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Combat with Corebook Shikari Antagonists

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  • Combat with Corebook Shikari Antagonists

    So in my next session my Essence 2 circle of Solars will be fighting the Shikari Immaculates from the corebook. Its also possible a Sidereal might get involved if the fight takes long enough. The circle is comprised of a Twilight with some combat sorcery, a Melee/Archery optimized Night, and a Melee Dawn who's not that optimized. Anyone used those antagonist stats and have advice on how to run them to make a challenging fight or just some good tips on what role each one is best for?

  • #2
    Only experience I have is against the Earth Immaculate. If you use his abilities to the fullest, he can be hard to take down, because he'll deny initiative to a lot of withering attacks against him and he's got some hardness to overcome.

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    • #3
      I'm a profoundly lazy person who has used these characters probably way more than good taste would allow. Here is my advice based on my pretty extensive experience with them:

      Air Immaculate:
      - If you can, start the fight with a decisive ambush. You have 12 dice for sneaking, which is enough to sneak up on characters with low-to-mid levels of Awareness, but if their Per+Awareness pools are considerably higher, don't bother. Don't worry too much about throwing out a decisive with low-ish Initiative; you want to wound, not kill.
      - If ambushing is not a feasible tactic, firing up Air Dragon Form should be your next priority.
      - If they have a low-soak character, you should focus on them. You want to get into Short range from them and stay there, because it gives you a nice balance between stopping melee types from attacking you, and being able to attack often. If your target doesn't have a sky-high Defense, you want to attack them with withering attacks enhanced with Breath-Seizing Technique each turn and hope that the penalties shut them down soon enough. If you have a hard time hitting, aim before each attack - three non-Charm autosuccesses can heavily tilt the balance in your favor.
      - Unless you absolutely want to murder the PCs, use your decisives around 10 Initiative, and enhance them with Avenging Wind Strike. Doubles on decisive can make the result very swingy, especially if they're double 9s or, heavens forbid, 8s. If they brought a lot of Ox-Bodies and it seems like they're not about to focus on you too heavily, you can build up to Initiative 15 before starting to decisive.
      - Wrathful Winds Maneuver is generally not worth bothering with, unless there's a low Sta+Resistance character nearby who could suffer serious penalties or be knocked unconscious if they take 1 or 2 more levels of damage. However, in those cases, it's extremely handy to have. If they have 6 or more dice in their Stamina+Resistance pool, they're going to resist anyway, so use your action more productively.
      - Air Dragon's Sight is a pretty expensive penalty negator, but it shuts down surprise attacks completely. Use it mostly for the second, unless you really need every advantage you can scrape together.
      - Wind Dragon's Speed is way too expensive to be practical to use. If you need to get out of melee, knock them away with Avenging Wind Strike instead.

      Earth Immaculate:
      - You're the meanest fucker in the bunch. You're incredibly tough, very hard to build Initiative against, and you hit like a truck. Just swing your tetsubo and don't worry about grappling, the accuracy penalty means you're almost guaranteed to be worse off with them.
      - You may want to stick next to the Air Immaculate instead of getting into melee with the others right out of the gate. Your pitiful combat movement pool means you can't meaningfully oppose a disengage, so sticking close to the guy you want to protect and knocking those who'd harm them prone so your ward can escape is probably a better strategy than running toward your enemies and being surprised when they jog circles around you. However, don't be shy to assist the Fire Immaculate if it looks like he needs your help more - you're not very useful if you sit on the sidelines, being unable to attack while the three of them surround the poor guy and kick the living shit out of him.
      - Note that you have a massive command pool, being able to pump it up to 16 with a stunt. Bringing a battle group of Realm legionnaires with you neatly sidesteps the issue of not being able to do anything while hanging around the Air Immaculate - you can just buff your troops, who should be able to attack multiple characters on their turn.
      - As with the Air Immaculate, you should start combat by firing up your Form Charm. 20 soak makes you practically invulnerable, being able to reflexively Defend Other is always nice, and the +2 dice bonus on attacks is fantastic when everybody has blown through their Essence pools and they're down to the 5/round mote drip. You can outlast almost everybody with the combination of almost never needing to spend on Defense (withering attacks can't do much against your soak and you can take 10 HLs of damage before getting Incapacitated) and free bonus dice on attacks.
      Consequently, whenever you make an attack, it should be a Smashing attack unless you're in real danger of getting crashed - nor the defense penalty, nor the initiative cost concerns you much due to your massive soak.
      - Earthshaker Attack is flat-out not very useful for you unless you really need to decisive someone at range. With 3 PCs who don't bring any supporting characters into combat, you simply can't get enough Initiative off of it to justify the massive cost.
      - Force of the Mountain is fantastic on decisives and decent on withering against high-soak enemies. Even better if you've previously managed to knock them prone.
      - Shattering Strike has a WP cost, but you should still use it against characters who run around in heavy armor. Even landing one hit can net you enough Initiative to put you in the green for future turns to come, given that your massive soak means they'll have an incredibly hard time getting it back from you.
      - Stillness-of-Stone Atemi is probably way better than I give it credit for, but I practically never used it. It should be able to stop someone from running away from you, but the cost is prohibitive and the duration is terrible unless you also manage to crash the target. Also, unless they have thoroughly mediocre pools, even a -5 penalty won't really stop them from running away, since you only have 4 dice base to oppose their attempt while they can call upon a full Solar excellency. Nevertheless, this has nasty combo potential with the Fire Immaculate's Fiery Blade Attack, so keep the option in mind.
      - Stone Dragon's Skin is not particularly useful as a soak enhancer (if they can punch through 20 points of soak, another 4 is unlikely to help unless they've used very specific magic), but the hardness boost can be an incredibly nasty surprise to anybody who thinks having 10 Initiative is gonna be enough to punch through your articulated plate. If they ever try to decisive you with 10 or 11 Initiative, use this to turn the tables on them.
      - Unmoving Mountain Stance can be really useful to deny your opponents from getting even ping damage out of their attacks. You should use this against every incoming withering attack unless they have a really low chance of actually connecting or you're saving up for an ultimate doomcombo next turn.

      Fire Immaculate:
      - Unlike the others, I don't think you benefit much from your Form Charm. Practically everybody and their mother has access to an onslaught negator, so at best, you gain a highly conditional +1 Parry bonus at the cost of 9 motes and an action.
      - Essence-Igniting Strike is a fairly good Charm to open combat with, assuming the PCs have a full personal pool. A +4 decisive damage bonus for 5m is a very good deal, and once they spend from their personal, it's going to be dead weight anyway.
      - Fiery Blade Attack absolutely ruins the day of any heavy armored juggernauts. A recurring 4L/turn damage can eventually roast them no matter how many Ox-Bodies they bought, and between their mobility penalty, your high combat movement pool and the -2 successes, they'll have a really hard time getting out of that bonfire. Use it judiciously (but keep in mind that you actually have to hit with the triggering attack, so wearing down your opponent beforehand might be wise.).
      - Flash-Fire Technique is a nice boost for your alpha strike and can be situationally useful if you really need to come before a certain character, but otherwise the effect doesn't really justify the cost.
      - Perfect Blazing Blow is your best friend. Between this, up to 22 dice on your decisives and the excellency's rerolls, you have a fairly good chance of landing your attacks against practically anyone once you manage to eke out an Initiative advantage. Use it whenever it makes sense.
      - Searing Edge Attack is pretty much only useful if you really want to crash someone or if your target is sitting on a huge pile of Initiative they want to unload on one of your allies and you need to reduce it at any cost. Otherwise, pass.
      - Flame-Flicker Stance is your onslaught negator, except it also costs initiative, so the excellency is a better investment overall unless you really need that attack stopped. Keep in mind that holding onto that initiative directly increases your offensive capabilities via Perfect Blazing Blow.
      - Overwhelming Fire Majesty Stance is prohibitively expensive, but if your target can be knocked down into an increased wound penalty if they take one more level of damage or doesn't have any Willpower left, it can be worth using.

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      Advice for running the corebook shikari antagonists


      • #4

        This is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. Thank you. You haven't happened to have used the Sidereal write up have you?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Therian View Post
          This is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. Thank you. You haven't happened to have used the Sidereal write up have you?

          Sadly not, and it seems to have enough moving parts that I also can't really give useful advice just based on a casual read-through.

          Evocations for the demonic tattoos gained from the Pact with Mara sorcerous initiation || Pyre-Kindler (Soulsteel and Red Jade Grimscythe, Artifact 3) || Tenebrous Descent (Stormcaller's Black Jade Reaver Daiklave cousin, Artifact 5)
          Advice for running the corebook shikari antagonists


          • #6
            I'll try my hand at making some observations about the sample Sidereal, even though I haven't used her:
            • She's fragile. Like holy cow fragile. Soak 2 and no Hardness means she has no business being anywhere near the action. Optimistic Security Practice can help prevent her from getting Crashed by a lucky hit, but it's no replacement for a real defense. Same for Unwavering Well-Being Meditation. Those are panic buttons only and should be treated as such.
            • She doesn't want or need to be near the action, because Stealth and Powerbow. She's an assassin, and she wants obstacles between her and her targets. Preferably stooges that will occupy her targets and let her snipe comfortably. She wants to open with an Aimed Decisive attack from Ambush using Five Seasons Approach and maybe Generalized Ammunition Technique to eliminate her target in a possibly very amusing way, and then cause some more mayhem for a round or two before disappearing.
            • Opportune Shot makes getting into a shooting match with her arguably the worst thing you can do. She'll reflexively Clash you with a high-Accuracy Withering attack and get a free Aim to wreck you on her next turn. It's probably a better idea to not shoot back and just try to close the distance with her, if you can.
            • Inexorable Advance is sucker-bait. She shouldn't be rushing anybody ever.
            • Blinding the Boar is best used before combat to facilitate an ambush. It's a nice defensive benefit too, but really her best bet is to just not be in a position to get attacked period. Honestly, it's a little pricey for the job - you're probably better off just using her Excellency to nail the opening Ambush and not worry about defenses at all.
            • She clearly wants to do her job and then ninja vanish. Avoidance Kata lets her bug out if things go sideways right away, but a prolonged fight only increases her own level of risk to unacceptable levels as it progresses. Even using her Excellency, the probability curve for Avoidance Kata gets dicey after just a round or two and that is her primary exit strategy. So play conservatively and professionally.
            If I were to use her, it would be as the terrifying cherry on top of a messy combat sundae for my players. She'd Stealth to delay entry into the fight until the PCs are engaged with other opponents while she Aims, then make a dramatic Ambush that ruins their plans. She enters combat with a clear, achievable, singular goal and then exits as soon as that goal either succeeds or fails. Regardless, her window is narrow and she doesn't push it. After her second such appearance the players will probably start looking at every fight as potentially much more dangerous than it appears, since there's always the chance that she might show up and try to murder someone.

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            • #7
              I used the Sidereal once - she was basically a 1-shot wonder - hit the archer PC, and ran. Stilled nearly died as the more Melee oriented PCs found ways to close with her.
              She did hurt her target, but not enough to kill him.
              The PCs developed such a vendetta against her, they were willing to sell their integrity to get artifacts to let them fight her.
              But so fragile!

              The Shikari were much tougher, and that fight ended in a fairly savage draw, with both parties retreating.