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The Grand Falloon

Today's complaint: Armor!

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   I have a couple beefs with how armor works.  Let's start with the least important: the purpose of armor is not to prevent fatigue in a fight, it's to protect your precious organs from getting stabbed.  I'm pretty sure the way it works in RAW is an artifact from early beta. In the first version, Fatigue had a different name ("wounds," I think, much like Genesys), and worked much like Genesys wounds and Hit Points in D&D.  That is, they're a combination of superficial wounds and fatigue. Wearing armor protected you from a lot of the little cuts and such, so it made enough sense. Then, they made the (very good, in my opinion) decision to completely separate Wounds and Fatigue.  So now, if you don't take a Critical Strike, you haven't really been hit. But as armor is written, it does very little to protect your organs, but it prevents the fatigue of all those katana strikes that you're blocking. Yeah yeah, "It protects your organs because you have to put less effort into defending yourself, so you're not pushed over your Endurance Threshold." Look, I would happily accept that argument if I thought RAW armor helped streamline the game.  I don't complain about Armor Class in D&D (much), because even if it's not super realistic, it's simple and gets the job done.

 

   BUT!  The way armor works slows the game down.  The first is just resolving an individual strike.  When my players make their attack rolls, figuring out damage goes: Weapon Damage + Successes - TN - Armor.  The Weapon Damage and TN they generally know up front, so it's easier to account for, then I have to pay enough attention to the armor being worn.  And then I have to tell them that their strike for 5 damage is actually only for 1 or 2 damage. That sucks.

 

   It also slows down the fight by dragging out the rounds.  Our Hida got into a scrap with a Lion bushi, and they were both decently armored.  They went back and forth, trading successful strikes, but kept inflicting very little damage because their armor would soak all but one or two of them.  It was mind-numbing, and was only saved by the Hida finally rolling a decent crit and getting the Lion to concede.

 

   So, I've been considering changing Armor so that its Resistance adds bonus successes to resist Critical Strikes.  The effect on Minions will be pretty negligible (but who cares?), while fights between important folks will go much more quickly (perhaps too quickly?  I may need to adjust some weapon damage down by a point or two). But that armor is still going to go a long way to saving your life.

 

   Of course, my big problem is the ripple effect this will have on other parts of the game.  Way of the Crab (already pretty strong) is almost the exact same effect, while Striking as Earth and Striking as Water (and also some related Opportunity options) don't make a whole lot of sense.

 

   There are probably a lot of other strands I'd be disturbing by playing with this spider web, so yes, I know it's a potential mess.  But I really feel if the designers had considered their "Hit Point" system to be "fatigue, not wounds" from day one, this is how armor would work.  And I'm not exaggerating when I say that this one drawn-out fight killed a lot of interest for this game among the players at my table.

 

   Does anyone have ideas of how Way of the Crab, and those elemental kata and Opportunities could work with such a change? Are there any other glaring oversights I'm missing?

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I have many, MANY, issues with straight up garbage design in this game.

But armor isn't one of them.

Sure, a heavily armored, earth stance hugging samurai is extremely hard to take down with weapons (especially since you cannot really break their armor with crits also). But that is basically the only cheesy instance (which got its counters, but you need to "purchase" them).

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My justification for armor reducing fatigue is: you don't need to put as much effort into blocking because strikes that would hurt worse would be deflected by the armor. Instead of blocking or dodging, just let it bounce off the sode.

Why doesn't it reduce crits? Because a crit represents a hit to the body, getting around defenses and getting around the armor. It evades your block, it slides between the plates, and hits the soft bits.

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As I said up top, the logical justification is the least of my concerns.  In my experience, it slowed the game to a painful crawl, because these two warriors were chipping away 1 or 2 fatigue per round.  Eyes around the table were glazed.  My primary concern is what to do with Way of the Crab, Striking as Water, and Striking as Earth.

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6 hours ago, The Grand Falloon said:

As I said up top, the logical justification is the least of my concerns.  In my experience, it slowed the game to a painful crawl, because these two warriors were chipping away 1 or 2 fatigue per round.  Eyes around the table were glazed.  My primary concern is what to do with Way of the Crab, Striking as Water, and Striking as Earth.

These two warriors were both sitting in Earth stance? And chipping at each others? No crits? No Fire or even Water ring for more damage?

Edited by Avatar111

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Armor DOES reduce crits.  The crit is of severity of the damage inflicted.  You reduce it by the armor before applying the crit table, at least, for crits caused by weapon wounds that go over fatigue.  

That's why spells and skills that give a flat number for the severity are so powerful, they ignore armor. 

 

 

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Don't forget that spending two opportunity on a Strike action inflicts a critical strike.  This has ended a few skirmishes at my table rather quickly.  Rather than see fights drag on, we've had well armored foes losing limbs and even dying on the first and second rounds of combat due to very lucky rolls by the players and good tactical use of things like stance, assistance, and terrain.  That doesn't address your second concern, though since these characters were still terribly wounded despite being well armored.

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1 hour ago, Scrivener Spills said:

Armor DOES reduce crits.  The crit is of severity of the damage inflicted.  You reduce it by the armor before applying the crit table, at least, for crits caused by weapon wounds that go over fatigue.  

That's why spells and skills that give a flat number for the severity are so powerful, they ignore armor. 

  Uh, not sure where you're getting that. Crits are equal to the Deadliness of the weapon, Damage and Armor Resistance have nothing to do with it.  Katana are very deadly at 7 Deadliness if you're using it 2-handed (which you should be, unless you're one of those Mirumoto with their ridiculous two-sword style).  However, they only deal 4 damage, so unless you're able to inflict that crit, they're not great against armor.

  Meanwhile, weapons like otsuchi and tetsubo inflict a lot of damage (8 and 7, respectively), but only have 3 Deadliness, so on a crit, chances are it's only going to wreck the target's armor.

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2 hours ago, DanGers said:

Don't forget that spending two opportunity on a Strike action inflicts a critical strike.  This has ended a few skirmishes at my table rather quickly.  Rather than see fights drag on, we've had well armored foes losing limbs and even dying on the first and second rounds of combat due to very lucky rolls by the players and good tactical use of things like stance, assistance, and terrain.  That doesn't address your second concern, though since these characters were still terribly wounded despite being well armored.

The only "issue" is someone in heavy armor (or with a shield) and staying in Earth stance.

This is a slug. If the heavy armored character is not hugging earth stance, then the heavy armor is not much of an issue (while still helping a lot).

Earth stance as a whole is simply not the most fun design as is breaks some parts of the system like duels too.

But it is counterable, just not really without techniques.

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On ‎9‎/‎23‎/‎2019 at 9:46 AM, Avatar111 said:

These two warriors were both sitting in Earth stance? And chipping at each others? No crits? No Fire or even Water ring for more damage?

Indeed. Even with swords against 'proper' battlefield armour, I've never seen players have that much trouble taking an enemy down... and if you are facing armoured foes, you should really be in a situation where you're breaking out 'battlefield' weaponry like spears, greatbows, and other things with significantly higher base damage.

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15 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Indeed. Even with swords against 'proper' battlefield armour, I've never seen players have that much trouble taking an enemy down... and if you are facing armoured foes, you should really be in a situation where you're breaking out 'battlefield' weaponry like spears, greatbows, and other things with significantly higher base damage.

Also, that's what the Tsuruhashi from Shadowlands was designed for, also called the can-opener.

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Indeed. But the point is that a katana is only really an effective weapon against a well-armoured foe if you're good enough to land critical strikes without having to incapacitate them first.

In most situations where you find the one opposing the other, either they shouldn't be in armour or you should be using something a bit scarier.

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Armor works just fine as-is, the reason being that, in actual play, you'll almost always either A: damage the armor with a critical strike instead of suffering horribly or B: run a weapon that will only really do damage if it circumvents the armor anyway. All that happens narratively on a crit is that you find a weak spot, or fail to find a weak spot and just crack the shell. Makes intuitive sense when you think about it that way. A normal hit that gets reduced to 0? Deflected, just like armor should do.

The exception to this is, of course, finishing blows on duels, but those are supposed to be hilariously lethal.

Edited by Orolando

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12 hours ago, Orolando said:

Armor works just fine as-is, the reason being that, in actual play, you'll almost always either A: damage the armor with a critical strike instead of suffering horribly or B: run a weapon that will only really do damage if it circumvents the armor anyway. All that happens narratively on a crit is that you find a weak spot, or fail to find a weak spot and just crack the shell. Makes intuitive sense when you think about it that way. A normal hit that gets reduced to 0? Deflected, just like armor should do.

The exception to this is, of course, finishing blows on duels, but those are supposed to be hilariously lethal.

They are a "bit" too lethal. Otherwise agree on everything else.

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On 9/23/2019 at 3:15 PM, DanGers said:

Don't forget that spending two opportunity on a Strike action inflicts a critical strike.  This has ended a few skirmishes at my table rather quickly.  Rather than see fights drag on, we've had well armored foes losing limbs and even dying on the first and second rounds of combat due to very lucky rolls by the players and good tactical use of things like stance, assistance, and terrain.  That doesn't address your second concern, though since these characters were still terribly wounded despite being well armored.

 What game are you playing? Without the use of heart piercing strike, I’ve never seen a critical strike and anybody in a combat. All it might do is cripple one of the rings, forcing them to switch to another ring that’s maybe one point lower. 

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 I am rather shocked that there are so many people on this forum who are apologist for the armor system. I completely agree with the 0P, the armor system is jacked and ruins the game. 

 I do not think that striking as earth would need any modification. It would become a unique ability, giving you resistance that is not given in many other places. Therefore, leave it rules as written. 

 Let’s be realistic, striking as water is basically the same as trading opportunity for damage.  True a lightly armored target would be less vulnerable to the technique, but clothing can give you as much as two points of armor!  In short, I would simply change striking as water to increase damage by opportunity, and call it a day. Those that is quite awesome, and water does not need anymore help at being awesome. 

 I also do not think you need to worry about way of the crab.   So what if your raging HIDA does not take wounds?  He will still drop fatigue quickly, and be removed from the fight. Truly, I would question if he would even want to wear that cumber some armor… Except he gets to ignore the cumbersome tag I believe.  Of coarse your heater will lose his big, heavy, expensive armor in just two strikes. Because… 

 One thing you overlooked about armor that is cartoonish, is how easy it is to destroy.  I have a mantis in my game, whose armor reduces all strikes by two.  He has had at least four suits of armor destroyed!  If we are worried about real life – which we should do only sparingly – how many nights survive the destruction of their armor? 

 Now all that said, if armor reduces critical strikes, I believe that it will make it a waste of time to spend opportunity on critical strikes. More of a waste of time than it already is that is.  This would be a sad loss to the game. 

 Also, for as flawed as the rules as written are, they do simulate the fact that heavy crushing weapons are the best way to defeat heavy armor. I like that one aspect of the rules  

 As a bit of a tangent, I think that DND style armor class is actually far better at representing how real armor works than reducing damage. With a single number and a single comparison, it neatly illustrates how you have to strike skillfully in order to wound someone.

FWIW, Friday will be the last day I’m using this game... switching to another system to get my Rokugan fix unfortunately. 

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38 minutes ago, AndyDay303 said:

 What game are you playing? Without the use of heart piercing strike, I’ve never seen a critical strike and anybody in a combat. All it might do is cripple one of the rings, forcing them to switch to another ring that’s maybe one point lower. 

Bleeding.  Jack up your enemy's best ring, and get him bleeding.  If you get him Severely Wounded in that ring, he ain't succeeding at jack squat without taking a bunch of fatigue.  He can, of course, switch rings, but his entire combat style has to change.  Generally, characters I create aren't very strong in opposed elements.  If his primary ring is Earth, his secondary will probably be Water or Fire, not Air.  This works well thematically and mechanically, because oppositional elements have a similar role.  Air and Earth are both defensive, but in different ways, while Fire and Water are both pretty offensive.  So if you Severely Wound my Fire bushi, he's probably going to switch to Air or Earth.  He can still fight, but his attack options are a little more limited.

I'd actually pretty much dropped my initial argument after pondering for a few days, but the thread had gone dormant and I didn't really want to do necromancy on it.  I still have qualms, but I think I'll just tinker with what's already in place.  And also tell my players to bring some bigger weapons if they're looking for trouble.

52 minutes ago, AndyDay303 said:

One thing you overlooked about armor that is cartoonish, is how easy it is to destroy.  I have a mantis in my game, whose armor reduces all strikes by two.  He has had at least four suits of armor destroyed!

It's fun to imagine it like that old SNES game, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, where whenever you got hit, your armor would shatter and you'd be running around in boxers with little hearts on them (I might be remembering that with greater detail than that game was able to render).  However, I try not to think of the armor as completely destroyed.  It's just damaged enough that it's causing you discomfort or throwing you off balance.  Maybe a chestplate is dented in and is hitting your ribs, or a shoulder strap ripped and the whole thing is trying to come loose.  In any case, I would allow a character to make a Smithing check with Earth (or maybe Water with a higher TN) in the field to take it from "Destroyed" to "Damaged (Makeshift)." This would involve knocking dents out, replacing straps and so on.  It's gonna look pretty lousy until he gets back to a proper workshop, but it will do the trick.

 

1 hour ago, AndyDay303 said:

FWIW, Friday will be the last day I’m using this game... switching to another system to get my Rokugan fix unfortunately. 

Savage Worlds for the win!  Right? Anyone?

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On 9/23/2019 at 6:40 PM, Avatar111 said:

The only "issue" is someone in heavy armor (or with a shield) and staying in Earth stance.

This is a slug. If the heavy armored character is not hugging earth stance, then the heavy armor is not much of an issue (while still helping a lot).

Earth stance as a whole is simply not the most fun design as is breaks some parts of the system like duels too.

But it is counterable, just not really without techniques.

Of all things I'd consider house ruling, earth stance begs to be altered either in requiring attackers to spend additional opportunity to inflict criticals or requiring those in earth stance to spend opportunity if they want to move a single range band (I know this last part doesn't fix dueling).

I admit harping on what worked well in prior editions. "Full defense" mode was the earth stance equivalent where being harder to hit (therefore being harder to crit) was balanced by the inability to freely move during combat. "Turtleing-up" adequate describes focusing exclusively on not exposing the squishy bits to the sharp and pointies. If you wanted to engage moving targets, being in earth stance was not the way to do it. It's more tactical sure, but this edition seems to focus just as much on drawing weapons and being in stances.

Back on topic, weapons and armor in this edition are extremely well balanced, where you'll find samurai wielding more than just katana or tetsubo. Intuitively, armor should impede movement, making it easier to be struck rather than reducing the fatigue of avoiding damage... but it's well balanced for the system itself.

Edited by T_Kageyasu

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10 hours ago, T_Kageyasu said:

Intuitively, armor should impede movement, making it easier to be struck rather than reducing the fatigue of avoiding damage... but it's well balanced for the system itself.

Lacquered and Plated Armour do have Cumbersome - so you do suck a TN penalty to moving, but....yeah. With the hit roll and damage roll essentially condensed into a single roll, I'm not sure armour making you easier to hit is a great idea - especially since the base TN to hit you is only 2, and moving the TN by 1 is a huge deal in this system, compared to something like a D20 system.

 

10 hours ago, T_Kageyasu said:

Of all things I'd consider house ruling, earth stance begs to be altered either in requiring attackers to spend additional opportunity to inflict criticals or requiring those in earth stance to spend opportunity if they want to move a single range band (I know this last part doesn't fix dueling).

I would agree. I don't mind how difficult it is to do something as long as there's a non-zero chance of success. Requiring 792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c8792424631_SuccessSmall.png.f580b7641c8c81211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf413431211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf413431211841275_OpportunitySmall.png.acf41343 to land a critical strike on someone in earth stance is nearly, but not actually impossible, which feels like a better balance, especially when you have adversary-level opponents who are clearly designed around 'dirty tricks' to inflict and then exploit conditions.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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