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House Rules for the Trial By Fire

The basics:

  1. The Power Combat option is the basis for this tournament's combat rules.
  2. Other than that, rules will be as per the base book, or the book an effect originates from.

Specific rulings:

  1. Stunts of 1 or 2 dice will be relatively easy to obtain. 3-die stunts will not. I don't expect to give each participant more than one per battle, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the level of inspiration I see.
    1. Essence and Willpower are gained if the entire stunt succeeds. If there are multiple actions involved, they must all succeed. However, the successes do not have to be on the bonus dice granted by the stunt. The overall success or failure of the action is what matters.
    2. On contested actions, stunt success is not dependent on beating the opponent. Only successes on the stunting player's roll are needed.
    3. Stunts as Insurance: This definitely applies to combat. If you stunt your defense, your character is guaranteed a saving roll not to die from that attack. However, this doesn't affect the number of health levels taken. Thus, for the purposes of the tournament, this is mostly fluff.
    4. Daredevil and Signature Style: The effects of these Merits stack, and they do increase the stunt reward.
  2. Martial Arts Weapons: as long as you break no Combo rules, I will treat form weapons as unarmed for the purposes of Martial Arts charms of the appropriate style, but as weapons for use in Melee, Archery, or Thrown charms as appropriate.
    1. Note on Combo rules: I read them strictly as written. Up to one Simple, one Extra Action, and any number of Supplemental and Reflexive charms.
    2. The EA, Simple, and Supplemental charms must all be from the same Ability.
    3. The Reflexive charms can be whatever the heck you want.
  3. Applicability of Perfection: To be handled on a case by case basis. However, two things will definitely not be blockable by HGD: mental and social actions. Even though in some senses some of these could be considered attacks, HGD is a perfect parry. With a sword (or other melee weapon...). It will stop arrows, boulders, fireballs, and magical waves of obliteration, but not intimidation.
  4. Multiple Defense Actions: Though you can't have multiple parries or multiple dodges (just one of each), multiple counterattacks are perfectly okay. They are not defenses, because they do not affect the incoming attack.
    1. Multiple counterattacks must come from different charms. So, it would be possible (while wearing Tiger Claws) to combine Angry Predator Frenzy Style and Ready in Eight Directions Stance, as well as using Solar Counterattack and/or a kick attack from Snake Strikes the Heel.
    2. Counterattacks may benefit from applicable, legal supplemental charms, but are under no obligation to do so.

Combat Flow:

  1. Initiative is rolled.
  2. Actions are declared, low to high (might as well, since we're playing by post).
    1. Stunt bonuses are awarded at this time for cool descriptions.
    2. Description goes in the main battle page.
    3. Crunch goes in the system side page.
  3. Actions are resolved, high to low.
    1. Reflexive responses to actions are declared before rolling. I will wait for everyone who needs a chance to respond to post whether or not they do anything before proceeding.
    2. I will make all the rolls, so make sure you post all the modifiers you've got in the system side.
    3. Since I will have made all the rolls, I will award stunt Essence/Willpower at this time.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Other House Rules, which will not be used in this competition.

Greatly Appreciated Comments

Ian, I'm a little off-put by some of these. As mentioned in the [[[BrigandRansom/TrialByFire]]] thread, doubling the WP regained for stunting is serious, and I've never heard of anyone interpreting it that way. I /can/ see it, if all participants agree to it, but it's pretty dang mighty, as it makes WP much less of a precious resource. The hardness discussion you have though is really a serious house rule change - there's no precendent for what you describe, and in fact, many books outright explain that you can't stack hardness, and that it doesn't reduce incoming damage. In your system, hardness is a big deal. I'm not saying it shouldn't be - personally, I'd prefer it your way. But there's no precedent for such a thing, and as these styles were meant to fight people using the canon rules, they don't necessarily have any way to deal with this buffing of hardness. More to the point, armor-wearing styles are greatly helped by this, and unarmored ones are left in the dust. If this were a democracy, I'd vote against it. Other than that, the rest are quite reasonable, and, as you said, merely clarifications of existing rules, or simply pointing out that some commonly ignored rules will be followed. -- GregLink

I'm inclined to stand by my stunt WP ruling. I don't think Exalted combat should be about "conserving precious resources." It should be about looking cool and being awesome.
However, I definitely see your point about Hardness. I missed the line where it's introduced which says "Hardness effects do not stack." Oops.
For orderliness, I've moved the contested rulings to a separate category. If the participants of the tournament unanimously agree to use any of these rulings, they will be used. If not, they're out. After all, I'm just the judge. It's the people testing their MAs who should get to decide the rules of the test. - IanPrice

As I understand it - and correct me if this understanding is erroneous - the purpose of the test is to verify that fan-created Martial Arts trees function properly within the bounds of their respective power tiers, when compared to canon examples of MAs at that level. Changing the stated rules of the game can wildly skew things in one direction or another, giving writers misleading feedback about their creations. On that note, I think the Hardness rule should be omitted outright. The issue of stunt rewards is a bit fuzzier, though. Regardless of whether or not you think that resource management is anathemic to looking cool and being awesome, resource management is a big part of canonical Exalted combat, both before and after Power Combat. Changing the stunt reward ruling doesn't change that fact, but it could skew results. Other than those two, though, your list of interpretations seems fine, though I believe you should make it more clear what you mean about Multiple Defense Actions, as your wording could be read to mean that characters can't both dodge and parry an attack, or that they can decide to use a perfect defense even if an attack got past their other defenses. - David.

I don't disagree with you at all, but it's not my test. It's BrigandRansom's test, and Kurulham's test, and Ambisinister's test, primarily. And anyone else who participates with their own created MA style. So, if they all like either of the contested rules, I'll run with them - because I'm Storytelling and I like them. Given that a huge proportion of actual games will use even more extensive house rules, I doubt it will skew the accuracy of the results that much. Compromises will be necessary in any game, so I'm leaving it to the contenders here.
Incidentally, this means that you can guarantee that I don't use these rules if you enter yourself into the tournament with an MA style you've created. ;) - IanPrice

To be honest, that's one of the reasons why I provided a provision for house rules: Hopefully, there will eventually be more volunteers / players in this little fiasco, and STs would change from match to match, helping to identify how the style performs under different STs. For example, Ian's match with whomever would be run by someone else, with a different set of house rules. But all sides in this argument are correct. I have no problem with your House rules Ian, it's a matter of how Ambisinister and Kurulham feel as well. All participants in a given match should agree to the rules before beginning, players characters and STs alike ~ BrigandRansom, wondering how much less effective Supplication will be with the faster WP regain ;D

Well, I do intend to enter this test, once Fivefold Way of Battles Style is completed. However, until then, I don't have any complete MAs that actually need to be tested, as the few remotely-complete ones are awaiting major revision. Anyway, back on topic - I do understand your stance, BrigandRansom, and I think that could be a valid approach. However, I think the most benefit would arise from going with a hard-line pure-canon set of rules. As you mentioned, there are a lot of house rules out there. I think it's, bluntly, a fool's errand to try to make provisions for house rules, when house rules vary so wildly, from a total revision of the combat system down to ruling that the Empress was a guy. - David.
What, you didn't know it was really Chejop Kejak crossdressing all that time? - IanPrice
Nah, the Bronze Faction collaborated to break the Astrology rules and make a hugeass Resplendent Destiny that they could all use, and have been taking turns playing Empress. :) - David. has pet theories

Oh Ho! Don't think that a lack of a homebrew style precludes you, Canon Styles are more than welcome and are encouraged, since they have probably already passed some sort of trial themselves during playtesting. Kurulham's got an Air Immaculate, and the Character Scrollreader mentioned to me was pure canon as well. By All means, please roll up a 150xp somethinerother! ~ BrigandRansom, studying and reading

Not a bad idea! I might assemble a character, once I'm home and can get at my books. Any particular requests on which canon MA I should build around? - David.
Anything celestial level. Probably not Air Dragon style since we know that'll be represented already. - IanPrice
I'll be bringing in the Martyr with VBoS in a bit as well. - Scrollreader

I'll write up a character when I get home, then. :) While I'm here, though, is there any particular reason that you went for a declare-up, resolve-down approach to the combat flow? - David.

So that there will be some advantage to having a high initiative modifier, which is otherwise neutral to even becoming a disadvantage, especially in Power Combat with the held action penalties. - IanPrice
But there already a rather large advantage, especially if you can force an abort. It's not like MA is crawling with reflexive defenses. Being able to tell, exactly, how many defensive actions you have to split for is ... well, insanely awesome. It's in fact, most likely to my own advantage. But I can't help but feel that it adds another layer of complexity (ala WOD) that I just haven't missed in Exalted at all. - Scrollreader
Despite the majority of participants' charms being MA, that doesn't stop them from having some other combat charms. Certainly nothing stopping anyone from taking Flow Like Blood or some other persistent defense. In any case, due to the fact that I will be doing all the rolls at once, it's no added complexity at all. It simply gives the combatants a structured order to declare their actions in. - IanPrice
And I personally have no problems with this either. I regularly use DUAD (Declare Up, Act Down) in the games I both play in and run. It can get a bit hectic with large numbers of combatants, but with 2 people fighting it's a breeze. Also lends to the cinematic feel in my experience. ~ BrigandRansom, once again with no cute post-sig message

I'd be interesting to try Thirteen Golden Dragons in this one day, although who knows which set of house rules ^_^. But not immediately, at any rate.
-- Darloth

One question I came up with is, how do you define "success" for combat actions(for stunts). Is an attack that hits, but is defended against a "success?"(I would say yes, I prefer people to stunt more when success is NOT assured, but YMMV). -FlowsLikeBits

Good point of clarification. I agree with you. A stunt is successful when you get successes. I stand by my "death prevention" clause, but since that doesn't affect the outcome of combat, it shouldn't matter - IanPrice

Ooh. That's a good question. What seems to be the consensus on this one, I wonder? - David.