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

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Tenebrae said:

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.

Yup, that is basically how to handle it. Using the setting and changing the situations. It still feels like major crutch most of the time though, and is not really friendly to new players.
But yes; using the setting, being a good GM that likes to put that extra work in, and having good players that are not looking at breaking rules can make it work.

Basically, the rules are making it harder, they are an hindrance, instead of facilitating different playstyles.

All your ideas is what I am doing to deal with, well, stuff that can break certain types of encounters. Basically, not using those encounters (or only as push overs) and designing situations in which the players cannot use their tools (or at great cost, honor, status or else).

I do not think it is good design (far from it!) but that doesn't mean it is unplayable.... It just is, very finicky. 

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)

So - having had a chance to read and digest.... I love the sheer amount of 'stuff' in this book.

Yes, Fortune Hunter and Shield Bearer have issues (the latter more to do with the shield they get than anything) but there's a huge amount of things to digest.

The new kata are great.

Now I understand the flaw associated with 'if there's a technique that does this, you can't do it unless you have the technique' - but normally I go with 'you can, but it'll be harder and/or not as good' and even just having some quick-reference guidance or inspiration is nice. So I'm as much treating this as 'how to do this in game' as 'unlockable options'.

Stuff like Improvised Assault (which lets you use an improvised weapon as something other than an improvised knife or club but it's going to break) and Chaotic Scattering to create terrain conditions. There's a lot of proper Errol Flynn/Jackie Chan/Toshiro Mifune stuff in here (attacking whilst swinging from a rope, anyone?), and that makes fights a lot more fun because the overarching goal is to avoid PCs trading potato-sack-thumping strike actions, D&D fashion.

Stuff like Watch My Back! and Tonight, I am Your Opponent are also very characterful (I like that the latter specifically calls out shared bonds, too).

 

I also like the fact that Sins of Regret finishes with a massed battle. It's the first more-detailed work through of a mass battle since the beta, and it's nice to have some new sample armies, each with its own non-standard rules. Seeing several armies on one side also looks nice - and frankly makes more sense, as it provides a more elegant way to have one chunk of an army destroyed than one army with a massive number of cohorts.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Posted (edited)

Regarding duels. According to the conflict chapter, a duel is not necessarily a formal challenge between two individuals but a fight between two individuals that may or may not have a formal agreement and a judge. My first duel under the new rules was when I went on a roundabout way back to my liege’s castle (in the east) by first going south to visit the castle of a rival daimyō and I sent a letter beforehand telling them I was going. I met his daughter on the way and insulted her enough (a intrigue conflict) to make her draw first, thus making sure that after I killed her, I could always argue that she drew first. It was, by the settings, an illegal duel, but rule wise, it was still a duel.

Edited by Diogo Salazar

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

Regarding duels. By the conflict chapter, a duel is not necessarily a formal challenge between two individuals but a fight between two individuals that may or may not have a formal agreement and a judge.

Correct. Just to be 'a duel' requires it to be a one-on-one fight with a start-of-round staredown, no range limitations, and the specific 'duel' actions rather than 'skirmish' ones. A one-on-one clash during a skirmish or mass battle can be a duel, too.

Anything else (permission from your lord, etc) is not 'rules' so much as 'etiquette' and is by agreement between the parties (or by dictate of the presiding lord, if there is one).

Agreeing terms of a duel is actually not an unreasonable scope for an intrigue as a separate conflict scene before the duel itself - if your courtier can agree 'formal court iaijutsu rules' (the stuff from Courts of Stone) then the armoured crab will be deeply annoyed, whilst if a mirumoto duellist is presented with a tetsubo and told 'last one conscious wins', they're likely to be in a bad place....

20 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

My first duel under the new rules was when I went on a roundabout way back to my liege’s castle (in the east) by first going south to visit the castle of a rival daimyō and I sent a letter beforehand telling them I was going.

Fair enough. Technically, you should have waited for permission to enter the Daimyo's lands (unless you were sticking to an Imperial Highway) but bad behaviour doesn't make the plan unworkable.

20 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

I met his daughter on the way and insulted her enough (a intrigue conflict) to make her draw first, thus making sure that after I killed her, I could always argue that she drew first.

Fair enough. Obviously, deliberately insulting someone with the intent of provoking a duel is mildly dishonourable, but assuming you were doing it to further your lord's ends, were endangering yourself in the resulting duel, and weren't just doing it 'for teh lulz' the honour gain and loss probably balance out (depending on your clan and the exact insults used).

20 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

It was, by the settings, an illegal duel, but rule wise, it was still a duel.

It was. And whilst the duel was illegal, if she drew and attacked you, the fault is hers, not yours. You're supposed to get your lord's permission before issuing or accepting a formal challenge, not before defending yourself against a murderous attack.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Posted (edited)

Exactly, because I didn't want to dishonor my daimyō with requesting for this kind of duel (because it's an intra-clan rivalry), so, if I failed, he could always argue truthfully that he didn't know anything, and if I succeeded, he could argue that I was only defending myself.

It's a Crane campaign, my character was the "prodigy" of his gempukku class at the Kakita Academy and I had low Honor to begin with (high 30s, low 40s). My idea of advancement for the character was to become a Dreaded Enforcer (becoming the "attack dog" of my daimyō) but the end result of this duel (which I lost, but survived) created a whole new opportunity (pun intended) because my finishing blow roll was a karmic strike with a Void roll of 4 opportunities.

Anyway, my point was. If, for some reason, you are playing some gaijin/Unicorn/Crab campaign with a Qamarist Shield Bearer. It can be a pain for the GM to create an interesting challenge for the party. There's no GM vs players sentiment here. It's just the fact that with a QSB character in the midst, the players might not be challenged at all because one of them can literally act like a wall and prevent any enemies of doing anything.

Edited by Diogo Salazar

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

It can be a pain for the GM to create an interesting challenge for the party. There's no GM vs players sentiment here. It's just the fact that with a QSB character in the midst, the players might not be challenged at all because one of them can literally act like a wall and prevent any enemies of doing anything.

Not necessarily - you can allow for it via various nasty tricks, and it's hard for the shield bearer to protect anyone else (if they use a guard action then they can't simultaneously use their shield, even in water stance, as both are support actions) - but it's more that you have to always allow for it in any skirmish, just like you have to allow for a Treasure Hunter in any Intrigue in a party containing one, which throws off the balance because anything which can offer them a 'fair fight' is very dangerous indeed for anyone else.

The easiest way to deal with a Qamarist Shield Bearer in a lot of situations is basically to have the NPCs point and scream "Gaijin!!!!!!" and have the Qamarist PC spend the next few scenes trying to evade a rampaging hundreds-strong heimin lynch mob. But that may be a little unfair on them.:ph34r:

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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1 hour ago, Magnus Grendel said:

The easiest way to deal with a Qamarist Shield Bearer in a lot of situations is basically to have the NPCs point and scream "Gaijin!!!!!!" and have the Qamarist PC spend the next few scenes trying to evade a rampaging hundreds-strong heimin lynch mob. But that may be a little unfair on them.:ph34r:

And that is what L5R RPG is all about. Hard counter the cheese with cheesier cheese! Make then unable to use their abilities!

"Oh you want to challenge the big NPC with your shield and bragging that your combat style is better?" "OK! My big NPC have a technique to make you drop your shield! Or, he wins a social check and make you fight without the shield!" MUHAHAHA

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8 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

So - having had a chance to read and digest.... I love the sheer amount of 'stuff' in this book.

Yes, Fortune Hunter and Shield Bearer have issues (the latter more to do with the shield they get than anything) but there's a huge amount of things to digest.

The new kata are great.

Now I understand the flaw associated with 'if there's a technique that does this, you can't do it unless you have the technique' - but normally I go with 'you can, but it'll be harder and/or not as good' and even just having some quick-reference guidance or inspiration is nice. So I'm as much treating this as 'how to do this in game' as 'unlockable options'.

Stuff like Improvised Assault (which lets you use an improvised weapon as something other than an improvised knife or club but it's going to break) and Chaotic Scattering to create terrain conditions. There's a lot of proper Errol Flynn/Jackie Chan/Toshiro Mifune stuff in here (attacking whilst swinging from a rope, anyone?), and that makes fights a lot more fun because the overarching goal is to avoid PCs trading potato-sack-thumping strike actions, D&D fashion.

Stuff like Watch My Back! and Tonight, I am Your Opponent are also very characterful (I like that the latter specifically calls out shared bonds, too).

 

I also like the fact that Sins of Regret finishes with a massed battle. It's the first more-detailed work through of a mass battle since the beta, and it's nice to have some new sample armies, each with its own non-standard rules. Seeing several armies on one side also looks nice - and frankly makes more sense, as it provides a more elegant way to have one chunk of an army destroyed than one army with a massive number of cohorts.

 

Besides the new character options, was the material in chapters one and six useful?  Has it given you ideas for putting your three emerald magistrates and the scorpion tag-along into some challenging situations?  Did you find chapters four and five on Twin Blessing Village and Hirosaka as useful as I did?

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Posted (edited)

@Magnus Grendel yeah, that's the cheese that @Avatar111 is talking about and addressing @Tenebrae that trying to pose a challenging conflict to your players is not bad GMing, it's pretty what the GM is supposed to be doing. And yes, if a given character is pretty much broken because of a single gear or technique and the GM pretty much has to find excuses to keep taking away their toy or countering it because that's the only the players can have a challenge, I would argue it's not te GM's fault, but indeed a fault of the game.

Edited by Diogo Salazar

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3 hours ago, neilcell said:

Besides the new character options, was the material in chapters one and six useful?  Has it given you ideas for putting your three emerald magistrates and the scorpion tag-along into some challenging situations?  Did you find chapters four and five on Twin Blessing Village and Hirosaka as useful as I did?

Twin blessings looks interesting. As noted, the fact that Path of Waves is "visit one" and then Sins of Regret is "visit two.....blimey it's gone downhill, hasn't it?" makes for a good addition to a campaign, and I'll definitely look at using it! I'm not sure where it'll end up located in practice....

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15 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

And yes, if a given character is pretty much broken because of a single gear or technique and the GM pretty much has to find excuses to keep taking away their toy or countering it because that's the only the players can have a challenge, I would argue it's not te GM's fault, but indeed a fault of the game.

Not disagreeing. I raised the point in another thread about shiba bodyguards - with a specific heritage, they can have Lord Shiba's Valour and The Body Is An Anvil - the nasty combo of 'must attack me' and 'attacker's weapon is damaged'. But the QSB gets their shield and shield bash as automatic starting gear, and frankly without it wouldn't work as the archetype they're supposed to be. (It works too well and could be toned down, but you wouldn't want them NOT to have a shield as standard).

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4 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

And that is what L5R RPG is all about. Hard counter the cheese with cheesier cheese! Make then unable to use their abilities!

"Oh you want to challenge the big NPC with your shield and bragging that your combat style is better?" "OK! My big NPC have a technique to make you drop your shield! Or, he wins a social check and make you fight without the shield!" MUHAHAHA

We get it.  Please stop derailing every thread by endlessly repeating the same things over and over.  I would like to use these forums to get information to build a better campaign involving ronin and the outskirts of the Emerald Empire, but all I am getting is yet another thread about how a few people do not like certain aspects of the conflict and gear systems.  Is there anything I can do to get my questions answered without having to listen to a rehash of the same points that have been on every thread for the last year?

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1 hour ago, Diogo Salazar said:

that trying to pose a challenging conflict to your players is not bad GMing, it's pretty what the GM is supposed to be doing.

... and here I thought I was supposed to create an interesting story for my friends to enjoy.

So that's what I've been doing wrong all these decades! I was just supposed to pose a challenging conflict.

... which could be done with any old boardgame, really.

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1 hour ago, jalrin said:

We get it.  Please stop derailing every thread by endlessly repeating the same things over and over.  I would like to use these forums to get information to build a better campaign involving ronin and the outskirts of the Emerald Empire, but all I am getting is yet another thread about how a few people do not like certain aspects of the conflict and gear systems.  Is there anything I can do to get my questions answered without having to listen to a rehash of the same points that have been on every thread for the last year?

That was partially my fault.  I has asked them to elaborate.  Though I will agree it did not need more than about two or three before I got the idea.  if you want to be critical, blame me for opening that can of worms.

 

1 hour ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Twin blessings looks interesting. As noted, the fact that Path of Waves is "visit one" and then Sins of Regret is "visit two.....blimey it's gone downhill, hasn't it?" makes for a good addition to a campaign, and I'll definitely look at using it! I'm not sure where it'll end up located in practice....

Yeah.  I was thinking that if you ran Sins of Regret, then the alternative stats from the Village leader could be used elsewhere.  Same with the old lady of the plum orchard and some of the other characters with alternate stats.  A quick use would be to simply use some of them and the duplicated village locations to represent Nestled Village, the other village mentioned but not detailed in all three products.  Another would be to incorporate them into Laughing River Village from Emerald Empire.  Old canon had that village in Unicorn lands, so if that is a bit of a distance from where your characters are presently, you could change its location. 

Anyhow, I will stop pestering you with more of my ideas.  Thank you for sharing your insights.  It makes reading your campaign updates more enlightening.

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1 hour ago, Tenebrae said:

... and here I thought I was supposed to create an interesting story for my friends to enjoy.

So that's what I've been doing wrong all these decades! I was just supposed to pose a challenging conflict.

... which could be done with any old boardgame, really.

Well, if you want to be salty about it, yeah, I can do that.

Now if you are telling me that you can get to make an interesting story where your players are not being challenged, kudos to you, like a story where seven samurai go to a peasant village to help them protect it from bandits and all they need to do is a pep talk to the villagers and showing them that all they need to do is talk to the bandits and show that this kind of behavior is bullying and that it really hurts the villagers' feeling, sure the bandits are going to see the error of their way and leave them alone and the villagers will be so happy that they will give seven samurai all the rice they need for the pep talk.

Hey, all the power to you and your players.

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20 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

Well, if you want to be salty about it, yeah, I can do that.

That was the polite version, after two re-writes. I found your post (that I was replying to) very insulting, and tried not to escalate it.

Apparently I failed. For this, I shall exile myself from this forum for a while (days, probably).

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1 hour ago, Tenebrae said:

That was the polite version, after two re-writes. I found your post (that I was replying to) very insulting, and tried not to escalate it.

Apparently I failed. For this, I shall exile myself from this forum for a while (days, probably).

I appreciate your restraint.  You  are a better person than I am.  No doubt you have seen my few choice words when someone takes me to task.  I tip my hat to you that you act more like a samurai than I do.

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4 hours ago, jalrin said:

I would like to use these forums to get information to build a better campaign involving ronin and the outskirts of the Emerald Empire, but all I am getting is yet another thread about how a few people do not like certain aspects of the conflict and gear systems.

Where is your question?

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, jalrin said:

I would like to use these forums to get information to build a better campaign involving ronin and the outskirts of the Emerald Empire

And I'd definitely support getting this book for that. There's so much good stuff, even down to a cash price for travelling rations and discussions on getting around without a Lord to offer papers.

I think pairing it with sins of Regret is great as you get to see examples of stuff in action....

10 hours ago, neilcell said:

Anyhow, I will stop pestering you with more of my ideas.  Thank you for sharing your insights.  It makes reading your campaign updates more enlightening.

On the contrary. Discussions and ideas are always welcome. The fact that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and no storyline survives contact with the PCs (that's not just me, is it?), is no excuse for a GM not to put some skull sweat into planning between sessions, and the opportunity to gratuitously plagiar..... (ahem) "draw inspiration from" other minds on the forum is always welcome...

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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3 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

The fact that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and no storyline survives contact with the PCs (that's not just me, is it?), is no excuse for a GM not to put some skull sweat into planning between sessions, and the opportunity to gratuitously plagiar..... (ahem) "draw inspiration from" other minds on the forum is always welcome...

That’s my favorite paraphrasing of von Moltke, the Elder. 
Even the players themselves might change their plans according to how the  story and the dice unravel. In my current campaign, my character was a Failure of Compassion and anxious around heimin, now after almost dying in a duel and having connected to the Void momentarily, he is now trying to make amends and be a better person and now is in debt to the person who saved his life and has battle trauma.

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