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AtoMaki

AtoMaki's Beta Test Game(s)

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This story seems like it was a riot, but this reads as though outbursts ripped your game apart.

With all of your party in-fighting each other and getting thrown out of NSACs, in hindsight would you say the strife-caused outbursts added to the enjoyment / plot / story or drew away from it?

Edit:
For positive or negative, your story seems -driven- by outbursts. Would you consider that a positive or negative, and do you feel as though that's the intention of the designers?

Edited by GhostSanta

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11 minutes ago, GhostSanta said:

With all of your party in-fighting each other and getting thrown out of NSACs, in hindsight would you say the strife-caused outbursts added to the enjoyment / plot / story or drew away from it?

2

Added fun but drew away seriousness. I'd say it was an 1:1 exchange. 

Also, NSAC was a lost cause. Apparently, Kitara messed that one up way before Yue had her Outburst. Suten was just looking for an excuse to throw us out. 

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On 10/18/2017 at 9:21 AM, AtoMaki said:

Also, I'm watching now a session that forfeited the Strife/Outburst mechanic. Surprise (or not so), but the game is going on without a bump, and there are some pretty darn awesome things happening at the table. 

Here's a FATE-ish thought. Not suggesting it for the beta, but if Strife isn't a table's thing, the table might ignore Strife altogether and keep Outbursts similar to FATE compels.

In FATE, any player or the GM can offer another player a Fate Point (read Void Point) to do something in accordance with their traits that is a bad idea (read have an Outburst).

This immediately gives incentive to Outbursts, and keeps them, without the tracking of Strife as written.

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The "Strife is Threat test run" short adventure has just concluded. I have a feeling that this isn't a way to go, unfortunately. Made the game considerably more complicated and tedious. It was almost like being flung to the other extreme, as keeping Strife/Threat results became a pretty harsh decision that needed a lot of thinking. It also didn't mesh too well with the Opportunity system. 

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We yet against spent 24xp to improve our characters as per the following (changes are bolded and underlined):

Akodo Yue,  Lion Clan, Akodo Commander, Certifiable Commander

Rings: Air 1, Earth 3, Fire 1, Water 3, Void 3

Skills: Command 3, Courtesy 1, Government 2, Fitness 2, Martial Arts (Melee) 2, Martial Arts (Unarmed) 1, Meditation 1, Performance 1, Tactics 2, Theology 1

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Techniques:  Iron Forest Style, Striking as EarthStriking as Water, Warrior's Resolve, Lord Akodo's Roar, Commune with the Spirits

School Ability: Way of the Lion (Rank 2)

Glory: 47

Honor: 65 (Paragon of Truth)

Status: 36

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Famously Reliable

Passion Advantage: Playfulness

Adversity Disadvantage: Whispers of Insanity

Anxiety Disadvantage: Delusions of Grandeur 

Mentor Advantage: Indomitable Will

Derived Attributes: 

Resilience (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 12

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 2

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 8

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 2

Void Points: 3

 

Doji Kitara,  Crane Clan, Doji Diplomat, Accursed Innocent

Rings: Air 3, Earth 2, Fire 4, Water 2, Void 2

Skills: Commerce 1, Composition 2, Courtesy 2, Culture 3, Design 2, Martial Arts (Melee) 1, Sentiment 2, Survival 1, Theology 1

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: Shallow Waters, Lady Doji's Decree, Truth Burns Through Lies, Well of Desire

School Ability: Speaking in Silence

Glory: 50

Honor: 53

Status: 35

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Ally

Passion Advantage: Travel

Adversity Disadvantage: Gaijin Appearance

Anxiety Disadvantage: Dark Secret

Mentor Disadvantage: Disdain for Honor

Derived Attributes: 

Resilience (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 8

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 7

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 12

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 3

Void Points: 2

 

Isawa Macha,  Phoenix Clan, Isawa Elementalist, Inquisitor's Seer

Rings: Air 2, Earth 2, Fire 3, Water 3, Void 2

Skills: Composition 1Courtesy 2, Medicine 2, Meditation 2, Tactics 1, Theology 4

Techniques available: Invocations, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: Dance of Seasons, ExtinguishGrasp of Earth, The Fires from Within, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air, Commune with Spirits, Divination, Purification Rites, Threshold Barrier

School Ability: 

Glory: 54

Honor: 34

Status: 35

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Sixth Sense

Passion Advantage: Daredevil

Adversity Disadvantage: Maimed Visage

Anxiety Disadvantage: Intolerance (mahotsukai)

Mentor Advantage: Subtle Observer

Derived Attributes: 

Resilience (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 10

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 5

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 10

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 3

Void Points: 2

 

By the way, despite our initial impressions, Macha does not rule the game with her shugenja magic. She is pretty darn useful, but her effectiveness drops sharply if Yue is not around. Kitara is the only one who is kinda lagging behind, mostly because Yue is pretty formidable at court too, so Kitara is kinda left in the dust. 

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As it happened, we did not have a session on last Saturday, but we are going to have one on this Wednesday. We plan to try out the "new" Unmasking rules and I'm looking forward to abuse the crap out of the new Water Stance :D

We will also get a fourth PC, the "dropped" player from the first post. He finally realized that he was missing out on the fun :D

More soon. 

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Okay, I have just finished with an amped-up version of 'A Ronin's Path'. It was a surprisingly fun and well-written adventure, to be honest. I liked it. 

Most of the session went with the basic premise of the adventure module, only differences being some increased difficulty as the PCs were kinda overcompentent, and Yasuki Hatsu being behind Ide Iyoshi's kidnapping. Funnily enough, the latter was only an afterword because Yue slaughtered poor Keinosuke in the duel (my rolls were disgusting) before he could explain the plot. There were also some disturbances at the end because poor Tomonatsu successfully triggered Yue's Delusion of Grandeur and got quasi-replaced as the commander after failing to answer the Anti-Crab Fallacy properly. In the end, the Crab scored a sound victory (they only suffered 3 casualties from the ghosts), and the party decided to take a small bypass and recover Yue's ancestral sword from the Kuni. We will continue there with all kinds of fun, like singing happy songs with our new friend Kuni Terumi and picking up a new PC. 

A few things we noticed:

  • As we grow increasingly familiar with the system, it becomes harder and harder to slip on badly worded and similarly "mishappen" rules. The system flows very well, and it is extremely easy to skip problematic parts and just improvise something that works while remaining true to the spirit of the game. 
  • The only thing that still stuck with us was the Skill list. The game needs more Skills. Something like twice the current number and the existing Skills need a serious redo. 
  • The new Compromised/Unmasking mechanics are kinda... 'meh' I guess? Strife is now harder to get rid of, but there is considerably more time to do it, and there was some confusion about why a character can't do a calming breath outside of conflict. Like, can two PCs initiate an Intrigue against each other, take nothing else but Calming Breaths, and give up once they zero'd their Strife? 
  • The new Water Stance is king. The Assistance spam I did with Yue against the Oni was beyond human description. This might actually throw off the Akodo Commander because the school is already Water-heavy, and with Iron Forest Style at Rank 1 as well as the pretty darn good School Ability to boot, the Akodo Commander is an absolute beast in combat. 
  • This kinda ties back to the first point, but we all agreed that while the system flows well, it has an insanely steep learning curve. I... don't know if this is good for the game. 

That is all for now.

 

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Here it comes, the fourth PC!

Shosuro Akiko, Meek Infiltrator

Part I: Core Identity (Clan and Family)

1. What clan does your character belong to? 

Scorpion Clan

Ring Increase: +1 Air

Skill Increase: +1 Skullduggery

Status: 35

2. What family does your character belong to?

Shosuro

Ring Increase: +1 Air

Skill Increases: +1 Courtesy, +1 Performance

Glory: 40

Part II: Role and School

3. What is your character’s role and school? 

Shosuro Infiltrator

Ring Increases: +1 Fire, +1 Water (replacing the +1 Air)

Skill Increases: +1 Fitness, +1 Courtesy, +1 Performance, +1 Martial Arts (Melee), +1 Skulduggery

Techniques Available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: Soaring Slice, Sensational Distraction

Honor: 30

School Ability: The Path of Shadows

Starting Outfit: GM decided to handwave outfit. She has whatever she needs. Her usual equipment is a knife, shurikens, and fine clothes. 

4. How does your character stand out within their school? 

Akiko was always one of the more energetic students, maybe because of her far-flung Yogo ancestry. This aspect of her was eventually crumped back by her teachers, but she is still prone to bouts of impetuousness and fervor. 

Ring Increase: +1 Fire

Part III: Honor and Glory

5. What is your character’s duty to their lord?

Oh no, this is plot! Personally, I have a distant guess of having three women killed for causing a lot of trouble around the Scorpion Clan :D !

6. What does your character long for?

Section is pending. 

7. What is your character’s opinion of their clan?

The Scorpion is strong, but Akiko doubts whether their traditional role as the villains of Rokugan still stands. Despite this internal conflict, she tries her best to live up to her clan's (supposed) standards. 

+5  glory

8. What does your character think of Bushidō?

Villains shouldn't concern themselves with honor. This stands double for people like her. 

+1 Skulduggery

Part IV: Strengths and Weaknesses

9 What is your character’s greatest accomplishment so far?

Akiko is small and petite, almost child-like in appearance despite being an adult woman. Not really an accomplishment, but she has gotten good use of this so far.

Distinction advantage: Small Stature

10. What holds your character back the most in life?

Akiko is officially banned from wearing a mask for any reason. This cruel restriction was implemented by her first (not very bright) lord who wanted to shape her into an infiltrator who can easily pass as a non-Scorpion and thus lacks the most Scorpion-like feature: a mask. Later lords found this order amusing and continued implementing it, much to Akiko's frustration.

Adversity disadvantage: No Mask (obvious narrative hinderance plus the mechanical penalty when interacting with a fellow Scorpion)

11. What activity makes your character feel at peace?

Akiko loves acting and every kind of theatric activity when she can finally shed her usual reserved and meek self. 

Passion Advantage: Theatrics

12. What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?

Her training left Akiko a little lacking in terms of self-respect and she has a hard time to assert her will over others. She prefers to blend into the shadows rather than stand in the light.

Anxiety disadvantage: Meekness

13 Who has your character learned the most from during their life?

Despite her teachers' somewhat misguided effort to blunt her blossoming personality, they sure taught her well in terms of physical feats neccessary for her duty. 

Mentor Advantage: Flexible

14. What detail do others find most striking about your character?

Because she can't have a mask she covers her face with intricate makeups ranging from designs borrowed from the Kuni Purifiers or the Moto Death priests to more traditional patterns. In the end, this tends to balance out the fact that she is still a Scorpion without a mask. 

15. How does your character react to stressful situations?

She steps back and let the darkness hide her. If all fails, she simply disappears from the scene. 

16. What are your character’s preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organizations, and traditions?

She is well-connected in the world of theater troupes and has a vast collection of makeup kits as a result. 

Part VI: Ancestry and Family

17. How would your character’s parents describe them?

She is a successful child if a little embarrassing because of that order. More interestingly, Akiko's family is rather backstabby and have various ongoing conflicts and rivalries between the branches, forcing the girl to pick up some "people skill". 

+1 Sentiment

18. Who was your character named to honor?

Shosuro Akiko was a talented actress and the founding matriarch of this particular family lineage. Her marrying a Yogo to cement the power of her bloodline was somewhat unwise tho. 

Dynasty Builder -3 Glory, +1 Performance

19. What is your character’s personal name?

Akiko means "autumn child". 

Part VII: Death

20. How should your character die?

Betrayed by a family member and stabbed in the back. This kinda runs in the family. 

 

Shosuro Akiko,  Scorpion Clan, Shosuro Infiltrator, Meek Infiltrator

Rings: Air 3, Earth 1, Fire 3, Water 3, Void 2

Skills: Aesthetics 2, Courtesy 2, Fitness 3, Performance 3, Martial Arts (Melee) 2, Martial Arts (Ranged) 2, Meditation 1, Sentiment 1, Skulduggery 3

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: Soaring Slice, Sensational Distraction, Striking as Fire, Veiled Menace Style

School Ability: The Path of Shadows (Rank 2)

Glory: 42

Honor: 30

Status: 35

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Small Stature

Passion Advantage: Theatrics

Adversity Disadvantage: No Mask

Anxiety Disadvantage: Meekness

Mentor Advantage: Flexible

Derived Attributes: 

Resilience (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 8

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 6

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 8

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 6

Void Points: 2

Note: Character already has 48xp spent to bring her up to speed with the rest of the part. 

By the way, the player did voice his opinion that the character creation process is "busted". He had to make up the whole "no mask" angle on the run because he couldn't think a good adversity and the backstabby family was ill-fitting as a disadvantage. There were also problems around Skill and Ring selections (for example, the character's Air went to 4 and the player felt a little offended that he couldn't keep it) and the starting power level (apparently, there wasn't enough space to round out the character as the player imagined her). All in all, character creation was rather bumpy even with the changes included.

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By the way, I promised a picture of the dice we use. Here they are:

6-LPjZC-fTmBz26uhVuxCDkD8IWZCSHifcPSXW89

Blue = explosive success

Green = success

Yellow = opportunity

Red = strife

Idea and pic from a friend. The actual dice are professionally painted of course (they are in the club and not with me tho) ;)

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We had another major session, an uncharacteristically short one (6 hours) because GM time constraints. 

Basically, the Three Dangerous Ladies traveled to the Kuni Lands with their new friend Kuni Terumi from the Ronin's Path Adventure. She asked us to visit her place after helping her develop the Jade Labyrinth ritual and making her new spell a centerpiece in the battle. We also had a curious ronin join the party (Akiko in disguise) on the road. Funnily enough, the first night with the newcomer at our camp ended with disaster as Yue and Akiko triggered each other's Anxiety Disadvantages (Delusion of Grandeur and Meekness, respectively) and while Yue vented with an Unmasking (training her tongue on the other girls like she hard to work with Strife if the character doesn't have an easy "escape route" but on the other hand being Compromised is ridiculously easy as long as the player picks their checks smartly. I kinda said this in the previous session report, but the feeling that this game heavily favors highly experienced players surfaced quite extensively during this session. With four veteran players around, the rule-bending and metagaming became too obvious to ignore but also too accessible and natural to not do it, and it kinda poisoned our game. We felt bad for abusing the game like this, but the game wanted us to abuse it, and it generated a weird feedback effect where we grew increasingly unsure how to play. I dunno, but the game feels... elitist? Is that a right word?

Anyway, we fought some goblins and a troll to get a feel for the new Akodo Commander and Spiritual Backlash. I suppose the nerfs for the Commander might be more for Fire builds, because I did not even notice the difference with my Water build. Especially with Iron Forest Style (available at Rank 1) in effect. Like, it was literally nothing. On the other hand, the new Spiritual Backlash rules caught us completely flatfooted. We expected danger and risk. We got Macha intentionally triggering Fire Backlash to nuke the enemy with an area-effect+damage-over-time Fires from Within and pay the 3 Fatigue for it with a smile. The Earth Backlash was completely ignorable, Water was straight-out helpful in some cases, Air seemed "bleh", and Fire felt like an upgrade. Yes, the Troll died from the Dangerous Terrain Macha's Backlash created. Who needs Fire That Cleanse, real fireball throwing wizards intentionally piss off the spirits to blast their opponents into ash! It was quite silly and we think the Spiritual Backlashes need a rework. 

We then arrived at the temple that served as Terumi's home. Conveniently enough, the temple turned out to be the same place where Yue's lost ancestral sword is held. Kitara and Macha went one way to make friends, while Yue and Akiko embarked on a dangerous mission to explore the temple dungeons and find the sword. Up in the temple, Macha saved the day with a Fire Backlash Nuke when the priests tried to serve Tainted tea to them. Down in the dungeon, Akiko almost ousted herself but them discovering a pile of dead Kuni quickly put the topic on hold. The party scrambled to reunite with Terumi, but we were a little too late as she was already dragged away into a nearby shrine. Yeah, don't try to outrace an Earth Shugenja and a Water Bushi, you can only lose that game. Terumi barely had the time to recognize the party when all her captors were already Grasp of Earth'd or Pinned. There was a very interesting battle where Yue and Akiko discovered the ultimate Wombo-Combo that was so awesome the GM decreed that we won on the spot: so Akiko attacked the sorcerer, but instead of hitting him, she just dumped 3 Striking as Fire on him; then Yue used Roar of Lord Akodo to give an Opportunity Strike to Akiko who dumped another 3 Striking as Fire on the mahotsukai; Dazed, the sorcerer did nothing important; then Akiko came again with a whopping +6 Severity Critical Strike with her Deadliness 7 katana. The sorcerer never had a chance, it was a textbook case of Nothin Personnel Kiddo. Oh yes, and the best thing? Akiko exposed her Meekness to get rid of Compromised at the start of the fight. The hilarity was too much for us, we had to end the game there :D

Again, it was a very quick session by local standards, and we will continue with attacking the shrine itself. The game was OK, but I think we are losing Kitara's player. Being a courtier is not a blast in this system, there ain't a lot of things to do for these guys. And again, the strange system interactions mentioned above kinda soured the game (Macha's Backlash rampage was especially unfun, and I could see on the GM that the Akiko+Yue Combo was out of place too). 

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When I playtested the system, I quickly saw all those combos popping out everywhere. I especially mentionned the spiritual blacklashes ones in which I saw them as a better opportunity than the opportunities you rolled : you get a better deal from your spells with those.

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On the Fire spiritual backlash, I had assumed the effect of the spell itself also applied to the caster (most damaging spells have a range of 0-3 or 0-4, so range 0 would mean the caster is in range too...), but then I realized The Fires from Within somehow has a range of 1-3. Does that mean the caster herself is not considered one of the "each character in range"? If she were, suffering 3 Fatigue (from the backlash) + [Fire Ring]+ bonus successes extra fatigue would be a better deterrent.

And how about the other team members? Were they all beyond range 3 when the fire came down?

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20 minutes ago, Franwax said:

And how about the other team members? Were they all beyond range 3 when the fire came down?

 

That's the thing. We were all in Range 0 (Kitara assisting the spell) or beyond Range 3 (Yue and Akiko fighting the Troll). Nobody got hurt other than the stupid goblins approaching Macha :P

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Last Saturday we had an absolutely massive 16 hours(!!!) session. Lots of things happened, and many-many mahotsukai were killed by a very-very angry Macha. 

And this leads me to the only new thing we discovered: Isawa Elementalists are disgustingly OP at higher power levels. With a triple-assisted Fury of Osano-wo, Macha effectively one-shot a Hideous Oni (brought the thing down to Critical 3) then proceeded to play heavy artillery and annihilate everyone all by herself while the other PCs could pray with her and feel at least nominally useful. This was at the beginning of the game btw, and resulted in the only meaningful team dynamics change, namely Macha taking over and Yue being forced to ride shotgun. 

Like, the game has changed, and combat became a lot less funny because Macha could just nuke everyone with her spells, leaving the rest of the party in the dust. we kinda tried to make ourselves useful elsewhere, but especially me with Yue couldn't find a lot of success - I seriously felt usurped as the combat character and useless as a bushi. So yeah, either the assist mechanics need a little toning down (we are supporting this) or shuggies need a rework (meh).   

Another thing is that maho feels kinda weaksauce. Getting that Incite Haunting through to do anything else was legitimately hard, and the maho spells ain't that hot to justify this restriction. Not only that, but there is a serious backlash for the mahotsukai if she dares to succeed, that also feels a "little" over-the -top. 

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Got 36 xp to spend, here's how it went: 

Akodo Yue,  Lion Clan, Akodo Commander, Certifiable Commander

Rings: Air 2, Earth 3, Fire 2, Water 3, Void 3

Skills: Command 3, Courtesy 1, Government 2, Fitness 3, Martial Arts (Melee) 3, Martial Arts (Unarmed) 1, Meditation 2, Performance 1, Survival 1, Tactics 2, Theology 1

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Techniques:  Iron Forest Style, Striking as Earth, Striking as Water, Warrior's Resolve, Lightning Raid, Lord Akodo's Roar, Rallying Cry Commune with the Spirits

School Ability: Way of the Lion (Rank 3)

Glory: 52

Honor: 66 (Paragon of Truth)

Status: 50 (she was made into a captain last session)

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Famously Reliable

Passion Advantage: Playfulness

Adversity Disadvantage: Whispers of Insanity

Anxiety Disadvantage: Delusions of Grandeur 

Mentor Advantage: Indomitable Will

Derived Attributes: 

Endurance (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 12

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 4

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 10

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 3

Void Points: 3

 

Doji Kitara,  Crane Clan, Doji Diplomat, Accursed Innocent

Rings: Air 3, Earth 2, Fire 4, Water 2, Void 2

Skills:  Aesthetics 1Commerce 2, Composition 2, Command 1, Courtesy 3, Culture 3, Design 2, Martial Arts (Melee) 2, Sentiment 3, Survival 2, Tactics 1Theology 1

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Techniques:  Artisan's AppraisalShallow Waters, Lady Doji's Decree, Tributaries of TradeTruth Burns Through Lies, Well of Desire

School Ability: Speaking in Silence (Rank 3)

Glory: 59

Honor: 51

Status: 38

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Ally

Passion Advantage: Travel

Adversity Disadvantage: Gaijin Appearance

Anxiety Disadvantage: Dark Secret

Mentor Disadvantage: Disdain for Honor

Derived Attributes: 

Endurance (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 8

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 7

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 12

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 3

Void Points: 2

 

Isawa Macha,  Phoenix Clan, Isawa Elementalist, Inquisitor's Seer

Rings: Air 2, Earth 2, Fire 4, Water 3, Void 3

Skills: Command 1Composition 1Courtesy 2, Medicine 2, Meditation 2, Tactics 1, Theology 5

Techniques available: Invocations, Shuji, Rituals

Techniques: Dance of Seasons, Extinguish, Fury of Osano-WoGrasp of Earth, The Fires from Within, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air, Commune with Spirits, Divination, Purification Rites, Threshold Barrier

School Ability:  One with the Elements (Rank 3)

Glory: 65

Honor: 32

Status: 44

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Sixth Sense

Passion Advantage: Daredevil

Adversity Disadvantage: Maimed Visage

Anxiety Disadvantage: Intolerance (mahotsukai)

Mentor Advantage: Subtle Observer

Derived Attributes: 

Endurance (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 10

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 6

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 12

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 3

Void Points: 3

 

Shosuro Akiko,  Scorpion Clan, Shosuro Infiltrator, Meek Infiltrator

Rings: Air 3, Earth 3, Fire 3, Water 3, Void 3

Skills: Aesthetics 2, Courtesy 2, Fitness 4, Performance 3, Martial Arts (Melee) 2, Martial Arts (Ranged) 2, Meditation 1, Sentiment 2, Skulduggery 3

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: Soaring Slice, Sensational Distraction, Striking as Fire, Veiled Menace Style

School Ability: The Path of Shadows (Rank 3)

Glory: 40

Honor: 31

Status: 35

Equipment: N/A

Distinction Advantage: Small Stature

Passion Advantage: Theatrics

Adversity Disadvantage: No Mask

Anxiety Disadvantage: Meekness

Mentor Advantage: Flexible

Derived Attributes: 

Endurance (Water Ring + Earth Ring) x 2: 12

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 6

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 12

Vigilance (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2: 3

Void Points: 3

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We finally returned from the break for moar beta testing. Sadly, Kitara's player gave up on the game, so we decided to move on and restart the party with new characters. We also wanted to walk new and dangerous paths, so it's gonna be an unsavory ronin party, including a haughty and lecherous Ikoma Bard with a Dark and Troubled Past (Macha's player), a fallen Kuni Purifier (Akiko's player), and a brooding outlaw Mirumoto Two-Swordsman (me). 

At this point, I must address one thing that came up while we shaped the new party: Giri. As ronin, we would obviously have no such thing, since we have no lord, but the whole situation made us ponder about all the cases Giri wouldn't matter for one reason or another. These cases are many. In fact, we could think of exactly three types of campaigns when Giri would work as intended: the single player campaign, the one-shot campaign, and the Yoriki campaign. Thing is, once your Giri is set, it is fairly easy to either accomplish or otherwise "pass", at which point you should contact your lord to get a new assignment. Note that if your character makes up his own new Giri, then it will be a Ninjo, as per the description. However, contacting your lord should be quite a hassle: it either practically ends the adventure because of travel time/waiting-for-the-message time (that's why it works for single player and one-shot campaigns, where such things are obviously no concern), or it forces the party to either have a single lord (Yoriki campaign) or have their lords readily at hand (Winter Court/Topaz Championship maybe?). It helps if one's Giri is universal or irrelevant to what the character is doing, but both cases are against the developers' intent, so there is that. This problem might be easy to handwave away (messenger birds traveling at Mach 1.5 like in GoT or something like that), but we still found it interesting. 

So. We will make our new characters tomorrow. Stay tuned until then!

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According to the description, Giri should be something accomplishable and relatively concrete:

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Thus, in many campaigns, a character’s giri should revolve around fulfilling direct orders bestowed by the clan daimyo. These orders can be broad (“win glory for the Lion Clan on the field of battle, wherever you find it”) or specific (“protect Kakita Asami as her yojimbo”), but they should be attainable within the scope of the campaign and concrete enough that the player knows how to pursue them at any given time, even when the GM isn’t providing specific hooks to follow.

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 And it is assigned by the character's lord:

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As with ninjo, giri can change—though generally, it does so based on the character’s narrative accomplishments or the needs of their lord. If a character ever succeeds in the task they have been assigned and receives recognition from their lord for it through events in the narrative, the GM should give the character a glory reward of 5 to 10 glory, and then their daimyo should assign them a new giri (determined by the player and GM).

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By the way, we were also talking about how the developers completely left out the phenomenon of the Zeroth Law Rebellion when it should be quite a big deal when it comes to Giri. 

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That problem only exists when you consider Giri the way they described it in the beta book, which is a horrible description.

Giri is your obligation.  This could be a relative that you pay for, or a village you want to protect.  It could be upholding the honor of your school even if you're a ronin.  Giri and Ninjo can apply to EVERYONE, but you have to understand what it really is.  Its not your occupation, or your assignment, and its not always given by your lord.  It can be given by your family, by a stranger, or by a companion.  Maybe one of the Ronin is out to find a relic that was stolen from the temple near their village.  Maybe another Ronin has taken that Giri on them as well because of their own bond between them.

Giri is NOT your job, or your assignment, or your orders, and doesn't have to come from a Lord.  It is your obligation you feel towards something which competes for priority with your Ninjo and the task at hand.  While a Ronin may live that life partly because they've abandoned their obligations to their Lord, it may be because another Giri pulled stronger - like an obligation towards a family member, or an ally.  Or maybe they feel some personal quest they would risk their standing in their clan to pursue alone.

Edited by shosuko

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“Why is the party together?” is (or at least can be) a basic issue in the first place. Most of the time in my campaigns “because of what their lord (employer, in the case of ronin) told them to do” was the answer already, well before 5th edition with its samurai drama. This doesn’t feel particularly new to me.

Edit: also, even when you can’t receive orders from your lord right away you should know what you can do to make yourself useful and bring glory to your family and clan. That’s what good retainers do at all times, serve their family and clan. You can do that without getting detailed instructions every day. ;)

Edited by nameless ronin

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1 minute ago, shosuko said:

That problem only exists when you consider Giri the way they described it in the beta book, which is a horrible description.

 

Hey, that's all I have here :)

Also, I'm fairly sure that self-assigned duties belong to Ninjo.

1 minute ago, nameless ronin said:

“Why is the party together?” is (or at least can be) a basic issue in the first place. Most of the time in my campaigns “because of what their lord (employer, in the case of ronin) told them to do” was the answer already, well before 5th edition with its samurai drama. This doesn’t feel particularly new to me.

 

Sheesh, yeah, I knew we forgot something. Yes, mono-clan parties obviously have this easier, just like the Yoriki party, but I reckon they are supposed to be rare. 

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3 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

Sheesh, yeah, I knew we forgot something. Yes, mono-clan parties obviously have this easier, just like the Yoriki party, but I reckon they are supposed to be rare. 

Mono-clan parties are the exception for us. Especially since we prefer having the cross-clan interactions and tensions that come from having different people with different interests to answer to. Cross-clan doesn’t mean being at odd about everything though. We’ve played magistrate parties to make it easier, but for instance right now I’m writing a scavenger hunt type low level campaign for which I specified everyone has to be from a different clan (and no ronin, although they’re my personal favourite to play). Their lords will tell them to report to the Imperial library because the Empress made it fashionable this year to sponsor historians and scholars (the less culturally inclined characters will get the job because their lord thinks it will teach them something useful, although I expect most players to have a decent number of scholarly skill ranks). The librarians will be exasperated after a couple of days of having a bunch of samurai trying to make themselves useful and getting underfoot all the time, and send them each out to go retrieve interesting works from their homelands. At that point they could all scatter, but if my hinting at it isn’t enough an NPC will point out that another, wealthy and conniving, NPC seems to have gathered a bunch of the other samurai together in a temporary alliance and might try to beat a number of the others to the punch first, before going after their own assigned works, in order to literally steal their glory. That should be enough to get them to work together, while also forcing them to decide amongst themselves what to do first and how (and consider the opportunity that the  samurai whose scrolls they recover first says sayonara to the rest and goes home).

Player characters nearly always act on their lords’ behest, but they don’t need to all have the same lord. They can have external motivations to work together, they can all be assigned to similar duties and be forced to work together, they can simply find themselves thrust together by circumstance, and so on - but underneath the circumstances there’s always loyalty to your family and clan and duty to your daimyo.

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Our problems are not with how to assemble a party but how Giri ties into the game considering that the devs are really making Giri a (supposedly) big thing. For example, in your scenario, once the PCs report at the library, there isn't a lot of Giri-ing to do. 

This came up when we recounted the first few session and realized that there was a lot of "Giribending" after the first session, with only Kitara getting an actual new Giri of finding Ide Iyoshi and the Macha+Yue due only taking an expanded view of their own Giri to have a reason to accompany her. In hindsight, we concluded that this wasn't exactly in line with the spirit of the concept because the two girls were injecting their own personal desires into their duties. 

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11 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

Our problems are not with how to assemble a party but how Giri ties into the game considering that the devs are really making Giri a (supposedly) big thing. For example, in your scenario, once the PCs report at the library, there isn't a lot of Giri-ing to do. 

The purpose of reporting at the library is not to show up and be done with it. The purpose is to serve. The giri is not fulfilled until the librarians tell the PCs they have served admirably.

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