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FFG Max Brooke

Week 10 Update and Focus Topic (12/8/2017)

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Greetings L5R Open Beta Testers!

First off, we want to thank you for the great response on the survey last week. We got a lot of excellent feedback on duels, and we're in the midst of integrating that into an update to the conflict rules.

While there's a more detailed breakdown in this week's email, here are the salient points:

• Players put a high premium on agency, so choice points should be plentiful enough to be meaningful

• Players want fewer dice rolls in general

• Players are more amenable to additional choice points than additional dice rolls

• Duels pull the spotlight onto only one player, which is a challenge for many groups

In the coming weeks, we'll be rolling out an update to the duel rules to try to incorporate this feedback in a substantive way. This will likely involve actions that can be resolved very quickly, perhaps introducing a degree of randomness via means the than dice (blind choice, bidding, etc).

Additionally, we want to include extra guidance on how to integrate duels into other scenes, such as intrigues, and how to build activities for there other characters around duels.

For the discussion topic this week, feel free to weigh in on duels, but we'd also like to get feedback on techniques! Here are a couple of questions to get you started:

• How do you feel about the different types of techniques? Which are your favorite? Are there any types you don't like?

• How do you feel about the complexity of techniques? Are they overwhelming? Do they feel too limited?

• What technique-like abilities from past editions would you really want to see represented in the future?

Finally, we've got several minor corrections to the preview content, along with a new preview for the Tea Ceremony ritual, which can be found here.

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I really like how a lot of Kiho are constructed. I kinda feel that it's a waste that these neat design pieces are restricted to relatively niche technique group. "When X happens under conditions Z, spend resource Y to create effect K" is one such mechanic; I feel some of the more flashy "special move" katas could use similar format, especially ones that deal with crits. There are many resources that could be spent; Fatigue, Strife, Severity of a Crit or bonus successes, for example.

 

"Spend a Void Point and an action to get something" techniques are cool, but currently underperform, especially with the instant Unconscious past Incapacicated. Opportunity cost of spending a Void Point AND an Action AND spending 3XP on a technique needs a really powerful effect to be worth going after it. Warrior's Resolve currently isn't very great, as it works once per scene, costs 3XP, demands an entire Action to use, doesn't scale with skill or Rings, demands a Void Point, and requires maintaining High Honor Rank to be useful. Even after meeting all of these conditions, it rarely gives a character more than a single hit worth of Fatigue back; it falls into a common trap of "I spend my action healing, my healing, the enemy uses their action to hit me again, I end up having less hp than last turn, basically wasting a turn and a Void Point for nothing while also risking being skewered by a Critical or something".

 

Our favorite Shuji is the combo of Shallow Waters / Well of Desire / Tributaries of Trade. Shuji, in general, are very popular, as they seem to be more impactful and "needed" than Katas; Katas are generally only useful in fights, while Shuji can be used in any kind of a conflict or a scene, even including the martial combat ones.  Shuji often can tilt a duel or a skirmish harder than a Kata of a similar Rank.  Fanning the Flames is simply devastating, especially when used by an Ikoma Bard. It does what a Rank 4 kata does, sooner and better! Generally Kata feel weaker than Shuji and have less memorable uses, even in their natural environment of combat. Additionally, Shuji offer more powerful narrative control and effects, while majority of Katas are about manipulating mechanics and numbers; so Shuji naturally feel more impactful. 

 

Complexity-wise, they seem fine, but a) I memorized all the techniques that my group uses (and many beyond that), b) my group uses physical aids like printed out cheat sheets, so any technique they obtained is literally a glance away from them, which speeds up play and somewhat circumvents the complexity. I can imagine though that playing this game without any sort of physical aids might be overwhelming.

 

If there is a technique set my group wants to see come back, it's Shiba Rank 1 from any of the games, as it remained pretty consistent in theme and execution. 

Edited by WHW

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Oh, and my groups reaction to Tea Ceremony was "the description is super amazing, the effects are OK if you can get enough Opportunities rolling, but......WHY PERFORMANCE?????"

Performance feels like an odd choice for the Ceremony. Not a single character in my group that was interested in performing tea ceremonies got a single skill in Performance, and they are super bummed out ,as they expected it to be one of Meditation/Courtesy/Culture trio instead. Tea Ceremony requires a lot of investment into it - Void Ring + Performance good enough to keep 2 Successes + 2 Opportunity (so about 3 skill 3 ring to do it consistently), 3 XP that does not count towards School Progression. Perhaps allowing more than one choice of a skill here would be wise. They also feel that the effect is super not worth it if you don't get the Void Recovery, as spending 3 XP to get something you could emulate with scene shifting/Water&Earth Opportunities feels little underwhelming. 

Edited by WHW

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I'm going going to mimic WHW's complaints about Tea Ceremony. I was expecting it to be an Aesthetics check rather than a Performance check and the current effects are mostly redundant/underwhelming.

It would likely be a very good idea to put the ritual on several school's advancement lists.

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1 minute ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

I'm going going to mimic WHW's complaints about Tea Ceremony. I was expecting it to be an Aesthetics check rather than a Performance check and the current effects are mostly redundant/underwhelming.

It would likely be a very good idea to put the ritual on several school's advancement lists.

Especially Dragon, Dragon, Phoenix, Crane, Scorpion....seeing as how they are specifically mentioned and how their ceremonies vary...

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10 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

Especially Dragon, Dragon, Phoenix, Crane, Scorpion....seeing as how they are specifically mentioned and how their ceremonies vary...

I was more thinking that the Ritual is thematic and "normal" for members of the Doji Diplomat, Kakita Duelist, Togashi Tattooed Order, Isawa Elementalist and Bayushi Manipulator schools but they currently have no more reason to learn the Ritual than a Hida Defender.

 

Edited by Ultimatecalibur

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23 minutes ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

I'm going going to mimic WHW's complaints about Tea Ceremony. I was expecting it to be an Aesthetics check rather than a Performance check and the current effects are mostly redundant/underwhelming.

It would likely be a very good idea to put the ritual on several school's advancement lists.

I can see either performance or aesthetics, but expected aesthetics as well.

I do like that it explicitly limits the help.

See, help has been the big bugaboo. It's WAY too good. The only thing that needs to go away is +1 keep per assistant. Make it a flat +1 keep and it tones down a lot.

As written, my players have chosen to help the shugenja with his rituals by chanting along. It's really easy to cast Jade Labyrinth when you're rolling 5r 5s k3 for 4 players.

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I would have expected Tea Ceremony to be in Culture really... since it is a cultural ritual.

As for techniques - I feel the Kata area is kinda a trash heap.  It fixes the Opportunities into specific things you must buy to unlock which traps a lot of narrative space behind techniques.  I would rather see Opportunities simply become free-form like raises were, constrained only by the GM's approval of both power vs effect, and relevance to the approach.  The book should give guidelines for what Opportunities could be worth (including what 2 or 3 opportunities could be worth) but it should not be nailed down.

Kata themselves should mirror Shuji and Incantations more.  They should be actions that a player can take instead of a standard action which build on what a character can do.  The worst part of this game right now (for me) is that after getting everyone to understand the more open, narrative system for approaches and skills we then nail down every Opportunity into a finite list of what you can and can't do...  This is especially frustrating since I've used Raises to great effect in previous games allowing players to add narrative flare and action augmentation by deciding what extra they want to including in their base action pick.  Now when they want to do something we have to check techniques, then they have to buy them, and then they have to skill up enough to have opportunities they can save...  It really walls off a lot of what I feel should be accessible narrative / skill agumentation options behind xp barriers for no reason...

Edited by shosuko

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10 minutes ago, shosuko said:

I would have expected Tea Ceremony to be in Culture really... since it is a cultural ritual.

As for techniques - I feel the Kata area is kinda a trash heap.  It fixes the Opportunities into specific things you must buy to unlock which traps a lot of narrative space behind techniques.  I would rather see Opportunities simply become free-form like raises were, constrained only by the GM's approval of both power vs effect, and relevance to the approach.  The book should give guidelines for what Opportunities could be worth (including what 2 or 3 opportunities could be worth) but it should not be nailed down.

This was one of the areas I thought could be fixed easy.

either

1. Remove Opportunities symbol from the die and do a one for one conversion of one success can be converted into a Opportunities

2. make a Opportunities symbol equal one success or a Opportunities, players choice.

10 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Kata themselves should mirror Shuji and Incantations more.  They should be actions that a player can take instead of a standard action which build on what a character can do.  The worst part of this game right now (for me) is that after getting everyone to understand the more open, narrative system for approaches and skills we then nail down every Opportunity into a finite list of what you can and can't do...  This is especially frustrating since I've used Raises to great effect in previous games allowing players to add narrative flare and action augmentation by deciding what extra they want to including in their base action pick.  Now when they want to do something we have to check techniques, then they have to buy them, and then they have to skill up enough to have opportunities they can save...  It really walls off a lot of what I feel should be accessible narrative / skill agumentation options behind xp barriers for no reason...

On this one I think Kata are to inclusive in this version of the game.

They are including Techniques, Kata, etc.  

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I'm with shosuko on some things. I'm more a fan of techniques that grant new actions (or always augment exiting ones) to perform rather that techniques that augment existing actions with new ways to spend opportunity, but I do think that some augmentative opportunity techniques should exist.

Currently 8 of the 26 Kata are new Action Kata, 2 are Clan exclusive (Lord Hida's Grip & Lord Shiba's Selflessness) with the remainder being new ways to spend opportunity. Less than 30% of the Kata let characters do new things and a 2 of those are locked to the Crab or Phoenix which means that only 25% of the Kata available to them give new options to characters (28% of available Kata for Crab and Phoenix).

2 of 8 Air Shuji, 5 of 8 Earth Shuji, 3 of 9 Fire Shuji, 4 of 8 Water Shuji and 8 of 9 Void Shuji (5 of both are Clan exclusive) are new actions. 22 of 42 (about 52%) of the Shuji grant new actions and even those clans that do not have a clan exclusive Void Shuji get new actions 45% of the time.

In comparison, all 20 Kiho (4 of each element), 13 Air Invocations, 16 Earth Invocations, 15 Fire Invocations, and 15 Water Invocations are new actions.

Edited by Ultimatecalibur

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7 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

I can see either performance or aesthetics, but expected aesthetics as well.

I do like that it explicitly limits the help.

See, help has been the big bugaboo. It's WAY too good. The only thing that needs to go away is +1 keep per assistant. Make it a flat +1 keep and it tones down a lot.

As written, my players have chosen to help the shugenja with his rituals by chanting along. It's really easy to cast Jade Labyrinth when you're rolling 5r 5s k3 for 4 players.

I agree. Make extra powerful assistance a rule inherent to minion groups, as they need it, but Adversaries and PC can get around without extra assisting love.

Edited by WHW

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Most kata are activated by opportunity.

Being randomly allowed to use tactics after you roll sucks.

Sorry that's not helpful or diplomatic. I guess I feel super weird about rolling the dice to see what my character does rather than choosing an action then rolling to see if my character succeeds at it.

Edited by GhostSanta

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I think it emulates the idea of seizing the unique opportunities that come and go in a space of a heartbeat during the fight, representing your ability to make split-second decisions that are often only possible right here, right now - let doubt slow you down by even a second, and they are gone. I find it super cool, as its way more dynamic than preprogramming actions and then just resolving them; but I like involved resolutions with a lot of decisions on top. My group also seems to like "broad declaration first, roll represents the tides of battle and possibilities that you need to work with, work with the hand the fate has given you to hammer it into your desired future" instead of putting all the decision points pre-roll; they never really liked Raises to begin with. Mid-roll opportunities are all about precise skill and control, which feels much more samurailike than making gambles and pre-locking your choices without ability to adapt, IMHO. Mushin no shin all the way!

Edited by WHW

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I suppose that's actually pretty interesting, and I'm glad that it works for you.

I just really jam on the amazing fight narratives that previous editions let you describe through raises. The "I swing the sword down full-force at his head, and take 4 raises to stop the blade after it cuts his clan headband in half but before it cuts his skin badly." That's risk and reward, man.
The general sense of 'gettim' actions before rolling dice to determine the how and what really chaffs my junk. Especially when the split-second no-mind decisions presented by rolling opportunity are precluded by looking through pages and pages of techniques and katas and ring descriptions and your imagination to decide what exactly to use the opportunity on.

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It definitely takes some using too, and the game isn't  very good about explaining what is so awesome about using its method of resolving rolls, which is a shame because I think its a quite fun experience. Wish there was a section talking about it in the book, as otherwise many people will go in with their habits from previous games kicking in and creating an unfun dissonance between expectations and execution, leading to frustration of "I cant do what I wanted to do". This is one of these scenarios where a page dedicated solely to show-offing a play example of the roll resolution with colorful description highlighting what it does best would really, really help the game.

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12 minutes ago, WHW said:

I think it emulates the idea of seizing the unique opportunities that come and go in a space of a heartbeat during the fight, representing your ability to make split-second decisions that are often only possible right here, right now - let doubt slow you down by even a second, and they are gone. I find it super cool, as its way more dynamic than preprogramming actions and then just resolving them; but I like involved resolutions with a lot of decisions on top. My group also seems to like "broad declaration first, roll represents the tides of battle and possibilities that you need to work with, work with the hand the fate has given you to hammer it into your desired future" instead of putting all the decision points pre-roll; they never really liked Raises to begin with. Mid-roll opportunities are all about precise skill and control, which feels much more samurailike than making gambles and pre-locking your choices without ability to adapt, IMHO. Mushin no shin all the way!

I have no problem with "Mind without Mind" opportunity benefits and actually rather like them, but find that the current Kata list over focuses on them.

There is a bit of a difference in my mind between intentionally trying to trip someone and taking advantage of the situation to knock someone down. The prior is an Action that requires Successes to perform while the later would be an opportunity expenditure.

1 minute ago, GhostSanta said:

I just really jam on the amazing fight narratives that previous editions let you describe through raises. The "I swing the sword down full-force at his head, and take 4 raises to stop the blade after it cuts his clan headband in half but before it cuts his skin badly." That's risk and reward, man.

That example is better represent by Successes and Opportunities than Raises.

Your example? By the rules of previous editions only has 2 possible results: you fail to either fail to meet the modified TN or you meet it and your effect goes off.

In this version? Strike while in Fire stance, seeking to keep 2 successes + 2 opportunities and spend the opportunities to inflict Strife instead of inflicting a Crit.

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1 hour ago, WHW said:

It definitely takes some using too, and the game isn't  very good about explaining what is so awesome about using its method of resolving rolls, which is a shame because I think its a quite fun experience. Wish there was a section talking about it in the book, as otherwise many people will go in with their habits from previous games kicking in and creating an unfun dissonance between expectations and execution, leading to frustration of "I cant do what I wanted to do". This is one of these scenarios where a page dedicated solely to show-offing a play example of the roll resolution with colorful description highlighting what it does best would really, really help the game.

Yeah from the beginning I was like "Can you guys post a video of how this game is supposed to be played? Because I don't get it and it would help"

 

14 minutes ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

That example is better represent by Successes and Opportunities than Raises.

Your example? By the rules of previous editions only has 2 possible results: you fail to either fail to meet the modified TN or you meet it and your effect goes off.

In this version? Strike while in Fire stance, seeking to keep 2 successes + 2 opportunities and spend the opportunities to inflict Strife instead of inflicting a Crit.

I don't agree. You give the guy extra strife with your opportunities on a move that you can't call and now you're calculating whether or not he has enough strife to unmask and then he chooses which unmasking type he uses and so on and so on.  Maybe he rage unmasks and leaps up and attacks you. It becomes a hit-point game of Final Fantasy or DnD or something again, and the RP gets lost in the shuffle as far as I have seen.
You fail the modified roll with raises and the DM tells you how you screwed up. No charts, no additional math or rolls or looking anything up or comparing ring tables. You just either do it or you don't and then you get real cool story. Unless you're a high rank Akodo, then you still succeed at your original action (without raises) because you planned it that way.

I'm straight up not in to the opportunity dice though. I'm generally in to as few dice rolls as possible.

Edited by GhostSanta

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6 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

I don't agree. You give the guy extra strife with your opportunities on a move that you can't call and now you're calculating whether or not he has enough strife to unmask and then he chooses which unmasking type he uses and so on and so on.  Maybe he rage unmasks and leaps up and attacks you. It becomes a hit-point game of Final Fantasy or DnD or something again, and the RP gets lost in the shuffle as far as I have seen.

And your 4 Raise action was never guaranteed to do what you wanted either. The GM in any previous edition could have the exact same "target get's mad and attacks you" result to your stunt in any previous edition.

Also the Unmasking is a roleplaying result. Rage, Fleeing in Panic, Surrendering, Shutting Down, refusing to unmask, etc. are all viable reactions to your stunt if it compromised them.

5 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

You fail the modified roll with raises and the DM tells you how you screwed up. No charts, no additional math or rolls or looking anything up or comparing ring tables. You just either do it or you don't and then you get real cool story. Unless you're a high rank Akodo, then you still succeed at your original action (without raises) because you planned it that way.

What you desire only happens if you have the right type of GM.

Rules as written in 4E you either fail to hit the target's Armor TN +20 and flat out miss and nothing happens or it succeed and the GM decides if what you wanted to do happens. It is a binary yes/no without the possibility of partial success. There are no "you hit but it doesn't do what you planned" or "you missed but still managed to make them react" results when a roll in binary.

In this edition the results of your attempt can have a fair bit of granularity.

You make a Martial Arts (Melee) Fire roll in an attempt to do what you want and you keep the following: 

  • one or no successes, no opportunities: You miss.
  • one or no successes, 1+ opportunities: You miss, but you spend opportunities to inflict 2+ Strife on the target with the general Fire opportunity. You narrate it as your miss freaks them out a little or a lot based on the number of opportunities you spent.
  • 2+ successes, no opportunities: You succeed in hitting inflicting some fatigue. You narrate it as the wearing them down but not impressing.
  • 2+ successes, 1 opportunity: You succeed in hitting, inflicting some fatigue and spend the opportunity to inflict 2 strife. You narrate it as the attack forcing them to defend and worrying them a little.
  • 2+ successes, 2+ opportunity: You succeed in hitting inflicting some fatigue and  spend the opportunities to inflict 4+ strife instead of on a crit. You narrate it as cutting their clan headband and making them realize that that blow could have been a critical strike stressing them.

From there the GM checks to see if they are now compromised or incapacitated and goes forward from there.

6 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

I'm straight up not in to the opportunity dice though. I'm generally in to as few dice rolls as possible.

Same number or possibly even fewer rolls happen to get what you want in 5e as it would in other editions. Heck if I was your GM I would have made you roll an opposed Intimidate check if you succeeded on your 4 Raise Attack to see if they freak out.

You actually get far more results from one roll of the custom dice than you do from a roll in the old R&K.

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21 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

Most kata are activated by opportunity.

Being randomly allowed to use tactics after you roll sucks.

Sorry that's not helpful or diplomatic. I guess I feel super weird about rolling the dice to see what my character does rather than choosing an action then rolling to see if my character succeeds at it.

My most experienced RPGers are the ones not seeing that it's a case of "keep for the opportunity". And, weasel up ways to make your distinctions trigger so you can reroll those blanks, or the successes you're dropping, in hopes of getting the extra opportunity.

Likewise, success on the fencing ground, or the melee field, it's a matter of making the most of the opportunity that arises, and making sure some opportunity happens as often as you can. 

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14 hours ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

 

  • one or no successes, no opportunities: You miss.
  • one or no successes, 1+ opportunities: You miss, but you spend opportunities to inflict 2+ Strife on the target with the general Fire opportunity. You narrate it as your miss freaks them out a little or a lot based on the number of opportunities you spent.
  • 2+ successes, no opportunities: You succeed in hitting inflicting some fatigue. You narrate it as the wearing them down but not impressing.
  • 2+ successes, 1 opportunity: You succeed in hitting, inflicting some fatigue and spend the opportunity to inflict 2 strife. You narrate it as the attack forcing them to defend and worrying them a little.
  • 2+ successes, 2+ opportunity: You succeed in hitting inflicting some fatigue and  spend the opportunities to inflict 4+ strife instead of on a crit. You narrate it as cutting their clan headband and making them realize that that blow could have been a critical strike stressing them.

Yeah but only one of those succeeds in what you set out to do, right? So like, it's still kind of binary but the 1 has four other 0's. Just the other types of not-doing-what-you-set-out-to-do inflict some physical or mental damage which you also might not be trying to do.
Like "2+ successes, no opportunities: You succeed in hitting inflicting some fatigue. You narrate it as the wearing them down but not impressing." is straight up just hitting them with your sword, yeah? You've lost the chance to scare them off and instead started a fight.
Even the one that succeeds, what if the dude can take 5 strife? You inflict four with a masterful display of deadliness and he's like "it's cool you didn't do enough points." Sure I had the guy make a Willpower roll when it happened, but the TN was pretty astronomical.

It's funny you should mention it though, because when this came up in the game that I was running I made her roll Agility + Intimidation because she had like, 7 Iaijutsu so I knew she could physically do it.
 

Edited by GhostSanta

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1 hour ago, AK_Aramis said:

weasel up ways to make your distinctions trigger so you can reroll those blanks

 

jay.jpg.a18f1c5f290da9856ee707bbc9faa093.jpg
The face everyone at my table makes when someone tries to game the system like that.

I think like, this for sure isn't for me. Every time I think I'm getting closer to understanding how this is a roleplaying game, I find out that I was wrong and the answer is "Just cheat more, only it isn't cheating because it's how you're supposed to do it."

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5 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

Even the one that succeeds, what if the dude can take 5 strife? You inflict four with a masterful display of deadliness and he's like "it's cool you didn't do enough points." Sure I had the guy make a Willpower roll when it happened, but the TN was pretty astronomical.

If the target can take the 5 strife that means that the stunt wasn't enough to move them. Just as if they had passed the Willpower roll in other editions but still has an effect that others can build off of.

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