Last night, we play tested Chanbara again, this time with the group up to level 3. Dean, Michael and Alexei were running Kozuzume (Shukyo Shinobi/Taijutsuka), Oman Won Shinobi (Kuge Shinobi/Kagemusha) and Ringo Matsuoka (Buke Bushi/Samurai), respectively.
The parentheticals are the social class [Kuge - Nobility; Buke - Warrior Aristocracy; Shukyo - Religious; Noumin - Peasant; Chonin - Townsfolk (Artisan/Merchant); Eta - Untouchable], followed by character class [Bushi - Fighter; Mahotsukai - Magic-User; Shinobi - Spy] and Profile or specialization for each class. Taijutsuka are martial artists, Kagemusha are mystical ninja, and Samurai are samurai, obviously.
Anyway, since I'm doing accelerated advancement for this group (with normal play in a play-by-post game with other players), they leveled up to 3 for this session. And at level three, each profile gives the first choice of special abilities for each profile.
Thankfully, at least for the three profiles on hand, there wasn't an obviously superior choice. All three players considered both options as useful, then chose the one they felt best fit their character's personality/style.
Other than that, Michael suggested that the Kagemusha's spell choices, if they take the spell-casting special ability (he did) should be limited to spells thematically appropriate to a ninja rather than open to all Yamabushi spells. He purposefully limited himself that way, and at the end of the session it proved to be problematic (they had a problem a spell he had decided he wouldn't use would help solve) but he stuck to his decision and they will look for other means to that end.
I'd hoped for a bit of combat this session, but events worked out differently. I did manage to throw some good non-combat challenges their way, and the 2d6 background skill system I'm using continues to work well, as does the 2dX based Ninpo special Shinobi skill system. I'll probably run one more session at level 3 to get a bit of combat in (there was only one hit roll made the whole session, and that was to lob a persimmon at a monkey to get it to eat the fruit and drop a pouch of poison it had stolen). Hopefully in a few weeks.
In other news, my academic paper is finally ready for submission, but now it's time to start working up my study for my dissertation. So I expect posting to be slow for the mean time. I'll post when I can. Oh, and my super secret project RPG supplement text is nearly complete. Once it's done, I'll do a quick and dirty layout and start hyping it up.