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A Fractal Tomb?

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  • A Fractal Tomb?

    I've been trying to develop an idea for my own Exalted game, being that I've been out of playing Exalted for some time now and only just now getting back in. I have basically every other question settled on the subject of "How I'm Going To Run My Game (tm)" but I'm trying to get a handle on this one idea;

    I want the tomb that is my circle's current goal to be Fractal. As in infinite and self-similar. I want this place to feel weird, terrifying and impossible; nothing like infinite internal size does that, and nothing manages that concept quite like fractals.

    Yes, it's stolen in concept from Kill Six Billion Demon's Fractal Treasure Fortress of Yre. Don't judge me.

    But here's the issue; I'm not certain how to manifest the concept mechanically short of handing them a Worfram maze like one of these;

    and telling them to solve it. It's fine as a puzzle, hard to solve individually, simple once you're aware of the tricks, but it doesn't really engage the Exalted mechanics much, if at all. (I considered giving them hints based on Lore Mathematics and Intellect rolls)

    At the same time I don't want it to be so hard I've got to put up with the issue of them taking an hour to solve it, and doing nothing else. It'd be engaging for at most three people, and even worse would be if I needed to solve it for them. I'm shooting for the goldilocks zone of "just hard enough to be mentally engaging for player and characters alike," and "Easy enough to solve that it doesn't make the game grind to a halt." and while it would communicate "Fractal" the issue with solving a maze is that it doesn't really feel like *being* in one.

    So I'm asking for suggestions; how would you solve this issue? Short of describing it, which feels like a very limp-wristed copout or handing them a map I can't think of much.


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  • #2
    I don’t feel like describing it is a cop out honestly, if you’re willing to sit down for a bit and think about what it would look like from the inside. That said, if any individual region inside the area looks normal, but trying to map it would drive the map maker insane, maybe consider an area that has much more visible warped space, like the Escher Stairs scene from Labyrinth:

    https://youtu.be/k8qs16mAU0s

    Plus, Exalted 3e has fairly narrative driven movement rules, which I think you could have some fun with as regards an area where the gravity and space warps things heavily, but I’m not sure the fractal will work with the rules very much.

    But maybe I misunderstood. Can you tell me what being inside this fractal space would look like?


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    • #3
      What are you prepared to do for players who have Lore 5 and Intelligence 5? Perception 5 and Awareness 5? Wits 5 and Salty Dog Methodology?

      We don't expect people to be as strong as their characters, but we do expect them to be as smart. I have no idea how an Int 5 Lore 5 specialty: Dimensional Theory approaches a problem like this, but I can tell you they would do hell of a lot better than me.


      ..."But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post
        What are you prepared to do for players who have Lore 5 and Intelligence 5? Perception 5 and Awareness 5? Wits 5 and Salty Dog Methodology?

        We don't expect people to be as strong as their characters, but we do expect them to be as smart. I have no idea how an Int 5 Lore 5 specialty: Dimensional Theory approaches a problem like this, but I can tell you they would do hell of a lot better than me.
        This is going to be your biggest thing to figure out. Between high scores, Excellencies, and then Charms, you need to see what your players are capable of before digging too much at this, otherwise you will spend hours of prep that could get invalidated with a few die rolls and a Charm or two.

        I would describe what the characters are actually seeing and when they inevitably start throwing Charms around, don't hide the fact that its a fractal maze (but maybe not call it that). For example, Salty Dog Method lets the Exalt know the exact distance and route to anywhere they have been before and Direction Sense lets them always know their orientation. That sounds to me like you would get some freaking weird information, like the fact that they walked down a straight hallway but ended up at a 90° rotation from where they were, back in the same room. When they figure out that it is a maze, either through deduction, intuition, or the Twilight going "hmmm..." and then getting a dozen successes on a Intelligence+Lore roll, then maybe hand them the maze saying that they take the appropriate amount of time to get the information that they need and can extrapolate out the rest.

        That said, I would not make the maze a difficult one. I am not a fan of most logic puzzles in my RPGs, partially because as Sorcerous Overlord said, I'm not as strong or fast as my character, so why should I have to be as smart as them. If I'm playing the Intelligence 5 Lore 5 Twilight, most logic puzzles that would take me a little bit would be immediately solved and if it takes my character a little bit, I will be completely stumped. There is not a faster way to disengage me from the game and the story then to throw down a puzzle that takes more than a few minutes to solve, especially if there are more than two or three players. That is just a personal preference, but I doubt that I am alone in that.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
          I don’t feel like describing it is a cop out honestly, if you’re willing to sit down for a bit and think about what it would look like from the inside. That said, if any individual region inside the area looks normal, but trying to map it would drive the map maker insane, maybe consider an area that has much more visible warped space, like the Escher Stairs scene from Labyrinth:

          https://youtu.be/k8qs16mAU0s

          Plus, Exalted 3e has fairly narrative driven movement rules, which I think you could have some fun with as regards an area where the gravity and space warps things heavily, but I’m not sure the fractal will work with the rules very much.

          But maybe I misunderstood. Can you tell me what being inside this fractal space would look like?
          So, I did some thinking on this. Assuming you have an area as depicted in that scene from Labyrinth, where it’s a bunch of stairs and platforms at all angles out in a vast hall with no bottom, I think the following rules would work ok for modeling it:

          While at close range with another person, fights work normally. Anyone who tries to move must make a reflexive Int+Lore or Occult roll at a -3 penalty or end up randomly placed in relation to everyone else every time they move a range band. Ranged attacks take a -3 penalty for each range band they cross, which counts as a non-visual environmental penalty (so it can be negated by There Is No Wind and similar charms).

          Anyone who takes a Miscellaneous action to study the area and figure out the connections between places (by succeeding on a Difficulty 5 Int+Lore or Occult roll) may ignore the -3 penalty on movement and only takes a -1 penalty per range band on ranged attacks.

          Charms and stunts, as always, supersede these rules.


          ....

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          • #6
            I'll take a different tack on how to realize this!

            Have the tile(s) ready to go, to be certain.

            But for the actual gameplay, I propose you plan out three-ish scenes inside the Tomb:

            1 - Enter the tomb, finding it to be of suitably grand construction. Drop a few hints about the nature of the entombed. Have a battle with the tomb guardians, something that matches the theme. Discover that there are an unusually large number of side passages compared to what you might expect from the outside.

            2 - Down a side passage, discover that it leads to a nearly identical chamber. Another batch of tomb guardians, very similar but with some differences, and somewhat tougher. After the battle, discover that going back to the first chamber leads to more chambers - not an exit. Examining the clues in the two chambers, find out that some parts of the decorations are different, such as the particulars of the entombed's history, etc. This might be enough hints for the Lore or Occult rolls to discover some of the extradimensional nature of the place.

            3 - The Circle figures out the basics of the course they need to take to find the "correct" chamber, and may have several escalating battles to get there, or just gloss them over depending how the play session is going. When they get there, they have a final challenge.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post

              So, I did some thinking on this. Assuming you have an area as depicted in that scene from Labyrinth, where it’s a bunch of stairs and platforms at all angles out in a vast hall with no bottom, I think the following rules would work ok for modeling it:

              While at close range with another person, fights work normally. Anyone who tries to move must make a reflexive Int+Lore or Occult roll at a -3 penalty or end up randomly placed in relation to everyone else every time they move a range band. Ranged attacks take a -3 penalty for each range band they cross, which counts as a non-visual environmental penalty (so it can be negated by There Is No Wind and similar charms).

              Anyone who takes a Miscellaneous action to study the area and figure out the connections between places (by succeeding on a Difficulty 5 Int+Lore or Occult roll) may ignore the -3 penalty on movement and only takes a -1 penalty per range band on ranged attacks.

              Charms and stunts, as always, supersede these rules.

              Thus far, based on how I'm working this... your notion seems to have the greatest merit to it. Thank you. And it's not going to be part of the tomb per-se, but this does simplify another idea...


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              • #8
                This map might be of use to you as well: https://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/...-lost-ossuary/


                ....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
                  This map might be of use to you as well: https://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/...-lost-ossuary/

                  That's interesting, but in your experience, to players track internal geography closely enough to notice the layout doesn't make sense?


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post


                    That's interesting, but in your experience, to players track internal geography closely enough to notice the layout doesn't make sense?
                    The groups I've been in do not, but I presume some other groups do. I know mapping the dungeon as you go along is traditional in D&D .

                    In any case, if Arian Dynas is considering giving the group a strange map to work with, I thought that another type of strange map might be useful.

                    If nothing else, you could design one where the fact that it was a cube was made obvious by having gravity actually reorient along the fold lines.


                    ....

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post

                      The groups I've been in do not, but I presume some other groups do. I know mapping the dungeon as you go along is traditional in D&D .

                      In any case, if Arian Dynas is considering giving the group a strange map to work with, I thought that another type of strange map might be useful.

                      If nothing else, you could design one where the fact that it was a cube was made obvious by having gravity actually reorient along the fold lines.

                      Certainly is one way, but I find that for Exalted, avoiding maps smaller than a county is typically wise.


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