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In Defense of "Bloat" - Praise for the Developers

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  • In Defense of "Bloat" - Praise for the Developers

    A lot of people have expressed unhappiness at the "bloat" of 3e; the "dice tricks" and the like, the fact that trees like Dodge, Awareness, Stealth, and Performance are no longer four or five charms long, that Solars have a lot more charms in general and a lot of them have relatively minor-seeming effects.

    Speaking as someone who preferred non-Solars in 2e, I perceive a major value to this that is not being recognized; it creates a gap. In 2e, Solar excellence was described through two functions: Having the Excellency, and having nearly inviolate charms that had relatively baseline effects, that noone else was allowed to get close to. This resulted in such aberrations as the infamous DB Performance charm to ignore a penalty that didn't exist; a desperation to create charms that allowed Solars to maintain supremacy, resulting in charms that ranged from boring and pale copies to pitifully useless.

    The expansion of Solar charms upwards and outwards does make their power less concentrated, this is true. But I think most people who experienced 2e will recognize this as a blessing in disguise. Firstly, the onerous cost of purchasing excellencies is gone, allowing extra charms to be purchased elsewhere. Secondly, this makes it easier to distinguish someone who is totally focused on stealth from a dabbler. And thirdly - not obvious to Solar-primary players, I believe - this allows for more room beneath them.

    By expanding the number of dice-augmenting abilities available to Solars, and restricting them from the others, disparity can be created without necessarily causing actual inadequacy. The core systems of 3e are better balanced to permit engaging with the mechanics with Mortal capabilities, compared to 2e, which means any abilities above mortals are actually "good" as opposed to "meager, compared to Solars".

    Furthermore, and this is hypothesis: I think I've recognized a clever plan of the developers. By making "Reroll 1s on opposed roll" charm tech near-ubiquitous for Solars and scarce for everyone else, they create a definite divide when in direct conflict that less significantly hinders the others in dealings with Solars, but not with other entities. For example, when a Solar faces off with a Bronze Faction assassin, the Assassin cannot derive any benefit from the Solar's 1s [as they are all rerolled], while the Solar can still derive benefits from the Sidereal's. However, when facing off against Ligier, who also lacks "reroll 1s" charm techniques, neither is at an exceptional disadvantage.

    The Craft tree is gigantic so that others can have actual crafting charms [as opposed to 2e Lunars' "I can turn a stone into a sword for a scene and that's about it"], letting them actually participate in some 'crafting of wonders' concepts, while still allowing Solars to be the potential absolute kings of crafting, as long as you don't make equal charms for everyone else.

    Overall, I'm very pleased with what I'm seeing of 3e, and this is as someone who absolutely hated 2e's implementation of Solar supremacy.

    "Why should I be happy with non-Solars being better?", some may ask? Well, what's a more exciting battle, fighting someone who's a step or two below you, or beating up a geriatric paraplegic who's currently suffering from a seizure? More capable non-Solars allows Solars to feel awesome by dint of being amazing both in their own right and by having worthy rivals.
    Last edited by Meianno Yuurei; 05-24-2016, 09:21 PM.

  • #2
    I 100% agree, it definitely seems like the charmset is written to be future proofed

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    • #3
      I half agree. The roll-boosters really do serve a useful purpose. And I think you're right about what that purpose is.

      But there's still plenty of bloat in there. And this bit...

      Originally posted by Meianno Yuurei View Post
      Furthermore, and this is hypothesis: I think I've recognized a clever plan of the developers. By making "Reroll 1s on opposed roll" charm tech near-ubiquitous for Solars and scarce for everyone else, they create a definite divide when in direct conflict that less significantly hinders the others in dealings with Solars, but not with other entities. For example, when a Solar faces off with a Bronze Faction assassin, the Assassin cannot derive any benefit from the Solar's 1s [as they are all rerolled], while the Solar can still derive benefits from the Sidereal's. However, when facing off against Ligier, who also lacks "reroll 1s" charm techniques, neither is at an exceptional disadvantage.
      Is just not true. The Solar fighting the Sidereal doesn't actually get to reroll 1s unless he's using Melee. Brawl, Thrown, Archery...they've got no 1-eliminators. (Dunno about MA off-hand.)

      Solars have 1-eliminators on some of their abilities, but they're far from ubiquitous. The plan you're describing here wouldn't work with the Charmset we have.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sanctaphrax View Post



        Is just not true. The Solar fighting the Sidereal doesn't actually get to reroll 1s unless he's using Melee. Brawl, Thrown, Archery...they've got no 1-eliminators. (Dunno about MA off-hand.)

        Solars have 1-eliminators on some of their abilities, but they're far from ubiquitous. The plan you're describing here wouldn't work with the Charmset we have.
        He is wrong that reroll 1s is ubiquitous, but that serves to make melee distinct from the other three main abilities. A Brawler can make onslaught stick, casually ignore huge amounts of soak, or have extremely mote efficient grappling accuracy boosters - the other two main combat abilities have their own tricks to be more than one-dimensional as well.

        What I do agree with him about is that nearly all the "bloat" charms are actually very useful and worth buying once you gain some level of system mastery. There are exceptions to this - Agile Dragonfly Blade, for example, is a bad charm and I would throw it into the bloat category.

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        • #5
          Ah, true. Still, the idea remains, that Solars have at least some access to them. Ah, well.

          I'm okay with the bloat because it's also preferable to the "Welp I spent 40xp "dabbling" in Stealth favored and now I am a match for the Night for whom Stealth is their Defining Feature until Glories: Sun comes out." of 2e.

          Edit: "She". And ADB is an optional charm with nothing building off of it, for someone who wants OWTB to apply more often. It's eminently skippable if you don't want it, but I actually quite like it.
          Last edited by Meianno Yuurei; 05-24-2016, 10:36 PM.

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          • #6
            As examples of charms that I've seen many people call 'speed-bumps' and 'bloat,' but are actually very strong are Force Stealing Feint and Searing Quicksilver Flight. On the surface, these charms seem underwhelming for an inexperienced player who just wants the flashy Seven Shadows Evasion; I mean, one gives you one initiative and one removes one initiative from an enemy.

            Once you do understand the system, these charms are actually as a whole better than Seven Shadows Evasion. Each time you dodge a hit, there is a 2i initiative shift in your favor for free, for a defensive ability that excels with higher initiative. This is an enormously powerful passive effect and well worth 16xp.

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            • #7
              I still think the dice tricks are dull and a waste of space (and more importantly, prerequisites: clearly others like them, which is fine, so I'd like to just not take them. But occasionally they are prereqs for stuff I want). However, I've no problem with the huge charm-list in principle. And, if you take out the dice tricks, the trees are still much bigger than the 2e non-combat trees, many of which were way, way too short (especially Night caste trees). This led to people rapidly getting everything, which is rather dull, and two characters who both had the same tree having the same 5-6 charms (because that's all the charms there are). Not to mention power issues. Overall, definitely an improvement. I wish I didn't have to sometimes take a charm to get double 9s (I've got a fat dice pool and an excellency, I really don't need any more), but I'd still rather have this charmset than the previous tiny one (a tiny one full of incredibly powerful charms that just made you do loads of stuff perfectly, removing the risk and therefore fun).


              "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Meianno Yuurei View Post

                Edit: "She". And ADB is an optional charm with nothing building off of it, for someone who wants OWTB to apply more often. It's eminently skippable if you don't want it, but I actually quite like it.
                ADB is a once per scene charm for a weak effect. Its a combination of limited use with no reset condition, a niche effect that modifies another charm, AND that modification itself is not very strong.

                Its bad.

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                • #9
                  Force-Stealing Feint and Searing Quicksilver Flight are excellent, I agree.

                  Originally posted by Melanno Yuurei
                  I'm okay with the bloat because it's also preferable to the "Welp I spent 40xp "dabbling" in Stealth favored and now I am a match for the Night for whom Stealth is their Defining Feature until Glories: Sun comes out." of 2e.
                  Very much this. Not much of an issue in a 0xp game, but the Lunar I just retired had about 800xp, that's the level of most of the characters. Actually, the guy who was supposed to be an ultimate master of Ebon Shadow style, is really not that great at combat compared to the other PCs, because that's what, 9 charms, something like that? Not much for 800xp characters in a 2nd ed game.


                  "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by putty View Post
                    As examples of charms that I've seen many people call 'speed-bumps' and 'bloat,' but are actually very strong are Force Stealing Feint and Searing Quicksilver Flight. On the surface, these charms seem underwhelming for an inexperienced player who just wants the flashy Seven Shadows Evasion; I mean, one gives you one initiative and one removes one initiative from an enemy.

                    Once you do understand the system, these charms are actually as a whole better than Seven Shadows Evasion. Each time you dodge a hit, there is a 2i initiative shift in your favor for free, for a defensive ability that excels with higher initiative. This is an enormously powerful passive effect and well worth 16xp.

                    There is a difference between "boring", "over-complicated" and "weak".


                    I'm sure they're very useful, but it's all just messing around with the already complex combat system, with no real inherent flavour; they're gadgets hung off mechanics.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SuperG View Post
                      There is a difference between "boring", "over-complicated" and "weak".


                      I'm sure they're very useful, but it's all just messing around with the already complex combat system, with no real inherent flavour; they're gadgets hung off mechanics.
                      This is me. I'm sure all those charms are very strong and useful, but goddamn are they boring and uninteresting as hell, and make the book a slog to read through.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SuperG View Post


                        There is a difference between "boring", "over-complicated" and "weak".


                        I'm sure they're very useful, but it's all just messing around with the already complex combat system, with no real inherent flavour; they're gadgets hung off mechanics.

                        I disagree. They get flavor from their function.

                        Initiative is an abstraction of your combat momentum/advantage, with charms like Force Stealing Feint, your evasive leaps and ducks cause your opponent's blows to fall further and further from the mark. You're building the story of the fight through the mechanics, I find them very evocative.

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                        • #13
                          Hmmmm, yeah im on the dfferent strokes side. I feel the same as the OP but i get why someone wouldnt.

                          I like charms to feel like a lego set, combos are a strong sense of flavour for me and my players. You could probably roll all the tricks into a single ability charm like the QC charms but i personally feel that would detract from the game at the same time as making it easier to cope with the system.

                          It would interest me to see some QC style Solar charms, though i dont know if anyone else would get any value out of it.


                          My Homebrew: Architect of the Regal Puppet Style (WIP) || Monkey Style (obsolete) || Radiant Halo of Incanescent Might || Pale Driver, Ruination of the Edifice of Tyranny || Sublime Percussion, Just a Whole lot of Fun || Idris, The Graceful Heart of Purpose

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                          • #14
                            One of the explicit purposes of the Solar Charm set is to give you ideas for what other Solar Charms look like. To pretend away the entire unpublished Charm set because it isn't there is a risky proposition imo.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by John Mørke View Post
                              One of the explicit purposes of the Solar Charm set is to give you ideas for what other Solar Charms look like. To pretend away the entire unpublished Charm set because it isn't there is a risky proposition imo.
                              Sorry to say, but until the Backer Charms comes out, this is what we've got to work with and our only sample size. I mean, sure, it'll be alright when Supplement X comes out and then we get a wider look at the Solar Charms, but until then... All we have to work with are the Core Charms, and maybe things that homebrewers FAR more talented than your average Exalted player may have whipped up.


                              Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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