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RMDanks

First Session Review

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Our group just finished our first session. Here's what we thought:

  • It became painfully obvious early on that stats rule this game. Our first half-dozen or so rolls were resolved with 0 successes scored. But with how fast the PCs built up strife from rolls when they were successful, it might be better to roll less dice. (It's an odd thing that we're learning to play with.)
  • The game does a fantastic job of providing meaningful drama. The group was so concerned about their honor and glory that they didn't act like murder hobos, as D&D had trained them to act. In fact, they felt like there were consequences everywhere, which helped it feel like a real drama and not something forced like some other games.
  • The Scorpion was disappointed that lying pinged his honor, even if it was half of what it does everyone else, but he quickly learned how to speak in circles and half-truths.
  • Our single duel (to first strike) ended with our Kakita duelist victorious over a notable ronin (Trained Ashigaru Investigator stats with a katana). Even people not involved in the scene were enraptured due to the stakes and how the processes kept the tension up.
  • Some things, like intrigue scenes, were hard for us. We ended up reducing the first one to a series of checks, but the second was handled a bit better.
  • We had an amazing scene where one of the players was trying to cool off after almost becoming compromised. He sat by a river bank and meditated. Another PC followed him out of the sak´e house they were in, purchased some tea from a street vendor, and sat with him. She set the cup in front of him and stayed quiet, knowing that calling him out on the emotions he was trying to hold back would dishonor him. They just sat there by the river bank, leaving everything unsaid but supporting each other. It felt perfectly appropriate for the setting.

 

I obviously need to study up on how honor works a bit more, and scheme actions (like can Fanning the Flames be used during a skirmish?). But other than a few mishaps, we really enjoyed the game. Everyone is looking forward to playing the next one, and one of our number who often plays combat-oriented characters is thinking of investing heavily in courtier skills.

Overall, two thumbs way up from my group!

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4 hours ago, RMDanks said:

But with how fast the PCs built up strife from rolls when they were successful, it might be better to roll less dice.

On that, do note that you don’t have to keep all the dice you’re entitled to keep ;)

You only have to keep at least one (unless you’re Compromised and roll only Strife).

 

Oh and Fanning the Flames and other Shuji / abilities linked to social skill rolls are perfectly legit to use in skirmish :D It’s even recommended. My favorite: use it with the Challenge action, daze the target and give them extra Strife even before the clash starts!

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8 hours ago, RMDanks said:
  • It became painfully obvious early on that stats rule this game. Our first half-dozen or so rolls were resolved with 0 successes scored. But with how fast the PCs built up strife from rolls when they were successful, it might be better to roll less dice. (It's an odd thing that we're learning to play with.)

Stats obviously matter. That said, normally players should know the TN before rolling and I would suggest that in many cases they should know more or less how hard something is and what the best approach would be before deciding to do it. In some cases it's probably a good idea to allow them to prepare for the "big roll" by laying some ground work to either give them a bonus or reduce the TN - negotiations come to mind, with shrewd courtiers finding out what could make the other side more amenable and pursuing that first.

It could just be that you had a bunch of bad rolls at first (you should on average get a little over one success for every two dice rolled - with small dice pools that's not very reliable, but figuring out the odds is not hard). I do think that players being realistic in their expectations of what characters can do and GMs being correct about sharing information about checks should result in checks succeeding more often than not. 

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