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  • #76
    I should also say I used to think the exact same things. Simultaneously thinking that it’s unfair to have the Realm give my PCs the same response they gave the Bull of the North, and also thinking it sucks that they just keep shredding all opposition, but there’s a kind of obvious solution there.

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    • #77
      Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

      If you’re having trouble challenging your players and making things scary you can scale things up. Like have the Realm send 75-100 Dragonblooded after them in a massive Wyld Hunt or something. Or maybe a Faerie invasion with millions of hobgoblins, and thousands of Cataphracts.

      There’s a bit of a problem that I don’t like where Solars can’t really be used well to play games that are smaller than that though, which does suck but that’s what the other Exalted are for.
      None of that makes the BBEG himself a threat, it just makes him a squishy and disappointing head on the shoulders of a terrifyingly massive giant.
      Also, how the fuck do you even run 75-100 Dragonblooded?

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      • #78
        Originally posted by vwllss trnt prncss View Post

        Also, how the fuck do you even run 75-100 Dragonblooded?
        As a Battle Group of Course


        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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        • #79
          Edit: Wrong place
          Last edited by Exthalion; 01-09-2020, 09:41 PM.

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          • #80
            Originally posted by Lanic View Post
            As a matter of fact, I think that trait caps is not really the most important issue.
            Okay but arguing about it was the start of this conversation thread.

            Originally posted by Lanic
            but I think that the general design philosophy of Essence 6+ charms is much more important thing. Especially the design statement that they do not increase power, but rather, say, add colour.
            Depends how power is defined. I'd argue that this statement is largely true of revised DotFA Solar charms compared to the original ones.


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            • #81
              Originally posted by vwllss trnt prncss View Post

              None of that makes the BBEG himself a threat, it just makes him a squishy and disappointing head on the shoulders of a terrifyingly massive giant.
              He doesn't need to be that squishy, you could put him in heavy artifact armor with a ton of combat charms, but you're like Solar Exalted. The Exalted are the most powerful humans in the setting by an insane margin, and the Solars are the most powerful of the Exalted. There isn't supposed to be a lot of things in Creation that can match you on a 1 to 1 basis. That's kind of the point of them.

              There are some things that can, other Exalted, particularly elder exalted. That's on a one to one basis though, not a one to five. The classic trope from other fiction and DnD and stuff doesn't really work that well with Solars. You pretty much have to make the singular BBEG on the level of a Third Circle Demon before that can be considered a good matchup against 5 fresh and ready Solars.

              Originally posted by vwllss trnt prncss View Post
              Also, how the fuck do you even run 75-100 Dragonblooded?
              Well it's hard, definitely, but there's lots of things to do. First of all, they've got the numbers to be everywhere you aren't, and in force. So while the PCs are off in one place rooting out a spy in their midst, a detachment of the Realm legions are off burning down their friend's house. They probably won't care too much for that, so they might try to gather everyone and everything they care about, put it in one place and guard it, to which the Realm will then lay siege.

              Or they might just decide they need to go kill Cathak Cainen who's leading this army. In which case have multiple combat scenes leading up to finally getting to them, each with like a half dozen Dragonblooded and whatever size battlegroup you want, including battlegroups of summoned demons that are bound by the legion sorcerers. By the the PCs breach the fortress they should be out of it enough that Cainen, his wife, his command staff and his personal bodyguards put up a good fight. Or if you misjudged your PCs maybe more than enough of a fight and just get murdered.

              Also try to let them know that killing Cainen isn't the end of it, and if they don't have some kind of escape plan they're going to have to battle their way out through even more soldiers, demons, and exalts. Plus throw a few curve balls in there like clockwork soldiers from the First Age, deadly assassins hidden in cover, fortifications, traps, additional combatants joining fights, stuff like that. House Cathak will hold nothing back to stop themselves from ending up like House Tepet.

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              • #82
                Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                each with like a half dozen Dragonblooded
                OK, but how do you run 75-100 Dragonblooded when the commander doesn't have brain damage and doesn't keep trying the exact same thing that didn't work?

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by vwllss trnt prncss View Post

                  OK, but how do you run 75-100 Dragonblooded when the commander doesn't have brain damage and doesn't keep trying the exact same thing that didn't work?
                  Don't just try the same thing over and over. You're roleplaying an ancient exalted general with the resources of tens of thousands of soldiers and auxiliaries, you have the support of a contingent of immaculate monks, sorcerers from the Heptagram, their plethora of summoned and summon-able demons, a network of spies, near limitless wealth, powerful alliances, hearthstones, and a panoply of artifacts, some of which were created by the Solar exalted during the height of the High First Age, and any other Terrestrial from any walk of life all over the world that joined your Hunt.

                  Hopefully you don't go too far and make it unfair, but there's a million avenues of attack. Spreading disease, or even pressing disease gods into service to do it for you, sending expert infiltrators into the local population to be your eyes and ears everywhere and to spark unrest, sending demon and exalted assassins, undermining their allies, killing their allies, target food stocks, try to turn them against one another, when you engage them encircle them wide so that if they become overwhelmed they retreat into more of your forces. When you really put the pressure on do not let them respire anything either. Launch attacks in the middle of the night, strike and fade, or strike, send in the next team and have the first retreat to heal up and rest.

                  Attack from the sky, have summoned earth elementals swim through the ground beneath their feet, if they flee tail them with dematerialized spirits, if they have an army deploy a warstrider and go nuts with those Devastating Actions, lure an invading Raksha warband to a place they really want to stop that from happening.



                  Of course, hopefully, the PCs don't just get frustrated and die or something. Ultimately there should be some pathway to victory, and they should probably succeed most of the time. I mean if your enemy IS the Mask of Winters with his 10 abyssals and Juggernaut and Thorns and all that he still can't win too hard if the PCs ever expect to beat him. The DB general definitely has the chance to gain some victories though.

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                  • #84
                    I had a long and argumentative response typed out, but then I realized that it was pointless since I'm fairly certain we approach GMing from fundamentally incompatible directions. So I'm just going to say that you're making prioritization decisions I wouldn't because your value weighting is radically different.

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                    • #85
                      I'm in favour of more support for a storyteller to run a singular powerful enemy in a way that's narratively satisfying, I just consider it a distinct issue from how powerful an elder exalt should be.



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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        Oh yeah, they [singular threats] totally should exist, and do in fact. They just aren’t elder exalted. They’re third circle demons, behemoths, incredibly powerful fey, Deathlords, jotun, directional war gods. All for some variation of “good fight”.
                        I'll start with this one. Third circle demons, behemots, ishvari (is that the plural form?) etc. are all cool and they do play certain important narrative roles, but they are fundamentally different kind of opponents than the one I meant. They roughly fit into Eldritch Abomination TV trope. I like Eldritch Abominations. They form an important part of the setting. However, there are things, you cannot do with them:

                        - you cannot have a meaningful personal history with them (possibly extending to your past lives);
                        - you cannot have an old master on your side who could be a fair match for one of them, but cannot leave their reclusion for mystic or personal reasons;
                        - you cannot meaningfully fear to become one as you grow in power (you can fear to become an Eldritch Abomination, especially with some body-horror tropes, but this a different kind of fear);
                        - you cannot undergo a training in hope to match their power;
                        - you cannot redeem them;
                        - you cannot meaningfully address what is still human in them;
                        - you cannot propose a temporary alliance when an actual Eldritch Abomination is coming;
                        - you cannot slowly turn into one, when you ignore old master's admonitions.

                        Really, I could continue this list almost indefinitely. Essentially: I feel a painful lack of opponents which are more or less human on some fundamental level, but are an overwhelming singular threat to your party, not because they are a head of a colossus, but they are colossus themselves. I want it, and it is not some kind of edge case, niche, exotic demand, but a complete staple of some genres.

                        What I wrote is not quite true of Deathlords. They partially fit the bill of human-opponents, but I don't think there is a compelling reason why very-elder Exalted and Deathlords should have fundamentally different capabilities.

                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        Right and if you want to try soloing Ma-Ha-Suchi with your Essence 1 Lunar then you’ll get a very similar experience. He has more than twice your motes, he has max stats in almost every relevant ability, he has powerful high essence charms, and all his calculations for those charms beat yours by 5. Vader used his army and wit to manipulate Luke into a 1v1 duel where he knew he could win. That still makes him a great villain, and terrifying.
                        I think you are misrepresenting Vader example on purpose. The purpose seems this: you think that Solars are not supposed to play the role of classical protagonists in the stories I described, so you are writing this assumption into my argument. I'll come back to that in a moment.

                        First, I am seriously confused about Vader "manipulating Luke into 1v1 duel where he knew he could win". Vader wanted to encounter Luke 1v1 to lure him into a room and put him in carbonite. He was genuinely surprised that this didn't work out in first five seconds, since Look jumped out of the hole, and the rest of the fight was basically Vader chasing hiding Luke who was able to have, like, 10 seconds of meaningful resistance.

                        Of course, he wasn't fighting against 5 Lukes, but nothing indicates that this would be a problem. And, crucially, he wasn't fighting 5 Lukes because in most media we rarely see 5 Lukes. It's typically a Luke or a Luke with his brave crew (say, an expert A, an expert B with complicated personal relationship, your nineties comic-relief, and a pet). This is very different in role-playing games, but this difference shouldn't overly affect what kind of stories we want to tell. If there were a "collective Luke" in Star Wars, then I'm sure Vader would be presented as capable of fighting all 5 of them at once and still invoking a feel of desperate isolation, despite being formally outnumbered. Examples will be rare, since collective Lukes are rare, but see my Witcher example.

                        There is certain another trope, where you are too weak to fight your opponent alone and you have to reunite with your friends to have a chance, but Vader clearly doesn't represent that. When Luke encounters Vader once more it's not when he takes his friends in order to outnumber him, but when he becomes a full-fledged Jedi.

                        Possibly, we see the role of Vader completely different, so maybe let me just reiterate: do you sincerely think that I will not be able to find a clear-cut example of a kind of narrative and characters I am describing? We can keep looking for it, but Vader is already compelling to me.

                        Now, I hope that this answers what you said: I think that saying that you could do Vader-like scenes with Ma-Ha-Suchi in 1v1 encounter for a Lunar is not a fair answer. We should look at the circle as basically the collective Luke. I want a recurring human-like opponent to be a desperately difficult encounter for the full circle. A circle of Solars. This is because, Solars just scream to me that I should try to tell this kind of stories. I am a wielder of greater power, returned after centuries to change things. And you really don't want me to have arch-enemies from past lives and to meet an old sifu to teach me all the esoteric stuff and give me back my artifact sword? They should feel well above my level at the first moment and I should feel well above regular folks, so DnD clearly doesn't work either.

                        As I said: this is just one kind of story you could tell, but a very central one.

                        A practical note: with my players we just decided to heavily nerf Supernal. It only allows you to take charms of Essence 1 greater than your actual rating. We were planning a longer campaign, now after 14th session. We are also using some homebrew charms which give you separate Initiative track(s) at Essence 3+ and some shenanigans you can do with them. Sorcery also received some significant buff, so it is not overshadowed by combat capabilities. Social abilities are about to receive that buff at some later point. Currently, everything runs smoothly.
                        Lioness I'm ok with DoTFA revised charms, so it seems there is no real disagreement between us in this respect, other than purely verbal one.
                        Last edited by Lanic; 01-10-2020, 09:16 AM.

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                        • #87
                          I dispute the notion that you can’t have a meaningful past with a Third Circle Demon; the Manse of Echoes Ascending, one of the Third Circle souls of Malfeas, was married to a Solar in the First Age, and seeks out his new incarnation in the Second.

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                          • #88
                            Originally posted by Lanic View Post
                            Lioness I'm ok with DoTFA revised charms, so it seems there is no real disagreement between us in this respect, other than purely verbal one.
                            Just saying a lot of them look like Solar Circle spells that are presumably in the hands of someone way too subborn to invest in sorcery.


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                            Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.

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                            • #89
                              If you need a human arch-nemesis capable of challenging a fresh Circle of Solars, couldn't an elder Dawn or Dusk do it? In fact couldn't such a foe easily wipe out most of the Circle in a single turn?

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                              • #90
                                Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                                Just saying a lot of them look like Solar Circle spells that are presumably in the hands of someone way too subborn to invest in sorcery.
                                Yes, sure. But the aesthetics of sorcery is very distinct and doesn't necessarily fit your character. Some of them (Essence 8+) seem a bit too powerful and utilitarian at the same time to become sorcery proper, so I have no problem with certain redundancies.

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