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LukeZZ

School Rank (halved) added on TN while in Air stance

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School Rank is not used anywhere beside School Abilities. Why adding it in the Air stance and not increasing TN by 3 if Air is 5 or more, by 2 if Air is 4, by 1 if Air is 3 or less?

Edited by LukeZZ

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Because you don't want TN6 Air Elementals and hyperscaling Air-Void focused characters. That, and you want to leave up Air stance as an attractive option even for characters that don't invest too much into it.

EDIT

To be fair... “Increase the TN of Attack and Scheme action checks targeting you by half 
your school rank (rounded up).”

...means that opponents will receive exactly +0 from Air Stance, as they possess no School Rank, and thus get 0 / 2 = 0, rounded up to 0, Air Stance bonus. Wow.

Edited by WHW

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8 minutes ago, WHW said:

...means that opponents will receive exactly +0 from Air Stance, as they possess no School Rank, and thus get 0 / 2 = 0, rounded up to 0, Air Stance bonus. Wow.

Exactly... I think that only School Abilities should be linked to School Ranks.

Edited by LukeZZ

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12 minutes ago, LukeZZ said:

Exactly... I think that only School Abilities should be linked to School Ranks.

What should be used? 

 

Linking to a specific stat would unduely favor that stat. As mentioned above, if air ring was used then air focused characters would be better. 

Perhaps link the defense bonus to the skill you’re being attacked with. If attacked with melee, add half your own melee skill. If attacked at range, add half your own ranged skill. This could lead to cinematic moments where the hero in the sword fight punches his foe (since his foe went into air stance and has a low unarmed skill), or a foe chooses to hurl a shuriken instead of attacking with his ninja-to (because the hero is in air stance and has a really high melee skill). 

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9 minutes ago, AndyDay303 said:

What should be used? 

 

Linking to a specific stat would unduely favor that stat. As mentioned above, if air ring was used then air focused characters would be better. 

Perhaps link the defense bonus to the skill you’re being attacked with. If attacked with melee, add half your own melee skill. If attacked at range, add half your own ranged skill. This could lead to cinematic moments where the hero in the sword fight punches his foe (since his foe went into air stance and has a low unarmed skill), or a foe chooses to hurl a shuriken instead of attacking with his ninja-to (because the hero is in air stance and has a really high melee skill). 

Yes, this would be a good way.

Edited by LukeZZ

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The reason they use school rank for it is because it is the closest thing they have to general level of your character. The concept is that more experienced characters would be able to defend against attacks better than someone that was new and inexperienced. Instead of Air stance only giving +1 to TN and not scaling with higher level characters, they did it this way so it does scale in some way. School rank is the closest thing we have to insight rank from 4th ed. so I could see it being used in abilities and systems to scale them to the character's "level." showing that they get better at it over time.

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idk if I like the idea of it scaling...  We already had Striking as Air which allowed the character using Air stance to spend extra Opportunity to add some bonus TN to their defense against the next attack action.  Now Striking as Air had to have its Opportunity cost adjusted because the Air stance gives FREE scaling dodge...  I feel this kinda unbalances the intent.

This change was based on short-sighted reactions by players who failed to comprehend the concept of Wounds / Fatigue being different from Crits.  In this game you take some "damage" and you're fine!  Just don't get capped out or critted!  They also didn't realize Striking as Air was already in place to allow players to bump up their dodge higher if they determined that was their priority in combat.

A TN 3 was already enough to prevent characters from gaining Opportunities against you to land Crits or use other nasty things, bumping that up for free is too powerful...  Gating it by school rank gives a reason to rush school rank in a game that did a great job of NOT requiring that...

Edited by shosuko

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I see what you mean.. I guess it’s still worth having playtesters have a go at it. Beta is trying several things and we’ll see if that new one bogs down play at higher levels (more miss, and/or less opportunities due to being forced to keep 5+ successes).

Another idea was to have extra defense be represented by extra Resilience, maybe based on tactics or weapon skill (and that would not be the sole domain of Air). At the same time, it’s true that Air stance did not scale very well unlike the others - unless you had access to kata (striking as Air). 

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Did the other stances scale?  Earth simple said the opponent cannot spend Opportunities to do a few things.  Fire lets you gain bonus success per Strife, but its just bonus success - those aren't always important, and it requires keeping Strife.  Water just gets you a free action.  

Was air actually missing anything by not scaling?  Is it now the most powerful at top levels because it does scale?  Gaining a TN 5 not just for attack actions but also scheme actions...  this is a major buff on the high end.

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I think the argument was that the other scale because you and your opponents roll more dice at higher level. So Earth protects you from potentially more harm, and you can keep more Strife to augment your successes (while having more composure to soak it up). 

TN 5 is massive, I agree... but I haven’t played enough with 10k5 rolls to realize how it will affect the game. This has to be tested. If it does not work, I am all for a rollback!

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The other scale because the higher school rank character has (normally) higher ring and skill ranks. This should be applyied to the Air stance (for defense) too.

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With the change, PCs become unhittable by most NPCs around rank 3-5 while in air stance and it does neuter the ability to use opportunities on those rolls.

However, through some game play we found there are ways around this with magic and using NPC Squads (pg 191). For magic (or other abilities) you have to use effects where the save is higher for air or otherwise circumvents the need to meet the PC's TN.

For NPC Squads 4 Rank 3 PCs gives us 12  combat rank 1 minions as an equal challenge. So we make 2 NPC squads of 6 minions. Working off the Bandit minion as a rough guide, that gives the GM a total of 2 attacks per round, each at R8k7 (six of which are skill dice), and their advantage lets them re-roll two dice. PC in air stance is going to be a TN 4 to hit, and lets say they are all in air stance. Most of the time PCs shouldn't be walking around in full on armor, so their clothes should be soaking up 2 damage. Taking into account their clothing, you're looking at damage of 3-6 per strike depending on the roll and if you spend opportunity to crit. It isn't worth criting with the weapons the bandit minions get as the PCS can negate it, so focus on damage.

A PC at rank 3 is probably going to have around 14 resilience (some lower some higher). That means at least 3 strikes at full force to incapacitate them. However you won't get that, as on average each PC will drop 1 minion per round. So each group loses 2 dice per round, and will only last 3 rounds. Less if the PCs go first, but the squads roll so many dice they should be able to beat the initiative of the PCs.

Round One: two attacks at R8k7 (six of which are skill dice)
Round Two: two attacks at R6k5 (four of which are skill dice)
Round Three: two attacks at R4k3 (two of which are skill dice) and odds are neither squad can really hit the PCs
Round Four: Dead

So to have an impact, you have to focus on a single PC and have both squads hit that PC each round. First round you'll probably damage the PC for 10 total. Gets a little interesting here, as the PCs have to choose between attacking or defending. Ideally, you'll get a PC or two to go defensive and slow the rate the squads shrink, or the PCs will all attack and you'll be able to drop 1-2 PCs.

If the PCs all take guard actions and do okay on the rolls they can wait out the NPCs as their strife builds (about 3 rounds) or you can have the NPCs use the wait action to attack once the PCs let their guard down, forcing the PCs to take action eventually. Or have the NPCs use some kind of action that isn't impacted by the guard maneuver. 

Dealing with armor. On average at least one squad per round will crit, but the PCs will lower the severity to zero and their attire soak up most the damage, so you should plan to crit on those wearing armor and try to destroy it with crits, as damage is really all you can do to take them out as at this rank the PCs can resist crits fairly well.

Critting an incapacitated air stance PC with a typical bandit weapon will maybe break their jaw. So if there is a social scene coming up it might be fun to fun/evil to focus on the face character and break their face before the next confilct. Otherwise just dealing damage is the better option.

Now the 6 minions per squad be spread out eating up some of the action economy for the PCs. Narratively we can describe this however we want with minions attacking everyone and most missing and only two out of the bunch delivering a heavy blow.

However this all way more math and strategy than what I should have to do for a narrative focused game.

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The change only gives a max of +2 more to TN compared to what air stance did before and that is if you basically max school rank. To counter this they also changed the striking as air kata to require 2 opp. per TN increase (apart from initial increase) versus 1 opp. before. This makes passive defense scale better with characters who are naturally getting better at what they do. We will of course need to test it more to see how it works and if other changes should be made etc. I haven't personally tested the changes myself yet, but I may run some case tests soon just to see the differences of the changes.

Edited by tokugawa77

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17 hours ago, LukeZZ said:

The other scale because the higher school rank character has (normally) higher ring and skill ranks. This should be applyied to the Air stance (for defense) too.

I don't believe this actually causes the other stances to scale.  It doesn't matter how many dice you roll, the Earth Stance does the same thing - it prevents your opponent from spending Opportunities on Crits or Conditions.  Water stance allows you to move an extra range band at the end of the turn, and ready or stow an item.  That doesn't scale at all.  Void doesn't scale either, it simply prevents you from gaining Strife.  You could try to say this is scaling as you could avoid more strife, but it isn't making your actions any better, it just frees you from taking Strife.

The Fire Stance is the only stance you could say scales - because you gain Bonus Success equal to the amount of Strife you show on kept dice.  I don't think this really counts as "scaling" since the more skill dice you roll the less likely you are to actually keep any Strife - also you do need to keep the Strife to get those successes, and they are only Bonus Successes, you still need the Successes to actually succeed at your check.  Bonus Success aren't Opportunities, once you have enough Success to actually pass a check you typically want Opportunities next...

So now we have Air stance - genuinely scaling without cost.  It is actually the one that sticks out most now as I can show 3 of the stances completely fail to scale no matter how many dice you roll, and only 1 sorta-scales, but with a cost built in.

The way all of the stances scaled was through the kata anyway - striking as earth allowed you to dump opportunities to gain resistance.  Striking as Fire allowed you to boost crits.  Striking as Air allowed you to boost your dodge...

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7 minutes ago, shosuko said:

It doesn't matter how many dice you roll, the Earth Stance does the same thing - it prevents your opponent from spending Opportunities on Crits or Conditions.  [...] Void doesn't scale either, it simply prevents you from gaining Strife.  You could try to say this is scaling as you could avoid more strife, but it isn't making your actions any better, it just frees you from taking Strife [...]

I'm no convinced this is an entirely fair way to look at this... At beginner level, while it's easy to get 2 successes, getting those and 2 opportunities to crit is a tad challenging. So here, Earth stance is nice to have, but most of the time, not a life saver. When enemies start rolling 8 dice and keeping 4 or 5, opportunities will crop up much more regularly, and Earth stance increases in value. Big time. Same with Void: it allows you to keep those Strife+Success dice without a second thought. The more advanced the PC, the more benefit.

I do agree that Water stance is quite stable - but also it does not lose in efficacy (especially in its new form, which I like a lot).

While I am not 100% sold on the new Air stance, I still realize that in its previous version, it was really great on Rank 1 characters, and lost its clout at higher levels. A low challenge opponent is going to have trouble reaching those 3 successes... but adversaries worthy of Rank 4+ characters will hardly break a sweat. So you might have considered the other stances "static" (which I don't believe they are, except Water, but for the sake of the argument...), but Air stance actually had diminishing efficiency!

Now maybe there are other ways to address that.

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9 hours ago, Franwax said:

Now maybe there are other ways to address that.

For the Air Stance I was thinking something like:

"When other characters make Attack action checks and Scheme action checks that target you, they cancel every Explosive Success they get."

or, less powerful:

"When other characters make Attack action checks and Scheme action checks that target you, they change every Explosive Success they get into a Success."

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I like the second one a lot. Preventing dice from exploding. Seems to me that it’s on par with the Earth stance bonus, and that it really shines in conjunction with striking as air (in its previous version). The kata raises the TN, and the stance prevents the assaillant from reaching it. 

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Preventing dice from exploding hard caps opponents number of kept dice, making TN=Kept+1 even more oppressive than it is now. 

If you want a "scaling" bonus that doesn't lead to whiff fests and preventing stuff from happening, an interesting area to explore would be reducing or negating bonus successes - either negating them all together (not fun vs armor and hard counters fire stance), or reducing their number by X. 

That would turn Air Stance less into a "I go into this Stance and nothing interesting happens to me" and more "I go into Air Stance and bad things still happen, but their level of bad is minimized".

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Disclaimer: I'm not overly familiar with the lore decision behind the stance bonus effects.  Bear with me.

Doesn't it make more sense for each stance to mirror it's elemental pair? Fire and Water more or less cancel out, as do Air and Earth?

If you read the current draft, Air is linked to the Feint military approach.  It should be generating bonus opportunites (to be spent on defensive Kata like Striking as Air, or on Crits, or whatever).

Likewise I would say the adaptive approach of Water is better served by cancelling or stealing the Fire bonus from strife.  From a purely elemental point of view.

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I think Luke’s idea was to have the “no explosion” effect  instead of the +1 TN. You can still have increased TN with a kata, but that’s just for one attack per round.

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1 hour ago, Franwax said:

I think Luke’s idea was to have the “no explosion” effect  instead of the +1 TN. You can still have increased TN with a kata, but that’s just for one attack per round.

Yes, exactly.

 

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