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  • #16
    That's certainly a way you can run it, but given this is a thread for thinking about building Deathlords as interesting and tough without being just a big "nope, fuck you" button, it's not terribly conducive to what I'm trying to do here. This isn't about asking whether that should be done, it's about considering how.


    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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    • #17
      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.
      D&D has a particular problem with boss fights in that it's "balanced" around a long adventuring day, where part of the challenge comes from having to figure out how many resources you can afford to spend in a particular fight without leaving yourself screwed later. Exalted 3e... sort of has an element of that, though between the total freedom of investment in combat ability and the fact that all the PCs have the same mote pool I'm not sure how significant it becomes.

      But in general, one-vs-many fights are a problem in pretty much every system. The action economy just isn't there, and there's only so much you can pump up the raw power of an NPC-- too much defense makes the fight just plain frustrating, and too much offense will give you a one-round fight that ends with one PC getting splattered and no-one else really being touched. Lots of reactions, auras, and other off-round abilities help, and having lots of extra mooks around works for some situations, but... in general, the only good way to do it I've seen is just to give the boss extra turns. One turn per ~3 players is generally my guideline; that plus a chunk of extra mechanical strength gives you a good challenge. (In Ex3, I'd probably give each "turn" a totally separate initiative track, perhaps with some ability to burn ini from one pool to the other when crashed)

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Grod_the_giant View Post
        Exalted 3e... sort of has an element of that, though between the total freedom of investment in combat ability and the fact that all the PCs have the same mote pool...
        Well, assuming they're all the same splat type anyway. My Sunday group's got one Dragon-Blooded, a Lunar, and three Solars.

        ​Anyway, as I mentioned in a thread I started the other day, there's also the possibility of the arena itself taking actions after a fashion. A lava behemoth might not take as many actions as the PCs do, but if its very presence is causing volcanic geysers to erupt, that's going to make things more dangerous for the PCs without representing an action on the part of the behemoth. Or say a First Age manse is suffering from issues causing its crafting facilities to start and stop seemingly at random.
        Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 12-13-2019, 02:07 PM.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
          Well, assuming they're all the same splat type anyway. My Sunday group's got one Dragon-Blooded, a Lunar, and three Solars.

          ​Anyway, as I mentioned in a thread I started the other day, there's also the possibility of the arena itself taking actions after a fashion. A lava behemoth might not take as many actions as the PCs do, but if its very presence is causing volcanic geysers to erupt, that's going to make things more dangerous for the PCs without representing an action on the part of the behemoth. Or say a First Age manse is suffering from issues causing its crafting facilities to start and stop seemingly at random.
          DnD 5e calls these "Lair Actions". Its a way to add danger without screwing with turn orders too much.


          ..."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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          • #20
            Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post
            DnD 5e calls these "Lair Actions". Its a way to add danger without screwing with turn orders too much.
            Yes, I mentioned Runesmith’s video on lairs in said thread.

            I definitely feel that a fight with the Mask of Winters occurring anywhere near Juggernaut should necessitate some Lair Actions.
            Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 12-14-2019, 07:50 AM.

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            • #21
              And for a huge behemoth like Juggernaut, there's always the old "treat each limb as a separate creature" trick.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Grod_the_giant View Post
                D&D has a particular problem with boss fights in that it's "balanced" around a long adventuring day, where part of the challenge comes from having to figure out how many resources you can afford to spend in a particular fight without leaving yourself screwed later. Exalted 3e... sort of has an element of that, though between the total freedom of investment in combat ability and the fact that all the PCs have the same mote pool I'm not sure how significant it becomes
                The other problem is that, especially for Solars, a lot of enemies aren’t necessarily supposed to be a 5v1 match anyway. Octavian is a boss who can 1v1 a Dawn but against an entire circle, depending on the composition, he doesn’t and shouldn’t really stand up. On the other hand he’s the Quarter Prince of Hell with at least hundreds of thousands of demons in his Realm. If you’re attacking him in Hell its perfectly reasonable that he comes ready with a size 5 battlegroup of combat demons. Deathlords are a bit more powerful than second circle demons but they’ve also got a lot of stuff backing them up. They each have at least an entire circle of Abyssals of their own, most of them have armies, sorcerers, powerful ghosts ect. So the balance point you’re probably looking to shoot for is less can fight a circle of Solars solo, and more can fight a circle of Solars with minimal backup. FAFL and his Dusk caste champion or something maybe.

                To help with the action economy giving him counterattacks and reflexive clashes goes quite a long way. You’re also designing it to be a fun encounter, so effects that just overwhelm opponents quickly and kill them and stuff like that should be used sparingly. They should still be dangerous, obviously, a young unprepared circle shouldn’t be winning that, but you want to leave room for some back and forth.

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                • #23
                  Yeah, it needs to be excitingly harrowing. Also having room for partial or mixed victory helps, though that's really more story and encounter design than straight up QC design.


                  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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                  • #24
                    Regardless of how powerful Deathlords ought to be, one thing that the should be for certain is interactive. If you want the Lion to strike mortal fear in the hearts of players then go for it 100%, but that shouldn't be all that he is to everyone. Surely the Lion's Abyssals interact with him, take orders from him, etc. Ideally even Solar or Lunar circles might want to seek out a Deathlord like the Lion to beseech them for military support, weapons, tactics or things of that nature. He's a legendary ghost general of a thousand thousand battles. People might seek him out for more reasons than just beating him up and taking his stuff. Like, they're ancient sorcerer Ghost-Kings! They shouldn't merely be set pieces.

                    To that end, my friend Zaleramancer and I worked together to construct stats for Princess Magnificient, changing up her fluff slightly to be more of a social manipulator who uses the power of love and friendship to control those around her. What we prized most was making the Princess someone that characters could interact with and gain boons from in exchange for giving her just a bit of a foothold in their hearts. You can read our writeup here. Feel free to comment and ask questions, etc.

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                    • #25
                      That's an especially good point, and an especially interesting writeup! Aaaand immediately saved.

                      I've tried to consider what the Lion is like to those who are not his enemies on the battlefield, especially given the reassessment 3e's pulling on the Deathlords. He's still definitely someone who wants to conquer and spread his influence, but for his reasons as opposed to just "the neverbongs said asplode the world kthx". I'm still working on what exactly he's about, but I think I'd go for an angle of endurance and perseverance being his watchwords; he's a tank who doesn't give up, though he may step back to consider new angles. That would probably color his interactions with basically everyone. I haven't yet hit the social side of his QC writeup yet, but it's on the list.

                      Another thing I think about is giving a Deathlord quirks and foibles; you don't get to be an eons-long prince of phantoms without developing some. For the Lion, I liked the idea that being sealed in his armor prevents him from enjoying food or drink even to the lesser degree which a ghost normally can; he might have his Abyssal apprentices served fine coffee in hopes of vicariously enjoying it, perhaps even having particularly eloquent Deathknights describe the flavor and aroma with the excuse that it's an exercise in attention to detail or something.


                      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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                      • #26
                        Me, inane as it may sound, actually try to tinker around with the "All listed charms" statement - or more precisely, i reinterpret it as "all core/splatbook charms it has the requisites" - no skill, one less charmtree, skill or lower, incomplete charmtree and so on. Still very much in line with the statement, while also philtering the ludricous range of options to a somewhat decent degree

                        From the resulting charmlist i would usually reassess the skill & atribute levels into something moree to my liking

                        For Mask of Winters for example, who in both previous editions came in the core years before we got an Abyssals book, that would mean a charmlist made wholy of corebook "mirrored" solar charms & spells and his martial arts options limited to Snake style and a twisted version of Solar Hero/Brawl charms. No mirrored castebook stuff and - when the Abyssals splatbook actually came out - no uniquely abyssal charms, kept some solar charms that got no mirror as "black hole sun" charms, fruits of the MoW's ego taking his essence-wielding in directions the Neverborn not exactly approved of.

                        As an aside, as a little weird lampshade hanging on his ludricous stat differences between editions, i used both versions of the Mask of Winters in my games, making "2e no Lore MoW" into an hekathonkeire of sorts evolved from Larquen Quen's engorged and empowered hungry ghost.
                        Last edited by Baaldam; 12-18-2019, 11:37 AM.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Beans View Post
                          That's certainly a way you can run it, but given this is a thread for thinking about building Deathlords as interesting and tough without being just a big "nope, fuck you" button, it's not terribly conducive to what I'm trying to do here. This isn't about asking whether that should be done, it's about considering how.
                          To clarify my stance.
                          What I value from Deathlords is a counterpoint to Dragon-Blooded and Sidereal antagonists who essentially need to be masterminds constantly stacking the deck in their favour. I value former godkings with that the PCs can run circles around if they know what they're all about but still extremely dangerous.


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

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                            To clarify my stance.
                            What I value from Deathlords is a counterpoint to Dragon-Blooded and Sidereal antagonists who essentially need to be masterminds constantly stacking the deck in their favour. I value former godkings with that the PCs can run circles around if they know what they're all about but still extremely dangerous.
                            I like that approach, especially with all the ghostly foibles to play on---the dead sustain themselves on passion, and ghostly existence has often been presented as having a lot of performative behavior for the sake of evoking those passions and feeling a little less far from life. Lay things out the right way and even a Deathlord might play along for the sake of passion even when they know they could take a more efficient option, because they think they can afford to indulge like that.


                            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

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