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What would you like to see in a Storyteller's Guide?

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  • #76
    My absolute favorite social system, ever, is Sway. That's from one of the nWoD supplements (Mirrors, maybe?) and warranted maybe two pages of writeup. I love that it lays out what depth of sway you need with somebody to get something done. I love that it supports a roleplaying scene with just enough rules to resolve an NPC making a decision: (X hits to get what you want) + (Y hits for the duration) + (Z hits for special circumstances) =? (amount of Sway you roll up incidental to roleplaying). I unashamedly and reflexively go back to a Sway consideration in other systems and settings too.

    I never bothered figuring out Doors.

    Ex2 Social Combat was itself a mighty beast of rules to crunch through.

    Ex3's notion of Intimacies (and Limit, in context) is seriously growing on me though, and I find that the idea of them has started to cross-pollinate into my NPC design in general. It especially overlaps the "three things" NPC guidelines that I found in some random Lovecraftian game I'd picked up - a guideline that is so effective and straightforward that I've used it ever since.


    Why do I mention these?

    Because something I'd like to see in a Storytelling guide is a discussion about different ways to handle these rules and scenes. Some people like a detailed and intricate Bureaucracy system, which is great! I'd personally pick some values of Bureau-Sway and assign an organization some Bureau-Intimacies and let my players run with it.

    In other words, we have an abundance of rules and tools; what I'd like to read more of is the art and craft of building a story, and how and when to use those rules and tools.


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    • #77
      Originally posted by Arian Dynas View Post

      I began writing a big long post explaining the logic of my metaphor before I re-read what you said and realized that you were agreeing it was good that the majority of QCs were built that way. *cough*.
      Yeah, it's definitely a good thing; I'd just like more of it.

      The best-written (from a mechanics perspective, not fluff) antagonist book I've read was the 4th ed DnD Monster Manual. They pretty much abandoned any attempt to make NPCs mechanically similar to PCs, and instead designed them to be easy to run and fun to fight. So a human with a halberd was not a 6th-level fighter, but a "monster" with a couple of at-will powers, a 1/scene power, and a power that recharges on a roll of 5+.*

      *There are also disadvantages to doing antagonists like this, admittedly.

      At the same time I think I get some of the logic of why Exalts are more player similar. If I'm guessing right, I get the distinct impression Exalted is a game written by writers, for writers. Hence why the assumption John and Holden had was "They're smart enough, they'll figure it fine."
      Hmmmmmmm... I suppose that's possible. I assumed it was more because a) the antagonists were partially supposed to showcase the capabilities of other splats, b)a lingering idea that the mechanics ought to represent the setting, and thus a Lunar PC and NPC should use the same rules. (And that's not an entirely bad idea)

      I should say that it's not the case that the antagonists are designed exactly like PCs. Holden said people shouldn't assume DBT works the same way for PCs as it does for the Full Moon in the book.
      It's just that they're mostly designed like PCs, which I find means they a)have slightly too many powers for an ST to keep track of, and b)don't have quite enough powers to be a decent challenge.

      Hence, no Storyteller's Guide thus far,
      To be fair, 2nd ed didn't have one either. And the 1st ed Storyteller's Guide (which I actually like) was not at all what people are talking about now.
      Essentially, it's kind of unprecedented for Exalted, so I don't think it's surprising they haven't done one yet.

      (Also, Holden and John might have wanted to do an ST guide, just not until they'd done 10 other books. I don't know.)

      and "Oh you want more evocations? Write your own! We encourage that.
      I do see where you're coming from there. It probably applies to Exigents too.

      You want realistic Bureaucracies? Study them! Like a writer!"
      TBH, I never got why people wanted bureaucracy rules. I just don't see it as not something that needs rules beyond "roll X+Bureaucracy". Maybe they just saw it that way too.

      I mean, if people are mad keen on bureaucracy rules, then sure, make some, I just mean that maybe the reason Holden and John didn't write them is they didn't see them as necessary, rather than they wanted people to make their own.
      (Plus, the book is already absolutely ridiculously huge. It's not like they didn't put plenty of other stuff in.)

      Also, Wizard! Long time no see, how's China?
      I moved to Britain a while ago actually, there's less pollution and better pay. But thanks for asking!


      "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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      • #78
        I think it's somewhat of a mistake to characterize it as people wanting a "detailed Bureaucracy system." Rather, we want a detailed system where Bureaucracy has a significant role. We don't need a "detailed Melee system" because we have combat. The Leadership section - which seems the obviously place for Bureaucracy to shine - is roughly 3 pages of "handwave things." It advises avoiding rolls as much as possible, and actively penalizes characters that go out and take care of things themselves (kinda unfun for Exalted). Things like Strategic Warfare,Crafting, and Sailing all leave out Bureaucracy as a potential support Ability for boosting long term logistics (though this goes back to the Leadership rules not having much rules). Crime and Investigation is all Larceny vs. Investigation.... leaving out both corruption and any sort of judiciary as places where Bureaucracy can get involved.

        Yes, as a ST, I can always call for Bureaucracy rolls, but it's butting up against the Rule Zero Fallacy, and it's something players need a good handle on when I'm going to do because the game itself doesn't provide guidance for it. According to the book, my player might make a general that has lots of War for Strategic Warfare rolls, but looks at Leadership and invests in Merits instead of Bureaucracy. So if I call for a Bureaucracy roll to see how well they resupply their troops in adverse conditions, they get frustrated because the book says they don't need to invest in that.

        To an extent this is a problem throughout Chapter Five in general, with only Combat and Social Influence having clear room for lots of Abilities to come into play. The rest of the chapter tends to be very mono-Ability focused. In the recent thread about a sailing based Chronicle, one of the system issues brought up is that only one person per boat rolls in the Sailing systems, and they just roll Sail. So there's nothing explicit for your other players to be doing while your primary Sail character(s if you have multiple boats) roll everything.

        Bureaucracy is just the one that's left out in the cold in that process. Occult is to an extent, but that's only because Thaumaturgy and Sorcery are covered elsewhere.

        Despite being a "detailed Bureaucracy system" advocate, I think an unrealistic ideal solution would be for major portions of Chp. 5 to just be rewritten wtih a better eye towards "what other Abilities might make sense to include here, especially in a fashion that means having multiple PCs with different skill sets involved." To me, that would most likely solve the problem even if there's no on-the-nose Bureaucracy system like Medicine, Lore, Crafting, or Sailing. So the next best thing would be to add something where Bureaucracy actually matters.

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        • #79
          Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
          Yeah, it's definitely a good thing; I'd just like more of it.

          The best-written (from a mechanics perspective, not fluff) antagonist book I've read was the 4th ed DnD Monster Manual. They pretty much abandoned any attempt to make NPCs mechanically similar to PCs, and instead designed them to be easy to run and fun to fight. So a human with a halberd was not a 6th-level fighter, but a "monster" with a couple of at-will powers, a 1/scene power, and a power that recharges on a roll of 5+.*

          *There are also disadvantages to doing antagonists like this, admittedly.
          Like the fact that we've faced of running them with PC rules like grapple when they don't have a listed grapple value becomes guesswork.

          Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
          I moved to Britain a while ago actually, there's less pollution and better pay. But thanks for asking!
          Good for ya.


          Need some Tunes for your Exalted Game? http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...-exalted-tunes
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          • #80
            Yeah, we had that with grapple once as well.

            That's more of an oversight though; the main issue with doing them differently from PCs is in-game fluff consistency.

            There's also the issue of there being so many different avenues of attack/defence, social, and misc abilities (craft, investigation, occult, etc) that need covering.

            But I would be very happy with Exalted antagonists that had 4 very strong powers that represent the idea of Solar/Lunar/Abyssal charms, just not expressed with the exact same mechanics. The Monks for example, have 6-7 charms, which I find a bit difficult to sort out when you have 4 or 5 different immaculate monks fighting PCs in one combat. I think 3 strong combat powers (one offence, one defence, one something else) would be easier.


            "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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            • #81
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              Bureaucracy is just the one that's left out in the cold in that process.
              This. When most people say "a Bureaucracy system" what they really mean is "anything at all to go on beyond the Ability description in chapter four." Bureaucracy is literally the only Ability in the game that doesn't get so much as a page's worth of material anywhere else in the entire book.

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              • #82
                Things I want more than anything else in a Storyteller's Guide.

                1) A collection of "standard" difficulties and circumstance penalties/bonuses. The Charms (and a few other parts of the books) reference a seemingly fairly well-defined body of standard modifiers: -3 for moving normally in stealth, -1 for makeshift tools and +1 for exceptional tools, -1 to detect threats in low-visibility environments, -3 to fighting completely blind, +2 to Resolve against social influence delivered entirely nonverbally, and so on. These appear in places that are reasonable for them to appear. But this has the result of scattering them among Charm texts, the Traits chapter, and the Systems and Conflict chapter. At our table, this does a bit of a disservice to our Storyteller, because our players are each expert in the mechanics written for our respective wheelhouses, while our Storyteller has to try to keep up enough to provide us all interesting, well-balanced challenges.

                A one-stop shop for the standard difficulties and modifiers would be a useful tool. I'm not imagining we'd hew strictly to these, but it'd give our Storyteller a much better handle on what default assumptions were made in the design of Charms and subsystems, and a quick way to better inform judgement calls. Thus far, we've been managing just fine with looking things up as needed or eyeballing things, but helping the table establish a more robust baseline set of expectations is great for dealing with the inevitably weird edge cases or exceptions we run into. It also gives us another cool tool for Storytelling. If the whole table has an strong expectation for how something in the narrative will be modeled, occasional big departures are exciting clues that something interesting is going on, rather than a mystifying number which may just mean we are disagreeing about how things should be modeled.

                2) More guidance that can help inform negotiations between the Storyteller and the players. This comes up most directly in dealing with Lore rolls to introduce or challenge facts and in the finesse of sorcerous workings, where the mechanics explicitly engage with narrative control. But it's also an element that's present any time the central narrative actions hinges on things in the narrative that require "translation" into difficulties or penalties. For example, just how hard it is to find cover in the middle of that bar brawl, or how much high winds should interfere with an eavesdropping attempt. These topics are treated in the core (on pages 185 and 188), but I'd love to see some more expansion on this subject. How can we get to a set of shared expectations among storytellers and players that makes these negotiations easy/unnecessary more of the time, and at least satisfying to resolve when they do come up?

                In addition to tuning difficulties and modifiers, other parameters of at-the-table play, like how often to call for rolls, what sorts of changes of circumstance are significant enough to warrant rerolls, how much narrative impact can be achieved with a single roll, how much narration/roleplaying is required to justify an influence roll, how to represent any given phase of an extended roll, (and many more!) all affect the pace/tone/feel of the story. And every table is necessarily going to want to adjust these parameters, either generally for the table's style of Chronicle, or at specific moments, to heighten a particular scene or story. Explicit guidance about the "defaults" the system is tuned to, and what effect is achieved by adjusting them, and perhaps discussion of the costs and benefits associated with such effects/adjustments are something that I'd love to see.

                3) I feel the need to mention that our Storyteller has been pining away for more material to help with antagonist/combat encounter design. I don't really expect to see this in the ST Guide, but they don't have an account on the forum yet (that I know of, so I thought I'd put the request in for them). Likely, I expect the "Hundred Devil's Night Parade" and "Adversaries of the Righteous" to take the edge off their pining, and then the Exigents book when it comes through will take care of the rest. Charm design seems to be one of the biggest hurdles for them.

                - - - - -

                I don't think there are any hard-and-fast rulings on any of these subjects that we need. Our table will get along just fine without this stuff. But this is the sort of thing that would give our table the most benefit-per-wordcount.

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