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Should Weapon/Armor Categories Go?

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  • Should Weapon/Armor Categories Go?

    Something I've been considering for a bit is if Ex3 would be better if the light/medium/heavy categories were dropped, and all weapons are simply defined by Tags. The Storypath games do this, including giving Tags values (including 0 for things like which base Ability they use, or the Bashing and Lethal Tags, and negative values for drawbacks), with normal weapons having a cap on their value, while masterwork and magical weapons can get bigger caps (aka more Tags or less negative ones for really potent Tags).

    What I think this would help with:

    1) Doing justice to the idea that weapon choice should be more flavor with a bit of mechanical edge towards style. At the moment, the base medium close combat weapon stat block is too good, and the base heavy stat block too underwhelming. Some weapons are just flat out objectively better than others; such as having a huge number of beneficial Tags, or for some reason having a beneficial Tag more and costing less Resources than a similar weapon. A build your own like STpath does seems like it would solve this.

    2) Getting back to mundane MA techniques. Again, STpath has a good example of this, where practicing a MA (in Trinity 2e at least) has gaining Tags on your unarmed strikes as a major component to invest in them. This basically is turning your body into a masterwork weapon, keeping it balanced with weapons more easily, and not any more easily comboed with Charms than normal weapons would be.

    3) Probably having less variables in combat. This approach would probably expand the number of Tags a bit, but you have to already keep track of what the values for each category are and what the Tags do, and this would reduce it to just what the Tags do.

    The only big issue I see is the work to implement it well, especially with an eye towards any potential Charm interactions.

    Any other cons?

  • #2
    There are many variables in combat, but I don't think weapon types is really a difficult one. You tend to just write the dice pools on your sheet, and that's it. It's not like motes or initiative, which are much harder to keep track of.

    Medium weapons are very good, but light weapons are pretty good too because of their huge accuracy bonuses. So I think it's more that Heavy Weapons aren't very good (the only people I've seen using Heavy Weapons is Earth-Monks and Lunars with the charm for attacking with Strength, which doesn't work on medium weapons).

    Good idea about adding tags to unarmed attacks though, with MA. I think for balance reasons though, that might entail some fiddling around with martial arts charm trees.


    My characters:
    Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
    Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng

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    • #3
      Yeah, #3 is the weakest pro for sure. I think it mostly comes to mind because one of my games had a Dawn that was of the 'master of all weapons' bend, so was constantly switching weapons based on the situation, which yes can all be written down, but it was still annoying to try to suss out which weapons made sense to use when with the category blocks adding to things to pay attention to rather than just the weapon type and Tags since those flow more naturally (they're far away so I want an Archery type weapon, they're near a cliff so I want to take advantage with a Smashing weapon, etc.).

      Light weapons aren't bad, but even so it's almost always superior to have a medium weapon in your off hand for the defense boost. Everything else being equal a short sword vs. a slashing sword is a very even match on the withering side of things (with the light accuracy offset by the medium defense), but the medium weapon user is far more likely not to get hit by decisive attacks, and statistically wins out in the end. But make it short sword + shield vs. dual wielding slashing swords and things go back to basically being even.

      The whole thing would take some fiddling around. I've tried the current Tags with MA for giving MA styles some flair without Charms, but because they're not really calibrated well, a small number of them quickly become the only ones worth learning a MA for.

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      • #4
        There’s also the +2 bonus to clash attacks for 2 handed weapons and dual wielding identical weapons, so that’s kind of fun. Heavy needs a boost though.

        I think armor distinctions might have a few problems too, specifically medium. It’s penalizing your dodge, so you don’t want it unless you’re blocking, but in that case it’s just less soak than heavy usually. Barring tags of course, which for archery for example is the only balancing factor.

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        • #5
          Ah, I can see the issue if you're constantly changing between weapons, but I've not actually seen any characters that do that. I guess it just hasn't come up for us.

          As to the Medium Parry boost, I can see your point about having a Medium weapon in one hand and a Light weapon in the other. Shield and short sword is generally superior to shield and longsword.

          On the other hand of course, any character who relies on Evasion instead of Parry isn't going to care, more likely they'll use light weapons.


          My characters:
          Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
          Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng

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          • #6
            Armor is a bit complicated, because 3e really simplified armor so there isn't as much to do with it, but yeah, medium armor is the one left out, since light armor for no mobility penalty or heavy armor if you're going to eat the penalty in your build. STpath makes things easier by having two default armor qualities (Soft Armor which is more like Soak, and Hard Armor which provide you extra -0 HLs for the fight) so there's more to build armors with (Trinity goes farther with having Armor only default to defending against one damage source, and you buy a Tag to defend against more).

            --------

            The Evasion thing is kind of a trap though. Focusing on Evasion in close combat is a suckers choice with serious Charm back up.

            Consider a mortal with maxed Evasion, and maxed stats for short sword fighting, wearing light armor to avoid mobility penalties, going up against someone with maxed stats for a slashing sword, and wearing heavy armor.

            Despite having invested in twice the Ability dots, in a gladiatorial match up, the second guy is vastly favored to win. His Parry will be higher than either of the first one's defense traits, and when he hits a withering attack it'll be at least 6 damage dice, where his opponent is always reduced to overwhelming.

            The only thing the Dodge happy character has the edge in is running away... but that would mean investing in Thrown/Archery on top of all of that to make any use of that advantage (and probably have to deal with Athletics being used to help counter that).

            To mean, all this fiddly little details don't really help do what they're supposed to do (make combat more interesting) when they're working, and create optimization traps when they're not.

            That's why I'm so inspired by the STpath approach of just wiping away the idea of weapon stats, and just going all Tags.

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            • #7
              I ended up buffing heavy weapons to have the same accuracy as medium for this very reason. Aside from that I don't think this is much of a problem; yeah some weapons have more thags than others but most tags other than Smashing are pretty inconsequiential. When was the last time you saw Flexible be relevant?


              Are you in the market for some Martial Arts? Perhaps some custom Artifacts for your campaign?

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              • #8
                Yeah, they should go, bring back weapon stats specific to the weapon. Weapon and armor categories make all weapons of the same category feel like the same weapon, which is not fun.

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                • #9
                  I found weapons of different types to be unique and different, mostly because I used a Lot of gambits and smashing attacks, so a hook sword is pretty different to a Mace. Most builds don’t necessarily have cause to use those mechanics, or they’re not clear on the page.

                  The charmset isn’t quite there, but a few charms reference Smashing attacks... maybe having more charms that interact with tags would help, whether you went the Storypath Path or not?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BadassOverlord View Post
                    Aside from that I don't think this is much of a problem; yeah some weapons have more thags than others but most tags other than Smashing are pretty inconsequiential. When was the last time you saw Flexible be relevant?
                    Small problems can still get fixed.

                    That said, I've seen plenty of other Tags than Smashing get used.

                    One of the problems with the current Tag system though, is that the Tags are kind of all over the place in terms of utility, and who they're good for. Flexible is actually really good... for mortals fighting other mortals. Once Charms come into the mix a lot of the advantages to using it go away. The fact that you can negate a full defense against a decisive attack without having to crash them first is really useful. The number of Charms you have to contend with if you don't crash someone first makes it less so.

                    Chopping in a withering attack has incredibly poor math as the reduced defense and init cost do not justify the damage boosted. A mundane way to reduce Hardness on the other hand can turn a fighter from a non-threat to a danger so might actually be worth doing.

                    Originally posted by Hark View Post
                    Yeah, they should go, bring back weapon stats specific to the weapon. Weapon and armor categories make all weapons of the same category feel like the same weapon, which is not fun.
                    Eh. I don't really see how "this sword has +1 damage, but that sword as +1 accuracy," ever really did much to really make weapons or armor feel that distinct. And the optimization of equipment game isn't particularly fun for Exalted.

                    The Tags-only approach spends far more time on making weapons that should feel different feel different because it's not just futzing with the base numbers, but what the special effects each weapons ends up with.

                    Originally posted by Maseiken View Post
                    ... maybe having more charms that interact with tags would help, whether you went the Storypath Path or not?
                    It could certainly be a thing. Though it would really get in the way of the idea of opening up more space for mortal MA to be about parity with high quality weapons by gaining more Tags on unarmed attacks instead of just having a superior crafted sword for better Tags. The more interaction between Charms and Tags, the more Tags become redundant, difficult to balance, or hard to make relevant.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                      Chopping in a withering attack has incredibly poor math as the reduced defense and init cost do not justify the damage boosted. A mundane way to reduce Hardness on the other hand can turn a fighter from a non-threat to a danger so might actually be worth doing.
                      I sat down and tried to figure out what good Chopping was and the only things I came up with are if you somehow needed to do absolutely as much damage as possible and had a cheap/free way to ignore the defense penalty, or if you had a dice trick that was like "deal one level of lethal for every 10 in the withering roll." So then you'd want as many dice as possible, even at the cost of initiative gained.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        There’s also the +2 bonus to clash attacks for 2 handed weapons and dual wielding identical weapons, so that’s kind of fun. Heavy needs a boost though.
                        The two-handed tag is effectively such a boost for heavy weapons, as all the ones in the core have that tag. I mean, banking on clashes isn't as broadly useful as the blanket +1 to Defense, but the option is there as a fighting strategy.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Matt the Bruins fan View Post
                          The two-handed tag is effectively such a boost for heavy weapons, as all the ones in the core have that tag. I mean, banking on clashes isn't as broadly useful as the blanket +1 to Defense, but the option is there as a fighting strategy.
                          Actually come to think of it, clashing with a chopping or thrusting 2 hander in a duel or something where you’re not super likely to be attacked otherwise could be pretty good. The Defense penalty isn’t going to hurt so bad because you’re not really using it, and a chopping grand grimcleaver with 5 strength has a base damage of 22 before charms.

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                          • #14
                            There's still the problem that 1i for +3 dice that average you 1.5i back isn't really doing that much.

                            Someone with Strength 5 and a grand grimcleaver using the chopping ability vs. someone else with Stamina 5 and heavy artifact armor has a soak of 16... when the overwhelming on the weapon was already 5.

                            So if you ended up rolling base damage... with chopping you're getting 6 dice, without it you're getting 5... that's not really going to be worth it.

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                            • #15
                              Except it’s not just 1.5i back. It’s 1.5 withering damage. At bare minimum on a hit you’re both damaging their initiative and boosting yours, meaning that if you would’ve come within 2i of them without chopping, you’ve now overtaken them. It could also potentially contribute to crashing them.

                              It’s also a direct buff that, while small, could mean the difference between overtaking hardness and doing nothing,

                              That’s not like, world ending, but if you don’t have damage boosting charms it’s kind of Everything.

                              Even with them, +3 non charm bonus on withering is - like you’d take that charm. It wouldn’t blow your mind but you’d take it.
                              Last edited by Maseiken; 04-23-2019, 05:47 AM.

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