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What if... there were no Excellencies?

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  • #91
    So, points that have been made so far:
    1) Excellencies will always exist. Design-wise, they're low-hanging fruit, and at least combining them into one framework makes them uniform and reduces word count.
    2) Difficulty is borked. The absolute minimum that needs to be done is upping the scale from 1-5 to 3-7 a la ExEss, and moving away from a five-point scale is even better. Also use more penalties.
    3) The mismatch of narrative and game time only leads to headaches.
    4) It can be difficult to, on any kind of consistent basis, make situations where mote attrition/anima flare matter dramatically.

    An idea I had that keys into the third and fourth points is the use of the Glory Overwhelming system. For those unfamiliar, the Exalt is only limited in how much Essence they can spend per tick, with their "pool" refilling every tick. However, spending too much at a time (especially if trying to be sneaky) causes the buildup of Essence Fever, which has all manner of fun effects. So, using that system, the Exalt with the "spend 5 motes and be immune to acid" Charm spends 5 motes and gains 1 fever. The 3/3 Exalt with just the Resistance Excellency, by contrast, spends 6 motes and gains 1 Fever per turn. Along with all the damage from failed rolls/flaring anima.

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    • #92
      Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
      The threadcrapping is strong here and I'm inclined to shut down the thread. Anyone want to give me a reason not to?

      As a reader I have found the discussions here helpful and insightful.

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      • #93
        Originally posted by habitableexoplanet View Post


        As a reader I have found the discussions here helpful and insightful.
        Likewise. 91 posts in, I think @GhanjRho's post is still making intersting points.

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        • #94
          The threadcrapping (if there is any) is not strong enough to even remotely justify this insightful and interesting discussion.

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          • #95
            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            Of course, I can also build a group that would get trounced by that. The biggest question is really whether or not someone takes enough Survival for what amounts to only getting 4 rolls on the extended check since that's a make or break action for the group.
            Yeah, and I wouldn't want to make something that's unfair to the group, but it's not like failing here leads to a TPK or anything.

            Even if you did breeze though that one, that's okay, you can breeze through things once and a while. In fact you should, the whole game shouldn't revolve entirely around everything your character is bad at. Just don't expect the next one to be so easy.

            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            I still find it odd that we're in a thread talking about how easy it is for Solars not to fail, and you're saying that players that don't like a lot of "back and forth" in terms of successes and failures are picking the wrong system. How can the game be simultaneously in need of a reduction in the PCs' ability to bulldoze through things for a significant number of playstyles, and the RAW be bad for people that like how easily the PCs can bulldoze through things?
            Okay, it's like this. People play DnD basically for the combat, the exploration, and the social pillars, generally. Now, imagine it was a different system instead which has those pillars, but 80%-90% of the game is taken up by item maintenance mechanics. There's twelve different kinds of oil for keeping bladed weapons from rusting in different environments, skills and special abilities to repair broken armor straps, your character's paperdoll includes shoulder-straps, greaves, belts, gambeson, every part that might break and need repair. This is all balanced on a system of cost for maintenance supplies, availability, reusability of repaired items, consumable stuff like oil for your block and tackle, stuff like that.

            So every time you play you're rolling to see how effective your oil is, managing your resources to make sure you can buy enough leather thread, rolling to apply the grease properly, whatever. The thing is, nobody there really likes doing that, so the DM keeps loading everyone up with money, and pretty much making everything available whenever you want, but because of the rules you still have to roll on it. Even though at this point it's basically meaningless to track gold, or to roll on those weapon degradation tables, you always apply the mega expensive all-purpose oil that doesn't care about environment and roll to see how many days it lasts, even though you have 5 doses and buy 5 doses every time you're back in town.

            It's not what you're playing the game for, so you're trying to cut it out, you're doing everything you can to minimize its impact, but doing it imperfectly. You're still rolling a bunch of maintenance and tracking a bunch of resources every game. What you could be doing is just playing DnD, a system designed around the idea that weapon maintenance is some background thing that pretty much takes care of itself, and lets you focus on the fun parts that you like.

            Am I making any sense here? Exalted Third Edition has huge lists of pages of stuff, different weapon tags, initiative shift, poisons, environmental hazards, diseases, curing diseases, investigation rolls, concealing evidence rolls, mounted combat, lance specific weapons in mounted combat, armor for your horse vs your monstrous mount, tons of stuff that affect dice rolls, bonuses, penalties, botches, charms, stunts, all of that revolves around a system of figuring out if you pass a roll, or if you fail it. If you look at that and go "okay, but if we play this certain way, and build characters a certain way, we can pretty much ignore all those environmental hazards, poisons, botches, etc, etc" then why not just play the game that does that automatically? Why do all the stuff that makes the mechanics of the game never matter?

            It's not even like Godbound or Godsend doesn't have epic stuff like that, your character can absolutely just walk through a bonfire, or moonwalk across a tightrope, it's just that you don't roll for that, and don't need to build your character a certain way to do it. You just do it automatically and focus on the stuff that really matters.

            All assuming that the person running the game isn't using those mechanics to squeeze

            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            So making me feel like shit worked out well for you emotionally, and you felt the need to share. Thanks?
            I'm sorry that your feelings were hurt. I want you in this hobby. You, specifically, I want you here, on this forum, playing Exalted, having fun. I also understand that that is a non-apology, but I can't apologize for something that I don't feel like I did wrong. I suggested Godsend based entirely off of prior success showing people that system and having them go nuts for it. People always say things like "The greatest problem that a Dawn has is not the fights she gets in, but staring down at her hands and remembering the rivers of blood they have spilled, or sitting on her throne, weeping as there are no horizons left to conquer, and no worthy foes left to face" and then the system falls flat on it's face and breaks its nose in the attempt to portray that.

            What I will apologize for is the way I suggested it, I was angry, I felt like you were accusing me of being duplicitous which is a serious trigger for me because I pride myself in being as honest as I can. Next time I will try to remember that.

            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            OK. We're on what.. day 5 of this thread? The two of us have typed up at least half of the content in it? You have time for all this back and forth that frankly I'm not even sure where you're trying to go with it... but you don't have time for more constructive discussions? That feels kind of a weird claim.
            If you asked me to actually re-write the system so that it facilitates what I'm talking about better from a ground up level, I'm going to say that's going to take me ~5 months at least, assuming I was neither in school or working, when I'm actually doing both.

            It would take weeks just going through every antagonist and re-writing them, once you actually figured out what you were even going to do with them.

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            • #96
              I'm going to be brief simply because without hearing from the mods yet, I'm hesitant to continue down certain tangents further.

              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
              Am I making any sense here?
              Yes, but I think you're trying to logic your way through an emotional reaction. Player preferences and biases are varied, complex, and generally not a rational analysis of system specifics.

              I'm not sure where the point you're going for is going though. I can't find the thread of how this ties back to what to prioritize with potential rules changes. I think it would be best to refocus on that.

              What I will apologize for is the way I suggested it,...
              Thank you. This was, for me, the bigger issue anyway.

              If you asked me to actually re-write the system so that it facilitates what I'm talking about better from a ground up level, I'm going to say that's going to take me ~5 months at least, assuming I was neither in school or working, when I'm actually doing both.

              It would take weeks just going through every antagonist and re-writing them, once you actually figured out what you were even going to do with them.
              OK. Since we're not going to do that though, how do you feel about working on the list of things I've talked about, what GhanjRho put up? Things that aren't a fundamental reworking of the whole game, but could use the work of a few people since it's they're be more than just house-ruling out Excellencies.

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              • #97
                Originally posted by GhanjRho View Post
                So, points that have been made so far:
                1) Excellencies will always exist. Design-wise, they're low-hanging fruit, and at least combining them into one framework makes them uniform and reduces word count.
                2) Difficulty is borked. The absolute minimum that needs to be done is upping the scale from 1-5 to 3-7 a la ExEss, and moving away from a five-point scale is even better. Also use more penalties.
                3) The mismatch of narrative and game time only leads to headaches.
                4) It can be difficult to, on any kind of consistent basis, make situations where mote attrition/anima flare matter dramatically.
                Great summary. Some thoughts:

                Re #2 - In addition to using more penalties, I think you could also aim to have more situations where carryover successes do something interesting. Excellencies work better for combat situations partly because the resource management game is more intense, but also partly because doing really good on an attack roll actually counts for something. Generally this is discouraged elsewhere, but I think that's a bit of an overcorrection. Maybe getting lots of bonus successes on your survival roll to travel the wilderness gets you bonuses to resting to recover willpower, or craft rolls to restock your ammunition as you go, or something (I'm just spitballing).

                Also Re: #2 - Sorry if this has come up before, but holding the scale itself to one side, it feels like an issue with Excellencies here is mostly how unnecessarily high the caps are? If we take the stated goal of excellencies as "basic competence booster", then it seems like a flat cap like "5 dice" (less for non-Solaroids) might be more appropriate than Ability + Attribute? That way an entry-level (say, dice pool of 5) Solar can drop motes to go from ~10% to around 60% chance of hitting difficulty 5, and a strong Solar can get meaningfully better when opposed by another Essence-wielder. Feels like it somewhat mitigates 3 as well since, if the ceiling on what you can do with it is lower, the weirdness caused by being able to drop full-excellency on any dramatic action is less.

                Speaking of 3, I think this is mostly the intersection of the Storyteller systems trait-mix-and-match dice pools with wanting to keep the mechanics for the traits symmetrical. In principle any trait can come when time is a factor or when it isn't (e.g. if you roll Melee + Int in place of Bureaucracy + Int to appraise a sword, you also get to use your Melee excellency!). It's just that for some Abilities this is way more or less common. So by way of mitigation, you might just say "when time isn't a factor, ignore mote costs; a character with an appropriate Excellency simply adds +2 successes to relevant non-combat-time rolls" or whatever.
                Last edited by Blackwell; 11-17-2020, 11:48 PM.

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                • #98
                  One of the problems with reducing the dice-caps is a lack of room for the other Exalted if you want to keep Excellencies distinct. One of the stated reasons Ex:Ess is reducing the differences between the Exalted for that project, is so Excellencies work the same (for the most part) across the board. That means they don't have to worry about what to do with DB Charms beyond Excellencies getting very meh if they're cap of 5 or 6 gets halved to 2 or 3. Likewise the Lunar Excellency stunting bonus would be difficult to differentiate from the normal stunting bonus if start doing the same.

                  This is why earlier in the thread I suggested capping Excellency expenditures based on Essence. As character progress, their Excellencies get better, but they've also had reason to invest deeper into Charms in the meantime (since they could hit their cap in other ways). And at high Essence ratings, you're expected to be dealing with things in the setting with their own massive power.

                  The timing issue is something that goes beyond Excellencies really. The game's flipping back and forth between narrative time units, and in-game time units just messes with pacing in general. While it's directly relevant to the discussion of the thread in the area of making it easier to put pressure on the PCs by making things less contrived, It has knock-on effects throughout the system that messes with different approaches to pacing the game. The game is written somewhat towards the idea that lots of time will pass between moments of heavy action. Straying from that pacing structure (which is easy to do as it isn't explicitly written out that way) can cause all sorts of issues.

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                  • #99
                    As someone who played a good deal of 1E Exalted, the lack of die adders was a real problem in the games I ran. 2E made them universal, which was helpful, but they were still an XP expensive speedbump sometimes. 3E's approach, is even better in my experience. I quite enjoy free excellencies and don't want to see that changed.

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                    • Originally posted by Tytalus View Post
                      As someone who played a good deal of 1E Exalted, the lack of die adders was a real problem in the games I ran. 2E made them universal, which was helpful, but they were still an XP expensive speedbump sometimes. 3E's approach, is even better in my experience. I quite enjoy free excellencies and don't want to see that changed.
                      I agree with you about the Dice Adder phenomenon, and I like excellencies. I think my main issues with them is the quantity of successes/dice they give. rolling around 3-12 dices per roll is something I can do, rolling 15+ per roll becomes annoying and makes the Difficulty Scale look really blend. I think the effectiveness of Excellencies would scale much better with the current Difficulty Scale (except specific subsystems like Craft and Socrecy) if their numerical effectiveness was halved.


                      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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                      • I think halving the dice-cap needs to address what happens to non-Solars. Halving Lunars to 3 with the potential for 6, and Dragonblooded to 2 or 3 with a specialty nerfs not just Excellencies but their whole Charm sets.

                        If everybody's max dice-cap is moved to 5, but with some way of breaking that cap, how do you keep Solars both the mechanical monarchs of dice mountain, and not end up with them at huge dice-pools for lots of things if not everything anyway?

                        It's no necessarily a bad idea, but it has a huge amount of knock on effects that mean redoing things to the point of getting closer to Ex:Ess rather than a simple house rule.

                        Though you can keep the dice pool size down by just having more stuff grant successes instead of dice. Things could get interesting if you lifted the Storypath rule that by default bonus successes only apply if the initial roll has at least one success in it. Even though the average successes of rolling 12 dice, and 6 dice + 3 successes if you roll one success is almost the same in terms of average performance, the dice-pool is much more manageable and the odds of failing are higher (if still pretty small).

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                        • Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          I think halving the dice-cap needs to address what happens to non-Solars. Halving Lunars to 3 with the potential for 6, and Dragonblooded to 2 or 3 with a specialty nerfs not just Excellencies but their whole Charm sets.
                          Could you give some examples of how this hurts Charm sets? Ideally, outside of Craft and Feats of Strength, since everyone seems to agree that their math would need to change.

                          This is a hack I've considered, so I'm curious what consequences others have forseen.


                          "For me, there's no fundamental conflict between really loving something and also seeing it as very profoundly flawed." -- Jay Eddidin

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                          • Originally posted by Chejop Kejak View Post
                            Could you give some examples of how this hurts Charm sets? Ideally, outside of Craft and Feats of Strength, since everyone seems to agree that their math would need to change.

                            This is a hack I've considered, so I'm curious what consequences others have forseen.
                            I'd add sorcerous workings alongside craft and feats of strength as a place where incredibly high difficulties that only excellencies can hit is a deliberate tool.

                            Charms that add more than (dicecap) dice or equivalent successes would get worse - Water Dragon Form and Earth Dragon form would do this sometimes, Death Ray would always do this,
                            Things that add free excellencies would get worse - perfect strike discipline, awakening eye, and instinctive supremacy approach do this.
                            Things that add non-charm dice/successes/equivalent would get better, since "just use the excellency" is less of an option - hail-shattering practice and spring follows winter are two examples of what I mean.
                            Charms that have a roll with a very high difficulty would be harder to hit - Dogstar Ruminations for example (Not sure how many of those there are, and that charm in particular has been the topic of some debate, so maybe not the biggest deal in practice).

                            It's harder to spend motes, so people run out of motes slower, making mote-expensive effects better and mote-cheap or mote-gaining effects worse. A dragon blooded physically can't raise their anima with excellency alone.

                            Places where you roll something non-excellencyable or set a non-excellencyable static value are not made weaker, which makes them stronger if compared to an excellency able value - charms that compare damage to resolve, or Dragon Vortex Attack, which can theoretically reach difficulty 9

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                            • Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                              I'm sorry that your feelings were hurt. I want you in this hobby. You, specifically, I want you here, on this forum, playing Exalted, having fun. I also understand that that is a non-apology, but I can't apologize for something that I don't feel like I did wrong. I suggested Godsend based entirely off of prior success showing people that system and having them go nuts for it. People always say things like "The greatest problem that a Dawn has is not the fights she gets in, but staring down at her hands and remembering the rivers of blood they have spilled, or sitting on her throne, weeping as there are no horizons left to conquer, and no worthy foes left to face" and then the system falls flat on it's face and breaks its nose in the attempt to portray that.

                              What I will apologize for is the way I suggested it, I was angry, I felt like you were accusing me of being duplicitous which is a serious trigger for me because I pride myself in being as honest as I can. Next time I will try to remember that.
                              Here's a good template for avoiding non-apologies:

                              "I'm sorry I hurt you. That wasn't my intention. I was trying to accomplish [X], but I see how I [made an error/hurt you in the process/could have done X better]. Thanks for letting me know I hurt you. Next time, [I'll try to do Y instead/what would be a better way of approaching X?]"

                              Even if I made all the "right" choices, I can acknowledge the pain I've caused, state what I learned, and state my intention to avoid causing pain again if possible.


                              Hey, check out my first original RPG, Post-Mortem, here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/307131/PostMortem

                              Or read my Exalted novella The Silence of Our Ancestors here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...looded-Novella

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                              • Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                This is why earlier in the thread I suggested capping Excellency expenditures based on Essence. As character progress, their Excellencies get better, but they've also had reason to invest deeper into Charms in the meantime (since they could hit their cap in other ways). And at high Essence ratings, you're expected to be dealing with things in the setting with their own massive power.
                                Apologies if I'm not understanding this correctly, but for your Essence cap idea, are you proposing that the limit on how much Essence you can spend is universal (the same amount among all Exalt types, like "Permanent Essence x 3 motes per turn,") and keeping dice caps the same, or that different Exalt types have different mote caps ("Solars can spend Permanent Essence x 4 motes per turn, and Terrestrials can spend Permanent Essence x 2 motes each turn") and have the same dice cap (like a universal "Max 5 dice").

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