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Veruca

About ammunition

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Just wanted to see what other people's thoughts are about the Ammunition rules (found on pg. 148). I thought the idea behind getting Void Points was to show inner conflict rising up in your character (hence getting Void Points when Adversities and Axieties come into play). I'm not sure why you would compensate a character running out of arrows with a Void Point.

That being said, while I can understand the idea behind making ammunition limitless, I don't really feel it fits for this game. For Star Wars, I thought the idea of using a Despair to have a battery pack run out of juice was clever, and it made sense to me. But being able to draw infinite arrows from a quiver feels weird. I also think it's a strange decision that, as a GM, you have to reward your players with a Void Point whenever you reasonably think their quivers should be running dry. I mean, a quiver can actually hold only so many arrows (like, maybe 30?). How is it so different from keeping track of how much money you have?

What are your thoughts on this?

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I'm personally a fan of keeping track of all the arrows like normal, but that is just how I prefer to play. Other people who want their rules to be as simple as possible and have the game flow as smoothly and narratively as possible will likely use the current rules. Also with regard to void points, I usually just award them when I see fit. I use most of the rules but if it seems like a strange place (like hiding TNs), then I just let it slide, or I award them through other means. I guess their thinking is that running out of arrows is similar to a spontaneous Adversity that is pointless to write down because it can come and go easily.

That all being said, I notice that when I play tabletops most people forget to note used arrows on their sheet and it can be hard to remember sometimes when you get into the thick of battle. You can always wing it, like if a character went through a few fights and used their bow quite a bit, then you could say they are low on arrows. The problem comes in deciding if they are low or out of arrows in the middle of a conflict(especially a decisive one). Also if the characters have some sort of caravan or supply chain, then the character could reasonably replenish arrows after each battle.

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I like that Arrows are apparently dirt cheap. So they might as well not matter, unless you in a specific situation (aka the  Hiruma Shizuyo in Better to be Certain) where resource tracking becomes important from a narrativistic standpoint.

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Yeah, it mainly comes down to supply/supply line that would really do it, which depends on the specific narrative situation you are in. If someone did want to do more explicit resource tracking, then a fun way could be to give the player a bundle of toothpicks that represents their quiver, and when they shoot an arrow they set it aside or whatever. Also they could retrieve arrows or if one breaks then they can break the physical toothpick or just throw it away. Also, the toothpicks could be colored to show special ammunition like armor piercing or whatever. This would make it so that the player doesn't have to keep erasing and rewriting numbers on their sheet and gives a physical, tactile representation.

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I like that toothpick idea! :D

Yeah, I can understand the idea behind not having to track ammo, but it seems a strange decision to reward players with a Void Point when they shoot a lot of arrows. :P

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13 hours ago, Veruca said:

I mean, a quiver can actually hold only so many arrows (like, maybe 30?). How is it so different from keeping track of how much money you have?

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Remove money from the game. In fact, remove any equipment/outfit related restrictions. This is not D&D, a PC's actual equipment should be a trivial matter, only limited by dramatic circumstances. 

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1 hour ago, Veruca said:

reward players with a Void Point when they shoot a lot of arrows.

It's more that as the GM you're giving them a point for inflicting them with adversity (ala the disadvantage rules).  You're taking away a tool from their box and you get to choose how and when.  Naturally you do this in the middle of a big fight right as they really, really needed another shot.

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13 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

Remove money from the game. In fact, remove any equipment/outfit related restrictions. This is not D&D, a PC's actual equipment should be a trivial matter, only limited by dramatic circumstances. 

I wouldn't necessarily say remove any equipment restrictions, but yes, I broadly agree; what a person is narratively (and mechanically) suited to should be a primary driver.

After all, it's uncultured to discuss money too much, isn't it?

Provided you apply a reasonable amount of common sense, I've no problem with a player at character creation or at a point with access to appropriate resources (e.g. setting out from the clan stronghold on a mission expecting a fight) taking any item of weaponry they can reasonably carry (with a certain amount of realism applied to how much you can carry at once)

My main issue is the fact that everyone gets a 'quiver of arrows' except for some reason the Ninja, who specifically gets 10.

 

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20 minutes ago, GaGrin said:

Naturally you do this in the middle of a big fight right as they really, really needed another shot.

Wouldn't affect them for the remainder of the battle, though, as it triggers only at the end of the next scene in which they fire arrows.

Unless it ends in a rout for their side or they have to leave the battlefield at once to hunt an enemy, they should have time to resupply. 

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1 minute ago, Exarkfr said:

they should have time to resupply. 

Well if you invoke it when they have time to resupply, you're doing it wrongTM

You invoke this when it matters, not when it doesn't.  They've just had a big fight and are heading back to the supply train... and oh no, an unexpected ambush! Now you've got no arrows buddy, what do you do?

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21 minutes ago, Exarkfr said:

"at the end of the next scene".

The secret to GMing is that only the GM controls time.  Only the GM decides when a scene ends, or begins or when the party resting actually works.  You can choose to accept suggestions from the players and you should incorporated their wishes into the narrative - but if you think it's time for a scene, it's time for a scene.

Go my minions! Use your new powers of Time Control!

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Yeah, the GM can modify the rules as he sees fit for the story.

No need to try and convince me of anything.

You're talking about GMing.
I'm talking about the letter of the rules. I was just pointing a "flaw" in your scenario.

/discussion
 

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To be perfectly honest I doubt I'd ever use the rule as written, but I wanted to show how one *could*.

I'd be far more likely to just tell the players, hey, you're getting low on ammo, you're down to about [roll a d6] shots.  And then track it from there.

Like that moment in classic film where the hero has been running around shooting at everything for the entire movie then suddenly stops to check how many rounds they have left.  "****, only two".  We suddenly know the increased stakes.  Film carries on.

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True enough.  I can't see running out of arrows in L5R being a serious problem except in some weird circumstance anyway, they're in a similar spot.  "Oh no I have to use my razor-sharp sword, woe is me."

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1 hour ago, GaGrin said:

I'd be far more likely to just tell the players, hey, you're getting low on ammo, you're down to about [roll a d6] shots.  And then track it from there.

Ooh, this one I like.

From reading the comments here, I do see the logic behind giving a Void Point now, as running out of arrows can be considered a disadvantage.

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I'm averse to the idea of removing money from the game - it is one of the fundamental dichotomies of the samurai: Talk of money and concern over it is dishonorable, but it's essential to life to have some and use it wisely...

Ammo is less a case... I've never had an archery based character run out of arrows in a skirmish in 3rd... but I have had them decide to go melee because they were low, and didn't want to be unarmed. I can uderstand the "unlimited arrows" and why it works the way it does, but I've always found equipment management to be a major element in my enjoyment of a game.

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I should add/clarify - I've had players run out of specific ammo types (whistlers and rope cutters especially), and that affected play considerably. The lack of AP heads decided a skirmish's approach. But standard heads, no.

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My main concern between scenes is what gear the samurai should plausibly be allowed to wear/carry. Can’t wear armour everywhere, can’t carry weapons of war everywhere. Not without consequences, at any rate. It never seemed appropriate to me to apply an extra restriction on those who use ranged weapons just because they might run out of ammo. It’s not D&D, where equipment owned is something of an economy in its own right.  Access to equipment should not be a general concern unless I specifically want that to be part of the challenge for one or more scenes of an adventure, and I don’t want to treat some PCs differently just because they primarily (or exclusively) use a bow. I would probably make an exception for thrown weapons if I felt the player was getting excessive with them, but that hasn’t happened so far.

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Standard gear around town would be, as I recall...

  • Kimono (including Fundoshi, Tabi, Juban, Nagajuban, Kimono, hakama, and obi
  • sandals: geta (platforms), Zori (flip-flops - often wood), or waraji (rope),
  • possibly kimono-matched zori-slippers as well †
  • hashi (chopsticks) - while a good host has extra for guests, a good guest brings their own. In a bamboo case, usually tucked into the obi.
  • wakizashi, possibly bagged if in or near home, or making nice to the local lord ‡
  • Katana if bushi, again, bagged if near home and not on duty, and outside. Racked if inside and not on duty.
  • purse with coin. May be attached to the obi, or may be attached to 
  • purse with a "chop" or more - a seal used to sign things. If you have a title-providing job, you'll probably have a separate chop for it from your contractual chop (which you use for signing contracts). You might have one for personal non-contractual signatures, too. And another for "private written conversations"... perhaps even more than one for romantic liaisons. Also, likely a small pellet of red ink to go with... because red is used for signing things most of the time. (Most things are written in black.)
  • pair of hashi (chopsticks)
  • one or two of:
    • A caligraphy set - a pellet or more of black ink, a couple brushes, an ink stone, all in a nice 0.1 x 0.3 x 0.6 shaku box, possibly with a second box containing 0.25x0.5 shaku sheets of paper, or a slightly thicker box with a paper tray under the ink. This might be tucked inside the kimono (above the obi), or in a bag hung from the obi.
    • One small item in a pouch off the obi - often a game or a book. Gō, Shogi, and a couple of different card games (actually played with shells originally) are options.
    • Bushi might have a small sharpening set - under 0.1 shaku thick (3.3 cm), about 0.2 shaku wide (6.6 cm) and 0.3-0.4 shaku long (10-13.3 cm). Usually only two stones in the small kit - fine and very fine. This would be in a pouch tied to the obi or in a flap on the katana's bag, or tucked inside the kimono.
    • A satchel with several items of import.
    • a document folder - either carried or tucked inside the kimono. Used for shorter documents. (longer ones go in a satchel as scrolls, typically)
      • thin wood cover stock, lacquered, and bound in cloth,
      • thick rice paper lacquered stiff except at the fold
      • cloth over lacquered thick rice paper.
    • a book. Binding would be much the same as the document folder
  • one or two small gifts, "just in case", either in a pouch or tucked in the obi, often in fancy paper or wood boxes. Often the box is as valuable as the gift itself, as the box can be reused...

On "duty" - such as a yojimbo or yoriki, expect the katana to be unbagged unless racked, the wakizashi worn and unbagged, a satchel with any needed tools of work, and possibly also (based upon rokugan specific art) the Dō, shinguards, and gauntlets (light/ashigaru armor).

On duty for a shugenja would include the scroll satchel and the equipped yojimbo...

† if not travelling, unmatched would imply the host's inability to provide suitable slippers. Matched gives an excuse not to use the host's offered ones saving face for both.

‡ carrying it unbagged is a statement of "i'm ready to defend myself if needed"

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37 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

hashi (chopsticks) - while a good host has extra for guests, a good guest brings their own. In a bamboo case, usually tucked into the obi.

pair of hashi (chopsticks)

You included hashi twice.:)

Great list.

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2 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

Standard gear around town would be, as I recall...

  • wakizashi, possibly bagged if in or near home, or making nice to the local lord ‡
  • Katana if bushi, again, bagged if near home and not on duty, and outside. Racked if inside and not on duty.

‡ carrying it unbagged is a statement of "i'm ready to defend myself if needed"

This is not the proper etiquette.

You would never bag your personal Katana, wakizashi.

There are only 3 times when swords are bagged.

1. when being presented as a gift.

2. when being transported by someone it doesn't belong to, a samurai returning the sword of a slain comrade to his family or when transporting a gift.

3. when being stored and not displayed.

 

A sword will only be placed on a rack when

1. at home and not at war.

2. when entering the home of your lord, or a friend and planing to stay the night.

 

when before your lord for a report or summons.

1. the sword is carried blade up to show you come in peace. 

2. upon knelling the sword is removed from the obi and presented to the lord with a bow.

3. the lord will either nod at the respect or have a guard remove the sword.

4. if the lord nods the sword will be placed on the right side of the samurai blade in so it can't be draw quickly.

 

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17 hours ago, tenchi2a said:

This is not the proper etiquette.

You would never bag your personal Katana, wakizashi.

There are only 3 times when swords are bagged.

1. when being presented as a gift.

2. when being transported by someone it doesn't belong to, a samurai returning the sword of a slain comrade to his family or when transporting a gift.

3. when being stored and not displayed.

 

A sword will only be placed on a rack when

1. at home and not at war.

2. when entering the home of your lord, or a friend and planing to stay the night.

 

when before your lord for a report or summons.

1. the sword is carried blade up to show you come in peace. 

2. upon knelling the sword is removed from the obi and presented to the lord with a bow.

3. the lord will either nod at the respect or have a guard remove the sword.

4. if the lord nods the sword will be placed on the right side of the samurai blade in so it can't be draw quickly.

 

Historical traditions pre-tokugawa do not agree with you. Even during the Tokugawa Era, it was the Wakizashi that was the honor blade; the Katana, or the uichigatana, or the any of a half-dozen other named styles of long sword was always the bushi's work weapon - honored, but not carried everywhere. The Wakizashi would be racked by his bed, or even kept under his pillow, and worn almost everywhere... a Lord might rack his behind himself in court, along with his katana (and possibly his no-dachi or ōdachi). A samurai in town would, per some of the literature, bag the katana in town simply to protect it from accidental touch, so he didn't have to defend its honor everywhere, and others, those with secure townhouses (stone ground floors) and ashigaru in residence (goekonin and/or daimyō) might not even carry it in town at all

Further, prior editions do not agree with you about racking. 3E, p.178: "A samurai who does not carry his katana typically displays it in a place of honor."

3E, p. 179: "The wakizashi carries an additional role that the katana does not in Rokugani society - it symbolically preserves the honor of its bearer. A samurai's last refuge for protest is seppuku, performed with the wakizashi. Although the katana is held in greater regard by the noble classes, the wakizashi is a constant reminder of a samurai's duties."

1E p. 37, and 2E PG, p. 36 notes that a samurai always racks his sword when entering a friend's home. He carries it into a stranger's or enemy's home.

Note that traditional has 3 positions for the sword, while L5R has 2.

  • to the left is ready to use - the samurai doesn't trust the host, and/or is warning the host not to trust them.
  • to the right is hard to use, and indicates a lack of current hostility. (note that there is a 
  • to the front is subservience - and while it's mentioned somewhere in 1E or 2E, it's not in the core. It's also mentioned in at least two period instruction manuals from the Edo period. It is literally placing the blade for inspection. There are also subtle nuances best ignored in play for hilt and edge direction in this case.

you do not carry your sword into your lord's house unless summoned - you rack it at the door, so the guards don't have to. (note that the guards are usually armed.) You also rack it at the door if the guards instruct you to, or if the summons specifies to do so. Or if you are not a bushi. A shugenja summoned might have, wear, and be proficient in Katana - but he'd better not carry it when summoned, and had better have his scroll case. If you are not safe enough in your lord's house to rack your katana, you're about to be either rōnin or dead soon anyway.

Bagging before racking is historically not uncommon when about - as bags are often easier to distinguish, and it prevents others from accidentally touching the sword; touching it was an offense which could result in a duel between samurai, and execution for any lesser folk. Touching the bag was still offensive, but not immediate-death type. Also note: it's not hard to draw a bagged katana - pop the knot (usually a single bow), revealing the handle, grab the handle, and pull. The saya will remain in the bag, thanks to the knot on the saya. 

Also note: wet silk stretches; the lacing, and the shark skin under it, and the wood of the saya, they are all very very unhappy when wet. The tightly woven bag keeps water, dust, snow, and mud out. The lacquer protects the wood only so much. The bag makes it MUCH easier to keep the weapon from environmental damage, in a land noted for lots of seasonal weather.

Note also - 5E is set in a relatively peaceful point. Only the crab and unicorn have active hostiles on the border.  15 years later, and all Rokugan's in a massive nasty civil war, but at this point, it's technically still officially peacetime (even if the occasional border village is changing hands after a fight...).

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