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2 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

The samurai drama is real: after a day of Samurai Stress(tm), the party gathers around Hida Hickup to listen to his terrible stories and calm down from his rocky voice or something :lol: .

Can picture that:

GM

"Thanks you for sharing Hickup Dono. Now I see some new faces here today. Anyone wants to share?

Clears his throat and stand up...

Hi, I'm Mirumoto Whatshisface and I have the irrepressible flirtation disadvantage. I almost wasted a chance to get information from a cute Doji courtier today because I cannot keep it in my Hakama...

Party

Hi Mirumoto Whatshisface Dono!"

Strife prone samurai would end up actively seeking such group like Ed Norton in the beginning of Fight Club...

Edited by Nitenman

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19 minutes ago, Silverfox13 said:

If this is the case, then the game has a wholly different problem, and a mechanic that never has an impact probably shouldn't be there.

The problem isn't that it never has an impact.  It's that it has a really large effect on some characters and almost none to other characters if played smartly. If you have low Water because you goofed during character creation, Strife could be a heck of a problem for you.  If you did character creation "right" and you're a character with a 3 Water, you probably have little to no problem with Strife because there's very little incentive to use anything other than Water 80-90% of the time because you'll still succeed unless the GM is trying to mess with you and giving you endless TN3 Water approach penalties.  And the first chance you get, you'll raise to Water 4, because you'd probably be a fool to do anything else with your first 18-24 XP (6-12 XP getting Void + lowest to a total of 4, then 12XP for Water 4). Then the GM either has to suck it, Trebek, or he can escalate being a jerk and giving you harsher Water approach penalties until the group just decides to stop playing the game altogether, lol.

And that's really the problem with Strife.  It's so arbitrary and temporary that it becomes a minigame that you can stat/stance around.  Plus, it's really only going to hurt entry-level characters. A Matsu Bushi should be able to start with a Composure of 10, and have 3 Water to bleed all that Strife, and he's going to be more or less immune to Strife and Outbursts through that combination just based on how long it takes to actually accumulate 10 Strife versus how many chances he'll have to Water it down (da dum, chsh).  It's not going to take other characters very long to meet or exceed those stat lines.

The fix to this is going to have to be two-fold.  First, skills need to be tethered back to Traits/Rings, even if each skill can use more than one Trait/Ring. Just not all of them. Otherwise I Water. Yes, again.   Second, Strife needs to become something that builds up slowly, and can't just be sloughed off with Water Stance ad nauseam. Because even if you nerf my Water Stance to Remove 1 Strife instead of 2, it's still the best stance in the game for non-combat rolls. And if you nerf the Strife removal out completely, then how do you manage strife at all on a short-term bonus?  FFG didn't think of the consequences of having a Strife mechanic that functions the way theirs does. It requires a mechanic for managing it otherwise every character is a boiling teapot.   A Strife mechanic that works more like Call of Cthulhu's Insanity would make much more sense, but it has to be redone from the ground up because you have to fix "All Water, All the Time" (and in a way that doesn't just make it All Earth All the Time or All Air All the Time since that's the new god-tier trait, etc).  But if you do that effectively, then you've broken Strife in the current mechanics because clearly the designers imagined Water Stance as the primary method for controlling Strife.  Then again, these guys imagined failing at Disadvantages as the way to get Void Points back, lol. They need some help.

Just spitballing, because I would have to test any theories, but Strife as a long-term mechanic like Insanity that builds up on a much larger and long-term point system could work.  But, like I said, it's a ground-up overhaul of the system, and I'm sure they're set on using custom dice so it will have to somehow tie into them.

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   As has been said endlessly, the player doesn't get to choose his Ring for many of his rolls. If you're attending Court, and don't want to earn any Strife, yeah, you can just go and have a good time. Make some new friends (Water) or be a wallflower (Void).  And honestly, a Matsu bushi may be under explicit instructions to do just that.

   But a courtier has a job to do, and limited time to do it.  If he's escorting a naive Unicorn, he might use Earth to help avoid faux pas and deflect backhanded compliments.  If he's trying to get people talking about his Akodo rival cheating in a duel, he'll need to use Air to be subtle about it.  If he's trying to incite his Unicorn friend to strike against the dishonorable Akodo, he'll need to use Fire.

   And no, he can't just retreat for five minutes and make an Ikebana (Water) roll every time his Strife starts to rise.  A wise GM will set a time limit, and each check made uses up time.  If the party lasts four hours, and each check takes an hour, our courtier needs to be on the ball.

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23 minutes ago, The Grand Falloon said:

If he's trying to get people talking about his Akodo rival cheating in a duel, he'll need to use Air to be subtle about it.

 

You can use Water to be subtle. Eternally shifting and changing, you mire your true disposition into layers-after-layers of flowing rhetorics, making sure that your point still hits home hard. Like an undercurrent riding under the silent water: you won't see it coming until it drags you out into the ocean. 

 

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2 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

You can use Water to be subtle. Eternally shifting and changing, you mire your true disposition into layers-after-layers of flowing rhetorics, making sure that your point still hits home hard. Like an undercurrent riding under the silent water: you won't see it coming until it drags you out into the ocean.

I agree that that's Water-based rhetoric, but that isn't subtlety; that's sustained propaganda, ie. "Death by a Thousand Cuts". If you use Water: you will not be able to hide that the chatter started with you. Subtle rhetoric is, and should remain, the sole domain of Air (i.e. cunning).

I guess the biggest problem people have with the new system is that they're crafting their characters' actions based on their best Ring, rather than letting the character act as someone in that situation naturally would then rolling the Ring that best fits the intent of the action.

Let's not forget: samurai do fail. Just because a Ring is 1, doesn't mean they should get a pass on taking actions of TN 2+ for that Ring.

Edited by Radon Antila

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2 minutes ago, Radon Antila said:

I agree that that's Water-based rhetoric, but that isn't subtlety; that's sustained propaganda, ie. "Death by a Thousand Cuts". If you use Water: you will not be able to hide that the chatter started with you. Subtle rhetoric is, and should remain, the sole domain of Air (i.e. cunning).

1

You will be, actually, it will be just slightly harder to do because of the doubled Opportunity cost. You will not be able to do your manipulation in a flashy way. Everything else is fair game. 

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6 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

You will be, actually, it will be just slightly harder to do because of the doubled Opportunity cost. You will not be able to do your manipulation in a flashy way. Everything else is fair game. 

   Near as I can tell (thanks to the tables being scattered across the book), obscuring the source of rumors is not an Opportunity option.  It's just part of what you do with Air.  In any case, as a GM, if someone is trying to get rumors going, I'm going to ask them for an Air check.

   Of course, you can use Water as your opening, if you know your target will be difficult to manipulate.  I know that Ikoma Senzo is a proper, honorable man, not usually prone to idle gossip.  However, I'll start with Water, using Opportunity to lower my next TN.  If I can get him repeating the rumor, or even better, telling one of his Uncle Remus-style speeches, it will carry a lot of weight.  Of course, he won't name any names in his tale, but my friends and I have the rumor going around already, so people will know who he's talking about, even if he doesn't.

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TheVeteranSergeant, all of your arguments against Disadvantages and Strife seem to be based on the notion that PCs have an unlimited number of checks they'll be making that they don't care about the outcome of. Why are there so many unimportant rolls in your game?

While Water Stance does allow you to remove Strife, outside of allowing for some mobility tricks, it doesn't actually make you better at whatever it is you're trying to do. Same with Void stance. Earth and Air make you harder to affect by enemies in various ways, while Fire lets you risk Strife to succeed by a larger margin than you would have otherwise. If your game is full of rolls your characters can either easily succeed at or don't care about the outcome of, it probably isn't very dramatic and I guess Strife probably won't matter -- since Strife is a measure of stress and all your characters do is trivially succeed at things or don't care about the things they're attempting.

The examples a few people have painted of spending time outside of stressful situations making checks to get rid of Strife are being silly. You mean that doing calm, low-stress activities in times when things aren't on the line relieves stress? It almost sounds like that's the idea. Strife is something that becomes a problem in times of conflict, not when you're "driving home from work".

Similarly, with Disadvantages, it seems silly to assume that characters can just take Disadvantages to things they don't care about and just continually refill their Void points that way. If the players are making a check for something, it should be something they want to succeed at. A failure on a check should represent a missed opportunity, a delay, or some obstacle for the PCs to overcome. If a failure doesn't matter, why was there a check in the first place? The Void point you gain from one of your disadvantages causing you to fail/suffer an Outburst is meant to mechanically take the sting off of failing when you would have rather succeeded, as well as rewarding the players for roleplaying flawed characters. Someone who picks a disadvantage that isn't going to cause them to fail often gets the benefit of not suffering its effects as often; someone who picks a disadvantage that will actually disadvantage them gets more Void points. I think it works pretty well.

The main thing I disagree with as it relates to these things is the fact that Void points reset each session and are not entirely predictable to acquire, which makes it seem like having a high Void score isn't that useful because why would you need to store 5 Void points if you probably won't get that many most of the time?

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On 10/14/2017 at 3:03 AM, The Grand Falloon said:

   As has been said endlessly, the player doesn't get to choose his Ring for many of his rolls. If you're attending Court, and don't want to earn any Strife, yeah, you can just go and have a good time. Make some new friends (Water) or be a wallflower (Void).  And honestly, a Matsu bushi may be under explicit instructions to do just that.

Maybe it's just me, but it kind of sounds like Max and Katrina were trying to capture a bit of how 7th Sea 2nd edition handles a PC's main attributes and how they relate to skills.

in 7thSea2e, a PC has 5 main Traits (Brawn, Finesse, Resolve, Wits, Panache) which largely do what they sound like they do.  However, none of the skills are linked to a specific Trait, so one PC could use Finesse+Weaponry to make fast and precise cuts to their foes while another PC uses Resolve+Weaponry to simply wear down their opponents and a third uses Panache+Weaponry to go all Errol Flynn on the bad guys.  The player can suggest Trait and Skill combinations, and the rules say that as long as they can provide a good justification for it, allow them to use that combo; Resolve+Scholarship is such a case of an oddity, but the PC is staying up into the wee hours and ignoring food and sleep as they try to find the legal records that will incriminate the Villain and thwart their scheme.

It'd take a serious overhaul of the mechanics (which FFG may well not want to do), but they probably could streamline the whole "Rings as Approach" and just say that each of the Rings adds a specific slant to using a Skill, namely in the way that Opportunties are spent.

So for instance, a Doji Courtier wants to spend their time at court schmoozing and making connections.  Under the proposed revision, they could roll Air if they wanted instead of being forced to roll Water as their Ring, but if they wanted to post an interesting physical detail in the scene, they'd have to pay extra Opportunity to use choices from Water or Fire for that roll.

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20 hours ago, Zarick said:

TheVeteranSergeant, all of your arguments against Disadvantages and Strife seem to be based on the notion that PCs have an unlimited number of checks they'll be making that they don't care about the outcome of. Why are there so many unimportant rolls in your game?

While Water Stance does allow you to remove Strife, outside of allowing for some mobility tricks, it doesn't actually make you better at whatever it is you're trying to do. Same with Void stance. Earth and Air make you harder to affect by enemies in various ways, while Fire lets you risk Strife to succeed by a larger margin than you would have otherwise. If your game is full of rolls your characters can either easily succeed at or don't care about the outcome of, it probably isn't very dramatic and I guess Strife probably won't matter -- since Strife is a measure of stress and all your characters do is trivially succeed at things or don't care about the things they're attempting.

This is patently false. In combat, Water provides you armor reduction and bleeds. Both are very effective.

In intrigues, Water approach is basically the "charm" approach that makes people like you more and/or empathize with your cause. Both seem very important.

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47 minutes ago, Rawls said:

This is patently false. In combat, Water provides you armor reduction and bleeds. Both are very effective.

In intrigues, Water approach is basically the "charm" approach that makes people like you more and/or empathize with your cause. Both seem very important.

Water Stance (the thing that removes Strife and competes with the other four stances) does not cause armor reduction or bleeds. The former is Striking as Water, a kata. I'm not sure what Water effect causes Bleeding, but it's pretty irrelevant to my initial point. The claim that was made was that you can just sit in Water Stance all the time and not have to worry about Strife ever. My counter-argument is that Water Stance doesn't do anything on its own to actually help you succeed or make enemies less likely to succeed against you. Water certainly has its uses, for mobility and obviously for removing Strife, but I'd argue that all the stances do.

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23 hours ago, Zarick said:

Similarly, with Disadvantages, it seems silly to assume that characters can just take Disadvantages to things they don't care about and just continually refill their Void points that way.

That's only a problem with Exploit Ninja, a character a good GM will disallow, but currently the rules explicitly allow. The problem is, GMs don't want to have to be constantly making judgement calls on character creation, telling players "Hey dude, that's Exploit Ninja, and not in the spirit of the rules." And every other character who is making their character the "right" way (right way being the way the short-sighted designers intended the character creation process to work) is then looking for hoops to jump through to get their Void points back. But the end result is, no argument about it, a player looking to fail at a task fairly often to get Void Points back.

The problem with Disadvantages is that the players want to fail from time to time, not necessarily what the GM will allow.  It doesn't have to result in bad GMing. A "good GM" could easily block player attempts to deliberately fail at tasks. In that case, it's just a bad, disruptive rule that's a complete waste of everyone's time because everyone is unhappy.  Consider how absurdly specific the Disadvantage mechanic is.  The players have two or three very specific situations they can use to regain Void Points. Only those situations, aside from the also-terrible Discord rules and the fairly silly "hide a target number" sub-rule (in a game where TNs typically vary by +/- 1 due to the dice mechanics, this ought to be a risky guess, lol) will regenerate Void Points. Not generic types of tasks. Not certain kinds of situations.  Two to three weirdly specific sets of circumstances. Meaning for players to get Void Points back, they have to try to fail at the same two or three things over and over, or the GM has to just hand them out for free because the game hates scenes and story content that matter.  It's bad.  All the way bad.  It is, that I can recall across dozens of games I've played and read over the years, the worst RPG rules mechanic I've ever seen. It sucks as a rule, and it sucks as a roleplaying aid. It doesn't do anything well. And I'd actually appreciate somebody mentioning ones that are worse just so I can look them up and enjoy the lols that something dumber than this got published.

Quote

While Water Stance does allow you to remove Strife, outside of allowing for some mobility tricks, it doesn't actually make you better at whatever it is you're trying to do

What does it matter what some silly Fire Stance trick does if you have Water 4 on a routine check? Okay, soak two Strife for a couple extra successes on that Fire roll (based on dice odds on a theoretical 4k3 scenario) to "Really pass" that one check you need, then blow it off on the next roll using Water against a TN 2 where statistically you should get 2-3 non-Strife results on the dice and only need to Keep 2 to succeed. I don't think you're really giving much thought to how these mechanics work after the characters have even a small amount of experience.  If I don't have to make rolls, I'm not gaining much Strife anyway, so the cumulative number of "unimportant" rolls is irrelevant; only the percentage. Peeling off two Strife is the best mechanical result from those stances by a large, large margin, for any Uncontested roll on a routine basis. And it's so strong that as long as you can work it into a rotation in Contested situations, the Strife you get in the intervening rolls will be often irrelevant aside from adding some extra effort to the Strife Minigame. If I roll 5k4 with a Water roll, I might pick up 3 Strife if I roll poorly. I'll shed two of that on the next roll. What danger is Strife to me if my average roll is going to be 0-1 Net Strife?  And since it's the best Trait Stance by a large, large margin, you're incentivized to buff up your Water Trait to the point where the statistical chance of success outshines the potential benefits of alternate stances.  Let's use the 24 XP the sample adventure gives you.  This should put a starting character at 4 Water, and 2 everything else (potentially one other Trait at 3, or some skills sprinkled in).  Bear with the approximated math, but 5k4 for a Skill 1 check gives you (again, approximate) odds of  .8 Strife+Success, .92 Success w/o Strife, .75 Strife+Explosive, .08 Explosive, and 1.74 non-Strife+non-Success results.  So, right there, I have an average of 1 non-Strife-generating success on the 5 dice (4x6 1x12) with a slight chance of exploding, meaning you need to keep only 1 Strife-producing results per roll to make TN2.  If even 50% of my total rolls are Water Stance for routine rolls, Strife is almost no threat to me, but success+opportunity is statistically all but guaranteed against TN2. With Composure 10, if I rolled Water Stance even 1/3 of my rolls, I can make approximately 25-30 rolls before having an Outburst (I'm accumulating an average of just under 4 strife per 12 rolls at 4k3) unless I'm spamming Fire Stance and keeping extra Strife on purpose. And this doesn't even account for the Opportunity use for Water Stance being to get rid of even more Strife. And you're only going to need the extra Fire Stance successes if you're expecting to make a lot of TN3+ checks. But you are making 2.55 Successes per 5k4 already, with 1 of them being Explosive, so TN3 isn't really that big of a deal to you just sticking with your Trait-weighted Water Stance, so the likelihood of anyone spamming Fire Stance is fairly low. Chances are they're turtling with Air or Earth during Conflicts. Given how important Strife removal is to characters, you have to be using Water Stance fairly often anyway. Might as well be good at it.

So no, you don't roll with Water Stance every single time, and I never suggested that.  Just most of the time.  It's that good.

Quote

Strife is something that becomes a problem in times of conflict, not when you're "driving home from work".

Except if you can easily manage it out of conflict scenarios, you'll always be starting from zero.  You're again not really thinking about how these mechanics work, especially after a small bit of XP has been gained. Play the sample scenario (well, don't, it's terrible, but hey) and add the 24 XP it suggests.  Soaking 0-1 Net Strife on a roll is irrelevant to a character who can soak 10-12 before having an Outburst and has more than enough points in Water to control it.

Quote

Why are there so many unimportant rolls in your game?

You don't seem to understand the rules of this beta too well nor the theorycrafting and math behind them and how they'll play out on the table. Try not to make assumptions of how many "unimportant" rolls are in mine, lol. 

 

The Strife mechanic's most ardent defenders seem to just want to defend Strife as a mechanic because they want it to work, without any consideration for if it works as it is modeled in the game. It's a silly minigame easily statted around. Unless you don't buff that one specific stat, in which case, Strife is going to punish you for not drinking enough Water.

Edited by TheVeteranSergeant

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6 hours ago, TheVeteranSergeant said:

The Strife mechanic's most ardent defenders seem to just want to defend Strife as a mechanic because they want it to work, without any consideration for if it works as it is modeled in the game. It's a silly minigame easily statted around. Unless you don't buff that one specific stat, in which case, Strife is going to punish you for not drinking enough Water.

I love everything in this paragraph.

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Except that having playtested it, it does work, so there's that. This exploit ninja you keep mentioning is actually not against the spirit of the rules, nor allowed by a 'bad gm'. Please don't insult other posters. I really don't see this character in actual play turning out the way you envision it, namely some sort of consequence-free void generating machine.

Talking about actual play: there really is an opportunity cost to spamming water stance and furthermore outbursts are not some horrible, terrible character-ending occurrence that you have to warp everything around avoiding them as if they were the plague. 

You also keep returning to the disadvantages. The principle of rewarding players when their disadvantages negatively impact their characters is not really controversial and been used in plenty of other games with success. You may not like it, but honestly, tastes differ and many of your objections disappear with taking some care in the selection of disadvantages.

Now, what is worth discussing is the failure clause and that many find the wording of those disads too extreme. We've experimented with awarding void whenever a disadvantage comes into play, regardless of success or failure of the roll, or if there even was a roll and players liked that a great deal more.

 

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15 minutes ago, Doji Namika said:

Except that having playtested it, it does work, so there's that.

I dunno but I also playtested it, and it ain't working.  My experiences are mostly in line with TheVeteranSergeant's: Strife is kinda broken as a mechanic, and Advantages/Disadvantages cause all sorts of hard-to-handle situations. 

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I'm not going to quote that whole ridiculous wall of text, but "Exploit Ninja" isn't a thing. It doesn't exist. If you're failing on more rolls because of your Disadvantages, you get more Void points. If you're not, you fail less. This is how it's supposed to work. A character more affected by their disadvantages gets more Void points, a character less affected by them doesn't have to worry about failing because of their Disadvantages as much (or accumulating as much Strife) but they get fewer Void points.

Your whole argument about Strife this time both claims that it's unimportant and easy to manage, and yet that you have to use Water Stance to manage it. Which is it? And regarding needing TN 3 checks... have you looked at the Techniques? There are a lot of Techniques that have TN 3+, as you get higher some of them go as high as TN 6, which is flat out impossible without Fire Stance's bonus successes or explosive dice. Additionally, some stronger targets will have high armor that you need bonus successes to get through, or alternately you'll just want them to end a fight quickly.

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What about strife do you experience as broken? Yes, it is possible to play it cool and keep up your On at all costs and use water stance a lot. I do not agree that that is the only rewarding way or that it comes without cost and definitely not that you have in some way beaten the game.

One of my players is playing the unflappable guy who never loses his cool, and he has until now avoided outbursts, though yes, many times he felt he had to work for it, and was not as free to pick stances as the players who were risking outbursts. Was it crippling? Nah, not at all, but he did have to work for it. Working as intended in my book. Nor was it for the other players, who ran the gamut from being reasonably careful to the hotheaded Crab who went out of her way looking for it.

The disadvantages are trickier to manage, I quite agree, and as I said, we did in the end drop the failure cause. I have also allowed down-time actions linked to the characters performing their passions to restore 1 void per session, so yeah, not using the system as written myself. There really has to be a solid conversation between players and gm about them, and care taken in picking them. Which makes sense, as these drive what happens in your game as much as your 'gm plot'.

TLDR: while I can agree that the way it is written is too restrictive, I don't agree that the principle is not sound.

Edited by Doji Namika

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37 minutes ago, Doji Namika said:

What about strife do you experience as broken?

It isn't just Water that helps to negate Strife. Earth negates it too. Heck, every Ring can remove Strife at an 1:1 rate for Opportunity (Fire can go with Earth and Air can go with Water). Void Stance removes all Strife from your rolls. Assistance (other then being extremely powerful all by itself) allows for exchanging Strife on a roll. Passions can potentially remove tons of Strife. I don't think you can actually push into Outburst territory unless you have extremely poor rolls or deliberately go for accumulating Strife (maybe you can have Fire 1 Earth 1 too if you feel really suicidal). 

Really, Strife is not a problem as long as you keep an eye on it. It doesn't add anything to the story other than burning up Opportunity or forcing you to play a certain way (either limiting your Ring choice, stealing narrative Opportunities, or pushing your Passion when it is inappropriate). It is a friggin' annoyance. Like, it does not make the character angrier, it makes the player more frustrated. And that ain't good. 

It also doesn't help that Outbursts can be actually negligible, so the whole annoyance over Strife can end up being baseless. Or even worse, ridiculous. So you get annoyed when the game points out that you shouldn't. And that's a lot of annoyance over a single mechanic I'm not even sure what it wants to accomplish. If I want character drama, then I roleplay it. Maybe talk to the GM to set up a cool scene for it too. So, considering all the fuss, what Strife is for? I'm asking!

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Oh, yeah, my players almost never uses opportunities to remove strife. There are almost always much better uses for it. 

Anyway, in a heated discussion in court, or a tight battle I have found that holding back and not risking building up strife is not quite as easy, especially when the opposition starts handing them out as well. It is not impossible by a long shot, but as you say, it does restrict your choices! You re paying a cost and that is the whole point!

Though I disagree that it forces you to play in a certain way. Just be true to your character. If pushing your passion is inappropriate, then don't do it, or allow your players do it if you're the gm. If the character would rather lose a discussion in court, because he or she is struggling to keep his On and therefore unable to throw himself fully into the debate than so be it. If it matters so much that he or she is willing to risk losing his composure over it than that is fine as well.

I don't see this as missing narrative opportunities or being frustrating at all.

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32 minutes ago, Doji Namika said:

If the character would rather lose a discussion in court, because he or she is struggling to keep his On and therefore unable to throw himself fully into the debate than so be it.

Ah, things tend to go the opposite way. Characters who kill Strife with Opportunities will fare better because they don't have to fear Outburst. They can tank more Success+Strife (or the even better Explosion+Strife) results without bothering too much while characters who wants to spend their Opportunities on cool and fun stuff will get hosed by Strife and even auto-lose in certain cases. One's ability to go around Strife will directly influence their dice economy because they can keep more boldly and disregard the consequences... at the cost of player strain and missing out the cool stuff. On the other hand, you can drink Strife and have Outbursts... at the cost of missing out the stuff that matters and thus player strain. It is a lose/lose situation either way.

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I am not trying to take either side here, but in my experience a game mechanic should add something to the game, and should usually be fun and enjoyable, even if it is a mechanic that punishes the player. 
What experiences have GM/Players had with the mechanic in actual game play that has been good or bad?
In other words, what does the mechanic bring to the table?
Example: In Star Wars, strain is a similar mechanic, it is used as a buffer to non lethal damage, as a resource to fuel powerful abilities, and when depleted causes the character to become unconscious. In my experience Strain is well balanced, it impacts the game in almost every situation and in most ways is an enjoyable mechanic in the game. 
 

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4 hours ago, Zarick said:

I'm not going to quote that whole ridiculous wall of text, but "Exploit Ninja" isn't a thing. It doesn't exist. If you're failing on more rolls because of your Disadvantages, you get more Void points. If you're not, you fail less. This is how it's supposed to work. A character more affected by their disadvantages gets more Void points, a character less affected by them doesn't have to worry about failing because of their Disadvantages as much (or accumulating as much Strife) but they get fewer Void points.

Your whole argument about Strife this time both claims that it's unimportant and easy to manage, and yet that you have to use Water Stance to manage it. Which is it? And regarding needing TN 3 checks... have you looked at the Techniques? There are a lot of Techniques that have TN 3+, as you get higher some of them go as high as TN 6, which is flat out impossible without Fire Stance's bonus successes or explosive dice. Additionally, some stronger targets will have high armor that you need bonus successes to get through, or alternately you'll just want them to end a fight quickly.

Again with you discounting math and theory without justification for why you're discounting it. By the time you can get to the TN6 techniques, you'll have significantly more dice.  They're called Experience Points, and they add up.  And as your traits go up, so do your derived stats.  And if you're using Fire Stance to peg that TN6 roll... guess which Trait factors directly into Composure... wait, it's... Fire!  So for every extra die I can Keep using Fire (thus theoretically generating half a point of Strife per roll to get those extra successes), I'm getting two additional points of total Composure.  All of these things are cumulative. You're not gaining School Rank 5 abilities with Rank 1 Composure, and the dice probabilities aren't scaling at a level that makes this harder.  If anything, they actually start getting easier at higher rank.  Imagine rolling 9k5. Two opportunities with Void, Earth, or Air strips 2 strife.  Two opportunities with Water strips a total of six including the check. Most of the time, it's irrelevant how much Strife you end up having to keep on any given roll. It washes off.

The other thing you're missing is the player chooses whether or not to fail.  It's a Roll and Keep system. The player keeps what they want.  If they need a Void point more than they need to pass the check associated with their Optimized Disadvantage Selection  they're just going to keep the non-success results (which will be roughly half the results rolled, statistically). The things they want their Void Points for use during the game doesn't have to be, and in practice will not be, associated with their Disadvantage selections.  Plus, there's a clear disconnect between things a character would want to succeed at, but the player using their meta-knowledge of Stupid System has no real pressing need to succeed at.  That's the rub. There are plenty of roleplaying justifications for gaming the system. Poor tragic disadvantaged character.  If I play Classic Crab Clan Bushi, I'm going to take an Anxiety that is mostly meaningless to me (Painful Honesty, why do I need to lie?) because the mechanical effects aren't going to hinder me.  Then I'll take a pair of Adversities (taking +1 Martial Arts: Melee as my Free Skill Point™ from Step 13, thank you) for rolls that will come up from time to time, but I don't care too much about failing at. Disdain for Compassion sounds pretty Crabby (da-dum chshh), and even better, it's Water-based and I'm not stupid so my starting Water is 3, so if I do need to pass it every once in a while, my chances are better. And I can just switch to Earth in combat with Striking as Earth, and if desirable, just be One With the Strife until I cast my Become Enraged buff, and now I get a Void Point for killing people, my favorite thing.  Look at this fun minigame! I can either avoid it entirely, or strategically choose to stop avoiding it to gain a mechanical advantage.

Strife is unimportant because it is easy to manage, and there's no penalty to using Water to manage it, and the statistical probabilities for an elevated Water Trait match those of other stances with lower traits, and you are going to have to use Water to manage it at some point so being better at Water is advantageous.  After that run-on sentence, the question remains: "So what point are you trying to make?" It's not a "Which is it" because those aren't mutually exclusive scenarios.  I "have" to use Water to manage it. If it's your highest trait, using Water on 33-50% (or more) of rolls has almost no downside unless all you do in your campaign is fight (whether with swords or words). And honestly, if you just want to run a campaign where people hit eachother with swords and sticks all the time, why would you be playing a storygame? Strife is basically like managing finances for an established company, only without any worry about market variations because the probabilities are fixed.  "I can expect to have this much in expenses (Strife), so I'll need to plan to make this much revenue (Water checks/opportunities) to stay profitable.  Legend of the Five Accountants.

You're not going to quote my "ridiculous" wall of text because you don't have any answers. Your entire argument is based on wanting to ignore those statistical probabilities, and a steadfast belief that players won't behave in their own best interests so they can "roleplay" your idealized version of this beta, just to satisfy a few poorly written mechanics.  The problem is, there will be a lot of players, who like many of us, realize these mechanics are poorly written, and they're just going to look for ways to make them as unobtrusive as possible.  I don't even plan to be a player. I have only ever GMed L5R and the campaign I had just proposed will be run by me. But as it stands, I have no reason to fault players who look at Strife and "Void Points Regeneration Through Disadvantages" and say to themselves "This is stupid, how can I make its stupid bother me the least?"  The first system where Min/Max will be the player trying to minimize the amount the rules can be annoying, and maximize their ability to have fun playing the kind of character that interests them.

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The reason I'm ignoring your "math and theory" is that it's all based on the assumption that on any given check, two things are true:

  • You only need the minimum margin of success (TN 2 for attacks, etc)
  • Consequences for failure are not severe

Like, you are probably right. You can totally stay in Water Stance (as long as you design your character around it, since there are plenty of abilities that require other stances) and negate a large majority (maybe even all!) of the Strife you suffer. I don't know why you haven't mentioned Void stance much, since it lets you just flat out ignore Strife results on dice, but hey, let's talk about Water. But that's sort of the point, isn't it? You can take the relaxed, flexible approach, keeping your calm in battle. You can take the sturdy, defensive approach and keep enemies from gaining decisive advantages on you. Or you can go all out, stressing yourself out to push yourself that much harder. That's the whole point of the mechanic. Like, yes, absolutely, you can negate Strife if you try hard enough. But then that's all you'll be doing, isn't it?

The fact that you can play around the mechanic is absolutely fine, but so is the opposite: going all out and accumulating tons of Strife and succeeding harder while you're at it. If you don't like that, great, have your Water stance. Your example of deciding to accept a bunch of Strife to get more successes is the whole point, and your example absolutely does sound like a fun minigame to me. With each roll, you're basically deciding how much effort to put in.

I'm not even going to argue the point of Disadvantages with you, which I'm sure you will take as a sarcastic victory, with memes and TMs all over the place. That's fine. If your game throws characters gimmes all the time that they can fail on purpose and there's no story or mechanical consequences, then it probably is a bad mechanic for you. Though I think a lot of people are additionally forgetting that you'll never be able to have entirely gimme disadvantages in a long-running game since severe criticals inflict them on you.

6 hours ago, TheVeteranSergeant said:

The first system where Min/Max will be the player trying to minimize the amount the rules can be annoying, and maximize their ability to have fun playing the kind of character that interests them.

This is the most telling thing to me. You're pretty much explicitly defining "annoying rules" as things that disadvantage your character. Characters aren't supposed to be perfect. Perhaps you shouldn't have taken the Perfectionist disadvantage.

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14 hours ago, Zarick said:

as you get higher some of them go as high as TN 6, which is flat out impossible without Fire Stance's bonus successes or explosive dice. 

I've seen this mentioned a couple of times, but unless I'm missing something you can't use fire stance to hit higher TN's. 

 

Quote

When you succeed on a check, you count as having one additional bonus success for each strife result on your check.

You have to succeed on the check (which means meeting the TN) before you can use it, and furthermore bonus success is a key phrase, this doesn't grant successes, only bonus successes.

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