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Honor in Fantasy Hero


Gandalf970
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I am researching feudal Japan in the vain of Legend of the Five Rings type campaign.  I was wondering how Honor would be represented in Fantasy Hero.  Please give me YOUR thoughts and ideas.  I know the interaction skills will be huge.  I expect reputation will be big as well.  Any thoughts you have from a mechanical or anecdotal perspective will be appreciated.

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Hmmmm, off the top of my head, I'd say that: 

 

The final "system" needs to allow at least two categories, People who believe in honor and People who don't.  Any bonuses and benefits the system might give to someone for being a super honorable Samurai wouldn't mean squat to a slimy, non-honorable criminal. In fact it might have the opposite effect on someone like that. Even if the 90% of the entire population of the setting (good and bad people) believe in honor, there should always be some who find the notion silly, stupid or old-fashioned. 

 

As for the actual system, I think an ascending list/chart of bonuses/abilities the person gets the more "honorable" they become is a good way to go. 

 

Reputation, +PRE (only for intimidation/Commanding), Contacts, & Fringe Benefits would all be on the chart. I wouldn't make the chart very long or complex, maybe only 7-8 things in total. Maybe like:

 

Rank 1 : +5 PRE (Only for intimidation/Commanding)

Rank 2 : Right of Shelter

Rank 3 : Reputation (+1/1d6)

Rank 4 : another +5 PRE (Only for intimidation/Commanding)

Rank 5 : Low Justice

Rank 6 : Another rank in Reputation so now (+2/2d6)

Rank 7 : Kirisutogomen 

Rank 8 Another rank in Reputation so now (+3/3d6)

 

Or something like that. Maybe certain skills would be needed to get to the higher ranks. For example you couldn't get Rank 5 (Low Justice) unless character spent some points to get the Skill "PS:Law" or something similar to represent they actually knew the laws of the land.

 

And the Reputation bonuses would actually count as Negative Reputation vs the people/beings who don't believe in honor. 

 

Anyway, that is kind of I think it might go off the top of my head. 

 

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I think there are two different concepts of honor, and we frequently confuse them.

 

Japanese honor is not chivalry.  It's not a matter of following your own internal code and being true to your ideals.  In the Japanese samurai context, honor is reputation.  It's respect.  An honorable warrior is one who people give honors to.  He might be an utter dirtbag in real life, but people perceive him as being great.  He keeps up a good appearance.

 

Personal honor in a modern western context is different.  That's more strength of character kind of thing.  It's the sort of honor you get in a hyper-individualistic society like America, as opposed to the more group-oriented societies of Asia.

 

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I would model it on the Perk: Fringe Benefit.  For a point or two you can be you can have a professional standing or knighthood.  At 10 points you can be head of state.  You have something similar for honor, where levels could be rigorously defined or just a general guide for relative amounts of honor.  Characters might earn honor points by performing heroic feats or lose them by acting like scoundrels.

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If you can do a play through of Ghosts of Tsushima they do a great job of integrating Honor in their campaign / game.

 

The way you solve your missions influences how people react to you and even random NPC comments as you walk through refugee camps, reclaimed villages, etc.

 

You get feedback from your Uncle and other major NPCs and they do NOT make it easy to stay honorable.

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The following is written on the assumption that the reader is only vaguely familiar with Legend of the Five Rings (L5R.)

 

I've drawn up a whole bunch of house rules with the intent of modelling L5R.

 

For the actual honour system I've just stolen the one from L5R. That is, a character's honour is measured as a value from 0 - 5; and it goes up or down according to character actions. I decided to divorce it from the points buy/XP systems because I want honour scores to be  a direct consequence of game play. I did this because I want to avoid the situation in which a character does all sorts of dishonourable things through an adventure then, when it's over, the player going and spending XP to buy up the PC's honour. 

 

In L5R honour is essential for certain school techniques (read: powers.) In order to model that I've gone with a power limitation along the lines of "Does extra DC equal to honour score." (sorry, don't have my notes handy so I can't say exactly how I worded it or what value I gave it as a limitation.)

 

I also used a separate glory system, again just stealing it from L5R, and have "Does extra DC equal to glory score" limitation for use with those school techniques that rely on a character's glory.

 

The starting value for both honour and glory is 2. That is, 2 represents the norm that samurai are expected to have.

 

Both honour and glory have an effect on social skills. I've used a modifier of:  <Score> - 2. So the modifier for most new characters is 0. Rather than list specific situations where each can be used I've simply said the modifiers have effect in situations in which glory and/or honour would be a consideration. In theory honour and glory could both be modifiers to the same skill check.

 

In terms of game mechanical effects honour and glory are intended to give very similar benefits. Where they differ is the in-game actions that modify them up and down. Reading Massey's post above I am reminded why having these stats as 2 separate things is problematic.

 

I'm also using a VOID characteristic. This is basically like, for example, STUN. Like stun it goes up and down during game play. Unlike stun the player actively spends it to power certain school and general techniques, like charges.* I'm valuing it at 10 points/void. Everyone starts with 1 point of void. It can be bought with limitations such as "Only for duels," "Only for skirmish," "Only for school techniques."

 

*Initially I tried modelling void as charges. I opted against it for 2 reasons: in order to get it to do what I wanted the build got very messy very fast; and the cost of buying lots of charges is relatively low whereas in L5R void scores in excess of 4-5 are pretty rare.

 

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