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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Test for online dueling mechanic

Well, the acupuncturist and I thought that our characters are compatible enough that our conversations and training would go on outside of the game. We were thinking of a blog and respond kind of interaction where I would set up an initial blurb and then the character dialogues would go on in the responses. We also thought that the "dueling" mechanic in L5R would work well in this situation, as all of us are trustworthy with the rolling, and most of it is "focus", "focus" ... a bunch of times til someone says "strike".

I will briefly review the technique for dueling here. I'll talk about issuing challenges and such later, but these will be strictly practice duels among friends for the purpose of training. I am also working out a dueling procedure that does not require swords (think of the duel between the two samurai using bamboo in The Seven Samurai). This will be in part a perception based duel, so that there could be subjectivity about the winner, there may be persuasion or courtier skills involved, or someone may choose to lose to give glory to a samurai in a higher station who is less skilled so as to curry favor (as opposed to curry chicken, which is much tastier).

Anyway, here is how you iaijutsu duel: Roll Awareness/Iaijutsu (Assessment) vs TN of 5. (Remember, the parenthetical above is the emphasis that applies to the particular situation). If your roll is successful, you learn one item plus one per raise you made. You may also make raises to cancel out your opponent's successes, on a one raise to one cancellation basis. Here is what you can learn: Iajutsu Rank (or whatever skill is being used), Awareness, Reflexes, Agility, Void, Insight Rank, Void points remaining, or current wound level.

After this, you choose the trait your opponent will use for the duel. You may choose Agility, Reflexes, or Void (henceforth, this will be called the "Chosen Trait"). Then the "Focus" stage starts. The person with the higher assessment roll (whether they were successful or not) decides who focuses first. A character gains a point of honor for letting his opponent goes first (though not in practice duels, as nothing, not even reputation, is on the line). You may focus as many times as your Chosen Trait. Your base TN is 5; armor has no effect at this stage, and only TN bonuses that specifically apply to iaijutsu duels can work here.

You make a Chosen Trait/Iaijutsu roll vs that TN, if you succeed you may call focus, otherwise, you must call strike. If you succeed, both duelists TNs increase by 5, and it becomes the other persons turn to call focus or strike. Each successful focus reduces your focus pool by one. If your pool is zero, then you must call strike. You may spend a void point to increase your pool by one.

The opponent of the person who called strike gets to strike first, making a Reflexes/Iaijutsu (Strike) roll vs. the opponents Focus TN+Armor, with a free raise for each successful focus. Raises can only be used for called shots, extra damage, and reducing the TN to be hit. Called shots include shots for effect, like cutting off a topknot or suchlike. If the duel is to first blood, and the attack is successful, then that duelist has won (even if void or other damage nullifying effects reduce the damage to zero - the strike has hit but the effects cause nothing but a surface scratch - still a loss for the duelist who was struck). If he/she misses, then the person who called strike may attempt with the same conditions. If that person also misses, then it becomes a normal skirmish to first blood (or to the death if that was the condition of the duel).

There are a couple of other conditions, with spending void for extra damage on the strike, etc., but I will go over those another time. Keep in mind if you are dueling to the first blood, if you get hit and then strike, it is extremely dishonorable (minimum loss of 1 full rank of honor, if you can justify why you did it to the GM's satisfaction).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Rules for Saturday

Just a quick blurb about the combat postures to streamline things -

Step 1 - Roll initiative, give me the initiatives as I ask for them.

Step2 - Declare posture from lowest initiative to highest.

Step 3 - Perform actions from highest initiative to lowest.

Step 4 - Tides of Battle - If you were not hit, you may roll a d10 (that does not explode) and add that to your initiative. If you were not hit and successfully hit your opponent, you may subtract that amount from his/her/its initiative rather than adding it to yours.

Raises: Raises add 5 to the TN of the roll you are making for a better effect. You must declare raises before making any roll. Please, please, please remember this. Thanks.

1) All penalties for stances begin when you declare your posture. They last until your initiative comes around on the next turn, but are non-cumulative (that is, once you declare full attack, if you declare it again on your next declaration (step 2 from above) you do not suffer the full attack penalty doubled.

2) 1 raise for damage gives you 1k0, 2 raises gives you 1k1, etc. The first raise allows you to roll an extra die, the second allows you to keep an extra die, and you can make these raises multiple times.

3) If you want to delay your action to see exactly what an opponent will do, you may wait until their initiative count, hear their declaration, then make a contested Reflexes roll to interrupt them - there are no bonuses or penalties to this roll - it is raw Reflexes vs Reflexes (roll and keep dice equal to your Reflexes). If you win, you go first, if you lose, your opponent goes first.

4) Postures: (this one is important)
  • Full Attack: All-out offensive commitment. You may move your full amount and still attack. You receive two free raises on your attack, and your opponents get 3 free raises against you. (nothing new here).
  • Attack: Standard posture, allows you to do most actions, whether attack oriented or not. Spells are usually cast from this posture as well. You may half move and perform an action (attack, cast a spell, or use a skill). Simple actions (ones not requiring a skill roll) can usually be performed after or during a full move (GM's discretion). You may attack after a full move if you make a raise on your attack roll. If you fail your roll, observers can tell that you were clearly trying to attack, but you did not successfully do so. Other complex actions and spells may be performed after/during a full move but will require at least one, and possibly more, raises.
  • Full Defense: This stance no longer requires a full defense roll - it is just a posture - see the Defense Skill below for details on the use of that skill. This posture grants you +10 TN vs opponents equal to your insight rank. To attack or cast a spell you must make 3 raises. You may move at most half your movement in this posture.

5) Engagement (another important one): Once you or an opponent makes an attack roll in hand to hand combat, you are engaged. You may only break off from this in one of a few ways:

  • Your opponent is "down", "out", or "dead". In any of these circumstances, you are free to disengage at will (you already have, as you no longer have a conscious target). You may maintain engagement with a down or out target to finish him off, but you will gain no bonus against missile attacks for being engaged.
  • You outnumber an opponent by more people than that opponent has attacks. Anyone not being attacked may break off, but you must do this after you have determined if they have attacked you (even if you are higher in the initiative order).
  • You make a contested attack roll vs. your opponent using your weapon skill plus Reflexes for the roll (or juijitsu for unarmed combat). You must make one raise per opponent past the first, and may have to make additional raises based on the GM's discretion if there is no clear escape route.

Keep in mind that it is not necessarily dishonorable to disengage, but it may be depending on the situation and the character. Should you fail the roll, your opponent gets 3 free raises on their next attack against you, and you fail to disengage from them - you have put yourself at an extreme disadvantage (try actually disengaging from a sword fight without getting smacked - it is pretty difficult)

6) Defense Skill - May not be used in full attack posture.

  • In attack posture, you may make a defense roll to replace your base TN of Ref x 5 with your Defense Skill roll, then add any armor bonuses or technique bonuses
  • In Full defense posture, you have two options:

A) Make a Defense skill roll and add that amount to your TN against a number of opponents equal to your insight rank -you no longer gain the plus 10 to your TN from the posture (this is a complex action because it requires a skill roll so you may not attack)


B) Take the +10 bonus from posture and modify that as follows: Make a TN: 15 roll on your Defense skill, and you make raises for the following effects: Each successful raise gives you either +5 additional TN, or the total bonus against one additional opponent. The maximum opponents is your Insight + Def Skill.

Examples of Defense skill in Full Defense Posture:

i) Toku Sakuraba has a TN of 2o (15 from Ref, 5 from armor) and has a Ref of 3, a Def of 4, and an Insight Rank of 2. Since three thugs are attacking him, he decides to make one raise on his defense roll to make his TN good against three defenders, and makes one raise to boost his TN from the posture by 5. He makes the roll (TN 25), and his TN is now 35 against all three of his attackers.

ii) Same situation as above, but he makes a straight defense roll and gets a 28 - this gives him a TN of 48 against two of his opponents and a TN of 20 against the third (his choice).

iii)Same situation as above, but he adopts the Full Defense Posture without making an Defense roll. His TN is 30 against two of the thugs, but only 20 against the third. He attacks the third by making three raises to attack from this posture.

Note that these are all very viable options and serve to make the Defense skill a bit less overpowering but more versatile as well. We'll play test this for a bit, to see how it works, but it should be pretty good. Before, defense could lead to TNs easily in the seventies (when 10k10 averages about 60) kind of overpowering against people unless they have a technique or a specialization to help them. The insight rank cap helps out, and high rank characters can still get a monstrous TN should the need arise. The actual writeup for Saturday's game will be posted later tonight or tomorrow morning.