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  • DrLoveMonkey
    started a topic DrLovemonkey's Holistic Lunar Review

    DrLovemonkey's Holistic Lunar Review

    Hey all! DrLoveMonkey here! Last time we had a big exalted kickstarter, I wrote this*. Because Dragonblooded have, over the years, become my favourite splat of Exalted, even as my appreciation for all of them grew. It started out analyzing combat differences between Solars and DBs and it became a thread reviewing DBs in general and particularly contrasting them with Solars. Why would you want to play a weaker exalt basically. Over the course of that thread people seemed to appreciate it, summarizing the different abilities and the elements, their personalities. Fire aspects being powerful but fragile if they started losing, ect. It makes it easier to read through the charms yourself when you do go through them, and gives you inspiration for your characters, I think anyway.

    I got some requests to do that again when Lunars/Realm came out. So here it is. I'm going to break things down into headings because I feel it helps people absorb information and it makes it clearer to read in general. I'm also very open to being corrected, love to fix any mistakes, and I'm open to discussion, but if it starts to pollute the thread TOO much, I will ask people to take it elsewhere.

    This guide is both for new players just getting into Exalted, and wanting to know what the deal is with Lunars, as well as veteran players getting into 3e Lunars who want a summary of their changes and what's dope about them. (Hint: it's a lot. A lot is dope.)


    Housekeeping

    First let me do some housekeeping, as it were. THIS thread, thank you Sunder, made me realize something. Playing Exalted almost weekly for very nearly most of my memorable life, I entered that previous thread with a lot of assumptions. Without realizing it I had gone from my first Wyld Hunt to a scarred old vet of many sessions where I saw beloved characters die and some players literally flip tables in frustration with Solar mechanics. Many with literal cheers and punches to the ceiling in triumph as well. Either way though, I went into that analysis with an idea that I knew Solars were still going to be totally unstoppable in any way if they wanted to be, even from chargen. I kind of came around, but not enough, my hidden biases were still stopping me from seeing the full picture.

    I gave a very favourable, although I think understandable, reading to Thunderbolt Attack Prana, I assumed for some strange reason that 5 Essence 5 master Dragonblooded hunters wouldn't have taken any ox-bodies, and that among many other things is just stupid. I started coming around at the end but I don't think I ever really admitted that. With 3e mechanics even BS fully optimized Solars aren't invincible out of the gate. So thank you, again, to the developers that made this system and this setting happen, and for letting my old prejudices die so that the new generation of terrestrials doesn't have to have that same feeling of helplessness. Speaking of...


    Why Wouldn't You Want to Play a Lunar?

    We're actually going to start this thread off VERY strangely, with a little clip of why you would wan't to play Solars or DBs! Because I realized in my last thread that I was kind of making all these contrasts with Solar charms that kind of just made it seem like "Dragonblooded charms are awesome! Fuck yeah! Solars suck!" and that is not my intention here, nor was it really there. I think. So before we dump on the two exalted we have, lets see why we'd still want to play them.

    One reason is that, being ability exalted, their charms are just different, in cool ways. Lunars won't have a whole tree of charms to be an expert archer, you still CAN be an expert archer, but your really specific bow and arrow tricks won't be nearly as prominent there as in the ability exalted trees. No arrows bursting into trees because there's no guarantee that the Lunar will even be using a ranged attack with a lot of charms, much less an arrow. So that's a fun concept you can lean into with other exalts that you can't with Attribute ones.

    Solars are super cool, especially now. Before a lot of their charms, to me, seemed just a bit bland, because of the kind of less flashy nature of their powers. Apart from a few instances of summoning sunfire, their ability to get huge dice and attempt impossible feats wasn't doing it for me so much as I might have liked, I think. Then came the Lunars and the DBs, and suddenly the Solars power got put into a new light. There IS no Dragonblooded version of Nine Aeons Thew, there isn't even a Lunar one, and the Solars can get it off of character gen. Their ability for a starting Solar to easily rip a house-sized boulder out of the ground and hurl it at a skyship is a power that is uniquely Solar.

    From a story standpoint Solars also represent ultimate freedom. No setting constraints on background or giant institutions that pressure you to join up. Apart from the Cult of the Illuminated..kinda. You can be anyone, from anywhere, who does anything.

    Dragonblooded, on the other hand, might not have that same power, but they have very cool an unique powers nonetheless. Their iconic elemental manipulation and teamwork themes make for characters who are more closely integrated into their environment, and nobody has a giant culture of people who are likely MORE powerful than your starting PCs like the DBs have. They also have a power scale that I think makes a lot of their problems more interesting and challenging for smart players who want to feel really engaged.

    Okay, so we got all that? Let's dump on it now by talking about how friggin awesome Lunars are.



    Attribute Exalted

    Lunar Exalted are what's called Attribute based exalted. This means that instead of basing charms off of their ability values, they base it of of their attribute values, and that, in turn, changes everything. For one, there's only 9 attributes, and 25 abilities, which means that, all things being equal, each attribute covers almost 3 times as much as an ability. So that means that they have 3 times the number of charms in each attribute as other exalts have in an ability right? Nope, not really. Actually what's way more common is that their charms just do 3 times as much.

    Take their decisive multi-attack charm for one, Octopus and Spider Barrage. It lets you do up to 5 decisive attacks, based on essence, and even switch between abilities for each attack! Comparing that to the Solar decisive multi-attack...well...which one? Brawl and Melee have kind of similar ones, Martial Arts is all over the place, and Thrown and Archery don't have anything comparable. Dragonblooded even less so. So a Lunar can do with OaSB in Archery or Thrown or even MA something that Solars and DBs just can't, and then they turn around and do it for Brawl and Melee just for fun.

    This diversity in power, and wide applicability is HUGE and shows up all over the Lunar charmset as, I think, their greatest strength. Forget shapeshifting, shapeshifting is just an aspect of this broad power expressed in it's own special way. Lunar spearfighter loses her spear? No worries, hands are almost as good. The foe takes to the air? Whatever, pick up a bow, the charms work there too. Don't have a bow? Throw the spear then. The freedom to pick isn't absolutely limitless, but because the Lunars don't even use abilities for their excellency caps, the absolute most you're losing is 5 dice, and likely closer to 3.

    This is especially true because even their excellencies are exclusively attribute based. Either adding up to (Attribute) dice or (Attribute + Other-Attribute) with a proper stunt. So any ability that you have less than 5 dots in is really not losing you many dice in comparison to your pool. Going with a fully maxed out mundane light attack on a 3 dot ability vs a 5 dot one is going from 24 dice to 22, that's hardly anything.

    Character Freedom

    This freedom is almost mind-boggling coming from an ability exalt. Do you defend yourself with evasion most but get hit with an undodgeable attack? Who cares! Your parry is almost as good anyway!

    It doesn't just give you freedom within your character creation though, it gives you freedom to change your character on the fly. A bit anyway. Say you're a Full Moon Lunar and you are a sneaky stealth archer, you hide in the shadows at the edge of a forest and pepper Realm caravans with lightning fast ambushes. Then let's say you've been playing this character for a while and you really kind of like the idea of just getting in there and mixing it up with a pair of daggers instead. As a Solar or a DB you'd either have to start trucking down a path of huge xp investment, or change characters, or just wistfully imagine how cool it would be. For a Lunar that's like, maybe 9xp, which can be Lunar xp, and bam, you're ready to go mix it up in melee. Happy hunting you newborn master of all things blade.

    It's totally pervasive, every charm purchase, every attribute dot increase, makes you better in a thousand different ways. The only time you would ever need to diversify your investment, or make a new character, is if you wanted to be good at talking, or thinking, instead of fighting. Even then unless you really wanted to be mega good at talking it wouldn't take much investment to be awesome at it.


    Unfortunately this post is already so long that most people probably won't read it, so I need to stop before talking about Shapeshifting and get into a little more numbers. After that I'll go down each road of say, Influence or Heart's Blood, or War, and see how they do each compared to the other exalted. It's going to be a big chunk each time so it'll take a while between posts, but hopefully this can help out aspiring Lunars as well as some older Shahan-yas. This thread is not starting out nearly as focused as the last one but maybe that's fitting? Hopefully it isn't MUCH worse anyway.



    *Check it out if you're interested, but read the "housekeeping" section in this post before you do.

  • Dagurasu
    replied
    For me it makes sense the Solar approach in War is broader, to command the whole army, to control the whole battlefield, the big picture. The Lunars have a more focused approach to their troops, their orders, and how to use them to destroy the enemy. Different approaches but equally valid and powerful. It's a way of making them feel different. The Solars are also better at training troops.
    Apart from a couple of Lunar charms that combined are excessively powerful and can kill almost anything in an action, but I imagine that they will be modified in the final version.

    In the social aspect the Solars certainly have a huge control with Bureaucracy, the Lunars have far fewer tools to deal with organizations if I remember correctly, mostly limited to harming their functioning. The Solars, while improving their efficiency, protect them from interference, can have an enormous control over each of their components, etc ...

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  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Iceblade44 View Post
    I've been reading a few stuff on Lunars and I thought I should ask how the comparison is. That is, on a Social bureaucracy/leading/war side. How do Lunars compare to Solars, the kingdom makers or DBs who function well in having an already established society. What are the differences, pros, and cons with having a Lunar at the head compared to the other two?
    I'll get to that right after I finish their combat styles. The short version though is that Lunars actually seem to be able to forge nations out of nothing a bit better than Solars can. They're also great at being a nation's protectors, and enforcers, as well as their beastly god-kings. Where they fall short on the Solar end of things is that once at the head of an organization they just don't have the same kind of total control that a Solar has. Also there's the ever-present factor that a Solar at Essence 1 can use the Essence 5 Order Conferring Action to just snap her fingers and create sweeping changes and a creational bulwark. For warfare Lunars are actually much better unit commanders as well, oddly enough. Solars are better at the strategic warfare aspects, but Lunars have them beat by a mile when it comes to directly giving orders.

    For DBs there really is no comparison. The Lunars effects are simply more powerful and far more grand. Where the DB charms target specific bureaucracies that they own, like, I dunno, the Corvus Date Packing Company, Lunars can target entire cultures with a single action. In warfare it's not even remotely close, DBs have nothing on Lunar generals. Lunars train faster and better, beat them in strategic warfare, ignore things like not having supply lines, and then simply empower their troops to divine levels of strength.

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  • Iceblade44
    replied
    I've been reading a few stuff on Lunars and I thought I should ask how the comparison is. That is, on a Social bureaucracy/leading/war side. How do Lunars compare to Solars, the kingdom makers or DBs who function well in having an already established society. What are the differences, pros, and cons with having a Lunar at the head compared to the other two?

    Leave a comment:


  • Maseiken
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

    Do you mean by distracting 3 times in a turn, or by being the beneficiary of a distract gambit and unleashing 1.5 times that in damage?
    The latter was my thought, on the assumption that a melee specialist with that much essence is probably the most dangerous person in the room, but if there’s an IMmaculate stylist available then absolutely they could use those distracts, still a handy charm (I hadn’t even thought of HFA as a source of gambits, intriguing.)

    although my thought was that in the context of a wyld Hunt you’d benefit from more than one distract before you unleashed the fire and fury. So to speak.

    It’s not just the initiative, those distract gambits are still applying onslaught. They don’t even need to be especially good at combat to be helpful. Even a non-exalt will most likely have enough i from their JB to contribute an attack that the anathema should Really spend to avoid. Assuming even One hits, it’s about +3 to your eventual damage rolls, plus the onslaught for every attempted distraction.

    On top of that, you need Fire Aura to use it, right? Well, that limits you to the second turn of combat, but it doesn’t mean the first turn is boring. I’d advise focusing on Guard and Defend Other though, which leaves you plenty of room to use your many, many Fire based parry charms. Assuming you’re a Big Target (you’re a high-essence melee specialist so you probably are or can be), you might get the chance to use Fire Incites Water to a Riot of Clouds, but that would be pretty risky. Mostly you just want everyone to hold on to their JB result, then delay so all the distracts are happening before HFA and HFA is before the enemy resets.

    Obviously all this is melee focused, but even if you need to close distance, there’s some fire charms in athletics that can help you out. They key thing is that your target doesn’t want ANY of these things to happen, and has to either spend accordingly or pick and choose. Their best Defense against HFA is Hardness, but even if they’re significantly armoured you probably also have Dragon Soul Burst and you’re already prepped to build an aura for it.

    ANYWAY I won’t do any more DB stuff here. Will gladly contribute to an Arena/theorycraft thread.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ghosthead
    replied
    It sounds a bit more like that's the way you might want it to be, for tradeoffs to be more about consistency than sheer power of attacks comparing DB / Solar / Lunar - if it's about both then you'd end up with a lot of "not tall enough for this ride", where DB just never win at all (1-on-1), while if it's mainly about consistency, sometimes it happens, mostly it doesn't?

    You've kind of used an Essence 5 DB here; does that imply that Essence 2-3 DBs would fare much worse, or is it more that they'd fare about the same (same kind of levels of probability or win or lose), simply because DBs tools don't really scale much up to Essence 5 in ways which are useful for this matchup? I guess my bias would be to be a bit more sanguine about the latter than former.

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  • Zeesun
    replied
    It sounds like, from your sample set so far at least, Solars and Lunars approach/are at combat-power parity. In light of how powerful Solar charms (particularly with Supernal) seem now that we have some reference points, that's seriously impressive. It has interesting implications for how interactions between the splats will go in-game as well; it's one thing if Solars are generally expected to come out on top of one-on-one fights against Lunars with equivalent investment in combat charms, but another if that isn't the case. Hell, with light to no investment it might even be the case that Lunars are straight-up more powerful than equivalently invested Solars. It also sounds like there's a notably larger gap between Lunars and DBs than there is between Solars and Lunars, fightin'-wise.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
    Just as a note, you might want to consider going back and trying an Earth or Fire stylist, since I think there’s somewhat a dearth of Water Aura defensive charms at the moment, so one of them might do better.

    Also, do the DBs just lack charms that say ”this charm may be activated after the roll?” I don’t remember that being especially prevalent in Lunar charms either.
    I’m actually thinking of just spinning this off into an Arena thread since people seem so interested.


    I also feel like I might still not be clear what I mean. It isn’t that Lunars/Solars have a ton of charms that they get to activate post-hit, although they do have some. It’s when they activate offensive charms and then miss, those motes are wasted. Like for example if you launch an attack with Essence Dousing Wave and Drowning in Blood Technique, that’s 8m 1wp that you’ve put up front on an attack that’s probably going to miss, being decisive, so you’re spending motes on effects that will probably not trigger.

    On the Lunar/Solar side of things, they can dump like 15 motes into a big combo attack and be reasonably sure that it will land. It’s less of a gamble, and for the DB the fact that theirs has a lower chance of success doesn’t come with the compensation of a more powerful effect.

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  • BrilliantRain
    replied
    Just as a note, you might want to consider going back and trying an Earth or Fire stylist, since I think there’s somewhat a dearth of Water Aura defensive charms at the moment, so one of them might do better.

    Also, do the DBs just lack charms that say ”this charm may be activated after the roll?” I don’t remember that being especially prevalent in Lunar charms either.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Maseiken View Post
    Speaking of DB Synergy in combat, just glancing at Harnessed Firestorm Assault, I can see some truly horrific synergy with the humble Distract gambit.
    Do you mean by distracting 3 times in a turn, or by being the beneficiary of a distract gambit and unleashing 1.5 times that in damage?

    Leave a comment:


  • Maseiken
    replied
    Speaking of DB Synergy in combat, just glancing at Harnessed Firestorm Assault, I can see some truly horrific synergy with the humble Distract gambit.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Alpharius View Post

    I'm not going to hold a gun to your head for this, but I feel like if you're running a DB game a couple lower essence but decently capable warriors ganging up on a Lunar might be worth seeing how a few combat builds do, if you're willing to poke that stick. I have some gut feelings on the way this would go, after running a DB game for a bit under a year, but am kind of curious if those get replicated in an actual combat test.

    I'll probably be doing my own before too long, but that would be less white room and more viciously slamming my PCs against a char gen Lunar in a Wyld Hunt more so than anything.
    I might have to conscript some of my players to help out with that if that's the case. I could do maybe 2 young DBs vs 1 Lunar, but I'm not confidant I could do like, a Lunar and a battlegroup vs 4 DBs.

    Leave a comment:


  • Alpharius
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    I could try running a few more white rooms later where I use 2 younger DBs against one Lunar, but I'll have to tone back the DBs attributes at least, because I think it's unreasonable for a young DB to have 5s across the board
    I'm not going to hold a gun to your head for this, but I feel like if you're running a DB game a couple lower essence but decently capable warriors ganging up on a Lunar might be worth seeing how a few combat builds do, if you're willing to poke that stick. I have some gut feelings on the way this would go, after running a DB game for a bit under a year, but am kind of curious if those get replicated in an actual combat test.

    I'll probably be doing my own before too long, but that would be less white room and more viciously slamming my PCs against a char gen Lunar in a Wyld Hunt more so than anything.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post
    Oh, hmm that's true. I didn't quite realize that till now. Still dodge and presence has a pretty good tech in fire aura. Also, half the point of MA is that they get stronger abilities than their native charms which is why they can use aura to boost MA. Also, an essence 1 lunar and an essence 5 db have different levels of access to styles.
    Yes, that they do. I'm sure that there is some combination of effects that work out in the DB's favour, but they will be extremely rare. Even a powerful and high essence DB will not want to fight a purely dedicated Lunar combat monster at Essence 1, unless they're like chargen Essence 1 with a limited number of charm picks, but even then maybe not. He's experienced, he's wildly powerful, but the Lunar just has too many ways to punch up over his head and tear his arms off. Or grapple smash him right through a solid granite support pillar. Or a number of other things I will be looking at in the next big section.

    Of course, it's a DB that you're fighting, if you challenge a powerful Essence 5 Dynast to an honourable 1v1 duel to settle the matter of who owns your territory, you're probably going to end up fighting his entire circle and dying horribly. I also wouldn't go into a fight thinking it's in the bag. A combat focused Lunar will never have to worry about losing a fight to a Claw Strider because of a couple bad rolls, but they absolutely could to a powerful DB.

    Leave a comment:


  • Epimetheus
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

    Hmmm, I actually think it does require Aura. It has the Aura keyword which reads as such:

    Aura: Aura Charms can only be used while the Dragon-Blood is in the Elemental Aura that matches its aspect. An Aura Charm can’t be used in the same instant with Charms of other elements, unless those Charms have the Balanced keyword.

    Aura of Invulnerability could certainly help, although it also ends if the DB gets crashed, so they have to make sure that doesn't happen. Again, it's an Aura charm too, so you need to use it on your second turn. If they've also got heavy armor and ISoS though then maybe they could survive two or three of the Lunars withering attacks. If the Lunar young anyway, at higher essence Ferocious Biting Tooth and Divine Predator Strike are going to let you slice through that soak.

    I'm a bit wary though of saying that a DB can get an edge by stacking native charms with MA or Evocations or something though. I think it's true, especially with some of the corebook styles, but if I start doing that I also have to start letting the Lunars in the combats have MAs and combine with animal forms and stuff, and I think the Lunar is coming out ahead in that. The bear abilities in the last fight alone were insanely good.
    Oh, hmm that's true. I didn't quite realize that till now. Still dodge and presence has a pretty good tech in fire aura. Also, half the point of MA is that they get stronger abilities than their native charms which is why they can use aura to boost MA. Also, an essence 1 lunar and an essence 5 db have different levels of access to styles.

    Leave a comment:

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