Thursday, 20 January 2011

Legend of The Five Rings Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire- Musings

These are just a few strings of though that came to me while reading the first core book, but didn't quite fit in the section read throughs:

  • For a game based on the Five rings, they have actually little impact. Only Earth and Void have specific purpose in the rules, with Insight and spellcasting making sure the other rings must also be considered. Water would be tied to movement from 2nd Edition onwards. Air and Fire still don't tie to anything, although the Stance and Kata rules can be seen as covering this. I personally think  that tying Air to Initiative instead of Reflexes would have been a good start. Other thing that could have been done would be to do away with traits altogether and use the Rings, but this would raise the question of skills being considered even less useful. Hard-linking rings to skills migh solve this but it become an extensive re-design.
  • No movement rules. They were only added in Clarification/Errata. Personally I'm not overly bothered by it as I took a more narrative aproach, and in situations where movement is important we have the Athletics skill, but for those more interested in a tactical or gamist aproach to combat this would be lacking, in particular because there are no rules for multiple actions.
  • Honor. On one hand I found that the book decidedly wasn't that focused on honor being an integral part of roleplaying in Rokugan, so the vagueness of the Honor rules isn't that bad. On the other hand the honor system is lifted from the Passion system of Pendragon (where BTW there is a defined Honor Passion), and badly lifted at that. Unfortunately this is something that would become a bigger sore as the line grew.
  • No multiclassing. Considering that there are only two classes, and that shugenja are supposed to be taught, not born, it's a bit annoying, more so if you consider that these are supposed to be religious prayers. But I guess much could be said of the non-handling of religion in RPGs.
  • On a related note. spellcasting being class based, in a system that is otherwise very heavily skill based.
  • The use of a supplement threadmill approach. I'm not exactly against this business model, but AEG was being rather heavy handed in its use.

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