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Zolt51

Backstab and ambush

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I did not see anywhere in RAW mechanics to handle attacking unaware foes.

We ruled it that the target cannot defend and thus automatically receives a critical strike if the attack is successful but the results, at least at low level seem pretty underwhelming. At worst it can result in 2 critical strikes, that add up to either a severe or permanent injury - but you're left with the victim still standing, at full endurance and pretty pissed at you.

Did I miss anything?

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just narratively say you kill it in one shot ? why roll if you want to do an auto-kill ?
if it isn't an auto-kill, then consider the opponent "uncouncious" (read: unware) and make the first critical +10 severity.
be careful with it though, a full "unaware" shouldn't be something easy to come by (and an adversary or pc can always spend a void point to avoit being uncouncious)

there is also the problem of knowing in what stance the "unaware" character is for his resist check (since you are not in a stance if you didn't play initiative).
it gets messy... welcome to l5r rpg!

(that doesn't excuse the bad design of losing all limbs and still being at full endurance though, but that is really just another subject).


tdlr: the unconcious condition also accounts for "unaware".

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Veiled Menace Style Rank 2
Assassination and other clandestine tactics are
frowned upon by many samurai. None can deny the
effectiveness of such techniques, however. By drawing
their enemy’s gaze away from the true threat, a bushi
can often tip the scales against a strong foe.
Activation: When you make a Martial Arts [Melee] or
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Attack action check using a
weapon in a one-handed grip, you may spend  in the
following way:
+: If you succeed, choose one unaware or Disoriented
target of your action. That target suffers a critical
strike with severity equal to your weapon’s deadliness
plus 1 per  spent this way beyond the first.

So your current rule basically completely invalidates a Rank 2 technique. 

Based on the wording of the Shosuro school ability, attacking an unaware target does nothing on it's own. Most samurai should not be attacking an unaware foe without probably taking some Honor hits (Courtesy, Honor or Courage depending on the situation) so most probably don't know how to maximize. Perhaps they still let out a big kiai, perhaps this is just that sort of martial arts movie. But as per RAW Unaware does nothing by itself to the attack, you need special training to actually capitalize on being an honorless dog. 

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Posted (edited)

well. unconcious condition mentions "unaware".
it really depends how "unaware" your target is and what is the "unaware' definition ?
don't expect this game to give it to you though, we both know it is fishy design.

edit: the honor hit is obvious, and irrelevant to the discussion.
edit2: and it doesn't make the technique useless, as its primary use is against disoriented targets or if you don't have a razor-edged weapon.

edit3: doesn't excuse the fact that "unaware" being "undescribed" is not helping. I'm open to define it in my houserule if you can come up with a good mechanical definition for it.

Edited by Avatar111

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8 hours ago, UnitOmega said:

Based on the wording of the Shosuro school ability, attacking an unaware target does nothing on it's own. Most samurai should not be attacking an unaware foe without probably taking some Honor hits (Courtesy, Honor or Courage depending on the situation) so most probably don't know how to maximize. Perhaps they still let out a big kiai, perhaps this is just that sort of martial arts movie. But as per RAW Unaware does nothing by itself to the attack, you need special training to actually capitalize on being an honorless dog. 

That does seem to imply that unaware does nothing of it's own yes... which is arguably better than the way we ruled it, because you do inflict endurance damage.

The way I see it if you manage to backstab an enemy, that's a "free" strike for you (unclear what ring he uses to resist, choose one based on what he was doing at the time?) , then both roll initiative and since he's basing his roll on Vigilance and yours on Focus, you've got a good chance to land another before he can do anything.

As to a samurai having no business attacking an unaware foe... most Lion tacticians would disagree to that. A well-executed ambush is a staple of samurai tactics. Besides when this did come up it was against nonhuman foes, who cares if they get a fair fight?

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Well yeah, so obviously, not calling a conflict structured time yet for a free attack is a good option for an ambush, also that means the opponent is probably rolling Vigilance for initiative, which should be lower than your Focus, so you will probably also go first in the actual Skirmish which follows if the dice are with you. 

In a one on one conflict, I do think it's an Honor hit - only some groups are actually prepared to maximize a "assassination" strike against an enemy. Obviously no deal for nonhumans, they don't count. Rokugan kind of follows an "all's fair" sort of thing with open warfare I think - if you mass archers that's kind of a "to whom it may concern" attack and sure it might not be glorious but it's not like you're going out of your way to shame an enemy with just some rando arrows or spears. And what you and your opposing army call an "ambush" is probably a matter for debate. 

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Posted (edited)

If it is an ambush (and the people being ambushed were not sleeping or totally unaware of the situation) there are no auto crit unless you have the kata. And even then, you need to win the intiative focus vs vigilance. And if you win it, you have a chance to use veiled menace before their turn and it would probably count as them being "unaware" but not "unaware of their environement" so they wouldn't be considered unconcious.

If you want to stab a random dude that is walking around the garden while reading a book, he could be considered "unconcious" thus take an auto crit at +10 severity on a hit after winning a focus vs vigilance initiative even without veiled menace. Unless he spends a void point. If he does, go back to the first example.

Spending a void point should only be for real badasses anyway, so if your player wants to be staby staby outside of a tactical ambush, i would let him do it at the +10 crit severity (still would need to win a focus vs vigilance ini). And if you really dont want your super strong bad guy character to be killed cheaply like that, make him spend a void point.

In both cases, if you lose the focus vs vigilance initiative, you are out of luck and he saw you coming.

You can increase the lethality of ambushes, but doing so is not as per the rules.

And at the lethality you mention, basically half smart NPCs could one shot your players!

I guess it is hard to do assassination, but then again, if you check the skill chapter, outside of skirmishes they suggest skill checks to "auto kill pack of minions" (and other stuff, even at range). So read the skill examples, I think it is martial skills? Or skullduggery i forgot. And that could work too.

Basically, is the target relevant? No? Then it is a one roll kill using the appropriate skill and TN.

Is the target relevant? Then it becomes much harder and I would play it out as I described above.

Though, nobody is right, you do you as the rules are malleable.

Edited by Avatar111

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6 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

I guess it is hard to do assassination, but then again, if you check the skill chapter, outside of skirmishes they suggest skill checks to "auto kill pack of minions" (and other stuff, even at range). So read the skill examples, I think it is martial skills? Or skullduggery i forgot. And that could work too.

Basically, is the target relevant? No? Then it is a one roll kill using the appropriate skill and TN

This. A lot of it depends whether it's part of a conflict scene or not - if it's basically a narrative "heist scene" and there just happens to be a lone, unaware guard in the way, then a skill check (the beta suggested Martial Arts) success basically means a "thwock" noise and a silent kill, rather than interrupting the tension with a change-of-scene, stances, initiative and lots of rules that aren't really justified for a single  minion.

The beta suggested "Stealthily dispatching a single Minion NPC guard outside of a conflict scene without alerting others" was a TN3 Martial Arts [Melee] Air check. 

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In my game, I came up with a houserule to deal with critical strikes not inflicting fatigue. Once a PC or NPC has suffered cumulative critical severity equal to or greater than their Endurance stat, they fall Unconscious. So if an NPC bushi with Endurance of 8 suffers two critical strikes, each with a severity of 4, he falls Unconscious regardless of having not suffered fatigue.

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38 minutes ago, KingHades said:

In my game, I came up with a houserule to deal with critical strikes not inflicting fatigue. Once a PC or NPC has suffered cumulative critical severity equal to or greater than their Endurance stat, they fall Unconscious. So if an NPC bushi with Endurance of 8 suffers two critical strikes, each with a severity of 4, he falls Unconscious regardless of having not suffered fatigue.

I'd suggest one minor modification: only greater than Endurance, not equal to.

You aren't incapacitated until you have fatigue greater than endurance, not just equal to; likewise, you don't become compromised until you have strife greater than composure, not just equal to.

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3 minutes ago, Hida Jitenno said:

I'd suggest one minor modification: only greater than Endurance, not equal to.

You aren't incapacitated until you have fatigue greater than endurance, not just equal to; likewise, you don't become compromised until you have strife greater than composure, not just equal to.

I was about to suggest the same ;) Makes it easier to remember if all follow the same pattern.

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Not a bad houserule!

There is definitely a "problem" (not sure if it is the right word but whatever) with how wounds and critical strikes stack up.

And honestly... Your rule is tight. And simple (which is the #1 goal, making a complicated rule is easy)

Only issue I see so far is if the dude becoming unconscious use a void point to wake up, he is still fresh? No fatigue?

You can also just not use void points for the npc, but I wanted to point out this possible outcome.

Otherwise seems pretty solid!

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3 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

Only issue I see so far is if the dude becoming unconscious use a void point to wake up, he is still fresh? No fatigue?

Well they would still have the crits that sent them there, so a couple of wounds or worse. But otherwise no more fatigue than they would have otherwise (if they got crits via double opps, they still got some fatigue along the way)

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22 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Well they would still have the crits that sent them there, so a couple of wounds or worse. But otherwise no more fatigue than they would have otherwise (if they got crits via double opps, they still got some fatigue along the way)

then the purpose of the houserule is basically only a penalty that cost one void point to avoid.

not saying it is a bad thing, just that it is what it is.

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Yes, I also read it as one more way to knock someone out. 

On the VP to shake the Unconscious condition, I don’t recall... can you do it in interrupt or is it on your turn ? In the latter case, the victim is open for a nasty crit in the meantime...

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17 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Yes, I also read it as one more way to knock someone out. 

On the VP to shake the Unconscious condition, I don’t recall... can you do it in interrupt or is it on your turn ? In the latter case, the victim is open for a nasty crit in the meantime...

interrupt. the purpose of the void point usage is mostly to avoid taking that "nasty crit" in the first place.

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On 3/11/2019 at 7:05 PM, Avatar111 said:

[...] there is also the problem of knowing in what stance the "unaware" character is for his resist check (since you are not in a stance if you didn't play initiative).
it gets messy... welcome to l5r rpg! [...]

Does anyone have an idea how best to tackle this?

Should I just pick the ring with the highest rating?

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13 minutes ago, Hansisaf said:

Does anyone have an idea how best to tackle this?

Should I just pick the ring with the highest rating?

Go check my houserule.

But tdlr is I always play an initiative, there are no "free rounds" in my game.

That is what Vigilance initiative is for.

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4 hours ago, Hansisaf said:

Does anyone have an idea how best to tackle this?

Should I just pick the ring with the highest rating?

There's no need to tackle this because it literally never happens. If someone is trying to backstab you (and it isn't a rank 6 Shosuro Infiltrator or you're not a minion), then you're in a conflict scene, which means you already rolled initiative. As a game system that relies HEAVILY on storytelling, it's literally impossible for you to just assassinate important (i.e., non-minion) NPCs. If you could, then they would not, by definition, be important NPCs, because narratively speaking, important folks should only be faced in impressive showdowns, with many one-liners being thrown in by both sides.

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15 hours ago, JBento said:

There's no need to tackle this because it literally never happens. If someone is trying to backstab you (and it isn't a rank 6 Shosuro Infiltrator or you're not a minion), then you're in a conflict scene, which means you already rolled initiative. As a game system that relies HEAVILY on storytelling, it's literally impossible for you to just assassinate important (i.e., non-minion) NPCs. If you could, then they would not, by definition, be important NPCs, because narratively speaking, important folks should only be faced in impressive showdowns, with many one-liners being thrown in by both sides.

I can't say that I agree. What if, as a GM, I want to allow my players to assassinate someone, like a Daimyo? The whole assassination could go wrong and his guards walk in just as they get that first thrust in. A Skirmish starts with the Daimyo wounded, but able to add something to the fight.

 

I could think of more ways where this could happen. Not everyone plays L5R the same way.

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5 hours ago, Hansisaf said:

I can't say that I agree. What if, as a GM, I want to allow my players to assassinate someone, like a Daimyo? The whole assassination could go wrong and his guards walk in just as they get that first thrust in. A Skirmish starts with the Daimyo wounded, but able to add something to the fight.

 

I could think of more ways where this could happen. Not everyone plays L5R the same way.

What you just described is how the rules say the game is played - the players Skullduggery in, then everyone rolls initiative, and their first action is an attack that deals its normal damage. The daimyo does... whatever, and the guards first round action is to walk in. If one of them botches the skullduggery roll, then the daimyo rolls initiative with Focus. If they all pass, its with vigilance.

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Posted (edited)

Dunno why it is so complicated even after we explain it clearly.

And no clue why he doesn't want to hear the right answer and that he is ok with totally unrelated sidebars.

But whatever.

 

Aware = focus initiative

Unaware = vigilance initiative

And there ALWAYS is an initiative.

 

There you go, again.

Edited by Avatar111

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Well, I have to admit that having characters roll initiative in their sleep feels a bit over-engineered ;)

(“Initiative is so easy that I can roll it in my sleep”)

One could be tempted to run that first attack on a sleeping target as a narrative check... Which leads me to:

3 hours ago, AK_Aramis said:

If you aren't in a stance, GM picks based upon your stated method. Sidebar, p. 224.

At first, when I read this, I asked myself: fine but what approach matches the stated method if the method is “I’m snoring in my bed”? Then I realized Void could work: you don’t know what’s coming your way (hint, it’s a ninjato coated with noxious poison), but you rely on blind luck and fate to explode your Fitness check against the severity 19 critical strike about to chop your neck off. 

This checks out. I’m good with that too. 

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19 minutes ago, Franwax said:

Well, I have to admit that having characters roll initiative in their sleep feels a bit over-engineered ;)

(“Initiative is so easy that I can roll it in my sleep”)

One could be tempted to run that first attack on a sleeping target as a narrative check... Which leads me to:

At first, when I read this, I asked myself: fine but what approach matches the stated method if the method is “I’m snoring in my bed”? Then I realized Void could work: you don’t know what’s coming your way (hint, it’s a ninjato coated with noxious poison), but you rely on blind luck and fate to explode your Fitness check against the severity 19 critical strike about to chop your neck off. 

This checks out. I’m good with that too. 

I'm away from books, but doesn't Unconscious (which you are if you are sleeping) have something to say about making rolls?

Note that you can (and should) spend a Void point in this situation to immediately wake up and not get ganked, which brings about the old discussion "but do NPCs have Void points unless otherwise stated?" A daimyo sounds like someone who would have Void points, though.

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