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Dueling Question?

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Shane said:

I suspect the design decision was to push to the point of a finishing blow in Iai duels. As you can't crit on an Iai kata use through opportunity this seems likely. Sure, there is a more mechanically valuable approach (strike spamming), but the in-setting expectation is the "one strike kill", so acting earlier and having to hack your opponent to death in a Iai duel is less glorious and likely to bring whispers and judgemental attitudes. So *how* you use the rules available as a player matters in the setting, I think.

I do agree that Predict and Center are sub-par by the look of them, but the decision to not allow Iai kata to crit could be very deliberate.

so basically, drawing your weapon before a finishing blow isn't... good?
so you just wait there, each turn, and use predict and.. hope ? since nothing else really allows for much maneuvering of the strife of the opponent unless you are an Ikoma or start using Fire social checks ?

nah, something's wrong.
if the system had something to force a strife game, maybe.
but as it is, you can't just have two guys staring at each other for X rounds just doing center and random social checks to give the opponent 2 strife or heal 2 strife.
well, that just doesn't seem logical to me.

adding the possibility of critical hits to Iai Kata makes the staredown game more meaningful, and it makes it more dangerous to not be in earth stance while playing your turn (ie: using void to center, or water to draw and random social check to heal strife).
 

Edited by Avatar111

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Ah, I see your point. That action finishing below does not automatically let you draw your weapon to do it. I would simply say that the finishing blow includes a prepare action for free. How you get round the fact that people without the right kata can’t draw and strike in the same action.

Giving the free draw for the finishing blow also makes taking the duel to breakpoint more attractive in rules terms. Good catch.

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35 minutes ago, Shane said:

Ah, I see your point. That action finishing below does not automatically let you draw your weapon to do it. I would simply say that the finishing blow includes a prepare action for free. How you get round the fact that people without the right kata can’t draw and strike in the same action.

Giving the free draw for the finishing blow also makes taking the duel to breakpoint more attractive in rules terms. Good catch.

thing is, there is no mechanics to bring the duel to "breakpoint".
the game doesn't have enough of those for it to be a valid/wanted tactic by the designers.

literally; fire stance +2 strife from opportunity, and predict (which if nobody wants to draw their weapon, is easy to avoid...)

not enough for it to be a relevant gameplay. the gameplay is about striking multiple times, which is fine and all. As I've said earlier, the fantasy of the "Iai one strike from scabbard" duel is not part of this system, or at least, not supported.

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1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

thing is, there is no mechanics to bring the duel to "breakpoint".
the game doesn't have enough of those for it to be a valid/wanted tactic by the designers.

literally; fire stance +2 strife from opportunity, and predict (which if nobody wants to draw their weapon, is easy to avoid...)

not enough for it to be a relevant gameplay. the gameplay is about striking multiple times, which is fine and all. As I've said earlier, the fantasy of the "Iai one strike from scabbard" duel is not part of this system, or at least, not supported.

Well, the strife does tick up equally for each player each turn, and you can use Water opportunity to reduce strife, right? So you can control the pace a bit.

But yeah, without a way to add strife to the enemy you won’t have a way to up it. Intimidate skills to incite strife, maybe?

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11 hours ago, Shane said:

But yeah, without a way to add strife to the enemy you won’t have a way to up it. Intimidate skills to incite strife, maybe?

Any check in Fire Stance to milk the opportunities... that’s the most reliable way I have seen so far. 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Any check in Fire Stance to milk the opportunities... that’s the most reliable way I have seen so far. 

Indeed. It's the main 'benefit' of fire stance in a duel - water is critical because of the free action to prepare or calming breath*, earth because the near-immunity to critical strikes**, air because of increased TN to hit that makes any opponent's strategy harder*** and void because of access to centre and the fact that you can't self-compromise when performing a void finishing blow****

 

 

* Without iaijutsu being able to critical aside from a finishing blow, it's basically vital for first strike and first blood duels.

** ignoring whether this near-immunity should be better or worse than it currently is, "you can't easily apply conditions or criticals to me" is the point of earth stance, turning it broadly into a straight race to incapactiation that a high-endurance earth character should win. 

*** especially at lower level, where an extra +1 TN is a huge honking deal on something like a 3 ring dice, 1 skill dice roll.

**** Yes, I get that the centre action sucks. But if the action is locked to the ring that makes the ring significant,, making the action itself appealing is a seperate issue and the houserule suggestion of combining predict and centre isn't a bad one.

 

13 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

the fantasy of the "Iai one strike from scabbard" duel is not part of this system, or at least, not supported.

At the risk of invalidating the paragraph above, about 75% of the time I use one-roll-duels, with TNs and approaches driven by narrative decisions. That actually feels a lot more like the archetypical samurai duel, and has the benefit of not dragging the spotlite off 2/3 of the players for 15 mins or so whilst we resolve a scene for one player in particular. It also means that in a one-round 'clash' in a mass battle, someone actually ends up injured after a fight scene that basically takes up the PC's action for a 1-hour mass battle round.

Some more formal guidance than just the boxout for one-roll-duels would probably settle most issues with the 'duel' scene type (like guidance on what you'd do with the TN if one player has an iaijutsu technique and the other doesn't, or a dramatically superior focus, or whatever). 

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Y’know, I wonder if we (who are trying to fix this mechanically) are going at this a little wrong? @Avatar111 is absolutely right that there are mechanical issues to the iai duelling. However, I wonder if we haven’t considered the narrative enough.

The intent of the iai duel is a one cut resolution. So perhaps the fact that you are better always striking is a mechanical issue, but not a story one. After all, how can you win an iai duel if you just wail at your opponent? Sure, they will be injured or dead, but anyone watching just saw you fail at iai. That’s got too be worth a glory penalty. Any if you go into an iai duel then deliberately don’t iai? Honour loss, for sure.

Low or no honour characters can do what they want, sure. Or those away from view can do what they want if they are willing to forfeit honour. But that’s not necessarily a problem in character or in setting; walking the path of honour is supposed to be difficult (see ninja, Giri, strife, etc). 

Perhaps thinking like this this will push people towards trying for the one-hit unmask victory; which makes all the options much more useful.

The one change I can see bing needed mechanically is to allow the free attack from unmasking to include readying 1 or 2 one-handed weapons. This is an exception-based rules, sure, but then so is the unmasking free attack.

So I wonder if they way to fix this is with Rokugani social expectations, rather than mechanics?

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3 minutes ago, Shane said:

Y’know, I wonder if we (who are trying to fix this mechanically) are going at this a little wrong? @Avatar111 is absolutely right that there are mechanical issues to the iai duelling. However, I wonder if we haven’t considered the narrative enough.

The intent of the iai duel is a one cut resolution. So perhaps the fact that you are better always striking is a mechanical issue, but not a story one. After all, how can you win an iai duel if you just wail at your opponent? Sure, they will be injured or dead, but anyone watching just saw you fail at iai. That’s got too be worth a glory penalty. Any if you go into an iai duel then deliberately don’t iai? Honour loss, for sure.

Low or no honour characters can do what they want, sure. Or those away from view can do what they want if they are willing to forfeit honour. But that’s not necessarily a problem in character or in setting; walking the path of honour is supposed to be difficult (see ninja, Giri, strife, etc). 

Perhaps thinking like this this will push people towards trying for the one-hit unmask victory; which makes all the options much more useful.

The one change I can see bing needed mechanically is to allow the free attack from unmasking to include readying 1 or 2 one-handed weapons. This is an exception-based rules, sure, but then so is the unmasking free attack.

So I wonder if they way to fix this is with Rokugani social expectations, rather than mechanics?

I agree, if there were decent options to put strife on the opponent during duel, or otherwise giving the option to crit with rising blade, or giving an option to take someone out of earth stance (predict can do this though, but you will lose to a character who decide to "wail" on you.)

The narrative sure is that one strike win is more glorious (or honorable) but the mechanics to achieve it are not available. If both contestants are waiting for the other one to be compromised, it can take a while, becomes very weird as the one woth most composure would surely win and you don't use the staredown mechanic because initiative becomes irrelevant.

A tweak to enable this narrative to be fun mechanically is also a solution, but it still requires a tweak 😕

 

 

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3 hours ago, Shane said:

Y’know, I wonder if we (who are trying to fix this mechanically) are going at this a little wrong? @Avatar111 is absolutely right that there are mechanical issues to the iai duelling. However, I wonder if we haven’t considered the narrative enough.

The intent of the iai duel is a one cut resolution. So perhaps the fact that you are better always striking is a mechanical issue, but not a story one. After all, how can you win an iai duel if you just wail at your opponent? Sure, they will be injured or dead, but anyone watching just saw you fail at iai. That’s got too be worth a glory penalty. Any if you go into an iai duel then deliberately don’t iai? Honour loss, for sure.

Low or no honour characters can do what they want, sure. Or those away from view can do what they want if they are willing to forfeit honour. But that’s not necessarily a problem in character or in setting; walking the path of honour is supposed to be difficult (see ninja, Giri, strife, etc). 

Perhaps thinking like this this will push people towards trying for the one-hit unmask victory; which makes all the options much more useful.

The one change I can see bing needed mechanically is to allow the free attack from unmasking to include readying 1 or 2 one-handed weapons. This is an exception-based rules, sure, but then so is the unmasking free attack.

So I wonder if they way to fix this is with Rokugani social expectations, rather than mechanics?

Yeah, for me it's solved as a narrative problem. You get one strike action if you're in an iai duel; two if they compromise before the first resolves.

You strike and don't achieve your objective that round? You lose. No next round to swing again.

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1 hour ago, Hida Jitenno said:

Yeah, for me it's solved as a narrative problem. You get one strike action if you're in an iai duel; two if they compromise before the first resolves.

You strike and don't achieve your objective that round? You lose. No next round to swing again.

Basically, get in earth stance and take out your weapon (because who needs iai kata) and chill doing nothing for a few rounds? If you have less total composure than the other duelist, no choice but to strike through their earth stance and hope to incapacitated them in one shot?

Doesn't make sense...

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20 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

Basically, get in earth stance and take out your weapon (because who needs iai kata) and chill doing nothing for a few rounds? If you have less total composure than the other duelist, no choice but to strike through their earth stance and hope to incapacitated them in one shot?

Doesn't make sense...

But as soon as you take out your weapon in an iai duel (assuming the Rokugani draw and strike convention) and you aren’t striking, you have stepped outside the conventions of an iai duel. Neither glorious, nor honourable.

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Actually, you know what? I think the conventions of an iai duel might have changed between editions. The iai duel bit in conflicts don’t mention one strike duels at all, just that the weapon(s) may not be drawn before the duel. So that implies that the old idea of staredown followed by one strike might not be the intent. It could be more a position change, react, draw, posture, strike thing. Perhaps duels in the new edition are meant to work this way, hence the mechanics?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Shane said:

Actually, you know what? I think the conventions of an iai duel might have changed between editions. The iai duel bit in conflicts don’t mention one strike duels at all, just that the weapon(s) may not be drawn before the duel. So that implies that the old idea of staredown followed by one strike might not be the intent. It could be more a position change, react, draw, posture, strike thing. Perhaps duels in the new edition are meant to work this way, hence the mechanics?

Exact, the "one strike" fantasy is not something really viable, for the most part, in this version of l5r.

A slight adjustment; allowing Iai Kata to be able to crit on 2 opportunities helps to implement that fantasy without making it easy. So if you, like many others, enjoy the idea of the possibility of one strike duels, then I would suggest that very slight houserule to you.

Otherwise, you need to rely on compromising your opponent, but as we discussed this is not something the system really supports in a fun way during duels.

Overall though, you are right, this edition never mention any "rule" about duels being only one strike and mechanically doesn't really support it.

And I am all good with this hence why my only houserule on duel is to allow Iaijutsu kata the option to deliever critical strikes. I find it fixes 99% of the issues I had with the duels.

Edit; and mechanically, I am really fond of initiative being meaningful in duel so that the staredown becomes important. With a good initiative and the ability to crit with Iai kata it gives the option to start with a defensive predict action in earth or air (predict earth, most probably) and do an Iai kata to crit on your next turn (or even on the first turn if the one losing the initiative didn't go for earth stance)

Giving the edge to the duelist with an Higher initiative, considering the lore and the existance of earth stance, is something I enjoy. As it makes earth stance slightly more manageable and allows for one strike Iai wins (though it definitely won't be an easy thing to achieve early on) and still leaves the "wailing on" tactic very viable. Plus the staredown becomes reaaally important, as I feel it should be.

Edited by Avatar111

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In previous editions, if you didn't outright kill your opponent or successfully strike to first blood, the whole thing immediately ended without resolution or devolved into a clash until someone yielded or died. I think that if the intention is to reconstruct the thematic feel of an Iaijutsu Duel, it really needs refined parameters within the current ruleset (what is or is not acceptable actions in an iaijutsu duel) or is mechanically rewritten so the one strike kill is achievable without exploding dice, rings maxed out, or higher rank kata.

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I really like the drama of waiting and baiting your opponent into becoming Compromised, then going for the Finishing Blow. Accomplishing this via the Predict action as well as actively antagonizing via a Scheme action to inflict Strife seems plausible to me. The problem is that a Finishing Blow with a 2-handed grip on a katana is nearly always a kill since it inflicts a Severity 14 critical strike (Severity on a Finishing Blow = Deadliness x 2). Because the target is Compromised, they cannot keep any successes on their roll to downgrade the critical strike that contain Strife. So it seems like any duel that results in a Finishing Blow is almost a guaranteed kill.

I'm going to show my players a duel between NPCs that ends with a Finishing Blow, but the winner only has her katana in a 1-handed grip (no chance to switch grips after using Iajutsu: Crossing Cut to draw it in the previous round). This still results in a Severity 10 critical strike that will permanently ruin her opponent's arm and prevent her from using a 2-handed grip any time soon. Just some food for thought.

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Posted (edited)

predict action is not a reliable tool, very easily avoided and only put 4 strife on the opponent while fire opportunity can guarantee at least something, predict action isnt high enough of a reward for the risk. its only purpose is to take people out of earth stance.

scheme action... well, fire stance gives 2 strife as an opportunity, you could achieve the same result and deal fatigue with a fire strike. There are no scheme action to really inflict strife, it is basically only "2 strife" no scaling, nothing... not a fun mechanic.

tdlr: the "game" to compromise the enemy is not supported under the current mechanics and rules.
BUT, that is OK.
duels are meant to be much more about an exchange of blows in the current rules. Actually, even in the ficitons so far, every duels was an exchange of blows, never a "one shot thing" (except Toshimoko vs a Mantis noob, but hey, that is NORMAL)
so we need to get the idea that duels are only one strike out of our mindset.
unless you are higher rank, then eventually some duelist have the capability to do a one shot win.

on the deadliness of a finishing blow, yes it is instant kill most of the time. you cannot become compromised in a duel, it is that simple.
use water stance to heal strife, or accept defeat and stop the duel.
if you are about to become compromised and still want to go on, it is at your own risks... the opponent could always show you mercy and willingly "miss" his finishing blow. but in that case, as a GM, I consider it as the blade is basically stopped at an inch from your face and you better accept defeat if you don't want to lose a ton of honor.

Edited by Avatar111

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17 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

the opponent could always show you mercy and willingly "miss" his finishing blow. but in that case, as a GM, I consider it as the blade is basically stopped at an inch from your face and you better accept defeat if you don't want to lose a ton of honor.

If your opponent has actively taken steps to spare you and could have landed a finishing blow with the results available, I'd agree. Certainly I'd be more than happy to consider that the narrative effect if a PC wanted to do that to an NPC; technically you haven't drawn 'first blood' but if a katana is resting lightly on your throat and yours is still sheathed it would be wrong not to acknowledge you've been beaten.

 

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4 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

If your opponent has actively taken steps to spare you and could have landed a finishing blow with the results available, I'd agree. Certainly I'd be more than happy to consider that the narrative effect if a PC wanted to do that to an NPC; technically you haven't drawn 'first blood' but if a katana is resting lightly on your throat and yours is still sheathed it would be wrong not to acknowledge you've been beaten.

 

It is a question of honor, one that prince Sotorii definitely lacks. In multiple occasions he should have accepted defeat and stop the duel, but he always keep pushing on despite his opponent's courtesy.

If a duelist wants to go that way, it is shameful, but it can be done. I personally consider that if you could hit with a finishing blow but decide not to keep the successes on your roll that the opponent (and judges) should understand he was beaten.

Obviously, this is mostly for "honor" duels, as if you really think showing mercy to your opponent won't make him forfeit, either because he lacks honor or other reasons, then you can always decide to gut him with the finishing blow.

I think I just like to take advantage of the roll and keep mechanic, and honor, to answer the question about the high deadliness of the finishing blows. In so many fictions or samurai stories we have seen that holding a death blow and showing mercy is a very proper way to go. Obviously, the bad guys or reckless people will just want to go on in a fit of rage... And since you had your one chance at a finishing blow and didn't take it, you now need to beat the opponent with added difficulty.

But that is the price of honor.

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Posted (edited)

Maybe a bit Maho

 

But my personal house rule is that during Iaijutsu duels you only get 1 Attack Action, after which the score its tallied up and whoever has the highest score wins. So the Iaijutsu techniques have a bunch of bonuses behind them, as they make it easier to hit first, which is worth a bunch of points, as well as inflicting a bunch of extra fatigue.

 

An alternative house rule I have is that any excess damage above an individuals Endurance counts as a Critical hit, with a severity of the excess. I have found that this works quite well

Edited by EternalKeeper
Typo

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Another thread-maho action here.

Finishing Blow triggers "[t]he first time their opponent becomes Compromised or unmasks."

Because a conflict scene which starts the duel is a new scene, the most strife a character will begin with is half their composure. Nobody should be beginning the duel scene already compromised.

Thus, a character MUST compromise before the first time they unmask. The finishing blow would then by triggered by their becoming compromised. Nobody will be reaching the first unmasking before the first time becoming Compromised.

However, reading it this way makes the "or unmasks" language superfluous. Does that mean there's a finishing blow triggered for both 1) the first Compromise AND 2) the first unmasking? As noted the duel doesn't end until the combat round finished, meaning there's time for a compromised character to unmask after they get with with finishing blow (assuming they are capable of taking their turn after).

Or is it just one, when the opponent compromises, and the unmasking language is just unnecessary extra?

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I think the unmasking note is future-proofing, there may be future rules or abilities which maybe change strife mitigation or other factors, so you could theoretically start a scene Compromised, and thus would be immune to the trigger of Finishing Blow, which would be bad. 

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1 hour ago, Hida Jitenno said:

Another thread-maho action here.

Finishing Blow triggers "[t]he first time their opponent becomes Compromised or unmasks."

Because a conflict scene which starts the duel is a new scene, the most strife a character will begin with is half their composure. Nobody should be beginning the duel scene already compromised.

Thus, a character MUST compromise before the first time they unmask. The finishing blow would then by triggered by their becoming compromised. Nobody will be reaching the first unmasking before the first time becoming Compromised.

However, reading it this way makes the "or unmasks" language superfluous. Does that mean there's a finishing blow triggered for both 1) the first Compromise AND 2) the first unmasking? As noted the duel doesn't end until the combat round finished, meaning there's time for a compromised character to unmask after they get with with finishing blow (assuming they are capable of taking their turn after).

Or is it just one, when the opponent compromises, and the unmasking language is just unnecessary extra?

It could also be a clash in a skirmish and not a new scene thus a character could basically start a duel compromised already, though unlikely, it is probably safer to write it as such.

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2 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

Because a conflict scene which starts the duel is a new scene, the most strife a character will begin with is half their composure. Nobody should be beginning the duel scene already compromised.

This is incorrect. While the scene of the duel is a (probably but not necessarily) a new scene, the duel itself is probably not. It's entirely possible that before the duel has officially begun one side has a way to needle the opposition into compromise.

 

1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

It could also be a clash in a skirmish and not a new scene thus a character could basically start a duel compromised already, though unlikely, it is probably safer to write it as such.

I'm AFB, but aren't finishing blows specifically excluded from clashes? I have a vague recollection of it being so, but it's been a while since I read that section.

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19 minutes ago, JBento said:

I'm AFB, but aren't finishing blows specifically excluded from clashes? I have a vague recollection of it being so, but it's been a while since I read that section.

Nope, other way around, the sidebar on Clashes explicitly calls out they use the rules for Finishing Blow. 

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1 hour ago, JBento said:

This is incorrect. While the scene of the duel is a (probably but not necessarily) a new scene, the duel itself is probably not. It's entirely possible that before the duel has officially begun one side has a way to needle the opposition into compromise.

Ah, I guess that's just a GMing difference, then. Any needling and such would be a Narrative Scene to me, and then the initiative for the Duel begins a Conflict Scene, ergo a new scene and reducing strife to half composure.

I guess you could do it the other way. Start the conflict scene, do RP and stuff, then roll initiative.

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