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How useful is Hardness at low values?

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  • How useful is Hardness at low values?

    Pretty much as the title. There are plenty of effects that give very low values of Hardness: Durability of Oak Meditation gives 4, the Twilight anima power gives 5, etc. So how often are decisive attacks launched with so little initiative behind them?

  • #2
    For one thing, any Hardness at all makes you immune to a Dragon-Blooded's anima flux, which is a big deal when 5 of them are going all super sentai on you. There are also a bunch of non initiative-based decisives that start at very low values like Essence + extra successes and things like that so you might be able to dodge some of those. With 5 Hardness you have a decent chance of no-selling a Death of Obsidian Butterflies.

    There's also the fact that you can use charms to reduce the damage of the attack before comparing to Hardness, like Earth Bears Witness, which effectively "extends" the reach of your Hardness a couple more points, which can catch your opponent off guard.

    Dudes that like poison will often try to nick you with a low initiative decisive because any damage is enough to get the poison on you. I've had one White Veil assasin have a bad time with this because their organ-liquefying charms cost like 5 or 6 initiative before rolling the attack which put them just below that Hardness line.

    Finally, there are flurries, which Solars in particular love. If Dawn McSwordy has 20 initiative or less he won't be able to do a full Invincible Fury of the Dawn on you, he'll have to beef up his base damage or settle for fewer attacks. It's admitedly not a lot, but it does mitigate some damage.

    So in conclusion, not useless, but not likely to come up that often.


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    • #3
      I as a Storyteller have more than once launched decisive attacks from five or fewer Initiative.

      Consider, after all, that success or failure won’t put you at significantly more of a disadvantage, versus the possibility that successfully wounding the opponent may shift the dice in your favor. Especially if you and your buddies outnumber the other guy and his buddies.

      Plus giving them a little wound like that helps ramp up the tension and sense of danger, and makes any conflicts that take place after (but before they’ve had time to heal) more difficult.

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      • #4
        Also without it you can get nickel-and-dimed over the course of a fight or a long series of fights.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by GhanjRho View Post
          Pretty much as the title. There are plenty of effects that give very low values of Hardness: Durability of Oak Meditation gives 4, the Twilight anima power gives 5, etc. So how often are decisive attacks launched with so little initiative behind them?
          How can that question be answered? Can we effectively survey the population of Exalted players?

          I feel as though this facet of game design is less about how "often" a thing happens and more about covering the contingency of it ever happening at all. Just to cover the variety of options and create useful countersigns for them.

          Somewhere out there I expect there's somebody who's run a probability simulation that proposes that low Initiative decisive attacks aren't worth the cost of launching them, and might argue that low Hardness is thus worthless. It makes me wonder how many people playing the game are all that concerned with the probabilities and optimal solutions, as opposed to just playing things how they feel useful in the moment, or even just for the variety.

          I also suppose that a low Initiative decisive gives recourse to somebody frustrated by an inability to get their withering attacks in often enough (or with good enough numbers to get over the soak), and that the way the dice work makes it just possible enough that those few dice could turn up something that actually shifts the tide. I wonder if even the player focused on the number crunching feels tense when four damage dice all turn up successes, and now their character is a lot closer to Incapacitation.

          The odds of the next four damage dice turning up such numbers might be low, but are you sure you want to risk it? The 5 Hardness doesn't cost that much, does it? Just to make killing you something that they need to earn, rather than getting from confidently chasing a fluke born of frustration.

          On the other hand, it might lend a little something to the power fantasy to deny the person struggling to raise Initiative even the Hail Mary of attacking you with little Initiative.

          I'd say these possibilities are worth addressing even if they're a minority.


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          • #6
            Hardness is like Damage resistance or Energy resistance in D&D cant count the number of times people either wiped or saved by resist acid from Melfs acid arrow or other environment damaage

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            • #7
              When you have a somewhat larger group of people (like a group of a half-dozen or more mortals) fighting one stronger individual (like maybe one of the Exalted), it's not a bad tactic for members of that group to throw out a bunch of small decisive attacks every turn to try and take the stronger opponent out of the fight quickly (or at least get a few hits on that enemy so that wound penalties start applying) rather than try and spend time trying to build up larger initiative pools. Basically each member's turn rolls around they could throw out a decisive attack, then reset to base initiative (3) and then throw out another decisive attack for 3 damage on their next turn.

              Having Hardness of 4 or higher completely shuts that tactic down. It makes it so that enemies have to spend a turn or two landing withering attacks to build their Initiative up above your Hardness level before they can even think about throwing out a decisive attack, which definitely helps when fighting against large groups of enemies.

              Overall I find lower Hardness to be much less useful in Exalt on Exalt fights, or fights between Exalted and significantly powerful foes, outside of specific cases like an Exalt using a Charm that allows her to make multiple decisive attacks but requires her to split her initiative pool (in such a case she would have to make sure her decisive dice pools exceed your Hardness rating since making one attack for 12 decisive damage would be more useful than making 5 attacks for 3 decisive damage if you have a Hardness of 4).

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              • #8
                Actually even Hardness 3 stops 3i decisive attacks. They have to exceed your hardness, not match it, to overcome it.

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                • #9
                  I've not really seen it be useful. Seems like it'd be useful against Anima Flux, but it's a bit pricey (except against the more powerful Flux effects like Fire and Earth). Also seems like it'd be useful against multi-attack spam (where you throw 5 attacks, but each one does like 2 damage dice), but that's not something either PCs or NPCs really use in the games I play.


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                  • #10
                    Maybe they’re not using them because of Hardness.

                    Better to have it and not need it, as they say.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                      When you have a somewhat larger group of people (like a group of a half-dozen or more mortals) fighting one stronger individual (like maybe one of the Exalted), it's not a bad tactic for members of that group to throw out a bunch of small decisive attacks every turn to try and take the stronger opponent out of the fight quickly (or at least get a few hits on that enemy so that wound penalties start applying) rather than try and spend time trying to build up larger initiative pools. Basically each member's turn rolls around they could throw out a decisive attack, then reset to base initiative (3) and then throw out another decisive attack for 3 damage on their next turn.
                      That's similar to what I do.

                      Though less emphasis on multiple opponents and more characters who probably won't be conscious next round will try to accomplish something before they get taken out. So it's a popular choice for a mortal sidekick or the Satrap's small annoying dog etc since the PC being attacked has to prioritise between taking them remotely seriously or risking embarrassment.


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                      • #12
                        I've not seen it be useful in the combats I've run.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                          Maybe they’re not using them because of Hardness.

                          Better to have it and not need it, as they say.
                          I think the source of the Hardness might be a bigger issue here though.

                          Having Artifact armor, or being a Twilight that has a Hardness power as part of the package is a bit different than having to dip into the Resistance Charms.

                          Artifacts are always on when you're wearing them, Twilight's Anima goes on for free as full, etc, where DoOM gets consistently less useful the more attackers you're dealing with.

                          There's also the issue of Hardness effectively being Perilous unless noted otherwise (which Twilight Anima Hardness gets). When you're at your most vulnerable, most sources of Hardness aren't there to help keep you safe.

                          So while better to have it and not need it, it's better to get it as part of a package of stuff you're probably going to be using more of the rest, than taking something that's only purpose is giving you Hardness.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                            I've not really seen it be useful. Seems like it'd be useful against Anima Flux, but it's a bit pricey (except against the more powerful Flux effects like Fire and Earth). Also seems like it'd be useful against multi-attack spam (where you throw 5 attacks, but each one does like 2 damage dice), but that's not something either PCs or NPCs really use in the games I play.
                            Yeah mostly the same. I'd like Hardness to be underlined a bit more during my games, the same way Soak gets put forward for character who has them, but not like the way Soak scales because I'm not really interested in putting 25 damage enemies to have the possibility to threaten one player


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                            • #15
                              So, for an NPC, there's basically no reason not to be using a Decisive on every attack. Except Hardness.


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