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Alchemical Exalted - Charm Slots or Installation Costs

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  • #46
    Even if one person is somewhat of a specialist in a certain niche, doesn't mean that they are the only ones to need that set of abilities. Ideally, everyone should at least be able to pull their own worth in a given situation.

    When infiltrating, everyone should have some amount of Stealth or they are placing unnecessary burden to the actual Stealth expert.

    When in a social situation, such as a fancy party, everyone should have Social Charms to at least boost their Resolve, Guile and Read Intentions, or otherwise people skilled in social influence can easily manipulate the party (in our current Solar game, the ST figured out that we all have super low Social capabilities and had our enemies took advantage of that)

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Cenrei View Post
      When infiltrating, everyone should have some amount of Stealth or they are placing unnecessary burden to the actual Stealth expert.
      You are still a burden if your ability to evade detection is significantly less than their ability. Sometimes being the team player is knowing when to concede the spotlight.

      Originally posted by Cenrei
      When in a social situation, such as a fancy party, everyone should have Social Charms to at least boost their Resolve, Guile and Read Intentions, or otherwise people skilled in social influence can easily manipulate the party (in our current Solar game, the ST figured out that we all have super low Social capabilities and had our enemies took advantage of that)
      Agree with the basic principle in that its a social situation where everyone can contribute, but feel you're setting the minimum bar unrealistically high.

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      • #48
        I have been thinking about the problem Alchemicals have with character concepts, at least to me. Exalted character concepts usually seem to be pretty archetypal ("a trickster Fox Lunar", "the best smith in the world Solar" etc) so how does a modular being such as an Alchemical work with that? The best Alchemical crafter can tomorrow be the best Alchemical infiltrator. Even their personality could change (Intimacies, and I wouldn't be surprised if Alchemicals got their version of Persona charms, they can already install physical pieces to themselves, why not whole personalities or minds?) so what's there that is always the same? It is that need to have a thematic, persistent concept that drives people to stay as a specialist of a niche ("I'm the infiltrator guy, why is that one slotting Stealth charms!?"). This, combined with the dynamics of a whole Circle of modular Exalted, trying to find solutions to problems presented in-game, does make it hard to find your own identity in the game.

        So, people just don't switch Charms, especially if there's already a "specialist" of that niche present. It is also seen that "piggybacking" along someone else's actions is more efficient than trying to all handle the problems. So they concede the spotlight. When the Circle is together, the party face does the talking, the infiltrator gets all the other members through the security etc.

        Also, I find it thematically interesting that if an Alchemical has a good, long bond with an Artifact, that Artifact could be thought to be more of a permanent body part than the actual body parts of the Alchemical, if they are constantly changing their Charms around, and evolving their bodies as their Essence score grows.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Bladewind View Post
          This thread make me curious as to how often Alchemical PCs actually switch charms.

          My experience is that for the most part they do not. That could be mixed game bias speaking there but I have seen players in an all Alchemical game respond to the notion of a diplomatic build being to point out that their PC is basically a cross between a superhero and a warship as long as someone was serving as the party face. Similarly, infiltration was treated as a specialist role for one character.
          Two ways to look at it.

          In the first way, a Lunar Exalt is not technically forced to shapeshift. A Lunar could theoretically go his entire heroic career without once turning into an animal form, if that's what the player wants.

          In the second way, it's the storyteller either catering to the story the player wants (as with the first way) or failing to challenge the player to expand beyond their character's current horizons.


          Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

          My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
            Two ways to look at it.

            In the first way, a Lunar Exalt is not technically forced to shapeshift. A Lunar could theoretically go his entire heroic career without once turning into an animal form, if that's what the player wants.

            In the second way, it's the storyteller either catering to the story the player wants (as with the first way) or failing to challenge the player to expand beyond their character's current horizons.
            Although one difference is that basic shapeshifting costs a Lunar nothing (so they're wasting it if they don't use it), whereas investing in extra charm trees that they only use sometimes has obvious costs to an Alchemical. I can see how some players, especially in a mixed group that's already doing a good job of covering everything, might decide to just invest all their XP into one tree, modules for that tree, and MA / Pattern Weaving that backs up their core role instead.

            I wonder what could be done to encourage Alchemicals to swap more? Is that something desirable?

            Recently I was playing Transistor, which has your character work a bit like an Alchemical in terms of constantly swapping stuff around. One cool thing they did was make it so you can either use your functions as activated abilities, passive effects, or upgrades for other functions, so you're always using almost everything. Another trick was that if you're defeated, you instantly recover to full health, but one of your functions breaks temporarily (so you have to rely on other ones for a while until it's repaired.)

            Giving every single Alchemical charm an upgrade mode that can enhance other charms doesn't seem very practical, of course. But it might be interesting if Alchemicals had a way of overloading or blowing out some of their charms, breaking them temporarily in exchange for a burst of immediate power. This would encourage an Alchemical to have other charms to swap to while the overloaded charm is in the shop getting repaired. (You'd have to forbid them from just having a duplicate of the blown-out charm, of course, which could be tricky to word and justify.)

            And perhaps some Alchemical charms could have alternative benefits when not installed, to serve as an incentive for Alchemicals to branch out and grab multiple trees. You wouldn't need to give these effects to all of them - just one or two pinnacle charms in major trees that have passive buffs when not equipped. (Probably with limitations, often 1/scene to avoid making Alchemicals feel less Alchemical-y.)

            Actually, it occurs to me that you can let Alchemicals do the Transistor thing where you sacrifice one of your functions to keep going already - just let them use the crippling rules to sacrifice a charm (and then give rules for getting them repaired.) It makes sense that Alchemicals are encouraged to more freely use the 3e crippling rules with fewer long-term consequences - it's like Genos from One Punch Man. Sacrificing your limbs in a really tough fight is just something cyborg-themed heroes do. You can play as an Alchemical bruiser, be really tough for an important fight as you tank damage with your repairable combat-frame body, then switch to some other role for a session while your combat charms are in the shop.

            EDIT: Transistor seems like a good reference for Alchemicals in general, both in terms of how they play and in terms of the general setting, especially later on in the game when stuff starts to get weird.
            Last edited by Aquillion; 09-10-2017, 02:28 AM.

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            • #51
              Aquillion, I absolutely love your concept! Before in this thread, there was some talk that overloading Charms might go too much into Liminal design space (based on the lone example antagonist we have in the core), but there was no talk of sacrifice. And you're right that sacrificing limbs is a common cyborg trope. (Happens all the time in Asura's Wrath too, but Asura is too much of a berserker to wait around for replacement limbs ) And you definitely would need to switch to a different loadout while your combat Charms are being repaired. Now we just need the system to apply to stuff outside of combat too. Opponent has busted through your Resolve and is going to manipulate you to do her bidding? Just explode a few Social Charms in your head, you didn't need them anyway! A sentry is going to spot you despite your optical camouflage Charm? Just break it for a momentary lightshow, allowing you to slip away unnoticed.

              Spending XP does become a problem if you want Alchemicals to switch around Charms often. Especially on individual Charms and their upgrades. Perhaps a solution would be for XP to work radically different? An Alchemical wouldn't buy individual Charms, but instead buys access into whole Charm trees, where they could slot in anything that they fulfill the prerequisites of? And I'm not talking too broadly here, in my example an Alchemical wouldn't buy the whole Performance tree, just a single sub-tree inside it, for example the Acting Charms.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
                In the first way, a Lunar Exalt is not technically forced to shapeshift. A Lunar could theoretically go his entire heroic career without once turning into an animal form, if that's what the player wants.
                If I saw Lunar PCs consistently not bothering with shapeshifting that's something I would mention in a thread about what people wanted Lunar shapeshifting to look like.
                Originally posted by Sunder the Gold
                In the second way, it's the storyteller either catering to the story the player wants (as with the first way) or failing to challenge the player to expand beyond their character's current horizons.
                I'd prefer to hear other people's experience with Alchemical characters changing charm load-outs before attributing this to shortcomings of my game group.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by Bladewind View Post
                  This thread make me curious as to how often Alchemical PCs actually switch charms.
                  I've played Alchemicals, extensively, in both 1E and 2E. We rarely bothered switching Charms in and out, mostly because the time involved has been somewhere between inconvenient and ridiculously useless.

                  In 2E, it takes 5 hours to change a Charm installation. If you want to refit for a specific task, it probably needs to be one that you're going to be doing the following day, at the earliest. Planned events like parties are fine, but more spur of the moment needs aren't really feasible. And that's assuming that you're in a friendly pat/metropolis where you can just walk to the vats and ask for a quick swap.

                  In 1E, the assumption was that you would need between a month and "right now" to schedule a Charm refit, depending on how much you've spent on the Vats background, and the refit itself is always going to take a week. We didn't bother keeping a selection of vats Charms, because taking your character out of circulation for a week to prepare for a specific event isn't something anyone was ever going to voluntarily do unless the group has literally nothing interesting going on. (Side note, this is also why we almost never raised attributes either, in either edition.)

                  To summarize, the rules generally discouraged swapping Charms too much to really make it seem like a useful tool to our group, especially in 1E. 2E was better - some players actually bothered keeping a Charm or two on tap at the vats, but even then it wasn't convenient enough for most players to invest more than one or two backup social or crafting or whatever Charms that they wouldn't be using on a regular basis.
                  Last edited by HighPriest; 09-10-2017, 11:40 PM.

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                  • #54
                    Did nobody opt to get a weaving engine for the protocol that lets you swap charms on the fly?

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                    • #55
                      That protocol was a bit pricey and it was one Charm at a time.



                      Masters of the Industrial Elements
                      Upon the Rock of Tradition: The Memorial Exalted
                      Ghosts: A Revision (2nd Edition)
                      The Underworld (3rd Edition)

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                      • #56
                        Well, the good thing is that the devs haven't really started on 3e alchemicals yet, so if we flag this as an issue that needs fixing...

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                        • #57
                          I think if changing your entire Charm loadout was five or six hours of work, that would probably make Charm swapping more useful.



                          Masters of the Industrial Elements
                          Upon the Rock of Tradition: The Memorial Exalted
                          Ghosts: A Revision (2nd Edition)
                          The Underworld (3rd Edition)

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                          • #58
                            So I have a couple of comments about this topic:

                            First, charm slots and installation costs operate like a carrot and a stick respectively. Both their goals are to achieve a certain play style where the PCs doesn't install all their available charms and subject themselves to the need of relying on the infrastructure of her home country to change out their charms. Charm slots are a carrot in the sense that it allows a PC to purchase a charm at a discount compared to other exalted who's charms cost the same as an Alchemical's slot and charm combined. The installation costs are a stick in the sense that they reduce the PCs available resources when you install a charm. So if I'm forced to choose one or the other, I'd rather take the carrot than the stick.

                            In the typical Alchemical game, the PC is encouraged to have multiple "builds" available to them. If they have 3 different things they want their character to do, then the character can easily have all the charms needed to do those 3 different things well, just not all at the same time. Using the charm slot system, your character is always incentivized to have a number of slots equal to the highest number of charms needed by one of its builds. All charms beyond that number for other builds, effectively receive a 4-6 xp discount. That alone should be enough to incentivise the player to engage in the desired playstyle.

                            Secondly, both installation costs and charm slots are examples of increasing the complexity of the system and given comments made by Vance and Minton, that means that complexity would need to be removed from other parts of the system. But you can't have installation costs without having some form of charm slot (even if you're not paying for them). On the other hand, you can have a charm slot without needing an installation cost. In my opinion, it would be less complex to use charm slots to introduce charm slots alone than introducing charm slots and installation costs, and thus would be easier to find places to remove complexity in other parts of the system.


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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Demac View Post
                              you can't have installation costs without having some form of charm slot
                              Kindly explain, because this sounds like nonsense and I think your whole argument hinges on it.


                              Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

                              My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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                              • #60
                                I think he means that if you have installation costs, you essentially have slots equal to whatever pool you pay costs out of.



                                Masters of the Industrial Elements
                                Upon the Rock of Tradition: The Memorial Exalted
                                Ghosts: A Revision (2nd Edition)
                                The Underworld (3rd Edition)

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