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AtoMaki

AtoMaki's Beta Test Game(s)

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10 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Bringing it back to the essential issue: FFG wants a narrative RPG, you (and I, and probably a lot of others) don’t. That’s the whole problem in one line. We don’t want our characters to be defined by this one particular narrative, but that’s how narrative RPGs work - including having mechanics to handle the narrative, so it’s not cops & robbers and just shouting what happens..

I agree with most of what you have to say here.

The only glaring issues is no matter what FFG or anyone wants to call this travesty, its not a narrative game.

Its a custom dice directed action game.

A true narrative game like 7th sea provides a framework not the results. In the 7th sea example the dice generate a pool and the players and GM use the results to tell the story.

The game provides an outline of how to use the point, and doesn't tell you what you have to do.

I'm not a fan of narrative games by design.

10 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Personally I don’t mind narrative RPGs, I enjoy several of them even. Rokugan is just not the setting for one though, or at least not for this narrative, and switching from 4 non-narrative editions to a narrative one was always going to rub players the wring way. That’s frankly a concern with several of FFG’s narrative RPG lines, but with the SW RPG for instance it’s less jarring at least mainly because the narrative elements are consistent across all characters. The clan differences that are a large part of what makes Rokugan the setting it is prevent that possibility for L5R..

Star wars gets away with what it is by providing a mechanical out for those that are not into monologuing the story. The game allows for you to just use the bonuses and penalties to resolve the action.

Star wars biggest issues are the amount of expensive custom dice needed, the floating TN issues,  and the open threat dice that tell the players the difficulty.

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I’ve had a few back-and-forths about what a narrative game is already. :P By my definition (resolution is largely based on narrative, not on mechanically generated results) this 5th edition is not one; by the most common definition (a game that drives a specific narrative rather than that it focuses on simulation) it technically is one (by virtue of the Strife mechanic more than the ninjo-giri thing), just a rather poor one.

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Man, I decide to leave the internets a few hours earlier once, and I miss out a good discussion. Typical :(

ANYWAY, I've finally got the characters. We were kinda in a haste, so we did not dive into the 20 Questions just generate our characters and establish their backstories and where they are now. These characters also have 30xp in addition to kick-start the adventure. 

By the way, it would be cool if we had some sort of "quick and dirty" character creation rules as a side option (like tactical grid movement) because while the 20 Questions method is cool for the first (few) time(s), it quickly loses its magic and becomes quite a hassle to grind through. 

Mirumoto Akira,  Dragon Clan, Two-Swords School, The Bandit Lord

Mirumoto Akira is a man who progressed through his life on the back of false promises. He was born as a lowly peasant, but the Agasha successfully tested him for being a shugenja and he was elevated into the samurai class. However, it quickly became evident that he was not a shugenja at all, and the Agasha thus passed him to the Mirumoto, where his ferocity and bloodlust made him a top student in his dojo (he literally beat the other students into pulp until he was the best). His black temper made him a dangerous and brutal warrior, and his late lord truly believed that he could control Akira. He was wrong, and he paid the ultimate price for it: during an especially harsh argument, Akira decided that he had had enough and cut his lord's head off. Growing disgusted by the Dragon Clan, Akira unceremoniously left those lands to carve out his own domain from Rokugan (most likely in the bloodiest way possible). 

Rings: Air 3, Earth 3, Fire 4, Water 2, Void 1

Skills: Command 1, Fitness 2, Martial Arts (Melee) 2, Martial Arts (Unarmed) 1, Meditation 1, Skulduggery 1, Survival 1, Tactics 2, Theology 1

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Techniques:  Spinning Blades Style, Striking as Fire, Honest Assessment

School Ability: Way of the Dragon (School Rank 2)

Glory: 11 (Whispers of Cruelty, Whispers of Treachery)

Honor: 0 (Disdain for Compassion, Righteousness, and Honor)

Status: 22

Equipment: Daisho, Ashigaru Armor

Distinction Advantage: Bandit Lord (Akira has 7 bandits under his command who are loyal to him, each bandit is themed after a Great Clan)

Passion Advantage: Violence (welp)

Adversity Disadvantage:  Ronin (responsible for all that low Glory, Honor and Status)

Anxiety Disadvantage: Ferocity (welp again)

Derived Attributes: 

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

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 7

Composure (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2: 14

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

Void Points: 1

 

Ikoma Hanzo,  Lion Clan, Ikoma Bard, The Serpent of Sin

Ikoma Hanzo was destined to have a great life of glory, and he knew it way too well for his own good. Born into a relatively close branch of the ancestral line, trained by one of the greatest sensei, and recruited by no other than the Ikoma Family Daimyo, Hanzo still managed to waste his life because of his deeply flawed character. Under the surface of grandiose fate, Ikoma Hanzo is a petty and malevolent man who desires only one thing more than to lead others to sin: fair maidens of every flavor. So only after a few years of service, his champion collapsed into the dust, disemboweled by his opponent, and Hanzo was ordered to commit seppuku in order to redeem his shameful deeds. Obviously, he had a better idea and rather sneaked out of the castle to become an outcast. 

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

Skills: Courtesy 2, Culture 1, Government 1, Martial Arts (Melee) 1, Performance 2, Sentiment 1, Skulduggery 2, Tactics 2

Techniques available: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Techniques:  Warrior's Resolve, Fanning the Flames, Shallow Waters, Truth Burn Through Lies

School Ability: Heart of the Lion (School Rank 2)

Glory: 11 (Whispers of Dishonor, Whispers of Failure)

Honor: 0 (Disdain for Courage, Duty, and Sincerity)

Status: 20

Equipment: Daisho, Fine Clothes, Tessen

Distinction Advantage: Dangerous Allure

Passion Advantage: Provocation

Adversity Disadvantage:  Ronin (responsible for all that low Glory, Honor and Status)

Anxiety Disadvantage: Lechery

Derived Attributes: 

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

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 6

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

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

Void Points: 1

 

Kuni Igaki,  Crab Clan, Kuni Purifier, The Fallen Father

Somethingsomething a Kuni biting off more he can chew and falling for the Taint. Kuni Igaki's story is thus as archetypical as it can be: upstarting Kuni shugenja, fighting the Shadowlands and researching the Taint, then suddenly going too deep with his research and becoming Tainted himself. Igaki is only special because he left a wife and four children behind, none of whom are very pleased with his fall. In fact, the main reason Igaki left the Crab Lands was his wife leading a quite successful hunt against him and two of their sons soon coming to age and thus join the struggle that already went pretty badly for Igaki. 

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

Skills: Command 2, Composition 1. Fitness 2, Medicine 2, Sentiment 1, Skulduggery 2, Survival 1, Theology 2

Techniques available: Invocations, Kata, Rituals

Techniques:  Armor of Earth, Bind the Shadow, Earth Becomes Sky, Jade Strike, Striking as Earth, Commune with the Spirits, Threshold Barrier

School Ability: Gaze Into Shadow (School Rank 2)

Glory: 11 (Whispers of Doom, Whispers of Taint)

Honor: 0 (Disdain for Courtesy, Honor, and Righteousness)

Status: 20

Equipment: Dirty Ceremonial Clothes, Obsidian Staff

Distinction Advantage: Small Stature

Passion Advantage: Forbidden Knowledge

Adversity Disadvantage:  Ronin (responsible for all that low Glory, Honor and Status), Shadowlands Taint (Fire)

 

Anxiety Disadvantage: Hunted (by his own wife and sons, no less)

 

Derived Attributes: 

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

Focus (Fire Ring + Air Ring): 4

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

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

Void Points: 2

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In light of those characters, @AtoMaki: I’m fairly sure the question of whether to even allow ronin as player characters has been brought up in dev meetings. And assuming they will be allowed (which is not a foregone conclusion, I think) I expect there has been some discussion about how and under which restrictions as well. If a PC has very little reason to care about the consequences of unmasking and arguably has no giri to be at odds with his ninjo, the samurai drama narrative the game is supposed to revolve around is (even more) pointless. Regardless of how things turn out eventually, I doubt those three characters allow for properly testing the system other than some strictly mechanical parts. Ronin who don’t care about their place in society, who aren’t trying to become honourable (or at least respected) retainers, who don’t in some way aspire to the samurai ideal, they just don’t work in this system.

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1 minute ago, nameless ronin said:

In light of those characters, @AtoMaki: I’m fairly sure the question of whether to even allow ronin as player characters has been brought up in dev meetings. And assuming they will be allowed (which is not a foregone conclusion, I think) I expect there has been some discussion about how and under which restrictions as well. If a PC has very little reason to care about the consequences of unmasking and arguably has no giri to be at odds with his ninjo, the samurai drama narrative the game is supposed to revolve around is (even more) pointless. Regardless of how things turn out eventually, I doubt those three characters allow for properly testing the system other than some strictly mechanical parts. Ronin who don’t care about their place in society, who aren’t trying to become honourable (or at least respected) retainers, who don’t in some way aspire to the samurai ideal, they just don’t work in this system.

Giri / Ninjo come up for villains, anti-heroes, and criminals as well.

Criminals often belong to organizations, but even if they don't there are people they rely on.  No one lives in this world alone.  As a member of any organization there is some obligation to protect and uphold the ideals of the organization.  This creates a Giri that is a mirror of what ever samurai serves anyway, just reflected in the criminal organization's beliefs instead.  Even a lone, wandering thief type ronin needs to close his eyes and will need to trust someone to not kill him while he does so.  Giri can be represented in a sort of "honor among thieves" where a thief respects other people who allow him a place to feel safe, or as a sort of "hero to the people" type where they feel some obligation to protect those of lower status against the cruel samurai caste.

Ninjo is very typical for criminals as they often have their own rules for themselves that go against society which lead them to become criminals.  A Ronin may be cast out because he believes the sword is the proper arbiter of justice, so if he can kill his lord then his lord wasn't fit for that position.  Killing his lord could easily leave him cast out as a Ronin but that doesn't change the philosophy that physical authority is the supreme authority.  This character will likely rule by the sword until a sword shuts him down - and at that point the Ronin has to make a decision, does he accept the justice that the sword delivers back?  I think its a good Ninjo conflict.

Giri / Ninjo can be fit to pretty much any character provided you focus on those aspects as you flush out your character.  I think the problem with AtoMaki is that he constantly wants characters who are just ravenous, bloodthirsty beasts.  These characters don't fit into a narrative game unless you give them some depth.  So the character is a mindless killer psychopath - WHY are they a mindless killer psychopath?  That isn't a normal development so laying out why this happened is important.  Jet Lee in Unleashed is a mindless psychopath but we see that he is one because he was raised by the mob as a dog.  He has a VERY strong Giri too the mob that raised him as he knows no other way of living than by their hand.  He is then abandoned for dead by the criminal gang, but is found and nursed back to health by a blind piano player.  This character instills in him a sense of Ninjo.  He learns he isn't just a dog, and gains some humanity.  This becomes essential for the climax of the plot when he meets back up with his criminal master and he must decide between returning to the gang who raised him or suffer their wrath as he clings to his new sense of humanity.

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6 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Giri / Ninjo can be fit to pretty much any character provided you focus on those aspects as you flush out your character.

That would be the part where I alluded to the devs discussing restrictions. It can be done, but will probably require some more chargen requirements. As a more-often-GM-than-player, I hope these requirements will take party cohesion into account, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

That said, yes, the issue stems more from these specific characters concepts than from the fact they are ronin. Ronin don’t have some of the built-in narrative elements clan samurai have though.

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We are actually not fans of the Legend of the Five Rings Standard Samurai Drama(tm) the devs are pushing so hard. Like, not at all. 

25 minutes ago, shosuko said:

I think the problem with AtoMaki is that he constantly wants characters who are just ravenous, bloodthirsty beasts.  These characters don't fit into a narrative game unless you give them some depth.  So the character is a mindless killer psychopath - WHY are they a mindless killer psychopath?

 

To be acutely honest here, with Yue I was stuck at the "want" and ended up with an entirely different character in-game thankfully to the Strife/Outbust/Unmask system and because the GM kinda-sorta misunderstood my character concept. Visual explanation here. 

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The thing i would ask is what is the point of these characters, and go from there.

If they are just to prove that the system can be bypassed then I don't see the point.

If you are asking how to implement Giri/Ninjo you have to look at what they want and what obligations they have.

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13 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

The thing i would ask is what is the point of these characters, and go from there.

2

The full story is that we had plans for an "evil party" before 5R5 dropped. Tho I made a Daigotsu Bushi there, I changed it to Mirumoto Two-Swords to test the school. The character is otherwise unchanged, you might recognize things like bloodlust helping Akira during dojo training that I didn't think through very well when I translated the character into 5R5 :unsure:

13 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

If you are asking how to implement Giri/Ninjo you have to look at what they want and what obligations they have.

 

I wanted to mention this later, but Akira specifically did end up with a Giri, namely being the leader of his bandit gang. It took us some time to realize that Giri can work both ways, and while it is normally a servant(PC)-lord(NPC) thing, if the PC ends up being the lord then it still works the same, just the other way around. 

Edited by AtoMaki

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23 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

We are actually not fans of the Legend of the Five Rings Standard Samurai Drama(tm) the devs are pushing so hard. Like, not at all. 

Neither am I, but it is what we’re getting. What’s the point of playing these beta rules if you don’t want to play them as intended? What’s the value of a test if you don’t stay in the test environment?

And, with all due respect, each of those characters would receive frowns from every GM I know, myself included. But that’s neither here nor there.

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1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

We are actually not fans of the Legend of the Five Rings Standard Samurai Drama(tm) the devs are pushing so hard. Like, not at all. 

That's odd...  weren't you the person who went off about how important honor typically is in your games?

On 11/28/2017 at 5:03 AM, AtoMaki said:

at my gaming group, Honor is all the jazz all the time. Honor binds all samurai equally, and nobody can hide from who they really are. Your Honor Rank speaks way before your character can open his/her mouth, and it sells out the character in an instant. If you have high Honor, you are a consistent and reliable good guy, and people will know it. If you have low Honor, then your flawed nature shows and people will recognize that they can't trust you fully for one reason or another. I'm fairly sure that no amount of Defense Skill or Earth Ring saved as many PC lives around here than an appropriate Honor Rank.

Glory is in a similar boat. High Glory establishes a clear and undeniable importance. Low Glory makes you a nobody. 

Thus, having a value for both is paramount for us. We use these things a lot and sometimes track them even more vigorously than Wounds. However, if your group doesn't mind these stats then they are obviously dead weight. In my opinion, Honor, Glory, Infamy, and Status are (should be) essential for adventuring in Rokugan, and if everything, they deserve more depth and attention rather than being replaced by some special snowflake concepts.  

Honor and Glory are only really tested via Giri/Ninjo obstacles.  If you are never given a tempting offer to be dishonorable your honor is never tested.  This is what Giri/Ninjo are all about.  The only difference is that the Beta attempts to bring it more forward, and give it a narrative connection to the character rather than simply using numbers.

Honestly the numbers of Honor and Glory have always been a bit off for me.  I've never really used them even as I've tempted players to be honorable or dishonorable in games.  The new system actually has me motivating the players a lot more by saying "You can make this check, or do this... anti-giri/ninjo thing to bypass it."  Since each player's giri/ninjo are different I can tempt each player in a more targeted and relevant manner.

I really like the Giri/Ninjo as you can see, and to me the honor metrics get in the way.  Its okay if we disagree provided we gain some understanding of the other...

So help me understand - what is it your players love about honor?  What is different between honor and giri/ninjo that they don't like the new system?

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10 minutes ago, shosuko said:

That's odd...  weren't you the person who went off about how important honor typically is in your games?

So help me understand - what is it your players love about honor?  What is different between honor and giri/ninjo that they don't like the new system?

2

Ohohohoho, boy... the stories I can tell! 

Basically, we have a rather literal take on Akodo's quotes when it comes to Bushido and disregard the description bulbs below said quotes entirely. Almost all of the tenets suddenly gain a whole new meaning when you approach them from this angle, the harshest being Duty and how it no longer comes even close to any kind of obedience. The whole code suddenly becomes quite straightforward but also very-very scary. And those who stick to it... they become even scarier. 

I think I mentioned this earlier, but we really love these kinds of stories, where the greatest heroes are also the most terrifying monsters and how this shapes their world at large. Like, there is a saying that gets a lot of mentioning around here: "If you have to choose, fight a dishonorable man. Before making the finishing strike, the dishonorable man will stop, to enjoy this moment of power, to thrive in his dominance, to mock you and see the despair in your eyes. Then, you will have your time to gather your strength and keep on fighting. The honorable man will cut you down without as much as a blink." 

 

By the way, we do like Giri and Ninjo. The concept is cool, the execution isn't. 

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3 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Basically, we have a rather literal take on Akodo's quotes when it comes to Bushido and disregard the description bulbs below said quotes entirely. Almost all of the tenets suddenly gain a whole new meaning when you approach them from this angle, the harshest being Duty and how it no longer comes even close to any kind of obedience. The whole code suddenly becomes quite straightforward but also very-very scary. And those who stick to it... they become even scarier. 

Which comes off as an intentional mangling that creates dishonorable characters who believe themselves honorable. Pretty much a straight forward demonstration of the Lawful Evil alignment in D&D.

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3 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

By the way, we do like Giri and Ninjo. The concept is cool, the execution isn't. 

Yeah I think I'm gathering that.  I thought at first you just didn't like (or understand) giri/ninjo, but through these last few posts I see you do understand it and that you're mostly just poking the Beta.  The beta really does describe them horribly!  In a quick read it seems like Giri = Job / Occupation, and Ninjo = Dream / Fantasy.  This is so far off the mark and fails to feed into any type of drama.  When you understand that both are more vague concepts that are broadly applied they take on a lot more meaning, and the conflict between them comes out.

This is one of my biggest critiques of the Beta book is the poor description of Giri/Ninjo.  I really love samurai and gangster movies so I'm familiar with these concepts irl.  Watching 7 Samurai, Yijimbo, Zatoichi, ect you can really pick up on the broader meanings and implications of these ideals.  Sadly the beta just... sucks lol

I think the suggestion someone else gave of simply having a player pick a tenant of bushido to hold high as their Giri, and another to forsake as their Ninjo.  The broader scope and connection to a bushido tenant might help players identify what giri/ninjo actually means easier. 

Anyway - thanks for chatting, I'm glad to understand you a bit more since you've done a great job documenting your play testing and progress.

3 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Ohohohoho, boy... the stories I can tell! 

Basically, we have a rather literal take on Akodo's quotes when it comes to Bushido and disregard the description bulbs below said quotes entirely. Almost all of the tenets suddenly gain a whole new meaning when you approach them from this angle, the harshest being Duty and how it no longer comes even close to any kind of obedience. The whole code suddenly becomes quite straightforward but also very-very scary. And those who stick to it... they become even scarier. 

I think I mentioned this earlier, but we really love these kinds of stories, where the greatest heroes are also the most terrifying monsters and how this shapes their world at large. Like, there is a saying that gets a lot of mentioning around here: "If you have to choose, fight a dishonorable man. Before making the finishing strike, the dishonorable man will stop, to enjoy this moment of power, to thrive in his dominance, to mock you and see the despair in your eyes. Then, you will have your time to gather your strength and keep on fighting. The honorable man will cut you down without as much as a blink." 

I play almost exclusively as GM and my favorite things to throw at the players are the duality types.  L5R is a great landscape to play a noble character against a lawful evil world.  Once you strip things down to the letter of the law a character and justify many atrocious acts...  My players tend to be noble in the face of opposition, but I'm going to start focusing a bit more on Giri/Ninjo and tempting them to evolve themselves into lawful evil justifications for their actions.  Fingers crossed ^_^ it should be fun.

Edited by shosuko

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4 hours ago, shosuko said:

I think the suggestion someone else gave of simply having a player pick a tenant of bushido to hold high as their Giri, and another to forsake as their Ninjo.  The broader scope and connection to a bushido tenant might help players identify what giri/ninjo actually means easier. 

That's not much better, honestly, from my point of view.

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9 hours ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

Which comes off as an intentional mangling that creates dishonorable characters who believe themselves honorable. Pretty much a straight forward demonstration of the Lawful Evil alignment in D&D.

Hehe. There is one group of creatures in our setting who have the exact same argument against the samurai: the Oni ;) .

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We had a small warm-up session yesterday to test the new duel rules and to prepare for the Big Adventure on sunday. 

It all started with Akira and his merry band of bandits relocating their base of operations to an abandoned fort at the Lion/Crane/Scorpion border (roughly where the Monkey Clan were in Old5R). We played a small raid on a village, to get a better feel of how to handle Akira's gang (I had full control over all of them) and to test the Way of the Dragon in a skirmish. Akira killed one village samurai in a skirmish and slew the other one in a duel. The village was then sacked and burnt to the ground, with the gang retreating to the fort with lots of loot.

Next day, we had visitors, a pair of fellow ronin, Ikoma Hanzo and his Matsu cousin. After the meager formalities were done with, Akira and the Matsu quickly found a common language, that is, the language of violence. They flew into a first blood duel over the control of the gang, thankfully to Hanzo using Fanning the Flames to make both Enraged. This was by far the best Intrigue I've ever had in the Beta: there was a lot of low maneuvering between the three participants and the tension building up only to the scene to explode in violence was heavily felt. So despite the duel being to first blood, it actually ended with the Matsu's death by Finishing Blow + Enraged + a really poor Fitness roll. Hanzo swore fealty to Akira in an instant, showing wisdom beyond his situation and all that, and he was accepted into the gang as Akira's Starscream. 

The third act was set a few days later, with a Crane investigation party going after the gang and the two sides facing off at the fort. The battle went on with poor rolls on all sides, so the yoriki leading the party decided to end the fight with a duel. That stupid yoriki thus came uncomfortably close to kill Akira... Rising Blade is scary. But the yoriki leader bit the dust, his second-in-command was cut down in a one-roll duel, and the bandits won the day. The end.

You know guys, after all this discussion above, I had my doubts that maybe I had made a terrible mistake with this character. But you know what? I think the game almost works better with this kind of adventures. The grim, gritty, low-life feel, the ever-present stench of senseless violence and treachery, the way death lingers in every corner, all this might-makes-right really drive the whole system home. Strife, in particular, felt very natural and thematic. I'm not sure how to feel about this, because I feel uncomfortable around this kind of admittedly edgy grimneutral/grimdark stories, but I know that L5R has a history here, so the game might be onto something here. 

Anyway, Mirumoto Two-Swords School: my only two problems with it are the silly name (Niten Master would be better) and Spinning Blades not being an Advancement option at School Rank 1. Ward is really good. It won me all three duels. 

Speaking of which, the new duel mechanics. I do see what they were trying to accomplish and how, but I don't think that they fully thought out the changes. Predict has the power to break duels, Center is all kinds of weird, and some things interact weirdly with these (Water Stance, I'm looking at you). Duels are indeed more intense and interesting now, but I feel like the mechanics are leaning towards expected abuse. Rising Blade is absolutely terrifying tho. The single One Roll Duel I had was tons of fun if overly simplistic. 

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What makes Rising Blade terryfing to you? It's a TN3 attack that doesn't scale with bonus successes,  hardstuck at Severity of 5 unless you spend Opportunities to buff it. We have rather bad experience with it, as it almost never worked for us as advertised, being mostly useful as a minion-exploding tool. 

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It is terrifying as "that auto-critical scares the living crap out of me" rather than as being actually powerful. The way it synergies with some other tricks (Scholar Skill Opportunity TN drop, Striking as Fire and Veiling Menance severity shenanigans) is also rather strange. Like, it is very stressful to face Rising Blade.

I don't plan to ever get it, though.

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Culture could work, as I see it as encompassing the Lore [clan] from older editions... e.g. You know something about the XYZ bushi school training, which you can exploit, thus reducing the TN of your Rising Blade strike by 1, etc.

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We play this up as "I try to figure out what my opponent is doing", with the Opportunities representing the character catching a glimpse of his opponent's exact thoughts (thus the decrease of TN). Alternatively, it can be a "Where the universe is going with this", same deal. Failure means that you can't think of anything useful, and your action is wasted. Tho it is very rare because scoring a single Opportunity is a quasi-success: you get an important piece of the puzzle even if you fail to grasp the bigger picture. 

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