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ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




What do you mean by 'infinite city'?

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





ZeroCount posted:

What do you mean by 'infinite city'?
I'm guessing either some kind of organic-limitless situation where it's like a living City entity that is just City forever as a macro-concept, or else a Trantor-style planetary ecumenopolis. I think the latter could be cool but you'd have to figure out what you're doing.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Starfinger Core Rules Part #11: "But from day 1, one of our important goals were, if you are a power armor-wearing knight of Iomedae and you got a plasma cannon, it is important to us that you can have a holy plasma cannon, because when you're facing space imps you want the holy plasma cannon."
(Credit: Owen K.C. Stephens, Starfinger Design Lead, GenCon Q&A Transcript)[/i]



Armor

Armor is now just in two types: light and heavy. Medium has been excised. Armor works more or less like it does in most d20 games, save for a few additions. First, armor has levels just like weapons, and ramps from the "Estex Suit I" (EAC +0, KAC +1, 410 cr) to the "Vesk Monolith III" (EAC +26, KAC +27, 827,250cr). Secondly, as previously noted, armor now has Energy AC and Kinetic AC - though given they're almost never more than 1 rank apart, I'm not sure what the big deal is in dividing the two. Lastly, they have upgrade slots, which you can use to add various functions to your armor. As you can tell from those numbers, armor is the primary way Armor Class is significantly increased - even class benefits like the Solarian solar armor only provide a modest benefit, and level does not increase AC like it might in some other d20 games.

All armor comes with protection from hostile atmospheres and vacuum, an oxygen supply, a bonus against radiation (making those radiation powers seem less impressive now), and protection from modest temperature extremes. You have to turn on the environmental protection manually, though, so if you're unconscious you'll just suffocate unless a friendly person has enough Computer skill to hack your suit to turn it on. You'd think space societies could build a sensor that could sense dangerous gases or vacuum on its own, but apparently not!

Armor types include:
  • Carbon Skin: A bodysuit made of *carbon fibers*, which is pretty much magic material!... even in a setting with magic, I guess.
  • D-Suit: Your generic Han Starlord casual kind of spacefaring outfit with forcefield helm.
  • Estex Suit: Flight suits! Maybe? It doesn't really say how this looks. Hm.
  • Freebooter Armor: Metal plates and a button-down shirt make me think this got rejected from a Pathfinder book. Not sure how a button-down shirt seals you off from the vacuum of space. Maybe they're really good buttons.
  • Golemforged Plating: A "close-fitting" heavy suit of armor. Nothing to do with golems, though. Probably not even forged.
  • Kasatha Microcord: A speed-suit with glowing trim, so your enemies can spot you in the dark. But you look cool while you're shot at?
  • Lashunta Ringwear: Banded chain armor with crystals... that will protect you from space. That must be some tight chain armor.
  • Vesk Overplate: It's a blunt suit of armor "coated with thermoplastic resin". Science words!
We also have Powered Armor, which requires a full-round action to exit or enter, and requires a special proficiency. It always strikes me that power armor is always way harder to use in RPGs than it generally is in fiction. Other than the general effects of armor, it replaces your Strength score, has its own speed, and may alter your size while in use. They also have a major energy cost, and most will run out a battery in only 20 minutes (only one 5th level suit lasts 20 hours, so it's quickly outpaced by the needs of leveling). They also have the issue that they don't really level all the way so they eventually become obsolete around 17-18th level, should you ever get that far. They're kind of neat but not really practical for any sort of extended mission - you can get in one for a fight but you can't just stomp around in one, which is a real issue for the Soldier builds that are designed around them. That full-round action needed to suit up seems like a really crippling flaw to work around, even presuming you have your armor on hand at all times.



Armor also has armor upgrades, and each armor has 0 to 7 upgrade slots (and is more likely to have more of them at higher levels). And yes, armor upgrades are leveled, too! Thankfully, you can swap them between armors, and it seems like you can add upgrades to an armor above its level, as long as your level is high enough to buy them. Some upgrades can only be installed in certain types of armor (light, heavy, or powered). So let's...

:sigh:

... let's look at them.
  • Backup Generator: Lets you build up 1 power charge for every 10 minutes of movement, which means Technomancers with Energize Spell are good with this and a lil' jazzercise or taibo or whatever space exercise is trendy in the fantasy future to get a bonus spell slot.
  • Deflective Reinforcement: Gives DR 5/-, which seems really good for 7th level when damage values start to kick up, though it doesn't scale at all with the damage increases over time.
  • Exit Pod: Lets you exit armor as a move action. Those slavering to use this with powered armor should note that entering the armor is still a full action.
  • Force Field: Conveniently colored from brown (for poo poo, I presume, 3rd level) to prismatic (20th level). Which means if your enemy looks like a rainbow, you might want to run. Force fields give bonus HP, which means like all such things, they won't keep you from losing SP... mostly. They also have Fast Healing, which means those bonus HP recover after being damaged. High-level ones give a flat % to ignore crits unless they're out of HP. However, they require a standard action to activate, so if a fight breaks out, you have to spend a turn basically just punching a button to activate it. (Having a powered armor with one of these basically means you spend two turns just setting up...)
  • Haste Circuit: However, activating haste is just a swift action, thankfully.
  • Phase Shield: A move action gives you +1 EAC and costs you a hand (for usage, you can still hold stuff in it). Worth the sacrifice? Probably not.



Augmentations

Yes, now you can cyber with the best of the punks. (Or bio with the best of the freaks.) There doesn't seem to be any drawback other than the fact that you can't double up on a particular location, which serves as Starfinger's equivalent of most magic item slots; magic items are restricted differently now. They're not affected by most things that affect machines unless they're specifically called out. Oh, and yes. They are level-dependent, like everything else. Some examples:
  • Cybernetic Arm: Not what you'd think - these are extra arms, up to two at very high levels. Doesn't give more benefit than readying more equipment, though.
  • Datajack: Hands-free computing. At mid to high levels you get a nickel or dime bonus on Computing rolls, but really all it does is let you complete a hack while shooting at bads or steering a hovercycle.
  • Dermal Plating: DR, stacks with armor, but don't forget to get your skin upgraded every three levels! Seriously.
  • Retinal Reflectors: You've got Riddick eyes. Why didn't you just buy nightvision goggles? Because the far future doesn't have those. Well, maybe in a supplement someday.
  • Vocal Modulator: I got my entire throat replaced and enhanced and all I got was this lousy Disguise dime bonus.
  • Adaptive Biochains: Lets you get a cybernetic implant as a biological implant instead? What's the advantage of that? Very little. There's like... uh... I can't find any spells that target cybernetics? Theoretically there are some?
  • Dragon Gland: Get a breath weapon just like your favorite dragon!... the age category depending on your level, so you need to upgrade twice for the full effect. The damage values are listed, at least. (There are no rules for dragons in this book, either...)
  • Venom Spur: Really deadly for level 2... and then just diminishes to useless after that.
  • Wildwise: A throat fungus that lets me talk with animals! Man, glad I didn't get stuck with just a +2 to Disguise checks.
  • Personal Upgrades: Permanent ability boosters including magic "ability crystals" that download the ability of cooler heroes into you, technological "synaptic accelerators" that enhance your nervous system (and so can make you... stronger, healthier, or more likeable...?), and hybrid magic/tech "synergizing symbiotes". Unlike other upgrades, you can pay the difference between the old and new - it's presumed every character will take these like the old ability-enhancing magic books of D&D and Pathfinder. Only... it never tells you that. Probably should note that in there. And underline it with highlighter... or, nah, let's just rely on players' system mastery.


Next: "This is the impossible level, boys. Impossible doesn't mean very difficult, very difficult is winning the Nobel Prize, impossible is eating the sun."

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 12:31 on Oct 7, 2017

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



So the Fighter has to trail a power cable behind him like an EVA unit?

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Nah, recharging costs 1/2 the price of the battery.

Can you get multiple deflective reinforcements? As at a glance that could stack pretty hilariously.

Cassa fucked around with this message at 11:56 on Oct 7, 2017

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Dragon Gland: Get a breath weapon just like your favorite dragon!... the age category depending on your level, so you need to upgrade twice for the full effect. (There are no rules for dragons in this book, either...)

But they still have the damage values and types in the power description here, right? Or do they seriously refer you to an entire other game line for those?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Cassa posted:

Can you get multiple deflective reinforcements? As at a glance that could stack pretty hilariously.

Nah. Though it technically doesn't say you can't buy an upgrade multiple times, it can be inferred that's not intended - and DR doesn't stack, anyway.

That Old Tree posted:

But they still have the damage values and types in the power description here, right? Or do they seriously refer you to an entire other game line for those?

Yeah, the damage values are in there, clarified that. Presumably dragon stats will be in Alien Archive.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Obviously Paizo built their brand on a deep sense of conservativism, but Starfinger has just enough tweaks and new ideas that it really highlights how utterly afraid it is of doing anything remotely adventurous with its design.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


This would have been a nice opportunity to make one of the Soldier's THINGS 'I get to ignore all the bullshit restrictions on rad power armor because I'm so well trained with it'.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Nessus posted:

I'm guessing either some kind of organic-limitless situation where it's like a living City entity that is just City forever as a macro-concept, or else a Trantor-style planetary ecumenopolis. I think the latter could be cool but you'd have to figure out what you're doing.

Pretty much this; it seems to be a natural place to go with an urban setting (more setting = more stories, right?) and it does get at a sense of immensity, but it rarely works out that well.
Trantor is an example of it done decently, in my opinion, because the limitations and costs of that megatropolis are considered. And even there they never cover how you would have completely different languages in different regions, entirely different cultures of architecture and governance even under an overarching system - it's simply too large, and no longer plays by the rules a city does in real life.
And that rarely comes up.

Also whenever I go back and look at the Aeternum spoilers I just find it lackluster, not least because it seems to be underpinned with an overly Victorian morality play combined with amoral cosmic horror, when Bloodborne is actually an 18th century early-history-of-science story of discovery and hubris set in pseudo-Prague. That's my being extremely picky, though.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Night10194 posted:

This would have been a nice opportunity to make one of the Soldier's THINGS 'I get to ignore all the bullshit restrictions on rad power armor because I'm so well trained with it'.

Yeah, the fact that most power armor needs to switch out batteries every 20 minutes is a real problem for the two Soldier builds that benefit from them. It makes me wonder how this is supposed to be functional - I mean, I guess if you're going around in a hovertruck on exploration or patrolling in your cop car, you can keep it on that, or you can gear up before a ship boarding, but if you're doing anything extended on foot you're going to have to leave it behind unless you get real clever. Sure, you can lug around tons of batteries, but there'll still likely be an ultimate limit in terms of cost or time.

At the very least they could get an ability that kicked up their charge interval from 1 minute to 1 hour, but as it is, any use of powered armor has to revolve around how you're going to make using it feasible.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Joe Slowboat posted:

Pretty much this; it seems to be a natural place to go with an urban setting (more setting = more stories, right?) and it does get at a sense of immensity, but it rarely works out that well.
Trantor is an example of it done decently, in my opinion, because the limitations and costs of that megatropolis are considered. And even there they never cover how you would have completely different languages in different regions, entirely different cultures of architecture and governance even under an overarching system - it's simply too large, and no longer plays by the rules a city does in real life.
And that rarely comes up.

You mean like the Megastructure from BLAME!, right? You have various pockets of humanity living between the bulkhead levels, some have gone completely primitive, others have become corporate states, while others live in frequent terror of the Megastructure's network police Safeguard and the Silicon Creatures roaming around, killing all humans. The Megastructure even has different types of humanity, with some having radically different morphology compared to those on levels below or above them.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Joe Slowboat posted:

Pretty much this; it seems to be a natural place to go with an urban setting (more setting = more stories, right?) and it does get at a sense of immensity, but it rarely works out that well.
Trantor is an example of it done decently, in my opinion, because the limitations and costs of that megatropolis are considered. And even there they never cover how you would have completely different languages in different regions, entirely different cultures of architecture and governance even under an overarching system - it's simply too large, and no longer plays by the rules a city does in real life.
And that rarely comes up.
Asimov does discuss some of this in the Foundation prequels even if it's a fairly light touch, but then the mere creation of a planetary city (as opposed to, say, one planet out of 130 sacrificed to be the urban core for all the centralized horseshit) suggests a huge amount of cohesion at SOME point. And Trantor did come to a bad end, ultimately.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I think it's a little early to judge Fragged Aeternum's setting, but as long as the mechanics are solid, it seems like changing the setting to taste would be relatively trivial.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Legend of the Five Rings

We interrupt this broadcast of what would have been more Glorantha to bring you-



Fantasy Flight Games' new Legend of the Five Rings open beta! It is available free on DTRPG right now. I like a whole lot of it, though I have some issues I'll talk about on the way. They have put a physics-based diceroller app on Apple's App Store and Google Play, which lets you manually set up, change die fices, group dice, display results and so on. You can also print out a page at the back to stick on your dice, if you're weird. Because yes, this uses custom FFG dice.

...at least they have the app. Even if it costs 5 bucks.

There is also a canned adventure that is meant to let you test out all of the different kinds of conflict scenes. They request feedback on their forum, at their email address (L5RRPGbeta AT fantasyflightgames.com), in which they request you consolidate all of your questions and comments for your entire group to a single document, and via surveys they will occasionally be posting. They will also have surveys on social media to vote on more previews. Also, they have a mailing list signup.

The specific feedback they want will have accurate page citations and clearly state any issue. They are happy to listen to rules contradictions, typos or problems in play experience, but prefer you be very specific.

So, what is up in the lands of our...favorite samurai game? We get a brief discussion of Bushido and how in theory, a samurai should sacrifice everything else to fulfill its ideals, but because samurai are human, this is far from easy. Rokugani has many plays about the impossible decisions as samurai must choose between ninjo, their feelings, and giri, their societal obligations. It is rare that anyone can fully resist the conflict between these two things, and L5R's new edition is meant to revovle around that tension. Every PC will need to, during chargen, define their ninjo and giri, which should be in opposition to each other. Your choices between them will have consequences narratively and mechanically - and neither is the wrong choice.

We get a brief discussion of the Five Rings, which are the five elements as Rokugan has determined them, and again, you have Rings. They vary in value, from 1 to 6 now, and represent different ways to approach a problem or different ways to do things. None of them have skills that are always associated with them any more; any skill can be used with any ring, depending on how you do it and what you're trying to do. But first, we get a brief overviw of Rokugan. It's a feudal empire, and most samurai are bushi (warriors), courtiers, or shugenja (priests and wizards). The Emperor rules, commanding the Great Clans, who are led by daimyo, etc. Very little has changed here in the broad strokes. However, ther is one big change: social classes. The samurai, those who serve the empire, are mostly the same. The kuge noble families are the upper social class of these - the lineages of clan champions, vassal families, the Imperial families and the greatest servants of the Emperor. Who is a Hantei right now - the timeline has been rolled back to before any L5R metaplot ever happened. Below them are the buke, or chivalric houses, that are all other samurai - provincial rulers, governors, magistrates and, of course, the PCs. The least of those are the ji-samurai, or half-samurai, who are not permitted to take the name of their lord. This includes all ronin.

Below the samurai are the bonge, also called heimin, or half-people. These are the peasants. Farmers are at the top, below them the craftspeople, who make things. Below them are the merchants, who are seen with some contempt as they do not create things themselves. Bonge have few rights to carry weapons, save for the ashigaru levies and the budoka, who are armed servants of the samurai classes. A samurai can demand anything a bonge has without paying for it, as long as the bonge belongs to their lord, and may kill any who disobey or are disrespectful. However, samurai are also required to protect the bonge and administer the Empire, so killing one means you must answer to their lord. Most samurai are merely indifferent to the bonge, with only a rare few being actually cruel. However, the bonge rarely feel much towards their superiors but fear. Those treated with great compassion tend to be extremely loyal.

The third class is no longer referred to in the game's narration by an actual ethnic slur - what the game once called 'eta' are now the burakumin, sometimes known as hinin, or non-people. The word eta is noted as being an extreme pejorative term, meaning 'abundance of filth'. These are criminals, torturers, undertakers, butchers and tanners - people who are close to death or dishonorable action all the time. They are considered utterly unfit to be close to samurai in most circumstances, as they are seen as deeply unclean. Being near them requires special purification after, and most burakumin live on the outskirts of society in their own special villages. They are terrified of samurai, as they can be killed for no reason at all, with no consequences. Technically, any entertainer that is not a samurai is also hinin, including geisha - but this is a technicality, to allow samurai to fully relax around them without any social stigma for doing so.

We also have changed things to reflect Japanese tradition more closely. The virtues of Bushido now use their Japanese names. First is Gi, Righteousness. It is honesty and justice, the rejection of shades of grey. There is only right and wrong. Only truth and falsehood. Only justice and injustice. However, it can be hard to manage this - you must be committed to truth and justice even as you manipulate in court or ignore lesser injustices to be able to stop greater ones. Second is Yu, Courage. Every samurai is, the saying goes, only three feet from death. A samurai must be ready to die for their lord, their clan and their Empire, and a noble death is to be treasured. A samurai must not be afraid to act, though respect and caution are allowed. Third is Jin, Compassion. Samurai are above the others of the Empire, but they still serve. Most samurai focus on abstract compassion - defend the people from enemy incursions and the attacks of rival clans. Few work the logical extreme - preventing others from abusing the lower classes - though the Phoenix take it quite seriously.

Fourth is Rei, Courtesy. A samurai must be able to maintain proper social appearances and withstand adversity, even when others are being as rude as possible. This is why courtiers focus on indirect insults and subtle insinuations. It is socially inappropriate to lose one's temper with equals or those of higher rank, even when they become enraged with you. Fifth is Meiyo, Honopr. This is the must subtle yet most all-encompassing virtue, requiring a samurai to follow their own conscience and ensure that all of their decisions reflect their inner beliefs rather than merely what is expected of them. These are often the same action, but honor is the reason you do it, and honor can even justify disloyalty or disovedience, because without proper moral backing, obedience is hollow.

Sixth is Makoto, Sincerity or Integrity. Samurai must be sincere and full of conviction in both word and deed, no matter what. Sometimes, it is more important to convince others you believe what you say than to actually be honest, because even if you are wrong, if you commit the whole of your being to what you say and do, you are fulfilling your duty. Last is Chugi, Duty and Loyalty. This, even more than honor, is core to Rokugani bushido. Samurai are expected to do as they are told by their lord and to do their duty to their subordinates, no matter what the cost is to their own personal honor. Orders should always be honorable, of course, but 'should' is such a weak word. If a samurai feels their duty conflicts with bushido's virtues, they may commit seppuku in protest, even without their lord's permission. (Or they may disobey, but strictly speaking doing that is seen as wrong and dishonorable.)

Next time: The Great Clans, as they are spoke.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




I'm eager to see the de-Wick-ening of the world.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




That Old Tree posted:

Obviously Paizo built their brand on a deep sense of conservativism, but Starfinger has just enough tweaks and new ideas that it really highlights how utterly afraid it is of doing anything remotely adventurous with its design.

Au contraire, Paizo has taken the most daring of steps: to simultaneously corner the market on conservative dnd grogs and the market on gear porn grogs with a single product.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Legend of the Five Rings: If I Could Turn Back Time

So, how many Great Clans are there right now? Only seven. See, because the timetable has been turned back to before the metaplot and into the Clan Wars period, the Mantis Clan are not a Great Clan - just a minor one. Sorry, Mantis fans! Our Great Clans are the Crab (large, brusque and low on etiquette, warriors who stand guard on the Shadowlands from the Kaiu Wall and who often grumble about being taken for granted and dying to allow the effete to play courtly games), the Crane (Left Hand o the Emperor, politicians, traditional spouses of the Emperor and Emerald Champions, and practitioners of cultural art and craft), the Dragon (historians, weirdos, mystic monks and investigators who work to keep the Empire from becoming too focused on itself), the Lion (warriors and would-be exemplars of bushido, masters of war and pioneers of tactics and battle), the Phoenix (spiritual guardians of the Empire, scholars of religion and magic, peacemakers with a tendency to the self-sacrificing), the Scorpion (grim servants of the Empire, doing what is terrible but required to keep it safe and ensure no clan can challenge the Hantei line, at the cost of everyone hating them), and the Unicorn (barbaric horsemen, fierce warriors and keen masters of the foreign mind). There are no rules for minor clans in this beta; it is unclear which, if any, will be in the final product.

So, the game itself! Let's talk mechanics. We're pretty standard - multiple players controlling PCs, one player being the GM. Brief discussion of the social contract (the GM's got the last word but should always consider the ideas of the players and encourage them, and if anyone is uncomfortable with something, they should say so). Now, the dice. The game only uses two types of dice - one six-sided, one twelve-sided. They're still FFG dice, tho, with symbols rather than numbers. We combine this with Roll and Keep. You roll a pool of dice, but will only be keeping a certain number of the ones you roll; those not kept are discarded.

This is my biggest issue with the game. FFG dice are weird to figure out statistically; Roll and Keep is weird to figure out statistically. Combining them both together means that an intuitive grasp of the likelihood of making a roll is extremely difficult. It is also very unlikely that this will change regardless of feedback; FFG's committed to this.

Your d6s are Ring Dice, and d12s are Skill Dice. You always add together a number of Ring Dice from the Ring you're using for a check and Skill Dice from the skill. There are no negative dice here; instead, you are trying to get a set number of successes, the TN. TN can never go below 1, and typically won't go above 5 or 6 except in very rare cases, but maxes out at 8. Getting five successes is pretty hard.



The one that looks basically like a circle is the Success symbol. Each one is a single success. The one that is three dots in a circle is the Explosive Success symbol. IT counts as a success, but you also get to roll an additional die of the same type, which you may choose to keep or drop. (There are circumstances where keeping it would be bad; it otherwise is added as an additional kept die on top of the ones you'd normally keep.) The symbol with six dots like a sun is the Opportunity symbol, and it does not count as a success. However, you can spend Oppurtunities to get additional side benefits, regardless of success or failure, so they're quite valuable. The final symbol, hwich looks like a W sort of, is meant to be a stylized cherry blossom, and it is the Strife symbol. It represents your character feeling a sudden surge of emotion. This can be positive, neutral or negative emotion, but the more you have, the harder it is to maintain your societally mandated decorum and stoic facade. Strife does not count as a success or a failure. Rather, each Strife symbol gives you 1 Strife to add to your Strife pool.

So, when do you make a check? It's when you do something that the GM decides: could fail or succeed, has conseuqences for success and for failure, and both are interesting. If you can't fail to do it, don't make a check. If you couldn't possibly succeed, don't make a check. If success and failure would have the same result, don't make a check. If the consequences of success wouldn't be interesting, don't make a check. If the consequences of failure wouldn't be interesting, don't make a check. Just do what works best for the story. IT is only when both outcomes could be interesting that you should turn to the dice.

The first step of making a check is to declare what you're trying to do. If you succeed at the check, you do it. If you fail, you don't manage it. Them, you need to determine what kind of check you're making. First, you determine what the appropriate Skill Group is. More on that later. Then, you pick the specific Skill used. Both of these are determined by discussion between GM and player. After that, you briefly describe how you are going to do the thing. The GM decides which of your Rings your approach corresponds to.

Broadly speaking, Air is used for approaches based on grace, perceptiveness, cunning or precision. Earth is used for resilience, memory, patience or discipline. Fire is used for passion, invention, candor or ferocity. Water is used for adaptability, awareness, gregariousness or power. Void is used for mysticism, wisdom, intuition or instinct. Sometimes a task can only be done by one approach; sometimes, the GM will decide the method the player is using could be one of several, and will give the player a choice of which.

The GM then determines the TN, between 1 and 8. TN 1 is easy, TN 2 is average, TN 3 is hard, TN 4 is very hard, and so on. TN 8 is where you hit feats of legend, like breaking a boulder with your bare hand. Once the TN is determined, you make your roll. Once you roll, you and the GM decide which, if any, of your Advantages and Disadvantages (more on those later) apply to the check. Each one can only be used once per check. You add up all the advantages that apply and all the disadvantages that apply. They then cancel each other out, 1 for 1. Distinctions cancel out Adversities, Passions cancel out Anxieties. Once you figure out what's left, you apply them.

If a Distinction advantage applies, you may choose and reroll up to two dice. If a Passion advantage applies, you lose 3 Strife after making the check. If an Adversity disadvantage applies, you must choose and reroll two dice that have Success or Explosive Success results showing; if there's only one, you only reroll that one. If there are none, reroll nothing. After the check resolves, you gain 1 Void Point if the check failed. If an Anxiety disadvantage applies, you gain 3 Strife after making the check. If you suffer an outburst from this, you regain 1 Void after the outburst resolves. (More on outbursts in a bit.)

Once all that's been settled, you select your Kept dice. You Keep at least 1 die, and can Keep up to the value of the Ring you rolled in dice. At this point we begin to resolve symbols. Explosive Success symbols are resolved first because you get to roll and potentially keep extra dice from them. Once all of those are resolved, you resolve the Strife symbols. Then you rsolve the Opportunity symbols and can start to select how you're going to use them. There's a bunch of lists of things you can do, or the GM can allow you to come up with creative narrative uses if none of those apply. Note that some Opportunity spends only work on successes, some only on failures, so you may want to hold off for the next step, where you finish counting up Success symbols and see if you fail or not.

If you succeed, you gety to narrate what happens, as long as you stay in the bounds of your declared intention when you began the check. You should also describe the emotions you feel if you got Strife results. The GM can modify or help you interpret how you want to do things, but you have narrative control over how your success is described. There are also effects that can modify checks.

If you get help from other characters, you roll an additional Skill die per assistant that has at least 1 rank in the relevant skill, and an additional Ring die per assistant that has 0 ranks in the relevant skill. The GM may also allow you to use up to one advantage from each assistant, and you get to keep up to 1 additional die per assistant. Each assistant may choose to take 1 Strife to prevent you from suffering the effects of a single Strife symbol. (Personally, I don't think keeping additional dice is a good idea and would remove that part.) Often, you will get bonus effects from having more successes than you need, and occasionally you may get negative effects based on how badly you fail a check.

Some checks are Resistance checks - say you get thrown off a balcony. You get a resistance check to avoid falling. The GM assigns TN normally, perhaps applying bonus successes from the person throwing you to the TN if they feel like it. There are also Competitive Checks, which are done normally but whoever gets the most bonus successes wins. (Or the smallest shortfall of successes, if you all fail.)

Next time: Strife

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mors Rattus posted:

So, how many Great Clans are there right now? Only seven. See, because the timetable has been turned back to before the metaplot and into the Clan Wars period, the Mantis Clan are not a Great Clan - just a minor one. Sorry, Mantis fans!

You know, they'd never have done it, but I would have loved to seen the Scorpion replaced with the Mantis. Mind, I'm saying that as somebody that's never really found the Mantis interesting, but the Mantis are kind of like the Scorpion with a functional concept. See, the Scorpion are supposed to be like the shadow defenders of the Empire, but there are problems with that. One, that's almost never showcased. I can't think of many examples, and almost every time I think of an example the very evil they're stopping was born from the Scorpion's shady dealings. Like the Shadowed Tower. Or Shosuro.

What's more, there's already a group that protects the Empire from shadowy threats; The Emerald and Jade Magistrates. That's their job. It's not like they only go against crimes that only happen in the town square. The Mantis are shady and involved with crime for relatively believable reasons: opportunity and profit. The Scorpion have this big to-do about needing folks who discard honor in order to defend the Empire, only... other clans do that. The Crab are a much better example of the necessity of discarding honor. Most of the Scorpion's disposal of honor seems to be because it's convenient, not because it's necessary. I mean, they're literal drug dealers. Trying to work out how opium helps the Empire, and I'm coming up awful short.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that the Scorpion are just badly-conceived, even beyond the "why haven't they been purged centuries ago?"

also roll and keep needed to die a mercy death, also I want a hollyphant for christmas

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

I'm eager to see the de-Wick-ening of the world.

It's been de-wicked for like, a decade and a half now. Wick left the line relatively early in its lifespan.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




I'm having trouble seeing how to choose a Ring for, say, an arm-wrestling contest. Your Crane with a lot of Air probably wouldn't do well there, but I can see how an argument could be made for Earth, Fire, and Water, described as they are.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

You know, they'd never have done it, but I would have loved to seen the Scorpion replaced with the Mantis. Mind, I'm saying that as somebody that's never really found the Mantis interesting, but the Mantis are kind of like the Scorpion with a functional concept. See, the Scorpion are supposed to be like the shadow defenders of the Empire, but there are problems with that. One, that's almost never showcased. I can't think of many examples, and almost every time I think of an example the very evil they're stopping was born from the Scorpion's shady dealings. Like the Shadowed Tower. Or Shosuro.

What's more, there's already a group that protects the Empire from shadowy threats; The Emerald and Jade Magistrates. That's their job. It's not like they only go against crimes that only happen in the town square. The Mantis are shady and involved with crime for relatively believable reasons: opportunity and profit. The Scorpion have this big to-do about needing folks who discard honor in order to defend the Empire, only... other clans do that. The Crab are a much better example of the necessity of discarding honor. Most of the Scorpion's disposal of honor seems to be because it's convenient, not because it's necessary. I mean, they're literal drug dealers. Trying to work out how opium helps the Empire, and I'm coming up awful short.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that the Scorpion are just badly-conceived, even beyond the "why haven't they been purged centuries ago?"
On the one hand, everything you're saying about the Scorpion you could also say about the CIA. The Scorpion would be plausible if Rokugan was a colonial power...but it's not, it's an isolationist feudal society with one big shadowy external threat that the Scorpion aren't really any good against because you can't seduce a zombie and poison it. (At least, I don't want to read that flavour fiction.)

It would also make sense if their thing was defending the Emperor from being supplanted by a shogunate, because isn't that dynamic missing from L5R? At least it would explain their desperate need to call Lions dumb.

wiegieman posted:

Au contraire, Paizo has taken the most daring of steps: to simultaneously corner the market on conservative dnd grogs and the market on gear porn grogs with a single product.
Starfinder's art is technically competent but totally uninteresting to me. Everyone is covered head to toe in chunky, bulky gear. The parts where they're clearly imitating pictures of the weapons from Final Fantasy games, or doing fantasy armor but in space, are actually the most interesting.

More or less by accident, it seems, the overall style defaults to being a overdone 80s style.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 01:29 on Oct 8, 2017

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


wiegieman posted:

I'm having trouble seeing how to choose a Ring for, say, an arm-wrestling contest. Your Crane with a lot of Air probably wouldn't do well there, but I can see how an argument could be made for Earth, Fire, and Water, described as they are.
To a certain extent, that's working-as-intended. They're going for a system where you can accomplish a task in a couple different ways, and use the appropriate ring for the approach you prefer.

I do think the descriptions of the rings create cases where its hard to tell which one a particular approach would fall under, though.

KittyEmpress
Dec 30, 2012

Jam Buddies



Scorpion is really cool because of reasons I posted in another thread, but their backstory only got explored *after* the first bit of the CCG... Which didn't have them playable and featured the scorpion coup that turned them into laughable bad guys.

They were only given a chance to be the shadow heroes of the Empire as backstory to how they got so close to the emperor, so every bit of writing from 1e of the rpg on technically took place after their betrayal. It wasn't until 4e decided to be setting neutral that it explored what it meant to be a Scorpion before the coup. And by then, writers had been writing them as antagonists for 16 years.

The stuff about them selling opium and poisoning other clans for the lulz was all set post coup, when they were a fallen clan hunted by the other clans to be wiped out basically. Before that they basically controlled the underworld in a 'we allow this to happen, but anyone who starts trying to poison the Lion leadership happens to overdose on opium' way. They made peasent rebels and ronin uprisings quietly disappear without excess death, by removing the heads of the snake, and leaving the body to flee. They also did the jobs that no one else could do - if a powerful, renown samurai was found to be influenced by jigoku, they were the ones who answered this crime with death. They killed those who were too powerful, too influential, to be handled by the courts, because the Emperors understood that if their right hand man in an imperial family turned out to be tainted by maho, and imprisoned for it, it would shake people's faith in the Emperor and his court. Better for a well respected veteran samurai to be assassinated by vile peasants, or to pass away peacefully in his sleep, or to accidentally be killed by his son after a training blade was switched with a real one, or etc. A proper scorpion was never known to be an assassin.


Scorpion are super interesting in a way that a Crab samurai breaking bushido isn't. Because Crabs (despite flanderization) still were supposed to be practitioners of Bushido, they still handled their grievances honorably, they just weren't required to act with honor against Jigoku (nor were any other clan).

While you can say that Crab handled the only threat of Jigoku, plot said that Lots of Maho tainted people existed, who had spread Jigoku in the heartlands of the empire, that magistrates barely managed to keep from turning into a crisis (in post scorpion coup rokugan)

They were also, until the scorpion coup, one of the main reasons stuff like the Clan War never happened. Whenever a Lion general got too war hungry to take nearby clans territories, the Scorpion would quietly work out a way to make him stop, be it through blackmailing him, killing him, or manipulating his underlings to steal his status. The Scorpion were why the Crab never started marching on the Crane in a war of obliteration despite the Crane provoking the Crab for 800 years. Minor scuffles were allowed, but all out war was contained and prevented.

It's part of why the Jigoku manipulated the scorpion to do their Coup, and get them our of the way, which is why the coup lead immediately into the Clan War.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


It's worth remembering that all of the Clans have either been the favored child or the red headed step child, depending on which line-runner was in charge (at least pre-FFG taking over). This also is true of the CCG which feeds into the RPG treatment of them.

It's so prevalent that if you're familiar with the business history of the line, you can tell who was in charge when a particular book was written just by looking at which Clan got the best and most new mechanics.

KittyEmpress
Dec 30, 2012

Jam Buddies



Also the Burakamin line is especially weird because I just went back to read the 4e line about eta and while it talks about testing swords on 'eta', it states that only the most vile ronin and honorless samurai stoop so low to test a blade, even if it's technically legal for any samurai, and that being known to kill them is like being known as someone who kills dogs or cats for fun, and will quickly get you removed from social circles, even if not arrested.

The beta just makes it seem like the norm.



Edit: later tables note that killing an innocent, even if legally, loses 10 honor, so maybe that's supposed to apply to Burakamin? Would make sense with previous editions going 'this is possible, but honorless scum do it and no one else'

KittyEmpress fucked around with this message at 03:39 on Oct 8, 2017

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Comrade Gorbash posted:

To a certain extent, that's working-as-intended. They're going for a system where you can accomplish a task in a couple different ways, and use the appropriate ring for the approach you prefer.

I do think the descriptions of the rings create cases where its hard to tell which one a particular approach would fall under, though.

I guess that's the problem I'm having. Like, Fire seems like it's the direct approach, but Water also seems like the "I just loving muscle him in half" Ring.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

One thing I will add/offer about Starfinder armors is that, in a sop to Pathfinder Unchained's Simplified Monster Creation, creating Starfinder monsters involves picking out an armor at or around the monster's level, and then setting their KAC and EAC to 10+that, ignoring any AC from Dex.

That damage also scales with weapon, which indirectly scales with level, is another sop to this system, since the Unchained monster creation system directly assigns damage values to monsters with no regard for how it got there.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


KittyEmpress posted:

They were also, until the scorpion coup, one of the main reasons stuff like the Clan War never happened. Whenever a Lion general got to war hungry to take nearby clans territories, the Scorpion would quietly work out a way to make him stop, be it through blackmailing him, killing him, or manipulating his underlings to steal his status. The Scorpion were why the Crab never started marching on the Crane in a war of obliteration despite the Crane provoking the Crab for 800 years. Minor scuffles were allowed, but all out war was contained and prevented.

I'm pretty familiar with the Scorpion's OOC history. I got into Legend of the Five Rings around the time of the Shadowlands CCG set. My first deck was a Scorpion deck.

A lot of the Scorpion material, in my opinion, is "tell, don't show". We're told Scorpions have done a lot of important stuff, but rarely are the actual events demonstrated, and often it's kept vague and indistinct. Which may make sense from a in-setting perspective, from an out-of-setting perspective it doesn't do a lot to demonstrate why the Scorpion are necessary. I mean, sure, they might have stopped the Crab from marching on the Crane with mysterious stabs, trust them, they somehow always know the right murders to do - but an Imperial decree can do that, too.

That's not to say you can't rewrite them to be better, mind, but too often they were just written as smug, self-promoting ciphers from my experience. If any part of L5R has been stuck in Wick's shadow, it's the Scorpion.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





KittyEmpress posted:

Also the Burakamin line is especially weird because I just went back to read the 4e line about eta and while it talks about testing swords on 'eta', it states that only the most vile ronin and honorless samurai stoop so low to test a blade, even if it's technically legal for any samurai, and that being known to kill them is like being known as someone who kills dogs or cats for fun, and will quickly get you removed from social circles, even if not arrested.

The beta just makes it seem like the norm.



Edit: later tables note that killing an innocent, even if legally, loses 10 honor, so maybe that's supposed to apply to Burakamin? Would make sense with previous editions going 'this is possible, but honorless scum do it and no one else'
Perhaps the samurai can just be suspended without pay for two weeks and then sent to a different prefecture?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Legend of the Five Rings: Toil and Strife

The great ideal of samurai is that they maintain total composure at all times, and never show their emotions outside of carefully mandated situations. However, pretty much no one can do this, and that's because of Strife. The main way you gain Strife is by rolling dice with Strife symbols. However, you can also gain them via Anxiety disadvantages, or by neglecting your Ninjo or your Giri, or via certain abilities used by other characters. The GM can also inflict Strife for narrative reasons - usually at the player's suggestion, the book notes, though not always. NPCs also gain Strife, though some will use simplified Strife rules.

Every PC (and important NPC) has a Composure trait. As long as your Strife is less than or equal to your Composure, you can keep it together. However, the first time each scene in which your Strife exceeds your Composure, you suffer an Outburst, a moment in which the mask of soticism briefly slips. However, it should be noted, that's not always a totally bad thing. You never lose control of your character during an Outburst, but you do have to paly it out, and an Outburst lasts until the end of the scene. The game provides a number of example Outbursts, though it notes that you can invent your own. (Indeed, it is part of chargen to invent or describe your character's Personal Outburst, more on that later.)

Compromise or Flee: You do something that breaks with your values, oaths or morals. You might bend your moral code or flee from danger. You lose 3 Honor, and until the end of the scene, you ignore one of your Interpersonal or Mental disadvantages, as you currently see the need to bend your morals. At the end of the scene, you lose Strife until your Strife is equal to half your Composure.
Expose a Weakness: Either via a physical tell or an ill-chosen word, you reveal one of your weaknesses. You choose a Disadvantage that you have not revealed this way this session; every other character in the scene learns about it. Until the end of the scene, however, you reduce the TN of Scheme checks you make. It is unclear how much. At the end of the scene, you lose Strife until your Strife is equal to half your Composure.
Become Enraged: You must challenge an antagonist in the scene to a duel, though it needn't be to the death, or attack them outright. You suffer the Enraged condition. (More on that later.) However, you may ignore one of your Mental or Physical disadvantages for the rest of the scene. At the end of the scene, you lose Strife until your Strife is equal to half your Composure.
Shut Down: You become withdrawn and quiet. You do not lose face, but cannot perform Attack or Scheme actions for the rest of the scene. However, the TN of any Scheme checks targeting you is increased by 1 for the same period. At the end of the scene, you lose Strife until it's equal to half your Composure.
Inappropriate Remark: You say something out of line or commit a shocking breach of etiquette. You lose 3 Glory. However, until the end of the sdcene, you ignore one of your Interpersonal or Mental disadvantages, as you have been pushed beyond what you usually tolerate. At the end of the scene, you lose Strife until it's equal to half your Composure.

You may notice that if you're in a combat scene, Become Enraged has few actual costs besides...becoming Enraged. This is intentional and even called out as such, that doing a rage-fueled attack in combat is intended to help vent Strife. However, the GM should encourage the player to have their character act increasingly risky or violent.

Further notes: At the end of every scene, you lose strife equal to your Water Ring. If you are in a conflict scene, you check your Strife at the beginning of each turn, and have your Outburst at the start of the turn, then proceed with your turn normally after resolving its effects. So if your Strife hits the level mid-turn, your Outburst will happen at the start of your next turn.

Now, Opportunities. These are how you add bonus effects to things. The most basic use is to add a narrative detail that comes up as you do the thing - new info that doesn't directly affect your success or failure, but which gives interesting new routes for the story to go. The player gets to suggest what such a detail might be, and the GM either approves it or gives an alternative option. Opportunities from Air rolls used this way should be able to be described as subtle, precise or cunning. Earth rolls, defensive thorough or reassuring. Fire, flashy, creative or inspiring. Water, intuitive, flexible or gregarious. Void, mystical, wise or instinctive.

We get a big chart. Any Opportunity can be spent in certain ways. One symbol will let you add in an exciting story detial that stems from your check but is unrelated to success or failure. One symbol can also let you determine the easiest way to do whatever you were trying, including the skill and approach that would have the lowest TN if used. (Handy, if you fail and someone else has a chance to try.) If you failed, you can spend a symbol to give the benefits of assistance to the next character to attempt a similar check. If you succeed, you can spend two symbols to do that.

On an Air-based roll, you can spend a symbol to observe an interesting detail about a character in the scene. The GM may allow you to use this to create a detail that did not previously exist for an NPC, such as an advantage or disadvantage they didn't have before. You may also spend one or more symbols to be extremely subtle about your action and attract minimal attention, with more symbols being more subtlety. You may spend symbols to learn the demeanor and current strife of characters in the scene, one for one. You may also spend double the normal amount of symbols to use a Water or Fire opportunity result.

On an Earth-based roll, you can spend a symbol to suddenly recall an important piece of info not directly related to your check. The GM may allow you to use this to reveal/retcon some small prep action you took earlier, such as bringing along a common item that'd be useful at the moment. You may spend one or more symbols to ensure you act extremely carefully, maintan your balance and keep safely away from sources of harm, with more symbols making your precautions more effective. You may spend symbols to allow other characters to remove 2 strife, at 1 symbol per character chosen. You may spend double the normal amount of symbols to use a Water or Fire opportunity result.

On a Fire-based roll, you may spend a symbol to notice something conspicuously missing or out of place that is nearby and not directly related to your check. The GM may allow you to create this absence - so you might notice that a missing pair of shoes means someone isn't home, making it safer to search their place, say, even if the GM hadn't decided on that. You may spend 1 or more symbols to do your action in a flashy way, drawing attention, with more symbols meaning you're more noticeable. You may spend symbols to make other characters gain 2 strife, at 1 symbol per character chosen. You may spend double the normal amount of symbols to use an Air or Earth opportunity result.

On a Water-based roll, you may spend a symbol to spot some interesting physical detail present in the environment that's not directly related to your check. The GM may allow you to use this to add a previously unnoticed piece of terrain or mundane object to the scene. You may spend 1 or more symbols to do your action more efficiently, saving time or materials. The more symbols, the more time or materials saved. You may spend 1 or more symbols to remove 2 of your own strife per symbol spent. You may spend double the normal amount of symbols to use an Air or Earth opportunity result.

On a Void-based roll, you may spend a symbol to gain some spirutal insight in to the nature of yourself or the universe. The GM may allow you to use this to reveal fact about your character that hasn't been established but which relates to the situation somehow. You may spend 1 or more symbols to somehow detect a sign of the supernatural around you via, say, a chill down the spine or a sudden silence or so on. More symbols means you get a more precise location of the supernatural thing or event. You may spend a symbol to name Air, Earth, Fire or Water, reducing the TN of your next check using the named Ring by 1. You may spend double the normal amount of symbols to use an opportunity result from any other Ring.

These are all examples - the book specifically notes that you can use them, or you can use them to inspire more novel uses of Opportunity symbols. The results you choose should be noted in your description of what happens - so if you use Earth to remove someone's Strife, tell how your actions give them emotional or physical support. Other specific mechanical uses of Opportunities can be unlocked by techniques you pick up.

So, now we're into the Rings mechanically. Your Ring is rated between 1 and 5, if you're a PC. (Supernatural beings can go outside that range.) Rank 1 means you're weak or deficient in the area, and should probably get help when attempting to do things in that manner. Rank 2 means you'er average. Rank 3 means you're above average, and people will notice when you use this kind of approach. Rank 4 means you're exceptional and impressive to others. Rank 5 means you're legendary - the best any human could be at that approach. Rank 6 or more is superhuman, possessed only by mystical beings like the Oracles or powerful oni.

Air is all about graceful cunning and precision. It is swift, nuanced and oblique, hard to pin down. When used for Artisan Skills, it allows you to Refine, to improve a work, hone its details, or strip away things that aren't necessary and detract from the work. When used for Scholar Skills, it allows you to Analyze, to focus on observation and understanding of detail, subtle nuance, implication and hidden meanings. When used for Social Skills, it allows you to Trick, being subtle and clever, convincing others, deceiving them either by lies or omission, imply secondary meanings or otherwise control what information others have. It needn't be malicious, but is always manipulative. When used for Martial Skills, it allows you to Feint, using precision and grace to control your own body, excelling or gaining advantage via positioning and timing rather than direct force. For Trade Skills, it allows you to Con, to gain something for nothing, to inflate your prices, to convince others to give you things or to steal.

Earth is the Ring of steady, thorough approaches. It is cautious, considerate and works to get results without taking risks or losses. It is tough physically, resilient mentally and reliable. When used for Artisan Skills, it allows you to Restore, to repair and perform upkeep, to return or preserve function, as well as to perform tasks such as archiving and storage. When used for Scholar Skills, it allows you to Recall, to remember and reproduce information. It cannot give you wild leaps of intuition or logic, but will let you recall what you know and what is proven. When used for Social Skills, it allows you to Reason, to convince others via rational arguments, get them to set aside emotion or make them recall their duty and responsibilities. It is also used to teach others, keep subordinates in line and maintain order. When used for Martial Skills, it allows you to Withstand, to endure. It lets you perform tasks by tenaciously keeping at them, cautiously avoiding exhaustion or problems. When used for Trade Skills, it allows you to Prepare, acquiring resources by physical toil. It also helps you to make proper inventories, manage goods and store them.

Fire is the Ring of ferocious, direct and inventive action. It is explosive and intense, getting results regardless of the cost. When used for Artisan Skills, it allows you to Invent, to draft and create something totally new from raw materials. When used for Scholar Skills, it lets you Theorize, using creative solutions and vigorous energy to solve problems in ways not considered before. IT also lets you extrapolate what might be true or might happen, connecting the dots and identifying absences. When used for Social Skills, it lets you Incite, engaging with someone's emotions and desires rather than logic, or getting others to act despite obvious problems or justified fears. When used for Martial Skills, it lets you Overwhelm, relying on bursts of power, speed or agility to solve a problem in one blow. It is always aggressive, fierce and adrenaline-laden. When used for Trade Skills, it lets you Innovate, developing new techniques or technologies, creating new products or services, or getting resources in new ways.

Water is the Ring of adaptability and perception. It is balanced and flexible, rarely committing all resources or overextending, but rarely underperforming. When used for Artisan Skills, it lets you Adapt, making a work function in new ways by changing or transforming it, translating it into new languages or mediums, or reducing it to components for a new piece. When used for Scholar Skills, it lets you Survey, gaining information about the environment and wide circumstance, identifying things within an area of expertise, detecting trends or figuring out how to use something practically. When used for Social Skills, it allows you to Charm, focusing on being friendly and building rapport with others, allowing you to give them new desires or make them feel emotions they wouldn't otherwise, discovering their existing desires, or winning their sympathy. When used for Martial Skills, it lets you Shift, making circumstances work in your favor and seeking the path of least resistance, redirecting a foe's energy rather than expending yout own. When used for Trade Skills, it lets you Exchange, giving one kind of labor or resources to gain another, getting items and services efficiently and at low cost.

Void is the Ring of transcendence of limitation, enlighenment and acceptance. When used for Artisan Skills, it allows you to Attune, understanding the purpose of a work, why it has shown up now, and if it has any supernatural qualities. When used for Scholar Skills, it allows you to Sense, gaining intuitive hunches about supernatural phenomena or future events. When used for Social Skills, it allows you to Enlighten, challenging the beleifs of others and making them reassess their decisions, desires or emotional states, or even mystical manipulations. When used for Martial Skills, it allows you to Sacrifice, acting instinctively to succeed regardless of the cost to yourself rather than opposing the enemy. When used for Trade Skills, it allows you to Subsist, making the most out of what you have without disturbing your surroundings or helping with living in harmony with the environment.

Next time: Honor and Glory

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Starfinger Core Rules Part #12: "We’re tweaking the rules around gear and economics and magic. We want to make it a little less bookkeeping and a little more 'sense of wonder.'"
(Credit: James L. Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Geek & Sundry Interview)



Computers

So, uh. Time for Starfinger to teach us how to hack computers. Doing is at a DC of 13 + (4 x tier), where a computer has a tier between 1 and 10. Weirdly, unlike every other piece of equipment so far, the tier is not tied to a given level (either from the perspective of PC equipment or an NPC challenge). However, trying to gain root access to a computer and do cool stuff ramps up the difficulty by 20, meaning some computers can never be fully hacked. Tier 2 or 3 is about the tops for a portable computer, however, though you can spend extra to miniaturize a computer, and it is possible to get a tier 10 computer as a wristwatch if you have a loooot of money to burn.

Beyond just using apps on a computer, reading its data, or using basic functions (like using a door), a computer has "modules" that determine four more advanced functions that require extra work to access:
  • Control: Stuff that the computer runs, like a turret or a robot or even another computer. It also lists cameras, but cameras were a "basic" function just a paragraph ago, so that's unclear.
  • Secure Data: Data that has been secured. Only details one topic, and runs a cost from 1 to 1,000 credits depending on how much data you're securing. Because that's how securing data works, as all IT professionals know - it's priced by the gigabyte.
  • Spell Chips: So, these spell functions that cast spells through spell gems. It's notable that non-spellcasters can't use spell gems, but computers can. So if you're a engineer and you want to cast a spell, you get a computer to do it for you. Sure. Makes sense.
  • Upgrades: These are several forms of enhancement - examples include AI, which lets your computer use social skills, hardened, which gives it a save bonus against effects that target computers (that aren't the Computers skill), miniaturization, range (lets it control systems from a distance), and security (a minor bump to DCs against intrusion attempts).
Finally, there are various countermeasures that take effect under various circumstances:
  • Alarm: Warning: the alarm is going off, warning.
  • Fake Shell: This is a fake system designed to fool hackers.
  • Feedback: Inflicts a condition / penalty on the system being used to hack on a failed hacking attempt.
  • Firewall: Makes a module require an extra roll at +2 difficulty to access.
  • Lockout: As eimplied.
  • Shock Grid: Can stun or kill hackers, but only when used first-hand by arcing lightning off the keyboard or plug or whatever. No "Black ICE" or anything like that.
  • Wipe: Wipes information on multiple failed hacking attempts.
Bear in mind most modules / countermeasures cost a % of the original computer, which is a gaming concession and miles from anything realistic when an antivirus program costs you thousands of credits. It bears re-mentioning that computer tier scales well beyond level limits, so an optimized Level 20 hacker trying to hack a Tier 10 computer will only be able to gain basic access about half the time if they have the password and there is no security software. While being an operative or envoy can mitigate that, there's still a Tier ceiling even they can't cross. It's also worth noting that, bizarrely, actually having the password or security key for a computer doesn't even grant basic access automatically - it gives a bonus, but it's possible to steal somebody's password and still fail to access their computer. I guess the space heroes of Starfinger are just fumbletyping all the time? Root access can only be specifically be granted by another root access owner, you can't be clever and steal their password... because of some reason, I'm sure.

This ironically makes social engineering far more valuable than Computing itself at high levels. If you're trying to hack into a Tier 10 system, literally the only way to do that is by to convince a system administrator to grant you access. No amount of jacking in and running the net will allow you to beat a DC of 73 as the game is written now as far as I can see with the math. Even a stolen password won't get you very far there.



Technological Items

No 10' pole listed, but we do have comm units, detonators (with rules for explosives that are easily missed), fire extinguishers, grappling hooks, holoskin (for cancelling disguise penalities and cool CGI mask yankaways), laser microphones, locks, medical gear, motion detectors, portable lights, restraints, signal jammers, spy drones, tool kits, and x-ray visors.

Why, yes, of course equipment is tied to level. Grappling hooks are level 2, handcuffs are level 4 (zip-ties are only level 1), laser mics are level 5, motion detectors and medical labs are level 7. Seriously.



Magic Items

Yes, because we have space wizards, we have space wizard items. Now, because we're already loaded down with armor mods, cybernetics, etc., magic item location has been simplified from Pathfinder's complicated location-based list down to... two magic items that have to be different types unless they're rings. Sorry Zaphod, you can only wear one space magic hat. There are also magic consumables like potions injectors or scrolls gems.

And we'll go over some of them, of course. There aren't nearly as many as in d20, mercifully.
  • Aeon Stones: These don't count against your magic item limit (even with themselves), but the only one that's really notable is the Pearly White Spindle, which increases your spellcaster level by 1 for purposes of spell effects only. As currently written, there's no limit to the number of them and no indication they can't stack, so the best wizards have a planetary ring orbiting their head, apparently.
  • Charge Cloak: Lets you expend a charge once per day to power a device, another tool for the Energize Spell spellcaster - not by powering their spells, but to fuel their weapons after they've drained them of their power.
  • Ring of Cosmic Alignment: Gives extra attunement points for Solarians, so they basically want two of these as soon as they can afford them at Level 11.
  • Rod of Cancellation: Drains items of magical properties, but a lot less useful than it is in a normal Pathfinder game for obvious reasons. (Especially when magic items will often be sealed away under environmental armor.)
  • Shadow Orb: Dampens light around you and gives you resistance against laser damage... but makes lasers very slightly more likely to hit you because they bend towards the orb. But as per the rules, they never hit the orb, they hit you. :v:
  • Spell Ampoules: Like magical potions, but with the advantage of being usable on other willing creatures.
  • Spell Gems: Like magical scrolls, but gems.
  • Staff of Mystic Healing: Gives an additional healing use for the Mystic.


Then there are serums, which are basically magic potions that don't simulate a specific spell effect. Most of them give +2 to two skills and and a specific bonus - "commando" gives extra temporary hit points, "diplomat" gives an extra language, "scientist" lets you make untrained science checks, etc. There's also the Serum of Appearance Change that lets you change your appearance (but not race or gender) but not enough to copy anybody else because game balance. "Well, it says I have... well, it says here I have blue, but I decided I wanted grey eyes." We also have the Serum of Sex Shift, which I was like "Oh that's progressive." until I noticed it was Level 3. Because... game... balance? Granted, that's just barely in range to buy at Level 1 if you're in a "major settlement", but too high of a level for starting characters to get in a "typical settlement". It'll also cost you 1/3 of your starting cash, which I guess is significantly cheaper than RL trans procedures, but... yeah. I dunno. Requiring transgenderism, non-binary, postgenderism, etc. to bow to the universal demand of game balance feels pretty damned bizarre.

This equipment system just gets weird. And stupid. Can I go back to doing lists of guns from Rifts now? Palladium equipment rules may be trash, but they never asked me to log a thousand adventuring hours before I could buy a rocket launcher.



Hybrid Items

No, I can't. We're close to done, but not done. Hybrid equipment is supposed to consist of technological / magical fusions, but the net theme you end up for is "psychic stuff". They count as magic items for the purpose of wearing them, and can get nailed by either anti-magic or anti-tech effects.
  • Mnemonic Editor: Because this is Starfinger, we can't just have character rebuilds. Oh, no. That would be simple. Instead, you need one of these, which basically function as a ticket to undo your last two character levels of advancement, allowing you to redo them. Best hope you remember what you picked, because you have to adhere to it. And if you think you can buy this once and share it with your crew, think again - it burns out and is unusable after one use. If you want to use this more than once, you need to get more expensive, higher-level versions. Ironically, given the minimum level of 5, it's unlikely that you'll have a chance to undo your first three levels - probably when you'd still be learning the system and need it the most.
  • Null-Space Chamber: There are other weight-saving items like a Glove of Holding or the Efficient Bandolier, but this is a proper Bag of Holding equivalent that creates a dimensional rift designed to hold all your dumb crap.
  • Starstone Compass: Apparently there's a "Starstone" at "Absalom Station" and having a literal compass that homes in on it helps in astrogation. It's not that interesting, but I figured I should comment on more than two things!
I just- I'm going to go on about the Mnemonic Editor for a moment. Because this is a game that bends over backwards for the equipment treadmill, but doing character rebuild, oh, that's a step too loving far and we need to punish the character for the player's lack of system mastery.



Vehicles

So, these are for riding, from the "goblin junkcycle" to an "exploration cruiser" to a "pump-jet sub". They have their own speed - which has a massive disconnect between their "drive speed" and "full speed", where the full speed is often 10 to 25 times as fast. In fact, the cruising speed is almost always slower than a person on foot. I've flipped forward to the vehicle rules section twice now and tried to see if there was anything I was missing, but it seems legit. And by "legit", I mean "broken". We'll be getting into the whys of wherefores of that once we get to the vehicle rules, though, which are a unique sort of rules disaster. They get their own size, AC, Hardness, HP, passenger count, skill modifiers (for pilots), item level, and collision damage.

Bizarrely, collision damage is based mainly on item level and size to a much lesser extent. That means between two vehicles going the same speed and of the same size and weight, one can do significantly more damage because of its higher level. Though there aren't any great examples here, it's also possible for a hovercycle to outram an armored APC because its level is higher. If that wasn't odd enough, the vehicle list ends at level 7 in this book. That means, like the videogame Borderlands, vehicles can currently get outleveled by the game math to the point where they become potential deathtraps, destroyed by the slightest at-level incidental attack leveled in their direction. Presumably we'll get some higher-level vehicles down the road, but for now they're a weird, neglected part of the equipment section.

Other Purchases

We have "personal items" which are basically equipment by any other name, just not with moving parts or electronics. You've got your backpacks, glue, clothing, hygiene kit, space suits, and tents. There are a few drugs - painkiller (bonus against pain saves, but you're flat-footed for a time), antitoxins, and sedatives (inflicts nonlethal damage). There are poisons here, but they're not statted. Are you interested in grain, textiles, or polymers? Those are detailed too. We get food, lodgings, services, and transportation.

Crafting equipment (tech, magic, or otherwise) requires units of "Universal Polymer Base" to basically 3D print it, but you still need the appropriate skill to craft it, because shut up is why. Starfinger's 3D printers apparently can't have plans downloaded to them, or something? However, crafting equipment doesn't change the cost. If the GM is nice, they might let you save 10% from parts taken from spare equipment (essentially the resale price for that stuff). The only advantage of crafting is being able to make stuff when you have time to do so, enough "UPB" to craft with, and no communities nearby to purchase from. Why? Because you can't use skills to gently caress with the equipment treadmill even in the slightest, that's why. There's at least the neat note that UPB is used as a black-market currency because it's useful and untraceable.

Until this chapter, I was pretty neutral on this book. It was kind of dull to me, sure, but it was better than Pathfinder. The equipment section, though, is such a mess. It's weird because they obviously tried to reduce bookkeeping in other areas of the game, but actively made the equipment treadmill require much more bookkeeping, throwing out alternative solutions from D&D 3.5 and books like Unearthed Arcana or Weapons of Legacy. It grates at seeing just how hard they lock basic capabilities of the genre behind level gating to represent a system that has nothing to do with fantasy fiction, nothing to do with space opera, and mostly just requires an excess amount of accounting to make numbers go higher. Worse set, basic sci-fi / modern-day items like nightvision goggles or translators are not to be seen, because those have been cordoned off as character abilities because... because... they're already cordoned off as racial or magical abilities. Seriously.

Next: Time to use all those adjectives on your gun.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 15:35 on Oct 8, 2017

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Starfinger Core Rules Part #12: "We’re tweaking the rules around gear and economics and magic. We want to make it a little less bookkeeping and a little more 'sense of wonder.'"
(Credit: James L. Sutter, Starfinger Creative Director, Geek & Sundry Interview)

No, they don't, they don't care one whit. This is the first of these quotes that has actually made me angry.


Alien Rope Burn posted:

[*]Spell Chips: So, these spell functions that cast spells through spell gems. It's notable that non-spellcasters can't use spell gems, but computers can. So if you're a engineer and you want to cast a spell, you get a computer to do it for you. Sure. Makes sense.

They've mastered quantum computing, but they're still stuck with linear fighting.

It's gonna be a real messy Butlerian jihad.

KittyEmpress
Dec 30, 2012

Jam Buddies



Nessus posted:

Perhaps the samurai can just be suspended without pay for two weeks and then sent to a different prefecture?

I mean, I don't think it's a bad thing to say 'some samurai abuse their power and are utterly terrible people who are hated by other samurai'. One of the big points of previous editions was that every clan had some bad points, even if their flaws were often ignored by writers who liked them. A lot of these flaws related to how they treated those under them.

Crane clan was vain to the point where they would have members who would permanently scar and maim anyone who made the slightest breach of etiquette, be they lesser samurai, peasants, or Burakamin. Their peasants trained each other in this ettiquete about as much as they did their actual trades, to survive these terrible Crane.

The Lion clan view their peasants as little more than bodies to be used in war, and have a might makes right point of view where if you can't defend your land, you don't deserve it. They war with the other great clans more often than any other, and their peasants suffer for it.

The Crab clan pushes and pushes their peasants to work harder and harder, but also refuses to let them have access to quality tools. Because of the need to constant rearmor and rearm their warriors on the wall, their peasants are expected to work with some of the worst tools in the empire.

The dragon clan and its peasants live in the worst region of the empire (at least as far as great clans go). Their peasants subsist and most dragon clan samurai just say 'this will test you, and by enduring you will grow' because they are all about Zen and suffering to grow, at least the Togashi.

Unicorn, Phoenix, and Scorpion actually all treat their peasants pretty well. Their flaws are all more or less focused outside of how they treat their peasantry. Unicorn have always been the least weird about stuff that would make you a Burakamin, and tend to treat peasants and Burakamin with respect (And also are known to do legal fuckery owing back to how long they were in self exile, to claim peasants and gaijin who are talented are 'long lost cousins' and this elevate them to samurai.)

Phoenix ensures every peasant is educated, and basically forbids hurting peasants. They are the Clan that if you hurt their peasant, they will push to take you to the imperial courts, while most other clans are fine with Just some reparations for the cost to the Lord.

Scorpion also treat Burakamin comparatively well compared to other clans, since they are samurai who work close with death, and thus don't see it as unclean. They keep their lands pretty crime free most of the time (since they control the underworld they can make their lands safe subtly), and whenever There s a big secretive scorpion meeting they host lavish parties in every village where every peasant and Burakamin can drink and eat like samurai, and party into the night. This allows the scorpion to have their secretive ninja meetings, and to not feel bad for killing peasant spies, since no non spy peasants would choose to go to the far homes of the Samurai on the day of celebration (so far as scorpion thinks, at least. Maybe some of them are innocent. It's left open ended).


But even most of the clans with flaws related to their peasantry aren't complete assholes. It's only the worst examples that do the above bad things.

Crane peasants are richer than any other peasants, to the point where they eat better than samurai from the Dragon clans, most of the time. They are the only peasants that can regularly afford to eat full meals including meat, and generally eat fish with every meal, and bird at least every week or two.

Lion peasants are almost all trained to fight, and have no bandit activity in their lands. They are the safest of any clans peasants, and never experience the feeling of bandits killing villages for their goods.

Crab peasants, despite being pushed to be tougher and work harder, are valued. The Crab know that without their peasantry, they wouldn't be able to hold the Wall, and Jigoku would kill everyone. They are like the Phoenix in that hurting their peasantry or lower is a huge offense. Even if directly disrespected by a peasant or spit on, a Crab samurai is supposed to never kill them, and instead train them for battle, where they will join the crab samurai on the wall, watching for Jigoku. Most peasants aren't dumb enough to do this.

Dragon peasants can make the journey to a Togashi Dragon Monastery and be reborn as family of Togashi, becoming Samurai. And while they are the poorest peasants, this is because the Dragon clan is the poorest clan. Their samurai barely eat better than their peasants, because they also take the lowest amount as stipend. Where most clans take like 80% of what a village makes in a year, the Dragon take around 35% on average. They also take any crime, even that against peasants very seriously, and are the only clan that uses stuff like forensic evidence, instead of only taking the word of samurai as evidence. They tend to seek justice for any crime due to this, and manage it very often.




Every clan is meant to be able to play a villain in L5R, and many of these villains have been people who kill those they are allowed to without thought. It's not a bad thing for the setting, in my opinion at least, to allow Evil people to exist. Now, if someone sits down at your table and says 'I'm that crane that kills peasants for looking at me' then maybe say no, but I think the game would be a lot worse if every Samurai was some Paladin, paragon of shining good who never ever do anything bad. It leads to stuff like people talking above about how the only evil thing in L5R is Jigoku 'which the crab clan handles. When in reality, Jigoku is a big outside threat, but any clan can play the villain of your L5R campaign and be believable.

And unlike in D&D, it's intentionally something that society is kinda messed up about. An evil samurai who operates inside the laws as they abuse and twist things for their own pleasure is hard to deal with. You can't just murder them (unless you are a scorpion doing it secretly, which is another reason scorpions exist). You gotta get them disgraced, turn high rank lords and samurai against them, get people to openly testify against them (Or find physical evidence if you are a weirdo dragon clan), get them convicted, and then watch them seppuku. Or you can say "gently caress what people think about me' and challenge them to a duel and cut their heads off infront of people.


I like the fact that a terrible person can even flourish as a samurai, and that ronin are talked about as sometimes being far, far more well loved by the common folk than samurai with lords. I like that there's nuance of samurai not being paragons of justice. And while it totally has lead to me getting That Guy once or twice who thinks everyone not a samurai should be a free kill, you get that in every system. I've had far more people who want to kill commoners in DnD than people who really wanna legally murder lower castes in L5R. And either way, you just talk to them about it and if they don't change you go 'okay, please don't come back '.


But hey, it cultures in a game not being 100% morally good is a problem, I'm sure there's games that support the assumption that every One in power is a good person. But the only way you can look at the Empire and the lines of atrocities that happened in the old canon (entire family lines wiped our, villages burned to the child because one person was found to be jigoku worshipping, etc) and possibly think 'this is a morally good place' is because they are set up in opposition of a realm that believes turning everyone into murderous, cannibalistic psychopaths is a good plan.

But over all, There s a lot of darkness inside of the Rokugan, and the game doesn't pretend it's black and white so much as black and grey, with some Pcs and NPCs happening to be much closer to white.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


DalaranJ posted:

They've mastered quantum computing, but they're still stuck with linear fighting.

It's gonna be a real messy Butlerian jihad.

Does pathfinder have any equivalent to the "Cooperative Spell" feat? Because a data center throwing 400x cooperative mass hold person would be a pretty "fun" time.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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I think the shift in the game's talking about how burakumin murder is treated socially is because it is aiming for genre emulation of samurai fiction, where it isn't really treated as a big deal, especially if the burakumin is a criminal. That said I'd totally employ the honor loss for cold murder of an innocent. Honor is not tied to societal views but to the ideals of bushido.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mors Rattus posted:

I think the shift in the game's talking about how burakumin murder is treated socially is because it is aiming for genre emulation of samurai fiction, where it isn't really treated as a big deal, especially if the burakumin is a criminal. That said I'd totally employ the honor loss for cold murder of an innocent. Honor is not tied to societal views but to the ideals of bushido.

Compassion is one of the virtues, if sometimes a terribly neglected one.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I like the way they've restructured the skill and stat system in L5R, and hope that the lack of Mantis will pave the way for FOX CLAN BEST CLAN, but I'm not sure how fond I am of the Strife system and how the advantages/disadvantages* are laid out.


*to be fair, at least with disadvantages, the previous versions were 'pick stuff that won't ever come up, or write a few paragraphs about how your underage crane courier has a stalker who will do anything to be with them if you're a creeper', so anything would be an improvement, but... the advantages just feel kind of bland.

Also: gently caress custom dice.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Alien Rope Burn posted:

Compassion is one of the virtues, if sometimes a terribly neglected one.

It is indeed, and only Lions get mitigation of Honor loss from it.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


Alien Rope Burn posted:

I'm pretty familiar with the Scorpion's OOC history. I got into Legend of the Five Rings around the time of the Shadowlands CCG set. My first deck was a Scorpion deck.

A lot of the Scorpion material, in my opinion, is "tell, don't show". We're told Scorpions have done a lot of important stuff, but rarely are the actual events demonstrated, and often it's kept vague and indistinct. Which may make sense from a in-setting perspective, from an out-of-setting perspective it doesn't do a lot to demonstrate why the Scorpion are necessary. I mean, sure, they might have stopped the Crab from marching on the Crane with mysterious stabs, trust them, they somehow always know the right murders to do - but an Imperial decree can do that, too.

That's not to say you can't rewrite them to be better, mind, but too often they were just written as smug, self-promoting ciphers from my experience. If any part of L5R has been stuck in Wick's shadow, it's the Scorpion.
Some of the later material treated this a lot better IIRC; the highest ranking Scorpions were all up their rear end about being The Emperor's Underhand, and Doing What Must Be Done, but low-ranking Scorpions usually knew gently caress-all about what they were doing or why. So the vast majority of the clan is just doing dishonorable poo poo and blackmailing everyone they can, working at cross-purposes half the time, and usually just working towards something like the ending of Burn After Reading.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Legend of the Five Rings: I GIVE MY LIFE, NOT FOR HONOR, BUT FOR YOU

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of Honor and Glory, some brief notes. Skills run up to level 5 - anything over that is supernatural and superhuman, possessed only by kami, dragons, oni and so on. You cannot normally buy Advantages or Disadvantages with XP, but they can be assigned by narrative events or via certain rules - for example, you can get some physical Disadvantages by taking a critical hit. Also, there are derived attributes! Resilience is your HP bar, basically, and it's (Water Ring + Earth Ring)*2. Focus is your speed of reaction, used to help find initiative during conflicts and so on. It is (Fire Ring + Air Ring). Composure is your Strife meter's endpoint, as we recall. It is (Earth Ring + Fire Ring)*2. Vigilance is your general ability to spot threats, and will usually be used as the TN for someone to ambush, deceive, mislead or manipulate you when you're not actively on guard. It is (Air Ring + Water Ring)/2. Lastly, Void Points, which represent your force of will and innate luck. They are gained through struggle and adversity. You start each session with 1 Void Point, and can never have more than your Void Ring in Void Points. Any you don't use by the end of the session are gone, and you can't gain more if you're full up, so use 'em while you got 'em.

Void Points can be spent on a variety of effects. First, when assembling your dicepool, you can spend 1 Void Point to add an additional Ring die and have the option to keep an additional die. Second, when you suffer a crit, you can spend 1 Void Point to try to parry the attack and blunt some of the damage. Lastly, various techniques you can learn may require you to spend a Void to activate them. You can regain Void points in a variety of ways. Primarily, however, there's three. First, you regain them when you fail a check where one of your Adversity disadvantages was in effect. Second, you regain them when an Anxiety disadvantage causes you to suffer an Outburst. Third, if the GM conceals the TN of a check from the players, the one making the check gets a Void Point.

Now, Honor, Glory and Status. Honor is a measure of your PC's personal investment in Bushido and belief in its righteousness. Glory is how society views your PC and their reputation. Status is their social rank. All of them can range from 0 to 100. When an effect says to use your Honor, Glory or Status Rank, you use the tens digit - or, if you have 100, 10. You can gain or lose all three of these during play, though Status will change much less frequently than Glory or Honor. Some actions will require you to forfeit (read: lose) some of one of the traits, du to purposeful disregard for Bushido, your reputation or your political responsibilities. The GM will always inform you of how much you will lose before you perform the deed - you always have the chance to step back and not do the thing, or commit to it, even if that means the GM has to retcon a bit because they didn't get a chance to inform you. You can lose more than you actually have, but none of these can go below 0 - so you just hit 0 extra hard.

Sometimes, you will instead be asked to stake honor, glory or status. This means you have a risk. You might swear to do something, say, and have to stake some amount of honor or glory on it. If you do, the GM will note how much is staked and what condition will make you lose it. If you manage to avoid that condition, you keep it. If you fulfill those conditions somehow, by action, inaction or even bad luck, you lose the staked amount. Honor is primarily lost when you act in opposition to Bushido or lose faith in it, or when you fail to uphold an oath. Honor is usually gained when you act in accordance with Bushido at the cost of making your life harder. You do not gain Honor from acting honorably unless it introduces a new challenge to your life, comes at a cost, or requires some amount of personal sacrifice, even if it's not much. You have to have skin in the game.

Besides having an Honor value, you also have your Ninjo, or human feelings. Your Ninjo is a personal desire, ideal or crisis - the thing you want the GM to make the focus of tests of honor for your character, the thing that might be able to make you forsake your ideals and obligations. It can be broad or specific, but it should be something you will have to deal with during the campaign, and concrete enough that you have some idea how to pursue it even if the GM isn't throwing specific plot hooks at you. It is possible, over the course of play, that your Ninjo will evolve. If your PC ever reaches a moment of true clarity on their Ninjo, they can choose to discard it, fully embrace it or reinvent it. This should always be something that has a substantial impact on their worldview and view of Bushido. If, in doing this, the PC's faith in Bushido is strengthened, the GM should give them 5 to 10 Honor. If their faith in Bushido is weakened, they should instead lose that amount. They then work with the GM to define their new Ninjo. Whenever you wish to defy your Ninjo, you must take Strife equal to your Honor rank - or more, if you feel like it. It is always a major sacrifice on the character's part to ignore their Ninjo, and if their reasons are honorable, they may be eligible to gain Honor.



Example ninjo include: Create a secure future for/with the one you love. Become the best swordsman in the Empire. Protect someone(s) from a specific enemy. Develop a new invocation or special technique. Uncover lost secrets to defeat some specific ancient magic foe of your family. Discover your true parentage. That kind of thing. When your Honor is high enough, you get free Advantages (which must have the Virtue tag), and low enough you get free Disadvantages (which must have the Flaw tag).

Glory is primarily lost when you openly show a lack of faith in Bushido or willingly allow your reputation to take a hit, or when you make a boast and fail to back it up. Glory is gained when you get public acclaim, do great things or work to spread your fame. Besides your Glory vlaue, you have your Giri, or sworn duty. Your Giri is the way you serve your lord, and should be a theme or issue you want to see come up for your PC. When you select your Giri, it should in some way naturally oppose your Ninjo, because samurai fiction is all about the conflict between feelings and duty. Your Giri will usually be something your clan daimyo has ordered you to do. This can be broad or specific, but should always be attainable within the campaign and, again, specific enough that you know how to pursue it even when the GM isn't throwing plot hooks at you. Like Ninjo, your Giri can change...but it'll usually do so based on your accomplishments or your lord's needs. IF you fully succeed in your task and are recognized for it, you should be rewarded with 5-10 Glory and a new Giri, determined jointly by the player and the GM. If you feel you have definitively failed or decide to abandon your Giri, you must lose a GM-determined amount of Glory - at least 5-10, but potentially much more. If your daimyo accepts your failure or honors your request for new duty, then again, you and the GM work together to make a new Giri. If you have no lord to serve as a result of your action, your new Giri is 'Find a new lord to serve.'



If you pass up the chance to pursue your Giri, you gain Strife equal to your Glory rank. The GM may also ask you to lose some Glory (if your lord would ifnd out) or stake Glory on the success of whatever you decided to do instead of obeying orders. As with Honor, getting Glory high enough gets you advantages (which must be subtype Fame) and low enough means disadvantages (subtype Infamy). Example Giri include: Restore the reputation/fortunes of your teacher's dojo. Protect someone chosen by your lord, even to the death. Capture a particular place for your clan. Keep a specific secret of your lord from becoming public. Attend to the needs of a particular kami or other spiritual creature. Kill multiple specific members of an enemy group. Kill a specific, extremely well-guarded enemy.

Status, meanwhile, reflects your social standing. It changes rarely and is mostly used to compare your social standing to other people, so you know what etiquette to use with them. PCs will almost never lose Status unless they renounce positions, get fired from service or become known to be tainted by the Shadowlands. Status is mainly gained via the granting of titles; players do not begin the game with any, but earn them through deeds and narrative. Titles rules are not in the beta. It should be noted that while burakumin are status 0, they can never raise that by any means - even geisha. Foreigners similarly can never raise their formal status, but can become quite influential due to trade agreements with groups like the Tortoise Clan or other groups specifically allowed to trade with them.



Note: at no point, even Honor or Glory 0, do you leave play. It used to be, in older editions, that Honor 0 meant you had to commit seppuku, generally, or otherwise become an unplayable NPC. This is no longer the case. I really appreciate that change.

So, let's talk chargen. Character creation has shifted over to a mostly lifepath-style system, reminiscent to me of Mouse Guard or similar. So, first, we have our starting stats. You have 1 in every Ring and 0 in every skill. During chargen, you cannot have a Ring go over 3. If you would, you instead shift one point to another Ring. Likewise, you can't have a skill over 3. If you would, you instead shift a point to a different skill.

Question 1: What clan does your character belong to?

Crab Clan: You get +1 Earth and +1 Fitness. You have base 30 Status. The Crab Clan lives at the southern border, standing guard on the Kaiu Wall around the Shadowlands, where the forces of Jigoku lie. The Crab Clan are rowdy by Rokugani standards, often rude and generally quite pragmatic. They have no patience for weakness of any kind, as any weakness could bring disaster to the entire group. You cannot, after all, expect honor or peace from goblins and demons. All Crab Clan characters have:
  • General awareness of politics in Crab lands and the ability to name major family heads and other Crab leaders, along with their general political positions and allegiances.
  • The ability to identify common Shadowlands creatures, such as goblins, ogres or zombies, and how to defeat them.
  • Knowledge of stories and songs about heroes who faced great evils, such as oni, though they probably have not personally encountered any.
  • The ability to identify signs of the Shadowlands Taint in its advanced stages.
The Crab Clan value Courage over all other virtues of Bushido, as the Kami Hida gave them the job of safeguarding the most dangerous border against the forces of Fu Leng. When gaining Honor from actions in line with Courage, they gain double the normal amount. They have little patience for the stricter rules of Courtesy, as they have never adopted the level of social refinement of other clans. When gaining or losing Honor from actions in line with or against Courtesy, they gain or lose half the normal amount.

Crane Clan: +1 Air, +1 Culture. Base 35 Status. The Crane Clan, known as the Left Hand of the Emperor, descend from the Kami Doji, sister to Hantei, the first Emperor, and her resolution to bring order to the world of mortals. They claim she invented writing, politics, economics and art. Her most devoted followers were the ancestors of the modern Crane, and since then, they have become both the poets and the poetry, as they seek mastery in all they do. For them, politics and culture are fundamentally linked and indistinguishable, so they treat grace, refinement and cultural knowledge not only as virtues but as weapons. Failure to achieve excellence in the clan means you are doomed to obscurity and shame. All Crane Clan characters have:
  • General awareness of politics in Crane lands and the ability to name major family heads and other Crane leaders, along with their general political positions and allegiances.
  • Knowledge of the general state of political affairs between all clans.
  • Knowledge of proper etiquette and protocal in the Imperial Capital.
  • Working knowledge of the high arts and their historic masters, or at least those who were Crane.
The Crane Clan values Courtesy over all else, as their political power derives from the idea of respect, propriety and excellence of manners. When gaining Honor from actions in line with Courtesy, they gain double the normal amount. However, they believe that while bravery is valuable, excessive Courage is foolish, and cooler heads must prevail. When gaining or losing Honor from actions in line with or against Courage, they gain or lose half the normal amount.

Dragon Clan: +1 Fire, +1 Meditation. Base 30 Status. The Dragon Clan are strange and mysterious, focusing more on the search for enlightenment than most samurai, in emulation of the Kami Togashi. They have a reputation for eccentricity, and it is their duty to watch over and record what the Empire does. They rarely get involved as actively as other clans, and no one tends to know why they do intervene when they do. They are often guided by their founder's prophetic foresight, but even they do not always know what Togashi actually saw, only what was written. They are highly diverse in their pursuits, but all believe in the betterment of the self and, by bettering the self, bettering the Empire as a whole. Their leaving of their northern mountains is usually an effort to experience the Empire and see its history in the making. All Dragon Clan characters have:
  • General awareness of politics in Dragon lands and the ability to name major family heads and other Dragon leaders, along with their general political positions and allegiances.
  • Knowledge about monastic life and tradition, at least more than other clans, due to interaction with the Togashi Order.
  • Knowledge of how to properly prepare mountain plants and animals as food.
  • A working understanding of many physical phenomena of nature that others dismiss as boring or beneath their station.
The Dragon Clan values Sincerity over all else, as they believe that lies obscure the path to understanding. When gaining Honor from actions in line with Sincerity, they gain double the normal amount. However, they define Duty differently than others, holding that unquestioning loyalty is not loyalty at all, and even accepting criticism that other clans would see as horrible insubordination. When gaining or losing Honor from actions in line with or against Duty, they gain or lose half the normal amount.

Lion Clan: +1 Water, +1 Tactics. Base 35 Status. The Lion Clan are the ones that set the standard for how a warrior should be. They have the best armies in the Empire, and the best tacticians. They are known as the Right Hand of the Emperor for their military heritage, sworn to protect the Emperor as his personal guard and army. They are nearly fearless, with the threat of death only making them bolder, for honorable combat is the best way to die. They believe in striking first for victory, and will do anything the Empire asks of them. Their nature is war, and the Kami Akodo made them to enforce Hantei's will absolutely. Their entire culture is about glory and martial excellence, and the clan is a poor place for the gentle, as all of its members are expected to be warriors in some capacity, willing to die with a smile. Even those who are not true warriors often speak of their deeds in martial terms. All Lion Clan characters have:
  • General awareness of politics in Lion lands and the ability to name major family heads and other Lion leaders, along with their general political positions and allegiances.
  • Knowledge of military history, especially as it applies to their ancestors.
  • The ability to identify and know the purpose of all Rokugani weaponry, even if they don't always personally know how to use them especially well.
  • Knowledge of most common military maneuvers, engagements and tactics.
The Lion Clan values Honor over all else, particularly in the context of martial virtue, and believe that all samurai should obey the strict rules of action the virtue requires. When gaining Honor from actions in line with Honor, they gain double the normal amount. (That is, the Virtue Honor. That's...a little confusing, isn't it.) However, they often take Akodo's codes of behavior quite literally, and those have little room for the forgiveness required of Compassion. When gaining or losing Honor from actions in line with or against Compassion, they gain or lose half the normal amount.

Phoenix Clan: +1 Void, +1 Theology. Base 30 Status. The Phoenix are a clan of contradictions - great power and great restraint, great intellect and great humility, self-sacrifice and rebirth. Thus, they are the most mystical clan, keepers of the Tao of Shinsei and the soul of the Empire. They mediate between the world of men and the spirit realms, calling on the power of the kami for immense magical ability. However, while they wield terrifying power, they know that even the purest and simplest wish can have horrific consequences if the wish brings the elements out of balance. Others often consider them too hesitant in use of their power, but few can question their dedication to peace and harmony. They value the Tao of Shinsei and balance more than other clans do, seeking harmony in the world and themselves. Their restraint born of the knowledge of the consequences of what they can do, however, is often taken as cowardice or passivity. All Phoenix Clan characters have:
  • General awareness of politics in Phoenix lands and the ability to name major family heads and other Phoenix leaders, along with their general political positions and allegiances.
  • Familiarity with the religious practices of Rokugan, from the rites of the priesthoods to the invocations of shugenja to the Tao of Shinsei, and even of the traditions predating the founding Kami, such as the Isawa elementalists or the Yobanjin animists.
  • Knowledge of the names of the most significant kami in Phoenix lands, and possibly even some personal interactions with them.
  • Knowledge of the names and locations of all major shrines.
The Phoenix Clan values Righteousness over all else, abd are generally more than willing to sacrifice themselves to ensure the right thing is done. They know that the Heavens become angry when samurai govern unjustly. When gaining Honor from actions in line with Righteousness, they gain double the normal amount. However, they know that some truths must never be revealed, and that some mysteries are not meant even for other clans, so they hold a somewhat selective view on Sincerity. When gaining or losing Honor from actions in line with or against Sincerity, they gain or lose half the normal amount.

Scorpion Clan: +1 Air, +1 Skulduggery. Base 35 Status. The follows of the Kami Bayushi follow a dark path, watching the Empire for threats from within rather than enemies without. The Code of Bushido, they know, tie the hands of the Crane and Lion - so they, the Emperor's Underhand, can reach the places others cannot. To combat liars, thieves and traitors, they would lie, cheat and steal, wielding blackmail, sabotage, even poison - dirtying their own hands, that others might be pure. However, despite their reputation, there are no samurai more loyal than Scorpions. Trust is hard-earned among them, and once given, they never break it. Betrayal is punished quickly, and the souls of traitors are bound forever in horrific limbo in the Traitor's Grove. This fierce loyalty, however, is only small consolation given the danger of their jobs ever since Bayushi's single vow: I will be your villain, Hantei. They are united by their solemn vow to preserve life with murder and to let others be honorable by staining themselves. Most Scorpions find one ideal they can uphold or one personal bond that can keep them sane and human, though some just vanish into their masks and become the horrible villains others see them as. All Scorpion Clan characters have:
  • General awareness of politics in Scorpion lands and the ability to name major family heads and other Scorpion leaders, along with their general political positions and allegiances.
  • Knowledge of the general state of political affairs between all clans.
  • Awareness of the most substantial criminal cartels in the Empire, particularly where their interests overlap with or conflict with the Scorpion Clan.
  • Knowledge of the general state of the court in the Imperial Capital.
The Scorpion Clan values Duty over all else. It is the only excuse they have - and so they must be prepared to do and to sacrifice anything and everything in service to the Empire. When gaining Honor from actions in line with Duty, they gain double the normal amount. However, their actions require them, often, to lie and to cheat and to break with Bushido. When gaining or losing Honor from actions in line with or against Righteousness or Honor, they gain or lose half the normal amount. (Again, the virtue Honor.)

Unicorn Clan: +1 Water, +1 Survival. Base 30 Status. A thousand years ago, the Ki-Rin Clan left Rokugan to find enemies beyond its borders. It was a dangerous journey, and it changed the clan utterly, from their combat to their magic to their philosophy. To survive, they adapted. Now, they have returned - the Clan of the Wind, still, but not the Unicorn. They still revere the Kami Shinjo, but are very different than most of the Empire. They value new things and flexibility in a way others don't. They tend to be very receptive to new ideas and cultural elements without fearing loss of their own culture, which they have somehow preserved consistently over centuries of travel. They are ambitious, however, and the more aggressive members of the clan often push out those who are lacking in drive. All Unicorn Clan characters have:
  • General awareness of politics in Unicorn lands and the ability to name major family heads and other Unicorn leaders, along with their general political positions and allegiances.
  • Knowledge of many basic facts of life in foreign lands, especially the Burning Sands and Ivory Kingdoms, even if they haven't been there themselves.
  • Knowledge of at least some words in numerous foreign languages, such as Mekhem, Ivindi, Banatu and Portuga, and possible fluency in one of these or an even stranger tongue.
  • Knowledge of the basics of mounted combat tactics and the proper handling and care of horses.
The Unicorn Clan values Compassion over all else, because mutual understanding and cooperation were key to the clan's survival in its long trek. On this trek, they met many people form many cultures, and became much better at coexisting with them than most samurai. When gaining Honor from actions in line with Compassion, they gain double the normal amount. However, they still haven't really acclimated to the Empire, even after two centuries. They have refused to change in eight centuries of travel - and so they again refuse to change for Rokugan. Their grasp on court protocol and the traditions of Courtesy, as a result, are somewhat lacking, much to the chagrin of other clans. When gaining or losing Honor from actions in line with or against Courtesy, they gain or lose half the normal amount.

Next time: More chargen

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 23:59 on Oct 8, 2017

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