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Defending against exalted assassins

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  • #16
    Well security is always a good method. I mean look a lot of rulers are going to want as few ways into a place like they're room as possible because of how likely they'll be doing something in there that makes them defenseless. Consequently this also leaves fewer methods of escape for the assassin. I mean let's say the local lord refused to have windows in their room because a relative, or their predecessor, was taken out by a crossbow bolt during a meal shot through a window. That removes the "easy" in and out of scaling to the window killing the target and bolting out the window.

    Although a consideration, how is your player considering they'll do the assassinations? I mean different precautions are needed for a poisoner, than a sniper, and definitely for the kind that would kill and replace a guard to get in close.

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    • #17
      To build on some of the ideas already suggested.

      Consequences:
      Most who deserve a solar assassins attention in a heroic flavoured game are probably bastards, to at least some extent, and are going to be aware that there'll be those who want to off them.

      They might not expect exalted assassins but even a pleb could get lucky, so they make it known, pass laws, which spell out very clearly to their beleaguered subjects that any act of violence against the ruling class will be met with disproportionate punishment. Whole towns/villages put to the sword/sold into slavery/killed painfully & slowly for the even a whiff of complicity, foreigners within the city purged violently (unless they have powerful connections in their own right.)

      In societies where political intrigue is rife & ruthless, or the ruler otherwise doesn't trust the nobility, or foreign vassals, important hostages (heirs?) might be kept from all subject houses with it being clearly understood that assassination will be met with bloody retribution, and that if the culprits can't be identified all will suffer.
      This potentially keeps noble houses infighting and countering/exposing plots, or implicating rivals, but it also means that a shit storm's going to erupt if anyone does manage to off the tyrant. Such an assassin would potentially have the whole ruling class of the region after them, and it's likely that wars would break out between suspicious rival factions if no culprit could be identified.

      As others have said this leaves an heroic assassin with some serious moral questions, or at least leaves the potential for running an arc which involves mitigating/neutralising these potential consequences before (or while) the assassination is carried out. Maybe something for the rest of the circle to be doing?

      Magic:
      Even with sorcerers being rare, it's not inconceivable for a rich ruler, or an ancestor, to have secured the services of a sorcerer either to enhance themselves, their bloodline, or their private suite. If you want to use a higher level working their are ways to justify it in story (a left over first age working, which a town has since been built around because of the benefits it gave the original mortal settlers, etc)
      Even within the sphere of terrestrial you can make magical mazes, or walls which have no doors or windows but which only allow those of a bloodline, or invited by members of the bloodline, to pass, or countless other effects that make the assassination more of a story than just rolling stealth, or which require some prior research &/or preparation. Then there are personal enhancements, or magic amulets, etc.
      Alternatively, it's not inconceivable that a ruler might have strong ties with a powerful local god (maybe by making the populace give it exorbitant tribute, of course) in order for protection. This could take the form of being allowed to sleep within an area of the God's sanctum, or sense domain/measure the wind type powers being used to keep the ruler safe.

      So many options, it's just a matter of keeping things fresh & interesting. I try to work from the point of view of coming up with an interesting challenge/story for the character(s) and then coming up with satisfying/non-immersion breaking fluff to justify how things came to be as the PCs find them.
      Having said that, IMO it's also vital to allow characters enough opportunities to shine at the things they've invested heavily in that they're not "Worf effect"ed to the extent of looking like chumps, and the players can feel good about using their cool toys. The easy marks make the unexpectedly tough ones stand out as exceptional challenges worthy of a legendary assassin, and can always lead to consequences based story arcs in their own right.

      /pontification
      Last edited by NSFW; 03-20-2017, 07:01 PM.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Mordekain View Post
        I'm planning a campaign in which one of my players is a night caste assassin focusing on stealth and ebon shadow style. That made me wonder how rulers and other key players would defend themselves against assassination attempts.
        So I'm looking for alternative options.
        Rarity of Solars aside (as rightly mentioned by other posters), I don't think Lunars haven't been mentioned yet. They are a more plentiful exalt type with individuals who might happily assassinate/rob/replace rulers (assuming there was a good reason for them to act). And if 'Lunar attacks' have been frequent enough (or suitably unsettling) in an area, its reasonable to expect that people try to protect themselves... be they merchants, nobles, or rulers. You could use such justification to 'amp up' security... as long as you don't unreasonably hinder the stealthy PC's fun

        I'm no security expert or a charm cruncher, but perhaps anti-Lunar measures could entail keeping animals away from various sensitive areas. Rooftops and windows might be barred when they are not being used. Guards might be more inclined to stop & question passersby who display interest in the property or people within. Passwords among palace staff might be used to ferret out imposters. Concerned rulers might even have themselves a spymaster type retainer... to watch for signs of people trying to hire or facilitate assassinations. Rulers could make use of decoys. Perhaps they even employ personal bodyguards who are trained to shield & evacuate their liege (ie Defend Other henchmen).

        Then you have other persons who might have access to sorcery (or those who wield it) and elemental/demon/spirit servants or allies... as mentioned by other posters.

        Hope that helps.


        Long time lurker

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        • #19
          Thanks for all the good ideas. I'm conscious about not trying to deny the stealth character her place in the sun so to speak, and I'm also aware of the limited amount of solars. This was more about getting ideas for what kind of precautions an informed ruler would actually take. In my specific campaign the players will probably butt heads with the Bull at some point, and given that his encounters with sidereal assassins I imagine he and his circle would try to apply countermeasures. Several of the rulers of that region has experienced exalted warfare and would probably try to balance the threat posed by the Bull anyways.

          I like the idea that exalted in general and solars in particular is the Creation equivalent of nukes. Rare, expensive and devastating weapons. However the comparison does have a few issues. Most significantly exalted are precision weapons capable of hitting a single target without the need to commit mass murder, radiate an entire region and risk global warming. Add on top of this that exalted can be stealth deployed with the target nation not knowing who or what was hitting them. That makes retaliation much harder and the threat of mutual destruction harder to achieve. So while countries in real life can balance against nukes by building their own arsenal or allying a country with nukes, balancing against exalted are much more difficult.

          I know that this issue is not simply confined to assassin and that a solar dawn general could probably wipe most nations of the map. The stealth assassin compound the issue though, because his acts can be done covertly. That being said a lot of great ideas have already surfaced in this thread.

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          • #20
            Ghosts, Gods and Demons watching over you are very helpful, beings that are immaterial with enhanced senses can really help with spotting assassins. As well as alarm system types of Traps, and Artifacts.


            It is a time for great deeds!

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            • #21
              Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
              Dogs. Many animals get significant bonuses to awareness when dealing with scent and most Solar stealth charms don't really do anything to help you there.
              Solar Stealth can hide their scent in Ex3 now actually (Sound and Scent Banishing Attitude on page 407)


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              • #22
                Originally posted by Jen View Post
                Solar Stealth can hide their scent in Ex3 now actually (Sound and Scent Banishing Attitude on page 407)
                Grapefruit-and-Durian Anointment Prana

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                • #23
                  This reminds me of similar problems people have expressed about Vampire. The Revised ST's Guide made a good point about immortal bloodsuckers liking to live.

                  Your average Vampire, \ wants to live forever. They aren't going to go around challenging other powerful Vampires to cage matches. However, one particularly aggressive Vampire who starts gobbling up territory/expanding his power base too fast will quickly find other power players unite against him. This applies to (smart) Exalts as well.

                  Sure, the Solar assassin can take out mortal rulers relatively easily. That's working as intended. However, the assassin takes a significant risk sneaking into a court of Dragon-Blooded to kill their leader. If he is detected, chances are he's dead. Now, PC Exalts generally take these sorts of risks, and that's okay. It probably only takes one near-death experience to teach the assassin he isn't unstoppable.

                  If he is hyper successful at assassinating powerful enemies, he is also building up a long list of powerful people who want revenge for the loss of their friends/allies/pawns. That drives the story, too.

                  It's also worth noting that characters specced for wet work are not necessarily specced to avoid being the target of such themselves.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Leetsepeak View Post
                    Yeah. Hell, you don't actually have to do any preparation! If your Night Caste decides, apropos of nothing, to murder the Shogun of Port Cailin, set up the reasonable opposition of course, but recognize that there's only so much you can do to prepare for the Night Caste who hops out of your shadow.

                    I'm not suggesting this as the equivalent of some rhetorical slam. You don't need to drop the phone book on a player to make a point. But if you find ways to make it clear that even if said character doesn't think of the potential repercussions through that others are doing so, I think that would make for fun play.
                    The other advantage to this is that, depending on the player, "This is how the world reacts and responds to your actions. Things change because of what you did. You get to see your actions having an effect" can be way more satisfying than "another guy with 50 dice to oppose your stealth rolls".

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                    • #25
                      Kind of piggybacking on Mei and Totentanz-

                      Another defense is explicit, overt, and public contingencies.

                      "If I die, then my warriors will scythe down your village. Only by my mercy are they allowed to live."
                      "I have made a peace agreement with the Mask of Winters. While I live, so to do my people; when I fall, the Deathlord is free to work his will."
                      "I'm the only one keeping the greed of the Realm in check! Without me to counterbalance the satrap, the people will either starve or revolt and be crushed!"


                      A tinkering effort at bringing fate ninjas into Ex3: Sidereals: Where Fate Has Led

                      Album of the Charm Trees thereof.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Mordekain View Post
                        In my specific campaign the players will probably butt heads with the Bull at some point, and given that his encounters with sidereal assassins I imagine he and his circle would try to apply countermeasures. Several of the rulers of that region has experienced exalted warfare and would probably try to balance the threat posed by the Bull anyways.
                        Agreed

                        If you felt so inclined, you could always play out an Assassination scenario and see how your player handles it (so the both of you get a better understanding of how things work in practice).

                        And depending upon whether the Night caste is an Assassin for hire or has some sort of moral code / method of determining their targets, you could seek to explore mini stories around that too. Do they question the information provided on a target... or not? What would they do if an employer outright betrayed them? And what might happen if they were deceived into killing a (reasonably) good/innocent person... ala David Gemmell's Waylander character.


                        Long time lurker

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                        • #27
                          In terms of charms stealth + Ebon shadow style can have a utterly devastating surprise attack but needs to be in stealth to do that, forcing them to stand and fight really hamstrings them.

                          On to the real answers: In creation only the absurdly paranoid or really major powers would have plans for a super-ninja assassin, they are too rare to make doing otherwise a realistic worry. That being said if I were to be paranoid:
                          Body-doubles, possibly magically enhanced.
                          Making myself a load-bearing villain. try to set things up such that killing you makes things worse for whoever does come after you, and let everyone know it.
                          Guards, if there is a mortal (or exalted) sorcerer in the kingdom then have them summon up a couple of demons to stand invisible guard over you.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by wastevens View Post
                            Kind of piggybacking on Mei and Totentanz-

                            Another defense is explicit, overt, and public contingencies.

                            "If I die, then my warriors will scythe down your village. Only by my mercy are they allowed to live."
                            "I have made a peace agreement with the Mask of Winters. While I live, so to do my people; when I fall, the Deathlord is free to work his will."
                            "I'm the only one keeping the greed of the Realm in check! Without me to counterbalance the satrap, the people will either starve or revolt and be crushed!"
                            Definitely. Any ruler (particularly a mortal) worth their salt will have made their survival important to the region.

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                            • #29
                              I mean, they already have a prime example to pattern themselves after: The Scarlet Empress did just that.


                              Raksha are my fae-vorite.

                              Reincarnation of magnificentmomo.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by MoroseMorgan View Post
                                a prime example to pattern themselves after
                                And thus a Mage Legacy was started: Children of the Dragon-Matriarch




                                ... I'll see myself out.


                                Jade-Screened Exalted Finding the Path
                                Need a dice-roller? Check out Dicemat.

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