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CrazyRadio

Way of the Dragon makes no sense, aka "I parry with my feet"

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Way of the Dragon (WotD) is a poorly written technique that implies a lot but does not clearly fit in with the rules of the game, and is not up to the same level of clarity and coherence that other techniques are.  The way that the technique is implied to work, in the sense that a Mirumoto bushi uses their off-hand weapon to either block an attack for better defense or trap an opponent's weapon to set them up for another attack is a very flavorful mechanic that is fitting to the fighting style traditionally used by the Mirumoto.  However, the way the technique is written requires a great deal of GM fiat to make sense of any situation beyond a Mirumoto holding two sharp sticks.

1) WotD works against "melee weapons."  There is no definition of "melee weapons" in this game.  While the Natural tag states that unarmed attacks are indeed weapons, are they "melee weapons?"  The term "melee weapon" seems to imply an attack made at a certain range, yet WotD does not specify the Range at which it works.  The only real definition of a "melee weapon" in the L5R 5e Beta is a weapon that uses the Martial Arts [Melee] Skill. 

2) Does WotD work against say, a dagger thrown by Soaring Slice at a far range?  Does WotD work against shuriken that are thrown?  This is a good point because daggers thrown with Soaring Slice use the Melee Skill, while shuriken thrown use the Ranged Skill.

3) If WotD can work against any melee weapon, including thrown daggers, can I "trap" such a weapon? 

4) Perhaps one of the strangest ways to use WotD, and a ridiculous example I decided to include in the title, WotD just requires that you use a "readied weapon."  The Natural tag states that Natural weapons are always considered readied.  Can a Mirumoto bushi be wielding a nodachi to fight with, and just Ward and Trap attacks with his legs, that are a readied weapon?

It is my belief that WotD requires clarification on exactly how it works.  Does it require that the Mirumoto bushi be wielding a melee weapon?  Does it only work against attacks made at a certain range?  If a weapon is thrown, can it still be trapped?  I do not believe it will take significant additional word count to clarify some of these issues.

Please do not bring in a traditional Rule Zero Fallacy with this issue.  Yes, I do not think a reasonable GM would allow such immersion-breaking craziness such as trapping thrown daggers or parrying with your feet (though perhaps at your table, you might!).  The purpose of this post is because I want the game to be the best that it can be so that it does not need to rely on case-by-case GM rulings.  Any GM is always free to change the rulings in the book and no game can be perfect, but I think this particular school ability can be better.

Edited by CrazyRadio
Grammatical errors.

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I raised a few problems with this technique here.

I would reword it as such:

Way of the Dragon (School Ability): Once per round during a duel or skirmish, when you are targeted by an Attack action check with a melee weapon, if you have two readied melee weapons, you may use one of those to ward or trap.
• If you ward, the attacker must reroll dice showing  or  up to your school rank.
• If you trap, reduce the TN of your next attack check against the attacker until the end of your next turn by your school rank (to a minimum of 1).
This weapon is considered not ready until the start of your next turn.

 - It's a "two-sword school", so it should work when you have two swords (no using it with a bow, a yari, your teeth, a plate...)
 - The bonus you get for trapping should not last too long, or it makes no sense (end of scene is just too weird)
 - If the weapon is no more Readied, it prevents further combo with other techniques (unless it is the intention)

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I also posted this topic on Reddit, where there has been some discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/rokugan/comments/7iurlx/way_of_the_dragon_makes_no_sense_aka_i_parry_with/

I understand the feel that this technique wishes to evoke, but it suffers from a number of issues. Without considering balance concerns, the technique seems very much written for "L5R people" who know about the Mirumoto and Niten already and don't need it explained. Further, I believe the way it is written allows for a bunch of silliness (some of which was pointed out in the opening post) that is unintended. 

I know word count is always a factor when writing techniques, and that the authors don't want to write something that looks like it was made for a rules lawyer, but even without adding a bunch of word count or making it look overly technical I think it can be amended for some clarity. 

In particular, please address these issues:

1) Should WotD be able to be used with natural weapons, such as hands, legs, and bite? Many people who freshly read L5R will see the Dragon have a lot of monks traditionally known for unarmed battle and may believe this is intended. 

Is this the intent? Perhaps my hyperbole of parrying with your feet was intended. 

2) Clarify what sorts of attacks this can be used against. Thrown attacks? Can they be trapped? Can it be used against natural attacks that use the Unarmed skill, since the rules as they currently exist wouldn't consider them "melee" weapons? 

I think a simple answer to this could be noting a certain Range the technique works at, such as 1-2 (if you want to mirror the Range of Crescent Moon Style for example, another technique about using a weapon to respond to close range attacks) or 0-2 if you do not want WotD to inherit the Range 0 vulnerability of CMS. 

3) Clarify how long Trap lasts. To be honest, I was surprised it lasted the entire scene. I would expect like most effects (such as "Striking as" Katas) it to last until the end of the next turn. This gives a good visual of catching your enemy's weapon, or throwing them off balance. 

Is it mean to be a status effect that lasts until triggered? Should the Mirumoto be able to put his swords down, do something else, take out his bow to shoot his enemy, and still get the bonus?

If so, I think the word "Trap" is misleading and a new term should be considered, such as "Expose" or something else. 

 

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Given that part of the mechanical definition of weapons is what skill they use: [Melee], [Ranged], or [Unarmed], simple from a rules read it sure looks like it should be "only weapons that use the Martial Arts [Melee] skill" 

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With the rules as written, that is indeed the case. But it can lead to odd scenarios where you are using Trap against a knife thrown with Soaring Slice, but can't use Ward against someone trying to punch you in the face. 

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On ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 8:53 AM, Exarkfr said:

 - It's a "two-sword school", so it should work when you have two swords (no using it with a bow, a yari, your teeth, a plate...)

Easiest thing to do there would be to require 'Razor-edged' weapons, I guess.

 

I'd agree it should work on martial arts [melee] or martial arts [unarmed].

One way to stop it working on soaring slice, or (if unarmed is included) Water fist, is to say:

 

  • Once per round during a duel or skirmish, when you are targeted by an Attack action check using martial arts [melee] or martial arts [unarmed],  if you have two readied melee weapons with the razor-edged quality, you may use one of those to ward or trap if the attacker is within the maximum range of that melee weapon. 

 

This means:

  • you need two swords (or a sword and a knife, or whatever)
  • you can't trap a thrown weapon from range 3
  • if someone is swinging a range 1 weapon, and you have  knife and a sword, you need to use the sword to parry, not the knife
  • If someone is swinging a naginata....no, this doesn't work. Using maximum range means a daisho is incapable of warding or trapping a range 2 strike with a spear, which it should be able to.

Could just restrict it to 'within range 2' Theoretically a shuriken might be thrown at range 1, but that's a close enough 'throw' that I don't mind someone deflecting it with a sword when the throwing hand is within reach of the blade (just swinging for the hand would probably generate a miss); it's not the same as 'cutting a longbow arrow out of the air' feats of swordsmanship. 

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2 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Easiest thing to do there would be to require 'Razor-edged' weapons, I guess.

I think it's too restrictive.
It should work with hook-swords, dao, bokken... and other swords. And jitte (not razor-edged) are mentioned in the school description  (though it also mentions an "open hand" <sigh>)

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The school write up mentions single sword plus open hand style, so I'm pretty sure it was at least intended to emulate taoist swordsman style of a single sword (jian) using a free hand to manipulate and strike the opponent. So natuural weapons definitely shouldn't be excluded. 

I guess you could add "This ability cannot be used when using a weapon in two handed grip", as the biggest departure from the intent (and also source of biggest power imbalance) is using a weapon in two handed grip and using kicks for the ability.  Locking Mirumoto into single handed grips seems like a fair trade-off, as it forces them to use inferior stats on their weapons, which will often equalize the bonuses from the ability. 

Edited by WHW

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