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).