Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
persondude

Wrapping my head around Ring approaches

Recommended Posts

I'm new to the setting, and I love the flavor of using rings instead of traditional brawn, charisma, etc. That said, I'm having trouble differentiating some of the approaches, or figuring out how to apply them in certain situations. It seems like there's some overlap between fire and water for example, as both are "strong" approaches; and how would you use the fire approach to, say, perform a tea ceremony? Staying super stoic in social situations sounds like you'd only ever be able to use earth (or maybe air?). Then there's the fact that certain approaches sound like they're required for certain activities: using fire is specified to compose a poem or otherwise create new art, for example, although I can see how a less passionate, more academic approach might use earth.

I've only read the beginner box at this point, so maybe I just haven't got far enough yet for things to become clear, but if anyone has links to a big cache of examples, that'd be cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The beta document, on DrivethruRPG, has a list for each skill what the different approaches do.

If I'm remembering right, Poetry (Earth) would represent you recalling a poem you heard before, and retelling it. Fire is the innovative approach, it doesn't necessarily have to be passionate, just new.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/6/Fantasy-Flight-Games/subcategory/36_28812/Legend-of-the-Five-Rings-5th-Edition&affiliate_id=210075

Edited by Hida Jitenno

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also a big list of approaches for each skill in the Book 3 rulebook of the beginner box. Certain actions are limited to certain rings and it is up to GM discretion. For example, the adventure book specifies the tea ceremony should be a Void check. The act of performing the tea ceremony is simply just trying to perform it correctly. 

Edited by ElSuave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would argue that, without passion, any art you create is probly going to be either dull or uninteresting in any situation aside from riding a fad, and so Fire is the necessary approach to face a lower TN.

You could convince me that, using the Hero's Journey as a guide to lay out your story is a water approach to writing a new story, or that remembering the glory of your fallen ancestors is an earth approach to writing a haiku about their deeds, however I would likely adjust the TN upwards since in the first case you are distracted by changing enough to avoid blandness or plagiarism and in the second case you are building from recalled facts and adding flowery language, which makes it a challenge to not come off as stilted.

I'm not saying this is the only way I would approach this situation, or that you would/should agree with me. I'm just laying down some examples of how I GM the rings/approach system.

 

Edit because I recalled a good example of this: There was one adventure (maybe a topaz championship or winter court?) where the characters are set to painting and all the gathered representatives present their works to the host. The Hida NPC paints a picture of a mother bird safely feeding her young while a bloody battle between Crab and Shadowland creatures rages in the background. The Hida's painting is regarded as droll because the meaning is obvious, and the technique isn't innovative.(the subject matter isn't polite either, but that's not the point) That's kind of an earth approach to painting. All his picture does is say "Remember, the Crab keep you safe. You're Welcome" in very rude and stand-offish terms.

Edited by ExplodingJoe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, persondude said:

I'm new to the setting, and I love the flavor of using rings instead of traditional brawn, charisma, etc. That said, I'm having trouble differentiating some of the approaches, or figuring out how to apply them in certain situations. It seems like there's some overlap between fire and water for example, as both are "strong" approaches; and how would you use the fire approach to, say, perform a tea ceremony? Staying super stoic in social situations sounds like you'd only ever be able to use earth (or maybe air?). Then there's the fact that certain approaches sound like they're required for certain activities: using fire is specified to compose a poem or otherwise create new art, for example, although I can see how a less passionate, more academic approach might use earth.

I've only read the beginner box at this point, so maybe I just haven't got far enough yet for things to become clear, but if anyone has links to a big cache of examples, that'd be cool.

The best way I've come up with to explain this is don't look at the rings to start with. In the beta a lot of people said they preferred seeing all the possible approaches listed together (regardless of skill group) and working from that.

Say what you want to do, in the form "I want to [verb] the [object]" - "I want to fix the sword", "I sneak past the guard", "I seduce the priestess!"*

The Object is the easy bit (normally) and defines the skill - sword=smithing, hostile guard=fitness/skulduggery (depending on situation), priestess=sentiment/courtesy (depending on situation).

Once you've done that, work backwards by figuring out what approach the descriptive word you've chosen represents by comparing it to the examples below:

Refine, Feint, Trick, Analyse, Con - it's an Air approach (also deceive, outmanouvre, sneak, scrutinise, evade)

Restore, Withstand, Reason, Recall, Produce - it's an Earth approach (also fix, prepare, block, hold, sustained march, use continuous steady effort or thoroughness)

Invent, Overwhelm, Incite, Theorize, Innovate - it's a Fire approach (also be aggressive, attack, use a brief burst of strength or passion, sprint)

Adapt, Shift, Charm, Survey, Exchange - it's a Water approach (also strike a deal, use your environment, spot things, search)

Attune, Enlighten, Sacrifice, Sense, Subsist - it's a Void approach (also master your emotions, calm, remain still, use intuition, be divorced from your surroundings and feelings)

 

 

you wouldn't really use fire to perform a tea ceremony because you'd never be aggressively or passionately doing so...the point of the ceremony is the exact reverse.

Which other ring you'd use would be dependent on why you're doing it:

  • Performing a tea ceremony to calm yourself - probably Performance (Void)
  • Performing a tea ceremony for someone else to make a good impression - probably Performance (Water)
  • Performing a tea ceremony to practice the ritual itself -  probably Performance (Earth)
  • Performing a tea ceremony whilst poisoning the other guy's tea -  probably Performance (Air)

 

 

This is also how you determine what skill/approach to use when someone's trying to do two things off one check. If you're trying to search a dockyard for evidence of nefarious doings, without getting caught, there are two ways you could resolve this:

As a check to sneak through the yard, spending opportunities to 'notice a detail of the environment'

As a check to search the yard, spending opportunities to 'complete the task subtly and without attracting attention'.

Which way you do it depends on what's more important to the player - finding the evidence or not being seen.

 

 

* Sorry. The Gamers moment there.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ this. I think that understanding that Approach is way more than just "I do it calmly/passionately/tricksy" is one of the crucial elements of getting the system to work. Rings are thematically connected spheres of competence that cover different (sometimes overlapping, but not always!) activities - and some of those are only available to 1 or 2 Rings at best.

Edited by WHW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Invent, Overwhelm, Incite, Theorize, Innovate - it's a Fire approach (also be aggressive, attack, use a brief burst of strength or passion, sprint)

[snip]

you wouldn't really use fire to perform a tea ceremony because you'd never be aggressively or passionately doing so...the point of the ceremony is the exact reverse.

 

Um, kinda need some Fire to boil the water, imjustsaying...

Joking aside, Innovate/Invent could go with it, if you have no clue what you're doing and just trying to wing it! I tend to use Fire approach for players who acknowledge they don't have ranks in the skill, but want to exude confidence that they know what they're doing, a la "Instructions? BAH! Who needs those?!"

I do raise the TN accordingly, however.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I can tell, the game wants every task to have a base TN, that goes down by 1 with the most appropriate approach and up by 1 for the least appropriate approach. All other approaches are at the base TN. It just does a really, really, really bad job of communicating that in clear way and does an astoundingly poor job of explaining to the GM how to decide which approach is +1TN and which is -1TN and why.  Would be nice if skill examples were laid out like: Task / Skill / Base TN / Most Appropriate Approach / Least Appropriate Approach / Time.

For example the base tea ceremony:
Perform Tea Ceremony for Others / Performance / TN 3 / Earth -1 / Fire +1 / Downtime
(Note the Beta lists Tea Ceremony as a TN 2 Performance (Earth) check so I used that for this example)

They also made a huge misstep in the beta by breaking the approaches into categories, such as social and trade, and then adding a little addendum that people can easily miss stating that you may need to use an approach from a different category sometimes.

Instead they should have done a section on approaches where they list and explain all the various approaches for each ring and actually explain why sometimes one appraoch is the best choice and one is the worst. Who knows, they might have done this for the final book.

I have a feeling after the book is out the community will end up putting together a master task list to help new GMs quickly know the best ring and skill for a roll plus a having a decent idea of what the TN should be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, jmoschner said:

From what I can tell, the game wants every task to have a base TN, that goes down by 1 with the most appropriate approach and up by 1 for the least appropriate approach. 

Each outcome, not each task.

If you're doing a detailed visual scrutiny of an object, it's air. That's not something you get to change because it's you have a rubbish air ring.

But - you don't want to analyse the object, you want whatever clue or information analysing it would provide.

So you might be able to recall it - prompted by the item as a whole rather than a specific detail, but only if the GM agrees it's something you could realistically have previously known.

TN going up and down with approach is fine, but there isn't always an obvious approach using a given ring to achieve a particular effect.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember that this is a society that seems perfection in all things. Depending on what the player is trying to achieve, one check might not do it. In the case of the poem, Fire might be used the invent it, Water to adapt it to a current situation, and Air to refine it.

Then again, what you can achieve in a short time frame is sometimes the point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Baraqiel42 said:

Remember that this is a society that seems perfection in all things. Depending on what the player is trying to achieve, one check might not do it. In the case of the poem, Fire might be used the invent it, Water to adapt it to a current situation, and Air to refine it.

That's a lot of Strife. 

 

Anyway, my more radical way of doing Approaches is kinda like what @Magnus Grendel said but my version of the sentence would be "I want to do [Skill Group] by [Approach from the Skill Group] and apply my knowledge of [Skill from the Skill Group]". As a GM, I would just run free with whatever the players make up, and simply devise a different (sensible) outcome for each possible Approach with each Skill Check - this needs quite a work, yes, but not only you give players choices (and choices are good!) but you give them choices that matter (best kind of choices!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:
  • Performing a tea ceremony to calm yourself - probably Performance (Void)
  • Performing a tea ceremony for someone else to make a good impression - probably Performance (Water)
  • Performing a tea ceremony to practice the ritual itself -  probably Performance (Earth)
  • Performing a tea ceremony whilst poisoning the other guy's tea -  probably Performance (Air)

 

A possible example of Performance (Fire) might be: "change the ritual slightly in such a way that nonverbally communicates something to the other participant...or subtly insults them."

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, easl said:

A possible example of Performance (Fire) might be: "change the ritual slightly in such a way that nonverbally communicates something to the other participant...or subtly insults them."

 

Quite possibly. You can subtly insult people in Rokugan doing just about anything (Toturi's Iaijutsu Kata during the Emerald Championship springs to mind), why should getting them a cuppa be different? :)

But the point is that the tea ceremony is the setting or means to an end, if that makes sense; you're rarely just doing the ritual, and if you are just doing it to fill time, then it's a TN0 and hence no check. You need to be doing it for a reason for it to matter enough for dice to roll, and that reason will probably push you down a given approach and hence ring.

14 hours ago, Baraqiel42 said:

Remember that this is a society that seems perfection in all things. Depending on what the player is trying to achieve, one check might not do it. In the case of the poem, Fire might be used the invent it, Water to adapt it to a current situation, and Air to refine it.

True, but also note that L5R is a system which doesn't tend to make lots and lots of checks. A single check for a round of a conflict could represent several passes of blades, or a good half-hour of a mass battle, for example. By all means do multiple checks, but generally most examples in the book and adventures are a single check for a single 'thing', you're not encouraged to layer checks together unless there's some specific reason that one aspect is more important than any other.

In a poetry competition, all three would be good approaches, rather than one person being required to do all three:

  • Invent would be creating a new poem on the spot - probably the highest TN but also the highest 'payoff' if you succeed (opportunities to spend if someone realises what you've done, I guess)
  • Adapt would be taking an existing poem that you know and using bits of it - a lower TN
  • Refine is probably another of the 'subtly insulting' things - taking the competitor before you's poem and doing it almost the same but with the errors smoothed off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/26/2018 at 12:40 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

Invent, Overwhelm, Incite, Theorize, Innovate - it's a Fire approach (also be aggressive, attack, use a brief burst of strength or passion, sprint)

[snip]

you wouldn't really use fire to perform a tea ceremony because you'd never be aggressively or passionately doing so...the point of the ceremony is the exact reverse.

Sure you would — as long as you're not trying to recover void points — by intentionally altering the form on the fly in order to alter the mood of those involved. This may wind up being opposed...

... it's a great way to annoy certain crane, phoenix, or dragon samurai.

I can easily see hybridizing teppanyaki behaviors with the tea ceremony for void recovery, too - bowl-tricks, taiko-on-the-table with the whisk, cup stacking, ladle pours from 3 shaku... Totally non-traditional. But inspiring. Inspiring enough for a void point even. Lord help you if you fail to impress, however...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

Sure you would — as long as you're not trying to recover void points — by intentionally altering the form on the fly in order to alter the mood of those involved. This may wind up being opposed...

... it's a great way to annoy certain crane, phoenix, or dragon samurai.

I can easily see hybridizing teppanyaki behaviors with the tea ceremony for void recovery, too - bowl-tricks, taiko-on-the-table with the whisk, cup stacking, ladle pours from 3 shaku... Totally non-traditional. But inspiring. Inspiring enough for a void point even. Lord help you if you fail to impress, however...

*spills tea all over the visiting Imperial dignitary* Um...

*gets out wakizashi, kneels* Anyone care to second me?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Sure you would — as long as you're not trying to recover void points — by intentionally altering the form on the fly in order to alter the mood of those involved. This may wind up being opposed...

... it's a great way to annoy certain crane, phoenix, or dragon samurai.

I can easily see hybridizing teppanyaki behaviors with the tea ceremony for void recovery, too - bowl-tricks, taiko-on-the-table with the whisk, cup stacking, ladle pours from 3 shaku... Totally non-traditional. But inspiring. Inspiring enough for a void point even. Lord help you if you fail to impress, however...

Somewhere there's a fan-fic I did.  It involves a Crane shugenja doing her gempuku from the Isawa school by carrying out a tea ceremony entirely by way of the Sense, Commune and Summon spells...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to imagine that you aren't really meant to be able to apply every possible ring to every imaginable situation though.

If you could, then the only kind of character the game would reward were those that entirely focused on only a single ring and completely ignored all the others. A properly rounded character would either be expected to fail in every situation if the super specialized ones were at all challenged or would be the only one facing any real challenge while the specialized ones breezed through everything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

If you could, then the only kind of character the game would reward were those that entirely focused on only a single ring and completely ignored all the others.

This is already the case with the "Conservative Approach Picks" because the higher your Ring is, the more dice you can keep... and the more dice you can keep, the more shenanigans you can pull, vastly improving your results. Some game mechanics also require Ring specialization because they require a high number of kept dice. Balanced Rings only become viable at very high levels when you can afford to raise most of your Rings to 3+. 

Also, again, different Approaches should mean different outcomes when applied to the same Skill Check, and this where things balance out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

This is already the case with the "Conservative Approach Picks" because the higher your Ring is, the more dice you can keep... and the more dice you can keep, the more shenanigans you can pull, vastly improving your results. Some game mechanics also require Ring specialization because they require a high number of kept dice. Balanced Rings only become viable at very high levels when you can afford to raise most of your Rings to 3+. 

Also, again, different Approaches should mean different outcomes when applied to the same Skill Check, and this where things balance out. 

Then that definitely feels like a  major flaw in the system.

Everyone is going to want to play characters whose clan, family and school all raise the same ring and will just always use that same ring for everything in all situations.

And it is such an obvious flaw that I am surprised more hasn't been inherently done to mitigate it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

Then that definitely feels like a  major flaw in the system.

Everyone is going to want to play characters whose clan, family and school all raise the same ring and will just always use that same ring for everything in all situations.

And it is such an obvious flaw that I am surprised more hasn't been inherently done to mitigate it.

From what I understand, rings can get damaged, which drastically reduces their efficacy. Additionally, picking a different ring can make a check difficulty vary by as much as 2 (1 TN to +1 TN), which is better than rolling more dice (exactly how many more dice depends on the "success" distribution on the faces). Seeing as you'll have, AT MOST, a 4-point difference (ring 5 v. ring 1), it does sound you're much better off not neglecting more than 1-2 rings, if that.

Once I get my hands on the system, all the numbers should fall into place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

Everyone is going to want to play characters whose clan, family and school all raise the same ring and will just always use that same ring for everything in all situations.

This will not happen if you follow the system through, and actually diversify outcomes as per the Approaches being used. Just because one can use a Ring for a Skill Check it doesn't mean that it must be a good idea - in the same way you can decide IRL to always shout at people all the time: you can do it, and it will work for you in certain situations, but you might find yourself in an interesting spot most of the time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

I have to imagine that you aren't really meant to be able to apply every possible ring to every imaginable situation though.

Pretty much this. To me, and in our Beta group, most of the time there's a pretty obvious approach (or two) and unless you get genuinely creative, often anything else is bovine-faeces hand-waving to justify using a specific ring, and gets justifiably whomped on.

That said, you can probably come up with a way of using an approach related to any ring in any given situation, but the more illogical and tenuous your justification (such as trying to Recall something that there's no logical reason for you to have ever known in the first place), the higher the GM should feel justified as setting the TN as, which is their other control handle alongside the more flat-fiat (and less popular with the players) option of "no, that doesn't work".

It's basically a balancing act/debate with any specific table as to how flexible the GM should let the players be in picking their approach, which is largely going to be driven by the inevitable realism-vs-awesomeness debate in any fantastical RPG; the right answer will vary from group to group.

If someone is trying to game the system by always insisting on using their best ring, then the GM does have multiple levers to pull - how many is for them to decide:

  • Sometimes, an approach will simply not work. You cannot inspire a defeated, panicking army on the battlefield with Reason because they're way past listening to calm, logical argument.
  • Sometimes, an Earth approach will work, but will demand a much higher TN. The Shrewd demeanour for Peasants makes any Water social approaches TN+2 (because they're hard to charm into voluntarily doing something not in their interest) but Fire social approaches TN-2 (because they're easy to intimidate or - not being Samurai - simply peremptorily order about).
    • Of course, taking the higher TN approach may nevertheless provide specific benefits on success. A command check on a peasant will get him or her to answer any question you ask but is unlikely to get them to volunteer information you don't know to ask for if they think it might cause trouble for them, whilst a sentiment check (and hence active co-operation) just might.
  • As @JBento says, critical strikes and other effects can attach conditions to specific rings, making the use of that ring harder - so your 'best' ring might not actually be your best in practice after you suffer a wound or contract shadowlands taint to the respective ring.
  • In conflict scenes, each ring stance has a specific bonus ability tied to it and there are plenty of situations where you might want to be in a stance to benefit from that specific ability, even at a cost of making the check harder. Water stance, for example, allows you a free action each turn that doesn't need a check. This lets you use calming breath twice a turn, and hence lets you recover fatigue and strife much faster than any other stance, whilst fire stance lets you cause massive amounts of damage in return for picking up strife fast - making for an obvious pair of stances to want to switch back and forth between.
  • The ring you use for a check drives what opportunities you can use. Each ring has a list of opportunities - if using that ring, you can use those opportunities at normal cost, two other rings at double opportunity cost (for Fire it's Earth and Air) and the other ring at quadruple cost (for Fire it's Water). Void opportunities are only available on a check using your Void ring and are usually really good...

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Magnus basically covered 100% on the hard system rules you can use. On the other side is the narrative end of how the GM crafts the world.

Narratively, min/max-ed characters look like oddities in my games. If you dump-stat Earth and leave Air and Fire low, I start thinking you look like a dim, boring, and socially unaware savant in the eyes of NPCs. If someone has a proportionately high Void over any other ring, they really may not be connected to the here and now enough to notice when they're being directly addressed. I'd make the occasional secret roll against their vigilance to see if they don't cause a scene by accidently ignoring a superior.

Whether or not you enjoy that approach is up to personal taste, so I'm not calling it the "right" way to play. That's just my take on approaching wildly unbalanced characters. It really is entirely up to the GM on what they'll allow, and how many narrative and dice system levers they're willing to pull in response to player decisions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, ExplodingJoe said:

Magnus basically covered 100% on the hard system rules you can use. On the other side is the narrative end of how the GM crafts the world.

Narratively, min/max-ed characters look like oddities in my games. If you dump-stat Earth and leave Air and Fire low, I start thinking you look like a dim, boring, and socially unaware savant in the eyes of NPCs. If someone has a proportionately high Void over any other ring, they really may not be connected to the here and now enough to notice when they're being directly addressed. I'd make the occasional secret roll against their vigilance to see if they don't cause a scene by accidently ignoring a superior.

Whether or not you enjoy that approach is up to personal taste, so I'm not calling it the "right" way to play. That's just my take on approaching wildly unbalanced characters. It really is entirely up to the GM on what they'll allow, and how many narrative and dice system levers they're willing to pull in response to player decisions.

I'm not sure I'd necessarily go that far, but yes, a low water ring character is by definition bad at the stuff represented by the water approaches.

Which means that assuming they're (a) bad at charming people and (b) relatively clueless what's going on around them if not actually paying attention is not unjustified.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...