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Longes

Invocations and Stolen Knowledge

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Something I've just noticed is that Stolen Knowledge (Invocations) is disproportionately more powerful than any other ability. And the reason for that is importuning. To importune an invocation you have to know an invocation. And thanks to Stolen Knowledge - you can. You get to know all invocations ever. This really seems like an unintended hole to me that should be patched in the errata.

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49 minutes ago, Longes said:

Something I've just noticed is that Stolen Knowledge (Invocations) is disproportionately more powerful than any other ability. And the reason for that is importuning. To importune an invocation you have to know an invocation. And thanks to Stolen Knowledge - you can. You get to know all invocations ever. This really seems like an unintended hole to me that should be patched in the errata.

Yes and no. I agree it is a hole, but if you're only getting a single 'known' invocation via a heritage result, then you're presumably not going to have created a character with an especially high theology skill and without any school ability to help either invoke the thing or mitigate spiritual backlash.

Importune invocations require a minimum TN+1 over the 'book' value and 'eats' a valuable item of some kind just to make the attempt, without giving you the normal benefit of an offering, so your odds of succeeding with anything other than the one you know is very low, and you're strictly limited in your opportunities to even try.

So....broadly, yes. Knowing an invocation is better than knowing most other technique types (although Maho or Ninjutsu can be nice to haves, if ones you need to be very careful about letting people know you know them!), but the difference between the various other effects of Stolen Knowledge isn't impossibly huge, especially compared to the difference between some different result groups.

 

Off the top of my head, a Seppun PC with the Imperial Heritage result can start a 'new samurai' character on day 1 with Status 50 - enough to walk into an intrigue and tell an Emerald Magistrate "Shut up, I'm talking."

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Ninjutsu seems like the absolute worst since it basically just means you have Skulk (the only rank 1 ninjutsu), which is useless unless you have gargantuan Skullduggery score. Meanwhile, Theology is a socially acceptable skill a lot of bushi can find good use for.

Quote

Off the top of my head, a Seppun PC with the Imperial Heritage result can start a 'new samurai' character on day 1 with Status 50 - enough to walk into an intrigue and tell an Emerald Magistrate "Shut up, I'm talking."

Just because you have higher Status doesn't mean anyone listens to you. It's a bonus to your social checks at best.

Edited by Longes

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I don't think we can think of this game as something "balanced".
You can absolutely make an insanely broken character.

But unless the rule is really obviously abusable without any control on the GM's part (no ressource spending or otherwise), I would not houserule it.

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A higher status allows you to interrupt people during an intrigue, whilst they bleed honour and glory every time they want to do so to you. And yes, it is also a bonus to social checks in a formal setting because it also comes with the Blessed Lineage advantage, which can be leveraged in "don't you know who I am?" moments.

Skulk isn't amazing - as noted - due to the need to have skulduggery 2 to really get much mileage out of it. That's not impossible in samurai with less-than-noble backgrounds who wouldn't normally get access to ninjitsu, though (like the Kitsuki)

And yes, there are plenty of schools with Theology who don't get invocations normally, too. Rather appropriately, the Asako are one of the best (those libraries have to be good for something!) because Wisdom of the Ages applies to Theology (it's a scholar skill), but it's not like a phoenix character was exactly bereft of options to play someone with access to invocations. 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Having invocations doesn't make one a shugenja. Being a shugenja assures one can learn invocations.

A allowing B isn't the same as B allowing A.

Also, anyone can attempt to Importune. Only shugenja are likely to be allowed to make the roll to succeed.

And, IMO, to be a shugenja, your school needs the tag.

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2 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

And, IMO, to be a shugenja, your school needs the tag.

Agreed, with a however; there are schools which give in-school-curriculm access to multiple invocations (Kaito Shrine Keeper and Fortunist Monk off the top of my head) without having that tag. 

Whilst the rules for importune invocations say "the shujenga", and hence you could argue without the tag you're not one and can't, so do the rules for spiritual backlash, and I'm sure the intent is not to make those two schools feedback-proof....

I still don't think allowing access to importune invocations is that big a deal because, as noted by @AK_Aramis, being able to try =/= being able to realistically succeed, and if you're prepared to throw enough void points, advantages, offerings and general self-sacrifice for a narratively vital effect (as in "this tips the balance of the campaign" not "please eliminate this annoying minion"...) then frankly I'd rather that option be there for the players.

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I'm with @Magnus Grendel on this.

The "shugenja" tag in my game simply means a "clearer communication" with the Kami.

I feel I have a harder time making some of the weaker courtier and bushi schools on par with the others early on than anything else.

Sure "they are good in social encounters" but really, anybody with a decent social skill check is, and social is a lot about RP.

Hence why I am not crazy about how a lot of Shuji are designed. If they wanted "social technique" they should be worth their salt, and in a lot of the cases they are not unless the GM gives "bonuses" for using them.

 

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