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The Exalted Essence experience

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  • Chausse
    started a topic The Exalted Essence experience

    The Exalted Essence experience

    Since I did my first game yesterday, and that some people are probably gonna start their own game soon, I'm creating a new topic so that people can also share their feedback. The idea is to share your experiences from live tests of the game to give people some ideas about how the game is run, and to ourselves about how we run the game and what we could do differently.

    The basic premise in my game is my players are from a The 5 Pillars Clan in the 100 Kingdoms, some kind of Dojo/Culture that was crushed long ago in a revolution and since then lost their glory. Their leader is a Getimian that comes from a timeline where The 5 Pillars rule over the 100 Kingdoms and maintain peace, but this destiny apparently never happened. He's helped in his task to restore glory of the Dojo by an Alchemical that he found, and a Realm DB that fled familial conflicts to focus on his Martial Arts interests. I won't probably detail more the setting, but it's interesting to note already that the new Exalted types allow for new kinds of perspectives on classical tropes which are refreshing.

    I had some surprises regarding the actual system which is that the Difficulties are way harder than before. I'm prefacing this with 2 things : We don't use Stunt dices (because we always forgot about them in 3e) but in exchange I will be more relaxed regarding failure when the roll is missed by 1 success only (for example I would propose a Hard Bargain for the last success), and the other is that we don't master all the dice tricks of the system yet (Teamwork, circumstancial bonuses, etc ...), so there might be some small differences from other tables, but overall right now going over 5-6 successes way harder (or at least way less consistent), even with Excellencies. Teamwork roll will often give bonuses of only 2-3 dices because that's already a Difficulty 3 roll, if you're going to convince any NPC to do something he has a bit of a reason to not do his Resolve can quickly go up to 5-6, and if the person trying to convince him is not your "Persuasion" expert it's actually quite hard to do in a consistent way.

    Following this, I appreciated the Social system. The NPC's are quicker to do by just choosing 2 virtues and completing Intimacies along the way during play with logical story elements. There is always this particular thing where some rolls don't have consequences "naturally" on fail and so you have to improvise a bit to find some interesting answers when a player just outright fails a "read Intentions" roll. I think it would be great to have some guidelines on the flow of Social scenes, because failed rolls don't really forward the story at the moment if you go "by the book". The rest regarding intimacies and using them etc is the same as before, except for the fact that you don't need a specific intimacy to make someone do something, but if you don't the Difficulty can quickly go high and make it ireally hard to do anyway because the Difficulty becomes a bit high

    Regarding Combat, it's not easy to grasp it right away coming from 3e because while some things seems to have stayed the same, a lot of details have changed. I'm going to cover a simple idea that I like a lot : The Rush action (Movement + attack) makes for a much more mobile combat than in 3e, which is quite good, because players are incentivize to move when they do something. I don't think my fight yesterday was very representative because a First player rolled 13 successes on his first Build Power action with 13 dices, and distributed power to the 2 others. The second then rolled 17 successes on damage for 12 dices and destroyed the Battlegroup. The power seems to go up by increment of 3-5 when everything is going "okay" (balanced attacker and defender). I have the feeling it's way easier to hit that not, and Heavy weapons have something much more interesting that I didn't notice before : They apply damage to Health and not to more Power, so if you hit a Decisive with a Heavy Weapon it can quickly be much more violent, considering starting characters have 6-8 health.

    I'll complete some thoughts tonight probably, but that's overall my thoughts for the day. Ventures are nice, but actually finding a Dramatic Scene that is a middle ground that suits the players for their ventures and the way they envision it and the ST for what he has prepared is harder than I expected
    Last edited by Chausse; 07-02-2021, 03:57 AM.

  • Solar
    replied
    Originally posted by Greyman View Post
    Charm trees have been pruned down to shrubbery.

    Charms with charm prerequisites are in the minority, except for the martial arts styles. Each of these a chain of three to four charms.

    Most "treeing" is through modes ; some of which require repurchase, others granted on meeting their separate prerequisites.
    .
    That makes me more interested in it tbh. The amount of charms in Ex3 core just made running the game a nightmare.

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  • ffanxii4ever
    replied
    Double Post

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  • ffanxii4ever
    replied
    Originally posted by Lindharin View Post
    I've briefly toyed with the idea that a withering attack can either give you the full result as additional power, or it can give you half (round up) and the target loses half (round down). Not sure who gets to choose, the attacker or defender, but leaning towards the defender (if the attacker wants guaranteed power, use build power instead). So the defender can stand their ground but that means the attacker gets more power, or can give ground which limits the attacker's power gain but at the cost of giving up their own power. It adds a touch more strategy, but I don't know the system well enough to know if it is both a meaningful choice (there isn't always a single optimal answer) and also makes things more engaging. Once I'm more experienced with the RAW experience, I'll probably play around with it.
    Kinda in this vein, something I've been toying with to give Withering attacks a feel of more impact is that the Damage rating of a weapon not only gives extra successes to the damage roll of a Decisive attack, but also how much Power that the target of an attack loses *if* hit. This also helps give Heavy Weapons a benefit with Withering attacks, as right now, there isn't much (at least that I can see).

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  • Lindharin
    replied
    I've briefly toyed with the idea that a withering attack can either give you the full result as additional power, or it can give you half (round up) and the target loses half (round down). Not sure who gets to choose, the attacker or defender, but leaning towards the defender (if the attacker wants guaranteed power, use build power instead). So the defender can stand their ground but that means the attacker gets more power, or can give ground which limits the attacker's power gain but at the cost of giving up their own power. It adds a touch more strategy, but I don't know the system well enough to know if it is both a meaningful choice (there isn't always a single optimal answer) and also makes things more engaging. Once I'm more experienced with the RAW experience, I'll probably play around with it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Whiskey Jack
    replied
    That's great, but Exalted 3e is also right there. If you love the combat at its current level, then you don't need essence. I loved a lot of the ideas that came in with Ex3's overhaul to the core system, but I also know that there's not a chance in Malfeas of me onboarding any of my more casual friends into that system. There's just too much book keeping. This strikes a nice middle-ground for me, so I'm excited to work with it more. If you like the other stuff that Essence is doing but want combat closer to Ex3 core, it shouldn't be too hard to houserule that in. Simply make withering attacks deal damage to the opponent's power in addition to building your own. Add a bonus/penalty to crashing someone and you're pretty golden. None of that even conflicts with any of the charms I've seen.

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  • autXautY
    replied
    Originally posted by Whiskey Jack View Post
    This would be a pretty drastic paradigm shift, though. Personally, I don't think the game needs it. Yes, withering attacks feel a bit like swinging a wiffle bat . . . but honestly, no more than HP feels like in most games, which is exactly where you get to if you start inflating peoples health levels to avoid the immediate death spiral effect.
    In my opinion, Exalted 3e had probably the best combat system I've seen in an RPG. It has cases where the numbers felt off, and lots of complexity, some of it needless, but at a fundamental level it's much more fun than basically every form of combat I've played an RPG with. The degree to which there are dramatic back-and-forths, and you feel like you interact with the enemy, and you don't know what's going to happen over the next turn surpass basically every RPG I've seen.
    Going from that to "not worse than most games" feels like a large downgrade.

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  • Whiskey Jack
    replied
    Originally posted by Zeea View Post
    My big issue with the withering attacks and Power system is that they feel like wasted time now. I can understand the idea of what they represent in Essence, and the abstract concept that your Power represents your opponent being driven back, but it feels unsatisfying when there's no actual mechanical effect for being hit by withering attacks. Really, it just feels like everyone taking turns rolling initiative dice until someone gets enough total successes to attempt an actual attack. It doesn't have fun things like crashes and 3e-style clashes and stuff.

    But it still slows the game down and complicates things. It feels like the game would just be better without Power. Just have direct attacks against health like in the older editions and maybe give more health or tone down damage so people aren't getting splattered on the first round. But with withering attacks and Build Power being integral to the combat system, it feels like you'd have to overhaul the whole thing and many of the combat charms to make that work. (On the other hand, now that I think about it, there really aren't that many combat charms in the first place. Hmmm. It might be doable.)
    I wouldn't go that far. It's hard to avoid the death spiral that wound penalties create if people can just directly attack health levels without making significant changes to the way health/damage works. I think that, if you wanted a system where withering attacks felt more consequential, I might do something like this instead;
    1. Everyone starts at power 10 (or maybe this depends on their join battle roll . . . that's something to tweak if you go further with this idea)
    2. New Hardness (maybe call it Poise to differentiate for this new system) is calculated as 10- (old) Hardness
    3. Withering attacks against a target subtract from their power.
    4. You can't make a decisive attack against a character until you drop their power beneath their poise.
    5. Withering attacks work as normal except they only damage the opponent's power.
    6. Build power actions work as normal. they only build power.
    This system adds a bit of complexity to combat. Build power actions and withering attacks now serve distinctly different purposes. This would be a pretty drastic paradigm shift, though. Personally, I don't think the game needs it. Yes, withering attacks feel a bit like swinging a wiffle bat . . . but honestly, no more than HP feels like in most games, which is exactly where you get to if you start inflating peoples health levels to avoid the immediate death spiral effect. I'm only having my first test games now, but between overwhelming values and the efficiency of build power actions to support allies, I think you should be able to build power relatively quickly to launch decisive attacks frequently.

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  • Zeea
    replied
    My big issue with the withering attacks and Power system is that they feel like wasted time now. I can understand the idea of what they represent in Essence, and the abstract concept that your Power represents your opponent being driven back, but it feels unsatisfying when there's no actual mechanical effect for being hit by withering attacks. Really, it just feels like everyone taking turns rolling initiative dice until someone gets enough total successes to attempt an actual attack. It doesn't have fun things like crashes and 3e-style clashes and stuff.

    But it still slows the game down and complicates things. It feels like the game would just be better without Power. Just have direct attacks against health like in the older editions and maybe give more health or tone down damage so people aren't getting splattered on the first round. But with withering attacks and Build Power being integral to the combat system, it feels like you'd have to overhaul the whole thing and many of the combat charms to make that work. (On the other hand, now that I think about it, there really aren't that many combat charms in the first place. Hmmm. It might be doable.)

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    I'm not gonna lie, I'm probably still going to hack a simpler combat system for my table. But I love what they've done with Charms and pretty much everything else.

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  • Greyman
    replied
    Originally posted by Solar View Post
    I don't really know much about Essence; is the combat notably streamlined and are the charm trees trimmed down?
    Charm trees have been pruned down to shrubbery.

    Charms with charm prerequisites are in the minority, except for the martial arts styles. Each of these a chain of three to four charms.

    Most "treeing" is through modes ; some of which require repurchase, others granted on meeting their separate prerequisites.
    .
    Last edited by Greyman; 07-28-2021, 04:26 AM.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Originally posted by Chausse View Post

    Could just give power to the Commander or something. I mean that's basically what they already do, except you have to manage 3 Qualities to obtain this result. I'd honestly prefer drawing away the mechanical attention from them at this point, since they have a lot of things to manage already and are not as important PC or NPC's.

    We have done one or 2 sessions since last time and it went really great for me as a ST, so I'll try to put another post here.

    I've noticed with a friend that Hardness seems really useless, and we found someone else who already commented it (on the Discord I think ? Idk where he found this) :

    "So, after a few combats in essence, I've decided that I don't understand what hardness adds to the game. Because of the way soak interacts with damage and the amount mundane light armor adds, there's very little incentive to perform a decisive attack with less than 6 power. So the average behavior ends up the same either way.

    Additionally, I didn't really like tracking coordinated attack penalties. There was also some confusion on their tracking, which lead to the group settling on -1 per withering attack instead of the written -([withering attacks] - 1), reset each round.

    It also got in the way when one of the players wanted to use the butterflies/raptor spell for the environmental effect and didn't care about damaging the target. Yeah, that one is easy to house rule "target the ground's 1 hardness," but it still was disruptive.

    I can foresee a meaningful use of hardness with the essence 9 and 10 antagonists, but that could easily be replaced with a quality that says "the opposition must do 2 or 3 withering attacks before the character can be targeted by a decisive attack, reset after a decisive attack."

    I could also see it used as guidance on when decisive attacks should occur to avoid the zero damage issue. But coordinated attacks destroy that potential utility. Community consensus seems to be that gambits ignore hardness, so there's no utility there.

    Overall, hardness didn't add anything that I valued as a player or as an ST and created a bunch of extra tracking."
    Interesting thoughts, thank you.

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  • Solar
    replied
    I don't really know much about Essence; is the combat notably streamlined and are the charm trees trimmed down?

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  • Burrrrrton
    replied
    Originally posted by Chausse View Post

    Yeah I think they wanted to keep the idea of managing mechanically BG's in more or less the same way than in 3e but I think from a lot of perspective it would gain to be "automatic" since it kinda draws the attention away from the important characters, and there are a lot of mechanical things involved in them

    I think the direct assessment of mechanics is up to the individual. Someone prefers more complex mechanics, while others prefer casual things.

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  • Chausse
    replied
    Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
    Tbh, Battle Groups attacking the PCs and... simply getting 3 Power and nothing else happening, seems really dull. If it did something else as well, sure.
    Could just give power to the Commander or something. I mean that's basically what they already do, except you have to manage 3 Qualities to obtain this result. I'd honestly prefer drawing away the mechanical attention from them at this point, since they have a lot of things to manage already and are not as important PC or NPC's.

    We have done one or 2 sessions since last time and it went really great for me as a ST, so I'll try to put another post here.

    I've noticed with a friend that Hardness seems really useless, and we found someone else who already commented it (on the Discord I think ? Idk where he found this) :

    "So, after a few combats in essence, I've decided that I don't understand what hardness adds to the game. Because of the way soak interacts with damage and the amount mundane light armor adds, there's very little incentive to perform a decisive attack with less than 6 power. So the average behavior ends up the same either way.

    Additionally, I didn't really like tracking coordinated attack penalties. There was also some confusion on their tracking, which lead to the group settling on -1 per withering attack instead of the written -([withering attacks] - 1), reset each round.

    It also got in the way when one of the players wanted to use the butterflies/raptor spell for the environmental effect and didn't care about damaging the target. Yeah, that one is easy to house rule "target the ground's 1 hardness," but it still was disruptive.

    I can foresee a meaningful use of hardness with the essence 9 and 10 antagonists, but that could easily be replaced with a quality that says "the opposition must do 2 or 3 withering attacks before the character can be targeted by a decisive attack, reset after a decisive attack."

    I could also see it used as guidance on when decisive attacks should occur to avoid the zero damage issue. But coordinated attacks destroy that potential utility. Community consensus seems to be that gambits ignore hardness, so there's no utility there.

    Overall, hardness didn't add anything that I valued as a player or as an ST and created a bunch of extra tracking."

    Leave a comment:

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