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sndwurks

Mechanics and Tone in Legend of the Five Rings - Where the LCG Succeeds and the RPG Beta Fails

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So, I finished my longer than normal article on the subject of the RPG Beta, and my take aways from it. There is the hope that the development staff have heard these comments, and will respond to them in the game itself. However, since this is now public, I would like to put it before the community here for them to read and respond.

http://www.cardboardrepublic.com/articles/up-on-a-soapbox/why-the-l5r-lcg-succeeds-and-the-rpg-beta-fails

So, please. Take a look, and let me know what you think!

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As a means of determining success or failure, the narrative dice aren’t very different from the old R&K. In 4E and before you figured out your chances of hitting a higher TN and called your Raises. In 5E, you figure out your chances of getting Opportunities. If you use a dice odds calculator, you’ll even find the odds are fairly similar for the same special thing you try to do. The main difference is that in 4E you fail if you don’t hit your Raised TN, while in 5E you can still potentially succeed in your basic task even if you fail to get enough Opportunities for the fancy move you had in mind. In short, your comment about flipping a coin is unfounded. While we’re making comparisons I would also posit that, in my opinion at least, 4E’s R&K version is clearly inferior to 3E’s - not that that changes anything for 5E.

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lol, i laugh while reading LCG vs RPG saying 5th ed is bad... It's LCG deliriums that was near to kill L5R, Timeline and so on became non sense and totally abusive and inepts. 

i dream a day LCG will be totally cut from RPG and RPG redo with ED1 timeline

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11 minutes ago, fbtn said:

lol, i laugh while reading LCG vs RPG saying 5th ed is bad... It's LCG deliriums that was near to kill L5R, Timeline and so on became non sense and totally abusive and inepts. 

i dream a day LCG will be totally cut from RPG and RPG redo with ED1 timeline

The 1st edition era is probably still the most used by RPG groups all over. Who needs a redo?

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We play D&D without the level based character advancement and I can't remember when was the last time I've got loot as a reward :D .

On the other hand, I do wonder if the Ninjo/Giri and the Honor/Glory/Status mechanics are ill-fitting from the other way around: in my experience, the Honor/Glory/Status mechanics work just as intended and do give a fairly good representation of where the character stands ideologically or socially. It is not forgiving, especially Honor, but it is nice to "earn your character" via actions defined by the mechanics rather than try to figure out some obscure concept not even the Japanese themselves fully understand. I think Ninjo/Giri should fit into the Honor/Glory/Status system (there is definitely place for them there) rather than take over with their own special snowflake shenanigans. 

 

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7 hours ago, fbtn said:

lol, i laugh while reading LCG vs RPG saying 5th ed is bad... It's LCG deliriums that was near to kill L5R, Timeline and so on became non sense and totally abusive and inepts. 

i dream a day LCG will be totally cut from RPG and RPG redo with ED1 timeline

Almost all of my campaigns have started from this point in the time line.

With just a few outliers due to pay for a Book/Boxset and wanting to get some use out of them (Time of the Void, Second city,etc)

 

Edited by tenchi2a

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9 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

As a means of determining success or failure, the narrative dice aren’t very different from the old R&K. In 4E and before you figured out your chances of hitting a higher TN and called your Raises. In 5E, you figure out your chances of getting Opportunities. If you use a dice odds calculator, you’ll even find the odds are fairly similar for the same special thing you try to do. The main difference is that in 4E you fail if you don’t hit your Raised TN, while in 5E you can still potentially succeed in your basic task even if you fail to get enough Opportunities for the fancy move you had in mind. In short, your comment about flipping a coin is unfounded. While we’re making comparisons I would also posit that, in my opinion at least, 4E’s R&K version is clearly inferior to 3E’s - not that that changes anything for 5E.

The odds change dramatically from a numerical dice system to a pictorial dice system.

As the TNs go up then the odds start to drop dramatically for the pictorial dice system.

The main reason for this is the how the dice interact with each other.

While a pictorial die is a success or failure, a numerical die even if rolled low can still add to the total.

example 

TN 3/TN15   4k3

For the pictorial dice to succeed the roller must roll 3 usable icons on the 3 dice (Success or explosion) with very little chance of opportunities barring a explosion.

Add to this the strife system, and you have a very high chance of getting strife or having to intentionally fail to avoid it.

For the numerical dice the player needs only achieve a result that equals 15, and this can be done in many ways.

example if I roll a (8, 7, 1, 1) on the dice I have succeed on just to dice without even having to explode the dice, also if one of the one was a 5 I could have even succeed at a raise without an explosion

Both have a chance for failure but the numerical give more ways to succeed.

 

 

Edited by tenchi2a

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The main difference between the Raise in Roll & Keep and the Success / Opportunity in Narrative is that while I can always crunch the odds, I make the decision to Raise before I roll the dice. I make the decision of Success / Opportunity after I roll the dice. 

Both contain randomness, but one places the player agency before the random element (which rewards risk-takers more than risk averse) and the other places agency after the random element (which rewards risk-takers and risk averse evenly). 

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7 hours ago, tenchi2a said:

The odds change dramatically from a numerical dice system to a pictorial dice system.

As the TNs go up then the odds start to drop dramatically for the pictorial dice system.

The main reason for this is the how the dice interact with each other.

While a pictorial die is a success or failure, a numerical die even if rolled low can still add to the total.

example 

TN 3/TN15   4k3

For the pictorial dice to succeed the roller must roll 3 usable icons on the 3 dice (Success or explosion) with very little chance of opportunities barring a explosion.

Add to this the strife system, and you have a very high chance of getting strife or having to intentionally fail to avoid it.

For the numerical dice the player needs only achieve a result that equals 15, and this can be done in many ways.

example if I roll a (8, 7, 1, 1) on the dice I have succeed on just to dice without even having to explode the dice, also if one of the one was a 5 I could have even succeed at a raise without an explosion

Both have a chance for failure but the numerical give more ways to succeed.

First, I only spoke about success/failure. I don’t think the Strife mechanic is any good in 5E. In terms of figuring out if you succeed and, if so, how well the narrative dice work fine. Second, 5E TN 3 is supposed to be a difficult check (“a difficult task, such as scaling a cliff without a rope or finding a well-hidden object”) - in d10 R&K the cliff scaling example is TN 20 and the category “difficult” is even TN 25. Your example is off.

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First let me say that I for the most part am not a fan of pictorial dice system A.K.A custom dice.

I personally feel they tend to add nothing to a system that numerical dice can't do with good players and GMs.

And I see them for the most part as a marketing gimmick to artificially increase sales on a produce.

That said sometimes they work (fudge,SWFFG,etc)

But these times that they work are when the game system is made for them or they are made with the system.

The main issues with them in L5R 5th/beta is that they roll/keep TN system was designed for numerical dice.

And they have tried to shoehorn in the pictorial dice to the system.

This IMHO was done just to attracted longtime players of the first four editions.

When if they intended on using them they again IMHO should have built a system from the ground-up to use them.

Would I have played it, probably not, but they would have undoubtedly had a more solid system.

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38 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

First, I only spoke about success/failure. I don’t think the Strife mechanic is any good in 5E. In terms of figuring out if you succeed and, if so, how well the narrative dice work fine. Second, 5E TN 3 is supposed to be a difficult check (“a difficult task, such as scaling a cliff without a rope or finding a well-hidden object”) - in d10 R&K the cliff scaling example is TN 20 and the category “difficult” is even TN 25. Your example is off.

yes it should have been TN 20, but that was not truly the point.

the fact remains that the +1 TN in the custom system can have extreme consistences on the results

If  TN 2 is average Then TN 3 should not be that much of an increase in difficulty And as has been said before by others the chances for TN 3-4 rolls come up quite often.

So going from TN 2 to TN 3 is like jumping from TN 15 to TN 25 is what you are saying. That kind of a extreme jump for one effect.

anyway my point was not to debate 5th here, it was a general statement that the odds change dramatically from a numerical dice system to a pictorial dice system.

In a numerical dice system even a low roll can be use to pass the Target number.

Where as sndwurks said, and I agree each roll in 5th is like the flip of a coin, you get heads or tails.

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1 hour ago, tenchi2a said:

yes it should have been TN 20, but that was not truly the point.

the fact remains that the +1 TN in the custom system can have extreme consistences on the results

If  TN 2 is average Then TN 3 should not be that much of an increase in difficulty And as has been said before by others the chances for TN 3-4 rolls come up quite often.

So going from TN 2 to TN 3 is like jumping from TN 15 to TN 25 is what you are saying. That kind of a extreme jump for one effect.

anyway my point was not to debate 5th here, it was a general statement that the odds change dramatically from a numerical dice system to a pictorial dice system.

In a numerical dice system even a low roll can be use to pass the Target number.

Where as sndwurks said, and I agree each roll in 5th is like the flip of a coin, you get heads or tails.

Erm... No.

There’s a bunch of nuance to this issue and I don’t have a ton of time, so I’ll just point out a few things and we can take it from there if someone wants to continue this.

First, whether TN 3s or 4s come up often in 5E is entirely up to the GM setting the challenges and the players deciding what they’re going to do and how. Those decisions in turn should be informed by what the PCs can do and how well they can do it. There’s not much point in setting the PCs a bunch of physical TN 4 tasks if they’re all unathletic courtiers, and if such characters do get a challenge that’s difficult for them to accomplish they should presumably try to find the easiest way available to do it.

Second, I’m not saying TN 2 to 3 is like TN 15 to 25. If you compare the tables you’ll see TN 2 encompasses both the TN 15 and 20 categories (more or less). TN 1 is 5-10, TN 3 is 25, TN 4 is 30, TN 5-6 is 40 and TN 7-8 is 60 (again, more or less - nothing stopping you from using TN 35 or 50 in 4E either). The curves don’t have the exact same shape.

Third, a flip of a coin is binary. You win or you lose (assuming it’s not a contested roll), you succeed or you fail, and the odds are exactly 50/50. That’s not at all what the odds of rolling a number of pictorial dice are like, or a pool of d10s. Each separate die in 5E is close to a coin flip, yes - in terms of direct success only though. Not the same thing. In the end, all that matters is the total outcome. Exploding dice aside, it doesn’t matter whether you succeed with 3+5+8 or 2+7+7. Similarly, it doesn’t matter which dice your successes (and opportunities) come from - only what they add up to.

I sort of like the SW dice a bit better, but that’s mostly because I like rolling a bunch of dice. The SW dice pools tend to be bigger. I would probably still prefer a slightly different distribution of successes and opportunities on the L5R dice, and for nostalgia’s sake d10s would have been nice, but functionally they work well enough as random success/failure generator.

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On ‎07‎/‎04‎/‎2018 at 2:28 PM, nameless ronin said:

I sort of like the SW dice a bit better, but that’s mostly because I like rolling a bunch of dice. The SW dice pools tend to be bigger. I would probably still prefer a slightly different distribution of successes and opportunities on the L5R dice, and for nostalgia’s sake d10s would have been nice, but functionally they work well enough as random success/failure generator.

That's because L5R only has 'half a dice pool' - you only roll the positive dice, whilst the difficult is set by the GM. I can't say I mind that; whilst having 'good dice' and 'bad dice' makes a certain amount of aesthetic sense, setting the difficulty in EotE is determining how many dice to roll to determine how many successes you need on the other dice you're rolling at the same time.

"All checks in this system have a biased-but-ultimately-random difficulty that you don't know until after you commit to the check and have already irrevocably spent destiny points" is one of the less appealing elements of the system to me.

 

Quote

You might as well just flip a coin

I don't get this; you know the difficulty. Your dice pool is dependent on your skills, stats and assistance. After you've rolled, a competent character usually has the option to succeed unless it's a very hard check, but the questions become 'are you prepared to soak up enough exhaustion (strife) and missed opportunities (by dice-not-taken) to do so?'.

The 4e raises system is 'how much risk are you prepared to accept', whilst 5e is more 'are you prepared to accept the consequences of succeeding'. Both, to me, are interesting mechanics but personally I prefer the latter.

Quote

Gaining Strife through the Narrative Dice makes sense in dramatically intense scenes, like combat or deep courtly intrigue, but it makes zero sense in downtime sequences or where emotional stress should not be commonplace. Worst of all, it punishes players for attempting to do just about anything. The Unmasking mechanic provides some control over reducing their character’s Strife, but doing so is always costly and has the potential to sidetrack the entire narrative. Strife will likely be gained on every single roll, making every situation effectively a psychological combat against a world trying to upset them.

Depends on your view. I see strife as a mix of emotional trauma and physical and mental exhaustion; in a conflict scene it's pretty much bob on (as you say), but it feels fine to me in narrative scenes where there might be a check for 'forced march' or something similar; if your fitness checks required you to keep a butt-load of strife results to succeed a the check to arrive at the battle, then starting the conflict scene with a slack handful of strife and saying "hang on, let me have a breather" and spending a turn or two doing calming breath before going "right, where were we" and drawing blades doesn't seem narratively wrong.

Becoming compromised in a narrative scene is fine, too - you're exhausted, annoyed, and hence less effective after you've made too many checks over the course of a scene. It's not a bad 'clock' mechanism for players who, given their druthers, will spend half an hour doing everything they can possibly think of in preparation before setting out on the next scene.

Unmasking, as written, doesn't really make sense in narrative scenes with no opponent so much as in a conflict, though. Although 'collapse from fatigue' could be a perfectly valid outburst, I guess.

Quote

 

This dissonance grows even sharper when you consider how Strife interacts with Ninjō vs Giri, the heroic struggle of human desire (Ninjō) against the demands of one’s sworn duty (Giri). Ninjō vs giri is presented in the Beta as the root of Samurai Drama, and I was very interested when it was first brought up as a worthwhile inclusion. As someone who has consumed a vast amount of media over the years regarding the subject of samurai drama, and heroic drama in general, I would absolutely agree that it is central to the genre.

Why then is it so irrelevant to a system clearly inspired by it?

If a character encounters their ninjō or giri during a session of play, they gain Strife if they don’t adhere to this code. Yet while the Strife gained isn’t insignificant, there’s also literally no incentive to go the opposite way. As such, Strife as it currently exists is there solely to punish the characters for participating in the narrative

 

Now this I agree with. The strife drop of honour rank or glory rank isn't huge and largely feels more faff than it's worth. The discord wheel is, to all intents and purposes, "this week the storyline is about you two" which is fine, but makes the pivotal scene mechanic "no! It's about meeeee!" feel a bit petty (I don't really see the point). I don't know why it was introduced at the last minute. And yes, the discord wheel is like a lot of 'storyline generating tools' it's not bad to have in theory but if you're a GM hopefully you already have a storyline and already planned to challenge the character's motivations. It's a lot like the SW obligation/duty/whatever rolls.

As far as I'm concerned, hitting people with honour and glory changes (+ or -), which in turn lead to extra advantages or disadvantages, should be the big effect.

Part of me wonders if ninjo might have been better sitting where "passion" is; your ninjo is ultimately 'your heart's desire' and what you'd do given a free choice and if no rules or obstacles prevented you. Hence, 'pursue your ninjo' really feels like it should be a passion almost by default.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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