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Thematically speaking, what should SMA be?

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  • Thematically speaking, what should SMA be?

    The nigh-unanimous consensus is that 2e SMA is busted as hell. Unlike a lot of 2e's busted elements, 3e apparently plans to bring them back, but nerfed a bit. Which makes me wonder what exactly should SMA be?

    Because...what made 2e SMA broken was kinda the core concept I liked about it? I love how SMA goes beyond "hit people really hard supernaturally" into being this bizarre form of fate-based sorcery where half the charms were screwing with reality. You went from hitting people hard to screwing up their chakras with a punch, hitting one person and simultaneously hitting everyone you can see (hopefully with a house-ruled limit on how many people actually get hit), dragging everyone into a bizarre metaphorical analogy-battle dreamworld, etc. Can a nerfed SMA really be like this? Like, I'm not gonna pretend it wasn't broken as shit, but I'm not sure how you can really balance such inherently ridiculously esoteric and strong martial arts.

    Should SMA remain "actively screwing around with fate to the point of most charms not even being about doing direct damage" or should it become more "attacking directly with fate manipulation in a way that eclipses normal supernatural martial arts"?

    Apologies if this is a can of worms everyone would rather remain closed.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Frostav View Post

    Because...what made 2e SMA broken was kinda the core concept I liked about it?
    I think the main thing that made them broken was that a lot of them were weirdly written and went super abstract in ways that it was difficult to even tell how they were resolved mechanically.

    Charcoal March of Spiders is a concept that can be implemented with much tighter writing and system resolution.


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    • #3
      Its improtant to note that 2e didn't invent SMAs--they existed in 1e (both before my time). Having read them once or twice, none of them seemed...concepts that are inherently determental to balance.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Frostav View Post
        Can a nerfed SMA really be like this?
        Sure, why not? There's already a martial art that lets you wrap someone's intimacies around your hand and slap them into someone else and SMAs aren't that much weirder than that.

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        • #5
          Assuming that 3E Sidereals are still supposed to be Creation's ultimate masters of martial arts, maybe Sidereal martial arts should be a little broken. In a good way.

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          • #6
            Super secret styles made by the Sidereal Exalted to exploit both their affinity for martial arts and magic rooted in reflecting patterns of truths in the world, and which allows them to step some way beyond the limits imposed on them by their nature and the magic "given to" them (in and outside combat). That's what they are and it's great!

            But that's thematically; I also think Exalted is kind of overweight with Charms and mechanical representations (and MA bloat is part of that), and Ex tries now to avoid lots of very high Essence prereq magic, so what this means mechanically IDK.

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            • #7
              Warping reality and having really esoteric effects was never the problem with Sidereal Martial Arts in Second Edition; the issue was stuff like scene-long perfect defenses. It was a mechanically flawed execution of a conceptually sound premise.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                But that's thematically; I also think Exalted is kind of overweight with Charms and mechanical representations (and MA bloat is part of that), and Ex tries now to avoid lots of very high Essence prereq magic, so what this means mechanically IDK.
                I heard on the Rumor Mill that while most MA Charmtrees run from 1-3, SMA may well run through Essence 3-5.

                I don't really consider MA as part of the bloat because in Ex3, the MA charm trees tend to be a lot tighter than Native Charm Trees, by their very nature.


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