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  • #46
    Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post
    When you come to view statting up setting pillars to possibly be slain as "freeing" or "fulfiling a promise" you are without a hint of irony doing _exactly_ what has been done before. The idea that this was new is a myth. This was just the first time someone with exposure and a *new* (industry-wise) installed fanbase got to give it a go. That's why it's a turnoff for the people I've talked to and for myself. It took away something potentially interesting and replaced it with pedestrian stuff. It hurt all the more because the original vision was actually something different than what we'd learned in our young steps into the wider world of rpgs.
    This actually sums up something I've had trouble describing before. Everyone already had their own epic level D&D game, toppling gods and killing titans and shaking the world by its roots. Everyone had that phase, we've all done that shit - we did it and got it out of our systems because we realized holy shit this is boring.

    But something Exalted did, and D&D never particularly did and surely doesn't do now, is say maybe you don't need to kill the lizardpeople in the swamp terrorizing your village because they're a symptom, not a cause. Or maybe the prince on the hill isn't really that great of a guy, and he's just crushing his serfs with taxes. Maybe the trader who makes his rounds across the region is looking to get rich and frankly doesn't give a squirt about the welfare of anyone else as long as he gets his money on time, so the highwaymen troubling everyone are on his payroll. Instead, yeah, the lizardfolk are evil, the kingdom is always good, the merchant is just a guy you buy shit from; don't think about any of this stuff deeper than surface level.

    I invite you to read over Curse of Strahd (you the reader, not you PaCo, he's in my Ravenloft game right now and I don't want spoilers), generally considered D&D5e's best adventure, and if you already have, did you notice how there is almost never a non-violent solution presented or discussed? To anything going on? To the people who tout it as a feature of Exalted, some unique thing, that you really can always use violence - you're playing D&D, man. You're glowing gold and you're punching buildings in half but that's still 12th level D&D. And D&D deals with fighting characters, usually, not broad concept things like wars or trade or discrimination.

    So these smaller scale sorts of things with human actors and consequences, or even going up to the scale of a global empire like the Realm inexorably crushing everyone under its heel, is much closer in style and appropriateness to Exalted's attitude of not being D&D than being able to punch God in the kidney. Frankly I don't care for that.
    Last edited by kongurous; 04-12-2017, 01:36 PM.


    A Green Sun Destrier

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Keichiokami View Post

      Its interesting that you bring up this dichotomy. Because in discussions with Nepth himself about my long term plans for the Hakura Chronicle, He was very supportive of the idea that Exalted stories would always begin on the epic and demigod scale. Exalted characters would get a chance to grow, develop and change both themselves and the world around them. Then over time things would scale up to the point the challenge would reach a Cosmic level, and Exalted heroes would save Creation at the Climax of the Chronicle. This was the ideal Exalted game to Neph, and also the ideal Exalted game for me and many of the players that have come across my gaming table.

      These are not mutually exclusive styles of play. It is possible, and in fact I would argue preferable that Exalted facilitate both styles.
      Fair point, there's not necessarily a dichotomy as. At the same time, yeah, I'm kind of uncomfortable with the idea that the perfect Exalted should be a progression between all these layers and levels, and that the journey of an Exalt and a game of Exalted is to go through this progression.

      While I wouldn't walk back on my initial posts, still, when we talk about whether it's good for mechanics to be established that characters should potentially be able to replicate the Primordial War, I guess I'm now also partly considering the degree to which I can separate the idea, from then what Neph wrote, from then 2e fanon.

      Because the final 2e fanon end point was (as well as being such a mutually contradictory mass it's hard to talk about and which I'm therefore probably wrong about) kind of uninspiring. In the sense of feeling like "I go to Essence 10, get all the Brawl Charms and say, "Come at me bro!" to a Primordial. And it works especially well because they're like, dumb and petty, right? 'Sez so in the Yozis' Excellencies" uninspiring. (From a mix of Primordials being written to be powerful, but constrained by an Excellency, and the idea that Solars match Infernals who match Primordials, so it's viable for a Solar to fight a Primordial solo).

      (If I were pushed to define it, I guess I'd see the Primordial War as being a thing of vast masses of Exalted, where huge supernatural rituals of sorcery and fatebinding to make armies and Exalted champions a threat to demons - at the extreme, something akin to the Made Gods of Godbound or the Four Who Are One from Elric - and to ward the Primordial away. Even then, the mightiest Exalted would still run from a Primordial and slay it by the destruction of its fetich. And this is all so brainbending and reality breaking that these tools were discarded after the end of the war. So a bit more going on than a Circle of sole guys learning Charms!).

      So I am reminded of Lioness's post on the first page...

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      • #48
        Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post
        So, this is not a thought about Neph as a person, but, as his place as a writer in the fandom and the context of TTRPGs in general.

        Lots of people around my age, i.e. their early 30's, grew up moving from AD&D to White-Wolf to Exalted. One of the things that people around this age group really loved about Exalted was it's rather sarcastic take on power. You were so overwhelmingly powerful that it warped and permuted what constituted a "challenge" to your player characters. At first it really made you think outside the box and it was great! The thing is- it's not that this kind of game didn't exist before. The difference is that in Exalted it was done from the start point on purpose and wrapped in lore designed to be *notDnD*. This concept also was something that almost everyone tried when they were gaming at first once the newness of gaming itself wore off, in some form or another. While it was fun, it was never really something that held up to repeated usage. We learned that by doing it. So, that being a kind of experience, keep that in mind as I state the following:

        Neph's contributions, and by extenstion, the creep from late 1E into 2E was the loss of tone that made Exalted different to people coming from that PoV. Adding in challenges higher up on the mountain to climb, being able to "really beat" those top end entities.. it's not new. It was high powered Dungeons and Dragons in a setting where we turned our nose up at dungeons and dragons while also being exactly what high-end DnD turned into in many of our formative games. I did not want to buy that. That wasn't interesting to me. You can couch end bosses in cute philosophical and cultural language all you want, but I know that Allah just means God in arabic and it doesn't impress or awe me, and neither does this.

        When you come to view statting up setting pillars to possibly be slain as "freeing" or "fulfiling a promise" you are without a hint of irony doing _exactly_ what has been done before. The idea that this was new is a myth. This was just the first time someone with exposure and a *new* (industry-wise) installed fanbase got to give it a go. That's why it's a turnoff for the people I've talked to and for myself. It took away something potentially interesting and replaced it with pedestrian stuff. It hurt all the more because the original vision was actually something different than what we'd learned in our young steps into the wider world of rpgs.

        tl;dr old people hate 2E and PC is old make fun of him

        Bonus Edit Thought: Having ADnD in my background and seeing the disparity of power tiers in Exalted being explicit was a breath of fresh air, because if there was one thing I was tired of it was people asking me why the Wizard and the Rogue had different XP charts like parity was automatically an assumed good. Exalted did not have time for that shit and it's one of the best subversions it makes to "prevailing rpg wisdom".
        As an old AD&D player I can say that I don't agree with you on a single point. The point of stating the primordials or the Unconquered Sun was never so you could 'lol smash' them. It provided you with the tools to interact with them. Exalted is a game in which social interaction is a mechanically defined action as well. If you want to talk to god you need his stats as much as you need them to 'lol smash' him.

        Another point is that these were not stat blocks of the Epic Level Handbook variety. Despite all of it's flaws Dreams of the First Age had a lesson on Exalted that I don't think many people picked up. These 'challanges' the Primordials and the Incarnae and other super powerful beings, they aren't your end game bosses. Once you get up to high essence you realize these challanges are beneath you, so much in fact as to be a waste of your time. Exalted was so much more than Epic Level content to smash. It was in part the realization that your peers are your fellow Exalted and the others are your lessers. This brings the action and story back to a much more human and personal level because the antagonists of your story are not demons and gods or the creators of the universe, but humans with human needs desires and motivations.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Hark View Post
          As an old AD&D player I can say that I don't agree with you on a single point. The point of stating the primordials or the Unconquered Sun was never so you could 'lol smash' them. It provided you with the tools to interact with them. Exalted is a game in which social interaction is a mechanically defined action as well. If you want to talk to god you need his stats as much as you need them to 'lol smash' him.

          Another point is that these were not stat blocks of the Epic Level Handbook variety. Despite all of it's flaws Dreams of the First Age had a lesson on Exalted that I don't think many people picked up. These 'challanges' the Primordials and the Incarnae and other super powerful beings, they aren't your end game bosses. Once you get up to high essence you realize these challanges are beneath you, so much in fact as to be a waste of your time. Exalted was so much more than Epic Level content to smash. It was in part the realization that your peers are your fellow Exalted and the others are your lessers. This brings the action and story back to a much more human and personal level because the antagonists of your story are not demons and gods or the creators of the universe, but humans with human needs desires and motivations.
          "Wasn't it amazing how after smashing all the bad guys via interacting with their stat blocks (combat or otherwise) we could then tell human stories?"
          "Wouldn't it just be easier if you did that to begin with?"
          "What?"


          Incentive is not permission or justification.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Hark View Post
            As an old AD&D player I can say that I don't agree with you on a single point. The point of stating the primordials or the Unconquered Sun was never so you could 'lol smash' them. It provided you with the tools to interact with them. Exalted is a game in which social interaction is a mechanically defined action as well. If you want to talk to god you need his stats as much as you need them to 'lol smash' him.
            Remember when we had these stat blocks in a game where social combat's logical conclusion was stabbing someone in the face for suggesting you go get burgers instead of tacos


            A Green Sun Destrier

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            • #51
              Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post

              "Wasn't it amazing how after smashing all the bad guys via interacting with their stat blocks (combat or otherwise) we could then tell human stories?"
              "Wouldn't it just be easier if you did that to begin with?"
              "What?"

              Hey now. Sometime instead of arguing with your Lunar Mate ("Honey, did you fix the Geomancy of that eastern province like I asked?"), you just want to go knock a few Behemonths upside the head with the circle.


              Are you ready to rage? Discover if you are Brave Enough to fight for the soul of the world.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by kongurous View Post
                To the people who tout it as a feature of Exalted, some unique thing, that you really can always use violence - you're playing D&D, man.
                I find this entire point humorous, because I've apparently had the exact opposite experience. I've played in D&D games where entire sessions would go by without a single combat roll being made, but all but one Exalted game I've played in his gone done in a ball of psychotic violence that broke the campaign.

                Hell, the death spiral that led me to swearing to never play, run or otherwise interact with Solars ever again started because one of the PCs murdered a town, outside of Limit Break, because he was angry that, quote, "That stablehand is being a disrespectful ass," unquote.
                Last edited by Coik; 04-12-2017, 03:33 PM.


                Have you ever read a Coik post before, man? lol
                -Holden

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                • #53
                  Not gonna get into this discussion or even really read over it, I just want to drop by to say: Whether you think his contributions were the best stuff ever done for the game, did manifest harm to it, or some more nuanced point inbetween, please remember they -always- came from a place of love for Exalted and the dude consistently put in effort above and beyond the average for anything published with his name on it, often at the cost of significant social, physical, psychological, or financial hardship.

                  All right, carry on and be excellent to one another.


                  Former Exalted developer.
                  --
                  Holden Reads the entire classic World of Darkness
                  Follow my RPG ramblings on Twitter.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post
                    "Wasn't it amazing how after smashing all the bad guys via interacting with their stat blocks (combat or otherwise) we could then tell human stories?"
                    "Wouldn't it just be easier if you did that to begin with?"
                    "What?"
                    I think the idea that violence is always an answer, just not always the best answer is an important and integral part of Exalted and many of the mythological stories that Exalted sets its foundations in. In many of these stories, violence is very often not the best answer, but it's usually an easy answer that characters resort to because the alternative is so much harder. I don't mind allowing violent solutions in Exalted, with the understanding that it may end up coming back to bite a character in the ass.

                    Saying that Exalted going in the other way and making it clear that your character can't do X, or that you need to be X tall to fight this opponent (with the explicit understanding that your character will never be that tall) is simply not the kind of game that I'm interested in playing. In fact, while the stats for Deathlords have issues, one of the biggest things that attracted me to Exalted when the First edition corebook came out, was that the Mask of Winters had stats. Here was one of the biggest, baddest and most powerful dudes in the setting and you could, absolutely, get into a fight with him.

                    Also, heya Holden.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

                      I think the idea that violence is always an answer, just not always the best answer is an important and integral part of Exalted and many of the mythological stories that Exalted sets its foundations in. In many of these stories, violence is very often not the best answer, but it's usually an easy answer that characters resort to because the alternative is so much harder. I don't mind allowing violent solutions in Exalted, with the understanding that it may end up coming back to bite a character in the ass.

                      Saying that Exalted going in the other way and making it clear that your character can't do X, or that you need to be X tall to fight this opponent (with the explicit understanding that your character will never be that tall) is simply not the kind of game that I'm interested in playing. In fact, while the stats for Deathlords have issues, one of the biggest things that attracted me to Exalted when the First edition corebook came out, was that the Mask of Winters had stats. Here was one of the biggest, baddest and most powerful dudes in the setting and you could, absolutely, get into a fight with him.

                      Also, heya Holden.
                      You like whatever you want, the thrust of my posts is this engagement wasn't anything new or innovative. As such, steering the line towards it made it seem pedestrian, not awesome.


                      Incentive is not permission or justification.

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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post
                        You like whatever you want, the thrust of my posts is this engagement wasn't anything new or innovative. As such, steering the line towards it made it seem pedestrian, not awesome.
                        I'll agree. Allowing players to fight against The Unbeatable Cosmic Powers is not particularly unusual or innovative. Call of Cthulhu is very much an exception in the RPG industry, not the standard. In many RPGs, even classic D&D, it's not unheard of for player characters to destroy the Tarrasque or deities or whatever.

                        But, this is more of a central component of Exalted than in other RPGs. Many of the myths that Exalted draws inspiration from involve heroes overthrowing the most powerful of gods and monsters and exploring what happens afterwards. So while in AD&D you can do awesome things and defeat foes who can destroy worlds, I think in Exalted it's a necessary component of the game to allow players to do that. This is because one of the primary themes in Exalted (unlike in AD&D) is that, "Actions Have Consequences." This is the core of the Exalted gameplay experience.

                        Limiting what actions you can take limits the kind of consequences you can face. If the ST says, "You can't kill a Yozi, ever," then you don't ever get to explore the consequences that could arise from killing Cecelyne. And I think Exalted is a weaker game when you begin locking off areas like that.

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                        • #57
                          Personally I don't mind stats for the Incarnae and Yozi's. I mean it's really neat to have something there for when you actually interact with them, but outside out Gunstar Autochthonia the chances of meeting these things are virtually nill. Not only that, but I feel that any merit they have as an antagonist are empty in of themselves for two reasons. One is that I feel any merit of them being an antagonist are nill compared to other things, such as the Ishvara/Deathlords/even the Aftershock primordial if he comes back. Second is the stats themselves. I like how they have stats, hell if anything I think a nod of respect should go towards the people who did stat such things *at all* just for monumental feat of actually statting them. But the question is how often do you use such things? It's like the Immortal's Handbook, really pretty to look at for how you can take a thing to the logical extreme, but actually using it? As I said previously, very specific games would handle such things in where the players actively need to go to them whereas things like the Deathlords or Ishvara, things that would actively come to the players themselves, are far more interesting I find.

                          Do I blame them for doing these things? Fuck no, I'm glad they did such a thing. But the problem is akin to the screaming robot comic. "I built a robot that screams constantly!" "OK, why?" "Uh... Because I could?"


                          Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
                          Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.

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                          • #58
                            I almost posted in this thread, then I realized I would be arguing about the Yozis again, and noooooope.

                            Wait, fuck.

                            Well, since I've posted anyway, I will point out that while Neph contributed to focusing on the Yozis and statting them up via the way he did the charmset, he wasn't he one who decided that 2e would end in a big climactic brawl with the Ebon Dragon, or that the Infernals would be all about the Reclamation or the like. My reading has always been that while he liked to focus on higher-power stuff, his ideal version of Exalted (if he were the lead developer and setting the publication schedule) would have looked more like Sandman rather than Final Fantasy 7 or Dragonball Z. While that's something other games have explored, it's not mined to death the way a game focused on big brawls with the Yozis would be.

                            Still pretty different from what the game originally was, yeah, and still sacrificing smaller-scale stories to some degree, but I don't think he was aiming for the JRPG end boss syndrome we eventually got.
                            Last edited by Aquillion; 04-12-2017, 09:26 PM.

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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                              I almost posted in this thread, then I realized I would be arguing about the Yozis again, and noooooope.

                              Wait, fuck.

                              Well, since I've posted anyway, I will point out that while Neph contributed to focusing on the Yozis and statting them up via the way he did the charmset, he wasn't he one who decided that 2e would end in a big climactic brawl with the Ebon Dragon, or that the Infernals would be all about the Reclamation or the like. My reading has always been that while he liked to focus on higher-power stuff, his ideal version of Exalted (if he were the lead developer and setting the publication schedule) would have looked more like Sandman rather than Final Fantasy 7. While that's something other games have explored, it's not mined to death the way a game focused on big brawls with the Yozis would be.

                              Still pretty different from what the game originally was, yeah, and still sacrificing smaller-scale stories to some degree, but I don't think he was aiming for the JRPG end boss syndrome we eventually got.
                              I do seem to recall that he was a fairly big DC fan who, long ago, argued for the importance of Lois Lane in Superman's life against notions to the contrary. That was a rather long time ago, though, so I might be mis-remembering.

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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post
                                When you come to view statting up setting pillars to possibly be slain as "freeing" or "fulfiling a promise" you are without a hint of irony doing _exactly_ what has been done before. The idea that this was new is a myth. This was just the first time someone with exposure and a *new* (industry-wise) installed fanbase got to give it a go. That's why it's a turnoff for the people I've talked to and for myself. It took away something potentially interesting and replaced it with pedestrian stuff. It hurt all the more because the original vision was actually something different than what we'd learned in our young steps into the wider world of rpgs.
                                So, I mean, I'm the "you" that's used the words you quoted above. Lemme respond just a little bit.

                                You're absolutely right that there's nothing particularly new in statting up god-level opponents. I think it's kind of a misread to interpret what I was saying as, "Whaaaaaaat? You can stat big things? Mind. Blown." Because, yes, of course you can; I don't think that was a revelation to anyone. But the reason this was significant for Exalted, for me, was twofold

                                First, D&D doesn't sell itself as "The game about a bunch of guys who can punch the gods in the neck." It's not really key to D&D that you can pick fights with and/or chat up the gods; they're kinda hard to get to, for most of the game, and you don't have a lot of reason to look 'em up. But none of that's true of Exalted. In Exalted, the Maidens could literally be your coworkers. Every Zenith gets a welcome note from the Sun, and every Lunar gets a personal visit from Luna. The Yozis could very well be your bosses - and even if they aren't, they're living in a hell full of interesting things, and it's right over there. It's not that hard to reach! And hey, let's go further - you've got history with them. There's a personal beef there. The game is set up, in just about every way it can be, to say, "You should at least think about knocking on these guys' doors, sooner or later."

                                (Not, by any means, that every game will or should, any more than every game should be set in Nexus - but it's presented as a viable thing you could do.)

                                And then someone goes to actually do that - to interact in any meaningful way; to bring all that crunchy exception-based power that's the only reason we put up with this many rules, and to put it to the task that everything from backstory on tells you ought to be an option - and the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.

                                "Hey, GM, I want to go talk to the Sun." Um, okay. "What's he like?" Well, I can make something up, but the game won't help me. "I want to try to persuade him to help me with something - can I use any of the rules for trying to persuade people?" Well, I can make something up, but the game won't tell me. "Okay, now he's ticking me off. Can I belt him one?" Well, I can make - "Thanks, yeah, got the pattern."

                                And I have nothing against games that are minimalist, or that invite you to resolve that kind of thing by pure freeform narrative without any recourse to rules. If Exalted was that game, we'd have no problem here; it's, well, not. And it was immensely frustrating to know that, if my players ever did what seemed like a natural thing to do, I was either going to have one heck of a homebrew task to tackle, or we were all going to have to stop playing the kind of crunchy, tactical-widget-y game we actually signed up for. It was frustrating as a player to know that, if I ever felt an urge to knock on that door, fulfilling it would be some combination of a jerk move and a quick trip to Bad GM Houserules Country.

                                So when I say freeing and fulfilling a promise, I'm picking those phrases for a reason. Neph's design had utility for this game specifically, and it resolved a pain point in my actual GMing experience. "Aw yeah, now we can have big challenges," was not part of that reason; "Aw yeah, now I can not worry about my players wandering into either of two enormous realms of existence, one of which may contain their summer cottage"... that very much was.

                                The second reason is that the design, in the context of Exalted's relationship with rules, was gorgeous. Anybody can - and D&D regularly has - statted up cosmic enemies by slapping on "+20 to AC and BAB, and big AoE damage, aaaaand spells bounce off." And these things are present in the Yozis - sure. There's a big die pool and all that. But there's also an attitude conveyed by the Charms - a personality that comes through, a way to interact with them in non-hostile ways that's baked right into them at a mechanical level. And there's also, in the case of the Yozis, a playable splat that falls out of that exact same design. It was clever in exactly the way most cosmic entities aren't.

                                It was also unwieldy and maximalist as all get out, sure - but, again: it was a gorgeous design for Exalted.

                                I don't think either of our experiences here is universal, and I definitely understand that the Yozis were a waste of paper for some players. But your post seems like it's working to explain why people had a positive reaction, and for at least some common strain of the fanbase, I don't think you're hitting the nail on the head.
                                Last edited by Irked; 04-12-2017, 10:27 PM.


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