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Withering Attacks and Decisive Attacks: Question and technically problem

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  • Withering Attacks and Decisive Attacks: Question and technically problem

    Hey guys,

    I've been lurking for a while and posted a few questions in the past.

    I got Exalted 3rd Edition... loved it. Found the combat mechanics cool and such...

    My players... all veterans from the 1st and 2nd editions are avoiding it like the plague.... like the Black Plague actually.

    They can't get behind the Withering and Decisive Attacks. I've tried, cajoled, drop kicked them... nothing worked.

    So is there for the love of ?@#@#$ a 3rd Edition hack that can bypass the whole mechanics with non special or regular encounters? Like homebrew stuff that I could fit the old rules (1st and 2nd) with the new and slowly brainwash them into accepting the 3rd Edition?

    In the end, it's really not cool, and I'm getting annoyed.

    Thanks for letting me know your point of view (without telling me that my players are being giant dicks.).


  • #2
    While I don't think there's a great way to completely bypass the mechanic, I'd say fighting a few battlegroups earlier on would be a nice way to ease your players into it, since both Withering and Decisive attacks will be doing actual damage. That way instead of Withering attacks feeling too weak, it makes the Decisive attacks feel like more of a super move. Then, once your players start running up against truly menacing opponents that present a threat outside of a battlegroup, it'll simply carry the weight of "only your truly mighty attacks can wound this guy" which, quite frankly, isn't too far off in describing the system narratively . This does rely on your players being willing to give enough ground for you to be able to do this in the first place though: if they refuse to play in a system where those mechanics are even present, regardless of implementation, you're gonna have a much harder time.

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    • #3
      At that point may as well go back to 2e. The changes in the combat engine are the biggest draw and motivation for 3e. Little else in the system is enough to full edition change, and if you actually like any of the other systems in 3e they should be easy enough to back convert to 2e.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Pram View Post
        They can't get behind the Withering and Decisive Attacks. I've tried, cajoled, drop kicked them... nothing worked.
        One thing you can do is to drop the idea that Withering attacks aren't intentionally non-lethal. Nothing changes and the mechanics and narrative actually line up a bit smoother for some people. Withering attacks are purposefully about maneuvering people into position, feints, etc. and Decisive is when you capitalize on it.

        Also, against significantly weak opponents, it's pretty easy to just spam Decisive attacks rather than bothering with Withering. If you're at no risk of getting it, and can easily hit them, you don't need to worry about grabbing enough Initiative to avoid a crash, or to crash them to keep them weakened. Just keep hitting them with 3-4 dice of damage until they go down.

        So is there for the love of ?@#@#$ a 3rd Edition hack that can bypass the whole mechanics with non special or regular encounters?
        Can you elaborate on what makes something a "non-special" or "regular" encounter for your group and why you're bothering breaking out the full combat systems for them instead of just a simple roll off?

        Like, if our Night is sneaking up on a trivial NPC guard and wants to slit the guard's throat... we're not going to go into full combat systems for it... the guard is dead and we move on.

        As noted above, Battle Groups generally make "fighting a bunch of mooks" easier and don't care about Withering vs. Decisive as much.

        So what sort of fights are you looking to model where the whole combat system is worth using, but the enemies are weak enough that beating them easily makes it not important in someway?

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        • #5
          In short, no, the divide between withering and decisive is way too central to the combat engine to avoid it for any fight that you bust it out for. There are whole hosts of charms balanced around how much initiative you have, using initiative for cost, resetting initiative. Hacking the system to not use it would basically be designing a new system completely.

          If you want help selling the system, or finding tools that's make it easier to run, or ways to work around it for a selection of encounters, that we can help you with.
          Last edited by DrLoveMonkey; 02-22-2019, 03:48 AM.

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          • #6
            I've also been involved in a couple of groups where the Withering/Decisive thing didn't work for the majority of players (one largely composed of Exalted vets, and another that just found the "1/3 attacks might actually do damage, if it hits, and you roll well" thing a slog), and in the end we couldn't find an alternative besides switching to another system. I looked into getting rid of Withering attacks through house rules, but it's just too central of a mechanic. It would have required rewriting virtually all combat details, including all the combat Charm trees.

            That said, if you do manage to find something that might make 3E playable without Withering attacks, I'd definitely be interested.

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            • #7
              One of Holden's more controversal statements was along the lines of "I won't give people terrible rules they think they want", and this is one of the times I see why he would say such a thing, although as stated it is much too harsh.

              If you don't like withering/decisive, Exalted 3rd edition is not a suitable game system for you, as stripping it out is only slightly less work than rejiggering everything to run on 3d6. It was made to address a serious system issue 2.5e revealed and it works well enough for it.

              Hopefully, the high end Storypath games will permit hacking to run Exalted-ish games with a d10 dicepool in a different way to meet that need.

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              • #8
                I pondered something. Standardising the way Withering attacks affect battle groups as something that affects all characters in crash, along with the decisive damage bonus linked to it

                It's purely White Room stuff and makes Battle Groups feel less special but still makes them hard to remove for other reasons and is the closest Houserule to what you want I can think of. Withering attacks can kill if you crash it, Decisive attacks are stronger but risky as they set you up for a crash.

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                • #9
                  I think this is a good time to have a good discussion with your players. What exactly do they not get about Withering and Decisive attacks? Do they not grasp the narrative? If so, have a movie night with a couple of good wuxia and anime movies. Point out which attacks in them would be withering and which decisive.
                  Do they find the mechanics too difficult? Run go an extra mile and memorize their dice pools and basic charms. Run a practice game/battle, where they only need to describe how they attack and you decide if it sounds like a withering or decisive. Ease them in, let them throw the dice and tell them the narrative. Once they get comfortable, you can give more and more of the system to them.
                  Do they just prefer 2e or dislike 3e? I'm afraid I cannot help you with that. Some things are down to preference, and they are hard to change. If you don't want to run an earlier edition, perhaps one of them can pick up the burden and ST for a while. Or perhaps you can use some other system, like Godbound, Savage Worlds or Fate, to play in the Exalted system.
                  But if they are your friends, they should at least try the new edition. That's only fair.

                  Everything's fine as long as everyone is having fun. But remember that the Storyteller is a player too and deserves to have fun.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Taleksi View Post
                    I think this is a good time to have a good discussion with your players.
                    Seconding this. My reading of the OP sounds like there's been some passive agressive behavour going on, but obviously that's just one side of the story.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Croakamancer View Post
                      I pondered something. Standardising the way Withering attacks affect battle groups as something that affects all characters in crash, along with the decisive damage bonus linked to it

                      It's purely White Room stuff and makes Battle Groups feel less special but still makes them hard to remove for other reasons and is the closest Houserule to what you want I can think of. Withering attacks can kill if you crash it, Decisive attacks are stronger but risky as they set you up for a crash.
                      I think that’s actually as close as the OP is going to get. It’s got way less problems than trying to standardize one attack type, and some stuff already works like that. Both battlegroups and poisons. It might even be a good stealth way of getting them used to the system.

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                      • #12
                        I wonder what would break if Decisives build up a different resource than initiative, let's say "momentum". Momentum is a representation of the tactical/dramatical advantage, same as we all know it, however, it does not determine action order. This way initiative becomes less of a hell to track and you can even try to play the game without a computer at your side or tons of paper.

                        Just a wild idea, what do you think?


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gonzo View Post
                          I wonder what would break if Decisives build up a different resource than initiative, let's say "momentum". Momentum is a representation of the tactical/dramatical advantage, same as we all know it, however, it does not determine action order. This way initiative becomes less of a hell to track and you can even try to play the game without a computer at your side or tons of paper.

                          Just a wild idea, what do you think?

                          I've always felt that Momentum was the pool that Withering was building too and that Decisive used to do it's damage. If you successfully sneak and attack on a person/adversary/victim how much should the attacker start with to roll the Decisive?

                          I think the issue one of my player has (and it's kinda passive agressive) is that he didn't like the fact that he couldn't sneak up on mortal/exalt/etc and knock him out in a one shot hit. That the whole Withering/Decisive bogged everything down.

                          In my opinion he's wrong... but his argument is that Withering doesn't do any real damage... I countered that in 3rd Edition the combat is abstracted... but he doesn't budge. In the end I think he likes simulation.

                          Anyways thank you for your replies... I've been always a fan of clear rules.. but in Ex3 some parts of it is obscure on purpose and that's fine with me... it's just I have to figure out how to play with what I have.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Pram View Post
                            I think the issue one of my player has (and it's kinda passive agressive) is that he didn't like the fact that he couldn't sneak up on mortal/exalt/etc and knock him out in a one shot hit. That the whole Withering/Decisive bogged everything down.
                            I'm pretty sure that you can sneak up on a foe and one-shot them with a Decisive. Starting a battle in stealth (some Charms specifically enhance that, even) and then using your first turn to make a surprise Decisive attack is readily possible, and generally reduces the ability of the target to defend against your attack.

                            In the case of a trivial encounter, the core also calls out that the ST is within their rights to boil it down to a simple roll-off rather than bothering with the entire combat system.

                            On the subject of splitting "decisive attack juice" from "turn order number"... while it's possible, the system seems like it was built around Initiative being both of those, with part of the cost of making a big Decisive attack being dropping in the upcoming turn order.


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                            • #15
                              You could always play 2.5 with the 3E setting material, but I personally think that 2.5 is an inferior product to 3E. If your players have decided not to like the 3E combat system, then maybe you shouldn't play 3E with them. The game isn't for everyone. I don't know your players, but it sounds like if they are so against the 3E system, then it's doubtful that it would be a fun experience to use that system with them. If you've tried to convince them that they're wrong about 3E and failed, then maybe you should let it go and play a different edition, a different game, or with a different group.


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