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Monkey Bloke

Understanding Approaches

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I ran the first half of A Ronin's Path yesterday, and one of the early issues we had was getting a handle on the TN changes by approach, not the concept of it, but the specific choices that the adventure has made.

Since this is a beta, and we want to test the system as written, I would like to try to understand the choices the designers made, so that I can replicate their approach when running my own content.

I'm going to concentrate on the first set of rolls listed in the adventure, examining the bloodstains in Hida Kayo's room.

Based on the Art of Investigation sidebar on page 95, I get that most uses of investigation use the approaches of the Scholar skill group, so I looked to that for my initial ideas.

The first test is:

TN 2 Aesthetics (Water 1, Fire 3) check or TN 2 Labor (Water 1, Fire 3) check: The door frame is damaged, which indicates someone must have opened the door screen with great force.

I can appreciate why Water (survey) might be advantageous, although I can also imagine the same thing for the Air (analyze) and Void (sense) approaches. Why is Fire (theorize) less advantageous that say, Earth (recall)?

 

The next test is to check the footprints in the blood:

TN 3 Survival (Fire 2, Air 4) check or TN 2 Tactics (Fire 1, Air 3) check

I can see why Fire (theorize) is advantageous here, but why is Air (analyze) penalised over, say, Earth (recall)?

 

Finally, so check the blood splatter for causes the PCs have:

TN 3 Martial Arts [Melee] (Air 2, Earth 4) check or TN 2 Medicine (Air 1, Earth 3) check

Funnily enough, this check matches my thinking exactly, that analyzing the blood splatter is the best way to get results, and that recalling things is the least useful. Why is this different than checking for the bloody footprints?

 

I understand wanting to use a variety of approaches, but can anyone explain to me the thinking of these three approaches so I can understand the intended reason for these specific superior and inferior approaches in these instances?

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1 hour ago, Monkey Bloke said:

TN 2 Aesthetics (Water 1, Fire 3) check or TN 2 Labor (Water 1, Fire 3) check:

Why is Fire (theorize) less advantageous that say, Earth (recall)?

 


If we consider the usual Earth approches for Aesthetics and Labor, we have Restore and Produce.
So, maybe it is to not penalise someone who could repair/produce the item. If you can repair it, maybe you can identify that it is broken.

Whereas Fire is for Inventing/ Innovating.

 

1 hour ago, Monkey Bloke said:

TN 3 Survival (Fire 2, Air 4) check or TN 2 Tactics (Fire 1, Air 3) check

I can see why Fire (theorize) is advantageous here, but why is Air (analyze) penalised over, say, Earth (recall)?

This one is really weird if we consider that the common Air Approach to Survival is for tracking people (in the wild, sure. But still...).
And Air/Water with Tactics are about flanking and repositioning.

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That's a good point about the trade approaches for aesthetics and labour. I think I'll need to get to the point where I have internalised all the approaches properly, there are enough of them, and you seem to hold outside the skill group approaches often enough, that I think players and GMs will need to get familiar with the list.

I've tried to go through all the fire and air approaches, and still can't puzzle out the footprints one though.

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I honestly think that approaches are better when taken out of the skill context. As we can see above, you can only understand some of the TNs when you look at approaches in other skill groups. The problem is that if you are meant to do this, then why do skill associations even exist for approaches?

If you are not meant to look outside skill groups for approaches, then some TNs and dice pool make no sense at all.

If you are meant to look outside of the skill group for approaches, why are they tied to skills?

The rings provide a very obvious framework for looking for an approach, skill association is unnecessary in helping you search I feel.

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Indeed: as far as I'm concerned any approach descriptor works with any skill class - investigation particularly since you're not following the 'normal' use of the skill.

On 10/16/2017 at 11:28 AM, Exarkfr said:

This one is really weird if we consider that the common Air Approach to Survival is for tracking people (in the wild, sure. But still...).

Because water is survey, air is analyse - or to translate, water spots the damage in the first place, air figures out important details from a thing you've already noticed (following a trail you already knew was there).

The door damage is easy to miss, hence water (because the challenge is slotting it in the first place)

The massive blood spatter, on the other hand, is pretty darn obvious - the challenge is interpreting it into anything more useful than 'thats a lot of blood' - hence air.

Think of it as awareness versus scrutiny in 40k rpg terms

Why  the footprints differ from the blood spatter I'm less sure.

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Yeah, I get that.

I was only adding to Monkey Bloke's surprise.

Air is about analysing, and tracking is already an Air approach.
Making Air disfavoured for the blood pool is thus doubly weird.

 

The scenario should teach players that :
 - Water is used to notice stuff
 - Air is used to examine that stuff in detail
 - Earth and Fire are used to further refine the info you just got.

And if some approach is made favourite, I think it should make sense based on the common use of the skill.
If not, it just becomes a mini-game to find the right combo...

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12 minutes ago, Exarkfr said:

If not, it just becomes a mini-game to find the right combo...

To be honest, that's where I think a lot of people are going wrong if I'm understanding the rules in the making a check section correctly.

There is no choice of ring: looking at the rules for checks, outside a conflict (where it's dictated by your stance), you describe narratively what you want to do ('see what I can figure out from the blood spatter') and the GM tells you what mechanical approach that corresponds to ('that'll be martial arts or medecine [air], then') and you can like it or lump it.

Which doesn't really seem to fit the instructions in the adventure as written, so may be wrong.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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3 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

...you describe narratively what you want to do ('see what I can figure out from the blood spatter') and the GM tells you what mechanical approach that corresponds to ('that'll be martial arts or medecine [air], then') and you can like it or lump it.

Which doesn't really seem to fit the instructions in the adventure as written, so may be wrong.

This seems like a fine approach to checks you me (bad pun intended), but when a player says "I want to analyse the blood splatter to see where the attacks came from" vs "I want to theorise where the attacks came from based on the blood splatter" I can't see why the first statement is a very hard task while the second is an average task.

I suspect without hearing from the writer of the adventure I'll not understand it completely.

If I was running a similar mystery without a printed adventure, I think I'd make different choices, which isn't an issue in itself, but I'd like to know why I'm on a different wavelength than the developers.

Thanks for all the input, it's very useful.

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Yes. Double-checked, and thought So:

Page 13:

Quote

 

  • The player can propose a skill, or the GM can call for a particular skill based on circumstances. As with all matters, the GM is the final arbiter over appropriate uses of skills
  • Then, the GM selects which of the five elemental approaches corresponds to the methods the player described. This determines which of the Five Rings the character uses for the check

I still don't get the bias for the specific approaches in "A Rōnin's Path", but the selection of Ring is emphatically done by the GM, not the player.

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On 10/18/2017 at 0:38 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

Yes. Double-checked, and thought So:

Page 13:

I still don't get the bias for the specific approaches in "A Rōnin's Path", but the selection of Ring is emphatically done by the GM, not the player.

The player picks the method. The GM can decide if the described method is a given approach.

"I corner him and stab him with my knife"

It's up to the GM to define whether that's fire or air...

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On 18/10/2017 at 8:38 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

Yes. Double-checked, and thought So:

Page 13:

I still don't get the bias for the specific approaches in "A Rōnin's Path", but the selection of Ring is emphatically done by the GM, not the player.

While technically its true. Ultimately the real decision lies with the player as if they construct their approach correctly they can define the ring being used and the GM can either announce the ring they're fishing for is the one being used... or be wrong. 

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