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Paranoia, Lethality and the Wyld Hunt

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  • Paranoia, Lethality and the Wyld Hunt

    A claim I've seen in several places in relation to 2E paranoia combat is that the idea that everyone needs paranoia combos comes from a false assumption that storytellers will put player characters into unavoidable fights with overpowered enemies.
    For most role playing games, this assumption would indeed clearly be false - no-one thinks VtM characters should be designed with the risk of being attacked surprise-attacked unprevoked by antediluvians in mind. But the problem in exalted is that, for solars and for most splats, there are in fact (or so it seems to me) rules that place a fairly high minimum on how powerful the enmies the characters are attacked by can be without storytellers (or players in cooperation with storytellers) putting work into coming up with excuses.
    Assuming the players are playing solars, which is presented by the game as the default option, it is established in the rules (some of these things are specific to certain edditions, but for the most part they hold true across editions) that
    a) The Wyld Hunt and the Bronze Faction are trying to kill you.
    b) The Bronze faction are tracking you with methods so effective that the setting's iconic master shapeshifters decided it was safer to flee to the wyld than to try to hide from them in creation.
    c) Unlike said master shapeshifters, you do not even know of the existence of said tracking methods, and so cannot even try to hide from them.
    d) Killing you is one of the Wyld Hunt's top 300 priorities.
    e) Assuming that around half of lost eggs take the razor, and that a decent number of dynasts become monks as well, the Immaculate Order, which sees maintaining the Wyld Hunt as an extremely important sacred duty, has over 2000 Immaculate monks - enough to assign a full sworn brotherhood to every solar-level anathema and still have a quarter of their monks left over for its other duties.
    f) Immaculate monks have access to celestial-level martial arts that make each one of them a serious threat to non-paranoia-combo starting solars, and one of these martial arts has the grand goremall as its sole artefact form weapon.
    g) The only major group interested in protecting you from the Wyld Hunt - the Gold Faction - is only doing so so that they can convince you to joing their cult, which for players whose character concept isn't 'brainwashed cultist' makes them as much of a threat as the Bronze Faction, just ones that use the social system rather than combat.
    h) Also, your character doesn't know the Gold Faction exists, so you without metagaming you can't do anything to avoid them.
    Like, I'm coming at this as a storyteller who wants to be fair to my players and to give them a chance to have their characters do things rather than just get immediately crushed by overwhelmingly powerful enemies, but I actually can't see a way to do this better than just ignoring central elements of the setting that are inconvenient. And the setting seems designed to inescapably screw solars over from the beginning to the extent that I'm worried that I'm doing things wrong and immediately having a character who was supposed to be a powerful hero get crushed by overwhelmingly powerful enemies that you had no opportunity to do anything to avoid is the intended experience of playing Exalted.

  • #2
    There are 4 options really.

    A) Run a game far from the Realm's area of control.

    B) Don't build the Wyld Hunt optimally. Dex 3, Str 4, Martial Arts 4, etc. Then PCs can beat them, because 5 Solars (rather than the 1-2 Wyld Hunts expect) is actually overwhelming for DBs.

    C) Have PCs build optimally. A DB has a lot of trouble with a Solar making 4-5 attacks with a Grand Goremaul. When there's 4 or 5 Solars, again it's an overwhelming amount of power.

    In my games, we mostly went for B with a dash of C at the beginning, then later A. Wyld Hunts attacked what they thought was 1-2 Solars and their hangers-on, only to find there were actually 6 Solars.
    No PCs actually died to Wyld Hunts. Over the 75 or 80 sessions I ran 2nd ed, one PC was killed by blood apes sent by a DB sorcerer, one PC was killed by another PC, one was killed by Dragonblood when he went into their camp alone, one was killed by an Abyssal and one was killed by Walker in Darkness. But the Wyld Hunt never managed to kill them.
    In the long-running game I played... we mostly ran away from the Wyld Hunt (they had Five-Dragon Force Blow! That's terrifying!) until we reached option A. Then just continued with A pretty much forever. So, again, no-one ever actually died to the Wyld Hunt.

    But I'd actually recommend option D.

    D)Run a game with a more balanced combat system, like 3rd Edition Exalted.
    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 02-03-2019, 05:56 AM.


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

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    • #3
      Originally posted by rj.au View Post
      d) Killing you is one of the Wyld Hunt's top 300 priorities.
      More like 600+, Lunars don't exactly drop off the radar and the Deathlords have a known Anathema connection.


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      • #4
        I really don't think the Immaculate Order could be sending 75% of their monks to the Wyld Hunt. Sure, killing Anathema is important, but so are a lot of other things.

        I mean, they probably have more monks disciplining misbehaving gods than there are hunting Anathema. There are far, far more than 600 gods being assholes. And you can't have your entire religious hierarchy out kicking ass all the time -- the Order wouldn't function.

        Also, I'm pretty sure the Bronze Faction's tracking methods aren't really meant to be that perfect. If they were, they'd have killed the PCs (and all the other established Solar characters in Creation) before they even got to the "starting character" level. (It is admittedly kind of hard to account for why the Lunars ran off and didn't do very much for so much of Creation's history in 1e and 2e.)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rj.au View Post
          A claim I've seen in several places in relation to 2E paranoia combat is that the idea that everyone needs paranoia combos comes from a false assumption that storytellers will put player characters into unavoidable fights with overpowered enemies.
          You have made a fundamentally misunderstanding of the nature of the lethality problem in 2e.

          The root of the problem is that easily available weapons (Grand Daiklaives / Goremauls) deal damage that significantly outstrips similarly available soak, meaning that any hit by an opponent so armed is likely to be lethal. Additionally, due to Essence ping, even if you had soak that /could/ reduce the incoming damage, towards the late game it literally didn't matter.

          Everything else- paranoia combos, mote attrition, etc - comes down to that. If you have Exalted-level antagonists, you're playing rocket tag.

          The dangers from the setting- the capacity of the Bronze Faction to locate Solars, the resources that the Realm and the Immaculate Order dedicate to Wyld Hunts, etcetc -are tune-able. But the lethality doesn't arise from the setting, but assumptions baked into base assumptions of the system.


          A tinkering effort at bringing Raksha into Ex3: Fair Folk: The Beautiful Thieves

          A tinkering effort at bringing fate ninjas into Ex3: Sidereals: Where Fate Has Led - Album of the Charm Trees thereof.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by wastevens View Post

            You have made a fundamentally misunderstanding of the nature of the lethality problem in 2e.

            The root of the problem is that easily available weapons (Grand Daiklaives / Goremauls) deal damage that significantly outstrips similarly available soak, meaning that any hit by an opponent so armed is likely to be lethal. Additionally, due to Essence ping, even if you had soak that /could/ reduce the incoming damage, towards the late game it literally didn't matter.

            Everything else- paranoia combos, mote attrition, etc - comes down to that. If you have Exalted-level antagonists, you're playing rocket tag.

            The dangers from the setting- the capacity of the Bronze Faction to locate Solars, the resources that the Realm and the Immaculate Order dedicate to Wyld Hunts, etcetc -are tune-able. But the lethality doesn't arise from the setting, but assumptions baked into base assumptions of the system.
            You also have a bunch of other things that just kill you without the right protections which is half the issue with 2E.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post

              You also have a bunch of other things that just kill you without the right protections which is half the issue with 2E.

              True, but most of those are predicated on dealing damage.


              A tinkering effort at bringing Raksha into Ex3: Fair Folk: The Beautiful Thieves

              A tinkering effort at bringing fate ninjas into Ex3: Sidereals: Where Fate Has Led - Album of the Charm Trees thereof.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                But I'd actually recommend option D.

                D)Run a game with a more balanced combat system, like 3rd Edition Exalted.
                I agree, but like..."more balanced" is still relative.


                "Chicanery-No: If a player uses this Charm in an abusive or exploitative manner, the ST may punch him right in the goddamn face." --TheDementedOne

                "Happiness is very brittle and short-lived in the Exalted community, because ressentiment is our cultural touchstone." --Gayo

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                • #9
                  Hmmm... It's okay. I don't find certain builds dominate combat.
                  (Well, our Resistance-build guy dominates combat. But he's a Dawn with Resistance-Supernal. I'd hardly expect the sorceress, priest or spy to be on his level. There's no Melee-Supernal or Archery-Supernal character to compare.)
                  But then, I've only played with 11 Solars, and they tended to specialise in very different things, so it's difficult to compare.

                  The only balance thing I've noticed combat-wise is that Brawl is much better than Steel Devil, so far.

                  I find it a bit overly-complex, hate the character gen, and some of the Solar charms are badly written, but I don't find balance a big issue.
                  (Assuming we accept the idea that some characters should be better at combat than others, which Exalted does, but, say, DnD doesn't.)
                  Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 02-04-2019, 12:59 PM.


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

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Zelbinnean View Post

                    I agree, but like..."more balanced" is still relative.

                    Oh, it absolutely is relative!

                    The major difference in the level of balance with 3e is that there's more ways to engage with the combat subsystem with meaningful impact (as opposed to infinite kiting prana or rocket tag), and the consequences for suboptimal decisions are less consequential (due to the distinction between withering/decisive, most health level damage won't be in insta-gib range without some warning, and due to being able to trade damage for losing a limb/etc, you can often take a bad mistake without it being fatal, opening up chances to surrender or try and retreat)

                    It ain't perfect- the action economy is very powerful (tending to provide an edge to PCs), and it's difficult to build encounters that are both engaging for weaker combatants without being steamrolled by stronger AND interesting for stronger combatants without murdering weaker -but it's definitely better.



                    A tinkering effort at bringing Raksha into Ex3: Fair Folk: The Beautiful Thieves

                    A tinkering effort at bringing fate ninjas into Ex3: Sidereals: Where Fate Has Led - Album of the Charm Trees thereof.

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                    • #11
                      I find this thread endlessly amusing. I have exactly the opposite problem as the OP in most of my Solar games. I might have a situation where my players were careless and flared their animas close to a Realm garrison, so the next town they stop at there’s a Wyld Hunt waiting in ambush. I’d say a sworn brotherhood, four of them essence 2-3, and, perhaps, one experienced commander who’s essence 4. Each one has either an artifact weapon or armor, and they’ve got 25 elite soldiers hidden amongst the buildings. Their stats usually middling around 2-4 in things they are proficient in. It usually ends up being somewhat anticlimactic.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rj.au View Post
                        Like, I'm coming at this as a storyteller who wants to be fair to my players and to give them a chance to have their characters do things rather than just get immediately crushed by overwhelmingly powerful enemies, but I actually can't see a way to do this better than just ignoring central elements of the setting that are inconvenient. And the setting seems designed to inescapably screw solars over from the beginning to the extent that I'm worried that I'm doing things wrong and immediately having a character who was supposed to be a powerful hero get crushed by overwhelmingly powerful enemies that you had no opportunity to do anything to avoid is the intended experience of playing Exalted.
                        Let me address your point two ways.

                        First, you can use the Wyld Hunt to tune the amount of glowy you want from your party. That is to say that a party of solar exalts is extremely powerful, and if you let them do whatever they want and act as openly as they want, there's very little that will slow them down let alone stop them. You can use the Wyld Hunt, or rather the threat of the Wyld Hunt, to encourage your group to be a little more circumspect in how they behave... at least until they realize that they actually have little to fear from the Wyld Hunt, which brings me to...

                        Second, the Wyld Hunt doesn't make a ton of sense in the setting: Creation is gigantic and Solars are so much more powerful than Dragon-Blooded it's silly. In 3E, we've got solars wiping their ass with the heraldry of the Realm and chapter fiction in which a chargen solar nearly one-shots one of the most powerful Dynasts in Creation. Once your group realizes that some solars with just a bit of XP can stomp an arbitrary number of DBs into dust and convince all the people who saw it to join your group's cause... the Wyld Hunt ceases to be much of a check in itself.

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                        • #13
                          Yeah the average ability/attribute dots thing is a big deal. Having a 5 makes you legendary, a prodigy amongst prodigies. You’re Usain Bolt, or Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen. Having a 4 means you’re one of the top experts in your field, regional powers are aware of your existsnce and track your movements if you’re a concern. Having a 2 means basic professional, 3 is elite veteran, so most DBs will be hovering around there, in both attribute and ability scores.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                            I find this thread endlessly amusing. I have exactly the opposite problem as the OP in most of my Solar games. I might have a situation where my players were careless and flared their animas close to a Realm garrison, so the next town they stop at there’s a Wyld Hunt waiting in ambush. I’d say a sworn brotherhood, four of them essence 2-3, and, perhaps, one experienced commander who’s essence 4. Each one has either an artifact weapon or armor, and they’ve got 25 elite soldiers hidden amongst the buildings. Their stats usually middling around 2-4 in things they are proficient in. It usually ends up being somewhat anticlimactic.
                            This is essentially my experience. The Wyld Hunt is designed to hunt Lunars, one at a time.
                            It's not designed to hunt 6 Solars hanging out together in a world where it's starved for resources.

                            When we started playing 2nd ed, we were terrified of the Wyld Hunt, and fled 2 countries because people discovered were Celestials. By the end of the game, my 700xp Lunar just didn't even take them into account.


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

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                              Hmmm... It's okay. I don't find certain builds dominate combat.
                              (Well, our Resistance-build guy dominates combat. But he's a Dawn with Resistance-Supernal. I'd hardly expect the sorceress, priest or spy to be on his level. There's no Melee-Supernal or Archery-Supernal character to compare.)
                              But then, I've only played with 11 Solars, and they tended to specialise in very different things, so it's difficult to compare.

                              The only balance thing I've noticed combat-wise is that Brawl is much better than Steel Devil, so far.

                              I find it a bit overly-complex, hate the character gen, and some of the Solar charms are badly written, but I don't find balance a big issue.
                              (Assuming we accept the idea that some characters should be better at combat than others, which Exalted does, but, say, DnD doesn't.)
                              You alter a few resistance charms and suddenly resistance isn't the end all be all it currently is. It's a shame it's so overtuned. Melee and archery also have a few problems but I feel that's what happens when you get people who were too in love with themselves and their work to realize maybe that charm shouldn't be that strong. 3e has more than a few issues and ironically causes some of the same issues the original devs said they had with 2e but it's still in a better position than 2e.

                              I would also argue that supernal is part of the problem and you'd probably get a more interesting game without it.

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