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Sephyr79

Blades Vs. Blunts

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I've been a fan of L5R lore for ages, and finally called for a game in this  beta. Really hyped for  it, too!

But...I don't quite get the weapon/armor choices.  It seems that non-wargear blades are quite weak. The basic  medium armor many bushi get at chargen can negate a Katana, while a  monk's walking stick can breach even plate armor (not even mentioning your  ancestral katana getting ruined every other fight against armored foes) ? I get the Deadliness trade-off, but it seems to me that piling up crits with big  clubs is a much deadlier pick than -maybe- doing a point of damage now and then and hoping your stance/kata gambles will let you do a good crit before you are crushed to unsightly pulp.

Am I  missing something? ****, a  jitte  has the same deadliness and damage as a  FIST. As someone who works with scalpels, let  me tell you that even a casual, unskilled slice with a scalpel will ruin your crap worse than most nightsticks, and a  jitte is  way, waaay bigger than a scalpel.

Unless there  is an upcoming rule somewhere giving extra damage/benefits for  katanas, most bushi seem better served with bo sticks for  war and  saving the swords for  fancy duels. Which is fair, granted, but  hardly what I expected for  samurai-centered heroics.

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Hi there Sephyr. First of all thank you for posting. This is a great question to discuss.

First of all, from what i can surmise, the Cubersome quality attached to both highest armors and heavy and war gear weapon is designed to balance them out.  Espicially with the first errata update to the beta, which adds a penalty to attacks with cubersome weapons when used in the same turn in which you moved.

Another factor to consider is the range of use for weapons. Where some war gear weapons can only be used at range band 2 a lighter adversary can manuver in with a wakizashi or even unarmed and apply a decisive blow utilizing a variety of tools and keeping an opponent with on a single attack option out of range.

 

I feel this system lends itself to utilizing more tools and tactics than just the gear numbers.

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15 hours ago, Sephyr79 said:

Unless there  is an upcoming rule somewhere giving extra damage/benefits for  katanas, most bushi seem better served with bo sticks for  war and  saving the swords for  fancy duels. Which is fair, granted, but  hardly what I expected for  samurai-centered heroics.

The increased deadliness of razor-edged weapon is also designed to reflect the Reliance on skill for bushi, literally using a weapon of high risk high reward.  Since deadliness has less resistance against it the idea is to end the fight as quickly as possible, bringing foes to a state where they cant fight back with less strokes.

While not the most sure fire method the culture sees it as the most efficient and elegant hence why they have the servants of their heighest class where them as a symbol of station.

 

That also hits on another point this system takes into great consideration with their gear.   Appropriate setting. Any most sitiuation where you are in the company of other samurai weapons of and substational size aren't likely to be allowed on your person.  War gear in peaceful places will either send people hiding or incite a conflict.  So weapons that are concealable or ceremonial become neccessities for self defense if your enteracting with civilized society. 

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I see. That  makes things 'fit' a bit better.

I understand  it's a tricky balance. I don't think I'll see many players wailing  on enemies with a bo stick until they are  out  of resilience and  only then pull out their swords, but  it's odd that it is the best easy option for skirmishes.  Make the Katana too strong, and no one will even think of  using anything else. Make  it too weak and even good, non-powergaming characters will start trying to game the system, if  only so they don't get steamrolled by those who have a  lore/rule excuse to always  use the best stuff (i.e belligerent Matsu and all Crabs) because they either ignore the downsides or plain don't care..

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I do feel staff damage might be a little high. That said, a) it’s a staff crafted to be used as a weapon, something like a monk’s walking stick doesn’t apply, and b) weapons meant to do damage through slicing can’t really be expected to work well against full armour. The exact numbers are in some cases debatable, but the trends behind them seem logical to me.

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3 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

b) weapons meant to do damage through slicing can’t really be expected to work well against full armour. The exact numbers are in some cases debatable, but the trends behind them seem logical to me.

Thankfully its not to often that a courtier you pissed someone off will be wearing much denser than court outfit when the get shanked or challenged to a duel.

That does bring to question though the etiquette of appropriate armor in duels.

Id always operated under the assumption that any duel outside a impromptu one dueing skrimishes or mass battle were held unarmored.

That would obviously provide an advantage to anyone using a non iaijutsu style tactic.

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7 minutes ago, Shiba Rana said:

Thankfully its not to often that a courtier you pissed someone off will be wearing much denser than court outfit when the get shanked or challenged to a duel.

That does bring to question though the etiquette of appropriate armor in duels.

Id always operated under the assumption that any duel outside a impromptu one dueing skrimishes or mass battle were held unarmored.

That would obviously provide an advantage to anyone using a non iaijutsu style tactic.

If two Cran bushi want to settle their differences with tetsubos, I expect (and hope!) they wear something more protective than silk.

In practice anything can be appropriate, as long as you can make it appear that way. Dressing up in heirloom armour for a duel to first blood is almost impossible to explain in a way that would make it look acceptable, but for a duel to the death? Fire or Earth approach Courtesy should do the trick.

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27 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

I do feel staff damage might be a little high. That said, a) it’s a staff crafted to be used as a weapon, something like a monk’s walking stick doesn’t apply, and b) weapons meant to do damage through slicing can’t really be expected to work well against full armour. The exact numbers are in some cases debatable, but the trends behind them seem logical to me.

Wood doesn't really work well against any armor, event stiffened leather and ring  mail.  It mostly just bounces  off. Swords also suffer against  plate, but at  least they are  actual metal. Swords are far better than blunt weapons at  finding a joint gap or junction on the armor. The  only weapons ever  made to -pierce- armor were weird billhooks, and they were so tricky to use few  people bothered because firearms soon made the  point  moot.

 

7 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

If two Cran bushi want to settle their differences with tetsubos, I expect (and hope!) they wear something more protective than silk.

In practice anything can be appropriate, as long as you can make it appear that way. Dressing up in heirloom armour for a duel to first blood is almost impossible to explain in a way that would make it look acceptable, but for a duel to the death? Fire or Earth approach Courtesy should do the trick.

Crab bushi walks into court, spits in the  Doji's soup, gets called into a duel. "Fine, let's do it now. What, no, I won't take  off my armor, I need to get  back to my duty at the Kaiu wall soon. What's the  matter, you afraid?"

Matsu bushi walks into the dojo, spits  on the school's  plaque, gets called into a duel, shows up in full regalia. "This  is the ancestral armor of my noble forebears. Does  it scare you that  much, weakling? I thought you were supposedly -good- at duels."

As i aid i get the real world/culture clash explanation. I remember tons  of teen medievalist-wanabees going "Pshaw, katanas were trash, give  me an einhander anyway!" when growing up. Just didn't really expect to see  it being so richly adopted  in a samurai fantasy game. 

It's a bit  like  making a Star Wars RPG and  making lightsabers worse than flails.

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1 minute ago, nameless ronin said:

Staffs aren’t necessarily just wood. Iron-shod ends make sense for something crafted to be a weapon. 

A Crab bushi walking into court in full armour is either at a Crab court or not walking in at all. It’s all very dependent on circumstances.

 

One  of the first stories in an old Crab clan book was a  Crab bushi tromping  into a fancy court party in full armor to deliver a birthday gift, getting mad at the snobby courtiers, punching one raw and stealing his Scorpion mask as a souvenir.

And even iron-shod staves are still bad against armor. Sure, you can use them to trip up an armored opponent, disarm him,  block, a  lot  of stuff, but as far as getting -through- it? No. Because that was not how anyone fought, East or West. 

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8 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

 

One  of the first stories in an old Crab clan book was a  Crab bushi tromping  into a fancy court party in full armor to deliver a birthday gift, getting mad at the snobby courtiers, punching one raw and stealing his Scorpion mask as a souvenir.

And even iron-shod staves are still bad against armor. Sure, you can use them to trip up an armored opponent, disarm him,  block, a  lot  of stuff, but as far as getting -through- it? No. Because that was not how anyone fought, East or West. 

That’s terrible writing.

And tripping up an armoured opponent is an excellent start. After that you just wail on them with something blunt and heavy. Not a relatively flimsy sword, particularly one that’s not typically meant to stab with. Personally I’d set the staff’s damage at 5, same as the yari. Still better than the katana. Deadliness makes up for that.

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11 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

(...)

And tripping up an armoured opponent is an excellent start. After that you just wail on them with something blunt and heavy. Not a relatively flimsy sword, particularly one that’s not typically meant to stab with. Personally I’d set the staff’s damage at 5, same as the yari. Still better than the katana. Deadliness makes up for that.

Tripping someone up would be an action or  maneuver, which some weapons  make easier, but has nothing to do with the basic stats. there' a reason most  of  mankind moved  past hitting each other with wood as soon as  it could, and  much of that reason was armor becoming a thing. Having blunt weapons being the  AP options is just...weird.

And no, I don't think Deadliness make up for  it. It won't even come into play for 80% of the time. A tough/armored enemy can just Air/Earth stance + Center your successes away so you  never  have enough to pierce their defense, and wail on you  until your Resilience  is gone, an then either start going for finishing blows with a bo/hammer, or  draw a blade for the finish.

You'll be  loaded up with strife from the rolls to try and get any damage in, so you'll be behind in both the damage and the strife race.

Either all armor needs to be toned down a point  or two (casual clothes  having armor 1  is weird!), blunt weapons need a  bit  less damage, or  blades  need a boost. Maybe a little bit  of each.

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Blunt weapons don’t pierce armour, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do damage against armoured opponents. Their advantage is being less prone to breaking. You can properly hammer away with them and don’t care about losing the edge slicing weapons need to be most effective. A medieval knight’s sword, aside from when used to stab someone with, wasn’t much more than a metal club after having traded enough blows. And a katana can’t stand up to similar abuse.

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11 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

And no, I don't think Deadliness make up for  it. It won't even come into play for 80% of the time. A tough/armored enemy can just Air/Earth stance + Center your successes away so you  never  have enough to pierce their defense, and wail on you  until your Resilience  is gone, an then either start going for finishing blows with a bo/hammer, or  draw a blade for the finish.

You'll be  loaded up with strife from the rolls to try and get any damage in, so you'll be behind in both the damage and the strife race.

Ok first of all this scenario of yours only happens if your setting a PC who's exstensively planned how to cheese fights with singularly meta build against a mook of a minion or an adversary not on equal footing.

Also the Update to the action economy in the beta practically requires you to utilize water stance or get lucky with opportunities if you want to switch weapons on the fly without allowing your foe an opportunity to rally.

And seeing as certain emotional outburst are actually helpful in battle that strife build up is only a reliable tactics in duels or to bait plot npcs.

18 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

Either all armor needs to be toned down a point  or two (casual clothes  having armor 1  is weird!), blunt weapons need a  bit  less damage, or  blades  need a boost. Maybe a little bit  of each.

I think clothing providing a small but present amount of resistance was a smart choice as it displays more realism in the physics of combat.

The rest of what you said is so random and without rational that i think you need to play test combat with someone else to get a more reasonable feedback on the beta designers intended balance.

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11 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Blunt weapons don’t pierce armour, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do damage against armoured opponents. Their advantage is being less prone to breaking. You can properly hammer away with them and don’t care about losing the edge slicing weapons need to be most effective. A medieval knight’s sword, aside from when used to stab someone with, wasn’t much more than a metal club after having traded enough blows. And a katana can’t stand up to similar abuse.

Now that i think about it, as of the 1st beta Update resilience no longer suffers physical wounds specifically. Its now described as a built up Fatigue from pain of blows and stamina loss in battle until your guard is weakened and your dealt a deadly blow leading to the various states.

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2 hours ago, Sephyr79 said:

 The  only weapons ever  made to -pierce- armor were weird billhooks, and they were so tricky to use few  people bothered because firearms soon made the  point  moot.

Not quite. Flanged maces, armor penetrating arrowheads & bolts, warhammers, and both varieties of "Morning Star" (one's a spiked mace - they are brutal against armor; the other is a ball-flail with studded balls).

Armor-piercing really is a misnomer; even the bec was not so much armor-piercing as armor-negating - concentrat the force in a small enough point, and the armor doesn't spread it out enough.

Injury isn't caused by total energy, but by energy density.

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Just now, AK_Aramis said:

Not quite. Flanged maces, armor penetrating arrowheads & bolts, warhammers, and both varieties of "Morning Star" (one's a spiked mace - they are brutal against armor; the other is a ball-flail with studded balls).

(...)

Injury isn't caused by total energy, but by energy density.

You are correct, and Iwill commit seppuku soon after finals because doing  it now would be the easy way out. :) (We really  need the seppuku emoji)

My  main point, though, is that historically dealing with armor  has been done in a few ways: stunning the  meat  inside with a big  hammer (doesn't really -pierce- as you said, but  you can just stab his face  once he  passes  out), piercing  it with a big  pointed spike at the end of a  lot  of force (mounted spears, crossbow bolts, a few really big swords) and finding gaps you can cut to wound, tire and allow a kill  blow, or better yet, capturing the rich noble inside for ransom. Katanas are  ideal for -none-  of those.

I get  it. I'm cool with it. Now here's  my real position:

Katanas are awesome. They have been awesome in the West since squinty Christopher Lambert used one in Highlander back when I was a wee spurt of a nerd. And in that movie  one sliced through a **** concrete pillar  in a parking lot and  parried a zweihander that weights about as much as  me. And it was  glorious.

Should they be this way in L5r? **** no. But I can only take so much reality  in my  epic samurai drama. When my character faces some shadowlands overlord or hulking rival bushi that has despoiled my  lands, I don't want him to be thinking "I should switch to a naginata or borrow a tetsubo or I'll never scratch him.". I want him to grip the sword of his ancestors and charge because the force of all his forebears will be in that cut.

If swords get relegated to slicing naked bandits and doing ritualized noble duels where everyone strips down (Armor 2 for traveling clothes?:o), they might as well become an affectation, like  having rap battles*. It's just what some people use to engage each other in a bizarrely specialized manner.  And I think the setting and the game will lose a  lot if that happens.

 

* I might actually play the **** out  of a game involving rap  battles. forget I said anything.

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11 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

rap battles

I'm consistently disappointed to see how the emphasis for sadane shifted mainly to **** talking and dissing other samurai, even if I can see why it happened.

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11 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

If swords get relegated to slicing naked bandits and doing ritualized noble duels where everyone strips down (Armor 2 for traveling clothes?:o), they might as well become an affectation, like  having rap battles*. It's just what some people use to engage each other in a bizarrely specialized manner.  And I think the setting and the game will lose a  lot if that happens.

I feel you're missing an important element of this discussion.  Who is wearing armour, where are they and who sees them doing it?  Real people don't prance around in their full battle-kit all day every day.  Doing so is: suspicious AF, exhausting, uncomfortable and extremely rude in most social contexts.

Don't make the inappropriate weapon better.  Make them take off that **** armour when they have no good reason for wearing it.

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I believe I get  it. When at court, and in many non-battlefield  situations, only Crabs and some Lion will be in full armor. I have two issues with that:

1- Bushi are warriors, They will be spending a  lot  of time in dangerous situations, and you'll find armor there. Players are escorting a bigshot to a military encampment for peace talks. Most people there will be wearing armor, even for duels, if things get pear-shaped.  Traveling around the countryside, a  bandit  lord  decides to be a bother. He won't care much for etiquette and will keep the  suit he grabbed from a dead samurai on. There are lots  of non-cheesy ways a player can end up very short of options because his weapon is lacking  compared to a bo that costs  two coppers.

2- Armor should not be near-immunity to the main, iconic weapon of the game. Traveling clothes cut base katana damage in HALF. You're telling me the peak of  Rokugani swordcraft  is  50% blunted by linen? While you are  pricking them with your sword, they can just send you down Resilience+10 in two swipes with a stick or hammer, and at that  point Deadliness  is a  moot point: you're done.  My katana's Deadlinessm might as well be 55: If I have no way of getting him under Reslience or force a finishing blow, it makes no matter.

 

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There are very good reasons armoured fighting isn't generally done with blades.  I don't see why, when the armour is the norm (such as on a battlefield, or when roaming around to hunt some bandits) you'd want the non-armour defeating blades to be as good as the designed-for-purpose battlefield weapons.

To use a modern analogy, swords are pistols.  Pole-arms (and bows) are rifles.

You use a sword because you have no other choice.  Because it's what tradition demands they cannot ask you to give up, no matter where you are.  Because you're fighting in your pajama's when they come for you in the night.

On a battlefield? Nah. Bust out the proper weapons.

Sidenote: thick clothing is shockingly good at preventing cuts, check out tests against gambeson.  Heavy clothing isn't quite as effective as purpose made armour, but you get a similar effect.

I should add, that I'm not saying I think the existing numbers for the beta are perfect.  I'm sure they could use adjusting.  I'm just arguing that iconic isn't and maybe even shouldn't mean the same as universally effective, not just because it's not very believable but also because it's dull.  We want reasons to use the spectrum of arms and a simple way to do that is to mirror their real-world advantages.

Edited by GaGrin
clarification and spacing

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44 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

Katanas are awesome

No, they aren't. But they are pretty good. And, using a cheap wall-hanger type katana, vs japanese style Dō (made in modern materials)... the katana slides until it frays or cuts the cords holding the scales together. 

As a general rule, curved blades are for cutting on the draw or push. And in the full getup, there are actually pretty big spots to cut that way.

44 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

Should they be this way in L5r? **** no.

They should be as good as they were in history. That is, pretty damned rugged when used as intended. Not more so than cutlasses, but no worse, either

44 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

If swords get relegated to slicing naked bandits and doing ritualized noble duels where everyone strips down (Armor 2 for traveling clothes?:o), they might as well become an affectation, like  having rap battles*. It's just what some people use to engage each other in a bizarrely specialized manner.  And I think the setting and the game will lose a  lot if that happens.

You just have to look at your keep options, and if you're not able to keep enough to hit with sufficient bonus to get by armor, then choose to miss. It's a very gamey mechanic. Game it.

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You don't wear the full kit when travelling, at least according to several samurai instruction manuals. (Musashi doesn' directly address this, but has this to say on armor: "You cannot profit from small techniques particularly when roku gu is worn." Go No Rin Sho, "The Fire Book")

remember - Ashigaru Armour is literally a subset of the fuller heavy armor... just the dō (body) without its skirts, suneate (greaves), gauntlets/sleeves, and kabuto (helm). Adding the shoulders, thighs, gorget, mempo (mask), and the skirts on the Dō.

33 minutes ago, GaGrin said:

There are very good reasons armoured fighting isn't generally done with blades.  I don't see why, when the armour is the norm (such as on a battlefield, or when roaming around to hunt some bandits) you'd want the non-armour defeating blades to be as good as the designed-for-purpose battlefield weapons.

To use a modern analogy, swords are pistols.  Pole-arms (and bows) are rifles.

You use a sword because you have no other choice.  Because it's what tradition demands they cannot ask you to give up, no matter where you are.  Because you're fighting in your pajama's when they come for you in the night.

On a battlefield? Nah. Bust out the proper weapons.

Swords are pretty versatile. Unlike the pistol/rifle issue, swords are less disadvantaged across the board,,, each other option, historically, was in a rock-scissors-paper type relationship with armor mode A sword is passable, almost all the time, as a battlefield weapon, until the gunpowder renders them finally a last resort weapon.

A sword can be used to chop, to slice, to thrust, and to shave... it's not as good at chopping as an axe, nor as good at thrusting as a spear, but it can do both,,,,

And, unlike almost all other weapons, save the warhammer & mace, has survival uses besides hunting.

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