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Hello Everyone!

After reading through the forums, I don't see a good spot to put doctrine discussions.  So...I'll put this here and move it/remove it if requested to do so.

Of Iaijutsu
Let me start off by saying that I'm going to talk about a problem with Iaijutsu reaching back to before the 1st Edition RPG came out.  Also, I'm going to source in some of my own training in Iai, Chinese philosophy, and martial arts.  I will (eventually) get around to the current iteration of Iaijutsu, but that will be a bit further down.

In the 1st Edition fiction, there is an implicit understanding of the variance between Iaido (the way of being present, a doctrine which is extended into a strategic understanding of kenjutsu by Kakita) and Iaijutsu (the specific techniques of kenjutsu aligned by Kakita into waza which he executed in response to emerging operational requirements - in this case, winning sword-fights).  His answers to Lady Doji's questions (for example) demonstrate the way of being present in action in other fields.  As does Lady Doji's discussions with Shinsei, but let's set that aside for now.

In the mechanics of 1st Edition, Iaijutsu is a distinct skill from Kenjustu, rather than either someone's individual style (as expressed perhaps through a combination of Advantages and Techniques) or as a set of tactical implementations of doctrine (mechanically a technique).  This was done for a couple of reasons - some obvious (having a separate dueling mechanic) some less so (the need to explain why Crane cards had high Chi and low Force).  Both were solvable in different ways...

Anyway.  From here things get dicey, mostly because we take this design decision and embrace it for the next twenty years as an involute separation.  One which, oddly enough, actually cripples multiple Clans along the way.

Iaido: The Way of Being Present
The Way of Being Present is, first and foremost, the idea that one lives in the here and now, to the absolute fullest, with every moment being the summation of a life well lived.  It is embodied to some extent in the code of Bushido, and expressed clearly in the quote on Toshimoko's card "For the coward there is no life, for the hero there is no death."

Stated as such, it is clear that Iaido is the precursor to Iaijutsu (techniques of being present in a sword fight).  One could learn to fight with a sword (kenjutsu) or a spear (sojutsu) and apply the idea of Iai to that skill.  One could apply other ideas - the Principal of Resistance, Mobility, Spatial Control....the list isn't exactly endless, but it's deep enough.

Iaido as Doctrine
So, what then makes Iaido unique as a doctrine?  I would argue for the following, though other interpretations are clearly possible and discussed endlessly..

  1. To be present in the now - is to be empty of preconceptions, aware of the possibilities stretching forth from it, and select the desired outcome
  2. The summary of a life - everything is brought forth, nothing held back or in reserve.  The commitment to the moment is absolute, for it is only in THIS moment that one can act.

Doctrine is not directly translated into strategy, tactics, or operations but influences the space from which the practitioner develops and selects responses.  In the case of L5R, one might imagine any number of new options using the L5R beta framework.

Iai and Dueling
Lady Doji defeated Shiba in the Tournament of Heavens.  Kakita defeated everyone (including Matsu, shamefully due to her disrespect for her opponents) in the first Tournament of the Emerald Champion.  Obviously, the doctrine of Iaido brings with it (in L5R verse) some advantage in the world of dueling.

The advantage could be strategic, tactical, or operational - that is, related to one's control of the engagement, one's preparations and prepared responses to the engagement, or one's ability to exploit how the engagement emerges.

As described, I would argue that Iaido brings both strategic and operational advantages:

  1. The strategic ability to predict and intercept actions at their emergence (empty of preconceptions, aware of the possibilities, and select the desired outcome)
  2. The operational ability to project sudden force in an attempt to overwhelm to opponent (nothing held back)

The second would have to be tempered by the realities of the specific techniques being employed - physics is still a thing, even in the world of Rokugan.  Or is it?  To what extent do we allow the spirit of a mortal man to overcome fate and physics, to perform a heroic moment and pay the price afterwards?  That's a design decision, I suppose, and not suited to this conversation.

Meanwhile, the first point brings us to the question of speed.  Was Kakita faster than the others?  Or was he just able to predict their movement before they began and strike AS they started their movement?

Iaijutsu and Fighting: The Techniques of Being Present (in a sword fight)
What we think of as the Kakita style (Iaijutsu) is a translation of Iaido into kenjutsu, which was then bound into patterned responses (waza) which could be practiced by others.  These would have to be adapted to the physical realities of the individual practitioners (their height, speed, emotional control, situational awareness, etc.).  It may have become rigid over the years (as suggested in some fiction).

However, here we encounter our first chance to talk about rules.  If, in 1st Edition, we had considered the Force of a card to represent it's battlefield presence and it's Chi to represent its personal combat ability, we may have come to a different understanding of Iaijutsu mechanically.

In a combat, using the doctrine as described, we might imagine an iaijutsu practitioner moving in fits and starts, pausing to assess then shifting and striking where the opponent will be, not where they are.  An outside observer might not notice much difference in speed between the participants, but for his opponents the practitioner seems to be moving at blinding speed.

Iaijutsu and Dueling
Here we run into an interesting intersection of doctrine and real life.  If part of the Iaido doctrine is to select the desired outcome (point 1, part 3) then, between two warriors of equal skill, the two will face each other and play out the conflict over and over again in their minds, looking for a moment of weakness.  Only when one appears will one or the other move to strike a decisive blow.

Side note: You see this play out in the fiction with the duel between Kakita and Mirumoto's son.  You can also see a great example of the interplay in the movie "The Swordmaster", available on Netflix.

However, the limit to this is the practitioner's practical knowledge of the specific skill in question.  If I don't know how to use a sword, I will have a great deal of trouble predicting how a swordsman will move.  If I don't know poetic form, then I will not be able to recognize and intercept my opponent's offerings.  The limit of one's Iaido is the limit of one's breath and depth of knowledge.  Similarly, an opponent of superior skill will be able to create options and opportunities the practitioner cannot understand until too late.

Finally, Mechanical Comments!
So, what does this have to do with anything?  Not much, I'm just typing away at some thoughts.

OKAY, not entirely true.  I would argue for two things:

1) Iaijutsu can easily be broken up (as FFG is doing now) into multiple pieces.  I would argue that these should reflect Iaido, and be limited by the skill the character channels the piece through rather than specific to dueling

2) Duels are more interactive now (which is good) but lack the mental interplay one sees (and feels) at higher levels of conflict.  Watch a judo grandmaster's match, or two older practitioners circling one another, watching, waiting, then finally one moves.  The "techniques" they use are not that different from what any student does, but their timing and positioning is...something else entirely.

In some ways, a duel is a battle of wills in which both parties seek to open and hold on to opportunities long enough to exploit them.  That idea may be worth exploring in greater detail mechanically, given the options available in the dice mechanics.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

1) Iaijutsu can easily be broken up (as FFG is doing now) into multiple pieces.  I would argue that these should reflect Iaido, and be limited by the skill the character channels the piece through rather than specific to dueling

There may be the basis for a few Shuji (i.e. non-Attack techniques) in there.

3 hours ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

2) Duels are more interactive now (which is good) but lack the mental interplay one sees (and feels) at higher levels of conflict.  Watch a judo grandmaster's match, or two older practitioners circling one another, watching, waiting, then finally one moves.  The "techniques" they use are not that different from what any student does, but their timing and positioning is...something else entirely.

In some ways, a duel is a battle of wills in which both parties seek to open and hold on to opportunities long enough to exploit them.  That idea may be worth exploring in greater detail mechanically, given the options available in the dice mechanics.

I may be missing something but I'm pretty certain that this is the point behind the Center, Provoke and Use Skill (for triggering Shuji) actions of Duels.

 

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2 minutes ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

I may be missing something but I'm pretty certain that this is the point behind the Center, Provoke and Use Skill (for triggering Shuji) actions of Duels.

 

To your second point - I agree in part, but due to a separate design decision (the camera focus on the dice pool) the effect seems somewhat blunted in terms of its actual play impact.  Changing camera focus at this late date would be more than challenging; it would be catastrophic to FFGs design and I therefore do not recommend it.

However, in the spirit of the discussion, there might be a way to exploit the camera focus to better realize the interplay in play.  I'm not that clever myself, but I'm sure someone else can come up with approaches that might work. 

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57 minutes ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

To your second point - I agree in part, but due to a separate design decision (the camera focus on the dice pool) the effect seems somewhat blunted in terms of its actual play impact.  Changing camera focus at this late date would be more than challenging; it would be catastrophic to FFGs design and I therefore do not recommend it.

However, in the spirit of the discussion, there might be a way to exploit the camera focus to better realize the interplay in play.  I'm not that clever myself, but I'm sure someone else can come up with approaches that might work. 

I see the focus in duels less on the dice pool and more on the mind game with both participants trying to inflicting strife on each other until one of them exceeds their composure in order to trigger a Finishing Blow. The basic mind game is fairly simple (as it should be) and the high end is fairly complex, but the intermediate ranks are fairly barren.

Feign Opening would work as a pretty good alternative to Provoke, but explicitly only works in skirmishes and mass battles. Other good Shuji, such as Fanning the Flames (which allows Social (Fire) checks to inflict Dazed and Enraged) and Bend with the Storm (makes your opponent think falsely that you have a certain advantage/disadvantage), are rank 4 or 5.

 

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10 minutes ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

I see the focus in duels less on the dice pool and more on the mind game with both participants trying to inflicting strife on each other until one of them exceeds their composure in order to trigger a Finishing Blow. The basic mind game is fairly simple (as it should be) and the high end is fairly complex, but the intermediate ranks are fairly barren.

Feign Opening would work as a pretty good alternative to Provoke, but explicitly only works in skirmishes and mass battles. Other good Shuji, such as Fanning the Flames (which allows Social (Fire) checks to inflict Dazed and Enraged) and Bend with the Storm (makes your opponent think falsely that you have a certain advantage/disadvantage), are rank 4 or 5.

 

Not entirely sure I agree with your assessment re: dice pool; the accumulation of strife on your side as you take actions is as central to your play as the strife you build in the opponent.  That's a matter of balance, however, and I haven't either a) played enough or b) taken the time to build a sufficiently sophisticated simulator to come to a conclusion there.

To your second point, (In your opinion) is that a feature of the design, a challenge of the beta, or a result of the system being new?

On a less theoretical level, I'm not yet convinced about the build up of strife as the central dueling mechanic.  That's a separate issue from points one and two above, potentially resolved through the changes applied to the strife/unmasking mechanic.  I'd rather see an opportunity-based mechanic thematically, but haven't yet come up with a good implementation.  Thus, writing about doctrine as a place to start.

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1 hour ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

Not entirely sure I agree with your assessment re: dice pool; the accumulation of strife on your side as you take actions is as central to your play as the strife you build in the opponent.  That's a matter of balance, however, and I haven't either a) played enough or b) taken the time to build a sufficiently sophisticated simulator to come to a conclusion there.

The strife on dice is less important than strife from elsewhere in a duel.

The staredown is going to be a major source of strife every round as both participants bid strife to determine that rounds initiative order and try to second guess each other.

Predicting your opponents next stance when using Center will be another major source of strife to inflict.

You might get some Strife from various rolls in Air, Fire, Earth and rarely Water stance (but in Water Stance you are likely using your bonus action to reduce Strife with a Calming Breath and opportunities), but the focus will be more on what stances, actions and opportunities the participants are using rather than whomever is rolling more Strife on their dice.

1 hour ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

To your second point, (In your opinion) is that a feature of the design, a challenge of the beta, or a result of the system being new?

Result of the system being new. Right now Shuji are covering a variety of things. The list has tactical actions, court maneuvers and non-physical combat actions all under one technique heading. Limiting the Shuji to 8 of each element also doesn't help.

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Only thing i tought that is close to what you guys are saying, Is basically make every turn give a x ammount of strife to the fighters and remove the Attack option from the duel. That way everything you do (provoke,center,use something) would happen in the factual staredown phase. you determine that once someone attacks the katana was draw and the duel "started". If the first to attack wins, Okay. if not you could give a huge bonus so the second guy would win on his attack.  if both guys suck, congratulations, draw.

But also wouldnt work well with the chassis of the system. (at least would need more elaborate changes than the ones did in the first update.)

19 hours ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

1) Iaijutsu can easily be broken up (as FFG is doing now) into multiple pieces.  I would argue that these should reflect Iaido, and be limited by the skill the character channels the piece through rather than specific to dueling

in any case, i dont see Iaijutsu being broken by FFG. what do you mean with that? You dont have a iaijutsu skill anymore (Unfortunately). They only put a kata before because people would miss it if this edition deleted the existence of Iaijutsu completely. now they gave us one more iaijutsu technique. We have three and its looking like this will be final to me.

19 hours ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

2) Duels are more interactive now (which is good) but lack the mental interplay one sees (and feels) at higher levels of conflict.  Watch a judo grandmaster's match, or two older practitioners circling one another, watching, waiting, then finally one moves.  The "techniques" they use are not that different from what any student does, but their timing and positioning is...something else entirely.

Not sure. are we talking about Iaijutsu Duel? Or about what i would rather call a Clash? Clashes are actually great on the mental play front. The Iaijutsu duel (i hope) it will be decided on the first turn, so no biggie there. The only staredown phase that you have is the bet strife to go first part.  Of course that is lacking, they just updated a system made for another type of conflict and added the word Iaijutsu while changing the victory conditions.

19 hours ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

In some ways, a duel is a battle of wills in which both parties seek to open and hold on to opportunities long enough to exploit them.  That idea may be worth exploring in greater detail mechanically, given the options available in the dice mechanics.

I dont know if they will add much stuff mechanically. It seems that they already stretched a lot by bringing back Iaijutsu as a thing.

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On 10/26/2017 at 8:23 PM, Ultimatecalibur said:

The staredown is going to be a major source of strife every round as both participants bid strife to determine that rounds initiative order and try to second guess each other.

 

Ahhh, your analysis is excellent, but here is the point where you and I come to a disagreement.  The disagreement, however, is not mechanically but doctrinal, or rather in the way in which the game system limits the application of doctrines beyond what we might term the doctrine of "cutting" - that is, making oneself less than one is or making the opponent less of what he is to achieve the goal.

This is an improvement over L5R 4th edition, where we had to infer doctrine.  It is inferior (from a different point of view) to a mechanic which can support multiple doctrines (Iaido, Diamond and Jade, The Path of Resistance, The Way of the Wind, etc.)  These are doctrines which, unfortunately, have to be inferred at this point - my poor effort above aside.  I might spend some time on that, but such an effort would take this conversation even further afield.

Now, one might imagine ways in which we could adapt the current structure to allow for multiple doctrines.  There is some flexibility built into the Rings by design, and that could be further expanded.

Your comment about the Shuji is interesting and suggests a direction, though design space there seems heavily packed.  Perhaps an unpacking is in order?

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On 10/27/2017 at 8:10 AM, Mobiusllls said:

Only thing i tought that is close to what you guys are saying, Is basically make every turn give a x ammount of strife to the fighters and remove the Attack option from the duel. That way everything you do (provoke,center,use something) would happen in the factual staredown phase. you determine that once someone attacks the katana was draw and the duel "started". If the first to attack wins, Okay. if not you could give a huge bonus so the second guy would win on his attack.  if both guys suck, congratulations, draw.

But also wouldnt work well with the chassis of the system. (at least would need more elaborate changes than the ones did in the first update.)

An interesting idea, and somewhat close to the original (1st Edition RPG) Focus - Strike mechanic.  Not impossible within this structure.

 

On 10/27/2017 at 8:10 AM, Mobiusllls said:

in any case, i dont see Iaijutsu being broken by FFG. what do you mean with that? You dont have a iaijutsu skill anymore (Unfortunately). They only put a kata before because people would miss it if this edition deleted the existence of Iaijutsu completely. now they gave us one more iaijutsu technique. We have three and its looking like this will be final to me.

Ah, my apologies for being unclear.  "Broken up" as in "to separate into parts" not "to mechanically bork".  In terms of whether there is an Iaijutsu skill or some other way to embody Iaido through a design mechanism...I leave that to the people who understand this design better than I.  I merely ask questions.

 

On 10/27/2017 at 8:10 AM, Mobiusllls said:

Not sure. are we talking about Iaijutsu Duel? Or about what i would rather call a Clash? Clashes are actually great on the mental play front. The Iaijutsu duel (i hope) it will be decided on the first turn, so no biggie there. The only staredown phase that you have is the bet strife to go first part.  Of course that is lacking, they just updated a system made for another type of conflict and added the word Iaijutsu while changing the victory conditions.

I dont know if they will add much stuff mechanically. It seems that they already stretched a lot by bringing back Iaijutsu as a thing.

Again, my apologies.  I appear to have, yet again, been unclear in my intent.  Let me see if I can clarify.

As described in the original post, there is no such thing as an "Iaijutsu" duel beyond a persistent misunderstanding.  There is a kenjutsu duel to which one applies a doctrine one might call "Iaido", which argues that one should apply both prediction/interception and sudden force projection.  The result of this would be similar to what we have duplicated in the past with an Iaijutsu Duel mechanic.  

The end result is something similar to what you describe, just with a bigger space to work in.

 

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Toshiki, it is now clear that you are intentionally obfuscating your intent by writing in the manner of a doctoral thesis and attempting to redefine terminology. Your attempts to "clarify" are less to be clear and more to sound like you are clear while in fact muddying the discussion.

 

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2 hours ago, Kakita Toshiki said:

As described in the original post, there is no such thing as an "Iaijutsu" duel beyond a persistent misunderstanding. 

How is a misunderstanding if every duel rules is actually rules for Iaijutsu's Duels? Are the writers from past editions ******? (having a retardation is motive for censorship apparently.)

Would make sense, if you are right.

Honestly, Fortunately or Unfortunately, Iaijutsu on Rokugan has its own meaning and is completely different from Japan. You can speak about iai, iaijutsu,iaido, the meaning of it, origins and everything else. You would be speaking about the japanese one.

Lets be clear, Iai is about drawing your sword and defending yourself in any situation or place. The Kakitas of first edition fighting by drawing and sheating their weapon at every single turn, kind of proves the point that Iaijutsu is just similiar do what we have on real world. not the actual samething.

Edited by Mobiusllls

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Desperately needs to be an action for inflicting strife.

Played another duel tonight. 2 rounds... Keinosuke won... because the Isawa ran over resilience, after having refused to name a champion.

Initiative & round 1: 
K: Fire, Initiative 10. K takes 4 strife
I: Void, Initiative 8
K strikes, using rising cut. does 7 damage, I takes 6. K takes 3 more strife. I also takes bleeding
I uses a social skill to inflict 4 strife with a koan about even a dog knowing when it's been bad

Round 2
K bids 0; Initiative 10
I bids 3, goes to Init 11
I: Leans in and asks, "Did you come here to atone, or to escape justice?" gets 4 more strife on him. strife is telling. But also srtrifes out
K: strikes, manages 3 Successes, 2 opportunity... 7 damage & a crit
I spends two void to avoid the two crits. Passes out.

 

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I figure the safest way to inflict Strife on your opponent in a duel is the Center action. At least it makes you harder to hit in the meantime and at the very least you can block the opponent’s Ring of predilection even if he does not end up choosing it.

One thing I don’t get in the example above is how the Isawa also strifed out.. He just bid 3 for Init and was in Void stance, no? Was he borderline before the duel started?

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4 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

 

Quote

I uses a social skill to inflict 4 strife with a koan about even a dog knowing when it's been bad

By that point, hasn't Keinosuke suffered 4+3+4 = 11 Strife, above his Composure, thus triggering a finishing blow ?

Edited by Exarkfr
missread some stuff

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5 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Desperately needs to be an action for inflicting strife.

Played another duel tonight. 2 rounds... Keinosuke won... because the Isawa ran over resilience, after having refused to name a champion.

Initiative & round 1: 
K: Fire, Initiative 10. K takes 4 strife
I: Void, Initiative 8
K strikes, using rising cut. does 7 damage, I takes 6. K takes 3 more strife. I also takes bleeding
I uses a social skill to inflict 4 strife with a koan about even a dog knowing when it's been bad

Round 2
K bids 0; Initiative 10
I bids 3, goes to Init 11
I: Leans in and asks, "Did you come here to atone, or to escape justice?" gets 4 more strife on him. strife is telling. But also srtrifes out
K: strikes, manages 3 Successes, 2 opportunity... 7 damage & a crit
I spends two void to avoid the two crits. Passes out.

 

Hod did Keinosuke deal 7 damage with Rising Slice? its damage does not scale and is hardcapped at 4. 

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