Lessons learned

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This page is for lessons learned through experience which can help future missions go more smoothly. This incldues in-character lessons as the Circle gets more experienced, as well as player lessons of ways we can make game-play go more smoothly or keep characters alive. Everyone's welcome to contribute and comment.


Character Lessons


DragonStar: Don't try to be too indirect. Siderials are known as masters of behind-the-scenes manipulation, but sometimes it's easier to just do it yourself. Or at least to settle for one layer behind the scenes rather than many.

BTS: Alternately, remember your own competence. You're badasses. You can rely on that and use it directly, or amplify it with behind-the-scenes judo. You don't need to use that judo to do anything---just to do everything at once.

DragonStar: Don't involve new important people in a mission unless you're sure you can control whether they turn out to be allies or antagonists.

BTS: Alternately, a player lesson: let go of that control. Allies or antagonists will make the story more interesting. Introduce NPCs when you want the theme they represent to play a part in the story. Rely on them to represent that theme, not to be helpful or harmful to plot.


DragonStar: When you step out of Yu Shan, think about how you're going to get back.

Spell Suggestions:
Open the Spirit Door (TC, WT.54): Uses a gate.
Summon the Heavenly Portal (CC, WT.82): Summons a gate.
tmack: RDs in the Key have a panic button ability that summons a gate to the user's current location. It adds three dice of paradox, though.


DragonStar: Don't get surprised by combat.

Corollary: If you're not surprised, take the first opportunity to warn your comrades so they won't be surprised either.
Charm Suggestions:
Prior Warning (Awareness, S.174): Generalized warning with lots of notice.
Expected Pain (Awarness, S.174): Specific warning, 1 action notice.
Air Dragon's Sight (MA - Air, DB.198): Scene length, so of limited usefulness.


NamelessCrow: We need to learn how to rematerialize or kill dematerialized spirits as soon as possible. It's extremely annoying to have our enemies instantly run away whenever the battle isn't going well for them.

Charm Suggestions:
Terminal Sanction (Bureaucracy, S.176): Force a single spirit to materialize for a scene (and some other effects if you kill it). DragonStar and NamelessCrow have both expressed interest in taking this soon (it's Essence 3).
tmack: For the near future, I'm planning on Thought-Swiping Distraction and Sidereal Shell Games, then (after some more XP) Impose Motivation. I have Essence 3 already, but I don't have Bureaucracy 4 yet, and Bureaucracy isn't one of my in-caste or preferred skills. There's also a prerequisite skill, Icy Hand, which I'm not particularly interested in. Terminal Sanction also doesn't stack very well; it automatically succeeds (barring some weird defensive charms from the target, but there's nothing to roll), so it's not that useful for multiple people to have it. There is a roll for getting the (very useful) cookie after successfully killing the target. You can't get multiple cookies if multiple PCs use Terminal Sanction, though, and there's probably not going to be much difference between DragonStar's and NamelessCrow's Charisma + Bureaucracy pools by the time we'd each get it. If you pick up a Bureaucracy Excellency, you'll certainly have a better pool than I would. Most importantly, I thought being the party's wrangler of wayward gods was what a schtick you intended for DragonStar, and I'm happy to leave that plot to you.
AT: You're right that we don't really have need for more than 1 person to have this Charm. DragonStar probably isn't likely to start toward Essence 3 until after we've earned at least 24 more XP, though, so it'll be a little while. You're right that this is an intended part of my schtick, but I'm going for breadth rather than depth for the moment, which means I can't complain too much if others beat me to it. I will have a Bureaucracy Excellency (2nd, plus probably Heart Brightening Presentation Style to make other Excellencies apply) by the time I get there.
Pasiap's Humility + Moment of Daana'd (MA - Immaculate, DB194): Scene-length ability to see and hit any spirits for once person. (Also special bonus ability to teach a Dragon Blood how to learn Celestial MA.) DragonStar will learn eventually, and will encourage others to learn.
Spirit-Wracking Method + Spirit-Rending Technique (MA - Wood, DB.211): Single powerful strikes. DragonStar will learn eventually.
Also, there are several Siderial options for mind-controlling gods + elementals rather than hitting them.
tmack Interesting, but the problem I was addressing was the situation in which we get attacked by a dozen elementals, we kill two of them, and the rest happily dematerialize without any further consequences to them. It's hard to pull off mass mind-control charms in the middle of combat.
AT: Harder, but perhaps possible. None of the prior options really solve this problem either, though. At best, Pasiap's Humility reduces the problem of fleeing immaterial things to being the same as the problem of fleeing material things, which is still non-trivial.
tmack: We might finally get to see the Thrown skill become useful, at least.

Player Lessons

Intent. Task. Stakes. Roll.

AT: If you want to accomplish something non-trivial or affect the game world, make it clear you're doing so by stating the dice-pool and-or Charm you're using to do it.

Soak is not a defense

AT: Soak is only a second line of defense. First priority should always be not being hit, since there are plenty of effects (including clinches) which suck regardless of soak.

tmack: There are six of us. Maybe we should try clinching too.

Choice and Narration

BTS: Consider solutions to conflicts beyond those provided by the minigames. For example: take prisoners. Become prisoners. Talk over the clash of swords. Count scenes as forming or eroding Intimacies. If you wait until somebody's out of health levels to declare a combat over, there will be lots of deaths. Some may be PCs.

tmack: For that particular combat, I think we were doing fine. Owen, Kat, and I all had easy (if incompatible) ways of winning the combat; the only problem was that getting attacked by twelve enemies while having a DV of 0 sucks. Having a group of six Sidereals surrender to twelve minor rogue elementals is like having a tank lose to a spearman in Civilization; and while I can't speak for the rest of the party, Nameless Crow isn't the sort to surrender to some random band of pissant elementals from some frozen backwater. (Also, note that it's very hard to surrender--- or fight, for that matter--- if some of the party disagrees with you.) But yes, mistakes were made.

Motivations of NPCs

Notice what NPCs are doing. Wonder why. Why use lethal force? Why non-lethal force? Why attack some people? Why not others?

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