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Schmiegel

Demeanors

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When a PC is making a competitive skill check against an NPC, are the players supposed to be informed about the demeanors that NPC possesses prior to the first check (or at all)? Thank you! I'm new  to this system, and not sure how much detail is supposed to be revealed by the GM in general during competitive checks involving NPCs. 

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No, they should not necessarily know the demeanors beforehand - there is an Air Opp which can be spent to reveal an NPC in the scene's demeanor. However, in the section on "when to conceal the TN" (p. 297) it does note normally you do not conceal the TN outright, so once they actually choose to make a check with the approach, they know the TN they want to hit unless you think it particularly difficult or dramatic and choose to conceal it, in which case the player rolling gets a Void point.

That all said, even if you know the TN, you don't necessarily know it's due to a demeanor; derived stats, conditions, abilities etc might alter the TN too. 

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Posted (edited)

good question actually.

if they know the TN to hit, they do not need to know the demeanor's name. only the TN # for each ring matters, not the "name" of the demeanor.
that makes air opportunity a bit irrelevant aside for the fluff of knowing what the demeanor is actually called. not that Air was any good to begin with...
 

😕 weird design. I'd be tempted to say you tell them the modification of the demeanor (only the part that affect the roll) once they commit to the element but before they roll.
but yeah, under raw, they know the TN. so you are rewarded to adjust your roleplay to the situation instead of roleplaying and getting the consequences. dunno what to think of that really, but that is what it is.

edit: oh, and by the way, being new to the system or experienced with it won't help much! the system have plenty of cracks for you to fall in! you will never stop tripping!

Edited by Avatar111

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Lol, no question about that, Avatar111. The number of cracks to fall in seems almost infinite. Don't know if that's a good thing, or bad... So much to learn, but fascinating all the while! Thanks for the very helpful responses guys!

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Funny, I always thought the section about revealing TNs only applied to the base TN of a check, not the modifications coming from demeanor. Then, learning of the demeanor via Air opp becomes worthwhile. 

Another way to do it, as UnitOmega said, it to reveal the TN only after the approach has been selected. The character doesn’t know if that roll is just hard/easy or if the demeanor kicked in. But if you do know the demeanor, then you can focus on the easier approach. 

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1 hour ago, Franwax said:

Funny, I always thought the section about revealing TNs only applied to the base TN of a check, not the modifications coming from demeanor. Then, learning of the demeanor via Air opp becomes worthwhile. 

Another way to do it, as UnitOmega said, it to reveal the TN only after the approach has been selected. The character doesn’t know if that roll is just hard/easy or if the demeanor kicked in. But if you do know the demeanor, then you can focus on the easier approach. 

it is actually confusing as per RAW, when you reveal the TN.

on p.22 it seem to say you choose approach before knowing what approach will modify the TN. Actually, you should not know the TN at ALL before choosing your approach... (but hey, its probably fair to say it, at least the unmodified TN)

but then on page.296 (multiple elemental approach), they seem to say the opposite. they are basically giving a social example and saying you should tell the player which ring would make it easier/harder.

but then, at the end of p.296 and beginning of p.297, they mention that the player should not know which approach is the easiest/hardest.


o_O

I guess we let the majority win, the player knows the TN only after choosing/committing to his check and approach.
 

So now.. if the GM is ASKING the players to make a check. He should also not reveal the TN and be like: "allright guys, make a fitness check". then the players choose their approach, and BAM the GM reveals the TN. Which is how D&D works (the players don't know the TN most of the time for a skill check).

I think I like it more. actually.


 

Edited by Avatar111

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Well, "Multiple Approaches" says to say which is harder or easier, not necessarily reveal by how much. TN 3 is harder than TN 2, but there's quite a bit of difference between that and something being TN 1 and TN 4.

You're wrong about P.297 though, it says a player should not necessarily which skill/approach is easiest if they come at a task with cursory knowledge - if they have had time to prepare for the task the GM can hint or outright say which is harder/easier. I don't think this necessarily contradicts with the way we handle demeanors. Players will not necessarily remember every demeanor effect in an Intrigue, especially if a GM makes up new ones, but spending opportunity on a check to gain additional information does equip them with foreknowledge for future checks - the GM can easily remind them "because this guy is Shrewd, Air is a bad approach". The whole few pages of this section is about adjudicating the rules to build drama while maintaining trust and cooperation.

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p.296: it is helpful to let the player know which ring makes the check easier/harder

p.297: they might not know which approach will be the hardest.


i'd personally rather take the p.297 as RAW (like you). And sure, "if you have cursory knowledge(like knowing a demeanor)" then yes, you know which is hardest/easiest.

but p.296 was confusing me as it seemed to contradict p.297, but, since they wrote "it is helpful to let..." it doesn't mean it is necessary to let them know what is easier/harder, just that it is "helpful so they can make an informed choice"....

jeez.


its honestly just badly written. the whole "multiple elemental approach options" paragraph on p.296 might as well just be deleted from the book and you lose absolutely NOTHING, since they repeat the same thing but clearer on p.297.

edit; btw, i'd much rather use the "do not let them know the TN at all" for all checks, as per RAW, unless they have "cursory information". there is nothing different between a survival TN3(air4, fire1) check and a courtesy TN2 (adjusted by demeanor). 
in both cases the GM could, if he wants, hide the full TN from the players until they commit to their check and approach. Which is the way D&D does it, if the GM ask for an Athletic check, the GM usually doesn't say the target number.

obviously, in L5R, because of the keep mechanic, you need to let the player know the TN once they commit to their check/approach. (unless you want to go extra wild and give them a void point).
so you should, as a GM, only ask for a "survival check!" then the player choose their approach, and THEN you reveal the TN. thats how I read it both on p.22 and on p.297

Edited by Avatar111

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overall was a good debate guys. I was playing the game wrong by asking my players to roll a "survival TN2(air1, fire3) check!" when I should not mention the TN at all until they commit to an approach. (not just in the case of demeanor modified checks, but in the case of all checks).

Edited by Avatar111

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43 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

I should not mention the TN at all until they commit to an approach. (not just in the case of demeanor modified checks, but in the case of all checks).

Yes that seems like a reasonable way to go about it. 

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I used to let players make checks to get an idea about TNs in previous editions, since deciding how many raises (if any) you wanted to make was a fairly important decision. Seems unnecessary in this edition, similar decisions in 5th like kata use make less of a difference. Letting them figure out which approaches work better than others can be quite reasonable though, especially if the difference is significant. Personal interactions may be a hard read, but otherwise I doubt characters should be unable to see the approach with a TN 4 is harder than the one with a TN 1. Let the GM do what he thinks works best (that should be generally applicable anyway).

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8 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

So now.. if the GM is ASKING the players to make a check. He should also not reveal the TN and be like: "allright guys, make a fitness check". then the players choose their approach, and BAM the GM reveals the TN. Which is how D&D works (the players don't know the TN most of the time for a skill check).

I think I like it more. actually.

That's the way I've run it - you (generally) know the TN before you pick up dice, but after you commit to "this is what I'm doing". 

 

@nameless ronin is right that at least a qualitative "that might be harder" "yeah, that seems pretty easy" as part of the debate over what the plan is, and mechanical skill and approach the narrative direction translates into (it's clearly fitness but is Plan X air or water, for example), but I'd avoid discussing specific TN(s) for the check at that point.

 

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18 minutes ago, Schmiegel said:

Who knew that a simple question borne of sheer ignorance could lead to such an informative and quality discussion.... :)  I'll have to do that again.

that's what this game is all about. none here totally understands it yet. sometimes I think the devs also don't fully grasp it :D 

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17 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

p.296: it is helpful to let the player know which ring makes the check easier/harder

p.297: they might not know which approach will be the hardest.


i'd personally rather take the p.297 as RAW (like you). And sure, "if you have cursory knowledge(like knowing a demeanor)" then yes, you know which is hardest/easiest.

but p.296 was confusing me as it seemed to contradict p.297, but, since they wrote "it is helpful to let..." it doesn't mean it is necessary to let them know what is easier/harder, just that it is "helpful so they can make an informed choice"....

jeez.


its honestly just badly written. the whole "multiple elemental approach options" paragraph on p.296 might as well just be deleted from the book and you lose absolutely NOTHING, since they repeat the same thing but clearer on p.297.

No, it's not badly written. In English, "it is helpful" is an extremely strong indicator of a non-default but useful state, not a "should" statement. (Pointing this out since you mentioned elsewhere English isn't your native tongue.)

The two "it is helpful" statements, bottom of 296 LC, are both implying "Players should seek to learn these and GM's should make it possible to learn these." It's not quite "the GM should always tell you"...

Quote

The TN of a task can vary based on the skill and approach determined by the character’s intended results and method. If a character is walking into a task with only cursory information, they might not know which approach will be the hardest until the GM announces the TN. If the character has foreknowledge of the task, on the other hand, the GM might want to hint—or even state outright—that an approach is easier or harder.

Parsing this

  • The TN of a task can vary based on the skill and approach determined by the character’s intended results and method.
    • = TN's vary by skill and approach
  • If a character is walking into a task with only cursory information, they might not know which approach will be the hardest until the GM announces the TN.
    • = If they haven't done the research, they don't get to know the best approach
  • If the character has foreknowledge of the task, on the other hand, the GM might want to hint—or even state outright—that an approach is easier or harder.
    • = If they have a good reason to know, tell them.

Given that Demeanor is gained by an opportunity spend, if they haven't, and haven't done a task to know, they shouldn't know.

If they know the base task is X in ring Y, and the announced TN is different, they may know they missed a factor; if they don't figure it out, however, the don't know.

Hinting with "The base TN is X in ring Y" is reasonable much of the time, but should mean no void point. (I consider it reasonable when it's a common action or is uncommon but they're skilled. If it's rarely done, even skill isn't going to get the TN)

The general presumption is that Most TN's are known. I use a lot of unknown tasks to feed Void to PC's, so PC's can refresh them, and this encourages them to use them.

 

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definitely, but as I've mentioned earlier, the whole paragraph about elemental approaches (the first paragraph about it on p.296) could be entirely removed from the book and nothing is lost.
it is badly written when one adjective changes the whole thing. especially considering this is basic "how to announce a check" information, it should not be as cryptic. The paragraph on p.297 is much more clear and says the SAME THING.

I do agree with you, If you carefully read every word and double check everything, it "works". It just isn't an easy way to explain things.

A lot of questions that arise with this edition, at the most basic level, are about the checks/TN variation by rings and critical strikes. So there is definitely something that is not clear for a good bunch of people regarding those subjects. 

edit; I have listened to many podcast in which the GM just says the TN, and the rings modifications to the TN, before the players even pick their approach. I don't think I've ever heard one podcast in which the player choose the approach and then the GM calls the TN.
They are probably english as first language people too :D

edit 2; and yes the TN are always known before the check is made (unless you give them a void point). But that doesn't mean the TN is known before they choose their approach, which is where I got confused and where some other people here got confused too (in relation to demeanor especially).

So, lets just settle it for; it could have been written much more clearly.

Edited by Avatar111

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1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

edit; I have listened to many podcast in which the GM just says the TN, and the rings modifications to the TN, before the players even pick their approach. I don't think I've ever heard one podcast in which the player choose the approach and then the GM calls the TN.
They are probably english as first language people too :D

Not having heard, and not making, any podcasts... Player picks before is exactly how I do it, and exactly what the flowchart on page 23 implies with «Based on the description, the GM decides which skill and ring the player will roll, along with the target number of successes (TN) needed.» as step 2.  

Further, the  opportunity spend «✻: If you failed, determine the easiest way to accomplish the task you were attempting (skill and approach).» implies the optimum should NOT be known. Likewise, page 22 is clear - TN is determined after skill group, approach/ring, and skill.

1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

edit 2; and yes the TN are always known before the check is made (unless you give them a void point). But that doesn't mean the TN is known before they choose their approach, which is where I got confused and where some other people here got confused too (in relation to demeanor especially).

It's explicit on 22 that they aren't supposed to know the TN before picking approach, because the page 22 text uses "next" and "finally". This is, in English, about as explicit a sequencing as it gets. If they're doing it in another order, they're doing it wrong; doing it wrong isn't always bad, except in public games or in open games.

1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

So, lets just settle it for; it could have been written much more clearly.

Given the ambiguities of English in general, not without significantly different organization and significantly increased page count. Much of the issue is that the rules don't get duplicated when they are predicate for other sections located elsewhere.

The check mechanic is presented in detail on pages 22-24. How to set and adjust TN's isn't a contradiction to that; it's an elaboration added to that. It's still Step 2, substep 4, and anyone not doing it that way isn't running the game as written.

Edited by AK_Aramis

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11 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

The general presumption is that Most TN's are known. I use a lot of unknown tasks to feed Void to PC's, so PC's can refresh them, and this encourages them to use them.

Agreed.

Known to me means 'known before you roll' - so you're not keeping unnecessary strife or doing yourself out of opportunity to either hit a TN you've already passed or reach one you have no realistic chance of making it to.

As @Avatar111 says, to me that's not necessarily the same as 'known before you commit to an approach'

11 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:
  • If a character is walking into a task with only cursory information, they might not know which approach will be the hardest until the GM announces the TN.
    • = If they haven't done the research, they don't get to know the best approach
  • If the character has foreknowledge of the task, on the other hand, the GM might want to hint—or even state outright—that an approach is easier or harder.
    • = If they have a good reason to know, tell them.

Very much so.

11 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Given that Demeanor is gained by an opportunity spend, if they haven't, and haven't done a task to know, they shouldn't know.

Also agreed. With one observation that it's not "ahahahah! You should have been standing on your left leg, rubbing your stomach and nodding your head at the same time to get a TN bonus! Foolish mortals for not spending * to get that hint!" - Demeanour is personality, the +TN and -TN should be and  - for the most part - are logical given the social approaches the rings represent. If you're already talking to the individual, it's not unreasonable to ask the GM their apparent mood - this may qualify for (say) a Sentiment [Air] check to assess them - but even if you don't, things like Assertive convinced-they're-right individuals responding better to a passive or deceptive agreement (Air) rather than stubbornness (Earth) or a gruff, antisocial, pragmatic person reacting better to stick-to-the-facts logic (Earth) than someone trying to be cheerful and ingratiating (water) makes a certain amount of sense, and you should stand a fair chance of guessing that from just the GM's description.

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Given the way the rules read, "easiest way" is defined in that opportunity spend as "skill and approach". A GM being much more demanding than that is deviating significantly from RAW. Adjusting for missing tools, excellent tools, demanor, etc are outside the scope of "easiest way" as defined in the spend itself, but that spend doesn't include the TN in the "easiest way" told to the player... but I would include considerations of tools and other key resources. 

 

 

Edited by AK_Aramis

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Another in a series of dumb questions... My understanding is that Demeanor applies to Social skill checks. So I'm trying to grasp why a Rampaging Boar (found in In the Palace of the Emerald Champion adventure - page 17) would be given a demeanor and how that would be applied. The PCs likely response to a confrontation with a Rampaging Boar is more than likely to be to attack and try to kill it. How specifically does the boar's demeanor impact that interaction? Is it applied when the PCs attack the boar? I presume PCs should not be pre-informed as to the nature of the boar's demeanor, but would need to find it out as the scene further develops.... Thank you for any help!!

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7 minutes ago, Schmiegel said:

Another in a series of dumb questions... My understanding is that Demeanor applies to Social skill checks. So I'm trying to grasp why a Rampaging Boar (found in In the Palace of the Emerald Champion adventure - page 17) would be given a demeanor and how that would be applied. The PCs likely response to a confrontation with a Rampaging Boar is more than likely to be to attack and try to kill it. How specifically does the boar's demeanor impact that interaction? Is it applied when the PCs attack the boar? I presume PCs should not be pre-informed as to the nature of the boar's demeanor, but would need to find it out as the scene further develops.... Thank you for any help!!

they might want to try to scare the boar with a command check ? or... tame it with a survival ?

dunno. maybe. probably not an easy TN.

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Good thoughts, thanks Avatar111! Just trying to figure out the specifics of how to run the scene.. I was going to have the PCs encounter the hostile herd while they were out searching for their missing possessions. 

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I’ve always outright told the PCs the TNs. I’m not saying that’s right, but here’s why:

 

So let’s say I’m a player and I want my PC to jump a gap between two buildings. How do I gauge the difficulty before committing to the jump? That’s something I can do IRL, and intuitively my character should be able to do it as well. In other words, there must be some way I can compare my ability to the task before beginning the making-a-check procedure, beginning with declaring an intention. (RAW, there is no way to bail out of this procedure once you start).

I could ask my GM how big the gap is. But that’s pretty useless on its own, because the game doesn’t translate fitness checks into distance jumped (this isn’t GURPS). 

So I basically need to ask “how difficult is this jump?” and then listen for verbal clues that indicate how difficult it is on the TN scale of 1-8.

If the GM is consistent in their descriptions, I can figure out the TN, and they might as well have told me (there’s only so many ways to say “this is an average task” without sounding ridiculous). 

If the GM is *inconsistent* in their descriptions, then I cannot effectively gauge the difficulty of the jump before committing to it (which is the first step of the making-a-check procedure, which will eventually reveal the TN). 

So the GM might as well have told me the mechanical difficulty (say, Average, TN 2) along with the narrative difficulty (“it’s not too big a gap; most adults could probably jump it”).

I might not tell them the optimal TN, specifically because there’s mechanical ways to find it out, but I can’t think of a good way to hide the normal TN while also giving the players enough information to help them decide whether to commit to action or not. 

Edited by sidescroller

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All good points, thanks Sidescroller. I should have been more clear. My question was should I reveal the NPC's demeanor values, that is, the ring values (plus and minus values to the check based on demeanor), not the TN of the check. It's my understanding that the TN of the check does need to be revealed. If it isn't, the PC gains a Void point.

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