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Rote action as Kith blessing

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  • Rote action as Kith blessing

    I feel like the Rote action quality on specific rolls would suit best as Kith blessing instead of the "achieving three successes counts as an exceptional success" quality (by the way, can we please give it a shorter name? I'll call it Exceptional 3).

    I think Exceptional 3 is an interesting rule, certainly fun and more original than the usual dice tricks. I also realize that it may have been a deliberate choice from the devs: by increasing the chance of obtaining exceptional success, in some way it represents the power of changelings over Fate and luck, and a capability of performing extraordinary, wondrous things.
    While it suits well with the general themes of Changeling, I don't think it suits well as Kith blessing.

    The problem I have with Exceptional 3 is that it doesn't help you in any way to achieve one or more successes. If your dice pool is quite small, and you don't have many chances of getting more than one success, then it doesn't really help you much. The way I see it, Kiths should instead help achieve a minimum number of successes, and not rely on a already big dice pool.

    A Kith is more than just a mystical connection to a theme. Your Mien is actually different. A Beast with a "Swimmerskin" or "Waterborn" Kith will have actual gills and fins; an Elemental will be partially made of water. To me, it means that they should be able to perform the bare minimum of swimming and not drowning even if they've never swam before. For example, a Keeper could take a mortal who has never been in water before, and throw him in his ocean domain. Arcadian magic makes it so that his body will adapt and change in order to survive. Even if he has 0 dots in the Athletics Skill, having gills or water-lungs should make it almost effortless to not drown.

    So, I think replacing the Exceptional 3 rule with Rote quality (keeping anything else as is) could be a good way to represent this.
    My question is: would that be balanced? Would Rote quality be more or less powerful than Exceptional 3? Would that matter?

  • #2
    The Rote quality is generally considered one of the strongest, if not the strongest, dice trick in the Chronicles of Darkness; it even beats out Advanced Actions, since you know your second roll can't be worse than your first. Whether or not that makes it a good fit for replacing standard Kith blessings is a different question.

    If you're changing all blessings across the board from Exceptional 3 to Rote, and you're playing a strictly Changeling game, then there probably won't be any balance issues. Something wonky might happen with the Artist Kith (and any other Kiths meant to serve a "skilled" role), since at high enough Wyrd the changeling's player is just going to be getting boatloads of successes (on specific Crafts or Expression rolls, mind, so its utility is narrow), which might be something to watch out for.

    I think your Swimmerskin example doesn't quite fit what you seem to be going for: In my mind, the power of not drowning is more suited for the Kith's trickery, with the changeling spending Glamour to breathe water (or just being able to breathe water naturally, depending on the setting and your personal preference).

    I don't know whether or not this was intentional, but the way Kith blessings are currently designed, changelings (and their players) are incentivized to lean into particular areas of expertise, especially when it comes to Hedgespinning and Dreamweaving (using the blessing in order to bank successes for later). If the blessing instead grants the Rote quality, the player of a Helldiver (for example) might feel less of a need to invest starting Skill dots into Larceny, since they have a likely chance of succeeding on that roll while in the Hedge even with a below-average dicepool.

    I might come back and add more to this once I'm less hopped up on coffee. The long and short of it is: I don't think anything breaks necessarily if you change every Kith blessing to Rote quality, since each is focused on a relatively narrow field, but you might accidentally invite some twinkish min-maxing (if that's a thing people are still concerned about these days).

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    • #3
      An important part of the equation is that the Exceptional Success 3 is primarily useful for Hedgeshaping and Oneriomancy where the upper tiers are are accessed through getting a exceptional success, making your Kith the critical tool for dealing with those. Yes, Rote just as often gets an exceptional success, but it also jacks the changelings a little out of their thematic realm.


      Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
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      Feminine pronouns, please.

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      • #4
        Also, much like the Predatory Aura Conditions from Vampire facilitate, lowered exceptional threshold makes it easier for you to take Conditions like Inspired and the like.


        Resident Lore-Hound
        Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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        • #5
          I don't think I've ever really seen a problem with this. Mostly due to a simple factor:

          Players pick Kiths that boost a Skill they were already going to be good at.

          In my last CtL 2e game, at start, the PCs ranged from 6-9 dice when Exceptional 3 would apply depending on Attribute and Specialties (and then there's WP and modifiers to consider)... and we all started with humans and played through (quickly) our Durance and escape without knowing exactly what splats we'd get. Exceptional 3 came up a lot very naturally.

          So the idea that you're not going to have a lot of dice to have 3 successes come up enough seems off. There's no way for that to really happen by accident. While Rote Action is objectively a better thing to have, that doesn't make it necessary to increase the bonus to that. I think the biggest issue is something the game can't really force via rules: making sure your Kith bonus actually comes up enough to feel relevant.

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          • #6
            It could be an interesting way to "rank up" the Kith Blessing at Higher Wyrd if you want to give more incentives for a pretty punishing power stat. Just a thought


            A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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            • #7
              Entitlements seem like incentive enough for Wyrd.

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              • #8
                Kith Evolution at high Wyrd was a 1e thing, separate from Entitlements, that had decent merit to it. The only problem was that it was at such high Wyrd, most games never used it (IIRC it started at Wyrd 6 or 7).

                While I'd be curious to look at it for 2e, the Rote Action bonus is far too easily accessed well before you'd get that high. Just take Professional Training 5 and have your Kith Skill be one of your Asset Skills. You're actually way more competent than swapping Exceptional 3 to Rote Action as Wyrd 7.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                  Kith Evolution at high Wyrd was a 1e thing, separate from Entitlements, that had decent merit to it. The only problem was that it was at such high Wyrd, most games never used it (IIRC it started at Wyrd 6 or 7).
                  Wyrd 7-10, which involved picking up your first major frailty and was prohibitively expensive in 1e's experience cost structure (new dots x 8 meant just getting from 6 to 7 took 56 experience points in a system where that alone would take a little over eleven sessions on a hot streak, never mind raising your other traits to deal with other things in that weight class).


                  Resident Lore-Hound
                  Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                    Kith Evolution at high Wyrd was a 1e thing, separate from Entitlements, that had decent merit to it. The only problem was that it was at such high Wyrd, most games never used it (IIRC it started at Wyrd 6 or 7).

                    While I'd be curious to look at it for 2e, the Rote Action bonus is far too easily accessed well before you'd get that high. Just take Professional Training 5 and have your Kith Skill be one of your Asset Skills. You're actually way more competent than swapping Exceptional 3 to Rote Action as Wyrd 7.
                    That's even more true considering that Kith blessings specify a particular context or action to apply Exceptional 3, while Professional Training have no restrictions that I am aware of. Only drawback I would think of PT is it would require some kind of in-game maintenance or responsability (you need to show up to work sometimes, right?). At least that's what I would rule out as ST.

                    By the way, thanks everyone for the answers. Lots of good points I didn't consider.
                    I guess that Exceptional 3 makes sense from a mechanical point of view. I'm still not fully convinced from more of a in-game perspective, but... yeah, I guess it makes sense that the True Fae would only take those mortals who would have a chance of surviving their realms, or those who already possess the talents they are looking for. And only the changelings who survived and escaped Arcadia are actually seen in game as PCs or NPCs. So that's why you get Exceptional 3 on a skill you already are good at.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by moonwhisper View Post
                      ...while Professional Training have no restrictions that I am aware of.
                      Not explicitly. Whether or not you can apply it to every context (such as rolls to activate powers), can be a very contentious rules interpretation debate, as implicitly the Merit is about high levels of mundane training in a specific occupation and shouldn't necessarily apply to every use of a given Skill (no amount of being a baseball player is going to make you better at aiming fireballs at people); but the games use mundane aptitude in activation by calling on Skills in the first place (and your mage that opts for an aimed thrown spell could shape it like a ball to throw).

                      Only drawback I would think of PT is it would require some kind of in-game maintenance or responsability (you need to show up to work sometimes, right?). At least that's what I would rule out as ST.
                      Theoretically all Attributes and Skills require some kind of maintenance. Professional Training doesn't actually require you to be employed (getting fired doesn't make your specialized learning poof, or people that know you through your work to inherently stop talking to you), or that you continue practice within the sphere of the profession. Raising the Merit to 5 in the first place would imply such active efforts, but once you hit that, it's easy to justify keeping it even as a character moves on to other things in life.

                      I guess that Exceptional 3 makes sense from a mechanical point of view. I'm still not fully convinced from more of a in-game perspective...
                      I think it's hard to address this because these mechanics don't inherently correspond to in-game things. A character doesn't know they have 8-again, Rote Action, Exceptional 3, etc. A character that gets an Exceptional Success because of Exceptional 3, or having Rote Action and getting 5 successes due to it doesn't actually have a way of recognizing the difference.

                      But to make a somewhat in-game pitch: the Wyrd is fickle. Exceptional 3 flavors the Lost towards extremes of failure or grand success, where Rote Action pushes characters towards consistently better performance across the board. Thus Exceptional 3 better reflects the in-game sense of Wyrd originated power being potent but unreliable as its logic doesn't line up to human expectations.

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                      • #12
                        Almost uniquely among dice tricks, Rote Action actually does correspond to in-setting information. It's what you get when you do something by the book, either by doing it by rote (knowing what you do by heart, as represented through Professional Training), or having detailed instructions (such as a manual, or a Grimoire for spellcasting in Mage). That's why it's called Rote Action.
                        X-Again, on the other hand, are purely generic dice tricks.

                        Personally I don:t think Rote Action as a Kith blessing is a good idea. Rote Action represents knowledge, while a Kith blessing is a supernatural talent not necessarily based on knowledge. Lowered ES threshold is good enough, imo, as it turns the roll into a beat machine for the character.
                        The only problem I have with Kith blessings is that they're often flavourful and fitting for the character, but not necessarily applicable during play because they're tied to actions that aren't relevant to what the PCs do during a session. If you want to give a bump to Kith blessings, try making them more wildly applicable at higher Wyrd ratings.
                        Or just go with 9-Again. It's the generic bonus dice trick and it fits better than Rote Action.


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