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Balancing mixed circles, any suggestions?

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  • Balancing mixed circles, any suggestions?

    Inspired by the fantastic new content from the Lunars kickstarter, I am in the middle of drawing together ideas for a new campaign. Looking at my likely players I predict at least one of them will opt to play a solar rather than a lunar. In most systems my players are keen on keeping things 'balanced' powerwise, so I thought I would consult the wise minds here to see if you have any suggestions. Would you recommend boosting the lunars with bonus XP? Or perhaps capping or limiting certain Solar Charms or access to Supernal abilities? Or just running both splats as written.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    In my opinion/experience, it really depends on the Solar, and the player.
    I think a lot of starting Solars are not really more powerful than Lunars. But I think you can build them to be if you want to and know what you're doing.

    1) Is the player good at optimisation and min-maxing starting stats?

    2) Do they like to go heavily into one ability for their charm picks, or spread it around?

    3) Is the Solar character trying to do something that some of the Lunar characters are also trying to do? Or something quite different?


    If a Solar Dawn turns up with Dex/Melee/Awareness/Resistance/Thrown/Dodge/War/Ride 5 (+ specialties), on a Tyrant Lizard, with an artefact weapon, and sporting 15 combat charms, then the Full Moon swordsman's player may end up feeling like she's playing a poor copy who's unnecessary to the group.
    Similarly, the Charisma 5/Appearance 5/Presence 5/Performance 5/Socialise 5 (+specialties) Eclipse and the charming Changing Moon.

    (A small note; yes, Lunars can min-max as well. But they're not as good at it because of the way their character gen works, and of course they can't get any Essence 2 charms. So their powers tend to be more spread-out. )

    If this is the case, then restrictions might be necessary.

    On the other hand, if a player wants to be a Craft-Supernal Twilight with 10 craft charms, and there's no Lunar craft-focused character, then it's fine. They won't outshine the other players in their areas, they'll buff them with artefacts. Or maybe they want to be a sorcerer; a Lunar sorcerer and Solar sorcerer are pretty much the same power until 300xp anyway. Then there's areas Lunars are hardly ever going to go into: sailing, linguistics, bureaucracy.

    Or, perhaps one player does want to play a Dawn, but they're a noble knight, who has 5 melee charms, a bit of bureaucracy, some presence charms, a couple of performance charms and a bunch of ride charms. The fact they've got an essence 2 melee charm isn't a big deal.

    And the last thing; it also depends on the Lunar players. Maybe your Full Moon player doesn't care that the Dawn is throwing more dice and Defence at the enemy, because the Full Moon gets to turn into a dinosaur and that's awesome. Or maybe the Changing Moon doesn't care that much that the Eclipse can throw more dice on his social rolls, because the Changing Moon can also turn into a bear to fight, a spider to spy, a bird to travel, and has a couple of War charms, and this flexibility is more useful to them than having a more specialised power set.
    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 12-23-2019, 09:39 AM.


    I run... Lunars: The Apocalypse! Exalted 3rd edition. Fimbulwinter is upon the world as an Ice Age begins, and only six young Lunar heroes have a chance of saving humanity.

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    • #3
      The other thing to consider is themes in the story. A game where Lunar schools and ominions take a major centre stage and there’s a lot of intrigue around their really horizontal leadership and respect dynamics, the Solar might feel like an odd one out. Especially when they want to go see Leviathan and all casually Shapechange into fish when the Solar has to go fond his own way.

      Otherwise though, as long as you’re keeping it to Solars and Lunars only and no DBs, their power difference is pretty small for charms of the same essence.

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      • #4
        I find that non-hyperfocused Solars helps make for a Solar-Lunar game that doesn't feel unbalanced. It also helps when people are occupying different niches. I'm in a mixed game where we have a tuff No Moon and a Brawl Dawn, and a Performance Zenith and a Changing Moon. While those two pairs of characters have a lot of capability in the same general areas (fightin' for the former two, socialin' for the latter two), they have different approaches and are also just different characters. The No Moon's got sorcery and spirit-bonking stuff, while the Dawn has some War investment. Likewise, the Zenith focuses on song and Silver-Voiced Nightingale and has poor MNP, while the Changing Moon is MNP 5 and full of tricksy nonsense. We haven't done any big stuff yet, really, but so far the Solars haven't felt like they're madly outpacing the Lunars.


        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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        • #5
          A trick I used when helping a new ST get started with Exalted was to simply encourage players to build more well rounded and down to earth characters.

          A Dawn with 5 melee and 3 charms and a simple sword is a very different beast from one with 10 or even 5 melee charms and a daiklave. From there characters can grow but it isn't overwhelming.

          It works with balancing different exalts as well. Low level like that the differences aren't all that dramatic.

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          • #6
            I agree with all of the above points... except for expecting all the Lunars to be able to turn into a fish.
            I run an all-Lunar game, and only a couple can turn into fish, half birds, and two have familiars (a horse, bear and eagle). I thought they'd be extremely mobile, but overall they travel at a good-but-still-human walking speed. I feel sorry for their familiars, who've had to spend weeks in longboats, a magic wooden whale's insides, and now an airship traveling through storms. Not natural places for a bear or even a horse.


            I run... Lunars: The Apocalypse! Exalted 3rd edition. Fimbulwinter is upon the world as an Ice Age begins, and only six young Lunar heroes have a chance of saving humanity.

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            • #7
              Heh, that reminds me, one of the Lunars in my group has an austrech familiar.

              ​Anyway, I'm not sure that more ST effort necessarily needs to go into balance between drastically-different splats; as it is, two PCs of the same splat can be vastly imbalanced against each other. My Sunday group's got a Solar author, a Solar socialite who punches people, a Lookshy Dragon-Blooded, a Lunar crafter, and a Solar assassin on a ghost-horse.
              Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 12-23-2019, 09:17 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                I agree with all of the above points... except for expecting all the Lunars to be able to turn into a fish.
                I run an all-Lunar game, and only a couple can turn into fish, half birds, and two have familiars (a horse, bear and eagle). I thought they'd be extremely mobile, but overall they travel at a good-but-still-human walking speed. I feel sorry for their familiars, who've had to spend weeks in longboats, a magic wooden whale's insides, and now an airship traveling through storms. Not natural places for a bear or even a horse.
                Specific Lunars might not have it at the time, but unless you need to go right this minute any Lunar with some time to kill and access to the ocean can get a fish form. It's something you can just handwave right at the start of the session if they decide to do it, but a Solar can't follow without specialized sorcery or artifacts or something, that's not something to handwave.

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