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sidescroller

Does PVP work? Well? Poorly?

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Based on posts in other threads, I've been wondering if PvP does or does not work in this game, and to what extent. I haven't looked into it thoroughly yet, but I thought I'd at least start a thread to get the ball rolling. Most recently, my curiosity is raised by @Teveshszat's post in a different thread.

So, does PvP work?

The follow-up questions is "is it balanced"? Would any mechanic see a huge nerf or hand a PC a steam roller? I have no idea about this yet.

Off the top of my head, I'm not seeing anything that indicates that duels, skirmishes, and mass battles wouldn't work. I'm guessing Mass Battles would work best, but I'm not positive (Earth and Water OP spends could really bog it down, and Akodo Commander really shines when taking out cohorts). 

But intrigues and Shuji are a different story. 

Intrigues & Shuji

I don't think rhetorical points would work very particularly well for PvP. Applying that to PVP seems similar to "Okay this other character made their Courtesy roll, so now you have to agree with them". Which is a pretty un-fun way to play. (especially when players can actually argue ;) dance, puppets!). Though I could see it working as: 

  1. A clock, if PCs have already been debating something a long time. When enough rhetorical points have been accumulated, and the GM wants to force them to make a decision to keep the game moving ("For the love of god, make a decision! Any decision! Ahhhhhh!)
  2. Establish who "won", for the sake of NPC witnesses. 

While some Shuji would work fine (The Wind Blows Both Ways, Fanning the Flames), others are questionable (Whispers of Court, since--without houseruling--it would force PCs targeted with the technique to give the rumor credence; or Pillar of Calm, since it forces characters to see reason--yes yes I know pillars of calm isn't for intrigues).

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I don't see the problem with forcing players to abide by the results of social checks.  That's the game.  You have a vigilence stat for a reason.

Playing a character who believes a thing that you don't believe as a player is part of actually roleplaying and not just playing yourself.  Embrace the dramatic irony.

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8 hours ago, GaGrin said:

I don't see the problem with forcing players to abide by the results of social checks.  That's the game.  You have a vigilence stat for a reason.

Playing a character who believes a thing that you don't believe as a player is part of actually roleplaying and not just playing yourself.  Embrace the dramatic irony.

I've had players use it. once, so far I allowed the player to TN±1... but they chose not to adjust the TN. And had no issue abiding by the roll.

no PVP dues yet...

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10 hours ago, GaGrin said:

I don't see the problem with forcing players to abide by the results of social checks.  That's the game.  You have a vigilence stat for a reason.

Playing a character who believes a thing that you don't believe as a player is part of actually roleplaying and not just playing yourself.  Embrace the dramatic irony.

For me/my group/most players I know, the issue isn't roleplaying something you don't believe. After all, that's good fun in an RPG! 

The issue is that when social mechanics dictate what a character believes or how they behave, the mechanics basically change who that character is. And it's an issue that occurs whenever a PC is the target of persuasion social mechanics, regardless of whether the persuader is an NPC or a PC.

Imagine a maho tsukai speaking to a Kuni Purifier. "Come to the dark side, the kansen have cookies" (or something more realistic). 

If we give that NPC a simple Courtesy (or whatever) check to persuade the Kuni--even if the TN is super high--there's a chance that the mayo-tsukai will succeed... and the Kuni will "be convinced"... and they'll become a totally different character. 

What's the problem? Well, the PC is the player's avenue into the game/story. Social mechanics--when used as I've just described--take away player agency. The player loses control of their character. When the kuni becomes a maho-tsukai simply because of a roll (as opposed to because of a choice), it breaks immersion. The player has a choice: Play a maho-tsukai--which is completely antithetical to the character concept and his arc so far... or play a new character, and lose the one they've grown attached to after so many adventures.  

Can't combat change a fundamentally change character? What if an archer gets his arm lopped off? Sure. That will absolutely change the arc for that character. But the player remained in control of their character even when they suffered the strike that took the arm. The character may become a different person as a reaction, rather than as a direct consequence

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11 minutes ago, sidescroller said:

"Come to the dark side, the kansen have cookies"

So... don't make that a test?  If it's antithetical to the character concept you shouldn't roll.  Just like you wouldn't pick up the dice if someone said they wanted to pull the moon from the sky.  Now, perhaps that Maho can't convince your Kuni to flip sides (that's asking too much, clearly) but they *might* be able to bargain for their life, or convince them of some deeply unsettling truth (actually true or not) that begins to undermine the character's strongly held beliefs.  That's not a stretch.  That's an opportunity.

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P. 12 of the beta explains when (not) to make a check. If the character can’t succeed (the 2nd of 4 parameters), don’t make a check. If a maho-tsukai shouldn’t be able to convince a Kuni to switch sides (which we can all agree on), then there shouldn’t be a check: if he tries anyway, he simply fails.

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7 hours ago, GaGrin said:

So... don't make that a test?  If it's antithetical to the character concept you shouldn't roll.  Just like you wouldn't pick up the dice if someone said they wanted to pull the moon from the sky.  Now, perhaps that Maho can't convince your Kuni to flip sides (that's asking too much, clearly) but they *might* be able to bargain for their life, or convince them of some deeply unsettling truth (actually true or not) that begins to undermine the character's strongly held beliefs.  That's not a stretch.  That's an opportunity.

Isn't it up to the player though, if their character would bargain or be convinced? It's the same problem, just lower stakes. Like if the player wants to kill the NPC, but they make their life-bargain check, the player just lost agency. Similarly, if the character now believes something new that the player didn't want the character to believe, the player has lost agency. 

7 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

P. 12 of the beta explains when (not) to make a check. If the character can’t succeed (the 2nd of 4 parameters), don’t make a check. If a maho-tsukai shouldn’t be able to convince a Kuni to switch sides (which we can all agree on), then there shouldn’t be a check: if he tries anyway, he simply fails.

Huh. Considering this... maybe the first two conditions for a check ("Could a character succeed?" and "Could a character fail?") preclude any persuasion checks that target PCs in a narrative scene or conflict. Here's my thinking:

  • Assuming that the GM cannot tell the player who their character is, what they believe/think, or what they do--only the player can decide if a check against their character could possibly succeed or fail.
  • If it cannot succeed, there's no check required. 
  • If it can succeed that means the player has an idea of some argument/form of persuasion that would convince their character. In which case, there's still no check required; the would-be-persuader only needs to make the right argument.

Which kind of answers my original questions--by this logic, social-oriented PCs get a bit of a PVP nerf because their persuasion mechanics become ineffective.

Though persuasion checks could still be used in a downtime scene (as long as success is possible) in lieu of roleplaying. 

Edited by sidescroller

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5 minutes ago, sidescroller said:

Huh. Considering this... maybe the first two conditions for a check ("Could a character succeed?" and "Could a character fail?") preclude any persuasion checks that target PCs in a narrative scene or conflict. Here's my thinking:

  • Assuming that the GM cannot tell the player who their character is, what they believe/think, or what they do--only the player can decide if a check against their character could possibly succeed or fail.
  • If it cannot succeed, there's no check required. 
  • If it can succeed that means the player has an idea of some argument/form of persuasion that would convince their character. In which case, there's still no check required; the would-be-persuader only needs to make the right argument.

Which kind of answers my original questions--by this logic, social-oriented PCs get a bit of a PVP nerf because their persuasion mechanics become ineffective.

Though persuasion checks could still be used in a downtime scene (as long as success is possible) in lieu of roleplaying. 

I suppose it’s up to how the individual GM wants to go about it. For me, if character convictions are involved the player gets a say in whether the PC could be persuaded to change those convictions. Otherwise, a check is perfectly ok. That may involve case by case judgement calls, but I’m ok with that. It’s a roleplaying game, after all.

That said, I don’t consider this a PVP nerf. The same thing applies to NPCs. A PC is not going to convince a Kuni NPC to become a maho-tsukai based on a single check either. That’s what you get with social skills and interactions: they are not as straightforward as rolling to see if you hit someone with your yari. And they shouldn’t be either, since that would be ridiculously overpowered. Defeating a difficult opponent in combat takes a bunch of rolls and probably a lot of effort; defeating a difficult opponent in court should not be possible with a single roll of the dice.

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3 hours ago, sidescroller said:

Isn't it up to the player though, if their character would bargain or be convinced?

So, here's how I deal with these issues when I run games.  I ask "Can you be convinced of this?"  If they say it's possible, we roll.  No need to get more complex than that.

YMMV.

3 hours ago, sidescroller said:

If it can succeed that means the player has an idea of some argument/form of persuasion that would convince their character. In which case, there's still no check required; the would-be-persuader only needs to make the right argument.

This is both true and false.  The check is seeing if the NPC (not you, the GM) understands this and chooses the correct tact.  If they succeed, then the player being convinced and the GM discuss what that means.  What did the NPC actually say that convinced you?  If the NPC has reason to know the effective argument for certain and uses it directly, then you could bypass the check at your option; in many instances I would still make one because manipulation can be detected even if it isn't being directly acted on and that adds nuace to the situation.

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12 hours ago, GaGrin said:

So... don't make that a test?  If it's antithetical to the character concept you shouldn't roll.

12 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

the trick is that the players and GM need to keep the goals reasonable. Turning someone into a mahō-tsukai is not a valid goal for a single social conflict, let lone a single roll.

I'd say the trick lies in having mechanics that allow for player choice either way. Player rolls with the dice result? Appropriate setting penalty for going with the dice. Player doesn't roll with the dice result? Appropriate mechanical penalty for going against the dice.

If you succeed in creating this, then you can always roll a social check, and you don't need to artificially manage the goal scope.

Edited by BitRunr

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6 hours ago, BitRunr said:

I'd say the trick lies in having mechanics that allow for player choice either way. Player rolls with the dice result? Appropriate setting penalty for going with the dice. Player doesn't roll with the dice result? Appropriate mechanical penalty for going against the dice.

If you succeed in creating this, then you can always roll a social check, and you don't need to artificially manage the goal scope.

If strife returned to having teeth (by, say, forced unmask at Composure +10), then I'd say a strife hit  of 1+ excess Rhetoric Points for ignoring the result might be good solution.

Otherwise, I'd say a -3 XP hit would be right on par...

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56 minutes ago, GaGrin said:

If you've rolled the dice and your players aren't abiding by the result of the check, the problem is behind the character sheet not in the rules.

I agree, in principal. but in practice, I've known a few players for whom losing 2 hours of experience is preferable to changing the character.

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/shrug

Still sounds more punitive than reasonable.

I don't want social mechanics mind control, or to essentially tell someone that their decision on this single successful dice roll will determine whether they should have bothered turning up for this session or not. (let alone if it happens again afterwards)

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13 minutes ago, BitRunr said:

/shrug

Still sounds more punitive than reasonable.

I don't want social mechanics mind control, or to essentially tell someone that their decision on this single successful dice roll will determine whether they should have bothered turning up for this session or not. (let alone if it happens again afterwards)

Again, you're making a strawman argument based upon unreasonable goals for the social check.

 

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You should say that the first time to say "again", but I don't think I am.

If you throw negative xp at PCs for going against a successful social roll, then at some cumulative point the character may as well not have turned up. Not only that, in the immediate here and now, they're unaffected by saying "well, I don't want to do that", because the negative effect of lost xp comes later.

Strife is a good idea. Fits with what exists. I'm not convinced you're the person to gauge how hard going against the grain of a social roll should be for the average group.

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9 hours ago, BitRunr said:

You should say that the first time to say "again", but I don't think I am.

It was a strawman argument the first time it came up, too.  Setting objectives must be done in a reasonable for the system to work. And they're not single rolls.

9 hours ago, BitRunr said:

If you throw negative xp at PCs for going against a successful social roll, then at some cumulative point the character may as well not have turned up. Not only that, in the immediate here and now, they're unaffected by saying "well, I don't want to do that", because the negative effect of lost xp comes later.

Strife is a good idea. Fits with what exists. I'm not convinced you're the person to gauge how hard going against the grain of a social roll should be for the average group.

I'm just throwing out suggestions for the devs to read and consider.  OTOH, If a player is rejecting the social conflict rules and results more than once in a session, I, personally, would rather they hadn't shown up.  On the gripping hand, I haven't had players reject social conflict type rolls with ignoring them in anything I've run/played in the last two years. Not in D&D, not in L5R 3, not in Mouse Guard, not in Dresden Files.

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Honestly ... at this point, I don't see any relevance to discussing what you think is a straw man any further. If you want to talk, talk. If you don't think you're being accurately represented in reply, don't.

That you're talking about how you've never had a player reject social conflict rules makes me think you haven't really taken onboard the concept beyond "this player doesn't want to engage with the social rules", and need something to better understand before continuing. If I haven't provided that, help me do so. If that's not your perspective, then talk about that in a way that helps bring light to what's going on in your head.

Look at Legends Of The Wulin for how social conflict can allow the choice between going with or against the result of a social roll. It's not "ignoring" the result, or "rejecting" the social conflict rules. It's taking a mechanical penalty over the penalty inherent to accepting what someone is trying to make happen. With either choice, they're still interacting with the social conflict rules. If the opponent is intimidating, then they can cower appropriately, or shake afterwards as they attempt to continue regardless. Temptation? Give in, or suffer as they lose focus under the strain of your desires. Etc.

L5R has long been exceptionally bare bones for what it attempts to do with social interactions. D&D is D&D. This is beyond its scope and goals. Unless there's something to the other two that make them stand out somehow, then it's just more of the same, and no reason to delve further.

Edited by BitRunr

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