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  • DrLoveMonkey
    started a topic My Problem With Chargen

    My Problem With Chargen

    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    This isn't the topic for it but I'm curious, can you PM the reason why or make a thread on it?
    I've said all this before elsewhere so sorry to anyone who thinks I'm sounding like a broken record.

    Okay so I'm going to start by saying why I think the antagonists sections and Hundred Devil Night Parade and stuff are largely good, although with some outliers. Look at the militia statline, 6 dice to their sword attack, 6 soak, defense of 2. stealth 5, senses 4. These guys know how to handle themselves, they've got some training in how to wield a sword and move quietly, all advantageous to a soldier. Now let's look at battle ready professional soldiers, they've got double the defense, one extra die to attack and damage, and 2 more soak, they're solidly better than the militia for sure, and so they should be.

    Compared to the battle ready troop, lots of stuff makes sense. Steel Eaters have a more accurate but lower damage attack, but also more soak, many more health levels, and special charms and merits that allow them to setup deadly ambushes with their 7 stealth dice, compared to the soldiers 4 awareness dice. So maybe not straight up more powerful, but his tricks make him deadly.

    To fight something like the Steel Eater and not have a pretty good chance of losing the fight, you need something like the elite bodyguard. These are the tough, elite bastards that bodyguard the likes of kings and dynasts. They're badass motherfuckers that can more than match the steel eater blow for blow in their enchanted silk armor and exquisite weapons. Even for them though there are some foes, especially in number, that give them pause, like death moa, or vaktri, or the terrifying ghostfisher.

    So that's all good, we're still not at the problem yet.

    Players can make a player-character who puts even that elite soldier to shame though. With 2/5/2 in their physical abilities, 5 melee, specialty in swords, heavy armor, and a daiklave. Maybe they pick up Excellent Strike and Dipping Swallow Defense at least too. That kind of character doesn't give a fuck about things like steel eaters, not at all, nor death moa, and not even ghostfishers either. Which makes sense! They're melee 5 with a specialty and dex 5! These guys are Arthur Pendragon wielding Excalibur, they're Arthas Menethil with Frostmourne. I think it maybe goes a touch too far in some cases, but it's not the big problem yet. Like maybe the likes of ghostfishers should still be able to give them a little pause or something.


    Now we get to the problem, because after that I'm still left with this

    25/28 ability dots
    3/4 specialty dots
    13/15 charm purchases (this not counting the likely free evocation from the daiklave)
    7/10 merit points
    13/15 bonus points


    My character isn't actually Arthas Menethil, he's Doctor Merlin W. Strange von Morgan-le-Fey. The W stands for wizard. Because I took six more ability dots and put them into Lore and Occult, and four bonus points puts both of them to five. Two specialties in lore and one in Occult for sorcery mean I have both my background for lore, and those two specialties to introduce facts from, using my legendary 5 Lore, and that occult score means I'm the best sorcerer ever, also picking up 8 spells off chargen. I'll slap a few merit dots into sorcery merits too, and a few bonus points into a sorcerous hearthstone.

    Shit, I've still got 19 ability dots left...uh...well Awareness 3, Athletics 3....Resistance 3....ummmm Integrity 3 yeah, also Socialize 3. How many bonus points to I have left now? Six? Okay make that Awareness, Integrity, and Resistance 5 I guess so that nothing can ever hide from me, nobody can ever convince me in social influence, and I can casually resist almost any hardship or poison or the like.

    Now we have an issue, because my character is SORCERER SUPREME! - (ft. Arthur Pendragon w/ Excalibur)


    Which basically means this happens



    ST: "Okay guys, sorry to say but you get ambushed waiting in this horrible enchanted forest that's slipping between this world and the lowest level of Malfeas."

    Dawn: "Oh no, there's monsters in the monster forest!"

    ST: "Yes, there are monsters in the monster forest."

    Dawn: "Well they didn't sneak me, I got five successes on my awareness roll."

    Zenith: "Yeah me too."

    Twilight: "I got eight, haha."

    Night: "Seven here."

    Eclipse: "Five here too."

    ST: "Okay, so roll up join battle against these things anyway. They outnumber you 8 to 5, it's dark, their kind of terrain, and they're wretched horrors from beyond the press of time and space."

    Dawn: "Yeah don't worry, I'm basically Kratos with the Blades of Choas."

    Zenith preacher with the fiery sermons to stir hope in the most downtrodden of peoples: "Who's worried? I'm basically Arthas Menethil with Frostmourne."

    Twilight linguist and savant based on Milo from the Journey to Atlantis: "Worry? My dudes, I'm Elric of Melniboné with Stormbringer."

    Night caste athlete and thief who took major inspiration from Aladdin: "I don't think I know the meaning of the word worry, I might as well be Thor Odinson with Mjolnir."

    Eclipse caste diplomat and sailor: "Yeah, I'll have to look up 'worry' when we're done here. Shouldn't take more than a minute owing to the fact that I'm basically Arthur Pendragon with Excalibur."


    Which is an issue because nobody there really went HARD into optimization, or picked any weird broken things. It's not like everyone there took sorcery to get Invulnerable Skin of Bronze and cast it every night before sleep to preserve their max willpower, and everyone also bought a Belt of Shadowwalking to become immaterial and insta-win all fights against people who can't strike material, etc. They just all funneled a tiny bit of their chargen resources to become invincible gods of war and collectively invalidate almost all the antagonists. Which a party of 5 invincible gods of war SHOULD do, but that's not 5 Dawns up there, it's a perfectly balanced and diverse party of all castes doing different non-combat roles.

    The thing is, you can also get ability spreads like this:

    1 Athletics
    3 Awareness
    3 Bureacracy
    4 Craft
    2 Dodge
    2 Integrity
    3 Investigation
    1 Larceny
    3 Linguistics
    2 Lore
    2 Medicine
    2 Melee
    1 Occult
    1 Presence
    2 Resistance
    1 Ride
    2 Socialize
    1 Stealth


    Which is arguably TOO well rounded a character, but someone who's definitely not causing any of the problems described above certainly, so it's not just a simple fix of like, reducing ability dots down to 9 or something.



    Anyway, that's my problem with chargen. If you could get it to force player characters to be less...like that, then the antagonists all work again and everything is fine. Sure the Dawn will still totally dominate every foe, but under that paradigm he fucking BETTER because the Eclipse diplomat, and twilight savant, and zenith preacher are relying on him to save their butts in dangerous times. At the very least they're relying on the Dawn to go 1v4 while they each take just one enemy.

    Of course, again in that paradigm, your job as the ST is to make sure that the Twilight in the next scene also saves everyone. So like:

    ST: "This soulbreaker orb is about to go off in 90 seconds."

    Dawn: "Well good thing I have Heavenly Guardian Defense, what about you guys?"

    ST: "Sorry, it's not an attack or uncountable damage, it's just your soul being ripped out. It's like trying to HGD the charm Cup Boils Over."

    Dawn: "Oh fuck, I might actually die then, what the hell!"

    Twilight: "I'm going to introduce a fact about this design of soulbreaker orb, and a failsafe mechanism based off decyphering the linguistic code in the outer ring...."

  • CTPhipps
    replied
    I'm sorry to say I'm going to have to close this conversation. Tensions and accusations are flying. Many reports on it.

    Thanks for participating.

    Leave a comment:


  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Why should a Bride of Alhat be a better fighter than the greatest warrior in the world?
    Please cite where I said "better than the greatest warrior in the world." I said that a Bride should be calibrated to make the greatest warrior in the world not using magic sweat. As in, "I might be better, but I need to be on my A game because a bad tactical choice or poor luck could mean I actually lose this one." And the Brides should be that because that's what they're there to be examples of. The Brides can't do that if they're 10s on a 1-12 scale are being transferred as 10s on a 1-16 scale.

    Combat runs off attribute plus ability plus bonuses for weapons. Non combat runs off attribute plus ability plus bonuses from equipment. Where is the math different?
    Pretty much the rest of the system (not including magic):

    Equipment is either permission to even roll at all, or at best a +1 bonus. The best blacksmith tools in the best smithy in Creation, is just a presumption of materials on hand, and a +1 to your Craft rolls. That's it, your done finding bonuses.

    Combat (again, not including magic):

    Equipment comes in multiple stat blocks with varying direct +/- adjustments to different dice pools that exceed 1 in potential value, layer on tags to create all sorts of additional variables, and you can stack different forms of equipment. You can pick a mix of weapons (light for attack, off-hand medium for +1 Defense, or dual-wield and try to clash everything), you layer on armor, and mounts, etc. Your band of heroes has rallied the local forces to fend off an attacking Imperial Legion and your side one the Strategic Warfare roll and use fortifications to slap penalties on the invading legion and slow them down so your long range attackers get more shots off before the legion can respond.

    How do you not see the difference here?

    You can fight, and be a badass, without maxing out your combat stats. The example circle for THIS edition, the one we actually have stats for, has two characters with only 2-3 in those abilities. What about that says that the intended design is for characters to all have max fighting stats?
    Cherry picking one part of a massive list of things that drives players to want to aim for 5/5 just drags the conversation down. The presentation of example characters says, "make characters that can fight." Yes, they don't need to be 5/5s (though maybe Exalted should have put the circle's stats in the core book as sample characters to try to be more clear about that), but they prime players to think that investing in combat is important, and then the rest of the stuff kicks in to drive them to want to invest more than is probably best for actually playing the game.

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

    I mean, for me, it feels like this is the "crux" of the thread in that you keep misrepresenting opinions because you want this to be the opposing position even though it isn't.
    Then report it. Don't accuse the poster themselves.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    Yup, and I can tweak them however I want.



    Yea I really wish the book would tell you that. As I’ve seen several people fly into this face first into a roller coaster. You’re told that you’re the second reincarnation of a god king with powers to make the world tremble, but you can bodied almost immediately by some things in the setting.

    Personally I don’t find this a problem. Hell, I’ve seen parties that can take on Alhat at Essence 1. My issue isn’t with those people, as if they can pull that off then they already have system mastery (and before you say that isn’t the intention of the game, wait until a later point where I address this). Rather it’s the new people who have no idea what they’re getting into and get body slammed by antagonists that have a huge power spike out of nowhere. All of those ghosts enemies you showed? Oh they were spooky. Those Abyssals the book gave you? Those right-hand men of that nasty Deathlord are now gone. Nothing’s going to stop you!

    Then they get to the Deathlord and get destroyed so horrifically that the fight would need to be posted on a masochism story website.

    Let’s assume for a fact that Deathlord’s are statted like Viator and not the abominations they were in 2e/1e. At no time did the book tell you that you must be this high to fight them. “A very dangerous foe that requires the strength of an entire circle” doesn’t even come close. It’s more like “You need to be 5/5 with artifacts and at minimum a dozen combat charms at Essence 4/5. Try this with anything else and you’re going to be in for bad time.”

    If a DM throws an adult red dragon at level 5 characters, you laugh at them for not following the rules for combat design in the book.

    If a GM TPK’s a party with a level appropriate encounter with an adult red dragon? Perhaps the party was really undergeared, maybe they had bad luck, maybe the wizard blew their buff spells on the kobold fight beforehand, maybe the party was really badly designed to fight solo opponents such as this, whatever the case.

    What Exalted does is throw players and ST’s into the a high performance sports car with no preparation or foresight. The most the book tells you is where the gas is, but doesn’t warn people how to avoid driving off cliffs. I have seen this happen many times. A lot of ST’s don’t come specifically because there is no robust support in making encounters.
    Certainly that isn’t helping the problem.


    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    The 3/3 can go up to 12 dice, the 5/5 can go up to 20. A 3/3 has a 50% chance of hitting something with 6 defense. The 5/5 can spend the same amount of resources and get a dramatically higher chance of hitting the opponent. Likewise the 3/3 has very little room for leeway. And additional defence or penalties beyond that makes their odds go down the shitter with little resource to solve it. If the enemy has 7 defence then it’s a little more painful. If the enemy has 8 defence (ala mount or cover) then forget it. If the enemy has some sort of onslaught negation (such as an exalt), then that is rubbing acid in the wound. The chances of someone with 12 dice hitting 8 successes is 25%. Those are not good odds for something that calls itself a god king simulator. At this point I’d rather just play Russian Roulette with the enemy instead.
    That sounds pretty okay to me. A 3/3 fighting most enemies who have defence 3-5 will be throwing between 12 and 16 dice, easily enough to go crazy. When something like a Fair Folk Cataphract shows up you could absolutely take that with just the group of 3/3s, but the Dawn could also solo it, and the combination of the two means that that fair folk Cataphract is going to need backup, which will be something like it’s medium infantry summon army, which the 3/3s can wreck with the expenditure of Essence.

    Whereas in those fights, if they want to, the dawn can flex and say, I don’t have a 80% chance of hitting this decisive attack, I have a 100% chance of hitting this decisive attack.




    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    All of these things are nice, but can be countered trivially. If you are relying on such things to make your build viable, you’re only inviting disaster in the future. When the ST makes something that counters this trick then it’s like setting up a Paladin falls moment. You’re hero of the realm until the chair is kicked from under you then stabbed with pitchforks. Assuming the noose doesn’t get you first.
    Trivially how? You can’t just pick up a persistent onslaught penalty negator, or reflexive rise from prone ability, or immunity to poison. Some enemies have them, but even the ones that do you don’t instantly lose against, they’ve only got 5-6 defence, you’re still hitting.

    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    Exalted? It has fuckall. Why? Because of the variability in stats. Those three systems have some good assurances to make sure players would be competent in a battle regardless of those levels. Exalted has none. WoD (all versions) have the same problem. It is due to the structure of the game itself that planning exact encounter difficulty is fundamentally impossible. The closest it ever got in my experience was unironically Scion 1e, because if things had the same epic attributes then yea chances are it would be an equal battle. That is why it doesn’t work.
    This is precisely why the problem is chargen. It has no guiderails to either ensure that PCs are fights enough to survive, or ensure that they aren’t SO fighty that the make antagonists obsolete.

    It goes for social stuff too, I just don’t see players doing it. If everyone automatically took Wits 5, Manip 5, Integrity 5 with a spec and Socialize 5 with a spec there would be a similar probalem with no social antagonists having a prayer to challenge the party.

    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    The story of how you need to adjust encounters is extreme hyperbole and you know it. Not all enemies in the game need to be individually overblown to that extreme, even Chung would ask what the hell you’re going on about. I gave multiple reasons of how and why some creatures could have reasonably boosted stats. But that doesn’t mean you need to throw the baby out with the bathwater then toss the tub out after. Likewise some people want to start the game and play out something akin to the cutscenes in Devil May Cry. Those creepy ghostfishers, scary black hole monsters, and powerful blood apes? My enjoyment is that I break those things over my knee for breakfast. Think about the first van cinema with Nero in DMC5 vs the preceding cutscene from after. One is making those scary bug demons into an absolute joke, the other cutscene shows just how dangerous those things are to non-demon hunters.
    Perfect example of exactly what playing a Dawn should feel like. Nico is the character who can grab the broken talon of a demon, a box of scraps from the back of her van, and in less than ten minutes she has a new artifact devil breaker for Nero to use to kick ass. Nico does not also totally clown demons and make them look like fools with her combat prowess.


    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    Working as intended for me and others I know. Your problems with this are not my own.
    Well it’s not not working well for me and several other people that I know at all. In a quick search I found one person complaining that players were too weak, in a party of mixed mortals and exalts and he was having trouble bridging the gap, and a half dozen posts saying hey couldn’t get enemies strong enough to handle their players.

    Most of the responses being “they’re supposed to rofl stomp enemies, just play out the consequences of their victories” which sucks for reasons I’ve detailed elsewhere.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    I mean, for me, it feels like this is the "crux" of the thread in that you keep misrepresenting opinions because you want this to be the opposing position even though it isn't.

    I don't want bandits calibrated to be threats to the top of the top mortal potential of the game. But I do what them to be calibrated to the math of combat so what kind of threat the books say they are is how they actually play. A bandit doesn't need to be calibrated to a 5/5 PC, because a bandit isn't supposed to be a significant threat to one. A Bride of Ahlat, on the other hand, should be calibrated to 5/5 PCs because she's supposed to make one sweat if they try to beat her without magic.
    Why should a Bride of Alhat be a better fighter than the greatest warrior in the world? Is every bride the absolute apex of mortal power? As they are now they appear to have 4 dex, 4 melee, 5 Dodge. That puts them at pretty epic levels of trained skill and natural ability, considering they’re members of the Royal guard.

    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    It's not "enemies don't work because they're not calibrated to 5/5 PCs." It's, "enemies don't work because they're not calibrated to the math of the system." This is an important distinction, and dismissing it, constantly, by insisting that it isn't isn't going to help you figure out how to actually handle char-gen besides, "everyone try not to break the system no matter how tempting it is because it tell you to."
    I don’t even understand what this means. Combat runs off attribute plus ability plus bonuses for weapons. Non combat runs off attribute plus ability plus bonuses from equipment. Where is the math different? Is it just light weapons? That’s the thing that’s unbalancing the whole math of combat? Because lots of this don’t have light weapons.

    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    And this has nothing to do with why non-Dawns make characters with good combat stats. People do that because the game tells them to, constantly. The original signature circle? All encouraged you to make significant combat investments (Panther was an extremely successful pit-fighter before Exalted, Jade a highly skilled assassin, Swan a master of martial arts, with Arianna behind by only being ok with stabbing people but the also the groups battle-mage). The new ones might have toned it back a bit, but Nova and Diamond are still screaming, "hey, just because you didn't make a Dawn doesn't mean you couldn't kick ass too!" You're encouraged to take 5s in stuff you character is good at directly by the text. The BP/XP divide rewards you for starting with 5s in as many things as you can that you intend your character to be good at. Charm prereqs further push you to get to 5s ASAP. Combat is also one of the few areas where there's a justified perception that being bad at it risks the groups overall performance because everyone fights, where most other challenges are handled by the expert in them.
    You can fight, and be a badass, without maxing out your combat stats. The example circle for THIS edition, the one we actually have stats for, has two characters with only 2-3 in those abilities. What about that says that the intended design is for characters to all have max fighting stats?

    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    Trying to pawn this off on the QCs not being calibrated isn't getting us anywhere because it's not a good faith argument.
    I take enormous offence to the accusation that I’m lying. I want you to apologize. Until you do I’m not going to further respond to your posts.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sandact6
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    The math is more complicated, but there's still a guide there, and I would expect that the various antagonist supplements having orders of magnitude, literally, more entries that are much weaker than the big ones would encourage you to not only run the big guys.
    Yup, and I can tweak them however I want.

    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Even still, maybe you do that and go online and somebody says "wait, your ran Alhat as the first encounter of your campaign? Were your PCs starting at Essence 3 or...? Okay yep, that's the problem. Ahlat is not something you fight on your second day as a Solar"
    Yea I really wish the book would tell you that. As I’ve seen several people fly into this face first into a roller coaster. You’re told that you’re the second reincarnation of a god king with powers to make the world tremble, but you can bodied almost immediately by some things in the setting.

    Personally I don’t find this a problem. Hell, I’ve seen parties that can take on Alhat at Essence 1. My issue isn’t with those people, as if they can pull that off then they already have system mastery (and before you say that isn’t the intention of the game, wait until a later point where I address this). Rather it’s the new people who have no idea what they’re getting into and get body slammed by antagonists that have a huge power spike out of nowhere. All of those ghosts enemies you showed? Oh they were spooky. Those Abyssals the book gave you? Those right-hand men of that nasty Deathlord are now gone. Nothing’s going to stop you!

    Then they get to the Deathlord and get destroyed so horrifically that the fight would need to be posted on a masochism story website.

    Let’s assume for a fact that Deathlord’s are statted like Viator and not the abominations they were in 2e/1e. At no time did the book tell you that you must be this high to fight them. “A very dangerous foe that requires the strength of an entire circle” doesn’t even come close. It’s more like “You need to be 5/5 with artifacts and at minimum a dozen combat charms at Essence 4/5. Try this with anything else and you’re going to be in for bad time.”

    If a DM throws an adult red dragon at level 5 characters, you laugh at them for not following the rules for combat design in the book.

    If a GM TPK’s a party with a level appropriate encounter with an adult red dragon? Perhaps the party was really undergeared, maybe they had bad luck, maybe the wizard blew their buff spells on the kobold fight beforehand, maybe the party was really badly designed to fight solo opponents such as this, whatever the case.

    What Exalted does is throw players and ST’s into the a high performance sports car with no preparation or foresight. The most the book tells you is where the gas is, but doesn’t warn people how to avoid driving off cliffs. I have seen this happen many times. A lot of ST’s don’t come specifically because there is no robust support in making encounters.




    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    If the 5/5 is spending no resources to hit, then the 3/3 is spending resources and also hitting, it can't be both ways. The 5/5 starts with 11 dice, and the 3/3 boosts up to 12 dice, there can not be a gap where the 5/5 is hitting without effort and the 3/3 is finding it impossible to hit. The range where that happens is 5-6, which is where enemies pretty much top out. There's a couple with 7s that the 3/3 PCs will find somewhat difficult to hit, only a 40% chance with a decisive attack, although withering will be better. You need to get to defenses in the range of 9+ before the 5/5 is spending resources to hit, and the 3/3 can no longer spend resources to reliably hit.
    The 3/3 can go up to 12 dice, the 5/5 can go up to 20. A 3/3 has a 50% chance of hitting something with 6 defense. The 5/5 can spend the same amount of resources and get a dramatically higher chance of hitting the opponent. Likewise the 3/3 has very little room for leeway. And additional defence or penalties beyond that makes their odds go down the shitter with little resource to solve it. If the enemy has 7 defence then it’s a little more painful. If the enemy has 8 defence (ala mount or cover) then forget it. If the enemy has some sort of onslaught negation (such as an exalt), then that is rubbing acid in the wound. The chances of someone with 12 dice hitting 8 successes is 25%. Those are not good odds for something that calls itself a god king simulator. At this point I’d rather just play Russian Roulette with the enemy instead.

    The 5/5’er has far more leeway for these variations.


    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Again, all of this completely apart from things like a player hitting the enemy with poison, giving them a -4 poison penalty, players stacking onslaught, prone penalties, mobility penalties, and on and on.
    All of these things are nice, but can be countered trivially. If you are relying on such things to make your build viable, you’re only inviting disaster in the future. When the ST makes something that counters this trick then it’s like setting up a Paladin falls moment. You’re hero of the realm until the chair is kicked from under you then stabbed with pitchforks. Assuming the noose doesn’t get you first.

    Hell I can even flip this around. Any of these happen to a 3/3? They’re basically fucked. If this happens to the 5/5? It’s annoying, but they may be able to compensate.

    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    I still disagree, the combat system is full of a ton of stacked fail-safes to stop your character from dying.
    And I think between some very dangerous charms and abominations like falling damage there’s still enough to put a player so hard in the balls that the bones can be vaporized to powder. Neither of us will be convinced otherwise it seems, so let’s move on.


    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    It can definitely be difficult to guague how powerful certain enemies are, but I can tell you that if the design assumption was that players take 5/5, then the game is loaded with pathetically weak ones. They're not usable if the players all maximize their stats like that. More importantly, how is it a better solution to say that the ST should just come up with everything themselves? If it's hard to gauge how powerful printed enemies are, it's got to be at least twice as hard to come up with appropriate enemies yourself.

    At the very least, if that was what they were doing, they should have just cut the entire antagonist section completely, and probably the sections detailing what each ability dot relates to. Also ditch any suggestions as to what difficulties things should be. What they have printed is worse than nothing, it's actually hurting the game balance, because it's making things seem like 14 dice is a deadly attack pool, when it isn't. So I still have to make up everything myself, except then I have to try and justify why the mooks they're facing have Octavian's statline.
    I’ve been over this. It’s lost somewhere in the previous pages and probably across multiple posts, so I’ll summarize it.

    Enemies are statted for Timmy ST’s and/or players. Players who are more experienced and invested in the game can easily tailor things or steal parts from enemies in order to make a Frankenstein that can be an entertaining encounter for their players. Occasionally we get the “Fuck you” opponents published that stomp Timmy’s into red paste and leave the experienced players having to have a “3/3ers and 5/5ers, and how to live with it, find ways around it or learn percentages” talk with the Timmy’s, a tradition as time honored as the birds and the bees talk.


    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Well I don't find a game where 90% of the published antagonists are not usable except as a kind of abstract or background detail to the point where they might as well not even list their abilities to be working well. I want to use them, and I can't, I have to come up with it all on my own. I don't have to do this in DnD, or ST:A, or Rogue Trader, or Edge of the Empire, I can't think of any RPG I've played or ran like that, and I definitely don't mean that in a good way.

    I have no idea why it must be this way. Why MUST it not work? The worst part being that it absolutely does work with characters built that way, it's the that instead of the rules saying characters should be built that way, it's on me to glare at my player and say: (spoilered for length)

    "So uh...notice you didn't mention swordsmanship in your 3 page long background document you sent me."

    "Yeah?"

    "Notice you also have Dex 5, Melee 5, specialty in daiklaves."

    "Yeah?"

    "You understand what those stats mean right? That your guy, even without his Solar exaltation, is a swordmaster beyond all swordmasters?"

    "Maybe he practices a lot."

    "This would be in the hour of free time that he has after digging up some occult research in the library, slaving away creating his army of clockwork men, and writing legendarily eloquent poems?"

    "Maybe he has...4?"

    "You further understand that if you're too badass all I'm going to do is skip fights right? Like I won't call for join battle, we'll just skip to the end with you winning and gloss over all the action so we can get to the next social scene or travel montage."

    "T-three?"

    "Hmmmm."

    "Two?"

    "Yeah, as good as a professional swordsman. Sounds pretty good to me."


    I don't want to have to do that to make the game run properly. I shouldn't have to do that to make the game run properly. I also shouldn't have to homebrew every encounter completely from scratch, and then have this happen:


    "Okay, hobgoblin coming at you with 16 dice withering, what are you doing?"

    "Whoa, what? 16? This is a hobgoblin right?"

    "It's a special one, now are you boosting your defense or what?"

    "That's a pretty damn special hobgoblin."

    "Yeah the sorcerer you're facing gave it a boost. Your defense right now is sitting at 7, and you can boost it up to 12 before stunts if you want, are you going to stunt?"

    "She boosted a hobgoblin to have a better base attack pool than Octavian."

    "Oh no, she boosted ALL her hobgoblins to have a better attack pool than octavian. She's a boss like that. They also have a bunch of abilities to make reflexive attacks and ignore onslaught penalties and stuff."

    "What? What's SHE like?"

    "She's Ma-Ha-Suchi's fighting power combined with Raksi's sorcery, but with more health levels than both of them combined and they're all -0s."

    "That's insane!"

    "These are challenges appropriate to the group. I think, I don't know I just came up with them myself."


    I've been running mortals games for the past few weeks and they've been going great using the printed antagonists. They've been kicking the ass of dragonblooded, fey creatures, demons, all sorts of things. They don't have charms! They don't even have an excellency, they're just doing perfectly fine with their base pools, and nobody is having any issues with the fighty stuff. They're not dropping like flies, they're not flipping the table in frustration because they spent the last three rounds missing, because they aren't missing. They're winning, although on rare occasions they might take some actual damage.
    You’re right in other games don’t have that problem, but that’s because each game has their own unique problems. I had a friend who knew Rogue Trader as well as I know Exalted, and he could go on for hours on how broken autofire was and how it utterly destroyed combat (Please don’t specifically go into that example, I don’t know Rogue Trader anymore but it’s just an example of different problems systems have). Now I can’t speak for all the ones you mentioned there, but the ones I played? DnD, M&M, and 2d20 systems? All those have guidelines on how to challenge the PC’s. DnD 4e and M&M have near bulletproof encounter design aside from maybe a few outliers. 2d20 is a bit looser but at least it is a good guideline metric.

    Exalted? It has fuckall. Why? Because of the variability in stats. Those three systems have some good assurances to make sure players would be competent in a battle regardless of those levels. Exalted has none. WoD (all versions) have the same problem. It is due to the structure of the game itself that planning exact encounter difficulty is fundamentally impossible. The closest it ever got in my experience was unironically Scion 1e, because if things had the same epic attributes then yea chances are it would be an equal battle. That is why it doesn’t work.

    My character has 5 dots with Archery despite having a background as a farmer and a caste of Zenith. Why? Because I shot things that tried to come near my farm, and I became good at it to where I could snipe sparrows. That’s my justification of why I can shoot really well.

    The story of how you need to adjust encounters is extreme hyperbole and you know it. Not all enemies in the game need to be individually overblown to that extreme, even Chung would ask what the hell you’re going on about. I gave multiple reasons of how and why some creatures could have reasonably boosted stats. But that doesn’t mean you need to throw the baby out with the bathwater then toss the tub out after. Likewise some people want to start the game and play out something akin to the cutscenes in Devil May Cry. Those creepy ghostfishers, scary black hole monsters, and powerful blood apes? My enjoyment is that I break those things over my knee for breakfast. Think about the first van cinema with Nero in DMC5 vs the preceding cutscene from after. One is making those scary bug demons into an absolute joke, the other cutscene shows just how dangerous those things are to non-demon hunters.

    I know that Exalted having no real way to balance encounters beyond “git gud” is a fairly bitter red pill to swallow. The only solution to this is arming people with knowledge and letting them make their own choices after that.

    And as for the mortal games, good for you. I’ve been over why I wouldn’t enjoy such a thing myself.

    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Why does Exalted stop working this well when the characters are Exalted?

    Working as intended for me and others I know. Your problems with this are not my own.

    Originally posted by Gayo View Post
    One last thing, about the Octavian white-rooming: Elenian is correct that, while assuming a roll scores EV is OK for eyeballing a single interaction, it is not a suitable way to test a fight unless every roll has a small impact on the outcome, which is seldom the case. It's analogous to white-rooming a single roll by saying "the average d10 result is a 5.5, which is a failure, so I'll assume these ten dice are all failures." When you iterate many rolls each of which can have a significant impact, you get the same dynamic at a higher level. Assuming all rolls do EV doesn't just fail to tell you that a fight has a 30% chance of TPK, it may fail to tell you that there's a 90% chance. This is particularly an issue with enemies like Octavian, who have stuff that just completely obliterates people on a good roll.
    Luck may go in either direction, but if I find if I remove outliers and go with the base standard then it is something I can use as my lighthouse. Again, it is how I balanced fights for over a decade in the system and it worked every time. If it is working for me and it’s worked for others, I ain’t changing it.

    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

    I mean, for me, it feels like this is the "crux" of the thread in that you keep misrepresenting opinions because you want this to be the opposing position even though it isn't.

    I don't want bandits calibrated to be threats to the top of the top mortal potential of the game. But I do what them to be calibrated to the math of combat so what kind of threat the books say they are is how they actually play. A bandit doesn't need to be calibrated to a 5/5 PC, because a bandit isn't supposed to be a significant threat to one. A Bride of Ahlat, on the other hand, should be calibrated to 5/5 PCs because she's supposed to make one sweat if they try to beat her without magic.

    It's not "enemies don't work because they're not calibrated to 5/5 PCs." It's, "enemies don't work because they're not calibrated to the math of the system." This is an important distinction, and dismissing it, constantly, by insisting that it isn't isn't going to help you figure out how to actually handle char-gen besides, "everyone try not to break the system no matter how tempting it is because it tell you to."

    And this has nothing to do with why non-Dawns make characters with good combat stats. People do that because the game tells them to, constantly. The original signature circle? All encouraged you to make significant combat investments (Panther was an extremely successful pit-fighter before Exalted, Jade a highly skilled assassin, Swan a master of martial arts, with Arianna behind by only being ok with stabbing people but the also the groups battle-mage). The new ones might have toned it back a bit, but Nova and Diamond are still screaming, "hey, just because you didn't make a Dawn doesn't mean you couldn't kick ass too!" You're encouraged to take 5s in stuff you character is good at directly by the text. The BP/XP divide rewards you for starting with 5s in as many things as you can that you intend your character to be good at. Charm prereqs further push you to get to 5s ASAP. Combat is also one of the few areas where there's a justified perception that being bad at it risks the groups overall performance because everyone fights, where most other challenges are handled by the expert in them.

    Trying to pawn this off on the QCs not being calibrated isn't getting us anywhere because it's not a good faith argument.
    Seconded.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Okay this is the crux of the whole thread. The enemies don’t work because they’re not calibrated around the idea that every PC was a mortal of legendary combat skill in addition to everything else they were even prior to their Solar exaltation.
    I mean, for me, it feels like this is the "crux" of the thread in that you keep misrepresenting opinions because you want this to be the opposing position even though it isn't.

    I don't want bandits calibrated to be threats to the top of the top mortal potential of the game. But I do what them to be calibrated to the math of combat so what kind of threat the books say they are is how they actually play. A bandit doesn't need to be calibrated to a 5/5 PC, because a bandit isn't supposed to be a significant threat to one. A Bride of Ahlat, on the other hand, should be calibrated to 5/5 PCs because she's supposed to make one sweat if they try to beat her without magic.

    It's not "enemies don't work because they're not calibrated to 5/5 PCs." It's, "enemies don't work because they're not calibrated to the math of the system." This is an important distinction, and dismissing it, constantly, by insisting that it isn't isn't going to help you figure out how to actually handle char-gen besides, "everyone try not to break the system no matter how tempting it is because it tell you to."

    And this has nothing to do with why non-Dawns make characters with good combat stats. People do that because the game tells them to, constantly. The original signature circle? All encouraged you to make significant combat investments (Panther was an extremely successful pit-fighter before Exalted, Jade a highly skilled assassin, Swan a master of martial arts, with Arianna behind by only being ok with stabbing people but the also the groups battle-mage). The new ones might have toned it back a bit, but Nova and Diamond are still screaming, "hey, just because you didn't make a Dawn doesn't mean you couldn't kick ass too!" You're encouraged to take 5s in stuff you character is good at directly by the text. The BP/XP divide rewards you for starting with 5s in as many things as you can that you intend your character to be good at. Charm prereqs further push you to get to 5s ASAP. Combat is also one of the few areas where there's a justified perception that being bad at it risks the groups overall performance because everyone fights, where most other challenges are handled by the expert in them.

    Trying to pawn this off on the QCs not being calibrated isn't getting us anywhere because it's not a good faith argument.
    Last edited by Heavy Arms; 03-04-2021, 02:21 PM.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    Almost makes me think there should be two separate books.

    The actual corebook would reward players who want to build low and wide, with the ability to engage with most challenges but not to overwhelm those challenges, so the corebook's bestiary can be filled with actual challenges. Few Charms would have Ability minimums higher than 3, and if there are any Artifact weapons, they also wouldn't rated higher than 3.

    The supplement to the corebook (Miracles of the Solar Exalted) would contain the vast majority of Charms with Ability minimums of 4 and higher, and Artifacts rated 4 and higher.

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  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
    Hmm... if we're doing "general", yeah, I get why these things come up; Exalted's baseline (Solars) has a setup where on the one hand it invokes shonen anime like Fist of the North Star / Trigun where heroes are never seriously threatened by opposition (having recently watched some FotNS for the first time, Kenshiro is probably closer to a Solar Dawn than 99% other possible inspiration *and* likely directly inspired Solar Charms). So those are really about the excitement of visuals and stunts, and about story and character. On the other, also the conflicting aspirations towards CCG / Fighting Games, which are about balanced competition in manipulation and mastery of very complex systems and outcomes are generally uncertain. And Ex3 really more leans to goal of achieving the second of these, systemically (previous editions gesture at this goal a bit but not
    I think a lot of this is true, but why is the Twilight investigator also Kenshiro? Shouldn’t the Twilight investigator be utterly epic and nearly beyond the scope of Creation in that he steps into a room and goes “okay this guy wasn’t murdered, he faked his own death. You helped, you helped, you were an unwitting accomplice, and you there, in the back, you took advantage of the situation to ACTUALLY murder him after he thought he got away faking his own death. Next case, please, and this time do try to make it worth my time.”

    He is to investigation as Kenshiro is to fighting, but he doesn’t have to also be Kenshiro in fighting.

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  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by prototype00 View Post
    I must admit, whether or not I agree with your current assessment DrLoveMonkey, I’m always entertained by them.

    (For my part I guess it’s a tone thing. The game is set up so that it’s easy to build characters that are all like amalgam Captain America/Loki/DrStrange, the default tone must be a never ending line of glorious successes and the consequences thereof, and the Circle is the literal creme of their respective Exalt type, able to beat generic elders with hundreds of years on them. If you want to run something where the players struggle more that’s when you have to change things)
    That could certainly be the case, but it’s still not working as intended. Again I bring up Godsend, which is in my opinion the gold standard for games that are actually about the consequences of success and not about playing through a fun adventure making strategic choices and throwing in some chaos courtesy of the fickle gods of chance, which can optionally include consequences of success if you want.

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  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    I'm still not seeing the case for the issue being char-gen here instead of bad calibration in the system.
    Okay this is the crux of the whole thread. The enemies don’t work because they’re not calibrated around the idea that every PC was a mortal of legendary combat skill in addition to everything else they were even prior to their Solar exaltation. If it’s the enemies that aren’t calibrated correctly, rather than a chargen issue, then the default assumption for this game is that every eclipse diplomat, every twilight investigator, every night caste athlete, every zenith preacher, every eclipse captain, every twilight crafter, every night caste thief, every zenith bard, is also an unmatched legendary warrior, again, before even accounting for their ability to channel Essence.

    Is that the assumption of this game? Well if it is chargen is STILL broken, because I can very easily make somebody who isn’t that, and completely screw myself, and worse yet several of the printed examples of what player character should look like don’t do that at all.

    Edit: I should say chargen is still broken and also so are all the antagonists.
    Last edited by DrLoveMonkey; 03-04-2021, 09:43 AM.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Yeah but the QC scaling is also 1-12 dice for the combat stuff, almost nobody has more than 12 dice in anything.
    Considering that the QC design scale goes to 14, that so few QC combatants have 11+ attacks is just more evidence that the QCs aren't being stated properly at the higher ends of the threat scale.

    It doesn't actually have any different math.
    Yes it does. And more importantly it has a different scale than other subsystems. 11 dice attacks in combat are not the same as 11 dice in lockpicking.

    If everyone instead, say, took Dex 5, Larceny 5, specialty in "places the owners wouldn't want me" or something, then the difficulties for lockpicking are way off.
    So... the problem is that the challenges Exalted face aren't calibrated to what Exalted can do?

    I'm still not seeing the case for the issue being char-gen here instead of bad calibration in the system.

    Considering that, I'm inclined to think their 8 die archery attack is a result of adding a bow's weapon accuracy.
    Right, that's what I was saying, the QC stat blocks do not simply fold all equipment into the general threat ratings of the antagonist.

    Given the two, which would you describe as "medium range"?
    This has nothing to do with the question I posed to you.

    "Are the QC stats actually appropriate for the antagonists described?" is not answered by, "5/5 Solars are mechanically and narratively bigger deals than 3/3 Solars."

    It might not be a perfect solution, but it does take 40xp to get from 3/3 to 5/5, and that's 40xp you're not spending on other things more related to your core concept.
    You don't need to spend everything on your core concept because you're being forced to put most of your char-gen resources into those so everything else stays at 3/3 or below.

    Yes, but it IS melee 5, and it's probably not Linguistics 5, or Presence 5.
    If you want to reduce him to Melee 5, that's your prerogative, but just saying it over and over to downplay his other accomplishments isn't really productive to anything.

    It would be like if Martin Luther King, Jr. was also Muhammad Ali on the side, but nobody really talked about it.
    Well, there is the fact that Muhammad Ali was a lot more like MLK on the side, but that part of his public image keeps getting downplayed to focus on him as an athlete despite his life time of work as a civil rights activist and community leader. Most people wouldn't put down Performance 3 for Ali, but most people don't remember he had two Grammy nominations on top of everything else.

    I'd even say that kind of character is totally acceptable to have, but I'd like it if you actually had to appreciably give up something to get it.
    Right. Which is why I've brought up a number of places in the system that need a complimentary adjustment so you can reduce the number of starting dots or whatever so characters can't just start with a bunch of 5s; on top of other things other posters have brought up

    The Drama and Systems chapter is 92 pages long, and 16 pages are devoted to combat. That's about 17%.
    This is a fairly odd analysis. There's the 8 pages of general system rules that probably should get excluded. And you're ignoring Battle Groups, Strategic Warfare, and Naval Combat from this count. Combat is significantly larger than the next biggest subsystem of Social Influence (at ~10 pages), which is significantly larger sill than the next few sub-systems, and then a bunch of even smaller ones. Combat might not take up the most space, but it clearly has more stress than lots of other systems.

    Listed below are abilities, italics are if they're relevant in combat, and bold if they're useful for essentially nothing else. Anything just itallics is like Awareness, where it has a use in combat but it's also useful for a dozen other things.
    ...
    It seems to me that combat is an important part of the system, but not one that's completely dominating.
    By your count, 12/26 Abilities play heavily into combat. What other subsystem comes even close to this? What else uses nearly half the Abilities? And I'd argue that it should be more than half since Occult (combat sorcery and fighting spirits), Sail (Naval Combat), and Survival (training combat animals) skew this even more.

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  • Ghosthead
    replied
    Hmm... if we're doing "general", yeah, I get why these things come up; Exalted's baseline (Solars) has a setup where on the one hand it invokes shonen anime like Fist of the North Star / Trigun where heroes are never seriously threatened by opposition (having recently watched some FotNS for the first time, Kenshiro is probably closer to a Solar Dawn than 99% other possible inspiration *and* likely directly inspired Solar Charms). So those are really about the excitement of visuals and stunts, and about story and character. On the other, also the conflicting aspirations towards CCG / Fighting Games, which are about balanced competition in manipulation and mastery of very complex systems and outcomes are generally uncertain. And Ex3 really more leans to goal of achieving the second of these, systemically (previous editions gesture at this goal a bit but not really so much).

    To try to meet both goals you then are inevitably it seems to me going to get a system where most opponents are underpowered for the degree of mastery of complexity and tactical depth of the systems, and for the characters the system encourages you to build. And that seems fine for some people but some unknown proportion of other players are clearly going to get a feel that the system and their characters loadout is tactically overweight and overly complex for what it and they are actually doing. Then you either build up a lot more serious mechanical opposition to meet the tactical promise (which is, correctly noted, a shift in setting) or eventually mute down the CCG/FG aspirations (and perhaps get something more like Exalted: Essence?).

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  • prototype00
    replied
    I must admit, whether or not I agree with your current assessment DrLoveMonkey, I’m always entertained by them.

    (For my part I guess it’s a tone thing. The game is set up so that it’s easy to build characters that are all like amalgam Captain America/Loki/DrStrange, the default tone must be a never ending line of glorious successes and the consequences thereof, and the Circle is the literal creme of their respective Exalt type, able to beat generic elders with hundreds of years on them. If you want to run something where the players struggle more that’s when you have to change things)
    Last edited by prototype00; 03-04-2021, 04:05 AM.

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