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Hey all. :)

So my group is finally going to do some 55R and our group just so happens to lack any bushi, leaving the job of physical protection to NPCs.
My character, being an Ikoma Bard, is looking for ways to participate in combat without actually fighting, and I'm kinda coming up a lil blank?

Clearly there are Shuji that can be useful in a skirmish, even at character generation, such as Fanning the Flames. Making the opponents Dazed for the bushi? Sounds great! But... well, how can I apply that technique? In order to spend opportunity rolls on it, I need a primary roll to make, and that's where I'm not really seeing anything.

Am I missing something? I'm sure I could roll a Performance(Fire) roll to agitate my foes, but I don't see any mechanics to back that idea up.
Would I need to rely on Shuji that I just don't have yet on account of having no experience spent yet? Are there generic ways to participate that don't rely on actual fighting or using specific Shuji?

Any help would be a big help. :)

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Wait a minute.

Your lord is letting you faff about in combat without a yojimbo you can boss around?

Sounds like it's time for some protest-seppuku.

In all seriousness, I think a Performance check would serve in that case. Your goal could be to agitate your foes and keep them off-balance, or else to pump up your fellow samurai—maybe by composing the battle poem in the moment. I think you could also make actual combat rolls, just from more defensive stances. (I'm AFB right now, so I don't remember if "Fanning the Flames" requires the Fire stance or not.)

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Posted (edited)

The skirmish action you’re looking for in the rules is “Unique Action” (page 264 for skirmishes). This is basically a “do any skill check that makes sense” action. 

So performance to make a stirring speech, command to intimidate the enemy into submission, or even courtesy to shamelessly insult them are all valid choices to fish for Fire opportunities to activate Fanning the Flames. And while you’re at it, use your school ability to dump Strife on the poor target! Ikoma are very effective supports in skirmishes. 

You also have access from rank 1 to a rank 2 Shuji that is specifically designed for skirmishes and mass battles: slippery maneuvers. Very useful if you have 3 xp to spend. 

Edited by Franwax

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Slippery Maneuvers seems great for Mass Battle but underwhelming for Skirmishes, essentially being a "everybody can take a step or two towards that spot," (1 range band).

Am I getting that about right? I wanted to like it more, tell me I'm wrong? 😅

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I think I just have trouble wrapping my head around the way it's worded. 😅

"...choose a position containing terrain that you can see. Each target may immediately move 1 range band toward it."
That reads weirdly to me. Seems like a situation where, "that spot on the hill would be advantageous" but 1 range band won't get anyone there. On the other hand, the terrain everyone is already occupying could work as "terrain that you can see" but it feels really "gaming the system" that way.

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The question here is, if you make your performance check to fish for opportunities, do you still need to succeed on your check?

And if not, are there meaningful consequences to fail your performance check?

Or, do you just consider fishing for opportunities basically like successes used for a different purpose (in this case, to trigger Fanning the flames) ?

?

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Ikoma bard can actually be a pretty good warrior.  Remember that, if a combatant gets strife above their composure, then they lose the ability to keep dice with strife symbols.  This means that the Ikoma school technique can allow you to keep a few extra strife dice, or deny that ability to your opponent earlier than might otherwise happen.  Other than that, Ikoma bards can start with martial arts (ranged) and they can learn katas just like a bushi can..  in fact, they even start with a Kata and have one or two other Katas in their curriculum. Martial arts melee is also in curriculum at rank 1.  All of this together means that an Ikoma bard is actually very competent on the battlefield..  remember, Ikoma aren't courtiers because they choose not to to go to war, they are courtiers because other lions choose not to go to court.  With all of that though, the reality is that Ikoma truly shine when leading others.  Behind the Akodo, Ikoma are known for being the best tacticians in the empire..  so basically you stand back and shoot enemies while inspiring your allies.

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Posted (edited)

No Bushi? Maybe your Lord(s) are just trying to get rid of your party through combat? Because that would never happen in Rokugan...right?

Lord Bob: "I have this young Lion courtier from a branch of the family I can't stand....."

Lady Anne: "Eh. You're telling me. Let me tell you about some of the vassals I'm stuck with...."

::Pause and then they look at each other:: "...Wait a minute! Maybe there is something we can do about this ...." 

Edited by Void Crane

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On 3/22/2019 at 1:05 PM, Void Crane said:

No Busji? Maybe your Lord(s) are just trying to get rid of your party through combat? Because that would never happen in Rokugan...right?

Lord Bob: "I have this young Lion courtier from a branch of the family I can't stand....."

Lady Anne: "Eh. You're telling me. Let me tell you about some of the vassals I'm stuck with...."

::Pause and then they look at each other:: "...Wait a minute! Maybe there is something we can do about this ...." 

Also, if they die you have convenient reason for war with someone. It is pure win-win for the lords.

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On 3/21/2019 at 12:45 PM, Avatar111 said:

The question here is, if you make your performance check to fish for opportunities, do you still need to succeed on your check?

And if not, are there meaningful consequences to fail your performance check?

Or, do you just consider fishing for opportunities basically like successes used for a different purpose (in this case, to trigger Fanning the flames) ?

?

That's one of the various contradictions in the system. You're supposed to have a meaningful success/failure criteria to be allowed to do a check, but most of the times it's hard to define one for 'use skill' actions during a conflict system, since the opportunity-shuji pretty much entirely covers the outcome you're after, and success and opportunity are supposed to be different. 

Barring someone coming up with a specific situation appropriate success effect, I think being required to succeed on the check in order to use opportunities is not unreasonable; if you're trying to be intimidating (for example) in order to use * to pass your opponent strife, then if you fail the check (at whatever TN you and the GM have agreed), then clearly you weren't very intimidating, and denying the use of rolled * doesn't seem like an unreasonable house rule. 

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15 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

That's one of the various contradictions in the system. You're supposed to have a meaningful success/failure criteria to be allowed to do a check, but most of the times it's hard to define one for 'use skill' actions during a conflict system, since the opportunity-shuji pretty much entirely covers the outcome you're after, and success and opportunity are supposed to be different. 

Barring someone coming up with a specific situation appropriate success effect, I think being required to succeed on the check in order to use opportunities is not unreasonable; if you're trying to be intimidating (for example) in order to use * to pass your opponent strife, then if you fail the check (at whatever TN you and the GM have agreed), then clearly you weren't very intimidating, and denying the use of rolled * doesn't seem like an unreasonable house rule. 

however you play it, situations when players will want to roll just to put Strife on an opponent will be plentiful.
so sooner than later, anybody who actually played the game a few times, will run into this example and will need to "make a call".

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4 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

That's one of the various contradictions in the system. You're supposed to have a meaningful success/failure criteria to be allowed to do a check, but most of the times it's hard to define one for 'use skill' actions during a conflict system, since the opportunity-shuji pretty much entirely covers the outcome you're after, and success and opportunity are supposed to be different. 

Barring someone coming up with a specific situation appropriate success effect, I think being required to succeed on the check in order to use opportunities is not unreasonable; if you're trying to be intimidating (for example) in order to use * to pass your opponent strife, then if you fail the check (at whatever TN you and the GM have agreed), then clearly you weren't very intimidating, and denying the use of rolled * doesn't seem like an unreasonable house rule. 

  I can't say limiting opportunity use to successes is entirely unreasonable, but I also don't think it's entirely appropriate.  I think success and failure might change what possible uses for opportunity exist.. in the intimidation example, failing the check means you have not intimidated your target, but by spending opportunities you may still be able to intimidate your target's supporters enough that they stop supporting the target so vehemently, or they might even start suggesting that the target be cautious.

  I seem to recall the core rules mentioning a situation in which a PC fails a courtesy check in dealing with their lord, but then uses opportunity to add the "Subtly" keyword to their action so that the lord doesn't realize the PC was attempting to manipulate them.  On the flip side, using the snaring quality of a weapon doesn't actually require succeeding in the attack, which seems a little weird.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Black_Rabbit_Inle said:

  I can't say limiting opportunity use to successes is entirely unreasonable, but I also don't think it's entirely appropriate.  I think success and failure might change what possible uses for opportunity exist.. in the intimidation example, failing the check means you have not intimidated your target, but by spending opportunities you may still be able to intimidate your target's supporters enough that they stop supporting the target so vehemently, or they might even start suggesting that the target be cautious.

  I seem to recall the core rules mentioning a situation in which a PC fails a courtesy check in dealing with their lord, but then uses opportunity to add the "Subtly" keyword to their action so that the lord doesn't realize the PC was attempting to manipulate them.  On the flip side, using the snaring quality of a weapon doesn't actually require succeeding in the attack, which seems a little weird.


what do you make of those?


so... as a GM, you basically allow that? because otherwise it would be just too much houseruling needed. so, yeah, you can fail your check to intimidate, but use 3 opportunities to use fanning the flame, daze the target, and then use 1 more opportunity to give him 2 strifes.
which, at least to me, seems like a pretty legit intimidation result :D

Edited by Avatar111

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During the first campaign in a new system I always try not to house-rule anything.  I just want to see how the system plays out.

I like the idea of being able to use opportunities to soften the blow of a failed roll..  also in both cases (snaring and fanning the flames), the opportunity expenditure seems to be better until you consider that the actual success would end the conflict in the player's favor while the opportunity use simply controls the conflict.

  Personally, I don't see why the Ikoma is trying not to fight, or why are they "participating indirectly"..  There might be good reasons particular to the character, but avoiding combat isn't something the Ikoma bards typically worry about.  For that reason, especially in a party without Bushi, I would be tempted to make my bard the party's frontline fighter. But the situation specified is that the bard wants to "indirectly contribute".. in that case, @Franwax has it correct.. the Bard could use the "Unique action" to do some sort of social roll (probably to intimidate your enemies, rally your allies, or just get everyone to calm down).. which would then allow you to use your Shuji.  The "problem" with this is that the GM will need to figure out what success actually means.  If an intimidated party is forced to actually withdraw from combat (at least temporarily) for example, that is certainly better than the target becoming dazed and strifed.  I would also point out that causing your target to go past their composure should be somewhat of a gamble.  First you can't be sure whether the target will unmask or not, and if they do unmask you can't be sure exactly how that will play out.. if your bard causes their target to unmask and the target does so by cutting off the bard's head, has the bard really gained anything?

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, Black_Rabbit_Inle said:

During the first campaign in a new system I always try not to house-rule anything.  I just want to see how the system plays out.

I like the idea of being able to use opportunities to soften the blow of a failed roll..  also in both cases (snaring and fanning the flames), the opportunity expenditure seems to be better until you consider that the actual success would end the conflict in the player's favor while the opportunity use simply controls the conflict.

  Personally, I don't see why the Ikoma is trying not to fight, or why are they "participating indirectly"..  There might be good reasons particular to the character, but avoiding combat isn't something the Ikoma bards typically worry about.  For that reason, especially in a party without Bushi, I would be tempted to make my bard the party's frontline fighter. But the situation specified is that the bard wants to "indirectly contribute".. in that case, @Franwax has it correct.. the Bard could use the "Unique action" to do some sort of social roll (probably to intimidate your enemies, rally your allies, or just get everyone to calm down).. which would then allow you to use your Shuji.  The "problem" with this is that the GM will need to figure out what success actually means.  If an intimidated party is forced to actually withdraw from combat (at least temporarily) for example, that is certainly better than the target becoming dazed and strifed.  I would also point out that causing your target to go past their composure should be somewhat of a gamble.  First you can't be sure whether the target will unmask or not, and if they do unmask you can't be sure exactly how that will play out.. if your bard causes their target to unmask and the target does so by cutting off the bard's head, has the bard really gained anything?

obviously, every situations are different. that is not nearly a factor in the discussion.

the question is; do you allow intentionally missing checks to get more opportunities ? do you "punish" such behavior by making the failure of the check more costly than the gain from the opportunities ?

the hardest one to answer is; snaring.
it could very be the goal of the attacker to snare is opponent. so successes does not matter AT ALL.
then, why would successes ever matter? (isn't there a rule that mention you should not attempt a sterile check?)

it is up to the GM, depending on the situation, to punish or not a failed check. weird, ain't it?
will you let your player know what would be the result of their failure before they choose to either keep the opportunities to activate a technique or the successes ?

you see how clumsy it can get ?
when the intention of the check is sitting on the opportunity usage (Thousands of cases like that. Even in core gameplay loops like Duels) it just becomes weird.
In a duel ? Ok I'll make a unique action "taunt" with Fire stance to strife my opponent. If I fail ? he is not scared of me... will the GM decide to throw strife at me to "punish" my failure ? Is that fair ? are the players aware this can happen ?

I'm not saying I prefer a "roll a D20 to see if you succeed or fail". But L5R system is definitely not without flaws, especially since all these things are not covered in the rule book. These are situations that will happen to you during your first or second play session with decent gamers. I'm telling you that right now. How come the core book doesn't talk about that?

again, I'm not for or against either way of playing it out (I have my preferences though), but the question is legitimate. We are not talking about a +1 here or there on an obscure ability... we are talking about the core system.

Edited by Avatar111

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11 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

the question is; do you allow intentionally missing checks to get more opportunities ? do you "punish" such behavior by making the failure of the check more costly than the gain from the opportunities ?

Yes I allow it and no I don’t punish it. The outcome you get from success is different from the one you get from opportunities and the PC can choose which one to pursue. In the case of snaring, ok, you do snare but don’t inflict damage. 

I think it becomes easier to make peace with the “intentionally failing” bit by seeing opportunities as “alternative successes”. 

Same with the failure on intimidation with Fanning the Flames: you do not scare the enemy off; but you do anger them out of their mind... which is a perfectly understandable by-product of failing to assert your will on a recalcitrant foe:)

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Yes I allow it and no I don’t punish it. The outcome you get from success is different from the one you get from opportunities and the PC can choose which one to pursue. In the case of snaring, ok, you do snare but don’t inflict damage. 

I think it becomes easier to make peace with the “intentionally failing” bit by seeing opportunities as “alternative successes”. 

Same with the failure on intimidation with Fanning the Flames: you do not scare the enemy off; but you do anger them out of their mind... which is a perfectly understandable by-product of failing to assert your will on a recalcitrant foe:)

this is also my prefered way of playing.

 

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Yes I allow it and no I don’t punish it. The outcome you get from success is different from the one you get from opportunities and the PC can choose which one to pursue. In the case of snaring, ok, you do snare but don’t inflict damage. 

I think it becomes easier to make peace with the “intentionally failing” bit by seeing opportunities as “alternative successes”. 

Same with the failure on intimidation with Fanning the Flames: you do not scare the enemy off; but you do anger them out of their mind... which is a perfectly understandable by-product of failing to assert your will on a recalcitrant foe:)

to twist the bolt a bit more;

do you require the check to have a "meaningful" reason for succeeding ? knowing that the player.. doesn't care about succeeding ?

at some point, it can become as flat as; "well, I'm just rolling a social fire, here, I'll put some random flavor on it but we both know the purpose of the check!"

?

edit: in other words, despite the success of the check being totally irrelevant, do you force the player to come up with a "cool" idea anyway before you allow it?

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)

I would say "Punish" no, whatever the consequences for failure are are the consequences for failure. There MUST be some for it to be a situation worth rolling (just like there must also be a result for a success) but often those can just be narrative - maybe the bandits or enemy soldiers take a notice in the mouthy courtier and might take a swing at him (or at least, try and get up in his face and keep him from talking smack) or maybe you look like a total goof in front of your friends. 

EDIT: Actually, I guess in a combat situation the failure state of "I spent my action and did not accomplish my goal" can be a meaningful difference between failure and success states, but I wouldn't want to rely on that all the time because that might get dull and repetitive. 

Edited by UnitOmega

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2 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

to twist the bolt a bit more;

do you require the check to have a "meaningful" reason for succeeding ? knowing that the player.. doesn't care about succeeding ?

at some point, it can become as flat as; "well, I'm just rolling a social fire, here, I'll put some random flavor on it but we both know the purpose of the check!"

?

edit: in other words, despite the success of the check being totally irrelevant, do you force the player to come up with a "cool" idea anyway before you allow it?

I would encourage to find a meaningful goal for the action itself, achievable through successes, but I’m not too picky about it. So it’s not that hard to come up with. 

In effect, you can have up to two possible goals for your action: always one that rides on successes, and optionally one that rides on opps. Then the player is free to decide that they value the optional goal more than the “main” one. 

Also, they can very well fail at both 😛

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Opportunities are supposed to not be connected to success or failure. That's a deliberate and explicit design consideration. It's actually one of the decisions I very much approve of for this edition, so I definitely suggest not making opportunity use hinge on success. If there are opportunity uses that really should require success, then those specific ones should probably become an effect of a successful check instead of an opportunity, and other, more appropriate, opportunities should replace them.

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Ok.

So, If I want to spend a turn to heal in combat.

I can very much just call that I'll be doing a water Maneuvre action check, then try to fish for opportunities to heal strife and fatigue with water and then do a calming breath.

There would be no consequences for just "failing" my Maneuvre check so I basically decided to pursue that option and it is fine.

Ok, that is very similar to what I ended up with at my table. I'm trying not to be picky on needing a roll to have a meaningful goal for the action itself but I do encourage it to some degree, especially in narrative scenes! and might create some consequences for a failed roll (to a certain degree).

It works because I play my game with structured narrative time (not allowing players to roll whenever they want but basically controlling the amount of "turns" even when it is a narrative scene). But I was curious as to how other people handled such subject.

It is hard to deny that the designers clearly added some pretty powerful mechanical effects linked to opportunity usage and that they must have taken into consideration that players would aim for those in a certain amount of their checks.

Just weird that the game doesn't really embrace this nature of its system by never putting too much seriousness on their opportunity usage appendix (calling it "examples") that seem thrown together without too much consideration (though the fact that they added more in their Shadowland sourcebook seems to mean that they do consider it a mechanical tool to some degree) when it clearly is a pretty powerful tool.

My brain have a hard time to compute why many of the system's parts are that malleable or unassumed. Always leaving the final decision on how the game should be played in the players hands instead of having made sure that the game was more tight (in the case of opportunity usage by not just putting some examples in an appendix but placing it in the right rule section as they did with invocations or with Shadowland.

Anyway, thx all. It was a very enlightening derailing.

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In my campaign I have an Ikoma bard NPC who does occasionally take actions which I don't care if they succeed or not, just so she can use her school ability and Shuji.  Because I don't want my NPC defining the conflict anyway, and because my PC's pretty much breeze through all encounters without any help, I allow her to have "actions" that don't really matter..  However, the game does say that if success doesn't matter, no roll should be made.

  To me, the issue with the maneuver check to heal is about the fact that the player doesn't seem to think that moving matters as much as healing, but if the character fails to move, they will still be in immediate danger of taking more damage, which completely negates any healing the character might receive.  The only real way to avoid damage without moving out of harm's way, is to get someone else to deal with the problem..  which won't always be successful, or even possible.. so moving is actually more important than healing if the goal is to survive.

  Looking at snaring, let's say that our bard is trying to subdue someone without seriously hurting them..  that seems to me to be the situation in which snaring is most useful, but even here, snaring doesn't actually end the conflict, whereas successfully attacking has the chance of doing so.. remember that "incapacitated" pretty much means a person can no longer fight but isn't seriously wounded.  Snaring a person doesn't even stop them from attacking, it only slows them down.  Now there may be situations in which the attacker actually can't hit the target due to spell effects, terrain effects, air stance and other such things (I had a mass battle the other day where my guys needed 6 successes to succeed on their actions against one of the PC's units.).. this kind of situation is what snaring is for.  Sometimes the opportunity is all you can get, but it's rarely actually better than success when you really think about it.

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Yes, sometimes the success of the check will be more important than opportunities.

But not always. A lot of the time opportunities will matter more.

In your maneuvre example, sure moving out of harms way might be the first goal in that case, but many other case the first goal is to heal a bit.

There will always be a way to say "yes but in that case successes would be more important". The truth is though, in game, that is not really the case.

But I think most people here agreed to say that "fishing for opportunities" is part of the gameplay and that success of the check can very much be the secondary objective on some checks.

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