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Earth Stance too strong?

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Greetings!

I've been skimming through the core rolebook, and I had the sensation that the Earth stance is way too strong compared to the others. I also had the feeling that it can prolong innecesarily the fights, making them longer and tedious.

Do you have the same feeling? Have you thought of any way to patch it?

I was thinking changing the effect of the stance so that instead of saying "Others cannot spend  to inflict critical strikes or conditions on you" is say "Others must spend an extra  to inflict critical strikes or conditions on you." (or maybe two extra )

What do you think?

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There have been some discussions like this. I agree that Earth is too strong because it's used for both calculation of Stamina and Composure, but aside from that, well, if someone decides to turtle using Earth during a duel, they will be easy pick for Predict and OUT of the Earth Stance anyway, so, my advice would be don't worry. And also, remember that this only applies for techniques that cause critical strikes or give conditions with the spending of opportunities, other techniques give conditions or cause critical strike just by being successful on the roll.

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Counterpoint: it hasn't been an issue at all in my game yet and the two previous posters are well known for their largely negative views on the game. To the point where several others, including me, have muted them to lessen the effect of them clogging up every thread with their views.

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Posted (edited)

In my experience, Earth stance is not too powerful. The five stances must be seen in combination with the techniques. While Earth stance is very effective in early game, when foes usually only have Strike attacks, Earth offers less attractive katas and invocations at lower ranks than e.g. fire does.

The stances are asymmetric, but each has his strength. Earth is great to endure, but until Iron in the Mountains Style kata is available, it tends to deal not much damage, and foes tend to ignore you and hit your teammates. Same goes for Air stance, which especially in the beginning often makes your foes miss you, especially if paired with Guard and Crescent Moon Style kata (if you play as Emerald Magistrate or Yoriki title, that is available immediately). Water stance tends to make you take harder hits, but often allows to use the extra move to prevent foes from attacking you altogether. Fire stance tend to make you take damage, but dishes out a lot to keep the fight short, and the bonus successes from Strife mitigate critical hits somewhat. Only Void stance is less attractive in most fights and tends to take a fall-back-to role if your Strife gets too high.

But that is only my experience. The game offers a lot of tactical options, and a different playstyle often produces very different results.

Edited by Harzerkatze

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5 hours ago, Harzerkatze said:

The stances are asymmetric, but each has his strength. Earth is great to endure, but until Iron in the Mountains Style kata is available, it tends to deal not much damage, and foes tend to ignore you and hit your teammates.

Luckily, Stonewall Tactics is a Rank 1 Technique, so if you do turtle with Earth Stance then ain't nobody will hit anyone but you. 

Regarding Kata, Earth has access to all the Rank 2 Katas due to them not being tied to any Ring. So Coiling Serpent can totally go with Earth Stance, so can Spinning Blades or Pelting Hail. A character in Earth Stance can dish as much damage as anyone else. Except the Fire People, of course, because sticking to Earth Stance does rule out Heartpiercing Strike at the very least. At higher Rank you can combo together Iron in the Mountains Style and Rushing Avalanche for some pretty good damage output. 

Anyway, I don't have much problem with Earth Stance either. At lower ranks, getting those Opps for a crit or a condition is unironically difficult, so Earth Stance is highly situational. At higher ranks, resource denial is more important than result denial, so Air Stance is better for defense and you use Earth Stance for Earth Shuji shenanigans. 

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It is just boring. A pack of minions in earth stance is "boring". So are big enemies in earth stance. BORING.

Sure, maybe a player have the technique to debug earth stance. And that is all good.

But as a design ? something that binary ? I really think it is a mistake.

Again, not because of its power level (This game is out of whack anyway and it really doesn't matter), but because it is BORING.

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1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

It is just boring. A pack of minions in earth stance is "boring". So are big enemies in earth stance.

This is, I think, the big issue. I feel that increasing opportunity cost would be better than a flat prohibition: quite a few NPCs rely on "dirty tricks", and many PCs will have kata that rely on opportunities to pull of key combinations. Being resistant is one thing, but if on one side you have a Warlord of Jigoku, and on the other you have a Humble Peasant, the suggestion that the former cannot inflict a critical strike no matter what they roll feels ridiculous.

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I agree about being boring. I just say that it is strong in the sense that increasing your Earth, increases both stamina and composure. I understand the reasoning but I still find it too strong for a single Ring to be used in both

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On 4/24/2020 at 12:34 PM, Magnus Grendel said:

This is, I think, the big issue. I feel that increasing opportunity cost would be better than a flat prohibition: quite a few NPCs rely on "dirty tricks", and many PCs will have kata that rely on opportunities to pull of key combinations. Being resistant is one thing, but if on one side you have a Warlord of Jigoku, and on the other you have a Humble Peasant, the suggestion that the former cannot inflict a critical strike no matter what they roll feels ridiculous.

That warlord should have some nasty kata that can bypass Earth Stance, such as Heartpiercing Strike. Or he can just hit really hard, because a common peasant just dies if he gets hit for enough damage.  If it's a novice PC standing against the terrible foe, he should at least get that one round where he gets incapacitated, just to show what a great guy he was before he gets squished.

Also, there are still plenty of opportunity tricks one can pull on someone in Earth Stance.  It may not cause a condition or crit directly, but anything that forces them to make a resistance roll still works just fine.

As others have pointed out: the problem with Earth is that it leads to boring gameplay.  A lot of people want to tank, but it leads to really slow combat, because Air, Fire and Water are all better at dealing out damage or crits.

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Posted (edited)

I hadn't really considered it before, but in certain circles could there be social stigma against using earth approaches for skill tasks? For example, peers who prefer swift action might admonish samurai for being "too cautious" or "boring" (to quote a few people here). This wouldn't directly affect the skill roll in any way but might have social ramifications worth considering.

"Ha! They've barely sparred and the Akodo guard crouches low and keeps his guard up... He must consider Bayushi unknown a threat!" (Bayushi's reputation goes up a few points).

Or

"On second thought, I'd rather watch a different tournament, that Kakita duelist is known for putting the audience, judges, and his opponent to sleep".

Edited by T_Kageyasu

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1 hour ago, T_Kageyasu said:

I hadn't really considered it before, but in certain circles could there be social stigma against using earth approaches for skill tasks? For example, peers who prefer swift action might admonish samurai for being "too cautious" or "boring" (to quote a few people here). This wouldn't directly affect the skill roll in any way but might have social ramifications worth considering.

This could be true for any stance.

Fire: "All that Ikoma Tsanuri cares about it being flashy. It doesn't matter if she's effective, she just wants to be seen!"

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Just now, Hida Jitenno said:

This could be true for any stance.

Fire: "All that Ikoma Tsanuri cares about it being flashy. It doesn't matter if she's effective, she just wants to be seen!"

I absolutely agree, always depends on the crowd and who you might be interacting with and want to impress. It's a more dynamic way of thinking about roll checks and consequences.

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The starter Kit kinda does this for some of the challenges, as the judges state what they are looking for and it grants a small point bonus to the running tally.
like
"
"Remember," the judge says, “In sumai, as in life, a steady
, stance creates a solid foundation for success."
"
and
"
The judge nods. "The best way to overcome the obstacles
of your fate is by being flexible enough to adapt to them."
"


I suspect it mainly has to do with trying to teach people that some approaches are better suited for some situations but still, it sets a foundation that some people prefer some approaches and react positive to them. Even without it impacting the TNs

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8 hours ago, Chilitoke said:

The starter Kit kinda does this for some of the challenges, as the judges state what they are looking for and it grants a small point bonus to the running tally.
like
"
"Remember," the judge says, “In sumai, as in life, a steady
, stance creates a solid foundation for success."
"
and
"
The judge nods. "The best way to overcome the obstacles
of your fate is by being flexible enough to adapt to them."
"


I suspect it mainly has to do with trying to teach people that some approaches are better suited for some situations but still, it sets a foundation that some people prefer some approaches and react positive to them. Even without it impacting the TNs

I did something similar with the Topaz Championship. I gave the players time to RP with people who knew the judges and learn about their preferred approaches that way, in a couple days before the tournament started. Then they had the chance to share with each other IC in a big dinner the night before the tournament.

 

It was fairly well-received because it let them build up IC contacts and establish more grounds with each other than just being fellow competitors.

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You might consider looking at the NPCs' Demeanours.  I don't think anything as dramatic as changing the TN for the actions involved, but something social as suggested above.

For example, the Venerable Provincial Daimyo is Assertive.  This makes Earth social checks against them harder, and Air ones easier.  If, for example, said Daimyo is judging a duel, they might take 2 points off someone whose preferred approach was Earth and give 2 bonus points to someone whose preferred approach was Air, because that's the way they think things should be.

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8 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

For example, the Venerable Provincial Daimyo is Assertive.  This makes Earth social checks against them harder, and Air ones easier.  If, for example, said Daimyo is judging a duel, they might take 2 points off someone whose preferred approach was Earth and give 2 bonus points to someone whose preferred approach was Air, because that's the way they think things should be.

Definitely for social checks. Assertive characters are best dealt with by telling them what they want to hear or misrepresenting matters so they think that's what they're hearing (air), whilst they will just use force-of-personality and talk over anyone telling them something they don't want to hear, however logical the argument (earth).

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11 hours ago, Diogo Salazar said:

I understand the whole thing about player agency, but it would be nice if PCs also had demeanours.

I suppose you could pick a demeanour during 20 Questions when you're doing "15. How does your character react to stressful situations?"  I wouldn't be too worried about that affecting player agency, since the game has already given you tools for how to handle that in the unmasking and intrigue rules.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Diogo Salazar said:

I understand the whole thing about player agency, but it would be nice if PCs also had demeanours.

To a degree they do: mental and social type disadvantages can be exploited by adversary opponents, making a PC with one an easier target for persuade actions and similar effects with an appropriate ring.

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1 hour ago, Magnus Grendel said:

To a degree they do: mental and social type disadvantages can be exploited by adversary opponents, making a PC with one an easier target for persuade actions and similar effects with an appropriate ring.

...  yeah ... by adversaries ... not the other PCs, obviously ...

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Unless you put an NPC to exploit a disadvantage or advantage, the disadvantages always put a penalty on the roll made by the player, unless it is a contested roll, you don’t see something similar for demeanours happening with players.

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