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JayDow

Reviews? Sell me on/off?

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First of all, holy crap there's an FFG L5R RPG! (and if I have to put one more abbreviation of anything here I will bleed from my eyeballs) 

I had no idea, because I hadn't heard of it. 

I've only hopped on the L5R train in the 4th edition and I'm not really "in the clique", in the sense that I'm not in any L5R group and have never Winter Courted with anyone (be gentle), so I guess that's a big part of why I only just found out about this thing.

 

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could point me to a review of the FFG Edition because even deep-searching Google only turned up a couple of outdated reviews of the Beta - one was written by someone who didn't know the previous L5R RPG editions and the other review was apparently written by someone writing his first internet forum post mostly to complain that "system complex 'cause isn't D&D, which I'm used to", and while I feel for both of them I don't feel like an absolute satan for wishing to find a review written by someone who is familiar with both this and previous L5R editions. 

 

If there's any generous soul up and about I would love to hear more about the game and what are the improvements over the AEG line (particularly 4th edition, because that's what I have) as well as the pitfalls and problems with the system.

I'm particularly interested in how much of the AEG mechanics have been kept, changed or gone out of the window - because I have to say, I was not a fan of the idea that if I dared to try and Zorro another samurai's kimono I would have to roll against a TN of the upper 50's with my 4k2, or that I had to drown most of my starting points into stats to try and get Ring values above 2 and that it also meant that going for two very different stats that didn't necessarily made sense for my character or that my badass Crane duelist is a dominating weapon in any iaijutsu duel but if a half-crippled bandit came at her in a skirmish she wouldn't be able to swing a katana to save her life (literally). 

 

Thanks in advance to any help/enlightenment!

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I came on board with L5R in 3rd Edition mainly, though played one or two sessions of 1st Edition before 3rd was released (2nd Edition was not well loved). I loved 4th Edition, but admittedly I loved it like a very flawed old friend. My main issue was balance. It was not a balanced system between different schools in the same roles, or between different roles. The only thing keeping everyone from being a Tamori Shugenja was the setting.

This was great if you found people that loved the setting, but there was always one powergamer. The dude with Void 6, Iai 5 and nothing else but a tendency to get offended, and leaves you looking at the GM wondering why he approved such a thing. Part of what led to Powergaming, was the very swingy system. It was hard to be consistently great at something without the exact right build. Now I can't claim that I have plaid enough 5e to know if it is more balanced, but I am familiar enough with the mechanics to say that a few of the problems of 4e have been solved.

The first thing to note is that whilst it is still a version of 'roll and keep', it is very very changed to fit the Fantasy Flight model. Special dice with special symbols take the place of standard d10s. A lot of people hate that. I have just come to accept it as the way of things with FFG RPGs.

Now, instead of aiming to reach a certain number, and keeping enough to hit your target, you are aiming for a number of successes. You roll a 6 sided dice for your ring, and a 12 sided for your skill, keeping a number equal to your ring. The best thing about these numbers, is that they are often times low. One or two successes each. This does not make it easy to hit the numbers however, as many of the successes come with 'strain'. Strain represents a sort of mental damage. The highs and lows of emotion that are unbecoming of a samurai. Take too much strain, and you find yourself either unable to take any more, and limiting the successes you can achieve, or dropping your on for a brief moment, and compromising yourself emotionally.

This makes the decision of every dice to keep a flavourful and impacting choice. Do you accept the burden for a great success, or do you fail and keep yourself composed?

Alongside successes and strain we have 'opportunity' which in many ways takes the place of raises from before. Opportunity lets you do that little something extra. It allows you to score a critical hit, to activate certain techniques such as kata, or just make what you are doing look better. No longer do you need to reach 50 to cut someones clothes. 2 successes and 2 opportunity should do it.

Rings have been streamlined too. No longer are they attributes, but philosophies. Approaches for doing things. For example fire is no longer literally your intelligence and Agility, but a measure of your creativity, enthusiasm and passion. In theory any ring could be paired with any skill, players are encouraged to find creative ways to pair them. Be warned the GM is encouraged to make some approaches easier and some harder for any given roll. For example it might be easier to pull a cart out of mud with water, the ring of adaptability and patience, than it is with fire, the ring of overwhelming force in the first moment. In combat, any ring can be chosen, representing the stances from earlier games. Each one gives a specific benefit though, so you do not always want to choose based on which one is highest. Certain techniques can only be activated with certain rings as well, making the choice even more complex.

As to your other point, skills have been streamlined greatly. There are five groups of six skills, all of which allow you to do any given thing in life. Great categories that could go on forever are now streamlined into smaller boxes, which means much less book keeping, and much less need to spend experience to be a well rounded samurai.

Mechanically, I think that 5e is a great improvement over 4e. The common complaints seem to be 'special dice are bad' and 'strain is too limiting'. To the first I say, 'get over it'. The second is more complex. I think some people don't get the idea that strain is meant to be limiting. You are no more supposed to fill up your strain track than you are your wounds (or fatigue as they are called here). Because people come from a 'keep all the successes' mindset of earlier editions though, they fill it up quickly, and then feel like they have lost control of their agency when they have to shout at an enemy or let out a curse word. I get why they would feel that way, but seeing as that is supposed to be the 'taking a critical hit' of social situations, it is something that I am on board for.

All in all, I think that 5e is a great advancement of the game. If you like FFG's other products I would encourage you to pick it up!

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Thanks very much, Amanda! That was very helpful and informative.

The changes sound interesting and I appreciate the tip about managing Strain vs successes. 

 

It sounds like they took some good directions with this edition, then. 

The Ring changes sound really good. 

 

I'll definitely check it out!

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7 hours ago, JayDow said:

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could point me to a review of the FFG Edition because even deep-searching Google only turned up a couple of outdated reviews of the Beta - one was written by someone who didn't know the previous L5R RPG editions and the other review was apparently written by someone writing his first internet forum post mostly to complain that "system complex 'cause isn't D&D, which I'm used to", and while I feel for both of them I don't feel like an absolute satan for wishing to find a review written by someone who is familiar with both this and previous L5R editions. […]

Thanks in advance to any help/enlightenment!

You're a week too early for reviews of the final core rulebook; it shipped tuesday to preorderers... it's supposed to hit shelves about the 11th.

That said...

The system is simpler than that in FFG SW/Genesys, which itself was simpler than FFG WFRP3E.

There are numerous simplifications in the beginner game, some of which may reflect the final core, others might not. Therefore, it's not a great resource for reviewing the game.

I was a fan of L5R 2E & 3E; I like the 5E mechanics better, but there are some elements where 3rd was better. (Duels, mostly, and having the actual attributes.)

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22 hours ago, JayDow said:

First of all, holy crap there's an FFG L5R RPG! (and if I have to put one more abbreviation of anything here I will bleed from my eyeballs) 

CTFD. IKWYM - there's too many TLAs in that sentance, but you'll get by. ?

22 hours ago, JayDow said:

I've only hopped on the L5R train in the 4th edition and I'm not really "in the clique", in the sense that I'm not in any L5R group and have never Winter Courted with anyone (be gentle), so I guess that's a big part of why I only just found out about this thing. 

Nor am I. I saw the LCG, and tried it a bit, thought - ongoing living storyline, check, awesome artwork, check, card game.....no matter how hard I try I can't make myself like it. I never really got into M:tG (Last one, honest!) and have never since found a card game that 'clicked'. But the setting was awesome so when the beta was announced I 'yoinked' the RPG group I GM for to test it, and we had great fun.

But you do see people casting back to the previous versions. I like the new mechanics but don't find myself too bothered about 'raises' and 'D10 Roll & Keep' to the extent that some people got (really) heated about it over the run of the beta - I've played (quite a few) different systems (40kRPG, Advanced Fighting Fantasy, Edge of the Empire, Paranoia, Traveller, Lone Wolf) but not the previous edition specifically.

22 hours ago, JayDow said:

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could point me to a review of the FFG Edition because even deep-searching Google only turned up a couple of outdated reviews of the Beta - one was written by someone who didn't know the previous L5R RPG editions and the other review was apparently written by someone writing his first internet forum post mostly to complain that "system complex 'cause isn't D&D, which I'm used to", and while I feel for both of them I don't feel like an absolute satan for wishing to find a review written by someone who is familiar with both this and previous L5R editions.  

Comparing to previous editions of L5R, @Amanda the Panda covers most of it.

The key points compared to other game systems in general - without going to deep into the stats are:

  • Rings now cover everything in specific circumstances - so rather than a given skill always being used with a specific stat (archery with agility/dexterity, for example) that you'd expect in most RPGs, it's more like a matrix - every skill pairs with every stat in a given situation, but not all situations. So:
    • Fitness is a generic 'running/jumping/climbing trees' skill. But it pairs with:
      • Earth/Fitness for bracing a weight or a forced march
      • Fire/Fitness for an explosive lift, leap or sprint
      • Air/Fitness for sneaking or dodging stuff
      • Water/Fitness for clambering across rough terrain
      • Void/Fitness for ignoring exhaustion and pain, I guess?
    • Because your roll is a mix of applicable ring and applicable skill, every samurai in a party will have different moments to shine, even within what might be considered a single skill in other RPGs - it's comparatively hard to make "the face character" who outclasses every other PC in every field of social interaction, because the ring you might use to rally a terrified army (Fire), the ring you might use to charm an impressionable young courtier into a scandalous liason (Water) and the ring you might use to win a relatively dry legal argument (Earth) aren't the same, and no one player is going to be the best at all of these.
  • Like the FFG star wars system/Genesys, and unlike a lot of systems, there's no 'unskilled' penalty. Yes, obviously not having skill ranks makes achieving things harder, but you always get the chance to try, and the system assumes a basic level of competence at anything you attempt rather than going "no ranks in tracking? have an extra -20 penalty" like Dark Heresy does.
  • Much like the Genesys system, a single die roll does multiple things.
    • However, rather than pre-committed 'make it harder for extra effect' it's more a case that you roll a generic "I attempt to strike the target aggressively with my katana" and then extra effects - stuff that would represent L5R 'raises' or 40kRPG 'called shots' - are accomplished by 'oversucceeding':
      • There's no seperate damage roll. Rather than damage being "1D10+1 plus your strenght bonus" or whatever (that's a 40k RPG statline but similar things are pretty common) you instead do a flat 4 damage, plus 1 damage for every success you got over and above the basic roll to hit.
        • This means that if you end up with some ludicrous string of successes on the roll to hit, the results are always impressive. If you roll a million successes to hit, you do proportionately more damage, and it takes a roll out of the resolution.
        • You can't roll a 01 to hit on a 1D100 and then roll a string of '1's and '2's on your damage dice and bounce off (40kRPG)
        • It also means you don't end up in a situation of rolling what-should-be-a-solid-hit-but-1-'pip'-less-than-the-raised-tn or else 50-points-over-the-TN-in-an-epic-roll-shame-there's-no-raises-on-it, both of which are kind of anticlimactic.
    • Equally, strife and opportunity are triggers for 'things not directly connected to success and failure' - so rather than 'and now roll spot checks' it's more a case that whilst making a water check, an opportunity might be 'I notice something in the surroundings that might be important'. It actively recommends adding (minor) details to the enviroment (with GM approval) via opportunities - the "is there a convenient rope for my totally-not-Jack-Sparrow-San Mantis Pirate to swing across to the other ship on?" sort of detail, or 'isn't it convenient I have minor non-magical non-combat item that I could realistically have expected to have in my travelling pack?" like, say, a flint and tinder.
      • Zorro-ing another samurai's kimino would almost certianly be opportunity-based. One 'fire ring' opportunity is "the target receives a shedload of strife" - angering/stressing/intimidating them by whatever means - in a duel, slicing a passable stylization of the Kakita family mon into the front of their finest court kimono would definitely qualify! So you'd roll to strike - and either hit, or not, for the purposes of damage and/or removal of extremities, but if you have 'spare' opportunities, you have the option to add insult to injury (possibly literally).
  • Different duel and skirmish styles do matter. However, Iaijutsu is now a technique, not a skill. That is, you'll still use martial arts (Melee) and therefore have a decent skill with a sword if you're a 'political duellist'. For that matter, the beta specifically codified multiple different types of duel - not all of which are iaijustu-based.
    • The warrior's duel is to incapacitation and implicitly allows whatever wargear the combatants fancy (picture a Hida in full plate with an otsuchi and a somewhat two-dimensional kakita complaining "that's got to be against the rules....")
    • The duel to first strike, first blood or death all work the same (victory driven by criticals of increasing severity).
      • If it's an iaijutsu duel (it doesn't have to be) both combatants start with weapons sheathed, but you don't actually have to have the specific iaijutsu techniques to win: Water stance gives you a 'free action' letting you draw your sword as a free action and strike - effectively 'iaijutsu' even if it's not as good as the 'proper' school techniques.
22 hours ago, Amanda the Panda said:

In combat, any ring can be chosen, representing the stances from earlier games. Each one gives a specific benefit though, so you do not always want to choose based on which one is highest. Certain techniques can only be activated with certain rings as well, making the choice even more complex.

And when injured, the critical effect is usually applied to the ring of the stance you were in at the time, so if getting wounded you may find youself needing to switch stance to keep in the fight.

 

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I think the biggest change I like is simply the fact that it is a narrative focused game.  It does not feel like you are trying to play an MMORPG with all of the stats and min/maxing.  The system is based around creating characters who are complete, and flexible.  If you play your character as a physically strong character, then you simply play that way.  The stats don't limit your ability to be a certain thing, and are not required to play a certain way.  You can be quite intelligent without any specific stat maxed as a prerequisite for being an intelligent character.  Similarly the skill list is quite finite, and flexible.  If there is something you want to do you pick which skill is most appropriate and go with it.  If your GM calls for a specific skill you can make the case that a different skill could suffice, and the GM can easily let it fly (sometimes with a TN penalty.)  In this way I feel this system enables players to really play their character rather than navigate a mechanical stat system that shoves their character concept into a cookie cutter build.

I feel they did a great job in preserving the R&K system, one of the hallmarks of an L5R RPG.  The system is much simpler than the Star Wars system they built, which I see as a plus.  The only place things get technical and require further study to build your character are the techniques.

Techniques are about as complex as spells would be in other systems.  There are a lot of them and you probably should read through all of them while building a character so you can chart these out...  Kinda a downer with how little the knowledge requirement, and how much flexibility there is for everything else.  This is also where we fine the limits of opportunities.  The dice have success and opportunities.  The opportunities are supposed to be a replacement for what raises were...  and it looks pretty good until you realize there are arbitrary limits based on what techniques can do...

All in all the system is great - even with techniques.  Its designed for telling stories, and giving the players a way to share in building the narrative.

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I know the core rulebook hasn't shipped quite yet, but with the
beginner set already out, I was wondering if anyone could say what has
changed system-wise, if anything, from the Beta to the final release.
Looking online and in this thread it seems like the basic system is
the same, but I was wondering if there were parts that were fine-tuned
to run smoother or in a more balanced way since the last beta update.

My biggest concerns with the beta were mostly rulebook organization
and look-up related, but I figure those issues will be solved with a
proper product release (and I'm terrible at finding things in digital
formats quickly; I still much prefer paper books.)

I also felt like sometimes we were missing something that made the
system come together smoothly, though I couldn't tell if it was an
actual rules problem or something that would get smoothed out as we
played more and got familiar with the system and how it was supposed
to work. We got a few rules wrong the first few sessions, and then
some of the rules changed slightly so we kept getting confused. And by
we I mean me, because my players could never be bothered to actually
read the rules (but this is often true.)

Of course, the real question I have for the Core release is whether or
not there are rules for playing Sparrow Clan...

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4 hours ago, shosuko said:

I think the biggest change I like is simply the fact that it is a narrative focused game.  It does not feel like you are trying to play an MMORPG with all of the stats and min/maxing.  The system is based around creating characters who are complete, and flexible.  If you play your character as a physically strong character, then you simply play that way.  The stats don't limit your ability to be a certain thing, and are not required to play a certain way.  You can be quite intelligent without any specific stat maxed as a prerequisite for being an intelligent character.  Similarly the skill list is quite finite, and flexible.  If there is something you want to do you pick which skill is most appropriate and go with it.  If your GM calls for a specific skill you can make the case that a different skill could suffice, and the GM can easily let it fly (sometimes with a TN penalty.)  In this way I feel this system enables players to really play their character rather than navigate a mechanical stat system that shoves their character concept into a cookie cutter build.

Agreed. This is very much a setting where everyone has a base level of competence at everything; hard things are hard, and excelling within a specific niche is easy with the right mix of skills and techniques, but I-can't-do-this-at-all ineptitude is relatively rare. Even a courtier character who's not entirely sure which end of the wakizashi goes in the enemy should be able to hold their own against minion-level enemies (shadowlands goblins or 'generic bandit') without breaking too much of a sweat.

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My review of the RPG Beta is here:

http://www.cardboardrepublic.com/articles/up-on-a-soapbox/why-the-l5r-lcg-succeeds-and-the-rpg-beta-fails

My review of the Beginner Set is at the end of this article:

http://www.cardboardrepublic.com/articles/dave-of-the-five-rings/dotr-chapter-thirty-one

The TL;DR - It is VERY pretty, and has some good concepts and design choices, but it is has some flaws. Strife is an interesting mechanic which succeeds when players buy into it, and presents a world where samurai are constantly in danger of showing emotion and must struggle against their nature as a human being to appear as unemotional duty machines. The Narrative Dice provide a much more granular and impactful ability to choose for players, as opposed to older editions pass / fail dichotomy. The Honor / Glory / Status system is an import from previous editions, and sticks out like a sore thumb in the current rules. The Ninjo vs Giri dichotomy is very under served by the rules (to which Turmoil is a MUCH better version, in my opinion).

Edited by sndwurks

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Overall I agree with @sndwurks review of the game.

To sum it up "Nice try, but try again".

The one major issue with the game that IMHO sndwurks missed was the character creation system.

At lest to me (and every gamer I know) The character creation system is the first make or brake mechanic for a game.

Where a game stands or falls before the dice are even rolled.

An example would be A time of war (battletech RPG). It is a wonderful system, with great game balance and easy mechanics that work.

But the Character creation system is horrible, so its not a popular edition of the game. Even though it has superior mechanics to the first three games.

but L5R FFG fails out of the gate on both counts here. Not even having superior mechanics to fallback on.

They took the 20-questions, that were meant as a guide, and turned them into a rigged fill in the blanks system.

They took away a players freedom to create the character they wanted and replaced it with a one-from-column-A, two-from-column-B system.

Limiting the players choices to one or two per question. 

Overall the game is a major pass, and I could not recommend it.

 

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1 hour ago, llamaman88 said:

You're still here? 

As I have said before I'm here to follow the story.

Did not know I have to like the RPG to do that.

And the OP asked for both sides of the story. 

Edited by tenchi2a

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12 hours ago, HelloRPG said:

It seems that everyone has wrote the foundation of the system's  pros and cons....So I can only add this: Reading the dice and making check easy, so easy that we done it drunk. Good times were had.

It gets easier if you buy white d6 and d12 blanks, and then draw in the symbols using fine point sharpie markers, and a different color for each type of symbol (we use black for Success, red for Strife, green for Opportunity, and blue for Explosive Success). Also, less expensive than buying the dice from Fantasy Flight Games.

I actually seriously have a problem on some level with how their dice are laid out, from a visual contrast and graphic design perspective. I can't read the dice from across the table as a GM (which, being a GM with jokingly "eagle vision" and "calculator brain", is a weirdly vulnerable place for me), so I highly recommend this path.

The best part of the new dice system is that they incentivize choosing to fail at an action. The worst part of the new dice system is that taking ANY Action increases your chances of dying / exploding emotionally at the wrong time.

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2 hours ago, sndwurks said:

The best part of the new dice system is that they incentivize choosing to fail at an action. The worst part of the new dice system is that taking ANY Action increases your chances of dying / exploding emotionally at the wrong time.

Well..  shouldn't it? Actions that have implications shouldn't be rolled for anyway. Actions that have implications should have, well, implications.

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35 minutes ago, JBento said:

Well..  shouldn't it? Actions that have [no] implications shouldn't be rolled for anyway. Actions that have implications should have, well, implications.

Slight edit to get at what I think you are saying...

And to answer, what do you feel should be more impactful to your character's emotional state? Encountering the brother who brutally murdered your father in front of you, or looking at a slightly broken door to figure out how it is broken and how that happened? Because, mechanically, it is the latter at TN 3 or higher, if you roll poorly but want to succeed. Which is a flaw of the system of the Narrative Dice.

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If you combine Amanda, Magnus and sndwurks, you'll probly get the best encompassing review. I've been playing L5R since the late-90's, and all I can add my experiences.

I will add that the changes to the RnK system have been well received in my group. In a 2 year running 4th ed campaign, I can say my players rarely ever raise outside spell casting. The risk just bit them too many times, and they'd rather default to easier rolls for the chance to just succeed and/or do damage. Opportunity, on the other hand, has presented them with the choice between bonus successes, or special effects. The possibility of strife means they've already taken a risk before rolling, without betting me how many 10's they'll roll like a weird game of liars dice.

Because of that, I think the GM has to take a separate approach to rolling and ensure, outside combat, dice are only thrown when there is a direct and dire consequence. Otherwise the strife system will feel bothersome, as every roll nets some. Narrative game has to mean narrative approach, so I wouldn't have my courtier player roll to arrange flowers in such a way as to carry meaning, but I would if it carried a hidden secondary meaning they'd be compromised for if it got out. Some GM's don't like narrative approach, because it allows the loud mouth at the table to try to game how much they can automatically succeed at. I don't have one of those, so I don't mind.

I also don't believe techniques are as boorish as advertised. I'm not saying someone can't, or won't, but you aren't led to purchase a whole lot of them over the course of character development. They supplement play style more than restrain it.

 

 

Edited by ExplodingJoe

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8 hours ago, sndwurks said:

Slight edit to get at what I think you are saying...

And to answer, what do you feel should be more impactful to your character's emotional state? Encountering the brother who brutally murdered your father in front of you, or looking at a slightly broken door to figure out how it is broken and how that happened? Because, mechanically, it is the latter at TN 3 or higher, if you roll poorly but want to succeed. Which is a flaw of the system of the Narrative Dice.

Oh, duh, thanks for that edit >_>

 

From what I understand, you can always choose to take Strife, so even if you don't have to make some sort of reaction test to the first or something similar ("how do you react to seeing your brother in front of you?" "I yell at him, asking how he could've murdered our father?" "Roll Intimidate (Fire) to see if he cracks, even a little bit" (or whatever)) you can always say it's a jarring experience and take Strife anyways. Or maybe you didn't really like your dad, so, meh.

 

As for the door, the Narrative Dice are very elegant, I feel, in that second situation: do you care, and I mean CARE, about finding out how the door got broken? Then taking successes paired with Strife represent exactly that (are there dice sides with successes and no Strife?). Or maybe you don't really care, in which case after you roll the dice you decide to fail anyway, and your character just shrugs "meh, whatever". And in either case, you may be able to use Opportunities to notice the nearby footprint, whether you find out what happened to the door or not.

Edited by JBento

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As Strife goes - I think what they ultimately came to makes good sense, and my players all love it.  Don't think of Composure the same way you would fatigue.  When Fatigue is exhausted it leads to getting severely injured or dead.  Unmasking pretty much only nets a loss of honor / glory, and you get a -1TN so this emotional moment can actually bring about great success.  Challenge the players with narrating what the actions are, and how or why they are picking a certain approach.  Bring out some element of story for their decision.  Every unmasking in the sessions I've run of the starter campaign have been well received by the players as they enjoy the bonus of the lower TN, and a moment to roleplay them dropping the facade.  Whether its challenging someone to a duel, brutally shanking someone, or lies coming from otherwise honorable lips...  Great stuff all around.

It doesn't have to be some dramatic thing either.  Honor is always an artificial restraint, how would your character approach this task if for just 1 moment they let go of those chains and did something direct, and effective.  I just suggest - try it out.  Let your players know its actually an advantage in the moment, and doesn't have to lead to anything permanent.  The only real down side is that they'll have to do something honorable / glorious later to make up for it.  Such is karma...  such is the life of a hero.

PS: I actually do have 1 gripe about the Strife system.  I don't like the way Composure is calculated.  Endurance is calculated with (Earth + Water) *2, while Composure is (Earth + Fire) *2.  Lion and Crab clans are both known as physically able, but emotionally less stable.  The Crane and Scorpion live by controlling their emotions...  The Scorpion and Crane clan bonuses of +1 Air leaves them as emotional twits when Air is probably the stat I would assign MOST to a steeled and calm demeanor in the face of utter destruction.  When you're cheating, baiting, beguiling, ect is when you are most in control of your emotions.  I think Composure should be (Air + Fire) *2.  I don't remember if I gave this as feedback during the beta or not...  but I am likely to homebrew this change in calculating the stats.

 

16 hours ago, sndwurks said:

It gets easier if you buy white d6 and d12 blanks, and then draw in the symbols using fine point sharpie markers, and a different color for each type of symbol (we use black for Success, red for Strife, green for Opportunity, and blue for Explosive Success). Also, less expensive than buying the dice from Fantasy Flight Games.

I actually seriously have a problem on some level with how their dice are laid out, from a visual contrast and graphic design perspective. I can't read the dice from across the table as a GM (which, being a GM with jokingly "eagle vision" and "calculator brain", is a weirdly vulnerable place for me), so I highly recommend this path.

The best part of the new dice system is that they incentivize choosing to fail at an action. The worst part of the new dice system is that taking ANY Action increases your chances of dying / exploding emotionally at the wrong time.

That is a good idea.  I've found my players are often confused between explosive success and opportunities, and between a success + opportunity and success + strife.  If I simply color coded the different symbols it could be much easier to read.  So simple...  thx for that suggestion buddy!

Edited by shosuko

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16 hours ago, ExplodingJoe said:

Some GM's don't like narrative approach, because it allows the loud mouth at the table to try to game how much they can automatically succeed at. I don't have one of those, so I don't mind

Agreed. The system is (I assume intentionally) looser than a lot, with the assumption that the players aren't playing silly buggers to wring every last advantage from a moment and the GM will step firmly on any excessive bovine-faeces hand-waving to justify using a completely illogical ring for a task. If that's not the case, though, given people's play reports in the beta, it can fall over quickly or at least generate a certain amount of ill-feeling.

How that reflects the players in a given group, is, obviously, variable. Games which are much more proscriptive in rules for both parties to the point where it's almost a players-versus-GM game (like some D&D descendants or, I guess, Imperial Assault) are better suited for a group like that.

7 hours ago, JBento said:

you can always say it's a jarring experience and take Strife anyways

This. In so far as it's a 'house rule', I guess, I consider Strife to encompass a degree of exhaustion too. That is, if someone is doing a load of checks related to physical tasks, then an unmasking is likely to be "collapsing from exhaustion" or "throwing in the towel" or similar - it almost becomes a 'clock' of how much you can get done in a non-conflict scene.

And yes, the GM (or player) can just give situational strife without dice being involved, as per P16 of the beta. I suspect "you murdered my father" and interacting with the individual is likely to trip Ninjo and/or Giri, too.

3 hours ago, shosuko said:

PS: I actually do have 1 gripe about the Strife system.  I don't like the way Composure is calculated.  Endurance is calculated with (Earth + Water) *2, while Composure is (Earth + Fire) *2.  Lion and Crab clans are both known as physically able, but emotionally less stable.  The Crane and Scorpion live by controlling their emotions...  The Scorpion and Crane clan bonuses of +1 Air leaves them as emotional twits when Air is probably the stat I would assign MOST to a steeled and calm demeanor in the face of utter destruction.  When you're cheating, baiting, beguiling, ect is when you are most in control of your emotions.  I think Composure should be (Air + Fire) *2.  I don't remember if I gave this as feedback during the beta or not...  but I am likely to homebrew this change in calculating the stats.

Someone certainly mentioned it in the beta - not sure if it was you. I would also approve, if only because it means each non-void ring is used once in calculating your 'hit point' stats, which helps avoid the system having a 'best ring'.

In the same way, I'd rather have the ring for recovering strife and recovering fatigue be different. Recovering Strife with Void would make a certain amount of sense.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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As others have pointed out, the book hasn't been widely released yet, so this isn't a "full review", but my FLGS already has em on the shelves, so I got my copy and can offer a few thoughts based on RAW.

 Strife

Overall I like Strife, but I agree with @sndwurks point that the game missed an opportunity with Strife, because that RAW doesn't assign strife for many personally important events. RAW does say that players or the GM can assign (their) PCs with Strife at narratively appropriate points, but doesn't give any guidelines for doing so. I've got a couple ideas about a little system to determine how much strife is assigned based on the importance/severity of the event, but I've gotta tinker with it. 

Character Creation

Tenchi2a exaggerates the extent to which character creation (20 questions) turns L5R into "rigged fill in the blanks" (as long as our reference point is 4e and not, say, Fate). As with 4e, 5e assigns ring and skill values based on choices like family and school; it assigns them at different times, but the process is very similar. 

The only truly narratively binary choice is #7, "What is your character's relationship with their clan?", where you choose between being a model member for +5 glory, or having a fundamental disagreement for a new skill. Other binary choices aren't narratively binary. There are two other "pick A or B" questions, but they aren't narratively binary (they imply more of a spectrum). 

Of course, you don't get 40 XP to customize your character with more skills ranks, ring ranks, and advantages/disadvantages; while 20 questions might therefore appear to offer players significantly/meaningfully less freedom than 4e, it doesn't, because: 

  • Skills in this edition are broader than 4e; having a skill in 5e represents competence in more activities compared to 4e skills
    • If you find the list too broad, the RAW provides details on adding narrower sub-skills
  • The game is less granular; one skill or ring rank represents more competence than one rank in 4e
  • Advantages and disadvantages use a whole new system. Players can invent their own (what? freedom to make the character you want?) or select from a list.
    • Notably, they don't give or cost XP (4e disadvantage XP values NOT worth the trouble they caused; you could only take 10 XP worth of disads, which is just 1.5-2.5 game sessions, depending on how much XP your GM handed out)
    • The new advantage system also protects player freedom by avoiding "auto buy" advantages--in 4e, if you didn't take Prodigy, you were Doing It Wrong. 

Character creation is also probably the most hackable part of the game. No reason the GM can't hand out some extra XP at the end of character creation so players can customize a little. 

Character advancement

5e has done away with the silly Insight system. Now, you advance in school rank as you spend XP.

Derived Attributes (endurance, composure, focus, vigilance) 

I know some folks wish certain derived attributes were calculated a different way. I'd like to point out a design principle that I haven't seen mentioned: the derived attributes use each of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth twice--once with each "neighbor" element, and never with the "opposite" element. For example, Air is used with Water (to calculate vigilance) and Fire (to calculate Focus), but never with Earth. Thus, these calculations have a sort of symmetry or elegance.

If you change a calculation, consider how it skews the symmetry. For example, don't simply change Composure form (Earth + Water)x2 to (Fire + Water)x2; this change means fire is used 3 times, earth is used only 1 time, and Fire and Water are used together (opposites).

The most straightforward house rule would to be to keep the ring pairings the same, just switch which parings are used for which attribute. For example, you could trade Composure's Earth + Water for Vigilance's Air + Water (meaning all four of these rings are used in your "hit points" attributes"), and then come up with some justification for the trade based on the themes of the rings.

If you change the derived attributes, consider how changing them might impact NPC templates.

Edited by sidescroller
My gerbil complained

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1 hour ago, sidescroller said:

Advantages and disadvantages use a whole new system. Players can invent their own (what? freedom to make the character you want?) or select from a list.

  • Notably, they don't give or cost XP (4e disadvantage XP values NOT worth the trouble they caused; you could only take 10 XP worth of disads, which is just 1.5-2.5 game sessions, depending on how much XP your GM handed out)
  • The new advantage system also protects player freedom by avoiding "auto buy" advantages--in 4e, if you didn't take Prodigy, you were Doing It Wrong. 

Plus you can - if they've followed the beta approach - get them forcibly dropped on you or earned mid-game; dropping to a particularly low honour, for example, meant you ended up with extra disadvantage(s) appropriate to your specific dishonourable nature.

1 hour ago, sidescroller said:

I know some folks wish certain derived attributes were calculated a different way. I'd like to point out a design principle that I haven't seen mentioned: the derived attributes use each of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth twice--once with each "neighbor" element, and never with the "opposite" element. For example, Air is used with Water (to calculate vigilance) and Fire (to calculate Focus), but never with Earth. Thus, these calculations have a sort of symmetry or elegance.

That's perfect. Yes, with four derived stats - vigilance/focus for initiative and endurance/composure for 'hit points' you can do it that way, so it's great to see that they have done. It leaves the only 'odd one out' as void, which is important on its own for a whole slew of reasons.

1 hour ago, sidescroller said:

My gerbil complained 

More of a Genesys player, is it?

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