Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Persona


While I feel the Shosuro Actor is a good school, as with anything in life, there are some area’s that I feel it could be improved upon. Or things I would have done differently. Nothing major mind you just some personal taste that I think makes more sense to me.

First things first, breaking the persona. Now I’m of the opinion that doing such should be a hard task. It is after all a technique here that we’re talking about, not a mere use of the Acting skill. Thus I do agree with the side bar on Dealing With Shosuro Actors in a Game, with one minor exception.

In my opinion the strength of a Shosuro Actor isn’t so much in his acting as is it’s his knowledge of the clan in question. For me no amount of acting is going to help you preserve your persona if you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. The book calls for two rolls in certain situations for covering up a mistake. The first roll is for when you say something wrong and you are attempting to ally fears, thus a Sincerity (Deceit)/ Awareness roll vs Investigation (Interrogation)/ Perception works. And if you’re displaying skills or attempting to “fake” it Acting/Awareness vs Investigation (Notice)/ Perception is called for.

But sometimes the character clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Or simply forgets to do something that anyone from that clan would otherwise know to do. In these situations I recommend a Lore (Appropriate Clan)/ Intelligence roll vs Investigation (Notice)/ Perception. The reason for this is that ultimately you have to know something about the clan you’re attempting to infiltrate.

On the flipside, if you don’t really feel like adding more rolls but feel as I do that you can’t fake your way through something you have no clue about I would recommend limiting the number of dice added from the skill by the characters rank in that particular clans lore. So if you’re pretending to be an Akodo Bushi and you need to cover up for not knowing something about the Hall of Ancestors or faking a ritual you just now learned about you would roll either Sincerity or Acting and limit the dice from those two skills by the Lore skill in question.

Another concern comes in the form of the Persona skills themselves. Now during PT I tested it with the idea that the Persona skills never raised or that you weren’t using the higher of the two (your skills or the persona). In some regards it makes sense. You haven’t really learned all those skills. And of course you don’t want a character who uses his persona’s to become a jack of all trades with free skills.

But it also presents an interesting problem in that Ide Tang obviously was a skilled diplomat and his skills were likely higher than just the basic beginner. So here are a few options.

The first and easiest method is to merely allow the character to use the higher of his persona vs non persona skill. Thus if the persona has a Courtier of 1 and the Actor actually has Courtier 3 then use 3. Another method that one might consider is persona stacking. So instead of gaining a new persona at IR 3 and 5 you stack them onto your current persona and thus raise your phantom skills.

But the method I prefer to use is to simply reduce the TN adjustment for the use of skills that both you and your persona knows. Thus if your persona is a Doji Courtier and you want to use Courtier and your normal roll has it at 4 then I would have them roll and require +5 raise in the TN.

The reason for this is that at the end of the day you kinda have to balance the phantom skills against spending real xp on real skills. I think it would be less difficult to “break character” to do something both you and your persona can do than it is to “break character” to do something only you know how to do. But as I mentioned initially the balance between providing PC's with a jack of all trades character with phantom skills that are better than his real skills vs what the character truly knows is a though one to strike. With this method you maintain that it is in fact hard to "break character" even for something you already know and still encourage the character to learn real skills instead of always relying on phantom skills.

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