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Beta Rules Update v2.0 and Preview Material

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I like many of these changes, but I still strongly believe that Question 5 should be about the character's relationship to their Clan, with the option of including information about their lord, rather than explicitly about their relationship with their lord.

I understand that the samurai-lord relationship is core to L5R, but it's also not intuitive to new players/GMs and not conducive to games that prefer to evolve this information as they move forward (rather than front-loading a lot of backstory).

The concern is ultimately about accessibility, and Question 5 was and remains a big accessibility stumbling block to roughly half of my 25 players, many of whom are long-term L5R veterans.

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I agree. If FFG wants to keep it Lord-centric then maybe some examples could be used, otherwise it's probably best to change it to the characters relationship to the Clan.

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15 minutes ago, Rivina said:

I agree. If FFG wants to keep it Lord-centric then maybe some examples could be used, otherwise it's probably best to change it to the characters relationship to the Clan.

Remember we've got a beta book with no fluff. There could be several pages devoted to it in the finished product.

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1 hour ago, Doji Meshou said:

I like many of these changes, but I still strongly believe that Question 5 should be about the character's relationship to their Clan, with the option of including information about their lord, rather than explicitly about their relationship with their lord.

I understand that the samurai-lord relationship is core to L5R, but it's also not intuitive to new players/GMs and not conducive to games that prefer to evolve this information as they move forward (rather than front-loading a lot of backstory).

The concern is ultimately about accessibility, and Question 5 was and remains a big accessibility stumbling block to roughly half of my 25 players, many of whom are long-term L5R veterans.

I think it might be the opposite.  People familiar with L5R are likely creating themselves and imagine they answer directly to their daimyo or clan, where someone unfamiliar may take the hint to start a little lower down the totem pole first.

idk - it is a bit of a stumbling block to go through.  I think they should provide more examples - like listing some positions you might serve under such as a Shugenja / Priest of a temple Shrine, a teacher at a Dojo, an emissary to x clan, justice of a city, or a general of an army.  Giving some good starting points might help players and GM's through this question easier.

I think its a good question because it helps bring the character down to earth - that said, I typically prefer characters who are more down to earth.

 

I like the update, but I wonder if the choice of element for Family is wrong...  If I understand this correctly the point of giving the choice is to help players better align their character to their expected play-style.  Yet it is not just customary, but logical that the clan, family, and school should give some specific trait to them as the culture instructs their perceptions growing up.  A Hida is going to be brought up to be more direct (earth) where a Yasuki would be brought up more flexible (water).

I think I would rather see the Clan / Family / School each give 1 fixed ring rank, with an added free-placed ring at another point.  If a second question tagged in a free choice ring improvement then any character could start with any 1 ring at rank 3 no matter what their clan / family / school gave them, and they could also ensure they start with 2x rank 3 rings if they felt this was best without sacrificing their thematic clan / family / school choice.

Edited by Soshi Nimue

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12 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

telling people various skills to use for noticing things does not change the lack of general noticing things skill. there needs to be a general  awareness skill. just because you are not skilled in commerce does not mean you are going to fail to notice the blood trail.

I like their approach, but it is a big change from what you might expect before.  Maybe this can help shift your perception some

As the GM you know there is a blood trail in the room.  The room is occupied with several people talking, completely oblivious.  The setting is a brothel.  The PC doesn't know what has happened, but they are an investigator and they suspect some foul play is afoot, but everyone is acting normal.

For the approach you could use Skulduggery - you are dealing with some nefarious activities, and spotting the telltale signs of criminal activity (hiding a body, or fleeing the scene of a fight) can easily fall under this category.  You could use Labor - if it was a body that was drug around, you could see signs of work.  Maybe there is a carpet laid down that isn't quite square, or a painting that is cooked that can draw your eyes to a blood trail.  Design - this can also work as knowing how things should look would let you spot what doesn't look right.  Being able to see the colors that don't belong in a colorful room can be tough, a keen observer (skilled in design) should quickly be able to pick up a red trail on the ground that isn't part of the paint job.

Or you simply narrate them picking up on the blood trail - tatami mats or hardwood floors aren't going to hide blood very well, but it depends on how much someone is bleeding.  Make the chase involve their investigation instead, letting them pick up on other clues such as culture - who are they chasing, tactics - is this person attempting to evade them, or simply hide, and back to skulduggery - is this person a criminal or victim?

Edited by Soshi Nimue

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What Nimue said.. ^

+ I actually always found that having a blanket skill to be “good at noticing things” was weird. At most this is the domain of innate abilities (like the Perception TRAIT, not skill, in previous editions of L5R).

It does require some preparation from the GM part. For each investigation scene, the GM ought to prepare a set of 3 or 4 useful skills that relate to findable clues and may offer the choice to players if they don’t know clearly what they want to look for. If there is a blood trail to be found, just suggest PCs to try and roll Medicine or Survival if they want. Here, the vagueness / broadness of scope of existing Skills actually helps in that giving this information does not really give away what there is to find.

Now I will admit that there is an element of acquired skill in some forms of investigations, namely when using a predefined method to comb a scene, CSI style. For this, I would just use Government (likely with Earth) as I see this as encompassing things like methodically classifying and checking stuff and Lore: law, etc. 

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1 hour ago, Soshi Nimue said:

I like their approach, but it is a big change from what you might expect before.  Maybe this can help shift your perception some

As the GM you know there is a blood trail in the room.  The room is occupied with several people talking, completely oblivious.  The setting is a brothel.  The PC doesn't know what has happened, but they are an investigator and they suspect some foul play is afoot, but everyone is acting normal.

For the approach you could use Skulduggery - you are dealing with some nefarious activities, and spotting the telltale signs of criminal activity (hiding a body, or fleeing the scene of a fight) can easily fall under this category.  You could use Labor - if it was a body that was drug around, you could see signs of work.  Maybe there is a carpet laid down that isn't quite square, or a painting that is cooked that can draw your eyes to a blood trail.  Design - this can also work as knowing how things should look would let you spot what doesn't look right.  Being able to see the colors that don't belong in a colorful room can be tough, a keen observer (skilled in design) should quickly be able to pick up a red trail on the ground that isn't part of the paint job.

Or you simply narrate them picking up on the blood trail - tatami mats or hardwood floors aren't going to hide blood very well, but it depends on how much someone is bleeding.  Make the chase involve their investigation instead, letting them pick up on other clues such as culture - who are they chasing, tactics - is this person attempting to evade them, or simply hide, and back to skulduggery - is this person a criminal or victim?

Yeah no. Sorry. That fails to cover someones general awareness. One does not need to be a good criminal to notice a blood trail. You need to be aware of your surroundings. I dont mind the approaches method. It is interesting. But there are gaping holes in the skill list. Some skills are too specific. Others are too broad. 

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Requiring 20 different skills that make no sense for a character to have in order to be observant is dumb. 

An observant person will notice out of place things. I have friends like this. A person who has skulduggery might specifically notice thing out of place from that petspective but may not notice the mud on the persons boots has blood in it.  So while it is great to say those skills will give you certain clues. You still need a general i am good at noticing stuff skill.

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The person who's perceptive at a crime scene won't notice a flower is out of place in a floral arrangement, or the boom mic in a scene on a TV show, or that a raccoon out during the day is unusual etc. 

Their trait in the ring they use can be high, and they can succeed. It might also make a good advantage. But to disregard this notion out of turn seems silly. 

Sherlock Holmes knew about a wide breath of things on top of using an approach to notice said things.

You can argue it both ways if you don't disregard an idea just because it's not the way you're used to

Edited by llamaman88

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19 minutes ago, llamaman88 said:

Sherlock Holmes knew about a wide breath of things on top of using an approach to notice said things.

Wrong. Sherlock Holmes noticed everything, but used different skills to interpret it. I just reread 12 of his stories, and he has a few times noticed something was odd but only interpreted it pages later when it came into context. In all your examples, someone with a high perception will notice all of what you listed, but will not get the explanation from the GM as why he noticed it.

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27 minutes ago, llamaman88 said:

The person who's perceptive at a crime scene won't notice a flower is out of place in a floral arrangement, or the boom mic in a scene on a TV show, or that a raccoon out during the day is unusual etc. 

Their trait in the ring they use can be high, and they can succeed. It might also make a good advantage. But to disregard this notion out of turn seems silly. 

Sherlock Holmes knew about a wide breath of things on top of using an approach to notice said things.

You can argue it both ways if you don't disregard an idea just because it's not the way you're used to

My problem is Sherlock Holmes is observant. His breadth of knowledge gives him context. But with out the general skill in noticing and surveying his surroundings that knowledge would mean nothing. The method being used is bad and unintuitive. It is also backwards. You notice things. Your knowledge gives what you notice meaning. 

Using different rings with a notice or awareness would be interesting. Requiring 20 skills to just be observant is not.

Edited by Daeglan

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4 minutes ago, okuma said:

Wrong. Sherlock Holmes noticed everything, but used different skills to interpret it. I just reread 12 of his stories, and he has a few times noticed something was odd but only interpreted it pages later when it came into context. In all your examples, someone with a high perception will notice all of what you listed, but will not get the explanation from the GM as why he noticed it.

This.

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I'm not a big fan of 'Notice' type skills to be honest. Coming from a Call of Cthulhu and GUMSHOE background I've found they tend to overshadow players asking questions and actually, y'know, investigating. Early CoC adventures in particular we're notorious for getting derailed if the PC's failed to notice the important clue because of a failed roll.

To go back to the Sherlock Holmes example, or any literary detective for that matter, noticing the clue isn't the important part, interpreting it is. Hercule Poirot and Gil Grissom always find the clues but what they do with them is the interesting part.

When a crime scene, or investigation is laid out the 'clues' should be made apparent in the description. There's blood spatter on the door frame, the contents of the table have spilled onto the floor and under the bed, there are some odd looking scuff marks on the window frame, etc, etc. The Players then use their skills to contextualise the evidence they have to provide further leads. They find the murder weapon under the bed (and let's face it, looking under a bed should not require a skill roll) and use any number of skills to gain more clues from it. Perhaps the Courtier remembers seeing this particular dagger in the obi of a Phoenix delegate earlier in the evening, the bushi theorizes that a weapon this small would require several blows, or the element of surprise in order to kill the victim, the shugenja recognizes the inscription on the dagger as the final haiku of a recently departed sensei from a nearby dojo, or whatever. All these are skill rolls, they provide further clues and leads for the PC's to follow. If they fail, the PC's still have the murder weapon, the core clue, and perhaps learn about it in different ways, asking NPC's about it, showing it to suspects in hopes of eliciting a reaction, etc.

 

The point is, investigation is not about finding clues, it's about using clues to lead you to a conclusion and that's where the skills and the skill rolls come in. I think it's important to remember that this storytelling, not real-life CSI.

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32 minutes ago, VictorTugglebend said:

Early CoC adventures in particular we're notorious for getting derailed if the PC's failed to notice the important clue because of a failed roll.

The adventure can likewise get derailed on a failed roll to analyse the clue.

That's the problem when the adventure relies on successful rolls to progress, not because of a Notice skill.

32 minutes ago, VictorTugglebend said:

They find the murder weapon under the bed (and let's face it, looking under a bed should not require a skill roll)

Well, in a Ronin's Path, finding the box requires spending Water opportunities on not related activities (examining the blood or the door).
Looking under the table won't reveal it.

Either the GM lays out every single clue upfront and the players decide how to approach each of those, or stuff is hidden and need to be searched first.
Here, we have a weird mix of both.

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3 minutes ago, Exarkfr said:

The adventure can likewise get derailed on a failed roll to analyse the clue.

That's the problem when the adventure relies on successful rolls to progress, not because of a Notice skill.

Well, in a Ronin's Path, finding the box requires spending Water opportunities on not related activities (examining the blood or the door).
Looking under the table won't reveal it.

Either the GM lays out every single clue upfront and the players decide how to approach each of those, or stuff is hidden and need to be searched first.
Here, we have a weird mix of both.

Yup, you're right on both counts there.

A good investigative scene should provide multiple paths to success so that a single roll doesn't impede progress, but that's a different subject :)

I'd argue that a Ronin's Path has faults in adventure design and its attempts to highlight the system rather than faults in the system itself. If one of my players specifically states they're looking in a place where a clue is 'hidden' I'd have them find it regardless of success on a skill roll.

 

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Wait, I'm sorry can you no longer make unskilled rolls and succeed at a check? Cuz then you're totally right, you'd need a million skills to notice anything.

Or more likely a couple of rings with a decent score and an advantage tailored for your perceptive training, maybe a gm friendly enough to suggest when a skill you have would apply and a bit of good dice luck. 

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5 hours ago, Rawls said:

But does "general awareness of ones surroundings" count as a skill? Shouldn't that just be an innate trait?

Appropriate "Keen Senses", "observant" or "Check Me Out I'm Sherlock Holmes-Sama" distinction?

45 minutes ago, Exarkfr said:

Well, in a Ronin's Path, finding the box requires spending Water opportunities on not related activities (examining the blood or the door).
Looking under the table won't reveal it.

Either the GM lays out every single clue upfront and the players decide how to approach each of those, or stuff is hidden and need to be searched first.
Here, we have a weird mix of both.

Well, given the description in the update, 'search the room' in a low-tier inn or village would be a Labour [Water] check, which would produce the appropriate opportunities. 

At that point, though, I'd make 'find the box' a result of the success anyway; if you're explicitly searching for "other stuff hidden in the room that I don't know is there" then the result of success should be "here is a thing hidden in the room, I found it" without needing an opportunity.

The opportunity is for "a positive result not directly connected with the original success or failure", hence it makes sense for opportunities when looking at other stuff in the room that you already knew was there; "no, I've not been able to figure out anything useful about the bloodstain, but...hey, box!"

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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