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Trying to get a sense of scale with exalted.

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  • Trying to get a sense of scale with exalted.

    So while there are many charms that explain part of what a character does and how insane and impressive it is, the difficulty scale only really goes up to 5 in terms of descriptions, and many exalted in their specialty *vastly* exceed that, so... what the hell does 21 successes *mean?* What can that do? Hear the shifting of tectonic plates? Leap 10 stories? In combat it's fairly well explained, but for some of the others it's harder.

  • #2
    I think its better to ask where you are applying those 21 sux. That number is only imperative as the action its trying to accomplish.


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    • #3
      Beyond 5, it's often "Narrative fiat, within plausible (for what plausible matters with 21 freaking successes) grounds". Leaping 10 stories is the territory of Charms, I doubt any number of successes will let you do that, BUT, the jump could be incredibly successful, getting to the first or second story and granting you a large circumstantial bonus to the next roll or avoiding penalties that would have happened otherwise. If you wanna go weirder, you could make the story's progression or events go more in favor of the person who got that ungodly amount of successes (the guards show up late, there's a conveniently open window they can infiltrate instead of climbing the rest of the building, etc). It's an informal fiat way to go about it but I guess it's better than treating 21 successes the same as 5 successes.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by PixelPuzzler View Post
        what the hell does 21 successes *mean?*
        That you rolled a dice pool in which the odds of getting less than five successes was phenomenally low.


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        • #5
          Borrowing from another game, the 21 successes mean nothing, unless you make them mean something. Just rolling good doesn't mean anything unless you force yourself to need to roll that good.
          In other words, you have set your difficulty at 5 successes, taken all penalties into account (which you can even make up for yourself if you want), and rolled. You beat your task difficulty and succeed. Unless your task was something that counts up successes for the result, all the extra successes are just that, extra. That is the result of a succeed/fail test. You might get a cool description out of it, but really all you needed was 5 successes, and you got the number you needed plus some extra.

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          • #6
            High successes can accomplish something truly unlikely, but the feat must still be physically possible. Something like leaping 10 stories will require Charms.

            The scaling of what you can accomplish tends to plateau around 10, which would represent a deed impressive enough that it could be the single greatest accomplishment of a mortal spoken of in legends (but still only a mortal).

            Beyond 10, it's really more about overcoming supernatural obstacles or outperforming your fellow Exalts.

            If you get more than 10 successes on a mundane task, then it can be represented with added style and finesse as opposed to raw strength. If 10 successes would let you lift a boulder, then 20 successes would not let you lift 2 boulders, but it might let you lift that one boulder with 1 hand.

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            • #7
              So to answer this I'm going to present how I ended mastering the game considering the difficulty system and what problems I faced, and what decisions I chosed to make to solve them.

              First of all, I downgraded all Stunts by 2 dices, making Stunt level 1 non existent. Most of my players describe what they do in a satisfactory way, so I don't feel the need to reward they description for "baseline" description, and doing a level 2 or 3 Stunt still gives you a meaningful impact mechanically (and obviously a fun time listening to the description). I did it considering the following elements :
              - Level 1 Stunt really slows down the game for me, because I was not use to award it, and the players waiting or asking if he has the stunt, or the forgetting of the stunt retroactively added, etc ... just for what is considered "standard description" what a huge hassle to me, and break the flow of my thoughts as a ST or the concentration of the players that already have a lot to take into account.

              - It's really easy to adjustate because you basically just need to move most of the difficulty scale accordingly, and discuss with your players solutions for special cases (difficulty 1 roll for example), but it's generally not that hard. I consider the time saved during the game by doing it way more valuable and better use (in other descriptions, RP, etc ...) that the time lost by my precedent point.

              - It allows to reduce the quantity of dice rolled by a little margin, and the difficulty faced by a little margin, which I appreciate as well. I don't have a problem rolling a lot of dices (it's Exalted after all), but I consider this sort of little dice trick annoying when they are supposed to happen at every roll, but are actually only awarded by conscious effort of the ST.


              Following this, many thoughts and problems I encountered with the difficulty system :

              - I believe some descriptions of difficulty were confusing to players, or at least to some of them, and induced bias of establishing the scale of difficulty between different players (ST included). Less problematic description example I think would be : stealing a gem inside a nest of serpents without being bitten. It gives enough context (serpents are implicitly normal serpents, the gem has no unusual properties, and there is enough to care about with the given description that you don't have to wonder too much about the rest of the context). But other examples were more confusing, not only to me but also to other players I had the opportunity to discuss with. For example : removing the patient appendix without killing him. I must mention that I am French (now you can read all my posts with a lovingly cute French accent), so I may not be aware about a special English-speaking expression, but to me this means a really invasive chirurgical operation with many complications possible, and that only few people in the world are able to do without mistake. Seeing this as a difficulty 1 roll, the lowest difficulty possible, did really not help me to figure out a coherent difficulty scale. Lockpicking as another example for difficulty 1, was not as problematic but still proved confusing to different players : To me it's clear it means lockpicking some random chest (the leader of a small village guarding his secrets for example), but it's totally obvious to me that the chest to an important palace in a big city is rather a difficulty 3, and I wouldn't mind making a difficulty 4-5 if the owner of the Palace was any kind of Exalted or had contacts among the Realm or Ressources, whereas to other players it would obviously be a difficulty 2, or at best 3, because it's a difficulty 1 action (lockpicking) with 1 added keyword (of quality). I believe this kind of confusion appears because contrary to the other examples of the snakes, there is a lot more room for interpretation, so different players will obviously interpret the descriptions differently.

              - The difficulties caping at 5 were also confusing. Especially since some of them are magical in nature, and so I didn't expect even the best mortals to be able to confront them without a good load of luck, but the system says the contrary. (Ex : Silent Wind of Hell, that I expect to find, well in the dangerous placed of Hell difficulty 4). This leads to Exalted confronting a Creation that, in it's "natural phenomenas", are not really challenging. Since there is absolutely no rules or guidelines whatsoever for how to conceive harder challenges during a non-Fight type of situation, and that there is no intent explained for these design choices, I had a hard time figuring out how to appropriate those rules.

              All this to finally explain how I personally handle the "scale" of the difficulties :

              - Anything that I expect a human would be able to do, I put between 1 and 5.

              - Anything I wouldn't expect a human to do, I put between 6 and 10. In this category I also place everything that could be created by a somewhat powerful entity, that I don't think a human should be able to pass when it's not narratively important than a human passes it. For example navigating the flaming jungles in the wake of Saa'n, the Volcano God who settled its Eternal Arena of Glory inside the volcano that he set upon the Titanesque Turtle of Magma Guulmesh, set difficulties of Survival for about 7. Following the regular system, I think one would expect to put it at difficulty 4 or 5 at best (navigating a jungle in flame seems about what a human could do), but considering these flames are created by the workings of an Ancient Solar who decided to bestow himself Immortal Glory in Eternal Battle, I'm fine making them harder in context of who created them, and not only what they are.

              Finally, anything that is beyond 10 (with some exceptions I guess most non-confrontational tasks are at best difficulty 10), everything is a matter of confrontation. Tracking someone is your survival against their survival, and if it's 18 vs 19, well it's totally crazy, but it doesn't break creation apart my sheer power. If your players want to do lots of successes, let them waste their Essences : It's what they call "Essence Fever" after all

              The difficulty to me what to find a good balance between number of rolls and quality of description of challenges. A simple example would be : For example : Climb a mountain. Maybe because it's not narratively important, you might just say "Yeah it's difficulty 3 extended roll terminus 5 and you must gather 20 successes", the guy roll 23 successes and it's over in a over the top description. Or he takes 2-3 rolls, and you have the opportunity to ask for some cool descriptions as well "After a long climb for the first hundred meters, you got to dodge some Wyld cows that are eating there" and the player ask "Hey I have a bit of Survival/Ride may I ride one of them to go a bit faster ?" and you say "Hey neat trick here is your Stunt level 2 get one WP and only 1 success bonus because remember I don't use the usual Stunt System because it makes the system simpler amInotrightlads ?" and there he goes. Or maybe it's an important mountain and you got something prepared here (the exact same size than the other, but it has few narratives interests), and so you say "Do me a difficulty 6 Athletics" - "26 wow I love this game" - " Well you happen to find traces that might lead to a secret temple, and ..."

              Here were my long 50 cents, I hope it could help at least somebody.

              Little edit because I realised the response to the original poster was not clear : Non-confronting 11+ successes do the job, with style if you want, but does not give more, except in situations in which it would be boring to not overdo the job in description (which I believe is kinda rare). In confronting non-combat situation, well it's fun descriptions and mainly forget the scale for 11+, let them do fun while it does not break the limitations set by the rules (you can't solve the murder of Ra-Zoah the Wise because you rolled 24 successes on survival to escape the 12 successes of the Wyld Hunt tracking you)
              Last edited by Chausse; 06-18-2019, 02:17 PM.

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              • #8
                I think a nice part of Storypath is that when you have these monumental success totals you can put them towards future actions in a direct mechanical fashion instead of just as a ST adjudicated bonus.

                I don't have a handy example for something you could do with all those extra successes on jumping high, other than stringing along a rope or some other tangentially related activity ( the example in the Storypath books is something to the effect of snipping the barbed wire when you successfully scale the fence to make it easier for your group).


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                  That you rolled a dice pool in which the odds of getting less than five successes was phenomenally low.
                  Pretty much this.

                  Incredible things past difficulty 5 are the purview of charms, like how Unsurpassed Sight Discipline can let you spot a field mouse from a mile away. The only system that I think the game has for going past difficulty 5 is the Feats of Strength system, and even that is capped by your actual strength value, which past 5 can really only be raised by charms that specifically do that.

                  Otherwise those giant dicepools only exist so that you can reliably do difficulty 5 tasks while in the worst conditions, or in cases where you make opposed rolls, like combat.

                  It's somewhat less obvious for Solars, because their charms usually are direct continuations from what you might expect a difficulty 5 task to be. Like how the first Linguistics charm, Whirling Brush Method, can let a Solar with an ink brush record conversations as fast as a professional stenographer. It's much more obvious with Dragonblooded, who's first linguistics charm lets them whisper a phrase into the wind and deliver it miles away. Funnily enough, both of those things are likewise impossible with mere buckets of dice.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                    Pretty much this.

                    Incredible things past difficulty 5 are the purview of charms, like how Unsurpassed Sight Discipline can let you spot a field mouse from a mile away. The only system that I think the game has for going past difficulty 5 is the Feats of Strength system, and even that is capped by your actual strength value, which past 5 can really only be raised by charms that specifically do that.

                    Otherwise those giant dicepools only exist so that you can reliably do difficulty 5 tasks while in the worst conditions, or in cases where you make opposed rolls, like combat.

                    It's somewhat less obvious for Solars, because their charms usually are direct continuations from what you might expect a difficulty 5 task to be. Like how the first Linguistics charm, Whirling Brush Method, can let a Solar with an ink brush record conversations as fast as a professional stenographer. It's much more obvious with Dragonblooded, who's first linguistics charm lets them whisper a phrase into the wind and deliver it miles away. Funnily enough, both of those things are likewise impossible with mere buckets of dice.
                    I’d add it can make extended rolls more trivial, since even at difficulty 5 ranking up the needed successes can be tricky.


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                    • #11
                      Or 21 successes in performance probably means you have the ear of everyone who can hear your voice. If we want to go to more social based rolls. It means, barring charms for unnatural mental influence, that you are extraordinarily persuasive.

                      Heck, if it were a prayer roll to the Unconquered Sun, that might be enough successes for him to raise his eyebrow at you while he looks away from his games for maybe 30 seconds.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Uknown DarkLord View Post

                        Heck, if it were a prayer roll to the Unconquered Sun, that might be enough successes for him to raise his eyebrow at you while he looks away from his games for maybe 30 seconds.
                        Ok, guys, let´s not get crazy here



                        :P

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Uknown DarkLord View Post
                          Or 21 successes in performance probably means you have the ear of everyone who can hear your voice. If we want to go to more social based rolls. It means, barring charms for unnatural mental influence, that you are extraordinarily persuasive.

                          Heck, if it were a prayer roll to the Unconquered Sun, that might be enough successes for him to raise his eyebrow at you while he looks away from his games for maybe 30 seconds.
                          That was actually what happened in a short campaign I did. Some asshole decided to cheat on an Eclipse contract to let us go with their slaves in exchange of an end for the civil war. The land was destroyed by solar vengeance, and ashes rained from the skies for multiple month. After an epic quest to assemble components to make a ritual of veneration for the sun, and beg him to let us live from the earth that was damned by the malevolence of our ennemies, and a huge roll of performance, the sky opened again and dissipated the cloud of ashes. Was fun

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PixelPuzzler View Post
                            So while there are many charms that explain part of what a character does and how insane and impressive it is, the difficulty scale only really goes up to 5 in terms of descriptions, and many exalted in their specialty *vastly* exceed that, so... what the hell does 21 successes *mean?* What can that do? Hear the shifting of tectonic plates? Leap 10 stories? In combat it's fairly well explained, but for some of the others it's harder.
                            You either succeed or you don't. Aside from extended rolls (let's include combat in that), bonus successes don't do anything.As DrLoveMonkey says, it's so you can succeed the hardest tasks in the most difficult circumstances reliably. I'd go one further and just let the player spend the motes and succeed without rolling most of the time.

                            If you're trying to pick a lock, you either open the lock or you don't. A normal lock made by an average locksmith might be difficulty 1, while a magic lock created by a demi-god from a bygone age might be difficulty 5. Without a very good reason, I wouldn't put a Difficulty above 5 -- if it can't be done with five successes then it can't be done (without using magic).

                            Conceptually, leaping ten stories or hearing tectonic plates move might be difficulty 20, but I straight up wouldn't allow a roll unless you had some kind of magic (not an Excellency) to facilitate it. And if you do have such magic, chances are the difficulty is going to be lower.

                            21 successes should be ridiculous overkill. (Or massive unprecidented progress on an extended roll.)


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PixelPuzzler View Post
                              So while there are many charms that explain part of what a character does and how insane and impressive it is, the difficulty scale only really goes up to 5 in terms of descriptions, and many exalted in their specialty *vastly* exceed that, so... what the hell does 21 successes *mean?* What can that do? Hear the shifting of tectonic plates? Leap 10 stories? In combat it's fairly well explained, but for some of the others it's harder.

                              If you're playing 2.5 and doing social combat, then for every 3 successes above the target's mdv the target has to pay an additional willpower to resist. So if the target has an mdv of 7, then that is 4 willpower that the target has to spend to resist if it is natural mental influence.

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