Discussions/TwilightAnima2E

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Twilight Anima Power, Second Edition

"Solar Exalted of the Twilight Caste may channel Essence through their animas in a last-ditch protective act. If after damage has been rolled, a Twilight Exalt will lose health levels, she may instead spend five motes of Essence to strengthen her anima in an attempt to resist the attack. Subtract one health level from the damage for every dot of Essence she possesses. This effect can turn an otherwise deadly blow or reduce a weak attack to harmlessness. This effect comes into play automatically once the Solar spends 11-15 motes of Peripheral Essence." -- Exalted 2E, Core Rules

Proposed Houserules

  • Roll the essence instead of automatically applying, and not allow the power to reduce damage below a minimum of one health level
  • Force the Twilight to spend 5 motes every time, regardless of anima level
  • Apply automatic shielding only when the character is taking a sorcery action, NOT at the 11+ anima level
  • When they are at 11+ motes of Peripheral Essence, they take no DV penalties for any non-Attack actions taken in combat; their anima moves to take the place of their body to guard them.
  • Change it to grant hardness (3 x Ess?)
  • Reduce post-soak damage dice by Essence, which can reduce below minimum damage
  • Auto(11-15) version is rolled, but you may pay 5 motes to succeed on every die
  • Simply change it entirely


Discussion

Okay, so maybe it's just me, but it seems that the 2E Twilight anima ability is a little overpowered. If the 1E effect was automatic at 11+ anima banner level, or if the 2E effect was rolled instead of flat, I'd be fine with it. When a 2E Twilight can automatically subtract their Essence in HL's inflicted from any incoming attack, for free, without rolling? I worry.

Obviously there are ways around this, either through non-damaging effects (inflicting penalties, social effects, etc.) or charms that seriously pump inflicted damage. What worries me is that any given Twilight can utterly ignore the vast majority of non-combat-optimized Exalts of his Essence or lesser, for free, and without even taking a charm to do it. All he needs is good armor, and maybe another soak enhancer or two, to make sure the damage rolled is a ping. Maybe it'll prove to be a moot point, as tactics for fighting Solars have to put up with nasty perfect effects and other potent defenses before even wondering whether or not the damage roll is going to be high enough. Maybe it won't.

Any opinions? -- Ketrus, who likes it, but sorta hates himself for liking it. Great! The twilight anima ability is just like a neomah!

Yes. It is massively overpowered. In fact, it's the most overpowered thing in the new game. There's just no way to really fix something so overpowered, but you can go a long way towards helping by at least having Twilights roll their Essence and count the successes (don't let 10s count as 2) as subtracted health levels (rather like the old edition). That's still too much, but at least it doesn't make iconic Twilights into automatic, completely invincible soak monsters, especially if they're (God forbid) armoured.
~ Shataina
The way I imagined coming about is someone saying, "Hm, the new Essence-Gathering Temper makes the invincible Twilight who regains essence and willpower with every blow less feasible. Let's fix that!" After spending a little while thinking on it, there are a few houserules that come to mind. The one I like best is that it doesn't automatically trigger from 11+, but it DOES automatically trigger from the essence display of sorcery shaping. This brings it a better purity of purpose--as this is what the anima ability was probably designed to do, all along--and puts a limitation on its usefulness. No matter how much essence you accumulate, sorcery is still going to be prohibitively expensive for extended fights. -- Ketrus
It definitely looks overpowered. Not having the book in hand, and not having completely wrapped my head around the new system, I'm disinclined to vomit up a sweeping condemnation - maybe the way it works now makes that reasonable. However, from what I've picked up of the system from things like Kasumi's Combat 201 primer on RPGnet, I don't see anything that indicates that the damage-reduction ability is less powerful now than it was previously. I'm withholding my judgement and houseruling until I possess and understand the new game. :) - David.
Just to clarify, this means that as long as you start a fight by spending 11 motes reflexively as part of your join combat action (or your first tick), your anima lights up, and you stay lit up until your next action, subtracting your Essence from all incoming damage? Then, (since I don't have the book in front of me) your anima stays lit up, and to keep it uber-bright, you might need to spend an additional mote or two? So pretty much you can subtract your Essence in HL from all incoming post-soak damage, for the entire fight, for, say, 11m? -- GreenLantern
The anima display is a scenelong, so yes, you spend 11 motes peripheral (maybe by checking the time of day 11 times, reflexively), and everyone within a couple miles sees you activate the Aura of Oh God Run Away -- Ketrus
And thus the Twilight quickly becomes the fight-monster of choice. Again. Poor Dawn-caste, they get absolutely no love. -- GreenLantern
They get their aura of fear automatically at 11+ motes, which drives away mortals and gives them +2 DV against Exalts who have less valor than their essence. They're not -screwed-, mind, it's just that their stompy anima ability is somewhat balanced. Zeniths are super-buff vs. dark and nasty critters, Nights have a very slight buff to their already useful ability, and Eclipses get access to a positively broken Principle of Motion. It's just that out of all these increases, the Twilights stand out as the most terrifying. I should probably start a Discussions/PrincipleOfMotion2E. It's disgusting, and very vaguely-defined in the core book. Maybe the ST guide will make it more tolerable, but it doesn't even seem LEGAL in Core. It gives effectively independent actions that can be used to 'attack, parry, dodge, or use non-reflexive charms', which as far as I can tell isn't supposed to HAPPEN in 2E, when you've got DV instead of dodge and parry actions. -- Ketrus, who drifted off point, off topic, off the edge of Creation

Pretty much, the Twilight anima is based on the assumption that the Twilight is going to be casting spells and will be unable to use charms to defend himself, since Sorcery can't be comboed. So, it's intended to keep him alive longer under those circumstances in which he has neither a dice pool nor charms for defense. -- JohnBiles

Yeah, the intention is clear... I just think the design is awful. Eliminating the relevence of ping damage shouldn't be done in a scenelong CHARM, much less an anima ability that doesn't cost anything. Of course, I said so above, so this post edit really only has one point: I finally realized why your name is familiar. Did you write CoaEG? I always liked that fic. -- Ketrus
Rod and I wrote COAEG, yeah. -- JohnBiles
Ahh, well, nice work, and thank you. It was well-written and a fun read. The Christmas omake is particularly memorable, because I've never gotten the stains out from when I spit coke all over my desk. --Ketrus

I don't mind it so much. It is pretty damn powerful, but if you think about it, the upgrades have all been fairly significant as well, or were always pretty badass, like the Eclipse learn-any-charm trick. In those contexts, it's Pretty Damn Nice (probably the best as written, unless you count Eclipse esoterica), but not abominably overpowering. I am concerned that the Dawn trick was not upgraded enough. I mean, eventually, it auto-activates, but by that time, your twilight is automatically negating 6-7 health levels, and (if I'm understanding this correctly, a Zenith is +6-7L/B soak, and is doubling his minimum ping, against creatures of darkness. I'm tempted to upgrade the Dawn anima ability to add Essence, rather than a flat +2, to DV versus beings with Valor less than his Essence. -- IsawaBrian

If casting sorcery and running away was all the Twilight caste did -- if they were basically D&D wizards compared to the rest of the Exalted -- their anima power might be barely justifiable. But they aren't, and it's not. Okay, so they're supposed to stay alive longer while casting spells. But let's recall that they now can parry and dodge while casting sorcery -- they still get their DVs -- so they're really better off than they were in 1st Edition. And were they weak and easily killed in 1st? No! So what if they had to stand still and maybe risk some damage while casting sorcery? Consider the following, all from a First Edition perspective:

  1. Nothing, nothing at all, prevents a Twilight from wearing armour. And there are spells that make it easier -- like, say, Invulnerable Skin of Bronze. So give your Twilight artifact armour with 10 soak, cast Invulnerable Skin of Bronze to add 6 to that, and very little is going to get through anyway. Even if it does get through, it's not doing more than one or two health levels -- and you're supposed to take damage in a battle; how much, just for comparison, does your front-line Dawn Caste take? ... And then the Twilight Flying Guillotines that person's head off and the fight is over.
  2. Which brings me to how powerful sorcery is. It has to have drawbacks, and that whole "you need to stand still and focus" thing is really the only major one besides the Essence signature and cost. That's even if we assume that all Twilights are sorcerers, which ...
  3. ... they're not. You could make a Twilight Caste swordsmith who completely ignored Occult, concentrated on Craft and Melee Charms, and he'd still get that stupid anima power. Or one that ignored Occult in favour of Medicine and Dodge, becoming a stalwart healer who just happens to be harder to hurt than her circle's Zenith and Dawn castes. These concepts wouldn't even be hard to picture, or out of genre, or badly-themed, or weird, or anything.
  4. Lastly ... are Twilights ever alone, facing the enemy across an open field, with no one between them? No. They have their Circle to protect them while they spend some ticks getting off their spells. Even if you're, say, playing a Twilight in a one-player game, only an idiotic or overconfident Twilight doesn't make sure they have some followers, mercenaries or enormous distance (say, 500 freakin' yards) between them and the person they're Flying Guillotining.

If you still have any doubts about this power, I strongly suggest that you make a well-armoured Twilight with a couple of decent Melee Charms. See what happens when they fight. If you're still okay with it after that ... well, hey, it's your game, but I do suggest that you at least not be putting any armoured Daybreak Abyssals up against your players, because they'll cry.
~ Shataina

It does seem to be extremely buff. It also seems to be a warped thing to give the caste of socerers, loremasters and artisans as a caste power. It really would be nice if the twilight caste power had some actual relationship to making them better at what their caste does rather than covering their caste's traditional(? should this be 'Iconic', maybe...?) weakness so obnoxiously well that I start wanting to make my combat twink characters Twlight instead of Dawn. I guess my concern is that it's not just too strong, it's out of theme for the caste theme, for out of character metagame reasons, which just seems bad to me. Does it seem that way to anyone else? Gamlain

Yes. That was my major complaint with it in the old edition. In the new edition, I just can't help focusing on how broken it is, though.
~ Shataina

The fix that I'm going to be going with is as follows: The five-mote activation power remains the same, because it's not that bad compared to new soak Charms. However, Twilight (like Night) have a different 11+ power. When they are at 11+ motes of Peripheral Essence, they take no DV penalties for any non-Attack actions taken in combat; their anima moves to take the place of their body to guard them. Thoughts? - FrivYeti

This is probably a good time to mention how much I hate the Twilight anima effect, and how it just doesn't suit the Twilights. Every other caste has something that makes sense, yet the Twilight's not only scales with Permanant Essence, but is universally useful, and basically an essence-shield. This is not Twilight. We're talking about the knowledge caste, not the great defender caste! The Twilight anima should be something that is useful in the situations the Twilight shines, which is as much learning, teaching and creating, than it is about casting Sorcerous Death (tm) at the enemy. Remember, not all Exalted is combat... - Trithne

The Twilight Anima ability really seems based on Slayers. In the Novals (it was mostly ingnored in the Anime, but not totally), whenever you caste a spell, the forces you summoned would form an Aegis for the duration of the casting and a few moments afterwords (a few spells like Raywing extend this, but not all). That's why shes able to drop dragonslaves ontop of herself - while she's casting the spell, you would have to throw something BIGGER then a Dragonslave to hurt her. Likewise, while Shabranigdu's defences were breached by Rezo, Shabranigdu wasn't able to strike Lina down while she was casting the Giga-Slave because her mystical Aegis was fueled by the Lord of Nightmares - an 'enity' greater then him. - Dasmen
Wow, okay, I like Slayers as much as the next guy... but I don't think it was even listed as a source in the corebook, and it definitely doesn't fit the feel of the setting for any but the most hilarious of parody games. And, even then, that functions more like spell immunity or spell resistance out of the d20 system, than HL-infliction immunity. And in any case, that doesn't really answer the question. If it was just sorcery that fueled the auto-shield, I'd be fine with it. In fact, I suggested that as a houserule a little bit above. But a Twilight can quite literally whistle dixie and utterly ignore any mortals and most magical beings of his essence or lower, as long as he's spent 11 peripheral motes. It's obscene. Not only does it necessitate beating his soak and outdoing ping, but you're going to have to beat it by around 8 against an Ess3 Twilight. The way to do THAT isn't a more powerful spell from some greater circle of magic. The way to do THAT is a grand goremaul, which doesn't quite fit the feel of Slayers anyway :P -- Ketrus, who is running Slayers d20 again and loving it.
As it protects aganst everything, not just mystical forces it would be Damage Reduction(and in the case of a Dragon Slave or any other combat spell, just enough to outright ignore your own casting) - and Slayers was referenced in 'A Book of Three Cicles' which came out right on the tail end of the core. As for you point about lacking in exicusion, I'm not going to disagree (I'm not agreeing either - I need to see how it works in play for a while, and I'm between groups so thats going to take awhile to happen). My point was mearly a rebutle about it being random and nonsensical as a inhairent sorcerer ability. - Dasmen

Just because the caste is Twilight, it doesn't mean that the exalt has to follow the preconcieved notion of being a healer, crafter, builder etc. there is nothing to stop the player taking combat abilities as favoured and focusing on melee / dodge. The Twilight could easily be as powerfull in a fight as a Dawn. In fact there could be Dawn caste sorcerers with solar level spells, that have better occult knowledge than a Twilight caste. Personally I think the 5 mote activation power is fine, we have been using that in our game since the begining, but having it for free at 11+ motes peripheral may be a little over the top. That said - if an exalt is using that much peripheral in a fight he is in a lot of trouble. As soon as the anima flares up, there will be people running away screaming, DB's comming to look at whats going on etc. Not a good position to be in, so in theory it should not crop up too often in a story. If players abuse it just send the Wyld hunt / Lone Sidereal assasins etc after them, hitting them after a fight when they have blown loads of essence and willpower will cause loads of problems. They will soon get the message, or end up with dead characters! Eldmar

People and information don't travel that fast in Exalted. You can get away with killing an entire Wyld Hunt before the next shows up, unless they send two Wyld Hunts after you in the first place. And the whole point is that in a 'serious fight', the Twilight doesn't even SPEND personal essence, he keeps it in reserve and activates his autoshield. You're right, though, not every twilight sticks to the schtick perfectly--that's the PROBLEM. Why should there ever be a Dawn caste when a Twilight can take combat abilities and do a better job at what Dawns are supposed to do? +2 DV (simulating the blind shot penalty) against foes already weaker to you does not in any sane way match up against subtracting health levels from anything that hits you. For five motes, it's fine, as Solar charms are far more efficient than that now. For free, it just gets ridiculous. At that point, you're keeping Stomach Bottle Bugs in your body so that they can ping you and activate EGT, which you will effortlessly cancel with your anima ability. Taken to extremes, a HUGE Twilight with Glorious Solar Saber or a Jade Artifact will be regenerating 19 motes of essence every 3 ticks at absolutely no cost, but the necessity of a combo if he wants to activate other charms. While he hits you with his sword. And if you somehow manage to hurt this behemoth with 4 HL's or more... he's full of Stomach Bottle Bugs! Hello, Touch of Grace! -- Ketrus, who dreamt of twinks as he slept last night.
But, you're somewhat wrong there, Eldmar. The castes dictate your character's preference in dealing with problems, and if you've gone Twilight, and make a combat-monkey, then you've entirely missed the point of the castes. A Twilight is the knowledge caste, and any character favouring the use of knowledge over other means is Twilight. If they favour a different means, then they're a different caste. - Trithne
My Twilight overcomes brawn with knowledge. Lore 5 and Occult 5 means he knows all the rules, right? So min/maxing is in character! -- Ketrus
Not to mention, what about Twilight Caste magitech weapon users? Or Twilight Caste builders who build their own weapons? Or hey, a Twilight Caste strategist?
~ Shataina
All of those are completely valid. I said no reason why not. But, the anima is a combat-gearing, seemingly implying that they need to be combat-focused. A Twilight strategist is a strategist, not a front-line fighter. That's my point. But hey, I've just had a gigantic argument about this on OpenRPG, I'm not in the mood at all, let's just agree to disagree. - Trithne
Well, I was just being sarcastic. In any case, I think we -all- agree that's a bit too powerful. The only arguments seem to be over how valid it is in terms of theme, which really are secondary. -- Ketrus

I was just reading SolarExcellency/Ialdabaoth .. .. and.. I thought.. that's perfect for the twilight anima... how about it triggers whenever you're using one of their caste abilites?.. medicine?.. fine.. you're an amazing battle medic, wandering around healing people and ignoring the odd hits that ping off you while you do advanced surgery mid fight... Craft? .. you can stand in the middle of a volcano and work white hot metal with your hands (ok, it's maybe less interesting if you build cupboards for a living.. but hey.. think big ^^) .. Occult?.. well.. sorcery for a start.. that's what it was pretty much designed for anyway.. aaand.. .. well.. I can't think of anything cool for investigation to be honest.. but then I always see that more as a night one :P .. Lore is.. well, another tough one really.. but meh, I'm sure it'd be handy while you're in the Wyld trying to shape a factory cathedral or something ^^ FluffySquirrel

Thanks, glad you liked it. I'd like to keep the aforementioned Charm powers for their intended purpose, but I'd suggest the following rules to implement what you're saying: the anima power cannot be used during or after any direct physical attack, until your next action becomes available. Sorcery and Lore-based attacks are not considered "direct", but any use of Melee, Martial Arts, Archery or Thrown is. -- Ialdabaoth

quote ':But, you're somewhat wrong there, Eldmar. The castes dictate your character's preference in dealing with problems,' yes I agree with you in principle, but why can't you have an intelligent warrior, sure there is the barbarian type with the all brawn approach - hit it until its dead or goes away - but there are also weaponmasters out there. weapon mastery is not about having the biggest biceps, its about being physically very good yes but also about the knowledge of how to utilise the weapon in different circumstances. Adapting your techniques to your foes rather than just standing there and hitting them. What is the difference between a Twilight hitting you with a sword or using the spell wood dragon claw and hitting you with that? or the spell spirit sword. The fact that it is magic he is using dosn't change the basic act. Also in first ed, where it talks about castes and concepts, it specifically states that usually a person exalts into a caste that most fits his/her personality, the key word is usually - But not always, you can have warrior zeniths or pacifist zeniths of diplomatic zeniths you could have eclipse socialites or one whose diplomacy comes from his physical size and his sword. There are hundreds of variations possible. Eldmar

This is all quite true, but the problem is that the thematic, role-based Twilight anima ability is actually a combat ability. While it's fine and good to have Twilight warriors, Twilights as a whole are not primarily practitioners of the martial arts (used in its wider sense). They should have an anima ability keyed to their caste's role, in the same way that they have Caste Abilities suited for that role. The ability, as-is, is like giving Dawns Melee, War, Thrown, Martial Arts, and Socialize as Caste Abilities because there can and should be diplomatic Dawns. Spreading outside your caste's role requires Favored Abilities and Charms - and out-of-caste powers should not be an inherent feature of the caste, especially if they gear the caste towards another caste's role, doubly especially if they are better than the corresponding ability for the imposed-upon caste. ~WillCoon
I'm going to have to argue that the 'idea' is fine - every Caste but Eclipes has real combat applications with their caste ability, and the Solars were created to murder those who came before the Gods - though the exicusion may leave something to be desired. - Dasmen
Principle of Motion. World-Shaping Artistic Vision(Making Primeordeals Wish They Were Neverborn). The Eclipse ability is DEFINITELY a combat feature. -- Ketrus knows this isn't exactly on topic, but it bears mentioning. Pardon the pun.
Really, it is on topic - it shows that every Anima ability should make you better at killing Primordials in some shape or form. - Dasmen
Agreed. Exalted are weaponry, after all; their built-in features (as opposed to non-Sidereal Charms, which are idiosyncratic) are those of fighters. - willows
Actually, that makes a lot of sense. You're right, the Twilights should have a combat-useful anima ability. But it seems to me that it should be more knowledge-y, in the same way that a Zenith is good at fighting because they can Turn Or Destroy Undead and an Eclipse is good at fighting because they know the 'local language.' A Twilight should be good at fighting because they know what they're doing, or something, not because they're tougher than other Solars. Even if being really tough is a good thing for sorcerors. ~WillCoon
I agree with WillCoon in that it should ideally be focussed around what are the 'traditional' twilight roles are (but not fixed into any of them) and yet should be useful (if possible) both in and out of combat, like the other anima abilities are (except possibly Dawn). The No Moon ability of cheaper sorcery is an example of this, but wouldn't fit twilights because only -some- of them are sorcerers. I've been considering the mote-reduction powers that some people have been postulating... It would also fit nicely with the 11+ always-on level(Although need careful balancing to avoid overpowering it again), and would be useful for craft/other tasks simply by letting you do more of stuff. That's my idea anyway, and I'm very glad this discussion is here.
-- Darloth

I've been thinking that perhaps changing it from HL-absorption to hardness may be the way to go. I'm sort of torn between 3*Ess flat, or 2*Ess that stacks with the highest other source of hardness. Twilights are still soak monkeys, and they're still terribly hard to hurt, but they're no longer flat out invulnerable to most attacks. An Essence 3 twilight with the former strategy is walking around in what is the equivilent of high-powered artifact armor when his anima goes all out, although it doesn't actually provide soak in case he DOES get hit. Exalts can still punish him terribly, but most extras will be turned aside. Most importantly of all, this defensive strategy isn't abusable with Essence-Gathering Temper. -- Ketrus, who remembers (Twilight anima OR Death-Parrying Stroke + Golden Essence Block) + Essence-Gathering Temper + Iron Skin Concentration + Dancing With Strife Method.

OK, I don't have the book yet. They haven't changed the HL in the new system, so I don't feel bad commenting on the suggested changes.
1.Rolling Essence causes two things that I don't like. One is to add another roll in combat, which seems so much more streamlined in Ex2. The second is that defense is less predictable, which also seems to be a theme in Ex2. If you just believe it's too strong, just make it Essence/2 damage removed after soak. Or have it remove Essence dice after soak, which can reduce ping. If you don't want it to eliminate ping damage, then just give them a new power, because you've nerfed it below 1e power.
2.Five motes every activation is unthematic now. It looks like every exalt will have a power when they're flaring this much (correct me if I'm wrong) and every Solar definitely does. It's crappy to deny the Twilights that just because you think their power is beefy. If you dislike it that much, write a new power.
3.See above. Also, Twilights don't need another reason to learn sorcery. And they got their powers before they learned sorcery , so unless they changed that this makes no sense.
4.I'm not sure if this power is in addition or instead of the 5m power, but either way it's pretty weak, and actively discourages the Twilight from fighting. Not something I can see Sol giving his Exalts.
5.Hardness is probably the weirdest one of the bunch. On the one hand, I kinda like it, but on the other I really don't. Much of this stems from the fact that I don't think hardness should ever exceed soak, and not every twilight will have/want armor. They certainly won't have it on all the time, so you could have a Stamina 3 Essence 3 Solar with 1L soak and 9 hardness. Less beautiful.
To sum up: if you think it's overpowered, cool. Nerf it a bit. Don't like the idea? Change it. But keep it quick, and keep it easy. TzalFlameforge
I definitely think making it remove dice, instead of levels, is the way to go, and that is how I will be playing it in my game. That definitely brings them up to speed with the Zeniths, Nights, and Eclipses. Now, for the poor, poor Dawns: Upping this from +2 DV to +( Essence + 1 - attacker's Valor) DV, and providing the same bonus in dice to all attack rolls against low-Valor opponents, would go a long way to making the Dawn ability worthwhile. It means that your average Dawn (Essence 3) vs. your average extra (Valor 2) is getting a +3, but your War-King (Essence 5) vs. peons (Valor 1) is at +5, and vs. battle-hardened warriors (Valor 4) is still at +2. -- Ialdabaoth
Here is what I'm planning to do. It's a change that someone suggested on the White Wolf fora. When activated, the power functions exactly as written: it reduces damage by a number of health levels equal to the Twilight's Essence rating. When it's iconic, though, there's a trade-off: the power doesn't need to be activated (it's an iconic anima power, after all), but it only auto-reduces HALF the Twilight's Essence in HLs, rounded up.
What do y'all think? -- notsoangrydave
If it's automatic, it's still too powerful, even if it's less.

My friend Braydz suggested in conversation the other day that perhaps the power ought not to be able to reduce damage below a minimum of one health level. I think that, and rolling the damage reduction rather than applying it automatically, might make it okay.
~ Shataina

Dave, I saw that suggestion too. It's a nice solution that doesn't nerf the power enough too much. Shataina, I think you're far too much against this anima power in general to let it exist. If you don't think any form of it can be automatic then (if you want to follow the new anima theme) you need to at least give the Twilights a power that activates whenever their anima is at 11+ Granted, I'm not sure what you'd want to do with it, but as you've written it now it is almost worthless. As you've written it here, it's worse than the 1e Twilight anima. What gives? TzalFlameforge

As Darloth notes below, "what gives" is that the 1st Ed power was bad too. It's just that it's completely retarded now. And yes, I am far too much against the anima power in general to let it exist, and in my games I don't; but that doesn't mean I can't discuss balancing it in general.

Forgive me if my following comments are vehement, but I am downright shocked that you think that rolling Essence dice and reducing attack damage by that number to a minimum of 1 is "almost worthless". Nothing else in the game does anything like that! Consider the Resistance Charms: even the ones that reduce damage don't reduce it after damage is rolled. The ability to do it afterwards is the big thing that makes the anima power awesome.

The point of this power isn't to make the Twilight Caste immune to damage when they're wearing armour, which is what it will do if it automatically reduces damage after it's been rolled and can do so right down to zero. (Think about it: if you're wearing armour and stacking spells or Resistance Charms that end up giving you 20+ soak, what's going to do more than Essence in damage? And when it's doing only its Essence in damage, that means only creatures with 5+ Essence will be averaging more than one Health Level per successful attack, which means that if you make this anima power automatically reduce damage -- even if it's a lower auto-reduction than the canon one -- you're coming close to making it a perfect defense against damage. A free, automatic, reflexive one.) The point of this power is to keep Twilights, hypothetically the "weak" circle members, from dying while they lurk on the sidelines. I do quibble with the basic premise here, but even if I accepted that Twilights are weak and need that kind of protection, it wouldn't justify making them damage-immune machines. The point of forcing a minimum health level and a roll is to ensure that, like the other anima powers, this power doesn't allow Twilights to completely win -- it's just a useful, basic power that will help them survive. A Twilight who takes 4 health levels should be thankful that she can roll her Essence to take one or two fewer health levels -- something nobody else can do, not even with Charms. And if just two more health levels would kill her, and she takes two, then she should be thrilled that she can reduce them to one and survive. She shouldn't be complaining because her unique anima power didn't cause the damage to just up and vanish!
~ Shataina

Well, I think the general opinion is that the 1st edition power was/is overpowered. It certainly seems that way to me after a chunk of playtesting...
-- Darloth

Just out of curiosity, has anyone compared the powerlevel of the anima power to the new resistance charms? Between durability of oak, iron kettle, spirit strengthens the skin and adamant skin tech - powers to reduce damage taken have increased massively from the first edition, and the Twilight one has followed suit. When you are talking about damage reduction, the Twilights are only reducing on average 3 or 4 levels for 5 motes, the damage reduction is not all that much, sure it will beat extras, but it's not going to be a problem for most exalts. Also a twilight should not be using sorcery when in hand to hand combat anyway, as some one has already said, there is usualy the rest of the circle around him, so it is only going to be useful against ranged attacks, a simple terestrial spell - impenetrable frost barrier giving 2* perm essence success penalty will prevent all ranged attacks by extra's hitting and exalts who can get passed -8 successes to hit won't be worried about -4 to their damage. The wood aspect DB in my campain does up to 15 dice damage, (+3 bow, +2 arrow, +4 strength, +2 armor bonus, +3 eyes of wood dragon and +1 strength of stone). And take a look at the new DB anima powers, some of them have massively changed! Eldmar

No one is complaining about it's power when the twilight has to spend motes, Eld; The problem is that the power turns on *allways* for no cost when the Twilight's anima banner is at 11+. That's cutting 3-4 levels of damage from every attack, after soak, for no cost at all, with the ability to reduce the damage to zero. Because this can negate ping damage, combined with some serious armor, it can allow the Twilight to become effectively invincable to many enemies, even exalted ones, as long as their anima banner is at full blast. Gamlain
I'm complaining when they have to spend motes. The "always turn on" thing is what tips it from merely overpowered to the worst thing in the game, though.
~ Shataina
15 dice of damage... Before soak. Let us assume a soak of, what... 6L? Seem reasonable? I'm not too sure about 2nd edition yet, but it sounds passable. So, now he's doing 9+successes... call it 12 damage. That converts, on average, to 5 levels of damage. Which is subtracted to 1 by the always on anima. So, with your 15 damage bow, after a meager soak, you might ping, if you don't roll badly on two rolls. The twilight doesn't need to roll anything at all, or even spend more motes. Heck, shoot the dawncaste, you'll hurt more. That, I believe, is what people are complaining about. In other terms, it's like adding (2.5 * Perm Essence) to soak, on top of armour and any other effects, which can soak damage down to zero. That's (statistically, if I've done my calculations right) the same effect on incoming damage.
-- Darloth trying to clarify the point, but hopefully not adding too much fuel to the fire on either side.

As to fixing the current power, I think I'm going to have it reduce damage taken by 1/2(Perm. Ess.) rounded up. Of more interest to me is that someone suggested giving Twilights a different Anima Power entirely. I like the one they have (though not the 2E mechanics for it), but are there any solid suggestions as to what else they could have? Me, I'm not so well read on this stuff as the rest of y'all, so I dunno what wouldn't just duplicate a 2nd-tier charm. Maybe this?

The Twilight Caste has a number of abilities that take a considerable amount of time to use properly; mainly I speak of Medicine, Craft, and Investigation. What about spending 5 motes at the beginning of such a task, and having it take only half the amount of time, reducing the cost of Charms used during such a task by their Permanent Essence and the time requirements of such Charms by half as well.
How's that sound? Feedback? Also, could it please be explained to me why not allowing their current Anima Power to reduce damage taken below 1 HL would make the ability pointless? I'm honestly not following that point.
~*~Braydz~*~
Sounds good, but as Eldmar notes below it should have a combat application. I'm now thinking like "By spending 5 motes, the Twilight may reduce the speed of an action requiring concentration by 1 for every three points of Permanent Essence and the maximum length of time they can be removed from combat as a result of the action is equal to the benefit gained. This happens automatically when the Solar is flaring at the 11+ mote level." This works in Social Combat as well as Physical. There are funny effects with Aim though, so it should probably be called out as an exception. It powers Sorcery up quite a bit as well, at Essence 6 it means that Solar Circle would only take 9 tick to cast, and Terrestrial only 3. Comments?
On the point of "minimum 1" making the ability pointless, it's because the Twilight is supposed to be using it while he is casting Sorcery, if he takes even one point of damage he runs the risk of losing the spell. -- Somori

Ok what about this; for a 5 mote activation cost the Twilight can use his anima to reduce post soak damage dice by his permenant essence to a minimum of 0 dice. When 11+ motes of peripheral essence have been spent, the Twilight can reflexively spend essence to reduce post soak damage dice at a cost of 2 motes per dice to a minimum of 0 dice (something that is already in cannon in the sidereal VBOS MA style). I think it important that the anima power is related to combat as solar's were created for combating any threat to creation - they are the soldiers of the unconquered sun. Eldmar

I found myself rambling, so I decided to make this more organized. Shataina, I’m fine that you don’t like the power. It sounds like you have theme problems with it, but if you have a thematic problem with something it seems silly to me to try and balance it. It sounds like you didn’t in your games, so when you got rid of the anima power, what did you replace it with? Below I’ll address some points you made.

1. Nothing prevents the Twilight from wearing armor: True. Nothing prevents them from taking a bunch of resistance charms and spells and artifact armor to have a soak/hardness of the gods and remove all the damage that way. Anyone who does this has a serious commitment to defense, and won’t be taking much damage no matter how they do it. Soaking, however, is the worst way to do this, because the fact of the matter is you still get hit, which means knockdown/back and all sorts of ugly status effects. Further, the method you provided has a practical limit that it can soak to zero. Combat-focused exalts will get around this, and your average exalt shouldn’t be able to directly harm someone who’s put that much effort into not being directly harmed.
2. Sorcery is powerful and should have drawbacks: Yeah, it is. Yeah, it does. It’s not all that combat saucy though. Flying Guillotine is actually weaker now, because any exalt with an excellency can add as many successes as the Twilight gets and gets their full DV against the attack. It’s significantly easier to parry/dodge combat spells now, so they’re becoming less useful.
3. This could be used for things other than sorcery: Of course! The point for me has never really been sorcery, because sorcery is really an inefficient way to attack in combat. If you want to kill things you want charms. More versatile, and easier to get. Demon summoning is one of the few versatile sorcery charms, and well, that has it’s own set of issues… But! Non-sorcerer Twilights are cool. So are combative ones. As you point out, these things are in-theme, and cool. Having an anima that works with that is nice as well.
4. Twilights are rarely alone, and when they aren’t they should be smart about battle: I agree mostly. If you stick with this anima theme (note I haven’t said anything about the execution yet) then the Twilight power should be useful in the thick of battle if you got there willingly or not. I do not want to penalize my players for making an appropriately themed character with combat capabilities. As you’ve written it the power does less for a well prepared character than one who did something stupid. In a sense you’re punishing the character who got all that armor and those charms by making his anima worth less. I can’t imagine another situation where the usefulness of an anima is reduced by the one using it being more prepared.

Braydz, that’s one of the problem I have with making the anima power have a minimum damage of 1. Another is that it’s more crunch that needs to be done, and with Shataina’s combination of rolling dice, more time spent on what is supposed to be a more streamlined combat system. Hence my suggestion that in a low power game where there isn’t high damage flying around, change the power to subtract post-soak dice from damage that ignores minimum damage. It’s useful, but not ridiculous. Your armored, charm-enhanced Twilights can still become very tough, but it effectively adds Essence to soak rather than 2.5xEssence. Also, it keeps a minimum damage for creatures more powerful than the twilight (more essence) although they won’t have such an easy time killing them. It’s simple, elegant, and I don’t think it’s overpowering. Incidentally, your suggested anima power is cool, though I’d probably make it just reduce the time for tasks. The tasks you suggested, as well as research time in libraries and invention times for spells. Would you restrict it to their caste abilities, though? I’m undecided. TzalFlameforge

I've got my houserule up and running. While the Twilight's anima is at the 11+ stage, anything that she crafting, healing, casting, or in any other way physically creating or fixing cannot be destroyed or damaged. Spellcasting cannot be disrupted. A person who is being healed cannot be damaged. An object which is being built cannot be damaged, etc. That is unless the anima goes out when the twilight is killed. Presumably that would work fine with a 5 mote instant effect also. - Morpheus

TzalFlameforge,
I don't think that there are any other abilities that take chunks of time (Socialize, Performance) that it would be thematic for the Anima Power of the Scholar Caste to effect. Maybe Beauraucracy, but I regard that as a stretch. I'd include research-oriented tasks of any kind under either Lore or Occult, so I kinda thought those were implied.
To get more specific about my argument for my fix to the power as-is: 1/2XEss. rounding up would yield just a bit better than the average of rolling it, so it takes the extra roll out of Shataina's suggestion. It eliminates the usefulness of ping dice, so an appropriately Charmed or Armored character would still be able to get Sorceries off, and it's not the 3 levels of damage off of every attack for free that scares GMs about even freshly Exalted Twilights.
Also remember, I'm still running Exalted 1E porting in just a few of the things I like from 2E (like the automatic Anima activation, I think that's a cool idea). So I'm trying to balance it with that in mind.
~*Braydz*~

Ah, I hadn't known. With that in mind, are you running power combat, or have you ported in some specific things that you liked (like minimum damage)? TzalFlameforge

Tzal,
Feeling that this's straying from the intended topic of this page, I've put my response here.
~*Braydz*~

I think I'm going with two things:

  • The 11+ mote version is rolled, but you can pay 5 motes to autosucceed on every die. This solves if for me, and is simple. If you pay five motes to activate it, it works as written.
  • Probably should be a way for one to learn the anima powers of other castes. Probably should require essence 4+ (And possible a trip to heavan for the Eclipse oath power), but should be possible. Not sure on costs, and if the learned powers should be innate or charms.

-FlowsLikeBits

A good compromise, I think, would be to change the effect to providing extra -0 HLs for the scene, a la Aura of Invulnerability, equal to your permanent Essence. You'd get your full allotment of these HLs by flaring to your 11+ anima banner, and could refill it to your maximum at any time by reflexively spending 5 motes, but you couldn't just spend 20 motes to get 5x your Essence in HLs at once. - braincraft

That's an interesting new idea on the subject. I like that. Certainly, at lower essence, it works very well. Sadly, it doesn't address one of the other problems, in that it is the only anima ability that scales up with essence. At essence 10, for example, the night caste is still getting his (or her) "You can't recognize me" or the +1 difficulty against being spotted or tracked. At essence 10, the twilight under this system would have an extra 10 health levels. Now, I agree that by essence 10 all people involved are going to have super-amazing powers anyway, but I hope you can see that if the power scales with essence like this, it rapidly gets out of hand, especially if you start involving Soul Fire Shaper Form or artifacts that provide phantom dots of Essence. Have you considered making it a flat number? 3 HLs seems fairly reasonable, as it should remain useful throughout most games. It's rather powerful early on in that case, but with less essence to fuel it this hopefully won't be too much of a problem.
-- Darloth
(P.S. Another solution, of couse, is to rewrite all of the anima powers to scale with essence, at which point this is fine. That would certainly work if you wanted a higher powered feeling game and wanted to emphasize animas. -- Darloth )
Technically, every anima power Essence-scales; they just do it in different ways. Dawn Caste affect Valor <= Essence, which scales up to Essence 6 (after that, it doesn't really continue.) Zenith doubles Essence minimums, which is effectively scaling with Essence. Night has the power to add Essence to Stealth rolls, which scales. Eclipse increases the number of terrifying botches that your poor target suffers (again, diminishing returns here, but fun). Twilight just scales the most directly and obviously. - FrivYeti
Sorry, my mistake. I was thinking of the first edition powers, but as you say, the 2E powers do (indirectly) scale... I had forgotten that.
-- Darloth
If I were redoing the anima powers, I'd give them all a direct Essence scaling. Dawns would either have the current effect against all opponents, with a penalty equal to their Essence, reduced by successes on a Valor roll, or some other effect (I'm toying with increasing post-soak damage by Essence, but that really boosts the already-effective ping stragegy.) Nights are fine as they are, Zeniths seem like they need a broadening of their effect, because their specialization means their anima power is either too good or useless, depending on the situation, and I never really liked the Eclipse power. I think the oath-sanctifying should be secondary, and the crosstype-charms should be replaced with something simple and weak that scales with Essence. In fact, for symmetry, every caste should have a directly and broadly useful anima power that scales with Essence, and a secondary power that supports their role. Or so I says, anyways. - braincraft
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