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AndyDay303

Are words stronger?

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Hi,

In the Emerald Empire, ‘words are stronger than steel.’ What are some of the most potent intrigue encounters you’ve had?

 

in my games, we have plenty of plot twists and betrayals, but intrigue encounters account for very little. 

 

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4 hours ago, AndyDay303 said:

Hi,

In the Emerald Empire, ‘words are stronger than steel.’ What are some of the most potent intrigue encounters you’ve had?

 

in my games, we have plenty of plot twists and betrayals, but intrigue encounters account for very little. 

 

intrigues are a bit of an overbaked design. bloated and tedious.

the only thing you really need from the intrigue rule section are:
1- the persuade action with the TN modifier for the different skills vs status.
2- and that to persuade someone you need to get as many momentum points as their focus (by the same character, if two characters are both attempting to persuade the same character then they each have their own separate momentum track).

just with that, you have cool enough "social combats" rules that you can insert in skirmishes too if you wanted.
splitting intrigues scenes and skirmish scenes in two different things doesn't serve any purpose whatsoever and a lot of the intrigues "goals" and "initiative rules" are just awfully clunky. It actually is very cinematic when both intrigues and skirmishes play out in the same scene. it is OK to have two bushi fighting each other while courtiers are trying to convince them (rough example, but i'm sure you get the drift)


its like a simplified and practical version. from there you can elaborate and tweak on the fly. like maybe the possibility to have the momentum track be against vigilance instead of focus for a "softer", more rumor like, convincing. or maybe use sentiment instead of tactic for initiative when the scene starts more socially than martially (but no need to reroll initiative if eventually the scene switch to a more martial or social version).

also, make sure that your players can also be "convinced", if an NPC spends his turns convincing a player and finally beating their focus with their momentum points, your player should also be "convinced". though the way that they decide to be convinced is up to them, they still should change their roleplay to reflect the fact that they got convinced, at least partly.

Edited by Avatar111

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Im actually , eventually after playing the game some more, going to elaborate my houserules with a "how I play" section. I think me and my players are really getting the system down to a fun and functional state which I feel would clarify and streamline many of its rougher parts for other players. But there are a still a few kinks to test some more and I haven't yet touched mass battles.

The above mixing of intrigue and skirmish scene makes it that much easier to handle narratives and convincing in any situations. I personally don't see why in a skirmish you need to convince someone using a competitive check rather than using the persuade rule, for example.

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Like Avatar111 I also find the idea of formal skirmish scenes to be problematic. Generally our local GM has treated "a setting" as a scene for the purpose of persuading NPCs. For example when we hit an important village, then even if there are several "scenes" in the area, its treated as one scene for the purpose of persuasion. We might do lots of things to break the "Intrigue" up. Fight. Investigate. Hang out in a saki house...

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

But that said, I often find that its the unsaid things that cause you problems. So maybe the saying should be changed to: "In Rokugan its the omitted words that are sharper than knives..."

IME "Bob the Daimyo" almost never directly lies to you. But if he's doing his job he's also only telling you what he thinks you need to know to achieve the goals he wants. Which may or may not be what you want to know. Probably along the way you stumble through some of the potholes of your ignorance.

For example. Bob the Daimyo is under attack indirectly by a whispering campaign of gossip. His secret enemies can't go directly at him, but they go after his mistress claiming she is delving into Maho. This is a huge distraction and that smear may spread from her to him. While Bob finds out who is spreading these whispers, he needs to (a) do something to blunt the the accusations and (b) make sure some zealot doesn't whack her while everything gets sorted out. So some (hopefully) trustworthy PCs stumble into his provence looking for travel papers or mcguffins (or something...) and he happily decides uses them as armed escorts for Madame X to go on "pilgrimage" to Temple Z. Great! She's showing piety which blunts the accusations & the PCs aren't part of his court so they aren't aligned with the source of gossip. Once they pledge to guard her on the journey she's protected!

There are several adventure hooks the GM can bake in: Attack(s) on the road. Discovery of the rumors of dabbling of Maho. Maybe Madam X really doesn't want to go to Temple Z for her own reasons and is looking to ditch her escorts. Or there are Kuni in the area who don't know yet about the rumors but might find out. And who knows...maybe she has really dabbled in Maho. 

Regardless of what the Bob knows, or the GM decides to do plot wise, when the PCs are "hired" what Bob says is essentially, "Madame X, a woman of esteem, is going on pilgrimage to a Temple outside my province. It would be advantageous, for harmonious relations with my neighbor, if her armed escort did not consist of my personal samurai. Will you pledge to see her there safely for me? Yes? Great. Swift and safe journey. Next item of business!"

PCs ride off with a stranger and her retinue. The smarter ones know there are some missing puzzle pieces to what they are doing and start investigating as they ride. The less smart PCs get to be surprised...

Edited by Void Crane

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On 6/25/2019 at 9:42 PM, Avatar111 said:


also, make sure that your players can also be "convinced", if an NPC spends his turns convincing a player and finally beating their focus with their momentum points, your player should also be "convinced". though the way that they decide to be convinced is up to them, they still should change their roleplay to reflect the fact that they got convinced, at least partly.

This is really the crux of all social combat mechanics IMO. you can convince NPCs with rice but players don’t want their characters to be mind controlled. Thus, many such conflicts are PCs pounding on NPCs while NPCs say “leave me alone.” 

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16 minutes ago, AndyDay303 said:

This is really the crux of all social combat mechanics IMO. you can convince NPCs with rice but players don’t want their characters to be mind controlled. Thus, many such conflicts are PCs pounding on NPCs while NPCs say “leave me alone.” 

yes.
hence why you should from the get go say that in this game, "words cuts as much as steel", and as much as a player should accept wounds or death in combat, he should also allow his character to be convinced by social "combat".
obviously, as a GM, don't be a d**k about it and don't use this without making sure that what the player is convinced about can push the story forward. Also leave them leeways into how they will be persuaded, different personalities will react differently.
I'm sure as a GM you are not a d**k about smashing your players dead or crippled freely also. Same applies.

good luck :D 

Edited by Avatar111

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Very much so. People object to being 'mind controlled', but if a martial-focused character can affect your character in a skirmish scene, a social-focused character should be able to do so in an intrigue scene.

That's not "yes I agree completely master" but a Bernard Wooley/Humphrey Appleby-esque rant of "It's the beginning of the end! the thin end of the wedge! utterly unacceptable! but I can't actually seem to find any effective argument against it....."

I agree - as ever, let the player decide how they're convinced, but they have to be convinced somehow (even if it's to just wind their neck in and pretend to be convinced for appearance's sake...)

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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In my 4E game, a shopping list finding its way into the hands of a Tamori is why the Kasuga are now a family of the Phoenix...

Edited by sakieh

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I completely agree that if skirmishes can result in maiming dismemberment on either side, social conflict shouldn't be biased toward only convincing NPCs. The specter of public opinion should not be understated here, and maybe going along with what Magnus said, losing an intrigue should be put in the context of "you can't counter this argument and everyone else knows it (even if you the PC doesn't want to) at the risk of appearing indignant and losing meaningful social status" which should be defined upfront.

In principle, words actually stronger than steel only come into play when it's dramatically interesting, like an argument turning into a duel, or failure resulting in seppuku, retirement, or demotion.. I'm almost envisioning a social critical hit table here where deadliness is based on the winners social rank, net difference of momentum points at the conclusion, and resisting with a culture check.

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On 6/29/2019 at 9:08 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

That's not "yes I agree completely master" but a Bernard Wooley/Humphrey Appleby-esque rant of "It's the beginning of the end! the thin end of the wedge! utterly unacceptable! but I can't actually seem to find any effective argument against it....."

I very much enjoyed that quote. Made me want to subject my players to some "Yes, Daimyo" style bureaucrats and leave them trapped there until they appreciate why they should have spent more points on Government.

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8 hours ago, Evil Aardvark said:

I very much enjoyed that quote. Made me want to subject my players to some "Yes, Daimyo" style bureaucrats and leave them trapped there until they appreciate why they should have spent more points on Government.

Sir Humphrey Appleby was clearly a rank 6 Doji Bureaucrat:

"Post Facto (Mastery Ability): Once per game session as a Scheme and Support action, you may make a TN 3 Government (Earth) check. If you succeed, you reveal a huge legal loophole or arcane precedent that legally justifies the actions of you and your allies during the scene. Others can refuse to accept your logic, but must forfeit honor equal to your ranks in Government plus your bonus successes to do so."

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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10 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Sir Humphrey Appleby was clearly a rank 6 Doji Bureaucrat:

I'm not sure he'd appreciate you erasing his Oxford education to put him in some 'foreign' school, we all know how important Baillie is to him. I mean, I suppose you're not suggestig he went somewhere unsound like the LSE, but still...

What is Rokugan's equivalent of the Ministry of Administrative Affairs?

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