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Kakita Onimaru

Duels of honor are no longer Iajutsu contests?

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(Yes, most of my post probably will be about dueling. Why do you ask :) )

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I go into a rant on how the L5R public has a terrible habit of confusing Dueling, Iaijutsu, and Iajutsu dueling as all being the same thing. And I do like how the dueling rules are context free and even have battlefield options in the form of clashes. That being said, I do not see anything in the book detailing how Formal duels of honor should be settled with a formal Iajutsu Duel. 

Mostly this could be clarified with some lore text that I am sure will be in the final product, but if Iaijutsu is a Kata that not everyone knows (and also does nothing in of itself to help with a duel mechanically for some reason) then I dont know how it would be represented in a lore fashion. 

 

Again, I LOVE the expansion of dueling outside of the rigid context of honor duels (where most of them realistically would be anyways) but there seems to be a massive lore glitch here when it comes to formally conducting a sanctioned duel of honor. 

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Additionally, Duel to First Blood doesn't make much sense. In lore its supposed to be a single strike you do to cause slight bleeding to your opponent (In fact, it is dishonorable to strike your opponent after they have delivered a decisive blow). In the mechanics, you take turns beating each other until one of you exceeds the others wound threshold. 

Im also not a fan of the possibility that someone who strikes second in a duel to first strike could potentially win by doing massive damage. i get what they are going with by having a judge being swayed by a more "decisive" hit but it again makes little sense thematically.

"You hit him first, but he cracked the bokken over your head in retaliation. I guess he just wanted it more. He wins." 

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I saw the rules and sort of imagined that it discouraged the idea of glancing blows being deciding factors. A duel is determined by a clear and obvious victory. It should be telling, firmly felt, and obvious to all bystanders. As someone who does SCA combat, a lot of blows can roll off of your helmet with the turn of the head or sidestepped to produce only a grazing blow. What you want to feel/see is a blow that there is no shadow beyond a doubt that you just killed your opponent.

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I dont know how to talk what i think about duels. in all honesty. I cant find a way to make a cohesive text in english to describe it. So sorry for the entire post.

On a 4x3 fight where everyone is locked with one opponent (except a unlucky guy that is facing 2 persons) you have skirmish rules. Finishing blows dont exist, Akodos are awesome. If soomeone stakes honor, the rules change, now strife is bad and because of this, the Akodo either feels the pressure or has amnesia.

Legend of Five Rings only has rules to duels because IT IS A RITUALIZED DUEL. In setting and Mechanically. Now its only "ritualized" because they said it is. In fact the mechanics support a duel being so much ritualized, that the clash rules are basically the same. i think they just cut the scoring thing sideboard that i dont see any GM that i know using. "Okay you beat your opponent, but sorry, his objective was getting beaten down, so... you lost the duel."(Yeah we are mavericks, we ignore things we see as stupid.)

Its almost feels like that the writers had fallen for the "rokugan your way thing" and actually believes that courts can settle duels in any way they want. They dont, and if the Crane were good at jumping rope, the main way to settle issues would be jumping rope. It misses the entire point of a Rokugani Duel, the FFG duel is not ritualized. First Edition was completely ritualized (You would keep sheating your weapon, waiting for the signal of being allowed to draw, and then would keep doing that until someone died, if the duel was to the death.) Fourth Edition they made the entire duel being ONE roll. You had assesment, that would give you a great bonus to the second(and important) roll You had the, see who strikes first roll (Void + Iaijutsu + Center Stance) and third, the damage roll. the damage roll WAS LITERALLY IRRELEVANT. i would spend raises to NOT HURT my opponent,i would literally SKIP the third roll and just cut his clothes or hair instead of going for damage. Being first was everything in a Iai duel.

Only on a duel to the death you would actually worry about how much damage you are putting, and after that, guess what? Fourth Edition special rules ended, the rest of the battle was a skirmish. The HIda in heavy armor could grab his opponent and strangle him to death and nobody would care. (In my group, we had persons who liked more First edition. I prefer fourth because it feels more organic and give chance to non duelists to win duels to the death in virtue of being a best fighter)

But yeah. Trying to finish my post now. Duel to first strike is garbage. its a initiative contest. both guys will bet the maximum of strife they can bet (Without getting close to an outburst) and roll an meditation check to see who wins.

Duel to first blood you have to actually beat your opponent (WOW sounds just like a normal fight huh?) in how many strikes or turns you do that, nobody really cares it seems.

And Duel to Death, you have to actually hit the guy one more time than you would in a duel to first blood, It almost feel like a completely different thing, sure.

And my feeling is that yes, Iaijutsu Duels dont exist, if i didnt know a bit of the setting (i'm no expert by any means) if i hadnt played 4th Edition, i Would think that the duels are fine, its people beating each other one x one in front of others, just like a normal duel should be. i Wouldnt care about iaijutsu and i wouldnt undestand why Kakita's care so much about it.

My first contact to L5R was actually reading 4th edition.(And on my opinion it did a great job on winning me over with the setting.) so i learned for example that they had a completely bizarre way to settle things (Iaijutsu duel) and that the rules to that was different, and i could create a character focused on being good at those 2 rolls (Being a duelist). My three most played characters in L5R were duelists, and funny enough, the Kakita one was the character that had fewer duels among them.

On why a thread about this was just made now... I'm guessing that people is mostly thinking on iaijutsu when they read the rules for duels, because that is burned in their brains, so they try to make the mechanics fit their fantasy. The glancing blow described above, wont ever fit my head. You hit someone who has a cap of 8 wounds, you get 6 damage, that was a glancing blow? and even then, it hit didnt? and worst, its not a duel to the death, if the other guy sucks and just do a glancing blow too, sorry it was a Draw, the duel is over and it was a waste of time if they followed the setting that i know. (But maybe the setting changed? i dont read the fictions and i dont care on what FFG is doing to the card game.)

Edited by Mobiusllls

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On 10/10/2017 at 0:32 AM, Kakita Onimaru said:

but if Iaijutsu is a Kata that not everyone knows (and also does nothing in of itself to help with a duel mechanically for some reason) then I dont know how it would be represented in a lore fashion. 

I think the purpose of the kata is closely tied with the question of "is drawing your weapon an action". Unfortunately i couldnt find the answer to this in the book but if it turns out drawing a weapon is an action- that basically means the one with the kata always goes first- putting anyone who doesnt have that kata at a SEVERE disadvantage. Without the kata, you can pretty much only rely on duels to the death or good dodging skills.

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4 hours ago, RodentJoe said:

I think the purpose of the kata is closely tied with the question of "is drawing your weapon an action". Unfortunately i couldnt find the answer to this in the book but if it turns out drawing a weapon is an action- that basically means the one with the kata always goes first- putting anyone who doesnt have that kata at a SEVERE disadvantage. Without the kata, you can pretty much only rely on duels to the death or good dodging skills.

Drawing a weapon does not appear to be an action. Instead, when one sets one stance at the start of the turn, one may ready one weapon. This is detailed in the larger text about Duels and Skirmishes, as well as in the "What Do I Do on My Turn" summary boxes for each (on pg 161 and 165, respectively).  As such, Iaijutsu Striking is not particularly useful if one's goal is simply to ready one's weapon. Instead, it might be useful for reading two weapons in a single turn or for roleplay reasons.

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It sounds like, at least for the beta, that Iaijutsu duels are no longer the cultural "default" for duels of honor, and that duels in this version are more aligned with the notion of western duels (back and forth until your foe is defeated) rather than the single-round competition that they generally were in prior editions.

I don't recall who it was, but in another thread someone posted what I think would be a good correction to bring iaijutsu duels more in line with what they generally should be (a single stroke contest vs. whaling away at one another)

Duel to First Strike - first participant to make a successful combat check to strike the target is the victor.

Duel to First Blood - first participant to inflict wounds or a critical strike to the target is the victor, though critical strike is still going to hamper the target if it comes from a finishing blow.

Duel to the Death - probably good as is, since a finishing blow and opportunities for critical strikes can result in death, and most of those tend to go into a skirmish after the initial exchange of blows.  And with the Kakita Duelist technique (at least if I'm reading it right), a finishing blow can be pushed up from Maiming Blow to an Agonizing Death, so the single-stroke kill battle can still be accomplished in the rules as they exist.

The Iaijutsu kata is pretty lacking in terms of dueling, since in its current state it only provides a +1 bonus to damage if using the traditional katana, but at least the devs are aware that it needs work.

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11 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

It sounds like, at least for the beta, that Iaijutsu duels are no longer the cultural "default" for duels of honor, and that duels in this version are more aligned with the notion of western duels (back and forth until your foe is defeated) rather than the single-round competition that they generally were in prior editions.

I don't recall who it was, but in another thread someone posted what I think would be a good correction to bring iaijutsu duels more in line with what they generally should be (a single stroke contest vs. whaling away at one another)

Duel to First Strike - first participant to make a successful combat check to strike the target is the victor.

Duel to First Blood - first participant to inflict wounds or a critical strike to the target is the victor, though critical strike is still going to hamper the target if it comes from a finishing blow.

Duel to the Death - probably good as is, since a finishing blow and opportunities for critical strikes can result in death, and most of those tend to go into a skirmish after the initial exchange of blows.  And with the Kakita Duelist technique (at least if I'm reading it right), a finishing blow can be pushed up from Maiming Blow to an Agonizing Death, so the single-stroke kill battle can still be accomplished in the rules as they exist.

The Iaijutsu kata is pretty lacking in terms of dueling, since in its current state it only provides a +1 bonus to damage if using the traditional katana, but at least the devs are aware that it needs work.

That was Veruca who said that. And like you just said is an improvement overall of the whole process.

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18 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

It sounds like, at least for the beta, that Iaijutsu duels are no longer the cultural "default" for duels of honor, and that duels in this version are more aligned with the notion of western duels (back and forth until your foe is defeated) rather than the single-round competition that they generally were in prior editions.

I think its more that the Dueling rules are for more than just Iaijutsu Duels.

The incongruity is in the descriptions rather than the rules for the most part.

First Strike duels seem to be based on Kendo match scoring based on the description, but would be suitable for a Iaijutsu Duel to first blood.

First Blood duels are more duel till yield by mechanics than to first blood the description states.

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Historical Japan has a number of precedents for "Duels by means other than the blade"...

Plus, a few cases of "showed up for a duel to the death with a bokken". And a number of cases of "Showed up, bowed, admitted defeat, and walked away." In one case, a battle (hopeless, at that) delayed for some time by a duel.

The norm was "The threat of a duel kept behavior in check"... but historically, one had to have one's daimyō's permission for a duel past first blood. Even then, if one was injured severely, it was a dishonor.

Still, the fiction of the eras in question and the modern fiction they inspire play up the duels.

And, in 3E, dueling wasn't limited to just Iaijutsu/Iaido. Mechanics for arts duels weren't in the core that I recall, but were in one of the supplements. success with most raises wins. But options to build up to it.

Arts Duels were also mentioned in Way of the Crane, back in the late 1st/early 2nd era.

Non-combat duels need to be addressed - because they are (1) part of historical Japan, (2) because they are good drama , and (3) are well established to be a part of the Rokugani setting.

 

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Personally, while I like the Duel rules for actions (Center, Strike, and Provoke), I feel that certain other elements inside the rules need to be overhauled. The ability to enter a Duel in the middle of a Skirmish or Mass Battle? Awesome, though.

I think the definitions of the Duels should be:

  • Duel to the First Blow - First successful Strike action wins.
  • Duel to the First Blood - First successful critical strike wins.
  • Duel to the Death - First person to die loses.

Duels to the First Blood may cause Wounds before a winner is determined, but they do not cause injuries. These are near misses and superficial damage to sleeves or armor. And yes, you can wear your opponent down and get in your Critical Strike, but achieving a Finishing Blow is just as decisive. Dueling should be inherently dangerous, and while a skilled opponent may choose to leave you alive in a Duel to the First Blood, the risk should always be there for the unskilled duelist to accidentally get lucky and kill a master (because the DRAMA!).

Mind you, this would need two small modifications to the current rules. First, Earth Stance would need to be scaled back (which I have argued in other places) from being immune to Critical Strikes from Opportunities to increasing the cost of Opportunities used to inflict Critical Strikes, Ongoing Effects, and Strife by 1. Optionally the second one would be making the Finishing Blow a choice if the person wants to double their Deadliness. This would make Duels to the First Blood slightly less accidentally risky, but no less deadly when the person wants to kill you.

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