Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

On What Fire Has Wrought

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

  • On What Fire Has Wrought

    I said I wouldn't make this thread, but people seem to be interested, so...

    Calboon, Isator Levi, Sunder the Gold, and PneumaPilot, you all expressed specific interest, so I'm tagging you.

    Preface and Background
    I said, in a different thread, that Dragon-Blood: What Fire Has Wrought was a "huge disappointment" to me. With this post, I'm going to try to explain why.

    Firstly: at the time of the Kickstarter, I wasn't particularly focused on Exalted. My attention was elsewhere, and I figured my budget could do without investing into a Kickstarter. Then, I started hearing positive buzz about the first previews, and... well, it was warranted.

    When I say that I regard WFHW as a disappointment, I do not mean the first four chapters of the manuscript. They are nothing but engaging, and they drew me back in and got me quite excited to play a Dragon-Blood again1. I was, in a word, hyped.

    Unfortunately, with the release of the third preview, that hype was dashed. The Charmset was – is – not to my tastes, in ways I can only call "frustrating."

    1: Before the Kickstarter, I had been playing using a homebrew set of DB mechanics known as A Clutch of Dragons.

    Issue 1: Purchased Excellencies
    I was aware that DBs would have purchased Excellencies going in, and I actually supported the decision. Having been running a Solar game for some time, I'd started to get frustrated with the ease that a Solar can drive their dice pools to overcome challenges, particularly within their area of focus. However, the Excellencies of WFHW brought back what might be my least favourite quirk of the purchased Excellencies of previous editions, one I had hoped and assumed would never return: Excellency prerequisites.

    Excellencies acting as prereqs for other Charms is the bane of my character creation process. They're mostly a speedbump within a character's main area of focus – which isn't great, but I can live with it – but once you start branching out, they rapidly deplete chargen resources, narrowing your options. For me in particular, who likes to dip into Abilities outside my intended area of focus to round out my characters, this resource drain is particularly pronounced.

    Now, the Excellencies of WFHW pull double duty as baseline dice tricks, but a lot of them aren't enough to make up for the cost. Some are good – I'm partial to Become the Hammer – but too many have effects along the lines of ignoring penalties from a narrow band of sources, or worse, a single point of penalty. On top of this, bar Resistance, every Ability requires you to purchase the Excellency to access most or all other Charms.

    Issue 2: Charm Power and Utility
    WFHW Charms have a tendency to be, well, weak. Sometimes in raw numbers, which is to be expected, but often also in when you can actually apply them. The Occult set is good for illustrating this, since it's readily comparable with its Solar counterpart.

    For example, let's compare Spirit-Detecting Glance to Spirit-Detecting Mirror Technique.
    The former costs 3m, and the latter 4m – not a real issue, in isolation.
    SDG can be used at any time, while SDMT requires you to touch a reflective surface – a limitation, but a flavourful one, giving the Charm a distinct feel from the Solar equivalent.
    SDG carries no penalty, while SDMT leaves you with -1 penalty on your attack roll – again, harmless in isolation, but...
    Together, these qualities add up to a Charm that is numerically weaker, more limited, and more expensive than its Solar counterpart. I can't help but find that excessive.

    Now, while that particular combination of issues shows up more than a few times in the set, it's not really fair to constantly compare it to the Solar one. Even so, too many Charms have riders or limitations that just don't sit right with me – Graceful Dryad Dance is useless if your game is set in Chiaroscuro or on the high seas, for example while Stone Carving Fingers Form only works with stone and is a prerequisite for 7/17 Craft Charms, with Shaping Hand Style to mitigate the artificial problem it creates.

    Issue 3: Effect Distribution
    This isn't a major one, but I should get it out of the way.

    In my opinion, the WFHW sets relies too much on the cool factor of the Signature Charms and Essence 3+ effects, and leaves the chargen Charms feeling rather... bland, in places? I would've wanted more flashy effects at Essence 1 and 2, I suppose.

    Issue 4: Aura and the Elemental Keywords
    This, on the other hand, is a major issue for me.

    The manuscript sells Aura really well, presenting it as a strength of the Dragon-Blooded, and a flashy visual to boot, but I can't help but see it as one thing: overhead.
    Overhead, on top of the motes, Willpower, Initiative, and Charm resets I'm already keeping track of.
    Overhead that is singularly concerned with limiting my options at any given time and cutting off what seem like cool synergies.

    This is compounded by a tendency for Aura-dependent Charms to be really weak outside of it and, perhaps more importantly, the way the Charm trees veer between different elements, leaving you with things like the Melee capstonse requiring Aura states that most of the Melee set can't provide.

    Positives
    With all my complaints, though, I have to say that when the set is good, it's good. I'm partial to Imago-Hatching Realization, Blazing Hoard of Hesiesh, Smoke Ascends to Heaven...

    A number of Charms, actually, even if my issues with the Charmset as a whole drags them down.

    Martial Arts, Sorcery, and Evocations
    The martial arts and sorcery in the book were lacking something, too, though I can't rightly say I dislike them. They just... lack something that the corebook examples have, and I can't quite put my finger on what.

    The Evocations, on the other hand, are the mechanical standouts of the manuscript. They don't feel quite as flashy and character-defining, in general, as the examples in Arms of the Chosen, but I like all of them. Perdurant Vault is a particular favourite.

    In Summary
    The What Fire Has Wrought manuscript got me excited about playing Dragon-Blooded, but left me with tools to do so that I simply don't enjoy. It's disappointing, and it's honestly a shame.

  • #2
    That sounds reasonable.

    I have one, small point of contention:
    Originally posted by The MG
    leaving you with things like the Melee capstonse requiring Aura states that most of the Melee set can't provide


    When I hear points such as this, I get an impression that it's approaching Aura as though it's something that needs to be built up consistently.

    And that might just be projection on my part; I need to constantly remind myself that Aura is a simply binary state, activated by the use of so much as a single Charm.

    However, with that consideration, it does feel to me like the necessity of setting up an Aura is not quite as weighty.


    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
    Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for writing this out,

      My experience is broadly aligned with what you layed out, ie the fluff is great but the mechanics are lacking.

      The big one for me though is in the two times I have tried to run a 3e db game, and what killed it both times, was the aura mechanic. exalted asks a lot of the players in regards to bookkeeping with the payout of that bookkeeping being a really cool and powerful effect.

      With dragon blooded though the pay out is not only worse, ie a lesser effect than what solar gets but requires even more bookeeping, that slowed the game down and killed the interest in the game fast.

      The buying of excellencies was another one that I was surprised of how detrimental it ended up being. In Chargen no one really cared that much but in the session to session buying of charms having that roadblock of having to spend a charm purchase just on a excellency and a dice trick really sucked.


      Comment


      • #4
        Calboon At character creation, which Aura effects are you trying to make sure you pull off? I tried to make a Solar killer just now, and I literally ran into no effects that required Aura in order to work.

        I might be misunderstanding, though. I’d love to see an example.


        Host of The Deliberative Podcast
        Owner/Admin of DeepWyld.com
        Original Creator of the complete nWoD conversion of Fantasy Grounds 2

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by PneumaPilot View Post
          Calboon At character creation, which Aura effects are you trying to make sure you pull off? I tried to make a Solar killer just now, and I literally ran into no effects that required Aura in order to work.

          I might be misunderstanding, though. I’d love to see an example.
          There where no big effects or killer combos to be honest. It was more that I think my group was already at their "max" so to speak as far as bookkeeping was concerned without me noticing. And while losing the aura buffs where not that big of a deal it still started to annoy them.

          It came to a head when our archer was using Sky Calming draw in air aura to duel a cataphract at range. He got attacked by a homebrewed lion monster I made and he used Hopping firecracker evasion to get on top of a nearby roof. Which knocked him out of air aura and made him unable to attack the cataphract on his next turn.

          There was also another fuck up involving demon crushing wolf bite that ended up giving a hobgoblin battle group another turn but I can't remember what charm was used to knock the player out of wood aura.
          Last edited by Calboon; 07-17-2018, 09:36 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hmm, the Auras seem to be a mechanic that rewards creative combo play between Abilities that aren’t already automatically suited to the Aspect being utilized. Designing a Fire Aspect with a lot of synergistic Melee and Athletic Charms didn’t lead me to even one Aura situation, even though the character will stay in Fire Aura pretty much permanently. So it seems to benefit those who can cross into out-of-Aspect Abilities whole maintaining the theme.


            Host of The Deliberative Podcast
            Owner/Admin of DeepWyld.com
            Original Creator of the complete nWoD conversion of Fantasy Grounds 2

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PneumaPilot View Post
              Hmm, the Auras seem to be a mechanic that rewards creative combo play between Abilities that aren’t already automatically suited to the Aspect being utilized. Designing a Fire Aspect with a lot of synergistic Melee and Athletic Charms didn’t lead me to even one Aura situation, even though the character will stay in Fire Aura pretty much permanently. So it seems to benefit those who can cross into out-of-Aspect Abilities whole maintaining the theme.
              They do but they also kind of do suffer a drawback. One expects every charm they purchase to be useful but aura kind of screws that. The charms should have been ordered by aura due to it's importance.

              Comment


              • #8
                I actually like the way that some particularly strong synergies are not possible as a result of incompatible elements, because I think that it's both an effective way of putting in some individually strong Charms and preventing them from disrupting the place of the Dragon Blooded in the rankings, and that it emphasizes the fact that they benefit more from the coordinated group than the grand individual.


                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

                Comment


                • #9
                  On the other hand, taking Melee for example, it's incredibly frustrating that you need an Aura that you can't produce with the ability at all in order to use what is clearly its best Signature Charm.

                  (Okay, technically, you can produce Water Aura... if you have access to a large body of water and spend an action on doing so, or an opponent attacks you during your own turn, or you pick up a once-per-scene E3 Melee Charm which has another E3 prerequisite which is explicitly incompatible with the Aura state you want to reach, rendering it largely a speedbump for your purposes.)


                  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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I haven't actually played with the DB charms yet, but power-level wise they seem fine; they are honestly, supposed to be the weakest.

                    However, my friend runs a DB game, and he said only two of the players do stuff with Aura, the others find it too awkward so they just don't use Aura-dependent charms. Which are often the coolest or most powerful, so it's kind of a pity.


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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                      That sounds reasonable.

                      I have one, small point of contention:


                      When I hear points such as this, I get an impression that it's approaching Aura as though it's something that needs to be built up consistently.

                      And that might just be projection on my part; I need to constantly remind myself that Aura is a simply binary state, activated by the use of so much as a single Charm.

                      However, with that consideration, it does feel to me like the necessity of setting up an Aura is not quite as weighty.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/LEFT]
                      One single charm on your turn; defensive charms are no good (unless someone attacks you on your turn).

                      Anyway, by melee they're referring (I assume) to the fact that near the end of the Melee tree, there's a number of really powerful charms that require water-aura, but there's no way to get Water aura using melee. You need to either hit people with brawl then switch to melee the following turn, or play a water aspect, get yourself into fire aura, then go iconic so it switches into fire aura. And if you expend your aura, you'll have to do it again.
                      For a player who's interested in these kind of mechanical complications and combos, it can be quite rewarding, but it's a bit complex for some players.


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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post

                        One single charm on your turn; defensive charms are no good (unless someone attacks you on your turn).
                        Note that Anima Powers also qualify - if you use nothing but balanced Charms otherwise, you can trivially access your appropriate Aura for a 1m expenditure to stunt with your element, or know where your hearthmates are or something.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ah, I missed that. Doesn't help you enter other elements' auras, but it does make playing a water-aura swordsman much more viable.


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

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Are there copoes out already? I never got a notice about one

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yes, and outside of your aspect element, there's plenty of charms of an element you might be able to use. A number of Balanced charms are ALSO element-tagged. If I recall correctly, using such a charm will in fact place you in the appropriate Aura. So... just buy Cloud-Piercing Focus to access Earth, Fire, or Water Aura any time you like. I haven't trawled the entire charms section, but I would be surprised if Air and Wood didn't have appropriate minor 1m charms you could use.

                              Is it a 'mote tax' of sorts to use your way-cool Aura-expending charms? Sure. There's a cost to trying to use an out of aspect signature charm. If it's of your aspect and you're building along aspect lines, MysticTemplar's comment is absolutely correct - it's almost entirely trivial. Fire Melee master? Buy the fire signatures and never worry about Aura, ever.

                              I view the more complex mix-and-match Aura element kind of builds to be advanced shenanigans akin to finding two martial arts styles that synergize; it's great you can, but most people won't be hurt if they just focus on the one they like the most.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X