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AK_Aramis

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Session 1:

PC's Ryū no Togashi Akari (TH), Ise Zumi, and Soshi Yokuni, Bayushi Infiltrator (G).

They interacted with, in narrative mode, the witnesses in the village, then made it to the wall, and rather than trigger a duel, or even imply an accusation, they began a social conflict using a combination of sexual appeal (willfully allowing him to misperceive a chance to get some horizontal action with the gorgeous Togashi)

While it took some time to play that out, it was relatively simple. We did end mid-social conflict. G has a time crunch.

Neither broke, but Soshi came close.

Awarded no XP, due to no time. Noted later that I'd missed the "Give them 24 XP." Decided to not add it. Just to see how it plays out.

Session 2:

Add third PC: Isawa Akio, Isawa Fire Shugenja (RB).

They stressed him out, but I didn't tell them that; instead, he accused the Ise Zumi of being nought but a Yojimbo. the Togashi took offense. She called him to either come along or apologize.. and drew her bow; he agreed, but flipped his katana... she switched to wakizashi, as did he. He won the initiative. He centered; she provoked; he centered, she provoked; he struck, doing damage, then smartly sheathing the wakizashi. She acknowledged her loss, but was very close to breaking.

Having won the duel, Keinosuke isn't talking. Isawa goes to the Hida "sergeant" - who refuses to let them take him away for questioning. Isawa nearly provokes a duel, but points out that he cannot without his lord's permission... a valid but not glorious answer.

Soshi proceeds to talk to the Hida, and gets him to order Keinosuke to answer their questions, here, while the Ise Zumi takes his post on the wall. He gives his report.

The messenger arrives

They proceeded to make the rounds to gather intel... the first two took almost no time - plenty of opportunity for speed.

They found Hida-dono quickly, and Togashi and Soshi found the sleeping samurai  in a mere few minutes, while the Isawa took a look around and healed some Hida.

They got their report. THey proceeded to find Hiruma before he could find them... 3 opp spend on time, and another on spotting him first. When they group together, keeping 5d is rather prone to impressive.

They went next to the Engineer, and quickly made short work of helping; the Togashi carried; the Soshi performed to inspire their labors; the Isawa carried water around.

They then manage to make it quickly to the temple, and all choose to aid in the ceremony. (Nothing says they cannot!), so it's also 4R 5S K6 .. And takes its time, but all are purified and no delays occur (read: reduced time)... so the Isawa stays put to aid the research. The Ise Zumi chooses to sit and meditate (to reduce stress via a separate short scene), while the Soshi and Yasuki have their tea ceremony. While Soshi debriefs Yasuki, and charms him into providing her Ashigaru armor and Togashi Lacquered Armor,  togashi checks the stores. They all agree to keep the source of the issue vague.

They have mere minutes to spare, but Hida-dono gets their advice. We rush through it. They falter once, and both are near breaking... but they convince Hida-dono of all their preferences: Gates open, Tunnels Open, Scouts as infantry, kuni ritualizing. 

I award the XP:
Togashi:
 • Session 1=4
 • Session 2=7

Soshi
 • Session 1=4
 • Session 2=7

Isawa
 • Session 2 = 7
 • gave in to his Ninjō (seek knowledge)  while using his Bookish as a negative = 1 (his void was already full)

Honor - each of them gave into losses at least once... The Ise Zumi lost 10 H and 5 G for the duel. I find the honor system more intrusive than it was in 2E or 3E - the more vague award/penalty system was more useful; the 56 entries are nice, but really a pain to work with.

G is having trouble with all the Japanese terms. She's not an otaku-no-nihongo... unlike TH, RB, myself.

They spent some XP, too.

The Soshi spent on several absent as yet social skills, plus a martial arts skill. G plans on the character making a noble sacrifice in the battle.

The Ise Zumi raised her 1 water to 2, and bought some non-school skills

The Isawa raised Courtesy... and bought a fire attack spell.

Next week, the battle.

Duel Mechanics

The Duel was somewhat of an issue - the book doesn't specify who all is involved, and the bidding for initiative doesn't seem worthwhile. I wouldn't say it's broken; it is, however, nowhere near as tense as it was under 3E. It's boring as **** for the uninvolved others. They wanted to help, but were unwilling to lose honor to do so.

Rolls in general

RB and TH are groking the mechanics well, and working the keeps nicely.

Void Points

No one has used more than 1. 

General Comments from the players

G: Lots of stuff going on, and it's kind of confusing. Plus, all the japanese makes it confusing. Is that a name? Is that some special thing? Arrgghh... I need a new character. She needs to die. 

RB: Lots of mechanics to get used to. [About techniques] Too much to copy by hand; printouts are essential. Plays well. Except for the missing out on a whole series of scenes due to one choice that's character-build demanded.

TH: Lots of moving parts. Still confusing which ring to use. [About approaches:] Some of the names don't make sense to me.

Everyone: The character sheet needs a lot of work.

Me: I've not been using the wheels yet, as they're use isn't quite clear, and I've not got that chunk of rules reread. In a less book-driven, I'd be using them far more for inspiration... but rolling them at end of prior session, so I have time to plan.

The Advantages and Disads work well enough. I didn't get to use them.

Failure and Success:

I didn't count successes in session 2, but it was some 30 rolls or so. Only 4 failures in the whole lot. One social conflict roll failed by the dragon, two casting rolls by the Isawa, one social roll by the Phoenix (vs the Crab Sergeant). There were several "Add one success to the total RP" results. No one had an outburst, but it was close and tense. 

RB is rather failure averse in other games, so I understand why he's very very careful not to remind of his failings..

TH isn't all that failure averse.

 

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Got to thinking about this...

My issues with social combat:

  • Attack generating RP and Scheme doing strife feels wrong. Like it should be reversed. Trivial issue.
  • No clear end unless it's a clear opposed † or a 3 side situation §.
  • Three side situation seems to be a race to max the RP. 
  • Not enough different meaningful action choices to make it feel better than simply assigning an opposed roll
  • initiative would actually be useful
  • TN's seem too easy
  • Unclear if an Outburst removes one from scene, or just makes an honor and glory hit.

In this adventure

  • Clearly written for full on court situations, but used for A vs Target. And Target has no reason to NOT listen to them, as Target (Hida Tomonatsu) has already asked them for their advice.
  • Not set up for in the most logical place - upon meeting Keinosuke. It's the singularly most obvious place for me to put one in this adventure - he's got a goal - to get them to leave him be, and they have a goal - to bring him in. It's a duel-of-thoughts situation... and one very suitable to a "Set the RP for each side, and race to see who can get there first"
  • RP Targets for the goals unified into one big block,
  • the monk is axiomatically opposed to whatever their plan is - Dramatic, but rankles those with a simulationist bent - especially since, once the evidence of the arrow shortage is presented, it's obvious that the Hiruma being archers is going to be a problem.
  • No TN to convince the Clan Monk Gakuto. 

Note: one of the best things I've seen in a social combat system was a system of "no limit on rolls, but a limit on failed rolls" - from The One Ring RPG. Once a side accrues too many fails, they're done.  This would also put pressure on to take those strife.  I love a good set of social combat rules - at present, this is so-so.

I'm not a big fan of "Quantum State NPCs"... and this adventure has several.

† Clear Opposed: A wants B to do X, B wants to convince A not to have them do X. 

§ Three side Situation: Target, then persuaders side A, and persuaders side B. A & be axiomatically are both trying to convince T that they are right. T is the judge.

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On 10/22/2017 at 7:26 AM, AK_Aramis said:

The Duel was somewhat of an issue - the book doesn't specify who all is involved, and the bidding for initiative doesn't seem worthwhile. I wouldn't say it's broken; it is, however, nowhere near as tense as it was under 3E. It's boring as **** for the uninvolved others. They wanted to help, but were unwilling to lose honor to do so.

Whilst I don't mind the duel mechanics, I was left with this problem as well when running the duel (ours was to first blood, so went on a bit longer!); a formal duel is one PC and (usually) an NPC 'doing stuff' and the rest of the party stood around being inscrutable. Which is, as you note, boring as **** for the uninvolved others.

We also had an issue where the Hida in our party gave up bidding for initiative pretty early on; Keinosuke had a 1 point initiative advantage going in, and spent a fire opportunity to up that to 2 early on. 

Our view was:

  • Duels need to have more of a feel of continuously raising tension
  • Duels need to be faster (in real time), no matter how long they take narratively

Duels already have an end-the-fight mechanic in the form of the finishing blow; all you need is to force matters to get there faster. 

  • 'Staredown' is quite a nice idea, and it gives lower focus characters, or someone who messes up an assessment check, a fighting chance (at least for a round or so) of overcoming an intitiative disadvantage.
  • The big problem with the mechanic is being able to choose to not engage with it.

If you take that away - by mandating a minimum bid - then both players are continuously on a clock to one of them giving their opponent an opportunity for a finishing blow (the opportunity to not decapitate someone in a duel to first strike might be nice!).

Ultimately, about four rounds including the initiative roll-off (what you had) is about as much as I'd ever want to have a solo activity take.

 

For that matter, the 'showdowns' rule in Edge of the Empire (which I think is a superb duel mechanic!) specifically makes duels three rounds - a perception/coercion"size up/staredown" round, a cool "nerve" round for who gets the drop, and the combat attack of the first-to-draw only, with a list of especially brutal effects* you can spend advantage and triumph (think opportunity) on compared to a normal skirmish attack.

 

* Examples:

  • Draw a weapon as an incidental
  • Perform an aim action as an incidental
  • If you hit a minion NPC, they are killed automatically
  • If you hit, perform a second attack

Basically the "Cooper. Two coffins... No, maybe three." scene from Yojimbo.

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Thinking on this... the problem with the duel is the ability to drop the opponent's TN.

In older editions, it was focus or strike... the TNTBH kept climbing... you had to judge when your opponent was no longer going to be willing to raise againbecause your TNTBH was going to be too high.

In terms of this edition it would look like:

  1. Initial assessement
  2. Rounds
    1. Raise initative (as current)
    2. Actions
      1. Focus - Support TN (round number) Meditation (stance) TN +1 on foe's next attack
      2. Strike - Attack: TN (2 plus opponent's focus raises) Martial Arts (stance)
      3. Provoke – Scheme: TN (Opponent's Honor Rank, minimum 1) doing 1+Bonus Successes strife - if this causes an outburst you may finishing move
      4. Concede. Reduce honor and glory losses by 5.
    3. (see below)

I'd add for the 2.3: change stance- you may not use the same stance more than twice in a row.

Why? because then it adds another layer to the guessing game... will he focus? Will he strike? the ability to lower the TN is bad. That duel I mentioned? it was 5 rounds... because they were evenly matched, and he was raising his TNTBH, and she was lowering it.

Outsiders should be able to make comments, lay bets, flash anatomy, etc... for fairly low forfeit...

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7 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

the ability to lower the TN is bad.

The Provoke action really doesn't do very much, though.

Centre and Provoke both modify your TN by 1 plus bonus successes, but Centre is TN1 and Provoke is TN3, meaning if the two parties each do these actions, the same roll generates a TN+2 shift in favour of the defender plus a 1/5 (in reality probably 1/2 to 1/3) chance of a strife dump on the opponent. 

Add to the fact that provoke doesn't (outside of air stance) increase your own defence, or provide any disincentive to attacking, and the few times we've tried it it seems like one player centres, the other provokes, and before you can capitalize on the provoke action, the other player strikes and hits you whilst your guard is down.

I'd far rather provoke did something else - force your opponent to shift stance, or force them to make an attack action, or something similar. 

7 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Outsiders should be able to make comments, lay bets, flash anatomy, etc... for fairly low forfeit...

This was a trial-by-combat with them as representatives of the emerald magistrature; I'm not sure sidling up to the Kaiu samurai in command of the detachment and going "fancy a side wager" would be received well. Regardless, I think that's going to be a recurring issue; duels should be short not just for narrative character but to retain the attention of the other players; a continuously racking up tension and a short duration is important.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Session 2: started mass combat. Very confused.

Session 3: Finished mass combat. Killed Shosuro in a clash/duel with moto (and with player's agreement). At least she died fighting. And cost him a lot. 

Mass combat was boring. In no small part due to the duels. the duel/clash mechanic is both just as boring and excludes other players, so almost an hour of the mass combat was spent on clashes.  

There's no incentive to reduce the TN unless the opponent has raised it, and then it's a waiting game... one my players were not willing to engage with. Both clashes turned to just a series of strikes. There's no incentive to win the race for the initiative, either, as it's not Iaijutsu.

And then,  the adventure has no advice on "my players rolled well, and the Shadowlands Army is fleeing." 

Because he volunteered to stay with the shugenja, Isawa was not in the action; we handed him Hiruma Takei, generic veteran bushi.

Round 1, they did about 15 damage, and took none, did 10 panic, took 3, but recovered 5.

Round 2, they did 45 damage due to some really good rolls, and chased off the shadowlands army.

We all felt the damage to the army mechanic was falling flat, and wanted damage to units.

What happens when a cohort's leader dies? does the cohort disband into the army? (We just put a member in charge after the panic increase).

This resulted in the shadowlands army fleeing due to Strength 0. We had a Lion, a Matsu/Akodo Commander, also rank 1, join.

So, on to the skeletons. even versus rank 1 samurai, 1 skeleton per each, A, B, & C. The Hiruma charged forward and engaged Skeleton A. Togashi took out her bow, and shot A.  Matsu shot C. Skeletons put a little damage on Hiruma. A dropped from Hiruma. C dropped from Togashi's shot. B took a hit from Akodo, then from hiruma.

The casting went off without a hitch, rolled by Isawa with help from the shugenja present. Extra successes. But not enough to actually get through the supernatural defenses. It was, however, enough to put the entrance under protection... and the oni got a good first strike on Akodo. 

The skirmish went annoyingly. Akodo dropped the Oni's PD, to 1, and then Togashi ignored 4... repeat.  At one point, the oni was immobilized, incapacitated, and disoriented... but the togashi was on fire, disoriented, and the Akodo was disoriented.

We had 2 unmaskings - Togashi - since her armor was on fire, she shucked her armor with her knife and fought naked. -5 honor, +10 glory. (She's also got Dangerous Beauty... so the injured and dying got a serious morale boost. And EVERYONE will be talking about the 5.5 shaku tall Togashi leap-kicking the 25 shaku Oni in the arm... and using opportunity for "Minimum damage" to avoid the magma.) They just dropped back to range two, and kept shooting/stabbing it until it eventually got a dying crit, and then backed off. It couldn't escape.

Major Adventure Flaws

  1. makes use of the incredibly bland as currently written mass combat 
    1. clashes make a vaguely passible mechanic really "totally f***ing boring" - this from the player who was in the duel.
    2. no provisions in the adventure for the mass combat being ended by route nor troop loss.
    3. really hard to narrate.
  2. The skeletons (Skeletal Bushi) at 1 per each are WAY over-rated.
    1. Especially since my PC's put the fight in the rubble with assessment time opportunities.
    2. defense bypassing techniques make them insta-gib.
    3. Sure, they're immune to crits from weapons. 
      1. They still go incapacitated when over resilience.
      2. They got over capacity really quick. 2 or 3 hits each from rank 1 samurai, and only one a bushi.
  3. the Oni was a good fight...
    1. but the excessive infliction of conditions was confusing for players.
    2. actually killing it was a pain. And I left it in fire stance most of the time to reduce the crits. It took 7 crits before being hit with dying 3.
    3. there really shouldn't have been a fight with the Oni, as the summoning beings were on the run already

So, yes, my rank 1 PCs simply brutalized their way through by good use of abilities and a little luck.

Only 1 void point was spent the whole session: the Togashi used the Demon's Magma as a weakness versus Water-Fist... Which allowed her to get the kihō active, and after that, she kept leap-kicking the sucker.

They did get it to 10 over resilience.

 

Edited by AK_Aramis
accidental submit while writing.

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Nice write-up.

14 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

no provisions in the adventure for the mass combat being ended by route nor troop loss.

Agreed.

  • Given that the narrative essentially requires the fight to last at least 3 rounds:
    • The Horde o, why is the strength of the f Kanazagan no Oni for some reason only has a strength 35 compared to the 'generic' shadowlands horde having strength 65
    • Can lose 15 points automatically off the bat (5 for the Nezumi attacking, 10 for Kaiu Masae's trap).
  • That's 50% strength immediately  in addition to what any assault actions do!
  • According to the scouts, the horde is supposed to outnumber the defenders three to one!
  • Despite this it's assumed that after three rounds the fight will still be going on.
    • If this was explicitely described as 'the first wave' or similar, it might make more sense.
    • The 'first wave being beaten off' makes sense and doesn't ruin the story (because it implies by default more waves are coming), and the 'gap' between waves would explain why at the end of the scene the PCs are all back together on the wall (as opposed to wherever the cohorts they'd been leading up to this point were - in the case of a player leading the Nezumi potentially out in front of the wall!)
14 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

The skeletons (Skeletal Bushi) at 1 per each are WAY over-rated.

  1. Especially since my PC's put the fight in the rubble with assessment time opportunities.
  2. defense bypassing techniques make them insta-gib.
  3. Sure, they're immune to crits from weapons. 
    1. They still go incapacitated when over resilience.
    2. They got over capacity really quick. 2 or 3 hits each from rank 1 samurai, and only one a bushi.
  • They are just minions, so...yeah. You have to overreach their resiliance, but you can't use a critical to drop them before this point. 
  • When we did it, pretty much every swing by the two samurai attacking - one a Defender with an Otsuchi and the other an Elementalist with a Biting Steel Wakizashi were killing them each time they struck.
  • I've no problem with a minion being killed by a single solid hit - that's kind of the point of a minion - but facing them one-for-one is a bit of a joke for a section supposed to teach the players the skirmish rules.
  • Even though the players were winning, I did use half again the numbers and a leader (Sakae the Maho-Tsukai) and that was far more of a challenge because they had to stop the witch before she got away (as it happens a bow-shot incapacitated her right in the doorway into the Third Watchtower). 
14 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

the Oni was a good fight...

  1. but the excessive infliction of conditions was confusing for players.
  2. actually killing it was a pain. And I left it in fire stance most of the time to reduce the crits. It took 7 crits before being hit with dying 3.
  3. there really shouldn't have been a fight with the Oni, as the summoning beings were on the run already
  • It took quite a battering to kill in our game, too.
  • Again, it definitely needs a bit of re-writing. It's never made entirely clear what triggers the oni to manifest, but if the army is already fleeing it seems wierd. 
  • Fire 6, Fitness 4 rapidly reduces most criticals to 0. Which, of course, means it doesn't then do damage with Fire for Blood
  • I think leaving it in fire stance (it's one 'supernatural' level stat) is probably correct. Regardless, that's what I did, too. Of course, that should also mean rapidly busting past its composure which should help (if make the fight scarier for everone else!) because enraged. 
  • As it happens, this means that the first 2 criticals almost inevitably destroy its armour (meaning it's still unprotected even once it escapes the jade labyrinth).
14 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

But not enough to actually get through the supernatural defenses.

  • Remember its armour is basically irrelevant as long as the Jade Labyrinth is in place
    • The damage from the ritual ignores resistance (it counts as sacred and it's a Shadowlands creature)
    • Any damage from weapons also gains sacred.
14 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

And EVERYONE will be talking about the 5.5 shaku tall Togashi leap-kicking the 25 shaku Oni in the arm...

  • I think our 'eh?' moment was the highly trained Shinobi Assassin missing the Oni with a bow-shot at range 3.
  • That's a thirty-foot tall target, with the immobilized condition, from about 5-10 metres away. 'Broad-side of a barn' doesn't begin to cover it....
Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Group 2: with the 24 XP kicker

GD: Doji Ryōsuke, Yojimbo of Kitsuki, Brother in law of Kitsuki as well
EO: Hida Takeshi, Yojimbo of Isawa
SB: Kitsuki Hitoshi, Yoriki & magistrate in training
DH: Isawa Tenshi, Tensai in the making, Yoriki
SA: Asahina Hiroki, Courtier, Yoriki - interrogator

They start last night at having just dueled Keinosuke.

They take half an hour to make informed decision (since he's confessed to being there, even tho' he won the duel - his strike resulted in becoming stressed out He unmasked by confession). They immediately take him aside for his testimony - he's innocent, but an eyewitness.

They then are taken to meet Hida Tomonatsu. 

EO came away without realizing it was "interrogate and report" not "Go forth and assist them"...

I had a bit of a mental breakdown because (1) meds wore off (2) GD had missed my pointing out PC's other than the crab should not be running around with fingers of jade; any jade they have should be in other objects. Why, because simple fingers of jade are neither artistic, not needed outside the shadowlands by any but the tainted.

Doji, in private, begs Kitsuki not to go see the Yasuki... but, alas, duty calls. (20 minute in-character scene)

Asahina, Isawa, and Hida head out to find Hiruma-sama, while Kitsuki and . They spot the goblins, and hida theorizes the likely place for Hiruma-sama to be.

I start them at 40 yards, using a "2 yard per line" 1D grid. This means move R1 is 1 space, R2 is 2, R3 is 3-5, R4 is 6-20, R5 is 21-60...

1st round initiative:

Isawa 8 F
Hida 7 F
Asahina 7 F
6 goblins 4 W

  1. round
    • Isawa puts biting steel onto a tetsubo. steps back to line -1. Hida's Tetsubo now D11 Sev4 until after Isawa's turn 4.
    • Hida charges, gets 3 range bands, so moves to line 10. Ups his initiative to 8.
    • Asahina fails to guard Isawa.
    • Goblins charge Hida. Get range three, so move from line 20 to line 10
  2. round
    • Hida 8 E
      Isawa 8 A
      Asahina 7F
      Goblins 7F
    • Hida strikes a goblin, it's one point from out.
    • Isawa steps forward (to line 0) raises a tempest, spending a void point to gain +1rK1 All the goblins fail their saves, vs disorient, but all reduce the 8 for over-resilience severity to 6. His strife is at 13/10
    • Asahina does nothing.
  3. round
    • Initiative, same, except goblins in water to be able to flee
    • Hida walks off to find Hiruma-sama
    • Isawa goes to heal himself with Path to inner peace, but his roll is strife-heavy. He snaps at Asahina to go do something - finish them off.
      Isawa then recovers 3 wounds, and all the strife he just added from the roll.† He also spots Whiskers-san
    • Asaina goes forward and kills one.
    • Whiskers-san pokes out, and asks, "Hida-san, why you no kill?" in his squeaky voice.
    • 10 minutes lost explaining the relationship of Nezumi and the crab
  4. round (and post round denoument)
    • No initiative changes.
    • Hida, guilted by Asahina, goes smashing a goblin. His fury hits, he enrages, and promptly kills 3 more, with his disadvantage triggered for 3 strife each... he's back to 9/10 ... and thus, still ready to explode again.
    • Isawa stares at the ratman's head in disbelief
    • Asahina kills another

† The new strife rules don't grant the immunity to strife for the rest of the scene - which makes it more amusing. I still think, however, a forced unmasking is needed. But I've changed my mind on the point I think it needed: put it at Composure +10 for match to the unconsciousness threshold.

4 hours of play by voice.

The XP rate has this group already filling out Rank 2. Thankfully, there's a downtime requirement to make rank 3.

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18 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Initiative, same, except goblins in water to be able to flee

Minions don't get the benefit of stances - so Water Stance goblins move no faster than any other stance.

18 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Hida, guilted by Asahina, goes smashing a goblin. His fury hits, he enrages, and promptly kills 3 more, with his disadvantage triggered for 3 strife each... he's back to 9/10 ... and thus, still ready to explode again.

Not sure where the extra attacks are coming from (unless this is the 'post round denoument')

 

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The goblins were all disoriented and incapacitated, so had to flee at speed 1...

Tempest of air devastates goblins right quick. He did 6 damage & disoriented them all, thanks to a void point, while still missing the Hida.

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Last night to this morning's session, with group 2

GD: Doji Ryōsuke, Yojimbo of Kitsuki, Brother in law of Kitsuki as well
EO: Hida Takeshi, Yojimbo of Isawa
SB: Kitsuki Hitoshi, Yoriki & magistrate in training
DH: Isawa Tenshi, Tensai in the making, Yoriki
SA: Asahina Hiroki, Courtier, Yoriki - interrogator

Entering as this week, despite sunday play, because we ran over to monday. :P

Spoiler for published
Doji and Kitsuki meet with Yasuki. As the juniormost present, Doji insists on leading the tea ceremony. And quickly convinces Yasuki-sama of this.

Yasuki admits the low amount of jade.

They then check the books, and note the pathological level of double-entry bookkeeping. Kitsuki, however, notes an absence... last week's shipment of expendables did not arrive. Which should be shorting on jade, arrows, oil, jade petal tea...

They go search the warehouse. And find that while there are arrows, there are not enough to last a battle round, as all that are present are specialty heads - fowling blunts, rope cutters, and whistlers.

Yasuki asks, and convinces, Doji to paint the situation to Hida Tomonatsu as not his fault; he did send a letter demanding the goods be found and sent.

Over to the others, and back in time two hours. They talk with Hiruma-sensei. He's not happy with being revealed to any who watch by Hida, but keeps his snark there limited.  When they demand his report for Tomonatsu, he makes a quick and terse (but accurate) report. Isawa mentions the Nezumi... and gets an earful about "They're immune to the taint, and to Maho... unlike the Isawa family. (a dig at the history of the Tensai school).

Hida, in order to live up to duty, sacrifices filial piety, and reminds, "No Rokugani family is immune to the taint, and we crab are faced with it far more often, Sama." This costs him a chunk of honor, and a social disad with Tower 3... but is definitely a case where Hiruma realizes he's been chastized by a Social inferior in a public manner.

Asahina asks for more on the nezumi from Hiruma. He gets it.
 
"Please ask Tomonatsu-dono to hold them until the oni have passed their warren." Hiruma then presses the importance of not revealing the Nezumi to Rokugan - "The other clans would not believe that they are not oni, and they are vital to our work." And gets a huge pile of success and advantage, and Asahina agreed his TN would be Vigilance -1, as a secret is best valued when best kept. The three acquire an anxiety about revealing the Nezumi.

They go to meet the head shugenja, Kuni Teremi. She insists upon the cleansing ritual, and Isawa immediately offers to help. They jointly succeed, and prove none of them are tainted.

Isawa agrees with her judgement on the Jade Labyrinth... and promptly sets to learning it and copying the scroll. He's out of action.

The others head out.

They have yet to meet the Hida on the field...

Because of the slow play, I'm reducing experience to 1+Hours... but awarding bonuses for good play.

I'll note I've got two or three players on the Autism Spectrum, and they have trouble finding the right path; I have to lay out some choices with the basis of Bushidō.

The hardest to grasp is that Truth is not valued, only Truth that is Essential to Duty is valued. Politeness ranks higher.

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Dramatis Personae
GD: Doji Ryōsuke, Yojimbo of Kitsuki, Brother in law of Kitsuki as well
EO: Hida Takeshi, Yojimbo of Isawa
SB: Kitsuki Hitoshi, Yoriki & magistrate in training
DH: Isawa Tenshi, Tensai in the making, Yoriki
SA: Asahina Hiroki, Courtier, Yoriki - interrogator

They start the battle commanding cohorts. Asahina, in Water stance, adds a river during assessment
Note that the assessment table is missing for Mass Battle.
We opt to use movement of 3 squares movement on an 8x8 map.
Hida commands Hiruma scouts, starting in the gate
Doji Commands a unit of Hida. Starting in the field center. He's mistaken by the horde for the general in charge.
Asahina is in front of the wall, as he loses benefit of a fortified position...
Kitsuki has a unit of Hida Bushi right behind Hida's Hiruma 
Isawa is out of action; DH played Keinosuke, who started with Hida just outside the gate.

The river is east.

With chess-board movement, the play is almost acceptable. 
And it worked rather well, except that the provisions for elimination of a cohort are vague at best.
Both sides started with panic. 

Start of the battle, Kitsuki drops the panic for their side to zero. Inspiring speech, he gave, and got a stupidly high roll.
Doji went forward,struck tooth-taker's unit... 
 and got challenged by Moto.
Asahina goes to meet the enemy, can't get to them, so creates a forward position to be held.
Essentially, two brawls. 
again, the party drove the badguys hard.  Ending panic, PC's 10, Monsters 42; ending Attrition, PC's 8, Monsters 51, including results of thee duels.
I hate the mass battle a little less when using it gridded. But I dislike that all damage is to the Army overall; I'd rather see cohort by cohort damage.

A couple levels of tactics and command made Hida Takeshi highly effective. Too effective.

The "one-round" clashes, without assessment, are still annoyingly slow (even accounting for the majority of this group being prone to analysis paralysis).

Still, it provided a compelling narrative. 

 

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saturday's games since finishing:

G?: Matsu Y. (Akodo Commander)
TH: Togashi Akane (Ise Zumi Tattooed Monk)
MD: Hida Eiko (Hida Defender)
RB: Isawa Akio (Isawa Shugenja)

Last Week.

They have fast forwarded several months.

Seppun is in Tower 3, and looking for another samurai. Hida, while still a cadet, saw Togashi's Outburst where she shucked the burning armor and fought naked.

She accepts.

A couple months after that, the others arrive at Hida's estate south of Otosan Uichi.

Later, Seppun-sama arrives, with Hida in tow. They meet in his garden, where he invests them all with Jitte, as signs of their authority.

I've cobbled stats for them thus:
Jitte Range 0-1, Damage 3, Crit 3, Ceremonial, 2 opp disarm sword.

They are sent to "Fish Leap to Their Death Village" - a village with a series of waterfalls cascading to the sea, and salmon running up them in fall, and down them in spring. And they are sent to investigate signs of Mahō. Isawa tries to contact the spirits, but they don't know about that far away.

Since it's spring, they aren't catching anything. As they approach, they estimate the village at 50-ish people. Isawa talks to the spirits, and finds that there's a kansen in the river.

They then go into the village. The headman is polite and deferential... but when Isawa breaks out the divination bowl, all the peasants hide in their huts. They prepare to fight the monster... and then, it starts to talk. They talk back... they distract it with a game of shogi while Isawa sets to attempting to prepare a ritual against it. Hida holds it with an excellent show of her skills.

It realizes what's up, and the fight is on.
It loses, but merely drops back into the water.

It recovers quickly, while the party sets a Jade Labyrinth up. And they wait for it within. It fails to immobilize it, but does hurt it, and in short order, they're beating it into submission, and get the final blows in before it can discorporate back.

Now, the question is, "Who wrote the invocation bringing it here?"

 

Saturday, this week

They begin to look for locals to interrogate.
They start by looking for the headman... but Yoshinori is not home. His son Yoshi, his son, is home, is defensive, and overreacts to Isawa. And gets way out of appropriate

They do notice the lack of a central hall, a central shrine, and the traditional Taiko.

After much discussion, Isawa and Matsu search the house - the firepit is an escape route; beds for 8, but only Yoshi home.. Yoshi agrees to go get his family... but dives into the river... and vanishes.

Isawa is shocked that there are shugenja amongst the peasants... usually a sign of Mahō, but not always. 

Hida grabs Yoshi to check for cutting scars... but instead finds a tatoo and an uncomfortable amount of hold on Yoshi. The Tatoo is of a mother in childbirth. 

Togashi dives for the urn spotted last time... it also shows a mother in childbirth - from 4 views. And it is bordered with the kanji and symbols for Void and Water.

He continues his investigation, looking for someone else. He finds one of the doshin.the doshin is much more cooperative... 

Togashi and Hida go looking for the others... and find Yoshi and family a kilometer away.
Togashi heads back, while Matsu stays with the kids.

They talk with him, and his brother Ryōsuke agrees to meet them back in the village. But he gets back before them...

When they get back, Hida is examining a tatoo on the Doshin... and it matches the others. Togashi finds out, and attacks Ryousuke. Who Turns out to be a dark shugenja... As do the Doshin and Yoshi.

A brawl soon ensues, where they become eyewitnesses. Ryōsuke is dead, Yoshi has escaped, and the doshin is captive. And Isawa promises a cleansing, also having already torched Yoshinori's familial house.

 

(The above also posted on RPGGeek, with minor format alterations.)

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12 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Later, Seppun-sama arrives, with Hida in tow. They meet in his garden, where he invests them all with Jitte, as signs of their authority.

I've cobbled stats for them thus:
Jitte Range 0-1, Damage 3, Crit 3, Ceremonial, 2 opp disarm sword.

I'm not sure if you missed the entry for this in the book: Jitte Range 0, Damage 1, Crit 2, Concealable, Snaring.

It looks like they're trying to handle that disarm with the snaring tag. Ceremonial is an appropriate addition for this model. You may be saying that the book stats are too weak.

If we're suggesting changes to the weapon stats, I'd like to lobby for better yari, and worse otsuchi. Yari were excellent war weapons, but in game, they're worse than a staff. Meanwhile, you have to have RP reasons (or be a crit fishing Kakita duelist) to use a weapon other than the otsuchi where that would be acceptable. Also, the bokken is just a bad club. Miyamoto Musashi fans should just wield clubs and describe them as bokken.

Edited by ubik2

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15 minutes ago, ubik2 said:

I'm not sure if you missed the entry for this in the book: Jitte Range 0, Damage 1, Crit 2, Concealable, Snaring.

It looks like they're trying to handle that disarm with the snaring tag. Ceremonial is an appropriate addition for this model. You may be saying that the book stats are too weak.

If we're suggesting changes to the weapon stats, I'd like to lobby for better yari, and worse otsuchi. Yari were excellent war weapons, but in game, they're worse than a staff. Meanwhile, you have to have RP reasons (or be a crit fishing Kakita duelist) to use a weapon other than the otsuchi where that would be acceptable. Also, the bokken is just a bad club. Miyamoto Musashi fans should just wield clubs and describe them as bokken.

I missed it. but agree with you assessments. And a jitte should be range 0-1 just like a wakizashi, as they are usually about the same size,

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Saturday group gained new player. Limited experience. Grasped the task system pretty quick. Char gen took about 1/2 hour; Shinjo Outrider.

Liked Char Gen, liked the honor system.

Tonight's mystery: A manor is overdue with the harvest. They find two alive - the wife of the Daimyō, and a servant girl. They find the Daimyō as a ghost. They eventually find the Daimyō's semi-mummified corpse, en deshabile with the corpse of the Karo. They also find evidence that the Lady was also into the Karo.... the serving girl id'd an outfit, which they found in the Karo's room.

They also found that the missing taxes went north, not south to Otosan Uichi (where it was due).

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Sunday Group:
GD: Doji Ryōsuke, Yojimbo of Kitsuki, Brother in law of Kitsuki as well
EO: Hida Takeshi, Yojimbo of Isawa
SB: Kitsuki Hitoshi, Yoriki & magistrate in training
DH: Isawa Tenshi, Tensai in the making, Yoriki, 
DH: Moshibaru Keinosuke (compensation prize for Isawa being OOP much of the session)
SA: Asahina Hiroki, Courtier, Yoriki - interrogator

Major NPC's involved: 
Moto Morikazu, Dark Moto.

We start session with Morikazu vs Ryōsuke, part 3... (two clashes last session, proper duel this one.) It goes three rounds... of missing each other, because they're both blinded - Morikazu from an eye hit; Ryōsuke, because he won't take the unfair advantage.
And, of course, Morikazu inflicts enough strife via Fire spends 2:1 from Air to get the free whack... resulting in a miss... and then Ryūsuke surrenders. Moto takes a moment to raise his blade, and stops it short of hitting Doji's neck, saying, "I let you live with this dishonor: I stopped my blade because you're unworthy of death."

Meanwhile, 2 groups of skeletons approach the rest of party (except isawa, but including Keinosuke). Noting that the rules change...
3 rounds come and go, and the fight is going nowhere. Skellies in Air stance, PC's having a bloody hard time hitting them. Still, they are making progress, and whatever Asahina crits next is going to regret it... he's stacked up a mighty +4 "this combat" 

Doji comes to join, and Isawa is casting the new ritual.

His assistants run to finish off the now unconscious skeletons... Isawa briefly considers using the sacred tea set he has as a weapon, but thinks better of it....
And we cliffhanger on the arrival of an Oni...

Note:

Given the "Can't take crits from non-sacred weapons," I really appreciate the current changes to incapacitated. Noting that minions in L5R5b DO take crits, and with the stance benefits, can be bloody hard to run out,  we now have a good reason for Tetsubo... that 8 damage really matters.  Run them out, for the Incapacitated, then, before they can calming breath back to function, hit them again for the automatic KO. 

Never thought I'd see players literally shiver at the thought of having to temp-stop unkillable minions... And the tetsubo is the right weapon for that job.

Skeletal Bushi are underrated, I think, thanks to the changes.

Oh, and 3 unmaskings, including Doji, and he almost hit a second one.

Edited by AK_Aramis

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Sunday group finished Ronin's Path...

Kazanaga arrives in a labyrinth spot... (I randomized.) He is in Fire, so 4s 6r k6... breaks it. Shoots the Isawa. Isawa is instantly incapacitated.

Since one of them was looking for his to-be-inherited blade...  Doji... and Kazenaga had it. 

Asahina and Moshibaru are attacking it. Kitsuki runs, then drops 4 opportunity which I let him use to perform first aid on Isawa. Isawa spends a couple rounds in water to recover.

Kazenaga had an outburst and dissed Doji. "Doji Ryūsuke, you son of a scorpion, I have your grandfather's shosuro blade!"

Doji climbed Kazenaga to grab the blade (Fitness test), taking damage from the climb (treating the oni as dangerous terrain), both incapacitating him and then deciding to fall rather than be hit... and the fall knocks him out and a small hairline fracture in the leg (crit to the leg). But he has his Shosuro blade.

Kitsuki hits the oni... and the oni hits moshibaru,

Hida forces the oni back (He spent 4 opp to move the oni while succeeding on Lord Hida's Grip.) this puts him into another of Isawa's rings. Kitsuki revives Doji

Isawa channels for the big Fury of Osano Wo. Does 33 spiritual to Kazenaga... after soak. Kazenaga is unconscious. Since I don't want them perseverating over the corpse, and most such oni are unstable, I have it fade.

 

Afterwards, Doji unwraps the handle... "presented upon the birth of Shosuro Yoshitaka" (Doji's father's personal name is Yoshitaka); on the reverse, a noted Shosuro bladesmith's mark from about 40 years ago. Then,   Kitsuki has an outburst - and decks his yojimbo/brother-in-law, doji, ranting about irresponsible risk taking. Doji drops.  And rips his kimono.

Secretly, Hida Takeshi breaks out his sewing kit, and repairs Doji's kimono. Not a great repair, but no one saw him. (1 point of honor for courtesy).

Doji wakes up the next day in a crab's juban and fundoshi. A

Rules Question raised: Maintaining Lord Hida's Grip: new roll every turn, or just spend your action to maintain it?

 

Edited by AK_Aramis

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22 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Rules Question raised: Maintaining Lord Hida's Grip: new roll every turn, or just spend your action to maintain it?

I would say new roll every turn:

  • Narratively, you're grappling someone/something that doesn't want to be grappled. You should be required to risk it breaking free on a regular basis.
  • Mechanically, the effects are to apply Immobilized and (if you get enough opportunity) Prone. Both conditions expire at the end of the turn, and if you're not repeating the check, you have no justification to re-apply them.

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20 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

Target was immobilized anyway by failing the roll to get out of the zone of Jady Labyrinth.

Fair enough. But the point still stands that if the invocation effect wasn't there; you'd need to re-grapple him every turn because immobilized and prone only last a turn without being refreshed.

Not to mention that you're potentially assisting multiple allies, not just one (which you could do with a check-free assist action). Getting that without requiring a check on your part to keep it 'live' seems a bit too good.

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