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Manic Modron

The Katana Thread

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4 hours ago, Blackbird888 said:

There are some who like to run the numbers and find the most optimal choice, but the differences are small enough that it's not really important.

I'm AtoMaki. I once had a Gadgeeter with a Heavy Repeating Blaster. I came here to laugh on this sentence. 

But seriously. If there is one aspect of the SW RPG that is unsalvagable, then it must be the weapon balance. 

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6 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

I'm AtoMaki. I once had a Gadgeeter with a Heavy Repeating Blaster. I came here to laugh on this sentence. 

But seriously. If there is one aspect of the SW RPG that is unsalvagable, then it must be the weapon balance. 

Figured that would be brought up, but that doesn't change the point I was making.

See, auto-fire is a big problem, and it makes fighting enemies trivially easy, but they didn't design stormtroopers and the like assuming that every group will have an auto-fire weapon.

A player who wants blaster pistols or swords or something else is perfectly functional if they want. A group that doesn't use AF weapons isn't going to complain that they can't scratch the bad guys.

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On 10/1/2017 at 9:51 PM, shosuko said:

Certainly - the real problem here is we need to make a system that is more universal, appealing to each samurai fantasy.  For a low-fantasy game that wants to be more gritty, Sengoku syle adventure the katana shouldn't be the best weapon.  Even in a more fanciful world a player shouldn't be shunted for picking a non-katana weapon - but I guess the main point is we do need to give players a reason to wield their swords amidst the variety of specialist weapons available.  A reason that isn't just "because society deems it a civil weapon," but actually backs it up with mechanics.

What if there were an advantage a player could take on character creation that gave them a bonus to using a Katana (maybe a specific katana, like an ancestral weapon bonus, or maybe just a bonus to katana in general, maybe tied to honor) which allows the katana to stand up to any other weapon and allow the katana-samurai fantasy to flourish without removing the justification for having all of the other weapons of war, and students of said weapons?

Essentially this.

My thoughts:

  • I totally agree on the setting. This isn't something that's trying to be Nth degree simulationist. If I wanted to throw players into 'real' feudal Japan, I'd essentially sub them out for Blackthorne as a group and basically run the plot of Shogun (which still isn't perfect but is pretty decent).
  • Katanas were decent swords, but they weren't magical. What they were - like any successful weapon - is well suited for the environment they were in: they were sharp along the full length of a long curved blade (compared to the 'aerodynamic baseball bat' of a western sword) which makes for a good extremity remover against opponents in (comparatively) poor armour, and flexible but tough due to their transitional metallurgy, which makes up handily for not using a shield. 
  • In Rokugan, however, stuff actually is magical. Magic is, to a greater and lesser extent, a real thing, and honour is not just a tool to drive your public reputation, but "we are mighty because we are right" is part of it. So it's not unreasonable that your honoured great grand-pappy's katana could be meaningfully better (as in 'bad samurai movie slice-through-sword-opponent-and-inconveniently-placed-tree' better) than the one for sale from jim, the swordsmith down the road. But the same it true for a Naginata or Tetsubo with appropriate history as well.
  • At the same time, no, Katana aren't lightsabers. Other weapons exist and are favoured, and not just by non-samurai, but by major characters in the primary clans (the Crane and Crab clan leaders, for starters!). So clearly there should be a reason for it.
  • Being able to 'open carry' a katana is a good point - because politics will always be a part of any campaign which isn't 'slicing up goons, the musical' - and having a weapon you can carry with you to a banquet is important; pistols and unpowered blades are a big part of my (otherwise well equiped) 40k RPG players' arsenals for this reason.
  • I wouldn't mind 'reach' being a meaningful part of combat; a pair of Sai versus a Naginata is all about being able to force your way into (or keep your opponent out of) that last metre-or-so of ground, and weapons of differing length (with the reach of a katana being 'default') makes sense. Inquisitor used to do this quite well.
  • Having advantages tied to given weapons makes sense; it's just a case that you will need to make sure none of them are overwhelming relative to one another; the aim should probably be to have the katana be the most attractive unless you specifically aim for something else. Having the combat mechanic seamlessly move into and out of formal iaijutsu-style duels might be an important part of it.
  • If you were, for example, to take some sort of Ashigaru retainer as a character archetype, you're clearly not going to pack a sword. This should not kill your character concept stone dead; an equivalent-XP character should be able to give a lacquer-armour-and-katana pretty-boy a fair fight with the yari he's been training with for twenty-odd years; even if it's done via dirty tricks rather than raw stats.
  • A lot of it will depend on how much mechanical detail is put into the melee combat; D&D or Inquisitor 'roll dice for every blow and track every metre moved' or SWRPG/FATE 'tell the story and just narrate the changes in the outcome'.
Edited by Magnus Grendel

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I'd be happy to have certain weapons targeted towards certain opponents.  Yari vs. Cavalry or Larger opponents, for example, Tetsubo vs. Heavy Armor, Naginata vs. no Armor, etc.  So if you want the BEST weapon for each kind of enemy, you want to train in multiple weapons.  However, the Katana should have the broadest universal application.

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45 minutes ago, Manic Modron said:

From what I'm reading, this seems pretty satisfactory.  I like the vulnerability of it and the deadlines as well.  Range bands mean spears and such are still very useful, right?

Dont feel like it, movement feels pretty clunk. Its easier to close range than to get away from your opponent, you dont have a "sprint" action and the Charge action with enough rings and fitness will probably be easy to accomplish and will just destroy the concept of range bands.

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On 03/10/2017 at 10:44 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

(compared to the 'aerodynamic baseball bat' of a western sword)

I will be a happy man the day this kind of misconception dies in a burning inferno.

Consider, first, that the western world had plenty of curved single-edged swords. Scimitars, sabers, falchions, messers... just to name a few.

And even the straight double-edged swords where freaking sharp, unless it was exclusively a thrusting-centric sword.

 

On 03/10/2017 at 10:44 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

which makes up handily for not using a shield.

It absolutely doesn't makes up for not using a shield. Weapon plus shield will always give people greater defensive capabilities than just using a single sword. Also, you know what else is flexible but tough? Western swords! And people in Europe only stopped using big shields when armor became so tough that you could have complete confidence that you wouldn't get hurt while swing a two-hander around.

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5 hours ago, Mobiusllls said:

Dont feel like it, movement feels pretty clunk. Its easier to close range than to get away from your opponent, you dont have a "sprint" action and the Charge action with enough rings and fitness will probably be easy to accomplish and will just destroy the concept of range bands.

Yeah I think there should be a maneuver to establish distance - maybe in the martial arts to push your opponent away - there are some kiho for this, but I would think Samurai should have access to some distance creating move.  Water stance should help, but I haven't read it all to see anything else to help with that.

9 minutes ago, Mirumoto Saito said:

I will be a happy man the day this kind of misconception dies in a burning inferno.

Consider, first, that the western world had plenty of curved single-edged swords. Scimitars, sabers, falchions, messers... just to name a few.

And even the straight double-edged swords where freaking sharp, unless it was exclusively a thrusting-centric sword.

 

It absolutely doesn't makes up for not using a shield. Weapon plus shield will always give people greater defensive capabilities than just using a single sword. Also, you know what else is flexible but tough? Western swords! And people in Europe only stopped using big shields when armor became so tough that you could have complete confidence that you wouldn't get hurt while swing a two-hander around.

SO TRUE buddy!  Western swords were made of high quality steel that could be both strong, flexible, AND sharp.  Japan had cruddy steel that could be hardened and sharp, but brittle.  The deferentially forged blade isn't flexible, it just bends!  If they forged the whole thing hard it would shatter.  A katana is NOT a blocking tool.  Fortunately they've added that razor-sharp weapons will become damaged if they are whacked against hard objects.  This is a decent representation in game.

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6 hours ago, Mobiusllls said:

Dont feel like it, movement feels pretty clunk. Its easier to close range than to get away from your opponent, you dont have a "sprint" action and the Charge action with enough rings and fitness will probably be easy to accomplish and will just destroy the concept of range bands.

Guess you missed the Iron Forest Style kata. It can pretty much lock down anyone charging someone with a spear or polearm.

Edited by Ultimatecalibur

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5 minutes ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

Guess you missed the Iron Forest Style kata. It can pretty much lock down anyone charging someone with a spear or polearm.

I actually saw it. I just dont think its a effective way to do it and more important than what i think, its literally the only way to try and keep others in range.  There is no clever move or distance management that you would have in GURPS as an example.

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2 hours ago, Mobiusllls said:

I actually saw it. I just dont think its a effective way to do it and more important than what i think, its literally the only way to try and keep others in range.  There is no clever move or distance management that you would have in GURPS as an example.

Water stance does allow you to move 1 range band with just it.  No kata required.  Unless your opponents are entering range 0, which would prevent katana from being useful, you can just step back as part of water stance to use a spear.  I'm still reading, so I may have missed something... but it sounds like Water stance helps with this.

I kept reading - in the first part of your turn, when you set your stance you can move up to 2 range bands...  so range won't be an issue unless terrain, or other techniques make it an issue.

Edited by shosuko

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4 hours ago, Mirumoto Saito said:

I will be a happy man the day this kind of misconception dies in a burning inferno.

Consider, first, that the western world had plenty of curved single-edged swords. Scimitars, sabers, falchions, messers... just to name a few.

And even the straight double-edged swords where freaking sharp, unless it was exclusively a thrusting-centric sword.

There were plenty of sharp, singled edged (and double edged - stuff like spatha and gladius if you want to go classical) western swords. I agree. But the stuff I'm used to from re-enactment work and practice/research was Wars-of-the-roses era arming swords, and were heavy, straight edged and no, whilst they were sharp (I'm not saying they weren't), they weren't sharpened aside from the point and maybe first six inches to a foot. You do not need a sharpened edge to cut with a sufficiently heavy blade, and becuase they were specifically designed to parry heavy blows at the foot of the blade above the quillons, sharpening the blade there would just lead to an easily notched and cracked bit. 

4 hours ago, Mirumoto Saito said:

It absolutely doesn't makes up for not using a shield.

Also agreed. Not using a shield is a tactically silly move if you have the option because it's an offensive weapon too (which is why the buckler - essentially just a shield boss without the rest of the shield) was a popular thing to hang on your hilt for a long time, even after full plate became a thing, because buckler and longsword is frankly a lot less exhausting and impractical to carry than a zweihander.

But I meant it's better than not doing.

4 hours ago, shosuko said:

tern swords were made of high quality steel that could be both strong, flexible, AND sharp.  Japan had cruddy steel that could be hardened and sharp, but brittle.  The deferentially forged blade isn't flexible, it just bends!  If they forged the whole thing hard it would shatter.  A katana is NOT a blocking tool.  Fortunately they've added that razor-sharp weapons will become damaged if they are whacked against hard objects

Defnitely. I am fully aware that the intensive effort put into real-world japanese swords is at least in part because Japanese iron ore was...erm...a bit rubbish.

But also remember that this isn't Japan; Rokugan is very much an idealised fantasy Japan with bits of Seven Kingdoms China and the Mongol Khanate plagiarised. There is nothing wrong with Rokugani steel ores mentioned in any of my (limited), and hence the fixation with swordsmithing when actually applied to decent metal means we're looking at Toledo/Damascus/Wotan steel equivalent weapons being the norm, and Rokigani katanas of sufficient quality can potentially pull off the sort of stuff that bad samurai anime credits them with.

Also approve of the damaged quality being something you can pick up easily on a sword, though (or indeed other items). Having to invest effort in maintaing your weapons is one thing which helps avoid relentless 'gear inflation' which is a problem with some RPG systems.

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