A starting character receives 40 xp to purchases skills, advantage and rings. How much experience should be given to players in order to create balanced rank 2 characters ?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site - great first question! (Or at least it seems like a great first question to me - I don't actually know anything about l5r, so I could be wrong.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Oct 27 '14 at 3:36

an additional 40 should get you at or close to rank 2. It depends on the school and the builds used. 50-55 would likely put most players into mid-upper rank 2.


80XP Per Insight Rank

will be enough for some fairly broad flat characters but...

The True Answer Depends on the Expectations

The easiest way to tell what is a good amount of XP for your players and/or campaign is to experiment by setting an XP total and creating characters. If they meet your expectations then you've picked a good number. If they don't, you will need to shift the bonus XP up or down appropriately.

But You Can Use Conservative Ground Rules to Produce a Generous Estimate

There are many aspects of character generation that do not work to increase Insight Rating. You can also manipulate the system to achieve a higher Insight Rating earlier than expected. It is even possible to reach Rank 2 with the basic 40XP from character creation. Not advisable. But possible. Depending on the "Ground Rules" we use, we can produce incredibly different minimum XP amounts. I've included set of rules that should result in a conservative Insight Rating estimate based on the XP expended. However, this rulesets will result in broad, thin builds.

By way of comparison to the following for 40XP I can build a Rank 1 Kakita with 8k4Att/8k2Dmg every round or every other round roll 10k6+1Att/9k3+2Dmg or 10k7+1Att/8k2Dmg with Fire 4, Reflexes 3, and a handful of other good skills. It all depends on the type of game you're going for.

However, hopefully it will give you an idea of the sort of XP scales you're dealing with.

  1. Character is a Clan Bushi from a Clan School
  2. School has seven Rank 1 School Skills
  3. Skill Rank for each skill will match the desired Insight Rank
  4. Net 5 points of Advantages and Disadvantages
  5. A number of Kata according to Mastery Rank
  6. Family/School Trait bonuses may not stack for a +2
  7. Family/School Trait bonuses are in the same Rings as any Kata you take
  8. No Insight or Experience modifiers (including Advantages and Mastery Abilities)

Rank 2 - 36+

Two Mastery 3 kata in different Rings (not Void)

  • 5XP/ 0 Insight: Advantages and Disadvantages
  • 6XP/ 0 Insight: 2 Kata
  • 24XP/20 Insight: Kata Rings at 3
  • 14XP/14 Insight: 7 School skills at Rank 2
  • 18XP/10 Insight: Void 3
  • 9XP/ 6 Insight: Three skills at Rank 2

36XP for a Rank 2 character with Half their Rings at 2 and 10 Rank 2 Skills. That means a character who's drawing 5k3/4k2 on their "focus skills" and 3k3/2k2 on everything else.

Rank 3 - 114+

Two Mastery 3 kata in different Rings (not Void) and a Rank 4 Kata in one of them

  • 5XP/ 0 Insight: Advantages and Disadvantages
  • 10XP/ 0 Insight: 3 Kata
  • 24XP/20 Insight: Kata Rings at 3
  • 32XP/10 Insight: Kata Ring at 4
  • 35XP/21 Insight: 7 School skills at Rank 3
  • 18XP/10 Insight: Void 3
  • 30XP/15 Insight: 5 skills at Rank 3

114XP for Rank 3, plus this character is almost competent. Rolls still start at 2k2 half the time, but also reach 7k4 for up to 12 skills.

Rank 4 - 206+

Two Mastery 3 and 4 kata in each of two different Rings

  • 5XP/ 0 Insight: Advantages and Disadvantages
  • 14XP/ 0 Insight: 4 Kata
  • 24XP/20 Insight: Kata Rings at 3
  • 64XP/20 Insight: Kata Rings at 4
  • 63XP/28 Insight: 7 School skills at Rank 4
  • 18XP/10 Insight: Void 3
  • 48XP/20 Insight: Remaining Rings to 3 (or substitute Void 4 for one)
  • 10XP/ 4 Insight: 1 skill at Rank 4

206XP for Rank 4, minimum roll is 3k3 with rolls of 8k4 for up to 8 skills.

Rank 5 - 288+

Two Mastery 3 and 4 kata in each of two different Rings. One Mastery 3 kata in a third

  • 5XP/ 0 Insight: Advantages and Disadvantages
  • 17XP/ 0 Insight: 5 Kata
  • 48XP/30 Insight: Kata Rings at 3
  • 64XP/20 Insight: Kata Rings at 4
  • 98XP/35 Insight: 7 School skills at Rank 5
  • 18XP/10 Insight: Void 3
  • 24XP/10 Insight: Remaining Ring to 3
  • 24XP/10 Insight: Void 4
  • 30XP/10 Insight: Void 5 or 2 Rank 5 skills

288XP for Rank 5 if I've done my math right. Rolls anywhere between 3k3 and 10k5.


A character should be able to get to Insight 150, the total needed for Rank 2, with an additional 30-40 XP (for a total of 70-80 XP) but keep in mind that Insight can vary wildly between characters with the same XP total. When deciding how much XP to give consider your players; players who tend to min/max will need less XP to get to Insight 150 than ones who don't. This is due to the way Insight is calculated from skills and rings.

Taking several rank 1 skills is more cost effective than taking a few higher ranked skills since you get a 1 to 1 conversion. In contrast, a rank 2 skill only adds 1 to your Insight but costs an additional 2 XP. The XP-to-Insight efficiency rapidly decreases from there.

Rings contribute 10 Insight per rank and quickly get quite expensive (4x next rank for each of the two component traits and 6x next rank for Void) to improve making them even less cost effective than skill ranks. As an example, increasing Void from 3 to 4 will cost 24 XP but only add 10 Insight.

Advantages and disadvantages don't contribute to Insight directly making them effectively worthless for maximizing your XP to Insight return.

Obviously, all of the above applies to achieving ranks 3 and higher as well.

There are house rules to mitigate the (potential) problem. The first is to not count rank 1 skills in the Insight calculation. This discourages a 'wide and shallow' skill build, to some extent at least. Limiting new skill acquisition by requiring someone to teach it is also a simple way to keep skill bloat in check. You may also consider mandating a certain number of XP be spent on advantages at character creation or a certain number of XP spent on rings, at creation and/or during play.


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