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Teach me how to Homebrew! Martial Arts and Crafts

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  • Teach me how to Homebrew! Martial Arts and Crafts

    I want to dip my hands into the world of Crunch. I would love if anyone could give me pointers, write a guide, or at least show me the basics, as I'm literally clueless. I'd like to start with making a Martial Arts style (I wrote up three for the "make a martial art thread").

    Yu-Shan or Malfeas, Let's Rock!


    ..."But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me"

    Message me for Japanese translations.

  • #2
    No matter the system, these are some good principles to keep in mind:

    -Put yourself in the shoes of a player or GM using your work. Try to make your work as fun as possible for player-you and GM-you.

    -Keep an eye on scaling. For every variable your Charms look at, consider the effects of a maximum and minimum value. If your flurry Charm's effects are based on the user's number of arms, think about whether it's still balanced for a Lunar who makes a serious effort to maximize arm count.

    -Try to make it so that the most fun thing you can do with your Martial Arts style (or whatever) is also the most powerful.

    -Write clearly. This is obvious, but also very important and easy to screw up.

    -Get familiar with the tools the game system uses for things. Want to write some Charms for jumping around? Read the movement rules carefully. Become intimate with them. Find hooks that you can hang Charms on. Don't reinvent the wheel. Again, obvious, but important.

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    • #3
      Couple of quick thoughts:
      • MA styles seem quite heavily themed this edition. So Snake is all about being faster than your opponent and has a number of abilities that key off of that. If you can pick a theme then the style will feel more coherent, plus it will give inherent strengths/weaknesses.
      • Most (~2/3) of charms should have the Terrestrial or Mastery keywords. Terrestrial levels seem to be restrictive of taking more than one action per turn (reflexive clash etc) so adding a willpower cost/reset condition onto those if there isn't already one seems fairly standard.
      • Your charms probably shouldn't be able to do something better than a Solar combat ability at the same Ability/Essence.
      • In general just adding dice/successes is quite boring. Some charms by necessity need to do this, but try to find some interesting alternatives to just adding (Ability) dice to a withering damage roll.
      • Forms now get a reflexive activation, but they seem to be based around what you should be trying to do with the style anyway. On the other hand, there needs to be some limitation on their activation. To my mind something like: "Make a withering attack against a non-trivial opponent." wouldn't be appropriate for such a condition.
      • Have fun! If you are slogging through a MA charmset just to do it maybe you should find something else to do for a bit. This is meant to be your free time so you should enjoy what you're doing with it.


      My attempt at a Sidereal 3e Homebrew

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      • #4
        Writing Martial Arts Charms is fun! Especially with the great wuxia themes to explore.

        However, Martial Arts Charms are probably the hardest Charms in Exalted to write in a way that is system-optimal. Because every Exalt type and several non-Exalt Essence wielding beings could potentially learn your Charm and combine them with native Charms you have roughly 10X as many ways to break something mechanically than you would if you were writing a native Charm. Also 10X as many ways to make something just uninteresting - an example from 2e "Why would I take these virtue style perfect defenses if I'm a Solar with better ones at lower Essence?" - there are fluff answers to that question but in Crunch world you should try to stay internally consistent and give a Crunch reason to do something as well. Writing Martial Arts Charms you have levers to pull to address these problems in the form of Terrestrial and Mastery keywords, but this means you're really writing 3 different Charm cascades at different power levels that have lots of overlap. It's not the easiest thing to start out with.

        My advice would be to write some Solar Charms because I assume you're writing 3e homebrew and we have the best reference library for those Charms. If those work out, then branch out to the Martial Arts.


        The Lunar Castebooks fan project - Complete! (Changing, Full, No, and Casteless)

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        • #5
          When you start writing a martial art, figure out what its unique strategy and M.O. for winning a fight is. Snake style is about being swift and deadly, and so pushes you to build up the highest Initiative possible. Tiger style wants you to chase down your enemies and savagely brutalize them. White Reaper is strongest when you're outnumbered. Dreaming Pearl Courtesan is fairly weak, unless you're having a pleasant cup of tea/a pleasant night with your intended victim, in which case it becomes absolutely brutal. This strategy will basically give you a scaffold for building the style's Charms and the synergies between them.

          The Essence 1, pre-form Charms of a style tend to be fairly robust, workhorse-like techniques that don't require a lot of tactical set-up to use, but that are at their best when pursuing the style's strategy. In general, the goal is for a character who's learned all the Essence 1 Charms to actually feel like a Snake stylist, or a Tiger stylist, or whatever, without needing to go Supernal Martial Arts and pick up all the high Essence Charms. These also tend to have the Mastery keyword to bring them up closer to the power level of Solar Charms, for similar reasons.

          Form Charms are the strategic centerpiece of your style. They provide useful bonuses on their own, but their real power tends to be the synergy they have with other Charms of the style. Ebon Shadow Form, for example, lets you drain Initiative from opponents when you go into stealth and rewards you for landing sneak attacks. If a style has a mechanical "gimmick," like Crane style's reliance on counterattacks or Single Point's multiple attacks, they tend to live in the form. I try to keep them at Essence 1, to solidify the feeling of being an X stylist, but more powerful ones sometimes go up to Essence 2.

          After the form, you find effects that are more powerful, but that require you to play to the style's strategy. While they tend to be standalone effects, they should have strong synergies with the pre-form charms and with each other, and you need to take the synergistic effect into account when balancing them.They branch out of the form—Tiger, for example, has an offensive cascade, a grappling-focused cascade, and a stealth-focused cascade. The divisions don't have to be that cut-and-dry mechanical—I'd just go with a progression that feels like it makes sense to you. They eventually converge in a capstone effect, usually at Essence 3, that is the most powerful signature move of the style.

          Some common types of capstone Charms are finishing moves that let you pay off the tactical set-up you've done throughout the fight with a deadly blow (Essence Venom Strike, Heart-Ripping Claw, Blinding Nova Flare) or powerful upgrades to the style's form (Angry Predator Frenzy, Snow Follows Winter, Invoking the Chimera's Coils), but feel free to go nuts creatively and find something cool that fits your style. These very often have both the Terrestrial and Mastery keywords.

          The Mastery keyword, in general, is good for spicing up Charms that look pretty balanced on their own, but that might pale a little in comparison to the power a Solar normally gets out of her Charms.

          The Terrestrial keyword is used to weaken or restrict effects that are potentially overpowered in the hands of the Dragon-Blooded, compared to their native Charms. Obviously, that's kinda hard to assess without their hardback being out yet. As a rule of thumb, things like extra attacks, area of effect attacks, uncapped or very high decisive damage boosts, anything that lets you do decisive damage without using your own Initiative, etc., are the kind of things that should send up red flags.

          Once you've written a style, or if you get stuck, throw together a character with the style's Charms and playtest them against a couple of quick character enemies from the book. It's a good way to get a feel for how it all actually comes together, and is vital for catching unbalanced stuff.


          Developer for Exalted

          Want to write for Exalted? Look at the freelancer submission guidelines.

          Robert Vance's Patreon

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Robert Vance View Post
            All the best stuff
            TDO, is it too late to get that post as a sidebar in the MA section of the core? Maybe just the PDF? Because that was super helpful.

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            • #7
              I have a feeling guidelines in this vein will be found in arms of the chosen, exigents and any other books dedicated to making mechanics from scratch in the framework of 3e. We may have just gotten a spiritual preview of the kind of essays those books will have on evocation and exigent charm design.


              Exalted: Princes of the Universe
              A Third Edition Exalted Podcast
              http://atrusilk.podbean.com/

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Blackwell View Post
                TDO, is it too late to get that post as a sidebar in the MA section of the core? Maybe just the PDF? Because that was super helpful.
                I would be okay with this appearing in a storyteller's guide. Like if they make something that is similar to the DM's handbook for D&D, but more about making your own content and keeping it balanced, and just include a bunch of stuff like this about design philosophy. Even if it's light on numbers, it'd be ridiculously helpful.


                Stuff I've made:
                Ex3 Combat Flowchart > https://www.dropbox.com/s/wnh21nkq07...d%20Combat.png
                Ex3 Battlegroup Cheatsheet > https://www.dropbox.com/s/byc19z0coe...roups.png?dl=0

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Blackwell View Post
                  TDO, is it too late to get that post as a sidebar in the MA section of the core? Maybe just the PDF? Because that was super helpful.
                  Think of it as me practicing my advice-giving skills so they'll be as good as possible when we get to Exigents.


                  Developer for Exalted

                  Want to write for Exalted? Look at the freelancer submission guidelines.

                  Robert Vance's Patreon

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Robert Vance View Post
                    Think of it as me practicing my advice-giving skills so they'll be as good as possible when we get to Exigents.
                    Keep practicing! Teach us to design Sorcerous Initiations!


                    I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                    I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post
                      I want to dip my hands into the world of Crunch. I would love if anyone could give me pointers, write a guide, or at least show me the basics, as I'm literally clueless.
                      A lot of people have already given great advice as to how to handle Exalted and Martial Arts in particular, so I'll give some advice from the general game-designer viewpoint.

                      Write a version that you think will probably work. Then write another one that will probably also work. Then write another. Don't be afraid to have one of these be a straight rip-off of existing crunch.

                      Playtest.

                      Pick your favorite version. Rewrite for clarity and intent.

                      Do some spreadsheeting (or "white-room testing" as it's often known around here). Create simple scenarios with simple characters and find out how they'll play out. Min-max.

                      Have someone else playtest it without you there.

                      If something isn't working, it isn't worth keeping, no matter how cool it might be. Remove it. If you love the name, use it for something else. If you found the perfect word but it ruins your sentence, that word needs to go.

                      Playtest.

                      Playtest, playtest, playtest.


                      Current project: Stranger Creations, unofficial settings and NPCs for Exalted.

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                      • #12
                        Actually, since this is here... If one is making a martial art that has a heavy focus on Clashing (and Sorcery)? I've got charms that provide dice bonuses to Clashes, but I'm unsure about actual novel mechanics.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Free Man View Post
                          Actually, since this is here... If one is making a martial art that has a heavy focus on Clashing (and Sorcery)? I've got charms that provide dice bonuses to Clashes, but I'm unsure about actual novel mechanics.
                          If you want to tie in sorcery, how about...
                          • Drawing sorcerous motes from clashes (up to a certain cap)?
                          • Spending sorcerous motes to empower your damage on a clash?
                          • Spending sorcerous motes to shift your initiative temporarily so that clashes become easier to force?
                          • Drawing a point of willpower when you crash someone that you can only use to cast a spell during this fight?


                          Current project: Stranger Creations, unofficial settings and NPCs for Exalted.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Robert Vance View Post
                            Advice.
                            Tangential question, do you feel that your law studies help you approach writing your own rules? I get the idea that it'd help in understanding how to structure comprehensible rules and consider the role of the ST in applying them?


                            Dex Davican wrote: I can say without exaggeration or dishonesty that I am the most creative man ever to have lived

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Colin_Fredericks View Post
                              Drawing sorcerous motes from clashes (up to a certain cap)?
                              That's something I can add to the form charm actually. Before, it would just increase the amount of sorcerous motes from a particular situation, but this makes more sense when you consider the tactics of the style.
                              Spending sorcerous motes to empower your damage on a clash?
                              I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but yeah, that's great.
                              Spending sorcerous motes to shift your initiative temporarily so that clashes become easier to force?
                              Hm... I have a charm that increases the benefits of Delaying your actions (counting as an Aim action, and converting the 2 initiative lost into sorcerous motes). Is that pretty much that same? Or is that something completely different?
                              Drawing a point of willpower when you crash someone that you can only use to cast a spell during this fight?
                              Sorcerous Willpower? Interesting...

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