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Sephyr79

Blades Vs. Blunts

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37 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

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. 

Why the idea of braking seems out of place here.

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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.

Not saying your wrong, because your not. But would like to point out that the curved blade was not by choice when it came to Katanas. This was a byproduct of differentiated metals used in the forging possess. That the Samurai adapted their style to use to their advantage.

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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

I totally agree here. People keep forgetting that what they are calling plate armor here is Lamellar armor. Which has more in common with Scale-mail then European Plate. also the armor is made from the same grade of steel as the swords. with even less refinement in the forging.

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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.

Gaming it is my problem. I have tried for years in all my game to try to get players to not game the system to mostly successful results. and this system is enforcing gaming the system. :(

 

Edited by tenchi2a
forgot something.

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33 minutes ago, GaGrin said:

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.

 

No argument there. We could tone down blunt weapon damage but give them a rule that makes them halve effective armor. Make Katanas Damage 5  but reduce the Deadliness bonus for the double grip for 2 to 1. Give me  more  options to bypass some armor.

I'm not saying the iconic weapon should be the answer for every encounter; there's a reason Crab bushi prefer to drop the hammer. But  it should at least be a good  option for the  majority of them. If I was  playing a  pirate-based game in which cutlasses and flintlock pistols were bad except for pirate duels on Pirate  Island, but spiked whips and ukeleles did  killer damage, the flair would be gone real fast.

 

30 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

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.

 

Switching dice to alternate between doing 1  damage (when the Fortunes give you that perfect combo) and missing on purpose to avoid a 0-damage weapon breaks seems really, really un-fun. No one will do that; if you're going to lame  it  out, do it effectively. People who want to game the system will just go "My samurai carries a  bo because  it was, um.... a gift from my  monk grandpa, yeah, he was a hero! I use it to fight because my daisho is too pure for use on lowlifes. Except for the final cut, that  is."

The beta is  just the place to work things  out so we can avoid such transparent exploits in the future.

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2 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

(...)

I totally agree here. People keep forgetting that what they are calling plate armor here is Lamellar armor. Which has more in common with Scale-mail then European Plate.

Gaming it is my problem. I have tried for years in all my game to try to get players to not game the system to mostly successful results. and this system is enforcing gaming the system. :(

 

I was about to ask just how heavy the 'heavy' armor was. And yeah, Lamellar is another reason non-crappy sword should not break so casually when striking them.  They have LOT of little junctions.

And agreed X100 on the gaming angle. It's the equivalent  of playing that dope in Street fighter 2 that figured  out that  perfect  hadouken/dragonpunch zone trap that works against 80% of all characters and  moves. Not  illegal and not cheating, but really takes you  out  of the  game and  kills the fun.

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I would ask you to reconsider "gaming the system" as somehow a terrible habit that is going to ruin your RP.  Playing the game is part of the experience.  Learning how to press your advantages, cover your weaknesses, protect your arms and defeat your opponent with words, wit or skill.  The mechanisms aren't in the way, they're an expression of the character's actions.

The PC who chooses to fail an attack to save their weapon hasn't "missed" or even really failed.  They've made a tactical choice.  That choice reflects both their out of character understanding of the game, but also their character's understanding of the scenario, just as a choosing a stance is both a tactical choice and a statement of intent/posture for the character.  You aren't a raging loon in void anymore than you're a serene pool in fire.  These choices can be both informed by the tactical side of the game and the narrative of the game at the same time.  It's a symbiosis.

Now if you happen to have players who don't care about the RP at all and only want to "win at games", well, I don't think the rules are going to help you with that.

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We are talking a bit  past each other and disagreeing to agree, due to viewing the terms differently.

We all game the system a bit. We  like to create fun combos that are effective and make us win and look cool while doing it. Air stance  plus Strike as  air, try and hit me now you Crab flakes, hah! I'm airy as all get  out!

There is a range here, though. And that  is when the 'gaming' either becomes foolproof (at which point everyone will ape it and the game  just dies) on one end, and when you NEED to game-break it so you can be functional at all. "The rules decided my mainstay, iconic weapon is  bad  in 60% of the cases, so I have to keep doing Quantum Schroedinger* attacks that don't hit unless they miss or I'll be picking bits of katana from the ground along with my teeth once that hammer brains me"  is  one such case.

Let's  look at Strike as Air. It was  pretty broken when every opportunity  gave you another TN increase. It feels about right now, though I  haven't tested  it. Having a +2-3 TN boost out  of the gate  is strong, yes. But an enemy can power throgh it. Fire stance  and burn Void and mix  in a good kata, take some Strife, and he  only  has to hit my airy bloke once. If a middling roll from the old  version caused a +4-5 increase  in TN, it  might  have broken the game. You'd  need an amazing roll plus  lots  of people giving you assists, and even that might not do the trick. I'm glad they spotted it early.

* I hereby copyright Quantum Schroedinger Strike as my   own personal kata.

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6 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

We are talking a bit  past each other and disagreeing to agree, due to viewing the terms differently.

More than likely.  But I think part of accepting the limitation of the game as a tool is accepting that you can choose how to interpret the results.  Someone finding a way to play the game effectively to do a particular thing... is not inherently a bad thing.  It's only a bad thing if it's disruptive to some aspect of your play experience.  Some of this is also disagreement about specifics and not concepts, which is bound to occur.  Every group has a different particular style it wants to ape and a different set of priorities.

Regarding the specific: I feel like Air could afford to be more about setting up opportunities (i.e. Feints) - but that's a knee-jerk reaction to wanting the elements to naturally oppose.  I'm sure there are reasons why that's not the case.  Water feels like a better fit for passive TN with all that shift/adapt and would naturally oppose fire in the same way that extra opportunties or vulnerablities from air would be opposed by earth's rigidity.

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1 minute ago, GaGrin said:

More than likely.  But I think part of accepting the limitation of the game as a tool is accepting that you can choose how to interpret the results.  Someone finding a way to play the game effectively to do a particular thing... is not inherently a bad thing.  It's only a bad thing if it's disruptive to some aspect of your play experience.  Some of this is also disagreement about specifics and not concepts, which is bound to occur.  Every group has a different particular style it wants to ape and a different set of priorities.

While its true tactics are a hallmark of gaming. Their is a difference between making a tactical decision based on the situation and making out of game decision based on a game rule that seems to serve no purpose other than to make you have to miss to save you weapon. You can justify this anyway you want to, but in the long run its still using the keep rules to avoid a issues that should not be there in the first place.

 

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5 hours ago, Krofinn said:

My question is, if you can just choose to miss to avoid breaking your razor edge weapons, why even have the mechanic? Doing 0 damage and missing are not very different. 

Because you can choose to hit and accept a damaged condition if you have a good enough reason to do so; but you do so knowing the consequences.

  • Imagine you have rolled 2 explosive successes. Keep both of them, and you have a 75% chance (give or take) of at least one of the dice, gaining a bonus success and hence enough damage to land fatigue/trauma/wounds/whatever it's being called this week.
  • Imagine you have rolled 2 success/opportunities. Keeping both means a hit with no damage but also a critical hit - which being delivered with a double-handed blade is potentially a fight-winner right there.
7 hours ago, Sephyr79 said:

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.

 

Even crabs would be unlikely to be at court in full armour (i.e. Plated armour). Lacquered armour is not unreasonable (it has Ceremonial, after all) if you want to prove a point or just don't care, but even then the wargear quality makes participation in an intrigue difficult and provides very limited benefits.

Similarly, in a formal duel a not unreasonable requirement is ceremonial weapons.

Travelling Clothes cut the base katana damage in half - not the damage actually dealt. A Bushi who has any business actually thwacking someone with a sword is probably going to be using a ring score of 3 and a skill rank of 2; the odds of at least one bonus success are pretty good. Still, assume that it doesn't:

The Staff does do more damage, and yes, resilience 10 under travelling clothes will go down to 3 successful strike actions with a Staff, whilst a Katana will take 5.

The difference is that the Katana doesn't need to chop away like that.

  • What makes you think you don't have the means to force a finishing blow?
  • There are ways to deliver criticals with a weapon without needing to inflict damage first - heartpiercing strike is the obvious one.

The hammer specifically has its own problems - an Otsuchi has both Cumbersome and Wargear, making it awkward as heck to use in a skirmish because it's upping the TN to hit by one and drowning you in strife.

At the same time, I wouldn't object to seeing the damage of a staff drop by a point.

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3 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Because you can choose to hit and accept a damaged condition if you have a good enough reason to do so;

^ This basically.  It's definitely a play style question, but I really like having crunch-related decisions that imply fluff and I see this as a perfect example of that.

I can tell you from first hand experience that aborting attacks you can see are going to fail is part of any martial art - you don't commit to traps, nor to disadvantageous extensions, so choices around the mechanics like this create a very clear image in my mind of how the fight is playing out.

Staves are brutal IRL btw.  To the point where in my HEMA group we allow spear use on the thrust only because the threat of percussion causing real lasting harm is too high.  Anything that long has huge leverage and thus massive potential damage no matter your protection level.  We don't need to worry about that with swords, got a mask and gloves and you're basically good to go.  Not that the game needs to copy real life - it's definitely better if it doesn't try to be a simulation.  But as I said earlier, I think it's more interesting if the full range of weapons have their niche.  Spears and swords are not even remotely equal and they shouldn't be represented as such.

For those curious, I have somewhere around 400 hours experience with a combination of sabre, longsword and rapier and about 2 hours with a spear.  I would pick the spear every single time if my life was at stake.  No contest, no debate.  It's not possible to describe with langauge alone just how dominant that level of reach advantage is, even if you're a complete newb facing off against a vet, you have a moderate-to-good chance of winning that exchange purely off reach.  The Iron Forest Kata does a decentish job of show casing it - only imagine that you got that for free and there was no test to pin.

I think I lost the point I was trying to make somewhere along the way.  Armour is good.  Weapons fill a niche.  Katanas should be brutal, just not all the time.  I think that's basically what I wanted to say.

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1 hour ago, GaGrin said:

I think I lost the point I was trying to make somewhere along the way.  Armour is good.  Weapons fill a niche.  Katanas should be brutal, just not all the time.  I think that's basically what I wanted to say.

Agreed. The point where swords become exceptional is any situation which uses their deadliness score:

  • Iaijutsu: Horizontal Cut is a nice one, because it essentially makes the Katana (or even Wakizashi) a Damage 5, range 2 weapon for the round.
  • Finishing Blows, Heartpiercing Strike and Strike With No Thought all take damage out of the equation and go straight to critical infliction.

or any fight against a more lightly armoured opponent. 

Assuming 3 ring dice and 1 skill die, the odds of getting at least 2 successes and 2 opportunities:

  • It's not possible without getting at least one success/opportunity result (or an explosive success achieving the same) because you've got to get 4 results on 3 dice.
    • The odds of an explosive success into opportunity on any die is about 6%, meaning the odds of getting at least one on 4 dice rolled is about 20%
    • The odds of getting a success/opportunity result on the single skill die is about 8% and is a viable alternative.
    • That means the odds of getting a'double result' by either means is about 27%
  • If you get a 'double result', then to land a critical you need at least one other success and one opportunity
    • The odds of not getting a success on a die is about 50%, meaning the odds of getting at least one result on three dice is about 88%.
    • The odds of not getting an opportunity (or an explosive success rolling into an opportunity) is about 61%, meaning  the odds of getting at least one result on three dice is about 77%
    • That means the odds of getting both is ~ 68%
  • The odds of getting a 'double result' and the other two required results is about 18%
    • That means a ring rank 3, Martial Arts [Melee] 1 combatant (pretty much the bottom tier of PCs) with no assistance can land a katana-deadliness hit with somewhere between 1/5th and 1/6th of their strike actions. Throw in a second skill rank (a 5th rolled die) and/or assistance (an extra rolled die and kept die) and this becomes a lot more likely.
    • With Ring Rank 3 and Martial Arts [Melee] 2 you're up to about a 1/3 chance of landing a critical on a TN2 target, and at skill rank 3 it's getting on for even odds. 

 

I accept that extra dice make a blunt weapon more powerful, too:

  • A single reliable bonus success turns a Bo staff from a 3-hit weapon to a 2-hit weapon against a foe in travelling clothes. Making a staff a one-hit weapon requires a ludicrously improbably string of bonus successes (6!), though. 
  • Whilst the same die roll improves the odds of criticals with a staff too, Deadliness 2 won't do much to most opponents other than maybe mess up their armour post fitness-test, whereas a deadliness 7 critical reduced by 2 is still an injured body part and a TN2 increase to the relevant ring. 

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Better? Yes. Exceptional? No.

Do a Horizontal strike against some guy in traveling clothes and you've done a stellar 3 damage. A guy packing an actual naginata can do more damage, have  better deadliness and save himself a kata pick. And  if the opponent gets  inside his reach, he can drop it and draw a  new weapon for free when picking a stance. A weapon that  needs an extra talent to reach the performance  of a regular one  is not good.

"I bought a Yugo, but now that I've spent $20k redoing  it engine and shocks, man it goes  fast!"

"Why didn't you  just buy an actual muscle car for half the  price?"

"Because  Yugos are great! Mine goes fast and all!"

The dude with a club? Also out-damaging you, and while he doesn't get to strike at range 2, it's not a big deal since you can  just walk closer  in your turn.

Relying on critical blows is nice and even setting-appropriate (It does fit  in nicely with the classic trope  of someone taking a slash, seemingly not  taking any damage, and then falling to pieces when they take a step), but statistically spiky and weird. So now you're  using your razor-edged sword to stun and  kick up dust  instead of cut? I thought that was what monks did with their cheap staffs. Not to mention it's easy to counter; once you know you have enough armor to block most or all sword damage, you  basically  just  need to worry about making crit-techniques unfeasible using TN manipulation, or so costly in strife that the  other guy will Unmask before you ever get seriously harmed.

Let's try a sample situation:

My reedy kakita guy (Air 3, Fire 3, Earth 2, Water 1, Void 1, MA 1, Resilience 6, no armor because he's  walking the road and not a  barbarian, which means  he still has Armor 2 with his  hiking gear.) with his  trusty katana and horizontal strike

VS

Smelly Bandit (Earth 2, Fire 2, Water 2, Air 1, Void 1, MA 1, scavenged ashigaru armor, basic club)

Round One, Fight!

I likely go first. I can either strike or iai. If the bandit  picks air stance,  I'll need 3 successes on 4 dice to do 2 damage  if i do a Iai. If I  just strike, 3 successes will see  me doing 1 damage. Neither choice  is great. I'll pretty  much have to pick Fire stance each time to try and get  more hits while racking up strife.

He goes. He's  in  Air stance to make my life ****, so he does the  basic strike.  Gets two successes,  goes for a double grip on his  piece  of timber because why not. 6 damage, minus two from my kimono, means I'm already left with only two resilience and will be taking crits the  next round. He is sitting pretty, still way above half his  'life'.

At this point, I'm basically forced to stay in  Air to avoid getting another hit and  just doing basic strike hoping for a dice  miracle. He can go Fire and overwhelm me, because eh, he's a  disposable  NPC and doesn't care about strife  management. I take a second hit, which is a crit, but with Deadliness 2 won't  harm me  much.

The thing  is, a third hit and I am out. Once you go down, stuff  like Deadliness means nothing. He can toss me  in a pond to drown or slit my throat at his  leisure.

Keep in mind, one person in that equation is the warrior caste  of the empire. It actually dawned on me that  if  Smelly Bandit decides to duel me for  giggles, I'm actually worse  off, because then he can Center and completely evade me. He'll fare  better at the  stylized duel  of nobles than the actual noble raised from birth and armed by fate to do it!

TL,DR version: The fruit of ten years  of strict  martial training should not be vexed by roadside scum because tradition demanded his weapon suck. And weapons requiring  master-level artisanship should not be bad compared to a  plank with a grip.

 

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13 hours ago, Sephyr79 said:

Switching dice to alternate between doing 1  damage (when the Fortunes give you that perfect combo) and missing on purpose to avoid a 0-damage weapon breaks seems really, really un-fun. No one will do that; if you're going to lame  it  out, do it effectively.

I had a player do just that saturday.

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7 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

I had a player do just that saturday.

As it stands, if this rule makes it through beta as is I just see it being ignored or dropped by most gaming groups.

That why I feel that in the beta we need to do everything in our power to get it either fixed or they just need to drop it. 

If the rule is so decisive that it spawns 4+ threads then I think it needs work.

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8 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Erm. Basic club? Plank with a handle? Those are improvised weapons. Damage 2, Deadliness 2. Damage 4 if used wih two hands, still no better than a katana.

 

That's technically true, which is the best  form of trurth. But I can go one  better and say that an improvised weapon would have NO handle, so there!

The actual point: Clubs are very, very basic weapons. Rokugan swords are tested by hitting them on  rocks and  marking how deep they cut the rock on their handles. This should  mean something.

Edited by Sephyr79

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18 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

Ahem. No one will willingly do that, or  have a good time doing  it. ;)

I didn't suggest it to them; it didn't ruin their sense of fun. 

I can see some not enjoying that, but I know people who will, because they'll keep the opportunities instead. They're happier to have the choice, unlike Star Wars...

You probably should stop with the gross blanket statements, because you're assuming everyone thinks like you, and I certainly don't.

Edited by AK_Aramis

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Different strokes for different folks. More  power to your peeps if they are  having fun. But beta time is that time to push things and see how they break.

Gotta say it's amusing to see the general theme evolve.

"Katanas are fine"

"Ok they are not really fine but teir Deadliness  compensates for their issues"

"Alright they lose to monk sticks in every practical way, but no one wears armor anyway, so it's a  moot  point"

"Alright people had to keep plinking with 1 damage to avoid breaking their glass words last  game, but  it was FUN!"

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2 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

 

Different strokes for different folks. More  power to your peeps if they are  having fun. But beta time is that time to push things and see how they break.

See, that's about the only reason I've seen a TN 2 roll fail... 

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2 hours ago, Sephyr79 said:

 And  if the opponent gets  inside his reach, he can drop it and draw a  new weapon for free when picking a stance

Not any more.

Quote

p. 153: Step 2: Set Stance: Replace the first paragraph after the bulleted list with the following:
“As part of setting a stance, a character may set the grip with which they are wielding a weapon (see page 143). A character may also drop any number of items on the ground.  Readying a new weapon requires an action, however.”

Combined with the fact that movement in Conflict scenes is slower, the flexibility to engage at range 2 with a katana in the opening round is not something to ignore.

2 hours ago, Sephyr79 said:

It actually dawned on me that  if  Smelly Bandit decides to duel me for  giggles, I'm actually worse  off, because then he can Center and completely evade me. He'll fare  better at the  stylized duel  of nobles than the actual noble raised from birth and armed by fate to do it!

TL,DR version: The fruit of ten years  of strict  martial training should not be vexed by roadside scum because tradition demanded his weapon suck. And weapons requiring  master-level artisanship should not be bad compared to a  plank with a grip.

No. Because if you are in a duel, what will happen is:

  • You will act first unless he has a much better assessment check than you and you refuse to bid strife in the staredown or he bids an ungodly amount of strife in the staredown - because Bandits have a focus of 4 and most PCs who deserve to be behind the business end of a Daisho will have a focus of 5 or better (your example guy has a focus of 6).
  • Your first action won't be to attack him, it'll be to centre, probably in fire stance.  That puts you behind a defensive stance (most likely TN4+ to hit you, well beyond the realistic reach of a ring 2 attacker), and assuming you picked up at least Martial Arts [Melee] 2, has a fair chance of dropping strife on him in the process.
  • Assuming your character has a better composure than the smelly bandit (in your example, composure 10 vs composure 6), opposed centre actions will result in his composure failing first, especially since you can remove strife with opportunities (and strife or damage with free calming breath actions in water stance) and he (being but a lowly minion who can't use generic opportunities or stance effects) can't.
  • At which point a strike action with a Katana will likely remove one or more survival-critical extremities regardless of what armour he's wearing.
    • Also note that Air Stance does nothing for a minion other than define what ring he uses for checks. It doesn't make him harder to hit.

 

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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57 minutes ago, Sephyr79 said:

 

That's technically true, which is the best  form of trurth. But I can go one  better and say that an improvised weapon would have NO handle, so there!

The actual point: Clubs are very, very basic weapons. Rokugan swords are tested by hitting them on  rocks and  marking how deep they cut the rock on their handles. This should  mean something.

Lore isn’t always consistent. You bring up a source that says katana are tested on rocks, I bring up a source that says a couple of swings against a shadowlands creature’s hide will ruin an otherwise fine blade. Which source is best?

 

 

 

clearly my source is best, it’s the most recent one and actually part of the edition we’re testing

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10 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Lore isn’t always consistent. You bring up a source that says katana are tested on rocks, I bring up a source that says a couple of swings against a shadowlands creature’s hide will ruin an otherwise fine blade. Which source is best?

 

 

 

clearly my source is best, it’s the most recent one and actually part of the edition we’re testing

hiding a snide remark as micro text is kind of childish. But each to their own.

I would say the Source that is the foundation for the game they are trying to import into this system. Otherwise they might as well change the name and stop pretending its L5R.

I have less issues with them change the die mechanics or restarting the story then them changing how everything works till it not L5R any more.

 

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7 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

hiding a snide remark as micro text is kind of childish. But each to their own.

I would say the Source that is the foundation for the game they are trying to import into this system. Otherwise they might as well change the name and stop pretending its L5R.

I have less issues with them change the die mechanics or restarting the story then them changing how everything works till it not L5R any more.

 

It was more an attempt at levity than anything else. I didn’t really expect font size 8 would hide anything from anyone.

As for the topic at hand, this is the beta for a new edition. Saying you have issues with parts of it doesn’t automatically change those parts to something you like better. Maybe things will be closer to your preferences in the final product, but for now saying they should not be the way they are is not really an argument. Katana in this beta are razor-edged. That makes them an inefficient choice against heavy armor, and not something to be tested by trying to slice through rocks.

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General question for those that  have  tested the beta  more than me:

How big a deal is a weapon being only 2-handed? This is not D&D, in which you are sort  of expected to carry a shield in your off-hand. Other than dual-wielding Dragon bushi, what are you losing by picking a 2handed weapon?

Having 1-handers get a perk when wielded with an extra grip is really neat, I'll say.

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