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A Better Strife System - Unmasking, Being Compromised, Etc

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This is the result of some of the discussions regarding Strife and my recent article. Since I do not believe in just complaining when you can be constructive, here is what we came up with. 

1) Remove Strife as an HP system. Strife does not accumulate. Remove the mechanics which relate to it building up or being lowered. We will find out what to do with those later, but that is step one. 

2) Strife now works like it does on Spell Technique checks, except on everything. So long as you are keeping no more than 2 Strife on a roll, you are fine.

3) If you keep 3 or more Strife on a roll, you become Compromised. Your character shows emotion slightly, just a crack in their demeanor. Maybe they close a door harder than intended. Maybe they shed a tear while trying to be sincere. Maybe they become visibly angry on the field of battle. 

4) There are no inherent penalties or benefits to being Compromised, mechanically. You are just showing some emotion, which could be a loss of Glory or Honor in the wrong setting. However, there are Techniques and Schools which focus on this. Matsu Berserkers and Ikoma Bards love getting Compromised, as they use their emotions to power their schools. Bayushi Courtiers can tear you apart if you get Compromised around them in court. But beyond things keyed to it, being Compromised does not impair the character’s skill. It just might be shameful and potentially vulnerable. 

5) Restoring your On takes an Action which does not require a roll. You just recover from being Compromised. 

6) Optionally, you can choose to Unmask at any time. If your character unmasks, they cast aside all semblance of controlled demeanor. They give in to a screaming rage in battle. They grovel before their lord in failure. They tear their hair and clothes in grief. This is highly unseemly, but also incredibly powerful, allowing a samurai to tap into their pent up human desires fully. They sacrifice a full rank of Honor (or the like), and for the remainder of the scene, they can use Strife icons as extra Successes or Opportunities (whichever Fire Stance does not do). Doing this at an inappropriate time also causes Glory loss. 


The advantage to this system is that it very much takes the struggle of Desire vs Duty and puts it front and center. Every time you roll the dice, you will likely have the option to just... give in, show emotion, and achieve a greater success than holding back like a seemly samurai should. The chances of you accidentally showing emotion is at once less predictable, but more avoidable. Also, it makes keeping Strife icons less likely to kill you (due to being Compromised and being unable to keep the dice necessary to survive a Critical Strike). 

It rewards choosing Duty. It also rewards choosing Desire. It also gives samurai basically a Limit Break mechanic, by letting the Unmask and tap into their pent up emotion for more power. 

Again, this is just some spitballing and it is still a very early thought. However, what do people think?

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