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What combat builds have you found the most fun?

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  • Tymeaus Jalynsfein
    replied
    Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
    Ah, so you can switch between different fighting styles depending on what's most appropriate?
    Yes, Exactly... Is a totally awesomely fun character...
    Of course, I am trying to complete all 4 Martial arts (with the desire for one or two more eventually, but that takes time and commitment... but the character will eventually get there. Still working on his investigative abilities/charms to help root out that evil that he hunts.

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  • The Wizard of Oz
    replied
    Ah, so you can switch between different fighting styles depending on what's most appropriate?

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  • Tymeaus Jalynsfein
    replied
    So...
    My Current Character is a Mystic Martial Artist (Illuminated Monk). Has an Artifact That can be either a Reaper Daiklave (Medium), Reaper Grand Daiklave (Heavy) or Spear (Medium or Heavy). Those are it only real abilities, but work for me. He also has Silken Armor, and a Paired Flamepiece Artifact. He is a Dawn Cast (Mixed into Eclipse with Cast Favored abilities or just additional Abilitiy expenditures) who seeks out and destroys creatures of darkness/demons and protect the innocent (Part of his immaculate Faith coming forward).

    His only 5 Dot Ability is Martial Arts (Single Point Shining), and he has no stats at 5. His Melee Abilities (Melee 4) with Minimal Melee Charms (1st 3 Charms, plus Call Blade and Summon the Loyal Steel); He is a Martial Artist with Single Point (through the 1st 7 Charms), White Reaper (Through the Form +1), Golden Janissary (Through the Form), and Righteous Devil (1st 2 Charms). He has a scattering of other charms (2 Awareness, 4 Occult, Celestial Sorcery, 2 Ox Body, and several other Charms scattered around).

    He is a TON of fun to play. Especially since when he was created, My GM could not decide which Caste to make him (he made the majority of our characters to keep the game under wraps - polled us for character answers to questionnaire (I had a stupidly awesome detailed write-up to his questions) then made from our notes, provided a smattering of final points to customize) so I often vacillate between Dawn and Eclipse Rolls as the Itinerant Monk that tries to Negotiate until things potentially fall apart, then confronts them martially if necessary.

    We have a great group.
    Last edited by Tymeaus Jalynsfein; 09-11-2019, 04:38 PM.

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  • The Wizard of Oz
    replied
    I suppose alpha strikes are quite appropriate for a javelin front-liner.


    Anyone used any Lunar combat builds? How did you find them? I know prototype00 mentioned ones he's made, but I'm wondering what stuff people have actually tried, and how fun did you find it?

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  • JohnDoe244
    replied
    Originally posted by satoshi View Post

    Basically. Solar Thrown is really good if you want to build a sneaky ninja. It is not actually good at making you better at damaging enemies with thrown weapons without ninja tactics. On one hand I appreciate that different abilities work differently, but I wish there was some thrown charms that were more generally useful without limiting you to a playstyle that may not fit the character. Maybe I want a viking-inspired axe-thower or a caber-tosser, these are both uses of thrown that the core doesn't really support. Ideally I would want something like 10% of any combat tree to be pretty generic useful stuff, and the other 90% that leads towards a specific strategy which would increase viable builds.
    General Effectiveness
    Precision of the Striking Raptor
    Angle-Tracing Edge
    Triple Distance Attack Technique
    Cascade of Cutting Terror
    Shower of Deadly Blades
    Fiery Solar Chakram
    Shadow Wind Slash (Shadow Wind Kill) [the prereqs are ninja tricks]
    Cutting Circle of Destruction [the prereqs are ninja tricks]

    Alpha Strikes
    Steel Storm Descending
    Flashing Draw Mastery
    Swarm-Culling Instinct
    Shrike Saving Discretion

    Debuffs
    Joint-Wounding Attack

    "Ninja Tricks" that aren't useful to Axe Throwers
    Mist on Water Attack
    Observer-Deceiving Attack
    Flying Steel Ruse
    Empty Palm Technique
    Fallen Weapon Deflection
    Mist-Gathering Practice
    Crimson Razor Wind
    Sharp Hand Feint
    Shadow Thrust Spark
    Savage Wolf Attack
    Falling Icicle Strike

    11 out of 24 Charms aren't ninja tricks. Thrown has a LOT of ninja tricks, but it's not 90%. (Likewise the Charms in Miracles are only 3/6 "ninja tricks".)

    Javelin front liners, hatchetmen, caber tossers are all supported by Solar Thrown. Bonus Accuracy, more Range, more damage works for everyone.

    You've got two lines in Thrown:

    1. Attack from Stealth, disarming and distracting ninja style.

    2. Soften targets with penalties whilst you move up for the kill.

    2 syngergises with 1 really well. But it ALSO syngergises really well with Melee, or even works on its own.
    Last edited by JohnDoe244; 09-06-2019, 08:27 AM.

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  • satoshi
    replied
    Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
    Was it just because the damage was too low then? Thrown looks like it has some interesting effects, but other than Thrown/Stealth, I'm not sure if it's any good.
    .
    Basically. Solar Thrown is really good if you want to build a sneaky ninja. It is not actually good at making you better at damaging enemies with thrown weapons without ninja tactics. On one hand I appreciate that different abilities work differently, but I wish there was some thrown charms that were more generally useful without limiting you to a playstyle that may not fit the character. Maybe I want a viking-inspired axe-thower or a caber-tosser, these are both uses of thrown that the core doesn't really support. Ideally I would want something like 10% of any combat tree to be pretty generic useful stuff, and the other 90% that leads towards a specific strategy which would increase viable builds.

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  • Sorcerous Overlord
    replied
    Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
    Interesting tactic, why does he do that?
    Because he's crazy. Lol.

    Captain Bael's player loves pirates, so he took inspiration from One Piece, AC Black Flag, and Samurai Champloo. He really likes the idea of being a roughneck who can beat people senseless and also a swordsmaster- very Conan or Heracles there.

    In combat, Captain Bael could not be more different than his Sorcerer ally, Forgotten Stairwell (the Tank). Bael practically races his opponents to their own deaths and counts on them dying first, against boss fights he usually gets crushed because he has (deliberately) neglected his defenses. However, he does Far and Away the most damage of the Team. He likes being Zoro and taking massive wounds in a reckless razor edge duel. The grapple gambit is a really strong opener for that- he can rush into combat and grappleslam most enemies because they aren't as good at wrestling as he is, its a weakspot not a lot of gods/exalts protect. After that, its proper duel time (and he has a big advantage in health and wound penalties). It also helps that he has a sail charm that gives him crazy hp, which is boosted because he made his ship into an artifact.

    Stairwell the Sorcerer has Bronze Body as his control charm, Stam 4 Res 4 and 4 ox bodies. He also has an artifact sword that lets him attack out to medium range and sword spam enemies Gilgamesh style (these cost a custom resources called Blood Points. They cost 1 and 2 respectively, out of 4). His Otter is more or less a Tyrant Lizard but cute, its half divine between a Sea Goddess and a Sea Otter, so it has some magic tricks based on water. But basically it has high Soak and Hardness and so does he, and they both have truckloads of health. Stairwell does Blade Spam on small groups, DoOB on big groups, and medium range slash on single targets. He plays very defensively, and his otter seldom leaves his side except by command. Getting through a Tyrant Lizard to attack a Bronzed Melee Medium Range swordsman is a difficult task, especially when Bael is there trying to decapitate you.

    They make a very Hammer and Anvil pair. I joked that if they ever fought it would just be to see if Bael could kill Stairwell in the first decisive, because if not then the remaining rounds are just a formality of Stairwell and Meatbun (the Otter) slowly cutting Bael down to death.

    The archer unfortunately passed away, and his character went off on her own adventure. But while he was with us, his archer used elementals as bodyguards Defend Othering him and he used archery charms to pick off vulnerable targets. He even used Craft to straight Loony Tunes a Deathknight into a golden pyramid protected by a Solar Ghost, which was a thing i have to live with now.

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  • The Wizard of Oz
    replied
    Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post
    He usually leads with a Grapple gambit and immediately turns that into damage, then busts out the katana.
    Interesting tactic, why does he do that?

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  • Sorcerous Overlord
    replied
    Well since this thread jumped off there rail into a discourse on the nature of minmax, let me go back to the original question: Fun combat builds.

    I've only ST'ed for 3e, but here are my players: the Pirate Captain, the Sorcerer Tank, and the Atheist Archer Engineer.

    Pirate Captain is an Eclipse-Sail mix of Grapple Brawl, Single Point, and War. He commands a hardcore badass legion of unstoppable pirates- these thugs held off an army of Mortwrights in the dark. He usually leads with a Grapple gambit and immediately turns that into damage, then busts out the katana.

    Sorcerer Tank is a Twilight-Occult Sorcerer with Bronze Body and a decent investment in Melee. he has a 3 dot Familiar Otter Water Demigod, which has its own cult. The two of them are virtually unkillable with Soak and Health levels.

    The Archer Engineer Twilight-Craft makes Siege weapons and crossbows, while hiding behind her Elemental bodyguards who exclusively throw themselves in front of any attacks directed at her. Also very hard to kill. Also doesn't believe in the gods, but has met several of them, because she's crazy.

    I did make a Twilight Craft Sorcerer with Melee, Demon Summoning, and Artifact Forging. Bronze Body + Demon Bodyguards + Melee + Resistance = Combat Hilarity.

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  • Chausse
    replied
    Well thanks I would not have thought of converting XP to BP in play but rather the opposite, but I think your system makes sense so I'll certainly try it.

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  • JohnDoe244
    replied
    Originally posted by Chausse View Post

    I'm curious : Could you present your houserule ? I'm starting to think I would like one because I don't really like Character Creation but I haven't started to fix it so I'd be interested what other people might propose
    Sure:

    Whenever a character would earn XP they gain an equal amount of BP instead. (So generally, 5BP per session.) You advance your character using the character creation BP costs. Should something not have a BP cost (something you could only buy with XP, like Latent abilities), then you pay it 1-for-1 with BP. Should something have a cost in XP or BP, then always use the BP cost.

    Whenever any character would earn Solar XP then all PCs (whether the player is present or not) gain half (round up) that amount in Solar BP to a max of 4 Solar BP per session. Solar BP are Bonus Points which can be spent on anything but (you guessed it) Solar Charms.

    You hit increased Essence at the normal thresholds.

    Characters advance faster (new Charm every session instead of every other session, take an ability to 5 in two sessions instead of 4), but with less wonk at character creation: a fair trade in my book. (Plus training times help keep things in line.) Characters are still incentivised to buy non-favoured Charms with their default allowance, but I like that motivation to start play with well rounded characters. You also get a wider base of powers before hitting each Essence threshold, which also helps round characters out, but you hit the Essence thresholds after the same number of sessions.

    Doesn't directly fix the Dex 5/Wits 5 problem. But faster advancement means more scope to buy Charms that alter your essential pools, and means you're not punished for buying upto 5 in play.

    I love math, but BP is less fiddly than scaling XP costs, which can cause confusion. Alternatively, you could not give characters any free dots/charms/BP and give them ~700XP to build their character. But that causes crazy wonk -- you're making the CC-minigame worse.
    Last edited by JohnDoe244; 09-05-2019, 04:00 AM.

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  • The Wizard of Oz
    replied
    I solved it by running an all-Lunar game.
    Totally fixed the borked character gen system. No problems. All the characters are balanced; one character is totally built for combat, but this gives him other weaknesses. No-one feels to me like they've "won" or "lost" character gen. Works great.

    Originally posted by Jancarius
    In my experience, optimized characters are fun when everyone at the table has about the same level of optimization. What's not fun is when one guy shows up, throws 20 dice at something out the gate, and the rest of the party is like "uh, here's my 10 dice."
    Yeah, that's fair. Not exactly easy to ensure though.

    Originally posted by The MG
    For me, that one extra Brawl Charm is so much more fun and satisfying to have than just bigger numbers. The numbers say nothing, while the Charm can add a whole new dimension to a character.
    Sure... but you can buy the Brawl charm later for 8xp, whereas 3 (5 with excellency) more dice is going to cost you 17xp. At character creation they're the same. If it was a choice between Brawl 3 and a charm or Brawl 5 and no charm I'd agree, but you get loads of charms at character creation anyway. Without spending freebies, you don't get any high numbers at all.

    Originally posted by JohnDoe244
    Don't hate the playa. I, personally, begged Holden not to include the CC-minigame.
    Yeah, me too. Though like you, I have found a solution.

    They're fun because of the illusion of risk.
    Well yeah. It feels risky because my character might lose a limb. It's an illusion because it's just a game and even if he dies, I can just make a new character who'll probably have a similar amount of xp.

    The CC-minigame is a pain, and I wish it didn't exist (I houserule it away). But it's not an argument against optimization.
    It's an argument for everyone optimising to a similar level. Except that's actually really hard to do (how do you measure it?), so it's a better argument to have a better character creation system. But as discussed, both of us have found solutions to that.

    Behemoths. Third Circle Demons. Ahlat.
    There's rules for a handful of behemoths,* no Third Circle Demons, and you can only fight Ahlat a handful of times before it's enough.

    I mean, actually Ahlat is one of the primary antagonists of our game, but in 35 sessions or whatever it is, we've fought him once (and the Dawn will duel him again soon). You can't just fight Ahlat all the time.

    *My ST promised me we could fight him and we still haven't. I think it's because he finds behemoth-plot dull.

    Or even regular mortals. Your Solar can eat an optimized Dragon-Blooded swordfighter for breakfast. How does she deal with the Dragon-Blooded, her retainer-level mortal lieutenant chucking poison javelins and her Size 5 Elite Legion?
    By bringing the rest of the circle?

    Sure you can kill one Dragon-Blooded. Can you kill four?

    Action economy is king.
    And I'll be honest, I actually would put money on our Dawn with basically every Resistance charm and heavy artefact armour against 4 Dragonbloods. I wouldn't say he'd definitely win, but he's got a good chance.

    Our ST has sometimes ambushed PCs by themselves with multiple Dragonblood, which is a good strategy, but it just doesn't make sense for them to do it a lot. The story has to make sense or it stops being fun.

    when I've been asked to tone down my optimized characters, they've turned out boring to play as I couldn't achieve anything.
    I've found the issue about being asked to tone down optimised characters is... how much do you tone it down? Everyone has different standards. I made a character for a PbP game once with 3 or 4 abilities at 5, and the ST was like "how does your backstory explain being one of the best in the world at 4 different abilities" and I was like "well tbh I've got 15 freebies, what else am I going to do with all of the bloody things?"

    But anyhow. It sounds like both you and me have actually solved this issue in our own games (you with a houserule, me with no Solars), so I'm not sure it matters that much.

    So shall we get back to which builds are fun to play?

    Originally posted by satoshi
    [Solar Twilight] Thrown / Combat sorcery: This one didn't work out too well, even after home-brewing some charms to add withering damage to thrown attacks.
    Was it just because the damage was too low then? Thrown looks like it has some interesting effects, but other than Thrown/Stealth, I'm not sure if it's any good.
    Originally posted by satoshi
    Melee looks good if somewhat boring.
    That's my experience.

    Silver Voiced Nightingale looks like fun, chaining threats into attacks and back is useful and allows for some fun stunts.
    Hmmm, that's kind of interesting.

    Single Point Shining into the Void: Too OP to actually be fun.
    I found Single Point a bit overcomplicated, but with some cool stuff. Interestingly, the double-attacks, which should be amazing, never lasted long because the "extra attack" always got crashed; which is very good because that's not you being crashed. But anyway, not how I expected.

    Brawl looks like a ton of fun, but also requires Resistance or Dodge or some other defensive ability.
    Dodge I think is quite straightforward; it has a lot of permanent charms. And Resistance is straightforward too. So I don't think they deplete from the fun of Brawl, other than in terms of XP spent I guess.

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  • Chausse
    replied
    Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post

    Don't hate the playa. I, personally, begged Holden not to include the CC-minigame. XP is so easily replaced with BP.

    But if someone who wants to be a good swordfighter takes three dots in Brawl and one dot in Melee, then it's not my fault that my 5/5/1 swordfighter is better than theirs. The CC-minigame is a pain, and I wish it didn't exist (I houserule it away).
    I'm curious : Could you present your houserule ? I'm starting to think I would like one because I don't really like Character Creation but I haven't started to fix it so I'd be interested what other people might propose

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  • Jancarius
    replied
    In my experience, optimized characters are fun when everyone at the table has about the same level of optimization. What's not fun is when one guy shows up, throws 20 dice at something out the gate, and the rest of the party is like "uh, here's my 10 dice." You then get a scenario where either the optimized character is a walking "I win" button, or the weaker characters get obliterated.

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  • JohnDoe244
    replied
    Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
    Some points:

    a) Having a character who's not that great at the thing they're supposed to be good at is really frustrating.

    b) Exalted is fun because it's big and dramatic and the characters are powerful and influential. But being powerful and influential in the game isn't quite the same as having enormous stats, because it's what happens with the stats that matters. Having 20 melee charms isn't what makes you the greatest swordsman, beating the other swordsmen in combat is.
    I agree on both counts. (With the caveat that scaling is important and, generally, having those Charms is how you beat those swordsfighters.) Certainly it's possible to over-spec, and it's the story which is the interesting part of the game.

    c) Having a character who's very powerful... and then realising someone else has a character who's way better at the thing you wanted because they're better at the character creation mini-game is really irritating.
    Don't hate the playa. I, personally, begged Holden not to include the CC-minigame. XP is so easily replaced with BP.

    But if someone who wants to be a good swordfighter takes three dots in Brawl and one dot in Melee, then it's not my fault that my 5/5/1 swordfighter is better than theirs. The CC-minigame is a pain, and I wish it didn't exist (I houserule it away). But it's not an argument against optimization.

    e) Combat is fun because it's risky.
    Rollercoasters aren't fun because they're risky. You're not going to die on Space Mountain.

    They're fun because of the illusion of risk.

    The art of stoytelling is to convey the feeling that everything hangs on a razor's edge... when really we're talking about pencil dots on a sheet of paper. And even if you're going to win a combat, there's plenty you can do to keep the tension up: starting with putting innocent bystanders in danger and working up.

    A point was made about the ST scaling up antagonists to fit your abilities. But this isn't always possible because of the plot, or because you're a bloody Solar with Supernal whatever and are literally one of the best at it in the world, so he can challenge you?
    Behemoths. Third Circle Demons. Ahlat.

    Or even regular mortals. Your Solar can eat an optimized Dragon-Blooded swordfighter for breakfast. How does she deal with the Dragon-Blooded, her retainer-level mortal lieutenant chucking poison javelins and her Size 5 Elite Legion?

    Sure you can kill one Dragon-Blooded. Can you kill four?

    Action economy is king.

    f) Every single time I've made a character because I thought that character would be really good mechanically, or decided to tweak my concept slightly because it makes me way more powerful... that character has been quite boring to play and I wished I'd done it differently.
    Thanks for sharing your personal experience. In my experience, when I've been asked to tone down my optimized characters, they've turned out boring to play as I couldn't achieve anything.

    So my overall conclusion has been that the best way to do things is come up with a really cool and interesting and fun concept, and then build that concept in an optimal way. For example, spend freebies to get Brawl 5 (+1 specialty), not Brawl 3 and an extra Brawl charm.

    But absolutely do not go "hmmm, actually my Zenith Brawler could be a Dawn Brawler and they have better anima powers" or "my idea was for a total badass that is also dumb as ****, but it's actually easy to build one who's pretty bright and he'll need it for Join Battle, so actually I should take Wits 5" because then you will find your character is dull as white bread and you don't enjoy it.
    This I also agree with.

    ****

    Originally posted by The MG View Post
    Though, now I have a question: what do you consider to be an optimized character? We might very well have different definitions.
    Tell:

    An optimized character is the best that character can be.

    This has two components. The first is mathematical: the so-called character creation mini-game is primarily mathmatical. If a 2-dot ability costs 1BP or 1XP whilst a 5-dot ability costs 1BP or 7XP then the character who spends XP on 2s and BP on 5s is more optimized than the character that does this in reverse. Additionally, some Charms are mathematically poor: Battle-Dancer Method adds 2 (no more, no less) to your Defence for 4m as a Charm bonus, just use the Excellency (even Shadow Over Day saves you upto 2m). (If you want Mighty Thew, buy it at character creation.)

    In Dragon-Blooded, the difference between a perfectly optimized and completely suboptimal character is 276XP. Don't flush 30 sessions of XP down the toilet -- build intelligently.

    The second component is the metagame: you don't want Sail unless your game is set on a ship, then you REALLY want Sail. You want to take the abilities that your character is going to find useful. Want a swordsfighter? Max out Awareness. Want a Crafter? Performance 3 is your friend. Playing a game of politics and intrigue? Socailize 5. And I'll Form The Head? Socailize 0. You always want Dexterity 5 and Wits 5. Appearance should be 1 or 5. Strength and Stamina should never be 4. Consider which Innate merits you really want. What's your campaign going to be like? Who else is in the Circle? RL, Skype or PBP? What's the ST like? Any houserules? What do you, the player, want to achieve? What does your character want to achieve? Stock NPCs or custom? PG-13 or X-rated?

    Show:

    The Lunar builds that prompted this discussion are great examples of this. Especially Death Kitty.

    Death Kitty is dangerously close to being the perfect Lunar build. Lunars are all rounders and Death Kitty gets (with a Stunt) at least 11 dice with any Ability roll. 21 (resting) Accuracy. 8 (resting) Defence. 17 Soak. 6 Guile. Sorcery. Flight. Intangibility. Kitty can do exactly what you want a Lunar to do. It's a Caste-agnostic build that's easily tweaked into any Circle. Metagame wise, it's a damn near perfect build (mathematically it's pretty good, could be better).
    Last edited by JohnDoe244; 09-07-2019, 02:42 PM.

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