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Kakita Toshiki

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  1. Summarized feedback on the 20 Questions: They work better in a group than individually for both social and story reasons. Socially it is more interesting to interact with one another and talk through the characters as they emerge; storywise it is easier to overcome the "and now we are posted to different activities throughout Rokugan" problem embedded in the setting. The focus on negative character aspects is disorienting for some players. This is easily summarized by a comment from the first edition of the Amber game, something like "You are going to be playing this character for a while, and you should look good doing it". Players who are interested in the psychological tensions of their characters were already engaged in this design behavior to some extent; those who are looking to create fantasy heroes struggle. It is also unclear where FFG intends these characters to start on the hero's journey. A little creative interpretation can get a character just at the start, somewhere in the middle, or even close to the end. This is not a mechanical point, but rather a story-arc one...and one which has some implications on the 2-3 year game cycles my group is used to and may not impact other, more truncated, play approaches.
  2. An interesting idea, and somewhat close to the original (1st Edition RPG) Focus - Strike mechanic. Not impossible within this structure. Ah, my apologies for being unclear. "Broken up" as in "to separate into parts" not "to mechanically bork". In terms of whether there is an Iaijutsu skill or some other way to embody Iaido through a design mechanism...I leave that to the people who understand this design better than I. I merely ask questions. Again, my apologies. I appear to have, yet again, been unclear in my intent. Let me see if I can clarify. As described in the original post, there is no such thing as an "Iaijutsu" duel beyond a persistent misunderstanding. There is a kenjutsu duel to which one applies a doctrine one might call "Iaido", which argues that one should apply both prediction/interception and sudden force projection. The result of this would be similar to what we have duplicated in the past with an Iaijutsu Duel mechanic. The end result is something similar to what you describe, just with a bigger space to work in.
  3. Ahhh, your analysis is excellent, but here is the point where you and I come to a disagreement. The disagreement, however, is not mechanically but doctrinal, or rather in the way in which the game system limits the application of doctrines beyond what we might term the doctrine of "cutting" - that is, making oneself less than one is or making the opponent less of what he is to achieve the goal. This is an improvement over L5R 4th edition, where we had to infer doctrine. It is inferior (from a different point of view) to a mechanic which can support multiple doctrines (Iaido, Diamond and Jade, The Path of Resistance, The Way of the Wind, etc.) These are doctrines which, unfortunately, have to be inferred at this point - my poor effort above aside. I might spend some time on that, but such an effort would take this conversation even further afield. Now, one might imagine ways in which we could adapt the current structure to allow for multiple doctrines. There is some flexibility built into the Rings by design, and that could be further expanded. Your comment about the Shuji is interesting and suggests a direction, though design space there seems heavily packed. Perhaps an unpacking is in order?
  4. Not entirely sure I agree with your assessment re: dice pool; the accumulation of strife on your side as you take actions is as central to your play as the strife you build in the opponent. That's a matter of balance, however, and I haven't either a) played enough or b) taken the time to build a sufficiently sophisticated simulator to come to a conclusion there. To your second point, (In your opinion) is that a feature of the design, a challenge of the beta, or a result of the system being new? On a less theoretical level, I'm not yet convinced about the build up of strife as the central dueling mechanic. That's a separate issue from points one and two above, potentially resolved through the changes applied to the strife/unmasking mechanic. I'd rather see an opportunity-based mechanic thematically, but haven't yet come up with a good implementation. Thus, writing about doctrine as a place to start.
  5. To your second point - I agree in part, but due to a separate design decision (the camera focus on the dice pool) the effect seems somewhat blunted in terms of its actual play impact. Changing camera focus at this late date would be more than challenging; it would be catastrophic to FFGs design and I therefore do not recommend it. However, in the spirit of the discussion, there might be a way to exploit the camera focus to better realize the interplay in play. I'm not that clever myself, but I'm sure someone else can come up with approaches that might work.
  6. Hello Everyone! After reading through the forums, I don't see a good spot to put doctrine discussions. So...I'll put this here and move it/remove it if requested to do so. Of Iaijutsu Let me start off by saying that I'm going to talk about a problem with Iaijutsu reaching back to before the 1st Edition RPG came out. Also, I'm going to source in some of my own training in Iai, Chinese philosophy, and martial arts. I will (eventually) get around to the current iteration of Iaijutsu, but that will be a bit further down. In the 1st Edition fiction, there is an implicit understanding of the variance between Iaido (the way of being present, a doctrine which is extended into a strategic understanding of kenjutsu by Kakita) and Iaijutsu (the specific techniques of kenjutsu aligned by Kakita into waza which he executed in response to emerging operational requirements - in this case, winning sword-fights). His answers to Lady Doji's questions (for example) demonstrate the way of being present in action in other fields. As does Lady Doji's discussions with Shinsei, but let's set that aside for now. In the mechanics of 1st Edition, Iaijutsu is a distinct skill from Kenjustu, rather than either someone's individual style (as expressed perhaps through a combination of Advantages and Techniques) or as a set of tactical implementations of doctrine (mechanically a technique). This was done for a couple of reasons - some obvious (having a separate dueling mechanic) some less so (the need to explain why Crane cards had high Chi and low Force). Both were solvable in different ways... Anyway. From here things get dicey, mostly because we take this design decision and embrace it for the next twenty years as an involute separation. One which, oddly enough, actually cripples multiple Clans along the way. Iaido: The Way of Being Present The Way of Being Present is, first and foremost, the idea that one lives in the here and now, to the absolute fullest, with every moment being the summation of a life well lived. It is embodied to some extent in the code of Bushido, and expressed clearly in the quote on Toshimoko's card "For the coward there is no life, for the hero there is no death." Stated as such, it is clear that Iaido is the precursor to Iaijutsu (techniques of being present in a sword fight). One could learn to fight with a sword (kenjutsu) or a spear (sojutsu) and apply the idea of Iai to that skill. One could apply other ideas - the Principal of Resistance, Mobility, Spatial Control....the list isn't exactly endless, but it's deep enough. Iaido as Doctrine So, what then makes Iaido unique as a doctrine? I would argue for the following, though other interpretations are clearly possible and discussed endlessly.. To be present in the now - is to be empty of preconceptions, aware of the possibilities stretching forth from it, and select the desired outcome The summary of a life - everything is brought forth, nothing held back or in reserve. The commitment to the moment is absolute, for it is only in THIS moment that one can act. Doctrine is not directly translated into strategy, tactics, or operations but influences the space from which the practitioner develops and selects responses. In the case of L5R, one might imagine any number of new options using the L5R beta framework. Iai and Dueling Lady Doji defeated Shiba in the Tournament of Heavens. Kakita defeated everyone (including Matsu, shamefully due to her disrespect for her opponents) in the first Tournament of the Emerald Champion. Obviously, the doctrine of Iaido brings with it (in L5R verse) some advantage in the world of dueling. The advantage could be strategic, tactical, or operational - that is, related to one's control of the engagement, one's preparations and prepared responses to the engagement, or one's ability to exploit how the engagement emerges. As described, I would argue that Iaido brings both strategic and operational advantages: The strategic ability to predict and intercept actions at their emergence (empty of preconceptions, aware of the possibilities, and select the desired outcome) The operational ability to project sudden force in an attempt to overwhelm to opponent (nothing held back) The second would have to be tempered by the realities of the specific techniques being employed - physics is still a thing, even in the world of Rokugan. Or is it? To what extent do we allow the spirit of a mortal man to overcome fate and physics, to perform a heroic moment and pay the price afterwards? That's a design decision, I suppose, and not suited to this conversation. Meanwhile, the first point brings us to the question of speed. Was Kakita faster than the others? Or was he just able to predict their movement before they began and strike AS they started their movement? Iaijutsu and Fighting: The Techniques of Being Present (in a sword fight) What we think of as the Kakita style (Iaijutsu) is a translation of Iaido into kenjutsu, which was then bound into patterned responses (waza) which could be practiced by others. These would have to be adapted to the physical realities of the individual practitioners (their height, speed, emotional control, situational awareness, etc.). It may have become rigid over the years (as suggested in some fiction). However, here we encounter our first chance to talk about rules. If, in 1st Edition, we had considered the Force of a card to represent it's battlefield presence and it's Chi to represent its personal combat ability, we may have come to a different understanding of Iaijutsu mechanically. In a combat, using the doctrine as described, we might imagine an iaijutsu practitioner moving in fits and starts, pausing to assess then shifting and striking where the opponent will be, not where they are. An outside observer might not notice much difference in speed between the participants, but for his opponents the practitioner seems to be moving at blinding speed. Iaijutsu and Dueling Here we run into an interesting intersection of doctrine and real life. If part of the Iaido doctrine is to select the desired outcome (point 1, part 3) then, between two warriors of equal skill, the two will face each other and play out the conflict over and over again in their minds, looking for a moment of weakness. Only when one appears will one or the other move to strike a decisive blow. Side note: You see this play out in the fiction with the duel between Kakita and Mirumoto's son. You can also see a great example of the interplay in the movie "The Swordmaster", available on Netflix. However, the limit to this is the practitioner's practical knowledge of the specific skill in question. If I don't know how to use a sword, I will have a great deal of trouble predicting how a swordsman will move. If I don't know poetic form, then I will not be able to recognize and intercept my opponent's offerings. The limit of one's Iaido is the limit of one's breath and depth of knowledge. Similarly, an opponent of superior skill will be able to create options and opportunities the practitioner cannot understand until too late. Finally, Mechanical Comments! So, what does this have to do with anything? Not much, I'm just typing away at some thoughts. OKAY, not entirely true. I would argue for two things: 1) Iaijutsu can easily be broken up (as FFG is doing now) into multiple pieces. I would argue that these should reflect Iaido, and be limited by the skill the character channels the piece through rather than specific to dueling 2) Duels are more interactive now (which is good) but lack the mental interplay one sees (and feels) at higher levels of conflict. Watch a judo grandmaster's match, or two older practitioners circling one another, watching, waiting, then finally one moves. The "techniques" they use are not that different from what any student does, but their timing and positioning is...something else entirely. In some ways, a duel is a battle of wills in which both parties seek to open and hold on to opportunities long enough to exploit them. That idea may be worth exploring in greater detail mechanically, given the options available in the dice mechanics.
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