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Most Lunars have crazy good initiative when in DBT - not quite as much as a jade-loaded Terrestrial, but certainly enough to put paid to slower armored troops. Many Lunar Charms depend on initiative order for their effects - their reflexive parries, for example, often only work before initiative. As has been mentioned, a Lunar should decide where in the initiative order he wants to be, and equip Charms and weapons accordingly.
Lunars are relatively bad at standing around and trading blows on a conventional battlefield. They are exceptionally good at fly-by/run-by tactics, ambushes, evasion, and other approaches to combat that involve getting in, hitting hard, and getting out of the way fast.
Specific Lunar mobility enhancers:
- Shapeshifting into animal form (varies)
- The Full Moon anima power (ground move, leaps)
- Deadly Beastman Transformation gifts:
- Lightning Speed (ground move, leaps)
- Fluttering Wings (leaps)
- Soaring Pinions (flight)
- Panther Stride Stance (ground move, leaps)
- Flying Tiger Technique (leaps)
- Tree-Dwelling Jaguar Claws (climbing)
- Cat Paw Climbing Style (climbing)
Since movement is based on Dexterity, and since it occurs on the initiative tick the character acts on, Lunars can very often simply run in, hit their target(s), and keep running, well beyond the one-turn movement allowance of their targets. This restricts their targets to the use of held actions, counterattack Charms, or ranged weapons.
Synergy Opportunities: Dust Devil Advance (which boosts initiative considerably as long as you keep moving), Ground-Denying Defense (if you can't win initiative regardless)
Ideal when the Lunar can consistently win initiative, has superior ground speed, and is not facing opponents with a strong ranged attack. The Lunar remains out of range on any turn in which he does not win initiative, and on those turns he does, he moves toward and past his enemy and attacks one or more times. His opponent's only response would be a Counterattack Charm or a ranged attack, since you cannot abort to an attack. After attacking, the Lunar again moves out of range. With Dexterity 8 (ground movement 20 yards/turn) and the Full Moon anima power, or Panther Stride Stance, you can easily move in, attack, and move away without risking someone catching up to you.
- Using Surprising Gibbon Attack, at a high enough Essence, negates even the option to counterattack in most cases. -- BillGarrett
The Storyteller may of course rule that characters can hold their actions from last turn, but this isn't practical if you also need to devote actions to defense.
Tactic: Flying Archer
Synergy Opportunities: Soaring Pinions (the DBT Gift), Finding the Needle's Eye (to defend against attacks)
Unlike Solars, who need five Charms to fly at all (and who are limited by altitude), Lunars may obtain flight as part of their beginning package if they wish. The Lunar archer who can rely on armor soak, defensive Charms, or a Windhands Gemstone to deflect arrows is well-nigh immune from conventional counterattack. Against sorcerers, countermagic (or, if they are fortunate indeed, the Gem of Sapphire and Emerald) and caution will serve.
A Long Powerbow and a Combo of Eagle-Eye Advantage, Wind-Wings Carry Technique, Lightning Stroke Attack, and Deadly Assassin's Shot can allow a distant Lunar to strike down targets from the air, immune to counterattack and doing devastating damage against all but the hardiest souls.
Lunars have a number of ways to gain extra limbs and use them to bend the rules in all sorts of ways. Generally, limbs and tentacles provide extra actions, additional reach, penalty reduction or evasion of opponent's defenses. Nearly all tentacle-based charms are fully compatible with natural weaponry augmentations like Savage Moonsilver Talons and most of them are comboable.
Charms that extend reach require a bit of subtlety, because Lunars can often just move fast enough (see above) to close the distance, rather than extending their attack range. Range extension, however, can sometimes stack with mobility enhancement (in effect acting as even more mobility enhancement) and can also work in a direction counter to movement or allow action over an area.
Specific Lunar limb/tentacle charms:
- Deadly Beastman Transformation gifts:
- Gift of Hands (pool splitting penalty reduction)
- Arm-Array (pool splitting penalty reduction)
- Monkey Arm Style (range extension)
- Snake Head Defense (limbs with independent actions, prevents surprise)
- Startling Tentacle Attack (multiple bashing attacks)
- Grasping Pseudopod Method (range extension for clinches)
- Tentacle-Spear Strike (multiple attacks at range)
- Weapon-Snatching Coils (semi-perfect disarm at range)
Tactic: Beast Shiva
Synergy Opportunities: Will of the Stoic Warrior (eliminates even more penalties), Calling Luna's Favor (activate outside of beastman form), Limb-Shielding Grown (for shields without mobility penalties)
More useful in beastman form, the idea here is to leverage the Lunar's typically large dice pools, using Arm-Array to split the pool for large numbers of actions. This keeps the Lunar effective without requiring charm activation, which can either allow infinite flexibility with charm application or dramatically sustain fighting longevity. This tactic also has the advantages of working with both armed and unarmed lunar combat styles. Note that, while not stated, the descriptions of Gift of Hands and Arm-Array imply that the lunar doesn't suffer off hand penalties, either.
A peculiarity of Exalted's combat system is that, apart from an off-hand penalty and some rate concerns, there isn't any other mechanical difference between fighting with one sword or two. When using this tactic with weapons, therefore, it is usually of benefit to pick weapons that give a mix of bonuses. For example, a sai (for a disarm bonus), a clinch enhancer, a high-damage weapon, a high defense weapon, a shield.
One use of this tactic that is somewhat ambiguous in the rules is the use of multiple shields at once. In theory, holding a half a dozen shields at the ready would be useful in some cases.
It is an unfortunate fact of post-Player's Guide Exalted that Lunar Combos must stand apart from Martial Arts combos. However, this doesn't mean that having both types of charms is a bad idea. The Lunar ability to control the pace of combat through extreme mobility means it is worthwhile to have different moves to use each turn. After all, each turn will probably see you in a new spot, with new options for your attack overall. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that there's nothing at all stopping a Lunar from using Martial Arts while other persistent charms (such as Deadly Beastman Transformation) are active, or from using their own combat charms while Martial Arts persistent charms (such as Form charms and other useful things) are active. They could even have both types of persistent charms active, and simply choose which combo or charm would work best from turn to turn.
Some styles provide more advantages than others, given the Lunar combat style. My suggestions:
- Tiger Style: Stealthy, fast Lunars will get a lot of mileage out of this style. One big plus is the FOUR persistent charms, as detailed below. This style also explicitly works with claws of all kinds.
- Tiger Form: Makes unarmed damage lethal, and adds MA to unarmed damage. Adds Essence to both soak scores. Gets rid of prone penalties. 'Nuff said.
- Stalking Cat Movement Meditation: Adds dice to both Stealth and Awareness - useful when two assassin types are maneuvering for position.
- Celestial Tiger Hide: Adds MA to both soak scores. Lunars like to be soak-monkeys anyway.
- Angry Predator Frenzy Style: Gives an extra action to use for a defense, which is very nice for Lunar defense charms that require an action. The reflexive counterattacks which can stack up with Crouching Tiger Stance and Snake Body Evasion are also nice.
- Violet Bier of Sorrows Style: Think Lunars have nothing to learn from Sidereals? Think again. The basic Sidereal training in this Celestial level style is incredibly fundamentally useful. I rate this second in usefulness only because of the difficulty of actually convincing anybody to teach it to you. If it were readily learnable by any Lunar, this would be the top style, hands down. Then again, that's true for just about anybody. FIVE persistent charms, each with incredibly useful effects. Not to mention the permanent charm, which Lunars should absolutely love. You can also whip your Moonsilver Daiklave around when using this style, if you should so desire.
- Secrets of Future Strife: Double initiative on the first turn of every combat after you learn this charm. What Lunar wouldn't love this?
- Flight of Mercury: Lunars do love to control their initiative scores. For certain tactics, it's especially good to control the score upwards, and this charm provides.
- Joy in Adversity Stance: Motes of Essence are good things to have. Combined with natural Lunar mote-gaining charms, this could lead to very sustainable combat.
- Blade of the Battle Maiden: Persistent dice adder? Hallelujah! Yet another way to parry lethal, as a side note.
- Violet Bier of Sorrow Form: While the minimum damage increase is less useful in Power Combat (though in a low-Essence game it's not useless; when you can first get the charm, it doubles your minimum damage), damaging Virtues can make combat really short. An opponent with 0 Valor or Conviction, for instance, will probably run away, or otherwise fail to defend himself.
- Conclusion-Pursuing Approach: Sure, Lunars can't go "Screw You" like Sidereals with Prayer Strips can, but this charm regains you willpower. That alone would be worth it, but it also triples the wound penalties your opponent suffers when attacking or defending you. Remember kids, in Power Combat those wound penalties are the only ones that can reduce a dice pool below Essence!
- Celestial Monkey Style: There's only three scene-length charms in this style, and only one is truly useful (though due to the restriction that Virtues of stylists may not exceed 3, the Form charm makes itself useful to practitioners). However, two charms in this style provide permanent benefits, which are also notable.
- Body of War Meditation: Like the Lunar Body-Alteration charms that increase Strength and Dexterity, this takes too much setup time to be universally useful. It also shares the problem of high Essence cost, and the motes are committed. If you can pick and choose your battles, though, this charm can make you terrifying. Lunar Attributes can easily exceed 10, maybe even 15 or 20, when using this charm in combination with others, like DBT.
- Celestial Monkey Form: Though much maligned, this form does have the potent effect that other charms such as Terrifying Apparition of Glory don't affect the character, since she cannot be required to make such tests. Since Raksha and Abyssals both have such charms, this can be useful. Especially to make up for the Virtue restriction of the style.
- Five Halo Golden Monkey Realignment: A full-poool persistent, reflexive parry. With none of the Lunar restrictions. Oh, and the cherry on top is a bonus of Essence dice to MA attacks. What more could you want?
- Walking in the Footsteps of Ten Thousand Things: Difficult to arrange, but this allows you to gain a permanent edge over those pesky recurring rivals. This charm has no inherent limit to the bonus it can offer, and depending on Storyteller interpretation might not count against your dice-adder cap.
- Celestial Godbody Understanding: Armor and weapons provide cheap, easy stat boosts. This charm lets you use them along with this style's charms. This provides for massive synergy, especially with the Lunar charm that allows Melee, Brawl, and Martial Arts to be used interchangably.
- Hungry Ghost Style: Only two persistent charms, but two ways of regaining motes are provided. Charm-Smothering Technique is also a gem, almost as good as (or perhaps in some ways better than) the SMA charms in Soul-Fire Shaper Form from PAoC Style. The ability to damage an opponent's Dexterity at higher levels of this style should also not be underestimated. Also, once again, this is a style that explicitly works well with claws. The Agg-damage pinnacle charm is also worth considering, especially since the style provides two good charms (Shrouded Claw Strike and Lunging Phantom Method) for avoiding enemy defenses.
- Essence-Discerning Glance: See immaterial beings and pay a mote to scrutinize someone's Traits. That latter ability is really quite handy for picking your battles.
- Hungry Ghost Form: Lethal damage, gain a mote for each HL you inflict, and pay 3m to hit an immaterial being. That middle ability is what you'll be buying it for, I guarantee.
- Ebon Shadow Style: This style has four persistent charms, but two of them are odd because they hurt your opponent rather than helping you, and since they require hitting your opponent I consider them less powerful. There are some odd gimmicks in this style, which could be useful or could be useless. Not a style for everybody, but not to be ignored. Blow-Concealing Gesture Technique also provides a perfectly stealthy attack, even in plain sight, which circumvents the usual Lunar difficulty with good defenders.
- Ebon Shadow Form: Initiative += MA, Stealth += Essence, Difficulty to hit += Essence, Choose bashing or lethal damage for MA attacks, and your body disappears upon your death. These are some hefty bonuses, particularly the defense bonus which stacks with both parries and dodges.
- Shadow-Body Style: Can fit through a finger's breadth opening, cannot be identified (highly useful given Lunar Tells!), Bashing Soak += Essence, Lethal Soak += Essence, and you can see in the dark. Who wouldn't want to turn into a shadow?
- Limb-Immobilizing Method: Though it requires an attack and +1 difficulty, paralyzing an opponent's leg or arm can be very bad. Multiple uses of this charm just increase the pain. Unfortunately, this charm can't be Comboed due to its duration, so stealth is your best bet to land it. I recommend going for the legs, to help with the Lunar Hit-and-Run Tactic.
- Paralyzing Touch Attack: No difficulty increase, and full paralysis. This charm is very much worth the increase in price over the previous one, because it is capable of ending any fight in a single blow if it lands. Once again: launching this one from stealth is paramount, because of non-combo-ness.
- Snake Style: Only two persistent charms here, making it low on my list, but there's one to screw your opponent again and the Agg-pinnacle is more powerful in a basic way than the Hungry Ghost pinnacle, though without the extremely good Supplemental charms to back it up. Uncoiling Serpent Prana is a good choice for mobile Lunars as well.
- Snake Form: Initiative += MA, Bashing Soak += MA, Enemy Die Pool -= Essence. The lack of Lethal soak with this charm by itself hurts it in comparison to other Forms.
- Essence Fangs and Scales Technique: MA Damage = Lethal & Piercing, Lethal Soak = Bashing Soak. This solves the problem of the Form charm, but since this charm prevents even form weapons from being used, it is once again inferior. Unless, of course, your Storyteller rules that claws which are a part of your body are OK for MA styles that don't specifically allow Tiger Claws. Then Lunars don't have to care much about this restriction.
- Mantis Style: With only one persistent charm, this style pretty much sucks for Lunars. However, its many other charms are generally better than what any individual Lunar charm does for the same purpose, or at least as good. Iron Arm Block is vastly superior to Steel Paw Style, for instance. The form also has a large number of bonuses, and some of the Clinch charms could flow into further turns which use Lunar clinch charms instead, or could be used after a Lunar clinch initiation. Overall, I recommend this style only to experienced Lunars who have already mastered another MA and are looking for more options on that road, or to grapplers.
- Mantis Form: Initiative += MA, Bashing Soak += MA, Lethal Soak += MA, Can parry lethal damage unarmed, MA Damage = Lethal, and can abort to Full Parry that is unlimited by Rate and always stays at full Dex + MA pool. This Form does it all. You can't get more out of a single form in Celestial Martial Arts.
- Honorable Mention: Righteous Devil Style. This style has a charm which is entirely useless to non-Solars. However, attacking from range with Firewands is something anybody can enjoy, and Lunars can pair this off with their powerful Thrown charms.
- Dishonorable Mention: Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style. Though one of the basic charms, Pearlescent Filigree Defense, could be useful as a persistent soak adder, going further in the style is impossible due to the need for Solar Socialize charms. The Form is accessible, and provides the intriguing ability to control multiple form weapons, but this is as far as it is possible to go with this style for a Lunar. Due to non-combo-ness, this style is the worst possibility for Lunars.
Don't forget the flight gifts for DBT. I can't remember their names right now, but I'll look them up on the Wiki and post them here. Another neat thing about high-mobility Lunars is that they can pretty easily move at least as fast as characters using certain flight Charms, and thus benefit from the fly-by rules in Power Combat. Also another great way for Lunars to take control of the flow of combat. - David.
- Added gifts. -- BillGarrett
Added extensive MA ramblings. - IanPrice
- I think you've undervalued Snake Style for Lunars. Yes, there are only two persistants - but getting them both is only a four-charm investment. Assuming natural weaponry is cool with EFaST (which I'd expect to be the case), you have a nice mix of offensive and defensive bonuses which nicely supplement just about any unarmed fighting style. Also, I think you are misreading Body of War Meditation - I don't know why people seem to think it includes massive set up time. -szilard
- Well, your Snake mileage may vary. I tend to think it's underpowered just because of power creep; but really, I don't think it's bad. I just think the styles I mentioned first are better.
- As for BoWM, consider this: "The Exalt brgins a meditative prana that takes about 20 minutes to complete." Everybody I've talked to so far interprets that to mean that you don't get the stat bonuses until you've prepared for 20 minutes, and then they last a scene. I assume you are interpreting that to be an in-text reference to the duration of the charm? - IanPrice
- Yes. It is, after all, Body of War MEDITATION... and a scene is said to last about 20 minutes. It is poorly worded, but I think that's the most reasonable reading. -szilard
- Well, I'd definitely take Monkey Style if I were in your game, in that case. I'll run that by my current ST as well. - IanPrice
- I put this under a "Martial Arts" heading. I'll probably add some notes on MA interaction with Lunar Charms (sans Comboing) when I have more time. -- BillGarrett
I think Five-Dragon is also pretty useful for lunars, particularly soak monkeys or those who only want charms up to a form. -- Wordman
- I don't really see how. Blocking Technique is useless to them; if a Lunar wanted a three-die defense, they'd split their dice pool ten times and use the Tentacle Array. Fortitude isn't much better; they can buy soak with Charms, gifts, and just plain high Stamina, and unlike DBs, they can't use it reflexively unless they're willing to sacrifice the use of their other, better defensive Charms (given the choice between Snake-Body Defense and Five-Dragon Fortitude, I know which is my favorite). The offensive Charms are scarcely better; to do lethal damage, a Lunar has much better options. And the Form Charm is just plain useless, not to mention pricy beyond belief (five MA Charms costs them 75 xp). Vargo Teras
- Five-Dragon-Force Blow is very, very nice for a Lunar. Given that a starting Lunar can have a Str of 18 in DBT, being able to double your base damage for 2m can be very ugly. - Hapushet
- True, if you can afford to leave yourself defenseless for the turn. Still, it seems more accurate to say that Five-Dragon-Force Blow is a good Charm for Lunars than to say that the style as a whole is useful. Vargo Teras
- Generally, any character that isn't particularly focussed on combat can be made more viable cheaply by getting up to Five-Dragon Form. Some of the charms are better for lunars compared to other characters and some are worse. So, it's not for every lunar, but can help certain kinds.
- Five-Dragon Fortitude: As Vargo says, not as useful for lunars, because they have other soak augmentation. Still, if you've buit your character around something other than soak augmentation, can provide last ditch defense.
- Five-Dragon Blocking: scene-length reflexive defense (rare for lunars) that also augments parries, which means they can split their pool ten times, use the Tentacle Array, and get free dice. As well as parry prior to initiative. Not much of a pool of course, but it's better than nothing.
- Five-Dargon Claw: Functionally equivilant to Body Weapon, so useful only if you're not looking to dive into the unarmed combat tree.
- Five-Dragon-Force Blow: Doubling base damage useful, as is knockdown. It would be more useful if it were reflexive, but again, provides decent flexibility cheaply for characters not focussed on combat.
- Five-Dragon Form: Soak lethal attacks with bashing soak for the scene, usable with armor. Also augments running speed and jumping distance. Stacks well with DBT and lunar soak charms, but, again, most useful because it provides fairly effective defence for not much investment.
- - Wordman
- Five Dragon Fortitude is Great for Lunars, as it provides hardness after 12 soak. So you could get really nasty with it if you're already a soak monkey. This is particularly useful post Power Combat. - Issaru
In Charms, you may want to mention Snake Body Technique and Crouching Tiger Stance specifically. They're also mentioned in PC255, but it bears repeating-- full, or larger, reflexive defenses, and Snake Body does't have a limitation on when it can be used, with the exception of counterattacks (which require you to seize the initiative in the first place. Snake Body Technique also has the benefit of being a part of the chain including the Lunar Initiative bonus, which also leads to their offensive unarmed die-adder, and, with Charms bushing off from Deadly Claw Blow, eventually comes back to the wonderful "I pick when I go and it hurts you" Coiled Cobra Stance. Actually, Unarmed combat I and II are both pretty nasty, with few speedbumps other than Body Weapon Technique, which starts the dance. -- IsawaBrian