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  • Building Deathlords

    So, I was re-looking at that wonderful googledoc writeup for a 3e QC rendering of the Lover Clad in Raiment of Tears (whose author's name I can't actually find, to my vast chagrin; wherever you are, I think you did a cool job). I especially liked how the author puts design notes at the forefront, with a key line, a statement of objectives, touchstone characters from other fiction, and a listing of important capabilities.

    I've been making vague passes at making a QC of First and Forsaken Lion, but so far it's sort of just cobbling together bits of Ahlat and Nephwrack with a dash of Octavian and starting to shape them to fit inside the shape I'm wanting him to hold.

    I'd be really interested in hearing other people's takes on modeling specific Deathlords in 3e, whether it's just "I think Mask of Winters should hit these key points", sharing a writeup you already have on hand, or anything in between.

    E: For future ref, this is not a thread for asking whether or not Deathlords should be statted and beatable as opposed to being a "you lose" button. This thread is coming from the position that statting out a Deathlord as a QC with their own little Charm suite and all is an opportunity for interesting stuff. I'm well aware some people think Deathlords should be infinite walls of "no, bye", but that is not the thing that this thread is for, so let's not put that here. Thanks!
    Last edited by Beans; 12-13-2019, 11:56 AM.


    Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

    Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

  • #2
    I'm nowhere close to statting a Deathlord for 3rd edition to my satisfaction yet.

    But I was fond of them as endgame bosses that can be a challenging 5 on 1 fight for a circle of Solars and one of my biggest concerns for Ex3 going forward is that we'll get charm panopolies that don't reflect that and won't be able to stand up to the group's Dawn Caste going all-in on the opening round. To that end if you held a gun to my head and forced me to run one I'd draw a limited amount from 2.5, such as uncapped perfect defences so they can stand up to multiple attackers being willing to use their best moves but not in a way that they could keep doing it forever.
    Last edited by Lioness; 12-14-2019, 06:53 PM.


    Onyx Path Forum Moderator
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    • #3
      Our GM just ran a Deathlord vs 8/9 Exalted Fight... It was a pretty epic affair, and was just totally awesome. Not sure exactly how he went about the design process, but the fight lasted a pretty good bit and was not until all of the involved Exalted took a hand that the fight went poorly against him.


      The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - James. D. Nicoll

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lioness View Post
        I'm nowhere close to statting a Deathlord for 3rd edtiion to my satisfaction yet.

        But I was fond of them as endgame bosses that can be a challenging 5 on 1 fight for a circle of Solars and one of my biggest concerns for Ex3 going forward is that we'll get charm panopolies that don't reflect that and won't be able to stand up to the group's Dawn Caste going all-in on the opening round. To that end if you held a gun to my head and forced me to run one I'd draw a limited amount from 2.5, such as uncapped perfect defences so they can stand up to multiple attackers being willing to use their best moves but not in a way that they could keep doing it forever.
        This is a somewhat grander problem than Solars or even Exalted. Most single enemies of equal CR in DnD go down in a round or two to the party going all out. The wizard casts disintegrate, the fighter uses Fighting Spirit and Action Surge, and the rogue does an auto-crit sneak attack and that's like 300 damage right there. The only way you can really make it work is to have really specific and otherwise overpowered abilities like a permanent effect that lets them ignore all damage after the first 5 every round or something. That way at bare minimum they last 3-4 rounds and can do stuff.

        Either that or just have a bunch of backup for the antagonist. Dragons in DnD almost always have cults of kobolds, pets, lackeys, allies, ect. Deathlords too, they have Abyssal exalted, Nephwracks, powerful ghosts, monsters animated through necromancy, bone constructs, legions of mortal and spirit followers. For the sake of sanity it's probably best to just include a handful of their most powerful underlings, to keep the combat manageable.

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        • #5
          My players met the Bishop when they were E3 and just standing in his presence filled them all with a moment of intense dread and paranoia. He also stopped time for all their enemies by slightly raising his hand. I communicated to them that this was something clearly beyond their capabilities to even approach, let alone kill.

          I don't want to see statlines for the Deathlords. I want them to be basically undefeatable monsters for ending an E5 campaign.

          Also, someone like FaFL could conceivably have finished the entire charm tree of Melee, and Resistance. He's been an Exalted for Millennia, with more than a 1000 xp. There's next to no way he doesn't splat one Solar every turn, just like an E5 solar's best gambit is to splat a DB with novas just to maintain action economy.


          ..."But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me"

          Message me for Japanese translations.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

            This is a somewhat grander problem than Solars or even Exalted. Most single enemies of equal CR in DnD go down in a round or two to the party going all out. The wizard casts disintegrate, the fighter uses Fighting Spirit and Action Surge, and the rogue does an auto-crit sneak attack and that's like 300 damage right there. The only way you can really make it work is to have really specific and otherwise overpowered abilities like a permanent effect that lets them ignore all damage after the first 5 every round or something. That way at bare minimum they last 3-4 rounds and can do stuff.

            Either that or just have a bunch of backup for the antagonist. Dragons in DnD almost always have cults of kobolds, pets, lackeys, allies, ect. Deathlords too, they have Abyssal exalted, Nephwracks, powerful ghosts, monsters animated through necromancy, bone constructs, legions of mortal and spirit followers. For the sake of sanity it's probably best to just include a handful of their most powerful underlings, to keep the combat manageable.

            Indeed... On the Battlefield for the Deathlord were 3 Abyssals, a 3rd Circle Demon and several Very large battle groups (Demon and Ghost)... Our side had a couple of Large battle groups (Human and Beastmen), 2 DB Exalts, 2 Sidereal Exalts, the Circle of 6 Exalts, a small collection of Sijan Morticians, a couple of Sorcerers, two Lunar Elders, and the Bull of the North's Circle. It was a grand fight indeed... And we were all feeling a bit drained...


            The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - James. D. Nicoll

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            • #7
              My rough FAFL specifically was designed to be resilient, as that felt very fitting for him. I haven't given him perfect defenses, but I let him have a quasi-excellency like Ahlat and Octavian get, as well as letting him spend Initiative to boost Defense. He's also very much meant to be with BG support, and perhaps field commanders besides; he's got a Charm that lets him spend Initiative to boost BG Defenses or Rout check pools a bit, and I worded it to specifically allow him to use it on behalf of BGs that are commanded by someone else as long as that commander is under his authority. You really do have to wrap the fight in some padding, I think, or your options are "big bad goes down too fast to be cool" or "big bad's survival mechanisms veer toward feeling cheap and annoying".

              And while I understand that not wanting statted Deathlords is a position some are going to have, it's not really mine. Especially since part of the fun is seeing interesting ways to make them not just a pile of health levels and numbers, but something with its own sort of playstyle. Which is why I like things that aren't the previous editions' method of "they just have all the Solar charms", because that feels very uninteresting to me and seems like it just leads to a generic feel rather than the 3e direction of giving various critters and spirits and whatnots their own little personal charm suites.
              Last edited by Beans; 12-11-2019, 08:00 PM.


              Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

              Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Beans View Post
                "they just have all the Solar charms"
                Not to mention that as an ST "They have all Solar charms" is just a nightmare to run. Seriously, a Solar with all charms is amazingly powerful, but they have so many options at any one given time, and figuring out what the best ones to use from a list of literally hundreds is taxing. Just give them a small selection of really powerful charms, maybe a reminder that you can always add charms to QCs if you want, and tell me about their epic entourage.

                Which actually most powerful QCs now do. Prince Resplendent has his battlegroup and apprentice, Cathak Cainen has his elite bodyguards and Cathak scions. If you ever fight him and Mnemon at the same time you also have to deal with her bodyguards, bound demons and Mnemon scions. I expect the Mask of Winters entourage to include an abyssal exalt and a really badass ghost or something at least.

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                • #9
                  Just worth noting resilient can be annoying in its own way. A successful decisive attack which does next to nothing can be more punitive than missing the target outright.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                    Just worth noting resilient can be annoying in its own way. A successful decisive attack which does next to nothing can be more punitive than missing the target outright.
                    It’s also alleviated a lot by having the PCs figure out what kind of resilience the antagonist has beforehand and playing around that. Like knowing that launching a 60 initiative single decisive attack into a creature with Legendary Size isn’t a good idea.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                      Not to mention that as an ST "They have all Solar charms" is just a nightmare to run. Seriously, a Solar with all charms is amazingly powerful, but they have so many options at any one given time, and figuring out what the best ones to use from a list of literally hundreds is taxing. Just give them a small selection of really powerful charms, maybe a reminder that you can always add charms to QCs if you want, and tell me about their epic entourage.

                      Which actually most powerful QCs now do. Prince Resplendent has his battlegroup and apprentice, Cathak Cainen has his elite bodyguards and Cathak scions. If you ever fight him and Mnemon at the same time you also have to deal with her bodyguards, bound demons and Mnemon scions. I expect the Mask of Winters entourage to include an abyssal exalt and a really badass ghost or something at least.
                      Not only is it a nightmare to run, but even having the character feel consistent from action to action can be difficult. At least I know my heavy-Socialize Solar is going to try and handle things socially.

                      ​(With punching or throwing boomerangs as a backup. But my point is, at no point is he going to decide to pull out a giant sword from his anima or produce burning sails of holy light for a ship he's on.)
                      Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 12-12-2019, 12:27 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Yeah the Lion was my go-to for why "all charms" was a silly model by inviting people to imagine him using Irresistible Succubus Style while sauntering around alluringly in full plate as the Legion Sanguinary go wild with lust at the sight of their lord.

                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                        It’s also alleviated a lot by having the PCs figure out what kind of resilience the antagonist has beforehand and playing around that. Like knowing that launching a 60 initiative single decisive attack into a creature with Legendary Size isn’t a good idea.
                        Depends what form the resistance takes, a lot of extra health levels (for example) is the kind of thing that's easily hidden. If you're not incapacitating them or increasing wound penalties you're in a position where your attack could be considered a failure because it acomplished so little and put you in a bad situation.
                        Last edited by Lioness; 12-13-2019, 11:37 PM.


                        Onyx Path Forum Moderator
                        Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                          Yeah the Lion was my go-to for why "all charms" was a silly model by inviting people to imagine him using Irresistible Succubus Style while sauntering around alluringly in full plate as the Legion Sanguinary go wild with lust at the sight of their lord.
                          Well, that's an image I'll have to get out of my head. >.>

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                          • #14
                            That's especially part of why I really like that one Lover writeup I linked, because it's very focused and very forward about what she's good at, which is all centered on making people her obsessed slaves and getting them to do whatever she wants. She's built around a very clear "playstyle" that reflects what her whole deal is. That's the kind of thing I'd really want to see in Deathlord writeups and similar---robust and thematic.


                            Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

                            Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yknow, I'm reminded of a scene from one of the Rokugan books. For plot reasons a lot of ghosts come back to the real world and one if them is a former Emperor and his bodyguard. The Emperor claims that since he was Emperor before he died, he should be Emperor again now that he's alive and, y'know, plot stuff happens.

                              But his Bodyguard was not only the reigning champion in his own lifetime, he has been protecting his lord of FIVE HUNDRED YEARS of nonstop, daily attacks from demons and monsters in the underworld.

                              One of the guards of the current Emperor meets his eye, and just… sees the death of all his men there, one after another. The lacuna between 20 years of training and 5 centuries of battle is literally insurmountable. The difference in experience can't be made up.

                              That's how I see the Lion. He isn't just more powerful, he isn't just better equipped, he isn't just the master of more charms- he's more experienced. There isn't a situation you can throw at him that he hasn't been on both sides of more than a dozen times. It wouldn't surprise me if he was there when certain charms or MAs were invented.

                              …and he also has his own team of Solaroids at his beck and call. And an Army. And an air ship. Even 1 on 1 I wouldn't give the odds to PCs anymore than a 500 XP Dawn Combat Monster going 1 v 5 against a circle of brand new Exalts


                              ..."But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me"

                              Message me for Japanese translations.

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