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  1. Its about trying to go around all the stances. No one wants a non-duelist to get into water stance safely in the first turn. No one wants someone with high air to be able to hang around in their best stat with a defensive advantage. You really don't want people to corner you and take fire stance, since it contains most the really dangerous techs. Earth doesn't win by default, its a safety net that your opponent can exploit. Catching someone out of Earth isn't an auto-crit, its an opportunity that's challenging to capitalize on in early game. Never mind the fact that a lot of other families don't want to be in earth just for the protection, they want to be there cause it's often tied for best ring. If you can't stay in a ring that keeps three dice, good luck reliably hitting an Air based build with opportunity left over. I really just don't care if Earth sounds pivotal in one situation, because all rings are pivotal in one situation.
  2. meh. I like it. In the case of a very early game duel to first strike - no more than rank one. Say I'm playing someone with no Iai techs and my opponent does, but my good composure is an advantage. I roll initiative in earth stance and my opponent choses earth as well I buy my way up to top initiative cause I know I have the composure advantage, and start by predicting earth. My opponent probly suspects I've predicted earth, because I want that crit, and shifts to air. They might then activate a shuji, try to manage strife to gain a composure lead on me. Next round, I don't want to bid again, because I don't want to lose the strife game. They go first now. They might predict water. I'm faced with a decision now. Did they predict earth, because they're gambling I can't hit AND crit while they're in air, or did they predict water so I can't hit at all? Next round the strife creep is massive. Both of us are going to be close to compromised. This decision is very important to the duels outcome. I find that fun.
  3. I'd probly build a Kakita as Air, Fire, Water. With Earth and Void not forgotten in order to avoid a glairing weakness. I feel dueling is more like ensuring you have several strategies to pull out, so you're never easily predicted. Kakita is an Air/Fire build out the gates, but that's not static. They start with one of the good strategies, an Iai cut and a high Air, TN3 does limit opportunity spending substantially for base beginner characters, but that's their one trick. They need to develop other tricks with xp.
  4. Heartpiercing Strike is the real reason to fear Kakita and Mirumoto, since I believe both are encouraged to buy it. edit: I don't think characters who build to be good at duels should be significantly worse than the "Duelist" schools, but the "Duelist" schools are actively encouraged to buy the things that make them better in duels, and other schools just aren't.
  5. I said previously that strike-strike-strike is a valid option, and probly the way a Hida or Daidoji will want to approach a match - they don't practice Iaido or care about ceremony, why would they wait? Those strikes are gonna generate strife for the Hida/Daidoji though. It's in the interest of a Kakita or Bayushi to play the composure game, don't roll dice - bump your TN or defenses - lock the opponent out of their best rings - use Schemes or Shuji to cause/manage strife - and, specifically for Kakita, score your points for the highest severity crit strike. Mirumoto duelists could go either way. I don't believe one tactic being valid wholly invalidates the other.
  6. I would likely let my players use Iaijutsu techniques with a naginata. I've seen some pretty convincing techs online of naginata masters going from resting state, with naginata on the floor next to them, to killing blow in a swift smooth motion. The katana fencers I've met at my school of arms always refer to Iaido as assassination arts - going from drinking tea to a killing strike in a fast, practiced motion. Youtube has a few naginata kata that emulate that, so I wouldn't deny my players the "razor edge" tag as a qualifier if they raised the question. I need to add: I allow naginata the same stlye "1-hand grip" Bisento has. This grip represents the user having a loose hand mid-half, and the main hand gripping near the pommel so the user can thrust and retract quickly. Narratively this is making an attack that threatens a wider range, but takes less effort for a cautious defender to turn aside due to the limitations on the attackers leverage.
  7. This is all I really needed to know - Rising Cut IS supposed to be used as a finishing blow. The technique now makes sense. I missed that finishing blow was an "Attack Action" and not "As an Attack Action", so I assume rules as intended is that you have a valid Attack Action readied when the trigger happens.
  8. I believe that maneuver is used at least once in a Kurasawa film. Maybe one of the Musashi triology.
  9. I understand how amazingly powerful it is against compromised targets, but you won't often have your weapon sheathed in a skirmish situation. It's only useful if someone starts a combat compromised, as, during duels, your final strike action is better. The only effective usage I could imagine is using water stance to re-sheath your weapon every round after you strike - which would be a funny way to get around snaring weapons.
  10. I think you could fix it solely by allowing the user to spend 2 opportunity to crit with it, making it a very dangerous ability, but one you still have to dance around Earth stance to use. With it, a rank 2 Kakita can pull a 7 deadliness crit out of thin air. Leave Crossing Cut the way it is - good damage and the range boost already pull weight as a decent technique outside duels. With Crossing Cut, its stated that range is supposed to be kinda moot in duels. This leads me to believe that the Iaido techniques were balanced more toward how they can be used outside duels.
  11. It is. A thing does X supernatural or physical "damage". "Damage" is reduced by armor and becomes the amount of fatigue necessary to weather the exchange of blows without leaving a meaningful opening. You're just arguing for the sake of it now.
  12. armor "soaks damage" in that it reduces the fatigue you take from fighting, because you're letting your protection take the blow rather than dodging and manuevering. These are concepts that have been intrinsic to table top gaming since 1st ed DnD, where hit points originally represented the amount of fighting you could handle before being vulnerable to a killing blow. It only got lost when video game rpgs became popular.
  13. For the newbies who may be reading. A Martial Arts check in L5R5 does not represent you swinging a sword to hit somebody, it represents the footwork, positioning, and exchanged blows required to position yourself to strike. The only time a weapon ever contacts a body is during a critical strike.
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