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FFG Max Brooke

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

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I will admit now that most of my players built their characters without any input from anyone except themselves, it seems. I offered help, guidance, but all of them simply showed up with characters and then we had to sort out the chaos from there.

The big thing for our group, and for me, was that there has to be a chargen summary page. The pages at the end summarizing the twenty questions are decent, but they don't go over the limits or basics (all rings start at 1; nothing higher than 3 during chargen; no one loves you; etc.), so players missed a lot of things which then had to later be corrected.

Oddly (to me) the players fumbled over how EXP works, and how to spend it effectively. Part of this came from inconsistencies in the character advancement table (some of which have been fixed) like Techniques at the wrong rank not being specially marked (as it indicates on page 44 under prerequisites"Advancements that appear in an earlier school rank than their usual prerequisite limitations would allow are marked with special formatting"), and it being unclear whether or not overspening at one rank spilt over into the next (i.e. If I've already spent 14 EXP on Rank 1, and then I rank up my Air Ring for 12 EXP, does 10 of it go to advancing Rank 2? Or is that 10 EXP wasted?).

Of the players who had glaring errors I needed to review, Advantages and Disadvantages were a big issue, which stemmed a lot from terminology more than anything. Advantages and Disadvantages are categorical terms only, and it made people miss the terms like Adversity and Distinction when they were just flipping through (heck, even when rebookmarking the pdf I missed the distinction the first time around). I get why the terms are there, but if it's going to be two unique types of mechanical effects for two different things, and the term "Advantage" is otherwise only there so people don't forget "These are good!" then I think things would be more clear simply removing the term. You have Passions, you have Anxieties, and people don't need a higher category than that to sort things into which mean "Good and Bad" (they'll do that themselves).

Ninjo and Giri are... a thing. Most players picked something, and (for the most part) I just let them go. The interaction of Ninjo and Giri (as written when we did chargen) was far too restrictive, and so I opened it up to things that should conflict, but don't always do so. For example your personal goal might be to protect your secret love, and your duty might be to become a perfect duelist (potentially bad examples, but it was a pair one player wanted to run with) and I thought: That's awesome! Because it offered chances and opportunities for those things to play against each other sometimes, and to work together other times, which is what a good mechanical representation of an otherwise purely roleplaying system should be.

Personally, I have some troubles with most of chargen being laid out for you, but not nearly as much as some folks do (perhaps because I sometimes like to do that sort of thing, like in Iron Kingdoms). People are always going to rebel in an RPG from more freedom to less freedom within the same RPG... Family Line, I'm going to say. Personally, I can see how folks might get lost, and how certain questions might be in a different order, but overall it seems to give the illusion of freedom with the questions, but it ends up being "Heads or tails?" for most everything. That's not inherently bad, but it's worthwhile to consider if that's what you want in a game system.

And, otherwise, that's about it for chargen. There are definitely other bits as relates to play and such, but that's the bulk of feedback directly related to chargen.

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Character creation was engaging but long. Just put related sections closer to there required question.

The only part I found werid was the elements associated with resiliance and composor seem odd to me. After building a high water ring (to reflect his adaptable nature) and to low fire ring (to reflect his the lack of that empassioned spark) I ended up with a pathetic composure and ridiculous resiliance for a shugenja.

It seem backwards to me that the fire, a ring associated with Matsu and Moto, is composure. When I imagine a Fire-y character I imagine a charcter who is so passionate and furious that they would keep fighting- past the point where most people would have fallen into shock.

On the opposite side of the coin, water is a ring associated with Shiba and Ide. To me a water-y character adapts to situations and moves around obsticles to avoid stress entirely- and its clear someone of the development team thought this too because water oppertunities can be used to remove strife.

Earth works fine for both of them (earthly fotitude/ grounded stoicism) so it doesn't even seem like a drastic change. Just swap water and fire with the 2 stats.

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Every single one of my players had to have the techniques thing for earlier ranks clarified, because everything else is so intuitive and uniform.  There needs to be some clarity on the school ranks table I think, some way to indicate that you can get that technique earlier than normal.

Character creation is fine otherwise, though it would be nice to have more schools to play around with :D

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My players thought the 20 questions were awesome. They helped them make characters in a setting most were unfamiliar with. 

Definitely think that is the approach to go.

With the flexibility of the Adv and Disadvantages and how it'd be easy to make up custom ones (and is even discussed) I've no issue with that. To those with the feedback that there isn't enough flexibility, it'd be easy to just add some XP at the end. The Ronin's Path basically dumps 24 XP I believe on the players which goes a long way.

School Ability:

Overall I like them all and think they both feel flavorful and have a good power level to them.

It was a little odd that there are only a level 1 and a level 6 Capstone ability, though the Rank 1 ones scale. With kata and the other Techniques allowing for clan/school signature moves as well, can give the specific school feel.

Shiba Guardian is niche useful, but limited in scope. (The fact it pairs silly well with a Shugenja is what saves it in my eye.) With the Unmasking changes, it is less of a critical 'save' ability outside of Strife with Invocations (and potentially other things.)

Shosuro Infiltrator feels weak. It requires either a helpless foe (which kinda begs the question of why roll damage in first place) or stealth. So you can start with a potentially nasty attack, but compared to the Kakita, they feel far more deadly all the time rather than an extremely situational effect. 

Kakita Duelist - I'm not sure if changing it to 'deadliness' would have a better impact as that would give some synergy with Iaijutsu Technique (which does damage equal to deadliness). Ironically, it's the one technique that the Shosuro feels very strong with.


I'd like to see a limit to who many rings you can count per Rank as it's an easy place to dump XP and rank up.


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26 minutes ago, Prost said:


I'd like to see a limit to who many rings you can count per Rank as it's an easy place to dump XP and rank up.

I would like to see that limit be one rank per ring or skill,  but I've not done the math to see if that's viable

Let's see worst case:

1 skill group of 5 skills: minimum 10
2 skills: minimum 4
5 rings: minimum 3@2 +2@1, so 3*9 +3*6=27+18=45
5 Rings, alternate: 2@3, 3@1, so 2*12+3*4=24+36=50

So, yeah, that does work.

let's check.

Rank Ra Rb Rc Rd Re   Sa Sb Sc Sd   Pts Need _Raise_Values
 1    2  2  2  1  1    3  1  0  0  
1→2   3  2  2  2  1    3  1  1  0    17  16  +9 +6 +2
2→3   3  3  2  2  2    3  2  1  1    21  20  +9 +6 +4 +2
3→4   4  3  3  2  2    3  2  2  1    25  24  +12 +9 +4
4→5   4  3  3  3  3    3  3  3  2    34  32  +9 +9 +6 +6 +4
5→6   4  4  4  4  3    4  3  3  3    48  48  +12 +12 +12 +8 +6

Yeah, plenty of room to implement "Maximum only 1 raise per school rank counts"

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We had a go at character creation last night, here's the feedback so far:

Our group is me as GM, with three PC's. All of us are gaming veterans, with experience of a variety of gaming systems including FFG's Star Wars/Genesys system. I've been a fan of L5R since 1st Ed but none of my current players have played any incarnation of the RPG, although one of them played the early CCG (Clan War storyline).


I should start by saying we didn't finish character generation in our three hour gaming slot, in fact we only got as far as completing Part III. I don't think this is a fault of the system as it normally takes us a session or two to make characters and with the two of the three players having zero experience of Rokugan I wanted to make sure we explained as much as we could as we went along. A lot of our session was spent talking about the setting and the overall differences between Rokugan and pretty much every other game setting.

We created the characters as a group, with all the players discussing what they thought would be cool and trying to find ways to tie the characters together as a group. As the characters began to take shape we also ventured opinions on how we thought each others characters might answer the questions. Overall this experience was very positive and I think it really helped. I can see making a character on your own being way less fun.

We ended up with:

A Shinjo Outrider from the Shinjo family.

A Shosuro Infiltrator from the Bayushi family.

An Isawa Elementalist from the Isawa family.

Each of the characters started off as a very rough archetype, but over the course of the questions we answered each one became quite different. Talking to the players at the end of the session all of them agreed that the characters would not have turned out the way they did, had they just been given a stat line, a bunch of XP, and told to get on with it. The questions method is a hit with my group.

For the most part there were no real problems answering any of the questions until we got to Giri and Ninjo. The Bayushi and the Isawa found a good set of Duty's and Passions that were broad enough to see play quite often, but also focussed enough to give definite steps on how best to achieve them. However, the Shinjo really struggled with this part of the character generation. She got her passion pretty quickly, having previously decided that she wanted to return to the Clan's roots of exploration and discovery, but we couldn't find a duty that she wanted to play that would fit. I think partially this was due to the player in question being so new to Rokugan and but also because the section on Duty and Honour is actually quite brief and could certainly use some filling out. Perhaps a more substantial list of 'typical' duty's would help? In the end, we skipped this step for the Shinjo as it was getting late and we wanted to complete Part III.

Thankfully the Shinjo and I live together so we intend to spend some more time between now and the next session working through what Duty means to her. But this was certainly a sticking point.


Overall the entire session was good fun. The idea of Approaches really clicked with the group as they are the type of players how like to think their way out of trouble and come with different uses for skills and talents. In talking things over with the group we are probably going to bend some of the rules a little. The main example that came up is using any of the approaches for any of the skills, rather than limiting them by skill group. Using Air to Analyse things other than Scholar skills for example.


On the down side, as others have touched on, the layout of the beta document is a bit awkward, with lots of flipping pages backwards and forwards. A flow chart with page references would be a tremendous help.

We're hopefully going to complete character gen next week, so I'll update once that's done.




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hmm my experience is that  the 20 questions can be useful to new players but veterans will be bogged down each time they go to make a character . the fluff questions get in the way of quick character creation things people can do after characters done to fill in there back ground and stuff. heritage tables need to  clan specific and use your dice somehow.  I also think that bran new characters should have like maybe 10 points to spend that do not count to advancement of character in creation stage so there is some extra customization with a restriction that they have to buy skills , rituals , and Shuji  they do not have in there  school path and no more than rank 1 in a skill and no rings. this could give players 5 new skills a couple rituals or shuji and  2 or 3 skills. This would make people feel like they actually  have a bit more say over there characters final out come and not have characters that feel  cookie cutter. I made a character and a friend made a character both made kakita duelists we  made different choices in  is in question 4  7-20  but ended up with characters that could be just about the same except a couple disadvantages  water over void ring for the +1 from question 4  and 3 skills. not sure how you would view this  but it seems even though personality wise we should be much different mechanically we are just about the same. I attached the characters not sure if that would be useful to you guys or the others on the forums. 

personal feelings

the 20 questions seem long and needs a flow chart with page numbers for quick reference to things like  passions and anxiety extra.

shorten the description sections of each question and make it more stream lined (what I mean is less fluff more direct information)

maybe instead of saying (  Question 17. How would your character’s parents describe
them?: {fluff stuff here} {mechanical effect here}) switch them up put mechanical effect first then if they need the fluff for newbies put in the fluff after

story line  fluff is needed but it's mostly needed for new players more than people that know the setting and the mechanics

also maybe move the heritage stuff to the top like clan: family: heritage: Name: School:   this way all basic back ground and things they can not control get done with fast so they can focus on stuff they get more control  over.

save all  none mechanical stuff for last  all the fluffy stuff that makes a character  back ground story stuff none mechanical stuff last  like Q 15 & 20  Q 15 should replace 19  q19 should become 4 extra.

 back to heritage tables if you use 2 skills dice and explosions do not actually explode for this then you would have 28 out comes 

s o
s St
s E
s So
s Et
s ___
o St
o E
o So
o Et
o ___
St E
St So
St Et
St ___
E So
E Et
E ___
So Et
So ___

Et ___

this list + duplicates of each examples of duplicates could be  Et Et , oo,St St, exetra 

t=strife S=success o=opportunity E=explosion ___=blank  things like Et=combinations on dice faces of said options

anything with just a __ __ could simply be nothing good happened in your characters past that affects you directly

anything with another symbol and a _ would just read in the table like  St and would be something minor

I am sure your writers could use this for something

that should be enough combinations to make a good  heritage table for each clan


betal5r crankakita.txt

l5rb kakita mamoru.txt

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Hello, been trying this with a group of players some having played only v4, others brand new to L5R, and others being veterans of v3 but having skipped v4.


This is my general feeling after stydying the game via character creation. 



•How is the process of character creation working overall?

Both good and bad.

As far as players go : the 20 questions process has oriented newcomers nicely in their character creation. But for veterans, it clearly felt like a hindrance. Whereas it was an option in v4, I clearly felt like my more veteran rpg players disliked the process, loosing a lot of freedom in their character creation.

As far as the GM (myself) goes : felt bad.

  • I always take the time for character creation for myself in order to create some archetypes (a talentuous but loose Kakita duelist, a disciplined and dutyfull Utaku battle maiden, a trickster Bayushi courtier, and a few others for instance). Here it felt bad because I lacked freedom to make them match to the idea I had on their personnality and background.
  • I often create antagonists for campaigns and I personnally feel the need to make them memorable for my players (boring NPCs will never incite players to invest themselves in the campaign and create memorable characters).



•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?

Clearly part III "Honor and Glory". 

Defining Ninjo and Giri clearly was an overall mess. A lot of players ended up reluctantly picking the suggested samples for at least one of the just because they could make up opposing ninjos and giris. 

The fact that one needs to pick something fairly specific didn't feel right. Some players wished to just skip this step. Some went home with this part of their character sheet blank and feeling bad for not sucessing in this part. As a GM I went home feeling bad because some of my players felt bad and unsure if I should keep at this game with the said players (which never feeling I like).

Also I allowed players to following some more undefined Ninjos and Giri for the simple reason that they were way more simpler for me to cary in game and much more interesting than a lot of the suggested samples that felt pretty... empty. 

This leads me to one of the major problems I have in this new system : some people can live without true personnal desires simply happy about their lives and waiting to find something that they deem worth fighting for or the one thing for which they would suddenly forsake bushido, others can have multiple conflicting desires or duties. That doesn't necessarily make them bad characters or create bad fiction. Quite the opposite imho. You can never predict when someone is gonna suddenly start to change due to what they've been through. 


The other part that felt wrong was the inheritance table. 



•How are school abilities performing at the table?

They work right but feel wrong.

A Shinjo Outrider being in excessively deep connection with its mount felt more like a battle maiden trait. The Kakita duelist felt fun but dumb (why would they be the only samurai able to master the strengh with which they can strike ? Aren't all samurai trained enough to master the severity of the wounds they wish to inflict ? Once your blade is cutting through flesh and that you are striking, can you really modify the wound you are gonna deal and diminish the damage you are dealing (have dealt at this stage) ?).

Those are just examples but I don't like the feel of these abilities. All thoughts considered, the mechanics of school abilities feel crude as is it. On this I must underline that I have always favored subtle differences. These abilities feel a bit ... meh. :( 


Aside from this, as a GM, I have a few issues with this character creation.

  • Characters feel way to generic in this system. 2 bushis are way to much alike and the same goes for courtiers and shugenjas (and sometimes different classes feel alike ...). Even if you change the families, clan, rings and advantages/disadvantages, they feel without depth. In other words, you change the looks but not the feel. This is I believe due to the way to simple skill system and the techniques. 
  • As I read it the system aims to relieve the GM  from a bit of presure and work. However I felt the opposite during character creation. If I want to add more depth to the game I need to focus on which of the optional subskills will be necessary in the campaign. This is impossible to foresee (also don't have the time) : I've had experiences with 20+ pages scenarios in which the players go for completely unexpected directions and the GM suddenly needs to improvise and adapt the game and scenario on the fly for quite a few hours. So my answer naturally came as ALL OF THEM. But with this system you don't have enough customization margin to make characters using all the subskills (for instance you'd risk having courtiers without sincerity or courtesy). My guess is that there should be 2 sets of rules in character creation or developpement. One for a more simple setup and one for the more advanced stuff.
  • Imho it should not be a problem if your  PC invested in a "useless" skill : this is an RPG : people don't necessarily start an adventure with usefull skills or knowledge. You can't know what fate (the GM) is gonna throw at you. The excuse for a more simple skill system feels lame. Your character evolves with what happens to him, and learns the skills that destiny forces upon him.


  • The ring system feels wrong in character creation. It gives some sort of concept of a character but the fact that both physical and mental traits are obliviated by tendancies (because this is what rings give out : tendancies) is unsettling in few situations.
  1. The system as it is allows minmaxing in weird ways. For instance a Hida bushi with 3 earth ring would be able to repair complex works of art (say TN = 2/3) on a random good roll than say an artisan from any family that would have only 1 in his earth ring ? I've had a few players come up with weird ideas. I'm saying this here due to the fact that it has a direct impact on character creation and is also a consequence of this system. 
  2. A smart player will always be able to theorize and analyze without rolling dice. So you can end up playing dumb but have your character be smarter than you are or playing smart but have your GM telling you : "roll it to see if you realize : no your character lacks the wits for this type of theory". I feel pretty bad about this. Knowledge can be determined by dice in order to avoid meta gaming and having to much difference between players over the general lore (l5r newcommers vs veterans). It feels wrong to start asking players to roll dice to know if their PCs have the wits that they pretend to.

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As an aside, what I do miss from the character creation as presented in the beta is at least a short mention of wrap-up techniques, such as encapsulating the freshly created character in a two word description as might appear as the title of a card, were they to appear in the card instead of the role playing game.

(Although my personal preference for this is to use Haiku, that particular method is not something I would expect from the game.)

Edited by blut_und_glas

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How is the process of character creation working overall?

On the bright side, answering 20 questions, needing to pick advantages and disadvantages, and rolling on a table at the end has occasionally pushed characters’ backstories in directions I otherwise would never have considered. I hope I someday get to play the Meishōdō Master whose ancestor haunts him, insisting he venture into the Shadowlands to retrieve an ancient talisman, or the cynical, weather-beaten Shinjo Outrider whose lord despises him too much to attend to his expenses in a timely manner.

However, answering the questions takes a long time. My first character took four hours, even though I’d had the concept in mind for months. Although I’ve created eight other characters and memorized most of the starting techniques, it still takes at least an hour to go through the twenty questions. I try to speed it up by focusing on the mechanics rather than the fluff, but there are so many questions I often forget small details, such as status, glory and honor.

Mechanics Still Come First

The questions also fail to shift my focus away from mechanics. Because most of the character creation options can be measured in experience, there are correct choices. For example, if I have to choose between increasing a ring from 1 to 2 or increasing a ring from 2 to 3, I’m going to choose the latter, even if increasing another ring makes more sense for the backstory I have in mind or the way I want to play the character. To do otherwise would cost me three experience.

To give another example, in response to the question on mentors, I pictured one of my characters, a battle-obsessed Isawa Elementalist, gaining combat training from a visiting Lion. Thematically, I should have raised my melee from 1 to 2, but instead, I raised Courtesy from 1 to 2 because that can be increased from 2 to 3 in the ancestry table, providing a net gain of two experience.

The experience gain associated with each choice can make some options seem unappealing. For example, I have trouble building characters who start with only one ring at three and three twos because that character has three less experience than one who starts with two threes, two twos, and two ones.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of any solution to the problem other than making all skill and ring increases cost the same amount until the player wants to increase one from 3 to 4 or 4 to 5. That’s complicated.

Other Thoughts

I’ll echo the comment I read elsewhere that after character creation, I’ve written enough about the character that I no longer want to write a traditional backstory. That’s a shame! I suspect most GMs would enjoy a well-written backstory more than a series of answers to questions. I know I enjoy writing more.

I found the Kuni Purifier’s starting invocations disappointing. Jade Strike makes sense, but outside of campaigns that take place near the Shadowlands or involve hunting mahō-tsukai, it’ll rarely come up. Armor of Earth might be thematically appropriate, but it’s passive. I would have liked the option to choose Grasp of Earth, a more universally applicable invocation.

It’s true that Kuni purifiers get to choose between Striking as Fire and Striking as Earth. They’re also the only Shugenja in the beta with access to Kata, so it’s clear they’re meant to wade into battle. But if I wanted to play someone who relied on martial skill in combat, I’d play a Bushi or Courtier. If I’m playing a Shugenja, I want to unleash the kami’s power.

In general, I’d suggest making sure every school has choices at character creation in its primary technique category. Alternately, provide a way other than stealing techniques through the ancestry table for every character to start with any technique they qualify for. That would let players explore odd concepts even in games that start without experience (though why anyone would do that is beyond me). For example, the aforementioned war-obsessed Phoenix Shugenja could have started with a damaging invocation other than Grasp of Earth.

Minor Suggestions

If someone gets the same roll twice on the ancestry table, let them reroll one until the results differ. Inserting “If both dice come up the same, reroll one until they differ” after “First, roll a ten-sided die twice” under Question 18 would do the trick.

Consider moving the Glory each member of a family starts with next to the rings and skills that family provides. Thematically, it makes sense to put Glory after the paragraph describing the family, because that paragraph justifies the Glory. However, since all of the other benefits of being part of a family are at the top, I often forget families set a character’s starting glory until something else modifies it.

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

My group rarely gets to meet, so I can’t comment on their experience. Personally, I’m struggling with Ninjo and Giri. That’s partly because I’m creating characters for the Ronin’s Path, and all I know about the storyline is that it takes place near the Shadowlands and casts the characters as junior members of the Emerald Magistrate. I can’t think of a duty I know would apply other than “Gain influence in the Emerald Magistrate.” That’s something every player is trying to do, so it’s boring.

In other posts, I’ve seen people suggest changing Giri from the character’s job to the obligation the character finds most burdensome, such as the need to fake enjoyment at festivals, earn income to take care of family, or kill people who are only trying to help their families. That is far more interesting. If that’s your intent, make it clearer.

Ninjo also presented a problem for me. Because it has to oppose Giri, I often end up with personal desires that revolve around the character shirking their duty to blow off steam rather than creating dramatic tension. For example, one of my characters wants to become a master smith. That’ll be interesting and easy to roleplay, but I don’t know if “I’m going to ignore my obligations to the Emerald Magistrate to spend the day refining my blacksmithing skills” is the sort of conflict you were going for. Something like “My love is in danger. I must ignore my lord’s orders to protect her” seems more appropriate, but love isn’t (or shouldn’t be) in direct opposition to every Giri.

Disadvantages in a Dangerous World

I’m also struggling to choose disadvantages that reflect something about the character, such as failure of bushido or painfully honest, rather than external circumstances, such as haunted. I generally find personal quirks more interesting in roleplaying games, but it’s my understanding that Rokugan is a setting where the wrong word or an ill-timed smirk can lead to death. With that in mind, it’s hard for me to imagine characters that deviate too far from social ideals surviving long.

In other cases, I find the advantages and disadvantages too narrow. For example, the first character I created had a missing arm. Thematically, I wanted to play a Crab Shugenja who got injured in a fight with an Oni and was sent to court to act as a constant reminder of the Crab’s sacrifices. Because I am often uncomfortable around people with obvious injuries in real life, I expected the disadvantage to apply penalties to social rolls. Instead, it only affected situations where having two arms would be beneficial. If those situations didn’t come up often, or only came up in situations that didn’t justify rolls, such as getting dressed, I wouldn’t have a reliable way to generate void points.

Of course, I could get around that by suggesting the disadvantage apply in social situations and other circumstances where I thought it should. Even knowing that, I still felt cheated. It seems odd to me that a life-altering disadvantage has the same reward as a relatively minor or concealable one, such as Failure of Bushido or a poor sense of smell.

How are school abilities performing at the table?

Since my group has yet to play, I can only theorize. Two points stood out to me. First, outside of theme, the Meishōdō Master ability seems much better than the Isawa Elementalist’s one-per-scene TN reduction. Each talisman only applies to one invocation, but that’s fine. Because invocations depend on rings, I suspect most characters will end up using the same invocations over and over, especially early on, when they only have a few invocations.

The Meishōdō Master’s ability also scales with rank, which should make advancing more satisfying. The school also has a much stronger capstone. While I haven’t played enough to know how to value supernatural resistance, the ability to perform several actions in one turn seems much stronger.

For what it’s worth, I’d enjoy both schools’ base ability more if they gave an Opportunity or a success. I’m not sure if that would be balanced, but it would keep the abilities useful when the character becomes skilled enough to hit TNs reliably.

Shiba Guardians and Backlash

The Shiba Guardian’s school ability seems underwhelming. To my understanding, it’s meant to keep Shugenja from triggering backlash. That’s thematic and appropriate, but most of the backlashes seem minor. If succeeding on an Earth invocation will help my allies survive an encounter, I’ll gladly give up that invocation for the rest of the scene. I’m sure I’ll have others that apply.

For a similar reason, the Water backlash seems trivial. In fact, if I know my opponent loves Water invocations, I might trigger it deliberately to deny them access to their primary element.

Air has a more dramatic backlash, but most Air invocations seem to be geared toward utility rather than damage, which could make retargeting harmless. In some cases, it may even be beneficial. I’ll gladly take three strife so Cloak of Night affects two allies rather than one.

Fire’s effect is the most dangerous. While I can see it being beneficial if only enemies are in range, a Fire backlash will often mean harming allies. That’s unacceptable to me from an out-of-character perspective, so I’d appreciate the Shiba Guardian’s ability in that situation.

But that situation will only come up if the party includes a Fire-focused Shugenja who rolls poorly enough to trigger a backlash. Outside of their advancement tables, school abilities are what separate the schools. They need to be strong and memorable.

Other School Abilities

I like Kitsuki’s Method, but it might be worth capping the free skill ranks at 5. As written, the abillity punishes a character for getting high ranks in a skill by rendering them pointless once that character reaches Rank 6.

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

I’ve already discussed that, so let me provide other comments.

First, please clarify whether players can record experience on their advancement sheets in categories beyond their current rank. If they can’t, please make it possible. I don’t want to feel like I need to wait until Rank 4 or Rank 5 before investing in social skills, especially in a setting where they’re often critical.

Second, I’d like to see more invocations that augment others rather than creating weapons or doing damage. This may be my Pathfinder background talking, but when I play a spellcaster, I often worry I’ll overshadow my mundane peers. While eliminating spell slots allows more thematic and fun characters, it exacerbates that concern. I’d feel more comfortable playing a Shugenja if I had more ways to improve others’ rolls or give them an extra actions, such as the 4th Edition invocations Stand Against the Waves and Reversal of Fortunes.

The invocation list has some Support spells, but they often require water or a high rank. In the final product, please include some that are available from the start and broadly applicable.

Finally, Opportunities seem more useful than successes given the system’s low base TNs. I’d love to see more school abilities provide them.

Edited by Thaliak

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Here is our group’s take based on our experience:

•How is the process of character creation working overall?

It works okay. A character creation example could be beneficial. I’m sorry for beating the dead horse, but the current layout doesn't help much spreading the process.

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

Our really stumper was Giri and Ninjō and making them total opposite. Almost all the veterans came with a concept in mind, however tying their concept with this new mechanics wasn’t easy. A couple of them just created characters around the Giri and Ninjō instead of tying the mechanics to their character concepts. A table with some examples will be really useful, something similar to the Morality table of Force and Destiny Core Rulebook.

•How are school abilities performing at the table?

Some awesome like Akodo Bushi and Isawa Elementalist, underwhelming or at least not sold on the mechanics, like the Kakita Bushi...

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

Only when selecting Giri and Ninjō.



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the giri an ninjo are not always opposed in conflict it says they should conflict some times. if that's your sticking point then you need to rethink it . Being a soldier is a good giri  but for a kakita duelist his ninjo is to become the best duelist ever they some times come in to conflict and some times they mesh  you have this duelist that's a well known for his abilities in a  duel  but you have to bring him to your lord unharmed. but you so want to challenge him to a duel so you can prove your better. Oh the drama this could cause . or how they mesh you lord tells you you have to duel this same guy in a test of the kami to prove he is wrong (trial by combat thing)  now your duty's are perfectly Aligned with your desires . 

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The only issue I have with Giri is that strictly speaking it should probably something campaign dependent and even then mutable within the contex of the campaign and done in very close cooperation with the GM.

Actually, come to think of it, while the 20 question provide a solid structure for new players it has reminded me why I didn't particularly liked or cared about them in Old5R. I prefer alot of these detail to emerge naturally in play. This edition frontloads everything.


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