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mortthepirate

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

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I can´t see why you want do something against MIn/maxers. I actually find these people very usefull cause their drive for the best mnechanical character and stats also helps in finding weaknesses of the game and than people an designers can come up with suitable fixes and rules to close the gaps the MIn/maxers found.

Doing something against them is actuall hurting the game cause yoiu than will protect the weak parts of the game.

 

 

The more I think about that, the less sense it makes.

 

Are you talking about the design and play-testing phase, or... what?  Are you confusing min-maxing (the act) with min-maxers (the players engaging in said act)? 

 

It seems like you're saying that publishing the rules in a form that discourages or reduces the act of min-maxing is bad for the game because it is the min-maxers who would find "weak parts of the game"... when it's those weak parts of the game that you've intentionally left in for them to find, because otherwise they won't find them, and that's bad?  

 

 

Huh?  :huh:

 

~~~~

 

Some select hardcore min-maxers are great to have around during the design and playtesting phases.  At the actual gaming table, in a group that's just trying to play the game?  Eh... I tend to say "not so much". 

 

 

No I actually talk about the people who are playing the game after it hit the market. The MIn/maxers which want to build the optimal character(statwise) for the area they want to play him in. Like if I want to play a sniper I go and doa min Max run on this topic looking what

the system provides me to make it most efficient.

This often leads to the fact that these players find ways to exploit the game cause they find the weaknesses the rules provide. For example that somehow nobody cared to say thta you cann´t do sneaking with a No Dachi. Or the classic sneak attack with a ballista (before it was fixed).

Finding these weaknesses helps the game to get better cause when they are found they can be fixed.

So if you implement mechnics to dicourge playerf from striving for a maximum of efficiency it will keep the system from evoling and getting better cause a system with less inconsitent rules is defiently better than before.

 

 

 

So in other words, yes, you do want to leave the system vulnerable to min-maxing, because it's the min-maxers who will find the "exploits" and thus somehow make the game better...

 

...after it's been published.    :huh:

 

 

We aren't talking about an MMO that can be patched every time someone stumbles on an unintended synergy or exponential return.   Once a pen-and-paper game is published, it's too **** late to go back and fix these things, unless you're going to publish a revised edition a year after putting out the original.  (And that's just a recipe for pissing off your customers...)

 

 

Actually a RPg can be patched very easily with a offical errate pdf.Look hod D&D is doing it. Many RPGs have no problem with this and could easily go for a Erattra.  Only when these weaknesses are not getting fixed problems arise.

Also I don´t say you are not trying to make a game without flaws or use min /maxer as excuse to publish a game with many weaknesses.,

I say doiing somehting againt the act of MI)n/maxing is a bad Idea cause they help to find the remaining weaknesses.

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I try to say that the problem with the MIn Maxers are not the players which are actuall engagded in the setting and system  but the slopy rule to not care for offical eratta.
Only when the weakness of the system is not fixed missue becomes a problem.
 

So if you want to do soemthing against them make better rules and not to try to discourage their investment in the mechniall system of a RPG they care for.

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I try to say that the problem with the MIn Maxers are not the players which are actuall engagded in the setting and system  but the slopy rule to not care for offical eratta.

Only when the weakness of the system is not fixed missue becomes a problem.

 

So if you want to do soemthing against them make better rules and not to try to discourage their investment in the mechniall system of a RPG they care for.

 

This whole sub-exchange started because we were talking about avoiding publishing the sloppy rule in the first place, and you asked why we'd want to do that by implying that it would discourage the "great sloppy rule finders" (the min-maxers)..  

 

:blink:

 

I'm done, this is both pointless, and derailing the thread. 

Edited by MaxKilljoy

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Honestly, I find the entire discussion of min / maxing in L5R amusing, all because of one simple thing that happened in Winter Court IV.

 

Homebrew Yasuki family Shiba Bushi 3 rolls around, dueling all the Kakita and winning. She is, mechanically, the best possible duelist pound for pound at our XP level.

 

And then she dueled a pre-genned Daigotsu Atsushi, who was a Daigotsu Bushi designed to be good at dueling, but far from min/maxed. Duel to the death.

 

Kharmic on the strike, and both hit. Yasuki walked out a lot more hurt than Atsushi. She then lost the initiative in the Skirmish and was cut down.

 

Just goes to show that in 4th Edition L5R? You can min max all you want, but at the end of the day, there is no escaping the power of the dice.

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The biggest problem I see of course is... in a world where everything is a spirit, and people can talk to them... they will always be more versatile than a bushi. This is especially grating to folks that want to use L5R for Samurai drama and have no real interest in the supernatural side of things.

 

1. I'm not sure removing combat spells would fix much, it might just make everyone play samurai, or have a very bored shugenja player. Most games nobody plays courtiers and the shugenja pick that role up... why? Because a Shugenja at least can handle combat with a single spell pick. And doesn't have to invest in a skill for it. 

 

2. It seems like high level shugenja are broken... the longest I've played was 1.5 years, and I never did more damage on average than the yoritomo bushi could do. But I never got my ring above 4. 

 

So... here is what I think could fix it.

 

First, I would just give spells a standard DR, just like any weapon. Then balance them like any other weapon. 

Add more skills a shugenja must learn and tie them to casting spells, negotiating with spirits, exorcising spirits, etc.

 

Make the buff/blessing spells worth it. They usually are not due to the duration being too small. At the same time limit stacking.

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The problem with shugenja is pretty simple to understand, IMO:

 

•The shugenja doing his spiritual duties is too busy blessing crops to go on the adventure.
•The shugenja who goes on the adventure with spells designed for blessing crops is going to have no fun.

 

This is why 90% of the spells have combat or social applications. Sense, Summon, and Commune serve basically every need the shugenja has when it comes to doing his spiritual duties.

 

And, I think another thing (only pointed out once that I saw in the entire discussion up until now) that people mistakenly do when discussing shugenja is to assume that every shugenja in the empire is somehow the same (ie, just like the Isawa).

For example: Shugenja shouldn't be good at blowing stuff up and fighting because their job is to be religious leaders, preach, bless, exorcise, commune with spirits, etc? Tell that to the Elemental Legions or the Agasha/Tamori shugenja.

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Holy crap has this thing blown up  :o  But I want to address this point first because it's right here at the end, all easy to get to and stuff.

The problem with shugenja is pretty simple to understand, IMO:

 

•The shugenja doing his spiritual duties is too busy blessing crops to go on the adventure.
•The shugenja who goes on the adventure with spells designed for blessing crops is going to have no fun.

 

This is why 90% of the spells have combat or social applications. Sense, Summon, and Commune serve basically every need the shugenja has when it comes to doing his spiritual duties.

 

And, I think another thing (only pointed out once that I saw in the entire discussion up until now) that people mistakenly do when discussing shugenja is to assume that every shugenja in the empire is somehow the same (ie, just like the Isawa).

For example: Shugenja shouldn't be good at blowing stuff up and fighting because their job is to be religious leaders, preach, bless, exorcise, commune with spirits, etc? Tell that to the Elemental Legions or the Agasha/Tamori shugenja.

So I think these are some good points, and I think we need to look at what our GOALS are for the DESIGN we have used ^_^.

 

If the goal is to present rules of what shugenja are supposed to be doing in their daily activities, I think the rules we have are a HUGE failure. 

 

If the Goal is to present the uses of shugenja magic that are commonly used on adventures that Players are expected to go on, than I think (when taken alone) It's alright. 

 

What I WANT out of this ruleset is for the options presented to the shugenja to be balanced with the options to be presented with the other schools.  What I find unacceptable is that the spell list makes the Shugenja OBJECTIVELY BETTER than the other schools at what they are supposed to be able to excel at.  So if you can do what i haven't been able to figure out, bringing bushi up to the destructive power of a shugenja on the battlefield, or a courtier up to the crazy mind reading effects shugenja can get in the court, I'll be happy. 

 

I think I should point out why I'm looking for these particular things, and what they are:  

 

I view L5R as a game with built in ANIMOSITY between player characters.  Loyalty to clan and family means you will be, at some point, going against the other players in your group over different objectives.  I have gotten to this view from mostly player Living Campaigns (modules that you can take your character to lots of different groups that follow a sequential order to tell the story. Real big at GenCon and DragonCon.  Called Heroes of Rokugan, you all should check it out. ) and LARPS (20-40 players on average, all different clans competing for resources and stuff).  In these situations we need to rely on the rules to provide CHARACTER balance, not PARTY balance.  

 

PARTY balance leads to games like dnd and pathfinder (ick) where everyone elses job is basically to protect the casters so they can do all the effective things.  I HATE this design philosophy and don't want to see it in L5R.  I need to know that when i my bushi goes up against another players combat specced shugenja that it is not a foregone conclusion, but will instead be based on how we have built our characters.  

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Well mort... thing is. Unless you give the bushi supernatural powers, or make it a highly ritualized combat (such as a iaijutsu duel), then the bushi will almost always lose against a combat specced shugenja. And he is meant to, I mean, if we reduce things to their most basic elements, we're talking of putting a sword against a fireball.  :unsure: If L5R wasn't a game with a high lethality (as is the case of D&D), then the bushi would have a good chance... but with the high lethality of the setting, he's (literally and figuratively) toast.

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Well mort... thing is. Unless you give the bushi supernatural powers, or make it a highly ritualized combat (such as a iaijutsu duel), then the bushi will almost always lose against a combat specced shugenja. And he is meant to, I mean, if we reduce things to their most basic elements, we're talking of putting a sword against a fireball.  :unsure: If L5R wasn't a game with a high lethality (as is the case of D&D), then the bushi would have a good chance... but with the high lethality of the setting, he's (literally and figuratively) toast.

Not at all, what we are looking at when reduce it to it's most basic is an expression of desired aesthetics.  One player has bought into the aesthetic the setting spends most of it's time selling of Bushi waging war upon each other in either vast armies or small skirmishes helping to determine the future of their clan.  Another player likes the aesthetic of dealing with spirits and slinging spells around. Why should one vastly out class the other?

 

If we can't do that, get rid of any casting done faster than minutes.

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If we can't do that, get rid of any casting done faster than minutes.

 

 

Yes, this is the solution. And one that was encouraged in the game itself... but it leads to something that you just said you didn't want to see - the bushi's role in combat being that of protecting the shugenja. 

 

Personally, I have no problem with it (it is even something that is often mentioned in fictions and the core material), but if you start by saying "I don't want this to happen", then you're stuck. Choices need to be made.

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Not at all! why are you guarding the Shugenja if they aren't useful in combat time? get them off the field of battle! there are already customs in place to ensure a shugie doesn't actually die in any sort of fight (commonly taken prisoner and ransomed back due to the rarity of those able to speak with the kami).  Unless of course those shugenja want to pick up a weapon and fight with the rest of us, in which case by all means have them stick around. 

 

Combat ability should come from investment, just like social ability should come from investment.  

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Because not all clans have the same philosophy.

Because not all clans have the same approach to combat.

Because not all clans have offensive-minded bushi schools.

 

 

Variety is the name of the game. The Lion having awesomely effective offensive bushi schools (Matsu, Akodo), that rely nothing on Shugenja for their effectiveness, is as interesting for the game as the Phoenix having a more defensive bushi school (Shiba) that has great synergy with their shugenja. Likewise, just because the Scorpion have shugenja that are amazing for the court and underhanded maneuvers (Soshi), doesn't mean the Crab shugenja (Kuni) can't have incredible resources against non-human opponents.

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So your saying that each clan should have a drastically reduced spell list?

This I think would be great.  Imagine if only crab shuggies could jade strike, only Kitsu had access to combat buff spells (most of which are battle spells) and only asahina could cast healing spells.  BOOM variety! Shugenja now have an enforced paradigm just like every other school, we are approaching some parity!

But if your saying that these are simply suggestions than I say that is not enough. Because RP restrictions on mechanical widgets just doesn't work.  

 

Which may seem like a bit of a strawman now that i reread it, but all other schools are bound by the clans philosophy in their techniques, if we regard spells part of the shugenja technique, only they don't fit this mold.  

Edited by mortthepirate

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*Throwing in between writing stuff for uni* 

Opening up is good, opening up too much is not good. Limitations are important parts of fiction, and good set of limitations can actually stimulate growth, good stories and interesting mechanical combinations as much as opening the gates on everything.

 

Also, remove spells from the book, and put them on spell cards, so they don't take space in book but still are part of basic package :D.

 

Other "special powers" system I liked -in Star Wars Saga, each time you bought Force Training feat, you got to pick certain number of Force Powers. You could pick new Powers, or Powers you already possessed. 

You could use your Force Powers as many times per day as you wished, but there was a single catch - in a single scene, you could use each Force Power only once, unless you bought it extra times or used one of recharge mechanics. 

This meant that your Jedi could force push things all the day, but in any given scene, they could do it only once, and after that, they had to resort to using other measures. 

In actual play, this lead into people spreading their powers-knowledge to gain some utility, but unless they went full Emperor and picked like 5 Force Lightnings, they weren't able to solve every problem with it. 

I liked this system, because it encouraged variety seen in many movies and action genre, where characters *use different stuff*, instead of chaining the same thing all-over-again. 

*flies away*

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Well mort... thing is. Unless you give the bushi supernatural powers, or make it a highly ritualized combat (such as a iaijutsu duel), then the bushi will almost always lose against a combat specced shugenja. And he is meant to, I mean, if we reduce things to their most basic elements, we're talking of putting a sword against a fireball.  :unsure: If L5R wasn't a game with a high lethality (as is the case of D&D), then the bushi would have a good chance... but with the high lethality of the setting, he's (literally and figuratively) toast.

I actually wholeheartedly disagree. (And I'm probably the only one!  :lol: )

 

Shugenja, in actual practice, are nowhere near as amazing as they're made out to be in forum discussions. Consider:

•Spells take a long time to cast. Even if it only takes a single Complex Action because of ML or Raises, that's still an entire turn devoted to a single effect. There is exactly one School that gets around this issue (the Tamori).

•Most of the truly powerful spells don't start until Mastery Level 4+. Since those are a total p.i.t.a. to cast quickly, most players make the most out of lower rank spells.

•"Combat shugenja" come in two varieties: Blasters and Self-Buffers.

Blasters relying on low rank spells are not going to be hugely successful unless they have bushi with them to back them up, and most low-level "blast" options don't differentiate between friend and foe. For example, Tempest of Air is an incredibly powerful spell for a Rank 1 Spell... Except you'll probably be hitting your friend's with it too. If you're alone, 1k1 damage isn't a lot and they'll just stand up if they fail the contested Ring roll, leaving you down one (precious) spell slot and your enemy angry. The Fires that Cleanse harm everything around you, including you. Etc. and so on.

Self-Buffers have an even tougher time, even if they can appear more impressive at a glance. There are a lot of really great buffing spells... until you actually get into combat. Do you have an appropriate weapon? Better summon one, say Katana of Fire. It'll be a really solid option, but that's a Complex maneuver. Are you wearing armor? You're a shugenja, so probably not, so you better throw up something defensive up like Armor of Earth to help mitigate those attacks. There's nothing that just directly bumps your ATN though (unless we're talking ranged attacks, but c'mon, that's really specific) so maybe another defensive buff; Fires of Purity is an incredibly solid spell and will go a long way to help even out the damage trade. But now we're at three Complex Actions and you haven't even attacked yet yourself. How many wounds have you taken? Can you successfully cast your spells with wound penalties? Every round you cast a spell is a round you didn't attack. Every round you attacked is a round you couldn't cast a spell. Etc.

 

Shugenja-as-Ninja have an even tougher time. Buffs make you as good, or better, than the real thing, but buff durations are pretty short across the board, and espionage is a waiting game. You have to be perfect in every way to pull off what a non-magical Ninja does without nearly as much effort.

 

Shugenja-as-Courtiers have it the worst. If you're not a Soshi, you're almost guaranteed to fail. Can you tear the secrets right out of your opponent's mind? Maybe. Can you get away with it? Probably not. Even if you manage the Stealth roll to hide your casting (you're keeping track of all your honor losses, right?) you still have no way to hide the fact that a spell was just cast. Court is put on hold. Seppun Guards/Clan Magistrates/whatever start to investigate. Heck, the only reason the Soshi get away with it is because it's what they're designed to do (and even then, the Bayushi Courtier is going to be a much more solid choice).  ;)

 

Shugenja are an amazing "bag of tricks" that can be potentially prepared for anything. But they are nowhere near as reliable as Bushi and Courtiers in their respective shticks.

Edited by Bayushi Tsubaki

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The problem with shugenja is pretty simple to understand, IMO:

 

•The shugenja doing his spiritual duties is too busy blessing crops to go on the adventure.

•The shugenja who goes on the adventure with spells designed for blessing crops is going to have no fun.

 

 

This is the problem but not for the reason you think.

 

The problem is that the setting's conception of spiritual matters is so utterly and so fundamentally disconnected from everything else that is going on, that the idea of a shugenja doing spiritual things can only conjure images of player-useless things like blessing crops.

 

This is supposed to be based on Shinto! Spirits are literally everywhere and in literally everything! That we have these guys, who speak to the entities that inhabit everything, and we can't figure out how to make them be relevant to what players are doing shows that this whole thing has really broken down somewhere.

 

If Bushi are the Physical role, and Courtiers the Social role, it seems natural to me that shugenja would be the Mental role, and they would be useful to the party by knowing things and gathering information and figuring out what is going on. But for that we need a view of spirit-communing, and a view of magic in general, that makes it a way to be more engaging while figuring things out, and not a way to bypass the process of figuring things out (as with the alleged "Commune with the water in their eyes" trick, or the Investigation charms in Exalted, where the more of those you got the less investigating you did because all you did was spend Essence and all the work was done for you).

Edited by Huitzil37

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PARTY balance leads to games like dnd and pathfinder (ick) where everyone elses job is basically to protect the casters so they can do all the effective things.  I HATE this design philosophy and don't want to see it in L5R.

The Shiba's whole schtick, more or less, is "stand between the shugenja and anyone who wants to hurt them."

And the Phoenix Clan's laughable military track record in the fluff aside, there is a solid reason for that.

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There should be relatively few combat and courtly spells in the game.

 

What there should be is a large number of spiritual and natural interactions spells that can be used for combat and courtly matters in the correct situation. 

Edited by Himoto

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So your saying that each clan should have a drastically reduced spell list?

This I think would be great.  Imagine if only crab shuggies could jade strike, only Kitsu had access to combat buff spells (most of which are battle spells) and only asahina could cast healing spells.  BOOM variety! Shugenja now have an enforced paradigm just like every other school, we are approaching some parity!

But if your saying that these are simply suggestions than I say that is not enough. Because RP restrictions on mechanical widgets just doesn't work.  

 

Which may seem like a bit of a strawman now that i reread it, but all other schools are bound by the clans philosophy in their techniques, if we regard spells part of the shugenja technique, only they don't fit this mold.  

No, I wasn't. There are some merits to that idea, but not in the molds you were writing, as they are extremely restrictive - we already have (and had) plenty of threads about "If you want a kick-ass duelist, make a Shiba or a Kakita", and similar ones about how some schools are so over-the-top in one specific 'task' so to speak. An overspecialization of the kind you mention in the Shugenja would be, I think, extremely conterproductive both in terms of player fun and setting consistency (ie.: if only Asahina heal, how the heck are the Lion injured troops surviving their trips home?)

 

However.

 

Reducing the spell list A LITTLE, and having a couple of spells that are specific to each school would be (perhaps) an interesting change. Having a number of thematic spells that are only available to 1 or 2 shugenja schools (in adition to their own Technique) would further drive the point of the individual differences between schools and clans, while preserving the Shugenja's versatility.

To put it in number, let's imagine you currently have 60 different spells that are generic - all shugenja can learn any of them. Reducing such list to, let's say, 30, and then give each shugenja school a list of 3-4 "Secret Spells only those of our Dojo know of", would be an interesting twist on things.

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Certainly having the Tamori, Agasha, and Isawa, for example, have bushi-buffing spells while the Kitsu, Asahina, and so on don't is one way of doing things.

 

Actually, going this route and giving the Isawa access to almost every spell list while limiting the others would be a solid way of representing the family's supposed predominance without making individual shugenja more powerful, on average.

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There should be relatively few combat and courtly spells in the game.

 

What there should be is a large number of spiritual and natural interactions spells that can be used for combat and courtly matters in the correct situation. 

I don't see the difference.

Could you give specific examples to show what you mean?

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I guess he means switching from something like this:

"Ye Olde Fireball
Cast Ye Olde Fireball on enemy, do FireKFire damage."

to

"Playing with Fire

You befriend a playful Fire Kami, who manifests in your hands as a ball of fire. You may use this ball of fire to interact with the world - lighting up the night, providing warmth even in middle of snowstorm, teaming up with the Kami to dispel certain spiritual effects vulnerable to power of fire, and in case of emergency, you may use your friend as a thrown weapon with range of 20ft and Firek2 damage. After striking your enemies (or not), Kami will return to your hand at the end of the turn.

Blabla Raises blabla fun"

Which means that you get multitool spell, that can be used to enable you ability to do Athletics/Agility fire attacks at your enemies.

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