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Bayushi Tsubaki

So is this another edition where low honor is mechanically punished?

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So admittedly I've barely scratched the surface of the rules, but as I was reading the new rules around Honor, I see on table 1-3: Honor Scores, depending on your honor you get some number of additional virtue advantages or flaw disadvantages.

I can't help but think of all the poor Scorpion who want to play to type ("bushido is a lie, loyalty is the only true virtue") being at, or at the very least near, Honor 0 and getting saddled with 3 extra flaws.

How bad is this for such a character?

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9 minutes ago, WHW said:

You will gain flaws that you would roleplay anyway and will get Void Points (mechanical reward) for doing so, though. 

Yep, Disadvantages are not completely all bad thing in this edition. Give you Void points and can even be inverted in some circumstances.

Also, lower Honor has its perks: like striking first in case of initiative draw ;)

But finally, even the most cynical Scorpion would have to actively work at being a crass, heartless [preemptively censored term] to stay for long at zero Honor. They still get loyalty and tend to recoup some of the losses by doing their "thing" for the good of the Clan, and sometimes even the Empire!

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I was just going by the descriptive text of 0 Honor: "The character has completely lost faith in Bushido and follows some other set of ideals - if they adhere to any personal code of conduct at all."

Fits Scorpion and Mantis to a tee, and to a lesser extent even Crab. ;)

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The fact that the “punishment” for low honor is pretty mild makes it ok to have characters from different clans, with different starting honor values, and obviously with different personalities that may be disposed towards acting honorably to different extents and different ways. It doesn’t seem to help make this a better narrative game though.

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36 minutes ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

I was just going by the descriptive text of 0 Honor: "The character has completely lost faith in Bushido and follows some other set of ideals - if they adhere to any personal code of conduct at all."

Fits Scorpion and Mantis to a tee, and to a lesser extent even Crab. ;)

Not completely... That would fit the Spider or practitioners of the Shourido from previous edition, but the Scorpion still define themselves, at least partially, in reference to the bushido. They may not put much stock in most of the virtues, but they don't mess around with Loyalty, and do tend to maintain the decorum of Courtesy even if it is just to help them fulfill their goal. And that goal, set out by Bayushi himself, is to protect the Empire by any means necessary, be the necessary evil that preserves the rest of the too-naive clans. Even the Shosuro infiltrator starts with a score of 30. I would expect the lower honor scorpions to hover in the lower 20's most of the time.

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On 12/5/2017 at 0:05 PM, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

So admittedly I've barely scratched the surface of the rules, but as I was reading the new rules around Honor, I see on table 1-3: Honor Scores, depending on your honor you get some number of additional virtue advantages or flaw disadvantages.

I can't help but think of all the poor Scorpion who want to play to type ("bushido is a lie, loyalty is the only true virtue") being at, or at the very least near, Honor 0 and getting saddled with 3 extra flaws.

How bad is this for such a character?

  • The three extra flaws can be used as advantages if you can think of a narrative way to do so and are prepared to 'fund' the effect with void points
    • Just off the top of my head, "Disdain for sincerity" can be abused in an intrigue scene if you come up with a double-bluff scheme which relies on everyone expecting you to lie.
  • Honour is also the tie-breaker in initiative roll-offs for skirmishes. Stab first=good!
  • You can be "honourable by scorpion standards" because your honour modifiers are not the same as other clans  - that is, gaining bigger chunks of honour from loyalty and duty in personally trying circumstances than you lose from 'not playing fair'
    • This is because honour gains from the Duty virtue are doubled and honour losses from the Righteousness/Honour virtues are halved. It was worked out in another thread that depending on the circumstances, a scorpion could assassinate someone in cold blood, under orders, to prevent a major scandal, and come out with an honour increase

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4 hours ago, Kakita Onimaru said:

I'd actually like to see some harsher penalties for dishonorable behaviour. After all, the trade off is that you get to utilize methods and resources that others can't. 

Mechanical penalties? I usually find it sufficient to have enemies broadcast word of dishonorable behaviour in court. If that adds up Glory loss might be in order and way, way down the line even Status loss, but just being known as dishonorable tends to have enough repercussions to balance out not being bound by honor. Also, in parties with characters on different ends of the scale you get an interesting dynamic and the more honorable characters keep the others in check to an extent anyway. Most of my players take pains to stay at a relatively high honor rank (5+ in 4th ed), even the ones where honor isn’t necessary for the concept nor a buff for their techniques. I prefer not losing the few others by penalizing them further.

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This discussion brings to mind the 4th Ed. Shosuro infiltrator rank 1 technique, where they lose no honor for actions in service to the Scorpion. I always thought that (part of the technique) was a wonderful add. It avoided +1 dice technique blandness and allowed shosuro to be played as viable 'secret agents' in a setting where honor is detectable. Advantages like that - avoiding the "reroll two dice in X!"  or "add a die per rank for X!" repetitiveness in favor of ones that let each school act in unique ways without mechanical penalty - would definitely receive a thumbs up from me.

 

 

Edited by easl

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3 hours ago, easl said:

I always thought that (part of the technique) was a wonderful add.

To what end, though? Why should the Shosuro Infiltrator who does dastardly things only on behalf of their clan actually be honourable unless they actually behave honourably? Not being discovered as dishonourable is what Perceived Honour was for. Student Of Shourido (Imperial Archives) was there for being slightly more resistant to others' low tactics, late in the edition, too. (if you could rename / look past the Shourido thing)

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2 hours ago, BitRunr said:

To what end, though? Why should the Shosuro Infiltrator who does dastardly things only on behalf of their clan actually be honourable unless they actually behave honourably? Not being discovered as dishonourable is what Perceived Honour was for. Student Of Shourido (Imperial Archives) was there for being slightly more resistant to others' low tactics, late in the edition, too. (if you could rename / look past the Shourido thing)

They won't be unless they're generally honorable.

Remember - Honor is the internal assessment of compliance with an external and complex code. The Scorpion Clan teaches its youth that duty is the prime virtue. And that Righteouness and Honor (the virtue, not the game mechanic) are the least important. So, since they measure against the standards of their clan, they suffer half as much loss from the Righteousness and Honor types, but twice as much from Duty. Courtesy, Courage, Sincerity and Compassion are all normal.

So, if he's a total schmuck except for duty, he's going to go down the tubes on the mechanical honor. He still loses points for violations of righteousness or Honor, but it doesn't hurt his self measure as much as it would a lion. But he suffers twice the self-image hit for not obeying. Good little soldiers, those scorpion. Explains how the whole descent into faceless hordes got rolling... 

Likewise, being righteous and honorable doesn't hurt the scorpion, except when it conflicts with other virtues' "do nots". 

It's not easy to be a high honor scorpion, but it's not too hard, either. Duty before others... 

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6 hours ago, easl said:

This discussion brings to mind the 4th Ed. Shosuro infiltrator rank 1 technique, where they lose no honor for actions in service to the Scorpion. I always thought that (part of the technique) was a wonderful add. It avoided +1 dice technique blandness and allowed shosuro to be played as viable 'secret agents' in a setting where honor is detectable. Advantages like that - avoiding the "reroll two dice in X!"  or "add a die per rank for X!" repetitiveness in favor of ones that let each school act in unique ways without mechanical penalty - would definitely receive a thumbs up from me.

4e Shosuro would not be likely to be very honorable, mostly because their technique did not (thankfully) wipe all honor losses due to actions done in service of the Clan, but only losses for the "use of Low Skills or Ninjutsu Weapons in the service of the Scorpion Clan", and then again, subject to the GM's approval. (p. 129). Also, they did start pretty low too.

So they would not lose one point for using Stealth, and one more for throwing a shuriken to their mark's neck, but actually killing the guys would cost honor just as for any other Scorpion. It was a nice school, though ;)

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3 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

It's not easy to be a high honor scorpion, but it's not too hard, either.

Even if you're being dishonourable, Bushido-ignoring scum for your clan a fraction of the time, and an upright Bushido-ite the rest, it should be harder to balance than merely "not easy".

3 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

The Scorpion Clan teaches its youth that duty is the prime virtue.

Precisely. The Scorpion teach that Bushido is contemptible, and that loyalty is far more valuable than any adherence to the code itself. Anyone born Scorpion that actually adheres to Bushido properly, they shunt aside as fools and pawns to be used and discarded if necessary. The Scorpion pay lip service to the seven tenets, and if they need to contradict the next heartbeat that, they do.

Quote

The Scorpion Clan as a whole rejects the Code of Bushido, viewing it as a pleasant myth which makes their foes easy to manipulate and control.
A Scorpion will not hesitate to commit any crime, break any promise, destroy his own honor and reputation if that is what the clan requires of him.

[Junshin] live out careers of unhappy obscurity—they are given unpleasant or trivial duties, or married off to other clans as part of insignificant treaties. A junshin Scorpion who actually upholds Bushido directly against his clan’s interests will be quietly disposed of before he can do significant damage.

That's not a clan that needs to be propped up from their low rank of upholding Bushido. It is a clan who has a poor reputation - causing other clans to expect a certain attitudes and behaviours.

3 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Honor is the internal assessment of compliance with an external and complex code.

No better time to break away from past mistakes.

Edited by BitRunr

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TNote that the "What Bushido means to your clan" Scorpion sidebar paints them as much less extreme "Honor sucks" honorhaters. The tenets they dislike the most are just "not wholly unimportant", instead of "anyone following this is a backstabbable idiot to be disposed of sooner or later".

EDIT
In fact, said sidebar also talks about Scorpion using Honor as an anchor to keep their humanity alive and prevent themselves from becoming what they are fighting against, so we might see a shift from "Honor is for stupid babies" Scorpion philosophy.

Edited by WHW

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Well if you're a Shosuro specifically, (a member of a ninja school that most people don't even know exists, last time I checked) then you're not really an upstanding honourable samurai as much as you are a weapon wielded by the Scorpion daimyos.
It's not like "I'm a cool playable Ninja Class character! Shurikens everywhere!" It's like "I'll abandon the clan to take a position as a wet nurse nanny and raise this strangers child for 30 years. I will be a loving support for the man that the child becomes. Also, when I get the secret message from the clan I left behind, I will kill that man in his sleep and perform sepukku next to his bed before the sun rises again without question or explanation, Because I am Scorpion."
You don't really take an honour loss for stuff like that (or sort of anything else) because it's all trivial compared to the bigger picture.

As a matter of record, I don't let new players play Scorpion in my games despite the fact that new players ONLY EVER want to play Scorpion. They're too hard to understand and play properly without context, mainly because A) honour works so differently for them, and B) if you play a Scorpion right your character dies poorly, alone and shamed for a reason that no one in game will ever understand - and most players hate that. It's not rewarding. Neither is being a Scorpion.

Even the 'samurai drama' created by narrative dice is screwed for Scorpion. You'd better believe that Scorpion don't EVER give in to ninjo when there's giri to be done.

Edited by GhostSanta

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9 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

Even the 'samurai drama' created by narrative dice is screwed for Scorpion. You'd better believe that Scorpion don't EVER give in to ninjo when there's giri to be done.

That might be true for the ideal Scorpion, but recent fictions show powerful Scorpions that this is not true for. Don't try to "no true Scotsman" this since the two Scorpion who are letting their Ninjos control them are Aramoro (desire to be with Kachiko) and Kachiko (ambition) while Yojiro had a Giri (order from Kachiko to make Aramoro win) and Ninjo (desire to be the best a good Emerald Magistrate) conflict where the Ninjo won.

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7 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

You don't really take an honour loss for stuff like that (or sort of anything else) because it's all trivial compared to the bigger picture.

If honour doesn't matter compared to the big picture, that's just another reason why any change should go through unmodified, and your honour value should be your actual honour as compared against an unforgiving Bushido code.

 

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22 hours ago, BitRunr said:

Precisely. The Scorpion teach that Bushido is contemptible, and that loyalty is far more valuable than any adherence to the code itself. Anyone born Scorpion that actually adheres to Bushido properly, they shunt aside as fools and pawns to be used and discarded if necessary. The Scorpion pay lip service to the seven tenets, and if they need to contradict the next heartbeat that, they do.

That's not how I interpreted the Scorpion clan's material in 1E, 2E, nor 3E. It's too unsubtle an approach to match the clan.

They teach Bushido as a lever upon which to hoist the others. But, to move in the circles where this is needed, one must also hold onto some of those virtues as well, for failure to do so is notable to others, and counterproductive to good order, as well. 

A scorpion lies when it is useful, not for the sake of lying. (Unless he's gone to the Kolat.)

A scorpion holds courtesy in esteem, for by virtue of it, both ways, the mark is made incautious.

A scorpion holds sincerity in esteem, for it is more than just appearing to believe what you say, but also saying what will get the job done.

A scorpion holds courage in esteem, for facing foes alone when one is potentially outnumbered is of use.

A scorpion holds compassion as useful. In others, it allows playing them. In oneself, in moderation, it allows others to be less scared of you, at least until it's too late.

A scorpion holds the truth as a weapon - a scorpion's duty requires honesty - mostly within the clan. But honesty outside the clan? useful. And if you betray it out of duty, well, the mask was their warning. Why does the scorpion lie? Because it's part of his duty, too. 

A scorpion likewise upholds Righteousness every day... because he can. It's not a harm to him, unless it conflicts with his duty, And when it does... no issue. A scorpion who goes about lying for personal gain is not serving his duty well, for he's taking his lord's time as his own.

Likewise, if one lies all the time, no one believes them. So, it's in one's best interests to keep the lies manageable and used carefully. The mask is a warning... "You can never let your guard down, for I may be telling the truth"

None of the virtues are anathema to the Scorpion. Some are just more important than others. All are levers upon which to move the others. And each other.

And one need not accept a code whilst still following it. Most atheists follow 7 of YHVY's commandments daily, for example. Most faithful of the Abrahamic religions follow 5 or 6 of the virtues of Bushidō daily, too... and if they are the "Fine, how 'bout you?" type even while sick, one can make that 7.

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56 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

None of the virtues are anathema to the Scorpion. Some are just more important than others.

Perhaps I never understood the subtleties, but for me the Scorpion consider all aspects of bushido important. All of them. Just like the other clans - not individuals - do. For the Scorpion however, Duty outweighs all else if there is a conflict between tenets. They might even regret (I know, sinful) occasionally failing certain tenets, but adhering to Duty wipes that out.

Of course, that makes it difficult for me to see any point in differentiated honor losses between the different clans for the same kind of failures against bushido. But that’s for me to deal with.

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