CharmCreationGuide/DaveAndDariusArgueCharmBalance

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Originally found at Discussions/AccesibleContent, it was pretty damn tangential to that topic. And so hath been moved :)

To Summarize

DS and Dave both think the other, and many other people besides, are having Wrong Bad Fun with regard to Spell-Shattering Palm and other forms of one-upmanship. HGD is the line where Wrong Bad Fun is drawn...if something trumps HGD, it is Wrong and Bad. On DS's side, this derives from DS's players, who seem determined to recreate DBZ, which DS does not seem to enjoy.

The Discussion

DaveFayram
One thing we have to remember as we make new charms and explore the space which is modern Exalted ability is the idea of Balance. Unless you're in a 1-player game, game balance is important. It's easy to just say, "Solar are the best, so they can do X with a charm." Resist this temptation. Just because thematically it might be appropriate for solars to do something doesn't mean that it should be done. Note that DSD, even in the new corebook revisions, still cannot block arrows, even though Archery is normally blockable. The Abyssal version is similarly constrained, iirc.
Why is this? The answer is game balance. One of the reasons Exalted has done so well, so far, is that the published material is so balanced. This is why the Sidereal's melee tree gave everyone pause, it seems unbalanced. Actually, the more I play with Impeding the Flow, the more I begin to wonder about it. I may rule it costs 4 motes, not 3. I think 3 is just this side of too cheap.
Creating new charms in Exalted is very difficult, if you keep an eye towards balance, because there are SO many charms, and artifact, and combinations. It's easy for a charm to become the uber-trick when combined with another charm. This may or may not be your intention. Combine this problem with people's tendancy to avoid speedbumps (which are NECESSARY and NOT A BAD THING), and you can see charm trees that rapidly spiral out of control.
Ideally, our charms should be as good as canon charms, and sometimes this leads to very odd results. We should try and keep this in mind as we decide what/who can do what/who. :) Strictly speaking, not all of Exalted's content SHOULD be accessible. It's kept that way for when breaking the rules is too cool not to do.
DariusSolluman
See, in my mind, Balance is not a terribly good goal in Exalted. At least, not as much as in the traditional sense. And it's not really a matter of accessible content being balanced - if that were the case, I wouldn't have issues with Spell Shattering Palm, as it's balanced, it just goes a bad direction as far as making some content too easily accessible.
Balance is important, but not at the cost of coolness. On the other hand, making all the content easily accessible screws with coolness, even if it is balanced.
DaveFayram
I guess we'll have to disagree. For me, Darius, coolness stems from balance to a large extent. Having a Solar and Abyssal square off is an amazing thing to watch. This is because not only are their natures and roles diametrically opposed, but their charms are likewise balanced in such a way to exist in perfect opposition. Art imitates the mechanics, and precisely the other way.
Consider the other alternative, where both have very COOL powers, that are very in-theme, but that basically turn the fight into an initiative contest instead of a long, drawn out duel where finally the weaker of the two minds gives way and the opponent capitalizes.
No so cool, eh?
Coolness is important, but it's CRITICAL that as you tread, you keep the boat on an even keel. If you are planning to rock the boat, make sure that everyone doesn't end up falling off.
On spell shattering palm, I like the spell thematically and I think it's very balanced. It's a way for Kung Fu and sorcery to diametrially oppose! Don't believe me? Why not make a spell that is called Invocation of Form-Shattering. All it does is keep a MAist from assuming MA forms, or remove existing ones. Before this point, MA had no way to fight back against this. Sorcery was never intended to be some kind of uber-trump, it's more about utter flexibility than utter power.
Balance and coolness go hand in hand, and they tend to lead to each other. A well-balanced game will keep cool things cool, and keep down abusive twink situations like you'd see in Aberrant, where the system WASN'T balanced and particular. Not-terribly-cool approaches became popular, because they were paths to insane power.
Think of the best way to make a 3rd Edition D&D character. The trick was to multiclass into key areas to get critical benefits. Sure, you might not be a level 20 anything, but you've got such amazing power you can easily overcome things. Insane 1-level multiclassing into Rangers, Monks, and Barbarians, on the lamest possible pretexts, were an excellent example of this.
Do you see what I'm saying?
DS
Oh, totally.
However, precise balancing isn't a good primary goal, in my mind. Nor is balancing at the cost of coolness.
Something that's grossly unbalanced isn't cool- for precisely the reason you outlined, turning the game into an initiative contest.
But, again, that's not what we're talking about.
As for the 'Form Shattering Spell'- AGH. Bad. That's a VERY bad route to start going down, and that route is WHY I don't like SSP. It creates a pissing contest. 'Oh yeah? Well, the Emerald and Sapphire Style makes Forms specifically impervious to the Form Shattering Spell!' 'Oh yeah? The Essence Disruption Spell churns up the natural flows of Essence so that NO Martial Arts Charms work! And they screw up Melee charms while I'm at it!' It's like the suggestions that were given about making new Sorcery charms designed to make the spells harder to counter or break. It's raw one-upsmanship, which is just another form of the initiative contest. It's a magical arms race, rather than an epic story. You no longer win because "finally the weaker of the two minds gives way and the opponent capitalizes." Instead, you win because you had more experience, or could spend it more efficently.
Not my idea of balance or cool. Also getting far off topic - this is a discussion on Accessible Content. I'd suggest we take this to Charm Guidelines or the SSP rant. :)
DaveFayram
We can move it when we're done here, or someone else can. I'm in a hurry, but still want to respond. :)
The "pissing" contest isn't a bad thing though. Simply put, magic is just a different form of technology (or vice versa). They can and should evolve. People sometimes express aversion to this idea, and I can't figure out why. "My new Awareness technique stops Mental Invisibility by exploiting flaw X in it.", then someone will naturally want to develop a charm like Mental Invisibilty Technique without flaw X.
It happens in military hardware and tactics. It happens in software. It happens in social situations. Why shouldn't it happen in magic? I think saying, "This spell is perfect, in as much as what it does," is in fact the more boring approach. The magic in the current AoS setting is primitive compared to what's actually possible, as the First Age shows. Therefore, refining magic and specific counters seem to me to not only be obvious and balanced, but they're cool.
Wuxia movies do this a lot. Someone takes Cat-Style and Snake-Style and combines them to make Snake-In-Eagle's-Shadow style to defeat the Eagle stylist, who originally made his style specifically to defeat Snake Style by exploiting the vulnerability of Snake Stylists during the strike. The "Devil's Spell" stance ends up being a perfect counter to the "Heavenly Hovering Fairy" stance. It's a very in-genre approach.
Is it a pissing contest? Not really. Approaches like this tend to be self-limiting, no one line will come along that is perfect in a field, but gradually the focus will shift to new fields.
Indeed, this style promotes rivalries. Rivalries are the good thing, Pissing Contests where it's just power X vs. power Y over and over again is kinda ridiculous. Rivalries where people's powers are thematic, cool, and diamterically opposed is good, although on the surface you could call it just another form of pissing contest.\\

As for your complaint on SSP making a bad precedent, my response is Too Bad. :) Honestly I can't think of SSP in the context of its "secret technique" status being anything BUT uber cool. Imagine the Siddy's shock when your spell happens to nullify it. "THIS CANNOT BE!" "Sorry, chummer. You'll have to deal with my golem after all." The next time they meet, the trick won't work so easily.

People seem to assume the lame application is the only one. I can't understand this outlook.
DS
We may have reached a point of completely diverging opinions here. I, personally, do not find pissing contests cool. I find them to be, almost invariably, the source of what I like the least in a game's set of rules. No game I've ever played, eitehr roleplaying (D&D 3e, 3.5e, and third party products), White Wolf (Bloodlines, new Disciplines, new Rotes for Mage that have almost zero relation to their Sphere ratings, Silver Tolerance in Werewolf), nor in CCGs (Magic- the classic case in point against pissing contests), nor in online venus (UO or EQ Nerf, anyone?). Pissing contests are powercreep - which Exalted has amazingly managed to avoid having. It has stayed extremely faithful to the originally stated vision, and it is thus one of my favorite lines. Once it departs too far from that vision, though, I won't like it.
Further, I'm not TALKING about devising a new Martial Arts style that is generally effective at exploiting the weaknesses of another Martial Artist's style. That is entirely in-genre, good, and hardly a pissing contest - if the two styles are both balanced, then the superior-against-weakness one should win, if he plays smart. If he gets stupid and cocky, however, he'll still get pounded into the dirt.
This would be more akin to a Martial Arts style that, say, shattered weapons and armor - even those made of the Five Magical Materials - because those artifacts gave Melee fighters too much of an advantage. And the rebuttal of 'Well, the Melee fighter can make a Charm that makes their toys and tools invulnerable to being destroyed.' But they shouldn't need to.
The game of 'I counter your counter to my counter to your counter to my original attack!' gets old real quick once it's started. And that's where direct spiteing of abilities goes. Dragonball Z is the ultimate pissing contest - how cool does it manage to remain after the fifth iteration?
DaveFayram
I think the fundamental point of contention is you want all charms to be perfect in what they do. I think that's boring. Theiving Raiton Claw? Emporer's Perfect Grasp. The game already DOES things like this. What you're worried about though, multiple iterations of this, won't ever happen in the DBZesque sense unless the players want it to.
  • People will only develop specific-counter charms in result of exposure to specific charms.
  • People will seldom take this past three iterations, in my experience, usually they look for new tactics. 'X beats Y so make X^2' is only viable for so long.
  • Exalted has easily accesible perfect defenses. At some point the defense against the technique goes perfect. For Solars, this is about 3-4 charms deep. There is no going around the direct function of a perfect defense. Thus, this process is self-limiting. Once you hit the perfect defense, that's it. You stop. There is no impetus to continue, the arms race ends.
  • With Solars, it'll tend to stop quick. With Abyssals as well. With Sidereals, it can't happen at all since perfect effects seem beyond the purview of MAs. With Lunar, they tend to start on entirely new tacts, since their trees are deep with many evolutionary branchpoints. With DBs, it won't come up. DB charms suck too much. With spirits, it wouldn't happen in the first place, spirit charms are determined by spirit nature.
  • This mechanism allows you to make rivals that are tailored to one character. I find this cool. Often in the world you find someone adept at dealing with some things, but woefully bad at others.
So what are you so worried about, Darius? I can't see a single scenario where it won't stop itself, and fairly quickly too. A little rivalry is good, but Exalted's convention of perfect defenses tends to stop them before they enter boring proportions.
Incidentally, DBZ never did this. DBZ was all about raw power. The only person who ever gave a damn about technique was Goku, towards the end of the series. If anything the DBZ system reflects the Lunar Way more than what I'm proposing here, which is small, diamand sharp charms designed to puncture one possible method of attack.
What say you?
DS
Hm. I say your logic is correct, and that we have access to wildly different players- mine would continue the counter-counter-counter iteration forever, if I let it start at all. I don't, and they know that, so there's no problems. However, I'd prefer to see 'rivalaries' as a general 'I build myself up' rather than a 'I target my enemy specifically'. And usually, they are - both in-genre and in Exalted. It's remarkable how much of a tactical battlefield you can open up, if you set your mind to it.
In the SSP example, we had no reason to suppose that Solar Circle Sorcery wasn't already perfectly defended from things that break magic. After all, every previous iteration of both Exalted-types, magics and such had confirmed that a Solar Circle Spell, once in place, couldn't be stopped by anything other than it's predetermined end condition or Adamant Countermagic. Even the fabled Adamant Spellstrings (or whatever the hell they're called) were limited to catching the spell as it's being cast - and frankly, it's already easy to disrupt any sorcery while it's being cast. With a mundane butterknife in the back, no less.
Thus, SSP entered the Realm Beyond Balance, to me. It functionally smote a Perfect Defense. I'll grant, an implied Perfect Defense, but pretty friggin strongly implied - even in the Sidereal book, with the Greater Sign of Serenity snuffing everything but SCS and the direct actions of the Incarna. And the 'balancing' reply was to make an even /more/ Perfect version of Sorcery. To which my Sidereal MA blinks, shrugs, and makes a still-more-Perfect SSP. There's no end to this cycle - especially since there's not a clearly defined 'defender'. The Sidereal shattering a Death of Obsidian Butterflies is defending himself. The same Sidereal breaking a Solar Sanctuum is the attacker. Which is the Irresistable Force?
DaveFayram
Maybe I just misunderstood, but my recollection is that the Adamant Countermagic referred back to Terrestrial. It can and DOES cancel prexisting spells. Your post seems to suggest it does not. One of us is wrong, and I can't check. Would you be so kind as to open the corebook and give it a read? I'm almost positive Adamant can interrupt spells.
Some Solar Circle spells ARE perfectly defended. Curse of Unyielding Mist springs to mind. So obviously, Solar Circle Spells can be made to thwart any form of countermagic at all. Some aren't explicitly defended, but are practically so. Atrocious Fire Transformation is a good example of this. You really don't want to touch those flames.
As for your players constantly playing Spy vs. Spy, why not just make them hit a perfect boundry and then be done with it? "I want a charm that does X to conter charm Y, which is a perfect defense."
Your response is, "Sorry, in as much as it says, it is perfect, and it's a defense. Therefore there is no way around it. You'll have to try a new trick."
This is what the developers did. Imagine the huge tangled web of parry v. attack charms that could have been made. They said, "Look, here's HGD. If it's an attack, you stop it. Doesn't matter what it is, doesn't matter what you have. Doesn't matter why. Done." The only way to go further is just to give you more perfect defenses for your buck, which is a pretty natural thing for charms to do as they go up in essence anyways, and can be seen with Protection of Celestial bliss.
As for Solar Circle Sorcery being perfectly defended, there is no such thing as implicit perfection. It either says it's perfect, it's been errata'd to be perfect, it's conditions make it perfect explicitly, or... nothing. Solar Circle Sorcery is robust, but not invincible. Even with SSP, it's still a ludicrously powerful thing. Really, what it seems designed to stop are spells that are meant for continuous combat use, or area combat use. In the former, it requires a successful hit. In the latter, it requires you TAKE a hit. Thusly, a balance is preserved.
Because of the difficulties involved, you really need to commit a big plug of essence or have a Sutra and wait several turns powering up before you can lay the smack down on a Solar Circle Spell, it's base difficulty is 8. People claim that this is easy to beat, but without heavy use of expensive charms (and make no mistake, getting a MA dicepool of 20 is not cheap at 20m2w) and success buyers (5 Jade Fury isn't cheap unless you have the master sutra, in which case you need more time to really get into counterspell mode) and carefully targeted WSAVs. If your players are crazy enough to overuse WSAV in one task, then beat them over the heard with non-task-related stuff. If your players can't see how WSAV is meant to be used, then they deserved to be punished as a learning experience.
For people who say, "These sidereal MA charms make it possible to do instantly!" I say, "If your players aren't strong enough to face this kind of PC head on, then they shouldn't be fighting in the first place." If you throw Chejop Kejack directly against a group of young PCs who aren't ready for it and then act surprised when they get their asses kicked, then consider it a lesson learned. Exalted is all about cinematic gameplay, and seldom do the heros in movies get faced with inescapable challenges they simply aren't yet ready for.
DS
Firstus, I'll have a knee jerk disagreement about implicit perfection. Re-read Heavenly Guardian Defense. The word 'perfect' never occurs in it. The words Perfection / Applicibility didn't enter common parlance until the errata.
Further, Solar Circle Sorcery's inital introduction was 'Although the other Exalt rock at what they do best, none can touch the raw power of SCS.' This was backed up by the Book of Three Circles- the raw buffness of SCS was beyond compare.
Then it was even FURTHER ratched up in Sidereal, of all places. The Greater Sign of Venus explicitly not impacting Solar Circle Sorcery or the direct actions of the Celestial Incarna equated those two levels of power.
Nothing else anywhere was capable of ending a SCS spell, apart from the pre-existing Things What Can End This Spell. Nothing new was introduced. It was as perfect as Heavenly Guardian Defense, and yet if a Sidereal Martial Art let you directly damage to someone without their being able to HGD, I would imagine you to be rather annoyed. Why? Not because of balance - from a balance POV, you can invent Super Perfect attacks and defenses. But from a accessible content point of view. Some things shouldn't be simply doable.
And I do consider SSP to be simple. If you're talking about a Solar that's cast a SCS, it's not unreasonable the Sidereal to have maxed out the Prismatic Arrangement of Creation with the Violet Bier of Sorrows as their backup style. That'll let them break the SCS for 1 mote (Five Jade Fury) + 20 motes, 2 Willpower (Blade of the Battle Maiden) + 2 motes (Spell Shattering Palm). 23 motes, 2 Willpower, broken on the third turn. Adamant Counter Magic would take 25 motes, 3 Willpower- although granted, only one turn. Both have to deal with the consequences of the spell being broken- and Adamant Countermagic grants no special resistance to such effects (Hell, Saphire countermagic says, of dispelling Celestial Sorceries, 'the side effects can even cause some damage'- an escalation from Emerald Countermagic, which one can safely presume increases at Adamamant Coutnermagic).
But that's my balance arguement, and it's somewhat secondry in the case of SPS. It'd be like arguing the cost of a charm the explicitly deals damage to someone with Adamant Skin Technique on. And I don't have to intend to use or ignore something in the published canon to wave a flag and go 'This is a BAD DIRECTION for the line to be devolped in, for THESE reasons'. I don't want to come to the day when I'm pruning more than I'm keeping, and I'd like to avoid that from both fan-written and offical Charms.
Hell, watch. I'll base a Charm off of existing Sidereal Martial Arts Technology, and break HGD.

Reflexive Sundering Strike

Cost: 20 motes, 2 Willpower, 2 HLs
Type: Supplemental
Duration: Instant
Minimum Martial Arts: 5
Minimum Essence: 5
Prerequisites: Soul Fire Shaper Form

When the Reflexive Sundering Strike is used, it hits before it has begun. There is no time to mount any defense, because when the defense would be mounted, the attack is already complete. No reflexive Charm or action may be used in reaction to Reflexive Sundering Strike, nor may any held action be used to defend against it.

Also, I didn't imply that Adamant Countermagic didn't break pre-existing spells. I'm talking the Sorcery-Capturing Cord that catches sorcery as it's being cast. There's a five dot version that can catch a SCS- I don't believe it can do anything against a pre-existing spell, though. I could be wrong.
Finally, by the time I send my PCs against Chejop Kejack, I'd expect their most powerful tools, correctly applied, to be their most useful. Not batted aside.
DaveFayram
Making such a charm would be not be legal, but it would indeed be useful. Note that PoCB would still stop this, since it doesn't count as charm use.
I'm pretty sure though that reflexive charms require no time at all. Further, Exalted has a very, very, very adamant thought on time. It can be squished, it can be stopped for some small number of people or items, but you simply cannot travel into the past. Your charm involves making an attack in the past. Nothing, not even the Primordials, can travel back in time. You can LOOK back in time with supernatural efficacy, but you can't change something that happened.
In Exalted, Dead is Dead. The Past is the Past. So nix those kinds of attacks.
A more feasible (and nastier) approach would be to make a combo in which you make an unblockable, undodgable attack and then keep the opponent from using charms, or make it so expensive that they can't. These kind of combos already exist, and are low on the power scale. Check the Abyssals book, perfect archery with Abyssal MA could do this.
Again it would fail, reflexives take no time, so a reflexive or persistent defense would allow trumping of this.
When we start making counters, we need to remember to stay within the game rules that aren't mutable. When you do so, you'll find the game's system is remarkably robust. Finding these walls is usually an excercise for the experienced player who has read all the books. No time travel, no resurrection... those come to mind easily. No trumping perfect defenses within their range of applicability is also easily notable.
So, got another, legal approach? By the way, interesting charm idea. I almost wish it was legal! :)
PS. Umm, if you think SSP renders SCS useless, even for someone as buff as Mr. Carjack, you're not thinking that scenario through. You start dropping the bomb on him with other people while you cast the spell, and he's going to have to start making some hard choices.
DS
If'n you'd like, I could come up with some new flavor text for that Charm. It strikes faster than anything else in Creation, whatever. Or, better, directly build off of what we've seen of various Charm smothering techniques- make one that can smother Reflexives and prevents them from being used again. Also, nothing in Protection of Celestial Bliss implies that the Charm does not require a Reflexive action to use one of the hanging protections.
If your critique of the Charm is purely flavor text-based, and not effects-based, then we can actually stop talking about this part of Charm balancing and design - I have permanently diverged from you, opinion-wise, and we won't agree on this tenet of Charm design. I've reached this point with FWW, and we both get along the better for it :)
And once we start involving multiple Solars, it's only fair to start giving Mr. Carjack the full due of having the whole Bronze faction at his beck and call. Plus, I'm not really looking at someone like the Oldest Sidereal In Existence. I'm looking at a Sidereal that has mastered one Celestial Style and one dirt-common Super Style. Which should take about as long as a Solar trying to learn Solar Circle Sorcery- since the Sidereal will have an active teacher and the Solar is having to basically teach himself from scratch.
As far as the Charm Smothering Technique + Perfect Abyssal Attack goes, that's still an overall losing proposition to the Abyssal. It requires a Combo, which means the Abyssal is burning at least 2 willpower to the Heavenly Defender's one. And the CST requires a mote to kick it off, plus however much they're bidding to smother, plus the cost of the rest of their Charms - making bidding enough to stop the Charm from being smothered a bargin. Hell, Soul Fire Shaper Form does worse, with it's free use of Charm Redirection Technique. With the student Sutra, that's just 2 motes, to make the Solar reburn 3 motes and another Willpower. A deal all around.
But you'll notice, I'm not up in arms about that Charm- because it still gives the Solar a choice and a chance. I do actually understand that higher Essence Charms are gonna have really wild effects. But, my accessible content line tends towards the conservative - and Spell Shattering Palm and the theoretical Reflexive Sundering Strike both cross it, and then both do a little dance.
DaveFayram
Maybe what you're thinking is that somehow, I want hard and fast charm balance rules. I don't. This is what I was originally talking about, DariusSolluman, go look! You need to look at charms very carefully for balance. The charm you proposed is a clear instance of touching invariant system stuff in Exalted.
The moral is simple. If it just sounds ludicrous, then it probably is. Not allowing ANY defense at all sounds pretty ludicrous. It's one thing to say no active use of charms is good. It's entirely another to say no reflexive actions at all. Perhaps we're running into another tenant of Exalted. There is always a chance for reflexive actions.
It's cinematic, it preserves a whole boatload of balance, it's all good. Sounds right to me!
I'm confused on what you're really arguing with me anymore, since we seem to be in agreement that balance is important. If you're trying to imply the character of your charm there and Spell Shattering Palm are at all similar, we can continue to argue, because it's obviously not. If it's something else, we seem to be in agreement of the principles, if not the way we state them.
Eh?
DS
Mm. We have a fundamental difference of opinion, as I see it, on a matter of importance to Charm design. Basically, there's three things to consider-
  1. The Simple Accesibility of the Content
  2. The Coolness/Cinematic factor
  3. The Balance Factor
None of these, I think was agree, are unimportant. However, the order of which they get applied can lead to some wonky results- specifically in the third tier of importance. Charm evaluation tends to presume that if the first two tiers are passed, then the third is going to be fine - or at least, jimmyable into something that is fine.
To me, if something fails the Content Accessibility, it's a Bad Charm. It may be the most cool and best balanced Charm ever, but it's still fundamentally bad. It's judging the Charm at a level prior to balance, and finding it wanting.
I seem to be somewhat alone in that extremist a position - but it's still where I stand. Exalted has very few hard and fast rules, but the ones they have are So Goddamn Useful it's silly. Defense trumps offense. Perfection trumps non-perfects. Always Applicable trumps non-applicability. You can't counter attack a counter attack. Etc.
That's what the whole Accessible Content discussion was about, and why I have a hard time seriously evaluating SSP, and have avoided Haren's page on Charms that break HGD- because I think that those are Actively Bad Things for the game, and that they harm the meta-rules which make Exalted's balance meaningful.
But that's enough ranting. Time for turkey :)
DaveFayram
I do agree that trumping HGD is bad. It's very bad. It's uber bad. When it comes to where HGD can be used, namely against attacks, it's perfect. They're shouldn't be a single attack that trumps HGD, because HGD is by definition perfect, and defense trumps offense.
I think we agree on the same tenants, but we're just prioritizing them a little bit differently. However, maybe you misunderstood, and let's clear this up. Accessibility and balance go before cool on my list. I actually dislike complex charms. I like charms that do just one thing, and do it well. Especially for Solars... While I can appreciate the Abyssal charms, in general I don't like them because they seem to do a bit too much for my tastes.
I think your list there was VERY good Darius, it's important to note that counter attacks can't be countered. I just disagree that Solar Circle Sorcery shouldn't be attackable directly. I like the idea. We talk about Prismatic's charms as being common, but we have no real idea how pervasive the Sidereal secret styles are.
For people really worried about it, you can rule that people who learn a Sidereal style must focus on that style until they finish it. Given the rather wide and deep nature of the Prismatic Tree, this is a great deterrent for quickly picking up charms, and I am strongly considering that rule in my games.
It's funny how tiny tweaks like that can utterly change the nature of a Charm. I think the primary worry people have is every essence 4 MAist grabbing SSP just to be a pain in the ass about it, because it's an easy way to attack sorcery. This would eliminate that.
DS
I don't think you've consider how that list actually works, mentally, for me- if something is violating the accessible content clause, it can't be balanced into being good. I don't care if the Charm kills you while only inflicting one die of bashing damage - if it can't be blocked with HGD, it's a bad Charm. There's no balancing it. So, similiar attempts at balancing SSP are doomed before they start. I literally don't see balance as a relevant issue, because the results of the charm should never be able to come to be. It doesn't matter if SSP requires Sifu 5, mastery of every Celestial Style in existance, results in a small nuclear explosion at the centerpoint of the punch and will never actually be applicible because the spell's center has to be hit and is always inaccesible.
And I did want to suggest that you had a different priority system, but it felt out of place in my original reply. But, good to see that my gut was right :)


Now, it is a FAR more debatable point wither Solar Circle Sorcery should be directly attackable without Adamant Counter Magic or by however the spell is defined as being endable. In my mind, it shouldn't - SCS' perfection is as existant as HGD's, and as much a tenet of the game's. All the supporting text, to my mind, supports SCS being immune to being broken with anything else.
Telgar
I have to say that if the Greater Sign of Serenity can't destroy Solar Circle Sorcery, neither can a Sidereal MA Charm. It's just silly. Modify the Greater Sign if you keep SSP. That itty bitty MA Charm isn't stronger then the GREATER SIGN of a Maiden. Nope. Not happening.
Oh and Solar Circle stuff? Betchya Void Magic can attack it directly. Not via countermagic, but in other ways. And Solar can attack Void. But after that? Only the Incarna. And Gaia. And Luna. And the Malfeans. And the Yozi. And Autocthon. And the most powerful Fae...
Senji
Perhaps the Greater Sign is intended not to work against SSC.
Telgar
Why? It's the same thing Venus used, just toned down.
Senji
You expect me to fathom the minds of the Maidens? Nah, I was thinking that Venus might have had some good reason to want not to effect the top tier of sorcery.
haren
Just a thought, but since you can't pick or choose what you affect... maybe she didn't want anyone having even a snowball's chance to negate the powers of say... Incarna? And it might not be the power level but more the "way" Solar Circle Sorcery works, that might make it similar enough that something that unravels that can do it to the Incarna's power too.
DaveFayram
That's a very interesting possibility, Haren. Certainly we've had connections of power level between SCS and the Incarna before, if only vaguely... Hmm.
DigitalSentience
Having read this debate all the way through, and finding it very enlightening, I felt the need to chime in with my two cents. It seems to me that all in all, Darius has an excellent point, and that some things should remain inviolate, which Dave appears to agree with, generally speaking. The sticking point seems to be with this specific instance of breaking a Solar Circle sorcery, so essentially the disagreement is really only about whether SCS is inherently 'perfect,' in the sense of being uncounterable. I can't fully decide, but I think my ultimate opinion is that, yes, Chejop -might- be able to pull out something like that, -once-, in such a cinematic show of power and destruction that it makes DBZ look restrained in comparison. Afterwards, he stands up out of the ashes, at the bottom of the crater formed by the massive release of energy, probably beat to all bloody hell, and the Solar casts another one.
Without knowing the requirements for SSP, I feel like really high-Essence Charms should be able to start to -tweak- with the rules of Creation, if just a little. I also feel like they are the sorts of things possessed by more or less -only- the Exalted that invented them, and maybe one or two others. So yes, there might be one or two Exalted in all of Creation that could counter a Solar Circle Sorcery, just as all Exalted at the highest levels begin to tread on the lower reaches of the Incarnae's power. But whoever they are, they certainly wouldn't be happy about it, and they certainly wouldn't be swatting any Solar-level spell aside.
NatalieD
Not to disappoint you, DigitalSentience, but SSP is a Martial Arts 5, Essence 4 charm with no prerequisites.
DigitalSentience
Then I call foul! *righteous anger*
Scrollreader
A quick question on accessibility. Are MA Forms sacrosanct, somehow? Is there a fundamental difference between Spell Shattering Palm and my Concentration Shattering Strike in SolarBrawl/Scrollreader?
canamrock
On the idea of overcoming perfect defenses, I take it like this: there are still several ways to overcome such defenses. The first that anyone can do is to present enough attacks of sufficient threat that the Exalt drains his essence and willpower to stop them. In other words, you win through attrition. This is merely an extension on the logic of the hundreds of mortals with force pikes used to weaken Solars for the Dragon-Blood soldiers to finish off. Beyond that, there is essentially what I call the 'Law of BS'. That is, any level of BS can be preformed with the proper prerequisites and costs. Normal perfect defenses as given in the main Exalted book are ironically far from true perfection, and they have a good cost which reflects this. Charms and other methods of overwhelming these charms certainly could exist, but they would have to be even more expensive and/or difficult to acquire then they are. If Seven Shadow Evasion can make the Exalt that incredibly fast for that moment, it stands to reason an even more powerful ability could beat it at its own game. Likewise, at even more prohbitive costs, persistant prefect defenses and 'extra-perfect' defenses could exist as well. As Essence traits rise, the pools for what can be afforded and the XP cost to allow such higher venues of powers could and probably should become available.
canamrock
I'd suspect that the development of extremely powerful Exalt charms would proceed in at least one of two paths: the 'arms race' method of further trumpability, or the expansion of the applicability of earlier charms. An expansion off of Flow Like Blood could be 15 motes, 1 WP, require an Essence of 5, and give persistant defense with an automatic perfect success granted to each attempt (being successes equal to the die pool, not needing to be rolled at all). This would put the Exalt all but entirely out of the range of mortal assailants, even an army's worth, while still providing an out for sufficiently powerful set of attackers to take him down when that rises. Likewise, a higher version of Glorious Solar Saber and Blazing Solar Bolt could generate either an attack that overrides non-perfect defenses, or even trumps them, depending on the Essence requirement, costs, and potential drawbacks.
canamrock
I guess the need to go into an arms race depends on how obscenely powerful you view the greatest threats in the campaign to be. HGD and SSE are plenty strong, and work well if you imagine the First Age Solars fighting Primordials were typically reaching to Essence 5 and 6. If you see them making it into the 8-9 range, and Primordials being even bigger and tougher, then those charms begin to seem 'smaller', and at least one more level of perfection could be in order once characters breach Essence 6 and go into the highest reaches of power. If the strongest Primordials could cut through swathes of Solars with perfect defenses in a matter of moments, then you need a more perfect charm for the greatest of the great. If such is not the case, then the perfect defense charms are fine as caps for their purposes, and merely expanding capacity instead of power is a perfectly valid way to develop such trees further.
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