The FrivYeti/SolarsVsLion and TonyC/SolarsVsLion competitions, which pitted five solars against a deathlord proved that high-level combat happens quickly and that there is at least one way to take down a deathlord quickly. A constraint of both of these battles, however, is that they were limited to published charms. Since no published charm goes beyond essence 7, the Lion (essence 10) was at a severe disadvantage.
The purpose of this group project is to hypothesize about, and perhaps define, what sort of higher essence charms a Deathlord would need to escape defeat in personal combat at the hands of a circle of solars. Note that most deathlords, controlling vast minions and resources, are probably too clever to face off one vs. five like this, but that's a topic for another page, like DeathlordStrategy or something. This page is about high essence personal combat, ostensibly for NPCs.
As charms increase in essence requirement they are not only more powerful, they are different in terms of both mechanics and possibility. Each exalt type is different, but as you climb the scale, you'll notice certain boundaries of essence requirement where, say, 'army destruction', 'perfection', 'persistence' or other factors are possible when that level is reached, but not before. Charms bend rules and, generally, as you increase the essence requirements, the "class" of rules you can bend increases. The sections that follow suggest ideas of what higher levels might mean for abyssals.
First, some related pages that may be of use, and might be edited along with this page:
One of the more stringent (that is, not violated by published charms) restrictions in Exalted is the "one charm per action" limit. Even using combos, this becomes a "one combo per action" limit. Thus far, the only real way to get around this rule are charms that provide multiple independent actions in a single turn (e.g. Charcoal March of Spiders Form) or charms that allow charms to be invoked as "innate abilities" (e.g. Second Edition's Essence Flow). In some ways, persistence might be viewed as a circumvention of the "one charm per action" limit, albeit one limited to a specific effect. Very high essence charms would probably allow the circumvention or manipulation of this restriction more directly.
At the essence 5 level of combat, willpower management becomes critical, as it effects not only how many combos you can use, but some of the more important charms at that level. In Second Edition, it is also the last line of defense against social attacks. While solars have a few published charms that manipulate willpower, most other exalt types don't have many options (other than really impressive stunts) in this area. High essence charms would probably allow transcendence of the limits in willpower, whether it be from charms that duplicate lower level effects but without willpower cost, easier regeneration of willpower, manipulation of opponent willpower or some other mechanism.
Because of the aforementioned limits of charm activation, being able to control your opponent's charm use is key in high level combat. Published charms to do so (Charm Smothering Technique, Sequential Charm Disruption), however, are both restrictive and expensive. High level charms would almost certainly be able to do this better. In addition, suitable defenses could also be expected, both persistent and instant.
Like charm activation, dice action rules are also something of a strict limit in Exalted. While this limit can be circumvented more easily (with Extra Action charms, pool splitting or just using reflexives) it still can be a resource one can run out of in combat. In the second combat, for example, Lion may have been able to live had he been able to pull a spare dice action out of his hat. High essence charms would probably allow manipulation of dice actions in some way directly.
While high-Essence beings have larger pools than their younger cousins, their Essence pools are by no means infinite. Contrarily, their default Essence pools are perhaps 4 times larger than when they first Exalted, yet charms in the Essence 6 range can easily have costs in the 10-15 mote range. While static increases such as Ox-Body Technique and the flat "10 motes" Abyssal charm can help, to activate a multi-action combo with multiple 15 mote charms can easily cost 75 motes, plus the 'reserve' 40 motes you need in case the opponent launches an equally large combo. Thus, at high Essence levels, both pool increasers and essence regeneration can be key. More poignantly, given the opponent's expected ability to manipulate Essence pools, some means of protections for a character's Essence pool could be key - perhaps some sort of perfect (or near-perfect) defense in regards to Essence manipulation is therefore found in high-Essence combat.
The following list suggests some ideas for high level charms a deathlord might have at his or her disposal:
- Charm or charms capable of canceling charms, combos and/or spells more efficiently than Sequential Charm Disruption.
- Charms that steal Willpower.
- Persistent perfect (or, perhaps, semi-perfect) defenses
- A reflexive that steals opponents dice action for your own use
Charms and Combos
The following charms and combos may help a deathlord out. (Please provide sources and usage limits for each.)
- The sidereal version of Master's Hand Envisioned Anew (lord.157) adds some scary possibilities to deathlords. It actually changes the whole balance of Martial Arts at high essence.
- Dancing with Strife Technique is an instant reflexive Brawl Charm from Cult of the Illuminated. Every time you defend against an attack that recieved more successes then your essence or 5, whichever is lower, you can spend 3 motes to regain 1 temporary willpower. This should fill the Willpower Management role very well indeed.
- Joy in Adversity allows the user to regain essence based on essence level. For reference, FFL is Essence 10.
- Joy in Adversity and Dancing with Strife together allow the user to maintain a high level of use of willpower and motes, potentially indefinitely. Heavenly Guardian Defence, anyone?
Add links to specific charms
Before commenting here, consider that, as a group project, your ideas might be better served by putting them in the body of the article instead. If not, comment away.
One thing that would probably be good to note is that this would looks VERY different between the 2 editions, since the 2 games handle progression differently. SolInvictus might be a good source for this work. Finally, a question, what does "obstensibly" mean? -Azurelight
- "Obstensibly" means much the same as "ostensibly", but spelled wrong. Corrected. -- Wordman
Credit to Casus for the idea of using dancing with Strife with Joy in Adversity. -- Chrysophylax
I would like to point out that in my not at all humble opinion the real threat of a death lord or lady is not their ability to wipe the floor with the Soalrs but rather the fact that they can twist the Solars to obey their will: I would give them charms that allow them to initiate social combat in the midst of physical combat: perhaps some kind of dark version of 'Worldly Illusion'. --Survival is Niffty! 01:05, 5 May 2014 (UTC)