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Schmiegel

Spending Void point and critical strike

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I'm not understanding the rule about spending a Void point to "voluntarily not defend" and thereby take a Critical Strike to "gain a tactical advantage". (Pg. 268 of the core rule book, under Defending Against Damage). If you don't defend, you don't spend any fatigue to mitigate the damage. Wouldn't you then take all the damage? How then would you avoid being Incapacitated? There must be some passage somewhere in the rule book that explains this...but I can't find it. For one thing, I thought the only way to AVOID being incapacitated was to spend fatigue to defend against it. So if you simply opt NOT to spend fatigue, how is that helping? And therefore, how is there any "tactical advantage" to that..? I must be missing something painfully obvious. Won't be the first time, or the last.

"Shattering Parry" (pg. 36, core rule book) is apparently quite separate from the above. (This is where you may spend 1 Void point to dramatically intercept an attack with your weapon to increase the chance of survival, which is also referenced on pg. 270, although in that pg. 270 sidebar there is no mention of spending a Void point.)

 

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So the concepts of this game are a bit different than in others. Damage does not represent bodily harm, but rather how hard it is not to be harmed by a given attack. Actual "hits" are represented by critical strikes.

When you take *damage*, you basically have to defend against it, and the act of defending accrues *fatigue*. When that fatigue exceeds your Endurance, you are incapacitated.

If you cannot (or do not, as in the Void Point rule) defend, you do NOT add fatigue to your character. You only take a critical strike with a severity equal to the weapon's deadliness.

This is equally true whether you are incapacitated or not. If your Fatigue is 12, and over your endurance of 10, when you take a katana strike, you do not get extra fatigue. You "only" suffer a critical strike.

If you are not incapacitated and chose not to defend by spending a Void Point, then the damage value (and bonus successes of the attack) are irrelevant. You just ignore those and go straight to the critical strike resolution. So you can understand why this could be a worthwhile bargain when hit by an Otsuchi for 10 damage (assuming, for the sake of the argument, 2 bonus successes)! You can just ignore those and soak a measly crit of severity 3 instead. Of course, it costs you a Void Point, so you can't do this all day.

Hope this helps!

EDIT: and yes, the shattering parry is a completely different rule.

Edited by Franwax

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It is a slightly weird and nonintuitive way of doing things, 

I'm actually surprised armour deducts from damage and not critical strikes instead, because, as written, armour works by making dodging easier!

As written damage isn't really damage at all, it represents a sort of mixture of how hard it is to evade a blow with that weapon, and how good the weapon is at penetrating armour. 

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30 minutes ago, gareth_lazelle said:

It is a slightly weird and nonintuitive way of doing things, 

I'm actually surprised armour deducts from damage and not critical strikes instead, because, as written, armour works by making dodging easier!

As written damage isn't really damage at all, it represents a sort of mixture of how hard it is to evade a blow with that weapon, and how good the weapon is at penetrating armour. 

I don't disagree ;)

I just rationalize it by saying armor reduces the need to even dodge (e.g. just catching the blade on your shoulder guard is easier than avoiding the blow altogether), and that critical strikes actually find the gap in said armor to inflict a telling blow (so the overall toughness of the armor matters little). 0-2 residual severity crits can then be further interpreted as striking at the silk cords that hold armor pieces together - a kind of gap, but not deep enough to wound the target - therefore making it less effective against subsequent attacks (= damaged).

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10 hours ago, Franwax said:

So the concepts of this game are a bit different than in others. Damage does not represent bodily harm, but rather how hard it is not to be harmed by a given attack. Actual "hits" are represented by critical strikes.

When you take *damage*, you basically have to defend against it, and the act of defending accrues *fatigue*. When that fatigue exceeds your Endurance, you are incapacitated.

If you cannot (or do not, as in the Void Point rule) defend, you do NOT add fatigue to your character. You only take a critical strike with a severity equal to the weapon's deadliness.

This is equally true whether you are incapacitated or not. If your Fatigue is 12, and over your endurance of 10, when you take a katana strike, you do not get extra fatigue. You "only" suffer a critical strike.

If you are not incapacitated and chose not to defend by spending a Void Point, then the damage value (and bonus successes of the attack) are irrelevant. You just ignore those and go straight to the critical strike resolution. So you can understand why this could be a worthwhile bargain when hit by an Otsuchi for 10 damage (assuming, for the sake of the argument, 2 bonus successes)! You can just ignore those and soak a measly crit of severity 3 instead. Of course, it costs you a Void Point, so you can't do this all day.

Hope this helps!

EDIT: and yes, the shattering parry is a completely different rule.

 

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Sorry.....I tried to "quote" Franwax but it didn't work the way I expected it to, and all I did was make a mess. (I've never tried the quoting thing previously and obviously don't understand how to do it...).

But anyway, I do see why you'd want to ignore damage and just take a 3 crit instead. However I'm not getting why that happens. Implicit in this equation must be a rule that spending the Void point allows you to totally ignore the damage component. Intuitively, it seems like giving up and not defending would still end up with you taking the damage and therefore probably becoming incapacitated. Obviously that's not how it works though, and I was looking for the rule book entry that explained that.. So just to confirm what is probably the obvious, by using this option, the character takes zero damage (even though they're not defending), and "only" takes the crit value instead. I guess that must be because the character is saving the fatigue (i.e. not "bothering" to spend it to defend to mitigate the damage..).

Thank you for your patience and responses!! I'm trying to understand it so I can logically explain it to "my players".  When I'm stammering around and not giving a coherent explanation for something this major, I lose what little credibility I do have as a GM. One of my players is already complaining that the rule set for L5R role playing is extremely complex (we've only completed three sessions of actual game play).

 

 

 

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Yeah, basically, if you cap Fatigue, this means you become incapacitated (limiting actions) and are very easy to render Unconscious (taking you out of the fight) or very severely wounding you. 

Big, meaty blunt weapons like a huge club give you a lot of Fatigue damage because they're heavy and hard to block or dodge, and transmit force pretty good through armor if you're trying to shrug damage. So if that Hida clatters you with his metal baseball bat and you put the effort in to block all of it, you're basically done. You'll need a five minute breather and can no longer defend, so if Shosuro Bob comes up to you with a two-handed katana or Kakita Edgelord tries to show you the way of the crane, you're in a bad situation. Conversely, compared to three foot razor blades, a metal bat is unlikely to knock your limbs off unless that Hida has some serious training, and will probably just let you off with some cracked bones and bruising, or soak down to just cracking your exterior shell (armor). So, you may find yourself in a situation where it is mechanically beneficial to ignore all those years of training and embrace self-sacrifice (a quality attributed to void) and take Hida Slab's hit so that when Matsu Alice comes screaming up behind you with her nodachi you have strength left to defend yourself. This doesn't cause fatigue because there's not any effort put into avoiding the blow, you accept your fate and take the crit instead. This is why it costs a void point, because when you choose to use it will probably be to press an advantage.

Try explaining it this way - the "Critical Damage" inflicted by Deadliness/Severity is the only real damage (because it's lasting), Fatigue Damage (shortened to just Damage because it's way more frequent) is basically like most RPG's HP pool in that nothing important happens while you take it until you run out of it (in this case, exceed your Endurance). 

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Thank you, UnitOmega! That's a very interesting and entertaining explanation. Actually, I was beginning to slowly understand after reading the previous responses and then articulating my own response to those (thinking out loud, counting on fingers sort of thing....). Kind of like an energy saving light bulb very slowly turning on and producing muted light. I'd have to say your explanation completely wraps it up! Essentially I had to rethink my approach to how the fatigue/damage system works. You guys are most helpful! 

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3 hours ago, Schmiegel said:

Essentially I had to rethink my approach to how the fatigue/damage system works. 

Yes, coming from other games in which you are constantly getting battered around and levels are supposed to mean "rolling with the punches" or additional layers of calloused skin, L5R uses a very different narrative approach to combat, which to me seems more realistic.

Personally, I don't think armor should reduce fatigue, instead it should increase the ability to reduce criticals (aiding the fitness roll by one or more dice), but that's for a different thread.

When describing a "successful hit" I'd constantly need to remind myself that in L5R success means threatening critical damage (if not defended), not necessarily finding contact. Hope that helps.

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7 hours ago, T_Kageyasu said:

When describing a "successful hit" I'd constantly need to remind myself that in L5R success means threatening critical damage (if not defended), not necessarily finding contact. Hope that helps.

This. It's why I always try to say "a successful attack action" and not "an attack that 'hit' you" because as noted that's not the same thing.

It's the same reason why a 'duel to first strike' is won by the first party to land a critical strike, not just to do 'damage'.

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On 2/5/2019 at 1:10 AM, gareth_lazelle said:

It is a slightly weird and nonintuitive way of doing things, 

I'm actually surprised armour deducts from damage and not critical strikes instead, because, as written, armour works by making dodging easier!

As written damage isn't really damage at all, it represents a sort of mixture of how hard it is to evade a blow with that weapon, and how good the weapon is at penetrating armour. 

It's pretty much the same concept as Original D&D, except D&D was only one crit to kill...

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On 2/5/2019 at 4:10 AM, gareth_lazelle said:

It is a slightly weird and nonintuitive way of doing things, 

I'm actually surprised armour deducts from damage and not critical strikes instead, because, as written, armour works by making dodging easier!

Which I represent to be "because I don't have to dodge as much."

If you punch me with 0 bonus successes, you do one damage.

My standard clothes have a 1 physical reduction.

I have no need to dodge, because my clothes reduce the damage to 0.

A way I tend to resemble it narratively is if the person missed their TN to hit me, I've easily evaded their strike (no fatigue because it was easy). If they hit the TN but fail to overcome my resistance, I tend to narrate that as a 'glancing blow' of some sort, e.g. I didn't need to dodge/evade at all because my armor could soak the whole thing.

If they hit the TN and exceed my resistance, then I get a bit fancier with the evasion narration.

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On 2/8/2019 at 6:04 PM, Hida Jitenno said:

A way I tend to resemble it narratively is if the person missed their TN to hit me, I've easily evaded their strike (no fatigue because it was easy). If they hit the TN but fail to overcome my resistance, I tend to narrate that as a 'glancing blow' of some sort, e.g. I didn't need to dodge/evade at all because my armor could soak the whole thing. 

Exactly, if an opponent misses the TN it's not even necessary to dodge, but "hitting" the TN means that it's necessary to take fatigue in order to avoid actual damage. Narratively, in my games taking fatigue includes superficial scratches, bruises, ripped clothing, damaged armor (as a consequence of resistance), even if it only affects the aesthetics.

We're so ingrained to think that critical damage needs to be quantified that it's hard to reconcile taking a critical hit without a numerical value associated with that damage. My argument for why L5R makes more sense (compared to some other rpgs) is the ridiculous number of times a PC would take a gigantic amount of damage without it resulting from a critical hit, or when a critical hit rolls laughably low damage.

L5R does a great job of maintaining the threat of consequential combat with death but one of many possible outcomes.

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