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Monkey Bloke

Invisibility and fighting

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One of the players in my game came up with a question we couldn't see an obvious answer for in the rulebook.

Using Cloak of Night he turned his character invisible, but asked what the effect of this was in terms of combat. 

Assuming he succeeds well enough to be invisible for two rounds, what happens when he attacks an enemy?

The Choosing Targets out of Range box on page 253 mentions "a lack of visibility" and advises that the invisible character cannot be targeted except by the spending of opportunity subject to GM call, with no solid advice i could find about spends to see someone that is invisible. 

The other option would be to look at the obscuring rules and either use, or maybe ramp up the most extreme option in obscured.

Is there something I've missed? Has anyone dealt with this question  at their table?

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25 minutes ago, Monkey Bloke said:

One of the players in my game came up with a question we couldn't see an obvious answer for in the rulebook.

Using Cloak of Night he turned his character invisible, but asked what the effect of this was in terms of combat. 

Assuming he succeeds well enough to be invisible for two rounds, what happens when he attacks an enemy?

The Choosing Targets out of Range box on page 253 mentions "a lack of visibility" and advises that the invisible character cannot be targeted except by the spending of opportunity subject to GM call, with no solid advice i could find about spends to see someone that is invisible. 

The other option would be to look at the obscuring rules and either use, or maybe ramp up the most extreme option in obscured.

Is there something I've missed? Has anyone dealt with this question  at their table?

The moment you decided to play this game, you accepted that you will often have to houserule things.

Basically, do what you and your players feel is fair.

Onward to the next question!

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What I would do:

Option 1.

require 1 opportunity to be able to hit the invisible character, unless that character is not feeling/being active, in which case it costs 2.

Any attacks that character makes while invisible cost him 1/10th of his honor, and possibly strife unless he's a ninja.

 

Option 2.

Go off the rules for 4th edition: if you make any attacks or similar moves, the Kami are angry with you and make you visible again.

You can't cast any more spells of that element this encounter, but you get an extra kept die that is set to the opportunity face on the attack that makes you visible again.

You may also lose honor/gain strife for this blatant disregard for Bushido.

Edited by Krofinn
For clarity

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1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

Do you lose honor if you use that invisibility to sneak on a goblin and gut him?

Honor is overrated. War is war.

I would probably argue that yes, you would still lose honor. Not as much, but still a small hit.

Whether honor matters or not is a different discussion... (Of course it matters! Being highly esteemed by the Samurai in power potentially gives access to said power- and maintaining power balance is an important duty for any good Scorpion samurai!)

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14 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

Honor is overrated. War is war.

Hmm.. But, I would argue, not in this setting. Arguing about what Honour actually is - with different factions' varying views on Bushido - is one thing. Being uninterested in it is quite another.

This is a setting where magic happens, the social order is the legal framework put into place by literal gods whose servants some people can speak to on a direct, intelligable basis and who can invoke 'divine intervention' on a regular basis on behalf of those whom they deem 'worthy'. 

On 4/7/2019 at 12:23 AM, Monkey Bloke said:

Assuming he succeeds well enough to be invisible for two rounds, what happens when he attacks an enemy?

The Choosing Targets out of Range box on page 253 mentions "a lack of visibility" and advises that the invisible character cannot be targeted except by the spending of opportunity subject to GM call, with no solid advice i could find about spends to see someone that is invisible. 

The other option would be to look at the obscuring rules and either use, or maybe ramp up the most extreme option in obscured.

Is there something I've missed? Has anyone dealt with this question  at their table?

The 'lack of visibility' is more intended for 'no line of sight' I think, and the comment about range was referring to an opportunity in the Beta that let you spend * to increase the range of a martial arts (ranged) attack - not sure if it's still in the rules or not.

My response would probably be "Blind" - the Scar disadvantage - anyone trying to hit them, or to mitigate a critical they inflict, can't see; so is basically stuck in much the same situation as someone who's had the Blind disadvantage triggered (the difference being that you're affecting everyone interacting with the invocation target, instead of just one target if you spend two air ** to establish a new disadvantage with the old 'sand-in-the-eyes' trick). 

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Option 3.

Treat the attacked character as Incapacitated (not actively defending) and inflict a critical strike. 

If an invisible character successfully attacks another character, the attacker is using an appropriate weapon (a blade, for example), and the defender is not actively trying to defend against the invisible attacker, the attacker deals a critical strike equal to the deadliness of the weapon used.  If the attacked character is still in the fight after this, they are alerted to the invisible attacker and defend against additional attacks.  Subtract 1 from the TN of subsequent attacks targeting this character (to a minimum of 1), however, since they still can't defend against an invisible foe very well.

Also, consider making your invisible character use their Air ring to sneak up on an unaware character and attack them without making noise.

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On a slightly more mundane level, this might also apply to attacks whilst the target is asleep, unaware or otherwise unable to defend against the attack (tied up perhaps),

Ruling "no defense" is a pretty easy starting point in all of these cases - you can't dodge what you are unaware of, and that'll mean automatic critical strikes in most cases.

In some cases just assuming a kill will be fine, but I'd be hesitant to apply that to anyone alert and in combat, even if unaware of the foe sticking the knife in. I'd probably assume a kill for Minions regardless.

*Edit* you may also want to consider lowering the attack difficulty to either TN1, or in some cases no roll needed.

Edited by gareth_lazelle

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On 4/8/2019 at 6:08 PM, DanGers said:

Treat the attacked character as Incapacitated (not actively defending) and inflict a critical strike

 

23 hours ago, gareth_lazelle said:

In some cases just assuming a kill will be fine, but I'd be hesitant to apply that to anyone alert and in combat, even if unaware of the foe sticking the knife in. I'd probably assume a kill for Minions regardless.

 I think this depends on circumstances. If it's a minion in a narrative scene who doesn't even know they're under attack, then one quick Fitness [Air] later to sneak up and it's one dead guard.

If it's a major adversary who knows you're there but can't see you right know because you've turned invisible, that's not the same; I'd happily offer a  Blind disadvantage but would hesitate to claim 'not actively defending' - they are trying, just not very well.

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+1 to what Magnus Grendel just said about mechanics.

I would also loop back to Avatar's point about honor (or lack thereof) of Invisibility. And how that intersects with the situations you find yourself in. I agree strongly that sneaking up and killing a Goblin while wintering in the Shadowlands should not require a loss of honor. Also if you are are in some kind of major "magical firestorm" as you and your friends storm the ritual chamber of powerful Maho-Flinging cultists, then I don't think you would loose honor for going invisible to better whack the leader. 

But maybe (definitely!) in other situations a samurai would need to stake and/or loose honor to attack from invisibility. Killing another samurai from ambush is usually not honorable. If you have a beef with someone and its reached the point where you needs swords, then you are supposed to challenge them. You do not assassinate them when they aren't looking. So I don't think you can go invisible to gack a rival while they're sitting in a tea house. Also you can't go invisible during most formal duels (in a magical duel between two shugenja this could be a legal/honorable maneuver). 

My two cents.

Edited by Void Crane

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I'm really not the reference for l5r lore and laws, but to me, if it is on a "battlefield" a lot more things are ok.

Lets take Akodo Arasou example, being on a field like that, with Doji Hotaru that can one shot snipe you from an eternity away, I would Totally ask my shugenja to turn me or my squad invisible to approach without getting decimated.

If the daimyo asks for the shugenja to turn him invisible but then ask his troops to stay visible as "decoy" is probably a bit of glory loss though!

I guess it depends... There are no strict rules for that. As much as I like mechanical logic and good rule systems, the honor/glory is, by nature, vague and relative to you or your table interpretation and knowledge of the setting.

 

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Using stealth tactics is considered dishonorable, regardless of your enemy.  Honorable combat is facing your enemy where you both can see each other.  Even if your enemy has a bow... and good aim... and some plot aiming going on there.  Involving the Kami would make it worse.  Just because your enemy will stoop to that level (Ex Goblin Sneak, Scorpion), doesn't make it okay for you to do it.

Not saying stealth tactics aren't used.  There are some major "At all costs" groups within even the most honorable clans (Ex: Ikoma, Daidoji).  

Remember!  Being Reasonable is not a tenant of Bushido.

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26 minutes ago, Mirith said:

Using stealth tactics is considered dishonorable, regardless of your enemy.  Honorable combat is facing your enemy where you both can see each other.  Even if your enemy has a bow... and good aim... and some plot aiming going on there.  Involving the Kami would make it worse.  Just because your enemy will stoop to that level (Ex Goblin Sneak, Scorpion), doesn't make it okay for you to do it.

Not saying stealth tactics aren't used.  There are some major "At all costs" groups within even the most honorable clans (Ex: Ikoma, Daidoji).  

Remember!  Being Reasonable is not a tenant of Bushido.

how is it more honorable using a bow against a dude who probably didn``'t even saw the archer in the first place ? hidden in a tower somewhere?

oh, well. you do you. in my rokugan, war is war. but i understand you need to put limit otherwise you might have chemical war happening!

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17 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

how is it more honorable using a bow against a dude who probably didn``'t even saw the archer in the first place ? hidden in a tower somewhere?

oh, well. you do you. in my rokugan, war is war. but i understand you need to put limit otherwise you might have chemical war happening!

Hidden archer versus one on the field is different.  If they have a tower, you can probably expect an archer in it.  However, hiding an attacking from hiding is expressly frowned upon.  However, I'm pretty sure putting your troops where the enemy can't see, then everyone popping up and saying Boo and giving them a chance to surrender before murdering them is perfectly fine.  It could also be the difference of hiding a squad of troops in a copse of trees being honorable versus building a hidey-hole and having them pop out from behind the enemy.

I'm not saying it is the best way to win.  And probably being able to skirt the line of dishonorable moves without crossing it makes for a good commander.  But honor is specifically about behaving "properly" despite the situation.  War is one of those situations where it can be quite interesting to give the players a chance to resolve things by not behaving honorably.  And it isn't always a big honor loss. 

Also, depends on the clan.  Crab believe War is War, and will basically use any tactic to fight the Shadowlands.  Same with the Scorpion (Though they will try not to get caught doing some of the worse things).  However, the typical Lion or Crane commander would probably not consider sneaking up on their enemy and slaughtering them from hiding.  Maybe just sneaking up on them, surrounding them, shouting Boo then slaughtering them.

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Yeah. the battlefield gets murky. Akodo basically said whatever works in war, works. Going invisible to whack a sentry or get up to an archer without being killed both sound reasonable to me. Going invisible and sending another dressed as you as a decoy is probably not honorable (IMO) even on the battlefield.

All that said, if you WIN a big battle you gain glory. And if you significantly advance the cause of your Clan then you gain honor too. But those gains can be mitigated (or reversed) by the tactics that happen. A rule of thumb might be that if people bad mouth your samurai after the fact for the things you did, then it's worth loosing honor over. "Oh Invisible-san helped capture Toshi Ranbo alright, but did you hear he murdered Defender-san by stabbing him in the back of the neck? I swear it is true..."

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4 hours ago, Void Crane said:

. A rule of thumb might be that if people bad mouth your samurai after the fact for the things you did, then it's worth loosing honor over. "Oh Invisible-san helped capture Toshi Ranbo alright, but did you hear he murdered Defender-san by stabbing him in the back of the neck? I swear it is true..."

You probably meant glory here, 

Though some clans might consider getting caught dishonourable (possible breach of duty for scorpion perhaps)... But that's likely offset by them losing less honour for the activity in the first place. 

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Stealth is certainly not an honourable way of fighting, but is it dishonourable is the question.

You can evidence what honourable warfighting looks like under the honour examples: giving an unarmed foe a weapon to fight them as equals is an honourable action for instance. Stealth is deliberately trying to create an unequal and asymmetric combat however.

It all depends whether, if trying to create a balanced and fair fight is honourable, trying to create an imabalnced an unfair fight is dishonourable or just the neutral way of things. I would expect there are degrees of asymmetry that are acceptable within the parameters of honour/glory, but it's where that line is drawn I am interested in and for which I have no real answer.

Edited by Bazakahuna

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Well i do mean glory too.

44 minutes ago, gareth_lazelle said:

You probably meant glory here, 

Though some clans might consider getting caught dishonourable (possible breach of duty for scorpion perhaps)... But that's likely offset by them losing less honour for the activity in the first place. 

Well. Yes. I do mean Glory too. But if there is an event where you potentially win AND still loose some Glory, then I think that's probably a red flag that you could also in territory where you loose Honor too...

For the sake of example lets say your PC has an Honor of 45 and a Glory of 40. You play an adventure (or series of adventures) set on the battlefield as your side tries to capture a city. The outcome is a big deal to your Clan and a notable event to the Empire as a whole. Let's further say that your samurai is not in charge but is a significant lieutenant. 

I would say that you and the other lieutenants are probably risking your Glory Rank on the outcome of the Battle. +/-4. And that if you do something particularly notable to advance the cause of victory there could be another +4 Glory involved. Or a -4 if you really foul something up.

Your PC has the ability to make themselves invisible. In scenario 1 you use it to sneak up to the base of a tower with several ashiguru archers that are covering the main gate into the city. You then become visible and storm the tower defeating the ashiguru archers and make it safer for your infantry to advance and batter down the gate. In scenario 2 you instead go invisible and assassinate the enemy commander at night while everyone is sleeping.

How do you score this?

Well in both cases let's say the city falls and you earn 4 Glory. And you did something that conspicuously advanced the cause so that's potentially another 4 Glory.

In scenario 1 i think you are exemplifying the ideals of Bushido. You are showing bravery and initiative and doing your duty by righteously fighting on a battlefield. You may even be showing Compassion towards your own ashiguru infantry by taking on risks to reduce theirs. The enemy ashiguru archers may be in deep doo-doo when you show up in melee range. But they have the chance to defend themselves. Your victory is celebrated. You gain a pile of Glory and maybe even a small bonus to honor.

In scenario 2 you still collect 4 honor for the win. Since you conspicuously advanced the cause, if you take credit for the assassination that is possibly worth another +4 Glory. But wait! If you go public with your deed then some Samurai bad mouth your choices and actions after the fact. You stabbed someone through the neck while they were sleeping! Some other Samurai are just happy you helped get the win and the fighting is over. Net result you loose some Glory. Probably -3 (my opinion, other GMs could go higher or lower). Thinking about why some Samurai have problems with this, it seems reasonable (to me in GM mode) that they believe that you failed to act Righteously or even with Courage & Courtesy. Even if you did your Duty. So you end up +4/5 in Glory and loose your rank in Honor (-4) when the dust settles. You have your victory, but people talk about it for the wrong reasons...

 

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21 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

Lets take Akodo Arasou example, being on a field like that, with Doji Hotaru that can one shot snipe you from an eternity away, I would Totally ask my shugenja to turn me or my squad invisible to approach without getting decimated.

In fairness, though, whilst it was 'sniping', she was stood, in the middle of the gates of Toshi Ranbo, and Akodo Arasou was charging directly at him. 

She wasn't hiding, or using trickery, and he wasn't unaware she was there. 

2 hours ago, gareth_lazelle said:

You probably meant glory here, 

Indeed. Glory is people's reputation. Honour is your internal assessment of yourself.

 

1 hour ago, Void Crane said:

 The enemy ashiguru archers may be in deep doo-doo when you show up in melee range. But they have the chance to defend themselves.

This. There's a key difference between using invisibility to cover a killing ground and remaining invisible after you start swinging your sword.

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Another note is the use of a spell.  In general, it is frowned upon for Shugenja to participate in battles.  They are too valuable a resource to risk being killed.  At the very least they are kept from the front lines.  Making someone invisible is not something that "is done" in normal samurai society, regardless of the reason.  There is no "honorable" reason to use a spell to make you invisible.  There is no action you can be doing that requires you to be invisible.  

As noted above, the kami frown upon using their blessings for such reasons.  While, they might do it for you, there could be consequences.

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15 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

...
hehe...

...
O_O

Keep in mind this is a culture where literally you can walk behind a paper screen with someone, in the same room with everyone else, have a conversation with them, and everyone else in the room is obligated to pretend that they didn't hear what was said, even if you start mocking everyone in the room.  Social traditions hold immense power here, and are, to some extent, enforced by a nebulous supernatural force, represented by your "honor".

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9 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Indeed. Glory is people's reputation. Honour is your internal assessment of yourself.

Slight correction, Honour has nothing to do with your personal opinion. It's the Celestial Harmony's evaluation of how your behaviour matches with Bushido.

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9 hours ago, Mirith said:

Keep in mind this is a culture where literally you can walk behind a paper screen with someone, in the same room with everyone else, have a conversation with them, and everyone else in the room is obligated to pretend that they didn't hear what was said, even if you start mocking everyone in the room.

This is true. At the same time if you go behind the screen and insult everyone in the room then everyone in the room still hears you and is presumably angry with you. They have to pretend they didn’t hear you. And they can’t directly do anything. But they can carry a grudge. And they can go fishing discretely for ways to get back at you.

As with everything else in samurai society things get complicated quickly as daylight seeps in between what everyone does and what they think & feel.

Invisibility is just one more example. Some shufenja like the Kuni go into combat all the time. Others like the Asahinacatecsupposed to be pacifists. That could also be a factor in what’s acceptable.

in the end a GM should try to reasonable and consistent.

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