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Suimaru

Phoenix Shugenja advice

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So, I'm planning to make a Phoenix Shugenja of the Isawa Family, so they'll be in the Isawa Elementalist school, having a hard time decided on the rings I want to focus on. Is it better to have an overall balance or should I go for two rings being higher than others? Which ring(s) would be better to have at 3 starting out? Sorry if this is in the wrong place.

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For starters, you star with Void 2 from the Clan bonus, and that's good. Void Points are love Void Points are life in the early game, the Seize the Moment +1k1 can decide the fate of your character at this point. 

The rest is tough. I have very good experience with the 3/3/2/1/1 starting Ring setup (two Rings at 3, one Ring at 2, two Rings at 1) and I would advocate for it here too. So the question is ,which two Rings should be at 3? 

  • Air 3 is good because Air Invocations are good and the Air Stance early on is okayish. However, its Approaches are pretty bad for a starting character and the Ring has a tendency for being slate and hard to play. You might want to think about this. 
  • Earth 3 is 'meh' because while its Approaches are pretty good, the rest is pretty 'meh' for you: you don't have to bother with Endurance and Composure (the two derived attributes related to Earth), the Earth Invocations are not that good, and Earth Stance is almost useless for you. I wouldn't advise this. 
  • Fire 3 is okayish because while Fire Invocations mostly do one thing (blast your enemies with fire) they do that very well, and the Fire Opportunities are pretty useful. The Fire Approaches are also good for a starting character (except Incite, that one is bad). If you expect lots of fighting then take this. 
  • Water 3 is very good because it is generally good all-around and there are no real drawbacks for it, except maybe the Water Opportunities being a little lackluster for you. The Water Invocations are good, the Water Stance can be very useful, the Water Approaches are all good, it is just a solid Ring overall. Highly advised option. 
  • Void 3 is... oh boy, this one is hard. For one, it gives you more Void Points, the Void Approaches are awesome, and the Void Opportunities are even better. HOWEVER (and this is a big counterpoint), there are no Void Invocations. I wouldn't take this, Void 2 is enough for a starting character. 

As such, I would go either Air 3 / Earth 1 / Fire 1 / Water 3 / Void 2 or Air 1 / Earth 1 / Fire 3 / Water 3 / Void 2. The former is more of a support build while the latter is more combat-oriented. 

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10 hours ago, Suimaru said:

So, I'm planning to make a Phoenix Shugenja of the Isawa Family, so they'll be in the Isawa Elementalist school, having a hard time decided on the rings I want to focus on. Is it better to have an overall balance or should I go for two rings being higher than others? Which ring(s) would be better to have at 3 starting out? Sorry if this is in the wrong place.

The best rings to start at 3 are, in order, Water -> Fire -> Earth -> Air -> Void for similar reasons as @AtoMaki pointed out. The best rings to focus on your career, however, is a tricky question, especially for Shugenja. The best bet is to first start with a balanced approach trying to bring all rings to 3 or at least some flavor of a 33332 spread. Shugenja should focus on Void a tad even if it doesn't have any Invocations, because Void rules:

Though the ring to go for that 5 later on? Any of them is fine, but keep the following in mind:

Air: Has the best/most versatile invocation set, is the best ring to fight at range (which is something Shugenja usually do) and has decent usage/approaches/opportunities with Scholar/Social/Artisan skills. Highly recommended ring to focus on for Shugenja.

Fire: Most invocations can cause Burning, which is one of the best debuffs to apply on enemies, but invocations are usually not that useful outside of combat. Either way, has some pretty powerful invocations like Armor of Radiance. Also has decent approaches/usage/opps with most skills.

Earth: Probably the worst invocation set unless it is a Shadowlands campaign, but a decent ring to stay safe in conflicts (Air is better at this though). Good support ring for helping others, but not very good at accomplishing things on its own.

Water: Almost as good as Air for invocations and the best ring for strife and fatigue management. It's approaches/opps (especially on Scholar) although good aren't as immediate as Air, however.

Earth is probably the worst ring for Shugenja and the one that should be dumped if you are looking to optimize. Air-Water should be focused and Void should be as high as you can justify getting it later on. But don't sleep/dump Fire since it is a good ring. The starting spreads above are good. 33332 with 2 Earth should probably become your focus for ranks 1-3, then, you should bump either Air/Void or Water/Void depending on what Invocation set you liked more and how you are liking to play your character.

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