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When Should NPCs Launch Decisives?

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  • #46
    But that's supported RAW.

    You could use the rules for: Trivial Opponents on page 208; Shenanigans on 194; defeating Crashed characters on 193; or, my personal favorite, "When no enemies remain to offer resistance, the battle
    is over" -- if the PCs might lose because of a Decisive attack, then Withering is the logical thing to do, if they so utterly dominate that they can't lose, then relieve your frustration, use the rules as written and announce they have won.

    If the PCs won't kill their meals, take the oppertunity to have Crashed foes run away or beg for their lives. If the PCs have so much Initative and are so clearly winning the fight, running away and hiding seems like the logical thing to do.

    To use the social abstraction, if I want someone to do a life-changing task, I need to use a Defining Intimacy. Getting loads of Initative is getting that Intimacy. But they can still say "no" and spend a Willpower. Keeping on Withering is me degrading the Decision Point Intimacies down to Major so I know my social influence will be accepted. If that's not neccessary, then just letting me succeed would go down better than houseruling that I can't improve my odds.

    Just my two cents. I don't know your players -- maybe that'd cause problems for you?

    (If you actually want the PCs to lose, then use tougher foes so they can't get such untouchable Initative scores.)
    Last edited by JohnDoe244; 11-13-2019, 09:08 AM.


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

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    • #47
      I know these rules and I use these pretty often when the fight is "basically over and nothing's gonna change anyway", I'm fine with it. I won't really argue anymore because I already stated my point. I understand that other people do not share it, or not in the same way I feel it, I just think I've only seen so few reversals and unexpected returns in Exalted, and generally much more one sided fights and I'm a bit disappointed because I thought it would be a more important part of the experience.


      My homebrew (Leave comments if you want to help improve) : A quick recap of all the pools and stats for Quick Exalted 3E characters

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      • #48
        It also sounds like if someone is able to effectively hoard initiative then their ability to gain it and hold on to it has outpaced their competition. Making it too difficult for them to gain initiative is less fun, but if opposition is equally able to steal initiative, and the numbers fluctuate back and forth more, people would be more keen to use it while they have it. Health Tracks growing with the other competencies would also help, if you can make it less and less feasible to be 1HKO'd with the init score they can maintain, it becomes more necessary to have multiple successful decisive attacks.

        Would changing the Crash Reset to 2 rounds provide the desired incentive? You already can't get an Initiative Break bonus if the target just came out of crash, or the following round.

        It also seems like the threat of Initiative Shift has a real warping effect. Either Base Initiative, standard health levels, and hardness needs to be higher, or expected withering damage needs to stay smaller as things scale. Also having some of these break points laid out in plain language might help new storytellers/players.


        Raksha are my fae-vorite.

        Reincarnation of magnificentmomo.

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        • #49
          I’m not sure I understand why hoarding initiative is bad, unless you’ve got big multiattacks all you can do with it is destroy one enemy with a big initiative pool, and depending on the enemy that might take a huge amount. Boar-tusk crocodiles need, on average, a 38 initiative attack to die, and that’s just on average, 50% of the time a 38i attack won’t kill it. Even if they’re not being compelled to stay, you still need about 25i to drive them off.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by MoroseMorgan View Post
            It also sounds like if someone is able to effectively hoard initiative then their ability to gain it and hold on to it has outpaced their competition. Making it too difficult for them to gain initiative is less fun, but if opposition is equally able to steal initiative, and the numbers fluctuate back and forth more, people would be more keen to use it while they have it. Health Tracks growing with the other competencies would also help, if you can make it less and less feasible to be 1HKO'd with the init score they can maintain, it becomes more necessary to have multiple successful decisive attacks.

            Would changing the Crash Reset to 2 rounds provide the desired incentive? You already can't get an Initiative Break bonus if the target just came out of crash, or the following round.

            It also seems like the threat of Initiative Shift has a real warping effect. Either Base Initiative, standard health levels, and hardness needs to be higher, or expected withering damage needs to stay smaller as things scale. Also having some of these break points laid out in plain language might help new storytellers/players.
            Again, I like the status quo.

            If you make Withering damage smaller or Base Initative higher, you still don't see dramatic reversals of fortune.

            Make Hardness higher and you encourage Initative hoarding.

            Health levels doesn't change healing time -- PCs don't want to get hit.

            Crash reset might work.

            ****

            Chausse, I feel your frustration but that's exactly what your Initative hoarding PCs don't want. If they're winning, they don't want a dramatic reversal of fortune. If you want to change their behaviour, I suggest talking with them and explaining why the game is better if they suddenly go from winning to losing.


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

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            • #51
              Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
              Again, I like the status quo.

              If you make Withering damage smaller or Base Initative higher, you still don't see dramatic reversals of fortune.

              Make Hardness higher and you encourage Initative hoarding.

              Health levels doesn't change healing time -- PCs don't want to get hit.

              Crash reset might work.

              ****

              Chausse, I feel your frustration but that's exactly what your Initative hoarding PCs don't want. If they're winning, they don't want a dramatic reversal of fortune. If you want to change their behaviour, I suggest talking with them and explaining why the game is better if they suddenly go from winning to losing.
              Sorry if my phrasing was ambiguous. I wasn't trying to change Withering values necessarily, but making sure people focus on Soak as much as they do Attack/Defense so that expected damage stays the same as all values increase. Sometimes it just takes longer to internalize that Soak actually matters this edition.
              I was also talking about increasing Base Initiative and Hardness in tandem so that we don't have such a narrow needle of 3i to thread. Since Base Initiative is (almost) universally 3i, everything else has to spin around it. The problem is that Base Initiative being the number that keeps you out of crash or being Shifted is also your potential spam attack damage. I mentioned health levels because if spam damage goes up it could also potentially compensate, which probably just confused the whole thing more. Sorry.

              I think I'm fine with what people usually come to as their status quo from my limited and rusty experience combined with the anecdotal evidence I see, but it also sounds like some people defer to being overly cautious. I also think this inflated caution comes from people not necessarily being able to easily anticipate expected damage due to all of the variables involved. Being at base initiative with the looming threat of crash and or Initiative shift is only as likely as someone dealing 3i, but unless you've played enough to get a feel for expected damage you don't really know.

              For a parallel example of what I'm walking through again, I recently got into playing 40k, and when I first started I was looking at unit options and couldn't intuit the value of Toughness 4 versus Toughness 5 on it's own, until I started to see what the availability and cost of my oppositions Strength 4+ was.


              Raksha are my fae-vorite.

              Reincarnation of magnificentmomo.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by MoroseMorgan View Post
                Sorry if my phrasing was ambiguous. I wasn't trying to change Withering values necessarily, but making sure people focus on Soak as much as they do Attack/Defense so that expected damage stays the same as all values increase.
                I think this depends a lot on what enemies you’re facing and how much your players can avoid the temptation to just max their combat stat. A Solar who’s not really trying that hard can very easily get a defense value of 10-12, at which point the only things in the game that stand any real chance of hitting them are second circle demons or their equivalents, or other exalted. Even otherwise powerful gods and elementals don’t stand a chance, especially if you can put them into their -2s. I’m talking like less than one tenth of one percent of a chance to hit you here. Conversely, almost no enemy has a defense above 5, so your attack doesn’t matter nearly as much as your damage against those kinds of foes. If you want to play it really safe and boring you just need to excellency your defense all the time and attack with nothing.

                It’s boring and it takes a long time, but to be fair that is kind of what overly cautious gameplay is like.

                Against really high skill enemies like other exalted it can kind of shift the other way. If your enemy can throw 29 dice into an attack roll against you, then boosting your defense is almost pointless compared to boosting your soak.

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                • #53
                  Right. But if you make it harder to Shift/Crash people after Decisives, then there's no dramatic reversal of fortunes. The people who were winning prior to launching the Decisives will continue to be winning after the Decisives, and the people who were losing don't get a chance to pull things back. Which is really no different to just launching Withering attacks all the time.


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

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                  • #54
                    Epiphany (probably the second time I've had this over the years)- the dramatic reversal of fortunes has nothing to do with Decisives, they really are supposed to be the fight enders with the risky alternative being the frequent low init attack. The dynamic nature of Ex3 combat comes from Withering favoring the attackers, and if you and your opponents aren't trading blows, then it will be pretty static.


                    Raksha are my fae-vorite.

                    Reincarnation of magnificentmomo.

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                    • #55
                      I got a bit too into this question and decided to write a program to run preposterous quantities of 1v1 fights to assess the impact of different "When to Decisive" mindsets. Right now it's running* bar brawls between Elite Soldier level combatants.
                      Current results indicate that, in a fight between a guy who refuses to Decisive until his opponent is in crash and he has 3x as much initiative as his opponent has health and a guy who just throws a decisive the second he's got double-digit initiative, the latter wins ~80% of the time. This suggests that the combat system discourages caution.

                      *: DISCLAIMER: The program has been debugged to the point of running. Not "Running correctly", not "Running and seems to be correct", just "Gives Output". Zero real testing has occurred yet.

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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                        Chausse, I feel your frustration but that's exactly what your Initative hoarding PCs don't want. If they're winning, they don't want a dramatic reversal of fortune. If you want to change their behaviour, I suggest talking with them and explaining why the game is better if they suddenly go from winning to losing.
                        I don't know exactly what you mean by "lose", but I don't think that's my point. I want to have a bit more surprises to some things, like combat movement, decision to flee, etc ... can come a bit more as a surprise and be less a "prepared battle plan".

                        For example, right now, the almost only thing I did that successfully made players move and create more dynamic and unplanned execution is when my NPC's basically have "WoW boss powers", ie be careful because next turn there will be an explosion there, or you are targeted by a big attack coming next round maybe you should hide, but they don't feel really "natural" solutions and I'd like to improve this feeling, and also make it possible for them to come from the players.

                        I obviously don't think I'm a perfect game designer, and I don't like talking it here because it makes me feel like I'm bragging which I don't want to, but an example of things that have a core idea that I like is one of the "Charms/moves" I made up in the home brew battle thread :
                        • NPC target a spot on the battlefield
                        • He gains increased defense while he is travelling toward the spot with soldiers.
                        • The defense bonus stop if the players can somehow make the travel impossible.
                        And this allows the players to solve a "combat problem" with unexpected answers and maybe have some reversals (take out the soldiers, block the way, etc ...). And I really thought the base Combat System would provide this "on its own", through simple use, but for the moment it appears to me it's not the case and I'm looking for tools and ideas that allows me to create simply this kind of feeling, because the only time I could do this it took me way too hours to design NPCs, powers, stakes and stuff to feel like a really a cool action scene.

                        So I know I'm renting and going kinda far from the discussion so I'm sorry I guess we could as well call it a day since many solutions and ideas were proposed.
                        Last edited by Chausse; 11-14-2019, 06:04 AM.


                        My homebrew (Leave comments if you want to help improve) : A quick recap of all the pools and stats for Quick Exalted 3E characters

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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by vwllss trnt prncss View Post
                          I got a bit too into this question and decided to write a program to run preposterous quantities of 1v1 fights to assess the impact of different "When to Decisive" mindsets. Right now it's running* bar brawls between Elite Soldier level combatants.
                          Current results indicate that, in a fight between a guy who refuses to Decisive until his opponent is in crash and he has 3x as much initiative as his opponent has health and a guy who just throws a decisive the second he's got double-digit initiative, the latter wins ~80% of the time. This suggests that the combat system discourages caution.

                          *: DISCLAIMER: The program has been debugged to the point of running. Not "Running correctly", not "Running and seems to be correct", just "Gives Output". Zero real testing has occurred yet.
                          Then you factor in the hot mess which is Actual Play. Because it won't be one-on-one with evenly matched foes. There will be Charms that cancel wound penalties. Charms that raise Hardness. Charms that can only be used on Decisives. Charms which stack additional penalities. People run away. Reinforcements arrive at dramatic moments.

                          Death by a thousand cuts is a great strategy (especially paired with Solar Thrown and the like). But you're comparing combatants with no Perilous Charms, no Hardness, no Join Battle boosters... fighting under conditions that almost never occur in play. (Would love to see the code though.)

                          I'm encouraged. I've nothing against seeing people gambling on their attacks, wearing their foes down. And if people knew that playing less conservatively means they're more likely to win, then I think that addresses the main concerns of people looking to change the system.

                          But I'm not confident that your experiment has ecological validity.


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

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                          • #58
                            Depending on the foe you’re facing holding on to initiative for too long is also a gamble. There shouldn’t ever really be an exalted combat where your group isn’t losing motes every turn, so if you hold out for another five turns farming up more and more initiative you’re likely to just run dry on your mote pool. That would mean that either you finish off the fight with the last of your motes and are now a sitting duck for anything else that happens for the next hour or two, or you start fighting a much more fair fight with just your regen motes, and then at the end you’re still a sitting duck.

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                            • #59
                              If you want to change up the balance of combat a bit so a crashed target isn't as out of the fight, one option is to give them a bonus that helps with turning the tide - something like doubling mote regen while crashed.

                              This has very definite knock-on effects, but may make players less paranoid about running the risk of resetting initiative and being crashed.

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