Before getting into material from the PPC (Princess Police Campaign), a review of Imperial Archives.
Imperial Archives isn’t long. The POD books are actually among the most expensive because I’ll get both the .pdf and a hard copy.
I haven’t read much of it. What I did read was the courtier section. This. This is what I want from L5R supplements. This is exactly what should have been in Sword and Fan. This is the sort of breakdown of both the thematics and mechanics in a lifecycle format that I’d like to see for all sorts of aspects of the game. I don’t recall anywhere else ever seeing analysis on how to build a PC mechanically. While there are pieces of the lifecycle of a character in the world, with an unusual emphasis on birth, marriage, and death, this was by far the most coherent and relevant explanation of how a character type fits in the world.
Yet, somehow, this didn’t make the cut in another book? I just don’t get it. The priorities of publishers are just so off.
Is the book high value? Up there with EE, EotE, and TGC? I don’t know about that. It is random stuff that didn’t make it into other books of varying relevance and only about 100 pages of such. But, it was certainly intriguing that the best description of what it’s actually like to be a samurai in Rokugan and how to build a productive character ended up in an odds and ends book.
In the Princess Police, I started out playing an Akodo Bushi. He’ll get some attention some day, probably. But, it was the latter two thirds of the campaign that I played an Usagi Bushi. I already blogged about the criteria for this character, a direct response to the problems with my initial character. I’ve also blogged or posted to the AEG Forums about some of the odder features of the character. While I even posted some of this material, I thought it would be productive to post it here, anyway.
Usagi Kidai has had two paths and what we have called the first rank of an advanced school, though, really, since the campaign was never going to last long enough to get to a second rank and since an advanced school is thematically rather implausible, could just think of it as a third path.
Rank = 2
Requires = Hunting 3 or Lore: Nature 3
“One with the Wild”
The Usagi Woodsman is never so much at home as in the wilderness he loves so dearly. While in the wilderness, you gain a +1k0 bonus to all non-Weapon Skill Rolls.
At SR-2, Kidai became a Woodsman. Actually, it turned out that a major NPC was a Kitsune who was an Usagi Bushi, which is how I got more enthused with going in a nature direction. This is right out of 3e, except for the requirements and except for using the 4e nerfhammer to bring +1k1 down to +1k0. I forgot to use this ability a lot at first. At some point, I think I just took it more seriously as a feature of the character and started doing a pretty good job of remembering. Of course, it helped that we left Winter Court to where more sessions were in the wilderness.
Not weak, even with the blah +1k0.
Rank = 4
Requires = Hunting 3
“Feller of Beasts”
An Usagi Ranger is always aware of his surroundings, swiftly identifying and bringing down his prey. You may add your Perception rank to all attack rolls. Also, while in the wilderness, you add twice your Perception Rank to Initiative rolls.
I waited to go to SR-3 for Secrets of the Empire to come out. Since SotE had nothing relevant, I got simple attacks with a whole bunch of things that Kidai sucked at. At, SR-4, because Kidai was not “a leaper”, I pushed forward with the nature kick. Our GM came up with the mechanics based upon the Empress’s Guard path, though there was various back and forth about what made sense. Actually, these mechanics were what he came up with for a different titled path, but we just switched the name of the path and used the other title for the planned IR-5 ability.
The bonus to Initiative is just amusing. I never care about higher Initiative. I somehow cared just as equally zero about higher Initiative for my Reflexes 5 character. The attack bonus counteracted such things as firing fleshcutters at armored enemies and range penalties. Two extra damage on Feints.
“In Two Places”
The Master Hunter learns to fell enemies with startling speed and mobility. SAA with a weapon you have 5 ranks and an emphasis in but only one attack may be made per round using this technique.
The mechanics here were all mine, could be tightened up some, but who cares? Amazingly enough, SAA are not that fantastic when rolling 3k2 on attack rolls. The optimal combat play for Kidai was to use a naginata. SAA with samurai weapons plus Iron Forest Style (using the “anyone can take a kata at +1 requirement” mechanic for having this kata) = decent. That was out of character. Besides being a yumiist, the character naturally decided that the nagamaki was the clear choice for melee weapon.
So, now, the character could attack and guard! In the same round! The character could run all over the place and still attack, considering he moves at Water 5 speed. Without this ability and without some great need to shoot someone once with an arrow, he should always be Guarding or moving and Guarding, as that gives him two relevant actions versus one. Got kind of repetitive.
Interesting discovery once I started using this ability. See, Kidai always had a monster ATN. In Defense Stance, at IR-1, it was 44. It didn’t scale up that much, but it went to 51. Even while Guarding twice, an ATN of 41 plus eight Reduction (Kaiu Armor) was hefty defense. However, being in Attack Stance … and Guarding, not so great ATN anymore, only 38 while armored, a paltry 30 when not armored. Considering that his one attack didn’t have much behind it – no exploding 9’s on damage, for instance – just not as impressive a combat ability as it seemed like it would be. Well, he would gain IR in ATN for free action drawing a knife, having Usagi Ranger compensate for the -5 of dual wielding nagamaki and knife. So, yes, he could be ATN 56-5/10 if all he did was Guard, dropping to a measly 48-5/10 when not armored.
Plus, we were often mounted once Winter Court ended, so taking actions to move were meaningless. (As much as it sucked to fire a yumi from horseback for my archer, it still didn’t make any sense to give up free moves from a steed.)
So, there you go. Kidai may not have been “a leaper”, but he sure was a lover … of nature.