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Strife and Unmasking Article is up

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2 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Okay now, when the article went full "Silly player, you don't get to determine how your character feels!" I laughed out loud :lol:

When did the article do that?  You have complete control over how your character feels and how he expresses it.  You also control how much strife you take and how to deal with that strife.

It only said that a player's feelings may be disconnected from what the character is feeling.  Which is completely true.  

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2 hours ago, deraforia said:

Please enlighten me with a quote from the article, because I'm not seeing that in there.

It is the first paragraph in the How To Get The Most Out Of Your Strife section, I suspect. Honestly, most of that section, but the first and the last paragraphs in particular, can be singled out for being patronizing. 

Edited by sndwurks

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Please remember that the article isn't just aimed at experienced role-players.  What may be obvious to you, and sound patronising when explained, could be a revelation to someone who has never played an RPG.  Possibly it may come as a revelation to some people who have played particular RPGs which don't ever deal with this sort of thing.

I would say that the (vast?) majority of us in this forum fall into the experienced camp, and thus don't really need to get the full explanation.  I imagine that the various "An introduction to Role-playing" sections of many rulebooks would seem facile and patronising as well, but we don't judge them because they're not for us.

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Honestly, it is simply a design choice that the developers of the new L5R RPG have made. L5R needed some kind of social / mental HP system for its intrigue scenes, and the Strife system works for that. It also works to express a world where people are trying incredibly hard to appear to be unfeeling, uncaring servants of Heaven, when they are merely human. You have flawed, passionate creatures trying and failing to be perfect. 

The problem I am seeing frequently with Strife is that it, as a mechanic, removes Player Agency to choose their character’s state of mind. There is no reward built into the system, and the Strife mechanic is a solely negative mechanic. It makes some dice results more costly than others, and makes your character weigh immediate success over long term risk. Every Strife counts, after all, because being Compromised when taking a Critical Hit has a much higher chance to kill you.

It is a thematic choice of design, removing player agency when it comes to their character’s emotions and rewards characters who do not take actions or choose to fail. 

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It's not as if that's a particularly new idea, just the way it's been implemented.  Vampire, for example, required you to make rolls to avoid becoming enraged or afraid in certain circumstances.  That also removes player agency when it comes to their character's emotions, and has been doing so for over quarter of a century.

However, I was mostly responding to the assertion that this was a patronising article and Atomaki's rather unflattering parody of it.  While I am happy to debate the pros and cons of the mechanic and accept that some people don't like it, I felt that those comments were not particularly accurate or necessary.

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7 hours ago, deraforia said:

Please enlighten me with a quote from the article, because I'm not seeing that in there.

Here, this is the part that made me laugh:

Quote

Just as fatigue helps you envision physical exhaustion that you are (hopefully) not experiencing personally, strife is a meter of the emotions your character is feeling that you might not always share.

The "How to Get the Most out of Your Strife" section in general was also a fun read.

 

46 minutes ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

It's not as if that's a particularly new idea, just the way it's been implemented.  Vampire, for example, required you to make rolls to avoid becoming enraged or afraid in certain circumstances.  That also removes player agency when it comes to their character's emotions, and has been doing so for over quarter of a century.

1

In Vampire, you had the Beast to worry about, a separate entity in your character. I don't think it is comparable with Strife, unless we assume that Rokugani samurai are schizophrenic now. 

46 minutes ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

However, I was mostly responding to the assertion that this was a patronising article and Atomaki's rather unflattering parody of it.

1

What can I say? I'm not a fan of the designers' approach for justifying the Strife mechanic. Being this ****-bent on telling everyone that the mechanic is fine and totally justified because EMOTIONS kinda asks for not being taken seriously. It is way too much fuss for my tastes  :P.

Edited by AtoMaki

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The most telling line about how FFG views Strife is probably in the Roll and Keep article: "Sam Stewart suggested that a result (eventually strife) could result in resource depletion rather than more narrative results."

Strife really runs the risk of being a game of resource management more so than a tool that informs roleplay and that seems to be by design. The biggest problems with the mechanic are being tied to the dice and the constant bookkeeping.

The unmasking article looks to me like FFG is trying to get out ahead of the inevitable negative reaction players will have to strife. Sadly, the examples in the article are more inline with what you should be getting with the push and pull of a character's Ninjō and Giri while the mechanic itself is more the result of rolling the dice.

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It seems that how Strife will actually work in the game depends a lot on the mindset of the gm and players. It reminds me of the Song of Ice and Fire rpg (Green Ronin) where players can lose control of characters as a result of social encounters (get angry, give up, get seduced). I hadn't thought about Vampire in years, but that's a good example too (and I believe that the Beast is not a seperate entity, but the dark side and strong animalistic impulses of the vampire, kind of like normal people who are enraged or terrified or starving). Strife could devolve into a purely mechanical stat, but used within the spirit of the rules, it can encourage creativity in roleplaying (there is a lot of truth that limitation is the mother of creativity). 

It also seems to be a way to reward social-oriented characters instead of combat-monsters. In a Song of Ice and Fire campaign, we had a min-maxer who dumped all his points into combat and physical skills (he was a terror), but nothing into social abilities. I found it amusing to watch his character get tricked, out-maneuvered, and seduced. It made sense that he was not in control of his character at all times because he chose to ignore his intelligence, self-disciple, and social acumen. Just like in the real world, the toughest fighters don't actually run things, and people make all sorts of stupid decisions based on emotion or desire. 

Anyway, this is just one perspective. I think that a creative gaming group can make Strife work as it seems to be intended. 

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5 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

Please remember that the article isn't just aimed at experienced role-players.  What may be obvious to you, and sound patronising when explained, could be a revelation to someone who has never played an RPG.  Possibly it may come as a revelation to some people who have played particular RPGs which don't ever deal with this sort of thing.

I would say that the (vast?) majority of us in this forum fall into the experienced camp, and thus don't really need to get the full explanation.  I imagine that the various "An introduction to Role-playing" sections of many rulebooks would seem facile and patronising as well, but we don't judge them because they're not for us.

Another point to consider is that there are a number of experienced role-players that if they could get away with it never have their samurai characters 'break character' and always be the perfectly stoic samurai that society expects of them rather than being human and having moments of public emotional outbursts in highly stressful situations (even if the player themselves

Yes, there are L5R players that in the previous editions were willing to suffer the Honor penalties for the breach of social etiquette that came with 'breaking character' (when the GM remembered to apply them), but more often than not the players simply declared, "Nope, my samurai is not showing any emotion."  It's not unlike the common and frequently recurring issue of players deciding that their characters are effectively immune to the results of social skill checks made by NPCs.

Thus, the strife mechanic/resource is one way to approach that, and is an uncommon enough thing that it probably does need to be addressed.  At the very least, it's been refined from the original beta, in that hitting one's Composure threshold doesn't take you out of the scene, and instead just limits one's dice options.  Plus, there is a mechanical benefit for "breaking character" in that the character removes all strife (going by the rules in the beginner box at least), something that I'm not sure was in the original beta rules.

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1 minute ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

Plus, there is a mechanical benefit for "breaking character" in that the character removes all strife (going by the rules in the beginner box at least), something that I'm not sure was in the original beta rules.

 

It was.

Then, as I said elsewhere, Strife is not such a big hurdle as people (both the designers and the fans) make it out to be. It is easy to circumvent, its importance has a huge disparity depending on your dice roll habits, and its effects are extremely hit-or-miss. Managing it is a pain in the butt tho, especially if you are not ready to game the system. 

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The mechanic also reminds me a lot of Limit Break in Exalted, which I think they did a really good job with in v3. I’m reminded of how my Zenith priest had the limit break of Contempt of the Virtuous, and proceeded to try to convert a whole city to my cult while in the middle of a high stakes negotiation...

So far I’ve had two characters in the group I’m GMing unmask. While we were using the character folios, I had them answer about 30 more questions about their character including more detail of their “passions.” This made the unmasking feel a lot more natural. For example, Bayushi Kyo attempted to poison Mei Lin in the sake house (don’t ask why), and while he had five successes to discretely place the poison, he also unmasked causing him to burst into uncontrollable laughter. After which, he decided that in the midst of the chaos he couldn’t tell which was his drink or hers... it added some fun narrative stakes. I like the idea of working with the PC to determine the best outcome of the unmasking. I think the more unmaskings, the more opportunities to complicate the stakes. The more characters draw connections to the world ie other PCs, NPCs, etiquette...etc, the more fun the break.

As long as PCs don’t become preoccupied with managing strife as a bad thing, I think it is a lot of fun.

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4 minutes ago, sgawrit said:

As long as PCs don’t become preoccupied with managing strife as a bad thing, I think it is a lot of fun.

 

This is definitely a way to go (we did this too!), but I feel like it kinda goes against the intent behind the mechanic. 

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New player and fan here! I must say I never played L5R, although I've eyed at the rules of 4th edition, and even tried to make a character. But starting with the 5th edition beta, I've become much more interested, especially for all these new systems and strife in particular.

I like it so much that I made a rather complex cross-over of D&D 5e and L5R 5e, using L5R dice and strife. I like the fact that characters might choose to "succeed less to avoid strife", and I think it can give a lot of ideas for narration of combat and checks. We still didn't use unmasking, but the fact that (if things didn't change from the beta) you can't choose to keep dice with strife anymore, after you reached your limit, gives the players this nice choice: do I lose some time trying to "rebalance myself", or I keep fighting/talking/acting at half of my capacity?
I really love the system. Opportunity is more tricky, because to be used right, it has to be fully ingrained in the system. So I can't usually make up on the fly what opportunity can be used for, when casting a spell (something that L5R has in the rules, so you don't have to make it up).

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Another benefit that they include that I don't remember from the beta is that after unmasking your next roll's TN is reduced by 1. I really like that change. 

In practice I've noticed the simple addition of allowing an opportunity to remove a strife has made a big impact as well. I don't know if that's something only for the beginner scenario or not, but I intend to keep it (except in fire stance) for my regular game.

And frankly, I do get tired of the perfectly stoic and inhuman characters that some of my players like to play. Not all of my players, but enough that they can make winter court a very boring affair.  Seriously, your crab bushi will NOT stand near the door not talking to anyone without consequences lol.

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1 hour ago, Corg Ironside said:

Another benefit that they include that I don't remember from the beta is that after unmasking your next roll's TN is reduced by 1. I really like that change. 

As do I

1 hour ago, Corg Ironside said:

In practice I've noticed the simple addition of allowing an opportunity to remove a strife has made a big impact as well. I don't know if that's something only for the beginner scenario or not, but I intend to keep it (except in fire stance) for my regular game.

Was in beta updates 1.0 - 4.0 , so it's not new. I expect it will survive to the core.

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1 hour ago, Corg Ironside said:

Another benefit that they include that I don't remember from the beta is that after unmasking your next roll's TN is reduced by 1. I really like that change. 

Now that is very interesting...

1 hour ago, Corg Ironside said:

In practice I've noticed the simple addition of allowing an opportunity to remove a strife has made a big impact as well. I don't know if that's something only for the beginner scenario or not, but I intend to keep it (except in fire stance) for my regular game.

  If I remember the Beta correctly (which is unlikely), a character in Water Stance can spend an Opportunity to take a single action that doesn't require a roll (can we just call it a Minor Action or something?).  One such action is to take a quick moment to recover either one Fatigue or one Strain.  And if you're in any Stance other than Fire, you can use 2 Opportunity to do the same.

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Beta rules had it that you could take extra no-roll requiring action in Water Stance, which allowed you to take a Calming Breath, which indeed reduced Strife. Additionally, Earth and Water both offered Opportunities to reduce your Strife.

 

=1TN to your next roll is appreciated. Early beta had a similar mechanic which reduced your social TN until end of scene, which while cool, was somewhat too much. I like the idea of -1 TN to next roll, as it makes the timing of unmaskings matter - I totally can see a Crab Duelist built around triggering a Finishing Blow early, negating it using their technique, and then Unmasking to make counter attack of their own deadlier.

Seems like a nice come-back mechanic.

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19 minutes ago, The Grand Falloon said:

And if you're in any Stance other than Fire, you can use 2 Opportunity to do the same.

 

You have to spend only one Opp to do that if you are in Earth or Water Stance. If you are in Water Stance, then you can spend multiple Opps and remove 1 Strife per Opp spent. While in Earth Stance, you can also spend multiple Opps to remove 1 Strife from a character per Opp spent. Also, if you are in Fire Stance, then you can still spend 2 Opps to remove 1 Strain by buying the Earth Opp. 

The -1 TN does sound nice, but I feel like it might increase the problem with "untimely" Unmaskings and the hilarity factor. It is one thing that quipping at the oni makes you feel better, but then suddenly finding it easier to hit said oni might be a bit too much. 

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It's only hilarious if you choose it to be. You can narrate it as quipping at an oni, just as you can narrate attacking it as standing on your hands and hitting it with your feet. There are plenty of ways to narrate -1 TN to hit an oni due to surge of emotions, without being silly or out of the genre. 

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I dunno but there are situations when your options are limited when it comes to narration. When you are fighting with an oni, swallow a lot of Strife with a check, then decide to Unmask with Inappropriate Remark, then the narrative kinda breaks. The quipping was just an example, but one might be hard-pressed to narrate what kind of 'inappropriate remark' the character can make in the presence of an oni. It can't go well either way. 

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