Discussions/BreakingThe4thWall

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So this dude was asking, "suppose they you were going to make a Solar-oriented advanced Martial Arts style, as unlikely as that seems. What would you do with it?" And I was like, "Well, I'd look at core Solar competencies (perfection, independence of tools and others, doing things really well) and extend them ad nauseam. You could do things like:

  • Feeding off independence abilities like Glorious Solar Sabre and Craftsman Needs No Tools, make Essence attacks that you don't have to more to perform.
  • Building on doing stuff really well, take quality multipliers like Hungry Tiger, and make the multiplier parametric - instead of doubling attack successes, multiply them by your Essence!
  • Taking a card from the many ways to do something perfectly, posit superior perfections, attacks that can only be negated by perfect defences performed by an Exalt of superior Essence.

Someone objected to this last, saying it "broke the fourth wall of Charm design." I took that to mean that it broke some unwritten law... what things aren't kosher for you when you're designing Charms? - FourWillowsWeeping


Bah, the fourth wall can bite my shiny metal ***. In my estimation, if you make a Charm that is "Perfect, except against beings of superior Essence", it is not more perfect. It is less perfect, because there is an out. I recommend you fondly tell this Someone that they're a banana-loving monkey boy.  :-D

There are plenty of ways to make an advanced Solar Martial Art. I have a few concepts on my notepad at home, in fact. One allows the Solar to focus the support of nations into spiritual reinforcement, while another, simpler style just leads to a Perfect synergy between man and weapon. In the interests of exploring the concept of subPerfect Charms, I would go so far as to recommend that advanced Solar Martial Arts include subPerfects instead of Perfects at all times. Bear in mind, anyone can later learn the Style, after all. - Balthasar

I'd agree with Balth, but for an entirely different reason. Essence isn't a fuzzy out-of-game mechanic. It exists in setting. People know about it and discuss it. Mind you, probally not in such discrete terms- but it exists. It's spirtual strength, fortitude and power all rolled into a shiny ball. Saying a Charm only effects targets with a lower Essence than you is perfectly reasonable.

OTOH, I'd disagree with starting the Perfection Arms Race- which is what you inevitibly get when you start having 'My Perfect is More Perfect than Your Perfect'. Defense trumped offense. Let it be.

I'd also disagree with the idea of a Solar Secret Style MA. The Solars can do EVERYTHING well. They might invent a really cool, Essence 5 or 6 minimum MA, but they have equal proficiency in every other Ability. Whereas the Five Score Companions had nothing better to do than twiddle their thumbs after mastering every other Charm. They also had the added incentive of MAs not being limited by something's fatedness- they've had a VERY GOOD REASON to master MAs beyond all reason, whereas the Solars haven't. - DariusSolluman

As far as I'm concerned, the only nonos are building a charm that is just like another charm only better, and a MA charm that does something just as well and efficiently as an ability charm. For example, MA should not have a balancing charm as cheap or effective as Graceful Crane Stance. It might cost more, or be turn-length, or be Simple instead of Reflexive, or some combination of the above.

Breaking the fourth wall would be... if a charm forced the player to cluck like a chicken for 5 minutes, or forced the player of the target to order pizza. Or something ridiculous like that. So I don't consider that to be a fourth wall issue.

However, the idea of a perfect attack which negated perfect defenses of lower essence targets - I'd say that was against the rules. HGD is a perfect defense - even from the likes of a Primordial. Without such abilities, the characters would not be able to face the challenges they are meant to face. But that is just my opinion and if it doesn't break the game for you, then go for it. - Shoggoth

I'd disagree with the idea too - it doesn't jive with the setting at all. That doesn't have anything to do, though, with "off-limits" mechanics... I see a good argument for not starting the Perfection Race, but I also see a good argument for saying, "But it exists!" Observe the myriad of Charm attacks that simply cannot be defended against in one way or another, or the number of tricks that are so terrifying, they state explicitly that they can be defended, but only by perfect effects that can block anything.

As far as Perfects go, I'm of the opinion that all perfection is relative; you could have a permanent Charm called, say, The Final Lesson, that you could learn in any tree and once you learn it you can never learn a new Charm of that Ability, but it triples your successes on any roll of that Ability, or makes them all come up tens! Is the cost of such quality justified, or too little? If you have an attack that rolls sixty successes because of it, it could still be blocked by a defense with perfect qualities (in this case, even Impeding the Flow would apply), but no mortal defense could touch it. Is that stepping over the line? When do Charms become "broken and uncool" because they're too effective? - FourWillowsWeeping

Those myriad of Charms which cannot be defended against are matched by those Charms which can defend against them. In canon exalted, there are unmovable objects, but no unstoppable forces. HGD shuts down any attack, end of line.

I don't think you can get too powerful with simple application of more successes (prereqs and cost debatable). But breaking the Perfect Defense is a far more fundamental change to the game, and not one that I would personally enjoy. It would quickly reduce combat to 'get initative - unleash ULTIMATE COMBO OF DEATH'. - DariusSolluman

Just thought I'd mention; I've posted a Melee Charm that's somewhat relevant to this discussion, in that it requires some very unusual perfections to deal with. Was wondering what y'all thought of it. - FourWillowsWeeping

A thought strikes me that.. well. What about a charm that screws with the cost of a perfect defence? Does that break the fourth wall? If I create a supplemental melee charm.. 'Any time a perfect defence is used to block this attack, the willpower cost of the perfect defence increases by 1 for the rest of the scene.' I would say /no/, as Im' not /directly/ breaking the 'cannot break a perfect defence' rule, but... - Molikai

Not directly. But it skirts close. The question then becomes, "if we can justify THIS Charm, can we justify follow-up Charms that gradually drive the cost of a perfect defense up past the point where anyone can USE one?" Because if you allow such Charms, you effectively have defeated a perfect defense. You just haven't done it in the conventional fashion. And if you don't, you need to explain just where the line gets drawn. -- BillGarrett
Perfect defenses should be breakable in lots of ways as long as the ways aren't about sheer power. In my opinion, I would welcome such a charm (although only with a willpower cost) and probably in either a MA tree or lore/occult. It's going to be high-essence as well, and at that level of essence, people are going to be using things OTHER than the bog-standard perfect defenses, and throwing around things like "I block perfectly for the turn" which may have already been activated before you attacked, or simply have hanging perfects that aren't charms anyway, and so presumably wouldn't be affected. It all depends on the wording of the charm in question, and people's opinions of it.
-- Darloth
This is the reason I don't object to things like Charm Redirection Technique or the whateveritis in Hungry Ghost that does something similar to Charm costs - but there's a specific reason in this case, and that is that such Charms say "I screw with THIS perfect defense, not with ANY perfect defense for the whole scene". The Hungry Ghost Charm in question just drives up the Essence cost, and even the SMA Charm-killing Charms give the defender a chance to re-activate his Charm at the same cost. If you have a single Charm that can interfere with a perfect defense, it should only interfere with that one invocation of the defense. -- BillGarrett
Even then... HGD is unbreakable. It is an immovable object. I mean, a Yozi can't batter down HGD with sheer force. So I don't like an "I f*** this perfect defense" Charm, even if it is just for one invocation. To get around perfects you gotta... mess with the Essence flows of the Charm (which is applicable to other Charms), make attacks that are "perfectly hidden" (i.e. the user counts as unaware every time), or do some other sneaky thing. You can't just say "I f*** this perfect defense." -- OhJames
Well sure. And the examples I mentioned all specifically interfere with Essence flows, rather than the end-result of a Charm activation, as you can see. So we're in agreement. :) By "interfere with a perfect defense", to be clear, I mean "interfere with the total process of activating and using said Charm". This is a broad category and includes things like disarming an HGD user, draining Willpower or Essence via some other effect before HGD and friends can be activated, and whatever else can do the trick. A sufficiently experienced or powerful Exalt can counteract all these things, which I believe is the important point. -- BillGarrett

The "fourth wall," as I understand it, refers to in-character knowledge. Taking that meaning of it, I'd like to share that I believe martial arts, spells, etc. should always be created by somebody in the game world for some reason according to the character. Thus, it would be entirely reasonable for a Solar lord in the First Age and his Sidereal advisors to perform a thought experiment on how far they could push the limits of Solar perfection through martial arts. With that premise, or a similar one (say, the Cult of the Illuminated looking for something they can use to perform a coup on the Realm and reinstate the First Age through the power of the Solars), the ideas you had for your style would be perfectly legitimate to my mind.

As far as what's kosher for charm design, I refer back to the Golden Rule of White Wolf games: think of the story. Since I believe all charms and spells and so on need a context, I believe that the context should also be the source of any determination of the correctness of the function of any of these things. - IanPrice

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