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Help me build a high-essence Dragonblood who can pull their weight in a mixed game

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  • Help me build a high-essence Dragonblood who can pull their weight in a mixed game

    Besides just being useful by virtue of not being an Anathema.

    Are there particular areas where DBs can shine as a niche in the party? Or particular builds which are OP, so can make them competitive with Solars?
    I don't need to be the most powerful character, just feel like I am pulling my weight.
    I should say that I also know how to brutally optimise stats, it's more the charms, as I'm not very familiar with DB charms. I just used them a bit when running a couple of Ess2 DB NPCs in my Lunar game.

    I play two different monthly games, though they're kind of on hiatus as we're instead doing 3 crossover games where PCs from different games have been mixed up in strange pocket dimensions. Then they'll be back, and I intend to do maybe a little more with each of my characters, but then retire them. They're just not very interesting characters, and one, the Lunar, has a build I find over-complicated.

    The essence 5 game I play has a super-tough, brilliant general; a Solar sorceress with a dragon; and 3 decent social characters.

    The essence 4 game has 2 sneaky Night wrestlers, a craftmaster Twilight, an Air immaculate master, an Appearance 8 Changing Moon, and a Raksha swordswoman.

    So, I was wondering idly about trying a DB (as I never have in 3rd ed). Do you think an evocation-wielding combat character could compete? Or are Investigation or Larceny or something particularly good? The e4 game already has an Immaculate master.
    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 08-13-2019, 10:51 AM.


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

  • #2
    "Pulling your weight" and being mechanically strong are two different things.

    What you want is to find a niche which is useful to the Circle and to fill that.

    Don't try to be Ten Winds.

    I'll do a proper side-by-side charm run down for you later in the areas I think Terrestrials shine. But off the top of my head, a Wood Aspect with plenty of Medicine, Performance and maybe WDS (maybe) would make a pretty good heal-bot (with Social and Combat options).


    Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.

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    • #3
      If you need raw power and a strong niche I recommend the flamethrower Sekhem. Its Evocations are strong by DB standards, and if the group fights a fire monster you will really shine (that thing eats the Volcanic Earthwalker for breakfast).

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      • #4
        Weirdly enough, I've found that it's not the weaker charms or smaller dice caps that make the bulk of the difference between DBs and Solars/Lunars: it's the smaller essence pools that really put them at a disadvantage.

        A good jade artifact is probably a must since Resonant Evocations are so good for DBs. Martial Arts, once you can ignore the Terrestrial keyword, offer a level of power a fair bit above non-sig native charms, particularly when it comes to defensive options (look at Bottomless Depths Defense, it's ridiculous). Sorcery is also a good way to close the gap: you can still do Celestial level workings just fine, they just might take you longer, and you can use them to enhance yourself in all manner of weird and unique ways, and most of the spells you use in combat are Emerald circle, so you really don't lose out to much compared to a higher circle sorcerer.

        Alternatively you could just stomp around on a warstrider or lead an army of supersoldiers or ride on top of a giant monster, etc. Something over the top like that.


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

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        • #5
          At a glance, War seems pretty neat for DB's, depending on your luck you can get some pretty nice dice explosions with one of the fire aspect war charms when you use order actions.
          Not to mention just how useful a free "reroll all sixes until they show up no more" bonus from the excellency is.
          Besides, when it comes to raw dice pool, it's only four dice less than a solar if you both have maxed out war+whathaveya+specialty+excellency.

          But I'm in no way an expert on third edition since sadly my one and only actual game of it was mortal...

          But yeah, the big downside to being a DB in a mixed group from my 2e experience is that you tend to become a "sidekick" more than a "main character" but you can become pretty damn useful since a lot of the dragon-blooded war charms are none stratagem charms.
          Essentially you can become a pretty damn fancy army champion as a DB.


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          • #6
            Socially, Dragon Bloods have some really good oomph, if you also look in their charmsets, they can actually accomplish a lot of what the E1-3 solar trees can do (stealing through a wall, speed up bureaucratic dealings, nullify certain senses from awareness rolls). The big difference is a lot of the solar trees are just "you spend motes and do the thing" while the DB trees tend to be more "you spend motes, make a roll, then do the thing". Also they tend to get those effects much later. Also sigs, nothing says a good social rebuttal like breathing fire as a retort.

            All that being said, I played a fire aspect swordswoman/social character in a group that was composed of a twilight, two zeniths, and an eclipse. This was prior to the official book dropping, when it was the KS manuscript still. So I was still down several charms. The success adding excellencies are very useful. In almost every non combat situation, just being able to buy one or two successes usually was better than dice. Being reliably above average was almost always better than trying to brute force an exceptional success.

            To put the character in perspective, she was a princess on the run from her kingdom after her uncle had killed the rest of her family and stolen the throne. She stole a family artifact and joined with the eclipse's circus. She hid in plain sight as the circus "dragon blood", learning to use smoke and mirrors to make it seem like she was a "fire aspect". She was but she was hiding as a human pretending to be a fire aspect.

            At no point in the game did I feel like I was holding folks back. I was able to provide good support in combat, I was able to, quite often get social situations to simmer down, and the character interaction between my character, the eclipse, and our survival supernal was wonderful.

            So basically either find a niche that's distinctly yours, look up ways you can be a solid support, or just screw it and have fun because trust me, you absolutely can have fun with it. I know its not much mechanically, but its actual play experience with a non optimized DB with a group of Solars. Never felt like I was the one holding people back.

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            • #7
              I'd ask the ST for a little concession like solaresque excellency gain, or "excellency xp cost is halved and starting charm picks get you two excellencies a pop", first of all.

              Second, I'd look at what stuff DB charms do that Solar charms might not. My favorite example is Wind-Carried Words, aka Glorious Terrestrial Cellphone. My DB found an Intimacy on a god with Read Intentions and sneakily wind-whispered it to the Zenith to let her yeet her social cannon at the god. It's subtler and cheaper than Infallible Messenger and its range gets quite decent as your Linguistics goes up.

              Also, some Bureaucracy stuff might fall outside Solar bounds? I'm not remembering great re: Solar bureaucracy.

              Most of all, your value may be in your greater ability to be openly Exalted than Solars or Lunars. While a DB doesn't have a free pass on everything, not having to worry about the Hunt coming down because you went glowy helps.


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              • #8
                Some interesting ideas here guys, thanks.

                Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                "Pulling your weight" and being mechanically strong are two different things.

                What you want is to find a niche which is useful to the Circle and to fill that.
                Yeah, I'm good with that, and that's generally how I've seen mixed games work best. But I don't want them thinking that they'd be way better off with another Solar or Lunar. For example, if I played a DB crafter in the game with no crafters, I think he might actually suck compared to my previous character who was a Crafter.

                Originally posted by Beans
                My favorite example is Wind-Carried Words
                On the subject of niches, yeah, no one in our group has good messenging powers. They mostly rely on a PCs' friends' bound demon's Spoke the Wooden Face, which obviously has its restrictions.

                That's the kind of charm I'm looking for, stuff that Solars and Lunars just can't do. But I don't know the 3rd ed book very well.

                Originally posted by JohnDoe
                Don't try to be Ten Winds.
                One of my friends is playing a disillusioned Air Aspect master of Immaculate martial arts (well, Air Dragon, Snake and Crane) who's joined the group to find out what Anathema are really like, so playing Ten Winds would look like I was copying him!

                Originally posted by JohnDoe
                I'll do a proper side-by-side charm run down for you later in the areas I think Terrestrials shine.
                If you don't mind, that'd be great.

                Originally posted by Epitome
                If you need raw power and a strong niche I recommend the flamethrower Sekhem.
                Sekhem does look pretty good.

                I looked at the other Jade weapons as well. I like the crossbow, but crossbows require reloading which is actually a big problem, and unlike firewands there's no charm to get round that. Mist Razor could be interesting for a Water ninja.* Sirrush I don't think is all that great, but I could be wrong. Gorgon I really like, and the Essence 5 power seems really good, but I'm not sure if the rest of it is that powerful. And I'd kind of feel I'd want to play an Earth aspect with it, though obviously you don't need to. What do you guys think of Gorgon, and earth-melee?

                *I see Water melee has some really good effects, but they also seem quite hard to pull off due to Aura stuff. Anyone given it a try?

                Originally posted by BadassOverlord
                Weirdly enough, I've found that it's not the weaker charms or smaller dice caps that make the bulk of the difference between DBs and Solars/Lunars: it's the smaller essence pools that really put them at a disadvantage.
                I can actually see that. You wouldn't want to be using loads of excellency dice even if you could, because you'd run out of motes. I also feel like some charms for DBs are quite expensive compared to the Solar equivalents, and I think they don't have as many charms for reducing mote costs.

                Also, for various reasons, I think DBs are generally going to have more artefacts than Solars or Lunars, which means more committed motes. Certainly, I'd want at least an artefact weapon for the Evocations, whereas my current E5 Full Moon and E4 Zenith don't have any artefacts.

                In 2nd ed, we just plugged a ton of Skinmount Amulets in and took loads of dots of Breeding, but you can't do that in 3rd ed (probably for the best).

                Originally posted by Xanroth
                At a glance, War seems pretty neat for DB's,
                Hmmm...
                One of the two games doesn't really feature War; the other has a Dawn with every single War charm in the book (and maybe also the ones from Miracles? Not sure). But I do see some stuff there that would be useful for a lieutenant in a battle.





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                My Exalted 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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                • #9
                  First of all, we have to see if the Storyteller will be flexible in allowing for the DB to get non-DBs as her Sworn Kin. This is a very empowering benefit for the DB's Charmset, so I'd recommend it strongly.

                  Awareness: Sense-Riding Technique: warg anyone, anytime. Sense-Destroying Method - Very nice debuff. One with Earth Entombment - You can get in places that would be hard for the Solars.
                  dodge - Virtuous Negation Offense - Reflexive Defend Other. Nice for High soak builds.
                  Linguistics: Wind Carried Words Technique - more efficient infallible messenger. Speech Without Words - Private Chat for the Group. With One Mind - great tactical benefits.
                  Lore: Dragon Vortex Attack - Who needs Solar Circle Sorcery?
                  War: The whole tree is very cool. IMO, it has better effects than we got in the Solar war charmset, since this one is complete.



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                  • #10
                    I find Exalted can be useful and pull their own wait in a Circle even if say less puissant in combat. After all every character has weak spots, so having more weak spots then others isn’t an issue.

                    You could be useful as a Terrestrial Sorcerer Specialist even if the whole circle was composed of Sapphire and Admant Circle members.

                    I find the Sensory and communication charms are also alluring in the potential for pretty much any group.


                    And we also have Evocations, which are unique by their very nature. Evocations can really anchor your utility to the group depending on their nature. Manipulating the Environment with Beneficial Mists and curious silk automatons are things found in the Artifacts displayed so far and they can be extrapolated upon. You could for instance be the Captain of a vessel of First Age or even Pre-Age of Man providence, imagine the Evocations such ships could have and what they were used for.


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                    • #11
                      Sail and ships is actually an area no-one has touched. One game is by a bunch of lakes which the Realm may soon be invading over, and the other has a big river, although we only use that for the occasional boat trip, nothing dramatic.

                      And, more generally, Water aspects' ability to do things on (or under) the water is something Solars are not very good at.

                      Sorcery I think could definitely work, as there's enough Terrestrial spells to take different ones to the other sorcerer. And people are right about how Terrestrial spells are still useful in high essence games. Plus DBs have some sorcery-buffing spells, especially for those that match your anima, like a Fire Aspect casting Flight of the Brilliant Raptor or whatever.

                      I think in a 250 or 450xp game though, 5-10 terrestrial spells and a shaping ritual is a fairly significant part of the character, but probably a secondary rather than primary focus.

                      Still, an artefact with evocations (maybe two), plus a bunch of spells, does cover a large portion of a character.


                      Avatar by Jen.
                      My Exalted 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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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BadassOverlord View Post
                        Alternatively you could just stomp around on a warstrider or lead an army of supersoldiers or ride on top of a giant monster, etc. Something over the top like that.
                        I should probably mention that I think this is a cool idea and would make a good niche. However my previous character was a warstrider pilot, and I found he hardly ever got to actually use his warstrider. Also, one of the other characters leads an army of supersoldiers (they're super-Djala warrior-monks grown in vats, basically they're Djala space marines) so that'd kind of take his mojo.

                        But a giant monster... hmmm... how do people rate the Dragonblood Familiar-enhancing and Ride charms?


                        Avatar by Jen.
                        My Exalted 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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                        • #13
                          So I wrote out a big long thing with a bunch of different charms like Falling Mountain Fang, which is the Earth melee signature that lets you weigh down opponent's weapons and armor and stuff, which is kind of unique, but I'm not sure how helpful that will end up being without knowing a bit more first.

                          In your Essence 4-5 games, is every player really combat capable? I ask because there's a certain type of charm, cap bursting attack/defense enhancers, that DBs don't really have. Solars and Lunars have them, and a lot of them are based on Essence so they become VERY good at high essence. What that means is that an ST who wants enemies to occasionally miss, or occasionally dodge, will generally be boosting attack and defense values on the monsters quite a bit.

                          If that's happening then a lot of your cool DB effects, especially the ones that key off decisive attacks, are going to be really hard to land. If the ST isn't doing that, and finding other ways to make combat interesting, then that opens up more options to do unique things which won't be as helpful as just being a Dawn but aren't useless either.


                          Also as to your comment about playing a DB crafter in a game with no crafters, at high essence especially, there really only tiny niches where the DBs can do anything that it wouldn't be better to be a celestial. Soaring Zephyr Flight lets a DB fly basically forever outside of combat, but Lunar shapeshifting does that, and Solars have charms for flight that are more mote expensive, but also work in combat. The only time you'd rather have Soaring Zephyr Flight is if you have to navigate a huge vertical maze where you can't touch the floors, walls or ceilings, and have to do some manipulation with hands along the way.

                          Then you've got charms like Rebirth of Flesh and Ivy, which is a powerful instant healing charm, but it's got nothing on Anointment of Miraculous Health, which is the same thing but cheaper, once/scene instead of once/story and more reliable. So if you have players at the table who know Solar medicine really well, and their being kind of jerks, there's going to be a lot of "You know, if you were a X you could have done Y instead..." If that's a risk and something you want to avoid there may be nothing you can do.


                          So I kind of need to know how willing you are to accept that and how crazy your ST is making challenges in the game. For example the DB familiar and ride charms are neat, like you can make a mount fly like Solars can, and you can kind of enhance the rolls of your familiar in combat. Eventually you can even cause a natural disaster to accompany you into battle, charging down a mountain at the head of a massive landslide that knocks enemies to the ground and buries them beneath the earth, but all of that pales in comparison to what Solars can do with ride.


                          EDIT: Also I don't want to seem like I'm ragging on DBs for sucking or anything. High essence DBs are incredibly powerful, it's just in this case there's a direct comparison to high essence Lunars/Solars going on, and in particular how effective they are.
                          Last edited by DrLoveMonkey; 08-13-2019, 05:46 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                            But a giant monster... hmmm... how do people rate the Dragonblood Familiar-enhancing and Ride charms?
                            The familiar dice adder (Cunning Beast-Mind Inspiration) and damage enhancer (Burning Fang Strike) are completely incompatible due to Aura, to start. The other two familiar Charms are okay.

                            I haven't looked much at the Ride Charms, but they seem alright. They're not very Aura-dependent, which is good for any combat build.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                              In your Essence 4-5 games, is every player really combat capable?
                              I'd say that in both games, there's 1-2 characters who are really good at combat, and everyone else is not very good for an Essence 4-5 Celestial... but, you know, pretty good at combat. 8-10 Dex+ability and a handful of combat charms.

                              I ask because there's a certain type of charm, cap bursting attack/defense enhancers, that DBs don't really have.
                              What do you mean?

                              how crazy your ST is making challenges in the game.
                              I'd say in the Essence 5 game the main challenge is that the PCs are terrible at working together, and in the Essence 4 game the main challenge is an investigation-based one, not a combat-based one. The e4 game is not very combat-heavy, and already includes an Immaculate master and 2 Solar wrestlers.
                              In the e5 game, the main antagonists are Ahlat and his circle of Exigents on one side, and the Realm on the other. So a deadly combat challenge is more likely to be an ambush by a group of Terrestrial-level antagonists when the other PCs aren't there because they're bickering, rather than a Celestial opponent.


                              Avatar by Jen.
                              My Exalted 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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