Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Legend of The Five Rings Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire- Book of Fire

Moving on to the Book of Fire which is the rules chapter.

As you probably can guess by now we continue to be treated to Ginawa's adventures, now with Lion and Crane caricatures and Turi name-changing Gohei getting killed (He got better), before we get to the mechanics proper.

For the most part there isn't much to talk about here. The game was clearly rules light so there isn't much verbosage being spent. It is however very concise, amd it definitely make the system seem very intuitive.

One thing I've noticed is that the Void rules contradict the Meditation rules on recovering Void points.

The dichotomy between skills and traits is also adressed, altough it read a bit like rationalization. It does however mention the wound penalties that are on of the strong balancing factors in 1st edition, and that were dropped after it.

Interestingly, this seems to reinforce the idea I had that 1st Edition was more transparent than 4th Edition L5R in its mechanics. I suspected it might have been a consequence of the time I've been away from the game, but now I'm not so sure...

Another thing I didn't remember was that unarmed attacks were rated at 1k1. I want to see how Stone Hands works with that in Way of the Crab...

It is also interesting how there are more than a few exceptions spread through the system which is a bit at odds with how simple and intuitive it otherwise is.

For example, Initiative is merely rolling 1 dice and adding Reflexes. This may very well an atempt to reduce the importance of Initiative, and minimize the death spiral:
  • It means Initiative is not affected by wounds.
  • It means the synergy between Defense and Initiative isn't as big as in later editions.
  • High Reflexes characters can't depend as reliably on Initiative, more so as it is rolled in every round.
Another such exception is the Defense skill. Again I suspect the different mechanic might be an atempt to prevent the death spiral, however I think in this case it fails.

Under 1st Edition the standard use of the Defense skill was that in full defense the attacking character add to drop all dice that rolled lower Reflexes+Defense skill, which were probably the dice the attacker was already going to drop. Even after errata that changed full defense to become a Defense skill roll (no trait, just the defense skill) keeping a single die, that was added to the normal target number, which averages 11.49 at Defense 5. Not much considering you lose your attack, and very little once you do get multiple attacks, so there is very little incentive to enter Full Defense.

Mind you, this is not necessarily a fault, in that samurai swordsmanship did tend to favour striking first and in a way that the opponent could not retaliate, but gamewise it would probably better represent this by making attacks simultaneous, or pure and simply make full defense a viable tactic.

After the combat mechanics are explained there is a sample skirmish, that is quite enlightnening, showing even things that aren't directly stated in the rules. I'm going to re-read all equivalent examples in the later editions to see if they are as effective.

The next section is on mass battles. Nothing outstanding here either, I do think the 3rd edition adaptation is more "complete" so to speak.

Finishing the chapter we have a guide to Glory rewards and losses, and the catalogue of weapons and armour.

Again I don't have much to say about this section, other than the fact that no guide for honor is given should be seen as an ominous sign.

And I also have to admit that the bit of armour porn at the end did manage to arouse me a bit.

Seriously the writers did want to show a bit of armour for the sake of armour...

Don't loose the book of air on the next installment.

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