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SolVachel's Warstrider Diatribe
Heya. Nice to see you here, pull up a chair and allow me to explain why I tread this dangerous ground. My first Exalt was a Twilight, every game I've played in or ran has had some crazy protagonist Artificier. Warstriders have been found and oggled by my players in every printed Exalted Material available. It's kind of a big issue for them.
Needless to say some fool always wants to build, purchase, or find one. As always it seems to fall to me to figure a few things out about them, and for the most part all the rules I've been presented with stick in my throat and choke me. Superheavy plate? Artifact 5. Warstrider? Artifact 3!
No. No, no, no.
So I've set out to refine what we've been given.
What is a Warstrider?
Easy enough, right? Big mecha-magi-armor! But really what gives with it? Why does it need repair (it's made of imperishable 5MM right)? What's up with control harnesses, straps, pulleys and the like? I just don't jive with it.
For the sake of this system a Warstrider is a set of Artifacts that function as a whole to augment an Exalt's battlefield presence by increasing Strength, Armor, Mobility, and Leadership.
Kay, what does all this mean?
This means that your typical Warstrider is a NA Artifact. I can hear the fanboys groan as I type. Good news is I'm not running for you. Bad news is that's not much of an explanation.
The Crunch of the Matter
Your Warstrider has two basic components that you're interested in.
A basic Warstrider Frame provides a charcter with the augmented Strength and Mobility one normally thinks of when they think Warstrider. For ease of mechanics you may stat a Warstrider Frame as a Level 3+ Artifact which boosts Strength and Movement. Nothing more Nothing less. I'm providing a table below as a general guideline. YMMV depending on how powerful you think a pure strength adding artifact will be.
||Warstrider Frame||Strength||Movement||Rating|| ||Common||+10||x2||3|| ||Noble||+15||x3||4|| ||Royal||+20||x4||5||
What you have now is a 5MM Framework that you strap into. For high class ones we are talking White Jade and Orichalcum bones, Starmetal joints and ligaments, and smooth taut Moonsilver musculature. No repairs, no cogs no wheels. You attune to it and bam! Stronger! Faster!
Sadly you're now some shmuck strapped into a big target and you've got no armor. Depending on how nice the storyteller is you might, just maybe, be able to wear armor in this thing. Me, I dissallow it.
So if you're poor you have some smith slap some Mortal Steel Plates on it and go to town. Treat it as say, Articulated Plate, maybe even Super Heavy Articulated Plate.
But hey, we're going all out here right? I said NA Artifact right? Cool, can do. Lets throw another table down, of Warstrider Armor.
||Warstrider Armor||Soak||Fatigue||Mobility||Rating|| ||Common||15||6||6||3|| ||Noble||20||4||4||4|| ||Royal||25||2||2||5||
Ok, so now you've got some serious soak action going on, and not bad penalties either, provided you've picked up the armor as a second artifact, and a level 5 one at that.
"What about Essence Discharge Weapons, and all those cool subsytems in Wonders of the Lost Age?
You're getting 20 Strength and 20 Soak and you still want more? Cool, can do.
Each subsystem is in fact it's own artifact mounted onto and within either the Warstrider Frame or Warstrider Armor. Essence Thrust Drive? Level Three Artifact, just like Transcendant Phoenix Pinions. Essence Gauntlets? Level Three again, go check out the Power Maces. Oblivion's Panopoly? ...Slept With FFL recently?
This makes putting together a singularly epic piece of war machine hideosly costly and expensive, mote wise, background wise, and if you're building it material and time wise. I feel this is good. You can still have Common Warstriders galavanting around Lookshy and The Realm, after all it's just Two Level Three Artifacts. But Solar Royal Warstriders with Rotary Shoulder Mounted Fiery Solar Cannons will be a bit more rare.
This system also makes it easier to have a damaged Warstrider without dickering with what it does at it's level. You simply remove parts. You find the frame of an ancient warstrider stripped down to it's barest bones, all traces of the mounted essence weaponry gone, and the armor in shattered parts strewn in a nameless battlefield. Congrats, you get a level 4 Frame and nothing else. Go conscript your twilight to forge the 10 foot tall Golden Armor of Doom for it to wear.
A major drawback to this is Essence Commitment costs. It quickly becomes highly draining to equip your 700 subsystem battle panopoly. I have found in my gaming that tossing artifacts at charcters can lead to a few rather funny effects and is, in the end, a self correcting problem. At some point characters will tire of having 75% of their pool committed, day in and day out, to items that they might never use.
For the larger items and during the First age I imagine Solars had essence accumulators, hearthstone settings and mystical mojo packs to help lessen te Essence Burden. Whether these are further artifacts or included in the armors can be a case-by-case basis.
This is still very much a work in progress as most of my stuff is, but it's a strong representation of what I see Warstriders to be. Please, as always, feel free to comment here and give me some feedback and fuel. ~ SolVachel
I heartily endorse the spirit of this work. My guess regarding commitment is some sort of means to use Hearthstones to lessen commitment on these things. Thus, why we always see Warstriders needing hearthstone-based power. -- GreenLantern
- 'The spirit' only? I am crushed. Seriously tho, thanks for the comment. You use any systems to streamline this idea in your games? ~ SolVachel
First, a curiousity question - what are the commitments on these artifacts?
Second, I think you might be confused - Essence subsystems like Oblivion's Panoply apply to Celestial Battle Armors, which are a totally different kettle of fish from warstriders. With a warstrider, you buy any artifact weapons and systems as seperate artifacts already.
Now, the crux - I think you've made warstriders too powerful.
Bear with me. I realize how counter-intuitive that statement is.
The thing is, as written, you've removed all the major downsides that make warstriders not worth buying for most characters. The +3 difficulty to hit small targets is gone, which is huge. The maintenance requirements are gone, which is also huge (and makes this not magitech anymore, which saddens me, but that's just a personal preference), because now you don't need to have Resources 5 and a major savant onhand at all times just to keep the stuff. The 3-dot Hearthstone that's needed to be completely used just to power the thing in addition to crippling Essence costs is gone, freeing up 3 background dots and removing the need to protect your Manse. The fixed Strength, preventing all your Strength-boosting effects from being useful, is gone, allowing Strength to climb much higher than traditional warstriders allow. The net result is that, for 6 background dots, you have a +10 Strength, x2 movement, 15 B/L soak device with no drawbacks beyond the Mobility and Fatigue. Instead of being a siege engine that you strap into, you've created a devastatingly powerful battle armor. I'm fairly sure that wasn't the desire, was it? - FrivYeti
I'm aware that Celestial Battle armor has Essence related subsytems, but I assume that Warstriders may also have similar, oblivion's panopoly as a reference was a joke. Unless I missed an errata didn't strength boosting charms always work with warstriders? Secondarily you still suffer all the penalties associated with being in a huge Warstrider. Perception sucks, and hitting small things is also a pain. I've not detailed commitment costs in this for a couple of reasons. Namely that they are fairly inconsistent all around, and a lot of people have different views on how much Artifacts cost mote wise, similarly the power level of the armor, as regards strength and soak, is just a rough outline, not a set-in-stone rule for how much these things cost. As you said the repair and magitech issue is a matter of taste, and while I can appreciate it I just don't find it working for my groups. One too many things to keep track of. Regadring the power level of 6 dots of artifact granting 15/15 soak and +10 str and doubling your movememnt, imho, it's not that great. SuperHeavy mortal plate provides near that soak, and a Daiklave gets you better combat power for your buck (accuracy and damage vs dmg and Feats of str). There are a few good ways to tone it down, if you feel it's neccessary, and as I stated this is just how I deal with them. I've left it pretty open so that it can be tailored to preference, but still applying the general idea of Warstriders = Multiple Artifacts = NA lvl. ~ SolVachel Slightly intimidated discussing this with people he admires on the wiki.