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Meathook2236

Our group has no courtiers and I'm part of the problem.

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My title is a bit harsher then the actual reality. Our group has no courtiers. We have people who's schools are Shiba Guardian and soshi illusionist. But so far neither of them are leaning into much for social skills. I and another player are a moto conqueror and a kuni purifier. I'm the kuni, and I'm largely playing him as a magical bushi. 

We haven't been playing long, and I know my gm really wants to run some more involved social encounters. I do too, as I know they will be amazing as he puts in tons of work already to involve everyone and really set an excellent feel. The problem is I largely don't get excited by the classes that do it well. I'm primarily the person who plays the huge dude with the biggest weapon and heaviest armor, but I've really taken a shine to the two heavens duelist. 

My question is, is it possible to play a bushi and lean into social skills and purchase Shuji and still be decently effective in court. I have a few Kata I'm interested in 2-3 Kata, one I'll buy early and then the others I can pick up much later.

I know this will slow my advancement as much of it is out of school for me. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated.

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Yes you lean into social skills. The only thing that happens is that your school advancement slows. Probably not a big deal. It’s really unlikely to *never* buy stuff outside your school anyway. Your Ring advancements will be outside...

Rank 1 and 2 skills seem pretty cheap. Unless you go nuts I think you’ll be fine.

Edited by Void Crane

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You can pick up a few Social Skills (for your character Command and Sentiment are both fitting and should be enough), a few Shuji, and you won't be much worse than any Courtier. If you are at Rank 2 then both Command and Sentiment are in your School Curriculum too, so you are not missing out on advancement either. 

I don't know what Rings you have, but most of a Courtier's oomph lies in Rings: you gotta have Air 2+ and Water 2+ (at least one of those at 3+) to be a real deal, the rest is not very important. Say, if you have Air 2, Water 3, Command 1, and Sentiment 2, then you will be fine even if you don't take any Shuji. On the other hand, the Shiba Guardian in the party can buy Civility Foremost from the School Curriculum then 1-1 Rank in Courtesy and Sentiment to become a real force in court. The Soshi is not lost either as they are naturally an Air/Water character, and the Moto has the Water too, so you guys are actually pretty well-off in my opinion. 

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Yes you can. That said, you'll never be as good as a courtier, just like a courtier is never going to be as good as a bushi at martial skills. The way school curriculum ranks work is enough to make sure of that, but school abilities, and your capstone (if you ever reach it), also contribute to that reality. I would suggest getting together with the other players, and encouraging everyone to grab 1 in courtesy or command, and 1 in composition/aesthetics. Maybe encourage the Soshi to get at least one in ALL of performance/composition/aesthetics/courtesy. Then make heavy use of assistance in social scenes. If the soshi is doing your courtesy/aesthetics, someone else is doing command, and someone else is the best writer, when your powers combine (I couldn't resist) you'll be giving each other extra kept and skill dice, which are not to be sneezed at. While some scenarios are likely to keep the numbers of assistants down, in an actual Intrigue, everyone can get in on the assistance, to give one person god rolls (or two people decent rolls, if you find that a single actor isn't effective enough).

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So, a Kuni can't really sub in specifically for a courtier (you can't take Shuji, an interesting balance point between being able to get Kata and double as a Bushi), but yeah in general Courtier and Bushi schools enable both social and martial techniques, and usually sprinkle in a few of either in the curriculum. At worst you don't advance as fast to make up for the fact your knowledge is branching out, but buying a couple skills so you're not just rolling Ring dice is easy for anyone.

Also consider sprinkling in titles - don't know about the breadth of EE but the Yoriki and EM titles seem like they decently split the difference between social and martial focus. 

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the GM will not let you fail anyway, at least not all the time if he keeps doing social encounters... because thats not fun and the quest will just, end? so you will just succeed, less glamorously, but will still succeed. so don't bother with social skill if you dont feel like it. for combat skills, the GM will adjust the encounters to the level of competency of the party, so then again, doesn't matter if you guys are all courtiers or all bushi.
 

IF you have 50/50 party, then you need to make the social encounter out of reach for the bushi (unless they invest in social skills) as much as combat against harder enemies will be out of reach for courtiers. this is actually the hardest to GM because you need to give every player their shining moment.

if you guys are ALL combat beasts, then its easy, make the social encounters easiers and combat encounters harder.

Edited by Avatar111

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57 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

the GM will not let you fail anyway, at least not all the time if he keeps doing social encounters... because thats not fun and the quest will just, end? so you will just succeed, less glamorously, but will still succeed. so don't bother with social skill if you dont feel like it. for combat skills, the GM will adjust the encounters to the level of competency of the party, so then again, doesn't matter if you guys are all courtiers or all bushi.
 

IF you have 50/50 party, then you need to make the social encounter out of reach for the bushi (unless they invest in social skills) as much as combat against harder enemies will be out of reach for courtiers. this is actually the hardest to GM because you need to give every player their shining moment.

if you guys are ALL combat beasts, then its easy, make the social encounters easiers and combat encounters harder.

Or they regularly fail, but in the form of "no, but" (its a narrative concept). Instead of failing and it being a dead-end, failure leads to further action (fail to convince the city governor that the artifact is evil? Now the governor's corrupted, and working with maho-tsukai, but has become reclusive because he's not quite himself). Failed to convince the governor's court of his corruption? Now you're imprisoned, where a strange shinobi rescues you, and takes you to their lord to reveal your information. The failure just leads to other paths, that ultimately lead to you succeeding through social, or perhaps your more talented martial, means. There is a difference between failing, but not permanently, and succeeding, but less effectively (mainly its the consequences: if you'd succeeded with the governor, he wouldn't be corrupted, for example).

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1 hour ago, Isawa Miyu said:

Or they regularly fail, but in the form of "no, but" (its a narrative concept). Instead of failing and it being a dead-end, failure leads to further action (fail to convince the city governor that the artifact is evil? Now the governor's corrupted, and working with maho-tsukai, but has become reclusive because he's not quite himself). Failed to convince the governor's court of his corruption? Now you're imprisoned, where a strange shinobi rescues you, and takes you to their lord to reveal your information. The failure just leads to other paths, that ultimately lead to you succeeding through social, or perhaps your more talented martial, means. There is a difference between failing, but not permanently, and succeeding, but less effectively (mainly its the consequences: if you'd succeeded with the governor, he wouldn't be corrupted, for example).

yup, but same result. you are not "failing".

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8 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

yup, but same result. you are not "failing".

Sorry, but you did. Failing is not a process as such, as a working-failure can result in success, and while doing well for a while, you can end up failing. To fail, is to not accomplish your goal. Your goal was to convince the city governor of an artifact's evil, take it from him, not succumb to its whispers/Taint, deliver it to those who will destroy it. That's likely a rough plot outline, some or all of which you'll be informed of initially. If you don't convince the governor, you've failed at that part of your quest, and the rest is altered. You can still succeed at your ultimate goal (or an altered goal, like minimizing the damage the artifact does in the hands of the governor), but you still failed. This is not mere semantics. In this case the failures grow the plot, maybe develop your characters, and is otherwise useful to a story, but that's because stories are BUILT ON FAILURE.

There are four narrative approaches to resolve conflict: "Yes." "Yes, but." "No, but" "No."

These answer the question "did the protagonist accomplish x?"

The most interesting answers are "Yes, but", and "No, but". Arguably, roleplaying should never use the first or last options, except when ending a campaign, and even then, that means no extra plot hooks for future campaigns. "No, but" is a failure, with a chance for ultimate success at either your ultimate goal, or related goal, or a new goal, but the failure(s) involved in the process are real, and will and should haunt you. If they weren't failures, things would not get worse (just as in "Yes, but" things would not get better if it wasn't a success). "Yes, but" is a success, but one that has consequences you either have to live with, or which you may then need to resolve. These are the two ideal answers, because they push a plot forward, and allow for more growth. The tone of a story can also be determined by the ratio of these two, because more successes is more idealistic, while fewer is commonly referred to as 'dark' or 'gritty', especially when capped with an ultimate "No".

The result is distinctly not the same. If you think a corrupt governor who starts sacrificing his ji-samurai to the kansen to increase his power as he seeks to awaken Iuchiban is the same result as one of your party carrying the object and then committing seppuku when you arrive to deliver it because he can't tone out the whispers is the same, then I don't know what you would call different. After all, Fu Leng conquering the Empire and ruling it forever with the divine right of his blood is the same as the line of the Hantei Emperors continuing forever into the future, ruling with the divine right of their blood, right?

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Thank you everyone your fantastic in-depth answers. This helps a lot. Right now we are rank one. My rings are earth 3, water 2, fire 3, void 1 and air 1. I'm having a bit of an issue figuring out which rings and Shuji are important at the start that would help me hold my own or contribute a lot in a social setting as it almost seems like you need good rings for them all as well as a number of Shuji. Any suggestions as some early grabs?

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9 hours ago, Meathook2236 said:

Thank you everyone your fantastic in-depth answers. This helps a lot. Right now we are rank one. My rings are earth 3, water 2, fire 3, void 1 and air 1. I'm having a bit of an issue figuring out which rings and Shuji are important at the start that would help me hold my own or contribute a lot in a social setting as it almost seems like you need good rings for them all as well as a number of Shuji. Any suggestions as some early grabs?

Well first, as someone else noted (UnitOmega), you can't take any shuji due to being a Kuni Purifier (ignore this if you changed your character without telling us). Fire is a powerful social ring in my opinion, as long as you're getting people emotionally invested in your argument, and strifing out your opposition with opportunities. Earth isn't bad either, it just doesn't have the adaptability of water, though it allows you to logically argue the facts, which can be a strong play. I see Intrigues as more of a team game, where your team (PCs, maybe some NPCs you've convinced already), are playing against another team that you can deal with in a number of ways. You can interfere with their arguments and abilities, by adding strife to them with fire, and taking advantage when they're Compromised/Unmask. You can spread rumours with Air to undermine your opponent (or just to spread your argument more quickly), and there's a specific Shuji whose name I can't recall off the top of my head, that helps with that. You can just try to be more successful than your opponent, with a ton of assistance/skill dice/explosions hopefully. I'm sure someone has crunched all the numbers, or is in the process of doing so, and knows for sure what the most effective approach to Intrigues is, but I'm not that guy.

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I mean it kinda depends on whether you have to face off against actual courtiers or not. Consider that an Ikoma Bard is less likely to flip out (unmask) than whoever it is she's "negotiating" with (even better, she might be able to get her enemies to unmask and attack each other!).  Meanwhile, a Bayushi Manipulator will be able to Blackmail (or entice) people easier, a Yasuki or Ide will be able to bribe people easier, a Kitsuki will discover things, a Soshi will easily hide things, a Soshuro will easily hide things for the Kitsuki to discover..  and that Shinjo is just super persuasive when he's on that impressive unicorn steed.  I mean these are all unique abilities that, if used well, could pretty much move an intrigue to a whole other level, so does a bushi really stand a chance against them?

  If you're looking for characters that can be useful both in combat and in intrigues, I really suggest Ikoma bard, Shinjo outrider (though this kinda depends on how useful the GM thinks your steed would be), Shosuro Infiltrator, Soshi Illusionist, or Hiruma scout (like the infiltrator, the hiruma could plant evidence, spy on people etc.)

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On 12/22/2018 at 1:53 PM, Meathook2236 said:

I'm having a bit of an issue figuring out which rings and Shuji are important at the start that would help me hold my own or contribute a lot in a social setting as it almost seems like you need good rings for them all as well as a number of Shuji.

In a social scene - or an intrigue - rings are situation-specific. Trying to rile up a lynch mob or rally a beaten army? Fire. Trying to make a structured legal argument which will hold up to later scrutiny by an as-yet-unknown magistrate? Earth. Trying to win on good looks and charm? Water. Trying to lie your backside off? Air.

 

And so on. Every character will often have a different 'high ring' so will excell in a different bit of the intrigue.

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On 12/22/2018 at 2:53 PM, Meathook2236 said:

Thank you everyone your fantastic in-depth answers. This helps a lot. Right now we are rank one. My rings are earth 3, water 2, fire 3, void 1 and air 1.

I'm coming after the battle but nontheless... I've been GM on this game (not system, tho) for about 15 years, since 2nd ed. We played a lot, with many characters. In 15 years I had countless Hida and Mirumoto Bushi, Togashi monks, Akodo bushi...almost every shugenja I had at my table was a Kuni (and one Isawa!) and I had ONE Doji courtier.

But which campaign gace my PC the most thrill ? The one they played social Crabs. The pitch was: ok, everyone sees the Crab as ignorant brutes, but Hida Yakamo wants some fresh and educated retrainers in order to play a bit of politics. So I had a Hida bushi, a Hiruma scout, 2 Yasuki traders, a Kuni witch hunter, a Kuni shugenja and even a Ratling. And they went to courts, managed to make deals, trades, peace treaty or war threats. They played on the fact everyone assumed they would be easy to fool and had no manners. But they had a few skills, and we had a blast.

Game mechanic-wise (and lore-wise), (and I'm still exploring the rules on this version) your Kuni shugenja might be a though choice to make a great courtier. The family is not famous for small-talk, and school has no access to shuji. You might wanna look into Titles in order to get your hands on some shujis. Status helps also a lot when it comes to social: no one would argue with high-status characters.

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