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System inconsistency and how to combat it?

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Posted (edited)

This system is driving me a bit nuts and I could use some assistance in finding out if there are clarifications to some subsystems or if I am designing my own rules.

Incapacitated: It says I go unconscious if I take a critical strike, but what if I reduce that strike to 0-2 and it becomes a technical miss? Do I still go unconscious even though I wasn’t affected?

Poison and Jurojin’s Blessing:  Jurojin’s Blessing halves recover time for poisons and supernatural afflictions.  Most poison’s apply status conditions that go away when you refrain from a particular action.  How does that interact with halving recovery?  Are there any supernatural afflictions that you can naturally recover from where Jurojin’s Blessing actually applies?

NPCs:  Almost every NPC has advantages and disadvantages that aren’t detailed at all.  Are those rules defined anywhere?

More may follow, but right now I feel like I bought a system in beta.  The rules seem like they were rewritten multiple times but earlier sections were never revisited when later subsystems were revamped.  There are things I like about the system and I love the setting, but at least a quarter of the time I have to wonder if I am running this game correctly.

Edited by watts.nicholas.a
Grammar and better ending

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Posted (edited)

It is pretty much what you say it is...
The way to combat it is to make decisions as the GM. Do not doubt too much, just go with your guts.
The GM decide what is used for what and the players just deal with the GM's decisions.

This is a broken/unfinished system that requires a ton of GM's adjudication.

Does have some good foundations, they just never finished it nor do they care to finish it.

Edited by Avatar111

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Incapacitated: Yes, you still go unconscious on a Close Call result. Most likely it's a glancing blow.

Poison + Jurojin's Blessing: Keep in mind that all advantages and disadvantages have a narrative effect, and a mechanical effect distinct from that. That bit about the recovery time is narrative, so it applies whenever the group thinks it's relevant for enabling something on the PC's end or disabling something on the other side of the table. Compare this with the custom "Born Sailor" distinction on page 138, whose narrative effect is to guard against seasickness. Does the game have any rules for being seasick? No. But if the player says that they want it on their sheet then it should probably come up occasionally. (And if you still need a mechanical relation keep in mind that one already exists - the second effect of Jurojin's Blessing gives you the usual "reroll up to 2 dice" business.)

NPC advantages/disadvantages: There's a line on page 309 that talks about this:

Quote

Advantages and Disadvantages: NPCs can be given prewritten advantages and disadvantages (see page 99), but printed NPC profiles usually have specialized advantages and disadvantages that do not appear in that chapter. These are treated as distinctions (or adversities) that apply as the GM deems appropriate.

Just use them when they would seem relevant, based on their name and various tags. In that sense they're not unlike Aspects from Fate.

More generally, by default this game is not intended to have the mechanical heft of D&D or Shadowrun (for instance) where almost every interaction is mechanically scrutinized. Some of it will be (it reads like a crunchier version of Fate Accelerated), but some of it won't be as the situation merits. You can push the game to be heftier if you like (check page 289 for a sidebar that briefly outlines this), but the game doesn't regard it as necessary.

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So the crutch of the issue is that I come from a gaming career dealing almost exclusively with rule intensive systems and I need to retrain myself on rules light games.  Thanks for the guidance everyone, it was very helpful 😀.

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Depends what you played before.

L5R is way more crunchy than D&D 5th.

But less than Shadowrun.

It also have broken and rough mechanics in many places, which is probably the core of the issue. The foundation is good, but some of the polishing/finishing is off, especially in the details.

Nothing that makes it impossible to play, far from it. But you will often raise an eyebrow when a mechanic fails to achieve a sensible result (for better or worse) or seems to be absurdly crunchy and gamey in the wrong places and very vague and undefined in places where it should require a bit more structure.

Your mileage may vary. 

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I came from Shadowrun, DND 3.5, Pathfinder, GURPS and a myriad of others.  Technically I came from 1st edition ADnD, but the last time I tried a game like that I wrote pages of house rules that effectively turned it into 3.5.  Admittedly, I am headed that way now and that is how I am likely to overcome the snags I get caught in.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

Depends what you played before.

L5R is way more crunchy than D&D 5th.

But less than Shadowrun.

It also have broken and rough mechanics in many places, which is probably the core of the issue. The foundation is good, but some of the polishing/finishing is off, especially in the details.

Nothing that makes it impossible to play, far from it. But you will often raise an eyebrow when a mechanic fails to achieve a sensible result (for better or worse) or seems to be absurdly crunchy and gamey in the wrong places and very vague and undefined in places where it should require a bit more structure.

Your mileage may vary. 

Any version of D&D is some degree of crunchy, even 5E. It attempts to scale things down (and ended up as the "ask your GM" edition), but when people can dig deeply into the combat math as expected by the Adventuring Day and reverse-engineer the monster stats I wouldn't call it anything but rules-heavy. Inversely much of what L5R 5E is doing is scaling up from rules-light foundations and adding crunch. The core mechanic starts with you figuring out an approach based on your intention; depending on that you might use any of the rings.

But going on more with that will just get us stuck in the weeds. From what I've seen from you on these forums your design goals for this game are notably different from what the designers have. And that's not a problem on its own - everyone has preferences - but you're viewing everything through this lens and using that to say that "[thing I don't like] is bad!" when maybe this just isn't the game for you. Sometimes I've seen you misunderstanding or misinterpreting some rule just so you can call it out.

Edit: Compare this edition to 4E, where the rules were more complex and  yet they mostly served to push numbers around. Courtiers were a tossup between useful/niche and useless/niche, bushi varied between useful autoattacking and weird gimmicks, and shugenja were amazing knockoff wizards.

Edited by NFK

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, watts.nicholas.a said:

I came from Shadowrun, DND 3.5, Pathfinder, GURPS and a myriad of others.  Technically I came from 1st edition ADnD, but the last time I tried a game like that I wrote pages of house rules that effectively turned it into 3.5.  Admittedly, I am headed that way now and that is how I am likely to overcome the snags I get caught in.

L5R 5th is a bit less crunchy than Shadowrun but it's certainly in the same ballpark as D&D 3rd ed or Pathfinder (then again, I tend to think of most RPGs as low to mid-heavy rules systems - it's not about how many skills, classes or spells there are, it's about how complex the mechanics everything is built on are). Skill use in L5R 5th is definitely more complex than in Pathfinder, for instance.

The big difference is that a Pathfinder or something similar has a fairly strict set of rules: if you want to do something, how you do it is more or less explicitly explained in a rule and it's by and large always the same. L5R 5th on the other hand, in terms of core mechanics, is a bunch of guidelines and a non-exhaustive list of examples. Whatever you want to do, I can probably point you to a page (or, in some unfortunate cases, several pages throughout the entire book) that tells you what should happen. How it happens often depends a lot on interpretation and ad hoc decision making. How TNs are determined is completely vague. Approaches are literally the GM deciding which ring you use based on how you tell him you want to do something (and he'll also have to decide whether that changes the TN you'll roll against). There are long lists of possible uses for opportunities, but the book makes it clear you can really use them however you want as long as the GM is ok with it. Whether an advantage or disadvantage applies (or applies if you flip it) to a given situation is something that will vary from table to table (and you're encouraged to create your own). A whole lot of effects depend on interpreting the norms and social standards of the empire.

Some of that was certainly already the case in previous editions as well. And it isn't necessarily a bad way to do things either. I really wish the guidelines were a bit better in several cases though (those variable TNs for sure) and things like the advantages and disadvantages being so inconsistent and open-ended are a pain. It's definitely a system that needs a GM to make it work. That doesn't mean it's a light system, however.

 

4 hours ago, NFK said:

Any version of D&D is some degree of crunchy, even 5E. It attempts to scale things down (and ended up as the "ask your GM" edition), but when people can dig deeply into the combat math as expected by the Adventuring Day and reverse-engineer the monster stats I wouldn't call it anything but rules-heavy. Inversely much of what L5R 5E is doing is scaling up from rules-light foundations and adding crunch. The core mechanic starts with you figuring out an approach based on your intention; depending on that you might use any of the rings.

Eh.

Skill use in D&D: I use this skill, I have these modifiers to the roll which always work uniformly so I can just add them up from my char sheet, I roll 1d20 plus or minus whatever, the GM checks for success or failure, done.

Skill use in L5R fifth: I pick the most applicable broad skill available (or the GM tells me which it'll be), I explain my approach, the GM tells me which ring corresponds to that, whether there are modifiers to the dice pool, and picks a TN based on both general difficulty and approach, I roll my dice pool, I check what I want to (and can) keep in terms of strife and opportunities, success/failure is determined and I probably get to use opportunities (regardless of success), which are often modified by a tech or school ability, done.

I may have missed a step here or there, but based on skill use I would definitely not call D&D the the rules-heavy system when comparing it to L5R.

Edited by nameless ronin

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19 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

Skill use in D&D: I use this skill, I have these modifiers to the roll which always work uniformly so I can just add them up from my char sheet, I roll 1d20 plus or minus whatever, the GM checks for success or failure, done.

Skill use in L5R fifth: I pick the most applicable broad skill available (or the GM tells me which it'll be), I explain my approach, the GM tells me which ring corresponds to that, whether there are modifiers to the dice pool, and picks a TN based on both general difficulty and approach, I roll my dice pool, I check what I want to (and can) keep in terms of strife and opportunities, success/failure is determined and I probably get to use opportunities (regardless of success), which are often modified by a tech or school ability, done.

I may have missed a step here or there, but based on skill use I would definitely not call D&D the the rules-heavy system when comparing it to L5R.

I agree that L5R is procedurally more involved in adjudication of a roll.  However, in D&D 3.5/Pathfinder, the provisions of those rolls are almost always outlined in the book itself.  It is concrete.  Whereas, in L5R, I am seeing a lot of input coming from the GM on what gets rolled.  There is probably better terminology I could have used to explain myself there.  However, that has been my hurdle, as it had been a very long time since I have played a system where the exact process of resolving an event hasn’t been spelled out in a source book.  It will take some getting used to again, but I will get there and probably have a large set of house rules generated to facilitate gameplay at my table.

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, watts.nicholas.a said:

Whereas, in L5R, I am seeing a lot of input coming from the GM on what gets rolled.  There is probably better terminology I could have used to explain myself there.  However, that has been my hurdle, as it had been a very long time since I have played a system where the exact process of resolving an event hasn’t been spelled out in a source book.

That's pretty much it. It wouldn't be as bad if there was a bit more support for the GM to help with the adjudicating though. With some things, just having dealt with them once will make it easy in future occurences.

Edited by nameless ronin

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