View Full Version : Opinions requested on the L5R 4E Shinjo Bushi School

2015-02-27, 06:33 PM
Hello I've been reviewing L5R 4E and I've noticed the Shinjo Bushi school feels both underpowered and underwhelming. I know it's supposed to be a defensive school but even then it really seems like it does poorly according to the other "core book clan schools" I'd like to hear people's opinion on the school and each of it's techniques. The actual Shinjo Bushi School can be found in the Emerald Empire Book on p.31
Material from the book is in italics.

The Shinjo Bushi School
The Shinjo excel at mounted tactics, a trait common to all Unicorn bushi traditions. The family's fighting techniques incorporate a number of gaijin fighting methods encountered during the clan's centuries of travel outside the Empire, and as a result they employ a unique defensive style that depends on concepts such as the active parry, riposte, and other such oddities that most Rokugani are unfamiliar with.

Shinjo Bushi School [Bushi]

Benefit: +1 Agility
Skills: Athletics, Defense, Horsemanship 2, Kenjutsu, Kyujutsu, any 1 Skill
Honor: 4.5
Outfit: Ashigaru or Light Armor, Sturdy Clothing, Daisho, Bow, Knife, Traveling Pack, Horse, 10 Koku

There is nothing out of the ordinary for the Shinjo Bushi School starting outfit or skills.

Rank 1: The Way of the Ki-Rin
The Shinjo family's natural affinity for horsemanship is immediately obvious and pervades their every action. When spending a Void Point to add +1k1 to any School Skill Roll, you may also add your Horsemanship to the total. This bonus cannot be used while in the Center Stance.

Obviously this technique puts focus on the Shinjo's horsemanship skills. But while most bushi schools from the core book grants 2 bonuses from their first rank technique, the Shinjo bushi school's first technique is limited to only providing a bonus when using a void point, even then it doesn't provide a second bonus. Its only bonus can also not be used while in the center stance.

Rank 2: Dance of the Blade
The ancient gaijin swordsmanship techniques practiced by the Shinjo have given them a defensive edge against many styles practiced within the Empire. When you are in the Full Defense Stance and an opponent succeeds with an attack roll that targets you, you may immediately take a Free Action to make a Contested Agility Roll against that opponent. If successful, the attack misses instead. This may be done a number of times per Round equal to your School Rank.

While the Dance of the Blade technique makes an interesting attempt at providing a "parry mechanic" it falls quite short as it can only be used while in total defence stance and provides no other bonus.

Rank 3: The Four Winds Strike
The swift and relentless assault of a Shinjo is a dreadful sight to behold for his enemies. You may make attacks as a Simple Action rather than a Complex Action when wielding weapons that possess the Samurai keyword. If you are fighting while mounted, you may also attack as a Simple Action when wielding a bow.

The Four Winds Strike technique fits nicely amongst other school techniques that allow bushi to attack as a simple action.

Rank 4: Spirit of the Blade Unleashed
Those who mistake the defensive style of the Shinjo as weak can find themselves brutally surprised in the last moments of their lives. When you are in the Defense or Full Defense Stances and an opponent makes a melee attack targeting you, after the attack resolves you may immediately take a Free Action to make one melee attack against that opponent. This causes you to immediately assume the Attack Stance. This Technique may be used a number of times per skirmish equal to your School Rank, but may only be used once per Round.

The "Spirit of the Blade Unleashed" technique is another technique that tries to bring in something interesting with a "counter attack" mechanic. Unfortunately this technique is only allowed in the Defense or full Defense Stances which means that you are giving up two attacks as simple actions in the hopes that someone will attack you. However it is limited in the number of it uses per day and further limited to only once per round.

Rank 5: Dancing With the Fortunes
A Shinjo atop a horse is a sight that gives even the most seasoned among his enemies pause, and for good reason. During a skirmish, when mounted, when you wish to spend a Void Point you may make a Void Ring Roll (TN 20) as a Free Action. If the Ring Roll is successful, you gain the mechanical benefit of having spent the Void Point without actually spending it. (This does not actually create a bonus Void Point, it simply generates the mechanical effects of spending one.) If the roll fails, you spend the Void Point as normal. You may only use this Technique a number of times per skirmish equal to the number of Void Points you had at the start of the skirmish. You may utilize this Technique when on foot as well, but the TN of the Void Ring Roll increases to 30.

The Dancing With the Fortunes technique is unfortunately the only technique in this school that is interesting while remaining balanced at the same time.