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Agasha_Kazusinge

I Feel Like There Might be too Many Families For New Players

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I'm an old hand at L5R and even I have a hard time wading through all the families. Are we worried at all that new people are going to see a text wall of Hirumas and Kakitas and Kitsukes and Kitsu and Shibas and Soshis and Shinjos and just turn off?

I get the Clans. There's seven of them. Geographically they're distinct and they're based on animals that have a strong tie with the theme of the clan. That feels like a nice number, enough for variety so you don't feel like after making a character or two you've burned through your options but not so many that you get intimidated.

Schools likewise are pretty manageable. Two for each clan. They're distinct. They focus on different things. That works.

There are 29 different families.

That's a lot.

To make things somewhat worse, a lot of the names of the families are confusingly similar. That and there's no real conceptual framework that ties a particular fantasy Japanese name to the theme of that family. It's a lot.

I wonder if it wouldn't be better to take the main Kami-run family for each clan and maybe the second most powerful and stat those up--then just have a nice satisfyingly ample mechanic for creating your own minor families. That way folks who have a family from the old lore or the fiction and want to represent them in their game can pretty easily build them, but folks who are new to the game don't get scared off.

Edited by Agasha_Kazusinge

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That’s why chargen starts with picking a clan. Choose your clan, and about 90% of the families are irrelevant until you run into them in a game. At that point it’s not hard to check you have the right one in mind if you’re not sure, and once there’s an NPC or other PC to make it all a bit more concrete it gets easier to remember what they are about too.

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7 minutes ago, Agasha_Kazusinge said:

I wonder if it wouldn't be better to take the main Kami-run family for each clan and maybe the second most powerful and stat those up--then just have a nice satisfyingly ample mechanic for creating your own minor families. That way folks who have a family from the old lore or the fiction and want to represent them in their game can pretty easily build them, but folks who are new to the game don't get scared off.

Thing is, if you don't want to 'wall of ink and white space' new people to the setting, then just skipping question 2 (family) works fine. Just automatically assume that anyone selecting a crab clan character is a Hida unless they want to be otherwise, and mash together the clan and family skill/stat packages.

I'd personally keep the families, because it's not adding too many choices - in that, having picked a clan, you're only then chosing from 3-4 families within that clan, not 29.

It's definitely worth focusing on clan, not family, for NPC interactions until people are happy with the families, though.

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I have two players new to Rokugan in my game and neither of them had a real problem with the families. Since chargen starts you off picking a clan, the total amount of families they had to read through was 3-5, not 29. Plus I talked a lot to them about each clan's archetypes and role in Rokugan. One of them went with a Togashi Tattooed Monk, and the other opted for an Ide with the Shinjo Outrider school (although he certainly would have picked Ide Emissary if it had been available).

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I don't think it will be an issue - because its already channeled through Clans.  A player doesn't need to know anything more than what they are using, so they only need to know 1 clan, 1 family, and 1 school.  After they read 7 clans, they'll pick one of them.  Then they'll read over 3-5 families and pick one again.  Then a few schools, and done.

Hopefully there will be more than 2 schools per clan in the full book...  I'm hoping every clan will have a bushi, shugenja, and at least 2 variant schools in the core book before any supplementals.

The only change I've heard that sounds good is to go over schools first.  Every clan should have a bushi and shugenja school, but if someone wants to be a cavalry character, bard, alchemist, tattooed monk, general, berzerker ect they might want to know what clans contain these options up front even though the Clan descriptors give some of this guidance.  I still like the order given, but maybe a sidebar that goes over a specialty school of each clan would be helpful.  

Edited by shosuko

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As @shosuko and others have mentioned, there's definitely a funnel going on. But to @Agasha_Kazusinge, there's so much going on that it could easily overwhelm new players.

When my group picked up L5R, none of us had ever played it before. So we picked one clan that the PCs would be from (DRAGON!!!), and slowly expanded the scope of the campaign to include other clans, adding NPCs from other clans and families.

Point is, you can funnel at character creation, and you can funnel in-game. If diving in is a little too daunting, you can reveal the setting bit by bit. 

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1 hour ago, shosuko said:

I don't think it will be an issue - because its already channeled through Clans.  A player doesn't need to know anything more than what they are using, so they only need to know 1 clan, 1 family, and 1 school.  After they read 7 clans, they'll pick one of them.  Then they'll read over 3-5 families and pick one again.  Then a few schools, and done.

Hopefully there will be more than 2 schools per clan in the full book...  I'm hoping every clan will have a bushi, shugenja, and at least 2 variant schools in the core book before any supplementals.

The only change I've heard that sounds good is to go over schools first.  Every clan should have a bushi and shugenja school, but if someone wants to be a cavalry character, bard, alchemist, tattooed monk, general, berzerker ect they might want to know what clans contain these options up front even though the Clan descriptors give some of this guidance.  I still like the order given, but maybe a sidebar that goes over a specialty school of each clan would be helpful.  

The lack of Courtier schools being mentioned in this post is disturbing and saddening.

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1 minute ago, nameless ronin said:

The lack of Courtier schools being mentioned in this post is disturbing and saddening.

Do you think Bushi, Shugenja, and Courtier are important to every clan?  I'm not saying they're not, just wandering if you feel strongly that all 3 should exist in all clans, and then an additional 1-2 variants?

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3 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Do you think Bushi, Shugenja, and Courtier are important to every clan?  I'm not saying they're not, just wandering if you feel strongly that all 3 should exist in all clans, and then an additional 1-2 variants?

I cannot speak for the nameless ronin, but I certainly do believe so. Every Clan needs Courtiers or the Winter Courts would see them wiped off the face of Rokugan in no time (not saying it would be instant, or automatic, but Winter Courts are huge, and if you have no Courtiers then... you basically don't participate (as a bit of an oversimplification, mind you)). Courtiers are a strong, solid leg of Rokugani culture, and so yeah. I'd say they deserve their space in each Clan's set of schools.

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What you are asking is pretty much what is called as a "Dumb down". I'm just against it and actually find the suggestion  out of place. If those families arent there, L5R RPG would have already been declared dead while in FFG hands and people would consider it worst than the D20 times. Only having two schools is acceptable because this is a Beta, we expect more on the full game. (Of course some wont make the cut, they will appear eventually on other material, but Asahina and Daidoji schools will appear at the Crane, Mirumoto at the Dragon, Matsu and Kitsu on Lion and the list keeps going forward. is the bare minimum i expect. One standard that i hope others also expect from FFG .

In any case. I was someone starting on L5R once and had no problems, if anything else, i actually liked the game because of the setting and how unfamiliar to me it was. Learning about a new world should be fun, not something boring, specially on the L5R setting.

And if its too much to someone, they will just ignore it and read whatever they like (or think they like). To use myself as an example again. I read all the clans, all the families, ignored non bushi schools (well i had already decided i would play bushi, why bother?) and i would only read the Magic ¨& Spells chapter of the fourth edition, actually much later

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25 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Do you think Bushi, Shugenja, and Courtier are important to every clan?  I'm not saying they're not, just wandering if you feel strongly that all 3 should exist in all clans, and then an additional 1-2 variants?

Yup. More than 1-2 variants too, although that can lead to unnecessary bloat, but the Clans need all three main types. if anything, they need Courtiers more than the other two.

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29 minutes ago, TyrHawk said:

I cannot speak for the nameless ronin, but I certainly do believe so. Every Clan needs Courtiers or the Winter Courts would see them wiped off the face of Rokugan in no time (not saying it would be instant, or automatic, but Winter Courts are huge, and if you have no Courtiers then... you basically don't participate (as a bit of an oversimplification, mind you)). Courtiers are a strong, solid leg of Rokugani culture, and so yeah. I'd say they deserve their space in each Clan's set of schools.

So would you prefer Kitsuke Investigators and Yasuki Merchants were tooled to be courtiers?  Or would you like to see FFG innovate some new concepts to give them actual, bonafide courtiers?  Do the Phoenix even have something we would consider a Courtier variant?

I figured any character that wants to be a courtier can be a courtier, whether they are a shugenja, bushi, or anything else.  I figured it was just that Crane and Scorpion specifically developed courtier schools where the others just sent their well spoken and politically inclined members to court.

If we actually want Courtier schools across the board, I think it might demand some new developments in the clans to suit this.

7 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Yup. More than 1-2 variants too, although that can lead to unnecessary bloat, but the Clans need all three main types. if anything, they need Courtiers more than the other two.

1-2 variants in the core set.  I imagine supplements would add more classes like the old Way of books did, maybe that isn't FFG's model though. 

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8 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Any character that wants to be a bushi can be a bushi too. That’s just serving in a martial capacity. 

Exactly - schools are more than bushi / shugenja / courtier.  Do all clans need actual courtier schools?

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8 hours ago, Agasha_Kazusinge said:

I get the Clans. There's seven of them. Geographically they're distinct and they're based on animals that have a strong tie with the theme of the clan. That feels like a nice number, enough for variety so you don't feel like after making a character or two you've burned through your options but not so many that you get intimidated.

Schools likewise are pretty manageable. Two for each clan. They're distinct. They focus on different things. That works.

There are 29 different families.

That's a lot.

Not really.

1E had 3 families for each of 7 clans, and 3 schools per clan.

FFG have said that the Beta is a subset of what will be in the final. We can expect 3, maybe 4, schools per clan. Probably 1 per family.

Each school need take only half a page, if even that (I was able to get everything onto a 1/4 page for almost all schools, except the Togashi and one other, including advancement)

 

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9 minutes ago, shosuko said:

So would you prefer Kitsuke Investigators and Yasuki Merchants were tooled to be courtiers?  Or would you like to see FFG innovate some new concepts to give them actual, bonafide courtiers?  Do the Phoenix even have something we would consider a Courtier variant?

I figured any character that wants to be a courtier can be a courtier, whether they are a shugenja, bushi, or anything else.  I figured it was just that Crane and Scorpion specifically developed courtier schools where the others just sent their well spoken and politically inclined members to court.

If we actually want Courtier schools across the board, I think it might demand some new developments in the clans to suit this.

1-2 variants in the core set.  I imagine supplements would add more classes like the old Way of books did, maybe that isn't FFG's model though. 

Kitsuki does have the courtier tags. So are the Yasuki Merchants in 4th ed. On the 4th ed the Asako are the courtiers from the Phoenix.

I think that the Crane and Scorpion are the primordial type of courtier that you think on, that is based on dealing with other people or manipulating then. Others schools would do their task in different way (or at least would have techniques to do stuff in different ways.) I mean Kitsuki investigator would be able to actually investigate something (a concept that is anti-Rokugani). An Asako would be focused on knowledge and they could use it in court to give power to their own argument.

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4 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Exactly - schools are more than bushi / shugenja / courtier.  Do all clans need actual courtier schools?

My point is that by that token, we can just as easily ask if all clans need actual bushi schools. I think skilled courtiers are as important as bushi for the clans, in fact arguably more so. It only makes sense that they’d invest in training their most suited samurai for the task.

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30 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

My point is that by that token, we can just as easily ask if all clans need actual bushi schools. I think skilled courtiers are as important as bushi for the clans, in fact arguably more so. It only makes sense that they’d invest in training their most suited samurai for the task.

Anyone can be a fighter, they only need to fight.  Any strong and agile person can fight - but that is different than going to a school to learn fighting techniques.  Which is more of the question here.  Do they actually need a school for courtiers?  or are they just going to have non-courtier schooled characters fill that role. \/

34 minutes ago, Mobiusllls said:

Kitsuki does have the courtier tags. So are the Yasuki Merchants in 4th ed. On the 4th ed the Asako are the courtiers from the Phoenix.

I think that the Crane and Scorpion are the primordial type of courtier that you think on, that is based on dealing with other people or manipulating then. Others schools would do their task in different way (or at least would have techniques to do stuff in different ways.) I mean Kitsuki investigator would be able to actually investigate something (a concept that is anti-Rokugani). An Asako would be focused on knowledge and they could use it in court to give power to their own argument.

/\ as I was saying above - is a Kitsuke Investigator really a Courtier?  Are we content to just add the courtier tag and call it a day?  Unless the Investigator school actually teaches being a courtier I don't see this really filling that role myself...  Not the way the Doji or Bayushi courtier schools do.

Anyone can be a courtier if they are smart, quick witted, and politically inclined.  Does that mean they went to a courtier school?

I guess my point is - do we want to see real courtier schools from all the clans?  Or do we want to see variants that can double as courtiers, and led themselves to the political scene?

Edited by shosuko

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4 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Anyone can be a fighter, they only need to fight.  Any strong and agile person can fight - but that is different than going to a school to learn fighting techniques.  Which is more of the question here.  Do they actually need a school for courtiers?  or are they just going to have non-courtier schooled characters fill that role.

Anyone can employ ashigaru to fight for them as well (and every great clan does). Do they need people going to school to learn to fight?

Speaking up in court is one thing. But that is different from going to a school to learn debating techniques, effectively pleading a case, or negotiating an advantageous agreement. This is also something that can’t be outsourced effectively: finding the right person to perform such a task for you and ensuring they do a good job arguably requires possessing that type of skills in the first place.

Characters without relevant training will get eaten alive in court when they go up against schooled courtiers. Not having good courtiers of your own means getting the short straw in every matter of politics, trade and bureaucracy. No clan can survive that way, let alone prosper. They’d be at the mercy of the few clans that’d rule the courts in all but name.

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I think there may be some... if not confusion then some disagreement on the term "Courtier" here. Perhaps even just some conflicting definitions. So, before we go any further, just a quick rundown on what I would say we're talking about (since everyone else covered the other points I would've made already). Please note these are my personal definitions and understandings of these categories, and I would welcome alternate definitions.

Bushi - A warrior. Someone trained to solve problems that arise in a martial fashion. A bushi is the body of the Empire, and is used to physically overcome its enemies. A bushi might have any number of other interests, and may be good at any number of things, but a bushi school is inherently dedicated to being this body, this physical aspect. Their power comes from their arms, their legs, their weapons, their armor, and so their techniques focus on the use of these facets to maximize their efficiency.

Shugenja - A mystic. Someone trained to solve problems that arise in a magical fashion. A shugenja is the soul of the Empire, and is used to spiritually overcome its enemies. A Shugenja might do this in combat, in social circles, or in matters pertaining to neither, but they connect the world we know and the world that is through the kami. Their power comes from the kami, and so that is what their schools focus on in order to make their techniques viable.

Courtier - A diplomat. Someone trained to solve problems that arise in a social fashion. A courtier is the mind of the Empire, and is used to mentally overcome its enemies. A Courtier may be trained to fight when needed, or know how to brew tea, but their main purpose is to combat with rhetoric in the same way that a bushi might combat with a sword. Their power comes from their ability to speak, to think, and to maneuver situations where steel and spirits might not satisfy the needs of the conflict. Their schools, therefore, must teach them how to use their mind (whether through charm, intimidation, knowledge, emotional appeal, or whathave you).

If it seems that this is somewhat arbitrary, I will admit that it is (but so are many social constructs). If it seems like they might overlap, it's because they can and do (but that doesn't mean they aren't distinct, as Venn Diagrams will prove). If it seems like the Kitsuki aren't filling a Courtier's role, then I would ask for a different definition of Courtier to go off of, because under the one I proposed it seems to work fine. The extent to which any school strictly fills this general idea is up to that school, as Kakita certainly have an artistic/aesthetic bend to their martial school, but would anyone not call them Bushi? Is the focus on scientific applications any reason not to consider the Tamori shugenja? Again, I would say no. We can sort everyone into specific, unique categories that get as minute as we need, or we can have general options as detailed above.

There are, of course, other classes which might seem to fit into my definitions here, but which we would naturally consider separate. Monks, for example, might fall under one of these three categories (or none depending on the specific monk school) when looked at simply, but if they do then that seems okay to me. Perhaps it's time to recognize that not everything needs be black and white, or be shuffled into such distinct categories. Perhaps the general view is okay, or perhaps we need another category or two to define everything we find in Rokugan. Either way, I'd include Courtiers in that list, at least given how I've described them thus far.

Or, failing that, we can always just say "Well, tradition says they're courtiers" and then go with that. The Heavens know that tradition is big in Rokugan.

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9 hours ago, Agasha_Kazusinge said:

There are 29 different families.

That's a lot.

Actually I expect more... Since there will also be the minor clans. Each minor clan comes with one family.

Also I expect 4 schools for each clan (bushi, courtier, shugenja, and whatever) and 1 for each minor clan presented.

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2 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

The lack of Courtier schools being mentioned in this post is disturbing and saddening.

I may be mistaken but I thought it was mentioned that there will be more schools in the printed book but their are only 2 per family for the beta.

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1 minute ago, Darksyde said:

I may be mistaken but I thought it was mentioned that there will be more schools in the printed book but their are only 2 per family for the beta.

Absolutely. But @Shosurosaid he hoped for one bushi school, one shugenja school and two variants, implying he doesn’t hope for courtier schools. I’d be terribly disappointed without more courtier schools myself.

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1 hour ago, TyrHawk said:

Bushi - A warrior. Someone trained to solve problems that arise in a martial fashion. A bushi is the body of the Empire, and is used to physically overcome its enemies. A bushi might have any number of other interests, and may be good at any number of things, but a bushi school is inherently dedicated to being this body, this physical aspect. Their power comes from their arms, their legs, their weapons, their armor, and so their techniques focus on the use of these facets to maximize their efficiency.

A monk, or merchant who can fight could be a bushi, but they weren't trained in a "bushi school."

Quote

Courtier - A diplomat. Someone trained to solve problems that arise in a social fashion. A courtier is the mind of the Empire, and is used to mentally overcome its enemies. A Courtier may be trained to fight when needed, or know how to brew tea, but their main purpose is to combat with rhetoric in the same way that a bushi might combat with a sword. Their power comes from their ability to speak, to think, and to maneuver situations where steel and spirits might not satisfy the needs of the conflict. Their schools, therefore, must teach them how to use their mind (whether through charm, intimidation, knowledge, emotional appeal, or whathave you).

A Shugenja could solve problems that arise in social settings, and deal with intrigue.  They didn't go to a "courtier school."

Quote

If it seems that this is somewhat arbitrary, I will admit that it is (but so are many social constructs).

Kinda my point here - You can tag an investigator as a courtier, but there is a difference between a detective and a politician.  I expect a Courtier school to teach about being a socially involved person.  Being effective in making connections, trading favors, exploiting disadvantages, building alliances, and especially pleading to authority that is based on recognition and respect are important skills that Courtier training gives.  A Kitsuke investigator may play in this realm, but are they trained to do these things?  or are they trained to deal with investigation, logic, and debate based on facts?

You can add the Courtier tag on the Kitsuke Investigator school, but I wouldn't say the Investigators are Courtiers the same as the Crane and Scorpion have.

In my game group right now we have 3 characters.  We have a Doji Courtier, a Daidoji Magistrate, and a Phoenix Shugenja.  They are all in Otosan Uchi and have very distinct appeals to power in the campaign.  I wouldn't say the Magistrate is a Courtier, because the Magistrate deals with the law, crime and punishment.  He doesn't make laws or alliances, he enforces them.  His training is law.  The Shugenja is an affluent socialite.  He is loved by people, and thrives in scenes of intrigue but isn't trained to manipulate people's perceptions any more than another Shugenja.  His training is with magic.  The Courtier is the one who is trained to uncover and exploit disadvantages, exchange favors, and properly plead for new laws or regulations by following the system of the court to get the right people to say the right things.  His training is in running the Court system to his advantage.

My point in making this distinction is that every clan doesn't have a specific Courtier school.  They typically have a variant that can fill in as a courtier if needed, but their training lends to a more specialized task that can go a completely different direction where a courtier is a courtier.

If we want every clan to have a courtier school, then we need an actual courtier school for every clan.  We can't just tag Investigators, Bards, and Merchants with the Courtier tag and call it good.  Doing such is essentially saying we don't need a courtier for every clan, that variants are good enough.

So back to my original question - are variants good enough?  or do we actually want a courtier school for every clan?

Edited by shosuko

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15 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Absolutely. But @Shosurosaid he hoped for one bushi school, one shugenja school and two variants, implying he doesn’t hope for courtier schools. I’d be terribly disappointed without more courtier schools myself.

Ah, gatcha!

I had just assumed their would be one per family for each families 'thing' though I s'pose that might be a bit much. Perhaps there will be 2 in the core book and then they have room to expand on that in the inevitable clan books to follow?

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