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Questions, answers, and comments are marked with initials to allow for discussion.


Mental Influence

AT: On E180 it says "Many characters use Charms or other abilities to define additional orders that they or others simply cannot accept. For many Solar Exalted 'defy your Motivation' is an unacceptable order." What's the Charm they're referring to there? I can't find it under Integrity, unless they're thinking of using Righteous Lion Defense to form an Intimacy to your Motivation (which would be odd, but reasonable in the absence of other alternatives).

BTS: Sagacious Reading of Intent perfectly defends your Motivation. Unhesitating Dedication lets you have extra Motivations. Stubborn Boar Defense lets you treat all Unnatural Influence as Unacceptable while you're, you know, insane. Elusive Dream Defense, maybe? I have to say I don't see the fulfillment of that statement either.

AT: I just re-read the Unnatural Mental Influence section, specifically the sentence on E181 which says "The default is one Willpower to entirely ignore the influence." Does that really mean that all the Charms which don't explicitly mention spending N Willpower to resist, but which do have a Mental Influence tag (Compulsion, etc) can be ignored for 1 WP (plus 1 Limit per Scene)? If so, I'd totally missed that, and it makes me a lot less scared of Social Fu than I used to be.

BTS: That's how I read those rules. I don't think the Sidereal Charms were written with that understanding, which is a real problem. I intend to handle that as I handle NPCs in ordinary Social Combat: they spend WP if they would otherwise die, or if you're opposing motivations or sometimes intimacies. The Solar and Lunar Charms have nice WP costs on everything: four for this Charm, three for that... the Sidereal Charms mostly don't. I've tried to add them when RevisingSiderealCharms.
AT: Right, that sounds good, and I'm fine with adding >1 WP cost to appropriate Charms. Realizing that default rule makes me a lot less scared/annoyed, and means that a lot of Charms have actually changed more in 2e than I realized. E.g. Force Decision (our favorite :) is a lot less worrying. If I'm the target, and I don't think I can reasonably roleplay the results, I have an out by spending WP.

Spirits and the Immaterial

AT: What exactly does "spirit" or "immaterial spirit" apply to? Several of the Wood Dragon Charms use the term. My understanding is that a "spirit" is a broad term, with Gods, Elementals, Demons, and Ghosts all being specific sub-categories. So specifically Soul-Marking Strike gives die penalties to Demons as well as Gods. Beyond that, I think that Charms which specifically allow the ability to affect immaterial spirits would apply to dematerialized non-sprits too (e.g. an Eclipse with the Dematerialize charm) but that they don't count as spirits for other effects (such as soul marks). Any disagreements?

BTS: Spirits are beings not naturally material in Creation. That includes gods, demons, and ghosts, but not elementals. Elementals are naturally material, but have a Charm to Dematerialize. I know that Ghost-Eating Technique, from the 1e corebook, said "immaterial spirits" and was meant to apply to "spirits, even if immaterial." Also, yes, most things that let you hit immaterial spirits are really meant to let you hit any immaterial thing.
AT: I'm pretty sure Elementals are meant to be spirits (I was asking to confirm about Demons and Ghosts). I wish there was a "Charm Concept: Spirits" sidebar, but absent that, see some of the text on Exalted p301 which talks about Elementals as a distinct class of spirit. I think several Sideral Charms also talk about applying to spirits, then specifically go on to talk about Elementals.
BTS: You're right. I was misled by the bits earlier that talk about Spirits being naturally immaterial, which I know Elementals are not. Sounds like Gods, Demons, Elementals are spirits... I can't imagine why Ghosts wouldn't be, though hungry ghosts are different from ghosts. I don't think they're spirits (they're always material, for example).
AT: I agree. Hungry Ghosts aren't spirits.

Training for Essence 3

AT: In the Exalted Core, giving the costs for Solars, Essence 3 is buyable without training. In the Siderials book, Siderials are given a higher cost (9 x current) and no distinction is given for training time. Does this mean Siderials need 2 months of training to buy Essence 3?

BTS: I wonder what they intended. I think I'm going to call it an omission. You don't need training time to hit Essence 3.

Hook nonSwords

AT: Am I right in thinking that a Hook Sword is indeed a Sword for rules purposes? E.g. VBoS style allows Swords as form weapons, which I assume includes the standard types (Chopping, Great, Short, Slashing, Straight) as well as Hook Swords. But I wanted to confirm that the fact that they're MA weapons doesn't make them weird.

BTS: No. Hook Swords are weird separate things. They only come in pairs, for example. And you can use them naturally with the Martial Arts Ability---that is in fact a critical point, since you're trying to get around one of the design features of the Violet Bier of Sorrows Style.
AT: Okay, it's fine that Hook Swords are a distinct class. What design feature are you referring to, though? VBoS Style allows for a mix of MA and non-MA weapons. (Seven Section Staff is a MA weapon)
BTS: The design feature I thought then, and wish now, that it had. Sigh.
AT: Didn't Marag use Hook Swords with VBoS Style back in Thorns? The 1e wording was the same. Then again, Andy may well have made the same assumption I did without ever asking.

Staves and Martial Arts

AT: I think it's odd that a Staff isn't a Martial Arts weapon (keeping in mind that distunction just means that it can be used with MA, not that it can't be used with Melee). A Bo Stick is basically the same thing as a Quarterstaff. I'm not actually planning on using one, but I feel like it should be house-ruled if it's ever relevant.

BTS: This cuts to the core of a frequent confusion about the Martial Arts ability. It's not about doing fancy tricks while fighting. It's about doing fancy tricks with your soul while fighting. It's about magic fighting in the same way that Occult is about magic speaking and singing. Kendo and similar real-world martial arts are practiced in this world with the Melee Ability. Only those that actually help you channel Essence use Martial Arts. I assert that's probably none—though some may work in Creation that don't work here.
AT: I disagree with this interpretation (though I agree that Kendo is probably Melee). This interpretation leaves MA as a useless skill for Mortals. I think you're describing what Supernatural Martial Arts are about, which is distinct from the MA ability in the same way Sorcery is distinct from the Occult ability. I think MA is exactly about doing fancy tricks while fighting. It requires fancy tricks to make unarmed fighting useful, and certain weapons naturally allow for fancy tricks. The merging of Brawl into MA muddies the waters a bit, but in the direction of less supernatural-specific rather than more (you just have to believe that a street brawler has his own sort of fancy tricks).
BTS: MA is still useful for mortals. It covers fighting bare-handed and a number of ways of seeking enlightenment. They're just not significant ways on the scale of the Exalted---but look at the beginnings of the Scroll of the Monk, where mortals can learn basic Terrestrial Martial Arts techniques, just like they can learn Thaumaturgy under Occult.
AT: Even Occult has purely non-magical uses, though, as a Knowledge skill. The non-magical use of MA is about kung fu. And for some reason or other, certain weapons are included in the category of kung fu, along with unarmed attacks.

Unarmed Specialty

AT: Specific weapons are the traditional Specialty for combat skills. What's the right level of breadth for a specialty suitable breadth of a Specialty for a Martial Artist who fights unarmed? "Unarmed" is the obvious choice, but I wonder if I'm over-reaching there, particulary given that's the 'weapon' which is common among all forms. Would a more reasonable option be one of the specific entries in the stats table: i.e. Punch, Kick, Clinch?

BTS: I think that "while unarmed" is subtly different from Punch, Kick, Clinch. The latter three are weapons, while the former is a state. We've seen Dodge specialties of "while unarmored." This is the same sort of thing. You can take a speciality in Punching, or in Clinching, or if you really want in Kicking. Or in Parrying, or in Strikes, or in "while unarmed," which might be a problem if you ever want a shield or to punch someeone while holding a sword.
AT: So you're saying that "unarmed" or "punch" are both valid Specialties, each with its own limitations (the former doesn't work with a shield, the latter doesn't work with a clinch)? How about "unarmored"? The MA Ability description mentions "while wearing armor" as an option, but maybe the opposite is too broad given that most Styles don't work in armor.
BTS: You can take "unarmored" as a MA specialty. Other players have my Official Permission to mock you for it. From time to time, I may join in.
AT: I may even feel worthy of mockery, but mostly for the fact that I'll be buying all these Immaculate MA Charms which are so spiffy because they work in Armor, then using them exclusively when unarmored. As an aside, regarding the prior discussion about shields or holding a sword. Does that mean I could theoretically use all my unarmed martial arts attacks with my right hand, while holding a shield in my left hand for Melee-based parries? Or an MA weapon for MA parries of Lethal damage for that matter? I don't see how the system prohibits it, but it's kinda weird. In the case of a weapon, off-hand penalties would presumably apply, though for a shield I've gotta assume that's built into the shield's stats already (since they're intended to be used off-hand).
BTS: You can punch while holding a shield, MA weapon, small mammal, or other weapon in your off hand. You are not unarmed while holding a shield in your off hand. Clinching takes both hands. It is kind of weird. It is possible to hold a short sword in each hand and get lots of bonus Rate.
tmack: "The evil Solar throws a hat onto Dragon Star's head and then immediately attacks, denying him his unarmored speciality dice."

Methodology of Secrets

tmack: Before the game restarts, what form of Methodology of Secrets are we using? I'm still unclear whether we're using 1e, 2e, or some amalgamation of the two.

BTS: Amalgamation. 3 dice to a specialty in one skill, 1 die to that specialty in other skills, and the dice do apply to Astrology as in second edition.
tmack: That's what I thought, but I wanted to make sure; +3 effect dice (or do they just add to the prayer roll) is nontrivial.

Sidereal Shell Games

tmack: Also, if I use Sidereal Shell Games to steal dots in Linguistics (I have a disturbing image of Nameless Crow keeping a bunch of mortals in a pit in his basement for quick boosts to Charisma, Linguistics, Integrity, etc.), do I get any corresponding language abilities? What if the target happens to know the language in question?

BTS: Yes, you can steal languages this way. Notice that you can't steal somebody's native language---only languages they've learned later. You also are stealing languages they know: you can't use SSG to steal High Realm from someone who doesn't speak it. Some languages can't be usefully spoken without other attributes, such as mandibles.
tmack: Damn, I thought I was going to be able to get away with stealing all of someone's dots in Linguistics and hamstringing their social attacks (or, alternatively, inoculating someone against social attacks). Still, using SSG to steal the dots in Strength or Melee of someone with a huge-ass sword seems like a decent gambit.
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