Thoughts on Exalted (1 of 2)

Wind, Bear, and Moon Proposal: (2 / 26 weeks)
Muddy Reflections Reading: (2 / 26 weeks)
Summer Biking: (104.1 / 400 km)

I had a lot to think about last night. Mainly dealing with the Twilight's anima banner. For those in my game, I'm not going to change it, but I got to talking about it some people online and they made some comments that kind of bothered me and pointed out a few things.

Start with the anima power. I mentioned that the Dawn caste got pinged nearly to death but the Twilight was basically ignoring everything since the anima power negates ping. At the time, I thought it was the only time in the entire system that let you do that. Apparently there are some Lunar powers that also do it, but that is less of an issue since custom charms are possible for that type of thing.

One of the comments I got was that a Dawn caste should be built so they never can get hit. Basically saying that uteck, who plays the Dawn, should have designed his character so he would be immune to this fight using charms. Now, I had a couple minor issues on that. Everyone has access to charms, anyone can create the same charm profile and each of the charms requires motes to use and there are rules on combos or using one charm an action. However, the anima powers are effectively free. Once activated, they affect every attack without using a charm, without bothering with the rules of one charm per action, or anything else. The pinnacles of fighting, the Dawn caste, has the ability to inspire a bit of fear (+2 DV by the canon rules) as opposed to the Twilight's ability to negate damage inflicted (4 health levels when the average human has 7). If you don't know the system, Twilights are geared to be the "mage" of the system. In D20 rules, it's kind of like having damage reduction for your mages. It's great that the mage-types have a better survivability, but I just feel that an automatic ability to reduce damage significantly is a bit nicer than a 5% chance reduction in getting hit (well, the math is more complicated, but 1 DV negates roughly 2 dice of attack).

If everyone stuck to the archetypes of the game, this would be pretty simple to work with. Twilights make magical items and cast spells. Of the three Twilights in my current game, only one of them casts spells and she cast a spell in combat for the first time on Saturday. Also, my Twilights aren't abusing this nifty negate ping damage as much, but it still gets frustrating since my "mooks" were trying their hardest and still not succeeding.

When I brought this up in the chat room, I got a flurry of responses, most of them negative. Some were about the Dawn caste not having a good charm combination, which I disagree since character concept should be key for any character. The other was that I was having 22 dice attacks. According to them, even for seven full players, I should not really be using over 12 dice to attack someone. It doesn't matter that I can't actually hit the party with 12 dice often. According to them, I'm not being smart enough to handle it since a "good" storyteller should be able to threaten a group with characters who can't hit the players. They also told me I was wrong for giving zombies excellencies, because the book doesn't have them.

The impression I got from them points out a aspect of Exalted that I've never really been comfortable with. From their point of view, playing Solars is about playing a game where you mow through your opponents and eventually encounter someone who slows you down a bit before you splatter them and go back to being awesome. It's about fighting one or two people (exactly one opponent in an adventure according to them) who has comparable skills to one player. So, not being a challenge. At least, that is what it seems like. I find games where you can win every fight kind of boring, which is what I upgrade most of my opponents, partially to compensate for my own dice rolling and lack of storyteller intelligence, but also to make sure they don't know if they are going to win.

It made me feel bad, because they were telling me that I wasn't being a good storyteller. Fluffy pointed out, everyone keeps coming back to my game. Obviously, the people who matter (my players) are the ones that count and they apparently don't think I'm a terrible storyteller. Frustrating, yes, bad, probably not. She also pointed out, I'm creating a game for them, and if means deviating from the rules to make it fun, then deviate away.

There is a reason I married that woman, you know that?

So, I still try to keep things consistent, but obviously, I'm a storyteller who makes changes to rules. I'm never completely happy with any game system, except the one I created, Balance. D20, Exalted, they all have quirks that I'm not comfortable with. Some I live with (Twilight anima powers), some I change (changing everything to yen to simplify accounting and getting rid of the Resource dots system). Everything I do is to create a story, to make it fun for everyone. Actually, we were watching some hideous documentary on Dungeons and Dragons at GenCon a while back. There was a lady on there who said that adventures made terrible novels, because they didn't follow the standard novel structure and the plots weren't deep enough. Uteck laughed and told me one reason he loved being in my game was that exact reason, it was like being in a novel. Plots and all.