Nowhere Near The Badlands

May 19, 2019

I’m not caught up on Into the Badlands.  I am binge watching to the extent that I have the time and energy to do so.

When season three began, I was interested.  So much of the old had finally been done away with by the time season two ended.  I watched and, then, waited.  When episodes finally came back on, I wasn’t that interested.

What was Into the Badlands supposed to be?

For some people, post apocalyptic, gratuitous wire fu scenes with relatively high amounts of gore appeals.  If anything, I’d say season one, maybe season two, didn’t have enough martial arts scenes.  So much talking involving Quinn.  It was something of a take on Journey to the West, except I don’t know what JttW is supposed to involve and MK was terrible.

Then, it seemed to go off in a different direction.  In many respects, a different direction was good as Sunny constantly not killing the people he should kill ASAP got really tiresome.

But, watching season three, what I mostly think about isn’t which characters I care about … because I don’t care about any of them much.  I keep thinking about what a muddled mess the show is with its mythology and with what is going on at any given time.

I like martial arts action, but I actually like wire fu less.  I like martial arts combat based around the combatants styles’ mattering.  Baron Chau using hook swords is a good idea.  It’s interesting when the Widow uses flails, but there’s a distinct lack of “You cannot hurt me due to my Mountain Style, you must learn Water Dragon style to defeat me.”

At first, the show is about Sunny and MK escaping a sucktastic world.  And, you could say the last episodes are about making the world less sucktastic, but it’s such a long, miserable exercise to get there.  It’s probably intentional to be hard to root for numerous characters, but that, to me, is flawed entertainment.

There’s nothing wrong with clear good vs. evil.  But, even if you don’t have black and white storytelling, you can still have clear protagonists rather than a bumbling ex-assassin who can’t stop killing people plus a bunch of people who keep changing allegiances all forced to inhabit the same miserable world.

If it were anime, might be more likeable.  Or, maybe just as frustrating because the characters are so unfun and the fighting would be less visceral.

Bajie was a necessary addition to lighten things up some.  Not enough.  His story is so unclear and what he’s trying to do is so unclear that even he isn’t the main character to root for.  MK should have been a lighter character if you want to compare to representations of the Monkey King I’ve seen.  Or, someone should have been.  But, everybody is murderrific or capturerrific all of the time, except of course for those characters that suffer the most.

Reading reviews, one review sounded like it was criticizing an episode before the end for having a bunch of exposition.  Here’s the thing.  Ditch all of the tedious Quinn, Ryder, whatever melodrama and replace it with “Azra was this.  Here’s where Sunny came from.  Here’s what MK’s power is.” in season one and I would have been far more interested in what was going on.  I watched this exposition heavy episode and I liked it, far more than I liked most of the other episodes.

So, gaming.

Into the Badlands – RPG setting?

Just doesn’t sound like a desirable one, to me.

Martial arts flicks – RPG setting?

Most martial arts flicks that impacted my psyche would make pretty bad RPG settings the way I think of them.  Most stuff when I was young was about an individual’s quest for revenge.  You get one PC.  You have a world that exists entirely to get beaten up followed by training in a new technique and defeating the villain after your latest love interest probably also died.

There are RPGs that focus on martial arts that are perfectly fine.  Yes, you can see movies in Swords of the Middle Kingdom or Ninja Crusade or Qin.  Ninja Hero is my favorite Hero System product of all time.  I have never had any interest in Exalted after the first time playing it, but it might be considered a martial arts RPG and has been fairly popular over the years.

It’s just that there’s a tremendous negativity to martial arts stuff in so many shows.  Now, what about more humorous martial arts movies?  Humor should arise from play not be forced into play.  I may find it humorous that in Conan we were actually the bad guys for a long time, constantly releasing demons on the world and, then, running away to escape them, but intentional humorous RPG play is often going to turn me off.  Not always.  But, in a serious genre.

Can have ghostbusting martial arts stuff.  Inuyasha, at its best, has this feel, though at a different power level and more supernatural supers than fantasy martial arts.  I guess.

So, I got to thinking about Westerns due to a game I signed up for at Gen Con, plus ItB is kind of Westerny.

Westerns – good RPG settings?

Here, I can see it being more group oriented, more fun.  I’ve thought about Wild Wild West as a RPG setting and it didn’t sound that good for the same reason that I have a hard time picturing how a James Bond campaign would work, even a lot of one-shots would work, though, I suppose, Mission Impossible is a better model for RPG play than something highly focused on one character.

Whether one shots or, even, campaign play, I can imagine a Western game so much more easily than a functional martial arts game.

I find that kind of interesting because I am drawn more heavily to martial arts entertainment than Westerns, though, to be fair, I have liked a number of Westerns.

Of course, Star Wars sounds like a great setting up until the point that you start play and half the players want to be jedi and the other have want to be scum.

Could be argued that 7th Sea is a martial arts setting, and I think 7th Sea works perfectly fine as a genre.  Combat is a big thing in lots of RPGs and different fighting styles shows up all over the place.

It occurs to me that important to martial arts and supers and various other genres at the campaign level is losing fights.  That’s not going to appeal to a lot of people I’ve played RPGs with, as far as I can tell.  I guess that’s why L5R works so well for some – you always win … up until the point that you have a new character.

Another thing about martial arts and supers is not ganging up on opponents.  This PC squares off with this NPC while the others have their fights.  I haven’t mentioned Feng Shui, yet, which is kind of a sign of how much interest I’ve lost in Feng Shui after 2e got made, but my FS play tended to involve more typical RPG fights where PCs focus fire and have no specific rivalries with villains.

I have thought about martial arts campaign play.  Rival schools.  Something besides rival schools.  I haven’t thought much about Western play as I’ve never been into Deadlands and not much else is pushed as Western play.

Of course, I’m probably just gun [sic] shy.  I’ve seen so many failed attempts to capture what makes shows cool in various genres that I spend a lot of time thinking about why a genre won’t work rather than having some faith that anything can be made to work if the right people are doing the right kind of things.

Where’s the Ultimate Combat! wisdom in a post all about martial arts?

The oldest weapon – still eminently effective.

Not the oldest writing technique, but changing things up is a pretty old technique.

Imbued with righteousness, you are shielded from harm.

MK didn’t have enough righteousness.  Sunny was seemingly given righteousness but it didn’t change anything.

You are what you eat.

This hadn’t come up yet!  Well, I haven’t eaten a hawk, either.  People are exposed to things when they are young and often come to like those things.  On the other hand, when you eat disappointment, you become less enthused.

The pain of falling lessens with repetition.

Not fallen enough when it comes to RPG campaigns?  I don’t think so.  I think the pain increases with additional failures as one keeps asking the question “If I’ve had great RPG experiences, why is it so hard to have more great ones?”

Success earns repetition.

Ha.  Repeat good, don’t repeat bad.  That seems like sound advice.  This pack keeps getting more interesting.  Play Oak Staff, have it break, Instant Recall it back.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Maybe I don’t imitate enough when I GM/build decks/whatever.  I try to do things my way and it doesn’t work as well.  I was never terribly fond of this card, BTW, as it’s pretty expensive for what it does.  For sealed play, it makes this pack weirder, doesn’t synergize with Oak Staff, for instance.  For draft, it would be something to take if you saw a lot of beef.


Capture The Enrapture

May 12, 2019

Where to begin?

In the absence of getting you all fired up with some hot take, let’s begin with this post’s Ultimate Combat! booster’s wisdom.

Like a spectre she avoided each attack, to win the gold untouched.

My perspective is that Vampire: The Eternal Struggle/Jyhad has by far the best flavor text of any CCG.  Quotes from this world have more gravitas IMO than game related flavor text.  This flavor text starts off kind of cool but becomes rather mundane.

In terms of the card, very expensive but, barring action card counters, far more reliable than various other Limited Edition action card defenses.  Definitely desirable in limited play, and gold belt cards often aren’t really that good due to how many are Environment cards or just some fat technique that you use only once because you don’t have Favorite Technique or Instant Replay in your deck.

A few great masters can drain the essence of life from their opponent, to gain vitality for themselves.

How much does this card owe its existence to Magic?  We are likely to never know, but it’s not only psychic martial arts, a feature of UC! that gets it away from concentrating on real world martial arts fighting, it also has a different font size for its ability due to how complicated its text is and works differently in multiplayer play and the flavor text sounds very much like a Black Sorcery or whatever.

Ah, shrinking text to fit on a card because the designers/developers thought cards with lots of text are a good idea.  A topic that … I’ll probably never use as the thrust of a post but will no doubt bring up since I had to shrink some card text to fit in our latest playtest versions of Traveller CCG cards.  Oh, wow, I’m so clever, I just made my prediction come true.

This is a pack you would far more like to get in a sealed event as Conditioning/Knowledge is heavily featured not only in the two cards above but with the better techniques in the pack.

So, Arrowverse.  Okay, don’t beat me to death or possess me or mirror me away.  I’ll make this relatively quick.  Legends of Tomorrow may be more workplace sitcom than superhero show and may have gone so campy that it isn’t as great as episodes that balanced stuff better, but it’s so much better than the other shows because it’s fun and workplace sitcoms can be enjoyable when they involve time travel, magic, “smashing”, etc.  Arrow just feels like Arrow has felt ever since season two and that’s not a good thing.  I agree that Flash’s villains aren’t compelling, but, then, only one ever has been.  Get thee to a crossover!  Where all of these shows become so much more fun (except LoT, since LoT is far crazier outside the crossovers).

Origins, Gen Con, KublaCon.  All approaching.  I’m running Traveller events at Origins and Gen Con.  Sunday in both cases.  Be there or be rectangular.  Oh, I’m also running events at KublaCon, but that’s not as newsworthy.

I signed up for one event for Origins in prereg.  I glommed on to other forumites’ True Dungeon runs since I’m flying solo at Origins.  I’ll generic the other V:TES tournaments I’m planning on playing.  Gen Con, we just came up with a rough plan for Team Blow (“we don’t suck, we blow”, no, this one isn’t for the ladies, this is actually clever).

The plan doesn’t give me a lot of free slots, even though my HoR footprint is expected to decline significantly.  My TD footprint might increase, see how things turn out with glomming on to forum runs.  Glomming – I feel like Stephen Donaldson after he started trolling his readers.

I had an idea for a post.  I used my mirror match idea for a Developer’s Corner article I sent off to Jeff for the Traveller site.  It predated my watching Miami Connection last night – more about how the songs need to be in our bard’s repertoire than in being a cheesy, weird martial arts movie starring Michael Phelps.  T-shirts are available online.

What was that idea?  I was thinking about something that related to RPGs.

Oh, maybe it was cast size.  Not just Arrowverse having a problem with way, way overblown cast sizes.  Got into a conversation about which Star Trek was the best.  I am of a different generation, not a next generation but more like a prior generation, than some misguided whippersnappers I game with.  TNG is not remotely as good as OT.  OT wasn’t like half spatial/temporal anomalies and OT saw constant beaming down to planets to encounter … humans on other planets.  Phasers were used to shoot rocks a lot.  Anyway.  I was hot-take-persecuted for claiming TNG’s cast was too big.  I had to be reminded Geordi was on the show as I rattled off a bunch of characters who should have been minor characters but weren’t.  I had to look up how to spell Geordi.  I’m not a Geordi hater.  I’m just not into big casts on my adventure shows.

Which brings us back to gaming.  Yeah, I have to mention how I create too many NPCs when I GM my own stuff.  Keep the focus on a manageable number of characters those GMs who do the same things I do.  Let’s look at HoR4.  In HoR2, there was the Toritaka, the gaijin, the Scorpion seeking redemption, the ronin whose character sheet was far cooler than his presence in mods.  Does HoR4 have more NPCs than HoR2?  I don’t know.  It certainly doesn’t have much in the way of memorable ones, so, even if it doesn’t have more, it “has” more.  Focus on a manageable number of characters.  We aren’t going to like them all.  I didn’t look forward to babysitting the Toritaka yet again.  But, it’s okay to have some we don’t care for if there are ones we are given a chance to care for.

OT – where the big two, big three, big two plus others gave us characters I liked.  They didn’t have to have character arcs.  They needed to phaser rocks.

Which brings up another RPG related topic – phasering rocks.  Well, it’s more of a show topic, but we will apply it to gaming.  Do entertaining stuff.  John Carter is not a deep character.  Ignoring the movie, which got his personality totally wrong, JC is all about swordfighting against as many swordfighters as possible for as long as possible.  Plus, he likes to rescue hot chicks.  Yet, give me that sort of “character” over “complex” characters who struggle to get to doing cool stuff.  I don’t need redemption stories or overcoming one’s flaws stories or whatever else passes for “entertainment”.  I need Goku absorbing some of his Spirit Bomb to achieve Ultra Instinct.

Doing cool stuff makes the character cool.  Yeah, I know that sounds weird coming from me, as an example of that could be D&D style play where you don’t give a crap who your PC is beyond the character sheet as you Fireball giants.  But, actually, my issues with D&D style play aren’t Fireballing giants.  Giants deserve it for having higher melee damage outputs than I do.  When our Conan characters took on giants, it was cool.  We may not have Fireballed any of them, though, actually, I think we did fireball at least one either through Defensive Blast or some alchemical weapon.  There was a story, and I envisioned us rescuing hot chicks while we were murdering poor, make-your-massive-damage-save giants.  We weren’t just looking to loot their caves, which is not what I rate as doing cool stuff.

TLROO:  Rocks need phasering.  [What?  Sshhhh …]

May The Fourth Belated

May 4, 2019

I could comment about a trip that wasn’t to Fresno last Saturday to play HoR4.  I could get into the oft addressed topic of exploration and discovery, but that would involve pretty pictures and other popular stuff.

Played relatively normal Shadowfist not long ago, where I actually ran evasion (Stealth) but ran into a frequent Ascended problem I have – getting all of my hitters smoked/toasted.

But, let’s focus on HoR4, since that was recent and kind of different.

Spinning disaster for your opponent.

Tonfa exist in HoR4 and are kind of dangerous.  Yes, let’s spin disaster!

Essence of the Art is to use your rival’s strength against him.

Is my rival always a him?  In a more modern CCG, I wonder if her would have been used.  Anyway, got to like the capitalization of Art, as flavor text in UC! is rather capitalization poor.  If you ever win a match off of this card – even better, off of multiple plays of this card when the “rival” is sitting on Strength X, you are a more blackbelty being than I be.

First of all, I was playing Miya Tatakisu with recently elevated Void (3), and, as expected, that had mechanical impact in a generally relevant way that making some other buy might not have.  We played CIT32 and CIT18 as we continue to work on getting caught up.

I haven’t been rating mods as I did with HoR3 for a couple of reasons.  One, there’s not even the continuity that HoR3 had when it comes to feeling engaged with the campaign.  Two, I haven’t really liked any mods, yet.  Oh, there are some okay ones, but I actually liked some of the HoR3 mods where I have to really stop and think to remember mods in HoR4.  CIT16 is certainly wild and crazy, I think I would have liked the experience more if it didn’t have the ending part, as it felt weird to change gears (… not like all of the weird before that).  It felt novel and not underdeveloped.  There is another mod, I think, that I keep forgetting that worked better than the norm/expectations.

CIT32 didn’t feel terribly novel, but it was fine.  The decision to be made was more engaging than some of the other decisions in HoR4, a campaign with a lot of decision mods (not to its benefit as the decisions are often meaningless to our PCs).  CIT18 has the feature that Shadowlands mods often have:  the player feels like what they are doing is relevant.  Both in terms of the threats being more … plausible? … than threats in other mods and in terms of there being an obviously “good” goal.  Too often, people try to make L5R socially agonizing, when there’s more value to just playing heroic adventurers in a pseudo-Japanese, fantasy setting.  Intimidating children vs. recovering spiritually important artifacts?  Well, I suppose you could agonize in CIT18 if you wanted to – we didn’t.

So, seems like things may be getting better on the mod front.  I don’t know.  Maybe having more Shadowlands/Nothing/obvious bad guys in a campaign might be more appealing.

Keeping with the theme of focusing on Miya, afterwards, bought up INT to 3 to stop being a moron.  This takes Tatakisu to SR-3.  Finally!  The peace!  Has come back!  To shishadom!!  Yup, all about spending two VPs [had to remember this] to not be harmed when not dueling/skirmishing by those who revere the Emperor, for one round, on a Tuesday, when the wolves are howling, at 11 xat past the 8th node.

It did occur to me that the relatively Insight-ful buy of INT 4, while funny, is not as likely to get use as Void 4, admittedly saves 8xp to plow into Kenjutsu to get to K-10.  Also, Satoshi’s Legacy is a bushi path, so can take Striking as Fire, which is generally terrible, which will require some non-Insight-ful expenditures.  More Insight will come, of course, from such non-moron buys as Lore: Lords of Death.

Keeping with L5R RPG stuff, yes, I’m done talking about Miya.  I’ve been looking through some books, mostly looking at mechanics even though recent travel, even just driving around the hood, got me thinking about story settings/characters/stuff.

Take Emerald Empire, a supplement I haven’t analyzed in this blog except to rate it as a really good supplement.

Shinjo Bushi

We had a Shinjo Bushi PC in The Princess Police, so I know next to everything.

The SR-1 ability is more likely to see use, in my opinion, with Kyujutsu than Kenjutsu.  Shouldn’t need the bonus with Kenjutsu as much as need the bonus to make sure the Dark Oracle of Water, the Soultwister, or whatever gets a fleshcutter in the eye.  Athletics and Defense are both skills I can see getting Voided.  Ah, but what about the any skill?

What any skill is often going to be Voided?  Obviously, either Courtier or Sincerity.  Investigation is another way to go.

The SR-2 ability is “When in … Full Defense-” absurd.  As much as there’s a Horsemanship tax with this school that’s acceptable, to also have a Defense-7 tax is not.

SR-3 is … mighty.  How many schools give simples with bows and melee?  How many?  I was playing a REF-5 character who started with a 8k5 attack roll and used fleshcutters endlessly up until the point that enemies started hanging around 300′ away.  When Josh’s character got simples, I was hopelessly outclassed with my non-Tsuruchi Tsuruchi-wannabe.

SR-4, awkward.  Don’t move too far, double guard, get attack off anyway?  Awkward.

SR-5 may not be all damage dice explode or whatever, but it’s Shiba Bushi levels of cool with the possibility of being better, though maybe not.  Figure you go into a fight with 3 VPs and you fail the roll once, so you get two free VPs in the fight, which is kind of Shibaish.

I could comment on how Minor Clan Defender seems like an advanced school for a courtier to take, but, hey, it’s not like I have loads of new content to just go wasting future clickbait.

Next time, Minor Clans and how they are … some … thing.

Back to Miya, so the plan to go Minor Clan is …

In Sight

March 31, 2019

Haven’t been playing Shadowfist recently due to scheduling.  Haven’t got a lot to say about Arrowverse shows.  Haven’t gotten into new RPG experience.

So, really, the obvious thing to do is follow up on my last post, even though a comments exchange would have made more sense for resolving that issue.

What I didn’t talk much about last time was the impact of advancement choices on ranking up.

That’s the beauty of playing a Miya Herald.  There’s no difference between a SR-4 Miya Herald and a SR-0 Miya Herald, outside of the Satoshi path.  So, even if there might be a difference, there’s no difference between SR-3 and SR-0.

Except, why do I make the decisions I make to amuse myself?  What is the concept with this PC?

Play a school that has no techniques and play to a weakness of it.  Same as playing an Omoidasu or most courtiers.  Now, I will likely take the R-4 path, so I’m not rigidly beholden to this paradigm, but an element of playing a Miya Herald is to play a Miya Herald and not just play a rich, not unimportant, not scavenging for food ronin.

Which means ranking up to get all of the bizarre and irrelevant techniques that the school “offers”.

But, I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself.  We must gather insight from today’s Ultimate Combat! booster.

With a bellow of desire, Sung Lee attacked.

This sounds either like anime or something kind of illegal.  The more I delved into this booster, let’s go with anime.  This flavor text, BTW, is interesting to me in a way that is rather obscure.  I’ll just leave that unexplained.

The card does fit Tatakisu’s je sais quoi.

Lacking a power reserve, you may not survive to regret.

See, anime.  I was not feeling this booster until I got to the black belt and brown belt action cards.  I’m watching Boruto, of course.  The show seems better with the adults as primary actors even if Sasuke and Lord Seventh don’t unleash.  A problem with Boruto is that there’s very little development of the kids’ powers.  I don’t really care about them as characters.  I’m far more into abilities when it comes to anime, which is why I like fight anime.  Just like I’m more into supers’ abilities then their angst-ridden lives.

BTW, because if I don’t teach the galaxy about how to be good at UC!, who will?  Power Drain is an interesting card.  It’s a card I dismissed early on, well, it is a black belt card, and, early on, I kept mostly to white belt and brown belt decks.  If Favorite Technique is one of the game’s most defining cards, an answer to Favorite Technique is … a thing.  Also, in limited play, removing even horribly overpriced technique is temporiffic.

Tatakisu’s power reserve – spoiler alert – will increase.

Noxious air harms all who breathe it.

Less a tie in to Rokugan 1600’s “rogue air” threat and more relatable as a callback to Naruto beating Shiba with the help of Bad Air.  Anime!!

This is a multiplayer card, being way too expensive to do anything terribly meaningful in dueling.  Tatakisu isn’t much of a multiplayer combatant.  Sure, like everybody, he gains a lot from being Pathed or Mountained or whatever, but his style is trade until the enemy fine red mists.  Bad Air is just too little damage output to enable him to win.

I eschewed the path of short term damage output for reasons I will someparagraph get to.

Fight fire with fire, mind with mind.

Very anime!!  Since Tatakisu has no mind (but may someday), he’ll use his half-fire to combat, um, … wow, this analogy is failing big time.  Psychic Block is a weird card.  It’s not useless.  The Conditioning/Fighting Spirit requirement makes no real sense thematically, but I think I know why it ended up with that combination of power requirements – lot of psychic attacks are going to be coming from Knowledge/Experience, so the counter to psychic (damage, anyway) is the oppositeium.

A controllish pack with good power coming from how it includes Speed 1 and Strength 1.  Would be amusing to build a sealed booster deck out of.

Getting back to all things Miya.

So, amusement points are scored if I can actually ever use the school techniques in some non-moronic way.  Actually, I did use “pay 2 VPs for Way of the Land” again, just recently.

Tangent Time

Dooooo, doo doo dooo …

I played a HoR4 mod recently.  I enjoyed it.  The mod wasn’t that hot, being rather not a whole lot going on, at least it didn’t feel like much going on.  But, we didn’t get bogged down in incoherent plotting and I got to wak dudes without murdering a single dude, dropping a 54 on one of my damage dice just to preserve the sanctity of human life.  I’m so miya.  Adventure moved.  Die rolling was fine, did multiple Animal Handling rolls.  Success was attained.  No gotcha moments happened.

Back to spending XP.

So, I had decided to spend XP on pushing Kenjutsu to 10 because that would have been accomplished in one more mod’s worth of XP, having enough to go to R-9 with unspent.  This was amusing me.  Then, as I was still on a plane back from Florida (up to 19 states in which I’ve done something of significance), I reassessed.

I actually want to rank up.  Kenjutsu 10 is not out of the question, but it gains short term amusement at the cost of midterm IRing.

So, I’m going with the most mundane option for the most mundane Miya – Void 3.  This does stuff, and it puts IR-4 in sight.  IR-3 just requires not being a moron anymore, sad as that will be.  The most amusing path to Insight, to the point where I might actually try it, due to it requiring the least amount of XP for trait/ring bumps and because it messes with my own expectations for this PC is to go Intelligence 4.  I buy up a bunch of Lore skills for the rest of the Insight to IR-4.

Means being rather glass cannony, which I may regret, but regret is a sin, and who doesn’t love sinning?

I do see value in K-10, though.  The kept dice bumps are possible, if not superefficient, and I do kind of need to be able to hit TNs of 75 or whatever on my attack rolls in order to do no-dachi levels of damage.

Speaking of anime, one thing about my L5R play is that it doesn’t lend itself much to anime style play.  Maybe one of the things I liked about The Princess Police is that it did get more that way towards the end.  My attempts to run something more that way don’t tend to work as, well, my players either don’t get anime or don’t care to get L5R anime style.

L5R Mechanics – Sample Advancement

March 25, 2019

Time to talk L5R 4e.  Time to get all of the views as there isn’t likely anything else to check out online in March.  Time to be fascinated by someone else’s PC.

Our subject is Miya Tatakisu, a PC overengineered from day -273.15.

Miya Tatakisu is IR-2, having spent 98 XP after the initial 45 (yup, 45).  Currently have 19 unspent.

Earth 3, Water 2, Fire 2 (Agility 5), Air 3, Void 2

As an unbalanced build, the dump Rings are Water and Void.

Kenjutsu 7 (of course), Athletics 3, Horsemanship 3, Stealth 3, Sailing 2, lots of 1’s.

While there may be some reason to not IR up, given the nature of HoR mod leveling and given that the Miya Herald School doesn’t actually have any techniques until you get to SR-5, I haven’t gone out of my way to stay humble but not yet kind.

Kata – not a bushi.

Kiho – don’t be ridiculous.

Advantages – some mental may be interesting but not going to pay more than cost for them.

So, a very mundane set of options:  Void; traits; skill ranks; emphases.


This seems like continuing the path of being a nobrainer.  Besides giving some endurance (in a way Stamina wouldn’t, though Earth would) and helping with multiroll contests, the main ROI is being able to call three raises instead of two when throwing a wakizashi, poeming, biwaing, or whatever.

Hard to not take the V-3 purchase.  Again, there’s a big difference IME between home games where Void dumping can work just fine and HoR, where sometimes a moron Honor Rolls Spellcraft.

Given the crafting rules for HoR4, all Tatakisu needs is Void 6 and radiant weapons for everyone (along with Craft: Weaponsmithing 7).  Get better at dueling.

So, why not pull the trigger?  Not really that interesting conceptually even if higher Void allows for more in game results.


In my 250xp plan, I-3 is an option.  If all of us were morons, this would be more important.  Then buy Medicine, Divination, Commerce, Engineering, etc.  Will regret Sagelessness even more.  Relatively cheap, gains 10 Insight which isn’t useless (ludicrous techniques and/or the option to path into simple attacks are on the horizon).

Helps crafting non-katana, non-wakizashi weapons.  Can craft other crap.

Just really boring.  At this point, if I’m going to demoron, I kind of prefer just playing a different character.  The Great Potential Medicine character or, at least, an Asako.


When in doubt, overkill.  This only gains combatwise, an area that Tatakisu will increasingly fall behind in, if Kenjutsu goes up or ponying is expected to give +1k0.  Noncombat, however, this is kind of entertaining.  9k6 on Agility rolls is better than 8k5 in some way, maybe a mechanical way.  OTOH, if R-5 in a skill, wasted die unless Voiding with pathetic Void rank.  In an infinite XP world, A-7 or A-9 would be a hoot, but, then, every other PC would still be better in such a world.


The blueprint was to get to this point, then Earth up.  So, why haven’t I Earthed up?

It’s expensive.  I enjoy high Earth.  I don’t enjoy waiting forever to buy it.  There’s a philosophical problem with Earth with this build.  Tatakisu is a “showoff” build.  Earth is only showing off when something happens to you.  Active v Passive.

I decided I should get away from absurd long range plans and try to actually enjoy a character in the moment.  It’s hard to pursue Earth and expect to maximize fun.  Though, crafting does give a reason to care about higher Earth.


A/the primary way to combat losing relative combat effectiveness.  While bushi gain techniques that do something and shugenja godisize more and Tattooeds punch and whoever does whatever, Tatakisu has basically capped offense already except for the R-4 path to fake being a midrank bushi.

Reflexes is combat godliness.  As not everyone pursues the one, true path of Reflexes 5, pursuing that path would maintain some level of combat relevance.  With higher Reflexes comes higher Kyujutsu.

Been there, done that.  Bored now.  Actually, I wouldn’t be that bored chasing the wind.  This is a contender for where to go.  Void 3 or Reflexes 4?  Both are massive marginal upgrades with Reflexes 4 being a necessary step on the path to Reflexes 5.


Conceptually, this offends the concept.  However, our group isn’t all that social, and I often enjoy the Awareness aspects of L5R play.  I don’t hate the idea but also don’t feel sufficiently pushed into being above mediocre.  If poetry and whatnot had been more relevant to play, might feel a desire to be better at these things.


Much of the force behind making this post was because I got to thinking about bumping Strength to 3.  Prima facie, this is an offense to the concept.  Water is a dump Ring.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I thought about a few things.  One, S-3 for Tatakisu is actually really, really good.  For a PC like Moshi Shigeo, I don’t think it would have mattered.  He had his no-dachi and had no particular reason to grapple or to care about knockdown.  Tatakisu could no-dachi up, but it’s funnier to murder everything with a wak, while grapple is the courtier’s way of winning combat, nevermind that being grappled completely shuts down Tatakisu.  Even knockdown begins to sound interesting at S-3.

Noncombat, 6k3 on swimming/climbing/whatever is more funner.

As for Water being a dump, Strength bump without touching Perception continues the dumping, even funnier dumping in some ways.  There’s also pursuing Defender of the Wall as an advanced school, though the requirements are so far away from the Tatakisu build that that just doesn’t seem worth it.


Get this out of the way.  Kenjutsu 10 is not so ridiculous for this build.  It’s pretty boring and doesn’t help combat effectiveness that much relative to cost outside of narrow situations where you call 10 raises (Great Potential) for damage on a grappled foe.

It’s not insane XPwise.  It’s still expensive.  It’s like Earth 5 – not useless, amusing when it comes up, not very efficient and doesn’t maintain relevance against better buys.


If people played Stealth correctly, Stealth 5 would likely be an obvious buy.  Since they don’t, eh.  Regardless as to increasing from 3 to 5 (would never go to 7), getting the Sneaking emphasis seems obvious.  But, that’s cheap and less of an advancement concern.


Main buy here would be Throwing emphasis for the esoteric thrown wak kill, though Void is important here for the extra raise.  Emphases are not major questions, but it’s easy to forget this one.

Weapons Skills

While 1xp buys add up, it does seem like Spears 1 and who knows what else would make sense to leverage A-5.  Heavy Weapons 7 is amusing but rather wasteful just for the humor value.


Sailing 5 is funny and not totally outrageous costwise.  But, it would either be a thematic “I don’t care about effectiveness anymore” path or a “I give up on effectiveness” path.

Craft: Armorsmithing/Weaponsmithing

One, the other, or both would actually make sense.  The question here is “Which path do I care about or do I not care about any?”  Multiple buys tie into each other.  Armorsmithing means pushing the Earth, which fits with original concept while making Earth matter more often.  Weaponsmithing either pushes Int or Void.

In a way, realizing that the crafting rules aren’t nearly as onerous as I thought, really would have helped push the character one way or another.  I just don’t have a clear idea in mind for which way I would enjoy more.  If I would have understood crafting better to begin with, I might have a stronger preference or even pursue both misc. weapons and armor or kat/wak and armor.

Flavor Skills

I can keep adding instruments or get better with them.  Biwa 3 would give me something different to do.  Dance is another thought.  There are goofy Lores, which might make more sense with I-3.  Emphases can be funny but rather inefficient except Pony, Sneaking, Throwing.

Focus v Different v Goodstuff

Focus would be Earth and/or Fire.  Goodstuff would be Void, then Reflexes, but Strength is surprisingly interesting to me.  Different would be Strength, a trait I often dump on.  Given how poor Tatakisu’s Traits/Rings are, flippant skill buys are dangerous for making him increasingly irrelevant to higher rank parties.

It’s a conundrum inside a labyrinth being encircled by a Dysan Sphere.  I really can’t think of what to do, but doing nothing is incredibly inefficient as any Trait/Ring bump at this time may matter a lot, while skill/emphasis buys now are less generally impactful but check things off of whatever the checklist is.

Tomato Pie And Colder Than Saudi

March 22, 2019

Makes your eyes glow and your other face say … hiya.

How many people are going to get this?  Have to have some particular Americana understanding to get the brillianceosity of my post title.

This will be a travel post (not to be confused with a Travell post), so therefore it will be oodles of popular.  To mitigate the unbridled joy that comes with these sorts of posts, let’s first consult the wisdom of the Ultimate Combat! booster.

The earth is not a creature of the air.

You haven’t seen my Kakita Bushi build yet.  But, then, neither have I.  Earth was strong in my recent trek.  As was air.  And, water.  You know, it’s probably a good thing when fire isn’t a strong element to a trip, though I did have BBQ twice.  Oh, yeah, will talk about food, too, because … ratings.

To destroy the foe, first attack his base.

Sounds too political, though there’s a supers concept in here.

Eliminate one of your foe’s arms.

Walther PPK?  Golden Gun?  Stormbringer?  Oh, arms, like as in arms.

A primordial roar can push your attack home to victory.

Because eliminating an arm is just a set up, not a win.  This is a weird pack for drafting.  For sealed, it would lend itself to a Fighting Spirit focus.  Terrible gold belt card, yet amusing and not useless.  Better to run gold belt Primal Kiai or white belt Kiai in a deck?  Even ignoring rarity, probably the latter for easy cycle +2 damage.

Still rambling, the trek I’m not referring to but qualifies as a trek and is more gaming related is the one we made to Fresno on March 10th.  I ran a mod that has a great beginning and a more involved not-beginning than I felt from playing it.  I played in a mod that was almost there but not as good as a similar mod from HoR3.

Oh, lizard leavings.  I totally forgot that I had another blog post idea.  I was going to write about everyone’s single most favorite thing ever – listening to someone talk about their RPG character.  Well, maybe I’ll write that tonight as well and do the clever thing of scheduling the publishing of that for when I won’t be writing a new blog post [um, isn’t that most of the time?].

See, I have enough XP to … [to be elaborately detailed elsewhere] …

Proof … Not That Kind, Waterproof.

We begin with …  Well, not the first day, when we got in at 11PM at night.  Was this the next day, the day I spent more than eight hours doing work during my vacation?  I think it may have been, though could have been the third.  Thing #1 about Charleston that doesn’t get mentioned a lot to people who aren’t really that likely to go to Charleston – lot of islands or “islands”.

The Sun and I are rivals. See how he makes my pictures suck with his nonfernal light.

Day three was touristing.  Starting with Charles Pinckney House.  It’s not much of a house.  The grounds aren’t the most interesting thing ever.  But, it does seem a really sweet spot for a picnic, if you are into that sort of thing.

Thing #2 – the emphasis on the history of slaves.  Gullah Culture comes up a ton.  I thought the Gullah Bible was interesting with how it moved between clear English and less clear.

I could post a picture from the tea plantation, the only tea plantation in North America and a locale where I learned some things about tea making.  But, they aren’t that good.  I, then, have a bunch of pictures of trees.  I’m self aware enough to realize that I waste a lot of MB on pictures of nature that aren’t that interesting as pictures because I like trees … and clean water (salt or fresh).  I don’t take much in the way of pictures of people.  Sure, I have some selfies, but they tend to be so horrific/painful that I only show them to people I know who can make comments like “Who’s that?”

My first tomato pie experience was at Tomato Shed.  Maybe it had some crust mixed in, maybe it didn’t.  What worked really well was mixing my tomato pie filling, which was kind of overwhelming, with my other side of pasta.  Tomatoes and pasta!?!  Who knew they could go together?  Who?  I had a tomato pie later that was much more pie-y, also rather too cheesy.

Lot more Spanish Moss on other trees. This is the back of the house, btw.

Okay, you can see how my oeuvre may be that of houses through trees.  The McLeod Plantation was really pretty in those places with trees, including across the street as you head toward the water.  It was strangely windy while we were there.  Strange in that it was inconsistently windy.  Thing #A that I proclaim based upon my extensive research/experience – March is a really good time for Charleston if you want pleasant weather and color (not a racist remark, think flowers blooming, see, now I’m overly sensitive).

The land of the free, the home of the brave.

On Saturday, we went to Yemassee.  For the ruins?  The Chinese food from China Town?  Because our cousin’s other side of the family has roots there.  So, Palmetto Pimento Sandwich with strawberry preserves dipping sauce and, of course, squash puppies.  The cheese-bacon-cheese sandwich was kind of … sort of … cheesy.  But, the strawberry preserves balanced the sweet and cheese into goodly eats.  The squash puppies are truly good.  I had them with and without ranch dressing and without was better.  On a ranking of Super Saiyan transformations, Fletcher’s squash puppies would …

Have a more striking picture of ruins but this has more trees.

Besides the “monkey farm”, Yemassee has a few other things mentioned on TripAdvisor.  One of those very lowcountryish things is the Sheldon Church Ruins.  Had a geniusy observation while reading tombs/tombstones (I maintain a *strong* cemetery to beach ratio in my travels).  The English used was extremely standard – no archaic words or spellings or grammar.  The font variations were kind of weird, with some of them being rather hard to read.  Taken together, it’s almost like a movie set how the colonial or 19th century inscriptions felt rather modern.

We also got Chinese while we were in Yemassee because Thing #3 – there’s virtually no difference between Charleston and China.  Our cousin told us a joke about this, but it should be obvious once you get used to Charleston Tea everywhere and can pick up rice at …

Trees and water, though not the cleanest water. But, you could say the Clarest [sorry].

The Holy City.  Should I spell out the connection or just have people who know where this picture was taken “get” my obscure references?  As soon as I care about adding polls to my blog, I’ll poll y’all.  Thing #4 – besides USC still taking a moment to process and the sports page’s focus on college sports, you don’t get a lot of historical background on the Southeast when you grow up in the Bay Area.  Guess that’s why folks like traveling the US – it ain’t a single state, it’s almost like it’s a dozen or more states.

So, you may be wondering about gaming content.  I did show my cousin Traveller cards.  But, mostly, I had on my mind RPG adventures.  First, I was thinking about ideas for a L5R mod and had one main idea.  But, Sheldon Church’s ruins and the monkey farm got me thinking about a modern setting adventure set in Yemassee where a monkey escapes from the “Monkey Farm” (of course) and you go by the ruins to … do something.  Plus, every body of fresh water has gators (because they do).  While plantation life didn’t hit me from the standpoint of living in another time without air conditioning and with slavery an actual thing, I was struck by the Loraxes, er, the trees and how really pleasant it could be to have landscaped properties on a scale completely unknown in my suburban experiences.

Part of the gardens. Timing mes amis, timing.

Nathaniel Russell House is not quite as out of my normal experiences as plantation sized properties with old oaks.  I’ve done a couple house tours on Oahu (sure, why not?), so I’ve seen scenic scenes.

One is available in Norway.

We quenched our thirsts with native libations.

Not a water taxi.

We traversed the high seas, moving ever closer toward a vessel ahead.

I did also think about how to advance Miya Tatakisu …

And, there is your in depth report on gaming in the Southeast.


February 3, 2019

Not that I have any playcalling cred, but maybe use your two tailbacks at once, throw to a tight end, run some screens before the fourth quarter, bootleg, end around, jet sweep, quarterback draw, draw, play from the shotgun, run hurry up, or run anything remotely different.  Good D.  Not terribly entertaining.


So, I played my 7 Masterless deck Thursday.  I play Wudang Monks.  So much hate.  Now, 7 Masters + 5 Auramancers is something I’ve played in a tournament before, but, just because an opponent had an Auramancer in play as I played a second WM and a third WM, somehow WM is too OP to live.

Speaking of living, we almost had an Underworld Coronation played, except two hitters were unaffected by events, so we played around UC for the rest of the game up until the point that the Reascended player played every Reascended in his deck and powered through for the win with the UC having been discarded earlier.  At no point in the game did my OP Monks or any of my other characters reduce a site’s body to zero.

Of course, my “Mountain Hermit” deck doesn’t make much use of Mountain Hermit as WM can unturn a Hermit, but the Hermit can’t unturn a WM.  My Occult Kung Fus (picking Dark Traveler, of course) got me three Fighting.  My Bridge of Birds was used more effectively by the Reascended (Cabinet Minister) than by me.  I think the better version makes use of Auramancers, maybe Netherworld Tricksters, other good stuff, and probably drops the Mountain Hermits for more cards that provide magic.  I’m not sure how this deck plays as is, though, as I drew five WMs and no removal in a deck that runs some removal.

Sure, we all had to start counting power using dice rather than counters because of multiple Bull Markets, Tranquil Peaks use, and whatnot, but that only does something when you spend that power to affect the game state.


I finally got out to the local Groundhog Day event.  I thought I had been to one before, but I tend to travel a lot this time of year or have some commitment as it’s close to DunDraCon, so I can’t recall if I have.

I just think it’s a really well written/produced movie.  It has a really good tempo to it.  It stays true to its concept.

I played Blood Rage, Key Flow, and Elysium.  All for the first time.  Blood Rage played differently than I thought it would, where I screwed up the second age massively by trying to contest Yggdrasil burning out my Rage to where I couldn’t play my hand full of upgrades, then I was irrelevant in the third age.  Winner won by two, while I was 40 points or whatever behind.  I would play it again, but I didn’t like it that much.  The Yggdrasil location just annoys me.

Key Flow is the sort of game that knowing how games turn out helps a lot.  I ended up in second by accidentally playing lots of animals, which wasn’t remotely my plan.  The winner (also won Blood Rage for the standard twofer) crushed us with heavily upgraded late game structures.  I would probably find this fine to play about the same number of times as 7 Wonders, which is a few.

Elysium saw me get ahead early and get crushed late as I still don’t understand scoring based on the incredibly unhelpful help cards.  Because I like mythology, I thought the game was fine up until the point it was over.  I have no interest in this game at all.  It’s actually rather boring, plays slow with people who don’t know the cards, lacks effects that interest me, doesn’t make me feel like the chrome matters at all.  If everyone knows the cards, I imagine it’s an easy game to play for people who want something lighter, but one could just play something else.  I think I’d rather play Ticket to Ride.


I was reading some L5R 4e books partially because I’m playing in HoR4 where mechanics might matter to my character, though not really as courtiers don’t get anything like kata, kiho, spells.  And, there’s one path relevant to my character which I was well aware of before playing this character, since Imperials get dumb mechanics where ronin have far more options.  Brotherhood Monks may have more options, though one would only know if one cared.

I got to thinking about campaign ideas.  I know.  This is dumb.  But, it was interesting.  I have this thought of a Hengeyokai campaign.  All of the PCs would be Hengeyokai with some sort of task that binds them together.  It would be a campaign where the PCs should be faking being samurai (or non-samurai, after all, still a reason to party together no matter what you are, though a traveling geisha character may be a stretch).  Might make far more sense as a one-shot, but …

… Why would I want to play a L5R one-shot?  I mean, using 1e, 3e, or 4e.  Obviously, a 5e one-shot to learn the mechanics makes sense.  So many modules, not just HoR modules, and box sets I’ve played are like one-shots.  So I can play a Brotherhood Monk who used to be a ronin who has Dark Secret revealed and becomes a Lost Akutenshi?

If I struggle to see playing L5R as a one-shot, what else?  Conan?  I think I do see where I stopped trying to get into con games of Conan because one-shots have the same problem of not providing anything I haven’t already done.

I can still see playing Feng Shui, which would probably only ever be one-shots given that 1e doesn’t work that great and 2e isn’t even trying to be a game for campaign play, but replaying Big Trouble in Little China for something like the fourth or fifth time isn’t really attractive.


I had opened an Ultimate Combat! booster before my last post and couldn’t fit in the flavor text I wanted to.  It still doesn’t fit.

Utter chaos blasts through the arena.

As a draft pack, the first pick is obvious, the second pick is less so.  As a sealed pack, while the technique is garbage, the pack is bountiful.

Strength X.  Warrior’s Helmet.  Strength 1.  Speed 1.  Gi Patch – Owl.  Combination 1.  Psychic Storm.

That’s a possible draft order, with Strength 1 being possibly better than Warrior’s Helmet if you can sligh your deck or have Adrenaline.  Of course, if you have Strength X, you would want Speed 1 more.  Why Strength 1 over Speed 1 everything else being irrelevant?  Banana Peel in Limited.  Combination 1 could even be the second pick, though highly unlikely.  Psychic Storm might be a first pick if you were playing a multiplayer variant.  Yup, UC! made cards for multiplayer play.  I’d still take Psychic Storm over bad cards or extra technique for the possible “get ahead and end the game” ability, especially if I knew someone else had Favorite Technique or a weapon (either is rather likely if I don’t get them) for the reach ability.  If I had drafted healing, healing, and more healing plus had some way to deal damage, could also see it maybe mattering, though far more likely a defensive draft deck would play a decking strategy where Psychic Storm would be awful.

The art of Psychic Storm may be UC! level art, but I do like the vivid red of action cards with the gold rarity symbol.  Plus, it has an awesome name.


The next time I post, I may have 2019 True Dungeon tokens.  Will that cause me to think of anything to say about TD?

I could write about how the change in plans for Origins is disappointing, but it’s not that big of a deal to me.  Affects others far more.

DunDraCon is coming.  I’ll be running Traveller events, look to play in the V:TES event, be commuting back and forth so I might not try to play a RPG after all.  Only expect to be there Saturday and Sunday.