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Courts of Stone, a new sourcebook

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1 hour ago, Kaiju said:

Its worth noticing that with CoS, the Scorpion doesnt have the true ninjas anymore. . . . the Scorpion Schools cannot use most of the book.

I was certainly hoping for some sort of "curriculum errata" or notes on new ninjutsu that permitted previous schools to add a few things to curriculum.

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10 minutes ago, Hida Jitenno said:

I was certainly hoping for some sort of "curriculum errata" or notes on new ninjutsu that permitted previous schools to add a few things to curriculum.

Yes, but I think they want to prevent massive power balance bloat whenever they release new stuff. It seems the Ninjutsu category is the catch-all for unusual and creative stuff and slightly larger-than-life abilities. And the Scorpion Schools work as before - they just miss out on a few very dirty tricks.

But thats really the problem with adding new classes and abilities in books while the RPG is still growing - people always go "had i know this was coming at char gen, i would have taken this instead of what i have now". I had that happen a LOT during the Star Wars RPG.

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Shinobi schools don't teach you literally every technique. You only learn the techniques specific to your dojo, so you can't go mad with power. The Mercenary Ninja is probably an exception because they're learning through self-discovery or mentorship, not a Great Clan dojo. 

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21 hours ago, Kaiju said:

Its worth noticing that with CoS, the Scorpion doesnt have the true ninjas anymore. Since only the Mercenary Ninja school allows access to ALL Ninjutsu, the Scorpion Schools cannot use most of the book.

The Shosuro infiltrator gets the 4 Ninjitsu from the core book. 

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The point is that the Shosuro gets Technique-wide access to Kata, Rituals and Shuji. They can take any of these techniques they meet the prerequisites for.

The 'core book' ninjitsu techniques (skulk, deadly sting, silencing strike, noxious cloud) are all on the school curriculum with 'preferential access' marks, so they can still take them, but they don't get access to any new ninjitsu techniques in future books.

By comparison, the Kolat Saboteur gets "Rank 1-5 Ninjitsu" as a line item in their school curriculum, so any future Ninjitsu technique is 'in school' - but, to be fair, only at rank 5!

How many new ninjitsu techniques are we talking about here?

 

 

Also; as an aside, if you wanted to make a 'scorpion ninja', is there an innate problem with the mercenary shinobi school? The fact that you'd be claiming to be a bayushi or shosuro school is probably less important as that's a narrative detail, unless there's a scorpion-exclusive ninjitsu.

How much new ninjitsu is there?

You might also see - much like kenshinzen is kind of a 'fix' for Kakita duellists* - see a similar title as a 'fix' for shosuro if there's something that critical that they can't access.

 

 

* ignore whether it works. That's what it's meant to be.

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Actually the Kenshinzen is not restricted to Crane. Its a general title. I think you are using older lore here. Its not even restricted to bushi. 

We are talking about 9 new ninjutsu techniques. Basically, as of right now, Scorpion Clan has access to 1/3 of all Ninjutsu. There is no title (maybe in the future? But given that we just got the Ninja book, thats highly unlikely to say the least) to grant access, and just drastically expanding an existing curriculum is sure to create trouble elsewhere, if only with intended progression speed.

Maybe Scorpion arent intended to be THAT ninja-like after all? I mean, their schools are always called something else anyway. Just like 5e shifted around a few things about clans, the Scorpion is meant to be more of the dark side of the Crane, not so much the ninja assassins.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

much like kenshinzen is kind of a 'fix' for Kakita duellists*

* ignore whether it works. That's what it's meant to be.

HAHA! You made my day! I almost choked my coffee laughing!!!!
And yeah, it doesn't work ;)


Titles...are, such as missed opportunity. At least I can use them as source of inspiration to hand out bonuses and flavor to my PCs.
Btw, what is your opinion on that; If A title gives privileged  access to rank 1-5 kata, for example. If you get that title at an earlier rank, can you still get whatever rank 5 kata you want as part of this title progression?

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

Btw, what is your opinion on that; If A title gives privileged  access to rank 1-5 kata, for example. If you get that title at an earlier rank, can you still get whatever rank 5 kata you want as part of this title progression?

I would say yes, if the title is still 'open' when you try to buy it.

Because if you've got the 'privileged access' mark on a curriculum, you can buy it "without meeting the prerequisites". That statement is primarily talking about school curriculum rather than title curriculum, but the latter is described as functioning "like a school curriculum".

So if you're rank 1 but have the Emerald Magistrate title, you have free access to rank 2 Kata even though you're not rank 2, until you complete the title by spending 30XP. Note that once you've spent up a title and got the title ability, I would suggest that the title curriculum is 'closed' much like completing a school rank; you can't come back and get it later.

 

 

Off-topic, but interesting:

If I'm reading it right - this allows Emerald Magistrates to train in otherwise clan-specific Kata.

Lord Hida's Grip and Lord Shiba's Valour are both rank 2 Kata, covered by the Emerald Magistrate title, but are Crab and Phoenix specific in prerequisites.

However, 'privileged access' almost certainly ignores clan requirements as well, since the Crab Yasuki Merchant School can take 'privileged access' to Lady Doji's Decree - a Crane-specific shuji - at rank 5.

Which makes sense, when you think about it. Rank 2 Kata aren't 'defend-to-the-death' clan secrets, and the Emerald Magistrature is a cross-clan organisation with sensei from just about everywhere as instructors.

1 hour ago, Alisair Longreach said:

When FFG gets to the Scorpion book we might get more Ninja stuff, same with the book that also covers the Cat clan.

Indeed. With them being a comparatively new entity, I'd be amazed if we don't get them at some point; it wouldn't surprise me if the Scorpion and Cat are paired up in the same way the Crane and Deer or Crab and Falcon are; from what little we know they have the same 'somewhat specific minor-clan-knock-off' feel to them.

 

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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4 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

I would say yes, if the title is still 'open' when you try to buy it.

Yeah, makes sense. Makes titles so gamey... I just hate how titles are handled, basically replacing a school rank. But then, to get the most out of your title you need to take a title that is not similar to your school (a shugenja taking a title with katas for example) otherwise it is probably not worth it despite being more logical in a roleplay sense.

Very anti-fun and anti-roleplay to me. A bit like the new Bonds mechanic is. Yuck.

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2 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

But then, to get the most out of your title you need to take a title that is not similar to your school (a shugenja taking a title with katas for example) otherwise it is probably not worth it despite being more logical in a roleplay sense.

I think it's a balancing act:

  • Aside from Veteran Samurai games, you can't just 'pick' a title, and getting awarded a title which doesn't 'fit' your day job is distinctly less likely since generally it involves persuading a significant NPC (i.e. the GM) that you deserve it.
  • Getting access to (for example) Kata from a title is great, but if your character is primarily a shujenga....is it really worth it? Yes, all right, have Striking-as-fire. But you probably don't have the Martial Arts (Melee) skill to take much advantage of it, and that's probably not on your curriculum either. You can buy it as a 1/2 XP sunk cost....but now you're investing (comparatively) a lot of XP into something you're never going to excel at.
  • If you're looking at just a single technique that you absolutely must have, you have to balance out a title choice on whether you could have instead taken stolen knowledge.
  • Titles don't replace a school rank. You can still spend XP on the school rank instead - they run simultaneously (but if you try to pursue both simultaneously it'll take you longer to complete either).
  • Completing a title curriculum grants you the title ability. If you've taken a title which suits your character, this is likely to be far more useful. They're not on a par with school mastery abilities, but they can be good if they suit your character. Gunso's Lead from the Front ability, for example, only really helps if you're a decent cohort commander, not someone who took the title because they wanted to add a bunch of Shuji to their technique access types.

Note that unlike Emerald Magistrate's "* rank 1-2 kata", Gunso's "rank 1-5 kata" doesn't come with privileged access, by the way.

So a Gunso can't take Kata if they don't meet the prerequisites, which includes school rank, clan and technique class access to kata.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

I think it's a balancing act:

  • Aside from Veteran Samurai games, you can't just 'pick' a title, and getting awarded a title which doesn't 'fit' your day job is distinctly less likely since generally it involves persuading a significant NPC (i.e. the GM) that you deserve it.
  • Getting access to (for example) Kata from a title is great, but if your character is primarily a shujenga....is it really worth it? Yes, all right, have Striking-as-fire. But you probably don't have the Martial Arts (Melee) skill to take much advantage of it, and that's probably not on your curriculum either. You can buy it as a 1/2 XP sunk cost....but now you're investing (comparatively) a lot of XP into something you're never going to excel at.
  • If you're looking at just a single technique that you absolutely must have, you have to balance out a title choice on whether you could have instead taken stolen knowledge.
  • Titles don't replace a school rank. You can still spend XP on the school rank instead - they run simultaneously (but if you try to pursue both simultaneously it'll take you longer to complete either).
  • Completing a title curriculum grants you the title ability. If you've taken a title which suits your character, this is likely to be far more useful. They're not on a par with school mastery abilities, but they can be good if they suit your character. Gunso's Lead from the Front ability, for example, only really helps if you're a decent cohort commander, not someone who took the title because they wanted to add a bunch of Shuji to their technique access types.

Note that unlike Emerald Magistrate's "* rank 1-2 kata", Gunso's "rank 1-5 kata" doesn't come with privileged access, by the way.

So a Gunso can't take Kata if they don't meet the prerequisites, which includes school rank, clan and technique class access to kata.


I still think it is mostly a weird design decision. To take a 30xp title that basically "cost as much XP as a school rank". I don't see the fun in that personally.
I, as a GM, prefer to just hand out titles/status as a RP thing, and if I want to throw an ability then I go for it as I would hand out a magic item (or any other "bonus" in other rpgs.)

But that is probably just me, thinking how Titles are absoultely horrific design as a progression mechanic.

But the whole things that requires XP; patterns, bonds, etc. It is all very unfun to me. I guess you COULD split XP gains between "regular XP" and "XP for other progression mechanics".

oh, well. I'm already deep into changing how this game works. Might as well keep it up!

edit: to relatively explain my train of thought here, lets say a PC plays the Heir to a Daimyo. Because, why not! This is a game about movers (at least in my mind).

So, that PC's dad (the daimyo) end up dying. And the PC will become Daimyo.
Mechanically, the GM should be like "here is that garbage Daimyo title, and you need to ditch 30 something XP in it otherwise you wain't no Daiymo, ain't not getting that satus boost". I just find it very anti-roleplay, in an awful sort of way.

Worst than that, you could tell the player that hes got the title from the get go, but needs to complete it "before his father dies and he takes his place". Again, pretty much unfun to me.
Everything that costs "XP" I think is a lost opportunity of having rewards for PC that do NOT cost XP. It feels like playing a game of D&D where you hand out gold pieces and ask your players to "buy" their magical items. YUCK.

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

So, that PC's dad (the daimyo) end up dying. And the PC will become Daimyo.
Mechanically, the GM should be like "here is that garbage Daimyo title, and you need to ditch 30 something XP in it otherwise you wain't no Daiymo, ain't not getting that satus boost". I just find it very anti-roleplay, in an awful sort of way.

Slight correction: the moment the current incumbent very sadly accidentally brutally disembowels himself whilst shaving* you gain the Daimyo title.

You immediately gain the status boost upping your status by 20 and further increasing it to 55 if it would be less than that - so increase your status, and can use it in intrigues to Don't-You-Know-Who-I-Am to victory. What you don't gain is the title ability, Voice of Authority.

Once you've spent 36 XP on the Daimyo curriculum, you 'close' that title curriculum (meaning losing access to Courtier's Resolve if you haven't bought it and don't get access to it normally), but now - clearly settled into the role of Daimyo - your minions get an extra snap in their step since you're at TN-1 to order them about.

 

Don't get me wrong; I do - to an extent - agree. It would be nice if, much like a school curriculum, a title gave you one ability for being awarded it (the equivalent of your 'rank 0' ability) and another for completing it (the equivalent of your 'rank 6' ability).

 

Obviously I'm stuck waiting for DriveThruRPG to release Courts of Stone before I have any opinion on the rules for Bonds.

 

* Blackadder-San strikes again.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Don't get me wrong; I do - to an extent - agree. It would be nice if, much like a school curriculum, a title gave you one ability for being awarded it (the equivalent of your 'rank 0' ability) and another for completing it (the equivalent of your 'rank 6' ability).

Getting the ability too early (or too late) is not my issue. Having to spend 30+xp fully out of school rank to get it is my issue, as I don't think it is a smart way to do character progression.

Why does titles need to have an XP cost while they could only have an RP cost? Is what I'm basically coming down to. Same as to why Patterns need to have an XP cost, or Bonds need to have an XP cost. At the end of the day, you could be in a game with a rank 4 PC and another rank 1 PC with 1 title completed and 2 high rank bonds, and 1 pattern.
Mind blowing.


Using XP as a currency for everything just feels off and gamey to me. Titles are easily the price of one full rank in XP cost. Plus, they basically hinder the Roleplay making every Status gain a mechanical progression thing instead of a story. Oh, you already have the Daimyo Title in progress ? You can't become something else until you complete it! Or ditch the Title and lose the status ? like, wtf??
Bonds suffer from the same problem; decent idea, awfully executed.
Which is on par with many of the systems.

Edited by Avatar111

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My quick fix of the Title XP issue is that the title must be completed before the PC may advance to the next School Rank. On a metagame level as GM I am generous with XP so the players pain of having to spend XP on their Title is less intense. Also remember that Titles are awarded, not something the PCs can shop around for.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Alisair Longreach said:

My quick fix of the Title XP issue is that the title must be completed before the PC may advance to the next School Rank. On a metagame level as GM I am generous with XP so the players pain of having to spend XP on their Title is less intense. Also remember that Titles are awarded, not something the PCs can shop around for.

Do you impose the Title on the PC ? or merely ask them than they have to complete it before continuing their school rank if they decide to take it ?
and
Do all your PCs gets a title at the same point in the campaign ?

Edited by Avatar111

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Well, I started out with the Beginner Game adventure so all my PCs got the Emerald Magistrate Title and I expect them to complete it before advancing to rank 3. After that I will consult with my players on their PCs next Titles based on their motivations and campaign development.

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Posted (edited)

 

26 minutes ago, Alisair Longreach said:

Well, I started out with the Beginner Game adventure so all my PCs got the Emerald Magistrate Title and I expect them to complete it before advancing to rank 3. After that I will consult with my players on their PCs next Titles based on their motivations and campaign development.

That is a way of doing it, basically increasing the progression by sliding in Titles that NEEDS to be completed before a certain point.

I've been going super casual about it and just hand out Titles as "rewards". I ditch the whole title curriculum and Xp requirement.
I just redo the titles as: Status Gain + You gain one technique or ability from the curriculum (I either let them choose one in the curriculum or do a small list for them to choose from). In term of "balancing" this is basically giving them 3 free XP. And no, the title ability is never stronger than a technique.

At first I wanted to give them titles as per how the book suggests but they were like "that's garbage, I don't want to spend XP in there, I'll just focus on my school rank".
Same thing they answered when I talked about Bonds...

We just settled down with: GM will award stuff as he wants, same way we award rewards in other rpgs. Titles, Bonds, Nemuranai, Patterns etc, are all in the "reward/story progression category" and unrelated to XP whatsoever.

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)

Maybe title abilities should just be techniques with an RP requirement (that can never be waived), adjusting cost as needed for their power level?

Edit: One possible issue here is that sometimes the curriculum feels like more of a reward than the title ability, if you get access to techniques you don't otherwise have access to.

Edited by MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving

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1 minute ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

Maybe title abilities should just be techniques with an RP requirement (that can never be waived), adjusting cost as needed for their power level?

That is pretty much my feeling about it.
But then again "power level".. I haven't seen anything that horrifically strong in there. The Status Gain is most often than not the MAIN draw.

But it is cool to have your character start out as Yoriki, then Magistrate, then Emerald Champion; gain a little bit status each time, and maybe one ability.

Imagine if you had to "finish" all those titles with XP first... YUCK.

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Just now, Tonbo Karasu said:

On an partly related topic, has anyone heard anything about why the Deathdealer has access to a choice of 8 skills at creation, unlike every single other school?

Maybe because the way the school is designed is to be extremely versatile. You can be almost anything with that school. So they wanted to give the most possible starting concepts a chance.

dunno.
not that it breaks anything.

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Just now, Alisair Longreach said:

An alternative could be having the XP spent on the Title skills and Techniques also count towards the next School rank. Yes it is an XP discount and there will be balance issues.

at this point, if you are really interested in making the title curriculum an "XP progression", I think the best solution is to give your players "Title XP" that can only be spent in Titles. Basically splitting the XP gain in 2 different currency; regular XP, and other XP to be spent on titles or bonds or patterns etc.

you avoid balance issues, and you force the players into putting XP in the title or "other stuff".

still prefer to just go super casual and make it RP/Story rewards though.

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