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FFG Max Brooke

[Focus Topic] Chapter 2: Creating a Character (Week 4)

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Greetings testers!

Our focus topic for this week is creating a character! People have already been doing an excellent job discussing it in various places, but here's a tread with some conversation-starter questions!

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?

We look forward to reading your discussion, especially in light of some of the information in this week's content update!

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4 minutes ago, FFG Max Brooke said:

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

 

I like the 20 questions approach it seems to be working well, once you know what you are doing.

Where character creation falls down is the layout of the PDF.  First character took me near enough to 2.5 hours to flip back and forth and work out where everything is.  I can knock a basic character over in about 45 minutes now however.

I have asked my kids (who have all made characters for 4e and DnD before), and there were literally tears at one point due to the amount of flipping and lack of mechanical explanation as the question tend to focus purely on the narrative side.

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I made a few characters with no problem. Then a week later I tried to make a few more, and I struggled to find all the mechanical bits I needed; for instance, it took me forever to figure out what base ring values were. 

Spoiler alert: They're all one lol

Also the character sheets are a bit cluttered and heavy on the ink. I know huge black boxes are the industry standard ... but there's gotta be a better way. What about a Legal size page? It folds nicely to 7 by 8.5, giving you natural boundaries and plenty of cover space and inside space ?

(I know you can't really do that, but I'm gonna ?)

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27 minutes ago, Kakita Shijin said:

Also the character sheets are a bit cluttered and heavy on the ink. I know huge black boxes are the industry standard ... but there's gotta be a better way. What about a Legal size page? It folds nicely to 7 by 8.5, giving you natural boundaries and plenty of cover space and inside space ?

Yeah, there are also several redundant parts (like 3 identical locations for recording 3 different aspects of exp or 2 areas for recording rings (though I like the stance explanations on the conflict side)). Once the beta is done then they will likely have the character sheet more streamlined. It may also be a good area for feedback. If the final sheet is still not completely to people's liking then people will probably make sheets that show more or less information or reorganize things depending on demand.

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Red entries: Changes due to Update.

1.Character Creation.

This is where i lost most of my player for the beta. Character creation come off to restrictive.

As one of my players put it. "It feels more like you making an MMO character then a PC for a roleplaying game"

none of them liked the forced advantage, disadvantage idea.

Out of the ones who tried to use the system. all of them wanted xp to finish off there character when they were done.

out of my 10 players 7 dropped due to character creation.

just to explain there is some stuff here then is not being covered now but I felt some of it would be effected by or will effect character creation. 

Here is a list of issues and ways we thought they could be fixed

 

a) Removal of Family and Clans Skills/Rings. The skills should be rolled into the schools and be awarded. example: Hida Defender School +1 Fitness, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts [Ranged], +1 Martial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Meditation, +1 Survival, +1 Tactics, +1 Command. Where player gets them all.

b) Rings should be raised to 2, but keep starting cap at 3. This removes the need for Families and Clans to provide them (which was always an issue in 4th).

c) Players need far more choices then agree/disagree on clan precepts, one on the choice itself and on the award if they disagree.  That will work.

d) the Bushidō question needs to be reworked. The idea that I don't believe in Bushidō so I have Commerce skills makes no sense to me. This is the perfect place to setup a Samurais tenet. What does he believe about Bushidō.

Does he follow his Clans beliefs openly, does he strongly believe in a tenet opposed to his clan, ETC. This is a roleplaying element not a mechanical one so it should be up to him and the GM decide how it is handled not the game.

e) almost all instances of Advantages and Disadvantages need to be removed. These are roleplaying enhancement that should be left to the player. I do like the ideas of passions and anxiety but that’s about it. anything else should be left to the player to decided.

f) There should be a starting pool of XP for the players to customize their PCs as a standard part of Character Creation. Not a tacked-on amount in the adventure.

 

2. Advantages and Disadvantages

a) Disadvantages need to be divorced from Void gain. Void is centering oneself not overcoming my missing finger.

b) each Advantage and Disadvantage need to be reviewed and have their points addressed. They are in no way equal.

 

3. Skills 

a)  Subskills need to be made part of the core rules as Emphases.  Update: At this point the sub skills IMHO just need to be filled out and added. It’s easier for the GM to remove them then add them.

b) Approaches need to be reworked to something less random and more structured. Right now, players can run rough-shot over the system to powergame them. I would suggest that All Approaches need to be justified to the GM.

 

4. Techniques

a) a Kata is not a combat techniques. Kata a Japanese word, are detailed choreographed patterns of movements practiced either solo or in pairs. It would be better to call it a school/combat technique.

b) Rituals need to be removed. The concept is nuts and doesn't fit the setting where bushi are not magical

 

 

overall the system is to restrictive. Characters feel like they are just starting there training an not just finishing it. It feels like a mad-lib where the system creates the characters and you're just along for the ride.

Edited by tenchi2a

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The Mantis family missing Glory value.... but appart from that.

Character creation feels lengthy for no reason. Either make every step of the journey important. Here is a good point:

Or condense steps together. 20 steps is much more daunting than 10 steps.

I also think that some questions have a weird disconnect with the answers. Questions 9 comes to mind.

 

I also say that the default split of Martial Arts into 3 sub skills is annoying. Shugenja can do most of the things with just theology I do not see why here suddenly a differentiation between diffrent "I hurt people" skills must be made. I mention this at character creation because it is build into the schools and techniques already, and it is really hard to get around this.

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12 hours ago, FFG Max Brooke said:

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

 

It goes surprisingly fluid, as far as the mechanics go. The problem is with the fluff, that leads me to the next point(s):

Quote

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?

 

We have serious problems with most of the stuff from Part III (Question 5+) onwards. Some of these questions are kinda... I dunno how to say it... hostile. There is a lot of negativity forced onto the character, and this negativity feels both specific and artificial. The best example is the Giri/Ninjo where the two must oppose each other and they must take center stage for the character - even though it is easy to make up a character where neither is the case or a campaign where none of this matters. Part IV, in general, suffers from this extensively, but at least it doesn't try to lecture the player, unlike Question 5 and 6. In my experience, these parts seriously disrupt character creation if the player has no solid idea about the character, and it gets a lot worse if the specifics of the character are of no importance because of the playstyle (say, players prefer their characters to "grow up" mid-adventure) or campaign theme (a hack&slash game disregards this whole section et all). 

There are also some minor problems like cookie-cutting and the attributes sometimes being at odds with the character's personality, but there are ways to work around these. 

Quote

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

We miss the five different techniques for each school. Those were cool. We also miss Insight, if we are at it. Other than that, we encountered no problems with the abilities themselves. The Akodo Commander's The Way of the Lion feels a little too good, but that's all. 

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14 hours ago, FFG Max Brooke said:

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

 

The process of character creation doesn't feel like I am building my character but merely assembling the character like a model kit. As long as I follow the instructions i get the model. What I want in character creation is to mold my character to what I want in my playing. Example: I built a character who was the daughter of a renowned duelist who joined the Crab but because I built in the Crab template I just built a stock Hida defender, even the ancestry roll failed to mesh in with what I wanted to accomplish. This along with the mechanical structure doesn't give me the feel or illusion of control over my character merely that I am interacting when prompted.

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18 hours ago, FFG Max Brooke said:

Greetings testers!

Howdy!

Quote

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

Overall, it's working well.

Two out of eight players (in my online, court-based game) seemed to be building toward mechanics rather than story. One of them ignored the questions to the extent possible; they didn't want to do a lot of "unnecessary writing" in the 20 Questions.

Several players felt like the 20 Questions forced them to answer questions that weren't interesting to their characters, and that having all those specific questions incentivized them NOT to write a more general backstory. 

All the players were annoyed that there wasn't a summary page for character creation: something like

  • Question 1: What is your Clan? [Pick Clan from pages X-Y; receive Ring bonus based on Clan]
  • Question 2: What is your Family? [Pick Family from pages X-Y; receive etc.]

Suggestions: implement a quickstart page listing just the questions, their reference points, and their possible outcomes; include a general backstory section at the end of the 20 Questions; consider including an optional alternative character creation method that's JUST mechanics (i.e. without the 20 Questions).

Quote

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

Several players got stuck on "what is your duty to your lord?" Right now, the corebook doesn't explain very well who your lords are. 

Suggestion: replace this question with "what is your character's duty within their Clan or family?" It loses some of the nuance (what if your lord is a high-ranking Emerald Magistrate?) but it gains a lot in clarity for new players.

Quote

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

Just fine.

Quote

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?

"What do the people who know you call you?" isn't very useful.

Suggestion: replace this question with something more revealing, like "What is something only your character's closest friends know about them?"

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My players complain only about the length, and one about non-mechanical steps. 10 questions (with the same steps involved) would reduce that...

Eg

  1. Who are your people?
    1. Pick Clan
    2. Pick family
    3. Pick School
  2. Who are you?
    1. Your Name
    2. Your Duty
    3. Your Desire
    4. your Ancestor
    5. how did you stand out in school?
    6. how do you see Bushido?

 

Etcetera.

the extra skill & Item should help some, too,

 

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I just want to be clear here.

I'm not saying that the current system for character creation needs to be scraped.

I'm more a proponent of each to their own.

What I would suggest is one or the other as optional rules, or just having both system to choose from depending on the style of game you want to run.

I have read the writers views on character creation. And while I don't agree on most of it I can see that some would.

That said, the system as written caters to only one style of play, and is not anywhere near all inclusive to the entire fan-base.

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Looking at the options there is not a lot of variation. a lot of it seems to be pick A or B. You are kind of left with well i dont like either. can I pick something else?

Also it is really annoying that major roles for a lot of clans are missing. How can we properly test character creation of major stuff like Dragon Bushi and Shugenja are missing?
I get that all the alternate paths may not be there. But no Bushi for a clan? Really? No Shugenja from a Clan? Really?

Edited by Daeglan

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Ok, so the missing schools are an obvious tactic to get folks to actually buy the final product while still allowing infinite free playtesters, and I don't really have an issue with that. 

After going through it a few times I don't really mind the 20 questions as much as I thought I would, not to my particular tastes, but whatever.  By far the biggest issue is the lack of customization xp, the online game I'm playing in gave out 12xp to start with and even that relatively small amount makes the character feel a lot more fleshed out, better at the things they are supposed to be good at or have more options.

There are a few questions I would like to call out as not adding much: 17, 18 &19, now I know that 18 is just there so you can shoehorn in the heritage tables, which I approve of, but why not just make it more directly What is your family noted for.  17 and 19 really feel worthless to me.  Some of the other questions are weird for some characters, 16 might be odd for a samurai just out of gempuku who hasn't had time to build up connections with outside clans or organizations. 

I'm not a huge fan of the way advantages / disadvantages work but it is workable if not to my tastes.

Really by far the biggest issue for me is the lack of starting xp, even just a bit makes the character seem far less paint-by-the-numbers, And FEELING less regimented  is actually pretty important to me when building a character.

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•How is the process of character creation working overall?

My players and I found it constraining, most of us had a concept idea but many questions ended "what answer is the less penalizing for my concept?" They should be a lot more choices for skills for many questions.

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

Giri and Ninjo and making them total opposite. Many times we wanted stuff that once in a blue moon could align but it was not what the book asked us to get. We settled for "better than nothing" choices. I had a hard time understanding the concept and explaining it to my players... the general idea was here, but the mechanical details linked to it...

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

So far so good, but requires to print aids to play.

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?

15. We are all veterans players of L5r and all were a bit confused here as we all described the same typical samurai drama answer and felt it was a useless question, for disadvantages or bushido answered for us.

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We made quite a lot of characters, both for one-shots, and 6 characters for two different campaigns. 

- Flow of character generation was nice and smooth. Creating characters as a group activity was fun. Some people have been pre-equipped with ideas what they want to play, some came in blank; both ended up satisfied. 

- There are two places where we have been "stuck" - one was Ninjo/Giri selection, but that's because we came up with a pretty reclusive location for our campaign that had a premise somewhat immune to personal goals; other major halting point was picking Disadvantages, specifically Adversities. While Anxieties were very fun to pick from or create your own, example list of Adversities wasn't inspiring and in many places felt little too "maiming" and gameplay-deshaping. A bigger list with less invasive Adversities would be a good improvement. 

- Way of the Crab was meh until the player decided to embrace facetanking and ignoring Incapacicated with Void opportunities, turning into unstoppable berserker. Isawa Elementalists ability is extremely potent and very satisfying and rewarding after identifying the "smart"way to use it in a scene. Heart of the Lion is gameplay changing for Ikoma Bard, making them play in an unique, powerful and fun way. Way of the Phoenix is underperforming, and feels very bland in comparison to other party members - it doesn't have the power play game changing quality of other 1/Scene school abilities, and it lacks the reusability and versatility of Heart of the Lion. 

From one shot tests, Akodo Bushi is overperforming, and Kakita Bushi is quite fun when used against minions, but rather frustrating when used against adversities, as Critical Table scaling and immediate effects are very unintuitive when used by players instead of against them.

 

- "Stuck to answer"questions were the ninjo/giri and disadvantage related ones. 

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Summarized feedback on the 20 Questions:

  1. They work better in a group than individually for both social and story reasons.  Socially it is more interesting to interact with one another and talk through the characters as they emerge; storywise it is easier to overcome the "and now we are posted to different activities throughout Rokugan" problem embedded in the setting.
  2. The focus on negative character aspects is disorienting for some players.  This is easily summarized by a comment from the first edition of the Amber game, something like "You are going to be playing this character for a while, and you should look good doing it".  Players who are interested in the psychological tensions of their characters were already engaged in this design behavior to some extent; those who are looking to create fantasy heroes struggle.

It is also unclear where FFG intends these characters to start on the hero's journey.  A little creative interpretation can get a character just at the start, somewhere in the middle, or even close to the end.  This is not a mechanical point, but rather a story-arc one...and one which has some implications on the 2-3 year game cycles my group is used to and may not impact other, more truncated, play approaches.

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On 10/26/2017 at 7:48 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

It works okay. It takes a bit of time. Could really use a simple one page overview of building a character. The poor layout doesn't help.
The new skill ranks and items are nice.

 

Quote

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

The biggest issues have come at the random ancestor table. A few players ended up with rolls that totally conflicted with the backstories they had created up until that part.
Would be better if this section came first. Knowing who the ancestor is and what thing you get ahead of time helps shape the character's story. Having it at the end, being random, and using a different die than the rest of the system makes this feel very tacked on.
Would also be nice for the entries to be better balanced and not to be random. Or if it it has to be random (which players and GMs will and are ignoring) then somehow make it work with the dice the game uses.

 

Quote

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

These seem okay. Monk feels very under-powered as an opportunity a rolled die is often worthless as TNs hover around the number of kept dice.
The Outrider ability is mixed. Most of this stems from a lack fo clarity on movement and the latest change that eliminates charging. Plus the mounted combat info is severely lacking and doesn't feel thought through at all.

 

Quote

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?

Why does this game not really feel like playing L5R?
Do we really want to keep playing the Beta?

 

Other observations so far:

Advantages/Disadvantages:
Would like it better if is was set up to that if you take a disadvantage you get to choose an advantage, but are not forced to take disadvantages.
Regaining void needs to be removed from disadvantages.
Feels like things would be smoother if you allowed each advantage to grant either the strife reduction or the reroll. This way the Player or GM could choose which best fit the scenario. Likewise disadvantages would be better if each could either forced the reroll or gave strife as fit the situation.
There are not enough virtue advantages. I think there is only 1 in the book so far (Paragon of a Bushidō Tenet). When characters hit honor 80+ they need the second one. Also didn't see any virtue disadvantages which are given for low honor.

Movement:
There needs to be better clarification on movement and how movement stacks.
A character is in water stance and moves 1 range band, maneuvers for 2 range bands,and  then maneuvers for 1 range band during their turn. Did they move 6 meters (1 meter, then 4 meters, then 1 meter) or did they move 100 meters?


Misc:
Overall the game the experience has been rather "meh" with the game feeling more like playing D&D or Pathfinder than L5R.
It seems like the devs would rather make new rules and make the mechanics more complex than find ways to streamline to system. Both duels and unmaksing are overly complex.The system feels like it has sprawled out to a tangled mess.

Unmasking doesn't need the laundry list of options. It should simply be that when a character unmasks they take an action as appropriate to the unmasking. this action should either cause a minor breach of honor, a minor dimisishment of glory, or the player must choose and reroll 2 dice showing success or explosive success results on each roll for the remainder of the scene related to the unmasking, like a disadvantage. They may spend a void point to leverage the unmasking to instead be of benefit for the scene, so it acts like an advantage. This would keep it from being a laundry list of options and the void cost for a benefit would help keep strife from being used as often as a power-up.
Someone needs to look over the honor and glory charts and make sure that anything in the books that talks about gaining or losing honor/glory has the numbers match with that section. Currently Unmasking a few other places don't.
As the characters progress, we find the TNs (especially for techniques) are pushing for them to raise one stat to 5 ASAP and there is some pressure to B.S. and change the way the characters are role-played for a mechanical advantage.  
So far we have found the mechanics and inelegant mess that get in the way of the story more than they help tell a story. Part of that is that this is a beta of the mechanics, but even with that in mind, the rules are clunky and in the way more than they should be.
As others mentioned in a different thread, duels don't need their own mechanics if the those for skirmishes are actually solid. Duels should be a one on one skirmish. No extra mechanics. Spend the page count talking about and expanding on the significance of dueling and adding more story elements. Also the Honor or Glory gained/lost in a duel should very much be a matter of who is dueling, why they are dueling, and the stakes of the duel beyond just that battle. All great duels should carry a heavy weight to them where the outcome is more than just one person winning.

Calming Breath
Calming breath is a bit of an issue. It struck a few players as odd that they can remove more strife/fatigue mid combat in just a few seconds but then don't fully heal between scenes. It is possible (though not probable) for someone with a low water ring to remove more strife mid-battle than they will between scenes. It also brings up the issue of whether PCs can start a conflict with each other or a tree and choose to just use calming breath until they are healed. Heck, two characters could start a conflict, one just does calming breath while the other chooses to only keep opportunities and never hit (but use the opportunities to heal strife), then they switch roles, then they are all healed up and good to go. Gms may not allow it, but plenty of players will try something like it or wonder why they don't fully heal if they can quick heal by taking a breath.

Calming breath also makes it even odder that meditating doesn't remove strife or fatigue.

Prepare Item
Prepare item hasn't been that big of deal thus far. The ability to ready a weapon on the assessment check means most characters are armed going into a skirmish. Not enough opportunities are being generated to make disarming people a thing and no one in our group has spent void to let a weapon break to avoid a crit.

Maneuver
Seems like there needs to be some way to charage or do some ride by damage or be able to run past and grab something as you run.
This might actually do that in water stance with the extra non-rolled action, but we need clarification on how range bands and movement stack.

Wait
Not sure why Wait doesn't allow for a moment action to be used.

Strife and Dice
At all levels of play strife management is a distraction at best. it still doesn't do what the devs say they want it to do. It really is the ancient burial ground on which this edition is built and what will eventually lead to its implosion if not dealt with correctly.
For our group, as long as strife is married to the dice it is going to be failure. Having it generated by the symbols on the roll is not a good idea. Unless your gaming strife for a mid combat rage boost, it is needless overhead at higher levels and at low levels it is like being asked which ear you want cut off when deciding between failure or strife. If the symbols have to stay cause FFG ordered all the dice already, then their role in being compromised should be good enough. Strife really should be gained from the story or direct character actions. If you want PCs to gain strife on rolls, let them take 3 strife for a kept die showing success or opportunity. Add one at a time, and cannot add one once strife over your composure. This way people are limited to 1-2 bonuses per scene, 3 if they are willing to be compromised, and it helps fix the opportunity shortfall. Change fire stance so instead of bonus successes for taking strife it lowers strife cost for buying a success or opportunity by 1. This helps keep fire stance from being overpowered, but still useful.

Scaling
The game doesn't scale very well. TNs and Rings rise at about the same rate. Opportunities are hard to get with higher TNs and the scaling TN bonus from air stance is really nerfing abilities at higher level that need both successes and opportunities to function. Play also stars to really slow down at higher ranks as there are almost too many techniques on the character sheet. Also there end up being a lot of options for spending opportunity (when you can) that can slow the game.

 

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Okay we made a big character creation session with newcommers.

We didn't give the information we just asked 20 questions in order (we used the version from the update). It was a fun evening, and everyone explained what kind of issues their character had.

It was definity much more enjoyable than going through the 20 questions alone.

 

We noticed 2 things and the first one is easily adressed: Some kind of table summarzing the advantages and disadvantages would have been a godsend. Especially since the second effect is always fairly standardized.

 

The second issue we found was the following: We decided to use starting XP, but explained how you increase you stats with XP only after we were finished with chracter creation.

The players had two problems: the escalating XP cost and the void boundary. They realized that they could have made better decision during chracter creation.

One player realized that when she wanted to increase her rings it needed to be Void. All her rings were 2 or higher except for Void which was on 1. Lowest Ring + Void = 2, so you can't raise a ring above 2. (For some raason many players thought it was lowest non-Void ring + Void, which they said was somhow more intuitive but I poited out that this is not how the rulebook works at this point.)

They also realized that the escalating XP cost favored people who build extreme characters.

In they end they went back and rebuild their characters.

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On 10/26/2017 at 6:48 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

How is the process of character creation working overall?

 

It's really simple. To simple. Players got bored about 1/4th of the way through.

On 10/26/2017 at 6:48 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

When assigning and extra ring when the ring level is already at 3. The vagueness of how the rings worked made it hard for them to select an appropriate one.

On 10/26/2017 at 6:48 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

performing without issue. 

On 10/26/2017 at 6:48 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?

None of the 20 questions where really a struggle.

All that said the players did have an issue with how character creations works. Selecting what clan, family, and school your in, and the game telling you what your stats are. They all said the same thing, it's not like they're making a character or a character that's their own, as much as it feels like the game is telling them what their character is and how its played. Kinda like they are renting a character.

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 •How is the process of character creation working overall?
Looks good. Our only complaint is the book formatting/layout. I would suggest adding an optional character creation method. Maybe giving the player a number of xp to spend as they see fit or something similar.

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?
The only issue we've really had so far is tied to layout. Finding the rules we needed or bits of information isn't intuitive at all and time-consuming during play.

•How are school abilities performing at the table?
They seem to be working as designed. No issues here.

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?
Not particularly.

 

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On 10/28/2017 at 11:18 AM, WHW said:

I believe he is talking about a literary concept of Hero's Journey, not "how experienced the characters are". 

Which still is referenced in that list. The "Heroe's Journey" aka Monomyth, is not fun for everyone, and a starting point other than nameless wannabe is explicitly allowed since the update.

 

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I think the 20 questions should be optional not required. If a player has a detailed character concept then it's fine, but some players have a concept of Lion Akodo Tactican or Ninja or "Beatstick That Kills Everything" where everything else is decided in play, then the 20 questions only get in the way.

I would also like to see all the schools get at least one technique for each that are available for that school. In places where the school offers a choice of two they should get both.

Lion Clan: I would like to see added at the Clan or family (Akodo and/or Ikoma) level +1 Games (Go and/or Shogi). The Lion are supposed to some of the best at these games. Also all the Lion schools should get the Ritual Commune With Spirits (Ancestors). Every member of the Clan in the lore had some ability to feel the ancestors around them with only the Kitsu being able to talk with them. If the lore has changed then we need to know about it in order to make characters in line with the new lore.

Question 15 - Change Customizing Unmasking: Many different situations cause different unmasking for different characters. A list of the most common reasons (sad, happy, ecstatic, angry, annoyed, etc) should be presented in the question and then have players make an unmasking for each (such as Chun Li's "yatta" win pose from Street Fighter video game series), or remove everything after paragraph one and replace with something about the GM and players working together to come up with something appropriate unmasking to fit the situation at the time it happens.

Heritage Table: make it  like previous editions: "Roll or Choose".

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From the test one shots that I've run:

 

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

It's working fine. Some of my players have preferred to have assistance with it, while others have figured it out on their own without major issues. It's probably in a good spot.

•If you or members of your group have been getting stuck, where has this been happening?

 

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

Of the ones used in my game (all at rank 1)
Shiba Guardian- A little underwhelming. One of my players has played Shiba bushi in previous editions with their Void shenanigans and he misses being able to have cool duelist things too in addition to being a protector. In addition, the power feels too narrow, especially when compared to other schools with similar effects (e.g. Akodo Commander).

Isawa Elementalist- Works well.

Kakita Duelist- Very good ability, saved one of my players from accidentally killing his opponent with a finishing blow.

Doji Diplomat- Player repeatedly forgot about his ability due to his general newness to RPGs, but seems useful.

Kitsuki Investigator- Good, solid ability.

Bayushi Manipulator- Didn't get used, player couldn't really figure out how to use it.

•Are there any questions you have found yourself struggling to answer?

The biggest struggle for me was figuring out Intrigues. I got there, but it felt like more work to figure out how they run, as a GM.

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