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Custom dice seem like a blatant money grab without adding value to me.  I'm not opposed to capitalism but I like to think I get something extra from it and a custom die system at the surface just seem like I'm paying more to have an easily understood and intuitive system swapped out with a less easily understood system.

I opened the PDF and read it for a while but now I haven't gone back to it since because I didn't "get" it..   All the players and GMs in my group have avoided custom dice systems like the plague and I'm 100% with them but L5R  has been one of my favorite RP systems for a long time and I kind of don't want to miss out on it's good storytelling.  If anyone has experience with custom dice can you please explain if and why I should bother? 

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Custom dice sure have the benifit to bring the company a little money, especially if their games should get pirated and such things. So, the first reason why custom dice are good is that they cann affort to make open beta testing without having to worry that people will then not buy the final product.

I have experience with custom dice, and I have to say the solution for L5R is the best iteration FFG has come up with so far. There are only two types of dice you need to have, and it seems you will be fine if you just get 5 of both types (and I am sure the moment they offer those dice in clan colours they will see people by those dice then too--I certainly would). The dice allow you to have more internal character conflict right there on the dice, which is the key to samurai drama and the new game actually focus on exactly that--as it should!

Sure, change is not always easy, but in my opinion they impoved a lot on old ideas that always had been in the setting and now put an emphasis on those things. But yes it is possible that your gaming group might not like that, yet it should not be dependent on the type of dice, but if your grup likes to explore that kind of samurai drama. So, if you like that genré, then face your fears and give it a try!

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For this game I am really liking the custom dice, even more so than Star Wars/Genesys. I think its because of how the Roll and Keep system works. Because of how the different symbols represent different things, and allowing the idea that these dice can help a person feel the theme's of Rokugan better, then giving the players the choice to make meaningful choices by Keeping the dice they wish to Keep in turn gives the players a lot of Player Agency to dictate what happens to them without relying on GM interpretation alone to dictate the growing narrative of the game. 

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But aren't 5/6ths of the results success or opportunity?  How would a person ever fail at anything?  Seems like after tossing a few you don't like everything is going to be positive.

And with multiple approaches you're kind of pigeonholed into describing your action in the method that gives you the best dice.  Hida Bushi is going to cautiously do everything so he can always use earth ring...

Edited by LordBen

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8 hours ago, LordBen said:

But aren't 5/6ths of the results success or opportunity?  How would a person ever fail at anything?  Seems like after tossing a few you don't like everything is going to be positive.

On the ring dice there are 3 success and on the skill dic there are 7 successes, but some of them come with Strife. Oppotunity is not really useful when you have no successes. So, failure is still an option, and look at how small the dice pools are for starting characters! Also, don't forgot that the game has target numbers, so you are often required to have multiple successes. But honestly read the rules, plenty of such complaints should fade away when you start to understand how the system actually works.

Edited by Drudenfusz

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8 minutes ago, Drudenfusz said:

and look at how small the dice pools are for starting characters!

Are their sample characters somewhere?  I didn't see any.

 

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Half the faces on the Ring dice have a positive and negative symbol. Add the blank side and 2/3 of the faces have a bad aspect to them. So if you want to succeed you need to be prepared to suffer some bad as well.

As far as always using the best option that's thinking too much in a vacuum. The different rings represent different approaches to every skill, in combat that translates to side benefits that you need to leverage at different times.

Out of combat though it gets more complex. If we just look at smithy then each Ring is a different use of the skill. As an example if you want to create something new with the Smithy skill you must use Fire.

Its a complex system but the dice are actually the simplest component. Using standard numerical dice would either prevent a lot of the possibilities or be far more complex to dice roll.

 

Edit: Oh and I need to counter the "custom dice money grab" argument that doubters love to spew. In 4 years of collecting the FFG Star Wars RPG our group (5 players) has spent a total of $65USD on dice, plus I have the app. In that same time we have spent roughly $1100USD on books... THE MONEY IS IN THE BOOKS NOT THE DICE!!!!!

Edited by Richardbuxton

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Custom dice add a lot. I've run and played Edge of the Empire and other SW lines and I can say that the dice are a huge postive impact for our group.

The big thing they do is they change how people look at rolls.

When you roll a Success or a side with a Success and a strife symbol, you clearly see that. It starts to put those meaning into the narative.

If you roll an 4 and a 6, you rolled a 4 and a 6. If you have to add together you'll see if you succeeded and then maybe if you rolled really high you'll get to do more stuff. but the dice really aren't giving you that impression.

In other systems where numbers are basically successes, (like say Shadowrun) where you are you are worried about 1's and then 5 and 6's for successes, the die easily could be a symbol for potential fail, 3 blanks and 2 Success sides. It's what the numbers mean.

So could they do the same with Star Wars and L5R? Sure, but the key is that it's not 1: Blank 2: Strife 3: Success: 4: Success 5: Exceptional Success, 6: Opprotunity. there are multiple results on some of the die values. So that's a chart to memorize because rolling a 6 isn't always better than a 4, depending on what you are trying to do. Symbols just cut to the point, remove some unneeded math and get people thinking of how to put results narratively rather than mathmathically.

My players would get excited when they see Triumph and Dispair and people start going 'ooh, this could happen!' 'Oh crap, the engine will explode.' 

In a number system (L5R, Pathfinder, whatever) number results tend to turn into 'I hit' and 'Crap, I missed.' and that changes the tone of the narrative at the table.

In the case of L5R, since there is a lot of post roll manipulation and choices of which dice you'll keep, the symbols make the options clear. Abilities can proc off of it (good and bad ones) and it allowed them to make a very engaging Strife and stance system. 

For the beta, yes it's a bit of pain as you can't order physical dice easily. That will be change once the game releases. Some gamers use the same dice since the 80's, others buy new dice per character. Dice are just a fact of gaming and whether you are getting bricks of d6's, custom d10's made of copper or dice with alternate or unique symbols people do like their dice. 

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The cost is annoying but not a barrier.  I just think it's an extra layer of complexity that adds zero extra value to the game, only increased cost.   I've known for ~35 years how to total dice up and see if it's higher or lower than the number I'm looking at and how to count successes, etc.  Learning a new system and a new set of math really doesn't have much of an upside.

So far the two main things I've seen as things to put down in the "pro custom dice" column is that it's better than other custom dice systems.  Genesis, which I've never heard of and Star Wars where I looked at the book for 20 minutes and decided to stick with WEG's D6 system and Saga largely because of custom dice.   So being the least bad of the custom dice systems is an unconvincing reason.

The other thing people seem to put in the pro column is that it allows the dice to participate in RP instead of relying on the characters and story.   And for that I guess I view it as a negative as well.  I want the dice to help resolve the story, not dictate it.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Prost said:

Symbols just cut to the point, remove some unneeded math and get people thinking of how to put results narratively rather than mathmathically.

My mind works the opposite.   When I know I need to roll a certain combination of dice to succeed or fail in a math based system my mind can usually calculate whether I have a good or not good chance at succeeding in that task.   Intuitively I'm roughly aware whether my character is likely to accomplish a certain set of tasks and it makes me comfortable playing that character because I have a very strong sense of his limitations.  I have an easier time "being" the character because I know what I can and can't do.

With this system it's back to "that one DM I had those two games back in 2003" type thing where he'd never tell players the target numbers anything that would help us determine what we were good or bad at.   We had no understanding of whether we were facing an impossible task or a routine task every time we had to jump over something.    Going to some symbol based mechanic removes all that intuition from me and I become completely unable to easily calculate whether I can or can't cross a moss covered log in a rainstorm without checking tables for possible result numbers and doing the math in my head.  And to add to that they have d6's AND d12's in the same roll which makes the intuitive head math even worse.  

Edited by LordBen

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I see two benefits... faster math, and 2-axis results or even 3 axis results.

Faster math: many kids aren't drilled the way my generation was on math. So, it's more accessible to count symbols than total dice.

2-axis. Star Wars has two non-independent axises: succes/failure and Advantage/Threat. So you have four common output directions:
Success With Advantage,
Success With Threat
Failure With Advantage
Failure with Threat
 

This system has 3:
Success
opportunity
Strain.

Again, not independent, but different directions. Note that strain only happens with good stuff on the face.... trading strain for success or for opportunity.

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1 minute ago, AK_Aramis said:

Success With Advantage,
Success With Threat
Failure With Advantage
Failure with Threat

But that's not appreciably different than the WEG's wild die on the d6.  I'd allow you to succeed with complications, etc also and the main course of resolution was still simple compared to having to interpret what strife/opportunity mean each time someone rolls a die.

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Just now, LordBen said:

But that's not appreciably different than the WEG's wild die on the d6.  I'd allow you to succeed with complications, etc also and the main course of resolution was still simple compared to having to interpret what strife/opportunity mean each time someone rolls a die.

Yes, it is appreciably different.

WEG, the wild die (which wasn't in first ed, BTW, and was a not-good thing in 2nd as implemented)  was a boolean - either it was triggered, or not. ANd in practice, most groups I knew used it almost always for the success/failure mod, almost never for the second axis... because it had more notable effect for the story by costing you a 6, or for open ending, than for the (negative only, BTW) narrative effects of 1's.

This is genuine, rated in each dimension.

In the case of L5R 5E, it's 0-up in all three, with successes being 0 to infinity, rather than, FFG-SW's –(2x dice) to +(2x dice)...

 

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If the GM doesn't tell the PC's the TN the PC gets a Void point. This is supposed to be an open system where the PC weighs the chances of success. Looking at a TN I can already see that if the Ring number is lower I'm unlikely to succeed, if it's equal I have a decent chance and if it's higher then I'm likely to succeed. Skill dice primarily reduce the chances of Strife, so if I'm rolling some of them I can probably succeed for less emotional effort.

 

For you @LordBen ,who really resists giving one of these dice systems a go, I would definitely recommend trying to get an experienced player to run a demo for you. Genesys release later this year could be a good chance for an in store game. The step from letting dice determine success to dice also determining fortune is much smaller than you would think. From many conversations with people who desperately held onto Saga Star Wars they eventually tried FFGSW and it convinced many them. I'm not saying it will convince you, but you really should try it out before dismissing it.

I don't think the L5R dice system is a better Narrative system than Genesys/Star Wars, but I do think it's much better for the L5R setting. They both have their benefits but the Keep mechanics and the Strife system are L5R through and through. 

 

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33 minutes ago, Richardbuxton said:

For you @LordBen ,who really resists giving one of these dice systems a go, I would definitely recommend trying to get an experienced player to run a demo for you.

My entire gaming group has had no interest in custom dice systems so I have no experienced players to run any demos.   And my local "store" is online PDF purchases.   I haven't set foot inside a game store in probably 12 years.

 

33 minutes ago, Richardbuxton said:

@LordBenThis is supposed to be an open system where the PC weighs the chances of success. Looking at a TN I can already see that if the Ring number is lower I'm unlikely to succeed, if it's equal I have a decent chance and if it's higher then I'm likely to succeed.

Yeah, but you can pick whatever ring you want for every roll so you'll pretty much always be keeping a lot unless you're not very creative in your descriptions... :)

It seems like this system takes a "TN10 to cross a log" type thing and make it harder to resolve.  In return you have a mechanic that has you learn something about the nature of of the universe and/or throw a temper tantrum while crossing wet logs.... that about right?

Edited by LordBen

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Not quite, from the outset it tries to make it clear that dice should only be rolled for meaningful events. If crossing the log has significant story implications (perhaps a village needs warning of an attack right now and taking an hour to cross will spell their doom) then the dice should be rolled, if it's just to get to the other side then no, don't roll.

Theres quite a few people who run online games of these systems, roll20 has the dice baked in for example, but because of the narrative style of movement even Skye etc is a viable method. By your own admission you gave SW 20 minutes of your time before dismissing it, that's fine but you never truely saw what it has to offer. 

In your position of not having experience with these dice types of course your going to baulk at this beta. If someone dropped some beta of D&D 6th on my lap I'd probably not even open the cover, I hate the entire d20 mechanics!

But going by your comments on a love for story telling, the systems you mention etc I think the final version of this system has a lot to offer your group, if your able to essentially put aside your hang ups 

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I came here less than a week ago a bit like yourself, so sure that I wouldn't like and wondering what FFG did with my L5R...and WTF with those dice...

Keep an open mind, look for what it is not what you want it to be. And ask, read, give opinions on this forum. Plenty of folks, richardbuxton in particular, helped me clarify many points that I maybe didn't really wanted to see at first.

Now I think this is what I need to brng a second breath to a setting I loved and GMed for 15 years.

Regarding the dice, yeah its not D10, yeah seems its full of weird symbols, but it will bring extra. And if those dice look weird, remember that maybe 90% of earth population firmly believe that a die is only a six sided cube with pips.

I'm eager to test it because my new group is players with no previous RPG experience at all. First session with 4th ed was really hard to get them to interact with NPC or envision their actions. I think this system will help them feel the world more lively and actually contribute to it.

Edited by Nitenman

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9 minutes ago, Richardbuxton said:

Not quite, from the outset it tries to make it clear that dice should only be rolled for meaningful events. If crossing the log has significant story implications (perhaps a village needs warning of an attack right now and taking an hour to cross will spell their doom) then the dice should be rolled, if it's just to get to the other side then no, don't roll.

Like something is chasing you and you need to quickly cross a wet slippery log without falling in or whatever.   Plenty of situations where a roll can be called for.    I guess for me I just want the dice system to tell me if it succeeds or fails and not one where I roll opportunity and suddenly remember the magistrates wife collects teacups from around Rokugan while crossing a log or whatever.   Seems superfluous.

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it works more like this:

The log can let you cross a stream, but currents may make it dangerous.

will you cross brashly, adding stress to your mindset because its a close call, or be cautious, and opportunities can make you give help to a less agile member of your party.

Reread the rules with an open mind, they are not what you think. The philosophy of the approach is very important and quite deep. Plus you don't really pick your ring, circumstances pick it for you. Of course you're free to influence these circumstances by role play or strategic choices.

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That opportunity should play into the scene though. Perhaps you're the last to cross, everyone else is running for the village. You roll;

Suc/Str, Suc, Opp/Str and Opp.

you could succeed at the TN2 check, or you could forgo success knowing you will be going swimming. But by forgoing Success you can take 2 Opportunity to have the old log break, cutting off the rout for the enemy and delaying their approach. The second Opportunity could be used to ensure you end up on the right side of the river, or you don't loose any gear in the swim, or an outrider spots you an caries you to town on their horse.

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3 minutes ago, Nitenman said:

will you cross brashly, adding stress to your mindset because its a close call, or be cautious, and opportunities can make you give help to a less agile member of your party.

I'd cross cautiously so I can use earth ring (would probably be Hida Bushi) instead of the others since that would probably be my highest.

Edited by LordBen

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2 minutes ago, Richardbuxton said:

That opportunity should play into the scene though. Perhaps you're the last to cross, everyone else is running for the village. You roll;

Suc/Str, Suc, Opp/Str and Opp.

See, this is kind of my problem.  At first glance I don't know if a result like that is a statistically average, really good, really bad? 

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