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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 (from Thus_Spake_Zaraborgstrom/ShunTheSmilingLady)

As far as Spell Shattering Palm goes, that's not the first time the Charm's come up in contention, and I'm not going to defend it as written. The last debate can be found at Discussions/AreSiderealsUber.

As for Blade of the Battle Maiden, however, I think you're over-estimating their chances.

For a commitment of 20 motes, you have a 20 die attack. However, you've also tied up 20 motes.

Of your Essence pool of like, 46. And you're certainly into the Peripheral. Further, you can't stunt that back up.

An Exalt with initative seizing Charms can make the Siddie seriously suffer- all those bonuses don't help a damn when aborting to a defense. And an Exalt with Dipping Swallow Defense can abort to a full dodge, use DSD, and stunt back to nearly full Essence after every attack they don't win initative on.

Is it powerful? Yeah. But, on the whole, it's a massive offensive commitment- and defense keeps trumping offense. Further, if it's that grave a concern, a Solar variant isn't precisely hard to invent. Isn't it nice, making new Charms? :) Or, alternatively (and this is the option I'd personally favor, if in play illustrated to me that BotBM is actually broken), revert the diceadder caps to what they normally are by Exalt. DS

Except, of course, that Blade of the Battle Maiden is a MARTIAL ARTS Charm. Nothing stops Solars, Lunars or even properly trained Dragon-bloods from learning it. If you want to talk about broken Sidereal Charms, I suggest talking about Sidereal Charms, instead of Martial Arts charms, which are universal. Epsilon

I'm reasonably sure that a Solar would need a teacher to learn the Violet Biers style- that is, I don't think they could intuitively devolp it. The Animal Styles are supposed to be their baliwick. DS

I'm not one to argue points like these often, but I strongly agree that Blade of the Battle Maiden is overpowered. I don't think sidereals are overpowered, just that charm. It's a scene long excellent strike & a scene long excellent strike for parries. You get excellent strike maxed out against every opponent you attack for the remainder of the scene, and you get Golden Essence against every parry you make for the same duration. I'm not making any new points, I know. But a character with that charm and good initiative will be more deadly than he deserves to be, up to doubling the number of times he can split his dice pool accurately, and defending against exalt-strength attacks. It's a good thing it's so expensive, but I think that expensive powerful charms should be more difficult to learn.\\ - Morpheus

Hi! I'm surprised that some people feel that the BotBM is the danger charm in the tree. I've always thought of Joy in Adversity to be much more dangerous. For instance, imagine Essence 5, then 7SE is almost as cheap as SoW to dodge. The other problem I have with the style is that it emulates Melee so much. It's perfect for Solar Melee specialists to learn. Use Solar defense charms, and use Celestial MA to attack. VBoS is the ultimate celestial MA trees for Solars. I'm seriously thinking about letting the style be learnt as a Melee tree, aloowing combos from both trees. Clebo

I don't think the optimal usage of BotBM is to maximize its effect. I'd much rather buy like 5 dice with it and use a very accurate weapon for the rest, leaving a significantly larger portion of my Essence free for more flexible tactics. You're thinking, "Oh no! Twenty-die attacks for a scene!" and they're replying, "But you don't have anything else to do;" BotBM is ideal when you leave enough Essence free to break out your ubercombo, and have monstrous 17-die attacks on top of that (which, ideally, are also pumped up with The Methodology of Secrets.) I agree with Clebo in that JiAS is the danger Charm; BotBM's bark is worse than its bite.

My point is that you're looking at the obvious Sidereal strategies, which are rarely ever the optimal strategies because of their huge costs (not because "Sids have small Essence pools"); the real power of the Sids isn't in their uberosity, but in their ability to subtly make stuff work for them in unexpected ways. - willows

Exactly, willows. A lot of people get worked up over the Sidereal charms because they haven't read the other chapters of the book, or discount them as pages and pages of "flavor text." They approach the Sidereal charms with a Solar mindset-- and yeah, if Sids were anything like Solars, they'd be unstoppable. But they're NOT. No one can know that they're Exalted in Creation, they get serious censures if they use too much Essence-- even if they don't flare. If you want to play Sidereals without those limitations, and then complain about their power level, it's not the fault of the charms, it's because you're running Sidereals in a way that canon doesn't support.

From a writer's standpoint, the charms and their societal limitations mirror perfectly the fact that they're Celestial and yet so few. They have all this POTENTIAL power at their fingertips, but they can only harness a very small amount of it at any given time. It's brilliant and beautiful.

It's about roleplaying. Don't play every Exalt type like they're Solars with different powers. Try to get in the Sidereal world, the Sidereal mindset, and the balance people complain about not having will magically appear. --Dissolvegirl

I disagree with that entirely. I think that the drastically narrowed palette of effects that Sidereals have available makes their seemingly powerful charm set unbalanced in a way that's not overpowered, it's weak, and the Charms are - mechanically - significantly weaker than they look. That Blinding the Boar flamewar's a good example of this. Sure, four or five dice penalties will tear a mortal to bits, but Exalted won't be significantly impaired in their core proficiencies by that, and the Charm doesn't even affect all of those. Sidereals don't need the setting to balance them; it's a shortsighted or poorly-examined view of their powers that makes it sem like that is the case. (Not to impugn your own perceptions, but I think that a lot of arguments against Sidereals are made without adequate examination of facts.) - willows

"(Not to impugn your own perceptions, but I think that a lot of arguments against Sidereals are made without adequate examination of facts.)" -- Well, that's SOMEthing we agree on. ;) --Dissolvegirl

And I should add that those setting factors are a really important thing to take into account, as you said... I just don't think that they are crucial to the argument. - willows

I think I've misphrased something. I'm not questioning the minutia of overall game balancing in the Siddie splat - I haven't read the whole thing, as I see several people have surmised. I'm just concerned that Sidereals seem to have Charms that overstep their level in the Celestial hierarchy of power, if you will, as set forth in canon. I think it's ludicrous that Siddies can do a damn thing about Solar Circle Sorcery, or that they can supercede their dice-adder limit, for example. Imagine if Solars got a third-tier Melee Charm that let them add any number of dice to an attack. Now make it scene-long, reflexive, and applicable to parries. It's pretty expensive, sure, but that's not the issue. Regardless of how expensive it is, it's too powerful. Anyway, that's the point I was trying to make. - SilverMeerKat

I think you are wrong. (In the first place, by your own statement you don't own the book at all and have no intention of changing that; I wouldn't bother discussing its overall balance with you in particular for a second. I think that my rant and some of the others above are addressed to the larger fan community.) There is no Charm in Sidereals that Solars are incapable of countering or trumping, assuming that they have exactly the same resources to draw upon (Which they don't), and the same advanced learning (Which they don't). Sidereals do, socially, overstep their Celestial rank, and the game represents this by presenting the players with advanced high-Essence magics that aren't given for the other Exalted, because they don't have the social resources or unbroken Charm culture to support such constructions. - willows

Ok, first, please tilt your head down this way just a little... there. Couldn't see you over your nose. It's great that you feel the need to let me know that you "wouldn't bother" to discuss with me something of which I claim to know nothing. I'm sorry if I thought your comments were in response to mine, which does appear at the top of this page (not my doing, but thanks to whomever did it).\\ Now, I'm not sure exactly how to express this point more plainly, but I'm obviously failing to convey what I'm trying to. I'm not talking about the fact that Sidereals have better resources for learning high-essence Charms. I'm talking about the fact that the powers given them in their fatsplat don't seem to match up with what's been said about them in the source material leading up to said fatsplat. I was under the distinct impression that Solar Circle Sorcery was untouchable by anyone but the Solars and the greatest of gods, even to counter its effects. However, the Sidereal fatsplat plainly shows that pretty much anyone but Terrestrials (and probably Godbloods) can just wipe out Solar Circle Sorcery with a Charm that's not unreasonable at all in terms of prereqs. Also, I always thought that dice-adder caps were fairly constant, but BotBM completely supercedes them. Where are the Lunar or DB or, for that matter, Solar and Abyssal Charms with the same effect? I'm not particularly bothered by the fact that the Sidereals are possessed of such ridiculous hubris that they, in the game, have overstepped their bounds. My concern is that the powers given them in their fatsplat supercede what I had thought, from day one, to be the limits of the powers of the Sidereals. In the Lunar book, WW tried really hard to keep powercreep out, and ended up screwing up Lunar Charms hideously. In the Siddie book, they took rather the opposite track - they just decided to one-up the Solars. On a slightly related note, I'd like someone to point out to me anywhere, before the Siddie fatsplat, that mentioned the Sidereals as being better martial artists than the Solars. - SilverMeerKat

So you're annoyed that Sidereals are rather more complex and cool than the core suggested, due to universal Charm technology that more or less any Celestial has access to? Martial Arts do not make an argument that any particular Exalted type is overpowered, and I take offense that you try and pass them off as one. There is, to my memory, no Sidereal-unique Charm that you have argued against here, though your comments on Shun the Smiling Lady are less than positive... if you are trying to argue that the Martial Arts in Sidereals are overpowered, that is one thing (I still believe this is incorrent, incidentally), and what you've been making out to be your argument is another.

Where are the Essence 7 Solar Charms that eat Sorcery? Sure, Spell-Shattering Palm breaks the supremacy of Solar Circle Sorcery, but doesn't Gentle Touch of the Wicked Hand break Immunity to bloody Everything Technique? I think somewhere the core does state that Sidereals are "peerless martial artists", and somewhere else it states that Solars are talented generalists. (And, no, I don't feel I need to be white-gloved tea-drinking polite. You are no doubt an intelligent adult and you don't need me to be nice to you. Clear and concise, and, I hope, illuminating, is more than enough.) - willows

And most of the Sidereal Charms range from the 'excellent' to the 'super', in terms of both power and appropriateness. There's just a slim few that feel questionable. Spell Shattering Palm and Blade of the Battle Maiden were the only two that I really felt like houseruling to a more appropriate place (disallowing Solar Circle Sorcery from being broken by SSP and limiting BotBM's dice cap by Exalt-type rather than making all Celestial Martial Arts the equal of Solar diceadders. Those two tend to show up in conversation with people that want to see proof of power creep in Exalted; frankly, it'll take more than that to impress me that there's been a general increase. DS

PS: Responding to snarkiness with snarkiness never helps :) Just remember, mercy is the mark of a great man. Currently, you're just alright ;)

 Also, the SSP arguement has happened here before... I'm pretty sure I saw a discussion on it while cleaning up...

And also, I'm sure willows would have no problem discussing something with someone who claimed to know nothing about the topic. It's just that it makes absolutely no sense to have such an adamant opinion expressed in such a venomous tone on a subject that you, in your own words, claim to know nothing about. --dg

Er, I believe BotBM's cap is listed as At+Ab only because that's the Sidereal MA cap -- just like Terrestrial dice adders don't say "oh, if an Eclipse takes this, he can get At+Ab, because that's how it works." _Jabberwocky

Mm. I recall seeing Ms. Borgstrom say the reason that BotBM has the Solar dice adder cap is because it's a Martial Art- and since those are universal, they need to rise to the highest level. I respectfully disagree. Either the dice adder cap should be MA or Essence, both of which have served as similiar limits before, or it should vary by Exalt-type. DS

Ooh, reading Sidereal p. 128, that does seem to be implied. That messes with things quite a bit -- though it balances Martial Arts between splats, it starts a dangerous precedent; not that there aren't a handful of Charms which break the dice-adder cap, but those which do exist are completely explicit. It does encourage future trees to play with adding dice, if it's not going to hamper some Exalts more than others, I guess. If that is the case, though, I'm a little disappointed, primarily because I liked Sidereals specifically having a higher cap for MA than their other abilities -- it exemplifies their kung-fu schtick more actively than just cheaper costs and making high-level Styles. Alas. _Jabberwocky

Ok, one last time - I'm not expressing an opinion on overall game balance relating to the Sidereals. I know nothing about it. I have said as much, and now again. My contention about Martial Arts is based on the special priveleges Siddies have with relation to inventing and learning the most powerful MA. I remember no such quote, and always had the impression that the Sidereals were in fact not all that good at combat. It has nothing to do with anything that Martial Arts might "claim." And my argument against SSP IS</i> that it breaks the supremacy of Solar Circle Sorcery. I think that's what's wrong. My arguments are not about what I claim to know nothing about - that's why I specifically mention that I know nothing about those areas. Finally, I don't feel a particular <i>need for you to "be nice" to me, I'd just imagine that a fellow "adult" could avoid uncivility for its own sake. - SilverMeerKat

I suspect your impression of Sidereals prior to their hardback is a perception you actualized yourself, from a combination of their frail Ox-Body and position as 'advisors and seers', generally associated with older, less physically-oriented individuals. And it's true, to a degree, that they are not comparable warriors to other Celestials in most considerations. They'll hold their own, as is only fair, for a while, but they lack the Charm variety to respond to the multitude of effects a Solar can manage, or the massive natural pools of a Lunar (I'm deviating, but this combat frailty [combined with an inability fix it] can be seen an justifying their MA aptitude, mechanically.)\\
Additionally, if Asiatic epics have taught me anything, it's that with wisdom comes... well, martial arts. One can't really debate the merits of MA trees over other Celestials, since they are, after all, universal, and it seems well in theme (and constant with the core book) for Sidereals to augment their augery with some mystic ass-kicking. That thematic justification is the best we can do without comparably high-Essence Solar\Lunar\Abyssal Charms -- luckily, no one seems interested in debating mechanical balance at the moment. _Jabberwocky

PAge 25, corebook:) "The precision and deft control the Sidereals possess over fate also makes them terrifying masters of the Martial Arts. These deadly warriors taught their lesser techniques to the monks of the Immaculate Order, adapting their fighting forms to the weaker and more elemental powers of the Dragon-Blooded." Note 'deadly warriors', 'terrifying masters of the martial arts', etc. That's from the very first Exalted book ever published, the core book. You might not have remembered it -- hell, I've forgotten a lot of the stuff that was in the Corebook. Did you know that Eos and Osisisa (from Outcastes) were first mentioned there, for instance?

But yeah. The Sidereals have always been badass /terrifying/ warriors. One of the Sidereals had a caste based on BATTLES, even;P You can say a lot of things about the Sidereals -- but the notion that they have somehow swelled out of what was described initially, at least in terms of their charms and powers, is not a realistic criticism. Your just misremembering things:D The only way that they've moved beyond their initial descritpion is in the divine bureaucrats/superspies bit,and that has nothing to do with their charms. -- CrownedSun

Thanks, CS and Jabberwocky =) I'm still working on understanding the whole "someone's better than the Solars at something" thing, but I think I'm getting closer. It's just a jump to go from thinking that the Solars were better than everyone at everything to thinking that the Solars are better than most people at most things. I'll get there. I think really some of my personal stylistic gripes are slipping in here. It kind of irks me that Solar Melee is better than Solar anything-else-Dawn-Caste, for instance, or that Brawl just plain sucks so bad (unless you make your own Charms, of course), or that people are better than Solars at things. It's just jarring to my view of the setting, that's all. I'll get used to it, probably. I'm still a little curious about the whole SSP issue, though - I mean, I don't think I'm out of line claiming that the setting before the Siddie splat wasn't exactly rife with things that could do anything about Solar Circle Sorcery. Isn't it a bit much to let Siddies counter it? - SilverMeerKat

Both sides to the SSP debate have some merit. I've never had to pick a side, so I don't worry about it too much. Becky's musings on the topic are pretty convincing, personally, though I like her house rule suggestions as a sort of middle ground. _Jabberwocky

Yeah, I'd probably be ok with any one of those houserule fixes. I'd probably even be ok with saying that you just need 6 or 7 Essence to use it against SSC, 5 or 6 for CSC... I dunno, just babbling really. Anyway, I guess it doesn't matter - I'm not playin' any time soon <shrug>. - SilverMeerKat

Interestingly, what do you roll for SSP? You need a minimum, with the basic rule, of 8 successes (5 Essence + Circle 3) to break SCS with it. That's no small difficulty. Is it a Martial Arts action (more importantly, is it an attack or parry, in which case equipment bonuses and BotBM come into play)? Because, if it is, then the only sensible way you're going to reliably break SCS with it is if you've got BotBM and a few WSAVs in "Sorceror Hunter" (which I think is an awesome concept), and probably a dream specialty in "Fighting Sorcerors" as well. To me, that represents an extremely deep commitment to sorcery-hosing, and I would feel compelled to give out serious cookies to the player who did it. I'm trying to point out here that this Charm doesn't casually swat magic away, the way that people behave like it does; it's got a very difficult roll to extinguish even a Terrestrial spell, and anyone who can come across enough successes to do such a thing is probably formidable in ways that make that seem unimpressive, or is so narrowly focused that that's the only impressive trick he has. - willows

Willows, this ground hath been tread before. Five Jade Fury, Blade of the Battle Maiden and Spell Shattering Palm make breaking the difficulty trivial. Further, we've even had the discussion on wither some things are just inappropriate to ever do- such as bully through a Perfect Defense with raw power, transform a Lunar against their will, or break Solar Circle Sorcery. You fall on one side of this discussion, I and SMK fall on another. It's an idelogical (for want of a better word) opinion, not subject to reason or logic.

Or, in other words, you're a big stupid-head, neener. ;) DS

Sidenote: Sorcerer-Hunter is an extremely cool concept. :)

Personally, Spell-Shattering Palm bothers me too -- but not as much as it perhaps could have. I'd pondered the idea of a melee charm that shatters spells long before the book came out, and had even written a tenative version up. It was a LOT harder to use than SSP, and only worked on Terrestrial Circle (you needed a different charm for the other circles). However, it paved the way and I was somewhat prepared to go "well it's just a bit easier than I thought." However, I definately agree that it's perhaps a little TOO easy. I like some of the house rules suggestions, though, and I'd probably handle it in a similar manner.

The fact that I'm a fan of charms and effects that make your sorcery harder to counterspell also has some effect on my rather disinterest in getting all worked up about SSP too:)

As for your feelings, Silver Meer Kat, I understand them totally. I was expactly where you were for a while there, but really, the idea that Solars are effortlessly better than everyone else gets weird after a time. I still think that Solars are /the best/ in general, and I don't mind giving the other splats their own little pieces of the pie:D Sidereals get "martial arts" (since a Solar is probably better at Astrology itself), Dragon-Blooded get "elemental effects", and Lunars get "shapeshifting":) The Solar is just the big guy who all the others are ultimately inferior too, despite those little schticks:D Though it's not a "we will crush you!" kind of power:D\\ -- CrownedSun

DS: Investment in three Martial Arts, two of which are advanced, is by no means trivial in my book. (Math guys: What's the minimum base die pool you need to get, say, 75% chances of 8 successes with BotBM maxed and FJF running?) But yes, FJF is a scary thing to combine with BotBM, and one I hadn't thought of. (So I take it you are implying that the roll SSP calls for is one that B...etc. affects?) At this point, I'm just trying to be sure that all the information relevant to the discussion is out there clear for all to see, in order to demolish and misconceptions still standing. I'm starting to see where SMK stands on the matter and I know where you do, and I respect you both too much to want to change that standpoint, but I will not abide by shaky argumentation or miscommunication; they hurt us all. (Every time we have one of these talks, it makes me want to write Charms that you almost won't approve of.)

I also tend to agree with good Brandon that Sorcery and spells are not the end of Sorcery. You're all able to see my meta-MA Charms, and it'd be silly for me to say that type-specific Charms exist for MA but not for Sorcery (which isn't to say that I don't say silly things on occasion). Again, this does make SSP less impressive in my eye (coupled with the view that "where there's an Exalted will, there's probably a way, though it may be difficult and interesting"). - willows

For what it's worth, my 'house rule' for SSP tends to be "the roll in question is Dex+Martial Arts, but is explictly NOT an attack. Therefore it cannot be augmented with charms that boost Martial Arts attacks, like Blade of the Battlemaiden or Five Jade Fury." However, the charm itself does call it an attack so those charms do in effect take place (well BoB does; I'd want to read FJF again before saying that it did for sure, but I'd be surprised if it didn't). Oh, and it's only two Martial Arts, Willows:) Five Jade Fury and Spell Shattering Palm are in the same Martial Art, albiet different 'branches' of it.\\ -- CrownedSun

Oh, so true. Silly me, thinking that PAoC was somehow like eighteen styles. - willows

When the SSP discussion was first brought up on the White Wolf boards, someone else thought of the BotBM - FJF combo for getting around the Difficulty 8 to 10 zone. Rebecca never mentioned that this was an incorrect interpretation- instead, she suggested upping the difficulty further and/or adding Bad Effects to being at ground zero of a parried nuke. So, yeah. And while I don't think that SCS is the be all-end all, unimprovable Perfection in what it can accomplish, it should be perfect in it's difficulty to get rid of. I think it is extremely significant that the same book as Spell Shattering Palm also contains the Greater Sign of Serenity- which snuffs all Essence effects in several miles, except the direct actions of the Celestial Incarna and Solar Circle Sorcery. This is an inconsistancy, in my mind- either SCS is that buff and perfect (and so SSP shouldn't ever be able to touch it) or or it is not so buff and perfect (and so the Greater Sign should snuff it). I incline towards the later.

As for the difficulty of having both Charms- it's hardly unreasonable for a dedicated Sidereal Martial Artist to have mastered the Violet Biers, and have both Five Jade Fury and Spell Shattering Palm by the time a Solar occultist is getting down with Solar Circle Sorcery. Hell, given the nearly-totally-lost nature of the later, and the relative abundence of Sifus for the former, it's really much more likely, in my opinion.

To me, having some hard limits on what can be done adds beauty. An Exalt may write the most beatiful haiku in the world, but they could never write a haiku that was not in 5/7/5 format. They can write a sonnet of pure perfection, but not one that broke the schema. They could write poetry that breaks the rules and is more excellent for this- but it has also lost something in not being constrained.

Trampling into the rules of Perfection in Exalted are such poetry. Maybe they are a better reflection of an Exalt's power, to force a Lunar into some shape. Maybe it is more correct that the Abyssal can make an attack unparryable even by Heavenly Guardian Defense. Maybe it is a closer call to the heart of Exalted if the Sidereal Master can punch out Rain of Doom. But something is lost, then. DS

I'd note that Solar Circle Spells are NOT perfects. Anyone can counter them -- all they need is Adamant Spell Countermagic, which is sadly unavailable to anyone but Solars but still *JUST* a spell. So I don't think your note about 'trampling perfects' is very relevant. I agree with you on the greater sign of saturn, to an extent. I believe that having the charm be able to snuff out Solar Circle Sorcery but at an unlikely level of difficulty is fine, even if the /astrological anima-based effect/ cannot is just fine.  :P Astrology isn't as strong as charms.

But the idea that it's possible to casually break it, but this rather powerful and expensive effect cannot touch it, does strike me as strange. Yet as I noted, I already agree with you in every respect but one. That being that Solar Circle Sorcery is 'untouchable'. It's clearly not; it's HARD to touch, but that's not the same thing. The fact that other Exalts can raise to that level is not something that I expected, and it surprised me at first, but it's not really that hard to imagine. I just want it to be a little HARDER to reach;P\\ --CrownedSun

CS, delete SSP for a moment. How can Solar Circle Sorcery be directly countered, except with Solar Circle Sorcery? It can't. No way, no how. Just not happening. No one but a powerful Solar Sorcerer can undo the magics of another powerful Solar Sorcerer.

In my mind, it's the same as if Pattern Spider Touch could change a Lunar into a new shape. It's the exact same thing in my mind. Litterally, no difference. Only the Lunar can change their shape. Period. Only the Solars can counter SCS. Period. It's not a matter of it being hard- it's something that shouldn't be possible, ever.

Put another way- imagine a Solar Circle Sorcery that was just 'Martial Arts Forms and charms stop working within 1 mile of the caster for the next month, as they disrupt the natural Essence flows upon which such styles are built'. Or 'This spell forever draws the favor of the Pattern Spiders, by conjuring a trio of smaller helpers for them. Thereafter they are well disposed to the caster- at a task of his choosing, his target number is 6 instead of 7. Furthermore, hostile Astrology treat the caster as if his Essence was 3 higher than it is'. These not out of bounds of what SCS can accomplish- but they are awful schtik trampling, and if I saw them published, I'd be screaming 'Powercreep' at the top of my lungs. SSP is a bad precident and a bad idea and a bad Charm for it's ultimate conclusion. End of line. And now, I to bed. :) DS

Just a point I'd like to make about Greater Sign of Serenity again. Maybe that limitation on Solar Circle Sorcery is because it has a similar... for lack of a better word, weave or crystaline structure to the powers of the Celestials. It would even make sense if you really think about it, the highest Circle of sorcery known is based on the same foundation as the most powerful beings they could emulate, just without quite the same raw force behind it as well.

We've seen the implication that there is a Circle beyond Solar, most likely imitating the styles of the Primordials, but I'm guessing that A) Sorcery came into being after the war B) By the time someone came up with the idea there was no way to examine the powers. And that's not to say they couldn't, though I'm sure the Primordials would try to prevent it. And the same of course goes for Void Circle Necromancy, there might be something deeper, but in the end, the fun of Exalted isn't always winning, but the journey getting there.

Anyway, point is, why would the Maidens give their servants a power that could in theory negate the power of themselves? They remember how they did in the Primordials, and I'm certain they don't want to repeat that with themselves playing the parts of the Creators. ^_^ - haren

There! Right there! DS, you're better at expressing myself than I am. Anywho, yeah, I can definitely see both sides of this debate, and I've had major trouble picking a side, but I think I'm firmly in the "this is important schtick, don't mess with it" camp. I don't necessarily think there should be no way of dealing with SCS, I just think that, maybe, in the example of the Lunar pack given above, the Lunars should have to bargain with someone/something with the power to deal with the SCS rather than doing it themselves. Anywho, yay the Wiki. - SilverMeerKat

Edit: D'oh. That Lunar example isn't here, it's over at Thus_Spake_Zaraborgstrom/ShunTheSmilingLady, and it raises a good point. - SMK

DS, let's put it this way. Until the other core books were published, Solars were the ONLY ones with perfect defenses. They were the only ones capable of casually batting aside the impossible, of defending themselves against *perfect attacks*. The core book even suggested that they would be the ONLY ones with perfects. Yet, when Lunars and Sidereals (and Abyssals) came out -- the others had Perfects as well. Comparatively, someone else breaking SCS is rather pointless. Solar Circle Sorcery is badass sorcery -- it's not a perfect effect, it's just an effect that requires some major kickass power to blow apart. Power that is typically reserved for Solar Exalted, but that isn't *solely* obtainable by them.\\ -- CrownedSun

Actually, no one but the Solars (and Abyssals) have absolutely Perfect Defenses or Attacks, IIRC. They have to make a roll, or there's a limited set of circumstances they can use their Perfect in, etc. That's perfectly in keeping with the relative power levels. And, even if I'm mis-remembering it's not the same thing. You'll need to demonstrate where the distinction between SCS and Lunar-no-shapechanging is, save that the Lunars was published after the terminology of Perfection was actually hammered out so it could be made explicit. DS

I would like to point out Sidereals have what certainly to me appear to be Perfect defenses. Impede the Flow is limited perfect but no roll... Serenity in Blood has an implied limitation, but that's not mentioned in the system. Fact is, then it's not certain and an ST might decide that because someone's in a Shadowland or Wyld they shouldn't be punished by being unable to block easily. - haren

In which case, I'd have to argue you're granting powers to the Sidereal they don't have, and are clearly not meant to have, because the charm descriptions don't conform to a strict 'Flavor test-Mechanics' divide. In other words, you're reaching. DS

Adamant countermagic works automatically. SSP requires a roll. It's the same thing. I'd note that in most cases (especially for Lunars) the roll is quite low indeed. Also, really, I think your exgerrating the importance a bit here. Perfects can stop other perfects; that's what makes them perfect in my mind. The fact that they can easily stop normal attacks and megacombos is nice, but it's not the most important thing. I'd accept a "you roll Dex+Dodge normally, and if you get enough successes to negate the rolled successes then your attack is a perfect defense" as an acceptable perfect. It'd stop Accuracy Without Distance, and other potential Perfect Attacks. THAT'S what I see as a perfect defense, or a perfect attack, not so much the idea that it 'works every time'. But as I noted -- Adamant Countermagick; no roll. SSP; big ass roll. So by your own comparison, this is OKAY because non-Solars can have perfects that work with rolls:P\\ -- CrownedSun

That it. I'm done. See what I said earlier? In response to this same point? We're in a circle, we have OPINIONS on the subject, like I bloody well said before. I think SSP breaking SCS is bad. Finite. End of line. You won't convince me otherwise, because I have certain other assumptions about the setting and structure of the game. You could look up some of the debates I've had on this same topic, and see all of my points, over and over again. Check out Accessible Content and the last SSP debate. But I'm done with this page. Geh. DS

None the less, I still claim victory!  :) You implied that trampling over perfects is okay as long as you include rolls and special conditions, and that the inclusion of such makes them non-applicable. Both of which apply to spell-shattering palm:D So, weee! DANCCCCCCE!!!!\\ -- CrownedSun, he's a dancing, dancing, a dancing maaaachine!

*watches the invocation of Poor Winner Prana* Moxiane
Hehe; come on, it was funny;P -- CrownedSun

Just doing some numbers: Minimum difficulty for SSP versus Solar Circle is 8 (5 Essence + 3 Circle). Lowball Sid's abilities, posit Dex 4, MA 5, no specialty. Nine dice. With Five-Jade Fury, gets 3 autosuccesses on every unarmed MA attack. So effective difficulty of SSP is 5 (8-3 autosuccesses). Less than a 50% chance on a 9-die roll, but you are probably free to try again and again until you succeed, if you're looking at a standing effect.

High-end: MA 5, Dex 5, 3 specialty. Thirteen dice. Five automatic successes from FJF; effective difficulty 3. Not quite trivial on a 13-die roll, but well over 50%. If you use Blade of the Battle Maiden to jack yourself up to 23, you get 8 automatic successes; an automatic success unless the Solar has more than 5 Essence (and a very good chance of success even if he's Essence 6+). \\ _Ikselam

Just a minor point - the Mantle of Brigid. OK, so it's Artefact N/A and gets to break all the rules, but with it a Sidereal (or a Lunar) could learn & cast Solar Circle Sorcery. -- Moxiane

Falcon - Just had a thought. SSP works as if the spell in question was dispelled by countermagic of its own circle. So, when you shatter a standing SCS effect, you're standing at ground zero for a huge magical explosion - multiple TCS-level effects. Sure, SSP is Reflexive, so you can shatter all the minor spells too, at 12 motes a shot. Even with Essence 5, Willpower 10, and all virtues at 5, you only have 60-odd motes. Five uses, unless you've got some committed to other things. And then, you have to deal with whatever the SCS effect was holding back. Cocky sidereals will dieDiscussions/I>.

Right on. I have no problem letting a Sidereal PC or NPC go in with SSP and all his useful adders and such, under these circumstances. Trading the life of one high-Essence Martial Arts master, who is probably a few centuries old and a valued Sidereal, for a single Solar Circle spell, seems like an even better indication of Solar Circle power than a simple "you can't break it so nyeah" ruling. - BillGarrett

Imagine if Solars got a third-tier Melee Charm that let them add any number of dice to an attack. You mean like Cascade of Cutting Terror, which lets Solars circumvent their dice-pool limits? Hey, look, published in the core book, too. On the other hand, I think a reasonable house rule -- not something I'd want to see in canon, but nice for my game -- is that a Sorcerer can establish a Condition when casting a long-lasting spell. The spell is harder to break without meeting that condition -- maybe impossible, maybe impossible unless you're higher Essence, in which case you can ignore the condition. Appropriately fairy-tale logic stunts can get you around a lot of countermeasures in my game: intentional weakness provides lots of strength. --bts

I like the houserule about the sorcery, if only for the sake of non-Solar campaigns. As for CoCT, it's been explicitly stated (in the errata? somewhere? anyone know?) that the CoCT / PotSR combo was included as a freak occurrence to try to bring Thrown up to snuff with the other Dawn abilities in terms of usefulness. And, actually, you have to <i>combo that Charm to get it to surpass anybody's dice-adder limits. Which means that it has nothing to do with what I'm talking about, because everyone can surpass their dice-adder limit with careful comboing (except maybe DBs, I dunno). I'm talking about a single Charm that breaks an Exalt type's d-a limit. A bloody Reflexive, scene-long, third-tier (or is it second?), 3/2 bloody MA Charm, no less. Anywho. - SMK

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.

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
Or, this could be a replay of Once Upon a Time in China, with Master Yim as a Sidereal and the westerners with guns as the Solars. :) - Quendalon
We should start a page somewhere with a list of movies with good examples of Exalted combat in them, 'cause people keep coming up with stuff I haven't seen (and probably should). - SMK
"Sidereal Martial Arts are not universal" is not the same as "Martial Arts are universal" - even the Dragon-Blooded get their inexperienced-Solar-challenging Dragon styles. "Lunar Exalted may learn and invent martial arts up to the Celestial level without special initiation" (PG235). Depending on who you ask, SIDEREALS can't even learn SMA without a tutor (which puts them on par with everyone else who can learn those styles at all; their advantage is cultural).
Yes, the sutra is kind of a neat thing to have, and yes, the cost break is pretty nice. This is pretty good, since Sidereals can't conveniently throw around peripheral Essence. The consequence for Solars is "I light up"; for Lunars, "I stop being able to be an animal"; for Sidereals, "I draw the censure of my peers and lose whatever identity I had running, so those around me forget who I am, and oh yeah, I maybe just gave away the existence of the Sidereals where I shouldn't have". This is one disadvantage of the Sidereals; there are others, that aren't merely cultural consequences. The rarity of their Magical Material, the Arcane Fate, the quirkiness of the non-MA Charms, all spring to mind.
I don't buy the supremacy of Martial Arts. Sure, you have styles that do things like "add your Essence to one existing Dodge score for 3 motes". But Dodge has things like "Dodge absolutely any attack for 6 motes, without rolling, or roll at your full pool for a third of that." MA diversifies, but it does not have equivalent levels of effectiveness as the directed Charms of the same general power-level (by which I mean Ability and Essence minimums, position on the tree, etc.) I see a lot of people read the SMA Charms and said "oh look, twinky Charms". Well boohoo. What's the toughest Charm requirements, not counting sorcery, in the main book? Essence 3? Essence 4? Start writing Solar Charms like "Godlike Invulnerability" at Essence 6-7, then laugh as a Sidereal martial artist wastes 30-40 motes trying to get through Protection of Celestial Bliss, then finds that his Stunning Peacock Army Transformation Combo has been effortlessly negated (at which point you stab him). When you follow the MA path, you've given up higher power in a few areas in exchange for the ability to buy a variety of Charm effects under one Ability tree. Nothing more. This, to me, is a fair trade, and whatever other people have said, whatever "this is a kung fu movie" means to you, this is a viewpoint that preserves game balance, and if someone then still persists in saying "MA R UBER, GAME BROKEN", my suggestion to them is to stop playing. -- BillGarrett

I sincerely like this line of discussion. I think it's going somewhere useful. I'm going to elaborate on that in a bit; I just wanted to voice that here and now. - willows

Amen. Seriously, I know I can get a bit combative on these pages, but I really appreciate the opportunity to toss the ideas around with people whose opinions I actually respect, in an environment where we can take time to set up our arguments. I'll be sticking with this one too. - SMK

I think Raindoll made a good point that fu is not only the kind of esoteric, iconographic fu that the Sidereals are the masters of - the Excellent Strike is a kind of fu too, and so is the Many Missiles Bow Technique and the Arrow-Consuming Flame Defence. As I understand Raindoll's view, Martial Arts subsume a narrow portion of what we would call the kung fu/wuxia aspects of a movie, specifically the limited range of styles that are emulative, meditative, and overtly supernatural in nature, as opposed to things like Wu Ming's transcendent precision of swordsmanship or Fei Xue's subtle command of air in Hero, or the wuxia flying that everyone in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon can do. To play either of those movies, I don't think you need a single Martial Arts Charm. The rest of my discussion hinges on this point.

Now, as it happens, the iconographic manipulation fu is, like Sorcery, universal in a limited way, and the Exalted with better symbolic manipulation abilities should logically be better at it. (I think this could be a good argument that DBs belong higher on the fu hierarchy than the Solars and Lunars, actually, and I think I'll examine the implications of that in my game.)

And yes, the symbolic fu is simply dripping with coolness. I think this is a fault of the writers not building enough coolness into the other Ability Charms (and a fault I have made many efforts to try and remedy...My Infernal Charms are a step in that direction, to be sure), and it's a major, major problem. Sidereal Charms, too, sizzle with cool, and it makes them look way more attractive than, say, Solar Charms, even though they tend to be dramatically restricted in applicability and effectiveness if you do a by-the-numbers comparison. If I'm looking for information, I would much rather "weave a thread of aquamarine mystery into my eyes" and have details joyfully leap out to reveal themselves to me than simply add a lot of dice to my pool, because the former is descriptively cool.

Now, I don't agree with DS in the broad applicability of MA. It seems clear to me that the martial aspect of MA is stressed, even in the most esoteric of the caconical SMA, the Citrine Poxes of Contagion Style. Look at it. The spiritual diseases the opening Charms inflict are profoundly harmful on a physical level, as is the disease of the Form. The upper-level immunity/healing effects are martial in the speed and kind of their applicability, and their limits (like the mote spending minimum of the Inner Dragon Unbinding) are tailored to combat use. The Essence-Shattering Typhoon is a weapon of mass destruction. Etc. If the Righteous Path of Flower Arrangement actually makes you better at arranging flowers, that should be an incidental benefit. (There are, clearly, styles like Ebon Shadow that fail this criterion. I think they're poorly designed. The ninja style in particular was identified by GCG as shameless fanservice; it's not a real MA.)

If you take fu as the whole of the supernatural capabilities of the Exalted, then it's clear that there is no problem - the Solars are still the top dogs. It just happens that something that's been written to be unbalanced in the realm of cool (but not mechanics, emphatically) is a Sidereal schtick - and the problem is not one of mechanics but of interpretation. That's what I think anyway, and I hope that people aren't actually having game issues because the martial artists are burgeoningly cooler than the other types, despite their mechanical limitations.

- willows

The problem I think most people have is that the interpretation is being skewed by what gets published vs. what is not - you see Essence 5-7 Martial Arts Charms by the score in Sidereals, but there haven't really been many canonical Solar (or whatever) Charms in that range (though maybe Abyssals has some tough stuff, I dunno). People have got it in their heads that Martial Arts overpower anything else, and hence Sidereals do the same, when in fact the versatility of MA is the one factor that offers some generalization to the otherwise-specialized Sidereals. There is no correcting this divergence of vision without reinforcing this balancing act, IMO. -- BillGarrett

Are Sidereals mechanically uber? Yes. They can do things with single charms that take Solars a handful and Lunars as much as an entire tree to duplicate- if they can at all. They are unexcelled at magic and fu, the two most versatile and powerful elements of the setting. And they are bloody rich and live in Heaven to top it off. And yet- are Sidreals themselves uber? ...Sort of. Sidreals who can get at all the things that make them uber do so by sacrificing their free will. They aren't really very good player characters in many games- they're much better villans. Even the Gold Faction is manipulative and untrustworthy; they've got power and resources, but if they get pinned down by a Circle of Exalts, younger Sidereals are done for. Older Sidereals are generally setting characters- ones designed to be more or less impervious to an individual storyline. In a Sidereal-oriented game, the Sidereals' power is commisserate with their responsibility. They'll be taking on those Circles of Exalts, guerilla (or gorilla) Lunars, and the occasional cat stuck in a tree (interfering with its fate as a mouse killer later in the afternoon).

Now, if you try and run a mixed game, and you have a 'backed' Sidereal rubbing elbows with a Solar, there are problems (Ronin Sidreal and Solars get along just fine). The Solar is advancing faster than the Sidereal, yet the Sidereal has massive resources and incredibly potent allies. Why are they working together? Who's in charge? If it's the Solar, why haven't the Sidreal's masters come for it (either faction)? If it's the Sidereal, why's the Solar still sticking around- isn't he frustrated at not being able to do what he wants?

In other words- the answer to the question is simultaniously "Yes" and "Not Applicable." Sidereals are much better at fighting Solars than Solars are, but Solars are much better at fighting gods than Sidereals are. Solars are also team players, whereas Sidereals- aren't. A Solar Circle can likely outmanuever and pin down a Sidereal, even one a few hundred years older, if they put some effort into it... and that's the whole point of big bads, isn't it? $.02 &Arafelis

I'm not sure this note is really about the "Are Sidereals Uuber?" question, but it does touch on some of what is said here and there is nowhere else to put it.

I do have a problem with the "Sidereals are Uuber Martial Artists" issue; I'm not going to argue weather they are or not - They are, unquestionably, just from the fact that there are available essence 6-7 Sidereal MA charms. Socially, their MA is Uuber, weather they mechanically are more uuber than some other splats or not.

This is not my problem. I don't care that they are ultra-devistating MA's because of the Ultra devistation. I certainly wouldn't care if that power is in the hands of the Solars, the Abyssals or the Lunars - all of whom could easily develope a equivalent level of power and I wouldn't bat an eye. They are Celestial exalts and, within their core theme, they should be that powerfull.

This is where my problem comes out. Martial arts is not the Sidereal Core Theme. It is a minor add on that they senselessly have Ultimate! Power! in for no reason other than to make them Celestial foes with a chance to do harm to other Celestial splats - Because their Core Mechanic is Broken. The Sidereal Core Sctichk is and has allways been astrology and fate manipulation. That is what their entire socieity is based around, that is what their core purpose is built around, and that is what their concept reeks off. From a themeatic, story telling standpoint, this is what the Sidereals should be best at - not only should they be the best at it, but it should be the thing they do best.

And it isnt. Their astrology and core concept charms are crippled as a whole, both with the lowest (starting) die adder cap, and hence, guideline for power, of any exalt splat - even GodBloods have a higher dice cap untill after essence 5! - and a static number of charms, unheard of in any other splat. The thing that makes the sidereal powers 'unique' mechanically also forces them to become something they are not, from a story tellers perspective, ment to be - 'ultimate martial arts badass' stands in for their core proficiency - because if their combat charms were built with the same guidlines their 'core' proficiency is, starting sidereals would be slaughtered by mid inheritance godbloods without much effort, and any exalt - even an outcaste dragonblood - would be wipeing the floor with much older sidereals faces. Does anyone else see this as wrong? Or am I just a lunatic? Gamlain

I suppose this is that always that pre-dates the core rule book. The lexicon of the core rule book, actually, wherein they are described as peerless martial artists.
Yep. That sure was a lame and unforeseen add on of the Siddies.
Plus, Impeding the Flow. Defense of Shining Joy. World Shaping Artistic Vision. Blinding the Boar. Their basic Brawl Charm negating parries and armor- making it singlehandily superior to any Solar Brawl Charm for actually /hitting/ the /target/.
No, one can make a solid case for the Siddies being broken at the Essence 2-3 level. I don't think they /are/, but the case can certainly be made. DS

Oh, They're probably can be played quite competently as is, and I'm hardly qualified to really rant about the mechanics - I won't, either, because it's really not the main point I was trying to make. I just don't like that 'Martial arts' Ursurps 'Chosen of the Stars' as their main point in their mechanics, but nowhere else. Its a thematic thing. Their entire 'flavor text' is about the power of astrology and mending fate, governing heaven etc, ...and then you have all their martial arts mastery sort of tacked on there. There is no appearent tradition to their 'thousands of years old tradition of martial arts'. They just have them, appearently for no other reason than so they can kick Solar ass - but the core of Sidereal power in mechanics terms is their martial arts. It's the thing they do best, by far. And that just doesn't seem to be right. If they were 'the chosen of the masters of wisdom and combat', it wouldn't bug me - but then they wouldn't be Sidereal. They'd be something else. Gamlain
On third thought, ignore this. I'm po'ed at something in reality and talking through that. Rational thought may return later. Or not. Gamlain

First of all, someone asked for the stats involved in Exalted die rolling. I'll put some up here: ExaltedStatistics. Ok, now let me make a few points:

-The Solar book was the first to come out, the Sidereal book was the last. Yeah, they made a few changes since then. Maybe its not that White Wolf made Sidereal charms too strong, maybe they made Solar charms too weak? I'd bet the second edition of the core book makes the Solar Brawl and Thrown trees much better, for example.

-Ok, now add Violet Bier back in. Imagine a Solar, maxed out with an Oralchum Daiklave, 5 Dex, 5 Melee, a 3 die speciality, and the both FLB and 5BS. Imagine a Sidereal with Perfection of the Visionary Warrior, the full Violet Bier Style, 5 MA, 5 Dex, a 3 die specialty, and a Starmetal Daiklave. The Sidereal puts up Perfection and BotBM. T he Solar puts up his two persistant defenses. When the Sidereal attacks, his 26 die attack is met by a 27 die automatic parry. (or 30, if you allow Dodge specialities for the Solar.) When the Solar attacks, his 17 die attack is met by a 13 die automatic parry. So far, all is equal. Except:

-the Sideral has already used his entire limit of die adders, and the Solar hasn't used any. - The Solar has used something like 12 Essence and 2 WP, while the Sidereal has used 30 something Essence, 3 WP, and a health level. (I'm just guessing, I don't have the books in front of me.) -The Sidereal has less health levels (b/c of their crappy Ox-Body) and less soak (because he's using Martial Arts charms.) -The Sidereal doesn't have damage doublers. So Yeah, the Sidereal' got a couple of cool tricks left. But I think that, unless he uses Avoidance Kata or Astrology, he's getting his ass kicked pretty bad.

While roughly accuracy, you frankly chose two abilities arbitrarily that don't go well together. If the Siddie stays in his core compentency...
Their Melee isn't any higher than Impeding the Flow. So they have a 3m Charm that can shut don't litterally any Solar Melee combo at the moment, except for one based on Blazing Solar Bolt (which is usually a pretty useless Charm).
They have the first TWO Performance Charms, taking them to Defense of Shining Joy.
So far, they've used 3 Charms to the Solar's 9.
This provides the Violet Bier up through the Pre-form Charms, for 4 Charms.
With the last, we'll throw in a World Shaping Artistic Vision 'Against Exalted', and Absence. There- now they both have 9 Charms.
The Solar has a 29 die persistant defense, and can make a 17 die attack. The Siddie has a 13 die persistant defense (against TN6, and so averaging 7.8 successes)- and can automatically parry anything that gets through that. If they're a Chosen of Serenity, they could alternatively add 3 successes instead by using Performance. They roll their Essence everytime an attack fails to hurt them, and regain that many motes. They have a 26 die attack vs that 29 die defense- but it's a TN6 attack, meaning an average of 15.6 successes attacks vs 14.5 defenses.
Yes, it takes the Siddie more motes to get going- but they can afford them and have the little bit of slack left over that they need.
How many more Charms do you wanna give the Solar to give them back a fighting chance? Do say 8- then I can get the Four Halo Golden Monkey Realignment, or whatever the pre-pinnacle Charm of the Celestial Monkey style is, and the fight's over. :) DS

-Of course, if the characters are just starting out, and the Sidereal has BotBM and the Solar has none of his persistant defenses, then yeah, the Solar is in rough shape. But starting Sidereals are supposed to be more powerful than starting Solars. Sidereals get welcomed into an ancient brotherhood of learning and wisdom. Solars get hunted by the Realm. It makes a difference.

-Finally, let me point something out. I think the designers wanted the different Celestials to be roughly equal, combat wise. They wouldn't make good antagonists otherwise. You'll note Lunars are also pretty near Solars in terms of combat power. But combat is just one thing. A Sidereal doesn't stand a chance againist a Solar in a marathon run or debating contest.

Wow, I typed way too much.


Errr... starting Sidereals are supposed to be more powerful than starting Solars? Not via their natural Charms, they aren't. I can buy that they should get social benefits (i.e., Backgrounds) that give them an upper hand, but Solar Charms should really be better than (or at least as good as) Sidereal Charms, and that is obviously debatable. - szilard

Something about Sidereals that always struck me as imbalanced wasn't the Charms, but the starting numbers. I have heard pretty often that Sidereal Charms seem better, but it's because they do transcendant bizarre things in very limited ways. I agree with that. Sidereals have a handful of powerful tricks, while Solars have general competency.

On the other hand, the Sidereal character creation scheme is really, really powerful. They get Attributes and Essence on a comparable level to a Solar, Skills and Backgrounds like a Dragon-Blood, a few powerful backgrounds which other character types would die for (I refer to Salary and Sifu), and more starting Charms than anyone else. They just get more dots of everything. That always seemed like the real thing that made Sidereals better, in my eyes. - TedPro

I think the idea is, the ablity dots represent their supernaturally cool first age training regimen. The balancing factors, such as they are, are A) One less starting health level, and a crappy Ox-Body Defense and B)slightly higher experience costs. (I don't remember the exact numbers, but their starting XP is roughly 10 to 25 percent less efficent that Solars.) That first one is pretty bad, especially when you consider they typically can't wear armor. You're probably right that those factors aren't quite enough to balance the extra ablity dots, but I cna't say because I havn't played-tested it yet. (has anyone, incidentally?) -MeiRen

Sidereals get 1 less starting health level? I can't find that anywhere... they get 7 + charms, from what I can see. I agree the ox body is not the most useful for them, but 7 is the same as any heroic mortal or solar exalt without an ox-body. Their choice of ability dots is even MORE restricted than a dragon-blood, but they still do get an awful lot.
-- Darloth

--Finally, let me point something out. I think the designers wanted the different Celestials to be roughly equal, combat wise. They wouldn't make good antagonists otherwise. You'll note Lunars are also pretty near Solars in terms of combat power. But combat is just one thing. A Sidereal doesn't stand a chance againist a Solar in a marathon run or debating contest.-- Yes, that is what I think to, the Celestials are equal in battle, and both the Sidereals/Lunars have a schtick, and the on the rest the Solars just rule supreme

See, people are complaining because they think sidereals are much -better- than solars at combat, not to mention lunars. That's one side of the argum... err... discussion, anyway. Also, you may want to log in and sign your comments. The 2nd is just polite/good practice because then we can see who did it (made the edit), but not logging in and setting a username means you leave your IP address all over recent changes.
-- Darloth

I think I'll hold off on this until, as many defenders of Sidereals say, higher-Essence charms are made for the other Exalt types. As soon as I'm certain that a Solar can actually have a trick at Essence 4 that matches Maw of Dripping Venom in brutal effectiveness, I'll be satisfied. As-is, however, once a Sidereal gets CMoS form - master of a Celestial martial art not exactly out of line for an Essence 5 Sidereal character - he's an obscenely good combatant. I don't mind that such potent Charms exist or that Sidereals can take them - it's just that I'm looking and EVERY SMA charm has a laundry list of potent effects, and can be reduced in cost with a sutra. If CMoS Form *only* granted additional actions and charm uses it would still be one of the best damn combat Charms ever. Fortunately for the Sidereals, it also grants them the effects of two previous charms, free of charge. Given that with student sutra, the Sid's spent 7 motes and 1 WP, he's not exactly squandering his Essence resources. I just think that the SMA charms each individually does too much - I'd almost suggest breaking them into mutliple cheaper Charms, which both aids the Sid in not flaring his anima AND puts to bed most of my concerns. ~ BerserkSeraph

Hi there! I have another view of argumentation that Sidereal charms are not that overly powerful. First, the ease of essence regeneration is important to keep their resplendent destinies. Secondly, I have given several of my Solar players free access to learn the Sidereal charms and use them at normal cost. At first, I thought I was crazy. Now, I am amazed how few charms they have choosen. -Clebo

I'm not that surprised...what Charms did they buy? - willows
Hi there! Well, one endurance charm, Optimistic Security Practice (a real killer for those with high compassion), and two larceny charms; Creation Smuggling Practices and Sidereal Shell Games. Other than that, it's all solar and martial arts charms. Clebo

vs. Solars

Toram: I found these postings by Rebecca on the RPGnet forums. Having read them, I now feel that I can more clearly see why I've generally been uncomfortable with the balance of many Sidereal charms; there were explicit design decisions made during their construction that I feel were ill-considered.

Here's why:

1. Sidereal charms were made more powerful to compensate for the fact that Sidereals cannot create custom charms.

This justification is lacking because there have never been any guidelines published for how to create and balance custom charms, especially at higher Essence levels. The power of custom charms is therefore going to vary widely between games. As Rebecca concludes at the end of her post, this is indeed broken.

2. Sidereal charms were made more powerful to compensate for the fact that Sidereals need to put up with the celestial bureaucracy.

This justification is lacking because the degree to which the bureaucracy is a hindrance is going to vary widely between games, and even within the same game as the world evolves. It is entirely possible that the celestial bureaucracy could be reformed or even disbanded during the course of a campaign - or it could just be something the Storyteller doesn't want to pay attention to. In either case, the effect is to throw the power balance of Sidereal charms out of whack. Forcing the Storyteller to run the bureaucracy a certain way in order to maintain the system's mechanical balance is an unnecessary restriction on the game's flexibility. The disadvantage of the bureaucracy is better compensated for by granting extra charms and backgrounds during character creation; these benefits can be far more easily adjusted if necessary.

3. "Powers like WSAV designed for kung fu fate agents rather than Kombat." (*)

This is simply poor design. Exalted is, in many cases, a combat-heavy game. If the designers know that a given power would be unbalanced if used in combat, it is their responsibility to limit the power so that it cannot be so easily abused. Powergamers will always find obscure combinations of powers that throw off the balance, but something this obvious should have been caught in playtesting.
(*) See comments for additional discussion.

4. Sidereal charms were made more powerful because the Solar charms were too weak, as published, and have needed to be buffed over time.

This is backward thinking; this Sidereal book is a companion to the original Solar one, and should be balanced to play in conjunction with it. As things stand, if the Storyteller doesn't want to use the Power Combat rules, the Sidereal charms become broken. Even with the Power Combat rules, many of the Solar charms are still showing their age, and need buffing (IMHO). This book should have given charms that balanced appropriately against the officially published Solar ones, and not against yet-to-be-published Exalted 2.0 ones.

Increasing the cost of Sidereal charms by 20% and nerfing WSAV as described would be one way to try to fix things. However, I'm not sure that it's the only badly broken charm (see Thus_Spake_Zaraborgstrom/TranscendentHatchetOfFate ) --Toram

Toram, at least one of your rebuttals is outright wrong. WSAV breaks in Exalted Kombat, a non-roleplay arena situation, where it is trivially easy to choose WSAVs that guarantee that you'll have a TN 4 on all your rolls. In real games, it is practiclly impossible to do this. - willows

Not necessarily. One (Gold) Sidereal in a game I'm in has (IIRC; MetalFatigue will correct me if I get this wrong) both "While helping Solar Exalted" and "While in front of her Students", as well as a third that I don't remember clearly. Since she was the Mentor of the PC Eclipse, her target numbers were down to 5 almost any time she showed up, and went to 4 on a number of occasions. I think the argument still holds that WSAV is a very powerful effect for a 2/2 charm with no prerequisites, that can be taken repeatedly. I do apologize for not catching the difference between Combat and Kombat, however that thread had over 400 messages, and I'm on a slow connection; I used a search to pull out just Rebecca's posts. --Toram
That's like saying that the Specialty system is broken because a character could take three Melee specialties in "armed combat" and have three more dice than other people. Sure, you could do it that way, but both examples rely on a Storyteller approving the condition. The Charm's text, combined with Rebecca's remarks on what an acceptable WSAV condition is, make it fairly clear that the condition breadth considered appropriate is dependent on the Storyteller (and the players, in most games, I'd wager). Your example sounds like a Solar game with a Sidereal NPC, and from the looks of it, that NPC has WSAVs that will pretty much automatically apply anytime she's in the game. If that's the case, that's just as bad an example of the Charm's power as Exalted Kombat is. Now, reducing TNs isn't as powerful as you think, IMHO. Remember that reducing TNs is basically what Sidereals do instead of add dice. They can't add 8-10 dice to their pool the way Lunars and Solars can. Yes, TN-reducers do have that cool "all dice win!" side-effect, when stacked, but that's very expensive. It seems to me that your complaints are based on uses of the Charm that don't jive with the text and intent of the Charm. - David.
Those are two WSAVs that only work for that fellow when he is on-screen. If he were a PC, the Charm would look a lot more balanced, because hanging out with Solar neophytes is not his only duty. Basically, Sid Charms are balanced, like all fatsplat Charms, for PC use! If you try to use NPCs to measure their balance, it is like trying to find the length of a piece of string using a pomegranate.
What's that you say? Measuring a piece of string with a pomegranate doesn't make any fucking sense? Sometimes life is perplexing. - willows
This may be another point of disagreement in charm/mechanic design philosophy. IMHO, charms are IC effects, and should be agnostic to OOC information, such as whether the user or target is a PC or an NPC. That's why it bothered me that one of Rebecca's justifications for THoF's effect said that a PC was ten times likelier to throw off their fate. Still, I'll acknowledge that WSAV could vary anywhere from "way too powerful" to "wimpy", depending on how broad or narrow a vision the Storyteller allows. --Toram
How do you propose that Charms be agnostic to the identity of their user? Isn't the way an ST uses a Charm always dramatically different from that of a player? I don't know anyone who accounts XP for NPCs, so that dramatically reduces the cost of using Charms that cost XP, for them. I don't suppose you'd want there to be two versions of a Charm, depending on the user, but since it is so obviously impossible to guarantee that a Charm is equally useful from either side of the GM screen, shouldn't you expect them to be consistently balanced for player use? (You could logically also expect them to be balanced for NPC use, but this would make the game less fun, methinks.) - willows
Parenthetically, all your complaints have been thoroughly rebutted in the rpgnet thread you are quoting, and i really don't feel like reproducing those arguments. Furthermore, I think it was somewhat poor netiquette on your part to drag such a tedious argument into yet another forum without thoroughly familiarising yourself with the full content of the argument in its original place. That can only breed duplicated discussion, redundant arguments, and bad blood on every side. - willows
For what it's worth, I don't go to the RPGNet boards, so this is the only place that I'm going to see this stuff. The issue involved does interest me, for a degree of separation (I don't play with the Siddies), so I don't mind it being reproduced at all. ~BerserkSeraph
Ditto for me. I only found the RPGNet discussion via a backlink posted to a WW forum discussion on THoF. I'm not a member on either of those forums, and I don't really have time to actively participate in more than one place...so this is my one and only outlet to post my own take on what Rebecca said (and I noted it as my opinion). You're free to disagree with me, of course, but resorting to invectives probably doesn't further the discussion. I did read all of RSB's posts on that thread before posting, and if I get the time, I'll try reading the couple hundred replies, but quoting very much non-ZaraXXX material here probably wouldn't be good either. It's also worth noting that I'm fairly close to agreeing with RSB's own analysis on discarding the "factors" she used; I just feel that actually discarding several of them would have improved the resulting product. --Toram
I may simply not see why these potential power differentials are necessarily broken. If an ST wants to run a game in which the Celestial Bureacracy isn't a significant limiting factor, Solar custom Charms are weak, and it's easy to bring your WSAV into play, they may do so, in the knowledge that it makes Sidereals more powerful than Solars of similar experience levels. Equally, if they wish to make the Celestial Bureaucracy a heavy burden, give most Solars two or three custom Charms which are more effective, in their areas of specialty, than any comparable general Solar or Sidereal Charm, and arrange situations where a WSAV of "against multiple targets" or "while wearing white" can't be used, they can do so, and know that their Sidereals may be less powerful than Solars. I'd rather have the system set up so that the factors can be played with in this manner than make power adjustments all take the form of "I want Solars to be more powerful, so I'll give them an extra (Willpower+2xEssence) in Peripheral Essence. Vargo Teras
The problem arises if I want to run a game without Power Combat, or with a weak bureaucracy, *without* making the Sidereals overpower the Solars. Because the Sidereal charms were made more generally powerful/efficient to compensate for these factors, I would then need to go back and nerf all the Sidereal trees, charm-by-charm. If they had instead only compensated for those factors by granting more stuff at character generation, it would be far easier to adjust. --Toram
I think that if you run a game with them you will find, as I did, that playing a game with a weak bureaucracy has the opposite effect you expect. That is, it makes Sidereals weaker, rather than more powerful, because many Sidereal Charms are much more useful in a bureaucratic setting than otherwise, and with their small Charm set, these form a significant organ of their strength. Also, with the exception of the Martial Arts, I am not under the impression that the combative Charms are significantly affected by PC. VBoS is another matter that has its own flamewar, though. - willows
"Pliant" or at least "non-obstructive" would have been a more accurate choice of word for my intent than "weak". I don't have my PG with me, but the Solar Brawl, Resistance, and Endurance (particularly Essence Gathering Temper) trees all had significant (and much needed) combat effectiveness buffs in Power Combat. --Toram
I run a game where the Celestial Bureaucracy has little to no actual effect on anything and Yu-Shan has only appeared in background miniscenes and as a motivational tool for one or two of the PCs. I have not found that this impacts the Charm Balance at all. Of course, I've had maybe...three activations of Sidereal Charms over the course of the entire game, which has run for two months. Despite that, there is no true balance issue between Sidereals and Solars. Especially not due to a single Charm. WSAV requires ST regulation. Obviously. So do HGD and Wyld-Shaping Technique. Requiring the ST to use common-bloody-sense is nothing new. Yes, if you allow a twinkish player utter freedom to buttrape the system, you have some power issues with a few Sidereal Charms. But the same applies for Lunar Charms and Dragon-Blooded Charms and Abyssal Charms and Solar Charms. You can't expect WW writers to design everything at the lowest possible level of ST/Player competence and intelligence. That would utterly ruin the game! Just accept that WSAV needs regulation. So do specialties. - Telgar
Toram, our more accurate choice of words accords with my experience anyway. As for Solar Charms being revised, that is neither here nor there; the Power Combat changes brought a weak Solar combat strategy in line with the other, more viable strategies (making the soak monster more competitive against the Invincible Sword Princess), rather than increasing the splat's ability as a whole. I don't think that a revision of one weak strategy, particularly one that all splats but one are more or less abysmal at, makes for a very convincing case that "before PC revisions, Sidereals are unilaterally better than Solars." In fact, in light of the fact that Sidereal soak strategies are simpy terrible, and all their other combat strategies come out of the gate weaker than Solars', I think that the Power Combat revisions broaden the already-existing gap between Solars and the inferior splats.
Try building a Solar and a Sidereal ISP, for instance, starting with heroic mortals and providing each with double persistents and Major Extra Action Beatdown, by buying these features with the same amount of XP. You will find that the Sidereal loses on both mote investment and motes free, has to buy up an extra Ability if she wants to be able to improve her dodges, and is down a Health Level for the Melee persistent, or needs to master a complete Martial Art for the Celestial Monkey one with a sword. On top of this, unless she buys into a second Style, she can't credibly add dice to her attacks!
So, unless you're making some point that I have overlooked? - willows
A little correction to myself, after discussing with Kraken - Precisely minimal ISP builds (stacked persistents and a credible attack or two) will favor the Sidereal in actual effectiveness, if not in mote efficiency, since Sidereal trees are so stubby. Even without their bureaucracy advantages, they get out of the gate a lot faster than Solars do. The Solar advantage appears later on, when they begin to sling 40-dice attacks casually, and accumulate a variety of powers that Sidereals can't compete with (holy atomic fire! ranged melee attacks!) without dipping into advanced, and extremely costly, MA (which makes them the unconventional Martial Arts ISP...hmm...).

Dammit!! Once again agreeing with willows. The Sidereals look powerful at first, but then we have to take into account the "Julia Roberts" effect sidereal Charms have of making the Sidereals a One Trick Pony. Ok the numbers (character creation stats) the Sidereals have are comparatively large but they need them. If you're playing a Solar you don't have to wait till you have a full tree to be effective Sidereal pretty much does. Also they have less Motes to power their effects, and their Foul-Up-Insurance A.K.A Ox Body Technique is terrible so they don't get second chances in a "real" fight. Worst of all they have almost no buffs or adders in their Charm set. Also as a solar you don't need any stinkin permission to use your top teir Charms. Their Charms are not what gives them (Sidereals) power I assure you. Continuing yes you could have all kinds of ridiulous WSAV (Days of the Week for instance) if it's allowed (and i'm the sick person who does, but more on this later), but that is just one charm and w/o persistants you're getting ended very early in a combat with a solar who is even semi-versed in combat(as i'm sure any DB will tell you). That being said Sidereals, if you look deeper into them are not more powerful just different. On a different note as an ST you have got to look for ways to challenge PC's they will not always be obvious. Like above I mentioned that I would allow a PC (who was brave or foolinsh enough) in one of my games to take the WSAV of "Days of the Week". Fine i'd say and plan for an attack at nite (it's not a day now is it), or in the Wyld (Aww day and Nite are creation based concepts), in Malfeas (oh I'm sorry it only works on the days that are in creation this unfortunately is something altogether different) or somwhere else. The point i'm trying to make here is that if you're the ST don't close yourself to the possiblities even if at first it looks daunting, or flawed it may be fun. Nothing is as powerful as it looks on the surface. - Issaru D&D Players with the Wish spell have twisted me in ways I don't even like to think about.

One Trick Pony? Sorry, Sidereals have more than a couple of tricks. As I understand it, they can't build on their existing body of Charms, except Sidereal MAs. This would be a great pity if MA couldn't do EVERYTHING, especially Sidereal MA. Sure, it might not do it as efficiently as a Solar's charm, but the Sidereal doesn't have to duck the Wyld Hunt once a week, nor rely on hazy half-memories of previous incarnations to think of his old charms. He just calls Chejop and spends a few weeks living the easy life before creating Chartreuse Shoehorning of New Charms Style. If their 'one trick' is Martial Arts, or fate-weaving, it's a hell of a single trick. I mean you could easily say that Solars have one trick - being excellent at mortal stuff - but I wouldn't call that a limit, exactly. Siddy Charms are written to be more powerful because of plot concerns and restrictions on their actions? Fine. Dandy. Where's my charm payoff for having to deal with the Wyld Hunt as a Solar? Or payoff for not being any good at Kung Fu (in a Kung Fu film!) for a Lunar? (And no, Being Able to Take DBT a half-dozen times isn't consolation; it's forcing any effecting Lunar into that one road of developement)
To rehash my THoF argument: Why should I have to make new Stuff to Keep Up with the Borgstroms? The splats should be balanced against one another, not against What The Writer Considers A Plot Concern. I don't play in RSB's games, so the Way She'd Do It isn't exactly a comfort. Just my bit of venom for today, sorry if it seems overblown- I don't like it when the people who are getting my money inform me that the burden of making their writing fit into their game system rests on me. ~ BerserkSeraph , as close as he gets to being snarky.

I'd like to also point out that the solar charm changes in the Player's Guide are not solely for Power Combat. They work extremely well with non-power combat, in many cases. Okay, there's a few which don't work or need shoehorning, but the straight upgrapes (hmm... may need to explain that term. Upgrade will do for now) are indeed appropriate and effective, and most of them do not need power combat to be in use to be applied to the solar charms.
-- Darloth

BS, Toram, whoever else is thinking about jumping in on this mess:

This is an argument where, like, experienced people who have used the Charms in games and know how they work have said "Sidereal charm brokenness is a huge illusion, folks."

And, as far as I can tell, the general response to this, from people who have not used the Charms in a real-game situation (not an artificial one like an isolated duel between monomaniacally optimized one-trick ponies), is "No! I am so confident from my reading of the Charms that this is not the case!"

Face it. Rebecca is a textual ninja! She makes you think things are true that are not true, and you are so convinced of them that you write lengthy essays asserting this! You have been taken in.

This is, like, bloody ridiculous. Please come back when you have an argument that has legs to stand on. - willows is so tired of this argument coming up again and again and again and again and again and again.

Willows, I'm willing to accept that you know what you're talking about, more so that I do. And yes, you're correct, you've got more experience with the system than I do. I don't appreciate being told that my opinion is valueless because I don't have the benefit of an active gaming group. If you can't accept that people who game less than you do might have any clue what the fuck they're talking about, stop posting - because it seems like you game more than pretty much everyone here, and nobody appreciates the 'mandate from on high' style of posting. It won't fly on a message board and god help me I won't let it sway me here. Use your experience to support your opinions, not to attempt to invalidate mine.
So please, please, I'm asking you to extend your oh-so-pressured-with-this-tedious-debate-with-the-ignorant-masses self, and tell me, in terms that you consider simple (Because I'm not that bright, being unable to sort through RSB's writing style and all) - Is 'only able to make new martial arts' really as much as a handicap as all that? It strikes me that Sidereal MA can do pretty much anything - CMoS offers shapechanging magic, superior maneuverability, soul-eating essence theft, mass-attack and solid defense (including defenses that penalize your attackers for having high initiative), extra actions... MAs can do a lot. I don't see the validity - admittedly from a nonexperienced standpoint - of the 'limited charms' excuse for raw charm power. ~ BerserkSeraph
I'm not really very concerned with the custom Charms debate; I dunno how that goes. What I do know is that, when they are actually in use for extended periods of time, Sidereal Charms are distressingly expensive and unreliable compared to those of any other splat, and this basically sucks for them. They really just aren't as good as they look like they are. - willows
See, that's a good response by my standards; thank you. It's all a learning process, for me - I'm just getting back into Exalted (I left the game as Lunars came out) and frankly, I'm still picking up the tenuous balance of everthing. I can see the expensiveness issue of Siddy charms, certainly (It strikes me as odd, by the way; you'd think they'd have moved towards 'more efficient' if only by considering the ways DBs use Essence) and their applicability is questionable (Shun the Smiling, for example...). My main interest was if the issues used to support the raw oomph (in those situations where they apply) of said Charms were really issues; they struck me as a bit overstated. I generally wouldn't accept the concern of anima flare as a balance factor for a Solar charm, for example - those things that inconvenience an Exalt are part of being that Exalt, they should no more offer a benefit than the presence of wound penalties ; if you screw up, you get murderized, and there's no payoff for that possibility. ~ BerserkSeraph
Arguments about relative experiences can go back and forth ad infinitum; there are too many possible permutations to be sure of any conclusion. The basis for my position is RSB's own statement that she designed the Sidereal charms to compensate the Sidereals for the aforementioned factors. If one discards or discounts one or more of those factors (as I do), the inevitable consequence given that premise is that the balance of the charms is wrong. For example, she explicitly set the Sidereal charm activation costs to balance against what she felt the Solar charm activation costs will end up being corrected to (perhaps in the next edition), rather than the Solar charms' currently official published values. I disagree with that decision. Other than drawing off RSB's statements of how she balanced the charms, IMHO, the only way to proceed would be to evaluate each charm individually, comparing it to published Solar and Lunar charms with equivalent prerequisites. That could take a while, and would open up other messy arguments, since the existing charms aren't consistently balanced themselves. --Toram
So, it occurs to me that each of Rebecca's defences boil down to one thing, "I wrote these Charms to precisely fit my understanding of the Exalted setting as imparted to me by our developer, including but not limited to the value of custom Charms, the weight of bureaucratic responsibility, and my expectation that these Charms will be used in a sensible manner." Frankly, I think that if you reject these premises, you are rejecting the setting, in which case I don't think that you can really argue that anything should be one way or another. - willows
To be fair, that doesn't strike me as precisely true. She also seems to be making assumptions about Solar Charms showing their age and the lack or existence of unwritten high-essence Solar Charms. While these assumptions might be based on information given to her by the developer, it is not clearly justified by information to which consumers have ready access. That is, whether or not this is part of the setting as imagined by the developer and writer, this stuff isn't all part of the setting as written, and the readers are not all telepaths. -szilard
Just so. I'm not so much rejecting the setting as attempting to maintain the freedom to vary it; and it will vary from game to game and ST to ST, unless the ST is RSB. Tying the power level of the Sidereal charm set to particular details of the setting puts the onus on the ST to run those aspects of the setting the way RSB envisioned them, or else risk breaking game balance. It might not break in every game, but it makes the system more likely to break, and that just makes it a bad idea in general. I guess the axiom I'm espousing could be summed up as:
It is a bad idea to tie a game system's core mechanical balance to aspects of the setting that might not be consistent across different games and Storytellers. --Toram

I think, by your axiom, the Solars book is more problematic than the Sidereals book, as it is mechanically balanced with custom Charms taken into account, and absolutely no provision is given for the workings of those, while the Sidereals book is balanced aagainst a bureaucracy, which is described in at least some detail. It is not ignored! By this effort, it works to reduce the amount of variation across Storytellers (unless they are deliberately contravening canon, in which case you can just throw setting-based balance out the window). - willows
One thing about this whole line of thinking that bugs me is that it is balancing the mechanical effects of Charms to the restrictions of the bureaucracy to which the Charm users must, in general, conform . I could argue that due to Arcane Fate and ridiculously powerful Stealth Charms, the bureaucracy really only presents a minor obstacle in many cases, but that is really besides the point. Sidereals were created as Celestial Exalts, comparable in power to the Lunars, more powerful than the Terrestrials, and less powerful than the Solars. When this was done, it wasn't (I would expect) done with the thought that Sidereals would be tied to a bureaucracy and, thus, would need more powerful Charms. If that were the case, they wouldn't have been created as less powerful than Solars - they'd have been created as equal to (or more powerful than) them, but limited by a bureaucracy. If there is a social limitation on them, it is probably better to balance it with a a similar not-strictly-mechanical benefit and make a note to Storytellers that these things balance each other. What was done strikes me as poor design at the point of intersection between setting and mechanics. -szilard
I think you are drawing an illusory distinction here, between mechanics and setting. Both things limit or expand the ways that a player can affect events in the imaginary world! Hell, a Charm is not just a mechanical widget. It's a part of the setting! When a Sidereal tames Charybdis and then throws a sheet of yellow paper in her mouth, causing her to explode, savants say, "Hrm! The Five Ordeals Odyssey!" Denying that these things are the same thing (or, if you want to be concervative about it, that they interact and have profound effects on one another) is foolishly denying yourself many good solutions to design problems. Certainly, designing mechanics that work with a particular setting in mind put the onus on the ST to run a game in that setting, but no more than designing mechanics with other mechanics in mind put the onus on the ST to run a game using those mechanics, and no one complains about the latter. Complaining about the former is equally nonsensical. - willows
I'll agree that the distinction between mechanics and setting isn't a bright line. Allow me to restate my position as being bothered by the fact that the social circumstances in which Sidereals tend to currently be found are used to balance their innate power. According to the setting, the innate power of Sidereals should be weaker than that of the Solars. RSB, however, seems to have balanced this as (the innate power of the Sidereals - the social limitations of the Sidereals) < the innate power of the Solars. That strikes me as wrong. Let's say that there is an alternate setting in which the Celestial Bureaucracy gives the Sidereals as much freedom as they wish. Would this necessitate a change in their Charms to balance them? That seems really strange. -szilard
There is a fundamental difference between mechanics and setting; mechanics are a finite set of rules that are (relatively) constant within and between games. Setting, on the other hand, is infinite, and is expected to vary significantly. When a ST changes the mechanics, it's usually done carefully, and clearly documented as house rules. OTOH, almost nobody bothers to document all the ways that their setting differs from canon, and it'd be futile to try, since no ST is going to have exactly the same understanding of the world as the designers, and in any event the world diverges from canon with every action the PCs take. When the designers make the mechanical balance sensitive to setting details, they require each ST to re-evaluate that balance in light of the details of their own setting. If the mechanics are balanced within themselves, it gives the ST a lot more freedom to play with the setting without the risk of jeopardizing the game balance. --Toram
You call matters of presentation and implementation fundamental. I do not agree. - willows
I'll add one additional distinction: Setting details are IC constructs. Game mechanics are OOC constructs. If that's not fundamental enough, we can agree to disagree.  :-) --Toram
Are you familiar with My Love For You Is Way Out Of Line? - willows
I wasn't, but a quick Google shows it to be an attempt to build a game that breaks as many 'rules' of good design as possible. Why? --Toram
I have made substantial changes to canon in the games I run. I've played in games with substantial changes to canon. In both situations, I have had no difficulty at all with Sidereal power levels. When you actually PLAY with the Charms, it quickly becomes clear just how fucking ANNOYING using MAs for "everything" is. And how limiting the Sidereal Charm Set is. - Telgar
Especially the solar ones. Or, indeed, the lunar ones. Maybe we should do the reverse? I mean, I know it would take over twice as long (maybe three times as long) but would you be happier with the charm set that resulted, that's the question? It's certainly the approach I'm taking, albeit slowly.
-- Darloth
That's certainly something that I hope happens before Exalted Revised/2nd Ed comes out. When the fatsplats get written, each by different authors, over the span of so many years, it's really hard to make sure that charms and other effects are properly balanced between different books. Somebody needs to sit down and really take a long look at all the published charms, from all the books, and come up with a consistant metasystem for balancing them. Of course, there'll be oddball charms that don't "fit" properly, but those can be case-by-cased. Publishing this metasystem would also greatly help the custom charm issue. --Toram

Just to clarify something, earlier Rebecca gets summarized as saying -

"Sidereal charms were made more powerful to compensate for the fact that Sidereals need to put up with the celestial bureaucracy."

However, this isn't what she's saying. What she literally says is -

"If Sidereals didn't have to participate in the Bureaucracy, then their character creation rules would be "ronin, plus astrology."

Now, she IS making a reference to sidereal charms, but this particular line has to do with the number of charms Sidereals start out with, not how powerful they are. This is in the greater context of the original thread where people are comparing the relative power of builds given character creation rules plus X extra xp.

To be fair, later in the P.S. section, she starts talking, fairly broad stroke, about the advantages given to Sidereals in exchange for bureaucracy. While 'advantages = more powerful charms than they would have had' is a fair reading of this, I'm not convinced that advantages doesn't = more starting charms, better backgrounds compared to Solars, easier access to martial arts and sorcery tutors, etc. Either way, the big picture of her post isn't so much 'due to bureaucracy, Sidereals get X boost in power', and more of a 'due to numerous factors of which bureaucracy is but one, Sidereals get X boost in power'.

While, I know a lot of people have said they don't have time to be active on several boards, I would still recommend checking this thread out:


Just reading through it doesn't commit you to participating in the rest of the site and if you're interested in this topic, a number of issues get hashed out. It also provides the context that is somewhat otherwise missing from which people are being quoted from.

As a final aside, it might be profitable to create a separate discussion about whether or not one should balance setting against mechanics as this seems to come up, not just with Sidereal discussions, but also in the 'There are too many Mountain Folk vs Various setting factors make this a non-issue balance wise' discussions. I also think this colors a lot of discussions over the balance of various charms. -YuuChanClan

That's some good insight, YCC. And, if RSB did, in fact, limit her 'balancing' for the bureaucracy to adding more starting traits, I'd withdraw my objections to that point. However, I would still take issue with using lack of custom charms as a factor when there aren't any published guidelines for it, as well as with using 'Solar charms are old' as a factor (until Solars 2nd Ed. actually comes out). I'm on the fence on the WSAV issue; if the ST forces it to be fairly narrow and rarely combat-applicable (especially multiple times), it could be reasonable. However, the way she said "Powers like WSAV [are] designed for kung fu fate agents rather than Kombat." makes me worry that she didn't really consider the possibility that the charms she wrote could become unbalanced in a game that diverged from her concept of how the Sidereals "should" be played. --Toram
It's not her concept, though. She's following the outline developed for the game. If you're diverging from canon in such a way that Sidereals can now almost universally benefit from some specific application of WSAV, then you should probably change that Charm. If your Sidereals are as embroiled with the responsibilities of the Celestial Bureaucracy as they are in canon, then some brash upstart with combat specialties will be severely limiting his professional advancement in anything but the exceedingly rare militaristic subcommittees. That's just the way the setting works, and the Charms are an extension of that. _Wohksworth
Refer back to my earlier statements on why I believe charm mechanics should not be tied to the setting, precisely because it forces STs to house-rule charms. As YuuChanClan suggested, this might be worth breaking into its own discussion topic. --Toram
Games that have built-in settings have no responsibility to take account for players that want to play in divergent settings. - willows
Is that the point? Consider two points: (1) The Exalted setting is enormous, and includes a wide variety of sub-settings, many of which violate overarching setting rules (imagine a Sidereal game that focuses upon a team of Sidereals that deal with things primarily outside of Creation and Yu-Shan, spending most of their time in the Underworld / Wyld / Malfeas / whatever - should such a game be supported under the current rules? I think so. Is it? Maybe.) and, more importantly, (2) The Exalted PCs are expected/encouraged to break the setting. A game in which the PCs change the fundamental nature of the Celestial bureaucracy is utterly reasonable. Thus mechanics should, ideally, not be balanced with a setting limitation that is potentially transient. -szilard
I cannot imagine a scenario where breaking down the CB would be beneficial to Sidereals. As I have said previously, it's not a balancing factor against them, it's a crutch. - willows
Whether beneficial or detrimental, the change shouldn't fundamentally break the balance of the game. --Toram
I didn't mention breaking down the CB. I mentioned changing its fundamental nature. A game that encourages the PCs to fundamentally change the setting ought not to depend upon stasis in certain setting elements for mechanical game balance. Now, I should note that I don't necessarily know that the Sidereal book does so depend. I haven't been convinced either way, though I do have a gut feeling that hasn't been discouraged through play that something is out of whack. If it does, though, I think it is a problem. -szilard
Every setting diverges from canon the instant the first PC takes their first action. Even before that, if you consider that any non-designer ST is going to put their own spin on things. That divergence will only grow as the campaign matures. If the above assertion is taken to its logical extreme, game balance would therefore be assumed a lost cause from the outset. Taken at a more moderate value, there has to be some kind of line, beyond which the mechanics lose their validity. The more coupled the mechanics are to the setting, the closer that line gets, and the more brittle the system becomes in the face of setting changes. Since PC actions can and do cause setting changes, I consider this undesirable. --Toram
This discussion has gone far into the rarefied airs of setting~mechanics theory. (I don't think I agree with the conclusion you draw from the premises I set out.) To bring it back from afield, I do not think that removing or changing parts of the setting will have enough of an effect on the relative strengths of Exalted types to say that "Sidereals outstrip Solars in ability," unless some of these setting changes are coupled with mechanical changes like, "Now Sidereals are able to create and customise Charms and Solars are not. Furthermore, the CB is so wealthy and influential that Sidereals have the Dragonblooded version of the Artifact Background."
In Charlequin's words, "Unencumbered of all setting limitations, are Sidereals equivalently powerful to Solars?" I think the answer is clearly no, just as it is for every other splat.
At any rate, I think that you can easily interpret the brittleness of the mechanics in the face of change as a feature, not a bug. The Exalted are out to change the world, and when they do, you should notice. - willows
I really think that having the setting balance some things is a vital part of any game. This may not be really understandable to some people, but those who know Shadowrun have probably heard of the Panther Assault cannon. Available to any starting character that takes the equivalent of 2 dots of resources. Iflicts massive painful damage on many things. By the mechanics it is a completely broken weapon. However, due to the setting it is a very inpractical weapon. It is large and nearly impossible to conceal. It is a military grade weapon, and any response from the police will be a military grade response. It is a very dangerous weapon to carry, and almost certain to result in any character using it in the standard setting being dead very soon. Even in a military campaign it makes for a large target. Hit the big guy with the cannon!!!
It is the same way with Sidereals. If you let your players get away with the minimum required abilities constantly heap on them that they are the low class barely passing Sidereals. They are the ones that graduated with a "D" average. Sidereals by their nature have to be well rounded. If someone makes the typical "I am a stealth assassin" sid ninja type, constantly hit them with the downsides of not keeping up on their other studies. Sidereals are forced to be well rounded. They may require more ST involvement than other Exalt types, but how many other games let you play the agents of fate itself? And actually do it with some semblance of balance. Come to think of it though, most of the Sidereal's power comes from setting as well. They just know more than anyone else.
          Two cents on the stack soon to be worth a million Jaelra
Is the panther really at or below avail 8? **checks** Hmm, no, avail 16, so it's not exactly available at character creation. However, your point is still valid, and I agree with much of it.
-- Darloth

I seem to have a problems with letting sleeping Behemoths lie. My question isn't about the relative power of Sidereals versus other Celestials. I can accept that R. Borgstrom is smarter than I am, and is very, very tricky when it comes to Charm design. My only question is, might not VBoS be broken when used by other Celestial Exalted? I'm more-or-less okay with Rebecca's explanation for the Form as it applies to Sidereals, but can anyone make the case for allowing, say, a Solar Melee-user to pick it up and wreak all kinds of bloody havoc? - DigitalSentience

Can you be more more explicit about what you're getting at here? My first reaction is, "Melee and MA don't actually interact so I don't see how this is a problem." - willows
Sorry. Blade of the Battle Maiden, specifically, is what I was referring to. - DigitalSentience
Since you can (by canon) use a daiklave with VBoS, and therefore use scene-longs from both (FFBulwark from melee, and then you attack with VBoS charms or something) I would dispute the fact that this MA doesn't interact at least a bit with melee. I also agree wholeheartedly with any opinions that as a celestial level MA (not as a sidereal charm tree) VBoS is broken, in at least one but possibly more places.
-- Darloth
Yeah, that seemed the easiest way to deal with it. I think I'd say that, basically, VBoS isn't a Celestial Martial Art in the normal sense, but rather Charms given to the Sidereals by the Maidens like any other, and thus Sidereal-specific. And then I'd still probably feel inclined to do something about BotBM, because, y'know... Eclipses... - DigitalSentience
More elaborately, BotBM doesn't care what your Melee parry is doing; it adds dice to MA actions. - w
I... see. Well, that... um... okay, I don't have the book in front of me, but isn't there something about VBoS Style that potentially makes it obscenely powerful when combined with other Exalts and their Charms? - DigitalSentience
No, not particularly. Joy in Adversity Stance, maybe, if Power Combat had not made Essence-Gathering Temper so much more ungodly gross (assumedly because temporary Essence mote flucuation is more important to retooled combat strategies). Anyways, I can easily see a Solar Melee version of BotBM--maybe more efficient with a smaller cap--as each extra die is only so much more useful in high Experience combat, really. One last thing for Sidereals, though: I don't remember any quick way for them to regain Willpower in their Charm set--that 2 Willpower cost for BotBM is a killer. _Wohksworth
*shrug* Works for me. Thanks for setting me straight. - DigitalSentience
Darloth, you are aware that only four canon MAs don't interact with Melee in this way, right? - David.
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