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shosuko

Last session - AoI, Duels, skills, stances

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My last session featured a good bit of play involving the Art of Investigation and I really loved it.  I had put a dead body on the roadside and let the players go at it.  I could tell them it was a dead body, shot with arrows, and that they could learn more about it by using a relevant skill and the Scholar approaches.

Tactics let them find out the body was shot from behind, culture let them know it was a crane clan member, smithing let them realize the arrows had a custom design on it, commerce yielded no information.  If they had done a government check they could have found out the character's position, but I gave each player 1 check before I was going to direct them on and had a list of things they could learn based on the skills they used.

I called for a passive air + smithing and earth + smithing from a character who has a passion for armaments later to connect the arrow they had seen in that corpse to the arrows they saw being used by another character.

All in all I would say this was pretty easy for the players to understand, and I think they liked that each of them could learn something based on their characters skills.  I've run detective stories with this same group and I think they liked that ALL of them could contribute.

---------------

We had a duel again.  Last session we did one to try it out, this time we were doing it for real as part of the story.  Duels... need to be much much faster.  I think being long doesn't make a duel more engaging, rather it makes it feel more repetitive.

We tried provokes, but mostly spammed center stance trying to get the opponent to go over their strife, when a player did finally go over their strife the attack role of the other character simply missed...  it wasn't bad but it felt like it just drug on... there were like 4 strike actions and they all missed trying to do that iaijutsu rising cut... idk it just felt like too much time was spent doing nothing.

I hope the change to dueling makes it a single thing, where you get an assessment, bid, then you set your stance which serves as a sort of rock / paper / scissors sort of advantage augmented by your stats, and then a strike which would resolve the duel one way or the other, with ties going to who had the higher initiative.

In this way a duel can happen, and we get a sense of finality.

---------------

I think the Skills should be called something else - because they aren't really skills anymore.  I think calling them Fields is more appropriate as it queues players into the fact that they aren't the narrow skills like other games, that these are simply fields of knowledge and expertise that a character has.  Anything a player wants to do that is illegal falls under skulduggery, anything religious goes under theology, anything in talking to people is under courtesy.

Also - smithing is a bad name, I think it should be "armaments."  This way we don't think it is all hammers and anvils, but includes all weapons and armors in general.

---------------

The Stances are a bit dry - I spiced these up by having Demeanor effect TN based on stance.  There was a stance that would give the player a TN 3 or a TN 1 to hit based on reading the opponent.  idk if that is the best solution but combat needs something a bit more and having the stances interact with each other with a +/- 1 tn sounded good.

The problem is that in spite of the stances it doesn't feel like you're actually doing anything different based on your combat approach.  All of them are basically an attack...

Another idea was to change it so that Earth and Air were full defense, Water and Void were neutral, and Fire was full attack.  If you selected Earth or Air you wouldn't naturally get an attack, but would get a counter attack based on conditions.  If you are in earth stance and are hit, whether you take damage or not, then you get to attack back at that character.  Similarly in air stance if you are attacked but it doesn't hit you get a counter attack.  Water is the neutral stance, you attack and defend like normal.  Fire is the full attack, giving its damage boost as normal.  Void could be a neutral stance like water, or we can go with the sacrifice theme and say taking the Void stance makes you a TN 1 to be hit, but if someone hits you, you get a free hit against them dealt simultaneously with the damage dealt to you.  

just my thoughts...

--------------

In this session we had a lot more fun and I think we'll be sticking with the beta.  I was on the fence about that, but with dedication and a focus on blending the mechanics and narrative I think we're getting it.

Edited by shosuko

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My problem with the current Skill system (and to that extent, the Art of Investigation sub-rule) is that it makes things unnecessarily complicated by trying to make one concrete thing out of two abstract components. Needing to abstract with Approaches then needing to abstract with Skills is, in my experience, exactly one more step of abstraction your average player can stomach in the long run.  The Skills themselves are also crazy inconsistent of what they are doing: you have purely theoretical skills (Government), purely practical skills (Perform), some in-between (Sentiment), and things that are seemingly neither (Aesthetics). We already have Approaches to diversify playing, and they are already grossly underused (IMHO), so I say let them have some spotlight here. Give us concrete Skills that relate to actual activities, and not the current mishmash of "expertises and stuff", then have the applied Approaches determine the various outcomes. 

For example, investigating the crime scene in OP would be a use of Investigation Skill. The Analyze Approach would reveal that the victim was shot in the back. The Theorize Approach would reveal that the victim was probably killed by a Crane. The Survey Approach would reveal that the arrows are custom-made. The Recall Approach would reveal that this is the work of someone familiar. The Sense Approach would give a rough idea of why the victim was killed. Everyone can take a different Approach, end up with a different clue, and feel happy about being useful. They know what they are up to, because there are only five ways to do this (plus maybe a bonus or two for using an off-group Approach), and not 125 possible combinations (out of which only a few would yield actual results). 

Simplification guys, it ain't the devil's invention ;) .

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I had that same problem at first @AtoMaki but it got a lot easier when I simply connected the dots for my players.  Probing their actions to reach a more flushed out narrative helped a lot, as did actively interpreting their role play for them.  When the Unicorn player says she rides her horse around the corner to pursue a character they had seen on the roof (and tagged with an arrow), and narrates that she was going to jump from the horse to grab this person and pull them to the ground, then pull her sword out and pin him there while the rest caught up.  This turned into a water unarmed check to grapple him down and a fire command to intimidate him.  After doing this a bit the players gained a lot of trust in the system, and we pieced together the approaches quicker.

I know some people disagree with the concept of TAoI but I embrace it wholeheartedly.  Assuming a player can see something, then taking what they see and deciding what details they understand makes sense when you apply that through a frame of reference.  Knowing someone is a Crane clan member doesn't simply require analyzing them - it requires knowing about Crane culture.  Some people might assume that all characters know all clans, but lets imagine that characters are as familiar with each clan and their mons as you are of every country and flag through Asia.  It might help if you know something about those flags and countries if you're going to really determine where someone is from.  This adds another layer as a person who rolls really well (as happened on another investigation later that game) might find that a person was not actually Crane even though he was disguised as a Crane because certain other factors didn't add up.

I think TAoI represents the investigative process well.

-----------------------

The main failing of the approach system is Combat.  This is where it really becomes stale and uninteresting.  They really need to work on enhancing the active component to fighting in each stance.  Something more than just what you can spend opportunities on.

I think the skills list can use more work to properly divide, and define the aspects that each field covers.  I don't think the system fails to operate and I do like the fluid interpretation that lets me be less constrained as a GM by what the book says a skill does.

-----------------------

Something I am still highly critical of are the successes and opportunities.  I kinda feel we should just ditch the opportunities and deal with only successes, and use raises similar to before.  Nothing is more frustrating in the beta right now that having opportunities when they are worthless and lacking them when they are critical, or having a role explode into 4-7 successes when the player just needed 2 opportunities for the desired result...

In previous editions I've heard a lot of GM's will credit players for raise effects when they have a crazy high / exploding rolls even though they didn't call the raises before hand.  Is anyone crediting players with opportunities when they roll a lot more successes then are needed?

Edited by shosuko

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7 hours ago, shosuko said:

All in all I would say this was pretty easy for the players to understand, and I think they liked that each of them could learn something based on their characters skills.  I've run detective stories with this same group and I think they liked that ALL of them could contribute.

What, in particular, made it possible in this system ?
Why couldn't it happen in another ?

All it takes is for the characters to have different useful skills, no ?

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7 minutes ago, Exarkfr said:

What, in particular, made it possible in this system ?
Why couldn't it happen in another ?

All it takes is for the characters to have different useful skills, no ?

What made it possible in this system is that there wasn't 1 investigation skill that a character has to make him the Sherlock Holmes of the group.  This method lets everyone chime in unless they are all complete skill clones of each other.

Its like the scene in Mulan when the Mongol leader hands his followers the doll they found and they each tell him something different about it.  It lets me give the players a scene, and lets them all build on it with what they are interested in, and what their character is skilled with. 

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1 hour ago, shosuko said:

Probing their actions to reach a more flushed out narrative helped a lot, as did actively interpreting their role play for them.

1

Yeah, I would rather not go through a Q&A session before each roll. Or listen to a half-hour argument because a PC wants to use Medicine + Attune to take a castle by storm (true story). It all should be obvious: what I roll, how I roll, what Skill I will use, how the Approaches tie into all this, and how it will all end. 

Also, can we abandon this silly "Sherlock Holmes" argument? Or are we cutting the Martial Arts Skills for an "Art of Combat" section too? I mean, come on, just buy that **** Investigation 1 and be done with it - or don't buy it and throw an unskilled Assist into the basket. Geez. 

1 hour ago, shosuko said:

Its like the scene in Mulan when the Mongol leader hands his followers the doll they found and they each tell him something different about it.  It lets me give the players a scene, and lets them all build on it with what they are interested in, and what their character is skilled with. 

2

This works with Approaches much better IMO. Earth PC uses Recall to recognize the black pine from the High Mountains, Fire PC uses Theorize to connect the white horse hair with the imperial stallions, and Water PC uses Survey to smell the cannon sulfur on the doll. But Shan Yu already knows it all because Sense is the good Approach and he has Investigation 3 :D .  

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5 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Yeah, I would rather not go through a Q&A session before each roll. Or listen to a half-hour argument because a PC wants to use Medicine + Attune to take a castle by storm (true story). It all should be obvious: what I roll, how I roll, what Skill I will use, how the Approaches tie into all this, and how it will all end. 

I think the room for interpretation is always going to be there, and SHOULD be there.  If you have a player who is disruptive, and pursues a concept after the GM shuts him down, then maybe you should simply address the nature of gaming and that the GM is the final arbiter for the world.  Its one thing to be creative (I like creative) and have an interesting solution to a problem, its another to ignore the GM telling you that you can't do something and arguing about it.  I would directly warn a player if they did this, and if they didn't let it go then I would not invite them back.  More important than any other aspect of this kind of gaming is the ability to accept the GM's authority considering they designed the story.

Quote

Also, can we abandon this silly "Sherlock Holmes" argument? Or are we cutting the Martial Arts Skills for an "Art of Combat" section too? I mean, come on, just buy that **** Investigation 1 and be done with it - or don't buy it and throw an unskilled Assist into the basket. Geez. 

I'm not sure what's silly about the Sherlock Holmes argument.  The combination of perception, and intellect with the knowledge and experience on a subject is the only way to truly understand anything.  If you were to watch a UFC fight and did not understand how points or grappling work I couldn't expect you to reliably understand who is winning, or what a player would need to do to win.

Quote

This works with Approaches much better IMO. Earth PC uses Recall to recognize the black pine from the High Mountains, Fire PC uses Theorize to connect the white horse hair with the imperial stallions, and Water PC uses Survey to smell the cannon sulfur on the doll. But Shan Yu already knows it all because Sense is the good Approach and he has Investigation 3 :D .  

Earth and what?  Will Earth and Investigation recall something a player has no knowledge or experience of?  Will Fire and Investigation theorize a connection between an object and its origin if a character doesn't know anything about that object's origin?  If you've never been to the mountains you won't recall the black pine.  If a character has never been near imperial stallions they wouldn't know what their hair looked like.  Not just that - but it might take much more than a passing familiarity to recognize wood from a specific location, or hair from a specific breed of horse.

The art of investigation makes sense - what doesn't make sense is Martial Arts [unarmed], Martial Arts [melee], and Martial Arts [ranged].  It would be fitting with the rest of the system that these simply be combined to a single Martial Arts skill.  I could see the argument to still have ranged weapons separated (even though all samurai were trained with them anyway) but especially having a separation between melee and unarmed is ridiculous.  

Edited by shosuko

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10 hours ago, shosuko said:

What made it possible in this system is that there wasn't 1 investigation skill that a character has to make him the Sherlock Holmes of the group.  This method lets everyone chime in unless they are all complete skill clones of each other.

Sure.
But which system (*) has such an Investigation skill that does every thing ? From spotting, to analysing, to deducing ?
Why are people defending this system always opposing it to a 1-skill system ?
Other systems do it just as fine.

If I take the Baker Street RPG (to keep the Holmes reference), they have (among others):
 - Observation : to notice things
 - Perception : to sense other people's motivations
 - Commerce : that wielded nothing in your scenario
 - Craft (Iron Works) or Shoot (Bow and Arrow) : to examine the arrow
 - Customs or History (Nobility) : to know it was a Crane
 - Medicine : to check the wounds
 - Law, Artistry, Menace, Oratory, Research, Street Smarts, Social Sciences, Theology, and a lot more.

 

(*) especially which system that one would use for investigation games

 

If you are playing an Investigation heavy game, players should be building characters that have useful skills.
If someone says "I am a big brute, all I know is how to smash stuff", he is obviously not making a character that will shine when it comes to investigate.
But he could build an "ex-soldier, good at spotting danger, with knowledge of tactics and ballistics", and thus be useful.

Why fault an hypothetical system for not suiting the type of games we want to play ?

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13 hours ago, sndwurks said:

Skullduggery -> Crime?

It's general sneakiness, though, not just crime.

"Planning an unobserved entry" to a city or palace almost inevitably means a nefarious intent, but not necessarily an out-and-out criminal one.

 

  • Glad investigation worked well
  • Agree that duels feel long-winded. By comparison, we've been doing skirmishes more and they feel pretty fast. With everyone involved it worked pretty well; it's having 2-3 players sit around getting annoyed whilst one of them makes centre checks over and over again that loses engagement.
11 hours ago, shosuko said:

Its like the scene in Mulan when the Mongol leader hands his followers the doll they found and they each tell him something different about it.  It lets me give the players a scene, and lets them all build on it with what they are interested in, and what their character is skilled with. 

That's....actually a really good example. Thanks!

 

9 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Or listen to a half-hour argument because a PC wants to use Medicine + Attune to take a castle by storm (true story).

....Okay, I have two thoughts here:

  1. That, to me, is an issue with the player, not the system; because would they have expected a Medicae check to do the same in a 40k RPG?
  2. I'm really quite curious what the plan was. Did they have some fiendish chemical-based attack lined up, or was it "I can use whatever skill and ring I like so there"?, in which case see point (1). If there was a good argument (and if it went on for thirty minutes I'd like to hope there was....), then I'd genuinely like to hear it (the more crackpot PC plans are always fun to listen to).
4 hours ago, shosuko said:

Earth and what?  Will Earth and Investigation recall something a player has no knowledge or experience of?  Will Fire and Investigation theorize a connection between an object and its origin if a character doesn't know anything about that object's origin?  If you've never been to the mountains you won't recall the black pine.  If a character has never been near imperial stallions they wouldn't know what their hair looked like.  Not just that - but it might take much more than a passing familiarity to recognize wood from a specific location, or hair from a specific breed of horse.

This. 'Recall' approach requires you to recall something you already might feasibly know.

4 hours ago, shosuko said:

The art of investigation makes sense - what doesn't make sense is Martial Arts [unarmed], Martial Arts [melee], and Martial Arts [ranged].  It would be fitting with the rest of the system that these simply be combined to a single Martial Arts skill.  I could see the argument to still have ranged weapons separated (even though all samurai were trained with them anyway) but especially having a separation between melee and unarmed is ridiculous.  

I dunno. Ranged, Armed, Unarmed are three pretty broad categories by themselves.

You could make the same argument about Design/Composition/Aesthetics - it's weird that they are separate skills when 'everything vaguely involving places outside the city' (including horsemanship!) is pretty much lumped in under Survival.

What I'd probably do if I was writing would be:

  • Reduce the number of 'core skills'
    • So ranged, melee and unarmed would fold under 'Martial Arts' would be a skill, and Design/Composition/Aesthetics might fold under 'Culture'
  • Rather than having 'sub-skills' be a descriptive box-out which doesn't really affect matters, specifically include mechanics for defining and buying subskills
    • I would personally give the GM two 'template fields', one for 'broad specialities' and one for 'narrow specialities' - each with guidance for the sort of subjects they represent, an XP cost and restrictions about how many ranks one can buy relative to the 'parent skill'.
  • For example: I buy Martial Arts 1. I have some XP left, and could then spend it on:
    • Martial Arts 2
    • Martial Arts (Melee) 2 (which would cost me less than increasing my global Martial skill and maybe let me pick up a rank 1 of something else like tactics or fitness)
    • Martial Arts (Unicorn Scimitar) 2 (which would cost me less again, such that I could afford Rank 3 on the same XP 'budget' but with that weapon specifically).

That option for player-requested (but GM-vetted) sub-skills makes the whole system feel more sensible to me - because it allows (for example) a high-born Unicorn Courtier to be a superlative horseman without necessarily having the skills of a woodsman.

 

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I think Subterfuge works in place of Skulduggery.

I think that martial arts unarmed and melee should be 1 skill if we aren't breaking into sub-skills.  We have techniques that can specify unarmed or with a weapon, and when you get into it there is a lot of overlap in real world technique that can let a person adapt easily between the two.  Just calling the skill Martial Arts with the optional sub-skills to divide it would work.

Ranged could be kept its own skill.  It requires a person pay attention to wind, distance, line of sight - they are different enough that I could see it in a different skill.

2 hours ago, Exarkfr said:

Sure.
But which system (*) has such an Investigation skill that does every thing ? From spotting, to analysing, to deducing ?
Why are people defending this system always opposing it to a 1-skill system ?
Other systems do it just as fine.

If I take the Baker Street RPG (to keep the Holmes reference), they have (among others):
 - Observation : to notice things
 - Perception : to sense other people's motivations
 - Commerce : that wielded nothing in your scenario
 - Craft (Iron Works) or Shoot (Bow and Arrow) : to examine the arrow
 - Customs or History (Nobility) : to know it was a Crane
 - Medicine : to check the wounds
 - Law, Artistry, Menace, Oratory, Research, Street Smarts, Social Sciences, Theology, and a lot more.

 

(*) especially which system that one would use for investigation games

 

If you are playing an Investigation heavy game, players should be building characters that have useful skills.
If someone says "I am a big brute, all I know is how to smash stuff", he is obviously not making a character that will shine when it comes to investigate.
But he could build an "ex-soldier, good at spotting danger, with knowledge of tactics and ballistics", and thus be useful.

Why fault an hypothetical system for not suiting the type of games we want to play ?

I don't think I quite catch what you mean - are you implying that other systems have equally involved investigation skills?  Or are you saying that we are being critical of a 1 skill system?  I'm not sure which are you going on...

If you are calling out a red herring, that there isn't some 1 investigation skill game that someone would use for a story involving investigation then you may be right - but that doesn't invalidate this system, or take away my appreciation for the way TAoI works.

Edited by shosuko

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24 minutes ago, shosuko said:

I don't think I quite catch what you mean - are you implying that other systems have equally involved investigation skills?

Yes.
That is what I am asking.
What does THIS system allowed that the other systems you used didn't ?

24 minutes ago, shosuko said:

If you are calling out a red herring, that there isn't some 1 investigation skill game that someone would use for a story involving investigation then you may be right - but that doesn't invalidate this system, or take away my appreciation for the way TAoI works.

Your answer involved a "[...] in this system [...] there wasn't a 1 investigation skill that a character has to make him the Sherlock Holmes of the group".
So I thought that your previous experience was mostly with such games.

 

If I take a look a L5R 4E skill list, I see : 
 - Lore (various specialities) : would have been used to identify the victim's clan and position
 - Medicine : to examine the wounds
 - Battle : would have given a tactical appraisal of the crime scene
 - Kyujutsu, and Craft (weaponsmithing) : would let one know that the arrows were special

Every thing your players did in 5E, they could have done in 4E.
Yet 4E had an Investigation skill. All it did was let you find hidden stuff, notice people using Stealth, or see through Sincerity.

 

So, really, what is the big thing with 5E system ?
And why are some people so adamant against an Investigation skill ?

 

 

Bonus questions:
What approaches did the players use during their investigation ?
Did they try to use their best rings ?
Were some approaches more / less used ?

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8 hours ago, shosuko said:

I think the room for interpretation is always going to be there, and SHOULD be there. 

Sure. Just not in 625 possible combinations like in 5R5. Mind you, it is 625 possible combinations that are all plausible yet only 3-4 will yield results. 

Except if your character steps on a ship. Then Seafaring takes over and you better hope to have that specific Skill because there is no "Art of Seafaring" and you can be the most experienced shipbuilder in the whole Empire but your Labor 5 will be exactly as useful as your Design 1. 

9 hours ago, shosuko said:

The combination of perception, and intellect with the knowledge and experience on a subject is the only way to truly understand anything. 

A professional crime scene investigator would most likely take serious offense at this.

Good example: a blood splatter on the wall. A martial artist checks it out, and he can't say anything useful because he is experienced with shedding that blood, not how it splatters on walls. An architect checks it out, and he is even less wise because he has experience with building walls, not how blood splatters on them. A doctor checks it out, and he might have something to say because despite his expertise of not having blood spray anywhere, he has some fundamental knowledge of the blood spraying itself. Then your CSI guy arrives and he pretty much rolls up the whole case all by himself because he studied blood splatters on walls for a living. Now, the Skills being used, in order: Martial Arts (Melee), Labor, Medicine, ???. 

4 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

This. 'Recall' approach requires you to recall something you already might feasibly know.

Simply knowing about does not necessarily translate into expertise. Earth Guy passed through the High Mountains the last year. He knows there are black pines, he saw them with his own eyes, yet this knowledge does not grant him ranks in Survival or anything like that. In fact, Earth Guy could have Survival 0 and still make the connection despite having zero relevant expertise. His whole act is about deduction, intuition, and information gathering (investigation) on the doll with relation to past experiences (Recall). 

4 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:
  1. That, to me, is an issue with the player, not the system; because would they have expected a Medicae check to do the same in a 40k RPG?
  2. I'm really quite curious what the plan was. Did they have some fiendish chemical-based attack lined up, or was it "I can use whatever skill and ring I like so there"?, in which case see point (1). If there was a good argument (and if it went on for thirty minutes I'd like to hope there was....), then I'd genuinely like to hear it (the more crackpot PC plans are always fun to listen to).

1. Not at all because the 40k RPG has clearly defined Skills that are obvious to use and are specifically not abstractions of "expertise" or whatever. 

2. Oh boy, this is the best part. The plan was actually pretty darn cool, thematic, and sensible in its own way. So we have this Tattooed Monk guy who wants to storm the castle, and the player looks at his char sheet, thinking that Medicine 4 + Void 5 is better than Tactics 2 + Fire 3. So he comes up with this idea that he would do a ritualistic message (Medicine) on a prisoner from the castle, and effectively translate the movements of the message to the movements of the attack (Attune). The prisoner's body will connect to the castle, his "problematic spots" will represents points of resistance, where the monk's hand will pass easily will represent vectors of attack, etc. Sympathetic chi shenanigans and all that. The GM was struck speechless, actually. It was mostly the Kakita Duelist who opposed the idea because his player felt heavily insulted for this kind of "infringement". 

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Professional crime investigator will tell you to not ask him this question and ask one of his hyperspecialized specialists. If you want to play that game, "blood splatter interpretation" would be its own skill, amongst XX other investigative skills. 

How granular are skills depends on the game and how deep the game wants to go into it.  Food Wars RPG? You better get a skill and a technique and a bell and a whistle for 45324234 different styles of cooking. Game about managing a household? "Cooking" as opposed to "cleaning" and "laundry" and "repairing" probably is enough. Game about being a murderkillsamurai? "Icky Servant Skills" is probably enough and healthiest to cover both Cleaning, Washing, and Cooking. 

I'm fine with current level of granularity, especially when it comes to investigative skills. With how often Investigation was rolled in previous games, it was basically a skill tax. The aptitude at "connecting the dots" and "deduction" is represented by your Rings - because this is basically what Scholar approaches of, say, Fire, do. Having both current Scholar approaches and Investigation skill is redundant. 

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10 minutes ago, WHW said:

Professional crime investigator will tell you to not ask him this question and ask one of his hyperspecialized specialists.

 

The crime scene investigators are the hyperspecialized specialists. Things like forensic expertise, ballistic knowledge, and other related things are included in the training. You are thinking about "generic" investigators who investigate cases and not crime scenes. 

20 minutes ago, WHW said:

I'm fine with current level of granularity, especially when it comes to investigative skills.

1

I must ask: how do you feel about Sentiment? Because it is literally the Investigation Skill through-and-through but you can only use it with people (because of reasons). 

15 minutes ago, WHW said:

The aptitude at "connecting the dots" and "deduction" is represented by your Rings - because this is basically what Scholar approaches of, say, Fire, do. Having both current Scholar approaches and Investigation skill is redundant. 

1

The Approaches are more about the character's... well... approach to the problem rather than his expertise with how to solve that problem. A Magistrate with dozens of solved cases under his belt will be a lot better at investigation even with zero other expertise and no relevant aptitude whatsoever. He knows where to look and how to connect all the dots because he had seen this **** before and he knows the "steps" he must take to roll up the case. 

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1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

Oh boy, this is the best part. The plan was actually pretty darn cool, thematic, and sensible in its own way. So we have this Tattooed Monk guy who wants to storm the castle, and the player looks at his char sheet, thinking that Medicine 4 + Void 5 is better than Tactics 2 + Fire 3. So he comes up with this idea that he would do a ritualistic message (Medicine) on a prisoner from the castle, and effectively translate the movements of the message to the movements of the attack (Attune). The prisoner's body will connect to the castle, his "problematic spots" will represents points of resistance, where the monk's hand will pass easily will represent vectors of attack, etc. Sympathetic chi shenanigans and all that. The GM was struck speechless, actually. It was mostly the Kakita Duelist who opposed the idea because his player felt heavily insulted for this kind of "infringement". 

I could kind of see that, if and it's a fairly sizeable 'if' you had a prisoner who was sufficiently spiritually significant that you'd expect a meaningful 'resonance' with the real world - to the point you can actually base battle tactics off the results - I could see it working for a Shujenga prisoner when infiltrating/storming a shrine that is guarded primarily by magical means (because their Ki being in tune with the supernatural guardians of the place makes sense, and figuring out how to 'make them think you're friendly' and thus bypassing the more unnatural defences is something I can sort of picture).

If it's 'we've grabbed a random grunt out of a patrol and expect to predict the future of our assault including responding to troop deployments we have no reason to believe he knows', no way.

The kickers are that (1) getting that sort of prisoner should, to me, be a mini adventure in and of itself, and (2) interpreting the results into a coherent battle plan and selling it to your cohort commanders would be a lot harder (which results in a higher TN*); "we're going to storm the east wall because this guy has a minor hernia" is not going to go down as well as "we're going to storm the east wall due to having the sun at our backs and plentiful cover to protect us from their archers".

If you have (1) and accept (2), then go right ahead and good luck.

 

It's much the same as Invocations. Importune Invocations tries to explain this; you can essentially try any spell in the books, regardless of what you do and do not 'know'. Theoretically, rather than actually leaving the palace to go rescue the princess, you can just sit their, praying, using theology and your best ring, until whichever elemental Kami get the benefit of this are sufficiently irritated with your constant badgering and go complete the adventure themselves.

Why don't you do that in practice? Because the TN to actually achieve anything will be so high that the princess is going to drop dead of old age before it comes to pass....

 

18 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

I must ask: how do you feel about Sentiment? Because it is literally the Investigation Skill through-and-through but you can only use it with people (because of reasons). 

I'd say it's the 'emotions' skill. It's also what you'd use to reassure people and put them at their ease (empathy is specifically namechecked) - hence why it tends to be the 'talk to social inferiors skill' in the same way courtesy is the 'talk to social superiors skill'

22 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

The Approaches are more about the character's... well... approach to the problem rather than his expertise with how to solve that problem. A Magistrate with dozens of solved cases under his belt will be a lot better at investigation even with zero other expertise and no relevant aptitude whatsoever. He knows where to look and how to connect all the dots because he had seen this **** before and he knows the "steps" he must take to roll up the case. 

Indeed. I would say the following (ignoring the specific bonus of the Kitsuki):

  1. If you want to be 'observant' - good at spotting details out of background clutter - then that is essentially the Water ring. A high water character is observant. They're not 'just' observant, but that's definitely one aspect of their character
  2. You can get a distinction, which is essentially about as effective as a skill rank, which supports the investigation roll. Distinctions are essentially a player's opportunity to create user-defined skills (the rulebook actively encourages custom distinctions)

 

 

* Also, I would suggest this should probably be a hidden TN type check - because you can complete the check, and you will have no idea if you actually passed until you commit your troops based on the results you determined, and if you find out at that point that you botched it things will end very badly for you.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Just now, Magnus Grendel said:

I could kind of see that, if and it's a fairly sizeable 'if' you had a prisoner who was sufficiently spiritually significant that you'd expect a meaningful 'resonance' with the real world

 

He was the commander of the castle, captured by the Kakita Duelist when the party beat back a counter-attack. 

And the point is... if this "Art of a Siege" approach is so uncomfortable, then why are we so comfortable with a carpenter showing up at a crime scene in a house and deal with the situation better than a veteran magistrate with no architectural expertise? And once he proves himself to be a perfect investigator, why can't this carpenter sail a wooden ship too with equal confidence?  

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If I had to put anything resembling "Investigation score" into the game, it would be probably:
Clues have Obscurity rating. A character with Investigation Score higher or equal to Obscurity spots these clues automatically. Investigation Score is calculated by adding relevant Skill to characters Vigilance.

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21 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

I'd say it's the 'emotions' skill. It's also what you'd use to reassure people and put them at their ease (empathy is specifically namechecked) - hence why it tends to be the 'talk to social inferiors skill' in the same way courtesy is the 'talk to social superiors skill'

 

Sentiment is a straight-out "detection" skill, just limited for people. It is the old Sense Emphasis from the Investigation Skill. As per the description, it does not allow the character to actively interact with others, only to read them and discern/determine/understand their emotional state as well as spot whether they are lying and why (there is a whole sub-section for the latter). You can literally turn Sentiment into Investigation by taking out all references to people and emotions. 

27 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:
  1. If you want to be 'observant' - good at spotting details out of background clutter - then that is essentially the Water ring. A high water character is observant. They're not 'just' observant, but that's definitely one aspect of their character
  2. You can get a distinction, which is essentially about as effective as a skill rank, which supports the investigation roll. Distinctions are essentially a player's opportunity to create user-defined skills (the rulebook actively encourages custom distinctions)
 

The problem with these is that being observant is almost irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. For true investigation work, you would need pretty much every Approach. Survey just reveals stuff (so can Sense btw), you need Analyze and Theorize  (probably Recall) to make the connections. Distinction, on the other hand, does not scale, so your mid-career magistrate is just as better as his veteran colleague. 

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57 minutes ago, WHW said:

If I had to put anything resembling "Investigation score" into the game, it would be probably:
Clues have Obscurity rating. A character with Investigation Score higher or equal to Obscurity spots these clues automatically. Investigation Score is calculated by adding relevant Skill to characters Vigilance.

What if no character meets the Obscurity rating ? They can never find it ? If so, the GM will never place stuff impossible to find.

And if everything can be found, doesn't this mean that the GM knows in advance who will notice what ? In that case, just reveal everything to everyone.

So, this is just the crime scene from Ronin's Path, with a needless layer of complexity.

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I can see a case for a Forensics skill... but not a general "investigation" skill. Why?

Because...

Courtesy and Command fill most of the social elements of investigation. Especially with the rings.

 

Command

Courtesy or sendiment

Scholar or Trade

Earth

We know you are the kind to do X, so Y is right up your alley

We would like to know what happened

(Present evidence gathered with those skills)

Water

If you like me…

I would love it if you

See how you could benefit…?

Fire

We need your testimony!

Could you tell me more?

"Am I right that…?"

Air

I:We know you did X!

S:"No, I couldn't… I was doing Y"

"Please tell me where you were on the night of…"

"The evidence points to your buddy. Let us know what you saw that night…"

Void

"Confession is good for your afterlife. It partially recovers both honor and your future.

?

 

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I basically agree with everything AtoMaki said in regar to the Investigation skill, but I would just like to comment on this:

On 03/12/2017 at 0:23 PM, shosuko said:

Tactics let them find out the body was shot from behind (...)

...couldn't the characters just look at the body, see it was full of arrows on his butthole and know fro a fact that he was shot from behind just like that? Why demand this absolutely unnecessary test from them?

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On 12/4/2017 at 8:37 AM, AtoMaki said:

Sentiment is a straight-out "detection" skill, just limited for people. It is the old Sense Emphasis from the Investigation Skill. As per the description, it does not allow the character to actively interact with others, only to read them and discern/determine/understand their emotional state as well as spot whether they are lying and why (there is a whole sub-section for the latter). You can literally turn Sentiment into Investigation by taking out all references to people and emotions. 

I actually don't like Sentiment.  I think Command and Courtesy do well enough for interactions that Sentiment is a waste.  Its a great example of an investigation skill, and your example of it is exactly why its a bad thing lol

Its kinda funny because previous to the beta announcement I was putting together a political game to be run in Otosan Uchi, focusing on interpersonal relationships, alliances, favors, ect.  One of my methods was to apply a sort of "art of investigation" application to social situations.  The way I was going to construct it was to use Courtier as a sort of initiative, and location skill to find people and get into conversations with them.  I would use Etiquette as a defense if they needed to retreat politely.  Sincerity was sorta the default "damage" skill to effect people with your charm and wit, you could use oratory or other communication skills sorta like you can use different weapons, but the thing was - once you used Courtier to locate and engage a character you were then going to use other skills to actually engage the character.  This meant a player might try to find out what skills other people had and then use them to engage the player.  The player might spend some xp to pick up a skill just to engage an important character in court.  After you successfully engage the character THEN you would roll sincerity to see if you gained their favor.

I thought it was going to really go places, then the beta hit and I saw the Art of Investigation basically doing the same thing and I love it.  I'd love for Sentiment to go away, and to have a method of influencing and interacting with characters that utilized common skills between them as a method of opening them up using the approaches to determine how you are engaging them.

In this way I could attempt to gain the influence of a Lion clan general by engaging them with charm + tactics, or I could bait out a secret technique using trick + martial arts.  Sounds like fun to me!

Edited by shosuko

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