I mentioned Thursday that I was prepping for the first session of the third generation in my L5R game. That game happened on Friday, and it went over very well if I do say so myself. However, one of the things I didn't talk about Thursday is how I am tweaking the mechanics to help give the feel I want for this generation. This will likely be something I do with every generation going forward, but today I felt I'd go over what I am doing and the why behind it.
The Feel I Want
I want a more "action hero" feel for this generation, with the emphasis on the word Hero (capital H hero too.) I have 5 bushi PCs in the game with a potential 6th joining soon. That's a lot of people to make heroes, but considering when I say heroes I mean for the Emerald Empire, so there is plenty of room for six of them, or even more if need be.
What That Feel Means
Now the fact that I want war based action hero feel in the game means that combat is simply put going to have to be a thing. The only problem with that is that Rokugan is by default a very lethal universe, and we have already made some modifications to the system to make it fit that feeling of lethality. Simply put, if a fight goes a little wrong we're going to end up with a dead PC or three, and that is something I'm going to have to address. That feeling of lethality is also something that I'm going to have to overcome with the PCs themselves. They're going to have to feel that they can perform great actions otherwise they won't try to do the heroics when the time is right. So how am I addressing this?
Final Fantasy Inspired Death Rules
I'm toying around with a number of options for how death in combat will work, but one that I am liking is to take the death mechanic from the Final Fantasy games. Essentially, if you die in a fight you are out of the fight. If the group wins the fight, then everyone who was downed is actually at 1 wound from dead and left alive. If the group drops, then I have a TPK on my hands and either have to address that or just accept it.
Now, there would be exceptions to this. For example, character sacrifice - or if a player wanted (with my group this is possible) - could still lead to death. I could also allow for something like an overkill mechanic causing death. For example, if the roll that killed you put you at a negative number equal to half your wounds, then you are "for reals" dead.
The trick here is that falling in combat has to be meaningful and penalizing, but not to the point that I constantly have to cycle out my heroes. Of course, I can help that along with the next step too...
Easier To Replenish Void Points
L5R has a mechanic called Void Points, they are points a player can spend to soak wounds, increase rolls, and increase their difficulty to be hit. They're powerful points, and by default in the rules they are VERY hard to get ones hands on. I am making this easier by re-enstating a rule from 3rd ed which had a higher "heroic feel" level in mind when being designed. This should keep players in void points more, which will enable them to do even more things.
Beyond that for big events I will likely hand out void points in greater doses, particularly as a reward for those great deeds that I want my players to do. Between the two they should have ample reason to want to do the heroics without having to fear the consequences while still having the chance of failure be meaningful.