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Shadowlands Speculation

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I expect the first deluxe box will be Shadowlands, and given the human-centric focus of the story in this version of the game I would expect to see something like the early Spider Clan pre-Iweko's Idiot Bargain for the Shadowlands. At least in part. If we get multiple strongholds over time, I would think that there would end up being a Lost stronghold and a Horde stronghold in there, with the former focusing more on mechanics to represent infiltrating Rokugani society, and the Horde being big dumb monsters.

 

As long as it is not this games equivalent of -19 honor and cannot lose by dishonor I do not think the Shadowlands will be a problem mechanically.

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2 hours ago, Cold Iron1 said:

From what I have heard the first buch of delux boxes are clan focused. They also implied it would be two clans. If so with the odd number I could see a crab/shadowlands box.

Do we have confirmation that deluxe boxes will be like this, or is it just fan speculation?

(I'd like it to be true, but the desires of players are not always borne out.)

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My speculation is based on the first two deluxe boxes for WH40k:Conquest being Necrons and Tyranids. Early deluxe boxes seems like a good place to introduce factions that FFG did not feel were necessary to creating the game, or were too expensive to include as fully developed factions. The most obvious of these is Shadowlands. If there is an additional deluxe add on faction I would suspect Minor Clan Alliance/Mantis.

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On 6/20/2017 at 3:16 AM, Cold Iron1 said:

From what I have heard the first buch of delux boxes are clan focused. They also implied it would be two clans. If so with the odd number I could see a crab/shadowlands box.

I don't think FFG has said anything about deluxe boxes period

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While I'd wish it were soo (Shadowlands deluxe box) I doubt it would be come so soon. After all, the wave of blood must leave the land barren before it becomes a battlefield. What I expect  for the moment is a slow trickle of neutral Shadowlands creatures. Later on, we might get a card (an stronghold or an AGOT-agenda equivalent) that allows you to play has its own faction in time for the second DoT.

Edited by Mon no Oni

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24 minutes ago, SirEuain said:

I'd expect that the first new clan revealed would be Mantis. They've dropped plenty of hints that Yoritomo's coming, and Mantis would be miles easier to implement than Shadowlands.

The Mantis would still be a minor clan. So, it would probably be a Minor Clan Alliance type of set.

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Speaking as a Spider Clan player...

The Shadowlands Horde (Yogo Junzo's Army) of the old LCG cannot function in the model provided by the current LCG. Having it be a Deluxe Box with its own faction and rules (a la the Tyrannid faction) might be a solution, but it would both undermine the current proposition of the game (Conflict between Clans) and need some serious modifications of the design space to work.

Having there be Unaligned Personalities with Shadowlands who represent the demons, ogres, and goblins that sometimes come into play, however, would be perfect. These would be Personalities in your Conflict deck, ideally. The Conflict deck is supposed to represent hidden information that might be shameful and (potentially dirty) tricks that you can call on for victory. What is a sudden Oni other than a dirty, secret trick?

If the Spider Clan does come back, I would be happy to see them as a group of infiltrators, masquerading as otherwise normal samurai who are sworn to the service of Fu Leng as their founding kami. That is what works best in the Rokugan we have been shown so far. Give us human, normal Spider Clan Personalities who can be placed in the Conflict deck of another faction for several expansions. If, and that is a BIG IF, we ever receive our own stronghold, let it be because we earned it.

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9 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

If the Spider Clan does come back, I would be happy to see them as a group of infiltrators, masquerading as otherwise normal samurai who are sworn to the service of Fu Leng as their founding kami. That is what works best in the Rokugan we have been shown so far. Give us human, normal Spider Clan Personalities who can be placed in the Conflict deck of another faction for several expansions. If, and that is a BIG IF, we ever receive our own stronghold, let it be because we earned it.

The problem with that, though, is it's unsustainable. The Spider got away with it somewhat plausibly for one arc (and even then, people twigged on), and each successive arc made everyone else look more and more ridiculous. If and when the Spider return -- and I sincerely hope they do, the players deserve it -- it needs to be in a way that doesn't detract so badly from everyone else.

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2 hours ago, SirEuain said:

I'd expect that the first new clan revealed would be Mantis. They've dropped plenty of hints that Yoritomo's coming, and Mantis would be miles easier to implement than Shadowlands.

There has been a total of ONE hint of Yoritomo's coming and that was a name drop in the Crane fiction and that hint stated nothing more than that he was a pirate.  There have been many more hints at the shadowlands so far in the clan intro paragraphs.  

Quote

Amid this infighting, the largest and most dangerous Shadowlands army ever recorded marches on the great Carpenter Wall in the south. A combined force of goblins, ogres, undead, and legendary demons known as oni threaten to spread their darkness and destroy civilization in the name of Fu Leng, the fallen Kami. Hida Kisada of the Crab Clan and his children must gain the support of the entire Empire to turn back the tide of destruction or risk being broken beneath the evil Shadowlands onslaught.

 

1 hour ago, sndwurks said:

The Shadowlands Horde (Yogo Junzo's Army) of the old LCG cannot function in the model provided by the current LCG. Having it be a Deluxe Box with its own faction and rules (a la the Tyrannid faction) might be a solution, but it would both undermine the current proposition of the game (Conflict between Clans) and need some serious modifications of the design space to work.

Why can it not function in the current LCG model?  I've proposed ways and several other people have proposed ways that all seem feasible without modifying the rules at all.  In fact, I would say the current model makes yogo junzo's army more functional.  The reason all those cards had giant honor losses associated wtih them before is because anyone could play them in their decks.  With the LCG model, the shadowlands cards you want splashable would be neutral and the rest would be YJA alligned and therefore could be printed without honor loss and played in any deck.  Also, don't make YJA immune to dishonor or unable to win an honor victory.  Congratulations, you don't need to change any core rules to insert YJA.

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3 hours ago, SirEuain said:

The problem with that, though, is it's unsustainable. The Spider got away with it somewhat plausibly for one arc (and even then, people twigged on), and each successive arc made everyone else look more and more ridiculous. If and when the Spider return -- and I sincerely hope they do, the players deserve it -- it needs to be in a way that doesn't detract so badly from everyone else.

This is a setting where the Kolat, despite being openly purged multiple times, have been able to infiltrate the empire for thousands of years. This is also a setting where the Scorpion are able to continue hiding the fact that they use ninjas. Rokugan is a system of rules, so long as you keep those rules nobody asks questions. This is the perfect setting for infiltration.

The idea that a shadowlands group could infiltrate the empire through a minor clan is stupidly easy to grasp. Hell, the only reason Iweko was fully able to discern the truth about the Spider was ONLY because the heavens told her the truth, not much else.

The infiltration of the empire was the best part of the Spider clan, because it made a lot of sense because of the setting.

 

As for the new game, it would be easy to slowly build into a Spider/shadowlands conspiracy. I would do the following if it was me:

Make them conflict deck characters, some for every clan, sharing the clan they are infiltrating while also having the Spider/shadowlands keyword, which ever works for the story. They don't have to be released all at once, just slowly as we progress through the story and the expansions. If you want to go with an unaligned dude or two the Order of the Spider are perfect for that, either way, FFG could spend a year hinting at their plans in the story while also sprinkling them here and there into the expansion packs.

Finally, when the story hits a major point for the conspiracy you release an expansion showing the conspiracy acting. Print a stronghold that makes all *Spider/Shadowlands* cards playable without worrying about influence, maybe even allowing you to turn them into dynasty playable characters (Probably not due to card backs being different but still) allowing one to basically build a shadowlands/spider deck with these characters that have been slowly built up over the years as well as characters printed specifically for this stronghold. Its kind of like how AEG did the same with the Imperial Keyword in Emperor Edition, making a stronghold that suddenly turned them into a unified faction, even though they were originally all over the place. Hell, Imperial already IS a keyword, hinting that we might see "Imperial Matters" cards in the future.

FFG can do whatever they want with the mechanics, even lay the foundations for new factions YEARS before that faction becomes relevant. If they wanted to make an infiltrating faction, there is SOOOO much room for that design wise.

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2 minutes ago, TheItsyBitsySpider said:

This is a setting where the Kolat, despite being openly purged multiple times, have been able to infiltrate the empire for thousands of years.

Not really a selling point. :-P I find the depiction of the Kolat to be profoundly annoying and implausible.

 

3 minutes ago, TheItsyBitsySpider said:

This is also a setting where the Scorpion are able to continue hiding the fact that they use ninjas.

Uh, hiding *what*? Everybody knows the Scorpion use dishonorable tricksters. There may be an imperial decree saying "nope, no such thing as ninja!," but that's not the same as actually succeeding in pulling the wool over anybody's eyes.

 

4 minutes ago, TheItsyBitsySpider said:

The idea that a shadowlands group could infiltrate the empire through a minor clan is stupidly easy to grasp. Hell, the only reason Iweko was fully able to discern the truth about the Spider was ONLY because the heavens told her the truth, not much else.

The fact that Iweko wasn't able to see what was going on until the Story Team fiatted that it should be so isn't proof that the story was well-executed and believable. In fact, it reinforces the point: in order to make the plot go the way the writers wanted, the characters had to be stupid and blind until the Heavens (read: the Story Team) decided it was time.

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Just now, Kinzen said:

Uh, hiding *what*? Everybody knows the Scorpion use dishonorable tricksters. There may be an imperial decree saying "nope, no such thing as ninja!," but that's not the same as actually succeeding in pulling the wool over anybody's eyes.

 

The fact that Iweko wasn't able to see what was going on until the Story Team fiatted that it should be so isn't proof that the story was well-executed and believable. In fact, it reinforces the point: in order to make the plot go the way the writers wanted, the characters had to be stupid and blind until the Heavens (read: the Story Team) decided it was time.

Yes, so you want me to believe that the scorpion survived with the 6 other clans knowing, not just having suspicions but KNOWING that they use assassination and ninjas, literally the dirtiest things possible in the setting (remember, in the 4th edition RPG the only thing worse on the dishonor scale was the Dark Lord himself)... no, they have hidden that practice from everyone. That's KIND OF the point of ninjas.

There are no lions standing there going "oh jeeze, those Scorpion are using them ninja's again... guess we have to replace our now dead generals."

There is a world of a difference between doing dirty things like blackmail and gossip vs the honorless crimes of assassination, poison, and ninjas. The accusation of use of Ninja's is one of the most serious accusations you can level. No one is sitting on their hands over that issue, if a clan clearly knew what the scorpion were doing they would war right there, the rumor spreading like wild fire. This is a setting where a single insult can set clans to war and create grudges that last generations, no one would let "scorpion use ninjas" go. Its for this reason that Scorpion makes sure there are no witnesses period. Problems simply disappear because they spent 1000 years mastering keeping that a secret, just like any infiltrating faction of assassins would. Its unrealistic to think that they went 1000 years without a single true mess up, that part is true, but that is how the scorpion work. No one has squash them because no one has realized they are the source of the ninjas.  

And saying that Iweko not noticing the actions of an infiltrating force, moving slowly with careful precision, doing what a faction of spies are SUPPOSED to do, is just "story team fiat"... I don't know how to respond to that. "Infiltration is dumb because the good guys don't see it coming"... well yeah, the whole point is to not see it coming, shadowlands infiltrating the empire is a very real thing in the setting, entire schools exist about them blending in and hiding their true motives. Look at the Infiltration of the Sparrow, it took years to slowly enter the clan and move their way up the leadership, and that is without the inherent powers shadowlands could provide. WITH those powers you get powerful abilities and things like Bog hags, kansen dark whisperers and that one quiet ronin in the pub. Hell, the Goju are LITTERALLY shadows, you don't just notice they exist.

The Spider infiltrated the empire through the Order of Venom, a specific monk order and by paying bandits to attack towns, only to arrive at the right time to "save" those towns, earning a reputation as heroes of the people. They hired random ronin, wowed them with the idea that they were saving others and doing good deeds, while slowly corrupting them into agents. Most of the major clans ignored them initially because their operation was small. Helping out the Unicorn aided them, then their own actions continued to earn favors... none of that is unbelievable or implausible, not in this setting, infact its the only really reasonable way they COULD infiltrate the empire really on that kind of scale.

You can just not like infiltrators, its clear you do, but they ARE supposed to infiltrate, and shadowlands doing it is perfectly plausible, I mean the history of Rokugan is littered with maho cults infiltrating the countryside and positions of leadership, some discovered before they could act while others are only realized well afterwords. Its the nature of the setting.  

  

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Infiltration is fine as an entry point in the story. Playing the entire empire as patsies for a decade of real life wasn't. The Scorpion having ninja's nowhere near the same thing, since the Scorpion didn't use them every minute of every day as part of a plan to break the empire. People that wanted the Scorpion dead didn't constantly monitor the Scorpion for ninja and get told that their clans just magically didn't notice things like Scorpion ninja butchering and eating an entire family of a clan.

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Am I the only person who is disappointed that the Scorpion and Spider were the only one with ninjas? 

All the clans have used assassins at one point or another. All the clans have some dishonorable people. I want the Ninja card to be neutral card anybody can use. Yes scorpion does it best. But you better believe that every other clan has had a small school of assassins and spies at some point. To one degree or another. Why not admit it and call them Ninja? 

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3 minutes ago, TheItsyBitsySpider said:

Yes, so you want me to believe that the scorpion survived with the 6 other clans knowing, not just having suspicions but KNOWING that they use assassination and ninjas, literally the dirtiest things possible in the setting (remember, in the 4th edition RPG the only thing worse on the dishonor scale was the Dark Lord himself)... no, they have hidden that practice from everyone. That's KIND OF the point of ninjas.

In a setting where Bushido is an ideal that not everybody actually lives up to all the time? Yep, I absolutely believe that. Especially when the Crane also have ninja, and so do the Lion, and so do the Phoenix . . . not that people call them ninja within the setting, of course. They're just the guys you bring in when you need a bit of dirty work done. Somewhere in the "sacred cows" thread someone was saying they hoped the idea would die that you are either SUCH BUSHIDO VERY HONOR WOW or else pure irredeemable filth. The Scorpion work just fine so long as you don't assume they are 100% poison backstab murder lying assassin scum every waking second and most of their sleeping, too. They're the guys who have fewer scruples about using those things when it might be handy, is all.

What they aren't is supernaturally corrupted. Except for the ones twisted by the Lying Darkness -- and hey, what do you know, those are the ones they keep very, very secret.

 

10 minutes ago, TheItsyBitsySpider said:

And saying that Iweko not noticing the actions of an infiltrating force, moving slowly with careful precision, doing what a faction of spies are SUPPOSED to do, is just "story team fiat"... I don't know how to respond to that. 

If that's written plausibly. But we have abundant evidence that quite a lot of players looked at the story as it was actually written and went, "uh, what? That isn't subtle at all. How are the characters not noticing this and putting two and two together?" The failure of narrative execution is exactly what this argument is about. I agree wholeheartedly that you can have a great story about infiltrators getting their infiltration on -- but that requires the writing to persuade the reader that it's being done well. Go look at the "Price of War" thread for this exact same argument, Tactical Flavor Edition; a lot of readers there are unconvinced that Toturi in specific or the Lion in general showed any real tactical intelligence, regardless of what they were supposed to have gotten out of it.

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I don't think introducing Shadowlands into the LCG is going to be a problem, mechanically.  The problem that ultimately comes up is how to implement the story to be consistent with the game.  Shadowlands generally appears in one of a few ways: infiltration, corruption, and horde.  All of them provide great story opportunities, but, some are easier to pull off than others in a way that maintains the synergy between story and game.

Corruption is pretty easy.  We know the temptation for power exists and even the most noble of samurai can succumb to that temptation.  It can easily be represented in the Shadowlands cards with additional honor losses and present  a risk/reward decision that impacts the game and story as well. Clans using Shadowlands could get suspected of doing really bad things and we could even see in clan Shadowlands cards at some point.  This would be a continuing story point that can be represented in the cards with little effort.  I.e. the world's top 2 decks play with Shadowlands cards in their deck so each get one of their characters printed with the Shadowlands trait in the next expansion.  When those cards come out if players continue to add more and more Shadowlands characters they could end up causing further corruption within the Clan and get more and more cards printed with Shadowlands.  Or maybe the clan loyalists work to play pure decks to try and redeem themselves and stop the printing of future Shadowlands cards.

Horde is not too difficult to implement either as I'm sure the FFG design team is capable of integrating a Shadowlands faction if they do choose.  It will probably happen at some point.  It's kind of the natural progression of corruption and easily shown by once mighty clans getting more and more corrupted cards to the point where they are no longer able to justify the growing number of Shadowlands characters in their ranks and become part of the Horde.  This is something that could be a neat story prize and even implemented in a way that directly ties story results to the creation of the Shadowlands stronghold or not.  For example FFG could have great prizes that go to the top clans for story events, good enough prizes to encourage players to take a risk with Shadowlands cards.  If the decklists are continually full to Shadowlands cards then maybe that accelerates the release of the Shadowlands stronghold so the story would reflect an empire taken by surprise.  The eventual problem that I see with this is that we end up with the same cycle of the obvious Shadowlands vs everyone else story that would eventually run its course and repeating it over and over would detract from the clan vs clan dynamics. It could be great too but history has shown that L5R players can only take so much redundancy.

Infiltration while probably the coolest and most realistic course for Fu Leng to take if he wanted to overthrow the empire is just too difficult to connect the story and the cards in a way so that what you see on the table related to the story.  I loved reading how the Spider took over the Sparrow clan and eventually became their own great clan but it just felt forced and somewhat awkward to play with characters who were openly overthrowing the empire they were a part of with the aid of the Shadowlands that are also somehow part of the empire but we really don't know it but we do....?????? Whatever just have Kanpeki snap something like a twig and lets move on.  If FFG could pull it off I'd love to see a slow infiltration that nobody could see coming or easily identify in the cards until it was too late. 

Shadowlands are coming there is no doubt in my mind.  I just hope it's done in a way that is cool.  If they can't capture the coolness of the Shadowlands then I'll be a sad Oni.

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1 minute ago, Ishi Tonu said:

I don't think introducing Shadowlands into the LCG is going to be a problem, mechanically.  The problem that ultimately comes up is how to implement the story to be consistent with the game.  Shadowlands generally appears in one of a few ways: infiltration, corruption, and horde.  All of them provide great story opportunities, but, some are easier to pull off than others in a way that maintains the synergy between story and game.

Corruption is pretty easy.  We know the temptation for power exists and even the most noble of samurai can succumb to that temptation.  It can easily be represented in the Shadowlands cards with additional honor losses and present  a risk/reward decision that impacts the game and story as well. Clans using Shadowlands could get suspected of doing really bad things and we could even see in clan Shadowlands cards at some point.  This would be a continuing story point that can be represented in the cards with little effort.  I.e. the world's top 2 decks play with Shadowlands cards in their deck so each get one of their characters printed with the Shadowlands trait in the next expansion.  When those cards come out if players continue to add more and more Shadowlands characters they could end up causing further corruption within the Clan and get more and more cards printed with Shadowlands.  Or maybe the clan loyalists work to play pure decks to try and redeem themselves and stop the printing of future Shadowlands cards.

Horde is not too difficult to implement either as I'm sure the FFG design team is capable of integrating a Shadowlands faction if they do choose.  It will probably happen at some point.  It's kind of the natural progression of corruption and easily shown by once mighty clans getting more and more corrupted cards to the point where they are no longer able to justify the growing number of Shadowlands characters in their ranks and become part of the Horde.  This is something that could be a neat story prize and even implemented in a way that directly ties story results to the creation of the Shadowlands stronghold or not.  For example FFG could have great prizes that go to the top clans for story events, good enough prizes to encourage players to take a risk with Shadowlands cards.  If the decklists are continually full to Shadowlands cards then maybe that accelerates the release of the Shadowlands stronghold so the story would reflect an empire taken by surprise.  The eventual problem that I see with this is that we end up with the same cycle of the obvious Shadowlands vs everyone else story that would eventually run its course and repeating it over and over would detract from the clan vs clan dynamics. It could be great too but history has shown that L5R players can only take so much redundancy.

Infiltration while probably the coolest and most realistic course for Fu Leng to take if he wanted to overthrow the empire is just too difficult to connect the story and the cards in a way so that what you see on the table related to the story.  I loved reading how the Spider took over the Sparrow clan and eventually became their own great clan but it just felt forced and somewhat awkward to play with characters who were openly overthrowing the empire they were a part of with the aid of the Shadowlands that are also somehow part of the empire but we really don't know it but we do....?????? Whatever just have Kanpeki snap something like a twig and lets move on.  If FFG could pull it off I'd love to see a slow infiltration that nobody could see coming or easily identify in the cards until it was too late. 

Shadowlands are coming there is no doubt in my mind.  I just hope it's done in a way that is cool.  If they can't capture the coolness of the Shadowlands then I'll be a sad Oni.

Do you have a 'Sad Oni Face'?:)

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Narratively, the challenge to incorporating Yogo Junzo's Army / The Shadowlands Horde into the game is that it simply does not play with the idea of "feuding samurai". Having them be an antagonist faction in the storyline? Sure. Deluxe set where it plays like the old Siege mechanic? Sure. As its own faction? At this point, I think it is too much of a departure from the format being presented to be possible.

Honestly, I do not expect to see the Shadowlands Horde or the Spider Clan to ever become their own faction. While they are popular, and have their adherents (and always will), Yoritomo's Alliance will likely get seen long before then. If the Spider Clan get included in the game, I would honestly prefer to see them as Conflict-side Personalities with their own Faction and Influence Cost, but no Stronghold of their own. And have the Spider Clan, in the lore, be mostly considered a group of sketchy ronin and unscrupulous monks that only particularly shady people make deals with, who have probably more influence than they should. And have the idea that they are the descendants of Fu Leng's mortal followers, just quietly waiting for their lord's return? Be something that may get found out from time to time, but it gets stamped out when it does... and then the histories get edited by the Ikoma and the Shosuro to remove any trace of the Fu Leng worship, since they do not want anyone getting any ideas.

And then the surprise is fresh again a few decades later, across the Empire, when it gets discovered again.

Basically, I would like to see the Rokugani social norm of "Ignore shame and dishonor until it goes away!" to leave them unable to take a concentrated effort to permanently wipe out any such ideological threats.

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I'd like Shadowlands as its own faction without going so far as to create the Spider(speaking as a fan of the Spider). They just never felt right as an actual clan. There can still be courtiers and strong personalities without legitimizing them as a great clan. Or just make them all neutrals and add various sensei or agenda type cards which both reign them in and provide decent game flavor.  Nothing so crazy as swapping honor/dishonor win conditions, but maybe removing the option of honor victory altogether, while retaining dishonor loss, or preventing all their characters from becoming honored, or a mechanic which plays with the honor/dishonor balance in a more thematic way.   That said, I'm happy with the clans we currently have.

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