New D&D Player

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Nyarlathotep
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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Nyarlathotep » Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:22 am UTC

Ahh.

I muts have gotten it mixed up as the character I played with said feat was a thri-kreen dervish. and I KNOW that Dervish Dance lets you attack while moving.

That was good times. Especially with a 70 ft / round speed.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
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þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

Serrin
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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Serrin » Sat Oct 06, 2007 1:19 am UTC

Pounce is plenty easy to get. There's a Catfolk feat, there's a boost in Tome of Battle that gives you pounce on an attack, there's psionic lion's charge, which grants pounce, and best of all, Complete Crusader has a substitution at level 1 which gives barbarians pounce instead of something. Fast movement, I think. Frenzied Berserker just got that much more brutal. And I've got way too much to say on this topic.

First order of business: if you're going to be a wizard or sorcerer, read this guide. It's mainly for wizards, but it's not too bad for sorcerers or anyone else who share a spell list with wizards. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18500

Secondly:
If you're in a role playing campaign that is about role playing just take whatever classes suit your character idea, and to hell with optimization. The world is full of complicated mathematical optimization problems, but good roleplaying is rare and should be taken when offered. Start with a concept of who you want to be, worry about rules later.

What's important is no player feels like they aren't contributing, and people get roughly equal "screen time". Basically, if players are nice to each other you can have different power levels and not worry about this. (especially if combat is not teh sole focus of the campaign... which it too often is)


If you're in a good roleplaying campaign...chances are you aren't playing D&D. My advice is to optimize somewhat decently (anything with a large list and full caster levels is optimized decently...wizard, sorcerer, druid, or cleric 20 are all perfectly good, powerful characters), because chances are you're getting in a bad roleplaying game, a bad hack and slash combat game, or a good hack and slash combat game. If the players are nice, people can share importance, but the players aren't always nice. So be able to hold your own, and you'll be able to be the nice guy, and not the weak guy who relies on the nice guys to stand aside every now and then.

As for sorcerer vs. wizard, sorcerers require a bit more finesse. Wizards are a half spell level ahead of them (sorcs get level 2 spells when they turn level 3, wizards get them at level 2), and get to repick their spells every day, with whatever is in their spellbooks. Sorcerers, when they pick spells, know that spell for the rest of their lives, with less chance for swapping out things that don't work. On the other hand, they're lighter on the bookkeeping. Both classes can be harsh to total newbs, but if you have much of a gaming background, neither one is overwhelming.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Vaniver » Sat Oct 06, 2007 1:50 am UTC

Yakk wrote:Paladins are simple to create as well, but they require a delicate touch to Roleplay.
I hate the way the paladin class is made. I'd call it a fairly restrictive introduction to roleplaying, and mechanically you're probably better off just going cleric if you want to be a divine fighter.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Dan Frank
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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Dan Frank » Sat Oct 06, 2007 11:49 am UTC

Serrin wrote:If you're in a good roleplaying campaign...chances are you aren't playing D&D. My advice is to optimize somewhat decently (anything with a large list and full caster levels is optimized decently...wizard, sorcerer, druid, or cleric 20 are all perfectly good, powerful characters), because chances are you're getting in a bad roleplaying game, a bad hack and slash combat game, or a good hack and slash combat game. If the players are nice, people can share importance, but the players aren't always nice. So be able to hold your own, and you'll be able to be the nice guy, and not the weak guy who relies on the nice guys to stand aside every now and then.


Bah humbug! I disagree with the spirit of your post (though not the actual advice; I don't think a little bit of optimization is a bad thing). All roleplaying systems are played by people who just want to roleplay and barely even understand the numbers associated with their character, and by people who want to optimize the shit out of their characters and be able to cornhole the mightiest of gods. And by everyone in between those absurd extremes.

The only difference is that in the systems that emphasize roleplaying, and use unbalanced combat systems, everything is, well, unbalanced. And it's even easier to break the system, and thus any asshole can ruin a good game with a random broken character.

On the other side, you have game systems that spend most of their effort creating a somewhat more balanced ruleset. And a combat system that's both simple and easy to learn, but also contains additional layers of depth for the experienced player. These systems are harder to break, and so it's less likely that the game will get ruined by a single asshole.

NONE of the rules in the system actually have any impact over how good or bad the roleplaying involved will be. That is entirely up to the group of individuals you are going to play with.

I like D&D because I think it does a damn good job of making a ruleset. What I like best about it is that it is very consistent, so if you understand it well, it's easy to customize as needed. All I want for my games is a damn good ruleset, because the plot and story and all that jazz? I can handle that. I don't need reams upon reams of flavor text. I like building worlds. I like designing terrain, I like creating histories, I like forging civilizations, and I like peppering all of these with interesting and memorable characters. The only thing I want provided for me is a consistent crunchy base, which I can then twerk to my heart's content.

All that being said, however, I will admit that the number of good roleplayers playing D&D isn't very high. Especially if you take it as a percentage of all D&D players. And, I think understanding the rules well and using them to create the best possible incarnation of whatever sort of character you want is an absolutely great thing. So some parts of your post, I agree with.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Nyarlathotep » Sat Oct 06, 2007 2:44 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Yakk wrote:Paladins are simple to create as well, but they require a delicate touch to Roleplay.
I hate the way the paladin class is made. I'd call it a fairly restrictive introduction to roleplaying, and mechanically you're probably better off just going cleric if you want to be a divine fighter.


Pretty much.

It is possible to play paladins well, I've seen it done - but yeah, you're better off doing a cleric.
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hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
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þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Oct 06, 2007 2:56 pm UTC

The only time I've enjoyed playing a Paladin was playing one of a god of Justice. Ran him more or less like a detective... sure, I've got detect evil and I know you're guilty of something, but I can't prove it yet. Yet.

But I'm on to you.


But.. yeah, too often the detect evil ability gets used as a lunatic whack-a-mole button.
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Re: New D&D Player

Postby sillybear25 » Sat Oct 06, 2007 6:25 pm UTC

I would like to get into D&D, but I don't own any of the literature, and I certainly wouldn't want to go purchasing a small library only to find out that it's not my thing...

I think the best way to learn would probably be to play, but I don't really have anyone to play with. Does anyone have any suggestions? I saw someone on another thread suggest OpenRPG for people who want to play but don't have anyone in the meatspace to meet up with, so maybe someone could host an easy game so that new players coud try it out for the first time without buying all the books?
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Serrin
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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Serrin » Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:30 pm UTC

El Dan de Frank: I don't disagree with your observations, except one, I just draw a different conclusion through different logic. Yes, there are easily breakable and inconsistent games worse than D&D. I just think D&D is pretty inconsistent and breakable though.

Exhibit A: Pun pun and the rest of the Theoretical Optimization board.

Exhibit B: "Roleplaying" your level 20 barbarian shrugging off a dozen coup de grace attempts from a level 1 commoner with a dagger who has him tied up with adamantine chains. That's someone spending over a full minute just slashing away at his exposed throat.

Exhibit C: Levels. Levels break reality even worse than HP does.

Exhibit D: D&D, at its heart, is still a game about going into something's home, kicking the doors down, killing the things, and taking their stuff. You can debate this all you want, but consider the number of combat rules and the number of combat rules, the number of prestige classes, feats, and magic items geared towards killing other people, and what most spells in the game tend to do. Consider that the bestiary for D&D is large enough to need its own book (or five). The focus is on combat, and if you're trying to go combat light, you're neglecting the best part of the D&D rules. Have you seen how half-assed the diplomacy rules are? DC50 to turn someone from hostile to helpful. And that's not too difficult to hit in a mid level game.

Now, given that the D&D rules have most of their focus on the Game, and not the Roleplaying, it only makes sense to me that D&D will have few good roleplayers. Not because D&D makes people worse roleplayers, but because people interested in making a serious effort roleplaying will find a system more suited to their tastes. Personally, I like the World of Darkness, once you accept that it's not superheroes with fangs. Don't get me wrong though, I love D&D, because it's a great complex optimization problem without much math involved for my English degree-holding ass. I still play it now and then with some of my better friends, but we play it as a game, not as a roleplaying experience. There's nothing wrong with having fun hacking your way through a Cube-like deathtrap of a dungeon. Survival starts requiring as much brain power as roleplaying does, if not more.

Sillybear: http://www.d20srd.com It's almost all the rules you need to start playing D&D. It's free, legal, and set out by Wizards of the Coast to promote...good things, or stuff. All you need the core 3 books for is the actual xp tables, and the various advice and fluff. Just level up every half dozen fights or so, and you can play D&D without ever spending a dime.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Dan Frank » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:50 am UTC

Perhaps, instead of saying how I find D&D to be a really good ruleset for my games, I should have said I find D20 to be a really good ruleset for my games.

One of the things I like most about D20 is that, if you understand the rules and how they fit together, it's incredibly easy to make your own modifications. The system is so good that it can be made into what you want, easily.

I like that there are no mechanics for which it's possible to "always succeed", like there are in GURPS or BESM. I like that combat has clear rules without getting bogged down with tables, like ICE RPGs used to. I like that it doesn't try to be so freeform that you might as well not even have a fucking rulebook, like the WoD stuff. I like that the classes are balanced enough on their face, so that you need to try harder to break them, unlike say, Palladium.

I'm not saying it's perfect. Far from it. I dislike almost every aspect of their magic system. Luckily, I don't have to use it.

The bottom line is, I think their rules for fighting are well done. I think they flow much faster and much more seamlessly than most combat systems I've used, and with varying degrees of twerking they can easily represent varying degrees of realism.

By the way, nearly every single World of Darkness player I've ever met was a powergaming self-centered prick. And thumbed their noses at D&D players for being powergamers who didn't know how to roleplay. So, that may be coloring my responses here slightly. I'm not trying to lump you in as one of those people unless you want to be lumped in. I am sure that lots of people who play WoD are cool and awesome roleplayers. I just think the elitism ought to be checked at the door.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Nebo » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:30 am UTC

Roleplaying and powergaming are not mutually exclusive. The Stormwind Fallacy

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Serrin » Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:34 am UTC

I hope you're not implicating me in said elitism, as I never claimed that WoD players are all sunshine and roses either (or...uhh...black eyeliner and stage blood). The vast majority of everyone sucks. That's my life philosophy. I've known plenty of bad WoD players as well as bad d20 players.

d20 is interesting. I'll grant it that. It has a lot more crunch than WoD, and it's not too tough to tinker with, though I'd maintain that WoD is even easier still. However, there's still automatically succeed mechanics in d20. Having a skill modifier of higher than the DC? That's an automatic success. Although perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you're saying.

And yes, d20 has a very nice combat system (if we ignore balance issues, which are independent of the system). I hate having to reference stuff in combat too, especially when I'm not doing anything more complex than a basic shoot/stab/maul type action.

When I roleplay, I tend to be a rather buttsavage simulationist, because I find it jarring to be assailed by unrealistic things unexplained by in-game stuff. Things like hit points, and levels, and contrived stories where a balanced group of four professional adventurers is both orders of magnitude as effective an army, and yet somehow everyone joins the army instead of becoming an adventurer...except the PCs, and any important NPCs met during the adventure. Also, how the town guard can't realistically guard anything from anyone in any but the most conflict-torn and well-prepared areas. And the general uselessness of armies in the presence of common area effect attacks. And that if you want to become a better basket weaver, the fastest way is to adventure, because the only way to increase your max skill ranks is to level. d20 handwaves away some rather glaring inconsistencies in favor of game mechanics (for better or worse), and D&D is a game which fails to account for a great deal of d20's mechanical quirks in an IC way, as well as many of the ramifications of its own rules. Now, I'm not saying that these are all complaints that are important, or matter to most people, but these are my objections to using D&D as a platform for serious roleplaying. With all that having been said, are you still confident that it can be made into what I want?Easily?

And for the love of THAC0, quit abusing the Stormwind Fallacy. All it states is that roleplaying and powergaming aren't mutually exclusive. Frank, by saying that there are powergamers who don't know how to roleplay, is tacitly allowing for the existence of powergamers who do know how to roleplay. Otherwise he'd be wasting words. The Stormwind Fallacy doesn't say that all good roleplayers are also good powergamers, or vice versa. It doesn't say that roleplaying and powergaming tend not to be inversely proportional, and it doesn't state that at least one case of a powergamer who's also good at roleplaying is known to exist. It really says almost nothing at all. All you can use it to say is that powergaming is not evidence of a lack of roleplaying, and that roleplaying is not evidence of a lack of powergaming. Nobody here used that reasoning, and I can't figure out for the life of me why you brought it up.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Dan Frank » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:24 am UTC

I like you Serrin, and the more we discuss this, the more I like you.

I wasn't trying to lump you specifically in any category... I think I tried to be clear on that, but I probably vagued it up later in my post. It was late and I lost my train of thought a couple times. But no, I don't know you well enough to know how elitist you are (or aren't).

To be honest, you seem to grasp what I'm trying to say perfectly. Because I have the same problems with D&D that you do. I spend most of my time in D&D using a variety of homebrew rules in order to simulate a more realistic situation. But I still think of it as D&D, or more specifically, D20.

Also, the "auto-success" comment was specifically aimed at systems which have a roll-under-on-dice mechanic, like GURPS or ICE. If you get the stat high enough, you automatically succeed on all relevant checks. Except that when you get to that point then the DM is expected to arbitrarily add penalties so your "maxed" stat is meaningless. The D20 DC system, with a steady progression of bonuses and increasing DCs, feels much more elegant to me. Does that make any sense?


And yes, d20 has a very nice combat system (if we ignore balance issues, which are independent of the system). I hate having to reference stuff in combat too, especially when I'm not doing anything more complex than a basic shoot/stab/maul type action.


Even the more crunchy combat actions tend to be easy to remember and consistent, in my experience. I never need to reference anything for grappling/tripping/bull-rushing etc.

And yeah, I know D&D has balance issues. Magic is just one big balance issue, and even within nonmagic classes you have some silly shit. But that's not an intrinsic flaw in the system. ... Which you yourself said, heh. Okay, we're on the same page here.

When I roleplay, I tend to be a rather buttsavage simulationist, because I find it jarring to be assailed by unrealistic things unexplained by in-game stuff. Things like hit points, and levels, and contrived stories where a balanced group of four professional adventurers is both orders of magnitude as effective an army, and yet somehow everyone joins the army instead of becoming an adventurer...except the PCs, and any important NPCs met during the adventure. Also, how the town guard can't realistically guard anything from anyone in any but the most conflict-torn and well-prepared areas. And the general uselessness of armies in the presence of common area effect attacks. And that if you want to become a better basket weaver, the fastest way is to adventure, because the only way to increase your max skill ranks is to level. d20 handwaves away some rather glaring inconsistencies in favor of game mechanics (for better or worse), and D&D is a game which fails to account for a great deal of d20's mechanical quirks in an IC way, as well as many of the ramifications of its own rules. Now, I'm not saying that these are all complaints that are important, or matter to most people, but these are my objections to using D&D as a platform for serious roleplaying. With all that having been said, are you still confident that it can be made into what I want?Easily?


'Easily' might have been hyperbole, but I just want to say... I feel exactly the same way you do. On every one of your points. No joke. I hate those things. Maybe I feel like it's easy to fix because I have been bit-by-bit twerking the fuck out of the rules since I first cracked open a 3.0 book. Maybe it's harder than I'm acting. But it's very possible, and I think it's worth doing, at least for me, in order to harness the superior combat system.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Serrin » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:24 am UTC

You're not too bad yourself.
Also, the "auto-success" comment was specifically aimed at systems which have a roll-under-on-dice mechanic, like GURPS or ICE. If you get the stat high enough, you automatically succeed on all relevant checks. Except that when you get to that point then the DM is expected to arbitrarily add penalties so your "maxed" stat is meaningless. The D20 DC system, with a steady progression of bonuses and increasing DCs, feels much more elegant to me. Does that make any sense?


That sounds a lot like DCs but in reverse, which I'll grant may be less intuitive, and plain stupid if the penalties are truly arbitrary. The DC system is decent, but that's as generous as I'll be. Bonuses become staggeringly huge with levels, while the d20 is a static source of randomness. 1d20+80 is simply ridiculous. It's also very simple to calculate your chances. I like nWoD a bit more, because you can have dice pools in the triple digits, and you the dice still mean something. On the other hand, the more dice you roll, the closer you get to the average. I'll admit that's not a perfect system either, but I personally prefer it to 1d20+k.

And yes, d20 has a very nice combat system (if we ignore balance issues, which are independent of the system). I hate having to reference stuff in combat too, especially when I'm not doing anything more complex than a basic shoot/stab/maul type action.


This was supposed to be agreeing with you, referencing non-D&D games where you have to consult matrices to see if you can poop.

'Easily' might have been hyperbole, but I just want to say... I feel exactly the same way you do. On every one of your points. No joke. I hate those things. Maybe I feel like it's easy to fix because I have been bit-by-bit twerking the fuck out of the rules since I first cracked open a 3.0 book. Maybe it's harder than I'm acting. But it's very possible, and I think it's worth doing, at least for me, in order to harness the superior combat system.


I'd take the opposite position and say it'd be much easier to spruce up WoD's combat. It basically already has the makings of the move action plus the standard action. The only difference is that "reflexive" actions take your next standard action instead of next swift, and full attacks don't really exist. And honestly, D&D's crunchy combat isn't that special because most character will never take advantage of grapple, sunder, or trip unless they happen to specialize for it. Especially trip. Your alternative is: taking out levels and replacing it with some kind of skill-based advancement, inventing a new mechanic for max hp and making it not scale with xp, balancing that, balancing spells and monsters against that, writing the spell system from scratch, and inventing a setting where the implications of monsters and magic are fully realized, instead of being modeled after a fairly mundane 1500s kingdom, with magic item shops (note: Eberron actually didn't suck at this. Too bad everyone else hates Eberron anyway.), and remodeling player expectations to get rid of the idea that "PCs are special" and "we can win against anything because we're the good guys" (alternatively "we'll always win because the DM wouldn't let us lose"). Now, maybe you've been seeing the flaws one at a time and fixing them as you've found them, but I tend not to houserule that heavily because of high player turnover and having to print enough houserules to make a new rulebook is just terrible, and so while you've been gradually modifying it over the years, I've got stock d20, stock WoD, slightly houseruled D&D, and slightly houseruled WoD. Given my minor customizations, I see fixing WoD as much less work than fixing d20. Alternatively, I could convert the entire setting of L5R instead and then start houseruling it. Where do you stand on that one?

And uh...sorry anyone, who was still interested in the original topic.

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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Dan Frank » Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:01 am UTC

I've actually never touched Legend of the Five Rings (... that's L5R, right?).

And I'll come clean and say I haven't played in WoD in years, and my memory of the rules isn't the best, and it's possible that at the time I was just too stupid to get all of them. The combat system seemed really... weird. I'm not sure.

I agree that 1d20+80 is silly. My games tend to be a little lower level... or mid-level, really, and most of my houserules and/or modifications just make leveling and/or experience gain less... pronounced.

Okay, basically here is what I've got. I have a homebrewed campaign world, which is very fun for me to work on, that has almost none of the standard D&D creatures. A few years ago I ran it with a modified version of the Grim & Gritty variant ruleset, not sure if you're familiar with it. Used to be floating around the web for free but I think Mongoose publishing picked it up a few years back and so it may be less commonly available for free now.

But Grim & Gritty has some huge, glaring flaws. So more recently I went back to the drawing board. This is fun for me, though I know that's not the case for everyone. Hit points are the hardest to balance, but I'm working on it.

The other thing I do, when I run standard D&D games, is... harder to explain. It will probably come out all wrong, but we'll see...

For one thing, I give RP experience. And I create my world assuming that all the NPCs receive RP experience too. So, the range of levels is very different than in standard D&D. Old people = reasonably well leveled, even if they are in non-combat positions. I reconcile some obvious problems that could arise from this by building the non-combat NPCs with certain penalties. But the obvious effect this has is that the grizzled old veteran soldiers in the army could easily be fighters or warriors or whatever, leveled into the teens.

I find that setting the tone of the game, even one run at basically regular D&D rules, can also go a long way towards alleviating some of the unrealistic things like hit points. A good example of this is wounds in-game. Based on how damaging a wound is, I give specific and detailed descriptions. When they do things thereafter, I give cues along these lines... they took an arrow in the leg? Then when they run after the enemy, their leg flares with searing pain. Adrenaline (and the rule system) means they take no mechanical penalties from this. But my players still happily play along in character. When people are magically healed in my games, they get their hit points back. But the magic takes it's own physical toll. Where the wounds were are plagued by short lived phantom aches, they're tired and pale for while, until their body can adjust to the shock of the wounds.

This sort of description carries over into things other than wounds, too. When someone takes a serious blow, and I describe part of it as a hole being smashed in their armor, subsequent hits are frequently described as being caused by that chink, even though they take no mechanical AC penalty. And at the next available opportunity, of course, the players will spend some time or some money to get their armor repaired. In a game I am running currently, they're doing a lot of cross-country traveling in heavy rain and storms. A couple of characters are under-clothed for this sort of weather, and they're doing forced marches every day. I'm going to force some fort saves to resist catching a cold. If they catch a cold, I doubt I'll impose any mechanical penalties. But I'll describe the discomfort associated with it, and then they do fail things, I have a convenient thing to attribute the failure to. The sneeze, and their foe takes advantage of the momentary lapse of concentration to strike! Etc.

This doesn't actually change the unrealistic mechanics of D&D. But it makes the games feel more realistic to the players, and to me, and a lot of times it does it enough that I'm okay with running game in regular old D&D.

Obviously, you need player participation for these sorts of descriptions to really... work. But that's okay, at least for me, because my players enjoy it. Others' mileage may vary.

Serrin
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Re: New D&D Player

Postby Serrin » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:03 am UTC

Yeah, I can see how some players would go for that. Mine would probably demand something crunchier. If you haven't played WoD in years, you may have not played new WoD but old WoD. They redid the entire system to make it more sane. You should *cough* obtain *cough* the core book, read it over and see what you think of it now.

And honestly, I haven't played L5R in a long time, but from what I remember, it's super lethal.


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