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About Thaliak

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  • Birthday 11/18/1986
  1. All triggered abilities (actions, reactions and interrupts) can only be used once per round unless otherwise stated. From page 12 of the Rules Reference:
  2. For me, the biggest issue is the learning curve. When the game launched, I played seven games before I felt like I even had a chance of winning. I only kept playing because I enjoyed spending time with the friend who introduced me to L5R and appreciated the art and setting. Now that I've climbed the initial learning curve, I have a different issue. Because they have so many moving parts, L5R games often feel like they're decided by who makes the fewest mistakes rather than rewarding players for taking calculated risks and outsmarting their opponent. For example, I got my first win at a tournament because my opponent played Talisman of the Sun before I attacked his stronghold rather than waiting until I'd declared the attack so Kisada could stop my Calling in Favors and he could move me to his fourth row province. While I had to get him to a point where that mistake mattered, it still took much of the satisfaction away from victory. When I lose, I often find myself cataloging missed triggers and obvious misplays rather than considering my opponent's overall strategy or marveling at their best plays. For example, in my most recent game, I forgot that my opponent still had Lion's core stronghold available and played Banzai without the kicker when I had no other military buffs in hand. My opponent activated his stronghold to bring our totals to parity and claim a critical ring, which put him on the path of taking control of the game. He played well, but because the game hinged on that small mistake, I felt like an idiot. It's hard for me to justify playing a game where I rarely take pride in my victories and feel like a fool when I'm defeated for its own sake, so I generally only play if I can turn the game into a social activity or I'm more interested in exploring a deck's strengths and weaknesses than winning. Usually, I have more fun watching better players duel and trying to understand why they do what they do. Good commentators can make this more fun and reignite my enthusiasm temporarily by showing how tense some of the mini-games–such as baiting out cancels, trying to turn off Voice of Honor, or playing around Noble Sacrifice–can be.
  3. Gelanin, RLogue177 has posted PDFs with all of the universal talent trees, including Ship Captain and the five others from Dawn of Rebellion.
  4. To my understanding, Genesys uses a "talent pyramid" system. Each talent has a rank between one and five, with rank one talents costing five experience, rank two talents costing 10 experience, rank three talents costing 15 experience, and so on. To acquire a talent above rank one, the character must have more talents in the previous rank. For example, if I wanted to buy a second rank three talent, I would need at least three rank two talents. As in Star Wars, some talents are ranked and can be taken multiple times. However, each time they are acquired, their rank increases by one. To compensate for the higher cost, a few talents provide extra benefits when they are purchased a second time, such as applying to two skills instead of one. Even so, this system should discourage players from investing too heavily in a single ranked talent. I haven't played Genesys or read the book, but from what I've read on forums and seen in online character builders, I suspect I'd like the system if it had more support. I find Star Wars' talent trees unnecessarily restrictive. I grew up with Pathfinder, where it is easy to build characters who can play a supporting role in every theater, from combat to social interaction and exploration. Because Star Wars advancement is based on individual purchases rather than universal increases in power, it is much harder to do that here, especially given how focused many of the specializations are. For example, with the exception of Teacher, which has access to Well Rounded, I can't find a Force and Destiny career that has access to both Ranged (Light) and Negotiation. However, if I favored Lightsabers rather than pistols, I'd be set, because FFG has given us the Arbiter. You might reply, "Just suck it up, Thaliak! Buy a negotiation specialization and a gun specialization if you want to excel in both fields." To which I'd reply, "That would be ideal, but almost every game I've been in has ended before the third or fourth session. I'm hopeful this one will be an exception, but I'd have more fun if the system were flexible enough to let me realize the character concept quickly, even if that meant my character ended up less powerful than he would with a more focused build." Specializations also interact in odd ways with the skill system. For example, if I know I want to be a Teacher/Arbiter with at least two ranks in Lore and two ranks in Education, the optimal move is to start as a Teacher, because unlike the Arbiter, they can use their free skills to get two skills to rank 2 for a 10 experience bonus. Similarly, if I want to eventually acquire a specialization with Ranged (Light) as a career skill, I should wait until I'm ready to do that before buying any ranks in the skill, even if it makes sense for the character to pick up the skills immediately. As frustrating as I find specializations, I'll admit that they reinforce the setting, encourage characters to focus on one or two areas rather than stepping on each others' toes, and occasionally allow players to discover the upside of talents they would otherwise never take. They're also thematic, so I can understand why others like them. But I've had far too many times where I look at a tree only to discover that the talents I'd be interested in are buried behind talents I'd never use–or ones that I'd be tempted to use even though doing so would step on other players' toes–not to think that a more open system would be more fun.
  5. Thanks. To be honest, I don't know if I want to restrict the GM's options to that degree. Running out of ammo might be frustrating, and it's not exactly exciting, but it's a good default choice when nothing else comes to mind.
  6. I'm playing a character who uses a single blaster, and it's early enough in the campaign that the GM will let me change character creation decisions. Assuming the cost and long order fulfillment time of the H-7 "Equalizer" blaster pistol from Suns of Fortune aren't issues, is there a mechanical or narrative reason to go with the PB08 heavy blaster pistol? If so, I'll plan on picking up the book before some of the others on my wish list.
  7. No. I too thought that high honor made the technique worse, but it makes it better. Remember, you heal fatigue until your total fatigue is equal to your endurance minus your honor rank. Your endurance is your "maximum hit points," so if you have an honor rank of zero, you wouldn't heal anything. With an honor rank of five, you'd be able to take six fatigue before becoming incapacitated again. With an honor rank of 10, you'd be able to take 11 fatigue before becoming incapacitated again. The wording is awkward. The benefit of honor would be easier to understand if the technique said something like "heal fatigue equal to your honor rank," but then it would be less effective when your fatigue exceeds your endurance by a considerable margin, especially for characters with average honor.
  8. So far, we've had three proposals in the thread that eliminate the need to plan characters and allow organic development: Retaining advancement tables but allowing skills and technique categories from previous ranks to count toward advancement; Replacing advancement tables with a list of skills and techniques or technique categories that count toward advancement; and Replacing advancement tables with a list of prerequisites for each rank and allowing any experience expenditure to count toward advancement as long as those prerequisites are met. I'd be fine with any of these approaches as long as the advancement tables, skill lists, or prerequisites are broad enough for players to build diverse characters within each school. As a player, I'd probably enjoy the prerequisite approach the most. It's simple, and it'd give me the freedom to build almost any character as long as I invest in the prerequisites. However, it might have the side effect of making schools too similar and barring unusual character concepts, such as as a Kakita Duelist who is more archer than swordsman or who is notable as much for his political savvy as his skill with a blade. It's hard for me to put too much weight into the concern that allowing all experience expenditures to count toward advancement will prohibit certain concepts. I'm used to abstracting mechanics enough that I'd be comfortable playing a character with a mechanical school rank that is higher than the one their fluff dictates. Since a low school rank blocks access to the most powerful techniques, I'd prefer all characters gain rank at a similar rate. That will help ensure every player can shine in their character's area of expertise. But I can understand why other players would prefer school rank fit with their character's fluff. Furthermore, almost freeform character advancement would leave little to distinguish the schools other than their techniques, which might have the side effect of marginalizing the ones with weaker techniques. It'd also give new players fewer indications of how a typical member of each school behaves. Personally, advancement that is too freeform might also make it harder for me to explore new areas of the mechanics with different characters. Even with characters who won't advance from learning Earth or Fire invocations at the ranks I expect to play, I have a hard time resisting the temptation to focus on them, for they seem far more universally applicable and effective than the ones for Air or Water. If I had to drop near-freeform advancement in favor of lists or retaining advancement tables but allowing entries from any previous rank to count toward advancement in the current rank, I'd go with the latter. Although this approach is more complicated, it has the advantage of allowing higher-rank characters to be recognized for skills their less experienced peers have not had the need to develop. I can't imagine any designer putting Culture and Courtesy on a static skill list for the Kuni Purifiers, but I like the idea that even the unrefined Crab encourage or at least acknowledge their veteran members' efforts to understand other clans' cultures and the finer points of etiquette. After all, it is easier to hunt those who have succumbed to the taint if you're capable of moving within every sphere where they might hide. Similarly, I like the idea that even the generally pacifistic Isawa allow their most experienced shugenja to study tactics and the martial arts. By the time the school will acknowledge such pursuits, the students should have the wisdom to know when violence is the only answer, as well as enough power that their clan will want them on the battlefield if war breaks out. To me, gradually expanding the list of skills that count toward advancement is a middle ground between freeform advancement with prerequisites and a static skill list. Done well, an advancement table will encourage players to focus on the areas their school emphasizes, especially early on. However, as their characters gain prestige within the school, they'll be able to diversify. For players who have trouble spending experience if it doesn't count toward advancement, this is important to allowing a wide variety of character concepts.
  9. I can see two benefits to extracurricular skills contributing nothing to rank advancement: It's realistic. It encourages players to create characters that fit the setting and their likely role in the party. Is that why you like extracurriculars being ignored when determining school rank? If not, what am I missing?
  10. I'm glad the idea makes sense. This fits conceptually and would work mechanically as long as the list of tax-free skills and techniques for each school is broad enough to allow a range of character concepts. However, it has the downside of making characters who go against type less powerful or versatile than others with equivalent experience. It might be better to keep the experience costs for learning unusual skills the same but only count half the cost toward school advancement. That would still reduce atypical characters' power, but only by slowing their rank advancement, which I'm hoping is less significant than reducing their total skill and technique count.
  11. While characters with 46 experience, I've noticed that the character advancement tables encourage players to plan their characters' advancement paths rather than spending experience on the areas they find most entertaining. For example, a Kuni Purifier that wants to be good using melee or ranged weapons needs to raise those skills at Rank 1 or Rank 4 if he wants the experience to count toward advancing in rank. Furthermore, any Earth Invocations he gets past Rank 1 won't count toward advancement until Rank 4. This is true even if that invocation is Bind the Shadow, one I suspect almost all Kuni Purifiers would encourage their peers to learn,, or Courage of the Seven Thunders, a thematically appropriate invocation for a school that specializes in fighting creatures so horrible they're rarely discussed by other clans. Although I'm only creating characters for fun, I find it frustrating that I need to constantly ask myself if I'm raising skills at the right time. As a player, I'm sure I would be even more frustrated realizing that my Rank 2 Kuni Purifier who has just spent an entire session studying people in court for signs of the Taint should wait until Rank 3 to raise Sentiment, because he wants to be good at Performance and Government, skills that won't count toward advancement again until Rank 5. In addition to forcing character advancement to be out of sync with the story, the need to plan characters in advance makes experience itself less rewarding. With a more open advancement system, I would say to myself, "I want my Kuni Purifier to be great at dealing with Shadowlands creatures but still useful in other situations, so I'm going to raise my Earth and pick up Earth Becomes Sky." Instead, I'm finding myself thinking, "Wait. I can't raise my Earth yet because I want the the skills and techniques available at this rank to count toward advancement. I'll have to wait to be great at using Jade Strike, Armor of Earth, and Bind the Shadow, even though they're techniques that are central to my school's theme." In some cases, I also find myself thinking, "I want to raise a skill from Rank 1 to Rank 2, but I only have 2 experience left to advance to the next rank, and that would cost 4. I'd better learn a new skill that still counts so none of my experience goes to waste." The easiest way to eliminate the need to plan characters would be to allow any experience expenditure to count toward advancement. However, that would make the only distinction between schools their school techniques and which technique categories they have access to. I may not like the advancement table, but I'm glad they encourage the Kakita Duelist to master art as well as swordsmanship, the Shiba Guardian to explore the finer points of philosophy, and the Hida Defender to gain the nature skills necessary to survive in the Shadowlands. More school techniques would help schools stand out, but since that is the approach previous editions took, I'll assume it was discarded for a reason, such as keeping certain schools from pulling too far ahead of others. We could get rid of advancement tables and assign each school a list of skills and techniques that count toward experience. For example, the Kakita Duelist might have all Martial Skills, Courtesy, Culture, Aesthetics, Design, Smithing and all Kata count toward advancement, as well as gaining access to Crescent Moon Style, All Arts are One, and A Samurai's Fate a rank early. This approach would allow schools to stand apart, but it would also make it harder to create characters who break from the norm, such as the Kakita Duelist who has mastered survival and theology while serving as a shugenja's bodyguard and champion. With that in mind, I'd like to suggest a change to advancement tables: Let experience in any skill count toward character advancement as long as it appears in the current rank or a prior rank. Under this system, the first rank or two would represent the skills and techniques the school considers fundamental or has a knack for, with higher ranks allowing members to be recognized whether they become experts in those fundamentals or broaden their capabilities. For example, the Kuni Purifier table might look something like this: Like the current advancement tables, the expanding table approach would keep the schools distinct while allowing players to create unusual characters by rewarding atypical experience expenditures at higher ranks. However, it would also eliminate the need for players to plan their characters in advance to ensure they are picking up skills and rings at the perfect time. In addition, it would allow fun and mechanically sound characters, such as a Kuni Purifier that focuses almost entirely on Earth Invocations rather than dabbling in Water and Fire because those are the only invocations that count at Ranks 2 and 3. The expanding table approach has the potential to be less realistic than the current advancement tables. The example table would allow a Kuni Purifier to advance by becoming a master of the martial arts rather than communing with the kami. I doubt this will be a major concern. Most people who want to play a certain type of character will choose a school (and school technique) that is appropriate for that character. If they don't, they'll still have an incentive to diversify unless the campaign is laser-focused on one area, for the higher, more expensive skill ranks have a less significant impact on players' chance of success than their predecessors. The expanding table approach also retains some of the disadvantages of the current system, such as forcing people who go against their school's stereotype to wait a long time before their experience expenditures count toward advancement. However, I suspect it will still be more enjoyable than the current system.
  12. The opportunity section for Jade Strike (page 123) is labeled "Opportunities" instead of "New Opportunities." In the activation section for Path to Inner Peace (page 130), delete the "to" in "to targeting yourself." The opportunity sections for the rituals Divination and Threshold Barrier, both of which are on page 133, have no "New Opportunities" bar.
  13. Honest Assessment (page 135) costs 2 experience. Because it provides a special action rather than merely expanding possibilities for opportunities, it should cost 3.
  14. Thanks for taking the time to clarify. I like the simplicity and predictability of time-based rewards, especially early on, when the game will move slowly because both the players and GM need to look up rules. I've played in groups with vast gulfs between player skill levels, so I generally prefer experience systems that keep players' experience counts even rather than rewarding exceptional performance. However, I can see the merit in giving awards based on progress and recognizing individual players for contributing to the game. I might not choose your approach, but I'd be okay with it. I'm less thrilled with the idea of restricting skill and technique purchases. Especially early on in a game, I often have a character concept I'm working toward to fit the character's backstory. For example, in the 4th edition game I mentioned, I played a graduate of the Tonbo Shugenja school, which is renowned for its political skill and knack for entertaining grumpy guests. I should have started with several ranks in Etiquette, Heraldry and Games, but to be a capable healer, I needed to spend experience raising my water ring. Fortunately, the GM let me invest in the social skills after our first few sessions even though they came up infrequently. More generally, I'd be frustrated at the need to occasionally bank experience until I've had an excuse to spend it on the skills I want to advance. In theory, that will rarely happen, for a good GM will create opportunities for the players to take their characters in the direction they want to go. But sometimes that is hard to do, and I'd rather keep the GM's job as simple as possible. Having said that, restricting experience spending based on skill use and downtime activities would solve the problem Doji Meshou mentions of players suddenly acquiring skills they expect to need next session. It might also discourage players from creating characters with such diverse interests they break immersion or lack the focus to perform well in their primary role, a problem we had in 4th edition. I'm not sure how many restrictions I'd impose as a GM, but I can see the logic and benefits.
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