, another where they're East Asian superheroes. Those two things are never going to balance against one another, so you'd have to address each of them separately -- and, while you're at it, describe two different versions of the setting, one where people don't cause earthquakes by slamming their tetsubo against the ground, the other where they do.

About the only game I can think of that pulled anything even close to this off well is Tianxia. It has a very good section on "Describing the action and power level." It gives two examples of the same mechanics being narrated differently due to the power level of the game:

Example 1: While playing in a fairly grounded Kung Fu action game of Tianxia, Denise uses her character’s Phoenix Beats its Wings Technique to throw an opponent off-balance and create an Off Balance advantage when she defends with style (see p. 85). Keeping in the spirit and tone of the game, she says, “I step past him as he attacks, slipping the blow and tripping him as I move. I spin as he stumbles to regain his footing a few feet away.”

Example 2: While playing in an over-the top, high action wuxia style game of Tianxia, Denise uses Phoenix Beats its Wings Technique to throw off her opponent’s balance. Matching the tone of this type of game, she says, “I meet his attack in midair, redirecting my leap to roll over the blow. As I pass, I hit four pressure points on his back and neck, disrupting his Chi flow and making it harder for him to keep his equilibrium. I spin to face him right before I land, sliding to a halt in a ready stance twenty yards from him.”

Tianxia: Blood, Silk and Jade p. 102

But even then the mechanics are the same and power level is more about narrative permission than anything else. Designing mechanics for every conceivable power level is the path to madness. You'd have to design sufficiently generic mechanics that would allow such a thing. Currently there are no mechanics that allow a bushi to slam her tetsubo into the ground to cause an earthquake, about the closest we have are maneuvers and raises, to knock something down, with some narrative permission thrown in to narrate it as a small earthquake.

Edited by cparadis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they are successful the effect they asked for happens but their mind is still somewhat removed from the mortal realm. Making them less aware of their surroundings. This effect can stack up, so it becomes harder and harder for them to interact with mortals on a physical and a mental level.

If they fail to cast a spell the kami they asked becomes angry at their insolence and hurt them. The damage they receive is tied to their level of rapture. They receive 1k1 damage per rank of detachment.

If I cast a Fire spell, I'm not deficient at Agility and Intelligence-based things afterward; instead I'm weaker and less perceptive, because I'm suffused with the energy of Fire, counteracting my Water.

I think both ideas are missing an element of the will of the kami. The Commune spell describes the personalities of each type of elemental kami, while the Command spell (Imperial Histories 2) has the basic idea of how the kami become more obstinate when pushed. (or offended, I'd add) With this in mind, I would expand on what the kami will generally appreciate, tolerate, or be offended by. (non-shugenja would also rate mention here) GMs would have leeway to decide how the local kami of any given area differ, with some suggestions.

Appreciated acts would rarely be beneficial to the samurai involved, but wouldn't increase the TN of local spellcasting. Tolerated or offensive acts would increase the TN by +5 or +10, respectively. Instead of spellcasting slots, shugenja may attempt to appease the kami a limited number of times per day, and reduce the penalties to spellcasting.

Edited by BitRunr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I almost think we could go back to the "good old days" where there were only three spells- Sense, Commune, and Summon. And as you got better at summoning, sensing, or speaking to an element, they got more refined.

 

Then build in school techniques like everybody else has that reflect your Clan's/Family's/School's MO- an Isawa would get very broad static bonuses to all three (we're the best, and we understand, and blah blah blah) but, say, an Asahina would get appreciably HIGHER bonuses to applications fitting their incredibly pacifistic schtick.

 

 

It's a long, long way from ideal, but it's a place to start hammering things into shape.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I keep thinking of as this discussion goes round and round over the course of multiple threads, but that doesn't seem to have been explicitly talked about yet w/r/t shugenja, is the problem of domains of action for the main character classes.

Bushi are strongest in the martial domain. Skirmishes, dueling, scouting, guarding, commanding in battles are their thing. (With different emphases for different bushi, of course, but in general....) Characters from other classes should be able to participate in all this stuff to some extent, not just sit there twiddling their thumbs while the rest of the group gets to play, but bushi should shine.

Courtiers rock the civil domain. Winter courts, gifts and favors, arts, reading complex social situations, negotiation and persuasion, diplomacy, investigation and interrogation, all that. As above, other classes shouldn't be crippled in these situations but courtiers should fly above. The current system, as discussed (at some length) elsewhere, doesn't support this as robustly as the martial domain, but there's enough mechanics to build from and it's certainly very integral to the setting fluff.

Shugenja have... ?????

I could say 'the spiritual domain,' and it'd sound nice, but in reality there isn't really a clear equivalent space in the story structure of the game for them--a space where others can achieve competence but shugenja shine the most.

To be honest, even as a passionate big-R Roleplayer many of the things we've listed as should-be-typical shugenja activities are not stuff I'd base a game session around in the same sense as 'winter court' or 'yobanjin invasion.' You can get a story hook out of 'blessing crops,' but the potential challenges people have suggested generally sound like things to be solved with courtier and bushi skill sets--or if not that, then they require a whole bunch of communing with spirits, which isn't so much a task where shugenja shine as it is a minigame no one else can play, like hacking in Shadowrun.

What we have instead is a shugenja class that can do a small set of tasks no one else can touch--talking with elemental spirits--and then, because it's a terrible idea to base a class entirely around something no one else can participate in, they're also given a selection of spells to help them hold their own in the civil or martial domains. Then, of course, any large list of spells that will let you build a decent all-round jack of all trades can also produce über victory monsters if the player chooses to focus in just one domain instead.

So in rethinking shugenja, do you want to give them their own domain, or just pump up their spiritual fluff while balancing their participation in the bushi/courtier domains better? The first option is a more difficult and radical change, requiring a lot of creative effort, relatively speaking. The second is more incremental and tinker-y, though that doesn't mean it's easy either.

Edited by locust shell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...