atolnon: (Default)
( Jul. 16th, 2013 09:59 am)
Just a quick update to help me focus on what I'm doing today and this weeks highlights.

Last week was terrible. Everything on the news was bad and I had a hard time personally. I'm just working on moving forward and not getting fixated on shit I can't do anything about. Cantown was a success, Katie had fun at the convention, and Katie's currently going in for the job interview at US Bank for a position whose job description is basically "help people stop from getting foreclosed on", which pays something like 32k a year. I finished the books I was reading, but I didn't realize the library closed early on Mondays (of all days), so I'm a day late and I'm going to renew one to take notes with and turn in the other. I also finished my 6 books for the summer reading club, which means I'm entered 6 times for a drawing for 50 bucks, I guess? My next books are Gaiman's "Ocean at the End of the Lane" which promises to be fairly quick and Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse 5" which I have actually never read.

So, good.

I'm going to do the WIR for a combination of the WoD Core and "God-Machine" because it was asked of me and because I want to. I'm compulsive, so I feel the need to start from core before I get into Mage and Changeling which are the only two core books I actually own physically for WoD. There was a point when I felt the deal gained from buying pdf won out and it's fine for tablet readers, but because I want them on my bookshelf, I might eventually break down and buy them.

Other potential purchases include Dark Ages Vampire, Vampire: the Masquerade (1st Ed or Revised, I don't know), and Hunter : the Reckoning. Ostensibly for collection purposes, but also because I like reading them. Vampire: the Requiem might be a better game, but I don't actually know. I was never huge into Vampire, and I'm just now thinking of giving it a chance.

I found some notes for nWoD Exalted, so I'm going to take enter them onto the computer and try to tidy up my living situation which is getting better but, really, our house still looks like a huge wreck.   
My personal life is going pretty well, but it doesn't make for an interesting read. I went to a party last night and didn't get hammered, so that's good. We left at about midnight-ish, probably getting out just a little before whatever was going to turn pear-shaped did so. There's a party tonight. There's a get together tomorrow to see if I want to join a role-playing group nearby, followed by a party. I'm probably going to duck out of that one. It's in St Louis, where I just was. Literally in the exact same spot, with the exact same people. Parties aren't even my thing, really. I'm over-saturated. Just, like, give me a breather. It sounds rad, I wish I had the energy and gas money, but at this point, I'm out. I've got family stuff all that upcoming week, and that shit just kills me. Family shit, man. Damn.

So, I'm obviously at home. I'm rehashing my stupid homebrew Exalted notes, you know? I've got some ideas for Fair Folk, Dragon Kings, Abyssals... stuff. I've got Lunars, Terrestrials, Solars, and Sidereals. At some point, I know that I've got to working on some very concrete rules shit, or it's all just note taking. 

If you're interested in the design direction I'm taking for this fan project, it's under the cut.
I'm drawing heavily from the newer WoD core. )
I'm still working on an alternate version of an Exalted 3rd edition in my off hours. I mean, sometimes I should be cleaning, but I've been pretty fucking depressed and you can really only muck around so long like that before you kind of think, "Okay, well, it looks a little better and I really don't want to do this anymore."

I'm a little struck by how useless a job search is in December. I wasn't picked up for holiday work after all, and I'm mostly sitting around twiddling my thumbs. Retail ain't hiring at the moment. A lot of corporate is basically out to lunch the entire month, only to stumble in a little after the 1st of January with bags under their eyes and not all that much rest to show for their time off. So I write. And I want to write something productive, but only the Exalted cylinders are firing right now. I know pretty well just to work with whatever my obsession is, anyhow, because nothing else is getting done and I've ended up with ten thousand words of notes. 

So, I know that there's a real Exalted 3rd Ed coming. I'm excited for it, too. I really like the work the designers have put out in the past, and I think it's going to be great, but I also know that what they're up to is not what I'm up to. I'm explicitly working with the old assumptions and pulling out a lot of the wiring and infrastructure in order to build a new edition. I mean, I like tics, I like the Charm structures, I enjoy the challenge. I've really liked what Exalted has done in the past - it's heavily flawed, but it's a little unprecedented, too. Skill-based powers from the obvious Melee to Bureaucracy. I want to keep that. I don't know exactly what the developers are doing - I think they've got the staff to really blow it out of the water with a brand new envisioning of the line and giving Exalted its due, but I'm still hacking the old dream because I know that nobody is ever going to make the exact game I want made. 

That's the challenge I sat down with; take Exalted and find what's not working then find a way to make it cohesive in terms of setting and mechanics, and have that setting and mechanic set work flawlessly together. For me, it's already taken replacing Attributes, yanking, merging, and adding Abilities, and reimaging where the Exalt types, mortals, Incarna, and other races fall into the setting. 

Should I be doing other things with my time? Probably. I spent 12 hours on the site of a video shoot yesterday for Stand Alone. I've been to business meetings this week, so you know, I guess this is how I blow off steam. I really, really dig mechanics like I dig setting, fiction, and academics. I wish what I'm doing seemed more accessible, so maybe I'll work on that. I think I can do that, actually; take my vision for Exalted and translate that somewhat, even if you're not really a fan of this kind of thing, normally. I'd like to have greater mechanical representation, but I think I'm at the point where I can demonstrate my direction with broader, non-mechanical language. It's worth the time for me. 
I found myself with some spare time, today. Like, not all that much, but some! In any event, instead of doing NaNo like I was supposed to, I went and clarified in print what my 'Exalted Alternate 3rd Edition' would probably look like.  

I'm just going to post the tl;dr version right now, because I remember how huge those other posts got and what I wrote earlier today was two thousand words. 

Martial Arts : 
Not technically Charms. Neither is Sorcery, actually. They're internalized Essence works, sort of proto-Charms, formed by great workings at the beginning of the high first age. Martial Arts are learned by taking Merits, and the Merits form what would look like a Charm Tree if you wrote them out. This version attempts to explain why different Exalts and even mortals get to make use of martial arts abilities. The minimum ability for many of these is going to be Brawl. 

Abilities : 
I want to drop Occult, Thrown, Craft, Linguistics, possibly Integrity, and possibly Awareness. Of course, if I can figure a good way to keep one of those (probably Awareness, but maybe Integrity) then the breakdown for castes and aspects is made easier. Occult gets lumped in with Lore, and turned into a Merit : Occultist as a pre-req for the Merit : Sorcerer or Necromancer. Linguistics is turned into a bevy of Merits, as is Craft. Integrity and Awareness Charms are shunted into other Charm Trees. I'd turn MA into Brawl. So there. 

Crafts : 
Basic crafts are elemental, and many of their Charms are shunted into Lore. Most Craft Charms suck, anyway. I had some good names for some of the advanced ones, though. 
Merit : Magitechnologist, Merit : Genesis Engineer, Merit : Vitriolic, Merit : Fate Spooler, and Merit : Geologist seemed pretty catchy. 
Advanced Merits will often have other Abilities or Merits as a pre-req. Basic Merits will probably have minimum Attributes. Like, Geologist has Craft Earth, Magitechnologist has Craft Air or Fire, and Genesis Engineer might have Lore, Medicine, and Merit: Occultist or Merit: Craft Wood. Vitriolic may not have much of a pre-requisite, but I bet learning it is still real interesting. 

I bet crafting magical materials probably gets a merit, too. Or not! I don't know, yet. 

Attributes : 
I figure we just switch to NWoD and turn Appearance into a Merit. Dropping Appearance from the roster of abilities probably helps the social combat problem. 

Backgrounds : 
Most of these just become Merits. They do the same thing, and otherwise we just have two generally similar setups competing for design space. Resources, Contacts, Striking Looks, the whole shabang. Some of these are likely to become 'dumping ground' Merits for when you're not sure what to do with your Merit points. Artifact, Striking Looks, and Resources are popular. 

If you want to see the comprehensive write-up and larger reasoning for this stuff, just say so and I'll make it available. Brent, you already have access, so don't bother. It's in Google Drive like it usually is. Mind the typos, I did it in WordPad and didn't clean it up. 
A lot of this talking may eventually roll over to a place like for the wider public's opinion, when it's coherent enough. The mechanical posts - the stuff about Martial Arts or Crafts as a Merit (and Crafts isn't something I've totally hashed out yet) is likely stuff we're going to see modified in 3 because they've been problems forever. I try to take it one segment or concept at a time, but obviously those segments are even smaller then just "Martial Arts" or "abilities as Merits".
Under the cut, again. I'll get hung up on something else soon enough, everyone.  )

Since I posted last on character competency, I spoke with Brent for a decent amount of time about nExalted, which occasionally popped up here again quite suddenly. There's a great example of a project that's been on a cold burner for a long time that we decided to re-heat pretty much out of nowhere.

And because I'm still running WoD Core / Second Sight, this'll probably be it for now on the topic so I can return to working on all the other stuff that's boiling over, to abuse and finish with the oven metaphor. Anyhow, under the cut, as usual. I know I missed a day, but this is probably the most consistent I've been with getting full ideas out in a long time so, I don't know, I guess I'm pretty happy with this anyhow. 

Cutted. )

Christ, I know. And I intend to post again today, even. Like I said, I've had these thoughts floating around for a while and I haven't done anything with them, I'm not running a game, and Exalted is getting a new edition. So, you know, whatever, man. 

Also, my last mechanics post was pretty unhinged. Like, LJ got an idea dump and it wasn't exactly coherent. This is still going to be really long. This is everything I have on Martial Arts in Exalted right now from what I want to do to exactly why I'm proposing it as a hack. It's under the cut. 
Exalted Martial Arts Game Notes )

I really think that I'm going to get four posts in four days, so I'm sorry if it seems like I'm spamming all of a sudden. I just kind of want to take this piece by piece. 

But anyway, that's why it's below the cut. )
I've had people who don't live in my house in my house for 4 out of 5 days, and for those days, they wanted my input on activities so, by today, I'm basically like "It's nothing personal. I like you. Get the hell out of my house." It's late, and I've only got one topic in me.  I don't really care what order I take this stuff in, except I'm likely to hit the easier stuff first. Brantai wants the most complicated one, but since he actually commented, that's what I'm talking about tonight.

Hey man. I'm not, like, strictly-speaking, exactly sure what the difference between Storytelling and Storyteller is here. I'm concerned to look at my books and realize that there's a subtle difference in the nWoD Core line terminology then there was in the oWoD. I'm not sure it matters, though, so I'm not going to look. I think I got your gist. 

It's long, and so is below the cut. )
atolnon: (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2012 12:25 am)
I've been trying to work out a post about competency in role-playing games, but when I've sat down, I realized I had a few different issues come up, and by the time I felt like I was getting somewhere, I had to go somewhere else and do a thing. This pattern's repeated itself three or four times now in the last week. 

On one hand, I've been running WoD. I mean, not as much as I want, but still fairly often as things go. I'm planning on using the plot for NaNoWriMo, even. For what it's worth. Ahem. But I've had fairly good success managing my own expectations for competency in game using the Core and Second Sight. Those expectations are managed by the implications in the writing for what fluff there is (usually not related to mechanics players are going to be interacting with) and the mechanics in the text. 

One excellent example if how, when it was released, it was generally lauded but the stats for the beat cop were immediately torn to shreds. The reason why was obvious - the beat cop was built using an incredible amount of experience points off the starting character template. This kind of transparency is, for me, extremely important. The newer line of WoD books has been very consistent from what I've seen in this kind of regard. Part of this is how the characters are all built off exp right from the beginning, and none of these games with Bonus Points. The character creation game can still be rigged, but the discrepancy is smaller and can typically be managed using a few simple rules of thumb. 

Exalted 2.5 is much, much messier. I don't really think anyone's surprised to hear that, but character creation is all over the place. Backgrounds are very messy, with some being clear winners and others varying by campaign from absolutely wasted to absolutely game-breaking. Bonus Points muddy the issue by allowing players to buy rank 4 and 5 skills for a single point, in some instances, making extreme specialization a much better deal then diversification early on. Experience point expenditures are different for the same thing cross-splat. The reality of combat is pervasive, but which powers you should buy aren't always clear. Certain areas of expertise are oddly structured, so that being able to survive combat (which is fun, so tends to be prioritized) is extremely expensive, which leaves other interesting and fun powers largely off the table until much later, or at risk of accidentally being dissolved by the first attack they're unable to defend against. 

So, there are issues. That's part of the problem you run into with a system originally designed to partially mimic the deck building feel of collectible card games, and also runs into the problems about the concern of verisimilitude in setting and different expectations from different writers. I struggled with some of these concerns when writing and editing my own game, which I guess I've decided to leave titled Dream, until I figure out otherwise. 

It's a system that's incredibly stripped down, but the potential problem exists despite that, because as long as you put character creation options into the hands of players, the possibility of making a character 'wrong' is present. Getting into the details about all three of those things is obviously going to make a post really long by LJ standards, but that's what I've been wrestling with. I've certainly got notepad pages full of inane scribbles. I'd really like to get into even one of those tonight, but it's late and I'm probably busy again most of tomorrow. I guess I'm making a promise to myself to try to do it tomorrow, though, at least in part so that I can fully realize some of these design issues. 

That's not even to mention, really, that I feel that languages, crafts, and to a wider degree, styles of martial arts would be better served being merits like in newer versions of WoD and that the structure presented - in part - for Changeling is worth looking into for Exalted. Possibly, anyhow. A mash-up of inherent abilities based on splat, a flatter power curve between Exalt types, Charms, applicable Merits, Merits instead of Backgrounds, free Excellencies (if that structure is maintained) as inherent powers, ect, et al. Prioritization has been extremely difficult for me. I want to do everything all at once. I've been working incredibly hard to focus and actually accomplish one thing at a time, but sometimes I just have to check in and talk about what else I want. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 19th, 2012 12:47 pm)
Exalted 3E was announced not too long ago, joining the ranks of games that are being released that I want and the larger, more comprehensive list of games I just generally really, really want. But, it's pretty far down the track and release cycles being what they are, Sidereals, Dragon-Blooded, Lunars, and all the others are going to take quite a while to make their appearances so, practically speaking, 2.X Edition has still got a healthy shelf life on it. 

More to the point, if I remember what I've read correctly, there's going to be a fair amount of system shakeup and the greater it is, the more that 2.X (and 1st Edition) retains its value. I never moved on to 4th Edition D&D because I didn't have the money and what I saw of the mechanics didn't really resonate with me enough to make my list, but lots of people signed on with 4E, or Pathfinder, or any number of alternatives to 3.X D&D. Many, I know for a fact, have or had shelves full of older D&D editions already but many where probably dipping their feet into the ocean of roleplaying for the first time. 

Which is to say, I think that a new edition is ultimately a sound idea because while I know a lot of people already have invested heavily in previous editions of Exalted, there are a lot of people that don't even have a single Exalted book on their shelves. It's a gameline famous for its mechanical issues, impressive setting, and for better or worse, it's anime-styled art and over-the-top abilities. For many fans, the last point is one of the biggest points of contention, but if White Wolf can really sell a new, robust system and a change in ambiance, they may be able to pick up the market of people who haven't already bought into the line. 

My interest lies chiefly with the modified system and the hope that 3rd Edition is going to be what 2nd Edition probably should have. 1st Edition Exalted, when I first cracked those books, was a game that probably needed to be seen to be believed. It was full of impressive line art and characters, and I hadn't ever seen a power set quite like it. It was a long time before I actually got to play it, but it turned into a campaign that lasted off and on for over 5 years of fairly regular play and spanned a majority of the Exalt types as PCs. 2nd Edition didn't really fix the problems that had cropped up, though, so much as it created seperate issues that took the place of 1st Eds. Some books were excellent, but others were so bad as to be considered unplayable (Sidereals, I'm looking at you) while others were cut-and-paste jobs like Dragon-Blooded. Meanwhile, some splats were consigned to the dustbin almost as they were being written (Abyssals), and the huge step up that the Lunars got moved them from fuzzy rape-monsters to mearly mediocre. Whole segments of the gameline designed to accentuate certain aspects of the Exalted setting have been panned as hilariously unplayable. (Scroll of the Monk)

One thing I don't want to do is get on the writer's case in a personal way. Exalted is a tough line to write for; the mechanics are almost intentionally over complicated and everyone has a different view on what the setting emphasis should be, so mistakes are going to happen. All I really want to emphasize is that the quality needs to be consistent - especially the books for the main character types. A new edition is a chance to start fresh because, well, I love reading through the 2.5 Errata, actually*, but it never should have been needed in the first place.

What I will say is that I'm especially thankful for the Ink Monkey crew for their incredible devotion to a flagging gameline that I love. I think that WW has made a great decision in continuing to employ their devious paws for future developments, and I'm very glad to hear that Grabowski is back on the team. 

* because I'm a neurotic fan-boy
The last Exalted game is on Thursday, for which I more or less breathe a sigh of relief. I entered into this game with mixed feelings - I wanted to be a part of the gaming group again, I figured it would be better then last time, I wanted to get a chance to play a Sidereal (my favorite Exalt type), well, for plenty of reasons. But I also knew that there was a good chance things would get fucked and never recover and my ST obliged me with a game that was more a combination of story time and a lecture on morals from someone with a Manichean ethos, possessing a grasp of the subtle along such other luminaries as hand grenades, jack hammers, and Bill O'Riley. 

So here we are at the end, with a twist ending that I can already tell you all the hows, whys and where's of. I don't know if you can call it a twist ending at that point any more then you can claim you're surprised to be sick after deciding to tackle all those pitchers of margarita during an ill advised happy hour. We know. We failed, but wait, it was a success all along and those assholes that hang around being better then us at everything and have never, ever been wrong ever were right! Yeah, we saw it coming. You forgot to unplug the big, neon sign on the horizon. But it's ok. At least we're drinking. 

I entered the game building a character that I generally had hoped to survive to the end with. Someone with layers of shoddy, tissue-like defenses because that's what you get when you're a Sidereal. After weighing all my options and looking at what I had to work with, I found the most workable Sidereal Charms available that I could by at character creation then started looking for something sturdier. Like Dragon-Blooded. Or at least Celestial Martial arts. But it was all for naught, because the claim that our ST would be pulling no punches was rendered moot by the total lack of any fights that were not cut scenes ever. I killed a mortal once, and was told what a bad person I was, and also a slut, and that was it for 6 months. I like to exaggerate, but there's nowhere to go with this. 

What happened instead was that we would occasionally be told we couldn't do something and if we wanted to badly enough we would make him let us roll some dice. If it wasn't combat, we were told it was impossible without any particular need to check notes or information and if it wasn't, we killed it. This worked to our detriment, because near the end of the game, one of us would occasionally kill an aggressor that had been assumed to be unassailable and a way needed to be created to keep us on track. In essence, our Charms are a better way of telling in what way we'd accidently fuck up the plot by doing something.

So, if you know about Exalted, below are some of the highlights on my solidly working Chosen of Serenity now. I'm not going to write it all out because I no longer have any time and me spending an hour or a half hour writing anything at all represents the greater part of my non-work, non-sleep, non-eating time. (I have about 5 hours of free time a night, tops, which turns into something like 3 after all is said and done.)

Perfected Kata Bracers + Water Dragon Form : My entire character concept. Forget my back story, my merits, any other Charms. I add these together with my existing skills and that's really it. I kept a notecard sitting around with what the bracers did, another for what the charm did, and finally one just clearly labelled and numbered telling everyone how many dice I was going to roll. I had to bring it out for every single use of it because it was always a major deal. Also, proof of what an unquestioning asshole I am.

Every Perform Charm but Harmonic Completion : Worse then useless. I was actually derided for trying to use them once because I was wasting our time. 

Harmonic Completion + Air Dragon's Site : Totally broken. My Dodge DV never actually protected me from anything, but I once avoided a mental compulsion effect. 

Methodology of Secrets : I used this so much that every other player at the table bought it. Joking aside, it was the workhorse of our day to day games. 

Every Water Dragon Charm but the Form : I used Flowing Defense once and Theft of Essence Method once in 9 months. I bet they'd be cool if anything ever happened, but they were pretty much a waste of exp otherwise.

Bottomless Depths Defense : The last Charm I bought. Total perfect soak for the cost of one Agg. I told my ST I bought it and he shrugged. 

Impeding the Flow : Every time I use it, my ST tries to figure out why it won't work and it usually does anyhow. It's useful.
Duck Fate : I used this one time and everyone else bought it for when we don't feel like being made an example of. Actually, Avoidance Kata worked the same way. 

Joy in Adversity : I bought it, but my DV never once protected me.

Secrets of Future Strife : Every time I use it, I have to explain it because it makes me seem good at something. My ST always just shakes his head in disgust. Ok, once I get, but after that, I think you should just expect it. 

Every other Charm : Useless. Never used. 

Colleges : We used them in the first two games and loved them. Never used again. We don't have time for this kind of bullshit. 

Sifu/Mentor/Savant/Face/Salary : These never show up in game. 

Resplendent Destiny : No.
Destiny of any other sort :  I insisted on making one once and it had no effect despite being a legendary success. 

Skills at 5 - perform, dodge, martial arts : My perform was occasionally amusing. Every time someone rolled to hit me, they succeeded by one. Despite being derided for taking skills at 5, it was the best idea I ever had except for the bracers. 

Languages : Never used. 

I was given some other artifacts to represent epic, in-game changes : These have no effect and are measurably worse then what I'm using. No thank you. 

And there you go!
atolnon: (Default)
( Dec. 22nd, 2011 10:34 am)
It's another busy day. Time to write a little here while coffee's brewing (and subsequently being drunk). I get to take a drug test, which I could be more thrilled about, I guess. Now that I think about it, this coffee will probably help make that happen. Sorry for that image, LJ.

There's been a decent amount of role-playing on this end. A lot of it has been the same tired Exalted game, which I keep going to because I want to like it. The game itself is no longer really fun at all. The ST comes in, gives his monologue, has us debate for an hour, then makes our decisions for us and discourages both dice-rolling and role-playing in a way that, frankly, I've grown tired of. I'd be almost ashamed to say that I'm going just because it'd be scandalous to pull my character out now at this late date and I don't want to be That Guy except that I feel like the ST is doing the same thing. We're all trapped in this unpleasant gravity well that should only last about two more games. 

Katie's coming back from NYC though, and I'm pretty pleased about that. An evening of recuperation time and maybe finishing our third session of our WoD game on Friday. It's pretty different to play one on one, and I might talk about it pretty soon.
There are days, and I think a lot of people can associate with this - especially people who suffer from depressive tendencies - where you kind of feel like you should be commended just for making yourself presentable. I'm having trouble getting stuff I need done done, so I've literally got 'shave, shower, dress, brush teeth' on a to-do list. I can only cross it off if I do all of them. It's just some phenomenally basic shit and I acknowledge that, but if it works, it works. I no-shit kind of image myself getting some kind of bullshit gaming trophy for doing it like, I don't know, I finish doing all of those things before noon and a little beep goes off and it just says, "Presentable". 

And I think, "Yesssssssss." Pride is not my fatal flaw, everyone, and I really don't mind telling you. 

So, I've been kind of depressing lately. I know it's a drag. I'm not trying to be a douche about it. Political rants are probably my least commented upon posts, and that's fine. You all know I just need to get it out of my system. And I've been trying to post something fun and constructive about role-playing. It just keeps coming out as a shitty rant every time, which I realize about halfway through and decide to do something else rather then bore you like that. 

I choose to bore you like this, instead. You're welcome.

I use Exalted as an extended metaphor for gaming in general, because it's what we're playing and at this point, we've been playing for a very decent amount of time. Our gaming group is beginning to grow fatigued at the same time that I'm getting even more excited because we've finally hit that critical moment where we're movers and shakers and where the ST can't casually put something large on the table and say, "You can't." because we're Exalted and we probably can. Personally, I like that empowerment. I've been on the other end of it, having pitted extra large, extra potent enemies against my players and having them mow over them like so much dry grass. They shouted and cheered and high-fived while I sat there chagrined before I also smiled. 

"What the hell." I thought. "Look at how happy these people are."

So, that's me pouting. We're just about bad-asses if we arn't already, and our ST's sitting there saying, "Ok, let's pack it up." My suspicion is that it's basically become too difficult to easily move us from one point to another, multiplying the stress and work of the job. That's a post for another time, but there's nothing to be done. Let's have the boss fight, kill off most of the PCs who've been stressing the ST out (I predict Panahon dies in the final fight almost ignominiously, so I'll be pulling out all the stops to avoid it.), and wrap this shit up. The end. 

The real deal is this, though. I know Exalted has social combat and three out of the five characters are different kinds of very social characters. We've got the lifelong socialite, the clever politician, and the ecstatic performer, so we've got three wildly different angles at least for us to approach social endeavors. In the previous game, we had an Abyssal who specialized in Presence and another who had attempted to dabble as a writer/calligrapher before it was made clear that this Wasn't That Kind of Game. I have never seen a social combat at our table. 

It's not for lack of trying. Rarely a game goes by without at least one of us requesting to roll Join Debate. We're typically just completely ignored. It's a potent response. Either hold the game up like a douchebag insisting on rolling dice (which I do sometimes, and I'll get flack for it) or move on with a game proceeding too fast to actually bother with playing it. 

Now, this is where I want to complain, but instead I'll end with this. The above? It's ridiculously frustrating. If you're the ST or the DM or whatever, and you don't like the social mechanics, I can understand. Everyone has an opinion about that kind of thing, and the discussions can get volatile. But what it really boils down to is, if you have a table full of people who are requesting to use these rules, who have invested experience points into those skills (which means they've invested real life hours into them), make them count. Use 'em. Try it out. Throw your players a bone. And don't do it half-assedly and don't do it spitefully. The best way to ensure that everyone has a shitty time and you do too is to purposely fuck shit up.

The game is not a race. Play it, don't watch it.

So, I ran my mouth about Dragon Age and the prose wasn't particularly snappy. My apologies. If I were to do it again, I'd probably cut it down to about half or shoot to be able to include some additional commentary in the same space, but whatever. I'll probably just come back to it later, instead. There's your glimpse of the future for the day.

Today I'm going to go over a scenario, and if you've got an opinion on it, I'd like to hear it because I don't think there's one right answer to it. It is, actually, based on something that happened at the gaming session last night which was generally a very good one - especially compared to the do-nothing sessions of the last few weeks - but, as always, I'm trying to find something to take away from it.

My character is something of a combat wombat. This is, more or less, because Exalted is a pretty lethal system and it can be hard to determine if an encounter is reasonable balanced. In this case, two things happened.

Frank, our ST, more or less has a big, honking elemental dragon appear at a party we're attending. This is a totally legit move, mechanically, and indicates someone we know has put a hit out on the party. Frank is modestly familiar with the rules of the game and has run it for kind of a while. He's aware that my character primarily uses her Dodge Defense Value (DDV), and the rest use Soak. The Dragon uses a power that means nobody can use the DDV, which is a legit power, then uses a breath weapon which can't be parried, which means that the only available defense is Soak.

A dozen bystanders are immediately dissolved in a shower of essence-laden electricity. The other players are fine. I use Water Dragon Form to add an additional 6 to my soak bringing it up to 13.* ST rolls damage where I can't see. Tells me 2 damage post-soak, which gives me a -1 modifier to all actions.

I go immediately afterwards, execute a 3 die athletics stunt to end up 50 ft in the air as a move action, move three tics and because of my speed, go immediately again. I roll 25 dice on a single attack and get 21 successes.** I beat the DDV or PDV, get about 14 extra successes, and knock 12 off for soak and basically roll similarly for damage. I got a 3 die and a 2 die stunt and use Theft of Essence Method to actually come out of the attack with more mote then I started it with. I kill the dragon in one hit. Nobody else gets an action that combat.

Later, and I can't confirm this but I don't have any reason to not believe it, I'm told the dragon would have done 8 damage to me but the punch had been pulled. Punches haven't been pulled in the past, but apparently this one had been. 8 would have put me past incapacitated and on death's door, which would have taken me out of yet another session.

Q&A time. This is pretty much the only combat I've been in since I beat up a mortal a few months ago. The rest of the party has fought dragon blooded, lunars, and celestial beings designed to guard the sun itself and I'm usually driving the getaway car. Everyone was pretty pleased with me offing the dragon, as well, but all that aside, I'm wondering if that combat was kosher.

Basically, it reminds me of the arguments about perfect defenses on, because the artifact I'm using was designed with the later understanding of the game in mind - that is, an aggressive character with a little effort can roll a truly ridiculous number of dice to hit. I didn't bother to flurry or anything. That was just a single punch unmodified by Excellencies. My companions roll some pretty hefty dice, but me stacking the Form Charm and the Bracer (which it's explicitly designed to do) results in +9 die all by itself. At the same time, my own temporary soak of 13 would have been completely useless.

For me, the answer is simple. Dump upwards of 5 or 6 motes into that soak until I get the perfect soak charm from Water Dragon. But for players not designed to withstand that kind of punishment, am I making the game too lethal and should we nerf my bracers, or something? Or, if not, should I just ask to take my lumps as they come since I've brought it on myself? I don't know. I've gotten one really cool success story at this point, and maybe I should just enjoy the fact that, for once, I get to be seen as a really bad ass martial artist who hasn't even shown her full deck of tricks yet.

* The numbers are rather academic, but here they are. Stamina 2, Form Charm (allows full Stamina Soak for lethal damage, adds Martial Arts rating of 5 to Soak, can spend 1 mote for 2 Soak for a single attack). So, 2 + 5 + 6.
** Dexterity +5, Martial Arts +5, Specialization : Dragon Claws +1, Stunt +2, Form Charm +5, Claws +4, Perfected Kata Bracers +4, -1 damage = 25. I acknowledge that the successes are totally ridiculous. I rolled multiple 10s, and was a little embarrassed.
I've not been chatty because I've just moved in proper like, which means the both of us are exceptionally busy making room, doing cleaning, and trying to find how we're going to be in this situation. On top of that, there's the whole NaNo thing. You know what I'm talking about.

The midnight transition from October to November 1st is really the only time when you can really double up on your word count for a day and I hit my 1660 around 1:00 AM with some of the worst fucking prose of my life. Or at least, that's what it seems. It doesn't even have the wit and polish of my typical first draft, but there's nothing to be done about it. Because I'd like to see if I can actually hit the word count and produce a novel - no matter how awful - it stays. I understand immediately, then, why December is the unofficial national editing month.

I'll probably post something about Exalted and role-playing tomorrow. Maybe even today, because I've had gaming on the brain lately. Our Sidereal game is getting close to wrapping up, and my guess is that I'll ramble on about it for a while, delete everything I've written and post something snappy about what I've learned. After a while, I just think, "Man, fuck it. I'm pretty sure I could write a short book on what I've learned not to do at this point. It can be painful to learn your lessons inversely, but I guess that's what they call 'experience'.
I'm not really a fan of having my last entry be a paean to my more negative fundamental aspects, so I've felt driven to produce something new for you to read. Something a little more entertaining? I'm still not really sure what to say about Burning Wheel, even though I've already tried to write something up, so let's talk about Exalted.

You know, the repercussions of Drunxalted can follow you. This is not really a bonus. Even Frank, who can put it away a lot better then I can mentioned that "I'm not sure if I could even run those one-shots while drinking boiler-makers." Deadly stuff. We've all learned a lesson, here, if we can remember it. I certainly won't forget it anytime soon.

On a less recriminating note! Some parts of the game have given us more then usual license to use the weird, fun aspects of the Sidereal charm set. This really gives credence to some of the charms that I had referred to as 'utility', feeling that they weren't terribly flashy but they did come in handy time and time again. Occult's Mark of Exaltation provides a small but nearly free bonus, plus allowing you to see dematerialized spirits. Lore's Methodology of Secrets has been extremely useful and flexible, making the character that uses it an expert on different things from day to day. I have to admit to 'abusing' it by changing it on a daily basis in game to boost everything from Investigation rolls to, in one story, making myself an excellent recruiter, trainer, then general with different War specialties.

Meanwhile, we really haven't fought anything after the first game. I had been told that the martial arts world was going to be huge in this game, and I made a character with that in mind. Our group has met one person from that subplot, and I wasn't even there. Bummer.

Drunkxalted - basically playing Exalted while getting pretty trashed.

Our games have been following a trend lately - and I say games, because Frank's been running those one shots - where alcohol isn't just present at a session, but been an active ingredient in the planning.

I don't really like it.

Now, I've drunk while playing before. In fact, it may be more common now then not drinking, but I've found that after the first one or two, games really go off the rails. Last nights game was like this. It wasn't that we didn't have a pretty good time, because we did, but there wasn't a lot of gaming going on. I didn't really wanna get hammered on a Tuesday during our game, so I was staying pretty clean until it became clear that things just weren't happening tonight.

However, we did get 7 experience points. I guess that's point two - that normal things, even when they occur, tend to be exaggerated. I like getting exp fine. I mean, you use it to buy powaz, and that's fun. But I don't remember why we got 7, and I'll wager that Frank doesn't really recall the specifics of it either.

I like Exalted. When I sit down, I want to play Exalted. I drink all the damn time, but Tuesday is game night.
This isn't a condemnation of the group, this is a decision I've come to now, but I feel pretty firm on it.
In general, I've been doing a whole lot more playing games then running or designing them lately, so I've got less stuff to really put out there about gaming. Everything else has been really domestic, and I guess you'd probably be interested in me talking about cooking or whatever, but it hadn't occurred to me for the most part, and work has continued to be pretty hectic. Add in what has become an increasing weird personal life again, and I guess it's just been difficult for me to know what to say to you.

Re : Cooking. I know I can't really follow up Luxirare, you know? It's easy for me to be pleased with the cucumber, tomato, and cilantro pico de gallo knock-off served with a plastic measuring spoon out of tupperware but it's certainly not impressive. Tastes good, though.

Exalted has been weekly, which we love. I know I've complained about my lack of game running stamina, but Frank really doesn't seem to have that kind of problem. I've gone back and forth with talking about the mechanical aspects. You have to get a really stunning success on the prayer and the calligraphy to get good odds on a Resplendent Destiny and even though I'm probably the character with the strongest odds at the table, I  haven't been able to muster any really strong destinies yet. I've mostly gotten bad luck and ended up with one or two successes which is at least good enough for a month or so in game time in a pinch. We haven't really gotten into a serious fight yet, either, which Frank is trying to steer us away from - though there was a pretty close call last game.

It's also feeling like we're really getting our feet under us for the Skype Burning Wheel sessions. I've been wanting to talk about those and I haven't been sure what to say, but now I feel like I'm getting into something that would warrant a post, soon.

In other news, my hand still hurts and it kind of bothers me a lot of the time. I fell on it, and there's really no good solution but to take it easy, try not to make it worse, and keep weight off it.
Man alive, but I am tired as shit. People tell me that others work regular 50, 60, 70 hour weeks; I have nothing but respect for those people if they can do it and not feel dead while walking. I don't get anything out of it, and getting up at 6:45 on a Saturday after a full week of work to do another full day of training is just an utter drag. Work's been really hectic, and we're coming up on mandatory OT, too. There's really no way around it, so I'm going to the bistro today to have someone else make my food for me because I've literally earned it - cash money.

There was something I wanted to bring up earlier which I never, obviously, got around to. A gaming trick that tickled me immensely and that I feel, given my constant bitching and moaning, I really should point out. As a brief bit of background, our ST has been running this Exalted game for a long time. Because we've got gamer OCD, and because he had this idea, instead of just one Exalt, we've played campaigns with almost each different type - Solar, then Lunar, then Dragon-blooded, then Abyssal, and now we're Sidereals. To a greater or lesser extent, most of these have been linear - one game happens chronologically after another. Our ST mixed it up a bit with some chronological overlap with the Abyssals which, to be honest, I panned then and I generally feel similar now. It was a great concept, and but I feel like it stymied us somewhat.

Now he's doing it again, and I think it's a great idea. Because Sidereals suffer from hubris like any other exalt, and we're starting from even a little before the very first Solar game several years ago. The ST has his notes, we have what we remember, and unlike the Abyssals, now we get to fuck with Fate. With our imperfect memories, incomplete notes, new motivations and new loyalties must work behind to keep fate on track - or change it to suit our new wishes. I like that we've been given the tools to salvage or destroy the story that we've made.

Obviously this isn't a trick that you can pull every day. But it's a good example of seeing an opportunity in your gaming and thinking outside the normal gaming perimeters to engage your players at a different level.


atolnon: (Default)


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags