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3E Charm Benefit Perception and Mote Economy

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  • 3E Charm Benefit Perception and Mote Economy

    As someone introduced to the line in 2E, I have a hard time seeing 3E charms in general as anything more than underwhelming in a depressingly large number of cases. Being used to building 2E's paranoia paradigm in addition to achieving a feat of damage stacking (1000 dice of aggravated damage per attack in a natural flurry) that is retold as a legend in our extended gaming circle has given a very strong tint to the rose-colored glasses. So I would like to see how others who may not be as strongly slanted in their experience with the line see things and find out where my blind spots are for building and playing a well-built character.

    I had started with Solars, the dice trick charms being the greatest perceived speedbump (and I can't help but see them as anything but at this point) in mechanical development of characters. Not only were these charms that you may potentially not gain any benefit what so ever for activating (ie, not rolling any 9s at all with sensory acuity prana), but they were a drain on a very precious resource. This resource can basically equate to survival when the tension is high, so charms with a low perceived "return" would often be tossed out of consideration with an admitted measure of scorn as purchasing that charm meant you had to sacrifice a potential gain in other critical areas of your concept. Couple this with a comparison of how much some of these charms cost compared to excellencies (5 motes for sensory acuity prana for an average of 1 success on 10 dice, 2 if you spent another 10m for a 20 dice pool.)

    Now that I've already had my opinion of these double x charms and other dice trick charms tanked to a very low level as to only wanting to buy them when forced to for charm tree purposes. I look at the Dragon-Blooded set and I'm hard-pressed to find a non-excellency charm that costs less than 5m, with a duration longer than instant, or adds a benefit that can't be quantified as +1-2 success on average or +2 dice(with non-charm maybe) but only in a situation that might come up once per story. So I'll keep things brief by saying, I'm having a hard time wanting to spend a charm slot/xp on anything past an excellency cause it's not going to be as helpful as getting another excellency for a different ability and eat vast amounts of a very limited resource when used. So, other than excellencies, spells, evocations, and martial arts (which my character concept may not even include these things outside of excellencies) I have very little that motivates me to want to finish building a sample character.

    Yet, I've noticed very few people seem to have any issues with the charm sets presented while I am sitting here wondering if I want to bother trying to pick out charms I'd want at a standard starting level.

    So, what am I not seeing? What are charms you've read that got the imagination working for building a competent character? Right now I've walked into a store looking for chocolate chips and just see a bunch of raisins.

    PS. Sorry if my speaking pattern is rambly, really tired at the time of writing.

  • #2
    Well, I mean, the first thing I think is crucial is defining “competent character”. For me, a competent character is one who can accomplish objectives and fill rolls adequately within the context of the story in a way that is satisfying to me.

    When I built my Twilight Demon Hunter, I set out with the basic premise that he was a sorcerer who hunted demons. To that end I selected things that aided filling this concept.

    I took terrestrial circle and picked invulnerable skin on bronze as my control.

    Because I like the imagery of ripping apart/beating to a pulp a demon with my bare hands I picked brawl as my combat ability and because I watch too much Jojo’s I started working my way toward hammer on iron technique (Ferocious Jab, falling hammer strike, and thunder clap Rush attack).

    Because I wanted him to be hearty, i picked up durability of oak and a couple of other resistance charms.

    Because I wanted him to fill the roll of lore monkey, I picked one of the most overpowered starting charms in harmonious academic methodology

    And finally, as a demon hunter I wanted occult, so spirit detecting glance, spirit cutting attack, ghost eating technique etc.

    So he competently is a demon hunter. I find that the concept should drive charm selection and being competent is a relative term for different ply groups.
    Last edited by Saipjas; 04-29-2018, 03:34 AM.

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    • #3
      You can't look at charms in isolation like that.

      Sure, SAP is, on the face of it, one extra success per 10 dice on average for 5 motes. But first of all, it's scene long. The more rolls you make the better the value you get.

      Second, the very next charm in the ability gives you a mote back for every 9 you roll. Suddenly it's not 1 extra success for 5 motes, it's 1 extra for 4, or 2 extra for 3, and every time you roll you're gonna have paid less and less for it. And sure, you might not roll any nines on a roll, but you might roll 3. It's a game. Gamble a little.

      I mean, you said it yourself. You're looking past the cool powers trying to find the Most Optimised Build Evah and it's kneecapping your enjoyment of the game. That's especially gonna be a problem if you're looking at dragonblooded, They're not the strongest exalts out there, and their lower dice cap means they're gonna be reliant on dice tricks even more than solars are. Deebs do not churn out 50 billion successes in one go.

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      • #4
        I think the solar charms probably have been written with a lot of speedbumps involved because of supernals. Personally I found the 3e Solar charm trees quite boring and unexciting, especially since many charms are just "small dicetrick" instead of "do this amazing thing". Dice tricks are mechanically powerful.... but not very exciting. DBs do better, but dicetrick charms will allways crop up in this edition. They are more powerful than a first look implies (and good basis for comboing with other charms for example) but to me sadly very, very boring. Charm design was actually my biggest reservation against playing/running 3e after reading it.

        So long story short the dicetrick charms are very powerful in this edition, even though it may not seem that way. The system is a bit harder to evaluate than 2e was in general due to the mathematical interactions of double xs and reroll ys.


        My Mage 2e Homebrew

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Elfive View Post
          You can't look at charms in isolation like that.

          Sure, SAP is, on the face of it, one extra success per 10 dice on average for 5 motes. But first of all, it's scene long. The more rolls you make the better the value you get.
          My main concern here is the sheer cost of these charms in isolation, using a combination of charms will naturally generate a high cost for the output. SAP's scene long nature makes it justifiable sure, but I can honestly say I wouldn't have taken it on my eclipse had I not needed it to get the excellency. So when I look at Dragon-Blooded, I see very little I want to spend xp on other than excellencies before I can get to Essence 3... by spending 120xp... I don't see progression feeling rewarding, cause I'd just end up dumping into flat trait and merit dots when I run out of martial arts or evocations at my essence tier (that are relevant to the concept) over effects I find too costly to use in play given how the Dragon-Blooded have the smallest mote pools.

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          • #6
            Aredin how long exactly are you expecting combats to last?? If all you are looking at is whiteroom context and extrapolating out to 6-8 rounds sure, I can see where you are coming from. But this game is not whiteroom centric and doesn’t operate that way.

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            • #7
              Also you mention coming from a 2E background, on your assessments have you taken into account that in 3E all characters regain 5 motes per round?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Aredin View Post
                As someone introduced to the line in 2E, I have a hard time seeing 3E charms in general as anything more than underwhelming in a depressingly large number of cases. Being used to building 2E's paranoia paradigm in addition to achieving a feat of damage stacking (1000 dice of aggravated damage per attack in a natural flurry) that is retold as a legend in our extended gaming circle has given a very strong tint to the rose-colored glasses.
                The anecdotes we take away from our game tables are really important.
                There are groups where something similar was the moment where the Storyteller was left feeling that were no longer qualified to run Exalted but it sounds like yours took it in good humour. Its a similar story with dice tricks, their value on paper is secondary to their value that one time when they let you achieve something amazing or save you from failure.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sequal View Post
                  Also you mention coming from a 2E background, on your assessments have you taken into account that in 3E all characters regain 5 motes per round?
                  Yes, that's why the bulk of charms (mostly DBs here, but there are some Solar ones as well) costing 5m by themselves before excellencies or combos even come into the picture worries me greatly. Outside of combat, it's 5m per hour and we tend to do a lot of things outside of combat time. Much of my group is the type to hold back on actions to avoid the 5m threshold both for anima and recovery reasons. So when we're already pulling punches to worry about the long game, we're starving for usable powers that don't completely drain your ability to follow up when the next obstacle (or next turn, even) is encountered. Resource momentum is a large part of how we strategize so the splats will lose a lot of their luster if we rarely get passed the benefit of an excellency.

                  Originally posted by Saipjas View Post
                  Aredin how long exactly are you expecting combats to last?? If all you are looking at is whiteroom context and extrapolating out to 6-8 rounds sure, I can see where you are coming from. But this game is not whiteroom centric and doesn’t operate that way.
                  I'm not going to pretend that I have the mental competence to simulate various niche circumstances when skimming over charm trees to build out what if concepts. So I can't help but gravitate to white room stats in isolation when making on the fly judgment calls with an incomplete understanding of the whole native set. I do however weigh my anticipated frequency of use into whether or not I think it's worth adding to the character though. Suffice to say, all I can communicate are my subjective understandings of usefulness through a very flawed lens. I would very much love to be shown what I am overlooking and not considering. It's just that I am working from a place where I'm hyper-aware of mote charges and opportunity cost.

                  Originally posted by Bastet View Post
                  The anecdotes we take away from our game tables are really important.
                  There are groups where something similar was the moment where the Storyteller was left feeling that were no longer qualified to run Exalted but it sounds like yours took it in good humour. Its a similar story with dice tricks, their value on paper is secondary to their value that one time when they let you achieve something amazing or save you from failure.
                  And that's why I'm really worried when my instinct is telling me charms are too expensive to risk motes on. Those moments will be far fewer between, and the player is liable to be left feeling down when they are shown that they should have done declared something else before the roll.

                  As for that story itself... the GM was leading up to Return of the Scarlet Empress, all the Sidereals had been murdered, and the last charm/spell had been learned that was necessary for our plan that we had presented from the beginning of the campaign, though it's shenanigans had been upgraded with a recent discovery. We were intending to use Solar Circle Sorcery to cast Sanctuary on the Imperial Manse and swipe the sword of creation in so doing. By using the Salinan school enhancement charm, this ritual was doable at range so long as we used arcane link focuses. One of which was the soul of an architect trapped in the prison realm of a Hekatonkhire. So we used unity of the closed fist with a near master Solar Hero Martial Artist, a Solar Melee Fighter, a Sidereal, a Solar Investigator, and Solar Crafter.

                  The Combo was Solar Hero Supremacy (Str which was now like 9 * Essence Damage at e6), Perfected Kata Bracers, One Weapon Two Blows and Hungry Tiger Technique (because Martial Ready now applied) on a immobile living wall in a prison realm made up of a creature of darkness, So it still survived a three attack warning shot, surrendered, and let us out with our prize.

                  Considering that I worked my plans and builds by the GM every step of the way, we had an enjoyable trip. In hindsight, had I not done so, it could have created some hard feelings.
                  Last edited by Aredin; 04-29-2018, 03:42 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Aredin I only have anecdata from my actual play experience so take it for what you will and in this edition only solars at that. But I think in the 15ish-20ish combats we’ve had in my game, one has lasted more than 5 rounds.

                    In most cases, more usage matter significantly less in 3rd than initiative. Specifically the lack of perfects means that coordinating targets matters a lot more than more efficiency. In actual play, the terrain of combat, events surrounding it, and other factors play a sufficient role that more efficiency is less of a concern than I think you perceive it. ESPECIALLY because more efficiency was so paramount in 2E.

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                    • #11
                      I don't think it's fair to label the dice-tricks are speed bumps, because they're useful even if boring. You will be using your low Essence dice-tricks even at high Essence, because those dice-tricks are useful. That's part of the intent of the design: to keep low Essence Charms useful even at high Essence.

                      IME with 3e, even by Essence 3 and 4, you use Essence 1- 2 Charms most frequently. They're the bread and butter Charms for throwing at normal rolls. Essence 3+ even for Solars tend to be specialized situation Charms that are set up by lower Charms, or when you really need to do X.

                      An important thing here, is the 3e isn't designed for Charms to be used in isolation. That's why the Combo rules were dumped. You're supposed to find the synergies in multiple Charms being used together. That's 3e's metagame vs. developing the best paranoia combo and insane death attacks: figuring out three of four Charms that let you do more with the sum than the parts.

                      There are certainly trees in 3e that do better and worse than others, but the design mentality you need to analyze the Charms in, is that everyone is supposed to be comboing Charms all the time.

                      Also, 3e makes "don't let your anima flare," a pretty serious choice to make. It's hard to do without restricting yourself. That's pretty much on purpose. It helps drive big conflicts in the game because you can't run around being subtle without... being subtle (including in your Charm use). It's an actual meaningful choice to make: whip out the big guns and flare, or stick with the smaller boosts and stay subtle. If you can get too much done for less than 5m... it ruins that as a meaningful choice.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Saipjas View Post
                        Aredin I only have anecdata from my actual play experience so take it for what you will and in this edition only solars at that. But I think in the 15ish-20ish combats we’ve had in my game, one has lasted more than 5 rounds.

                        In most cases, more usage matter significantly less in 3rd than initiative. Specifically the lack of perfects means that coordinating targets matters a lot more than more efficiency. In actual play, the terrain of combat, events surrounding it, and other factors play a sufficient role that more efficiency is less of a concern than I think you perceive it. ESPECIALLY because more efficiency was so paramount in 2E.
                        Depending on the surrounding context, that sounds about right to me. I reckon I'm still in a Anathema splat mindset, that if I go too far in a given scene, the following one I will need to be ready to deal with a non-insignificant measure of fallout as a matter of GM's personal style and maintaining dramatic tension. I've also had the rather unpleasant experience of being pressured to go all out by another player, then being killed instantly from full health by a random figure that came out of a dark corner after spending my last resources. Note: this was in a printed scenario for a different system/setting, but I wanted to note it since it has changed the way I make choices.

                        EDSo what type of actions/scenarios would you suggest I look at then (such as prioritize cover/position alter terrain etc.)? With the Solar splat, leveraging penalties hasn't been as much of a factor in my experience given how many negators there are. The heavy initiative costs and length of study required has made me wary of using gambits much as initiative itself is presented as such a vital resource, more so with Dragon-Blooded as they depend on achieving and maintaining a lead just to use certain things. In general, I tend to want to avoid over complicating game flow since our group plays a very wide breadth of systems and settings making us prone to losing large swaths of time to confusion. Other than that, obviously we tend to want to focus targets till they crash depending on what we know of their threat capacity.

                        EDIT: Heavy Arms given that at max a starting Solar has 46 motes to work with. Combat lasts about 3 rounds average, so let's say about 60 mote potential roughly. Factor in dishing out an attack and defending each round if you're lucky you won't need to need to cover multiple defenses. We were playing in Champoor, flaring at all was a huge issue as you started putting the whole circle (and our support structure) at risk of the Hunt. If your non-excellency charms are noticeably less efficient than an excellency but are still centered around increasing roll output, how often are you going to risk using them instead of staying lowkey and just using the excellency? Not often at our table, is my experience. The only charms we tended to use were excellencies, and things that either eliminated the need for rolls or enabled the action in the first place. Roll enhancers saw very little use unless we had zero risk of witnesses as we had 9 motes we could use before we risked discovery, running dry, or heaven forbid, both. As a solar, all 9 of those motes got used for excellencies unless you had a real whopper to throw down.
                        Last edited by Aredin; 04-29-2018, 05:08 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Aredin the first items I would look at are the charms uniform, dual, withering only, decisive only etc. Each of these greatly affects how they will work in various situations. Secondly, and this is the hardest thing to fully grasp and I still struggle with, is that your more pool matters less than your current initiative count relative to others AND the nature of your opponent. The relative small number of perfect or quasi perfect defenses, and their inability to work multiple times, matters. Keep in mind that an initiative of around 14 is all that is necessary to reasonably decisive 1 shot a person w/o ox bodies assuming the attack hits. The game ime revolves less about the husbanding of motes and more on the husbanding and expenditure of init.

                          So looking at how combat charms either boost a decisive to ensure it is a kill, or boost withering to gain init is important. This does not even take into account how gambits utilize init tmfor various combat altering effects such as disarm, debilitate, smashing, etc. Knocking a character prone is a powerful effect this edition and grapple imo can be even more stupidly powerful than it was in 2E.

                          All this is to say combat has much different considerations that the old mote tap/perfect paradigms of 2E, so you need to approach these dice tricks from examining how they benifit specific effects you are trying to do.

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                          • #14
                            I haven’t had a chance to play with the new DB rules, but STing a couple dynast antagonists put me in the position of wishing I COULD spend five notes at a time. QCs commonly have only 4-more excellencies, and I couldn’t always get their anima flared to Bonfire before the solars trounced them. Remember, flaring is GOOD for Terrestrials, unless you’re using the good china.

                            And I’d say that the excellency covers most basic combat, especially for non-Dawns. But when the Dawn has to hit the Behemoth hard before it can summon reinforcements or crush the Day Caste before she can sneak away, then you’ll love the ability to pile on “marginal” charms. Huge dice pools are only half of how ludicrous Solars are in this edition, but the scale of “ludicrous” is totally, completely different from what I’ve read of 2e.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Saipjas View Post
                              Aredin the first items I would look at are the charms uniform, dual, withering only, decisive only etc. Each of these greatly affects how they will work in various situations. Secondly, and this is the hardest thing to fully grasp and I still struggle with, is that your more pool matters less than your current initiative count relative to others AND the nature of your opponent. The relative small number of perfect or quasi perfect defenses, and their inability to work multiple times, matters. Keep in mind that an initiative of around 14 is all that is necessary to reasonably decisive 1 shot a person w/o ox bodies assuming the attack hits. The game ime revolves less about the husbanding of motes and more on the husbanding and expenditure of init.

                              So looking at how combat charms either boost a decisive to ensure it is a kill, or boost withering to gain init is important. This does not even take into account how gambits utilize init tmfor various combat altering effects such as disarm, debilitate, smashing, etc. Knocking a character prone is a powerful effect this edition and grapple imo can be even more stupidly powerful than it was in 2E.

                              All this is to say combat has much different considerations that the old mote tap/perfect paradigms of 2E, so you need to approach these dice tricks from examining how they benifit specific effects you are trying to do.
                              For combat this makes total sense. I am still a little iffy on the out of combat charms and actions given the really slow regenerative pace here and potential fallout of anima flares. Though I s'pose anima fluctuations in Dragon-Blooded are less scene shitting than celestial ones up until you invoke flux damage, Perhaps I should look into the social reactions to animas for Dragon-Blooded as my gameplay experience has had very few active Dragon-Blooded outside of combat.

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