Last Saturday, I ran a session of the (new and improved!) Chanbara 2015 draft rules.
To make a long story short, the rules for the most part stayed out of the way during play. I only had to reference my rules three or four times during the four hours or so we played (mostly to double check which saving throw to roll for certain effects).
The session was a rip-roaring chaotic one, and pretty fun. Dean (taijutsuka shinobi, formerly a sohei) and Justin (abarenbo bushi, formerly a ronin) had updated characters they'd used in the previous play test. Alexei (samurai bushi) and Michael (kagemusha shinobi) had new characters. They were sent on a mission, nearly turned it on its head, and somehow managed to come out on top in the end.
As I said, the rules seemed to play smoothly, at least for now. One potential problem they noticed is that the Bonus Combat Dice that Bushi (Warrior) characters get is really powerful. While Justin liked the power boost, and Alexei didn't complain about all the high hit rolls and damage rolls he was getting, I'll be watching closely in the coming games to see if I need to lower the die type (currently d6 for most characters, but a d8 for samurai), reduce the starting number (three plus or minus the prime requisite score of the PC), or both.
Since we mainly had just one big set-piece battle, both of the bushi used a lot of dice in a short span, making quick work of their enemies. In a more dungeon-crawl type situation, they may be more sparing with them.
The two shinobi characters played by Dean and Michael didn't use their Bonus Skill Dice very much. So we'll have to wait and see how they work out.
Another issue is that there weren't any spell casters. Michael is playing a kagemusha shinobi, so at level 3 he'll have the option to get some spell casting. But for now, the party is spell-less (as were the enemies they faced in this first session...although that will change soon).
So, no problems. One or two things to look out for in future games. Things are looking up for publishing the game this year.
Oh, and the play-by-post game is coming along. There are seven players, and so far two have rolled up spell casters and one or two more players are considering it. So while PbP is slow, at least there should be ample chances to see how spell casting works out, and gauge the appropriateness of the spells.
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