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Wizard's Panoply - How to play a mage in Exalted [Collection, WIP]

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  • Wizard's Panoply - How to play a mage in Exalted [Collection, WIP]

    Playing as a sorcerer in Exalted is like playing a Real-Time-Strategy video game. They cast their spells only in safety and privacy. Flinging firefalls at enemies is not what a Sorcerer of Creation does.
    For all who still want the alternative, this thread. I'm trying to collect ideas, Artifacts, Charms, Backgrounds, Merits, Mutations and even Houserules that help design a mage type playable character as envisioned by D&D, Mage: the Awakening and similar games:
    Freeform magic, prepared Spells, summoned minions, magic that helps even inside combat time. And throwing fireballs at enemies, laughing manically!
    Please comment or post other suggestions. This list is not complete, but it wants to be once it's grown up. Only you can help with that!





    So far this list is about 2.5E, I will add a list for 3E once it's out.



    This list uses following tags to be easily searchable:
    • [MINION] allows you to summon/control/bind a creature and use their powers for yourself
    • [TRIGGER] allows preparation of Spells long before their usage
    • [FREEFORM] allows freeform magic
    Wizard's Panoply





    Artifacts
    • Metasorcerous Phylactery - prepare Spells and bind them to triggers; or warp their manifestation (DOTFA2, p. 117) [TRIGGER]
    • Crucible of Tarim - prepare Spells as usable vials with a long ritual (BOS3, p. 42) [TRIGGER]
    • Spell-Capturing Cords - catch other's or prepare your own Spells with a misc. action (BOS3, p.39) [TRIGGER]
    • Yasal Crystal - captured Spirits allow you to use their Charms (CORE, p. 381) [MINION]
    • Singing Staff - manipulate earth into a specific shape (CORE, p. 392)
    • Fire Lance - a large staff like object that can shoot fireballs? great! (BOS1, p.77)
    • Essence Wall Projector - allows creation of barriers (BOS1 , p.68)
    • Barrier Sand - create stable walls everywhere you want (MOEPI, p.186)
    • Living Jade Stuff - boosts Terrestrial Elemental Charms immensely (DOTFA2, p. 179)
    Backgrounds
    • Manse - Hearthstone powers deliver all kinds of magical powers
    • Style Background - Wyld stunts allow you to make improvised freeform magic (???) [FREEFORM]
    • Sign of Chaos - Hearthstone which gives you the equivalent Style background (IM) [FREEFORM]
    ​Charms
    • The Time Is Now - summon demons within any single hour [MINION]
    • Most Yozi Charms (only listing especially helpful ones)
    • Mind-Hand Manipulation - use telekinetic force, Principle-Invoking Onslaught makes it freeform magic [FREEFORM]
    • Phantom-Conjuring Performance - allows phantasms and can make actions seem magically enhanced
    • Memory-Reweaving Discipline - sufficiently advanced performance is indistinguishable from magic [FREEFORM]
    • Instant Treatment Methodology - replaces "healing spells" for Solars
    • Anointment of Miraculous Health - buff party members with additional health levels
    • Wyld-Shaping Technique - if you houserule the total breaking of Crafts away it still allows a simple and very useful form of freeform magic [FREEFORM]
    • Shinmaic Calibration - endgame Charm that allows freeform magic in a wider sense than any other [FREEFORM]
    • Keen Understanding of the Core Imperfection - allows you to find a way to destroy objects which is a primary job for every mage
    • Generalized Ammunition Technique - use objects as projectiles [FREEFORM]
    • Many Missiles Bow Technique - change arrows into special effects [FREEFORM]
    ​Mutations
    • Hive - another form of using minions in battle (CORE, p. 290) [MINION]
    • Essence Attack - throw projectiles out of essence, like a fireball (SOH, p.134)
    Houserules
    • ?
    Last edited by Nephtys; 09-03-2014, 06:35 PM.

  • Nephtys
    replied
    Originally posted by sodina View Post

    This is very cool and I hate myself for not thinking of it sooner. Question though: What ways can I use to allow the puppet to speak?
    I may not understand the question, but in the end it's only a Total Control effect. The puppet can do everything you want, except using essence powers (like Charms). I'm pretty sure even Permanent Charms would still be active (after all, at least Ox-Body needs to be).

    In a more practical approach, such a puppet is a great way to accompany your circle while still being safe. Think of it as something similar to playing a Lunar: bringing a wide array of creatures into play as allies.

    The only big problem: You need Manses to use this spell for a longer period of time, because without essence regeneration life sucks. That's basically the only downside. And like most spells it has basically no rules at all, at least about what you can takeover...

    Leave a comment:


  • sodina
    replied
    Originally posted by Crumplepunch View Post

    The spell Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry is often overlooked, but it is enormously powerful and versatile. It can lie dormant for an indefinite period, and you can retain the gems of as many potential possession victims as you choose. It gives you access all of the subject's memories, and you have access to all of your Essence powers. You take damage from dying while possessing a body, but it's a slap on the wrist compared to actual death.

    The Minions of the Eyeless Face are likewise often overlooked for being inferior to bound demons, but they have an excellent interaction with Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry.
    This is very cool and I hate myself for not thinking of it sooner. Question though: What ways can I use to allow the puppet to speak?

    Leave a comment:


  • Thoth
    replied
    Originally posted by Crumplepunch View Post
    Well, I generally call shenanigans on crunch powers which are clearly more powerful than they should be given their general lack of impact on the setting.
    In the case of sorcery I think I give it a bit more leeway because all the fluff about it in the game supposedly makes it out to be this over powered thing to be feared regardless of situation, yet on a mechanical level when used with out creativity it is underwhelming at best.

    I fully admit that Demon of the First Circle and Summon Elemental are hands down the best utility spells in the game, but they kind of illustrate the base issue with sorcerers in general. All those spells do is summon a demon/elemental, that's all and if it breaks free the spell is useless. The utility comes from the player and the character they are portraying both knowing what sorts of demons/elementals are available to summon and then picking which one best suits their needs.

    It's not like learning the spell automatically gives you a free cell app that has a pokedex of stats and suggested uses. If the player doesn't read the additional books all they do is summon blood apes and neomah, which isn't that utilitarian. On the other hand if the player has read every single book, but their character hasn't role played getting the huge amounts of knowledge, especially the super esoteric stuff, then the summoning spell is equally as limited.

    It's kind of like those discussions about an eclipse-a-like getting that one charm from the hekatonkhire that allows them to auto-learn solar and abyssal charms. I have yet to hear how these characters even found out about the critter in the first place, let alone getting the exact lowdown on what it's stats and charm list is. So all of the utility of these summoning spells are also balanced out by the ST saying yay or nay about what has been learned and discovered in game.

    Because if an ST just hand waves the whole thing, skips all the binding issues for demons and doesn't worry about how the character knows all of this, then of course the spell will be stupidly over powered. But if the ST keeps on top of it, then the spells are just as balanced as anything else in the game.


    Leave a comment:


  • Crumplepunch
    replied
    Originally posted by Thoth View Post
    First off, cool concepts on the Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry + Greater Minions of the Eyeless Face combo.
    Thank you. I once wrote up a mortal sorcerer designed to vex Exalted circles, and he relied heavily on Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry to maintain his Hundred-Kingdoms spanning secret society/conspiracy.

    Originally posted by Thoth View Post
    This brings up an interesting point. Why is it a shenanigan as opposed to just a sorcery combo?
    Well, I generally call shenanigans on crunch powers which are clearly more powerful than they should be given their general lack of impact on the setting. Most of your manse stuff, for example. It's often ingenious, but I would never want it anywhere near one of my games.

    Just because the character creation rules and point buy system makes it possible (even optimal) for every Dynast to have a manse with a bound celestial sorcerer, integrated unique artifacts and combined fragility/invulnerability does not make it desirable to act as if this is the case in-universe. Likewise, heroic mortals wandering around with the Immortal Flesh mutation are probably thin on the ground. Most players and storytellers, myself included, have a bullshit threshold for this kind of thing.

    As for the difference between Sorcery and Charms in these matters, bullshit alerts are often triggered in Sorcery because they have more abstract and easily exploitable effects that can lead to unintended and disruptive consequences. While some of them are comparable in utility. no Charm ever devised has the versatility of Demon of the First Circle, save perhaps the pre-errata Wyld Shaping Technique and its subsequent Charms.

    Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry, while fun, is enormously overpowered for what it is intended to be a creepy temporary possession and infiltration spell. The version in the Book of the Emerald Circle rewrite is considerably lower key, riskier and more difficult to exploit while retaining the core theme of the spell.
    Last edited by Crumplepunch; 09-06-2014, 07:03 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Thoth
    replied
    Originally posted by tzar1990 View Post
    I think it's because Sorceries are, in general, thematically different from each other in a way charms aren't.

    When you find an effective combo of charms, it may be strong, but it feels like you're finding something that was always MEANT to be put together in some way or another. It's like making something out of Lego pieces - even if the pieces are from different models (i.e. Abilities) they still clip together, and you can tell they were made to do so.

    On the other hand, sorceries don't really have the clear similarities with each other that charms possess. Each one is generally self-contained and unique. So combining them is kinda like making a go-kart out of a lawnmower and an old wagon - it can get you some surprising or even impressive results, but the bits that you assemble are clearly from distinct things.
    Following this line of thinking, you would never have a mixed circle of exalts since outside of some very rare examples there is no direct mechanic or thematic synergy between exalt splats. In fact I might go so far as to say there are more sorcery related charms than there are inter-exalt synergistic charms or mechanics.

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  • tzar1990
    replied
    Originally posted by Thoth View Post
    This brings up an interesting point. Why is it a shenanigan as opposed to just a sorcery combo?

    If you had two charms that you can combo to produce an even greater result, most people just label it things like a "2/7 filter" or what ever, they don't think of it as a shenanigan. But I have noticed that many people regard combining spells or spell + manse powers as auto-shenanigan status (if I say shenanigans one more time I will start quoting super troopers).

    Considering the higher xp cost of spells, the whole sorcery initiation thing and permanent essence requirements that often hamper the spell caster builds, having spells pull off this sort of power level seems balanced to me and rewards creative game play as a bonus.

    I just find the way people categorize things to be interesting.
    I think it's because Sorceries are, in general, thematically different from each other in a way charms aren't.

    When you find an effective combo of charms, it may be strong, but it feels like you're finding something that was always MEANT to be put together in some way or another. It's like making something out of Lego pieces - even if the pieces are from different models (i.e. Abilities) they still clip together, and you can tell they were made to do so.

    On the other hand, sorceries don't really have the clear similarities with each other that charms possess. Each one is generally self-contained and unique. So combining them is kinda like making a go-kart out of a lawnmower and an old wagon - it can get you some surprising or even impressive results, but the bits that you assemble are clearly from distinct things.

    To put it in D&D terms, people will often (in my experience) consider in "munchkinry" when you combine two effects from different splatbooks or different subsystems (i.e. a Psionic effect and a Magical one, or taking Incarnum feats on a Tome of Battle character), even if they're fine with people playing full-powered wizards or CoDzilla - we're more willing to accept powerful content when it seems that said power is intentional, rather than accidental.

    Leave a comment:


  • Thoth
    replied
    First off, cool concepts on the Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry + Greater Minions of the Eyeless Face combo.

    Originally posted by Crumplepunch View Post
    While it falls outwith the purview of a D&D style wizard, I thought I should mention some sorcery shenanigans.
    This brings up an interesting point. Why is it a shenanigan as opposed to just a sorcery combo?

    If you had two charms that you can combo to produce an even greater result, most people just label it things like a "2/7 filter" or what ever, they don't think of it as a shenanigan. But I have noticed that many people regard combining spells or spell + manse powers as auto-shenanigan status (if I say shenanigans one more time I will start quoting super troopers).

    Considering the higher xp cost of spells, the whole sorcery initiation thing and permanent essence requirements that often hamper the spell caster builds, having spells pull off this sort of power level seems balanced to me and rewards creative game play as a bonus.

    I just find the way people categorize things to be interesting.

    Leave a comment:


  • Crumplepunch
    replied
    While it falls outwith the purview of a D&D style wizard, I thought I should mention some sorcery shenanigans.

    The spell Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry is often overlooked, but it is enormously powerful and versatile. It can lie dormant for an indefinite period, and you can retain the gems of as many potential possession victims as you choose. It gives you access all of the subject's memories, and you have access to all of your Essence powers. You take damage from dying while possessing a body, but it's a slap on the wrist compared to actual death.

    The Minions of the Eyeless Face are likewise often overlooked for being inferior to bound demons, but they have an excellent interaction with Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry.

    1) First, summon the Greater Minions of the Eyeless Face, pouring as many motes into bonus points as possible. A high Essence sorcerer should be able to max a large portion of their stats.

    2) Use Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry on one of them. Possess.

    3) If you feel uncomfortable about looking like a horrifying alien servant-limb cast beyond the light of the world, use Disguise of the New Face to assume whatever appearance you please.

    Voila, you now have access to all your original powers, but with maxed Strength, Dexterity Stamina, Perception, Appearance, Abilities and Specialities. If you "die", you take a hit of willpower and some bashing damage and wake up with a headache, before sending out the next minion from your manse fortress to avenge yourself.

    Of course, nothing but prudence prevents you from using Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry on a more potent servant, like a Demon of the Second Circle.

    Leave a comment:


  • Thoth
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    I don't have my books at the moment, but I recall some being less...open to creative use. Like one that shatters a ships mast? It's cool and really good at the one thing it does well, which isn't a bad thing at all. I just wish there was a less exploit-ey way to get access to it without spending xp. I'm not quite sure how to do that without being too close to DnDs prepared spells, but then again I'm not too sure that is a thing that should be explicitly avoided.
    The Mast-Shattering spell is a toss up, it is over powered inside it's purview and nearly useless in other settings so it balances out. The oar shattering variant is much less useful and the hull shattering version is incredibly powerful. So it kind of balances out, like how you don't take the Sail ability unless you plan on dealing with boats in your game. Though I have to admit that the hull shattering spell works well on airships..... hehehehe.

    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    Isn't it kind of a theme for pulp fantasy sorcerers to have certain things prepared, talismans and rites and focuses and components and stuff?
    Once again this is an example of the mechanics not requiring the player to work that way rather than being absent. For instance you can easily have many powerful spell combinations setup ahead of time in exalted, the problem is that they are more involved than simply taking specific charms.

    A sorcerer with a spell vial manse and an Infinite Resplendence Amulet that has some star metal in it for the elsewhere storage function can carry almost one ton of spell vials at all times and since the critter at the manse is the one casting the spells, they can be different from what the sorcerer knows.

    But we can take this a step further by adding a few functions to the manse and having a celestial spell caster. Have guardian force instead of just a guardian and then use "Faithful Ally" spell to connect each of your Circle to several guardians and to each other repeatedly. Then rig the manse with healing powers and essence batteries. This way if one of your party members is injured and mote tapped, they can be transported to the manse, insta-healed and recharged, followed by them teleporting back to the circle. I rigged a manse one time to be able to do this for a small army. Admittedly this can only be done a few times before all the castings of "Faithful Ally" are expended and you have to spend the better part of a week resetting everything, but it can be very powerful.

    So setting things up ahead of time is possible, it is just a question of how the players think about it.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Thoth View Post

    As a side note I did find a way to replicate the feel of the old AD&D mage mechanics in Exalted. You play a Terrestrial sorcerer with access to a manse that has both an integrated utility artifact crucible of tarim and then a guardian (high power elemental or bound god) which has access to celestial circle sorcery. Before leaving for your adventure you have to pick what spell vials are created and how many of them you can safely carry. Once you use those spell vials, that is it until you can get back to the manse. Incidentally I found this to be a great way to increase the power of Wyld Hunts without needing to add sidereals to them.
    That does sound pretty awesome, lets you keep a vast repertoire of abilities without going overboard.

    Totally agree with river of blood, there's other spells like that too like impenetrable sphere of water/air. Use it to fill a submerged cavern with breathable air, protect yourself from noxious gasses, drink it in the desert ect. Its great and almost always well worth the XP cost. I don't have my books at the moment, but I recall some being less...open to creative use. Like one that shatters a ships mast? It's cool and really good at the one thing it does well, which isn't a bad thing at all. I just wish there was a less exploit-ey way to get access to it without spending xp. I'm not quite sure how to do that without being too close to DnDs prepared spells, but then again I'm not too sure that is a thing that should be explicitly avoided. Isn't it kind of a theme for pulp fantasy sorcerers to have certain things prepared, talismans and rites and focuses and components and stuff?

    Leave a comment:


  • Thoth
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    I sadly can't remember AD&D, I was just getting into it when 3.0 was coming out. 5.0 is pretty good though.
    I guess my 1980's are showing. I still remember AD&D 1.0 and all its wonky mechanics. I really got into it in 2nd edition and switched to White Wolf products just as 3.0 came out.

    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    The thing is, spells like The Parting of the Seas can be used cleverly in a few different ways, it's mostly really damn good at it's one job. Which would be fine for a DnD spell, you have it in your spellbook, likely from a former encounter, and you prepare it for whatever plan you have or if you might think you need it, but it's okay if you only ever use it once. A spell in exalted that you only ever use once feels like a huge waste, especially since there are even spells like summon demon which you can use the crap out of, although I don't really feel like being a person who summons demons for everything that a demon could be used for, it's okay for some characters, but I'd prefer others to accomplish goals with epic sorcerous workings.
    I think part of the issue for me is that with exalted mechanics there is little reason to be as creative as other games forced you to be.

    Consider the "River of Blood" terrestrial sorcery spell. To most people that I discussed it with, it is an under powered spell that is a gimmick at best and a waste of xp at worst. You can only use it in specific circumstances, it doesn't technically do much but foul a water source for a limited time and the local plant life suffers. It is more of a plot device for an NPC to use as symbol of their power.

    How ever I have used it to produce mass amounts of fresh blood to feed a ghostly army, which makes undead armies in Creation far more viable. I have used it as method to bait ghosts who are avoiding my group in a game. I have used it as a defoliant to clear over grown ancient cities since all plant life within a mile of its use wither and die. I have used it as a siege weapon that destroys a water source and automatically causes a sickness affect in mortals who stay in the area. If you also have the spell "Water from Stone" then you can produce a water source pretty much where ever you want and can then use "River of Blood" with far greater utility.

    So you can sort of see what I am talking about how a person uses a given spell is just as important as what spells they know. Total Annihilation is a sweet spell, but at the same time you don't have to wait until Solar Circle Sorcery to bring a city to its knees or to feel like an all powerful sorcerer.

    As a side note I did find a way to replicate the feel of the old AD&D mage mechanics in Exalted. You play a Terrestrial sorcerer with access to a manse that has both an integrated utility artifact crucible of tarim and then a guardian (high power elemental or bound god) which has access to celestial circle sorcery. Before leaving for your adventure you have to pick what spell vials are created and how many of them you can safely carry. Once you use those spell vials, that is it until you can get back to the manse. Incidentally I found this to be a great way to increase the power of Wyld Hunts without needing to add sidereals to them.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Thoth View Post

    The weird thing is that the mechanics of AD&D mages partially forces the player to think in a tactical mindset since unlike charms the spells have to be selected ahead of time.

    In Exalted the mechanics tend to allow for a more frenetic pace and mind set. But at the same time there is still the possibility for tactical play styles, the players just have to be more creative about it.
    I sadly can't remember AD&D, I was just getting into it when 3.0 was coming out. 5.0 is pretty good though. It lets you have a wide range of fairly powerful skills, but picking them beforehand prevents the absolute applicability from getting out of hand and only having a certain amount per day makes it a damn big deal when you bust out that x-level spell, where x is the level you just got. Exalted did get that feel for sure, when you crack off a Total Annihilation it's a pretty big deal, even if it's the majority of your mote pool you did something epic.

    The thing is, spells like The Parting of the Seas can be used cleverly in a few different ways, it's mostly really damn good at it's one job. Which would be fine for a DnD spell, you have it in your spellbook, likely from a former encounter, and you prepare it for whatever plan you have or if you might think you need it, but it's okay if you only ever use it once. A spell in exalted that you only ever use once feels like a huge waste, especially since there are even spells like summon demon which you can use the crap out of, although I don't really feel like being a person who summons demons for everything that a demon could be used for, it's okay for some characters, but I'd prefer others to accomplish goals with epic sorcerous workings.

    Leave a comment:


  • Thoth
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
    I m not sure if exalted will ever quite get to the level of feeling like a wizard in the way of DnD. In DnD it's pretty easy to get a large spell book and feel like the master of conjuration as well as the standard wizard trappings of prestidigitation and unseen servant and such. Exalted spells being available for use and costing the same xp as charms just doesn't allow for that. In DnD featherfall is a great spell to prepare, it's one of maybe ten in your daily list and it's situationally very helpful. In exalted it would never be worth the 8xp for the sparse times that you'd use it (this is ignoring the fact that most exalts can survive terminal velocity falls)
    The weird thing is that the mechanics of AD&D mages partially forces the player to think in a tactical mindset since unlike charms the spells have to be selected ahead of time.

    In Exalted the mechanics tend to allow for a more frenetic pace and mind set. But at the same time there is still the possibility for tactical play styles, the players just have to be more creative about it.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Thoth View Post

    If we are talking AD&D style mages here, throwing Fireballs left and right is only a fraction of the play styles available. Illusionists, Necromancers, Abjurers, Conjurers, etc. are all valid builds and play styles. But if you think about it, Mages are supposed to be highly educated individuals who favor a cerebral approach to things, casting fire balls is the mage equivalent to "I bash it with my axe".
    I m not sure if exalted will ever quite get to the level of feeling like a wizard in the way of DnD. In DnD it's pretty easy to get a large spell book and feel like the master of conjuration as well as the standard wizard trappings of prestidigitation and unseen servant and such. Exalted spells being available for use and costing the same xp as charms just doesn't allow for that. In DnD featherfall is a great spell to prepare, it's one of maybe ten in your daily list and it's situationally very helpful. In exalted it would never be worth the 8xp for the sparse times that you'd use it (this is ignoring the fact that most exalts can survive terminal velocity falls)

    Leave a comment:

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