Jump to content
neilcell

Path of Waves, the mandatory companion to Emerald Empire-Positive Feedback review

Recommended Posts

Though it took over a month, I have finished reading and digesting the contents of Path of Waves and its associated Adventure Sins of Regret and DLC Cresting Wave.  Well done, well done indeed,  More of this in the future please.

Now, as to why I call it the companion.  While Path of Waves can stand alone on its own merits, it also greatly supplements and completes the material that was missing in the Emerald Empire sourcebook.  While that book was a nice overview of the campaign setting, it lacked much of what was needed to put that material to immediate good use in a campaign once one completed the Beginner Game adventures.  The locations in Emerald Empire did not have enough structure to run adventures without lots of pre-planning.  This was especially true of the maps which did not have much going for them as far as story and motivation.  Path of Waves addressed that perfectly.

Chapter one's explanation of Ronin life acted as a nice contrast to the life of a Great Clan Samurai.  It made the distinctions and dichotomy very stark and therefore easier to run a Clan Samurai campaign. Sometimes you don't know what you have until it is gone, and that is precisely what chapter one lays bare for someone playing both Ronin and non-Ronin characters.  Again, this gave immediate usable material to incorporate into a game while Emerald Empire's background on the country was less immediately useful.

Chapters two and three, much like Emerald Empire's last chapter giving new player options was greatly appreciated.  As much as I would have liked to seen Western Europid Sailors, there is enough information and tools included to create mechanical rules for those who want to play a bata-kusai (I know, butter stinker is something of an insult, but I wear it as a badge of pride) Samurai such as William Adams, Jules Burnet, Eugène Collache, and Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn.

Chapters four and five are in my opinion, the bread and butter or meat and potatoes of the book.  These two chapters more than anything are why I say that the Emerald Empire sourcebook is incomplete without Path of Waves.  With the materials contained in chapter 4, I can make Laughing River Village(p108) and Lost Monk Road  Station(p127) in Emerald Empires into living, breathing and most importantly believable locations in a campaign.  Cresting Wave's additional encounters also add to them as well.  Chapter 5 makes Peaceful Hill City and the map of Emerald Magistrate Seppun Tatsuko useable.  On a related side-note, Sins of Regret makes Castle of Bright Dawn somewhat usable though it still lacks a story and a location to make it believable.  If the authors wish to add DLC to any of these locations, it would be greatly appreciated.  Even setting future retail adventures using any of the maps in Emerald Empire would be welcome.  Wrapping up my praise, these two chapters are what really makes Path of Waves worth its value.  They are how Emerald Empire should have been written and why I say that Path of Waves is the critical, nay mandatory companion.  I look forward to purchasing more materials like this.

Chapter six, while geared towards GMs I felt was an insider's look at what Chapter one was covering.  Again, it contained material that despite being geared towards Ronin/Gaijin campaigns still had great value to Great Clan adventures.  Such dual use material is appreciated.

Chapter seven was much appreciated because having readily created and balanced stats for NPCs is always a good thing.  It saves me time that can be spent creating the story rather than getting bogged down in the minutia of game mechanics.  You can never go wrong publishing more character blocks.

In summary, this was in my view, one of the best supplements that FFG has released for the game.  You have found a formula that works.  Don't reinvent the wheel.   Do more of it, please!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, neilcell said:

With the materials contained in chapter 4, I can make Laughing River Village(p108) and Lost Monk Road  Station(p127) in Emerald Empires into living, breathing and most importantly believable locations in a campaign.  Cresting Wave's additional encounters also add to them as well.  Chapter 5 makes Peaceful Hill City and the map of Emerald Magistrate Seppun Tatsuko useable.  On a related side-note, Sins of Regret makes Castle of Bright Dawn somewhat usable though it still lacks a story and a location to make it believable.  If the authors wish to add DLC to any of these locations, it would be greatly appreciated.  Even setting future retail adventures using any of the maps in Emerald Empire would be welcome.

Sounds awesome. The 'generic locations' - other than Tatsuko's estate - were something I was holding on to in case I ran a 'you're now a minor clan' campaign, and being able to flesh them out more is great.

5 hours ago, neilcell said:

As much as I would have liked to seen Western Europid Sailors, there is enough information and tools included to create mechanical rules for those who want to play a bata-kusai (I know, butter stinker is something of an insult, but I wear it as a badge of pride) Samurai such as William Adams, Jules Burnet, Eugène Collache, and Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn.

I always liked the book  Shogun, which is the civil war seen from the perspective of an Elizibethan sailor, Blackthorne.

5 hours ago, neilcell said:

Chapter one's explanation of Ronin life acted as a nice contrast to the life of a Great Clan Samurai.  It made the distinctions and dichotomy very stark and therefore easier to run a Clan Samurai campaign. Sometimes you don't know what you have until it is gone, and that is precisely what chapter one lays bare for someone playing both Ronin and non-Ronin characters.

Nice.. Can't wait to get my grubby mitts on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an adendum, Hirosaka's temple square can be adapted to flesh out Earth's Breath Monestary, Temple of Virtuous Thunders, and Mountain Stream Shrine.  Again much like Castle of the Bright Dawn, without a short background history, they need some attention by the GM to make them believeable, though Emerald Empire does give the Temple of Virtuous Thunders a location to work with.
 

8 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Sounds awesome. The 'generic locations' - other than Tatsuko's estate - were something I was holding on to in case I ran a 'you're now a minor clan' campaign, and being able to flesh them out more is great.


And that is a good use of them.  Thankfully Path of Waves makes it easier to expand them out as such given the suggestions listed in the introduction of both Twin Blessing Village and Hirosaka.  Seppun Tatsuko's Estate could easily fit into Twin Blessing Village or Hirosaka.  And since Path of Waves material can be imported and adapted so that it could fit in Peaceful Hill City or Laughing River Village. I recommend using the sections "Magistrate's Station" and Seppun Ishima for expanding on the Emerald Magistrate's Estate.

If I have more thoughts that I forgot to list here, I will likely share them in a further response.

 

1 hour ago, Myrion said:

Mostly inline. There's criticism of one school, but if that's OP, it's in a limited (but significant) area.

Shadowlands had power creep in the sense that it introduces siege weapons... 😉

If I may be so bold, what school and how was it OP?  Being forewarned is forearmed and so your observations will save me some headaches down the road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I think it's treasure hunter or something like that and how vigilance gets so high that most mid-rank characters can become immune to techniques that use vigilance as TN or as the value to reach on a momentum pool.

Edited by Diogo Salazar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, the Treasure Hunter gets to add school rank to Vigilance and Focus, unless Compromised.

They're supposed to be very observant, but it does make them very hard to target with certain abilities. Since I personally don't find the idea of the school fitting with My Rokugan™️ anyway, I just won't allow the school 😁 

I've heard our resident whiner complain about shields too, but I don't see it. They are a pretty good armour replacement (they notably do not stack!) and allow you to spend an action to make yourself harder to hit - which seems okay for a pretty rare item in Rokugan, given that you also give up a free hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/17/2020 at 11:07 AM, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

Yo, with all this social distancing, it would be a real kindness to release the pdf a little sooner.

Is there a way to just get an alert when it's available on RPGDriveThru?

Is there power creep or do these schools/techniques seem inline with the core rulebook?

Its out on Drive thru now.

You can actually follow a publisher or rules set on Drivethru and when they upload new content you then get a notification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/18/2020 at 10:59 AM, Myrion said:

They are a pretty good armour replacement (they notably do not stack!) and allow you to spend an action to make yourself harder to hit - which seems okay for a pretty rare item in Rokugan, given that you also give up a free hand.

At first glance the heavy shield does look a bit harsh. Most shields let you hunker down and add TN+1 to attacks on you. The Qamarist heavy shield adds TN+3, which is a huge difference, especially in air stance.

It is a very rare and un-rokugani item, but keep an eye on it because it seems really potent and I don't see much of a downside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it’s seems right out OP, even if it’s just to say it’s really rare and from outside Rokugan, you can get TN6 to be hit in Air Stance or just go to Water Stance, attack and hunker down behind the shield. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have to stay in Water stance the whole time and you cannot move more than one range band, allowing your enemies to stay out of your range and put strife on you or build up advantages until it doesn't matter that you have a shield. 

They can immobilize you, use Rushing Avalanche style, Breaking Blow to destroy the shield, use Grasp of Earth and some opportunities to target the guy next to you and still affect you, summon Wall of Earth underneath you, and that's before we get to other elements or NPC abilities.

It's powerful, sure, but not OP. And again, it's a decidedly un-Rokugani item that is rarer than anything in the core book to begin with. If you're playing in a region of the world where it's more common, perhaps there are more threats that can reduce the TN of attack actions, so such a shield becomes a life-saver. Or more AoE attacks, making the resistance it provides the most important thing.

At any rate, I'm not worried about (most) theoretical issues in RPG until they come up in play repeatedly. (Some are obviously too broken, but that's more stuff that doesn't work/do what it should.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Myrion said:

You have to stay in Water stance the whole time and you cannot move more than one range band, allowing your enemies to stay out of your range and put strife on you or build up advantages until it doesn't matter that you have a shield. 

They can immobilize you, use Rushing Avalanche style, Breaking Blow to destroy the shield, use Grasp of Earth and some opportunities to target the guy next to you and still affect you, summon Wall of Earth underneath you, and that's before we get to other elements or NPC abilities.

It's powerful, sure, but not OP. And again, it's a decidedly un-Rokugani item that is rarer than anything in the core book to begin with. If you're playing in a region of the world where it's more common, perhaps there are more threats that can reduce the TN of attack actions, so such a shield becomes a life-saver. Or more AoE attacks, making the resistance it provides the most important thing.

At any rate, I'm not worried about (most) theoretical issues in RPG until they come up in play repeatedly. (Some are obviously too broken, but that's more stuff that doesn't work/do what it should.)

Your way of thinking about it is exactly why the game is badly designed.

You have a player that have that qamarist shield. As a GM, you have to find ways to play around it, or add a technique from your "list", to beat it, in EVERY encounters you do or NPC you have. The shield becomes a crutch. And everytime the player will feel like "ok, what is the GM coming up with to counter my shield this time".

This is awful gameplay. Like straight up garbage design.

Does it matter? Bah, no, you can always "deal with it". But to call it good design is laughable. This game is a turd in so many aspects. Doesn't mean it can't be played... There is a GM to compensate after all.

Edited by Avatar111

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

As a GM, you have to find ways to play around it, or add a technique from your "list", to beat it, in EVERY encounters you do or NPC you have.

Why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Tenebrae said:

Why?

Because the player will always have the qamarist shield. So in every encounter you will face the issue of having to deal with it.

To deal with it, you need to add techniques to your npc, or use cheese, or whatever. Lets say this character goes out there and start challenging others to duels. But he stick to his water ring and just attack and heal strife. Now, you, as a GM, needs to find a way to "beat that cheese". And I can guarantee you it will feel forced and not fun for the player.

The "shield" is only one example. There are so many totally busted designs in the game that as a GM you have to do gymnastic all the time.

For sure, those problems are not really apparent when you play mostly narrative and all players agree on some sort of honor code.

But that really doesn't excuse the weakness ands flaws of the design.

You cannot call this "good design". You can maybe say "there are ways to deal with it as a GM". But thats about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

But that really doesn't excuse the weakness ands flaws of the design.

You cannot call this "good design". You can maybe say "there are ways to deal with it as a GM". But thats about it.

I mean every passable RPG should be capable of having ways the GM to deal with it, but yes, a revised core is sorely needed to fix at least the conflict chapter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

To deal with it, you need to add techniques to your npc, or use cheese, or whatever. Lets say this character goes out there and start challenging others to duels. But he stick to his water ring and just attack and heal strife. Now, you, as a GM, needs to find a way to "beat that cheese". And I can guarantee you it will feel forced and not fun for the player.

Well, duels aren't too big a deal as you're much more entitled to restrict weapons in a duel scene. 

But yes, in a skirmish TN+3 feels way too big. I'm genuinely not sure why it's not TN+1 like other shields - the additional protection from it being a 'heavy' shield comes from the inherent resistance value (both physical and supernatural). Even TN+2 is a big jump (equivalent to a very competent guard action). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Qamarist Heavy Shield is an item issued to the "specially trained guards" and are "produced by the` master crafters and alchemists of the caliph".  Honestly, if I was going to write them up, I'd say reduce the TN modifier to +2 and remove the supernatural resistance.  Then, create an item pattern for, say "Qamarist Alchemical Steel" that grants supernatural resistance and +1 TN modifier when applied to armour or shields, in exchange for removing durable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For whatever reason the qamarist shield only requires a movement action to use the ability, while other shields require other types of actions, I think. Its just so all over the place.

It definitely is very strong. But beyond "strong" ... (which is something that happens in most rpg with ton of gear and without the design quality of d&d), the issue is one of gameplay. The rock/paper/scissor gameplay of L5R is problematic on many levels. There are many techniques, stance, opportunities, gear or what not that create a hard situation for the GM in which you have to compensate for all that cheese by throwing cheese yourself; "allright, my player have a sacred weapon, well, I can't put ghost now because they become irrelevant and easy to beat". Or, "oh, my player have Bind The Shadows, so I cannot really put otherwordly creatures that fight in this or that stance otherwise they immobilize them for the whole scene, or a full year. Or, "oh, my big crab player have a laquered armor and fight in earth stance? I guess I cannot really put him against this or that npc because they will have no chance to do anything... Ok, I'll give them this technique to counter the player..."

The more you play (and at higher ranks) the more you "feel" these problems with the design. It is so mechanically swingy and binary that it becomes tedious for the GM to deal with all that, and it feels very cheap for the players when the GM come up with a bad excuse to "nerf" or "counter" one of the PC capability that is screwing up with tons of encounter possibilities.

Anyway, it is what it is.. both l5r rpg and lcg are wonky designs. I guess you need to overlook that a bit and enjoy the setting/art.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

Because the player will always have the qamarist shield. So in every encounter you will face the issue of having to deal with it.

To deal with it, you need to add techniques to your npc, or use cheese, or whatever. Lets say this character goes out there and start challenging others to duels. But he stick to his water ring and just attack and heal strife. Now, you, as a GM, needs to find a way to "beat that cheese". And I can guarantee you it will feel forced and not fun for the player.

The "shield" is only one example. There are so many totally busted designs in the game that as a GM you have to do gymnastic all the time.

For sure, those problems are not really apparent when you play mostly narrative and all players agree on some sort of honor code.

But that really doesn't excuse the weakness ands flaws of the design.

You cannot call this "good design". You can maybe say "there are ways to deal with it as a GM". But thats about it.

I'm not saying it's good design. Frag, I haven't even read it yet.

However!

Do make it irrelevant in every encounter. That makes your player feel stupid or like your their enemy. Which is absolutely horrible GMing.  Rather, let your player have his fun. Let him feel like he accomplished something, like he did something smart. Then deal with it.

Eg move into the intrigue-space that this edition of L5R looks more relevant for. If you bring a shield to court, it can be a curiousum, but if you try to use it in a fight, that's a faux pas. If you use it in a duel (outside of Unicorn or maybe Crab lands), that's an instant loss and an insult to your lord. Duels are not just fights, they are very formalized interactions. Break the social rules around them, and you can actually forfeit the fight (and your life) before even seeing your opponent. But in doing so, you have brought dishonour to your lord, who gave you permission to duel. Etc.

You don't have to defeat it. You just have to deal with it. To be honest, I'd see it as being more valuable as a gift to some lord than as a piece of combat gear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...