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DB Charm Commentary (part 1)

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  • DB Charm Commentary (part 1)

    I've done some rules analyses for parts of the Solar charmset before (especially crafting and persona charms), so I figured I'd make some comments on the current draft of the Dragon-Blooded rules. This is especially intended for folks who are on the fence on the kickstarter, but there are a handful of comments in here that I hope make it to the devs as well.

    General Rules:
    • DBs still have a major advantage in backgrounds, but only a minor one in skills compared to the 10 extra dots they had in previous editions. The fact that DB characters are created at Essence 2 rather than 1 (having trained it up through schooling and rigorous training) helps balance "starting" DBs against starting Solars.

    Anima effects:
    • You can sense direction and rough distance to someone in your sworn kinship. That's awesome. That's a major plot driver.
    • Anima flux is a murder machine. Someone caught in close combat with three fire-aspects had better not get crashed. Even if they normally have Hardness, it's set to zero during crash, and they'll take 9 dice of lethal every turn.
    • Air is great for falling, but loses out in combat effectiveness. People attacking an Air-aspect from range lose half a success on average, at a cost of 3 motes per attack. Meanwhile, for 0 motes, 40% of the people attacking an Earth-aspect fly backwards or fall down every turn. As a reminder, knockback damage in this game is brutal: 3 levels of bashing plus another 5 dice of bashing for this one-range-band throw. That's an average of 2 levels of bashing damage per turn to each close attacker, plus eating up some of their movement actions.
    • Water-aspects can survive underwater long-term now! Very nice.

    Charms:
    • There's no equivalent to Supernal (unless I missed something). You're limited by your Essence on charms, full stop. However...
    • Signature charms are all Essence 3! That's awesome! I had expected them higher.
    • There seem to be no more teamwork charms outside of Integrity. I'm expecting some of them make it into War, but there aren't any so far that allow Dragon-blooded to combine their efforts on a single action.
    • Dragon-blooded have no equivalent to Monkey Leap Technique. They can fly more easily (and Brawl has the wonderful Flying Whirlwind Razor) but if a particular DB can't fly, they can't effectively follow a Solar who's invested even a little in Dodge and Athletics.
    • The expansion of the charm trees is really great to see. The classics are still here, and I've got a bunch of NPCs whose capabilities are still well-represented here, but there's plenty of room for new NPCs who use the same abilities in different ways.
    • Dragon-blooded can't grapple Legendary-sized creatures. Bummer. I might need to make a custom charm for that.
    • Humble Exemplar Attitude and Graven Stone Edict are fantastic. Dragon-blooded Bureaucracy is pretty damn sweet overall.
    • There's a fair amount of "reroll non-1 failures", which nicely lets some charms continue to take advantage of those 1s. I'm expecting to see a bunch of those for Abyssals some day.
    • Dragon-blooded Craft has no charms above Essence 3.
    • Safety Among Enemies is still great.
    • Frozen Heart Prana = "I Don't Care How Hot You Are Stance"
    • Shadow-Immolating Talon reinforces the false idea that torture obtains correct information. Sigh.
    • The rest of the Investigation tree is fantastic. It's not as flat-out powerful as it used to be, but it's incredibly useful, and Dragon-blooded are going to be able to track down Solars on a regular basis.

    General Notes:
    • The elemental flavor in these charms is fantastic.
    • I wasn't sure how I would like having charms from one element in an ability that's mostly about another element. It works well. It'll be a little weird for long-time players, but once you accept the idea of every DB having some of every element in them, it works just fine.
    • The Solar archetype of "I craft to solve every problem" does not exist for the Dragon-Blooded. There's no charm that speeds artifact creation, and no way to reasonably attempt Artifact 5 or N/A crafting with any expectation of success.

    Are There Still Tiers of Power?
    Yes. Dragon-blooded charms are definitively weaker than Solar charms. The power gap seems to be smaller than it was in 2e or even 1e, but it's still there. When the charms have similar effects, nearly every Solar charm is flat-out twice as good...

    ...with the exception of the Signature charms. Signature charms are Solar-level, and they're basically all great.

    DB excellencies do more than just adding dice, which is nice, but rerolling 6s isn't as good when your dice pool is smaller. Plus DBs have to buy excellencies instead of getting them for free.

    I don't think anyone really expected or wanted Dragon-Blooded to be on par with Solars of the same experience and focus anyway, so I find this to be just fine. I just wanted to address it since it's such a common question.


    Current project: Stranger Creations, unofficial settings and NPCs for Exalted.

  • #2
    Yeah, my only concerns right now are

    a) the power gap in Anima effects with Air on the low end and Earth at the top (though Water is sort of perpendicularly amazing in a non-mechanically measurable way)

    b) it seems difficult to maintain Air or Wood Aura in combat since other than the Dodge and Brawl (and we can go ahead and assume Melee) excellencies, they don’t have a lot of usable defensive Charms. Could really use some Air dodge-monkey effects, but we’ll see if Air Dragon Style lets you Aang-around your opponents.

    There has also been some raised concernes about xp scaling (which Vance said he’ll take another look at). But i’m less concerned there because that’s a lot easier to customize to taste at individual tables. My solution is just going to be to give Essence 2 characters access to ONE signature charm of their choice early to represent being prodigies, and let the players have access to their choice of the cool toys early while still leaving them more broadly gated off for setting-balance.


    Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Colin_Fredericks View Post
      Air is great for falling, but loses out in combat effectiveness. People attacking an Air-aspect from range lose half a success on average, at a cost of 3 motes per attack. Meanwhile, for 0 motes, 40% of the people attacking an Earth-aspect fly backwards or fall down every turn. As a reminder, knockback damage in this game is brutal: 3 levels of bashing plus another 5 dice of bashing for this one-range-band throw. That's an average of 2 levels of bashing damage per turn to each close attacker, plus eating up some of their movement actions.

      The ability to spend 3 times as many motes to penalize someone as they have to if they want to cancel out that penalty is indeed hot garbage, but I think you're underestimating the impact of free vertical movement and being able to ignore difficult terrain.

      Also, unless the specific rules of Heaven Thunder Hammer apply to every instance of knockback (there is no indication of such in the rules text), flinging somebody away does not, by default, result in damage. Maybe if you find a way to knock them upwards. But the idea that the dominant strategy in Dragon-Blooded personal combat is for participants to try and get under each other so they can catapult their opponent into the air seems profoundly silly.


      Originally posted by Colin_Fredericks View Post
      [*]Shadow-Immolating Talon reinforces the false idea that torture obtains correct information. Sigh.

      That seems like an incredibly bad faith reading of the ability in question.


      Evocations for the demonic tattoos gained from the Pact with Mara sorcerous initiation || Pyre-Kindler (Soulsteel and Red Jade Grimscythe, Artifact 3) || Tenebrous Descent (Stormcaller's Black Jade Reaver Daiklave cousin, Artifact 5)
      Advice for running the corebook shikari antagonists

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      • #4
        All Dragon-Blooded Abilities actually have one more Essence 5 Charm than they seem to.

        Because at Essence 5, a Dragon-Blood can buy a second Signature Charm.


        Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

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

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        • #5
          I think it is possible for a Terrestrial Exalt to craft artifact 5 with decent reliability, if they use Imago-Hatching Realization (either waiting multiple stories or spending wxp to reset) on every roll, and also are essence 5 using every charm, including the repurchase and either of Eternal Omphalos Forge and Blazing Dragon-Smith Arete. And have 5 attribute+5 ability+speciality. And get at least a 1-point stunt. Spending willpower wouldn't be amiss.

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          • #6
            On teamwork, don't overlook the Distract-boosting Charms. Life-Swelling Sap Strike in Archery buffs a Distract the archer uses, and Become the Wave and Swift-Striking Tide in Brawl both allow the brawler to get more benefit out of being the beneficiary of a Distract action. If that trend continues through the rest of our combat abilities, that suggests we'll have some fun options for "set 'em up and knock 'em down" combos.

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            • #7
              Shadow-Immolating Talon reinforces the idea that torture has to be backed up by magic to obtain correct information.

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              • #8
                If our standard for torture is "attacking a person who is engaged with you in mortal combat", then pretty much every Exalted character ever is a torturer.


                Evocations for the demonic tattoos gained from the Pact with Mara sorcerous initiation || Pyre-Kindler (Soulsteel and Red Jade Grimscythe, Artifact 3) || Tenebrous Descent (Stormcaller's Black Jade Reaver Daiklave cousin, Artifact 5)
                Advice for running the corebook shikari antagonists

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post

                  Also, unless the specific rules of Heaven Thunder Hammer apply to every instance of knockback (there is no indication of such in the rules text), flinging somebody away does not, by default, result in damage.
                  I was going to say that. There are lots of effects that knock people back, but only Heaven Thunder Hammer and one of the DB charms (I forget which) say they inflict falling damage. So I'm pretty sure the Earth anima just knocks you prone or back.

                  Which is good, but it's not throwing damage onto people (besides the 1 from the anima damage).


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

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
                    Y]It seems difficult to maintain Air or Wood Aura in combat since other than the Dodge and Brawl (and we can go ahead and assume Melee) excellencies, they don’t have a lot of usable defensive Charms. Could really use some Air dodge-monkey effects, but we’ll see if Air Dragon Style lets you Aang-around your opponents.
                    There are some Air-aspected dodge charms. Not as many as fire, but some.

                    (And also a couple of Water ones, which other than the sig seem to be about disengaging. Which seems appropriate.)


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

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                    • #11
                      I'm not saying the devs set out to design a pro-torture charm, just that they did design one. If y'all want to jump to the charm's defense, I don't need to respond to you.

                      aluminiumtrioxid The movement is a good point. I'm so used to literally every Solar in my party having Monkey Leap Technique that I completely overlooked that, but yes, definitely handy.

                      glamourweaver Interesting points on maintaining aura. I was going to suggest the defensive Archery charms, but now that I look at it they're all Essence 3+ (as are the Air dodge charms). Maybe there will be more Wood in Resistance? If Thrown doesn't pick up some defensive charms, air aura is definitely going to be hard to maintain.

                      As for knockback damage, I'd just like it to be explicit. I already have to extrapolate charm effects to make Flawless Handiwork Method useful. (Rules-as-written it charges you 6 motes to erase all your 10s.) Don't make me wonder whether I should be extrapolating.


                      Current project: Stranger Creations, unofficial settings and NPCs for Exalted.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Colin_Fredericks View Post
                        As for knockback damage, I'd just like it to be explicit. I already have to extrapolate charm effects to make Flawless Handiwork Method useful. (Rules-as-written it charges you 6 motes to erase all your 10s.) Don't make me wonder whether I should be extrapolating.
                        Right but it is explicit, there is no reason to think that getting moved a range band causes falling damage. Heaven thunder hammer both moves a character and is called out as inflicting falling damage explicitly. This is the same for Firmament shattering impact which explicitly calls out when falling damage is applied.

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                        • #13
                          I don't think they really need specify stuff as blindingly obvious as "if you pay motes to reroll successful dice you keep the successes".

                          They're not writing a computer program. It's a rule book for humans to read.
                          Last edited by Elfive; 04-14-2018, 03:54 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Calboon View Post

                            Right but it is explicit, there is no reason to think that getting moved a range band causes falling damage. Heaven thunder hammer both moves a character and is called out as inflicting falling damage explicitly. This is the same for Firmament shattering impact which explicitly calls out when falling damage is applied.

                            Unless your moved a range band up, and then fall.


                            I did a lot of homebrew over here. PEACH.

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                            • #15
                              Dragon-blooded can't grapple Legendary-sized creatures. Bummer. I might need to make a custom charm for that.
                              That doesn’t strike me as something DBs should be able to do (sans warstrider anyway). They need to use clever coordination and command forces, etc, taking on a behemoth. Wrestling a behemoth one on one is very Solar flavored to me (even a Lunar i’d assume would shift to compreable size to be able to do it).


                              Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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