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General Tacticus

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  1. If you start your breakfast by prodding it with jade in case it's an oni in disguise... you might be a Crab. If your breakfast would be incomplete and unsatifying without composing a spontaneous haiku to mark the occasion... you might be a Crane. If you eat your breakfast with a pair of chopsticks in either hand... you might be a Dragon. If you eat your breakfast every day from your father's bowl, filled with your grandmother's recipe, at your great-grandfather's table, in the fashion prescribed by your great-great-grandmother based on the writings of the Kami Akodo, in the certain knowledge that this is the ONE TRUE BREAKFAST and all others are unworthy of the name... you might be a Lion. If your breakfast was delivered to you via a boat that sailed into the house via the guttering from the ornamental koi pond... you might be a Mantis. If your breakfast is merely an annoying distraction from the fascinating scroll you discovered last night in a sealed vault labelled "DANGER, DO NOT OPEN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, NO NOT EVEN THEN"... you might be a Phoenix. If the most important question in your mind is "is this the breakfast I prepared for me, or the breakfast I prepared for you?"... you might be a Scorpion. If your breakfast bowl is covered with skulls and spikes and brought to you by a zombie servitor, but is really the TRUE breakfast bowl that one day all the other crockery will be forced to acknowledge and bow down to... you might be a Spider. If you prepare breakfast for your horse and maybe yourself... you might be a Unicorn.
  2. I recall the Crab and Scorpion being big enthusiasts... but no, it was not a well-conceived system at all. I think a points system for what they were going for could have worked, but it should have a) not weighted Honour/Glory/Status nearly so highly (and possibly not at all), because that promoted busy-work from everyone and was hilariously open to gaming the system; and b) been much more flexible about objectives and partial or creative fulfillment thereof, possibly with a lot more in the way of sub-objectives to measure progress towards each overall goal.
  3. Aha. The wording of the objective itself makes it sound like it was the ideological dimension that mattered, not the connection to the heirs. But having the concern be specifically about the heirs is both more sensible from a game-design perspective (in that it makes the objective actually realisically achievable) and much more in line with what the Imperial Families actually care about (bunch of dirtbag Colonials scrapping over what kind of kimono to wear? Wevs, let the Clans pick up their own garbage. Clan samurai fighting over the Imperial succession? DANGER WILL ROBINSON, RED ALERT RED ALERT, ALL HANDS ON DECK). So while that seems like something of a rewrite of the objective to me, it's a sensible one and I approve. And yes, the Crane did specifically avoid mentioning the fact that the heirs were involved in the conflict (for which you can thank the Lion they were very adamant on that point, and as our objective did not require us to bring that aspect to light, it was one we were willing to give them). And indeed, the whole purpose of our strategy (besides "make the Otomo look ineffectual by showing that we're doing their jobs better than they are") was to lessen or, ideally, end the conflict. So that explains that. Thank you for clarifying
  4. For the most part they seemed to ignore them, alas. Indeed, which was their choice. Perhaps it was a mistake... but given how much trouble Demiyah got into with the Scorpion in the first week, and how much else they had on their plate, perhaps it was wise. Given that the only goals they outright failed were either unachievable (keep the Crane from concluding any treaties with anyone? Come on, AEG, that was never happening) or outside their control (have their chosen heir inherit), I find it hard to fault their overall strategy too much. (Mind, I'm not sure how they qualified as succeeding in their objective to "See that, until the end of Winter Court, no proclamations or other forms of formal address regarding the growing conflict between Traditionalist and Progressive factions in the Colonies are brought before the Imperial Court by any faction in general, and by the Crane Clan in particular." given that the Crane presented not one but two petitions on the subject, but apparently they did.) For the most part they seemed to ignore them, alas. Indeed, which was their choice. Perhaps it was a mistake... but given how much trouble Demiyah got into with the Scorpion in the first week, and how much else they had on their plate, perhaps it was wise. Given that the only goals they outright failed were either unachievable (keep the Crane from concluding any treaties with anyone? Come on, AEG, that was never happening) or outside their control (have their chosen heir inherit), I find it hard to fault their overall strategy too much. (Mind, I'm not sure how they qualified as succeeding in their objective to "See that, until the end of Winter Court, no proclamations or other forms of formal address regarding the growing conflict between Traditionalist and Progressive factions in the Colonies are brought before the Imperial Court by any faction in general, and by the Crane Clan in particular." given that the Crane presented not one but two petitions on the subject, but apparently they did.)
  5. The Otomo agenda at WCIV made perfect sense given the position they and the Empire were in. The job of the Otomo is not fundamentally "make the Clans fight each other". The job of the Otomo is to preserve the authority of the Throne (and of the Otomo family). One of the major tools that they employ to this end is to goad the Clans into conflict to ensure that they cannot ally with one another to defy the Throne. If the Clans are already in conflict, however, then that is not necessary; it is instead the job of the Otomo to ensure that it doesn't grow too large or damaging. Empire-wide warfare is catastrophic for the Otomo, because it undermines the political structure that the Otomo depend on. The Otomo have no armies of their own; their influence depends on their ability to influence how the Clans talk to one another. If the Clans are all fighting instead of talking to one another, they are impotent. In the case of WCIV, most of the Clans of the Empire were waging an undeclared war over which of the Empress' sons should succeed her. This was an unmitigated disaster for the Otomo; not only did it threaten to embroil the entire Empire in a Clan War-scale conflict if it spread to the mainland, it was also an implicit challenge to the authority of the Empress (on which the Otomo depend). For the Otomo to do anything except try to contain it would have been suicide. The reason why they had an additional objective of "make sure no-one talks about it" were never specified, but there are a number of strong possibilities. Perhaps they were afraid that discussing the conflict in open court would risk airing the associated grievances and spreading it to the mainland (again, an existential disaster for the Otomo). Perhaps they were afraid that the mere mention of the conflict would undermine the prestige of the Iweko dynasty - we know from card flavour text that they were already at work making sure that nothing about the conflict was entered into the historical record. Perhaps they were afraid that the mere fact of the conflict's existence would embarrass them personally - after all, it blew up on the watch of an Otomo governor, with a strong Otomo presence at her court, and yet she and they failed spectacularly to either head it off or contain it. Perhaps it was some combination of those. Regardless, it was a completely sensible objective on their part. You will note that the Imperial delegation was not assigned to do anything about the sanctioned inter-Clan wars (Crab-Spider, Lion-Scorpion, Phoenix-Unicorn) or to prevent new ones from occurring, because those did not threaten the Otomo family's power base; they were business as usual. The Otomo were free to milk them for whatever political benefits they could get, either encouraging them, mediating them, favouring one side in exchange for concessions, whatever.
  6. That thread raises what is likely to be an important question - just what sort of Spider Clan will be present at this court? The Empire-loyal Spider under Shibatsu? The Kanpeki loyalists? Both?
  7. ...you know, I had actually forgotten about that fiction entirely - I think largely because, after all the fuss, the Story Team was like "yeah, the Harriers are still never coming back". As the Story Team is no more, however, there is certainly no reason for you to be bound by their plans unless you feel like it. Thank you for clarifying
  8. Ooh. Interesting... I have to point out, though, that the Harriers (the very small, highly illegal force that used gaijin pepper and such tactics agains tthe Crane's enemies) were very thoroughly purged as a matter of survival for the Crane Clan. If they've been reconstituted, then that is a major event that should be expanded upon, IMO. If that story refers to "normal" Daidoji scouts, then I would suggest picking a different term for them, as the Harriers and their disbanding are a somewhat, ah, fraught subject in some corners of the Crane fanbase.
  9. There's a huge difference between how they are done. Of course, you can blackmail with both temptation and intimidation. The way you've said it, yes it's based on intimidation, but just change the approch and you've gone into temptation. Intimidation: "if you do what I want, I will repay you by not revealing facts that would publicly disgrace you" (No carrot and stick, mainly just a threat) Temptation: "You know that I'm able to dissipate the rumors about that about the facts that may disgrace you, I can help you but I would really need that you would do that for me." (Here's the carrot and stick) It all depends on the way you're blackmailing, I think that the Scorpion would prefer using the offering way of "removing the rumors" instead of threatening to reveal the facts. By doing this, the blackmail target would be more willing to help that Scorpion afterward. Otherwise, it would be a "one-shot blackmail" and then the blackmail target may want a kind of revenge. I really doubt that the target would want any revenge when he knows that the "blackmail" has been cover for now by someone. Then, someone who's getting blackmail through intimidation and focing the Scorpion to reveal the disgraceful facts publicly, otherwise, that Scorpion would lose any credibility about his threatening, then that Scorpion may gain an enemy afterward (a family member wanting to redeem the honor or the blackmailed target with the intention of revenge). A politely-worded threat is still a threat. Promising to "dissipate the rumours" about some topic on which there are no rumours (at least until Bayushi Blackmailer starts dropping public hints about the matter) is putting a silk doily over a brick; I assure you that the victim still feels the brick when you hit them in the face with it. I also have no idea why you would say that the method of framing the threat would affect whether the blackmail is renewable or not. Blackmail is an ongoing thing under nearly all circumstances; if I know things that would disgrace you if I made them public, then after you do what I want, I still know those things. And am at perfect liberty to come back next month and ask for something else as the price of my continued non-revealing of what I know. Whether I chose to be blunt or circumspect in talking to my victim does not change that. Nor does being blunt with my victim somehow force me into publicly revealing my blackmail material when I otherwise wouldn't. Yes, if my victim tells me to shove it, then I can either expose them or be exposed as making empty threats - but the same is true if I talked around the issue. A polite threat is still a threat. Unless I am being so circumspect that my victim doesn't even realise that I'm blackmailing them - in which case I have failed spectacularly in my attempt at blackmail - they know that I am theatening to expose them if they don't do X. If they refuse and I don't expose them, they know they don't have to take me seriously.
  10. As Mickle says, this was errata'ed, with good reason. At that point, you might as well fold Temptations and Intimidation together into the same skill (huh... seems familiar somehow...). Where is the fundamental difference between "if you do what I want, I will repay you by not revealing facts that would publicly disgrace you" and "if you do what I want, I will repay you be not breaking both your legs"? "Physical"/"mental" is not a distinction that the current skill descriptions particularly support; neither the Control nor the Bullying emphases of Intimidation are in any way suggested to be intrinsically physical, and torture can be as much mental as physical. The fundamental distinction between the two skills, I think, is that Temptation works by offering something that the recipient wants, whereas Intimidation works by threatening something that they don't want. Carrot and stick. Given that you responded to a proposal "I think we should abolish the category of Low Skills and replace them with Low emphases of other skills" with "a samurai should never rely on Intimidation or Temptation to do his duty", I don't think it was unreasonable of me to assume that your objection, well... had something to do with what you were responding to. In any case, Kinzen's point - which I 100% agree with - is that walling the Low Skills off into their own ghetto has the effect of ensuring that only do "proper" samurai never do those things, they are never tempted to do them, because they're rubbish at them. Which I think is terrible for the kinds of stories L5R wants to tell. Choosing whether to compromise your honour for the sake of practicality is material for great drama. Choosing whether to compromise your honour for the sake of nothing is not. And I think new players are perfectly capable of understanding "oh, this skill can be used in both honourable ways and intrinsically dishonourable ones, and they've even marked which is which, neat!", just as they already do with the Sincerity skill.
  11. You would have to define what's terrible. I'll take the Meta for Hida O-Ushi in the Way of the Crab as an example. In her meta, she's a rank 3 Hida Bushi with an Awareness of 3, Willpower of 5 and Intimidation of 5. This would mean that she would have 10k5 in Intimidation and 3k3 (and no 10s explode) in seduction. If we fuse Intimidation with seduction, her seduction would become 8k3 (10s explode), which isn't terrible at all. Yes, she's the same in her intimidation but she's now a competent in temptation, which doesn't fit her at all. Ought Hida O-Ushi be incompetent at seduction? Or is she simply not interested in doing it? Given that we are talking about blackmail, I have no idea why you brought up gossip. They're practically polar opposites; blackmail is, among other things, a promise not to gossip (if the victim co-operates), and a threat that there will be gossip (if they don't). If a Scorpion approaches too and says "I know all about your littles games with the funds your lord entrusted you with, and if you don't do X for me, very shortly your lord will know too", that's Intimidation. And? I'm still not seeing the connection. In what way does changing Intimidation from its own skill to a dishonourable Emphasis of another skill change "whether a samurai should rely on Intimidation or Temptation to do this duty"?
  12. To me, it doesn't make sense. Here's why I really prefer to see Temptation and Intimidation being different skills, because they aren't the same thing at all. I don't think that a Hida Bushi is as good in seduction (which is what temptation is) as he's good at intimidating people and the same goes for a Bayushi being as good in intimidation that he's good in seduction. By grouping those skills, it creates this. Is it really better? As I've said in my last post, the elimination of the Low Skill isn't a good idea because it would be harder to know what is dishonorable to what is not. A Samurai should never rely on Intimidation or Temptation to do his duty, it isn't honorable at all. It should be as clear as that and right now, it's pretty clear since it's a Low Skill. If you think it makes sense for a Hida Bushi being able to seduce as well as he's able to intimidate someone, it's up to you, but it's really don't in my book. This would also causes a hard time to new players who would see: "Intimidation and Temptation" inside Courtly Skill and probably think: "It's not a bad skill" and then he'll start seducing in court as a Doji Courtier... Sure, you can add a star as a note for the player that "This may be considered a low skill" as it is now, but I feel like there will have a lot of stars everywhere, just because the point is to eliminate the Low Skills. In this example, the Hida Bushi will most likely be terrible at seduction because it runs off Awareness, which he has no use for, while Intimidation runs off Willpower. If our Hida Bushi happens to also have high Awareness for some reason, I see no problem with him being good at seduction. I likewise see no problem with a Bayushi being good at Intimidation if he happens to have high Willpower; blackmail is an iconic Scorpion technique, and it is by definition a form of intimidation. Fear in both general and specific forms is integral to how the Scorpion get things done. I'm also not clear on what "a samurai should never rely on Intimidation or Temptation to do his duty" has to do with whether it's better that they be separate skills or categories of other skills.
  13. I don't get it, you said that it's a huge trade off to spend XP on one skill to be able to duel properly and now you're suggesting to split it into 3? Which bring it even more costy? I would like to understand your goal now? Changing something for the sake of changing something? If there's no plus value in this kind of change, better not change it. That's my opinion. I would guess that the idea is to have all of the skills involved be useful for something besides duelling? Bringing Investigation into it is an interesting thought, and makes some sense given the crossover between duelist and magistrate... but this really doesn't do anything to remedy the problem of a master swordsman being helpless in a duel, because the Strike roll is really the least important part of a duel (I mean, you have to be good enough to hit your opponent, but it's usually a formality after the all-important Focus round). It just makes duelling success dependent on being great at meditating, rather than being good at the specific iaijutsu skill the way it currently does. Really, I think if you want to do something about duelling, it's best to start with the fact that it fundamentally all comes down to a single contested roll. That's where all the weird mechanical incentives come in.
  14. As a GM, I tend to tailor these things less on an absolute scale and more on the scale of my plot and my PCs. Are those travel papers something the plot really needs, and so the roll is just barely more than a formality? Low TN. Is this a total hail mary? High TN, and unless the PCs have a really smooth talker or are willing to risk face-planting, they probably won't succeed. But that's not to say that a more in-depth discussion of TNs wouldn't be helpful. Right, and for dealing with an individual case that works nicely, but I find that having to rely on that makes it hard to maintain consistency in the setting as a GM, or to get a handle on my character's place in the setting as a player. If I'm playing a bushi, I can look at the most common ATNs for people I'm likely to be fighting, figure out how likely I am to hit them and how much damage I deal, and thereby get a decent sense of how good a warrior my PC is. If I'm playing a courtier, then I can see that e.g. my PC rolls 10k5 to navigate the bureaucracy... so how good does that make him? Does he effortlessly complete all but the most difficult of tasks, or do routine challenges just happen to all have TNs that make them tricky prospects for him? Having a more defined set of TNs doesn't mean the GM can't tailor the challenge to the party and situation - you just tailor the circumstances instead. Really need those travel papers for the plot to progress? There's a very agreeable/bribeable/whatever magistrate in the area who can issue them, even if it would normally be very difficult. Total hail mary that the plot can do fine without? Maybe the magistrate has a personal grudge against the PCs, their Clan, whatever. If you like, I could do some work on TNs and modifiers for common tasks myself, and post it up in the other thread. Heh. Well, it occurs to me that one fairly simple way to do it would be to say "the Glory loss increases by 1 point with every new Etiquette (Insult) roll." So Bayushi Bob taunts Kakita Kate, threatening one point of Glory long; she comes back at him a biting rejoinder that would threaten him with a 1-point loss of his own, but conceding now would also mean folding on his own insult, threatening him with a 2-point loss. He insults her again, and the ball is in her court threatening a 3-point loss, etc. Or perhaps the amount could increase by 1 point for every full exchange, such that Bob and Kate each face a 1-point loss the first time, then a 2-point loss, etc. It's a bit simplistic, it has the exchange escalating at a constant rate no matter how vituperative or restrained it is, but it works. Another method might be to have the losses for the exchange escalate only if someone calls Raises, and escalate by an amount equal to the Raises called, but that could get out of hand very easily. It does seem that way. I like it when Raises provide an advantage... I don't like it when the ability to call Raises is the only meaningful determinant of success or failure.I also think they shouldn't be the sole arbiter of degree of success - not all great successes are planned in advance, or require accepting a greater risk of failure. I like it! That works... and both of those Lore replacements make sense. Although I note that if they cease to be Lores, they no longer have a Mastery Ability that lets them improve your social rolls, even if you happen to be rolling Etiquette to impress a keen naturalist or rolling Sincerity to convince a general that his battle plan is flawed
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