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Tashiro

Degree of Fantasy

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For 5e, how do you want your fantasy?

When I got into L5R with 1e, there was a strong mythic element to the setting.  The kami were a solid foundation of the setting, and in the very first adventure in the book, one of the gods themselves shows up to see the PCs in disguise.  As you go through the adventures you encounter mythical creatures, one of the Oracles, oni, undead, and strange creatures from inside and outside of Rokugan.  The game setting itself has a strong mythic feel to it and the samurai themselves progress from 'normal people' to iconic and archetypal heroes after a fashion - the techniques and abilities they use making them less than human.  (If they survive)

In my campaign, the PCs had to face shuten doji - a possessing spirit that could transform entire armies into a hive mind.  A PC dissolved into a pool of shadow when they gave themselves up to the Lying Darkness.  One PC died when Fu Leng ripped out of his torso and was made manifest for the Day of Thunder.  One PC faced herself because of the Egg of Pan'Ku, and another held the bloodsword Passion.  Heck, one married a literal phoenix from the spirit world, giving it a tangible anchor to the physical realm and granted it mortality.

I like my Rokugan with bright colours, and the feeling of myth.  Later editions seemed to kind of grind it down closer to reality.

Where do you want your 5e?

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9 minutes ago, Tashiro said:

For 5e, how do you want your fantasy?

Extremely low. I like L5R best when it's rooted in human emotions and drama. When magic shows up, it ought to be disorienting and upsetting -- literally uncanny. Otherwise I feel like I'm playing East Asian-flavored Dragonlance, which is not my thing.

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47 minutes ago, Doji Meshou said:

Extremely low. I like L5R best when it's rooted in human emotions and drama. When magic shows up, it ought to be disorienting and upsetting -- literally uncanny. Otherwise I feel like I'm playing East Asian-flavored Dragonlance, which is not my thing.

Which is interesting, as a lot of the older Japanese stories are deeply rooted in the mythic, yet still focus on human emotion and drama.  Look at the Kojiki as a good example, or Kwaidan, there's Akura Kurosawa's Dreams as another example.  I mean, the setting has the spirit realms, Jigoku, and shugenja - that in and of itself kind of lends to the idea that the spirit world is there.  And then, of course, if you lean in towards Shinto, on top of everything else, the entire idea is that the spirit world and the physical world are side-by-side - everything is alive and filled with spirit.

That's not Dragonlance - Dragonlance is left in the dust.

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I like the drama to be focused on people and their emotions, not on Shadowlands dungeon crawls. Shugenja are extremely few in number, terrifyingly powerful, but also often prone to instability due to their very nature. Meeting a Shugenja should be if not disturbing, at least memorable.

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Just now, Tashiro said:

Which is interesting, as a lot of the older Japanese stories are deeply rooted in the mythic, yet still focus on human emotion and drama.  Look at the Kojiki as a good example, or Kwaidan, there's Akura Kurosawa's Dreams as another example.  I mean, the setting has the spirit realms, Jigoku, and shugenja - that in and of itself kind of lends to the idea that the spirit world is there.  And then, of course, if you lean in towards Shinto, on top of everything else, the entire idea is that the spirit world and the physical world are side-by-side - everything is alive and filled with spirit.

That's not Dragonlance - Dragonlance is left in the dust.

My point wasn't what historical sources have done well, or what L5R and its setting permit (it's clearly written to support everything from chanbara to a dramatization of The Pillow Book); it's that in my experience, L5R (and most games) that lean heavily into Mythical Action don't have room left for human drama.

Given that, I'd rather have my fantasy as low as possible. :)

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Just started a scene this morning - a warehouse explosion in the middle of Ryoko Owari.  The PCs who got to the scene see an Asahina floating over the building, trying to prevent the flames from spreading by calling rain.  When they got close enough, they saw a person on fire inside the warehouse, seemingly unaware, and now they're trying to chase the person through the city.  They've got enough human drama - trying to negotiate with the Unicorn, hunt a ronin bandit outside the city, and so forth - but this is something they can't negotiate or just hit with swords.  :)  So the question becomes 'how do they fix it'?


For me, L5R is always going to be 1e and 2e in feel - the early days.  4e felt entirely too 'sanitized' for me.

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Îhave to say I really like all the mysthical things in L5r. You can not give me enough freaky chinese ghost stories. I also very much enjoy anything arround guys liek iuchiban and co and while I like a bit of human drama I have enough reality every day I don´t really am intrested in having it in the games I play to get away from it.

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55 minutes ago, Teveshszat said:

Îhave to say I really like all the mysthical things in L5r. You can not give me enough freaky chinese ghost stories. I also very much enjoy anything arround guys liek iuchiban and co and while I like a bit of human drama I have enough reality every day I don´t really am intrested in having it in the games I play to get away from it.

On the one hand this. On the other hand shugenja PCs being nuclear-powered Swiss army knives is a bit annoying at times. 

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I also like my Rokugan as a deeply mystical place ripe with the supernatural. I like to take the world creation myth as the actual reality, with a chance that one can even run into a Kitsu or another member of the Ancient Five Races who can tell what the world looked like before it had taken form, because he/she was there and saw it with his/her own eyes. It really gives a lot of depth to the setting.

I also like my supernatural weird and bizarre, with lots of false expectations tied to the various supernatural creatures. For example, Yuki no Ona, or the Snow Maiden, is a fairly well-known spirit. The common expectation when encountering one is a beautiful young woman in a snowstorm or similar snowy environment. Everyone who hasn't met one will recall this image, and the more knowledgeable blame this false picturing as the primary reason for the many victims. Because the Yuki no Ona is not the woman. It is the snow. In its natural form, the Yuki no Ona is a massive, formless mound of fine white powder, almost unmistakable from snow except that it is not wet and it doesn't melt. It also has a quite freakish ability: it can consume and "assimilate" anything that comes in contact with it (people, objects, anything) and then perfectly replicate the assimilated thing from its own body mass. The spirit makes a habit out of assimilating and replicating things indiscriminately, so if you enter a village where the Yuki no Ona was sighted, chances are high that the whole village is already the Yuki no Ona, from the houses to the villages to that annoying dog that barks at you when you enter the village - they are all one spirit manifested in a series of replicas connected by its body mass (in this case, the snow that seemingly covers the whole village). Just touch the snow on one of the roofs. I dare you :ph34r: !

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31 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

On the one hand this. On the other hand shugenja PCs being nuclear-powered Swiss army knives is a bit annoying at times. 

With 1e and 2e, I often found that bushi could keep pace with shugenja.  In later editions... the bushi got hit by serious nerf.

Also, the GM is the one who chooses what spells shugenja get from their mentors, so... if the PC shugenja are so 'swiss army knife', I'm placing that at the feet of the GM.

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18 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

I also like my Rokugan as a deeply mystical place ripe with the supernatural. I like to take the world creation myth as the actual reality, with a chance that one can even run into a Kitsu or another member of the Ancient Five Races who can tell what the world looked like before it had taken form, because he/she was there and saw it with his/her own eyes. It really gives a lot of depth to the setting.

I also like my supernatural weird and bizarre, with lots of false expectations tied to the various supernatural creatures. For example, Yuki no Ona, or the Snow Maiden, is a fairly well-known spirit. The common expectation when encountering one is a beautiful young woman in a snowstorm or similar snowy environment. Everyone who hasn't met one will recall this image, and the more knowledgeable blame this false picturing as the primary reason for the many victims. Because the Yuki no Ona is not the woman. It is the snow. In its natural form, the Yuki no Ona is a massive, formless mound of fine white powder, almost unmistakable from snow except that it is not wet and it doesn't melt. It also has a quite freakish ability: it can consume and "assimilate" anything that comes in contact with it (people, objects, anything) and then perfectly replicate the assimilated thing from its own body mass. The spirit makes a habit out of assimilating and replicating things indiscriminately, so if you enter a village where the Yuki no Ona was sighted, chances are high that the whole village is already the Yuki no Ona, from the houses to the villages to that annoying dog that barks at you when you enter the village - they are all one spirit manifested in a series of replicas connected by its body mass (in this case, the snow that seemingly covers the whole village). Just touch the snow on one of the roofs. I dare you :ph34r: !

That... is awesome.  Just very awesome.  :)

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6 minutes ago, Tashiro said:

With 1e and 2e, I often found that bushi could keep pace with shugenja.  In later editions... the bushi got hit by serious nerf.

Also, the GM is the one who chooses what spells shugenja get from their mentors, so... if the PC shugenja are so 'swiss army knife', I'm placing that at the feet of the GM.

 Eeeeeehhhhh... The universal spells can be bad enough, and every shugenja knows these. The GM sets boundaries, but still. As for the GM choosing what spells shugenja get, that’s iffy. GMs can certainly set up houserules regarding certain spells, but choosing them for the player is a definite no-no in my book.

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28 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

 Eeeeeehhhhh... The universal spells can be bad enough, and every shugenja knows these. The GM sets boundaries, but still. As for the GM choosing what spells shugenja get, that’s iffy. GMs can certainly set up houserules regarding certain spells, but choosing them for the player is a definite no-no in my book.

Well, the PC is getting the spells from their school, so the school decides - not the PC.  Though the PC can offer suggestions, perhaps.

And yeah, of course the universal spells - but then, you're talking about a world where every single thing has a spirit you can talk to.  That's like, the foundation of Shinto right there.  If you're going for Japanese fantasy, that's **** near to be expected.

(And currently, I've got my PC party facing a guy possessed by a kansen of fire.  Though in my game, kansen aren't evil - they're just the wrathful aspect of a normal fire kami.  I'm going as heavy into Shinto as I can for my game, so nothing spiritual is 'evil'.  But all kami have benevolent and wrathful aspects).

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5 minutes ago, Tashiro said:

Well, the PC is getting the spells from their school, so the school decides - not the PC.  Though the PC can offer suggestions, perhaps.

And yeah, of course the universal spells - but then, you're talking about a world where every single thing has a spirit you can talk to.  That's like, the foundation of Shinto right there.  If you're going for Japanese fantasy, that's **** near to be expected.

(And currently, I've got my PC party facing a guy possessed by a kansen of fire.  Though in my game, kansen aren't evil - they're just the wrathful aspect of a normal fire kami.  I'm going as heavy into Shinto as I can for my game, so nothing spiritual is 'evil'.  But all kami have benevolent and wrathful aspects).

The PC learns the spells from the school he attends, much like he learns skills and possibly kiho. Same for bushi and courtiers, with their skills and kata. I expect the GM doesn’t choose those for the player though. So why treat spells differently?

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1 hour ago, nameless ronin said:

 Eeeeeehhhhh... The universal spells can be bad enough, and every shugenja knows these. The GM sets boundaries, but still. As for the GM choosing what spells shugenja get, that’s iffy. GMs can certainly set up houserules regarding certain spells, but choosing them for the player is a definite no-no in my book.

Not anymore... The Phoenix start with only two of the four rituals... and three of those are the old "universal spells"

 

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1 hour ago, nameless ronin said:

The PC learns the spells from the school he attends, much like he learns skills and possibly kiho. Same for bushi and courtiers, with their skills and kata. I expect the GM doesn’t choose those for the player though. So why treat spells differently?

Because spells are something given out by your masters specifically.  'Here, this is what we think you should know'.  Just like if you've pissed off your sensei, when you go up a school rank, you might find you aren't learning your next rank technique.  Or you can't find a teacher for your next kata, or kiho.

Nothing's guaranteed.

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16 minutes ago, Tashiro said:

Because spells are something given out by your masters specifically.  'Here, this is what we think you should know'.  Just like if you've pissed off your sensei, when you go up a school rank, you might find you aren't learning your next rank technique.  Or you can't find a teacher for your next kata, or kiho.

Nothing's guaranteed.

So you are saying that if a player wants to increase a skill you might tell them their instructors have chosen a different curriculum?

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15 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

So you are saying that if a player wants to increase a skill you might tell them their instructors have chosen a different curriculum?

Skills were something else.  You raised skills by practice and using them, or finding someone who knew the skill - you didn't necessarily have to go to your sensei for those.  But techniques, kiho, kata, spells, those came from your mentors, and thus could be denied if you weren't being an honourable individual or a member in good standing.

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6 minutes ago, Tashiro said:

Skills were something else.  You raised skills by practice and using them, or finding someone who knew the skill - you didn't necessarily have to go to your sensei for those.  But techniques, kiho, kata, spells, those came from your mentors, and thus could be denied if you weren't being an honourable individual or a member in good standing.

If you can look for someone other than your sensei to teach you a skill, you can look for someone else to teach you a spell, kata or other skill as well, no?

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17 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

If you can look for someone other than your sensei to teach you a skill, you can look for someone else to teach you a spell, kata or other skill as well, no?

Spells are tied to scrolls with a specific cipher to your school.  They're closely guarded secrets, so going to find someone else to give you a spell is... questionable.  First and foremost, you'd have to go to a member of your school specifically, and then they'd probably be like 'and why should I let you copy my prayer scroll?  Are you questioning your sensei's decisions?'

And that's pretty much the answer for anything.

You want to learn this kata, kiho, or school technique?  Why?  Are you questioning your sensei?

And here comes the Glory and possibly Honour hit.

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3 minutes ago, Tashiro said:

Spells are tied to scrolls with a specific cipher to your school.  They're closely guarded secrets, so going to find someone else to give you a spell is... questionable.  First and foremost, you'd have to go to a member of your school specifically, and then they'd probably be like 'and why should I let you copy my prayer scroll?  Are you questioning your sensei's decisions?'

And that's pretty much the answer for anything.

You want to learn this kata, kiho, or school technique?  Why?  Are you questioning your sensei?

And here comes the Glory and possibly Honour hit.

I need to study this to be be able to complete the task my lord assigned me. Are you questioning my duty?

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14 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

I need to study this to be be able to complete the task my lord assigned me. Are you questioning my duty?

Ooo, nice answer.

"If your lord assigned you this task, then your lord should be providing you what you need.  If your lord didn't provide it, you don't need it.  Otherwise, ask your lord."

And that's the crux.  :)  I'm quite familiar with how this kind of thing goes.  It would take a lot of Sincerity rolls, Courtier rolls, and possibly bribes (depending on the Honour of the person) to get them to teach you something that your sensei should be teaching you.

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15 hours ago, Tashiro said:

Ooo, nice answer.

"If your lord assigned you this task, then your lord should be providing you what you need.  If your lord didn't provide it, you don't need it.  Otherwise, ask your lord."

And that's the crux.  :)  I'm quite familiar with how this kind of thing goes.  It would take a lot of Sincerity rolls, Courtier rolls, and possibly bribes (depending on the Honour of the person) to get them to teach you something that your sensei should be teaching you.

The problem I have this this sort of philosophy is it takes away too much agency from the players. Sure, the character may not get as much choice in this sort of thing, but there are many similar things that the character has no power to change but the player gets control over. A samurai does not choose their parents, rarely their dojo, do you also pick out their clan and family and school? 

 

I apologize if if I sound standoffish, but I know that I would not like to play in a game where I can have no control over a major portion of my character's development. I can understand giving them a quest of sorts, travel to the one member of the dojo that has studied that kata, seek out a sister dojo that does teach that spell and foster support and earn their trust. But to outright refuse a player from being able to play a character the way they wish to play it, seems rather off. If you and yours find it fun, more power to you though. :]

 

Not to belabor the point, but to put it another way, if the player gets to choose the school of the character, could they not simply say that the dojo they went to to learn teaches those kata/kiho/spells/whatever?

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17 hours ago, Tashiro said:

Because spells are something given out by your masters specifically.  'Here, this is what we think you should know'.  Just like if you've pissed off your sensei, when you go up a school rank, you might find you aren't learning your next rank technique.  Or you can't find a teacher for your next kata, or kiho.

Nothing's guaranteed.

I agree with everybody else: if this is how you run your games, that's 100% cool, but I don't believe it's how the 5E open beta corebook is written. 

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