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EmpireErik

# of skills in basic game vs. ragular game

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Are there really going to be so few skills in the game? 

I am casually reading the Basic rules and I want to be sure I am reading them correctly.

For each skill, you can use a different approach (via a Ring, Fire, Air, etc.) so as to try to produce different outcomes in how you use a skill. 

However, within the Martial Skill Group there are only 6 skills (Fitness, Martial Arts (Melee), Martial Arts (Ranged), Martial Arts (Unarmed), Meditation and Tactics)?

Other skill groups also seem similarly bleak.   Are these skills really all encompassing?   It seems Fitness would grant skill in everything from horseback riding, to leaping from rooftop to roof top, to juggling, to tight-rope walking, etc. 

The Social Skill Group had 4 skills. 

I hope L5R is not going to be like DnD5E, and what seems to be the upcoming Pathfinder 2, meaning very basis and general.  4thEd., seemed to have more skills and katas if I remember right.   I did not play the Beta so I did not see where they intended to go with this set of rules. 

Any ideas about future skills? 

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Yeah, the Skill list is not the brightest part of the rules, so to speak, and there seems to be no change from its Beta version. 

Even after playing the Beta quite intensively, I'm still curious how certain choices regarding the Skill list were proposed. For example, what was up with making Seafaring a separate Skill but leaving Horsemanship/Survival/Stealth in the dust? 

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Based on the consistency from the beta to the b box, I expect to see the same b box skill list in the core book, with the addition of optional skill subtypes that we saw in the beta.

I’ve also been noodling an optional house rule: +1 skill die subskills for 1 XP, max 1 die per subskill, possibly serving as a “down payment” on the skill, don’t count towards school rank. So a Hida with MA: Melee at skill rank 2 might take Heavy Weapons as a subskill. When she wields her testubo, she rolls 3 skill dice instead of two. Her 1 XP Heavy Weapons subskill is a downpayment on her MA: Melee skill, so if she pays one more point she has MA: Melee at skill rank 3 (and her subskill disappears). The “down payment” idea might be too complicated though.

If you want a LOT more skills, it’s pretty easy to adjust the cost of rings and techniques proportionally to skills. Want twice as many skills? Double the cost of rings and techniques.

From the perspective of a house ruling, I’d rather have a short skills list than a long list. Makes it easy to create differentiation where I want it.

4e’s long list has some kind of bizarre differentiation... Sincerity isn’t part of Acting? Spears, Polearms, and Warfans all need to be different, even though the Ninjitsu covers both shuriken and blowguns? A single investigation skill makes you a human lie detector AND able to spot everything in your environment? Most of it was fine, but there are a few strange examples...

 

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I'm not expecting to see any more skills in the main game.  I think this is probably a good thing.  The number of skills in the system has been trending upwards steadily since the original rulebook, and I felt it had become ridiculous.  It appears that the notable differentiation is going to be done with techniques - many of the ones we've seen expect specific equipment (weapons, or suchlike) and what you're wielding will depend on what kata you know.

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Guys, less skills is a direct consequence of approaches. Many subskills or skills are now elemental approaches of more generic skills. 

You basically have five different skills for every skill in the game. 

Stealth is an Air approach of either Fitness or Survival, and with Courtesy you have Intimidate, Deception, Persuasion and more, in one skill, depending on the approach. 

It's the very beauty of the system. 

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7 hours ago, rrockman said:

Guys, less skills is a direct consequence of approaches. Many subskills or skills are now elemental approaches of more generic skills. 

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The problem is that this is true for maybe three "umbrella" Skills (Fitness, Courtesy, and Survival). Then there are Skills without these "Approach Subskills" like every Artisan and Martial Arts Skills. Then there are the anomalies in the system like Sentiment (an extremely specific Skill) and Seafaring (an extremely redundant Skill). Thus simply saying that "we have Skills times Approaches number of actual Skills" is pretty misleading, in my opinion.

It is also worth noting that with the Approach system, you should be able to do things with the unlisted Rings too. For example, the Air Martial Approach (Feint) does not really resonate with stealth too well as per the Approach description - the Earth Martial Approach (Withstand) hits a lot closer. So yet again, it is a bit more complicated than "Air + Fitness = Stealth". 

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14 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

The problem is that this is true for maybe three "umbrella" Skills (Fitness, Courtesy, and Survival). Then there are Skills without these "Approach Subskills" like every Artisan and Martial Arts Skills. Then there are the anomalies in the system like Sentiment (an extremely specific Skill) and Seafaring (an extremely redundant Skill). Thus simply saying that "we have Skills times Approaches number of actual Skills" is pretty misleading, in my opinion.

 It is also worth noting that with the Approach system, you should be able to do things with the unlisted Rings too. For example, the Air Martial Approach (Feint) does not really resonate with stealth too well as per the Approach description - the Earth Martial Approach (Withstand) hits a lot closer. So yet again, it is a bit more complicated than "Air + Fitness = Stealth". 

Well, about redundant and specific I don't agree much. Sentiment is anything but specific to me, although I concede that there are anomalies in its approaches (I have to constantly look at the rules about it, basically). Artisan and Martial skills work well with approaches IMO.

I agree though that it's not a simple system, that's why I like it. Stealth can be earth when it's about patience, Air when it's about misleading or being subtle, maybe even Water when it's about moving stealthily through obstacles. Maybe even Void when it's about disappearing in a crowd. Just not Fire. But this means basically there are many nuances of Stealth, just like many nuances of many others. Using the system I noticed that basically every character will be able to at least try to perform any task, just not in the same way as others. This is the beauty of the system, although depending on what you look for, it might be a bug instead of a feature.

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9 hours ago, rrockman said:

 Sentiment is anything but specific to me

1

You can use it to read people. One-third of the old Investigation Skill, and the writers told us in the Beta that they thought the Investigation Skill was too specific to make it for the new edition. That's something if you ask me.

I would be the happiest if Sentiment was more like an "Intuitive Perception" Skill and thus have a wide and diverse variety of uses, but no such luck. Also, just for note, but I wouldn't have a problem with Seafaring either if the other "one-note" Skills would have their separate entries too. Why Seafaring and not Horsemanship, Defense, or Stealth? I'm asking!

9 hours ago, rrockman said:

I agree though that it's not a simple system, that's why I like it. Stealth can be earth when it's about patience, Air when it's about misleading or being subtle, maybe even Water when it's about moving stealthily through obstacles. Maybe even Void when it's about disappearing in a crowd. Just not Fire. 

 

The problem with this is that Stealth is not a Skill by itself. You can't make a Stealth + Earth Skill Check to cautiously sneak past a guard. And the listed applications of Fitness + Earth only allows one: you can either move cautiously or sneak in one place. I'm the biggest fan of using every Approach with every Skill; I even participated in an argument about it, starting from here - you should read it, I even threw around an example for how you can Stealth with Overwhelm :) .

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I'm personally using Sentiment as a sort of practical-psychology skill. It's understanding how people work. What makes them tick. "Anatomy of a human mind", so to speak. 

As for Fire-Stealthing - I would allow it for bold, "burst of movement" acts of stealth. Like, you wait for the moment when guard is picking his nose and not looking at that one spot for 3 breaths, AND YOU RUN! LIKE CRAZY! "Overpowering", as in, "meeting it head on". 

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I don't know, I don't see a problem with Stealth being covered by Approaches. It's the epitome of a way of doing something else, instead of being something of its own.

Defense is just very much against my playstyle. 

Horsemanship I kind of agree, because although it's basically included in Survival, it seems counterintuitive to me that the two should be connected. So I guess I would just add it. Remember you can always add skills. I guess it would be a Martial skill. 

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21 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

I would be the happiest if Sentiment was more like an "Intuitive Perception" Skill and thus have a wide and diverse variety of uses, but no such luck. Also, just for note, but I wouldn't have a problem with Seafaring either if the other "one-note" Skills would have their separate entries too. Why Seafaring and not Horsemanship, Defense, or Stealth? I'm asking!

When we talk about specificity/breadth of a skill, we also have to consider frequency of use. If a skill is both broadly applicable and used frequently, it’s quite powerful. If a skill is used infrequently and very specific, why bother?

In my group’s playtests, sentiment *felt* like it was sufficiently useful for how often we needed it. It’s the general reading people skill, which is important in a setting where a lot of things go unsaid. And yes, it’s 1/3 of the old Investigate skill... but that skill was both broadly applicable and used all the time (at least at my table).

To me, it makes sense that survival and seafaring fulfill a lot of the same functions, but on land and sea respectively: survive, travel, and use/care for your transportation. Doesn’t seem like a one-off skill to me... but maybe one-off is broader for you? 

Buuuuuut using a horse in battle is super different than cross country travel. So you could take martial horsemanship out of survival and put it... where? Fitness? Pretty much every Bushi will have decent fitness, which means pretty much every bushi will be stepping on Unicorn toes (hooves?), unless there’s some more unicorn-only techniques related to horsemanship in the core book. You could make horsemanship/riding its own skill, but then it’s very specific, and probably used very little compared to other skills (this was my group’s issue in 4e). 

With such chunky (as in “not granular” TNs) in this edition, I’m OK that there’s no plain defense skill. (Plus it would just make combat longer. Which is also why I hate healing skills/abilities that are usable in combat, but that’s a rant for a different thread :P).

Stealth is an interesting one... gotta think more on that. 

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The core book did almost actively encourage you to create campaign-specific subskills, but I do like the broad-brush ring/skill 'matrix', because I haven't found something I can't 'pidgeonhole'.

It's a bit like aptitudes in the later 40k RPGs; rather than being tied to 'you can do this but not this' classes, stuff got a bit cheaper in XP if you had one aptitude and a lot cheaper if you have both.

In L5R, any 'task' that would rate a specific skill in a normal RPG is a more-or-less-unique combination of skill and ring.

 

22 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

The problem with this is that Stealth is not a Skill by itself. You can't make a Stealth + Earth Skill Check to cautiously sneak past a guard. And the listed applications of Fitness + Earth only allows one: you can either move cautiously or sneak in one place. I'm the biggest fan of using every Approach with every Skill; I even participated in an argument about it, starting from here - you should read it, I even threw around an example for how you can Stealth with Overwhelm :) .

Exactly so. Stealth isn't a skill because unless you have a cloaking device attached to your armour, you don't 'stealth'.

If your primary goal is "don't be spotted" (rather than "I do a thing without people noticing" - where you do the thing and spend air opportunities on stealth), then the check depends on how you're not being spotted.

You deceive someone by pretending to be an ally or a background nobody (social skills), or clamber around their field of view (fitness) or disguise yourself (somewhere between skulduggery and design depending on the disguise), or....whatever plan you come up with, involves doing something. Even if it's hiding in shadows actively doing nothing (something like void  & skulduggery or meditation?).

 

It's the same as 'defence' not being a skill. Because you don't have a magic katana-repelling forcefield, being any harder to hit than a man-sized sack of potatoes requires you to actively do something. Guard actions, being in air stance, striking-as-earth, whatever; defensive bonuses are there, they just don't (aside from armour) come for free.

 

 

 

It's a situation that I think rather a lot of people in the forum were in occasionally violent agreement about; the whole 'you can use any ring' thing.

You can't use any ring to do [thing], because the approaches are ring-locked; 'I inspect the [significant thing I know is significant]' is always air because analyse is air.

But you can achieve most effects - "I get the piece of information I need to know about the significant thing" (which is not quite the same thing) - with most rings if there is a logical way to do so. The distinction between the effect (I now know a thing) and the 'normal' method (I scrutinise the object) is an important distinction.

Not all of them are necessarily available all the time (you can't recall something you cannot logically have ever known) and how strict the GM is with this will vary from table to table but if you have a genuinely sensible, creative idea which fits the resources you have and the environment you're in, there will be a way to do something useful with any ring.

 

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8 hours ago, sidescroller said:

When we talk about specificity/breadth of a skill, we also have to consider frequency of use. If a skill is both broadly applicable and used frequently, it’s quite powerful. If a skill is used infrequently and very specific, why bother?

That's a question with Seafaring. Why bother? Why not just fold the whole thing into Labor with the option of Sub-Skill it if you want to play a Mantis? 

Also, when I said that Seafaring was one-note, I meant the very narrow selection of scenarios it can be applied. Not seeing a ship in the entire career of your character is easy. Not getting on a horse, ever, is a lot harder. And unlike with Horsemanship, you can't really say with Seafaring that "ok, my character will use this all the time from now on" because the party goes inland and the ships must be left behind (on the other hand, you can totally take a horse onto a ship). 

7 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Exactly so. Stealth isn't a skill because unless you have a cloaking device attached to your armour, you don't 'stealth'.

The exact same argument can be leveled against Seafaring. Unless you have some neural control device that merges you with your ship, you don't "seafare". You might do some heavy work to repair or maintain the vessel (Labor), navigate your way through a landscape wholly lacking infrastructure (Survival), or do shady business in the docks (Commerce or Skulduggery). Games is in a similar situation, and so is Smithing. 

So why Stealth? 

 

Please note that I'm not arguing for making Stealth its own Skill, only the weird inconsistency in the Skill list. 

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The only skills I really feel missing are horsemanship, stealth, and sincerity. I prefer a list in the 20-30 discrete skills range.

On 9/10/2018 at 8:49 AM, AtoMaki said:

Also, when I said that Seafaring was one-note, I meant the very narrow selection of scenarios it can be applied. Not seeing a ship in the entire career of your character is easy. Not getting on a horse, ever, is a lot harder. And unlike with Horsemanship, you can't really say with Seafaring that "ok, my character will use this all the time from now on" because the party goes inland and the ships must be left behind (on the other hand, you can totally take a horse onto a ship). 

I suspect that was so that everyone would have the core travel competencies (horsemanship, distance walking/hiking, foraging) for only 1 skill spend.

Seafaring isn't the labor. It's the navigation - "driving the boat" and finding one's way. And it applies to rivercraft - it's worth noting that the rivers on the map are most likely ship-navigable by the junks of the Crane, Crab, and Mantis. So, it's less easy to never see one than one might think.

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4 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

Seafaring isn't the labor. It's the navigation - "driving the boat" and finding one's way. And it applies to rivercraft - it's worth noting that the rivers on the map are most likely ship-navigable by the junks of the Crane, Crab, and Mantis. So, it's less easy to never see one than one might think.

One of my players wanted to tie a special knot recently, and I came really close to having him roll Seafaring for it.

But the scenario had absolutely nothing to do with a boat or the sea, so I gave him the option of either rolling Earth to remember how the knot was done, or Fire to confidently assert he totally knew how to do the knot - LIKE THIS (with a higher TN).

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Just now, Hida Jitenno said:

One of my players wanted to tie a special knot recently, and I came really close to having him roll Seafaring for it.

But the scenario had absolutely nothing to do with a boat or the sea, so I gave him the option of either rolling Earth to remember how the knot was done, or Fire to confidently assert he totally knew how to do the knot - LIKE THIS (with a higher TN).

I'd have said seafaring or survival for a knot whichever is better. Survival being more a travel skill, anything i'd use Travel for in The One Ring, I'd shove into survival in L5R. I wish it had dawned on me during the beta...

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1 hour ago, WHW said:

Seafaring did make me go "wat", true. Mantis catering, I bet! ;) Its probably the only skill we will never roll, as majority of our games are heavily in-land. 

Maemikake has ports. That's almost to the shinomen. The rivers on the map are ones that are navigable, because the ones inland I've seen maps for have significant ports if on the rivers. Think Yang-Tse, Mississippi, Ohio, or Orinoco rivers.

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3 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

The only skills I really feel missing are horsemanship, stealth, and sincerity. I prefer a list in the 20-30 discrete skills range.

I suspect that was so that everyone would have the core travel competencies (horsemanship, distance walking/hiking, foraging) for only 1 skill spend.

Seafaring isn't the labor. It's the navigation - "driving the boat" and finding one's way. And it applies to rivercraft - it's worth noting that the rivers on the map are most likely ship-navigable by the junks of the Crane, Crab, and Mantis. So, it's less easy to never see one than one might think.

If I count correctly, the current list has 25, which is dead in centre of your preferred range.

The problem with Horsemanship is that you then need 2 skills to represent the Unicorn schtick - Horsemanship for riding and Survival for being nomadic.  This would lead to great sameyness of the Family skills and School skills.  Stealth presents the same problem with the Scorpion and Skulduggery.  Sincerity starts to make Courtiers require more skills than Bushi to be good at their job.

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7 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

If I count correctly, the current list has 25, which is dead in centre of your preferred range.

The problem with Horsemanship is that you then need 2 skills to represent the Unicorn schtick - Horsemanship for riding and Survival for being nomadic.  This would lead to great sameyness of the Family skills and School skills.  Stealth presents the same problem with the Scorpion and Skulduggery.  Sincerity starts to make Courtiers require more skills than Bushi to be good at their job.

In the last case, I don't see that as a real problem; in my prior games, sincerity was used more by Bushi to hide their lack of other social skills and/or martial competencies they personally lacked. To be honest, if I were to split those out, I'd add one skill level to each clan... from a choice list... and put Sincerity in social, stealth in martial, and Horsemanship in trade.

  • Crab: one trade skill (Hida tend to labor, as do Kaiu; Yasuki tend to commerce; Hiruma survival or skullduggery.
  • Crane: sincerity or horsemanship
  • Dragon: Theology or Sentiment
  • Lion: sincerity or tactics
  • Phoenix: Sincerity or Scholar
  • Scorpion: sincerity or stealth
  • Unicorn: Horsemanship or survival
  • Mantis: Seamanship or labor
  • Imperial: Sincerity or Command
  • Wasp: Sincerity or survival

And yes, the game as is is pretty sweet in my preference level. I think some of the names are poorly chosen.

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