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

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On ‎09‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 5:55 AM, AK_Aramis said:

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 know what you mean.

I've just started to get a lot more strict with "no, that doesn't qualify enough to be assistance in a mechanical sense", especially with assistance.

 

23 hours ago, GhostSanta said:

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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."

Thing is, that depends on the GM letting their players do that. As long as they understand - in advance (because dropping a flat fiat mid-game hurts involvement) that pratting around trying to justify stuff with flimsy excuses won't work, it's fine.

If you've got a genuinely cool reason why you can use the ability, I have no problem with it.

On ‎09‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 1:14 AM, WHW said:

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. 

The issue in part is that people have been told the skill they need 10 weeks into the beta, so they're probably using existing characters - if they wanted to do tea ceremonies, they would probably have taken performance as a skill.

In fairness, this should not have come as a surprise, given that that's what the beta rulebook already said it was (Although I note that it's now Void, not Earth, which fits better for being all zen and stuff but is a change from the previously published test)

Beta Rulebook, Page 90, Performance Skill:

Quote

Performing a traditional tea ceremony that sets the participants at ease - TN 2 Performance (Earth) check - Downtime

 

 

On ‎09‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 3:07 PM, GhostSanta said:

"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."

I guess it's a matter of taste: you're not narrating exactly what you did, but narrating exactly what you wanted to happen, and then rolling, and finding out subsequently that it didn't.

You could just as easily say "I roll my blade around my wrist, knock theirs into the air, ****** it from their grasp then drop back into a ready stance holding both our swords" before using 'crimson leaves strike'; because that's may be what you're planning to do. Anyone making a roll where opportunities may come up probably has in mind what they want to do with them (critical/defence/create an opening/whatever).

You won't know if you actually succeeded until you see if you got an opportunity as well as the successes, but I don't see how that's not just like saying you're going to sever the clan headband and subsequently discovering you messed up the attack roll so badly you probably threw your sword back over your shoulder and disembowelled your own commander

 

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I think a lot of players like the storytelling style of gaming where you roll, then decide what to do based on what the dice allow.  It gives players a lot more freedom.  It definitely seems weird to those who are used to traditional RPG mechanics since it will feel like "cheating."  4th Edition was definitely the latter, 5th Edition is definitely the former.  I noticed it first with the weapon-breaking rules.  From my understanding of the mechanics, you literally can't break or damage your weapons unless you allow them to get broken because you'll always have the option to intentionally fail retroactively.

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4 hours ago, TheVeteranSergeant said:

I think a lot of players like the storytelling style of gaming where you roll, then decide what to do based on what the dice allow.  It gives players a lot more freedom.  It definitely seems weird to those who are used to traditional RPG mechanics since it will feel like "cheating."  4th Edition was definitely the latter, 5th Edition is definitely the former.  I noticed it first with the weapon-breaking rules.  From my understanding of the mechanics, you literally can't break or damage your weapons unless you allow them to get broken because you'll always have the option to intentionally fail retroactively.

There are times where it can and will happen, because the GM has yet to reveal the Resistance and /or the TNTBH (due to techniques or opp spends adjusting it). But it's pretty rare. 

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7 hours ago, TheVeteranSergeant said:

I think a lot of players like the storytelling style of gaming where you roll, then decide what to do based on what the dice allow.  It gives players a lot more freedom.  It definitely seems weird to those who are used to traditional RPG mechanics since it will feel like "cheating."  4th Edition was definitely the latter, 5th Edition is definitely the former.  I noticed it first with the weapon-breaking rules.  From my understanding of the mechanics, you literally can't break or damage your weapons unless you allow them to get broken because you'll always have the option to intentionally fail retroactively.

So if I'm in a skirmish I should just state my approach and roll first, and decide what to do after?

Like "I'm going to be overwhelmingly aggressive in my assault!" okay, roll fire + MA, got 2 success and 1 op - "Great now I select to attack the character in earth stance since I can't hit the character in air stance.  I didn't get 2 OP to crit anyway"

Is that how your games go?

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1 hour ago, shosuko said:

So if I'm in a skirmish I should just state my approach and roll first, and decide what to do after?

Like "I'm going to be overwhelmingly aggressive in my assault!" okay, roll fire + MA, got 2 success and 1 op - "Great now I select to attack the character in earth stance since I can't hit the character in air stance.  I didn't get 2 OP to crit anyway"

Is that how your games go?

Probably more like. I attack from earth stance. Make roll. Narrate the results.

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1 hour ago, Daeglan said:

Probably more like. I attack from earth stance. Make roll. Narrate the results.

That repeats what I said, but doesn't answer what I asked.

Should I even target something first?  Or simply state my aproach, roll, and then figure out the details like if I even attacked, or who I attacked, or whatnot?

I use an overpowering (fire) martial arts approach - rolls - 2 success and 1 op.  Since I can't hit the air stance guy, and don't have the ops to crit the water stance guy, I guess I'll land this blow on the earth stance guy.

Maybe I rolled just 1 success and say I keep no dice, and don't actually attack anyone.  Maybe I ran my finger across the tip of my Kashira and anyone perceptive may have felt my intent, but I never drew! promise! we roll first then narrate what happened.

Is that how I'm supposed to be playing this?

Edited by shosuko

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1 hour ago, Daeglan said:

Probably more like. I attack from earth stance. Make roll. Narrate the results.

This one.  The functional difference being whether or not the action is committed to, for good or bad.   The ability to intentionally fail a test, after the results, is the key difference.  In a traditional RPG, you declare intent, and accept the consequences of success and failure.  In this style of game, if the outcome is adverse, players can choose to abort the attempt, only suffering the consequences of "not succeeding."  For some rolls, this is irrelevant, as "not success" is the equivalent of failure.  But there are a lot of situations where "not success" is better than failure (or potentially better than success, bizarrely enough) and the player gets to choose that outcome after being allowed to see whether or not they fail.  That kind of mechanical manipulation is what seems off to players used to traditional RPGs.  It also makes a lot of the mechanics feel strange and artificial at times, especially Strife.

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4 hours ago, shosuko said:

So if I'm in a skirmish I should just state my approach and roll first, and decide what to do after?

Like "I'm going to be overwhelmingly aggressive in my assault!" okay, roll fire + MA, got 2 success and 1 op - "Great now I select to attack the character in earth stance since I can't hit the character in air stance.  I didn't get 2 OP to crit anyway"

Is that how your games go?

Close but not quite...

P: "I'm in water stance and have my bow readied. He's at range 1... I'm going to try and hit him anyway." 

GM: "Ok, you'll need 1 opportunity. Melee shooting sucks."

P: "Got 3 successes and 2 opportunity, 3 strife. Looks like I got a good hit in. 1 for range 1, 2 more for the crit."
—or—
P: "1 Success, and 4 opportunity, have to drop 2. Keeping 3 opportunity. My shot misses wildly. I recover a strife, and 2 to gain a +1 on my next crit..."

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3 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

Close but not quite...

P: "I'm in water stance and have my bow readied. He's at range 1... I'm going to try and hit him anyway." 

GM: "Ok, you'll need 1 opportunity. Melee shooting sucks."

P: "Got 3 successes and 2 opportunity, 3 strife. Looks like I got a good hit in. 1 for range 1, 2 more for the crit."
—or—
P: "1 Success, and 4 opportunity, have to drop 2. Keeping 3 opportunity. My shot misses wildly. I recover a strife, and 2 to gain a +1 on my next crit..."

This is the problem with the opportunities...  They force the action to the wrong side of the check which actually limits the narrative players can put forth and from my brief experience with the beta it can lead to very campy results that break the fiction or they just get left by the way side...

That said - I'm just trying to make sure I'm doing this right to give the beta the benefit of the doubt.  Why can't I just roll my check first and then decide if I even do anything if what I actually want to do is contingent on landing opportunities anyway?

I'll give you a generic example.  You approach the city, there are 2 guards.  Through a bit of observation and such you've found something on each of them.  One guard is fiercely political, if you mention President Trump he'll shirk his duty to rant about politics making it easier to manipulate him into letting you pass without inspecting your papers.  He's not much of a talker so you need 3 success to get him to open up, but if you open him up once you can pass without close inspection in the future.  The other is extremely distrustful, but if you gain 3 opportunities you can spin narrative to add a peasant acting suspicious in the bounds of his vision and he'll rush you through without inspecting your papers so he can go check out what scheme this peasant is running.  He's easier to chat to so you need just 2 success but its a 1 time check.

Why can't I say I approach with water to manipulate them and decide who I talk to after the check?  So many other things are decided after the check, and I know what those are supposed to be so why do some things need to be locked in, and others not?

Honestly the whole opportunity thing seems to be like... lazy gamer narrative stim pack.  When people simply say "I attack him" over and over the ops let you say "sure you attack, but here's 2 ops! You can crit!" but what about players who are already in the narrative mode and the KNOW what they want to do before the action is rolled...  Why is there no method of embracing the narrative the player is putting forth?

I'm really frustrated with everyone acting like augmenting actions is some after thought in gaming...  When you're in a duel and your opponent has a wounded side so you know if you step wide forcing him to torque his body to turn and maintain defense against you, why do I have to decide this AFTER the roll?

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That is a fairly badly setup example @shosuko and not really how the system is supposed to work.

The set up should be more like this:

There are 2 guards stationed at a guard post you need to pass. The base TN to get past them is 3. After a bit of observation you identify their demeanor "passionate but distrusting" which lets you know that the TN is also (Fire 2, Water 4) and that they have opposed political opinions (a disadvantage that you can exploit to make things easier). If you spend 3 opportunity you can befriend one and gain the Ally distinction.

45 minutes ago, shosuko said:

I'm really frustrated with everyone acting like augmenting actions is some after thought in gaming...  When you're in a duel and your opponent has a wounded side so you know if you step wide forcing him to torque his body to turn and maintain defense against you, why do I have to decide this AFTER the roll?

That would be exploiting a weakness (adversity) (which would be spending a VP to let you reroll 2 dice on your attack) rather than spending an opportunity. An opportunity might help you notice a weakness that you can later exploit, but it would not let you exploit it right then.

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Success of an action (like going through the guards without close inspection) is determined by having (and keeping) enough success symbols to beat the TN.

Opportunities will let you add something to the action (like learning something about them that will help you next time you encounter them). It does not determine success.

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  • Specifically outside conflict, checks in general and opportunities in particular are a lot easier to get your head around, I find:
    • You state your intent, narratively
    • The GM (with some input from you) translates that into "I [approach] a [target]", which determines a check
    • The GM picks an appropriate TN based on how difficult it is and/or how appropriate the approach is (one of the GM's main tools to discourage 'fishing for your best ring' - yes, nothing stops you trying to recall something you've never been told, but guess what - it's not very easy)
      • Since the approach and TN varies on which guard you approach, you're 'locked in' to a specific approach before the check.
    • Success vs TN determines whether you succeed, and bonus successes how well you succeed (if it's a check where 'degrees of success' can matter)
    • Opportunities are 'good things not directly related to success/failure' that happen during or because of the check:
      • You need to get into the city, so whether you distract them into letting you past is success/failure on the 'talk your way through the gates' check.
      • You don't need to create a friendship which will help future checks to get into the city now, but it's a nice-to-have, so it's bought with opportunities, just like, say, some useful political gossip you pick out of his ranting.

It's a bit more convoluted in a conflict scene because sometimes 'opportunity effects' might be a necessity to make success meaningful (like spending an opportunity to change permitted range bands).

 

The point about 'changing target' is that opportunities go on things which are potential consequences of the action.

 

If you swing at someone with a sword in real life (or at least narratively - i.e. 'ignoring the mechanical rules'), you could miss, you could hit and wound him, you could drive your opponent back, or wind him, or knock his blade away to create an opening, or even you could voluntarily pull your blow if you've not got a decent angle on a vulnerable spot and you don't just want to strike the reinforced steel of his shoulder guard that you know you won't get through and might take the edge off your blade.

(note that 'voluntarily failing' is not the same as 'never having tried'. At the very least you still, for example, expended an arrow).

All of these are possible consequences of the few seconds interaction of a single "clash of swords", and at the point your blade starts moving you won't know which will happen until you complete your swing and your opponent reacts.

What you can't do at this point is retroactively never have swung in the first place, or retroactively swing at someone else.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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4 hours ago, shosuko said:

but what about players who are already in the narrative mode and the KNOW what they want to do before the action is rolled... 

1

They are free to translate their ideas into the action before the roll. It might even influence the TN of the roll if the GM is in that mood. But more importantly, this only forces the players to keep a number of Opportunities too, rather than the usual X amount of Successes. If they can't keep the necessary Opportunities to pull off the extras, then they will fail at those things, even if they get their basic intent via beating the TN with Successes. Narrative consequences to most likely follow, because you still tried to pull off those extras, you just couldn't. 

For example, if you want to search a drydock while being sneaky, then you can declare this as your action, make your roll, and be sneaky by keeping an Air Opportunity. However, if all you roll is Successes, then you won't be sneaky but you will look like someone who tries his earnest (because this was your declared action) and thus the drydock guard might ask a few questions on your way out. 

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Its like wanting to finish your exams so fast you get to exit the scene and go grab something to eat in a cafeteria before the test  is officially over., You can plan for it, prepare for it, but the actual quiz might actually prove hard enough that you wont be able to do that, even if you end passing it with flying colors.

Note that in the Raise system, you would either turn it in perfectly after 10 minutes, or totally fail the test while also taking the normal amount of time to attempt it. 

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4 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

For example, if you want to search a drydock while being sneaky, then you can declare this as your action, make your roll, and be sneaky by keeping an Air Opportunity. However, if all you roll is Successes, then you won't be sneaky but you will look like someone who tries his earnest (because this was your declared action) and thus the drydock guard might ask a few questions on your way out. 

Agreed wholeheartedly.

My view/way of explaining it is "search a drydock whilst being sneaky" is two separate requirements:

As soon as someone cannot describe the task in "I [verb] the [object]" and wants to include "whilst", "without" or "and" in the description, you're exceeding the scope of one check;

Your check is either

  • "I sneak through the dockyard" - a Fitness (air) check hoping for a water opportunity (2 x air opportunity) for "You spot an interesting physical detail present in your environment not directly related to your check."

or

  • "I search the dockyard" - a Seafaring (water) check hoping for an air opportunity (2 x water opportunity) for "You are extremely subtle in executing the task, and you attract the minimal amount of attention"

where the opportunity element is 'good things unconnected to success or failure of the check' - in the former case you can sneak through unnoticed without finding the stuff you were looking for, and in the latter you can spy out the dockyard but the guards notice you doing so.

Determining which of the two checks you're using will depend on how the check is phrased - primarily agreeing with the GM which outcome (finding the evidence or not being spotted doing so) is more important to you, and will inform the GM's decision on the TN.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Currently, my one complaint is the lack of techniques that fall into categories for various technical skills. My worry is that I get my Kaiu Engineer won't have any means to improve my crafting beyond my school skill.

An idea, is perhaps add a number of Technical Skill boosting techniques (Like for crafting, survival, seafaring, etc) into Rituals. Like ritualistic prayers and methods to the Kami or something like that.

Or perhaps adding an additional  technique category called "Knacks" or something. I just don't want to see the more technical skills to not be accounted for.

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1 hour ago, tenchi2a said:

OK, is it just me or did they put a pseudo 4th ed dueling system as an optional rule in 5th?

They didn't do that.

They rewrote center and gave it the prerolling dice mechanic (which is also used for spellcasting)

They replaced provoke with a "Guess the stance" mechanic - correctly guess their next stance, and they MUST switch to a different one, and take a high strife hit... +4 strife.

They put a nasty duel-clock - each round, start of round, you increase your strife by the round number.

 

Oh, and they side-barred to allow one-roll duels as an option.

Edited by AK_Aramis

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1 minute ago, AK_Aramis said:

They didn't do that.

They rewrote center and gave it the prerolling dice mechanic (which is also used for spellcasting)

They replaced provoke with a "Guess the stance" mechanic - correctly guess their next stance, and they MUST switch to a different one, and take a high strife hit... +4 strife.

They put a nasty duel-clock - each round, start of round, you increase your strife by the round number.

 

Oh, and they side-barred to allow one-roll duels as an option.

the part I was pointing out :)

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Can someone give me numbers that show how useful pre-rolling (as in the 4.0 Center action) is ?

I have a hard time figuring how rolling the dice now for no purpose other than rolling, and not rolling them later when you take your action can positively affect the outcome.

Sure, you could take several Center actions to try and built a "perfect" roll when time to Strike comes. But wouldn't it have been better if all those actions spend centering had been attack actions ?

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4 minutes ago, Exarkfr said:

 

Can someone give me numbers that show how useful pre-rolling (as in the 4.0 Center action) is ?

I have a hard time figuring how rolling the dice now for no purpose other than rolling, and not rolling them later when you take your action can positively affect the outcome.

Sure, you could take several Center actions to try and built a "perfect" roll when time to Strike comes. But wouldn't it have been better if all those actions spend centering had been attack actions ?

If you just use the strike option you need your success + 2 op's to crit.  Depending on your fatigue and composure going into the duel you might be fine intercepting an attack or predict before you face any real consequences.  Opportunities are only 1/3 of dice results so you would need a bit of luck to land a raw crit even rolling 5-6 dice.  Taking 1 round to prep your skill dice and possibly guarantee you get a crit or an explosive success can give you assurance of making a raw Strike your next action.

I like the new dueling revision.  The combination of center + strife building + defense was too good to pass up even after they balanced the op costs against provoke.  It was like dump everything was dumped into a single spammable action while the other option was a 1 trike pony, and the trick was a bad one...  The new system gives us a Center stance that is useful, and Predict is much better designed compared to Provoke.  Rather than attempting to reduce your opponent's TN you try to force your Finishing Blow - which is an amazing thing to get since it crits automatically.  The guessing game with Predict fits much better as its own action than when it was built into Center.  I really like removing the TN bonuses as it created too many rounds where you would be foolish to bother attempting a normal strike action, you needed so many success you'd never get the ops with it.  Removing that creates a different kind of tension where we know a strike + crit CAN be landed so you have viable choices between attempting a raw strike, preparing a perfect cut with center stance, or attempting to bait your opponent into giving you the Finishing Blow auto-crit.

The counter adding Strife to both characters each round is a nice touch.  This adds a good amount of tension to every round that ends without resolution and forces a climax regardless.  Even if two characters want to spam center to perfect their strikes they are either going to get that perfect cut or give their opponent a perfect opportunity.

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A "concern" on the 4.0 Center : you must be in Void stance.
The point of Void stance is to not suffer Strife from the Strife symbol. As the new version of Center is no more a check, you are not at risk of getting those symbols.
And you also can't benefit from Opportunities (no check, no Strife, no Opportunities)

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1 hour ago, Exarkfr said:

A "concern" on the 4.0 Center : you must be in Void stance.
The point of Void stance is to not suffer Strife from the Strife symbol. As the new version of Center is no more a check, you are not at risk of getting those symbols.
And you also can't benefit from Opportunities (no check, no Strife, no Opportunities)

Here, we're more on the qualitative side of the Void stance (preventing Strife from dice rolls is a side benefit, not the main "point" of that stance).

Center lets you focus to build up your perfect cut without the weight of roll resolution - a light roll if you will. So should be faster. But it's also an Achilles' heel: by forcing the Void stance, Void becomes an obvious choice for your opponent's Predict action. If they see you Center once, they won't let you do it a second time :)

I like that they kept the Ring guesswork and gave it its own action. Resolve is also becoming the most important stat in a duel to the death (i.e. one where you are fishing for that finishing blow). It already was important, but even more so with the Strife building up much faster every round. Now, to see how this all plays out in a live situation!

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1 hour ago, Exarkfr said:

A "concern" on the 4.0 Center : you must be in Void stance.
The point of Void stance is to not suffer Strife from the Strife symbol. As the new version of Center is no more a check, you are not at risk of getting those symbols.
And you also can't benefit from Opportunities (no check, no Strife, no Opportunities)

I've been thinking about that since it was posted and I'm still undecided whether I feel its good / bad / okay.

It creates a void theme to dueling that doesn't default to void-stat-wins which is good but it doesn't matter what your void stat is at all since there is no check, and stats don't effect defense.  A 1 void is as good as 5... and I wonder if that is a problem...  Maybe if you could roll x skill dice UP TO your void so there was at least some reward to having a void stat...

I'm not as concerned with locking center as void, but I wouldn't mind the number of action options being extended to have an action linked to each stance.  Predict could be fire, and we could add in something for air, water, and earth.  By doing this you can give more life to the stance a character takes - which is good because most of what a character is doing during the stare down part of a duel is posturing, varying stance, looking for that advantage.

Rather than peel back the void stance requirement I wonder what actions could fit the other stances without making the system too complex.

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20 minutes ago, shosuko said:

I'm not as concerned with locking center as void, but I wouldn't mind the number of action options being extended to have an action linked to each stance.  Predict could be fire, and we could add in something for air, water, and earth.  By doing this you can give more life to the stance a character takes - which is good because most of what a character is doing during the stare down part of a duel is posturing, varying stance, looking for that advantage.

Though you have to be careful to balance the advantages you get with the action and those you get with the stance itself.

Air is still +1/+2 TN, and Earth negates opportunity-crits. And Water is useful for the extra action (that you can use to draw your weapon, if you don't have a Iaijustsu technique).
Whereas Void "lost" it's effect, becoming instead an "action enabler"

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