Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Online L5R

So I am going to be trying to restart the L5R game with the new low powered characters.  I will be putting an initial post on the blog (assuming I can still get it to work - I seem to have a backdoor in to Blogger that is working).  After the initial post, I will allow individual characters to start email threads for their interactions.  Here are the basic groundrules:
  • You can only say what your character does, never what anyone else's does, or what the NPCs do. 
  • If you want a private conversation with another character, you must include me in the chat so that I can still arbitrate as GM.
  • If character positions have been described (you are all in the main hall at a tea ceremony), you have to describe on the general  thread (the one with everyone on it) how you separate yourselves or how you perform your private chat before doing it (eg - Rikimaru and Ayame are at a meeting with their lord's rival and two other PCs.  Rikimaru wants to speak to Ayame privately so he gestures to her.  They both get up, bow and leave - have their chat in a private email conversation - then come back.  The rudeness of this action could have severe consequence, so be careful how you excuse yourself.)
  • If you need advice on etiquette, I will give it to you before your action based on how good your etiquette skill is, but once you send something out in character, it's done and you must live (or die) with the consequences - no "backsies" :)
  • In order to expedite the die rolling issues that come online, I will be instituting an automatic success rule,  which will be detailed below.  Basically, I will give you a number and if your skill and trait match up with the number (or exceed it), you automatically succeed.  I will work out a mechanic for raises as well.  This does take some of the risk out of it, and if you still want to have dice rolled, you may.  I will probably not allow as many raises under the automatic success rule, and this rule will not be in place during live gaming sessions.
  • You cannot change your character without GM permission, so to buy up a skill, you must ask me.  It will be possible to buy up a skill during an adventure (say after a gaming session, even though the actual adventure is not concluded) but this will require a die roll; details forthcoming.
  • I will be posting a few house rules as well, that I will include in a word document - it is incumbent upon everyone to be familiar with those rules.  I will also post the abbreviated L5R rules with it - if you have any rules questions, be sure to ask before stating what you are doing; as I said before, once you type it and send it, your character did it.
I am going to try to figure out a way for us to have updateable L5R sheets online, too, and I am playing with some skirmish rules that I want to test for bigger fights (where we can move miniatures around and fight, but not get so bogged down in minutiae that it stops being fun).  Below are the preliminary auto-success rules:

For any skill roll simpl take your trait and add the bonus from the chart below.
Rank        Auto Success Bonus
0                          -2
1                         +0
2 to 3                  +1
4 to 5                  +2
6 to 7                  +3
8 to 9                  +4
10                       +5

If you have an emphasis, add 1 to the Auto Success Number.  To this total add the relevant trait.  This total is compared to the number I assign the task.  If you meet or exceed the number, then you succeed at the skill.  It would be helpful to have each of your skills pre-converted (just write a parenthetical value by the skill on your sheet.

Example 1:  Toku Kurekita is looking for evidence of a crime.  The GM says that it is a Per/Investigation number of 3.  Kurekita's Perception trait is 2, and his investigation skill is 1 (giving him a value of +0) which means his total is 2 - he does not succeed.

Example 2:  Kitsuki Hanegawa is seaching the same room Kurekita is, but Hanegawa's Per is 3 and his investigation is 4 (giving a +2), so his total is 5 - he succeeds in finding the evidence and the GM emails his player the info that Hanegawa found.

You can make up to a number of raises equal to your (Void - 2).  To make a raise, just add one to the Auto Success Number that the GM gives per raise.

Example 3:  Kitsuke Hanegawa has a Void of 3, so he can make one raise, raising the Auto Success Number to 4, and since he still has a 5 total, he succeeds, and gets more detailed info.

Note that the player could have made up to 3 raises if he had rolled (or had the GM roll for him) and this would have been a reasonable option.  He would not know the TN for the roll (and it is not a strait linear conversion, so don't necessarily try to guess), but because his Trait and Skill are both high, he might want to make more raises and risk the roll. 

If your skill is zero, you cannot make a raise.

Hopefully, this makes some sense, and it would help to write the bonus out on your sheet for each of your skills, so that you can come up with your total quickly if you need it.

Test Blog

This is a test. I have been having difficulties accessing my blogs, so I have backdoored a way in and I am seeing if it works

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Revised Weapons

The rules listed below supersede the rules in the 3rd edition revised L5R book. They are what we will be using from now on. Each weapon is listed in the 3rd ed. revised on the page given in parentheses. This is so you can see a picture, see the cost, or get a more complete description.

Each weapon will be classed by how many hands it takes to use. Details are listed below.

1-handed: The weapon is generally wielded in one hand. Characters with the small disadvantage may use the weapon in two hands, and reduce the strength minimum by 1 when doing so.

1 and 1/2-handed: The weapon is designed to be wielded with two hands to maximum effect, but may be wielded in one hand. If you wield the weapon with two hands, you gain a +1k0 to the DR of the weapon, or reduce the strength minimum by 1.

2-handed: The weapon is designed to be used with both hands. Unusually strong or large characters may wield these weapons with one hand. if you exceed the minimum strength by two, or if you have the large advantage and exceed the strength by 1, you may wield the weapon with one hand with no penalty. The only exception for this is 2-handed chain weapons. They always require two hands to use because of the flexible nature of the weapon.

Heavy Weapons:

All heavy weapons count the user's Strength as being 50% higher (round down).
  • Dai Tsuchi: 2-handed, 2k3, Str Min: 3, reduces armor TN by 5 and Carapce by 1. It is basically a large, two-handed warhammer (page 183)

  • Masakiri: 1 and 1/2-handed, 1k3, Str Min: 3. This is a peasant axe, and most samurai would not deign to use it. Ronin will sometimes use these because of the damage and affordability that they provide.

  • Ono: 2-handed, 1k4, Str Min: 4 (may be wielded with str 3, but lowers the wielders TN to be hit by 5). This is a large battle axe, and only those with prodigious strength wield it to its greatest effect. It is considered a more sophisticated weapon than the masakiri and is a weapon befitting samurai bushi.
  • Tetsubo: 2-handed, 1k3, Str Min: 3. This reduces the TN of armor by 10 and reduces Carapace by 2.


Once per round, you may draw a knife without using an action. This may be increased to twice per round if you are ambidextrous and draw a knife with your second hand. Knives do not suffer the penalty for holding a weapon in your off hand, as long as both weapons are knives. You may throw a knife up to (Str+Ref) x7.5 feet.

  • Aiguchi: 1-handed, 0k1, Str Min: 1. The aiguchi is a short stabbing weapon with a hilt guard. It is designed to pierce armor, and as a result ignores up to 10 TN armor bonus and 2 carapace. You receive a free raise when attempting to conceal an aiguchi using Sleight of Hand.
  • Tanto: 1-handed, 1k1, Str Min: 1. This is a short utilitarian knife with no hilt guard. It is not principally designed for combat but may be used as a weapon of last resort. You receive a free raise when attempting to conceal an tanto using Sleight of Hand.
  • Jitte and Sai: 1-handed, 0k1, Str Min: 1. These weapons are designed for disarming more than they are for damage. You receive one free raise in any attempt to disarm an opponent, two free raises in any attempt to disarm a sword held in one hand, and an additional free raise if you are ambidextrous and holding two Jitte or Sai.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Weapons Rules

So, I was perusing the weapons section of the L5R 3rd edition, revised, and I noticed some glaring inconsistencies that have bothered me since day 1. The heavy weapons are not nearly lethal enough. By way of comparison, a standard archer with a Daikyu and strength 3 with a willow leaf arrow does 8k2. A strength 3 bushi with a katana only does 6k2, while that same strength 4 bushi with a tetsubo does 5k3. The following are the averages:

  • Daikyu: 22

  • Katana: 18

  • Tetsubo: 23

Granted, the tesubo knocks of 10 points of armor, but since the average dude wears only 5 points of armor, we can rectify the situation by giving the tetsubo 1 raise for damage (to compensate for the 5 lower TN) giving the tetsubo 6k3, for the average listed below:

  • Tetsubo: 25

For the other heavy weapons, a strength 3 samurai gets these averages:

  • Dai Tsuki: 5k3 : 23

  • Masakiri: 4k3 : 22

  • Ono: 4k4 : 23

Of course, the heavy weapons have better damage for even strengths, so here is what a strength 4 bushi would do with the following:

  • Katana: 7k2 : 20

  • Tetsubo: 6k3 : 25

  • Dai Tsuki: 7k3 : 27

  • Masakiri: 6k3 : 25

  • Ono: 6k4 : 30

Of course, our archer does the same 8k2, even at 4 strength, so would spend the experience on increasing reflexes instead, keeping more dice to hit, and having a higher TN at the same time. Notice that the heavy weapons are not generally that much more dangerous, and since everyone has to be proficient with the katana (socially speaking), they are at an additional disadvantage as you must buy up two skills if you want one of these as a primary weapon.

I am working on a new weapon system that will supersede the book rules, and it will be ready tomorrow, or later today. Check back here to see it. It will incorporate strength minimums for using weapons, bonuses to damage for using two hands on a katana, and rules for using large weapons one handed if you are large and strong enough.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Revised Spellcasting

The base TN for a spell is mastery level x5. The roll is School Rank + Ring, keep Ring. You may make raises equal to your Void or your Spellcraft skill, whichever is greater. Spells take as many rounds to cast as the rank of the spell.

Effects of Raises:
  • Each raise increases the range by an increment equal to the original range. (50' base, 3 raises adds 150')
  • Each raise increase the area of effect by an increment equal to the original area of effect. Spells with an area of effect: self cannot be increased in area.
  • Each raise increases the duration by an increment equal to the original duration.
  • Raises for effect are listed under the spells as "special raises"
  • One raise can change the cosmetic effect of the spell (color of flames, basic shape of object created, etc). This will have no effect on the efficiency of the spell, but can be done to impress others with one's command of the kami. More raises can achieve more spectacular modifications.
  • Each raise reduces the casting time by one round (down to a minimum of one).

New Rules:

  • A spellcraft skill of rank 5 gives you a free raise when casting a spell.
  • Affinity with an element makes the casting time of a spell take one less round than normal (to a minimum of 1 round).
  • Deficiency with an element makes the casting time of a spell take one more round than normal.
  • Casting a spell on an unwilling target imposes a penalty of (Target's Insight Rank)+(Target's Ring that corresponds to the element of the spell - i.e. Earth vs. Earth, etc.). This is because the kami of the element may be loath to bother someone who is strong in the same element. Creatures without a school rank substitute their Taint Rank for this penalty. This represents the kansen resisting the kami.

Further Modifying Full Defense

The following overrides the previous treatise on what may be done in full defense:

  • Full Defense Posture: You adopt a defensive stance. Your TN is increased by 10, you may move up to half your regular movement and you must make 3 raises on any skill you attempt to use. This includes spell casting and attacking, so you must have at least a void of 3 or a skill of 3 to be able to attack, cast a spell, or perform any other skill from this posture. The TN bonus only applies to a number of opponents = to your insight rank. You may use the Defense Skill in this posture without making the 3 raises.
  • Full Attack Posture: If you want to use the defense skill in the full attack posture, you must make 3 raises (basically, subtract 15 from the roll and use that for your base TN). This reflects the difficulties of changing gears - committing to an attack and then hastily trying to recover your balance and defend yourself - doable, but difficult.

Not that this is a combat posture, much like Full Attack and Attack. It does not require the use of the defense skill. The defense skill is listed below, and this supersedes the rules published in 3rd edition, 3rd edition revised, and any other version or errata.

Defense (Agility):

Emphases available: Armed, Unarmed

This skill is critical for all those who engage in combat, and allows for evasive maneuvering, dodging and deflecting blows, either with a weapon or without one. In the Attack Posture or the Full Defense posture, you may make a Defense/Agility roll. This total will substitute for your Reflexes x5 base TN. It applies to as many opponents as your insight rank, any more use your base TN. You may select which opponents use your Defense based TN, but you must be aware of them attacking you to select them (well, duh). You may make raises on the roll to use your TN vs. more targets; you may use your TN against a maximum of Insight+Defense in targets. Each raise effectively reduces your Defense Roll by 5. If you are in the Full Defense posture, these raises allow you to use the +10 TN against the same number of opponents as your defense skill. If your roll is lower than your base TN from Reflexes, then you waited your turn, and you just use your normal TN.

Example: Toku Sakuraba is Rank 2, Ref 3, Agil 3, Defense 4. He is wearing light armor. His normal TN is 25 (15 from Reflexes, 5 from armor, 5 from a Toku Bushi technique). He is attacked by three thugs and decides to use his defense skill. He makes one raise to be able to use the new TN against all three thugs. He rolls 7k3 and gets a 31 minus 5 for the raise, giving him a base TN of 26. With his bonuses, he has a TN of 36. If he was in the Full Defense posture, his TN would be 46.

Mastery Abilities:

  • Rank 3: In the first round of a skirmish, you may declare Full Defense posture out of initiative order. This occurs after any initiative changes, and is your posture declaration for the turn. If you choose to use the defense skill in this posture, you may roll before any actions occur. Additionally, you add your Defense Skill to your TN to be hit in the Attack or Full Defense postures.
  • Rank 5: You may declare Full Defense posture in any round of a skirmish with all benefits and restrictions of the Rank 3 mastery ability. You add your Defense Skill to your TN to be hit even in the Full Attack Posture.
  • Rank 7: You add twice your Defense Skill to your TN to be Hit in the Attack or Full Defense postures (replacing the Rank 3 benefit). Additionally, you add your defense skill to your initiative any time you are in the Full Defense posture.
  • Rank 10: You add twice your Defense Skill to your TN to be Hit in the Full Attack posture (replacing the Rank 5 benefit). Additionally, you no longer need to make three raises to perform a complex action in the Full Defense posture, and you may move your full movement (you still need those raises to make an attack or cast a spell, however).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Skill rules

If you want to create a new spell or technique, use the mechanic provided below. This is particularly useful for shugenja who do try to understand the kami in their own way. Shugenja often recreate spells that have already been created by other shugenja. The penalties for unfamiliarity will not affect shugenja as they commune directly with the kami, so they are never truly unfamiliar with a technique.


  • Martial Research: (Lore Skill, Intelligence) Analogous to spell research for the shugenja, this allows the bushi to create new techniques, kiho, and kata. You can take emphases in Rank Techniques, Kiho, and Kata. The TN to create a new Technique/Kiho/Kata is the insight rank of the technique x 5 plus the base TN of 15 (for kata, this is the point cost divided by two, for kiho it is the mastery level). For example, a rank one technique has a TN of 20, while a rank 4 technique has a TN of 35.
  • Spell Research: (emphasis on Spellcraft, these rules supersede the core L5R rules). Just like for martial techniques, the TN is 15 plus 5x Rank of the spell.
  • Tattoo Research: (emphasis on Artisan: Tattooing). Allows for the creation of new tattoos with mechanical effects similar to those in the book. Requires a meditation of rank 5 to do any research. The time and TN will be determined by the GM.

All these skills have a restriction in terms of the rank of the technique/kata/etc. You may only create a technique (etc) with a Rank value no more than two less than your skill rank.

Skill Mechanics:

  • Spell Research/Martial Research: Many bushi and shugenja who know the principles of martial arts or of communing with the kami are able to create their own spells or techniques. This is a time consuming process, and it requires considerable dedication and often protracted amounts of isolation. Detail the effect that you want, discuss it with the GM to get approval and an appropriate rank, and then spend the time doing the research, and make a roll. For a rank technique, the character has to have enough insight to gain a rank technique before beginning the official study, though in role-playing terms, the character should be working toward the technique/spell/tattoo as often as s/he likes. There are several modifiers to the TN for the roll, listed below:

(TN Mod) Effect
(+5) First time researching a technique/spell without assistance
(-15) Under tutelage of a master in developing techniques/spells (master is rank 7 in the appropriate skill).
(-5) Access to a major library/dojo (to gain this bonus, the library/dojo must have significant resources available to the character).
(+5) Character is in distracted circumstances (having a pupil, not having exclusive access to library/dojo, commitments to family/lord). This penalty is cumulative per distraction.
(-5) Undistracted solo study (no distractions at all; this is usually achieved by sequestering oneself at a shrine or in the wilderness). It is very difficult to gain a bonus for dojo/library and undistracted.
(+10) Have never seen/experienced/trained in a technique similar to the one you are developing.
(+5) Limited experience with similar technique/spell.
(+0) Technique/spell mimics a known effect with which you have experience.
(-5) Technique/spell that mimics a known effect with which you have great experience, have observed in depth, or have trained alongside and studied extensively.
(+10) Spell is from an element with which you have a deficiency.
(-10) Spell is from an element with which you have an affinity.
(+var) Technique/spell has an effect that runs counter to the philosophy of your basic training/school (minimum penalty is +5).
(+10) Creating an advanced technique (one that is past rank 5)
(+2/day) Each day that is taken away from continuous study. If you spend a day where you work on the task for 1 Rokugani hour or less, you incur this penalty.

The base time to create a technique is 5 days (one half of a Rokugani week) plus 5 days per rank of the technique. Advanced techniques take an additional 5 days per rank past the fifth. This assumes that you are spending 6 Rokugani hours researching, meditating, and practicing. If you spend less than this, the number of days is increased proportionally (the final hour total must be the same). You may make raises to reduce the time that you spend developing the technique/spell. Each raise reduces the time by 5 days, down to 5 days total time, then each subsequent raise removes one day, down to a minimum of one day. So if you wanted to make a rank 8 technique in one day, you would need to make 12 raises - not really within the realm of possibility, but you could try it.

This is really to allow for people to develop their own unique styles, like Musashi's Fire and Stones cut, or Sasaki Kojiro's Swallow's Wing cut. Also, the development of unique and personal spells enhances a individual's connection with the kami; so many masters demand that their students do this - it is also just a nod to the self-perfectability that is implicit in this style of game.