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defendi

Had a Long Talk Saturday

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So the beginning of my playtest Saturday turned into a long discussion on why my game group is itching to give up on the playtest and go back to 4th edition (I actually thought things were going better than this, so it took me a bit off guard). I've already listed the four critical areas they don't like (rings not affecting passive play, bushi advancement being skewed against shugenja advancement, etc), but a few more came out. I thought I should mention.

Ring Cost

They all, universally, thought that Rings were too cheap and that they were already getting too close to the five limit too soon. I think the big issue here is that we used to have to raise two stats to raise a ring, but now we just need to raise the ring itself, so that throws off the speed of advancement. The cost of a ring seems too close to the cost of a skill to them. After discussing, we thought that maybe bumping the cost about 50%, with a proportional (I'm not sure what the proportion is, though) bump on the cost for going up a rank as well. That seems like it would fix their issue.

Spending Opportunity During Play

They just aren't having fun in combat. I pointed out that none of them were making use of the more narrative possibilities of the narrative dice and every one of them responded with surprise that this was a thing. I went back and checked and creative uses of opportunities is basically addressed in just one sentence. That sentence hits the concept pretty hard, but it's at the very beginning and the rest of the book undermines it pretty thoroughly. By the time they'd all finished reading the book, they'd forgotten that they'd read that. I hesitate to mention my background, but I can tell you from experience I know whereof I speak here. :) This is pretty easily fixed by just touching on the concept repeatedly throughout the text, mentioning the creative option first and then the mechanical options second.

Don't get me wrong, we are all Star Wars players and the wealth of mechanical options fixes the number one problem with the Star Wars game. We need these mechanical options. They keep the game from miring down when someone can't come up with a clever idea. But there are just so many of them, that it's hard to drill into people's head that they aren't the end-all-be-all of opportunity spending. (I had the same problem with D&D 4th Edition. There were so many mechanical pieces in combat, I had a hard time getting huge roleplayers to keep the roleplaying flowing once the miniatures hit the board, even though once they did, they proved they could roleplay just as much with that system as with something Theater of the Mind. You just go to the toolbox presented to you with the most tools.)

Anyway, I kept hitting that all through Saturday's session, and they liked it much more.

Still Hate Tactical Ranges, Still Love Tactical Movement

We haven't had an update since the tactical rules came out and I made my post, but they complained about it at great length, so I feel obliged to mention it again. They pointed out, without my making the analogy, that a bow can't shoot to first base. :)

Cookie Cutter Character Creation

They complained that character creation made "cookie cutter characters" and that the characters felt "off the shelf." I drilled down on this one until I thought I got to the heart of the matter, and it boiled down to the 20 questions actually felt like it took away their options rather than giving them more. The fact that all of character creation came down to a multiple choice test was pretty depressing to them. You fixed some with couple skill changes you've made in the updates since, but the big one I already mentioned in another post as well. Still, every one of them complained. Advantages and Disadvantages. They wanted a pool of points to play with as they pleased for advantages and disadvantages. They really wanted you to break the whole structure of your advantage/disadvantage system to kill the sameness of them. they want advantages that do weird things. They want disadvantages that are purely narrative. They want a point system with a maximum so that my crazy player can take twice as many points in disadvantages as he's supposed to and only claim the maximum points. (I know he could do this now, but with them all feeling the same, there was no fun in it). I mentioned it in passing in my other post, but this is the hill they are willing to die on, and it's probably the reason I won't be able to run this system when it comes out. I was actually kinda surprised by the passion there.  Anyway, this, the passive rings matter, and the sameness of the bushi from my other post are the three things most likely to lose you sales with my group.

Adversities

On that subject, just a bit of clarification is needed. The book currently states that adversities cause a character gain 3 strife. And if the strife gained "causes the character to suffer an unmasking, regain 1 Void point." Now that gaining strife does not force an unmasking, Should that be "become compromised" not "suffer an unmasking"?

Maybe it should be "become compromised and immediately suffer an unmasking." Anyway, that probably needs to be clarified in an upcoming update.

NPC Void Points

This one is mine. I think all NPCs should start with maximum Void Points. Right now you have them gaining points like PCs, but NPCs do not get enough scene real estate to make this practical. Assuming you expect PCs to gain void points regularly during play (unlike mine, who haven't got the knack yet), I think NPCs should just start at full. They are in and out too fast to play much with the void economy and would be getting their gains off stage, as it were. Like the Ronin in the starting adventure. He's had all sorts of stuff go down before the PCs show up, and has probably had plenty of chances to gain void points before that duel. He should not be starting at half maximum. He's had a rich life.

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These are some really-really good points. I just wanted to bring up the low Ring cost problem in the Experience - Too High thread, but it is well put here. 

But I think the problem with Adversities is exactly as is: if the player chooses to Unmask when getting that Strife, rather than proceed with being Compromised, the character also gains a Void Point.

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The problem with spending opportunities during play is that they aren't free form!  For all of the narrative focus with abstract stats and skills the opportunities are strangely fixed through techniques preventing a player from building narrative freely utilizing opportunities.

I think the biggest section of the game that needs focus right now is to remove the myriad of techniques and slim that down.  I get that they want to allow characters to vary within the same school but most of the techniques are "must haves" simply because they allow opportunities to do things we've always done with raises. 

The Technique section needs to be gutted and simplified.  Maybe make 1-2 school techniques per rank for each school and another 1-2 techniques per rank that are neutral.  Make these real abilities, things that matter.  Take all of these opportunity techniques and scrap them.  Give GMs and players guidelines for what an opportunity can do and maybe some easy charts of examples you can pull from to fuel creativity.

Having all of these opportunities as fixed abilities locked behind techniques really betrays the concept of a narrative driven game.

Edited by shosuko

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4 hours ago, defendi said:

NPC Void Points

This one is mine. I think all NPCs should start with maximum Void Points. Right now you have them gaining points like PCs, but NPCs do not get enough scene real estate to make this practical. Assuming you expect PCs to gain void points regularly during play (unlike mine, who haven't got the knack yet), I think NPCs should just start at full. They are in and out too fast to play much with the void economy and would be getting their gains off stage, as it were. Like the Ronin in the starting adventure. He's had all sorts of stuff go down before the PCs show up, and has probably had plenty of chances to gain void points before that duel. He should not be starting at half maximum. He's had a rich life.

The NPC will also have been spending void points. If all the NPCs are full every encounter, but the players (who have multiple encounters) run out, you'll need to do something else to make it possible for the players to succeed.

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18 hours ago, ubik2 said:

The NPC will also have been spending void points. If all the NPCs are full every encounter, but the players (who have multiple encounters) run out, you'll need to do something else to make it possible for the players to succeed.

I understand where you're coming from here, but in my experience, this is the exception, no the rule. It might be the case in the example of my Ronin, above, but most of the time, the NPC has no reason to spend void until they meet the party. They are rarely getting into giant epic battles that before they meet the PCs. When they would have used the, I can drop the NPCs void in those situations.

Both your concerns, the party running out and the NPCs spending before, were theoretically issues in all previous versions of the game, and they've never come up for me. If an NPC needed to be down a couple, I just dropped them a couple. I had the pool to spend if I needed them. I didn't need to spend them if I didn't have to. I've never heard anyone in any campaign complain about it being an issue, either in one I've run, or played in, or one I've heard about. Honestly, most GMs forget about them until it's too late, but it's nice to have them there when they are necessary.

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