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Bayushi Tsubaki

Which "sacred cows" are you hoping get abandoned?

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1 hour ago, Fumo said:

In fact that's probably another sacred cow I'd like to see butchered. Clans/families as monolithic entities where everyone thinks the same thing and acts the same way (roughly).

100% agree with this.  I want to see samurai jockeying for position within their own Clan or family, as well as their place in the Empire.

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1 hour ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

As long as deck construction doesn't directly get imported into the setting and fiction (like it was in ye olde days), then sure. :)

But let's remember that most of the truly competitive players over the years haven't cared one whit about story and would corrupt in a heartbeat if it meant winning the round. I'd rather not spread that much corruption around just for wins. xD

Making players cautious that tainted decks winning tournaments can cause an unfavorable outcome to tournament rewards is a good thing.  It gives a sort of social meta to the game where players may forgo the "strongest deck" to win with the "correct deck."  I like this, but there is also the reality that some gamers just want to win the game in front of them and don't care about which clan they are playing as...  For this I would just suggest the cards be appropriately punishing in their own way.  Make it so that using any tainted cards can put you on a timer where you can't last beyond a point...  The lower point of honor loss seems like a good threat - as an example if tainted cards all reduced honor each turn even if they are in your discard pile or some other constant threat that labels a tainted deck as "Just defend against me, and I'll lose in time."  The model should be front loaded power with a higher cost over time, and especially making the cost inescapable is key.

Edited by shosuko

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17 minutes ago, shosuko said:

For this I would just suggest the cards be appropriately punishing in their own way.  Make it so that using any tainted cards can put you on a timer where you can't last beyond a point...  The lower point of honor loss seems like a good threat - as an example if tainted cards all reduced honor each turn even if they are in your discard pile or some other constant threat that labels a tainted deck as "Just defend against me, and I'll lose in time."  The model should be front loaded power with a higher cost over time, and especially making the cost inescapable is key.

Very well said. Great suggestion. 

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47 minutes ago, BCumming said:

100% agree with this.  I want to see samurai jockeying for position within their own Clan or family, as well as their place in the Empire.

  I'm wishy washy on this ;)

  First, officially ambition is a sin. Samurai are, of course, human, and thus ambitious regardless of their official posture. But they can't pursue their ambition openly - they have to pretend they're following their position and the Will of Heaven. It's a very two-faced society, but that's part of the fun. In old L5R, that was one of Chagatai's greatest powers. He recognized the power of ambition and pursued it openly. But that was the exception.

  Even on clans not being stereotypes, I'm a bit wishy washy. The power of conformity is great enough in our own society, where we celebrate individualism. Rokugan doesn't. Individualism is bad. I imagine people will try to conform all the harder then. There can be the odd person, a Shiba Aikune or Mirumoto Junnosuke, but conformity should be a much greater force in Rokugan than it is for us. These differences from our world are part of what draws me to their stories.

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1 hour ago, Teslacrashed said:

What? L5R is entirely supernatural in it's makeup and DNA.

I personally like the supernatural elements, obviously.  But sometimes they became a bit much.

Why did Hoturi's wife need to be some sort of fox-spirit thing?  Why, exactly, did the bloodsword Ambition need to get retconned into the coup story?  Can't onis just be big monsters, or does the "part of their soul is actually in jigoku and pulling them entirely into our realm makes them really nasty" part of them actually add to the setting in any meaningful way?

The worst instance of this I can think of is what wound up happening with The False Hoturi --> http://l5r.wikia.com/wiki/Daigotsu_Hoturi
About half way down that page (everything after "Return") anything resembling logic or reason gets chucked out the window in favor of the supernatural version of technobabble.

It's fine when the supernatural elements add something worth adding.  It's something else entirely when they are there just to make everything stupider.

Edited by Yogo Gohei

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Honestly anything from the old story can go.

Outside of the initial story about the Kamis and the tournament and all the "foundational" history, I don't care  if they never even come close to repeating old stories, and I'd kinda prefer it that way. Give me a plot from the Dragon who intentionally flooded the Crane lands to destabilize them for some nigh-unknowable reason. 

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17 minutes ago, Teslacrashed said:

Honestly anything from the old story can go.

Outside of the initial story about the Kamis and the tournament and all the "foundational" history, I don't care  if they never even come close to repeating old stories, and I'd kinda prefer it that way. Give me a plot from the Dragon who intentionally flooded the Crane lands to destabilize them for some nigh-unknowable reason. 

This ^

What I want is primarily the same starting caste, and pre-coup setting - and then they can take it wherever they want.  I want Hitomi and other characters to show, but they do not have to follow the same foot steps...  Just be the same people.  Imagine if Hitomi didn't get the Obsidian Fist, but was still Hitomi.  The charter can stay the same even with an entirely different story. 

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32 minutes ago, shosuko said:

This ^

What I want is primarily the same starting caste, and pre-coup setting - and then they can take it wherever they want.  I want Hitomi and other characters to show, but they do not have to follow the same foot steps...  Just be the same people.  Imagine if Hitomi didn't get the Obsidian Fist, but was still Hitomi.  The charter can stay the same even with an entirely different story. 

Yay for Hitomi! Yakamo can take his brother's place being an awesome standard. :rolleyes:

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1) Phoenix pacifism. This taken to the extreme is nonsense, whether the Phoenix end up being on-again off-again blood mages and oni summoners, or they just have to get involved in inter-clan warfare to protect their own territory, or help out an ally. The idea that shugenja in particular are pacifist also can get old fast, though a single family of a single clan making it their schtick and focusing on healing/locomotion magic could probably be tolerable. Seeking peaceful resolutions to things does not fall under this.

2) Coup. Having one at all is weak story construction. Not to say competing claims to the throne wouldn't be fine, or an organized effort by an (ideally) 3 clan conspiracy to have a puppet in power is off-limits. Specifically a 1-2 clan coup or rebellion that ends poorly, or can't end well (I'm looking at you Crab-Shadowlands alliance), should be off-limits. Nothing in the setup to this game's lore, and ideally ever, should neuter one of the clans as a living entity.

Onto less repeated cows.

A) I want at least one other clan to see some void shugenja support, it's the no elemental weakness of the Isawa, and the pursuit of peaks of scholarly knowledge that make the Phoenix interesting, not having a monopoly on educating a specific flavour of magic.

B) Katanas as primary weapons. I want them to be almost universally side-arms (I know this won't happen, but still)

C) Militarily defenceless courtiers. I want this in the RPG, and the card game. Courtiers are still samurai, and thus warriors. Not only that, but warriors who may have to fight off bandits, who can showcase military skills at court, who may risk assassination, and more. Not saying they need to be bushi, but they should be talented with their wakizashi, and/or: knives, naginata, bow, spear, and even katana (just never/rarely anything heavier). Translated to game mechanics, null military should be very rare, and all courtier schools should give out a primary weapon, and have training in it, by default. Shugenja can remain fairly military incompetent due to the handwave of the in-depth difficulty of their role as religious figures + mages + communicating with the kami + the risks of poor/insufficient training when it comes to an ability to throw fire and generate chunks of magical jade.

D) Taint as a physical affliction outside the Shadowlands. Taint is more interesting to me as a spiritual infestation that encourages bad decision making than as a physical thing that can be measured, affects ability to have children, and can be inherited. Maybe it can lead to demon possession as well. Aka: it's more interesting as the source of classical tragic flaws, especially when it's originally accrued through such a flaw, than as a malady that basically means mercy-kill, suicide, or lose your mind. Within the shadowlands you can keep physical effects so that mutated humans exist, and there's a reason for Tainted people to betray humanity and join the Shadowlands faction for power/long life.

E) Ninjas, or rather, ninjas as they are now. Make ninja-specific families of uplifted peasants that a couple clans have access to if you need to do ninjas, but don't try and emphasize that a samurai family are a family of ninjas. For Ninja PCs in the RPG, which I love dearly, either make them all the spies/assassins like the Shosuro actors (who I find easy to pass off as courtiers, since they are basically courtier/artisan in reputation), or allow rare samurai with otherwise normal schools to be sub-trained as ninja (off-limits to shugenja). Having schools of samurai as spy covers also makes it something more accessible to a few other clans (in fact the Yasuki would make excellent use of spy techniques, and so could unassuming Daidoji). This also allows the 'real' ninja who assassinate for their masters, to dress up as peasants and the like in the lore/art, and for shuriken and a few other weapons to be more useful than 'junk only a specifically trained black pajama wearer can use to any effect', for a touch more Wuxia feel for those weapon choices.

F) All families are samurai families. Some ashigaru/budoka/insert useful peasant specialty here families could be neat in the lore, and allow for a cross-clan neutral card design space that isn't ronin, faceless peasant, imperial families. Of course it could also be used for a peasant-soldier (or other specialist) design space within clans as well. Indeed, it provides a lot of design space mechanically, and takes very little effort in terms of lore, while still keeping samurai, as nobles, at the top of the hierarchy.

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21 hours ago, WHW said:

Another one that's going to be unpopular, and probably rightly so:

 

- The, for the lack of better word, fetishization of One Strike, First Blood dueling. I understand why people loved this back in the time, where fights in about every media were drawn out, long, and often pointlessly long. The climatic climaxes of samurai duels, where two swordmasters entered their stances and decided to end it with a final, single strike, was thrilling and full of tension. However, it was special because it was a climax, a special event, something that had to be first built to and which existed in contrast to "normal" fights. Turning it into the 99% picked way of resolving duels , while also often portraying it as "cowardish" and "making Crane force people to play a rigged game instead of a real fight", turning dueling into some kind of a ritualized joke and a way to say "we crane we win". It's kinda like deciding that Christmas is cool, so each and every holiday during the year will be, from now on, Christmas. Oh, and include weekends in that, too. 

Almost bloodless, single strike duels as a method of dueling encouraged by Crane and, say, Phoenix? Great way to characterize these Clans, and contrast them with others, who would probably prefer longer, more classic "until defeated/until surrender" duels, like Lion or Crab. And ESPECIALLY Dragon. "How do you duel?" "Well, we are Crane, we prefer one strike duels to show our perfection and avoid needless bloodshed" "We are Phoenix, we want to make it quick and decisive", "We are Lion, we understand that tides of battle come and go, sometimes you have to suffer the first strike to deliver the last*", "I am Dragon, and I know that fighting is like breathing, so all rules are false and self inflicted chains", etc. 

Single strike paper cut duels as the everyday standard turned dueling into a caricature enjoyed only by Crane, transforming unique and special climatic and epic events into munduane and almost "cheap" everyday events where you see a Kakita, and you go "welp, I could beat him in a real fight, but now he is going to paper cut me and I will be a loser, this is really dumb".

One Strike duels in media are often awesome because they aren't the standard occurrence, and when they happen, they usually highlight the badassery of people involved while also emphasizing how quickly and swiftly motionlessnes can transform into swift and beatiful brutality. Defanging it and turning it into a way for one of the clans to game the system and go oh-oh-ohing around because they can swift-cut you if you don't agree with them always looked to me as...kind of...missing the point of the dueling.  
 

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Imagine how anticlimatic and...different this duel would be if it ended with the first blow that connected. 

 

 

 

I'm trying to understand the key point of your argument so bear with me for a moment:

1. Duels to First Blood or Death: This would depend upon the severity of the slight or claim would it not?  A blood feud, for instance, likely leads to a duel to the death. At the same time, a small slight likely results in a duel to first blood. Especially when the lords that sanction such a duel do not want to risk losing their vassals. What reference are you citing to say that duels to first blood were seen/used 99% of the time outside of battle? 

2. Method of Duels: Per my understanding of older source material, an iaijutsu duel defaults to a kenjutsu duel after first strike. So assuming the duel in question is to the death, there is nothing preventing both samurai from continuing to fight beyond the first strike. It just depends upon the damage each participant was able to inflict on the first strike. 

3. On Dueling as "Ritual": Kakita's "The Sword" became the foundation for the modern form of dueling in the empire.  All clans save Dragon adopt this form of dueling. The Dragon just practice it in a different way, but they accept and issue challenges in this form. What other form would you want to see?

4. First Blood Duels, again: If the Crane are recognized as being expert duelists, wouldn't the average samurai _want_ a duel to first blood, rather than a duel to the death? Why emphasize further the mastery of another clan by heightening the cost associated to that action?  

5. "Real fight" vs. Duels: Duels are the closest occurrences to a  "real fight" in a court/social setting.    

6. Are you arguing against Iaijutsu in general? Or why the Crane are usually considered the best at that practice? Or, are you arguing against the dueling system adopted by all clans? 

The portrayal of duels could use some tweaking, but changing the form of dueling across the empire seems incongruous with the setting, IMO.

 

Edited by Anemura

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7 hours ago, YasukiKaito said:

That's why I said that I understand why they would steer away from temporarily destroying a clan, because players wouldn't all like it.  Regardless of which clan would've been destroyed I thought the idea of the community getting to rebuild the Mantis how they wanted to, from scratch, would have been such a cool story.  I think it would've brought together the player base in a unique way to rally behind the Mantis and restore them to their rightful place.  I mean if you're looking for a game/environment driven by community results with an epic story, it doesn't get a whole lot better than that.  In some senses it could be the Hero's Journey played out on a clan scale. 

Again, I totally get that some players wouldn't like it and the reasons not to do something like this.  But I also think it would make for an amazing story, buy in from the entire player base, and would install the Mantis as a clan that everyone had a personal attachment to.

The problem was, as I saw it, we already had a good rise-of-the-clan story.  And in destroying our clan in the manner they did, what AEG was giving us, at least in the near future, was a very poor story.  Contrast with the Ratlings, who were destroyed actually accomplishing something.  People may still have been upset that they were gone, but they went out with a bang.  What was Mantis accomplishing with our destruction?  There was no "end worthy of song" in our defeat.  Just a chance to maybe pick up the pieces somewhere down the road.

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You are talking like the only alternatives are First Blood / Death. Which is kind of my point - there is also a third way, which is "until KO/until judge declares a winner/until unable to continue the duel", but it's buried under the perception that you either duel to a first paper cut, or that you duel to the death. Lack of the option to have a meaningful duel where, say, a protagonist or player character can lose without dying is a bad thing. 

So an average samurai should want a duel to K.O., mostly because everyone (not counting Crane) are trained towards facing an opponent that will probably take more than just initial strike to take them down. That's also why idea of "paper cut dueling" is often ridiculed by players who aren't Crane and eye-rolled at - it's basically a rigged system that isn't an extension of how bushi in game actually fight at all. Again, I imagine that the iaijutsu dueling system in original L5R was probably born from desire to emulate the ICONIC FINAL ONE STRIKE DUELS of all the movies, but this IMHO degenerated the idea and kind of ended up turning it into some weird ritualized fetishization of very specific duelist fantasy trope which then got forced on everyone as the standard way of doing things. 

Imagine that, for example, someone designed a Star Wars game and decided that the lightsaber locks were the coolest things ever, and then designed the whole lightsaber dueling about lightsaber locking, and made majority of lightsaber duels start and end with the lightsaber locking. 

I like First Blood Duels, and I like First Strike Duels, but I dislike the chokehold hegemony it has over the dueling, because I think there are many instances where "not-First Strike" and "not-To Death" is superior storytelling option than any of the two above, especially in a character driven media which lives and dies by how much the audience likes the characters. 

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2 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

The problem was, as I saw it, we already had a good rise-of-the-clan story.  And in destroying our clan in the manner they did, what AEG was giving us, at least in the near future, was a very poor story.  Contrast with the Ratlings, who were destroyed actually accomplishing something.  People may still have been upset that they were gone, but they went out with a bang.  What was Mantis accomplishing with our destruction?  There was no "end worthy of song" in our defeat.  Just a chance to maybe pick up the pieces somewhere down the road.

Did they take out the 3rd seal in the process - or was that what started it? In any case I take your point and agree that if something like a clan destruction were to happen it would need to be for something entirely more epic - or for doing something super terrible (like Crab leading a Shadowlands Army?).  I also agree that the Mantis already have a rise from nothing type story, so I think this happening to another clan would have made more sense. 

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5 hours ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

But let's remember that most of the truly competitive players over the years haven't cared one whit about story

Absolutely not true. That's something a lot of people tell themselves to make them feel better about not winning - "at least I care more" - but a very high number of top tier L5R players have been Clan loyal or cared about the story. There are always going to be some that don't care, but Andrew Ornatov always played Horde when he could, Dan Dineen was a driving force behind both the Kolat and the Mantis, and Justin Walsh played whatever he could that would allow him to spread the taint in the Empire. Just because you may not have agreed with their story choices doesn't mean they didn't care, it just means they cared about different things than you. 

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1 hour ago, Isawa Miyu said:

E) Ninjas, or rather, ninjas as they are now. Make ninja-specific families of uplifted peasants that a couple clans have access to if you need to do ninjas, but don't try and emphasize that a samurai family are a family of ninjas. For Ninja PCs in the RPG, which I love dearly, either make them all the spies/assassins like the Shosuro actors (who I find easy to pass off as courtiers, since they are basically courtier/artisan in reputation), or allow rare samurai with otherwise normal schools to be sub-trained as ninja (off-limits to shugenja). Having schools of samurai as spy covers also makes it something more accessible to a few other clans (in fact the Yasuki would make excellent use of spy techniques, and so could unassuming Daidoji). This also allows the 'real' ninja who assassinate for their masters, to dress up as peasants and the like in the lore/art, and for shuriken and a few other weapons to be more useful than 'junk only a specifically trained black pajama wearer can use to any effect', for a touch more Wuxia feel for those weapon choices.

I'd like to junk the notion that only dishonorable people engage in intelligence work. Every bloody Great Clan (and the Minor Clans who can afford it) would have an intelligence network to keep them informed about what's going on in their own lands and other people's. The vast majority of "spying" is just about having people who keep an eye on what's happening and send in reports. Nothing dishonorable about that; it's simple pragmatism.

 

12 minutes ago, WHW said:

You are talking like the only alternatives are First Blood / Death. Which is kind of my point - there is also a third way, which is "until KO/until judge declares a winner/until unable to continue the duel"

I'll counter by saying that in reality (which I know is a problematic concept to bring into a Magic Samurai game), "until KO/unable to continue" is often just a slower way of dueling to the death. People can survive that kind of thing -- there are stories of people surviving **** near anything, including falling from a plane with no parachute or taking several eight-inch nails through the skull -- but if you get knocked out, you've taken brain damage, and you may not wake up again. (Contrary to what movies would have us believe, where nobody ever gets a concussion.) If you get badly cut, you stand a pretty high risk of dying from later infection. I'm mostly familiar with European dueling, but a great deal of that was either to the touch (i.e. first blood or point-scoring with dull blades) or done in the full awareness that you might kill your opponent, either on the spot or later on from complications.

Now, obviously Rokugan has magical healing available, etc. But how reasonable it is to say samurai should regularly fight until one of them is too mangled to stand depends on how likely you think it is that there's a shugenja standing by to return everybody to factory condition afterward. If that's the case, swing away; if it isn't, there's a lot of risk inherent in going for more than just a scratch.

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I had a nice response, but then I clicked on show Kinzen's post and it disappeared :(. 

So I'll just try typing it again in more optimized matter:

I feel that the biggest reasons for the way that the duel in L5R works like they work is because designers were enamored with the samurai cinema that did a fantastic job of creating the Fast Draw Dueling Fantasy. But I also feel that it's not a best fit for the non visual media that L5R mainly operates in (still images on card art, written fiction, and spoken narrative in RPG). The Fast Draw Dueling was born due to someone realizing fantastic opportunities that the movie medium provided, using a plethora of movie-unique tools to maximize the tension and awesomeness of the climatic fights. The long periods of motionlessness, sudden  bursts of movement that might be the draw or might be a tease, frames focusing on faces of each of the warriors where audience can try to "read them' as much as their opponents try to, and so on. Remember that this dueling fantasy wasn't "represented" by movies - it was actually invented by them. So IMHO L5R dueling should try to evoke and capture the same feelings as these movie duels, but it also should try to use better tools for that. Narrating them for the first, second or third time is fun and exciting, but I kinda got tired of it after 10th time :P. Again, I LOVE this trope, but I think it should be used sparingly and with the help of tools best suited for it. I think that L5R could do better than just trying to describe that cool movie the designers saw 20 years ago.

As for K.O., I meant it more in a fighting game sense than a literally losing consciousness :P. Again, I probably wouldn't have much problem with the duels to first blood if they actually involved more than a single strike - back and forth, testing your opponents guard, tiring them out, and so on. I wouldn't really mind if you had duels where the paper cut is indeed the ending, but has a satisfying lead up to it. Again, look at the Zuko's fight with Zhao - I would definitely be ok with a rokugani duel where they draw no actual blood until the very end, but there is *actual fighting* in it. Like, seriously, switch their Firebending to Katanas and imagine that Zuko is barely keeping himself from getting cut for the majority of it. For RPG, I would also be perfectly fine with it if it was represented by Zhuko being hit and losing HP...but for whatever reason, we are still stuck in the game design mentality where confirming a successful attack roll and reducing opponents HP pool is for whatever reason always supposed to be translated as hitting the dude with the sword and drawing blood.  Which makes me want to cut myself, because you could as easily just narrate it as "Zuko losing footing and slowly but steadily getting tired and having his guard grinded down,   so when he runs out of HP, Zhao will finally deliver a potentially fatal blow" and still have the game be "lethal and dangerous" without actually turning each damage roll into a chance of 2 years of a campaign getting blown up. 

Add a referee who is good enough to judge participants HP :P, and you have yourself a non lethal non first strike duel which still has a potential to also be one of above if the duelist is good enough. 

 

...you could also give some love to armor, because wailing at each other with katanas when your opponent is fully armored is a good way to let out some tension while keeping the kill chance relatively low, though probably leaving the second party properly injured. :P Rokugani medicine seems to be pretty advanced, and I wouldn't mind it being advanced  and mystical enough (super amazing weird herbal medicine that aren't actually magical but kind of mystical fit the eastern fantasy well) to make dying from infections not something a samurai should be bothered with in a civilized setting. 

 

As for the "samurai should regularly fight until one of them is too mangled to stand", I like to think that's a great opportunity for stories. Knowing when you lost is a virtue, so I imagine that a proper protocol would include a samurai who is too beaten up to continue fighting just bow out, but that's the perfect world. I can't help but get excited at all the I KNOW I CAN DEFEAT HIM I JUST NEED TO GET THIS SINGLE STRIKE IN young samurai who have to stop fighting because stupid referee decided they can't take it anymore and ordered them to stand down :P. So much delicious angst! \

...I need to throw one of our players a fight where she ends up being a Magistrate overseeing such a duel. Save a life by declaring that youngling a loser, but also gain his eternal hate, because he firmly believes he "had in the bag" and blames you for it, hoo-hooooohooooooooo.

Edited by WHW

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24 minutes ago, WHW said:

You are talking like the only alternatives are First Blood / Death. Which is kind of my point - there is also a third way, which is "until KO/until judge declares a winner/until unable to continue the duel", but it's buried under the perception that you either duel to a first paper cut, or that you duel to the death. Lack of the option to have a meaningful duel where, say, a protagonist or player character can lose without dying is a bad thing. 

So an average samurai should want a duel to K.O., mostly because everyone (not counting Crane) are trained towards facing an opponent that will probably take more than just initial strike to take them down. That's also why idea of "paper cut dueling" is often ridiculed by players who aren't Crane and eye-rolled at - it's basically a rigged system that isn't an extension of how bushi in game actually fight at all. Again, I imagine that the iaijutsu dueling system in original L5R was probably born from desire to emulate the ICONIC FINAL ONE STRIKE DUELS of all the movies, but this IMHO degenerated the idea and kind of ended up turning it into some weird ritualized fetishization of very specific duelist fantasy trope which then got forced on everyone as the standard way of doing things. 

Imagine that, for example, someone designed a Star Wars game and decided that the lightsaber locks were the coolest things ever, and then designed the whole lightsaber dueling about lightsaber locking, and made majority of lightsaber duels start and end with the lightsaber locking. 

I like First Blood Duels, and I like First Strike Duels, but I dislike the chokehold hegemony it has over the dueling, because I think there are many instances where "not-First Strike" and "not-To Death" is superior storytelling option than any of the two above, especially in a character driven media which lives and dies by how much the audience likes the characters. 

 

Hmmm... from what I gather from this post, you want kenjutsu dueling that need not result in death. Is that fair to say? You also would like the impact of the first strike to be diminished so as to better help create that second window for kenjutsu. Basically, removing the iajutsu from iajutsu dueling in a social setting...?

My immediate response to this is that 'ritualized fighting' is already diminished in the context of war, where kenjutsu is the primary mode. Unless, of course, you have Duelist commander's dropping challenges to opposing commanders. Then we get some of that influence on the battlefield. However, your critique of dueling revolved around the social setting so I will speak to it with only that context in mind. 

When you say "this isn't how real bushi fight at all," I'm not sure what you mean? Iajutsu existed and was practiced by samurai . 'Real bushi' used it as a part of the discipline of the sword. 

Lastly, I'm sure practice duels went to submission/KO/decision. I'm not sure how this could be implemented? And further, wouldn't the Crane still be considered preeminent here due to the fact that it's still iaijutsu. The outcome of the first strike are different, but the form of dueling is still the same. 

There are examples of characters surviving duels in order to continue their story. Dairya being a notable example. 

 

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Also, take note that I'm a player who plays pretty specific type of characters - female bushi. I enjoy the fantasy of a samurai warrior doing samurai warrior things, which includes, among other things, dueling and generally fighting.  Ability to experience it is as important to me as using spells is for Shugenja or playing the social game is for Courtiers, so perfectly, I want a game where I get to unsheathe my sword at least once per two or three game sessions, at minimum. Add to that the fact that it should be doable without disrupting the rythm of the game - so I should be able to participate in it both in shadowlands (battling monsters), during Magistrates of Rokugan games (roughing up suspects, fighting off bandits, whatever) and in the peaceful court setting. Duels are the primary way of getting my bushi fantasy fix in the court setting without disrupting the plot or feeling like a sidequest. In fact, duels are amazing for that overall and ever outside the court, because they don't punish rest of my party for not being interested in fighting, like a bandit ambush would. Courtier gets to negotiate a deal, Shugenja gets to do a purification ritual, and I get to do some raging blades. Everyone is happy and everyone gets their 5 minutes of screentime and glory.

 

However, if the duels are FS/FB, majority of my screentime is actually occupied by my character standing still and doing the focus narrative routine for the 90432th time, and then rolling a dice to check if I hit them or if they did hit me. Not a much room for meaningful decisions, and not that much room for my own narrative input, so basically, interactivity of the actual duel is relatively low, especially when compared to the, say, Courtier doing some negotiations with multiple rolls, non binary resolution of the conflict (between "perfect deal" and "no deal" there is a whole spectrum of possible outcomes shaped both by meaningful player decisions, roleplaying and luck of the draw.  So in a First Strike duel, I feel that I'm kind of getting a short straw here, because my resolution mechanic is not only binary (I hit first or I get hit first), but it also doesn't involve any meaningful decisions, because dueling minigame could be pretty much done by writing a dice roller script that gives you a result after plugging in the stats of the duelists - your decisions are to Void Or Not the Assessment roll, Void or Not (of course Void!) the Focus roll, and What To Void during the Strike, with the correct answer being always "To Hit" if you won on the Focus, and "ATN" if you didn't. You also get a +1k1+Void to assign from Center Stance...but because it's a First Strike duel, you don't care about the actual number of damage dealt, so you are going to always assign it to the hit roll. You also don't care about the Raises, because guess what, you only care about the hit connecting. 

So First Strike duels are pretty boring when done more often than once in a blue moon. 

 

On the other hand, if it's a duel to death, I'm looking at a pretty bad odds. Even if I have 10% chance of dying per duel to death, this will kill me, because again, I'm a bushi -  I want to duel and I want them to be recurring element of my gameplay. Slapping a 10% "kill yourself" bomb on the one of basic activities I want to perform in the game isn't something I'm looking forward to. It also means that I'm going to win ally my duels, because the moment I stop winning them, I will die :P, and that robs my character arc of many many possible interesting ways to go on. And while duel to death potentially involves more interesting and meaningful decisions and roleplaying opportunities than a first strike one, rivaling the "negotiating a deal", a courtier isn't pressing a "check if you die" button each time they decide to engage in the defining activity of their character (which is courtier-ring).

 

Another thing is that one of the defining feature of RPG games is character progression. You play, your character gets new tools and unlocks new abilities. Your courtier might gain a new shiny technique and use it proactively, they also can get something like Temptation or Intimidation or Lore in order to vary up their tools and use the best vector of attack for the given situation (or the most fun looking, or the most roleplayingly appropriate). As their character sheets evolve, their pool of possible decisions and outcomes change. It's an ever evolving experience.


In dueling, you are stuck doing the same 3 rolls forever, and only thing that changes are the numbers. What's probably the worst, it doesn't matter that you are a bushi and your precious (I really grew to hate the 5 rank 5 Techniques system of L5R after playing it and playing other RPG games at the same time) techqniue slots are supposed to make your primary activity (fighting!) interesting and better, because it's BY DESIGN that only Kakita get to experience the quality change of their dueling experience while everyone else are stuck with numerical increases, because it's by design that only Kakita techniques get to influence the dueling. 

Which means that due to how techniques in L5R are constructed, it's fairly possible that a Bushi will spend multiple game sessions in a row never using their techniques. I have had this happen to me.

 

So with all of this context, imagine me reading that Rob Howards proposed rule for dueling is to make even death duels be binary - in that whoever wins the Focus, automatically kills the opponent. It kinda frustrated me. 

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21 minutes ago, WHW said:

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Which means that due to how techniques in L5R are constructed, it's fairly possible that a Bushi will spend multiple game sessions in a row never using their techniques. I have had this happen to me.

 

 

I'd like to see  the end of 'one tech' school rank iidea.

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6 minutes ago, Kuni Katsuyoshi said:

I'd like to see  the end of 'one tech' school rank iidea.

No joke, I felt better about leveling up my "character" in Arkham Horror LCG than I ever did in L5R. In one, I gain new abilities that have direct impact on my gameplay experience, in the second I mostly raise my % of success on actions that I'm taking at Rank 1, 3, and 5. 

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2 minutes ago, WHW said:

No joke, I felt better about leveling up my "character" in Arkham Horror LCG than I ever did in L5R. In one, I gain new abilities that have direct impact on my gameplay experience, in the second I mostly raise my % of success on actions that I'm taking at Rank 1, 3, and 5. 

I actually LIKED 3rd ed schools, clunky as they were. Or d20 'tech as feats' for a more freeform advancement. Im intensely curious were FFG will take the school idea

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1 hour ago, WHW said:

I had a nice response, but then I clicked on show Kinzen's post and it disappeared :(. 

So I'll just try typing it again in more optimized matter:

I feel that the biggest reasons for the way that the duel in L5R works like they work is because designers were enamored with the samurai cinema that did a fantastic job of creating the Fast Draw Dueling Fantasy. But I also feel that it's not a best fit for the non visual media that L5R mainly operates in (still images on card art, written fiction, and spoken narrative in RPG). The Fast Draw Dueling was born due to someone realizing fantastic opportunities that the movie medium provided, using a plethora of movie-unique tools to maximize the tension and awesomeness of the climatic fights. The long periods of motionlessness, sudden  bursts of movement that might be the draw or might be a tease, frames focusing on faces of each of the warriors where audience can try to "read them' as much as their opponents try to, and so on. Remember that this dueling fantasy wasn't "represented" by movies - it was actually invented by them. So IMHO L5R dueling should try to evoke and capture the same feelings as these movie duels, but it also should try to use better tools for that. Narrating them for the first, second or third time is fun and exciting, but I kinda got tired of it after 10th time :P. Again, I LOVE this trope, but I think it should be used sparingly and with the help of tools best suited for it. I think that L5R could do better than just trying to describe that cool movie the designers saw 20 years ago.

As for K.O., I meant it more in a fighting game sense than a literally losing consciousness :P. Again, I probably wouldn't have much problem with the duels to first blood if they actually involved more than a single strike - back and forth, testing your opponents guard, tiring them out, and so on. I wouldn't really mind if you had duels where the paper cut is indeed the ending, but has a satisfying lead up to it. Again, look at the Zuko's fight with Zhao - I would definitely be ok with a rokugani duel where they draw no actual blood until the very end, but there is *actual fighting* in it. Like, seriously, switch their Firebending to Katanas and imagine that Zuko is barely keeping himself from getting cut for the majority of it. For RPG, I would also be perfectly fine with it if it was represented by Zhuko being hit and losing HP...but for whatever reason, we are still stuck in the game design mentality where confirming a successful attack roll and reducing opponents HP pool is for whatever reason always supposed to be translated as hitting the dude with the sword and drawing blood.  Which makes me want to cut myself, because you could as easily just narrate it as "Zuko losing footing and slowly but steadily getting tired and having his guard grinded down,   so when he runs out of HP, Zhao will finally deliver a potentially fatal blow" and still have the game be "lethal and dangerous" without actually turning each damage roll into a chance of 2 years of a campaign getting blown up.

Got it. I have to admit that dueling in 4e (the only edition I've played) was profoundly boring: make three rolls in which there is no real tactical choice unless you have only Void 2, the end. And yeah, the cinematic equivalent is great, but the mechanics soundly failed to replicate the feel of the cinematic model. My husband wants his bushi PC to be dueling a lot more often, but after the first couple, it's just not interesting for me to run.

My first L5R GM did handle it such that to draw first blood you had to get through your opponent's Healthy rank to Nicked or below. (Which got interesting when someone had to duel a Defender of the Wall.) It's an easy mod for the existing rules: declare that for the purposes of dueling, "first blood" is somewhere down the Wound chart -- you can set it at Nicked or Down or wherever you like -- and everything above that is just you wearing your opponent down. Kakita still have an advantage in that they're likely to hit first and may even get Free Raises with which to crank up that first strike; given the way damage can explode, that might translate into winning with a single hit. But it isn't super-dominant.

(But now we're digressing into RPG homebrew, so I'll stop.)

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A few points about Iaijutsu and its role in the setting:

I disagree with the complaint about everything boiling down to first blood or to the death: I think that is appropriate. Either the participants are trying to seriously injure/kill each other, or they are not. That is how I understand the distinction in the setting. There are no formal duels 'to the death' in the sense that neither party can surrender and one must die, the way I understand the setting. Rather, if the duelists are not trying to make it non-lethal, than it is very likely to be lethal, because swords are super dangerous.

I think the RPG had a bit of a negative influence on people's understanding of how Iaijutsu works as well. Because the RPG has the schools, and the schools have different bonuses and some of them are better than others at winning Iaijutsu duels, people came to the conclusion that some clans were just unstoppable and always won those types of duels. But I notice that people never took that to the full conclusion, that Shiba Bushi were the best duelists (although in the iterations of the RPG I saw, they were). But in the broader fictional setting, it is clear that not every champion duelist was Kakita or Mirumoto. Indeed it is pretty clear even from the RPG materials that the REPUTATION of the Kakita academy is unparalleled, but the reality doesn't always live up to the hype. 

So in my understanding of the setting, any trained samurai has the potential to do well in Iaijutsu, and any clan can win: the Kakita and Mirumoto have a stellar reputation, and maybe their training focuses on dueling a little more, but when actual samurai fight actual duels a Bayushi or Akodo Bushi is just about as likely to come out on top as anyone else.

Furthermore, in actual battle and skirmishes, duels are always Kenjutsu, so that's more important in the real world rather than the courts. And any bushi school can win at kenjutsu.

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