Twenty Questions Character Creation in L5R 4Ed Part 2

Wow, so apparently my last post got a warm reception as far as number of views goes. This is part two of the series. For part one, click here.

11. Does your character have any prejudices?

Scorpion ClanLike most, Masatsune’s not fond of the Scorpion clan because he believes they enjoy twisting the truth. He also assumes that everyone he meets has a tendency to lie, either to save face or because the truth is sometimes brutal and often hard to hear.



12. To whom does your character owe the most loyalty?

Masatsune serves the family daimyo and is most loyal to him.

13. What are my character’s favorite and least favorite things?

Masatsune enjoys a quiet evening spent in study or meditation. He gets precious little of these and covets the ones he does get. A close second for him is communing with kami he hasn’t spoken with before. This really appeals to his curiosity even if it is dangerous.

14. Does your character have any recurring mannerisms?

Masatsune has a strange gaijin habit of cracking his knuckles when his mind is busy problem-solving.

15. What about your character’s emotions?

Masatsune is most likely to display an eagerness when presented with an opportunity to learn something new. It might even be called giddiness. He tries hard to suppress this emotion unless he’s very comfortable with the people around him.

Anger is the easiest emotion for him to hold in check. He’s almost incapable of it.

16. How would your character handle a subordinate’s improper behavior?

Masatsune will seek to forgive minor infractions (and even more egregious behavior occasionally), unless the subordinate displays a pattern of impropriety. In those cases, seppuku becomes necessary.

17. How would your character’s parents describe him?

Masatsune is an orphan and only child. He knows very little about his parents and has been unable to find out anything substantial about them. Rumors say that they died beyond the boundaries of Rokugan. (This will dovetail nicely with John’s character, who has a strong sense of family).

18. What is your character’s highest ambition?

Masatsune aspires to be known by kami both within Rokugan and without. This also means he wishes to be a powerful shugenja (the two go hand in hand in his mind). He is willing to go to great lengths, as long as dishonesty is not required.

19. How religious is your character?

Like most shugenja, Masatsune is religious, but his devotion has a slightly different flavor. He sees the kami as more enlightened and powerful beings. He believes them to be a higher class of being, but open to sin, as an honesty view of history will attest to. He does not make many visits to the temple, preferring instead to offer prayers out of doors.

20. How will your character die?

Masatsune assumes his death will come in the wild places of the world, far from Rokugan. He also seems himself advising others as an ancestor spirit.

I’m thinking for the next post, I’ll try and attach the actual character sheet filled out.

Twenty Questions Character Creation in L5R 4Ed Part 1

For my brother-in-law’s campaign, I decided to roll up a character and share the results with all of you. After two failed starts – which focused a little too much on mechanics (“crunch”) instead of roleplaying (“fluff”) – I decided to play the game of twenty questions listed on page 100 of the L5R sourcebook. I’ve split this process into two posts. Part 2 is here.

Iuchi Masatsune

1. What Clan?

Unicorn Clan MonI decided to be a member of the Unicorn clan. This is a clan of wanderers, curious and not immediately distrustful of gaijin (non-Rokugani). They are also known for their compassion towards those under their care. The Unicorn clan clan also has a good relationship with the Crane clan – which is what my other brother-in-law’s character is.

2. What Family?

I’ve already decided that I’m going to play a shugenja, so the Iuchi family is a natural fit.

3. Bushi, Sugenja, or Courtier?

I gave away this one in the last question. I definitely want to play a shugenja to John’s bushi. Hopefully the complexity of playing a spellcaster won’t be my undoing.

4. How would others describe my character’s appearance?

His hair is cropped short with long sideburns neatly trimmed. His goatee is also neatly trimmed. His garments are purple and silver – the colors of his clan. On the left, closest to his heart, is the mon (circular symbol – think Dragonball Z if your imagination fails you) of his school. On the right, near his sword-arm, is the symbol for the Iuchi family. Upon the back of his kimono is the symbol of the Unicorn clan.

5. What is my character’s primary motivation?

Exploration of the world and how it works. This drives him to speak with the Kami and explore the world outside of Rokugan.

6. Who is the person my character trusts most in the world?

This is one I’m going to have to discuss with the GM. I think the person he’d trust most in the world is the teacher of his school. Hopefully, you’ll forgive me for punting on this one.

7. What is my character’s greatest strength and weakness?

His greatest strength is his ability to think “outside the box.” Gaijin influence has given him a different perspective at times.

His greatest weakness is that his dedication to honesty leaves him unable to lie at all. He must even point out the lies of others.

8. What does your character think of Bushido?

My character thinks Bushido is an admirable thing. He also thinks it – in its entirety – is unattainable. He considers Gi (Honesty) the most important tenet, and Rei (Courtesy) as least important. He values Jin (Compassion), but not as highly as most in his clan. This is not to say that he is heartless or cruel, but his honesty and frequent lack of courtesy tend to make people view him as cold or distant. The air of mystery that surrounds him as a shugenja doesn’t help, either.

9. What is my character’s opinion of his clan?

He thinks highly of his clan, the Unicorn. He admires their curiosity, and their willingness to explore the regions outside of Rokugan. Like most Unicorn, he believes that the Empire is only true safe when it knows the threats from without.

10. Is my character married?

He’s not married because he leads a more solitary life because of his training as a shugenja. He believes marriage is important, but his fate lies in a different direction for now.

What does everyone think of this method? I’m sure I’m seen something similar in other sourcebooks, but I believe this is the first time I’ve used something like it to generate a character. Do you tend to generate a character by asking yourself questions? Do you just think of a concept and then hang mechanics off of it? Let me know by commenting.

Question about Theogony

I like to consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to mythology. I always find the part about the universe’s creation (cosmology) and the birth of the gods (theogony) fascinating. I was reading through the second chapter of the L5R and saw the familiar son-usurps-father theme.

That got me to thinking, are there mythologies that don’t involve this particular theme? I don’t believe the world-egg cosmology involves it, but that’s the only one I can think of.

Initial Thoughts on L5R Character Creation

I bought my brothers-in-law the fourth edition Legend of the Five Rings sourcebook in PDF form from DriveThruRPG for Christmas.

L5R 4Ed Cover

L5R 4Ed Cover

They’re both fascinated with feudal Japan (the younger one in particular). They both like D&D, but after seeing this new edition of Legend of the Five Rings, I thought they might enjoy it more. It was also a wonderful opportunity to branch out a bit from my D&D-centric world.

Corey (the younger brother-in-law) will be the GM, and John and I will be the players. This will be Corey’s first foray as a gamemaster (GM), and his excitement is evident.

This post will not cover character creation in detail, nor will it go over all of the mechanics. I’ll make some observations of things that surprised me or things that I really liked or disliked.

Some Basic Mechanics

The first aspect of character creation that took me by surprise was that stats do not seem as important as skill ranks. My reading of the mechanics of the Roll and Keep system appear to support this, but I could be wrong. Time will tell.

The essence of the Roll and Keep system is the target number (TN) set by the GM. TN represents the difficulty or complexity of the task (similar to the DC in D&D 4E). A character’s skill determines how many d10s to roll. The stat associated with the skill then determines how many of these rolls to keep (Roll and Keep, get it?).

For example, let’s say that our character, Otobe, has 3 skill ranks in Spellcraft. Intelligence is the stat associated with Meditation. Let’s say his intelligence is 2. He has a 3k2 for Spellcraft (Int) checks. The GM declares the difficulty of identifying a lingering magical effect as 20. Our player rolls a 9, 7, and 3 on his d10s. He keeps the 9 and 7 for a total of 16. Unfortunately, this falls short of the 20 required to identify the effect.

This concept of rolling a selection of dice and keeping some of them really appeals to me for some reason. Maybe it’s just the idea of rolling something over than a d20. Maybe it’s the illusion of choice in which to keep (because under normal circumstances one will keep the highest rolls). I’d be interested to see how the probability distribution of multiple d10s differ from that of a d20.

The list of skills is detailed without being overwhelming. It falls somewhere between D&D 3.5E (many and focused) and D&D 4E (few and broad). Some of them and their intended uses look intriguing.

The system also includes advantages and disadvantages, which I am a big fan of. I like the added customization and roleplaying hooks it can give players and GMs.

Have any of you played L5R, either this edition or previous ones? How does the skill system work in game? Do you like the advantages / disadvantages? Most importantly, am I correct in my assumption that skills weigh more heavily than stats?

Aldurukh Keep – Stillborn Campaign

So the Aldurukh Keep campaign is stillborn. I’m disappointed, but I don’t really have the time to DM a campaign right now. The ideas I had for it will inevitably crop up somewhere else later. My condolences to those of you who read the first two posts and anticipated more. Maybe I’ll do a post on my concept for the campaign. Would any of you be interested in that?

The D&D Virtual Table

Update: Added link to guest post by Sarah Darkmagic at

So I’ve now had the opportunity to play with the D&D virtual table beta a little bit. I’ve read a few blog posts about the virtual table (some of which are linked below), but I thought I’d chime in with a few more thoughts. Some of these I haven’t seen anyone specifically mention, probably because I’m pondering it as a replacement for the D&D 3.5e campaign I am currently playing in. It would replace a home-brew JavaScript battle grid one of the other players wrote and instant messaging with Skype.

First, what the virtual table does well. It was fairly easy to take an existing encounter map that my group is currently using and recreate it using the selection of tiles available. I was able to input the characters and our current initiative order without too much trouble (more on that below). I’ve not had the occasion to use any other online game tables until now, but the consensus I’ve read is that the virtual table delivers the core functionality needed in an application of this nature.

With that out of the way, I’ll move on to the criticisms, which I intend to be constructive. Most of these are minor, nice-to-have features. They certainly will not keep me from using it if they are missing.

  • No way to tell what size a monster token is. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is definitely a feature I’d like to see before virtual table goes live.
  • I’d like a way to enter initiatives directly without having to roll.
  • It would be very nice to be able to add all monsters on the map and have initiatives to go with them, either by rolling or entering directly or both.
  • The virtual table should be able to account for characters and monsters that have the same initiative order. This is a frequent occurrence and needs to be addressed.
  • This last one is something I’d love to see but is probably self-serving on my part. I would like to be able to export the chat log.

All in all, I’ve been very pleased with the virtual table thus far. Below are some other posts that I’ve found very helpful.

Has anyone else had any experience with the virtual table? Have you tried running any older editions of D&D with it?