All Posts

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/13/2013
Mizu005 wrote:
Apparently I could have saved myself some time double checking to confirm that Raksi's joints are a mutation and not a Tell for all the attention people payed emotion-4.gif


But, seriously, her wrists are not a Tell. Stop trying to figure out how they managed to shoehorn it in as a Tell, because they didn't!





I addressed that. I called the author who decided to make her 1e Tell into a Wyld mutation in 2e too clever by half and dismissed the decision as unworthy.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/13/2013
Fanservice wrote:
Stephenls wrote:

Now, obviously, we are not doing this. But, yes, I think a big part of the appeal of cannibalism-only Lunars is it puts constraints on the characters you can play that you may not be entirely comfortable with.


Conversely I think this is a big part of why they don't appeal to me. I don't really want to play a Cannibal every time I play a Lunar. It's a story which might be good once or twice and doesn't go away even if you have alternate methods but having to go through it for every single Lunar I make? Tedious.

Well, you could always play a Lunar who refrains from stealing faces, yeah. It's a thing! And almost anything you can accomplish by stealing faces you can accomplish through supernaturally-apt disguises, trickery and misdirection, charisma, and manipulation. Almost.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
ysadrel wrote:
I always thought of Charms as a fundamental expression of a character's skill and power and as distinct magical techniques that two Exalts might be able to cross-compare. I didn't find it that hard to reconcile.

The way I conceived it, the human body has a set of movements it's theoretically capable of performing; you can't bend your knees backward (without some helpful assistance from that moneylender you're in debt to), lift your legs above your head, et cetera. Some people can't curl their tongues or wiggle their ears or raise their eyebrows like Spock. The set of movements that I, the dude writing this, can make is a set of movements I've learned that rise out of my experiences and skills, and I can improve and learn new ones as long as they're within the body's theoretical limits.

Similarly, the Essence within an Exalt has a set of "movements" it can theoretically make. It has certain limits -- you can't shoot your mouth out on a tentacle or curse someone with bad luck to the seventh generation if you're a Solar -- and certain kinds of "movement" that are easier for it, just like it's easier for most humans to balance on two legs than on one. The skills and experiences that an Exalt undergoes and acquires, the training and discipline they practice, allow for certain forms of Essence to manifest, and while they're individual to each character they're still recognizable between characters. (Similarly, nobody's going to mistake my Spock eyebrow for Leonard Nimoy's, but it's recognizable as the same gesture.) Because Exalted is a grandiose world, people have named these techniques -- Charms -- where they haven't named individual muscle movements, but in my view, the theory's kind of the same. Because there's a metaphysical component, the use of Essence, I would call Charms a form of magic, but I guess I can see the logic of reserving that specific term for sorcery.


This is all valid, reasonable, and interesting.

Whether you see it your way or mine won't change how the Charms work mechanically.

But a Solar who just Exalted in Nexus can complete the entire Dawn Charmset without ever meeting another Solar, without knowing what the Solars were/are, and without any exposure to First Age lore or past lives.

The Charm set is not external, waiting for him to discover it. So he has no idea what the names of any of these Charms are. He exists in a complete vacuum, and the game supports this—if he is a Dawn, he needs no training. If he can learn the Charms without training, and can learn the Charms without knowing their names, and is not automatically Exalted with a full codex of Charm names (which he is not) then you might conclude that the "Charms" (he may not even think of them as Charms) he has learned have completely different names and methods and pathos from the exact (mechanically) same Charms of another Solar, regardless that these two Solars were modeled by the same Charm set, the same mechanics, the same names.

IE, the names of Charms, and even Charms themselves don't qualify as anything important or crucial or necessary. They are just character descriptors. Your character can learn them without even knowing their names!

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/13/2013
Krzyzewski Man wrote:
I absolutely agree with the idea that you should have powers that require a moral sacrifice. Lunar disguise is a strange place to be putting this, esp. since Changing Moon can effectively do this just for living. Lunars have Charms that allow them necromantic potency. The horror of crossing the line between life and death, I think, can be an interesting wage of power.


You can't disguise yourself as a dog and infiltrate through the kennels? You can't escape pursues by taking the form of a sparrow? You can't watch a conversation as a spider on the wall, or just use your amazing charisma to seduce a servant-boy and have him smuggle you in?

Fuck, put on some makeup. Wear an outfit that lets you cover your face. You can use dice-adders to apply your disguise, you know.

...or you could take someone's face. It'd be easy to do!

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/13/2013
Here's why I like limiting taking human forms to cannibalism: it makes stealing faces A Thing.

Like, as a Lunar, you can pretty much take any form you want. Fly as a bird? Sure. Swim like a fish? Yup. Eyes of the raptor, strength of the mammoth, speed of the cheetah. Infiltrate anywhere as a mouse. Transform into a terrifying beastmen amalgam of yourself and your spirit shape and then on top of that temporarily grow wings for flight or gills for water-breathing? Absolutely. Fuck, learn to become "Yourself, except of another gender?" Okay.

You can systemize it so that all those things are impressive mechanically. Obviously neither 1e nor 2e did, but you could.

Take someone's face, though... Well. That's easy, too. And it's so useful!

But it's a big step. It's a major decision, for a young Lunar, whether to do... that... or whether to put it off. Some Lunar elders maybe don't talk about it much. Others, maybe, laugh and call you naive if you insist it's as big a deal as it seems. And, ironically, it places a weird barrier in Lunar competence, because taking other human forms is not a thing that's terribly useful if you don't care to interact with society so much... but if you take that step, all of a sudden you've separated yourself from human society in order to be able to move more effectively within it. You can be the perfect social predator but in order to do it you need to become a social predator. It makes a solid and irrefutable statement about the way Luna expects her Chosen to relate to the world.

Also, what does it do to the experience of meeting a Lunar as an NPC, forming an opinion about him based on how he acts and how he reacts to you, and then later, meeting someone else and realizing the new person you just met is the same Lunar, wearing a different face?

All that goes away if you can just tell yourself "Enh, he probably has the sex knack."

Keep in mind I also like Shun The Smiling Lady for Sidereals—specifically I like having it at the base of the Socialize cascade where players need to buy it to progress, and then it sits their on their character sheet saying "You spent XP on me, are you just going to let me go to waste?"

...

Now, obviously, we are not doing this. But, yes, I think a big part of the appeal of cannibalism-only Lunars is it puts constraints on the characters you can play that you may not be entirely comfortable with.

[#][F] Holden - 2/13/2013
phalamir wrote:
gattsuru wrote:
And it's kinda tedious that it's a 'young'-looking female Lunar Elders defined by sensuality like that.


Huh. Was just mentioning this to my wife last night: "3/4 of the named NPCs in Creation are redheads that either (a) look 16, (b) have bodacious ta-tas, or (c) both." I can only assume the original 1e team was full of people one Teen Gingers chatroom session away from jail time.


That would be entirely a 2e-ism in Raksi's case.

[#][F] Holden - 2/13/2013
Inugami wrote:
How the hell do you DO anything with backwards-bending hands, anyway? That always struck me as ridiculously awkward.


You mean your wrists don't flip all the way around? Mine do.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
Prometheus878 wrote:
I *think* I sort of get it. Tell me if I'm wrong:

Xmen tabletop rpg. Cyclops has his power, Optic Blast, and two "abilities" he derives from it on his character sheet: Focused shot and Wide beam. Focused shot increases penetration and strength, while Wide beam lets him attack multiple targets at once.

Jean Grey: "Wow, those are awesome new powers, Scott!"
Cyclops: "... What are you talking about?"
Jean Grey: "You just used two different powers, right? One big shot to take out that robot, and a vertical beamy thing to take out four guards."
Cyclops: "No, I just used my Optic Blast, same as always. I just figured out two different ways to use it, though."

Warmer or colder?


Yeah. The optic beam is one power that can be adjusted through the lens of a technique, to get different results. I guess in their mechanics, they made it seem like two powers, which seems kind of odd. But yeah.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
Jorlem wrote:

if a Solar knew both Glorious Solar Saber and Immaculate Golden Bow, would he be aware that these abilities/skills/superpowers/whatever aren't the same thing? And if he were to see another Solar use Glorious Solar Plate, would he know that this isn't something he could do, even though he can form other solid objects from his anima?


Yes he would know they are different. One comes out of his knowledge of a bow's weight, how to hold it, how to aim it, how it feels when the string is taut and the bow is oiled and the feather is notched. The other comes out of the sword as an outgrowth, an extension of his hand, his spirit. They are similar powers but come from different families of reason. He wouldn't ever feel like he has the power to form objects of light. Only the power to manifest pieces of his soul that he has spent a long time forging through skill and practice.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
kitsune9tails wrote:
John Mørke wrote:
They have a name and are considered a Charm because that's how we model a game and sell it and explain the power to people, not because Solars have a codex of pre-learned techniques they can all tell each other about. Again, outside of Martial Arts.


Is this point of view explicitly expressed in the book?
Or are you not overly concerned that many readers will see Charms and think 'spells'?
Also: Would/Should a Solar consider what a Lunar does (both inclusive and exclusive of Shapeshifting) to be magic?


Nah, I'm not really concerned about it.

I am talking about it because it undercuts the view that Exaltation is a power you're borrowing, rather than something that is fundamentally your own.

Charms are the only mechanical expression of your Exaltation, so they are, in fact, your Exaltation.

But they do not pre-exist you as if you are tapping into the eternal faucet. You are tapping yourself. It is your Essence. Charms are you. They are your skill. Your Exaltation.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
MissMaddy wrote:
John Mørke wrote:
I don't really dig the idea that characters think of skill as organized by 25 abilities, but I do understand why people derive fun from thinking of Charms as distinct standalone techniques they learn. It has a very kung fu feeling, that lends to the idea of communal powers.

If two guys have the same three Charms and combine them, though, if all Charms were techniques--that is, communal--the results would be exactly the same. However, any two Combos containing the same Charms done by two different people can manifest in extremely different ways. They are not doing a technique; they are just stacking multiple different proclivities into a singular display, whose manifestation depends completely on the character's traits--as in, his narrative traits, not his Traits.


I was influenced to this style primarily by Ninja Scrolls, actually!

A formative scene for me, in establishing the way I envisioned that Exalted regarded charms, was the one where the little old guy has turned into a tree branch and comments on the 'charm' he just saw another Ninja use. 'A strange technique' he muses.

In the movie, the characters seem to all have a few really distinctive supernatural tricks they've learned that set them apart from others and make them supernaturally powerful.

I can see your view too, just sharing what brought me to my own understanding.

1e Exalted kinda came out roughly the first time I was exposed to that film.


I agree totally when it comes to Martial Arts. It is unambiguous that Martial Arts Charms are a "thing." Whether they are thought of as Charms is unimportant. Characters might think of them like techniques...just like Ninja Scroll.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
MissMaddy wrote:
My weird and fanon solution to the 'Can I Percieve My Charms' is to say that people largely can.

The 25 constellations are real. The 25 abilities are more or less known to metaphysical savants. They believe in something more or less called 'Athletics' or an archetype that essentially functions as athletics. They understand the universe functions via these universal principles, largely due to the skill the High First Age had at decoding the secret nature of reality. Similarly, they understand Virtues and Attributes, though not in the same terms we do.

So, yeah - you learn an Athletics Technique. You may not be educated as to what it really is, but if you were going to a Solar Trainer of the High First Age... he would describe it to you as an Athletics technique. He could show you a chart of your 25 Ability Chakra and how much Essence you have flowing through each of them. He could describe to you when you would be 'Ready' to learn the next Athletics charm.

If the Solar has a good astrologer, and is fortunate in being examined, the character may in fact ICly more-or-less get a pretty accurate view of his 'Character Sheet'.

All of this is given ritual and religious trapping, of course, and made to feel very much like astrology in our own world does. Except, unlike astrology in our world, this has some scientific backing.

So, in my personal fanon, characters more-or-less can describe themselves ICly using very similar terms to what the players use OOCly.

'I cannot yet master the technique I desire. My performance chakra is underdeveloped - I need to perfect my kung fu and develop my skills to widen the channel and allow more of my essence to flow. Then, I will need to refine my core spirituality - my essence itself. Once I have achieved the fourth tier of understanding essence and the fifth tier of unlocking my performance chakra, I will be able to learn the technique. It will tax me to use it, however - six of my motes will be needed, and it will take focus.'

It's been convieniant and useful to me to have characters be able to reference these things. It's also not particularly cheesy to me - the Exalted /were/ pretty smart, and the secret code of the universe /does/ in fact revolve around 25 abilities on a character sheet.

I don't break the fourth wall or anything but I let the Exalted get REAL close.


I don't really dig the idea that characters think of skill as organized by 25 abilities, but I do understand why people derive fun from thinking of Charms as distinct standalone techniques they learn. It has a very kung fu feeling, that lends to the idea of communal powers.

If two guys have the same three Charms and combine them, though, if all Charms were techniques--that is, communal--the results would be exactly the same. However, any two Combos containing the same Charms done by two different people can manifest in extremely different ways. They are not doing a technique; they are just stacking multiple different proclivities into a singular display, whose manifestation depends completely on the character's traits--as in, his narrative traits, not his Traits.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
Gayo wrote:
I always felt like that was the aesthetic Solars (especially) were going for, but I have to say I was never that satisfied with the way the game modelled it. A lot of the charms feel like "spells", and the fluff reinforced this more than occasionally. This has been one of my main sources of dissatisfaction with the Solar charmset. To some extent I think it's just an inevitable side effect of modelling your talents as fixed-duration powers that cost magic points, and that's difficult to get around, but I also think the design of certain Charms has historically exacerbated it -- there are a lot of powers whose durations or action types are at odds with the image they're presenting, and many specific effects are hard to conceptualize as anything but "magic". It sounds like this has been given some attention in 3e, so I'm curious to see the results.


Yeah, but I don't let the mechanical framework bother me. It's there to make things easy, not to make them accurate. The mechanics actually make them look like distinct techniques. You may even learn them as if they were. But the thing to remember is that you can take Charms out of the equation and everything about the character doing them still makes sense. Because a Melee 5 character who is all about doing lightning fast strikes is going to be unloading all kinds of gross, impossible flurry attacks. They have a name and are considered a Charm because that's how we model a game and sell it and explain the power to people, not because Solars have a codex of pre-learned techniques they can all tell each other about. Again, outside of Martial Arts.

And I know we shorthand mote expenditure for magic, but that's also a simplification for the sake of the reader. I could take out motes and replace them with anything: Rage, Blood Points, Willpower, Gnosis, Chi, Energy, Momentum, Health, MP; any currency would serve to balance the cost of use portion of the system, and it would still be easier to shorthand it to magic.

It's worth noting that the Exalted point to Sorcery and describe it as magic and the people who practice it as magicians but do not think of themselves as wizards or magicians otherwise.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/13/2013
Hmm. Maybe we do need to cut the baby-eating. Not because it's in bad taste, but because people get hung up on it. I think that was always meant to be, like, a casual example of the sort of shit she gets up to, and not the defining example.

</half-facetious>

Anyway. I don't know if I buy into Raksi being secrently a philanthropic hero whose heroic and world-bettering actions should be tested against her cannibalism. That's not generally how these things work.

She's an awful person and a man-eating shapechanging monster from the depths of oh-my-god, and she acts as an irreplaceable storehouse of amazing magical knowledge and also a stabilizing regional power. Her death would both represent an incredible loss of knowledge and also kick off a huge regional struggle for the resources she guarded, resulting in much death and tragedy for the surrounding peoples.

Leaving aside the fact that she's not going to die quietly and that she's had since the COntagion to weave sorcerous defenses into Mahalanka -- God knows what fell powers will be freed upon her death -- the choice of whether to leave her alone or confront her for her crimes is the choice between continuing the broken legacy of the First Age or turning your face from it and trying to make something worthwhile from scratch, which sounds great until you consider all pain that entails, not just for you but for people who have no input on your decisions but who will nevertheless suffer for them no matter what you choose.

[#][F] John Mørke - 2/13/2013
Irked wrote:
notthepenguins wrote:

Charms don't feel like natural outgrowths of skill and rather like specific techniques you have learned because you need one to attack someone a half-dozen times in as many seconds (Iron Whirlwind), another to attack everyone within reach of your weapon (Peony Blossom), another to hit someone harder when you're sufficiently precise (Hungry Tiger), and yet another when you just want to hit the same person twice with each attack (One Weapon, Two Blows).

It has nothing to do with "The Charm is doing all the work for you." I have never once conceptualized a Charm as something separate from the user's own skills (excepting a few instances where I thought it would be cool to have a character develop a Charm entirely unconsciously).

Yeah, this is... kind of a weird assertion, John.


It's not weird at all.

Solar Charms originally had names like Extra Health Levels (Ox-Body Technique) and Multiple Attacks (Iron Whirlwind Attack), before Geoff went through and renamed them. He didn't change their functions, though. If you had Ox-Body Technique, you were playing a vital person with the constitution of an ox. If you had Iron Whirlwind Attack, you were just playing a guy who was really good at multiple attacks. Charms move in themed strings because they represent skill in certain areas. A character who is a walking blender is represented by putting 24 exp into the Multiple Attacks part of the tree; a guy who is about ki direction puts it into the Solar bolt side part of the tree. Each part of the tree is a simplification; a list of purchases that help to depict a character's skill from the lower end to the upper end.

Irked wrote:
Edit: Using Kenshin as an example of a Melee-focused Dawn for a moment - because that feels pretty unarguable - you get a very clear idea of a list of powers that are (a) discrete, memorizable techniques, and (b) still absolutely internal to the character when actually put in play. One doesn't have the sense that Kenshin is, for instance, pushing a "cut this dude" button - and yet he very clearly learns Iron Whirlwind as a discrete power over the course of the manga/anime.


Iron Whirlwind Attack, as I just demonstrated, doesn't exist as a distinct technique. It is just modeling your ability to strike multiple times.

If you took Kenshin's sword away and gave him a grimcleaver, he wouldn't know what to do with it. So he is clearly not using Iron Whirlwind Attack. His technique actually depends on a sword. Whereas, Iron Whirlwind Attack, which is named deceptively like a technique, is really just Multiple Attacks and could be described as "Buy this to depict a character who can flurry his weapon. Any weapon."

The kung fu presentation is there to be cool, but that's all it is.