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shizumaru

Game of 20 Questions - 7th Question

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I've been reading the beta rules and there is one small thing that bugged me, and that's the seventh question of the game of 20 questions.

Either you firlmly believe in the precepts of your Clan and you get an Honor boost, which is fine by me, or you're a bit of a maverick among your own and you get one rank in a skill "opposed" to your Clan's thing.

And that's a bit wonky.

I get how the mountains and the sea are opposite, so I understand the rationale behind a not-very-dragony Dragon having a +1 in Seafaring, but it makes little to no actual sense no matter how I think about it. Same thing about Cranes and Commerce, given that Cranes can often be merchant patrons and the Crane is insanely rich because of that. Having unCrabby Crabs be good at design seems to spit in the face of the Kaiu and not-too-Unicorn Unicorns having a boost in Culture makes you wonder where the Ide fit.

Here is how I would fix this: If you do not fit in the stereotypical precepts of your Clan, you get a free rank in a Skill that is neither a family nor a school skill of yours. To represent how you got to learn things outside the box. Kind of a free skill rank, but sort of hard to cheese with other bonuses at chargen.

What do you think of this fix? Did this question bother you too?

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It wasnt' explained very well but the feeling I got was less that the skills given are what one does when they disagree with their clan and more what jobs they are given by their clan when they don't toe the line. Trouble making Dragon are setn to work at the docks, bleeding heart scorpion are given minial labor jobs to keep them out of the way etc. That's what I got from it anyway.

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My thought were, why dont i pick from the list?
because the hard connection between clan and list, lead me to a lot of questions, do i get this skill because i defied the clan traditions, or did i defy the clan traditions because i have this skill?

ultimately i came up with this solution:

Because you are not in line with clan image, you where granted a less than glamorous job as punishment, this punishment job is that skill.

Ergo, you ran afoul of some cranes with influence, and now you do filthy commencer instead of true art.
you do not obey unquestionably, and thus are not 100% loyal, have fun arguening where to dig the ditches.

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I think it's the seafarer that's most jarring though; It seems bizzare that abnormal dragon clanners should consistently decide to go to sea. 

I'd wouldn't want to make it a 'wild' skill, because a truly free choice of a skill rank doesn't seem a fair swap for a handful of honour (by comparison, the other 'free rank' comes when you not only don't take an extra advantage but instead take an extra disadvantage as well), but a list of 'not normal' skills and then noting that as @shizumaru suggested, you cannot take any skill you already have a rank of (which means you won't be able to 'double up' anything on a clan, family or school package) should work.

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On 10/16/2017 at 4:18 PM, shizumaru said:

Here is how I would fix this: If you do not fit in the stereotypical precepts of your Clan, you get a free rank in a Skill that is neither a family nor a school skill of yours.

But if we did that - why would you ever take the Honor boost option for following the Clan theme?

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First of all, because of roleplay reasons. An Honor boost is sweet, and this game is supposed to be at least in part about Honor.

And taking a +1 in a Skill that isn't a family or School skill makes sure it's not a skill that stacks and starts at 2 or more. All in all, it's a 2xp headstart in something small that won't count towards advancing your curriculum.

Doesn't look like that terrible a deal to me either way.

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Just re-read the beta for Question #7, and the benefit for sticking to Clan archetype is actually a mere +5 Glory, making the "extra non-school, non-Family skill of your choice" an even more enticing proposition.

Additionally, by the current suggestion, you're saying that an Akodo Commander who picks Courtesy 1 for their extra skill is someone who has "a fundamental disagreement with their clan’s beliefs, policies, or practices and has defied these in the past."

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3 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

I think it's the seafarer that's most jarring though; It seems bizzare that abnormal dragon clanners should consistently decide to go to sea. 

I'd wouldn't want to make it a 'wild' skill, because a truly free choice of a skill rank doesn't seem a fair swap for a handful of honour (by comparison, the other 'free rank' comes when you not only don't take an extra advantage but instead take an extra disadvantage as well), but a list of 'not normal' skills and then noting that as @shizumaru suggested, you cannot take any skill you already have a rank of (which means you won't be able to 'double up' anything on a clan, family or school package) should work.

All player character abnormal dragon clanners consistently decide to go to sea. It’s a bit of a metagame distinction, but there it is. That said, I’d much prefer a little more freedom here as well.

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16 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

All player character abnormal dragon clanners consistently decide to go to sea. It’s a bit of a metagame distinction, but there it is. That said, I’d much prefer a little more freedom here as well.

The point made (which imo makes more sense) isn't that you chose to do something because you go against the clan grain, but that your clan chose to do something with everyone (or at least the PCs) who go against the grain, and have defied the clan in the past.

Providing some amount of choice would be good, but so would altering the wording to make it clear it wasn't the PC's choice.

Edited by BitRunr

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I like Chilitoke's and BitRunr's take on this.

Like, this is something your Clan made you do because you didn't fall in line. That's a distinct L5R flavor alright.

So yeah if it were worded like that, I guess having a choice between, say, three skills for each Clan, that could be nice. I'm afraid it could open a door to optimization at chargen, more than my fix of "free rank in a non-school non-family skill", but it's clearly more flavorful and I like it.

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2 hours ago, BitRunr said:

The point made (which imo makes more sense) isn't that you chose to do something because you go against the clan grain, but that your clan chose to do something with everyone (or at least the PCs) who go against the grain, and have defied the clan in the past.

Providing some amount of choice would be good, but so would altering the wording to make it clear it wasn't the PC's choice.

The thing is, this sort of fits the seafaring Dragon (although going against the grain is Dragonesque to begin with) but doesn’t make a lot of sense for most of the others. Most of these atypical skills are just that, atypical. It’s still plausible for a Crane to have some mercantile sense (particularly artisans who may trade in art and courtiers who may broker agreements involving economic matters) or a Unicorn to be interested in matters of culture. And these skills can be useful and bring honor and glory to the samurai and by extention the clan, so why foist them off on someone unless they show some kind of aptitude for them - particularly when that aptitude is supposedly rare? I can get the notion of the clan daimyo wanting that kind of unusual expertise to be acquired, but it feels a bit petty and ineffecient. Which is certainly an attitude some daimyo have, but hopefully not all. Which in turn brings us back to the “it’s just all the PCs in that situation, not every clan samurai in that situation” argument, but for me atypical samurai taking atypical interests is still more to be expected than atypical samurai getting assigned atypical tasks rather than merely having more trouble rising through the ranks.

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2 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

for me atypical samurai taking atypical interests is still more to be expected than atypical samurai getting assigned atypical tasks rather than merely having more trouble rising through the ranks.

Calling them 'atypical tasks' imo homogenises what is, for all examples, a skillset whose usage would take you away from the sight and mind of your daimyo. Possibly to the peripheries of the clan, but at the least to duties less glorious than you might otherwise perform.

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3 minutes ago, BitRunr said:

Calling them 'atypical tasks' imo homogenises what is, for all examples, a skillset whose usage would take you away from the sight and mind of your daimyo. Possibly to the peripheries of the clan, but at the least to duties less glorious than you might otherwise perform.

Well, yes, but now you’re not presenting this as the character using this skillset because his daimyo gave him tasks that necessitate it. If you do stuff your clan doesn’t like or at least doesn’t value, it’ll lower your glory and status and that will in turn affect your “career”. But that’s not what this mechanic does or even implies.

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5 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

now you’re not presenting this as the character using this skillset because his daimyo gave him tasks that necessitate it.

I disagree. Just because you have been given a duty does not mean it will be good for your reputation. Being remembered in Rokugan is important, and the longer you spend away from court or performing duties no one wants to talk about, the easier it is to be forgotten entirely.

5 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

But that’s not what this mechanic does or even implies.

Oh? The choice is between +5 glory and a " reputation as an upstanding member of their community", or to acknowledge " your character has a fundamental disagreement with their clan’s beliefs, policies, or practices and has defied these in the past" and gain a skill whose use contrasts with the norms of the clan.

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29 minutes ago, BitRunr said:

I disagree. Just because you have been given a duty does not mean it will be good for your reputation. Being remembered in Rokugan is important, and the longer you spend away from court or performing duties no one wants to talk about, the easier it is to be forgotten entirely.

Oh? The choice is between +5 glory and a " reputation as an upstanding member of their community", or to acknowledge " your character has a fundamental disagreement with their clan’s beliefs, policies, or practices and has defied these in the past" and gain a skill whose use contrasts with the norms of the clan.

We seem to be talking past one another to some extent. You appear to say that Clan samurai who displeased their daimyo got assigned tasks involving unusual skillsets. We seem to differ on the causality. Do they get tasks with unusual skillsets because those are less important and less glorious, or do they get tasks that are less important and less glorious and those just happen to more frequently involve unusual skillsets?

I think many of the unusual skills mentioned are just unusual and can be (and presumably are) used to good effect for the betterment of the clan (maybe not by these PCs, but that would still require them getting assigned tasks where they have to use these skills without it being of value to the clan). Unusual doesn’t mean useless. 

Making the atypical choice doesn’t mean you lose Glory, you don’t get a bonus. It doesn’t even say you have a bad reputation. And it means you get a skill that’s unusual for your clan. It doesn’t say you actually get a task that gives you practical experience with that skill. I mean, are Dragon shugenja, even ones who have displeased their daimyo, likely to be given sailing duties? And what about skills that are certainly valued like Design for a Crab, particularly a Kaiu? 

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Quote

Finery and worn art (Design)

Design covers the act of making clothes for times of peace and formal occasions.

What about Design exactly? Elaborate for me on which aspect the Crab are particularly fond.

Quote

Dragon shugenja

Are you saying the Dragon will not need shugenja on the rivers or seas?

Quote

Making the atypical choice doesn’t mean you lose Glory, you don’t get a bonus.

Tomato. Tomato. If you have defied your clan's beliefs, policies, or practices, then you have a certain glory value, while if you have not, you have another.

Quote

Do they get tasks with unusual skillsets because those are less important and less glorious, or do they get tasks that are less important and less glorious and those just happen to more frequently involve unusual skillsets?

I can't see that your distinction matters when talking in broad strokes about samurai defiant of common standards across entire clans.

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I think for many player the choice is do I get a permanent skill upgrade or a  boost in honor, which later changes anyway because of my actions...

I take the permanent skill upgrade regardless of which skill is boosted, thank you very much.

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Honor in 5th ed only goes down if you allow it to. The DM can't trick you into dishonorable behavior, it's how Honor is presented here, in opposition to what it was in previous editions.

DM gives Honor, PC chooses when to compromise it.

So a small Honor Boost can actually go a pretty long way. And a single Rank in a previously untrained skill is only worth 2xp. That's one hour of play. Barely long enough for the group's Hida to break wind and for the group's Ide courtier to apologize in his stead.

I get the logic of "I'd rather have a solid, permanent bonus than one that may go", but in this case both are fairly minor, and the Honor boost ain't that bad.

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3 hours ago, Yandia said:

I think for many player the choice is do I get a permanent skill upgrade or a  boost in honor, which later changes anyway because of my actions...

I take the permanent skill upgrade regardless of which skill is boosted, thank you very much.

Yes and no. That more comes down the type of player IMO. You can look at each step of the character creation either from the top down or the bottom up, quite literally. You can go top down and use the descriptions and fluff that best fits with your emerging character concept and take what ever changes to your character sheet are given at the bottom because of those choices, or you can start at the bottom with changes to your character sheet and then find out how that choice will effect your concept.

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20 hours ago, Darksyde said:

Yes and no. That more comes down the type of player IMO. You can look at each step of the character creation either from the top down or the bottom up, quite literally. You can go top down and use the descriptions and fluff that best fits with your emerging character concept and take what ever changes to your character sheet are given at the bottom because of those choices, or you can start at the bottom with changes to your character sheet and then find out how that choice will effect your concept.

I don't have the quote from Mark Rosewater in my head but I will paraphrase. 

He was ask what the diffrence between a top down or a bottom up magic set is, and he basiclly answered: If we did our job right there is no diffrence.

And I think this is true for RPGs as well.

 

I think in this case. I am presented with 2 choices and both should be equally good. However I really really doubt that.

 

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Hmm, I can understand where that is coming from but when it comes to RPG's I don't quite agree.

There are, in my experience, two types of role players. Ones that build their character around stats and one who builds their character around concepts and background. As always there will be over lap and some times we do things one way and not the other but for the most part players tend to stick with one style. For the stat based character creator there will always be an 'optimal build' no matter how balanced you make a system some combinations of things will yield better stats and numbers. In theory this is balanced out with the other side of things and that may make a concept that is ... lets just say uncommon in the setting. The background first player tends to not really be worried about how the numbers and stats end up and doesn't mind not being 'optimized' to have a solid concept and background.

As I stated, this is a simplification and there are all manner of role players and GMs out there that combine, ignore, or break these generalities /but/ in my 20+ of playing and GMing that is the most common split I see amongst players and one of the more common table discussions about a system.

Why would you take X when Y gives you a better stat? Why would you take the better stat when X will lead to more interesting role play?

When it comes to card games and board games there is not incentive to do anything other than what will lead to your optimal statistics or ability sets. With role playing games there is a factor beyond statistics and numbers that people hold a value to so while there may not be a +1 here or their or they have to 'settle' with something short term they see a greater value in their decision for role play opportunities in the future.

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I've seen 3 types of RPG CHarGen preferences:

  • Min-maxers
  • Concept builders
  • Make sense of the randomness

L5R never seriously supported randomness mode.

Min-maxers will find any imbalance eventually, and will tend to think they've found one more often than they actually have. In the old days, that resulted in heated debates in the comic shop or game store... sometimes chased out into the mall by the shop employees. Now, it's heated arguments on the internet.

Concept builders generally only want balance in so much a it shuts up the min-maxers they have to deal with. They instead want interesting hooks.

Now, I had a guy who found a major story-boon, and played it well... He was Togashi Ichirō... Son of Togashi Hoshi. Grandson of Togashi-kami. And he could shapshift... but he didn't until it was a good story point.... and Wham, he saves the party... then the party tries to convince the crab they saw it wrong... "No, Hida-san, you couldn't have seen Togashi-sensei turn into a dragon... people don't shapeshift."

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The problem is, character creation doesn't actually do much for "Concept Builders" unless their concept was "What the designers had in mind" or it involved some kind of weird mental illness. And you can't really even Min/Max because there are a grand total of three "choices" in character generation. If you just wanted to play a Lion or Crab Clan Bushi, the game min/maxes him for you, with your only meaningful input being choosing that second Disadvantage to get the one extra skill point.

But it doesn't make Concept Builders happy either.  Concept Builders like choice.  There's basically no real choice in this edition, despite the deceiving appearance of choice.   With so many "fixed" skills, character creation is really just "write this down on your sheet."

  •     Pick Crab, write this down.
  •     Pick Hida, write this down.
  •     Pick Hida School, add +1 to your Fire trait instead of Earth, write the other stuff down, "pick" 5 of these skills even though we know that for three of them you're going to take Martial Arts Melee, Fitness, and Tactics, who are we kidding. Take Striking as Earth because you're going to soak nearly all the damage and possibly break everybody's katanas even in your Traveling Clothes and it will be funny. That, and if you're using Water Stance, you're probably using those Opportunities on Strife management anyway.
  •     Add +1 to Water because you'd be silly to put it in anything else. Or as a min/maxer, sit and struggle with the math if it's better to put in in Fire.
  •     Write down some roleplaying stuff you'll probably end up revising a half dozen times.
  •     Do you like painting? Fancy kimonos? No, probably not. Have some Glory.
  •     Does you character concept include liking Medicine? Survival? Running a side business? Maybe? Okay.  Well, pick that or have some Honor.
  •     Take something kinda cool that's tied to Earth or Water, maybe Fire. Or something you think is cooler that you probably won't be as good at.
  •     Spend a lot of time trying to figure out how this thing will actually work in game play and if it will ever benefit you.
  •     Pick a hobby.
  •     Spend even more time on this step trying to figure out how this doesn't screw you over or blow up your character concept.
  •     Spend a lot of time trying to figure out how this extra thing will actually work in game play, and get better at hitting people with your testsubo because this is the closest you can get to min/maxing.
  •     Write down some roleplaying stuff.
  •     Roll a D10 twice, figure out what's better for you, then another D10 and take the free thing.
  •     Write something pithy about your character dying.
Edited by TheVeteranSergeant

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