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Magnus Grendel

Ancestry And Family

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So - Character Creation, Part IV

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First, roll a ten-sided die twice. Choose either result, and then consult Table 2–1: Samurai Heritage to determine information about a famous relative from the last few generations whom your character is named for. Then, roll a ten-sided die again as specified by individual entries.

So.....as far as I can tell at the first read, this is the only random part of character creation.

Stats are purely determined by character choices. XP is spent by the player. Everything else is subject to player choice except Heritage. 

Now yes, a Samurai can't choose their ancestors - but they can't choose their birth family, either, and this game system allows you to retroactively pick Clan and Family and other birth or from-birth elements to suit a character concept you have in your head.

Given that the roll can take a chunk out of your honour or glory for a randomly generated and hence potentially useless skill, I find myself asking why?

I don't object to randomly generated characters. I tend to autogenerate DH characters and stick with the luck of the dice.  And I know I could overrule the book and say "pick one that sounds cool", but the book (unlike F&D motivations) doesn't seem to want to allow that.

I think it's just that when a system is totally deterministic "except this one bit", it jars somewhat.

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This system is an odd tack-on, being the only truly random part of the creation process. I like the idea of family influencing the character creation process. Possibly changing it from a random process to a set of options to pick from. You pick "option X", therefore you choose a benefit from column A and a penalty from column B. 

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19 minutes ago, shadowgriffon99 said:

This system is an odd tack-on, being the only truly random part of the creation process. I like the idea of family influencing the character creation process. Possibly changing it from a random process to a set of options to pick from. You pick "option X", therefore you choose a benefit from column A and a penalty from column B. 

That was pretty much my view. Famous Ancestry is an appropriately significant part of the setting that having it in there is right and having it actually have a mechanical effect is justified, but there's no real reason for it to be random when nothing else is.

Besides which, having it be a list of 'possible ancestry thingeys' that you choose from means it needn't be limited to ten, which opens up the potential for each of the (inevitable) clan sourcebooks to include more specific ancestry options relating to the background described in more detail therein.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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3 hours ago, shadowgriffon99 said:

This system is an odd tack-on, being the only truly random part of the creation process.

It is random, but it doesn't feel odd to me at all.  The whole character creation process seems forced and arbitrary. The Neuroses Anxieties create ridiculously neurotic characters obsessed with unrealistic things in order to force roleplaying. There are no normal people in Rokugan it seems. Everyone has some sort of unhealthy obsessive mental disorder. The balance among the  Adversities seems to flip between "Bitchy Wife" and "Incurable Disease" or "Broken Spine" but assigns no weighted difference to them.

Personally, I don't care if it is random or not.  I actually kinda like randomly generated items like that, and the way it functions in the game the random nature of it is appropriate.  This game has arbitrary accumulation of Strife via die rolls.  A random heritage table doesn't seem to stick out.

 

If it is going to be chosen, however, it will need re-balancing. Because obviously there are far better choices than others.

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I get where you guys are coming from, and if you come up with a satisfactory (to you) solution, I'd love to hear it, but personally...

 

I really like this.  I'm not just saying that I'm okay with it, I actually like it.  I think its really cool that the player has almost complete control except that one little thing.  I'm not saying that its "realistic" but it does mirror an aspect of reality in that you can kind of make a lot of things for yourself in life, but some things you're just stuck with.

Of course this IS coming from a guy that, in previous editions, required all players to take a roll from the Heritage Tables (didn't make them pay for it though), so take all of that with a grain of salt.

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2 hours ago, VaeVictis said:

The Neuroses Anxieties create ridiculously neurotic characters obsessed with unrealistic things in order to force roleplaying. There are no normal people in Rokugan it seems. Everyone has some sort of unhealthy obsessive mental disorder.

Things like Softheartedness and Cynicism are "unhealthy obsessive mental disorders"? Most of the Anxieties are only a problem in the repressed, self-effacing society of Rokugan. The worst they do is make you suffer Outbursts: That is, your emotions get the better of you occasionally, which is something that literally every human being experiences on a regular basis. Anxieties are just reminders that, as much as you strive for the samurai ideal, you're still human at heart.

2 hours ago, VaeVictis said:

The balance among the  Adversities seems to flip between "Bitchy Wife" and "Incurable Disease" or "Broken Spine" but assigns no weighted difference to them.

It's mean to be self-balancing. When your Adversity makes you fail a check, you get a Void point. If you've got an Adversity that comes up all the time, you get a regular supply of Void points for your trouble.

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Things like Softheartedness and Cynicism are "unhealthy obsessive mental disorders"?

Have you actually read the description for cynicism?  Yeah, it is. No functional person behaves  like that. I believe that there are definitely people who do that. They are massively dysfunctional.  Your hand-waving explanation of the Anxieties is ridiculous. There is a very specific set of words used over and over.  "Always." "Cannot." 

the Minion is always killed

you always look for ways it can fail,

you must always pursue it.

You cannot voluntarily pass up an opportunity

You cannot help but try

you always spare their life,

 

These aren't situations where "your emotions get the better of you." Almost all of them are literally "I am not a functional human being because I have bizarrely isolated obsessive-compulsive behaviors that only affect one specific thing."  I mean, sure, you're right and I am wrong, lol.  Not all of them are neuroses and other mental disorders.  You can have a Dark Secret or a drug addiction, lol. 

 

As far as Adversities go, my problem is not with the Adversities, it's with the lack of internal balance to them. Some of them have mechanical stipulations that both won't come up often, but are also incredibly debilitating. Not everyone cares that they're getting Void points back as their Doji Hopturi lurches around one-legged. Therefore hardly any players will actually take those ones.  In a 1 for 1 Advantage/Disadvantage situation, how many players are going to take a crippling disadvantage when there is very little exchange to it? In a lot of campaigns, players might not even be burning through Void points that fast. The fact that Void only comes back from all these silly mechanics makes it even worse, as you're working not to create deep, interesting characters, but trying to min/max your character's dysfunctions, lol.

 

Forcing the GM and players to insert all this contrived melodrama into the games cannot possibly considered a "feature" by any but the most entry-level gamers who don't know how to just "play a real person."

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11 minutes ago, VaeVictis said:

Forcing the GM and players to insert all this contrived melodrama into the games cannot possibly considered a "feature" by any but the most entry-level gamers who don't know how to just "play a real person."

Errr, no? You are being rude. They're really not what you make them out to be in my opinion. You are making a caricature of them and there really are much more 'lighter' ones such as being a flirt, a glory hound or simply being impatient. You don't like 'em, fine, make your own, but let's not be overly melodramatic.

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I'm not being overly melodramatic.  The Anxieties are.  Your decision to hand-wave and undersell "When interacting with someone you find attractive, you tend to be more distracted and pliant to their requests than perhaps you should be, and you act carelessly to win that person’s attention or admiration" and "you cannot help but return their advances with your own flirtation."  as "being a flirt" is your own Disadvantage.  Assign yourself the 3-Point Disadvantage Failure of Bushido - Honesty, but gain no points for it, lol.

You can't make a caricature of a system that is already a caricature. You, like the other guy, simply aren't reading the text.  Irrepressible Flirtation literally has listed gameplay Effects. The character cannot help but return flirtations.  The mechanical effect below it is describing a character just trying to make small talk with someone they find attractive. If they've flirted with you first, you're now obligated, by game rules, to flirt back.  This takes "being a flirt" to "The guy who hits on his boss's wife when he's sober."   Dunno how much you know about Rokugan, but that's not just a paddlin'. The character also struggles to do anything other than flirt with attractive members of the desired sex, to the point that he/she suffers the mechanical effect of being penalized on rolls to remember other things going on, lol.

Edited by VaeVictis

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Yes, someone flirts with you, you flirt back. You're a flirt. I know people like that in real life, and they are hardly contrived melodramatics.

Yes, it'll get you in trouble. Which I believe in the context of this game is entirely intentional.

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It's the equivalent of "being a flirt" but automatically dialed up to 10.  Compare this to "Lechery" in 4E:  "Physical pleasure is a weakness of yours, and you spend considerable time pursuing it. When an opponent makes a Temptation (Seduction) roll against you, he gains a bonus of +1k1 to the total of his roll."  Even if we dial it up a notch, and it's now a Compulsion. "This basic Disadvantage requires a Willpower Trait Roll of 15 to overcome. The TN of the roll increases by 5 for every additional point gained by the Disadvantage, to a maximum of TN 25."  That's a roleplaying aid.  My character loves the ladies, and sometimes he goes too far and has to try to hold himself back or resist advances from ladies he shouldn't.  The 5E character literally just has to do it, because he has no self control or sense of self preservation. It's not roleplaying.

 

And I guarantee you don't know anyone like that in real life because no functional person would be a irrepressible flirt in a social context where that can very quickly and easily get you killed.  In Rokugan, flirting with the wrong people is often quite literally a death sentence.

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That's the problem, unless the setting itself is changed; losing face can equal dishonor, an actual outburst can mean death.

From a gameplay perspective, nobody likes losing control of their character.

I certainly like the idea of the anxieties, but they're too strong. They should be roleplaying hints, strife should be something that might cause your character's on to break but in a more subtle way, like smiling at person you like, frowning, sweating, etc....

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5 hours ago, Nitenman said:

randomness is an inheritance of the old Heritage tables from previous edition.

And I didn't like or use them either.  Not because they are random, but because they're not balanced.  Someone could roll a boost to their character, someone else a concept-destroying effect.

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7 hours ago, Nitenman said:

randomness is an inheritance of the old Heritage tables from previous edition.

Which I usually simply ignored, since I didn't liked that. But since it seems now to be a more crucial part of character creation, especially since ther are no otherwise free points to spend on how one would like to their character to be, so I probably will forego the roll and simply let the players decide that completely.

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that's the best way to handle it. It actually help achieve a flavor you want to give your character way much more than the rest of the creation process. Sure adv and disadv helps build the back story, but so far its the only way to get elements like dark secret (maho).

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I thought I had a fun and interesting idea for a character, rolled on the table and it took it in a direction I'd never really have considered but is ultimately much more interesting. I'm not advocating that backgrounds are forced upon people, but I am advocating open-mindedness. We all have a tendency to play what we enjoy, and often don't expand upon that as we remain within comfort zones (even superficially different characters often share similar core traits). Try embracing the random element to take you in a direction you may not have considered as regards background and roll with it, you may be surprised were you end up! 

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To be honest, if you only rolled once, I would hate this part of chargen with the force of a thousand suns. But you don't. You roll twice and pick one. And this changes everything.

Sure, you may have a specific concept in mind and want to have control over this, but I believe this isn't about you. I believe this is about the newcomer who may have a bit of a hard time exactly figuring out how their character fits into family and personal longings and obligations and ranking up and glory and honor and blahblahblah. Sure, it may seem contrived, and I assume it's fairly simple to let a player choose, it's not that big of a twist in the rules. But for people who are new at this and need to find hooks to feel their character as being part of a complex society that sometimes has weird consequences in your life for stuff you never asked for, this part of randomness is really good. Because since you get to choose between your two rolls, you never really get stuck with the one ancestry that ruins your character forever. A worst case scenario is one ancestry that you don't want and another that may not exactly fit your concept, but still makes sense in the context of fiction. And that's good. Having character profiles not be entirely monolithic is good. And the bonuses are fairly low too, so a character who gets helped by their ancestry isn't like miles ahead of everyone else and laughing in the distance. It's flavor, it can bring in things you hadn't initially thought about (which is often the strength of randomness in chargen), and it isn't meant to screw you over with a terrible ancestry that is necessarily opposed to everything else on your sheet.

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It's not a coincidence that the heritage table roll is the only part of your character that is both (1) random and (2) not about your character

I've always thought they were an elegant way of reinforcing that your character is necessarily part of a large and largely impersonal family-machine. 

(And I think the 5E heritage tables are a huge improvement given they're much simpler and are no longer a toss-up between buffing and crippling your character.)

Edited by Doji Meshou

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37 minutes ago, Doji Meshou said:

It's not a coincidence that the heritage table roll is the only part of your character that is both (1) random and (2) not about your character

I've always thought they were an elegant way of reinforcing that your character is necessarily part of a large and largely impersonal family-machine.

I agree.  A person can control many, if not all aspects of their lives.  But the one thing you have no control over is your family and history.  And even with this table, at least it gives you a little bit of control since you D10 twice.   In the end, maybe you get something cool, maybe you don't, but the "bad" results (minor losses of starting Honor or Glory) aren't really that big of a deal.

Considering how innocuous the table is I don't really have much of a problem with it.  Like I've said elsewhere, a lot of character creation feels kinda arbitrary, so having one (and only one) controlled by dice and be "random" isn't problematic for me.   I actually don't think this table works with "Choose" because a lot of the results are clearly better than others, and players are just going to exploit that.  Martial Arts Melee: 3 please. 

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Outbursts are badly named  what they are  is simply a slip of your stoic mask  when flirting and you have an out burst it might be " My good woman your lovely face makes me weep so before I burst into tears I must depart your presence"

there is a roll courtesy (earth ) to not exceed propriety since this is against your nature you suffer some emotional  stress(Strife)  this could lead to that out burst also Sentiment (earth) to keep you in the reality that there are others around and you must act with in the guidelines  of the society  other than that flirting is an art a lot of southern women  are taught how to flirt  with out being crass. They call it southern hospitality .

and the fact that you have to role play a disadvantage heaven for bid actually having to remember your a flirt.

most of the disadvantages are like this part RP part Mechanic  your disadvantages make you human and even in real life I am sure you have disadvantages you try and hide from everyone else in the world  and some times ya just can't be it a phobia of something or the frustration of not being a good writer or other artistic skill or a social anxiety everyone is not "normal"  there's no such thing as normal there's just a midden limit to what society will ignor

 

as for ancestors you can not pick the one that grants you there Blessing or what your parents teach you  some things are totally out of your control so having the ability to pick between 2 of them is a blessing it could be roll and get stuck

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