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Solving the Narraitivst gamers Exalted paradox

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  • Solving the Narraitivst gamers Exalted paradox

    A lot of people like to describe themselves as Narrativist gamers, and Exalted provides a great opportunity for melodrama, moral dilemmas, social conflict and epic story arcs that make for interesting stories, BUT the game itself has always been incredibly crunchy in its mechanics, and because of the complex interaction of multiple charms, different approaches to combat, etc, Exalted also rewards very mechanics driven, strategic play.

    So for those who tend to favour a narrative-heavy style of play, how to you integrate or limit the mechanics of a game like Exalted without losing the fun and flavour that the charms and other mechanics bring to the game?


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  • #2
    Maybe take a page out of the Chronicles of Darkness and provide an additional +2 Solar EXP based upon suffering difficulties or setbacks? Failing that, you can reward temporary Willpower for suffering from conditional complications a la the Conditions system.


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    • #3
      Stunts...seriously, it's all about stunts. Stunts give such high bonuses and on top of it, the system in 3e reward someone so much to play their character. On top of it...the thing I always found funny especially if you do individual instead of global xp at your table:

      -Someone who is having a hard time in battle actually do get more xp on top of it. So the person who can narrate his actions/abilities beautifully not only get dice bonuses, regain motes, can even regain willpower in great circumstances and will get more xp.

      Of course, it's not impossible to have someone who builds a great character mechanically and can narrate his character beautifully but usually these kinds of players are few and far in between. But even if that were the case...he would still get xp at a lower rate on individuals xp, as not many stuffs actually do challenge him.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by CapitanTypo View Post
        So for those who tend to favour a narrative-heavy style of play, how to you integrate or limit the mechanics of a game like Exalted without losing the fun and flavour that the charms and other mechanics bring to the game?
        Well, you can concentrate on epic narratives and use Charm for their cool descriptions ;-) For example, at our table we never really used social combat rules and pretty much just rolled dices with bonuses/penalties against some difficulty after long scenes of in character discussions/speeches. It makes some Charms less useful and some of them more powerful, but nothing did really break (it was 2nd Edition).
        Normal combat was more problematic, but I still did cut it significantly and steamrolled it. However, as far as I know, 3rd Edition combat seems to be much faster.

        Originally posted by Eltacolibre View Post
        Of course, it's not impossible to have someone who builds a great character mechanically and can narrate his character beautifully but usually these kinds of players are few and far in between. But even if that were the case...he would still get xp at a lower rate on individuals xp, as not many stuffs actually do challenge him.
        I'm sorry to say that... but this is most toxic idea for RPG I have read in very long time. You really consider punishing someone who makes viable mechanically character a good and sensible idea?
        Last edited by Daerian; 05-31-2016, 09:05 AM.


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        • #5
          Now, I'm a bit more of a simulationistic ST and player than Narrativistic, but...

          My biggest gripe about the stunt system is the examples, as they have the stunting player describing the full action before the roll. That means the roll can contradict the person, which can make an uncomfortable stumble in the narrative.

          So by changing it to:
          1. Give a description of the action up to the actual challenge
          2. Describe what the character will attempt
          3. Get the stunt bonus from 1+2
          4. Roll the dice (as a ST, don't hesitate to replace this part with a quick ruling)
          5. Finish the description based on the actual result of the dice (if the stunt bonus worthy part is here, the ST might consider letting that dice carry over to the next action)

          As already hinted on at point 4. Never hesitate to skip dice-rolling, but also bean-counting. A meta system can be simple enough so it will go unnoticed as the players gets used to it, and add to the experience (the bidding war in the old James Bond RPG about the difficulty in a car chase is one of the few examples I can think of). But if the players have to focus on the mechanics, they will have a hard time to keep a good flow in the narrative.

          Also, this also goes with the old advice with "rulings" instead of "rules". Only check the books during a game if it is absolutely vital; or an experimental game, where it is understood it will be a lot of page flipping while learning the system.

          Then, something that I have started with myself (so far in other RPG's); if you can, do your ST'ing standing up. It will give you more energy, encourage yourself to use more body language, and the books will be further away.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Daerian View Post
            Well, you can concentrate on epic narratives and use Charm for their cool descriptions ;-) For example, at our table we never really used social combat rules and pretty much just rolled dices with bonuses/penalties against some difficulty after long scenes of in character discussions/speeches. It makes some Charms less useful and some of them more powerful, but nothing did really break (it was 2nd Edition).
            Normal combat was more problematic, but I still did cut it significantly and steamrolled it. However, as far as I know, 3rd Edition combat seems to be much faster.
            Narrativist guide to Exalted: If you don't like the rule, ignore it.

            I always give the rule a chance first, but if the crunch slows the story down, then I just ignore the mechanics and move forward.

            Personally, I don't think Exalted mechanics cause conflict with Narrative role players. Yes, it can be intimidating to learn, but that hasn't stopped role players from playing Pathfinder, Dungeon and Dragons, Gurps, etc. The conflict comes when you have an Exalted group of mixed gamers and role players. Then you are going to get gamers frustrated when the narrative ST ignores the rules or role players getting frustrated when the simulative ST spends two sessions on a naval battle. This divide really isn't a problem unique with Exalted. All games can have that problem.


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            • #7
              Exalted has a rather unique position in that it attempts narrative crunch - mechanics depicting not reality, but how stuff plays out in stories.

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              • #8
                Characters can affect the setting, but the mechanics can't. That's important. You have some hedge cases like Evocations and Alchemical charms where the line between the story and the mechanics blurs, but characters inside the narrative don't know how many dice they're rolling or how many motes they have. The mechanics are only there to resolve conflicts.


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                • #9
                  Understandably, players unwilling to engage with the mechanics of the game might find the play an unrewarding experience. Although the new edition of exalted does a great job rewarding personal contribution to the narrative, those reward structures feed into mechanical advantages and progress, that do not alleviate the player's need to understand and interact with the games mechanics.

                  Now, the advice i would like to impart to you is that, with guidance of a knowledgeable player and a smart inch by inch approach to introducing the mechanic, every group can enjoy exlated. Especially since the game does incentivise and reward narrative play, and the purely narrative nature of the intimacy system. Its an answer i believe, but its not rooted in your understanding of your game-mates, and amount of time and energy. for your group playing exalted as-written may be impossible, or even just not worth the hassle.

                  If you intend to use the world of exalted for narrative-only-play i would advise you to not attempt to modify the system - either use it all or abandon it altogether. There is a fate hack for exalted that might serve your purpose, and i always wanted to get around to constructing an apocalypse world hack. In my opinion, that that system is capable of capturing the feel, if not the minutiae, of the game.

                  I suggest you debate the options with your game group and come up with a solution that doesn't demand from any player effort they are unwilling to invest.
                  Last edited by 7 questions vanquish god; 05-31-2016, 10:20 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post


                    Personally, I don't think Exalted mechanics cause conflict with Narrative role players. Yes, it can be intimidating to learn, but that hasn't stopped role players from playing Pathfinder, Dungeon and Dragons, Gurps, etc. The conflict comes when you have an Exalted group of mixed gamers and role players. Then you are going to get gamers frustrated when the narrative ST ignores the rules or role players getting frustrated when the simulative ST spends two sessions on a naval battle. This divide really isn't a problem unique with Exalted. All games can have that problem.
                    I really agree with this. I also think that Ex3 is uniquely designed as a crunchy vehicle for narrative, in some ways like the Powered by the Apocalypse games where things start and end with the narrative and mechanics occupy a lot of the liminal space there. Ex3's mechanics are a scaffold for unfolding narratives, and so they lay in structures and expectations for how things should and will go. They underlie things to an extent that, in my experience, they often don't do much to poke their head out and rub against the narrative in undesired ways.

                    Generally, call for rolls when dramatically appropriate and things are in question, utilize the game's scaffolds for narrative, and ignore those rules that you find to make the first two difficult. I'm an intensely narrativist player and I find that this works for me well, and that the 3 ed rules play really, really nicely with my narrative mindset and I am usually crunch averse to some extent.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Monkipi View Post
                      Generally, call for rolls when dramatically appropriate and things are in question, utilize the game's scaffolds for narrative, and ignore those rules that you find to make the first two difficult. I'm an intensely narrativist player and I find that this works for me well, and that the 3 ed rules play really, really nicely with my narrative mindset and I am usually crunch averse to some extent.
                      The new 3rd Edition Social Mechanics are very squee worthy mechanically.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CapitanTypo View Post
                        A lot of people like to describe themselves as Narrativist gamers, and Exalted provides a great opportunity for melodrama, moral dilemmas, social conflict and epic story arcs that make for interesting stories, BUT the game itself has always been incredibly crunchy in its mechanics, and because of the complex interaction of multiple charms, different approaches to combat, etc, Exalted also rewards very mechanics driven, strategic play.

                        So for those who tend to favour a narrative-heavy style of play, how to you integrate or limit the mechanics of a game like Exalted without losing the fun and flavour that the charms and other mechanics bring to the game?
                        Ex3 proclaims loudly it's a narrative system, yet its beancounting, ultra-specific rules, and crunch-dependent conflict resolution mechanics frankly put the lie to that. As a guy who likes (good) crunch, I'm on board with those general concepts, but also know the pain of rules slowing down or stalling the game. Here are some ways I handle that.
                        1. 1. If the resolution of the event isn't in doubt, or is trivial, don't bring the mechanics into it. The Presence Supernal Courtesan simply gets information out of the bartender. Don't roll dice for the Dawn to crush the drunk soldier at the bar.
                          1. The corollary to this rule is you need to actually use the systems regularly for two reasons. First, everyone needs use the system to understand it (use it or lose it). Second, on some level, you need to validate the mechanical choices of your players. If the only purpose of a charm is to add/modify dice, that mechanic needs to be used for the person who bought it with their XP to feel it was a good purchase (most of the time).
                        2. Reserve the right to bypass sub-systems when they slow down the narrative. In my last session, I had a player who wanted to use the ambush rules. I as ST was not prepared to use those rules, and I was already juggling a couple other rulesets I wasn't up on. Rather than stop the combat for me to look it up and parse it, I just said "let's not do that right now." In other situations, I ad-hoc an Attribute+Something roll against a difficulty, or contested by the NPC, old WW style (notably more narrativist than its descendant). Similarly, if the Eclipse needed to make one difficult Sail roll to pull into a harbor, I'm not breaking out the Sail rules for that. I just don't need to.
                        3. Negotiate the narrative. Sometimes, I don't know where my PCs are going, or what they want. At that point, I ask "What do you want from this scene?" if what they want is essentially guaranteed to happen, or if it's trivial, then it's time to bypass mechanics, and maybe even bypass the scene. "Feel free to narrate for the group how you pummel the Wyld Mutant and intimidate his friends into letting you over the bridge without a toll."
                          1. The corollary here is that if the player's intent is directly important to the narrative, rather than bypassing mechanics entirely, you can offer an abridged version to get to the real action. For example, if the character is planning on so soundly defeating the Wyld Mutant leader in order to turn his gang against the undead over the next ridge (which is the real combat I had planned), I will make an offer like "How about a Strength+Brawl roll versus his Strength+Brawl to defeat him so soundly you cow his followers into line. We both know you are going to win, the question is will you win quickly and with enough gore to sway their loyalty, rather than insight their anger?"
                        4. Not everythin has to be on-camera. This may seem counter-intuitive for narrativist players, but hear me out. I have five players at my table. Their characters have disparate skill-sets (as they probably should), and different preferences on how to resolve situations, etc. Many STs don't let the party split to prevent spotlight issues, but my narrative can't sustain that. The Batman-with-a-Bow guy isn't going to stand around while the courtesan flirts with nobles to get info. He's going to climb up a wall and into the nobles' rooms and look for their diaries and correspondence. So if the courtesan has already gotten to trick info out of people a couple times that session, I might gloss over that entire scene. Either the player or I does a short narration on how badass the courtesan is at her job, and then I provide the information. Meanwhile, BwaB gets a chance to actually his skills on screen infiltrating the bedrooms, because that player hasn't validated his character's skills and narrative that session.
                          1. I always explicitly communicate this plan to the players, rather than assume. The players can't read your mind, and they might feel ignored, or that you're trying to prevent them from doing something that will harm the plot.
                        The great thing about narrativist players is they really just want to know what happens in the next chapter. As long as you keep the next chapter fun, engaging, and interesting, they are happy.

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                        • #13
                          Your definition of narrative renders the concept of a "narrative system" oxymoronic. Using the definition they actually meant it totally qualifies.

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                          • #14
                            Narrative system =/= rules light system.
                            3E is a rules-heavy(ish) system for structuring narrative -- specifically scenes, not arcs.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Fata-Ku View Post
                              Narrative system =/= rules light system.
                              3E is a rules-heavy(ish) system for structuring narrative -- specifically scenes, not arcs.
                              The OP didn't ask for a discussion on whether or not Ex3 is narrativist, so I'm not going to argue this. If you want to have that discussion, start another thread. I likely won't bother, as the entire notion of Ex3 being narrativist is farcical to me.

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