Monday, 24 January 2011

Game Master's Pack- The Hare Clan

The first GM screen I bought was actually the 2nd printing with the Shadowlands scene, so I'm reviewing this screen from the PDF on sale at Drivethru RPG.

I assume the screen itself was thin card like the 2nd printing, but had, on the outside, the 1st Edition map of Rokugan and the Great Clan mon (as seen on the left), and on the inside a combat summary, the mass battle table, a TN table, skill roll and maneuvre summaries, Hit location tables, which are explained in the booklet along with rules for intant kills, but are actually wrong (were switched with one another), weapon damage, iaijutsu rules. All in all a very complete package, and in my opinion nicer to look at than the 2nd printing.

As for the PDF I will warn that while searchable it is not bookmarked nor hyperlinked. AEG seems to have revised their policy on PDFs with the new edition, but it is a shame that the legally available older edition PDFs don't have better fucntionality than those of a competent pirate.

As for the booklet itself it starts of with the Karma Rule. It's just a way to start with an experienced character based on the players previous character. Nothing much to be said, altough If I'm reading it right a character created with this rule might end up significantly more powerful than the previous character particularly if said character was insight rank 1 or 2.

It's followed by further elaboration on the GM advice from the Corebook. Again, I find the advice to deal with power players, well, Ill considered. Passive agressive behaviour won't make for good group dynamic.

There's also errata for the corebook.

Then come the new rules, Shadowlands Taint and Maho. Maho rules are interesting, being  quite different from the current incarnation. It is however yet another different sub-system and one that clearly was developed as an afterthought. Considering the importance of the Shadowlands in the setting it seems strange that Maho and Taint weren't part of the core rules to begin with.

The spells included are mostly ok. Oni summoning though as no suggestions on how to be used so it feels like it's mostly a way to taint someone.

Finally we have the adventure itself. I don't want to give much away, but I quite like it even if it feels a bit disjointed at times. The weak link in my opinion is that while the setup lends itself to a court/intrigue game, a third of the adventure is spent on the Shadowlands with a plotline which is completely tangential to the interests of the PCs. There is also little advice on running mass battles which could come in handy for the last part of the adventure.

Personally I would fork the Hare Sword recovery into an independent adventure, and focus more on Lion-Hare-Scorpion-Kolat politicking.

However I usually love Greg Stolze's work, and this is no exception. He created the Kochako family for this adventure, a poison, put the proto-Usagi technique, there are floor plans for both Hiruma castle and Usagi castle. Other interesting thing is that the Hare general Takeshi seems to have a variant on the Crab technique.

All in all this is worthwhile product.

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