dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
A while ago, I wrote up a description of elves for a science-fantasy RPG setting I'm working on. I liked them, but they were based on elves as creatures of Faerie and didn't really have anything science-fiction about them at all, so now I went back and changed them a lot and I think they fit a lot better:

The elves have always been a people apart. Before the coming of the Mist, the elves were united by the Elven Court of the Elder Wood, the center of elven civilization. There the Queen ruled, advised by the oldest of her people and the spirits of the forest. Even the far-flung communities in other forests paid homage to the Elven Court, their bonds aided by the Emerald Roads that facilitated travel from elven community to community.

The Mist ended that forever. As it washed over the Elder Wood, the elves made a choice. Some of them gave themselves fully to the rule of the forest spirits, forsaking such technology as they used and following the dictates of their shamans. Others saw the changes that the Mist wrought in those creatures it touched and determined to learn from them. They studied the Changed, using all their magic to form bastions among the woods to hold the Mist at bay, and developed the art of fleshcrafting. The former are known as the wild elves, and the latter as the mist elves.

There are rumors of a third group, who fled underground to avoid the Mist rather than ascending to the heights. It is said that the Mist changed them as they fled, that they worship spirits of fungus and spider and unclean things, and that they have tunnels under the surviving lands and raid the surface for slaves. But theses are merely rumors.

Physical Description: Generally taller than humans, elves possess a graceful, slender physique seemingly made of bark, vines and foliage. They vary greatly in appearance, as wild as nature itself. They encompass the colors of all plant life, tending towards shades of green and brown. Their hair grows leaves and branches. The older they are, the more growths they have, sometimes becoming long twisted vines that hang to their waist or longer. Their flesh is wooden, smooth when they are young and furrowing more and more as they grow older until it resembles the gnarled bark of an ancient tree. Their eyes vary from virgin wood green, morning sun gold, rich brown earth, to deep sky blue, but always a solid color with neither pupil nor iris visible.

The wild elves live in the forests and frequently dress in animal skins or clothing of bark and leaves, whereas mist elves wear suits designed to keep off the mist and work with fleshcrafted creatures, or the symbiotic armor given to their warriors.

Society: Where the elves were once unified, now there is a great division among them. The wild elves are ruled by shamans who speak to the forest spirits and look up to the warriors who practice supernatural martial arts learned from the spirits of the animals around them. The mist elves delve ever deeper into the arts of fleshwarping in the hope of discovering the secret of adaptation to the Mist without losing themselves to it.

There are still some similarities, however. Both cultures have a deep-seated appreciation for artistry and craftsmanship, and whether it’s a carved wooden chair or a piece of living furniture, an elven artisan will always work to their utmost and take pride in their work. Magic is held is high esteem, and the lifeshapers of the mist elves and spiritspeakers of the wild elves are some of the most honored members of their communities.

Relations: Others were always suspicious of the elves because of their insularity, and their new behavior has not changed that. It is the wild elves who are the most well-thought-of, because while they are savage and unpredictable, at least their powers are understandable. Wild elves get along especially well with grippli and sesheyans, who share their wilderness homes. Whatever it is that the mist elves are doing in their living strongholds makes the other races nervous, and their appearance, swathed entirely in robes or with visible symbiotic grafts attached to their bodies, does not allay that concern. There are some elves who live in the patchwork human cities that sprang up after the Mist came, but they are often not entirely trusted there, even after long years of residence.

And here's a picture I found on the internet that's a pretty good visual inspiration:

Pathfinder game mechanics )

Exalted stats )

Maybe someday, I'll actually be able to run this.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
I've spent a long time putting together compilation documents for Dragon-Blooded Charms, hearthstones, sorcery spells, and martial arts and putting together a (currently 76-page) bestiary for that game I wrote about two-and-a-half years ago that I'm sure I'll get around to at some point. But despite that, I was never super happy with the Dragon-Blooded mechanically.

Dragon-Blooded abilities, and the Charms associated with them, are split into the aspects, with a surcharge on any power not part of the Exalt's own aspect, and it locks out a lot of character concepts or makes them more expensive. An Air aspect archer? Nope, Archery is a Wood aspect Ability. You'd think Fire aspects make good lieutenants because they're passionate and inspiring, but War is an Earth ability, so they pay a penalty for all the Charms. Earth should be good at contemplation and planning, but Bureaucracy is a Water ability and Lore is an Air ability, so no. And so on.

A while ago, I found a document by Ekorren from the Onyx Path forums called "Dragon-Blooded Revisions, Making Terrestrials Terrestrial" that cut all this out and gave each aspect its own set of Charms. Now there were just Air Charms, which covered a huge variety of concepts. Sure, Air aspect combat is focused on range, but it's possible to play an Air aspect swordsman and use the element of Air to do it, rather than having to take Fire-aspected Melee Charms and no longer have any Air powers despite being an Air aspect. Unfortunately, it was half done, with finished Air and Earth and only a bit of Fire.

Well, I took it, modified it, added a bunch of stuff from that compilation document, and now it's done. All five aspects, each with their own Charmset. Each with more ability in that aspects' thematic strengths, but with a broad range of powers that can accommodate a wide variety of characters.

I don't know if it's balanced, and only a quarter of it is my original work. I wrote a lot of Charms here and there, but I was also building on an existing framework and I made heavy use of Charms borrowed from fanworks like Hundredfold Facets of Enlightenment (PDF) or Ever-Cascading Torrent of Glory (PDF) or conversions of A Clutch of Dragons. But it exists and it's enough to run a game on, and I'm finally happy with the way that Dragon-Blooded work.

Now, to just get a game off the ground.

Mass Exalt

2016-Apr-15, Friday 19:28
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
So I had a ridiculous idea and I need to share it.

In Shards of the Exalted Dream, the book for Exalted 2e about alternate settings for the game, there’s a chapter entitled “Heaven’s Reach,” which is a space opera setting. Humanity reaches the limits of technological innovation in the purely physical realm until they discover Essence and use it as a source of power to create enhanced humans with a variety of seemingly supernatural abilities. Cue Exalted in space.

Of course, since I’m playing Mass Effect, I ended up thinking of this:
In the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization. In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling powers previously deemed to be mythological. The basis for this incredible enhancement was a force that controlled the very fabric of space and time. They called it the greatest discovery in human history.

The civilizations of the galaxy call them...

Emoji The Solar Exalted THE EXALTED. Emoji The Solar Exalted
The basic structure of the world would remain the same, with the relays and so on, except instead of biotics and Element Zero allowing for mass manipulation, it’d be Exalts and Essence manipulation allowing for FTL. Ships can enter into hyperspace, a chaotic dimension of possibility where only a strong anima field can prevent the ship from dissolving into the surrounding madness, and jump from relay to relay. Jumping without using a relay is possible, but is much slower and ships have to periodically leave near a star in order to prevent hyperspace from eating away at their reality. That way, I get to keep the Wyld and use hyperspace as hell.

The Council races would have the most territory and Exalted. I’m a little tempted to add some of Exalted’s Primordial races, or at least use their appearance, for some of the minor one-note groups. Like, change the Volus to the ereta’een (the species that Autochthon ate whole and thus discovered soulsteel), the Hanar to the pelagials, or the Batarians to the hruggha. Asari, Turians, and Salarians could stay as is. Draw a bit on the Mountain Folk for the Quarians, and say that they’re on the run now because they experimented with beings drawn from hyperspace as a work force until those beings banded together in sufficient numbers and started showing signs of self-awareness, which lead to war, which lead to the migrant fleet. These “raksha” are a persistant danger to travelers in the Terminus Systems.

The Protheans are, of course, the Dragon Kings.

Reapers would draw on Abyssal iconography and motivations. Life is chaotic and messy and full of sorrow. We will grant you the peace of death, in which there is an end to suffering and fear. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it. And husks are already space zombies, so...

I think this has potential.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Last night was the final session of the short Warlords of the Mushroom King game I ran, and almost the entire session was a battle with the Super Mario Galaxy 2 Bowser Music playing in the background. That sounds like a nightmare, but we run relatively short sessions and got a bit of a later start, to a combat with nine major characters--the protagonists and the Blossom Guard that Miyamoto had sent for against the warlock Kurome; his lieutenants, a kappa Brother of the Hammer and a mycon Cultist of the Broodmother; Kurome's summoned demons, and the surviving bandits.

The protagonists opened up the battle by sending Chi's familiar, a self-reassembling bob-omb, walking up to the group and exploding. It rolled 8 successes on seven dice, none of the bandits saw it, and so the protagonists had a huge advantage as they attacked from stealth while the bandits were in disarray. Daiju charged straight at the Brother of the Hammer while Kabocha and Miyamoto attacked the Cultist and Kaeru started carving his way through the bandits. No one got near Kurome, especially not after the demon materialized to guard him.

The Cultist went down quickly, but the Brother of the Hammer took a bit more time due to his thick armor and his Charm-enhanced toughness, but once he started hurting a bit, Miyamoto managed to wrestle his hammer away from him and hurl it into the forest. Deprived of his martial prowess--hard to be a Brother of the Hammer with no hammer--he died quickly after that. Kurome and his demon vanished before the protagonists could turn their attention to them (I'm sure they won't show up again next game!) and the remaining bandits, confronted with the death or disappearance of their leaders and the fact that a single warrior had killed a quarter of them, threw down their weapons and ran. The protagonists let them, figuring the flora would take care of them. They then returned to a heroes' welcome in the village and walked off into the sunset.

I realized there was a third demon that Kurome had under his control--a decanthrope, if you're curious--that I should have had launch itself from bandit to bandit the way it's described in that entry. I genuinely forgot about it, though.

Kurome didn't do much in the battle. He conjured an aura of fear around himself, called on the demon to defend him, and then stepped through the shadows to get away as soon as the battle turned against him. That's a bit by design, though. One of my goals was the sorcery is more broadly applicable than martial arts, but in direct combat, sorcerers have very limited options because spellcasting takes time and blasting spells are highly limited. That's why Kurome had demons to defend him, and why he left early. Maybe he could have turned the tide if he had gone on full offense and sent the demon to attack the protagonists...but that would have been a risk, and he didn't become a powerful warlock by taking risks.

Also the game was almost over, so that did influence my decision making. But only a bit. I didn't conceive of Kurome as the adventurous type.

I learned from this game that Exalted is a great gritty system where Charms and Exalted ruin everything! It worked really well, especially when I introduced the glass beads for players tracking their timing. I called out tick, everyone tosses one into the center, anyone with no beads gets to take an action. It worked really well, and the limited selection of powers meant that combat never really got bogged down. No dice pools with 30+. I think the highest number anyone rolled was 14, and that was Miyamoto disarming people. No one got hurt, so I still didn't get to test my new Medicine mechanics. But next game!

I've mentioned I always learn something from the games I finish. Here, I think I can sum what I learned down to two bullet points: 1) The Seven Samurai is a great plot and I can see why it's been ripped off so many times and 2) Exalted, at its core, is not as terrible as the internet makes it out to be, but it's a bad system for actual Exalted. At the mortal level, with dice pools from 4-12 or so, it works great.

Next Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom game starts next week!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
A while ago, when I was converting WotMK over to Exalted's system, I decided to use Terrestrial Circle Sorcery for the various groups of creepy sorcerers because that way I didn't have to write a ton of spells. However, I gave every group of sorcerers ten spells, I've written up fifteen groups so far, I didn't want any overlap between the groups, and there's only so many Terrestrial Circle spells that people have written, even with weeks of scouring the internet for them a while back. When I was writing up the latest sorcerous order, I could only find five spells that fit the concept and weren't already taken by other groups. When I found myself writing up several new spells, I realized that I had hit the limits of the parameters I'd set for myself, and if I wanted to be able to write more sorcerous groups--and I do, since there are several countries in the gazetteers that don't have any at all--I needed a full custom spell list for each group.

So I'm going back to my previous approach. You can see an earlier version of that here, from when I was still using Novus, and a modern version below the cut:
The Pyromancers of the Kappa Wastes )

So far, I've done that to thirteen of the fifteen original sorcerous orders I had--sixteen now, counting the one that triggered this whole thing in the first place--and it hasn't been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I did all that in about three weeks, and it leaves plenty of space for expanding into places that the list of Terrestrial Circle spells I have doesn't go.

For example, originally the Servants of Yarikh from B'rabt were just a place for all the Biblically-themed spells in Exalted to go, like Plague of Bronze Snakes, River of Blood, Water from Stone, Food from the Aerial Table, and so on to go, drawing on B'rabt's combo Egypt/Israel thematics (it's based on Birabuto, but I wanted something different than WotMK!Egypt), but now that I'm writing my own spells I can go back to the association of Yarikh as a moon god and write moon-themed spells for them. And keep the serpent imagery as well, because what is sword and sorcery if you don't have sinister priests with serpent-topped staves walking around?
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
The Attribute + Ability pairing of White Wolf games goes pretty far in figuring how to mechanically represent something. Roll Perception + Ride to inspect that horse that the merchant is trying pass off as a child of Hiparkes, roll Strength + Lore to use your time as a scribe's apprentice to figure out how to carry all those scrolls, roll Appearance + Melee to impress the comely youth with your display of martial prowess. That takes you pretty far.

But when dealing with skills that interact with other subsystems it's a bit harder, and one thing I noticed when checking up on the Medicine skill for Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom is that as written, it's basically useless unless you have huge amounts of it. Saving someone who is dying is minimum Difficulty 5, stopping bleeding or curing a crippling injury is Difficulty [the number of health levels caused by the wound], and speeding healing or treating poison is completely impossible. Treating diseases is relatively well-supported, especially using Kyeudo's disease fix, but that's less common than just purely healing wounds. This is fine for Exalted because they get Charms they can use, but I think it needs better support for mundane actions.

Here's what you can do with Medicine:
  1. Diagnose Patient: As in Exalted, pg 137.
  2. First Aid: Immediately after battle, roll Wits + Medicine. You may spend successes from this roll to turn Bashing into nothing or Lethal damage into Bashing. Each health level costs successes equal to its [wound penalty + 1], so First Aid for the -4 health level is 5 successes and for the -2 health levels is 3 successes each. This roll is Difficulty 1, modified as normal for lacking materials or adverse conditions (first aid in a swamp battlefield is much harder than a healer's tent), and may only be performed once for each set of injuries.
  3. Treat Disease: Use Kyeudo's disease fix.
  4. Treat Poison: Roll Intelligence + Medicine against the poison's Toxicity. If successful, neutralize a single dose of the poison. This roll may be repeated once per scene or once per interval of the poison, whichever is longer. Poisons with the L tag in Toxicity may not be treated without magic.
  5. Long-Term Treatment: If the patient is resting and not performing any major activity, roll Intelligence + Medicine at the same treatment difficulty given in First Aid. If successful, the patient heals that health level twice as fast (i.e., at the rate an Exalt heals while performing strenuous activity; healing times reference here). This roll must be repeated for each health level.
  6. Stabilize the Dying: Roll Wits + Medicine, Difficulty 3 + [one-half current number of Dying health levels suffered], success means the patient is stabilized at Incapacitated. You cannot perform First Aid on someone you've stabilized.
There we go. Plenty of options that allow people who focus on Medicine to make a measurable difference without shutting down anyone who doesn't use magic.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
Last night was another session of the Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom short-run game I'm doing. There was another session in between this one and the first one I wrote about, but I didn't have anything insightful to say about it and I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow recounting of this game, so I skipped it.

I'm writing here because this was the first session where we had actual combat. Part of the reason I wanted to use the Exalted system, even with all the ill-will it has on the internet, is that I'm convinced the base of the system is an interesting, crunchy timing-based (as opposed to round-based) engine and all the problems come when dozens of Charms have to interact with it. Also flurries. And the combat we had would seem to support that conclusion. It had seven participants, ran about half an hour--almost no one had played in an Exalted 2e combat before, so a lot of that time was explaining things--and went pretty smoothly.

Rather than use a battle wheel to keep track of timing, I used some glass counters I bought specifically for the purpose a while ago. Every time anyone took an action, they took counters equal to its Speed, and then I'd say "tick" and everyone would throw a counter in the pile. It made it obvious when people got to go again and kept things moving pretty well. I just wish that Daiju had gotten to participate, but he failed a Temperance roll, went off to investigate some pretty lights, and got beguiled by a faerie.

I did love my players' expressions when I said, "Faerie blood heals wounds. Just sayin'."

Since each player only had five or six Charms to pick from, all of which were from a single martial art and so focused on a particular combat style, there wasn't a lot of dithering and pouring over long lists. Chi used sorcery to link the group closer together so they could make group Stealth rolls, and then opened the battle against two kappa and two mycon bandits with Binding Filament Strands to take a prisoner. After that, he mostly just hid. Miyamoto leapt into the middle of the remaining three and laid about him with fists and feet, knocking one of the mycon out and getting a few hits on the kappa, though most failed to do much damage against its thick shell. Kabocha used her sticky tongue to snag the other mycon and chewed on it, eventually biting it in half. The final kappa ran after the other three bandits were incapacitated and Miyamoto and Kabocha chased it down, tackled it, and killed it.

Things I realized I forgot to do
  • DV Tracking: Uh. Oops. I forgot to penalize people's defenses for the actions they took. It was mostly just attacking without anything complicated, but DV is an important part of the rules and if I really want to see how well the combat system works we need to track it.
  • Combat Tactics: This is mostly because our printer is broken and I couldn't print out the reference sheet for actions, but I really should have had the sheet in front of everyone with the actions and DV costs on it. It would have helped people decide what to do.
  • Knockdown: I forgot that checking for knockdown is based on the raw damage of the attack, not the post-armor and -soak damage. There were at least two attacks Miyamoto made that were reduced to a one or two damage dice that should still have checked for knockdown (kappa have 8L/8B armor just from their shells).
I did remember to track most everything else, including movement. I found a blank sheet of paper was fine for tracking all the of the enemies they were fighting. No extras, either--everyone had full stats. And I didn't have worry about bleeding, chance of infection, or disease, because none of the PCs even got hurt. The only one who got attacked was Miyamoto, and he handily dodged every attack directed at him.

The PCs also followed a trail the bandits hadn't done enough to disguise and found out their their camp is apparently within the boundaries of the Forest of Shadows. How are they surviving in there without drawing the wrath of the forest spirits or the carnivorous flora? Mysterious!

Things I need to do for next time--get that combat actions sheet printed out, stat up walking trees and forest spirits, and come up with a set of rules for Shaping combat (Chi is planning to use dream sorcery to interrogate/brainwash their captive) that aren't 1) overcomplicated and 2) terrible.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
One short session, but still!

A week and a half ago was the first session of the short-run Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom game I'm running to see if all that work I poured into the system ends up with something functional or with an unworkable mess. It being based on Exalted, character creation took a while (though not as long as if the players had to pick Charms, fortunately), but in I ended up with four misfits thrown together by the vagaries of fate and the fact that I demanded reasons why the PCs all knew each other:

  • Daiju: A kappa of great strength, great size, and the corresponding intelligence that point-buy system balance forces for those advantages. He doesn't have many interests beyond eating, sleeping, fighting, and a dream to challenge the Dragon Emperor to single combat, but he's currently working as a yojimbo for:
  • Chi: A silent one from the Scarlet City, Chi is also a member of the Somnambulant Calculators, the Scarlet City's order of oneiromantic engineers. He's wandering through the Dragon Empire searching for Predecessor artifacts, after his abrasive personality and lack of concern for his fellows resulted in him being "promoted" to field agent.
  • Miyamoto: A kong from the Kong Jungles who's spent decades wandering through Agarica, Miyamoto has built up quite a reputation for himself as a sage, warrior, and tea-brewer. According to family legend, he is a direct descendant of the last Princeps of the Kong Imperium and is seeking some way to restore his people to their long-vanished glory. He's traveling with:
  • Kabocha: A raptok princess who met Miyamoto years ago when he passed through the Raptok Isles on his travels and eventually sought him out with the goal of making a name for herself. With the Kingdom of Flowers in turmoil, she figures it's a great place to look.

I started with the PCs all fleeing down a well-travelled road away from a Dragon Empire checkpoint, after a "misunderstanding" with the guards and a group of chuzan mercenaries resulting in a brawl, because starting in media res during a travel scene is an important part of sword and sorcery. They could tell the road was well-travelled because I took some inspiration from The Mirror Empire (link to my review) and its jungle full of carnivorous flora and imported that into Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, so the road was burned down to bare earth for ten yards on each side to keep the dionaea and stranglevines and walking trees and gravecups from eating travellers.

After seeing a small path leading through the forest and knowing the Dragon Empire patrols were after them, they ran off into the woods, fought past a few lashvines, and made it to a small village miles into the forest, where they introduced themselves, overcame the initial misunderstandings due to their appearance--isolated Floral peasants not being used to kappa and raptok in their towns--saw a mysterious shrouded figure peering at them from one of the huts, and were told about the bandits plaguing the village, because I told the players when we started that I was basing this on Seven Samurai.

That's about all we had time for. The system went pretty well, though I admit that the basic Attribute + Ability part of Exalted isn't what people complain about and that's most of the mechanics that were invoked. The real sticking parts are usually combat and Charm usage, neither of which we got to, and I'm not going to be doing that much with the social mechanics for a short game like this. So the real test is yet to come, but so far it's going well!
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
In preparation for the upcoming Dragon-Blooded game I'm planning to run (more on that in later posts), I'm going through and pulling NPC, spirit, and creature stats into a single document so I don't have to flip through multiple books to find everything I want to use the same way I did with Charms and martial arts.

Both of those are done, by the way. I don't think I've mentioned that. Emoji Woot

What I'm finding is that there doesn't seem to be any kind of rhyme or reason to the stats. Some of the changes I'm making are minor, like updating the weapons to 2.5 standards--knives do less damage and so on--but I'm having to edit the stats in other ways because they just don't make much sense to me.

Everyone familiar with Exalted knows about the Mask of Winters being illiterate pre-errata, but why do mortal exorcists have War 3? Are they going to lead groups of monks against armies of ghosts? Why do elite soldiers all have Linguistics 3? Are they polyglot mercenaries? Those are minor, true, but I've already had to edit them in the mortal opponent stats.

And creature attacks are all over the place. Zombies do 4L damage even though they have Strength 5 and punches usually do +0B. Fakharu's dragon breath attack has Speed 10 (and his Bite has Speed 9) in a system where almost all actions are between Speeds 3 and 6. Buck-Ogres can "split their dice pool," which is meaningless in the timing-based Exalted combat system. Austrechs, which are three-meter-tall flightless birds, do 1L damage with their bite. Claw Striders' claw attacks are Speed 8. Tyrant Lizard's bites do 0L damage + Strength, which is 14, but still.

As near as I can tell, this was all decided by hurling darts at a dart board and writing down the results. And I don't want to just handwave everything because Exalted works just fine at low power levels and I want rational stats for future god-blooded or mortals games. Some of the low-power attacks might be due to wanting to avoid rocket tag, where large monsters miss several times and then kill anything they hit, and I'd believe that if pre-errata Exalted wasn't already nuclear missile tag. We'll see if I can pull order out of chaos here or if the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies and it just ends up worse than the original.
dorchadas: (Chejop Kejak)
I've seen several complaints about how Exalted mortals-level combat doesn't have much tactical depth, and this post springs out of my bafflement at that statement. I mean, Exalted has disarming, called shots, Fierce Blows, blocking enemies' movement, defending others, knockdown, stunning, bleeding, morale rules, etc. It doesn't have flanking by default, but playing on a grid it's easy enough to add it in (-1 external penalty to DV vs. attacks from the side, -2 external penalty vs. attacks from behind. Boom). A lot of this isn't worth keeping track of when the Exalted are chopping boulders in half and doing backflips over buildings, but it's still there.

As one example, I was originally thinking about writing up a way to include non-Charm counterattacks before I realized I didn't need to. The way to do a counterattack without magical aid is the same way you do one in real life--you wait for the attack (Guard), size up an opportunity after defending (Aim), then Attack. Since Exalted 2e combat is timing-based rather than action-based, there's no need to add a special "counterattack" action as a way to exceed the normal action limits.

One I just thought of is that hit-and-run tactics are viable. Any Lethal wound causes bleeding and possible infection, so striking from ambush, doing a little damage, and running is a great way to wound anyone who doesn't have medical training or access to healing magic. A single good hit doing two or three Health Levels of damage will causes a target to bleed into unconsciousness in ~15 minutes if it's left untreated, and then you can tie them up / finish them off at leisure.

Some of this only comes out through banning flurries, because otherwise the optimal action is always "attack as many times as your weapon's Rate allows, Gate of Babylon, win." But it's there. I wonder if people just haven't tried it out--considering all the "why would I ever play something weak and puny like a Dragon-Blood?" sentiment I see out there, that wouldn't surprise me.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
I've never really liked the way Exalted handles martial arts styles. In first edition, Brawl and Martial Arts were separate combat abilities, with the former representing untutored street fighting and the latter representing codified fighting styles. In addition to the Orientalism, as the number of styles proliferated, Martial Arts got better and better compared to Brawl. Its breadth expanded, because whatever weapons a style required used the Martial Arts ability instead of Melee or Archery, eventually culminating in styles like Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style, which has a lot of social utility and involves turning into an incredibly beautiful gazellefish, or Citrine Poxes of Contagion Style, which is about punching diseases either into or out of people.

Second edition got rid of Brawl, collapsing all unarmed combat into Martial Arts, but then it turned the old Brawl Charms into Martial Arts styles and gave them a special designation of "Hero" styles, which could be expanded on by the Exalted type they were innate to. Anyone could learn Terrestrial Hero Style, but only the basic Charms, and Dragon-Blooded could expand on that with extra Charms that only Dragon-Blooded could learn. Unfortunately, that crippled Solar unarmed fighting, because Sidereals having the best martial arts is a setting point and so Solar Hero Style was a Celestial style, with less powerful Charms than most Solar ones.

Third edition--or at least, the version I've seen--separates Brawl and Martial Arts again. Furthermore, it introduces Craft proliferation into Martial Arts. No longer does a character have Martial Arts •••, they have Martial Arts (Tiger Style) •••, and need to relearn it if they want to study another style. It also gets rid of the Terrestrial/Celestial/Sidereal split and just gives styles reduced effect when practiced by Terrestrial-level characters and increased effect when practiced by Solar-level ones, which I'm neutral on. But Martial Arts can still do anything.

That's the background. What I've done in my Dragon-Blooded Charms document is turn Martial Arts styles into a concept rather than tying them to a specific ability, so each style derives from an ability based on its concept. That means that I can spread the ranged styles to Archery and Thrown like they should be so that one ability doesn't let a character punch, shoot, stab, and turn into a gazellefish. It also lets me delve into non-combat abilities. Lightning Hoof Style is clearly a Ride style, and Jade Mountain Style fits into Resistance. Custom styles I've found like Reflections on the Tides Style (Lore) or Rebellious Demon Style (Dodge) fit pretty well into this system too, and it provides another way around the out-of-aspect surcharges and elementally-associated Charms for abilities that the base rules don't give them. Earth-aspected Melee, Fire-aspected Archery, Water-aspected Thrown, Wood-aspected Melee, etc.

I really should just go all in, rename the Martial Arts ability to Brawl again, and turn Terrestrial Hero Style into Brawl Charms. That would get rid of the odd "Water aspects are attuned to every Martial Arts style in the world" rule. I can just add an "house rules in this document" section in the beginning that explains it in case anyone I know wants it.

You know, I think I will do that.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
This is my attempt to retool Exalted mortal-level combat into something I like a bit better and that's more suitable for people who aren't leaping all around the landscape all the time and who don't have dozens of discrete rule-breaking packages to draw on. It draws on a few ideas I've mentioned before, which I'll summarize here for the benefit of putting it all in one place rather than scattering it over a handful of different blog posts, often months in the past:
  • Flurries Don't Exist: Everything has a Speed and everything is a single action. The closest to an old flurry is Double Attack, and that still takes place on separate ticks.

  • Defense Is Rolled: References to DVs below always refer to the total defense value, i.e. the raw Strength + [Ability] + Defense or Dexerity + Dodge + Essence, which is rolled in response to an attack. The smaller dice pools available to mortals and the removal of flurries should make this a much more tenable option.

  • Grapple Is Extensively Changed: I wrote about this before, but see below for more finalized rules.

  • DVs Do Not Naturally Refresh: Combatants must take the Guard action to refresh their DVs. The intent of this is to model constant attacking leading to combatants overextending themselves and leaving themselves vulnerable, which is what stacking DV penalties on flurries used to do before I hacked them out.

  • Movement Is Not Reflexive: This is more experimental than the others, but I'm going to try removing reflexive movement and requiring an action for each move.
Several of the descriptions are taken from here, though some parts have changed to account for the rules above.

(Speed 3, DV -1)
When Aiming is declared, choose a target. Aborting to attack the target adds a number of dice to the attack equal to the ticks spent aiming (max 3). Aborting to any other action gives that action a -2 internal penalty. Aiming may be maintained indefinitely.

(Varies, DV -1)
Make an attack. Speed is based on weapon type. There are several types of attacks which carry their own characteristics.

  • Brutal Attack (Speed Varies, DV -1): A Brutal Attack action is identical to an Attack action, save that it has an Accuracy penalty of -1 and it increase the raw damage of the attack by three. Punch and kick are thus replaced by unarmed Attack and unarmed Brutal Attack, respectively.

  • Charge Attack (Speed +1, DV -2): This combines a Move and an Attack into a single action, allowing the character to advance up to twice their Move rate and immediately make an attack at the end of it. Anyone currently taking the Guard action gains a +2 bonus to defend against a Charge Attack.

  • Double Attack (Speed Varies, DV -3): A Double Attack action makes two separate attacks with the same weapon, one right after the other. The Speed of the whole action is the highest Speed of the weapons involved, though the second attack takes place one tick after the first. The first attack suffers an Accuracy penalty of -4, and the second suffers an Accuracy penalty of -8. Weapons with Rate 1 or with the 2H tag cannot be used to make a Double Attack.

  • Quick Attack (Speed -1, DV -2): A Quick Attack action is identical to an Attack action, save that its DV penalty is -2, it has an Accuracy penalty of -2, and it reduces the Speed of the attack by 1.

  • Thrust (Varies, DV -2): A Thrust action is identical to an Attack action, save that its DV penalty is -2 and it carries the Piercing tag.

Coordinate Attack
(Speed 5, DV -2)
When Coordination is declared, choose a target and participating allies (which may include yourself). Roll Charisma + War, difficulty (Half the number of participants, round down). Allies included usually need to Aim or Guard until your next action. During your next action, the target's suffers an external penalty to their DV equal to the number of successes rolled, to a maximum of (number of participants) against any attacks made by any participant during that tick.

(Speed 3, DV -2)
Dash allows the character to move [(Dexterity + 6) - Mobility Penalty] * 3 yards, or half that amount of hexes if using a battlemap. As a special condition of Dashing, characters cannot apply their Dodge DV while performing a Dash action.

Defend Other
(Speed 5, DV -2)
This combines the effects of Defend Other and Blockade Movement. The character may interpose their own Parry DV between an attacker and a target within the range of their weapon. If the attack misses, no further effect occurs. If the attack hits, the character may choose to suffer the hit themselves or allow the threshold successes to continue through to the target, who may also defend separately against it. In addition, the character may make a contested [(Strength or Dexterity) + Athletics] roll against anyone moving within range of their weapon. Success stops that character in their tracks, and they must Disengage to escape combat. Only melee weapons may be used for Defend Other.

(Speed 2, DV -0)
When one character wishes to withdraw from combat without being attacked, they may make a contested [(Strength or Dexterity) + Athletics] roll against those in melee range. The character rolls only once, though anyone in range of her may oppose their roll. If any opponent beats the character's roll, they may make an Unexpected Attack against the character if they choose to Move away from combat. If none of them do, the character may move up their Move rate away without suffering attacks.

(Speed 6, DV Special)
Make a Grapple roll [(Strength or Dexterity) + Martial Arts] as an attack with Speed 6, Acc +0 and Rate 1. If it hits, the character gains a number of clinch points (CP) equal to the threshold successes. Clinch points do the following:

  • Reduce the target's DV by the total CP.

  • Reduce the target's effective Strength + Athletics for Feats of Strength by the total CP.

  • If CP reduce the target's DV and Feats of Strength score to zero, the target may not move or defend and can only attempt to break free of the clinch.

  • If CP exceed the target's Stamina, the attacker may throw them up to [Strength] yards away. The target checks for knockdown.

  • CP may be converted at a one-for-one ratio to dice of Bashing damage, which is treated as a Step 8 damage calculation. This damage is Piercing, and each die of Bashing damage reduces the amount of CP on the target by 1.
The character who is clinched may roll [(Strength or Dexterity) + Martial Arts] against the current CP total, with each success reducing it by one. Multiple characters may attempt to clinch the same target simultaneously, and add their CP together to determine its effects.

(Speed 3, DV Special)
Guard resets the character's Defense back to maximum. A Guarding character may abort to another action on any tick after the first, but may otherwise maintain this action indefinitely. In addition, they may make appropriate social attacks (calls for surrender, attempts to intimidate, etc.) while Guarding.

Miscellaneous Action
(Speed 5, Varies)
This is the term for any number of combat actions that don't fall into the other categories, like standing up from being prone, drinking a potion, picking up a dropped weapon, and so on.

(Speed 2, -0 DV)
The character moves [Dexterity - Mobility Penalty] * 2 yards, or half that amount of hexes. The Mobility Penalty cannot reduce the character's effective Dexterity to less than one for the purposes of calculating Move distance.

The intent of this is to establish interesting tactical choices in the absence of the Charms that usually carry that responsibility in Exalted, but it's entirely possible that this will make combat a hell of confusion and annoyance. I'm most worried about the removal of reflexive movement, and I might end up reintroducing move-per-tick but keep it at the minimum of 2 yards per tick--I won't prevaricate, it's basically reinventing the Five-Foot Step. But as long as I don't have a giant chart of Attacks of Opportunity, I should be okay.

I'm inspired a bit by the guy at Dungeon Fantastic who's running a dungeon crawl game using GURPS, which is much more on the level of game systems I find interesting even if I wouldn't want to use it specifically. And that does rely on the players, too. It's entirely possible that this system will work and hang together and be consistent but the players won't like it, which makes it pointless. It needs more playtesting, is what I'm saying.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
While I was plundering the old Exalted wiki for Charms and spells and thaumaturgical effects, I came on a setting someone had written up called the Wyldspan. The basic premise is that the Ten Thousand Dooms all strike Creation at once, and while most of them were fought off, the final assault of the Fair Folk was set to wash over Creation like a tidal wave and plunge it back into the unformed chaos of the Wyld. In desperation, Mercury sacrificed herself to defend against the Wyld, and when the attack came, Creation simply...went elsewhere.

The result is that every Manse and Demesne in Creation became its own stable worldlet in the chaos of the Wyld. Some are a few miles across, some are dozens, and all the animals and people of Creation were scattered. Even the Exalted were unable to cross the barriers, since the Fair Folk raged outside the boundaries of shaped reality and would tear anyone who stepped outside to pieces.

And so on. You can read the rest of it at the link and I won't summarize it all here, but the Exalted invent ships that can traverse the Wyld while shielding the inhabitants from its effects and explore from world to world. Eventually, enough infrastructure gets established that some parts of Creation start interconnecting, and new nations begin to form.

The PCs would be Terrestrial Exalted in a relatively large but not enormous world, maybe 50 miles square (twice the size of Rhode Island) who are unaware the rest of Creation survived. One day, a damaged Wyldfarer with a mutated or dead crew all wearing strange uniforms washes up on the edge of their world, and being Exalted, the Dragon-Blooded of that world repair it, test it, and crew it with a mission to go out and find more worlds, figure out what is out there, get intelligence on their neighbors, figure out how much of Creation survived, and, perhaps most importantly, figure out where the Wyldfarer crew came from and whether they were a threat.

If you haven't guessed it by now, why yes, I am proposing Stargate: the Wyld.

Space Opera Exalted has been a popular idea, from the old Transcendant fan setting about transhuman Exaltedish sci fi to the Gunstar Autochthonia and Heaven's Reach settings in Shards of the Exalted Dream, but I never really took to it. I like this one a lot better because it keeps more of the initial assumptions. Creation is still recognizably Creation. People fight with swords and bows instead of magic guns. There aren't any computers or internets that I have to deal with.

In addition, the Wyldspan setting justifies a lot of space opera tropes with no extra effort required. Hyperspace is Hell is the most obvious, of course, but every planet having a monoculture and a single climate makes sense, because they're mostly less than 100 miles square. Humanoid aliens are covered by the Breeds. Planet of the Week is much easier to plan for when every planet is so small. Space is an ocean, albeit one that wants to kill you. The collapse of government during which each planet developed its own weird quirks.

There is some stuff I'd have to do, since it looks like the rules for Wyldfarers were never finished and some of the factions links lead nowhere. But I've been accumulating my own personal collections of Exalted rules for the last few months, so what are a few more? It's not bad in service of an Exalted sci fi setting I'd actually want to run.

Another idea to throw on the pile!
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
One thing I noticed in my Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom combat test was the huge movement rates. Moving every tick does keep people engaged and allow for some interesting strategy, but it also slows combat down a lot and requires a large area griddedhexed out, especially if one of the combatants has a ranged weapon and faster movement speed. So I thought, what if I added a cost to movement?

Keep the same overall move distance per tick, but make Move a Speed 2, DV -0 action, so each Move action moves (Dexterity - Mobility Penalty) * 2 yards, and then each Dash action moves (Dexterity + 6 - Mobility Penalty) * 3 yards. I already made each hex two yards across, so the average soldier in armor will be moving one hex per movement action, or 10 hexes per Dash action. Dash has its own DV penalty and prevents any parrying at all without a stunt, and since mortals rely on parrying due to Mobility Penalties to Dodge caused by armor, Dashing probably won't be common other than in the beginning or near the end.

I'd need to end up adjudicating edge cases so there aren't any situations where leapfrogging movement prevents people who should be next to each other from actually attacking, but that probably fits under the spot ruling I made for Attacks of Opportunity for people disengaging from combat--Dexterity + Dodge (-Mobility Penalty) vs. Wits + Melee, if the defender wins they withdraw safely, if the attacker wins they get a free attack against DV 0. In a blind rout, I'd go straight for the attack and avoid the roll-off.

This is partially inspired by buying some glass beads, since I can use those to count ticks. Every time anyone does an action, draw a number of beads equal to its Speed. Every tick, toss one back in the pot. On the tick a character tosses the last one in, they act. Repeat as necessary. It could be really fiddly and annoying, but it could also offer a nice tactical feel for combat.

It's also inspired by old Action Point CRPG combat systems, which Exalted is pretty close to already.

None of this is a consideration in any game that actually has Exalted in it, because when Monkey Leap Technique and Instinct-Driven Beast Movement come into play there's no point in tracking movement on a grid at all. There's a reason Exalted 3e is going to FATE-style Zones instead of tracking movement by the yard, after all. And it's not necessary in a lot of battles where exact position at the degree the game supports isn't super important, like one-on-one duels. But for a game where the combatants aren't jumping all around the map all the time, I think this has a lot of potential.

This might call for more testing!
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
I haven't posted about RPG stuff in a bit. I think it's because I've been consumed by making a unified Dragon-Blooded Charm index for Exalted, with all the errata and fan-Charms I like in one place, in anticipation of that Ollantijaya game I mentioned a while back. But of course that's not the only thing on my mind, and it's time to write about Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom again!

One of the main game premises I thought of when I started designing the setting was a megadungeon game. I know that most megadungeon games are OSR ones, or at least d20-based, but reading the GURPS blog Dungeon Fantastic and the Felltower game the author is running (first session here) has given me a lot of inspiration for how a completely different game can do a proper dungeon. The main aspects that are needed are:
  • An interesting megadungeon. I already have Etemenanki, the miles-high tower based on the Tower in Sky Land from SMB3, written into the setting, and a bunch of underground ruins filled with treasure and traps everywhere. With the dimensions I'm imagining, it's several hundred billion cubic feet of space within, and even a long tradition of exploration and actual communities around and in Etemenanki, there's still plenty of room for a series of adventures in there.

  • A wide variety of loot. Exalted has this covered, with all the artifacts in various books and the hearthstones that I've repurposed as crystals. No problems here at all.

  • A reward system to encourage exploration and looting. Basing XP on value of goods recovered--the old XP-for-gold rule--is the venerable and probably best rule, but it does run into the problem that unlike D20 games or GURPS, most of the magical items in Exalted don't have monetary value except in the abstract, so I'd have to assign everthing. Unless I just did "XP equal to Artifact or half Manse Background value" and then made sure that mundane treasure and goods had a reasonable scale. This would require some tweaking.

  • Competing factions. If everything is unendingly hostile and the only interaction the PCs can take with it is to sword it in the hit pointsHealth Levels, then they might as well leave and go play Ancient Domains of Mystery or Angband or something, which will do dungeon exploring and loot-gathering to a far greater degree of nit-picking detail than a tabletop game ever could. But if the PCs can work together with a party of kappa sent by their tribal shaman to retrieve a relic, or hear a rumor that a group of pidgit-folk have descended from their Cloud Kingdom citadel to clear out the same abandoned shrine that they were planning to go to, or find a group of dossun blocking off a passage and manage to parley with them into letting them pass, or pay a group of Disciples of the Empyrean to transport them to a balcony on a higher level of Etemenanki that they know is unexplored, that all leads to much more interesting stories than just murdering everything does. A megadungeon has to feel like a place where different groups live and interact, not just a collection of rooms where orcs are 30 feet from gnolls but they never acknowledge each other's existence.

    Unlike the ones above, there's nothing specific in Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom to facilitate or hinder this. It's just a very important part of design to keep in mind.

  • Dungeon as location for adventures. "Explore the next level" can be a motivation, but it doesn't have to and shouldn't be the only one. Let others evolve out of faction interactions. Maybe there's a plague in town and there's a pool inside that has healing waters, and now the PCs not only need to get there, they need to transport a barrel of water safely back. Maybe someone wants a particular room or section cleared out because they want to build a community there. Maybe the pidgit-folk take over that section after exploring and they won't let the PCs through unless they bring them a Disciple of the Empyrean, who they claim stole mystical secrets from them and is using them profanely. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for more goals to arise.
Part of me wants to include rules mechanics as a necessary part of the experience, but it's clearly not, since the first megadungeons were run with OD&D which barely has any rules at all, much less the kind of attempting-to-be-comprehensive system that d20 or Exalted have. It does require players who are onboard with the core concepts, though. Once I finish that Dragon-Blooded Charm collection and go back to finishing the WotMK bestiary, maybe I'll start looking in to that.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
Maybe it's the fact that my read-through of all the Dark Sun books is almost done, but lately I've been thinking about running a Dark Sun game using the Exalted rules. Bleeding, permanent crippling, infection, environmental damage, and weapons and armor granular enough that it's possible to model the "metal is rare" and increasing scale of wood < stone < bone < obsidian < metal weapons without much trouble. There's even a great list on of a ton of armor types made from chitin, wood, leather, monster bits, and so on to steal from. I never thought D&D of any sort was a great fit for Dark Sun's hardscrabble survivalist brutality.

I've given a bit of thought in how to translate the interesting parts of Dark Sun over to the mechanics, too.

This is easy. I can use Revlid's Mutation Revisions and build them all out that way, the way I did for standard D&D in my Dungeons and Exalts post. That'll take maybe 30 minutes at max.

This one is easy conceptually, but would take time. Basically, Exalted's Charm structure makes it easy to make psionic power cascades. A Telepathy one starting with Contact and everything branches off that, a Psychometabolism one starting with Biofeedback, a Psychokinetic one starting with telekinesis, and so on. Or maybe two or three entrance points into each tree. That's similar to how the Complete Book of Psionics worked, and it's how Exalted's Charms work too, so they're a natural fit.

Also, I could use the Essence stat as a measure of psionic power, to emphasize how central psionics is in Athas. And I can even keep Exalted's supernatural martial arts by stealing the fluff of the sensei kit from The Will and the Way and recasting them as psionic fighting styles. The elemental focus of martial arts even fits Dark Sun's fluff, too. Anything that leads to less work needed for a project like this is good in my book.

This one is a bit harder. The way I'm thinking of it now is to assume that all magic is basically the same (no arcane/divine split) and requires external power, but priests and druids get theirs from powerful entities and wizards have to draw energy out of living things. They'd draw on the same spells, then, but wizards would get a wider selection with a side order of witch-burnings.

I could do it in WFRP-style spell lores, divided into three circles each. So, the Lore of Fire for fire clerics, with...I don't know, Torch Circle, Bonfire Circle, and Inferno Circle, with five spells or so per circle. Then Lores for the other three elements and the para-elements (Sun, Rain, Silt, and Magma). Elemental priests get all three circles of their element and the first circle of a related element. Druids get the Lore of Animals and the Lore of Plants and the Lore of one related element, and pick one at three circles, one at two, and one at one. Templars get anything their sorcerer-king deigns to give them, which makes them a lot more powerful and versatile, but it's that way in the original source material too, plus they're tied into their city-state hierarchy and all the backstabbing and treachery that comes with it.

Wizards get anything with no restrictions, including stuff that no one else can get like the Lore of the Dead (making undead creatures, surviving death, etc.), the Lore of the Spheres (traveling to other planes), the Lore of Enchantment (enchanting items, which would be a wizard-only thing), and probably some other stuff, but have to deal with witch-burnings and their existence being illegal basically everywhere. Get the Larceny and Performance skills and pretend to be a mindbender or a priest.

Unlike the source, I wouldn't bother to mechanically distinguish preservers and defilers beyond modeling spellcasting, where it would be the same except preservers would take longer to cast their spells and defilers would leave ash behind. If not leaving black ash everywhere were an easy choice, then Athas wouldn't be a blasted desert hellscape, now would it?

It seems like it would work really well, yet as with many of these ideas I have, the main thing that puts me off is the writing. I just spent a couple dozen hours writing down all the Dragon-Blooded Charms and applying the various layers of errata to get a single PDF with all the Charms in it that doesn't require flipping through multiple books so that I could run that Ollantijaya game I mentioned a while ago, and do I want to start another project immediately? It could work, but it would take work.

Well, that and I already have a couple dozen complete RPGs that require less tinkering that I could run, once I have time for another game. It's true that I like RPG tinkering for its own sake, but I'll just faff around forever messing with projects unless I set some limits.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
While I was pretty happy overall with Exalted's combat system when I tested it out, there's still one thing that annoys me--that the defender doesn't get to roll. I prefer opposed-roll combats, which is why when nWoD is played in our house, Defense is Dexterity + Wits and the defender rolls. Since DV is based on the mathematical average of the defense pools, it wouldn't cause too many mathematical problems.

It would make combat deadlier, though. Since DV is the mathematical average, roughly half of the rolled results will be above it, and half would be below. All the rolls above lead to the same expected result, since you can't defend any harder than completely. But some of those rolls below would lead to hits that would not have otherwise occurred under the static DV system, and that means more damage done overall. How much more, I'm not sure. I'll have to see how it works out.

This also lets me change the Onslaught Penalty from only applying on flurries (which are dumb) to applying to all attacks that take place between actions, the same way it works in nWoD. It makes it half as effective, since it would be -1 Defense per attack and 2 Defense = 1 DV, but that's fine with me. I implemented it in the test battle I ran, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd said she felt like there was nothing she could do to prevent it.

Actually, I can probably get rid of DV penalties on basic attacks if I'm using both of those changes. That will work to reduce lethality, so it'll help counteract the way the previous two suggestions increase it and prevent some annoying bookkeeping at the same time.

I'm pretty sure this hack breaks down completely once Charms and buckets of dice come into play, but for mortal-level games I think it'll work. I'll have to test it and see if it slows the game significantly.

That only leaves rolled damage is the remaining annoyance, but that's way too much work to strip out. If I make damage values static, then even mortal Exalted turns into iaijutsu duels, and reducing that requires reworking the damage values of all the weapons, powers, and enemies in the game. I have better things to do with my time.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
I had a few thoughts I didn't mention in yesterday's post where I ran through Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom combat, so I figured I'd write about them here.

  • It Really Is That Lethal - My Exalted 1e game never really had much problem with lethality, but stacked persistants in 1e meant that the complaint was more often about combat dragging on and on with no resolution, whereas 2e it was whiff whiff SPLAT. The lack of Charms here prevented combat from degenerating into Perfect spam, but it was still obvious that combat was "realistic" in the sense that wearing heavier armor is a really good strategy. The bandits were relying on their tough skin (3L/3B soak), and that meant that when they did get hit it was really painful--all of them died in only one or two hits from Goji, who had 12L base damage. Amiyumi, with 7L base damage, got a couple good hits in, but also a couple that plinked off their soak.

    On the other hand, most attacks that did hit, hit with very small margins--usually only 1 or two successes. That also implies that making a dodgy ninja would be possible, since no character here was optimized for avoidance. They'd be a glass cannon and quite possibly get taken out in a single hit, but hits would be rare.

    My characterization of "Runequest with dice pools" seems pretty accurate. Wear armor, don't just wade into battle, use positioning and strategy, and don't get hurt if you can because healing takes forever. There's a section on running RQ6 combat when healing times are so long, and I should probably read that. Thaumaturgy can help with that in Exalted, but it's still no Cure Light Wounds.

  • Raptok Are Murder Machines - Some of that is because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd knew this was going to be a combat test, so she optimised Goji for fighting. It also meant that a lot of the disadvantages of raptok, like lacking dextrous hands or being unable to speak most languages, didn't come into play. Their bite does +7L, which is much as a post-Scroll of Errata two-handed great axe, and they've got that ranged clinch.

    Also, I just realized that Goji had orichalcum hearthstone bracers. We remembered the +3 to Dodge pool, but forgot the +2 to raw damage. That would have made her even more killy.

  • Knockdown and Stunning Aren't Super Dangerous - I can see why a lot of people ignore these rules, especially playing the Exalted. There was some chance here that the bandits would have suffered from the effects, since they had 3 dice to resist Stunning and 6 dice to resist Knockback, but they made all their rolls. Goji and Amiyumi never took more than one Health Level of damage at a time, so they were never subject to these effects.

  • Coordinating Attacks Would Have Helped - Coordinating attacks requires a Charisma + War roll and then reduces the target's DV by the number of successes on that roll. If I had remembered about that rule, that might have been a lifesaver for the bandits, who mostly fought as an individual disorganized mob and paid the price for it. They don't have the War skill (as befits a disorganized mob), but since most attacks hit or missed by one or two successes, even reducing the DV by one would have helped the bandits land more hits. As it was, Goji had all her -0 Health Levels full by the end, so a few more hits would have started wound penalties.

  • I Need Morale Rules - I didn't appreciate how great OSR D&D games' morale rules were for a long time, but nowadays I think they do a lot to make combat less grinding. And especially in a system where getting injured, with the attendant bleeding, long healing times, and wound infection, is so terrible, beating the enemy without having to fight them would be great. I just used Valor rolls, but I should have some system for when the Valor rolls are required and how they get more difficult. For example, the very first attack made in the battle was Goji grappling a bandit with her tongue and then biting them in half. That should have required morale rolls for the other bandits. AD&D 2e calls for rolls in situations like "when surprised," "25% of their group has fallen, "ally slain by magic," "50% of the group fallen," "offered surrender or a bribe," and so on. Those seem like good guidelines. There's a chart on page 156 of Exalted, but it's pretty vague--what does "Enemy of slightly superior combat strength" mean, exactly?

    And as in D&D, morale helps provide a niche for the walking dead, who automatically succeed at all Valor rolls and thus will never run away barring some kind of magic. Though in Exalted, zombies have a much higher chance of wound infection, so there's two reasons not to fight them.

  • My -0 Health Level Rule is Great - I gave everyone, including all the NPCs and monsters, -0 Health Levels equal to their Stamina. That helps make Stamina more valuable--though even without it, avoiding wound infections, knockdown, and so on makes Stamina better than with a game with Exalts--and reduces healing times, since healing is based on the category of Health Level: -0s take one day, but -1s take one week. Quite the jump. Again, magic exists to make that faster, but it's still no Cure Light Wounds.

  • Temporary Resources Are Very Influential - Since the margin of success was usually pretty small, spending a point of Willpower for an automatic success or channeling a Virtue for extra dice made the difference between success and failure several times. Amiyumi turned a near-miss into a hit at least twice, and Goji used all her Valor channels on attacks, I think. In a long-term game, they'd be more careful with them, but on the other hand they were outnumbered three to one here.

    While I used full Health Levels and 10s count double with the bandits, I didn't have them spend any Willpower. That's probably the way I'd do Extras for a grittier feel--they can't channel Virtues or spend Willpower. Lieutenants and up can.
It felt pretty sword and sorcery, which was exactly my goal. All in all, I'm pleased with how it worked out!

Edit: I just realized that the bandits were all armed with spears, so they could have used Thrust to make their attacks Piercing and get through some of that soak. Oops.
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I've been wanting to do this for a bit, and we had a day today without much of anything to do, so I asked [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to roll up a couple characters and I'd put her against some generic bandits. So she made a raptok named Goji and an amanita archer named Amiyumi (Exalted stats here), statted them up in about half an hour while I filled out my mook sheet with the stats for a mycon bandit, noted that there were six of them (there were going to be three until I saw how powerful she was), and we set up the battlemap and went to town:

Warlords combat testing beginning

Using hexes, as G-d and wargaming grognards intended.

I went with the "move on every tick" interpretation of Exalted combat, which is also the way that Hackmaster works (count up and ticks are pretty similar, from what little I know), so I set up the battle wheel and let everyone move. Two bandits immediately started dashing toward Goji, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd waited until one got close, then she used the raptok's tongue grapple to pull one bandit in and bite him in half. It was overkill because I'm so used to our nWoD house rule where it's rolled attack vs. rolled defense that I forgot it was rolled attack + rolled damage here, leading to doing 14 levels of damage rather than 14 dice, but on future bandits I remembered. After killing him, one other bandit had closed and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd didn't want to get caught in melee with all of them, so she wanted to escape. I don't think Exalted actually has any rules for Attacks of Opportunity and disengaging from melee, so I just called for her to roll Dexterity + Dodge vs. the bandit's Wits + Melee. She won, and led them on a merry chase around the edge of the map while Amiyumi fired occasionally with her bow.

Most of her arrows missed, though, and eventually she got tired of running around and just closed to melee, biting another bandit in half (rules-legal this time) and then things settled down into the usual close-range skirmish. There were four mycon on her, but I forgot to have them Coordinate Attacks--though admittedly, they were a disorganized group of bandits, so maybe that makes sense--so they mostly plinked away for ping damage and never took either of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's characters out of -0 Health Levels. When half of the bandits were dead, I had the remainder roll Valor. Two passed, but one didn't, and then when he turned to flee Goji bit him in half. I probably should have required some kind of roll to make the attack since there were two other bandits, there, but Goji bit a giant chunk out of the bandit's side and he slowly crawled away to bleed to death elsewhere.

After that, it was just mop up.

Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom combat testing end

The only ones left are bandit 5, who's crawling away bleeding to death, and bandit 1, who's uninjured. Raptok bites are serious business. Emoji Axe Rage

What I learned is that if you're used to Initiative-based systems, Timing-based systems require a shift in thinking. I forgot to explain to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that Speed represents how long your action takes and so higher Speed is worse, so both Goji and Amiyumi had Speed 6 attacks (bite and bow, respectively). She mentioned afterwards that she might have given Amiyumi a faster weapon if she had known that was how the system worked. I also had a hard time keeping track of who was who at the beginning, though once everyone stopped moving and I didn't have to track per-tick movement anymore it was a lot easier. And really, even with a tick system using a battlemap isn't always useful. In a very enclosed space, or in a duel, or if no one has ranged weapons, then all that space isn't necessary.

I did demonstrate the way that ticks can be used, when one of the last two bandits' action came up three ticks before Goji's action, so he spent two ticks Aiming for a +2 bonus. He still missed his attack, but it was definitely a much better trade off than the usual "spend a turn aiming while everyone else does something" way of doing it. Ticks require a bit more mental space for me, but I used dice to keep track of who was who, matching the number next to the minifig to the numbers on the battlewheel I printed out. I think with the right mental shift, it would be a neat way of working on battles. The combat system with mortals is such that huge numbers of enemies is almost certain death, so there wouldn't be too many combatants in combat at the same time. And even if there are, as long as they aren't moving every tick, it should be fine. The whole combat with eight participants took about 45 minutes, which isn't so bad. Most of that was weighted towards the beginning when people were moving a lot, too. The last fifteen minutes are where four of the bandits got killed.

Speaking of lethality, I had [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd roll Medicine to stop Goji and Amiyumi's bleeding at the end of battle, and also checked for Wound Infection. Emoji Trollface

They both passed.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
I've had the thread called Ollantijaya, the Land Spread Out As Wings (cached because the real link doesn't work for some reason. Good thing I copied all the info down yesterday!) open for literally months on my computer, because I'm one of the people who has dozens and dozens of tabs open at a time for months until I get around to reading them, and I finally read it last weekend and was immediately seized with the urge to run a Dragon-Blooded game.

I've been thinking about it for a while, admittedly, so this isn't really a new thing, but it has a lot of what I was looking for. It's a kingdom of outcaste Dragon-Blooded, so the PCs wouldn't need to know a ton of complex social relations to properly portray their characters. It's set far enough away from the Realm that it can be isolated without being totally cut off--if you look at the giant map of Creation, it's in the far southwest, just off the Violet Coast and just south of the "Island Tribes" label--and has the Lintha in between to further limit the opening scale. The Dragon-Blooded of the island have a very close relationship with the local spirit courts, so I can properly integrate the super-active spiritual dynamics of the default Exalted setting that set it apart from standard D&D fantasy where "spirits" is a synonym for incorporeal undead.

The described setting is pretty unified and harmonious, but there's an offhand mention of a "Five Kingdoms" period in the history section, where instead of being one government under a Senate in consultation with the Mountain and Forest Courts of Ollantijaya's spirits, various mountain valleys containing individual Dragon-Blooded dynasties warred with each other to determine who would come out on top. I was already planning on setting the game in the past to avoid the Ten Thousand Dooms from even being a consideration, and the Five Kingdoms period gives me a perfect place to do that. The on-par opposition is mostly other Dragon-Blooded and spirits, with heroic mortals as lieutenants and the Lintha always working on the edges, and an Anathema showing up is both a major threat and so unlikely that I can totally ignore it and it's still believable.

It keeps politics local so there's no huge info-dump at the beginning, lets the PCs start out with smaller concerns and expand the scope of their operations if they want to, provides an obvious reason to go looking elsewhere (resources or aid for their warring state) and a foil to that effort (the Lintha). The setting says that there are no Wyld zones or shadowlands on the island, and that might be true in the default RY 768 setting...but when there's tons of war between Dragon-Blooded dynasties, I suspect the status quo doesn't apply. I actually like the idea of residual Wyld zones from the Balorian Crusade here and there, with a watchful eye kept on them by the Dragon-Blooded and their spirit allies. Or maybe that sentence should be the other way around?

This is a bit annoying after all the effort I put into Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, but fortunately there's a preparation issue stopping me. The Dragon-Blooded Charmset is notoriously badly-written, being done before the rules were finalized and containing little use of Keywords and lots of copy-pasta from first edition. This was fixed in The Thousand Correct Actions of the Upright Soldier, and later again in the Scroll of Errata, but there's no way I'm flipping through multiple books to figure out how the Charms work. As such, I want to build a master Charm document with all errata applied and extra Charms included. And since I copied the raw text of the DB 2e Charms over and it turned out it's 76 pages, that'll take a while. Emoji Eyes bulging stare

Since I've already done all that Warlords work, I should run the test game of that first. But after being out of Exalted for years, I've come back around to it now in a big way. I'm even thinking of an Exalted Space Opera game using Heaven's Reach from Shards of the Exalted Dream. More on that if it ever goes beyond the "wouldn't it be neat if..." stage.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Also occasionally called hearthstones or magicite, Crystals are natural distillations of elemental Essence into a solid form. They appear in lonely places where Essence flows strongest and the spirits are most active--in the depths of the woods, on the tops of mountains, on the bottoms of lakes, and so on. The Kappa Waste and the Shifting Sands in Pithek are known for their Fire Crystals, the leaves of the Forest of Shadows provide shade to glittering Wood Crystals, and divers descend the Lake of Dreams searching for the Water Crystals that form closer to shore.

Crystals require certain geomantic characteristics to form at all, and these characteristics are rarely, if ever, found close to civilization, despite the best efforts of practitioners of the Art of Geomancy to manipulate the Essence of more accessible locations. As such, Crystals require travel to remote locations and are very expensive because of the hazard, expense, and dependence on conditions of the local dragon lines.

There are three main uses that Crystals are put to in Agarica. The first is that each Crystal's particular Essence is slightly different, and someone who holds the Crystal in hand and crushes it can draw on that Essence for a particular effect. Such effects are incredibly varied and nearly anything is possible, from an Air Crystal that allows the bearer to hold their breath for hours to an Earth Crystal that makes all blows bounce from the bearer's skin, from a Fire Crystal that can turn an enemy's blood to living flame to a Water Crystal that allows the bearer to slip easily into a dreamless sleep or a Wood Crystal that can change the bearer's coloration to match the surrounding terrain. The Essence is temporary, however, and always fades. Some effects last for a week, some for a month, some only for a moment, but none are permanent.

The second is that a sorcerer can draw on the Essence to replenish their reserves directly after evoking a spell. To do so, they must forgo any other beneficial effects the Crystal would normally have, but as sorcery is so energy-intensive, the results are often worth it and rare is the sorcerer of any power who does not have a few Crystals with them for emergencies.

The third is as a power source for artificia. The artifex of the Scarlet City are a nearly-inexhaustible market for fresh Crystals for their experiments, and even the simple bob-ombs used by Muskalan grenadiers function far more efficiently if powered by a Fire Crystal rather than a crude fuse. The Essence within doesn't last forever, though, and the weaker Crystals are used up almost immediately. Artifex across Agarica have searched for a means to extend Crystals' usefulness for lifetimes, but so far with no results for their efforts.

While most Crystals are influenced by the elements, not all of them are. There are some Crystals that form in unhallowed places with unsavory powers, from speaking with corpses to imbuing weapons with the icy touch of the grave, and some Crystals that draw on aspects of the sun, moon, or Star Road. While it is possible to deliberate manipulate the geomancy of an area to create the former--and some of the Circle of Xhamekh have started creating such areas within the Dragon Empire--the latter are far more random, making them much more valuable.

For the first and second uses, it works as stated. Crushing the Crystal is a diceless Miscellaneous Action with Speed 2 if it's already in hand and Speed 5 if it has to be dug out of a pouch, and provides either the stated effect or five times its rating in motes. For the third use, a Crystal powers an artifact for one hour (•), one day (••), one week (•••), one month (••••), or six months (•••••).


There. That works out as a homage to Final Fantasy I, a way to make some of the more problematic hearthstones like the Gem of Adamant Skin usable without breaking the game in half, and a reason for adventurers to head out into wild places far from civilization in search of loot to sell other than endless dungeon-delving. It also means I can get a lot more use out of the published hearthstones, since there are dozens and dozens of them, but in canon Exalted the average character is unlikely to have more than one or two, and be tied to their manses to defend them.

I'm pretty proud how much of Exalted I've been able to pull in and reuse for WotMK. It's saved me an enormous amount of prep time, even with how much work I've put into this.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
As a prelude for putting it in my Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom main document, I figured I'd write down all the house rules I was thinking of using and my reasoning for some of them. As a quick reference, there's a good cheat sheet for the rules as written here. That includes most everything in the basic rules, though I don't think it's been updated to 2.5 and a lot of it is extraneous, like Exalted XP costs. There's a combat-specific cheat sheet here.

  • Everyone, including NPCs and monsters, gains -0 Health Levels equal to their Stamina. Makes everyone more survivable and keeps the death spiral from kicking in so early.

  • Parry Defense Value is calculated with Strength instead of Dexterity. Dex is the uberstat under the RAW, and swapping this lets the archetypal strong-but-slow PC defend as well as attack.

  • Mental Dodge Defense Value is calculated using Temperance instead of Willpower, and ignores Essence. Since Willpower goes to 10 instead of 5, as written MDDV is flat-out better than MPDV.

  • Mental Parry Defense Value is calculated using Conviction instead of Charisma or Manipulation. For symmetry with MDDV, and because Charisma and Manipulation are the attack stats. Both of these override the rules in Social Conflict (see below).

  • Grappling is modified as I lay out in my post here. In summary, it's progressive instead of binary.

  • Flurries are replaced by the rules mentioned here. Exalted is weird, what with having speed-based initiative but keeping the multiple-actions-at-the-same-time ability that round-based systems usually have, so I'd rather make it purely speed-based. Stuff that needed to be flurried under the old system I can rule on on a case-by-case basis, but attacking the same target super-fast in one tick is gone. Or I guess I should say, flurries can only be used for different actions rather than to repeat the same action. Flurrying to keep balance while fighting on unstable ground is fine, stabbing someone three times in the same instant is not.

  • Artifact weapons and armor don't exist. Their damage and soak values are too high and bend the whole the combat system and all the tactics around them (grand goremauls Emoji Eyes bulging stare), so they're gone. I'm just going to apply the Five Magical Materials bonuses directly to the mundane weapons. I'll also probably throw in some of these extra magical materials, but mostly for flavor.

  • Everyone gets three Favored abilities. With no actual Exalted in the world, there's no problem with having more competent mortal PCs, and I really hate the "mortals are dirt under our feet" parts of Exalted anyway.

  • Kyeudo's Disease Rules Fix is in effect, so that not every disease either 1) kills you or 2) does nothing.

  • I'm using Social Conflict instead of RAW Social Combat. When the book specifically says you should run away or attack someone trying to convince you of something if you want to avoid it, you know that it's going to cause problems.

  • Merits and Flaws are mostly awful and unbalanced, so PCs can buy mutations from Revlid's Mutation Revision as merits. A lot of those are the things covered by advantages in other games anyway, like Eidetic Memory or fast healer.

  • Everyone gets Awakened Essence for free. To go with that, thaumaturgy rituals that take an hour or less may have Essence substituted for their material components, with some exceptions--rituals from the Art of Alchemy always require components, for example. Emoji cat drugs

  • Coins get counted out using the prices from the Manacle and Coin Revised Chart. As a companion to that, no one can start with the Resources Background, since a steady stream of cash discourages the kind of shenanigans sword and sorcery protagonists should get up to. I'm not sure whether to use the silver or the jade price scales as of yet. I'm currently leaning towards jade, though it is pretty complicated, in which case everyone would get 1 mina plus 1 more mina per 3 bonus points spent. Not sure on the cost of more money at start. I do have a character sheet with the monetary conversion on the back, so that'll help the PCs.

  • Hardness is compared to Strength + weapon damage, not Strength + weapon damage + attack successes. As written, Hardness is almost always worthless even in mortal vs mortal combat--even Artifact Superheavy Plate only has 10--and this adds some value to it. And to go with this, appropriate Stunts can ignore Hardness. I'll probably also add Hardness to magical armors, too, with some formula. It looks like light armor gets Hardness 2, medium armor gets 5, heavy armor gets 8 and superheavy gets 10 under the basic system. I might go with that.

  • Shields Shall Be Splintered! I use this rule in basically all the games I play because I love it so much, and it applies just as well to Exalted--anyone can say their shield broke and in exchange, they take no damage from a single attack. [ profile] marianlh, you might like the linked blog post, if you haven't read it before.

  • Character generation is XP-based, though with less XP than listed there.

Stuff I'm still thinking about:

Mortal Excellencies
Excellencies are the classic reason that Exalted throws around buckets of dice, and as written non-magical beings don't get them at all. I've diversified the power sets a lot, what with splitting thaumaturgy from pure Occult into Craft, Lore, Performance, Occult, and Survival, and making Martial Arts the pure "hit stuff without weapons" skill and splitting the martial arts I included between Archery, Dodge, Lore, Martial Arts, Melee, Resistance, Ride, and Thrown, but it does mean that characters who want to buy skills like Sail or War or Investigation have no way to be supernaturally competent at them.

My idea was to have a "Mortal [Ability] Excellency" that's similar to the First [Ability] Excellency in that link, except with a limit of dice added equal to the user's Essence. The thing that makes me balk is that at first glance, it seems too useless at Essence 1 and too powerful at Essence 5. Maybe equal to Specialities, which run 1-3, would be better? Or half Essence rounded up, which would be a max of 3?

Considering it more, I'm probably not going to put these in unless I get any complaints or it seems like characters that aren't sorcerers or martial artists have nothing to spend XP on.

Weapon and Armor Damage
I'm not even sure this is worth the trouble, honestly. I like the idea of weapons and armor being damaged, providing another niche for Craft-based characters to use their skills on a low timescale, but I'm not sure how to do with without being too fiddly and stupid. Maybe for armor, if the incoming damage is greater than twice the soak, the armor loses 1L/1B soak? And allow a called shot (-2 to -4 External Penalty) that does 1 die of Bashing Damage and damages armor. Huh. That's actually not bad.

Weapons, I have no idea. Since Disarming exists, it might not be important. And it'd need something to deal with shields.

Fast Attack
In exchange for dumping Flurries, I'm thinking about adding a Fast Attack option as a companion to Thrust that has Speed -1 but Accuracy -2/DV-2. Or maybe Accuracy -3. Low Speed is really, really good--and increasingly good the more you get of it--and this would be tricky to balance.
dorchadas: (Chejop Kejak)
Grappling rules are one of those legendarily awful parts of nearly any RPG, usually because the rules are incredibly complex in a way that no other part of combat is, as was the case in earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons, like the "Punching & Wrestling Chart" from AD&D 2e.

Huh. I just realized that "no other part of combat" link is probably what Dwarf Fortress grappling would like it if it were played out at the table.

In Exalted, grappling's major problem is that it's binary. It's a simple roll-off, and then winner can either throw the target away, or they can do all of the following:
  • Render the target Inactive, reducing their DV to zero.

  • Prevent the target from taking any other actions other than trying to break or take control of the grapple.

  • Do damage to the target.

This means that if the players are mechanically savvy at all, any kind of single-target boss fight ends up with one PC grabbing the target and everyone else punching them in the face until they die. And while this is not automatically a terrible outcome, it's terrible 1) that it's so good that it's probably the best option in most circumstances and 2) when the bad guys do it to a PC and murder them while they can't do anything about it.

Well, I was reading my RSS feeds a couple weeks ago and came across this post from Dungeon Fantastic about using GURPS Technical Grappling in their game. And while I haven't read through all of Technical Grappling because it's 54 pages long--and I'm not sure if that's a bigger strike against GURPS or against grappling rules--the basic concept of Control Points are laid out in the blog post.

It seems like it's even easier to implement this with Exalted dice pool system. Each success is a Control Point, you need a certain number to do things. Rather than DV instantly dropping to zero if someone puts their hand on a PC's upper arm, it could go down in a more gradual fashion--maybe 1 point per two CP, and reduce movement rate by the same amount? Similarly, cap raw damage done by the amount of CP the opponent has, so grabbing someone and ripping them in half is still possible but isn't likely without the clincher solidifying their hold, unless the clincher is a tyrant lizard. Finally, make it so the target isn't Inactive until the CP on them is greater than their total (Strength/Dexterity) + Martial Arts + Specialty pool, and even then they can still try to escape.

This does a lot of things. It means PCs can keep acting until they're totally overwhelmed, it means that weak PCs can progressively overcome even powerful clinchers as long as they have friends keeping it from focusing on the grapple, and it means that being grabbed no longer introduces a, "whelp, time to make a new character" reaction.

This probably interacts weirdly with Charms and to be really developed I'd want to go check out those interactions, but since I'm going to be using this for mortals I don't care! I still need to work out how this interacts with multiple actions (not flurries. No flurries), but that can come with testing.

This does mean I need to finish those Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom enemies, though. I should get on that.

Exalted 3e map is out

2014-Oct-08, Wednesday 20:38
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
So this map was posted yesterday:

Exalted 3e Creation map

Original source here.

I haven't been super excited about third edition in a while. I kickstarted for the deluxe book, but that was mostly on the strength of all the fun I've had with Exalted over the years and how much wonder I felt when I opened up that first edition corebook and read it. At the very beginning, in the intro section, there's a paragraph that I have on my Exalted wiki page because I loved it so much. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw that map:
Before the world was bent but after the Great Contagion, there was a civilization built in the image of the First Age. It sought to emulate the splendor of the bygone Golden Age, but it was in all ways less. It was a time of sorcery and heroism, of fabulous wonders and treacherous betrayals. Ruled by a decadent empire, it slipped inch by inch into barbarism and darkness, until one last cataclysm blotted it out forever. Yet, in its sunset, it was a splendid thing, and glorious were the deeds of the Exalted.
Hell yeah. Emoji The Solar Exalted

I'm still not super enthused about what I know of 3e's mechanics--they sound much better for Exalted-level characters, but I want to run a game without any Exalted and I like the Swords & Sepsis feel of the 2e rules--but that map is just objectively better. There's more interesting cities, more fun details like the Dreaming Sea in the southeast or Wu Jian in the ocean or actual cities in the Burning Sands of the South. The setting always was the best part of Exalted, and it looks like that's going to be even better this time around. None of those cities who are 1500 miles apart being constantly at war, or nations blobbing to fill up all the available map space, or a nearly empty West and a totally empty Southeast.

I'm excited about 3e again for the first time in probably a year!
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
This post is mostly prompted by this Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom post where I statted up the groups using Revlid's Mutation Revision, as well as realizing that Exalted is basically Runequest with dice pools, and a brief exchange with [ profile] lowbeyonder about running Dark Sun using Exalted. I thought, Hey, can I stat up the D&D races using that system too? and this post is the result of that.

Costs are listed as-is this time.
  • Dwarf [9 pts]: Dark Vision [2 pts], Inhibited Essence (Requires N more motes to use Charms or Spells and N*2 more motes to attune to Artifacts) [1 pt], Night Vision [2 pts], Poison Tolerance (resist poisons as a supernatural being) [2 pts], Slow [+1 pt], Stonesense [Detect sloped passages, shifting walls, new stonework, etc.) [2 pts], The Bigger They Are (+1 bonus to hit and +1 DV vs. creatures with the Large [2 pts] mutation or bigger) [1 pt]

  • Elf [13 pts]: Acute Senses (+1 bonus to Awareness rolls) [2 pts], Disease Tolerance (resist diseases as a supernatural being) [1 pt], Mastery of Sword and Bow (+1 to Melee [Slashing Sword and Short Sword] and Archery [Self Bow and Composite Bow]) [2 pts], Night Vision [2 pts], Silent Movement (+1 bonus to Stealth while unarmored or in Light armor) [1 pt], Resistance to Sleep and Charm (+5 MDV vs. Compulsion and sleep-type Illusion effects) [4 pts], Secret Door Sense (May make a Perception + Awareness roll to detect nearby secret doors or passages) [1 pt]

  • Halfling [5 pts]: Acute Hearing (+1 bonus to hearing-based Awareness rolls) [1 pt], Master of Throwing Weapons (+1 bonus to Thrown rolls) [2 pts], Natural Climber (+1 to Athletics rolls for climbing) [1 pt], Small [+1 pt], Stubborn [+1 MDV) [2 pts]

  • Human [5 pts]: Favored (gain an extra Favored skill) [3 pts], Natural Learner (Charms and Spells only, -1 XP cost) [2 pts]. Humans also begin with 3 more dots of Skills.

  • Gnome [8 pts]: Acute Hearing (+1 bonus to hearing-based Awareness rolls) [1 pt], In the Shadow of the Trees (+2 bonus to Stealth rolls in forests) [2 pts], Master of Illusions (-1 to opponents' MDV to resist Illusion-keyword effects used by gnomes) [2 pts], Natural Brewers (+1 bonus to Craft [Water] rolls) [1 pts], Night Vision [2 pts], Small [+1 pt], The Bigger They Are (+1 bonus to hit and +1 DV vs. creatures with the Large [2 pts] mutation or bigger) [1 pt]

Elves are overpowered, but at least you have to pay for that power. The extra Favored skill, XP break, and bonus skills are probably the best way to represent human dynamism, which is usually the main D&D human trait. Note that Charms here would be just martial arts mostly, even though I did edit some of the martial arts I found to use non-combat abilities (Ride and Dodge are the two I can think of).

So, there's the basics! Here's a couple more for people who want to play crazy stuff:
  • Lizardfolk [12 pts]: Blade Proof [1 pt], Large Lungs [2 pts], Lethal Attack [3 pts], Natural Armor [4 pts], Natural Weapon x 2 [2 pts]

  • Tiefling [6 pts]: Cold Resistance [2 pts], Creature of Darkness [+4 pts], Dark Vision [2 pts], Electricity Resistance [2 pts], Fire Resistance [2 pts], Night Vision [2 pts]

I don't even know What else is out there. I haven't played D&D since AD&D 2e except on computers, so all this talk of the Kids These Days, with their shardminds and their shifters and their goliaths and their eladrins, is a mystery to me. It's not like Neverwinter Nights ever let you play any of those. Emoji Cute shrug

Also, gnomes and tieflings should get special powers (tieflings causing darkness, gnomes talking to animals), but I'm not sure how to cost those and not willing to spend too much time figuring it out at the moment.

Since I've already got Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom as my Exalted-rules-but-other-setting game, this thought exercise is probably as far as I'll ever go with this. If you really have a hankering to play D&D fantasy with d10 dice pools, I can point you at Dungeons and Darkness. The guy there has done more on his conversion than I'll almost certainly ever do on this one. And there's a post in that thread criticizing it for having wizards that are super overpowered and fighters that are useless, so you know it's emulating the source material! Heyo!


dorchadas: (Default)

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