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Longes

Shinseist vs Fortunist vs Togashi

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Posted (edited)
  • Togashi Tatooed Monk
    • They're all about the Kihos - their school ability gives them bonus successes at one or more Kihos, meaning Burst Effects happen more reliably. Since most Kihos focus on punching people, that's pretty much what the Togashi school draws you to specialise in, with a good selection of fighting skills and Kiho available at early levels on the curriculum. The iconic kung-fu monk of the setting.
  •  Fortunist Monk
    • Doesn't get default Kiho access - open hand style as an automatic day 1 kata goes some way to counteracting this, but generally the least 'fighty' monk school. Gets a (limited) selection of invocations from appropriate groups associated with a specific Fortune (making them less flexible than a true shujenga with free access to any elemental invocation), but again gets extra bonus successes. Basically a monk/shujenga hybrid.
  • Shinseist monk
    • Not quite as kiho-focused as the Togashi, but does get access to Kihos. More flexible in a fight, because they get free access to both Kata and Kiho, but at a cost of access to shuji, which leaves them lagging behind the other two in intrigues. Extremely flexible if you are prepared to throw yourself into situations where you're not that competent - the school ability encourages you to use void points to engage in situations, by letting you use your school rank as a skill rank when spending a void point, meaning you can spontaneously pull rank 1 or 2 of an obscure skill out of your backside a few times a session, which can be very useful if a party is blindsided by a situation. Very good 'cryptic mentor' archetypes for this reason, as granddad whups some bandit general, commenting that "battlefield command is actually a lot more like playing Go against your uncle Koshiro-sama than I thought it would be....".
  • Kaito Shrine Keeper
    • Also technically monks!
    • No kiho access - getting limited preferential access to invocations, like the fortunist monk. My wife describes them as basically Sailor Mars....a classic 'shinto priest' look with a specialist focus on archery and (at least at lower levels) air elemental invocations (other elements are available but come at higher school levels). The ability to reduce the TN of an invocation is nice since reduced TN means you may get away with keeping less results, which helps avoid backlash. Plus, applying sacred to an arrow is valuable in and of itself since it makes your arrow armour-piercing against many nasty monsters, and the ability to 'lob' tempest of air arrows at targets a safe distance away rather than have the 'blast' centre on you is a great tactical trick. 
Edited by Magnus Grendel

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So it seems like Togashi and Shinseist are the closest to the archetypal enlightened kung-fu buddhist. If you had to choose between the two, what would you choose and why? I'm assuming for both Void 3/Earth 3/Fire 2 would be a good starting stat combo.

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The Togashi Ise Zumi is probably the winner in a cage match. The school's power of granting bonus successes to certain kiho (tattoos) will almost certainly go to some kiho that empowers your unarmed strikes ... and that will add up. Out of combat you have you have access to shuji which will make you better in court and most social situations. I pick Togashi. 

That said the Shinseist is still pretty cool. If you want to invest in MA (Melee or Ranged) you will have a broader range of weapons combos which in itself could make you more dangerous in some situations. Naginata + the Iron Forrest kata might shut down an Ise Zumi (or anyone else) who needs to be at range 1 to hit. You would need a high water ring to make this work. Out of combat...while the Ise Zumi is (probably) better than you at social encounters, your ability to periodically bust out "virtual" skill ranks when you spend a Void point means that you will be the one who "unsticks" the party when you don't collectively have the right skill for the situation. Imagine an investigation that hits a pinch point where you need Commerce or Skullduggery to find a certain clue. NO ONE in your group has those skills. Normally you are out of luck. But the Shinseist spends a Void point and probably makes the check.

As for your Rings I do not recommend a Void 3 at creation. Pick another Ring to set at 3. Void doesn't help you build Stamina or Composure. It doesn't help with Focus or Vigilance. You will want it down the road, but you'll have to build up for it. My opinion. 

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, Longes said:

So it seems like Togashi and Shinseist are the closest to the archetypal enlightened kung-fu buddhist. If you had to choose between the two, what would you choose and why? I'm assuming for both Void 3/Earth 3/Fire 2 would be a good starting stat combo.

If you're going for a high Void ring, Shinseist is good; provided you can keep void points "in stock", it lets you approach any situation with a minium level of skill. Void 3 means starting with 2 void points in each session, which is good; they're one of the few schools where that's probably worth the comparative lack of advantage of the void ring on stuff like endurance/composure/focus/vigilance. Otherwise I'd agree with @Void Crane and leave your void ring wherever it lands from family, clan and school, and not take void as options.

If you plan on getting into a fight, Earth 3 is a good call for endurance and composure, but for a togashi I'd take either water or fire for a second '3' rank ring instead of Void. Given your starting Kiho options, I'd pick a 'fist' kiho on day one. Sadly you lack Air Fist as a day 1 option - remember that a fighting monk doesn't get armour in their default gear, so won't have much resistance - so wants to avoid getting hit in the first place if possible. A decent Air ring gives you a '+TN to hit me' option. 

The other big edge of the Fortunist/Shinseist monks is that they're not associated with a specific clan. Obviously any school student could be from any clan with a sufficiently good narrative explanation but Togashi Monks are so iconic to the Dragon Clan that finding a non-Dragon born Tatooed monk would be really wierd and need a lot of explaining. Doubly so the Kaito Shrine Keepers who are a vassal family school at the start of the timeline. By comparison, if you want a Crab or Lion Shinseist monk....or even a totally-not-retired-pirate Mantis, go right ahead. 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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2 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

If you're going for a high Void ring, Shinseist is good; provided you can keep void points "in stock", it lets you approach any situation with a minium level of skill. Void 3 means starting with 2 void points in each session, which is good; they're one of the few schools where that's probably worth the comparative lack of advantage of the void ring on stuff like endurance/composure/focus/vigilance. Otherwise I'd agree with @Void Crane and leave your void ring wherever it lands from family, clan and school, and not take void as options.

If you plan on getting into a fight, Earth 3 is a good call for endurance and composure, but for a togashi I'd take either water or fire for a second '3' rank ring instead of Void. Given your starting Kiho options, I'd pick a 'fist' kiho on day one. Sadly you lack Air Fist as a day 1 option - remember that a fighting monk doesn't get armour in their default gear, so won't have much resistance - so wants to avoid getting hit in the first place if possible. A decent Air ring gives you a '+TN to hit me' option. 

The other big edge of the Fortunist/Shinseist monks is that they're not associated with a specific clan. Obviously any school student could be from any clan with a sufficiently good narrative explanation but Togashi Monks are so iconic to the Dragon Clan that finding a non-Dragon born Tatooed monk would be really wierd and need a lot of explaining. Doubly so the Kaito Shrine Keepers who are a vassal family school at the start of the timeline. By comparison, if you want a Crab or Lion Shinseist monk....or even a totally-not-retired-pirate Mantis, go right ahead. 

Just to point out, you dont really gain Void points each session as written in the book. You get them at the start of the game, and then manage them through various mechanics.

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15 minutes ago, Kaiju said:

Just to point out, you dont really gain Void points each session as written in the book. You get them at the start of the game, and then manage them through various mechanics.

You can - and should - be picking up Void points regularly if triggering disadvantages, etc. But even then, a Void Ring of 3 gives you the ability to 'bank' an extra point, so it's still worthwhile given the Shinseist's sieze-the-moment centric ability.

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This is a good question and one of my players was wondering the same thing when he created his character.  Each school gives some fighting ability so we discussed them in terms of "what other role(s) do I want to fill in the party?"  The Togashi monk can be the party healer if you take Medicine and Ki Protection, even more so if you tie Ki Protection to a mystical tattoo.  The Fortunist monk can be the diplomat or face of the party.  The Shinseist monk seems like more of a straight fighter.

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I always found the Shinseist ability a bit underwhelming... very dependent on how often you can trigger those disadvantages, and even at the best of times, you won't have many occasions to use it in a session. And to be fair, having a rank in a skill you did not have will only make a marginal - if non null - difference in the end, as your Ring score will still do the heavy lifting. It's actually better to use it on a skill you do have to get extra opps. Their saving grace really is the combo of Kiho + Kata, which is unique to them (so far) and can lead to very interesting things.

The Fortunist ability can range from anywhere between near useless to borderline broken. I get that it's meant as the mirror image of the Togashi ability but for Invocations instead of Kihos, but there is a big difference: all Kihos rely on bonus successes for burst effects, but Invocations sometimes do, and very often don't get anything out of bonus successes. So not only do you have to pick an invocation linked to your patron fortune, but you also need to consider whether bonus successes will do you any good. In some cases, it can lead to a "meh" moment of great magnitude. Now, if you pick Osano-Wo as your Fortune and survive until Rank 3, this can be absolutely devastating.

The Togashi are definitely great all-rounders, and some Kihos can actually be useful in non-punchy situations. The Great Silence can be a fantastic social defense technique; and Ki Protection makes you second only to Shugenja in terms of healing (maybe even better if you add Cleansing Spirit). Getting reliable burst effect on things like the Body is an Anvil or Breaking Blow is super cool, and their Mastery Ability blows pretty much anything out of the water, combining offense or defense (or doubling down on offense) as needed.

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Something to point out that is important is that Togashi Ise Zumi (Or Kaito) are technically samurai and part of a great clan, where the other two are technically peasants.  This can be a significantly different role-playing experience depending on the group.  In a setting where social status is everything, this can be a pretty big deal, and playing a Fortunist or Shinseist monk, you can end up feeling like a second class citizen in a group of Great Clan samurai.  So depending on the person, if you were to go up to some samurai as an unaligned monk with a problem, they can just ignore you, or even possibly attack you for bothering them (though that would be highly highly frowned upon, but in many situations, would be well within their rights), where as an Ise Zumi will get ignored for entirely different reasons ("Oh hey, its a crazy dragon guy.  Yes, you are very wise, have some tea, I will be right with you after I finish washing my hair").

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Are you going to leave out the two new monks?

Kuni Wardens and Mirumoto Taiost Blades.

Okay, the Mirumoto use one more sword than everyone else when doing their monking, but that's a Mirumoto tradition, and they're definitely a bushi - monk combo.

The Wardens are aimed at incapacitating someone, have Kiho, Rituals and Shuji as default but get special access to a surprising number of Kata.

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1 hour ago, Mirith said:

Something to point out that is important is that Togashi Ise Zumi (Or Kaito) are technically samurai and part of a great clan, where the other two are technically peasants.  This can be a significantly different role-playing experience depending on the group.  In a setting where social status is everything, this can be a pretty big deal, and playing a Fortunist or Shinseist monk, you can end up feeling like a second class citizen in a group of Great Clan samurai.  So depending on the person, if you were to go up to some samurai as an unaligned monk with a problem, they can just ignore you, or even possibly attack you for bothering them (though that would be highly highly frowned upon, but in many situations, would be well within their rights), where as an Ise Zumi will get ignored for entirely different reasons ("Oh hey, its a crazy dragon guy.  Yes, you are very wise, have some tea, I will be right with you after I finish washing my hair").

Technically monks aren't peasants. Monks don't really fit into the celestial order proper. Based on how most of the books seem to describe them I would say they fit into being above peasants but below samurai. This still means a samurai could technically punish them for rudeness but couldn't be outright hostile. I think abbots are even stated to be in the Status 30 range, putting them equal to the average great clan samurai. I guess that would probably put the average monk around minor clan samurai rank or just a smidge below perhaps.

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58 minutes ago, P'an Ku said:

Technically monks aren't peasants. Monks don't really fit into the celestial order proper. Based on how most of the books seem to describe them I would say they fit into being above peasants but below samurai. This still means a samurai could technically punish them for rudeness but couldn't be outright hostile. I think abbots are even stated to be in the Status 30 range, putting them equal to the average great clan samurai. I guess that would probably put the average monk around minor clan samurai rank or just a smidge below perhaps.

Well, the main point, and for now ignoring Great Clan monks, is that monks ARENT samurai though, and don't have the same sort of status or rights a samurai would.  At least from a very technical level.  They are supposed to (again on the technical level) show deference to samurai.  That being said, samurai are supposed to show deference to monks on a more traditional level (IE showing piety). 

Example:

Samurai and Monk are walking different directions on a road where only one person can walk, who is supposed to step off?

From a more legal standpoint, the monk should step off for the samurai, as he is lower rank, and if he didn't and was obstinate about it, the samurai would be justified in killing him.

From a more practical standpoint, depending on how religious the samurai was, it would be entirely reasonable and expected for the samurai to step off, and not lose face at all and quite admirable.  However, that would still be the samurai's choice, not the monk's.

This of course ignores the other practicalities that the retired daimyo of a monk might be according more respect/status than some random peasant monk, even if they are technically of the same rank.

But, from a roleplaying aspect, there are some significant differences in how you could be treated (Similar to playing a ronin).  If a group of samurai with an unaligned monk were to show up at court somewhere, I would describe it as a toss up whether or not the monk gets invited to dinner, without the intervention of other players (not that it would be at all difficult).   However, you are inherently socially unequal to those of the rest of the party, which can create some interesting dynamics, but those dynamics are there.  However, the Great Clan monks ARE samurai, and don't have that inherent restriction.  Not inviting one of those to dinner would be considered an insult.

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I agree strongly with Pan'Ku and Mirith that the Fortunist and Shinseist monks generally occupy a different place in a society than a samurai would. Generally lower and less venerated (though circumstances can vary). They occupy an interesting position that I'll call "accepted outsiders."

I would just note that while you don't get parades being of lower status is not always a disadvantage! For example, consider if your adventure leads you to look for clues (or an enemy) in a hemin village. A monk visiting a hemin village is not a common event. But the monk is probably welcomed more or less openly and warmly. A samurai in a hemin village is also not a common event. And his or her appearance provokes a far different response of panic and terror. Similarly in someone's court, a monk might have a much easier time mingling with servants than a samurai. And finding out what the servants know can be a valuable part of any investigation.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/10/2019 at 2:50 PM, Mirith said:

 

This of course ignores the other practicalities that the retired daimyo of a monk might be according more respect/status than some random peasant monk, even if they are technically of the same rank.

Actually that's one of the more practical reasons you don't mess with monks. Many Samurai monks still retain some ties to family, and discovering you've basically bullied a former Daimyo is grounds for that family to give you some very harsh issues at you picking on those that have retired from the Samurai life to a life of enlightenment and peace.

Edited by ZebioLizard2

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5 hours ago, ZebioLizard2 said:

Actually that's one of the more practical reasons you don't mess with monks. Many Samurai monks still retain some ties to family, and discovering you've basically bullied a former Daimyo is grounds for that family to give you some very harsh issues at you picking on those that have retired from the Samurai life to a life of enlightenment and peace.

Another point of practicality is that monks have more time and opportunity to learn martial arts than your average peasant and that you'll get mocked for attacking a monk, and especially for getting your *** whooped by a monk. And that monks actually have an institution behind them that would protect them, unlike peasants. So while yes, at the edge of legalism a monk is worth less than a samurai, a samurai who decides to pick a fight with a monk is looking for trouble.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/10/2019 at 3:52 PM, Franwax said:

I always found the Shinseist ability a bit underwhelming... very dependent on how often you can trigger those disadvantages, and even at the best of times, you won't have many occasions to use it in a session.

How easily disadvantages are triggered (or advantages turned) is really dependent on the GM and on how the (dis)advantages get interpreted. I can see this working out really well in some groups, particularly ones that don't have a broad mix of characters, but arguably the GM needs to enable it to an extent. Then again, enabling the players is most of what a GM is supposed to do anyway in my opinion.

Edited by nameless ronin

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9 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

How easily disadvantages are triggered (or advantages turned) is really dependent on the GM and on how the (dis)advantages get interpreted.

Agreed.

But then if one character is a shinseist, they're likely to be actively looking for opportunities to be 'hit' with their disadvantages.

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On 4/10/2019 at 10:55 AM, Magnus Grendel said:
  • Togashi Tatooed Monk
    • They're all about the Kihos - their school ability gives them bonus successes at one or more Kihos, meaning Burst Effects happen more reliably. Since most Kihos focus on punching people, that's pretty much what the Togashi school draws you to specialise in, with a good selection of fighting skills and Kiho available at early levels on the curriculum. The iconic kung-fu monk of the setting.
  •  Fortunist Monk
    • Doesn't get default Kiho access - open hand style as an automatic day 1 kata goes some way to counteracting this, but generally the least 'fighty' monk school. Gets a (limited) selection of invocations from appropriate groups associated with a specific Fortune (making them less flexible than a true shujenga with free access to any elemental invocation), but again gets extra bonus successes. Basically a monk/shujenga hybrid.
  • Shinseist monk
    • Not quite as kiho-focused as the Togashi, but does get access to Kihos. More flexible in a fight, because they get free access to both Kata and Kiho, but at a cost of access to shuji, which leaves them lagging behind the other two in intrigues. Extremely flexible if you are prepared to throw yourself into situations where you're not that competent - the school ability encourages you to use void points to engage in situations, by letting you use your school rank as a skill rank when spending a void point, meaning you can spontaneously pull rank 1 or 2 of an obscure skill out of your backside a few times a session, which can be very useful if a party is blindsided by a situation. Very good 'cryptic mentor' archetypes for this reason, as granddad whups some bandit general, commenting that "battlefield command is actually a lot more like playing Go against your uncle Koshiro-sama than I thought it would be....".
  • Kaito Shrine Keeper
    • Also technically monks!
    • No kiho access - getting limited preferential access to invocations, like the fortunist monk. My wife describes them as basically Sailor Mars....a classic 'shinto priest' look with a specialist focus on archery and (at least at lower levels) air elemental invocations (other elements are available but come at higher school levels). The ability to reduce the TN of an invocation is nice since reduced TN means you may get away with keeping less results, which helps avoid backlash. Plus, applying sacred to an arrow is valuable in and of itself since it makes your arrow armour-piercing against many nasty monsters, and the ability to 'lob' tempest of air arrows at targets a safe distance away rather than have the 'blast' centre on you is a great tactical trick. 

How does the Taoist Swordsman compare to them?

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15 hours ago, Longes said:

How does the Taoist Swordsman compare to them?

He's in a sourcebook I don't have yet. So I don't know. 

I'm guessing Kata and a school ability related to swords....so probably much closer in practice to a Bushi school, I assume.

 

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It's a bushi/monk school, and their thing is they wander around studying the blade, presumably while other people do other stuff. Based on like, reading the description once since that PDF isn't out. 

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5 hours ago, UnitOmega said:

It's a bushi/monk school, and their thing is they wander around studying the blade, presumably while other people do other stuff. Based on like, reading the description once since that PDF isn't out. 

They seek enlightenment via studying the sword.  

Excerpt from 4e Taoist Swordsman:

Quote

Although the Mirumoto family are best known for following the twin-sword fighting technique pioneered by their founder (and defined most clearly in his famous book Niten), not all members of the family embrace Mirumoto's fighting techniques. The Dragon Clan's long association with the quest for enlightenment, not to mention the existence of a special monastic order right within its own ranks (the Togashi tattooed men) has given rise to other warrior traditions. The most notable of these are the Taoist Swordsmen, ascetic warriors who maintain a small dojo deep within the most inaccessible mountains of the Dragon lands. There they pursue enlightenment and swordsmanship with equal dedication, often praying and training alongside small groups of Togashi monks. Taoist swordsmen are seldom seen outside their own lands, though on rare occasions they have been known to embrace the tradition of the "Worldly Monk" and travel the Empire in search of both enlightenment and experience with the sword.

 

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