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Can an Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game player character with the Razor playbook be taken out by conditions while any of their conditions is crossed off?

The rule for being taken out by conditions is (core book, p. 101, emphasis mine):

If you’ve already marked all five conditions and you must mark another, you’re taken out.

The Razor playbook’s Honed feature reads (Wan Shi Tong’s Adventure Guide, p. 66, emphasis mine):

When you sublimate your feelings to be effective, clear conditions equal to one plus your Control and cross off one unmarked condition—you can no longer mark that condition for any reason […] treat it as if it doesn’t exist. If something specifically inflicts that condition upon you, the GM selects a different appropriate condition to inflict.

If you treat a crossed off condition “as if it doesn’t exist,” then you effectively have fewer than five conditions. So while “all” of your conditions can be marked, “all five” cannot. Therefore, “if you’ve already marked all [four or fewer] conditions and you must mark another,” are you taken out?

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Yes, a Razor with crossed off conditions can still be taken out by conditions. If the Razor is forced to mark a condition and can’t mark any—because each of their conditions is either crossed off or already marked—then they are taken out as normal. This answer infers RAI from the text of the game in two ways.

Some playbooks are more powerful than others—but not that powerful.

Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game is a fiction-first system that cares more about pushing the narrative forward than about players “winning” combat. So it’s not a problem if some playbooks are more powerful than others, and in fact, two such playbooks already exist: the Prodigy (core book, p. 195) and the Elder (WSTAG, p. 57) both start play with a major leg up in combat.

However, even by the standards of these two playbooks, immunity to being taken out by conditions is extremely powerful. In effect, it makes you nearly immune to attacks that don’t specifically target your balance track, which is most attacks. (“Nearly” because suffering enough fatigue will at least prevent you from paying fatigue as a cost.) There’s no clear fictional reason why the Razor should be exceptionally more powerful than even the Prodigy, who “not only excels at their training, but has taken it even beyond their masters’ teachings” (core book, p. 195).

It doesn’t make sense for Honed to be all-upside.

The Honed ability gives the Razor the option to restore crossed off conditions (WSTAG, p. 66):

When you shift your center toward Connection, you may restore all crossed off conditions […] they are available for use again, and they start unmarked.

But if crossing off conditions means you can never be taken out, then there’s no reason to restore them. By leaving them crossed off, you can ignore condition penalties and never be taken out. Neither is there a pressing in-fiction reason to restore your conditions: your character can still feel afraid, angry, guilty, insecure, or troubled even if they don’t have the associated conditions marked (core book, p. 101). Why, then, would the game give you the option to choose something that’s all downside?

If you can still be taken out, however, then the choice becomes interesting: leaving your conditions crossed off allows you to avoid suffering penalties from specific conditions, but also makes you easier to take out. Since the game gives you a choice between keeping your conditions crossed off and restoring them, that choice is probably supposed to have a non-obvious answer, which is only the case if a Razor with crossed off conditions can be taken out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For what it's worth, "must mark a condition and cannot" will also take out any NPC you'd care to name, no matter how many conditions they have. (corebook p. 238) \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Dec 17, 2022 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd also point out that crossing out a a Condition is a form of 'marking' it (although I know this is far more pedantic than this style of RPG is intended to be) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2022 at 22:49

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