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Support Actions and Assistance

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I just ran an Intrigue last night, which ended rather abruptly. All of my players wanted to discuss their arguments, and when one of them really got into it and made a very good option, everyone else ended up choosing to use their arguments in support, basically choosing the Assist action, with the principle player using the Persuade action.

So, I had a player using their 3 Fire and 2 Courtesy to Persuade. They had four other players offering Support, two with the Persuade skill and two without. That meant two extra Ring dice and two extra Skill dice. Then the player spent a Void Point, for yet another Skill die. That made this a roll with 5 Ring dice and 5 Skill dice. With their Fire 3, 4 other players offering Assistance, and 1 Void Point spent, they were able to keep 8 (!) of those dice. One was an exploding success, which rolled an extra success, so in the end, the player ended up getting 5 successes and 4 opportunities. Since the goal was to subtly mock and undercut an opposing NPC, those four successes were spent to cause the NPC to suffer 8 Strife, pushing them over their Composure limit, but that was only an aside to the real Objective: revealing the flaws in the opponent's position.

I really feel that the rules for Assistance are overly generous. With five people working together against one NPC, they should definitely have been coming in with an advantage, but this was over the top. Previous editions only allowed one extra kept die, no matter how many people offering Assistance, for precisely this reason, and I would suggest that rule to curtail some of the insanity. My player would have still had the same dice to roll, and would have been able to keep five of them, which would have been plenty to achieve their goal, but would have had to choose between getting massive amounts of extra successes or having a lot of Opportunities, which would have forced an interesting decision on them.

I realize that I could just use a house rule, but I am trying to test out the beta rules as written. What do people think? Has anyone else had a similar experience with this mechanic?

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While I haven't engaged in an Intrigue that utilized a joint argument from PCs I have run court scenarios in previous editions that resulted in great synergy between players to convey a scheme.  With my experiences and the scene you described I have to say that I very much cherish the opportunities for cooperative gameplay and outcomes so long as the contribution of players seems fair.

I believe a use of dimishing returns on assist with any npc that contributes the same stat or skill at a lower rank after the 1st providing an additional dice but not kept.  The acceptions of course lie with unique contributions like a component of the argument not considered before or secondary checks to establish new precedent for the poi t as well as apply additional knowledge or tact that could all create opportunities for the rest.  I would represent these synergistic schemes or contribution as either free dice with an opportunity or modifying aspects of the target life his vigilance tn or strife.  Perhaps even additional opportunity options unique to the interaction.

 

 

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Indeed, Assistance is pretty darn powerful, I can only attest to that. 

It does encourage cooperative gaming tho, so I'm kinda fine with it. It also gives a lot of breather to dice economy, and that's a good thing in this game too. 

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9 hours ago, jmoschner said:

Assistance is fine for now. It is the only way PCs can hit some of the higher TNs, especially at the lower levels. It is also needed for GMs as PCs hit rank 3+ to keep minions viable.

Taking the 'Ronin's Path' adventure, storming the Kaiu Wall requires the enemy cohort commander making the assault to hit more than 7 successes to do anything. The only way they can possibly achieve this is with multiple stacked assistances.

At the same time... the ability to stack up a 6-7 dice roll does feel excessive. Since there is a distinction between rolled dice and kept dice, getting (effectively) unlimited rolled dice but still being limited to one extra kept dice doesn't sound unreasonable.

That also, incidentally, makes the Ashigaru much more dangerous in numbers:

Quote

Abilities: Rank Tactics (When an ashigaru provides assistance (see page 15) to the Martial skill check of another character at range 0–2, that character adds one kept die showing a [success] result instead of rolling an additional die.)

At the moment, the Ashigaru hands an extra skill dice which can be kept in addition to any other dice; yes it could come up blank but it could also come up explosive success; meaning all you're really doing seems to be reducing the amount of dice you need to roll (not inherently a bad thing but hardly the stuff of a special ability meant to represent a disciplined force of infantry).

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I think there are probably several "right" ways to account for assistance in this game; seems like a good/easy spot for the designers to offer players a dial they can adjust depending on the game they want.

As many have noted, adding a rolled and kept die is very powerful. This could be the default option, as it's easy to remember.

Another "setting on the dial" could be that an assisting character can add a rolled OR kept die, player choice.

Edited by sidescroller

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I'd say leave the mechanism as is personally, but offer TN penalties for 5 PCs trying to do anything subtle as a single mob.  That is exactly the opposite of subtle.

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5 hours ago, GaGrin said:

I'd say leave the mechanism as is personally, but offer TN penalties for 5 PCs trying to do anything subtle as a single mob.  That is exactly the opposite of subtle.

The rules (as they currently stand) let you assist by offering moral support. A PC can hang back, give a subtle nod of support and that counts as an assist.

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32 minutes ago, jmoschner said:

The rules (as they currently stand) let you assist by offering moral support.

You're correct, I'm just saying I think the limit (if there is to be one in a particular context) should be based on the narrative limit of how effective your assistance is.  This is easy to houserule, but it could be an explict part of the game.  The assist rule itself isn't broken fundamentally IMO, they just need to acknowledge it's limitations in some form, even if that's as simple as needing the GM to okay your assist in the narrative.

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8 hours ago, GaGrin said:

You're correct, I'm just saying I think the limit (if there is to be one in a particular context) should be based on the narrative limit of how effective your assistance is.  This is easy to houserule, but it could be an explict part of the game.  The assist rule itself isn't broken fundamentally IMO, they just need to acknowledge it's limitations in some form, even if that's as simple as needing the GM to okay your assist in the narrative.

Sounds like a good case for using Focus as something other than initiative, to me. say, Lowest Focus = max help dice

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On 11/3/2017 at 4:48 PM, GaGrin said:

You're correct, I'm just saying I think the limit (if there is to be one in a particular context) should be based on the narrative limit of how effective your assistance is.  This is easy to houserule, but it could be an explict part of the game.  The assist rule itself isn't broken fundamentally IMO, they just need to acknowledge it's limitations in some form, even if that's as simple as needing the GM to okay your assist in the narrative.

Exactly. 

If you say "my character is assisting X", It's not unreasonable for a GM to ask "by doing what?"...

On 11/4/2017 at 1:43 AM, AK_Aramis said:

Sounds like a good case for using Focus as something other than initiative, to me. say, Lowest Focus = max help dice

  • A good thought.
  • If that's going to be a global rule, I might suggest that it'll mess with Minion Squads, though
    • The minions who need the most weight-of-numbers to achieve anything, like the Focus 2 Zombie Peasant, are precisely the ones robbed of support by this rule now unable to concentrate sufficient dice in a single throw.
  • If I might suggest a middle ground - maybe you can have any number of bonus rolled dice, but your focus is the maximum number of bonus kept dice? 
    • That way a squad of 6 ashigaru, or zombies, or goblins, actually gets a benefit for its numbers, but gets decreasing benefits after the second or third guy. 

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