Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Rokugan's favorite 007 is back! And while the Ikoma Spymasters have decided to change their name to the more menacing Lion's Shadow, their ability to deal with violence and intrigue in a cool and suave manner has not. The school is now a Tier 2 bushi school for 4ED, but now offers a powerful courtier/bushi hybrid to players and GMs alike.
The school overall is designed to provide a jack of all trades approach. The first two techniques have been reduced from their original incarnation, but neither are less potent in the current 4th Edition environment. But it is not until the Ikoma makes School Rank 3 that the underhanded ninja action really starts to show. By sacrificing one's honor to use subversive tactics, the Ikoma increases his ability to strike at foes in combat and in court. The latter two techniques only cement this position. An Ikoma Lion's Shadow is effective both in combat and social situations, but will likely be shown up by a dedicated bushi or courtier. To defeat each them, a savvy Ikoma will fight underhandedly and place each opponent in a situation that puts them at a maximum disadvantage just like their namesake Ancestor.
The Ikoma Lion's Shadow can also become decent duelists if played right. They don't have all the awesome techniques like the Kakita and Mirumoto Bushi, but they do have the social skills to manipulate the situation in their favor. The Rank 1 technique is probably the only technique that offers a direct bonus in a duel. However, the Rank 5 technique, if it's used before an iaijutsu duel, also gives an interesting defense to the Ikoma. Sure, the Ikoma may lose the Focus roll and his opponent may be striking first, but with a hefty penalty to their Strike roll the Ikoma's opponent may likely miss (especially if the Ikoma spends a Void Point to enhance his Armor TN). And if you have a very generous GM that lets you take Iaijutsu for your last School Skill (instead of the High or Low Skill), the Rank 2 technique will help cement you in the ranks of the dedicated duelists.
Great Advantages for the Ikoma Lion's Shadow are:
*Perceived Honor: *Sigh* Yeah, it's awesome being 007, but you're also a Lion Samurai. And living within an ultra-honorable clan, this advantage allows the Ikoma to fuel his Rank 3 without having another Lion gut you because of your occasional indiscretion (of course in the Clan's service mind you).
*Prodigy: Combined with your Rank 2, you'll be getting an awesome +2k0 bonus to help you succeed your base TNs on school skills. Not too bad at all if I may so Mr. Bond.
Monday, May 30, 2011
This bad boy school is finally back by popular demand! Thus, we introduce the Shinjo Bushi as our first featured school for Emerald Empire. The Shinjo school specializes in mounted warfare like its cousin schools in the Unicorn Clan. However, this iconic school is also decidedly distinct in that a major portion of the school's techniques emulate combat skills learned by the Unicorn during their travels in the Burning Sands: parrying and riposting. This eccentric combat style can provide the Shinjo Bushi with some unique tactics to throw off their opponents. For example, perhaps one of the more subtle aspects of the Rank 4 technique is that a Shinjo Bushi can enter combat in the Defense Stance, but if attacked the Shinjo can riposte after an opponent's attack and then enter the Attack Stance. This tactic results in a Shinjo Bushi that can still utilize their first Turn to make attacks in the Attack Stance, despite already having benefited from the Defense Stance before the Shinjo's first Turn. This can be quite useful if the Shinjo Bushi is fighting faster opponents or if the Shinjo wants to wager that this tactics can result in a third attack on the first turn. The Rank 2 technique also has its perks, since the Shinjo's parry forces the Shinjo and his opponent into a Contested Agility roll. A Contested Agility roll is a fairly rare roll and it will typically strip an opponent of any combat advantages he might have garnered from his techniques or skill.
However, melee combat is not just this school's specialty. Instead, most Shinjo Bushi are skilled at horse-archery like their cousins in the Utaku Battle Maiden school. Combined with the Rank 1 technique, a Shinjo Bushi can make for an excellent marksman. And fortunately for you toxophilites out there, you also have the option of taking the Shinjo Scout path to replace the more melee-oriented Rank 2 technique. This path is also great for any Shinjo Bushi suffering from insatiable wanderlust!
Now the third major theme of the Shinjo Bushi is the Way of the Ki-Rin. Some outsiders have often mused that Shinjo Bushi tend to be very lucky in combat. But the Unicorn know better --- their cousins in the Shinjo Bushi school are "dancing with the Fortunes." You see the Unicorn Clan is quite right when they say that the Shinjo are not just being lucky. Instead, Shinjo Bushi are actually enhancing and prolonging their ability to spend Void Points, akin in many ways to a Shiba Bushi. For example, the Rank 1 Technique of the Shinjo Bushi can result in an extremely potent bonus, since the technique can potentially more-than-double the effectiveness of spending a Void Point for a +1k1 bonus. Thus, when playing a Shinjo Bushi, the optional School Skill should be chosen very carefully. Will it be the Battle Skill? Or perhaps the Stealth skill? And fortunately for the Shinjo Bushi, the Shinjo Bushi Rank 5 technique also makes it much easier to spend Void Points to fuel the Rank 1 technique.
Useful Advantages for the Shinjo Bushi are:
*Chosen By the Oracles (Void): This advantage helps improve the Shinjo's chances of making the Void Ring Roll to activate the Rank 5 technique, especially if the character is activating the technique when on foot.
*Friends of the Elements (Fire): As mentioned above, the Contested Agility Roll is pretty rare. Thus, a Shinjo Bushi can gain a notable advantage on this roll by buying this advantage.