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[Focus Topic] Skills, Advantages, and Disadvantages (Week 5)

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58 minutes ago, Grodark said:

so your totally for void point farming then farming then.

people will seek to do stuff  simply to fail where they will gain  VP as quickly as they can till the VP= their void ring.

It should be pointed out that unless a roll is significant there should not be a roll by the rules as written.

Trying to use insignificant rolls to farm VP with disadvantages should not be happening.

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1 hour ago, Grodark said:

so your totally for void point farming then farming then.

people will seek to do stuff  simply to fail where they will gain  VP as quickly as they can till the VP= their void ring.

now as for them other games you mentioned the disadvantages themselves  give a challenge for them to over come and when they over come them  they get a  reward they do not get a reward for failing to over come there disadvantages 

not exactly sure hat 2d20 is never seen a system like that but if your refereeing to the D20 system there is no extra dice reward for success and fumbles do not  exist in the game as written that's something people put into the game cause they hate people failing so much.

You admit not knowing the reference then assume I've misreferenced? Good god, man, are you totally daft? Modiphius' house engine, since you're obviously too lazy to do even a cursory google search... used for Star Trek Adventures, Conan, and John Carter of Mars.

 

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31 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

You admit not knowing the reference then assume I've misreferenced? Good god, man, are you totally daft? Modiphius' house engine, since you're obviously too lazy to do even a cursory google search... used for Star Trek Adventures, Conan, and John Carter of Mars.

To be fair Modiphius Entertainment is not all that well know among people that are not into those IPs.

And unlike your next paragraph you did not bring-up any games attached to that system. So it would be easy to mistake a 2D20 for meaning D20. 

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56 minutes ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

It should be pointed out that unless a roll is significant there should not be a roll by the rules as written.

Trying to use insignificant rolls to farm VP with disadvantages should not be happening.

There are situations where it makes absulutely sense both narratively to have such rolls and there is no good reason for the GM to prevent it. The very first scene in Ronin's Path where you have to check the blood splatter, the door damage, etc... It makes sense for all players to make the rolls, but for the purpose of the group only one of the players have to suceed. I also see no good reason for instance to stop the player from performing a Tea Ceremony on their off time that they fail.

 

Saying that it should not be happening ignores both player psychology, and the fact that even playing as intended is trivially easy to get situation where those rolls might be perfectly justified.

 

Either way my dislike of failure as a way to recover Void points is more thematic than mechanical, altough vp farming is a completely natural reaction to the rules as they currently stand, and another thing that I dislike.

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Modiphius Entertainment 2D20

It also funny that this system seems to be a scaled down version of the reflex system from 93 Games Studio used in Twilight 2013 published in 2008.

Edited by tenchi2a

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•Are there any activities you have wanted to pursue during a session that are not clearly covered by one or more skills?

Not so far no. Some activities are concealed within skills that were unexpected but made sense once we'd re-read the descriptions. Performance, for example, being used for both singing, acting, playing a musical instrument, and disguise, mimicry and other ''ninja-type' skills. Nothing has been beyond the current skill list, but finding the correct skill, or worse, finding the character does not possess the correct skill due to a misinterpretation of the skill has been a source of some wasted time.

In reference to this, a number of people have noted that there are no dedicated investigation or observation type skills. I don't think the system actually needs them, but in order for this to work a certain number things must be made plain to both GM and PC's

1. It should be obvious to the GM that the PC's are entering an investigation type scene.

2. The GM should make sure that all 'clues' are included in the description of the scene, removing the need for a 'spot-hidden' roll.

3. The PC's use appropriate skills to get context from the clues. Medicine to analyze blood spatter, Survival to determine what made the strange tracks outside the window, Composition to examine a ransom note and learn about it's author, or the materials used in its creation, etc.

The main thing here is nothing requires 'finding' and a failed roll does not mean the PC's miss out on vital information. This is considerably different from other systems (except GUMSHOE) so I think it's more a case of educating players to a different kind of investigation scene rather than making new skills.

•Are there any skills that have confused you in their implementation?

Again, not really. Actually using the skills is pretty straight forward, but finding the correct skill has been a pain sometimes. Not often enough that I think it really needs changing but perhaps a better worded description of the skill in the summaries so less trawling through the write-ups to find out how to ride a horse.

•Does your group generally apply advantages and disadvantages narratively, or only to the specific listed checks and rings?

About 50/50. Our group is definitely in the story over crunch grouping, but the mechanics are pretty simple so they crop up more often than I thought they would.

I don't see anything wrong with the unified approach currently being used (All distinctions allow re-rolls, All Anxieties generate strife etc.) but I think some of them could do with a more thorough description. For example, my players have little to no experience of Rokugan and had a lot of questions about the Shadowlands taint. I went back to my 4th Ed rulebooks to answer them as it's really not covered in the Beta. That's fine, this is just a Beta and a lot of fluff has been removed to make room for rules, but, given that Unmasking and certain scheme actions can specifically reveal a characters disadvantages it's probably worth going back to look at the fall out of some things coming to light, both from a mechanical and narrative stand point.

•Are there any advantages or disadvantages from prior iterations of the game you would want to see return?

Not really. I'm happy for new content rather than a re-hash of existing rules. Maybe clan and family specific ones in the future, like Yogo Curse and such, but I don't think they're needed in the core rules or the Beta.

•Are there any advantages or disadvantages you have had trouble using at the table?

Not so far. The mechanics are pretty easy to use so cause little disruption, however none of us is quite sure why void points are tied to disadvantages so perhaps a written reasoning is needed.

 

On the whole things are going well so far and we're enjoying it. The main criticisms from my players has been a lack of detail or poorly thought out layout, things easily fixed for a finished product. Right now it feels like the writers know exactly what they want from the game, but are having difficulty getting that point across. I can see the reason, page space is better served with rules for testing than explanations about the design process, but for newbies it can feel quite disorienting.

Cheers,

:)

 

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57 minutes ago, Suzume Chikahisa said:

There are situations where it makes absulutely sense both narratively to have such rolls and there is no good reason for the GM to prevent it. The very first scene in Ronin's Path where you have to check the blood splatter, the door damage, etc... It makes sense for all players to make the rolls, but for the purpose of the group only one of the players have to suceed.

The Ronin's Path is notably flawed (the first scene forced investigation being a major part of that). No penalty for failure save stalling the scene is very poor design.

57 minutes ago, Suzume Chikahisa said:

I also see no good reason for instance to stop the player from performing a Tea Ceremony on their off time that they fail.

 I see no good reason for that roll to occur unless they would be gaining benefit from the Tea Ceremony's success.

There is a difference between attempting a TN 3 Aesthetics (Void) Tea Ceremony Ritual (which will grant every participant a VP if successful) that you trigger a Perfectionist disadvantage (to force 2 success/explosion rerolls gaining a VP if you fail) as a Downtime action and trying to farm a VP off failing a Tea Ceremony by being a Perfectionist when there was no benefit for success nor penalty for failure.

Edited by Ultimatecalibur

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Keep in mind also: At the point you decide to invoke a disadvantage, you already know both the TN and your roll (and reroll for Distinction), so you already know if you're failing.

I had a player invoke a disad, where he rolled 2 successes (no explosives) on a TN3, and was clearly failing. He failed to get a void point, tho', as his reroll was 2 explosive + strife, and they popped to another succes + strife.

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On 07/11/2017 at 9:19 PM, AK_Aramis said:

Success is its own reward. It doesn't need more.

Success also doesn't need to be a penalty. Which, in the current system, it often is because of  how much Strife it forces upon the character.

Also, I don't see why tying the Void Point gain because of a Disadvantage to a necessary failure in the roll. Why not tying it to the invoking of the Disadvantage itself, regardless of the result of the roll? It makes no narrative sense. Making it a result of a success would be better than it currently is, even. Actually, all forms of gaining Void Points currently are terrible, in my opinion.

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1 hour ago, Mirumoto Saito said:

Success also doesn't need to be a penalty. Which, in the current system, it often is because of  how much Strife it forces upon the character.

Also, I don't see why tying the Void Point gain because of a Disadvantage to a necessary failure in the roll. Why not tying it to the invoking of the Disadvantage itself, regardless of the result of the roll? It makes no narrative sense. Making it a result of a success would be better than it currently is, even. Actually, all forms of gaining Void Points currently are terrible, in my opinion.

If you grant void on success instead of failure - success snowballs into more success. High-rings characters will always have max and will never need to spend it for success only for death avoidance and technique triggers, but, since he can recover it reliably, he will spend one on almost every roll he thinks the GM will let him invoke upon, and effectively raises his ring by 1 much of the time. Meanwhile, low rings characters or characters forced outside their competence will seldom get void, and will fail often, and die easily. It's anticlimactic.

If you grant void on both, you only solve half that issue. The high ring character still has the ability to dump a void on most rolls, let the GM nerf it, and still succeed, and so replaces the void and effectively simply adds 1 to the ring most of the time; the typical GM will retailiate with raised TNs. The low-rings character still can't afford the nerf, and further, thanks to the high ring, has higher TN's to face.

And, to be blunt: If you're having multiple undesired unmasks in a  session, you are doing it wrong. Make certain your passion is in line with your Giri, and invoke it often. Raise your water. (Still waters run deep, shallow waters are turgid.) Pick a less related anxiety. pick a Giri and Ninjō that aren't in constant conflict, but merely once or twice a session conflict. 

 

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On 11/3/2017 at 8:59 PM, tokugawa77 said:

I like the idea of using the lowest skill between horsemanship and the relevant martial arts skill for mounted combat. Mounted combat is a whole different ballgame compared to regular fighting and it's not just "I am fighting with my weapon like normal, but I'm only sitting on top of something." You are very limited in the angle and type of attacks you can do because you do not want to hit the horse in the head/neck or anywhere else. There is a heck of a lot of other difficulties with it, but I will spare people the details unless they want to hear it. 

Also, the good thing about that is you could still use your pure horsemanship skill for things like controlling your horse/staying on it etc. And it can work for other skill use cases that might involve multiple etc. Nice.

Iaijutsu on horseback would be incredibly difficult. The only way I can think of it working is if you angled the saya vertically and drew the katana upwards and then slashed downward to your right side so that you don't hit the horse. And even then I'm not sure you could angle the saya vertically because the horse is wider than you are so the saya would bump into it before it could go completely vertical. Maybe if you were already holding the saya in the left hand you could have a lot more freedom on how you draw without hitting the horse, but then your hand needs to be off the reins. Still, I love the unconventional skill use cases and I'm sure a case where it would work out well would appear somewhere.

Iaijutsu does not work with horsemenship. It is to draw and cut. Kenjitsu is what.you would. I feel they seriously screwed up the skill list.

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13 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

Iaijutsu does not work with horsemenship. It is to draw and cut. Kenjitsu is what.you would. I feel they seriously screwed up the skill list.

Technically correct, but only because Iaijutsu is an art with very narrow and specific forms which include prescribed footwork.

Iaidō (the broader, practical "way of the draw", vs the stylized Iajutsu) is doable physically while mounted... barely, Iaidō focuses on the fast draw vs the duel. But the two are not divorced enough from each other to justify two separate skills. Iaijutsu is a subset of Iaidō. It would only be the arcing-upward strike (the horizontal won't clear the horse)... 

 

 

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On 02/11/2017 at 4:28 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

Greetings L5R Testers!

Hello,

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This week, our discussion topic is Skills, Advantages, and Disadvantages. Here are a couple of questions to get you started:

Sorry I'm late. Was busy.

 

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•Are there any activities you have wanted to pursue during a session that are not clearly covered by one or more skills?

Not really. The new system being so broad, it's hard not to find a skill to use.

 However, a lot of my players have been complaning about the general lack of customization. Especially the more bushi orientated ones. They gained a lot of freedom via the redced skill list but lost the quirks they used to love in their characters.  Some of them, even thoug they were bushi, used to fear duels and had to invent other approaches in order to reach their goals. Now they just don't pay this much attention and rush the more social parts of the scenarios. 

 

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•Are there any skills that have confused you in their implementation?

I just find the reduced skillset to be kind of boring. 

 

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•Does your group generally apply advantages and disadvantages narratively, or only to the specific listed checks and rings?

We would try both but here again, complaints. 

The rulings are ok, it's just that whichever advantage/disadvantage you are playing with it's basically the same deal : "X applies - Reroll two dice". I play RPG to play a character not dices. Playing a game of dice is not exciting, it's just teddious and makes you feel like you're just playing some boardgame. This new edition starts to feel way to much like a dice game and not an rpg. Some of the players are even comparing the mechanics to x wing... I would not call that a good sign.

I don't mind the custom dice and, as far as I'm concerned, I was even ready to see the game system abandon Roll and keep altogether when FFG bought the franchise. But I positively hate having the dice do all the work and pretty much start playing the characters for my players. 

 

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•Are there any advantages or disadvantages from prior iterations of the game you would want to see return?

Prodigy, Ishiken-do and a LOT of others (all curses, blessings, ancestral weapons, favors, influences from the spirit realms, epileptic, Shourido, ...)

Also the system needs to implement the points used in V4 or somthing similar, with the costs changing from one clan to another. this allowed players to clearly identify clans. Crabs : large, good with weapons, etc,...  Phoenix : softhearted and having an affinity with the void,... 

Shadowlands taint also needs a full revamp. The current version does not reflect the evolutive side of this illness. V4 version would have the player see his character slowly falling to the dark world and madness and with an acceleration as the thing evolves. Here it's just "you got tainted and are now cursed - reroll 2 dice for a ring".

 

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•Are there any advantages or disadvantages you have had trouble using at the table?

 

Being the GM, I have a lot of trouble to find something worth the interst to build around the system and the disadvantages in order to have the game become dynamic and keep the payers on their guards.

*Massive rant incoming.*

Sworn Enemy now feels horrible and needs a complete revamp. This version of the disadvantage doesn't let me build any relashionship between the PC an his enemy. The relationship is now a simple rule : you hate him and need to reroll dice. Geez. 

In V4 I would make a specific character to oppose to my player's PC and match his personnal background. The relationship didn't need to be about the PC hating the character, just about someone wishing the PC's demise. Hate isn't necessary. Here is an example : 

- A phoenix bushi was a popular hero (heimin recognizing him more easily than samurai) and the player had conceived him as an excellent swordsman, but had a sworn enemy. The enemy was a Kakita duelist (female), who had heard of him through folktales. However the heimin, being what they are, had perverted the tale, implying  the PC was an excellent duelist. All his enemy wanted to do was simply challenge him. The PC being incredibad at Iaijutsu, the group would have to keep making up excuses for the PC to avoid a practice duel.  The risk was that if he couldn't avoid the duel, then his enemy would realize quickly that he was a complete fraud. And the funny bits were that the duelist was a real rumormonger, always gossiping.  So the PC had to find ways to avoid shaming himself in a duel (that was a very long running gag) knowing all to well that the NPC would end up telling everyone. Rulewise, I comboed disadvantages in order to create the PC's potential demise. In the system you are proposing in this new edition, this sort of interraction is possible but way less fun. 

Also this system also does not encourage creativity and smart playing. One of my players had an ishiken do pratician (his first character), being able to see PCs and NPCs advantages and disadvantages through spells. So when I needed to hide an info from the players, I would often have to find ways to hide the more compromising disadvantages for certain characters. The spell relied on the cost of the advantages and disadvantages so in the end I could make the pc blind or be cursed by onnotangu in order to prevent players from knowing to easily that he was actually tainted. This actually led me to create very good NPCs with a personnal backstory often very detailled. My players often ended up liking the villains and antagonists just due to the simple fact that things worked into each other and always ended up surprising them.

 

Some of the disadvantages feel just plain underwhellming and I strive to find them a reason to exist.

Shadowlands Taint (Fire) is a pretty good example. A character with this will have to reroll dice when trying to realize the negative outcomes of their actions. 

Two possible situations : 

1- The player is fairly experienced in RPGames and will automatically RP his character as such without rolling dice. This disadvantage has no reason to have rules associated in that case. The character should be merely written as brash.

2- The player is inexperienced or tends to metagame his character and will ignore his disadvantage. I then have to ask him to roll dice in order to see if he will realize the consequences of his actions. At this stage I will have complaints  from the said player that he cannot control his character the way he wants it. 

This led me to asking myself why should a player roll to see if his PC can realize the consequences ofthers actions. It feels dumb. If a player asks me what are the consequences to his actions I will not give them to him. I might help him think but no more. Either he is smart enough to understand by himself. Or he isn't, in which case having him roll dice is stupid because it pretty much won't solve the problem.

There shouldn't be any dice thrown for intellectual feats other than keeping your cool (otherwise everyone is heroic) and knowing stuff (just to even the game between experienced players and newcomers).

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On 11/15/2017 at 0:12 AM, Dreamecho said:

Shadowlands taint also needs a full revamp. The current version does not reflect the evolutive side of this illness. V4 version would have the player see his character slowly falling to the dark world and madness and with an acceleration as the thing evolves. Here it's just "you got tainted and are now cursed - reroll 2 dice for a ring".

There is a degree of 'progressive infection' but only by using Maho - which it's highly unlikely a PC will be doing....

On 11/15/2017 at 0:12 AM, Dreamecho said:

Sworn Enemy now feels horrible and needs a complete revamp. This version of the disadvantage doesn't let me build any relashionship between the PC an his enemy. The relationship is now a simple rule : you hate him and need to reroll dice. Geez. 

In V4 I would make a specific character to oppose to my player's PC and match his personnal background. The relationship didn't need to be about the PC hating the character, just about someone wishing the PC's demise. Hate isn't necessary. Here is an example : 

- A phoenix bushi was a popular hero (heimin recognizing him more easily than samurai) and the player had conceived him as an excellent swordsman, but had a sworn enemy. The enemy was a Kakita duelist (female), who had heard of him through folktales. However the heimin, being what they are, had perverted the tale, implying  the PC was an excellent duelist. All his enemy wanted to do was simply challenge him. The PC being incredibad at Iaijutsu, the group would have to keep making up excuses for the PC to avoid a practice duel.  The risk was that if he couldn't avoid the duel, then his enemy would realize quickly that he was a complete fraud. And the funny bits were that the duelist was a real rumormonger, always gossiping.  So the PC had to find ways to avoid shaming himself in a duel (that was a very long running gag) knowing all to well that the NPC would end up telling everyone. Rulewise, I comboed disadvantages in order to create the PC's potential demise. In the system you are proposing in this new edition, this sort of interraction is possible but way less fun. 

This is well written and well played. I don't think Sworn Enemy doesn't let you do this, but I agree it doesn't give you any guidance or support for doing it either; any Sworn Enemy/Scorn Of/Blackmailed By type trait is obviously dependent on the GM actually allowing said individual or group to influence the campaign  (whether by being physically present or not).

Creating NPCs, and definitely creating 'personal nemeses' is an important part of campaign setup, so I'd hope there'd be more of that in a GM's guide. Regardless, however, the Sworn Enemy (actually probably 'Rival' in this case) Adversity's mechanical effect will be rerolling dice when dealing with the effects of her meddling (or, I suspect, more acurately to reflect the effects of her meddling - so trying to get an audience with [important character] is difficult enough to require a check, but it's harder still and needs a reroll of successes for this guy because you've got to catch your intended audience without getting intercepted in the court by the duellist and put into an awkward situation).

On 11/15/2017 at 0:12 AM, Dreamecho said:

ome of the disadvantages feel just plain underwhellming and I strive to find them a reason to exist.

Shadowlands Taint (Fire) is a pretty good example. A character with this will have to reroll dice when trying to realize the negative outcomes of their actions. 

Two possible situations : 

1- The player is fairly experienced in RPGames and will automatically RP his character as such without rolling dice. This disadvantage has no reason to have rules associated in that case. The character should be merely written as brash.

2- The player is inexperienced or tends to metagame his character and will ignore his disadvantage. I then have to ask him to roll dice in order to see if he will realize the consequences of his actions. At this stage I will have complaints  from the said player that he cannot control his character the way he wants it. 

This led me to asking myself why should a player roll to see if his PC can realize the consequences ofthers actions. It feels dumb. If a player asks me what are the consequences to his actions I will not give them to him. I might help him think but no more. Either he is smart enough to understand by himself. Or he isn't, in which case having him roll dice is stupid because it pretty much won't solve the problem

I think the 'narrative text' and the 'mechanical trigger' on quite a few advantages and disadvantages don't quite line up (see the original version of Painful Honest), and it boils down to the GM (with the player's suggestions) as to when it should or should not affect matters.

Ultimately, that's why I like the fact that mechanically, all Advantages are the same - it means that if I want a custom Passion (let's say a Crab-esque "fervent and arguably deeply inappropriate love of brutal and inelegant heavy weapons") then I already know what it does mechanically to be balanced, I just need as the GM to arbitrate whether it will trigger often enough, or too often, to balance against the Passions the other players have. 

The text for the Fire Taint is largely talking about "cannot resist shiny things" [where said shiny things are defined as forbidden lore and dark secrets].  I'd probably be using it more along the lines of making a PC make a check to resist taking [potent but cursed weapon] that they encounter on their quest. I agree that 'can't see the consequences coming' seems like poor wording.

For example

It's a naginata whose haft is about solid obsidian, it just went through a shadowlands troll like a Shoji door, it's steaming slightly and you can hear voices whispering Fu Leng's name over and over again emanating from the blade.

Not figuring out that taking such an item will probably have bad consequences down the line requires a player - and their character - to be a moron on an epic scale. 

Resisting claiming-such-a-powerful-weapon-and-hang-the-consequences-"I-can-handle-it" being an increasing challenge sound more like the intent of Shadowlands Taint (Fire), but that's not what the mechanical bit describes.

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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On 16/11/2017 at 9:50 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

There is a degree of 'progressive infection' but only by using Maho - which it's highly unlikely a PC will be doing....

Hence the problem in this rule setting. Shadowlands taint's slow corrupting effect should be transcribed better, and just as much as the temptation of the power it gives to the character. As it is in the current case it aint that much of a deal.

The taint should pretty much have its own mechanics.

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This is well written and well played. I don't think Sworn Enemy doesn't let you do this, but I agree it doesn't give you any guidance or support for doing it either; any Sworn Enemy/Scorn Of/Blackmailed By type trait is obviously dependent on the GM actually allowing said individual or group to influence the campaign  (whether by being physically present or not).

Creating NPCs, and definitely creating 'personal nemeses' is an important part of campaign setup, so I'd hope there'd be more of that in a GM's guide. Regardless, however, the Sworn Enemy (actually probably 'Rival' in this case) Adversity's mechanical effect will be rerolling dice when dealing with the effects of her meddling (or, I suspect, more acurately to reflect the effects of her meddling - so trying to get an audience with [important character] is difficult enough to require a check, but it's harder still and needs a reroll of successes for this guy because you've got to catch your intended audience without getting intercepted in the court by the duellist and put into an awkward situation).

 

Thank you.

It does neither in the current state and I agree that I could pretty much do my homebrew in order to have the effects I want but that is not exactly what my point was. What I tried to underline is that some (a lot) of the advantages should not be translated into dice but into fluf. 

I used to dig on advantages and disadvantages in order to create new scenes and playing the same scenario with two different groups landed me different results due to the facts that I would often have to create some new scenes and situations (unplanned) in order to have things play out. And I wouldn't be the only one creating scenes altogether - my players would often create it themselves and all I'd have to do was ask thme to roll their skills if needed and add up some consequences. Scenarios could go in really interesting ways instead of ending up as solved by rolling dice.  I called that smart playing because it would encourage players to end up finding ways to manage and go around their disadvantages rather than just try to bruteforce encounters (social and combat). 

Hence why in this system, I am in the situation where I need to pick one :

1 : play disadvantages and advantages narativelly - the rules are useless (meaning they are bad - then why do I need the rules and this game altogether?)

2 : Play advantages and disadvantages with the rules - In that situation the fact that everything is solved the same just pushes the players to bruteforce encounters. Smart play pretty much dies here.  What's more is that it even breaks the flow of the game to have to reroll the dice making the whole system feel clanky and crude. Assemble dice pool - roll - rerolls (in both directions) - manage strife - resolve. I like the strife system (though it needs severe tuning) but this is becoming to much. V1 to V4 was pretty much assemble pool - roll - resolve. 

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I think the 'narrative text' and the 'mechanical trigger' on quite a few advantages and disadvantages don't quite line up (see the original version of Painful Honest), and it boils down to the GM (with the player's suggestions) as to when it should or should not affect matters.

I agree but then it means that there is a certain lazyness from the devs. The rules are meant to be a support to the story, not something to argue about.  The problem is that in a lot of these cases (such as the ones we are discussing about) the problem comes from the fact that all disadvantages apply the same way rulewise. Hence trouble in translating things into words. The system as it is now lacks flexibility and creates these problems. 

On a side note : as this iteration of the game goes, you have the skillset which is now flexible and the rules which are not. 

This is both good and bad as if your player know the rules they can help the GM but also hinder his ability to create. Problem being : I play RPG in a local collective where pretty  much every one is a GM but on certain games (I'd say 4/5 games apiece)  so we don't really have time to learn new rules. Meaning I will be the only one knowing the system so I will get the flexibility back (houseruling ftw) but lose the support and need to drive the players through their characters and the approach system... This is really hard on me gamewise. I need relaxation, not more work.

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Ultimately, that's why I like the fact that mechanically, all Advantages are the same - it means that if I want a custom Passion (let's say a Crab-esque "fervent and arguably deeply inappropriate love of brutal and inelegant heavy weapons") then I already know what it does mechanically to be balanced, I just need as the GM to arbitrate whether it will trigger often enough, or too often, to balance against the Passions the other players have. 

I agree that this makes creating custom advantages easy but on the other hand it also reflects a certain lazyness from the gamedevs. I am one of the rare ones in my group to know the lore enough to create disadvantages on the fly or to  orient players. So I wil have to prepare them pre character creation and add a list of extras to offer the players during the character creation. But as it is I can't just give the rulebook ready to run and tell them to create their character while I'm preparing the next scenario or playing a game of X wing/L5R CG and answering questions as they come. 

I personnaly don't have that much free time so I need to have something ready to roll and needing only minor tweaks when I buy it. Sorry to bring that out here, but it IS a major point in buying a game for me.

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The text for the Fire Taint is largely talking about "cannot resist shiny things" [where said shiny things are defined as forbidden lore and dark secrets].  I'd probably be using it more along the lines of making a PC make a check to resist taking [potent but cursed weapon] that they encounter on their quest. I agree that 'can't see the consequences coming' seems like poor wording.

For example

It's a naginata whose haft is about solid obsidian, it just went through a shadowlands troll like a Shoji door, it's steaming slightly and you can hear voices whispering Fu Leng's name over and over again emanating from the blade.

Not figuring out that taking such an item will probably have bad consequences down the line requires a player - and their character - to be a moron on an epic scale. 

Resisting claiming-such-a-powerful-weapon-and-hang-the-consequences-"I-can-handle-it" being an increasing challenge sound more like the intent of Shadowlands Taint (Fire), but that's not what the mechanical bit describes.

 

On a side note, Fire taint was just for an example. My point being that these types of disadvatages/advantages that are relative to the choices that the characters should make storywise (such as the example you've given which is a pretty good one) should (IMO) NEVER be solved by dice not even for an option. Either the character is writtenasa complete moron, or you create a situation in which he will ponder the idea to use the weapon and wonder if he can actually control it, but due to the amount of consequences this implies, it is better to have the player decide what he will do :

- wield the naginata to defeat some major threat and risk becoming corrupted (or maybe hunted down by imperial forces). Maybe you could even do it willingly thinking that as a samurai it is your duty to sacrifice yourself for the good of the empire. Even if it means becoming tainted and turning against your friends in the end.

- leave the naginata behind and try to overcome the hardship in the most difficult way (calling in favors in order to have military support, risk losing face if you fail, perhaps even losing life altogether (via seppuku or death in combat)).

Moments that create the drama should not be left to the dice to determine the outcome. As said it is a roleplaying game. The players act as the character and should be made to experience difficult choices not just randomizing the outcome. Hence why I deeply dislike the mechanics around those kinds of disadvantages. 

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