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Captainocaptain
2011-03-23, 06:53 PM
Okay, so this is the first time I am running a Legend of the Five Rings game. I dont know much about the system, I just got the book.
Does anyone have any advice on running a L5R game? Is there anything that breaks the game? Any advice on the politics of the world?
Anyone who has any advice on the game, feel free to help. Thanks guys!

The Rose Dragon
2011-03-23, 06:55 PM
A good question to ask, I believe, would be "which edition?".

Another would be "are you playing samurai caste as usual, or are you in fact playing heimin and hinin?".

Captainocaptain
2011-03-23, 07:12 PM
4th ed. and samurai

The Big Dice
2011-03-24, 07:07 AM
You can get the Legacy of Disaster Free RPG Day adventure here (http://www.l5r.com/rpg/). But frankly, it's not very good. You can also get an entier campaign here (http://heroes-of-rokugan.com/HoR2/scenarios.html). Admittedly it was written for 3rd edition and as pasrt of a living campaign, but the conversion is fairly painless.

My ultimate advice to anyone running L5R for the first time is, have a weekend binge on old Akira Kurosawa movies. Watch Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Rashomon and Ran in particular.

FreelanceAngel
2011-03-27, 01:50 AM
I played L5R- Oriental Adventures & Rokugan 3.5- for over a year. Here's what totally sucked the fun OUT of our game many times-

1. Combat, combat, combat.

While combat is a great part of RP and D&D as a whole, the L5R game itself lends to more than JUST combat. Samurai have holdings, daimyos and positions in court that have to be maintained. Shugenja have families they work for, ofuda to learn and connections to make. Courtiers- being an actual, playable class in most instances- are utterly USELESS if you're doing nothing but large-scale combat or random encounters. So make sure to toss in plenty of RP opportunities for your players.

2. Anime

Granted, knowing a bit of anime adds some flavour to the game, and if you're going for a high fantasy feel, that's fantastic. L5R, however, has a lot of gritty detail in it, such as the price for insulting a samurai if you're of the eta, and that detail doesn't work well with the outrageous hair and overblown styles of a lot of anime. Use a little to give your game some texture, but don't forget to develop your own style!

3. Asking too much of your players

Ask for a basic history, a solid backstory and a good character concept. Don't bother asking for lineage or for your players do to "relevant reading" for extra XP. (Seriously. I read "The Book of Five Rings" just to get a little extra XP. Great book, but for a shugenja? Useless!) If they want to, that's a total bonus, but I wouldn't require it.

4. Know your game history!

Wherever in Rokugan's history you're setting your game, it's VERY important to have a basic knowledge of the previous ten years and the current political situation. The Crane may not be fighting the Lion at your chosen moment in history, but one of your players wants to be a Crane samurai with an itchy iajitsu (I know I misspelled that >.<) finger against the Lion. Would this be helpful in the current setting? Detrimental? Definately have an idea as to what you need to know regarding what's going on in the Rokugan world so you can plan accordingly.

5. Have fun.

Obviously.

The Big Dice
2011-03-27, 05:14 AM
If you can find it, one of the best introductions to the world of Rokugan is running the 1st edition Test of the Samurai adventure from the original core rulebook. It introduces most of the concepts that you need to get a handle on Rokugan, which can be a dense and difficult subject at the best of times, while also having a fun tournament going on.

In fact, I think I learned more about the feel of L5R from running 1st ed modules than from reading the shelf full of books I've got. Honour's Veil in particular is an excellent module, with two mini adventures and almost no combat between them. There's also some (out of date but still very good) articles on here (http://web.archive.org/web/20061205031107/http://tasteslikephoenix.com/). However, Mirror, Mirror was refused for publication due to mature content. You have been warned.

Mark Hall
2011-03-28, 02:55 PM
My ultimate advice to anyone running L5R for the first time is, have a weekend binge on old Akira Kurosawa movies. Watch Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Rashomon and Ran in particular.

You might also want to look for comics by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima... Samurai Executioner, Lone Wolf and Cub, and Path of the Assassin. Always gets me in the mood.

The Big Dice
2011-03-28, 04:59 PM
You might also want to look for comics by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima... Samurai Executioner, Lone Wolf and Cub, and Path of the Assassin. Always gets me in the mood.

I prefer the Lone Wolf and Cub movies, but that's more a case of me not liking the art and the way Japanese comics are printed the wrong way round :smallbiggrin:

Whatever source of inspirado you turn to for samurai games, I would advise that you keep the OOT anime to a minimum. L5R is a bit more low key than that. Though at high Ranks it can get pretty crazy.

Mark Hall
2011-03-28, 06:07 PM
I prefer the Lone Wolf and Cub movies, but that's more a case of me not liking the art and the way Japanese comics are printed the wrong way round :smallbiggrin:

Ah. My main objection to the Dark horse volumes was size... they could've benefited from being two pages per sheet (kind of how the Far Side compilations were laid out back in the day.


Whatever source of inspirado you turn to for samurai games, I would advise that you keep the OOT anime to a minimum. L5R is a bit more low key than that. Though at high Ranks it can get pretty crazy.

While not Japanese, you might also want to look at "Warriors of Heaven and Earth", a fairly good Chinese western.

Captainocaptain
2011-03-28, 06:19 PM
Thanks everyone. Your advice has been very helpful. I'm not running the game for a few weeks, so if there is any other advice you guys have, keep it coming. Thanks again!

Mark Hall
2011-03-28, 06:40 PM
The ruleset is very simple. If you're not sure, default to the base "Roll attribute + skill, keep attribute" and decide a TN (I believe they have a list of sample TNs in the book; copy those numbers, with general descriptors). If they want a raise, increase your TN by 5.

Note that this may be wrong, given 4e.

Swordguy
2011-03-28, 11:34 PM
Since this is the front-page L5R thread, I'm going to hijack it for just a couple of posts.


So my normal Shadowrun group is on hiatus while one of our couples deals with having just had a baby, and thus I'm running a one-shot L5R game for gits and shiggles. Well, given that I'm running Mirror, Mirror for them, it'll be more like gits and terrified screams in the (lying) darkness.

So my question is thus: has anyone actually run this adventure before? Any major problems or hiccups you experienced? Where can the thing totally go off the rails, and how hard did you feel it was to keep people there? I mean, I'm pretty good with horror games in general, but my L5R GMing experience was all 2-3rd edition (this is 1st) and so I'm a little bit concerned with running into stuff that may be easy to handle but may compromise the impact of the adventure by handling it.

If'n it matters, I'll be using the pregen characters included with the adventure, just for simplicity's sake.

The Big Dice
2011-03-29, 07:39 AM
So my question is thus: has anyone actually run this adventure before? Any major problems or hiccups you experienced? Where can the thing totally go off the rails, and how hard did you feel it was to keep people there? I mean, I'm pretty good with horror games in general, but my L5R GMing experience was all 2-3rd edition (this is 1st) and so I'm a little bit concerned with running into stuff that may be easy to handle but may compromise the impact of the adventure by handling it.
I've ran Mirror, Mirror. And Fortunes Lost and Hindsight too. Big fan of the TLP crew, when they were still writing gaming stuff. I even did a bit of a conversion to make Mirror, Mirror into a 3rd ed compatible module. Wish I could find the doc file for that...

One of the key things to remember is, those modules were written for convention play. Each chapter is designed to be played in four hours, so keep that pressure on. Part 1 is pretty straightforwards, but Part 2 can be a bit troublesome, especially if you've got players who don't like to back down. But for the most part, it's the kind of panic and action horror that only the Shadowlands can truly deliver on.

Part 3 gets tricky. There's a strong possibility for splitting the party between the massive attack by hordes of demons, and the situation inside Hida Castle. Despite popular wisdom, this can be a good way to ramp up tension even higher, by cutting from one team to the other at dramatic moments. The stakes are high in Part 3 and if you're using pregens, don't be afraid to gut them like a cheerleader in a John Carpenter movie.

Mostly, I'd say be familiar with the source material. Make sure you know the module fairly well, including the identity of the Big Bad. Having a copy of the book the module was meant to showcase, Bearers of Jade, doesn't hurt either. BoJ is one of the best gaming books I've ever read, it's well worth tracking a copy down if you don't have it.

Mirror, Mirror is on the recommended playing list even now, about a decade after it first went online, but it is rated for mature readers only.

Darth Stabber
2011-03-30, 01:14 PM
If the Test of the Topaz Champion is still online for free, it is a great introductory adventure (though 3rd ed). It forces players to make fairly balanced characters with wider skillsets than most.

In general all characters should have at least 1 rank each in etiquette, coutier, and a high skill of a hobby type nature (painting, ikebana(flower arranging), calligraphy, ect). The "hobby" skill is primarily to enable easy gift giving (it is very important to have a gift to offer a host, the quality only matters if you want some kind of bonus in dealing with the host, if you are just making a gift to fulfill the cultural mores then you can get by on "it's that thought that counts").

Honor and observance of traditions is of monumental importance. Make sure players know the cultural implications of their action, and make sure they feel them if they do something silly.

Combat is remarkably lethal, and you can go from fine to crippled in a single attack and that is not considered odd. Initiative is easily the most important combat stat. Wound penalty reduction and bonus wounds/rank are only usefull at quantity.

Social interaction with politically opposed clans should be as dangerous as combat, if not more so, because you can start wars with poorly chosen words.

Money is mostly a non issue, comerce is beneath samurai, and their lords should really be supplying them with the bulk of what they need for any specific mission, and general equipment besides.

Occasional Sage
2011-03-31, 09:03 PM
I don't know 4e, but I can't imagine they've nerfed combat TOO much; avoid it most of the time, it'll be fast and brutal when it happens. BRU. TAL. The first time I played the fame, a three-on-one fight left two dead and one bleeding out. (For the record I was one of the three, and the one bleeding out.)

Don't worry too much if you have to ad-lib politics. It's a Byzantine maze, and any bizarre thing you accidentally create which you think in retrospect doesn't make sense, becomes the hook for a great plot later. Honest.

The Big Dice
2011-04-01, 02:25 PM
I don't know 4e, but I can't imagine they've nerfed combat TOO much; avoid it most of the time, it'll be fast and brutal when it happens.
Static bonuses are gone from damage and multiple attacks are harder to get before your school says you can have them. That nerfs combat a little, but not too much. The 'cushion' of having lots of Wounds in your final rank before death has been replaced by having more Wounds in the first rank of them instead. Which means that first hit is less likely to take you down instantly, but in the long run getting hit over and over is just as bad.

Large static bonuses to damage have, for the most part, gone in 4th ed. And while TNs haven't increased that much, static bonuses have vanished almost completely from attack rolls. Which means it's harder to call Raises, meaning in turn it's harder to get big damage pools.