Iajutsu Duels

Samurai believe the greatest honor and the truest expression of their training is their expertise with the katana. The pinnacle of this armed martial art is the iaijutsu (“fast-draw”) duel: a dramatic face-to-face confrontation in which each samurai focuses his hi, then attempts to strike his opponent while drawing his blade in a single, smooth motion.

The process of conducting an iaijutsu duel is highly formalized. Since iaijutsu duels are often fatal to one or even both duelists, they are never provoked by minor insults or passing
arguments. When a samurai has been deeply wronged and decides to challenge his enemy to an iaijutsu duel, he must first get his lord’s permission to issue the challenge. Since his life and
body belong to his lord, the lord must consent to a duel that could mean the loss of this property. If his lord agrees, the samurai seeks out his enemy and formally requests a duel,
stating the reason for the challenge and precisely naming the terms of victory.

If the second samurai is willing to fight the duel, he must ask his lord’s permission to accept. The challenged samurai may himself refuse to accept the duel, though this is not a particularly honorable course of action. His lord may refuse permission, or may name another samurai to accept the duel in place of the challenged samurai. Assuming permission is granted, the challenged samurai has the right to name the place where the duel will occur (always a
public place, with witnesses from both sides), as well as the time (no more than one year in the
future). If circumstances prevent one samurai from appearing at the appointed time for the duel,
his lord may name a samurai to fight in his place.

Once this formal process has been followed, the actual duel can occur. An iaijutsu duel has three phases: stance, focus, and strike . During the stance, the duelists face each other and study each other’s stance to assess their opponent’s skill. During the focus, the samurai gather their energies and prepare for the strike. During the strike, one samurai draws first and the other loses the duel.

In order to participate meaningfully in an iaijutsu duel, both samurai must have the Quick Draw feat . Spending a move equivalent action to draw a katana in the strike phase of a duel
would almost certainly be fatal. Specialized duelists master the Iaijutsu Focus skill as well .

Stance: In the first round of an iaijutsu duel, the two samurai stand a few steps apart and appraise each other, looking for signs of their opponent’s skill, training, and reflex in the samurais ready posture. Many duels go no further: One samurai concedes victory to the other, recognizing a clearly superior opponent. Such duels are the only bloodless iaijutsu duels.
Conceding in this manner is not dishonorable.

When the duelists assume their stance, they each make a Sense Motive check. The check result determines how much information they discern about the other samurai:

Check Result Information Gleaned
15 or higher Opposing samurai’s character level
20 or higher Opposing samurai’s ranks in Iaijutsu focus
25 or higher Opposing samurai’s total attack and damage
bonus with his primary weapon

Focus: Both duelists make an Iaijutsu Focus check. If you do not have ranks in the Iaijutsu Focus skill, you can attempt to use the skill untrained by making a Charisma check (and you
shouldn’t be in an iaijutsu duel).

Strike: After both duelists attempt Iaijutsu Focus checks, they draw their katanas and strike. The result of the skill check replaces each character’s normal initiative roll unless the character’s normal initiative modifier (Dexterity modifier plus feat bonuses) is better than his Iaijutsu Focus check modifier (ranks in Iaijutsu Focus plus Charisma modifier), in which case he
makes a normal initiative check.

The first round of an iaijutsu duel’s strike phase is essentially a surprise round: Each combatant can take only a partial action (usually a single attack) in addition to drawing the weapon (a free action, assuming each duelist has the Quick Draw feat). With a successful hit, a duelist deals the bonus damage achieved through his Iaijutsu Focus check in addition to normal (or critical) weapon damage. The initiative winner strikes first, naturally. The initiative

loser, if he survives, must attack on his action as well-he cannot hold back the ki he has focused. Note that since the loser is not attacking a flat-footed foe, he does not get the opportunity to strike with his bonus damage dice from Iaijutsu Focus. If the initiative check is a tie, the attacks actually occur simultaneously, with both samurai considered to be flat-footed. On rare occasions, two samurai have been known to strike each other down in the same instant in what is called a karmic strike. After the initial round of the duel, the two samurai can continue fighting in normal combat, if both survive. They no longer receive any bonus damage dice to their attack rolls unless the circumstances under which Iaijutsu Focus checks maybe attempted somehow arise again in the course of the fight (the combat ends
and one or the other returns his weapon to its sheath).

Example: Hida Tamoro faces the iaijutsu master Kakita Kudako in an iaijutsu duel. Both samurai assume their stance and size each other up. Tamoro rolls an 18 on his Sense Motive check-enough to discern only that the Crane is 12th level, the same as he is . Without more information, the proud Crab is not about to yield. Kudako rolls a 33, and notes that she is the same level as he is, that he has 15 ranks in Iaijutsu Focus, and that his total attack and damage is 19/14/9 melee (1d108, katana). Weighing what she has learned, Kudako feels confident that she will get the first strike. The duel begins, and the samurai begin focusing their ki. Kudako gets a check result of 28 and gets 4d6 to her damage. Tamords result was only a 24, gaining him +3d6 to his damage . Kudako’s initiative becomes 28 and she goes first. Kudako strikes, her blade springing from its scabbard like lightning toward the Crab. Kudako’s damage, assuming she hits, is increased by +4d6, with an additional +8 because she is an iaijutsu master and adds her Charisma modifier to each bonus die. She rolls a miserable 6, adds her attack bonus of +20, and hits Tamoro with a 26. Her damage is 1d105 (her normal damage with a katana) plus
4d6+8. She rolls 30, bringing Tamoro down to 71 hit points. Tamoro strikes when it’s his turn with his initiative of 24. Since Kudako is not flat-footed, Tamoro gets no bonus damage dice. He rolls even more pathetically than Kudako: a 5, plus his attack bonus of 19 for a 24. His damage is 1d108. He rolls a 13, bringing Kudako to 69 hit points. If the combatants agreed on a duel to first blood, the duel is over and Kudako has won. If this is a duel to the death, combat continues as normal, with Kudako holding her lead in initiative. After the critical first round, Kudako loses much of her advantage against the stronger Crab.

Hida Tamoro: Male human (Crab) Sam5/Hida defender 7 ; hp 101; AC 22 (touch 12, flat-footed 20); Ark 19/14/9 melee (1d108/19-20, +4 katana).
Skills: Iaijutsu Focus +16, Sense Motive +8 .

Kakita Kudako: Female human (Crane) Sam5/Iaijutsu master 7 ; hp 82; AC 20 (touch 18, flat-footed 16); Atk 20/15/10 melee (1d105/19-20, +4 katana).
Skills : Iaijutsu Focus +19, Sense Motive +14.

You can use your Iaijutsu Focus bonus damage in normal combat too, but only when you are attacking a flat-footed opponent and you.

Iajutsu Duels

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