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player2636234

Just ran this for my group...

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I'm going to try and not bring up the flavor of the module, and things I disagree with setting-wise. This is just about the module and my experience with the game's mechanics.

[spoiler warning]

The module is bad. Real bad. The adventure begins with a murder mystery where you're intended to find zero evidence. There is no evidence to find. Everything you need to know is told to you by the introduction, head south to the wall.

On top of the investigation being unsatisfying for my group, as there was no potential to succeed in any capacity, the process of investigation was a nightmare. After being told there were TN bonuses and penalties based on your approach, my group spent nearly 30 minutes discussing 3 different rolls to try and figure out what the best approach would be. They guessed wrong on all three, and as a GM, the three "proper" approaches didn't make any sense at all. It felt random. Overall I think the TN bonus/penalty system based on your approach is a huge mistake. It creates a ton of stuff to memorize (25 individual approaches) and it also makes every check a puzzle (you're encouraging this slow play pattern by rewarding players for taking their time to think about it). 

The dice. The dice. They're just so awful. Making a roll is like wearing a straight jacket. At keep 3 (which unless the players invest 12 XP out of their starting pool, that's their cap), you can't do anything exciting at all. Unless you explode, 2 successes and 1 opportunity is all you can achieve. Even if you do explode you're still looking at 2.5 successes and 1.5 opportunity, generally speaking. There are the cases too where you get 2 opportunities on your initial roll, so you have to make a choice. Guarantee to 2 opportunities and gamble rolling a success on the explosion, or keeping 2 successes and gambling on the opportunities. Players can agonize over these choices and it slows things way down. The dice are easily the worst part about playing the game. The more my group got through he module the less they even wanted to roll dice, even for tasks they were good at.

Combat might be fun if it wasn't so swingy. I ran a few packs of enemies (from goblins up to lost samurai) and all of them were incredibly easy for my party (24 XP as recommended by the module). Meanwhile the oni boss at the end killed two party members in a single round and didn't even roll terribly well. Further, the fire, air, and earth stances are all incredibly broken in their own unique ways, while water and void seem pointless to me. In combat especially, attacking as fire can add 3 success to your rolls with little downside, as crits are so exceedingly rare and damage is relatively low (a lost samurai averaging around 2 damage a hit unless I chose to go into fire stance). The earth stance making you immune to activated critical hits is janky at best on players, but incredibly frustrating for NPCs, and air stance is so powerful because a +1 TN to be hit when everyone's keeping only 3 makes you nearly untouchable. Dueling is neat in concept but in practice the optimal play seems to be to only center and you alternate between your stats to keep yourself calm and enrage your opponent. Being at TN 4+ to hit is basically invincible at this level range.

I don't think I need to even say that the Crab are written poorly. They send you out on MMO style fetch quests, refusing to send advice to their boss unless the emerald magistrates do busy work for them. I mean, a Hida Officer refusing to give battle advice to their commander unless the players find some drunk Crab in the stables? (This isn't to mention that the advice they give is terrible. Keeping the gates closed makes the mass combat a guaranteed win).

The Mass combat legitimately took me hours to even grasp. There's some serious editing problems. How many of each cohort type are available? What is the terrain of the mass combat at the end? How many "hida wall" fortifications should there actually be? Why do they give 10 reduction? How are the shadowlands forces intended to hurt anyone? Why don't stances apply in mass combat? What happens with strife in mass combat and does it or does it not interact with panic? If movement isn't a thing in mass combat, how exactly do you determine when it is required to abandon a fortification to assault or rally a unit? When the GM says so? Again. I like the concept but the execution is awful.

Overall the only fun I had running this for four hours was making fun of how obtuse the rules were with my group, who grew to resent the system rather quickly, as they were repeatedly failing even TN 2 tasks with regularity. 

It is easily one of the worst systems I have ever played, and a lot is going to have to change for me to consider playing it again.

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That's a lot of negatives to process. I'm surprised at how bad it was for you. I know the rules are a lot to go through, but are you certain you were doing it all correctly? Your rolling stats seem off for example. In my own tests I found 3 ring 2 skill is generally 3 successes (or 2 success and an explosion)

Your combat breakdown is pretty off. 2 Opportunity are an automatic critical hit (provided you have enough successes to meet/beat the TN), so Crits shouldn't be rare at all.

Damage really shouldn't be low. A katana deals 4 damage plus bonus successes (generally a TN 2, so you'll have a bonus of +1 a lot of times). Most opponents don't have armor but clothing that provides 1 resistance. So that's 4 damage a hit. Most minion NPC's only have 5-10 life, so 2-3 hits and they are don. Also remember:

P. 190: "When a minion’s wounds exceed its resilience, it does not suffer any listed effects of the associated critical strike. If the severity of the critical strike it is dealt is 7 or higher, the minion is killed; otherwise, the minion merely suffers the Incapacitated and Unconscious conditions.

If a minion is dealt a critical strike from any other source, the minion suffers a number of wounds equal to the severity of the critical strike instead.

Minions do not receive the passive benefits from stances"

About players and their stances in combat? Don't forget that first your stance determines what Ring you roll with. This inherently balances rings because to get that cool effect, you might have to roll and keep less dice. Then, Fire can certainly add 3 extra successes, but you are also taking 3 strife. Do that 4 times in one combat and you are having an Outburt, which can be pretty detrimental to the combat. All of the rings have a great use, it just depends on the situation.

Edited by Vutall

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6 hours ago, player2636234 said:

How many of each cohort type are available?

One. It's not a detailed simulation. A cohort is "the bit of the army led by [named leader]", so there will be as many cohorts as there are named leaders below the commander:

  • Hida Tsukiko's Infantry
  • Hiruma Yukito's Infantry (or Archers, depending on how Tonomatsu has fielded them)
  • Kaiu Masae's War Machine Crews
  • Kuni Terumi's Shujenga (if they're there)

For a total of 3-4 cohorts. They all use the same pool of panic, army strength, etc, and are more like left arm/right arm of a monster holding different weapons than they are 'three infantry units and one cavalry unit who get attacked separately'.

  • Yasuki Hatsu doesn't really have a field command so there won't be a 'cohort' he leads, but you could argue the quartermaster corps to be a 4th/5th cohort that only does reinforce or rally actions.
  • The Nezumi are a potential extra cohort if someone goes and leads them (taking the glory/status/whatever it was hit). Otherwise, they're a one-use effect to cause 5 casualties.

Given that each round, the actions are 'a leader does this', you can never have more actions (and hence more cohorts) than the number of leaders.

6 hours ago, player2636234 said:

How many "hida wall" fortifications should there actually be?

Enough that all the Hida Cohorts initially start behind one, until such time as they're pushed back from it (and it's potentially occupied by the horde instead).

6 hours ago, player2636234 said:

Why do they give 10 reduction?

Because reasons. The Kaiu Wall is the biggest, best, scariest fortified position in the L5R setting (a hundred foot high and bristling with siege weapons), so trying to assault it from the front is considered twice as hard as trying to take a normal castle, I guess. See the film The Great Wall for more details (bungee spearwomen optional).

Plus, it's their first ever mass combat, so having the PCs get overrun and horribly murdered by goblins in the second round might feel a little unheroic.

6 hours ago, player2636234 said:

Why don't stances apply in mass combat?

Because you're rolling for the effect of a large chunk of troops fighting over an hour or more, so they're going to be in multiple stances both simultaneously and over the course of a single round.

6 hours ago, player2636234 said:

What happens with strife in mass combat and does it or does it not interact with panic?

Strife is something the leader or commander will receive (because it's a check on their skills). It doesn't specifically lead to panic, but an outburst will obviously mess with their ability to lead their troops effectively, which should result in them failing to prevent battle fatigue, failing to rally their troops, etc.

6 hours ago, player2636234 said:

If movement isn't a thing in mass combat, how exactly do you determine when it is required to abandon a fortification to assault or rally a unit?

Broadly speaking, you aren't. It's assumed that if you start in a fortress, you plan on staying there; you can only be pushed off by the enemy succeeding in a Capture A Position objective. If you need to, you can rally or reinforce 'in situ' - it's other troops coming to you, not relocating yourself - and if you 'assault' it's assumed you can assault with whatever portion of the cohort is fighting and fall back again to your defended position unless you have a specific desire to abandon it (because you're trying to capture a different position).

Movement for PCs is not a thing because it's an hour or more of fighting per turn. Barring occasional clashes or personal-scale skill checks, you can assume they have time to get anywhere they need to within their cohort - or, frankly, on the battlefield as a whole.

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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While my experiences were much more positive than yours, I 100% agree with you about the investigation portion of the module. There's no mystery whatsoever the way it is currently laid out - the party immediately finds out everything about the murder straight from Hirohide right at the get go. I modified it significantly to make it more interesting (I didn't tell them that the culprit was already identified, for one, and didn't mention anything about Michiru or maho, allowing evidence of both to be discovered, and from there, for the party to discover that the as-yet unknown Keinosuke headed to the Kaiu wall).

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@Vutall Please don't patronize me as if I'm merely confused about the rules. I've been playing tabletop games for over a decade. And I do mean games. I've played over a dozen systems, ranging from extremely popular to a homebrew systems born on an obscure forums. I was optimistic heading into FFG's L5R because I liked a lot of these concepts presented in the rulebook, dueling and mass combat especially, but I and my group found the execution awful, and drag to play. Getting back on topic, I understand that you use your current stance as the default ring for all your combat actions, from fitness to martial arts. However the common spread at CC is 3 in two different rings, (basically of your choice, unless your clan/family/school options give you zero support). Further, it explicitly says in the rulebook that outbursts in combat aren't really a big deal (p. 17, Battle Rage) because you can always choose become enraged, which have more upsides than downsides. Therefor accumulating a ton of strife in the fire stance can be beneficial, and some schools need strife to function anyway. Finally, once you suffer your outburst for a given scene, there's no longer any downside with getting more strife (excepting possibly some kata or shuji that I overlooked?). Your strife value is reset at the end of the scene no matter what. 

@Magnus Grendel Absolutely none of that is evident in the book. On Page 214 for example it states "the three types of units that are definitely available are..." which of course implies that the choice between cohorts is a choice between type, and they aren't limited in any way. At no point in the module is it ever explicitly said in plain words that the cohorts types are individual and specific units. Further on Page 214 it reads "All cohorts occupying a Fortified Position (the Kaiu Wall) reduce all casualties inflicted on them by 10." As I'm relatively certain that only one cohort can hold a position at a time, this obviously implies there are more than one of the Kaiu Wall fortification. This, as well as things like the mechanical effects of leaving the gates open or closed, aren't exactly clear because they're simply not intuitive.

Edited by player2636234

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It's definitely a poorly written module, disappointing really. It's disheartening to hear of your terrible experience too. I had a feeling the dice would either allow you to succeed without Opportunity or have Opportunity but fail, to hear it so is frustrating.

Other than adding more Suc/Opp faces to the dice I can only think that characters should start with 2's in everything before the 20 question process. That should up the number of results generated on a check. Raise the starting limit to 4 and the maximum in game to 6.

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11 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

One. It's not a detailed simulation. A cohort is "the bit of the army led by [named leader]", so there will be as many cohorts as there are named leaders below the commander:

  • Hida Tsukiko's Infantry
  • Hiruma Yukito's Infantry (or Archers, depending on how Tonomatsu has fielded them)
  • Kaiu Masae's War Machine Crews
  • Kuni Terumi's Shujenga (if they're there)

Just to throw more fuel on the fire when I read it I got the impression was that each PC would have a cohort rather than the NPC commanders leading them.

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18 hours ago, Norgrath said:

Just to throw more fuel on the fire when I read it I got the impression was that each PC would have a cohort rather than the NPC commanders leading them.

If they're acting as leaders, then yes. But then you need a reason they've been put in command rather than the actual commanders. I would resolve the leaders' activities with the PCs helping and/or playing out smaller fights against the backdrop.

Note that the cohorts are referred to in the singular as well:

Quote

 

  • Additionally, the Hida cohort does not count as occupying a Fortified Position
  • The Hiruma cohort loses the Archery ability
  • The Kaiu cohort does not count as occupying a Fortified Position

 

 

 

Quote

At no point in the module is it ever explicitly said in plain words that the cohorts types are individual and specific units.

Because they're not. Again; a cohort is "the dudes what [named leader] is leading" - they are not a meaningful resource or unit themselves so much as a means to give the leaders a way to express the results of their actions.

 

22 hours ago, player2636234 said:

As I'm relatively certain that only one cohort can hold a position at a time, this obviously implies there are more than one of the Kaiu Wall fortification.

There's more than one fortified position. But the Kaiu wall is not 'one position' - it's a fortified line long enough for any number of troops to deploy atop it. and still be part of a 'battleline'.

 

I'm not saying it's amazingly well written. But I don't think it's that bad.

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On 10/9/2017 at 0:19 PM, Richardbuxton said:

Other than adding more Suc/Opp faces to the dice I can only think that characters should start with 2's in everything before the 20 question process. That should up the number of results generated on a check. Raise the starting limit to 4 and the maximum in game to 6.

I haven't gotten to run the adventure yet, but at least in theory I'm okay with starting Rings.  Most characters will have either 33211 or 32221 as their starting stats, with a rank or two of key skills.  Since you always have your choice of which Ring to use, you should be able to hit TN 2 without trouble, though anything higher starts to get tough.  The drawback is that you're only good with one or two styles.  I put together my wife's old character from 3rd Edition, and Shinjo Zoya-Ool is pretty dangerous in Water or Earth Stance, takes a pretty big gamble in Fire Stance (but Strife becomes a bonus!), and really should not mess around with Air or Void.

Skill points, though.  Some more points to spend on skills would be really really nice.

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2 hours ago, The Grand Falloon said:

Skill points, though.  Some more points to spend on skills would be really really nice.

I think that currently that's the biggest failing with fresh-out-of-the-gate characters at the moment, is that they simply don't have that many points to place in skills.  And if you're just rolling your Ring dice and it's not one of your stronger Rings, then you're kinda hosed, which is a stark contrast to the dice system used in Star Wars and Genesys, where if you're rolling just straight ability dice, you've got a decent chance of success with as long as the number of green dice equals or exceeds the number of purple dice.

I think a pool of 5 skill ranks, with a limit of only being able to raise a skill to 2 ranks, would help offset this.  That way, you can easily have a PC that is very capable in their chosen field of expertise (such as bushi schools that are skilled fighters) or a PC that is broadly trained.

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23 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

This is a bad sign not a good one. If the adventure needs to add xp to the characters just to be play then there is something wrong with the Character generation rule.

No, it just means that the adventure they chose to use is designed for experienced characters.  The problem is that they decided to use an introductory example scenario that is not geared to starting PCs.

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Star Wars had you spend something 110 XP after getting your free stuff from race and career, right? I don't think there is anything wrong with "free" question-based points that ensure basic competency and keep schools/clans/families distinct, and then XP on top of that. I honestly expect that main book will have multiple proposed starting XPs to help figure out what kind of a campaign do you want. 

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3 minutes ago, WHW said:

Star Wars had you spend something 110 XP after getting your free stuff from race and career, right? I don't think there is anything wrong with "free" question-based points that ensure basic competency and keep schools/clans/families distinct, and then XP on top of that. I honestly expect that main book will have multiple proposed starting XPs to help figure out what kind of a campaign do you want. 

I have nothing against them giving you starting xp. I'm all for it and think it should be part of character creation.

Edited by tenchi2a

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Then take note that the Beta document doesn't contain full GM section (it's explained in a sidebar), and that "how much XP on chargen" will be probably in these missing sections. It isn't in the chargen, because there probably won't be a default chargen XP, instead IMHO we will have stuff like "My Little Samurai Academia starts with 10 XP,  Magistrates of City of Lies start with 50 XP and one extra disadvantage, and Clash of the Daimyos is 300xp status 80 game"

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44 minutes ago, WHW said:

Then take note that the Beta document doesn't contain full GM section (it's explained in a sidebar), and that "how much XP on chargen" will be probably in these missing sections. It isn't in the chargen, because there probably won't be a default chargen XP, instead IMHO we will have stuff like "My Little Samurai Academia starts with 10 XP,  Magistrates of City of Lies start with 50 XP and one extra disadvantage, and Clash of the Daimyos is 300xp status 80 game"

This is not even close to my only issues with this game so far. It needs a lot more work then just an xp boost before I buy it. But will see how the Beta goes.

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11 hours ago, WHW said:

Star Wars had you spend something 110 XP after getting your free stuff from race and career, right? I don't think there is anything wrong with "free" question-based points that ensure basic competency and keep schools/clans/families distinct, and then XP on top of that. I honestly expect that main book will have multiple proposed starting XPs to help figure out what kind of a campaign do you want. 

Well, I think what might be deemed an issue with bonus XP in this system is that a player could use that XP to buy things that allow them to fill out their School Rank 1 requirements and so put them that much closer to being Rank 2, depending on how much bonus XP is provided.

For instance, the "add 24XP" for the sample adventure pretty much suggests the PCs should be Rank 2 in their schools with a little left over for other things that might strike the player's fancy.

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17 hours ago, tenchi2a said:

This is a bad sign not a good one. If the adventure needs to add xp to the characters just to be play then there is something wrong with the Character generation rule.

Not necessarily. I think it is just a way of how the game was designed. I may be misremembering things but in 4e, the rule book would automatically start you with a certain number of XP for every new character. This was just their way of letting you customize it past your school/family bonuses.

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12 minutes ago, RokoganiGM said:

Not necessarily. I think it is just a way of how the game was designed. I may be misremembering things but in 4e, the rule book would automatically start you with a certain number of XP for every new character. This was just their way of letting you customize it past your school/family bonuses.

Yes, and that is one of the more requested additions to this game I have seen. The issues is as written the current Character generation rule do not have this. But to play the adventure the characters need to be upped by 24xp. This to me either shows a failing in the Character generation rules or bad adventure design. And before anyone brings it up. This is the first adventure in the first week of the beta you should be testing PC just out of character creation not higher level play. With a new game this is where you keep or lose you players. You can't say "O I know the game sucks right not but don't worry when you get to 2-3 rank its better".

Edited by tenchi2a

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15 hours ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

Well, I think what might be deemed an issue with bonus XP in this system is that a player could use that XP to buy things that allow them to fill out their School Rank 1 requirements and so put them that much closer to being Rank 2, depending on how much bonus XP is provided.

They could add a line that only xp spent After character creation goes towards increasing your school rank. Doing so would actually help get people to invest in things outside their school progression.

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15 hours ago, tenchi2a said:

Yes, and that is one of the more requested additions to this game I have seen. The issues is as written the current Character generation rule do not have this. But to play the adventure the characters need to be upped by 24xp. This to me either shows a failing in the Character generation rules or bad adventure design. And before anyone brings it up. This is the first adventure in the first week of the beta you should be testing PC just out of character creation not higher level play. With a new game this is where you keep or lose you players. You can't say "O I know the game sucks right not but don't worry when you get to 2-3 rank its better".

It's a beta... if they gave us 24 xp it's likely because they want to see how experienced characters are playing. To test how players are going to weigh XP expenditure, to see how large dice pools are working, to see what tech combos are over/under tuned. How is it bad design to want your beta testers to test what you need tested? This isn't free rpg day's intro adventure, it's a beta. We get what they want us to play with. Nothing is stopping you from writing your own starting character adventures and testing those.

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1 hour ago, llamaman88 said:

It's a beta... if they gave us 24 xp it's likely because they want to see how experienced characters are playing. To test how players are going to weigh XP expenditure, to see how large dice pools are working, to see what tech combos are over/under tuned. How is it bad design to want your beta testers to test what you need tested? This isn't free rpg day's intro adventure, it's a beta. We get what they want us to play with. Nothing is stopping you from writing your own starting character adventures and testing those.

What part of my post did you miss? Did I not say they where doing this. The point is if you don't know how low levels work why would you be worried about high levels. And before anyone brings it up I have all three Star Wars betas on my shelf and all of there adventures start right after character creation with no xp bump. So this is not their standard practice.

Edited by tenchi2a

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Honestly, the game needed to be playtesting at even higher rank. This adventure is just a mechanics exercise with a loose (and incredibly silly) story attached to it.  The biggest problems I see for this game are in scalability. Imagine the Disadvantage/Void Point mechanics at Rank 3 or 4. The characters will have to deliberately fail at simple tasks, or come up with wacky, impossibly difficult tasks just to get Void Points back.

7 hours ago, jmoschner said:

They could add a line that only xp spent After character creation goes towards increasing your school rank. Doing so would actually help get people to invest in things outside their school progression.

Or they just adjust the School Rank tracking to accommodate for it by adding a couple extra requirements.  It really doesn't have to be terribly complicated. The previous editions handled character progression to Insight Rank 2 with no problem, and the characters were incredibly customizable. If it wasn't a problem then, it isn't a problem now.

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