Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

A Closer Look: Solars vs Dragonblooded

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • DrLoveMonkey
    started a topic A Closer Look: Solars vs Dragonblooded

    A Closer Look: Solars vs Dragonblooded

    So I've seen this kind of thing crop up in a few threads, there's even another thread about it but that's kind of drifted. I've got a lot to say anyway. Plus it's exam time and all my exams are over, so time to turn that hard analysis to Exalted! That means it's time for a closer look.

    I'd like to point out here that I love the DB charmset as previewed and I have very very few criticisms of it. I'm head over heels for most of it and this is not meant to bring it down.

    Most of what I've seen has concerned the idea of Dragonblooded being able to fight Solars, let's take a look at that shall we?

    Here in the spoiler is a close mechanical look at what lead me to my conclusion below



    Attack/defense

    Okay so the first thing that we might want to know is, how easily can a Solar hit a DB? The dice caps favour the Solar, 10 to 6, the good news is that the DB one is slightly easier to hit because attributes tend to be more valuable than specialties. The bad news is that's the only good news. Apart from their excellency DBs don't actually have many charms that make them harder to hit. Even then the few charms they get are often along the lines of "(Essence) 1s on the attack roll can reroll successes starting with 7s." which seems okay until you realize that the first melee charm for Solars rerolls 1s. The Solar also has a bunch of options like free full excellencies, big flurry attack charms and Rising Sun Slash to add bonus non-charm dice.

    Alright so let's check the other way around! Not so good here either, Same dice cap scenario, and DBs barely have any way to boost accuracy, often as little as rerolling (essense) non-1 failures. Whereas the Solar has cheap and easy penalty negators.

    Damage/Mitigation

    Damage? Well here the disparity is much larger. Solars have a plethora of ways to boost damage into the sky with things like Thunderbolt Attack Prana and Hungry Tiger Technique. What kinds of resistance charms might DBs have to counter this? Not much, they've got a 4 mote charm to add (Stamina) soak to a single attack, and a couple of other things further down the tree which aren't that impressive. Most of them are instant and/or very costly.

    Flip side for the DBs? Not good, the Solars have big scenelong charms that add a lot of soak, and other charms to do things like half withering damage. So they're going to struggle to get any initiative away from a really combat focused Solar, and even when they get it the damage they deal with decisives can be mitigated. On top of all that DBs have really few ways to actually boost their damage, almost none at all for withering OR decisive. They don't have a lot of multi-attack charms either that could help with this, and the ones they do have make 2-3 attacks tops.

    Higher Essence

    Things at least improve for the DBs with essence though, right? I'm afraid not. They do a little bit, but mostly the higher essence DB effects make things happen which are bigger, wider ranging, or with more targets, but not more damage or accuracy.



    Okay so if you actually read that, first of all thank you, second of all things are looking pretty bleak. TLDR; Solars have DBs beat in accuracy, damage, defense and soak/mitigation.

    Well it gets bleaker sadly, with one of the main schticks of DBs being that they tend to do better when they're already doing well. They have a big list of charms that can only be activated if you're already ahead in initiative, or have aimed for 2 turns, or have blocked multiple attacks in a row, or punish your opponent for racking up a big onslaught penalty. Against a Solar you probably won't have higher initiative, you won't have the luxury of sitting back and aiming, you won't defend against their superior attacks very often, and they often quite easily drop their penalties.


    What does this mean? It means that a combat focused Solar is a damn hard fight for a single DB! Or even a small group of them. "But Doctor Love Monkey" I hear you cry "I thought Solars weren't supposed to be impervious to DBs this time around.". Don't worry, they aren't. Let me give you a few Solar archetypes and show how they'd go. Spoilered again for space.


    The Beast*: We all know this guy, the guy who takes nothing but melee, dodge and resistance charms, always wears his heavy armor, never has less than 5 dex. This guy is a tough fight. At essence 1 he still stands a chance of beating an essence 5 DB, but it's not as bad as you think. His only hope is to burn them down with a quick series of combos before his mote pool runs dry, after that he's basically screwed. At higher essences he can start to put together combos that in a white room can wipe a whole party of Dragonblooded. If you're fighting him as a PC party of DBs do not let him whiteroom you. Be willing to take losses and wear him down. You're going to have to hit him with some tough stuff in order to make him spend motes though, so expect heavy losses. You're relying on lucky dicerolls of less than 50% chance to hit most of the time, and the reverse to being hit.

    The Well Rounded Fighter: He's a dawn, sure, but he's got hobbies. He's picked up some sail, some war, some lore and some medicine. He's got charms in all of them. He's got good stats but not perfect. He's got a basic setup of melee charms to get him through combats easily enough. This guy is actually scared of a high essence DB. Remember when I said a lot of DB charms rely on you getting ahead first? Well getting ahead on this guy isn't impossible, and once you do you can do some decent damage. Even at medium essence this style of character doesn't want to face a full Wyld Hunt. He won't have the combos needed to take them out quickly, and while his defenses are decent he can't afford to keep using Dipping Swallow + Excellency to defend against every attack. If this is the Dawn in your PC party, a powerful Wyld Hunt will still be a threat for sure, especially if he's not maxed his dex.

    The Ledger Jockey: This guy is not a Dawn. He's an Eclipse**. Which means he's got a target on his head. Literally. He's a bureaucracy supernal with maybe the essence 1-2 charms of a martial art that he picked up. This guy goes down hard to a high essence DB. This is really where DBs get dangerous, because you're likely going to crash him on the first turn, then your anima is going to burn him while you decisive him into oblivion. Even at higher essence he's going to need to use tricks to avoid Wyld Hunts because he doesn't have the huge melee/dodge/resistance suites to defend against the DB dogpile. Just make sure he doesn't have any friends like The Beast up there.



    Almost done I swear! This is all looking awful isn't it? It feels like the Solar charmset was almost designed to counter the DB one, with cheap, easy and hard counters to almost anything the terrestrials can muster. I mean if that's the case what's even the point? Can DBs do anything? You BET they can! They can strike weapons with the power of Earth to make them 1000 times heavier, they can use charms to fly across the battlefield in an instant and strike a foe, they can use presence to breathe fire and dodge to grab an opponents attack and hurl it at another enemy instead. It's SO COOL, it's just that the raw, pure power is low. You have to dodge the attack to redirect it, and that Earth weight one is a special gambit that you need to hit with, ect. It's not impossible, and it is helpful when it happens, but it's hard to pull off.

    So again, what's the point? The point is you're not always fighting Solar exalted, silly! This is where, in my opinion, DBs really shine. Fighting a Solar is a hard fought, frustrating slog, like a final boss fight. On the other hand fighting a pair of Hellboars is fantastic. For a Solar circle I wouldn't even ask them to roll, it'd be boring and pointless. For a DB sworn kinship on the other hand that's a fight! The boars can't ignore onslaught penalties, they don't have insane defense ratings or soak boosters or decisive damage negators. Plus if they stunt/willpower/environmental penalties they can actually hit a DB, whereas basically any Solar who's not intentionally gimped can raise their defense high enough to be 99% safe.

    Also, here the DB ability to deal more damage to things that they're already doing well against is an actual boon. Big monsters in exalted tend to not have the skill or dice caps of a Solar, but make up for it by big health pools and special abilities. Doing well against them in initiative doesn't mean you're going to win, but those punishing charms help to ensure you will.



    TLDR; So that's the light at the end of this tunnel. DBs don't have the raw power to match Solars for attack, defense, damage, soak, decisive mitigation, penalty negators or special tricks. They aren't so far behind though that Solars can't be beaten, it just takes luck, numbers and thinking outside the whiteroom. In exchange we get a splat that can meaningfully engage with most of the antagonists in the corebook with a veritable metric ton of charms that are really really cool and make for a dynamic and literally spectacular combat. Because who doesn't want to ride a self-made explosion to safety, or grapple a foe at long range with tendrils of water?



    *There is absolutely nothing wrong with this character type. It's perfectly fine to have a character who's whole motivation is being the greatest fighter ever. No criticisms here for doing that. At least until you do it every time for 5 campaigns.

    **Or Twilight or you know whatever...

  • BrilliantRain
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

    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.
    And that's why Ragara Myrrun is not to be trifled with.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ekorren
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Alpharius
    replied
    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!

    Leave a comment:


  • danelsan
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • BrilliantRain
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


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

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Alpharius
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Beans
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X