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There are several places in the L5R rules where absolute values are meant to be interpreted as relative bonuses/penalties.

Eg. The price advantages and disadvantages are modified if a character meets certain requirements and these discounts are written as static values. Take the Crab Hands Advantages (3xp).

Crab and bushi characters may purchase this Advantage for 2 points.

The sidebar on P.149 and official clarification says that discounts for advantages are cumulative. The discounts cannot be cumulative as written but it's clear that the intended reading is that the price is modified by -1xp for Crab and/or Bushi characters.

Should this logic be extended to other mechanics written this way?

The Moonless Rider Technique states

[When in the dark] you gain a bonus of +2k1 instead of +1k1 when you spend a Void Point [on certain Skills]

There is similar language on the Daredevil Advantage

Void Points [on Athletics] gain a bonus of +3k1 to the total of the roll instead of the normal +1k1.

These two effects wouldn't stack as written but I'm not sure if the intended meaning isn't supposed to be "VP are worth an extra +1k0 on [certain rolls] made in the dark" and "VP are worth and extra +2k0 on Athletics" respectively and would thus stack in certain cases.

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Note: I'm basing this on experience with L5R 2E and 3E ... I'm looking at a 4E corebook, but have only run 2e & 3e...

Everything I've ever seen implies strongly, "Yes, everything stacks."

The exception being the 10 dice rule... (page 77 of 4e)
— Anything which would result in more than 10 dice rolled converts two extra rolled to 1 extra kept.
— Anything which would result in more than 10 dice kept converts to plus 2 per die over 10.

Page 78 notes that various effects can reduce rings. Its wording implies stacking of that penalty.

Note that overlapping penalties are implied in the sidebar on page 89, as well.

There was a clarification on how dice pools are assembled at one point. All the bonuses are applied first, then all the penalties reduce, then the 10-die rule is applied.

Note also: the big exception to stacking is the careful wording on second attack techniques. The dev team for 4E is very careful to word these so that they don't stack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Effects that reduce rings and most bonuses to rolls are already written as relative values though. There is no reason that they shouldn't stack from the way that they are written. You make a good point about the developers being careful about their wording but I'm not sure which point that supports... It's not explicitly stated that they don't stack but they also could have easily could have written it otherwise. \$\endgroup\$
    – Saelvarath
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 14:23

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