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Here's just a thought, maybe worth its own Discussion. Maybe its not the Sidereals that are Uber, maybe its Martial Arts that is Uber. Perhaps, in the Exalted universe martial arts trumps all else? It is universal among all Exalt types and has so far demonstarted the ability to, well, do just about anything at all. - Epsilon

Good point, especially since Exalted has been described as a Kung Fu movie by GCG. - Moxiane

The idea of Martial Arts being uber disturbs me much more than the idea of any given splat being uber. I like to think that all those other dots on the character sheet serve some purpose, and that a given character's powerlevel will not be gimped in the long run if he doesn't pick up lots of MA Charms. I have kind of the same issue with Sorcery, but Sorcery has obvious drawbacks and limiting factors (costs a lot, slow) which MA lacks. \\ _Ikselam

I think (read: hope) that the attention given to MA in all the splats isn't because MA is ridiculously uber, but rather because as this is a wuxia kung-fu masters-of-the-universe kind of game, MA comes out as the naturally preferred sort of fighting style. If the other types of combat were expounded on in the same way the MA constantly are, I would like to think that they'd be just as incredibly badass. Of course, I would also like to think that the reason MA are the most fleshed-out of the fighting styles has to do with the fact that it's the most well-known (most peasants can't afford swords or bows). Therefore, a badass swordsman would truly be an awe-ing sight. (Again, a hope-- by having so much MA, non MA fighters are more rare and therefore, more respected/feared.) --dg

I've already cemented my view that MA is in fact uber, and I have houserules reflecting its uber status, as reflected on my pages. I think that dissolvegirl provides an attractive alternative, though. (I would like to see overdeveloped Vedic archery.) - willows

One idea I had was that you could have the different styles be purchased like different versions of the Craft ability. Your dots in Tiger Style don't help you in learning Snake style - Malikai

I think the Craft solution is just as bad when applied to MA as it is for Crafts, and doesn't solve any problems in a meaningful way. Craft is parametric but has global Charms - does that mean that different versions of MA have different unCharmed mechanical effects? If you're going to have that rule, then you should have a clear mechanical distinction between the abilities of a mortal Tiger stylist and an identical mortal Mantis stylist. And if you're introducing that kind of system, you're doing a lot of work for relatively little gain.

Besides that, it fails to represent that, IRW, an intelligent martial artist who knows multiple styles isn't "good in one style and bad in another"; he can dynamically recombine his techniques to become a more versatile fighter than before. - willows

Theoretically, the limitation on Martial Arts is in the fact that (a), each style is designed to support some metaphorical idea as opposed to being expressly designed to do x well, where x is the ability in question, and (b) MA charms aren't supposed to be as good as a regular Ability charm that accomplishes a similar thing. . I'd also add the gameworld reason of "any MA style that isn't native to your type of Exalt has to be taught to you", but that's me. . One problem with MA is a lot of trees, especially fan-created ones, don't really follow those two precepts. And, of course, no matter how you cut it you're getting a lot of possible charms for a minimal Ability investment. . A possible house rule would be to add a surcharge to any MA charm that isn't in the same tree as the current Form charm you have up, and perhaps extend this to Combos using more than one MA tree. Granted, it would go out the window if you're using Prismatic Arrangment of Creation, but if you have PAoC Form you deserve to go crazy with the kung-fu. - AliasiSudonomo

Hm. All I can say is it is very few martial arts that I have seen being overpowered. Good options for below Solar level, but you have much better options at Solar level. But part of that is because Solar Melee is just really really really good. Not quite broken because it is beatable, but it is plain to me that being a Melee Solar is the best option combat wise. One other thing is Sorcery. Dragon Blood Sorcerers are on similar levels to starting Solar sorcerers. Especially with the Sorcery background. That is where I think the real power is. Martial Arts and Sorcery are really good for evening up the score with more powerful beings. But it is limited. Another interesting note is Martial Arts for mortals. It is a cheap way of saving ability points. -Jaelra

My contention isn't that MA is overpowered because it will let you easily kill anyone (it won't, at least until you get into the Super-Secret Sidereal Styles); in fact, it's kind of a misrepresentation to say that I think it's overpowered at all. I think it's too flexible. Martial Arts trees step on so many other Abilities' Charms it isn't funny. I disagree with the design decision which made it permissible for MA styles to emulate other Abilities' Charms so effectively, and I wish people spent more time thinking up supercool Charms for those Abilities, rather than just thinking up supercool MA Charms. There are... at least 14 published MA styles, which average around 10-12 Charms each. That's something like 150 MA Charms out there, which is an order of magnitude greater than the count for any other Ability.\\ I don't dispute that it's in-genre for Exalted kung fu masters to be able to do all sorts of stuff; however, I do think that it's dumb to model ultra-strong kung fu by just having Martial Arts be able to do everything, instead of saying "truly powerful kung fu is a combination of all these other abilities, plus MA."\\ _Ikselam

One could make the same argument about Sorcery. Disguise of the New Face, for instance, pretty much obviates the need for most Larceny style disguise charms and has fewer limits (no commited Essence, for example). There are even more spells, just in the Terrestrial Circle, that are often able to pull off effects that would otherwise be the purview of other Abilities aside from Occult.

One thing to note is that all having Martial Arts saves you, in the long run, is a need to invest in a lot of other Ability dots. However, if you want to buy yourself up to effects which mimic the Charms of other abilities you often have to go even deeper into a Charm tree than you ever would have wanted to with the other Ability. Compare, say, how many Charms it takes to get to Cloud-Treading Method to the number of Charms (five) to Athletics Charms with a similar purpose (Racing Hare Method only has four prerequisite Charms). So, in terms of overall Experience costs it probably balances out.

That being said, I agree with you. If I were more concerned with game balance than thematic balance I would probably move all the Martial Arts Charms outside the standard Ability based systems (and do the same with the Sorcery Charms while I was at it). I also find it kind of sad that every created character is going to want to Favor Martial Arts (if their Caste/Aspect doesn't have it naturally). - Epsilon

I agree with both Ikselam's observations and Epsilon's analysis; there are two Abilities in Exalted which provide far greater breadth of power than any of the others: Martial Arts and Occult. Either of these two abilities gives a character access to a range of powers which would otherwise require climbing far into the charm trees of other abilities. Philosophically, I believe that no Ability should be clearly more essential than any other; otherwise, the system will tend toward conformity, with a disproportionate number of players creating characters favoring those Abilities. Therefore, if I were to create house rules, I would look closely at those two Abilities to find ways to reduce their effectiveness. For Martial Arts, I would likely remove or nerf charms which mimic abilities conveyed in other trees (such as Resistance, Athletics, or Stealth). I'd also rule that while a character is using a Form charm, they cannot invoke charms from another style, nor charms from Melee or Brawl. For Sorcery, I'd make spells cost 10*Circle XP (regardless of occult's favored status), and also make sure that any effects which too closely mimiced charms found elsewhere were less efficient that those charms. - Toram

Wow. That would suck. I prefer Epsilon's idea to cut MA off from the usual structure of Abilities instead of making it suck; I agree with Ikselam that it works differently than the other Abilities and the system doesn't resolve that well. Nerfing is never a good solution to things, if you ask me (because nerfing makes investment less effective depending on where you put it, which blows chunks); if you're going to change MA then you should probably either make MA Styles a whole different kind of Charm, or remove them entirely and make "styleless" Charms for MA... which would probably look a lot like Brawl and all that. It's late, I'm tired. - willows

What about a different solution ... set an additional Ability requirement for each MA Charm clearly stepping on the toes of another Ability. For example, Wall Climbing Technique might get an additional requirement of Athletics 2. Without changing the XP cost for including the Charm in a Combo, though. ^_^

That would\\ (1) Solve the problem of MA stealing effects from other Abilities, as these MA Charms would then effectively BE Charms of the other Ability (too), and\\ (2) Make the MA Charms in question slightly harder to learn (but not always harder, and not much harder, nor inappropriately so nor in an out of genre way ^_^)

What does everyone think? ^_^ --BrokenShade

I wouldn't use that system for roughly the same reason I wouldn't use willows system as is. That being that it requires me to do a lot more work than I'm really willing to do for something which is basically a thematic shift in the game, rather than a shift neccesary to establish game balance.

If I were to do it, I'd remove Martial Arts the ability from the standard set-up, probably replace it with a some other type of Ability (Leadership/Tactics seems the most popular one for this). Then remove Sorcery from the Occult ability (and from the Lunar charms as is as well).

Then I'd do this: Keep the Essence requirements. Change the minimum Ability requirement to a minimum Willpower requirement. Add five to the minimum Ability score to determine the minimum Willpower the user needs. Make Martial Arts and Sorcery totally universal available to all Exalt types, Spirits, Ghosts, Demons, God-Bloods, whatever else is out there that channels Essence. Martial Arts may be Comboed only with other Martial Arts and Sorcery may never be comboed (still). - Epsilon

Hi there! This is one of Exalted's most critical questions in my view. I've experimented in simply ripping some of the entire MA trees and put them in other abilities. This, by dividing MA into two subsets; general and special. General trees are based on MA ability, and allows unarmed combat or one weapon only. Examples of general styles are Snake, Tiger, and Water Dragon. These are fairly powerful, and they do stand up quite well all alone with only dodge as a supplemental ability. Specialized styles are often very powerful but narrow in scope; Violet Bier of Sorrows (Melee), Wood Dragon (Archery), Fire Dragon (Melee), and Air Dragon (Thrown) all thematically and visually fit fairly well as supplemental charms for other abilities. Therefore, the players can buy these trees as charms based on other abilities in all aspects, including combos. This, while disurpting the game as is, effectively reduces the major problem with MA, its flexibility. I have not tried this, but I think it would work fairly well. --Clebo

Furthermore, I think that the appeal of MA is the write-ups, with all these cool visual effects and descriptions on how the style looks like. I tried to change that at my MeleePaths page, but the interest has been, to say the least, scarce about making Melee look cool too. In fact, the other abilities should be regarded as more cool in a sense, because they are not finished in their scope, and each player can develop their own charms. As a player, I would love doing that. However, this is a problem when you see the complete package, you just want it, and you forget about what isn't there. -Clebo

In all honesty, I think BrokenShade has the best solution. You can just do it on a Charm-by-Charm basis, and I don't really see it being very complicated or difficult to figure out which Ability should be required for each Charm. Anywho. - SMK

OK, point taken about the level of the Charms I was talking about. Solars probably have things that are just as hideous at those Essence levels. This invalidates my comment about Pattern Spider Touch. It does not, however, invalidate my concerns about SSP and BotBM, both of which are completely ridiculous, and one of which is a starting-level Charm. I'll start a discussion page about this some time when I'm not late for French class. As for the forum, I hate the forum. The last time I started a thread about this exact topic, I got banned. Long story. Anyway, c'est la vie. - SilverMeerKat

This isn't precisely germane, but what's your objection to Blade of the Battle Maiden? - willows

<preface>I don't want to start an argument about this Charm. Those never ever ever go anywhere.</preface> My basic problem with BotBM is that a) it's a Reflexive scene-long Charm, which are damn rare and should damn well be pretty deep in their respective trees IMHO, b) it circumvents Exalt-type dice-adder caps, which, again IMHO, should NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER be doable with a single Charm and c) it does both of these things and affects both offensive and defensive capabilities, and is Really Easy to Get, especially for a Siddie. If I were to design a Charm with this mechanical effect, I'd leave the cost the same but make it two Charms past the form and give it reqs of 5MA/3E. That's totally off the top of my head, but let me give you an example of why I don't like this Charm. Let's imagine a Lunar Charm that's similar, using the Lunar schtick of buying successes rather than adding dice. Let's say it comes off of Deadly Claw Blow, it's 4Dex/2Essence, Reflexive, costs 4 motes per die and 2 Willpower, and converts dice on all unarmed attacks and parries for the rest of the scene into successes, up to your entire pool. Now, yes, you're gonna run out of essence pretty quick after you use this... but does it matter, for god's sake? I mean, really? And you can't even use a daiklaive with that - how about a Solar Charm that comes off of Excellent Strike and Golden Essence Block, 2 motes per die and 2 Willpower, Reflexive, persistent dice adder to all Melee rolls for the scene, up to (normal dice pool x2) extra dice. That's sort of the problem I have with BotBM - a lot of it's principle, really. Plus, for fuck's sake, you can use DAIKLAIVES</i> with VBoS. Daiklaives??? Why not just make it Melee? I think VBoS clearly proves that there is absolutely no point in taking any combat ability other than Martial Arts (ESPECIALLY if you're not a Solar/Abyssal, but really just at all) - depending on the MA, you can use some or all of: brawling aids, melee weapons, armor, thrown weapons, bows and arrows. That covers every other combat ability. Oops. Wow, that was a rant and a tangent, and really, I'm sorry. But anyway, yeah, hope that answers your question. - SMK

Thanks. - willows

SMK - it only breaks the Exalt-type dice adder cap because the whole of MartialArts has a different dice adder cap for Sidereals... -- Senji

But it shouldn't... What makes MA so different from every other combat ability? So far you can use just about any weapon you care to name with MA, you can duplicate many other abilities (stealth, medicine, athletics, endurance, etc) and anyone can learn it. Why? I think that the dice adder caps should be static with exalt type. I would happily let an eclipse who learnt a DB dice adder charm use the Solar limits on it, and I would not let them use ability+specialty, as that is a DB thing. Personally, I'm thinking a better solution would be to say that you can only learn MA that are from your type of exalt easily (animal styles for Solars, for example) and let anyone learn other exalt type charms for dramatically increased costs (Eclipses can do it for 16/20 xp, so 30/40 seems fair - 30xp for a favoured ability and 40xp for a non-favoured, with a 3x and 4x applied to the cost to use as well) so that anyone can do it, but it's a lot cheaper for Eclipses. I feel it is very in genre for everyone to be able to learn anything, but it should definitely be easier for you to use your own charms...

Just my rambling thoughts - CorlanDashiva

You all know my answer to this - WW didn't go far enough with differentiating MA, and really VBoS <i>should be a Melee-based Martial Art. I don't think that it's necessarily a good idea to make MAs have Exalt-specific dice-adder caps - one of the schticks of MA is that it's more or less the same regardless of who is using it (or, at the very least, one of the schticks is that its power curves don't match up with general Charm curves.) I think the best solution would actually be to set completely different caps for MA; Sidereals can add their whole pool (because they're the best), Solars get DB caps, DBs can add Attribute, and Lunars&Alchies can add Essence. (based on the implied MA facility hierarchy.) - willows

Um. Where are you getting the idea that the Lunars and Alchies are worse at Martial Arts than the Dragonblooded? After all, they can freely learn Celestial Styles, and are capable of learning the Sidereal Styles...
And I still prefer the idea that Martial Arts is a stat comparable to Essence, which everyone has, and MA Charms are based on the dominant combat ability they're based on. :) DS
I don't think that Essence is less good than Attribute; I think it's actually dramatically superior (pending attribute-past-5 rules); it means that DBs have to spend points in up to 9 things to raise their facility in MA, while Lunars and Alchies get better as a function of their elderness, automatically; it just means that a young Lunar will get better mileage out of his native powers than out of kung-fu discipline, which is well with me, and a DB will eventully hit a wall that he can't surpass without gaining elder Essence and also raising his Attribute, but early in the game, MA will be a good route for him (Immacs make this clear.) IOW, growth potential isn't the only measure of power, and I'm looking at this in the long-term.
And, of course, this whole idea is working hand-in-hand with the "MA is comparable to Essence" idea. I'm beginning to wonder whether to break Essence pools into an Essence pool for Essence magic and a Chi pool for kungfu; I'll mess around with that idea a little to see how it tastes to me. - willows

SMK: What about people who don't want to take Martial Arts? What if I want to be a swordsman? Not a martial arts swordsman who does katas, but a hard-bitten merc who just knows how to cut things in two pieces? Melee is a lot more thematic, there.

The disadvantage Martial Arts has(and it's a bit one) is everything is within its own little tree-structure. You can't, for example, develop a new martial arts charm that does exactly what you want... unless it's in a tree that your ST approves, is balanced, and the entire tree is thematically ok. Designing MA trees is a lot harder than designing single charms. A meleeist, archer, brawler, etc, can just make a new charm. They can scale their power any direction they want, and as long as their charms are balanced, they can pretty much develop whatever they want. That flexibility is something that (somewhat pardoxically) Martial Arts lacks. -Fifth

Fifth: This is a lot like the debate about the Sidereals' Charms - whether lack of customizability makes up for broadly applicable and überabundant power. I don't think it does. For pretty much any character, but especially everyone who isn't a Solar or Abyssal Melee specialist, the best combat ability is Martial Arts, bar none. It covers the other four combat abilities and other abilities besides, and while it isn't quite as easily personalized as Solar Melee or somesuch, MA Charms are just plain better than, for example, the combat Charms Lunars have, which (mostly) suck. I'm not saying nothing can beat MA, or that there aren't thematic reasons for choosing other abilities, I'm just saying the most efficient use for combat of your experience and/or char. creation points is MA, because it lets you, with one ability, use damn near any type of combat style/weapon combination. And really, outside of combat, sorcery covers pretty much everything else. Honestly, I think you could do anything with MA and sorcery that you could do with any other ability or combination of abilities. Anywho. - SMK

Being a guy that constantly tries to overcome the defects of the system as quickly as possible, it's fair to point out some inconsistencies in everyones' basic argument. Currently I'm both a GM and Player for Exalted, and I can see both sides. But personally, I have to say that Martial Arts is only uber when combined outside of the tree anyway.

For example, Mantis Style doesn't really allow you to do horrendous quantities of damage. It merely swats at your oponents' dice pools. It's the same with most MA trees (unmodified), they're highly specialized.

But for a true, actual example -\\ My Night Caste martial artist being created has 4 slots for MA charms, and charm for charm any Melee user will romp all over me. This is because while I am trying to get up to my form charms etc, the melee guy is picking up 15 dice to hit, and usually 24 dice worth of damage, on an average roll (based on an Abyssal I am going to be teamed up with). MA styles that use platemail and daiklaives do not occur in the main book, nor, as far as I've read, so far do they occur in the Castebooks. The heaviest MA I've seen uses buff jackets/breastplates and two hooked daiklaives - but to balance this out, its damage multipliers are after soak, after rolling damage and then they add - so it's entirely possible to do no damage at all as you need at least one dice of damage to multiply and add to. But any adds outside of the trees are also availabe to Melee.

If you spend all ten starting charms on MA, of course you'll be powerful, the same as any other Solar using melee or archery charms up the wazoo. And less charm heavy Exalted such as lunars and DB are supposed to be that way. That's why lunars can shapeshift into tyrant lizards and DB can literally wander around with Elite armies and mounds of magical equipment - to start with. No other Exalted can do those things.

Rant over WillfullShadow

I don't understand how that string of statements constitutes an argument in either direction. Perhaps you'd like to couch it in sharper terms so that dull folks like me can wrap their brains around it? - willows P.S. I've cleaned up your formatting and spelling as you didn't care to do so yourself.

I think he's complaining that low-level MA Charms don't stack up against low-level Charms in other Abilities. Of course, this stems from the deliberate design decision to make low-level MA Charms weaker than average and make high-level MA Charms stronger than average. - Quendalon

Which is only the case if you ignore things like BotBM in VBoS... - CorlanDashiva

Which is consistent with Rebecca's (somewhat odd) decision to ignore prereq depth and charmtree structure n general as a Sidereal Charm balancing factor. And I don't think we need yet another argument about BotBM. - willows

Sorry for the horrible spelling, unfortunately I had yet to install MS word on my comp and was using everyone’s best friend TXT pad. Unfortunately dyslexia doesn't have a spellchecker, interesting idea though. Discussions/I>

Anyway, the thrust of my slightly deranged commentary was this. All charm trees are just as powerful as each other when taken in a broad scope. Unfortunately for some this means that the way each tree stacks up as you progress is hard/soft mechanically. I do acknowledge that MA has a week start but one hell of a finish in most cases and this makes allot of combat Melee/Brawl users fairly uncomfortable, as their charms are more consistent in level of power.

In the end though everyone ends up the same place <kill stuff well>. Exalted is a Hong Kong film style game - have you ever seen said film type have a mystic Kung Fu master fall to a swordsman, or fist fighter, except as a huge plot element? Therefore MA is going to be slightly more powerful at the top.

<Personally I tend to make sure MA players get the <I>faceDiscussions/I> background to ensure they get challenged regularly for taking MA in the first place, or have them make vows of poverty etc to prevent them taking over all the roles of the party with well chosen points distributions.>-------WillfullShadow

That's a straw man argument, WS. In most of those Hong Kong movies, all of the major protagonists and antagonists are martial artists, and all of the non-MA swordsmen and brawlers are mooks. So your argument actually boils down to "PCs and NPC masters shouldn't get taken down by mooks," which no one is likely to argue with, but is different from the point you present. - Quendalon

I think there is also the problem that martial arts is a fuzzy word. It is reasonably easy to define the other four combat skills, but martial arts to me means a way of learning to fight. For instance if I know how to wield a broadsword then I know the martial art of hitting things with the broadsword. It doesn't mean to me a cool way of flipping out and killing people with my bare hands in an Asian fashion. However the way martial arts is used in Exalted is very fuzzy. The first martial arts style shown is snake style which is unarmed and unarmored. Essentially its another type of brawl in the main book. Its only later that weapons and armor get added into the mix. Eventually martial arts becomes a matter of picking the one that will fit your chosen weapons or the one with the least limatations and the most uber-kewl charms. Who needs dodge when you can dodge using your martial arts?

This strikes me as a lack of vision about what martial arts should be on the part of the developers. Becuase the original idea wasn't well defined its grown unwieldiy. My personal fix is to unlink the magical martial arts styles from any martial arts skill. I'm currently revising all the canon martial arts to fit my own opinions of what skills should go with what martial art. I think they should remain cool but limited and currently with their ability to overlap any other skill I think martial arts is losing its limitations. ~ Dalassa

Well said, Dalassa. The problem I see with the MA system as it is is that the Charms try to replicate entire training regimens (sp?) using only one ability. Sure, training to be a ninja makes you good at stealth, athletics, and armed and unarmed fighting, but that's accomplished with Stealth, Athletics (and probably Melee, considering how many weapons Ninjitsu encompasses), <i>and Martial Arts. Also probably Brawl, for the improvised weaponry. And Thrown. And Awareness. And... well, all sorts of shit. Training to be a "martial arts master" encompasses a lot more than learning a martial art - it requires training all the other abilities that help you out in combat (or whatever situation) too. That's my take, anyway. I have a potential fix over at SilverMeerKat/MaybeMA that I think works pretty well, usually requiring 4 or 5 in at least 3 Abilities to master a given style. - SMK

If you look at my user page you can see more of my musings on martial arts and how I am editing them. Freeing the magical fighting styles from a specific skill has given me the freedom to do very unconvential martial arts. Currently I'm working on my versions on Cerulean Lute of Harmony Style and Golden Barque of the Heavens Style (like everyone else). The Lute is almost entirely ways to avoid taking damage and prevent other people near you from taking damage. Its based mostly in the dodge ability with some unarmed. Barque is a little more balanced but is focused towards getting past your enemies and keeping moving. However keeping in with thrown as the abilitiy there are some parries that let you move out of their melee range and take a reflexive thrown action. ~ Dalassa

First of all Q. That’s a bit of a broad statement considering that point is fairly to the side, providing context to the argument in the first place. Also having lived in Hong Kong for a while I think you'll find that if you get a broader range of the titles available directly - and not badly translated exports - a hell of a lot of titles have Main Characters and Villains that are not MA orientated in the sense you are using.

Hell even Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is primarily focused on the use of many different weapons in a more Melee style with their physical feats of acrobatics well representing the Athletics and Dodge charms.

Dalassa makes a damn fine point though, MA is a very fuzzy word. Its literal meaning is Art of Conflict/War. Most people misunderstand this and think Kung Fu action all the way - when it is, as has been said here by no few people, a way of life. MA at its core meaning is a fighting style with one focus or encompassing all, obviously with changes to ethos depending on area/religion etc.

(Ninjitsu is actually the use of ANY weapon that will get the job done, not only the use of stealth to kill, stealth in fact was one of the few weapons used by original Eastern assassins. Mostly men in black would run around being brilliantly evasive distractions while the man who looked like a perfectly ordinary courtier did the dirty work. Karate for example was designed for the use of peasants so as not to appear to be wielding weapons, as it would be a death sentence to bear arms and brawling was dirty. The use of a sword and only a sword is a MA, same with a Bo or Sai.)

Between Dalassa and SMK I believe they have a good solution. Adjust it for personal tastes to prevent power gamers. But as a rule of thumb the MA should have other abilities at 3 dots to start with that his MA overlaps. A man who practices katas and throws all day long doesn’t learn to hide in the shadows all the better for this after all. <The Night caste book MA for example requires Awareness/Stealth/Athletics/Dodge all at 3 in my games>. Unfortunately then you have got the problem that MA players who wish to power game will scream and rail at the injustice, little realizing that they now have the other abilities affording them the chance to do non combat stunting with appropriate MA. <A little punishment I worked out for people who used MA as a athletics etc ability or charm outside of combat lost willpower or face with other MA and becomes regarded as uncouth until they redeem themselves.>


WS, please try and address the issue, rather than pulling authority and babbling about what you do in your game. Frankly, no one cares what anyone does in anybody's game except as it bears on this point. I know that not everyone debates for a living, but discussions of this kind are significantly more productive when you state a thesis, and then point-by-point you back it up, just as if you were writing an essay for your expository writing class, and meanwhile respond to objections. Brain dumps only serve to create confusion and smell up the area.

It is clear that you think that Martial Arts as Exalted presents it are uber, and in response to that you have performed the nerfs which you describe above. What is the basis of your conclusion? From your comments, I believe that you are working from your conception of real-world martial arts. I assert that Exalted Martial Arts have little-to-nothing to do with this. But I also feel that this Discussion has outlived its usefulness. I shan't return to it. - willows

To go back to an issue raised near the start of the discussion thread: I think that the problem with judging the ability of high-Essence MA to duplicate Charms of other Abilities can, and should, be matched by allowing high-Essence Charms of other Abilities to do the same thing. I expect that by the time you get to Essence 5+, you're using Melee to cut away wounds to leave healthy flesh, using Craft to reshape your personality into something more charismatic, and using Sail to soar upon the wind. - Quendalon

Raindoll says:\\ If we had 150+ published Solar Melee Charms, I think we'd see a great variety of applications. On another note, though: Martial Arts in Exalted is supposed to be zen-like mastery of everything, which explains why everything can be done with martial arts. I think that's backwards.

An example of the way I think things should be done is Hill-Crushing Hero Style (or whatever it's called). The "Style" is a natural collection of Charms used together to create an effect. They happen to all be from the same ability (Endurance), but I don't think this needs to be the case.

So, you want a "Tiger Style"? Okay, adherants of this style fight with tiger claws, but truly need no weapons: by emulating the spirit of the tiger, the Solar can rake his foes with claws of essence. (This can be done with Fists of Iron Technique with a cool special effect. Or, you can create a higher-level Brawl charm that creates a Brawl Aid [such as tiger claws], like the Glorious Solar Saber or Immaculate Golden Bow.) You want to emulate a tiger's spring? Leaping Tiger Attack! A tiger's graceful balance? Graceful Tiger (I mean, Crane) Stance! To emulate the keen eyes of a hunting cat, use Sensory Acuity Prana. To call upon the tiger's strength, use Strength Increasing Exercise.

You can get all that (aside from the custom Charm) in seven Charms, all within reach of a starting Solar. The Brawl aid creation charm probably is only three Charms deep (going by Glorious Solar Saber and Immaculate Golden Bow), and Fists of Iron Technique is a likely prerequisite, so it easily within the alloted 10 charms. I'd argue that a Solar who uses these charms can better represent a "Tiger Style" martial artist than a Solar who has mastered the entire Tiger Style tree. And there is room for growth: the martial artist can call upon the majesty of a tiger, impressing others in one-on-one interaction (Harmonious Presence Meditation) and cowing his enemies (Majestic Radiance Presence). The tiger stylist can emulate the inflappability and instinctive grace of a cat in social situations with Mastery of Small Manners. With the Survival tree, he can live off the land, animals recognize the character as the King of the Beasts, and he becomes a terrifying and implacable hunter.

To summarize my position, martial arts is cool, but in my view making a martial artist in Exalted is better done by using charms from other abilities in a way that supports your desired theme.\\ - Raindoll

Raindoll, this is one of the coolest things I've ever heard. Damn you! Now I have to go gen assloads of Lunars... - SMK

Raindoll, brilliant conclusion. Must say it's a good idea, might try it next time i start a new campaign. If i understand correctly you would be using MA as the actual ability used in said charms, or simply disregarding MA and making players design their own MA through other abillities purely?

Willows, (in case youre lurking) why you describe them as nerfing i dont know, i dont actualy reduce the charecter or soften them up in any way, instead i am instituting a responsability onto the character for theme based effect and making sure that MA characters have something to do besides hit stuff good. I do this to all my PC's who try ubering up in combat otherwise i may aswell go play street fighter alpha ,or soul calliber, for 6 hours. Unfourtunately i have to do this right now as i have a few players out of the group of 10 i run games for who haven't realy role played before and went straight for kung fu death machines, and some power gaming veterans. And as for talking about what i run in games, fneh, i like to.

Issue: Is MA Uber - My POV, slightly, but comprable to most other combat trees in the solar book. But MA does get more powerful the further down the levels of exalted you get though. Dragon blooded imaculates for example stomp on ANYONE damn hard, even solars.


I've got it! I've figured the thing that's had me (and, I think, other people) bothered about the Sidereals and their Martial Arts. It's not just the idea that someone's better than the Solars at something - everyone needs a schtick. It's the fact that, from the beginning of Exalted, right from the Core, Martial Arts has been the cool ability. The game's built around anime and kung-fu movies, for god's sake. They even went out of their way in the DB fatsplat to make MA universal, so that nobody had to be left behind on the coolness bandwagon (since Exalted is, finally, about Cool Stuff). And then Sidereals came out, and BAM! Suddenly a Solar martial artist is utterly second-rate. In fact, everyone sucks at MA compared to the Sidereals. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? It was just such a shock, as if suddenly a fatsplat came out and Dragonbloods got their own circle of Sorcery that takes one turn and counts as reflexive Charm use - it didn't really fit with the setting as I (and I hope other people) understood it, and it undermined something that was supposed to be a universal theme of the game. Anyway, there's my (latest) two cents on the issue. - SMK

As I hope has been made clear, this argument refutes itself. "Martial arts is universal" and "Sidereals are uber because of martial arts" is a contradiction. Sidereals have three advantages, and only the first two are mechanical: the sutras (which provide a small cost break for SMA), the ability to design new SMA (not all that great, intrinsically - at Essence 7, you're already able to turn every enemy on the battlefield into chickens, or whatever - what more do you need?), and steady access to martial arts that other people can't easily get. Sidereals aren't uber because they have VBoS; anyone can learn it. Sidereal CULTURE - the preservation and development of martial arts while the rest of the world was blood and ash - is what makes them seem like overpoweringly good martial artists. But how good would Sidereals be if they were reincarnating across Creation and had to start from scratch the way Solars do? Oops, no easy access to SMA, no Sifus, life pretty much sucks. AND they still have all the innate Sidereal disadvantages. -- BillGarrett
(This has been abridged, since my worthless fucking computer ate the first one) OK, first, MA isn't universal. MA is supposed to be universal, and every book before the Sidereal book has tried to keep it universal, but the Siddie splat totally fucked that notion. Now, everyone sucks at MA compared to the Sidereals. To put it in action movie terms - if it's a kung-fu movie, you'd better hope you're a Sidereal, or you're dead. Now, this would be fine in a game that wasn't built from the ground up to be a fucking kung-fu movie. The problem, at its base, is that the Sidereals got one of the main thematic backbones of the whole setting for their schtick. It would be like giving Solars exclusive access to all circles of Sorcery, then pretending it'd always been that way, in a game entirely focused on sorcerers. The fact is that now a Chosen of Serenity is automatically better at MA (which, by the way, is still a combat ability) than a fucking Dawn Caste Solar, and that really is stupid. - SMK\\

PS - what "innate disadvantages" are you talking about, exactly? All of the Siddies' disadvantages stem from the Celestial Bureaucracy.

SMK - Sorry to hear about your computer. However, please keep the profanity off the forums. Thank you. - Toram
The cost break is not 'small'. It's immense. Just the student Sutra saves you 5 motes a turn. That's almost getting a 3 die stunt bonus in Essence /every turn/. And the Elder Sutra saves you on Willpower, meaning that Combos suddenly become very feasable things to use in large quantity and often.
Further, Sidereal Martial Arts are not really universal. The Dragonblooded and Lunars can't use them all. The Solars and Abyssals can't use them unless taught. And whenever someone brings up the uberness of Martial Arts as an ability, it's functional power to emulate any other Ability via The Righteous Path of Flower Arrangement, the devolpers reply with a hand wave and 'It's a kung fu movie!'
Well, if Exalted is a Kung Fu movie, then the people with the strongest fu are the protagonists who will win out in the end; they are the most elite and bestest. And that's the Sidereal- thus in conflict with the idea of Solars as the best.
The problem isn't with the Sidereal being the best Martial Artists, or with Martial Arts being the best ability; but when you put those two things together, there are issues. DS

Okay, okay, ignoring the "does MA step on two many Abilities' domains" argument for a second, and the "MA = awesome = Sidereals r0xx0r everybody" argument... what good is something like Snake Style or Mantis Style for someone who isn't a Essence 6+ Sidereal? I mean, I realize Solar Melee will rock your socks off, but what's all the hubbub about MA as a whole? None of the Charms I've seen seem ridiculously overpowered, or, indeed, even all that fantastic. Am I missing some crucial insight here? In short: how do MA-ists (Solars, for the sake of argument) compete in serious combat? - DigitalSentience

Er. So, ignoring the two major arugements that are the answer to your question...
You're right. If it doesn't matter that by focusing purely on one ability you can gain the benefits of all the others, or that Celestial Martial Arts are apparently meant to be Solar Level in power (thus why BotBM has a hard cap of Dex + MA for it's dice adding), allowing far easier access to Solar level charms for the Siddies, Lunars, and even the Dragonblooded, or the broad array of tricks that can be performed with MAs- if you basically discount the entire arguement that MAs may be a wee broken, then yes, it's fine. DS

DS, that was a kinda snarky response, dude. For my part, martial artists have a different growth curve than other combatants. An experienced Sidereal combatant can do ridiculous things like pop out of existence so you can't hit him. Or make anyone he can see explode. And so on. A Solar meleeist at the same level of experience can...hit people really hard. A lot. And also can parry things. A lot. Hell, if anything, martial artists can compete in coolness terms. MA has built-in chrome. - willows

And you base this on your extensive knowledge of Essence 5 Solar Melee Charms? The way I see it, Celestial MA provide pre-chromed effects similar to those available to Solars in other abilities with lower prerequisites and often less cost. For example, compare the persistent defense in Snake to Flow Like Blood. But you get them all in one ability, so it more or less works out. The big advantage of Sidereal MA appears to be that you don't have a prereq tree through low-Essence charms, and you can get to the Essence 4 and 5 stuff right off the bat --- *not* that they're inherently more powerful Charms for their Essence requisites. So I think that Five-Jade-Fury and Nest of Living Strands are great examples of what can be done with an expensive (say 15-20 mote total, or 5+1) Melee or Presence Charm on the Essence 3/4 border. And Grandmother Spider Mastery, at Essence 7, doesn't look so great compared to a Supplemental Melee Charm at Essence 6 which lets an attack hit everyone in line of sight. Probably for 20 motes, or 10+1W, and with a rather long tree grounded in Iron Raptor. There is no canonical Solar meleeist at the same level of experience, but it's one of several reasonable extrapolations to land where I am. - BrianSniffen

My thoughts: If you're worried about Martial Arts stepping on too many other ablities, why not substitute a simple rule: when using Martial Arts Charms for a non-combat purpose, use the player's Socialize (or Stealth or Athletics or whatever) as the dice pool. Or use the lower of Martial Arts and the offended Ablity. Additionaly, require that the Exalt have good scores in the relevant Ablities to start learning a Style that deals with those ablities. This should be a pretty easy fix to implement.

I'm on shakier ground here, but: I don't think Celestial MA make Solars too weak. Even Blade of the Battle Maiden, possibly the best Celestial MA Charm, isn't as good as Fivefold Bulwark Stance. I also disagree about Siddereal MA being too good. By the time a Sidereal collects the XP necessary to buy Essence 5, Charcoal March of Spiders Form, and one complete Celestial MA; a Solar is going to have the complete Martial Arts, Dodge, and Melee trees. Or she'll have Essence 6 and Protection of Celestial Bliss (From the Dawn Book) or something equally horrifying. Personally, I bet on the Solar. -MeiRen

Way back up towards the top, BrokenShade brought up the idea of MA abilities that step on toes requiring dots in the other ability, which Epsilon rapidly dismissed and it seems as though it was never brought up again until MeiRen mentioned something similar just now. I'm going to dismiss it again, but on slightly stronger (IMHO) grounds: The reason that adding skill prerequisites to certain MA charms isn't enough is because they still don't take pre-requisite Charms from those abilities, yet do things that take three or more Charms to get to normally. MeiRen's tactic is slightly sneakier, since the player can aquire the Charm, but it might suck.

Martial Arts is generally fozwuggy. Technically, a Martial Art is any skill that involves martial prowess, and classically, masters such as Musashi have linked an understanding of strategy to an understanding of how the world works (which is technically what a character's Essence rating should be); thus, the Martial Arts skill can do anything. If I were Grabowski for a day, I'd mutate MA as a skill and make the Martial Arts charm trees use whatever ability was appropriate on a charm-by-charm basis; in other words, divorcing them from the normal tree structure (martial arts based around unarmed fighting would mostly use Brawl, while the Dreaming Pearl Courteasean Style would mostly end up using Socialize and Presence). I'd also make the average Essence cost per ability one higher than elsewise, and make 'iffy' rolls based on Essence + MA. MA would be purchasable as a skill, like Craft is now- specific per style. In other words, it would become a glorified form of specialization. The Form-Type Charm for any martial arts tree would still require (usually three) dots in Martial Arts (Style).

As it stands, I'm just not touching it. It's too fsocked to mess with. $.02 &Arafelis

As a person in RL who has studied the Martial arts for (rolls eyes in head and thinks for a bit) over 20 years, I don't think that MA is broken; cheesy players are and there's no way to fix that, regardless of the game system. Yes, by canon the MAs allow the user to do alot with Charms,but it shouldn't be used to substitute skill in other areas; i.e. wannna climb, use athletics. I don't care if your MA has a climbing charm, if you don't want to spend the motes then you need the ability. On the other hand, the Martial Arts teach one to use a lot of different skills you don't even recognise at first not only that proper training makes them instinctual for instance i have on occasion been able to understand some other thing completly removed from the Martial Arts by internalizing it and thinking about how it could be like something similar to a Martial Art Technique or Philosophy.JMOP. - Issaru

JMOP? I don't think that Exalted supernatural martial arts have anything to do with real-world martial training. Therefore, I don't think that we can really glean much from your analogy. - willows

JMO=just my opinion. the p came out cause i was tired and a lil stoned when i wrote that sorry.What i was trying to say and failed is that Martial arts embrace a philosophy and even the movements carry that philosophy and in a game world that Ideas are as powerful as they are in exalted those effects should be able to become concrete(charms),but just having the elightenment to do this doesn't mean you can make more mundane and practical uses of said philosophy.sorry bout the string of words earlier. - Issaru

Have people considered the opinion that VBoS on it's own is broken, not MA in general? That's certainly my personal opinion. I think it was designed as almost a 'half sidereal' style, but then (bizarrely) costed as a standard, low essence celestial style. If it's to be fixed, it needs to either be upgraded into an entire sidereal style of it's own (probably a rather short and beginner's style) or up-costed significantly, certainly the pre-requisites. Yes, the charms fit compared to other sidereal charms... but they're not sidereal charms, they're celestial martial arts charms, and compared to those, they do NOT fit. The main four that seem to step outside the boundries are BotBM, JiAS, Death-Parrying Stroke, and Life-Severing Blow. Opinions please?
-- Darloth, wondering whether resurrecting such a contraversial debate will get him a toasty flaming or not

I don't find the style to be broken. It's very offensively oriented with little in the way of true defensive charms. It seems to gain a quick upper hand and end a fight very quickly so it has it's own holes, like all styles. As for the charms in question. BotBM has a hefty WP and motes price and has a certain situational utility. By itself, especially when you have only a few charms in the style it's not highly useful and you wont want to use it against extras very much. Lots of dice for a scene is good, especially for MA but it's not a mind blowing charm. JiAS..well essence regeneration is always good in a fight, but again by itself it's not stellar. More commited essence, and requires you to devote defensive actions. With the style itself, you're not getting any reflexive defences. Death-Parrying Stroke is slightly better on the avoiding damage side in that it avoids health levels but again it requires specific use and you're not getting reflexive parries with the charm from anywhere. Maybe for use once in a while it's ok but the mote cost will catch up with you. Live-Severing Blow really isn't any more stellar than other charms that maximize and boost damage. The style is oriented towards defeating foes as quickly as possible and it plays to that. I don't see much in the style that stands out as broken for a Celestial MA. Once you start having to go outside the style for broken combination, you've rather ruined the idea that the style itself is broken.

The charms are not broken, but their inclusion into a celestial level MA is. The damage maximizers are rarely found, certainly not at that cost, in any other MA of which I know. Shall we consider Tiger Style? Lots of damage adders, but none of them grant automatic damage successes, which are a lot harder to get. Life Severing Blow costs 2m per autosuccess on that damage roll. Note that those successes do not -replace- dice of damage, they ADD successes. The charm can be declared after the attack has already struck, so it can be included in a combo basically for free (motewise) or used if you happen to get lucky with an attack you have no charm on but usage spare for. I hate to think what would happen if you taught VBoS to a dragon-blooded, because since it's reflexive, they'd use it for most likely every hit, especially as it can also apply to brawl, but that's a discussion for a different day. Solar success-adders cost 3m each, and that's for non-combat charms. Lunar die-converters cost 2m each. Now, neither of those are martial arts charms, and martial arts charms are supposed to be slightly less efficient at doing other things... but, again, post-form charms are supposed to be slightly nastier, so 2m instead of 3m is just about okay. It's still a cheap effect though, and really easy to use. Now, flight of mercury is a 1-for-1 initiative booster that lasts a scene. I know you'll end up with committed essence, but if you can ensure you go first, whatever you spent on BotBM can ensure you have enough spare actions to attack once or twice and still parry a few times if necessary. After you put all of these up, you can probably get by against anything but a combat-solar without too much trouble. Anyone fighting a combat solar with only a single MA is dead anyway, but combat-solars are not what styles should be balanced against. How about we compare it just to other celestial martial arts, assuming every stylist has 1 style? I think that it would more often than not beat almost all of the other styles by themselves, although if anyone does try it I'd love to see the results. If it turns out it's not so broken after all, I may be persuaded, but the style seems to certain, too effective, and too high-powerered for the pre-requisites! While a scene-long diceadder at 2wp and 2m isn't cheap (I think it's about right for one adding to both parries and attacks) it certainly shouldn't be at MA 3 Ess 2, and pre-form at that!. Those are my quibbles with the style.
-- Darloth

If we follow the costing pattern of Solar die-adders, their combat success-adders should be even cheaper. - willows
Perhaps, but it also says that out-of-combat charms are supposed to be slightly better than in-combat charms. Apparently, this is to make sure non-com characters are not penalised compared to pure-combat monsters. Whether they actually ARE is a matter for debate. I do see your point though.
-- Darloth

Oh, boy, this is a big discussion. Anyway. I hath a brainwave, which I need to share before I can get to sleep, that I feel should probably go here. and in it, my reply is - within certain bounds - martial arts are not uber. they aer a short-cut and a stop-gap. those bounds being: THat all martial arts are focused around combat, that the circle system (root, bulb, blossoming) is used, and that chrm trees for martial arts must be designed in total, rather than charm by charm. Consider. Terrestrial martial arts are in the essence 1-5 range. Celestial ones seem to be about 2-5. Sidereal ones require essence 4+. Now, Let us contrast and compare 2 solars, with no sidereal allies willing t obe tray the sidereal scholarship and give out their deepest secrets. We have an essence 3 brawl specialist, and an essence 3 martial artist. In a fight, the martial artist is probably superior: his charms tend to be a touch more powerful, and flexible, than the brawlers. Let's move them on to be essence 7. THe brawler shows off his massive essence 7 brawl charm, which knocks out an entire army with one blow. The martial artist.. shows off his collection of celestial martial arts, none of which require an essence above about 5, and thus none with the raw power of the brwler. the brawler's charms will also now be a lot more wide-ranged, and probably more numerous and straight-out useful. Because, if you consider the martial arts in the circle system, I, for one, see the main diffrence being the range of essence required. and I will keep to those essence ranges, and then it make sense. Martial arts offers early power and flexibility, but loses out in the long term. - Molikai

Well, according to the Players Guide, the disadvantage of MA is that effects from MA tend to be weaker/less efficient as compared to those from "native" abilities. The advantage is that you get a whole slew of effects from a single ability. Solar charms don't really go above Essence 3, 4 in a few cases, so it's hard to compare. I'll try anyway:

  • Four Golden Halo Monkey Defence: more expensive, slighly weaker version of Five-Fold Bulwark Stance. Not to mention depth.
  • Tornado Offensive Technique(Air Dragon): Buy extra actions, 4/action, up to MA. Compare to Peony Blossem Attack: 3/attack, with lower prereqs, slighly lower limit. Iron Whirlwind has a 1 higher skill req,cost of 5+1, but gives attacks == dex.
  • Essence Fangs & Scales: Soak lethal with bashing for scene(cost 6) vs Spirit Strenghtens the Skin(2+1). The second has lower prereqs, although Essence Fangs & Scales has other useful effects that makes them probably close to about equal.
  • Breadth of the Fire Dragon(Fire Dragon ;) ): vs Elemental Bolt Attack(DB Lore). For damage, it's (Essence x MA) vs (2 x Stamina), for accuracy it +Essence succusses vs +Essence accuracy, for range its (Ess) vs (Ess x 20). Cost is (MA) vs (Stamina). For requirements its 5/3 vs 2/2, while the former is after the form charm, the latter has no charm prereqs.

It seems to me that MA is generally Uber, but thats only because most other abilites don't have charms in the same ranges. MA generally seems to be weaker when when a direct comparison is possible. You also get the flexibily advantage with MA, in that a single tree gives a range of effects. Since Sidereal Martial arts start at 4, where everything else pretty much ends there, so it's hard to compare. The other advantage of MA is that they tend not to have speed bumps, although you could say this is a flaw in the 'standard' tree's. -FlowsLikeBits