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  • Originally posted by Totentanz View Post
    Generally speaking, I think taking single-sentence quotations from an author whose body of work spans years and thousands of pages (much more if we count forum posts), is unhelpful. What Neph thought on March 23rd 2003 is not a great way to judge him or his work. One of his strongest qualities was his ability to accept feedback and grow. 2E Abyssals was a better art piece than a player-friendly splat. Infernals was both a great art piece AND a player-friendly splat. It was such fecund soil for storytelling it essentially overwhelmed the fandom for a while there.
    Similarly, I think if we are judging his contributions to Exalted we should not arbitrarily cutoff opinions he expressed during 1st edition particularly if they remained relevant long after he shared them.

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    • (Kind of 50:50 on whether to bump the thread with this, but eh).

      Originally posted by Totentanz View Post

      I agree it's complex, but I still feel it all boils down to making being the Exalted the intended and desirable play experience. If the developer for V:tM wrote so much on dhamphirs and gave them so much cool stuff that everyone wanted to play them instead of Vampires, most game designers would consider that a failure state. The Mountain Folk are cool, yes, but they primarily exist as foils and hooks for Solar and Terrestrial PCs.

      I also think this thread is in danger of falling into the same hole the old forum did: we are using the same words with other definitions. In this case, I think we are coming at this from differing perceptions on 'lesser.'

      To me, the Exalted should be the most interesting things to play in the game. Power is a component of that, since Exalted IS a power fantasy RPG, but more important is their overall role in the setting. If the Fair Folk or the Mountain Folk or the Akuma become a more desirable play experience, then the setting and system have not delivered. You're right that Neph spend a lot of time and words nailing down the proper relationships, there, and this I feel was his end goal. Unfortunately, the community's reaction was to focus more and more on what amounts to the backdrop of their stories.
      Yep, does feel like we're on the verge of having a very old forum-y discussion here, if we're not in it already.

      I see your point about balancing how compelling it is to play a character that's *not* the designated protagonists (who are the point and what the designer wants to give you a focused experience at playing).

      At the same time, I do kind of wonder how much a designer of, say Vampire would just have to trust that his audience do *want* to play vampires, and not then worry that he's making ghosts and werewolves too cool or strong, and worry that he has actively to work to make not!vampires less cool and to seem a bit more like losers lest people want to play them.

      Taken to Exalted, how much should the designer just be trusting that people want to play human heroes uplifed by the power of the gods and their own skill (or that they want to play the Chosen of the Sun and not an accursed demon-exalt, free willed or no, slightly more powerful or no)? Exalted is much more of a power fantasy than Vampire would ever be, so you're right that power does loom a bit larger in that calculation. This is also a slightly different calculation in Vampire because that does live in the World of Darkness, and Exalted's really at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of "everything is a playable experience" (really, even more so depending on our stance on how central Solars as the designated protagonists are).

      Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
      I guess the issue is that Neph listened too closely to what Grabowski and Rebecca thought of Infernals while another author didn't bother? But I don't really see why that was Neph's fault for sticking too close to the developer's ideal for how Infernal Exalted were laid out to work in Games of Divinity and other sections of material. You seem to be approaching this from the idea that Neph was the lead developer or something.

      At worst, all he did was make sure that his material clung to the guidelines laid down by Rebecca and Grabowski, and it's not really his fault if a different author didn't bother to do that.
      For all that we're kind of indulging in tea leaf reading trying to work out what Neph's goals were (and risking just laying things on him that we really shouldn't and trying to be mindful of that), it's really even more so to be looking at what Grabowski thought about Akuma / Infernals via just presumptions on him as the line director, or trying to read what Jenna originally wrote in GoD.

      I mean, I'm sympathetic that he was working with what he got, but I really wouldn't be surprised if it had been the case that Jenna or Geoff would've just been like "Well, we were thinking originally more something like Whispers or Resonance, but Neph and the other author were writing for the Players Guide and Blood and Salt and its a hell of job for Geoff reviewing everything in those deadlines we had". Equally I wouldn't be surprised if they did plan something like what Neph did. It's next level tricky beyond looking just at what Neph wrote and why he wrote it based on what he said to look at what Geoff may have thought but never wrote and never told us anything about why he did, based on what we remember Neph saying about what Geoff said and a couple lines in GoD.

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      • Neph's writing may not have been perfect, but it added a lot of character to a game that could have very easily slipped into shallow tropes and cliche given some of what was going on at the time. He delivered a lot if interesting, deep, nuanced themes that made the game far more immersive. On top of all the rest, he was an almost unbelievably nice guy who made personal sacrifices for the sake of his work and this game.


        Looking for a place to chat about Exalted, Godbound, and similar games in real time? Check out the Ebon Dragon's Rostrum on Discord.

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        • Neph was always thoughtful, confident in his beliefs without seeming dogmatic, and had a pretty thick skin as far as some of the spikier comments were concerned. He also had a knack for writing Charms that worked without a slew of fixes. I would always consider his name on a game's writing credits as a plus, not a minus.

          I'm not so quick to believe that he wouldn't be a good fit for EX3. I'd like to see what he has to contribute.

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          • Originally posted by 39Steps View Post
            I'm not so quick to believe that he wouldn't be a good fit for EX3. I'd like to see what he has to contribute.
            I'm pretty sure his charm writing style was among the reasons he didn't continue on to 3e. His style was highly technical and mechanically rigorous which could take up make the text of some charms quite long. 3e shifted away fro the technical writing style went with plain English and dropped a lot of the rigor. The idea being that it made the charms easier to read, saved word count, and you didn't need the rigor because you can actually trust players to not abuse the charms.

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            • Originally posted by Hark View Post
              I'm pretty sure his charm writing style was among the reasons he didn't continue on to 3e. His style was highly technical and mechanically rigorous which could take up make the text of some charms quite long. 3e shifted away fro the technical writing style went with plain English and dropped a lot of the rigor. The idea being that it made the charms easier to read, saved word count, and you didn't need the rigor because you can actually trust players to not abuse the charms.
              I found quite the opposite to be true. The shift away from technical style has made the charms wordy unclear and often mechanically unsound. Dice based RPG games at least on some level rely on math. Math is a technical field and some level of technical description is not only desirable but necessary.


              I used to be Median but life has made me Mean.

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              • Originally posted by Avrjoe View Post
                I found quite the opposite to be true. The shift away from technical style has made the charms wordy unclear and often mechanically unsound. Dice based RPG games at least on some level rely on math. Math is a technical field and some level of technical description is not only desirable but necessary.
                It's a known issue. It remains to be seen if 3e will continue to embrace natural language.

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                • Originally posted by 39Steps View Post
                  I'm not so quick to believe that he wouldn't be a good fit for EX3. I'd like to see what he has to contribute.
                  Same here.
                  While I may be critical of how he approached some things, the notion of him not being a good fit for EX3 seems odd to me because its a really unflattering assertion.

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                  • Originally posted by 39Steps View Post
                    I'm not so quick to believe that he wouldn't be a good fit for EX3. I'd like to see what he has to contribute.
                    Between Exigents and a bunch of yet-unannounced Exalt types, there surely must be some place for transhumanist superheroes.


                    I made dis

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                    • Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post

                      Between Exigents and a bunch of yet-unannounced Exalt types, there surely must be some place for transhumanist superheroes.
                      Superhero is a bit of a different genre from pulp swords and sorcery mixed with wuxia, though.

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                      • Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
                        Superhero is a bit of a different genre from pulp swords and sorcery mixed with wuxia, though.
                        I'm not debating that.


                        I made dis

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                        • Originally posted by Hark View Post
                          I'm pretty sure his charm writing style was among the reasons he didn't continue on to 3e. His style was highly technical and mechanically rigorous which could take up make the text of some charms quite long. 3e shifted away fro the technical writing style went with plain English and dropped a lot of the rigor. The idea being that it made the charms easier to read, saved word count, and you didn't need the rigor because you can actually trust players to not abuse the charms.

                          I noticed something recently in that regard. As one who has been recently cataloging and going over the 2E charms in an attempt to create their own system, the charms in the 2E core, while using mechanical language, are relatively short. As the edition went on, they became much longer; especially the Ink Monkey Charms and the revisions to Dreams of the First Age, which are much more complicated charms.

                          By contrast, the Charms in 3E are laughable bricks of text with rules slopped all over the place. There is no way natural language saved word count or created clarity on any level.

                          For me, natural language made the charms impossible to skim quickly. I could not find the substance of the charms without becoming bogged down in fluff. It frankly made the book agonizing to read. I do not see the problem with a small (or large, go nuts) paragraph of descriptive text followed by clear cut rules. Why is there so much hate for clarity?
                          Last edited by Kashi; 04-21-2017, 06:00 PM.


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                          • Originally posted by Avrjoe View Post

                            I found quite the opposite to be true. The shift away from technical style has made the charms wordy unclear and often mechanically unsound. Dice based RPG games at least on some level rely on math. Math is a technical field and some level of technical description is not only desirable but necessary.
                            Especially with 3E's move to more mechanically complex subsystems.

                            A compromise solution would be the approach 40k used in the 4th-5th edition codex books: One paragraph of flowery fluff description followed by clearly separated rules texts. This is similar to how 2E often, but not always, approached it: by using a set formula of division with a visible break between, the rules are easy to find without eschewing evocative descriptions.

                            Games Workshop were by no means masters of clear rules writing, but the two part approach worked for the most part (though it did result in much higher word count than just the rules would have).


                            I thank the Devs for the great game of Exalted!

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                            • Originally posted by BjornTheFellhanded View Post

                              Especially with 3E's move to more mechanically complex subsystems.

                              A compromise solution would be the approach 40k used in the 4th-5th edition codex books: One paragraph of flowery fluff description followed by clearly separated rules texts. This is similar to how 2E often, but not always, approached it: by using a set formula of division with a visible break between, the rules are easy to find without eschewing evocative descriptions.

                              Games Workshop were by no means masters of clear rules writing, but the two part approach worked for the most part (though it did result in much higher word count than just the rules would have).

                              I agree wholeheartedly. You can, I think, have a happy medium between the mechanical and the evocative. If anything, the current writers are very, very good at writing evocatively and creating imagery. It just doesn't need to be swirled around in the actual rules.
                              Last edited by Kashi; 04-21-2017, 04:28 PM.


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                              • Hmm. I'm surprised by a lot of this. Have to say, comparing 2e Infernals to the 3e core and to BlueWinds rewrite of 3e, it certainly doesn't feel like Infernals is necessarily lower on descriptive language compared to 3e core or pares at all down to simple and a technical approach language like Bluewinds' rewrite or separates flavour from function (whether that's a good or bad thing).

                                It looks to me more like Infernals Charms just tend to be more multi-step and are describing a complex process, and/or have more options, conditionals and upgrades. 3e Charms look relatively more simple, but there's a lot of them. For whatever each approach is worth.

                                Just to testing out in which edition Charms are longer, I took the first 10 Archery Charms from each core, 2e and 3e, then ran wordcount against each. 2e came back with mean 135 words and median 115 words and 3e with mean 134 words and median 125 words. Just from this again, it doesn't seem to me 3e Charms are longer at all per Charm, more that there are lots of them and players will have lots of them. (If I wasn't so lazy, I'd use a bigger sample of Charms and have a bit more confidence in this).

                                The first 10 Malfeas Charms from Infernals come in at mean 158 words and median 156 words, so look a good 20% heftier in wordcount (But this may be apples to oranges if Infernals does more mechanically with fewer Charms, as a whole, and each Charm packs more options in.).

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