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RokoganiGM

Strange setting for a first adventure

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Does anyone else think it is odd that the recommended starting adventure is on the kaiu wall? One of the things that makes L5R distinct from other systems is that the setting is so rich with social niceties and cultural norms. The required customs of visiting a new daimo really made my group interested last time we started playing. Things like being required to refuse a gift three times, or having to bow and acknowledge your social superiors without creating an incident are very unique.

The kaiu wall is very different than the rest of Rokugan and the Crab are known for not following social customs and being rude. In my last campaign the PCs loved having all the social intrigue in court and we had one veteran Crab solider with a peg leg who was quite the comic relief and served as a good foil.

I am starting with a new group tonight and the canned adventure is a good way to demonstrate all the mechanics. But I am hoping that they won't get the wrong impression from the game. I want them to see the richness of the setting and the importance of courtiers, but am worried they might think this is more like other combat-centric games.

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Actually yeah. When I first read the setting I was pretty disappointed. Generally Crab games and The Wall are for combat-centric hack and slash types of games - which isn't why I play L5R.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Crab clan and I respect their duty, but sending the PCs to a place where everything and everybody ignores almost every aspect of the game's rich culture and society is nuts.
Generally in games I treat the Crab as outsiders and The Wall as a spooky story that most samurai use to scare their children in to behaving - or as a way to establish that another character is a total badass. "I've been to THE WALL, you ponies" and all the other characters go "Ooooooo, they must be made of iron!"

I'm going to run this for my group tomorrow, and knowing them and their character choices I'm already imagining a Doji courtier, an Isawa artisan and an Ikoma bard all sent to the Crab lands to fight monsters for some reason, except for the one Hida berzerker that for some reason wasn't already on The Wall to begin with.
I DO NOT HAVE HIGH HOPES, but run it I shall, and report back with news.

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I think your final paragraph hit on the reality of this; this isn't meant to be an "introductory adventure" to the setting, so much as an "introductory adventure" to the rules themselves.  I could be wrong; maybe no thought whatsoever went into it, but I suspect that's the case.

I would point out that I have, in the past, used the device of throwing new players into the action first, then slowly rolling out the social stuff because that, actually, is harder for most experienced gamers to accept than the dice mechanics (of previous editions).  If you tell most players "this isn't D&D, if you pick a fight with a bunch of goblins, there is a good chance you'll die" most of them take that to heart.  If you tell most players "this isn't D&D, so Trenchcoat McBadass can't walk around threatening everyone, there is a good chance you'll die" most of them don't get how serious you are.

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My bigger gripe is that it feels very bait and switch oh we are doing a murder mystery. Then suddenly its have fun fighting an Oni guys...

 

I think the other half that gets implied chasing the Blood magic user would have been a far more interesting game.

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There's social niceties, you can seriously get into them with the Kuni and the Ronin. There's a whole rhetoric based scene with Tomanatsu. This adventure runs the gamut of L5R scenes! There's an investigation, a duel, a tea party, a religious ritual, all sorts of cool supernatural stuff and there's still time for mass combat. I'm not disappointed.

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1 hour ago, WildKnight said:

this isn't D&D, if you pick a fight with a bunch of goblins, there is a good chance you'll die"

Don't forget the "This isn't D&D so don't start trying to search the bodies for loot"

I think they tried to cover the whole experience, as much of Rokugan as possible and as much of the rules coming into play as possible.

 

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It would seem they where looking for a region where mass battle could occur but not between clans. It would be much better if the murder happened near the wall, the PC's where close and they had to unravel the mystery. Investigate the scene, interview a much higher ranked witness in a very formal way.

 Then they go over the wall to track the Ronin down during his goblin hunt, catching him as a Ronin will be far simpler than as a Crab. In this scenario they become the people who discover the looming threat of a Shadolands army. Of course the mahõ-tsukai is involved in the army as an officer, turning Sakae and Michiru into one character.

Then the series of mini quests becomes part of reinforcing the wall for the attack, the Emerald Magistrate will still be around since he didn't need to run off chasing the mahõ. This means the PC's are essentially ordered to help "Our duty is to protect the kingdom, today that takes us into battle, tomorrow we could be in the courts of a Daimyo... assist in preparation for the battle"

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1 hour ago, Nitenman said:

Don't forget the "This isn't D&D so don't start trying to search the bodies for loot"

I think they tried to cover the whole experience, as much of Rokugan as possible and as much of the rules coming into play as possible.

 

 

Oh man, you have no idea how many times I've had the "How much can I sell their swords for?" discussion.

Edited by WildKnight

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On 10/9/2017 at 1:13 PM, WildKnight said:

I would point out that I have, in the past, used the device of throwing new players into the action first, then slowly rolling out the social stuff because that, actually, is harder for most experienced gamers to accept than the dice mechanics (of previous editions). 

That is true. The adventure does have a light level of social intrigue that you can play up. The way the crab defends the ronin and inevitably leads to a duel does give a glimpse. The adventure also does a good job of introducing all of the main types of conflicts so I do give it points for that.

Still though, if this were the only game I had ever played as a PC I would have a very different impression of what the game is a typical game.

I really liked the adventure in the 4e book. It was a simple tournament of samurai with a murder and an affair thrown in the mix. The tournament had simple challenges (poetry, tea ceremony) that introduced how to make skill checks but forced you into a formal setting where you have to learn the customs quickly as well as navigate different aspects of honor. It also introduced most of the major clans at once.

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1 hour ago, RokoganiGM said:

I really liked the adventure in the 4e book. It was a simple tournament of samurai with a murder and an affair thrown in the mix. The tournament had simple challenges (poetry, tea ceremony) that introduced how to make skill checks but forced you into a formal setting where you have to learn the customs quickly as well as navigate different aspects of honor. It also introduced most of the major clans at once.

I echo this! Run this adventure twice for two sets of PCs that were new to L5R and they really enjoyed it. One of the PCs was big into Poetry IRL and actually wrote a Haiku; I rewarded him with a Free Raise for his Poetry check and 1 EXP. Also, being a engaging GM really helps out the players too IMO. It made the PCs feel less nerves and more open so they can enjoy the tournament, the murder mystery and the conclusion in a relax manner.

I will proudly admit that I really like L5R but I am fully aware that this setting can come off as intimidating for some players. 

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On 10/9/2017 at 11:14 AM, WightMutt said:

My bigger gripe is that it feels very bait and switch oh we are doing a murder mystery. Then suddenly its have fun fighting an Oni guys...

That's perfectly reasonable for a Rokugani murder mystery. Seriously. 

On 10/9/2017 at 11:14 AM, WightMutt said:

I think the other half that gets implied chasing the Blood magic user would have been a far more interesting game.

No doubt... but that's also a much more involved adventure.

And one that would entail much more "Thrown in the deep end" rules levels. Be a great follow on... Seppun-sama hasn't been seen...

Edited by AK_Aramis

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It's a test adventure, not an introduction adventure. The fact they give a lot of XP to starting characters to do it shows that much. It's an adventure that allows people to test all the mechanics of the game but is clearly not meant to be the first scenario new characters and players should face in the final book.

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Yeah, it’s not an introduction to Rokugan adventure, it’s a “test every type of scene” adventure. Which is cool, but as my play test group are mostly new to Rokugan, I ran them through a version of the 4th ed. Tournament of Samurai last night as their first adventure. Next time (in three weeks because i’m away for the next two sessions, we’ll level up and run the proper scenario. 

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