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 Post subject: Tension!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:47 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2016 2:58 am
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Tension! is a meta-mechanic which represents the development of relations between the Imperial Explorers and the Denizens of Kameyama Jima. For the purpose of this mechanics, the latter group, while diverse, is considered close-knit enough when compared to the ties of each of the groups with the Explorers, and to play divide and rule with them may be beyond the scope of this game (but perhaps not beyond the scope of post-game downtime goals).

The purpose of this mechanics is manifold:
  • To give players a plethora of options to involve themselves in small individual projects that tap into their particular skillset and yield small rewards
  • To provide a dynamic, player-dependent factor to the time progression, allowing for adjustment of course and mobilising like-minded people for a preferred outcome
  • To let the players have a defined mechanics of how their actions shape the environment
  • To give them incentives and opportunities to enmesh in the setting and seek interesting and novel chances of role-playing
  • To give GMs a set of ready opportunities to provide special encounters to players, introducing NPCs, locations and mini-events in the logic of side-quests and sub-plots
  • To fulfil the premise of the game of presenting of culture clash between the East and the West met halfway in both physical and abstract terms
  • To give the power to decide on some key aspects of the future of the setting to the players, as how the Tension! mechanics is resolved will determine to a great extent the future relations of Rokugan with Western powers, mostly Merenae and the Tarkhanate.

Each player has a chance to ease or escalate Tension!, thereby driving the relations toward either mutual accommodation and fostering dialogue and common interest, or toward hostility because of attempts to meddle or assert supremacy via coercive means. Tension! is a single score represented by a composite number of all the results of easing and escalating undertaken during a given session by the players. There are also other factors that can influence Tension! score, like events, fleet actions, random encouters or even casual role-playing, though conscious, strategic effort of players will be the central part of it.

The decision whether to ease or to escalate is personal, not factional. It will be frowned upon if players are coaxed this or that way. It ought not to evolve into PvP either. Displeasure with others' choices may be a part of your role-playing, but do not turn it into agendas targeting the players. This is a big moral choice of this era, how to deal with the foreign, and every approach brings about it's own story. Mind you, IC consequences for going against interests of superiors or stakeholders are significant, but this is the risk you're either prepared for as a player, or have an idea how your character could get away with.

Tension! will affect daily interactions between both sides in many ways. The gaijin will be watching the Explorers closely and will be adjusting their own attitudes accordingly. Prices, the willingness to provide certain goods, services or information, to engage in common action, the propensity to take advantage of etc. will be influenced by current levels of Tension! However, the greater the negative tension, the more justified unilateral approach and use of force will be for the leadership of the Imperial Explorers. At the extreme, negative Tension! will be making violent incidents more likely and ultimately lead to war against the islanders.



  • You influence Tension! by rolling for one of the options listed below. TN of each roll is 15. In the Orokos box for the rolls you have to state clearly whether you ease or escalate.
  • Basic success is worth 1 point. Every 2 Raises are worth another point. For easing, the result is marked as positive. For escalating - negative. Failure brings no effect. E.g. a score of -0.2 is a move toward escalation accomplished by a successful roll of one of the options with 2 raises.
  • Usually you can hide your involvement by calling 1 Raise on a roll for that purpose. Bayushi Courtier Rank 1 Technique counts for that purpose. Not all types of actions allow for it though.
  • You can make a number of Tension! rolls per session equal to your Water Ring as it best represents your ability to move around, spot opportunities and make an impact.
  • All Tension! rolls should be put in a separate thread in your PF and denote what was being done, where and when. One of them per session can be turned into an on-screen thread that may evolve into a scene/encounter with GM attention. In other words, Tension! is your way to create more role-playing opportunities involving GMs that bring your interaction with the social environment of the game to the fore. The option you select has great impact on how this scene could turn out. For instance, if you choose an escalating roll that involves weapons it may turn into combat.
  • Rolling Tension! is not mandatory. If you want to skip this dynamics entirely, you can, though its results will still affect you. However, there are some small rewards associated with engaging in it. All your Tension! rolls give you the number of VIP and Points of Reputation (easing) or Notoriety (escalating) equal to their score, effective immediately. If you're hiding your actions, no Notoriety or Reputation is gained, but VIPs are acquired as above.
  • Magic is allowed, but it's manifestations estrange superstitious populations - TN of Tension! rolls is increased by 5.
  • Denizens of Kameyama Jima may participate in the mechanics as normal, with that caveat that while they earn Tension! score, VIP, Reputation or Infamy as normal, the wider impact of their actions is blamed on the Explorers because the local communities are keen on seeing their actions as provoked, legitimate or justified even if they are displeased with the results.



  • Imperial Vigilantism or Protect & Serve? Penetrating the haphazard world of foreign crime requires primarily patience, perseverance and stubbornness as many barriers of access are in place, and unflinching will in facing offenders. Roll: Willpower, with Lore Underworld, Lore: Law, Investigation, Weapon Skill or Jiujutsu. Easing means addressing issues local in communities want solved, while escalating means regaling Imperial authority and brutalising population over petty crimes. Lack of knowledge of Merenaese/Mekhem (depending on audience) increases the TN by 5. For the purpose of Techniques and other mechanics this is considered a Combat Roll. Whether good or bad intentions, interference is not appreciated by the local law enforcement, whether this be the militias of either Port or the Mamluks. Unless anonymity raise is called, pursuing this option attracts unfavourable attention of a stakeholder. If this is conducted as part of Policing fleet action FR is awarded to the roll, but it cannot be hidden - it represents a hunt on scavengers, smugglers and pirates. If this is conducted as a part of Blockade, it will only lead to escalation, but awards 2FR to the roll.
  • Kulturkampf or Dialogue of Cultures? Manoeuvring the world of cultural sensitivities requires intuition, empathy and good social instincts... if you want to reach to the audience rather than to offend. If you want to offend, it requires cunning and understanding what to ridicule and to assert cultural superiority and manipulate public emotions. Roll: Awareness (to ease) or Intelligence (to offend), with Courtier, Etiquette, a Perform or an Artisan Skill, Lore: Linguistics, Lore: Values or Lore: Gaijin Cultures. Lack of knowledge of Merenaese/Mekhem (depending on audience) increases the TN by 5 unless the result has nothing to do with verbal communication (e.g. instrumental music, painting etc.), but an emphasis in relevant language provides a Free Raise. For the purpose of Techniques and other mechanics this is considered a Social Roll. Attempts at cultural dialogue may draw positive attention of benefactors of art and those curious about your homeland, but envy of local artistic communities and societe. Imposing cultural superiority may cause some awe, but more likely will be seen as supreme arrogance - nobody likes to be told that their identity sucks.
  • Pioneers or Colonisers? How do you treat the land, the sea and the bounties they provide? Are they for you to grab as your own and do with it as you please, or do you mean to share the benefits of your efforts with those who've been living here before you? Either way, you need physical fortitude to carry on with your explorations and foraging, to brave unfamiliar climate, various health risks plantlife and wildlife pose, challenging terrain, and sustain the sheer amount of effort that wears you out... or you're good enough to seize inroads and evade most of the difficulties coming your way when you go into the wild. Roll: Stamina or Reflexes, with a Weapon Skill, Jiujutsu, Hunting, Sailing, Craft: Cartography, Lore: Nature, Craft: Fishing, Craft: Mining, Medicine, Engineering, Stealth, Craft: Explosives, Animal Handling. If this is done as a part of Exploration fleet action (so only toward sea environs), it grants a FR to the roll. A raise can be called to hide your activities from public eye. Please note that the assumed environment has to be appropriate for you actions e.g. using Craft: Explosives will probably involve extracting saltpeter from guano at a place where birds leave it.
  • Proselytising or Religious Tolerance? Are you here to make the heathens aware of the errors of their ways, to show them their (low) place before the true divinity, to demonstrate the terrific power your gods grant you? Are are you actually curious about their beliefs and the sources of their magic enough to initiate a dialogue on the great theological questions of this world, to seek ecumencial ground and a solution to your woes in foreign arcane practices? Roll Intelligence or Willpower with Lore: Theology, Lore: Values, Lore: Architecture, Spellcraft, Divination, Engineering, Perform: Song, Storytelling or Oratory, Artisan: Poetry, Painting or Sculpting. Alternatively, you can make a Spellcasting Roll in which each Called Raise (understood as flashiness of magical display) above the kami scarcity penalty counts as two for the purpose of Tension! All rolls in this category for the purpose of the social penalty (TN +5) count as Magic. You cannot call a Raise to conceal religious activities. Lack of knowledge of Merenaese/Mekhem (depending on audience) increases the TN by 5 unless the result has nothing to do with verbal communication (e.g. producing a magical effect, erecting a shrine etc.). The delicate balance in the island's religious landscape hinges on religious tolerance, so if you wade in with zealotry of whatever brand you are likely to offend key religious leaders in the first place, soon followed by the worshippers of Kharsis or the Lost Daughter. It is again crucial to figure out circumstances in which your roll would fit. For instance, to ease Tension! by fostering religious tolerance you could help Padre Alvaro with frescoes (Artisan: Painting) in his church.
  • Entering the Game or Seizing the Spoils? On an island that is a vibrant economic hub where ties of production and commerce are neatly interwoven, streamlined and divided into spheres of influence, it is difficult for a new player to gain position. Will you respect the rules, how the turf is divided and work with the stakeholders, or will you try to subvert the economic system for a shot of greater gains? Either way, you need to be constantly on alert for opportunities in production, services, shipping or retail before someone else claims them - this pool is full of sharks. Roll: Perception or Agility, with Commerce, Sailing, Athletics, Horsemanship, or any Craft. For the purpose of Techniques and other mechanics these are considered Merchant rolls. If this is conducted as part of Trade fleet action FR is awarded to the roll, but it cannot be hidden - it represents using the vessels to acquire an advantage. If this is conducted as a part of Piracy action, it will only lead to escalation, but award 2FR to the roll. For every successful Raise on a roll meant to escalate Tension! your gains rise by 10%. From a setting perspective, cutthroat tactics are unlikely to end with impunity as it is very powerful people from La Plaza de Contratacion you draw ire of by endangering their coffers. Acts of piracy in particular are dealt with brutal consequentiality.
  • War and Peace. So far a fragile peace holds... This section will be filled if a military confrontation erupts between the Explorers and the Denizens. War. War never changes... its unpredictability.

Head GM ✿ Floating Lotus ✿ Gunslinger ✿ Merciful ✿ Experienced 2
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