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MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving

Handful of New Player Questions

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I'm brand new to the system, and I'm finding it a lot to wrap my head around. I can't quite picture how many of these mechanics would actually play out. I'm sure that's partially because there are rules I'm still missing.

1. If a player wants to play a high honor character but doesn't care about glory, can they choose to always unmask with an "Inappropriate Outburst," taking the glory loss but never losing honor, exposing an opening, or challenging someone? Strife seems to be a huge part of the system, and the compromised condition looks real bad, but from the surface, unmasking feels like it would mitigate most of the danger with relatively minimal consequences. 

2. The Mirumoto Two-Heavens Adept school gives a player a rank 3 technique (Dazzling Performance) to start the game. Is that right? It was the only instance of that I could find.

3. In the sidebar on page 137, I see that advantages and disadvantages can be played with "creative application" or "discrete application." The creative application allows for the reroll to apply to other skills. Would it also allow it to apply to other rings, or should I stick with the ring of the advantage/disadvantage, as in all examples?

4. According to the paragraph on Prerequisites on page 173, "Note that prerequisites are waived if a character is directly granted a technique during character creation (or at another time), or if the technique appears on a character’s curriculum by name or as part of a listed group (e.g. "Rank 1–3 Kata")." Does this mean, for instance, that a non-Crab bushi can take Lord Hida's Grip, as long as they have "Rank 1-2 Kata" in their curriculum? It seems strange to not have any secret kata.

5. Am I correctly understanding that Iaijutsu Cut: Crossing Blade can only inflict a critical strike if the target is already incapacitated? And Iaijutsu Cut: Rising Blade can only inflict a critical strike if the target is incapacitated or compromised? If it's a duel to the death or even first blood, might it be better to just use Water stance to draw and Strike, allowing for two opportunity to grant a critical strike?

6. Under the "Conflict and Martial Skill Examples of [opportunity]" on page 328 of the core rulebook, some of the examples seem to be the same opportunities granted by the "Striking as [Element]" series of kata. Am I misreading something or does this negate the need for those kata?

I know this is a lot of questions all at once. If you could even just answer one of them, I'd be really appreciative. I want to get some friends into the game, but I feel like I have to have a solid handle on it myself first.

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2 hours ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

I'm brand new to the system, and I'm finding it a lot to wrap my head around. I can't quite picture how many of these mechanics would actually play out. I'm sure that's partially because there are rules I'm still missing.

1. If a player wants to play a high honor character but doesn't care about glory, can they choose to always unmask with an "Inappropriate Outburst," taking the glory loss but never losing honor, exposing an opening, or challenging someone? Strife seems to be a huge part of the system, and the compromised condition looks real bad, but from the surface, unmasking feels like it would mitigate most of the danger with relatively minimal consequences. 

2. The Mirumoto Two-Heavens Adept school gives a player a rank 3 technique (Dazzling Performance) to start the game. Is that right? It was the only instance of that I could find.

3. In the sidebar on page 137, I see that advantages and disadvantages can be played with "creative application" or "discrete application." The creative application allows for the reroll to apply to other skills. Would it also allow it to apply to other rings, or should I stick with the ring of the advantage/disadvantage, as in all examples?

4. According to the paragraph on Prerequisites on page 173, "Note that prerequisites are waived if a character is directly granted a technique during character creation (or at another time), or if the technique appears on a character’s curriculum by name or as part of a listed group (e.g. "Rank 1–3 Kata")." Does this mean, for instance, that a non-Crab bushi can take Lord Hida's Grip, as long as they have "Rank 1-2 Kata" in their curriculum? It seems strange to not have any secret kata.

5. Am I correctly understanding that Iaijutsu Cut: Crossing Blade can only inflict a critical strike if the target is already incapacitated? And Iaijutsu Cut: Rising Blade can only inflict a critical strike if the target is incapacitated or compromised? If it's a duel to the death or even first blood, might it be better to just use Water stance to draw and Strike, allowing for two opportunity to grant a critical strike?

6. Under the "Conflict and Martial Skill Examples of [opportunity]" on page 328 of the core rulebook, some of the examples seem to be the same opportunities granted by the "Striking as [Element]" series of kata. Am I misreading something or does this negate the need for those kata?

I know this is a lot of questions all at once. If you could even just answer one of them, I'd be really appreciative. I want to get some friends into the game, but I feel like I have to have a solid handle on it myself first.

1. Yes, though see previous response from Alisair.

2. Yes, this is a proper example of what you're referring to in your fourth question.

3. Up to your group, though I'd personally say apply it wherever it makes narrative sense.  If you're playing a Blind character and try to provoke someone using Fire by insulting their fashion sense, I'd expect the penalty to apply.

4. See Alistair's response (and mine to question 2).  The book is referring to certain curricula granting early access to some techniques or access to specific techniques that your school normally doesn't have access to (e.g., Togashi monk gets access to Open-Hand Style in rank 2 though monks don't normally get access to kata).

5. I think you basically understand things correctly, though note that in a duel, the first time you become Compromised or Unmask, you are subject to a Finishing Blow that crits, which also applies to Crossing Blade.  Others have composed lengthy diatribes about issues with duels to first blood/strike.  TLDR version is that under rules as written, you're usually best off sitting in Earth stance to avoid being critted and waling on your opponent, which doesn't feel very thematic.

6. The closest match I could find was Water's reduction of physical resistance.  Note that Striking as Water applies until the end of your next turn (so your allies can benefit from it), while a basic Water opportunity only applies to the strike it's associated with.  Striking as Fire/Earth have a similar-sounding opportunities as those from the basic list, but they're different enough that I imagine the distinction should be clear if you read them side by side.  Striking as Void and Air's opportunities look pretty unique.

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Thanks for the responses! This clears up a lot, and I really appreciate you taking the time to explain things to a new player.

1. I think this might just be something that plays out differently in an actual game than how I'm imagining it from reading the book. Since the amount of glory points you lose diminishes as your rank gets lower, if you start with 40 glory, by my calculations it would be unmasking 8 times before you actually suffered a disadvantage. Assuming you're gaining some glory along the way, it just feels like it would take a long time to suffer the consequences of unmasking (unless characters get compromised more often than I'm realizing).

2. Cool, cool. Thank you.

3. Okay, cool. Yeah, this makes sense. I think I'd play it works on any ring in most circumstances.

4. This is one I'm still sort of stuck on. The way you two interpret it makes total sense to me (and is probably how I'd play it), but I haven't found it yet in the RAW. The section on Prerequisites on page 173 really reads like clan affiliation is a prerequisite just like rank and is circumvented by curriculum in the exact same way. Is limiting clan-specific techniques to the clan just common sense consensus or is it actually spelled out in the book somewhere?

5. That's kind of a bummer. I'll have to read up on what homebrew rules others are using.

6. Thanks again! Air and Void were clear, but I took your advice and placed the ones for Water, Earth, and Fire side-by-side. I might still have not appreciated the difference with Water without your explanation.

Seriously though, I really appreciate you both taking the time to help me wrap my head around the rules. It's just so different from what the games I'm used to.
 

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"Such techniques and groups are marked with = to denote their special status."

So even if it's a general group, if it doesn't have the special diamond, you can't bypass the requirements listed to the right of the name. An example of this is in the Yasuki School - being formerly Crane, at Rank 5 they have special access to Lady Doji's Decree, but ALSO have access to rank 1-5 Void Shuji. If they could take Lady Doji's Decree normally, it would not need to be given a special diamond or noted in this rank of the school, you could just pick it up in the group technique selection. 

(Note, if you're using a physical book and you see an instance of a redundant rank, i/e somebody gets Striking as Water and also Rank 1 Kata, this is a table error and double-check the eratta for corrected versions of the curriculum. The PDF and subsequent printings should fix this already.)

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Yeah, if there is no special indicator (diamond) next to an item in a curriculum, it's something that the character could have taken regardless, but if it weren't on the curriculum list, it would have only counted half the XP towards advancement.  E.g., the Hiruma Scout Rank 3 curriculum includes Rank 1-3 Kata.  Since it has no diamond, this isn't granting any sort of special access (Hiruma Scouts can always purchase Kata of their rank or lower), but it means they get full XP credit towards school advancement when they purchase a kata while in Rank 3.  In Rank 2, they don't have "Rank 1-2 Kata" listed, so if they purchase a kata during Rank 2, they'd only get half credit towards advancement.  But their curriculum also includes various Ninjutsu techniques marked with a diamond, which means you can purchase those at the indicated ranks even though you don't normally have access to them.  If "Rank 1-3 Kata" were a special exception (i.e., indicated by a diamond), it would only mean that a character gets early access to advanced kata (e.g., at Rank 2).  The Emerald Magistrate title is an example of this, as it grants you access to Rank 1-2 Kata even if you're a Rank 1 character.

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32 minutes ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

Huh. Okay, I guess I follow. It seems like an odd way to do it. If future supplements release clan spells, it might be hard to avoid giving access to the Kaito Shrine Keeper, for instance. But thanks for clearing this up!

There's actually special clan scrolls in Shadowlands.  They're called Signature Scrolls and are a thing that you can buy with XP that don't appear to be techniques.  The three in Shadowlands have prerequisites of "Witch hunter, Crab Clan", "Crab Clan Shugenja, Rank 3" and "Shugenja".

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Regarding the Iaijutsu kata, I personally really dont think you unbalance anything by allowing these techniques to have a "2 opp to inflict a critical strike"... so, you could just homebrew it as such.

Regarding the opportunity spending versus the striking as, they are different enough. But the wording could be more streamlined a bit.

Water; the technique allows you to reduce the phys res against more than only one attack. This is one of the better worded one. The technique is a clear upgrade.

Earth; the technique allows you to increase your phys res while the opportunity allows you to get better critical strike resistance (which is arguably useless in most cases, but that is a different subject).

Air; the striking as air technique is just trash.

Fire; the technique allows you to increase your own critical strike severity on your next turn while the opportunity spending only works for the same turn (basically a better razor-edge quality). The technique is only marginally better than the opp spending. They do stack though so with a big party you can do some gimmicks, but they are just that, gimmicks.

 

Edited by Avatar111

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Yeah, striking as fire is different since it works on your own crit next turn.. but really, you won't find much use for it. And it is still a gamble since you need to crit next turn. My houserule reduce the potency of the opportunity spending while slightly increasing the potency of the technique. But playing it as raw is "ok", I guess, just not really good.

Striking as air is just garbage. My houserule helps for that. If you want to slightly buff it.

Striking as water and earth are good as is.

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8 minutes ago, tamdrik said:

Agree that Striking as Fire is barely an upgrade from the basic Fire opp spend

It's a completely different opp spend, though? Striking makes them take a worse critical from the hits, where as the regular spend makes it harder to resist criticals. They're complementary, not one or the other.

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2 minutes ago, Hida Jitenno said:

It's a completely different opp spend, though? Striking makes them take a worse critical from the hits, where as the regular spend makes it harder to resist criticals. They're complementary, not one or the other.

Except that the resist roll reduces the crit severity by 1 per bonus success, so increasing the difficulty is effectively similar to increasing the severity.  The advantage of increasing the severity is that it still applies even if the opponent blows the resist roll.

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Earth is the only one that has a big effect in most cases, but even it isn't too impressive- Earth has the worst in-combat op spends, and Striking as Earth gives it one solid pick instead of none. Other elements have very good op dumps, and their 'Striking' techniques just give another decent-but-not-great option. If you want to make Striking as Air better, just make it (Op)+ (Op) rather than (Op)+ (Op)(Op). Still not fantastic, but none of the Striking techs need to be. They just need to compete with Water's default op spends, which everything except Striking as Air does.

If you're worried about starting Techniques being a little out-of-whack, GM81-PD's house rules have some great starting adjustments (although they don't extend to Emerald Empire and Shadowlands). I haven't used his new Kata or duel changes, so ymmv on that. 

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2 minutes ago, Orolando said:

Earth is the only one that has a big effect in most cases, but even it isn't too impressive- Earth has the worst in-combat op spends, and Striking as Earth gives it one solid pick instead of none. Other elements have very good op dumps, and their 'Striking' techniques just give another decent-but-not-great option. If you want to make Striking as Air better, just make it (Op)+ (Op) rather than (Op)+ (Op)(Op). Still not fantastic, but none of the Striking techs need to be. They just need to compete with Water's default op spends, which everything except Striking as Air does.

If you're worried about starting Techniques being a little out-of-whack, GM81-PD's house rules have some great starting adjustments (although they don't extend to Emerald Empire and Shadowlands). I haven't used his new Kata or duel changes, so ymmv on that. 

I tweaked Striking as Air by allowing to replace a rolled dice by a reserved dice (instead of rolling less dice and adding your reserve dice).

Still kind of bad, but, better. As you can replace your bad dice roll by your previously kept dice.

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2 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

I tweaked Striking as Air by allowing to replace a rolled dice by a reserved dice (instead of rolling less dice and adding your reserve dice).

Still kind of bad, but, better. As you can replace your bad dice roll by your previously kept dice.

Honestly, it would probably be fine if you simply added the reserved dice to your pool without replacing anything.

Edit: Actually, it might even be fine if you added it as an extra kept die, since you have to take it from another roll that presumably could have used it.

Edited by tamdrik

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13 minutes ago, tamdrik said:

Honestly, it would probably be fine if you simply added the reserved dice to your pool without replacing anything.

Edit: it would probably be fine since you can't keep "more" dice than your ring anyway. In the end, removing your bad rolls basically end up being the same since you can't keep everything anyway.

Both "fixes" are good enough and make striking as air worth a purchase.

I like your version better though as it makes the wording more streamlined. Sold.

Edit2: Adding it as kept dice is a bit too overpowered imo. But case could definitely be made for it...

Edited by Avatar111

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26 minutes ago, Orolando said:

Earth is the only one that has a big effect in most cases, but even it isn't too impressive- Earth has the worst in-combat op spends, and Striking as Earth gives it one solid pick instead of none.

Definitely, earth opp spending could be +1 phys res per opp spent on the NEXT attack.

Making it a weaker version of the technique but still... Usable.

Basically more similar to how the water opp versus water tech works.

Edit: and I really don't think striking as fire is worth a purchase. It is marginally better than the fire opp spend and a gamble on top of it (easily counterable).

Edited by Avatar111

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13 hours ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

1. If a player wants to play a high honor character but doesn't care about glory, can they choose to always unmask with an "Inappropriate Outburst," taking the glory loss but never losing honor, exposing an opening, or challenging someone? Strife seems to be a huge part of the system, and the compromised condition looks real bad, but from the surface, unmasking feels like it would mitigate most of the danger with relatively minimal consequences. 

Yes and no.

"Then, the player roleplays the way in which their character lets their façade fall, and the GM determines any narrative and mechanical consequences this has. "

"The GM should inform the player of any honor, glory, or status their character might have to forfeit or stake before the player commits to the course of action"

To translate; a PC can never be forced to unmask at all or in any specific way, choosing to remain compromised, but they cannot insist on being offered a specific mechanical version of an unmasking.

7 hours ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

If future supplements release clan spells, it might be hard to avoid giving access to the Kaito Shrine Keeper, for instance.

Air and Fire ones, anyway.

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22 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Air and Fire ones, anyway.

Rank 1 Air, Rank 1-3 Water and Rank 1-5 fire, specifically. They also only ever get those three invocation slots, their starting Tempest of Air and like four more specific Invocations in curriculum so I don't think them being able to sneak in a Phoenix specific invocation is a big deal - they can actually take Lord Shiba's Valor already even though their school doesn't really have any connection to Shiba. It's cool if you need to make a bunch of ghosts and ghoulies focus on you though.

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2 hours ago, UnitOmega said:

I don't think them being able to sneak in a Phoenix specific invocation is a big deal

It would be more a concern for them accessing another clan's specific invocation. Since they don't get any invocation technique access by default, all their invocations come with an 'ignore prerequisites' tag, meaning (like the Yasuki getting Lady Doji's decree) they can bypass 'clan only' restrictions if, say, a normally scorpion-specific invocation falls within those brackets.

Which is not necessarily a problem, but something writers of future sourcebooks need to keep in mind - firstly to be careful about them getting any clan-specific invocations they shouldn't have, and also to limit their access to invocations which will interact weirdly with Sacred Arrows.

It's less of an issue for the Fortunist Monk, since their invocation access is predefined and not going to change with a future sourcebook - a new fortune could be introduced, but again that list is defined at the time of writing and doesn't specifically need 'future-proofing' the way open-ended access might.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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10 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

It's a completely different opp spend, though? Striking makes them take a worse critical from the hits, where as the regular spend makes it harder to resist criticals. They're complementary, not one or the other.

They are complimentary in one specific case: You need to use striking as fire on your first turn, then on your second turn you need to crit the same target you used strike as fire on last turn (hoping nobody else crit them first, and hoping they are not in earth stance, or any other reason) and use the opp spending.

Overly complicated and bad design it is. Plus, not really good anyway. Striking as Fire is a contender for the worst kata in the game with Striking as Air and Battle in the Mind.

Edited by Avatar111

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38 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

They are complimentary in one specific case: You need to use striking as fire on your first turn, then on your second turn you need to crit the same target you used strike as fire on last turn (hoping nobody else crit them first, and hoping they are not in earth stance, or any other reason) and use the opp spending.

Overly complicated and bad design it is. Plus, not really good anyway. Striking as Fire is a contender for the worst kata in the game with Striking as Air and Battle in the Mind.

I'm not sure what you mean-- the basic Fire opp and Striking as Fire are both worded as the opponent's "next" resist check/critical strike, so I don't see why they couldn't theoretically both be applied at the same time to the same crit, which could be the one that happens as a result of the current strike (assuming it crits).  Just because it persists until the end of your next turn doesn't mean it can't apply later in your current turn-- it just gives you a second chance if you didn't crit with this attack.

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1 hour ago, tamdrik said:

I'm not sure what you mean-- the basic Fire opp and Striking as Fire are both worded as the opponent's "next" resist check/critical strike, so I don't see why they couldn't theoretically both be applied at the same time to the same crit, which could be the one that happens as a result of the current strike (assuming it crits).  Just because it persists until the end of your next turn doesn't mean it can't apply later in your current turn-- it just gives you a second chance if you didn't crit with this attack.

if used in the same turn, there is absolutely no point in the technique Striking as Fire because the increase TN from the opp spending is strictly better and you should put all your opportunities there.

the one and ONLY purpose of striking as fire is that it last until the end of your next turn. Which mean you can capitalise on it yourself. But that is a very niche use... Most of the time you will have better use of fire opportunities than that and even if you end up using it, it is easy to counter by the opponent on his next turn. Making Striking as Fire; a garbage technique. Way too situational, counterable, with an effect that is actually weaker than the fire opp spending.

Edited by Avatar111

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I had three more minor rules questions come up.

1. Is the price or rarity of the specialized arrows listed anywhere? I'm missing it somehow.

2. Flowing Water Strike lets you spend an opportunity to remove the Immobilized condition (or one of a few other conditions) from yourself, but it's an Attack and Movement action, and you can't take Movement actions if you're Immobilized. Am I missing a way you could use this technique to remove Immobilized from yourself?

3. If you're Bleeding, then whenever you keep a die with strife, you also suffer fatigue. The text says if this causes you to suffer a critical strike, it has severity equal to your fatigue. This leads to two questions.
     3a. How would this lead to a critical strike? You can defend against it until it causes your fatigue to exceed your Endurance, at which point you're Incapacitated and can't take actions that requiring rolling dice (giving you more fatigue/strife, which would lead to the critical strike).
     3b. Assuming that I'm just missing how you get the critical strike, am I understanding this next part correctly?: You could theoretically have only 4 Endurance and be bleeding and be relatively fine until you hit 5 fatigue, at which point you suffer a Debilitating Gash, giving you the Severely Wounded condition and making you Incapacitated. Someone else could have 16 Endurance and be bleeding and be relatively fine until they hit 17 fatigue, at which point they die immediately.

I'm sure there are good answers (or if there aren't, there are easy fixes); I'm just new to this kind of gameplay.

Edited by MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving

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