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What if... there were no Excellencies?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by KymmetheSeventh View Post

    Cool idea, but it needs a bit more spice. What if, say, the pool of acid the daiklave sits at the bottom of is also infested with acid-breathing sharks, or aquatic demons, or a corrupted elemental of water who was transformed into an acidic abomination by the taint of the daiklave's curse, or really anything else.

    Run a combat in the acid. The player is having to swim a few range bands down to the bottom and then pull the daiklave out from the pool's bottom, all the while contending with acid piranhas or something on top of rolling every turn to avoid taking damage from the environmental hazard. Much more Exalted-worthy, and probably an example of how a character invested in Resistance Charms would have huge ups on somebody who's just rocking the Excellency.
    And before this maybe there's an entire adventure based on finding out just where on earth the daiklave is. After all, catacombs are not small places. You can have social characters try to get people who have devoted their life to keeping the kingdom's secrets safe to part with the knowlege. You can have investigative and lore-focused characters having to search through entire archives holding centuries worth of information, most of it miscellaneous, and most likely damaged by water or fire or mould. Things that a someone with a mere excellency can't do.

    In fact, I'm so inspired by this, I'm going to make a thread about it!

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    • #62
      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

      First, lets acknowledge that the entire fight hinged on Kang winning that clash.
      First, let's acknowledge that Kang had a single medium weapon.

      If he had a light weapon, he'd have +2 Accuracy on that Clash.
      If he had two light weapons, he'd have another +2.
      If he had been mounted, he'd have another +1.
      If he managed a level 1 stunt, he'd have another +2.

      Recalculate the math, then we'll talk.

      You realize that, without stunting, he's throwing 12 dice to resist that bonfire hazard, right? And that creating the hazard is a simple charm? And your entire strategy hinges on the Garda Bird winning the clash and putting wound penalties on Kang... which is exactly why he used his offensive Charm on that Clash?

      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
      Stop goal-post shifting (or derailing with irrelevant ranting).


      Sure, but lets talk about actual straight up combat focused elemental QCs like garda birds if you want to have something that's not a combat encounter for the "oh I have a combat Excellency I'll be fine," crowd. You're not going to Excellency your way through a fight with a garda bird unless you've at least sunk enough dots into getting yourself up to 5/5 instead of 3/3.
      Your premise was that a 3/3 character couldn't beat a Garda Bird using just the Excellency. I decisively proved you wrong. Don't accuse other people of shifting the goalposts and then try to pull this.

      But let's address your argument:

      Why is removing Excellencies fun?

      Because it introduces the chance of failure.

      When you fight the second most dangerous elemental in the game, an elemental the book describes with "This level of competence is the absolute maximum of what can be achieved through a combination of skill, specialization, and equipment. A QC with this dice pool is likely to defeat even specialized player characters if they’re not equally optimized" then the fight is actually hard... unless you are using dedicated magic. It's fun because you get a sense of accomplishment. Because there's dramatic tension back and forth.

      (Don't sit there and say "33% is likely and Dex 3 Melee 3 is optimized". Have a little bit of dignity.)

      It's fun because it doesn't mean scrapping all the published antagonists and the rules and starting over from scratch.

      With one simple house-rule, all of a sudden your perceptive military scout can't read a letting in pitch blackness by running their fingers over the page, but your dedicated blind ninja with Awareness charms can.

      Your barbarian who has never seen a lockpick before can still pick an average locked door
      ... in the dark, without proper tools. But your highbrow socialite with one dot in Larceny can't pick the most difficult door in the world whilst poisonous snakes bite at her... unless she buys the charm that automatically opens locks.

      And this differentiates the characters.

      The military scout and the blind ninja are no longer interchangeable. One PC can do things the other PC can't. Which lets the ST shine the spot-light on different players. PCs can be herded into plot -- you now actually have to find the McGuffin instead of blowing 10m on an Excellency.

      And you lose nothing. The Exalted are still capable of performing legendary feats (like running for three days straight) in their area of focus. They just can't do it in 10-15 areas outside of their area of focus as well.

      Garda Birds, the Essence 4 beings who you named as "combat-focused", become something that can reliably challenge non-combat focused Exalts individually. Because right now, a PC with decent mortal weapons and Dex 3 can walk over them with Melee 3 -- without flaring and having a basically full peripheral mote pool.

      I have three PCs. Garda Birds are described as solitary. I'd need one to challenge the non-combat focused PC, and four more to challenge the two combat-focused PCs. That's a slog. But a three-on-three fight isn't worth running.

      My PCs, who are Dragon-Blooded, just beat a Nephwrack... who was in a Warstrider... with all of the Warstrider's Evocations unlocked. The last time they fought a Nephwrack, it had two mortwrights, a size 5 battlegroup of zombies, and a pair of bonestriders... because that's the level of threat needed to run a challenging fight.

      But it's a slog.

      Make tactics matter. Have it matter whether a foe is prone. Think about disengaging. About delaying. About using a full defense. Challenge the players beyond "insert motes, win prize".

      Look at the social system and how it hinges on Intimacies and the interplay between characters. I think that's far more interesting than "I spend 10m on the Presence Excellency and win". And now look at the Resolve and Guile scores of the published NPCs. If you're using the social system and hitting Intimacies (which penalize Resolve), you basically don't have to touch the Presence Excellency.

      The game works without Excellencies.

      Conversely, just upping all the difficulties doesn't work.

      It means that only characters with Excellencies can succeed, shutting down capable Retainers, and bound demons. It means that your characters constantly have to spend motes: they can no longer do cool things just because they're awesome. It shuts down characters outside their area of expertise.

      The Larceny 0 barbarian trapped behind a locked door can pick that lock in the dark under the RAW difficulty of 2. This means if your unspecced PCs are put in a tight spot, the game doesn't come crashing to a halt. Making picking a lock without lockpicks difficulty 4 and impose a -3 penalty from darkness, and you've shut-down the game. Making Excellencies essential by upping difficulties just encourages folks to spread out for as many Excellencies as possible. It means writing the stat-blocks of all the NPCs. It's a lot of work to enshrine Exalted magic as the highest possible force in Exalted, instead of skill.

      ****

      That said, I don't support removing Excellencies entirely. I suggested a Houserule for scaling them back upthread. In my actual game, we're playing them Rules-As-Written. You can have a lot of fun playing with Excellencies, and if you like playing with Excellencies, then continue playing with Excellencies. I'm not going to come to your table and force you to play the game differently.

      But IF Excellencies are causing you trouble, or, rather, if the difficulty scale in the game is causing your trouble and you're finding it hard to run challenging encounters, then scrapping Excellencies is a quick and easy fix that might increase your enjoyment of Exalted... for all the reasons enumerated in the OP.

      If it's not for you, then don't sweat it. No-one is coming for your Excellencies. Play the game you want to play.

      But please don't argue against the idea if you don't understand the idea.

      There's a natural knee-jerk reaction to "nerfs". No-one wants their character to suck. But all of the arguments made against doing this seem to fundamentally not understand the math behind Exalted RAW. (Accelerator, because I like you, I'll run getting jumped in an alley with a Dex 2 Melee 2 character without an Excellency just to show you that you still won't die. This is the last contribution I'm making to this thread -- Heavy Arms and Co. feel free to take the last word: as far as I'm concerned, the case is proven. The math speaks for itself, and I put greater trust in the facts than rhetoric.)
      Last edited by JohnDoe244; 11-14-2020, 08:44 AM.


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

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      • #63
        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
        Even talking about things like fail percentages are radically different depending on how many rolls are involved. Your average D&D game sees lots of 1s getting rolled despite a 5% chance, because you tend to roll a lot in D&D and the odds of someone getting that nasty 1 (assuming an edition/etc. of D&D where 1s are botches instead of just bad rolls) are generally very high.

        If you want a 40% chance of someone getting a bad roll in a scene, you don't want to boost the difficult up to 40% odds of failure per roll (because that's going to be a ton of failures in a roll heavy scene). You want the odds down around 5% so that it's one memorable fail or two.

        This is a huge source of my frustration with your argument. It treats the math of the game like the only thing that matters are the odds of one player rolling once. I've never been in an Exalted game where scenes that actually break out dice stop at one roll by one player unless the dice rolling was basically showing off by a specialized character or a Charm requires a roll before heading off some obstacle (and even then I've seen those rolls get hand waved).

        The moment I suggest more things happen than one roll in the scene, I'm somehow advocating for massive ST headaches where the players have to roll a hundred times for an hours worth of in game events.

        It just feels like a lot of equivocation.
        This is almost certainly a terrible discussion to jump into as my... ahem... second post, but I feel like there's some cross-talk happening here that doesn't need to be. Before I make a complete fool of myself, though, maybe I should just take a step back to clarify what I think is going on. Please let me know if I'm totally off-base (or if my fumbling attempt to clarify is just annoying!)

        When we're talking about modelling success or failure in Exalted, we have (at least) two knobs we can fiddle with - we can change the dice odds, and we can change the number of times we roll the dice. If I'm getting things right, a key part of DrLoveMonkey's contention is that, if you want some in-game task to have a 40% chance of failure, the best way to model that is to have a single 60-40 randomizer. The reason the Simian Physician thinks this is that randomizing, especially in a game like Exalted with infuriatingly complex mechanics, is time consuming. Since Exalted dice math doesn't readily create 60-40 odds for the kind of Difficulty ~4 challenges that show up in various game materials, getting the desired 40% requires messing with the dice math. Of course, you could also mess with the Difficulties, but DrLoveMonkey rejects that option, either because that requires throwing out a lot of published content, or because they think the existing dice math currently produces the 'right' result for non-Exalts and messing it would require even more changes elsewhere in the system.

        Heavy Arms, on the other hand, prefers to generate that same 40% failure rate by relying on iterative probability. Failing isn't fun, the argument goes, but for various reasons we should have a 40% chance of failure, so the best way to get that probability of failure is by dividing the odds over ten separate 95-5 randomizers. This way the players will succeed on most rolls (which is good, because succeeding rolls is fun) while still having the correct overall chance of failure. As an added bonus, this allows more granularity in both the source of failure, since each trial of the randomizer can represent a different in-game element [first roll is to resist the acid bath, second to dodge the poisoned darts, third through sixth to fight off the acid breathing laser sharktopuses, etc], and the consequences of failure, since it's now possible to 'fail' better and worse.

        Is this a fair summary of the discussion? If so, I think it's pretty clear that there are tradeoffs to be had here, and that how you want to make those tradeoffs is going to depend on nontrivial questions - how many auxiliary changes are you willing to make to published material, how fast are your players at rolling and recording, do your players respond negatively to failing dice rolls, do your players respond especially negatively to failing 'anything but a 1' rolls*, and so on.

        There's lots of other stuff going on too about how character generation incentives will be affected, how to avoid being second edition, and so on, but I'm not qualified to address any of that. Aologies again if that was all obvious or unhelpful.

        *In general I have found that players do getmore annoyed when they fail the 'anything but a 1' type of roll than the '20% of failure' roll - witness the endless discussions in DnD character optimization boards about "iterative probability proofing," for example.
        Last edited by Elenian; 11-14-2020, 06:11 AM.

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        • #64
          Im' totally arriving after the battle, and I don't have a lot to say since you all are very prolific writers, but I'll agree more with Heavy Arms that I think the problem of Exalted from the "challenge" perspective actually comes from the Difficulty scale being poorly designed, and the Excellencies are a symptom of that. However, sometimes treating the symptom can be considered a solution good enough to consider it.

          But ultimately what I hope to have in Essence is really a better Difficulty scale (even though we also have an Excellency revamp, from what I understood)


          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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          • #65
            The difficulty scale seems OK? Mortals who can throw down 5 successes - who are literally the best mortal at what it is - should be able to do about what the scale says they can.

            If then any trouble coming up with extensions of that scale that match levels of successes Exalts can throw about, solution is not to "nerf" mortals, but rather "So much the worse for current levels of escalating successes".

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            • #66
              Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
              The difficulty scale seems OK? Mortals who can throw down 5 successes - who are literally the best mortal at what it is - should be able to do about what the scale says they can.

              If then any trouble coming up with extensions of that scale that match levels of successes Exalts can throw about, solution is not to "nerf" mortals, but rather "So much the worse for current levels of escalating successes".

              I'm not sure I would describe "Difficulty Scale" as ok (or as you say, mostly for mortals). I've had problems with it from the start, and from the few I've seen from Exalted Essence I think they try to address this somewhat.


              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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              • #67
                Originally posted by Elenian View Post
                Please let me know if I'm totally off-base (or if my fumbling attempt to clarify is just annoying!)
                Welcome aboard, and no worries, even if I'm not sure how much it's helping Dr.LM and I, I'm sure people that don't want to wade through the walls of text appreciate the occasional summary/check-in sort of post.

                Is this a fair summary of the discussion?
                It covers a lot fairly well, yes.

                I think there's a third axis I guess it kinda misses out on in terms of non-success/failure consequences. Even if you succeed at X, did it cost you more than it was worse in the larger scheme of things?

                For me, tossing 18 motes at a single on-screen problem is generally a big deal, because you're going to be facing multiple problems in a given scene. This makes things that players can get past by tossing lots of motes at them a risky option. The iterative approach doesn't just have the cumulative odds of failure rack up, but it helps make sure character resource management is more significant. Players are more likely to try to get creative over brute forcing problems to conserve resources if they know they are finite resources within the context of the situation. Or whoever took a cool Charm that's perfect for the situation gets to bust it out as a more cost effective measure. Characters also generally need to be careful with their Animas (Solars and Lunars to avoid giving themselves away, Dragonblooded because of Flux) since not every situation is going to be shoved off to some isolated spot where no mortal witnesses can see. So there's a lot of stuff that can come up even if the players steamroll through all the obstacles without failing a roll.

                Of course... Exalted has a lot of resources to juggle so doing that is definitely a strain for a lot of people.

                ...how to avoid being second edition...
                Well, avoid the bad of 2e.

                I'm generally advocating as a different approach for a change that revives something from 2e. In 2e, penalties were a more prominent feature. 2e, which introduced Excellencies as a concept, had the base 1-5 difficulty scale, but things like adverse weather, darkness, lack of proper tools, etc. were penalties stacked on top of the base difficulty of the action (though we don't need to bring back the clunky internal vs.external penalties thing). While 2e's many core mechanical problems overshadowed little things like this, the Excellencies in 3e kept their impact, but are operating with core rules that lessened the potential for overall difficulty.

                While I lack the time and inclination to implement it, I'd say there's room for something even more drastic: Complications as the Storypath games use them. Since that adds a way more interesting feature. If you're not familiar Complications basically act as optional Difficulty. So a Difficulty 3 action with a 2 ranked Complication takes five successes to completely overcome, but if you only get 4 you can beat the difficulty and have the complication go off as form of partial or mixed success. It's a nice mid-ground as it doesn't change the odds of success/failure, but gives you more to do with successes after 5, and makes it easier to integrate narrative stakes into the situation.

                Imagine something like you're tasked with carrying a large chest from point A to point B, but you're not supposed to open it. A gang finds out and tries to take it. The roll to run away is handled normally, but with a 3 ranked complication from all the hands trying to grab that if you don't buy off, ends up popping the chest open. You got away, you have the chest, but... now you need to figure out how you're going to explain seeing what was in it (or how you're going to cover that up).

                *In general I have found that players do getmore annoyed when they fail the 'anything but a 1' type of roll than the '20% of failure' roll - witness the endless discussions in DnD character optimization boards about "iterative probability proofing," for example.
                Me experience tends to say the roll type matters here. I think the effect is worse in D&D (esp. with autofail on a 1) because it's more mathematically transparent. Dice-pool systems,especially the ST family of them, tends get this reaction less. There isn't as much room for the "anything but a 1" situation, since there's more variables going on. "I need to roll at least one success," gets very rare, very fast, This tends to make overt failed rolls more unique compared to "I needed to roll 4 successes but only got 3" as closer to the "20% fail psychologically.


                Originally posted by Chausse View Post
                But ultimately what I hope to have in Essence is really a better Difficulty scale (even though we also have an Excellency revamp, from what I understood)
                As I understand it, these are things that we have every reason to believe we'll see in Essence; which I'm very much looking forward to seeing how they make it work.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                  The difficulty scale seems OK? Mortals who can throw down 5 successes - who are literally the best mortal at what it is - should be able to do about what the scale says they can.
                  The reading a letter by feeling ink, and surviving a terminal velocity fall unscathed by landing in a hay cart feel very much pushing it on this. This is really getting into the low level supernatural powers territory, not stuff humans can actually do; though mix that around a bit for an action setting where physics aren't as harsh.

                  Looking at examples throughout the systems chapter, you get things like lifting stuff, which definitely gets low level superhuman (or is using some important unspecified metrics that would look nothing like what people probably imagine when it says lift a horse).

                  The bigger issue is really the compression that happens. The sample dangerous hazards skew heavily towards high difficulty as an example. There isn't really a smooth escalation of dangerous to pick from.

                  If then any trouble coming up with extensions of that scale that match levels of successes Exalts can throw about, solution is not to "nerf" mortals, but rather "So much the worse for current levels of escalating successes".
                  This is kinda why I favor making penalties matter more. A maxed out mortal can tame any animal.... in optimal conditions. Exalted get do it while getting smacked around with lots of additional complications. The 1-5 scale gets to cover how hard the animal is to train in normal conditions, and penalties represent all the extras that the current rules compress into more difficulty. It avoids nerfing mortals by mostly avoiding "you'll never be able to do X," with, "Maybe wait for it not to be a hurricane outside to try?" which seems pretty reasonable.

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                  • #69
                    Yeah, I mean that stuff seems fine to me, but this is where it is subjective in whether you are all in on "Peak mortals are about real world people - Exaltation takes them beyond that", or "Peak mortals can go beyond some real life stuff to achieve feats a bit more like people in an action-movie than real world people - Exaltation takes them a bit more beyond that to explicitly supernatural heights". Defending either of these kind of gets us into a whole big argument itself. (Admittedly this is perhaps kind of a rhetorical dodge on my part!)

                    Adding a well defined set of general penalties as an explicitly separate system of modifiers does seem like one of the better ways to functionally extend the difficulty scale, agree.

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post

                      But please don't argue against the idea if you don't understand the idea.
                      Drop the attitude or leave the thread.


                      Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        What counts as "ignore," and "specialize in," since frankly, these things seem far too loosely used as your arguments waffle around between "everything is too easy!" and, "if you try to make it hard it becomes impossible to manage!"
                        Well, when I've gone two or three sessions of Exalted without any players failing any of their rolls, that to me feels like they're ignoring the system. When every single person in the party, every single time, puts 3+ dots into Resistance, 3+ into Awareness, 3+ into Athletics, 3+ into Integrity, and always always 5 dots into a combat ability and still manages to completely fill out their idea of unmatched sorcerer, invisible shadow-thief, or invincible sword princess, it feels to me like they're not really sacrificing much to do that.

                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        I once botched with 13 dice twice in a row, statistically insane... or not with the sample size of how many times I've rolled for Exalted in almost 20 years).
                        Quick math aside, that actually is insane. A double botch twice in a row on 13 dice is a 1 in 600,000 chance. To get those odds you'd need to play exalted every single day, holidays, week days, sick days, everything, for 20 years, and make 82 rolls each day. Although the odds of seeing any given unlikely botch is much higher, which is why most people have a story about one even if they've only seen thousands of rolls.

                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        You want the odds down around 5% so that it's one memorable fail or two.
                        This math isn't an aside, it's relevant. If you have a 95% chance of success, and you roll six times, you get 0.95^6=0.73. Even after six rolls at 95% you're still not likely to fail one. You need to roll it 14 times before you even dip under a 50% chance to get a failure. For me that's way too much rolling with nothing happening, especially considering that these rolls are from the people who didn't put that much effort into being good at it. The guy who actually invested lots of resources into those abilities, they will never fail at them, the guys who don't invest much will fail 1 in every 20.

                        Assuming you don't do enough stuff to drain motes and prevent players from using their excellency charms on challenges like that.

                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        The moment I suggest more things happen than one roll in the scene, I'm somehow advocating for massive ST headaches where the players have to roll a hundred times for an hours worth of in game events.
                        It's not a huge headache for me, or for you, but I have met and talked to online a lot of Storytellers that DO find it a massive headache to include more than 1-2 scenes in less than 2 hours of in-game time They find it unreasonable, they find it artificial, they have trouble thinking up ways to apply pressure, they feel it's antagonistic, etc. If I can tell them "Hey, you're having some problems with this right? In spite of all this advice, it's clearly not working out for you. Maybe if you play the game the way you have been, but remove the excellencies, then you can get the experience you're looking for" that would be good.

                        Assuming you don't do enough stuff to drain motes and prevent players from using their excellency charms on challenges like that.
                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        So, are you going to force players to specialize somehow?

                        What's the incentive to not spread around a good chunk of your Charms picking up those basic "this will ensure I can survive the basic threats presented in the book," Charms?

                        What's hook for the players that aren't already bought into the idea that failing can still be fun?
                        Well, the incentive being things like Mountain Crossing Leap, or Protection of Celestial Bliss or even something like Divine Induction Technique. You could, if you wanted to, make a character who's whole deal is that he's got dozens of low essence charms that help him get through almost any situation utterly unscathed, but in doing so sacrificing the supreme power that comes from the deep investment Solar charms. Which could actually be a really cool character, especially since you'd then end up paying a lot more attention to the various non-charm aspects of the system to push yourself further.

                        If you didn't though, and wanted to go really deep and get those trees, you'd have to open up some holes in your defenses that might cause you to fail sometimes. Maybe take some damage, maybe break a lockpick, whatever.

                        Assuming you don't do enough stuff to drain motes and prevent players from using their excellency charms on challenges like that.

                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        And a perfect example of what I mean by purposefully underselling how much this could suck by taking out all the risks of consequences by having the whole thing boil down to one simple obstacle that the PCs are under so little pressure to accomplish they can sit around resting for two hours after finish. What's even the point of this version's context? Who wants to play that?
                        This is how many people play the game. They might have like, a bonesider fight or something in the catacombs before that, but with everyone sporting artifacts and with maxed out combat abilities that's just an hour and a half of, if anything, people regenning motes through combat. Believe it or not there's a lot of people who play DnD this way even. That's why the DMG suggests an alternative rest system where short rests are a night, and long rests are a week.

                        Assuming you don't do enough stuff to drain motes and prevent players from using their excellency charms on challenges like that.
                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        Well, since AFAIK, we're not talking about a thing for someone that's running the game tomorrow and is in desperate need of a hot patch this instant... we have time to discuss the better but harder option to have a good version of it to present to people later don't we? Instead of shooting it down every time I bring it up?
                        Because changing everything in the published books isn't just a week's work, it's a huge endeavor. I need to change the stats of over 160 antagonists from the various books, maybe over 200, I need to change artifacts, charms, environmental hazards, diseases, poisons, ship stats, so much stuff! If I get rid of excellencies I probably need to rework Feats of Strength and Craft, and that's it.

                        Assuming you don't do enough stuff to drain motes and prevent players from using their excellency charms on challenges like that.

                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        That doesn't mean I want a game where nobody fails in their big power fantasy RPG, it means when talking about things like incentives of what Charms the players will pick after you cut Excellencies, I don't believe that most players are going to go, "I'm fine with poison ganking my character, I totally want a seventh Presence Charm more."
                        Poison doesn't gank your character though. Arrow Frog Venom has a duration of 5 rounds, and 3i damage/round, lethal in crash. If you get hit by it in combat, it doesn't do any lasting damage as long as you have any initiative left, if you get hit by it while in crash you can try to get out of crash before the round ends and it still wont do anything. If you do suffer damage from it while crashed you're very unlikely to suffer more than one or two lethal levels of damage, which won't gank you even if you didn't take any ox-bodies, and that's the most lethal combat poison on the list.

                        That's about the deadliest combat poison. Outside of combat the deadliest poison has to be Yozi Venom, which is pretty damn epic being the poison of fallen titans, and even it is very very unlikely to kill you, even assuming that nobody on your team has the medicine skills to help you out.

                        Which would matter, if you do enough stuff in a short enough period of time to make the 1-2 health levels of wounds you get matter, but if you don't, then they don't matter.

                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        As it stands, walking a tight rope being, say, difficulty 3... it only leaves me two levels of making it harder to compress all other factors into (though the pole could be equipment instead of a difficulty/penalty issue). If situational penalties were default part of consideration, tight rope walking would be difficulty 3, and then I'd have lots of room to play with how hard the situation actually is.
                        But penalties also only go up to -5. Doing a social scene completely naked and covered in blood, fighting while being both blind and deaf, it's pretty much the worst circumstances you can think of, you're probably not running into those very often.

                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        And yet... so many of your responses in this thread feel like they basically amount to, "ignore what I advocated in this other thread, that's all crap."
                        Okay

                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        Many people really don't like to play that way though
                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        it's not that big of a problem if the ST is willing to throw so much at the players that they have to budget against full-excellency on everything, but if you don't want to run that kind of game because you find it exhausting, maybe taking out the excellencies could work to keep that balance.
                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        Many Storytellers find the large number of challenges and necessary doom clock artificial and difficult to consistently fabricate.
                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        Thankfully the DMG suggests alternate rest systems for either amazing epic heroism or a slower pace realism, putting short rests at one per day and long rests at a week. This makes is much much easier to have 1-2 encounters per day, as many people find better suits their pacing.
                        Is it perhaps possible that I'm not the only one not listening here?

                        You might think "Well nobody plays like that." Oh yeah they do. I was in another DnD game maybe last year? The game mostly consisted of a hex-crawl, could be cool, but what the DM did was have us roll a D6 in the morning, and one in the afternoon to see if an encounter happened, 2 for an easy one, 1 for a hard one. You can imagine how that went. I talked to him about it and he felt it was silly to have 6 encounters in one day in the woods. Are chimera as common as squirrels in this forest or something? Which, yeah I can kind of sympathize with, even though it makes the game worse and we should really be doing something to fix it.

                        Cut to a few months later, a high level game with a dragon encounter in its lair. Now it's an ancient dragon, so you'd figure the way up to the lair is full of minions, pitfalls, guards, maybe the dragon itself harries us along the way? Nope, just go there no trouble, enter the cave mouth, in it is the dragon, we fight it, kill it in like 4 rounds, and victory, then we take a long rest there and move out the next day.

                        Some people just like to run games this way. They find the stacking scenes tedious, if it's not moving the plot forward why do we need it? They think it's ridiculously unrealistic to put such a carnival of obstacles in front of goals. I could tell them that they're playing the game wrong, which I do, but people don't like to hear that, and at least one of them even agreed...but still said they didn't like to play that way and kept going anyway.
                        Last edited by DrLoveMonkey; 11-14-2020, 07:59 PM.

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                        • #72
                          Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                          The difficulty scale seems OK? Mortals who can throw down 5 successes - who are literally the best mortal at what it is - should be able to do about what the scale says they can.

                          If then any trouble coming up with extensions of that scale that match levels of successes Exalts can throw about, solution is not to "nerf" mortals, but rather "So much the worse for current levels of escalating successes".
                          They're okay for mortals. The very best mortals in the world when they try will be hitting difficulty 4-5 pretty easily, with stunts and willpower especially they'll be doing it very consistently.

                          Part of the issue with extending the scale past 5 is that reading letters by touch, feeling the ink, that's difficulty 5, so what's difficulty 10? Is it taking a deep breath and reading an entire book in a library a city away by smelling the words on the page? It gets to be so silly so quickly that it's actually difficult to even imagine what you might be doing with them.

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                          • #73
                            One of the big reasons we (our group) plays Exalted as a mechanical system instead of easier systems and like playing it is because Exalted allows players to decide how important a certain roll is. They can decide themselves how important a certain success is and spent ressources accordingly. And that controll over how much a player can spent is extremly important. Exellencies are a very important part of that because they are not "gain exaclty this advantage" but are "how much?" If this makes sense. This gives a lot of agency to the player as they can directly influence their chances of success.
                            This is also the reason why we like willpower as a ressource to completely negate the chances of a botch.

                            Taking away excellencies would not only take away a lot of power (which isn't the problem) but drastically reduce player agency with the current way the system is set up. It would need a complete rewrite of the charm set to make that work in way which would also maintain the same level of player controll a single excellency allows. Without this controll over the odds of success Exalted would not be our go to system.

                            So excellencies are seriously important and at least for us good the way they are.


                            My (mostly) German Exalted blog: Praise the Spiral!

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                              When every single person in the party, every single time, puts 3+ dots into Resistance, 3+ into Awareness, 3+ into Athletics, 3+ into Integrity, and always always 5 dots into a combat ability and still manages to completely fill out their idea of unmatched sorcerer, invisible shadow-thief, or invincible sword princess, it feels to me like they're not really sacrificing much to do that.
                              The fact that you see this behavior yourself, yet think getting rid of Excellencies would encourage characters to specialize more instead of generalize more is a disconnect I can't figure out.

                              You need to roll it 14 times before you even dip under a 50% chance to get a failure.
                              When we spread this out over ~5 players that's really not much rolling.

                              For me that's way too much rolling with nothing happening,...
                              This is also something I can't figure out. This isn't a bunch of rolling with nothing happening, this is a bunch of rolling where the PCs are succeeding at stuff. When I complain about things like the white room... this is what I mean. Rolling a bunch of successful actions equating to nothing happening, means these actions aren't doing their job in the game of actually adjudicating events that matter to the course of the story.

                              The PCs didn't just roll a bunch of successes without failing and nothing happened. They successfully took a risky shortcut through a jungle while avoiding or defeating a bunch of dangerous jungle obstacles, allowing them to get to a kingdom to warn that a barbarian army is coming with more time to prepare for the attack.

                              Assuming you don't do enough stuff to drain motes and prevent players from using their excellency charms on challenges like that.
                              So... you know that you don't actually have to do this every time? Just doing it once and awhile is actually enough. Players that know there's a risk of running into enough trouble that they need to shepherd their resources are going to default to being more conservative with motes even when they don't have to, because they don't know ahead of time how much they might be facing.

                              It's not a huge headache for me, or for you, but I have met and talked to online a lot of Storytellers that DO find it a massive headache to include more than 1-2 scenes in less than 2 hours of in-game time
                              Well, good thing I talked about rolls per scene, not scenes per hour of in-game time.

                              Of course, this is also a great reason to work on house rules like Grod and I were talking about where you divorce mechanics from in-game time units. Since that's a bigger issue here than Excellencies. If you regen 5m at the end of a scene instead of an hour, and trekking through the jungle is just one scene... it doesn't matter how long it takes in-game time, it means players aren't regenning motes until they're through the jungle obstacles (and only 5 when they do).

                              It's also, in many ways, a far easier house rule to implement, as it doesn't muck with character creation, or character aptitudes. It also directly addresses things like putting pressure on players that are tossing lots of motes around, because "I wait an hour" doesn't work, you have to get to the end of the scene to regen motes (or get into meaningful combat and not have to use your combat regen to win).

                              Well, the incentive being things like Mountain Crossing Leap, or Protection of Celestial Bliss or even something like Divine Induction Technique.
                              As noted above, you know that players put bread & butter character protection down first, and awesome stuff second. You see it happen.

                              "I could take X cool Charm now, but hazardous environments could kill me before I get to use it, so I could take some Resistance Charms first," is not a hard choice in most players' minds, for the same reason they're using that pile of creation dots to have all those Abilities at 3.

                              This is how many people play the game.
                              That may be the case, but I have, literally, never seen a game treat that as a scene if that's all that's going to happen. It's a minute, at most, of talking before moving on. I haven't seen "roll once against a single obstacle," in Exalted, in D&D, in the WoD games, in Fate (and Fate aims to have a much smaller number of rolls per scene than most RPGs...), in PbtA games, etc.

                              I suspect how you're describing it isn't really as usefully phrased as possible.

                              They might have like, a bonesider fight or something in the catacombs before that, but with everyone sporting artifacts and with maxed out combat abilities that's just an hour and a half of, if anything, people regenning motes through combat.
                              So, they don't do what you said, because they have more stuff actually happen than, "go into the cavern, quick dip in acid, grab the diaklave, got back and claim your prize."

                              Because changing everything in the published books isn't just a week's work, it's a huge endeavor.
                              Like I said, we're not in any sort of time crunch. Though as I've also argued, there's plenty of changes that aren't as extreme as you're saying even if there's certain some work to them. But you're dismissing all the concerns people have with what happens if you cut Excellencies and change nothing else as non-issues because we need an untested quick fix for... reasons.

                              "Regen non-combat motes by scene no hours," is a quick fix, and doesn't require rewriting the book, as one of many options.

                              I need to change the stats of over 160 antagonists from the various books, maybe over 200, I need to change artifacts, charms, environmental hazards, diseases, poisons, ship stats, so much stuff! If I get rid of excellencies I probably need to rework Feats of Strength and Craft, and that's it.
                              So... what about all the Charms that interact with Excellencies?

                              Poison doesn't gank your character though.
                              Because you have Excellencies. Our non-combat character that suddenly doesn't have Excellencies can't throw lots of motes at JB to start with lots of init. They don't have combat Excellencies to help them regain init by hitting things, especially now that they have an extra -2 penalty on them. You're arguing they're not going to drop a bunch of Charms to compensate when they could be getting some sweet other Charms instead.

                              Kill them? No. Gank them from mattering in that fight? Pretty much (gank can mean neutralize/defeat/steal, not just kill).

                              I also didn't say, "Gank them in combat," since you can get poisoned outside of combat.

                              But penalties also only go up to -5.
                              And is a character with 3/3+Excellency going to bulldoze a Difficulty 5, Penalty -5 roll? Nope. Full Excellency + WP + Stunt and they can give themselves decent odds, but it sets the bar a lot higher than just Difficulty 5 does. If you want to increase the odds of failure for "non-specialized" characters... please actually explain how it doesn't do that.

                              You might think "Well nobody plays like that."
                              I think you're exaggerating how people play to a rather large degree, as you've been equally hyperbolic about how much stuff actually needs to be thrown at the PCs to have risks of failure or to tax their resources. I'm sure there are some portion of people that play how you're saying, but I'm rather unconvinced that it represents anything significant numbers-wise.

                              I also, generally, find it strange when people say, "I want to run a game with minimal obstacles for the PCs, but I want them to feel challenged despite a lack of challenges."

                              It's not about running the game wrong, it's about how they choose to prioritize their time. If they're not going to prioritize their time to working to adapt the system to something that works better for their playstyle.. a hot fix house rule from us probably isn't actually going to do much in the long run for them. If you're going to run Exalted as a game where the PCs only do one big "thing" at a time? That's not wrong, it's just going to cause issues if you, say, also want them to fail a specific amount of the time. You can prioritize addressing that in a number of ways, or you can prioritize having a game that doesn't necessarily 100% suit what you're doing but putting your energy into making it pretty fun anyway.

                              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                              Part of the issue with extending the scale past 5 is that reading letters by touch, feeling the ink, that's difficulty 5, so what's difficulty 10? Is it taking a deep breath and reading an entire book in a library a city away by smelling the words on the page? It gets to be so silly so quickly that it's actually difficult to even imagine what you might be doing with them.
                              See, the thing about extending the difficulty scale if you want to explore that option? It doesn't mean "keep what's currently diff 5 and then going higher from there," it means expanding the scale, and pulling the examples in the book farther along it. So reading a letter by feeling the ink is a diff 7 or 8 roll instead of 5. As I said before, one of the problems with the 3e diff scale is how it compresses things. The hardest animal to tame in Creation has to be diff 3-4, so there's room to make it harder by adding duress, and then there isn't really a lot of room for levels of duress. Expanding the scale means the hardest animal to tame gets to be diff 5, and duress gets to have more levels of difficulty to it to get it up even more (assuming you don't do the penalty route).

                              Assuming you don't do enough stuff to drain motes and prevent players from using their excellency charms on challenges like that.
                              Assuming you want to try to tone things down in this thread, can you stop this please?
                              Last edited by Heavy Arms; 11-14-2020, 11:14 PM.

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                The fact that you see this behavior yourself, yet think getting rid of Excellencies would encourage characters to specialize more instead of generalize more is a disconnect I can't figure out.
                                Because the players get so many ability dots, which come with free excellencies, that they sacrifice almost nothing by taking them.

                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                When we spread this out over ~5 players that's really not much rolling.
                                I guess not, but when it's actually happening it really feels like it is. Like if you're going through two sessions and only one person has failed anything in two weeks of play it feels like pretty much nothing matters.

                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                The PCs didn't just roll a bunch of successes without failing and nothing happened. They successfully took a risky shortcut through a jungle while avoiding or defeating a bunch of dangerous jungle obstacles, allowing them to get to a kingdom to warn that a barbarian army is coming with more time to prepare for the attack.
                                It's not really a risky shortcut or a dangerous obstacle if there's almost no risk and almost no danger. The hazard, or the obstacle might as well not even exist 19 out of 20 times, that's the problem.

                                It's not a problem if the players spending motes to ignore the hazard now have less motes in the next scene. Then the hazard did something. It didn't hurt anyone, or instill any bad intimacies, but it did affect something. If it's just "Oh here's this explosive essence trap, okay everyone is fine" 95% of the time, for me that's no good.
                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                Of course, this is also a great reason to work on house rules like Grod and I were talking about where you divorce mechanics from in-game time units. Since that's a bigger issue here than Excellencies. If you regen 5m at the end of a scene instead of an hour, and trekking through the jungle is just one scene... it doesn't matter how long it takes in-game time, it means players aren't regenning motes until they're through the jungle obstacles (and only 5 when they do).

                                It's also, in many ways, a far easier house rule to implement, as it doesn't muck with character creation, or character aptitudes. It also directly addresses things like putting pressure on players that are tossing lots of motes around, because "I wait an hour" doesn't work, you have to get to the end of the scene to regen motes (or get into meaningful combat and not have to use your combat regen to win).
                                This would also be a good solution, it doesn't quite fix the scenes/day problem, but it would at least let you do something in the morning that impacted something at the night.

                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                "Regen non-combat motes by scene no hours," is a quick fix, and doesn't require rewriting the book, as one of many options.
                                I am totally open to other fixes. What I'm not open to is saying that this isn't even a problem, when I've seen it be a problem.

                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                Kill them? No. Gank them from mattering in that fight? Pretty much (gank can mean neutralize/defeat/steal, not just kill).

                                I also didn't say, "Gank them in combat," since you can get poisoned outside of combat.
                                A -2 penalty in combat isn't necessarily a death sentence. There are few enemies that have 5 defense, and in an actual combat there's onslaught penalties, wound penalties, knocking enemies prone. Maybe that -2 poison penalty will encourage you to work together with your circle, say things like "Oh crap, I'm poisoned and crashed, hey Luke, can you smash this guy with a withering smash to knock his ass down so I can follow up with my own once he has -3 defense?" Which to me is where a lot of the fun in the combat game even comes from.

                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                And is a character with 3/3+Excellency going to bulldoze a Difficulty 5, Penalty -5 roll? Nope. Full Excellency + WP + Stunt and they can give themselves decent odds, but it sets the bar a lot higher than just Difficulty 5 does. If you want to increase the odds of failure for "non-specialized" characters... please actually explain how it doesn't do that.
                                What even warrants a difficulty 5 roll with a -5 penalty? Given the current difficulty scale and penalty scale that's like sprinting across a tightrope the size of a human hair in a rainstorm while carrying two kicking goats. You could change what the difficulty scale means, which would work. If you did that you do weaken mortals and Dragonblooded a lot, not with regards to Solars, that stays the same, but now Dragonblooded have to be a lot more careful about things. Not something I'm totally adverse to, but it would be a side effect.

                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                I think you're exaggerating how people play to a rather large degree, as you've been equally hyperbolic about how much stuff actually needs to be thrown at the PCs to have risks of failure or to tax their resources. I'm sure there are some portion of people that play how you're saying, but I'm rather unconvinced that it represents anything significant numbers-wise.
                                I made an entire thread and put a heck of a lot of work into it specifically because I saw it happening so much, and heard so many people complaining about it happening in their games. Or rather complaining that their PCs were just breezing past everything, and then after some digging finding out it was because they fought a bunch of fog sharks in the fog, and then got to rest for 24 hours before anything else.

                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                Assuming you want to try to tone things down in this thread, can you stop this please?
                                Okay.

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