Discussions/ComboPeculiarities

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Okay, maybe this is the sort of thing I should take to the forum, but I hate the forum, because it's nearly impossible to track what's been updated recently. So I'm asking here.

My players are all clamoring for me to house-rule the cost of comboes so that you don't have to buy the entire thing over again just to add a Reflexive Charm (whose use is optional anyway). It seems like a reasonable thing to do, as far as I can see, but when I see a rule that looks completely stupid on its face, I tend to wonder if there's a good reason for it that I'm just failing to see.

So, my question is: Why do you have to pay the entire XP cost of a Combo over again to add a Charm to it? What purpose does that serve?

--MF

Just to be clear, this is only a question of adding reflexive charms. The current rules are such that if a Solar purchases a combo, and then wishes to add a reflexive charm to the combo, they must repurchase the whole combo. This renders the original combo completely obsolete; since use of comboed reflexives is optional, the new combo provides all the capabilities of the old one, and more. The XP spent on the original combo are thus "wasted".

The effect of this is to strongly discourage players from purchasing a combo until they have all of the reflexive charms they might ever want to put in it. As a result, our group is now at 210 XP, and only one (small) combo has been purchased. If combos were upgradable (even to this limited extent), we would be less worried that we might later come to regret buying them, and more likely to go ahead and try them out.

--Toram (One of the aforementioned clamoring players)

One alternative you could provide would be that you can put Reflexives (and no other Charms) into a Combo even if you don't know them. I don't know of any principled reason the devs have provided that you shouldn't be able to upgrade Combos. - willows

If I understand your suggestion, it's pretty much the same as the Dragon Blood ability (making reflexives exempt from the 1-charm/turn limit). I don't know if I'd want to go quite that far; it deprives the DBs of one of their few unique advantages. --Toram

I was unclear, but my idea was overcomplicated. Here's another. "You can only use one Charm per turn, unless you use a Combo. If you use a Combo, then you can use any Reflexives you like, as well as the Charms that are actually in the Combo." This means that you have to use a Combo (and spend WP) to use more than one Charm a turn, but Reflexives aren't part of the Combo system - willows

I like it, although it still grants other Exalts some of the combat flexibility previously enjoyed only by DBs. Whether it does so to an unbalancing extent is left as an exercise for the Storyteller.  :-) --Toram

I just allow characters of all stripes to 'buy back' combos. Just note how much XP it cost, and if the player wants to upgrade it later he spends a bit of downtime 'changing his fighting stance' so that he has the xp available for other combos (and only combos). He then learns the combo as normal. This is effectively a way of upgrading or completely changing combos, and encourages both 'adding in reflexives' and buying combos that you know you won't need later on in the game. -- CrownedSun

I simply allow my players to add Charms to a Combo, if they pay the difference in cost. I don't allow them to remove Charms though. It seems to work fine. I do of course require the Combo visual to mutate slightly when the change is made. ^_^ -- BrokenShade

CrownedSun, BrokenShade, I like both your ideas. (Willows, yours is clever, but I think it infringes too much on the DBs' schtick for my taste.) I'm going to wait a little while longer, though, to see if anyone can come up with a justification for the rules as they stand, which was what I was originally looking for in this discussion. --MF

I really don't think there is one. - w

the question of customizable combos vs non-customizable is much like the speedbump Charm discussion. do the earlier ones become obsolete? i personally plan (when i start my long-awaited exalted game) to allow characters to add in Charms to existing combos by spending twice the normal xp cost (for example, adding heavenly guardian defense costs 8 xp instead of the 4 xp it would to the cost if it had been included in the original) i like the idea of modifying and perfecting your supermoves by putting forth extra effort. - notsoangrydave

Hi there! I like CrownedSun's version very much. However, are there any limitations to this? I mean, would you allow a player to buy back a thrown combo, only to use said XP to develop a melee combo? I suspect that there is something that limits this. For instance, one can allow this buy back for adding and removing one charm. Also, I'd like my players to develop small combos very early, even though they become less important asthe PCs grow. -Clebo

I've talked with Toram a bit, and he convinced me that CrownedSun's approach creates continuity hiccups (The PC doesn't know the old Combo any more! What happened to it?), so I've simply allowed the addition of Reflexive Charms to Comboes for only the cost of the Charm(s) being added. I'm probably also going to grant a discount for Comboes that are similar to (i.e., contain a set of Charms overlapping with) an existing Combo. Thanks to everyone for helping me resolve this issue in my campaign. --MF

MF, that discount idea sounds very interesting. How are you working it? Something along the lines of
- If you already have a particular Charm (e.g. DSD) in a Combo (e.g. DSD + ES), and
- You buy a new Combo that includes that Charm (e.g. DSD + SOW), then
- You only pay half the usual cost for including that Charm in the Combo (DSD half price, SOW full price)
BrokenShade

I suspect that it's going to take a bit to work out the mechanics. The case I'm particularly concerned about is that of a player spending (for example) 15 XP for a nasty extra-action attack combo, and then later learning a Supplemental charm like "Spirit Cutting Attack". By the book, the character needs to buy an entirely new combo for 18 XP, despite the fact that the only extra utility they get from it is the ability to use it to hit spirits. The easiest way that occurs to me is to allow the character to pay some amount of extra XP to make the use of a charm in a combo optional, and then allowing such charms to be added to existing combos. This preserves continuity (as the player can still throw the combo at the original strength), and permits the characters to purchase some flexibility in their combos, without making them buy a combinatorically expanding number of variants. Perhaps this should be limited to only supplemental charms, and the character should certainly have to have good visual descriptions written for all the variations. ("And if I use the optional Ghost-Eating-Technique booster, the crimson orbs of light surrounding my fists gain dark vortexes in their centers as they drain away my enemy's Essence in sparks of gold")

 --Toram

How about they can repurchase the combo at 1 xp per original charm + full cost for any additional charms? So if they want to add Spirit Cutting Attack to a 4-charm melee combo, they pay 4 + normal cost for SCA, and they now have both combos available. -Fifth

That sounded good at first glance, but then I delved a bit deeper, and realized that it would cause buying the same set of combos to cost different amounts, depending on the order in which they were purchased. I think it's probably better to avoid that.

 --Toram

For balance reasons, or to prevent twinkery? -Fifth

Ok, how about something very similar to what Fifth suggested, which does work out to the same XP cost no matter the order of purchase: If you already have a particular Charm in a Combo, it only costs 1 XP to build that Charm into another Combo. No matter the order you take the Combos in, the total XP cost across all Combos is
The sum of
For each Charm that exists in at least one Combo
The normal cost of including that Charm in a Combo, plus
The number of (Combos that include that Charm) minus one

--BrokenShade

Fifth: I'll answer your last question. Because Toram and I are both computer programmers, and we feel it to be inelegant. :)
BrokenShade: That looks very good, but I want to run the numbers (and don't know when I'll have the time...).
-- MF

BrokenShade: That still doesn't remove the combinatorical explosion in cost, though. If a character has a combo with a Simple, three Supplementals, and three Reflexives, and wants to be able to choose not to use any or all of the Supplementals, under your proposed system they would need to buy seven extra variant combos, for a total of 37 XP (and a lot of tedious duplication on the character sheet). If there were four supplementals, it would be fifteen extra variants, for 102 XP. That's an awfully high price to pay for a little flexibility. One could argue that Solar combos are supposed to be rigid, but this is more rigid than I think it needs to be. I'd rather just make use of Supplemental charms optional, possibly in exchange for paying an extra XP surcharge (double or triple normal?). - Toram

How 'bout this: You pay the Combo cost of a Charm, and that makes it freely comboable for you. Each freeform Combo you make has to abide by the rules, but you can just make Combos with whatever you can Combo, whenever. Easy peasy. - willows

That's a little more flexible than I think it should be. I think some degree of predefinition is important, particularly so that a good description can be written. - Toram

BrokenShade: I'm a computer pogrammer too, if it comes to that. I do like your version better; mine was just something I came up with on-the-fly and didn't think through much. -Fifth

Toram, you just want to have your cake and eat it too.

Luckily I am good at thinking up new mechanics. Same thing as before (flag a Charm as being Comboable for its base Combo cost), but then you can make any Combo for 1 XP (or some other pat-on-the-head cost) out of any Charms you flagged Comboable. Or another: When you buy a Combo, you automatically get all the subsets of that Combo. That obviously means that you have complex decisionmaking, but I think that makes it more interesting. - willows

How about when you buy a combo, you can buy any subset of that combo for only 1 xp? -Fifth

I like willows idea of flagging Combo Charms then buying them for a low sum of XP. But maybe make it 1 XP per Charm in the Combo. Remember that one of the advantages of the DRagon-blood's is free Reflexive charms, so by reducing the XP cost of Charms overall you'll be reducing the power of Dragon-blood's propotionally as well. - Epsilon

I don't think that's so bad, to nerf the dragonlings. Combos are more or less an advanced tactic, and it's at the upper levels, AFAICT, that DBs are supposed to fall behind the curve. - willows

That (flag a Charm as being Comboable for its base Combo cost, then you can make any Combo for 1 XP) works quite nicely, willows ... you've even balanced out the flexibility by charging 1 XP more for the first Combo. And you keep the "each Combo must be unique, having its own special effects" side of things. -- BrokenShade

I like that too. If Toram and my non-wiki players like it, I'll probably go with it. Thanks, Willows! --MF

willows: Of course; I like cake. - Toram

My houserule on Combos: you can "clone" an existing Combo for half its XP cost, and modify the clone from there. You can add new Charms to a Combo for their net XP cost (ie, minimum attribute). You can REMOVE Charms from a Combo by paying their minimum Essence in XP. Some Supplementals aren't necessary or useful after a certain point; a small one-time expense to do away with them isn't too egregious. - BillGarrett

willows' rule seems quite workable and interesting, but it encourages characters with an insane number of different combos for every situation : once a Charm becomes comboable having it in a Combo is a little too cheap, regalrdless of its power. In addition, there is NO COST to having every single Instant Reflexive you know part of every Combo you'll ever learn, be it XP or Essence, and it's still impossible to improve an existing Combo and adding Reflexives still makes older versions obsolete. So while sounding pretty good as a house rule, it doesn't solve MF's problem in any way.
For his situation, I'd suggest (going from Toram's and others' suggestions) that new Reflexives could be added to an existing Combo later on for normal XP cost. I'd also suggest Supplementals could be made part of a Combo for DOUBLE their normal XP cost and thus become optional when activating the Combo. Double-cost Supplementals could be bought with the original Combo or later on with XP, since they preserve the availability of the original Combo. I don't immediately see why this could not be the case with Extra Action Charms as well while we're at it, although it would make Combos a lot more flexible and I can see some other problems slowly creeping up, such as a version that allows splitting your dice pool and one that doesn't (with Multiple Actions). Either way the players must devise a visual description for every variant they plan to use or this variant is simply unavailable. Possibly we could charge an extra one XP for any Combo that remains 'open'.
-- ArchonShiva

Well, there is something that would still discourage characters from having every possible combination of Charms comboed up: training time. So far in my chronicle it's been a scarcer resource than XP by far.

Actually, I've been thinking about this issue, and weighing the various house rules people have suggested, and I finally realized one thing that the official rule does well that is lacking in many of the house rules: it upholds a certain genre convention. The anime-derived cinematic principle behind Comboes is that a powerful character should have a certain set of signature moves. That set doesn't grow exponentially as the character learns more Charms; it grows linearly, or even sub-linearly. The current XP cost scheme for Comboes promotes that way of thinking by making it expensive to add new signature moves, but it has the side effect that players want to delay learning any Comboes at all, to minimize the XP cost. I want to preserve the benefit but lose the unfortunate side effect. I'm even willing to abandon the path-invariant property of XP cost that Toram and I earlier said was desirable, as long as abandoning it pushes players in the right direction. --MF

The thought of having optional supplementals in a combo boggles my mind. Isn't one of the key tenents of Exalted tactics to figure out the capabilities of your opponent and then exploit his weaknesses? If everyone is running around with an uber-combo-of-doom encompassing every last charm they know there are no weaknesses. One of the drawbacks of a huge combo with lots of supplementals is that it's expensive. It prevents someone from making a huge combo out of every last charm they have because they know 90% of the time they might use it their opponent will just HGD it for a huge mote advantage. If you take that away, everyone will combo every turn until they are out of willpower because there is no drawback at all. I prefer combos to be an occassionally-used ability for overwhelming your opponent, not just being a way to squeeze more ass-kicking into every combat turn. YMMV, of course.
-- Shoggoth (bah, you posted basically the same thing while I was working on this, MF)

My suggestion for this is only aimed at the original point of the discussion (adding reflexives only, i havn't got a solution for supplementals yet).
Basically, there should be a cost for adding things to a combo later (as otherwise people will develop massive mega ubercomboes of reflexive everything, as noted above) but it shouldn't really be too large, or people won't combo until they have every reflexive charm (and make the ubercombo anyway...)
My solution to this is to charge the normal cost +1 to add a reflexive (and only a reflexive) charm to a combo. I think the favoured experience rules were what inspired me... the +1 could be increased or parameterized as necessary, but i think it should be sufficient... it'll add up fairly rapidly if they have multiple small comboes, but doesn't seem large or unfair in my view. As for my hesitant ramblings on supplemental charms, i'm currently leaning towards the clone then fiddle method that BillGarrett suggested above.
-- Darloth

In case it is relevant, this is the way I handle this fun idea in my games. You create the original combo with the standard rules, describe the "signature move" as an environment-irrelevant stunt so it can be adapted to fit the situation, and then write it out on it's own sheet of paper using the following notation:

(simple charm) ((mote cost), (willpower cost), (duration), (type))
+ (supplimental charm) ((mote cost), (willpower cost), (duration), (type))
+/- (reflexive charm) ((mote cost), (willpower cost), (duration), (type))

The '+' notation is so I know you have to use it, the '+/-' notation is so I know it is optional for you to use it. If you want to have the supplimental charm be optional-use, you pay the exp cost for that charm again and it's notation changes to '+/-' for this combo only. The mandatory-use charms represent the default description for the combo, with each optional charm requiring an additional detail or two to show that you are using it. It does not hurt that I require the charm to be thematically solid in description and effect, just the same as if they were designing a new martial arts charm tree.

If you want to add a charm into the above combo, you pay 1 exp for every charm in the combo originally (to "reset" or "soften" the definitions of the combo) then the standard exp cost for including the charm into a combo. You can decide to make it optional-use at that time if you want to pay double the charm's normal cost. Reflexive charms are always optional-use.

The same for if you wanted to change an existing mandatory-use supplimental charm to an optional-use. You pay 1 exp for each charm in the combo to "soften" it, then you pay the cost of the charm already in the combo again to change it's requirements.

I am not sure if this is useful to you, yet this works for me in my games ... so I figured throwing it out here might help you out. It allows the players to have a degree of flexibility with their combos and yet still makes them pay for that flexibility with exp. Hope this helps.
- SunRunner

Hi there! I'm perhaps a bit late, but I can see some real useful notions with the standard rules. I battles, I believe that the goal is to unharmed defeat your opponent(s) with as little essence expenditure as possible and with giving as little information about your fighting prowess as possible. In the latter case, it's VERY useful to have several seemingly similar combos. This is relevant for both defense and offense. However, as each combo is unique, similar combos can appear alike. Furthermore, players should beware of the rules of supplemental charms in combos. The must be used whenever applicable. To me (I could rule differently of course), this means that the Spirit-Cutting Attack charm must be used in every attack, regardless if it useful or not. Consider the following set of combos: 1. Melee Excellency + Spirit-Cutting Attack + Seven Shadow Evasion. 2. Melee Excellency + Seven Shadow Evasion + Enemy-Castigating Solar Judgment. Both are by themselves useful for the combat-oriented Solar. However, one combo consisting of both SCA and ECSJ is less useful because the one supplemental charm is often useless but must be paid for. ~Clebo

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