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Bedlamdan
Apr 25, 2008


Monathin posted:

Yeah, I'm not sure if I entirely agree with you, but I get it. It's like. We know Alchemicals and Infernals are still a thing. We know that they're going to probably get a book. But at the same time I can see OPP not wanting to put them in a book because they already have to write up two new Exalted types (Liminals and Exigents), and they're likely having to rewrite Infernals from the ground up to not alienate their audience, and rewrite Sidereals due to the fact that John Chambers actively sabotaged their 2e splat.

So on one hand, I can see them not wanting to put the rest in due to the idea that theyve got more to work on that theyre putting front and center. On the other, it's still kind of really loving frustrating.

It's also possible that the other splats may not be getting their own, singular book, but rather have shorter setting fluff/rules/charm text and share a book with one or two other splats.

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Monathin
Sep 1, 2011


Bedlamdan posted:

It's also possible that the other splats may not be getting their own, singular book, but rather have shorter setting fluff/rules/charm text and share a book with one or two other splats.

I'm not sure you could actually do that here and have it still work. I haven't really gone into detail about it yet because we haven't got there, but the Charm list in this book is massive. There's no more "only four charms in this ability" like in 2e. The Solar book is 630 pages, and of those, Charms take up 175 or them (closer to 250 if you count Sorceries/Martial Arts paths). If you tried to do two splats in one book and keep the same level of Charm diversity, you'd been looking at probably a book the same size as this, if not larger.

e: To explain this, I've glanced through the vast majority of the Charm Lists and each one could probably be their own post (and might if I have the energy to do that, because I honestly love looking at these charms).

Monathin fucked around with this message at 09:56 on Apr 22, 2016

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Alien Rope Burn posted:

The fact that they don't name the types that have already gotten multiple splatbooks in previous editions - or not naming future splats they have planned out - I found insufferably smug. This isn't the '90s, and it's no longer charming, if it ever was.

'Insufferably smug' basically describes Exalted to a T, though.

Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


Wapole Languray posted:


Character Creation
Couple notes in this section that I really like:

quote:

One Roll is more unique, but itís boring to explain: Roll 11d10, check all the set results and waste die on a series of charts that tells you what sorta stuff you get.
A little bit more detail on this which makes it, I think, the best conceived random character generator I've ever seen.

First off, it's completely balanced. Every outcome in the roll generator is worth 5 character points, with matched sets basically being with Widthx5 points, since each level of Width incorporates the stats granted to it by the lower levels. It also starts every character out with 2d in every Stat, which is the baseline for competency in ORE. The result is that the random char-gen system always pumps out 85 point characters of (mathematically at least) equal power to each other.

Within the system itself, Matched Sets basically give you Careers (assuming that "Beggar" and "Royal Blood" can be considered careers), while your Waste Dice are unusual events that have occurred in your life, such as being Exiled, working as a Gladiator, Kidnapped by Barbarians or Surviving a Hideous Occult Ritual. A couple of my favorites:

Served the Decadent Rich: Maybe you played the nose-fl ute behind a screen in a brothel, or were the towel steward at the Empressí private bathworks, or were the door guard at the royal seraglio. Whatever, you got to see societyís best at their worst.
+1 Fascinate, +2 Graces, +1 Plead, +1 Lie

Love Triangle: At some point, you were in love with her and she was in love with him. Or maybe she was in love with him and he was in love with you. Or maybe they were both in love with you and you didnít want either. Whatever happened, there were lots of hurt feelings and regrets and probably at least one really embarrassing public scene.
Beauty (3), +1 Lie, +1 Plead, Mission: Find True Love

Vengeance Quest: They murdered your father! (Or maybe it was your husband, or sister, or child.) Youíve spent years honing yourself into an engine of vengeance. Now they must pay!
+2 Sword, the first two techniques of a Martial Path. The Path is up to you, but it must relate to Sword, Dodge or Parry.

(Stolze kind of dropped the ball a little bit here, since there's only actually one Martial Path in the REIGN core book pertaining to Sword, which is REIGN's iaido-inspired Path of the Razor Heart. It's not as a bad as the aforementioned Gladiator event, which grants you Martial Techniques in Spear, Dodge or Parry when there's never been ANY Spear paths in any official REIGN product)

And of course everyones favorite:

His Majestyís Personal Cobbler: You made the most beautiful, most comfortable, most durable shoes in the entire kingdom, and as a result you are one of the relatively few people to have seen the monarch barefoot. Do you still have this exalted position? If not, what happened? If so, whereíd all your money get to? (This result gives you a Skill in Student: Cobbler that costs more than you should really get from a single die, butÖ come on, itís cobbling. You can make and fix shoes and other leather goods and thatís it. Itís not quite the lifesaver that a 4+MD Dodge Skill can be.)
+4+MD Student: Cobbler.

What's so cool about the system is that it doesn't just generate stats, it generates a character's entire history in a single dice roll, but since there's nothing telling you which event has to follow another, two characters with the exact same rolls, as unlikely as that is, can still have completely different backgrounds.

quote:

Advantages

[*]Beauty: Youíre gorgeous! Thereís three levels of this advantage, each giving a bigger bonus. With Beauty, whenever you roll the Fascinate (General charm and socialization) or Graces ( Etiquette and Protocol) skills, you can raise any set to a minimum. The one point beauty is a minimum height of 3, meanwhile the 5 point version bumps that up to a minimum of 10. Yeah, if you get 5 point Beauty, as long as you roll a set you canít fail Fascinate or Graces rolls, and by definition at minimum tie any contests or opposed rolls.
Yeah I found it kind of odd that Beauty straight-up auto increases the Height of those skills, full stop. It apparently doesn't matter how actually charming or courtly you are-- you can be a total social failure and still get auto 10s whenever your roll Graces if you have Beauty (5). Any game that uses this Advantage really should have caveats attached to it that it should only work when it appearances really count.

quote:

[*]Cannibal Smile: You have abnormally strong jaws and sharpened teeth. You can perform a nasty bite attack in combat, and get a bonus to Intimidate rolls thanks to your scary smile.
I always found this Advantage weird, but it actually says a lot about the setting that it's the kind of place where someone might have their teeth sharpened to be more vicious in battle. It especially makes sense when you read about one of the Nations, the Truil Tribes.

quote:

[*]Knack for Learning: You pick a skill, and improving that skill now costs 1 XP less. This is a bad advantage, because thereís no reason to NOT pick it on your most-used skill. Every character would want this, no exceptions, as it would save you XP in the long run guaranteed. Though itís only worth it if you know youíll be maxing that skill out, so itís not too broken. But, if you wanna specialize in a particular thing? This is a no-brainer.
Let's do the math here:

This comes up later, but to improve a skill after character creation, you spend XP equal to the next rank in the Skill that you're going for. So to level a skill from 2d to 3d, you spend 3 XP. as a result, it costs 15XP to bring a Skill from 0d to 5d, or indeed 14XP to go from 1d to 5d.

Now if you take this advantage, you're sacrificing another 1d in a Stat, a Master Die or straight-up buying 5d in a Skill. In return, you're reducing the cost of maxing out a 1d skill from 14 to 10 XP (1+2+3+4=10 instead of 2+3+4+5=14). Then again, you can promote a Skill die to ED for free (a 1 point saving) and an ED to MD for 4 XP instead of 5, so that does offset it, but really the math is pretty close to breaking even. I suppose the real draw here is how fast do you think you'll be accruing XP? If you're hitting your Problems regularly and completing missions, it might not take that long. On the whole, yes you might as well take it on your most-used skill, but I'm not sure it's as completely unbalanced as you say. It's really just a deferred cost.

quote:

Secret of the Dinda (4 Pts.): The swords that gave a nation its name are the finest known to mankind. They undoubtedly give an advantage to the nation that developed them, but more, thereís a point of pride in keeping outsiders from making swords of equal quality. A character must have at least an ED or five points in the Expert: Blacksmith Skill to learn the Secret of the Dinda. (Dinda are Not-Valyrian Steel, essentially. Swords made out of special metal.)
Dindas are also pretty explicitly Katanas, although I think the official art I've seen on the REIGN-wiki makes them look like a cross between hanzo steel and a Shamshir.

quote:

Problems
Problems are your general disadvantages, get them to get bonus XPs fi they cause problems. Except they donít give you the XP at character creation. You get them for free, up to 3, but they only give you XP when they actually come up in the game to cause issues. If they never come up, you get no XP. Also, the Problems are all amazing.
Problems are pretty much the best application of Flaws to REIGN's Advantages/Merit system. Like in 7th Sea, it recognizes that things like having a Hated Enemy really are just ways for you to get more spotlight, so it doesn't award you with refunded character points. It's just a mechanized way to build those elements into your character's background, and I really like it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




I really like Reign's character creation. My only beef with it is that played straight, one-roll generation is likely to give you a lot of pools at that 4-5 die threshold.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




No Thank You, Evil! (2)

So, let's talk about making characters. NTYE follows the standard Cypher System format for characters: they're defined by a sentence that reads "I'm an adjective noun who verbs." Fill in all three blanks, and you've made your character.

Unfortunately, this section also has one of the biggest blunders in the system. NTYE has three "play levels", to be used according to the age of the players and the experience of the Guide. For some reason they are identified using symbols: Triangle level is for children around 4 and inexperienced Guides, Square level is for 6-10 with some experience, and Circle level is for 8-14 and experienced Guides. The main difference that the level makes is in how complicated the characters are. At Triangle level, you only get to pick a noun, so your character is just "I'm a something." At Square, you get the adjective to, so "I'm a somethingy something." And at Circle, you get the full monte of "I'm a somethingy something who somethings." Why is this a blunder? We shall see.

Noun

In all of the previous Cypher System games, there were exactly three nouns you could pick from, and they were always the same in every system: "Fighter with a silly name", "Mage with a silly name", and "Rogue with a silly name". It was a great way of not adding anything interesting or innovative to the game while at the same time making it hard for the player to connect with the high concept inherent in these character types: "I'm a bold, brave, badass.. uh.. vector."

Fortunately, NTYE has the best set of Nouns of any Cypher game. They're all high concept and clear, they're flexible, and they're easy to identify. They're also simplified: they give you your starting stat spread, tell you which form of Defense you use, and give you a Knack, which allows you to spend a point to auto-succeed at any given type of task. Defense comes in two forms: Armor (subtract 1 from all damage you take) and Hustle (lower the difficulty of defending by 1), and each noun gets one of these two... although since most things do 2 damage it seems that armor is just plain better.

Each noun also gets an illustrative artwork, which are.. weird. It looks like they've taken a cartoon image of a character and then tried to fit a real child's face into it from a photograph. This actually looks quite good most of the time, but sometimes it can jump down the uncanny valley, especially when the child's face is from a Kickstarter backer's photo.



Here are the nouns. Since this game is pretty recent, I won't give the full stat spread for each Noun to avoid summoning rabid Lawyers; I'll just give the highest stats they have. Everyone has a total of 10 stat points split between the four stats.

Astronaut (Smart 4): you love exploring space. You wear your space suit which gives you Armor. Unfortunately your Knack is incredibly confusing for being the first one in the book. It reads:

quote:

Cost 1: When you want to jump, leap, or otherwise leave the ground, you succeed.

So hang on, would jumping normally be opposed? (Doesn't seem so) Does it mean you can jump to any height, or just literally "leave the ground"? Can you fly? I could understand it being kinda fun to give an Astronaut a personal zero-gravity bubble, but if that's what this is supposed to represent it definitely needed to be better worded. Note that there are no rules at all for actually exploring space or having a spaceship.

Creature (Tough 4): you're some kind of wild creature - or, if you prefer, a human wearing a creature suit. You have a tough hide that gives you Armor, and for 1 Tough you can roar at a bad guy and scare them. Which sounds good except there's also a list of creatures you might be, and one of them is "Bunny". Cue Holy Grail jokes.

Fighter (Tough 5): you're a fighter and use weapons and um, that's about all the description you get. You get Armor from.. um.. the Armor you wear. But it officially "makes you look cool" too, so that's alright, and it doesn't matter that the guy in the illustration is just wearing a gi. For 1 Tough, you can shout "Knockout!" and knockout a bad guy who's already hurt. This doesn't defeat them, though - it makes him lose his next turn. As we shall see, this is rubbish.

Kid (Fast/Awesome 3): oh, come on. Kid!? Everyone in this game is supposed to be a kid. In fact, the backstory is that the real children found a portal in their wardrobe or something similar which took them to a magical land where they become someone else. Even the person writing the description has trouble with this, saying that you like doing "kid things" and doing "regular kid stuff". You get Hustle because you're quick and dodge around, and you can spend 1 Fast to "jump, climb, or leap" but this time there's an explicit note that this "allows you to scramble up and over things". Screw you, Astronaut!

Pirate (Fast 4): Surprisingly, the description says you're an actual pirate - "a thief and a scoundrel, but once someone is part of your crew, you're their best protector and friend. But everyone else had better watch their pockets!". This seems a bit odd, given that most children's pirates I remember mostly just sail around and look for buried treasure (which I suppose is technically stealing but still..) You get Hustle because you're tricky, and you can spend 1 Fast to open any locked chest or box.

Princess/Prince (Awesome 5): you're royalty, or at least you act like it. People like you and you know plenty of people who can do things. You have Awesome 5 and a total of 5 between your other stats. Remember that Awesome is only used for helping people and the text explicitly says that NTYE "can work with only one player". So if your daughter picks this for her first solo game she's going to end up very, very upset. You get Hustle because.. uh, you don't wear armor I guess.. and for 1 Smart you can charm a bad guy into not attacking you for one round. Yes, that's 1 Smart - this is the first noun which doesn't get to use its highest stat to power its Knack. A Princess' Smart is 2. I don't know if the author had an ulterior motive of teaching girls that princesses are pretty useless, but still..

Robot (Tough/Smart 3): you're exactly that, a robot of any kind you like, from a little floating orb to a complete android. You have Armor from being made of metal, and for 1 Smart you can say "Beep boop!" and automatically figure out the answer to a problem. Ew, boy. I hope your Guide knows what they're doing or that's going to create a whole lot of short circuits.

Spy (Fast/Smart 3): you're sneaky and stealthy and like finding out secrets. You wear a ninja outfit but you're quick so you get Hustle, and for 1 Fast, you can curl up in a ball and "stay hidden". That's what the book says, not "hide", but "stay hidden". I guess they're trying to avoid someone just curling up in a ball in the middle of a spotlight, but still, it could be clearer. By the way, there's no rules for perception.

Superhero (Tough 4): you're super strong and want to help protect people. You have Armor from your super toughness, and for 1 Tough, you can yell "I'll save the day!" and succeed at any Tough action that isn't fighting. The game suggests that you can play a specific superhero if you want to by changing the noun, but you're going to be a bit stick if you use this noun to play Spider-man.

Wizard (Fast 4): oh god, it's a magic user in Cypher. For a change, though, we don't have blatant caster supremacy, and there's no massive list of spells. Wizards get Hustle from being able to glitch around, and for 1 Smart, they can "make someone see something that isn't there". And you might have a magic wand as a weapon, but it does the same damage as everything else. Fair enough, except for this being the second class with a Knack that isn't driven by their primary stat - although they're not quite as hosed as Princesses, because they have Smart 3.

As well as the basic stuff from their noun, everyone gets one weapon of their choice (which does 2 points of damage), and a Hero Kit. This includes a map of Storia to find your way around, a Journal to write your adventures and a flashlight pen to write with, a hip flask for drinking, a shirt with a "no evil" logo on it, and a Wet Wellie. Which is actually a water pistol (and a ranged weapon) but shows that the authors didn't allow for UK children's slang. (Also, you can tell your kids that they could have had a real Hero Kit if only you'd backed the Kickstarter.) To put this stuff in, you get an I Gotcher Back Pack, which is a living creature which clings on to your back and carries all your stuff. It can take stuff from you to store, hand you stuff when you ask, and warn you when someone's sneaking up behind you.

If you're playing with really young kids at Triangle level, that's it. If you're playing at Square or higher, you get to pick..

Adjectives

And these are really, really, simple in this game. All of them do the same thing: they let you add 1 to a stat. Several of them are duplicated, as you'd expect given that there are only 4 stats. Being Powerful or Super Strong adds 1 to Tough; being Sneaky or, uh, Fast adds 1 to Fast; being Super Smart or Cool adds 1 to Smart; being Fantastic or Kind adds 1 to Awesome.

You can also probably see the terrible blunder made with the play levels. See, they've reasoned that to play with younger children, you should have simpler character generation, so there should be less aspects of the character to track. But they haven't allowed for the fact that all of those extra aspects are also power ups, so doing without them makes the actual play of the game harder - and makes Guiding much harder, because the Guide is more likely to have to deal with a nervous child who has just rolled a 1 on something important. No, there is no adjustment to any of the difficulties for playing at lower play levels. In fact, even worse, the game suggests that when playing at Triangle level the Guide should give the exact difficulty number before the roll, whereas Square or Circle players may only be given a rough idea. That means that Triangle level Guides are explicitly banned from retroactively fudging the difficulty level to prevent little Johnny plunging off a cliff. Nice one

Now, for Circle level players, they get one more thing: the verb phrase, called the Descriptor. And if you thought the Adjective was a power-up, well, wait until you see these. I'm pretty sure that players aged 8-12 are quite capable of spotting when a game is broken. And they're going to spot this.

Descriptors

What your descriptor does is to give you a Talent, which is a special action you can take any time. Usually, Talents don't require a roll. Many of them are utterly broken. Let's see:

Bashes Evil: you like getting rid of evil stuff. Your talent lets you inflict 1 extra point of damage against anyone evil, provided you yell "I smite you!" on your regular attack. If you pick this, you are wrong.

Does Magic: you can do magic, although oddly you don't have to be a wizard. Your talent lets you blow on your fingers and charm a bad guy for 1 round to "think it's your best friend". And here we hit the problem: talents can be used without a roll, and an unlimited number of times. So you can essentially remove single enemy from a fight, and most fights in NTYE tend to be against single opponents. But we aren't at the apex yet. No, we don't have caster supremacy, we have..

Eats Ice Cream: Ice cream supremacy. The description says that you might just wear an ice cream cone hat or know a lot about ice cream, but the talent implies that you actually carry an unlimited supply of ice cream around with you. See, you can take a bite of ice cream, and give an opponent brain freeze, which deals 1 damage to them and makes them lose their next turn. Unlimited. No roll. Stunlock+dot. I mean, ok, it's a children's game, but do they really believe they're not going to notice that someone can just hang back and eat ice cream and mysteriously defeat anything in a few actions?

Experiments with Science: you like doing funky science experiments in labs. You can throw an "experiment" (ahem) into the air and it explodes, doing 1 point of damage to all creatures In Range. Which probably includes your friends.

Flies Through The Sky: if you want to actually fly, this lets you do it. The Soar action says that you can "jump into the air and fly around really high and fast for 1 round. While you're up there, your attack inflicts an extra 1 point of damage". It's not quite clear how you'd attack while Soaring since using a Talent consumes your action and it only lasts for the one round in which you do it, but hey. Oh, and screw you, Astronauts.

Loves Ooey Gooey Things: you like snails, slime, mud, and similar things. Your talent lets you throw a ball of slime at your friend, covering them and giving them an extra point of damage reduction for the round. So I hope all the other players like slime, too.

Loves Pizza: is exactly the same as Eats Ice Cream but with pizza. You can throw pizza at the enemy causing them to take 1 damage and be distracted by the smell for 1 round. Oddly, throwing pizza at someone you might think would hurt as a result of it being hot or having sticky cheese, but instead the description says it "slices and dices the foe"! Fear the sharpened pizza.

Plays Video Games: you "know your way around a controller and a screen". Your talent is that if you focus very hard, you can find an "easter egg" - something hidden such as a door, chest, or treasure. Ok, this is at the experienced Guide level, but remember, you can do this as many times as you like. Whenever you like. Including multiple times in a row.

Reads Great Books: you love reading adventure books. Your talent is that you can summon a hero from a story out of their book to help with you anything that isn't fighting, and they lower your Goal by 1.

Runs Like The Wind: your movement thresholds are doubled, so you can move 50' and still act, or move 100' as your whole action. This seems.. oddly technical and specific for this game, and for the range-band based movement.

Sings and Dances: you like entertaining people. If you take an action to entertain your friends, you lower all their Goals by 1 for one round. In other words, you have an unlimited Awesome pool. The game suggests that Princesses often Sing and Dance, but they don't if they have any sense or actually want to enjoy the game..

There's one more thing to create, too, although it's just a choice. Everyone, regardless of the play level, gets a..

Companion

At Triangle level, you just choose a companion who goes with you for fun. At the higher levels, companions have.. Cyphers. Cyphers are one-shot abilities your companion can use and are called Cyphers for no reason other than that they sort of resemble the Cyphers (restricted-use low-power magic items) from the other games in the series. When a companion uses a Cypher, it loses it, and in order to give it a new one you have to feed it a Treat. Everyone starts with 3 Treats, and you can find more as you explore. There's a list of possible companions, but they don't have stats ("I hide behind my companion!" Oh, great..) so they're just descriptions.

Awesome Alien: You have an alien friend who follows you around. You're not sure where he came from, and most people can't understand him, but you can. The suggested treat for an alien is "Tiny Planets". You may actually be being followed by Cthulhu.

Big Bad Wolf: Well, it's not big and bad to you, but it's a badass when you need it to be. By which we mean it totally isn't because companions can't fight.

Clumsy Ghost: it's a friendly ghost who keeps falling over and banging its toes on things. Bad guys still find it scary, by which they mean they don't because companions... ah, screw it.

Dust Bunny: you.. like a dust bunny. That's literally all it says.

Fast Car: oh, seriously? Yes, you have a car which follows you around. It may end up with a Cypher which allows it to sing. If you want to drive it or run a bad guy over, it's your Guide's best guess what happens. Oh, and the treat is to feed it "juice boxes filled with gas". Cute! I light one and throw it..

Fiery Dragon: it follows you around and you've trained it to only breathe fire when you ask it to. The Treat for it is "crispy critters". Yay, your companion eats the dead!

Flying Octopus: well, he doesn't actually fly. He's just really good at climbing and jumping around.

Invisible Friend: no-one knows they exist except you. But they can still do stuff.

Little Brother/Sister: they come with you on your adventures. It's suggested you could reskin this into any other person or relative who wants to help you out. As usual, they're a companion so they can't do anything.

Pretty Pony: Yes. Next.

Robot Dog: a friendly robot dog who makes up new tricks. The text says that you could use it for a regular dog as well.. but the text for Little Brother/Sister says the same thing. Why they don't just say "make up a companion" I don't know.

Scary Monster: Well, he's not that scary once you get to know him. His treat is "monster munch" which is an actual real brand name snack in the UK, so they've made an unintentional product placement.

Tiny T. Rex: a little dinosaur who likes to ride around in your pack. He can still be fierce, though.

So, what's probably more interesting is the Cyphers, which are the abilities that companions can use. You ask your companion to use their Cypher, and they do. When they've used it, it's gone; when you feed them a treat, they get a new random Cypher which the guide chooses by "drawing a card from the cypher deck". Each of the companions has a suggested starting Cypher which fits with what they are: so the Tiny T. Rex can grow big and roar, the Invisible Friend can turn you invisible too, the Fast Car can pick you up to save you from damage, the Little Brother can tell a joke that inspires you... but once that's used, their next Cyphers are random. Which can lead to some.. surreal combinations, as we'll see.

Best Buds: they and their friends carry you and your friends back to your base. Give this to your Tiny T. Rex!
Big Ears: any time it hears something dangerous in range, it tells you.
Bubbler: blows bubbles at your friends which add 1 to all their Fast pools.
Burp: burps so loud it deafens everyone within reach. There are no rules for being deafened. Give this to your Fast Ca.. actually no, that's hilarious.
Deflector: throws up a shield that sends all the damage "back to the bad guy".
Disguise: makes you look like someone else.
Embiggen: grows to giant size and stomps on someone for 3 points of damage. Give this to your Invisible Friend for random horrific explosion.
Enflame: spits flame that does 2 points of damage to everything Within Reach. Um.. we don't have any rules for where Companions move relative to their owners. I hope they don't have to stay too close. Give this to your Pretty Pony.
Free Ride: on your defend action, it runs over and picks you up to avoid damage.
Great Game: refill all your pools without spending a Fun.
Hat Trick: turns itself into a hat. If you put on the hat, it makes you invisible. Give this to your Little Brother.
Key: "Reshapes its hand, foot, or other body part into a key" to open anything locked. Give this to your Fast Car.
Knock-Knock: tells you a joke which cheers you up so much you gain 2 Awesome. Give this to your Fast Car, too.
Know Globe: they produce a rainbow coloured globe. The text reads: "Shake the globe and ask it one question (Goal 3) and you will get an honest answer." Um.. Goal 3? So you don't always get an honest answer? What stat are we supposed to be rolling? Is this a skill roll to ask a question? Fuh.
Lifesaver: same as Free Ride.
Living Rope: stretches into a living rope. You can "ask the living rope to do anything a normal rope would do, and it will do that for you". Since a normal rope can't do anything much but lie on the ground, I guess.. ok, that's pedantic, but the wording could be better. It's up with "can see in the dark as well as a human can".
Lullaby: sings a lullaby and puts all creatures Within Reach to sleep for one round. Again, hope you tell it to move away first.
No See 'Em: makes your whole group invisible.
Shake It Off: picks you up by the feet and shakes you until you feel better, and you gain 2 Tough. Give this to your Tiny T. Rex for a confusing image, or your Invisible Friend for a rather strange display.
Spark: Shoots a bad guy with a bolt of lightning that does 3 damage. So, same as Embiggen.
Spew Goo: Spits goo out of its mouth that covers the ground and sticks everything In Range in place. Usual problem with companion ranges. Draw this for a Pretty Pony if you like upsetting the owner of the pony.
Spiderweb: Coats your hands and feet with web so you can walk on walls and ceilings.
Squeeze: Squeezes an item until it opens. So the same as Key.
Starshine: Glows in the dark, so everyone in your group can see as if it was daytime. You just know I want you to give this to an Invisible Friend, right?
Startle: Sneaks up behind a bad guy In Range and scares it so it tries to run away. Give this to your Invisible Friend for confusion, or a Fast Car if you want to re-enact that one South Park episode.
Tough Stuff: You stick your thumb in its mouth and it blows, making your muscles huge. Get 2 to your Tough pool and, if you're old enough, remember Tex Avery.
Trick: adds 1 to one of your friends' trait pools of their choice.
Trickster: does a trick for you, adding 2 to your Smart pool. It.. um, would have been nice to have thought of a different name for this..
Tell Spell: casts a spell that makes one other creature answer two questions honestly. La la Invisible Friend.

So, that's pretty much all there is to character generation - there is equipment too, but you don't get enough money to buy it at character generation, so not to worry. Next, we'll look at that equipment and a bit of the setting.

Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


Oh, one more REIGN Character Gen option that I missed, which is actually my favorite of the bunch:

quote:

Magnificent Garden: You had a really great garden, once. It was your pride and joy. It brought you happiness and tranquility. Now, itís gone.
+5 Student: Plants and Herbs

It's so evocative. What happened to it? How do you feel about it? What are you going to do about it? Truly countless storytelling possibilities await.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Strange Matter posted:

(Stolze kind of dropped the ball a little bit here, since there's only actually one Martial Path in the REIGN core book pertaining to Sword, which is REIGN's iaido-inspired Path of the Razor Heart. It's not as a bad as the aforementioned Gladiator event, which grants you Martial Techniques in Spear, Dodge or Parry when there's never been ANY Spear paths in any official REIGN product)

Actually a slight correction but there is one, it didn't appear until the fifth ransomed supplement he released though, the one dealing with the Ruhini Desert. It's called Spearman Squad and despite the name it works perfectly fine solo up until the fourth level, but otherwise it's a path for fighting with a spear in one hand and shield in the other.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Also the implication of Spearman Squad is that Spears are covered under weapon: Polearm, which means the Black Thirst from Supplement One also works with spears. (Admittedly, given the Sunless plains, it's probably more intended to be used with a stylish weaponized scythe or something.)

Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


Drat, I knew about the Black Thirst, but I forgot about the Spearman Squad.

That said, it's pretty easy to create your own Martial Paths, which I think is the implication here.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Monathin posted:

Yeah, I'm not sure if I entirely agree with you, but I get it. It's like. We know Alchemicals and Infernals are still a thing. We know that they're going to probably get a book.

It'll be well into the 2020s before that happens, even given what feels like exceedingly optimistic napkin projections of a book this year and one more per year in the future. Dragon-Blooded was scheduled for Summer 2015, after all, so it's running nearly a year late at this point. And the idea that it'll only be 220 pages seems bizarre given Solars get around 175 pages of core charms. I think one of the big practical issues with the current charm design is that it's so bloated and overwrought that it feels like each splat will take an exceedingly long time to come out. I'd love to be proven wrong, of course, but they've created a herculean design task in making what may be potentially the most crunch-heavy core game of all time.

What I mean by that is that while games like Pathfinder may add book after book of crunch, very little of it is necessary, but Exalted has a defined setting where each splatbook is essentially illuminating rules necessary to the core game. I can't really think of another game with that level of ambition - not even stuff like the original Deadlands which relied on you buying more softcovers (and a boxed set or two) to unlock certain in-setting character options. The thing is that White Wolf could manage it because A) they could just pluck out a freelancer and throw them at a project and B) they didn't really hold much in the way of playtesting or rules rigor, so they could just pump out books as part of their publishing treadmill without really caring about quality. For all my disagreements with 3e's rules (and they are aplenty), the Onyx Path writers actually do seem to seriously care about what they're publishing. And strangely enough, that feels like it could be their undoing to me.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Alien Rope Burn posted:

And strangely enough, that feels like it could be their undoing to me.
This is one of the weird catches to RPG publishing - the way that actually quality doesn't really affect sales much, one way or another. There's a certain minimal (very minimal, sometimes) level of quality you need to meet to have a viable product, but after that any effort towards raising the quality (by putting in a really good index, or holding it off for two months to get in another round of playtesting, or another fine-toothed copy-editing pass through the manuscript) is just money and time wasted as far as sales impact is concerned. WW, in its glory days, made game books with useless tables of contents and indices, page XX copyediting errors, mechanical crunch added with seemingly no playtesting, and only vague compatibility with the rest of the product line. And they sold just fine. If WW put double the effort into those books, they'd be rewarded with much, much less thatn double the sales. So why bother?

gourdcaptain
Nov 16, 2012



And yet the Exalted 3e books for all that care, still littered with rules ambiguity and the natural language issues. Exalted 3e rules text just drags for me trying to sort through all the fluff in the charms... And then I miss the fluff that's actually rules text.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


FMguru posted:

So why bother?

A friend of mine once theorized that to have a massively popular RPG, you want some major flaws, because those invite discussion (and keep the game in people's minds), and get people to invest in the game by "fixing" it. This may or may not be actually true, but it does seem that popular games rarely have elegant rules. A lot of that just may have to do with nostalgia, though, with people harkening back to earlier, less refined examples of design, rather than an innate trait of flawed systems in general. It may have more to do with marketing than rules. But it's hard to find a popular game without serious rules issues going on, in any case.

Bikindok
May 3, 2012


Monathin posted:

Yeah, I'm not sure if I entirely agree with you, but I get it. It's like. We know Alchemicals and Infernals are still a thing. We know that they're going to probably get a book. But at the same time I can see OPP not wanting to put them in a book because they already have to write up two new Exalted types (Liminals and Exigents), and they're likely having to rewrite Infernals from the ground up to not alienate their audience, and rewrite Sidereals due to the fact that John Chambers actively sabotaged their 2e splat.

So on one hand, I can see them not wanting to put the rest in due to the idea that theyve got more to work on that theyre putting front and center. On the other, it's still kind of really loving frustrating.
Could you elaborate on those points? I don't really follow Exalted stuff, but that sounds like an absolute mess and I'm curious.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





gourdcaptain posted:

And yet the Exalted 3e books for all that care, still littered with rules ambiguity and the natural language issues. Exalted 3e rules text just drags for me trying to sort through all the fluff in the charms... And then I miss the fluff that's actually rules text.

White Wolf / Onyx Path really really need to do the thing where you write 1) paragraph of fluff, 2) blank line, 3) dry formal rules text. Preferably with the fluff in italics or another font or something. They love giving this huge block of text about how your sword totally looks like a sweet-rear end dragon made of lightning slicing through a block of ice as you shout about retribution or something... and then mentioning offhandedly somewhere in the middle that they don't get to apply their Parry DV to it. Above and beyond the confusion of whether things are rules or fluff (when it says my fury is "unquenchable," are they being poetic, or does that mean I'm actually immune to effects that would quench it?), it also makes it super hard to reference things quickly.

Monathin
Sep 1, 2011


Bikindok posted:

Could you elaborate on those points? I don't really follow Exalted stuff, but that sounds like an absolute mess and I'm curious.

For the latter: John Chambers was the developer and author on Exalted 2e and a noted HUGE fanboy of Solar Exalted in particular. According to popular rumor, he only did a Sidereal book because he was told to, and his design document for it was essentially the same for the Lunars, with 'Sidereal' find/replaced and a few paragraphs changed.

For the Infernals... well, it's best you read that for yourself.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

megane posted:

White Wolf / Onyx Path really really need to do the thing where you write 1) paragraph of fluff, 2) blank line, 3) dry formal rules text. Preferably with the fluff in italics or another font or something. They love giving this huge block of text about how your sword totally looks like a sweet-rear end dragon made of lightning slicing through a block of ice as you shout about retribution or something... and then mentioning offhandedly somewhere in the middle that they don't get to apply their Parry DV to it. Above and beyond the confusion of whether things are rules or fluff (when it says my fury is "unquenchable," are they being poetic, or does that mean I'm actually immune to effects that would quench it?), it also makes it super hard to reference things quickly.
The last time a major fantasy RPG did that, it was D&D4E, and grognards lost their poo poo about the rules being simple, clear, well-defined, and following an established template.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Mostly because it meant that spellcasters could no longer rules lawyer their way into becoming demigods because someone got lazy with their wording in one spell.

That's how we got the Locate City Bomb.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Alien Rope Burn posted:

A friend of mine once theorized that to have a massively popular RPG, you want some major flaws, because those invite discussion (and keep the game in people's minds), and get people to invest in the game by "fixing" it. This may or may not be actually true, but it does seem that popular games rarely have elegant rules. A lot of that just may have to do with nostalgia, though, with people harkening back to earlier, less refined examples of design, rather than an innate trait of flawed systems in general. It may have more to do with marketing than rules. But it's hard to find a popular game without serious rules issues going on, in any case.
There's definitely no correlation (and possibly an anti-correlation) between the quality of a game's mechanics and its sales. The three best-selling RPGs of all time are D&D, Vampire, and RIfts, and all three of them have terrible, hole-filled, archaic mechanics.

One of the signature traits of the heartbreaker is the way its creators insist that their game will sell a zillion copies because its rules are so much better than AD&D or Vampire, not understanding the total disconnect between sales and the quality of the mechanics.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Kurieg posted:

Mostly because it meant that spellcasters could no longer rules lawyer their way into becoming demigods because someone got lazy with their wording in one spell.

That's how we got the Locate City Bomb.

Grogs are always going to seek ways to rules lawyer their way into becoming demigods.

I'd think the dragonwrought kobold thing would be a better example than the Locate City Bomb, which I think is just an amusing confluence of mechanics never intended to be used together.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


I meant more "lazy writing" helped contribute to that, because the frost spell metamagic feat never actually checked to see if the spell that it was modifying actually did damage in the first place. That's the piece that breaks everything because it turns a completely harmless utility spell with a massive radius into a genocide facilitator.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Monathin posted:

For the latter: John Chambers was the developer and author on Exalted 2e and a noted HUGE fanboy of Solar Exalted in particular. According to popular rumor, he only did a Sidereal book because he was told to, and his design document for it was essentially the same for the Lunars, with 'Sidereal' find/replaced and a few paragraphs changed.

This is largely incorrect. As far as I know, Chambers had no coherent design agenda aside from "hire a bunch of writers who produce copy on time and let them do whatever they want." Sidereals 2e was largely the work of Carl Bowen.

Okay, so. Sidereals 1e was by Jenna Moran and was, therefore, widely regarded as a masterpiece of intricate design and magical whatever, although the Sidereal Martial Arts were basically just too strong. They were also heavily built to a theme. Each of the five Maidens presided over five Abilities worth of Charms, and every Ability had some kind of philosophical thesis about the Ability that the Charms were themed around. They involved a lot of reality manipulation, and did things like "you decide that you were never here, and you never were. Everyone who saw you now agrees that you were, in fact, never here, which is in fact now correct." Sidereals also couldn't create new Charms, unlike everybody else, and their Charms were balanced around being a limited set, and thus tended to be both heinously powerful and super weird, like the Charm that lets you pick up and drag cities, or the Investigation Charm that plants a Christmas tree that wood elementals put clues under.

Sidereals 2e was basically a copy-paste that ignored all the ways the underlying rules had changed since. Two Abilities had changed, so Charms got shuffled around without making their themes match the Maiden they were now under. Sidereal mind games were given tag keywords, but no cost to resist, which meant they all defaulted to a pitiful 1 WP to ignore completely. A lot of their best magic got redescribed as parlor tricks like "you teleport away and people nearby suffer an Illusion that you were never here, unless they pay 1 WP."

So basically, a cheap cut-and-paste carry-over by someone who didn't really seem that hyped about Sidereals in the first place.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





The locate city bomb is the result of numerous poorly written feats, spells, and effects being used in conjunction. It's also very difficult to not be hit by your own casting for the spell. It's beautiful. There is no practical application for it as a player character except in massed open space battles, because in a traditional dungeon setting you don't have line of effect to anything but the room you're in an the room's very size constricts how much damage it can do.

So it's either a very complicated way to achieve mediocre crowd control (black tentacles is much better for indoors fights and is also 4th level), or it's a method of killing an entire army/the outdoor population of a city.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


gradenko_2000 posted:

That thing where you use d10s as a basic roll mechanic, but then enforce an automatic failure on a 1 was also a thing in that other game System Mastery reviewed with all the different multicolored dice and the weird jargon. It's such an obvious thing to recognize that you're going to fail 10% of the time if a 1 is always a failure on a d10.

That's Immortal, and it's actually worse in that regard because you can roll multiple dice and any one natural 1 (or was it a 0?) will make you fail.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It'll be well into the 2020s before that happens, even given what feels like exceedingly optimistic napkin projections of a book this year and one more per year in the future. Dragon-Blooded was scheduled for Summer 2015, after all, so it's running nearly a year late at this point. And the idea that it'll only be 220 pages seems bizarre given Solars get around 175 pages of core charms. I think one of the big practical issues with the current charm design is that it's so bloated and overwrought that it feels like each splat will take an exceedingly long time to come out. I'd love to be proven wrong, of course, but they've created a herculean design task in making what may be potentially the most crunch-heavy core game of all time.

What I mean by that is that while games like Pathfinder may add book after book of crunch, very little of it is necessary, but Exalted has a defined setting where each splatbook is essentially illuminating rules necessary to the core game. I can't really think of another game with that level of ambition - not even stuff like the original Deadlands which relied on you buying more softcovers (and a boxed set or two) to unlock certain in-setting character options. The thing is that White Wolf could manage it because A) they could just pluck out a freelancer and throw them at a project and B) they didn't really hold much in the way of playtesting or rules rigor, so they could just pump out books as part of their publishing treadmill without really caring about quality. For all my disagreements with 3e's rules (and they are aplenty), the Onyx Path writers actually do seem to seriously care about what they're publishing. And strangely enough, that feels like it could be their undoing to me.

I find this pretty weird coming from guys known for their Storyteller System, which Exalted is still using (with those Charms and the Dissidia combat system modded in).

megane posted:

White Wolf / Onyx Path really really need to do the thing where you write 1) paragraph of fluff, 2) blank line, 3) dry formal rules text. Preferably with the fluff in italics or another font or something. They love giving this huge block of text about how your sword totally looks like a sweet-rear end dragon made of lightning slicing through a block of ice as you shout about retribution or something... and then mentioning offhandedly somewhere in the middle that they don't get to apply their Parry DV to it. Above and beyond the confusion of whether things are rules or fluff (when it says my fury is "unquenchable," are they being poetic, or does that mean I'm actually immune to effects that would quench it?), it also makes it super hard to reference things quickly.

So in other words, they should've shuffled some time from their Dissidia sessions to play Double Cross instead.


Double Cross - the clearer Exalted.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 20:43 on Apr 22, 2016

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Doresh posted:

So in other words, they should've shuffled some time from their Dissidia sessions to play Double Cross instead.


Double Cross - the clearer Exalted.

Double Cross has quite a few problems of its own, but one thing it absolutely gets right is the power writeups. It is always totally clear both A)What the power does and B)How to use it. They even have simple, effective rules for combining powers into unique superattacks or whatnot, and it all slots together in a straightforward, rigorous manner. That statblock style lets them made dozens of powers for each of their power sets, and have them all be immediately understood. I have only played a few sessions of it, but we didn't have any Exalted-style "What does this actually do" questions. My only real gripe is that sometimes the fluff and effect doesn't quite match up, but in that case you can just ignore the fluff because the crunch is so clear.

kvx687
Dec 29, 2009



Soiled Meat


That was only half the problem, though. Yes, chapters 1 and 2 are godforsaken abominations that deserve to be blasted at every possible occasion, but they were restricted to a single book. Their impact on the line as a whole had the problem being increasingly focused towards the Infernals to the detriment of pretty much every other line, while also having the paradox of being the only splat whose stated goal was explicitly impossible to achieve.

That's also not getting into the fact that the Abyssals were janky messes that even the 2.5 edition couldn't really fix as well as having bad fluff, the fact that Lunars have literally never had a coherent theme and had even worse fluff, and the utterly incomprehensible Fair Folk. Honestly, it's amazing the line survived as well as it did, considering of the eight or so overarching splats a full half of them were varying degrees of unplayable.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rand Brittain posted:

So basically, a cheap cut-and-paste carry-over by someone who didn't really seem that hyped about Sidereals in the first place.

I wouldn't say that, necessarily. There's a lot of people that might be passionate about a job but just not be good at it. I'm a big fan of Hanlon's razor, in any case. Even Jenna Moran's work - which, mind, was part of Exalted's thematic core and some of it is the most evocative material in the line - had serious rules problems. That doesn't make her unique in the line by any stretch, but things like variable TNs didn't do the system any favors.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Moran's charms are unusual in having no flavour/rules divide at all. At first it looks like it's all flavour text until you realise that the charm does exactly what it says it does.

Keiya
Aug 22, 2009

Come with me if you want to not die.


Monathin posted:

Yeah, I'm not sure if I entirely agree with you, but I get it. It's like. We know Alchemicals and Infernals are still a thing. We know that they're going to probably get a book. But at the same time I can see OPP not wanting to put them in a book because they already have to write up two new Exalted types (Liminals and Exigents), and they're likely having to rewrite Infernals from the ground up to not alienate their audience, and rewrite Sidereals due to the fact that John Chambers actively sabotaged their 2e splat.

So on one hand, I can see them not wanting to put the rest in due to the idea that theyve got more to work on that theyre putting front and center. On the other, it's still kind of really loving frustrating.

Honestly they should just drop the names for further-afield ones. "There are other Exalted, like the Sidereals and Alchemicals" rather than giving the nice 2 page spread writeups for all of them would be a good middle ground between "stuff that's not coming anytime soon not being mentioned" and "write up all the things".

Though honestly I kind of wish they'd give up writing rules for Exalted and just publish the fluff. It's pretty close to what I end up actually using from the books anyway...

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





kvx687 posted:

That was only half the problem, though. Yes, chapters 1 and 2 are godforsaken abominations that deserve to be blasted at every possible occasion, but they were restricted to a single book. Their impact on the line as a whole had the problem being increasingly focused towards the Infernals to the detriment of pretty much every other line, while also having the paradox of being the only splat whose stated goal was explicitly impossible to achieve.

That's also not getting into the fact that the Abyssals were janky messes that even the 2.5 edition couldn't really fix as well as having bad fluff, the fact that Lunars have literally never had a coherent theme and had even worse fluff, and the utterly incomprehensible Fair Folk. Honestly, it's amazing the line survived as well as it did, considering of the eight or so overarching splats a full half of them were varying degrees of unplayable.
Frankly I feel like we can extend this to Sidereals and Solars as well, which would leave Alchemicals and Dragon-Blooded as the most coherent splats, and honestly that kind of makes sense.

Of course now we have to figure out why Alchemicals and DBs were stupid bullshit too, but I'm confident we can puzzle that sucker out!

Spiderfist Island
Feb 19, 2011


I think one of the issues with Exalted goes more deeply than just its game design and is because of the content structure of the line as a whole. This isn't to say that there are issues with the game rules, but like with what Alien Rope Burn said, the combination of "1 Splat = 1 Book" and very player-oriented game rules (PCs and NPCs are intended to have the same structure and complexity, for instance) means that vast sections of the game world and the mechanics are effectively incomplete for an indeterminate period of time. From what I've seen, a big part of the Exalted player experience is waiting for the new edition's book on your favorite exalt splat to drop. In addition to this, cross-splat play became more common than the developers originally predicted (compounding the issue), and fan splat preference often divides the game line fans into little mini-fandoms, if RPGNet is any indication.

My take on this is that Exalted's main problem is that it's a White Wolf game that wants to have the level of content and player options of ten White Wolf games. Regardless of how dedicated or large the developer staff is for Exalted, the line's book structure is kind of too compartmentalized and the game's subject matter is too sprawling in scope to really keep a cohesive and elegant library of content.

If I was the lead developer for Exalted, I would 1) separate PC and NPC character structure fully, 2) reduce the amount of charms and steps needed for character creation, 3) decrease most subsystem complexity and add realm management support, 4) include rules for PC Dragonblooded and Lunar Exalts in the core using the freed-up space, 5) introduce a generalized cross-splat charm tree system to replace the Martial Arts trees, and 6) get murdered by the fans and the other line designers.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Spiderfist Island posted:

In addition to this, cross-splat play became more common than the developers originally predicted

I do not understand how this happens in any time after the year 1995. Everyone wants to play their favorite thing in a group with their friends' favorite things, SHOCKER.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

I would love a standalone game for the Sidereals. The idea of fate-bending kung fu bureaucrats is too good to get tied down to Exalted's bad rules and other setting shenanigans.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Nessus posted:

Of course now we have to figure out why Alchemicals and DBs were stupid bullshit too, but I'm confident we can puzzle that sucker out!

Manuals of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded suffered from the exact same issue as Sidereals: copy-pasted charms from 1e with little concern for how they interacted with the new system, which is why they got a small supplement late in the line that provided errata for the whole book. It wasn't as bad as Sidereals since their rules were more straightforward, but it was still a major issue for the splat. Lunars were actually pretty functional, they just had an issue of often having linear, boring charm trees (an oxymoron in some cases where they didn't branch in the slightest) and a lot of "tax charms". Abyssals had similar issues to a lesser extent: they were perfectly fine, but a bit dull with an overtly punishing tag that rendered a lot of charms entirely situational. Infernals and Alchemicals benefited a lot from coming out very late in the line and probably had the most enjoyable charm trees that second edition saw. Graceful Wicked Masques was an total mess and a lot of its mechanics just flat-out don't work as intended or don't work at all.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




The Lone Badger posted:

Moran's charms are unusual in having no flavour/rules divide at all. At first it looks like it's all flavour text until you realise that the charm does exactly what it says it does.
People keep saying this, and it's certainly true, but it's still a bad thing for a rulebook. Especially one like Exalted that's attempting to have clear and technical mechanics.

Spiderfist Island posted:

I think one of the issues with Exalted goes more deeply than just its game design and is because of the content structure of the line as a whole.
I'm slightly biased I guess, but really the issue with Exalted is that it's a horrible set of rules for what it's trying to accomplish thematically, written by people who are (in general) ill-suited for those types of rules. It's a fundamental failure of the game that no amount of houseruling and edition changes can really resolve. I mean charms alone are kind of a massive elephant in the room seeing how they have all the balance problems of D&D3 feats plus the obligatory writing challenge of D&D4 class powers simultaneously, and even if you assumed you had a literal genius developer working on it and refining it you'd still have a clunky mess that makes it hard to balance characters and quickly generate opponents and NPCs.

I tried to like it for years as both player and GM, I really did, but the issues with it are just way too deep and impossible to resolve. I hope Exalted 3 fixes some of it, but in the end I suspect it's just shuffling the deck chairs around on the titanic.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012




Chapter 4, Part 4: al-Haz

GURPS Banestorm posted:

Al-Haz is Yrthís greatest Islamic nation, and sees itself as a rival to Megalos for glory. It also views itself as the heart of Islamic orthodoxy. The mullahs of al-Haz teach that someday the faithful will conquer the world and convert it to Shiíite Islam . . . but not yet.
And that pretty much sums up al-Haz, but it would be kind of a short series if I just let one quote speak for everything in this book.

So yeah, al-Haz is The Shi'ia Nation, which means that there are tensions between it and its technical allies of al-Wazif (The Sunni Nation) and Cardiel (The Progressive Non-Denominational Muslim Nation).



Geography
Most of al-Haz is vast savannah threaded with rivers, where Hazi peasantry grow large fields of grain and herd livestock. These great warm plains end at the Fence of God, a mountain range that is made up of fir and pine forests in the highlands and stands of cedar and olive trees in the foothills, to the west of which are arid badlands that few people inhabit. The plains are home to lions, jackals, wild cattle, antelopes, and elephants, a trio of creatures extinct on Earth in the form of the bushwolf (thylacine/Tasmanian tiger), paladin (Doedicurus), and strider (Phorusrhacos), and a Yrth-native tusked goat called the harding. The largest animals such as paladins and elephants are only allowed to be hunted by the Sultan himself.


History
In the time shortly after the first Banestorm, the fact that many mullahs and Islamic scholars had conveniently all been dumped in the same region meant that what would later become al-Haz was the site of the first two great Muslim cities: Gebel al-Hikmah and al-Ab'ra. These were soon followed by the holy city of Geb'al-Din in 1160, but even then the majority of Muslims in Ytarria were nomadic tribes lead by sheikhs. This changed with the invasion of the Megalan Empire and the formation of the sultanate of al-Haz in 1442, with the words of the mullahs outweighing the cries of many sheikhs that they had no desire for the shackles of empire. The primarily Sunni tribes of the north would rebel in 1444 and name one of their sheikhs as caliph of al-Wazif, followed shortly thereafter by the eastern tribes forming al-Kard in 1445. Modern al-Haz still sees its two neighbors as both betrayers of the Hazi cause and spiritually "polluted" by their non-Shi'ite ideals even after all the centuries that have passed since the Ytarrian Crusades.


Society
Social Status
The lowest rung of the Hazi ladder is reserved for beggars and slaves of peasants, followed by fishermen and porters, then peasants and urban craftsmen, then tribal sheikhs and shopkeepers, then lesser mullahs, lesser pashas, and 'amirs, then middle-ranking pashas and merchants, then cadis and greater pashas, then the Great Judge of the Ulama and the sultan's extended family, then the immediate family of the sultan and the sultan's vizier, and finally the sultan at the very top. Pashas are the governors that perform regional administrative duties and have either gained their position through heredity or recognition of their own talents, and are referred to as being a pasha of one to four horsetails depending on their importance. Non-Muslims are only tolerated if they are Christian or Jewish, and even then they are subject to the jizya (an extra form of taxation) and are heavily persecuted (or even possibly lynched, if they happen to be openly prosyletizing) if the local pasha doesn't give them his blessing. Many Christian and Jewish Arabs have left al-Haz for Cardiel, because Cardiel is the only nation that is allowed to have any wholly good traits.

Non-Humans
There's no speciesism in al-Haz as long as the other species are Muslim, but for whatever reason there aren't really many non-humans around anyway. There are some dwarves and halflings in the coastal cities and a singular reclusive tribe of reptile men on the eastern plains, but that's it.

Magic
Hazis don't like magic. It is heavily suppressed and the use of magic in the holy city is blasphemy of the highest caliber. No sultan has ever had the balls to fully ban magic outright, however, which has lead to the creation of murderous vigilante groups such as the Balikites that perform the "duty" they feel the sultan won't.

Warfare
Al-Haz has a strong army of mostly mounted warriors, but they have no one to fight. Well, they could technically fight the Hashishin stated to be in literally every city of al-Haz, the Balikites of the badlands, or pirates to the south, but they are instead kept in reserve to fight "the infidel" if yet another Crusade happens. The current sultan also doesn't trust them at all, which has lead to military downsizing and a probable need for mercenary forces to augment the main army if said Crusade ever occurred.

The Law
Pain is believed to be the outlet for weakness sin to leave a criminal, and thus maiming and public flogging are common punishments in al-Haz, upped to the death penalty for particularly egregious crimes. Hazi criminal offenses include alcohol and hashish (flogging for owning or drinking/eating it, maiming for selling it), public worship of non-Islamic religions (confiscation of property for first offense, enslavement or death penalty for repeat offenses), and women engaging in public displays of affection, criticizing a government official, or showing bare arms or legs (flogging).



The Coast
Al-Ab'ra
The largest seaport and second-largest overall city in all of al-Haz, al-Ab'ra is found at the mouth of the meandering Alhallahan River. Ceramics, glass, salt, and textiles are exported here to the other nations of Ytarria. There is also a collection of hashish black markets in the Al-Ab'ra underworld, the sale of which is so lucrative that gang wars will sometimes spill blood into the harbors and the local pasha of four horsetails no longer moves to anything about it after repeated assassination attempts against him.

Al-Abyad
A little city in the west, where the foothills of the Fence of God slope down to meet the sea. Harding and cattle ranches, wheat farms, and shipyards that build and repair vessels using the great cedars of the hill country are the city's livelihoods. The only passage through the Fence of God to the Lands of the Djinn to the southwest is through al-Abyad, and the passage is blocked to all but a few merchants favored by Pasha of Three Horsetails Ayyub ibn-Madawi. A man named Ghalib washed up in the city half a decade ago, claiming to have come through the Maelstrom from the Lands of the Djinn. People wrote him off as some random crazy person, but he shortly disappeared after he appeared, and ever since there have been strange sightings of a ghost ship that rises out of the sea and heads west toward the Lands of the Djinn.

The Maelstrom
A giant whirlpool and never-ending hurricane that float around the ocean south of al-Haz. It's extremely hard to predict the Maelstrom's movements, as it is made up of crazy chaos magic that allows it to move in the first place and thus baffles both traditional and paranormal prediction methods. The fact that the Maelstrom doesn't push too far to the coast of al-Haz means that ships heading from any of the regions to the north can enter al-Haz but can't make it further west to the Lands of the Djinn and beyond, nor can anyone from the west can head eastward to al-Haz in that direction.


The Mountains
Gebel al-Hikmah
The capital of al-Haz, where Sultan Mamoun al-Mansur and his many viziers and concubines dwell in the luxurious palace known as the Blue Pavilion. Al-Mansur is known for his great love of polo, and frequently hosts lavish parties at matches between professional polo teams. The fact that polo team sponsorship also acts as political clout means that there's a lot of bribery, dirty deeds, and even murder behind the scenes. If you aren't Muslim or are a troublemaker, you aren't allowed into the city, and both the Sultan's guards and the 'amirs of the Ghazis of the Crescent Moon are at the gates to make that very clear.

Geb'al-Din
Geb'al-Din is the holy city that lies deep in the Fence of God. It is home to numerous mosques, including the Shrine of the Rock that houses the Ytarrian kaaba. While every Muslim in Ytarria is to enter the city in pilgrimage at least once in their life, any non-Muslim who attempts to enter the city or is even found close enough to see it is executed without trial. Unfortunately, there are infrequent outbreaks of "Pilgrim's Plague" (bubonic plague) in the city, which have never been quelled due to the fact that wizards aren't allowed into Geb'al-Din and thus can't magic away the problem. So far, outbreaks haven't occurred in tandem with a call to pilgrimage in fifteen years, but since it happened once it can surely happen again.

Firuz
While not official in any capacity, the handful of settlers who eke out an existence in the shattered badlands of the northwest call it Firuz. The land is made up of canyons, cliffs, and jagged hills that are plagued by constant drought and near-total lack of vegetation. Firuz is also where Balik Abdallah al-Firuz created the Balikite cult, which still has a powerful following in the region even after al-Firuz himself disappeared and hasn't been seen for decades. The fact that Firuz is a low mana region in an otherwise normal mana nation means that Balikites have a distinct advantage against wizards that attempt to hunt them down on top of their intimate knowledge of the region's treacherous terrain.


The Plains
Nomad Tribes
Various tribes still roam the great plains of al-Haz even after its unification, living their Berber lifestyle to this day. The tribesmen are suspicious of stangers, but are nonetheless often contacted because their horses are the fastest in all of Ytarria and only slightly less hardy than the relentless steeds of the Northmen.

Alhallabad
While Alhallabad is already prosperous thanks to fertile land on the banks of the River Alhallahan, it is even more wealthy due to being the only city in central al-Haz and thus the place where the nomad tribes come to sell their horses and trade for various goods. Of course, since this is GURPS Banestorm and political intrigue is everywhere, this wealth has been broken due to the death of Pasha Alihaba al-Khalil during the last great Pilgrim's Plague outbreak. The three sons of al-Khalil have torn central al-Haz apart. Badem ibn-Alihaba al-Asadel is the current pasha, but only thanks to the sultan giving him the title due to him being the eldest of the three sons - he's decidedly average and only succeeds in his duties thanks to his clever and wise wife. The youngest son, Denyz ibn-Alihaba al-Hassan, is clever and loyal to the people of Alhallabad, and has been defensive in his maneuverings for the governing throne. Middle son Fadil ibn-Alihaba al-Azim, however, is dumb as a sack of rocks and extremely violent, planning to siege the city with his army of bandits, thugs, rebels, and Balikites after he failed to get anywhere politically thanks to everyone in the city hating his guts.



Next Time in GURPS Banestorm: Al-Wazif, a place of political intrigue and internal strife. Who would have though, eh?

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 02:38 on Apr 23, 2016

Keiya
Aug 22, 2009

Come with me if you want to not die.


Asimo posted:

I tried to like it for years as both player and GM, I really did, but the issues with it are just way too deep and impossible to resolve. I hope Exalted 3 fixes some of it, but in the end I suspect it's just shuffling the deck chairs around on the titanic.

I mostly fell in love with it because of Keychain of Creation. And I like going through the fluff parts of the books. Basically I love Exalted (setting) so much that I'm willing to overlook the problems with Exalted (game) and just play something else in the setting.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Keiya posted:

I mostly fell in love with it because of Keychain of Creation.

Is the author for that still alive? Has he ever dropped hints about what his future plans were now that the comic's clearly dead?

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Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011



Spiderfist Island posted:

If I was the lead developer for Exalted, I would 1) separate PC and NPC character structure fully, 2) reduce the amount of charms and steps needed for character creation, 3) decrease most subsystem complexity and add realm management support, 4) include rules for PC Dragonblooded and Lunar Exalts in the core using the freed-up space, 5) introduce a generalized cross-splat charm tree system to replace the Martial Arts trees, and 6) get murdered by the fans and the other line designers.

The rest I either can't speak for or know isn't there (though it should be), but the 3E book has a specific system for creating Quick Characters that simplifies the process dramatically. It still mentions that major NPCs who will be showing up a lot should have full sheets, but most of them can be handled by the QC system. You pick from a range of dice pools for things they're likely to actually do, give them some Intimacies for the PCs to play with, and a handful of charms instead of 15+. It's only time-consuming if you want(/need) to write custom charms.

I'm using it for all my NPCs to see how far it stretches, or if I'll want a real sheet at all.

Asimo posted:

I tried to like it for years as both player and GM, I really did, but the issues with it are just way too deep and impossible to resolve. I hope Exalted 3 fixes some of it, but in the end I suspect it's just shuffling the deck chairs around on the titanic.

They did fix a lot of it. It's pretty decent! Still has issues but it's playable, even for someone like me who hates numbers.

...Which is to say, I'm already trying (lazily) to make an Atomic Robo hack for the setting because fuuuuuck tracking dice pools and mote pools and hit pools and damage pools and

(It's fine if you have even half a mind for crunch. I just don't.)

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