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A Closer Look: Solars vs Dragonblooded

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  • As I understand it, you need to use a charm on your turn to enter aura, not someone else's turn. Or similar equivalent outside of combat.

    So using a simple charm before combat should be fine, but I think sensing an ambush probably counts as the other guy's turn.

    Not sure though. It's a bit fiddly, tbh.
    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 05-10-2018, 08:52 AM.


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    • Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
      Dragonblooded don't have that, but the thing is a Solar is also restricted to essence 1 charms everywhere else. We already talked about how that makes a huge difference with evocations, but how about martial arts too, eh? Yeah! No non-MA-supernal Solar is going to get more than essence 1 charms in their MA, and for a lot of styles, all the Immaculate ones included, that means no form charm until they hit essence 2. That's not the only thing though, I mean just for Wood Dragon (the first style I checked) out of the first 6 charms 2 are essence 1 and the rest are essence 4.
      The Styles whose Forms are E1, by the way, are Snake, Tiger, White Reaper, Ebon Shadow, Nightingale, Black Claw, Steel Devil, Golden Janissary, Mantis, and White Veil. Not to counter your point, but there are at least a decent number of Styles who let you get the Form at E1.
      Sadly, my favorite (Dreaming Pearl Courtesan) is not one of those.


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      • Originally posted by Beans View Post
        The Styles whose Forms are E1, by the way, are Snake, Tiger, White Reaper, Ebon Shadow, Nightingale, Black Claw, Steel Devil, Golden Janissary, Mantis, and White Veil. Not to counter your point, but there are at least a decent number of Styles who let you get the Form at E1.
        Sadly, my favorite (Dreaming Pearl Courtesan) is not one of those.
        Tell me about it, I had one of my players who was an eclipse take Crane style off the hop, it’s got an essence 2 form as well, and man that style REALLY wants it’s form. Before you get it you don’t feel very much like a crane stylist at all.

        As to the ambush I definitely wouldn’t give it to you if you enhanced your join battle with only one aspect, but I think maybe the ambush stealth roll is supposed to happen before join battle? Maybe? I dunno. Come to think of it using only air aspected charms to enhance your stealth roll might also work for that.

        It’s not something you should feel is required anyway, from what I’ve seen most of the aura charms are decisive anyway so you should have time to get that up before you need it, unless you ARE trying to assassinate somebody.

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        • Even saddled with the Terrestrial keyword, in some ways MA can be more fun with DBs both because of the Essence thing and because Dynasts, at least, can comfortably dump seven or eight Merit dots into Martial Artist and an Artifact weapon or armor (even that sweet, sweet, pricey Silk Armor); a Solar who's not super-devoted to doing MA might worry about that cost, but even a Dynast who's not going whole-hog for Martial Arts can happily pull out Five-Dragon Fliff Maneuver and have enough to get lots of other things.

          Admittedly, on the other hand, having to buy their Excellencies does matter and the DB must consider their investment cost.
          Last edited by Beans; 05-10-2018, 10:39 AM.


          Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

          Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

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          • Hey guys sorry for the late update, school is picking up again. Tomorrow I’m going to run through a few test combats with chargen DBs against various things, so I can add that to the next analysis. Any suggestions on reports you’d like to see? I’ve got four players, one of each aspect except earth, using each of their in aspect combat abilities.

            I’m going to try and run a typical PC mix, so everyone has a bit of combat but not everyone is all 5s in everything.

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            • Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
              Any suggestions on reports you’d like to see?
              How well they stack up against the creatures in the beastiary which aren't just spirits and undead.

              I saw someone in some thread (this one?) comment that a lot of the monsters that Solars plain blow by the instant they have a Dawn with a combat suite in their circle are actually pretty decent challenges for Dynasts. I'm starting a game focused on nation building in a conquered region after a Wyld Hunt threw down the local Anathema pretender to the title Prince of the Earth so I figure I might be able to get some mileage out of the wild and untamed regions of the area. Can a regional hellboar problem risking the ruination of the harvest be an actual driving challenge, etc?

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              • Originally posted by Alpharius View Post

                How well they stack up against the creatures in the beastiary which aren't just spirits and undead.

                I saw someone in some thread (this one?) comment that a lot of the monsters that Solars plain blow by the instant they have a Dawn with a combat suite in their circle are actually pretty decent challenges for Dynasts. I'm starting a game focused on nation building in a conquered region after a Wyld Hunt threw down the local Anathema pretender to the title Prince of the Earth so I figure I might be able to get some mileage out of the wild and untamed regions of the area. Can a regional hellboar problem risking the ruination of the harvest be an actual driving challenge, etc?
                I was actually thinking the same thinng. I’m not super optimistic about the hellboar but claw striders maybe. I might even see how they face against the tyrant lizard.

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                • If one hellboar isn't enough, perhaps a whole herd! Giving them mass combat stats isn't insane, right?

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                  • A group of mortals with Bows can take down a charging Hellboar if it starts at long rane. Though I suppose my players might have gotten lucky or we might have not done a few things correctly.


                    ....

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                    • Originally posted by Alpharius View Post
                      If one hellboar isn't enough, perhaps a whole herd! Giving them mass combat stats isn't insane, right?
                      I think the problem there is a fluff one. Hell boars I don’t think are supposed to travel in herds, but maybe like as a fluke stampede?

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                      • Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                        I think the problem there is a fluff one. Hell boars I don’t think are supposed to travel in herds, but maybe like as a fluke stampede?
                        A sorcerer did it. Bonus points if they did by way of a curse that turned the inhabitants of the Satrapy into hellboars, and now the DBs have to subdue the boars while killing as little of them as possible, then deal with the sorcerer.


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                        • Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                          I think the problem there is a fluff one. Hell boars I don’t think are supposed to travel in herds, but maybe like as a fluke stampede?
                          Vile tricks by the Lunar Anathema seeking to dear down what will one day be a prosperous, devout, and well armed satrapy!

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                          • Originally posted by danelsan View Post

                            A sorcerer did it. Bonus points if they did by way of a curse that turned the inhabitants of the Satrapy into hellboars, and now the DBs have to subdue the boars while killing as little of them as possible, then deal with the sorcerer.
                            Originally posted by Alpharius View Post
                            Vile tricks by the Lunar Anathema seeking to dear down what will one day be a prosperous, devout, and well armed satrapy!
                            Both good ideas! Unfortunately we only had time for one combat. I'll talk about it after giving a quick word to the rest of the chargen stuff.

                            Intimacies

                            This is pretty short. There's only two things here that you might want to consider. The first is that DBs tend to be a part of something bigger than themselves, Prasad, Lookshy the Dynasty, ect. That means you'll very likely have some kind of intimacy or intimacies relating to that. DBs also have that kind of passionate bent to them so I'd consider including some things you are passionate about. Maybe some passionate feeling you have about a big organization you're a part of or related to.

                            On the other hand it's your character, so really this can be anything.

                            Bonus Points

                            Bonus points are just sort of a micro version of what's important. Abilities more than attributes usually, since it affects your dicecaps. Specialties are also something you might want to invest in. You get more than Solars but probably not as many as you want at base. You also don't get free excellencies so maybe consider purchasing more basic charms. I think my favourite thing is just to double down on merits though, just start with like 25. This is another thing that you might consider since you're a DB and likely part of a larger whole, it almost requires an explanation as to why you don't have backing/influence/contacts than why you do.

                            So yeah, that's it for chargen. Overall a very different experience, and I would know because I just made 3 in a row yesterday so that my group could do a playtest combat before a double session of DnD.

                            Finishing Touches

                            Not much here to say except the essence pool. Considering your DB will probably have access to artifacts, and those artifacts will almost definitely be worth having, your pools are going to be a little tight. Like 13 personal, 19 peripheral, around there. With your 6 mote maximum excellency this won't run out quite as fast as a Solar with the same pool, but you're definitely going to have to watch it fairly closely. Luckily you also won't have quite the same power to combo a million expensive charms together, so that should help you last too. Either way though, because you lack the ability to just end a combat with one player in one fell swing, and everyone is going to want to contribute, you're probably going to want to pick and choose where you go all out and take advantage of that mote regen.

                            Test Combat

                            Character Summaries


                            I made up 3 DBs, water, wood, and fire aspect using each of their combat abilities. My one player took the initiative and actually made up his own thrown air aspect, so kudos to him. I made characters that had about 5-7 combat charms, pretty much 5 in all their combat abilities, but not so combat optimized as to all have 5 dex or anything. Basically the kind of characters you might see in an actual game, but perhaps slanted a bit towards fighting. I also gave everyone artifact weapons and light/medium armor, except brawl guy, he didn't get a weapon.

                            The way I figured it, having around 6 combat charms was either representative of a decently balanced fighter at chargen, or an experienced DB who's focused more on something else.

                            The Combat

                            We hadn't played Exalted in a while, and only 1 of my three players had even glanced at the DB book before yesterday. I did my best to make it fast to catch up on, like by printing out sheets with everyone's charms and effects on them, but starting cold like that is always going to be hard.

                            So we started things off super simply, 4 DBs versus 5 claw striders, they got jumped, but not ambushed, at short range and in clear weather and all that. Basically a white room. The DBs started off by charging the fire and water aspect into combat while the air and wood stood back to rain down supporting fire. In the close range the two DBs burned motes hard on attack and defense, trading blows with the claw strider pack but generally ending up on top.

                            The brawl charms effectively made up for the water aspect's lack of base damage, and the fire aspect actually built up to a totally free excellency by the end of the fight, although he took a few solid hits right at the start. None of my players ever got crashed, but they got lucky too, launching a decisive was a real serious risk, especially with the initiative reversal possibilities. Because of that there was actually a pretty decent struggle, not every decisive was a kill shot, and they actually worked to try and disable enemies if they could, rather than just annihilate them outright. The anima flux helped out too, after crashing it sent a few striders down some wound penalties.

                            At the end of the fight the two melee fighters were totally tapped, the ranged guys had a good bit of their motes left, and all the striders were taken care of. I definitely feel like this is more my speed for Exalted. I also didn't feel like my players were holding back at all or anything like that, they were fighting smart, and actually having discussions if it would be worth it to attempt a decisive attack and reset or wait for another round.

                            All told the combat lasted about 50 minutes real time and about 4 rounds game time.

                            More Powerful PCs/Bigger Threats

                            From the way things looked, this kind of thing wasn't super likely to change until essence up, at least. Oh for sure the players will get more powerful, they'll get more options on what to do, and a few new things to combo together, but they won't explode past a lot of threats the way Solars do. Certainly not to the point where 4/5 of the party is not required for 90% of combats.

                            It seems to me that because of the way DBs operate when they take on really big threats like Octavian they're going to have to do some manipulation of the battlefield a bit. Maybe they're going to bring a battlegroup, or summon a bound elemental for aid, or possibly just really step their game up. I get the feeling that a circle of immaculate monks with all their style charms up to essence 2 or 3 would be able to do it with effort, but the IMAs are good and good at killing spirits in particular.

                            Verdict

                            If those claw striders had a DB riding the alpha, or were just one scene in a larger event, I can definitely see this being a more tense scenario. As it was it makes for a good prelude combat, it's got some back and forth to keep it interesting without any single player just biffing their way through it in one action, but not so hard to make this feel like a climax. It also really required everyone, if there were only 3 players, or if they had gotten ambushed and in tighter range things might have gone differently. This is not my experience with Solars at all.

                            So yeah, anyway, the test combat went almost exactly as I predicted, which is pretty well. I'm going to need to run a few more, and probably an actual campaign before I lay down the final verdict, but most of my group agreed. This charmset has a more reasonable strength, with less bloat, and flows faster. Something I'll focus on in the next test combat is DB archery, which has a bent for which is aiming that one of my players is concerned about. My initial thought is that it will be worth alternating aiming and shooting for high defense enemies, or enemies you really want to stay away from, but otherwise maybe not worth. The artifacts also help for sure.


                            Conclusion

                            Well that was a long journey. I might add more as I do more test combats or maybe run my first campaign, but I'm not sure I have much more to say now. Well, except good job developers. Third edition was a solid improvement on second edition, and this definitely looks like it will be my favourite way to play it. My players agree as well, we stopped playing Exalted for a while and swapped to a 1-20 DnD megacampaign, but this will definitely bring us back after it's done. DBs have always been up there for my favourite type of exalted and this does not disappoint at all.

                            It's definitely a different experience than playing Solars, and there's some stories that Solars just tell better, but I think we'll find that playing DBs can be even more rewarding and engaging.

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                            • A bit of a digress perhaps:

                              When I started my Solar game after the corebook was released, the first thing I did was to house rule away the need for the Martial Arts Merit. I felt it was too expensive, it wasn't fun to have, and the Martial Arts Charms weren't powerful enough to merit that kind of expense. Every Solar martial artist since has been allowed to ignore the Merit.

                              The first thing I did now when starting up a DB game was to reinstate the Merit as intended with the canon rules. Recognizing the need for that Merit became apparent when comparing Martial Art Charms with DB Charms. I'll probably still ignore it for Solars, though.


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                              • Originally posted by Ekorren View Post
                                A bit of a digress perhaps:

                                When I started my Solar game after the corebook was released, the first thing I did was to house rule away the need for the Martial Arts Merit. I felt it was too expensive, it wasn't fun to have, and the Martial Arts Charms weren't powerful enough to merit that kind of expense. Every Solar martial artist since has been allowed to ignore the Merit.

                                The first thing I did now when starting up a DB game was to reinstate the Merit as intended with the canon rules. Recognizing the need for that Merit became apparent when comparing Martial Art Charms with DB Charms. I'll probably still ignore it for Solars, though.
                                Yeah that makes sense. Particularly with the immaculate styles. It’s not like they’re Solar tier or anything, but they’re straining against the top end of DB tier and punching even above that in some instances. Particularly how they cover for eachother in capability. I know it’d be an insane drain on chargen resources but making a character with 5s in every immaculate style and as many essence 1-2 charms as you could get out of it would be bonkers. You’d have very little ability to do anything but fight, but man could you fight.

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