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Can your Big Bad Villain take 5 Solars at once?

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  • Can your Big Bad Villain take 5 Solars at once?



    So I was playing Pillar of Eternity 2, and one of the boss is this god of erosion and entropy, basically the final end instead of a death-rebirth cycle, he looks like a very scary snow moo.

    And my party wipes our asses using his ugly cow face since 5 people ganging up on one enemy is just that strong of an advantage, the same thing happens in many other games that I play where a group of people beat-up one singled boss who will only pose any dangers if they have some annoying gimmick such as wiping the party if they don't perform X/Y/Z actions.

    But when I look at fictions the opposite of the above happens i.e One single villain soloing the whole party, and it usually ends with a one-on-one duel between the villain and the hero (and sometimes their love interested or rival), the other teammates are basically window-dressing to show how strong the villain is (which is pretty eeeeeh in TTRPG).

    So how do you prefer your boss battle in Exalted? Do you railroad it through fluff and crunch to make it happen like fiction? Or do let the PCs beat the shit out of the lone villain through number advantage?


    The no.1 fan of Demetheus. I also draw Exalted things and is looking for commission works ~

  • #2
    Sometimes a bad guy has minions he employs during the fight so that it’s not five dudes dogpiling onto one guy.

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    • #3
      Isn't this exact thread on page two?

      But yeah. I don't believe in boss fights for Exalted.

      I prefer a cerebral villain. Screenslaver or Mr. Glass sort of thing. "It was Old Man Jenkins all along!" "Kill me and I'll break the dam and flood the village!"

      Individual PCs get their "Hello. My name is Inago Montoya." moments where they solo someone important to them. But a Circle of Five does not get to face down an epic boss. If I have eight hours to spare to run that fight, I'd rather play Twilight Imperium.

      You're supposed to win. You are Exalted. You're not meant to have some nail-bitingly close fight where the Cleric wonders how much diamond dust this is going to cost. And you're not meant to end your campaign with a TPK and darkness swallowing Creation. The PCs are meant to win, and the published antagonists reflect that.

      This said, things like the giant lava monster are supposed to keep things novel.

      But if you've got time to run the combat between Mnemon, bound Octavian, a Size 2 group of Blood Apes, a Size 5 group of Imperial Legionaries led by combat focused Essence 4 General and with two Essence 3 (Experienced Dragon-Blooded) Dragon-lord Mnemon scions vs the Solar Circle then more power to you, I guess. (Don't forget to scale up the opposition once the PCs hit Essence 3.)

      Lunars and Dragon-Blooded can, of course, just be given Solars as boss fights.
      Last edited by JohnDoe244; 02-07-2020, 05:33 AM.


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

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      • #4
        I prefer boss squad to just solo-boss, and if a solo-boss some way to keep up (lots of counter attacks/reflexive actions)


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        • #5
          This topic comes up regularly (I am certain there were at least three thread devoted to it). I am firmly convinced that there should be a room for satisfying fights with one singularly powerful enemy, because of its central narrative role.

          I homebrewed some charms which are intended to help the boss survive the fight, by essentially giving them extra initiative tracks. So, you just virtually treat the boss as separate combatants, but describe them as a single person.

          The way charms are written are intended for a use both for NPCs and PCs, but you can easily ignore it and treat it as exclusively NPC feature, (and it's a Solar version only, I plan to modify them for different splats).

          GENERAL COMBAT CHARMS
          Steel Faster than Thought [Fist Faster Than Thought]

          Cost: 10 m, 6i, 1 wp
          Mins: Meele [Brawl, Martial Arts] 4, Essence 3
          Type: Reflexive
          Keywords: Perilous, Stackable, Heavily Apocryphal
          Duration: One Scene
          Prerequisite Charms: Any fifteen Meele [Brawl, Martial Arts] Charms

          This charm cannot be learned before reaching Essence 3

          Upon paying the cost of this charm, Solar opens an additional Initiative Track. Effectively, the combatant now has two Initiative scores. The initial value of the new score is determined by a Join Battle roll. Whenever the character makes a withering attack, she can make an additional attack with an additional track at the tick determined by the Initiative value in the respective tracks. Initiative gathered with attacks is stored in the respective track. Whenever an enemy makes a withering attack, its their choice which track is affected.

          If an attack would bring an Initiative score in one of the tracks below zero, this track is closed. Remaining withering damage affects remaining Initiative tracks chosen by the attacker.
          If any effect other than a withering attack grants Solar Initiative, the player might add this Initiative to any chosen track. Initiative cost of charms and evocations may be paid from any track chosen by the player. Effects which subtract character's Initiative, subtract it from any track chosen by the player who invoked the effect.

          Decisiveattacks can use only Initiative from one track per attack but reset all Initiative tracks to their base value. Additional initiative tracks do not allow a character to make additional decisive attacks. If a character is able to make several decisive attacks in one turn, the Initiative from different Initiative tracks may be used in these attacks. Initiative from two different tracks cannotbe combined in one attack.
          Whenever initiative value in the additional track becomes zero, that track is closed, and has to be reopened using this charm. This does not count as Initiative Crash, unless all tracks are closed.
          This charm can be purchased [Essence – 2] times, allowing to have the number of opened initiative tracks equal to the number of times this charm was purchased.
          Master's Blade Strikes [Master's Fist Strikes]

          Cost: 6m
          Mins: Meele 5, Essence 4
          Type: Reflexive
          Keywords: Dual, Heavily Apocryphal
          Duration: Instant
          Prerequisite: Steel Faster Than Thought [Fist Faster Than Thought]

          This charm cannot be learned before reaching Essence 4

          In her turn, Solar can reflexively close one of the Initiative Tracks and make a decisiveattack using Initiative exclusively from that track. The attack happens on the tick determined by the initiative value of the closed track.

          If the rest of attacks are withering, this does not reset them to base Initiative. If the rest of attacks are decisive, this creates an additional attack that does not count towards the limit of the number of attacks generated by other charms (although the Initiative from this attack may be split into more attacks using the normal rules of charms generating these additional attacks).

          Unsurpassed Battle Awarness
          Cost: -
          Mins: Meele [Brawl, Martial Arts] 5, Essence 5
          Type:
          Keywords: Heavily Apocryphal, Perilous
          Duration: Permament
          Prerequisite: Steel Faster Than Thought [Fist Faster Than Thought]

          This charm cannot be learned before reaching Essence 5

          This charm enhances its prerequisite. Whenever Solar rolls join battle, survives an initiative crash or closes the last opened additional initiative track while not in the initiative crash, she reflexively opens one initiative track at the beginning of her turn. Initiative value in that track is set equal to the base value ifthe track was closed by performing a decisive attack or to one otherwise.


          Interaction with Single Point Shining in the Void
          The Initiative tracks generated by the Solar charm are considered separate from the Sword's track. Steel Faster than Thought cannot create additional tracks for the Sword.

          BRAWL SPECIFIC CHARMS

          Wounded Lion Bites

          Cost: 5m
          Mins: Brawl 4, Essence 4
          Type: Reflexive
          Keywords: Withering-Only, Heavily Apocryphal
          Duration: Instant
          Prerequisite: Fist Faster Than Thought

          When in Initiative Crash and making a witheringattack, the character may launch an additional withering attackon the same tick.


          MELEE SPECIFIC CHARMS

          Finesse of Supreme Balance

          Cost: 2m + 1m for 1i
          Mins: Meele 4, Essence 4
          Type: Reflexive
          Keywords: Heavily Apocryphal
          Duration: Instant
          Prerequisite: Steel Faster Than Thought

          When awithering attack would close an Initiative track, Solar may reflexively mitigate the damage by transferring the Initiative from any of the remaining tracks. This costs 1m for one point of transferred Initiative. The final Initiative value in the target track cannot exceed its value before receiving the attack.

          Solar Impossible Defence

          Cost: 4m
          Mins: Meele 5, Essence 5
          Type: Reflexive
          Keywords: Heavily Apocryphal
          Duration: Instant
          Prerequisite: Steel Faster Than Thought, Protection of Celestial Bliss

          Solar may close any chosen Initiative track and add [Initiative in the closed track/2 rounded down] Initiative for one tick to the pool generated by Protection of Celestial Bliss. This may be used after the attack roll of the opponent is made but before the damage roll.




          EDIT: Actually, this somewhat aligns with others' suggestions that the boss better be made multiple opponents, since I was really looking for a way to make the boss mechanically close to multiple opponents while not going in that direction in the narrative.
          Last edited by Lanic; 02-07-2020, 07:54 PM.

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          • #6
            I usually try to have boss fights that aren’t solo encounters, even in DnD. One lone dragon dies in like two turns to a good 4-person party even without the wizard pulling shenanigans.

            It’s a bit more extreme in Exaltwd for two reasons.

            1. Solars are supposed to be very strong. So strong that the greatest Solar warriors are the equal Or maybe even greater than directional war gods. Which is appropriate because they’re the biggest sworn enemy of the worlds greatest nation, the worlds largest religion, the worlds more prevalent exalted, the demons of hell, monsters of the underworld, and nightmares of the feywyld. If they weren’t badass enough to easily beat Octavian 5v1 they wouldn’t stand a chance.

            2. The way players build PCs is often to make them always a badass warrior in addition to whatever their concept is. So your big bad god monster isn’t just fighting five solars, he’s fighting five great Solar warriors with a dozen combat charms each. Which turns a battle that should require some thinking into a cakewalk. Which is true even if your PCs aren’t Solars.

            Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
            Lunars and Dragon-Blooded can, of course, just be given Solars as boss fights.
            Even then that’s hard. If you try to run the Prince Resplendent or the Wandering Deathknight or any of the characters from Tomb of Dreams as a boss against a circle of DBs or even worse Lunars they’re going to die FAST and not accomplish much before they do. You could raise up the Tomb of Dreams characters to chargen level and run the whole circle against a group of Lunars or DBs and it would still be easy. Most of them are just missing charms anyway.


            Even if you’re building a Solar out of the corebook unless you build it and play it exactly the right way it’s not going to work. They’re just going to run out of motes and get their spine broken by a Lunar or be torn apart by terrestrial animas 95% of the time.

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            • #7
              One of my first really successful Big Bad Guy Battle was one where I divided the characters in order for them to have strong narrative fights : The Twilight fought his Lunar mate, the Night Infiltrated the enemy 2nd Circle Demon, the Dawn and the Eclipse protected the Immaculate Temple against the enemy champion (but not big boss) and his troops, and finally when everything was done those of them that were not exhausted fought the Abyssal leading the enemies.

              It worked real wonders. Never seen my players being so involved. But I find it difficult to reproduce, some groups accept this kind of thing naturally, others are not interested.

              My second Big Boss Battle was also successful from the "fight" perspective, but I believe less from the emotional perspective (because the Big Bad Guy showed up recently, so less connection) : Basically a Legendary size, with an elemental duckflame mounting a giant salamander, and a spirit of fire possessing the sister of one of the players. Like I said rather good fight, but less emotional drama (the other was the conclusion of a 2 year campaign). Still taught me a lot on how to handle strong NPC's and how to make a lot of good stuff. But clearly One Big Bad guy doesn't work, or else you make him acting so much or having so much powers it becomes a caricature of power.


              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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              • #8
                I think the constraints of the basic 1e setting core on this are maybe slightly less inhibiting towards this than might be thought.

                The designers and setting writers could've come down more than they did on the side of giving each of the Solar Castes a bit more power in each of their venues (combat, infiltration, magic, discovery, social skills and so on) in buffing a small circle of other Solars, and slightly less emphasis on isolated personal power, and maybe slightly less power overall, while still basically fulfilling them being what the 1e core said they were (strong heroes in each of their Caste domains, and the mightiest of Exalted, in circle and hosts).

                They didn't very much! It doesn't seem like Solar Circles being more than the sum of their parts has been a huge mechanical priority (and I might be wrong about this). But totally nothing about the basic setting limits that, it's just not that emphasized.

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                • #9
                  I agree with people's suggestions of multiple opponents. That's generally how I do it. One might be "the boss" but he can have a couple of lieutenants and a battle group of mooks (battle groups are nice tar-pits, as they don't give out a lot of initiative and can attack most of the PCs simultaneously).


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                    I think the constraints of the basic 1e setting core on this are maybe slightly less inhibiting towards this than might be thought.
                    The 1e core also seemed to have a different idea about what epic Exalted heroes really means. Before the Castebooks/Aspect books came out the charms were a lot more low-key. Still way more epic than starting DnD characters but much less than what it turned into.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                      The 1e core also seemed to have a different idea about what epic Exalted heroes really means. Before the Castebooks/Aspect books came out the charms were a lot more low-key. Still way more epic than starting DnD characters but much less than what it turned into.
                      I remember getting the Corebook when it was new and complaining about how majorly broken it was. Reflexive Dodge with Shadow Over Water? Scene long Dodge with Flow Like Blood?!? Hax!

                      How little we knew...


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

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                      • #12
                        DrLoveMonkey, certainly true, although to clarify, I perhaps should have said "Base premises of the setting" and left out the bit about 1e, as less wanting to say stuff about shifting premises over time (or, worse anything which could be construed as making claims about "How things were back when they were AWESOME!")and emphasis more about what the basic nature of the setting allows.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                          I remember getting the Corebook when it was new and complaining about how majorly broken it was. Reflexive Dodge with Shadow Over Water? Scene long Dodge with Flow Like Blood?!? Hax!

                          How little we knew...
                          I wasn't even thinking so much about crazy dice tricks, it was a lot more like other RPG systems in what it focused on and what it made you roll for. It feels a lot more Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, or House of Flying Daggers than Asura's Wrath or Herculean Trials. I mean, one of the many enemies it says Solars have to face is mobs of angry mortals because enough men with bows can bring down any hero.

                          The Storyteller section even suggests not making your characters the most important people in the world, and warns against conflating good drama with powerful characters. Citing Superman and Batman of all things. Which is hilarious considering by Autocthonians they statted up the Lion to be basically invincible.

                          Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                          DrLoveMonkey, certainly true, although to clarify, I perhaps should have said "Base premises of the setting" and left out the bit about 1e, as less wanting to say stuff about shifting premises over time (or, worse anything which could be construed as making claims about "How things were back when they were AWESOME!")and emphasis more about what the basic nature of the setting allows.
                          Ah I see. I think the best way to represent Solars requiring eachother in teamwork is to array them against a wide variety of challenges. The Dawn might be invincible in combat but you can't kill a storm.

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                          • #14
                            How interesting, so people always aim to make the combat Big Bad a boss-type of confrontation by giving them henchmen or effect that counter the PC's superior number.

                            Is this because battling the villain through a long combat session is just what people expect supposed to happen at the end of the story? Is it possible to get some good drama when your PCs complete crushes FaFL when he tries to solo you like an Evil Overlord?


                            The no.1 fan of Demetheus. I also draw Exalted things and is looking for commission works ~

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jen View Post
                              How interesting, so people always aim to make the combat Big Bad a boss-type of confrontation by giving them henchmen or effect that counter the PC's superior number.

                              Is this because battling the villain through a long combat session is just what people expect supposed to happen at the end of the story? Is it possible to get some good drama when your PCs complete crushes FaFL when he tries to solo you like an Evil Overlord?
                              Mind, the only examples we have so far are in the published materials, so we don't know how OP Deathlords are.

                              Technically, it is possible to make rules that lets one character take on 5. (Like I'm sure if DrLoveMonkey, JohnDoe and myself got together and said "Lets make the Mother of all bosses" we could think up something that makes PCs weep).

                              Lunar Elders from the book couldn't take on a circle of Solars though, this I'm pretty sure, barring shennanigans.

                              prototype00

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