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  • 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...."

  • #2
    I fully agree. Having 8-11 dice in your attack, 5-6 in defenses like Resistance, and a combat charm or two isn't optimizing for combat--the book specifically tells you to do that "if you don't want to fall prey to the first bandit you come across." (or something to that effect). Antagonists being overwhelmed by five characters who SPECIALIZE in combat is one thing; 90% of published monsters being trivialized by anyone who drops a few points (proportionally) into combat stuff is a real issue. If only because that the GM has to make up all the enemies on their own with no real guidance as to what a threat should look like.

    And you can't blame the players for putting 10-20% of their chargen resources into combat stuff. Because that's not saying "try to have some weaknesses that you sometimes have to find a way around," that's saying "go play on your phone for two hours while the Dawn has fun." You can get away with asking players to sit out combat in a rules-light system where you can resolve an encounter in ten minutes, but Exalted combat mechanics just take too damn long--and the penalty for "failing" a combat encounter is just too damm high.

    It's not a hard problem to fix--boosting QC attack and defense die pools by ~Essence gets you a long way--but it's an annoying one. If you want to address it in any sort of systematic way, you have to just give up on the idea that "five dots of melee" represents one of the greatest swordsmen in the world, as opposed to a standard elite soldier. And maybe let QCs have weapon accuracy bonuses while you're at it.

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    • #3
      See this is one of Exalted’s biggest issues (and most of the other Storytelling games somewhat) in that there’s game enforced cap to balance things. Compare this to DnD. In that things are bound by levels, enemies are bound by CR, follow the math between the two and you have an idea how hard something should be for “just right”. The problem is that Exalted doesn’t have this, at all. You can get an Invincible Sword Princess combined with the stat block you posted, and ho boy you’re going to have some fun balancing those encounters. Especially if Timmy took only 3 DEX on the sword princesses’ five. There are some other games that do this too (A lot of the 2d20 systems fall into this trap I feel, where while players start off fine [Chargen is randomly generated] they can progress however they want, quickly leading to lopsided builds).


      So how do we have this? Simple, I say let the players have their cake and eat it too. Exalted to me has always been a sort of epic hero game, but also one of power fantasy. You start at what the pinnacle of humanity can do, and only go up from there. Likewise, you can help with enemies so long as you use clever scene design. It is hard to make players feel fear, but you can make them feel tension which gives them just the same kind of response.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuhdfqp5AT8

      As for low enemy stats, there’s a term for this. It was called “WW statting” back in the day. Back in 2e most printed enemies could be beaten easily by an optimized Exalt. No I don’t mean a full blown paranoia build, rather just something where you put in a modicum of effort. This isn’t because they’re bad at statting enemies, but rather that they’re appealing to the Timmy’s of the group. Such a crowd is vastly greater in size than not only people who can tear apart such monsters for an appetizer, but easily greater than the people who visit this forum. You can either roll with it anyways, or beef up the enemies. Opponent’s with 5/5 in their pools are supposed to be rare in the world of Exalted, but I think power attracts power. Come Essence 4/5 and you’re going to be fighting opponents capable of such things at a bare minimum before charms. At this point the world has taken notice of you, and the enemy ‘level balancing’ begins.

      Embrace the insanity and enjoy the ride.

      As a tangent, my biggest problem with Exalted are the mortals themselves. Elite mortal soldiers sound like badasses… only that most animals are far more impressive than them. The only mortals honestly have going for them is the capability to provide narrative tension far better than animals are able to, simply by virtue of intelligence and speech. Expecting an competent in battle to fight a battle in actual initiative with an elite bodyguard is not only a waste of time, but often dull as dishwater. There’s nothing interesting going on under the hood, just a wall of numbers with no granularity to speak of. Add in supernatural powers and they immediately become outclassed. You can say that they can do cool plans and setpieces, but that’s rule zero. My issue is that any supernatural creature (not just Exalt) can do it and do it better.

      Narratively I also find it hard as well. For example I like Nexus. I like Masters of Jade, but I agreed with Jon Chung in that the book overinflated the Guild’s own importance. To paraphrase one quote from the old board:

      Guild Factor: You won’t do business with us? That’s fine. Enjoy the poisoned water and mercenaries we send after you.
      Solar: My water is part of a sewer system that has water elements clean and purify the water every day, while the demons I got bound to the road notified me of your army and already killed them. By the way, I just summoned Cthulhu to deal with you, I hope you have a tentacle fetish.

      The Guild may be powerful, but only in terms of mortal hands. A perfect circle of Solars was supposed to be able to take down UCS in the original vision of Exalted, the Guild would be nothing more than a bump in the road to them.

      This is because I think the Exalted fandom is too split on what it actually wants, so mixed messages are everywhere. Some people want a gritty game, where five elite bodyguards are each individual opponents that are supposed to make a Dawn sweat. Others want full blown Xianxia or Gurren Lagann where you parry the moon being thrown at you. I find myself on the side of mortals being virtually insignificant compared to the chosen, in that they have no prayer in hell and they’re there for narrative tension largely first and foremost. I think Godbound absolutely nailed the point where mortals are supposed to be on the power scale, in where a legendary hero type whose legends are known throughout the land are basically a starting enemy for new Godbound characters. Not only that, but the game isn’t afraid to give them some minor powers in order to make them more interesting than a cardboard cutout.


      Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
      Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.

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      • #4
        The worst part is when you end up with a storyteller who doesn’t understand this and accuses you of being a munchkin because you... didn’t blow all your bonus points on attributes and willpower? Like, seriously, you’ve never noticed that the “reasonable character” without so many high stats that you want out of me is barely possible in this game? -.-

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Grod_the_giant View Post
          It's not a hard problem to fix--boosting QC attack and defense die pools by ~Essence gets you a long way--but it's an annoying one. If you want to address it in any sort of systematic way, you have to just give up on the idea that "five dots of melee" represents one of the greatest swordsmen in the world, as opposed to a standard elite soldier. And maybe let QCs have weapon accuracy bonuses while you're at it.
          Yeah, that's the real issue. Somebody who made the greatest swordsman ever in the history of the world should feel like they're the greatest swordsman ever in the history of the world, but you can just be that as well as literally a half dozen other things which are even more epic at the same time. Even when you're making a character though it doesn't at all feel like it. Like it feels like you should be putting more in to get that result, but you just don't have to.

          Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
          Embrace the insanity and enjoy the ride.
          I'm not really sure what you mean by this. The way the antagonist chapter, and also difficulty levels, are set up is with a nice continuous feeling world with lots of really fun, interesting and unique foes to challenge players. Why would I want to intentionally get away from that? There's a really good functioning game there, I just can't get to it! I also see no evidence anywhere, except certain parts right at the tail end of 2e, that suggests Exalted was ever even supposed to be as crazy-gonzo over the top insane as that. At least until like Essence 5 or what have you.

          I mean damn, the 1e corebook says this on the second sidebar of the whole game, bold in areas for emphasis:

          "Yet, they are hunted creatures. Regarded as akin to demon princes in many regions the reborn Solars must live like shadows. Cosmic beings, they must work their plans among men subtly, and walk unseen if they are able. The Wyld Hunt of the Dragon-Blooded is hardly their only fear. They might be stoned or ridden down - no matter how mighty the hero, enough men with bows will eventually wear him down. Also, countless are the snares of those who would involve the newly reborn Solars in their schemes. From the Gold Faction's training of Sidereals to oppose the Realm, and the Deathlords, to the political schemes of the Great Houses and spirit courts, there are countless powers and interests who would gladly use the Solars as their agents and puppets. Young Solar Exalted who wish to prosper must carefully balance the amount of patronage they recieve with the magnitude of the obligations they develop in return for those who tutor them in their infancy.


          Thus goes the existence of the Solar Exalted - to wield the power of the Sun but to do so with the greatest economy possible, showing their true might only when the need is great. Traveling the roads as mendicants, pilgrims and fugitives, they tread lightly, and fight when they have no choice, or when their consciences compel them to. Some have crowned themselves kings and queens, but so far their reigns have been brief and ended by the knives of the Wyld Hunt, or by some regional power fearful of competition. Those Solars who wish to survive the maturity of their power must play a game of high and low - living as vagabonds, bandits and troubadours while they master their great power and learn the secrets of their Exalted state."


          A powerful guild factor is a powerful regional competitor, and likely has many men with bows in his employ. He's somebody you should at least consider the opinions of, according to that sidebar anyway.

          Now, sure, there are definitely people out there who think Exalted is supposed to be Gurren Lagaan taken up to 11, I get that. I also kind of get why, because the way the mechanics worked out and the way some stuff in late 2e especially was written, and also how Exalted is pitched to so many people. I personally don't want that though, and largely in 3e, apart from the way you can make characters, you don't get that.

          Another Example, Monica, a recent dev mentioned that Exalted is about the consequences of success. Okay...but then her example of first and most epic Exalted memory is the PCs in a giant stalagmite with Jadeborn shooting out floors one by one with a lightning ballista every 15 minutes real time. I love that, and I think Monica is great too, but that's not the epic gonzo game where you only battle titans. I don't even think it represents 2e very well. In any of my 2e games that would just be taken care of by PDing that ballista and going to go bully the jadeborn, but I WANT the game to be able to have PCs sitting in a stalagmite wondering how to avoid getting blown up.


          I also get that there's also people out there who go "Well I have 14 dots left over, but my bookworm is already pushing it with 2 melee, they're not a professional soldier! I'm just gonna pump up some of my lesser used skills to 1 dot, and maybe my Sail and Ride to 2!" Okay, that's totally fine, the game works for you! There's no brakes for the people who don't do that though. Still that's okay, or it could be okay, if the printed system/setting/antagonists didn't just fall apart when that happens. Supposedly that's why the rules are even there right? Like the reason you can't put all 28 ability dots into melee at chargen is because there's a rule saying you can't do that because it would break the game, right?

          It's not even totally impossible to do, if you stack on enough penalties, with a doom clock to prevent people waiting around for mote regen, and use enough of the most highly tuned enemies and extreme non-combat situations, you can make it okay, but that doesn't stop so many of the antagonists being useless, and it's nearly impossible to tune it up from that point.

          If we wanted to change the chargen rules what if it was like this

          1) Less attributes, not sure how many less
          2) No ability can be raised above 2-3 unless your Essence equals that value or more.

          That's a bad solution, it stops mortals from ever getting 2-3 to 5 dots, it stops some builds that aren't game breaking but could still be fun, and I'm sure there's several other problems, but I don't think the problem is ultimately unfixable.

          Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
          I think Godbound absolutely nailed the point where mortals are supposed to be on the power scale, in where a legendary hero type whose legends are known throughout the land are basically a starting enemy for new Godbound characters. Not only that, but the game isn’t afraid to give them some minor powers in order to make them more interesting than a cardboard cutout.
          If you think Godbound is good, check out Godsend from Powered by the Apocalypse. There are no dice, any action the players take succeeds automatically, and they actually built a game that works around that premise.

          Comment


          • #6
            I mean, “enough men with bows will eventually wear [you] down” is definitely true, it’s just that the necessary number of archers can be expressed in units of “Threshold nations.”

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Grod_the_giant View Post
              I fully agree. Having 8-11 dice in your attack, 5-6 in defenses like Resistance, and a combat charm or two isn't optimizing for combat--the book specifically tells you to do that "if you don't want to fall prey to the first bandit you come across." (or something to that effect).
              The game doesn't tell you to do that.

              The game tells you, explicitly, that Melee 4 is appropriate for a "properly terrifying Exalted assassin".

              The sidebar you are referring to says this:

              Originally posted by Staying Alive, page 126
              It’s wise to select at least one combat ability as Caste or Favored, as the experience discount makes it easier to buy defensive Charms. Ox-Body Technique (p. 375) is a solid choice, as the extra health levels it grants will help your character survive injury. Generally, 2-5 combat Charms should be sufficient to keep your Solar from dying at the hands of the first bandit gang to come along and permit her to stand up in the face of basic supernatural opposition.
              "Put one dot in Melee so you can have it as a Favored Ability and buy Dipping Swallow Defence (get an an Ox-Body too)" is not the same as "Take Dex 5 Melee 5".

              ****

              I suggest the game is "fixed" by following the advice the book actually gives you, and making characters like this (examples). If you want to play the greatest swordfighter in the world, take Melee 5. Enjoy it. But you are now the best swordfighter in the world. There are no secret techniques for you to learn. There is no opponent who will challenge you. You will not have dramatic back-and-forths in combat. You are trivializing 99% of the game world because you are specifically the best in the world standing head and shoulders above those who stand head and shoulders above those (Melee 4) who are great champions (Melee 3).

              If you don't want to be the best swordfighter in the world, don't take Melee 5.
              Take Melee 4 and be "properly terrifying".
              Take Melee 3 - the level needed to wrap a kingdom around your finger (no, seriously, the book suggests on page 149 that 3 dots is enough to dominate an entire court).
              Take Melee 2 to be trained to the level of a professional soldier.

              There's nothing wrong with playing "Aladdin who is also Thor Odinson with Mjolnir" but the book absolutely does not tell you to do that.

              The book says "Melee 2 is enough for your professional soldier" (page 149).
              The book says "Melee 4 is enough for a character who is absolutely focused on combat" (page 131).
              The book does not say "spend all your BP on Caste and Favored Abilities" (though you absolutely can do this and not end up with hax characters). It says "Instead of buying Charms with BP, why not buy Abilities, Teritary Attributes, or Merits?" (page 124-125) and "here's an example, only buy two extra Charms, take your two main Abilities to 4, your most important Attribute to 5, and why not pick up a Story Merit?" (page 131).

              The book explicitly tells you that taking a 5 and no charms makes you "a prodigy even among other prodigies of [your] field, a living legend whose feats might defy belief".

              The book isn't lying to you.

              The book gives a standard difficulty chart. It gives dice pool ranges for QCs.

              If you don't want your bookish scholar to be the greatest swordfighter in the world, a living legend whose feats defy belief, a prodigt among prodigies, the apex of human potential, someone who casually outfights someone who casually outfights elite soldiers... don't give your bookish scholar Melee 5.

              Three dots means: "The character’s training in the Ability surpasses the competence expected even of professionals, marking her as an elite or veteran in her field."
              Four dots means: "The character’s mastery of the Ability sets her above even experts in her field. Seasoned veteran soldiers pale before her prowess; the top physicians of noble families consult her for guidance; clever and wealthy merchants envy her business acumen."

              And the rules of the game absolutely reflect this. The game isn't lying to you. You don't have to take a five in everything.

              There are eight "5s" across the five sample characters in Tomb of Dreams. A character should have one, maybe, two 5s to represent the stuff they're absolutely best at.

              You're not "casually tossing a couple of bonus points at Melee". You're making a character who is the best in the world. Come up with an idea for a character, then make the dots fit the concept. Don't try to spend all your dots then build a character around that. If your character isn't the best in the world at a particular field, then don't take a five in that field.

              You can do just fine with Dex 3 Melee 3 and 2 combat charms. (Which is to say, you can fight bandit gangs and basic supernatural opposition.)

              Ideally, I'd like to see in a Circle of 5 PCs:

              1 World Class Combat Master, 5 dots
              1 Truly Exceptional Champions, 4 dots
              2 Great Combatants, 3 dots
              1 Basic Combatant, 2 dots

              And (because it's not fun to watch other folks play for an hour whilst you do nothing) in climatic combat scene, I'd have something like this:

              The Basic Combatant takes on the army of a hundred zombies, single-handedly.
              One Great Combatant clashes with the Undead Tyrant Lizard.
              The Other Great Combatant takes out the Mortwright Champion leading the zombies.
              The Truly Exceptional Champion solo's the Nephwrack Lt.
              The World Class Combat Monster fights the Mounted Dusknight.

              (It's better if you can mix combat and non-combat challenges together in a single scene to let all the characters do something they're good at. But a Dex 2, Melee 2, Melee Excellency character can easily handle a hundred zombies and feel awesome doing it. And if they can get a pile of Initiative from doing it, so much the better.)


              ****


              Originally posted by Grod_the_giant View Post
              It's not a hard problem to fix--boosting QC attack and defense die pools by ~Essence gets you a long way
              Please don't put random bandits in daedric armor. Let characters be good at the stuff they're supposed to be good at.

              "Oh the Town Guards are... Level 20 Half-Celestials with +5 Holy Axiomatic Flaming Weapons!"

              ****

              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
              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."
              I'd absolutely represent "your soul is being ripped out" as "uncountable damage", but whatever. I actually agree with your wider point.

              ****

              Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
              The worst part is when you end up with a storyteller who doesn’t understand this and accuses you of being a munchkin because you... didn’t blow all your bonus points on attributes and willpower? Like, seriously, you’ve never noticed that the “reasonable character” without so many high stats that you want out of me is barely possible in this game? -.-
              There are six sample characters between the Corebook and Tomb of Dreams.

              One of them has more than two Abilities at 5.
              Two of them don't have any Abilities at 5.

              It's pretty easy to make a reasonable character if you come up with an idea for a character first then fit the dots to the concept.

              Which isn't to say that you don't get a lot of dots, or that the character creation mini-game doesn't exist, or that the XP/BP split causes problems for the mathmatically minded, or that you can't create a character more powerful than intended.

              But no-one is forcing you to take Dex 5 Melee 5 on your Twilight. The example Twilight the books give you is Dex 2 Melee 2. You could have that too.
              Last edited by JohnDoe244; 02-20-2021, 07:32 AM.


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

              Comment


              • #8
                I always tell my players to make sure that they have some means of defending themselves at chargen - but I never encourage paranoia builds.

                also, i don't mind players who end up as near-invinsible combat monsters. Exalted is IMHO about gaining great power... and then you unleash your players, make them into god-kings and see how well they handle that power. The D&D mentality of "aww man, they're handling my bandit encounters too easily" doesn't work for Exalted.

                It should be more of a "ok gang, you're super powerful, you're taken over the kingdom - now... looks like your neighbors are being funded by the realm/guild/whatnot and are invading with massive armies, and Lookshy is sending spies and proffesional thieves to steal your magical superweapons - what do?"


                Malfeas F'Tagn - go check out my epic MLP/Exalted crossover "The Scroll of Exalted ponies" @ Fimfiction

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
                  Narratively I also find it hard as well. For example I like Nexus. I like Masters of Jade, but I agreed with Jon Chung in that the book overinflated the Guild’s own importance. To paraphrase one quote from the old board:

                  Guild Factor: You won’t do business with us? That’s fine. Enjoy the poisoned water and mercenaries we send after you.
                  Solar: My water is part of a sewer system that has water elements clean and purify the water every day, while the demons I got bound to the road notified me of your army and already killed them. By the way, I just summoned Cthulhu to deal with you, I hope you have a tentacle fetish.
                  As dismissive as this looks to the Guild Factor’s ability to be a threat, that Solar has probably put in way more effort into making this threat look pathetic than they would’ve done for direct violence from an enemy Exalt. Which is probably just clapping their hands and having one or more 2nd or 3rd circle bodyguards appear.


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                  • #10
                    While it's not going to address some of the problems with how competent Solars can be, I think something to really consider is Charm Ability prerequisites.

                    One of the things that I think tends to drive players towards raising their Abilities high at start is how fast Charms get to requiring 4s and 5s.

                    Lets say you want to make a character with Dodge as their main defense, then you look at the Charms:

                    Dodge 1: 1 Charm (Excellency)
                    Dodge 2: 1 Charm
                    Dodge 3: 4 Charms
                    Dodge 4: 5 Charms
                    Dodge 5: 16 Charms.

                    Buying a few Defensive Charms and not pumping your Abilities fairly high during creation isn't really effective. Making it easier to get a solid Charm selection at Ability 1 or 2, would make it easier to convince players that buying things as high as possible ASAP isn't that important.

                    If you make Essence 1/Ability 2 a more viable bread & butter Charm zone, it makes cutting back on things like how many Abilities characters start with easier; there's less pressure to jack up your ratings so you qualify for Charms.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                      While it's not going to address some of the problems with how competent Solars can be, I think something to really consider is Charm Ability prerequisites.

                      One of the things that I think tends to drive players towards raising their Abilities high at start is how fast Charms get to requiring 4s and 5s.

                      Lets say you want to make a character with Dodge as their main defense, then you look at the Charms:

                      Dodge 1: 1 Charm (Excellency)
                      Dodge 2: 1 Charm
                      Dodge 3: 4 Charms
                      Dodge 4: 5 Charms
                      Dodge 5: 16 Charms.

                      Buying a few Defensive Charms and not pumping your Abilities fairly high during creation isn't really effective. Making it easier to get a solid Charm selection at Ability 1 or 2, would make it easier to convince players that buying things as high as possible ASAP isn't that important.

                      If you make Essence 1/Ability 2 a more viable bread & butter Charm zone, it makes cutting back on things like how many Abilities characters start with easier; there's less pressure to jack up your ratings so you qualify for Charms.
                      I agree with you there. The distribution should probably be more like 1/2/5/3/2 or something.



                      Originally posted by Lioness View Post

                      As dismissive as this looks to the Guild Factor’s ability to be a threat, that Solar has probably put in way more effort into making this threat look pathetic than they would’ve done for direct violence from an enemy Exalt. Which is probably just clapping their hands and having one or more 2nd or 3rd circle bodyguards appear.
                      Agreed. If a circle of PCs have progresseed enough to start binding demons to infrastructure or have elementals purifying their sewers, then 'mere mortal' guild factors isn't what they should be put up against anyway.

                      plus, the guild can do a lot more than that. Funding their enemies, selling information, weapons, horses, mercenaries at cheap rates to their foes, and generally just economic warfare: Embargo the solar's kingdom, so that none of their neighbors will dare trade with the, or risk the guild's wrath. Enjoy not having any foreign trade.


                      Malfeas F'Tagn - go check out my epic MLP/Exalted crossover "The Scroll of Exalted ponies" @ Fimfiction

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                        "Put one dot in Melee so you can have it as a Favored Ability and buy Dipping Swallow Defence (get an an Ox-Body too)" is not the same as "Take Dex 5 Melee 5".
                        That's not really what it's saying either. "Have a Melee excellency" is not at all the same thing as "put fifteen to thirty percent of your starting points into combat or go splat." The passage doesn't use something like a Wyld hunt as its example-- "the first gang of bandits to come along" is an almost stereotypically level-one-first-encounter.

                        And "fifteen to thirty percent of your starting points into combat" is not unreasonable advice! It's about what I'd tell anyone making a character in another system where fighting ability is a matter of choice, like Fate. "Put at least one combat skill at +2, and make sure one of your Aspects can help keep you from getting shot." And when a game makes it so trivial to start with something like 3 Dex/5 Melee (still plenty to trivialize foes), my assumption is that it WANTS me too.

                        Forget the chance of death; combat is just too SLOW for me to feel good about anyone being sidelined.

                        To some extent, I think the combat engine is more to blame then the antagonists, though. It works really well for one-on-one duels, but it makes being outnumbered a death sentence and even a vanilla mortal involves enough complexity that the thought of putting a dozen of them on the field is a nightmare. The tyrant lizard isn't impressive when it's stuck in initiative crash, and it doesn't matter how much of a threat a mob of (non-battle-grouped) elite bodyguards theoretically represents if trying to run them makes the GM's head explode.

                        (And now I'm thinking about how to handle a "minion" template that simplifies combat mechanics for a single foe like battle groups do for a mob. Hmm...)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                          I'd absolutely represent "your soul is being ripped out" as "uncountable damage", but whatever. I actually agree with your wider point.
                          Yeah I know, but this would be a case of "I'm the ST, and I say your life hangs in the Twilight's hands right now, don't be a dick about it".

                          Originally posted by webkilla View Post
                          also, i don't mind players who end up as near-invinsible combat monsters. Exalted is IMHO about gaining great power... and then you unleash your players, make them into god-kings and see how well they handle that power. The D&D mentality of "aww man, they're handling my bandit encounters too easily" doesn't work for Exalted.
                          Okay, but look at the mechanics, look at the antagonists. There's something like two pages on the leadership 'system' as a really loose general advice about how actions should have consequences and how you can use appropriate dots of appropriate backgrounds to deal with appropriate issues, without really hammering out any good guidelines or specifics.

                          What about the combat system? Several pages including actions like taking cover, disengaging, defending other, full defense, aiming, there's environmental penalties, wound penalties, onslaught penalties, prone penalties, poison penalties, bonuses for being mounted, combat poisons, battlegroups, orders, pre-battle group fight modifiers, two different classifications of attacks, weapon stats, weapon tags, merits which affect how fast you draw weapons, how fast you move in combat, bonus join battle merit.

                          The antagonists too, there are some like Isabet Maken, the Master of Cauldron Valley, but there's also barrow hounds, black hollows, molehounds, fang blossoms, rothoppers, steel eaters, storm serpents, giant constrictors and on and on and on.

                          If I'm to assume that a ghostfisher, Shai-Hulud, may His passing cleanse the world, is something that should just be skipped over because fighting one isn't the point of the game, why are there so many things like him, and why are the mechanics for playing that fight out so deep? I would argue that fighting a 500 foot long undead sandworm actually should be one of the big draws of Exalted, but even if it isn't, why is the game set up to make it seem like it is?

                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          While it's not going to address some of the problems with how competent Solars can be, I think something to really consider is Charm Ability prerequisites.

                          One of the things that I think tends to drive players towards raising their Abilities high at start is how fast Charms get to requiring 4s and 5s.
                          I do agree that it's a problem, but I don't think it needs to change that drastically to be not a problem. Even now with 3 dodge you can grab Reed in the Wind, Reflex Sidestep Technique and Drifting Leave Elusion. With 2 Dex you've got Evasion 3, boostable to 5 with motes, or 6+ with initiative. You get the reflex sidestep ability to dodge unexpected attacks, which as long as there's even one 1 or 2 in the roll bumps your evasion up to base and lets you use that ability to then use charms to boost it further. Then you get the ability to activate a reflexive 1m Evasion booster, but only when you know it would save you.

                          That's not bad. Against enemies like the beak attack of an armored kraken, the grapple of a black hollow, the toxic breath of a cockatrice, the crushing bite of a giant constrictor, you're going to be able to dodge all of that pretty well. Boost up to 5 with excellency, if you want 6 with initiative, stunt for 7, and if they somehow manage 7 successes on 8 dice you've got Drifting Leave Elusion to get out. If they manage 8 successes on 8 dice? Or more realistically 10 if the ST is stunting? Well sometimes you might get hit with a withering attack in combat, it happens. That's why antagonists have abilities like "If the X deals at least 5 damage with a withering attack, it may pay a point of willpower to make a reflexive grapple attempt" or whatever. Sometimes those enemies are supposed to land at least one hit.

                          That's Dodge 3, Dex 2, and using 2 charms. There are a few attacks which are much more accurate, like a storm mother's claws, which only deal 12 damage, but hey they have maybe a 50% chance of hitting your boosted defense. That's okay, you can hit them back, they only have a parry of 4 and no way to boost it or ignore onslaught/wound penalties.

                          Again though, I think the trees are a touch too topheavy and should offer more options lower down, it's just that even in the bad state that they're in now your character isn't hopelessly doomed for not having those higher essence charms.

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                          • #14
                            Oh also as an aside I ran Exalted for the first time in a while as a mortals game, went fucking amazing. The group was pretty diverse and did a lot of fun scenes, including one where they basically killed a small army and their leader, and then went to fight a DB with Cynis Cogen's statblock and his hobgoblin minions. Totally smashed it. First combat lasted I think 3 rounds and took maybe 25 minutes with the players dominating everything, second combat was probably 5 rounds and maybe 40-50 minutes, but there was a lot more going on, and the immaculate trained monk got some good solid hits in.

                            It was a bit tense, although none of the PCs ended up taking any decisive damage in spite of my best efforts, there was still a lot of good action!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                              I do agree that it's a problem, but I don't think it needs to change that drastically to be not a problem.
                              You're talking about the problem from the perspective of system mastery and knowing antagonist stat blocks.

                              I'm talking more about what the books communicate to the players about how to make their PCs based on what their starting resources are; a more subjective and psychological part of the issue.

                              And, of course, players don't want to be doing "will probably be fine" against heavy hitting non-Exalted stat blocks with their one major defensive Ability. They want to have something to make sure they're not dragging the rest of the players down when super-serious fight breaks out. Dex 2/Dodge 3 is fine against most things in Creation, but most games are going to end up dealing with stuff that will no be impressed by that.

                              Again though, I think the trees are a touch too topheavy and should offer more options lower down, it's just that even in the bad state that they're in now your character isn't hopelessly doomed for not having those higher essence charms.
                              I'm not talking about Essence though. The first Dodge 5 Charm is at Essence 1. Of the Dodge 4 Charms, two are Essence 1, and three are Essence 2. Even if our Dodge character here never plans on taking any Dodge Charm Essence 3+, they need Dodge 5 for a lot of those Charms.

                              How do you convince someone not to drop 2 BP for Dodge 5 at char-gen instead of 12 XP during play, if Dodge is going to be their main "don't die" Charm source?

                              Even if they don't jump on the Dodge 4 and 5 Charms off the bat, they can pick them up as they want instead of waiting to up Dodge twice first. The only thing the system mastery side of things is convincing on is that they don't need to dump five Charms into Dodge at start to be safe from getting smooshed. It's not going to convince them to put a small part of their char-gen resources into Dodge 5 so they can freely buy the Essene 2 and 3 Dodge stuff as the game progresses.

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