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Kaiju

Does Afflicted stack? How does a Hida EVER get tainted?

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As written, basically after every fight with an Oni, you just do a Ritual of Cleansing and remove all (or just one?) Afflicted stati and are fine. No taint ever happens. Same goes with a Monk who just keeps spamming Cleansing Kiho until he bursts. 

How does anyone ever get tainted unless they are 2 weeks away from the next person with access to Rituals and a working brain? How doesnt every Hida, every crab samurai have Ritual of Cleansing?

Am I missing some way to get tainted that isnt easily removed by this?

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Taint is not scary in this edition. I was hoping the Shadowlands book might make it a bigger deal, but from the reactions on this forum that is not the case. I don't think picking up taint from fighting Shadowlands critters or prolongued travel through the Shadowlands should be a massive risk either, it's just that as is there's no risk at all for anyone taking a minimum of care. Same with maho use.

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Alright, the solution is actually quite simple: Do not allow videogamey spamming of the same skill to get the same effect over and over, as a general rule.

A prepared samurai who becomes afflicted can try ONE ritual, ONE spell, ONE kiho and so forth. If something fails it didnt fail because "it might work next time" but because it simply does not help. This way, you have (depending on your support situation) multiple chances to get rid of Afflicted. If the ritual fails, the Kiho doesnt burst or you have multiples, there is no shugenja and no jade tea - I ll see you again in two weeks doing your check to buy some lease on life.

I realize that I started to read the rules too "tabletop-y". Taint happens if this is not a video game.

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5 minutes ago, Kaiju said:

Alright, the solution is actually quite simple: Do not allow videogamey spamming of the same skill to get the same effect over and over, as a general rule.

A prepared samurai who becomes afflicted can try ONE ritual, ONE spell, ONE kiho and so forth. If something fails it didnt fail because "it might work next time" but because it simply does not help. This way, you have (depending on your support situation) multiple chances to get rid of Afflicted. If the ritual fails, the Kiho doesnt burst or you have multiples, there is no shugenja and no jade tea - I ll see you again in two weeks doing your check to buy some lease on life.

I realize that I started to read the rules too "tabletop-y". Taint happens if this is not a video game.

The whole game is abusable with spamming.

Which is a big design issue.

You can always come up with houserules though ;)

Sucks a bit the designers of the game were not super good.

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20 minutes ago, Kaiju said:

Alright, the solution is actually quite simple: Do not allow videogamey spamming of the same skill to get the same effect over and over, as a general rule.

It's not like a Cleansing Rite is all that difficult for the kind of shugenja that has any business traipsing through the Shadowlands though, particularly if they can and want to spend a Void point. Who needs to spam anything?

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

It's not like a Cleansing Rite is all that difficult for the kind of shugenja that has any business traipsing through the Shadowlands though, particularly if they can and want to spend a Void point. Who needs to spam anything?

I mean, worst comes to worst you spam. Why spend that void point ? ;)

 

Anyway, I run my game in constant structured time (and I vary the duration of the "rounds" between skirmish lenght to downtime (can be a few days!) lenght.

Each player takes One turn per "round".

This game simply doesn't work if you start to do actions with checks left and right.

Anyway, it is weird at first but my players finally ended up finding it interesting as it adds a lot more pressure to the decisions you make on what to spend your actions on.

 

Good luck though, as written, the game is not complete. It requires a lot of work from the GM and the group to set their own "limits" or "ways to interpret the rules".

But that is all we got for new5r... A quickly put together rpg designed by people with either not much interest or not much time.

At least the writers and graphic designers are knocking it out of the park!

Edited by Avatar111

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It's a Void (Theology) TN 3 downtime activity. "Spamming" it is already not a problem since that's harder for starting characters to reach and it presents an opportunity cost for not performing some other downtime activity. Other rituals? Treatment with Medicine? Preparing an invocation? A handful of other things like Lady Shinjo's Speed or Just as Predicted? Pursuing your ninjo to remove strife? Various narrative effects like searching a building for clues (page 170) or jury-rigging a trap (an application of page 148)? Those are all precluded if you choose to attempt a Cleansing Rite.

Also I'm fine with this way of doing things. Before Taint used to be a progress bar that only went in one direction and made characters functionally unplayable by Rank 2 or sometimes even Rank 1. Not only were there visible effects (which invariably got the Kuni and others to either kill you or ship you off into NPC territory), but you also had to deal with constant checks against an escalating infection. Nowadays? You can at least deal with it as a PC. It's not like it doesn't still have risks but at least you're not a ticking time bomb of a character. It means that the entire conflict with the Shadowlands isn't just this sprawling overwrought Forever War that always has the highest of stakes. With these kinds of options and tradeoffs there's more narrative room to work with.

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Posted (edited)

Yes if you are strict with the downtime activities and play mostly in structured time, this game is better for it.

If you allow action spamming, you will run into problematic situations.

As a GM, it is a good thing to let your player know that the game functions with stricter gameplay than usual rpg games.

Since the GM decides the length of the downtime activities (or structured narrative time) you can say "allright, you guys have a few days, so what will be your ONE downtime activity?".

If you start allowing rolls to players whenever they see fit, the game breaks. It is slightly weird at first for the players to understand that but... at least in my experience, the gameplay becomes more fun.

The hardest to manage is semi-long structured time, like, an evening in a palace. If one of your PC wants to engage with an NPC as his "activity", it is sometimes hard to nail that with only one check as the PC might be tempted to say "I roll for this, I roll for that". But keep it strict, be like; "ok if you want to try to decipher if that npc is lying to you, then that is your activity, you won't be able to convince him of something because your focus is on deciphering lies".

So even in a "structured narrative conversation" I limit the amount of interactions to "rounds" that can be of specified duration that is always more than just a few seconds.

Sounds weird, but it works. And makes the game less abusable.

Never played an RPG in which you need to structure time that much, but otherwise the game breaks.

If you want to play with checks for every small actions, then switch to Intrigue or Skirmish mode.

Edited by Avatar111

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Heavy use of structured time might work, yes. 

I ve played a lot of RPGs where this was necessary. Any RPG with a "roll to acquire item" mechanic is such a case, since people will spam rolls until they get their super-rare rifle of damnation + 4 with laser sights. Back then, I simply limited the number of rolls allowed per location, because there is just so much shopping you can do in a place before you d have to wait for new deliveries and such. Ingame gambling is another of these problematic mechanics in many RPGs, where if its skill-based, you need to limit it so a party doesnt just stay in town a few days "making money" with a bunch of rolls before they move on. You cant ALWAYS put time limits on everything.

It really comes down to a decades-old problem: the closed door. A group of players stands before a closed door in a dungeon, and the barbarian tries to break it. The strength roll fails. There is no really pressing time, and on the other side is nothing that will react to repeated hammering on the door that isnt already alert, so there is basically no reason for the barbarian not to keep trying until he rolls the natural 20, or whatever he needs. Why? Because we have quietly decided that his roll reflects ONE ATTEMPT. The roll didnt reflect his ability to break down the door, it reflected how much random strength he put into that particular kick. Once you consider a roll the entire result of your total effort into a task, and a measurement of what you are capable of under these circumstances, it starts making more sense. Then the roll means the barbarian cant open the door by force, and there needs to be another solution. (of course then the wimpy mage comes with a natural 20 and it all ceases to make sense anyway).

I am leaning towards the general perspective in all RPGs, in order to unclutter gameplay and have it make at least cineastic sense (you dont see John McClane hammering on that elevator door 10 minutes straight) that a roll represents the sum effort of your attempts to deal with the task at hand. If you fail, that approach simply does not work.

So if the Ritual didnt work, this particular instance of Affliction apparently cannot be removed by the ritual you (or the person doing it) knows. Doesnt help if you go again tomorrow. Or if you reforge that blade and fail, you now have a lump of steel in useless condition and will basically need to forge an entirely new weapon, or buy one, not just come again tomorrow as if nothing happened. 

This allows for Taint and Affliction to work very well within the spirit and rules of the game, and allows for some GM leeway to make the story more interesting. If somebody fails the ritual, has no jade tea, has no monk nearby, no shugenja who can help, basically lacks the entire support infrastructure of the crab clan, then the last thing he MAY be able to try is to search for somebody within the next 2 weeks who has access to these things. He cannot sit at his camp and just keep doing the ritual every day. So our case of unprepared affliction becomes a little quest for salvation. In the extreme case of none of these things being availabe within 2 weeks of travel, I guess you could say that this is how samurai get tainted. After all, one ring of taint is barely a problem anyway.

If the same character manages to be caught out 5 times with affliction without any support system and keeps failing his rituals, I think he is supposed to be one of the bad dudes, anyway 😛

 

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something to consider outside mechanics but regarding the fluff.  Something has to "remove" Shadowlands Taint in the Ritual--whether it's "burned" or transmuted or whatnot.  Default assumption is that the kami are responsible which makes such an endeavor a risk in exposing those kami to Shadowlands Taint vs. any other spiritual ailment.  From previous editions, the possibility of turning kami into kansen was enough of a deterrent for most shugenja, priests, and monks except in very important circumstances.

I'll probably incorporate a similar concept if there's a bit too much cavalier attitude.

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Posted (edited)

A rule that works very well with L5R rpg, that I took from another game is;

The "let it ride" rule from Burning Wheel RPG (I invite you to go check it out, the rule is simple).

Basically, once a check is made, you "let the result ride" at least until the scene is over.

The example they use is; you want to stealth into a mansion? Well, you roll your stealth check and the result is valid for as long as the scene lasts. You don't need to do a new stealth check everytime you pass one enemy or you turn a corner.

This can work both ways, if you succeed on the check it is obviously favorable to the player as for the reminder of the scene the player is acting "as stealthily as their roll's result". Though, if they failed the check then, "stealthing" isn't an option anymore for the reminder of the scene (or until the GM decides that the situation changed drastically enough to warrant a new try).

Now, how long is a scene? Well in L5R a scene can last up to a couple of days, even more!

Hence why if you play with "let it ride" and you structure your narrative time, you can basically control the flow of the checks.

It makes the players decision harder to make and very meaningful! Every decisions needs to be made carefully as there is no turning back or second try.

I find it works amazingly well with this game because of the intense decision/consequence aspect of the setting.

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)

Let It Ride (rule taken word for word in Burning Wheel RPG)

One of the most important aspects of ability tests in game play in Burning Wheel is the Let It Ride rule: A player shall test once against an obstacle and shall not roll again until conditions legitimately and drastically change. Neither GM nor player can call for a retest unless those conditions change. Successes from the initial roll count for all applicable situations in play.

A GM cannot call for multiple rolls of the same ability to accomplish a player’s stated intent. Nor can a player retest a failed roll simply because he failed. Tests must be distilled down to as few rolls as possible. The successes of those rolls ride across the entire situation, scene or session. If a player failed a test or generated no successes, the result stands. If he was hot and got seven successes, those stand for the duration.

 

 

Sweet and simple! the GOLD line in there is: "Tests must be distilled down to as few rolls as possible" 

Gosh I derailed that thread....

Anyway, I invite you to try that in your L5R games for any scenes outside skirmish/intrigues (which are basically "action sequences" in which you can try to bash a door twice because there is a sense of danger/time etc being a conflict scene).

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)

In L5R, if we have 3 types of "scenes"; narrative, downtime and conflict.

Since Downtime Scene are relatively structured; you pursue one activity, or roughly one activity per 2 days if the downtime scene lasts for more than 2 days (always at the GM's discretion). They work really well with the game's system (just don't use the opportunities on p.329 as this is tedious and unnecessarily bloated, as all the p.329 is, really...)

Conflict Scenes also work really well.

SO this leaves us with the problematic Narrative Scenes, in which the big spam can happen.

Hence why, if you play out your Narrative Scenes more like the Downtime Scenes; allowing one "activity" per player then the story pushes forward a bit without players having the opportunity to intervene, then you do another round of "activity". These Rounds can be relatively quick, slower than during a Conflict Scenes, but faster than in a Downtime Scenes, so maybe around 2minutes to 30minutes per Round, depending. Actually a whole supper scene could be 2-3 "activities" per player. Every checks being a certain amount of back and forth that you don't need check for (that would be an Intrigue otherwise).

I find you end up with the best gameplay for this system and setting. It removes the control a bit from the players though, so make sure that their choices do matter a LOT and that whatever action they decide to take (ie: flirting with that protagonist during the supper scene) very meaningful and only requiring ONE check, not like back and forth checks (which isn't something that works well with this system outside of Conflict Scenes). You end up with a nice flow.

ok. I derailed too much.
sorry, yet again.
 

Edited by Avatar111

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How do you "spam" this during narrative scenes? Downtime scenes are already a defined concept, with some strict boundaries and some loose ones, but if nothing else they're distinct from the freeform intent of narrative scenes. And the game offers guidance on how to work these in various ways (page 248), like limiting what someone can do ("What Can Be Accomplished in a Downtime Scene?") to adjudicating how much free time PCs might actually have or not have ("Long Downtime Scenes") to discussing how to deal with lengthy timeskips ("Extremely Long Narrative Gaps"). There's also a sidebar (page 247) on how to pace scenes so the narrative structure doesn't get disjointed, but regardless there's enough in the text to keep things from getting out of hand. And like I said before, if someone is performing the Cleansing Rite then they aren't doing a different downtime action.

Or on the other hand, if you're in a narrative scene then you shouldn't be doing a series of rolls in the first place. If you're making a bunch of rolls then you can move it to a conflict scene (page 247). If the action only merits one roll, if any, then you can instead move it to a narrative scene (page 249). The whole point of this business is that you should escalate or deescalate the complexity of play as the situation demands. If the PCs are in a position to "spam" whatever then the group doesn't need to deal with a lot of structure by making a lot of rolls. Maybe they need one roll. Or maybe they don't need any, instead getting a result based on their known abilities and group consensus. (Eg, "you can clearly talk circles around the local magistrates and get them to agree to a tax exemption".)

All that said, going back to the original quandary of "why don't all the Hida have this" the real answer is that you needn't treat the rules as the "physics" of the game world. ("Rules-as-physics" for short.) Instead the rules are around as a lens for interacting with the game world. Sure, maybe a lot of the Hida do have this ritual and thus feel like they can risk further exploration into the Shadowlands. Or maybe another group doesn't and consequently they don't pass more than a hundred feet into such blighted territory. Either way, if they're NPCs they don't need any kind of stats if they're not doing things onscreen.

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27 minutes ago, NFK said:

How do you "spam" this during narrative scenes?

Just playing Fu Leng's advocate here, but if one approach doesn't succeed why shouldn't a PC be allowed to learn from their failure and attempt the same skill with a different approach?  It all depends on the circumstances and consequences of that failure. If the GM doesn't escalate the difficulty (wounds festering making TN more difficult, maybe the suspicious tower guard calling backup, or running out the clock), the PCs should have leeway. Personally, I agree with avatar that it's up to the GM to set the conditions for the skill roll (ratchet up the tension and economy), else why bother with a roll if failure or success is trivial? This game forces us to think about what makes for a decent challenge.. being exposed to the taint after a casual encounter with hordes of undead at the wall, or being lost and delirious in the Shadowlands without the luxury of a restful downtime scene? There needs to be a more guidance for setting up the appropriate challenges at all ranks of play, but this is a good start.

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Posted (edited)

all this is super cool. 
but yeah, it doesn't make the "afflicted" condition any less trivial.

both the rank 1 ritual and the even more busted Cleansing Spirit rank 1 kiho can clean it up, in the case of the Kiho, it is basically only a support action (not even downtime). Can probably be tried multiple times before the "2 weeks period" happens (especially in the case of the Kiho! which is basically an instant thing to do).

how do you HOUSERULE this again ? :) your call....
but if you don't, won't be any taint in your group if a Shugenja or Monk is there (which you might be cool with! at least the monk can't remove the afflicted condition from himself...).
such is the nature of this game...it requires lots of refinement to make it what you want it to be.

Btw, really tempted to nerf Cleansing Spirit so that it cannot remove the Dying or Afflicted conditions. This thing is insane with a Togashi. Totally busted.
WHY
WHHYYYYY

Edited by Avatar111

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I wouldn't houserule it at all? If the players are prepared to invest both XP and time (in the form of downtime or conflict actions) into these...why do I need to yell at them for wanting competence in a very specific field and being honest about that? Like I said above, in prior editions Taint used to only proceed in one direction and was something you ended up being super cautious about. Because of this it was always and invariably a high-profile mechanic. There was no lesser setting on that dial that you could live with as PCs. Now with the Cleansing Rite and other options the question isn't about how much irreparable damage that oni is going to do on behalf of the Shadowlands, because of course it was an agent of the Shadowlands in prior editions, or whatever. Now it might be about how the locals will react to news of a stampeding monster in the area. Or about  what public response the regional government will have, likely centered around keeping out more monsters. Or about how the damage is going to be repaired. Or about how much repairing that damage will cost in time and resources. And if the PCs happen to be nearby then they can factor into all of those newly available plot threads.

More generally, Avatar111, you've got a very particular idea of how this game should work. And a lot of these issues you're bringing up...I would not characterize as failures of the product itself. Rather, they're just disconnects between what the designers intended and what you're looking for out of your own game. Everyone has preferences; no one person's should be final on its own.

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Posted (edited)

I thought the original post was about "how does someone gets Tainted?"

That means the person who wrote the thread had the intention of making the taint something a bit more, serious.

According to the rule as written, the afflicted condition is easy to cure and trivial.

So what is your answer to that person? Houserule your game because indeed, the afflicted condition is not a menace.

Same answer as me.

Try again...

It was not "my" idea of how this game should work, it was the person who wrote that thread's idea.

Edit: and if your answer to the original poster is; "yes, it is a trivial condition, and no, I don't think you should change it" then you are not really helping him to fulfil his/her intention.

Edited by Avatar111

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I know we're talking about rules here, but the psychological and social implications of being corrupted should not be understated either. Prevention might be as simple as sometimes available prophylactics, but just being corrupted should have lasting effects given uncertain rates of successfull curing. I'd be tempted to make this a hidden roll to play up the suspicion, either hiding the TN for those administrating the afflicted, or hiding the result from afflicted PCs.

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Posted (edited)

One thing to bear in mind is that player characters are also the narrative exception in the setting so giving them an "out" regarding Taint isn't as bad as it sounds. Their relatives and friends, however, are perfectly fine targets to demonstrate the impacts of Shadowlands Taint--to include the Kami corrupting elements I mentioned earlier.
The magic paradigm for L5r has always been different than most games where it's technically social interactions with the kami to establish effect condensed into a roll.  Of times, for game expediency, that notion is glossed over which is where the "spamming" comes into play. 
Even if one doesn't want to go into the Shadowlands Taint being dispersed elsewhere from a Cleansing Ritual, the approach of having the kami just being too taxed from efforts like that might be something to consider. I'm not saying a downright denial, but maybe higher TNs.

this is also assuming that the kami in the area aren't corrupted to begin with. Communing with the spirits is probably a good idea before doing the Rite. Of course that's a Downtime or Support action in itself.

Edited by NeoSamurai
adding more info

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The "kami are exhausted" is actually a good idea I hadn't thought of. Near the Wall, where most tainting happens (presumably), kami probably have their hands full already and you need to get in line. Higher-ranking officers probably skip ahead on the line, too. And the closer you get to the Shadowlands, the higher the likelihood of whatever answers is a corrupt kami, which would exacerbate the problem, so it's entirely possible shugenja aren't really all too keen on just spamming the thing. Conversely, the FARTHER from the Wall you are, the less likely it is someone actually got the cleansing tools necessary, so you just got yourself a free quest hook.

 

Cleansing your taint (haha) should, regardless, be treated the same as Medicine checks or Path to Inner Peace - you get one shot at being targeted by it, and if it fails, sucks to be you.

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On 3/26/2019 at 8:38 AM, JBento said:

Cleansing your taint (haha) should, regardless, be treated the same as Medicine checks or Path to Inner Peace - you get one shot at being targeted by it, and if it fails, sucks to be you.

Coming late to the conversation but yes. This. I don't think you get to spam the same treatment. Hope it works! If not, my sister's maid's cousin heard from the geisha that there is a Mantis/Unicorn shugenja *somewhere* who has a different treatment that is said to effective, and based on gaijin techniques.... (if you can find them. if its real. if they are willing to use the expensive process on you)

I have the though that for most campaigns its probably a good idea to have a fairly reliable way to get rid of the taint. Getting tainted sucks. Being outed as tainted renders you fairly useless in most court situations. Most of the time I experience L5Rs the Taint is a threat that's out there and its "scary" because its debilitating if you get it...but the game centers on the courts and the number of tainted NPC samurai you meet is essentially close to zero. Becoming tainted is a bit like death in that it could easily lead to character retirement. It's a development that IME usually limits options, rather than leads to new ones. Unless it becomes a focus of the campaign.

That said, Taint could be a very effective tool in story telling if your campaign is leans into it. I've never really played a game that centers on the Wall. But what if my experience was different? What if it wasn't *that* uncommon to have a tainted Ring and still go to court? You probably struggle a lot against prejudices held by "prissier" or "more cultured" samurai of the courtier class, but also maybe you have the respect of the more martial and militant bushi samurai for fighting the real fight. At this point wrestling with and managing taint becomes a major theme of your campaign. How much is too much? When do you go from asset to liability? There could be (tragic flavored) gold to mine that kind of story.

 

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But you see, that’s the thing. You should never be able to get rid of the Taint once it has taken hold. That’s what makes it so scary. Once you’re “infected” it only goes one way. The best you can hope for it to slow down its progress by a stark regimen of jade petal tea and strict monitoring by the Kuni (or Asako inquisitors). 

Now, if you’re talking about the afflicted condition ok.. there’s still a chance. 

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4 hours ago, Franwax said:

But you see, that’s the thing. You should never be able to get rid of the Taint once it has taken hold. That’s what makes it so scary. Once you’re “infected” it only goes one way. The best you can hope for it to slow down its progress by a stark regimen of jade petal tea and strict monitoring by the Kuni (or Asako inquisitors). 

Now, if you’re talking about the afflicted condition ok.. there’s still a chance. 

The thing is, it's not scary once players realize how easy it is to drop that afflicted condition: everyone just takes purification rites, and assist massively.

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