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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default A honor system for a eastern campaign

    hi I'm planning on making an eastern campaign and looking for help planning out a system to give my players a sort of goal to be honorable and something that gives them punishment for evil deeds, but I don't want it to be that much of an impact more of a guiding hand to be good with small benefits or disadvantages on a more divine and spiritual level, I'm thinking I wanted to be either based on the level or by points or a mix of both.

    I was also thinking if they reach a certain threshold of evil deeds (if they want to be evil) they will attain some sort of yokai power and they will start to mutate, making them un-legible to be around normal people without consequence, or something like that.

    I ask for your help because I'm bad at balancing and I think this would be a fun in-game thing for the players. I'm open for all help and input.

    Best regards from Plague Snake

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    You may take inspiration from the Honour system of the Legend of Five Rings 5E.
    To sum it up: every character has an Honour rating and a set of tenets roughly inspired to the Bushidō and they gain (or lose) Honour when they uphold (or violate) these tenets. If a character's Honour is high enough she will have a reputation of a trustworthy individual and considered a paragon of one or more tenets; if the character's Honour is too low she will known as dismissive of one or more tenets.

    E.g. a character that upholds the tenet of Compassion will be known as a kind individual that will protect others and will not inflict unnecessary suffering, even to her enemies; a character that instead regularly violates this tenet will be known as cruel and selfish.

    This kind of reputation may help (and hinder) the characters when dealing with others. A peasant may offer help without being prompted to a honourable character while the enemies of a dishonourable character could fight to the death because they would know that they will receive no mercy if they surrender; at the same time the enemies of the honourable character may use her kindness against her while the reputation of the dishonourable character may work in her favour when dealing with certain individuals.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    A few options.

    1) Look at Hackmaster (basic is free!), which has a great honor system, IMO. Your Honor starts at the average of your attributes, plus modifiers for Charisma and Looks. As you level (I prefer doing it per game month, not per level, but YMMV), your honor gets evaluated based on four classes: Adherence to Class (i.e. is your wizard acting like a wizard, or is he spending all his time trying to fight), Adherence to Alignment (are you trying to be Lawful and Good, or Chaotic and Evil, or whatever), Defense of Personal Honor (are you letting people talk badly about you), and general role-playing (are you being a consistent person within the game). This can cause a shift up or down in your honor, which is evaluated into several categories. Dishonorable, and you get a -1/-5% to all skills. Low honor is the default, so no bonus or penalty. Average Honor and you get a free +1/+5% to a single check once per session. Great Honor gives you the free +1/5% once per session, and a free reroll of a single roll each session. Legendary honor and you get the +1/+5%, the free reroll, and the ability to force a reroll of a roll against them, unless the opponent is also of Legendary honor.

    In addition, you can burn some honor to get bonuses and rerolls. Honor might go up or down, depending on other things, too (if an orc beats you unconscious and pees on you, that's gonna be an honor hit).

    2) Another option might be the old Oriental Adventures system... which I actually married to Birthright's Blood Abilities, which would give you a framework for granting magic powers from great honor. 3d10 as the base, with modifiers for certain (random) events in your background, and increasing honor/bloodline strength giving you the opportunity for extra abilities. The Birthright version above doesn't reduce Bloodline Strength for background events, but you might want to for an Honor System... while "Common Bloodline" is fine when you're determining how much deific blood you have in you, it could definitely be a deficit in an honor system.
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2020-09-21 at 12:17 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    Come to think of it, this doesn't even have to be limited to Japan or China-inspired settings, as you can find examples of honor codes throughout history. The work you do for this could also serve for future games, with some adaptation... or, if you post your work here, players who are doing other games.

    If you go with Bunny Commando's idea and have a set of tenets that characters are expected to follow, I would recommend having clans or nations or orders that place different emphasis on them. Like if you had Compassion, Discipline, and Courage as your tenets, then perhaps some of the characters would be from a place that holds Discipline as more important, or Courage. You could even have some of these orders/nations/clans/whatever bring in their own tenets, like a religious order that also wants you to maintain your Purity.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Durazno View Post
    Come to think of it, this doesn't even have to be limited to Japan or China-inspired settings, as you can find examples of honor codes throughout history. The work you do for this could also serve for future games, with some adaptation... or, if you post your work here, players who are doing other games.

    If you go with Bunny Commando's idea and have a set of tenets that characters are expected to follow, I would recommend having clans or nations or orders that place different emphasis on them. Like if you had Compassion, Discipline, and Courage as your tenets, then perhaps some of the characters would be from a place that holds Discipline as more important, or Courage. You could even have some of these orders/nations/clans/whatever bring in their own tenets, like a religious order that also wants you to maintain your Purity.
    The issue is that while we modern folk kind of think of honor as one thing, with maybe a lot of subtle variance between cultures in practice honor can mean radically different things.

    For example for what we can gather from that way Samurai are depicted as acting, not what later authors romanticized them as, a lot of their honor code was based around defending their name, the name of their lord, and in collecting ears off a battlefield or raid. Ears from people they killed of course. Collecting ears from corpses after a battle was considered most dishonorable. But other than that, so long as you got the ears by getting the kill yourselves who you killed didnít seem to matter all that much.

    This resulted in behavior like raiding samurai riding into villages and hacking down people for their ears. Now of course this would be in territory not controlled by their lord. But it was still an incredibly brutal practice. That goes against the ideas we have of honor being about fair play and facing prepared enemies on even terms. Which was more of a European view of honor. At least in theory. It changed a good deal over time, and there are plenty of horror stories on the European side of brutality. It just seems to have been seen more as a necessity of war, and not something that can gain honor in and of itself.

    Which in turn is incredibly different from Norse views of honor, as far as we can reconstruct them. Which seemed far more focused on machismo and keeping of secrets. Frankly a surprising amount of things seemed to be considered if not honorable exactly not precisely dishonorable. Like blatant murder. Perfectly fine, so long as you donít try to lie about it. Of course then the family of the person you murdered might try to murder you. But thatís all well and good. At least at first, this seemed to change over time until murder itself was considered bad. But that seems to have occurred after a point we canít really talk about.

    So it really depends on what you are trying to model.

    If weíre going by vaguely samurai. Then having pillars be about Obedience to your liege. Respect others give your name. Fearlessness/willingness to kill in responding to slights. How much you can kill/collect ears. Demonstration of Etiquette and reverence for beauty and art (though this last one seemed much more a thing for the higher classes).
    Last edited by Dienekes; 2020-09-21 at 08:18 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    I would suggest specifically rejecting the honor system from L5R and from Oriental Adventures. Not only does it have the problem where the honor system is based around a romanticized ideal of samurai chivalry devised by later authors writing about samurai, it's also super duper fiddly. Instead, I suggest the following rules:
    • Whenever someone makes a show of taking honor considerations seriously, give them inspiration for doing so. This isn't the same thing as being honorable - if players decide to do a dishonorable thing but hide it because they don't want people to know their shame, that totally counts. This is basically a specialized version of giving out inspiration for good roleplay.
    • Doing something especially honorable gives you the Honored condition until your next long rest, giving your advantage on all social interactions and on saving throws vs. evil magic, fear and charm effects.
    • Doing something especially dishonorable causes you to either lose the Honored condition if you have it, or take one level of exhaustion if you don't.
    • Players with at least three levels of exhaustion from dishonor roll a 2d4, and if the result is less than their current exhaustion, they reset their exhaustion and acquire a new permanent yokai mutation. Players who have a visible yokai mutation cannot become Honored (they still get the inspiration) and are not permitted to be in polite company because they're awful mutants and also probably criminals.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Breccia's Avatar

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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    I want to add to this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    Whenever someone makes a show of taking honor considerations seriously, give them inspiration for doing so. This isn't the same thing as being honorable - if players decide to do a dishonorable thing but hide it because they don't want people to know their shame, that totally counts. This is basically a specialized version of giving out inspiration for good roleplay.
    Unless your code of conduct is enforced by a magic, such as a cleric's deity or an aligned magic weapon, I don't believe it should have a ton of game effects. Inspiration is typically a reward for good role playing and fits perfectly, but something like "you get +1 AC" would be harder to justify.

    If I were handling an honor system, I'd have each PC have an honor "number" based on deeds done in public (because honor isn't magic). Specific NPCs would change their reactions based on this rating.

    If you want it tied to a psionic power source, like ki, then I recommend making such a class, like a paladin.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    I've sketched out all my notes and posted them on imgur but since I'm a forum newbie I can't post the actual link. Feel free to check them out at imgur.com/gallery/6gme9eX


    I'd suggest an honor sliding scale ranging from -3...-2...-1...0...+1...+2...+3 with your dishonorable score on the left (negatives), and honorable on the right (positives). There are a couple of things we need to know about this scale:
    1. How does the player move along the scale?
    2. What does all those numbers mean?



    1) Moving along the scale.

    There are a couple of ways to have characters gain/lose honor. Obviously it would be through their actions but as a DM we can decide when they move up or down in honor. Here are a couple ideas:

    • At the end of the session. - Evaluate the player and the party's performance. Did they act honorably, or commit vile acts of dishonor? And to what degree? If the players rescue a village from a raiding bandit party, maybe that was pretty honorable, and they all gain +1 to a maximum of +1. Maybe they saved a city instead, and they were the only defenders as its citizens fled for the mountain pass to escape the oni horde. This sounds like a pretty big deal, maybe +1 to a max of +3. Likewise, if they opted to slaughter an orphanage full of promising young minds, BOOM -2 to to everyone.
    • As the character gains a level. - In a similar manner to the previous method, evaluate the characters actions and determine if they acted honorably, dishonorably, or without honor (neutral). Then, award them a change in honor either up or down as necessary. Only 1 step may be given each level. This means a super honorable character can only achieve max honor (+3) at level 4 the earliest, which sounds like a pretty decent character. Of course you can get all creative up in this and change it to any number of step increases per level or limit the maximum level (positive or negative) by the character level. Go nuts.
    • Per action. - As a character completes a substantially dis/honorable action, award them a step change on the honor slider. Make sure the substantial part is clearly communicated. Speaking the truth to your emperor probable wont be worth a step increase but remaining silent through 40 days of intense torture under the direction of a rival shogunate, that takes some serious honor and cojones.


    2) What are those numbers?

    OK, so this scale gives us some sweet sweet modifiers, right out of the gate. Easy solution is just apply these to skill/combat checks. Done. But that's kind of lame, and not to mention really makes the dishonorable track super undesirable (which I don't think should be the case 100% of the time, instead it should just be a land of bad decisions, with some chaos peppered in there). So let's smoosh around that gray matter and see what else we can do:

    -----HONOR-----

    Boon dice! - Think of this like bardic inspiration. The character gets a certain amount of dice that they can use on any skill check.
    Option a) The character gains xd6 where x is equal to their current positive honor rating. Up to one die can be used on any skill or combat check. Boon dice are restored at the end of a long rest. (or x = character level and the die changes with the honor rating, see below).
    Option b) Based upon the positive honor level of the character, the player gains a bonus die that can be added to a skill check (+1 = d4, +2 = d6, +3 = d8). This may be used once per short rest.
    Option c) Same as option b but the boon dice are applied to all damage rolls and are unlimited. An honorable warrior has been forged by their discipline and becomes a true master of their lethal arts.
    Option d) Same as option b, are unlimited, but can only be used when in reference to a 'Feat of Honor'. A feat of honor is an honorable quality of the character, such as social graces or timeless wisdom. These concepts are loose and allow for the player to creatively apply them to a multitude of situations.
    - The inverse of this would be bane dice. Same concept but the DM can force a player to reduce their check result by the die. Still follows the same rules, refreshing on rests or per session.

    DM Inspiration/FATE - Upon earning a positive honor level, the character gains an expendable honor point. This can be used to re-roll any die or prevent the character from dying. The character earns honor points equal to their new honor level. e.g. Yokibo grows in honor from +1 to +2, and gains 2 Honor points which can be spent at any time. *If a character is already at +3 and would gain more honor they do not progress but still earn 3 honor points.

    -----DISHONOR-----

    -1: Gain a Vice - Upon reaching -1 honor, the character is forced to obtain a vice. This is a dangerous addiction for the character and they must give into their temptations as often as possible. Mechanically speaking there are several options for handling this:
    During downtime, the character loses xd20 gp per day for xd6 days indulging in their problematic behaviors.
    Upon starting an adventure/leaving town, the character has squandered away all of their coin reducing their total wealth in their possession to 1d8 gp.
    If the character avoids their vice, they instead suffer 1 permanent level of exhaustion (or -1 to all skill checks if not using exhaustion), until the are able to abuse their addition once more.
    - If a character gains enough honor to return to 0, their vice may be eliminated.

    -2: Minor Mutation - As a character falls to -2 honor, the stench of dishonor begins to follow them. Roll on a minor mutation table for the result. These mutations can be repealed if a character returns to 0 honor.
    - you can build your own mutation table of 10-12 results. They should be unpleasant but not game breaking, such as cosmetic things like pus-filled eyes or a permanent odor of spoiled milk. Also, any numerical penalties caused by these results would be -2. For instance, the horrid stench might make all charisma checks suffer a -2 penalty. Also, put something good in there, a shiny piece of treasure in a field of rotten fruit. e.g. night vision, dishonorable folk often work at night.

    -3: Major Mutation - Once a character dives into the depth of -3 there is little hope for them. Same as -2, but use the major mutation table. These mutations are far more horrific, such as new limbs, deformed body parts, insanity or worse. In rare cases, this character could become fully transformed by the villain of their actions and becomes a monster controlled by the DM.
    - same directions as the minor mutation table but ramp it all up. Maybe the one good option is four controllable tentacles.


    Alright, that should be about it. Its a little lose on details but you can customize everything to fit your setting, or just check out the chaos mutation tables for Warhammer Fantasy RP 2e if you're struggling with those mutation tables. Plenty of gnarly ideas there.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: A honor system for a eastern campaign

    I personally recommend going straight to the source.

    Read Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi to start. Hagakure and Bushido by Tsunetomo Yamamoto are also essential primers on the concept of honor (as it is understood in Japan).
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