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FFG Max Brooke

[Focus Topic] Intrigue and Duels (Week 6)

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Greetings L5R Testers!

This week, our discussion topic is Intrigues and Duels! These are major ways of settling disputes in L5R, and thus we want to hear about your experiences with them!

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

•How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

•Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?

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I've run several duels.

The participants of one of them were Keinosuke and a PC, an Isawa Shugenja. The Isawa was unable to make use of last strike, since he never drew, but intentionally stressed out Keinosuke to force a compromise or other reaction. He placed quite a bet on Keinosuke's honor... and won on that score, even as he lost the duel.

The others have been in mass combat, as clashes.

  • Ise Zumi vs Goblin. Dead goblin Lots of yoyoing of the TN to hit the goblin. BORING.
  • Isawa vs Goblin. Dead goblin. Boring.
  • Shosuro vs Dark Moto. Dead Shosuro, badly injured Moto. pretty close to boring, except that the Player wanted the character dead.

Not a one of them took less than 4 rounds. All of them were boring for at least one of the participants (me) and usually both.

Had two intrigues.

  • They succeeded in convincing the commander that they just wanted Keinosuke as a witness, resulting in no duel with keinosuke. Was one round long.
  • The scripted on before the battle. Due to issues with not understanding the how, nor why, of the point system in the adventure, just did it as separate Vigilance goals for each. They won each and every topic  in one round, by ganging up using the help rules.

Intrigue needs more clarity.

Duel needs a complete rewrite to matter.

The problem is that there's no tension, and no reason not to just bash each other with strikes ... especially now that the forced cracking isn't present, only the finishing blow (which wasn't fatal in any of the three clashes) was triggered.

I'd rather see duels resolved with just a straight roll of Weapon vs Weapon, and move on, or make them into guessing games, where the TN to hit climbs, but so does the glory for 1-hitting and ending the duel.

At no point should the TN to hit drop; that lead to a 7 round duel of +2, -2, +2, -2,... until the +0, which was followed by a strike. then strike, strike, strike. 

I don't mind intrigues, but the one in the adventure doesn't follow the rules format, and when done in the rules format instead of the adventure's is too easy.

 

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On 11/9/2017 at 5:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

Greetings L5R Testers!

Howdy!

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This week, our discussion topic is Intrigues and Duels! These are major ways of settling disputes in L5R, and thus we want to hear about your experiences with them!

•Have you run an intrigue

No, I have not run and will not be running an Intrigue.

I'm probably not your target demographic for social combat, because I hate social combat. I think a more lightweight system (in which characters roll only when roleplaying CAN'T solve something) is more interesting. It feels less cold and mechanistic, and it's more fun to play. 

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or duel? If so, who were the participants?

Not yet.

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•How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

n/a

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•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

I like duels. I think they're one of the most fascinating parts of L5R. They're also relatively time-consuming, exclusive (because at most two players are involved), and dangerous. 

My ideal L5R game is a 20+ player online game or LARP. If the game was played weekly, I'd like to see someone dueling every week, either as a practice bout or to resolve a conflict.

In a regular tabletop game, I wouldn't want to see a duel more than once every few sessions.

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•Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?

The rules for dueling aren't organized well in the current version of the corebook. I had to develop a flowchart, because nobody except my crunchiest player (who proofreads legal documents for a living) could figure out what to do when.

Edited by Doji Meshou

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14 hours ago, FFG Max Brooke said:

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

 

We have run tons of Intrigues so far but only one Duel. Intrigue participants were always our Three Dangerous Ladies (an Akodo Commander, an Isawa Elementalist, and a Doji Diplomat). The only Duel was the Akodo Commander and the ronin dude from the example adventure. 

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How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

Both went fast because there ain't much to do in either: assist and scheme/center until you win. There are also many shortcuts like abusing Advantages/Disadvantages or Strife/Finishing Blow to end the conflict quickly. No Intrigue ever got past four rounds. The single duel lasted two rounds. The first few times, Intrigues ate up quite a lot of IRL time (more than an hour) but once we warmed up to the system it dropped to 20-30 minutes. The duel lasted something like 10 minutes because I already had a game-winning plan with my Akodo Commander and the Dice Gods were with me. 

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•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

Lots of duels, one intrigue max. We really like duels, but social situations tend to be resolved via roleplaying and a very limited use of Social Skills - the kind of social combat Intrigue represents are chaffed upon in my gaming group. 

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•Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?

One confusing point was that our Diplomat was kinda... meager in Intrigues while the Commander could easily carry the fight with extensive use of Command and her Playfulness Disadvantage. Like, the only Intrigue we have lost so far was the Diplomat soloing some NPCs. Courtiers surprisingly lack an edge in Intrigues, and we found that highly interesting

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On 11/9/2017 at 6:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

Greetings L5R Testers!

This week, our discussion topic is Intrigues and Duels! These are major ways of settling disputes in L5R, and thus we want to hear about your experiences with them!

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

•How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

•Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?

•I've run both duels and intrigues multiple times each. All of my players have dueled and intrigued against both each other and npcs.
•The longest duel was probably a bit over 3 minutes where as the average intrigue was the same, 3-5 minutes, though they were meant to be fast-paced and had low point requirements (3-5) and had back and forth RP between each roll to determine the TN.
•True duels should be something to be avoided, unless you have a death wish. Intrigues arn't bad, but i'll probably stray away from using them too often, only when the situation feels appropriate. Alot of social interaction can just be single roll or rp'd out.
•At first I was adding the +2 from two handing a katana after doubling the deadliness, instead of considering it deadliness 7 before the doubling when it came to finishing blows. Needless to say quite a few people got off lucky during the first session until I realized my mistake. Other than that, it all seems about right.

I wish there was an action like the opposite of a calming breath, a provocation action that gave someone +1 strife or something. Finishing blows make duels really interesting and tense, but not when both duelists just take water stance and use calming breath+opportunities to grind away strife every turn. At that point it's just a 1 on 1 skirmish with no range rules.

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On 11/9/2017 at 6:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

We have run Multiple duels but only 1 Intrigue. 

The one Intrigue we have run was the one the Beta Adventure forced us to run. The rules seem straight forward but it really broke up what was already in our opinion a shakey adventure. We stop multiple times to ask ourselves "Why are we arguing with the wizened Crab elder. He obviously knows more about this than we do". In all of our games since we have never found an appropriate time to whip out the rules when a moderate amount of Role-playing worked just fine. The whole thing seems kinda unnecessary. (Also, it seems like whichever said has more people has a massive advantage)

 

I've paired my Kakita Duelist  up against a bunch of opponents, both in game and out-of-game screwing with the rules while we were on dinner break. 

On 11/9/2017 at 6:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

Duels rarely last more than a round, though going through the steps can be kinda time consuming. I'd say at least 10-15 minutes. We can get down to 5 if we are going through the motions a lot. 

 

Our 1 intrigue lasted a while as we tried to figure everything out. Once we figured it out we got the whole thing knocked out in 2 rounds. A lot of time spent going over options that didnt appear to have matter all that much.

On 11/9/2017 at 6:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

Ideally, Duels would be a regular occurrence. They are useful as a means of settling matters of honor and the Clash mechanic is amazing and thematic for dedicated duelists in a skirmish. 

In our history of playing we could only think of a single scenario where we would have liked to use the Intrigue system: During a court debate where both sides were attempting to convince a governor of the guilt/innocence of samurai accused of murder. Other than that, Roleplay seems to work just fine.

On 11/9/2017 at 6:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?

While not confusing to use, I think there are some spots that might not be clear to new readers. The difference between a formal Iaijutsu duel and an unsanctioned duel should be covered in more detail. While its implied, it is not clearly stated that the rules for keeping the Katana sheather until the first round in a duel to first strike also applies to Duels to first blood and to the death. 

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- Multiple Intrigues so far. Intrigue framework is flexible enough to easily use it for challenges like searching a forest or having a games night at an inn. Very intuitive.

- Way less duels. Sadly, most of the duel-chances got defused :P. Most of our duel experience are mock duels and one-shot scenes rather than regular campaign. 

- I have no idea how long they take! Never thought about checking the time. Intrigues didn't feel like they were "too long", though; two of the duels devolved into that (Center spamming), but after we agreed that Center-spamming is boring AND inefficient, they accelerated to an acceptable pace.

- I can see having an Intrigue every other or even every session. All characters can participate in them, and the structure of 1` action per round per character helps naturally make sure that every person on the table gets to speak, instead of someone dominating the encounter and going into "verbal duel" with NPCs while other people don't know/are too shy to throw in. We don't perceive Intrigue mechanics as a threat to roleplaying; more like an extra set of roleplaying inputs that help us generate even more interesting and fun roleplaying output. 

- Traditionally for us, duels were a martial outlet for our bushi to get busy in social settings where skirmishes are very unlikely. Once in two or once in three sessions, assuming no skirmishes happened, sounds about right. Maybe even rarer. But making duels more friendly towards non-obsessive duelists and giving them some purpose beyond settling matters of honor might mean we will get more of them. There is already a good reason to spar (regenerating Void Points from assessment). We would like some info about how to incorporate duels into scoring Rhetorical Points into larger intrigues (ones that last more than a scene!). Turning Iaijutsu into a niche "very pro" form of dueling instead of the IAIJUTSU OR BUST dueling standard will definitely help, because demands and aesthetics of that specific form of dueling didn't really appeal to many of our bushi players. Dueling being "bushis thing" instead of "duelist thing" will help rekindle the interest.

- Intrigues could use an explanation about what happens when a character wants to change their goal - either before finishing their current one, or after doing so. We also feel that there should be some use for Initiative Score generated during the Intrigue, even if it's just the "compare your Focus [Initiative] values to see if you can preempt him!". Also, apparently Lord Shiba's Sacrifice can work in Intrigues, as long as all your friends are in a distance of a kick : P. 

 

Edited by WHW

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I tend to run intrigues and political shenanigans as a staple for the players to deal with, no matter what level of society, so they are rather important for the setting. The one action per round does help those who might be more shy players (I now have younger players who I have gotten interested, but are at that awkward stage), and this might help them step up.

As to the mechanics, The duels need a minor tweaking to cut back on 'Center-spamming' as mentioned by the  poster above.

 

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants? 

Two Crane duelists doing a test bout to assess thier own skills 

•How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)? 

It took a bit, when getting used to the new skills and how they are used. It sped up after we stopped fiddling with Center Spamming.

•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

As I am running a campaign based on Intrigue and social tension during a paranoid period of the Empire, I kinda have little intrigues involving the players across the spectrum, or all sorts. 

 

 

 

Edited by TheWanderingJewels

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Last night, ran another social conflict. Simple, straight-forward, "The Kenku is not an Oni, Hirumasan," vs "The kenku is an oni and to be destroyed, Hirmuma-sama".

The thing I feel most missing is a countdown clock, as in The One Ring - Only so many failures allowed.

The unpleasantness of the duel meant that, the three points they could easily have justified it, they avoided it intentionally.

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I like both Intrigues and Duels, but their resolution seems weird.

- Intrigues : the more people you have sharing an objective, the faster they can accumulate enough rhetoric points. Either a character has the right ring/skill, and they use Persuade, or they don't, and they use Support.
I think each group should have only one attempt per round to generate rhetoric.

- Duels : the "Center until someone has too much Strife" game is no fun. But going "Strike, strike, strike" doesn't look better.
Duelling should be a nerve game for the characters, not for the players. They should involve the characters' skills, not the player's skill to bid right during staredown and guess the other player's Ring.

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On 11/9/2017 at 6:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

Duels vary rarely. In general, we would only like to see duels happen when it is really appropriate to the story. Game session wise, can't give an exact number of duels per x game sessions. Duels work best when the story has set up the stakes riding on the duel. It takes time to get to that point where the stakes have been raised and the one on one fight is about more than beating the opponent. Heck, even losing the duel may be an option the PC has to undertake such as letting an old man best the PC so he may keep face with his people. 

Intrigues maybe every other game session if they become more interesting. We want to partake in social interactions most every game session, but not sure intrigues are the best mechanism for that character interaction.

 

On 11/9/2017 at 6:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

We have ran many of each with characters from rank 1 to rank 5.

First PCs:

  • Shinjo Outrider
  • Iuchi Meishōdō Master
  • Doji Diplomat
  • Kakita Duelist

We switched characters after getting tired of the lack of animal handling rules/riding rules and also so we could try more schools.

Second PCs:

  • Isawa Elementalist
  • Shiba Guardian School
  • Kitsuki Investigator
  • Ikoma Bard

This third group was to better test out some of the sneaky stuff so we went all in with a troop of Scorpions.

  • Third PCs:
  • Bayushi Manipulator x2
  • Shosuro Infiltrator x2

 

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Intrigues:

We liked intrigues better than duels and liked that it could offer the PCs each an opportunity to do something.

Each group of PCs took part in Intrigues. We made sure to try the different types of intrigues. They were okay. Nothing here wowed us. We used each group at ranks 1-5.  

At levels where the TNs were a bit more in line with PC capabilities, the PCs would tackle things one on one. Otherwise when they couldn't hit the TN on their own they would work as a group assisting the face character. Assisting the Face also was a go to when strife would be an issue. This way the assisting PCs could siphon off the strife.

The players were quick to figure out the best way to game the intrigues as fit with the actions the characters would take. The way the mechanics keep pushing themselves to the forefront creates this situation where players are focusing on the mechanics more than they otherwise would and the push to have the mechanics inform roleplay instead has the mechanics taking away from the roleplay.

We found ourselves starting to just ignore the rules, going with the flow, and not bothering to make it an intrigue as the players were great at creating social conflict and compelling story without the mechanics dictating actions. From a GM perspective Intrigues are okay and with some players it works better than with others.

 

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Duels:

Duels as written were rather boring. Like others, center spamming was an issue. We quickly made centering/provoking a first round only option, which still didn't feel quite right. From a player perspective it is boring and leaves out most of the group. From a GM perspective it is also boring.

The laundry list of duel types is kinda nice, but overkill.

For all the focus on various types of duels, we found the omission of magical duels rather glaring.

Honor and Glory numbers for duels don't jive with the tables in the honor and glory sections.

We spend spent over 40 minutes on the first duel (partially looking up info and partially center spam issues). Other duels I want to say lasted about 20 minutes and I didn't write down the number of rounds. It felt like way more than it should have been, no matter the actual number.

Each PC dueled each PC. The Kakita Duelist took on a bandit lord, the guy you duel in the intro adventure, and a vet bushi. During those we had a player run the NPC to keep people engaged a little more.

We ran duels with characters at ranks 1-5. Martial characters did better vs non-martial charters. The Duelist didn't feel like they had a real edge in the duel.

We didn't like the ways duels played. We tried a few things to make it more interesting, before setting on choosing to make center/provoke as first round only options (before giving up on the dueling rules all together):

  • We tried allowing defense rolls, but that drug out the duels.
  • We tried making center and provoke each cost 3 strife to use. This helped a bit.
  • We also tried for magic duels using katana stats and rolling theology instead of martial arts, but that didn't feel quite right.

 

Dropping Dueling:
Duels played better when we simply treated them as skirmishes with narrative driven goals. I.e. first blood, first strike, death, etc. The amount of honor and glory seems more fitting if it is based on the situation instead of a standard. We followed the guidelines as outlined in the honor and glory section of the book. This method worked okay with magical duels as well. At higher ranks, those watching had to stand back a bit once people were throwing earthquakes and tornadoes at each other.

From a narrative perspective, duels and conflicts in general, mean more when the outcome means more than simply win or lose. There needn't be more rules here for this, rather there should be guidance for crafting the story such that each conflict carries some weight.
The way the game presents conflicts, it doesn't guide the GM on setting the stakes. The game tries to create drama via mechanics instead of through the narrative and that ends up with the game ringing hallow.

 

The bigger problems:

The design philosophy of creating drama and stakes via the mechanics isn't effective. You really need to let the mechanics support player/character decisions and let the drama come from those actions and the consequences of those actions.

We see the mechanics driven drama failing throughout the system. The Center spamming of duels that is supposed to be that intense squaring off of two foes is instead a bunch of needless mechanics that slows down play and take the joy out of what should be a tense moment. Strife is extra bookkeeping that isn't the RP tool you wanted it to be. Even tying void points to disadvantages is dangling a carrot to try to try and force drama.

There are a lot of problems we see creeping up in the game. The main sources are strife on the dice, the game wanting to mechanically enforce good & bad stuff on each roll, and mechanics creep (i.e. creating more rules and subsystems to fix rules issues and patch holes).

 

What worked for us:

The various types of conflicts should really be using a single a mechanic. We don't need different assessment checks and different rules for the various types of conflicts (except maybe mass combat...maybe).

Here is what we tried and it worked for us far, far better than what is currently in the book:

  • We unified the mechanics so all conflicts only require knowing one set of mechanics and so that intrigues, duels, and skirmishes play better.
  • We played with Tactics as the only skill needed for assessment checks. We get why you want the different ones, but unifying conflicts so that you can slip in and out of one to another and keeping the rules the same across the board makes for a better game play experience.
  • We basically added a side bar about setting goals for the conflict and the number of accumulated successes and opportunities needed to drive toward that goal. This helped to create a unified experience. This would allowed conflicts to be extended beyond just combat and cover other scenarios where there is a goal or goals the PCs are trying to achieve with various skills. This basically made things like gathering info or surviving the wilds a thing where individual actions added up to bring the character toward their goal. This made it more like everyone had a hand in success instead of just one character making the roll.
  • We nixed the critical table and deadliness on weapons.
  • We change it so that on a crit in a conflict, the attacker chooses what effect the target received as fit the situation. Outside of a conflict the target chose the effect.
  • We removed gaining strife from the roll.
  • We turned strife into a social fatigue and treated it the same as we were now treating fatigue. This made social combat and intermixing social and martial combat easier and more intuitive.
  • We added a few conditions based on the unmasking options such as fleeing, compromising, or having an outburst that was equivalent to a minor loss of honor/glory as fit the situation.
  • We adjusted so that once a character was over their  resilience/composure they couldn't use dice with stife symbols on them and that it didn't immediately impose a critical hit, but the PC could choose to let it be a crit and pick one to be affected with to then be able to use those dice until damaged again. This was actually a lot more fun.
  • We got rid of calming breath and instead allowed meditation to work like medicine for removing strife. This was so much better especially with the other changes we made to strife recovery.
  • We removed any stances from removing strife/social fatigue.
  • Changed void stance so that if you spend void points to add and keep a die in void stance, you may spend up to half your rank (rounded down) of VP on the roll instead of the usual one. This helped a bit at higher levels where TNs were 4+ and the PCs and NPCs really needed to hit and spend opportunities.
  • Changed fire stance so that each bonus success taken gives them 2 social fatigue. Made it an all or none situation when choosing to count the symbols or not.
  • Changed strife recovery to same as fatigue. Without strife being generated on rolls this worked out really well.
  • Changed advantages so all can remove strife or give the re-roll, but the strife removal is only once per game session.
  • Changed disadvantages so no longer associated with void point recovery and so all disadvantages can either cause re-roll or strife as fits the situation. Typically we let the player choose.
  • We also moved disadvantages to after Step 5 (keep dice) so they had more of an impact at higher level play where they are basically ignored.
  • Altered meditation so once per scene as a downtime action may gain/regain a void point as a TN2 Void Meditation roll.
  • Changed backlashes such that if the roll misses the TN the character gained fatigue or social fatigue by the amount they missed the TN. Player's choice based on the situation. We nixed the rest of the backlash effects as they were too easily gamed.
  • We allowed the use of social skills to inflict social fatigue (and thus crits) and ran intrigues with both goals the PCs were putting bonus success toward and with NPCs actively targeting the PCs and vice versa. Characters mobilizing an NPC as they trap them in polite conversation for a round or using games to get someone intoxicated were a fun change of pace.
  • We also did some tinkering with mass combat to make it more of a unified game experience but that is not the topic for now. Basics were that we had goals that bonus successes and opportunities went toward as PCs and NPCs vied in tactics rolls. We really preferred to treat mass combat as a backdrop for the actions of  the PCs giving them tasks beyond "kill as many enemy troops as possible" and more strategic missions that then turn the tide or slow the losses (like the first few suggestions in the Mass Battles section). Not big fans of playing commanders running armies.

 

Side notes:
You should probably change "Cannot increase a ring to a value greater than lowest ring + Void Ring" to "Cannot increase a ring to a value greater than the sum of your two lowest rings" as a void based PC can game advancement reaching ring 5, skill 5 for a lot less xp than other PCs.

Talisman's made higher level play for the casters more manageable. Otherwise the TNs on invocations are just too high. Opportunities never get spent as there are never any dice left over after hitting the TN unless everyone assists the caster. Even then it is far from guaranteed.

The current set-up for backlash doesn't work. No matter what it is gonna get gamed. The way you're approaching this and other parts of the system just isn't working. You're trying too hard to make strife a thing and shoehorn it into the game. Having strife connected to the dice does not work. It doesn't inform roleplay it just becomes a stat to manage. The more effects it triggers the more it is something to be gamed.

 

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2 hours ago, Exarkfr said:

- Duels : the "Center until someone has too much Strife" game is no fun. But going "Strike, strike, strike" doesn't look better.

Duelling should be a nerve game for the characters, not for the players. They should involve the characters' skills, not the player's skill to bid right during staredown and guess the other player's Ring.

This has kind of been my experience. I want my characters skill at dueling to be more important and not my abilities at playing paper rock scissors.

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Only played a couple of sessions, with the GM using adventures of his own designing rather than the "A Ronin's Path" sample adventure.

For Intrigues, these seem to run fine, with the social-orientated PCs dominating and the non-social PCs (two out of four in session one, single non-social PC in session two) generally supporting.  Since all the players can be involved to one degree or another, I don't see this being an issue if it takes several rounds to accomplish the goal threshold, though some sort of caveat that the PCs can only fail so many rolls before they fail the Intrigue scene would be a good idea; otherwise there's not much to stop PCs from simply rolling until they succeed, and that can drag things out.

We've done a few duels, both using the original version of the rules and with the V2.0 updates.  Since in all of our cases it was one PC (usually my Kakita Duelist) involved and the rest of the PCs watching from the sidelines for an iaijutsu duel, as things stand this has too much potential to drag on until one side exceeds their Composure and a finishing blow is triggered.  Given that the majority of duels are going to be one-on-one affairs between a PC and an NPC, I really do think this needs to streamlined so that the entire sequence takes a single round to resolve.

For those duels that don't revolve around iaijutsu, just hand-wave it so that the entire competition takes place within the single round, with the caveat that most "duels" generally have a pre-set time limit and that it's bad form and very impolite to have duels using methods that are not quickly resolved; if it takes more than 10 minutes to fully resolve, then it's not a suitable option for dueling as Rokugan culturally defines a duel.  This way, the duelist PC gets to have their moment, and the rest of the group aren't sitting around for several minutes while waiting for Center/Provoke roulette to finally resolve itself in a finishing blow.  Also, maybe clarify if the Iaijutsu Cut kata can indeed be used in a duel; I can see Rising Blade (difficult to pull off, but decisive in most duels if you do).

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One thing I'd note is that your last post noted that you saw the target number for rhetorical points in intrigues as being set at the focus of the target character, while, the rules still have it set at x1. I like x2 better.

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18 hours ago, rcuhljr said:

This has kind of been my experience. I want my characters skill at dueling to be more important and not my abilities at playing paper rock scissors.

That's basically the spectrum, isn't it? "How much of this conflict should be resolved via mechanics versus roleplay/player thought?" 

That's not unique to duels; it's the same with any part of a roleplaying game.

I like this way -- that blends mechanics and player thought -- better than a purely mechanical system. It feels more engaging to me.

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On 11/9/2017 at 11:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

  1. Intrigue - Shosuro Infiltrator versus NPC Ashigaru, spreading rumours at an Inn.
  2. Intrigue - 3 x PC versus Gakuto & 1 x PC, Ronin's Path example adventure
  3. Duel - Hida Defender versus Keinosuke, Ronin's Path example adventure
  4. Duel - Akodo Born/Kakita Trained Duellist versus Teeth-Taker, Clash during Mass Battle, Ronin's Path example adventure
On 11/9/2017 at 11:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

  1. One round, using Whispers At Court, only a few minutes
  2. Maybe three rounds, maybe ten minutes. Players were relatively unused to the rules (one was brand new both to RPGs and L5R) and flicking back and forth to find opportunity tables and Gakuto's (modified) statline.
  3. Maybe 5 rounds? Over half an hour - although if this was re-done post update, Hida Takeshi's high Earth/Water rings wouldn't have stopped him getting finishing-blow-ed much earlier on.
  4. One round. Iaijutsu with a massive string of explosive successes incapacitated and double-critical-ed him with a Katana, which with Way Of The Crane thrown into the bargain resulted in a messy death. 
On 11/9/2017 at 11:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

  • Probably not every week but either one or the other should probably feature more weeks than not (assuming 'Duels' includes Clashes in Skirmishes or Mass Battles as well as set-piece duels)
On 11/9/2017 at 11:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?

  • Just delays looking up stats and (above all) opportunities, plus the inevitable delays because we have only my tablet with the App for dice-rolling.
  • Intrigue Objectives could probably do with looking at; 'Discredit Someone'  as an objective now reads "A character can back someone into a corner by causing them to have an outburst unmask . They can do this by inflicting strife on the target (or getting others to do so), which in turn is something they can accomplish by using various  (see page 18) and techniques."
    • There is no equivalent to Centre in intrigues - a technique-agnostic action which can apply strife to someone as a success; i.e. a social analogue to 'attack'.
    • Fire opportunitites have (justifiably) reduced the rate you can hand strife to someone.
    • Unmasking is purely at the individual (or the GM's) discretion - you can never cause someone to unmask. Maybe the objective should read 'cause them to become compromised'?
      • That would also need a note that should they cease to be compromised, the objective would/would not cease to count as achieved (as decided by the developers).
16 hours ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

For those duels that don't revolve around iaijutsu, just hand-wave it so that the entire competition takes place within the single round, with the caveat that most "duels" generally have a pre-set time limit and that it's bad form and very impolite to have duels using methods that are not quickly resolved; if it takes more than 10 minutes to fully resolve, then it's not a suitable option for dueling as Rokugan culturally defines a duel.  This way, the duelist PC gets to have their moment, and the rest of the group aren't sitting around for several minutes while waiting for Center/Provoke roulette to finally resolve itself in a finishing blow.  Also, maybe clarify if the Iaijutsu Cut kata can indeed be used in a duel; I can see Rising Blade (difficult to pull off, but decisive in most duels if you do).

I could definitely see this. The main complaint of my players was that a duel took too long (in real time) given that it's essentially 1 PC versus someone else with only that PC 'doing anything'. Whilst I like the centreing/mind games/waiting for an opportunity as a narrative idea, I think this was done better in Edge Of The Empire: Fly Casual, where there was a 'staredown', 'initiative check' and then essentially a single round of combat with super-bonus-advantage options (read:one side gets a finishing blow) that almost inevitably results in the loser going down.

Making duels more like this would make them faster in real time and hence prevent any problem with loss of engagement after 2-3 rounds by the players who aren't involved. It would also mean that one-round-duels (clashes in Mass Battles) are more likely to produce an actual result that matters to the overall conflict. 

 

 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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4 hours ago, Doji Meshou said:

I like this way -- that blends mechanics and player thought -- better than a purely mechanical system. It feels more engaging to me.

Yeah, I just don't like forcing people out of sections of systems if they're not themselves skilled at something.  The character is the one who's good at the task, punishing duelists who don't like guessing games seems punitive. At least for me the engagement was always the fact that my characters reputation, honor, and often life were on the line. I've never once had a problem of not being engaged in a duel.

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1 hour ago, rcuhljr said:

Yeah, I just don't like forcing people out of sections of systems if they're not themselves skilled at something.  The character is the one who's good at the task, punishing duelists who don't like guessing games seems punitive. At least for me the engagement was always the fact that my characters reputation, honor, and often life were on the line. I've never once had a problem of not being engaged in a duel.

To each their own. My beef is ultimately that I don't think conflicts are very interesting when they're (1) primarily determined by character stats or (2) primarily determined by dice rolls. It's why I don't and won't use the Intrigue rules, for example. :)

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16 hours ago, Doji Meshou said:

To each their own. My beef is ultimately that I don't think conflicts are very interesting when they're (1) primarily determined by character stats or (2) primarily determined by dice rolls. It's why I don't and won't use the Intrigue rules, for example. :)

I can +1 this. I think that there could be more tweaking to the balance of duels, In my experience the optimal approach is actually to just spam strike and never use center. Provoke is just terrible, too. I like the concept, but there's some refinement to be done there, I believe.

I've also turned to using intrigues as a guideline more than anything and it seems to work well. I have the players make a case, actually debate their point, and then adjust the TN based on how good of an argument it was. A bit of skill, a bit of luck, and if they're using an npc's preferred approach there's a high chance that a good argument just auto-succeeds and hands them the point. If they give such a good argument I can't think of a way to retort on the NPC's round, they immediately gain 1 or 2 bonus points and the intrigue usually ends either right then, or after just a bit more coaxing if it's a task with real stakes and high threshold.

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On 11/10/2017 at 0:00 AM, FFG Max Brooke said:

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

•How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

•Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?


One of each so far.
DUEL
Participants in duel was Daidoji defender (shiba) [PC] VS Uesugi ronin[NPC] duel type; first strike, resolution was fine ended  18 - 3
One round, and about 20 minutes, as we did it step by step with the book.

It was kinda nuts since the Daidoji rolled 9 on her initiative, would have faced a ton of strife(lots of exploding dice) and then we hit the odd situation where we noted the following:
[Shiba]
“Once per scene, when a character at range 0–3 makes a check, you may
negate all [Strife] results on that check. Then, the character removes strife equal
to your school rank.”


And did a quick ruling that yourself was indeed a character within range 0-3.

This lead to an odd situation where we simply noted that in a duel to first strike you could pretty much bet max allowed on the staredown as the you will only be hit by the final strike if none achives the objective (which is quite easy).
odly enough the npc didnt achive enough opportunities to actually land a crit.

INTRIGUE

Participant
All 3 PCs, 2 angry lions (handled as one NPC) and a Kakita Lordling [NPC]
A problem immediately became clear, there is no guidelines for how many RP should be given to an objective, none at all. i therefore put a goal of 2 on everything to not bog it down and thus the intrigue was done in like 1.5 turns.

Goals was 
[Lions] Make one of the pc confess to a veiled insult (from bg)

[PC 1 ]Make the Lions leave

[PC 2]Hear more about the lions secrets.

[PC 1, 2nd goal] after the lions left discredit them.

Afterwards we agreed that i need to comb the book for some sort of guideline on RP's.
I found one guide line, in the example adventure there is a single intrigue scene where the goal is valued at 14 RP's. But sub goal or milestones set at 4
We also agreed that intrigue was best used for large court scenes or other sort of public debates,


About point 3.
I would like to do intrigues about 20% of the time, and duels about every 5th session or when apropriate.

About point 4.
We desperately need guidelines for RP value of objectives.
 

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Rolling the dice takes quite some time. It is not a fast process by any means, especially if you are trying to maximize opportunities.

The result from this is rather simple. Rolls need to happen as seldom as possible. The less you role the smoother goes everything. I think it is an important to minimize the amount of dice rolling you do during a conflict.

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On 11/9/2017 at 3:00 PM, FFG Max Brooke said:

Greetings L5R Testers!

This week, our discussion topic is Intrigues and Duels! These are major ways of settling disputes in L5R, and thus we want to hear about your experiences with them!

•Have you run an intrigue or duel? If so, who were the participants?

•How long did the intrigue/duel take to resolve (how many rounds and how many minutes)?

•In your ideal L5R campaign, how often would you want to be undertaking either of these activities?

•Have you run into any points of confusion in intrigues/duels?

Ok, lets get to it then. 

Yes, I have run duels between all these participants


Kakita Duelist 

Hiruma Skirmisher (with a durable katana)

Matsu Berserker 

Togashi Yamabushi (Togashi monk with a daisho)

Shinjo Dervish

Most of these matches were pretty ridiculous... and when I mean ridiculous, I mean silly.

Kakita v Hiruma:  This was a series of the Hiruma striking as earth with the kakita centering.  The Hiruma just kept swinging and swinging regardless of the Kakita, hoping to get a few hits in before baiting out the finishing blow.  Once the Kakita let go with the finishing blow, the hiruma just parried with the durable katana, activated his School technique (the Hiruma was wearing travelling clothes with an extra +2 resistance from striking as earth), then the regular finishing blow reduction dropped it to 0, which cause his armor to just drop in durability.  After that the kakita couldn't really go back to an Iai stance because her sword was drawn.  Instead the two swung at each other with striking as air/striking as earth until the Kakita's sword was damaged, then destroyed by hitting the Hiruma's traveling clothes.  With no katana, the Kakita was finally struck down.

This was really silly.  The 1st edition Hida duelist was an abomination, as they could defeat any other school once they reached rank 2 (which allowed them to make a roll to completely ignore one hit... like an iaijutsu strike), and this fight was a spiritual successor to that.  

Kakita v Matsu:  The Matsu played the manipulate strife game well, drawing the duel out way, way too long.  After what seemed like forever, the Kakita actually gave up the finishing blow, since she had no good way to reduce her strife.  Since the Kakita was in Iai-stance, she could not parry the finishing blow and was taken out.

Kakita vs Togashi:  This was the most boring of all.  Two samurai staring at each other for days as they try to mess with each other's strife. The Togashi took water stance a few times to draw both of his swords in a niten stance.  When the rising strike came, the Togashi parried with the Wakizashi, then swung down hard with the katana in Fire stance.  It was almost enough to get though wounds/fatugue, but since losing them doesn't mean anything, the Kakita started striking as air and won out.

Kakita vs Shinjo:  Speaking of striking as air.  The Dervish stayed true to his name and just came out swinging as air.  no matter what the dervish kept in air stance and striking as air.  The kakita missed the Rising blade against his air stance+striking as air (tn5 is not easy to hit).  But the Shinjo did hit on the return since the Kakita was not striking as air.  Then they started swinging, the Kakita got lucky once, but so did the shinjo, dropping the Kakita.

Hiruma vs Matsu:  The Matsu went first and used striking as water to defeat the Hiruma and his striking as earth  This was like a skirmish without the fun bits.

Hiruma vs Togashi:  The Togashi broke his Katana on the Hiruma.

Hiruma vs Shinjo:  The Shinjo broke his katana on the clothing of the Hiruma.

Matsu vs Togashi:  The Togashi won out because he got the first hit in.  No one missed, it was just a slugfest.

Matsu vs Shinjo:  the Shinjo went first and the Matsu could not hit him thereafter.  The Matsu player did NOT have fun on this one.

Togashi vs Shinjo:  this was a game of a spinning shinjo and an unmoving togashi.  The Togashi played the strife game by centering and declaring air, while the dervish attacked.  but when the finishing blow came, it was just whiffed, and the shinjo would get a strike in.  Then it started again from the top.  it took three iterations of this for the Togashi to finally drop.

Takeaways:  None of these were really any fun.  Even the one that had the feeling of the old RPG (Kakita vs. Matsu) wasn't very fun.  Once the Kakita's Strife was above the Matsu's it was only a matter of time (a LOT of time).  Once the Kakita wasn't threatening everyone with the instakill Rising bade finishing move, duels just became skirmishes with less options.  Breaking katanas are not fun.  Katanas breaking on traveling clothes is even less fun. Auto parrying your finishing blow is not fun.  The devil is really in the details here. There are multiple issues here, and how techniques have been approached as individual discrete actions makes it difficult to approach those issues systemically.  

 

Time it took to run the duels: too long.  Every duel went on too long except for Matsu vs Togashi and the Hiruma duels that were not against the Kakita.

In my ideal L5R campaign duels would be used relatively often as a tool of political intrigue and legal assassination.  

The only thing that is confusing is that I always feel like I am missing something when it comes to duels in this edition.  Mostly because I'm confused at why things seem to work the way they do.  I have gone over duels with a fine toothed comb, since it is the part of L5R I love the most, but I still feel this way.  Like, I may have made some mistakes here, but I'm not sure where they are. 

 



 

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There are 4 actions in the current duel mechanic

  • Strike: Attack.
  • Center: Make their next attack harder
  • Provoke: Make your next attack easier
  • Calming Breath: recover 1 strife or 1 fatigue.

Thematically, Provoke feels like it should do strife, instead.

I miss the old Raise or Strike of 3E. That was quick AND exciting. 

 

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Center does a bit more than that: deny one stance to your opponent and dump Strife on them if they attempt to assume it. It’s true that inflicting Strife sounds like it should come from Provoke, but at the moment, Center is performing that role... maybe the second part of the Center effect could be moved to Provoke, or let them both have the same secondary effect?

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2 hours ago, sushicaddy said:

Kakita vs Shinjo:  Speaking of striking as air.  The Dervish stayed true to his name and just came out swinging as air.  no matter what the dervish kept in air stance and striking as air.  The kakita missed the Rising blade against his air stance+striking as air (tn5 is not easy to hit).  But the Shinjo did hit on the return since the Kakita was not striking as air.  Then they started swinging, the Kakita got lucky once, but so did the shinjo, dropping the Kakita.

It looks like you either ran this before the update, or missed the 2.0 changes to Air stance and Striking as Air. Striking as Air no longer increases the TN, and the Air stance will only increase it by 1 (TN3) for school rank 1-3 characters or by 2 for rank 4+ characters.

It doesn't address the other issues, but the places where the Shinjo was too hard to hit should be improved.

The Kakita may have been able to use his wakizashi instead for Iaijutsu, but switching to water stance to be able to sheathe the katana without losing your main action is probably not worth it.

I'm actually a little uncertain about the mechanics of the latest Striking as Air, but I'm assuming your total kept dice remains the same. In this case, the new Striking as Air tends to add about 0.5 successes to your next action.

Edit: If Razor-edged removed Razor-edged when the weapon is Damaged, things would work a lot better. The blade is now dull and less effective until it's sharpened, but it's not getting Destroyed by the second blow on traveling clothes.

Edited by ubik2
spelling

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