FFG_Sam Stewart

Beta Rules Update v2.0 and Preview Material

138 posts in this topic

8 hours ago, ubik2 said:

This bit about the GM picking the ring gets mentioned a lot, but it's not really what the rules indicate. The rules have the GM determining the ring based on the action the player describes. I believe this is because the player is less likely to know these mappings. For example, when the player says "I search the room for the dagger", the GM knows that searching a room is a Survey action, and uses the Water ring. If the player says "I search the room with my Fire ring", the GM is going to say it's Water and not Fire

Saying GM picks was just a quick summation showing how the order is reversed for searching as a player typically knows the approach, but not the skill when searching.

In the case of searching, the issue is that players often know the ring to use, not the skill to use, which makes searching backwards to the order of dice resolution, where the skill is supposed to be determined first.

Even the example you gave, it could be water or air (Finding an object you know to be hidden in an area is part of the analyze approach) or even void. The game doesn't want you to say "I search the room" you have to describe the way you search and try to tie the ring to a skill that may or may not work. Often when searching the player knows the approach, not the skill. This is backwards of the order the game says to resolve rolls. This is a problem with the RAW when searching.

 

8 hours ago, ubik2 said:

I think the dice mechanics make it important for players to always know the TN they are rolling against. This doesn't mean they know the TN before they attempt something. This is why the opportunity spend to find the ideal skill and ring is useful.

While you do often need to know because of the way the mechanics work, in regards to searching/investigation, knowing the TN doesn't have the player making a roll and going with it, it has them gaming the system to make sure they get it right; often by wasting time on a roll to generate an opportunity to then tell them what to roll to be successful. Knowing the TN tells them right away if they are on the right track with their search efforts before they even roll the dice. At that point the gm might as well just tell people what to roll.

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15 hours ago, jmoschner said:

There are a number of issues with investigating in the system as written.

  • The first is that by the RAW the player picks the skill, then the GM picks the ring. This is backwards from searching for the unknown, as the player will likely know what approach they're using, but not the skill.
  • Next are the TNs. If TNs are open, the GM is basically laying it all out on the table. If the TNs are hidden, PCs and players end up building up strife on rolls they may never have a chance of hitting.
  • Opportunities. Opportunities let you know the correct skill and approach. So really all a player needs to do is make a roll, probably their best roll, farm for an opportunity, then get the answer to the best skill to use. That is a waste of everyone's time. You put a monk in the group and it is basically a given you know the right skill and ring.
  • Next is assisting. Assisting makes searching moot unless there is a time crunch. Everyone aids the person with the highest water and a table of 4 PCs at rank 1 will hit TN5 most of the time, by rank 3 they should be able to find anything as a team. Now this is NOT a call to raise TNs or nerf assisting.
  • Poorly written and conveyed info in the book is up next. If the intro mod in the beta is a guide to how they expect investigation to go, then basically the GM is to lay out all the clues and have the players roll to fill in the details. If that is the intent, the rules don't clearly convey that. Also not every scenario is one where the GM can give all the clues and not every GM is skilled at giving such clues or players capable of picking up on those clues. This then creates even more work for the GM in a setting that already requires a lot of work on their part.
  • Finally, which skill to use in each scenario isn't always obvious or intuitive. This takes the GM and players out of the moment and breaks the flow of the game. Now we have to turn our focus away from the story and focus on mechanics.

I like that they are trying to make all skills relevant some of the time, especially the ones that rarely see use. However the current method isn't working that well. 

The simple solution is to add the generic "noticing of stuff" into another existing skill. I'd go with either Meditation and/or Sentiment. This way PCs can take in the environment and either gain insights directly from the skill roll or use opportunities to delve deeper into the scenario using other skills.

If altering Meditation, I'd change the name to either "Awareness" or "Reflection" and adjust the skill so it covers being aware of and reflecting on one's self as well as the world around you. This way the skill can cover the basic notice and investigate while still covering what meditation already does. This kind of self and world awareness is also thematic with the setting and fits with the broad nature of skills in the game.

If changing Sentiment, I'd change it to Perception (or other appropriate name) and wrap noticing more than just emotions into the skill. Expand the skill to be about perceiving the world around you and noticing the changes in the environment and in others as well as insight into those changes. This would keep the skill's uses thematically appropriate and set it up as the main investigation skill while working great with the approaches for the skill group.

 

I like changing meditation to awareness. It makes much more sense to my experience with sword fighting and being aware of what is around me. I also like changing sentiment to perception. As this would make those skills more useful.

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23 hours ago, Exarkfr said:

Sure.
But those pairings won't let you find the hidden body in the first place, which is what is being discussed.

And depending on how the body was hidden I would be perfectly fine with Perception+Engineering, Perception+Hunting, Perception+Cooking or others as I would be with Perception+Investigation. Claiming that a generic notice things skill is needed is not factually true per se. It all depends on the level of skill granularity you want your system to have.

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21 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Only the basic TN is revealed. The variable TNs are not known until you spend the Opportunity. 

I missed the part in the rules that says variable TNs aren't known by default :blink: Page ref?

5 hours ago, jmoschner said:

In the case of searching, the issue is that players often know the ring to use, not the skill to use, which makes searching backwards to the order of dice resolution, where the skill is supposed to be determined first.

My group has yet to encounter this problem when searching. We might be wrong :unsure: but here's how we think about it: when you're searching, you know where you're searching. If it's a human-made place, it has a function, and a skill or skills related to that function. Those skills include familiarity with that environment.

Examples: Searching a shop or restaurant? Commerce. Searching a dojo? Martial Arts. Searching an office? Government. Searching a house? Maybe Labor or Culture. Searching a shrine? Theology. Searching a farm? Labor. Searching a road? Government. Stable? Survival.

If it's the wilderness, use Survival. If you know you're searching for criminal activity, you can always use Skullduggery ("If I was trying to hide a body, where would I put it?"). 

Also seems like labor is pretty useful for searching, as construction is involved with literally any building :rolleyes: Thus, I'd probably give Labor a higher TN when a different skill fits better. 

On 11/10/2017 at 0:37 AM, Exarkfr said:

I don't think that the people asking for a general awareness skill have said it should replace the "Art of Investigation".

One would not preclude the other. It would just be a skill to notice stuff, but you would still need others skills to know what to do with it.
It should absolutely not be a skill to both find and deduce all that there is to know.

My concern is that a general noticing stuff skill doesn't make a good game. My group likes games that feature lengthy investigations, so I want everyone involved. In TAoI, different players can share the spotlight during the investigation, just like in skirmishes and intrigues. If, instead, investigation always relies on just one skill (even others are needed to interpret findings), then it's harder to share the spotlight. 

I'd hate to see investigations devolve to Perception-spam, like duels originally (still?) devolved to Center-spam.

Edited by sidescroller

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On 11/10/2017 at 9:50 PM, AK_Aramis said:

Sherlock: all rings 5.
All investigation skills 2. all others 1. 
Distinctions: Excellent Vision. Eye for details. Tobacco expert.
adversities: heroine addict, arrogant
passions: tobacco, Mysteries
Anxieties: being alone, collateral victims

If using the Elementary version:
Remove heroine addict, add anxiety: recovering heroine addict, romance and adversity: Sex addict.

Or just a Rank 6 Kitsuki, which covers all investigation skills at rank 5 but not necessarily able to use those skills outside of an investigation. 

And yes, distinctions are also useful tools - giving yourself a distinction in a subset of a skill, or a skill-that-doesn't-exist goes a long way to allowing each player to make up 'custom skills' if they feel there's a problem; a unicorn having 'superlative horseman' would be the same.

22 hours ago, Exarkfr said:

Might be a problem with me, but as a GM, I would not let someone attempt an approach that makes little sense just because it's their best ring.

And, regarding variable TN, I'm also not the kind that just lets a player try all 5 approaches until they find they easy one.

It just seems too convoluted (even backwards, at times), like they are trying hard to make everything fit into the approach model.

I'm pretty much the same. I'm open to some debate, but I seem to be stricter than a lot of people on this forum seem to be used to with their GMs; the approach picks your ring, and 'I search a room I don't know for a thing I don't know is there' does not fall under 'recall' or 'analyse' regardless of the fact that you really want to use earth or air because it's a better stat. 

14 hours ago, ubik2 said:

This bit about the GM picking the ring gets mentioned a lot, but it's not really what the rules indicate. The rules have the GM determining the ring based on the action the player describes. I believe this is because the player is less likely to know these mappings. For example, when the player says "I search the room for the dagger", the GM knows that searching a room is a Survey action, and uses the Water ring. If the player says "I search the room with my Fire ring", the GM is going to say it's Water and not Fire. This is the same as if the player says "I stab him with my Katana using my Courtesy skill", the GM is going to say it's Martial Arts [Melee], not Courtesy.

Exactly so. The GM picks the ring based on the player's narrative description, with the proviso that the GM is at liberty to say "stop being a nitwit and fishing for using a totally inappropriate ring because it's higher" when, as you say, they're basically asking to stab someone with courtesy.

16 hours ago, Soshi Nimue said:

I think the pairings of Water + Labor, Government, or Skulduggery work well as actual "I'm methodically searching" checks.

Labor because it deals in construction and deconstruction.  Taking everything apart to completely expose all items within X is a great way to find anything.

Government because it includes duties to uphold the law.  Being trained to search things methodically would definitely fall under Government*

Skulduggery fits well as it signifies you might know where you would hide a body.  Knowing how you might do something, or how something might be done allows you to search for something without knowing what it is.

*I don't think the Skills are all properly named or that their fields are designed best, but as written this is contained withing Government.

The recommendation is that a  general search should be survey (water) plus environment-specific skill, which, to be honest, I rather like.

So Survey/Labour makes sense when you're 'searching' a building or a farm or anything that a worker could be expected to know their way around. It's not that you're disassembling everything atom by atom.

The reason - to me, anyway - that it isn't that is the TN0 rule:

  • If you are taking precisely as long as you need to (from hours to days) and are prepared to disassemble everything in the room in a slow, methodical fashion after the fashion of an archeological dig, then the difficulty of 'finding object X' is functionally speaking TN0. You will find it, it's just a question of wasted time, so I say "...by the end of the day..." and tell you what you've found.
    • Note that this does mean that, say, the fleeing criminal has another day's head start
    • It also means you won't necessarily understand what you've found - that's where the Analyse/Theorise checks will come in
  • Where there's a harder check it's going to be because of time pressure, or the fact that you're just getting a brief inspection. 

Government makes sense if you're searching a government building or, probably more appropriately you're 'searching' a body of government knowledge - something like a criminal records check or searching a whole body of clan treaties to find a clause or loophole you might be able to use to your advantage.

Quote

 

My concern is that a general noticing stuff skill doesn't make a good game. My group likes games that feature lengthy investigations, so I want everyone involved. In TAoI, different players can share the spotlight during the investigation, just like in skirmishes and intrigues. If, instead, investigation always relies on just one skill (even others are needed to interpret findings), then it's harder to share the spotlight. 

I'd hate to see investigations devolve to Perception-spam, like duels originally (still?) devolved to Center-spam.

 

Agreed. Of course, the setting dictating it will likely mean that it may instead turn into survival-spam, or commerce-spam, but at least a magistrate campaign will reward a variety of skills rather than just must-max-spot-as-soon-as-possible and a character who's not a kitsuki might match Holmes-san in his specific field of expertise (commerce, or diplomacy, or whatever), even in an investigate mission. 

 

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14 minutes ago, sidescroller said:

I missed the part in the rules that says variable TNs aren't known by default :blink: Page ref?

1

The TN is set and revealed (Step 2-4) after the Approach is selected (Step 2-3). So the player first picks the Approach, then the GM tells him the TN for that specific Approach. The variable TNs are obviously not revealed because they are set for different Approaches and thus are "not in the game" so to speak. 

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40 minutes ago, sidescroller said:

My concern is that a general noticing stuff skill doesn't make a good game. My group likes games that feature lengthy investigations, so I want everyone involved. In TAoI, different players can share the spotlight during the investigation, just like in skirmishes and intrigues. If, instead, investigation always relies on just one skill (even others are needed to interpret findings), then it's harder to share the spotlight. 

I'd hate to see investigations devolve to Perception-spam, like duels originally (still?) devolved to Center-spam.

Again, a Perception skill to find the things that could be hidden isn't the same as a "win button".
You still have to examine what was just found and what was already in plain sight. Your other skills are not made useless. And you can still use them instead of Perception in a situation where you can leverage them.

While the clever guy is examining the blood pool, and the artisan guy is checking the door, the perceptive guy can find the box without stealing the spotlight.

Why swing from one extreme (no skill) to the other (a skill that does everything) ?

48 minutes ago, sidescroller said:

My group likes games that feature lengthy investigations, so I want everyone involved.

Sadly, with opportunities you can:
 - know the best way to go (Any)
 - help others do it (Any)
 - know if there's anything left to learn (Earth)
 - know where to go next (Water)
 - learn something on an unrelated topic (Fire)
 - do some psychology (Air)

I don't feel like it makes for lengthy or involved investigations. Just very mechanical.

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7 hours ago, Daeglan said:

I like changing meditation to awareness. It makes much more sense to my experience with sword fighting and being aware of what is around me. I also like changing sentiment to perception. As this would make those skills more useful.

There's still a need for a specific skill for meditation, tho' attaining the no-mind state in battle is a virtuous thing in several schools

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16 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

There's still a need for a specific skill for meditation, tho' attaining the no-mind state in battle is a virtuous thing in several schools

That's why when I suggested the rename, I suggested ADDING the "being aware of stuff" to meditation. This way all the meditation stuff is covered and expanded upon as the character not only looks inward while meditating, but outward as well. If changed, a rename would help make the broad use more apparent. Don't care what it is called so long as it is something thematically appropriate.

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1 hour ago, AK_Aramis said:

There's still a need for a specific skill for meditation, tho' attaining the no-mind state in battle is a virtuous thing in several schools

Which can be done with awareness. The name changed and what it can do was expanded.

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5 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

So Survey/Labour makes sense when you're 'searching' a building or a farm or anything that a worker could be expected to know their way around. It's not that you're disassembling everything atom by atom.

The reason - to me, anyway - that it isn't that is the TN0 rule:

  • If you are taking precisely as long as you need to (from hours to days) and are prepared to disassemble everything in the room in a slow, methodical fashion after the fashion of an archeological dig, then the difficulty of 'finding object X' is functionally speaking TN0. You will find it, it's just a question of wasted time, so I say "...by the end of the day..." and tell you what you've found.
    • Note that this does mean that, say, the fleeing criminal has another day's head start
    • It also means you won't necessarily understand what you've found - that's where the Analyse/Theorise checks will come in
  • Where there's a harder check it's going to be because of time pressure, or the fact that you're just getting a brief inspection. 

Government makes sense if you're searching a government building or, probably more appropriately you're 'searching' a body of government knowledge - something like a criminal records check or searching a whole body of clan treaties to find a clause or loophole you might be able to use to your advantage.

Atom by atom?  Surely you're joking.  Labor has to do with construction, and knowing how things are built can let you know how to search them.  Even if your characters want to spend all day that doesn't mean they can disassemble anything.  If you don't know how a car is put together you might not know where something could be hidden in a car.

The examples for Government approaches using Water including - Identifying an illegal act.  For this reason I don't see why government can't also cover general police type training.

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Wildly OT, but I'm just sitting here like Yosemite Sam on his porch in a rocking chair loaded for bear, thinking well, it's Wednesday, so update, but on the other hand, Thanksgiving...

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