The Empire Reborn
I ran this game once before, nearly a decade earlier. It had high points and low points. The game had amazing player generated stories and content. Originally everyone was thinking the game would be more like Risk but via email. However, the players really owned Character development and interactions, and we had some really neat stuff occur. Great heroes and great villians evolved from the players, some amazing rivalries and interactions. I hope we can have that again!
I wanted to have this page to put to paper some of my thoughts on how that game went, and to indicate to folks who were invited to play gain what was changes in the rules and what could be different during play.
What is different:
- Better Clan Balance: The various Clans weren’t as play-balanced as they could have been. I tried to address that. Starting Koku and province production has been better balanced, as has unit costs. A number of the Clan schools were not that great, so I’ve tried to better balance them so not everyone wants the Lion Bushi school.
- Better Character Balance: Extreme characters (those who dumped all their points in one area) seemed to wreak havoc and not in a good way, so I made some changes there. Rings now only go to 5, instead of 10, though each Clan has a speciality Ring that can go to 6. Advantages and Disadvantages have been better systemitized, having a clearer mechanics on how they operate.
- Battle System Tweaks: Ranged attacks now have their own phase prior to melee attacks. Its less likely to have one army completely wipe out a second with zero losses, depending on the unit composition.
- Improved Honor System: The old Honor system chafed some folks the wrong way. How was it that Husaki, one of the greatest “Good Guys” of the game, was scraping the barrel at 1 honor? So I seperated out a Status mechanic to go alongside Honor. Status is now public opinion while Honor is more personal moral resolve. Slightly more complicated, but I think better representitive of the kinds of interactions. Status and Honor have greater impact on the game as well, making them more relevant.
- Transparent, Simplified Shadowlands Mechanics: The “pros and cons” of maho use and Taint were never clear to everyone on the old game, only to those who were using them. They were also a bit overpowered. A new section covers the Shadowlands Taint and its effects in a system that applies to everyone. In addition, the Shadowlands are no longer an active NPC group but more of an Event that can occur on any clan, and not just the poor Crab.
Other lessons learned are to step back and let the players create more stories, especially after the fist 6 turns or so. As such, as a GM I will do much less creation of events that aren’t part of the random rules, letting players decide alliances, alleigences, and whether or not to embrace maho as an advancement tool.