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sushicaddy

Duels

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I really like the new duel rules.  The change from "All duels are iaijutsu duels" to "All duels are formal contests between two people" feels really good.  The image of a Kakita duelist standing with her sword sheathed clad in hakama and sarashi, facing a massive tetsubo wielded by an even more massive Hida bushi clad head to toe in lacquered purple and grey armor, really resonates with me.  This changes lets all the clans feel like their clan in a duel, rather than everyone trying to copy the kakita and failing.

I really like how duels are structured, there are many ways to try to fight a duel, but most of the successful strategies seem to revolve around strife economy.  Even a duel to the first hit is a strife battle, because yes, you will be doing your best to go first... if you ever go over your composure, you auto-lose.  There are so many mind-games and ways to set up a win in a duel, it makes it all very exciting.  My favorite part of the new duels is that no duel is for certain. 

Now, there are ways to stack duels in your favor.  In an sort of attrition battle, you want to be able to heal yourself and hurt your enemy.  This makes water  and fire extremely important in duels.  The next most important are void, as void can make it so you to not suffer strife from your own action.  Then earth which can reduce strife... but only a little bit, and not nearly as well as water.

The least useful ring in a duel is air.  Sure, it can let you know how much strife your opponent has, but no way to do anything about it.  Air can be useful at the beginning to set a base line on their own strife, but against someone who is using water to just keep resetting their own strife levels, or fire to make your rise like crazy, air it not useful at all. the loss of a turn of 

Now, lets look at the best duelists in the empire.  Without a doubt, the best duelists in the empire are Matsu of the Ikoma bard school. They are full up on water and fire, and can still get a 2 of void.  Further more, their school ability lets them load up an opponent with strife while reducing their own, and they can even use their school ability in a duel when they use the "provoke" action.  When it comes to strife manipulation, the Ikoma bard school has no match.  This seems to me to clash with the fiction a little.  While the Lion DO stress martial readiness in all their samurai, having a non-bushi being the pinnacle of dueling seem extreme.   ESPECIALLY because dueling is depicted as one of the few martial achillies heels that the lion have.

A Hida bushi can be good, as they can use their two rings to keep their strife low while swinging for the bleachers, and if they wear armor they can survive until their opponent pops from strife (unless they are from the ikoma bard school).  A togashi monk can also be quite good, especially with a lotus tattoo and a high fire.

The school that is objectively the worst at dueling would be the school with the two least useful rings, air and earth. 

Which school is that, you ask?

The Kakita duelist school.

I outlined in a different thread how I think the iaijutsu kata is useless for a duelist... but even without that, the Kakita duelist academy churns out arguably the worst duelists in all Rokugan.  In my simulations so far the Lion courtiers DESTROY them, as do Hida bushi and Togashi monks.  Rank 1 bushi of most clans have an edge on them, as out of the gate Kakita are at an disadvantage when it comes to dueling.

How to fix this?  Well, there are a bunch of possible ways I can think of (i'm not suggesting all, but perhaps a combination).

1.  re-write air opportunities to be more useful in duels

2. Give kakita duelists a technique(s) that makes air more useful in duels (or that generally increases Kakita duelists utility in duels)

3. Change the +1 earth bonus the school gives into literally anything else

4. Give kakita duelists a bonus to deadliness instead of critical strike roll.

Like I said in a different thread, remember that dueling (or clashing in a battle) is what the Crane DO in battle.  They don't have cavalry like the Unicorn, they don't have fire breathing monks like the Dragon, they don't have battle-shugenja like the Phoenix, they don't have the best soldiers and strategists in Rokugan like the Lion, the don't have a network of spies, informants, saboteurs and ******* ninja like the Scorpion, and they don't have heavily armored berserkers like the Crab.  Dueling and clashing with a high rate of success is the only thing that keeps the Crane from always getting steamrolled by everyone else when it comes to battle.  The crane SHOULD have an advantage when it comes to dueling.  The prowess of Kakita duelists is in all of the fiction, and mechanics should reflect the fiction.

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Honestly I think the entire dueling system as written needs to just be completely scrapped and they need to start over.  What's currently written feels like a badly designed method to replicate western-styled fencing duels as opposed to the "one strike" duels of classic samurai lore, upon which L5R was based.

Instead, handle it a bit more like how 4e L5R did, in that you've got one set of fairly streamlined rules for iaijutsu dueling (which is the standard for such matters), a set of similarly streamlined rules for shugenja dueling, and then treat non-conventional duels as opposed skill checks, and that whichever PC scores the most successes wins the "duel"

Since most duels are only going to involve one PC at a given time, there's no need for an overly complicated system that leaves the rest of the group sitting around twiddling their thumbs while the PC that's involved in the duel goes back and forth in resolving the duel.

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A: Kakita arent necessary duel masters. they are iaijutsu masters. You scrap one thing, guess what happens to the other?

B: Fire + Air gives you Focus. Earth + Fire Gives you composure. Starting is important, being able to take strife before you kill your opponent is important too. A Kakita will have Air 3, Earth 2 and fire 2 at minimum.

At chargen he can have Focus 6 (huge initiative) and Composure 10.

Anyway i think all bushi schools give earth. For good reason, Kakita bushi shouldnt be different.

 

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The Ikoma Bard technique requires use of a Social group Skill in order to increase someone's Strife. The Provoke Action in a Duel uses the Martial Arts skill, and the Air Stance would increase the TN of it targeting you. While the Ikoma Bard is good at pushing their opponent through Social manipulation, increasing their Strife and trying to trigger a Finishing Blow, the Kakita's strong defenses (as shown above) will make them difficult to do that to. The Kakita's best bet is to continue taking the Center action and keep trying to increase their opponent's Strife, with either Void Stance to keep their own down or Water Stance to heal their Strife.

The Kakita School ability makes a character a DEADLIER duelist, or a more controlled duelist. A Rank 2 Kakita Duelist can, for example, make their Katana a Deadliness of either 9 or 3 (Base 5, +2 two handed or not, + or - 2 for Special Ability). This pushes them to Deadliness 18 during a Finishing Blow, which requires at least 6 Successed on the Fitness roll not to be Dying.

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Can crescent moon style be used in a duel? If so, isn't the optimal strategy to Center oneself in Fire Stance, try raise your opponents strife, take crescent moon attacks of opportunity, and then Finish them off if/when they crack? A high-fire skilled bushi who Centers themselves in fire stance is **** near unhittable, no?

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3 hours ago, Mobiusllls said:

A: Kakita arent necessary duel masters. they are iaijutsu masters. You scrap one thing, guess what happens to the other?

B: Fire + Air gives you Focus. Earth + Fire Gives you composure. Starting is important, being able to take strife before you kill your opponent is important too. A Kakita will have Air 3, Earth 2 and fire 2 at minimum.

At chargen he can have Focus 6 (huge initiative) and Composure 10.

Anyway i think all bushi schools give earth. For good reason, Kakita bushi shouldnt be different.

 

A: "Although some might critique such single-minded dedication, the Kakita Duelists are the best duelists in the Empire." -- Pg. 34

B: Composure 10 is pretty good, but not being good at reducing one's own strife is a much larger handicap in a duel than a lower composure.  Furthermore, going first is not that much of a help since a quick first attack won't be disabling, and a large amount of effort into a first quick strike will likely increase one's own strife more than injure your opponent, giving them a lead in the strife economy.  Iaijutsu is crap for duels, and unless the duel is to first strike, the duel will go poorly for the crane.  Being as in the fiction duels are how crane often win battles before they begin, these are not mechanics that follow the fiction.  It also means that the strategy of a Kakita will be "attack first, attack often" which is again, not in line with the "one strike, one kill" in the fiction.

Why should some Bushi not be different than others? That sounds incredibly boring.  Anyway, the Daidoji would be a great school for Air +1 Earth +1.  

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3 hours ago, sndwurks said:

The Ikoma Bard technique requires use of a Social group Skill in order to increase someone's Strife. The Provoke Action in a Duel uses the Martial Arts skill, and the Air Stance would increase the TN of it targeting you. While the Ikoma Bard is good at pushing their opponent through Social manipulation, increasing their Strife and trying to trigger a Finishing Blow, the Kakita's strong defenses (as shown above) will make them difficult to do that to. The Kakita's best bet is to continue taking the Center action and keep trying to increase their opponent's Strife, with either Void Stance to keep their own down or Water Stance to heal their Strife.

The Kakita School ability makes a character a DEADLIER duelist, or a more controlled duelist. A Rank 2 Kakita Duelist can, for example, make their Katana a Deadliness of either 9 or 3 (Base 5, +2 two handed or not, + or - 2 for Special Ability). This pushes them to Deadliness 18 during a Finishing Blow, which requires at least 6 Successed on the Fitness roll not to be Dying.

Kakita school increases the value of a critical strike, not the deadliness of a weapon.  They still can increase the deadliness of a finishing blow, but not by 2 x school rank.  Since the extra successes of the finishing blow attack also increase the value of the critical strike, +2 from the school is nice, but a finishing blow value of 16 is certainly attainable for all bushi of all schools, especially those of the second rank.

The finishing blow is deadly for everyone.  Making sure YOU are the one who gives the finishing blow is the task, and it is one that the Kakita are not optimized for.

The Kakita duelist school has nothing that increases Void, Fire or Water.  You have correctly identified that center stance with fire, water, or void are winning strategies, but Kakita dualists don't have any of those unless they are from the Kakita or Asahina families.  I agree that Kakita duelists SHOULD be air specialists, but the rules as written makes air the least useful ring in the strife economy game that is dueling.

Maybe there will be something in the full game with will make Kakita duelist terrifying at dueling.  Maybe there are techniques that make them crazy good, or there is more to dueling than we see here.  Maybe there are more than just 2 school techniques?  I'm not sure.  But right now RAW is that they fare very poorly in my simulations.

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2 hours ago, Rawls said:

Can crescent moon style be used in a duel? If so, isn't the optimal strategy to Center oneself in Fire Stance, try raise your opponents strife, take crescent moon attacks of opportunity, and then Finish them off if/when they crack? A high-fire skilled bushi who Centers themselves in fire stance is **** near unhittable, no?

Only by Attack actions. Scheme actions are not effected by Center.

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8 hours ago, sushicaddy said:

They are full up on water and fire, and can still get a 2 of void.  Further more, their school ability lets them load up an opponent with strife while reducing their own, and they can even use their school ability in a duel when they use the "provoke" action.  When it comes to strife manipulation, the Ikoma bard school has no match.  This seems to me to clash with the fiction a little.

How? Provoke in a duel is a martial arts check, not 'a check using a social skill'.

 

8 hours ago, sushicaddy said:

The school that is objectively the worst at dueling would be the school with the two least useful rings, air and earth. 

Which school is that, you ask?

The Kakita duelist school.

I'll agree earth isn't great - because tanking damage isn't actually that useful in a nothing-nothing-nothing-autocriticalofdeath duel (or clash) but then Earth is consistently a property of all bushi schools.

Is air worth it? Well, if you've played through, fair enough, but it surprises me; air stance's automatic passive TN3-to-hit-with-scheme-or-attack seems like a good default stance for a duellist, especially backed up with a centre action.

8 hours ago, sushicaddy said:

Give kakita duelists a bonus to deadliness instead of critical strike roll.

Hmm.. Given that it applies to every critical they do, I don't think it needs to double-down in finishing blows as well. Not to put too fine a point on it, a finishing blow by a rank 1 kakita duellist is almost inevitably going to be delivered by a double-handed katana, meaning (throwing in their school ability) a starting severity of 15. Even with three successes on a fitness test, you're still dead.

8 hours ago, sushicaddy said:

re-write air opportunities to be more useful in duels

Now that's a fair observation; the 'learn a target's current strife and demeanour' is nice but (a) something that generally you only need to do once, and (b) something you can't generally do anything with - not at least without two opportunity to pull from water or fire.

The Air Martial Opportunity is so-so and not really for one-blow-duels - it's good for 'forcing' a specific ring critical (either to hamstring an opponent's ability to use a ring-specific technique or to double-down on a previously inflicted critical), but the opportunity is often needed to get the critical in the first place.

 

 

How do the Kakita keep losing? I mean; you've played through duels, I haven't. I'm not questioning that they do, but what actually happens?

 

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7 hours ago, sushicaddy said:

A: "Although some might critique such single-minded dedication, the Kakita Duelists are the best duelists in the Empire." -- Pg. 34

B: Composure 10 is pretty good, but not being good at reducing one's own strife is a much larger handicap in a duel than a lower composure.  Furthermore, going first is not that much of a help since a quick first attack won't be disabling, and a large amount of effort into a first quick strike will likely increase one's own strife more than injure your opponent, giving them a lead in the strife economy.  Iaijutsu is crap for duels, and unless the duel is to first strike, the duel will go poorly for the crane.  Being as in the fiction duels are how crane often win battles before they begin, these are not mechanics that follow the fiction.  It also means that the strategy of a Kakita will be "attack first, attack often" which is again, not in line with the "one strike, one kill" in the fiction.

Why should some Bushi not be different than others? That sounds incredibly boring.  Anyway, the Daidoji would be a great school for Air +1 Earth +1.  

Because a bushi with the physical fitness and resistance of a 8 year girl would be strange. (Remember that a ring with score 1 is bad.)

And actually. Combats are fast, and if they are not there is only a single reason for it and its called Parrying.  And they even work with finishing blow that everyone on this board think its so lethal.

I'm actually trying to find reasons in the book to not allow a finishing blow being parried, didnt find any so far (Please do tell me if you find it, im being honest here). its also the reason i made a thread (with 0 answers so far) if its harder to parry a Kakita or not. And if it does, The Kakita get even more lethal (at rank 3 and forward) on critical strikes, by virtue of denying their opponents ways to mitigate their high number at the critical strike table.

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18 minutes ago, Mobiusllls said:

Because a bushi with the physical fitness and resistance of a 8 year girl would be strange. (Remember that a ring with score 1 is bad.)

And actually. Combats are fast, and if they are not there is only a single reason for it and its called Parrying.  And they even work with finishing blow that everyone on this board think its so lethal.

I'm actually trying to find reasons in the book to not allow a finishing blow being parried, didnt find any so far (Please do tell me if you find it, im being honest here). its also the reason i made a thread (with 0 answers so far) if its harder to parry a Kakita or not. And if it does, The Kakita get even more lethal (at rank 3 and forward) on critical strikes, by virtue of denying their opponents ways to mitigate their high number at the critical strike table.

Ultimately, no, anyone can parry a finishing blow. The only reason you wouldn't be able to is the lack of a void point to spend.

At the moment, sadly, no, there is no reason that it's harder to parry an attack from a Kakita duellist (sorry, didn't see the thread).

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I could see the case of someone suggesting that Way of the Crane let you increase or decrease severity at the resolution (then would be after parry). But i dont know what would be balanced and what not.

Finishing strikes arent looking all that finishing at all. if i can turn your 14 Severity strike at a 4 severity strike at the cost of my katana (And then, i can have a durable katana, and be okay with it.)

Of course, not spending your void point to use it is important, but you have good reason to save... since its your life you know.

Edited by Mobiusllls

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The easiest way to fix this is an overhaul of the dualist school. They should be focused on single combat and dualing, so their school should reflect that strength and the accompanying weaknesses.

Also remember that outside duals in a battlefield condition, most duals do not include armor. They are very formalized.

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4 hours ago, SideshowLucifer said:

The easiest way to fix this is an overhaul of the dualist school. They should be focused on single combat and dualing, so their school should reflect that strength and the accompanying weaknesses.

Also remember that outside duals in a battlefield condition, most duals do not include armor. They are very formalized.

To an extent, it's not the end of the world if you are armoured anyway - the Finishing Blow, Heartpiercing Strike and Strike With No Thought (there of the iconic katana duel techniques) all jump straight to criticals without requiring damage to be inflicted, making them functionally 'armour-piercing'.

 

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On 10/11/2017 at 1:02 AM, Magnus Grendel said:

How do the Kakita keep losing? I mean; you've played through duels, I haven't. I'm not questioning that they do, but what actually happens?

 

Most often they lose the strife battle and give up the first finishing blow.  If they do not attack on the first round, strife manipulation usually leads to a finishing blow on them, or a situation where there is such a disparity in strife totals that the opponent takes control of the duel.  If the Kakita does strike on the first round, it rarely leads to the opponent dropping (especially if the Kakita is using iaijutsu). The opponent can often retaliate in water stance to drop their own strife totals, spend strife to go first in the next round (which the Kakita cannot match because they have no good way to drop strife totals), and finish the Kakita off with a second strike. 
 

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On 10/11/2017 at 6:11 AM, Mobiusllls said:

Because a bushi with the physical fitness and resistance of a 8 year girl would be strange. (Remember that a ring with score 1 is bad.)

Throughout the fiction we see Kakita duelists portrayed as "weak" or "effeminate" in the eyes of other bushi.  It infuriates the Crab and Lion to have these slender artists routinely defeat them in duels, as they are not seen as warriors by those militaristic clans.  Kakita duelists ARE strange amongst the bushi of Rokugan.  I would submit that in many ways they have more in common with monk characters than other bushi.  Their ways are indeed strange to most other bushi, a sharp stiletto to be used on court, not a hammer to be used on the battlefield.  On the battlefield they win by clashing by individual samurai, not by cutting their way through hordes of ashigaru.  Daidoji iron warriors and Asahina archers are more at home on a battlefield that the duelist. The very fact that their main bushi school is one that is mostly useful in court shows what the true strength of the Crane is, in politics.  Politics and duels is how they keep the Lion and crab from wiping them out of existence, not so much their extreme prowess in the field of battle.

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9 hours ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

The new Iaijutsu Cut:Rising Blade Kata should change that.

And the change to earth/water opportunities and water stance means centre actions are the key source of strife (meaning the Kakita's with their extra rank of meditation should have an edge).

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Pre-patch Kakita were pretty good at dueling, but they didnt play the Center game - the proper way to Crane duel was to keep attacking since turn 1 in Air Stance, and keeping your TN to be hit at ridiculous levels due to Striking As Air. If your opponent Centered instead of attacking you back, you should just provoke a Finishing Blow during Staredown - your TN to be hit of 5 or 6 should make any "keep 3" Finishing Blow simply whiff. 

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16 hours ago, sushicaddy said:

Throughout the fiction we see Kakita duelists portrayed as "weak" or "effeminate" in the eyes of other bushi.  It infuriates the Crab and Lion to have these slender artists routinely defeat them in duels, as they are not seen as warriors by those militaristic clans.  Kakita duelists ARE strange amongst the bushi of Rokugan.  I would submit that in many ways they have more in common with monk characters than other bushi.  Their ways are indeed strange to most other bushi, a sharp stiletto to be used on court, not a hammer to be used on the battlefield.  On the battlefield they win by clashing by individual samurai, not by cutting their way through hordes of ashigaru.  Daidoji iron warriors and Asahina archers are more at home on a battlefield that the duelist. The very fact that their main bushi school is one that is mostly useful in court shows what the true strength of the Crane is, in politics.  Politics and duels is how they keep the Lion and crab from wiping them out of existence, not so much their extreme prowess in the field of battle.

Lets agree to disagree. Even if you consider that Kakita are effeminated in the eye of other bushi(I do not agree.) taking away their Earth ring bonus (that all the bushi have, due to being bushi, which makes sense) would actually make this a Fact. Kakitas would be weak and effeminated as supported by rules.

No comment about the focus being on Iaijutsu and Politics, this is obviously correct, But i found stupid to think that the Crane are pushover on the battlefield, specially if you consider that on real life, maneuvering and having supplies is big part on winning wars and battles. Help me a bit, i was never a L5R nerd, arent the Crane lands really good? Think they would be fine on the supply part.

35 minutes ago, WHW said:

Pre-patch Kakita were pretty good at dueling, but they didnt play the Center game - the proper way to Crane duel was to keep attacking since turn 1 in Air Stance, and keeping your TN to be hit at ridiculous levels due to Striking As Air. If your opponent Centered instead of attacking you back, you should just provoke a Finishing Blow during Staredown - your TN to be hit of 5 or 6 should make any "keep 3" Finishing Blow simply whiff. 

Its one way to go, didnt changed too much. Not sure if its the best one. Still think being a Hida is the best option. With a Kakita i would rather fish for criticals than to make the fight drag on, honestly.

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1 hour ago, Mobiusllls said:

Lets agree to disagree. Even if you consider that Kakita are effeminated in the eye of other bushi(I do not agree.) taking away their Earth ring bonus (that all the bushi have, due to being bushi, which makes sense) would actually make this a Fact. Kakitas would be weak and effeminated as supported by rules.

No comment about the focus being on Iaijutsu and Politics, this is obviously correct, But i found stupid to think that the Crane are pushover on the battlefield, specially if you consider that on real life, maneuvering and having supplies is big part on winning wars and battles. Help me a bit, i was never a L5R nerd, arent the Crane lands really good? Think they would be fine on the supply part.

The Crane in general are not weak militarily. The Daidoji in particular are a force to be reckoned with. Kakita duelists however are not at home on the battlefield. Their style is not at home in the chaos of full-on battle. And the Crane, despite not being pushovers, can’t keep up with the big three military powers that are the Lion, Crab and Unicorn: if they were to get into a war with any if these, the strategy is to fight defensively and not get beaten decisively until they can arrange for a political solution.

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True, also don’t forget that when you see a Kakita on the battlefield, sometimes a Kenshinzen is to challenge the opposing general or leading officer to a duel, sending back the enemy forces if they win.

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I wouldn't call a entire unit of Kenshizen (A Kenshizen is a elite bushi to the very least) weak on the battlefield. They are just worth more at duels. But yeah, Classic Crane tactics is the General (probably a Duelist) challenging the other General to a duel (and he is probably not a duelist). The minimum you get is reducing enemy morale because the general is not ready to die for his army, if it works, well you should have the advantage based on the fact that your Clan proud itself on having the best duelists in Rokugan.

I dont disagree with either of you on these points, like i said, i just dont think that Kakita Bushi should come off the chargen with Earth 1 and Water 1. That would give them a extremely low "health pool" to a Bushi. and this would effect them real bad at current duel rules.

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6 hours ago, Mobiusllls said:

I wouldn't call a entire unit of Kenshizen (A Kenshizen is a elite bushi to the very least) weak on the battlefield. They are just worth more at duels.

They’re not just elite, they’re also extremely rare due to how hard it is to be accepted as a student. I doubt a unit of Kenshinzen could even be assembled on the battlefield if the Crane wanted to, and they have absolutely no reason for that. 

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5 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

They’re not just elite, they’re also extremely rare due to how hard it is to be accepted as a student. I doubt a unit of Kenshinzen could even be assembled on the battlefield if the Crane wanted to, and they have absolutely no reason for that. 

And yet, in Clan War, up to two units of 20 models per unit... must be lead by a personality with a glory of 5+...(CW DE 173)...

Similar to the Ise Zumi limit... but you can only attach 32 unnamed Ise Zume, while you can get all 40 unnamed Kenshinzen. Plus named ones. 

Many of us, our Rokugan seems much less populated than the 2nd Edition AEG version...

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